Including their 70-63 shootout win over Baylor back in week four of the season, West Virginia gave up at least 45 points and 400 yards of total offense in four of their next five games. They've dropped their last three straight, but co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson saw some major improvement against TCU Saturday.
After losing in double overtime on Saturday to Gary Patterson and his TCU staff (39-38) when they decided to go for two and the win instead of kicking the extra point to head into triple OT, Mountaineer co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson noted that they made some changes that allowed them to be more sound defensively throughout the game. At halftime Saturday, they had held the Horned Frogs to just seven yards rushing.
"We tried to get guys on the field that we knew we could trust, and guys that have shown that over the past two weeks." Patterson added that they also cut down on coverages a little bit, and put more emphasis on fundamentals like timing up their blitzes during the week.
Patterson noted that their focus now turns to keeping players spirits up and showing them where they have improved and the importance of playing a full sixty minutes. Their remaining schedule of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Kansas leaves no room to overlook anyone.
"You've got to build on the positive. College football has no time to sit and dwell on this one, you have to figure out a way to win next week." he said.
Plenty of coaches across the nation did outstanding jobs in preparing their teams to play, but the group below shined above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week for Week 10 of the college football season.
Head Coach of the Week - Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana - Lafayette: Hudspeth's team became the first squad outside the Big 12 and SEC to defeat ULM with a 40-24 win on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak to their intrastate rivals. The 24 points was a season-low for the Warhawks, while the Ragin' Cajuns became the first Sun Belt team to drop 40 points on ULM in regulation since 2009. Quarterback Terrance Broadway was an efficient 23-of-32 for 373 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, while Hudsepth's team controlled the line of scrimmage by out-rushing ULM 234-74. The win moved ULL one victory away from a second straight bowl berth and just one game back of first place in the Sun Belt.
Offensive Staff of the Week - LSU: Credit must be given to Oregon for putting up school records (and USC opponent records) with 62 points and 730 yards, but this week we recognize the work of Greg Studrawa and LSU's offensive coaches. The Tigers offense outperformed even the loftiest expectations against college football's top total, scoring, passing and pass efficiency defense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger played his best game as a collegian, connecting on 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Running back Jeremy Hill became just the fifth opponent in Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama to run for 100 yards against the Crimson Tide (29 carries, 107 yards, one touchdown). The Tigers moved the ball consistently on Alabama by refusing to leave the field. They were successful on 10-of-20 third downs and ran 85 plays, which adds up to 39:15 time of possession, allowing the Tigers to penetrate for two touchdowns and three field goal attempts.
The last team to put up 435 or more yards of offense against Alabama? That would be LSU -- in 2007.
Defensive Staff of the Week - UCLA: One week after slicing and dicing the USC defense to the tune of 588 yards and 39 points, the Arizona offense compiled just 257 yards and 10 points in a 66-10 shellacking by UCLA. The Bruins held the Pac-12's leading passer Matt Scott to a season-low 124 yards on 15-of-25 attempts. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos' unit limited Arizona to 3-of-14 on third down, a season-worst 18 first downs, recovered three fumbles and forced seven punts. It did not surrender a touchdown until midway through the third quarter with the Bruins nursing a 42-point lead. The UCLA coaching staff decided to wear war paint on the sidelines and if Saturday's results are any indication, Bruins football just got itself a new tradition.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - San Diego State: Special teams keyed a historic win for San DIego State on Saturday night, 21-19 over Boise State. In defeating Boise State 21-19 on Saturday night, the Aztecs earned the program's first win over an AP top 20 team away from home. Colin Lockett opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That play stood as San Diego State's only offense until Dwayne Garrett blocked a punt in Broncos territory and returned it to the 8-yard line. Two plays later, San Diego State had its second touchdown of the day and a lead it would not relinquish.
Call of the Week - Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian, Cincinnati: A few weeks ago in this space we promised that any time a coach goes for two and the win late in a game would receive automatic Call of the Week honors, so respect must be given to Gary Patterson and TCU for doing just that in their 39-38 win in double overtime at West Virginia. But this award goes to head coach Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian for doing what no staff has done - calling a jump pass in the middle of the field. Jump passes entered national consciousness with Tim Tebow at Florida in 2006, and we've even seen some running backs execute the play in recent years but the play had exclusively been used as a goal line tactic until Saturday. Trailing Syracuse 10-7 and facing a 4th and 2, Cincinnati opened the second quarter with a simple hand off to tailback George Winn. As Winn approached the line of scrimmage he sprung in the air and found Travis Kelce all alone behind the defense for a 37-yard touchdown. Cincinnati would go on to defeat Syracuse, 35-24.
Another full slate of college football action is now just a mere hours away. What matchups stand out to us on the final college football Saturday of October? Here's nine games that we'll be keeping our eyes on throughout the day.
