WEEK 8 REVIEW
A rather bland early part of the day, which saw No. 1 LSU, No. 3 Oklahoma St. and No. 7 Clemson roll over potentially stiff challenges, gave way to utter chaos in the late round of games.
The wildest game took place in East Lansing where 16th ranked Michigan St. was battling against its second consecutive unbeaten opponent ranked in the top 15. This time, that team was the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers came in angry after being snubbed by the initial BCS Standings because of their poor non conference schedule,] and were looking for an opportunity to really make a statement against the Spartans, who had taken down highly rated and previously unbeaten Michigan just a week earlier.
After scoring the first 14 points of the game, the Badgers were flying high and seemed to be on their way to an easy win, but the Spartans would rally in the 2nd quarter with 23 straight points to take a 23-14 lead into halftime. After a quiet third quarter, the sparks really flew in the 4th quarter as quarterback Russell Wilson led the Badgers back to tie the game with two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the game to tie it at 31.
The Spartans still had just over a minute left though to try and win the game. Aided by the bizarre decision of Badgers coach Bret Bielema to use his timeouts to allow the drive to continue, the Spartans marched to the Badger 44 yard line with four seconds remaining. With no timeouts left, and too far out of field goal range, the Spartans only option was to heave the ball downfield and hope. In one of the wildest plays in football history, quarterback Kirk Cousins pass was knocked down by the Badgers, but right into the hands of wide receiver Keith Nichol at the goal line. Nichol was tackled right at the goal line, and ruled down before he crossed into the end zone as time expired. A lengthy review (almost 10 minutes) didn't seem to meet the burden of "irrefutable proof" to overturn the call, but the referees disagreed, saying that the ball did indeed break the plain, resulting in the game winning score for Michigan St., which set off bedlam in East Lansing.
Meanwhile, as that game was ending, a thousand miles to the south, thanks to a lengthy lightning delay Texas Tech and Oklahoma were just wrapping up a first half that saw the Red Raiders jump out to a jaw dropping 24-7 lead behind quarterback Seth Doege. Sensing that their BCS Championship hopes were in serious danger, the Sooners really ratcheted up the pressure in the second half. Quarterback Landry Jones threw four second half touchdown passes, three of them of at least 20 yards or more to bring the Sooners back and give them a chance. The lead was simply too much to overcome though as Doege threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game tmid way through the fourth quarter, this one to Tramain Swindall, to give the Raiders a 41-24 lead. Two late touchdown passes from Jones brought Oklahoma to within three points, but after recovering an onside kick in the final minute, the Raiders were able to run out the clock and score one of the biggest upsets of the season.
For Oklahoma, the loss was their first at home in their last 39 games and might have cost them their chance to play for the national championship in January. However, with three more big games against ranked opponents on their schedule, all is not lost. The Sooners will take on undefeated Kansas St. this week in Manhattan in the SB Nation - Boston game of the week. The week is also highlighted by Michigan St. battling it's third consecutive ranked opponent when they travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska, and an intriguing Pac-12 showdown in Los Angeles between USC and Stanford.
All games are on Saturday October 29th unless otherwise noted. All games are EST.
An absolutely CRITICAL game for both teams, but for different reasons. After the Sooners stunning loss to Texas Tech last week, they desperately need this win to keep themselves at least in contention for the National Championship Game. In order to do it, they'll have to go on the road against a Kansas St. team that has similar aspirations, but first must earn itself some respect. The Wildcats haven't yet played a team that is currently ranked, and their best wins are against Baylor and Miami. It's not a terrible resume, but its not championship caliber either. Under the ageless Bill Snyder, the Wildcats have returned to being the power running team that they were in the late 90's, this time anchored by quarterback Collin Klein who has accounted for over 1600 yards of total offense and 22 touchdowns thus far. The Wildcat offense is also anchored by running back John Hubert who's racked up 637 yards on the ground and provides a terrific 1-2 punch with Klein. The contrast in styles will provide the Oklahoma defense with a big adjustment after playing against the pass happy attack of Texas Tech. The Sooners will need to get the Wildcat offense off the field, as it's design is to control the clock and time of possession. If they can get their offense on the field, Landry Jones should have a field day with a Wildcat defense which only surrendered less than 21 points once in its last five games. Look for receivers Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills to have monster games for the Sooners.
The Spartans are one of the hottest teams in the country right now after three consecutive wins over conference rivals Ohio St., Michigan, and Wisconsin, and now will take on Nebraska. For the Spartans, this will be a challenge similar to what they faced against the Wolverines a few weeks back. The Cornhuskers have a mobile athletic quarterback in Taylor Martinez, who's also limited in his ability to move the ball with his arm. The biggest difference between them though, is that the Huskers also have a a secondary running attack with running back Rex Burkhead. The two of them have combined to rush for almost 1400 yards and 20 touchdowns so far this season and are one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country. The Spartans defense, while among the best in the country gave up almost 200 yards on the ground to Wisconsin last week, which would indicate that Nebraska should be able to run the ball. Defensive tackle Jerel Worthy and the rest of the Spartan defense will need to find a way to slow the ground attack and force Martinez to put the ball in the air. On the other side of the ball, Nebraska has had similar issues stopping the run (they've allowed at least 190 yards on the ground three times this year). Without star defensive lineman Jared Crick (neck), this could be a big game for Spartans running backs Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell.
