PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

When Maryland joined the Big Ten, the league realigned from the ridiculously named “Leaders” and “Legends” into the more standard east and west divisions.  And unlike an SEC which has Missouri in their East, it’s actually geographically accurate.  But that meant the Terps would be joining a division that featured perennial powerhouses Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan plus scrappy-little-brother-who-consistently-overachieves Michigan State.  A little over one week removed from the game of the year (at least for that week) that saw Ohio State rally against previously unbeaten Penn State, the Big Ten East is officially hurting.  The Nittany Lions’ loss at Michigan State amidst lightning delays would be easier to stomach if the Spartans didn’t lose the previous weekend at Northwestern.  But Ohio State’s 31-point loss at Iowa gives the Buckeyes resume another bad defeat (worse than the 15-point loss at home to a top-five Oklahoma)…and Michigan has been an afterthought since their blowout loss to Penn State.  Although they do play unbeaten Wisconsin in a few weeks and can blow up the Badgers’ playoff hopes.  Sometimes a conference just happens to eat its own.

Playoff Fantasty Field– all right, the Eight is Enough for this week says goodbye to the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, with TCU claiming they’re hosed.

#1 Alabama (SEC) vs #8 Washington (Pac 12)

#4 Clemson (ACC) vs #5 Oklahoma (Big 12)

#2 Georgia (Wildcard-1) vs Miami (Wildcard-3)

#3 Notre Dame (Wildcard-2) vs Wisconsin (Big Ten)

Schedule the quadrupleheader for December 16–and I might even skip postgaming Syracuse-Georgetown to watch.

 

Alma Mater Update- two trips into the Sunshine state and two agonizing losses.  SU’s three-point loss at Florida State means they have go 2-1 against Wake Forest, Louisville and Boston College to become bowl-eligible.  While it’s nice to see the Orange not getting blown out 59-3, having covered Maryland in its ACC days I know that wins in Tallahassee are few and far between.  They might not have as good a chance as they did last weekend for another decade.

 

Navy (5-3, 2-3 AAC) lost at Temple Thursday evening 34-26…almost removing itself from the West Division race with three conference games to play.  The one-time foregone conclusion of six wins and a bowl is still rosy…but with plenty of thorns as their final four foes this fall own a combined 23-9 record.  Midshipmen Medals: forced to the air, Zach Abey and Garret Lewis combined to complete 12 of 18 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns.  Malcolm Perry had 4 catches for 94 yards and added a 58 yard kickoff return.  Micah Thomas tallied 10 tackles to lead the defense.  Bennett Moehring kicked a 48-yard field goal.  Midshipmen Miscues: the running game was held to 2.6 yards per carry, netting a season-low 136 yards.  No sacks for a defense that allowed the Owls to convert 8 of 13 third downs.  Seven penalties on the day.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 6-2 SMU.

 

Maryland (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) lost at Rutgers 31-24 as another quarterback went down to injury.  Their bowl hopes took a major hit as well…now needing two wins in three weeks against foes that are a combined 21-6.  Terrapin Triumphs:  fourth string QB Ryan Brand came off the bench to lead the Terps within a whisker of tying this one up in the fourth quarter, completing 8 of 12 passes in a relief role.  DJ Moore notched eight receptions-for the season the junior has caught 48% of the team’s completed passes.  Isaiah Davis tallied 11 tackles to pace the defense.  Terrapin Troubles:  the defense coughed up 239 yards on the ground an allowed the Scarlet Knights to convert 8 of 14 third downs.  Ten penalties for 65 yards-including a hold on what would have been a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.  The fading potential of Caleb Henderson saw the UNC transfer compete for the starting quarterback job in spring–only to pull a Daxx Garman impersonation and turn into the fifth option.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 7-2 Michigan.

 

Virginia (6-3, 3-2 ACC) snapped a two-game slide and rallied from a 28-13 third quarter deficit in its 40-36 win over Georgia Tech.  It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but UVa is now BOWL BOUND BABY!  Even if it does mean a trip to Annapolis.  Cavalier Congrats:  Micah Kiser tallied 18 tackles while the defense notched five sacks and a pair of interceptions.  Olamide Zaccheaus caught nine passes for 98 yards.  Joe Reed returned a kickoff 92 yards for a TD–a score that kept the Cavs within reach at halftime.  Cavalier Concerns:  Kurt Benkert completed under 50% of his passes as the offense converted just 4 of 17 third downs.  The big play burned the defense again- as they allowed a 78-yard TD run this week.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 at 5-4 Louisville.

 

#13 Virginia Tech (7-2, 3-2 ACC) saw its Coastal Division bubble burst in a 28-10 loss at #9 Miami.  Entering November we were still curious as to how good this team was–and while they’re much better than the Dukes and North Carolinas they’re just not as elite as the Hurricanes and Clemson.  Hokie Highlights:  Miami isn’t that much better…as VT had more first downs and won the time of possession.  The defense notched three interceptions and held the Canes in check for much of the evening.  Cam Phillips caught 7 passes for 101 yards.  Hokie Humblings:  four turnovers on the road against an unbeaten team will never help you.  Neither will allowing four sacks and converting just 3 of 14 third downs.  Even accounting for the sacks, the running game averaged just over three yards per carry.  Next:  Saturday at 12:20 at 4-4 Georgia Tech.

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