College FB Week 6: 14 Thoughts from 14 Hours

Brett HustonContributor IOctober 9, 2007

Icon Sports Media14. Most impressive win of the day: Ohio State 23, Purdue 7

Ohio State has had more talented teams go on the road at night and lose in hostile, alcohol-fueled environments.

But it was crystal clear from the opening drive that that wouldn't be the case with the 2007 squad.

Granted, Purdue wasn't the 2005 Penn State team or 2003 Wisconsin bunch that upset top-five Buckeye teams under the lights—but to essentially shut out an offense as capable as the Boilers' is rather impressive.

Todd Boeckman had the best three-interception performance you'll ever see. He also threw a beautiful touch pass to Ray Small that got Ohio State the only score it needed to walk out of West Lafayette as the Big Ten's team to beat.

This group is conjuring memories of OSU's 2002 National Championship squad—they may not be the most talented team in the school's history, but they find ways to win.

That said, the win at Purdue was more than than a survival job—it was a beat-down from the moment Brent Musburger told us that we were, indeed, "LOOKING LIVE AT ROSS-ADE STADIUM IN WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA!"

Runner-up: Missouri 41, Nebraska 6

13. Least impressive win of the day: Virginia 23, Middle Tennessee State 21

After not showing up in its season-opening 23-3 loss at Wyoming, Virginia has somehow since convinced 15 coaches that they were the No. 25 team in the country.

How they'd make their case?

Well, how about needing a fourth-quarter touchdown to put away Duke in a game in which the notoriously vanilla AP recap described Virginia's special teams' play as "wretched?" Or was it the two-point win at North Carolina the following week? The five-point win at home against Georgia Tech that featured a blown two-touchdown lead?

No, surely it must have been the whitewashing of a terrible Pitt team last week.

Whatever it was, the Cavs' two-point escape against MTSU—in which UVA needed a field goal with eight seconds left to secure the win—proved that not only do coaches not pay attention to how a team won...sometimes they don't pay attention to who a team played.

Granted, this one took place in the college football hotbed that is Murfreesboro, TN. But if I'm Bob Stoops or Mike Bellotti or whomever and I see that Virginia barely beat a 1-5 team from the Sun Belt, I'm probably not going to be ranking the Cavs for a while.

Runner-up: Arizona State 23, Washington State 20...but that's better than the...

12. Worst loss of the day: Stanford 24, USC 23

We can debate until we're blue in the face whether this is indeed the biggest upset in college football history, but here's my take on it:

If you even vaguely followed college football, you knew that Appalachian State was a two-time defending national champion, albeit in I-AA, and at the very least were intrigued to see how they'd fare in the Big House against Michigan.

No one saw the upset coming—but there was the chance of it's being one of those games where Goliath hangs with David for two-and-a-half quarters.

And it turned out to be much more than that.

But conference rivalry and tradition be damned—not a soul alive would have ever imagined a Stanford program that has hit rock bottom more often than Britney Spears' career (Hi Mike Patrick!) in recent years coming within 30 at USC, let alone beating the Trojans.

John David Booty isn't Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush isn't in the backfield...but for the nation's best defense to give up a fourth-and-20 to give the Cardinal a chance? And a fourth-and-10 to give Stanford the lead?

I classify it like this: In 10 years, which upset will be remembered more? Appalachian State, no ifs, ands or buts. But for actual shock value, I'll take Stanford's win every day of the week—and twice when the polls come out on Sundays.

Michigan was a paper champion. USC had at least looked worthy of being No. 1 or 2. Not anymore.

Runner-up: Tennessee 35, Georgia 14

11. Best game of the day: LSU 28, Florida 24

This one may be the best game of the season when all is said and done.

Florida was clearly the better team for about 50 minutes of this game—but unfortunately for the Gators, you have to play 60 strong if you want to win in Baton Rouge.

Tim Tebow wasn't great statistically, but he owned the game for most of the first three quarters. Meanwhile, LSU went for five fourth-down conversions in this game—and probably would have lost had they just gone 4-for-5.

Throw in the fact that Les Miles has at least eight fake field goals floating around in his playbook, and no one can accuse the Tigers of being boring.

While Miles was busy being ballsy, Urban Meyer apparently forgot that you can't cash in timeouts at the end of the game like they're glass soda bottles at a depository in Michigan.

The Florida coach foolishly waited to call his first timeout until late in the drive where LSU took the lead...and then the Gators showed the urgency of an 86-year-old woman in the canned goods aisle of a grocery store on their last possession.

