Ten Things - Week Two
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And the hits just keep on coming. Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Nebraska drop out of the ratings after horrible upsets. Missouri is playing Old Man football these days. PAC-12 teams are looking better than ever. Week 2 is in the books, folks, and the scandals of the offseason are a distant memory as upsets abound and the play on the field trumps everything off it. Join us as we venture through the best and worst Ten Things the week that was…
1. Warhawks Stun Razorbacks: It’s not every day it happens. In fact it never happened before. A Sun Belt team beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 2004. And not just a ranked opponent, but a top 10 SEC team. It’s been a tough year for the Razorbacks, who lost head coach Bobby Petrino to scandal during the offseason. It was an even tougher game, as starting QB Tyler Wilson sat out the second half while two other Razorbacks were carted off the field via stretcher. But take nothing from Louisiana Monroe, who fought back from a 28-7 third quarter deficit to win 34-31 in overtime. For a team that has gone 9-15 the past two years to knock off a preseason title contender is something to be proud of.
2. Big Ten Stumbles in PAC-12 Showdown: Two Big Ten contenders, Nebraska and Wisconsin, traveled to what should have been easy wins. Nebraska ran into a much improved UCLA team which utilizes a dual-threat quarterback of their own. While Husker QB Taylor Martinez was a respectable (by his standards) 17-31, Bruins QB Brett Hundley was 21-33 for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not bad for a redshirt freshman. The Badgers, meanwhile, travelled to Corvalis to find an Oregon State team reverting back to its giant killer ways. Montee Ball, a Heisman finalist last year, was held to just 61 yards on 15 carries. While it’s very likely both of these PAC-12 programs caught lightning in a bottle, it’s also more likely that both Nebraska and Wisconsin have serious issues that need to be fixed if the Big Ten will have more than one team in a BCS bowl for the eighth straight year.
3. “Old Man” Football = Grown Man Football: Missouri defensive tackle, Sheldon Richardson, said after the first weekend of games that Georgia played “old man” football. That seemed to be true at halftime, when Georgia looked frustrated andcouldn’t even muster enough to make a PAT. Even late in the third quarter, Missouri seemed in control with a 20-17 lead. Then Jarvis Jones woke up and set up two fourth quarter touchdowns off turnovers as the Bulldogs scored the last 24 points of the game. Welcome to the SEC, Missouri.
4. RichRod Shining, Arizona 2-0: Rich Rodriguez, the coach of infamy in both West Virginia for bolting for Michigan as well as Michigan for doing a horrible job once he got there, seems to have found a good fit in Tuscon. The Wildcats have the quarterback Rodriguez never had at Michigan in senior Matt Scott, who threw for 320 yards and a pair of scores in the rout of last year’s Fiesta Bowl participant. After a tough opening week, where they needed overtime to finish off Toledo, Arizona wokeup after a quick two touchdowns by the Cowboys, rattling off 30 straight points and never trailing again. With an upcoming visit from South Carolina State, the road gets tougher quickly. Three straight conference games, at Oregon, Oregon State, and at Stanford should be a better measuring stick. Finish that stretch with 5 wins and the road ahead looks much brighter.
5. Walk-On Scholarship Presentations: Ever since James Franklin presented fullback Marc Panu with a scholarship (and the video went viral), it seems that more and more similar situations are being made public. Maryland gave six walk-ons scholarship sright before their opener. It’s a really great story that I hope to see repeated throughout the year. Who doesn’t love the reaction of a player who has worked his tail off finally getting that golden ticket – if only for one year. It’s magic, and one of the many reasons why we love college football more than any other sport.
6. Rise of the Little Guy: It seems there are a few upset every year that really grab our attention, but already in two weeks there seems to be a trend forming. Ever since Appalachian State knocked off Michigan in 2007, there has been both an increase in games involving FCS and FBS teams and an increase of FBS teams losing. In two weeks, we already have two such upsets – Youngstown State over Pitt in Week 1, and Sacramento State over Colorado last week. Now, this obviously isn’t the same as #5 Michigan losing at home or Eventually 10-2 ACC champ Virginia Tech losing to James Madison, but it’s still pretty unique. Add in the aforementioned LA Monroe win, Texas State’s upset of Houston last week, and perennial doormat Utah State knocking off Utah in the “way too early to play a rivalry game” game and you have yourself the makings of a special season.
