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jones Top Ten - Week Nine - 2010

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Ringo Starr is a better drummer than most people think he is. At the moment, the drummer for a cover band playing across the street proves this point by butchering I Feel Fine. These sounds drift into my head from a pre-Halloween party. I’m trying to sleep. The poor guy keeping me from doing that has none of Ringo’s feel for the music and he keeps time like a Chinatown Rolex. My friend Terry Lynch, who actually subscribes to Modern Drummer magazine, explained to me once that Ringo was a lefty playing a right-handed drum kit. He was competent, clever and, at times, innovative, certainly laying down all that crazy 1960s conga stuff he had to learn because the Beatles used to cover Ray Charles tunes. Nobody gives him any credit. I myself noted in this space that his luck in life was comparable to Les Miles’s.

No need in life to malign the successful. Yes, some of them are lucky. But some of them are just playing a different game, maybe left-handed, with a right-handed kit.

Auburn 51
Mississippi 31

Oregon 53
USC 32

These are the best two teams in college football. At one moment in the Oregon/USC game, the Ducks faced a fourth and medium deep in USC territory with a 43-32 lead. Football 101 dictates a field goal and a 14-point margin. Kirk Herbstreit advocating going for it, since USC probably couldn’t stop Oregon and that would put the Trojans away. The camera zoomed into Chip Kelly, lips pursed, looking at the scoreboard and doing the math. He turned to an assistant and mouthed the words "field goal." I think he knew the Trojans were already put away.

‘SC trailed 29-17 at the half, but had scored two incredibly fast TDs (one 21-yard drive after a pick, one 11-yard drive after a 55-yard punt return) in the third to take a 32-29 lead. Oregon dominated almost every play from that point on; Troy had no chance as LaMichael James rolled up 239 yards rushing.

Oregon eliminates all hope from opponents about as quickly as any team I have watched. One moment, you are in a competitive game. The next moment, you are down by three touchdowns.

Auburn has the same quality. Ole Miss was locked in a 14-14 tie at the end of one. Then the game is 34-17. Then the score’s 44-17 and all the while you think that, hey, Ole Miss isn’t playing so bad. By then teams are scoring touchdowns not to win, but to make the score look more respectable.

Would it be more impressive if these two teams won, Alabama-style, 21-0? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be any more (or less) dominating.

ESPN called this weekend’s slate "Roadblock Saturday" because six undefeated teams in the top ten were playing on the road, get it? Whatever. In addition to the two games above, the six would include TCU playing a completely overmatched UNLV, right? 48-6, Frogs, no marketing necessary.

Some of the others did run into trouble. In Michigan State’s case, a combine, as Iowa reaped, bound and threshed the Spartans, 37-6, mostly playing out the string in the second half after the Hawkeyes dominated the first half, 30-zip. Michigan State is still a good football team, but they are not a team of destiny. Well, anymore than any team is. I guess some teams are destined to go 5-7, aren’t they?

While we are in the nasty agricultural machine metaphor category, Nebraska husked, shredded and shelled Missouri in a 24-0 first quarter and played keep-away the rest of the game for a 31-17 win. The Cornhuskers kept the ball for the last 8:40 of the game. Roy Helu, Jr. rushed for 307 yards, which helped considerably. That’s a Nebraska record, by the way.

Virginia upset Miami thanks largely to five interceptions thrown by the Hurricanes. Before you start in on Jacory Harris, I might note that he was only responsible for one of them, on the play where he took a wicked hit and was knocked out early in the first quarter. UVa 24, Miami 19.

Baylor upset Texas…or did they? The underdog prevailing does not mean that the best team didn’t win. The 25th-ranked Bears used a quick change third quarter to overcome a 19-10 deficit and send Texas to its third straight home loss, which has happened to Mack Brown exactly never. The 7-2 Bears still control their own destiny in the Big 12 South with games against the Oklahomas looming.

Oklahoma State kept pace with a 24-14 win at Kansas State. Oklahoma U rolled Colorado, 43-10.

Speaking of Oklahoma, Utah was on 28-10 cruise control over Air Force, but allowed the Falcons back in it late, which is exactly what Oklahoma did when they played Air Force. The Utes hold ‘em off: 28-23.

Ohio State made an absolute mess of Minnesota, 52-10. Technically, Minnesota already was an absolute mess, but you get what I mean.

Arizona needed some key plays from Matt Scott, in relief of the still-injured Nick Foles, to outlast UCLA, 29-21.

Does anyone still think Jake Locker is a better QB than Andrew Luck? Stanford 41, Washington 0.

No upsets in the SEC this week as Tennessee once again played a ranked opponent even in the first half and collapsed in the second. South Carolina was this week’s beneficiary. 38-24, Gamecocks. Mississippi State held off Kentucky, 24-17 and Arkansas thwacked Vanderbilt.

Alabama and LSU did not play, robbing the national audience of even-tempered excellence and fundamentals on the one hand and overwhelming athleticism, bizarre game management, voodoo and rampant alcohol abuse on the other.

Michigan played Penn State and Florida played Georgia. The BCS, along with most of the country, could not have cared less. Bizarre. Florida held off the Dawgs with a nifty pick by Will Hill in overtime that Hill almost returned for a score, but nevertheless allowed Florida to take possession and kick a game-winning field goal. 34-31, Gators.

Penn State defeated Michigan, holding Denard Robinson to less than 200 yards rushing (191) and passing (190). This one was Joe Pa’s 399th.

Boise State played on Tuesday, yes Tuesday, and beat Louisiana Tech, 49-20. That really doesn’t make anyone happy, least of all Louisiana Tech. Seriously, how would it feel to play for Louisiana Tech and lose by 29 while the national press gives you credit for playing "tough" because the game didn’t end 56-0?

The best game of the whole weekend might have been the Thursday night gem between NC State and FSU. State came back behind quarterback Russell Wilson for a 28-24 win. The Wolfpack is 6-2, along with Maryland, of all teams, and FSU. The three of them share the lead in the loss column of the ACC Fisherman’s Platter Division.

Impressive Showing of the Week: Iowa

1. Oregon

2. Auburn

3. TCU

4. Boise State

5. Alabama

6. Wisconsin

7. Stanford

8. LSU

9. Ohio State

10. Arizona with Nick Foles, but not without him

Eleven is a Big 12 team, probably Oklahoma. I really wish Michigan State had Ohio State on the schedule this year. The Spartans may get hosed when the bowl invites roll around.