Ten Things - Week Eight
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After a week off, Ten Things just couldn’t resist to get the early jump this week. For the first half of the season, it seemed like we were headed towards BCS bedlam with the most undefeated teams at season’s end. With the top teams sleepwalking through first early round cupcakes and even conference games, this weekend put an end to all that. Two monumental upsets shook the foundation of the game when two of the most talented and complete teams (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) lost. The SEC showdown in two weeks will continue to loom over the realm of college football, but let’s bask in the glory of all in the week that was…
1. Two Goliaths Fall – It wasn’t exactly Week 5 of 2007, when half of the top ten lost, but Saturday’s matchups in Norman, OK and East Lansing, MI will leave a lasting impression on the season. Wisconsin, considered by many (including myself) to be one of the most complete teams in the country, just couldn’t keep up with Kirk Cousins and the Michigan State Spartans, falling in the final seconds to a Hail Mary that needed instant replay to overturn. Oklahoma, meanwhile, did the unthinkable. Playing at home with a national best 39-game home winning streak, the Sooners looked completely lost, falling behind 31-7 to the unranked Texas Tech Red Raiders. Even the talent of Landry Jones and Co. weren’t enough to overcome that deficit. Guess Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville got himself a bit of revenge on the Sooners for blocking his Auburn team out of the title game in 2004.
2. More Upsets Looming – Speaking of 2007, this week sets up a week that very well could mirror that infamous Week 5. Clemson, Stanford, Arkansas and Michigan State are three top teams playing on the road in potential trap games. Also, Oklahoma State plays host to a dangerous Baylor team, Oregon could get caught off guard by a better-than-their-record-indicates Washington State, and Kansas State has the joy of hosting recently defeated Oklahoma. Get ready.
3. Diamond in the Rough – For those who saw the UCLA-Arizona game, you know it wasn’t pretty. A streaker ran out on the field just before halftime, and a brawl erupted that resulted in ten player suspensions. We here at Ten Things, though, prefer not to focus on the negatives, which is why it should be noted that Thursday night was responsible for a remarkable resurgence in the face of adversity by the Wildcats. For a team that had a woeful running game, horrendous defense, and hadn’t beaten an FBS team in eleven tries, Arizona erased all of those doubts (for one night, at least). Less than a week after dismissing coach Mark Stoops, interim coach Tim Kish presided over the most dominating win the home crowd has seen since Washington came to town last year. Well done, coach. Keep up the good work and you may just get the job full time.
4. Pause For Some Love – There are many teams that don’t get the mention their fans would like to see. This week, my hometown UAB Blazers notched their first win of the season at home against the UCF Knights. Also, some love should be thrown out to the NC State. The Wolfpack went on the road to grab their first conference win (and first against FBS competition) this week at Virginia. They aren’t the best teams in the country, but this week, their fans can walk with their heads a little higher.
5. UTR Offensive Performance of the Week – Dominique Davis, QB East Carolina. With so much focus on other quarterbacks who may win the Heisman (Andrew Luck) or will set career records (Case Keenum), Davis sliced out his own piece of history. In the first half of the Pirates game against Navy, Davis completed an astounding 26 straight passes, breaking former Tennessee QB Tee Martin’s record of 23 straight. Combined with his ten completions to close out last week against Memphis, the new benchmark is 36 straight passes. Just wow.
6. UTR Defensive Performance of the Week – Texas Tech Defense. After allowing a touchdown to Oklahoma in 60 seconds of their first possession, the Red Raider D held firm and kept the Sooners off the scoreboard for more than two straight quarters and allowed the offensive side to rack up a 31-7 lead. Even though Oklahoma came back to nearly take the game back in the fourth quarter, that’s no small feat against that team on the road and, as Tuberville was quick to point out, not a single senior played on defense. That’s the best sign for Raider fans since Leach left town.
7. SEC Corner – Everyone knows by now that LSU and Alabama secured what will be the first regular season meeting of #1 and #2 in SEC history. What you may not know, though, is that Arkansas seems to be struggling. The Razorbacks, though a preseason pick to win the SEC West, fell behind to lowly Ole Miss by 17 and had to play catch-up for most of the game. Vanderbilt, with the win over Army, needs only two more victories (presumably against Kentucky and Tennessee…maybe Wake Forest) to go to just their second bowl game in 30-plus years. Auburn seems to be headed for a downturn, but let’s not forget – they were playing LSU in Baton Rouge. The fightin’ Chiziks will survive as long as they can figure out their own quarterback issues.
8. Paterno gets 408 – Joe Paterno is now tied with Eddie Robinson (Grambling State legend) for all time wins at the Division I level. Already securely ahead of FBS coaches (Bobby Bowden and Bear Bryant are #2 and #3, respectively and the closest active coach is Frank Beamer with 244), Paterno isn’t worried about John Gagliardi’s all-time mark for all of football (481 wins and counting). He wasn’t even worried about tying Robinson. Paterno, always focusing on now, is concerned with the Big Ten. He has the Nittany Lions unblemished in the conference and eyes set on a potential Rose Bowl. And for those keeping score, that’s three total landmarks Paterno has reached against Northwestern. Previously, he became a member of the 400 club last year, and when he broke Bear Bryant’s record of 323, it was also against the Wildcats.
9. Broncos Busted? – It’s unfortunate, but it looks as though Boise State may have had its season hopes of a birth in the title game end over the weekend – after a win, no less. While Air Force is certainly better than the competition the Broncos saw in the WAC, they aren’t world beaters. An eleven point win at home against a sub-.500 team doesn’t look good to voters, and Boise needs all the help it can get to keep from being passed by Clemson and Stanford.
10. Must See TV – As mentioned earlier, this weekend promises to have some juicy match-ups, and several teams should be on upset alert. Here are the games (one from each broadcast block) that are not to be missed.
Michigan State @ Nebraska – Sparty looks to continue its winning ways against a Cornhusker team that can be rendered vulnerable with a good defense. Michigan State has a great defense, so that shouldn’t be an issue, though a letdown is entirely possible after that emotional win at home. Still, if Russell Wilson can’t do it against the Spartans, can how can Taylor Martinez? Nebraska falls at home, 34-20.
Oklahoma @ Kansas State – The Sooners come off a disappointing loss, and their reward is travelling to Manhattan to take on a resurgent Wildcat team. In what could be the best match-up of the weekend, this game will determine if K State coach Bill Snyder has completely done the unthinkable and brought his team to the top ten, but it will also let us know who will be the top contender to take the conference crown away from Oklahoma State. Oklahoma proves why they were the preseason #1 team and wins 27-16.
Stanford @ USC – Stanford finds itself in an unusual position – the favorite against USC. Sure, since Pete Carroll left LA, the tables have decidedly turned, but just as the Cardinal played spoiler to the Trojans in 2007, Lane Kiffin looks to direct his team to a similar spoiler role. A night game in the Coliseum may be just the recipe for an upset. Stanford falls, 27-23.
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