Week 10 Recap
Here are some of my observations on the weekend that was in college football.
1. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Callahan were fired Monday morning.
Sorry, but Nebraska’s 76-39 loss at Kansas was one of the more disgraceful performances I’ve seen in recent years. Whatever the Jayhawks wanted to do on offense, they went ahead and did, and they did it with ease. Not to take anything away from the now 9-0 Jayhawks (fourth in the latest BCS rankings), but it was pretty evident that guys flat-out quit during that game for the Nebraska defense (the most points ever given up by Nebraska). It’s a terrible thing to question a player’s heart and effort, and when it comes to that then something needs to be changed. Any chance of Callahan being brought back in 2008 (not like many of us believed that he had a shot anyway) went up in flames in Lawrence.
2. For all the talk about Matt Ryan and Dennis Dixon, watch out for Darren McFadden in the Heisman race.
Saturday marked the first weekend in November, and it may be the beginning of yet another November hot streak for Arkansas’ junior tailback. After a torrid start from teammate Felix Jones, Run DMC got into the act as well, finishing with 321 yards on 34 carries and a rushing touchdown. Oh yeah, he also threw a twenty-three yard touchdown pass. Last year, McFadden got hot late and ended up leading the Hogs to the SEC Championship Game. While Arkansas is pretty much out of that race, he could be well on his way to New York City.
Almost forgot, Felix Jones has to be the most underrated player in America. Thirteen carries for 166 and three scores, and another 65 yards on two kickoff returns. If he’s not in the same backfield as McFadden, then maybe we’re talking about him in the Heisman race.
3. Arizona State finally gets burned by their “slow” starts.
All the talk the past couple of weeks had been about how good of a second half team Arizona State is. But many failed to note their schedule up to Saturday’s showdown in Eugene against Oregon. Well, they fell behind early again, this time 21-3, but the “Autzen Zoo” and the talented Oregon offense proved to be too much to handle. Rudy Carpenter was a gamer, despite the injured thumb, but you could tell how much pain he was in at time, especially when he had to handle snaps from the shotgun. While the Sun Devils out-gained the Ducks 489-400, Oregon was the picture of balance with 200 yards on the ground and through the air. Offensively, ASU was better throughout, but it was Oregon’s big play ability that got them the win.
4. Didn’t they once refer to Miami as “Quarterback U”?
Let’s just say that yesterday’s performance by Kirby Freeman won’t go into the Miami annals alongside greats such as Kelly, Kosar, Testaverde and Torretta. Freeman went 1-for-14 for 84 yards, with one touchdown and three picks. The one completion ended up being the Hurricanes’ lone touchdown of the afternoon in a 19-16 overtime loss to NC State. Kyle Wright sat this out with an injury, giving Freeman the opportunity to show his stuff. Whoops. And with their final three games being against Virginia, Virginia Tech and Boston College, the 5-4 ‘Canes are in serious danger of joining Notre Dame on the couch come bowl season.
5. Navy ends the streak at 43!
It took the Middies stopping a two-point conversion in the third overtime to get the job done, but after forty-three straight defeats at the hands of Notre Dame how they did will not matter. The 46-44 ballgame was one of the day’s more exciting affairs, and given the porous state of the two defenses, I can’t say that was much of a surprise. Notre Dame, with 375 yards in regulation, had by far their best offensive showing of the season. Evan Sharpley was efficient if not spectacular, and the two teams combined for just two turnovers in a game that was well-played for the most part. And did anyone think that Navy’s final scores in overtime (the touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion) would come by way of the pass? The nation’s top rushing offense called the same connection twice: Kaipa-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada to Reggie Campbell. This was a game that the Navy family will remember for some time to come, regardless of Notre Dame’s record.
6. Texas does it to Oklahoma State…again.
Seems to be a familiar theme in this Big 12 South matchup: OK State jumps out to a huge lead, only to watch the Longhorns stampede back and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Thanks to 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, Texas beats the Cowboys 38-35 in Stillwater. Ryan Bailey knocked home a 39-yard field goal as time expired to get the win for the Longhorns, and knocked the Pokes out of a first-place tie in the process. Oklahoma State had firm control of the game at the half, scoring a touchdown to make it 28-14 just before the intermission. But Mack Brown and his team weren’t worried one bit, even after another score made it 35-14. As he astutely pointed out to the ABC sideline reporter after halftime, they’d never lost to Oklahoma State on his watch. Prophetic indeed.
7. Hurricane Noel…and the Seminoles rain on Boston College’s parade.
It was a great week to be in Boston. The Red Sox wrapped up their second title in four years, the Patriots were headed into a showdown with the Colts, and the Celtics won their opener with KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen together on the court. But the Eagles’ national title hopes, along with the Heisman hopes of their quarterback, got a good bit of press this week as well. Florida State, on the other hand, didn’t show up in Chestnut Hill to help Matt Ryan add some additional lines to his resume, picking him off three times in their 27-17 road win. Yes, Ryan threw for 415 yards, but given how picky Heisman voters have become when it comes to winning games along with the fact that Dixon won a big game and McFadden went off, this race has become a lot more interesting. As for the ACC Atlantic, BC got some help earlier in the day when Wake Forest fell to Virginia. The key will be staying on task despite the disappointment because they’re still in the driver’s seat. But this is an experienced team, so that should not be much of an issue.
And which team benefited the most from this result? None other than the much-maligned Tommy Bowden and his Clemson Tigers, who still get Boston College at home in two weeks. They’re only a game out right now, so you never know what can happen between now and then.
8. The wheels may have fallen off for South Florida.
Three straight losses are tough enough, but it’s how they lost 38-33 to Cincinnati on Saturday that boggles the mind. Eight turnovers…and they still somehow had a chance to win the game at the end. At least they didn’t discriminate with the miscues, tallying four fumbles and four interceptions. The one thing this season in the Big East has taught us is just how important turnover margin is. Three Big East teams are ranked in the top six nationally in turnover margin (Cincinnati, Connecticut and West Virginia), and sure enough there they are atop the conference standings.
9. Virginia pulls out yet another close ballgame.
Amazingly, the Cavaliers are 6-1 this season in games decided by five points or less, with the most recent win coming against Wake Forest 17-16. Sam Swank missed a field goal as time expired, but many inside of Scott Stadium had to have known that the home team was going to pull this one out. They don’t beat you with flash on offense, but the Wahoos have one of the better defenses in the ACC, led by All-America candidate Chris Long at defensive end. What makes their run all the more surprising is that they’re a middle of the pack team when it comes to turnover margin, ranking 62nd nationally, something you normally don’t see out of teams with such a high success rate in close games. Two games remain on the schedule, at Miami and a home meeting with in-state rival Virginia Tech. Two wins to a championship, and if it’s close late, pick the Cavs.
10. My Top 5 after Week 10:
1. Ohio State: Beanie Wells helps take care of Wisconsin in the second half.
2. Oregon: As long as Dennis Dixon’s knee is OK, the Ducks are in good shape.
3. LSU: Hard-fought win at Alabama in “Saban Bowl I”. Two wins and they’re off to Atlanta.
4. Kansas: Hung 76 on Nebraska; next is a trip to dangerous Stillwater.
5. Oklahoma: Is there a better freshman in America than QB Sam Bradford?