While beat writer MATT DANIELS spent more time in airport terminals than he
did at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln this weekend, here are three items he learned:
1. Look at Ferguson go
Scat back might not fit the description of Josh Ferguson anymore. He proved he is capable of handling more touches than he ever has had during an Illinois game against Nebraska. Whether it was running off tackle, in between the tackles or catching passes, Ferguson will make opposing Big Ten coaches sit up and pay particularly close attention to No. 6 in the weeks ahead. “He’s doing a great job,” Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. “Our offensive line is opening holes. Josh is taking advantage of catching the ball on the perimeter and making plays. I also thought he ran power really well and finding the holes.” Ferguson gives Nathan Scheelhaase a bonafide option as a safety valve who can also get open out of the slot receiver position. Just think if the versatile Ferguson was healthy his first two years in Champaign. “He ran the ball extremely well and was able to make plays out of the backfield and in the slot,” Scheelhaase said. “He’s a guy that will be a big part of our offense for the rest of the year.”
2. No diving
Bet Tennessee running back Pig Howard wished he would have gone out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Instead, he dove for the end zone, leaving the ball outstretched in the first overtime of a 31-31 game at Georgia. Folks in Knoxville are probably still groaning about what played out next. Howard lost control of the ball before he reached the end zone, resulting in a touchback, and Georgia won 34-31 off a field goal on the next possession. You can’t fault the effort of trying to score a touchdown by extending the ball past the goal line. It worked out well for Carlos Hyde and Ohio State on Saturday night. It has, and will continue to, produce its desired results for players across the country. But unless you have a firm grip on the football, don’t dive.
3. BCS picture
It sure looks like Alabama and Oregon are destined to meet in the final BCS national championship game in early January. The Ducks had no problem befuddling Colorado (who hasn’t recently) and the closest Georgia State came to scoring a touchdown against the Crimson Tide came during the team walkthrough. Stanford looked vulnerable against Washington out in Palo Alto, and Northwestern had Ohio State beat. Don’t discount Florida State, which looked like the Seminoles teams of old in plastering Maryland. Washington will get a shot at taking down Oregon this Saturday in a game that should produce plenty of points and plays, and back-to-back games against UCLA and Stanford could prove dicey for the Ducks. Alabama only has one game in its final seven against a ranked foe (LSU at home on Nov. 9), so as long as Nick Saban doesn’t start thinking about Texas, pencil in a trip to Pasadena for the Crimson Tide.