We’re only two weeks into the college football season and already, there’s been a fairly substantial shakeup in ESNY’s Metro College Football rankings.
Thank goodness for Army football.
Sunday’s professional display by the Metro area’s professional teams, the Giants and Jets, was bad enough, but our local amateur teams apparently brought a sense of grim foreshadowing with their Saturday performances, as two of our local teams dropped games against mid-major competition. The Black Knights, however, continue to impress, earning a 2-0 start
The Black Knights, however, continue to impress, earning a 2-0 start on Saturday, retaining the top spot in our ESNY Metro poll.
1. Army (2-0)
- Last Week: W 21-17 vs Buffalo on Saturday
- Top Performer: RB Darnell Woolfolk (21 carries, 91 yards, 2 TD’s)
- This Week: @ #8 Ohio State (Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on FOX)
Boldness defined the Black Knights’ Saturday, helping them earn their second consecutive 2-0 start. Trailing most of the game, which featured a 17-7 fourth quarter Buffalo lead, the Knights took the advantage for good on a one-yard scoring plunge on 4th and goal by Woolfolk, one of two scores on the day for the junior. After forcing Buffalo into a three-and-out, headlined by an 11-yard sack by Alex Aukerman, Army faced a 4th-and-5 on their own 42 with 2:28 to go. However, punter Nick Schrage sent West Point home happy with a fake punt, rushing 15 yards to put the game on ice.
The Black Knights now have their work cut out for them, facing an Ohio State team likely still furious over their loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. The Knights have not beaten a nationally ranked opponent since November 1972, when they defeated then-#15 Air Force. However, it’s hard not to feel the sense of optimism in West Point, creating a football-like fever not present on the Hudson River for a long, long time.
2. Connecticut (1-0)
- Last Week: vs #21 South Florida (canceled)
- Top Performer: N/A
- This Week: @ Virginia (Saturday at Noon on ESPN2)
The Huskies’ game with the Bulls was understandably canceled due to the Bulls’ troubles in traveling due to Hurricane Irma. We continue to extend our thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the recent storms in the south.
This Saturday, the Huskies wrap up a two-year home-and-home set with the Cavaliers of the ACC in Charlottesville. Last season in Storrs, the Huskies used a 10-0 fourth quarter to their advantage, as Bobby Puyol kicked a 43-yard game winner in the penultimate minute to earn the 13-10 win.
Fifth-year senior Bryant Shirreffs, who took over for junior college transfer David Pindell in the Huskies’ season-opening win over Holy Cross, is expected to remain the starter. Head coach Randy Edsall had announced Shirreffs earned the job back prior to the USF game’s cancellation.
Orange go to 1-1, host Central Michigan at the Dome next Saturday (3:30pm) pic.twitter.com/KlfCLliBdz
— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) September 9, 2017
3. Syracuse (1-1)
- Last Week: L 30-23 vs Middle Tennessee State on Saturday
- Top Performer: WR Steve Ishmael (14 receptions, 116 yards)
- This Week: vs. Central Michigan (Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ACC Network)
Seeking their first bowl trip since 2013, the Orange appeared to be sitting pretty with three straight Carrier Dome games against mid-major competition to open the year, but fell to Middle Tennessee State of Conference USA on Saturday.
It was a day defined by miscues for the Orange, who fell behind 2-0 when a high snap went into the back of their own end zone on a punt. That drive was one of three Orange possessions that went for negative yardage to open the game, though they managed to build a 16-9 third quarter lead, but a fumbled punt return allowed the Blue Raiders to tie the game three plays later. That commenced three consecutive MTSU touchdown drives, leading to the win. After the fumbled return, the Orange’s remaining drives in the game concluded in a missed field goal, a touchdown, an interception, and a turnover on downs.
With a date in Baton Rouge coming up, Saturday’s game against Central Michigan, no slouches at 2-0, might be a low-key must-win for Dino Babers.
— UB Athletics (@UBAthletics) September 13, 2017
4. Buffalo (0-2)
- Last Week: L 21-17 to Army on Saturday
- Top Performer: LB Jarrett Franklin (12 tackles)
- This Week: vs Colgate (Saturday at 6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com)
Apologies, as Buffalo didn’t appear in last week’s rankings due to a technical error.
It was heartbreak for the Bulls on Saturday, as Army’s fourth quarter prowess and trickery have doomed them to a 0-2 start for the second consecutive season, a tough blow after hanging tough with Minnesota on the road last week. A small spot of consolation has been Franklin, whose 13 solo tackles are tied for 7th in the nation, and his 23 tackles overall are tied for second in the MAC.
A showdown with FCS Colgate should probably provide some relief, but don’t pencil the W in just yet, Bulls fans. Last season, the Bulls opened a tough 2-10 campaign with a home loss to FCS Albany. In 2013, they needed five overtimes to squeak out a victory over FCS Stony Brook.
— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) September 11, 2017
5. Rutgers (0-2)
- Last Week: L 16-13 vs Eastern Michigan on Saturday
- Top Performer: WR Janarion Grant (8 receptions, 91 yards)
- This Week: vs Morgan State (Saturday at 3:30 PM on BTN)
Ah…no better way to kill all the goodwill, hope and momentum of hanging tough with Washington than losing to a MAC school that had NEVER beaten a Power 5 team—at home.
The Knights held tough with a College Football Playoff finalist in their opening game but struggled mightily against the Eagles, who ended a 56-year bowl drought last season. They picked up only 15 first downs and went just 4-for-17 on third down. A pair of fourth down conversions also sank the Knights, who saw a potential tying or winning drive stall out with an illegal hands to the face penalty at the EMU 25.
Could a quarterback controversy already be brewing in Piscataway? Transfer Kyle Bolin struggled once again (17-for-37, 198 yards, 2 INTs), which could lead to the return of redshirt sophomore Giovanni Rescigno, who appeared in seven games last season, or even lead to the debut of Johnathan Lewis, a true freshman who threw 21 touchdowns last season at St. Peter’s Prep (NJ). A home tilt against FCS Morgan State could help the Knights desperately figure some things out before opening their Big Ten slate against Nebraska in two weeks.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490