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Casey’s Call: College Football – 1 Is The Loneliest Number

Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Tom Wort (21) walks away as Missouri Tigers celebrate a 3-yard touchdown run by teammate James Franklin during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 36-27. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Tom Wort (21) walks away as Missouri Tigers celebrate a 3-yard touchdown run by teammate James Franklin during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 36-27. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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By Casey Keefe
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Missouri 36 Oklahoma 27: Number 1 has now lost three weeks in a row. This time around it was the top ranked BCS team Oklahoma dropping a prime time inter-conference game to rival Missouri.

For the second straight week the number 1 team let up a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the game. Last week Wisconsin did the deed against Ohio State – this week Gahn McGaffie did the honors taking it to the house 86 yards… The Sooners would settle down, but the tone had been set. Missouri had come to play.

Both offenses were on full display. Tiger quarterback Blaine Gabbert was phenomenal, throwing for 308 yards and a TD on 30/42 passing. His counterpart Landry Jones put up nice numbers as well (303 yards – 3 TD’s), but threw 2 costly interceptions – both led to Tiger scores.

We also saw great performances out of each team’s star receiver. Ryan Broyles hauled in 8 catches for 110 yards, but Jerrell Jackson stole the show with his 9 receptions for 139 yards and a score. Jackson was able to get behind the Sooners defense time and time again, and Gabbert found him every time.

This was a back and forth game that Missouri never seemed to lose control of. Oklahoma needed to deliver blows to take the crowd out of the game and put some doubt in the Tigers heads, but they never did. Missouri was just a step ahead at all times it seemed. The Sooners have been plagued by sloppiness and defensive letdowns all season long, and those problems reared their ugly heads once again on Saturday night.

I’ve never been a huge fan of this Sooners team. They should have never been ranked #1 in the BCS. They are very flawed and were overdue for a slipup. But give credit to Missouri – they were a team ready to take the next step and they proved that on Saturday. When push came to shove, they knew how to close out the game as evidence by their strong fourth quarter – outscoring Oklahoma 16-6.

Missouri is now 7-0 for the first time in 50 years.

Wisconsin 31 Iowa 30: This was the game I was most looking forward to and it certainly lived up to the hype. A crucial Big 10 battle between two heavyweights in late October – doesn’t get much better than that.

As expected, this was a hard fought, back-and-forth contest which went down to the final minute. The crucial series in this game came midway through the fourth quarter with the Hawkeyes up 30-24 and Wisconsin desperately needing an answer. The Badgers drive stalled, and up came a 4th and 4 from their own 26 yard line. It was here where they executed a perfect punt fake, with punter Brad Nortman busting up the middle for 17 yards and a first down.

Wisconsin would complete another fourth down on the drive which ultimately resulted in a Montee Ball 8 yard touchdown run with 1:06 left which gave the Badgers a 31-30 lead. The 8 minute, 15 play, 80 yard drive has already become legendary in Madison. Before Ball punched in the go-ahead score, Wisconsin had converted 3 third downs and 2 fourth downs… Now, that’s what you call getting it done.

Despite only 66 seconds left on the clock, Iowa still had a chance. Ricky Stanzi drove them down to Wisconsin’s 39 yard line and the Hawkeyes took their last timeout. They weren’t quite in field goal range yet and needed a few more yards – so with 12 seconds left Stanzi dropped back and flipped the ball to an open Adam Robinson who attempted to scamper to the sideline but was taken down in bounds. The clock ran out and that was it, Wisconsin had pulled off the upset.

Ricky Stanzi (25/37 – 258 yards – 3 TD’s) and Adam Robinson (23 carries – 114 yards – TD) did everything they could for Iowa, but Wisconsin proved to be a little too tough for the Hawkeyes. This was most apparent up front in the trenches where the Badgers got the best of Iowa. James White left in the second quarter with a leg injury, but John Clay (24 carries – 91 yards – 2 TD’s) and Montee Ball (decisive score) managed to carry the load.

The Badgers have their second marquee win in as many weeks and remain in great shape in the Big 10. It’s not easy to win in Kinnick Stadium, but they managed to pull it off. The Heartland Trophy makes the move across the border to Wisconsin.

Auburn 24 LSU 17: As expected, the Cam Newton show was on full display against the Tigers Saturday. He rushed for 217 yards and 2 TD’s and may have taken the lead in the Heisman race. At 6-6, Newton is just a beast to deal with as he proved once again against LSU.

Auburn rushed for 440 yards on the day thanks to Newton and freshman Mike Dyer (100 yards). The Tigers were also able to take away LSU’s biggest weapon, running back Stevan Ridley. They knew Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee wouldn’t be big threats at quarterback so they zoned in on Ridley and held him to just 37 yards on 12 carries. Auburn’s defense was fantastic overall just allowing 243 yards on the day.

LSU hung in the game thanks to a little trickery in the fourth quarter when Rueben Randle hauled in a 39 yard touchdown pass on a flea flicker. This knotted up the game up 17-all and gave LSU renewed life. Unfortunately for them there was way too much time left on the clock for Auburn and the Tigers struck quick as Onterio McCalebb broke off a 70 yard go ahead touchdown run which gave Auburn back the lead, 24-17, with 5:05 remaining.

Les Miles’ idiotic play calling cost LSU any chance for a comeback… Facing a 4th and 6 on their own 30 yard line with 3:27 left, Miles elected to go for it, showing no confidence in his defense… Jarrett Lee tried scrambling for the first down but was stopped short. A few Cam Newton first downs later, the clock was milked and the game was over.

Auburn is now 8-0 and 5-0 in the SEC. They are very much alive in the national championship picture thanks to their star quarterback.

Michigan State 35 Northwestern 27: I knew this was going to be a tough spot for the undefeated Spartans. Northwestern is no joke this year, and they proved that again on Saturday.

When push came to shove, Kirk Cousins was there to save the day for Michigan State. He led the decisive drive in the 4th quarter – trailing 27-21 – he threw for 98 yards on 7/8 passing and hit B.J. Cunningham for the go-ahead score. The marathon drive put an exclamation mark on another great day for Cousins (329 yards – 3 TD’s), Cunningham (8 receptions – 113 yards – TD) and fellow receiver Mark Dell (9 receptions – 107 yards – 2 TD’s).

Northwestern wasn’t dead just yet, but any legitimate attempt they had for a comeback was squashed by Edwin Baker’s 25 yard touchdown run with 1:07 left and Eric Gordon’s game sealing interception… Plenty of times this season the State defense has had to pick up the offense – well on Saturday, the offense had to pick up the defense. That’s what a team is all about.

The Spartans are now 8-0 and 4-0 in the Big 10. They’ll put their perfect record on the line next week in a showdown against Iowa.

Iowa State 28 Texas 21: The Longhorns proved once again that they’re a fraud. Despite last week’s dominating win over Nebraska, Texas managed to lose at home to Iowa State. It was the Cyclones first ever win over Texas who’s now lost consecutive home games for the first time in 13 years.

What doomed the Longhorns was their typical sloppiness (4 turnovers) and atrocious run defense. Iowa State rushed for 199 yards on Texas’ “stingy” unit, with Alexander Robinson accounting for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns himself.

The Cyclones had a commanding 28-6 lead in the fourth quarter. It was then that Garrett Gilbert finally decided to show up. He engineered a couple scoring drives to make the game close, but it was too little too late. All in all, Gilbert was a disaster, throwing 3 interceptions including 1 in the end zone… The long year continues for Mack Brown and company.

Quick Hits…

- Syracuse football is back!… Doug Marrone picked up the biggest win of his Orange career as ‘Cuse knocked off #20 West Virginia 19-14 on the road. The Orange defense was tremendous as they clamped down in the second half, holding the Mountaineers scoreless. ‘Cuse is now 5-2 for the first time in 9 years and West Virginia’s 12 game home winning streak is a thing of the past.

- Nebraska bounced back nicely from their disastrous loss last week against Texas. Taylor Martinez regained his Heisman form, tossing 5 TD’s in their 51-41 shootout win at Oklahoma State.

- Notre Dame continues to be owned by Navy. The Irish were embarrassed 35-17 at the Meadowlands for their third loss in the last four meetings against the Midshipman. They just cannot stop Ricky Dobbs and the triple option.

- Tough time continues for the heavy-hearted Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Chas Dodd was sacked 7 times and held to just 62 yards passing in Rutgers 41-21 loss to Pitt.

Check back tomorrow for my Tuesday Top 10…

Questions? Comments? Email me: ckeefe@wfan.com

Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @CaseyKeefeWFAN