While Wisconsin and Minnesota play each year for the Paul Bunyan Axe (the Badgers kept the Axe for the 9th straight year, defeating the Gophers 38-13 last Saturday), Michigan and Michigan State play for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Now if I understand it correctly, while Michigan fans are more preoccupied with beating Ohio State than Michigan State, Michigan State fans want nothing more than to beat Michigan. If that is true, then the most recent games between the two teams have brought a great deal of joy and satisfaction to MSU fans. For 4 years in a row starting in 2008 the wooden statue of Paul Bunyan perched on a pedestal has resided in the MSU trophy case. Prior to those 4 years, the Spartans hadn't been able to take even 2 in a row from the Wolverines since the mid-1960's. If the Spartans were to make it 5 in a row, it would mean that Denard Robinson, Vincent Smith, and the rest of the Michigan seniors would become part of a very small group of people still living to have played their entire career at Michigan without ever beating Michigan State.
Well, it wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty; but the Michigan seniors avoided that ignominious group last Saturday.
Thanks to a tiny bit of help from Smith, a little bit of help from Robinson, and a lot of help from the kicker, Old Paul is back home in Ann Arbor where he belongs (as far as Go Blue nation is concerned). Four field goals were all Michigan could muster, but they were enough to knock off Michigan State 12-10, pretty much ending the Spartans' hopes for a 2nd straight appearance in the Big 10 championship game.
Trailing 9-7, MSU went on an 18-play, 90-yard drive in the 4th quarter. But on 4th down from the 1-yard line they settled for a FG and a 10-9 lead with 5:48 to play. Michigan punted on the ensuing possession but got the ball back at their own 38-yard line with 2:00 on the clock. That's when Smith, the 5-foot-6 RB, made his only significant contribution of the game - a 12-yard run to midfield. With the clock down to :18, Michigan had only reached the MSU 41. You knew all Robinson had to do was complete one pass downfield, but you wondered if he ever was going to. Finally, a 20-yard strike to WR Drew Dileo got the ball into FG range, and the Wolverines won it on a 38-yard FG with 5 seconds remaining.
Another game I wanted to see but didn't (sorry fans, I don't do webcasts - not unless it's an absolute emergency) was the Ohio battle between Cincinnati and Toledo. There were 4 players (2 on each team) on the field under serious consideration for my dread all-America team: for UC there were the sick dreads of junior QB Munchie Legaux and junior CB Deven Drane; and for UT we had the even sicker dreads on the heads of sophomore RB Cassius McDowell and junior WR James Green. Unfortunately, at least on this night, the level of their play fell far short of the level of their dreads.
South Carolina's difficult test of playing LSU and Florida back-to-back on the road is over. And sad to say the Gamecocks flunked the test. Spectacularly. I would have given them a passing grade had they won just one of the two. But after losing close at LSU, the Gamecocks lost not-close last Saturday as Florida rolled to a 44-11 victory. Believe it or not, South Carolina actually outgained Florida in total yards 191-183. But the Gators absolutely kicked the Gamecocks' ass on special teams.
The Gamecocks' defense didn't bend, but it broke, allowing TDs instead of holding Florida to FGs on 'drives' that covered 2 yards, 29 yards, and 1 yard. The first TD was set up when the Gators sacked and stripped QB Connor Shaw on the first play from scrimmage. The second came as a result of a fumble by ace punt return man Ace Sanders midway through the 2nd quarter, Then on the kickoff return following the 2nd TD, the Gators forced another fumble. Senior TE Justice Cunningham made a nice hustle play, preventing the TD on the fumble return with a diving tackle at the 1-yard line (photo below); but the Gators got the TD anyway two plays later.
Sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney played better than last week, providing consistently pressure on the QB (until the game got out of hand and he lost interest). He finished with 5 tackles (4-1), including 2 TFL and 1 sack. Senior LB Shaq Wilson added 6 tackles (4-2) with 1.5 TFL. But it was obvious that if the Gamecocks wanted to win, their defense was going to have to score; and they were unable to. Sanders finished with 2 catches for 32 yards. Senior RB Kenny Miles (being tackled by S Matt Elam in photo below) had 15 yards rushing on 5 carries. Cunningham had 2 catches for 13 yards. For the Gators senior S Josh Evans played well, as usual, with 7 tackles (3-4), 1 TFL, and 2 PBU. Sick freshman RB Matt Jones ran for 11 yards on 3 carries.
Junior WR Kenny Bell scored his 2nd TD catch of the season, senior S Robert Lester got his 2nd INT, and junior RB Eddie Lacy gained 97 total yards as Alabama kept rolling, winning at Tennessee 44-13 to improve to 7-0 ..... Senior S Kemal Ishmael had 10 tackles (6-4) and a key FR that ended a Memphis drive at the UCF 2-yard line, and sophomore S Clayton Geathers had 13 tackles and a key FF that resulted in a scoop and score for a TD as UCF improved to 3-0 in CUSA East with a 35-17 road win; senior CB Robert Steeples had a 27-yard scoop and score for Memphis ..... Sophomore LB D.J. Lynch had a career high 10 tackles(4-6), 2 TFL, and 1 PBU; and junior S BooBoo Gates got his 2nd INT of the season as Bowling Green recorded their first shutout in 8 years, winning at Massachusetts 24-0 .....
Two running backs (one with dreads) who expected to be playing for FBS schools were the feature attraction as Tennessee State traveled to Jacksonville State (in Alabama, not Florida) for a key OVC contest last Saturday. Already with 2 league losses on their record, it was a must-win for JSU, whose playoff hopes would all but end if they were to fall 3 games behind TSU. Well, it wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty; but JSU got the job done. In a wild finish in which it looked like neither team wanted to win, Jacksonville State kept hope alive with a 31-28 overtime victory that ended TSU's dreams of an undefeated season.
JSU was led by RB Washaun Ealey, who played 2 seasons at Georgia before transferring. He had 190 total yards on 38 touches; but it wasn't a game high 190 yards because the Tigers' star RB did even better. That would be junior Trabis Ward, who never made it to Minnesota (for whatever reason) and ended up in Nashville. TSU fans are certainly glad he did - Ward has been nearly a constant on the dread stars list this season. He's on it again this week after surpassing the 200-yard mark in total yards for the 2nd week in a row.
Senior WR Travis James (with those reduced dreads) finished with 5 receptions for 86 yards and 2 TD. His 2nd TD of the game, an 11-yarder, tied the game at 28 with 9:20 to go. After that, all hell broke loose. The teams' next 3 possessions all ended with turnovers - in a span of 4 plays. TSU took over at their own 25 with 5:36 to go; and on their final drive, both teams conducted a clinic on how NOT to finish a football game. A dumb personal foul penalty on sick junior S Robert Gray gave TSU a 1st down at the JSU 49. On the next play an 11-yard gain by James was nullified by a penalty. But the Tigers got the 1st down anyway three plays later on a 9-yard reception by junior TE Wesley Samuels to the JSU 34. Then (after another penalty) on 3rd and 16 QB Michael German was sacked for a loss of 3, but JSU was charged with a facemask penalty, giving TSU the 1st down. But the ball stayed right there at the spot of the sack because German took his helmet off after the play and was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, effectively offsetting the facemask penalty.
With the clock now down to :46 we had a Jeremy Pryor sighting. The junior WR made his only catch of the game, good for a 7-yard gain. On the next play German ran for the 1st down but fumbled the ball, TSU recovered - luckily - at the 28-yard line with 10 seconds remaining. Ward made the impending FG attempt 3 yards shorter with a run to the 25. And with :01 on the clock K Jamin Godfrey, 5 of 6 on the season from 40+ yards, came on and nailed the 42-yard FG to win the game. But no. TSU was called for a false start, so the FG didn't count. Godfrey then missed (of course) from 47 yards, sending the game into overtime .....
..... where the goofiness continued. TSU got the ball first and moved to the 12-yard line. But on 3rd and 9 German took a sack for a loss of 13, turning a would-be chip shot FG into a 42-yarder. Godfrey missed again. Now needing only a FG to win, JSU gained 7 yards on 2 runs by Ealey. But on 3rd and 3, instead of handing off to Ealey again, QB Coty Blanchard dropped back to pass (huh?) - and was almost immediately sacked for a loss of 9 back to the 27-yard line. K Griffin Thomas ended the madness, at last, on the next play with a 44-yard FG to win it for JSU. JSU's players dashed onto the field, chasing after Thomas, who was running as fast as he could away from his teammates trying to avoid being mobbed. Meanwhile on the TSU sideline, nobody moved, everyone too stunned to move, everybody wondering, "WTF just happened? How the hell did we lose?"
When he wasn't committing stupid penalties, Gray was making 5 tackles (5-0). Freshman CB Jermaine Hough had 2 INT for JSU to take OVC defensive player of the week honors. TSU drops to 3-1 in the OVC, tied with 3 other teams with 1 loss - with JSU right behind them at 3-2.
Sick freshman CB Sherrod Baltimore (photo below, trying to tackle WR R.J. Harris) got his 1st INT in a Maine uniform in the 1st quarter, but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I saw the photo. I remember seeing him on the sideline in a game last season (his redshirt year), and I'm almost positive his dreads were longer than this. That's why I included him on my top 50 list of the best dreads in the FCS. Hopefully Sherrod will let them grow back to their previous length as quickly as possible.
That sigh of relief you heard last weekend came from Tempe. The knee injury suffered by Arizona State junior DT Will Sutton is not serious! Honestly, my heart sunk when I tuned to the Oregon-ASU game shortly after the opening kickoff - only to see Sutton (photo above) already out of the game and on crutches. Sutton, in the midst of an all-American season, might be thinking about jumping to the NFL a year early. But a torn ACL would have ended those thoughts. Thankfully it's less serious than that, and Sutton is expected back on the field before the season is over. Fittingly, on the play he was injured he added 1 more to his total of TFL (he now has 14 on the season) and forced a fumble. Get well soon, Will. The ASU defense needs you. Here's more from the Arizona Republic.
- Trayion Durham - Kent State - 19 carries for a career high 124 yards rushing and 1 TD in 41-24 home win over Western Michigan
- Denard Robinson - Michigan - 96 yards rushing on 20 carries, and went 14 for 29 for 163 yards passing with 1 INT in 12-10 home win over Michigan State
- William Dukes - FAU - 5 catches for a career high 119 yards, including a 50-yard TD, in tough 37-34 road loss to South Alabama in 2 OT
- Jonathan Wallace - FAU - 21 carries for career high 101 yards rushing and 1 TD, but Owls blew 31-17 lead and missed 32-yard FG attempt on last play of 4th quarter
- Trabis Ward - Tennessee State - 34 carries for 168 yards rushing and 1 TD, and had 3 catches for 41 yards, but Tigers suffered 1st L of season, 31-28 in OT at Jacksonville State
- Teddy Allen - Charleston Southern - named Big South offensive player of the week - career high153 yards and 4 TD rushing on 21 carries in 31-21 home win over Presbyterian
- Deonte Williams - Cal Poly - 169 yards rushing on 27 carries and 3 receptions for 22 yards as CP improved to 7-0 with 37-25 home W over Portland State
- Tromaine Dennis - Northern Colorado - career high 178 yards and 2 TD rushing on 27 carries in easy 52-14 home W over Idaho State
- Jordan Harris - Bryant - 5 catches for 107 yards and 2 TD in 27-24 road W over Monmouth
- Albert Wilson - Georgia State - had school record 290 all-purpose yards, including 6 catches for 104 yards and 1 TD and 5 kickoff returns for 176 yards in 49-24 home loss to Villanova
- Demarcus Rouse - Presbyterian - 109 yards and 3 TD rushing on 12 carries in 31-21 road loss to Charleston Southern
HOUSE OF DREAD
A perfect storm of conditions came together at Charleston, SC, causing there to be 7 TDs by players with dreads in one game: both teams had a feature RB with dreads; both teams were somewhat evenly matched; and both teams were not particularly strong defensively. Add to that mix the fact that Alabama State had a bye this week, and your HOD winner is the end zone at Buccaneer Field, the home of the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. There were 7 TD scored in CSU's 31-21 victory over Presbyterian, and all 7 were by 2 RBs with dreads. Junior Teddy Allen scored on runs of 12, 63, 6, and 18 yards for Charleston Southern. And sophomore Demarcus Rouse had TD runs of 6, 15, and 5 yards for Presbyterian.
HONORABLE MENTION - 6 TD at Legion Field Birmingham .....
...... 3 of those 6 TD at Legion Field were scored by this week's player of the week. East Carolina improved to 4-1 in CUSA East, and junior RB Vintavious Cooper was a big reason why. Cooper had 172 yards and 2 TD rushing on 26 carries and had a 30-yard TD reception as ECU won a shootout against UAB 42-35. Cooper's 3rd TD of the night was a 3-yard run that put the Pirates ahead 42-28. And after UAB closed to within 7, Cooper rushed for 49 yards and 2 1st downs to kill the final 3:47 off the clock without letting UAB get the ball back. Cooper's dreads are just at the point where they're barely coming out of his helmet, so I'll include a helmetless photo from a couple of weeks ago along with an action photo from the game. And the link after the photos is to a video with highlights of the game and a few words from Vintavious, where he gives all the praise to his offensive line.
There's a lot to decide from, especially in the FCS. ODU is on TV against Delaware. If you get Fox College Sports, you'll get to see the super sick dreads of Eastern Illinois RB Jake Walker in action at Eastern Kentucky. And probably the game with the most dreads is the Magic City Classic showdown between Alabama State and Alabama A&M. As for the big boys, South Carolina-Tennessee should be interesting. So should Florida-Georgia. And I'll probably watch a little bit of Purdue-Minnesota.