By Casey Keefe
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Week 5 in the world of college football sung a familiar tune. We headed into the weekend with a plethora of marquee matchups, but very few of them actually lived up to the hype. However, despite the lack of drama, we saw some big statements made. The biggest of which was made in Tuscaloosa…
Alabama 31 Florida 6: The Tide put on a show Saturday night for all of those who had any inklings or doubts that they were not the best team in the country. This game played out the way I thought it would. We all knew both defenses would be strong, but ‘Bama’s was just on a whole other level. They only sacked John Brantley once, but they harassed him all night and layed some solid hits on him. They gave up nothing on the ground, successfully taking the banged up Jeff Demps out of the game.
Brantley and the Gator offense were out of sync all night and committed 4 turnovers. This game was over early quite frankly. ‘Bama drove right down the field on their opening possession and cashed in a field goal. The Gators then needing a statement put together a nice drive which stalled towards ‘Bama’s goal line. They faced a 4th and goal from the 2 yard line and Urban Meyer didn’t hesitate to keep the offense on the field. They wanted to set the tone with their all-everything specialist Trey Burton who tried his best Tim Tebow impersonation on a jump pass, but it was picked in the endzone by the Tide. The game for all intents and purposes was over at this point.
‘Bama quarterback Greg McElroy wasn’t great, but he commanded his offense and was mistake-free. Mark Ingram was held to 47 yards, but did cash in 2 touchdowns. Despite what 31 points would lead you to believe, ‘Bama won this game with suffocating defense and not explosive offense. However, they were smart, crisp and mistake free with the ball. The exclamation mark came late in the third quarter when C.J. Mosley had a 35 yard pick-6. It capped off another day at the office for the best team in the land.
Oregon 52 Stanford 31: This is another game that played out the way I expected. We knew there wouldn’t be a lack of offense and that rang true as 1,150 total yards were gained between the teams. The final score is not indicative of how the game started. Stanford raced out to a commanding 21-3 lead in the first quarter and looked to be heading towards a blowout. But Oregon got their act together and clawed back behind star running back LaMichael James (257 yards, 3 TD’s) and young quarterback Darron Thomas who outdueled his counterpart Andrew Luck in terms of efficiency, as he totaled 255 yards and 4 TD’s.
Luck was solid, but he threw 2 costly interceptions which stalled the Cardinal. Once the Ducks got rolling they didn’t look back. Very rarely do you see a second half dominated by one team the way we saw in Eugene. After the rough first half, Oregon out-scored Stanford 28-0 over the final 2 quarters. The key sequence came in the 3rd when Luck hit receiver Chris Owusu who was then hammered by Javes Lewis around midfield…the ball popped loose, and was recovered by Oregon who took it down to the Cardinal 3 yard line. James finished the job, pounding the ball in for the score which gave the Ducks their first lead of the game at 38-31. Luck tossed a pick on the ensuing drive and Oregon took complete control.
The madness was capped by James who broke off a 76 yard touchdown run with 1 minute left in the ballgame. The score bloomed to 52-31, and Oregon prevailed behind their prolific offense and a dominating second half defense as they knocked off their biggest Pac 10 competitor in convincing fashion.
Oklahoma 28 Texas 20: The Sooners dominated much of this game, but almost let it slip away. They jumped out of the gate and set the tone. DeMarco Murray was brilliant all day (115 rushing yards, 2 TD’s), as was Landry Jones (236 yards, 2 TD’s). They built a 21-7 lead in the second quarter and grabbed complete control of the game. The lead would grow to 28-10 in the early 4th before Texas finally woke up.
Garrett Gilbert played like garbage up until this point, but got it going in the final quarter. He led a couple good drives, the first of which resulted in a touchdown, the second ended with a field goal which cut the Sooners lead to 28-20 with 1:39 left. After a quick stop, the Longhorns were set to get the ball back with a minute remaining. The game was up for grabs, but so was the ball after Aaron Williams muffed the punt which was ultimately recovered by Oklahoma. The Sooners ran out the clock and that was that.
The better team won this game, but it didn’t come easy. The Sooners made it hard on themselves and needed a muffed punt to seal the win for the second week in a row. Texas has now lost 2 straight games for the first time since 2007, and they are out of the AP top 25 for the first time in 162 weeks, which had been the longest running streak in the country.