7. Player of the Week, Kolton Browning QB ULM: I know it’s been said, but it can’t be understated. Browning’s performance in Fayetteville against a top 10 Arkansas was one of the finest performances you will see all year. If it was just the 412 yards and 3 touchdowns, that would be impressive enough, but Browning hit receiver Brent Leonard for the tying touchdown from 23 yards out on a 4th and 10 AND channeled his inner Vince Young for a 16 yard scamper on 4th and 1 in overtime to seal the win. Well played, sir.
8. Coach of the Week, Steve Spurrier South Carolina: Everyone knows Spurrier made his hay on coaching quarterbacks. Since he came to South Carolina, though, he’s been plagued by the likes of Stephen Garcia. Everyone thought with Connor Shaw, he had the qb he needed to take the Gamecocks up a notch. Little did they know that Darth Visor has been working his magic. How else can you explain a backup making his first career start and throwing for 330 yards and 3 touchdowns to a receiving corps without Alshon Jeffery? Thought so. Spurrier has his team right where he wants them. If they can work out some minor kinks, they may give LSU all they can handle in Baton Rouge.
9. State of the SEC: The old guard scored a win against the new guys, with Missouri and Texas A&M both losing their conference openers. They shouldn’t feel discouraged until they read this…the SEC championship has only gone to charter members,and the last time a team outside the big 6 (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee)* won even a share was 1976, when Kentucky and Georgia shared the crown. LSU and Alabama seem headed for another epic clash. Auburn and Arkansas look to avoida full tailspin on the year. Arkansas hosts #1 Alabama while Auburn hosts a Louisiana Monroe team that upset the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. Who has the best chance at victory? The Mississippi teams are both a surprising 2-0, and the Rebels hope to steal a win away from Texas this week. Georgia gets a tune up this week before hosting the Commodores. Speaking of Vandy, my preseason prediction of 8 wins doesn’t look very good, as they are sitting at 0-2. South Carolina, meanwhile, will likely give QB Connor Shaw another week of rest while the backups get plenty of reps against UAB. No rest for the weary, though. The new kids on the block have to saddle up as Texas A&M goes to play a dangerous SMU team and Missouri hosts and equally sneaky Arizona State squadf resh off a bludgeoning of Illinois.
10. Top Three to See:
Florida at Tennessee – Remember when this game used to mean something besides who would go to the Outback or Independence Bowls? Yeah, neither does anyone else. But this year promises to have some valuable storylines to follow (besides, there are only three games involving two ranked teams, and this is one of them). Volunteers coach Derek Dooley is in year 3, and still looking for a signature win. Knocking off Florida this week may be his best chance to have a year 4. Meanwhile, Gators coach Will Muschamp is looking to build additional momentum before hosting LSU on October 6th. Win this week, a 4-0 record and open date before the Tigers visit the Swamp can alter the SEC picture. Florida wins 27-19.
Notre Dame at Michigan State – It looks like there’s only one dominant team in the Big Ten this year. In order to stay in the national title discussion, they will have to handle business against an improved Fighting Irish team. Much like the Gators, Notre Dame can’t seem to settle on a quarterback. It may not matter, because the Spartan defense will make a meal out of either of them. Michigan State 34-17
USC at Stanford – This game went down to the wire last year, where a fumble in overtime sealed the Trojans’ fate. This year, Stanford is rebuilding while USC has greatly fortified their starting line-ups. This is the first test for a Trojan team that looks forward to playing for that crystal football. Stanford was the class of the conference the past couple years, but looks relegated to playing the spoiler role in this one. USC 31-24 (OT)
*These teams were singled out due to 5 of them (LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee) have won a national title during the BCS era while Georgia has for a large portion of that time, been in that group and averaging 9 wins a season in Mark Richt’s tenure.
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