College Football Corner: Lost weekend for the locals, plus another upsetting Saturday

Upset winds were blowing this past weekend, with two of the remaining six unbeaten FBS schools coming up short on the road in conference play. Hey, at least they’ll have the “unbeaten entering November” nonexistent banner to hang.

But neither was a shocker: No. 5 Michigan State lost at a Purdue team that handed then-No. 2 Iowa its first loss of the season last month and gave then-unbeaten Notre Dame all they could handle in September (as Navy learned Saturday, it takes the Fighting Irish a while to get going).

That’s great news for Maryland, who visits an angry Spartan team next weekend. No. 10 Wake Forest saw its run as the last remaining unbeaten in the ACC end with a 58-55 loss at North Carolina, but was anyone shocked that the preseason Coastal Division favorite put 58 points on the board against a team that allowed 56 to … Army?

The best part about the loss is that in an “only in college football” accounting move, this defeat to an ACC foe does not count in the ACC standings. For those curious: Virginia Tech is still in contention for the Coastal Division, but needs to win out plus get a ton of help.

Meanwhile, No. 2 Cincinnati was held to a one-possession win by Tulsa and we can only imagine how far they’ll drop in this week’s CFP Rankings while one-loss teams Oregon and Ohio State stayed in the top 10 with close games that will be forgiven because they’re in a Power Five Conference. Is anyone wondering why the Bearcats are bolting the AAC for the Big 12?

For those curious about the most muddled division in FBS, the Big Ten West now has a four-way tie for first place.

Dorian Strong, Jaelen Gill
Virginia Tech defensive back Dorian Strong (44) carries the ball against Boston College wide receiver Jaelen Gill (1) after Strong’s interception during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3 ACC) lost quarterback Braxton Burmeister to injury in the first quarter and his absence helped result in the Hokies’ first game where they failed to score a touchdown since Nov. 22, 2014, when they infamously lost to Wake Forest 6-3 in two overtimes after being scoreless for sixty minutes. The 17-3 loss reverses whatever momentum may have been gained by their win at Georgia Tech.

  • Hokie Highlights: Malachi Thomas rushed for 70 yards as the team gained 4.8 yards per carry on the night. Dax Hollifield and Tae Daley led the team with 10 tackles apiece. Peter Moore averaged 49 yards on his seven punts.
  • Hokie Humblings: You read correctly — seven punts. The offense minus Burmeister converted just 3-11 third downs and completed just 7-17 passes. The defense allowed a 93-yard touchdown drive to begin the second half and ended the night by allowing BC to control the ball for the final 4:47.

Next: Saturday against 3-6 Duke at 3:30 p.m.

Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) makes a catch against Maryland defensive back Nick Cross (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Maryland (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) scored a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter and added a two-point conversion to tie then-No. 22 Penn State 14-all. But the window of opportunity proved fleeting as the Nittany Lions needed only two plays to retake the lead for good in a 31-14 defeat for the Terps, who have to know they had a golden opportunity to punch their ticket for the postseason and left way too many points on the table.

  • Terrapin Triumphs: Chigo Okonkwo caught a career-high 12 passes for 85 yards and the game-tying two-point conversion, while Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 371 yards and a touchdown, despite having multiple passes dropped and minimal help from his running game. Jordan Mosley led the defense with 13 tackles.
  • Terrapin Troubles: The offense converted just 4-15 third downs and misfired in the red zone multiple times as a grounding penalty, a fumbled snap and a pick six kept at least nine points off the board. The defense allowed Penn State to move the chains on 10 of 18 third downs, including situations where the Nittany Lions needed seven yards twice, eight yards twice and 15 yards once.

Next: Saturday at 4 p.m. in East Lansing against No. 8 Michigan State (8-1).

Navy safety Rayuan Lane (18) upends Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams (23) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Navy (2-7) took a 3-0 lead at then-No. 8 Notre Dame before the Fighting Irish asserted their dominance by scoring on their final three first half possessions. A fourth quarter safety set up the Irish to pull away in South Bend while the Midshipmen are officially on track to finish under .500 for the second straight season and third time in four years.

  • Midshipmen Medals: Isaac Ruoss rushed for 73 yards as the main threat on the ground. Rayuan Lane notched nine tackles and Michael McMorris made six stops that included a sack while forcing a fumble. Ryan Riethman averaged 52.6 yards per punt.
  • Midshipmen Miscues: The passing game managed just one completion on three attempts. The Mids took a pair of sacks as the offense converted 4-15 third downs. The defense allowed 4.8 yards per carry and the Irish completed 80% of their passes.

Next: Nov. 20 at 3:30 p.m. against 5-4 East Carolina

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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