Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (rain checks sold separately in Lincoln and Ames):
APP STATE’S AGONIZING NEAR MISS
The Dash talked to Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield (31) on Monday. He said he was in good spirits before admitting he hadn’t slept the past two days.
“You just keep thinking,” he said, “what could we do differently?”
The answer is, very little. A young Mountaineers team played a brilliant game at powerhouse Penn State (32) on Saturday, taking a lead into the final minute and then losing in overtime. It would have been a prohibitive favorite for 2018 Upset of the Year, coming 11 years to the day after App State etched itself into college football lore with a shocking win at Michigan.
Alas, the one thing that would have likely iced the game is definitely something App State couldn’t have done differently — delaying its final touchdown. When the Mountaineers hit the end zone with 1:47 remaining to take a 38-31 lead — and capping off a staggering 28-point fourth quarter — the immediate thought was that they scored too soon.
They gave clutch Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley the opportunity to lead the tying drive, forcing overtime and winning it there. In reality, though, there is no such thing as scoring too soon.
You could not logically expect running back Jalin Moore to instantly process the time and game situation and call a halt to his 16-yard touchdown run, sliding to the ground or going out of bounds so the Mountaineers could bleed the clock inside a minute before attempting a clinching field goal. It just doesn’t work that way.
“I’ve never been part of a team where you say, ‘Don’t score,’ ” Satterfield said. “In a perfect world, you score that touchdown with 15 seconds left, but this was a guy making a heck of an effort to get in the end zone.”
Moore did the right thing. The play that haunts Satterfield most was failure to adequately cover the ensuing kickoff. Michael Rubino, who did a great job kicking off all game, knocked that one into the end zone — and then return man KJ Hamler hesitated for several seconds before coming out.
“I really think that threw off our guys,” Satterfield said.
A slight breakdown in lane discipline and a missed tackle later, Hamler had taken the ball across midfield. Seven plays later, McSorley hit Hamler for the tying touchdown.
In defeat, Appalachian State further validated its FBS progress. The Mountaineers have won 30 games the previous three seasons, and three bowl games. The only thing missing is the signature takedown the program achieved 11 years earlier.
There was an agonizing loss at Tennessee in 2016, and now this one at Penn State. It’s enough to leave a coach proud of his players but still staring at the ceiling at night.
“At some point,” Satterfield said, “you’ve got to make one more play.”
TUA VS. TOA, A TALE OF THE TAPE-A
Their first names are separated only by a vowel. They share a Samoan heritage. They had splashy season-opening performances Saturday.
Other than that, Tua Tagovailoa (33) and Toa Taua (34) have taken quite different paths to this point. A quick look at the two:
Tua: Quarterback at Alabama, hero of national championship game.
Toa: Three-star linebacker prospect who is now playing running back at Nevada.
Tua: Was great throwing the ball in his first collegiate start, earning a whopping 235.4 pass-efficiency rating while shredding Louisville.
Toa: Was even better throwing the ball — he had a 73-yard touchdown on a halfback pass in a rout of Portland State, earning a pass efficiency rating of 1,043.2.
Tua: Showed his wheels as well by running for 33 yards and a touchdown against Louisville.
Toa: Showed his wheels in racking up 56 rushing yards against Portland State.
Tua: Caught zero passes.
Toa: Had one catch for 9 yards.
Tua: Is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate and the best quarterback prospect of Nick Saban’s college coaching career.
Toa: Is listed as third string at running back heading into Nevada’s game at Vanderbilt.
RUINOUS DRINKING GAME OF THE WEEK
In The Dash’s never-ending efforts to get the readership tipsy, this week’s killer drinking game:
Take a drink every time a broadcaster refers to his colleague in the booth as “Partner (35)!” Often in the context of, “We’ve got ourselves a good one here, Partner!” But it has become ubiquitous. Names apparently are no longer needed when a faux-chummy “Partner!” can be substituted.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The most steadfast of football truisms remains intact after the first weekend: win the turnover battle and you’re almost always going to win the game. This week, teams that had a plus turnover margin were 43-7. Teams that were plus-3 or more were 15-1.
The lone exception: Kentucky, which is either remarkably resourceful or remarkably lucky the past two seasons. In 2017, only two teams were a minus-4 or more and still won a game: Auburn was minus-5 against outmanned Mercer, and Kentucky was minus-4 and still beat Tennessee.
This year, the Wildcats were minus-4 against Central Michigan and still prevailed. The other minus-4 teams that won: Utah (36) over Weber State and Kansas State (37) over South Dakota.
COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK
Matt Canada (38), Maryland. The interim coach of the Terrapins took over in a dark time, with head coach D.J. Durkin suspended and the school investigating whether an allegedly abusive culture within the program contributed to the death of player Jordan McNair last spring during conditioning workouts.
The outcome of that investigation is wholly separate from what happened on the field Saturday, where Maryland used an inspired effort to upset Texas for the second straight season. Canada found creative ways to use freshman wide receiver Jeshaun Jones, who scored the first three times he touched the ball as a collegian: on a 28-yard run, a 65-yard reception and throwing a 20-yard pass.
Durkin may or may not be back. But in the meantime, Canada has done strong work keeping the Maryland team together.
COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK
Tom Herman (39), Texas. The flipside of a stirring upset win is a dismal upset loss, which is where Herman finds himself for the second straight year. Herman was highly sought and richly rewarded after doing great work at Houston, but he’s yet to do anything to make Longhorns fans believe he will get the program back to elite status.
Herman made a nice attempt at a literary analogy for the loss this week, saying that his team wanted to win so much that it was like Lennie in “Of Mice and Men.” In the novel, Lennie killed a puppy and a mouse and woman out of a misplaced zeal to love all three. Problem was, Herman said Lennie “killed the rabbit.” Just one more execution error for Herman to clean up going forward.
When thirsty in the beer-rich state of Colorado, The Dash recommends a ride into the Rocky Mountains to hit Westbound and Down Brewery (40) in Idaho Springs. It’s a cool property on the charming downtown drag, and the beer is excellent. Try a Solera Saison or any of the multiple IPAs and thank The Dash later.
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