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Week 2 wrap-up: Devils win fashion show
It was a memorable weekend.
Auburn is 2-0 and Notre Dame is 0-2. The Southeastern Conference and Big Ten had their moments of weakness, and a Pac-12 school with the worst record in league play for the past two years has us turning our heads.
Michigan beat Notre Dame at the Big House in a wacky game that featured three touchdowns in the last 72 seconds of play. Michigan ended up winning 35-31, and Notre Dame is now 0-2 for only the eighth time in school history. Lou Holtz, an ESPN analyst and diehard Irish fan, said that Notre Dame "could go 10-2, end up in a BCS bowl. . . . this is very realistic." News flash, Mr. Holtz: 10 turnovers in two weeks isn't looking very BCS bowl-ish.
The other game that lit a fire under every football fan's couch — or the East Coast's bed — was Arizona State vs. No. 21 Missouri. The Sun Devils came out in all-black uniforms that out-did Oregon's uniforms against Louisiana State last week. The fans were feeling it, the heat was soaring and, in the end, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel did the unthinkable: He iced his own kicker. Of course, the field-goal attempt wasn't good.
Pinkel got Finkled, and Arizona State won 37-30 in overtime. Dennis Erickson lived to see another day. Quarterback Brock Osweiler (353 yards, three touchdowns) should be a Heisman Trophy candidate, but because he plays in the desert he remains an outsider looking in.
Iowa State beat Iowa 44-41 in overtime, but what makes this such an epic win is that these two teams were actually fighting for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. To review, the Iowa Corn Growers Association came up with such an awful trophy for this rivalry that it was banished after fans expressed their "feelings" over the monstrosity. An interim trophy was created, and Iowa State, for its effort, received this glorious hunk to persuade future recruits into signing letters of intent.
The Big Ten didn't have a good week. Alabama beat Penn State 27-11. Rice beat Purdue 24-22. New Mexico State beat Minnesota 28-21. (Why, yes, New Mexico State's offense is more potent than USC's was a week ago.). Virginia beat Indiana 34-31. And neither Nebraska nor Ohio State had its game in hand until the fourth quarter.
Props go to Wisconsin for beating the toothless Beavers of Oregon State, who last week lost to Sacramento State. (Note: Sacramento State got beat by Southern Utah this week.) Ohio State beat Toledo, the city that both Ohio and Michigan fought over in the "Toledo War" (of 1835), but the Buckeyes did not overwhelm any of their fans in the Shoe. Somewhere, Jim Tressel is laughing while he serves out his suspension in the NFL.
Not to be outdone, the Pac-12 fought to defend the Big Ten's honor and reputation by almost equaling its performances. Cal struggled to beat Colorado 36-33 in overtime. (Yes, that was a nonconference game even though they now share a conference). Washington struggled to put away Hawaii 40-32.
UCLA squeaked by San Jose State 27-17, and USC edged conference newcomer Utah 17-14. . . . No wait, it got updated to 23-14 after everyone left the game. Confused? So are we.
USC tackle Matt Kalil blocked a Utah field-goal attempt in the waning seconds that would have tied the game had it been good, but the football bounced into the hands of Torin Harris, who ran it back for a touchdown with no time left on the clock.
During Harris' runback, players on the Trojans' sideline ran onto the field and an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty was called on USC. Game over, no points added. The crowd left the stadium thinking the game was won by USC 17-14, but the score was "updated" by the Pac-12 to 23-14 after the conference overruled the officials.
According to FOX Sports officiating analyst Mike Pereira, this was a miscommunication that led to an incorrect score reported by the media.
"The correct final score was 23-14, but many of the media thought that the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that was called on the USC bench for substitutes entering the field to celebrate before the Trojans’ Torin Harris scored a touchdown, nullified the touchdown," Pereira explained.
"It did not. The new NCAA unsportsmanlike conduct rule that would nullify a touchdown applies only to the players who are participating in the play. Substitutes are not covered under this rule. The referee correctly stated that the penalty was declined by rule. That was correct because the penalty would be enforced on the PAT try or on the kickoff, but the game was over. The penalty can’t be enforced."
Pereira also continued, saying "At no time did the referee state that the touchdown was negated. He stated that the penalty was declined by rule and the game was over."
