As is always the case every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.
Survey says… LSU’s No. 1
They have to be. How could they not? All the Tigers have done is beat then-No. 3 Oregon on a neutral field; went to Starkville and whooped on No. 25 Mississippi State; then, Saturday night, traveled to Morgantown and laid a woodshedding on No. 16 West Virginia. Three of their four wins over ranked teams away from Baton Rouge, and by an average of just over 17 points per game. Again, I have to ask: how can LSU not be the No.1 team in the country in both polls when the rankings come out Sunday? The answer should be they can’t be anywhere but No. 1; we’ll see if that’s the case in just a few hours.
I gots yer fluke right here
Almost immediately after Tajh Boyd threw nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns on Auburn, some brushed it off and attributed the performance to AU’s very young and raw secondary. “Wait ’til he faces a real defense like No. 11 Florida State,” they said. That surely would be a good test for Boyd; the Seminoles came into Saturday’s huge ACC Atlantic clash with the Tigers No. 6 in the country in pass defense, giving up just 118 yards per game. 344 yards and three touchdowns — and a 35-30 win — later, Boyd has likely silenced many a doubter. And put No. 21 Clemson firmly in the divisional driver’s seat, especially given the “level of play” in the Atlantic this season.
Cowboys on Comeback Mountain
It was the first game involving two Top 10 teams at Kyle Field since 1975, and No. 8 Texas A&M was looking to run away with what would be a monumental win in what looks to be their final season in the Big 12, staking themselves to a 20-3 halftime lead on No. 7 Oklahoma State. At some point during that 15-minute period in the locker room, however, the Cowboys woke up and realized we’re men, we’re 40 (points per game) or thereabouts! After the halftime wake-up call, OSU ripped off 27 straight points and then held on for a 30-29 win that keeps the Cowboys in the thick of the Big 12 race.
Wilson’s Heisman bandwagon: good seats still available
Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, Wisconsin’s opponents this season have a combined record of 5-10. Yes, the No. 6 Badgers’ biggest test of the season won’t come until next weekend’s game against No. 9 Nebraska in what could be a preview of the first-ever Big Ten title game. All of that, however, should not detract from what Russell Wilson is doing this season. In his first four games as a member of the previously run-happy Badgers — Saturday’s unlucky foe was overmatched South Dakota — the transfer from North Carolina State is completing almost 76 percent of his passes for 1,136 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. Again, the level of competition should be taken into account, but that doesn’t mean the numbers Wilson’s putting up should be discounted.
Can’t spell Tide with a “D”
A dominating, stifling, suffocating “D” at that. While we went over it a little more extensively HERE, No. 3 Alabama’s utterly dominant 37-14 win over No. 14 Arkansas deserves at least a mention in this space. There’s been a lot of talk of late that LSU might have the best defense in the country. Suffice to say, the Bayou Bengals are stifling in their own right. After what I saw Saturday, and with all due respect to the wrecking crew in Baton Rouge, I’ll take the Tuscaloosa defensive gang any day of the week and twice on game days, thank you very much. I’ll also thank the football gods in advance for LSU-Alabama on Nov. 5; the way those two are going, the winner may somehow wind up with negative points.
Late in the first half of Arizona State’s 43-22 victory over No. 23 USC, Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley threw an interception straight into the hands of Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who returned it into USC territory. Coincidentally, it was Barkley who tackled Burfict. But the junior linebacker, notorious for being one of the most ruthless guys in college football, did something amazing. Almost purposefully in manner, Burfict went over to Barkley, extended his hand, helped the quarterback up and the two embraced in a brief moment of sportsmanship. It’s something we don’t see nearly enough.
Lookin’ good kid. Sorta
OK, it wasn’t something you’d find in any type of quarterbacking textbook. After three consecutive weeks of
Todd Boeckman Joe Bauserman, however, it was a solid starting point for what will be an interesting learning experience for both Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes from here on out. The true freshman quarterback made the first start of his career in an easy 37-17 win over Colorado and, while he completed just five of his 13 attempts, two of those completions went for touchdowns and he did not throw an interception. Where he really shined, and as should be expected from a young player with his God-given athletic ability, was in the running game. Miller finished second on the team in rushing with 83 yards — oddly enough, that number matched his passing yardage. Again, it was hardly a virtuoso performance statistically, but Miller showed enough that — thank The Big Fan Upstairs — there’s absolutely no reason to go back to Boeckman Bauserman at any point this season.
The fat boys are back (in the end zone)
Like puppies and side boob, most everybody loves a fat guy touchdown. This year, Melvin Ingram has become the patron saint of those crowd-pleasing scores. Earlier this year, the South Carolina defensive lineman scored two touchdowns in a single game — one on a fumble return, another on the greatest fake punt for a touchdown in the history of fake punts. Saturday, Ingram added to his prolific point total, scoring on a fumble recovery in the end zone in the No. 12 Gamecocks’ 21-3 win over Vanderbilt. Obviously, that was Ingram’s third touchdown of the season. To put that into its proper perspective, he has more trips to the end zone than teammate and All-SEC wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (1) does this season. Of course, that may be more of an indictment on the Gamecocks’ passing game than anything else. Speaking of which…
Can you drive yourself to drink?
