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Texas’ defense shuts down Tech in second half to preserve victory

LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18: Running back Eric Stephens  of the Texas Tech Red Raiders is tackled by Jackson Jeffcoat  of the Texas Longhorns at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Texas-Texas Tech matchup was being billed as the best game in Week 3, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype.

That’s because the Longhorns’ defense held Tech to 144 total yards and forced three turnovers in a 24-14 victory.

The Tech offense never really got going and even when it started to show signs of life, somebody would turn the ball over. A Jarvis Phillips 87-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the first quarter was huge because Texas was driving for another score already up 14-0. But even when Tech tied the game 14-14 on a Lyle Leong 15-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Potts early in the second, the Raiders still couldn’t drum up much offense against UT.

The decisive blow for Tech came in the fourth quarter when Garrett Gilbert orchestrated a 23-play, 80-yard drive that took 9:25 off the clock and resulted in a Barrett Matthews 1-yard touchdown catch. Even with over nine minutes left on the clock, you got the feeling that the Raiders were finished.

Tech rushed for minus-16 yards on the night, which was their worst total since October 24 (also against Texas). Ouch.

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Oh, right – Mark Ingram is pretty good, isn’t he?

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram (22) sprints past Duke Blue Devils linebacker Adam Banks (39) and defensive end Justin Foxx (92) during the first half of their NCAA football game in Durham, North Carolina September 18, 2010. REUTERS/Jim R. Bounds (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Welcome back, Mark Ingram. Thanks to Trent Richardson and the 19 other All-Pro backs that your football program has, you weren’t necessarily missed over the last two weeks but it was certainly nice to see you running around again.

And run you did.

In a 62-13 lambasting of Duke on Saturday, Ingram went berserk in his first game since having knee surgery three weeks ago, as he rushed for 151 yards on just nine carries. He also scored twice and on his first handoff (which came on the first play of the game) he broke off a 48-yard run.

Of course, when a team scores 62 points it usually has more than one hero, which the Tide did. Quarterback Greg McElroy threw for 258 yards on 14-of-20 passing for three touchdowns and one interception, while the aforementioned Richardson chipped in 61 rushing yards on seven carries and one score. He also broke free on a long ride himself, as his went for 45 yards.

Fun fact: With Duke’s loss today, ACC schools are now 0-7 against reigning BCS national champions. So, yah, ACC teams.

Boise State’s national championship cause takes a massive hit

MIAMI - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Frank Beamer of the Virginia Tech Hokies looks on against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium on January 1, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When Boise State knocked off Virginia Tech on Monday night, their hope was that the Hokies would go on to run the table so that the victory looked great in the eyes of BCS voters come the end of the year.

So much for that idea.

James Madison shocked the college football nation on Saturday by knocking off the Hokies 21-16 in Blacksburg. The Dukes were only able to produce 14 first downs but they forced three turnovers, which included a fumble recovery with 5:21 remaining to seal the game. Quarterback Drew Duzik also ran for two touchdowns as James Madison beat the Hokies for the first time in school history.

The loss destroys VA Tech’s national title hopes, although they haven’t even begun conference play yet so they still have plenty to push on for this season. The biggest blow will likely be felt by Boise State, as their win on Monday night now holds less water than a colander. Thanks to a soft WAC slate, they don’t have another team on their schedule to help prop them up in the eyes’ of voters.

While the Broncos did what they had to do in beating Virginia Tech on Monday, unfortunately the Hokies didn’t live up to their end of the bargain. The coaches will have their vote and will never put a Boise team in the title game when their claim to fame was knocking off a team that was beat by James Madison the very next week.

On a night of blowouts, Utah’s upset over PITT was a savior

SALT LAKE CITY - NOVEMBER 22:  Head Coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Uteswatches the game against the BYU Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Just to have football on my television again was enough for me to sit through South Carolina’s 41-13 dismantling of Southern Miss and not have the goofy grin leave my face the entire game, but opening night in college football was largely a dud.

I guess that’s what you get when No. 2 Ohio State opens up with feeble Marshall, or No. 13 Miami hosts the Florida Institute for Dishwashers or whomever the hell they played last night.

But one game did live up to the hype, despite it being one top 25 team against an unranked.

Pundits knew how good Utah has been at home over the years. The Utes hadn’t lost a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in close to three seasons, winning 18 in a row while also racking up a 7-0 lifetime record against current Big East teams.

That included PITT.

The Panthers got on the board early with a Dion Lewis 3-yard touchdown run, but Utah fired back with 17 unanswered points in what looked like a potential rout. Then PITT added a Dan Hutchins 37-yard field goal with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter to make it, 17-10.

In the fourth, PITT added another field goal and Utah responded with a DeVonte Christopher 61-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Wynn. Just when you thought the Panthers would mail it in, they scored 10 unanswered points in the final 7:59 to tie the game.

Of course, that doesn’t even begin to tell what happened. PITT missed a field goal as time expired, but because Utah called a time out in effort to try and ice the kicker (which is turning out to be one of the dumbest strategies in football), Hutchins got another attempt and of course, nailed a 30-yarder to force OT.

In the extra session, Utah intercepted PITT QB Tino Sunseri (which was a great play along the sidelines), setting up Joe Phillips’ 21-yard game-winning field goal. (The final was, 24-21.)

Perfect.

On a night where the blowout was king, PITT and Utah’s thriller stood above the rest. Thank God football is back…

Six-Pack of Observations: Texas squeaks by Nebraska

Here are six quick-hit observations from Texas’ unimpressive 13-12 win over Nebraska in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship.

1. What was that?
Unless you’re a Texas fan, this was a freaking dud of a championship game. Both teams combined for 308 yards of total offense, which is the lowest combined total in Big 12 history. It was almost maddening at times watching these two teams try to move the ball forward. In fact, this game turned out to be the “B Channel” of the night, because the ACC title match was 10-times the game that the Big 12 championship was. What an unimpressive win for Texas.

2. That said, nice kick.
On a day when there were multiple extra points missed, you have to stand back and appreciate the 46-yard game-winning boot that Hunter Lawrence made as time expired. With so much on the line, Lawrence could have folded like your favorite futon in college. But instead, he rose to the challenge and converted the biggest kick of his collegiate career.

3. What a performance by Nebraska’s D.
If Nebraska had anything resembling an offense, then they win this game walking away because their defense was outstanding. For the defense to overcome three turnovers and an absolutely putrid effort by their offense and only give up 12 points was amazing. Coming into this game, the Longhorns were averaging 43 points a game and had the 11th best offense in the nation. Yet, Nebraska made Texas look like a team that had never played a down of organized football. They whipped their ass in the trenches and at times, McCoy’s only option was to take a sack or throw the ball away because he had limited opportunities to make plays. This had to be the single best defensive effort by a team this season that wound up losing.

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