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jones Top Ten - Week Three - 2009

My run today serves two purposes. I need to wear out the Boxer, otherwise she will pace the living room in search of affection for the next four hours. I can’t have that. The other purpose is guilt reduction before Mangia shows up with the pizza. That works for both the pizza and for the Dos Equis, which may turn into Cuatro or Cinco or Seis Dos Equis, depending on how the game goes tonight: I don’t always turn into a raving lunatic in front of the television set, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. I need absolute concentration, self-criticism over my personal habits while my team plays in the prime-time slot on ABC won’t do it all. You only have so many of these nights in your life. Focus. Commitment. Especially on a day that went coffee, soccer game, breakfast, birthday party, basketball game, home. They say that when the third child arrives, parents need to revert from man-to-man and play zone. But that’s not the problem. The problem comes when kid three joins the active society. The birthday invitations and sporting contests do not subside. You must simply hold on until the oldest begins to drive himself. That, of course, brings with it a whole host of other problems, most having to do with girls.

Arriving home after my gentleman’s three miles, I can’t even shower—too much to absorb. Tennessee decides that Florida will not humiliate them after all. Michigan State and Notre Dame in a Midwest classic, Nebraska trying to escape Blacksburg with a win over Virginia Tech, East Klina believing they can beat Nawth Klina. God I love Saturday.

Oh. And this.

Washington 16
USC 13

Jake Locker may well be Tim Tebow West. There are very few players in any college football season with the skills to be extraordinary; Locker has them. He also benefits greatly from new Washington head man Steve Sarkisian, a former USC offensive coordinator who knows his quarterbacks. The Husky offense didn’t set the world on fire, but when it counted, on one last drive to win the game, Locker was nails. He hit an unlikely third and fifteen pass to Jermaine Kearse (probably his best pass of the day), converted again with his legs, then hit Kearse again to get to field goal range. Masterful. This from a kid who led his team to zero victories last year and considered playing safety. Troy goes down and you know what? I am not sure how much of an upset this was. Washington can play. Ask LSU. USC is fairly ordinary, certainly by Pete Carroll’s standards. Ask Ohio State (in between watching them kick themselves repeatedly for letting the Trojans off the mat).

Nebraska had Virginia Tech dead to rights and on the way to the paddy wagon when Tyrod Taylor cracked the escape hatch in the form of an 80-yard pass to the famous Danny Coale. Three plays later, Taylor completed an unlikely comeback with a kidney punch TD in the last second. Hokies 16, Huskers 15. I may have to stop writing that Taylor can’t throw. Nebraska may not get over this one.

Michigan State had posted six straight wins in Notre Dame Stadium, which is pretty remarkable until you remember that Michigan State usually doesn’t fold until a bit later in the season and usually to an inferior team like Central Michigan, for example. Notre Dame, after losing superstar receiver Michael Floyd to injury early, turned to superstar receiver Golden Tate late, then sealed the win with a pick by Kyle McCarthy, who is, of course, Seamus and Gillian McCarthy’s boy from the old country. Ireland 33, Sparta 30.

Vengeance is ours sayeth Florida and Texas. Well, yes, but neither superpower said it very emphatically. Tennessee gutted up and played ferocious defense in the Swamp, forcing a couple of Tim Tebow Turnovers (with the Bible verse on the package, available at your local grocer) before finally wearing down in a 23-13 Gator win, courtesy of a few superhuman moves by Tebow on a key Florida drive. The Gators defense played equally nasty in a game where you could hear the hits two states away. In Austin, the Longhorns dialed up a defensive smackfest of their own. Texas and Texas Tech paid homage to Frank Beamer in a 10-3 first half where the only score came on a Jordan Shipley punt return. They reverted to pinball in the third-quarter before the Texas defense asserted itself again and kept Tech two possessions away in the fourth for a 34-24 win. Texas abused Tech quarterback Taylor Potts like Joe Walsh’s hotel room, but he kept coming at them—he’s the real deal. Colt McCoy looked, for the third game in a row, downright ordinary at times, but he did make the plays the Horns needed in the second-half.

If you keep score at home and want an admission of what I really screwed up in the preseason, then be so kind as to remind me of my lack of faith in Miami and Florida State. The two old rivals staged 1990s flashback fest this week. First, The U blasted Georgia Tech in the Thursday night special, 33-17. Canes quarterback Jacory Harris radiates confidence and would be, on the merits, ahead of either Tebow or McCoy on any ballot determining this season’s most outstanding college football player.

On Saturday, Florida State turned back the clock to a time when Seminole athletes roved the field fearlessly and unimpeded by an opponent’s polite offensive game planning. FSU went to Provo and thrashed an allegedly top ten BYU 54-28 (conveniently erasing last week’s ugly win over Jacksonville State). I didn’t see this one coming, nor did I give much credit to FSU quarterback Christian Ponder, who is nearly Jacory Harris’ equal. Ponder went 21-26 for 195 and a couple of TDs, but also rushed for 77 yards, providing an effective changeup for a ‘Nole running game that gouged BYU for over 300. The ACC may turn out to be more fun than I expected. Apologies also for not giving adequate due to a great Miami/FSU game on Labor Day night.

