Super Saturday wasn’t filled a whole lot of drama. A lot of the top games turned into blowouts, but we did see our share of surprises and excitement. Let’s take a closer look…
- Michigan 28 Notre Dame 24: We expected a great game in South Bend and that’s exactly what we got. The most exciting game of the weekend got off to a fast start for the Irish. Quarterback Dayne Crist drove Notre Dame down the field on a 13 play, 71 yard opening drive which resulted in a touchdown. Soon after, the Irish would fall on hard luck. Crist had to leave the game with an eye injury and the tide quickly turned. It became the Denard Robinson show.
Robinson accounted for 502 total yards on the day, 258 of them on the ground including 152 in the second quarter. Just like UConn last week, Notre Dame couldn’t stop Robinson. They didn’t fare much better on the other side of the ball. Brian Kelly tried both backup quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Nate Montana (Joe’s son) and neither were effective. The backbreaker for Notre Dame’s defense was Robinson’s 87 yard touchdown run with 2 minutes left in the half. Rich-Rod’s club went into the locker room with a 21-7 lead.
Crist returned in the 2nd half and surprise, surprise…he leads the Irish on 2 scoring drives, 1 for a touchdown and 1 for a field goal. This cut the Wolverine lead to 21-17. The defense stepped up and the Crist struck once again on a 95 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph with 3:41 left. The Irish were on top 24-21 and looked to be heading for a phenomenal win against all odds. All they needed was a stop on defense. But what haunted them all season last year reared its ugly head once again…their inability to close games.
With the game on the line, Denard Robinson stole the show. He led a 12 play, 72 yard drive which chewed 3:14 off the clock and resulted in the go ahead touchdown. Despite their perseverance on offense, the Irish defense let down big time. Their inability to stop Robinson cost them the game. Now standing at 2-0 Michigan fans are finally getting excited about Rich Rodriguez. One things for sure about Rich-Rod…he has his quarterback in place.
- Alabama 24 Penn State 3: This game went exactly the way I expected it to. Penn State had absolutely no chance to win. In they came to Tuscaloosa with a true freshman quarterback facing a crowd of over 100,000. I don’t care if the mighty Joe Paterno was on the sidelines, Penn State just didn’t match up well against the Tide at all.
Alabama was without Mark Ingram once again, but that didn’t matter one bit because Trent Richardson was in town. He ran all over the Nittany Lions defense, totaling 144 yards and a touchdown. ‘Bama’s offensive line dominated up front and not only opened up running lanes for Richardson but gave quarterback Greg McElroy time in the pocket everytime he dropped back. McElroy picked apart State’s secondary throwing for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns.
State’s freshman quarterback Robert Bolden walked right into a buzz saw. He struggled as much as you’d expect. He was very inaccurate and tossed 2 picks. Saban threw so many different looks at Bolden. You could see how confused he was. If State had any chance to stay in this game they needed for running back Evan Royster to get going, but he was held to just 32 yards on the ground.
The Nittany Lions were held without a touchdown for the first time in 4 years. They were out-matched and out-classed. In the end, they were just another victim of the best team in college football.
- Ohio State 36 Miami 24: This game was won and lost at the quarterback position. On one hand you had Terrelle Pryor who accounted for 346 total yards (113 rushing) and 2 touchdowns. He made big plays all day both on the ground and through the air. Miami’s defense couldn’t stop him. On the other side, ‘Canes quarterback Jacory Harris struggled mightily against Ohio State’s defense. He was erratic and tossed 4 costly interceptions.
We knew it’d be a very tough test for Miami to win in the Horseshoe. After a slow start, Ohio State settled down and proved why they’re the better team. They controlled the game on both sides of the ball and were very sharp in doing so, only being penalized 2 times.
Terrelle Pryor continues to stake his Heisman candidacy. Since the end of last year he has shown outstanding progression and maturity. Most importantly, he’s shown the ability to perform when the lights are brightest. He faced a pretty good Miami defense and managed to tear them apart.
