College Football 2011: Best and Worst of Week 4
It's a somber thought that the 2011 college football season is already a third complete.
Thankfully, for college football fans (well, those outside New Mexico), this season keeps on getting better.
This past weekend featured several battles against highly ranked teams, thrilling comebacks, shocking upsets, jaw-dropping statistical performances and staggering blunders
So what does it all mean?
Quite simply, this sport continues to get better.
So without further adieu, here now are the best and the worst of Week 4.
Best: Denard Does What Denard Does
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It speaks to the incredible talent of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson that he can complete 44 percent of his passes with a pedestrian 6-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last three weeks and still be considered a true Heisman contender.
Playing to what's become a familiar script, Robinson overcame his aerial deficiencies by running for 200 yards and three touchdowns as the now 4-0 Wolverines handed a good San Diego State their first loss of the season.
As great as Robinson was, a tip of the cap must also go the the Michigan defense, who held the dangerous Aztec offense led by Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman to just seven points.
Robinson and company now have a very favorable schedule ahead of them if they can successfully navigate their next two games, which mark their first road trips—Northwestern and Michigan State.
Best: Clemson Roaring Up the Rankings
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One week ago, the Clemson Tigers ended Auburn's winning streak as quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns, earning a No. 21 ranking in the process.
For the second straight week, the Tigers hosted a ranked team, this time No. 11 Florida State. The Seminoles were coming off their heartbreaking loss to No. 1 Oklahoma last week and their vaunted defense was primed to take out their rage on Clemson.
Boyd had other ideas.
Helped by the injury to Florida State starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, the Tigers raced out to a 21-10 halftime lead.
Spearheading the attack was Boyd, who had another sterling game. The sophomore threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns and added 31 yards and a touchdown rushing.
The Tigers are now 4-0 for the first time since 2007. With 1,255 yards, 15 total touchdowns and just two interceptions, Boyd may now start getting some darkhorse Heisman attention. If he can lead the Tigers to a win over Virginia Tech next week, that horse won't stay dark for long.
Best: Bama Blasts Hogs
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The state of Alabama is home to the last two national champions, and on Saturday, one of those teams made a statement that the trophy may not be crossing state lines any time soon.
The third ranked Alabama Crimson Tide hosted No. 14 Arkansas on Saturday and administered a beating to the Razorbacks in every way.
Arkansas came into the game averaging 517.3 yards and 47 points per game. Those numbers shrank to 226 and 14, respectively, as Alabama's vicious defense dominated all game long. The Razorbacks only rushed for 19 yards.
Alabama's Heisman hopeful running back Trent Richardson nearly matched Arkansas' offensive output singlehandedly. He ran for 126 yards and had 85 yards receiving, including a 61-yard touchdown, in leading the 38-14 victory.
Best: Devils Exorcise Demons
Nov. 6, 1999.
That was the last time that Arizona State had beaten the USC Trojans. With USC coming in ranked at No. 23 and the Sun Devils stinging from a mistake-filled road loss, many expected the Trojan winning streak to hit 12.
Many of those were Trojan players, who spent the week trash talking about the Sun Devils through the media, with USC quarterback Matt Barkley calling star ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict a "dirty player."
As you can see in the photo, Burfict heard Barkley's words.
Rather than stoop to name calling, Burfict and his teammates let their play do the talking in a battle of what most consider the Pac-12 South's two top teams.
Burfict made his first career interception off of Barkley, and ASU running back Cameron Marshall ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns, including a 70-yard touchdown on his first carry, to lead the Devils to a dominating 43-22 victory.
The win puts the Sun Devils firmly in the driver's seat in the South, with a key Oct. 8 battle with Utah looming ahead.
Best: Video Games Come to Life
Saturday saw some truly unfathomable statistical performances, so let's run down the list of the remarkable.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III had another fine effort in what is becoming a legitimate Heisman campaign. He threw for 338 yards and five touchdowns without an interception as No. 15 Baylor trounced Rice 56-31. Those in itself are impressive, but it's his season numbers that are amazing. For the year, Griffin has 13 touchdown passes and 12 incompletions. It's little wonder he leads the nation in passer rating at 236.2.
