In what was one of the most thrilling, stunning, and exciting weekends of college football in quite some time–college football fans nationwide were treated to a wide variety of games on Week 9 of the college football season.
It's weekends like this one that make me love being a die-hard college football fan. You have to appreciate moments like last night because moments like that don't come around very often.
Let's get down to it–shall we!
Georgia Tech stuns fifth ranked Clemson
On Halloween weekend it was only fitting that fans got to see plenty of treats once the 8 p.m. games came on. In what was the biggest upset of the weekend–we saw a talented Georgia Tech team have a revival of sorts and dash Clemson's dreams of an undefeated season. Georgia Tech jumped out to an early 21-3 advantage and never looked back as they won 31-17. Clemson could find no answer for quarterback Tevin Washington and their triple option attack. Washington gashed the Clemson defense for the most rushing yards by a QB in school history–176–in leading the Jackets to the upset win. The Yellow Jackets rolled up 383 rushing yards on a Clemson defense that looked lost all night long. Clemson also had four turnovers on offense which didn't help matters. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw two costly interceptions–including one early in the end zone to Georgia Tech's Jemea Thomas. It happened with 9:04 left in the fourth quarter, with Clemson trying to mount another late comeback. The Tigers had no such luck this time around. Clemson clearly missed starting running back Andre Ellington–who was out with an ankle injury. His replacements were freshmen D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy–each players coughed up costly fumbles. Clemson still controls their destiny for the ACC Championship–so time will tell if the talented but youthful Tigers team can rebound.
Ohio State shocks 15th ranked Wisconsin
Wisconsin fans must be shaking their heads for the second straight week as their team was once again stunned by a deep pass within the closing seconds of the game.
In what was the most spectacular finish of the weekend–Ohio State needed some late game heroics from freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to shock the 15th ranked Badgers in the Horseshoe 33-29. After the Badgers scored with 1:19 left in the game to go up 29-26, the Buckeyes had one last chance. They moved the football across the 50 and it looked like they were just trying to get in field goal position for a game tying field goal. Then Braxton Miller rolled toward the right sideline and unleashed a beautifully lofted pass from the 40 yard line. The ball sailed through the Columbus night sky and eventually landed in the awaiting arms of a wide open Devin Smith. He was waiting in the the end zone, where not a single Wisconsin defender was to be found. The score put the Buckeyes up 33-29 with 20 seconds left. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson threw two late passes that could have been huge completions for the Badgers but they were dropped by his receivers. Ohio State and their stout run defense held Wisconsin to a season low 89 rushing yards.The Buckeyes controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the night on both sides of the ball. They also gashed the Wisconsin defense for 268 rushing yards on the ground. The race for the Big Ten title is completely up for grabs now.
Stanford survives USC in 3OT
In yet another thrilling finish, Stanford forced a fumble by USC running back Curtis McNeal in the third overtime to escape from USC in the Coliseum–56-48. Andrew Luck made one of his biggest mistakes of the season late in this one–throwing a pick six to Nickell Robey which put USC up 34-27 with 3:08 remaining in regulation. Luck was able to drive his team back down the field and Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor scored a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the game to tie the contest at 34 apiece. Taylor also had what proved to be the game-winning touchdown run in the third overtime–a five yard TD run to put the Cardinal up 56-48. USC quarterback Matt Barkley continued to show why the Trojans' passing attack is one of the best in college football. He connected early and often with Robert Woods and Marquise Lee–two of the best receivers in the country. Lee and Woods combined for 16 catches for over 180 yards and two touchdowns on the night. USC couldn't have stayed in this one without the dazzling play of running back Curtis McNeal–who rushed 20 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Andrew Luck has already been handed the Heisman Trophy by many people and he completed 29 of his 40 pass attempts for 330 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Other games of note–
Oklahoma State throttles Baylor 59-24
The third-ranked Cowboys continued their quest for the BCS National Championship game as they took Baylor to the woodshed 59-24. The Bears' defense has been atrocious all season long and yesterday was no different. OSU running back Joseph Randle went wild on them–he had 14 carries for 152 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon didn't have a bad day at the office either–hauling in 13 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden also completed 24 of his 36 attempts for 274 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Baylor's offense didn't help its cause by turning the football over five times (three fumbles, two interceptions.) Even though he threw for over 420 yards and a touchdown–Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III's two interceptions may have taken him out of the Heisman race. Oklahoma State's defense has surrendered plenty of yards and points this season but I still say they are underrated simply because they force so many turnovers. The Cowboys are one of the few unbeaten teams in college football and their matchup with Oklahoma in Stillwater is still shaping up to be a clash of epic proportions.
