College Football 2008: The Week of the Upsets
This past week, the college football world noticed an astonishing turn of events. USC lost its golden armor, UGA lost its strength, Florida lost its super powers, and the rabid Badgers could not handle the rabid Wolverines.
This past weekend was the end of the road for one team and the beginning for some.
Let's start with USC and Oregon State. USC came into this game with Oregon State a little big-headed. Everyone was talking about how they would run the table in the Pac-10 and that there wasn't a team that could stop them this season.
Well, Oregon State heard what was being said and didn't like it one bit. Oregon State jumped out to a 21-0 lead on the Trojans and went from there.
The problem for Oregon State was that they began to play, "Let's not lose the lead by turnovers" and instead went three-and-out on their next four possessions.
USC, on the other hand, took their first two possessions in the second half and made it a seven-point game. Oregon State would intercept a Mark Sanchez pass and lead to a touchdown, but if it weren't for that, it could've been a win for USC.
The lesson: if you're beating a team at the end of the first half, continue doing what was working. If you're winning because you're attacking, don’t stop.
Next we'll go onto the battle between Georgia and Alabama. There isn't much that can be said about this game. Alabama came out ready to play, and Georgia didn't.
Alabama took a 31-0 lead on UGA and then Saban came down with a case of “conservativitis.” The Tide would only score 10 more points, that proved to be enough against the Bulldogs. The final score was 41-30, with UGA scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes.
Another lesson of what could possibly happen when you become too conservative. Had Alabama not scored those 10 points, we would be looking at a 31-30 game where UGA would probably take the extra point on the first of their last two touchdowns leading to a 32-31 Georgia win.
Granted, Alabama scored 10 points so that isn't really a factor, but the point is you can't just change your game because you're winning in the first half.
Keep doing what was working until the other team stops it, or until there is not even close to enough time for that team to come back on you.
Now we're onto Gainesville, FL, the site for the Rebels and Gators' shoot-out. Florida would have problems with their offense, which would cause three fumbles and two turnovers on downs.
Ole Miss threw one interception and had one turnover on downs, but would have a field goal and four touchdowns to make up for that.
The game was over when Urban Meyer decided to take a chance on fourth-and-one, instead of giving their senior kicker (who hasn't missed a field goal this season) a chance from 49 yards.
Florida had the lead going into the half, but Ole Miss came out in the third quarter and scored 17 unanswered points to take the lead by seven again.
In the fourth quarter, Florida scored to tie it, but Ole Miss would take a seven-point lead again. Florida drove down the field and put the ball in the end zone but had their extra point blocked. Florida would get the ball at the end of the game for a chance to win, but they would fall just short.
The lesson here is that no matter how good your team is, you can always be plagued by turnovers.
Our final stop is in The Big House, where Michigan was playing its 500th game, against the undefeated Badgers.
Wisconsin took a 19-0 lead going into halftime. Michigan had lost four fumbles and thrown an interception, all in the first half. A lot of people had figured, "Jeez, this game is over. It's 19-0, and Michigan's turned it over five times."
Don't tell that to Rich Rodriguez and his team, though. The Wolverines came out in the second half with passion for the football. With a little over two minutes left in the third quarter, Kevin Koger would receive a Steven Threet pass for a touchdown making it 19-7.
With a little over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter Brandon Minor raced for a 34-yard touchdown run, and suddenly it's a five-point game.
The first play of Wisconsin's ensuing drive would give the Wolverines their first lead of the game, as linebacker John Thompson took an interception for a touchdown. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Sam McGuffie punched in a two-yard run giving the Wolverines a 27-19 lead.
The game wasn't over yet, though. Wisconsin scored with 19 seconds left in the game and only needed a two-point conversion to tie it up. Everidge got the two-point conversion, but to an ineligible receiver.
The illegal man down-field penalty forced Wisconsin to go back five yards and attempt it again. This time, the pass was too high and would lead the Wolverines to a 27-25 stunning comeback.
The lesson here is that no team is ever out of a game until that final whistle blows.
None of these teams are out of the National Title picture by any means. The only one that could basically consider their hopes gone is Wisconsin.
The Badgers dropped to No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Poll. Florida is down to No. 12, UGA to No. 11, and USC to No. 9.
Florida and Georgia have the best chances of getting back up there if you go by strength of schedule, also assuming neither one of them loses again. Granted one of them will lose again when they play each other, but whichever one of them goes undefeated will have a good chance at it.
USC, on the other hand, has a great shot at it, but they will have to hope that teams lose and that they win the rest of their games. Nonetheless, it's looking like it will be another interesting season.
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