By Dave Hershorin
NationalChamps.net Managing Editor
..
November 1 , 2004

HIGHS AND LOWS FROM SATURDAY

On Thursday, Hawai'i senior QB Timmy Chang was supposed to set the career NCAA Division I mark for yardage. Everyone was talking about it. But no one talked about or anticipated the record he did set, the one for career interceptions (74). Chang will set the yardage record soon enough, but give it to Boise State for holding him to a season-low 227 yards and grabbing the four record-solidifying INTs to spearhead the Bronco's 69-3 victory that keeps them undefeated at 8-0 and unjustly ranked around 16th (AP).

Stat of the Week - ABC flashed a graphic just before the half in Penn State's game with Ohio State. It pertained to how far Paterno had already walked/paced by the first half break - his 6100-plus steps equaled 3.6 miles of pure walking just there along the sideline for Joe Pa. Another wild stat for that game was the number of plays by halftime - 51 for PSU and only 21 for OSU, but it was the Buckeyes who were up 21-7.

We now make our weekly comment on Oklahoma. A team that had beat the Sooners two of their last three, opponent Oklahoma State challenged them the whole way, eventually coming up short 38-35 in Stillwater. Two third-quarter runs from freshman RB sensation Adrian Peterson went for 80 and (then) 56 yards, the former going for a score, giving him 33 runs for 249 yards. The Sooner's line wore down a game Cowboy defensive line by the second half, and AD (Adrian's alias down there) soon broke through. Without these two runs via his highly-honed hogs, though, AD only gets 113 yards on 31 carries, and that 3.6 yards per carry average shows what these OSU defenders did to him most of the day. AD and his linemen deserve these big-yardage gainers, yes. But in the frenzy to jump on Peterson's trendy bandwagon (with many in the press even calling him out as the Heisman frontrunner!), many are missing the obvious - defenses control him (like last week vs. Kansas, too) until the Sooner's Heisman-winning QB (Jason White '03) forces men out of the box and into coverage so that running lanes are then more-easily open. It doesn't diminish the quality and impact of OU's powerful running and subsequent results, but it does comment on how deserving these Heisman calls really are. Aluminum tubes do not equal WMDs, and yardage totals do not tell the whole story. If they do, then why isn't North Texas' freshman RB Jamario Thomas - the fourth player ever in I-A to get to 1000 yards in his first seven games, just like AD - in the Heisman mix? Thomas accomplished this feat even though he had only two carries in one game and ten in another. And thanks to all of the OU fans who have chimed-in this past week with e-mails, mostly touting AD while simultaneously realizing he is not yet the Heisman prospect many in the media claim. Hey, look, I can stick up for the little guy as I make a comment on the entire sports-entertainment field.

N.C. State had six TOs - five INTs and a fumble - to assure their loss to Clemson 26-20. The Tigers only had 267 yards of total offense and 17 first-downs, but even N.C. State's third-rated (total) defense couldn't save them this time.

It's worse than we thought, Captain - After opening 5-0, Purdue has gone 0-3. Three in-conference tilts, with the Boilermakers ahead late in the fourth in each, have all gone sour by the final gun. Also, Purdue QB Kyle Orton, who had 17 TDs and just two INTs during the 5-0 start but has two INTs while completing under 50% during the past two losses, was benched in the third and never returned. No. 21, WR Taylor Stubblefield, became Purdue's all-time leading pass catcher in a game where he also moved into seventh on the all-time NCAA reception list. But this day may be remembered for the two late catch-able balls Taylor missed, both balls he had his hands on. The second was on the final "Hail Mary", and that was after the first drop around the 20 that would have given Purdue enough yards for a game-tying FG try. Even with their quality defense, the Boilermakers just cannot overcome a predictable offensive scheme due to their weakened running attack.

Florida had beat Georgia six straight and 13 of the last 14, until Saturday. Florida head coach Ron Zook's mid-week firing distracted a good Gator team that came close towards the end, but eventually failed 31-24. Dawg QB David Greene tied Peyton Manning for the most career wins, but in beating the Gators Greene accomplished something Peyton never could (Manning and UT were 0-4 versus UF). The timing of the well-publicized and highly anticipated termination couldn't have been executed any worse. Florida A.D. Jeremy Foley deserves all the credit for driving a wedge between himself, the program and the alienated upperclassmen who want to play their college ball for the guy who recruited them, Zook. Look for more dissension as the season wears on, which will likely carry over and make eventual adjustments (for the new hire) that much harder. He may have placated many fans, but Foley's actions will ultimately affect (and ruin) the 2004 team's attitude from here on out. Spurrier or Meyer, hmmm?

And to be fair, we have to tip our hats to Maryland, a team we had called out here during their recent slide. Florida State, expecting the same Terrapins that had only gained 366 yards of total offense in their last three games, ran into a buzz saw. Maryland did have the 21st-ranked defense, but it was their 94th-rated offense that surprised the Noles for 387 yards and a 20-17 home win. FSU never deserved their lofty BCS ranking (5th), especially seeing how the ranking body had two undefeated teams (Utah and Wisconsin) behind them. The Seminoles had never lost an ACC game in October (34-1), and the loss was also their first ever against the Terps (14-1). And the whistle is screaming…

Maryland beating FSU was unexpected, but Miami going down to North Carolina was out of anyone's scope of anticipated possibilities. Talk about playing down to your competition, Miami could muster 415 yards but only 28 points against the nation's second-worst (116th-rated) total defense. The Canes allowed 30 first downs and 545 yards of offense, not to mention a drive for a game-winning field goal just as time expired. Miami's defense went from ranking 23rd to 42nd, definitely something no one could have predicted. The Tar Heels trick (besides versatile QB Darian Durant's 21-for-29, 266 yard performance) was to punt away from sophomore WR/PR Devin Hester, something the last two Cane foes failed to do and each ultimately paid a losing price. It was North Carolina's first win EVER against a top five squad. But, more importantly, this and the FSU-Maryland result show parity in a conference that many thought would be dominated by the sunshine state representatives. Virginia and Virginia Tech, both with one conference loss like the Canes, are now chomping at the bit - if either beats Miami, they then move into first in the ACC. And they still have to take each other on (Virginia vs. VT 11/27/04), so keep your eyes on this surging conference's prize.

And for those who feel like someone down there (besides Bush or Gore) is always winning, we give you this - the last time Florida State, Florida, and Miami all lost on the same day was October 14, 1978.

If anyone missed Michigan's 45-37 triple-OT win over Michigan State, you missed the week's best game and the most dominating performance by a non-QB this year. WR Braylon Edwards was the force behind the Wolverine's 17-point fourth-quarter comeback, and then he was the deciding factor in the third OT period. Edwards two late TDs in regulation will forever jump off of the box score page, but it was his immeasurable senior leadership that kept his teammates' hopes and wills alive when down 27-10 with 8:43 remaining. Even overshadowing freshman RB phenom Michael Hart's 33 carry, 224-yard performance, Edwards saved the best of his 11 catches and 189 yards for his three late-game TD plays. State almost won in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1990, but it was UM's comeback that goes into the books - as the greatest comeback in the history of the "Big House".

Lagniappe - Baylor beat Texas A&M for the first time since 1985 thanks to a gutsy call by head coach Guy Morriss to go for (and make) a two-point conversion in the bottom of their first overtime frame at Kyle Field…Baylor remains predictably in their conference basement (3-5, 1-4), but remains the only Big XII South squad to have a losing conference record. Inversely, Nebraska (5-3, 3-2) is the only squad in the Big XII North with a winning conference record…Utah QB Alex Smith is climbing the individual pass efficiency rankings (third nationally) faster than his team is climbing in the BCS rankings (Utah is 7th as this article is written 10/31/04 at 11:00 a.m.). Unfortunately, this dual threat remains on most Heisman back-burners just like his Utes (8-0, 4-0) remain ranked (7th in AP) behind two teams with one loss…South Carolina gained more than twice as many first-downs as Tennessee (30-14), but lost 43-29. Three Gamecock INTs were the reason and the difference in the Vol's 12th-consecutive win over USC…The other USC, Southern Cal, held Wazzu to negative-nine rushing yards and 156 total yards in winning 48-12…Cedric Benson continued his quiet, Heisman-caliber ways, running for 141 yards to keep him ahead of OU's Peterson for total yards and yards per game. Benson becomes the 10th player in I-A history to surpass 5000 yards, but is still not as glorified in his senior campaign as the Sooner frosh, a true bi-product of the over-hyping that one monopolizing sports network can focus on/for whomever they choose. Oh, by the way, Texas is 22-0 when Benson gets to the century mark…Does anyone else notice how first-year coach Mike Price has UTEP at 6-2, meaning they have guaranteed only their second winning season since 1988?…Texas Tech QB Sonny Cumbie has thrown 438 passes, over 100 more tries than the next closest QBs (Rutgers's Hart and Oregon State's Anderson both with 336). But even with Cumbie's lofty number of attempts, seven other I-A QBs also sport 19 (or more) TDs…And for all of you who think Texas Tech and Boise State throw the ball too much, we offer Dana's Tom Lensch. Dana, an NAIA school in Blair, Nebraska with 500 students that features a spread-offense, lost 60-35 to Hastings College, even though Lensch tried 101 pass attempts for 56 completions and 507 yards. This broke the old NAIA record of 92, which still beat Drew Brees' I-A record of 82 against Wisconsin (in a 31-24 loss 10/10/98)…Wisconsin remains the only team to still have allowed under 10 TDs. They have allowed seven in seven games…Wisconsin (4.71) and Alabama (4.99) are the only teams to keep opponents under 5 yards per pass attempt…Auburn is the only team to have allowed just one rushing TD…Does Indiana's 30-21 win over Minnesota more reveal Gerry DiNardo's positive impact on the Hoosiers or the Gopher's continued disintegration (losing three of their last four after starting 5-0)?…Since 2001, Virginia Tech is 26-4 before November, but 5-9 once the 11th month rolls in. With a formidable ACC slate in front of them, we will soon see if the Hokie's foray into this conference truly means more "choking, gobbled" results…Pittsburgh is the only team with three individual players ranked in the top 16 for total passes defended, and two of them are freshmen…Marshall's senior DL Jonathan Goddard leads the NCAA in sacks, and is second in both TFLs (tackles for loss) and forced fumbles…And finally, after losing two more tailbacks in sending the Illini to their 14th-straight conference loss, can Iowa's running game get a break? At 6-2, 4-1 in the Big Ten, Iowa faces Wisconsin (11/20/04) and still has a shot at taking the league title. With upstart Northwestern and the resurging Buckeyes left, Michigan has no guaranties.