Cardinals’ wings clipped in loss to Syracuse; more early Snap Judgments
• Syracuse 45, No. 11 Louisville 26. The number of undefeated teams in FBS play dropped from six to five following today’s first flight of games, with the Big East becoming the latest conference to lose its last unbeaten program. The Cardinals fell behind less than three minutes into the game, on a 20-yard ‘Cuse field goal, and would tie the score twice in the first quarter, but they never held a lead over the unranked Orange. Three Syracuse touchdowns in the second quarter gave the underdogs a comfortable cushion that they wouldn’t surrender.
Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 completions. He was balanced on the ground by a 144-yard, one-touchdown rushing performance from Jerome Smith and a 99-yard, two-score effort from Prince-Tyson Gulley. Alec Lemon was by far the favored target of the afternoon, as he finished with nine receptions for 176 yards and two touchdowns. For the Cardinals, Teddy Bridgewater accounted for 422 passing yards and 17 rushing yards all by his lonesome. Louisville’s total net offensive output was 472 yards.
Spinning this forward: The Cardinals now trail Rutgers in the Big East title race; the Scarlet Knights are 4-0 in league play with Cincinnati, Pitt and Louisville left on the schedule. Syracuse can clinch bowl eligibility with a win in either of its final two games, at Missouri or at Temple. [BOX | RECAP]
• Michigan 38, Northwestern 31 (OT). Operating without the services of Denard Robinson, the Wolverines turned again to Devin Gardner, who obliged them with 286 passing yards, 47 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. The Wildcats led into the fourth quarter, then lost and regained the lead only to have a 53-yard Gardner-to-Roy Roundtree connection set up a 26-yard Brendan Gibbons field goal to force overtime with seven seconds left in regulation. Gardner ran in the winning score in the first overtime period. Between Kain Colter, Venric Mark, Mike Trumpy, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Justice Hayes, is it likely we’ll see this many Game of Thrones names on a field again in our lifetimes? [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 7 Florida 27, Louisiana 20. Ragin’ Cajun defenders sacked various Florida quarterbacks five times in the Swamp, and the Gators only avoided overtime by the grace of a blocked punt that was returned 35 yards for a score by Jelani Jenkins with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Just a real big couple of weeks for SEC teams versus the Sun Belt we’ve got going here. [BOX | RECAP]
• Missouri 51, Tennessee 48 (4OT). What do you do when you’ve got a little less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter, a tie game, two timeouts and Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Mychal Rivera on offense? If you answered “run the clock out, sillypants!” you win an officially licensed Tennessee football that deflates into the shape of a sad clown’s mouth. [BOX | RECAP]
• Virginia 41, Miami 40. Coastal Division, getting scrappy! The possibility of the Cavaliers and Hokies meeting for bowl eligibility in the final week of the regular season remains very much alive. The ‘Canes ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard, but our eyes were still fixed on Duke Johnson for most of the afternoon. The diminutive freshman rushed for 164 yards on 16 carries, returned six kicks for 216 yards (one a 95-yard touchdown) and threw an eight-yard touchdown pass for Miami’s first score. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 25 Texas Tech 41, Kansas 34 (OT). We should probably stop doing our “grisliest potential blowouts” category in our Saturday viewing guide until we can figure out whether or not it carries its own miniature web-based version of the SI cover curse. Sorry! Sorry. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 12 South Carolina 38, Arkansas 20. Tyler Wilson only being sacked three times and picked off twice has to count as some sort of moral victory for the Razorbacks, no? Of course, one of the interceptions was a 69-yard pick-six that effectively put the game on ice early in the third quarter. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 24 Rutgers 28, Army 7. We just want it to be known that the Black Knights hung tight for a full three quarters and that this game would have been closer than the score indicates if not for a 73-yard fumble return for a touchdown by the Scarlet Knights with less than a minute to play in the fourth. [BOX | RECAP]
• Purdue 27, Iowa 24. Not too much to report from a game that moved both teams to 4-6, but we do want to point out another contest that came down to the closing seconds. The Boilermakers secured today’s win with a 46-yard field goal from Paul Griggs with just five ticks remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter. [BOX | RECAP]