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October 24, 2011

Rivals.com Week 8 Conference Call

Here's a quickie look at the weekend's action in a conference-by-conference manner.

Think of it as one final chance to look back at the weekend that was. We will have this conference call every Monday.

ACC

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Miami defense. After giving up 38 points in a loss to Virginia Tech two weeks ago and nearly blowing a 24-point lead against North Carolina last week, Miami delivered a dominant performance Saturday in a 24-7 victory over Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech had been averaging 517 yards per game, but the Yellow Jackets managed just 211 yards against Miami. That represented Tech's lowest output since its Orange Bowl loss to Iowa that ended the 2009 season. Then again, perhaps this shouldn't be considered a surprise at all. Miami has beaten Georgia Tech three consecutive seasons and has outscored the Yellow Jackets 92-34 during that stretch.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Maryland. So much for the notion that Maryland had gained some momentum from its near-upset of Clemson last week. Rather than building on that performance, Maryland took another step back in a 41-16 loss at Florida State that resulted in more uncertainty at quarterback. C.J. Brown, who showed so much promise last week in his first start, threw for 92 yards and had zero net rushing yards on 10 carries before getting replaced by Danny O'Brien in the third quarter. Although a head injury knocked Brown out of the game, he was cleared medically and could have returned to the game. In the first seven games of the Randy Edsall era, Maryland (2-5) already has matched the combined loss total from predecessor Ralph Friedgen's first two seasons.

[Yahoo! Sports Radio: Clemson WR Sammy Watkins]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Miami LB Denzel Perryman. This true freshman and former three-star recruit certainly didn't make the typical rookie mistakes you'd expect from someone facing an option attack for the first time in his college career. Perryman made seven tackles -- three for loss -- and delivered a sack and forced a fumble for the Hurricanes. The sack was the first of his career.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Virginia QB David Watford. We easily could have made Virginia the most disappointing team, as the Cavaliers fell 28-14 to N.C. State one week after handing Georgia Tech its first loss. Quarterback problems played a major role in Virginia's loss. Watford had done a decent job the past few weeks while splitting time with Michael Rocco, but Watford, a true freshman, endured the roughest game of his young career this week. He went 4-of-16 for 89 yards with one touchdown pass and three interceptions. David Amerson returned one of those interceptions 12 yards for the game's final touchdown with 6:08 remaining.

BIG EAST

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Syracuse's defense. The Orange's defense has been ravaged by injuries for most of the season. We finally got a good look at what it could do when it's healthy, At full strength, Syracuse exposed West Virginia's shaky offensive line, recording four sacks and two interceptions in the 49-23 upset. DE Chandler Jones was the most important returnee. He had missed the past five games with a "lower body injury," but he returned at full strength against West Virginia. He had six tackles and two sacks, lifting the entire Syracuse defense.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Rutgers' missed opportunities. The Scarlet Knights' biggest missed opportunity was the chance to move to 3-0 in the Big East, a league no one seems to want to win. Rutgers, though, had a series of missed opportunities in a 16-14 loss at Louisville. Mark Harrison, who caught nine touchdown passes last season but has only one this season, dropped a wide-open touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Playing with a new holder, K San San Te missed field goals of 31 and 25 yards. Even when Louisville handed Rutgers a last-ditch opportunity on a late Teddy Bridgewater interception, Rutgers threw with an interception of its own to end the game. Converting on just one of those opportunities would have been enough for Rutgers to defeat the Cardinals.

[Megargee: College football's Week 8 winners and losers]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros. Cincinnati has the ability to score with the run or the pass. For most of the season, Cincinnati's offense has leaned toward TB Isaiah Pead and the run game. Collaros, though, was the star of a 37-34 win over USF, which put the Bearcats in control of the Big East. Collaros made up for a bonehead first-half interception with three fourth-quarter touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) to erase a 10-point USF lead.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: West Virginia QB Geno Smith. Smith was sacked four times. Even when he wasn't sacked, he was on the run and made some poor decisions. He threw for 338 yards and two TDs but also threw two picks and looked surprisingly flustered by the pressure.

