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Michigan State and Missouri Lose First Game, and Miami and Florida State Suffer Upsets
Undefeated Michigan State and Missouri saw their national championship hopes evaporate this week as the hard-nosed Iowa Hawkeyes dug in at home to crush the Spartans, 37-6, and the Cornhuskers of Nebraska, equally defensive, whipped the visiting Missouri Tigers, 31-17.
When you add additional losses from Miami-FL to Virginia, 24-19, and Florida State to North Carolina State, 28-24, then 4 of the 6 AP Top 25 teams with road games this week have lost.
Road games are never easy, and when you have a target on your back as an undefeated and/or top team, away games are even more dangerous for visiting teams.
The Michigan State Spartans, who put their perfect 8-0 score on the line, never stood a chance against Iowa. The Hawkeyes’ first possession resulted in an impressive 80-yard drive followed by a field goal followed by Tyler Sash pulling out a pass from Kirk Cousins to the Iowa 28 and returning the ball to teammate Micah Hyde, who went 66 yards for the interception return and score.
The result was a 17-0 lead that led to a 30-zip advantage at halftime. Michigan State has come from behind to beat Illinois and the Northwest over the past two weeks, but Iowa has controlled both lines of scrimmage.
The Cousins would throw 3 interceptions, and the Hawkeyes kept up the Spartans’ powerful running game at 31 yards. Iowa simply dominated all three phases of the game – offensive, defensive and special teams.
Coach Kirk Ferentz’ win was his biggest against a ranked team in his 12 seasons at Iowa. AP Top 25 Poll voters were unimpressed with the Spartans’ performance, dropping them from 5th to 16th in the standings, despite Iowa being 18th in the standings; the Hawkeyes moved up three spots to rank 15th now. MSU is now 8-1 and Iowa 6-2.
Missouri was 7-0 and ranked 7th before coming to Nebraska. The Tigers’ defense was ranked 5th nationally, allowing just 13 points per game, but it was Nebraska’s defense – and offense – that showed up.
The 14th-ranked Cornhuskers scored early and often.
Roy Helu ran 66 yards to score, Alex Henery added a 41-yard field goal, Kyler Reed caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Martinez and Roy Helu ran 73 yards on another scoring run. Nebraska was suddenly up 24 zips before the Missouri Tigers realized they were in a football game.
Helu, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior, would score on another 53-yard kicker to set a school record 307 yards on 28 carries (10.96 yards per carry) while scoring 3 touchdowns.
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska’s freshman quarterback, would leave with a bruised right leg in the second quarter after going 6-for-9 for 115 yards and the TD strike to Kyler Reed.
Missouri, like Michigan State, had a great run, and now reality has set in. Missouri dropped in the standings from 7th to 14th place, and Nebraska dropped from 14th to 9th place – winners the spoils.
Know that Nebraska is not child’s play.
The Cornhuskers are much more balanced than the nation’s spectators realize. They rank 12th nationally in scoring attack, 16th in scoring defense, 17th in total attack and 19th in total defense.
Nebraska doesn’t play a pushover schedule like 2nd-ranked Boise State (7-0), 4th-ranked TCU (9-0) and 6th-ranked Utah (8-0), none of which are likely as good than their records would suggest. Nebraska’s schedule strength is currently 34th nationally, Boise State’s is 74th, TCU’s is 72nd and Utah’s is 98th.
There are only 5 undefeated teams left – Auburn and TCU are 9-0, Oregon and Utah are 8-0, and Boise State is 7-0.
Florida State, which had worked so hard to go 6-1 and climb to 16th in the standings, lost to 39th-ranked North Carolina State, 28-24. The Seminoles won the 1st half 21-7, and the Wolfpack won the 2nd half, 21-3. Credit the upset to NC State’s Russell Wilson and Nate Irving.
QB Wilson was 18 of 28 (64%) for 178 yards and a touchdown, and also scored 3 touchdowns on 1, 10, and 20 yard runs. Wilson threw a 1-yard TD to George Bryan with 2:40 remaining, and Irving – playing with the pain of a thumb injury earlier in the quarter – pounced on a fumble with 48 seconds left and the Florida State ready to score and win. the game on the Wolfpack 9-yard line.
Florida State and North Carolina State are now 6-2, and the Wolfpack now have a shot at winning an Atlantic Coast Conference Division title and an EA Championship game. ACC.
The 22nd-ranked Miami Hurricanes’ loss to 94th-ranked Virginia was indeed humbling and sent Miami on a leap right out of the AP poll.
The Virginia Cavaliers were in no mood to mess around in this contest, taking a 14-zip lead at halftime, spotting Miami 19 points in the final quarter and still winning 24-19. The Cavaliers were helped immensely by a major knock on Miami QB Jacory Harris, leaving him on the turf for several minutes before exiting the game.
