By Casey Keefe
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Alabama 24 Arkansas 20: We knew this was the best game of the weekend heading in, and it certainly lived up to the hype. Arkansas not only led this game for the first 54 minutes, they were in complete control. Ryan Mallett played one of the best games of his career as he picked on ‘Bama’s inexperienced secondary to the tune of 357 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Mallett also threw 3 costly interceptions, the second of which was hauled in by Robert Lester and returned back 33 yards Arkansas’ 12 yard line. 3 Mark Ingram rushes later Alabama was on top for the first time all day, 24-20.
With only 3:18 on the clock and the Razorbacks shell-shocked, Mallett tried to rally his team but was picked for the third time on a pass he tried to throw out of bounds. ‘Bama took over and milked the clock to zero thanks to a 4th and 1 conversion on a Greg McElroy sneak. The Tide took Arkansas’ best shot and still came out on top thanks to their mental toughness and ability to roll with the punches and persevere. It also didn’t hurt that Mark Ingram was able to run wild all day, rushing for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 24 carries to help overcome the 13 point second half deficit.
Mallett played his heart out, but his 3 interceptions along with no help from the running game is what killed them. This was the biggest game in Fayetteville in a long, long time. You feel for the Razorbacks and their fans. To come so close to picking up such a huge win, and having it ripped away at the last second is a crushing feeling. But credit Alabama…they proved once again why they’re the best team in the country.
UCLA 34 Texas 12: This was a shocker. Not because the Longhorns were some unbeatable team, but because I don’t think UCLA is that good. I have been very critical of Texas so far this season, so I wasn’t surprised they slipped up. However, this wasn’t just a slip up…they got whooped…by UCLA.
Garrett Gilbert didn’t help the cause for Texas, but he didn’t hurt it too bad either. I chalk this disaster up to the Longhorns putrid run defense which gave up 264 rushing yards on the day. This is the most surprising stat of all because Texas had the #2 ranked rushing defense heading into the game. You know it’s bad when you get embarrassed by a team that only passed for 27 total yards.
It wasn’t just the defense that was bad, the offense turned the ball over 5 times and couldn’t sustain any drives at all. It was an all-around disgraceful effort from the Longhorns. They’ll have to turn it around quick if they hope to contend in the Big 12. UCLA on the other hand picked up their first road win over a ranked team in 9 years.
Boise State 37 Oregon State 24: This was the last big test for the Broncos on their quest for an undefeated season. It was a test that they passed. They did so thanks to two guys in particular, Kellen Moore and Doug Martin. Moore was his usual sharp self throwing for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns on 19-27 passing. Martin meanwhile rushed for 138 yards, 119 coming in the second half. He helped abuse the Beavers weak run defense which we knew was going to be the case heading in.
Boise outgained OSU 469-235 in total yards and was unstoppable on third downs, converting 9 of 14. What kept the Beavers in this game was Boise’s miscues on special teams and their uncharacteristic penalties which stalled drives. However, the main focus for the Broncos heading into this game was stopping the Rodgers brothers and they did just that. Jacquizz was held to just 46 yards rushing and James had little production other than a punt return he took back for a touchdown before he left the game in the third quarter because of a concussion.
Despite Boise’s dominance on the stat sheet, the game wasn’t over until they went on a marathon drive in the fourth quarter which ate up more than 7 minutes off the clock and resulted in a chip shot field goal. The Broncos did their job, but now the question is was it impressive enough in the eyes of the BCS?
Oklahoma 31 Cincinnati 29: Somebody forgot to tell the Bearcats that they were supposed to get blown out. Playing at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati fought tooth and nail with the Sooners and almost came out on top. Landry Jones was brilliant throwing for 370 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he breathed life right into Cincy when he tossed a costly interception early in the fourth quarter. Zach Collaros drove his Bearcats right down the field for the score to bring them within 2 points at 24-22 with 9:45 remaining.
Unfortunately for them, any momentum that they may have gained went flying out the window a few minutes later when D.J. Woods fumbled a punt. The Sooners recovered and went on to score another touchdown which put the nail in the coffin. Fighting to the end, Collaros led another quick scoring drive to get the Bearcats back within 2. But Oklahoma recovered the ensuing onside kick with 58 seconds left and that was it. The Sooners got lucky, but managed to remain undefeated.
Auburn 35 South Carolina 27: I predicted the Gamecocks to win this game because of two reasons – quarterback Stephen Garcia and their vaunted run defense. Both were looking good through two quarters, but collapsed after halftime. Garcia was shaky under pressure and lost two fumbles. Auburn outscored South Carolina 21-7 in the second half to take a 35-27 lead with 6:23 remaining.
In came freshman Connor Shaw to try and save the day, but twice during drives into Auburn territory he tossed interceptions. With respect for the Gamecocks quarterback struggles, the biggest reason for Auburn’s win was their astounding 334 rushing yards. South Carolina came into the game only allowing an average of 60 yards on the ground. Needless to say, that unit had a big letdown and it helped cost them the game.
– With their 37-14 loss against Stanford, Notre Dame fell to 1-3 on the season, their worst start in 3 years. They’ve now lost 11 straight against ranked teams and 5 straight at home. Also sad is the fact that Stanford now has now won consecutive games over Notre Dame for the first time ever.
– I said in my preview that Temple would give Penn State a run for their money, The Owls went into the break with a 13-9 lead, but it all came apart in the second half thanks to 4 turnovers and Evan Royster going off for a career high 187 yards on the ground. The Nittany Lions squeaked by 22-13, but Temple fought hard to the end.
– Michigan got a scare when their golden boy quarterback Denard Robinson sprained his knee in the first quarter against Bowling Green. He still managed to put up 129 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns in his limited action. From there Tate Forcier (12/12 – 110 yards) and Devin Gardner (7/10 – 85 yards) carried the way. Robinson was cleared to come back in the second half, but wasn’t needed with the Wolverines in the middle of a rout.
– Behind a nasty defense and some electric special teams play, LSU knocked off West Virginia in a hard fought 20-14 win. Jordan Jefferson was miserable once again but Stevan Ridley was able to carry the show on offense rushing for 116 yards and a score.
– Arizona improved to 4-0 for the first time in 12 years after they knocked off rival California in a grind out 10-9 win. They looked to be in big trouble, getting nothing from their prolific offense until Nick Foles led a drive which resulted in the decisive score as he connected with Juron Criner to put the Wildcats on top with just 1:11 left on the clock.
– A sign of the changing times… Tennessee wide receiver Denarius Moore was carried off the field after catching the game winning touchdown in double overtime to beat UAB. I repeat…UAB. If you’re Tennessee it’s embarrassing enough that it takes you 2 OT’s to beat UAB, but to carry a player off the field?…that’s absurd.
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