Monday, October 1, 2007
Wow. What in incredible weekend in the world of college football. 7 of the top 13 and 5 of the top 10 teams lost, giving any top 25 voter a headache trying to make sense of the chaos. While the NFL's big news was Brett Favre's passing of Dan Marino's career touchdowns record, the college kids showed definitively why the most compelling football is played on Saturdays. When NFL teams lose a game, it's met by general malaise and the comfort of knowing that you can lose five more and still make the playoffs. Hell, some NFL teams can lose 7 or 8 games and still make it into the second slate. But on college campuses around the country, every weekend is a seemingly life-and-death affair where a mixture of booze, babes, and beer pong combine to turn every game into the chance for something special to take place.
Look no further than what occurred in Boulder on Saturday afternoon. Previously indestructible Oklahoma, led by the highest scoring offense in the country, was defeated on a field goal as time expired by a Buffalo squad that went just 2-10 a year ago. What makes the victory all the more impressive was the fact that the Sooners jumped out to a 24-7 lead, only to watch the resilient CU team fight back to score 20 unanswered points for Dan Hawkins' first big win of his tenure. Sure, had Reggie Smith not muffed a Colorado punt with less than 5 minutes to play, Oklahoma may have survived the upset attempt. But give credit where credit is due, a lot of teams would have rolled over when down to Oklahoma by that much, but CU didn't. While it remains to be seen how Colorado plays the rest of the season, this was obviously a huge step in the continuing reconstruction of the Colorado program.
Meanwhile, down in Austin, Kansas State made an emphatic statement by handing the Longhorns their worst home loss of the Mack Brown era, defeating UT by 20 points on the strength of 3 special teams touchdowns. Texas has not been as dominant as they were last year, especially on offense, where "gunslinger" Colt McCoy has struggled behind a rebuilt offensive line. That's not saying that K-State didn't deserve the win, they played well and for the second year in a row put UT's national title hopes in jeopardy. The North's defeat of the two premier Big XII south teams makes next week's Red River shootout essentially an elimination game, as the loser will stand no chance of winning a national title this year. While I'm hesitant to proclaim that the North is "back", this weekend made the rest of the country at least take notice that the division doesn't blow donkey balls, which is what most people have thought for the past couple of years. Between K-State, Colorado, Kansas, and the defensively suspect Mizzou/Husker squads, the North is going to continue to make some statements this year, and it's going to make for a hectic but fun year in the Big XII.
As for the Husker's win over Iowa State:
How often does the team who gained more yards and held the ball for 40 minutes lose? Only once in my life can I remember a team having a more significant edge in time of possession, and the team that did didn't lose like Iowa State did. When I saw that the Cyclones had jumped to an early 10-0 lead, I had my concerns. If we lost to ISU at home, surely the fallout would be unavoidable. Thankfully, the offense continued to show why it's one of the conference's best, and the defense, although struggling to get off the field, made plays when they needed them most to turn the tide and secure the win.
Ideally, a defense liked to hold the opposition to under 300 total yards of offense (less than 200 passing, less than 100 rushing). Then again, ideally you don't give up 1000 yards plus of offense in two weeks either, but that's been beaten to death. At this point, improvement is all that was asked of a oft-maligned Husker defense, and this weekend definitely qualified as progress. While Bret Meyer did manage to lead the Cyclones to 415 yards of offense, Nebraska responded by forcing four turnovers, and even threw 3 sacks in to boot, an area that desperately needs to improve if the Huskers are going to continue to be successful on defense. Special teams continues to show that it has made a near-180 since last year, as little man Courtney Grixby made a 51-yard kickoff return to spark the Huskers when they were down 10-0 in the second quarter.
Bo Ruud continues to do his best to shut up his critics, making the big play of the day for the second week in a row with a pick-6. While I couldn't watch it due to the TV blackout, I was shocked to hear that he could run that far and not get caught from behind. Either way, I'll take it, because we are going to continue to need plays like that if we are to make it to San Antonio this year. Thankfully, the defense has a reason for somewhat renewed optimism going into what is sure to be a shootout in Columbia next weekend. While many thought it would be a two-team race for the Big XII North, this weekend served notice that there is more than just the Huskers and Tigers to look out for. Still, the implications for Saturday's prime-time showdown are huge, and if nothing else, it should be yet another thriller for the cardiac Cornhuskers.
Here's a little Blackshirt Flashback, which I found over on BRN. Enjoy.
Posted by Husker Guy at 6:43 AM