By Casey Keefe
Looking at the schedule as we headed into the weekend there wasn't a whole lot of sexy matchups that jumped out at me. I figured we were in for a ho-hum Saturday, but boy was I wrong. Despite the lack of buzz going in, we were witness to the best day of the season so far.
Let's take a closer look…
Michigan State 34 Notre Dame 31 (OT): The Irish learned another lesson in heartbreak. This was a well-played back and forth game. Just as I predicted Notre Dame struggled big time against Michigan State's run game. The Spartans gashed the Irish at will, rushing for 203 yards. What kept the Irish in the game was Dayne Crist's ability to pick on State's secondary as he passed for 369 yards and 4 touchdowns. It looked like Notre Dame was on their way to a big win when Crist hit Michael Floyd with a 24 yard touchdown pass in the 4th quarter to give them a 28-21 lead. But the Spartans battled back to tie the game despite their numerous penalties and self-inflicted wounds.
Nothing was doing the rest of regulation and we headed to overtime. Notre Dame cashed in on a field goal, then got the stop on defense they needed. State lined up for a 46 yard field goal. Snap, spot, FAKE!...Aaron Bater hit Charlie Gantt with a game winning 29 yard touchdown pass. Notre Dame was completely fooled. It was a bad job by Brian Kelly and company. They should have been more aware of a possible fake considering a 46 yard field goal is no gimme. Gantt was wide open and had a clear running lane straight to the endzone. It was a genius call by State head coach Mark Dantonio who unfortunately had a heart attack the next day. Crazy. Fortunately, Dantonio is good condition and should make a full recovery.
Arizona 34 Iowa 27: The Wildcats finally got the showcase win they've been looking for, but it didn't come easy. After dominating the first half and mounting a 20 point lead the Hawkeyes backs were jammed against the wall. Kirk Ferentz made some major adjustments at halftime and Iowa came out storming. Ricky Stanzi led the way as Iowa scored 20 unanswered points to tie the game. The last score come by way of a Broderick Binns pick-6. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes it stayed 6, because the extra point attempt was blocked. So the score remained 27-27 and that's when Nick Foles and company woke back up. What haunted the Hawkeyes for much of the first half reappeared which was Iowa's inability to keep up with the up-tempo spread offense of the Wildcats. Foles led a 9 play, 72 yard drive which resulted in a TD pass to William Wright. From there the defense clamped down and it was all she wrote. Iowa done and just like that Arizona claimed their showcase win.
Texas 24 Texas Tech 14: The Longhorns made it hard on themselves. They certainly didn't earn any style points. They outplayed Tech across the board and did a great job on defense, holding the Red Raiders to just 144 total yards. They were +16 in time of possession and picked off Taylor Potts twice, part of Tech's 3 turnovers on the night. Unfortunately for the Longhorns they had 4 turnovers of their own, 3 of them due to Garrett Gilbert interceptions. They also committed 11 penalties. It wasn't pretty but they were able to overcome all that thanks to their defense and a long 22 play drive in the 4th quarter which ate 9 minutes off the clock and resulted in a nail in the coffin TD. It was ugly but Mack Brown and the 'Horns will take it.
Arkansas 31 Georgia 24: This game may have been decided when the 4 game suspension for star receiver A.J. Green was upheld. Without Green, the Bulldogs' offense struggled to get much going until the 4th quarter. To their credit they battled back and managed to tie the game up 24-24 late. That's when Ryan Mallett stole the show. With under a minute left, facing adversity and a raucous Georgia crowd, Mallett connected with Greg Childs on a 40 yard game winning touchdown. The score capped off a huge day for Mallet (21/33 – 380 yards – 3 touchdowns) and catapulted the Razorbacks to just their 2nd road win in the last 9 tries under Bobby Petrino.
