College Football Corner: Midterm madness

October’s about more than just getting ready for Halloween (my costume is still in the early-concept stage). For college students, it’s often about taking midterms — and for those who haven’t purchased books yet, the sudden realization they might be in trouble.

On the football field, schools like No. 2 Iowa and No. 11 Kentucky learned that perhaps their unbeaten starts were just as much about scheduling as performance (like my buddy who started acing classes just as soon as he didn’t have an 8:30 a.m. lecture).

Each of the area’s schools have been similarly tested this month. Virginia’s grades have been surprisingly good, while others have shown that maybe Maryland isn’t quite the straight-A student we saw in September, and that Virginia Tech might struggle to qualify for a bowl.

Meanwhile Navy’s midterms have the Midshipmen needing extra help during their lunch period.

Navy (1-5, 1-3 AAC) was dealing with the disappointment of a one-possession loss to SMU as well as a short week when they visited Memphis Thursday night. The Mids began the evening by allowing a seven-play, 75-yard march as the Tigers reached the end zone on their first possession.

The Tigers also scored on their second, fourth, fifth and sixth drives as the Mids lost 35-17. In less than a week, bowl eligibility went from a possibility to a long and difficult path.

  • Midshipman Medals: Isaac Ruoss led the team with 75 yards rushing as the offense had its moments, from going 4-4 on fourth down to grinding out a 21-play touchdown drive (the longest possession since 2004). Diego Fagot led the defense with eight tackles and an interception.
  • Midshipmen Miscues: The defense allowed big plays of 49, 51, 69 and 74 yards while yielding 5.9 yards per carry and nine yards per play. The offense allowed four sacks. While the team committed only four penalties, two were crucial: a personal foul that took them from the Memphis 5 to the 20 (they’d settle for a field goal) and a hold that put them in a hole on their very next possession.
  • Next: Saturday at noon against No. 3 Cincinnati (6-0).

Virginia (5-2, 3-2 ACC): After consecutive last-second wins, fans got a needed breather against Duke as Virginia dominated from the opening kickoff, scoring on all five first-half possessions in a 48-0 rout. While they don’t necessarily control their path to a Coastal Division title, they do have a November showdown with division-leading Pitt looming.

  • Cavalier Congrats: Brennan Armstrong threw for 364 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score. This week’s top target was Dontayvion Wicks (seven catches for 125 yards and a TD). The running game averaged five yards a carry. Nick Jackson notched 11 tackles and a sack while the defense tallied two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, turning the pair of second quarter picks into 10 points and a 27-0 halftime lead.
  • Cavalier Concerns: Looking for blemishes in a 48-point win is always a challenge, but the offense was held to 3-11 on third down. They also notched just one sack against a Blue Devils team that threw the ball 46 times. Five penalties keeps this from being a perfect day on that front.
  • Next: Saturday night against 3-3 Georgia Tech at 7:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1 ACC) played Pitt for the Coastal Division lead and unlike previous games this fall against Power Five conference schools, this one was decided long before the fourth quarter. The Hokies held the Panthers to three and outs on three of their first five possessions, but allowing a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter put Tech into a 21-0 halftime hole on its way to a 28-7 defeat. Making matters worse, four of the team’s final six games will be away from Blacksburg.

  • Hokie Highlights: Nasir Peoples made 11 tackles to pace a defense that had its moments, while Tre Turner notched three catches for 73 yards (including a 47-yarder) on a day where the offense had issues. They also only had three penalties. And I can’t say enough about how good the smoked turkey legs taste at Lane Stadium.
  • Hokie Humblings: The offense went 4-14 on third down and Braxton Burmeister completed 11-32 passes while getting sacked three times. The defense allowed 208 yards rushing (4.7 per carry) and failed to get a takeaway, as the Panthers had the ball for over 38 minutes.
  • Next: Saturday at 12:30 against 3-4 Syracuse.

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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