Quick takes from some of Saturday’s college games:
Iowa backup QB CJ Beathard put together a strong second half in relief of Jake Rudockas the Hawkeyes rallied to knock off Pittsburgh. Iowa did a very good job of limiting Panthers stud RB James Connor and won the game in spite of losing the stats by a significant margin.
Georgia Tech had a nice comeback that concluded with field goal at the gun as they got the mild upset over Virginia Tech. Michael Brewer had a very poor game at QB for the Hokies, and the home team’s defense failed badly when it mattered most.
Old Dominion busted a load of parlays with the 45-42 win at Rice. The Monarchs got a monster game from QB Taylor Heinicke and kicker Ricky Segers was the hero with the game winning three as time expired. Rice had rallied from a 21-point deficit tote the game with one minute remaining but ODU hit a big play and nailed their first ever CUSA win.
Duke did in Tulane with lots of offense and a pair of pick sixes to boot. The Blue Devils are looking like legit contenders in the wide open ACC Coastal Division.
Maryland was outgained by 220 yards at Syracuse, and gave up a whopping 370 yards on the ground, but managed to win the game without much trouble. An 88 yard interception for six late in the third quarter was huge for the Terrapins.
Colorado managed to hold off Hawaii by just enough to cover the spot. WR Nelson Spruce had a tremendous game for the Buffs. This was the first time in 51 games that Colorado dod not allow a touchdown by its opponent, but it wasn’t an easy win.
East Carolina absolutely destroyed North Carolina. The Pirates finished with nearly 800 yards of offense in again crushing the Tar Heels . ECU has won the last two meetings by a combined 125-76.
Louisville rolled past Florida International by a 34-3 count, but the Cardinals ended up with a pitiful 12 net rushing yards. Louisville appears to have a decent defense, but the offense isn’t especially good right now, and I’d classify this as a somewhat misleading score.
Michigan’s troubles continued as they lost at home to Utah, 26-10. The Wolverines defense wasn’t bad, but the offensive turnovers were very damaging. Brady Hoke is definitely on the hot seat at Ann Arbor.
Rutgers bounced back from the tough loss to Penn State with a nice win at Navy. Justin Goodwin rushed for more than 100 yards in relief on an injured Paul James and Gary Nova avoided the big mistakes that did him in a week ago.
John Wolford put together a strong game as Wake Forest nipped Army. The Cadets piled up big yards on the ground, but their inability to do anything through the air proved costly. Army was a very hot play, so this ended up being a good game for the house.
Alabama annihilated Florida much worse than the 42-21 score would indicate. The Gators were able to hang in thanks to some Tide mistakes, but this was a mismatch. One more nail in the coaching coffin for beleaguered Florida coach Bill Muschamp.
Virginia-BYU turned into a wild shootout with the Cougars protecting their perfect slate via the 41-33 victory. The Cavaliers won the yards by a 519-332 count, and owned possession for more than 40 minutes, but couldn’t get the road upset. But it’s looking like Virginia could be a factor in the ACC moving forward.
Illinois was in trouble against Texas State but one has to wonder what might have happened if not for a lengthy weather delay. The visitors were in control before the stoppage and Illinois seemed to really benefit from the long break. Still, giving up this many points to what is not a strong offense is another red flag for the Illini.
Indiana scored a big upset at Missouri as D’Angelo Roberts scored very late to get the Hoosiers to the winner’s circle. The win was legit, as Indiana battled the Tigers on even terms throughout. Indiana will have to guard against a letdown next week as they host Maryland.
Wyoming picked up its second last minute win in the last three weeks as they snuck past a game Florida Atlantic squad, 20-19. Wyoming forced a turnover deep in their own territory with just two minutes remaining and QB Colby Kirkegaard connected with Dominic Rufran on a crossing pattern that got misplayed by the Owls and cost FAU the small upset.
Washington ended up defeating Georgia State 45-14, but the Huskies were trailing 14-0 in the third quarter. The stats tell the story as this was a much closer game than that lopsided score indicates.
Mississipi State nearly suffered a disastrous melt against LSU, but the Bulldogs held on for the 34-29 upset. But this was not as close as the final tally, and most impressive was the commanding 302-89 ground game edge for the winners. Mississippi State looks poised for a big season.
Southern Mississippi escaped with a 21-20 win over Appalachian State. Crazy ending here as the Mountaineers scored at the end of regulation but got their extra point blocked. App State missed three field goals as well. The Mountaineers should have won this game and absolutely should have gone for the win at the gun rather than trying for overtime. Maybe the worst coaching decision of the day.
