NCAA FB

Week 4 wrap-up: Big East post play

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Lisa Horne

Lisa Horne is entering her fifth year as a correspondent for FOXSports.com. She is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and a frequent guest on sports radio shows. Follow her on Twitter.

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Sometimes, there are no words to explain what happens in college football, but we'll do our best here.

This week showed a mixture of sadness, hope and a lot of resignation. We are one-third through the season, and only one team — that's right, one — has emerged as a clear-cut BCS title contender. In the meantime, here's what happened — and didn't happen — this week.

We'll start this off with a bang — that embarrassing sound when your conference sits on its whoopee cushion after your officiating crew rules a point after touchdown good when clearly it is not. That sound when you have a chance to correct that mistake and your replay officials concur with that lousy call. Yes, Big East, we're looking at you.

Yardbarker
Officials on the field, multiple camera angles and plenty of slow motion. And Syracuse still got a win it shouldn't have. See the controversy.

Poor Toledo. In the fourth quarter, Syracuse scored a touchdown to put itself ahead of Toledo 29-27 and then kicked a PAT that was clearly wide left, but the Big East officiating crew called it good. Replay officials also called it good, and Toledo was now down 30-27. The Rockets came back when Ryan Casano hit a field goal to tie the game 30-30 as time expired except, wait, it should have been 30-29 with Casano making the game-winning field goal. Instead, Syracuse won 33-30 in overtime.

Normally, I don't really harp about officiating because it's all subjective and, you know, we all make mistakes. But when an official can't see a ball crossing in front of an upright to indicate a kick is missed, I feel a rant coming on — more so when a review official also can't correct the call. When the team that benefits from a call is the home team and its conference's officiating crew is the one that missed the right call not once, but twice, it stinks.

The Big East issued a statement after the game — and probably shrugged its shoulders and laughed while writing it — admitting its "oops." So no hard feelings, right, Toledo? That makes everything better, doesn't it?

• On to more Big East action. Notre Dame beat Pitt 15-12 in a real snoozer. Note: This is where I get to inject my "but if this were an SEC game, it would be called a great defensive battle" argument, but I won't go there, simply because it wasn't.

There were two improvements for the Irish — they had only two turnovers in the game, and coach Brian Kelly didn't burst into spontaneous combustion on the sideline. In fact, while sauntering — and, yes, he sauntered — to the locker room at halftime, Kelly had his hand casually in his pocket (while being interviewed by a sideline reporter) and acted as though he were just taking a stroll through a rose garden, ignoring all the thorns.

The Irish are now 2-2. Pitt is tied for the worst overall record among Big East teams and is on its way to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Of course.

• Hypothetical question: If you are holding a 21-3 lead with less than 30 seconds left in the first half, everything looks good, right? Maybe. If you are a Bruins fan.

UCLA left the somewhat barren confines of the Rose Bowl to travel to Corvallis, Ore., to try to win its first conference game. The Bruins managed to keep the Beavers fans out of the game for most of the first half.

But then Oregon State's Jordan Poyer returned a punt for 85 yards and, suddenly, the Beavers were down 21-10 at halftime. Then they gained a little but were still down 21-19 in the fourth quarter. The Bruins didn't lose their lead — although they get kudos for doing everything possible to try — and eventually won 27-19. This means right now, the Bruins are tied for first place in the Pac-12 South and Rick Neuheisel's job is temporarily safe. Bruins fans must be ecstatic.

• It took two quarters for Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict to get flagged for a 15-yard penalty, but USC safety T.J. McDonald already had him beat with two personal fouls of his own — he completed his hat trick in the fourth quarter. (Fun fact: In the second quarter at the 7:09 mark, Arizona State had more penalty yardage (212) than rushing yardage (208) for the season. We bring this up only because, well, that's just awesome.)

Speaking of Burfict, USC quarterback Matt Barkley called Burfict a "dirty player" earlier this week — that's probably not recommended for future games. In the second quarter, Barkley threw a perfect pass to Mr. Burfict for the perfect interception. Mr. Burfict then went over to Barkley and helped him up from the turf in a perfectly nice Etiquette 101 gesture. Why there wasn't a dry eye in the house is beyond me.

