College Football Week 10: Michigan, West Virginia & the Worst Early Performances
You would not know it by turning on ESPN, but there were football games today outside of LSU and Alabama. This morning there were several entertaining games for college football fans.
In the early games, there were several alleged contenders that were proven to be pretenders. Many of these teams had BCS bowls and conference championships within their grasp but now will need help to obtain their goals.
Here is a list of the early-morning games' biggest losers.
West Virginia Moutaineers
West Virginia started the season well. At one point, they were 5-1 with their only loss coming to No. 1 ranked LSU. However, they have now been defeated in two of their last three games, including today's 38-35 loss to Louisville.
Geno Smith was once again spectacular, completing 31-of-44 passes and three touchdowns. However, even Smith’s spectacular offense will not be enough to carry this team.
The loss to LSU was understandable. However, their two recent losses have come to Louisville and Syracuse, who have a combined record of 10-8.
The Mountaineers further proved what we already knew—they don’t play defense in Morgantown.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss’ game against the Kentucky Wildcats today was supposed to be the one game that Ole Miss should win. And for a while, it appeared it was going to be that way.
The Rebels went into the third quarter with a 13-10 lead. However, the Wildcats outscored Ole Miss 20-0 in the fourth quarter, stilling their will and perhaps driving a nail into the coffin of head coach Houston Nutt's career at Ole Miss.
Freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith was sensational in his first career start, completing 19-of-36 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Kentucky moved to 1-4 in SEC play, and Ole Miss dropped to 0-6.
The Rebels have three remaining games against La Tech, LSU and Mississippi State. Ole miss is likely to finish the SEC season without a win, and if they overlook La Tech, they could finish the season with an overall record of 2-10.
At the start of the day, the Cornhuskers had the inside track to the inaugural Big Ten championship game. They were tied with Michigan State with one conference loss. However, they owned the tiebreaker.
The Cornhuskers entered the game ranked No. 10 in the BCS rankings and No. 9 in both the AP and Coaches polls. Instead of playing like a top-tier team, they were defeated 28-25 by Northwestern, who entered the game with an unimpressive 3-5 record.
More embarrassing for the Cornhuskers was that Wildcats starting quarterback Dan Persa went down with an injury in the second half, but they were then dominated by backup Kain Colter. Colter completed 4-of-6 passes for 115 yards and three total touchdowns.
Bo Pelini had his team primed for a BCS bowl game, but now they will have to have a great deal of help.
No one can deny that the Vanderbilt Commodores are playing much better football under first-year head coach James Franklin. However, at some point, moral victories become shallow.
The Commodores have lost three straight heart-breakers in SEC play. They were defeated by Georgia (-5), Arkansas (-3) and now Florida (-5).
To this point, Franklin has had the Commodores believing that they could beat these teams. However, after three straight daggers, they might start feeling like the same old Commodores.
Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps has only rushed for 336 yards all season headed into today’s game. However, he rushed for 158 yards against the Commodores.
Jordan Rogers has been a bright spot for the Commodores, but in the end, Vandy is still Vandy.
I was one of the few taking up for Michigan over the last two weeks. Critics argued that Michigan had not played any team worthy of a higher ranking. I countered that they had destroyed everyone they played except for Michigan State, which was a road game.
They had a chance to silence the critics today. Instead, they were defeated by the Iowa Hawkeyes 24-16. It is clear that Michigan is a better team under their first-year coach. However, they are not yet ready to start winning big games on the road.
With remaining games against Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State, they still have time to prove their worth. But I am no longer sure if they are ready to compete for the Big Ten championship.