No. 6 Stanford Carinal (7-0) @ USC Trojans (6-1) -- 8:00 p.m. (ABC)
After an impressive demolition of the Washington Huskies last week in Palo Alto, Stanford will face its first road test of the season when they travel south to battle USC in the Coliseum. Don't be fooled by the fact that the Trojans aren't ranked, as a fair portion of the reason for that is the probation that they're on and the fact that they aren't eligible for the post season. This is a solid football team that's playing as well as it has in the past few years and they'll provide a stern test for Stanford. If you watched Stanford obliterate Washington last week, the one thing you probably took away is that the Cardinal are more than just all-everything quarterback Andrew Luck. They've also got a bruising running attack with Stepfan Taylor (697 yards, 6 TD's) and terrific lines on both sides of the ball that cover for the lack of elite athletes at the skill positions (not all that dissimilar from the way Boston College conducted business for years and years). USC will be the first team to really test how well those lines can cover up that lack of athleticism though, as the Trojans possess some amazing skill players, including receiver Robert Woods. Woods is the nations third leading receiver with just over 900 yards receiving. Coupled with freshman Marqise Lee, the Trojans boast one of the best passing attacks west of Stillwater, Oklahoma and will put the Cardinal DB's under a great deal of pressure. The defensive line, led by junior Ben Gardner will need to put pressure on Matt Barkley and not give him time to survey the field, otherwise this game could be a lot more exciting than Stanford would like. The Cardinal will score points in this one, whether they can keep the Trojans from doing the same is the question.
UPSET SPECIAL (RECORD: 3-5)
Not really a whole lot to like from an outright upset standpoint on the board this week, so we'll take a little bit of a shot in the dark and go with the Jackets. Clemson continues to roll and is in the Top 5 this week and is very much in the mix for the BCS Title Game if they can continue to win. However, some chinks have begun to show in the armor the last few weeks. After an early season stretch that saw them surrender a great deal of points to a great deal of theoretically over-matched opponents, the Tigers 23-3 pounding of Virginia Tech seemed to alleviate the concerns about their defense. But after surrendering 83 points int their last two games, those concerns have returned. One team that could seemingly take advantage of that would be Georgia Tech. The Jackets, despite losing their last two in rather embarrassing fashion, still have a dominant three headed running attack with quarterback Tevin Johnson and running backs Orwin Smith and David Sims. A "first team to 60" type game seems possible as Clemson's offense is also among the more spectacular in the country with its balanced trio of quarterback Tahj Boyd, running back Andre Ellington, and freshman phenom receiver Sammy Watkins. If the Tech defense can get a few stops, they'll have a shot.
Alert the authorities! The Eagles have a chance! Despite their impressive offensive showing against Clemson a few weeks ago, the Terps reverted back to their more familiar form with an ugly 41-16 loss to Florida St. last week that saw them change quarterbacks for the third time this season, going back to original starter Danny O'Brien from CJ Brown, the ACC's Rookie of the Year from 2010 (both will likely see action again this week). The Terps possess one of the worst defenses in the country and an, only occasionally, potent offense. First year coach Randy Edsall seemingly has this team turned inside out with no real direction, and seem ripe for the taking this week. In order for that to happen, the Eagles will need to build on their solid first half in Blacksburg last week against Virginia Tech (all tapes of the second half should be burned and destroyed). If they can get the same kind of defensive effort for 60 minutes, they'll at the very least be in a position they haven't been in against a FBS team since way back in Week 3, with a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Running back Rolandan Finch had a solid game on the ground for the Eagles, and they'd be wise to keep riding him as long as he's capable. If Chase Rettig can make a few throws down the field to players like Colin Larmond, Jr., this is a game the Eagles could maybe, possibly, have an outside opportunity to win. This game should be pretty ugly, and contrary to the belief of some in the media, it has nothing to do with the fact that both are suffering from "bad karma".
Rhode Island Rams (2-5) @ New Hampshire Wildcats (5-2) -- 12:00 p.m.
UMass Minutemen (4-3) @ Richmond Spiders (3-4) -- 1:00 p.m.
Maine Black Bears (6-1) @ Villanova Wildcats (1-7) -- 3:30 p.m.
Yale Bulldogs (3-3) @ Columbia Lions (0-6) -- 12:00 p.m.
Pennsylvania Quakers (4-2) @ Brown Bears (5-1) -- 12:30 p.m.
Dartmouth Big Green (2-4) @ Harvard Crimson (5-1) -- 6:00 p.m.
Sacred Heart Pioneers (4-3) @ Robert Morris Colonials (2-5) -- 12:00 p.m.
Central Connecticut St. Blue Devils (2-6) @ St. Francis (1-7) -- 12:00 p.m.
Georgetown Hoyas (6-2) @ Holy Cross Crusaders (4-3) -- 1:00 p.m.