Reveal the Contenders–Action Jackson Recap, Week 10
Man, this seems familiar.
Up-and-coming Pac-10 contender rebounds from a devastating early season loss. Rebounds to crush the remaining schedule including several clutch home wins going into the stretch run. Loses a hideous trap game at Arizona where everything could go wrong. Are dead men walking going into LA and eventually fall short against the Trojans. Limp into a Holiday Bowl and wonder what could have been.
This was Cal last year. Could it be Oregon this year? I’d have to say if it isn’t going to be us, it might as well be the Ducks. Oregon might finally be the team that usurps the throne from USC, resoundly beating down the previously undefeated Sun Devils 35-23 to place their Pac-10 championship (and national title) hopes firmly in their hands. While they don’t have the greatest defense in the world, they realized something Gregory didn’t–blitzing the hell out of a testosterone-raging Carpenter might make him mistake-prone. Really, really mistake prone. After an effective comeback in the second quarter (albeit a disastrous ending sequence in the 1st half where they botched 40 seconds and a 20 yard chip shot), he fizzled out through the 3rd quarter into most of the 4th.
And Dennis Dixon? Man, he has looked fantastic. Even when he played Cal he only made one real mistake (the pick right to Felder); the rest of the game he exhibited a great deal of confidence and drove Oregon down the field almost at will. Since then he has only grown stronger and smarter, and he quelled any hope of a Sun Devil comeback in that 3rd quarter before going down. The loss of Colvin and Johnson have yet to hurt him, as long as Stewart keeps on churning up yardage. I won’t have any qualms about Oregon in the title game if they win out. None at all. But a tough road trip south to Arizona and UCLA looms before The Civil War.
But that probably means that someone above them has to lose. Who above and below them is competing for it?
At least this week, it’s not going to be the Buckeyes. They just keep on winning, this time 38-17 at home against Wisconsin. The Badgers gave us a smidgen of hope with a 17-10 lead sometime in the third quarter before quickly getting stomped on by Chris Wells. The depressing thought of Ohio State getting smacked around in the title game by whoever they face looms nearer. Please Michigan (who came back from 10 down to take down their hated State rivals, the Spartans), do us all a favor and eviscerate the Buckeyes. We’re putting this in your hands. Especially you Mario Manningham. I mean, holy crap.
Boston College did oblige though! At least two duds won’t be vying for the title. Good ol’ Bobby Bowden proves he’s always good for one upset, this time taking down Matt Ryan, his Heisman hopes, and his national title chances simultaneously. FSU 24, BC 14. The only time the Tomahawk chop gives me any joy.
LSU. Christ. I’m really rooting for Oregon-LSU, so I guess I’m hoping both win out and Ohio State goes down. It’s a win-win really. Either Oregon beats up LSU and gets that idiot Miles to fess up about the strength of West Coast football, or LSU wins, and Miles goes to Michigan, where he will make about half a dozen Rose Bowl appearances and lose to competently coached Pac-10 teams. That plus he can stop burning holes in the stomaches of the Baton Rouge faithful. LSU 41, Alabama 34 in the Saban Bowl. Another highly entertaining game that LSU should have lost. They’re 3 for 4 in that category. Maybe they should keep this pace up the rest of the year.
Midshipmen and McFadden lie after the jump.
Behind the noise of the big three contenders, one Big 12 team will lie in wait. Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri took care of business on Saturday, each win more impressive. Usually Oklahoma beating A&M by 32 would be the most impressive win, but Kansas laid 76 on Nebraska (could have easily been 176) and Missouri 55 AT Boulder. All three teams seem destined for a battle royale, with the Sooners likely cruising to the Big 12 South title as Jayhawk and Tiger duke it out Thanksgiving weekend. I’m really rooting for Kansas or Missouri to pull it out. I hate Oklahoma and anything remotely Stoops-related, so seeing one of those two. Texas also had an amazing comeback of 24 points in the 4th quarter against Oklahoma State–for the second straight week, all Jamaal Charles, with an absurd 16 carries for 180 yards.
Elsewhere, Navy finally defeated Notre Dame as Irish fans slowly go insane at the ineptitude of their head coach (this post is utterly fantastic, click and read every word of it). That play resulted in Ram Vela being possessed by the ghost of Chester Nimitz and struck up a new logo for the next battleship being launched out of Annapolis. Beauty.
Another perennial underdog? The mighty Huskies of UConn, whose defense held fast while their offense ripped apart Rutgers 33-18! UConn has the inside track to the BCS if they win out; although their biggest test also looms on the last week of the season, at the explosive West Virginia Mountaineers (also looming BCS contenders). So we’ll hold off on the praise for UConn, who I’m not sure knew college football existed until about six weeks ago.
Virginia Tech bounced back from their hideous collapse against BC by dog-pounding Georgia Tech 27-3. I ate Korean BBQ watching the first quarter and immediately left after they recovered that onside kick. They’re heading for a showdown with Virginia, who eeked out a win over mighty Wake Forest 17-16. Virginia has won its last four games by a combined total of five points, and six games by twelve points. Never a thrill missed with the mighty ACC.
Darren McFadden ran like Fred Flintstone to dinner and placed himself back in the Heisman race, leading a historic torching of the South Carolina front seven. 541 rushing yards. 46-38, Arkansas. LSU’s going to have one last mighty test against the Razorbacks on what’s shaping to be a great Thanksgiving weekend, with both McFadden and Felix Jones going against the mighty talented D at Death Valley.
Other than the LSU-Alabama funfest, pretty dull week in the SEC. Florida crushed Vandy by 30 points (it’s never easy to win in the Swamp unless your name is Tuberville), Georgia slugged their way past Troy 44-34, Auburn beat Tennessee Tech 35-3, Tennessee smashed through the formidable UL-Lafeyette 52-7; hell, even the football gods took pity on Ole Miss, pulling out one against mighty 2-7, Divison I-AA Northwestern State 38-31. Yeah, I think I’ll take being a Cal fan over an Ole Miss fan anyday.
Fun final stat: Kirby Freeman threw 1-14, 84 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs, in a 19-16 loss by Miami to the raging Wolfpack of N.C. State. That’s beautiful stuff. It’s fun to see the moment I move from Florida, both the Seminoles and the Hurricanes collapse into mediocrity. A page from paradise if I might say.
As for the rest of the Pac-10? We’ll save them for tomorrow.
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