November 6, 2010

Winners and losers: Michigan gets a lift

It's tempting to say Illinois and Michigan put up a basketball-type score Saturday at the Big House. But in this case, that would be an understatement.

After all, the last Illinois-Michigan men's basketball team ended in a 51-44 victory for the Illini. The schools' football teams combined for 37 more points Saturday before Michigan pulled out a 67-65 victory in triple-overtime.

Even before this game went into overtime, Michigan and Illinois had combined for 90 points. And the Wolverines did much of their damage without star quarterback Denard Robinson, who sat out the fourth quarter and the overtime sessions with dizziness.

The 132 total points made this the highest-scoring game in Big Ten history. The Wolverines' point total could have been even higher, considering they turned the ball over five times.

"We kept the folks interested, but I'm really proud," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez told reporters afterward. "It's all about the heart of our guys."

This represented a huge victory for the beleaguered Rodriguez, whose team seemed headed toward a third consecutive late-season collapse. Michigan (6-3 overall, 2-3 in the Big Ten) snapped a three-game losing streak and became bowl-eligible for the first time in Rodriguez's three-season tenure.

If Rodriguez was the day's biggest winner, the biggest losers were fans of defense. The teams combined for 1,237 yards of total offense, the most in Michigan history. Michigan set a school record with 419 passing yards, and the Wolverines' Roy Roundtree set a single-game school receiving record by catching nine passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.

For all the offense this game produced, it finally was decided by a big play on defense. Michigan's blitz foiled Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase's attempt at a game-tying two-point conversion pass in the third overtime.

"The defense made a play - a fitting ending," Rodriguez said.

Here's a recap of other winners and losers from the 10th week of the season.


TCU and Boise State: Could this be the season someone from outside the six major conferences plays in the BCS championship game? TCU and Boise State solidified their credentials Saturday with blowout victories. TCU made a major statement with a 47-7 rout of Utah to end the Utes' 21-game home winning streak, while Boise State trounced Hawaii 42-7; the Broncos gained a school-record 737 yards of total offense. Both teams also got good news when LSU defeated Alabama 24-21, ending speculation that the Crimson Tide eventually could pass TCU or Boise State in the BCS standings. If Auburn or Oregon loses at some point in the season, an unbeaten TCU or Boise State likely would end up in the championship game.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno: The winningest coach in FBS history earned his 400th career victory Saturday as the Nittany Lions rallied for a 35-21 triumph over Northwestern. By erasing a 21-0 deficit, Penn State matched its biggest comeback win in Paterno's 45-year tenure. Penn State also came back from a 21-point hole in a 35-31 victory over Illinois in 1994.

LSU coach Les Miles: The SEC's biggest gambler twice demonstrated his audacity during a 24-21 win over Alabama. Alabama led 14-13 early in the fourth quarter when LSU faced fourth-and-1 from the Tide's 26. Rather than attempting a field goal or running up the middle, Miles called for a reverse that resulted in TE Deangelo Peterson's 23-yard carry. Peterson's play set up Stevan Ridley's 1-yard touchdown carry that put LSU ahead for good. And when LSU led 24-21 and faced third-and-13 from its 20 on its final series after an injury to starting QB Jordan Jefferson, Miles didn't play it safe. Backup QB Jarrett Lee threw a game-clinching completion to Rueben Randle.

Auburn QB Cam Newton: Granted, his performance came against an FCS program, but Newton showed no indication Saturday that he was distracted by any off-field drama. Newton threw for a career-high 317 yards before sitting out the second half of a 62-24 victory over Chattanooga. Newton's performance came two days after reports surfaced that the NCAA was investigating whether a man had solicited money from Mississippi State while that school was recruiting Newton. Newton threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score. "I haven't done anything wrong," Newton said after the game. "I'm an Auburn athlete, and I'm still playing for Auburn. I love Auburn, and that's all I've got to say. God has blessed me right now. ... When God be blessing, the Devil be messing."

