November 14, 2011

Rivals.com Week 11 Conference Call

Here's a quickie look at the weekend's action in a conference-by-conference manner.

Think of it as one final chance to look back at the weekend that was. We will have this conference call every Monday.

ACC

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Boston College. The Eagles seemingly had little incentive after officially falling out of bowl contention last week, but they still found a way to win 14-10 over a North Carolina State team that had more at stake. The Wolfpack were coming off an impressive victory over North Carolina and needed two more wins to earn bowl eligibility. After losing six of its first seven games, Boston College has won two of its past three.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAMS: N.C. State's offense. Don't blame North Carolina State's defense for its loss to Boston College. The Wolfpack held Boston College to minus-2 yards of offense in the second half. But N.C. State's offense failed to capitalize and didn't reach the end zone until the last 71/2 minutes of the game. The Wolfpack rushed for only 47 yards on 20 carries against a Boston College team that was starting true freshman Max Ricci and redshirt freshman Dominic Appiah at defensive tackle. Because two of North Carolina State's wins are over FCS programs, the Wolfpack (5-5) now must sweep Clemson and Maryland in the next two weeks to become bowl-eligible.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Clemson WR Jaron Brown. Somebody had to step up for Clemson after star WR Sammy Watkins left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. Brown filled the bill. Brown, a junior receiver, caught a career-high six passes for 78 yards as Clemson clinched the Atlantic Division title by erasing a 14-point, second-half deficit in a 31-28 victory over Wake Forest. Brown's 10-yard touchdown reception tied the game with 5:27 remaining.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYERS: Wake Forest WR Chris Givens. It's tough to pull off an upset unless your big-time players are delivering big-time performances. Givens couldn't deliver in that regard Saturday. Givens, who entered the day as the ACC's leading receiver, caught four passes for 31 yards against Clemson to continue his late-season slump. Givens scored in five consecutive games and had four consecutive 100-yard performances during a red-hot midseason stretch. But he has just 16 catches for 128 yards and no touchdowns during Wake's current three-game losing streak.

BIG EAST

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Pittsburgh's run offense. A committee approach featuring Wisconsin transfer Zach Brown, freshman Isaac Bennett and QB Tino Sunseri enabled Pitt to rush for 200 yards, the most against Louisville all season. Pitt averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored two rushing touchdowns in its 21-14 upset of the Cardinals.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Louisville. After the game, coach Charlie Strong criticized his team for not being able to handle prosperity. That was true on both sides of the ball, but the offense regressed most. The Cardinals had made strides in recent weeks, but they amassed only 280 yards in the loss to Pittsburgh, Louisville's lowest total in four games. Louisville rushed for 115 yards and converted only 3-of-11 third downs.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: USF QB B.J. Daniels. The Bulls needed someone to take charge after a four-game losing streak, which ended the Bulls' chances of winning the Big East and threatened their chances of a seventh consecutive bowl bid. Despite injuries in the receiving corps and the absence of TB Darrell Scott, Daniels was 23-of-34 for 254 yards against Syracuse. He also rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown as USF finally held onto a fourth-quarter lead in a 37-17 win at Syracuse on Friday.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros's ankle injury. Another of the top offensive players in the Big East is sidelined for the remainder of the season. Collaros suffered a broken ankle on a sack by West Virginia's Bruce Irvin in the second quarter. The injury will keep Collaros out for the at least the rest of the regular season. Cincinnati still leads the Big East despite a 24-21 loss to the Mountaineers, but four teams are tied for second. Sophomore Munchie Legaux will try to keep Cincinnati in the Big East lead, and his first two starts will be on the road, against Rutgers and Syracuse.