Anyone else who needs an apology, please e-mail me at

Ohio State, one week too late, took a less risk-averse approach to the Terrelle Pryor Paradigm and waxed Toledo 38-0. So what? I hear you ask. I think the Buckeye fans may share the sentiment.

Don’t rest on Oklahoma. The Sooners, not typically ones to throw in the towel under Bob Stoops, crushed Tulsa 45-0 behind Landry Jones’s six touchdown passes (hey, no one had ever heard of Sam Bradford, either, in his first season).

I will definitely eat one of those Schlotzsky’s chipotle-guaca-cheesy beef things this week. Maybe Tuesday.

Jahvid Best scored five touchdowns and the Minnesota Golden Gophers scored three. California, 35-21 winners, looked in control for most of this game, but should be concerned by some flaky play by QB Kevin Riley (who did look better as the game went on) and should be heartened that Minnesota is pretty good as far as these eyes can tell. There is no debate about the new outdoor stadium at Minnesota: beautiful, a perfect college football environment. Red Grange would have been proud to run there, which I am sure will give warm feelings to his Illinois ancestors, who travel there on November 7 and will thaw out by about November 18.

A Virginia fan e-mailed last week incensed that I had the incorrect score of the Cavaliers game with TCU. He was correct; TCU won 30-14, not 35-14. I regret the error, but do appreciate the opportunity to again point out that the 30-14 final doesn’t do justice to the punishment dished out by TCU to the nation of purple and orange rep ties. This week TCU crushed Texas State 56-21, although I am curious how Texas State scored three touchdowns. Good show, Bobcats.

What in the name of Don Coryell is going on in the SEC? Georgia and Arkansas staged an aerial circus in Fayetteville that left the Razorbacks just short of a big conference win. 52-41, Bulldogs. The Petrino offense is progressing nicely; the Hog defense? Meh.

North Carolina finally found some offense and held off East Carolina, 31-17. Michigan started Tate Forcier again and bounced Eastern Ypsilanti, 45-17.

Kansas crushed Duke 44-16 in a game that demonstrated Kansas is a legitimate football team (Duke isn’t) and provided multiple opportunities for commentators to make dumb basketball jokes.

Oklahoma State dropped to only 16th in the AP (a full five spots ahead of Houston) and beat Rice 41-24. The Cowboys get Grambling next week, so they will likely be back in the top ten before you know it.

Here’s another one I didn’t expect: Utah’s nation leading 16-game winning streak ends. Oh, I knew that it would end because this is not a great Utah team. What I didn’t expect was for Oregon, of all teams, to play competent football for the rest of the season. The Ducks survived an awful day by quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to whip the Utes. Oregon’s Walter Thurmond III, who apparently couldn’t get through the legacy admissions process at Stanford, did bring a punt back 78 yards, which helped considerably. So did LaMichael James (no relation to LeGarrette Blount) rushing for 152 yards.

Cincinnati traveled to Oregon State and returned today with the Big East’s reputation still somewhat intact after a 28-18 win over the Beavers. This Brian Kelly guy may have a future in coaching.

If you had nothing to do but watch college football on Friday night, you didn’t make a bad choice, as Boise State and Fresno State seemingly made only big plays in a 51-34 Bronco win. 587 total yards and five scoring plays of over 60 yards on the evening. Four-yard run, be damned.

This turned out to be on great Saturday of football and that’s even with Alabama, Penn State, LSU and Mississippi playing North Texas, Temple, Louisiana Lafayette and Southeast Louisiana. The average result was 42-6. The details are unimportant.

Impressive Showing of the Week: Washington (actually Miami and Florida State impressed me more, but I keep going back to Washington winning zero games last year).

1 and 2, but not overwhelmingly so... Florida and Texas: I still think they are the two best teams in the country, thanks to their defenses. On the other hand, an inaccurate Colt McCoy does not lead Texas through the valley of the shadow of death (or, perhaps, the Cotton Bowl) and Florida just looks so mortal. Come on guys, immortality is what we are after.

3. Alabama

4. Miami: Can they prove it? Their next two are at Virginia Tech and hosting Oklahoma.

5. Cal

6. LSU: All of a sudden, I am a bit more impressed with the road win at Washington.

7. Penn State: I think…the Nittany Lions will be the last team in the top ten not to have played a challenging opponent. That changes next week versus Iowa.

8. Tentatively Mississippi: We get to see the Rebels early this week, at South Carolina on Thursday.

9. Virginia Tech

10. Florida State

Eleven is Oklahoma.