Monday, September 10, 2007

College BlogDay - 09.10.2007

The South Carolina Gamecocks continue to surprise a lot of people early on this season, as Spurrier’s team marched into Sanford Stadium in Athens and upset the #11 Georgia Bulldogs, 16-12. After a good, albeit lackluster victory over the lower tier Louisiana-Lafayette program in week one, South Carolina brought a stout defensive scheme at Georgia, who struggled to find their rhythm all game long. The Gamecocks managed to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone, allowing four of five field goals by Georgia kicker Brandon Coutu. Cory Boyd’s seven yard touchdown run marked the only TD of the game, capping off a seven play, 62-yard drive. The in-conference loss severely hurts Georgia’s SEC Championship aspirations, especially with Florida and LSU gunning for a national championship. South Carolina (2-0) takes on the Bulldogs (again), this time of South Carolina State, while Georgia (1-1) meets Western Carolina.

Another SEC Power suffered an upset loss in Week 2, as the #17 Auburn Tigers fell to South Florida, 26-23 in overtime. Following a difficult victory against Kansas State in Week 1, Auburn suffered from another sub-par performance from quarterback Brandon Cox against a smaller program, amassing only 165 yards off sixteen completions out of thirty five, a 45.7% completion percentage. Cox has now thrown four interceptions in two games, which will present a serious threat to Auburn’s ability to hang with LSU within their division. Unless LSU hiccups this season, Auburn may be out of the SEC Championship picture before their conference match ups even begin.

Elsewhere, Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide took care of conference opponent Vanderbilt in Week 2, besting the Commodores 24-10 at Vandy. Florida, Kentucky, LSU and Arkansas all remained undefeated through the second week, with LSU holding the only win over a conference opponent among those four, beating Mississippi State in their season opener, 45-0. LSU has been the class of the SEC to date, polishing off the #9 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in Baton Rouge, 48-7 on Saturday night. The defending National Champion Florida Gators begin the defense of their SEC Championship next week when they host #22 Tennessee.

#10 California needed two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but they managed to deny Colorado State of the upset, 34-28 Saturday on the road. Quarterback Nathan Longshore has played perfectly acceptable football so far, posting two consecutive games with a completion percentage over 65%. His yardage dropped off significantly against Colorado State, but with no interceptions and few bad throws, this drop off did not cause any harm to California’s aspirations. Lavelle Hawkins and DeSean Jackson continue to fly under the national radar as one of the NCAA’s best wide receiver tandems in college football.

The Washington Huskies pulled off a major feat in Week 2, knocking off last year’s Fiesta Bowl winner, #22 Boise State at home, 24-10. Huskies QB Jake Locker was the proverbial one-man show Saturday, accumulating 193 passing yards with a touchdown while rushing for 84 yards on sixteen carries. Marcel Reece caught four passes for 102 yards and a touchdown in the winning effort. The Washington defense also rose to the challenge, forcing four Boise State turnovers, including three interceptions by the new Broncos quarterback, Taylor Tharp. The victory snaps Boise State’s fourteen game winning streak, the longest such streak among the Division I schools over the past year. Prior to the loss on Saturday, the Broncos had not lost since December 28th, 2005 when they fell to Boston College in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise.

Arizona and Arizona State both had productive weeks, knocking off Northern Arizona and Colorado at home, respectively in impressive fashion. Arizona meets New Mexico in Week 3, while Arizona State entertains SDSU. #13 UCLA had a few problems taking care of Brigham Young on Saturday, but still managed to pick up the 10-point victory at home. Halfback Kahlil Bell leads the Pac-10 with 274 rushing yards, averaging almost eight yards per carry. Meanwhile, the #1 USC Trojans had the week off following their opener win over Idaho. They face their first formidable opponent in the guise of the #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers at Nebraska on Saturday night.

Big Ten
Joe Paterno’s #14 Penn State Nittany Lions thrashed Notre Dame in Happy Valley, 31-10 Saturday, improving to 2-0 on the young season. Penn State has put up 90 points in two games this year, allowing only the ten points here against Notre Dame. QB Anthony Morelli went 12 of 22 for 131 yards and a touchdown, while highly touted freshman Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen completed 17 of 32 passes for 144 yards and one interception. Penn State’s defense throttled Charlie Weis’s running game, canceling out the meager twenty-eight yards earned on the ground by Notre Dame with negative twenty-eight yards in return. Five different players carried the ball on Saturday, while Anthony Morelli connected with seven different receivers. Penn State hosts Buffalo this Saturday at noon.

#12 Ohio State neatly dissected the Akron Zips, 20-2 in Columbus. After surrendering a safety score to Akron in the first half and gaining only a field goal, the Buckeyes exploded for seventeen unanswered points off two touchdown strikes by quarterback Todd Boeckman and a 33-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Pretorius. Offensively, the showing by the Buckeyes was extremely sloppy, as Akron forced five turnovers, including three fumbles lost and two interceptions. Defensively, however, Ohio State was a juggernaut, holding Akron to 71 total yards on the day. The Zips only managed three first downs in the entire game. Ohio State travels to Washington to take on the Huskies on Saturday.

With conference play yet to begin, the Big Ten has looked reasonably impressive so far. Northwestern, Ohio State, Indiana, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, and Purdue are all 2-0 so far, with Minnesota and Illinois splitting their first two games. Wisconsin remains the highest ranked team in the conference, despite a harrowing near-defeat at the hands of the UNLV Rebels. The Badgers needed eleven fourth quarter points, yet took the lead for good when Tyler Donovan scored from twenty nine yards out in the final minutes of the game. As of this time, their poll position has not been affected by the closeness of this victory (Texas dropped in the polls after Week 1 despite winning because of the close score).


Nick Pomazak said...

Dookie cried when Boise State lost..

Brian Bleakley said...

Nice work, Neek.

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