BIG TEN

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Purdue. The Boilermakers had beaten no one of note before Saturday (Middle Tennessee, Minnesota and FCS member Southeast Missouri), but played well last week in a loss to Penn State. That close loss had a positive carryover affect Saturday, as the Boilermakers upset Illinois, which was the Illini's second loss in a row. Purdue led 21-0 at halftime, and while the Boilermakers (4-3) did nothing offensively in the second half, they were able to hold the Illini for a 21-14 win that gives them hope they can snag a bowl bid.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Wisconsin's special teams. The Badgers had a field goal blocked, a punt blocked for a touchdown and let a Michigan State punt roll inside the 5-yard line, which set up a Spartans safety. Wisconsin had 443 yards of offense, but lost 37-31. The special teams mistakes were crucial and look to have ended any hopes the Badgers had of being in the national title game.

[Wetzel: Michigan State's Hail Mary grab stops Wisconsin cold]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Purdue NT Kawann Short. Short loves playing Illinois. He dominated the middle of the line Saturday, finishing with six tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the Boilermakers' upset of the Illini. He had one sack and six tackles for loss before Saturday. Short, a junior, has 9.5 career sacks, and four have come in three games against the Illini; in addition, 8.5 of his 26 career tackles for loss have come against Illinois.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase had his second consecutive lackluster game, and the Illini suffered their second loss of the season. He threw for 217 yards and no TDs and rushed for a season-low 16 yards.

BIG 12

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were 29-point underdogs to the Sooners, who had lost just twice in Norman under coach Bob Stoops and not since 2005. Texas Tech had lost two games in a row, but QB Seth Doege passed for four touchdowns and 452 yards in a stunning 41-38 upset of Oklahoma.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Oklahoma's defense. The Sooners entered Saturday's game against Texas Tech ranked second in the nation in total defense. They sure didn't play like it. OU surrendered four touchdown passes and 572 yards of total offense in losing 41-38.

[So long, Sooners: Oklahoma's title hopes come crashing down]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: Oklahoma State TB Joseph Randle. Randle, a sophomore, scored a career-high four touchdowns in a 45-24 victory that snapped Missouri's 10-game home winning streak. Randle had been held to fewer than 100 yards rushing in each of the past three games, but gained 138 yards on just nine carries. That included touchdowns on runs of 12, 13 and 59 yards. He also caught a 16-yard TD pass.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Missouri QB James Franklin. Though Mizzou trailed by just seven at halftime to Oklahoma State, the second half turned out to be a disaster for Franklin. He threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. Three of the turnovers were converted into Oklahoma State touchdowns.

MOUNTAIN WEST

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Air Force. No, the Falcons didn't win. But the 30-point underdogs did give unbeaten Boise State its toughest test of the season before falling 37-26. Boise State had its hands full against Air Force's option attack and allowed the Falcons to gain 408 total yards. Boise State's 35th consecutive home victory wasn't secure until Dan Goodale kicked a 25-yard field goal with 2:49 left. Air Force's third consecutive loss dropped its record to 3-4, but its next five opponents have a combined record of 10-23. If the Falcons keep playing as well as they did Saturday, they should finish 8-4.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: New Mexico. Just when you think the winless Lobos have hit bottom, they reach a new low. New Mexico trailed TCU 41-0 at halftime Saturday and allowed the Horned Frogs to set a school single-game scoring record. The Lobos were outgained 515-85. New Mexico also continued its season-long penchant for slow starts. The Lobos fell behind 20-0 in the first quarter Saturday and have been outscored 104-10 in the opening period this season.

[Y! Sports Shop: Show your school colors with college football team gear]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: TCU FS Johnny Fobbs: Although Fobbs currently ranks fourth on his team with 32 tackles, the senior entered this weekend with only one career takeaway (an interception two weeks ago against San Diego State). He changed that in a big way Saturday by forcing fumbles on each of New Mexico's first two possessions. Both turnovers led to touchdowns, sparking TCU to a 69-0 blowout.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Colorado State SS Ivory Herd. A team that has been ravaged by injuries all season couldn't afford to lose any more experienced players, yet that's exactly what happened when Herd was suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. Herd, a senior, was fourth on the team with 30 tackles. His absence forced true freshman Drew Reilly into a starting role. Without Herd in the lineup, Colorado State gave up 340 rushing yards in a 31-17 loss to UTEP.

