Saturday, November 04, 2006

College Football Week 10 Wrap up

I told everyone this weekend was Speedbump Saturday. Unfortunately some teams treated that speedbump like a teenager in his first sports car would- you know, gun the engine and try to fly over the yellow bump, only to bottom out and scrape his undercarriage so badly that he destroys any hopes at a tile shot.

Sorry for the mixed metaphors, but some of the top teams in the country treated this weekend like a vacation preceding brutal, title-deciding matches in the next 3 weeks. But rather than gently cruising through the safety zone of soft scheduling they tried to race ahead to the next game and nearly got caught on the outside looking in. Let's review:

Ohio State & Michigan almost blow the Game of the Year
Ohio State 17, Illinois 10; Michigan 34, Ball St. 26
Hey guys, wouldn't it be funny if the top two teams in the country both lost to bottom feeders two weeks before their marquee matchup in Columbus? No? Well that almost happened today as the Buckeyes & Wolverines clearly came down with a bad case of "looking ahead disease", nearly gagging to two teams that were a combined 5-13. Ohio State was cruising against the hapless Illini (over/under on how quick Ron Zook gets the boot after the season? 3 days) leading 17-0 at the half and holding Illinois to 72 total yards, 43 coming on 1 play. But in the 2nd half the energized Illini put up 161 yards and 10 4th quarter points as the Buckeyes were lucky to hang on in Champaign despite QB Troy Smith's Heisman-denting effort(13-23,108yds, no TDs, 1 pick.) As for the Wolverines, somehow they let David Letterman's alma mater hang in against one of the better defenses in the land; the 26 points were the most allowed by Michigan all year. If it weren't for the running of Mike Hart (154yds, 1TD) and Brandon Minor (108yds, 1TD) Michigan might have been crying over what could have been this season. Even the return of receiver Mario Manningham couldn't keep the Cardinals at bay, as Manningham finished with no catches after missing 3+ games. Want proof that these guys were looking down the road instead of at the speed bump in front of them? "I think that is a lot of the reason why we weren't focused," Michigan's quarterback Chad Henne said. "Coming into the game, people were reading too many press clippings." 'Nuff said.
Watch out guys, big clashes with Northwestern(3-7) & Indiana (5-5) await next week.

USF pounds Pitt, 22-12
MY PICK: Pitt 31-24
Wasn't it just like 2 weeks ago that Pittsburgh was one of the best teams in the Big East, possessors of an ultra-efficient offense and a stifling defense? All that seems like a distant memory now as the Panthers lost their 2nd straight game, today to an opportunistic Bulls squad. In a mistake-filled affair(both teams combined for 7 turnovers) USF took advantage of a fake punt on 4th down on their opening dribe an turned it into a 22-yd touchdown by Taurus Johnson for an early 7-0 lead. The Bulls defense harassed Pitt QB Tyler Palko into one of his worst games of the year (12-25, 189yds, 1TD, 3INTs), while USF QB Matt Groethe lead 2 first half scoring drives and had a 43-yard touchdown to Amarri Jackson late in the 3rd before leaving with an injury to his right foot. It was a great win for USF, who became bowl eligible with their 6th victory, and it was another disappointing loss for Dave Wannested's boys. Oh right, they're coached by Dave Wannested- that explains the late-season collapse!

19Clemson falls again, 14-12 at home to Maryland
The Tigers are in a situation similar to Pitt's, where just 2 weeks ago Clemson was coming off a 31-7 annihilation of Georgia Tech that put them at 7-1 and looking like the cream of the 1-loss crop. Then came a humbling 24-7 loss to the Hokies on Thursday Night Football and now a humiliating home loss to the suddenly surging Terps (7-2, 4-1 tied with Wake for 1st in the ACC Atlantic.) Looks like the cream has curdled. In the GTech beating the Tigers ran for 321 yards, 216 by James Davis. Today they could only muster 143 on the ground and Davis was held to 90 on 20 carries and no TDs. In fact the entire Clemson offense consisted of four Jad Dean (love that name) FGs, this from a squad that was the nation's top scoring offense two weeks ago. So the focus now shifts away from the Tigers and onto big Ralph Friedgen's Terps; Fear The Turtle!

BC denied on last minute rally, lose 21-14 to Wake
MY PICK: BC 24-19
A mistake-prone Eagles team ran into a jacked up Demon Deacon squad that was hosting one of the biggest games in school history. Three turnovers, including 2 interceptions in the end zone an a key 4th quarter fumble, coupled with 10 penalties for 70 yards helped doom the Eagles despite QB Matt Ryan's career day (40-57, 402, 1TD, 2INTs.) Trailing 14-7 at the half, Wake scored a back-breaking touchdown early in the 3rd: running back Kevin Marion faked a handoff on an end around, kept it, and scampered 81 yards for the 5th longest touchdown in Demon Deacon history. Wake's defense took care of the rest as they picked Ryan in the end zone with under a minute to play to snuff out any hopes of another BC overtime game (which I did predict, by the way.) The win places Wake at the top of the ACC Atlantic division, tied with Maryland, and wouldn't you know, the two end the season facing each other in College Park. But big games against the Noles & Hokies must be played first.

Noles finally score an impressive win, 33-0 over Virginia
Maybe this will squelch the Fire Bobby and/or Jeff Bowden talk for a week or so. The Seminoles(5-4, 3-4) finally went out and dominated a team from start to finish, something they have failed to do all season, in a 33-point thrashing of the Cavaliers. DB Tony Carter once again provided a spark, scoring on a 35-ytard interception return just over a minute into the game, and QB Xavier Lee (12-25, 184, 1TD, no INTs) did just enough to earn his first home victory as a starter; injured quarterback Drew Weatherford was in uniform and actually came in to mop up for Lee, so we'll see how that plays out. But the Noles have to be happy that they put together one whole football game of consistent, quality play, no matter who the opponent. They got 343 total yards of offense including 118 on the ground, and held the Cavs (4-6, 3-3) to just 190 total yards. So the Noles get a much needed win and perhaps a necessary QB controversy heading into the final 3 games of the year. it looks like Papa Bowden should at least make it till then. And it's always sweet to defeat the Cavs, still exciting payback for that crappy call in the Warrick Dunn Game in Charlottesville in 1995.

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