Virginia survives triple-OT thriller: 5 takeaways


Virginia survives triple-OT thriller: 5 takeaways

The first ACC matchup between Virginia and Syracuse was one to remember as the Cavaliers put together a critical fourth-quarter drive to setup a game-tying field goal and force overtime. Both teams traded punches in overtime until Virginia walked away with the 44-38 win.

Here are five takeaways from UVa's first ACC win of the season:

The drive: Down by 3 in the fourth quarter, Virginia put together their best drive of the season thanks to some timely plays and a little luck.

Facing a 3rd and 15, Virginia was given a first down thanks to a face mask penalty. On 4th and 3, Johns dumped the ball off to Taquan Mizzell who weaved his way 11 yards for the first down. In all, Virginia drove 88 yards in 18 plays to setup a game-tying 25-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime.

Slow start: Virginia's fourth quarter drive was made all the more remarkable by the offense's horrific start to the game. The Cavaliers had nine yards in the first quarter and did not get a first down until about four minutes in to the second. Two plays after they did register a first down, Syracuse returned a Mizzell fumble 44 yards for a touchdown.

In their first four drives, Virginia had 26 yards, one first down and no points. Who would have expected them to be able to pull off that tremendous fourth-quarter comeback?

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Goal line stand: While things were ugly for the offense early, Virginia's defense did not allow Syracuse to take advantage thanks in large part to a key goal line stand to close out the end of the first quarter.

Syracuse had a 1st and goal at Virginia's 2-yard line, but the Cavaliers forced a nine-yard loss on the play. Dontae Strickland took it back down to the goal line on second down, but the Cavaliers stuffed two runs from their own 1 to force a turnover on downs and keep the Orange off the board.

Fake punt fakes out UVa: Fake punts are nothing new for Syracuse's Riley Dixon. The only thing that was surprising when he took off for a first down on a fake punt against Virginia was how much it seemed to catch the Cavaliers off guard.

Dixon threw a game-winning touchdown pass on a fake field goal in Syracuse's season opener last year and also added a 42 -yard fake punt run against Notre Dame. He made highlight reels across the nation for hurdling an LSU cornerback earlier in the season and Saturday was the third-straight game in which he ran a fake punt.

So, when Dixon took the field on a 4th and 4 on Syracuse's 44-yard line with 2:49 remaining in the first half, why oh why did Virginia look lost when Dixon pulled the ball in and took it 15 yards for the first down?

Syracuse was able to take the ball the remaining 42 yards for the touchdown just six plays later. In what became a very close game, these kind of plays can make all the difference between winning and losing. The key to a successful fake punt is surprise. At his point, how could anyone be surprised by the fake from Syracuse?

Leap of faith: One of the plays of the year took place in this game and it is one that safety Quin Blanding would like to forget.

After an interception put the Orange on Virginia's 26-yard line, quarterback Eric Dungey took off for the end zone. The last man in his way was Blanding, one of the best tacklers in the ACC. Rather than trying to run around him or through him, Dungey instead decided to hurdle over the 6-foot-2 sophomore on his way for the touchdown.

It may have come at the expense of the Cavaliers, but one couldn't help but be impressed at the athleticism of the freshman quarterback.

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Virginia star cornerback Bryce Hall out for the season after ankle surgery

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Virginia star cornerback Bryce Hall out for the season after ankle surgery

Virginia’s hopes for a Coastal Division title took a blow on Friday in a loss to Miami. Those hopes took another significant blow on Monday.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters on Monday that star cornerback Bryce Hall is expected to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing ankle surgery.

The injury happened while he was blocking on a punt in Friday’s game. The injury appeared significant at the time as Hall had to be carted off the field with his ankle in an air cast.

“We expect a good recovery, he sustained a left ankle injury and had surgery Monday,” Mendenhall said. “We do not expect him back this season.”

Hall is the star of Virginia’s defense which ranks 11th in the nation in total defense and second in the conference behind only Clemson. Hall has 20 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and four passes broken up.

This news is particularly devastating for Hall considering he is a first-round NFL talent and elected to forgo the NFL draft for a year to play his senior season. This injury now ends Hall’s college career.

Virginia ranks 11th in the nation in total defense and 23rd in pass defense allowing just 183.7 yards through the air per game. Without Hall, that number is going to take a hit.

The Cavaliers still have five ACC games left on the schedule, including four within the division.


The 6 craziest things that happened in Week 7 of the college football season


The 6 craziest things that happened in Week 7 of the college football season

Four teams dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten, Louisville's coaching staff is way too intense, everyone from the state of Michigan is an embarrassment and yeah, Oklahoma and Texas still don't like each other.

Here are the six craziest things that happened in Week 6.

Unbeatens beware

Four undefeated teams suffered their first losses of the season this week as the College Football Playoff Grim Reaper began to rear his ugly head.

The most significant loss was that of Georgia at home to division rival South Carolina and it became evident at the end of the game that neither team wanted to win. I mean, why else would Will Muschamp call for a 57-yard field goal attempt in a tie game with 40 seconds left on the clock and with Georgia having all their timeous left? Why else would Georgia take itself out of field goal range with an illegal shift right before the end of regulation? The Gamecocks had a chance to win after recovering a fumble on the first overtime, but a botched field goal kept the game alive. South Carolina would kick a field goal in the second overtime and a missed field goal by Georgia would give the Gamecocks the win.

Florida also dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten, but that game was going to knock someone off as both the Gators and LSU were undefeated heading into Death Valley on Saturday.

Temple handed Memphis its first loss of the season in an afternoon tilt on Saturday and Wake Forest was also upset at the hands of Louisville who marched into the Demon Deacons’ home field and put up 62 points.

On a related note, the Orange Bowl has to be rooting so hard for Clemson to not make the playoff this year, or the ACC is going to send a mediocre team into one of the best bowl games in the country.

Only 12 undefeated teams remain at the FBS level after this week's action.

Louisville’s defensive line coach needs to chill

Mark Ivey is the defensive line coach at Louisville. To say he is intense would be putting it mildly.

The commentators laugh at how “fired up” the coaches are, but there are several moments in there where it is hard to tell if they are just super pumped or if people players are trying break up a legitimate fight.

Maybe trying to relive the glory days of your playing career during warmups is a bad idea.

Every player from both Oklahoma and Texas was given an unsportsmanlike penalty during the pregame

Oklahoma and Texas is one of the most storied rivalries in college football, even if we have no idea what it’s supposed to be called anymore. The Red River Shootout? The Red River Rivalry? The Red River Hootenanny? The Red River Hullabaloo?

Tensions were high for this game which led to a scuffle during pregame.

More than one.

Realizing that they were losing control of the game before it even started, the referees assessed every player on both teams an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Fun fact, in college football a player is ejected after their second unsportsmanlike penalty in a game so every player was one flag away from getting the boot.

In the end, only one player was ejected and that was for targeting. No one else received a second unsportsmanlike penalty and Oklahoma went on to beat Texas 34-27.

This season could not get any more embarrassing for Michigan

Jim Harbaugh: “Hold my beer.”

The Wolverines won on the road at Illinois on Saturday by a comfortable-looking margin of 42-25. That score, however, does not reflect the nearly epic collapse Michigan faced in the second half.

Jim Harbaugh and Co. jumped out to a 28-0 lead on the Illini before Illinois could even get on the board. Illinois, led by a backup quarterback, managed to score the next 25 points, trimming the lead down to just three early in the fourth quarter. From there, seeing their season was about to collapse in such an epic way woke Michigan back up. The Wolverines went on to add two extra touchdowns to their score while Illinois was shutout the remainder of the game.

Michigan’s quest to prove why they do not deserve to be a ranked team continues next week at Happy Valley where the Wolverines will take on Penn State.

Mark Dantonio answers a “dumbass” question with a dumbass answer

Speaking of disappointing football teams in the state of Michigan, let’s now move on to Michigan State. The Spartans stink on offense as was evident in their 38-0 loss to Wisconsin. In three losses this season, Michigan State has a combined 17 points. That’s bad. What’s worse is the fact that they were bad on offense last year as well, but virtually nothing was done to improve the offense as head coach Mark Dantonio returned the entire offensive coaching staff, but with changed titles and duties.

So now after a humiliating blowout loss in which the offense was made to look as inept as ever, it is fair to wonder if perhaps not making any changes on offense was a mistake. At least most people would think it was fair.

When head coach Mark Dantonio was asked whether his decision on the offensive staff in the offseason was a mistake, here was his response:

Dantonio is absolutely right. That is a “dumbass” question because we all know the answer is yes, it was a mistake, it is going to cost Michigant State its season and not doing anything about it makes him look bad. But go ahead, keep turning your frustrations on the media. That ought to help the offense.

Tennessee becomes the last Power 5 team to earn an FBS win

If you had to guess who the last Power 5 team to earn an FBS win this season was, who would you guess? Kansas? Oregon State? Illinois? One of the other perennial cellar-dwellers?

Nope, you’re all wrong. The answer is Tennessee.

The Volunteers actually won a game against a team with a pulse on Saturday, earning the ugly 20-10 win over Mississippi State. It still counts though proving that there really is no such thing as an ugly win, just an ugly season.

Tennesse improved its record to an impressive 2-4, a fact that right now is prompting every football fan in the south to stand up and spontaneously chant “S-E-C! S-E-C!”

Prior to Saturday, Tennessee’s only win of the season was against FCS Chattanooga. Yes, the Volunteers have losses to Florida and Georgia, both impressive teams. They also have losses against Georgia State and BYU so no, Tennessee is not simply a victim of the brutal SEC schedule.