Gunner Kiel threw another four TD passes for Cincinnati, but the Bearcats had a much tougher time than anticipated with upset minded Miami Ohio. Call this a moral victory for the underdog Redhawks.
Ball State got through the back door to get inside the number as they lost at Toledo, 34-23. The Rockets had a chance to then front door a spread win but chose to run out the clock deep in Ball State territory.
Utah State got a game winning field goal try at the regulation gun blocked and then lost in OT at Arkansas State. The Aggies should have won this game as they were the better team and were also +3 net turnovers. But the kicking game hurt as did a critical fourth down penalty that led to an earlier Arkansas State touchdown.
South Carolina needed to rally for the 48-34 win at Vanderbilt. This was not a good performance by the Gamecocks, and head coach Steve Spurrier called it one of the worst wins he’s ever had. South Carolina will need to step it up against upcoming tougher opposition or their season will be a disappointment.
Oklahoma freshman RB Samaje Penne is going to be a real problem for upcoming Sooner opponents. Penne was dominant as Oklahoma pulled away at West Virginia in a game that was tied at halftime.
Clemson flat out blew it in Tallahassee. The Tigers made some glaring blunders at crunch time en route to the overtime loss to Florida State. The Seminoles weren’t at all sharp minus Jameis Winston, and were very fortunate to maintain their winning streak. This has to be a devastating loss for Clemson as they appeared to have the game locked up and gave it away.
Another big game for Ameer Abdullah as Nebraska outlasted Miam 41-31. The Cornhuskers star RB rambled for 229 yards in the win. Miami was extremely undisciplined throughout and the ‘Canes were whistled for five personal fouls in the second half alone.
New Mexico won its rivalry battle with New Mexico State, with a late Lamar Jordan TD pass lifting the Lobos to the 38-35 victory. A crucial face guarding penalty on the Aggies in that final Lobos drive might well have cost New Mexico State the win.
Arizona had the comeback of the day as the Wildcats scored an incredible 36 points in the fourth quarter to beat California. ‘Zona sion the game on a final play Hail Mary and needed a remarkable number of things to fall their way to get this win. Cal will have to dig deep to put this one in the rear view mirror. They appeared totally stunned at the conclusion of this remarkable game.
Oregon barely escaped getting shocked at Washington State. This turned out to be a dynamite QB duel between Heisman contender Marcus Mariota and Washington State’s Connor Halladay. Oregon got the 38-31 lead by WSU coach Mike Leach was thrilled with his team’s performance in defeat.
I enjoyed a 7-4 football Saturday, with one of the losses being that tough OT deal with Utah State. Add in the Kansas State cover on Thursday and it was an 8-4 college card. I gave back a half-unit trying to middle the Clemson/FSU game, but it was worth the gamble with the +17/-9.5 pairing. Baseball produced one easy win and one narrow loss. Good enough day and it’s on to Sunday’s NFL.
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The college free plays split with Clemson getting there easily and Utah State missing as the dreaded dog in OT, which is never a positive scenario. My NFL free play for this week was in yesterday’s blog. Here’s one on the diamond for today.
09/21 11:10 AM MLB (925) SEATTLE MARINERS at (926) HOUSTON ASTROS
Take: (926) HOUSTON ASTROS +123
My personal AL MVP this year is probably Collin McHugh. Obviously, I’m not talking about the real award. Burt as far as my plays are concerned, I ought find out if there’s a Collin McHugh “fathead” and if so, should put it up in a very visible location.
McHigh has been a money machine for me. I’ve played him in each of his last eight starts, and have failed to get to the winner’s circle only once. McHugh has been no fluke, either. His control has been impeccable, and this guy had worked a nifty game plan virtually ever start. He is keeping his okay but nothing special fastball off the plate and is getting loads of swings and misses with his offspeed offerings. Command has been the key and McHugh, over the past couple months, has simply been one of the best pitchers in the game.
Hisashi Iwakuma provides the opposition today, so this is clearly no soft touch for the Astros. Even though Iwakuma has not been at his best of late, he’s a top quality starter and this is obviously a very big game for the Mariners.
But there’s no way I’m getting off the McHugh express, and I also like the fact I’m getting a good piece with the improving Astros as they bring down the curtain on the home portion of their 2014 schedule. I’m not biting the hand that’s been feeding me, and in fact I’m just going to keep dancing with McHugh till the music stops. The Astros at plus money are the free play for the day.