Mike Kern | College Football Wrap

PLAYERS OF

THE WEEKEND

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National

 

Tennessee's Erik Ainge threw for seven touchdowns in a four-overtime, 52-50 win at Kentucky that clinched the SEC East title for the Vols.

 

Local

 

Omar Cuff rushed for a school-record 288 yards and four scores on Friday in Delaware's 44-7 win over visiting Delaware State in the first round of the Division I-AA playoffs, the first meeting between the programs.

 

AROUND TOWN

Western Michigan 16, Temple 3

 

It wasn't the way the Owls (4-8, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) wanted to go out.

Their only points were on a first-quarter field goal; they finished with 146 yards of offense. The host Broncs (5-7, 3-4), coming off a win at Iowa, had 438 yards.

Vaughn Charlton, who was sacked six times, went 6-for-25. The Owls had six first downs, and converted just one of 14 on third downs.

In their last four games they scored seven, zero (against Penn State) 24 and three points, respectively. They played those games without starting quarterback Adam DiMichele (broken ankle). In the game he was hurt, they dominated MAC East champ Miami (Ohio). In the other wins, they rallied in the fourth quarter against teams that finished a combined 9-27.

So what does it all mean? The MAC had only three teams finish with a winning record, and two more were 6-6; nobody won more than eight. In their first year in the league, Temple showed it's no longer a punch line. Yet anybody who thought the Owls would go into a non-BCS league and not get better wasn't really paying attention. They might even be the favorite next season, as their youngsters continue to grow.

Still, there are never any guarantees.

Three or four wins in Al Golden's second year sounded about right back in August. Now his team has to take the next step, whatever that is. The nonleague 2008 schedule is Connecticut here, with Penn State, Navy and Army on the road. With the entire team back, getting bowl eligible would seem to be a realistic enough goal.

 

AROUND THE NATION

 

Ballot stuffing

 

Not sure whether Arkansas' Darren McFadden will win the Heisman, but he sure earned some votes in Columbus and Morgantown.

 

Fraud five

 

The voting was all but over by Friday.

* LSU: Not hardly the biggest upset in history, or even this month. And it did take triple overtime. Still, you shouldn't be losing at home to Arkansas when you're so close to the national title game. Which is being held in New Orleans. Les Miles, we hardly knew ya.

* Arizona State: It's OK to lose to Southern Cal, even at home, especially in November. But at least look as if maybe you belonged in the Top 5.

* Texas: It's almost OK to lose to Texas A & M, even for the second consecutive year, on the road. But it wasn't really that close. And is it me, or have the Longhorns not been able to win a massive game since Vince Young left. Then again, they didn't win many before he arrived, either.

* Florida State: It's always OK to get beat at Florida, but not by five TDs. And wasn't this the year the 'Noles were supposed to become the 'Noles again?

* Nebraska: It's not OK to allow 65 points at Colorado, particularly in Bill Callahan's last game. Or maybe that's why the Cornuskers did it. Happy job hunting.

 

Mad scramble

 

Just when you thought things couldn't possibly get any goofier . . .

Blame it on Appalachian State, for setting the tone in September.

Anyway, for the second time in 2 months, both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams lost in the same weekend. Shocked?

The only other time Missouri was No. 1 was Nov. 14, 1960. The Tigers lost the next week, to Kansas, in the regular-season finale. Kansas later had to forfeit the win because it used an ineligible player.

Lot of good that did the Tigers, who finished No. 5.

Before this year, Nos. 1 and 2 hadn't lost in the same week in a decade.

This season, No. 1 has gone down three times. The last year that happened was 1990, when No. 1 suffered five losses. Louisiana State became the 12th top-five club to lose to an unranked team. With Kansas losing, it was also the sixth No. 2 to tumble.

LSU is the first team since Notre Dame in 1990 to lose as a No. 1 twice in the same season. It's the first time in 17 years that a No. 1 has lost twice at home in November (see Ohio State).

West Virginia, meanwhile, became the eighth team to be ranked second.

Now there's a week to go. Say what you want about the lack of a playoff, I hear you. But it's hard to argue with this kind of regular season. Just watching LSU games made it worthwhile.

 

Did you notice?

 

* Florida's Tim Tebow broke his right (nonthrowing) hand, but should be able to play by bowl time. He's expected to be in a cast for 2 weeks.

* Boston College beat Miami for the first time since the Doug Flutie game in 1984. The Hurricanes (5-7) are not going to a bowl for the first time in a decade. Matt Ryan became the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards against Miami since Louisiana Tech's Luke McCown in 2000. It's the worst season for the 'Canes since Lou Saban went 3-8 in 1977.

* Notre Dame won its last two games for the first time since 1992.

* Oregon was shut out (at UCLA) for the first time in 22 years.

* Cincinnati won nine games for the first time since 1953.

* South Carolina lost its fifth straight (to Clemson), while Alabama lost its fourth straight (to Auburn). Not sure that's what Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban had in mind.

* In the opening round of the Divison I-AA playoffs, Appalachian State beat visiting James Madison, 28-27. The Mountaineers, your defending champs, scored the winning TD after stopping JMU on a fourth-and-1 at the JMU 32 with 2:35 left. Then they recovered a fumble when JMU was within field-goal range with 22 seconds to play.

* Oklahoma's Sam Bradford set an NCAA freshman record for TD passes, with 32. The old standard was 29, by Nevada's David Neill in 1998 and Texas' Colt McCoy a year ago. *

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