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Week two of the college football season gave area fans plenty of opportunities to enjoy antiquing and apple-picking…with an underwhelming schedule that saw a blast from the past.  For anyone growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s in the Northeast, Penn State playing Pitt was our USC-UCLA.  Three National Championships over an 11-year span with more than a couple near-misses. Two Heisman Trophy winners along with a slew of All-Americans who would make their mark in the NFL.  These November showdowns would often determine the defacto “Eastern Independent” champ as well as carry National title ramifications.  Unfortunately when Penn State made the Big Ten 11 schools this annual matchup was one of the casualties (along with the death of accurate conference math).  Pitt in many ways suffered an identity crisis (calling itself Pittsburgh and having a panther on their helmets? sacrilege!).  As the two schools prepared to face off for the first time since 2000, Penn State coach James Franklin said this wasn’t really much of a rivalry.  That angered Pitt fans almost as much as Dan Marino’s 4 interceptions in the 1981 game that derailed a #1 season.  Saturday at Heinz Field they put the ketchup back in the bottle as the Panthers outscored the Nittany Lions 42-39 in the first game in a four-year series.  Here’s hoping this becomes an annual affair.  Perhaps Maryland and Virginia can take note and the former ACC foes can become non-conference bros.

Alma Mater Update- I guess the orange on orange uniform choice wasn’t enough to distract fans from the fact that the defense was allowing 62 points.  For comparison, eight times last winter Syracuse basketball fans left the Carrier Dome having allowed fewer than 62 points.  During the run to the Final Four the Orange coughed up 51, 50, 60 & 62 points in the NCAA Tournament.  Saturday Louisville’s Lamar Jackson turned SU inside-out with 411 yards passing and 199 yards rushing.  The Cardinals’ last two scores came on big plays right after an Orange turnover. On the bright side, it was nice to see former Terp Amba Etta-Tawo shine at wide receiver… notching 8 catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns.  SU now gets games with South Florida and UConn before facing Notre Dame.

Maryland (2-0) ran away from FIU (DON’T CALL THEM Florida International) in a 41-14 Friday night laugher reminiscent of an old episode of Perfect Strangers.  Another week of dominating on all phases of the game.  Question is, are the Terps this good or are their opponents (0-4 combined) that bad?  Terrapin Triumphs- Perry Hills threw three touchdown passes and stretched the field this week, averaging 15+ yards per completion. D.J. Moore caught two of those scores while tallying 6 receptions for 147 yards.  The running back rotation delivered again, averaging over 5 yards a carry.  The defense handcuffed the Golden Panthers for a good part of the game while Jermaine Carter Jr. returned an interception for a touchdown.  Terrapin Troubles- EIGHT penalties for 85 yards will give the coaching staff a lot of “teaching opportunities” this week.  The offense converted just 4 of  12 third down attempts.  Next- Saturday at 1-1 UCF (DON’T CALL THEM CENTRAL FLORIDA!), 7 p.m.

Navy (2-0) let a three-touchdown first half lead evaporate before rallying and then needing a goal-line stand to beat UConn 28-24.  The Huskies are  hardly the toughest team in the AAC, squeaking past Maine (?) the week before.  Midshipmen Medals- Will Worth in his first career start ran for a pair of touchdowns while completing 6 of 8 passes…including 4 to Jamir Tillman.  Alohi Gillman tallied 10 tackles, a forced fumble plus two fumble recoveries (one run back for a TD).  Midshipmen Miscues- the defense allowed the Huskies to complete 24 of 27 passes.  And yet the Huskies still ran on the games final play-their fault.  Next- Saturday at 1-1 Tulane, 7 p.m.

Virginia Tech (1-1) started strong but faded against #17 Tennessee in a 45-24 defeat at Bristol Motor Speedway in front of a record 150,000 fans.  Unfortunately, I believe fans are still trying to leave the parking lot at this moment.  Hokie Highlights- after gaining 39 yards in the opener against Liberty, Travon McMillan ran for 127 yards and a score.  Linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka tallied 15 tackles while directing a defense that held the Volunteers to 3-13 on third down.  Hokie Humblings- five fumbles (!)  lost  with four of them setting up short fields en route to 24 UT points. The defense allowed up 5.2 yards per carry.  And what was the deal with those uniforms? Were they going for the “pavement look”?  Next- Saturday vs 1-1 Boston College, 3:30 p.m.

Virginia (0-2) was blinded by the Oregon offense and Duck uniforms in a 44-26 loss at Eugene.  Earlier in the week coach Bronco Mendenhall said the Richmond defeat showed how far they had to go in this program reconstruction…and this loss perhaps highlighted some of the possibilities of this year’s team.  Cavalier Congrats- after the entire team was held to 38 yards rushing in the opener, Albert Reid ran for 126 yards and a touchdown against the Ducks.  Twin defensive stoppers Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding each notched 9 tackles to lead the team.  Cavalier Concerns- the defense coughed up 632 total yards.  That is not a misprint.  Kurt Benkert threw two interceptions and barely completed 50% of his passes, despite averaging under 10 yards per completion.  Next- Saturday at 1-1 UConn, 1:30 p.m.

 

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