College Football Overtime (cont.)
Washington: The Morning After
In a sport full of coaches perennially looking ahead to the next game, it was refreshing to call Washington coach Steve Sarkisian on Sunday morning and hear a man still deservedly soaking in his team's watershed upset of USC.
"When good things like this happen, you have to sit back and enjoy it," said the first-year Huskies coach, who celebrated Saturday night with a gathering at his house for staff and their families. "It would be wrong to look too far ahead or nitpick too many things."
Despite his and defensive coordinator Nick Holt's past experience on Carroll's staff, Sarkisian said the coaches did not prepare differently for the Trojans than a typical opponent, with one small exception: At Friday's final practice, Sarkisian played the part of USC's quarterback against Washington's defense to simulate the tempo they'd be facing.
Once the game started, USC jumped to a 10-0 lead largely by gashing the Huskies' defense on the ground. Washington adjusted by subbing in true freshman defensive end Talia Crichton and moving sophomore end Everette Thompson to tackle to produce more speed up front. Senior linebacker Donald Butler carried the day, notching 12 tackles and ending two deep USC drives with a forced fumble and interception.
"We have excellent, excellent leaders on defense, players that are little better than people might think," Sarkisian said.
"A lot of those wins at 'SC, the pundits all said you're supposed to win," Sarkisian said. "In this game, you're a huge underdog. It's a different feeling, but one with a lot of joy."
Overrated: No. 4 Ole Miss and No. 5 Penn State
It's not impossible the Rebels and/or Nittany Lions boast top five teams; I just don't know how one could tell. Ole Miss to date boasts blowouts of Memphis and Southeast Louisiana, while Penn State has beaten up on Akron, Syracuse and Temple. The only reason these teams remain ranked ahead of more accomplished teams like Cal and Miami is because they started that way.
Underrated: Florida State (AP: No. 18; coaches: No. 25)
The Seminoles came within a last-second end zone drop of beating Miami in Week 1. It was pretty clear that night they were two evenly matched teams, yet they remain nine spots apart in the AP poll and 12 in the coaches. At least AP voters had the sense to rank FSU ahead of BYU. The coaches still have the 'Noles five spots behind a team they just drubbed 54-28 on the Cougars' home field.
Current BCS forecast
Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games.
Title game: Florida vs. Texas
Lots of changes this week. Miami takes over the ACC's spot in the Orange Bowl, Cal takes over the Pac-10's spot in the Rose Bowl and Boise State reclaims favored status among potential BCS-busters following BYU's loss (though neither the Cougars, TCU or Houston are out of it). The Orange Bowl at-large spot was the toughest to fill. Flying in a 10-2 USC team with presumably disinterested fans would not be all that desirable for the Orange Bowl committee, but it'd still probably be preferable to taking Boise or Cincinnati.
Spreading the field
It was a weekend of devastating injuries to key players. South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe, who just last week became the Big East's career total offense leader, is out for the season with a torn ACL. A school spokesman said a medical redshirt is unlikely for the fifth-year senior. His injury comes a week before USF's first-ever game against Florida State and likely cripples the Bulls' Big East title hopes.
Elsewhere, Notre Dame lost star wide receiver Michael Floyd for the rest of the regular season with a broken collarbone. He already had 13 catches for 358 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen still racked up 300 yards in a 33-30 win over Michigan State despite Floyd's exit in the second quarter, but the sophomore was unquestionably the Irish's most dangerous threat.
It looked like West Virginia might have suffered its own injury blow when senior quarterback Jarrett Brown left late in the game against Auburn, but Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart said the senior's injury to his non-throwing shoulder is not serious. More painful for West Virginia: blowing a 21-10 lead and wasting 509 yards of offense in an eventual 41-30 Tigers victory.
Yet again, Bob Stoops and Kevin Wilson have worked their magic with a green quarterback at Oklahoma. Redshirt freshman Landry Jones, who seemed so in over his head when thrown in to replace Sam Bradford against BYU, went 25-of-37 for 336 yards and a school-record six TDs in Oklahoma's 45-0 rout of Tulsa. Meanwhile, his porn-star mustache has inspired its own T-shirt and cheering section.
From the depths of its Boise State debacle, Oregon has improved to 2-1 after knocking off No. 18 Utah, but it's still hard to put faith in the Ducks. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was a ghastly 4-of-16 with an interception and two lost fumbles (one returned for a TD) against the Utes, but redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James (27 carries, 152 yards) and a stingy defense (297 yards allowed) bailed him out.
Where have you gone, Matt Ryan? Boston College figured to struggle offensively this season with two freshman quarterbacks, but the extent of its misery Saturday against Clemson was mind-blowing. In a game delayed two hours by weather, BC went nearly three quarters without a first down and netted just 54 yards of offense in a 25-7 defeat. Somewhere, Steve Logan is smirking.
It's not every day you see a team forced to punt on fourth-and-goal, but that's exactly what happened to Nebraska late in the third quarter against Virginia Tech. Starting with a first-and-goal at the Hokies' six, the Huskers first had a touchdown pass nullified by holding, then committed three more false start or holding penalties that drove them back to the 37 and out of field-goal range.
The early scouting report on Arkansas: quarterback Ryan Mallett is as good as advertised (he threw for 408 yards and five touchdowns against Georgia to remain the nation's pass-efficiency leader), but Bobby Petrino's defense is horr-i-ble. With his various ailments behind him, Dawgs quarterback Joe Cox spent the bulk of the night lofting passes down field to wide-open receivers (resulting in five TDs) in a 52-41 win.
Texas A&M has quietly undergone a massive offensive overhaul after Mike Sherman installed a no-huddle attack. Quarterback Jerod Johnson and the Aggies rank No. 1 nationally at 589.5 yards per game following wins over New Mexico and Utah State. However, A&M also gave up 521 yards to Utah State and ranks 86th in total defense. In two weeks, they face ... Arkansas. Hello, shootout.
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