Week 6 Predictions Recap – The Shouldn’t Have Gone Out on a Limb Edition
1. Nebraska Gets Some Of Its Pride Back By Beating The Tigers In Missouri
This one was in serious doubt for the first three quarters. Missouri was ruling an incredibly sloppy game with a 12-0 lead, having held Nebraska to 109 yards of total offense.
Then, in the fourth quarter, the rains let up. Nebraska broke a long play. An injury to Blaine Gabbert really started to take its toll. And, when the game ended, the Huskers had tied their greatest fourth quarter comeback of all time with a 27-12 victory.
It all started with a 56-yard pass from Zac Lee to Niles Paul on the third play of the fourth quarter. The commentators (who I am increasingly convinced only watch the game in between their all-too-important conversational topics) incorrectly called it the first play of the quarter. That was immediately after a two-yard loss that they incorrectly called a “short gain.”
On the first play of Missouri’s next possession, Gabbert threw his first interception of the season, tossing it right into the hands of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. From the Missouri 18, it took Nebraska just two plays to score another TD to turn what had been a 12-point deficit into a one-point lead (they tried the two point conversion and failed).
On the next possession, Gabbert (noticeably limping from when Suh had rolled up on his leg earlier in the game) threw his second interception of the season, which was returned 40 yards to the Missouri 10. Again, it took two plays to score a TD, and Nebraska pushed the lead to 20-12.
This is why I don’t like going for two-point conversions with multiple possessions left in the game. If they went for the one and got the one earlier, this TD would have made it an almost insurmountable two-possession game.
Not that it mattered. With Gabbert hobbled, Missouri had trouble moving the ball. The Tigers managed to move it as close as far as the Nebraska 22. But, rather than going for the field goal from the 32 (following a holding call) and then trying to get the onside kick, Missouri went for it on 2nd down, 3rd down and 4th down with 20 yards to go without gaining a single yard. It was an appropriately baffling possession to end a baffling night for Missouri, which once again finds itself outside the top 25. With games coming up at Oklahoma State and against Texas, I’m guessing it will be a while before Missouri sees the top 25 again.
Nebraska, on the other hand, is up to No. 15 in the AP Poll with great chances to ascend with upcoming games against Texas Tech, Iowa State and Baylor.
2. Total Top-5 Chaos When LSU Upsets Florida
Like Missouri, I couldn’t sustain my good start on my predictions, falling apart after the very first one. It’s hard to express how much LSU got dominated in its 13-3 loss to Florida, so I will just let this one stat speak for itself: Tim Tebow passed for 134 yards and rushed for another 38 for a grand total of 172 to single-handedly outgain the entire LSU offense (162 yards).
This was the game I had been waiting for LSU to lose. I just got too excited about the possibility of Tebow either being out or not being 100%. But, this is the one that LSU just had coming to them, the way they had been winning. They deserved to fall to No. 10 (and I’d have no problem putting them even farther down, beneath Iowa and TCU). And, with the way that Texas played against Colorado, Florida and Alabama deserve to clinch their strangle holds on the first two spots in the polls.
As a side note for Texas fans – very bad news going into the game against Oklahoma and the first week of the BCS polls as Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings now have the Longhorns down to No. 14.
3. UCLA Will Halt Oregon’s BCS Hopes
Another out-on-a-limb prediction that went very badly for me. I thought I had a good thing with Oregon going on the road without their starting quarterback. I failed to factor in one thing: UCLA stinks!
As with Missouri, the underdog was controlling an ugly game early. UCLA had a 3-0 halftime lead (you didn’t even know they played games like that in the Pac-10, did you?), but huge miscues led to a speedy turnaround in the second half that led to Oregon’s eventual 24-10 win. Oregon didn’t need much offensive output (trust me – they weren’t nearly as good as their 303 yards of offense indicates) as Kenjon Barner returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. Talmadge Jackson quickly followed with a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown. Within 26 seconds, the Ducks had completely turned the game around.
UCLA scored its only TD on one of the strangest plays I’ve ever seen. Oregon QB Nate Costa dropped to the back of the end zone looking to make a pass, and made a desperate heave under pressure, throwing it right into the hands of the defensive lineman in front of him, giving him a 0-yard INT return for a TD.
But, it was not nearly enough to get the Bruins back in the game. Their offense was so futile they even had to change QBs in the second half. I still can’t really tell if Oregon’s defense is that good or if UCLA’s offense is that bad. Either way, this is not the same defense I saw in the opener against Boise State. Someone lit a fire under them and they are playing with a real passion.
4. Most Dangerous Matchups Of The Weekend For Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech
I can’t totally call this wrong, as I didn’t officially pick anyone to lose (in fact, in my picks of the week, I selected all of these games correctly). I only said they were in danger of falling out of the top-25. That certainly came true for Ole Miss, which got dominated by Alabama. The Crimson Tide had almost as many points in the first half (16) as the Rebels had total yards (19).
This game was not even as close as the 22-3 score showed. The closest Ole Miss got in the second half was when they marched down inside the Alabama five yard line and had to settle for a field goal to cut the lead to 16-3. That was their only decent drive of the game. They had 212 yards of total offense, and ‘Bama held Jevan Snead to 140 yards and four INTs on 11-of-34 passing. And you know you’re in trouble when Snead is your leading rusher with four carries for 44 yards.
I agree with Florida staying in the No. 1 spot until someone beats them. I think that’s the respect you get as a defending national champion. But, for my money, Alabama looks like the best team in the country right now.
Oklahoma State managed to scrape out a 36-31 win at Texas A&M, giving them hope they’ll be able to adjust to life after Bryant. And Texas A&M’s QB, Jerrod Johnson, continues to perform very well. He threw just 22-of-42, but he had 273 yards and three TDs, to move to 14 TDs this year without an interception. I have doubts about A&M’s overall strength, but he will give lots of good teams fits.
And Georgia Tech won a shocking 49-44 shootout against Florida State. The two teams combined for 1,071 yards of offense. That included 359 passing for the Seminoles and 401 rushing for the Yellow Jackets. But, nobody gets points for style, and Florida State lost their third in a row as Georgia Tech continues to be ranked inexplicably and annoyingly high.
5. Other Teams You Wouldn’t Want To Be – Mississippi State And Arizona
Neither of these teams lost like I thought they would, but both of them suffered difficult losses, nevertheless.
Mississippi State looked good early, taking a 17-14 lead into halftime, but 17 unanswered by Houston sealed the Cougars’ 31-24 win. That was the third-straight home loss for the Bulldogs. MSU put up 490 yards of offense in a great effort, but was done in by four turnovers (two fumbles, two INTs). The win (with some help from lower-tier ranked teams falling out) moved Houston back into the rankings at No. 23.
Arizona’s 36-33 loss to Washington was a heartbreaker for the Wildcats, which became the last victim of the weekend of not being able to hold the early lead. The Cats dominated Washington in all aspects of the game, outgaining them 461-256, holding the ball almost 19 minutes longer, converting more third downs and picking up 12 more first downs. But, Arizona just couldn’t seal the deal in the red zone, settling for four field goals of 18, 23, 29 and 24 yards.
As is usually the case, the inability to convert came back to bite them, as Washington scored two TDs within 18 seconds in the fourth quarter to steal away the victory. It’s not the game I expected from Jake Locker, but a great comeback win at least stops Washington’s slide and might get them a little confidence for the future.