Iowa's luck: Iowa remained in Big Ten title contention Saturday only after an upset literally slipped through Indiana's hands. Indiana appeared to take the lead when Ben Chappell found Damarlo Belcher in the end zone on a fourth-and-10 pass from Iowa's 18 with 28 seconds left. The pass hit Belcher in the hands, but when he brought the ball to his hip as he fell backward, it came loose and fell to the ground. Just like that, a touchdown pass had turned into a harmless incompletion that preserved Iowa's 18-13 victory.

Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon: In his return from a one-game suspension that followed a DUI arrest, Blackmon caught 13 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in Oklahoma State's 55-28 rout of Baylor. He tied a school record with his eighth consecutive 100-yard receiving effort and also ran for a 69-yard touchdown.

Michigan State RB Edwin Baker: One week after Iowa held him to 21 yards on nine carries, Baker rushed for 179 yards and four touchdowns as the Spartans bounced back from their first loss of the season to beat Minnesota 31-8. Baker's touchdowns included two successful fourth-down conversions.

Wisconsin RB Montee Ball: Injuries to John Clay and James White forced the Badgers to turn to Ball, and he responded by rushing for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-13 victory over Purdue. Ball had a total of eight carries in the four games leading up to this one.

Air Force: The Falcons clinched their first Commander-in-Chief's Trophy since 2002 with a 42-22 victory over Army. Air Force beat Navy 14-6 on Oct. 2.

Louisville: The Cardinals overcame the absence of injured starting QB Adam Froman and star RB Bilal Powell in a 28-20 victory at Syracuse that ended their 12-game Big East road losing streak. Louisville (5-4) is one win from bowl eligibility in the first season of Charlie Strong's coaching tenure.

Miami QB Stephen Morris: The true freshman threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson with 27 seconds remaining to give Miami a 26-20 victory over Maryland in his first career start. Morris was starting in place of Jacory Harris, who sustained a concussion in a loss to Virginia last week.

Florida RB Chris Rainey: Even though he carried the ball just three times for 8 yards, Rainey played a critical role in Florida's 55-14 blowout of Vanderbilt. Rainey blocked two punts that set up touchdowns and he also caught a 40-yard touchdown pass, all in the first half, which ended with the Gators leading 41-0.

Stanford: This might be the nation's best one-loss team. Stepfan Taylor rushed for four touchdowns and Andrew Luck picked apart Arizona's defense in a 42-17 victory over the visiting Wildcats. Stanford - whose loss came at Oregon - has scored at least 31 points in each of its games this season.

New Mexico: James Aho's 38-yard field goal as time expired allowed New Mexico to squeak past Wyoming 34-31 for its first win of the season. New Mexico had lost 23 of its past 24 games. This win was particularly improbable because Wyoming's Alvester Alexander, Austyn Carta-Samuels and Robert Herron each ran for more than 100 yards.

UCLA K Kai Forbath's redemption: After missing field-goal attempts from 49 and 36 yards out, Forbath redeemed himself by making a 51-yarder as time expired in the Bruins' 17-14 victory over Oregon State. "There's three things in life you can count on," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said after the game. "Death, taxes and Forbath."

Texas A&M: The Aggies' 33-19 upset of visiting Oklahoma ended a seven-game losing streak against their Big 12 South rival. A&M had lost its past two games against Oklahoma by a combined 131-38. The victory keeps A&M alive in the division race, as well.

Kansas State rushing attack: Collin Klein and Daniel Thomas each went over the 100-yard mark in a 39-14 rout of visiting Texas. The Wildcats ran the ball so effectively that they led 31-0 by the time they recorded their first pass completion, which didn't come until midway through the third quarter.

Navy: The Midshipmen clinched their eighth consecutive bowl bid with a 76-35 blowout of East Carolina, which marked their highest point total since a 121-0 shutout of Colby (Maine) on Nov. 15, 1919. Navy will play in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23.


Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads' gamble: After Iowa State scored an apparent game-tying touchdown in overtime against Nebraska, Rhoads chose to fake the extra-point attempt and go for the win rather than forcing a second extra session. His plan backfired when Eric Hagg picked off the pass from Iowa State holder Daniel Kuehl to give Nebraska a 31-30 victory.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins' job security: Hawkins already was occupying one of the hottest seats in college football even before the Buffaloes gave up 35 consecutive points in the final 11:05 of a 52-45 loss to a Kansas team that ranked 112th in scoring offense. Before Saturday, Kansas had scored as many as 35 points in a game just once all season. "We thought they were going to give up," Colorado RB Rodney Stewart told reporters afterward, "but they never did."

Alabama: The Tide opened the rankings atop each of the major polls, but they won't play for a second consecutive national title. They probably won't even play for the SEC crown. Alabama's loss to LSU means that Auburn can clinch the West Division's spot in the SEC championship game by beating Georgia at home next week.

Utah and Hawaii offenses: Utah headed into the weekend tied for third in the nation in scoring at 45.3 points per game, while Hawaii was 11th at 39.2 points per game. Each team managed just seven points Saturday as Utah was trounced by TCU and Hawaii fell to Boise State.

Cinderella stories: Baylor and Maryland garnered plenty of attention this season for emerging as two of the nation's biggest surprises. Baylor was contending for its first Big 12 title ever, while Maryland controlled its destiny in the ACC Atlantic race one year after going 2-10. Reality hit for both teams Saturday. Maryland's ACC title hopes took a hit when the Terps gave up a touchdown pass in the final minute of a 26-20 loss to Miami. At least the Terps stayed close. Oklahoma State gained a school-record 725 yards of total offense in a 55-28 trouncing of Baylor.

ACC Atlantic Division: Does anybody want to win this division? The top three teams in the division - North Carolina State, Florida State and Maryland - lost Saturday by blowing fourth-quarter leads. Maryland gave up the winning touchdown in the final minute at Miami, NC State lost by one at Clemson and Florida State's Dustin Hopkins missed a 40-yard field goal with seven seconds left in a 37-35 loss to North Carolina. Every team in the division now has at least two conference losses.

Northwestern's ability to handle prosperity: Two weeks after blowing a 17-0 lead against Michigan State, the Wildcats couldn't hang on to a 21-0 advantage at Penn State. In its other loss this season, Northwestern fell 20-17 at home to Purdue after leading 17-10 in the third quarter.

Virginia defense: One week after the Cavaliers held Miami scoreless for the first three quarters of an upset victory over the Hurricanes, Virginia allowed Duke to deliver its highest point total in 20 years. Virginia rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to take a 48-47 lead with 2:26 left, but the Cavaliers allowed a 32-yard completion on fourth-and-20 before giving up Desmond Scott's 35-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds left in the Blue Devils' 55-48 triumph.

Texas: One year after reaching the BCS championship game, the Longhorns (4-5 overall, 2-4 in the Big 12) might not go bowling at all. Texas has lost five of its past six games. Making things all the more perplexing is that Texas' lone win during that stretch came at Nebraska, a 20-13 stunner that could end up costing the Huskers a shot at the national title. The Longhorns' final three games are against Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and Texas A&M.

Missouri's hangover: The Tigers apparently couldn't quite recover from their loss at Nebraska last week, which ended their shot at an undefeated season. Instead of bouncing back, Missouri blew an early 14-0 lead and fell 24-17 at Texas Tech. The loss basically ended the Tigers' hopes of a Big 12 North title; they now need Nebraska to lose twice, which isn't likely.

Oklahoma: The Sooners were stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 on three separate drives in their 14-point loss to Texas A&M. The loss means the only way the Sooners are going to get a BCS bid is if they win the Big 12 title, and they now are in a three-way tie for second in the loss column in the Big 12 South.

Akron: New Mexico's victory over Wyoming left the Zips as the nation's last remaining winless FBS team. Akron fell to 0-10 with a 37-30 double-overtime loss to Ball State.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for He can be reached at

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