Sunday, September 11, 2011

Helmet Stickers: Week 2

ACC—North Carolina squeezed by Rutgers 24-22 after forcing the Scarlet Knights to turn the ball over on downs on their final possession with 2:32 left in the game. The Tarheel run defense was stellar, holding the Scarlet Knights to 1 yard on the ground on 25 attempts. North Carolina got four sacks, while providing perfect protection for its own signal-caller. The strangest stat of the game was that the Tarheels were -5 in turnover margin, attributed to three picks and two fumbles, yet still won the game.

Big 10—No. 8 Wisconsin pitched a shutout against Oregon State in Madison, 35-0. The Wisconsin defense held the Beavers to just 23 rushing yards on 24 rushing attempts. The Badgers forced two fumbles and gave up no turnovers of their own. The Badgers dominated every facet of the game and controlled the field position battle by capitalizing on three Beaver special teams mistakes.

Big 12—In a rematch of last year’s Alamo Bowl, the result was the same and the margin of victory was one field goal off. No. 9 Oklahoma State blasted Arizona for the second time in nine months. Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden was 42 of 53 for 397 yards. He started the game completing 22 of his first 23 passes. Cowboys wideout Justin Blackmon had his fourteenth straight appearance with at least 100 yards receiving. Oklahoma State’s defense held Arizona’s explosive offense to just two touchdowns.

Big East—South Florida was the only Big East team to win a game not over an FCS opponent, so the Bulls get a helmet sticker this week for a dominating 37-7 rout of Ball State. The Bulls forced a fumble on the opening kickoff, and Mark Joyce ran it in for a touchdown. Just 8 seconds into the game, South Florida was in control. The Bulls amassed 519 yards of total offense, using ten receivers, five rushers, and two quarterbacks.

C-USA—Rice upset Purdue 24-22 at home on Saturday. The Boilermakers drove to the Owls’ 14-yard line in the final minute and planned to kick a field goal on the final play to escape Houston with a win. Rice linebacker Justin Allen broke through Purdue’s offensive line and blocked Purdue placekicker Carson Wiggs’ 31-yard field goal attempt. This ended a 22-game streak of being a doormat to BCS conference opponents. The Rice Owls had not beaten such a team since September 8, 2001 in a contest against Duke. The last time the Owls beat a Big Ten team was in 1997 against Northwestern. This was a huge win for Rice.

MAC—Temple gets the helmet sticker for Week 2 since the Owls were the only Mid-America Conference team to beat an opponent that was not from the FCS. Temple rolled the Akron Zips 41-3. The Owls have started 2-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time since the late 1960’s and have now beaten Akron five-straight times. Temple’s standout running back Bernard Pierce rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns on eighteen carries. Backup running back Matt Brown had 85 yards on sixteen carries.

MWC—Texas Christian rebounded after a loss in Week 1 to Baylor by beating Air Force 35-19. The Horned Frogs were balanced on offense, passing for 206 yards and rushing for 204 yards. TCU quarterback Casey Pachall had an 80% completion rate. The Horned Frogs had three new starters on defense. Kenny Cain, starting at strongside linebacker for the injured Tanner Brock, tallied seven tackles. Texas Christian has not lost a Mountain West conference game since 2008 and should make another run for the conference title this year despite many new faces.
Pac-12—Arizona State debuted its new logo in a Friday night game that went to overtime. The restyled Sun Devils took out the No. 21 Mizzou Tigers after scoring 7 in overtime and subsequently shutting down Missouri’s attempt to score. Sun Devils senior wideout Aaron Pflugrad had eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Arizona State beat its first ranked opponent in the last eleven tries.
SEC—Auburn needed last minute heroics once again to preserve the longest unbeaten streak in the nation. After barely getting by Utah State last week, the Tigers stopped No. 16 Mississippi State, barely, on the final play of the game. Backup safety Ryan Smith stopped Bulldogs quarterback Chris Relf at the goal line to give the Tigers the 41-34 win. It was Smith’s fourth tackle of his career, and Auburn’s 17th consecutive victory. Auburn is still a legitimate contender without Cam Newton or Nick Fairley.

Sun Belt—Florida International gets the Sun Belt helmet sticker again after defeating Louisville 24-17 on the road. This was the program’s first victory over a BCS conference team and the first time the team has started a season 2-0. The Golden Panthers were all about the big play. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had touchdown catches of 74 and 83 yards. Linebacker Winston Fraser returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown. Mario Cristobal has to be a candidate for the next big head coach job opening based on what he has done at FIU.

WAC—New Mexico State picked up a 28-21 win over Minnesota in Minneapolis Saturday. The Aggies were 22.5 point underdogs. This was NMSU’s first win over a BCS conference school since 1999, when it beat Arizona State. DeWayne Walker got his first signature win as head coach against the school he played cornerback at, and the Aggies got their first win ever over a Big Ten team. With 20 seconds left in the game Minnesota head coach Larry Kill had a seizure. DeWayne Walker’s Aggie team was full of class when it gathered to pray for Larry Kill while he was being stabilized and taken to the hospital.

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