It wasn’t a good day to be a top-ranked team yesterday, from the obvious results and some of the destruction of reputations and national title hopes in the second halves of many games. West Virginia’s defeat at the hands of South Florida looks more like an omen now. I didn’t catch much of the late games due to attending the Northern Colorado-Cal Poly game in person last night (at a nicely renovated Spanos Stadium); I was tempted to yell “Stab the punter!” when Northern Colorado was kicking.
Early games: Let’s make this clear early: Notre Dame’s offensive adequacy in the second half of their game against Purdue is less the product of Evan Sharpley being a better than average-QB than the Boilermakers playing in prevent defense for the majority of that half. Purdue is probably the diciest 5-0 team around, being part of the Big 10. Les Miles had to yell at his LSU squad during halftime in order to get them to play, and Matt Flynn had become a liability in the first half. 34-9 is not a bad score to whoop your opponent by, but it really shouldn’t have been close at all, and Tulane had a lead in the first half.
Penn State is absolutely awful with Anthony Morelli under center, who cannot seem to get out of his own way. Iowa has the opposite problem: Jake Christensen is a decent quarterback with absolutely no help around him offensively.
There aren’t many things better in life for me than watching Bob Stoops get beat, and get beat at the last second like that. Colorado scored 17 unanswered points on a Sooner defense that hadn’t given up more than 60 total before yesterday, and the class of the Big 12 is just as mediocre as the rest of the conference — they just scheduled worse cupcakes.
Afternoon games: By the time Cal-Oregon stacked up and finished, it was clearly the game of the day, with a back and forth that kept going in the third and fourth quarter after a defensive-minded first half. Two late interceptions by Dennis Dixon helped Cal get scores to win it, and obscured an awful field goal by the officiating crew that would have been discussed endlessly if the Oregon receiver hadn’t fumbled into the end zone for a touchback on the last drive.
I’m loath to give Wisconsin any sort of respect for pulling out games that they should be winning, and also because the Big 10 is just so wretched this year. However, keeping it together at 5-0 with players like P.J. Hill and Tyler Donovan should at least say something about resiliency. Now, this team will lose, but it’s hard to say when unless they play Ohio State (and I don’t remember if they do this year.)
It’s not that Texas lost. It’s that everyone and their mother thought it would be next week against Oklahoma. K-State obviously is in Mack Brown’s head right now, because they can take the Horns in Manhattan and in Austin.
Maryland gets a measure of revenge on the Big East for not finishing off West Virginia by taking it out on Rutgers. Mike Teel looked a bit more human this week, and despite the best efforts of Teel and Ray Rice, the vaunted Rutgers D allowed a Terp back-up QB to walk all over them.
If Kentucky and Boston College aren’t both in the Top 10 by this evening, it’ll be complete bullshit. Boston College did enough to get by UMass, and Kentucky’s destruction of Florida Atlantic keeps solidifying Andre Woodson’s reputation (5 TDs for the QB.)
Tommy Bowden’s collapse games at Clemson come about as regularly as Chan Gailey’s overachieving/competency games at Georgia Tech during the season. Four missed field goals and a blocked punt for Clemson, which wasn’t the only ACC-involved game to make offense look optional, as Florida State combined with Alabama to set football back at least a couple of decades in the first three quarters before both teams began to actually move the football.
Night games: Most of these were second half watching from a sports bar after Poly started running up the score on Northern Colorado — Ohio State got to absolutely pummel a Minnesota team that is obviously the dregs of the conference, but survival counts for something.
Not sure what kind of speech, fire-breathing promise of hellfire, or what Karl Dorrell gave to UCLA at halftime against Oregon State, but it worked, because the Bruins completely flipped a 14-6 deficit on its head by scoring 27 unanswered to win. My UCLA alum friend and co-worker is convinced the team only plays well if he doesn’t watch the games at this point.
Cal and USC better watch the fuck out for Arizona State.
USC was sloppy-looking and didn’t help themselves a whole lot going against a Washington team that will do damage in the Pac-10 schedule during the rest of this season and down the road. If they don’t tighten up, they’re losing to either Oregon or Cal, possibly both, because they have to do damage in the running game first. That said, they’re better off than Florida — Urban Meyer tried a Rat Fink special and called a time out as Auburn kicker Wes Bynum kicked it through; the problem is, Bynum hit the second attempt too, and Florida’s crap secondary finally caved.
Photo: AP/Todd J. Van Ernst