What looked like an incredibly stale plate of college football this week (word to Alabama scrimmaging Georgia State!) turned out to be pretty alright, thanks to a pair of tight inter-conference match-ups.
Saturday afternoon would be defined by an SEC contest that almost saw still-BCS-championship-hopeful Georgia outlasting a University of Tennessee squad looking to salvage their season’s slow start. In front of a packed house in Knoxville, the Bulldogs were given all they could handle, but some clutch plays from Aaron Murray – including a sublime 57-yard keeper and a game-tying pass with five seconds to go Rantavious Wooten – forced overtime.
The Volunteers ultimately lost the game in the lamest of manners: fumbling away a would-be touchdown run at the line. Running back Alton “Pig” Howard lost control, Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan booted the game-winner, and Tennessee fans like TSS friend Wally Sparks were left wondering about lost opportunities.
The narrow win proved two things:
1. Even “mediocre” SEC teams are potential monsters.
2. Georgia is still a title contender.
File Ohio State under that same “BCS hopefuls avoiding upsets” label. The Buckeyes traveled to Chicago to battle a Northwestern team chomping at the bit for a chance at some respect. Since their victory over Mississippi State last January, the Wildcats have been on the up-and-up, to the point where calling them the second-best team in the Big 10 wouldn’t be far-fetched.
They certainly played like it, looking like the best team on the field for the first three quarters. The Buckeyes D just didn’t have a look for Northwestern’s unorthodox two-quarterback set. Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter, who also lined up as receiver, exposed a weak Ohio State secondary. And on the other side of the ball, Braxton Miller looked far-removed from the pre-season Heisman talk.
But Carlos Hyde put the Buckeyes on his back, rushing for 168 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. It was one of the most dominant rushing games that an Ohio State running back has put up over the last couple of seasons, showcasing that the battering ram of a back is every bit as important as Miller in making Ohio State’s offense tick. Factor that with some late defensive magic – including a Siemian interception in the game’s waning moments – and Ohio State would go on to win, 40-30.
Though they lost, Northwestern has to feel proud about the scare they put into Urban Meyer and co. They exposed Ohio State’s soft secondary on national TV, and have every reason to think that a BCS bowl is within reach. As for Ohio State? The Buckeyes still haven’t lost under Meyer. It could be a while before that sentence is proven false.
— The stadium wasn’t exactly filled to capacity for SMU/Rutgers, but I triple-dog-dare you to find a better two-point conversation with the game on the line.
— Mark your calendars for October 19 – Florida State @ Clemson in a game with serious national title implications. The ‘Noles powerbombed the #25 Maryland Terps 63-0 behind a virtuoso 393 yards and five touchdowns from Jameis Winston. Meanwhile, Clemson made easy work of new ACC foe Syracuse 49-14 with Tajh Boyd going for 455 yards and five touchdowns of his own. Not excited yet? You should be.
— Baylor had 617 yards. IN THE FIRST HALF. Slowly but surely the country is starting to realize there are three god-like offenses in football right now – Baylor, Oregon and the Denver Broncos. RG3’s university put up a whopping 73 points on West Virginia with 864 total yards.
— Speaking of Oregon, just like we said, they didn’t miss De’Anthony Thomas after coasting to a 57-16 woodshed beating of Colorado.
— Keeping it in the Pac-12, Stanford barely squeaked by #15 Washington 31-28 in what could go down as the weekend’s most underrated game.
— Teddy Bridgewater continued his NFL audition with another 348 yards and two touchdowns as Louisville easily marched to a 30-7 victory over Temple.
— Why Alabama is playing Georgia State in October is anybody’s guess. The game was over before the Panthers even got off the bus. ‘Bama coasted to a 45-3 victory. For what it’s worth, DeAndrew White had one hell of a touchdown grab.
— #13 South Carolina beat Kentucky 35-28 to improve to 4-1 on the season. That wasn’t the headline. Jadeveon Clowney asking to sit out the game with bruised ribs was. What was billed as an all-world campaign all winter, spring and summer hasn’t exactly produced the results in the fall many expected. That being said, he’s still a first-round pick next April.
— It was touch and go for awhile, but a 28-point fourth quarter from LSU made a close game a laugher as LSU easily bounced back from last week’s nail biter in Athens to a 59-26 win over Mississippi State.
— Kansas was up 10-0 over Texas Tech in the first quarter. Then, for reasons unknown, Charlie Weis called a fake punt deep inside their own territory. That’s when the flood gates opened up. By the end of the game, TTU left with a 54-16 victory.
And before we close, shout out to Brent Musburger for shouting out the gamblers who covered the spread when the Buckeyes got that unpredictable final touchdown.
Photos + Video: Getty, LB Sports