Who’s Not? Week 13: Hackenberg, Ole Miss, VT

    Is it December yet? Syracuse It’s a good thing that Wake Forest was on the 2014 schedule, or else the Orange might still be looking for its first win

    November 24, 2014

    Is it December yet? Syracuse 
    It’s a good thing that Wake Forest was on the 2014 schedule, or else the Orange might still be looking for its first win since Week 2. Since opening the season with two wins, Syracuse has lost eight of their last nine, never adjusting to a leg injury suffered by QB Terrel Hunt back on Oct. 3. The offense has had no pulse ever since, which means Hunt’s health and maturation will be closely tied to head coach Scott Shafer’s future in 2015. 

    Being Voted Off College Football Island: Notre Dame PK Kyle Brindza 
    The quickly fading Irish have dropped three consecutive games. Brindza, who has only hit 13-of-22 field goals this season, has been a central figure in the last two defeats. A week ago in the loss to Northwestern, he missed two field goals, including a crucial overtime try, and an extra point that was taken back the other way. And this Saturday, the usually-reliable senior missed wide to the right on a 32-yard attempt that would have sent the Louisville game to overtime. 

    Heisman Nopeful: Miami RB Duke Johnson
    Elite back. But when the team’s early deficit limits carries, voters will still be unforgiving, especially at this advanced stage of the process. The mercurial Johnson only had 15 touches on the ground for 88 yards, as the Canes tried to rally out of a hole in the second half. TevIt was his lowest output of the year, a forgettable game at a time when he needed to be unforgettable in order to earn an invite to New York City. 

    Start evacuating the bandwagon of … Duke 
    Just two weeks ago, the Blue Devils had the ACC Coastal Division in a headlock … and then allowed it to slip away with back-to-back home losses to Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Duke’s November collapse provided a gift to Georgia Tech, which will now face Florida State in Charlotte on Dec. 6 for the league championship. The Devils were mauled by the Heels and QB Marquise Williams Thursday night, allowing a season-high 591 yards.

    Oklahoma State 
    Not since 2005, Mike Gundy’s first season as the head coach, have the Cowboys failed to qualify for the postseason. But if Oklahoma State is to continue its streak of bowl games, it’ll need to upset Oklahoma in Bedlam in two weeks. After skating through the softest portion of the schedule, the undermanned Pokes have been repeatedly exposed in five consecutive blowout losses, including Saturday night in Waco. 

    The Utes seemingly had Arizona exactly where it wanted on Saturday—in Salt Lake City on a wet and cold day that would throw a wrench into Rich Rodriguez’s desire to move up-tempo. It made no difference, as Utah collapsed like a folding chair, bowing meekly to 218 rushing yards and three touchdowns from rookie RB Nick Wilson. The Utes have now lost three of their last four to squander much of the goodwill they’d earned from a surprising 6-1 start. 

    Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg 
    Long-term, Hackenberg will be fine. The sophomore has too much talent to not fulfill his vast potential. But he better have a short memory, because this season has been a horror show. The former blue-chipper has regressed, in part due to a lack of support from the line and the receivers. Still Hackenberg bears much of the responsibility for throwing just eight touchdowns and 14 picks, capped by another feeble performance in Saturday’s loss to Illinois. 

    You emit a foul and unpleasant odor: Ole Miss 
    Didn’t you used to be a bona fide playoff contender? The Rebels have regressed into a shell of the team that upset Alabama on Oct. 4, losing three times since that momentous victory in Oxford. Falling by three and four points, respectively, to LSU and Auburn were acceptable. Getting blanked on Saturday, 30-0, by Arkansas, however, is an indication that the air has come out of the Ole Miss balloon. 

    Needing a vote of confidence: Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia 
    Holgorsen figures to be back for a fifth year in 2015. But what happens if the Mountaineers’ three-game losing streak reaches four games next week in Ames? It’s still conceivable that this West Virginia team, which was brimming with confidence after beating Baylor and Oklahoma State, could finish below .500 in 2014. And at a minimum, slipping to 2-9 in November since joining the Big 12 in 2012 will impact negotiations when a contract extension surfaces. 

    Nebraska When it Matters 
    The Huskers have had three show-me games in 2014, and lost all of them. Nebraska, whose flirtation with mediocrity continues in earnest, was outclassed by Michigan State and Ohio State, and then blew a two-touchdown lead to Minnesota on Saturday. The Huskers, whose league championship dry spell shows no end in sight, largely feasted on second-rate competition this season. 

    Team of the Weak: Virginia Tech 
    If losing in double-overtime to Wake Forest doesn’t signal a need for major changes in Blacksburg, absolutely nothing will. The Hokies fell below .500 by losing to the ACC’s doormat, a Deacon team that began the weekend on a six-game losing streak. As if the situation couldn’t possibly get worse on Saturday in Winston-Salem, Tech scored just three points on a field goal in overtime. Someone has to tear this program down if it’s going to build back up again. 

    LaDainian Tomlinson’s Single-Game Rushing Record 
    Tomlinson’s 406-yard versus UTEP stood as the single-game standard at this level for 15 years. And then, like the four-minute mile, once someone broke it, the mark didn’t seem so unattainable after all. The record has now been eclipsed twice in just the last seven days. A week ago, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon gashed Nebraska for 408 yards, only to be one-upped this past weekend after Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine erupted for 427 yards on the ground. 


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