Yes, I know that Alabama probably has a similar record of road success against most other SEC opponents. But this is LSU we're talking about here. For as many really good teams LSU has had over the years, plus the fact they play their home games in one of the most intimidating stadiums in the nation, for them to go 4-17 against anybody is flat out mind boggling - no matter how good Alabama has been in the past.
Last week I mentioned that LSU had some things working in their favor heading into the game. The Tigers had a bye the previous week, so they had two weeks to get ready, while Alabama had to focus on a game against undefeated Mississippi State in Week 9. Another thing was that despite their great record and great stats, Alabama had not played a tough team on the road yet. (You know, that's one of the things that I really hate about college football - teams can go through a whole schedule with just one or even no difficult road games; but I'll save that rant for some other time.) Not many teams come away victorious from their toughest road test of a season. And one more thing, LSU was out for revenge. After being thoroughly embarrassed by the Tide in the BCS title game at the end of last season, you know the Tigers had this game circled, and you knew they were likely to play their best game of the year.
The game went similarly to last year's regular season meeting between the teams, which LSU won 9-6 at Tuscaloosa - except that teams were reversed. This year it was the Tigers who failed to cash in their scoring chances, despite holding a wide advantage in total yards 435-331. LSU drove into Alabama territory 9 times (out of 12 possessions) but came away with only 17 points. Alabama, on the other hand, got 3 touchdowns out of their 5 possessions that crossed midfield. Just like what happened to Alabama last year, LSU got killed on 4th down. Whether it was missed field goals or not attempting field goals when they should have, time after time they let the Alabama defense get off the field without allowing points. And it eventually cost them the game.
The Tigers had back-to-back TD drives, covering 58 and 90 yards, against the mighty Tide D to wipe out a 14-3 deficit and take a 17-14 lead with 12:58 to play in the game. But after holding to Tide offense to a total of 1 first down on their first 5 drives in the 2nd half, the LSU defense collapsed when it mattered the most, allowing Alabama to easily move right down the field for the game-winning TD.
Not wanting to waste his final two seasons of eligibility on the bench at Maryland, QB Danny O'Brien transferred to Wisconsin during the summer, hoping to find the same greener pastures Russell Wilson did last year. But after the bizarre chain of events that has occurred in the past 3 months, O'Brien probably is wondering what might have been had he stayed. Now riding the bench after a struggling start to the season by the Wisconsin offense (not that it was all his fault), O'Brien is desperately needed at his former school, where the injury bug has bitten in epic proportions. C.J. Brown, the player who beat out O'Brien for the starting QB job, causing him to transfer, suffered a season-ending injury in training camp back in August. And then over the past few weeks, not one, not two, but three more Maryland QBs have been seriously injured.
Down to their 5th choice at QB, the Terrapins turned to freshman LB Shawn Petty last Saturday for the home game against Georgia Tech. A 230-pound lefthander, Petty kind of looked like Tim Tebow - only with dreads - as he directed the offense. Petty (photo below) played QB in HS, so he's no stranger to the position; but we'll have to forgive him for being just a little bit rusty. On his first snap, Petty was sacked for a 4-yard loss. The Terps did not pick up their 1st first down until midway through the 2nd quarter - and that was as a result of a roughing the passer penalty. His first completion - and only completion of the 1st half - gained exactly 1 yard.
With Cincinnati trailing at home to Syracuse 24-21 late in the 3rd quarter, and with the offense struggling and the crowd booing, Coach Jones finally pulled the trigger - sending starting QB Munchie Legaux to the bench. And voila, the real UC offense suddenly appeared, scoring TDs on their next two possessions. So there Munchie, it's all your fault. You are the reason the UC offense hasn't been as efficient as expected. We suspected it all along, and now this confirms it ....... Now, now, before we send Munchie in front of the firing squad, it should be stated that back up QB Brendon Kay didn't do all that much. But he did do what backup QBs are supposed to do - spark the team. After those two touchdowns, the Bearcats held on for a 35-24 win, ending their 2-game losing streak.
