Six AP Top 25 teams can attest to how painful road games are: They were all upset during week 13 of college football play, and 2 of the 6 will meet in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game this week.
The six teams with targets on their backs included Georgia Tech in 7th place, Clemson in 15th place, Pittsburgh in 8th place, Oklahoma State in 11th place, Mississippi in 20th place and North Carolina in 23rd place. All , except Pittsburgh, were not only on the road, but also faced a rival in the state.
Georgia (7-5) beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-2), 30-24, as the Bulldogs’ Washaun Ealey rushed 20 times for 183 yards (9.15 yards per carry) and Caleb King rushed 18 times for 166 yards (9.22 ypc)-349 yards between them. Ealey and King sound like a comedy team, but the Georgia Tech players were too busy drinking Louisiana pond water to laugh.
Georgia and coach Mark Richt have taken their packs this year with losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky, but few can match Richt’s 9-year record against in-state rival Georgia Tech. Richt has a record of 8-1 against his main rival, a fact that could save his job since his 5 losses this year are the most he has had in any year in Georgia.
South Carolina (7-5) stunned the Clemson Tigers (8-4), 34-17, when the Gamecocks’ Stephen Garcia threw 3 touchdown passes. Clemson started well when CJ Spiller opened the game with an 88-yard kickoff return for a TD, his seventh career NCAA record, but that was all the Tigers could bring to the table.
South Carolina’s 24th-ranked scoring defense held Clemson’s 24th-ranked scoring offense in control defense again outscoring the offense in a close matchup.
The surprise losses of Georgia Tech and Clemson put a real damper on the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game that both will play this Saturday; the winner will covet a place in a BCS game and win a big payday.
West Virginia (8-3) handed Pittsburgh (9-2) their second loss of the season, 19-16, when Mountaineer redshirt freshman Tyler Bitancurt ended the annual Backyard Brawl by kicking successfully hit a 43-yard field goal when time expired. It was Bitancurt’s fourth field goal of the night, so he personally accounted for 63% of West Virginia’s 19 points. West Virginia’s defense stood tall, keeping the Panthers out of the end zone on 5 Pittsburgh drives inside the Mountaineers 30-yard line.
Oklahoma (7-5) took a break from its offseason to remind Oklahoma State (9-3) who really rules the Big 12 in Oklahoma by shutting out the Cowboys, 27-0. The Sooners’ DeMarco Murray had two touchdowns and Ryan Broyles returned an 88-yard punt for another touchdown. The loss was hard for Oklahoma State to swallow as the Cowboys were looking for their first BCS Bowl appearance.
Mississippi State (now 5-7) not only upset Mississippi (8-4), but thrashed Ole Miss, 41-27, in an upset. A backup quarterback, Chris Relf, scored 3 touchdowns and Anthony Dixon rushed for 133 yards and another TD as the Mississippi Rebels looked on in disbelief. Known as the annual Egg Bowl, Mississippi surely put one on.
Mississippi State’s 41 points were the most by the Bulldogs in the 106-year series since a 41-14 win in 1917, and the most Ole Miss has given up this season.
North Carolina State (5-7) stunned North Carolina (8-4), 28-27, when the Wolfpack’s Russell Wilson connected with Owen Spencer on a 38-yard TD pass two plays into the 4th quarter. Wilson threw 4 TD passes in the game and Alan-Michael Cash blocked a field goal attempt with about 5 minutes remaining to seal the Tar Heels’ comeback attempt. The win was the Wolfpack’s third in a row against state rival North Carolina Tar Heels.
Four other Top 25 teams didn’t miss a beat beating their in-state rivals in road games.
No. 2-ranked Alabama (12-0) remained undefeated as it slipped past Auburn (7-5), 26-21. Texas (12-0), ranked No. 3, remained undefeated by beating Texas A&M (6-6), 49-39. Virginia Tech (9-3), number 14 in the ranking, defeated Virginia (3-9), 42-13; and Miami Florida (9-3), number 19 in the ranking, beat South Florida (7-4), 31-10.
Eight other Top 25 teams won home games, and 4 of the 8 also won against in-state rivals: Florida, Brigham Young, Southern California and Houston.
Florida (12-0), No. 1 in the ranking, remained undefeated by defeating Florida State (6-6), 37-10, while the Gators’ Tim Tebow threw for 3 touchdowns and rushed for 2 more. Wins by undefeated Florida and Alabama set up a clash for the SEC title game this Saturday, with the winner earning the right to play in the final game of the season finale for the National Championship.
Brigham Young (10-2), ranked No. 18, defeated No. 22-ranked Utah (now 9-3), 26-23, when senior quarterback Max Hall found Andrew George with a pass from 25-yard touchdown in overtime. The Cougars’ victory was their third in 4 years over the smug Utah Utes, who intercepted Hall 5 times last year in a 48-24 blowout at their home field.
