Marshall Leads Mighty MAC Conquest Of Ranked BCS Teams
by Mike Mitchell
Three Mid-American Conference teams took the BCS to task on Saturday, leading the weekend's parade of upsets.
Marshall scored perhaps the biggest upset on Saturday, knocking Kansas State from the ranks of the unbeaten and undoubtedly out of the top 10 with a 27-20 win in Manhattan as both teams played without their starting quarterbacks.
Kansas State mounted a late drive that was thwarted when Jeff Schwinn's pass fell incomplete on the final play of the game. The loss broke a 41-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents that dated back to 1989.
Toledo ended Pittsburgh's chance for a perfect season with a 35-31 come-from-behind win in front of the Rockets' home faithful at the Glass Bowl. Bruce Gradkowski completed 49-of-62 passes for 490 yards and 3 TDs as Toledo rallied from a 31-21 fourth quarter deficit and scored the game-winning touchdown with 43 seconds remaining.
Northern Illinois got into the MAC-attack by seizing a 19-16 win at Alabama. Josh Haldi threw two touchdown passes and Michael Turner ran for 157 yards for NIU which opened the season by defeating Maryland and moved to 3-0 on the year.
Five games over the weekend featured undefeated teams meeting head-on. Four were played Saturday.
Oregon downed Michigan 31-27. The Ducks staked out a 24-6 third quarter lead, then turned back a furious fourth quarter rally that ended when John Navarre's pass ticked off of the fingertips of Braylon Edwards deep in Oregon territory with 33 seconds left in the game. Edwards hauled in 13 catches for 141 yards for the Wolverines.
LSU topped Georgia 17-10 in another head-to-head battle of unbeaten teams. The Bayou Bengals scored the winning points on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining. Georgia had tied the score at 10 with a 93-yard pass and run, but Matt Mauck led LSU down the field on the ensuing possession.
Iowa smothered Arizona State 21-2 as Nathan Chandler threw 3 TD passes and Fred Russell ran for 151 yards on 27 carries. The Hawkeyes kept their perfect record intact while handing the Sun Devils their first defeat.
Ohio State survived the upset bug once more, downing Bowling Green 24-17 in Columbus. The Falcons rallied late after falling behind 24-7 in the fourth quarter. Will Allen intercepted BGSU quarterback Josh Harris on the last play of the game.
It was the third straight game in which Allen provided the Buckeyes' key play. His 100-yard interception return for a touchdown proved to be the winning points in Ohio State's 16-13 escape over San Diego State two weeks ago. Last week against N.C. State, he made the fourth-down tackle on T.A. McClendon to secure the Buckeyes' victory in the third overtime of that game.
Thursday night, Virginia Tech survived Hurricane Isabel and Texas A&M with a 35-19 win in Blacksburg. The home crowd witnessed Heisman Trophy candidate Kevin Jones finally have a break-out rushing night for the unbeaten Hokies. The junior netted 3 touchdowns and 188 yards on 30 carries (unofficial), most of it in the second half, to help Virginia Tech take control of the clock and the flow of the game.
A total of twenty-nine teams had unblemished records entering the weekend and twenty-seven of them were in action (USC and Nebraska were idle). In all, nine went down.
Texas Tech and Boise State joined Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona State, Bowling Green and Texas A&M (as outlined above) as the weekend victims.
Texas Tech was throttled 49-21 by N.C. State in Raleigh as the Wolfpack bounced back from their disappointing loss at Ohio State last week.
Boise State's 13-game winning streak was halted by Oregon State, 26-24. Derek Anderson passed for 408 yards. James Newson had 9 catches for 208 yards. BSU missed a go-ahead field goal with 7:32 left and never got the ball back as the Beavers killed the clock with a 17-play drive that ended on the Bronco 16.
In other games involving an undefeated team:
Tennessee stayed perfect by grabbing its second consecutive win over Florida in "The Swamp", 24-10. The Vols broke a 30-year futility streak in Gainesville in 2001 with a 34-32 win. Florida has won the last two games in Knoxville as the visitor has taken four straight in this series.
Oklahoma romped past UCLA 59-24 as Antonio Perkins set NCAA records for punt return touchdowns in a game with three, and punt return yardage in a game with 277.
Florida State crushed Colorado 47-7 in Tallahassee, as Chris Rix threw for 395 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Missouri moved to 4-0 the hard way. Middle Tennessee State stared prosperity in the face, and promptly shot it when the winless Blue Raiders blew a 34-26 fourth quarter lead. The Tigers scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion with just 1:17 left on the clock to send the game into overtime where MTSU scored first but missed the extra point kick. Mizzou scored on its possession and booted the extra point for the 41-40 win.
Also, Air Force held off Wyoming 35-29 in the MWC opener for both teams; Louisville routed UTEP 42-14; TCU beat Vanderbilt 30-14; Arkansas smashed North Texas 31-7; Minnesota rolled over La.-Lafayette 48-14; Miami handled Boston College 33-14; Stanford won at BYU 18-14; and Cincinnati slid past Temple 30-24.
Elsewhere, Michigan State dropped Notre Dame in South Bend a week after the Spartans succumbed to Louisiana Tech on their own turf in East Lansing. The 22-16 final marks the fourth straight time that Michigan State has won at Notre Dame Stadium.
Louisiana Tech followed last week's upset of Michigan State with a 16-6 loss to Fresno State.
Georgia Tech, which last week narrowly missed upsetting Florida State, was blown out 39-3 at home by Clemson.
Oklahoma State's Rashaun Woods caught seven touchdown passes from Josh Fields, all in the first three quarters of the Cowboys' 52-6 romp over SMU, to break a 34-year old NCAA record for TD catches in a game. Woods finished with 13 catches for 232 yards.
Miami (Ohio), clobbered Colorado State 41-21. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 330 yards and 2 TDs as the visitors stunned the Rams.
Thursday night, Nevada downed San Jose State 42-30. The game was marked with the return of Neil Parry, the Spartan player who had his right leg amputated at the knee after breaking it in a game nearly three years ago. He saw action late in the game on the punt return team.
Six 1-A teams took on division 1-AA opponents, and one lost. La.-Monroe lost for the sixth straight time to a 1-AA team as Northwestern St. (Louisiana) upended the Indians 14-10. It was their second loss this year to a 1-AA school. Stephen F. Austin beat the Indians 23-21 on Sept. 6. Last year, La.-Monroe lost to McNeese State 24-19. In 2001 they were beaten 20-9 by Sam Houston State. They lost to Wofford and SW Texas State in 2000. Their last victory over a 1-AA school came on 9/16/2000 when they edged Nicholls State 27-21.
Got Victory?: Tulsa upset Arkansas State, as the computer predicted it would, to give Steve Kragthorpe his first win over a 1-A team. The Golden Hurricane routed the Indians 54-7. Kragthorpe's crew beat 1-AA Texas State last week, 41-15, and is now 2-2 through Kragthorpe's first four games.
Kentucky beat Indiana 34-17 to give new head coach Rich Brooks his first victory over a 1-A school. The Wildcats' only other win this season was over 1-AA Murray State.
Only John Thompson (East Carolina) and Charlie Weatherbie (UL-Monroe) have yet to pick up a win out of the season's 18 new head coaches.
Bob Petrino has yet to lose as the new head coach at Louisville (3-0).
Who's Afraid Of the BCS: Non-BCS schools went 6-13 against BCS conference teams. They have performed equally well the last three weeks. Non-BCS teams went 7-14 last week, and 6-14 two weeks ago.
Unbeaten Ranks: 20 teams remain unbeaten in 1-A football. Florida State is the only unbeaten team in the ACC. Air Force is flying solo in the Mountain West. Northern Illinois is the last one standing in the MAC.
Every independent, WAC and Sun Belt conference member has at least one loss.
The Big 12 had six heading into this past weekend, but now is left with only three. The Big 10, SEC, PAC-10 and CUSA each have three, also. The Big East has two.