The win improves Cincinnati to 2-1 in the Big East, so there's a lot of football left, and by no means are the Bearcats out of the Big East race. It will be very interesting to see what happens from here. It will more more interesting, of course, if we see Munchie and those sick dreads of his on the field instead of standing on the sideline. It's all up to you, Munchie. What's it going to be?
IN THE FCS
The wheels fell off the wagon for Tennessee State in the 4th quarter last Saturday - the wagon carrying the team's playoff hopes. And as a result of their 49-28 loss to Murray State, the Tigers are going to need help from unlikely places if they are to secure the OVC's automatic spot in the tournament, which begins on Thanksgiving weekend. Murray State has not played well enough to be an OVC contender these last couple of seasons; but you're always uncomfortable when you have to play them. Led by possible future NFL QB Casey Brockman, the Racers' offense can get hot at any moment. And if it does, your own offense had better keep pace.
TSU could not keep pace when they needed to on Saturday. After the Tigers took a 28-20 lead late in 3rd quarter, Murray State went on a 22-0 run in a 6-minute span to take control. TSU had a three-and-out and threw an INT in between Murray State's 3 TDs during that span. The last of those TDs came on a 5-yard reception by senior WR Ja-Vonta Trotter, who finished with 5 catches for 46 yards. MSU's other sick senior WR, Patrick Robertson, had just 1 catch for 21 yards. But his dreads certainly looked great (photo below) while he was congratulating junior RB Jaamal Berry after one of his touchdowns.
When someone originally has braided hair, as Berry did in his 3 years at Ohio State, I double and triple check to make sure he actually has switched to dreads and not just a different style of braids. From all the videos and photos I've seen of Berry, honestly I still don't know for sure. I think those are dreads. So unless I see something else that makes me change my mind, I've welcomed Berry into the house. Jaamal had the best game of his career, exceeding the 180 mark in total yards. Junior DT Jeremy Brackett had 7 tackles (5-2), including 1 sack, for the Racers; and junior DE Zac Ross also had 7 tackles (2-5). For TSU senior WR Travis James was held to 4 catches for 30 yards. Junior S Andrew Taylor had 9 tackles (4-5), including one of Berry (photo below). And senior RB Trabis Ward made the dread stars list, even though he averaged just 3 yards per carry.
The game between Prairie View A&M and Alabama State was not televised, so I don't know how this happened. But just from looking at the stats sheet, it would appear that the PVAMU defense was very enthusiastic when it came to stopping ASU sophomore RB Isaiah Crowell, but not so much whenever less-heralded sophomore RB Malcolm Cyrus had the ball. Crowell had 10 rushing attempts, and Cyrus had 11. But while Crowell was stuffed repeatedly, gaining just 6 yards, Cyrus romped for a career high 82 yards, including a 12-yard TD with 9:05 remaining in the game that put the Hornets ahead to stay in their 35-21 road win - a win that keeps them alive in the SWAC East race. Not just Crowell, ASU also got very little from their other star ball carrier. That would be senior QB Greg Jenkins, who went 2 for 4 for 19 yards with 1 INT and 2 sacks before leaving the game due to injury late in the 1st quarter.
Without their top guns, ASU survived mostly because PVAMU turned the ball over 6 times, including a FR by sick sophomore CB Marcus Berg at the PV 19-yard line. Senior WR T.C. McWilliams did not make the dread stars list but had a good performance with 6 catches for 65 yards and 1 TD. For Prairie View, sick junior LB Raheem Cardwell had 10 tackles (5-5), including 2.5 TFL. And sick junior S Adrien Grant contributed 4 tackles (3-1).
