Oh-No Oh-You! College Football Week 3 Recap

So basically my picks for this mega Saturday of college football games didn’t really go so well for me. I suppose it could have been worse–I went 3 for 8 on the outrights, 2 losses of which I still covered the spread. Of course, I missed the spread on 2 of the outrights I picked correctly so it evens out. How do you miss 2 games by a half a point on the same Saturday? (LSU +3.5 and USC -18.5. Grrrr……)

But the worst part of Saturday wasn’t the narrow misses on the spreads, the Irish getting blasted at home or Miami’s no-show. It was watching Oklahoma having a huge road win ripped from their clutches by a complete defensive breakdown, not to mention two late controversial and, in my opinion, blatantly incorrect calls.

I’ve never been one to blame a referee or a call for a game, so I won’t do that here either. What baffles me to no extent though is this: What is the point of having all of these reviews and challenges if upon official review the correct call is still not made? Truthfully, I’d rather just have the offical make the incorrect call on the field and attribute the mistake to human error than have a few numbskulls in a replay booth review the play for endless minutes only to inexplicably uphold the call on the field.

For those of you that missed the game, unless you are an Oregon fan, it was pretty tough to watch, and regardless of the controversy, Oklahoma has itself to blame for letting the game even come to such a point where controversial officiating would become relevant. The Sooners led 33-20 with 1:10 to play in the game. Oregon converted a touchdown on a 35 yard run by QB Dennis Dixon. I had stopped paying attention to the game already as I was sure I had it in the bag, with bets on the money line and the spread that I argued earlier in the week to be absurd. Thanks a lot to Oklahoma for making me look like I have no idea what I am talking about…

The onside kick was obviously coming, so I began to panic mildly. I could see the unimaginable happening, but for some reason I trusted that the football gods had more sense than to allow such a thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The kick was perfect by onside standards, getting a lot of air off of the first bounce. It is without question that an Oregon player touched the ball first, and it certainly appeared to have been well before the necessary ten yards. After Oklahoma failed to control the bounces that followed, Oregon came up with it. Of course, after reviewing the play for what seemed like an eternity, the officials determined either that Oregon did not touch the ball too soon or that there was not enough evidence to overturn the call. I certainly hope that the latter was the case. However, no difference, Oregon received the football at midfield with about 45 seconds to play and Sooner fans looking for holes to hide their heads in.

I noticed two trends during yesterday’s games, the first of which was a positive one and the other of which was anything but. The first was that when a bad or “questionable” call was made that greatly affected the outcome of an important game, the next play often resulted in some sort of a make-up call to even the playing field a bit. The second was that any time the secondary was anywhere near a receiver, the zebras threw pass interference flags. On the first play from scrimmage, Dixon stepped back to throw and had his pass partially deflected at the line of scrimmage. The Oklahoma secondary then essentially tackled his intended receiver, completely within the rules since the ball had been touched. Of course, the officials, who had been flag happy all day across the country, called pass interference.

However, since this particular call was going to result in Oregon being inside the 20 yard line and within reach of pulling off an unthinkable comeback, the officials again decided to review the call. Phew, I thought. Of course they will see that the ball was deflected. Oregon will have the ball at the 50 and needs a touchdown. I still like my chances. Plus, trend #1 is still in effect, right?

After an even longer review, it appeared that trend #1 was no longer in effect, but trend #2 most certainly was. Bob Stoops looked even more shocked than I probably did, and I guess that seems about right. Oregon then scored on an easy 20 yard pass play that the Oklahoma defense might as well have slept through.

To add more insanity to the wild finish, Oklahoma returned the ensuing kickoff to the Oregon 25 yard line, well within field goal range. I wanted them to take a shot at the end zone on their first play since they were out of timeouts and the Ducks would obviously be looking for the run. Instead, they chose to play it safe and ran it to Peterson to center the ball for the field goal–certainly not a gimme shot at 42 yards.

Never for an instant did I think that the Sooners had a realistic chace at actually making the field goal. The gods had spoken.

I was right. Oregon capped what might be the most amazing comeback we see all season with a game-saving field goal block.

Sooner fans certainly have reason to be upset about the ineptitude of the fellas in the review booth, but should probably be more upset with a Sooner defense that most expected to be among the nation’s finest. Giving up 34 points to an overrated Oregon team doesn’t exactly make me all that sympathetic to a couple of late mis-calls by the officials and the replay booth, although I do prefer to watch games that are called correctly, especially if we are going to stop the games for such extended reviewing. The bottom line is that if you are ahead 33-20 in the game of football with a minute to play, there shouldn’t be anything the officials can possibly do that will cost you the game. Anyway, the outcome is final, and to call this loss a heartbreaker for OU might be the year’s greatest understatement.

Briefly, in other games:

-Michigan really came to play at Notre Dame and took advantage of a few big turnovers early to set a dominant tone that the Irish couldn’t overcome. I was very impressed by how well Michigan’s secondary played. They were swarming the entire game and never lost their intensity, and as a result Brady Quinn never got going. I guess that Notre Dame defense hadn’t improved as much as we all thought… However, I give more credit to Michigan than I take away from Notre Dame. The Wolverines are for real, and Big Ten fans can only pray that Ohio State and Michigan are both undefeated when they play in what could be the biggest game of the year Nov. 18. At this point, an undefeated showdown looks more likely than not.

-Miami’s program officially hit rock bottom after they were utterly embarrased by a depleted Louisville team. Louisville can beat Miami at football? The gods really were in a funny mood Saturday…

-Florida showed a lot of guts in a huge 4th quarter comeback win at Tennessee. The Vol defense impressed me as well, but in the end Chris Leak just made too many big plays. Mark your calendar for October 14th when Auburn and Florida meet in what could be an SEC championship preview.

-Clemson proved me right in giving Florida State all they could handle before putting them away with a late touchdown. I still think the Tigers are the ACC’s best squad.

– LSU and Auburn battled in a surprisingly entertaining defensive struggle. I knew that this would be a defensive game, but 7-3 was a bit more than I expected. LSU passed up two long field goal opportunities in the first quarter and as a result, they needed a touchdown to win once they finally got back into field goal range late in the fourth quarter. I understand playing for defensive field position early in the game I suppose. But it has to be frustrating. Still, all the credit in the world goes to the Auburn defense, who held a very athletic LSU offense for four quarters without a touchdown.

THE TOP 25 OF THE MATTY, games through Sept 17

  1. Ohio State (3-0)
  2. USC (2-0)
  3. Michigan (3-0)
  4. Auburn (3-0)
  5. West Virginia (3-0)
  6. Florida (3-0)
  7. Texas (2-1)
  8. Notre Dame (2-1)
  9. LSU (2-1)
  10. Louisville (3-0)
  11. Georgia (3-0)
  12. Iowa (3-0)
  13. Oregon (3-0)
  14. Oklahoma (2-1)
  15. Tennessee (2-1)
  16. California (2-1)
  17. Boston College (3-0)
  18. Clemson (2-1)
  19. Florida State (2-1)
  20. Arizona State (3-0)
  21. Arkansas (2-1)
  22. Alabama (3-0)
  23. Virginia Tech (3-0)
  24. TCU (3-0)
  25. Nebraska (2-1)

Heisman Hunt

  1. Troy Smith, Ohio State
  2. Steve Slaton, West Virginia
  3. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
  4. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
  5. Chris Leak, Florida
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