Archives for posts with tag: Clemson

Haven’t we been here before?  December brings disappointment for 3-5 schools as has been the case since the College Football Playoff began.  I’ve written so many “eight is enough” columns over the years I’m starting to sing like Grant Goodeve.  This year it almost feels as though spots in the playoff field weren’t as much won as not lost.  Once again the Big Ten and Pac 12 champs find themselves on the outside looking in…although at least this year they have the Rose Bowl to play in.  UCF if they beat LSU in the Fiesta Bowl will likely hand out rings that say “National Champions”.  And Georgia will rue that fake punt on fourth and 11…knowing how razor-thin the margin for playoff inclusion is.  Not having an eight-team playoff field sucks.  But this is the world we live in…

If the BCS were still kicking around, Notre Dame would be arguing for inclusion instead of a Clemson team that allowed 35 points to South Carolina (the Irish allowed 54 points in four November games) after winning the ACC in a down year for the league.  Oklahoma would claim that its Big 12 title win over Texas more than erased their regular season loss to the Longhorns…to no avail.  And if the old bowl system were still in place, #1 Alabama would face #2 Clemson in the Sugar while #3 Notre Dame would face #4 Oklahoma in the Orange.  Going back further, at least they award the championships post-bowls.  Minnesota in 1960 and Alabama in 1964 kept their titles despite January defeats and Notre Dame won the 1966 title despite not even participating in a bowl.  So bear with the larvae stage of the college football postseason…and gear up for a better process in eight years.


Virginia Tech (6-6) salvaged its season further by beating Marshall 41-20.  The Hokies keep their postseason streak alive thanks to consecutive wins.  Hokie Highlights:  Ryan Willis threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns.  Rayshard Ashby tallied 15 tackles to lead the defense that notched two takeaways and handcuffed the Thundering Herd for the first three quarters.  Hokie Humblings:  the offense converted just 4 of 13 third downs while the defense did cough up a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns.  The sad part about finally putting together two solid efforts is one asks where this team was when they were losing four straight.  Next:  December 31st against Cincinnati at the Military Bowl in Annapolis.


James Madison (9-4) saw its season end with a 23-20 loss at Colgate in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.  The defeat also saw the end of the Mike Houston era:  three years and a 37-6 record before he went to East Carolina (after reportedly being bound for Charlotte).  Such is the cost of being a perennial FCS contender.  May the next coach be as successful.  Duke Do’s:  the running game gained 200 yards against a defense that allowed 5.7 points per game during the regular season.  Duke Don’ts:  Ben DiNucci threw five interceptions.  Next:  August 31, 2019 at West Virginia.



On a weekend where Maryland and Navy were idle while Virginia and Virginia Tech were on the road, the spotlight shined on the Commonwealth’s Capital as James Madison roasted Richmond 63-10.  As September ends, the #2 team in FCS appears to be on another collision course with North Dakota State.  Concerns that Ben DiNucci wouldn’t be able to pick up where Bryan Schor left off were unfound, the junior is completing over 70% of his passes and he’s hurting teams with his feet as well.  Senior runningback Marcus Marshall is is taking his final trip through the CAA in style, averaging 8.8 yards per carry.

But what puts this year’s team on track for a fourth straight conference championship is a defense that has allowed just a pair of touchdowns since their opening-day loss at NC State.  Saturday the Dukes forced five turnovers against the Spiders.  JMU’S Jimmy Moreland returned one of the team’s three interceptions 100 yards for a touchdown…taking the highlight thunder away from Jawon Hamilton who returned the opening kickoff for a TD.  That’s right– JMU shines on special teams too:  D’Angelo Amos ran a punt back for a score against Norfolk State and averages 23.6 yards per return (foes now wisely kick out of bounds).

October’s schedule features three games against teams that were ranked heading into last weekend:  #9 Elon, #14 Villanova and #17 Stony Brook…with the Wildcats game the only one on the road.  Three tough tests that will show if JMU fans should be making plans for early-January.


Alma Mater Update- Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.  Syracuse led #3 Clemson 23-13 early in the fourth quarter only to lose 27-23.  The offense grinded to a near-halt after halftime and the defense couldn’t deny the Tigers down the stretch.  Two fourth down plays loom large:  a fourth and one conversion for the offense called back because of an illegal man downfield–and a fourth and six conversion by Clemson on what would be the game-winning drive.  Instead of the school’s first 5-0 start since 1987, it’s games against Coastal Division bottom-feeders Pitt and North Carolina before tangling with NC State.  The biggest bummer about Saturday’s loss– the chances to win at a power like Clemson are few and far between, and unfortunately just like last year at Florida State (27-24 defeat), Miami (27-19 loss) and LSU (35-26 disappointment) the Orange came up short on the road.


Virginia (3-2, 1-1 ACC) enters its bye week on a bad note;  the 35-21 loss at NC State gives coach Bronco Mendenhall plenty to work  with before they resume conference play against the Coastal Division favorite.  Cavalier Congrats:  Olamide Zaccheaus caught nine passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns while leading the team with 39 rushing yards.  Silver Spring’s Charles Snowden paced the defense with 11 tackles.  Punter Lester Coleman averaged 48.8 yards per kick.  Cavalier Concerns:  the defense failed to generate a three and out…and allowed the Wolfpack to convert 8-of-13 third downs.  The running game managed just 3.2 yards per carry, with Jordan Ellis once again unable to produce against an ACC foe (he’s gained 98 yards on 33 tries in two conference games).  Next: October 13 against 4-1 Miami.


Virginia Tech (3-1, 2-0 ACC) bounced back from its loss at Old Dominion to defeat #22 Duke 31-14.  Coach Justin Fuente has to be road-wary by now, as three of his team’s four games to start the season have come away from Blacksburg.  Hokie Highlights:  Kansas-transfer Ryan Willis stepped in for the injured Josh Jackson and threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns.  Houshun Gaines tallied 2.5 sacks while Rayshard Ashby notched 15 tackles…as the defense held the Blue Devils to 4-16 on third down.  Hokie Humblings: the running game was held in check, managing 81 yards on 41 carries.  VT was fortunate to recover both of their fumbles; one was inside their own 10-yard line.  Next: Saturday at #8 Notre Dame.



There’s another weekend before the bowls?  Really?  Conference championships are decided Friday and Saturday with the area schools mostly idle-unlike last December when Virginia Tech was bettered by eventual national champ Clemson and Navy lost to Temple (ugh) at home (double ugh).  At least we have James Madison (unbeaten and top ranked defending champ James Madison, that is) in FCS Playoff Action.  So even though one’s school might not be in action this weekend, you can still insert yourself into the conversation.


Friday’s Game:

Pac-12 Championship- #10 USC (10-2) plays #12 Stanford (9-3), 8 p.m. (ESPN).

At stake: neither has a great shot at making the College Football Playoff, and with the Rose Bowl serving as one of the semifinal games the winner won’t even get a trip to Pasadena.  Plus, this game is at 5 p.m. local time…on a Friday?  Even the MAC gets a Saturday kickoff.

Rematch?:  USC won 42-24 September 10th.

Who to Watch: Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold began the year as the Heisman favorite, and Cardinal runningback Bryce Love is a strong contender for the honor.  Both have nightmares of being drafted by Cleveland.

Notable Fact: unlike the other leagues, the Pac-12 name actually reflects its membership number.

Presto’s Pick:  Trojans triumph, 31-17.


Saturday’s Games-

AAC Championship- #14 UCF (12-0) vs #20 Memphis (10-1), noon (ABC).  

At stake: the right to be the really angry “group of five/Mid-Major” school left out of the playoff despite a conference title and a great record.  Plus the winning coach takes a leap in the “hot coaching commodity contest”.

Rematch?: UCF won 40-13 September 30th.

Who to Watch: UCF’s McKenzie Milton sounds like a shirt from Vineyard Vines…but the dual threat quarterback is averaging 326 yards passing per game this month and has run for a TD in five straight games.  Tigers QB Riley Ferguson is just as impressive.

Notable Fact:  both teams beat Navy and the Knights routed Maryland in College Park.

Presto’s Pick: Knights tame the Tigers, 37-28.


Big 12 Championship- #3 Oklahoma (11-1) vs #11 TCU (10-2), 12:30 p.m. (FOX)

At Stake:  Sooners need a win or they’d likely slip behind Alabama and out of the playoffs. Horned Frogs need a win plus a measles epidemic to make the Final Four.

Rematch?:  Oklahoma won 38-20 November 11th.

Who to Watch: OU quarterback Baker Mayfield is on his way to the Heisman Trophy, while TCU defensive linemen Ben Banogu and Ross Blacklock will try to keep him off-balance.

Notable Fact:  the Big 12 is the only conference to have a championship game despite not having divisions, which is why the conference championship game was created in the first place.

Presto’s Pick:  Sooners stumble, 44-38.


FCS Second Round-#1 James Madison (11-0) vs #10 Stony Brook (10-2), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

At Stake: a berth in the quarterfinals and bragging rights between conference foes that haven’t met since 2015.

Players to Watch: Bryan Schor led the Dukes to the National Championship last year and picked up where he left off this fall.  Seawolves running back Donald Liotine led the CAA in scoring.

Notable Fact: home teams went 5-3 last weekend in the first round of the tournament after going 17-5 in 2016.

Presto’s Pick:  Dukes dominate, 34-16.


SEC Championship- #2 Auburn (10-2) vs #6 Georgia (11-1), 4 p.m. (CBS).

What’s at Stake:  automatic berth for the winner…with the knowledge that Alabama will be sweating until Tuesday evening.  Loser knows they had a chance and blew it.

Rematch?:  Auburn won 40-17 November 11th.

Who to Watch:  Kerryon Johnson ran for 167 yards against Georgia three weeks ago, while Bulldogs tailback Nick Chubb was held to 27 yards on 11 tries.

Notable Fact:  CBS announcer Brad Nessler used to call Atlanta Falcons games at their old stadium–not the Georgia Dome but Fulton County Stadium in the 1980’s.

Presto’s Pick:  Tigers by a nose, 23-20.


ACC Championship- #1 Clemson (11-1) vs #7 Miami (10-1), 8 p.m. (ABC).

At Stake:  the winner makes the Playoff while the loser should be cursing their loss to a sub-500 Syracuse or Pitt.

Rematch?:  No.  Although in 2015 the Tigers torched the Hurricanes 58-0 in Al Golden’s final game as coach. Enter Mark Richt.

Who to Watch: can Miami QB Malik Rosier bounce back from his subpar effort against Pitt?  Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell had 8 sacks to finish second in the ACC…and will have a say in Rosier’s play.

Notable Fact: this is Miami’s first-ever trip the ACC Championship Game–while Virginia Tech has been to the most (3-3 in six appearances).

Presto’s Pick: Tigers triumph, 30-22.


Big Ten Championship- #4 Wisconsin (12-0) vs #8 Ohio State (10-2), 8 p.m. (FOX).

At Stake:  a Badgers win would lock up a playoff berth as welll as quiet naysayers about their soft schedule.  A Buckeyes victory would likely send Alabama to the Playoff-making OSU fans whine about not being included despite winning their league (a criteria ignored last year when they made the playoff and Penn State was excluded).

Rematch?: they didn’t meet this year-but the Buckeyes butchered the Badgers 59-0 in 2014.

