It was a grand, glorious 10 weeks for the No. 2-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, complete with an undefeated 10-0 record and huge victories over Nebraska, Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma State. They looked unbeatable, unstoppable and headed for the BCS National Championship Game.
Then a funny thing happened when they took a trip to No. 5-ranked Oklahoma, which had lost to Texas 5 weeks ago. Either someone had forgotten to tell the Red Raiders, or they had forgotten to listen, that Oklahoma led the nation with 23 consecutive home victories.
No one had to remind the Sooners, they remembered just fine, clubbing the Red Raiders along side the head with a 2×4 in a dramatically 65-21 drubbing. Sooner Quarterback Sam Bradford threw for 300+ yards and 4 touchdowns, and DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown ran for 5 more scores.
Both teams came in with explosive offenses. Both were 2 of the 3 top teams in the country in passing offense and scoring offense, averaging a combined 788 yards and 98 points a game. Statistically, both teams were equal in rushing defense and scoring defense. Both were equal in passing defense and both of their passing defense stats were poor.
What should have been an exciting, great scoring game became a great game for Oklahoma. Texas Tech ended up sucking pond water in Louisiana.
Three other ranked teams lost to other ranked opponents. No. 16 Brigham Young lost on the road to No. 8 Utah, 48-24. No. 17 Michigan State lost on the road to No. 7 Penn State, 49-18. No. 20 Pittsburgh lost on the road to No. 19 Cincinnati, 28-21.
Four other ranked teams lost to unranked opponents, never a good idea if you want to gain favor with the people involved in the national weekly rankings. These kind of losses can cost teams thousands of dollars in lost bowl revenue by being passed by the powers to be at bowls with wealthier payouts.
The losers included the No. 18 LSU Tigers who lost on their home turf to Mississippi, 31-13. The No. 22 Maryland Terrapins who got slapped around at home by Florida State, 37-3 (I know, small, edible turtles. No telling how much time some Maryland homer spent thinking up this nickname for a football team, but I speculate it had to be hours after exhausting every reasonable name). The No. 23 Miami (FL) Hurricanes who lost at home to Georgia Tech, 41-23. The No. 25 North Carolina Tar Heels who got slapped around at home by the arch-competitor North Carolina State Wolfpack, 41-10.
So 8 of 18 AP Top 25 Poll teams lost this week (44%), and 4 of the 8 lost to unranked teams. On the brighter side, 10 of the 18 top-ranked teams (56%) won and continued to march forward, 6 of them with a vengeance. The 5 fanny kickers besides Oklahoma included:
No. 3 Florida (10-1) which thumped 1-AA The Citadel 70-19, scoring on its first 7 possessions, racking up 512 yards of offense in the first half alone, and becoming the first Southeast Conference (SEC) team to score at the minimum 42 points in 6 consecutive games. I like Florida but it is so unseemly to be playing 1-AA teams, already early in the season much less late.
No. 7 Penn State at home over No. 17 Michigan State 49-18. The Nittany Lions showed that the Spartans (though 9-3) are really not ready to play and beat great teams however. Penn State’s Daryll Clark threw for a career-high 341 yards and 4 touchdowns and the Nittany Lion defense held Spartan Javon Ringer to a season-low 42 yards (that’s not Ringer, that’s an inept Michigan State offensive line being controlled by Penn State).
No. 8 Utah at home over No. 16 Brigham Young 48-24. This win was huge for the Utes, who have an unbeaten 12-0 season, a Mountain West Conference championship, a date in the BCS Bowl Series, and a victory over BYU for the first time in 3 years.
No. 10 Ohio State at home over arch-competitor Michigan 42-7. The Buckeyes totally humiliated a now dysfunctional Wolverine team led by first-year coach high Rodriquez, giving Michigan its worst loss to Ohio State in 40 years. Michigan is 3-9 on the year and a shambles of what was once a proud, successful program. Rodriguez, who built tremendous success at West Virginia, has a lot of work to do.
No. 15 Texas Christian (TCU) at home over Air Force 44-10. Andy Dalton threw 2 TD passes and ran for 2 more scores as the Horned Frogs (what a name for a team) racked up 10-win season. The 4 other winners were:
No. 9 Boise State on the road at Nevada 41-34. The Broncos were lucky to get out of this game unbeaten as Nevada won the second half, 31-17. When you give up 34 points to a 6-5 team, you are not nearly as good as your record says.
No. 14 Ball State on the road at Central Michigan 31-24. Central Michigan came into this game at 8-2 and the Cardinals needed a 4th quarter touchdown to win this one.
No. 19 Cincinnati at home over Pittsburgh 28-21, marking its first win over the Panthers in 8 games. Despite a broken arm, Tony Pike threw for 3 touchdown passes, and you thought Pittsburgh was tough.
No. 21 Oregon State on the road over Arizona, 19-17, on a last play 24-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Justin Kahut. It was sweet redemption for Kahut, who missed an additional point attempt that would have tied the game late in the 4th quarter.
Should the Oregon State Beavers beat their arch-competitor-the Oregon Ducks-in their last game, they would qualify for the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965. That is because the Beavers managed to upset visiting Southern California earlier in the season.
Seven Top 25 teams were idle this week-No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Texas, No. 6 Southern California (USC), No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Missouri, No. 13 Georgia and No. 24 Oregon.
Entering the last two weeks of regular season play, only 4 unbeaten teams now keep-No. 1 Alabama (11-0), No. 8 Uath (12-0), No. 9 Boise State (11-0), and No. 15 Ball State (11-0). Utah will keep unbeaten as its season is over. On Saturday, Alabama hosts in-state, arch-competitor Auburn, Boise State hosts Fresno State Friday, and Ball State hosts Western Michigan Tuesday (11-25-08).
In other news this weekend, the 0-10 Washington Huskies traveled to Pullman to confront their arch-competitor 1-10 Washington State Cougars in a game I have dubbed the “2008 Losers Bowl”. Losers Bowl seemed like a correct title since Washington State’s only victory came against 1-AA Portland State, so they really had a combined 1-A record of 0-20.
The Huskies, winless and hopeless, rule the nation in one category-they have the longest losing streak in the 1-A Division, 13 consecutive losses. This confrontation truly got exciting near the end as Washington held a 10-point rule at halftime and a 3-point rule with 56 seconds left to play.
The Huskies, however, allowed the Cougars to move from their own 20 to the Husky 11, where sophomore Nico Grasu kicked a 28-yard field goal on the final play of regulation time to tie the game at 13. Ironically, Husky kicker Ryan Perkins missed a 28-yarder about 3.5 minutes earlier.
The teams swapped field goals on their first overtime possessions, but Perkins missed again at 37 yards during Washington’s second possession. Four downs later Grasu nailed one from the same 37 yards out to give the Cougars their first 1-A win of the season and their third victory over Washington in the last 4 years.
The rest of what happened over the weekend was just window dressing for a bunch of teams going nowhere at about 1,000 miles an hour.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley