Six AP Top 25 teams can testify what a pain in the butt road games are – all were upset during college football’s 13th week of play, and 2 of the 6 will be facing off in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game this week.
The six teams with targets on their back included 7th-ranked Georgia Tech, 15th-ranked Clemson, 8th-ranked Pittsburgh, 11th-ranked Oklahoma State, 20th-ranked Mississippi and 23rd-ranked North Carolina. All but Pittsburgh were not just on-the-road, but also tackling an in-state rival.
Georgia (7-5) beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-2), 30-24, as the Bulldogs’ Washaun Ealey rushed 20 times for 183 yards (9.15 yards per carry) and Caleb King rushed 18 times for 166 yards (9.22 ypc)-349 yards between them. Ealey and King sound like a comedy team but the Georgia Tech players were too busy sucking Louisiana pond water to laugh.
Georgia and its coach Mark Richt have taken their lumps this year with losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky, but few can match Richt’s 9-year record against in-state rival Georgia Tech. Richt is 8-1 against his prime rival, a fact that may save him his job since his 5 losses this year are the most he has had in any year at Georgia.
South Carolina (7-5) upset the Clemson Tigers (8-4), 34-17, as the Gamecocks’ Stephen Garcia threw 3 touchdown passes. Clemson started well when C. J. Spiller opened the game with an 88-yard kickoff return for a TD, an NCAA record-setting 7th of his career, but that was about all the Tigers could bring to the table.
South Carolina’s 24th ranked scoring defense held Clemson’s 24th ranked scoring offense in check-defense again trumping offense in an equal face off.
The surprise losses by Georgia Tech and Clemson put a real damper on the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game the two will play this Saturday; the winner will covet a spot in a BCS game and earn a big payday.
West Virginia (8-3) handed Pittsburgh (9-2) its second loss of the season, 19-16, when Mountaineer redshirt freshman Tyler Bitancurt ended the annual Backyard Brawl by successfully kicking a 43-yard field goal as time expired. It was Bitancurt’s 4th field goal of the night so he personally accounted for 63% of West Virginia’s 19 points. West Virginia’s defense stood tall, keeping the Panthers out of the end zone on 5 Pittsburgh drives inside the Mountaineers’ 30-yard line.
Oklahoma (7-5) took time out from its pedestrian season to remind Oklahoma State (9-3) who really rules the Big 12 in Oklahoma by shutting out the Cowboys, 27-0. The Sooners’ DeMarco Murray scored two TDs and Ryan Broyles returned a punt 88 yards for another score. The defeat was tough to swallow for Oklahoma State since the Cowboys were seeking their first ever BCS bowl appearance.
Mississippi State (now 5-7) not only upset Mississippi (8-4), but hammered Ole Miss, 41-27, in shocker. A backup quarterback-Chris Relf-accounted for 3 touchdowns and Anthony Dixon rushed for 133 yards and another TD as the Mississippi Rebels looked on in disbelief. Known as the annual Egg Bowl, Mississippi surely laid one.
The 41 points scored by Mississippi State was the most by the Bulldogs in the 106-year series since a 41-14 victory in 1917, and the most Ole Miss has given up this season.
North Carolina State (5-7) upset North Carolina (8-4), 28-27, as the Wolfpack’s Russell Wilson connected with Owen Spencer on a 38-yard, go-ahead TD pass two plays into the 4th quarter. Wilson threw 4 TD passes in the game and Alan-Michael Cash blocked a field goal attempt with about 5 minutes left to seal the Tar Heels attempted comeback. The win was the Wolfpack’s 3rd straight against the in-state rival North Carolina Tar Heels.
Four other Top 25 teams didn’t miss a beat while beating in-state rivals in away games.
No. 2-ranked Alabama (12-0) remained unbeaten by sliding by Auburn (7-5), 26-21. No. 3-ranked Texas (12-0) remained unbeaten by outlasting Texas A&M (6-6), 49-39. No. 14-ranked Virginia Tech (9-3) slammed Virginia (3-9), 42-13; and No. 19th-ranked Miami Florida (9-3) put down South Florida (7-4), 31-10.
Eight other Top 25 teams won home games, and 4 of the 8 won against in-state rivals as well-Florida, Brigham Young, Southern California and Houston.
No. 1-ranked Florida (12-0) remained unbeaten by pounding Florida State (6-6), 37-10, as the Gators’ Tim Tebow threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for 2 more. The victories by unbeaten Florida and Alabama sets up a clash for the SEC title game this Saturday, and the winner earns the right to play in the final season-ending game for the National Championship.
No. 18-ranked Brigham Young (10-2) turned back No. 22-ranked Utah (now 9-3), 26-23, as senior quarterback Max Hall found Andrew George with a 25-yard TD pass in overtime. The win by the Cougars was their 3rd in 4 years over the uppity Utah Utes, who intercepted Hall 5 times last year in a 48-24 blowout on their home field.
