NCAA Football

College Football Corner: Navy triumphs, Maryland falls in upset stakes on wild Saturday

College Football Corner: Navy triumphs, Maryland falls in upset stakes on wild Saturday

College Football Corner: Navy triumphs, Maryland falls in upset stakes on wild Saturday

The penultimate Saturday of the college football regular season often serves as a preparation for Thanksgiving weekend. But it is also filled with shock and almost dismay.

Navy quarterback Dub Fofana, center, runs past Central Florida quarterback Josh Seliskar (88) for a 45-yard touchdown run during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo /John Rau)

The penultimate Saturday of the college football regular season often serves as a warm-up for Thanksgiving weekend, when you have rivalry games like Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn and of course Maryland-Rutgers. It’s also an opportunity for some SEC schools to help fund athletic programs at Austin Peay, UMass and New Mexico State. But it’s also a Saturday filled with shocks and almost upsets.

The thrills and shakes began with a pair of near-spills early in the window, with No. 3 Michigan bending but not breaking the Illinois defense on back-to-back drives before scoring the game-winning goal to remain undefeated, while No. 4 TCU later missed a two-point conversion points that would have tied Baylor, was able to make a last-second field goal and stay safe.

No. 1 Georgia couldn’t knock out pesky Kentucky in a 10-point victory, and No. 2 Ohio State needed a blocked punt and a fumble sack to put away Maryland. And wouldn’t you know that in the last games #7 USC is up against UCLA in the series 48-45.

I’m not saying there’s a passing quality to upsets, but it felt like all of those elusive misses were somehow saved and incorporated into South Carolina’s game against No. 5 Tennessee. After coming from a double-digit deficit to four points early in the third quarter, the Volunteers’ defense collapsed. Or, depending on your point of view, the Gamecocks offense just took off. Back-to-back touchdown drives killed any faint playoff hopes for the Vols in a 63-38 loss. Maybe they should have scheduled South Carolina-North State?

Navy (4-7, 4-4 AAC) took the 11 a.m. kickoff at No. 17 UCF and drove the ball 75 yards in 11 plays, with Xavier Arline scoring on a one-yard run. That set the tone for the day as the Mids never trailed in a 17-14 demolition of the Knights. They now get two weeks off with a positive mindset for their biggest game of the year.

Medals of the Guardsmen: they held the ball for over 39 minutes and rushed for 248 yards, while Duba Fofana found his groove again with 114 yards (the sophomore’s second straight 100-yard game). The defense held the Knights to 3-12 in the third as John Marshall had four of the team’s six sacks and led the team with 10 tackles. Riley Rittman averaged 50.2 yards on six punts.

Dressage Miscues: the offense stuck in neutral after halftime, gaining 13 yards on 12 plays on its first four possessions after halftime. The passing game was non-existent with just one attempt. But there’s nothing to downplay in their first road win over a ranked team since 2015, when they beat No. 15 Memphis 45-20.

Next up: Saturday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. vs. 4-6 Army. Navy won last year, but the Black Knights are 4-2 in the series since 2016.

Virginia Tech (3-8) snapped a season-long seven-game losing streak when they were dogged by second-half setbacks with the last goal in their 23-22 victory at Liberty. But even with Jalen Holston’s touchdown, there was 7:46 left on the clock and the Flames needed only a field goal to take the lead. The defense responded by turning them over on downs out of field goal range and then recovering a fumble on Liberty’s final possession to seal the victory.

Hokie Highlights: Holston rushed for 99 yards and scored all three of the team’s touchdowns. Tech rushed for 176 yards on the afternoon, and while Grant Wells wasn’t dynamic, the offense didn’t turn the ball over. TyJuan Garbutt had two sacks among six tackles while forcing a fourth-quarter fumble. The defense recovered a pair of Liberty fumbles in the fourth quarter and held the Flames to 4-12 on third downs.

Hawkeye Humblings: the offensive line allowed six sacks, including one for a safety early in the second half, to give Liberty its first lead of the day. The special teams allowed a 97-yard punt return that sparked a second-quarter rally that saw Tech go up 10 to tie the game at the half.

Next up: No word on whether Saturday’s game against 3-7 Virginia will happen, and if so, what time it will start.

James Madison (7-3, 5-2 Sun Belt) certainly makes its case for being on a channel above ESPN3 or ESPN+, right? A week after dominating Old Dominion, the Dukes showed they can rally by coming back from twenty points down to beat Georgia State 42-40. They are ineligible for postseason play under the terms of their move from the FCS, but man did they give us some fun football this fall.

Duke Do: Todd Centeo threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns, while Percy Agyei-Abez ran for 89 yards and two scores. The defense posted five sacks and held Georgia State to 3-13 on third down. Sam Clark averaged 47.8 yards per punt.

Duke does not: the losses nearly cooked them, as two of their four fumbles were returned for Panther touchdowns, and Georgia State was able to create a touchdown and a field goal from the other two fumbles. I think there might be more than a few ball security drills this week.

Next: Saturday at noon against 9-1 Coastal Carolina. Hope they get the ESPN2 game.

Maryland (6-5, 3-5 Big Ten) after taking a halftime lead over No. 2 Ohio State, a blocked punt sparked a 17-0 spurt that powered the Buckeyes to outscore the Terps 125-45 in the third quarter. But Maryland fought back and was actually within three points when they broke through with 5:54 left in regulation. Unfortunately, OSU bled over five minutes and kicked a field goal. But there was still hope. At least until the Buckeyes fumbled the ball in the end zone with nine seconds left. The 43-30 loss was disappointing, but head coach Mike Loxley was pleased with his team’s resilience. And while it won’t be reflected in the stats, it was much better than the previous two weeks.

The turtle triumphs: Taulia Tagavailoa threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score. The offense actually outscored the Buckeyes 402-401 on the day. Beau Brady had eight tackles as the defense held Ohio State to 10 points in the first half. Deonte Banks blocked an extra point attempt that Jakarian Bennett returned for the 2-point conversion to start a late surge.

Tortoise problems: Tagovailoa was sacked five times, the last time leading to a fumble that was returned for a game-ending touchdown and sent Taulia to the sideline with a knee strike. The defense had no answer for Dalan Haden, who had 143 of his 146 yards rushing after halftime. A blocked punt set up a short field for OSU to take the lead for good in the third quarter. And 10 penalties for 97 yards is the last thing you need when you’re facing the No. 2 team in the country.

Next: Noon Saturday vs. 4-7 Rutgers. Should this be a trophy game, and if so, what will the trophy be called?

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