By Casey Keefe
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Syracuse 31 Cincinnati 7: It might be too early to say that Syracuse is back – but second year Head Coach Doug Marrone certainly has the Orange headed in the right direction. The haters chalked ‘Cuse’s early season success up to a soft schedule, but they opened eyes for real when they beat West Virginia on the road last week in Morgantown.

Marrone knew all the good vibes and mojo would go flying out the window if they didn’t beat Cincinnati on Saturday. He made sure his team was focused and prepared as they traveled to Nippert Stadium. Any concerns that the Orange were reading too many of their press clippings disappeared towards the end of the first quarter when Ryan Nassib led the Orange on a 14 play, 80 yard drive which cumulated in his 3 yard touchdown pass to Van Chew. The score gave them a 7-0 lead, and they never looked back.

The Bearcats lost fumbles on their next two drives – both turnovers led to Orange scores totaling 10 points. Syracuse would end the second quarter with a 17-7 lead. Cincinnati mind as well have stayed in the locker room because the second half was all Orange. Nassib continued his solid play, while Delone Carter controlled the ground game, rushing for 109 yards on 19 carries.

The other side of the ball is where ‘Cuse really dominated. They blitzed Chazz Anderson all day long and were able to rattle him. Anderson was god awful. He threw an interception, was careless with the ball and had constant communication problems with his receivers. It should be noted that Anderson shouldn’t have even been playing in the first place. Their starting quarterback Zach Collaros was out with to a left knee injury.

Despite totaling just 262 yards, Syracuse was the sharp and mistake-free team (0 turnovers), whereas Cincinnati were the sloppy ones (3 turnovers). Marrone’s Orange are now 6-2 – their best start in 9 years. And they’ve now won 4 “true” road games for the first time in 14 years.

Syracuse’s start is certainly impressive, but you have to keep in mind that Cincy was without Collaros. Coming into the game the Bearcats had averaged 446 yards per game and 30 points per game. Collaros is the straw that stirs the drink for that offense. Without him, Cincy is a totally different team. It would have been a better and tougher test for the Orange had he been in the lineup, but ‘Cuse still played sharp and got the job done. That’s all that matters.

With the Orange playing as well as they are, there is no excuse for the Carrier Dome not to be sold out next Saturday against Louisville.

Oregon 53 USC 32: This was a big test for the Ducks, and they passed it with flying colors. Down 32-29 in the third quarter, they score 24 unanswered points to close out the game and pick up their eight win.

We knew this would be a tough spot, but the Ducks managed to out-duel the Trojans man-for-man in just about every facet of the game. Total yards (600-376) and rushing yards (311-113) were heavily in favor of Oregon. In addition they were able to convert 11 of 17 third down conversions.

Quarterback Darron Thomas (19/32 – 288 – 4 TD’s) played his best game in a Ducks uniform. His top target Jeff Maehl had a huge performance hauling in 8 receptions for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. The most impressive effort came from all-world running back LaMichael James who ripped loose for 239 yards and 3 scores on 36 carries.

With their first win at USC in 10 years, Oregon has now overtaken the top spot in the BCS rankings and seem to have an outstanding chance to run the table and secure a spot in the National Championship Game.

Chip Kelly spoke about his team’s mentality after the game… “We have a tendency to wear people down. I’m not into statements. I’m just into winning games”… Well said.

Iowa 37 Michigan State 6: I don’t mean to name drop, but I do happen to be close with the famous Eddie Scozzare. You’re jealous, I know. Well, Eddie and I went back and forth all week long debating this game. I told him Iowa was going to win – he thought otherwise… Well, we all see how that turned out.

In came undefeated Michigan State to Kinnick Stadium, and out they went with their first loss of the season. Iowa outplayed the Spartans man for man. Ricky Stanzi was sharp and efficient (190 yards – 3 TD’s – 0 INT’s), whereas Kirk Cousins was a disaster (198 yards – 1 TD – 3 INT’s). Coming in, Cousins had only thrown 4 interceptions – but Iowa’s defense hounded him and jumped his every move.

The Hawkeyes defense was a step ahead all game long. They keyed in on the run and were able to shut Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell down, holding them to a total of just 32 rushing yards. Cousins’ mistakes really killed the Spartans, especially his interception to Tyler Sash who pitched the ball to teammate Micah Hyde who then returned it 66 yards for a touchdown. The score gave Iowa a commanding 17-0 lead.

The lead would bloom to 37-0 before the Spartans got on the board their one and only time. It was a dominating performance by the Hawkeyes who just out-executed and out-toughed State across the board. The Spartans lost any chance they may have had at a spot in the BCS title game.

Cousins summed it up best… “Sometimes you get caught up in the glamour of everything. Everybody’s patting you one the back for being the #5 team in the country, and sometimes it can get to you”… Shame on them – they fell into the trap.

Auburn 51 Mississippi 31: As expected, the Rebels made a game of this for a short time before Cam Newton and company took over. Newton did it all once again, accounting for 3 touchdowns – including one receiving – and even making a touchdown-saving tackle after the Tigers lost a fumble.

Auburn showed their flaws on the defensive end, allowing 407 yards, 218 coming on the ground. But as bad as they’re defense was – Ole Miss was worse, allowing 572 yards including 343 yards rushing. Auburn’s success rate on third downs was off the charts, converting 9 of 13 tries.

The Rebels keyed in on limiting Newton’s damage on the ground. They did a decent job of containing him – but no one else. Freshman running back Mike Dyer rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown, while Onterio McCalebb added 99 yards (68 on one run) and a score.

The game was hanging in the balance until Demond Washington’s 95 yard kickoff return touchdown with 2:26 remaining in the second quarter. The score made it 31-17 and the Tigers never looked back.

Auburn’s explosiveness on offense was just too much for Ole Miss to handle. The Tigers improve to 9-0 and 6-0 in the SEC.

Quick Hits…

– Nebraska handed Missouri their first loss of the season thanks to Roy Helu Jr. and his 307 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. After knocking off Oklahoma, the Tigers needed to prove that they could win a big game on the road – but they didn’t as they fell 31-17 in Lincoln.

– To no one’s surprise (except Bob Heussler) Penn State beat down Michigan Saturday night in Happy Valley. Sophomore Matt McGloin filled in for the concussed Rob Bolden and did a nice job passing for 250 yards and a touchdown. But the main weapon for the Nittany Lions was Evan Royster who rushed for 150 yards and 2 scores.

– It was a very emotional day in South Bend as the Notre Dame family honored Declan Sullivan – the student videographer who tragically died after his lift tower was blown over last week at practice. The Irish couldn’t get the job done on the field, losing to Tulsa 28-27 in a game where they lost quarterback Dayne Crist early to a ruptured patella tendon in his left knee.

– Connecticut picked up a huge win as they beat West Virginia for the first time in school history. The Huskies forced 7 fumbles and 4 turnovers as they hounded the Mountaineers at Rentschler Field. Jordan Todman (113 yards – TD) led the way and Dave Teggart completed the upset with his 27 yard field goal in overtime, giving the Huskies the 16-13 victory.

Check back tomorrow for my Tuesday Top 10 and Heisman rankings…

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