Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 5 Review: Tide Rolls Past Gators In Tuscaloosa

I was visiting with a friend of mine last week, and this friend is an Alabama alum and a big Crimson Tide fan. He told me he was worried about Saturday’s game against Florida. I told him not to fear. In fact, I said, I thought the game could turn into a blowout.

But even I couldn’t have imagined what happened on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa as Nick Saban’s team put the smackdown on Florida, winning 31-6. The Tide dominated the first half, then cruised home in the second half for an easy win over the then-No. 7 Gators.

Alabama is a team that has been clicking on offense all season long. However, the Tide showed on Saturday that its young defense is getting better every week. And if that happens, we may be looking at back-to-back national championships for the Tide.

Florida continues to have struggles on offense. With Jeff Demps limited due to injury, and John Brantley proving to be ineffective, the Gators had virtually no offense after the first drive of the game (which ended with a Trey Burton jump pass being intercepted by Bama’s Nico Johnson).

Alabama must not let down its guard this weekend, when the Tide heads to Columbia to face the Old Ball Coach and his South Carolina Gamecocks.

Stock up

Oregon – The Ducks trailed Stanford 31-24 at the half on Saturday night, but stormed back in the second half, outscoring the Cardinal 28-0 and winning 52-31. To say that Oregon is a second half team would be an understatement. The Ducks have outscored their opponents 114-7 in the second half this season.

Northwestern – Guess who’s 5-0 and now nationally-ranked? It’s Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats, who beat Minnesota 29-28 in Minneapolis on Saturday. And the upcoming schedule sets up nicely for Northwestern, as the Wildcats do not have to play either Ohio State or Michigan this season.

LSU –Don’t credit me, but the joke on the internet Saturday night was about “Lucky” State University. Or maybe the “L” is for Les, as in Miles, who continually pulls games out of the fire. At any rate, the Tigers got a miracle win over Tennessee on Saturday, and are now 5-0 and heading to Gainesville to face the wounded Gators.

Florida State – Most of the nation stopped paying attention to the Seminoles after they were blasted by Oklahoma in Week 2. Since that loss, however, Jimbo Fisher’s squad has won three straight and is now 4-1 on the season. And in the ACC, they are right in the mix, along with nearly every other conference team.

Air Force – Over the past few seasons, there has been little doubt that Navy has been the best of the service academies, as far as football goes. This year, it’s Air Force. The Falcons beat the Midshipmen 14-6 on Saturday, and are now 4-1 on the season, with the only loss being a tough, hard-fought 27-24 loss at Oklahoma two weeks ago.

Stock down

BYU – Things have gotten really bad for Bronco Mendenhall and the Cougars. Is it really possible that they might be the third-best team in their own state? After Friday’s 31-16 loss at Utah State, perhaps it is. Mendenhall has fired his defensive coordinator, and now hopes to stop a four-game losing skid against San Diego State on Saturday in Provo.

N.C. State – Last week, the Wolfpack had all of the momentum, were the only unbeaten ACC team, were nationally-ranked, and things looked good. Amazing how things can change in a week. N.C. State had a chance to make a statement on Saturday, and they did, but it wasn’t the one they wanted to make, as they lost 41-30 to Virginia Tech. There are now no unbeaten teams left in the ACC.

Florida – One week after blasting Kentucky (which has become an annual ritual), the Gators were outclassed by Alabama on Saturday night. They were clearly the less physical of the two teams, and they were unable to use their team speed to their advantage against a quick Alabama defense. The Gators hope they weren’t beaten up too badly, as they host LSU on Saturday.

Kansas – Can someone explain this team to me please? Bad loss, nice win, bad loss, nice win, bad loss. I guess their next opponent, Kansas State, had better be on the lookout for the good Kansas team to show up that week. Saturday’s 55-7 loss at Baylor provides just another example of the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this Jayhawk team.

Georgia – Mark Richt, your seat is officially hot. Georgia doesn’t do four-game losing streaks, but the 2010 Bulldogs are on one at the moment after Saturday’s 29-27 loss at Colorado. It wasn’t only the loss, but how they lost. The ‘Dogs were driving for a game-winning touchdown or field goal, when an untimely fumble handed the game to the Buffs.

Statistical Studs – Week 5

Denard Robinson, Michigan – He could make this list every week. On Saturday against Indiana, Robinson carried 19 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while hitting on 10-of-16 passing for 277 yards and three scores.

Ben Chappell, Indiana – Playing against Robinson, the Hoosier quarterback had a big day as well. Chappell was 45-of-64 through the air for 480 yards and three touchdowns. Chappell set school records for passing yards, completions and attempts in the game.

Robert Griffin, Baylor – The Bears quarterback was huge in Saturday’s 55-7 thumping of Kansas. Griffin was 26-of-36 passing for 380 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing eight times for 64 yards and another score.

Ray Graham, Pittsburgh – The Panthers tailback, subbing for Dion Lewis, made the most of his opportunity, rushing 29 times for 277 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Florida International.

LaMichael James, Oregon – The Ducks have the nation’s best offense, and James is a big reason why. In what was supposed to be a Pac-10 showdown on Saturday night, the lightning-quick James carried 31 times for 257 yards and three touchdowns in a huge Oregon win over Stanford. James can now be mentioned in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 6

No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 South Carolina
No. 12 LSU at No. 14 Florida
No. 17 Michigan State at No. 18 Michigan
No. 7 Nebraska at Kansas State
No. 23 Florida State at No. 13 Miami

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