Who to Watch:  OSU QB JT Barrett led the Buckeyes to the national title as a freshman–he’ll play Saturday despite having “minor” knee surgery this week.  Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is the league’s leading rusher, averaging 7 yards per carry and 150 yards per game.

Notable Fact:  Maryland has as many conference championship game appearances as Michigan.

Presto’s Pick:  Buckeyes blow up the bracket, 24-20.


Playoff Party—

#1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma

#2 Auburn vs #3 Alabama


Last Week: 2-1.

Overall: 74-25.



There’s always that October weekend when the herd of unbeaten teams gets thinned out in the most peculiar ways.  I’m going to say very few people had a Syracuse team that had lost at home to Middle Tennessee last month beating the defending national champs…especially after Clemson crushed the Orange 54-0 last season.  The Pac-12 received a double shot with losses by previously unbeaten Washington and Washington State…making the upcoming Apple Cup a little sour.  Even non Power Five Conference schools feel the mid-October sting with San Diego State slipping…and we won’t get into Navy just yet.  Enjoy the pumpkin spice lattes.


The biggest October surprise in the area of course is off the field.  It’s only fitting that news of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson’s departure came on a gameday in College Park:  news of the ACC’s expansion (Syracuse and Pitt) was bubbling the day the Terps lost to West Virginia (the beginning of the end of the Danny O’Brien era) and Maryland’s move to the Big Ten was percolating the day they lost to Florida State (that was the year they were starting a scout team linebacker at quarterback).  Anderson was not at Saturday’s game with Northwestern–and Athletic Directors are almost always attending games involving their high-profile sports.  How long was he actually absent?  The school finally got ahead of the story (or alongside it) by saying Monday he would be taking a sabbatical.

If this is the end of the Anderson era, it certainly hasn’t been a quiet seven years.  Within two years of taking the job in September 2010, he fired a popular football coach in Ralph Friedgen and had to replace an even more popular men’s basketball coach when Gary Williams retired.  Instead of the calm after the storm, Maryland left the ACC that the school helped found for the Big Ten in the fall of 2012–27 months into Anderson’s tenure.  Three major moves that don’t happen often all within his first three winters on campus.  If after this sabbatical Anderson returns to the university with renewed sense of purpose, great.  If he departs for the west coast (the San Francisco State graduate is from the Bay Area originally and previously served as Assistant AD at Oregon State and Cal-Berkeley), he’ll do so leaving a major footprint on the University of Maryland.  Best of luck.


Alma Mater Update- about the Orange.  How did that happen???? Somehow the same SU team that barely beat a bad Pitt squad the Saturday before finds itself outplaying and beating the #2 team in the nation?  Eric Dungey keeps freshman phenom Tommy DeVito in the red shirt for 2017 by waking up the echoes of Marvin Graves and Donovan McNabb…and the defense held a Clemson offense that was averaging 35 points per game to 2-of-11 on third down.  I’m stunned that the Orange are 4-3…but recognize they face Miami and Florida State on the road over the next three weeks.  The two games I’m pointing towards are Wake Forest and Boston College.  Get those…and we have dreams of another Pinstripe Bowl banner.


Maryland (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) couldn’t keep pace with Northwestern in a 37-21 loss to the Wildcats.  All of a sudden the road to six wins and a bowl berth appears a little cloudier. Terrapin Triumphs:  DJ Moore caught 12 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.  Antoine Brooks tallies nine tackles and the defense snared a pair of interceptions.  Max Bortenschlager threw for three scores and was sacked just twice.  Terrapin Troubles:  the tailback tandem of Lorenzo Harrison and Ty Johnson gained just 51 yards on 19 carries.  The defense was exposed underneath multiple times as the pass rush wasn’t a factor.  The offense was also unable to take advantage of either turnover, going three and out after both picks.  Next:  Saturday at noon at #6 Wisconsin.