Max Hall sought revenge and redemption, and created enough smack talk after BYU’s win to fill a bulletin board in Utah’s Salt Lake City locker room. Here is Mad Max on the Utah Utes:
“I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything. It felt real good to send those guys home. I think the whole university and their fans and the organization is classless. They threw beer on my family and stuff last year and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don’t respect them and they deserved to lose.”
Well, thanks, Max, for letting us know how you feel.
No. 24-ranked Southern Cal (8-3) beat UCLA (6-6), 28-7; and No. 25-ranked Houston (10-2) just decimated Rice (2-10), 73-14, as Case Kellum passed for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for another score. The Houston Cougars have the top-scoring offense in the nation, racking up an average of 45 points a game.
No. 4-ranked Texas Christian (12-0) remained unbeaten at home by whipping New Mexico (1-11), 51-10, as Andy Dalton matched a career-high 4 TD passes with two of them to Antoine Hicks in a 12-second span. The win wrapped up TCU’s first undefeated regular season in 71 years-that is a long time between rains in the dusty Texas desert.
No. 5-ranked Cincinnati (11-0) remained unbeaten by outlasting a really crummy 3-8 Illinois team, 49-36. The win was a sad statement for the Bearcats. Cincinnati has the 19th best scoring defense in the nation, but the Bearcats apparently had too many tacos prior to this game.
No. 6-ranked Boise State (12-0) remained unbeaten in an offensive display by outlasting Nevada (8-4), 44-33, as Kellen Moore tied his career-high 5 touchdown passes. Nevada was a worthy opponent as the Wolf Pack had averaged 52 points per game while winning 8 straight. Boise State is 2nd nationally in scoring offense and Navada is 5th.
No. 17-ranked LSU (9-3) had its hands full while beating Arkansas (7-5), 33-30, as Tiger Josh Jasper hit a 41-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to force an overtime, and then made a 36-yarder to score the win.
Two more unranked teams became bowl eligible. Wyoming (6-6) just slipped by Colorado State (3-9), 17-16, and Connecticut (6-6) easily beat Syracuse (4-8), 56-31.
There were two candidates for the no-defense game of the week. Stanford (8-4) nipped Notre Dame (6-6), 45-38. Stanford is 65th nationally in scoring defense and Notre Dame is 64th. Utah State (4-8) upset Idaho (7-5), 52-49. Utah State is ranked 107th nationally in scoring defense and Idaho 111th.
There is no telling how many more games the Idaho Vandals would have won with a decent defense, their offense had no problem putting up points as they ranked 23rd in scoring offense.
Central Michigan (10-2) won its 10th game of the season by beating Northern Illinois (7-5), 45-31. Ohio (9-3) handed Temple (9-3) its first loss after 9 straight victories, beating the Owls 35-17.
In the abbreviation game of the week, UCF (8-4) beat UAB (5-7) by a touchdown, 34-27. It reminded one of the old George Carlin comedic routine where as a sportscaster he says, “And now for some scores… 5-2, 6-5, 7-3, 2-1 and in a shutout, 1-0.” If you are wondering, that was the University of Central Florida over the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Southern Methodist (7-5) continues to get better with a 26-21 against Tulane (3-9). SMU led 20-14 after 3 quarters and then did what many teams cannot do, close out the win without screwing it up.
Navy (now 8-4) traveled to Hawaii (6-6) and promptly made the Warriors bowl eligible by losing, 24-17. There is an unconfirmed rumor that the Samoan section of the Warriors, after a 17-17 tie at halftime, ate more coconuts during halftime, thus refueling to hold the Midshipmen scoreless in the second half.
One more game was worth noting. Washington (4-7) shut out in-state rival Washington State (1-11), 30-0, in the Apple Cup. The Huskies began the season by losing by 8 points to 11th-ranked LSU, then beat Idaho, upset 3rd-ranked Southern California, lost away games to Stanford and Notre Dame, upset Arizona, then suffered 4 more defeats before blanking the Washington State Cougars.
The game was significant for several reasons:
1) It was Washington’s first shutout over Washington State in 45 years; the last one came during a 14-0 victory in 1964.
2) The Husky’s defensive shutout was its first since a 27-0 win over Southern California in 1997, a span of 143 games.
3) Freshman Chris Polk rushed for 130 yards, pushing his season rushing total 1,019, breaking quarterback Jake Locker’s freshman record of 986 rushing yards, making Polk the first freshman in school history to top 1,000 yards, and marking the 4th consecutive game that Polk has topped 100 yards rushing. And, yes, the Huskies are very excited about their freshman running back.
4) Washington State’s 11 losses this season are the most in Cougar history.
5) Washington State’s 22 losses in two seasons are the most ever in Pac-10 history. The Cougars were 2-11 last season.
Six Top 25 teams were idle this week-9th-ranked Ohio State (10-2), 10th-ranked Oregon (9-2), 12th-ranked Penn State (10-2), 13th-ranked Iowa (10-2), 16th-ranked Oregon State (8-3), and 21st-ranked California (8-3). Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa have completed their season play.
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley