God bless you all, you magnificent orange-helmeted bastards!
Early Games: Michigan can coast against certain teams without Mike Hart and Chad Henne in and out due to injury, but while Wisconsin’s defense has been suspect all season, offensively, they will be able to put up enough points to counter any tricks the Wolverines can pull out of a hat — and there were some very pretty passes to Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington for scores. However, the Badgers were able to hold the Wolverines off. This should quell any rumored talk of Michigan being a top 10 team by the time the season is over.
Cullen Harper may be a rare breed in the ACC — an actual, breathing quarterback who can throw it downfield when he needs to for Clemson (3 TDs passing, one rushing, 266 yards). It helps to have tailbacks like James Davis and C.J. Spiller, a tandem that would get more ink if the Tigers can get a run going to the ACC championship game — they are currently ahead of Boston College in their division.
The next Nebraska coach will like having Joe Ganz under center if he fits with his offense. 510 yards and 7 TDs passing against K State in order to get that bad taste of a Mangino beating out of the Huskers’ mouths.
Tennessee wins the battle of the schizophrenic teams in Knoxville, as Darren McFadden as merely human while the Vols offense goes balls out on the Hogs’ defense.
Sly Croom is now bowl-eligible at Mississippi State after four years and starting this season on the hot seat. The Bulldogs took out the Crimson Tide for the third straight year, and this time did it with so little offensive production that it was something to behold. John Parker Wilson has a very nice tendency to throw interceptions at crucial times (he is a younger Brandon Cox, shall we say), and this was part of why Nick Saban was just the latest SEC coach to get Croomed.
Texas A&M hung with Mizzou early, but then the Chase Daniel rules came into play — throwing 3 TDs, including two to receiver/return man Jeremy Maclin.
Afternoon Games: Ah, the genius of Charlie Weis, managing to lose to both service academies on the schedule this year at home in South Bend. Touchdown Jesus weeps again as so many of us enjoy the Schadenfreude. I’m not sure what would be more ridiculous: Notre Dame firing Weis for his incompetence at this point or sticking with him as he sits on what is said to be the #1 recruiting class in the nation for next year. It won’t matter how good the recruiting class is if he can’t teach the players how to tackle and protect the QB.
Karl Dorrell is finished now. AD Dan Guerrero is likely to toss him after getting a lead on Arizona State in the first half (not much of one at 10-7, but still) and winds up losing despite the effort from an injury-depleted team to get them points via good special teams play. Things Dorrell will probably wish he would have done: have Osaar Rashaan ready to be a QB with more snaps earlier in the season. It doesn’t get easier for Dorrell with games against Oregon and USC left, and it’s a stretch to say that UCLA will even be bowl eligible. As for Arizona State: title contenders they may not be, but a one-loss season after falling apart under Dirk Koetter last year is a drastic turnaround for a program that expects to compete in the top tier of the Pac-10 every year. Hopefully Dennis Erickson does not get the urge to hit the road once again.
The whole nation of college football lovers (save those in the state of Ohio) owes a thank you to Ron Zook yet again. Once for recruiting the players that made up a lot of Florida’s championship run last year including the OSU drubbing, and now today for dispatching the current OSU team from the ranks of the unbeaten — saving us from what would have been a drubbing by LSU or Oregon. Isaiah Williams (it feels weird typing “Juice” for him) had the career game with four TD passes and the Illini D was able to pick Todd Boeckman three times. That final drive where Williams got those necessary first downs with his legs and killed the last eight minutes was a sight. Hopefully, he keeps getting better as a QB.
No one wants the Big East that badly, apparently. UConn’s run for the stars is over, and it comes down to next week’s showdown between Cincinnati and West Virginia.
Navy 74, North Texas 62. I expected analysis from Digger Phelps in the post-game show on ESPN, then realized that was a football score.
Georgia came out with the red jerseys, tore them off for the black ones, and then proceeded to get their Grim Reapers on with regard to Auburn. If you’d like the latest running back version of the Truth, seek and ye shall find Knowshon Moreno, who not only rushed for 101 yards and two TDs, but rushed for one of those after being robbed of a TD pass on a trick play via a Dawg penalty. He makes deep cuts that leave safeties in bad spots. Matthew Stafford probably had the quietest 200+ yards and 2 TD game that you’ll hear of, and that’s because of Moreno and Thomas Brown running roughshod over defenders. It did not harbor good things for Auburn when Brandon Cox’s first play from scrimmage was a pick.
Oklahoma dispatched Baylor like they ought to.
Florida State was doomed once they had to rely on Christian Ponder under center. The Seminoles have had no sense of continuity on offense due to the QB changes, and the Hokies’ defense took full advantage — also, I’m still hoping that Tyrod Taylor will show more of his skills come next season.
Late Games: What would happen to Florida without Tim Tebow? He is not quite so consistent against top tier SEC talent yet, but when given a defense that has no answer for his skill set, he can devastate. He accounted for all seven Gator scores, five with his feet and two with his arm, destroying the Ol’ Ball Coach, who is dealing with an odd situation where he cannot amass the talent in Columbia to fit his preferred offensive philosophy.
Randy Shannon cannot rebuild the U in a year, but that was a very nasty low point, and being shut out 48-0 is not exactly the way the Hurricanes probably wanted their last game in the Orange Bowl to go. Virginia is somehow, an ACC title contender, and if Jeff Jagodzinski isn’t doing the job he’s doing at Boston College, Al Groh is the automatic Coach of the Year in that conference.
One of the better games of the day was in the rain in Berkeley, as USC and Cal slugged it out with a back and forth for the entire game as the muck rose up. In a game like that, it becomes a battle of tailbacks, and Chauncey Washington responded with 220 yards and a TD on 29 carries, beating out Justin Forsett’s 164 for Cal. Inconsistent QB play in the back half of the season continues for Cal’s Nate Longshore, as he fumbled and was picked late to seal the loss to Southern Cal.
Kansas has a reserve of players that manage to step up every week for them, and this week it was Marcus Henry, with two TDs and 199 yards receiving. Tailback Brandon McAnderson added a TD and 100+ yards on the ground as well in the win over Oklahoma State, which really wasn’t in the bag until a late defensive stand, resulting in a turnover on downs. Now, Kansas has Iowa State (trap alert, as the Cyclones knocked up Colorado this week), Mizzou after that, and a possible showdown in the conference championship with Oklahoma. Should they be in the title game if they win out? Don’t know yet.
Jeff Jagodzinski may be the C.O.Y. in the ACC in my book, but Boston College is having the bottom fall out after that opening run, giving up 472 yards of offense in a 42-35 loss to a hobbled and hurt Maryland Terrapins team.
Hawaii survives an invasion of the Islands from the Fresno State Bulldogs, as tenacious on the field as their coach Pat Hill’s motto for scheduling: any time, any place. Colt Brennan is still feeling that vicious hit from a Bulldog linebacker that put him out of the game in the fourth quarter after he tied the career touchdown pass record held by Ty Detmer.
LSU will now be #1 in the land again after handling its business against Louisiana Tech, and Oregon is #2 after its bye. Let’s see if that holds up, because that would be a championship game to see — Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart square off against Dorsey & Co. while the Flynn-Perrilloux combo and the Tailback Factory led by Jacob Hester takes on a nameless yet efficient Oregon D.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images