Florida vs. Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Florida has won 18 of the last 22 in this series, and win No. 19 will lock in a trip to Atlanta in December for Will Muschamp's team. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease will test Georgia's 72nd-ranked run defense early and often; the Gators have run the ball 319 teams this season and thrown it just 134 times. Georgia will look to turn around an unimpressive three-game stretch that includes a 35-7 loss to South Carolina and two wins by a total of 12 points over Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC record: 0-9).
Texas Tech at Kansas State (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX): It's pretty safe to say not many people saw this as a battle for Big 12 supremacy this preseason. The teams that combined to knock West Virginia out of any title conversations square off with first place on the line. Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville's reputation as a giant killer preceeds him, according to blogger Matt Hinton, Tubberville is 7-4 versus top 5 opponents since 2000. Texas Tech, which boasts the Big 12's top defense statistically, meets the conference's most diverse attack: quarterback Collin Klein is the second-most efficient passer in the nation while also rushing for 14 scores, and tailback John Hubert has four 100-yard games on the year. Meanwhile, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege meets the Big 12's leading pass efficiency defense fresh off a whitewashing of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (season-low 143 passing yards, two interceptions).
Duke at Florida State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Saturday's Duke-Florida State game featues a team in control of its own destiny to win the ACC championship, and Florida State. Yes, it is Duke that is alone in first place of the ACC's Coastal Divison, while Florida State needs to win out and a Clemson loss to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Blue Devils clinched their first bowl appearance since 1994 with last week's 33-30 win over North Carolina, but to achieve more than that David Cutcliffe's team will need to find a way to slow down the ACC's most statistically-sound team. Jimbo Fisher's squad leads the ACC in nine categories including total offense, scoring offense, total defense and scoring defense.
USC at Arizona (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Pac-12 South leading USC travels to Tucson to face 4-3 (1-3 Pac-12) Arizona in what figures to be an easy Trojans win, right? Not exactly. Behind Rich Rodriguez's fifth-ranked total offense, Arizona is the 13th best team in college football according to Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings, six spots ahead of USC. The Wildcats have played better than their record indicates, after close losses to Stanford and Oregon State, Arizona is fresh off a 52-17 pounding of Washington. After losing its conference opener at Stanford, Lane Kiffin's team has feasted on the lower rungs of the Pac-12 standings with wins over California, Utah, Washington and Colorado (combined Pac-12 record: 4-13).
TCU at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET, FSN): Perhaps Mike Gundy and Gary Patterson can console each other on the hard luck each staff has been dealt at the quarterback position. After redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh ably stepped in for opening-day starter Wes Lunt, accounting for 461 yards of total offense in a win over Iowa State last week, before he was lost for the season with a knee injury. Oklahoma State will either turn back to Lunt, a true freshman, or to third-string quarterback Clint Chelf. On the opposite sideline, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin continues to improve as TCU's newly-minted starting quarterback. Boykin threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns in his third start on Saturday versus Texas Tech. Like the majority of games pitting the Big 12's middle class, expect a down-to-the-wire outcome with both teams reaching the mid-30's.
Ohio State at Penn State (5:30 p.m., ESPN): Technically, this is the most meaningless game on the Big Ten schedule in 2012. Or, depending on what you read, it could be the most meaningful college football game played this year. This game could wind up deciding the Big Ten Coach of the Year, as both first year coaches' fingerprints are evident through the improvements each quarterback has shown from 2011. Bill O'Brien's has completely transformed Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin, improving the senior's 2011 totals (1,571 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions) through just seven games. McGloin leads the Big Ten with 1,788 passing yards while tossing 14 scores against just two picks. His counterpart, Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller, places second in the conference with 2,349 yards of total offense and ranks second among all FBS quarterbacks with 959 rushing yards.
Notre Dame at Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly stated earlier this week he wants his program to emulate the success that Oklahoma has enjoyed under Bob Stoops. His team can start with a win in Norman on Saturday night. The closer and more low-scoring this game plays the more it will benefit Notre Dame. Oklahoma teams tend to pounce early on any displays of weakness but can fold in a 60 minute boxing match. After going a solid half-decade without losing in Norman, Oklahoma has lost two of its last six home games. Both losses contained a minus-2 turnover margin for the Sooners, good news for Notre Dame and it's plus-9 turnover balance. Notre Dame needs to improve on its 43 percent third-down conversion rate to keep Oklahoma's explosive offense on the sideline.
Michigan at Nebraska (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2): The Big Ten's most-explosive offense hosts the league's most sneaky-good defense in a game that could ultimately decide the Big Ten's Legends Division title. Nebraska leads the Big Ten and ranks among college football's top dozen offenses in yards gained (512.4 per game, 6.9 per play) and scoring (41.6 points per game) faces a Michigan team that arrives in Lincoln quiety riding a three-game winning streak. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's unit has held its last five opponents to 13 points or less and checks in at No. 10 nationally in total defense (277.1 yards per game, 4.4 yards per play).
Mississippi State at Alabama (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Both of these teams have benefitted from back-loaded schedules to arrive at this game with a 7-0 record. Only one of these teams has something to prove, however, and it's not the Crimson Tide. Mississippi State hasn't beaten Alabama since Nick Saban's first season and has scored 10 combined points through the first three quarters of the past four meetings. Fortunately for Dan Mullen, his team excells at the best ingredient to creating an upset - Mississippi State leads the nation in turnover margin. But unforunately for Mullen, Alabama checks in just two spots behind Mississippi State in the national rankings.
In leading Kansas State to its third road victory over a ranked team this season, Kansas State cemented itself as a true contender for the school's first national championship after a 55-14 demolition of West Virginia. 'Cats quarterback Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns against just two incompletions, while the Kansas State defense forced WVU quarterback Geno Smith into his first interception in 273 attempts, and then picked him off again six throws later. Snyder's team held West Virginia to season-lows of 243 yards of total offense and 3.9 yards per play. In fact, each team ran 62 plays but Kansas State accounted for nearly twice as many yards and held the ball for almost seven minutes longer than West Virginia.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Louisiana Tech: Plenty of other offenses faced stiffer competition on Saturday, but Louisiana Tech's offense was so productive that we couldn't ignore the Bulldogs in good consience. In garnering 56 points and 582 yards in the first half, Louisiana Tech produced in two quarters what many teams consider a good two weeks. The Bulldogs set a school record with 70 points, a total that Sonny Dykes' team reached with 19 minutes still to play. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's group became the first FBS team to top 400 yards on the ground and through the air this season. In 95 snaps, Louisiana Tech gained 839 yards (a school record and the most by an FBS team this season) while achieving 8.8 yards per play and 39 first downs. Louisiana Tech has topped 40 games in every game this season and been held under 50 just once through seven games. Louisiana Tech sports information director Patrick Walsh summed up the night perfectly in our Tweet of the Day:
Next year's media guide will not have an offensive record book, just the 2012 season stats listed twice.
Defensive Staff of the Week - Oregon: In the Thursday night spotlight at Arizona State, Chip Kelly's team demonstrated to the nation it was much more than a fast offense and flashy uniforms. Nick Aliotti's unit surrendered a Sun Devils touchdown on their first play and did not allow another point until the game was well out of reach. Arizona State's next 12 possessions produced a total of 221 yards with seven punts, two interceptions, a turnover on downs and missed field goal mixed in. The Sun Devils' 14 offensive points were a season low and their 408 yards were their second-fewest to date. In all, Oregon intecepted four passes, collected five sacks and held Arizona State scoreless in three red zone trips. After Thursday's performance, Oregon leads the country in red zone defense with only 15 scores allowed in 29 trips.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - TCU: Despite a disappointing ending for Gary Patterson's team in triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech, special teams coordinator Gary Sharp's unit played winning football on Saturday. Frogs kicker Jaden Oberkrom nailed all six of his field goal tries and converted 5-of-5 extra points. Wide receiver Skye Dawson was a difference maker for TCU in the return game as he brought back five punts for a total of 61 yards, including a 22-yard return to the Texas Tech 31 that ultimately gave TCU a 17-7 lead. Ethan Perry booted three punts for a net average of 45 yards, two of which pinned the Red Raiders inside the 20. Equally important for Sharp's unit, TCU nullified Texas Tech's return game by not allowing a punt return on the day and limiting Texas Tech to a sum of two kickoff returns that totaled just 15 and 11 yards.
Call of the Week - Todd Berry (ULM) and Rocky Long (San Diego State): For any head coaches that may be reading this, a sure-fire way to win our Call of the Week is to successfully go for two and the win in overtime. Todd Berry and Rocky Long share our award this week because both head coaches did just that on Saturday night.
First, Berry's team fought back from a 28-7 deficit to force overtime against Western Kentucky. After WKU scored to open overtime, ULM quarterback Kolton Browning ran in from three yards out to bring the Warhawks within one and then hit Rashon Ceasar in the end zone for the game-winning conversion. It was the second such win this season for Berry's team as ULM famously toppled then-No. 8 Arkansas in similar fashion on Sept. 8.
Rocky Long's team also rode a wave of momentum into overtime after the Aztecs fough back from a 31-21 hole with 10 points in the game's final 3:45 to force an extra frame. San Diego State quarterback Adam Dingwell went a perfect 3-for-3 in overtime as hit a pass for four yards on first down, then a 21-yard touchdown strike that set up his game-winning two-point conversion to Rob Andrews.