Max Hall sought revenge and redemption, creating enough buzz after BYU’s win to fill a bulletin board in Utah’s Salt Lake City locker room. Here’s Mad Max in the Utah Utes:
“I don’t like Utah. I actually hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their show, their fans. I hate everything. It felt really good to send those guys home. I think the whole university and their fans and the organization they don’t have classes. They threw beer at my family and stuff last year and did a bunch of nasty stuff. I don’t respect them and they deserved to lose.”
Well, thanks, Max, for letting us know how you feel.
Southern Cal (8-3), number 24 in the ranking, defeated UCLA (6-6), 28-7; and Houston (10-2), No. 25 in the world, just decimated Rice (2-10), 73-14, when Case Kellum passed for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for another touchdown. The Houston Cougars have the highest scoring offense in the nation, amassing an average of 45 points per game.
No. 4-ranked Texas Christian (12-0) remained undefeated at home by defeating New Mexico (1-11), 51-10, while Andy Dalton matched a career-high 4 TD assists, two of them for Antoine Hicks in a span of 12 seconds. The victory concluded TCU’s first undefeated regular season in 71 years, that’s a long time between rain showers in the dusty Texas desert.
No. 5-ranked Cincinnati (11-0) remained undefeated by beating a truly lousy Illinois team 3-8, 49-36. The win was a sad statement for the Bearcats. Cincinnati has the 19th-best scoring defense in the nation, but apparently the Bearcats had too many studs going into this game.
Boise State (12-0), ranked No. 6, remained undefeated in an offensive display by outscoring Nevada (8-4), 44-33, as Kellen Moore tied his career-high 5 touchdown passes. race. Nevada was a worthy opponent as the Wolf Pack averaged 52 points per game and won 8 in a row. Boise State ranks second nationally in offensive scoring and Navada is fifth.
LSU (9-3), ranked No. 17, was busy beating Arkansas (7-5), 33-30, when Tiger Josh Jasper made a 41-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining to force overtime. , and then made a 36-yard shot to score the win.
Two more unranked teams became bowl eligible. Wyoming (6-6) just edged out Colorado State (3-9), 17-16, and Connecticut (6-6) easily beat Syracuse (4-8), 56-31.
There were two candidates for the defenseless game of the week. Stanford (8-4) outscored Notre Dame (6-6), 45-38. Stanford ranks 65th nationally in scoring defense and Notre Dame is 64th. Utah State (4-8) upsets Idaho (7-5), 52-49. Utah State ranks 107th nationally in scoring defense and Idaho 111th.
There is no telling how many more games the Idaho Vandals would have won with a decent defense, their offense had no trouble scoring points as they ranked 23rd in scoring offense.
Central Michigan (10-2) won its 10th game of the season by beating Northern Illinois (7-5), 45-31. Ohio (9-3) handed Temple (9-3) their first loss after 9 straight wins, beating the Owls 35-17.
In the abbreviation game of the week, UCF (8-4) beat UAB (5-7) by touchdown, 34-27. It reminded me of George Carlin’s old comic routine where, as a sportscaster, he said, “And now some scores… 5-2, 6-5, 7-3, 2-1 and in a shutout, 1-0. “If you’re wondering, that was the University of Central Florida over the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Southern Methodist (7-5) continues to improve with a 26-21 win against Tulane (3-9). SMU led 20-14 after 3 quarters and then did what many teams can’t do: wrap up the win without blowing it.
Navy (now 8-4) traveled to Hawaii (6-6) and quickly made the Warriors bowl eligible by losing, 24-17. There is an unconfirmed rumor that the Warriors’ Samoan section, after a 17-17 draw at halftime, ate more coconuts during halftime, thus refueling to keep the Midshipmen scoreless in the second half.
One more game is worth noting. Washington (4-7) shuts out in-state rival Washington State (1-11), 30-0, in the Apple Cup. The Huskies began the season losing 8 points to 11th-place LSU, then beat Idaho, beat to Southern California in 3rd place, lost road games to Stanford and Notre Dame, defeated Arizona, and then suffered 4 more losses before blanking the Washington State Cougars. .
The game was significant for several reasons:
1) It was Washington’s first shutout of Washington state in 45 years; the last one came during a 14-0 victory in 1964.
2) The Husky’s defensive shutout was the first since a 27-0 win over Southern California in 1997, a span of 143 games.
3) Freshman Chris Polk rushed for 130 yards, pushing his season rushing total to 1,019, breaking quarterback Jake Locker’s freshman record of 986 rushing yards, making Polk the first freshman in the school history of topping 1,000 yards, and marking the fourth straight game Polk has topped 100 rushing yards. And, yes, the Huskies are very excited about their first-year running back.
4) Washington State’s 11 losses this season are the most in Cougar history.
5) Washington State’s 22 losses in two seasons are the most in Pac-10 history. The Cougars went 2-11 last season.
Six Top 25 teams were inactive this week: Ohio State (10-2) in ninth place, Oregon (9-2) in 10th place, Penn State in 12th place (10-2), Iowa in 13th place ( 10-2), 16th-ranked Oregon State (8-3), and 21st-ranked California (8-3). Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa have completed their season play.
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley