Ten Things - Week Five
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October is upon us. The appetizers have been done away with. Now, it’s time for the main course, and the first weekend of the new month did not disappoint. Four games involved Top 20 teams and all four involved statement wins, three by domination and one by an encore performance of the worst second half collapse of the season. Buckle up, fans. There are four more weekends left and it’s only just begun. Here is the best of the week that was in the latest Ten Things…
1. Bogged Down in the Swamp – Alabama put on a clinic in defense Saturday night in Gainesville (after the first play of course). The Tide ceded a 65-yard touchdown on the games opening play, then held the Gators to just 157 total yards the other 59 ½ minutes. Perhaps, the biggest loss, though, wasn’t on the scoreboard. Just before halftime, Gator QB John Brantley was carted off the field with what is now being described as a lower leg injury. Going into the weekend, Florida looked to be in control of the East division, but after that loss and a trip to Baton Rouge this weekend, they may need to run the table in their division and get some help to make it to Atlanta.
2. Wisconsin Flexes its Muscles – Nebraska’s introduction into the Big Ten wasn’t pretty. Playing what appears to be this year’s Auburn Tigers (one hit wonder quarterback, bruising running game, and stifling defense), the Badgers just put a good old-fashioned whooping on the Cornhuskers. Quarterback and Heisman hopeful Russell Wilson was deadly accurate, going 14 of 20 for 220 yards, 2 touchdowns and no picks. Looks like the reigning Big Ten champs aren’t ready to relinquish the crown just yet.
3. Dramatic Comebacks – All day long Saturday, teams were overcoming double digit deficits. Some triumphed some fell. Among them was Arkansas’s comeback against Texas A&M – the Aggies’ second heartbreaker in consecutive weeks – and Illinois came back, also from 18 down, to remain undefeated against Northwestern. Navy, however, was not so fortunate. After coming back from 18 behind Air Force, a boneheaded celebration penalty resulted in a blocked PAT and the Falcons celebrated a one-point victory. Also TCU, who stormed back with 23 fourth quarter points to take SMU to overtime, only to fall when a 4th and 2 pass fell to the turf.
4. Surprise Conference Contenders – The aforementioned Illinois find themselves 5-0 and in charge of their division (whatever dumb name it has), though the road does go through Wisconsin. In the PAC-12, both Washington and Arizona State find themselves 4-1, though 2-0 in conference play. Clemson and Georgia Tech also seem positioned to face each other for the ACC Crown, just like 2009. Though if they split meetings (they play on Oct 29), the ACC may send two teams to the BCS for the first time.
5. UTR Offensive Player – Marshall Lobbestael, QB Washington State. The Cougars are off to a surprising 3-1 start, and this past week, the senior QB threw for 376 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win over Colorado. This marks the first time the Cougars have held a winning record in conference since 2006.
6. UTR Defensive Player – Brady Amack, LB Air Force. The Falcons held off a fierce comeback by Navy in the first game to decide the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy, and that was in large part to the senior linebacker. He amassed 23 total tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and one sack. To put that in perspective, he had 82 tackles in all of 2010. Looks like an early pick for an All-Conference selection right there.
7. Clemson On A Roll? – Over the past decade or so, the Tigers have fallen flat when presented an opportunity to meet expectations, most recently going from a preseason Top-10 team in 2008 and being blown out opening weekend to falling in their first trip to the ACC Championship game in 2009, and a 6-7 season last year. This year, though, has the Tigers at 5-0 with three straight wins over ranked teams capped off by a 23-3 domination of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Look out for these guys come December.
8. Big Twelve Continues To Stand Tall – Sure, Texas A&M failed to hold a big lead for the second year in a row. But half the league is undefeated right now, with all five teams currently 1-0 in conference. And with the exception of Texas Tech, they all have statement wins. Oklahoma over Florida State, Texas getting revenge on Iowa State and UCLA (teams they lost to last year), Oklahoma State over Texas A&M, and Kansas State knocking off Miami on the road and Baylor this past week. Big games are on the docket as the season progresses.
9. SEC Corner – It was a good week for the SEC. Alabama leapt over Oklahoma to join LSU in the top two. Arkansas gained redemption by coming back against Texas A&M. Even Ole Miss managed to get a road win in the late game at Fresno State. Georgia is continuing their push to save coach Richt’s job in toppling Mississippi State. One thing I have noticed, though, is a phenomenon I like to refer to as the CBS jinx. While watching the Alabama-Florida game, a stat came across the bottom of the screen stating that Florida was the only team in the country to not allow a rushing touchdown. The very next play Trent Richardson crossed the goal line to tie the game. This isn’t the only time I’ve noticed – last season CBS flashed a stat that stated Alabama had never lost a game when leading by 24 points or more. That game, as many of you know, was the Iron Bowl in which Auburn came back and won. Let’s see if any other examples reveal themselves this season
10. Must See Games of the Weekend:
1.Oklahoma-Texas: This year’s edition of the Red River Rivalry (try saying that 5 times fast) matches undefeated teams for the first time since 2008. While Texas is trying to establish itself as “back”, Oklahoma will be itching to make a statement to voters who have dropped them from #1 to #3 when they’ve done nothing but win. Rivalries tend to be dog fights, but look for Bob Stoops to put the Longhorns in their place. Sooners take it, 34-16.
2. Florida @ LSU – With John Brantley sidelined for at least another week, this seems like another walk in the park for a Tiger team that has dominated foes all season long. Not so fast. Florida has a very talented defensive unit will harass Jordan Jefferson every time he takes a snap and a week of prepping backup Jeff Driskel while sprinkling in packages where Trey Burton takes snaps will confuse the Tiger defense to fuel the upset. Florida shocks the nation, 20-17
3. Auburn @ Arkansas – Both of these teams are coming off huge wins for their respective programs. The Tigers have found a defense, while the Razorbacks have found their way back into the Top 10, keeping their dreams of grandeur alive. While Auburn is riding high, let’s not forget that the Gamecocks they just beat were due for a self-destruction. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson proved to be resilient in the face of adversity, as well as prolific – he averages over 300 yards and two touchdowns a game. Also, there’s the revenge factor. Arkansas sends the Tigers home with an embarrassing loss, 41-17.
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