Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Year in Review


With the bottom 20 out of the way, we’ll start to get into some questions about how high people should be on the list, just like the BCS. Speaking of the BCS, at 100 we have our first BCS team, beleaguered Vanderbilt from the SEC.

100. Vanderbilt (2-10, 1-7 SEC)

The Original Forecast: The Commodores have some good talent, but lack the overall depth to be competitive in SEC. They have enough to pull off a surprise or two, but the league schedule, coupled with a tough OOC schedule, meant 3 or 4 wins would probably be the best they could come up with.

The Outcome: Another 2-10 season, although they did beat Mississippi in Oxford. Both offense and defense struggled, with the offense scoring more than 20 points only four times, and the defense holding only two teams, Mississippi and Eastern Michigan, to fewer than 20 points. Larry Smith flashes occasional talent at QB, but he has hardly improved in his second year as a starter, throwing for 1262 yards and 6 TDs against 5 picks with a poor 47.7 completion percentage. He does provide some useful mobility though, rushing for 248 yards and 4 TDs. Jared Funk saw time in 8 games, including starting the finale against Wake Forest, but had just 651 yards and 5 TDs to 6 interceptions, and a 47.4 completion rate. Vandy have some fine talent at running back, but injuries saw the top three rushers miss too much time, and Warren Norman led the way with just 459 yards and 4 TDs. The receivers were a problem last season, and didn’t improve much this year, further hindering Smith and Funk. When the Commodores have a successful season, it’s usually down to the defense, and even this year some players stood out. SS Sean Richardson led the team with 98 tackles, 7 for loss, followed by MLB Chris Marve who had 80 tackles, including 8 behind the line. Corner Casey Hayward chipped in with 70 tackles, and had 6 of the team’s 9 interceptions, and also defended 17 passes. There is no doubt injuries affected the Commodores hopes for a better season, but even so, this was a poor result.

Best Game: Blowing out EMU 52-6 wasn’t quite the great result it sounds, but beating an admittedly mediocre Rebels squad wasn’t too bad a scalp. Vandy weren’t amazing, they were outgained 385-300, but they forced 3 turnovers and Mississippi blew too many opportunities, dropping passes and missing a field goal. Commodore QB Smith threw for just 73 yards, but chipped in with 35 yards and a score on the ground. Norman ran for 111 yards, including an 80 yard TD. For Ole Miss, QB Jeremiah Masoli threw for 190 yards and 2 interceptions, but did run for 104 yards and a TD. The team also struggled on 3rd down, making just 5 of 13. This kind of performance won’t make many teams “Best Game” category, but this is Vanderbilt, and this how they win. By forcing turnovers, limiting their own mistakes and taking advantage of their opportunities.

Worst Game: There were some lopsided losses on the record, but this is a tough conference, and they were decent teams. However, in the last game of the season, a struggling Wake Forest team arrived in Nashville and took it to the Commodores 34-13. Vandy were missing their two leading rushers, took a 24-3 lead behind the running of Josh Harris who picked up 138 yards and a TD. Jared Funk tried to bring Vandy back, but completed just 27 of 61 passes for 277 yards, 1 TD and 2 picks. He did lead the team with 7- yards rushing too, but they could never get it going. Five 4th down failures just highlights their struggles. A bad end to a bad season.

99. Texas-El Paso (6-7, 3-5 CUSA)

The Original Forecast: The offense, led by QB Trevor Vittatoe and RB Donald Buckram was to carry the team again, assuming the latter could continue to stay healthy. Coach Mike Price more than likely needed a bowl game to keep the powers-that-be off his back, but needed some stops from a normally poor defense to help out a potent offense.

The Outcome: A tale of two seasons – UTEP ripped off a 5-1 start with an offense and defense that seemed to be clicking, and looked like contenders for West title, seeing as the only team who beat them, Houston, lost their star QB early in the season. UTEP only won one more (over SMU), but did get a bowl invite against BYU. They were pretty competitive in most of theses losses, except against Arkansas and Brigham Young. The running game was poor, only ranking 84th, and the passing game was a mediocre (by their standards) 58th. The defense wasn’t great, but was better than it has been in the recent past, but much of their statistical success was playing offensively challenged teams early on. Vittatoe had a decent enough season, throwing for 2756 yards and 22 TDs against 13 interceptions. Buckram had another injury plagued season, only mustering 335 yards and a TD, and the rushing attack suffered, with the exception of the efforts of Joseph Banyard who gained 623 yards and 8 TDs. Kris Adams was an outstanding deep threat, catching 47 balls for 1070 yards and 14 TDs, but the other receivers were average at best. Corner Travaus Nixon, who had 75 tackles, 4 for loss, 12 passes defended and 4 interceptions, was the standout. Injuries didn’t help the unit down the stretch, but this year was definitely a step forward for the D. The team did the make a bowl game, although they were beaten badly (52-24), but next year looks to be a rebuilding year, so Price might not have had the result he wanted.

Best Game: They had some big wins over teams beneath them on this list, but their best win was over a decent SMU squad and made them bowl-eligible. Vittatoe had a fine day, throwing for 183 yards and 3 TDs, and wasn’t sacked or intercepted. The defense won the game for them though, keeping the Mustangs from breaking any big plays. QB Kyle Padron threw for 255 and a TD, but that was on 28 completions. WR Aldrick Robinson had a good day, catching 9 passes for 131 yards and a score. A good won over a good team.

Worst Game: Probably the loss to defensively challenged Alabama-Birmingham 21-6 to start their losing run. After scoring 195 points in their first six games, the Miners managed just 229 yards of total offense and two first half field goals. Vittatoe had a stinker, completing just 15 of 33 for 169 yards and 3 interceptions. He got no help from a running attack that mustered just 60 yards though. Blazers QB Bryan Ellis, on the other hand, had an outstanding day throwing for 272 yards and 3 second half TDs. Their running attacked chipped in with 228 yards as they racked up 500 total yards. Receiver Frantrell Forrest chipped in with 99 yards and 2 TDs. A disappointing loss for a team that had developed higher aspirations.

98. Kent State (5-7, 4-4 MAC)

Original Forecast: The Golden Flashes had a pretty tough OOC schedule, but their strong defense should keep them in bowl contention if the offense can pull their weight. Having star RB Eugene Jarvis back for a 6th year was a major plus in that regard.

The Outcome: Well, the Flashes fell short, going 5-7 behind and outstanding defense and struggling offense. Jarvis was injured in the first game, and only returned for the last three, finishing the season with 294 yards and 3 TDs. The leading rusher was Jacquise Terry, who gained just 542 yards and 7 TDs, although he was decent when he carried the load. QB Spencer Keith failed to match his freshman promise, throwing for just 2212 yards and 8 TDs with 11 picks. The receivers were solid enough, with Tyshon Goode and Sam Kirkland combining for 115 catches for 1342 yards and 6 TDs. The defense was outstanding allowing just 97.2 yards rushing a game at 2.7 per carry, while the pass defense allowed just 10 TDs through the air against 16 interceptions. Good performances were plentiful – freshman tackle Roosevelt Nix was the star with 10 tackles for loss and 10 sacks despite starting only one game; WLB Dorian Wood had 96 tackles with 10.5 for loss; MLB Cobrani Mixon had 82 tackles, 5 for loss and 6.5 sacks; end Monte Simmons had 4.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 for sacks; and corner Norman Wolfe had 75 tackles and 5 picks, including 2 against Penn State. The season was something of a disappointment, and led to the resignation of Doug Martin, their coach of seven years.

Best Game: Has to be the final game of the season, a 28-6 win over Ohio that kept the Bobcats out of the MAC title game, and showed things could have been different with circumstances landing right. The defense was its usual self, coming up with 7 sacks and 4 turnovers, 1 for a TD, and held a decent Bobcat offense to just two field goals. On offense, Keith threw for just 100 yards, but ran in a score. Jarvis had 100 yards and a TD to keep things ticking over. A fine finish to an otherwise disappointing season.

Worst Game: Getting thrashed 38-3 by Western Michigan the week previously was just dreadful. Despite outgaining the Broncos by 431-426, they could only muster a solitary field goal. Keith threw two picks, despite passing for a 244. The running attack, led by Jarvis’ 72 yards, picked up 182 yards. The inability to convert on 3rd down, making just 7 of 19, meant too many drives fizzled out. WMU’s Alex Carder threw for 163 yards and a TD, while RBs Brian Fields and Tevin Drake shredded the Flashes normally tough defense for 234 yards and 3 TDs on a mere 21 carries. Both had 74 yard runs. In a word – dire!

97. Kansas (3-9, 1-7 Big 12)

The Original Forecast: Things weren’t looking too bright for a rebuilding Kansas squad, despite the presence of Turner Gill, the coach who managed to take Buffalo to a MAC title. Question marks littered the squad, and new leaders would have to step up quickly. The OOC schedule was a mixed bag, but rebuilding teams in their division meant a six-win season wasn’t impossible, but 4 of 5 wins were probably more likely.

The Outcome: The season got off to a bad start, losing 6-3 to FCS North Dakota State, but things looked better with a win over 15th ranked Georgia Tech the following week. After going 2-2 in OOC, which was expected (though not in that fashion), the Jayhawks looked in decent shape for a 6 win season if they could split their league games. Oh dear! In their first three contests they were destroyed 159-24 (including a loss to Baylor). They only pulled off one more win, a 52-45 shooutout with Colorado, and were rarely competitive. The big issue on offense was the passing attack: Jordan Webb had his moments during his freshman year, but struggled (including missing time) for the most part, throwing for 1195 yards 7 TDs against 8 interceptions and was sacked 21 times; and Quinn Mecham took over when Webb was out but with same results, passing for just 554 yards, 4 TDs and 5 picks. Big plays were few and far between, with a team long of just 43 yards on the season. The leading receiver was corner-turned-wideout Daymond Patterson, who had a respectable 60 catches for just 487 yards and 2 TDs, was the best of the bunch. The running game was slightly better (but still ranked just 83rd), with freshman James Sims leading the way with 742 yards and 9 TDs. He had some fine games, and should get better. Unfortunately, he was pretty much the star of the offense, and couldn’t outscore a weak defense on his own. There were some okay performances: MLB Justin Springer 85 tackles, 8 for loss; while corner Tyler Patmon had 45 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 10 PBUs to go with 2 picks; end Jake Laptad was the best lineman with 38 tackles, 4 for loss, and 4.5 sacks. If these are your best performances, your team has problems. A poor season after the Jayhawks recent run of success.

Best Game: The win over the Yellowjackets stands out, especially coming a week after a shocking loss. Jordan Webb was the main man, throwing for 179 yards and 3 TDs, but Sims saw his first collegiate action and gained 101 yards and a TD on 17 carries. Patterson led the receivers with 7 catches for 85 yards and a score. The defense played a bend-but-don’t-break approach, allowing Tech to move the ball on the ground, but keeping them from controlling the game. Kansas actually took a 28-17 lead, and though GT got back in the game at 28-25, that was as close as they got, failing three fourth down attempts, including a backbreaker in the waning minutes after a false start pushed them back.

Worst Game: Take your pick. The North Dakota State loss was bad, but the 55-7 loss to Baylor (who was a decent side) was their worst of the season, especially defensively. The Kansas D allowed 678 total yards and 32 first downs. Bear QB Robert Griffin III threw for 380 yards and 3 TDs, and had 64 yards and a TD on the ground. Receivers Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams combined for 8 receptions with 262 yards and a pair of TDs. Jordan Webb threw for 171 yards and a TD, but also tossed 2 picks, while the running game mustered just 99 yards. Four turnovers and a defense that couldn’t stop Baylor doomed a Kansas team that isn’t designed to play catch-up football.

96. Arkansas State (4-8, 4-4 Sun Belt)

The Original Forecast: The Red Wolves are in year 2 of a rebuilding phase, and looked to improve on the previous year on the field, but probably not in record. Their defense would take a step back with the loss of Alex Carrington, but their offense looked to improve. Their OOC schedule (like most Sun Belt teams) was a killer, and the strength of their record hinged upon their conference play. Coach Dave Roberts’ seat has been a little hot, and this season may help the powers-that-be make the decision on his future here.

