The fifth week of college football revealed the 6 luckiest teams in the nation: Missouri, Texas Tech, Brigham Young (BYU), Kansas, Boise State and Vanderbilt. It was the 6 teams from the AP Top 25 Poll that had a bye week, saving them from possible defeat.
The other 19 Top 25 teams did not fare as well in Week 5, with only 10 of the 19 winning (a meager 53%) while 9 more, including 3 of the top 4 teams, lost.
Among the 9 classified teams that lost, 6 committed the unforgivable sin of losing to unranked teams, an absolute no if you want to be in the quest for the national title. You can say goodbye to the national title hopes of Southern California, Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Clemson, Illinois and Texas Christian (TCU).
The biggest loser was the University of Southern California (USC, University of Shoulda Coulda), which took first place in the ranking, which traveled to the Corvallis (OR) lair of the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers, a 1-2 unrated team that had already lost road games at Stanford and Penn State, decided to take out their nastiness on the Trojans, dominating USC 21-0 in the first half and holding on to a 27-21 victory. .
USC should have known better, as the Trojans were upset by the Beavers 33-31 during their last trip to Corvallis two years ago. That loss ended Southern Cal’s 38-game winning streak in the regular season.
Fourth-ranked Florida hosted Mississippi unranked and quickly lost 31-30 with a lousy defense and star quarterback Tim Tebow, winner of last year’s Heisman Trophy, had a horrible day. Tebow was sacked 3 times for holding the ball too long, knocked down 4 receivers deep, lost a fumble that became an Ole Miss touchdown and failed to convert on a run attempt with a critical fourth down and 2 feet for the finish at the Ole Miss 32-yard line with 40 seconds left.
Florida won the first half 17-7 but lost the second half 24-13. It is a loss that coach Urban Meyer and his players will not soon forget, nor should they forget.
The No. 9 Wisconsin led by 19 and was ahead of Michigan unranked, but allowed the Wolverines to return to the game by giving up 20 points in the fourth quarter, allowing Michigan to enjoy its biggest home comeback in history and gave new coach Rich “I’m not hooked on West Virginia” Rodriguez his first win at Michigan, 27-25.
The No. 16 Wake Forest saw the unrated Navy 17 points at their home field and never came back while trailing 24-17.
No. 20 Clemson led unrated Maryland 17-6 at the half, but failed to score in the second half while trailing at home, 20-17. Here’s a news flash: Maryland is apparently much better than Clemson this year.
No. 23 East Carolina hosted the unranked Houston and bit the dust, 41-24. East Carolina’s early-season wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia look less impressive each week.
The other 3 classified teams that lost at least lost to qualified opponents. No. 3 Georgia hosted No. 8 Alabama and was dominated by Crimson Tide 41-30 in a game that wasn’t as close as their score. No. 22 Illinois traveled to No. 12 Penn State and made the Nittany Lions look good in Happy Valley when the Illini fell, 38-24. No. 24 Texas Christian (TCU) traveled to No. 2 Oklahoma and found out why he doesn’t want to play the Sooners at home, losing 35-10.
The Georgia Bulldogs just took a beating, and at home no less. Georgia ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll and will now plummet in the rankings. Illinois, Clemson and East Carolina should all be kicked out of the Top 25 this week.
Seven other qualified teams won, some impressively, some not. They included:
No. 5 LSU at home 34-24 over 1-4 Mississippi State (not impressive), No. 7 Texas at home 52-10 over Arkansas (impressive), No. 13 South Florida on Highway 41-10 over North Carolina State (impressive), No. 14 Ohio State at home 34-21 over Minnesota (Gophers came undefeated), No. 15 Auburn at home 14-12 over Tennessee (seriously, not impressive), No. 17 Utah at home 37- 21 over 1-AA Weber State (beating a 1-AA team isn’t impressive), and No. 25 Fresno State on Hwy 36-31 over UCLA (hardly impressive, given the current state of UCLA football).
Other game results that struck a chord with me were:
Seeing the recent great Hawaii Warrior tradition of winning games is now going through tough times. Hawaii dusted off 1-AA Weber, but lost to Florida, Oregon State and San Jose State to open the season. June Jones, who built a 75-41 record in 9 seasons in Hawaii, ran the show to take over the head coaching job at Southern Methodist University this year.
Michigan State is now 4-1 after beating Indiana 42-29 on the road, but can the Spartans continue to win against Iowa and Northwestern and host Ohio State with a 6-1 start? Has coach Mark Dantonio been able to build a different mindset at Michigan State, or will the Spartans double down once more when they play better competition?
Question: When was the last time the Tennessee Volunteers started a season 1-3? Answer: 14 years ago.
How bad could North Texas be? Rice is rarely or never good, and the Owls defeated their North Texas state rival 77-20. That was also the score at the end of the third quarter. North Texas must be really bad. North Texas has played the fifth toughest schedule in the country so far, but Jeff Sagarin also has them ranked 152 out of 119 1-A teams.
Washington’s two main institutions, Washington and Washington State, are terrible this year. Washington has lost its first 4 games, and Huskies star quarterback Jake Locker broke the thumb on his throwing hand when he lost to Stanford on Saturday, 35-28. Things are not going well in Husky land. Fourth-year coach Ty Willingham could move out soon.
Things are even worse in Washington state. The Cougars are 0-5, having lost 39-13, 66-3, 45-17, 48-9 and 63-14. Freshman coach Paul Wulff will receive a temporary pass, but it’s possible that when Washington state hosts its state rival Washington on Nov. 22, the Cougars could be 0-11 and the Huskies 0-10. .
Texas-El Paso (UTEP) coach Mike Price finally scored his first win this season by hosting and defeating the University of Central Florida, 58-13. Both teams are now 1-3.
The beauty of college football is the unexpected, the excitement of thousands of fans arriving on the field after their Oregon State Beavers defeated the No. 1 Southern Cal ranking, the inexorable attrition of undefeated teams facing each other during the game of conferences and unknown players who advertise themselves as the stars of tomorrow in today’s games.
Welcome to the sixth week of college football, when Wisconsin hosts Ohio State, South Florida hosts Pittsburgh, Auburn travels to Vanderbilt, Utah hosts Oregon State, Michigan State hosts Iowa, Southern Cal hosts Oregon, and Missouri travels to Nebraska.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley