Apparently Appalachian St. was the tip of the iceberg.
For the first time since 2003 and only the second time in a real long time, six top 13 teams went down in defeat this past Saturday sending college football in proverbial chaos and giving us the most colorful top 10 in a long time. The traditional powerhouses have not acted that way this year with the exception of a few and even one loss does indeed indicate that domination isn’t there (especially in a game where one loss could mean the difference between the BCS and all those non-January 1 bowl games).
Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, West Virginia, and Rutgers went down. Along with this Cal and Wisconsin narrowly avoided defeat with Cal getting their win on one of the luckiest and unluckiest plays in college football history and Wisconsin giving up 564 yards on the day, but not the ones that counted in the final minute.
In the case of West Virginia and Oregon, they were able to avoid scrutiny (or should) with their losses because they were against credible opponents. Oregon, in the game of the week (both pre-game and actual), lost to Calâ€”a team ranked higher than themâ€”after a Cameron Colvin fumble at the goal line went through the end zone resulting in a Cal touchback and the win. What Oregon will have to answer for in defeat is the fact that Cal scored 21 points in the final quarter in route to the win. In West Virginia’s case, they were the ones that proved South Florida is for real in the Big East. After a great season last year, people believed that South Florida could become a contender with another year of seasoning. Apparently the Bulls were impatient moving to 4-0 with a 21-13 win over the Mountaineers thanks mainly to holding West Virginia to a surprisingly low 188 yards on the ground. That may not seem like a low day, but for a team that has been averaging over 200 per game this year, it is. And the results speak for themselves.
Giants get record 12 sacks while Lions score record 34 in fourth quarter in wins
In terms of defensive performances, the New York Giants put together one of the better ones in recent NFL history this past Sunday bringing the Philadelphia Eagles back down to earth as a team in need of fixing with a convincing 16-3 win. Despite being outdone in just about every offensive category, none of it mattered as the Giant defense completely destroyed Philadelphia by tying an NFL record with 12, yes 12, sacks.
The Giants’ twelve was the first time a team had recorded that many sacks in an NFL game in 22 years. The greatness of this defensive performance was that it was spread out with multiple members of the Giants D having great games. Gibril Wilson recorded 11 tackles (10 solo), Justin Tuck recorded two sacks and seven tackles (six solo), Mathias Kiwanuka had three sacks, and Aaron Ross had five tackles (all solo). But the biggest performer on this night was Osi Umenyiora who tied his sack total from last year by recording six sacks on the night.
A truly memorable performance that exposed the weakness in Philadelphia’s offensive line with the help of injuries, but also brought Donovan McNabb back down to earth after getting his first win of the season last week in a game where it looked like the Eagles had turned things around. It’s a bit ironic, all things considered, that the Eagles lone win of the year came against a team that had a historic day of their own this past Sunday: The Detroit Lions.
It seemed like another Bears/Lions game through the first 45 minutes: the Bears were up 13-3 and neither team had done anything particularly remarkable.
Then, it was as if the planets had aligned.
The Lions would score in every possible way (offensively both running and passing, defensively, and on special teams) in the fourth quarter totaling 34 pointsâ€”a new NFL recordâ€”leading them to a 37-27 win and a 3-1 recording tying their win total from last year. Obviously the Lions will get that fourth win as they don’t seem to be the Lions team capable of losing twelve straight games.
The interesting thing about this 34-point quarter is that the game itself stayed close the whole way. Shaun McDonald ran in a touchdown to pull the Lions within three and was followed by a Keith Smith interception return on one of Brian Griese’s three interceptions in his first start for the Bears. At that point the Lions were up 17-13. The lead would change hands twice more with the Lions scoring touchdowns from Troy Walters and Kevin Jones before sealing the game with Casey Fitzsimmons’ 41-yard return of an attempted Bears onside kick with less than a minute to go.
They don’t call it Blockbuster Saturday for nothing people. This Saturday features four games between top 25 teams (five if you count South Carolina/Kentucky on Thursday) and they’re all big. LSU/Florida could’ve gotten Game of the Year hype, but due to Florida’s loss it’s just another shot for a #1 to go down; still should be thrilling however. Oklahoma/Texas is the traditional Red River Shootout with both teams having even more to play for than normal due to the fact that both lost their look ahead games (how’s that for irony). Ohio St./Purdue is Purdue’s shot to prove if they’re for real or not and is Ohio St.’s first real test this year as both have had pretty weak schedules up to this point. Virginia Tech/Clemson is the Hokies’ chance at big game redemption and the Tigers’ chance at redemption period after blowing it against Georgia Tech last weekend.
The Top 10 as of now goes in the following order: LSU, USC, Cal, Ohio St., Wisconsin, Boston College, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma. Six of those ten are in big games this weekend are at the most risk for losing with four of those six playing each other in the form of South Carolina/Kentucky and LSU/Florida (boy that SEC is exciting isn’t it?). Wisconsin has Illinois who has upset fever after knocking off Penn St. and then getting a second crack at taking out a ranked conference foe and the Badgers can’t look ahead in this one for that reason and due to the fact that they have not played like a top 5 or top 10 or even top 20 team at any point this season. The beauty of sports is the spontaneous nature of it all and the fact that what is what this week may not be the next week. In the case of college football, this week is the truest week in terms of shakeups before the late November surge of rivalry games, conference title games, and bowl bids being on the line almost everywhere.
Strap yourselves in; the real ride begins this weekend.