The Outcome: Another 4-8 season and the resignation of Roberts, to be replaced by Hugh Freeze, the man he brought in as offensive co-ordinator the previous season. But they were greatly improved; losing 5 games by a TD or less, and scored in double digits in every game (and put 26 on Auburn). The defense was the issue, as was expected, and ranked 91st in points allowed. They struggled against the run and the pass, lacking an impact player like Carrington to inspire the troops. In saying that, DT Bryan Hall tallied 8.5 sacks and FS MD Jennings had 84 tackles, 3 picks and 2 fumble recoveries. The offense, however, was the unit that kept the team in games. Aplin looked like the type of player he hinted at last year, throwing for 2939 yards, 21 TDs and 11 picks. He was also second in rushing with 477 yards and 11 TDs. Derek Lawson was the top running back, with 500 yards and 4 TDs. The receivers were a solid bunch, led by Dwayne Frampton with 69 catches for 738 yards and 6 TDs. The O-line did its part, allowing only 23 sacks. The result was a season that matched most peoples’ expectations, but caused resignation of Roberts, who did have a decent career here.

Best Game: There were some good wins, but the 51-24 victory over Middle Tennessee was outstanding on both sides of the ball. The offense accounted for 493 yards, and only had 7 third down attempts. The defense allowed 382 yards, but came up with 7 turnovers, including 5 in a row on the second half. Aplin threw for 245 yards and 2 TDs, and ran in another. Lawson and Jermaine Robertson combined for 183 yards and 3 TDs, while Frampton caught 6 passes for 138 yards and a TD. MTSU’s Dwight Dasher did rush for 96 yards and a TD, but only threw for 146 yards and 1 TD against 4 picks. A fine victory on all counts.

Worst Game: It’s hard to pick a bad game. Apart from the Auburn game, no-one really blew them out, so I’ll go with the 35-19 loss to Navy. The Red Wolves were blown away by an (another) outstanding individual performance from QB Ricky Dobbs who completed 8 of 9 passes for 164 yards and a TD, and also ran for 154 yards and 3 TDs. Receiver Greg Jones caught 4 passes for 129 yards and an 85 yard TD, and Billy Yarbrough had 3 sacks. The defense struggled all day. It did come up with 2 turnovers, but allowed Navy to convert 9 of 12 3rd downs. Aplin threw for just 178 yards, but ran and threw for a TD. A poor performance for the most part.

95. Alabama-Birmingham (4-8, 3-5 CUSA)

The Original Forecast: This is a talented team that could contend for a bowl game if someone could replace the not-inconsiderable talents of Joe Webb. The usually iffy defense needed to step it up, but the offense was expected to carry its weight again. The Blazers needed a fast start to garner some momentum in wide open race for the East title, but the schedule would most likely hamper those hopes.

The Outcome: Well, same old UAB. The offense was usually excellent, but the defense leaked too many points for them to overcome. They lost 5 games by less than a score, and these shootouts could end up costing Callaway his job. There is plenty of talent, starting with Webb’s replacement at QB – Bryan Ellis. In his first season as a starter, the junior threw for 2940 yards and 25 TDs, with just 12 picks. He was helped by an offensive line that was meant to be good, but turned out to be outstanding, allowing just 12 sacks (7 on Ellis) and opened holes for running backs to the tune of 4.5 yards per carry. RB Pat Shed was both the leading rusher (901 yards and 3 TDs) and receiver (47 catches fro 471 yards and 4 TDs), but was by no means the focus of the offense. There were a number of contributors, particularly at receiver, where the ball was spread around nicely. The defense had some good performances, but they were few and far between. MLB Marvin Burdette racked up 114 tackles, with 8 for loss, but DT Elliott Hennigan was the star with 15.5 tackles for loss. DE Bryant Turner had 5.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. So a season where they promised much, scaring a couple of BCS teams, but tended to fall short at the final hurdle, primarily due to a suspect pass defense.

