Week 5 wrap-up: Irish aren't all that
This was the week of the embattled. The week of wanna-be's. The week before the week that the BCS standings come out and make everyone cry, whine and prepare their defense of why they should be ranked higher than everyone else. It's gut-check time. It's check-out time. This week makes us think of that dog on the dog sled team behind the lead dog — the view is always the same, isn't it?
Oh . . . io. Yup, we knew it was coming. but somewhere Jim Tressel is getting a good chuckle while sipping a brandy in an argyle Snuggie. The Buckeyes dropped a game against Michigan State 10-7, but the score didn't really indicate the Spartans' domination. It wasn't a pretty win, but then again, when was the last time Ohio State had a pretty win? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
In a nutshell, here's what the Big Ten did: Wisconsin is for real and gave the Nebraska Cornhuskers a nice, giant 48-17 welcome to the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers were greeted by their black-out-garbed fans, but their attire was missing something — like a smattering of blue. Coach Bo Pelini apologized to Cornhusker Nation for his team's defense saying, "I apologize to the fans of Nebraska because that was a joke, plain and simple." A joke? Wait a minute, where have I heard this before?
Michigan throttled poor Minnesota 58-0. FYI — everybody else in the Big Ten who was supposed to win did. We believe in eliminating waste on this planet so why bore you with, well, the boring details.
• Arrogant sound bite of the week goes to . . . "This is their Super Bowl. This is the biggest game on their schedule by far," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said this week of Purdue. Really, coach? The Fighting Irish are more important to Purdue than Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa? More important than a football rivalry with Indiana University, a rivalry which awards one of the oldest trophies in college football — the Old Oaken Bucket? I'm pretty sure the Boilermakers would choose a win over the undefeated Badgers rather than a win over the at-the-time-.500-Irish. For what it's worth, the Irish pounded the Boilermakers 38-10, which means the Irish, at 3-2, are in the BCS bowl berth hunt. Don't fight this, people. You will not win over this curmudgeon.
• The battle in the Land of Enchantment between New Mexico and New Mexico State's football programs — aka the Disenchantment Bowl — has been and will continue to be painful to watch. Before last year's contest, fliers were posted on the New Mexico State campus asking women to refrain from having sex with Aggies football players until they won a game. The Aggies won, of course.
Aggies coach DeWayne Walker was 1-3 this year after a stunning win — OK, not really stunning — over Minnesota and an equally stunning payout of $800,000, courtesy of the Golden Gophers. In November, the Aggies travel to Georgia ($925,000 payout) and we can only assume that because of these two huge windfalls, the football staff will not have to ask fans (via mass email) to donate snacks to help keep the players fed. Once is enough, don't you think?
New Mexico State was favored by 2-1/2 points early this week, but after Lobos coach Mike Locksley was fired Sunday, Vegas adjusted the line down to one point on game day. Since when does a team lose its coach and go from a 2.5-point underdog to only a one-point underdog? This is New Mexico football. New Mexico State pounded New Mexico 42-28 and they get massive props for covering that daunting one-point spread.
• In what seems like a Thursday night tradition — scratch that, it is a Thursday night tradition — the South Florida Bulls lost their seventh straight Thursday night game since they joined the Big East in 2005. Pitt ran through a Bulls defense that more closely resembled a matador than a bull. Running back Todd Graham rushed for 226 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers' 44-17 rout of the Bulls. Ole!
Other Big East action: More teams are moving to the ACC, which means more Big East teams will underachieve. This week's winningest losers are UConn (losing 38-31 to a directional Michigan team) and Louisville, which was held scoreless for three quarters and finally lost to Marshall 17-13.
• Houston is 5-0 after beating UTEP 49-42, but the Cougs' defense . . . if only Julie Andrews had that much room to prance around the Alps in The Sound of Music. Case Keenum had an incredible day — he threw for 471 yards and two touchdowns.
• The Florida Gators were an underdog at the Swamp for the first time since 1990 — that's more than 20 years of being the favored team at home. The Gators struck first on a Brantley-to-Debose bomb, but the Crimson Tide kept up with the Gators — as expected — and eventually denied the Gators from sniffing the end zone for three quarters. The officiating was suspect — Alabama should have had one more touchdown to its credit after a Brantley fumble caused massive confusion. Raise your hand if you predicted the SEC officials would get their five minutes of fame in an important game.
• Texas A&M was up 35-17 over Arkansas at halftime. The Aggies were sowing their future SEC oats until, of course, they let the Hogs make hay of their defense. Is there something in all Aggies water that makes them forget they have to play in a fourth quarter? First, the Utah State Aggies lose three heartbreakers (Auburn, Colorado State, BYU) and now Texas A&M follows suit by refusing to show any semblance of a defense in the second half. Good luck in the SEC, Aggies.
• South Carolina lost to Auburn 16-13 (and the refs who decided their Wounded Warriors uniforms were too camouflaged to read the jersey numbers), and whether you like it or not, the defending BCS champions are defying all odds. They've been criticized for their toothless defense, but they held Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore to 36 yards in the first half. Yes, despite how Garcia-ish Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia was, the Tigers' defense performed magnificently and Auburn is now tied with Alabama for second place in the SEC West. The West — where real men live . . . to talk smack on the Paul Finebaum Show. He awaits your calls.
• On to ACC action. The one game veryone had circled was Clemson vs. Virginia Tech. Unfortunately for the Hokies, the "live by the cupcake, die by the cupcake" mantra came true in a 23-3 loss. The Hokies died a slow death against a Clemson team that was more battle-tested than the 4-0 Hokies, who feasted on Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall. Thankfully, football purists are finally getting their validation regarding teams that go 4-0 and get ranked in the Top 15.
• The Pac-12 actually had a no-surprises week. Southern California beat a team (Arizona) that had 36 first downs. I'm not sure where to go with this, but Texas A&M might want to reconsider its move to the SEC and move west instead. Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley completed 32 of 39 passes for 468 yards, a USC single-game yardage record, while Arizona quarterback Nick Foles passed for 425 yards and four touchdowns. The teams' defenses were not available for comment after the 48-41 final since they never showed up for the game.
UCLA looked in the first half like it might be in the game against Stanford, but honestly, who are we kidding here? Just get this season over with — as usual — and go ahead and offer another head-coaching job to someone who's looking for a four-year pit stop. Stanford 45, UCLA 19.
• Finally, the Big 12 games — get used to being an afterthought, guys. With all the distractions surrounding this conference, there were some pretty amazing games, and with the exception of two teams, not a shred of defense was to be found. Kansas State beat Baylor despite an unbelievable performance by Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III — 334 yards and five touchdowns.
Oklahoma toyed with Ball State and won 62-6. Yawn. Texas Tech beat Kansas, and Texas beat Iowa State. In other words, Oklahoma looks good to go and another BCS championship game is in the Sooners' future. The SEC can't wait.