College Football Week 9 – Oregon, Texas & Iowa Notch Critical Wins in the National Ttile Chase
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley
Oregon, Texas and Iowa won huge, critical victories to remain in contention for the National Championship Game during college football’s 9th week of play.
None of the three victories was more impressive or substantial than 10th-ranked Oregon’s convincing, ultimately dominating 47-20 upset win at home over 4th-ranked Southern California. Oregon was a 3-point underdog in the game.
The USC Trojans had won at least 11 games a season and had 7 consecutive BSC bowl-game appearances for 7 straight years; now the streak has been broken as there is no way Southern Cal can win 11 games this season. With another loss, USC’s 8th straight BCS bowl-game streak would also be in jeopardy.
The win pushed the Ducks to 7-1 and dropped the Trojans to 6-2 and, perhaps more important, left Oregon on top of the Pac 10 Conference race with an unbeaten 5-0 mark and pushed USC into a 3-way tie for 4th place at 3-2. The Trojan loss was its worst since 1997 when they were beaten by the Washington Huskies 27-0.
The Trojans came into the game ranked 16th nationally in both scoring defense and total defense, and flew home in defensive disarray.
How convincing was Oregon’s upset? This convincing: Oregon double-threat Jeremiah Masoli threw for 222 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 164 more yards and another score. Redshirt freshman LaMichael James ran for 183 yards and a touchdown as the Ducks racked up 391 yards rushing on the 5th best rushing defense in the nation. USC’s defense gave up a total of 613 yards to Oregon. The Trojan loss was the worst ever for head coach Pete Carroll during his 9 years at USC.
None of the three key victories was more important to a front-runner than the 3rd-ranked Texas Longhorns’ 41-14 smash-mouth win on-the-road over 13th-ranked Oklahoma State. Texas led 41-7 after three quarters when Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy left the game for good.
The Cowboys (now 6-2) allowed McCoy to go 16-for-21 for 171 yards and a touchdown, and Longhorn defenders Curtis Brown and Earl Thomas each returned an interception for a TD. The win definitely keeps the Longhorns (8-0) in the running for the national title game, especially if either Florida or Alabama now loses down the stretch.
None of the three victories was more exciting than Iowa’s 4th quarter, come-from-behind 42-24 win over a 4-5 Indiana team. The Hoosiers led 24-14 after three quarters and Iowa looked like burned toast, but the Hawkeyes exploded for 4 last quarter touchdowns to win the 4th quarter 28-0, and the game.
Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi threw 5 interceptions before the explosion, which started with an interception and 86-yard TD return by Tyler Sash. The defensive score ignited the Hawkeyes as Stanzi then made up for his errant ways by connecting with Marvin McNutt on a 92-yard TD pass, and Darrell Johnson-Koulianos on a 66-yard TD pass. Brandon Wegher added 6 and 27-yard scoring runs to end the rapid comeback.
Iowa has made a career out of winning close games this season—7 of the 9 Hawkeye wins have been by 11 or fewer points. Last year Iowa lost 4 games by combined total of 12 points. The Hawkeyes perfect 9-0 record is the best start in school history.
There were 4 upsets of ranked teams this week by unranked teams that included North Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee and Auburn.
Unranked North Carolina (5-3) went calling on 14th-ranked Virginia Tech (now also 5-3) and upset the Hokies 20-17. Unranked South Florida (now 6-2) traveled to 20th-ranked West Virginia (now also 6-2) and upset the Mountaineers 30-19. Unranked Tennessee (4-4) upset 21st-ranked South Carolina 31-13 at home, dropping the Gamecocks to 6-3 on the year and showing which team has the better defense.
Unranked Auburn (now 6-3) upset 24th-ranked Mississippi 33-20 at home, dropping Ole Miss to 5-3. Can we now just shut up about how great the Rebel team is going to be this year? Mississippi was ranked 10th in the pre-season Coaches Top 25 Poll.
Four other ranked teams came home with away victories—Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Penn State and Miami (FL).
Unbeaten and 5th-ranked Cincinnati (8-0) beat 100th-ranked Syracuse 28-7, scoring a touchdown in each quarter to inflict a slow, painful death on the Orange.
No. 11-ranked Georgia Tech scored 28 second-half points to gun down 129th-ranked Vanderbilt 56-31. The Yellow Jackets’ win was not impressive as they gave up 31 points to a lousy team, but at least their offense scored touchdowns in every quarter, and at least two TDs in 3 of the 4 quarters. Georgia Tech is now 8-1 on the season.