Virginia (5-1, 2-0 ACC) held off a second half surge by North Carolina to beat the Tar Heels 20-14.  Not only does this put UVa one step closer to bowl eligibility, but it’s also the school’s first win over UNC since 2009.  Cavalier Congrats:  the thunder and lightning backfield rained again:  Jordan Ellis ran for 136 yards while Olamide Zaccheaus added 100 yards receiving.  The defense held UNC to 46 passing yards and intercepted Brandon Harris three times.  Cavalier Concerns:  the offensive line allowed four sacks and Kurt Benkert lost one of his two fumbles.  UNC was able to run for 211 yards and stayed a lot closer than you’d think a 1-5 team would.  Next: Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against Boston College.

Navy (5-1, 3-1 AAC) finally saw their turnovers come back to haunt them in a 30-27 loss at Memphis.  Three fumbles and two interceptions gave the Tigers plenty of extra opportunities–and they turned those short fields into 13 points.  The West Division is still winnable, but there’s now no margin for error.  Midshipmen Medals:  Zach Abey rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns.  DJ Palmore led the defense that held the Tigers to 4-14 on third down with nine tackles and a forced fumble.  Owen White averaged 52 yards per punt.  Midshipmen Miscues:  one can’t say enough about the five turnovers.  The passing game (1-for-8 with 2 INTS) continues to be a weakness.  The defense hasn’t shown it can contain foes for four quarters…once again allowing 30 points or more.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 against #20 UCF.




Don’t look now, but there’s a dynasty brewing down the road on I-81.  James Madison is defending its FCS Championship by posting complete effort after complete effort:  the Dukes lead the CAA in rushing and are second in passing efficiency, while JMU’s overall defense is tops in the conference and 30+ yards per game better than anyone at stopping the pass.  They even lead the league in punting.  Coach Mike Houston’s name will certainly come up anytime there’s an opening on the coaching carousel, especially in ACC country where there’s always a hot seat or two.  The 2018 table is already set with not one but two underclassmen in position to rush for 1,000 yards this fall…and that punter who leads the CAA (Harry O’Kelly) is just a freshman.  But the past (and the 2016 FCS title) as well as the future take a back seat.  The majority of the 2017 campaign is ahead, and while a 5-0 start that includes a win at East Carolina is nice the Dukes know that CAA play is what determines an FCS berth and seed.  Over the next five weeks as they’ll face three conference foes currently ranked in the top 15…starting Saturday with #11 Villanova.  ESPN is even holding Gameday in Harrisonburg…and it’s not just to keep Lee Corso away from the fried twinkies offered at the Texas State Fair during Oklahoma-Texas.  The Dukes face their first major roadblock to repeating…as the Wildcats are coming off a shutout of Maine and are 2nd best nationally (FCS) in stopping the run.  We’re talking allowing just 50 yards per game on 1.76 yards per carry.  Roadblock, indeed.


Alma Mater Update- not since 1984 when #1 Nebraska was defeated at the Carrier Dome has the college football world been turned on its ear as much as Friday night when the Orange shocked another orange-clad team in #2 and defending champ Clemson.  I’m still processing it…but I think this means the school has a shot at securing one of those vaunted Pinstripe Bowl banners.  A 4-3 mark with games against Wake Forest and Boston College on the horizon?  Break out multiple “Five Wing Specials”.


Maryland (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) vs Northwestern (2-3, 0-2),  3:30 p.m, (ESPN2).   While it’s always good to have a Plan B…and sometimes a decent Plan C can salvage things, heaven forbid if you have to go to Plan D.  That’s what we could see Saturday as Max Bortenschlager was “shaken up” last Saturday at Ohio State, and while coach D.J. Durkin would not say if Max was in the concussion protocol he was confident in Caleb Henderson- as in the transfer from North Carolina who’s been injured for much of the last six months.  The case could be made that Henderson before getting hurt was the original “Plan A”.  The Wildcats haven’t had to vary from their Plan A at quarterback, with junior Clayton Thorson making 31 starts over the last two-plus years.  Unfortunately he doesn’t have a great supporting cast as Northwestern ranks last in rushing and allows the most sacks in the Big Ten.  Terrapins triumph, 29-21.


