Robert Fulghum did his best to convince us that everything we needed to know we learned in kindergarten. We are supposed to share and take our turn and be kind and, perhaps most importantly, not to take joy in the misfortune of others. College football fans tend to suspend this last one on fall Saturdays. Although fans of the major powers don’t do well sharing or taking turns, either. Nick Saban is not really into it being someone else’s turn. That’s why Alabama hired him. But, for most fans, it is the joy in the misfortune of others that really takes a beating. It is the "thou shalt not covet" of the college football religion. I, therefore, will not play that card today.
Instead, I will rely on the advice of my grandfather, a college football coach in his own day. He once told me "Experience is what you think you have had…
…then you get some more."
Texas A&M 38
This week on Sherman’s March to the SEC, Texas A&M had a 35-17 lead on a ranked opponent. I’m still puzzling over how they lost this one. OK, there’s the complete inability to play pass defense, but other than that, there was no barrage of turnovers: only one Aggie fumble in the second half and it resulted in Arkansas going three and out. Nor did they forget the running game. Christine Michael gashed Arkansas for 230 yards; Cyrus Gray added 95. Texas A&M gained 628 yards, total, and there were times even in the second half when they looked unstoppable. But they always stopped. Bad play call here, poor execution there, maybe a penalty and Mike Sherman tapped his inner R.C. Slocum a wee bit much. Well, except for the pass defense part. I don’t mean to discount Arkansas. The Hogs took what they were given. Open receivers.
There were two other great games while all this was going on. Illinois came back with 21 points in the fourth to nip Northwestern, 38-35 and remain undefeated. Nathan Scheelhaase was superb for the Illini. Ron Zook has yet to ruin his career.
At the very same time, the Navy came back on the Air Force to force overtime, then lost 35-34 on a missed extra-long extra-point, after a penalty.
The mid-afternoon games had their own appeal. Clemson destroyed Virginia Tech, 23-3, and now holds the ACC tiebreaker over both the Hokies and FSU. Yes, Clemson. Formidable. They are neck and neck with undefeated Georgia Tech, 45-35 winners over NC State.
Michigan State beat Ohio State 10-7 and the Buckeyes were lucky to get the 7. I predicted pre-season that Ohio State would go 6-6 and they are right on schedule. Their next three are Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin.
I was served brussel sprouts this week and wondered if there were parts of them that were inedible; I have little experience with brussel sprouts. The server noted that you could pretty much eat the whole thing. Then he added: "not the wood, there are on skewers, sir." Thanks. Who did he think I was? Stephen Garcia? Auburn 16, South Carolina 13.
South Carolina finally imploded on offense, after I spent four weeks apologizing for them. I am not sure Stephen Garcia is the problem (9 for 23, two picks); I think Steven Spurrier is. ‘SC may be the worst-coached team in college football. Meanwhile, Auburn continues to win games the hard way, this time without Superman at quarterback.
The night games were a total snooze, especially the ones involving the best teams in the country.
Alabama thwacked Florida, 38-10. The Tide are simply playing a different game even than the good teams (Arkansas last week, Florida this, neither close). Earlier in the day, LSU, a team that could stand toe-to-toe with the Tide, whipped a listless Kentucky, 35-7. LSU completed only 8 passes, gave up 155 yards of total offense and, miracle of miracles, Tyrann Mathieu scored on a fumble return. So much for the "irreplaceable" talent of Patrick Peterson.
Wisconsin flat punished Nebraska by basically playing Nebraska football circa 1980s. 48-17, Badgers and I have never seen Big Red more ready to get off the field. The second half was a ball-peen hammer versus sheetrock. You know what’s scary? It’s possible Nebraska is the second-best team in the Big Ten. Of course, Triumph is the second-best power rock trio from Canada.
(NOTE: Michigan might make a claim--to being the second-best team in the Big Ten, not to being the second-best power rock trio from Canada. The Wolverines destroyed Minnesota 58-0. But we saw this show last year, didn’t we? It didn’t end well).
Stanford killed UCLA, 45-19, which probably didn’t bother UCLA at all. Andrew Luck was really good. In the first quarter, Stanford went on a 99-yard touchdown drive and gained 119 yards.
Oklahoma obliterated Ball State, 62-6. The AP helpfully notes that Landry Jones "tosses five TDs" as if that’s not hard. Because it wasn’t.
Texas ripped Iowa State, 37-14, to set up next week’s Red River Rivalry. Part of the result is Texas playing solid, mostly mistake-free football. Part of it is explained by Iowa State playing with a comfort level typically reserved for the audience at a rural community theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Kansas State went to 4-0 by upsetting Baylor, 36-35. Since none of you have ever heard of a single player who plays for Kansas State, I will skip ahead and note that RGIII went 23/31 for 346 and five TDs, but also threw a late pick that allowed K-State to kick the eventual winning field goal. Madness.
SMU beat TCU in overtime, 40-33, in a game that may not have been that great an upset. The Mustangs have the right personnel and scheme to attack a pretty porous TCU secondary. Southern Money’s only loss is to Texas A&M. SMU may not have fallen far enough behind in the first half to beat the Aggies. I’ll be here all week.
Boise State beat Nevada with ease, 30-10. The Broncos were awesome on D, but pretty darn ordinary with the ball. Kellen Moore was adequate, bordering on below-average.
West Virginia put on an offensive clinic for Bowling Green. Arizona State survived Oregon State.
Looking below the rankings, Mississippi State is a miserable 2-3 after being thumped 24-10 by Georgia. State expected better things.
Did anyone realize Penn State is 4-1 with only a loss to Alabama? I didn’t either. What I do know is that the Nitts’ 16-10 win over Indiana was about as exciting as a bologna on white and a cup of Folgers, which, coincidentally, was Joe Paterno’s pre-game meal. He is a mustard man, takes the coffee black, as if you couldn’t have guessed.
Notre Dame crushed a terrible Purdue, 38-10.
Pittsburgh, Notre Dame’s last victim, whipped South Florida on national television on Thursday, 44-17, which is hard to explain.
Don’t eat the wood part.
Impressive Showing of the Week: Wisconsin
3A. Wisconsin: I think they could beat any of the three above on a given Saturday.
5-7. Boise State, Oklahoma State and Oregon: Pull them out of a hat, my guess is that Oregon is the best of them. Unless…
9. Clemson: I am going to hate myself for this…
10. Arkansas: The Razorbacks have not really played at full strength yet.