The credit belongs to LSU for pulling out a game in which it by no means played its best football, but a large part of me wants to see these teams play again on a neutral field. You have to think that, anywhere other than Tiger Stadium, Florida walks away with the win.

That wish may just come to fruition—but to see the Tigers in the SEC Championship Game, Florida can't afford to lose again.

Runner-up: Kansas 30, Kansas State 24

10. Craziest game of the day: Cincinnati 28, Rutgers 23

We finally got to see what happened when Cincinnati faced a little adversity—and the Bearcats passed their test with flying colors.

In a game that featured a surprising amount of offense, Cincy trailed 17-7 at the half, but Ben Mauk was the difference in leading the ‘Cats back after halftime.

The Wake Forest transfer threw a pick-six early, but he rebounded with two big TDs in the third quarter to turn what was a six-point deficit into an eight-point lead.

Meanwhile, Mike Teel threw three interceptions and Cincinnati's defense prevented Ray Rice from any big plays on its way to starting the season 6-0.

Rutgers is far from the disappointment that Louisville has been, but the Scarlet Knights already have two losses, and they've yet to play a road game this year. Cincinnati should be unscathed heading into the unlikely Big East game of the year on Nov. 3 at South Florida—likely our last chance to see two undefeated teams square off in the regular season (unless UConn can somehow last even longer).

Is the Big East the best conference in the country? No way—but it might be the most exciting.

Runner-up: UTEP 48, Tulsa 47

9. Who beat Temple this week?

While many of you were probably watching the start of the Red River Shootout or Georgia-Tennessee, the under-the-radar (okay, off-the-radar) game of the week was concluding in Philadelphia.

The Owls welcomed Northern Illinois to Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday—and kicked a field goal with nine seconds left to notch a 16-15 win, snapping an eight-game losing streak and ending a stretch in which Temple had lost 27 of 28.

Granted, the win was due in large part to the Huskies' missing an extra point midway through the fourth quarter, but Temple doesn't care if they're leaving the dance with the prom queen or the chubby girl with a lazy eye and a lisp—a win is a win.

We'd love to give this spot to 0-6 Florida International, but the Golden Panthers are off next week, as is winless Utah State. North Texas emailed us its resume earlier this week in hopes of nabbing a spot at No. 9 on our list....and pending their result against a woeful Louisiana-Monroe team this week, the Mean Green may get their wish.

8. Who beat Notre Dame this week?

It can't be! Both of our perennial doormats rose to the occasion and won in the same week?

Talk about taking the fun out of this column.

To Notre Dame's credit, they went into the Rose Bowl and won. But they mustered just 140 yards, their lone touchdown drive was a lengthy two yards (the other score coming on a 33-yard fumble return), and, well, UCLA is pretty lousy.

In addition, the Bruins turned the ball over seven times while the Irish somehow held onto the football for all 60 minutes.

Considering the Karl Dorrell employment watch has been under way since the 44-6 pasting at the hands of Utah, we're keeping the Irish right here until they beat someone slightly more convincingly.

As with Temple in the above paragraph, a win is a win—but this game was just flat-out hideous from every angle.

Notre Dame welcomes No. 4 Boston College to South Bend this weekend, and if the Irish can somehow stop Matt Ryan and the Eagles, they'll be permanently saved from lurking here at No. 8 on our list.

7. On the rise: Florida State, Kansas, Indiana

Xavier Lee gives the Seminoles versatility in the pocket, something they've been lacking since Charlie Ward won the Heisman. And the defense is still a force.

No one knew what to expect from Kansas given the quality of the Jayhawks' competition, but they went into Manhattan and scored a big come-from-behind win in a rivalry game against a solid K-State team.

Indiana has to be the feel-good story of the season. Following coach Terry Hoeppner's tragic death in the offseason, seeing the Hoosiers go to their first bowl game since 1993 would be extremely inspiring.

This kind of start has been the story in Bloomington in a number of recent seasons (play well out of conference, then fall off the map). But Kellen Lewis and James Hardy should be enough to get them a trip somewhere warm in late December.

6. On the decline: Nebraska, Michigan State, Miami (Fla.)

Boy, it sure doesn't seem like the Huskers are 4-2, especially considering they were blown out in every sense of the word by USC and Missouri and came within a kitten's whisker of losing to Wake Forest and Ball State.

This is quickly becoming a bad football team with no defense to speak of—and Beau Bridges, er, Bill Callahan, may find himself looking for work sooner than later.