BIG TEN

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Penn State's focus. The Nittany Lions could have folded Saturday, especially after falling behind 17-0 in the third quarter. When TB Silas Redd went out with an injury after 15 carries and 53 yards, few could have been shocked if Penn State called it a day on offense. They didn't. Stephfon Green entered the game and rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries to give Penn State a fighting chance in the 17-14 loss to Nebraska.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Ohio State's defense. The Buckeyes have come to accept that their offense isn't going to be consistent. The Buckeyes' defense, though, has been steady enough to give freshman QB Braxton Miller a chance to win. But on Saturday, Purdue amassed 363 total yards, the most for an opponent against Ohio State since the Oct. 8 loss to Nebraska. QBs Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve combined to go 25-of-37 for 154 yards.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Michigan TB Fitzgerald Toussaint. Two weeks ago, Toussaint, a junior, gave Michigan a sorely needed second playmaker in the ground game. He was stymied last week in a loss to Iowa, but returned to form early against Illinois. Toussaint rushed for 65 yards on the second play of the game to set up Michigan's first touchdown. With another pedestrian passing day from QBs Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner (8-of-15, 139 yards, one touchdown, one interception), Toussaint had career-highs in yards (192) and carries (27) and scored a touchdown in a 31-14 win.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Iowa TB Marcus Coker. Michigan State's defense is one of the best in the Big Ten. That was reinforced again with the Spartans' work on Coker. He rushed for 57 yards, his second-lowest total of the season, on 21 carries. He entered the game with a streak of four consecutive games with at least 120 yards and two touchdowns.

BIG 12

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Oklahoma State's defense. The Cowboys' maligned defense held Texas Tech scoreless in a 66-6 romp (the Red Raiders' touchdown came on a fumble return). The Cowboys were just 110th in the nation in total defense and had allowed at least 24 points in each of the past seven games. But they surrendered a season-low 270 yards of total offense to Texas Tech.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Texas' offense. Yes, the Longhorns were without leading receiver Jaxon Shipley and the top three rushers were injured - Malcolm Brown (toe), Joe Bergeron (hamstring) and Fozzy Whittaker (knee). Still, Texas was disappointing in managing just five points in a loss to Missouri, which had allowed at least 31 points in each of the past three games. It was the first time since 2005 the Longhorns did not reach the end zone.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Kansas State QB Collin Klein. Klein, a junior, had proved himself a powerful runner. But he threw for a career-high 281 yards and rushed for another 103 while accounting for six touchdowns in a 53-50 quadruple-overtime victory over Texas A&M. That included a 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak in the fourth overtime to clinch the victory.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Texas QB David Ash. He didn't have much help, but he also was ineffective in a 17-5 loss to Missouri. The Tigers entered the game ranked 103rd in passing defense and had allowed more than 300 passing yards in each of the previous three games. But Ash completed fewer than half his passes for a mere 158 yards. He also threw an interception. Ash was replaced by backup Case McCoy in the third quarter, though he did return in the fourth quarter. Ash's struggles showed that if Texas cannot establish its running game, it cannot move the football.

MOUNTAIN WEST

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Wyoming. One season after finishing 3-9, Wyoming is one victory away from bowl eligibility with a true freshman quarterback. Amid winds that reportedly reached as high as 60 mph, QB Brett Smith ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third score as Wyoming won 25-17 at Air Force for its second road victory in three weeks. Wyoming forced four turnovers, including three in the final two minutes. Because it beat two FCS programs, Wyoming (6-3) still needs one more win to become bowl eligible. Honorable mention goes to New Mexico, which defeated UNLV 21-14 to end a 12-game losing streak.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Boise State's pass defense. Boise State entered the day leading the Mountain West and ranked 12th nationally in pass efficiency defense, but the Broncos got absolutely torched by TCU QB Casey Pachall in a 36-35 loss. Pachall threw for 473 yards and five touchdowns. Three of his touchdown passes covered at least 69 yards.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: TCU WR Brandon Carter. This true freshman delivered a breakthrough performance Saturday with four catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State. His 25-yard touchdown catch with 1:05 left led to the two-point conversion that put TCU ahead for good. Carter had caught just 14 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown through TCU's first nine games.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Pick a kicker, any kicker. It wasn't a banner day for kickers across the conference. Boise State's Dan Goodale had the most notable miss when his potential game-winning 39-yard attempt sailed wide right as time expired. But he wasn't alone. TCU's Ross Evans missed an extra-point attempt. New Mexico's James Aho missed a 37-yarder and had a 46-yarder blocked in a 21-14 victory over UNLV. San Diego State's Abel Perez made a tiebreaking 37-yarder with 5:49 left to beat Colorado State 18-15, but he missed from 22 and 44 yards out earlier. Mountain West kickers went a combined 2-of-7 on field goals Saturday, even though only two attempts were from at least 40 yards out.

