Week 10 Predictions Recap: The Nobody Told Me It Was Opposite Day Edition
Yep, predictions got a little ugly this week starting with my first one…
1. No Upsets Of Ranked Teams
This could not have been more wrong. There were six upsets of ranked teams, four of which were by unranked teams, and two of which were top-10 teams (Oregon and Iowa). There was also a slew of near-upsets. Which is why I’m glad I had my safety valve in my second prediction…
2. But Don’t Get Too Comfortable…10 Ranked Teams Are On Upset Alert
(1) No. 9 LSU played No. 3 Alabama tough, but Mark Ingram and replay officials were able to help the Tide overcome another horrible outing by Greg McElroy for a 24-15 victory. Their second win over a top-10 opponent helped Alabama jump back into the No. 2 spot in the latest BCS rankings. Their first was over Virginia Tech. Remember when they were in the top-10? Seems like ages ago. Fortunately for LSU, the loss didn’t hurt them much as they actually moved up one spot in the BCS. But that’s a whole other rant for later. Look for my post tomorrow.
(2) No. 4 Iowa finally had the loss that most of us have been waiting for them to have for weeks now as they fell to Northwestern, 17-10. The Hawkeyes took a serious blow when Ricky Stanzi had to leave the game with a high ankle sprain after being tackled in the end zone. Northwestern rolled to the win against backup QB James Vandenberg, who does not look good. The bigger issue moving forward is the game at Ohio State this week. Stanzi will still be out, and the Hawkeyes are very abruptly moving from national championship talk to possibly missing out on a BCS Bowl entirely.
(3) The team it increasingly appeared the Hawkeyes would meet at the Rose Bowl, No. 8 Oregon, also suffered a serious blow Saturday, losing a 51-42 shootout to unranked Stanford. The Ducks defense failed them, allowing Stanford RB Toby Gerhart to burn them for 223 yards on 32 carries. It’s just another in a long line of bad losses Oregon has had that messed up their seasons and put another strike against the Bill Plaschkes of the world that argue the Pac-10 is better than the SEC. But, with a 5-1 conference record and a win over USC, Oregon is still in the driver’s seat on the bus bound for the Rose Bowl. And even though they have the same record against a better schedule, USC is now ranked ahead of Oregon, putting them in great position to get to another BCS Bowl, just like the BCS wants.
(4) It took them going into overtime, but No. 10 Georgia Tech pulled out the 30-27 win over Wake Forest. Just as in all of their losses, the Demon Deacons struggled against the run, allowing the Yellow Jackets to go for 412 yards on the ground. They took the win with only 51 passing yards. The victory, with the other upsets this weekend, jumped Georgia Tech into the No. 7 spot in the new BCS rankings and allows ACC fans to continue thinking their conference is good.
(5) Despite pointing out that the numbers make No. 11 Penn State’s offense look much better than it really is on account of the weak schedule they’ve played, I thought that they would be able to take the home game against a Buckeyes team that has one of the weaker offenses in the country. The first part was right; the second part was not. Ohio State won 24-7, and that doesn’t even tell how badly Penn State was dominated. They were held to 201 yards of total offense, including 2.5 yards per carry and a 12-for-28 passing performance for Daryll Clark, who threw one INT with no TDs. Don’t look now, but with the game next week against a Stanzi-less Iowa, Ohio State is now in control for a Rose Bowl berth, even with two losses (one of which was a beatdown by Purdue).
(6) But for a couple of miracle plays, Tulsa would have pulled off the win against No. 15 Houston, who the BCS computers just hate. More on that rant also tomorrow. Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne sure did hit his stride again on Saturday, accounting for five TDs on 334 passing yards and 100 rushing yards. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t enough to overcome Case Keenum, who threw 40-for-60 for 522 yards and led his team to two field goals in the final 30 seconds to keep his team’s BCS hopes alive and escape with the 46-45 win.
(7) I said that the game between No. 20 Cal and Oregon State would come down to who held the ball longest. Well, Oregon State had it for just over 36 minutes and Cal had it for just under 24, and Oregon State rolled to the 31-14 victory. It wasn’t the rushing exhibition I expected, as the Beavers ran for 94 yards and the Bears were bottled up (again) for 39. Though that could be in part because of the horrific injury that Jahvid Best suffered mid-way through the second quarter. He leaped into the endzone and got upended, falling hard on his back and getting knocked unconscious. He had to be carted off, and could miss the rest of the season with a serious concussion.
(8) A 17-7 second quarter lead had me thinking No. 21 Wisconsin would have an easy win over Indiana, but as we keep seeing from the Big 10, no lead is safe. Indiana outscored Wisconsin 14-7 in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t do anything in the final four minutes of the game, coming up just short in the 31-28 loss. The Hoosiers put up 386 yards of offense on the Badgers, who are still playing some of the worst defense mixed with some of the best offense in the Big 10.
(9) I said that Navy would have to keep Jimmy Clausen off the field to win. Guess who had 32:19 of possession and who had 27:41. And guess who won 23-21. If you guessed Navy for both of those, you’d be right. They pulled off back-to-back wins at Notre Dame Stadium after losing 43 straight games against them from 1964 to 2006. It’s the first time an unranked Navy team has beaten a ranked Notre Dame team since before WWII – 1936. And Charlie Weis suddenly finds himself on the hot seat once again, in the very same week that discussions about Notre Dame making a BCS bowl were resurrected. Ouch.
(10) I was trying to figure out a circumstance in which No. 24 Oklahoma could lose to a reeling Huskers team. I didn’t think about the possibility that Landry Jones could throw five interceptions, allowing his team to lose 10-3 despite outgaining Nebraska by 145 yards. Oklahoma’s defense held Nebraska to 180 total yards of offense and still lost. Roy Helu had a heck of a game, rushing 20 times to single-handedly account for 138 of his team’s 180 yards. He also caught three passes for 15 yards, meaning that every single other player on the team contributed 27 yards.
BONUS: Teams that also should have been on upset alert but weren’t include No. 7 Boise State, which scraped by Louisiana Tech 45-35 and keeps seeing its BCS hopes dwindle despite not losing; No. 5 Cincinnati, which almost blew a 16-point fourth quarter lead to UConn, but held on for the 47-45 victory; No. 12 USC, which managed just 258 yards against Arizona St., but forced four turnovers to win an ugly one, 14-9.
3. Bad Weekend For Big 12 North
I thought the Big 12 North was in to get buried, but it was actually the South that took most of the hits this weekend. Kansas State stays in control of the North division with a 17-10 win over rival Kansas. Nebraska kept pace, however, as they upset Oklahoma in a thoroughly embarrassing loss for the South. Not that it was any more embarrassing than Texas A&M losing to Big 12 bottom-dweller Colorado. Gone are the days of the wrecking ball defense as the Buffs and their anemic offense put up 35 points on 437 yards. A&M blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead to fall to 5-4 on the season.
Want one even more embarrassing than that? We’ve got it in the only real break for the Big 12 North with Baylor topping Missouri, 40-32. Replacement QB Nick Florence passed for a school record 427 yards to snap Baylor’s 13-game conference road losing streak and beat Missouri for the first time in eight tries since the Big 12 was formed. Missouri had a 27-16 halftime lead, but as has been the story all year, they folded up and quit playing in the second half, managing only a safety and a field goal to get outscored 25-5 and lose even desperate hopes of winning the Big 12 North.
Even Texas, which crushed Central Florida 35-3, had a net loss on the weekend as they fell back to No. 3 in the BCS rankings.
So, in a weekend when I said the North would be lucky to get out with more than one win (and only conceding that because of two North teams playing each other), the North actually came out 3-3 while the South suffered two embarrassing losses to go 3-2.
4. Watch Ohio St. at Penn St. For Great Defense…And to See Why Neither of These Teams Should be in BCS Bowls
This was half right. One of the teams played great defense, and one team conclusively showed why it shouldn’t have even been part of the BCS discussion. Penn State, which had been averaging 406 yards and 28 points per game was held to 201 yards and seven points by the Buckeyes. Ohio State, which had struggled on offense, scored 24 points on 353 yards.
While Ohio State’s defense showed itself to be BCS caliber against an offense that has now been dominated by the only two good defenses it’s played, I’m still skeptical about its offense. The Buckeyes had a nice game, but you have to wonder about expectations when your QB is described as “shining” in a game where he goes 8-of-17 for 125 yards and picks up an additional 50 yards rushing. 175 yards of total offense is a shining performance? And despite the defense’s domination, Ohio State was only up 10-7 until the waning minutes of the third quarter. I really think that whoever goes to a BCS Bowl for the Big 10 (and it does look like it will be Ohio State) is once again in for a rough time in January.