October 28, 2011

College FB '11 Dread News - Week 8

All this anguish has been going on for at least three decades now .....

  • 1981 - After years and years of mediocrity (and worse), Wisconsin begins the season 4-1, 3-0 in the Big 10, including victories over both Michigan and Ohio State (which was unheard of back then). Ranked #14 and dreaming of a Rose Bowl, the Badgers travel to Michigan State for their first road game of the season. The Spartans whip the Badgers 33-14.
  • 2004 - Wisconsin starts the season 9-0. With dreams of a possible "national championship" dancing in their heads, the #4 ranked Badgers travel to Michigan State for their first serious test on the road. The Spartans slaughter the Badgers 49-14.
  • 2010 - Wisconsin starts the season 4-0 and is ranked #11. the Badgers travel to Michigan State for the conference opener. The Spartans spank the Badgers 34-24.

..... and it continues today .....

  • October 22, 2011 - Wisconsin starts the season 6-0 and is ranked #4. Advertised as arguably the best team in school history and dreaming again of a "national championship", the Badgers travel to Michigan State (where else?) for their first true road game of the season. The Spartans defeat the Badgers 37-31, scoring the winning points on a Hail Mary pass play on the final play of the game.

East Lansing, Michigan - the place where Badgers go to die. Those aren't my words, They were the headline to one of the stories of the game in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Badgers don't always lose at Michigan State. They're 7-16 there all time. But whenever the Badgers have a chance to do something to get their fans really excited, it's always Michigan State that ruins it. I wasn't even surprised when it happened this time.

The Badgers started well enough, jumping to an early 14-0 lead. But then came the 2nd quarter from hell, in which MSU went on a 23-0 run, including an intentional grounding penalty against Heisman hopeful QB Russell Wilson in the end zone (a safety), a blocked FG by MSU, and a blocked punt by MSU which MSU recovered for a TD. Senior WR Keshawn Martin scored on a 34-yard reverse during the run, bringing the Spartans within 14-9. Martin, who finished with 5 receptions for 41 yards, later had a 15-yard TD catch in the 4th quarter (photo above), putting MSU ahead 31-17. It was his 2nd straight game with 2 TD. Wisconsin rallied to tie the game, scoring TDs with 8:10 and 1:26 to go. And it looked like the game was headed for overtime after senior S Aaron Henry (7 tackles, 4-3, 1 TFL) nicely broke up a pass to keep MSU out of FG range with :02 on the clock. But on the last play, 6-foot-2 WR Jared Abbrederis, inserted into the lineup specifically to knock down a Hail Mary pass, was in perfect position to do exactly that. But he mistimed his jump and whiffed completely (first photo below), allowing the ball to deflect off a group of players behind him and back out of the end zone and right into the hands of WR Keith Nichol (second photo below), who caught the ball inside the 1-yard line and was able to get it across the goal line (barely) for the game-winning and heartbreaking TD.

Even if the Badgers had won, I would not have thought of them as "national championship" material. But they certainly would have had a great shot at an undefeated regular season. Thanks to Michigan State, they need not worry about that any longer. And they'll have to get over the disappointment quickly or else they'll be on a 2-game losing streak after playing Ohio State next week.

If UCF is planning on repeating as CUSA champs, they better get going pretty soon. The Knights fell to 1-2 in CUSA East after losing 26-24 to UAB, which came into the game at 0-6. You certainly couldn't blame the defeat on freshman WR Rannell Hall. He had kickoff returns of 34, 57, and 39 yards to give the Knights a short field on all three of their TD drives. Then after UAB took the lead on a FG with 21 seconds remaining, Hall brought back the kickoff 30 yards to the UAB 49 with :14 on the clock. But an incomplete pass on 1st down followed by an INT on the final play clinched the 1st win of the season for the Blazers. Junior RB Brynn Harvey rushed for 74 yards and 2 TD for UCF, and junior S Kemal Ishmael (photo below) had a career high 15 tackles (3-12). Freshman RB Darrin Reaves had 83 yards rushing for UAB.

