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November 7, 2011
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.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: N.C. State's defense. North Carolina State entered the weekend ranked 82nd nationally in total defense, yet the Wolfpack allowed just 165 total yards and recorded their first shutout since 2006 in a 13-0 victory over North Carolina. The Wolfpack had three sacks, picked off three passes, knocked North Carolina QB Bryn Renner out of the game with concussion-like symptoms and held Tar Heels star RB Giovani Bernard in check.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Cincinnati's fourth-quarter resolve. The Bearcats (7-1 overall, 3-0 in the Big East) are the only Big East team with fewer than three loses, but that doesn't mean it has been an easy road. Cincinnati needed to overcome 10-point deficits in the second half in the past two games to take the Big East lead. Two weeks ago, Cincinnati trailed USF 27-17 entering the fourth quarter, but QB Zach Collaros accounted for three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bulls 37-34. This week, Cincinnati was behind again, down 23-13 to Pittsburgh for most of the third quarter. The Bearcats weren't as explosive in the fourth quarter against the Panthers, but they were nonetheless effective. Tony Miliano kicked two field goals and Collaros had another fourth-quarter touchdown run. Cincinnati couldn't put together a sustained drive to keep the ball away from Pittsburgh, but the Panthers couldn't crack Cincinnati's defense, either.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Northwestern's offense. After losing starting QB Dan Persa to a shoulder injury in the second quarter at Nebraska, Northwestern's offense suffered no letdown. Northwestern never even lost the lead. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian stepped in as an effective run-pass duo for the second half. Colter was 4-of-6 for 115 yards with an 81-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ebert. He also rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns. More than that, Northwestern's offense pushed around the traditionally stout Nebraska defense in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Baylor's offense. The Bears have been productive all season, but they reached historic levels of effectiveness in a 42-37 victory over Missouri. The Bears set a school record with 697 yards of total offense as QB Robert Griffin III passed for 406 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 64 and another score. In addition, TB Terrance Ganaway rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard run.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Air Force's defense (in the second half). Air Force ranks near the bottom of the FBS in run defense and struggled for the first two quarters of Saturday's game with Army. The Falcons gave up 286 rushing yards in the first half and were lucky to be behind only 14-0 at intermission, as Army lost a fumble in the end zone and gave up the ball on downs inches shy of the goal line. But the Falcons turned things around, as they allowed just 80 total yards and held Army scoreless in the final two periods of a 24-14 victory. After running 44 times for 286 yards in the first half, the Black Knights mustered just 54 yards on 20 carries in the last two quarters.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: UCLA's offense. The Bruins amassed 416 yards in total offense against Arizona State. That was their highest output since gaining 417 against San Jose State in the second week of the season. QB Kevin Prince passed for 196 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 61 yards. He also led the Bruins on a 10-play drive for a game-winning touchdown with 49 seconds left.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Kentucky. OK, beating Ole Miss isn't that impressive. Truthfully, it's not impressive at all. Still, a UK team that had been horrendous on offense put up 398 yards and 30 points in pounding the Rebels and likely putting the final nails in Houston Nutt's coffin. True freshman QB Maxwell Smith threw for 283 yards and two TDs, and his play lends some hope that UK can at least be credible on offense the rest of the season.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Idaho. Idaho was 1-7 and carried a six-game losing streak into its game at San Jose State; the only win was over FCS member North Dakota. But the Vandals for a season-high 183 yards and rallied from a 22-10 halftime deficit to down the Spartans 32-29. Idaho scored three fourth-quarter TDs to come away with the win.
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