My wife gave me a Martin guitar as a wedding gift. I can’t really bring it to life; I lack talent and work ethic, if not passion. The leather Spalding NBA in my garage has never improved my jump shot. The New Balance running shoes have never completed a marathon and would post a time of somewhere between ten hours and "please send a search party" if they ever did. I brandish my Wusthof chef’s knife with some authority in the kitchen on game days, but it ain’t ever made me Emeril Lagasse. Some things in life, I know just enough about to be dangerous. Some days, I know even less than that.
Saturday proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I don’t know anything about college football.
On a beautiful carnage-filled afternoon, nothing surprised me quite like Cal getting unceremoniously thwacked at Autzen. Yeah, yeah Eugene’s a tough place to play, but not only did Oregon return this season with a defense that shouldn’t have been appreciably better, but with an offensive line that should have been worse. Add in a disastrous loss to Boise State, losing their star tailback on account of idiocy, a new head coach who looked for all the world like he had lost his team and, to top it all off, a quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, who, so far this season, had engendered more spite than honor among the Duck faithful. Of course, the same could be said of Cal’s own QB; you just don’t notice so much when he turns and hands the ball to Jahvid Best. The Golden Bears started this game with an Oregon fumble on the opening kick, which Cal cashed in for a field goal. This was the new Cal: brash, opportunistic, mentally tough, physical at the point of attack and in the secondary…not so much, the 3-0 lead being their sole highlight. I present, dear readers, my ignorance, on full display: same old Cal. Brand new Oregon, and only they could wear throw-back uniforms from the 19…90s?
But we’re just getting started. The carnage found its advent on Thursday when an outrageously fourth-ranked Ole Miss traded punches with South Carolina and the current Butkus Award front-runner, Eric Norwood, who played jai alai with Jevan Snead’s skull for a couple of hours, among other atrocities committed in the name of Gamecockian excellence. Houston Nutt coaching a roving band of misfits and underachievers? Yes. Houston Nutt coaching a bullseye-embossed top five squad on national television? No. South Carolina 16, Mississippi 10
Then came Miami. I never once imagined the ‘Canes as human interest story, but the whole charismatic coach, restoring lost glory, skinny quarterback with old school haircut angle compelled the nation to pay attention, especially since the U boasted the nation’s best resume. Bring on Florida! Miami awaits. On the other hand, this week’s darling could travel to Blacksburg, where the quite confident Virginia Tech Hokies obliterated them with defense, special teams (naturally), a brutal running game and bad weather. Frank Beamer’s no idiot: if Tyrod Taylor can’t pass, then don’t make him. Using a near abstinence-only approach to quarterback protection, the Hokie QB threw only nine passes (completing four), including a 49-yard TD. Va Tech 31, Miami 7.
Three up and three down in the top ten, shall we make it four? We shall. The problem with revenge is that some times it gets in the way of winning the darn football game, especially when you are not fielding the better team. I give you Penn State, a team not as good as Iowa. I’m surprised too, but this was no fluke. The Hawkeyes, after being down at the half 10-5 (I love the Big Ten), dominated the second frame with far better trench play than the Nitts could muster. Iowa also has the best-named linebacker in the nation, Pat Angerer. Yes, he’s white, and yes, he looks like he stepped right out of an FFA group picture.
So, get this, Florida State barely escapes Jacksonville State at home. Florida State destroys top-ten BYU on the road. Florida State comes back home and gets thoroughly outplayed by South Florida, after the Bulls lose their starting quarterback and lifelong soul mate, Matt Grothe. His replacement, the redshirt frosh B.J. Daniels, made it look easy at times. Daniels grew up in Tallahassee, by the way. South Florida 17, FSU 7.
Stanford needed a statement game. Who thought that beating Washington was actually a statement? Trees 34, Dogs 14.
Technically, North Carolina was ranked, but I am not sure football fans fully embraced that concept. Georgia Tech certainly didn’t. Jackets 24, Heels 7. Although the rushing yardage tells a better story: Jackets 322, Heels 37.
That ends the tale of the losing ranked teams. Although LSU nearly joined them. The Tigers held off Mississippi State four times from inside the two-yard-line for a 30-26 victory, thanks in large part to the play of the day: a ridiculously entertaining 93-yard punt return by Chad Jones. As for Mississippi State, this Dan Mullen guy can coach.
Michigan and Indiana staged an endlessly entertaining game won late by the Maize and Blue, 36-33, thanks to the precocious Tate Forcier and what might have been a homer call on Indiana’s last drive. I think it may have been the most fun I have ever had watching the Big Ten early game on ESPN.
Talk about the static nature of changing things, take Michigan State (please). This is not a "new Spartan" regime, they’re the same Spartans, just folding earlier without even raising any expectations. Wisky blasts Sparty 38-30 in a game that simply wasn’t that close.
Southern Miss made life very uncomfortable for Kansas, but the Jayhawks pulled out a 35-28 win. Ditto Cincinnati, extended by Fresno State on Friday night, but prevailing 28-20 despite having the ball only 16 minutes. The Bearcats’ Tony Pike apparently communed with his inner Peyton Manning.
TCU survived torrential rain and C.J. Spiller and beat Clemson 14-10, a huge road win for the BC-aSpirations of the Frogs.
At the top of the order, things came easy. Florida dropped 31 in the first quarter on their way to a 41-7 win over Kentucky notable not for the final score, but for a wicked third-quarter shot on Tim Tebow that left him unconscious and on his way to the hospital for a round of post-concussion tests. This unfortunate turn of events left us with a rash of "Tebow as Christ" jokes (of course he will rise again), some of which were mildly amusing.
Arkansas looks improved this year; but the Hogs are probably a year away. Unfortunately for them, Alabama is not. Tide 35, Razorbacks 7.
The University of Texas at Austin scored 64 points and the University of Texas at El Paso scored seven. The El Paso version has, however, won the NCAA basketball title in its history. So they have that going for them.
Ohio State shut out another opponent, this time one with an allegedly potent offense. Buckeyes 30, Illinois, wondering who will replace Ron Zook.
Georgia started strong, let up, then survived Arizona State, 20-17.
BYU, who will be punished unfairly for last week’s bad day at the office for several weeks, did beat Colorado State 42-23.
Notre Dame, benefiting from some clever game-planning to hide the fact that Jimmy Clausen can’t really, well, walk, beat Purdue 24-21 in highly dramatic fashion. The Irish are nothing if not entertaining.
Boise State destroyed Bowling Green, 49-14. Oklahoma State cruised past Grambling 55-6 and Nebraska crushed LaLa 56-0. USC stayed up late to beat Wazzu 27-6 in a game that could have put anyone to sleep after the 20-0 first quarter.
The real late night entertainment came from Houston hosting Texas Tech. The Red Raiders left town with a win after driving the field for a chip-shot field goal on fourth and goal from the one, giving them a 31-23 lead that held up.
Actually, that’s not what happened. The set-up is correct, but Mike Leach, being Mike Leach, went for it on fourth and one, failed and watched Case Keenum drive the Cougars the other way for a 29-28 win. Both teams left some points on the field, but none more dear than the Pirate King eschewing an easy field goal and an eight-point lead.
Impressive Showing of the Week: Oregon
4. How the hell should I know?
5. Virginia Tech
9. Could TCU beat USC or Ohio State? Could Boise State?
10. Either South Florida or Tim Tebow playing by himself against 11 defenders