Penn State (8-1) beat the 98th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats 34-13. Northwestern (now 5-4) was 9-4 a year ago and lost a tough overtime game 30-23 to Missouri in the Alamo Bowl. Joe Pa and his 12th-ranked Nittany Lions still must beat Ohio State and Michigan State to have much to crow about since he selected and beat 4 cupcakes on his way to 8 wins so far. Penn State would play another team’s scout unit for a victory if they could get away with it.
The 18th-ranked Miami Hurricanes (6-2) needed two 4th-quarter touchdowns to nip 65th-ranked Wake Forest 28-27. The Demon Deacons led 27-14 after three quarters, but folded when it counted in the 4th quarter, which must make Wake Forest a pretty good three-quarter team.
Nine other ranked teams won at home—Florida, Boise State, Texas Christian, LSU, Houston, Ohio State, Utah, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.
No. 1 Florida went 8-0 by beating 35th-ranked Georgia, 41-17, as the Gators continue to roll on unbeaten toward another National Championship Game and a defense of their 2008 National Title last year.
No. 6 Boise State went 8-0 by ripping apart a terrible 1-6, 97th-ranked San Jose State team 45-7 in a cakewalk.
No. 8 Texas Christian shut out a 3-6, 113th-ranked UNLV team 41 to nothing, which pretty well describes the Rebel team this year. UNLV has not been to a bowl game since 2000; it’s a good thing the Rebels chalked up a bowl appearance early in the century because they may not make it back to another one until 3000 at the rate they are going.
No. 9 LSU (7-1) shut out the 2-6, 145th-ranked Tulane Green Wave 42-0.
No. 15 Houston (7-1) had its hands full with the 73rd-ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, barely winning in a genuine, old-fashioned gunfight, 50-43. Southern Miss was ranked 25th nationally in scoring defense coming into the game, so the Golden Eagles had a defense and could not stop Houston’s 3rd-ranked scoring offense.
The Houston Cougars, who have no total defense (they were ranked 112th among 120 major college teams), did what they always do, they gave up a horrendous number of points. If Houston had no offense, the Cougars would probably lose every game 26-0.
No. 17 Ohio State (7-2) shut out a 3-6, 148th-ranked New Mexico State team 45-0. The Buckeyes led 45-zip after three quarters and decided to shower early in the 4th quarter.
No. 19 Utah came up with another unimpressive 22-10 victory, this time over the 107th-ranked Wyoming Cowboys. Despite their impressive 7-1 record, the Utes must beat Texas Christian and Brigham Young to be in any discussion about who is good at the national level.
No. 22 Oklahoma (5-3) won 42-30 in a lackluster performance over a 5-3 Kansas State team. Now you know why the Sooners are 5-3 and really going nowhere.
The No. 25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-2) might have surprised themselves in finally becoming bowl eligible by crushing a woefully weak 1-7, 119th-ranked Washington State team, 40-14. Last year the Washington Huskies were a winless 0-12; this year the Washington State Cougars are just as bad.
Eight unranked teams became bowl eligible this week with their 6th win—Wisconsin, Rutgers, Boston College, Texas Tech, California, Temple, Troy and Ohio.
Wisconsin (6-2) shut out Purdue 37-0 in a Big Ten face-off. Two weeks ago Purdue had a huge 26-18 upset of visiting Ohio State, and this week the Boilermakers became a doormat for the Badgers; nothing could better describe the ups and downs of a college football team.
Rutgers (6-2) turned back Connecticut 28-24 after letting the Huskies score two 4th-quarter touchdowns to narrow the margin. You remember Rutgers, it’s that New Jersey school on the East Coast, where sportswriters and sportscasters think all great football is played; they suffer from other delusions too.
Boston College (6-2) beat visiting Central Michigan 31-10. The Central Michigan Chippewas (now 7-2) are lucky that this loss was not to a Mid American Conference opponent.
Texas Tech (6-3) ripped Kansas 42-21, California (6-2) held off Arizona State 23-21, Troy (6-2) clobbered Louisiana Monroe 42-21, Ohio (6-3) just nudged by a pathetic, 163rd-ranked Ball State team 20-17, and Temple (6-2) used a 4th-quarter field goal to edge a 6-3 Navy team, 27-24. The Temple Owls have now won their 6th game in-a-row, their longest win streak since 1974.
Three teams were idle this week—No. 2 Alabama, No. 17 Pittsburgh and No. 24 Arizona.
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