Run and Shoot: 11 Lessons Learned from Week 6

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11 Lessons Learned from Week 6

http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/11011092

We're already into the second month of college football for 2008. My, that first third of the season went quickly. Here's what we learned from this weekend's action.

USCsanchezMediaCrush.jpg
(You think the media wants to know how Mark Sanchez's knee is doing? Here he is under a crush of media after the Oregon game. USC's easy win was part of the reason this weekend was a rather boring one for college football.)

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Lesson 1-
NEXT WEEKEND CAN'T GET HERE SOON ENOUGH.

This was a pretty pedestrian Saturday in college football. Other than Vanderbilt's win over Auburn, it was mostly quiet scoreboard watching.

But don't worry, on the horizon lies the Red River Shootout. No. 1 OU. No. 5 Texas. Sam Bradford. Colt McCoy. Texas State Fair. Big Tex. THIS is how we like to see the OU-Texas, back on the main stage. If that's not enough, consider the LSU-Florida matchup in the Swamp. Last year's game was one of the hardest-hitting, most exciting games of the year. This one should be no different.

Don't forget about unbeatens Missouri and Oklahoma State and unbeaten Northwestern going to play Michigan State. Yummy.


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Lesson 2-
THE SMARTEST TEAM IN THE SEC IS NOW THE BEST TEAM IN THE SEC.

Yes, I realize that above statement may actually require a question mark at the end, but after Vanderbilt's 14-13 win over Auburn, the Commodores are sitting atop the SEC East. Go ahead, take a look, I'm not lying. And it's pretty cool.

VandyTDcatch.jpg
(That's right SEC, the team atop your standings doesn't even have end zone seats in its stadium. Are you going to stand for that? Vanderbilt's Justin Wheeler hauls in the first TD of the game for the 'Dores.)

The one point difference in the game? That came from a missed extra point by Auburn's Wes Byrum in the first quarter. Remember he was the guy that mocked the Gator chomp last year. Karma dude.

Big props to backup QB Mackenzi Adams, the former starter came off the bench and threw both touchdowns in overcoming a 13-0 deficit. VU is now 5-0 for the first time since 1943. Sword 'em!


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Lesson 3-
THE BIG 12 HAS THE BEST TEAMS OF ANY CONFERENCE IN THE COUNTRY.

No SEC honks, I didn't say the Big 12 was the best conference - though if you think about it, maybe it is. We already knew that Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri were legit (although I'm still curious about your defense Tigers). But Texas Tech's dismantling of Kansas State (58-28) and Oklahoma State's deconstruction of Texas A&M (56-28) give us hints that these two are ready to join those higher-ups in the rakings.

Here's how the Big 12 has put its stamp on the newest Coach's Top 25:
1- Oklahoma (5-0)
2- Missouri (5-0)
5- Texas (5-0)
7- Texas Tech (5-0)
15- Kansas (4-1)
17- Oklahoma State (5-0)


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Lesson 4-
BEFORE YOU SNICKER ABOUT THOSE TEAMS, WE FOUND OUT THAT TEXAS TECH AND OKLAHOMA STATE can ACTUALLY PLAY DEFENSE TOO.

Tech held Josh Freeman to 13-for-28 passing and the Cats to just 296 yards in all. On top of that, Tech's D also held KSU to 2-for-12 third down conversions.

TxTechScary.jpg
(Alice Cooper rip-off artist. Texas Tech's defense is starting to look a little scary after Saturday's win at Kansas State. But how will it hold up against Texas and Oklahoma? Now THAT could be ugly.)

Okie State, having scored 50+ points in its last four games in a row, got five turnovers and held Texas A&M to three three-and-outs in the first half alone from its defense.

Just a side note here when OSU plays Missouri next week, keep an eye on wideout Dez Bryant, who caught three touchdown passes from Zac Robinson and also returned a punt 78 yards for another score. He's the Jeremy Maclin of the Pokes offense.


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Lesson 5-
WE CAN NOW SAFELY SAY THAT TERRELLE PRYOR HAS WON A REAL GAME.

This kid is going to be something else. Winning in volatile Camp Randall Stadium, albeit without the UW band because of hazing allegations (silly band geeks), is a huge first step in his emergence. Cucumber-like, Pryor was 13-of-19 for 144 yards and also ran for the winning touchdown with just over a minute left.

It also helped having Beanie Wells back in form, rushing for 168 yards. I know most of the college football world isn't going to want to hear this, but the Buckeyes are a whole new team now and could be back in contention for the BCS title game with a few breaks here and there. Go ahead, let that statement sift into your brain there.


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Lesson 6-
THE MOST STUNNING, OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH SCORE OF THE DAY WAS VIRGINIA'S COMPLETE WHITE-WASHING OF MARYLAND, 31-0.

Is this the same UVa team we've been seeing lately getting outscored 128-20 by BCS teams? And Maryland, winners over Cal and Clemson recently, had been mentioned as legit contender to Wake Forest for the ACC title, until this.

A new force has emerged behind center as Marc Verica came on to go 25-of-34 for 226 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. And the Terps not even getting a point on the board? Awful.


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Lesson 7-
THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE ADMINISTRATORS AREN'T HAPPY WITH PITTSBURGH.

I can't figure this team out. Do they exist solely to cause heartbreak to fellow Big East teams? Last year it was their upset of West Virginia that knocked the Mountaineers out of the national title game. On Thursday night, it was a 26-21 upset of South Floirda that knocked the Bulls out of the Top 10. Either way, Dave Wannstedt needed a victory like this as the Panthers quietly improve to 4-1 on the season.

Remember that the Panthers are same team that lost their season-opening game to Bowling Green? LeSean McCoy has finally shaken off the cobwebs, going to 142 yards in 28 carries to help salt the game away. It was McCoy's second straight 140+ effort in a row.


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Lesson 8-
BEANO COOK WAS RIGHT: IN THE FUTURE, NO HIGHLY RANKED TEAM IN ITS RIGHT MIND IS GOING TO SCHEDULE A THURSDAY NIGHT GAME.

Only difference from last week's stunning Oregon State upset of No. 1 ranked USC is that this week's Thursday night highjacking came with the ranked team (South Florida) losing at home.

And speaking of the Beavers and Thursday night games, did you notice how close unbeaten Utah came to losing its Thursday night game too? The pesky Beavs nearly pulled off another stunner, ultimately allowing the Utes to score 11 points in the final minute and a half to win 31-28.


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Lesson 9-
WE FOUND OUT WHO THE LOU GROZA AWARD WINNER WILL BE.

Utah's Louie Sakoda.

UtahLouieSakoda.jpg
("King Louie" gets a post game interview after his game-winning kick over Oregon State. This guy's been Mr. Steady for the Utes as they improve to 6-0.)

His 37-yard field goal as time expired kept Utah's BCS dreams alive. Sakoda finished the game going 3-for-3 on the night and is now 13-for-15 on the season. Don't forget, he also went 4-for-4 in the season opening win at Michigan, including one from 53 yards that ended up accounting for the final margin. Sakoda is also averaging 44.9 yards per punt on the season. That's pretty fly for a 5'9" guy.


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Lesson 10-
SAYING THAT YOU BEAT A RANKED TEAM DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING WHEN SAID TEAM TURNS OUT TO BE A SACK OF LIMP FISH A FEW WEEKS LATER.

East Carolina made a big deal out of beating No. 8 West Virginia. UCLA claimed it was "back" on the strength of a win over No. 17 Tennessee. Alabama claims a pair of wins over Top 10 teams, including one over No. 9 Clemson.

Look, wins over those teams and a nickel will get you a cup of jack squat now. WVU is decent at 3-2, but the uncertainty of injured Pat White may ruin its season. UT is celebrating a 13-9 win over Northern Illinois, yes celebrating, and Clemson has been long forgotten in mediocre-land now.


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Lesson 11-
IT'S FUN TO SEE ESPN's GAMEDAY AT A SMART SCHOOL.

Vanderbilt, with its high academic standards and SAT scores held up some of the best signs behind the GameDay crew that we've ever seen, albeit many at the expense of the not-as-academic-based Auburn school they were facing. Here's a top five:

1. My butler went to Auburn.
2. Only at Vanderbilt, QB = valedictorian
3. 4-0 isn't just our GPA anymore
4. I got my G.E.D. at Auburn.
5. Your pickup truck blocked my way to the library.

TulsaUni.jpg
(OMG! How could I not mention Tulsa once in my entire article? The Golden Hurricane sit at 5-0 and are the newest off-road threat to the BCS party. I promise to talk more about them as the victories keep piling up - no pressure fellas. But I will say that TU definitely leads the country in nastiest looking uniforms, as witnessed here.)


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PICTURES FROM THE OREGON-USC GAME.
I covered the Trojans' 44-10 win over Oregon on Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum. Here's a select montage of pictures from before, during and after the game.

ColiseumHeadless.jpg
(When you get to the Coliseum, you are welcomed by a pair of naked, headless, bird-dropping pelted statues standing stately in front of the Peristyle facade of the stadium.)


OregonKid.jpg
(This kid had the coolest game face in the entire stadium. Not bad for a Duck, huh? I dig it.)


USC-UOcoaches.jpg
(The ESPN cameraman catches Pete Carroll and Mike Bellotti chatting it up in the pre-game. I can hear the conversation now... "Mike, tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get my team up by four touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game and then throw a 59-yard TD bomb on you guys. How's that sound?")


BobDavie.jpg
(Wanna know why Bob Davie has a frown on his face? He's probably thinking about how he used to lead his own football team onto the field here at the Coliseum. Now he's merely a color commentator on TV.)


USC-UOmarkJones.jpg
(Mark Jones is in the house. Here the play-by-play honk is on his cell phone as the Trojans take the field behind him.)


OregonCheerleaders.jpg
(I've always thought the Oregon cheerleaders were highly underrated. Here they are getting down during the game.)


OregonCheerleaderBusted.jpg
(Of course, I can't stand when I go to take a picture of them and I get busted by two of the cheerleaders in the process.)


USCtraveller.jpg
(USC's Traveler. The stately horse used to have a whole running track around the field to gallop on after touchdowns. Now, with the track being dug up and more seats put in, the horse has to run on the field. Beware of horse fritters.)


USC-UObackdrop2.jpg
(The peristyle and plaza in the East end zone is one of the more unique backdrops in college football. Too bad the stadium is getting so old and rusty, because it's still a great venue for a game. But the years are catching up with the old dog. Major renovations are still in need.)


UObellotti.jpg
("God, just get me outta here." Oregon coach Mike Bellotti doesn't look like he's in the mood for being interviewed after the game.)


USCmatthewsFam.jpg
(The Matthews family gathers after the game is over. Clay is a Trojan Defensive End and younger brother Casey is a Linebacker for the Ducks. Note the mom wearing the colors of both schools.)


USCmaualuga.jpg
(Well, if you can't play, you might as well take pics with the babes. Rey Maualuga gets a photo op with a young co-ed. Shouldn't he look happier than this?)


USCsanchezPresser.jpg
(Kevin Ellison and Mark Sanchez in the post-game interview room. Both are pretty well spoken. I was impressed that there weren't the usual college football player crutch of "and... uhs" and "you knows" in their speaking with the media.

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