With one-third of the season printed in the books, a couple of things became clearer on the football field Saturday: Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in America.
In Tuscaloosa, it was Classic Nick Saban, as Alabama won its 20th consecutive SEC opener, in a 38-14 bludgeoning of another pretender, the Razorbacks of Arkansas.
The Tide’s D was on full boil, scoring a touchdown, while holding, what was supposed to be a vaunted Arkansas offense to 17 yards rushing. Yikes!
It was also Heisman Trophy contender Trent Richardson’s 2011 coming out party, as the big man rushed for 120 yards, hauled in a 61 yard TD pass, accounting for a combined; 211 yards of offense.
Alabama also found its QB of the future, as sophomore A.J. McCarron (15-20, 2 TDs – 200 yards), was Namath cool.
In Morgantown, it was man against boys, as the “Mad-Hatter,” coach Les Miles’ Tigers toyed with another pretender, humbling the Mountaineers of West Virginia; 47-21. The game can be summarized in three letters, and three words: SEC, speed and defense.
LSU has also found its triggerman in the rejuvenated senior Jarrett Lee, who is now as comfortable running the offense, as its head coach, wearing his hat. It was also The Bayou Bengals 36th consecutive non-conference victory!!
In Ann-Arbor it was another “ho-hum,” 200 yard (21 carries) rushing performance by Michigan QB Denard Robinson, (over 700 yards – 4 games), as Brady Hoke’s undefeated Wolverines (4-0) defeated his old team, San Diego State; 28-7.
Robinson accumulated 157 of those yards in the first half, while rushing for 3 touchdowns, but he remains one dimensional, as his 8-17, 2 picks, 93 yards would indicate.
One of coach Brady Hoke’s stated preseason goals is to make Michigan a more balanced attack, so far it hasn’t played out, but a 4-0 record is a nice caveat. Just ask the Maize and Blue faithful.
Holy Toledo!! In Syracuse, Toledo was robbed!!
With 2:07 remaining on the clock, Syracuse kicker Ross Krautman kicked an extra point to put the Orangemen (3-1) up 30-27.
The Rockets coaches challenged the kick, claiming that it hit the upright, but never went over the cross bar.
The television replay clearly indicated that was the case, but the reviewer in the booth ruled otherwise, calling the kick good, and the score remained: 30-27.
Maybe he had dough on Syracuse, a minus 2.5 favorite!!
On the ensuing kickoff, Toledo marched to the Cuse three yard line, and then kicked what should have been the game ending, winning field goal, but because of that bogus ruling, it was simply a kick to send the game into overtime.
Well, you guessed it; the Rockets lost 33-30 in overtime, on a wining Syracuse field goal, and more importantly, covered the spread!! AMAZING!!
After the game, Big East coordinator of officials Terry McAulay released a statement, admitting that the replay officials made the wrong call on the PAT attempt. Really!!
How about the fighting Owls of Temple.
The Temple of Doom, on the road, destroyed former UConn coach Randy Edsall’s Maryland Terrapins, 38-7, as starry Temple tailback Bernard Pierce, ran for 149 yards, and a school record five touchdowns, in the dismantling, as the Owls are now nesting at 3-1.
While the boos rained down on a partially filled Byrd Stadium, signaling an official end to the Edsall honeymoon, the Owls flew off to a 31-0 half-time lead, and controlled the ball for an astounding; 41 minutes.
The Maryland faithful may rue the day the Administration jettisoned its former winning (75 wins – 10 years) coach Ralph Friedgen, last season’s the ACC, Coach of the Year. Maybe instead of focusing on its ridiculous uniforms, Edsall’s Terrapins should place it focus on tackling, otherwise its going to get very ugly at College Park.
In Aggie land, in its last season in the Big 12, A&M jumped to a 20-3 halftime lead, only to see Oklahoma State come roaring back with 27 unanswered points, 21 in a dominating third quarter, holding on for a signature 30 -29 victory.
It ended A&M’s hopes for a storybook final season, and puts Oklahoma on notice, that the Boys from Stillwater are for real.
The Cowboys old man QB, (28 years) Brandon Weeden, threw for a school record 438 yards, and wideouts Justin Blackmon, and Josh Cooper, combined for 244 yards receiving yards.
In the; “you get what you wish for department”: if A&M has trouble in the Big 12, what do they think is in store once they arrive in the SEC?!!
Clemson, for only the second time in 25 years, has defeated back to back ranked teams.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers, 4-0 for the first time since 2007, staggered Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles 35-30, setting up next week’s showdown in Blacksburg, against Virginia Tech.
It was the Rajh Boyd aerial show, as the Clemson gunslinger had has second consecutive 300 plus yard performance, the first Clemson QB to achieve that feat since 2003.
He received a nice assist from freshman sensation, wideout Sammy Watkins, who had a pair of TD catches, and now has a half-dozen for the season.
In Atlanta, coach Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets, had its triple option nightmare in fifth gear, as Tech dismantled a very good North Carolina defense; 35-28.
GT still has some issues on defense, but you’ve got to love a coach who calls the plays on the fly, with no notes, or scripted plays, but makes the calls as the game evolves.
Tech is a very dangerous foe, and is 4-0, for the first time, since it captured a share of the National Championship, in 1990.
In Miami, maybe Al Golden should have stayed at Temple, as his Hurricanes lost a heartbreaker to Kansas State (3-0), 28-24.
The Hurricanes had a first and goal from the 2 as time was running down, but after four cracks, the last, initially ruled a touchdown, but upon replay, (another replay – at least they got it right), it was ruled that Miami’s QB Harris was down, and with 49 ticks left on the clock, Bill Synder’s Wildcats, who outplayed the Canes, escaped Miami with he miracle victory.
In Oxford, Mississippi the death watch is on for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who after losing to Georgia 27-14, has now slipped to 1-3, 0-2 in the SEC, with little hope of a winning season, and little hope of retaining his employment.
Meanwhile in Durham, North Carolina, Ole Miss’s former coach, David Cutcliff has his Dukies 2-2, after his second consecutive victory, over a bad, Tulane team. Congrats to the smart kids.
In the old Friends Category: Charlie Weis, the Gators offense coordinator, has rejuvenated the Florida offense, while over in Cambridge, Timmy Murphy of Harvard (Silver Lake Regional High), won his Ivy League opener.
Unfortunately, another Silver Lake alum, Dartmouth’s Buddy Teevens, lost a shocker to Sacred Heart; 24-21.
And one of the Saturday Football’s favs – Illinois coach Ron Zook, has the Illini 4-0 for the first time since; Give ‘Em Hell Harry – Truman occupied the White House in 1951.
Although it wasn’t pretty, Steve Spurrier has his South Carolina Gamecocks 4-0, for the first time since some guy name Lou Holtz roamed its sideline a decade ago.
And finally, where’s Pete Carroll when you need him. USC driving for the go-ahead touchdown saw its QB Matt Barkley fumble which lead to an Arizona State TD, and then on the next possession threw a pick 6 for the lopsided 43-22 loss to the Sun Devils.
But the most damning comments came from sideline reporter, former coach Bob Davie who said, “I was on the USC sideline the last time they came to Sun Devil Stadium. And nothing against USC coach Lane Kiffin, but when Pete Carroll was here, the sideline was alive, and everyone was jumping around and into the game, unlike now, where it is very quiet.” Ouch!
Oh, yeah, Notre Dame is 2-2, after another mistake filled lack-luster, 15-12 victory over Pitt.
That’s it from cyber-space, make sure to read our week five handicap report, which will be up and running Wednesday night. Until then, Peace. PK