Big Ten logjam continues, SEC D's raise eyebrows; more Snaps
Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State all alive, but Badgers are in driver's seat
LSU shouldn't be ranked ahead of more dominant one-loss teams like Stanford
Mikel Leshoure added to the history at Wrigley Field with a record rushing day
Terrelle Pryor has had his ups and downs during his three years as Ohio State's quarterback. He had his share of downs during Saturday's game at Iowa, throwing two interceptions. But when the game was on the line, Pryor delivered the most memorable drive of his career.
With his team's BCS and Big Ten title hopes on the line, Pryor took over with 6:05 left, down four, and led the Buckeyes (10-1) on a 12-play, 76-yard drive to go ahead by what wound up being the final margin, 20-17 (RECAP | BOX). Overcoming a seemingly disastrous moment when receiver DeVier Posey dropped what would have been a wide-open 50-yard touchdown on third-and-10, Ohio State went for it on fourth down, converting on a 14-yard Pryor scramble. Pryor then completed a 24-yard pass to Dane Sanzebacher to set up Dan Herron's go-ahead score with 1:47 left. The Buckeyes then stuffed Ricky Stanzi and the Hawkeyes.
It's unlikely Ohio State will play in Pasadena this year (Wisconsin is officially in the driver's seat), but a win next week over Michigan will ensure the Buckeyes a share of their sixth straight Big Ten title. Ohio State is already the first team in conference history to post six straight 10-win seasons. And the Buckeyes are almost definitely headed to their eighth BCS bowl in nine years under Jim Tressel, a remarkable feat.
Meanwhile, Iowa falls to 7-4, an unquestionably disappointing season for a team that returned the nucleus of last year's 11-2 squad. The thing is, last year's Hawkeyes admittedly overachieved, pulling out several close games along the way. This year, all four of Iowa's losses came down to the final minutes. The breaks went the other way.
Let's face it, this has not been a glorious year for the oft-hyped defenses of the SEC, and Saturday's Ole Miss-LSU game may have been the most telling exhibit yet. The 4-7 Rebels -- a week removed from losing 52-14 at Tennessee -- gave the nation's purported fifth-best team everything it could handle before the Tigers ultimately prevailed, 43-36 (RECAP | BOX).
The Rebels, mind you, came in averaging 22.5 points in conference play, the Tigers 24.3, but apparently they just needed to play each other to get things rolling. The teams combined for five fourth-quarter touchdowns in another epic Les Miles-Houston Nutt duel, reminiscent of Arkansas' 50-48, triple-overtime upset of eventual national champ LSU in 2007 when Nutt was coaching the Hogs.
LSU has been the most baffling one-loss team in the country this season, winning at Florida and Alabama but barely surviving sub-.500 Tennessee and Ole Miss at home. The Tigers deserve ample credit for surviving an inarguably tough schedule, but one thing's for certain: They have no business sitting ahead of more dominant one-loss teams like Stanford and Wisconsin in the polls. It's time for voters to take off their SEC blinders and reevaluate their ballots.
Texas A&M installed extra seats to create the biggest student section ever recorded (29,520) and biggest crowd in Kyle Field history (more than 90,000) for Saturday night's showdown with No. 9 Nebraska. The Aggies fans were richly rewarded -- even if it took a long, laborious 60 minutes to get there.
In a completely unexpected defensive struggle, No. 18 Texas A&M (8-3) notched its fifth straight victory, 9-6, with Randy Bullock kicking the go-ahead field goal with 3:02 left (RECAP | BOX). Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, who hurt his ankle in the first half, gallantly tried to lead the Huskers back at the end, but it was clear he couldn't get full lift off his foot.
But that's not what coach Bo Pelini and Huskers fans everywhere were lamenting Saturday. Pelini spent nearly the entire night haranguing the officials, who flagged Nebraska (9-2) for a school-record 16 penalties to just two for the Aggies. In particular, a questionable roughing-the-passer call helped set up A&M's go-ahead field goal. Pelini looked like he wanted someone's blood as he walked off the field afterward, while Huskers fans took to Twitter to claim that Big 12 representative, bitter over Nebraska's impending departure, called in the fix.
Conspiracy theories aside, the result really didn't change much in the big picture. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's victories Saturday assured the winner of next week's Bedlam game will win the Big 12 South, while Nebraska will still take the North if it beats Colorado. But try telling the A&M fans that stormed the field afterward their win was "meaningless." Aggies fans haven't had this much cause for excitement about their program in many years.
The Pac-10's expansion and split into North and South divisions can't come soon enough for USC, which will surely welcome fewer trips to Corvallis, Ore.
A week removed from becoming the first Pac-10 team in two years to lose to Washington State, Oregon State (5-5) throttled No. 20 USC, 36-7 (RECAP | BOX). The Beavers defense has struggled all season, but it absolutely stifled the Trojans (7-4), holding them to 255 total yards and their fewest points since 2001. Adding injury to insult, Matt Barkley went out with a sprained ankle just before halftime and didn't return; but by then the Beavers were already up 20-0.
Mike Riley's team desperately needed this win. It's unlikely to win at 10-1 Stanford next week, but it will at least remain in bowl contention when it enters the Dec. 4 Civil War against No. 1 Oregon in what could be the biggest game ever played at Reser Stadium. Barkley's status will be closely watched this week heading into USC's annual rivalry game with Notre Dame.
It was clunky, it was unconventional, but at the end of the day, Saturday's Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field was unquestionably cool. The standing-room only crowd and the fans watching from the rooftops on Sheffield Ave. got to see two pieces of history: the first college football game at Wrigley since 1938 and a record-setting performance from Illini running back Mikel Leshoure.
The junior carried 33 times for a school-record 330 yards -- the most by an FBS player this season -- in the Illini's 48-27 rout of the Wildcats (RECAP | BOX). And of course, he gained every one of those yards heading west after officials deemed it unsafe Friday to use the venue's cramped east end zone.
The oddity of the set-up was noticeable early on, especially when Illinois recovered a fumble deep in Northwestern territory and everyone picked up and headed to the other side of the field. Ultimately, the ground rules had far less of an impact on the outcome than Illinois' (6-5) utter rushing dominance (519 of its 559 yards came on the ground) and the absence of injured Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa. In Persa's place, freshman Evan Watkins managed just 135 passing yards, and the Wildcats (7-4) converted just two third downs.