We thought the annual Michigan State freefall was a thing of the past now that Mark Dantonio is at the helm, and certainly the Wisconsin loss was nothing to be ashamed of. But giving up 48 points in losing to home?


As for Miami—kudos for coming back from 27-0 down to make a game of it in Chapel Hill, but how the hell are you down 27-0 in Chapel Hill in the first place?

This team has serious quarterback issues and seems to be lacking a big-play threat.

5. Which conference embarrassed itself the most this weekend?

"And if USC loses at home next week to Stanford, this paragraph will disappear and I'll deny its existence forever." — A direct quote from last weekend's "Which conference made itself proud segment"

Like Alex Rodriguez winning the AL MVP (a regular-season award, by the way), this pick was the easiest slam dunk of the season.

The Pac-10, given much love in this spot recently, came up smaller than a one-legged midget in a high-jump contest on Saturday.

Were the USC loss to Washington or perhaps even Oregon State we could speak to the quality of the conference's depth. But Stanford hasn't just been a doormat in recent seasons—this is a team that would have struggled to compete in a decent I-AA conference.

Few doubted that Jim Harbaugh would eventually right the ship, but winning in L.A. with a backup quarterback is simply stunning.

Meanwhile, as bad as USC's loss was, UCLA's turning the ball over seven times and losing to Notre Dame is right up there, and Arizona State barely survived a lousy Washington State team.

The two teams we think we have figured out, Cal and Oregon, were idle.

4. Which conference made itself proud?

The SEC is rounding into shape, though as you can see from this paragraph from last week, thinking you know anything from week to week in college football is a bit perilous.

After LSU and Florida, the SEC's middle tier consists of everyone not named Vanderbilt or a from Mississippi, and any game featuring two of those seven schools is legitimately a toss-up these days.

Arkansas has some work to do to prove it belongs, but we're cutting the Razorbacks some slack for now. If they get smacked around by Auburn at home this week, we may have to drop the Hogs into doormat territory for the time being.

3. Trying to take a peak at the big picture while remembering that one week ago, despite all the tumultuousness of the season, we had a cut-and-dried 1-vs.-2 slated for season's end...

Lots of folks think it's ridiculous that USC dropped to just seventh in the coaches' poll, and while I tend to agree, I believe a common thought process in filling out a ballot goes something like this:

"Do I trust team A to beat team B if all things are relatively equal?" 

Sure, you could drop USC to No. 17, but does anyone think Wisconsin or Hawaii would beat the Trojans?

That said, if USC ends up sneaking back into the national championship picture, no matter how impressively they may beat Arizona State, Cal, or Oregon...they still lost to Stanford.

Putting them into the BCS title game after that would rival Oklahoma's being included after losing by 28 in the Big 12 Championship, or Nebraska's making the cut following a 26-point shellacking at Colorado.

The big question now concerns how high South Florida can finish. And the answer should be No. 1 or No. 2...but I'm willing to bet that if an Oklahoma or possibly an Oregon runs the table, they'll jump the Bulls even if USF goes unscathed.

And maybe that's what the playoff proponents should hope for. Better yet, hope USC runs the table and sneaks in. Because there'll be no defending putting them in over an undefeated South Florida after what went down in L.A. on Saturday.

Another factor in the championship race is the perception of Ohio State following last year's title game meltdown. Right or wrong, the Big Ten isn't exactly winning people over, considering Michigan's recent collapses and the Buckeyes going from invincible to invisible against Florida.

If both Ohio State and Cal are undefeated, it's going to be awfully hard for Tressel's boys to pass the Bears. Part of that will be due to Cal presumably holding an advantage in the polls, but a larger part may be due to the fact that Ohio State doesn't seem to have a worthy challenger in its conference, and the possibility of the Buckeyes' not showing up for a title game again.

The latter perception is ridiculous, but in a sport where the media helps determine who the two best teams are, don't count it out.

2. Top five games to watch next weekend, plus an arbitrary Heisman top five, considering that voting for a "healthiest fast food" may be easier at this point:

Missouri at Oklahoma, LSU at Kentucky, Auburn at Arkansas, Wisconsin at Penn State, Colorado at Kansas State

1. Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois

2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas

3. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech

4. Mike Hart, Michigan

5. Glenn Dorsey, LSU

1. Top 10 teams through 10/6:

1. LSU

2. Ohio State

3. California

4. South Florida

5. Boston College

6. Oregon

7. Florida

8. Oklahoma

9. Missouri

10. South Carolina


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