Virginia (4-1, 1-0 ACC) at North Carolina (1-5, 0-3), 3:30 p.m., (ACC Network).  Hold on…it’s mid-October and the Cavaliers have a better record than the Tar Heels?  UVa hasn’t finished higher in the Coastal Division standings than UNC since 2011…and they haven’t beaten the kids from Chapel Hill since 2011.  But 2017 has Bronco Mendenhall’s team executing on third down (2nd best in the ACC at 49.4 % conversion rate) while Larry Fedora’s bunch ranks last in the league at moving the chains (28.8%).  Remember how UVa couldn’t stop anybody last year?  This fall that’s UNC’s honor as they allow a league-worst 33 points and 466 yards per game.  If you listen to old school alumni in Charlottesville, they’ll tell you that North Carolina-not those upstarts at Virginia Tech-is their real rival.  If you listen to Kippy & Buffy, they’ll tell you that they’ll share a bottle of Ponzi Pinot Noir (“carries aromas of tobacco, dark red fruits and fresh berries. The rich cherry flavor is complemented by notes of cedar, raspberry and strawberry”) with their UNC pals Meredith & Peyton (both wear navy blue turtlenecks and Carolina blue sweaters). Break out the Gruyère.  Cavaliers come through, 34-20.


#24 Navy (5-0, 3-0 AAC) at Memphis (4-1, 1-1), 3:45 p.m., ESPNU.  Somehow the Midshipmen are unbeaten despite a defense that has been rather accommodating and an offense that has either misfired (13th in red zone offense) or shot itself in the foot (4 lost fumbles is second most in the league).  They’ll need to score touchdowns instead of field goals if they want to keep pace with the high-octane Tiger offense:  quarterback Riley Ferguson has posted three 300-yard passing games this fall and burned the Mids for 333 yards last fall.  That game saw Will Worth roast Memphis with his arm and legs…and Zach Abey just isn’t the passer who can keep the Tigers’ D honest.  Midshipmen come up short, 38-33.

Howard defeats Delaware State, Georgetown loses at Lehigh, Richmond tops Towson, William & Mary loses to Delaware, and James Madison stays unbeaten with a victory over Villanova.

Last Week: 7-1.

Overall: 35-11. 



Some Saturdays everything goes by the script…but every so often the dominoes fall in such a manner that the National Championship picture has to be completely redrawn.  When it happens in September there are shrugs because it’s still early and perhaps a team or two was over-valued.  When it occurs in November it’s seismic.  This past weekend the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranked teams all fell…two to last-second field goals and two at home.  As fate would have it, the last time that this trifecta occurred it was 1985 and then-#2 Michigan with quarterback Jim Harbaugh fell at Iowa on a last-second field goal.  This year’s Wolverines appeared to have the game won thanks to a late interception, only to go three and out and give the Hawkeyes one more chance.  Perhaps  Harbaugh wishes he could have used some of the 59 points put on the board last week against Maryland in their 14-13 loss.  Clemson after prevailing previously in five one-possession games saw their luck run out as the Panthers win with a kick at the gun in a 43-42 shocker.  Washington saw sophomore Jake Browning throw two interceptions after being picked off a total of three times the previous eight games in a 26-13 loss to #20 USC.  Still unbeaten?  Alabama and-wait for it-Western Michigan.  With three weeks remaining before the playoff field is set…just enough chaos has been added to the recipe.


