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October 17, 2011
Here's a quickie look at the weekend's action in a conference-by-conference manner.
Think of it as one final chance to look back at the weekend that was. We will have this conference call every Monday.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Virginia's defense. Given an extra week to prepare for Georgia Tech's option attack, Virginia upset the Yellow Jackets 24-21 by allowing just 296 yards to a team that had been averaging 553.5 yards per game. Tech matched a season-low with 272 rushing yards and established new season lows in first downs (17), pass completions (two) and passing yards (24). The Yellow Jackets had an equal number of pass completions and interceptions.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Connecticut. The Huskies have arguably put together the worst follow-up to a BCS bowl season, with losses to Vanderbilt, Iowa State and Western Michigan. Connecticut, though, showed it still has some life in the Big East even after Western Michigan and West Virginia shredded its defense the past two weeks. For the second consecutive season, Connecticut defeated USF despite not scoring an offensive touchdown. The Huskies' offense is making fewer mistakes, and the defense has shown it can pounce.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Ohio State. The return of senior TB Dan "Boom" Herron from suspension was big, and the Buckeyes got their rushing attack on track against Illinois in a 17-7 win. Herron had 114 of the Buckeyes' 211 rushing yards. The defense did its part, too, holding the Illini to 285 total yards. Ohio State is not going to beat Wisconsin in its next game on Oct. 29, but the final four games of the season suddenly look a lot more winnable with Herron back on the field.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Kansas State's defense. After a lackluster first half in which the Wildcats allowed four touchdowns and 296 passing yards at Texas Tech, the defense regrouped and was excellent in the second half. The Wildcats allowed just two field goals and forced three turnovers in the second half to secure a 41-34 victory over the Red Raiders.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: San Diego State. After scoring a total of 21 points during a two-game losing streak, San Diego State's offense returned to form Thursday in a 41-27 victory at Air Force. One week after throwing three interceptions and going 15-of-41 in a 27-14 loss to TCU, Ryan Lindley threw two touchdown passes without an interception against Air Force. Ronnie Hillman had gained just 55 yards on 20 carries against TCU and was replaced in the backfield by Walter Kazee late in that game. Hillman bounced back in a big way Thursday by rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Utah's run defense. The Utes shut down Pitt TB Ray Graham, who entered the game with a nation's-best 899 rushing yards and was averaging nearly 150 rushing yards per game. The Utes held Graham to a season-low 46 yards on 12 carries -- and 21 of those came on one play. That was quite an improvement from two weeks ago, when the Utes allowed Washington's Chris Polk to rush for 189 yards.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Vanderbilt's run offense. Vandy fell 33-28 at home to Georgia but had the ball in the final minute with a chance to pull the big upset. Vandy ran for 200 yards after managing just 45 rushing yards combined in their previous two games. Vandy has Army this week, and a victory over the Black Knights gives the Commodores a legit shot at a bowl; they still have games remaining against Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Wake Forest.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: San Jose State. Generally, when you commit six turnovers, you lose. But the Spartans forced six turnovers themselves and edged Hawaii 28-27. San Jose State blocked an extra-point attempt and a field-goal attempt to win back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2008. The Spartans improved to 3-4 with the win and have bowl hopes, something that's rare at this time of the season in San Jose.
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