Saturday, September 30, 2006

College Football Week 5 Wrap

There were some pretty exciting games this weekend, especially if you count last night's Rutgers/USF thriller. My predictions fared, mmm, okay at 3-2. I just had my upset special in the wrong place. Let's look back at Week 5.

* Ohio State hacks up Hawkeyes
MY PICK: OSU 27-21 SCORE: OSU, 38-17
So much for the "tough game" the Buckeyes were supposed to get when they travelled to Iowa City and for date with the hungry Hawkeyes. The well-oiled machine that is the Ohio State offense carved up the Hawks for dinner, amassing 400 total yards, 214 on the ground, and the impressive Buckeye defense recorded 3 more interceptions in the 21- point win. All of the OSU playmakers contributed in this one: RB Antonio Pittman, 117 yds & 1TD; Tedd Ginn Jr., 102 total yards; QB Troy Smith, 206 total yards & 4 TD passes, 2 to emerging star receiver Anthony Gonzalez; and stud LB James Laurinaitis continues to make Buckeye fans forget about AJ Hawk & Bobby Carpenter; Laurinaitis intercepted his 4th pass of the season, and the OSU defense has tallied 11 picks in 5 games. Right now the Bucks are in prime shape to run the table until their season-ending date with Michigan on Nov. 18th.

* Gators get by 'Bama thanks to big 2nd half

MY PICK: UF, 31-17 SCORE: UF, 28-13

The Gators continue to win (5-0), but are not the offensive powerhouse many had predicted when the Urban Renewal Plan started. Florida actually trailed 10-7 at the half and it could have been a repeat of last season's humiliating 31-3 beatdown in Tuscaloosa. But the Gators and QB Chris Leak got hot in the 2nd half and the defense made the win easier with 2- fourth quarter INTs. Leak is not the right quarterback for Meyer's system, but freshman stud Tim Tebow is. Tebow can pass and run, and despite Leak's career- long 45 yard rush today, Tebow is the man who will make this offense click. That's why despite Leak's prolific career numbers, I look for Tebow to take over as soon as the Gators start losing games, which WILL happen in the next 3 weeks (LSU, @ AUB, UGA)

* Yellow Jackets sting Hokies at home
MY PICK: V.TECH, 34-31 SCORE: G.TECH, 38-27
Well I had everything pegged for an upset but for some reason still chose to go with the Hokies at home- the reason why I don't gamble. G.Tech QB Reggie Ball was the more poised & experienced player on the field , and he did avenge his two losses to Va. Tech. Ball accounted for 210 yards and 2 TDs, both to WR Calvin Johnson and the Yellow Jackets beat the Hokies at their own game-they blocked a punt to set up a short TD drive and then used a sack/forced fumble to score a backbreaking TD right after the break. That made it 31-13, and if the Hokies don't tack on a couple of cheap scores late this beating would have looked even worse than it was. Hey, I even warned to watch for the blocked kick- just didn't know it would be G.Tech doing the blocking.

* USC escapes Pullman with victory
MY PICK: WSU 24-21 SCORE: USC 28-22
My upset was there for the taking by the pesky Cougars, but they did not follow rule No. 1 of beating a top-ranked team: convert your red zone opportunities into touchdowns, not field goals. Washington State had the Trojans on the ropes early, but an 11 play, 55-yard drive 5 minutes into the game ended at the USC 17 in a FG, and USC countered with a TD just 3 plays later. Then after a John David Booty fumble near the end of the 1st quarter the Cougs drove 31 yards in 8 plays to the Trojan 17, again, and again had to settle for a 35-yd FG. Deja-vu anyone? It was that way all night as USC did not miss star wide out Dwayne Jarret as overlooked receiver The other Steve Smith contributed 186 yards & 2 TDs in his absence. A tough test passed by Booty and the Trojans, and it should be smooth sailing for them until their brutal 3- game stretch in mid-November when Oregon, Cal, and the Irish all travel to LA, ranked and ready.