Best Game: They had some good wins, mostly in spite of the defense, but there was one exception – the 21-6 victory over a UTEP team who at the time were red hot. After falling behind 6-0 early on, the Blazers dominated every facet of the game, scoring on drives of 74, 80 and 99 yards. Ellis threw for 272 yards and 3 TDs with no picks, while receivers Frantrell Forrest and Jeffrey Anderson combined for 11 catches, 192 yards and the 3 TDs. On the ground, Justin Brooks and Daniel Borne kept things ticking over with 150 yards between them. The defense contributed 3 interceptions of UTEP QB Trevor Vittatoe, and held their rushing attack to a mere 60 yards. A solid all round victory from the Blazers.

Worst Game: The Blazers managed to lose games in a variety of ways this season, and any one of them could end here, but the 32-29 loss to Tennessee has to sting the most. The Blazers fell behind 23-7 early, but came roaring back to tie the game at 23 before losing in double overtime. Losing to Tennessee isn’t usually a big deal for a non-BCS team, but kicker Josh Zahn wasted the hard work of his team-mates by missing FIVE field goals. After an interception return by Prentiss Waggner at the end of the first half gave the Volunteers their big lead, Ellis made amends in the second, leading 2 TD drives and completing two 2-point conversion passes to Jeffrey Anderson. Ellis finished with 373 yards a TD, while Forrest caught 7 passes for 109 yards and the score. For Tennessee, QB Matt Simms threw for 245 yards and 3 TDs, 2 to Denarius Moore, to keep the Vols ticking over. In double overtime, the Blazers came up short on third down, having to settle for three, then Simms threw his final TD on the next play for the win. But the game probably shouldn’t have made OT with the Blazers dominating in nearly every aspect. A thoroughly unsatisfying loss.

94. Utah State (4-8, 2-6 WAC)

The Original Forecast: This was to be a team destined to break their 14 year bowl drought with an explosive offense led by QB Diondre Borel and an improved defense that should be able to do enough to hit 6 wins. They weren’t going to contend for the WAC, or even come close, but they looked good enough to be bowl eligible by season’s end.

The Outcome: After a bright start in which they lost a tight contest to Oklahoma and beat up on FCS squad Idaho State, things went downhill in a hurry as they got blown out in the rest of their losses, with both the offense and defense struggling. Borel, who had promised so much the year before, completed just 53.2% of his passes for 2108 yards with a mere 8 TDs against 13 interceptions. He did chip in with 298 yards rushing and 7 TDs though. RBs Derrvin Speight and Kerwynn Williams (he was also an outstanding kick returner) combined for a decent 1230 yards and 12 TDs to provide some offensive spark. The receivers were poor, with Dontel Watkins leading the way with just 42 receptions for 492 yards and 4 TDs. Eric Moats was next with just 20 catches. The offensive line wasn’t the reason, getting some push for the run and allowing an acceptable 25 sacks. On defense, OLB Bobby Wagner was his usual outstanding self, racking up 133 tackles with 8 behind the line while FS Rajiric Coleman and corner Quinton Byrd each picked off three passes. But that was it for a defense that struggled against run and pass. A season which promised to see the Aggies back in a bowl fizzled out pretty quickly to just another disappointing year.

Best Game: The loss to Oklahoma was impressive, but their best win of the season was a 31-16 decision over hated in-state rival BYU. The Aggies were solid in all aspects of the game, and the final score doesn’t reflect their domination. Borel had a fine game, throwing for 192 yards and a score, and also ran for 68 and another TD. Speight kept the chains moving on the ground with 91 yards and 2 TDs on 23 carries. The defense continually harassed BYU QB Heaps, who threw for 270 yards, but it took 55 attempts. He also threw 2 picks. RB Williams returned a kickoff 67 yards after BYU’s first score and they blocked their final PAT to add special teams to the winning equation. Shame they couldn’t play like this more often.

Worst Game: Take your pick of the losses – they got thrashed regularly – but the 45-7couldn’ loss to Hawaii was their worst combined performance by far. Hawaii outgained the Aggies 605 yards to 181 as QB Bryant Moniz threw for 389 yards and a TD, and RB Alex Green ran for 172 yards and 4 TDs on just 14 carries. Receiver Greg Salas caught 9 passes for 158 yards and a TD. Borel passed for just 99 yards with two picks, while the running game managed just 58 yards. The defense managed 2 interceptions, but the Warriors moved the ball at their leisure otherwise. Disgraceful.

