The big story of the offseason was Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, causing a ripple effect that went all the way down to the CAA as James Madison left FCS for the Sun Belt Conference and FBS.
These moves happen: Maryland left the ACC for the Big Ten in 2012 while Virginia Tech bolted the Big East for the ACC in 2003.
Nobody leaves a conference voluntarily for less money or exposure. But while the Longhorns and Sooners are on their way to bigger paydays and brighter lights, their current conference is enjoying the last laugh.
There’s been precedent where a school leaves one league for another and amazingly they stop getting a lot of the calls they used to get. Arkansas bolted the old Southwest Conference for the SEC in 1990 and went 6-10 in league play its final two seasons after going 26-4 the previous four years against conference competition.
Saturday, the Big 12 (originally made up of four SWC schools plus the Big Eight) turned back the clock 30 years as Baylor beat No. 4 Oklahoma 27-14 and Kansas (!?) shocked Texas 57-56 (it’s been a rough year for the Longhorns who were ranked as high as 15th in September but have now lost five straight for the first time since 1956).
Meanwhile, the shouts of “SEC” rain down on OU and UT every time they take the field by their soon to be abandoned conference. It’s a long way to 2025 when the two schools officially move into their new neighborhood. For many it can’t come soon enough.
Virginia Tech (5-5, 3-3 ACC) kept its slim Coastal Division hopes alive in a get-right game against Duke, delivering a 48-17 defeat to the Blue Devils that wasn’t even that close. It was also the final game of the season in Blacksburg, meaning if they’re going to qualify for a bowl they’re going to have to do so in unfriendly surroundings.
- Hokie Highlights: Braxton Burmeister threw for 215 yards (on 15 attempts) for three touchdowns while running for 71 yards. Raheem Blackshear rushed for 117 yards to provide an additional threat on the ground. Dax Hollifield notched 12 tackles and a sack as the defense held the Blue Devils to 5-17 on third down.
- Hokie Humblings: The offense was far from perfect, moving the chains on just 4-12 third down attempts. Twelve penalties for 108 yards will stick in the craw of the coaching staff.
Next: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against 5-5 Miami.
Maryland (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten) began their game at then-No. 7 Michigan State by allowing a three play, 82 yards drive that ended with a Spartan 59-yard touchdown pass. They’d also allow a 29-yard scoring throw in the first quarter on their way to a 40-21 loss. Until the Terps can put together a defense that denies, they’re going to be a program that shines in September against nonleague foes before getting buried in the unforgiving Big Ten East.
- Terrapin Triumphs: Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns despite the lack of a running game, aided by tight end Chigo Okonkwo (eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns) and Rakim Jarrett (10-105). Ami Finau led the defense with 11 tackle (it’s always nice to see a lineman at the top of that category).
- Terrapin Troubles: they were dominated on both sides of the field on third down, converting just 3-13 while allowing the Spartans to move the chains on 8-13 attempts. Penalties remain a problem, with 13 flags for 93 yards.
Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against No. 7 Michigan (9-1).
Virginia (6-4) found life without the injured Brennan Armstrong rather cold in the November night air as the Cavaliers lost to No. 7 Notre Dame 28-3. Armstrong’s arm and legs were missed as the Cavaliers were held to their lowest point total since they were shut out by Virginia Tech in November 2017. The defense didn’t help things by allowing three touchdowns on the first four Fighting Irish possessions.
- Cavalier Congrats: Jay Woolfook threw for 196 yards in relief of the injured Armstrong, and his top target was Keytaon Thompson who made nine catches for 110 yards. Nick Jackson made nine tackles while Anthony Johnson added four stops with an interception.
- Cavalier Concerns: the ground game was held to just 82 yards while the run defense coughed up 249 yards (6.6 per carry). Third down was a disaster as the offense converted 5-14 attempts while the defense allowed the Fighting Irish to convert 7-11 opportunities. Jacob Finn averaged 34 yards per punt.
Next: Saturday at noon against No. 25 Pitt (8-2).