With their come-from-behind double overtime win at Bowling Green, the Buffalo Bulls have clinched the MAC East division and with it, the school's first ever bowl game. The Bulls did receive an invitation to the 1958 Tangerine Bowl, but turned down the invite because two black players would not be allowed to play. Since returning to IA football in 1999, Buffalo has won 24 games. 14 of those wins have come in the past 3 seasons under head coach Turner Gill. If you're bad at math, that means in the other 7 seasons, the Bulls won only 10 games. Even more impressive is the fact that the Bulls are 11-12 in MAC play under Gill, including 11-6 in their past 17 league games. Mr. Gill may be in line for a big time job at season's end.
Congrats to Joe Tiller who went out in style with a 62-10 win over in-state rival Purdue. While many Purdue fans and some in the administration were fed up with Tiller, they should build the man a statue in West Lafayette. Tiller's record in 12 seasons at Purdue is 87-62 (a winning percentage of .584) and 53-43 in Big 10 play (.552). In the 12 seasons prior to Tiller's arrival, the Boilers were 40-88-4 (.318) and 26-67-3 in Big 10 play (.286). The Boilers have posted 10 .500 or better seasons under Tiller compared to zero in the previous 12. They posted a winning Big 10 record 5 times in 12 seasons and were even in Big 10 play another 4 times. In the 12 seasons prior to Tiller's arrival, the Boilers never won more than 3 games in conference play.
My pick for coach of the year? Greg Schiano. On the evening of Octover 11th, the Scarlet Knights were 1-5 (0-2) in the Big East with 4 games remaining on the schedule against likely bowl teams. The Knights' lone win had come against Morgan State, they had lost to Navy, and had been blown off their home field by both Fresno State and North Carolina. Flash forward 6 weeks, and the Knights have won 5 straight and have 11 days off before facing a slumping Louisville at home. Schiano kept his team together and has them pointed toward their 4th straight bowl bid.
Saturday was another big day for the Rice Owls. The Owls rolled up 461 yards on Marshall and held the Thundering Herd to 10 points in a 35-10 win. The previous best defensive effort by the Owls had been holding Tulane to 17 points. With at least 2 games left (more on that in a moment), Rice has a chance to win 9 games for the first time since 1953 when they defeated Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Rice closed the regular season Saturday at home against Houston (where the Owls are undefeated). If the Owls can upset the Cougars in what should be an offensive showcase, and the Thundering Herd can knock off Tulsa, the Owls will win Conference USA West and play in the title game.
Want a sleeper Heisman candidate for next season? How about Iowa running back Shonn Greene. Greene rushed for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Hawkeyes 55-0 whitewashing of Minnesota. Greene rushed for at least 100 yards in every game and finishes the regular season with 1729 yards rushing on 278 carries (6.22 yards per rush) and 17 touchdowns.
Middle Tennessee running back Phillip Tanner had a sensational game on Saturday against North Texas. Coming into the game, Tanner had gained 477 yards on the ground on 151 carries (3.16 average per rush) with 8 touchdowns. Tanner carried the ball 14 times against the Mean Green, gained 159 yards, and scored 5 touchdowns. In addition, Tanner returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. Tanner had returned 7 kicks this season for 112 yards (16 yards per return). He ran back 3 kicks on Saturday and gained 139 yards (46.3 yards per return).
Another mid-major player who had a big day was Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele. DiMichele who came in averaging 220 yards per game with 12 touchdown passes, threw for 370 yards and 6 touchdown passes in the Owls 55-52 win over Eastern Michigan.
Your day going poorly? At least you're not Cal-Poly kicker Andrew Gardner. Gardner missed 3 extra points, including one in OT, in the Mustangs 36-35 loss to Wisconsin. The Mustangs ran for 276 yards against the Badgers and held possession for 39:59.
And finally, this is a college football blog, but as anyone who knows me will atest, I am also a huge college hoops fan, especially of mid-major schools. That's why I am naming the Mercer Bears the official hoops team of Statistically Speaking. Here's the wikipedia link to Mercer University. The Bears own road wins over SEC schools Alabama and Auburn and gave Georgia Tech all they could handle in an OT loss yesterday. The Bears will have numerous chances to make themselves known as they must face Dayton, Oklahoma State, UCLA, and Iowa State on the road before they begin play in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Mercer has not posted a winning record since 2005. They hired a new coach in the offseason, Bob Hoffman, who was very successful in previous stops as women's basketball coach at Southern Nazarene (NAIA championship), college coach at Houston Baptist (2 NAIA championship game berths), college coach at Texas Pan American (21 wins in 2002), and a professional coach in the NBADL and ABA. The Bears will likely contend with Belmont for the Atlantic Sun title. Remeber Belmont? They were last seen giving Duke all they could handle as a 15 seed.