Michigan State 34 Wisconsin 24: I was wrong on this one. I thought Wisconsin matched up well and would make a big statement in the Big 10 by knocking off the Spartans in East Lansing, but I was wrong. Missing Mark Dantonio for the second straight week – this time with a blood clot in his leg – State played an inspired game and came away with a huge victory.
A couple big plays helped State turn the tides and win this game. The first being Keshawn Martin’s 74 yard punt return touchdown in the second quarter which at the time gave State a 13-10 lead. Then just before the half, quarterback Kirk Cousins connected with Mark Dell for a touchdown on a drive which featured an enormous 4th down conversion. The score sent State into the break with a 20-10 lead.
Wisconsin would ultimately cut the lead to 27-24 early in the fourth quarter, but State held on largely in part to a 15 play, 84 yard drive which took 8 minutes off the clock and cumulated with Cousins third touchdown of the day. It was a disappointing loss for the Badgers who were unable to get much going on either side of the ball and couldn’t take advantage of State’s 3 turnovers. But credit State – they were the better team and with the win are now 5-0 for the first time in 11 years.
LSU 16 Tennessee 14: The Tigers were lucky to hold onto this one. The key sequence obviously came at the end of the game with LSU down 14-10 – time was running out and they needed a touchdown. Facing a 3rd and goal from the 1 yard line, LSU was downright confused. They let nearly 30 seconds tick off the clock before they snapped the ball. When they finally did, the snap was mishandled by quarterback Jordan Jefferson, the ball was loose and a pile up ensued. The clock struck zero and the Vols rushed onto the field in celebration. Hold up!… Tennessee was called for 13 (not 12, but 13!) players on the field.
After the penalty, LSU had one more play. They took full advantage of their new life as Stevan Ridley pounded the ball into the end zone for the game winning score. Talk about getting lucky – that was LSU for you. They win a game they had no business winning, against a downright awful Vols team. They were sloppy on the day committing 9 penalties and 4 turnovers, but thanks to the penalty at the end of the game, they were able to survive.
You can never take an SEC win for granted, but this wasn’t pretty for LSU. It was a fish, you’d throw it back.
- Same old song and dance for Rutgers. They come into the season with big expectations but still find a way to disappoint. Their 17-14 homecoming loss against Tulane was inexplicable. They looked like a JV team, committing dumb penalty after dumb penalty. They were very sloppy on special teams and were caught with their pants down everytime Tulane ran a trick play. We may have a quarterbacking change on our hands. Tom Savage left the game in the second quarter and didn’t return. It wasn’t just an injury that kept Savage on the sideline – it was his disgracefully inefficient play. Panic time in Piscataway?…I think so.
- Iowa had no problem at all taking care of Penn State, as they chalked up their largest win ever over the Nittany Lions (24-3). The Hawkeyes had a great game plan, zoning in on Evan Royster and holding him to just 56 yards on the ground. State couldn’t sustain many drives and were shut down for the majority of the game. The final stand came on a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line in the third quarter when Iowa was able to stuff freshman quarterback Rob Bolden. That was the nail in the coffin. Despite their slip up a few weeks ago against Arizona, there’s no doubt that Iowa is for real.
- Notre Dame played with the sense of urgency I expected in their 31-13 victory over Boston College in Chestnut Hill. They raced out a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and didn’t look back. BC thought they were going to get a spark from freshman quarterback Chase Rettig who was making his debut, but he left with an ankle injury in the second quarter and so did BC’s chances of pulling off the upset. Now standing at 2-3, the Irish will face an equally desperate Pitt Panther team next week.
- It was just another day at the office for Michigan star quarterback Denard Robinson who totaled 494 yards and 5 touchdowns against Indiana. What made these numbers extra impressive was the fact that Michigan only held the ball for 18 minutes! As if the numbers weren’t mind-blowing enough, Robinson was also able to save the day as he rushed in for the game winning touchdown with 17 seconds left, giving the Wolverines the 42-35 win.
- Finally a great game for Washington quarterback Jake Locker who led the Huskies to a 32-31 upset win over USC. He passed for 310 yards, rushed for another 110 and put together a gutsy drive at the end of the game which resulted in Erik Folk’s game winning 32 yard field goal as time expired.
Check back tomorrow for my Tuesday Top 10. I have a feeling I’m going to differ in opinion from the fine folks involved with the AP.
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