The implication of this late change to the score was not lost on gamblers. The spread was 8-1/2 points and USC covered. According to sports analyst Todd Fuhrman at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, house rules paid on the final 17-14 score, not 23-14. (Other properties have
So, yes, Vegas paid on an incorrect score reported by the media. You're welcome.
But amidst this quagmire of mind-numbing football emerged a Pac-12 surprise, a team from Pullman, Wash., that everyone had pegged for another bad season.
Football fans, we give you the Washington State Cougars, who beat UNLV 59-7 without starting quarterback Jeff Tuel, who was injured in last week's 64-21 rout against Idaho State. Cougars reserve quarterback Marshall Lobbestael went 24 of 32 for 361 yards and five touchdowns.
This deserves a closer look, doesn't it? Washington State beat the very same team that Wisconsin beat 51-17, but the Cougs' offense scored more points and held the Rebels to fewer points than the ranked Badgers did. The Cougars did it with a second-string quarterback and a head coach who had a school career record of 6-32. Paul Wulff, this is your moment. We salute you, sir.
We'd go over the SEC scores, but, honestly, what's the point? If an SEC team wins, it's expected. If it loses, it's a mediocre team. In other words, 0-2 Georgia stinks unless the Bulldogs beat Florida; if that happens, then this just proves how tough the SEC is. So far, Kentucky, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Mississippi are mediocre, and Auburn and Florida are rebuilding. Losses are completely expected, but if they do well they are championship-worthy.
Some more nuggets to chew on
Boise State held Georgia to 21 points last week in Atlanta. South Carolina, known for its "tough SEC defense," held Georgia to 42 points. Any pollsters out there want to show some onions and make their rankings reflect that little tidbit?
Speaking of "tough SEC defense," can we get a shout out to the Utah State Aggies for holding defending champion Auburn to 264 total yards, including 78 yards rushing last week? This week, the No. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs allowed Auburn to rack up 248 yards, including 190 in rushing. We don't believe in transitive theories, but Auburn scored a lot more points against a "tough SEC defense" than it did against the WAC's Utah State Aggies, now didn’t they?
Alabama beat Penn State 27-11. It's always a concern when your head coach isn't on the field, but it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference if Joe Paterno were coaching on the sidelines. One thing we do know is Alabama looks beatable, but we won't bet against them. Unless it's against The Hat.
Lastly, Tennessee is back, and for the first time in months, Lane Kiffin's name was not linked to any negativity in Knoxville. The fans have apparently moved on, unless quarterback Tyler Bray — a Kiffin recruit — does poorly. Then, of course, all bets are off.
The Big East, well, is the Big East. Cincinnati laid down against Tennessee 45-23, Louisville lost to Florida International 24-17, Rutgers lost to North Carolina 24-22, Pitt beat Maine 35-29 (not a typo), Syracuse beat Rhode Island 21-14 in a game that was tied midway through the fourth quarter and UConn lost to Vanderbilt 24-21. We'd give you the Big East wins, but, frankly, we're looking ahead to its basketball season.
The Big 12 is still trying to find itself. Literally. Kansas is still recovering from the loss of head coach Mark Mangino but managed to beat Northern Illinois 45-42. Texas skated by Brigham Young 17-16. (Longhorns quarterback Case McCoy passed for 57 yards.) And Oklahoma State beat Arizona 37-14. Honestly, half the conference took the week, off but some Texas A&M fans didn't.
The Pac-12 is leading the race in uniform awesomeness after the Arizona State Sun Devils came out wearing all-black uniforms and Sparky-less logo'd matte black helmets. The Oregon Ducks also came to play for a second straight week of fashion forwardness by donning a light gray and chartreuse combination against the Nevada Wolf Pack. It took awhile for eyes to adjust, but overall they were special. Pac-12 gets three points for three winning combos.
Notre Dame and Michigan wore throwback uniforms, and once again the green wasn't so lucky for the Irish. I'm not a huge fan of throwbacks — the giant M on Michigan's jersey front belongs more on a Mickey Mouse varsity jacket, and the Irish looked like the Lucky Charms leprechaun. If I had to pick between the two, I'd lean toward Michigan's being the better simply because the striped shoulders did look great with the winged-helmet. Well that, and they won in them.
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