Freshman LB Ryan Griffin returned his 1st career INT 58 yards to the house to help keep Jackson State in the driver's seat in the SWAC East with a 53-17 road win over Grambling ..... Senior RB Jake Walker gained 61 yards rushing and 42 receiving as Eastern Illinois remained in a 1st place tie in the OVC with a 31-24 win at Tennessee Tech .....Senior CB J.J. Swain had a team-leading 7 tackles (3-4), including 2 TFL, and senior CB Varmah Sonie got his 2nd INT of the season for Northern Iowa in a 40-0 blowout of Western Illinois ..... Sick junior CB Jeremy Woodson had a game-high 11 tackles (10-1), 2 PBU, and his 2nt INT of the season as Bryant won their 3rd in a row after an 0-6 start, defeating Sacred Heart 34-14 ..... Senior S Ryan Smith had 1 PBU and his 2nd and 3rd INTs of the season as JMU picked up a 31-7 CAA road win over Maine; junior S Jamal Clay had 13 tackles (7-6), 1 FF, and a 67-yard fumble return to the house to keep the Black Bears from being shut out .....
It was just another typical Tennessee game - lots of points for both teams. But this time the Volunteers took it to a whole new level. UT set school records for yards gained and yards allowed in their 55-48 home win over Troy. More than 1,400 total yards of offense were almost evenly divided as UT outgained the other UT 721-718. I didn't tune to the game until the 2nd half, and I'm kicking myself because all the neat stuff was in the 1st half. Junior WR Cordarrelle Patterson was doing his thing - making defenders look silly trying to tackle him, Sadly I also missed 2 receptions for 38 yards by Troy's sick junior WR Chris Williams, who is a lock to make my dread all-America team. I'm sorry, Chris. With the win Tennessee improves to 4-5 and still has hopes for a bowl game. Now let's see if they can beat anybody in the SEC (they're 0-5 so far).
- Vintavious Cooper - East Carolina - 140 yards and 1 TD rushing, and 4 catches for 32 yards in 48-28 home W over Houston
- Cordarrelle Patterson - Tennessee - 9 receptions for season high 219 yards and 1 TD in 55-48 home W over Troy
- DeAndre Hopkins - Clemson - 4 catches for 128 yards and 3 TD in 56-20 road W over Duke
- Trayion Durham - Kent State - 107 yards and 3 TD rushing on 24 carries in 35-24 home W over Akron
- Markus Wheaton - Oregon State - 4 receptions for 108 yards and 2 TD in 36-26 home W over Arizona State
- Darrin Reaves - UAB - 35 carries for career high 223 yards rushing and 2 TD in 27-19 W at Southern Mississippi
- Jamal Robinson - Louisiana-Lafayette - 3 catches for 153 yards and 2 TD, including a run-up-the-score 81-yarder on last play of game in 40-24 road W over Louisiana-Monroe
- Tre Mason - Auburn - 152 yards and 1 TD rushing on 22 carries in 42-7 home W over New Mexico State
- Cobi Hamilton - Arkansas - 11 catches for 177 yards in 19-15 home W over Tulsa
- Jason Verrett - TCU - 4 tackles (4-0), 1 TFL, 1 PBU, got his 5th INT of the season, and blocked would-be game-winning FG attempt in 1st overtime in 39-38 road W over West Virginia in 2 OT
- Todd Gurley - Georgia - 18 carries for 117 yards rushing in 37-10 home W over Mississippi
- Marlon Brown - Georgia - 3 catches for 113 yards, including 66 yard TD, as Bulldogs moved within 1 win of clinching SEC East; sadly though, Brown torn ACL during game and will miss rest of the season
- Jonathan Wallace - FAU - 111 yards and 2 TD rushing on 28 carries, and had 7 catches for 34 yards in 24-17 road L to Navy
- Sam Ojuri - North Dakota State - 118 yards rushing, 40 yards receiving, and 1 TD in 21-17 road W over Missouri State
- Jordan Harris - Bryant - 3 catches for 141 yards, including TDs of 74 and 52 yards in 34-14 home W over Sacred Heart
- Jaamal Berry - Murray State - 16 carries for career high 163 yards rushing and 3 TD, and had 3 catches for 19 yards in 49-28 home W over Tennessee State
- Donte Sawyer - Morehead State - 9 receptions for 126 yards in 49-14 home W over Davidson
- Tyrone Walker - Illinois State - 7 receptions for 120 yards and 1 TD as Redbirds picked up key 17-10 road W over Indiana State
- Rico Richardson - Jackson State - 5 receptions for 115 yards and 1 TD in 53-17 W at Grambling
- Isidore Jackson - Bethune-Cookman - 19 carries for 111 yards rushing and 1 TD in 24-13 W at Morgan State
- Nico Flores - Norfolk State - named MEAC offensive player of the week - 116 yards rushing on 14 carries, and went 17 for 28 for 213 yards passing with 1 TD (2 INT) in 33-21 home W over Savannah State
- Trabis Ward - Tennessee State - 111 yards and 1 TD rushing on 37 carries, and added 2 catches for 13 yards in 49-28 L at Murray State
- Deonte Williams - Caly Poly - 20 carries for 100 yards rushing in 34-17 road L at Eastern Washingrton
- Morris Norisse - Sacramento State - 5 catches for career high 128 yards, including 76-yard TD, in tough 20-17 home L to Montana State
- Albert Wilson - Georgia State - school record 296 all-purpose yards - 6 catches for 149 yards and 1 TD, and returned 3 kickoffs for 156 yards, including 100-yard TD, in 53-27 home L to ODU
HOUSE OF DREAD
With 3 TD by DeAndre Hopkins and 1 by Sammy Watkins on the board before the 1st quarter was over, I was sure that the Clemson-Duke game would be the HOD winner. But Clemson took it easy on Duke the rest of the night and decided to spread the wealth, and there were no further TDs by players with dreads in that one. There were two games in the FCS that had 5 TD by players with dreads this week. So half of the HOD award goes to the end zone at Stewart Stadium in Murray, KY, home of the Murray State Racers (and home of several HOD awards in the past). RB Jaamal Berry scored on runs of 1, 5, and 35 yards for MSU in their 49-28 win over Tennessee State. WR Ja-Vonta Trotter added a 5-yard TD catch for the Racers. And RB Trabis Ward scored on a 2-yard run for TSU.
The other HOD was the end zone at the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons don't lose on Sundays and where Georgia State can't win on Saturdays. WR Marquel Thomas had a 9-yard TD catch, and WR Nick Mayers a 4-yard TD reception for ODU in their 53-27 victory over GSU. Junior WR Albert Wilson, the CAA special teams player of the week, had a 100-yard kickoff return (photo above) and a 93-yard TD reception for Georgia State. And senior RB Roosevelt Watson added a 3-yard TD run in his final home game.
I really wanted for Cordarrelle Patterson to take player of the week honors. But being objective about it, he came in 2nd. For the head dread for Week 10 we go to the Southern Conference. Anybody that has seen Appalachian State knows that Sean Price is having one whale of a season. Price, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound, redshirt freshman WR, had his best game yet last Saturday, earning SOCON offensive player of the week honors after catching 7 passes for 231 yards and 1 TD in ASU's huge 31-28 road win over FCS #2 ranked Georgia Southern. Included in his spree were receptions of 25 yards, 46 yards, a 56-yard TD, and a 69-yard catch on 3rd and 29 that kept ASU from having to punt from their 1-yard line at a key point of the game in the 3rd quarter.
Keep this up, Sean, and you're going to have to transfer up to play with the big boys.
There are a bunch of games in the early (11 AM) time slot I want to see, including Arkansas-South Carolina, Miami-Virginia, Cincinnati-Temple, William & Mary-ODU, and Louisville-Syracuse. After that I'll probably check out a little of Maryland-Clemson, Mississippi State-LSU, Georgia-Auburn, and Fresno State-Nevada.