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NCAA Roundup: A Wild(cat) Weekend

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All of a sudden the FBS has turned into the S&M subdivision: everybody seems to be really into this whole choking thing. From top to bottom, the ranked teams were pretty awful, but mostly at the top. Half of the top 10 teams lost, and most of the half that did win did so by a slim margin. I say this very loosely, but lets work from top to bottom:

  • No. 1 USC outgained Washington 460-190, but that was about the only thing they did right. Fortunately, Washington QB Jake Locker couldn't hit a barn with his passes (including an INT on second and goal in the opening drive of the game), finishing 13-28 for 90 yards. That was enough margin of error for USC to overcome 16 penalties for 161 yards and three turnovers to eke out a 27-24 win.
  • No. 2 LSU fared better, in that they managed a rather decisive 34-9 final score. They also fared just as poorly, when you consider that within the same game a)they managed only a missed FG on their opening offensive drive, which started at their opponent's 27 yard line, and b) their lead was only 13-9 as late as six minutes into the second half. No, they play Florida next weekend, this sadness happened against 40 point underdog Tulane.
  • No. 3 "Ohhhhklahoma where the winds go sweeping down the plains… Ohhhhklahoma where we can't even keep a 17 point second half lead against a lesser inter-conference rival." What a great show tune, huh? Except the Sooners sang the wrong damn words. Oklahoma-Colorado is barely on the fringe of still being a rivalry, but maybe this can start a bit of a revival. Okahoma turned an interception on Colorado's opening second half drive into a one-play touchdown drive and a 24-7 lead, but their offense managed a mere 39 yards in the remaining 25 minutes, and Colorado came alive for a 27-24 upset.
  • No. 4 Florida, much like LSU, may very well have been looking forward to next week's game, which was understandable against an Auburn team that had started the season ranked 18th but had since lost to South Florida and Mississippi State. I guess Auburn finally decided it was time to get serious about their season, as they shut down Florida and Tim Tebow to the tune of a 17-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Gators finally found themselves and charged right back to tie the score, but killed their momentum with a (rather sudden) three-and-out at midfield, leaving the window open for a last-second, game-winning field goal for Auburn.
  • No need to re-discuss the West Virginia stumble from Friday night.
  • Cal and Oregon played one of the few exciting, well contested games this weekend, but somebody had to lose, and the Ducks wound up in the shallow end of the pond, 31-24.
  • No. 7 Texas bit it hard at home for the second year in a row against Kansas State. Perhaps we have discovered Mack Brown's kryptonite? Texas' offense outscored Kansas State's by a margin of 21-20. Unfortunately, there's more that goes on in a game than just offensive plays, and Kansas State also snagged a triple: an interception, punt, and kickoff returned for touchdowns. Colt McCoy generally had a bad day, completing 50% of his passes, throwing four interceptions, and getting the snot knocked out of him right before halftime.
  • No. 10 Rutgers rounded out the bottom of the top by experiencing a relapse of their horrible top-tenitis (they lost the week after reaching the top 10 last year as well). The Knights came out flat, but managed to put together a solid second quarter to take a 17-14 lead at halftime. They were *thisclose* to coming out on top in a back and forth game, but Rutgers took a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and then QB Mike Teel fumbled on Rutgers' 20 yard line. Maryland then scored to put the game away, 34-24.

The rest of the top 25 was equally tense, but I won't go into a ton of depth about Boston College struggling way too much but still winning against Massachusetts or Wisconsin sneaking past Michigan State.

What I will mention is what has been lost in the shuffle of this weekend: the teams that did win, and how much they will benefit from it. Three weeks ago, team names like Kentucky, South Florida and Virginia Tech weren't even used in the same sentence as the word "ranked." Now, with all of the teams that lost, all three squads will be solidly within the top 15, and Kentucky could wind up as high as 7th. The season just keeps getting more and more interesting.

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