Wild Weekends: Upsets, Upsets, and More Near Upsets

I guess you really can’t trust anybody can you?

Last week, I wrote that the upset may have reached its peak of power, but the events of this past weekend have shown that the upsets may have just gotten started. Boise St.’s fourteen game winning streak fell, Steve Spurrier got another win against Georgia, Michigan fell at home by 32, South Florida officially proved how real they are with an overtime road upset of Auburn. Along with the upsets there were plenty of near upsets with Wisconsin, Louisville, Texas, California, Nebraska, UCLA, Hawaii, and Texas A&M all narrowly avoided upsets Saturday. Quite the follow up to last weekends Big House blockbuster.

Parody truly has come full circle in college football and the opening of this year has proven that without a shadow of a doubt. Notre Dame and Michigan—two of college football’s traditional powerhouses—are 0-2 and facing off this weekend with the big game feel usually associated with their meeting nowhere to be found. Appalachian St., with a win this weekend, with likely make their first Top 25 appearance ever, joining South Florida and others bringing new teams into the spotlight.

LSU stomps Hokies in Baton Rouge
I mentioned last week my doubts as to whether or not Virginia Tech would be able to stand up against LSU after a lackadaisical performance against East Carolina. Well, my doubts became reality as the Tigers smoked the Hokies 48-7 in Baton Rouge Saturday Night. The loss of JaMarcus Russell hasn’t seemed to slow down the Tigers one bit as their Florida-like use of two quarterbacks—Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux—couldn’t have worked better. Flynn had a good night throwing 17/27 for 217 yards and ran for a touchdown while Perrilloux made the most of his little playing time going 5/5 for 84 yards with two touchdown throws. The rest of the Tigers trips into the end-zone were provided by their one-two punch in the backfield as running backs Keiland Williams and Jacob Hester combined for 207 yards on the ground and three scores (126 and two for Williams, 81 and one for Hester).

The story of this game was the Tigers’ complete domination of the Hokies without the aid of turnovers. The Hokies only committed one turnover throughout the game (an interception), but still didn’t find the end zone until near the end of the third quarter, and by that time they were down 27-0. The Tigers ended up with 11 more first downs, controlled the ball for nine more minutes and ran all over the V. Tech defense to the tune of 598 total yards. And those yards were evenly distributed as well with 301 coming through the air and 297 on the ground.

The Tigers’ all around fabulous performance on Saturday is proof positive that this team may not be beatable at home. It also shows that they have solidified their #2 status and could make a run at the national title. I know I may be speaking too soon what with the Tigers still having to play South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Auburn, and Alabama, but they will be at home for every one of those games except Alabama, something that is definitely in favor of the Tigers.

Monday Night Football: Two wild finishes highlight opening week for NFL
The NFL football season kicked off this weekend and opening Sunday was chalk filled with last second finishes, big plays, and weird games. However, the real excitement of the weekend could be found on ESPN on Monday Night. In a way, these first two games were what Monday Night Football has been about these near forty years it’s been on the air: exciting, suspenseful, entertaining football.

In game one, the Baltimore Ravens looked like everything but a possible Super Bowl contender committing six turnovers and having Steve McNair leave the game late. It would in fact be that sixth turnover that did the Ravens in as despite five they were still in the game up until the end. Boller had driven the Ravens inside the Bengal 10 and had apparently connected with Todd Heap for the game-tying touchdown, but a controversial pass interference call—it could’ve gone either way—against Heap negated it. The Ravens failed on fourth down, but a Bengals penalty gave them new life that was taken away just as quick when Bengal lineman Michael Myers intercepted a tipped pass with 1:13 to go.

In game two, Alex Smith may have showed the first signs of possible greatness in leading the San Francisco 49ers to a game winning 12 play 86 yard drive leaving only 22 seconds. The 49ers got the ball when Arizona opted not to really go for the first down on their next to last offensive possession putting the game in their defense’s hands. Smith and the 49ers did get two strokes of luck on the drive, however. At one point, the 49ers had a 1st and 1 opportunity; three incomplete passes later and they faced 4th and 1. Again opting to pass, Alex Smith couldn’t find anyone and was able to scramble for 25 yards. Four plays later, Arnaz Battle made a great catch for what looked to be a touchdown, but fumbled upon contact. Cardinal Eric Green had a chance at recovering the fumble, but literally fell over the ball allowing the 49ers to recover; one play later, Battle redeemed himself by taking a handoff one-yard for the winning score.

Truly, a night of thrills and spills, thankfully no chills as both games provided entertainment while showing that all four of these teams did not start out according to perception with Baltimore playing very sloppy, Cinci doing great on D, but failing to close until the end, Arizona blowing it late, and Alex Smith actually coming through in the clutch.

FINAL THOUGHTS

LSU’s win this weekend has proven that there are still some teams you can count on. Oklahoma looked like they will be the team to beat in the Big-12 with a thorough domination of Miami and Florida’s opening makes their meeting with the Tigers later this year already have that Game of the Year feel. In the Big-10, there are still Penn St. and Ohio St., and despite Wisconsin’s close win, they are still a team to watch when conference play begins. What these upsets and near upsets have done is shake up the college football world nice and quick. No longer is out of conference play dominated by throwaway games and a few big ones. I guarantee next year, all teams will be thinking long and hard about who they take on before the familiarity of their conference foes. Those three choices are no longer like picking names out of a hat, now they feel like a college final exam before the school year even begins.

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