September 21, 2008

Huguenin's weekend winners and losers

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com.
He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.
Saturday was a big day in the Southeastern Conference.

Three nationally telvised games featuring four of the SEC's five top 10 teams went a long way toward determining the pecking order this season in the nation's deepest conference.

There were dozens of other college football games this week, and there were plenty of winners and losers.

We'll point out a few of them here, as well as some things you may have missed.

WINNERS

Late-night viewers: If you went to bed right after Auburn-LSU or Arizona State-Georgia, shame on you. Two televised games went into overtime and ended after midnight Eastern time: Fresno State outlasted Toledo 55-54 in double-overtime and UNLV got its second consecutive overtime victory over a "Big Six" school by beating Iowa State 34-31. Toledo kicked a late field goal to send its game into overtime, then failed on a two-point conversion in the second OT. Iowa State sent its game into overtime on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 3 seconds left a laser from Austen Arnaud that somehow made its way through triple coverage and into the arms of R.J. Sumrall. The Cyclones lost when UNLV scored on a 25-yard TD pass on its first play of overtime. Phillip Payne, the freshman who made the wondrous one-handed grab last week to send the game against Arizona State into overtime, caught the game-winner for UNLV against Iowa State.

LSU: The Tigers took the inside track to the SEC West crown by rallying to win at Auburn in a matchup of top-10 teams. LSU won it on a gutsy play-call in the final minute a pass that went for a touchdown when all that was needed was a field goal.

Boise State: The Broncos now officially are in the BCS-buster mix after their upset victory at Oregon. Boise couldn't run, so instead redshirt freshman Kellen Moore carved up Oregon's vaunted secondary to the tune of 386 yards and three touchdowns. Oregon was Boise's toughest non-conference opponent of the season, and the Broncos now should be favored in every game the rest of the way. They end the season by playing host to Fresno State on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Knowshon Moreno: Moreno and Georgia had no problems dispatching Arizona State. Moreno ran for 149 yards and scored two touchdowns for the fifth game in a row and the eighth time in the past 10 games. He put himself in the Heisman race with his performance Saturday.

Charles Scott: Scott, LSU's starting running back, had put up gaudy numbers in the first two games. But that was against patsies. Saturday, he did it against Auburn, running for 132 yards against a superb defense.

Northwestern: All hail the Wildcats. It wasn't pretty but they beat Ohio University 16-8 for their first 4-0 start since 1962.

Alabama: Arkansas was supposed to provide a test, but the Tide rolled again, hammering the Hogs 49-14. That sets up a monster game this week: Alabama at Georgia. The Bulldogs won in Tuscaloosa last season on a touchdown pass in overtime.

Minnesota: One season after suffering through a 1-11 debacle, the Golden Gophers are 4-0 after crushing a Florida Atlantic team that beat them last season. We're still not sure how good the Gophers are because of their easy schedule, but we should know more soon. Minnesota plays three of its next four on the road, starting this Saturday at Ohio State.

Florida: The Gators' defense and special teams led the way in an easy 30-6 victory at Tennessee UF's fourth victory in a row in the series. Florida's offense didn't do all that much (243 total yards), but it was productive: The Gators punted just once, Tim Tebow threw two TD passes and Emmanuel Moody served notice that he could be the feature back that Urban Meyer has wanted since he got to Gainesville in 2005. Florida's Brandon James returned a punt for a touchdown; he also had a big kickoff return on the first play of the game to set up Florida's first touchdown.

Ball State: The Cardinals moved to 4-0 and are the only unbeaten team in the 13-school Mid-American Conference after rolling past host Indiana in just the sixth meeting between the in-state schools. The schedule sets up in such fashion that Ball State David Letterman's alma mater should be 10-0 when it plays at defending MAC champ Central Michigan on Nov. 19.

Utah State: The Aggies don't win all that often heck, they had lost eight home games in a row going into Saturday's matchup with Idaho so let's give them a shout-out. They hammered the Vandals for their first victory of the season. Alas, it will be a short-lived winning streak: They play BYU which has shut out two opponents in a row next week.

LOSERS

Auburn: The Tigers' defense faltered late for the second season in a row against LSU. As a result, Auburn essentially is two games back in the SEC West race. Auburn's secondary was beaten on some big plays, and the run defense couldn't handle LSU's Charles Scott.

Florida State's offense: FSU moved into the top 25 on the heels of easy wins over Western Carolina and Chattanooga. Suffice it to say, if anyone votes for the Seminoles this week, they need to have their voting privileges revoked. FSU committed seven turnovers in losing to Wake Forest for the third consecutive time. The defense is fine. It's the offense that once again can only aspire to be mediocre. There's a brewing quarterback controversy (starter Christian Ponder was benched at halftime), a line that still has a long way to go and a lack of consistent playmakers.

Tennessee: The Vols fell apart early in losing at home to Florida. While it's the second consecutive season they've been beaten handily by the Gators, this season's Vols don't look as if they're going to be able to bounce back like the 2007 Vols. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton's growing pains in a new offensive scheme seem unlikely to go away quickly, and unless they pull an upset this week at Auburn, a 1-3 start seems likely. Right now, a trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl looks to be the best the Vols can hope for this season.

Greg Schiano: His Rutgers team fell to 0-3, losing to one-dimensional Navy. The Scarlet Knights are 0-3 for the first time since 1999. Rutgers has an easy one next week (Morgan State), but then plays three of its first four Big East games on the road (at West Virginia, at Cincinnati, vs. Connecticut, at Pittsburgh). Coaches who annually are being mentioned for bigger jobs stop getting mentioned when their teams stumble. That 2006 season almost seems like a mirage.

The Pac-10: The league suffered another blow when Oregon the only conference team other than USC that was ranked fell at home to Boise State. Meanwhile, Arizona State fell to Georgia in a game that could've given the league a huge boost nationally.

East Carolina: Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Pirates fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, falling 30-24 in overtime to a North Carolina State team that previously had shown no offensive prowess. ECU had been one of those teams that had been mentioned as a possible BCS "interloper." You'll hear little about the Pirates from here on out.

SMU's offense: Hey, June Jones you're not in Hawaii anymore. SMU has scored seven points in each of the past two games. The Mustangs were routed last week by Texas Tech and this week by TCU. Fourteen points in two weeks? That was three minutes of possession time with Hawaii.

DID YOU SEE THAT?

Ohio State freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor completed 10 passes in the Buckeyes' win over Troy. Four went for touchdowns.

Did anyone else notice that Pitt was a one-point favorite over Iowa and that the Panthers won by one?

South Florida linebacker Brouce Mompremier was taken off the field in an ambulance during the Bulls' victory at Florida International. He and teammate Carlton Williams had a nasty collision while making a tackle. Williams was down for a while, but eventually got up. Mompremier was down for more than 10 minutes. The game was in Mompremier's hometown of Miami, and his mom was in the stands. In an eerie scene, his mom and two other family members were led onto the field while he was being placed in the ambulance.

Nice job by ESPNU game analyst Charles Arbuckle blasting some classless fans who were yelling obscenities which were audible on the broadcast while Mompremier and Williams were motionless on the ground.

Temple's Travis Shelton had a 74-yard kickoff return to Penn State's 26 in the second quarter of the Nittany Lions' easy win. After he was tackled, Shelton got up and tossed the ball in the air a la Washington's Jake Locker. But there was no celebration flag on Shelton; instead, an official chased him across the field, presumably to tell him not to do that again.

One thing ESPN's Mark Jones and Bob Davie haven't seen in the past two weeks is a touchdown. Jones and Davie did Auburn's 3-2 victory over Mississippi State last week and Wake Forest's 12-3 victory over Florida State this weekend.

This isn't something we saw; instead, it's something we can barely see. We're four weeks into the season, and we've come to a conclusion: ESPN's decision not to make a big deal of the starting lineups of each team is a bad one. Instead of listing the starters in the middle of the screen, as networks have done since the dawn of time, ESPN instead has decided to run them in a crawl across the top of the screen. Weak. There's still a lot of season left, guys; bring back the old-fashioned starting lineups.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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