93. Marshall (5-7, 4-4 CUSA)

The Original Forecast: Marshall had been to a bowl in ’09 after a couple of seasons in the doldrums, but coach Mark Snyder still got canned. First time head coach Doc Holliday took over, but came into a decent situation with a team that didn’t lack talent. An okay OOC schedule and an East division that was winnable meant the Herd looked to be an outside shot at a spot in the title game. They looked good for a bowl too.

The Outcome: A tale of two seasons, with a dreadful 1-6 start, followed by a 4-1 finish. The defense picked it up a bit during the winning streak, but the offense struggled all season. Brian Anderson couldn’t seem to decide whether he was a good QB or not, alternating fine performances with head scratching ones. He ended up with 2358 yards, 20 TDs and 15 picks, but he was too inconsistent to carry the offense. His receivers had their moments, but none stepped forward to provide a go-to guy. The passing games struggles were especially problematic, as the running game was one of the worst in the FBS, ranking 114th. Martin Ward was the leading rusher with a meagre 345 yards and a score. The line had the potential to be a strength of the offense, but allowed 29 sacks in addition to the rushing woes. There were a couple of outstanding performers on defense, with WLB Mario Harvey racking up 143 tackles, 9 for loss, and 8.5 sacks, and end Vinny Curry coming second with 94 tackles, 6 for loss, and 12 sacks. Both units, like the season in general, flashed some great potential but always seemed to come up short.

Best Game: Probably the 31-17 win over UAB, a team with a fine offense, but was shut down by the Herd. Anderson had one of his best games, throwing for 304 yards and 3 TDs, with just one pick. TE Lee Smith caught 9 of those passes for 81 yards and 2 TDs. The ground game struggled though, making just 96 yards. The defense allowed Blazer QB Bryan Ellis to throw for 235 yards and 2 scores, but he only completed 20 of 44 passes and threw an interception. They were also held to 83 yards rushing. After UAB tied the score at 17 early in the fourth, Marshall clamped down, shutting them out the rest of the way while scoring 2 TDs. A good win in a season devoid of them.

Worst Game: Marshall got their tail handed to them by a few good teams, but losing 44-28 to a poor Bowling Green team had to be a disappointment. Anderson had a nightmare game, completing just 20 of 44 for 191 yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions. The offense was pretty poor most of the night, with Andre Booker’s 68 yard TD run the sole big play. To be fair, they fell behind 28-7, before tying it up just before the third quarter ended. Bowling Green scored the last 16 to put paid to any further comeback hopes. For the Falcons, QB Matt Schilz threw for 191 yards and a TD, and also ran for one, while Aaron Pankratz threw for 111 and a score. Willie Geter picked up a tough 100 yards on the ground. Their defense had 5 total turnovers, including 2 pick-sixes. A loss that must have left a sour taste in the mouths of the Marshall faithful.

92. Wyoming (3-9, 1-7 Mountain West)

The Original Forecast: The Cowboys had something of a miracle season in ’09, pulling off 7 wins. The likelihood of this happening again was slim, even if the team improved. Them speed needed to be improved and the young players who muddled through the season had to become more consistent. A tough schedule wasn’t expected to do them any favours either.

The Outcome: The team won their first and last games, but only one other in between. They did lost 3 games by less than a score, but being blown out was more common, as both the offense and the defense struggled, ranking near the bottom in most categories. QB Austyn Carta-Samuels didn’t improve on last season as expected, instead throwing for just 1702 yards with 9 TDs and 8 picks. He was also sacked 29 times in just 252 passes. He did add 392 yards and 3 TDs on the ground, and his mobility kept the sack total down. The top runner was Alvester Alexander, who tallied 792 yards and an excellent 14 TDs. He also finished strong, with 478 yards and 10 TDs coming in the last four games. Speed at receiver was a problem in ’09, and continued to be last season. David Leonard was the top guy with just 47 catches for 452 yards and 3 TDs. The defense wasn’t bad against the pass, but that wasn’t a problem as they were very susceptible to the run. Josh Biezuns moved to end from linebacker and had 4 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, but standout performers were hard to find. Most of the stats were comparable to the season before except one – after a +8 turnover margin in ’09, they were -3 this season. When your team’s offense and defense are this mediocre, those few turnovers make all the difference between winning and losing.

Best Game: The Cowboys saved the best for last, blowing out an equally hapless Colorado State team 44-0. Alexander was the star of the show, picking up 147 yards and 5 TDs, while Carta-Samuels was very efficient, completing 23 of 32 for 2627 yards and running for 46 yards and a score. The defense had its best game of the season, holding the Rams to 97 yards passing and 65 rushing, and also had 2 turnovers. Biezuns had 3.5 sacks. A dominating display in all facets of the game.

Worst Game: Getting beaten up by better teams is old hat for Wyoming, losing 42-16 to an equally bad team like UNLV is tough. The offense did little the whole game. Carta-Samuels threw for just 108 yards and a pick, and while Alexander totalled 92 yards, 72 came on the first play. For the Rebels, QB Omar Clayton threw for 163 yards and 3 TDs, and Tim Cornett ran for 70 yards and 3 scores, and caught another. A poor performance, even by Cowboys recent standards.

91. Ohio (8-5, 6-2 MAC)

The Original Forecast: The Bobcats were a trendy pick to finish second in the East last season. They are well coached, and Frank Solich also does and outstanding job of recruiting, good reasons why they have been competitive recently, and should continue to be. The Temple game was expected to be the division decider. They were also a shoo-in for a bowl game.

The Outcome: Well, the Bobcats did come second in the East and make a bowl game. They won the Temple game, and looked good for a title shot, but surprisingly lost to a mediocre Kent State squad in the last game, relegating them to runner-up status. Finishing the season with a 48-21 thrashing at the hands of Troy put a dampener on an otherwise solid season. One issue with the team is they lack star power on offense, relying instead on a number of players. QB Boo Jackson came back from injury to throw for 1897 yards and 18 TDs, but also threw 17 interceptions. He also chipped in 345 yards and 7 TDs. Runners Vince Davidson and Phil Bates combined for 1064 yards and 9 TDs to spark an okay running attack, but the passing game was lacklustre. Terrence McCrae was the top receiver with just 35 receptions for 505 yards, but he caught an outstanding 9 TDs. The defense was expected to be tough and lived up to those expectations. They gave up some yards against the pass, put picked off 17 passes. Safety Donovan Fletcher played a major part there, coming up with 73 tackles and 5 interceptions. End Stafford Gatling had a good season with 7 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. For most MAC teams, this would be a successful season, but Ohio have been the bridesmaid too often recently and must be disappointed, particularly with how the season ended.

Best Game: Having already beaten Miami, Ohio needed to beat Temple and then Kent State to clinch the MAC East. Temple is a tough team, but Ohio was more than up to the task, beating them 31-23 in a game that wasn’t really that close. Jackson had an off day, throwing for just 78 yards and a score, but Davidson and Bates combined for 154 yards and 2 TDs as they took a 31-10 lead. The defense allowed just 81 yards rushing and came up with 3 turnovers. Temple QB Mike Girardi threw for 311 yards and 2 scores as he brought the Owls back, but also had two picks. Receiver Mike Campbell was outstanding with 11 catches for 131 yards and 2 scores. Temple scored twice in the last 2:16 to pull within 8, but the Bobcats special teams were up to the task recovering a final onside kick.

Worst Game: There can only be one. After beating their two main rivals, Ohio just had to beat mediocre Kent State to clinch the East title. Easier said than done. Flashes RB Eugene Jarvis rounded off an injury-spoiled career with 106 yards and a score, and the defense came up with 7 sacks and 4 turnovers, one for a TD by LB Luke Batton. Jackson threw for just 133 yards with 2 interceptions, while the running game managed just 50 yards. Perhaps Ohio made the mistake of looking past Kent State, but regardless this poor performance meant they had to watch Miami, a team they beat 34-13, advance to the title game instead.


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