There was a shot of sophomore CB Shaquille Richardson smiling on the Arizona sideline after he had just been ejected from last Thursday's game against UCLA. But he probably didn't think it was funny when the Pac-12 tacked on an additional 1-game suspension. Richardson, who had a FF on his only tackle in the game, was one of several players suspended after getting involved in a dumb scuffle that broke out (apparently just because of some words that were said) just before halftime of the game, which Arizona led 42-7. As you may or may not know, Richardson was playing against UCLA instead of for them because was dismissed from the team last year after an arrest for purse snatching during the summer before ever making it to the opening of UCLA's training camp, paving the way for his transfer to Arizona. Come on Shaq, get it together, son. NFL teams are already taking you off of their draft boards. Please don't waste the athletic talent you have been blessed with. Senior WR Josh Smith, who transferred to UCLA a couple of years ago, finished the game with 209 all-purpose yards, but most of those were on kickoff returns, which there were plenty of as the Bruins went down to defeat 48-12.

I don't know if you can claim victory as a defensive player when you give up a 20-play, 92-yard drive that ends with a TD. But Georgia Tech's offense is designed to hit the big play, so going 20 plays in a row without allowing one on Saturday was quite impressive by the Miami defense. The Yellow Jackets huffed and puffed, keeping the ball more than 9 minutes before finally scoring their first points of the game to pull within 14-7 with 1:02 to play until halftime. But after all that effort, they gave the points right back almost immediately. Senior WR Travis Benjamin returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards, and the Hurricanes covered the remaining 46 yards in 3 plays, scoring the TD just 37 seconds after Tech had scored theirs. Miami went on to win 24-7. Senior LB Sean Spence had 10 tackles (6-4, 1TFL) to lead the Canes D, which held GT 211 total yards on 62 snaps. No doubt the Georgia Tech offense is struggling, and they need to get it fixed fast because Clemson is their next opponent.

It's never a good day when I have to add a name to the ex-dread list. But it hurts even more when it's the name of a prime-time player. East Carolina WR Lance Lewis was wearing a pink skull cap for Saturday's game at Navy, but there were no dreads underneath it. So I guess that means Lewis will not be a repeat selection on my All-America with dreads team at the end of the season. What a shame. Humiliated by Navy on their home field 76-35 last season, ECU got some measure of satisfaction, holding on for a 38-35 victory. QB Dominique Davis opened the game with 26 consecutive completions to set a new NCAA record, including one to Lewis for a TD and one to senior WR Michael Bowman for a 10-yard TD (photo above, celebrating after the TD), as the Pirates took a 17-7 halftime lead. But after playing well in the 1st half, ECU's defense collapsed late, allowing three TD drives (the shortest of which was 65 yards) on consecutive possessions. The Pirates dodged the bullet, however, three times on Navy's final drive, which began with 2:14 remaining. On 3rd and 1 from the ECU 38, WR Brandon Turner was wide open deep, but the pass was overthrown; three plays later WR Matt Aiken was open deep and looked like he would score the game-winning TD, but after making the catch, he lost control of the ball when he hit the ground, making it an incomplete pass; two plays later Navy went for the tying 42-yard FG attempt, and the ball hit the right upright and bounced away no good as time expired. Davis finished 40 for 45 for 372 yards. In all East Carolina gained 504 total yards and, most importantly, had no turnovers, as they improved to 3-4.

