Wild Weekends: Rivalries, Big Games, and a Surprise Twist

By Phil Clark

As the season progresses and the stakes get higher week to week, there is no shortage of things out there to surprise you. This past weekend offered a platter of different kinds of games, whether they were blowouts, nail-biters, rivalry games, controversial games, or upsets.

Right away, the LSU Tigers put themselves firmly back into the national championship argument by stopping the momentum of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the form of handing them their first loss of the season. The Tigers also have one loss, but this win was certainly a big one for them.

The Tigers were reeling from their loss last week to the Florida Gators, but the second half performance they put up against the ‘ol ball coach erased those memories quickly. Both made the top ten of the first BCS rankings, as they should have. But now the Gamecocks are fighting uphill with the Gators on the horizon. Man does that game feel big.

The Red River Shootout between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns is one of my favorite rivalries in all of college football. And that is even more the case in this rivalry over the past decade, which has seen a shift in favor of the Sooners.

Apologies to Kris Hughes, but I cheer for the Sooners in this rivalry without hesitation or apology, and this past Saturday’s game between the two made for a very fun viewing experience. From Landry Jones‘ future replacement running the ball in four times from inside the Longhorn 10 to the 95-yard TD run by Damien Williams to the 70 plus-yard reception by Trey Millard that saw the referee trying to keep up with the play accidentally run into Case McCoy, younger brother to former Longhorns’ quarterback Colt McCoy, it was an all around rough day for the Longhorns.

Another team that suffered a rough day and a loss this past Saturday was the Stanford Cardinal. Up until the very last play, their game on the road against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had proceeded in a way that not only complimented both team’s great defenses, but was fitting considering both of these teams are running more on defense than offense. The pouring rain in South Bend only helped to create the image of a good old hard hitting football game with little scoring and both defenses hunkered down for the long haul. At the end of regulation it stood at 13-13, and that’s when the Cardinal defense folded.

The Fighting Irish had no trouble getting into the end-zone on their overtime possession, but the Cardinal did. Stepfan Taylor tried to go right up the middle from the Irish 1 yard-line on third and goal, but couldn’t break through. He tried again on fourth and goal, couldn’t break through, but was able to twist his body and make a dive over a couple of bodies toward the end-zone.

To my satisfaction, Taylor got the ball to break the plain of the end-zone, should have been awarded a touchdown, and the game should have continued into a second overtime. Initially the refs called it a stop at the one, and even after replay review the call was upheld and the Irish got away with a close win to stay undefeated. I don’t want to be one of those people, but in this case I think I have to be in noting that if the game had been in Palo Alto and the roles reversed, the Irish probably get that call on the road.

I’ve been waiting this season to see the moment when the West Virginia Mountaineers would show themselves to be what they truly are: a very entertaining team that is horribly one-dimensional. This past Saturday, with the help of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, I got that moment with the Moutaineers falling flat on their faces on the road by 35. But who would have though the Red Raiders would provide it? They were coming into this game after being beaten up by the Sooners and in no way appeared like a team that was going to stop the Mountaineers’ powerful offense.

If anything, most believed it would be the Kansas St. Wildcats or the Sooners that would bring the Mountaineers back down to Earth. Instead it was a team from Lubbock, Texas that played tremendous defense when it counted as Geno Smith did throw for nearly 300 yards, two touchdowns, and didn’t throw an interception. So that meant that the Red Raiders made the big plays that kept the Mountaineers’ offense in check, and this gave the Mountaineers’ defense the opportunity to show how painfully bad they are without Smith’s great work giving them the support to hide it.

As for the first BCS standings: not many surprises. There was another week full of close calls with top teams, but the list almost mirrors the two major polls completely. The main difference was the Gators and Oregon Ducks switching spots in the BCS from what they are in the other two major polls. I do believe that the Gators jumping the Ducks to get the #2 spot is okay because of their win against the Tigers. The Ducks have played fantastic so far, but that win was the marquee kind of win for the Gators that makes them deserving of the jump.

And how about the story of the Oregon St. Beavers this year, huh? I thought initially that their win against the Wisconsin Badgers would be the highlight of their year. I was so wrong. The Beavers are still undefeated and have made the top ten for the first time a long while. This is a very interesting story being written, but whether or not it can reach a storybook conclusion remains to be seen.

This week I’d like to finish by acknowledging the death of Beano Cook. Cook’s appearances on College Gameday were part of my Gameday experience as a child. Back then, I would make sure to wake up early enough to see the whole broadcast. That is something I don’t do that much these days, but Cook was more common on the show back in those days anyway. His face, voice, and knowledge were fairly important to my development as a college football fan. Part of it was because of what time in my life he was appearing on my T.V. More was not only what he had to say, but how he said. For all college football fans, I would like to say thanks for everything Beano, and goodbye.

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