PAC-12

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Arizona's run offense. The Wildcats had been ranked 119th in rushing offense with a paltry average of 71.8 yards per game. But Thursday night, RB Keola Antolin bettered that by himself. Antolin accounted for 77 of the Wildcats' 254 rushing yards in a 48-12 drubbing of UCLA. That total almost doubled Arizona's previous season-high rushing output -- 129 yards against USC.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: UCLA. The Bruins were coming off an open week, had won their previous game, had a chance to move into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 South and was facing an opponent that had lost five in a row and fired its coach. All the indicators pointed to a Bruins win, right? Wrong. Uninspired and flat, UCLA failed in all phases of the game in a 48-12 loss to Arizona. About the only fight they showed was in an on-field brawl that resulted in suspensions.

[IrishIllustrated: ND not ready for prime time against USC]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: USC SS Jawanza Starling. He hasn't played consistently this season, but he turned in the pivotal play in a 31-17 victory at Notre Dame. Just as the Irish appeared on the verge of forging a 17-17 late tie in the third quarter, Starling picked up a fumble and raced 80 yards for a touchdown.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Utah QB Jon Hays. He has had a rough time since taking over for an injured Jordan Wynn as the Utes' starting quarterback, but nothing was rougher than a 34-10 loss to California. Hays threw three interceptions and lost a fumble and led an offense that managed only 178 yards against a Cal defense that had allowed more than 400 yards three times this season. The fumble led to a Cal field goal, while one interception led to a touchdown and another was returned 32 yards for a score.

SEC

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Kentucky's offense. Granted, UK was going against a FBS team, but Jacksonville State was eighth in that classification. The Wildcats ran for a season-high 340 yards in winning 38-14. They also rushed for two TDs, which increases their season total in that category to five. Junior CoShik Williams entered the game with 62 rushing yards this season and 248 in his career, but he ran for 148 on 22 carries.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Arkansas. The Hogs rallied to beat Ole Miss 29-24, but needing a rally to beat Ole Miss? And Ole Miss had the ball in the final minute with a chance to win. In three previous SEC games, Ole Miss had been outscored 109-27. The good news for Hogs coach Bobby Petrino: Arkansas played poorly yet still won.

[Yahoo! Sports Radio: LSU RB Michael Ford]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: LSU TB Kenny Hilliard. Hilliard, a true freshman, had seen scant time this season before Saturday's game with Auburn, carrying the ball five times for 21 yards. Because of the suspension of starting TB Spencer Ware, Hilliard had an opportunity for some carries Saturday and came through to the tune of 65 yards and two TDs on 10 carries. He was a key part of a ground attack that finished with 174 yards and his two TDs.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson. One reason the Hogs didn't drill Ole Miss was that Wilson struggled mightily with his accuracy. He threw for 232 yards, but he was just 13-of-28 and was held without a TD pass for the first time this season. He did rush for two short TDs, though.

OTHERS

BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Eastern Michigan. The Eagles got their fifth victory of the season with an upset of Western Michigan. EMU hadn't won more than four games in a season since 1995, and the victory kept them in the hunt for the MAC West title.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, TEAM: Temple. The Owls had a chance to seize control of the MAC East race, but instead fell 13-10 to Bowling Green. Temple has a strong rushing attack and BG has been poor against the run, but the Owls' pitiful passing attack (just 66 yards) did them in. It's the second time this season Temple has lost when giving up 13 or 14 points. BG had surrendered 128 points in its previous three games.

[Herd enough: Houston's Keenum silences Marshall trash talkers with record day]

BIGGEST SURPRISE, PLAYER: North Texas WR Chris Bynes. North Texas had had problems throwing the ball, but that wasn't the case Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. UNT threw for 332 yards -- just the second time in eight games that the Mean Green had thrown for more than 204 yards -- and Bynes had eight catches for 85 yards and two TDs. He had 14 receptions and one TD going into the game.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT, PLAYER: Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton. Keeton is a true freshman, and it's a testament to how well he has played that he is being singled out for his poor play. But he didn't play all that well, and the Aggies fell to a Louisiana Tech team that had been woeful against the pass. Keeton was 16-of-24, but his completions went for just 128 yards and he threw his first pick of the season. Utah State finished with a season-low 294 yards of offense against a Tech team that is allowing 384.6 yards per game.

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