With five undefeated teams losing last Saturday, there are just five unbeatens remaining (I say five instead of six because this website does not concern itself with teams ineligible for the postseason). Alabama, Kansas State, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Oregon notched impressive victories last week, but it’s worth looking at the teams who fell for the first time and how they lost. Which fan base do you think was most frustrated at the end of the day? Here are my best guesses, from extremely distraught to highly upset.
1. Florida lost to Georgia 17-9
The stakes: Oh, just a stranglehold on the SEC East and another bullet point on its national title résumé.
The mistakes: Florida had turned it over five times and hadn’t scored a touchdown, but wide receiver Jordan Reed looked like he was heading into the end zone to put the Gators within a two-point conversion of tying the game. Instead, Reed fumbled; it was Florida’s fourth lost fumble of the game and sixth turnover. The Gators ceded control of the SEC East to the Bulldogs.
2. Ohio lost to Miami (Ohio) 23-20
The stakes: Keeping the dream of a BCS bowl bid alive; sole possession of first place in the MAC East.
The mistakes: Ohio’s junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton thought his team had a timeout remaining after he ran out of bounds at the Miami 7-yard line with 9 seconds left. Bobcats head coach Frank Solich figured his team had time for one more pass play and, if need be, a field goal that would have sent the game to overtime. But Tettleton was sacked and time ran out. Ohio has already bounced back from the loss, beating lowly Eastern Michigan last night 45-14, but trails Kent State in its division.
3. Oregon State lost to Washington 20-17
The stakes: Keeping up with Oregon in the Pac-12 North.
The mistakes: Like Ohio, Oregon State didn’t handle its final drive very well either. Down three at Washington, Beaver quarterback Cody Vaz was sacked on third and 10 from the Washington 38-yard line with 32 seconds left. The Beavers were called for a delay of game penalty on the next play, turning a fourth and 14 into a fourth and 19 from the 47-yard line, which they didn’t convert. Perhaps the Beavers were distracted by thoughts of a post-game meal at In-N-Out Burger.
4. Rutgers lost to Kent State 35-23
The stakes: The continued hopes of an undefeated season. That’s about it, since this was not a conference game for Rutgers, which is still tied atop the Big East with Louisville.
The mistakes: The Scarlet Knights turned it over seven times, six of them on interceptions by sophomore quarterback Gary Nova.
5. Mississippi State lost to Alabama 38-7
The stakes: The Bulldogs were big underdogs for a reason. They are underdogs again this week against Texas A&M and will be next week at LSU as well. The stakes were high but winning was not expected.
The mistakes: I don’t know, being in the same division as Alabama?
Heisman hopeful heeds history
You have to go back to 1997 to find a Heisman winner who wasn’t a quarterback or running back. That was the same year Charles Woodson won the award, the only defensive player to ever win. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o should get serious consideration. Unlike Woodson, Te’o never lines up on offense and doesn’t return punts. But he added another interception, his fifth of the season, in an upset win over Oklahoma. He also has two fumble recoveries. These are far from the best stats to gauge a defender’s worth, but they will stick out to many voters. Te’o hadn’t touched the ball in his previous three years at Notre Dame.
On a related note, my dad and younger brother Steve went to Norman for the game and had a great time.* They said the Oklahoma fans were extremely welcoming. They also said the Sooner fans aren’t too pleased with quarterback Landry Jones’ play. Jones ranks 15th in passer rating and has had a great career (he threw for 356 yards on Saturday), but in the offense-rich Big 12 there always seems to be another quarterback (or two) outperforming him. His fan base may not love him, but at least he doesn’t play quarterback for Maryland…
It was Steve’s second time in Oklahoma. During his first visit, for my cousin’s wedding in December 2001, he was approached by two local youths while shooting hoops outside our hotel. When he told them he was from New York, they asked if it was near where the Twin Towers went down. “No, I live just outside the city, in a more suburban area,” Steve said. “Are you poor or something?” one of them asked. Steve told them he wasn’t. “Then why do you live in a dang Suburban?” It is hard for me to think of Oklahoma—even its college football teams—without thinking of this.
Don’t Put Me In, Coach: Saying Maryland has has had bad luck with quarterbacks is like saying the dinosaurs had bad luck with meteors. The Terps have lost four starting quarterbacks to injuries this season—three of which were ACL-related—and are starting a converted linebacker on Saturday. A converted tight end will back him up.
Trophies Are For People With Self-Esteem Issues: If Michigan beats Minnesota tomorrow (the Wolverines are double-digit favorites), both the Little Brown Jug and the Paul Bunyan trophy (which Michigan won for beating Michigan State) will reside in Ann Arbor. That statement has to sound absolutely ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t love college football.
Halloween Scares: On College GameDay last week, we learned that Nick Saban dresses as himself for Halloween (Saban’s birthday), which isn’t surprising at all. There was a scarier moment on the program, however, at least for radio listeners. I caught the final few minutes of the show on the radio last week and when it came time for Lee Corso to choose between Oklahoma and Notre Dame, all I heard was, “Uh oh! Oh no! Oh god!” and then multiple gunshots. If any listeners unfamiliar with Corso’s antics stumbled upon XM 84 on Saturday at noon, they were probably very concerned.
Quote of the Week: “If you can’t trust a kid on Twitter…can you trust them on third down?”
—Oregon coach Chip Kelly, talking about his school’s social media policy after being told other schools banned their athletes from Twitter
“Get Off My Lawn!” Observation of the Week: I don’t think I like when coaches lead their teams out of the tunnel at the start of the game. I know Les Miles, for example, does this, but I think the coaches should hang back and let the players soak up the cheers.
Upset Pick: I’m piping hot after last week’s win and am picking Michigan State over Nebraska. This might seem like wishful thinking—the Big Ten divisions have now encouraged Michigan fans to root for, at different points this season, Ohio State and Michigan State…UGH—but this game presents the best opportunity for an upset Saturday. (season record: 3-6)
Update, 7:11 p.m.: I forgot to include the beloved “Kahn Family Smiles” feature. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that I am perfect with these predictions this season. And so, the Week 10 Kahn Family Smiles: 🙂 🙂