Badgers still battling, Texas takes a tumble; more Snap Judgments
Cam Newton is doing what Tim Tebow did in 2007, but for a BCS contender
Two unlikely heroes emerged to lead Wisconsin to a one-point win over Iowa
Texas should have blown Iowa State off the field, but yet again could not score
The best part about this time of the season? The unlikely heroes always emerge.
Before Saturday, if you had asked anyone in Big Ten country who would make the most important runs in the Wisconsin-Iowa game, they would have offered a list of John Clay, Adam Robinson and James White.
They would have been wrong.
The most important runs in Wisconsin's 31-30 win came from Brad Nortman (Wisconsin's punter) and Montee Ball (Wisconsin's third-string tailback). Facing fourth-and-four and a loss if he failed, Nortman -- once an all-county linebacker at Central High in Brookfield, Wis. -- caught the Hawkeyes flat-footed and raced up the middle for 17 yards to keep the game-winning drive alive. Later, Ball -- who had just caught a seven-yard Scott Tolzien pass to convert on fourth down -- muscled into the end zone from eight yards out for the winning touchdown (RECAP | BOX).
Now, the Badgers must keep winning and watch the scoreboard. They need some help to win the Big Ten. The easiest way is if Michigan State loses twice. Failing that, the Badgers need to hope for a three-way tie of some sort (either Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin or Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin). That might leave the Badgers at the mercy of the BCS standings, but at least they suffered the first loss and started back up the polls earlier.
Also, I realize Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is being accused of turning into a less-lucky Les Miles on the Hawkeyes' final possession, but there wasn't much he could do after J.J. Watt sacked Ricky Stanzi to force a second-and-21 from the Iowa 38-yard line. Maybe Iowa lines up quickly and spikes the ball after Stanzi converted on fourth-and-one from the Wisconsin 42 -- thus saving Iowa a timeout. Other than that, Ferentz didn't have a lot of appealing choices.
The Heisman Trophy is Cam Newton's to lose.
Newton is compiling touchdown production stats similar to those Tim Tebow put up when he won the Heisman in 2007, but Newton is doing it on a team in the thick of the national title hunt. After eight games in 2007, Tebow had accounted for 27 touchdowns (10 rushing, 17 passing). After eight games in 2010, Newton has accounted for 27 touchdowns (14 rushing, 13 passing). He also leads the SEC in rushing.
Saturday, Newton couldn't do much through the air (86 passing yards), but he did plenty on the ground, rushing 28 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns (RECAP | BOX). And should he claim the Heisman in New York in December, the play that will run on a loop will be Newton's 49-yard touchdown run during Saturday's fourth quarter. Newton wound his way through LSU's defense, then powered his way toward the goal line. It took a booth review to give him the touchdown, but ESPN will leave out that part when it runs the highlight over and over and over and over in December.
Congratulations, Virginia Tech, you're now eligible to return to the SI.com Power Rankings. Because I have a twisted moral code that rewards teams that win head-to-head matchups, I couldn't in good conscience rank the Hokies while they had the same record as James Madison, which beat Virginia Tech on Sept. 11.
Well, I could have, but then I would have had to rank James Madison one spot higher. I wasn't going to do that. But thanks to Villanova's 14-7 win against the Dukes on Saturday, James Madison is now 4-3. With the résumés no longer equal, Virginia Tech -- which has played well since the loss -- can re-enter the poll.
A lot of Virginia Tech fans e-mailed me during the week complaining that the Hokies weren't ranked. I explained to those people that I'd rather be an idiot in their eyes than a hypocrite in everyone else's. If the Hokies wanted to be ranked higher, they shouldn't have lost to an FCS team in the first place.
In this week's Power Rankings, I wrote that we would find out whether I had Oklahoma State underrated or accurately rated at No. 20.
For once, I got one correct.
National title contenders don't give up half a hundred at home. They just don't.
Oklahoma State is good -- on offense. Kendall Hunter proved again that he is one of the nation's best backs with a 201-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance. Justin Blackmon proved once again that he is one of the nation's best receivers by catching five passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns (RECAP | BOX).
But the defense got gashed through the air and on the ground by a quarterback who got yanked for poor play last week. Championship teams don't let that happen.
Cal is the nation's most schizophrenic team.
The Bears crush Colorado, then get creamed by Nevada. They respond by playing Arizona tough and creaming UCLA. Then they fall behind 42-0 at the half to USC.
That has to make Oregon State's Mike Riley the happiest coach in America. The Blowout Bears played this weekend, meaning the Blown-out Bears are coming to Corvallis next week.
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