Ten Things - Week Six
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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A little late in the week, I know, to be looking back to last weekend. Guess it’s only fitting that week has been so busy. Many other teams have been feverishly busy trying to figure out how their season to date unraveled right before their eyes (we’re looking at you, Texas and Florida). And while a few teams are hitting panic buttons, the majority of the nation’s top teams coasted to easy wins and have their eyes fixed firmly on future games. In any event, here’s the last chance to reflect on the week that was…
1. A Tale of Two Stoops – The soon-to-be legendary group of brothers took a slight hit over the weekend as Arizona coach Mike Stoops lost to a winless Oregon State team. In the last ten games against FBS competition, the Wildcats lost all ten. Sure six of them were to teams ranked 13th or higher, and the ones that weren’t were settled by a touchdown or less (until last week, that is). The fact is, the Wildcats have not been able to win games, period. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the country, Nick Foles, in arguably THE quarterback conference, yet somehow sit at a baffling 1-5. Meanwhile, brother Bob over in Norman just put the smackdown of all smackdowns on rival Texas, hopefully halting the steady drop the Sooners have seen in the polls. Sure, his starting quarterback started the 4th quarter with a 38-point lead, came out throwing eight passes, and went for it on 4th down just outside of Texas’ red zone, but you can’t argue with the logic when his team has done nothing but win and yet finds itself two spots lower in the polls than when the season started. I’d hate to be Kansas this week.
2. Ho-Hum Saturday – I thought the cupcake games were over. I thought, foolishly it seems, that conference play would usher in the best games of the season. Boy was I wrong. The nine top 10 teams that saw action all won by more than 3 touchdowns. Whether at home, neutral sites, or on the road, ranked or unranked teams, it was an extended week of practice for most of them. It’s not a good sign for fans of the BCS to have this many teams still undefeated and playing this well this late in the year. Maybe that’s a good thing for the rest of us, though.
3. From the Top to the Bottom – Florida State started the season as a top 5 team and legitimate national title contender. After two games, all the Seminoles needed was a victory over Oklahoma at home to put them in the poll position. After a close loss (and injury to starter EJ Manuel), Florida State lost on the road at Clemson and then on the road at Wake Forrest. What seemed like a promising second season for Jimbo Fisher has now turned into a fight for their lives. Now 0-2 in their division, the Seminoles have what should be a few gimmes to get back to relevancy. A birth in the ACC Championship isn’t out of the question, but they need a lot of help from this point forward, and it starts with their own final scores.
4. A&M Stops the Bleeding – The Aggies went to Lubbock mired in a two game losing streak. After taking a double digit lead at the half (31-20), it seemed ripe for history to repeat itself for a third consecutive week. The Aggies prevailed, though, and held off the Red Raiders, needing two blocked field goals to escape with a 45-40 win. We’ll see just how far the Aggies have come, and how far they can go, as they take on upstart Baylor this week and travel to perennial spoiler Iowa State next week.
5. UTR Offensive Player – Tanner Price, QB Wake Forrest. Price threw for 233 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Seminoles. It may not be the prolific stats of some Big Twelve or PAC-12 quarterbacks, but the victory puts the Demon Deacons at 3-0 for the ACC for the first time ever, and gives them their 4th win over Florida State in their last 6 tries. Well done.
6. UTR Defensive Player – Whitney Mercilus, DE Illinois. Against Indiana last week, Mercilus had 5 total tackles, but 4 of them were for a loss and 3 of them were sacks. Also, he had 2 forced fumbles, one of those was returned for a touchdown. Something about the 5-4-3-2-1 stat line was just too cool to leave out.
7. Surprising Undefeated Teams – As we wind down the first half of the season, surprisingly 13 teams remain without a loss. Some of them we saw coming (Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Boise), but some are just downright shocking. Kansas State is proving Bill Snyder still has it, as the Wildcats are proving there is more to the Big Twelve than the Oklahoma schools. Illinois is showing that Ron Zook can resurrect a dead career more than just once. Georgia Tech is living proof that the option game can work at the highest levels, at least for now. No one is doubting any of these programs, but each of them have their easiest games behind them. Between now and the end of the season, each of them have at least one current top 10 team to eliminate to prove themselves.
8. SEC Corner – By far the biggest news in the SEC is it appears that the Stephen Garcia experiment is finally over at South Carolina. Conner Shaw looked good against Kentucky, but it was Kentucky. It seems the East is just as wide open as it was last year, with Florida still controlling their own destiny. In the West, the strongest division in the country boasts three top 10 teams. Bama and LSU are still chugging along for their instant classic next month, and Arkansas seems relegated to the spoiler role for LSU later this season.
9. You Knew It Was Bound To Happen – When the rule was put in place to make unsportsmanlike conduct penalties able to nullify a touchdown, it was only a matter of time before someone got hit with it. Who knew it would be a punter? Personally, I think it’s a great rule. When LSU’s Brad Wing was spreading his wings before he crossed the goal line, I couldn’t help but think back to that Super Bowl where Leon Lett was doing the same thing. In this case, the ball carrier wasn’t hawked down form behind by Don Beebe, but an equal amount of infamy will always be associated with the play. There’s a good chance that, like Lett, Wing will likely not have another chance to put six points on the board.
10. Must See TV – Here are the can’t miss games this weekend…
a. Michigan @ Michigan State – The battle for Paul Bunyan hasn’t meant this much to the Wolverines since before RichRod came to town. A win would be the first against a currently ranked team, while Sparty is looking to take the top spot in the M/N division of the Big Ten. Wolverines keep the dream alive for another week, 31-17
b. Oklahoma State @ Texas – After an embarrassing loss against Oklahoma last week, the Longhorns are looking for redemption. It’s doubtful they will find it against a Cowboys team that is scoring 20 more points a game and throwing for twice as many yards than Texas. This one could get ugly. Texas falls, 52-23
c. Arizona State @ Oregon – The Sun Devils’ only blemish was on the road against Illinois. They get a chance to travel to one of the toughest stadiums to win in as they face a Ducks team without LaMichael James. Oregon is hoping to keep up the pace without its leading rusher. ASU pulls the upset, 27-24
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