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September 12, 2011
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.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Wake Forest. Nobody seemed to know who would finish second through fifth in the Atlantic Division before this season, but just about everyone agreed Florida State would win the division and Wake Forest would land in the basement. Wake seems intent on throwing that conventional wisdom out the window. The Demon Deacons raced to a 27-6 lead in their ACC opener Saturday and hung on to beat division rival N.C. State. Tanner Price continued to establish himself as one of the ACC's top quarterbacks, while WR Michael Campanaro showed his versatility by providing a 40-yard touchdown pass and a 31-yard touchdown catch. The Deacons must learn to play a complete game (they nearly collapsed in the fourth quarter for a second consecutive week) but they clearly have come a long way over the last year.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Rutgers. This wasn't a great week for Big East teams, but Rutgers at least showed competitive spirit in a 24-22 loss at North Carolina. The Scarlet Knights' offensive line was bound to be overmatched (Chas Dodd was sacked four times), but Rutgers capitalized on five North Carolina turnovers to at least keep the game competitive. Rutgers still has problems in the running game (29 yards against the Tar Heels) and with defensive breakdowns, but the team showed it has the potential to get to a bowl game. Now that WR Mohamed Sanu isn't getting beat up in the "Wildcat" formation, he gives the offense a significant weapon. He caught 13 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown against North Carolina.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Michigan. The Wolverines could be a sleeper in the Legends Division following a thrilling 35-31 victory over Notre Dame that included three touchdowns in the final minute. Michigan is 2-0 and full of momentum and confidence, but work remains, specifically with a defense that looked pitiful covering the pass, allowing 315 yards through the air and 513 overall. But Michigan benefited from four Irish turnovers and is feeling good about itself. It has a great chance to be 6-0 when it visits Michigan State on Oct. 15.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Iowa State. Iowa State, which a week ago scored a last-minute touchdown to pull out a one-point win over FCS member Northern Iowa, made big plays at the end of regulation and in overtime to upset Iowa 44-41 and claim its first victory over its rival in four years. Iowa State scored a tying touchdown with just more than a minute remaining in regulation, then won in triple-overtime on a 4-yard run by James White.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: TCU. After falling 50-48 to Baylor in its season opener, TCU figured to have a tough time winning at Air Force without two injured all-conference selections from last season, TB Ed Wesley and LB Tanner Brock. TCU instead sprinted to an early 21-0 advantage and led by as many as 25 points before going on to win 35-19 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Washington. Its secondary earned a measure of redemption with a solid showing against Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz, the nation's most prolific passer last season. Moniz did throw for 333 yards, but managed only one touchdown pass in the Huskies' 40-32 victory. That was a major improvement from a week ago, when Washington surrendered 473 passing yards and three touchdown passes to FCS member Eastern Washington.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Vanderbilt. Vandy did just enough to get past Connecticut 24-21. While UConn isn't nearly as good as it was last season, when it was a Big East tri-champ and went to the Fiesta Bowl, this still is a good win for Vandy, which is 2-0 for just the third time since 1993. Vandy's defense dominated, as UConn's TDs came on a blocked punt and on a fumble return. Plus, Vandy rallied in the fourth quarter for the win. The Commodores get Ole Miss this week; they won in Oxford last season.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: New Mexico State. The Aggies' shocking 28-21 victory at Minnesota was marred by Gophers coach Jerry Kill having a seizure on the sideline in the final seconds. But NMSU deserves credit for snapping its 12-game road losing streak, and it came against a team that had taken USC to the wire last week in L.A.
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