Wednesday, October 13, 2010

College Football Wrap-Up - Five Unbeaten Top 25 Teams Lose and Drop in the AP Poll

When you figure out what is more exciting and unpredictable
than college football during the fall season, let me know.
No less than 5 unbeaten AP Top 25 teams lost their first
game over the weekend, and 3 of them suffered major upsets
as well. Seventh-ranked Florida, 9th-ranked Stanford,
11th-ranked Wisconsin, 18th-ranked Southern California
(USC) and 23rd-ranked North Carolina State all lost.
No. 1 Alabama just took it to Florida something awful, not
only beating but crushing the visiting Gators 31-6 in a
humiliation Florida players will not soon forget. In the
battle of arguably the two best current coaches in college
football - Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida's Urban Meyer -
Saban wins this time hands down.
With an Alabama defense like a swarm of thirsty hornets --
Courtney Upshaw had 4 tackles behind the line of scrimmage
and C. J. Mosley returned an interception 35 yards for a
touchdown - the Gators committed 4 turnovers, and could not
even smell the Alabama end zone.
And do you remember Florida's 15-minute hero last week? You
know, freshman Trey Burton who scored 6 touchdowns against
Kentucky to break Tim Tebow's record, he gained all of 5
yards on 4 carries. That's Crimson Tide defense with style
points.
The Tide may not have a lot going on offensively, but the
sheer running authority of Mark Ingram (who scored twice on
short runs) and Trent Richardson is enough to scare the
bejesus out of any team.
Alabama's victory was the second-most lopsided loss of
Urban Meyer's 6 years of coaching at Florida, and it came
before a red sea of 101,000+ fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
What a night for the Crimson Tide faithful, who treat SEC
games like Civil War battles against the Northern intruders.
The 4th-ranked Oregon Ducks, a team that seems to come
alive after they look like a cooked goose, rose from the
dead after the 7th-ranked Stanford Cardinal flew into their
stadium and took a very impressive, very quick 21-3 lead in
the 1st quarter of this first-time match-up of these two
schools as nationally-ranked teams.
After spotting Oregon an opening field goal, the Ducks
could only watch as Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck threw
an 18-yard TD pass, ran for a 10-yard TD, and then passed
for another 44-yard TD.
But it was a couple of Oregon sophomores who would win the
day. QB Darron Thomas would go 20-for-29 (69%) for 238
yards and 2 touchdowns, and LaMichael James would gain 257
yards on 31 carries (7.65 ypc) and score 3 times on runs of
5 and 3 yards before finishing Stanford off with a 76-yard
burst in the final minutes.
This game was all about offense as Oregon gained 626 yards
and Stanford 518. It would appear that neither team, unlike
Alabama, has a defense worth talking about.
The Ducks helped their cause immensely by forcing two
crucial turnovers, and holding The Cardinal pointless in
the second half while scoring 4 touchdowns. It was the 13th
straight win for the Ducks at Autzen Stadium, and their
10th consecutive Pac-10 victory.
Stanford has not won a game while ranked in the Top 10
since 1970.
The 11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers forced 3 early turnovers
on the 24th-ranked Michigan State Spartans, but still went
into the locker room at halftime on the short end of a
20-10 score.
Head coach Mark Dantonio, who suffered a mild heart attack
following his team's last-second overtime win over Notre Dame, found himself back in the hospital for this game
because of a blood clot in his leg. He had intended to be
back in the coaching box.
Enter offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who led the
Spartans 45-7 win over AA Northern Colorado last week. On
Michigan State's crucial drive late in the game, Treadwell
called for a successful attempt on a 4th-and-1 situation
that eventually led to the 34-24 upset win.
The Spartans would convert three 3rd-downs on the drive
before needing all 4 downs to score near the goal line on a
1-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to B. J. Cunningham to seal
the victory.
In the most surprising upset of the week, the unranked
Washington Huskies (1-2) traveled to Los Angeles and upset
the 18th-ranked USC Trojans 32-31 for the second time in
two years on a pressure-packed, last-play, 32-field goal by
wonder kicker Erik Folk.
Last year at Husky Stadium, Erik Folk nailed a 22-yard
field goal with 3 seconds left to upset then 3rd-ranked
Southern Cal in what became a signature victory for
first-year coach Steve Sarkisian and his Huskies.
"Sark" (Sarkisian's nickanme) and USC coach Lane Kiffin
both ran the Southern Cal offense as coordinators for Pete
Carroll before Carroll left to become coach of the NFL
Seattle Seahawks this year.
It was de javu all over again Saturday as Folk was forced
to wait through three timeouts before nailing his winning
kick with, once again, 3 seconds showing on the clock.
In one of Sarkisian's smarter moves since becoming the
Washington Husky coach, he stopped trying to force Jake
Locker into becoming an NFL pocket quarterback. He let the
fifth-year senior be himself by making the game plan simple
and using Locker's legs as well as his arm to humble USC
once again.
After looking like anything but a Heisman candidate in
Washington's brutal 56-21 loss to Nebraska two weeks ago,
Locker reminded everyone of why he was considered THE top
NFL draft prospect and Heisman Trophy candidate.
He played like a seasoned warrior against USC, going
24-for-40 passing (60%) for 310 yards and a 44-yard TD pass
to Devin Aguilar, and rushing for another 110 yards on 12
carries (9.17 ypc).
Locker nearly scored another TD on a long run in the 2nd
quarter, but USC's Shareece Wright came from behind to
punch the ball loose and through the end zone for a
touchback.
In the 4th quarter, Locker took a knee to the back on his
head while on the ground near the goal line and got his
breath knocked out on the same play. Backup Keith Price
immediately came in and tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to
Chris Izbicki to put the Huskies ahead, 29-28.
Locker returned to engineer the long drive that set up Erik
Folk's dramatic last-play winning kick. It was the Huskies
first win at the LA Coliseum since 1996. The Trojans had
won 47 of 48 games on their home field against Washington
until losing 3 of the last 5 games.
The 5th unbeaten team to fall was the 23rd-ranked NorthCarolina State Wolfpack, which could not stop the unranked
Virginia Tech Hoakies on this day. The Hoakies had a lofty
pre-season ranking that evaporated overnight with
season-opening losses to 3rd-ranked Boise State and AA
James Madison.
A different team met NC State over the weekend. After being
down 17-7 at the half and then being down 17 points, the
Hoakies found themselves in the 2nd half by scoring on 5 of
their 7 possessions to launch one of the most impressive
comebacks in school history.
In the end, NC State could not keep up, losing 41-30.
Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor passed for 3 touchdowns and
rushed for another 121 yards, running back Darren Evans
added 160 yards on 15 carries (10.67 ypc), and Jayron
Holsey intercepted Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson 3 times.
Frank Beamer's Hoakies have now beaten East Carolina and
shut out Boston College to bring their record back to 3-2.
The upset losses hurt Wisconsin, USC and NC State. The
Badgers dropped from 11th to 20th in the AP Top 25 Poll.
The Trojans and the Wolfpack went flying right out of the
Top 25 along with USC and Penn State, and were replaced in
the last 4 slots by Oklahoma State, Florida State, Missouri
and Air Force.
Several ranked teams scored big wins that will not hurt
them a bit. They included:
No. 3 Boise State (4-0) shut out hapless, inept New Mexico
State 59-zip. No. 5 TCU (5-0) shut out weak Colorado State
27-zip. No. 10 Auburn (5-0) breezed past a weak
Louisiana-Monroe team, 52-3. No. 17 Iowa beat No. 22 Penn
State 24-3. And No. 25 Nevada (5-0) took care of UNLV 44-26.
No. 6 Nebraska, No. 13 Utah, No. 14 Arizona, No. 15
Arkansas, and No. 19 South Carolina were all idle.
The 4 teams that played their way into the AP Top 25 Poll
did so by winning. The new 22nd-ranked Oklahoma State
Cowboys (4-0) nipped Texas A&M 38-35. The 23rd-ranked
Florida State Seminoles beat Virginia in an away game,
34-14. The 24th-ranked Missouri Tigers were idle. And the
25th-ranked Air Force Falcons turned back Navy 14-6.
----------------------------------------------------
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