>Wednesday Lunch: They did WHAT???

Posted: September 22, 2010 in ncaafb
Tags: ,

>By Dylan Davis

Unpredictable. Ridiculous. Amazing. All of these words describe something that happened this past weekend. No, it’s not about the Cowboys losing yet again as the favorite (although that’s also true). No, it’s not the Raiders recent draft history (JaMarcus Russell? Darius Heyward-Bey? A kicker in the first round?). It’s not even the fact that M. Night Shyamalan keeps making movies (How bad does Devil look?). Those words all describe the most recent weekend of college football. Week 2 was hyped up as potentially the most competitive and action-packed weekend of the year, but although it wasn’t terrible, most of the games were letdowns. Week 3 was almost the exact opposite; there was only one game between ranked teams (Arizona vs. Iowa) and that started at 10:30 pm on the East Coast. Then the games started and upsets, classics, and the Michigan State vs. Notre Dame game happened. I had to put that game in a completely different category because…actually, I’ll get to that in a second. Let’s dive right in.

 
Most Impressive Teams:

  1. TCU Horned Frogs: Later, I’ll touch on the fact that I was absolutely atrocious at my predictions for this week, and the game the Frogs were involved in was a big part of that. They faced a defense in Baylor that had not allowed a touchdown all season and had playmaker Robert Griffin at quarterback. All that was wiped out by the time there was 6 minutes left in the first half. Through the first 24 minutes of the game, the Frogs outscored the Bears 35-3 and completely dominated every phase of the game. They ran for 291 yards. They passed for 267 more. They held the Bears to 263 total yards and held the ball for more than 36 minutes. Only a junk touchdown in the 4th quarter salvaged some pride for the Bears, as they were wrecked 45-10.

  1. Nebraska Cornhuskers: Once again I put my prediction skills to the test by saying the Nebraska vs. Washington game would be not only a close game, but an upset win by the Huskies, and once again I got beaten worse than Rihanna (too soon?). From the opening kick, it was apparent that the Huskers defense was dominant and Taylor Martinez could handle playing in a hostile environment. Jake Locker went into this game as one of the favorites to be drafted number 1 overall in next April’s NFL draft. 60 minutes later the Huskers defense had so thoroughly confused and dominated the senior that his stock may have fallen out of the first round. It wasn’t just the defense, which held Locker to 4/20 passing for 71 yards and two picks and the Huskies to fewer than 250 yards of offense that helped Nebraska dominate. Taylor Martinez, Roy Helu Jr., and Rex Burkhead all rushed for over 100 yards on at least 7 yards per rush. As a team, the Huskers rushed for 383 yards and totaled 533 on offense. Their performance in this game, coupled with Texas’ less than stellar wins so far this year, have made their game against the Longhorns a must-watch and possibly made them the favorites over their conference rivals to the South.

  1. Stanford Cardinal: Most of the country probably missed this domination, and that’s a loss for Andrew Luck and the Cardinal. Against Wake Forest, they completely took over the first half and scored touchdowns on their first 8 drives and 10 out of their 11 chances in the game. Only two-missed PAT’s lost them an opportunity to score 70 after rolling up 41 points in the first half. Andrew Luck was particularly amazing as he had only six incompletions and recorded five total touchdowns. Wake Forest is not one of the best teams in the nation, but they are by no means the worst (I’m looking at you New Mexico) so this game was even more impressive based on the opposition. In the first 29:55 of the game, the Cardinal outscored their ACC opponent 41-7 and the game was pretty much over. The Oregon vs. Stanford match up has looked better and better as the season has gone on and this result solidifies it as a must-watch for all college football fans.


Most Disappointing Teams:
 

  1. Washington Huskies: After the week one contest between Utah and Pittsburgh, I said that one of the teams looked great and overachieved and one was a major flop. This past week Nebraska and Washington staged a similar type of game. It’s true that Nebraska were favorites in the game and ranked 8th in the nation. However, they had to go one the road and this was supposed to be the year that Jake Locker and Washington contended for a bowl-berth and potentially more. I already gave the details of the wipeout so I won’t go too in-depth, but I do want to point out that Washington has one of the best home fields in the country (everyone watching on TV saw the camera shaking when Nebraska had the ball) yet Washington came out flat and were out of the game almost immediately. This was their chance to show everyone that they were legit and Husky-Nation was back. They didn’t do that; in fact they showed the country that they have a long way to go to be decent. They can still make a bowl, but they will have to put this awful performance behind them first.

