College Football Corner: Banner weekend for some while others will be haunted for some time

Nobody hangs a banner for being unbeaten going into November, but it’s a special situation for those schools not named Alabama, Ohio State or Oklahoma.

For example, Virginia Tech last entered “Closing Month” unblemished in 2005, Virginia was last perfect on Nov. 1 in 1990, Maryland hasn’t been unbeaten the day after Halloween since 1978 and Navy was last perfect on Nov. 1 in 1960.

Saturday, the dream lived on in East Lansing as then-No. 8 Michigan State beat No. 6 Michigan 37-33, thanks to a 23-3 finishing kick, giving the Spartans their first “unbeaten going into November” season since 2015 when the Big Ten champs made the College Football Playoff.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines’ unbeaten dreams end with another loss to their in-state rival (third time in five years MSU has handed Big Blue their first loss of the year). And then there’s No. 19 SMU who fell from the ranks of the unbeaten thanks to a 100-yard kickoff return by Houston with under a minute left in regulation. And, No. 21 San Diego State lost for the first time this fall after falling behind early in their loss to Fresno State.

The unbeaten field is now six, from No. 1 Georgia who looked outstanding in their smackdown of Florida in Jacksonville to No. 16 UTSA who remains the favorite of all airport employees.

Navy (2-6, 2-4 AAC) was tied at the half 3-3 Friday night at Tulsa before taking control by scoring on three consecutive drives that chewed up over 18 minutes and put 17 points on the board in their 20-17 win. Plenty of treats for a team that’s played in five one-possession games this fall.

  • Midshipman Medals: the offense gained 302 yards rushing and had possession for 37:15, led by Carlinos Acie (80 yards rushing) and Chance Warren (70 yards). Johnny Hodges notched seven tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble while the defense limited the Golden Hurricane to 4-11 on third down. Bijan Nichols went 2-2 on extra points and field goals.
  • Midshipman Miscues: the team failed to complete a pass on four attempts. Special teams allowed a 97-yard kickoff return that gave Tulsa their largest lead of the game. Five penalties for 45 yards won’t bring smiles when they review the game film.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at No. 8 Notre Dame (7-1).

Maryland (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) honored its 2001 ACC Championship team as well as then-Head Coach Ralph Friedgen during Homecoming the best way they could: the Terps rallied with touchdowns on three consecutive second-half drives to outscore Indiana 38-35. While they remain in contention for bowl eligibility, their next three foes are a combined 20-4 before the season finale at Rutgers.

  • Terrapin Triumphs: Taulia Tagovailoa threw for a career-high 419 yards, with both of his touchdown passes going to senior Carlos Carriere (eight grabs for 134 yards). The running game was held in check but made the necessary plays on a clock-killing fourth quarter drive that resulted in a field goal that would provide the eventual margin of victory. Jordan Mosley tallied eight tackles as the defense notched four sacks and held IU to 4-16 on third down.
  • Terrapin Troubles: the defense allowed multiple big plays, from a 66-yard touchdown run to passes of 31 (twice), 41, and 52 yards. Punter Anthony Pecorella had a punt blocked inside the Terps’ 20-yard line that somehow didn’t result in a touchdown or field goal for the visitors. And the offense seemed to lose a bit of its mojo after a strong start (gaining 57 yards in the second quarter after 148 in the first).

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against No. 22 Penn State (5-3).

Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC) didn’t completely salvage its season Saturday with their 26-17 win at Georgia Tech, but they kept the 2021 campaign from going completely off the rails by snapping a three-game losing streak while also winning in the conference for the first time since Labor Day weekend. Now they’re one of five teams within first place of the Crazy Coastal Division.

  • Hokie Highlights: Malachi Thomas followed up his 151 yards gained last week with 103 against the Yellow Jackets, and the offense boasted balance (237 yards rushing with 254 yards passing). Not burdened with having to win the game with his feet as well as his arm, Braxton Burmeister threw two touchdown passes and didn’t turn the ball over while Tre Turner caught seven passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. Alan Tisdale tallied 12 tackles as the defense held Georgia Tech to 3-12 on third down while notching two takeaways. John Parker Romo connected on 4-5 field goal attempts, and we’ll let the miss from 53 yards slide.
  • Hokie Humblings: three times the offense got inside the 20-yard line and had to settle for field goals, with two of those possessions stalling inside the ten. The defense allowed 6.1 yards per carry, including a 61-yarder that didn’t go for a touchdown.

Next: Friday at 7:30 p.m. at 4-4 Boston College.

Virginia (6-3) led BYU 42-38 at the half and 49-45 after three quarters before fumbling and getting intercepted on their first two fourth-quarter drives on their way to a 66-49 loss. Perhaps it was the thin air of the Rockies? While the defeat doesn’t affect their league standing, it certainly serves notice that the defense has plenty to clean up over the next two weeks.

  • Cavalier Congrats: Brennan Armstrong threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 94 and two more scores while Dontayvion Wicks made four catches for 125 yards and a TD (the sophomore has 942 yards on the season at 23.1 per reception). Nick Jackson paced the defense with 16 tackles, while Jacob Finn averaged 53.7 yards per punt.
  • Cavalier Concerns: the defense coughed up 734 yards, allowing 8.4 yards per carry and 9.4 yards per pass. The Cougars began the night by scoring on four straight possessions and the times they didn’t score in the second half were due to a missed field goal and running the clock out. Three turnovers resulted in 21 BYU points (two occurred in Virginia territory).

Next: Nov. 13 against No. 8 Notre Dame (7-1).

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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