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NCAA Football: Washington Stuns USC…and Those Other Games, Too

Sean WagmanContributor ISeptember 20, 2009

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies celebrates with free safety Nate Williams #8 after defeating the USC Trojans 16-13 on September 19, 2009 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Eric Folk's FG lifted Washington to a shocking 16-13 win over #3 USC.

Today we got a good look at why Pete Carroll is using Matt Barkley as his starting QB as the Aaron Corp-led USC Trojans were wiped out in Seattle by an overachieving Washington Huskies team. UW was coached by none other than former Carroll assistant Steve Sarkisian, who engineered the right defense to stop USC’s offensive juggernaut.

UW is a year removed from one of the ugliest seasons in school history, an 0-12 campaign. Now, all of that has become nothing more than a painful memory as they join the list of unlikely Pac-10 schools to trip up USC, joining Oregon State from last year, and Stanford from two years ago.

For USC, this might not necessarily mean the end of their national title hopes, but it’s certainly an unexpected and devastating blow for a team that was coming off yet another big victory in Columbus over Ohio State.

They are almost forced to bring Barkley back as soon as possible and bring some confidence to an offense that was simply outplayed by the Washington defense, making three bad turnovers that allowed the Huskies to hang around and pull the upset.

Looking back eastward, it may not have been the predicted beatdown that was expected, but it can’t be argued the the top-ranked Florida Gators handled Tennessee with relative ease. 

In a game that was a lot more a case of grit than glits and glamour, it was the Florida defense that played the biggest role, showing the limited ability of the Tennessee receivers to get open downfield and making very difficult on Vols QB Johnathan Crompton all day, who finished an almost unnoticable 11/19 for 93 yards and two INTs. 

The big story that came out of this one though might be Tim Tebow’s final numbers, or rather the lack thereof. The Heisman hopeful looked rather pedestrian and even a little confused by the defensive schemes shown by Tennessee. Add in the two turnovers that he had—which led to 10 of Tennessee’s 13 points—and Tebow’s Heisman chances just declined a little bit.

Speaking of Heisman, Jahvid Best is giving his best effort to get himself into the conversation with an unbelievable five-TD performance at Minnesota to stop the Golden Gohpers 35-21. From what I saw from Cal and USC today, I would be circling Oct. 3rd on the calendar as their head-to-head matchup might determine the Pac-10 champion this year.

Also of note would have to be the death of several non-BCS conference teams’ hopes of an undefeated season this year. Utah suffered a 31-24 loss in The Autzen Zoo to the Oregon Ducks, who look like they’ve finally gotten it back together after the Boise State debacle.

With BYU getting waxed by the Florida State Seminoles 44-21 in Provo, it looks like it’s going to be up to Boise State once again to carry the torch for the unlikelies to reach a BCS bowl this year. Considering the Broncos' remaining schedule, though, it really wouldn’t surprise me to see them undefeated and going into another big bowl game, and this time you’ll be certain not to underestimate them.

In another thrilling finish, the Virginia Tech Hokies escaped losing twice at home in a ranked foe, scraping past Nebraska 16-15, in a game that will be mostly remembered for its offensive ineptitude than anything else. Nebraska once again failed to get into the end zone in a big game, limited to five field goals despite controlling most of possession throughout this battle. 

On the other side, Va. Tech took an eternity to get their offense going yet again, with Tyrod Taylor looking both uncomfortable in the pocket as well as afraid to throw a bad pass, at times. This led to the Hokies having a laughable offensive output of 278 yards, 91 of which came on the game-winning drive and 80 of which came on one play in the final drive.

Yet, as they’ve been asked to do time and again, the Tech defense went above and beyond expectations in keeping the Nebraska offense at bay. They did get a good bit of help in the fourth quarter, when a Nebraska drive got down to the Va. Tech six-yard line, only to have the Cornhuskers commit 30 yards worth of penalties to force an unlikely punt. At the end of the day though, it sets up another battle for the Hokies, who now prepare to take on a resurgent Miami team next Saturday in a battle for ACC supremacy.

 

Cupcakes of the Week: Once again, the Capital region gets the dubious honor of having two of the biggest underachieving programs in the nation in Maryland and Virginia. Both teams ended up on the wrong side of games put on the schedule that were supposed to be easy wins. 

The Terps proved to be as soft as the Pillsbury Doughboy when they folded 32-31 at home against Middle Tennessee State, while the Cavaliers lost 37-34 at home to Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles are usually one of Conference USA’s better teams—but that’s just it, they’re in Conference USA, which might be the second weakest conference ahead of the Sun Belt. 

I give out one more dubious honor to the Washington State Cougars, who almost found a way to lose, this time just barely winning in overtime against SMU. Southern Methodist hasn’t been good since the late ’80s, when they were the top of the Southwest Conference, only to have the program receive the death penalty from the NCAA due to serious violations. 

Somewhere out there tonight, Drew Bledsoe is watching the highlights of his alma mater and thinking “Man, I played better than this when I was with the Bills!”

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