In the FCS ..... It likely was going to be the only chance to see the top 50 dreads of OT Harrison Martin and WR Lyndon Leslie, so I had to watch as much of Gardner-Webb's game as possible on Saturday as the Runnin' Bulldogs went on the road to face Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers earned the Big South's bid to the FCS playoffs last season; but there most likely will be no playoffs this year after they dropped their homecoming game 26-24 to G-W, which hadn't won since opening day. CCU probably got the feeling it wasn't going to be their night when they blocked a punt on 4th and 6 from the Gardner-Webb 33-yard line midway through the 3rd quarter, only to have G-W senior DE Jordan Woods pick up the ball and run it 31 yards for a first down at midfield. The Runnin' Bulldogs scored a TD five plays later to take a 20-10 lead and still led 23-17 after kicking a FG with 2:06 to play in the game. But junior CB Tre Henderson took the ensuing kickoff return 86 yards to the house to put CCU ahead by 1 with 1:53 to go. But an excessive celebration penalty after the TD, followed by two personal foul penalties on G-W's kickoff return, resulted in G-W getting the ball at the CCU 14-yard line. G-W got the game-winning 31-yard FG on the last play of the game to win it 26-24 and end their 5-game losing streak. Henderson finished with 3 tackles (3-0) and 1 PBU; senior CB Josh Norman, an NFL prospect, had 8 tackles (6-2, 2 TFL) and 2 PBU; and sophomore S Johnnie Houston had 7 tackles (5-2, 1 TFL). Woods (photo below) finished with 4 tackles (4-0, 1 TFL); Leslie, a lock to be on my dread All-America team, played a lot but had just 1 reception for 11 yards. Both teams are 1-2 and all but out of the race in the Big South ..... After being held to 6 points on their first 11 possessions by the Bethune-Cookman defense, Norfolk State needed to make their last one count. So they didn't mess around, relying heavily on their top playmaker, junior WR Xavier Boyce. Held to just 3 catches for 15 yards to that point, Boyce had receptions of 45, 5, and 11 yards to help the Spartans drive to the 4-yard line. But on 1st and goal, a pass to the 6-foot-4 Boyce on a fade route was underthrown and intercepted with :51 to go, and B-C held on for a big 14-6 road victory. Senior WR Maurice Francois had 3 receptions for 56 yards, and senior LB Reggie Sandilands had 6 tackles (2-4), 1 sack, and 1 PBU for the Wildcats, who improve to 2-2 in the MEAC and stay alive in the race. Despite the loss, Norfolk State (4-1) is still in the driver's seat thanks to losses by North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State ..... The Maine Black Bears improved to 4-0 in the CAA with a thrilling 23-22 road victory over Richmond, scoring all 23 points in the 4th quarter to erase a 16-0 deficit. One of the biggest plays of the game turned out to be a blocked extra point following Richmond's final TD, which senior S Jerron McMillian returned to the house for 2 points. That put Maine behind 22-9 instead of 23-7, setting the stage for the comeback. McMillian finished with 6 tackles (4-2) and 1 PBU; junior DE Erwin Roach had 6 tackles (2-4) and 2.5 sacks, including a huge sack for an 11-yard loss to take Richmond out of FG range in the final minute; senior S Trevor Coston had a team-leading 11 tackles (9-2), 1 FF, 1 FR, and 2 PBU; and junior WR Maurice McDonald almost made the dread stars list, catching 11 passes for 96 yards. Senior CB Tremayne Graham had 10 tackles (6-4) and got his 1st INT of the season for the Spiders, who drop to 3-4, 0-4 in the rugged CAA ..... CB Bryce Robertson did all he could to go out a winner on senior day (already?) at Bucknell, but it wasn't enough. Robertson had 9 tackles (8-1), had 2 PBU, got his FCS leading 7th and 8th INT of the season, and had a 32-yard punt return to set up the TD that tied the game at 13 early in the 3rd quarter. But Holy Cross kicked a FG midway through the 3rd and made it stand up for the 16-13 victory.

More FCS ..... New Hampshire junior RB Dontra Peters barely missed the dread stars list, rushing for 92 yards and 2 TD in a 27-21 win over Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium; senior WR Jesse Julmiste had 6 catches for 66 yards for UMass ..... Junior DE Romale Tucker had 8 tackles (6-2, 2 TFL), including 1 sack and 1 FF as Towson won at William & Mary for the first time ever (after 7 straight losses) 38-27 ..... Junior WR Nick Hutcherson had a TD reception for the 2nd week in a row, this one a 34-yarder as Albany improved to 4-0 in the NEC with a 63-35 road win over Central Connecticut State; senior RB Brian Fowler had 85 yards rushing for CCSU ..... Bryant sophomore WR Jordan Harris had a 34-yard TD reception in the 1st half then made an even bigger play late, blocking a punt with 1:16 to play to give Bryant the ball at the 25-yard line. The Bulldogs got the TD three plays later with :32 on the clock to win at Robert Morris 34-27. sick sophomore CB Jeremy Woodson added a career high 13 tackles (6-7) for Bryant .....

