Quick Outs

Posted Oct 15, 2006

Summa Cum Laude – Vanderbilt – The Dores hung with Georgia between the hedges for four quarters, getting a 33-yard Bryant Hahnfeldt field goal with two seconds left to complete an improbable upset. The win was Vandy's first over the Bulldogs since 1994, breaking a 53-game losing streak to ranked teams—all in a post-Jay Cutler era.

2. Texas QB Colt McCoy – In case you haven't noticed, the freshman now has 18 touchdown passes to just three interceptions after throwing a school-record six scoring strikes in the Horns' 63-31 shellacking of Baylor.
3. Oklahoma State's Bobby Reid and Adarius Bowman – The Cowboy pitch and catch combo rewrote the school record book Saturday afternoon at the expense of the befuddled Kansas defense. Reid threw five touchdown passes, ran for another score and smashed head coach Mike Gundy's school mark with 457 total yards. Bowman caught 13 passes for an OSU-best 300 yards and four touchdowns.
4. Indiana – The Hoosiers got a signature win over Iowa to move over .500 and within two wins of a bowl game for the first time since 1993.
5. Auburn DE Quentin Groves – Groves played possessed in the second half of Auburn's win over Florida, collecting three sacks and a huge forced fumble in the fourth quarter.

Summa Cum Lousy – Georgia – For the second straight week, the Dawg D couldn't make key stops late, allowing Vandy to drive for the winning field goal in an embarrassing 24-22 loss that could wind up keeping Georgia out of a January bowl game for the first time in five years.
2. Fresno State – Losing to Utah State a week ago confirmed it was going to be a down year in the Valley, but there's absolutely no excuse for allowing 68 points at home to Hawaii in Saturday's 31-point loss.
3. Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell – Harrell threw three interceptions and was pulled for the second straight week in the Red Raiders' 30-6 loss to previously winless Colorado.
4. Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe – Wolfe Heisman campaign took a sharp detour after he ran for just 25 yards on 18 carries.
5. Stanford – In this hideous season for Walt Harris and the program, the Cardinal continue to discover new depths of ineptitude. Against struggling Arizona Saturday, Stanford managed just four first downs and 92 total yards, the lowest total in school history.

Offensive Coordinator of the Week – Paul Chryst, Wisconsin – Chryst's offense attacked Minnesota's defense on the ground and through the air, leaving the Gophers without any answers. The Badgers got four touchdown passes from John Stocco and two touchdown runs from P.J. Hill for an offense that leads the Big Ten in scoring.

Defensive Coordinator of the Week – Ron Collins – In a bad season for the Buffs, Collins has done a real nice job with the defense all year —none better than on Saturday, when the D had five takeaways and held Texas Tech to just six points and 292 total yards in the program's first win of 2006.

Since 2000, three teams—2000 Oklahoma, 2002 Ohio State and 2003 LSU—have won national championships the year after losing five games. Michigan, settling in at No. 3 in the debut of the BCS standings, lost five games a year ago. Hmmm.

You watch Auburn beat Florida 27-17 at Jordan-Hare Saturday night in a classic SEC war. You recognize how doggone tough it is to navigate the conference without losing a game and how that annual cannibalization usually prohibits the 12 members from winning a national championship. And then you scratch your head how a 13-0 Auburn team didn't even get a chance to play for that elusive title two years ago.

For all those who snickered at the notion Dave Wannstedt would bring the glory back to Pittsburgh, look at Wanny now. After slogging through his first season at his alma mater, the Panthers are 6-1, dominating lesser opponents with a balanced offense and strong play in the trenches, a Wannstedt trademark. With a win over Rutgers this week, Pitt might be ready to challenge West Virginia and Louisville, schools that'll visit Heinz Field, for the Big East crown. Another strong recruiting class is leaving little doubt that bringing Wannstedt back from the NFL was a very shrewd move that's already paying dividends.

Is Virginia Tech becoming the ACC's version of Tennessee circa 2005, a program that lacks chemistry and discipline, while becoming more of a launching pad to the NFL than a cohesive unit? No one questions the talent in Blacksburg, but in Thursday's ugly loss to Boston College, the Hokies fell apart at the seams for the second straight game, looking nothing like the blue-collar, fundamentally sound program that Frank Beamer began building from the ground up almost two decades ago. The coach may need to attract his version of the Vols' David Cutcliffe to help restore the order. Maybe former Tech offensive coordinator Ricky Bustle can be lured away from Louisiana-Lafayette.

On a day when the offense was ordinary, Cal's defense stepped up to hold Washington State to just three points, the sign of a program that's ready to win more than a Holiday Bowl. The win was the Bears' first in Pullman since 1979, another good omen that this season is beginning to evolve into something special.

A one-loss team is going to play the Ohio State-Michigan winner for the national championship. Think about it. There are only seven unbeatens left, six after the Buckeyes and Wolverines play. Boise State doesn't count for this discussion, so that's five. Three teams are from the Big East, two of which have to lose, making three. A maximum of three unbeatens vying for Glendale with half a season to go and USC getting taken to the wire every weekend. The odds are against there being two perfect teams facing off on Jan. 8, good news for Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Cal, Notre Dame and Auburn.

The Indiana administration didn't need Saturday's upset of Iowa to realize Terry Hoeppner is the right man to guide the Hoosiers to higher ground. Of course, it didn't hurt. With young players, such as freshman QB Kellen Lewis, gaining confidence weekly, and Hoeppner playing the role of eternal optimist, IU is ready to become more than just an appetizer for the basketball season.

The upside to USC's third consecutive win of seven points or less? The young Trojans are learning how to win the close games, something that'll serve them well during the November stretch that'll include games with Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. RB Chauncey Washington who's endured years of injuries and poor grades to get here, grinded out 108 yards and the game-winning score on 22 carries.

South Florida's blowout of North Carolina in Chapel Hill is Example No. 30 this fall alone that the Big East is on very solid footing. The conference has earned so much goodwill in 2006, now might be a good time to begin recruiting for a couple more football members, say, Maryland out of the ACC or East Carolina and UCF out of Conference USA.

Assuming that Adrian Peterson's college career ended with Saturday's broken collarbone, now is a good time to reflect on one of the all-time great college backs. Peterson's true freshman season was a thing of beauty, a once-in-a-generation performance from a truly unique prodigy. That blend of power and speed wrapped in a boyish grin represented all that was good about college football in 2004. However, doesn't it seem as if everything since then has been a major detour from expectations? Peterson never did win a Heisman, hoist a National Championship trophy or even cop a rushing title. Let the records show that unlike a Maurice Clarett, who frittered away his own future, it wasn't Peterson's fault. The support, either from the quarterback or the offensive line was never there like it was in 2004, forcing him to carry the burden of the offense and often multiple tacklers on his back. Peterson's final play of 2006 was a dashing 53-yard bolt for the end zone, a fitting and lasting impression just in case that was his final carry in a Sooner uniform.

Rutgers continues to author one of the most amazing stories of 2006. In their toughest test of the year, the Knights went into Annapolis and ransacked Navy 34-0 on homecoming. The Middies were held 150 yards below their rushing average, and Rutgers QB Mike Teel finally made a contribution, throwing for a career-high three touchdown passes. This week's trip to 6-1 Pittsburgh is going to make a heck of a Big East undercard to the Nov. 2 meeting between West Virginia and Louisville.

Can this year's Heisman race be more anti-climatic? On the same day that front-runner Troy Smith stays the course in a 38-7 Ohio State victory, Adrian Peterson breaks his collarbone, Garrett Wolfe rushes for 25 yards and Chris Leak implodes in Florida's first loss. It's not yet Halloween, and the artist's rendition of Smith has already begun being painted.

After getting thumped by P.J. Hill and Wisconsin, 2-5 Minnesota has now lost three trophies, Paul Bunyan's Axe to the Badgers, the Little Brown Jug to Michigan and the Governor's Victory Bell to Penn State. Barring an upset of Iowa on Nov. 18 Floyd of Rosedale, too, will be spending the next year someplace other than Minneapolis.

No doubt both teams were culpable in the brawl between Miami and Florida International that took place Saturday night, however, it not the kind of thing Larry Coker could afford at this stage of his already tenuous employment situation with the Canes.

As long as Arkansas is winning, don't be surprised if you start hearing the name Darren McFadden mentioned in Heisman discussions. McFadden's a little late to the party, but now leads the SEC in rushing on a team that controls its own destiny in the league's West division.

Congratulations to Dan Hawkins for getting his first win in Boulder, a 30-6 throttling of Texas Tech. Long-term, Hawk will be just fine once he gets his kind of players at Colorado. Year two often makes a huge difference for many coaches. Just look at how much better Bronco Mendenhall (BYU), Skip Holtz (East Carolina), Urban Meyer (Florida), Terry Hoeppner (Indiana), Hal Mumme (New Mexico State), Dick Tomey (San Jose State), Tyrone Willingham (Washington), Dave Wannstedt (Pittsburgh) and Greg Robinson (Syracuse) are doing with a season under their belts.

Cincinnati may only be 3-4 this season, however, Mark Dantonio has done a terrific job against one of the country's tougher schedules. The Bearcats nearly knocked Louisville from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday, falling 23-17. Cincy has now made Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and the Cardinals sweat before faltering in the second half, lessons the young program will benefit from in 2007.

Guess who's 6-1 and about to enter the Top 25. Texas A&M. Against unbeaten Missouri, the Aggies got big days from QB Stephen McGee and RB Jovorskie Lane and big plays from the defense when it had to, handing Dennis Franchione the most poignant win of his A&M career.

Has anyone taken notice what a couple of old war horses, Idaho's Dennis Erickson and San Jose State's Dick Tomey, are doing in the WAC? The Vandals and Spartans are 8-4 combined and are two of the last three programs, along with Boise State, that are unbeaten in conference play. The season-ending game between the two upstarts could decide a bowl berth, if both aren't already eligible at that point.

Yeah, he plays for Rice, however, it's time for WR Jarrett Dillard to start getting some serious All-American recognition. Playing for the first time in the Owls' new offense, the sophomore has 53 catches for 683 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite getting little cooperation from the quarterback in the early part of the season. On Saturday, Dillard had nine catches for 111 yards and three touchdowns, the last coming with 3.5 seconds to go to beat UAB 34-33.

If it came to fruition, the Steve Mariucci to Michigan State rumor would be great news for a Spartan program that's in dire need of an infusion of positives news. The Spartans have been out scored 111-43 since taking a 37-21 lead over Notre Dame into the fourth quarter three weeks ago, likely sealing the fate of current head man, John L. Smith.

UNLV's Shane Steichen came off the bench in the second quarter to throw five touchdown passes against New Mexico. It wasn't enough, however, as the Rebels lost in overtime to New Mexico 39-36.

It says an awful lot about Jim Grobe and Wake Forest that the Deacons got off the mat to upset streaking NC State one week after collapsing in the fourth quarter to Clemson. Wake is now bowl eligible and very much in the hunt for an ACC title, along with about eight other teams.

Can former Marshall coach Bob Pruett be coaxed out of retirement? The 1-5 Herd, coming off a 31-21 loss to SMU, is 1-5 and on a collision course with its worst season in two decades.

Kent State is for real. The Golden Flashes, behind the running of Eugene Jarvis and the playmaking of QB Julian Edelman, crushed Toledo 40-14 for the school's first five-game winning streak in 30 years. Kent, which hasn't played a post-season game since 1972, is one win from bowl eligibility and one of just two MAC teams unbeaten in conference play.

E-mail Richard Cirminiello