Both wins are crucial for each head coach. ULM became the first team not named LSU or Alabama to defeat Western Kentucky in the Hilltoppers' last 15 games, allowing Berry's squad to stand alone in first place in the Sun Belt. Long's team has now won three straight Mountain West games to pull into a four-way tie for second place in the MWC. Both teams need one more victory to achieve bowl eligibility.
Now that Week 7 of the college football season has come and gone, which coaching staffs did a standout job of getting their teams ready to play? We highlight those stood out to us with our Coaches of the Week.
Head Coach of the Week: Gary Patterson, TCU
One week after suffering his first loss in nearly a full season and four days after announcing that his team will play the rest of the season without its starting quarterback, Gary Patterson's team submitted its most complete performance of 2012. That is what coaches look for when they talk about responding to sudden change. After his first full week of working with co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rusty Burns as a starting quarterback, Trevone Boykin completed 22-of-30 passes for 261 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Dick Bumpas' defense forced Baylor into six turnovers while holding the Bears to its season low in total yardage and less than 40 percent of its scoring average. Patterson's team broke the game open with a 21-0 fourth quarter and posted 509 yards of total offense, its most versus FBS competition in 2012. Gary Patterson's team is now 22-6 following a loss in his tenure and has amazingly won 14 straight conference road games.
Offensive Staff of the Week: Oregon State
Credit the work of Mike Riley, Danny Langsdorf and staff, because no one would have ever known Beavers quarterback Cody Vaz was starting his first college game on Saturday. Taking his first snaps since 2005, the Oregon State quarterback connected on 20-of-32 passes for 332 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Langsdorf's offense also ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns, nearly doubling the the total allowed by BYU's third-ranked rush defense (2.23 yards per carry allowed). Oregon State's 42 points were by far the most scored on a BYU defense that entered Saturday with just 49 points allowed for the entire season. Seamlessly replacing the nation's sixth-most productive passer allowed Oregon State to move to 5-0 for the first time since 1939.
Defensive Staff of the Week: Texas Tech
How's this for perspective of just how dominant the Texas Tech defense was versus West Virginia - coming into Saturday, the Mountaineers' offense had scored 14 or more points in 13 separate quarters this season (that's 65 percent on the year), including seven of eight quarters in Big 12 play. It took West Virginia over 57 minutes to reach that number in Lubbock. Despite not posting any turnovers or sacks, the Red Raiders defense got off the field by holding West Virginia to 9-of-21 on third down and 2-of-7 on fourth down. Art Kaufman and co. held Heisman Trophy favorite Geno Smith to nearly half of his season averages - 52.7 percent completion rate (down from 81.4 percent), 275 passing yards on five yards per attempt (down from 399 yards and nearly 10 yards per attempt) and one touchdown (two below his season average). Texas Tech also held the West Virginia ground game, which so befuddled Texas a week prior, to 133 yards on 3.7 yards per carry. With 50 percent of the schedule behind them, Art Kaufman's crew has halved their 2011 averages (486 yards per game in 2011, 243 in 2012; 6.45 yards per play in 2011, 3.89 in 2012) while jumping 110 spots in the in total defense. A group that finished last season No. 114 in the country currently stands at No. 4.
Special Teams Unit of the Week: Iowa
Kirk Ferentz's team hardly ever does anything spectacular, instead winning with balance, execution and efficiency. Iowa's special teams were exactly that Saturday in the Hawkeyes' 19-16 win over Michigan State in double overtime. Kicker Mike Meyer nailed all four of his field goal tries, including the game-winner from 42 yards in double overtime. Iowa punted eight times, allowing only two returns - one for a yard and another for minus-2 yards. Under the direction of special teams coordinator Lester Erb, Iowa held the Spartans to an average of 17 yards on four kickoff returns while taking their lone kick return 45 yards. In fact, Jordan Cotton's 45-yard kick return in the second quarter sparked the drive that got Ferentz's team on the scoreboard after trailing 10-0.
Call of the Week: Les Miles, Greg Studrawa and Frank Wilson, LSU
With a stable of running backs that boasts Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Spencer Ware, you wouldn't think LSU would have to call on his No. 5 tailback, true freshman Jeremy Hill to pull him out of a tight spot Saturday night in Death Valley. But Hill, who entered the South Carolina game with 13 carries on the season, provided the spark that the Miles' team needed with 17 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-21 win over South Carolina. Credit for this move also must go to offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa and running backs coach Frank Wilson - first for getting such running back depth on the roster, and also for keeping all that depth ready to play. "I think that's something the coaches preach," Hill said after the game. "They do a good job of keeping everyone patient. This team has a lot of depth. They recruit well every year. Once you come here, you know you're going to have to wait your turn to play. Once you get that opportunity, you've got to take advantage of it and run with it."