College Football: Baylor @ Connecticut Preview

September 19th, 2008

Last night's game was thriller, with the homestanding Buffaloes pulling out the win 17-14 in overtime thanks to a Aric Goodman 25-yard field goal. Where did things go wrong for the Mountaineers? You can start with falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, but the end of regulation had a lot more to do with their demise. Clock management? Virtually nonexistent on that final drive, with a receiver failing to get out of bounds when short of the first down marker...and the Mountaineers holding on to both of their remaining timeouts. Left with a 3rd and 1, WVU once again came up short on third and short, leaving them with no other option than to toss up a hail mary at the end of regulation.

So who's to blame for this? All involved parties can share some of the responsibility, but the key now is to move on and realize that their gola of a BCS berth (by way of the Big East title) is still on the table. But they've got to get more out of their passing game. Just forty-three yards for the game, and despite their success on the ground (311 yards) you don't make things too difficult on defenses in short yardage situations when they know what's coming.

As for Colorado, this was a big win for their young program. Fan enthusiasm was at a level many haven't seen in Boulder for some time, and a few of the youngsters put on a show in front of a national audience. WR Josh Smith didn't do a whole lot in the return game, but he had four catches (including a touchdown) on the opening drive. Cody Hawkins had two turnovers (one interception and one fumble), but other than those two errors he looked good in leading the Colorado offense.

Lastly, how about freshman RB Rodney Stewart? An afterthought on the national level when compared to teammate Darrell Scott, Stewart has taken hold of the starting job and showed why with 166 yards on twehty-eight carries. I don't know if they can knock off Missouri and/or Kansas, but I do know that the Big 12 North won't be a formality leading to the Border War on November 29th.  

Baylor @ Connecticut (8PM EST on ESPN2)

The third and final meeting of the weekend between members of the Big East and Big 12 takes place in East Hartford, where the Huskies will be looking to make it back-to-back 4-0 starts. The offensive star to this point has been "Every Down" Donald Brown, who currently leads the Big East in rushing (188.7 yards per game). The gap between Brown and second on the list (Pitt's LeSean McCoy) is 106.7 yards per game, a good indicator of just how good Brown has been. Andre Dixon (ankle) will try to go after missing their 45-10 win over Virginia last weekend, but if not then freshman Jordan Todman is more than capable of spelling Brown.

The question mark for the Huskies is the passing game, with Tyler Lorenzen following up two subpar performances with a solid showing against the Cavaliers. And we'll also find out whether or not the defense has learned its lesson regarding mobile quarterbacks. They've had trouble with West Virginia's Pat White the past few years (who hasn't?), and freshman Robert Griffin III should be good preparation for their meetings with WVU and South Florida (Matt Grothe) later in the season.

Griffin (reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week), who replaced Miami transfer Kirby Freeman in the season opener and hasn't looked back since, possesses sprinters speed. But he'd rather stay in the pocket and find open receivers, and when he does scramble his eyes remain focused on the action down the field. I've got a feeling he's going to be an absolute star in the Big 12 down the road. But he will have some help, most notably from RB Jay Finley (119 yards against Washington State) and wide receivers Thomas White and David Gettis.

As for a winner, I like Connecticut's defense to get it done tonight. But if they allow Griffin to get loose too many times, look out.

Ohio State RB Chris Wells is out this weekend.

The toe injury that kept Wells out of the Buckeyes' loss at USC will sideline him for their game against Troy this weekend. Look for the same platoon at running back, along with more playing time for QB Terrelle Pryor. Head coach Jin Tressel announced earlier in the week that Pryor and Todd Boeckman would get an even number of plays on Saturday.

Virginia had dismissed QB Peter Lalich from the team.

Lalich was dismissed because of an admission in court that he's violated the terms of his probation stemming from an underage drinking charge this summer. Sophomore Marc Verica got the start at Connecticut last weekend, but was replaced in the second half by Scott Deke. They have this weekend off before travelling to Duke.