USC and UCLA fall flat on the road, Boise St looks to move up in rankings, and a number of big match ups this weekend, highlighted by No. 21 Arizona at No. 1 Oregon and No. 2 Auburn at No. 11 Alabama
By Michael Brown,
Sentinel Sports Writer
With the top-three ranked teams idle last Saturday, there weren’t any major changes of consequence in the national title picture of note with the exception of Boise State, which shutout a good Fresno State team and may jump TCU after this weekend.
Fourth-ranked Boise State beat Fresno State 51-0, and gained points in the BCS. The Broncos are ranked ahead of TCU in both human polls, and were helped this weekend when Virginia Tech won again and Oregon State smashed USC, helping Boise’s strength of schedule rating.
If Boise State wins at No. 19 Nevada that will likely seal the title hopes of TCU who faces 1-win New Mexico.
There were a lot of competitive games throughout the weekend, including a close call which involved 1-loss teams such as Ohio State, Michigan State and LSU.
USC and UCLA didn’t do themselves any favors by going on the road and getting embarrassed. The Trojans shot at 10 wins is gone after they were trounced again at Corvallis against Oregon St, and the Bruins hopes of becoming bowl eligible look bleak after they were rolled by the mediocre Washington Huskies. UCLA will have to win their remaining games at Arizona St. and at home against USC to play in a bowl game.
There will be a bevy of games this weekend that will factor in this season’s big picture. And with no delay, after the nation gets its fill of turkey and stuffing, college football will take center-stage Friday morning as No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Auburn and Boise State all take the field.
Coach Lane Kiffin chided his USC squad after several practices last week for its lack of energy. Well, instead of using that as motivation, the Trojans traveled to Oregon State and fell 36-7 in a listless effort.
Without the benefit of playing for a bowl game due to NCAA imposed sanctions, the Trojans could have thumbed their noses at critics by finishing 10-3. But the “Corvallis Curse” won-out again as the Trojans dropped its third straight game in the Northwest.
To add injury to insult, quarterback Matt Barkley suffered a sack at the end of the second quarter, resulting in a high-ankle sprain, ending his night. Kiffin said he was “extremely hopeful” that Barkley could go against Notre Dame, but didn’t offer any guarantees.
Barkley couldn’t generate any offense as the Trojans fell behind 20-0 in the first half in a game that was reminiscent of the 2008 contest, which saw the Trojans dig a 21-0 hole for themselves.
The Bruins didn’t fare any better last Thursday at Washington as it lost, 24-7. UCLA’s anemic offense came to a screeching halt after taking a 7-0 lead.
Quarterback Richard Brehaut was pulled from the game midway through the third quarter after an incompletion, and things just got worse. Brehaut was replaced by Darius Bell, who doubled up on the ineffective play by throwing only three passes, including one for a pick-six.
Coach Rick Neuheisel then replaced Bell with Clayton Tunney who promptly threw an interception three passes later.
The loss dropped UCLA to 4-6 overall, and they need to win-out at Arizona State this weekend and at home against USC to become bowl eligible.
One of the disadvantages of not having a playoff is separating BCS conference teams which have identical records.
I talked about the logjam in the Big Ten last week between the 1-loss teams, and last weekend didn’t clear anything up. No. 8 Ohio State edged past Iowa on the road, 20-17; No. 7 ranked Wisconsin thumped Michigan, 48-28 and tenth ranked Michigan State scored 22 fourth quarter points and rallied past Purdue, 35-31.
All three teams are 10-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin beat Ohio State, so they would win a tie-breaker, but with the conference’s uneven schedule and no title game, we’ll never know if the 2010 version of the Spartans is better than the Buckeyes.
Other 1-loss teams such as Stanford, Oklahoma State and Nevada also were impressive.
Michigan’s Denard Robinson didn’t have the best performance this weekend, but his record-setting numbers are impressive considering he’s a first-year starter.
Despite Michigan’s loss, Robinson finished 16-of-25 passing for 239 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he rushed 22 times for 121 yards with two touchdowns. Robinson set a single-season FBS rushing record by a quarterback with 1,538 yards. He also became the first quarterback to both pass and rush for more than 1,500 yards.
San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley in a 38-34 loss to Utah went 36-of-54 for 528 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Illinois tailback Mikel Leshoure christened the friendly confines of Wrigley Field with 33 carries for 330 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-27 win against Northwestern.
Big games this week
With a shot at the national title and the Heisman hanging in the balance, Auburn’s Cam Newton has a chance to silence a lot of critics as the undefeated Tigers face rival No. 11 Alabama in the “Iron Bowl.”
Not only will the state of Alabama be focused on this game, but fans of TCU and Boise State will surely be tuned-in to see if the Tide can defeat the Tigers.
Top-ranked Oregon will have a challenge on its hands as No. 21 Arizona visits Friday. Boise State will be on upset alert as it visits Nevada in an all or nothing game for the Broncos.
Tenth-ranked Michigan State is at Penn State and Michigan will play rival Ohio State in crucial Big Ten match ups, which loom huge for Rose Bowl selections.
No. 5 LSU at 12th ranked Arkansas and No. 13 Oklahoma at No. 9 Oklahoma State are also intriguing games.