I have no idea where “wait for the other shoe to drop” originated, but in 2020, there has always been a shoe out there, and where the college football locals are concerned, it usually finds a way to drop.
Saturday morning, the other shoe dropped for Maryland, when the Terps learned they’d be minus their starting quarterback and top tackler due to “medical reasons.” They’d already had to scrap three game plans this fall due to games getting canceled the week of matchups with Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan.
Navy’s other shoe dropped on Labor Day night, when they learned lack of contact in practice was disastrous to game performance, and their lack of consistent quarterbacking prevented the Midshipmen from having another outstanding season.
Virginia and Virginia Tech have both battled injury and COVID concerns this fall, making their matchup perhaps the lone slice of familiarity in an autumn of awkwardness.
But the biggest shoe to drop this weekend actually took place in Gainesville, Florida.
The No. 6 Gators were looking to cement their status as a College Football Playoff contender, only to lose 37-34 to a sub-. 500 LSU team.
You can point to the pick-six and lost fumble that resulted in a field goal, and you can point to three straight three-and-outs in the second half. But the play everyone will remember is Florida defensive back Marco Wilson earning a personal foul penalty because he threw another player’s shoe.
Yes, Wilson chucked the shoe of LSU tight end Kole Taylor after it ended up in his hands after a third-down stop. The infraction set up the go-ahead, 57-yard field goal, and extinguished the Gators’ playoff hopes.
And in a season like none other, a thrown shoe is the centerpiece of another improbable finish.
Maryland (2-3) saw its senior day take a turn for the worse one hour before kickoff when it was announced that quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and leading tackler Chance Campbell would not be dressing for the game with Rutgers.
In a game that went into overtime, with the Scarlet Knights prevailing 27-24, both were missed.
Now, one wonders if either will be available for the upcoming Big Ten “crossover game,” and if that game will actually be held.
- Terrapin Triumphs: Jake Funk rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown while also catching four passes for 33 yards before leaving with a shoulder sprain. Walk-on quarterback Eric Najarian threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Lance Legendre, while Brian Cobbs corralled 5 passes for 99 yards and a score. Fa’Najae Gotay tallied 10 tackles to pace the defense that kept the Scarlet Knights off the scoreboard for the entire first half.
- Terrapin Troubles: the offense had issues moving the chains, converting on just 5 of 17 third downs. Pass protection was a problem with six sacks allowed, including a crucial one on third and 13 from the 28 that forced a 50-yard field goal attempt instead of one from 45. Twelve penalties for 128 yards kept drives in check and gave Rutgers extra opportunities to move the ball, with the worst one a personal foul in OT that pushed the Terps back to the 37.
Next: Saturday vs. 2-5 Michigan State at 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network).
Navy (3-7) played in the fog Saturday at West Point, and saw its 2020 season continue to skid, with a 15-0 loss at Army.
After winning 14 straight against their rivals, this is their fourth loss in the last five years to the Black Knights. Even in the fog, one thing is clear: The Mids offense never really got in gear this year.
- Midshipmen Medals: the defense put up a third straight stellar effort, holding Army to 134 yards rushing (160 below their average) on 2.5 yards per carry. J’arius Warren led the defense with 14 tackles. Freshman Xavier Arline rushed for a career-high 109 yards and almost turned the game around with a 52-yard scamper on the Mids’ first second-half possession.
- Midshipmen Miscues: unfortunately they weren’t able to score after four cracks at the Army two yard line. Navy went 1-for-11 on third down, and posted just four first downs and 117 total yards on the day. The passing game accounted for one nine-yard completion. A fourth quarter fumble set up Army’s lone touchdown, while a poorly executed reverse led to a safety and a Black Knights field goal.
Next: The Military Bowl, on Dec. 28.
Virginia Tech (5-6, 5-5 ACC) had lost four straight, while Virginia (5-5, 4-5) had won four in a row entering their annual showdown, but the somehow the Hokies were the three-point favorite. Major smell-test alert, indeed. And there’s a reason why Vegas builds casinos instead of tearing them down.
The Hokies 33-15 rout of the Cavaliers salvages what was a nightmare season in Blacksburg, while undercutting what was becoming a season of progress in Charlottesville.
- Hokie Highlights: Khalil Herbert rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown: his 76-yard scamper for a score giving Tech a double-digit lead they’d keep for the rest of the day. Braxton Burmeister threw for 212 yards and a touchdown while Tayvion Robinson caught five passes for 98 yards and a score. The offense converted 9-of-16 third downs, and didn’t allow a sack. The defense notched four sacks, plus two interceptions. Brian Johnson kicked four field goals. I’ll miss the senior not just for his accuracy but because makes me think of 1980s AC/DC songs.
- Hokie Humblings: seven penalties for 50 yards is not ideal. Plus, punter Peter Moore averaged just 33 yards per kick. The special teams lost a fumble at their 20 in the first half, giving UVA a chance to tie or take the lead.
- Cavalier Congrats: Brennan Armstrong threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns, while Billy Kemp IV once again led the team in catches with 9 for 73 yards. Coen King led the defense with 10 tackles. And Nash Griffin averaged 41.8 yards per punt.
- Cavalier Concerns: the running game was held to just 55 yards. A missed 39-yard field goal cost them a chance to tie things up in the first half, and the defense then allowed touchdowns on their final two possessions of the second quarter. A pair of second half interceptions helped seal their fate.
Next: whichever bowls they get slotted in as ACC members, if they elect to go. (Pitt and Boston College have already opted out.) Should we wait for the other shoe to drop?