  1. Michigan Wolverines: I realize that I have a habit of putting winning teams in this section, but if you’re going to be in the top 20, you need to dominate teams in lower divisions. Michigan was riding high after a great win in South Bend last week and looked set up to cruise for a few weeks until they played Michigan State. I guess no one told them that Massachusetts actually has a football team. They were down 17-7 with a little over a minute left in the first half and only ended up winning by 5 points. To be fair, the offense did show up and Denard Robinson turned in another stellar performance, this time with a little more rushing help from Michael Shaw, but that’s expected. The problem was the Wolverine defense. Giving up 439 yards and 37 points is not good even when playing Ohio State, it’s even worse when UMass is the opponent. If they don’t shore up that side of the ball, RichRod may be placed on the hot seat again by the end of the year.

  1. California Golden Bears: Shane Vereen rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Most of the time when a Pac-10 team plays a WAC team not named Boise State and their starting running back has those stats, they’ll win going away. This was not one of those times. The Bears racked up 502 yards of offense but turned the ball over 3 times and did absolutely nothing against Colin Kaepernick and the Nevada offense. The Wolfpack quarterback accounted for five touchdowns and had over 100 yards rushing, but he probably couldn’t have done much better against Davis High. The Cal defense has a long way to go before their ready to compete against their Pac-10 competition and it showed in this game.



Best Finish:
Clemson vs. Auburn: Although the Michigan State game was more exciting, it was also a better game overall in my opinion, so I’m putting it in the next section. This game wasn’t expected to be much of anything. Auburn was the home team, and ranked SEC teams always seem to play better in home night games. Clemson is an ACC team (if you read my blog last week you know what that means) that has been devoid of playmakers this season and figured to have a rough time slowing down Cameron Newton. Before this game everyone predicted the Tigers would win, then they got serious and specified it would be the Tigers from Auburn that would get the W. Clemson came out fast and the shell shocked Auburn team was down 17-0 with time ticking down in the first half. Wes Byrum nailed a 35-yard field goal as time expired and that seemed to give Auburn a little momentum. The home Tigers then exploded for three third quarter touchdowns and looked on their way to victory in front of a crazed home crowd of 87,000 screaming Southerners. Clemson clawed their way back with a touchdown midway through the final period and neither team was able to put points on the scoreboard before the final whistle blew. Auburn got the ball first in the extra session and booted a 39-yard field goal. Clemson moved the ball and had a 3rd and 5 on the 10 yard-line. Kyle Parker spotted a wide-open receiver and released the ball just as he was mashed by a defensive lineman. That hit probably saved the game for Auburn, as the pass was a few inches past the outstretched hands of the receiver. A 27-yard field goal followed and both teams geared up for a second overtime. Then a flag flew. Apparently, the Clemson center had double clutched the ball when he snapped it and the freshman kicker for Clemson would have to come back out and nail a 32-yarder. With the entire stadium screaming at him to fail, Chandler Catanzaro was not able to complete the kick and the stadium exploded in delight. Auburn was lucky to escape with a win and will need a more complete game if they want to remain among the elites in the SEC. Clemson showed heart and enough all-around skill to make me think they can compete in the depleted ACC.
 

Best Games:
3. Arizona State vs. Wisconsin: The Sun Devils traveled to Madison as decided underdogs and put together a game plan that they worked to perfection. They bottled up bruising Badgers running back John Clay and kept the game within 7 points the entire game. In the end, they were undone by two plays. The first was after the Badgers scored a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first half. Wisconsin looked to go into the locker room up 13-10, but Kyle Middlebrooks had other ideas. The freshman receiver burst through the Badgers coverage team on the kickoff and looked headed for a go-ahead touchdown until he was brought down at the one-yard line. Time ran out on this play and the Sun Devils were not able to secure any more points. Then with 4 minutes remaining and down by 7, Michigan transfer Steven Threet led a touchdown drive, but the Badgers blocked the point after. Wisconsin rode Clay and the running game for the remainder, as they were able to get a few first downs to burn the clock. Arizona State showed they could play with the big boys and I expect them to pull an upset or two this year.
 
2. Arizona vs. Iowa: I highlighted this game in last weeks post and it was one of my few correct predictions. The Arizona crowd had an obvious effect on the home-standing Wildcats and a few special teams’ plays vaulted them to a halftime 27-7 lead over the favored, number 9 ranked Hawkeyes. Iowa started to put it together in the third quarter and with 9 minutes left in the game the complexion changed suddenly. Iowa put together a quick-strike drive that ended with a Marvin McNutt (one more great name this year) touchdown and the lead was cut to 6. The very next drive looked like a game changer as defensive end Broderick Binns snagged a Nick Foles pass and raced 20 yards for the score. Iowa missed the extra point and the game was suddenly tied with 8:12 left. Arizona was able to march down and score the go-ahead points on a 4-yard toss from Foles to William Wright. Iowa had one last shot at preserving their chance to play in the national title game but that was snuffed out when Ricky Stanzi was sacked on three straight plays by a furious Wildcat pass rush to end the game. Both of the teams showed they have major upside, but neither is perfect. I expect to see both in major bowls by seasons end.
 
1. Michigan State vs. Notre Dame: This was one of the best finishes I’ve ever seen, but the game that preceded it was just as entertaining. Touchdowns were traded back and forth and the lead never got higher than 7 for either team. There was scoring in every quarter and the total offense for both teams was only separated by 16 yards. The East Lansing crowd was geared up for this long-standing rivalry and they pushed the Spartans to great heights and an eventual win. Both teams had ample opportunities to score in the second half of the fourth quarter, but both were not quite able to put more points on the board so the game slipped into overtime. Notre Dame got the ball first and was not able to do enough on offense so they settled for a 33-yard field goal. Michigan State did even less; they lost 4 yards, and lined up for 46-yard attempt to send the game to another overtime. I was watching on TV and they showed the traditional camera view from behind the kicker as he was lining up to kick. The ball was snapped and the Irish looked to get a good push up the middle to block the kick. Then the holder stood up and two Spartan receivers broke downfield to receive the pass. At first it looked like both were covered and the game would end on a sack, but the defenders were tangled and Charlie Gantt broke into the clear and was thrown a perfect pass from Aaron Bates with no one around him. He waltzed into the endzone and the stadium erupted louder than it had all night. This was one of the gutsiest calls I have ever seen, and Mark Dantonio showed that he plays to win. The fact that no one expected a fake field goal form 30 yards out on 4th and 14 in overtime made this the perfect time to run it. Once again college football showed why it’s the most unpredictable and exciting sport in America.
 
Best Players:

  1. Brandon Weeden (QB Oklahoma State): Ladies and Gentlemen, this blog has gone big time! If a division-1 college quarterback is reading your blog then you must be doing something right. You may be asking yourself how I know that a quarterback is reading, and the answer is simple. Last week I wrote that Kendall Hunter had a shot at the Heisman, but his quarterback was awful so he would have to run against stacked boxes all the time. Obviously, Brandon Weeden took that to heart as he absolutely tore up this past weekend. After having mediocre stats in the first two games, Weeden exploded on Saturday against Tulsa. He completed 23/32 passes for 409 yards and an amazing 6 touchdowns. Weeden didn’t turn the ball over and led the Cowboys to a blowout win in Stillwater. Hopefully he’ll be posting comments soon!

  1. Taylor Martinez (QB Nebraska): He didn’t have the passing yardage that Weeden compiled, but he had arguably a more impressive game. He finished 7/11 for 150 yards and 1 touchdown with no picks through the air and 137 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. As a freshman quarterback, on the road in a hostile environment, Martinez showed he has poise and could lead the Huskers to a big season.

  1. Ryan Mallett (QB Arkansas): The Razorbacks field general completed 21/33 passes for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns while only getting 53 rushing yards from his teammates in a road win at Georgia. It’s never easy to go between the hedges and get a victory, so Mallett pulling his team to victory with a last minute touchdown pass was extra impressive. He’ll show how good he really is this week against consensus #1 Alabama.



Heisman Watch:

  1. Denard Robinson (QB Michigan) – 671 yards and 4 TDs passing, 559 yards and 4 TDs rushing: Robinson has been amazing all season, maybe not as amazing as this guy but still pretty good. He didn’t have quite as many yards this past week, but he still turned in a balanced performance and was so far ahead of the rest of the field that he was almost assured the top spot on this list. It seems like the Wolverine defense is not the best this year, so that should help Robinson’s candidacy because he’ll have to play longer against bad competition.

  1. LaMichael James (RB Oregon) – 361 yards and 3 TDs rushing: Those stats may not look eye-popping, but remember that James did not play in the first game of the season. James has not had a heavy workload this year and has averaged a whopping 12 yards per carry. I expect great things going forward from the Ducks sophomore.

  1. Ryan Mallett (QB Arkansas) – 1,081 yards and 9 TDs passing: Mallett showed this past weekend that he has not only the arm and the stats to put up a run for the Heisman; he also has the poise and leadership. His last minute touchdown to beat Georgia was a thing of beauty, and if he can help the Razorbacks this weekend, he can creep into the top two.

  1. Kendall Hunter (HB Oklahoma State) – 473 yards and 6 TDs rushing: He did not accumulate very many yards this past week and if he doesn’t pick up the production, he may be in danger of falling off this list completely. The fact that the Cowboys have found a passing game could be a major boost to Hunter since now defenses won’t be able to key on just him.

  1. Justin Blackmon (WR Oklahoma State) – 431 yards and 8 TDs receiving: Dez Who? Hunter’s teammate in Stillwater has put up ridiculous stats so far this year and is the top receiver by stats in the nation. If he can take the pressure of more double teams as the year goes on, I could see him creeping up this list and into the national spotlight.



Last Weeks Predictions:
I really have no explanation for what happened last week. Two of my games to watch were absolutely awful blowouts. None of my game-breakers performed up to expectations. My wild prediction was close, Air Force took Oklahoma to the wire before losing by 3, and the Iowa Arizona game was a good one, but overall I whiffed on pretty much everything. For this, I will be giving myself a 10% pay cut.
 

Extra Thoughts:
I can’t figure out Oklahoma. One week they barely beat Utah State, then they dominate Florida State, then they have to squeak out a win over Air Force. I want to see some more consistency before I trust them as a legit national title factor.
 
The Pac-10 really looks like a top-heavy league this year. Arizona, Stanford, and Oregon all look legit and all could challenge for the league title and possibly more. Arizona State, Oregon State and USC both look decent and could beat anyone at any team. After that, it’s a pretty swift drop. Cal looked to be a solid team this year until they were dismantled in Reno. Both of the Washington teams seem too stuck in rebuilding mode and UCLA will be dominated by Texas this week. This league needs to show better balance before the rest of the country takes it as seriously as the SEC.
 

Week 4 Preview
 

Games to Watch:
 

  1. Alabama vs. Arkansas: #1 vs. #10. This is Alabama’s first true test of the season (Penn State put up no fight and everyone saw that coming, so I’m not counting it) at Arkansas and I expect the sparks to fly. Ryan Mallett gets to show the nation what he can do against a top-flight defense and the Razorbacks can show it they’re for real. This game will be the centerpiece of my wild prediction, so look there for my prediction.

  1. Boise State vs. Oregon State: This could be Boise’s last true test of the season until they play Nevada and they need to make it count. The last time most of us saw the Broncos they were squeaking out a win over Virginia Tech. They will need to look a little more dominant this time if they want to stay entrenched in the top five. Oregon State has looked a small cut below most of the top 20 so far this season; I need to see more from their offense than the Rodgers brothers. Pick: Boise State-31 Oregon State-20

  1. Stanford vs. Notre Dame: This is a great measuring stick game for the Cardinal as they travel to South Bend. If they can dominate the Fighting Irish like they did Wake Forest, they can show how good they really are to the rest of the country. Notre Dame desperately needs this win to avoid losing three in a row. Pick: Notre Dame-30 Stanford-28

  1. South Carolina vs. Auburn: This is the first of many ranked SEC matchups this season and it could be special. Freshman Marcus Lattimore gets to showcase his talents to a larger audience with a defense keying on him. Cameron Newton will be looking into a very stout defense that held Georgia to 6 points earlier this year. The key to the game may be Stephen Garcia and the Gamecocks passing game, and I don’t know if they’re up to it against an SEC defense. Pick: Auburn-24 South Carolina-14

  1. West Virginia vs. LSU: This is the night game on ESPN and LSU is almost impossible to beat at night in Baton Rouge. Both of these teams have looked shaky at times this year and the Tigers offense has looked downright Bills-esque, but their defense is solid and they should be able to corral Geno Smith, Noel Devine, and the Mountaineers offense just enough to escape with a win. Pick: LSU-21 West Virginia-17



Game-breakers:

  1. Nick Foles (QB Arizona): Foles looked composed against a great Iowa defense last week, and this week he gets to match up with a Cal defense that was shredded for 500 yards by Nevada. I think Foles could total 400 yards passing if the Bears can keep it close.

  1. Ryan Broyles (WR Oklahoma): Cincinnati has had some trouble stopping the pass this year, so that should be a perfect opportunity for Landry Jones to find Broyles for a few long touchdowns. Broyles could also have an impact in the return game.

  1. Andrew Luck (QB Stanford): Luck had a superb day against Wake Forest, and he didn’t even play the entire game. The Irish offense should be able to make the game closer, but their defense is ripe for the picking. If Stanford wins a close game, expect a lot of headlines like, “Luck of the Irish!”

Wild Prediction:
 
Alabama will go to Fayetteville and beat the Razorbacks by 20 points. Last year, Ryan Mallett looked totally overmatched by the Crimson Tide defense and I expect this year to be more of the same. The Alabama offense looks even more potent with the return of Mark Ingram and I expect them to build a big early lead before cruising to a 34-14 victory.
 
That’s all the time I have for this week, come back next Wednesday for a preview of super Saturday. Have a great weekend.

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Comments
  1. >How can you say "it was one of my few correct predictions" about the Iowa-Arizona game? You picked Iowa to win 17-13. What gives? Humility?

  2. >I was right about the good game part not the score part

  3. >Miami vs. Pittsburgh, Thursday night, is a pretty solid game. Any predictions/thoughts? Dion Lewis vs. Jacory Harris…

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