College Football Recap- Week 5

Late last night, I sat down in an attempt to formulate some version of my new Top 25 after what was probably the wackiest weekend of college football that I can ever remember. It just goes to show you why college football is so great, as a seemingly meaningless weekend of games almost completely devoid of matchups involving two ranked teams ended up giving us shocker after shocker after shocker. By the time it was all over, it was a virtual bloodbath, and five of my undefeated top ten were undefeated no longer. Four of them lost to teams that were completely off my radar and outside of my Top 50, which borders on unimaginable.

It began Friday night as South Florida football officially arrived. The Bulls knocked off West Virginia, a team with high hopes for a championship, for the second straight year. This one actually didn’t surprise me nearly as much as anything that happened Saturday, but looking back it certainly provided some nice foreshadowing. The craziness began early Saturday afternoon during the Oklahoma-Colorado game. I had my eye on it but wasn’t concentrating on it as it appeared Oklahoma was having a bit more of a challenge than in previous games, but it seemed fairly certain that the Sooners were still in control of the game. I started paying more attention when Colorado pulled within a touchdown and then was shocked to learn that the Buffs had tied the game at 24 late in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma failed to score on their next possession, and Colorado won the game with a clutch 44 yard field goal as time expired. If you had told me at that point that there would be three more upsets coming that would surprise me even more, I probably would have fallen off of my barstool. Amazingly, this was the only upset of the day in which the winner was the home team.

Meanwhile, Rutgers struggled in the first half against what is admittedly an underrated Maryland squad. They led narrowly at the half but I figured they were back on track. That obviously was not the case, as the Terrapins outscored them 20-7 in the second half to win in stunning fashion. But really, the two games that surprised me most were the home losses by Texas and Florida. I can’t decide which one was the most surprising, as you can make strong cases for either. I suppose what makes the Texas loss so hard to grasp is the manner in which they lost. The Longhorns haven’t exactly been playing good football all year, so I could have fathomed a narrow home loss. But to lose by 20 points? To Kansas State? At home? No way. The fact that Texas gave up 41 points to a seemingly mediocre Wildcat offense is not a good sign. Isn’t this supposed to be one of the nation’s strongest defenses? I guess not. Next week’s Red River battle went from being a virtual national semifinal to a game in which everyone will be intrigued only to determine who is more overrated.

Overall, I suppose I am most confused by Florida’s home loss to a struggling Auburn team who suffered early losses to the likes of Mississippi State and South Florida, although the latter is actually starting to appear to strengthen the Tigers’ credentials. This was the most exciting of the upsets, as Florida battled back from a 17-3 deficit (again, how did they only score three points in the first half?) to tie the game at 17 late in the fourth quarter. Then Auburn kicker Wes Byrum kicked the game-winning field goal not once, but twice, as officials determined that a timeout had been called just before the first kick went through the uprights. Byrum wasn’t phased, and knocked through another 43 yard kick to give Auburn a big win over Florida for the second straight year, this time in the Swamp. How can Florida possibly let this happen at home? I’m without words.

Lost in the shuffle was the chaotic mess that is the Big Ten. Penn State went from being everyone’s trendy pick to win the conference to looking decidely middle of the pack after a turnover-laced defeat at the hands of Illinois. Wisconsin continued its enigmatic run in a hilarious 37-34 victory over Michigan State in a game that everyone expected to be a 9-7 sleeper. Ohio State kept rolling and appears to be the team to beat, although the Buckeyes’ four I-A wins have come against opponents with a combined record of  7-13. Michigan seemed to be back on track last week after beating Penn State, but struggled mightily with Northwestern before pulling away in the fourth quarter. Purdue is still undefeated as well, although their defense, or lack thereof, poses concerns. And I have to mention my Hoosiers, who got a big win on the road against Iowa.

Looking at my new poll is a somewhat shocking exercise. While trying to realign the powers of the college football world, I paused for awhile after numbers one and two in disbelief. Then I realized that numbers one and two, while undeniably the cream of the crop right now, didn’t look very good yesterday either. The big games of next week lost a little luster, but still carry huge championship implications. This season is certainly shaping up into one where losing one game doesn’t eliminate a team from a shot at the title game. First, a look at next week’s action:

GAMES TO WATCH NEXT WEEK:

#11 Kentucky at #15 South Carolina, 6:30 PM CST, Thursday, ESPN: This game might have been meaningless last season, but right now has serious importance in the SEC East race. With Florida’s loss, Kentucky looks to advance its BCS hopes behind Heisman Candidate Andre Woodson’s leadership. Kentucky, BCS, Heisman… all sounds pretty strange doesn’t it? They’ll have a big test going into Gamecock country at night.

 #9 Oklahoma at #25 Texas, 2:30 PM CST, ABC: This doesn’t exactly hold all of the title implications that we all expected it to hold, although a BCS berth is still likely. And besides, it’s still one of the best rivalries in college sports. Both teams seem too unpredictable to even make this game predictable, and I’m curious to see who is going to step it up and prevail after both teams suffered crushing losses last week.

#17 Georgia at Tennessee, 2:30 PM CST, CBS: The Vols are a team that have kind of fallen off of everyone’s radars, but I haven’t given up on them quite yet, as the offense is loaded with talent. They’ll have a big chance to get back into the SEC race as the Bulldogs come to town.

#7 Virginia Tech at Clemson, 5:00 PM CST, ESPN: I believe Clemson showed its true colors last week losing at Georgia Tech, but they’ll have a chance to prove me wrong against Virginia Tech, a team that hasn’t yet lived up to the talent level that I think they possess.

#21 Cincinnati at #19 Rutgers, 6:00 PM CST, ESPN 2: I spent so much time talking about the three headed Big East monster of Rutgers, West Virginia and Louisville that I forgot to give any credit to Cincinnati and South Florida, and they’re the ones that are now battling for the conference crown. Rutgers doesn’t have any conference losses yet, and gets this big game at home.

#4 Ohio State at #21 Purdue, 7:00 PM CST, ESPN: The Buckeyes get their first big test as they enter Boiler country at night. This game should finally give us some idea as to what is what in the Big Ten. The most intriguing aspect of this one will be the strength of the Purdue offense going up against the stout Buckeye defense.

#5 Florida at #1 LSU, 7:00 PM CST, CBS: This is another one that was expected to be a battle of undefeated top three teams, but make mistake, this is still the marquee game of the day. LSU is well-positioned for a championship run, while the Gators will have to win this one to have any hope for defending their title. And again, there is nothing better than big-time SEC Football at night.

#14 Nebraska at #18 Missouri, 8:15 PM CST, ESPN 2: After Texas and Oklahoma battle it out to get back into the Big 12 South race, these two rebuilding programs will have it out to move into position for the Big 12 North championship and a shot at a BCS bowl game.

THE TOP 50 OF THE MATTY

  1. LSU (5-0)
  2. USC (4-0)
  3. California (5-0)
  4. Ohio State (5-0)
  5. Florida (4-1)
  6. Wisconsin (5-0)
  7. Virginia Tech (4-1)
  8. Boston College (5-0)
  9. Oklahoma (4-1)
  10. Hawaii (5-0)
  11. Kentucky (5-0)
  12. South Florida (4-0)
  13. West Virginia (4-1)
  14. Nebraska (4-1)
  15. South Carolina (4-1)
  16. Oregon (4-1)
  17. Georgia (4-1)
  18. Missouri (4-0)
  19. Rutgers (3-1)
  20. Arizona State (5-0)
  21. Purdue (5-0)
  22. Cincinnati (5-0)
  23. Auburn (3-2)
  24. Kansas State (3-1)
  25. Texas (4-1)
  26. Tennessee (2-2)
  27. Florida State (3-1)
  28. Georgia Tech (3-2)
  29. Michigan (3-2)
  30. Alabama (3-2)
  31. UCLA (4-1)
  32. Miami (4-1)
  33. Texas A & M (4-1)
  34. Kansas (4-0)
  35. Arkansas (2-2)
  36. Virginia (4-1)
  37. Clemson (4-1)
  38. Illinois (4-1)
  39. Penn State (3-2)
  40. Connecticut (5-0)
  41. Maryland (3-2)
  42. Colorado (3-2)
  43. Mississippi State (3-2)
  44. Central Florida (3-1)
  45. Oklahoma State (3-2)
  46. Texas Tech (3-2)
  47. Louisville (3-2)
  48. Tulsa (3-1)
  49. BYU (3-2)
  50. Washington (2-3)

HEISMAN RACE

  1. Andre Woodson, Kentucky
  2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
  3. Mike Hart, Michigan
  4. DeSean Jackson, California
  5. Tim Tebow, Florida
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