Week 11: Big blows in the Big Ten, but Bud Foster goes out a winner

Week 11: Big blows in the Big Ten, but Bud Foster goes out a winner

Virginia Tech fittingly put together a dominant defensive performance to send Bud Foster out a winner in his final game at Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech could be on a collision course with rival Virginia who also won on Saturday. While there was good news in the ACC, the news was not as good in the Big Ten where Maryland and Penn State were both handed tough losses.

Here’s a recap of the week’s local action.

Ohio State 73, Maryland 14

The good

Maryland wasn’t shutout. That’s...something.

The bad

Ohio State was without its best player, defensive end Chase Young. Despite that, the Buckeyes still held Maryland to a single yard of offense in the first quarter and 139 yards for the game. Tyrrell Pigrome and Josh Jackson combined for eight total completions for 77 yards. The Terps were held to 62 yards on the ground, including seven yards from Anthony McFarland who torched the Buckeyes for 298 yards last season.

And, again, just in case you forgot, Ohio State did all of this without its best player on the field.

The crazy

Already up 14-0 in the first quarter, Ohio State dialed up an onside kick which they ran to perfection.

It was a beautiful play made possible by flawless execution and some great scouting to notice that hole in Maryland’s coverage.

But it still never should have happened.

Yes, the Terps hung tough with Ohio State last year, but it was very clear in the first quarter that this year was going to be different and that the runaway freight train that is the Buckeyes was going to crush Maryland. There was no need to make that call in this game. They didn’t need to do it and now every team still on Ohio State’s schedule, including Penn State and Michigan, is going to be prepared for a play like that.

The Buckeyes won this game by 59 points. They didn’t need to show off a trick play.

This game was so ugly in fact that a Maryland commit actually decommitted during the game.

It should be noted that he did not say he decommitted because of the Ohio State game, that is just a conclusion many have jumped to because it happened while the game was being played and when Maryland was already losing big.

Minnesota 31, Penn State 26

The good

Penn State may have only put up 26 points on the board, but it was a good day for them overall offensively. A team known more for its defense put up 518 yards against the Golden Gophers with Sean Clifford throwing for 340 yards. Both K.J. Hammler and Pat Freiermuth hauled in seven catches each for over 100 yards.

The bad

Minnesota came into Saturday’s game undefeated, but many thought that was more of a product of their weak schedule than the quality of the team. And yet, it was Penn State’s defense that looked outmatched on Saturday against the top offense it has faced this season.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns, taking advantage of a Nittany Lions secondary that is clearly the weakness of the defense.

Still, both offenses were able to move the ball effectively. The real difference in the game was Clifford’s three interceptions. He threw one on the opening drive which Minnesota turned into a touchdown five plays later and which really set the tone for the game.

Minnesota forced another interception in the second quarter and the Golden Gophers again scored a touchdown on the resulting drive. The third interception Clifford threw on Penn State’s final drive to seal the loss.

Clifford had only thrown three interceptions this season prior to Saturday’s game,

The crazy

Penn State’s last possession was a comedy of errors. The Nittany Lions pulled to within five and forced a three-and-out from the Gophers to give themselves a chance. Hammler was run into by one of his own teammates on the punt and muffed it. Penn State recovered, but had lost 15 yards and started their drive at their own 28. Clifford connected with Jahan Dotson for 49 yards to get the ball down to Minnesota’s 11. A catch down to the 2-yard line was negated by an offensive pass interference call on Daniel George. Clifford missed George on a pass the next play and then threw the game-sealing interception the next play after that.

Virginia 33, Georgia Tech 28

The good

Tavares Kelly had only 10 receptions and three kickoff returns in the first eight games of the season, but he was a big factor in UVA’s win Saturday as he took over kickoff return duties. He returned five kickoffs for 129 yards including a 40-yard return that set up the Cavaliers’ last touchdown drive of the first half. Kelly also caught two passes for 46 yards.

In addition, it was a big game for receiver Terrell Jana who caught nine passes for 108 yards. Virginia desperately needed additional weapons to emerge later in the season to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Bryce Perkins.

The bad

Coming into this game, Georgia Tech ranked an abysmal 124th in the nation on pass offense averaging just 141 yards per game. Quarterback James Graham took advantage of an injury-depleted Virginia secondary with 15 completions on 22 attempts for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

The crazy

Georgia Tech finished the game with 372 total yards. Perkins himself accounted for 364 total yards for Virginia (258 passing, 106 rushing).

Virginia Tech 36, Wake Forest 17

The good

In his last game at Lane Stadium, the Hokies sent legendary defensive coordinator Bud Foster out a winner. Foster had a lot to do with the Hokies' upset win, limiting a Wake Forest team that ranked in the top 10 nationally in both total offense and passing offense to season lows in points (17) and total yards (310).

After a sluggish first-half in which Virginia Tech managed to put only six points on the board, the Hokies came alive in the second quarter, scoring 30 points while allowing only seven.

The bad

The win ended an eight-game losing streak to ranked opponents at Lane Stadium that stretched back to 2009. Lane Stadium used to be one of the hardest places in the nation to play and one of the most feared venues for opponents. To think it has been that long since the Hokies were able to beat a ranked team at home is staggering.

The crazy

When Virginia Tech was blown out by Duke to fall to  2-2 on the season, it felt like the season was spiraling out of control. Now, incredibly, Virginia Tech sits 6-3, one win away from bowl eligibility and in control of their own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division race. That is a remarkable turnaround.


Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

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Syracuse comes to DC with drama swirling around Hoyas

Georgetown's season has flipped on its head. A once-promising season is now muddled in controversy and the unknown of what the future has in store.

But, as the Hoyas continue to navigate their way through troubled waters, there is one constant that remains: playing Syracuse. 

The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry will enter it's 95th chapter on Saturday at Capital One Arena. One of the best rivalries in college basketball still burns despite how far apart the worlds of both teams are. 

Decades have come and gone - along with their once-great Big East conference - but once again Patrick Ewing is the leading face of the Hoyas and Jim Boeheim is coaching on the Orange's sideline. Both of whom are going through two of the toughest years during their time at their respective schools. 

Georgetown (6-3) is in the midst of turmoil within their program. Two of their top six players abruptly left the program in early December. One of which was their point guard, James Akinjo, the other was their sixth man off the bench, Josh LeBlanc. LeBlanc and two other current Hoyas are facing legal issues as they all have restraining orders from a Georgetown student. 

Despite the issues, the team has won two of their three biggest wins of the season since. Road wins over Oklahoma State and SMU gave Georgetown two top-100 KenPom victories that will go a long way for them in March. In Akinjo's absence, the current Big East Player of the Week Mac McClung has delivered masterful performances of 33 and 19 points respectively. 

Sputtering to a 5-4 (1-1 ACC) start, things have not been smooth for Syracuse either. All season the Orange have struggled to find their identity with no seniors and five freshmen on the roster. Their shooting has been inconsistent and ill-timed mistakes put them in early holes. Redshirt Junior Elijah Hughes and the coach's son Buddy Boddy Boeheim have provided most of the offense, accounting for 47% of their points this season. 

A rough start is not what Boeheim is accustomed to - before their win over Georgia Tech, 4-4 was their worst start in his 43-year tenure.

This won't be the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry of the 1980s or have the importance the games did in the late 2000s in the old Big East. But when the Blue and Orange take the court the intensity will be there for both sides. Ewing will be erratic on the Georgetown bench and Boeheim, well is Boeheim. The fanbases' disdain for one other will fill Capital One and all that energy should percolate down to the players. 

This is the final big test of each team's nonconference slate, but another chapter in the great rivalry.


Army-Navy: Why the Midshipmen hold the edge and should snap Army's streak in Saturday's match-up

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Army-Navy: Why the Midshipmen hold the edge and should snap Army's streak in Saturday's match-up

The regular season isn’t over yet. There’s still one last piece of business to attend to and it may be the biggest game of the season. It’s time for Army-Navy.

This year will be the 120th meeting between these two storied rivals. While the bowl games have already been decided, there will be plenty on the line on Saturday besides just pride.

Here is everything you need to know for Army-Navy.

When: 3 p.m., Saturday
Where: Lincoln FInancial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
How to watch: CBS

A quick season recap

Navy enters this game ranked No. 23 in the final College Football Playoff rankings after earning a 9-2 record. They were in the running for the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl bid up until the final week before championship week when Memphis wrapped up the division. The Midshipmen’s lone blemishes on the season were a loss to the Tigers that, in the end, cost them the division and a one-sided defeat at the hands of Notre Dame. They will play the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 against Kansas State, the only team with a win over a playoff team this season.

This will be the final game of the season for Army who is 5-7 after last week’s loss to Hawaii. But wait, if Army wins this game, won’t they have six wins? Yes, but the rule for bowl eligibility is not technically not six wins, rather a team has to win 50-percent of its schedule which Army will not. It has not been a bad season for Army so much as it has been a frustrating one. SIx of their seven losses have been by single digits including a three-point loss to Michigan in the Big House.

Army has won the last three meetings

After Navy enjoyed a 14-game win streak against the Black Knights, the longest streak between the two rivals, Army has responded with three straight wins of its own. All three games had a margin of victory of seven points or less, the narrowest of which was a 14-13 win in 2017.

The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is on the line

The Commander-in-Chief Trophy is the rivalry trophy shared between the three service academies. Army is the current holder of the trophy, but they cannot win it outright after losing to Air Force earlier in the year. Navy beat Air Force which means they have a chance to reclaim it with a win over the Black Knights.

Navy currently has the longest drought as the Midshipmen have not won the trophy since 2015. Air Force last had it in 2016.

Should Army win on Saturday, the academies will be in a three-way tie and Army will retain the trophy as the current holder.

This game will feature the top two rushing offenses in the nation

Both Army and Navy run the option offense which means a whole lot of running and not much passing offense. When you rely that much on the ground game, you better be able to do it well and both of these teams do.

The Black Knights enter this game with the second-best rushing offense in the country with 311.7 yards per game. There is only one team that averages more and that team just so happens to be their opponent. Navy boasts 360.8 yards per game on the ground, easily the top rushing attack in the nation.

Army and Navy also rank 129th and 128th respectively in passing offense so there is no real distinct advantage there. Offensively, these teams appear to be about as even as you can be. The advantage then is on defense where Navy has the edge.

The MIdshipmen have held their opponents to 109.7 yards per game on the ground this season, the 17th best rush defense in the nation. Army’s defense ranks 52nd with 144.1 yards per game.

Both teams are going to look good

Here is a look at the uniforms for each team. Army really brought it with the video. Nice touch.