The Top Ten Coaching Observations from the Weekend
1. USC offensive offense - Looking at the box score from USC's 10-7 loss to Washington State and it's extremely hard to remember this is the same Lane Kiffin that called plays for the Trojans' historically explosive 2005 offense. Trojans quarterbacks combined to complete 11-of-21 passes for 54 yards and two interceptions. Somehow a team with Marqise Lee at wide receiver managed to play a game where the longest completion was eight yards.
And how's this for infamy? Saturday night was the first time in 141 games as a head coach Mike Leach has won a game without scoring an offensive touchdown.
2. Western Kentucky accomplished the impossible - Has any team in the 144-year history of football managed to turn the ball over five times in six plays? And the Hilltoppers weren't done there, giving the ball away on two more possessions Saturday afternoon. If you're ever wondering how it's possible to win the total yardage and first downs battles but lose a game by 32 points, here's your answer.
3. Two more FCS teams let FBS favorites off the hook - It's unclear how many people, if any, noticed, but two BCS programs came all too close to a bout with the FCS Flu on Saturday. After a strong opening win over Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas found itself trailing Samford 21-17 through three quarters Saturday night in Little Rock. In Dallas, SMU needed a four-yard Garrett Gilbert touchdown pass with 12 seconds to play to edge Montana State, 31-30.
4. And the beat goes on in Eugene - The best compliment you can give Scott Frost following Oregon's 59-10 destruction of Virginia is that you'd have no idea Frost was calling the plays if you didn't already know. A 21-0 lead 10 and a half minutes into the game, seven of the Ducks' eight touchdown drives consuming five plays or less and 557 yards in 21 minutes of possession all appear positively Kelly-esque.
5. Matt Wells is off and running at Utah State - Following a back-and-forth loss to Utah in the opener, Utah State went to Colorado Springs and flattened Air Force on Saturday. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton was outstanding - 32-of-40 passing for 360 yards with five touchdowns and one interception - but the Aggies pushed the Falcons around at the line of scrimmage, outrushing Air Force by nearly a yard and a half per carry on 95 combined attempts. Taking down Air Force in your second game as a head coach, which doubles as the school's first game as a Mountain West Conference member, is a peacock-sized feather in Wells' cap.
Utah State visits USC on September 21. Any idea who will be favored?
6. Nicholls State gets off the mat - Nicholls State opened the season by flying 5,000 miles round-trip to (predictably) receive a 66-3 spanking from Oregon. Instead of spending the next week in a state of shell shock, the Colonels got back to work. Charlie Stubbs' team travelled another another 3,000 miles and this time beat Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, 27-23. Andrew Dolan hit a 28-yard field goal with 1:44 to play, and the Nicholls State defense intercepted a Broncos pass at the goal line with half a minute to play to seal the win.
7. Is Randy Edsall in the midst of turning it around at Maryland? - The Terrapins have opened the season with wins over Florida International and Old Dominion by a combined score of 90-20. With winnable dates ahead against Connecticut (think Edsall would like to have that one?) and West Virginia and then a bye week, Maryland could head into October with a 4-0 record when Florida State comes to College Park on October 5.
8. Bill Cubit has transformed the Illinois offense - Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase's statistics through two games compare favorably with his numbers from 2012. For the entire season. The senior has already surpassed last season's touchdown total (six to four), is more than halfway to matching his entire passing yardage, and has upped his completion percentage by nearly 15 percent. A career 61 percent passer, Scheelhasse has connected on 74 percent of his throws (54-for-73) through eight quarters with Cubit. Most importantly, Illinois has already matched its entire 2012 win total. The schedule goes uphill from here, with three ranked foes over the next four weeks, but it's hard to see the Illini going 0-fer from here.
9. Bowling Green is a team worth your attention - Dave Clawson's club followed up a 34-7 win over Tulsa by defeating Kent State 41-22 on Saturday. Those clubs went a combined 22-6 in 2012 and each appeared in their respective conference championship games. The Falcons have a fascinating under-the-radar matchup with Indiana Saturday in Bloomington. Win that, and Bowling Green should breeze through its next three games (Murray State, Akron, Massachusetts) before back-to-back tests with Mississippi State and Toledo.
10. If it was easier, everyone would do it - Last week I noted on Twitter that Army, Duke, Tulane, Memphis and North Texas all had shots at their first 2-0 starts in at least a decade. Only Duke won, and they beat Memphis.