Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summary of Football Association - five top 25 teams lose unbeaten and placement in AP Poll

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When you figure out what is more exciting and unpredictable than college football during the fall season, let me know.

No less than 5 unbeaten AP Top 25 teams lost their first game over the weekend, and 3 of them suffered major upsets as well. Seventh-ranked Florida, 9th-ranked Stanford, 11th-ranked Wisconsin, 18th-ranked Southern California (USC) and 23rd-ranked North Carolina State all lost.

No. 1 Alabama just took it to Florida something awful, not only beating but crushing the visiting Gators 31-6 in a humiliation Florida players will not soon forget. In the battle of arguably the two best current coaches in college football - Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida's Urban Meyer - Saban wins this time hands down.

With an Alabama defense like a swarm of thirsty hornets -- Courtney Upshaw had 4 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and C. J. Mosley returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown - the Gators committed 4 turnovers, and could not even smell the Alabama end zone.

And do you remember Florida's 15-minute hero last week? You know, freshman Trey Burton who scored 6 touchdowns against Kentucky to break Tim Tebow's record, he gained all of 5 yards on 4 carries. That's Crimson Tide defense with style points.

The Tide may not have a lot going on offensively, but the sheer running authority of Mark Ingram (who scored twice on short runs) and Trent Richardson is enough to scare the bejesus out of any team.

Alabama's victory was the second-most lopsided loss of Urban Meyer's 6 years of coaching at Florida, and it came before a red sea of 101,000+ fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium. What a night for the Crimson Tide faithful, who treat SEC games like Civil War battles against the Northern intruders.

The 4th-ranked Oregon Ducks, a team that seems to come alive after they look like a cooked goose, rose from the dead after the 7th-ranked Stanford Cardinal flew into their stadium and took a very impressive, very quick 21-3 lead in the 1st quarter of this first-time match-up of these two schools as nationally-ranked teams.

After spotting Oregon an opening field goal, the Ducks could only watch as Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck threw an 18-yard TD pass, ran for a 10-yard TD, and then passed for another 44-yard TD.

But it was a couple of Oregon sophomores who would win the day. QB Darron Thomas would go 20-for-29 (69%) for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns, and LaMichael James would gain 257 yards on 31 carries (7.65 ypc) and score 3 times on runs of 5 and 3 yards before finishing Stanford off with a 76-yard burst in the final minutes.

This game was all about offense as Oregon gained 626 yards and Stanford 518. It would appear that neither team, unlike Alabama, has a defense worth talking about.

The Ducks helped their cause immensely by forcing two crucial turnovers, and holding The Cardinal pointless in the second half while scoring 4 touchdowns. It was the 13th straight win for the Ducks at Autzen Stadium, and their 10th consecutive Pac-10 victory.

Stanford has not won a game while ranked in the Top 10 since 1970.

The 11th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers forced 3 early turnovers on the 24th-ranked Michigan State Spartans, but still went into the locker room at halftime on the short end of a 20-10 score.

Head coach Mark Dantonio, who suffered a mild heart attack following his team's last-second overtime win over Notre Dame, found himself back in the hospital for this game because of a blood clot in his leg. He had intended to be back in the coaching box.

Enter offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who led the Spartans 45-7 win over AA Northern Colorado last week. On Michigan State's crucial drive late in the game, Treadwell called for a successful attempt on a 4th-and-1 situation that eventually led to the 34-24 upset win.

The Spartans would convert three 3rd-downs on the drive before needing all 4 downs to score near the goal line on a 1-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to B. J. Cunningham to seal the victory.

In the most surprising upset of the week, the unranked Washington Huskies (1-2) traveled to Los Angeles and upset the 18th-ranked USC Trojans 32-31 for the second time in two years on a pressure-packed, last-play, 32-field goal by wonder kicker Erik Folk.

Last year at Husky Stadium, Erik Folk nailed a 22-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to upset then 3rd-ranked Southern Cal in what became a signature victory for first-year coach Steve Sarkisian and his Huskies.

"Sark" (Sarkisian's nickanme) and USC coach Lane Kiffin both ran the Southern Cal offense as coordinators for Pete Carroll before Carroll left to become coach of the NFL Seattle Seahawks this year.

It was de javu all over again Saturday as Folk was forced to wait through three timeouts before nailing his winning kick with, once again, 3 seconds showing on the clock.

In one of Sarkisian's smarter moves since becoming the Washington Husky coach, he stopped trying to force Jake Locker into becoming an NFL pocket quarterback. He let the fifth-year senior be himself by making the game plan simple and using Locker's legs as well as his arm to humble USC once again.

After looking like anything but a Heisman candidate in Washington's brutal 56-21 loss to Nebraska two weeks ago, Locker reminded everyone of why he was considered THE top NFL draft prospect and Heisman Trophy candidate.

He played like a seasoned warrior against USC, going 24-for-40 passing (60%) for 310 yards and a 44-yard TD pass to Devin Aguilar, and rushing for another 110 yards on 12 carries (9.17 ypc).

Locker nearly scored another TD on a long run in the 2nd quarter, but USC's Shareece Wright came from behind to punch the ball loose and through the end zone for a touchback.

In the 4th quarter, Locker took a knee to the back on his head while on the ground near the goal line and got his breath knocked out on the same play. Backup Keith Price immediately came in and tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Chris Izbicki to put the Huskies ahead, 29-28.

Locker returned to engineer the long drive that set up Erik Folk's dramatic last-play winning kick. It was the Huskies first win at the LA Coliseum since 1996. The Trojans had won 47 of 48 games on their home field against Washington until losing 3 of the last 5 games.

The 5th unbeaten team to fall was the 23rd-ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack, which could not stop the unranked Virginia Tech Hoakies on this day. The Hoakies had a lofty pre-season ranking that evaporated overnight with season-opening losses to 3rd-ranked Boise State and AA James Madison.

A different team met NC State over the weekend. After being down 17-7 at the half and then being down 17 points, the Hoakies found themselves in the 2nd half by scoring on 5 of their 7 possessions to launch one of the most impressive comebacks in school history.

In the end, NC State could not keep up, losing 41-30. Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor passed for 3 touchdowns and rushed for another 121 yards, running back Darren Evans added 160 yards on 15 carries (10.67 ypc), and Jayron Holsey intercepted Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson 3 times.

Frank Beamer's Hoakies have now beaten East Carolina and shut out Boston College to bring their record back to 3-2.

The upset losses hurt Wisconsin, USC and NC State. The Badgers dropped from 11th to 20th in the AP Top 25 Poll. The Trojans and the Wolfpack went flying right out of the Top 25 along with USC and Penn State, and were replaced in the last 4 slots by Oklahoma State, Florida State, Missouri and Air Force.

Several ranked teams scored big wins that will not hurt them a bit. They included:

No. 3 Boise State (4-0) shut out hapless, inept New Mexico State 59-zip. No. 5 TCU (5-0) shut out weak Colorado State 27-zip. No. 10 Auburn (5-0) breezed past a weak Louisiana-Monroe team, 52-3. No. 17 Iowa beat No. 22 Penn State 24-3. And No. 25 Nevada (5-0) took care of UNLV 44-26.

No. 6 Nebraska, No. 13 Utah, No. 14 Arizona, No. 15 Arkansas, and No. 19 South Carolina were all idle.

The 4 teams that played their way into the AP Top 25 Poll did so by winning. The new 22nd-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-0) nipped Texas A&M 38-35. The 23rd-ranked Florida State Seminoles beat Virginia in an away game, 34-14. The 24th-ranked Missouri Tigers were idle. And the 25th-ranked Air Force Falcons turned back Navy 14-6.

Copyright 2010 Ed Bagley








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