PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

On college football’s front page the DMV lays decidedly below-the-fold.  Yes, Virginia Tech has dominated the ACC’s weaker division and Navy plays Army every December, but for the most part those schools plus Maryland and Virginia are watching the party rather than being in the middle of it.  And then there’s Howard– an FCS school in the MEAC that has more ten-loss seasons over the last decade than winning campaigns.  If the DMV is below the fold, the Bison are tucked in the second-to-last page next to the car ads.  So when former Richmond and Virginia coach Mike London took over the program last offseason, the usual shrugs and nods were given.  The opening week slate that had Howard visiting UNLV didn’t really catch our eyes- the Bison have served as September cannon fodder for the likes of Maryland, Boston College and Rutgers over the last few years.  The fact that HU was a 45-point underdog was no surprise.  But the 43-40 upset was;  somehow Caylin Newton (younger brother of Cam) tallied 330 yards of offense against the Rebels and Howard stole the Labor Day weekend thunder away from the likes of Alabama, Michigan and even Maryland.  The Bison battle Kent State in week two.  I’ll be watching.

Alma Mater Update- so the Orange didn’t cover the 46-point spread.  And it wasn’t a victory over Connectict…but Central Connecticut State.  And yes, SU was held to under four yards per carry.  But even though they were held in check after jumping out to an early 21-0 lead, Dino Babers’ team is 1-0.  And at least the defense didn’t cough up 76 points.  With games against Middle Tennessee and Central Michigan up next, I’m hoping we’ll be called “the worst 3-0 team in the nation”.  Meaning I’m hoping the Orange can put together two more wins before their trip to (gulp) LSU.

 

Maryland won the early part of Saturday with a 51-41 victory over #23 Texas.  While the Longhorns probably shouldn’t have been ranked, this is still a win at a highly regarded foe.  And potentially a program-changing triumph in coach DJ Durkin’s early tenure.  More than a statement, this felt like an exclamation.  Now for the bad news:  quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome (ACL tear) and Jessie Aniebonam (fractured ankle) are done for the year.  Terrapin Triumphs: the true sophomore Pigrome completed 9 of 12 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 64 yards and another score.  Jermaine Carter notched seven tackles and two sacks.  Special teams blocked two field goals…returning one back for a TD.  Terrapin Troubles: the kicking game giveth, the kicking game taketh away:  Texas scored on a punt return as well as a blocked field goal.  The offense converted just 3 of 11 third downs.  The defense coughed up 482 yards.  Ten penalties (and nine after halftime) will get a second look on film-review day.  Next: Saturday against 1-0 Towson.

 

Virginia turned back the CAA demons of years past in a 28-10 win over William & Mary.  It’s the first time the Cavs have won their season opener since 2013.  Cavalier Congrats: Kurt Benkert threw for 262 yards and three scores while directing a turnover-free offense.  The tailback tandem of Jordan Ellis and Daniel Hamm tallied 115 yards on 26 carries…providing a nice counterpoint to Benkert’s passing.  Malcolm Cook’s 13 tackles and a sack led a defense that held the Tribe to 1 of 11 on third down conversions.  Just three penalties for 15 yards.  Cavalier Concerns:  Tough to find a flaw in a double-digit home win.  Benkert did throw a ton of short stuff (under 10 yards per completion) which worked against a CAA team…how will that work in the ACC?  Next: Saturday against 0-1 Indiana.

 

Virginia Tech wrapped up the local weekend with a 31-24 thriller over #22 West Virginia.   For the first time in a while, FedEx Field felt like a really cool stadium.  It’s a shame these two former Eastern Independents/Big East Conference foes can’t get together once every four years.   Hokie Highlights:  Josh Jackson in his first game as a starter passed for 235 yards and a touchdown while running for 101 more and another score.  Offensive balance had the Hokies running for 234 yards and passing for 235.  Andrew Motuapuaka tallied 12 tackles while the defense held the Mountaineers to 5 of 19 on third down.  Oscar Bradburn averaged 46.5 yards on eight punts.   Hokie Humblings:  Joey Slye missed a pair of field goals…inclulding a 32-yarder that would have made it a two-possession game with under two minutes left in regulation.  The defense coughed up 592 yards and allowed West Virginia to drive the length of the field in the final minute of play.  Next:  Saturday vs 1-0 Delaware.

 

Navy began the weekend with a Friday night kickoff…and a Saturday morning lightning delay in its 42-19 win over Florida Atlantic.  I doubt they made a whole weekend of it in Boca Raton by showering on Sunday and flying back on Monday.  Midshipman Medals:  Zach Abey ran for 235 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for another score…as the ground game gained 416 yards.  Sean Williams led the defense with eight stops.  Midshipmen Miscues:  three lightning delays?  I’m going to say the “multiple lightning delay playbook” didn’t exist before last Friday–now it does.  The Mids missed a 29-yard field goal and averaged under 35 yards per punt (even though there were no touchbacks).  Next: Saturday vs 1-0 Tulane.  Already looking into the weather forecast. 

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