- West Virginia 24 Marshall 21 (OT): Boy you talk about a tale of 1 quarter, that’s what the story was in Huntington last Friday. Marshall jumped out to a 21-6 lead and was in complete control of the game. That’s when West Virginia woke up. With 8:28 left in the 4th quarter quarterback Geno Smith led the Mountaineers on a 9 play, 96 yard drive which accumulated in a Noel Devine 4 yard touchdown. This made the score 21-13 and triggered West Virginia to finally play some defense. After forcing a 3 and out, the Mountaineers got the ball back with 3:09 left. Smith then led a marathon 15 play, 98 yard drive which was capped off with a 5 yard touchdown pass to Will Johnson with 12 seconds left.
The score brought West Virginia within 2 points at 21-19. An extra point would do them no good, so they lined up for 2…and got it on a Smith to Jock Sanders pass. The game was knotted up and Marshall had no chance to recover. In overtime West Virginia cashed in on a Tyler Bitancurt chip shot field goal. The defense then rose to the occasion and shut down Marshall. Tyler Warner tried for a 39 yard field goal which had plenty of leg but was just wide right. Marshall played 3 great quarters but forgot to show up for the rest of the game. It wasn’t pretty but West Virginia will take it. They took Smith’s and Devine’s lead and showed tremendous fight and perseverance. Marshall is now 0-10 all time against their in-state rival.
- Most Impressive: Oklahoma. I had some serious questions about them after their less than impressive win over Utah State last week. I thought Florida State matched up good against them heading into their showdown but the Sooners proved to have no problem at all. They rolled the Seminoles over. What I was most impressed with was how Oklahoma managed to shut down Christian Ponder. They pressured him and forced him into 2 interceptions. On the other side Landry Jones took full advantage of FSU’s weak secondary and passed for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns. This was a huge test for the Sooners and they passed it with flying colors.
- Most Disappointing: Virginia Tech. No doubt about it. After their heartbreaker against Boise State, I expected the Hokies to be foaming at the mouth against James Madison. But instead they came out flat with no energy, blew a 10-0 lead and lost 21-16. This is simply unacceptable. We’re talking about a Tech team that came into the season with National Championship aspirations. After this 0-2 start, any shot at a BCS title goes flying out the window. The ACC title remains possible, and that’s the only thing that will salvage the Hokie season. But they sure have a lot of kinks to work out.
- Game Balls…
· Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: 24/40 – 244 yards – 1 touchdown + 28 carries – 258 yards – 2 touchdowns – 28-24 win at Notre Dame.
· Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: 30/40 – 380 yards – 4 touchdowns – 47-17 win over Florida State.
· Turner Gill and the Kansas Jayhawks. They bounced back from last week’s disaster against North Dakota State to beat Georgia Tech 28-25
· Joe Lefedge, CB, Rutgers: 2 blocked punts – 2 forced fumbles – 1 interception – 19-14 win at FIU.
· Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas: 28/43 – 400 yards – 3 touchdowns – 31-7 win over Louisiana Monroe
- What We Learned…
1. The ACC sucks. Virginia Tech gets embarrassed by James Madison and falls to 0-2. Georgia Tech loses to Kansas. Florida State gets blasted by Oklahoma. And Miami blows a big opportunity against Ohio State. This was supposed to be the best ACC season in recent memory, but it’s quickly become a disaster.
2. Alabama is still the best team in the country. I don’t expect that to change at any point this season. They are loaded on both sides of the ball. If they’re this scary with Trent Richardson in the backfield, just think how good they’ll be when Mark Ingram comes back. Greg McElroy continues to get better each week. And despite their defense only returning 1 starter from a year ago, they’ve already gelled as a unit and have yet to let up a touchdown this season.
3. Heisman hopes are likely over for Case Keenum and Josh Nesbitt. Keenum needed a perfect season to have a shot at the trophy, but not only did he get off to an underwhelming start, he got injured against UTEP. His status for the future remains up in the air. Nesbitt on the other hand was very shaky and inefficient as his Yellow Jackets got embarrassed against Kansas. Count him out too.
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