In what was suppose to be a down week as far as the good games, this week saw its share of close to the wire finishes, as Ohio State was able to pull out a thriller in Iowa City vs. the Hawkeyes, LSU and the mad hatter put on show with Jeremiah Masoli and Ole Miss, and Michigan State came from behind to stun Purdue. We even had some comic relief as Northwestern and Illinois played a one-way football game (All that was missing was the all-time quarterback) in historic Wrigley field.
The top three in Oregon, Auburn, and TCU were all idle, so the BCS standings stayed the same in that department for the fourth consecutive week. Following this weekend's games, there remains only one more week in college football's regular season which is such a bittersweet thought for me. Their are some exciting conference races that will come down to the last game in the Big Ten, Big 12 and the Big East. As the season winds down, now is where the great teams will separate themselves from the good teams.
Now lets breakdown the top games of the weekend:
Ohio State 20 Iowa 17 - Terelle Pryor just finds ways to win and when his team needed him, he put on a season-defining drive for the Buckeyes. On their next to last drive, Pryor led the Buckeyes on a 12 play 76 yard drive that would put them ahead for good. The drive would feature gorgeously lofted 50-yard bomb pass from Pryor to DeVier Posey that would have been a touchdown but was dropped by Posey on third and 10. Pryor wouldn't let that deter his team as he scrambled for 14-yards on fourth down to keep the chains moving. Pryor then completed a 24-yard pass to Dane Sanzebacher to set up Dan Herron's go-ahead score. The Hawkeyes and QB Ricky Stanzi couldn't muster up any late game heroics themselves on their last drive as the Buckeyes defense stuffed them. It was just a great performance for Pryor who was having a shaky game before leading his team on the game-winning drive. His athleticism rivals Heisman front-runner Cam Newton, with his length and speed. Iowa as I suspected had no answer for him on defense. The Buckeyes keep there Rose bowl chances alive with the win even though they are a long shot with Wisconsin being ranked higher than them in the BCS rankings.
Wisconsin 48 Michigan 28 - This one turned out exactly as I thought it would. The Wolverines just could not contain the powerful Badger run game. Wisconsin just pounded Michigan into submission with 354 yards rushing. RB Montee Ball, just the third string back two weeks ago, ran for 194 yards and four touchdowns. Freshman James White pitched in with 161 yards and two touchdowns. QB Scott Tolzien completed his first 10 passes and finished the day nearly perfect going 14 of 15 for 201 yards and an interception. Even in the lost, and Michigan QB Denard Robinson set the all-time record for QB rushing yards with 1,538 yards in a season after running for 121 yards on 22 carries. This is the Badgers first win at Michigan since 1994. Wisconsin built a 24-0 lead going into halftime and there was no way Michigan could overcome that lead with the way the Badgers run the ball. Wisconsin now is the highest rated BCS team in the Big Ten and if they win out they should make a run for the Roses in Pasadena.
Texas A&M 9 Nebraska 6 – This one was a low scoring affair that your dad would have been proud of. Cyrus Gray led the Aggies with a career high 137 yards and if you haven’t saw this guy play, your missing out. He was elusive and only got stronger as the game wore on. This was Gray’s fifth consecutive game over the century mark. The game was a defensive struggle for the entire night and Nebraska just couldn’t muster up any offense. They also committed way too many turnovers and a few key ones that may have cost them the game. The roughing the passer call on 3rd and 11 continued the drive that led to a go-ahead field goal by the Aggies. Taylor Martinez missed the last five minutes of the first quarter and the entire second quarter after hurting his right ankle. He came back for the third quarter and played the rest of the game despite noticeably being hobbled. He was flagged for intentional grounding on first down on Nebraska’s last drive and then sacked on third down. The biggest show of the game may have come on the sidelines as Cornhusker coach Bo Pellini was upset with Martinez for some apparent reason and resorted to shouting and poking his finger in the chest of his QB. The loss doesn’t affect the Huskers in the Big 12 south race as they still control their own destiny with a win next week over Colorado. The Aggies now have won four straight and look continue their hot streak and sneak into a New Year’s Day bowl.
Other News and Notables:
Northwestern vs. Illinois – Sometimes schools and administrations force things and this sure felt that way with this game being played at Chicago’s historic Wrigley field. This one had all the makings of a bad game with the teams only able to one way on offense. It was comical to say the least but Northwestern wanted this game played so badly and they made it happen, even if it wasn’t the best conditions. This was the butt of many jokes including where is the all-time QB? There was also a few Arena league quips. The sod was so lose on the field that most players spent their day trying not to slip. The one person who took advantage was Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure, running for a school record 330- yards. Illinois became bowl eligible with the win.
Stanford – After Cal nearly pulled off the upset of Oregon, the thinking was that they and the Clancy Pendergrast defense actually stood a chance in this one. In the great words of Lee Corso “Not so fast my friend”. The Cardinal went out and whooped the Golden Bears in the annual Big Game 48-14. Andrew Luck once again put on a great performance tossing two touchdown passes. He redeemed himself for his less than stellar performance in last year’s game. The 48 point outburst from Stanford was the highest scoring total ever for one team in this heated rivalry.
The Mad Hatter vs. The Nutt – Where is the D in the SEC? The 79 points the teams combined for are the most in the SEC this year. LSU came in with the No. 1 ranked defense in the SEC but allowed Jeremiah Masoli and the Rebels to rack up 36 points. This one had everything you expected from it when Les Miles and Houston Nutt teams get together. The teams traded blows back and forth in the 4th quarter combining for five touchdowns in the period. LSU is such a fun team to watch. They always play down or up to their competition so even they play a team like Ole Miss or Tennessee and it makes for a good game. The Tigers are entrenched in the BCS rankings at # 5 and should hold that ranking this week with the win.