NCAA

Muffed punt proves critical in loss to Louisville: 5 takeaways

zacc.png

Muffed punt proves critical in loss to Louisville: 5 takeaways

The six-win plateau fell officially out of reach for Virginia after a 38-31 loss to Louisville on Saturday. Despite a strong offensive showing from the team's top playmakers, Virginia was not able to put together a consistent 60-minute effort to beat the Cardinals.

Here are the five takeaways:

Strong start: Virginia had a great start to the game as they took the game's opening drive 75 yards in 15 plays for the touchdown. It was only the second time this season the Cavaliers scored a touchdown on their opening drive, the first coming against William & Mary.

What made the opening drive especially impressive was the fact that Virginia was able to go four for four on third down opportunities. Matt Johns looked particularly clutch on third down, scrambling on one play until Canaan Severin was able to get open and scrambling past the sticks on the next series.

Virginia would not convert another third down until midway through the third quarter, going two for 12 the rest of the game.

RELATED: Michigan State tops Maryland: 5 things you need to know

Turning point: The game turned in the fourth quarter on a critical mistake by Olamide Zacchaeus. After forcing a fumble, the Virginia offense marched 44 yards in four plays to reach the end zone and tie the game at 24. The momentum had tilted completely in UVa's favor and the defense responded by forcing a three-and-out from Louisville's offense. Zacchaeus, however, muffed the ensuing punt which the Cardinals recovered at the Virginia 2-yard line.

Louisville receiver James Quick was right on top of Zacchaeus and hit him as soon as he received the punt. Replay showed that Zacchaeus did not catch the punt cleanly and the hit separated him from the ball completely. London tried to argue that Zacchaeus did not have an opportunity to catch the punt, but to no avail. Louisville took over from the 2-yard line and punched the ball in for the critical go-ahead touchdown two plays later.

Triple threat: Louisville has gotten creative this season with its use of quarterbacks and that was true again Saturday as Kyle Bolin, Reggie Bonnafon and Lamar Jackson all played. Bolin was the team's primary quarterback and completed 10 of 21 pass attempts for 139 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Bonnafon threw a 20-yard touchdown on his only pass attempt as Virginia was taken completely by surprise as he lined up at running back, took the sweep toss and then found Jeremy Smith wide open in the end zone. Jackson made the most of his brief appearance, rushing for 45 yards on his only carry.

Making plays: This game was a lost opportunity for the Cavs as they got incredible efforts from Johns and Severin. Both players set career highs with four touchdown passes for Johns and three touchdown catches for Severin. Johns finished with 260 yards and no interceptions. Severin's 116 receiving yards were the second highest of the season.

Taquan Mizzell had a relatively quiet day for him on the ground with only 40 rushing yards, but had another strong day receiving with eight catches for 89 yards. His performance today puts him in elite company as he became just the fifth player in UVa history with 1,000 receiving and 1,000 rushing yards in his career.

Bowl hopes dashed: With this loss, Virginia is now 3-7 on the season which puts six wins officially out of reach. There is a faint hope that Virginia could still make a bowl as a 5-7 team if there are not enough six-win teams to fill out all of the ACC's bow tie-ins, but that is very unlikely. In order for that to even be possible, Virginia would still have to win both of their remaining games against Duke and Virginia Tech.

This season will mark the fourth-consecutive season in which Virginia has failed to reach six wins and the fifth of London's six-year tenure, putting the head coach's future in Charlottesville very much in doubt.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Hokies defense shuts down Georgia Tech: 5 takeaways

Virginia drops in new AP top 25 poll, while Virginia Tech's stock is on the rise

mamadi_diakite_virginia_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Virginia drops in new AP top 25 poll, while Virginia Tech's stock is on the rise

Kansas is back where it started the season.

The preseason No. 1, the Jayhawks are again the top-ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 despite struggling to get past New Mexico State at home. Kansas received 57 first-place votes from a 65-person media panel in the poll released Monday, sliding into the top spot after previous No. 1 Gonzaga lost to Tennessee.

No. 2 Duke moved up a spot and received four first-place votes. No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Gonzaga, No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Virginia received the other first-place votes.

No. 7 Nevada, Auburn, Michigan State and Florida State rounded out the top 10.

The Jayhawks were the preseason No. 1, but dropped a spot after Duke decimated then-No. 2 Kentucky to open the season.

Gonzaga moved to No. 1 after beating Duke in the Maui Invitational title game, lasting two weeks before losing 76-73 to the Vols Sunday in Phoenix.

Kansas (8-0) kept winning, though needed a big game from Dedric Lawson to beat New Mexico State in Kansas City on Saturday. Lawson, a preseason All-American, had 20 points, including the final 14 for Kansas, and 10 rebounds in the tighter than expected 63-60 victory.

Kansas played without center Udoka Azubuike, but coach Bill Self was not buying any excuses for the struggles.

"We were fortunate tonight," he said. "How in the world we've won these games ... it's one thing to not play well, it's another thing to not play well and not be intellectually into the game and that was certainly the case tonight."

It was good enough to get the Jayhawks past the Aggies -- and move to No. 1.

COMPLETE AP TOP 25 POLL WEEK 6

1. Kansas 8-0 (57 first-place votes, No. 2 last week)

2. Duke 9-1 (4 first-place votes, No. 3 last week)

3. Tennessee 7-1 (1 first-place vote, No. 7 last week)

4. Gonzaga 9-1 (1 first-place vote, No. 1 last week)

5. Michigan 10-0 (1 first-place vote, no change from last week)

6. Virginia 9-0 (1 first-place vote, No. 4 last week)

7. Nevada 10-0 (No. 6 last week)

8. Auburn 8-1 (No change from last week)

9. Michigan State 8-2 (No. 10 last week)

10. Florida State 8-1 (No. 11 last week)

11. Texas Tech 8-0 (No. 13 last week)

12. North Carolina 7-2 (No. 14 last week)

13. Virginia Tech 8-1 (No. 15 last week)

14. Buffalo 9-0 (No. 17 last week)

15. Ohio State 8-1 (No. 19 last week)

16. Wisconsin 8-2 (No. 12 last week)

17. Villanova 8-2 (No. 21 last week)

18. Mississippi State 8-1 (No. 22 last week)

19. Kentucky 7-2 (No. 9 last week)

20. Arizona State 7-1 (No change from last week)

21. Marquette 8-2 (Not ranked last week)

22. Iowa 7-2 (No. 18 last week_

23. Furman 10-0 (No. 25 last week)

24. Houston 8-0 (Not ranked last week)

25. Indiana 8-2 (Not ranked last week)

25. Syracuse 7-2 (Not ranked last week)

25. Kansas State 6-2 (No. 16 last week)

VOLS RISING

Tennessee picked up its biggest win in four seasons under coach Rick Barnes by knocking off Gonzaga in the Colangelo Classic.

The Vols (7-1) kept their poise and made the biggest plays down the stretch, holding off the Zags 76-73 after Admiral Schofield scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half and hit two key 3-pointers.

The victory was Tennessee's first over a No. 1 team since beating Kansas in 2010 and Barnes' first in 31 years as a head coach.

The Vols have their highest AP ranking since hitting No. 1 in 2007-08.

FURMAN HOLDS STEADY

Furman moved into the poll for the first time last week, thanks to a resume that includes wins over 2018 Final Four teams Villanova and Loyola-Chicago.

The Paladins (10-0) moved up two spots in this week's poll to No. 23 after beating Elon and South Carolina Upstate.

Furman plays Charleston Southern on Tuesday and UNC Wilmington Saturday.

TOP 27

This week's poll had a rarity: Three teams tied for the final spot.

Syracuse, Indiana and Kansas State all came in at No. 25 after receiving 118 points. It's the first three-way tie in the AP Top 25 since three teams shared No. 13 in 1991.

The Hoosiers are ranked for the first time since climbing to No. 3 in 2016-17. The Orange moved back into the Top 25 after beating Northeastern and Georgetown.

The Wildcats dropped nine spots from No. 16 after losing to Tulsa.

RISING

Tennessee matched the biggest climb of the week, moving up four spots from No. 7.

No. 15 Ohio State, No. 17 Villanova and No. 18 Mississippi also moved up four.

FALLING

No. 19 Kentucky had the largest drop this week, losing 10 spots to No. 19 after losing to Seton Hall in overtime. Kansas State was next at nine. Maryland also dropped out of the top 25 after being ranked No. 23 last week.

MOVING IN

In addition to Syracuse and Indiana, No. 21 Marquette and No. 24 Houston each moved into the poll this week.

The Cougars are ranked for the first time since hitting No. 21 last season and the Golden Eagles are back in the poll after dropping out in Week 3.

MORE NCAA NEWS

Georgetown lets rivalry contest against Syracuse slip away in second half

syracuse_georgetown_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Georgetown lets rivalry contest against Syracuse slip away in second half

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Tyus Battle scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, including the game winner with three seconds to go, and Syracuse overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat its longtime rival Georgetown 72-71 on Saturday.

Battle and the Orange were woeful in the first half. Battle was just 1 of 8 and the Orange were just 7-of-27 shooting, but Battle and Syracuse (7-2) came out with a vengeance in the final 20 minutes to overtake the Hoyas (7-2) and capture their fifth-straight victory.

Elijah Hughes had 15 points and Oshae Brissett added 12 for the Orange.

Jessie Govan led the Hoyas with 22 points. Mac McClung had 18 and Greg Malinowski chipped in with 11.

A 3 by Govan gave the Hoyas a 71-70 lead with just over a minute remaining. Marek Dolezaj drew a charge on Georgetown's Jagan Mosely with 10 seconds to go, giving Battle the opportunity.

Georgetown took its largest lead of the game, 37-22, on a jumper by Trey Mourning when Syracuse stormed back on a 14-2 run. Battle scored 10 during the surge to bring the Orange to within three at 39-36. The Orange closed to 47-48 on a short jumper by Battle with 11:51 left.

The Orange took its first lead since a 5-3 margin, 50-48, on a 3 by Hughes and extended it to a six-point advantage on a floater by Brissett. Two consecutive 3s by Hughes kept the margin at six with under seven minutes to go. Malinowski's third straight 3 brought the Hoyas to 60-59, and a free throw by Josh LeBlanc tied the score at 60. A 3 by Jahvon Blair and two free throws by Malinowski gave the Hoyas a 65-62 cushion with 4:50 remaining.

After a free throw by LeBlanc gave the Hoyas a 66-64 lead, Jalen Carey hit a desperation 3 with 2:35 left to give Syracuse a 67-66 lead. Govan's jumper made it 68-67 Hoyas, but a 3 by Battle gave Syracuse a 70-68 edge with 1:28 to go.

McClung scored 13 points and Govan added nine, leading the Hoyas to a 35-22 halftime lead. Syracuse took an early 5-3 lead when the Hoyas went on an 8-0 run to take control. Syracuse, which went more than six minutes without scoring, got no closer than five points the rest of the half.

The Orange's output represented the second-fewest points scored by Syracuse in a half in the Carrier Dome's 38-year history. Syracuse started the game shooting just 4 of 22 and ended the half 7 of 28 and a meager 1-of-14 shooting from 3. Battle, Brissett and Hughes, Syracuse's leading scorers, were a combined 3 of 18 for 14 points.

The Hoyas also dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Orange 28-19.

BIG PICTURE:

Georgetown: This one will sting for a long time. The Hoyas seemed firmly in control but let this one slip away. They'll have one week to get shrug it off.

Syracuse: The Orange will need to play with the intensity they displayed in the second half. Jalen Carey gave Syracuse a much-needed spark off the bench subbing for the foul-plagued Frank Howard.

UP NEXT:

Georgetown hosts Southern Methodist on Saturday.

Syracuse's string of seven straight home games continues Saturday against Old Dominion.

MORE NCAA NEWS: