It’s a week of ghastly costumes and other ghoulish accoutrements… so of course, we’ve got a great soundtrack for all of our friends.
Well, the powers that be didn’t decide to market this weekend’s games as a “Separation Saturday”, but it ended up looking that way at the end of the day. Two more undefeateds fell, two others were challenged, while the top four continued to extend their apparition of domination.
Let’s start with the “Columbia Cup” between the Ol’ Ball Coach and this year’s “SEC Surprise”, the Missouri Tigers. I’ve been pulling for the Tigers all season for several reasons: It has been rumored to be a landing spot for Coach Herman if Pinkel was dismissed, and I love the fact that two “middle of the pack” B12 teams join the mighty SEC and play at the top almost immediately.
The Tigers didn’t disappoint early on, jumping out to a huge lead in their spiffy “blackout” gear. However, once Gamecock QB Connor Shaw came off the bench (recovering from a knee issue from last week) the tide turned and the game ended up heading to overtime.
While there’s still a huge chance that the Tigers can play a role in the BCS, it may only be limited to being a spoiler at this point… but they’ve got some games to play yet, including mathups with Old Miss and aTm before they might face Alabama in the conference championship game.
The second “thanks for playing” award this week goes to a young Texas Tech team, which lost their first contest of the season at Oklahoma. After a lengthy weather delay that resulted in the game being shifted over to Fox News in lieu of World Series coverage, the Fighting Stoops figured out how to get out of their own way and managed to corral the Raiders’ high flying offense… although, it should be noted that Cliff Kingsbury’s team is very young, and will be a contender at the conference level sooner than some would like to admit.
Of the two schools that almost saw their dream seasons derailed, Miami’s “challenge” was the one that was most readily handled. Wake Forrest was in control of the game for much of the first three quarters, but you had to know that a team that was making catches like the one on the left there and also like this had all of the mojo going for it.
Hey, did you know that Florida was a state where football was important? If so, can you please tell the rest of the folks that live there?
Also a “football state”? California. While I understand that the Trojans are struggling, I’ve never seen the ‘Shoe that empty even during dismal years. This is also the land of “Laker Flags” and “Dodger fans” that only show up in June/September, respectively… Sigh. To think- the empty seats saw another inspired effort by Southern Cal as they beat the team that upset Stanford.
Elsewhere in SoCal, Ohio State fans were up late Saturday night hoping that Buckeye victim San Diego State could hold on and upset Fresno State’s undefeated season. In a game that included one of the strangest fumble recovery touchdowns that I’ve ever seen, of course the Aztecs had their last second field goal attempt blocked, and then fell in overtime. Kickers, man. The Bulldogs remain loss-less, and I still don’t give a damn.
Hit of the week, episode one, comes from Clemson rolling Maryland:
The five other undefeated teams had no problems this past weekend: Oregon held off an early effort by UCLA to eventually wear down the Bruins and blow up the scoreboard in a 42-14 win in Eugene. It’s looking like there might be a rematch in December, barring another Stanford upset of the Ducks… and I think that the results will be the same. Oregon is a well oiled machine, and I can’t think of anyone who’s playing as well as Marcus Mariotta in their system across the country.
My dream matchup for Oregon in the post-season should be well known by now- I want Oregon and Baylor to see if they can’t set the scoreboard on fire, similar to the last time that the Bears met a team from the Northwest. Baylor had no problem with Kansas on Saturday, in spite of the Jayhawks decided schematic advantage. Hell, Baylor had 505 yards of offense… in the first half.
When you watch the Bears, you can totally see why Chip Kelly would risk his career for Baylor back Lache Seastrunk… when he runs the way that he’s able, he’s worth every penny that Willie Lyles asked. If you don’t think so, just ask Kansas fans from this weekend.
Hit of the week, episode two, from undefeated Florida State’s beatdown of North Carolina State:
Alabama won handily against Tennessee, which had to make this
guy person ecstatic. We’ve now got another “fun with the transitive property” moment, as Oregon pounded Tennessee 59-14 earlier in the year, while the Tide “only” managed a 45-10 victory on Saturday. Granted, the Volunteers have really begun to play inspired football recently, but you’ve got to wonder if Alabama could keep up with the Ducks on the field.
Oh, and Alabama’s big out of conference win? Yup, lost to Duke, and not in basketball.
Also in the SEC: Vanderbilt helped aTm recover from their loss to Auburn last week with inspired plays like this great 15 yard punt. Seriously. Thank God for Cameron Johnston.
In the B1G, it’s looking more and more like the Buckeyes will be facing Michigan State in Indianapolis for the B1G title. If so, it’ll be an interesting matchup, as the Spartans are playing a version of “Tressel-ball” this year- solid defense, surprising offense. One of the surprises was this week’s win over Illinois- not that there was ever a question who would emerge victorious, but the offensive output by Sparty was something that hasn’t been seen in a while. Like the Hurricanes from earlier, they just had some magic going in Champaign on Saturday.
Northwestern dropped their third straight game in an overtime loss to Iowa. While I fully believe that Ohio State broke the Wildcats, I’m also considering the possibility that the Hawkeyes helped Coach Fitzgerald’s team Break Bad.
Northwestern next travels to Nebraska, where the Barcalounger has gotten really toasty for coach Bo Pelini, particularly after Saturday’s loss to Minnesota. As someone who watched a large portion of the game, I fully believe that a) the Husker defensive front four is not getting the push that they are used to, and this is hampering the Blackshirts overall and b) it was a mistake to not let Taylor Martinez run more in the game. I know that he’s recovering from turf toe that’s held him out for 3-4 weeks, but he’s still the Huskers’ best weapon. When he’s stationary, bad things happen.
Since the rumors are swirling about Pelini’s ouster, let me reiterate again that this year would NOT be a good time to make a switch, given that Southern Cal and Texas will also be looking. BUT… if a change is in order, might I humbly suggest something that Saturday’s game pointed to… a former penguin.
Hit of the week, episode three, courtesy of the team at Eleven Warriors:
Couple of big plays from small schools- Great catch at “Ball So Hard” University, and a D3 punt return from Ohio’s Muskingum’s win over the Student Princes of Heidelberg.
A few important games to watch this weekend, including a battle of unbeatens when Florida State and Miami resume their rivalry. “Little Brother” travels to Ann Arbor for what’s sure to be a civil, warm, and friendly competition. Georgia and Florida meet up in the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party“, and guns will be blazing as the Cowboys and Red Raiders’ offenses try to outdo each other in the B12.
As has become a great tradition, we’ll end by highlighting TBDBITL from Saturday. Let me just say this: 1) There’s only one home game left for them to knock it out of the park, and B) They’ll have four weeks (@Purdue, Bye, @Illinois) to prepare. I’m pretty confident that it’s going to go plaid.