Arizona State made a great fourth-quarter stand (read: beat down) and won 43-22.

• Other Pac-12 highlights include Washington beating a previously undefeated Cal 31-23 — you probably didn't know Cal was undefeated, but seasoned media members know an eventual loss is always foreseeable when Cal is undefeated — and Oregon beating Arizona 56-31 as LaMichael James took off with 288 rushing yards.

Maryland is 1-2 in wins and losses, but it's 0-3 in the uniforms department. The Terps, in their weekly quest to assault the human eye, have once again given us the urge to revert back to black-and-white televisions. On a day when space junk was coming down from the earth's atmosphere, it was literally riskier to look at Maryland's uniforms than up to the sky. Maryland lost to Temple 38-7.

• Other ACC games of note: Boston College finally beat a team, albeit UMass. NC State lost to Cincinnati. North Carolina lost to Georgia Tech. And Virginia — wait for it — lost to Southern Miss 30-24. Miami lost to Kansas State 28-24. (That is not a typo.) And Virginia Tech beat Marshall 30-10.

NICE GEAR

New-style or old-style, uniforms and helmets were the talk of the town. Here are some of the most distinctive.

The Clemson Tigers, as it turns out, are not who we thought they (usually) are at this time of year. The Tigers beat a dinged-up Florida State 35-30 and are now 4-0 and in first place in the Atlantic Division. Sure, it's early in the season, but Clemson fans have to be pumped at winning a game — even their offensive coordinator Chad Morris said he was "super excited." Really? The last time I heard the phrase "super excited" was at a Wiggles concert, but I digress — you have to love the enthusiasm coming out of Clemson right now.

• The Southeastern Conference had some interesting conference games: Alabama beat Arkansas. Georgia beat Mississippi. South Carolina beat Vanderbilt. And Florida beat Kentucky. So, in other words, the haves beat the have-nots. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt has actually moved into second place in the "how is he still employed?" category, with only Memphis coach Larry Porter (2-14 overall record) — furiously fending off challengers left and right — ahead of him.

Memphis' homecoming game was witnessed by what appeared to be a few hundred people in attendance who were probably smart enough to lay the points and bet against Memphis in a 42-0 shellacking by SMU. Next week, the Tigers travel to Middle Tennessee State. No matter what the spread is, take the Blue Raiders. (Sadly, you're welcome for that free touting tip.)

• LSU sidled into Morgantown, W.Va., and left with some serious swag. The Tigers beat West Virginia 47-21 in a dominant fashion that catapulted them to the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press poll. Circle Nov. 5 on your calendars — Alabama vs. LSU. The winner goes to the BCS title game and the loser whines, er, lobbies for a BCS championship game berth, as well. It's in the cards.

• The Big 12 had a so-so day. The one team that said goodbye to the Big 12 (exit terms still up in the air) lost to Oklahoma State 30-29. Texas A&M, the SEC awaits. Kansas State won at Miami in a shocker, and Texas Tech squeaked by Nevada 35-34. Then-No. 1 Oklahoma beat Missouri 38-28, and quarterback Landry Jones' performance, 35 of 48 for 448 yards, should earn him more respect in the Heisman race.

• The Big Ten had a hell of a day, going 8-2. But before you fans start puffing up your chests, let's review the so-called devastation. The Big Ten beat three directional teams from Michigan (Western, Central, and Eastern), a Sun Belt team (Louisiana-Monroe), two Mountain West teams (San Diego State and Wyoming), a Football Championship Subdivision team (South Dakota) and a Pac-12 team (Colorado, whose players have yet to see a road win, except at a neutral venue). Now the bad news: Indiana lost at North Texas 24-21 — thankfully, basketball season is just around the corner — and Minnesota lost to North Dakota State 37-24.

In a nutshell: The Dakotas 1, The Big Ten 1.

• Play of the week goes to the Big East officiating crew overseeing the Syracuse-Toledo debacle. When you change the outcome because of the game officials' ineptitude, it's a no-brainer.

I'm out — like AT&T's wireless phone coverage Saturday.

Tagged: Clemson, Virginia, Maryland, Syracuse, Toledo, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Memphis, Matt Barkley, Vontaze Burfict

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