College football Week 8 was a chaotic one and it reshaped the national landscape. The damage in the SEC, at least to everyone except Alabama was so thorough it required a separate post on Black Saturday in the nation’s best conference. There were several other big games to look at though. Florida State made a statement–actually about three or four statements–Central Florida pulled an upset and Stanford kept on track for a major bowl. Here’s a look at those, and a few other notable games….
Florida State 51 Clemson 14: Even for those who picked Florida State to win this game (a group that did not include me), the size and scope of this rout had to be shocking. Let’s consider this stat–the Seminoles committed twelve penalties. In other words, FSU didn’t even play a particularly clean game and still won a road blowout where Clemson scored a touchdown with 13 seconds left.
The running games were relatively even, but Florida State’s freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was 22/34 for 444 yards. His receiving targets were Nick O’Leary and Rashad Greene, as they gobbled huge chunks of yardage in the air wars. Tajh Boyd, a Heisman dark horse when the season began and perhaps even so last night, is now definitely second-team All-ACC. Boyd ended up 17/37 for 156 yards and two interceptions. It was a rare combination of low percentage, low yards per completion and mistakes. A Triple Crown of ineptitude in the Clemson passing game.
Florida State now has a clear path to the December 7 ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. The Seminoles have a loss to give in that race, and if they don’t give it, and go on to take the conference title, FSU is in position to play for the BCS National Championship on January 7 in Pasadena.
Central Florida 38 Louisville 35: This one was a shock to the country, as Louisville was a (-14) favorite at home. Since I’ve come clean about picking Clemson, I think it’s fair for me to say that I was, at the very least, all over UCF as a pointspread cover and felt the game would come down to the wire. The game was, as the score indicates, evenly played. A wild third quarter saw Louisville break to a 28-7 lead, and then Central Florida tie the game back up by the time the fourth quarter began.
Turnovers were the difference–Louisville lost two fumbles, while UCF only turned it over once. I know we like to blame and credit quarterbacks for everything, but don’t pin this Cardinal loss on Teddy Bridgewater–against a good defense, he was 29/38 for 341 yards and didn’t make any mistakes. He left his defense with a 35-31 lead late in the game on their homefield and that has to be enough. Unfortunately for Louisville, it was not.
Stanford 24 UCLA 10: As expected, these two teams played a tough, physical game and no one found the end zone until the third quarter. And as expected, the fact UCLA didn’t have running back Jordan James held them back. The Bruins couldn’t run the ball, and the tough Stanford defense caused Brett Hundley problems in the passing game all day.
Stanford did have Tyler Gaffney in the backfield and he rushed for 171 yards to give Stanford the edge.
Those three games were the really significant ones, beyond the SEC’s drama. Four others are worth a mention…
Oregon 62 Washington State 38: No, it wasn’t closer than it sounded or anything like that. Oregon actually led 55-24 at one point. But Washington State Connor Halliday threw 89 passes. It got the point that Oregon’s defensive coordinator ripped WSU head coach Mike Leach after the game for throwing after the game was decided. I thought that was bizarre–as far as I’m concerned, the trailing team can throw as often as they want, so long as they don’t gripe if the team leading keeps the pressure on.
It seems fair to say that if Mike Leach were a baseball manager, he would not believe in pitch counts. Halliday only finished 21 throws behind Detroit Tigers’ starter Max Scherzer, who was pulled early from his team’s elimination loss at Fenway Park.
Miami 27 North Carolina 23: Miami got 137 yards rushing from Dallas Crawford, the last three of which scored the game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds left. Stephen Morris threw four interceptions and had North Carolina poised for the upset.
I cite this game, because at the beginning of the season I felt that while Miami was the favorite in the Atlantic Division of the ACC, I would not pick them, because eventually they would cough up a game, or even two, that they shouldn’t. This one nearly became the first, and I’m convinced it won’t be the last.
Miami is undefeated, but this game underscores their consistency issues, that September win over Florida looks a lot less impressive in the rearview mirror and even if you do believe in the Hurricanes, the schedule still has Florida State and Virginia Tech ahead.
Arizona State 53 Washington 24: When you rush for (-5) yards, while allowing your opponent to pile up 314 on the ground, winning will be that easy. Arizona State simply destroyed Washington in the trenches, with Marion Grice going for 158 yards.
Washington made this trip to Tempe after consecutive losses to Stanford and Oregon. It was a bad schedule spot and after an early touchdown, the Huskies just fell apart. I’m willing to write it off to fatigue, but beware–Northwestern went through a similar problem, when they were blown out at Wisconsin one week after losing to Ohio State. NU still hasn’t recovered, losing again to Minnesota. Washington has to make sure they stop the bleeding immediately.
The win keeps Arizona State very much in the mix in the Pac-12 South, as they race with UCLA.
Baylor 71 Iowa State 7: Baylor still hasn’t beaten anyone good, but dropping 70-plus points twice in conference play surely deserves our attention. The Bears did it to West Virginia a couple weeks ago, and now to the hapless Cyclones. Whether it’s Bryce Petty passing or Lache Seastrunk running, Baylor can churn out the points. They’re 7th in the newly released BCS rankings, but it will be November before we really find out how good they are.
Texas Tech 37 West Virginia 27: This win on its face is not impressive, as WVA is not that good. But the trip to Morgantown is one that tripped up Oklahoma State and caused Oklahoma problems, so the fact Texas Tech was able to come from behind with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and stay unbeaten is worth a mention. Like Baylor though, the Red Raiders have yet to play Oklahoma, Texas or Oklahoma State.
TheSportsNotebook’s college football coverage will have updated BCS bowl projections coming in light of the newly released rankings. They will post later on Monday evening.