September 04, 2011
Snap judgments on Saturday's best.
IMPROV • Joe Adams, Arkansas, and Kaleb Mueller, Missouri State.
By the middle of the third quarter Saturday night, Missouri State had already punted on six consecutive possessions and trailed 37-0 in a blowout even more lopsided than the score suggested. The perfect time, in other words, to just start making stuff up on the fly:
Put yourself in Kaleb Mueller's shoes. Your team is trailing by 37 points to a top-15 outfit that paid your school hundreds of thousands specifically to beat your team by roughly 37 points. At some point in the middle of a chaotic play, your helmet comes off. If your reaction at that point is still to truck 60 yards in frantic pursuit of an All-SEC returner you have no hope whatsoever of catching, well, something tells me there's a spot in an underground Midwestern wrestling circuit with your name on it.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP • Stephen Garcia, South Carolina.
Surprisingly relegated to the bench after 28 consecutive starts, Garcia watched as sophomore Connor Shaw drove the Gamecocks' into a 14-0 hole against East Carolina on four first quarter drives that ended with two fumbles and two punts. Properly motivated, Garcia proceeded to lead Carolina into the end zone on six of their next eight possessions over the final three quarters, running for two touchdowns and throwing for another on the way to a 56-37 rout that sealed the SEC's resident Bro Montana as the full-time starter.
PHILANTHROPY • Oregon and Notre Dame.
Saturday's most high-profile upset victims both fell as a result of their extreme generosity, combining to give the ball away nine times in losses to LSU and South Florida while generating just one turnover of their own. In South Bend, three of Notre Dame's five turnovers came in the red zone, including a goal-line fumble returned 96 yards for South Florida's first touchdown en route to a 23-20 USF win. In Arlington, LSU converted three Oregon fumbles into three short-field touchdowns en route to a 40-27 beatdown, including a second quarter strip-n-score by Tyrann Mathieu for the Tigers' first touchdown.
Honorable Mention: Clinging to a late 13-7 lead in a game that had featured a single offensive touchdown through the first three-and-a-half quarters, Ole Miss quarterback Zack Stoudt got generous with the ball at the worst possible time and place on the field:
Kyle Van Noy's recovery and the subsequent PAT put the Cougars up 14-13, which is right where it ended a few minutes later after two more failed Rebel drives.
FASHION HISTORY • Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, Boise State.
Fans of old-money schools complain that there's no sense of tradition at Boise State, but stars Moore and Martin looked right at home in vintage leather helmets after subjecting Georgia to an old-fashioned butt-kicking in the Georgia Dome. Insert your own "Bronco Nagurski" joke here. Kellen Moore will respond with a polite, crooked grin while wordlessly sending you into unconsciousness with a swift pinch to the neck.
COUNTERINSURGENCY • Brandon Herron, Michigan.
With the score tied at 7-7 and Western Michigan driving inside the Wolverine 10-yard line in the second quarter, Herron abruptly turned the tables by reining in a tipped Alex Carder pass and racing 94 yards to paydirt, completing the longest interception return in Michigan history and sparking a 27-3 Wolverine rally before the game was eventually called on account of bad weather. Herron contributed to the run again in the third quarter, when he took a Carder fumble 29 yards for another touchdown that effectively put the game on ice, regardless of the weather.
ARCHITECTURE • Utah State's Offense.
Starting a true freshman on the road as 23-point underdogs, the Aggies methodically constructed four touchdown drives consisting of at least 14 plays en route to a stunning near-upset on the Plains. For the game, Utah State ran 84 plays to Auburn's 54, outgained the Tigers by 84 yards and held the ball for nearly 39 minutes to Auburn's 22 — and still lost in dramatic fashion, 42-38.
NUTRITION SCIENCE • Jessica Mendoza, ESPN.
Following up on last year's groundbreaking investigative work by CBS' Tracy Wolfson, ESPN sideline reporter Jessica Mendoza tested BYU's theory — taken from "pioneer journals back in the 1800s" — that pickle juice is good for maintaining hydration by taking a big swig of pickle juice on national television during the Cougars' win at Ole Miss. The results were predictable, taste-wise, and probably didn't do anything to keep Jessica hydrated. But she clearly won some points with Bob Davie.
MATHEMATICS • Sacramento State.
After allowing a touchdown to heavily favored Oregon State in the first overtime session, Sacramento State answered with a six yard touchdown pass from Jeff Fleming to Brandyn Reed to pull within a point, 28-27. Shrewdly deducing that two points are better than one, the Hornets opted to eschew the extra point for another all-or-nothing throw into the end zone, which Reed hauled in for the conversion and the final nail in a 29-28 upset.
MEDICAL SCIENCE • Kevin Prince, UCLA.
Prince is no stranger to the training table, having already endured a litany of injuries including a broken jaw, back and shoulder issues, at least one concussion and a knee injury that cost him the final six games of his sophomore season last year. Every one of which was back in play Saturday according to the amateur physicians on Twitter who saw Prince take a hit from a Houston defender that left him briefly motionless on the UCLA sideline:
A reader in the Game Day Live Blog also suggested Prince had suffered damage to his duodenum. The actual diagnosis, according to the Orange County Register: A "mild" concussion. Prince will likely be fine and back at full speed soon, though the same probably can't be said for the Bruins' season after a 38-34 loss in a game they really needed to win.
POP CULTURE • Arsenio Favor, Southern Miss.
Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Southern Miss backup quarterback Arsenio Favor, for some reason hanging a towel out of his shoulder pads like a cape on a pair of goal-line snaps against Louisiana Tech:
Favor only took two snaps in place of briefly banged-up starter Austin Davis in the Golden Eagles' eventual 19-17 win, and didn't even get the offense into the end zone. But I suspect a phone call from a certain GQ reporter may be in his near future.
Meanwhile, everything went more or less according to script in Ohio State's mundane, 42-0 rout over outmanned Akron, until true freshman Evan Spencer turned in a bit of one-handed garbage-time magic in service of fellow freshman Braxton Miller's final stat line: