College Football Corner: Bama’s loss turns the world upside-down

When the king goes down, the world takes notice. And those who were one step behind see their opportunity.

After Ohio State routed Maryland, Virginia made a comeback in Louisville, Navy had its letdown against SMU, and Virginia Tech’s heartbreaker against Notre Dame, fans were treated to an upset for the ages.

No. 1 Alabama’s 41-38 surprise loss to Texas A&M on Saturday gave the often ho-hum world of college football a nice shot in the arm.

Instead of wondering “can anyone beat the Crimson Tide? (I’ve written exactly that piece on this page in the past), we have a scramble for the top spot with perennial underachiever Georgia finally taking care of business, dark-horse Iowa (if you play in the Big Ten West you lose street cred), Cinderella Cincinnati (Bearcats visit Navy in two weeks), and cardiac Oklahoma, who survived the Red River Rivalry in fantastic fashion (Texas is back after all from a disappointing its fans standpoint).

Meanwhile Alabama lies in wait for others to fall and bides its time. Welcome to open hunting season for number one.

Teradja Mitchell, Tayon Fleet-Davis
Ohio State linebacker Teradja Mitchell, right, tackles Maryland running back Tayon Fleet-Davis during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

 

Maryland (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) actually led Ohio State 3-0 before the Buckeyes blew the game open by reaching the end zone on their first five drives. OSU wouldn’t score on their sixth possession because it began with under a minute left in the half and they opted to take a knee. Ohio State would then score touchdowns on their first three second half possessions and win going away 66-17.

  • Terrapin Triumphs: Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns while losing another receiver mid-game (Jeshaun Jones this time). Challen Faamatau rushed for 71 yards. Colton Spangler and Anthony Pecorella combined to average 51.6 yards per punt. Joseph Petrino converted a career-long 48-yard field goal.
  • Terrapin Troubles: Tagovailoa was sacked five times and the offense converted only 3-12 third downs. The defense allowed 11.4 yards per pass play and 5.0 yards per carry, coughing up 598 total yards while failing to force a Buckeye punt (OSU was 7-11 on third down).

Next: October 23 at 3-3 Minnesota

Greedy Vance, Qwynnterrio Cole, Brennan Armstrong
Louisville defensive back Greedy Vance (21) and defensive back Qwynnterrio Cole (12) coverage on Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Virginia (4-2, 2-2 ACC) rallied from 17 points down to outscore Louisville 34-33. The victory wasn’t assured until the Cardinals missed a last-second field goal, but just like that, the Cavaliers are in the thick of the Coastal Division race.

  • Cavalier Congrats: Brennan Armstrong threw for 487 yards and three touchdowns, with Rashawn Henry (nine catches for 179 yards) and Keytaon Thompson (9-132) leading the way. Wayne Taulapapa led the team with 42 rushing yards and caught a TD pass. Coen King made eight tackles and forced a fumble as the defense held the Cardinals to 3-13 on third down (and 0-5 in the second half).
  • Cavalier Concerns: The offensive line allowed five sacks and the running game generated only 72 yards on 20 carries. The defense coughed up a pair of big plays, allowing a 52-yard touchdown run and a 92-yard scoring pass.

Next: Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against 3-3 Duke

Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai runs with the ball against SMU during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Annapolis, Md. SMU won 31-24. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Navy (1-4, 1-2 AAC) took a two-touchdown lead in the second quarter against No. 24 SMU, and then immediately allowed a kickoff return for a score. Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo says that return killed his team, and even though there was plenty of time left, the Mids would wind up losing to the Mustangs 31-24. And now they have a tight turnaround with a trip to visit a conference foe just a few days away.

  • Midshipmen Medals: Linebacker Johnny Hodges (recruited to play lacrosse at the Academy) made 14 tackles as well as an interception in the end zone. Diego Fagot added seven stops and returned a fumble for a touchdown that gave the Mids their largest lead of the day while piloting a defense that held SMU to 2-12 on third down.
  • Midshipmen Miscues: The offense had issues after halftime, gaining just 67 yards on 32 plays from scrimmage. The running game averaged 3.3 yards per carry while the fullbacks were limited to 40 yards on 17 carries. Special teams allowed that 95-kickoff return for a momentum-robbing score when an upset was in the air.

Next: Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against 3-3 Memphis

Virginia Tech (3-2) hosted No. 14 Notre Dame and scored on their opening possession to put the Fighting Irish on their heels. The Hokies took a 29-21 lead with 3:55 to play, but surrendered a quick touchdown drive and a last-minute field goal on their way to a 32-29 loss. So much for an upset special.

  • Hokie Highlights: Nasir Peoples notched 12 tackles and an interception while Jermaine Waller returned an INT for a touchdown as the defense held the Fighting Irish to 3-12 on third down. Braxton Burmeister led the team with 49 rushing yards and scored the touchdown that put Tech up late in the fourth quarter. John Parker Romo made all three field goal attempts with a long of 52 yards while Peter Moore averaged 49 yards per punt.
  • Hokie Humblings: Anytime a quarterback leads your team in rushing long-term, there are issues. Burmeister also completed just 50% of his passes and his interception led to a Fighting Irish The defense coughed up 156 yards in the fourth quarter and couldn’t contain Notre Dame when it mattered most.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 4-1 Pitt

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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