Saturday saw several teams with high hopes show they weren’t quite ready for prime-time and none was more apparent than Texas A&M. The Aggies had already blown a lead the previous week against Oklahoma State and it seemed unthinkable the same would happen again when A&M jumped on top of Arkansas in their neutral-site game at Dallas. But somehow a 28-10 lead turned into a 42-38 loss. Texas A&M has a championship-level offense and a decent run defense, but horrid performance from the secondary has left them with two straight losses. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson rang up over 500 yards in passing in leading the Hogs from behind. A&M now has four winnable games in front of them—at Texas Tech, Baylor, at Iowa State and Missouri that they need to win and set the tone for a strong November that would begin at Oklahoma.
Other teams who have missed chances to step up to bigger and better things…
*Mississippi State lost at Georgia 24-10 and the Bulldogs have not been able to build off a strong 2010 campaign and high expectations for this year. The loss at Auburn could be excused because it was on the last play of the game. The loss to LSU was against one of the nation’s best teams. An overtime escape against Louisiana Tech? Surely just a sandwich spot after those two games and prior to Georgia. But after another impotent offensive performance, Mississippi State is looking more like a six-win bowl team than an SEC West contender.
*South Florida had a prime-time slot on ESPN last Thursday and an undefeated record as they went to Pitt. The Bulls were obliterated with a 24-0 run in the second half because they couldn’t stop the run. Panther running back Ray Graham went off for 226 yards. Skip Holtz’s team will have ten days to lick their wounds and get ready for a road trip to UConn on October 15.
*Temple had narrowly missed an upset at Penn State and then hammered Maryland in College Park, looking the part of a MAC favorite. They squared off with Toledo, who’d also impressed in non-conference games against Ohio State and Syracuse. It was Temple who wasn’t up to snuff, committing four turnovers in a 36-13 loss. On the positive side they weren’t overmatched at the line of scrimmage and have plenty of time to right the ship and reach the MAC Championship Game.
And perhaps no teams looked less ready for prime-time than the two nationally prominent teams who were hammered in prime-time. Nebraska’s 48-17 thrashing at Wisconsin can be principally attributed to Taylor Martinez throwing three interceptions. Every one them was converted into a touchdown and they all came when the game was competitive in the first half and shortly after intermission. But even Martinez cleans up the mistakes, Nebraska was still outclassed in both the running and passing games and only would have lost a more respectable game. Bo Pellini’s team can take comfort in the fact that they are on the opposite side of the new two-division Big Ten so they still control their own destiny and can aim for a potential rematch with the Badgers in December.
The other prime-time disappointment came from Florida who got out to an early 10-3 lead against Alabama, but ended up on the wrong side of a 38-10 final. Unlike Nebraska, the Gators were outclassed up front, surrendering 181 rush yards to ‘Bama’s Trent Richardson and generating no rush game themselves.