Heading into this season, it wasn’t exactly a state secret that quarterback play would likely be the key to any chance No. 12 South Carolina had of advancing back to the SEC championship game. After an offseason rife with turmoil, two-year-plus starter Stephen Garcia found himself on the sidelines to start the season; a shaky Connor Shaw led to Garcia being reinserted into the starting lineup shortly thereafter. And then Saturday night happened. In the Gamecocks’s 21-3 win over Vanderbilt, Garcia threw four interceptions, including three in the first half, before being replaced by Shaw. South Carolina can get away with that against the Commodores, no offense intended; against Auburn, Arkansas and Florida? Unacceptable, and Steve Spurrier knows it. And knows he needs to get that position, that player, straightened out sooner rather than later. If not, he risks wasting the most talented team he’s had since leaving Florida. And, yes, that includes the Washington Redskins and thank you I’ll be here all week.
Oops, our bad
The Big East and one of its officiating crews should be ashamed of themselves, screwing Toledo out of a huge road win against a BcS conference school the way they did (for all of the particulars of said screwing, click HERE). Even all of these hours later, it’s unbelievable that neither the officials on the field or, even more unfathomable, the official in the replay booth could not see that the Syracuse extra point was no good. What should’ve been a 30-29 win for the Rockets in regulation turned into a 33-30 overtime win for the Orange, thanks solely to the blatant ineptness of an officiating crew. And, sorry, an apology after the fact is not enough. Given all of the technology available in these days, it’s inexcusable for anything like this to go down.
A win, but heavy losses
As expected, Penn State had no problems whatsoever in easily dispatching Eastern Michigan 34-6 Saturday. Unfortunately, they paid a significant price on the defensive side of the ball in the process. Linebacker Mike Mauti and cornerback D’Anton Lynn — both starters — went down with injuries in the win, the former with an ACL tear that will cost him the remainder of the season and the latter with a head-neck injury. Lynn’s injury was particularly scary as he lay motionless on the field for several minutes after attempting to make a tackle. He was taken off the field strapped to a backboard and stretcher, but the school announced later that he had movement in all of his extremities.
Houston definitely has a problem
Where to start when it comes to the state of the Ole Miss football program? You could go with just five wins in their last 16 games. Or you could go with eight straight SEC losses overall. Or, hell, you could just go to the latest loss. In their 27-13 home loss to Georgia, the Rebels produced just 183 yards of total offense, which was offset by the four sacks given up to an UGA team that came into the game with just one for the entire season. In three games against Div. 1-A schools this season, Ole Miss has scored a grand total of two touchdowns, or one less than South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram. Parse it, twist it, spin it any way you like, but this is a bad, bad football team. And, because of it, Houston Nutt has surpassed Mark Richt as the coach in the SEC with the hottest backside. So hot, in fact, we’ll make our very first iron-clad coaching lock of the year: Nutt will not be the head coach of the Rebels when the calendar flips from 2011 to 2012.
The life (and coaching death?) of Riley
Many people, my editor included, thought me crazy when I had the audacity to mention in this space a couple of weeks ago that Mike Riley could be on the coaching hot seat. Three games and three Oregon State losses into the 2011 season, and the head coach’s seat is at least getting uncomfortably warm. The latest data point in the downward Riley arc comes courtesy of a really, really bad UCLA football team, with the Bruins going up to Corvallis and inexcusably coming away with a 27-19 win; it’s the first time in Riley’s nine years with the Beavers his team has started a season 0-3. Riley has built up and banked a lot of goodwill during his OSU run, and that would likely preclude a move being made this year regardless of how the season plays out. If this current trend continues, however, all bets may be off.
Fashion gods pissed, take it out on Terps
For the first month of the season, the college football world has been abuzz — or aghast, depending on your perspective/age — over the striking
ly bad uniforms Maryland has chosen to don. Perhaps the offseason would’ve been better utilized by hiring the best option at head coach coughcoughMikeLeachcoughcough instead of drawing up gimmicks to call attention to your football program? Less than 40,000 fans showed up Saturday — remember, sagging attendance was one of the reasons behind Ralph Friedgen‘s dismissal — to watch the Terps get waxed 38-7 by Temple. Temple, people. The Owls of the MAC, for goodness sakes. And that’s not a knock on Temple; rather, it’s a damning indictment of the current state of Randy Edsall‘s football program. There were many, many Terrapin fans who wanted to bring a certain former Texas Tech head coach to College Park, and were none too pleased over Edsall’s ho-hum hiring. After the start to the season the Terps have had, look for the discontent of a fan base already unhappy to grow exponentially with this embarrassment of a loss — regardless of how “cutting-edge” their apparel may be.
OMG LOL #derp
Div. 1-AA North Dakota State 37, Minnesota 24. At Minnesota…
ODDS & ENDS
– As great as Justin Blackmon is on the field, it appears he’s just as great — or greater — off of it. I can’t applaud that young man enough for what he’s doing for that young girl in her brave fight with cancer. And, if you do decide to click that link and view the video of the ESPN GameDay piece on Blackmon, grab a Kleenex or two. Ya know, just in case the room suddenly gets all dusty or something.
— Classy gesture by Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, who paid tribute to the members of the Marshall football program who lost their lives in a plane crash in 1970. Roughly two hours before the No. 13 Hokies’ win over the Herd, Beamer laid a stone at a memorial honoring the victims, one of whom was Beamer’s former college teammate.
— If LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu‘s not in your Heisman discussion, you need to shut up. Of course, the cornerback/special teams maven has two strikes against him when it comes to the stiff-armed trophy: he plays defense and he doesn’t play offense. And that’s sad, that voters likely won’t be able to look beyond the backfield skill positions to find the best player in the country.
— At this time last year, Brady Hoke was head coach at San Diego State. Fast-forward 365 days, and Hoke, now at No. 22 Michigan if you haven’t heard, took on his former school in Ann Arbor and came away with 28-7 win to start his Wolverines coaching career at 4-0. A word of warning for Hoke, however: Rich Rodriguez started the past two seasons 4-0 and, well, we all know what happened earlier this year.
— From the Associated Press on UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni: “Just three hours before kickoff, Pasqualoni spent an hour stuck in a hotel elevator before workers dropped a ladder through the roof to let him climb out.” Guarantee you there’ll be at least one “microcosm of the Huskies’ season” story that will come out of this incident at season’s end.
— After injuries sustained in a summer-camp collision forced him to press boxes for the first three games of the season, Joe Paterno returned to the sidelines for the first time in 2011 as Penn State dropped Eastern Michigan 34-6. Unfortunately, that only lasted a half as JoePa was back in the press box for the final two quarters.
FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY
— In Hawaii’s easy win over UC Davis, quarterback Bryant Moniz threw for 424 yards and seven touchdowns in the first half. Again, those numbers came in two quarters of a football game that did not include a joystick or game controller. My goodness. That’s ridiculous.
— Speaking of ridiculous, No. 10 Oregon’s LaMichael James set a school record with 288 yards rushing against overmatched Arizona. He reached that total on just 23 carries.
— This season, No. 17 Baylor’s Robert Griffin III has thrown 13 touchdowns and 12 incompletions. He’s completing a staggering 85.4 percent of his passes. He’s good.
— The last time Kentucky beat Florida, Ronald Reagan was president; a gallon of gas would set you back 93 cents; “That’s What Friends Are For” won the Grammy for Song of the Year; and I was a freshman — in college. That year was 1986, 25 losses ago for the Wildcats after getting spanked 48-10 by the No. 15 Gators.
— While it came in a blowout loss, Geno Smith set a West Virginia single-game record by torching the LSU defense for 463 yards passing.
— In a somewhat surprisingly close contest at home for Oklahoma, Landry Jones threw for 448 yards and stayed in the thick of the Heisman race as the No. 1 Sooners held off Missouri 38-28.
— Temple’s Bernard Pierce rushed for a school-record five touchdowns in the Owls’ embarrassment of the Terps.
– Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu set a Big East record with 16 receptions for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the Scarlet Knights’ 38-26 win over Ohio.
— A 90-yard reception by Keenan Allen set a Cal record for longest pass play in the school’s history.
— In No. 6 Wisconsin’s four wins this season, including Saturday’s 59-10 win over South Dakota, the Badgers’ average margin of victory is exactly 40 points. Their “closest” game? A 34-point win in the season opener against UNLV.
— During their come-from-behind win over Texas A&M, Oklahoma State totaled 290 yards on 40 plays — in the third quarter.
— Speaking of the Cowboys, quarterback Brandon Weeden set schools records for yards (438) and completions (47) in the win.
— Notre Dame has committed 15 turnovers this season; they’ve played 16 quarter of football. Somehow, they’ve managed to squeeze an even .500 mark out of their inept generosity.
— Air Force set a school record with 792 yards of total offense (595 rushing, 197 passing) in a 63-24 drubbing of Tennessee State.
— Memphis had minus-14 yards rushing in a 42-0 loss to SMU.
QUOTE OF THE DAY, POSSIBLY THE YEAR
“The speed of the game, it’s kind of like lightning struck the outhouse and we were in it,” Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter, following the loss to Florida. To quote the great Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post, who was kind enough to forward us this gem: “The heck?”
Amen Jason. Amen.