Upsets Abound in College Football
By Big Al McMordie
Theres a reason they play the games, of course: You never know! That was certainly evident after this past weekends slate of wild games and crazy upsets. Dogs provide great value, of course, as the dog you back can still lose the game but cash a winning ticket if they cover. This past weekend the dogs were in full force in both the colleges.
Florida got it’s much anticipated win over Tennessee, a game that saw a weeks worth of venom fired forth from players and coaches on both sides. It had been going on all year, too. The day after national signing day, new Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin falsely accused Urban Meyer of a recruiting violation. Kiffin told fans Meyer violated rules by phoning prospect Nu’Keese Richardson while he was on an official visit at Tennessee. The NCAA and SEC said it’s not a violation. SEC commissioner Mike Slive reprimanded Kiffin, who then issued an apology.
The Gators didn’t forget. “I thought he was a nice guy,” guard James Wilson said last week. “But I don’t know what he was thinking when he said all that. It kind of hit a nerve.”
But it wasnt the blowout everyone anticipated (oddsmakers had Florida a 4-TD favorite). You have to go back to 2001 to find Florida an 18-point favorite in this rivalry series. Not only did the Gators fail to cover, the Vols won that game, 34-32. They didnt pull the upset Saturday, but it was close much of the way, thanks to a defensive game plan by new Tennessee DC Monte Kiffin.
No. 1 Florida couldn’t put the game out of reach until the final two minutes when safety Ahmad Black intercepted a desperate Jonathan Crompton pass on 4th-and-6. The longest pass play for Florida was 18 yards. The Gators didn’t attempt a passing play longer than 30 yards all game after Tennessee forced the Gators to beat them underneath with the run.
“I’m proud of how we played,” said Lane Kiffin, “very tough, very physical and very smart. UT defensive end Chris Walker said, “I think a lot of people saw Tennessee for what they really are.” Which is, what? An SEC team with a lousy offense for the second year in a row? “I didn’t come down here to cover the spread or have a moral victory,” added Lane Kiffin. Regardless, Florida is on an 8-1 SU/5-3 ATS run in The Swamp, where Urban Meyer is 30-3 SU, 19-11 ATS.
The real upset took place out West, as Washington pulled a 16-13 shocker over USC. The Trojans had a huge edge in rushing yards, 250-56, and an edge in total yards. Yet 3 turnovers and missed opportunities did them in, just like two years ago when they lost to Stanford as a 41-point favorite (the biggest upset ever). The Trojans lost to a 21-point underdog after leading by 10 points after two possessions.
“Washington wasn’t the better team. They just outplayed us,” said a shrugging Joe McKnight. OK. It was even more remarkable when you realize Washington just ended a 15-game skid last week. Last year the Husky defense ranked as the worst in school history.
QB Jake Locker is a pretty good talent behind center and he missed most of last season. Plus there were also a couple of personnel changes as true freshman Talia Crichton started at defensive end, and Everrette Thompson came in during the third drive at defensive tackle. Both are among UW’s faster players on the defensive line. Thompson had been a defensive end until moving to tackle last week.
Washington held USC to 139 yards rushing the final three quarters, limiting the run enough to force first-time starting quarterback Aaron Corp to have to make plays with his arm. He struggled to do that, however, hitting just 13 of 22 passes for 110 yards and throwing a critical interception in the third quarter. USC racked up nearly as many penalty yards (75) as passing yards (110), with three times as many turnovers as touchdowns, and an amazing zero third-down conversions in 10 attempts!
No. 7 BYU already had a win over Oklahoma, 14-13, under its belts and was shooting higher. But a roller-coaster Florida State team came to town and won Saturday. The same Florida State that needed to rally in the final minute a week ago in a 19-9 win over Jacksonville State, crushed a strong BYU team, 54-28!
They were sitting on top of the world Top 10, Bobby Bowden said. And we werent ranked. I thought we could slip in on them. He was right. After dominating the Oklahoma run defense, the Seminoles ended up with 313 yards of rushing. Go figure again. Its why they play the games!
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