..... Freshman QB Damien Fleming went 34 for 40 (on mostly short throws) for 297 yards and 1 TD (0 INT), and freshman WR Lenworth Lennon had 13 catches for 70 yards as FAMU defeated South Carolina State 27-24 to end an 8-game losing streak in the series and get their first win at SCSU in 14 years; sick senior S Dominique Ellis had 12 tackles (10-2) for SCSU ..... Sophomore RB Antwon Chisholm had 81 yards rushing, 27 receiving, and scored 2 TD, and junior RB Jeremiah Schwartz scored on a 1-yard run in overtime to give Hampton a 30-27 home win over NCCU ..... Junior CB Justin Bell took an INT return 79 yards to the house (photo above) to change the momentum as well as give Eastern Kentucky a 7-3 lead, and the Colonels went on to defeat Tennessee State 33-22 ..... Junior S Sir Aaron Taylor got his 1st INT of the season and returned it 42 yards to set up Youngstown State's 6th TD of the 1st half; YSU took a 42-3 lead into the locker room and cruised to a 49-23 home win over St. Francis (PA) ..... Weber State sophomore RB Josh Booker had 118 total yards and scored his 3rd TD of the season in a 35-28 home loss to Southern Utah ..... And freshman RB Quincey Forte had 87 yards rushing on 11 carries, while freshman RB Jordan Talley scored a 1-yard TD run in overtime as defending champ Eastern Washington won their 4th in a row after an 0-4 start, defeating Sacramento State 42-35.

Elsewhere ..... Sophomore RB John Hubert rushed for 92 yards and 1 TD, and senior CB David Garrett had a team-leading 11 tackles (9-2) as Kansas State improved to 7-0 with a 59-21 road win over Kansas ..... Junior RB Trent Richardson ran for 77 yards and scored his 16th and 17th TD of the season, and sophomore WR Kenny Bell scored his 1st TD in an Alabama uniform on a 39-yard reception as the Crimson Tide improved to 8-0 with a 37-6 home win over Tennessee ..... Senior CB Ron Brooks took an INT return to the house for the 2nd time in his career, going 28 yards (photo above) in the 3rd quarter as LSU whipped Auburn 45-10 to improve to 8-0 .....Houston junior DE Kelvin King got his 1st career INT and returned it 69 yards to set up a TD, and the Cougars racked up 621 total yards (in just 17:45 of possession) and improved to 7-0 with a 63-28 home win over Marshall ...... Senior RB Aaron Crawford had 62 yards rushing on 17 carries for Texas Tech in a shocking 41-38 road win over Oklahoma, ending OU's 38-game home winning sreak ..... Sophomore RB Rolandin Finch barely missed the dread stars list with 92 yards rushing and 53 receiving, but Boston College lost at Virginia Tech 30-14 ..... Senior CB Terry Carter took his 1st INT of the season 22 yards to the house for Louisiana Tech in a 24-17 road win over Utah State; junior RB Robert Turbin had 121 total yards and 1 TD for USU ..... Junior CB Adrian Bushell and freshman S Calvin Pryor both got their 1st INT in a Louisville uniform as the Cardinals won at home over Rutgers 16-14 to end RU's 4-game winning streak ..... Senior LB Danny Trevathan got his 2nd INT of the season, setting up a TD, and senior S Winston Guy had a game-high 12 tackles (10-2) as Kentucky picked up a 38-14 home win over Jacksonville State ..... And finally, senior LB Darin Davis had a team-leading 9 tackles (2-7, 1 TFL) and 1 FF, while sophomore RB Kyle Griswould and redshirt senior WR Andrew Banks both scored their 1st TD in an MTSU uniform as the Blue Raiders picked up their 1st SBC win of the season 38-14 over winless FAU.

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WEEK 8 DG

1. Senior FB Jared Crank goes down while trying to block for junior RB Ralph Bolden during Purdue's 21-14 home win over Illinois. For a change, Crank had better stats than Bolden, who gained only 28 yards on 12 carries. Crank had 19 yards rushing on 4 carries and had a 4-yard TD catch.

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2. LSU senior S Derrick Bryant gets his 1st career sack, tackling Auburn QB Clint Moseley for a 7-yard loss on 3rd and 2 midway through 1st quarter at Baton Rouge. Bryant finished with a career high 5 tackles (4-1) in LSU's easy 45-10 win.

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3. Maryland senior WR Tony Logan braces for impact from Florida State LB Nigel Bradham at the end of a kick return. Logan returned 4 kickoffs and 2 punts for a total of only 90 yards as the Terrapins tost 41-16. Logan had an outstanding 2010 season returning punts but doesn't have the same supporting cast on special teams this year and has struggled so far.

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4. Sophomore CB Monterius Lovett of Marshall is in chase mode as Houston WR Justin Johnson runs after the catch. Lovett did not get the start and finished with only 1 tackle. The Cougars gave their fans a happy homecoming, crushing Marshall 63-28.

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5. Mississippi sophomore CB Charles Sawyer (foreground) beats teammate and sophomore S Frank Crawford (#5) to a fumble recovery after Arkansas RB Dennis Johnson fumbled at the 1-yard line on 1st and goal late in 3rd quarter at Oxford, MS. Two plays later, however, Arkansas scored a safety to take a 26-17 lead. Crawford finished the day with 6 tackles (2-4) and 1 PBU, while Sawyer had 1 tackle and 3 PBU. The Rebels blew a 17-0 lead and lost to Arkansas 29-24 to drop to 2-5.

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6. Robert Morris senior WR Anthony Coleman uses a stiff-arm to try to get past Bryant DB Sebastian Amedee. Coleman had 4 receptions for 57 yards and 1 TD and returned 4 kickoffs for 118 yards, but Bryant scored 2 touchdowns in the final 3:16 of the game to defeat RMU 34-27.

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7. ODU sick junior WR Nick Mayers can't elude Villanova CB Craig James and has to settle for a 1-yard reception during 2nd quarter. Mayers had 6 catches for 51 yards and 1 TD - all in the 1st half - as the Monarchs jumped to a 30-14 lead. ODU went on to win 37-14 to improve to 6-2.

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8. Junior RB CoShik Williams of Kentucky looks to get past junior CB Francis Duncan of Jacksonville State at Lexington, KY. Duncan finished the afternoon with 3 tackles (3-0, 1 TFL) and 1 PBU, while Williams had his finest day in a UK uniform. The last time JSU faced an SEC opponent they upset Ole Miss in the 2010 season opener. But they had no such success this time. Kentucky won 38-14 to end a 4-game losing streak.

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Kentucky didn't play last week, so you get 2 Winston Guy photos this week.

9. Senior S Winston Guy escorts S Martavius Neloms on his 40-yard fumble return for a TD late in 1st quarter, giving Kentucky a 7-0 lead. Neloms did it all himself on this play, coming unblocked on a blitz and getting the sack, strip, scoop, and score.

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10. Winston Guy and senior LB Danny Trevathan are the first to try on Kentucky's brand new black uniforms, which will make their debut in the Wildcats' Week 9 home game against Mississippi State.

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11. North Carolina senior RB Ryan Houston not only has to worry about the Clemson defender trying to strip the ball from him, he also has to deal with his own teammate, OT Brennan Williams, getting in his way as he tries to pick up some yards. Houston was the game's leading rusher with 63 yards and 2 TD on 12 carries.

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12. Clemson sophomore WR DeAndre Hopkins gets to show off his dreads as his helmet comes off after being tackled by UNC sophomore S Tre Boston on a 26-yard reception to convert a 2nd and 20 during 1st quarter. Boston was the game's leading tackler with 8 (6-2) in Clemson's 59-38 victory. Hopkins made the dread stars list ....

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DREAD STARS

  • DeAndre Hopkins - Clemson - 9 receptions for career high 157 yards and 1 TD in 59-38 home win over North Carolina

  • Joe Adams - Arkansas - 4 catches for 124 yards, including receptions of 37 and 67 yards on TD drives in 3rd quarter as Razorbacks came back from 17-0 deficit to win at Mississippi 29-24
  • LaVon Brazill - Ohio U - 3 receptions for 102 yards, including 78-yard TD in 37-20 road win over Akron
  • CoShik Williams - Kentucky - 22 carries for career high 148 yards rushing in 38-14 home win over Jacksonville State

  • Vernon Frazier - UTEP - 7 carries for career high 167 yards rushing, including TDs of 48 and 83 yards, also had 42-yard kickoff return in 31-17 home win over Colorado State
  • Devonta Freeman - Florida State - 11 rushes for 100 yards, including 41-yard TD in 41-16 home win over Maryland

