Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Wrap

By MIKE DAROZA
CFRT Editor


A lot of the so-called experts thought this past Saturday might be a snoozer, but it ended up being far from it. Just ask Oregon, Auburn, South Carolina and Utah.
OMG Moment of the week

I could probably come up with, oh, two or three...zillion reasons why we love college football so much.
The traditions, the pageantry or the win-or-start-getting-ready-for-next-season environment hanging in the balance just about every Saturday, just to name a few.
But, doesn't a bad week of college football still beat a good week at work?
That's why I scoffed when most of the columnists at the Mother Ship (ESPN) last week pre-declared this past weekend Snooze Alarm Saturday - some of them even went so far as to say a weekend like this is just filler until after Thanksgiving.

Aside from narrowly escaping Cal, 15-13, Oregon's night was made even more tense when leading rusher LaMichael James was injured and had to be helped off the field. James returned later, but his absence contributed to the close shave with the Bears.
Ask the No.1 team in the land - Oregon - who had to fight for its life in a slim, 15-13 win over PAC-10 foe Cal.
Or Auburn, the No.2 team with more going on in the news than on the field had to climb out of a 21-7 hole to rally against Georgia.
Surely Steve Spurrier, the infamous Head Ball Coach who finally lifted South Carolina out of the ashes of mediocrity and punched the Gamecocks' ticket to Atlanta to play for an SEC championship for the first time in school history would say the weekend was anything but a bore.
Snooze Alarm Saturday? 
Really?
Let's see, there were at least two overtime games in major college this past Saturday, and 15 other games that were decided by five points or less.
I'd stay awake for that, wouldn't you?
You see, just when you think you have everything figured out about a season like this is the exact moment we find out just how little we really know.

Irish fans got a rare upset win over a Top-15 team in South Bend.
How else could you explain the unbelievable upset that took place in South Bend?
Most could have predicted then No.14 Utah to come into their game against Notre Dame feeling the effects of the 47-7 woodshed beating TCU firmly administered to them last week.
You kind of had the feeling they'd get off to a slow start and then pull away, taking their frustrations out on a struggling, depleted Irish team that had suffered losses to powerhouses like Navy and Tulsa.
Well, the Utes got off to a slow start alright, but their frustrations only continued as Notre Dame flattened their visitors 28-3.

After their loss to Notre Dame, the same Utah offense that was averaging over 45 points a game has now scored just 10 points in the past two weeks.
This is the same Irish team that was playing without its starting quarterback, best tailback, best tight end and starting nose guard - all four suffering season-ending injuries before Utah came to town.
The Utes actually outgained Notre Dame, but with two costly turnovers and a blocked punt returned for a score, the Irish shocked pretty much everyone except Lee Corso, who picked the Notre Dame to upset Utah amidst chuckles from the rest of the Gameday crew.
Who else but Corso could have seen a team that was surrendering an average of nearly 25 points a game holding a team that was averaging nearly 46 points a game to just three points.
OMG!

Gameballs

Former Florida coach Steve Spurrier got a victory ride on the shoulders of his South Carolina players in the stadium he once dubbed, "The Swamp: Only Gators get out alive." After his teams' 36-14 win over Florida, Spurrier quipped, "Sometimes Gamecocks come out alive too."

One Giant Leap for Chicken-Kind

The last time South Carolina won a football championship of any kind happened the same year Neil Armstrong first walked on the Moon.
After their thorough domination of the Gators on Saturday, the Gamecocks now have their second football championship - an SEC East title.
Led by a true freshman hero tailback in Marcus Lattimore (212 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries), South Carolina will now face No.2 Auburn in Atlanta on December 4 for the SEC title, and what could be the Gamecocks' third football championship.

Stanford's Andrew Luck guided the Cardinal to a game-winning fourth quarter drive over Arizona State.
With a little Luck

Trailing Arizona State late in the fourth quarter and looking uncharacteristically inept on offense, No.6 Stanford let their season ride on Luck - sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck, that is.
Luck drove the Cardinal 85 yards in 10 plays, culminating with Owen Marecic's one-yard, game-clinching TD run with just over five minutes remaining.
Luck didn't have his best day, completing 33 of 41 passes for 292 yards and one interception, but when Stanford needed him the most, he was clutch.

FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins made Seminoles fans forget about all their wide right and wide left miseries - even if just for one game - by drilling the third longest kick in school history.
Kicking the Habit

Despite a history book full of failed field goal attempts and shattered dreams, you only had to go back so far to dig up the last time Florida State blew a game with a wide-right field goal miss.
Just one week removed from missing a game-winning field goal wide right against North Carolina, Seminoles' placekicker Dustin Hopkins drilled a career-long, 55-yarder as time expired to lift FSU over Clemson, 16-13.
Hopkins' game-winner was the third longest kick in Florida State history.

Headscratchers

The punchless Florida offense could only muster 11 first downs against South Carolina.
Downright Offensive

It's really no secret that Florida's offense has been bad this season, but after averaging nearly 500 yards per game in their past two outings, wasn't it reasonable to think they'd be able to manage at least half that against South Carolina?
Apparently not.
Sure, it was Georgia and Vanderbilt, but the Gators' coaching staff had apparently forgotten what they did to get their offense rolling again heading into their SEC East showdown with the Gamecocks.
The result: Florida only mustered 226 yards, but even worse, could only manage 11 first downs and a pathetic 35 yards rushing against the ninth rated defense in the SEC.
The Gators' offense even managed to kill their own defense.
Florida went three and out a total of four times, turned the ball over on downs three times and coughed up the football twice on two other drives consisting of five plays or less.
Nine drives with fives plays or less.
That allowed South Carolina to dominate the time of possession 40:46 to 19:14, effectively wearing the Gators' defense completely out by forcing them to be on the field for more than two-thirds of the game.

By losing to pitiful Washington state, the entire Oregon State program suffers a black eye.
Leave it to the Beavers

You know you're having a bad season when you are 4-5 and on the verge of not making a bowl appearance for the first time in five years.
But missing a bowl may be better than what the Oregon State Beavers had the gall to do on Saturday.
They somehow managed to lose - at home - to one of the worst teams in Division I-A football over the past several years - Washington State.
Until Saturday, the Cougars had a combined record of 4-31 dating back to the beginning of 2008.
The 31-14 win over the Beavers snapped a 16-game conference losing streak held by Washington State.

Memo to coaches: Leave the wardrobe malfunctions to Janet Jackson from now on...PLEASE!!!
Enough of the Wardrobe Malfunctions already

OK, can we put an end to the "(Fill in the home team color here) Outs?"
How many times does it take coaches to see that the color their teams' or their fans' wear doesn't win football games?
Sure, there are cool traditions out there, like LSU wearing white jerseys at home, but these Black Outs, Blue Outs and Mauve Outs (OK, I made that last one up) are getting annoying, and not just to opposing teams.
No, apparently the opposing teams actually like them.
Just ask TCU.
Two weeks ago when Utah hosted the Horned Frogs for a Top-5 match-up, the Utes called for a Black Out.
Well, they almost got Shut Out, as TCU hammered them - and their silly all-black-clad team and fans - 47-7.
Last week, Florida coach Urban Meyer urged his fans to come to The Swamp head to toe in all blue, like the football team would, and asked for them to "bring the intensity."
They did just that.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was certainly rocking after the Gators' Andre Debose returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.
The fun and intensity ended right there however, as South Carolina - who had the audacity to shun a clever wardrobe ploy in favor of a good old fashioned game plan - dominated from that moment on.
Perhaps Meyer should have asked fans to bring some new ideas for his failing offense instead of pleading for a new fashion statement.

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