Early Snaps: Huskers shuck Spartans
Snap Judgments from the Week 9 early shift. For swing shift Snaps, click here. For Stewart Mandel’s take on Joe Paterno’s historic 409th win, click here. For a recap of the Top 25 action, click here. And for highlights from SI.com, click here.
• No. 13 Nebraska 24, No. 9 Michigan State 3: From Friday: “The Huskers are only better than average at defending the pass, but will have to be better than better to contain Kirk Cousins. In opposing possessions, the real story will be whether State’s second-ranked defense will be able to contain a Nebraska ground attack that’s just as potent as the Badgers’. How much luck did the Spartans need to win in Week 8, and has it run out?”
A bit, and yes, as it happens:
Cousins missed on 12 of his first 16 passes. He was intercepted on the Spartans’ first possession, was nearly picked off three other times and often threw into double coverage.
And the containment of Cousins was only the beginning of the Spartans’ tribulations this afternoon. State managed just 86 yards through the air on 11 completed passes (with 22 Cousins attempts) but found no refuge in the ground attack, gaining just 101 yards. The Huskers eschewed the pass almost entirely in the game’s early stages, with zero net passing yards recorded at halftime, relying instead on Rex Burkhead’s 130 yards on 35 carries. Burkhead recorded all three of Nebraska’s scores, running for two touchdowns and catching another from Taylor Martinez.
Discounted entirely as a legitimate outfit after that unfortunate Week 5 depantsing against Wisconsin, the Huskers now sit atop the Legends Division standings, with no competition ahead of them (Penn State and Michigan are the only ranked teams remaining in their November schedule) scarier than what they’ve already faced. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 8 Arkansas 31, Vanderbilt 28: Familiar foibles abound on both sides: On this sideline, an Arkansas team overfond of playing sluggish ball early against markedly inferior opponents; opposite, a Vanderbilt squad that’s less of a pushover than you might think, but still unable to close the deal against superior competition caught off guard. The Commodores actually led the Razorbacks from early in the second quarter until early in the fourth, when a dashing Zac Stacy fumbled just outside Arkansas’ end zone and linebacker Jerry Franklin returned it for a 94-yard defensive touchdown. A successful two-point conversion by Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright gave the Hogs the tie, and a field goal on the next possession the lead. With 19 seconds remaining, what would have been the tying, overtime-inducing kick for the ‘Dores sailed wide from 27 yards out. Non-player of the game: Hogs receiver Marquel Wade, who went and got himself ejected in the third quarter for a nasty hit on a punt returner and was seen celebrating visibly before exiting. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• Missouri 38, No. 16 Texas A&M 31 (OT): Anybody have any new ways to describe the Aggies blowing a second-half lead? Because I’m fresh out. Proud possessors of an 11-point cushion over the Tigers as the teams took to the locker room for halftime, the Aggies held on throughout a scoreless third quarter before allowing two consecutive touchdowns to open the fourth and lose the lead. A 35-yard Aggies field goal tied the game at 31-all, and with a forced three-and-out on Mizzou, the opportunity for a win was there. What the Aggies pulled off instead was a sack on Ryan Tannehill with 30 seconds remaining in the game that resulted in a fumble recovery, and a missed 46-yard Tigers field goal in the closing seconds brought on overtime. Mizzou fared better offensively on its first ensuing possession, with James Franklin hitting Marcus Lucas for an 11-yard touchdown. A&M never got closer than the 17 on its OT possession, but deserves congratulations in advance on the positive bump it’ll undoubtedly receive in the Coaches’ Poll this week. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• No. 15 Virginia Tech 14, Duke 10: Can’t count out that legendary Blue Devils homefield advantage, can we? From Friday: “Not an upset, but somehow the Hokies will wind up looking bad.” Duke gained 325 yards against a Bud Foster defense. The Blue Devils are by no means a good football team, but they have played uncomfortably close games this season against both teams that should be beaten (Richmond) and teams that should have wrecked them (Wake Forest). Had the Devils not answered Logan Thomas’ two interceptions with four turnovers of their own, this afternoon’s outcome might have been quite different (and that, if you’re into this sort of thing, would have dealt the Hokies a transitive loss to an FCS team. You know how they love those). [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 17 Michigan 36, Purdue 14: Isn’t it lovely when the All-Name Team makes headlines? Envy the announcers who got to pronounce Fitzgerald Toussaint’s name over and over again this afternoon as the diminutive Michigan back darted 20 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Averaging less than half of Denard Robinson’s 119 yards per game heading into Week 9, Toussaint more than doubled Robinson’s 63-yard ground total today, a much-needed spell for the oft-abused, all-everything quarterback. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• Florida State 34, North Carolina State 0: In case anyone was still wondering whether NC State was of suspect quality with wins over Liberty, South Alabama, Central Michigan and Virginia, well, you can think about other things now. EJ Manuel’s 321-yard performance marked his most prolific afternoon since the ‘Noles hosted Charleston State in Week 2, and the Florida State defense held an opponent scoreless for the first time since hosting Louisiana-Monroe in Week 1. [RECAP | BOX]
• Louisville 27, Syracuse 10: Of course the 3-4 Cardinals, coming off a three-loss streak that included a defeat by Marshall, beat (by multiple scores) the team that just took down the presumed conference champion a week ago. If charged for some reason with one day building a time capsule to represent Big East football, just put this exact set of circumstances in the vessel, and future civilizations will know all they need know. [RECAP | BOX]