Oregon headed into what was supposed to be a challenge in the Pac-10, and the Ducks rolled out of Los Angeles with a 21-point win over and over-rated USC team.
Oregon, plain and simple, is the best team in the country right now. I’m not saying they’ll win the national championship. But if it were played on October 30, I’d say they could beat anyone. The potent offense the Ducks possess puts opponents in a tough situation. Stop the run (OK, slow down the run, there’s no stopping them) and they’ll beat you with the pass. And vice versa.
LaMichael James is the only person not named Cam Newton in the Heisman Trophy discussion, and quarterback Darron Thomas continues to improve for the Ducks.
Oregon faces two more difficult road tests in the Pac-10, but if they continue to play like this, they will be in the BCS National Championship Game.
Nebraska – A couple of weeks ago, this team suffered a devastating loss to Texas, one that could have derailed their season. But since that loss, the Huskers have rebounded nicely, including Saturday’s 31-17 win over previously unbeaten Missouri. Roy Helu, Jr. had a huge day for Nebraska, which is not totally out of the national championship race at this point.
Baylor – OK, three weeks ago, if I had told you that Baylor would go to Austin and beat Texas, you would have called me crazy. But that acutally happened on Saturday, and it wasn’t a fluke. The Bears, behind quarterback Robert Griffin, controlled the game against the Longhorns, and went home with a 30-22 win. Baylor leads the Big 12 South and controls its own destiny into the Big 12 Championship Game.
Iowa – The Hawkeyes proved that they are still in the mix for the Big Ten title on Saturday, thumping previously unbeaten Michigan State, 37-6. Iowa has lost only once in conference play, and still has a game against Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium (Nov. 20), where they could claim at least a portion of the conference title.
Tulsa – The Golden Hurricane did something that no one expected on Saturday, winning 28-27 at Notre Dame. Most experts figured that the Fighting Irish, facing an internal tragedy, would come out and play well in honor of their fallen videographer. Instead, quarterback Dayne Crist was injured, and Tulsa was able to take advantage. Coach Todd Graham, one of the nice guys in the game, deserves a win like this.
Syracuse – The Orange are 6-2 for the first time since 2001 after Saturday’s 31-7 thumping of Cincinnati. And Syracuse finds itself just a half game behind Pittsburgh in the Big East standings. Having already lost to the Panthers, Syracuse must win out and hope that Pitt falls at least once so that the Orange can claim a share of the Big East title.
West Virginia – The Mountaineers make the stock down list for the second week in a row. It’s inexplicable that this team is not at the top of the Big East standings. The Big East is NOT a tough conference. There are no ranked teams in the conference. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are two of the best teams. And WVU can’t compete with Connecticut? That’s a problem.
Florida State – The Seminoles had a huge opportunity on Thursday night to basically claim the ACC’s Atlantic Division by beating N.C. State. Instead, Jimbo Fisher’s squad blew the lead late, and lost to the Wolfpack. Now, Florida State has a tenuous lead in the division, with division games remaining against Clemson and Maryland.
Michigan – The Wolverines opened the season with five straight wins, and appeared to be on the right path. Denard Robinson was the front-runner for the Heisman, and Rich Rodriguez appeared to have saved his job. Four weeks later, Michigan is 5-3, having suffered three straight losses, and a season of promise is turning into the same old Michigan (Rodriguez Era only). Michigan still faces Illinois, visits Purdue, hosts Wisconsin and visits Ohio State. They need to find one win to be bowl eligible. Rodriguez might need two wins (at least) to save his job.
Clemson – The Tigers should not have lost to Boston College on Saturday. They clearly have better talent (minus Montel Harris, of course), but Kyle Parker and his team simply should not have lost this game. Clemson is now 4-4 on the season, and they need to find two more wins to be bowl-eligible. Clemson hosts N.C. State, visits Florida State and Wake Forest, then hosts South Carolina. Could be tough sledding for Dabo Swinney’s team.
Miami – OK, so it’s pick on the ACC week. But Randy Shannon’s Hurricanes are better than this. A Virginia team that had only beaten FCS members Richmond and VMI, as well as pathetic Eastern Michigan, should not beat a ranked opponent. But that’s what the Cavaliers did to the Hurricanes on Saturday. The ‘Canes need to regroup for their final four games, so they can get to the best bowl available to them.
Statistical Studs – Week 9
Roy Helu, Jr., Nebraska – Think about the 1980’s and 1990’s, and how many times Nebraska ran the ball. Roger Craig, Turner Gill, Eric Crouch, etc. On Saturday, Helu outdid them all, rushing for a school-record 307 yards as the Huskers beat Missouri. Helu had three touchdowns, and they covered 66, 73 and 53 yards.
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M – Tannehill connected on 36-of-50 passes for 449 yards with four touchdowns as the Aggies beat Texas Tech, 45-27. The 449 yards is a school record for passing yards in a game at Texas A&M.
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma – Staying in the Big 12, Broyles set an Oklahoma school record with 208 receiving yards, in a 43-10 win over Colorado. For the game, Broyles caught nine passes, including three touchdown passes (16, 81 and 64 yards).
LaMichael James, Oregon – James continues to stay in the Heisman Trophy race, as his team stays in contention for the national championship. In Saturday’s 53-32 thumping of USC, James carried 36 times for 239 yards and three touchdowns. This guy is the best running back in the nation, without question. The Heisman Trophy should come down to a race between James and Auburn’s Cam Newton.
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas – OK, so Mallett was only facing Vanderbilt, but he still had a huge game. Mallett passes for a school-record 409 yards and three touchdowns as the Razorbacks beat the Commodores 49-14 in Nashville. Mallett completed 27-of-44 passes and hit on three touchdowns in the game.
Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 10
No. 4 TCU at No. 6 Utah
No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 LSU
No. 13 Arizona at No. 10 Stanford
No. 17 Arkansas at No. 18 South Carolina
No. 22 Baylor at No. 19 Oklahoma State