Everyone’s front-runner, Peyton Manning, had the day off. Oops, that was last week. Manning had his worst game of the season, completing 8 of 25 passes for 126 yards against South Carolina, leaving Heisman pundits wondering who wants to win this thing.
Why not Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf? Depending on one’s point of view, Leaf was either heroic (24 of 49 for 447 yards with three touchdowns) or played the role of goat (two fumbles for two ASU touchdowns) in Washington State’s 44-31 loss to Arizona State.
Or how about UCLA quarterback Cade McNown? The nation’s passing efficiency leader, McNown was 15 of 28 for 205 yards in a 27-7 victory over Stanford.
Put a fork in Auburn quarterback Dameyune Craig. He’s done. It’s safe to assume that no quarterback has won the Heisman in a season in which his team was shut out by an unranked opponent, as happened to the Tigers against Mississippi State (20-0). Kentucky sophomore Tim Couch continues to be the best quarterback in the SEC, passing for 410 yards in his team’s 63-28 loss to LSU.
Stars and stats
Thad Busby, Florida State, passed for a career-high 463 yards and five TDs as the third-ranked Seminoles beat North Carolina State 48-35.
Jamal Lewis, Tennessee, ran for 205 yards and two TDs on 24 carries as the No. 8 Volunteers beat South Carolina 22-7.
Kevin Faulk, LSU, rushed 28 times for 212 yards and a school-record five touchdowns, leading the Tigers’ 63-28 victory over Kentucky.
Ricky Williams, Texas, had 226 yards on 31 carries, two TD dashes and his first passing score but the Longhorns lost to Baylor, 23-21. Williams leads Division I-A in rushing.
Tim Rattay, Louisiana Tech, threw for 361 yards and three TDs in a 26-20 victory over Alabama.
Randy Moss, Marshall, had seven catches for 193 yards and two TDs in the Thundering Herd’s 45-17 win over Central Michigan.
Darren Davis, Iowa State, rushed for 261 yards against Kansas, giving him 508 yards in the last two games. The sophomore had all but six of the Cyclones’ 48 carries.
John Engelberger, Virginia Tech, had three of his team’s eight sacks and the Hokies held AlabamaBirmingham to 65 yards on offense, a Virginia Tech record, in a 37-0 win.
Torry Holt, North Carolina State, caught 12 passes for 168 yards and five TDs in a 48-35 loss to Florida State.
Jason Harris, Kansas, blocked two punts that were recovered for TDs to lead the Jayhawks’ victory.
Gary Berry, Ohio State, returned an interception and a blocked punt for scores in the No. 9 Buckeyes’ 37-13 win over No. 21 Michigan State.
The numbers game
Illinois (0-8, 0-5), having its worst season since an 0-10 record in 1969, managed only two field goals by Neil Rackers against Indiana and went down to its 14th straight loss over two seasons, the longest current losing streak in NCAA Division I-A. Northern Illinois has lost 16 in a row, but several of those came last season in Division I-AA.
Miami’s 340 yards rushing against Arkansas State marked the first time in school history that the Hurricanes exceeded 300 yards on the ground three times in a row. The efforts follow four games, all losses, in which the Hurricanes’ combined rushing total was 264.
Kansas came into its game against Iowa State with an offense ranked last among 112 Division I-A teams and without an offensive TD since Eric Vann’s 99-yard run against Oklahoma on Oct. 4. The Jayhawks scored 34 points, still with only two offensive TDs.
Division I-AA highlights
At Lynchburg, Va., Ben Anderson threw for 334 yards and five touchdowns, three on long passes to Courtney Freeman, as the Liberty Flames (7-1) defeated the previously undefeated Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs (7-1) 49-32 in a matchup of top I-AA independents.
At Dayton, Ohio, Dayton defeated Evansville 49-7, extending the Flyers’ consecutive wins streak to 20 games, best in I-AA.
First the Stanford band, now this
Navy was booed off the field after its 21-17 loss to Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium when coach Charlie Weatherbie brought his team to midfield for a team prayer - right in the midst of the N.D. band, which was playing its traditional postgame concert.
“It is something we always do, and I don’t know why we were asked to leave. I’ve never been booed for praying,” Weatherbie said.
Looking ahead to next Saturday
Two huge games feature the Big Ten and ACC championship races. In the Big Ten, it’s Michigan at Penn State; and in the ACC, it’s Florida State at North Carolina.