Alma Mater Update- so much for the hope of hanging a Pinstripe Bowl banner at the Carrier Dome.  Saturday’s loss to NC State means the Orange will have to beat both Florida State and Pitt in order to qualify for a bowl.  Hopefully coach Dino Babers is able to establish a firm foundation this fall…and get a program that was wandering after Doug Marrone simply up and left four years ago.  Eric Dungey remains a question mark for the game with the Seminoles…


Maryland (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten) continued its November Nightmare with a 62-3 loss to #6 Ohio State.  It was evident from the first five minutes of this game that the Buckeyes were not just on a different planet but different solar system.

Terrapin Triumphs:  Teldrick Morgan tallied 7 catches.  Darnell Savage led the bludgeoned and battered defense with 10 tackles.  Adam Greene made his only field goal attempt.

Terrapin Troubles: the offense converted just 1-of-15 third downs…as they were held to zero net yards or less on six of their first eight possessions.  The defense allowed Ohio State to score swiftly (three of OSU’s eight touchdown drives needed just four plays to reach the endzone).  And what was the deal with the all-red Swedish fish uniforms?  Can we blame the red on red on red on red (helmets-jerseys-pants-shoes)?

Next: 12 noon Saturday at #19 Nebraska (8-2, 5-2).  Please don’t wear all-red in Lincoln.


Virginia Tech (7-3, 5-2) missed a chance to wrap up its first Coastal Division title in five years…starting slow in a 30-20 loss to Georgia Tech.  They can still advance to the ACC Championship Game with a season-ending victory over Virginia.  Along those lines, the Hokies have beaten the Cavaliers every year since they joined the conference…not that anyone in Blacksburg or Charlottesville notices.

Hokie Highlights:  Jerod Evans threw for 316 yards and a touchdown…while running for two more scores.  Cam Phillips provided the security blanket with 10 catches. Andrew Motuapuaka led the defense with 14 tackles and a sack…while the D held the Yellowjackets to 4-of-14 on third down.

Hokie Humblings:  A turnover filled day began when they fumbled the opening kickoff- and Georgia Tech would score 17 points off Virginia Tech turnovers.  The Yellowjackets also blocked a Joey Slye field goal attempt.  The offensive line allowed five sacks…and didn’t get in gear until they trailed 30-7.

Next: 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Notre Dame (4-6).


Virginia (2-8, 1-5) was in position to celebrate Senior Day in Charlottesville, locked in a one-possession game at the half with Miami.  Unfortunately, the Cavaliers came up short 34-14 to clinch a losing ACC record for the fifth straight year.

Cavalier Congrats:  Taquan Mizzell rushes for 89 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes.  Micah Kiser notches 12 tackles with an interception.  Credit the offense for converting the short field into a TD…and Kurt Benkert directed a 14 play, 73 yard drive late in the first half for another score.

Cavalier Concerns:  The offense went south in the second half…converting just 2 of 7 third downs while losing two fumbles.  Five sacks allowed on the day did not help QB Kurt Benkert in the slightest. The defense coughed up 5.3 yards per carry.  Ten penalties for 110 yards?  You try winning when you’re giving up an entire football field.

Next: 12 noon Saturday at Georgia Tech (6-4, 3-4).


Navy (7-2, 5-1 AAC) once again played in the most exciting game of the day…holding off Tulsa 42-40 to cement its hold on the AAC West lead.  Barring a collapse, the Mids will play in the AAC Championship Game the week before they face Army at M&T Bank Stadium.

Midshipmen Medals:  Will Worth proves his again…rushing for 122 yards and three touchdowns while completing 6 of 8 passes for 111 yards and another score.  All told, the Mids rolled up 390 yards on the ground.  Micah Thomas paced the defense with nine tackles.  Punter Alex Barta actually got on the field…after not being needed the previous weekend.

Midshipmen Miscues: The defense allowed 40 points at home for the second time this fall…as the Golden Hurricane converted 8 of 14 third downs and averaged 8.9 yards per play.  The fact that the Mids committed two more penalties than the most-flagged team n the conference was a bit of a surprise.

Next: 4 p.m. Saturday at East Carolina (3-7, 1-5).