  • Dont'a Hightower - Alabama - named SEC defensive player of the week - had 8 tackles (2-6) including 1 sack, 2 PBU, and his 1st INT of the season as Crimson Tide defense held UT to no first downs in 2nd half of 37-6 home win
  • Marquese Wheaton - Southern Mississippi - named CUSA defensive player of the week - had 5 tackles (4-1, 0.5 TFL), 1 PBU and 2 big INT, the first of which came on 3rd and goal to preserve USM's 13-3 lead early in 4th quarter, the second of which came on SMU's next possession and which he returned 41 yards to the house in impressive 27-3 home win over SMU

  • Markus Wheaton - Oregon State - Marquese's brother had 5 catches for 99 yards and 2 rushes for 22 yards in 44-21 victory over Washington State
  • Deonte Welch - South Florida - breakout game for freshman WR: 5 receptions for 130 yards in tough 37-34 home loss to Cincinnati .... details from the USF Bulls website: http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=205320874
  • Jerodis Williams - Furman - named SOCON offensive player of the week - 155 yards rushing and 2 TD on 22 carries in 26-21 upset of FCS #4 Wofford
  • Travaris Cadet - Appalachian State - 22 carries for 139 yards rushing and 2 TD, 2 catches for 11 yards, and had 37-yard punt return to set up short TD drive in 35-17 home win over Samford

  • Albert Wilson - Georgia State - 5 receptions for 175 yards, including TDs of 78 and 64 yards, the two longest plays in GSU history (GSU began their program last year) in 27-20 home win over South Alabama in 2 overtimes
  • Lacy McDougald - Jacksonville - named PFL defensive player of the week ... details from the JU website: http://www.judolphins.com/football/news/229/16021/
  • Shakir Bell - Indiana State - 123 yards rushing on 27 carries in 17-14 loss at Illinois State

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HOUSE OF DREAD

It only took 4 TD to take the award this week, and it happened in 2 games - one obvious choice and one surprising.

  • The obvious choice is the end zone at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC; and when you consider that the final score was 59-38, it's amazing that there were only 4 TDs by players with dreads. Sophomore WR DeAndre Hopkins had a 25-yard TD reception, and freshman WR Sammy Watkins had a 42-yard TD reception (photo below) for Clemson. The other 2 TD came on runs of 2 and 12 yards by North Carolina senior RB Ryan Houston.

  • I never thought a game from the Southland Conference would be a HOD winner, but lookee here. The end zone at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, LA, home of the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, also is the house of dread this week. 4 of SLU's 5 TDs were by players with dreads in their 38-28 victory over Texas State. Junior RB Sam Fairley, who had 94 yards rushing and 27 receiving, scored on a 7-yard run; and sophomore RB LaTruan Weary had TD runs of 7, 1, and 9 yards.

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DREADEST

With Robert Griffin and Denard Robinson off this week, and with Trent Richardson and Sammy Watkins having sub-par (for them) performances, the door was open for anybody and everybody to claim player of the week honors. Nobody stepped up and had a really huge game. So I will give the award to Bethune-Cookman junior RB Isidore Jackson, who might be the first dreadest winner on offense not to score a TD. Despite not taking one to the house, Jackson was named MEAC offensive player of the week after rushing for a career high 206 yards on 34 carries in B-C's important 14-6 road win over Norfolk State. Jackson gained 38 yards on the Wildcats' 88-yard drive on their first possession of the game and gained 68 of the 70 yards on a TD drive to start the 2nd half. I couldn't find a photo of Jackson in action in the game, so we'll go with the tiny photo from the B-C website.

NEXT WEEK

I haven't decided which games I will watch in Week 9. No doubt I'll catch at least some of Purdue-Michigan, South Carolina-Tennessee, and Clemson-Georgia Tech. And maybe some of Louisiana-Lafayette-MTSU, Illinois-Penn State, Colorado-Arizona State, and Mississippi-Auburn. In the FCS, the games to watch are JMU-ODU and the Magic City Classic between Alabama A&M and Alabama State, with the SWAC East lead on the line.

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