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Weekend wrap-up: Backup QBs keep teams in contention
By Terry Bowden
Special to
Bowden's Weekly Chat Show

Every Saturday throughout the season, ABC studio analyst Terry Bowden will weigh in his assessment of the day's games, the highlights, the lowlights and the surprises.

Three Game Balls:
  • Dennis Erickson: I keep talking about Oregon State, but it is because the Beavers keep finding ways to surprise me. Saturday night's comeback victory over UCLA was a beauty. Last year, Erickson led the Beavers to their first winning record since 1970, and now they find themselves in the running for the Roses. If Oregon State can win the rest of its conference games -- and of course, the last one being against the Oregon Ducks -- then the unbelievable just might happen.

    Josh Booty
    LSU quarterback Josh Booty celebrates the Tigers' 45-38 overtime victory over Mississippi State.
  • Josh Booty: No quarterback in the country has gone through a more difficult season than Booty. Not only has the former major league baseball player been through an inconsistent season with a brand new offensive coordinator, but this homegrown product had the dubious distinction of having checked off and thrown a last-minute interception in a loss to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. But with the general consensus down in the Bayou being that Rohan Davey is the man, Booty came in and threw a perfect game against Mississippi State. LSU should find itself in a bowl game at season's end.

  • Army: I've got this soft spot in my heart for teams that finally break long losing streaks. Being the patriotic guy that I am, I was afraid Army and Navy would both enter their Dec. 2 game without a victory, but the Black Knights came through to end the losing streak at 10 with a 21-17 victory over Tulane.

    Surprises of the day:
  • Willie Simmons: Here's a future star that you have never heard of. Just when we were beginning to think that Woody Dantzler was the horse that Clemson had to ride to a national championship, along comes this thoroughbred of a redshirt freshman. Simmons replaced an injured Dantzler and led Clemson to a come-from-behind 38-24 victory over North Carolina. What makes this even more amazing is that Clemson was down 17-0 when Willie entered the game, and he proceeded to throw four touchdown passes, which tied a school record.

    An interesting note is that in the second half, when coach Tommy Bowden could have gone back to Dantzler, he chose to stay with the young freshman.

  • Cory Phillips: Sticking with backup quarterbacks, what about Phillips? With Georgia giving Quincy Carter time to heal for next week's Florida game, the unknown walk-on proceeded to throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns to lead Georgia over a spunky Kentucky Wildcat team that wouldn't give up. Something tells me that Quincy's shoulder will start getting better real quick before this young man has a chance to settle into the position.

    On the flip side, Kentucky's giant quarterback Jared Lorenzen had quite a day himself. He did what Tim Couch never did at KU -- throw for 500+ yards.

  • Chris Lewis: Just so we don't forget any backup quarterbacks, how surprising was it when Chris Lewis came in with 55 seconds left against Southern Cal to throw a 20-yard touchdown pass on the last play to win the game? With his previous victory this year over Texas, Lewis ought to start lobbying for more playing time.

    Helped themselves:
    Matt Lovecchio
    Freshman Matt LoVecchio is 3-0 since taking over the starting job for Notre Dame.
  • Notre Dame: With the Fighting Irish's win over West Virginia in Morgantown, Notre Dame looks like it could win out and finish 9-2. A big reason for this is its newfound offense, which has scored 45 and 42 points, respectively, in the last two games. All this from an offense that was ranked 106th just three weeks ago. The win enabled Notre Dame to break a two-year drought on the road.

  • Nebraska: Although Nebraska has been ranked No.1 for most of the season, its inconsistent defense has made its status suspect. Especially concerning was the soft play of the Cornhusker defense. However, on Saturday, Nebraska shut out Baylor 59-0, one week after giving up only three points against Texas Tech. More importantly, the Blackshirts have shown better pass defense, which will be the key factor in next week's huge game against the Oklahoma Sooners.

  • Purdue: Although there are still three teams tied atop the Big Ten, Purdue is my choice to make it to the Rose Bowl. For the second week in a row, the Boilermakers have found a way to win one at the end. This week, it was an overtime victory over Wisconsin. It's interesting that Purdue's only two losses came because of miscues in its kicking game. Starting with last week's game-winning field goal against Michigan and this week's blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, Purdue's kicking game has made up for its early deficiencies.

    And remember: The more Purdue wins, the better the chance that Drew Brees has wining other Heisman.

    Hurt themselves:
  • Michael Vick: Speaking of Heisman Trophy candidates, I still say Vick should not win the Heisman just because he is the best athlete in college football -- which he obviously is. The award should go to the player who plays the best. For the second week in a row, Vick had an average day on the field. On Saturday, he was sacked eight times and had just 84 yards of total offense. If not for his 55-yard touchdown run after the game had already been decided, his numbers would have been more dismal. All I'm saying is that I am a big Michael Vick fan, but he needs to win the Heisman with more than just a 10-second highlight clip from each game.

  • Mississippi State: What happened to my Dogs? I've been praising this Mississippi State defense all year, and I thought nobody -- and I mean, nobody -- could run the football against this team. With a defense that averaged giving up 25 yards a game going into Baton Rouge, the LSU Tigers plowed for 220 yards in an overtime victory in this critical SEC West game. A winning season and a bowl game are in store for the Bulldogs, but not much more this year.

  • Alabama: At 3-4, there is very little chance to brighten the season for the Crimson Tide faithful. High hopes for a championship season have turned into nightmares, and not even a season-ending victory over cross-state rival Auburn in Tuscaloosa will make this season any easier to swallow.

    Terry Bowden is ABC's college football studio analyst and hosts a weekly audio chat on on Thursdays at 5 p.m. ET. This week, he will be joined by former Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer.

    Heisman Watch: Brees looking Rosey

     Purdue's Ashante Woodyard takes a blocked field goal 27 yards for the winning touchdown in OT.
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     Purdue's Drew Brees throws 30 yards to A.T. Simpson for the touchdown.
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     Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick's 55-yard touchdown dashes Syracuse's hopes for an upset.
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     Clemson's Rod Gardner hauls in the pass from freshman QB Willie Simmons.
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     Jerel Myers keeps his feet inbounds and catches Josh Booty's 7-yard strike for LSU.
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     LSU's Labrandon Toefield appears to fumble before he gets in the end zone, but is awarded the touchdown.
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