Ten Things from Week Six
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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Well, it took six whole weeks, but finally a little shakeup is upon us in the rankings. The unstoppable force that was Alabama met the immovable object that is South Carolina. Denard Robinson is human after all. Conference play is in full swing and the games truly could not get any better or any more important. From the bonehead who wins (Les Miles) to boneheads who win (Texas Tech). Non-AQ teams who moved up and those who moved down - all after winning. Here are Ten Things from week six...
1. A Long Way Home
The shortest distance between Columbia, SC and Tuscaloosa, AL is approximately 413 miles. For Alabama, they may as well have a detour through Siberia. Saturday showed just how hard it is for a team to go back-to-back seasons undefeated. It also shows how difficult it is to stay focused week to week in the college football season with a target on your back. Alabama didn't just get beat - they got owned. As god as McElroy was, Garcia was better. As good as Richardson and Ingram have been, Lattimore alone was better than the sum of those parts. The young defense was exposed. The special teams were special ed. Whatever Saban and Co. did, Spurrier and friends had an answer. The good news, though, is twofold. South Carolina showed it may finally be taking that step to represent the East in Atlanta, while for the first time all season Alabama will be playing without the pressure of winning because it has to. It can win because it wants to. At least, it will if it wants to take that long trip to Glendale...
2. New Number 1
With Alabama out of the mix, there are a wealth of candidates to fill the void. Ohio State has been riding shotgun thus far, and has slipped into the driver's seat. Oregon has also won quite convincingly, though may be done in by injuries. Boise State and TCU have done nothing but win and the Big 12 has a couple dark horse candidates in Nebraska and Oklahoma. As some have pointed out, Week 6 in 2007 marked the beginning of utter chaos for the BCS. If that happens again, could we be looking at a Boise/TCU bowl rematch in Glendale? Could an undefeated SEC team in Auburn or (God forbid) LSU be blackballed from the title game because the Buckeyes and Ducks forget to lose? So far, just the second different team is ranked number one, but as the season progresses, look for some new faces to take that spot.
3. Stanford's Big Recovery
There was no hangover in Palo Alto Saturday. A week after getting run out of Autzen Stadium after leading by 18, Stanford did what they had to do to keep from losing back to back conference games, and keeping their Rose Bowl hopes alive. Andrew Luck completed his last 12 pass attempts and had three touchdowns during that streak. On the final drive, he went 3-for-3 with all three resulting in first downs and helped get the Cardinal in position for the game-winning field goal. Of course, along with a big win comes a disappointing loss. USC lost back-to-back games for the first time since a four game losing streak - in Pete Carroll's first year as head coach in 2001. It also marks the first time the Trojans have lost to Washington and Stanford in so long I couldn't find the last time it happened. Needless to say, the Trojans are going through a transition.
4. The Cardiac Kid Strikes Again
Another week, and another reason to wonder what is wrong with the coach on the sideline across from Les Miles. For the second week in a row (and the umpteenth time in his tenure at LSU), he has found a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. For many coaches at any number of schools, they would be happy to have a coach with a winning percentage around .800 and a national title. Not LSU, though. Miles keeps the home fans guessing just as much as opposing coaches. In any given week he'll win, but on a weird fluke play. Last week it was goading Tennessee into subbing too many people on the field and getting a game-winning touchdown. This week, his Tigers squandered a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, and found themselves trailing by three with just under 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Just 60 seconds later, the Tigers ran three straight running plays and found themselves at 4th-and-short, called their final timeout, and only 31 seconds left. After calling a fake field goal - and making it, of course - the Tigers drive down and put a game winning touchdown on the board just in time to save their coach...again. If there's ever been a luckier coach, let me know. I've never seen him.
5. BCS Busters Keep Winning...But Will It Be Enough?
Before the season began, Boise State was the third ranked team in the country. They had marquee games against Virginia Tech and Oregon State in the first month, giving them a perfect opportunity to stake their claim to national prominence should they finsh September undefeated. They might sneak in the top two without Bama or Ohio State losing with an opening schedule like that. Well, September has ended, Boise State remains undefeated and Alabama lost. The Broncos still sit at third in the polls and instead of hoping over the Buckeyes, they were jumped by Oregon. While they have closed the gap considerably - preseason polls showed a 64-point gap between them and second place with one first place vote, while the current AP Poll has them with a 32-point deficit and eight first place votes - they still have a long way to go. TCU, whom some regard as a favorite to jump the Broncos should they go undefeated as well, has shortened the gap between the two teams, from 176 points preseason to just 91 points now. Both have an outside shot, but if either Nebraska or Oklahoma win out they are sure to jump ahead. An SEC team from the current Top 10 huddle (teams 7-10 and 12 are Auburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, and Arkansas, respectively) would also gain enough momentum to jump to Glendale should they win out. Even Utah won and got passed up by LSU and South Carolina. Now that the BCS computers are getting involved, the strength of schedule is bound to only hurt the annual party crashers. Right or not, this may be as close as they get.
6. Bonehead of the Week
I know this isn't a weekly thing, but after seeing Texas Tech allow their second failed onside kick to be returned for a touchdown. This week, there was no trying to make a play. The ball didn't go the required ten yards, so three Raiders stood around the ball waiting for it to be downed. Baylor's Terrance Ganaway ran to the ball, scooped it up, and outran all three defenders on his way to a 38 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. As bad as it is to see a team quit on an offensive touchdown, it's even worse to see the last three players who could make a tackle essentially play dead while the other team embarrasses them like that. Texas Tech got the last laugh, though, coming back to win a shootout 45-38.
7. Casualty of a Game We Love
For those who saw the Oregon Ducks finish off the Washington St. Cougars, you were an unwilling witness to one of the worst injuries of the season. While retuning a kickoff towards the end of the first quarter, Wazzu's Anthony Carpenter came flying through a block and collided with Barner, first glancing his shoulder and landing square on his helmet. It's not that this type of hit could be avoided. It wasn't intentional, and no amount of protection could change what happened. And the result was not pretty. Barner lay on the ground for over ten minutes before finally siting up and walking with help to the ambulance. Thankfully, he was released from the hospital Sunday, but it's unclear whether he'll practice much. The Ducks are off this week before hosting UCLA.
8. Game of the Week Review
Quite possibly the closest I'll ever get to calling a game in this column. I called MSU scoring 34 and winning by ten. Well, I got the score right, but the margin of victory was an extra touchdown and Denard Robinson got 74 yards less than I predicted. Not bad if I do say so, myself. Anyways, in the same weekend the invincible team was beaten, this year's Superman found his kryptonite (who knew it would be a team whose colors included green?). Robinson still topped 300 yards on the day, but 3 interceptions compared to only two touchdowns is not a recipe for victory. It didn't help that the Wolverine defense allowed over 500 yards. The Spartans had three different rushers with a touchdown, and Kirk Cousins put up 284 yards in the air as they thoroughly trounced their in-state rival for the third straight year. Michigan State has a favorable road most of the way, where their toughest tests will likely be Iowa and...Northwestern. Michigan, meanwhile, must rebound with Iowa and will finish the season with Wisconsin and Ohio State - three teams who could greatly exploit a lack of defense.
9. Game of the Week Pt 1
Arkansas at Auburn - This will be a statement win for one, and a disheartening loss for the other. Last year, it was the Razorbacks that sent the Tiger's season spiraling downward and both are hoping that this win will send their program shooting towards the stars. The Hogs have Ryan Mallet, the prototypical NFL-type quarterback who would love nothing more than to have four quarters like his first two against Alabama. The Tigers' Cam Newton, meanwhile, will be running wild and making impossible play after play to keep his team alive. Ultimately, the home crowd and the X-factor that is Newton are going to take this one. It'll have its fair share of fireworks, but ultimately Auburn will make the plays in the second half, and will score late to cap off yet another last possession win.
10. Game of the Week Pt 2
Texas at Nebraska - The game that's been circled for almost a whole year. Ever since last year when a last second brain freeze almost cost Texas a chance to lose the national title game. This time, the Longhorns travel to Lincoln in what will be the most anticipated game since Tommy Frazier donned the Scarlet and Cream. Texas has certainly fallen off a bit - losing to UCLA and Oklahoma in successive weeks. Nebraska, meanwhile, has found an offense that can be just as dominating as its defense. Taylor Martinez currently leads the team in passing, rushing, and total touchdowns. Not too shabby for a freshman. Maybe I look too much into the UCLA domination. Maybe I look too much into Nebraska's scrimmage with Kansas State this past week. I like the Huskers going away, though. The Longhorns won't stop Martinez, and the Huskers D will dominate. Huskers give it to the Horns one last time before heading off to the Big Ten, 45-13
Extra Point - This weekend, I will be on vacation with the family in Chattanooga, thus TopFan will be filling in for Ten Things. I'll have a recap from the two Games of the week on the boards for you guys, though. And if anyone knows a good spot to grab a bite near the aquarium, I'm open to suggestions. Thanks guys!
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