Action Jackson Recap (College Football, Week 6)

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007


So much to talk about and so much time. I know this is about 48 hours late, but I decided to get violently ill yesterday and did not regain consciousness until the wee hours of Monday morning (oh thank you, West Coast Pizza, I keep on forgetting why I quit you in the first place). Nevertheless, after ingesting an unhealthy stream of ten college football games in twelve hours, I think it’d be best to relay my incoherent ramblings from Saturday (morning, afternoon and night) into digestible sentences.

First off we must go straight to the story of the weekend:

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The LSU reaction of the Stanford score was also golden. If anyone was still doubting the power of SEC crowds, just watch this (and keep in mind the Tigers were still LOSING–they remember what ‘SC did to them four years ago):

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Onto the biggest storylines.

The fall of Troy: If it took a majestic wooden horse to bring down the mightiest fortress, then Jim Harbaugh might very well be Odysseus (although I don’t think Odysseus ever asked his warriors to wash their hands). The Trojans had been riding and touting their stockpiles of talent, platoons of running backs, their supposedly impregnable defense. All were exposed during that fateful 4th quarter, when both ran into a feisty and determined Stanford squad that refused to go down.

Admittedly USC was banged up, and Booty was throwing with four fingers. But it’s clear that this is a different team than the ones that cruised to five straight Pac-10 crowns. The game-calling has been predictable and lazy for at least the last two years, which makes you wonder how much of a difference Norm Chow’s departure has made. Pete Carroll reminds me far more of the guy who bumbled his way out of the NFL than any offensive sage that I remember.

Also, the players from the 2002-04 seasons are almost all gone. That team learned to win, grew and excelled at it–the current incarnation of the Trojans seems far more entitled (Booty and his teammates’ form of postgame coping is telling) and believes that their mere presence at games will get them the W. The warning signs were there with OSU and UCLA last year–the Stanford game blew it wide open. The attitude will have to change. And fast. Or Troy will be burning by the last days of autumn.

Les Miles’s testicular fortitude: The Pac-10 has ragged on Les Miles all year, but he was the man on Saturday night. Five-for-five on fourth down conversions, LSU managed to barely hold onto #1 (and received a few gifts with those Florida turnovers). The very young Gators, who managed a gutsy performance in Death Valley before finally succumbing, just could not overcome their inexperience.

As ballsy as Miles’s moves were on Staurday, it’s hard to see LSU requiring gambles to go undefeated, especially in the SEC. There were chinks that were exposed, especially against the secondary and deep ball. Florida proved this with a dominating first half. The letdown game is at Kentucky next week, and Kentucky is pretty much an upgraded version of Florida on offense (a real passing QB in Woodson, unlike Timmy Te-boy and his airmails off his receiver’s helmets). That’s followed by a home date with the Earthquakers from Auburn and the Nick Saban game at Alabama. If they go unscathed through that, they should be in a BCS game. The SEC Championship would determine their place.

Keep in mind though, this is not the 2003 Tigers. And even they lost a game on their way to a BCS crown. The power of Les Miles can giveth like it did yesterday, but can also taketh away.

The power of Ron Zook: Illinois, Illinois…Big Ten champions? Is that really a possibility? They looked mighty convincing in their win over Wisconsin (although the Badgers just might suck, it doesn’t discredit their victory). They can chalk up their win to their monstrous run game, which is 5th in the nation and just ground the Wisconsin defense into a pulp. You can thank the effective option package of the tailback Mendenhall and the QB Williams. And you can’t really go wrong with a QB named Juice, can you?

Remember Illinois’s only loss came to Missouri, which seems pretty bad until you realize Missouri is ranked #11. Yes, Missouri. Top that with their victory over Penn State and the Illini’s date with Ohio State might be our Big 10 title date. Being that some Ohio State fans seem to enjoy their trips to the public library (NSFW), I’m rooting for Illinois. It’s the year of the perennial underdog my friends.

Conference recaps after the jump, starting with the wacky Pac.

Pac-10 was due for a let-down: UCLA…I mean, it’s not really fair to judge how the Bruins did, considering the senior law partner/third-stringer Bethel-Thompson was throwing for the majority of the game. But their loss to Notre Dame was still a portrait in hideousness. UCLA outgained the University of Football (gag) over 2:1, allowed 12 first downs…but still lost because they turned the ball over seven times (plus two more fumbles Notre Dame couldn’t collect). I believe only one image can explain this complete meltdown (courtesy of Bruins Nation). Actually, hell, why not make it two.

Of course, they’re still ranked #1 in the Pac-10. Just shows how wacky this season has been.

ASU looked horrible against Wazzu, and could have lost if it weren’t for a stupid rule about possession in the end zone. It’s probably just playing at Pullman; I’m sure that Carpenter won’t look that troubled at home when Cal comes to town. This will probably be remembered as the day Alex Brink revolted against his hideous Cougar offense and passed out of his damned mind (27-50, 369 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), but in the end it just wasn’t enough.

OSU beat Arizona 31-16 in a game that revealed absolutely nothing. It was pretty much a carbon copy of our game against ‘Zona–take a giant lead (31-3 about 19 minutes into the game), and play on cruise control until time ran out. If Oregon was a shootout, OSU might shape out to be a grind-out affair; only nine yards surrendered on the ground, although -81 or so of that yardage can be attributed to eight sacks. Easily the biggest test this year for the Cal offensive line, who will be up against the top ranked run defense in Division I on Saturday. It’ll be up to them to punch the holes.

Oregon and Washington both had time to rest. I’m sure they crapped over each other’s message boards about how much the other sucks. Plenty of Cal fans were happy to talk about how we don’t deserve anything. Ahh, message boards. They tell you so much and so little.

Big 12–Red River Shutdown: It was uncanny how similar this game was to Cal-Oregon a few weeks ago; defenses standing off for a quarter and a half, offenses finally letting loose, and a key fumble deep in the red zone that turned the game around. Only the events were the same, because the play was kind of crappy (18 penalties for 156 yards? 14 punts? Yeah, not exactly grand ole’ football.) Texas’s two second half turnovers undid their chances, including a go-ahead score negated by a fumble at the 5. And so a week after Colorado turned the Sooner world upside down, Oklahoma is lodged right back into the top ten.

And it’s just in time for their showdown of Missouri (wait, Missouri?). The Tigers proceeded to cream the Cornhuskers 41-6 and set back Nebraska football another five years. Your unbeatens in the Big 12 are Missouri and Kansas (KANSAS!) after the Jayhawks played impressively against their cross-state rivals in Manhattan, beating a Kansas State team that just dropped 41 on Texas, 30-24. Who would’ve thought Kansas-Missouri on Thanksgiving weekend would decide the Big 12 North. Someone might have to rescuciate the corpse of John Brown for this one.

The ACC should be paying a crap tax: Oh my lord, the ACC. You’d need to pay me very good money and cook very good steak and have very huge breasts to make me watch these matchups. I watched the Virginia Tech-Clemson game for about twenty-five seconds before all my cognitive functions shut down. It was about 3100-8 before USC-Stanford took me away.

Boston College is apparently #4 (as if that city needed MORE success). They have also played no one and been on the road once. I’ll pay attention to them when they play at Virginia Tech. FSU is #21, which boggles the imagination, since they’ve played the same crappy plodding football for half a decade. Miami went down to UNC. No one weeps.

In the Big Ten, Ohio State Ohio State blah blah Ohio State: They crushed Purdue. Took any thought of upset out of the question in a matter of minutes, which probably allowed Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit to pretend to follow the game while secretly watching USC and UCLA self-destructing and the battle in Death Valley. Now they will roll over creampuffs until Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, and will hopefully lose to one of them so I don’t have to deal with their crappy fans harping on the BCS in December, whether Cal is in the picture or not. I can’t stand OSU fans; only Notre Dame and USC fans rival their sheer stupidity.

Michigan survived a scare against Eastern Michigan thanks again to Mike Hart (200+ yards and 3 TDs). If DeSean can’t get the award, Mike Hart deserves two Heisman trophies for putting the Wolverines on his back and dragging them out of the wreckage of a lost season. No one took Michigan seriously after what happened to them, and if Hart can do anything to reverse that tide, he will deservedly be a god in Ann Arbor. Bless that kid.

In the other games, Northwestern smashed Michigan State 48-41 in one of those entertaining games no one will remember, and Iowa and Minnesota got shellacked by Penn State and Indiana respectively.

Big East: Cincinnati, South Florida and UConn are your undefeated in the Big East. Let that sink in. Cincinnati looks the most impressive of the 3 after outlasting Rutgers, and South Florida squeaked by their trap game at FAU. UConn beat another pushover in Akron, and will not get a real chance to prove themselves until they play South Florida at the end of the month–until then, Geno Auriemma still remains their most famous representative.

In other words, your big power showdowns this Saturday are UConn at Virginia (combined record of 10-1), LSU at Kentucky (combined record of 11-1) and Oklahoma at Missouri (combined record of 10-1). Welcome to bizarro college football.

SEC women are beautiful lillies of homeliness and warmth–this has nothing to do with the subject at hand: Easily the happiest note beside the USC/UCLA double whammy was Tennessee turning their season around and absolutely pasting Georgia. That game was over in fifteen minutes, broken open by a trick wide receiver pass from Lucas Taylor to LaMarcus Alridge where every Bulldog defender bit on the reverse. Arian Foster rushed for 3 scores. It was 28-0 at halftime; it felt like 70-0. This game was so similiar to our Neyland debacle it was eerie.

South Carolina stopped Andre Woodson and Kentucky at every juncture. I know this because I had picked Kentucky and felt like a moron afterward. The offense moved down the field, but the inexperience of playing at a meaningful SEC road environment in primetime showed–four costly turnovers killed the Wildcats all game long. Eric Norwood was a beast in this game (2 TD returns on defense), definitely one of those games that impresses NFL scouts to draft a player two rounds higher than he’s worth. The Gamecocks now have control of this conference, although dates at Tennessee, at Arkansas, and the Gator Chomper still remain.

Auburn beat Vanderbilt in about twenty seconds. I believe that’s all they needed. Alabama toughened it out in a trap game against Houston 30-24, Miss. State has four surprising wins (beating UAB this week) and could be our sleeper in the SEC West picture in case LSU falters (although the gap between them and LSU is so wide it’s even laughable to consider them a sleeper). But in this sport of crazy, anything is possible.

Did I miss anything? Comment and inform.

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