*Irish down a few Boilermakers
MY PICK: ND, 42-20 SCORE: ND, 35-21
Speaking of The Irish, this was my closest pick of the day as ND took out their frustrations on an overmatched Boilermaker squad in South Bend. QB Brady Quinn continued the hot streak he started in the 4th quarter last week in East Lansing, going 29-38 for 316 yards & 2 TDs. RB Darius Walker ran for 144 yds & a score, and WR Jeff Shark Samardjzija ran for a score on a fake FG attempt in the Irish romp. Underrated senior receiver Rhema McKnight also contributed 120 yards & 2 scores as the Irish used a Boilmaker shot to cure what was ailing them. But a troubling fact for the Irish faithful to consider: they allowed 497 total yards to Purdue, 238 of them on just 8 receptions by Selwyn Lymon. Luckily for the Irish they now enjoy the cake part of their schedule until their finale at USC Novemeber 25th.

*Spartans stunned again, this time by Illini
Obviously Michigan State was still feeling the after effects of the 4th quarter Green storm that blew through East Lansing last Saturday night. How else can you explain them losing to a 1-3 Illinois team, 23-20, once again at home? As if blowing a 16-point 4th Q lead last week to the Irish wasn't bad enough, now the Spartan faithful have to deal with the humiliation of losing to a team that hadn't won a league game since 2004! Coach Jon L. Smith got the dreaded 'vote of confidence' before the season, but that confidence has surely eroded after these 2 disheartening losses. Maybe he should've gone across the sideline and asked Illini coach Ron Zook how to handle the hot seat.

* Indiana wins despite on-field loss
Wisconsin may have bludgeoned the Hoosier team on the scoreboard,52-17, but nothing could replace the feelings that the Indiana players and fans must have had in their hearts when coach Terry Hoeppner ran out on the field with his team to start the game. Hoeppner has made a miraculous recovery after a 2nd brain operation in less than a year, the most recent surgery taking place just 3 weeks ago. So despite the loss, the fact that these kids can look to their coach as a source of inspiration & motivation will help them get through something more important than a football game; as corny as it sounds, Terry Hoeppner is truly an inspiration for these kids lives.

* Georgia escapes again; can you say 'overrated?'
The Bulldogs may be undefeated still, but it's not for lack of trying. One week after squeaking by winless Colorado at home, 14-13 on two 4th Q TDs, they tried to lose to a terrible team again. The beleaguered Bulldogs, rotating 2 freshman QBs due to an injury to senior slinger Joe Tereshinski III, trailed the now 1-4 MSU Rebs 3-0 at the half and needed an early 4th Q TD to seal the win. That's because the D allowed a 49- yard score from Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer to Largo's Dexter McCluster with 6 minutes remaining. Georgia didn't put it away until a late interception of Schaeffer as they were driving for a potential winning score. Number 10? Maybe for now. But if Tereshinski doesn't return soon, with upcoming games at Tennessee (next week) and at Florida(Oct. 28) they won't be there for long.

RB runs for over 300 yards
You may never have heard of Garrett Wolfe; after all he plays in the MAAC for Northern Illinois, so he doesn't get a lot of exposure. You may also have a tough time finding Garrett Wolfe. That's because at 5'7" he is hard to see, and when he's running all over the field he is hard to tackle as well. The diminutive tailback ran for 353 yards in the Huskies 40-28 win over Ball St. He leads the nation in rushing with 1,181 yards in 5 games and has over 4,000 for his career, tops among active players. He's also tied for the NCAA lead in touchdowns, 11, with Rutgers' Ray Rice, another "pocket rocket" back tearing through D-1 defenses this fall. If No.Ill is on TV this year, make sure you try to check this kid out. My guess is that he will be drafted as a kick returner in the NFL, but at his size sticking in the League will be tough.

Faces in the crowd: A-Ben-dicitis & Scandal Sampson discuss their problems during the Indiana/Wisconsin game

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