Hawaii's Bryan Moniz had only four touchdown passes through the first three games, which is very un-Hawaii-like. He remedied that in a hurry on Saturday, by throwing for 424 yards and seven touchdowns. In the first half. Yes...in a half. He did not see action in the second half of Hawaii's 56-14 win over UC Davis.
Before last weeks' 204-yard effort, Oregon's LaMichael James had only gained 121 yards in two games against FBS teams. He broke out of that slump with a school-record 288 yards against the lowly Arizona Wildcats, leading the way to the Ducks' 56-31 win.
Giving some love to our boys in uniform, Air Force destroyed Tennessee State 63-24, a notable feat in itself, but looking at the yardage numbers it's a wonder they didn't hit 100. The Falcons amassed 792 yards of total offense, including 592 yards rushing (Georgia Tech laughs at that figure).
Worst: Maryland's Comeuppance
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For weeks, the University of Maryland has subjected the eyes and the sensibilities of a college football nation to their abominations they like to call "uniforms."
They unveiled their latest, a black-and-yellow pairing that would seem to be more at home in a NASCAR pit crew, against a Temple team that had lost their last two meetings with Maryland by a combined 54 points.
The Terrapins entered the game as 9.5-point favorites and most expected that to be a conservative spread, with the game being held in Maryland.
Enter Bernard Pierce.
The Owls' junior running back was dominant, rushing for 149 yards and five touchdowns in helping Temple embarrass Maryland 38-7. Pierce scored four of his touchdowns in the first half as the Owls came out and posted a 31-0 lead.
While the Owls soared, the Terrapins played as bad as they looked.
Worst: Texas A&M's Third Quarter
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Texas A&M was hosting their first game between teams each ranked in the Top 10 since 1975 and were looking to solidify their standing as an elite team when they battled with the explosive offense of Oklahoma State.
The Aggies were doing a great job early on and led at the half 20-3.
Unfortunately, they insisted on playing the second half.
The Cowboys unleashed their arsenal of weapons in the third 15 minutes and, in that time frame, were able to three touchdowns and gain 290 yards. Yes, all in one quarter.
In the process of Oklahoma State's stunning 30-29 win, Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden set school records for both completions (47) and passing yards (438).
The Aggies sure do miss Von Miller.
Worst: Big East's Big Blunder
Toldeo was giving Syracuse all they could handle in their game on Saturday and led 27-23 late in the fourth quarter.
However, the Orange took the lead on a Alec Lemon touchdown catch that gave Syracuse a 29-27 lead with 2:07 remaining, with the extra point forthcoming. However, the kick went wide off the foot of kicker Ross Krautman, yet the officials on the field signaled it was good.
To the booth, where the replay officials would seemingly correct this error.
The Big East crew inexplicably upheld the call on the field, so when the Rockets managed a field goal as the clock expired, the game went into overtime instead of a Toledo victory.
Syracuse eventually won the game 33-30 and the Big East admitted their error after the fact, but that's of little consolation to Toldeo, who fell to 1-3.
Worst: South Carolina's Quarterbacking
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Has there been a team as talented as No. 10 South Carolina with such a black hole at quarterback?
With an offense featured future NFL stars in Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery and a defense featuring playmakers at every level, a promising season may be undone by the shockingly bad level of play the Gamecocks are getting from their quarterbacks.
Saturday saw the oft-troubled Stephen Garcia toss four interceptions to Vanderbilt. Yes, Vanderbilt.
Thankfully, that talented defense held the Commodores to just 77 total yards of offense, and Lattimore compiled 150 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in South Carolina's 21-3 win.
While they can survive four interceptions against Vandy, they will surely fall once they are waist-deep in SEC play.
Worst: Mike Locksley Gets the Boot
Generally, this weekly column is reserved for on-field performance. However, what's happened in New Mexico is worthy of inclusion.
Since his arrival as head coach, Mike Locksley has compiled a 2-26 record, including a dreadful 0-4 mark this season. His defense is ranked next to last in the nation, a mark made worse by the 48 points surrendered Saturday to Sam Houston State.
Now, putting that horrific record aside, next to allegations of punching an assistant coach and sexual harassment paints a pretty grim picture. Yet what happened this weekend forced the UNM administration to finally let Locksley go.
Potential recruit Joshua Butts was arrested for drunk driving after he nearly hit a pedestrian in a car belonging to Locksley.
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