It was a great and glorious 10 weeks for the No. 2 Texas Tech Red Raiders with an undefeated 10-0 record and big wins over Nebraska, Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma State. They looked unbeatable, unstoppable and headed to the BCS National Championship Game.
Then a funny thing happened when they took a trip to Oklahoma, the No. 5 ranking, which had lost to Texas 5 weeks ago. Either someone had forgotten to tell the Red Raiders, or had forgotten to listen, that Oklahoma led the nation with 23 consecutive home wins.
No one had to remind the Sooners, they remembered it all too well, hitting the Red Raiders close to the head with a 2×4 in an impressive 65-21 blowout. Quarterback Sam Bradford threw more than 300 yards and 4 touchdowns, and DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown rushed for 5 more touchdowns.
Both teams came in with explosive offenses. Both were 2 of the top 3 teams in the country in passing offense and scoring offense, with a combined average of 788 yards and 98 points per game. Statistically, both teams were equal in rush defense and scoring defense. They were both equal in pass defense and their pass defense stats were bad.
What should have been a great exciting scoring game turned into a great game for Oklahoma. Texas Tech ended up sucking up water from a pond in Louisiana.
Three other ranked teams lost to other ranked opponents. No. 16 Brigham Young lost on the road to No. 8 Utah, 48-24. No. 17 Michigan State lost on the way to No. 7 Penn State, 49-18. No. 20 Pittsburgh lost on the road to No. 19 Cincinnati, 28-21.
Four other ranked teams lost to unrated opponents, which is never a good idea if you want to win the favor of the people involved in the weekly national rankings. These types of losses can cost teams thousands of dollars in lost bowl revenue by being passed on by proxy to be in the higher paying bowls.
Losers included the No. 18 LSU Tigers who lost at home to Mississippi, 31-13. Maryland No. 22 tortoises that were slapped at home by the state of Florida, 37-3 (I know, edible little turtles. I don’t know how long a Maryland home run spent thinking of this nickname for a football team, But I suspect it had to be hours after exhausting all reasonable names). The No. 23 Miami (FL) Hurricanes who lost at home to Georgia Tech, 41-23. The No. 25 North Carolina Tar Heels who was slapped at home by arch rival North Carolina State Wolfpack, 41-10.
So 8 of the 18 AP Top 25 Poll teams lost this week (44%), and 4 of the 8 lost to unranked teams. On the bright side, 10 of the top 18 ranked teams (56%) won and continued to advance, 6 of them with a vengeance. The 5 butt kickers besides Oklahoma included:
No. 3 Florida (10-1) who defeated 1-AA The Citadel 70-19, scoring on his first 7 possessions, racking up 512 yards of offense in the first half alone and becoming the first team in the Southeastern Conference (SEC ) in scoring at least 42 points in 6 consecutive games. I like Florida, but it is very improper to play against 1-AA teams, even early in the season, much less late.
No. 7 Penn State at home over No. 17 Michigan State 49-18. The Nittany Lions showed that the Spartans (albeit 9-3) really aren’t ready to play and beat big teams just yet. Penn State’s Daryll Clark threw for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns, his career-high, and Nittany Lion’s defense kept Spartan Javon Ringer at 42 yards, the season low (that’s not Ringer, he’s an offensive line. Michigan State controlled by Penn State).
No. 8 Utah at home over No. 16 Brigham Young 48-24. This victory was huge for the Utes, who have a 12-0 undefeated season, a Mountain West Conference championship, a BCS Bowl Series date and a win over BYU for the first time in 3 years.
No. 10 Ohio State at home over arch rival Michigan 42-7. The Buckeyes totally humiliated a now dysfunctional Wolverine team led by first-year coach Rich Rodriguez, giving Michigan its worst loss to Ohio State in 40 years. Michigan is 3-9 on the year and is a mess of what was once a proud and successful program. Rodriguez, who achieved tremendous success in West Virginia, has a lot of work to do.
No. 15 Texas Christian (TCU) at home on Air Force 44-10. Andy Dalton threw 2 TD passes and ran for 2 more scores as the Horned Frogs (what a name for a team) racked up a 10-win season. The other 4 winners were:
No. 9 Boise State on Highway 41-34 in Nevada. The Broncos were lucky to come out of this game undefeated when Nevada won the second half, 31-17. When you give up 34 points to a 6-5 team, you are not as good as your record says.
No. 14 Ball State on the road in Central Michigan 31-24. Central Michigan came into this game 8-2 and the Cardinals needed a touchdown in the fourth quarter to win this one.
The No. 19 Cincinnati at home over Pittsburgh 28-21, marking their first win over the Panthers in 8 games. Despite a broken arm, Tony Pike threw three touchdown passes and you thought Pittsburgh was tough.
Oregon state No. 21 on the road over Arizona, 19-17, on a 24-yard field goal on the final play from second-year kicker Justin Kahut. It was a sweet redemption for Kahut, who missed an extra point attempt that would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter.
If the Oregon State Beavers beat their arch rival, the Oregon Ducks, in their last game, they would qualify for the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965. That’s because the Beavers managed to upset the Southern California visitors early in the season. season.
Seven Top 25 teams were inactive this week-No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Texas, No. 6 Southern California (USC), No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Missouri, No. 13 Georgia and No. 24 Oregon.
Going into the last two weeks of the regular season, there are only 4 undefeated teams left. No. 1 Alabama (11-0), No. 8 Uath (12-0), No. 9 Boise State (11-0), and No. 15 Ball State (11-0). Utah will remain undefeated when its season ends. On Saturday, Alabama hosts Auburn in the state, its archrival, Boise State hosts Fresno State on Friday and Ball State hosts Western Michigan on Tuesday (11/25-08).
In other news this weekend, the 0-10 Washington Huskies traveled to Pullman to face their archrivals 1-10 Washington State Cougars in a game I have dubbed the “2008 Losers Bowl.” Losers Bowl seemed like a correct title as Washington State’s only win was against 1-AA Portland State, so they really had a combined 1-A record of 0-20.
The Huskies, winless or hopeless, lead the nation in one category: They have the longest losing streak in Division 1-A, 13 consecutive losses. This confrontation actually got exciting near the end, as Washington held a 10-point lead at halftime and a 3-point lead with 56 seconds left.
The Huskies, however, allowed the Cougars to go from their own 20 to the Husky 11, where sophomore Nico Grasu kicked a 28-yard field goal on the last play of regulation time to tie the game at 13. Ironically , Husky kicker Ryan Perkins lost 28 yards about 3.5 minutes earlier.
The teams traded field goals on their first possessions in overtime, but Perkins missed again at 37 yards during Washington’s second possession. Four attempts later, Grasu nailed one from the same 37 yards to give the Cougars their first 1-A victory of the season and their third win over Washington in the past 4 years.
The rest of what happened over the weekend was just a showcase for a group of teams going nowhere at roughly 1,000 miles per hour.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley