The Super Six*
After two weeks, no team in the country can lay claim to having beaten two ranked opponents. In fact, no team in the AP Top 25 has even beaten two teams who play in AQ conferences (although Northwestern, which is unranked, has).
1. Alabama (2-0): The Tide have held eight of their past 13 opponents to single-digit point totals, four of which were shutouts.
2. LSU (2-0): Wasn’t it odd to see Tyrann Mathieu seated in the student section?
3. USC (2-0): The Trojans looked far from dominant versus Syracuse, the receiving tandem of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods is unstoppable.
4. Georgia (2-0): The Bulldogs outscored Mizzou 32-10 in the second half. Impressive win on the road, at night, against a solid team and an amped-up crowd.
5. Oregon (2-0): Duck games are such track meets that they may as well play them at Hayward Field. Caution: They may be garbage-time points, but Quacks have allowed 59 points in two games.
6. Northwestern (2-0): Do we really believe the Fighting Fitzgeralds are one of the nation’s six best squads? No, but Northwestern – unranked, by the way – is the only team in America with two wins versus AQ-conference schools, so for the time being…
*Florida State may be a Top 5 team, but the Seminoles have two wins versus FCS programs. When you’re ready to sit at the adult table, Jimbo, just let us know.
Team of the Week: UCLA
In Rick Neuheisel’s coaching debut at UCLA four years ago, Bruin quarterback Kevin Craft threw three first-half interceptions. The trauma of turnovers inspired Neuheisel, himself a former UCLA QB, to infamously advise Craft, “Punting is winning.”
Times have changed in Westwood (even if the Bruins never actually play a game there). After two games under Neuheisel’s successor, Jim Mora, including Saturday night’s upset of No. 16 Nebraska, 36-30, UCLA is ranked third in the nation in total offense (649.5 yards per game) and is 2-0. Tailback Johnathan Franklin leads the nation in rushing (215.5 yards per game) and quarterback Brett Hundley, a first-year starter, has thrown six touchdown passes against just one interception.
Punting is no longer winning in Westwood. And, for the first Sunday morning since 2007, or before the Neuheisel era, the Bruins woke up to discover themselves in the AP poll (No. 22). Remember that foolhardy full-page newspaper ad placed early in Neuheisel’s tenure, the one proclaiming “The football monopoly in L.A. is over?” Perhaps it’s finally true.
Team of the Weak: Colorado
After a pair of games versus Colorado State and Sacramento State, the latter an FCS program, the Buffaloes are 0-2 and ranked 109th nationally in total offense. If the Buffs can’t progress the pork-hide versus those two defenses, what hope to they have versus the Pac-12? It’s too early to declare an 0-12 season a possibility, but things are far from rock-solid in Boulder.
Game of the Week: Louisiana Monroe 34, Arkansas 28
Losing quarterback Tyler Wilson due to an “above the shoulders” injury for the second half hurt, but a true national championship contender would not squander a 21-point lead to ULM. Give credit to Warhawks QB Kolton Browning, whose game-tying touchdown pass on 4th-and-10 in regulation and game-winning scamper on 4th-and-1 in overtime daggerized the Hogs.
Non-troversy of the Week: Who is Notre Dame’s starting quarterback now?
After Brian Kelly inserted junior Tommy Rees for the first time this season on the game’s final drive, and after Rees led the Irish to a game-winning field goal versus Purdue, there was a brief moment when it appeared that the Irish might have their second QB controversy in as many seasons. After all, redshirt freshman Everett Golson had played the entire game.
“There is no quarterback controversy,” Kelly said in the postgame press conference. “Everett Golson is our starter. He will start against Michigan State.”
And with that 500 message boards fell silent.
The potentially catastrophic injury suffered by Tulane defensive back Devon Walker – it is still too soon to ascertain whether he will be paralyzed – occurred in the midst of some bizarre strategy, if not outright gamesmanship. The scenario: Tulsa led 35-3 with :02 remaining in the first half and had the ball on the Tulane 33. The Golden Hurricane called a timeout, followed by a Green Wave timeout. Then Tulsa lined up to run a play, meaning that they chose to eschew a 50-yard field goal attempt and instead try for one last touchdown.
Every play in football brings with it the potential for a life-altering injury. And no one can predict the future. Even if Walker had never gotten injured – he banged heads with a teammate while tackling Tulsa’s Willie Carter following a 16-yard gain as the clock had already expired – was it worth asking why Tulsa was running a play with :02 remaining in the half and a 32-point lead?
*In a game that almost no one saw – and all would have enjoyed – South Florida scored on a pair of 50-plus yard pass plays in the final three minutes to defeat Nevada in Reno, 32-31. B.J. Daniels connected with Chris Dunkley from 52 yards out with 2:37 remaining, then found Andre Davis for the game-winning 56-yard score with :38 showing. Nevada had not trailed until that moment.
*David Piland of Houston went all Andre Ware David Klingler Case Keenum versus Louisiana Tech, completing 53 of 77 passes for 580 yards and four touchdowns (and NO interceptions). The Cougars still lost, 56-49. It’s not easy to set a single-game passing record at UH, but Piland did so – in fact, he set an NCAA record – by attempting the most passes in one game without throwing an interception.
*There is the irony of, in Texas A&M’s inaugural Southeastern Conference game, the player from the opposing team (Florida) to have the game’s final carry was named Mack Brown.
*Oklahoma’s Damien Williams had 156 yards in his debut at Owen Field, which is the most in Sooner history. We’d be more agog if the opponent had not been Florida A&M.
*In Week One Oklahoma State and North Carolina won their games, versus FCS opponents Savannah State and Elon, respectively, by a combined score of 146-0. On Saturday the Cowboys lost at Arizona while the Tar Heels tripped at Wake Forest, both of whom are unranked teams.
*It is not just that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson stood on the sidelines in South Bend to watch Notre Dame take on Purdue, it’s that the two of them also attended the team’s pre-game mass. And not as Seamus O’Toole and Bobby O’Shea or two brothers from Vermont who own an emerging maple syrup conglomerate. Then again, if you remember from Wedding Crashers, Rule 76 states, “No excuses. Play like a champion.” The first sentence was the title of Charlie Weis’ autobiography while the latter is just one word off from the famous sign that sits at the bottom of the stairs that lead out from Notre Dame’s locker room.
*Almost as an afterthought, the Irish beat Sack Purdue, 20-17.
*One week late, but worth mentioning, quarterback Sam Durley of Division III Eureka (Ill.) College set an all-divisions NCAA record for passing yards in a game with 736 against Knox College. It’s worth noting – and so we will – that Durley only completed 34 passes (52 attempts), meaning that he averaged nearly 22 yards per completion. His final completion went for the game-winning touchdown in Eureka’s 62-55 victory.