Oklahoma pulls away in second half to cruise past K-State 58-17
You've gotta give Kansas State for hanging in this one for a half but you just knew that Bob Stoops wasn't going to drop two games in a row. This Oklahoma team is far too talented for that. Kansas State got two rushing touchdowns in the first half from quarterback Colin Kleinn and were only trailing 17-14 at the half. The Wildcats defense could find no answer for OU quarterback Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles, and the well-oiled Sooner aerial assault. Jones completed 35 of his 47 attempts for a school record 505 passing yards and five touchdowns as the Sooners went on to a blowout victory in Manhattan–58-17. Broyles hauled in 14 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown–showing why he's one of the best in college football at his position. Wide receiver Jaz Reynolds made a couple of spectacular one handed grabs and really has been playing well the past few weeks for the Sooners. He hauled in two touchdown catches. The Sooners' offense will miss running back Dominique Whaley for the rest of the season–he left the game with a season ending leg injury. The Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game is still shaping up to be a de-facto national seminfinal to determine who gets in the BCS National Championship game. The key question is…does an undefeated Boise State team get in the championship game over a one-loss Oklahoma team? That will be a hotly debated item if we get to that point.
Other scores to note–
Georgia 24 Florida 20
Nebraska 24 Michigan State 3
Oregon 43 Washington State 28
Arkansas 31 Vanderbilt 28
Missouri 38 Texas A&M 31
Virginia Tech 14 Duke 10
Iowa State 41 Texas Tech 7
PRIME TIME PERFORMERS
San Diego State RB Ronnie Hillman — Hillman is the best running back in America that nobody knows about and he proved it again on Saturday. The sophomore tailback shredded the Wyoming defense for over 300 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns in San Diego State's 30-27 loss to Wyoming. He had 25 carries for 224 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while hauling in two catches for 81 yards and a touchdown through the air. San Diego State might be having a disappointing year but don't point the blame at Hillman–who's quickly established himself as one of the premiere running backs in all of college football.
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones — Landry Jones has shown that when he has a clean pocket, he's as unstoppable as any other quarterback in America. Kansas State's defense didn't get any kind of pressure on him all afternoon and he made them pay dearly for it–completing 35 of his 47 attempts for a school record 507 passing yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead — Burkhead has been a huge reason why Nebraska has started to do so well during the past couple of weeks. He continued his stellar play on Saturday–shredding a normally stout Michigan State run defense for 157 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in Nebraska's 24-3 throttling of Michigan State.
Washington RB Chris Polk — Polk shredded a generous Arizona defense to the tune of 244 all-purpose yards (144 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards) and five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) as Washington outscored Arizona 42-31.
Iowa RB Marcus Coker — Coker gashed Minnesota for 252 rushing yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns but Iowa STILL lost to Minnesota 22-21.
Boston College RB Rolandain Finch — Starting running back Montel Harris has been out for the season due to injury but Finch stepped up in his place Saturday–rushing for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries in BC's 28-17 win over Maryland.
Pittsburgh QB Tino Sunseri — Sunseri has consistently been one of the nation's most interception-prone quarterbacks, so I have no idea how to explain what happened to him on Wednesday night. He must have been in what we call a "flow state." Google it. The guy was in a zone and it was the best I've ever seen him play. He completed 29 of his 42 pass attempts for 419 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in leading his team to a 35-20 win over UConn. He even had 12 carries for 40 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. The guy was spinning his way around defenders in the open field. I was speechless. Kudos to Sunseri. I'm still one of his harshest critics.
That's it for this week, folks. Until next week!
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS