Let’s recap this week by saying one word continuously until it drives you insane to the point where you don’t want to have one, see one, or hear about one for a very long time. Say it with me now: turnover, turnover, turnover.
That was the recipe for failure this weekend for many teams. As the top four took big strides, only a couple top teams took the turnover struggle bus this weekend, and it cost them.
Too many penalties costs WIU a comeback
The Leathernecks tried a second-half storm to comeback and beat South Dakota, but it just wasn’t quite enough. Too many penalties (13 for 125 yards) kept a perfect 4-0 record just out of reach. Let’s not discredit what the deadly duo of Jaelon Acklin and Sean McGuire did in the 38-33 loss. Acklin himself had 343 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 19 receptions. 343! That’s enough for not only the WIU single-game record, but the MVFC single-game record as well! Sean McGuire went on to have a big day in the close loss going 32 for 49 and a whopping 441 yards passing, third-most in school history. The defense, led by senior Brett Taylor’s school-record 28 tackles, struggled in the first half, but found themselves as a big part of a potential comeback by shutting out the Coyotes in the fourth quarter. Steve McShane played his part in trying to make up some ground by basically single-handedly taking over on a drive halfway through the fourth quarter by taking a punt return 77 yards, capturing a 22-yard reception right after that, and then proceeding to punch it in from one yard out to make it 38-20. So close for the Leathernecks. One can only think of what a couple less penalties could have done for Big Purple.
Florida State finally escapes
The Noles finally figured out a way to win in Winston-Salem against Wake Forest. Florida State has been very shaky and riddled with injuries, leading to their first 0-2 start since 1989. The offensive line is still terrible and the running game inconsistent. 3rd down conversions aren’t a strong suit either, going 4 for 15, further lowering their average, slightly, from 29.6%, which ranked them 117th nationally. The Demon Deacon defense got to James Blackman five times and had a school-record 17 tackles for a loss! Jessie Bates lead the defense with 14 tackles. Wake QB John Wofford, who had 271 passing yards and led the team with 63 rushing yards, including one rushing touchdown, had his efforts erased on a last-second hail-Mary to finish the game 26-19. Let’s just say, it’s going to be a quiet year in Tallahassee if they keep this up.
LSU is in peril
Man, oh man, is it a long, slippery slope for those tamed Tigers in Baton Rouge. For the first time in fifty games, LSU has lost a nonconference game in Death Valley. There really isn’t much to break down in this game other than the Trojans from Troy brought the wooden horse to Baton Rouge and took this SEC fortress entirely by storm. Please excuse that horribly needed pun/analogy. Anyway, Derrius Guice was sidelined for this game, which isn’t to say that LSU would’ve still had a chance with how horrible everything else went for them, but he very well could have been the difference between 24-21 and a nail biting win for No. 25 LSU. The Tigers now fall to 3-2 and move on to a meaty part of their schedule, facing Florida next week followed by a very good Auburn team. Troy is 4-1 and looks to compete for a Sun Belt championship, continuing conference play against South Alabama.
Wazzu vs USC for worst o-line
Sigh. Okay, it’s not completely Sam Darnold’s fault for fumbling the ball with 1:27 left in the game, and it’s not completely his fault that SC couldn’t pull out the ‘W.’ Wazzu is a real contender this year and they showed it with their defense which ranks in the top 15 in total defense right now. Keeping Darnold to 51.7% passing, 164 yards, and an INT. Ronald Jones II had a good performance and really was the Trojans’ only shot, rushing for a touchdown with 128 yards on 14 rushes with Darnold adding two on the ground as well. Good, but not good enough. All right, can we talk about Luke Falk now? Did I hear Heisman hopeful? He’s in the top 5 in almost every passing category and has the highest passing percentage with at least 100 pass attempts, completing almost 75% of his passes. Wazzu struggled on the offensive line, allowing five sacks and six tackles for a loss. However, the Trojans’ O-Line didn’t help Darnold out either, because eventually, every pass play seemed to be a bootleg to try to give him more time and space to deal with his confidence issues. I do believe Darnold is as good as his line, which is incredibly injury-riddled, but he’s really good when it comes to clutch situations, other than fumbling with 1:27 left. Oh well, on to next week.
Ball security gives Iowa the L
Not a whole lot happened in this physical, defensive battle between Michigan State and Iowa. Two early touchdowns between Brian Lewerke and Felton Davis III set up the Spartans for a much-needed home victory. Both teams managed only a total of 107 yards rushing . . . combined. Yeah, Iowa only had 19 total yards on the ground and MSU had 88. Both teams combined barely mustered up 500 total yards in offense. To put that in perspective, the average yards gained between both teams was about 4.25 yards per play. Only three teams in FBS average less than that per game, and all three of those teams rank 122nd or worse in total offense. A -4 turnover didn’t help the Hawkeyes either.
Second-half turnovers dismantles Hokies
There’s only one word to describe what happened to Virginia Tech at home in Blacksburg, and that was: turnovers. Want to know how I know this was the difference? Let’s compare VA Tech and Clemson, respectively; total yards: 332-342; TOP: 30:44-29:16; first downs: 14-17; 3rd down %: 26.6-37.5. It is virtually equal until you reach the elephant in the room and look at the turnovers: 3-0. Sure, the Hokies were just out-played and off to a slow start in the first half, but not turning the ball over is what kept them in the game. And then the second half came . . . a late interception, a pick six, and a fumble leading to a score later and Tech finds themselves down 31-10 with only eleven minutes left in the fourth quarter against one of the top defenses in football. Let’s just say Kelly Bryant rolled on into the sunset with his 280 total yards and a passing touchdown to help lead the No. 2 Tigers to a well-deserved victory.
Crimson Tide rolls Rebels
A game that most might have considered could have been close turned out to be a very lopsided affair. No. 1 Alabama looked adamant to destroy all the hopes and dreams of the turtle-like Rebels, who have kept it close and even won two of the last three meetings. The scandal that ousted its head coach and no real threat on defense cost Ole Miss a 66-3 defeat at the hands of Jalen Hurts and the unstoppable train of rushing threats at Alabama. Of the eight touchdowns, five of those were rushing touchdowns scored by five different players. Did anyone see DeMarkus Lodge just give up on that 1st-quarter pick-six? The program seems absolutely demoralized.