PAC-12

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Colorado. The Buffaloes, who had been blown out in five consecutive games, posted their first Pac-12 victory, 48-29 over Arizona. They amassed 500 yards of offense as RB Rodney Stewart rushed for 181 yards and threw a touchdown pass. The victory enabled the Buffaloes to avoid going winless at Folsom Field for the first time in school history.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Stanford's run defense. The Cardinal was 18th in the nation in total defense, but there were concerns that ranking was a by-product of playing so many opponents with mediocre offenses. Those reservations proved to be legitimate in a loss to Oregon. The Cardinal allowed 232 rushing yards and a season-high 53 points in a loss that ended their national championship hopes.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Washington State QB Connor Halliday. He had not played since Sept. 10, but made the most of his first extended playing time. He was 27-of-36 passes for 494 yards and four touchdown to lead the Cougars to a stunning 37-27 upset of Arizona State.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: UCLA QB Kevin Prince. The Bruins' two-game winning streak came to an abrupt end in a 31-6 loss to Utah. Prince completed just half of his passes (12 of 24) and threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. He also rushed for just 10 yards.

SEC

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Georgia. Really, there wasn't much surprising in the SEC this week when it came to teams. But Georgia's margin of victory in its 45-7 beatdown of Auburn was somewhat of a surprise. A Georgia win was to be expected. But by 38 points? It was the Bulldogs' biggest win in the rivalry since a 41-0 rout in 1946.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Auburn. The Tigers scored on their first possession against Georgia, but it was all downhill after that in the Bulldogs' rout. Auburn trailed 35-7 at halftime. The Tigers finished with 195 total yards, and 76 came on the first drive. In addition, they surrendered 528 yards.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Georgia TB Carlton Thomas. Going into Saturday's game with Auburn, Thomas, a junior, had rushed for 564 yards in his career. He ran for 127 on 15 carries against the Tigers. His previous career-high had been 71 yards against Coastal Carolina earlier this season; his previous career-high against an SEC opponent was 40 against Vandy last season in mop-up duty.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYERS: Florida's defensive line. South Carolina can't throw the ball, ranking 102nd nationally in pass offense. So, you crowd the line and shut down the Gamecocks, right? Well, that's the plan, but the plan won't work if your defensive line gets dominated, which is what happened to the Gators. South Carolina threw just 13 passes, completing seven for 84 yards. But the Gamecocks ran for 215 yards, with true freshman TB Brandon Wilds gaining 120 and QB Connor Shaw adding 88. For the season, Florida is allowing 132.5 rushing yards per game, with 12 TDs. But in its five losses, UF has surrendered 11 rushing TDs and an average of 203.8 rushing yards per game.

OTHERS

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: New Mexico State. The Aggies never had won against Fresno State, carrying a 0-17 record into their game Saturday. But a big performance from WR Taveon Rogers - 10 receptions for 166 yards and a TD, plus a kickoff return for a score - lifted New Mexico State to a thrilling 48-45 win over the Bulldogs. The loss intensified the heat on Fresno State coach Pat Hill, who seems likely to be let go this season.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: SMU's offense. SMU's defense played relatively well in a 24-17 loss to Navy. The same can't be said for the offense, specifically the passing attack. SMU managed just 249 passing yards, with one TD and two picks, against the Midshipmen. In the Mustangs' three losses with him as the starting quarterback J.J. McDermott has thrown one TD pass and eight picks. SMU's defense is championship-worthy in Conference USA. But in a twist that has to upset coach June Jones, a relatively mediocre offense means SMU likely is going to finish third in its division.

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Louisiana-Monroe TB Jyruss Edwards. Edwards, a sophomore, had the first 100-yard game of his career Saturday - and it was closer to 200 yards than to 100. He ran for 191 yards and three TDs in a 42-14 rout of Middle Tennessee State. His previous career-high had been 90 yards against FCS member Grambling earlier this season. He has rushed for six TDs in the past two games and has nine for the season.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: East Carolina QB Dominique Davis. UTEP is 92nd nationally in pass defense, surrendering 250.0 yards per game. But Davis managed to throw for just 133, with two picks, in a 22-17 loss. ECU now must win out over UCF and Marshall to become bowl-eligible.

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