Wisconsin 20 Arizona State 19: This was a very well played game. I was impressed with the Sun Devils ability to keep up with the Badgers. John Clay did his usual thing on the ground rushing for 123 yards and a TD. It was his 9th straight 100 yard rushing game. Scott Tolzien was sharp and mistake free but the Badgers defense had a tough time against State's spread offense. They also were atrocious on special teams, allowing 261 kick return yards. With 4 minutes left the Sun Devils scored what appeared to be the game-tying touchdown. It brought them within 1 with the extra point pending. That attempt however was blocked by Jay Valai. The air went out of Sun Devil Stadium. Tolzien and company took over and converted a couple big 3rd downs to milk the clock and ice the game.
- Florida's struggles on offense continue. John Brantley was unimpressive against Tennessee's defense. Mike Pouncey continues to be a disaster at Center. We can all count on death, taxes and a bad snap by Pouncey. You can never take a road win in the SEC for granted but this 31-17 victory was downright ugly. Despite all the talent, this team is NOWHERE near the Tebow Gators we became accustomed to.
- Auburn saved their season in the second half against Clemson. They trailed 17-0 at halftime but exploded after the break. They knotted the game 24-24 and to overtime we went. After an Auburn field goal, Clemson was stuffed and had to settle for a chip shot field goal attempt to send the game into double OT. Chandler Catanzaro split the uprights on the 27 yard attempt. But hold it…there was an illegal procedure penalty which pushed the ball back 5 yards. The second try…no good. Auburn wins 27-24.
- UConn suffered an inexplicable loss to Temple. The Huskies were sleep walking through the first half. Randy Edsall tore into the team at halftime. They came out and rode Jordan Todman in the second half, but the game turned back in Temple's favor early in the 4th quarter. The Huskies had a 16-14 lead when Todman had the ball ripped from his arms and taken back for an Owls touchdown. It was all Temple from there as they won 30-16. Now it's back to the drawing board for UConn who falls to 1-2 on the season.
- Boise State came out the way you thought they would against Wyoming. They made quick work of the Cowboys. The Broncos had a monstrous chip on their shoulder. They were mad. As I said last week, the only question to be answered was were they going to be 42-0 mad, or 72-0 mad? It was somewhere in the middle as Kellen Moore and company pasted the 'Boys 51-6.
- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: 9 carries – 151 yards – 2 touchdowns – 62-13 win over Duke
- Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: 23/32 – 409 yards – 6 touchdowns – 65-28 win over Tulsa
- Justin Blackman, WR, Oklahoma State: 6 receptions – 174 yards – 3 touchdowns – 65-28 win over Tulsa
- LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: 14 carries – 227 yards – 2 touchdowns – 69-0 win over Portland State
- Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: 10/14 – 241 yards – 2 touchdowns – 17 carries – 104 yards – 1 touchdown – 42-37 win over UMass.
- Russell Wilson, QB, NC State: 26/40 – 333 yards – 3 touchdowns – 30-19 win over Cincinnati
What We Learned…
1. Denard Robinson is the early season favorite to win the Heisman. Ryan Mallett and Terrelle Pryor are right behind him, but Robinson is on a different level. He continues to win games nearly single-handily. He's a terror on the ground and an even better passer than people give him credit for.
2. Small schools can score on the big boys. We saw it with Air Force staying neck and neck with Oklahoma in Norman. They had 458 yards of offense, 351 of them on the ground. The Sooners prevailed 27-24 but certainly got a scare. We saw similar results in Ann Arbor where UMass stayed with the Wolverines eye for eye before falling 42-37.
3. Oregon is for real. I thought the loss of Jeremiah Masoli would hurt their offense big time. But it hasn't one bit. The Ducks have outscored their opponents 189-13 through their first 3 games. Other than Tennessee, they haven't faced much competition but I don't care who you're playing, you're going open eyes when you put up numbers like that. Oregon's 69-0 win over Portland State was just another day at the office.
Check back tomorrow for my Tuesday Top 10.
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