Snap Judgments (cont.)
While the SEC's golden goose, Alabama, went down, one of its other highly ranked teams, No. 11 Arkansas, notched a nice nonconference victory, 24-17 over Texas A&M (RECAP | BOX). The Hogs -- who suffered a heartbreaking home loss to 'Bama two weeks ago -- again showed that their defense is legit, holding A&M 22.5 points below its season average.
The Razorbacks held Aggies quarterback Jerrod Johnson -- he of the 40-of-62, 409-yard, five-turnover game against Oklahoma State last week -- to just 15-of-40 completions for 212 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Ryan Mallett, on the other hand, had a more typical 27-of-38, 310-yard, three-touchdown performance.
And yet, Arkansas struggled to put A&M away, with Johnson heaving a potential game-tying Hail Mary at the final gun. Penalties -- 13 of them -- killed several drives. Arkansas will need to be more disciplined if it hopes to turn a corner and beat SEC West foes Auburn and LSU.
To all those who freaked out over No. 2 Ohio State's ugly win at Illinois last week -- relax. We have clarity.
First of all, the Buckeyes throttled Indiana, 38-10, on Saturday, with Terrelle Pryror throwing for 334 yards and three touchdowns and OSU's defense holding Indiana's Ben Chappell -- fresh off a 480-yard day against Michigan -- to 108 yards, no touchdowns and two picks (RECAP |BOX). But more notably, Ron Zook's Illini (3-2) went to Happy Valley and spoiled Penn State's Homecoming with an eye-opening 33-13 rout (RECAP | BOX).
Joe Paterno's offense has been abysmal all season, but a rash of injuries have ravaged the Nittany Lions' defense, and Illinois took advantage. With redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhasse (15-of-19, 151 yards) looking far more confident than he did early in the season and tailback Mikel Leshoure (27 carries, 119 yards) posting his fourth 100-yard game of the season, the Illini controlled the game throughout. Their defense held Penn State to 234 total yards.
With a very favorable Big Ten schedule (no Iowa or Wisconsin), Zook's team could very well be bowl-bound, which would save the chronically embattled coach's job for yet another year. As for JoePa's 3-3 team? It's going to be a struggle.
There's a reason Vegas installed 1-4 Georgia as a 12-point favorite (to the surprise of some) over 2-3 Tennessee on Saturday: The Bulldogs, while reeling, had been competitive, and a bit unlucky, in all of their games. The Vols are just plain bad, and in this case a sitting duck on which Mark Richt's team took out a month of frustration.
Behind a solid performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray (17-of-25, 266 yards, two TDs, no INTs), a typically big game from receiver A.J. Green (six catches, 96 yards, one TD) and a defense that notched three turnovers, Georgia rolled, 41-14 (RECAP | BOX). This could prove a turning point for the embattled Richt, whose team has a chance to build some momentum if it handles its next two against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Nice win for second-year Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, whose rebuilding program notched a small milestone Saturday when it went to Tampa and knocked off USF, 13-9, for the Orange's first victory over the Bulls since that program joined the Big East in 2005 (RECAP | BOX).
In an indisputably ugly contest, Syracuse's defense stifled USF quarterback B.J. Daniels, notching four sacks and two interceptions. The Orange offense was equally quiet most of the game before putting together a 14-play, 98-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter.
The Orange (4-1) still have to work on some things, though. On second down with about a minute left, they got called for a false start penalty while trying to take a knee.
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