“When you cut off the head of a giant, the rest of the body goes with it,” said defensive tackle John-Kevin Dolce, who lined up on Harris’ chest just as he released a pass. sending in the air. You call a shot like that, hurtful for sure. At least Dolce’s quote should appear on the Hurricane locker room wall for next season. Sounds like fight words to me.
After the vicious hit, the Virginia secondary had a school-record 5 interceptions with Harris’ backups.
Eight top-ranked teams took care of business as usual, beating their opponent by at least 20 points to protect their records and standings. They included Oregon, Boise State, Auburn, TCU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Arkansas.
1 Oregon easily beat 24th-placed Southern Cal 53-32 while once again proving he has the most explosive offense in the nation. USC was actually in that game and leading in the 3rd quarter, but that doesn’t mean squatting when you’re playing Oregon.
After giving the Trojans a lead, Duck’s defense held them scoreless in the final 25 minutes while scoring 4 times on a 30-yard pass from Darron Thomas to Jeff Maehl, a 2-yard run by LaMichael James , a 34-yard field goal by Rob Beard and another 8-yard run by James.
In the end, like so many Hollywood starlets, the Trojans were dazed and confused.
LaMichael James, the top rusher in the nation (he averaged 161 yards before the showdown), had 239 yards on 36 carries (6.64 ypc) and scored 3 times. Jeff Maehl had a career day with 8 catches for 145 yards with 15, 30 and 45 yard touchdown receptions, including one that was a juggling one-handed catch. QB Darron Thomas was 19 of 32 for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns.
So does Oregon end its games like a 10-penny finishing nail hit with a sledgehammer? You betcha, as Sarah Palin would say. The Oregon Ducks outscored their opposition 180-38 in the second half of their 8 games and 8 wins.
Last year, Oregon beat USC by 27 points to enter the Rose Bowl. With this year’s road win, it’s clear that the new Pac-10 powerhouse isn’t Southern Cal, but Oregon.
The Boise State No. 2 beat a mediocre team at Louisiana Tech, 49-20. No. 3 Auburn put aside a not-so-hot Mississippi team, 51-31, as Heisman favorite Cam Newton went 18 of 24 (75%) for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns without an interception, and was also on the late reception of a 20-yard TD pass. The No. 4 TCU slammed an absolutely horrible UNLV unit, 48-6.
Ohio State’s No. 10 on the road crushed a terrible Minnesota team, 52-10. No. 11 Oklahoma easily beat Colorado, 43-10. Stanford’s No. 13 on the road shut out the Washington Huskies, 41-zip. The Arkansas No. 19 whipped a weak Vanderbilt team, 49-14.
Six other top-ranked teams picked up questionable victories. They included Utah, Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, and Baylor.
The No. 8 Utah on the road had their hands full with the Air Force but prevailed, 28-23. The No. 15 Arizona on the road took its time with UCLA before winning, 29-21. No. 17 South Carolina at home held Tennessee at bay, 38-24. No. 20 Oklahoma edged past Kansas State, 24-14. No. 23 Mississippi State scored in the final quarter against Kentucky to win, 24-17. No. 25 Baylor beat No. 34 Texas, 30-22, to leave the Longhorns at 4-4 and wonder where their season has gone.
Football can reflect life. There are big wins, awesome wins, tough wins, narrow wins, dog wins, and lucky wins. As with everything, winning is the most important thing, but how you win can really affect your ranking. That’s why we separate solid wins from wins.
Other results caught my attention.
Southern Mississippi, favored by 20 and down 14-6 at halftime, roared to tie Alabama-Birmingham 35-up and go into overtime. In the second overtime, UAB would score and convert the 2-point conversion to win, 50-49, in perhaps the most exciting game of the week.
Marshall (a 2-6 team) surprised by visiting UTEP (now a 5-4 team), 16-12. Duke (another 2-6 team), upset Navy (now 5-3), 34-31. Temple (7-2), blanked Akron (0-9 and America’s worst major team – ranked 218th among 120 major college teams), 30-zip. Tulsa (now 5-3), toppled Notre Dame 28-27, dropping the not-so-fighting Irish at 4-5.
In a battle of very bad teams, North Texas (2-6) on the road beat Western Kentucky (1-7), 33-6. Nevada (7-1) won 56-42 over Utah State (2-6), and that victory gave the Wolf Pack 25th place in the new AP poll.
No. 6 Alabama, No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 13 LSU and No. 21 Virginia Tech were all inactive this week.
It’s all for this week. Time for a break. Remember candy is dandy (since Halloween), but booze is faster.
Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley
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