The Wrapup - Week 6

By Adam Caparell - October 07, 2007

For a while there it was looking like Florida was right back in the thick of things. Leading the No. 1 Tigers on the road, Florida was only a matter of minutes from leaving Baton Rouge with a gigantic win and jumping right back into the national championship picture. But LSU would have none of it.

The top team in the land answered the call, unlike the No. 2 team Saturday, and showed everyone a new element: its ability to persevere.

The credit should go to Les Miles for his bold decisions that paid off for the Tigers. In their four point victory over Florida, LSU was an astounding 5-for-5 on 4th down conversions, the most notable ones coming on their final scoring drive. And because of Miles gambling ways the Tigers showed some incredible heart in surviving the Gators who would not go out quietly.

The Gators hadn't hit that hard in their previous five games or looked as jacked up. And no team was as effective moving the ball and scoring points on the Tigers as the Gators were Saturday until LSU really bore down.

It's a bitter loss for Florida who now finds itself out of the national title picture and among the muck of winners and losers fighting for the SEC East title. Florida did a great job offensively early on, spreading the ball around the field rather than just relying on Tim Tebow to take over or throw it almost exclusively to Percy Harvin. The Gators also got a little running game going, they moved the ball quite well vs. the best defense in the country and really looked poised to pull off the upset in the third quarter.

There was some clever play calling and the intelligence of Tebow allowed the Gators to put up those points and stake Florida to a 10 point lead..Tebow picked his spots beautifully and took advantage of the coverages LSU presented him, most especially on his second quarter touchdown run. But the clamps would come down and we learned the Tigers can raise their game to a new level.

Their rushing attack down the stretch was just too much for Florida to handle as Jacob Hester would simply not be denied. And the Tigers took advantage of two second half turnovers on their way to a 28-24 victory.

The Tigers are the unquestioned No. 1 team in the country. They fought off a team that's Top 5 material, in spite of its loss. And they'll be a unanimous No. 1 Sunday afternoon when the polls come out because of USC's egg.

The other thing we learned today is that The Trojans are not the best team college football has ever seen, as Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh had dubbed USC before the season.

The best team in college football has ever seen doesn't lose to lowly Stanford at home, to a first year Division I-A head coach who happened to be inserting a quarterback into the starting lineup for the first time.

John David Booty is having some issues keeping the ball out of opponent's hands and the defense didn't make a big stop when it really needed one on Stanford's final drive. The one seemingly unbeatable Trojans all of the sudden look very pedestrain after a string of less than stellar outings. It only gets harder from here on out. The Trojans get into the meat of the Pac-10 slate shortly and of course have their meeting with Cal Nov. 10. And now the Bears control their own destiny in the Pac-10.

One loss, especially this early, isn't what's most troubling for USC. Remember they very nearly overcame their one loss last season against Oregon State on their way to the national championship - before UCLA derailed that dream, of course. What's most troubling for the Trojans is the penalties, the offense struggling to put drives together and the mistakes that finally cost the Trojans. They have to stop immediately. Pete Carroll's got a mini-crisis on his hands.

Quick Hits

-- We saw another great game that went down to the wire in the Red River Rivalry (or Shootout, depending on your level of political correctness).

And we also got another glimpse of how good Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford can be. He throws a great ball and with the receivers he has he should consistently put up great numbers. The redshirt freshman rebounded quite nicely from his awful performance in the loss to Colorado when he only completed eight passes. Bradford was 21-of-32 for 244 yards and three scores. More importantly, he didn't throw a pick and had a stretch where he completed 12 straight passes. He was efficient and made some great throws.

And while everyone raves about Malcolm Kelly, I really like Juaquin Igelsias. He's developing a nice little combo with Bradford and is averaging 15.8 yards per reception. Oklahoma has weapons, too many weapons to go away quietly with a second straight loss in the first weekend of October.

As for Texas, they've been called soft by a number of people - several from this organization, including myself - but I don't think the Longhorns played soft today. They did, however, let up a lot of yards on the ground and that really helped open things up for Bradford. I didn't think we'd see Texas give up as many as they did, but they were going up against a very dynamic rushing attack and a pretty good offensive line as well. Plus, the Longhorns allowed far too many third down conversions on the afternoon - nine to be exact.

Texas now finds itself at the bottom of the Big 12 South standings - an unfamiliar place for the Longhorns. Things might have been different had Jamaal Charles held onto that ball and a sure touchdown in the third quarter, but he didn't and the Longhorns are 0-2 in league play for the first time since 1956.

-- Wisconsin was finally exposed one of the most overrated teams in the country after the No. 5 Badgers were handed their first lost since last September by upstart Illinois.

This one shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise considering Wisconsin's inability to stop offenses featuring spread looks, speed to burn and a mobile quarterback - or just teams that just run the ball very well. The Illini just shredded the Badgers defense to the tune of 289 rushing yards today, led by Rashard Mendenhall who had a great game with 160 yards on just 19 carries and 2 TDs. QB Juice Williams added another 92 yards on 14 attempts and the team as a whole averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

Wisconsin just can't seem to stop the run. On their final scoring drive, Illinois' did not throw a pass - they just ran the ball - marching down 71 yards in 4:35 to basically seal the deal. And the struggles for Wisconsin are all the more confounding considering how good the unit was in 2006. Seven starters returned from the 2006 squad that finished fifth in total defense and second scoring defense allowing roughly 114 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers have given up back-to-back 200 yard rushing games. Top 5 teams don't do that and the Badgers are going to drop in the polls - big time - as those poor performances against The Citadel, Iowa and Michigan State before this weekend finally caught up with Wisconsin.

-- How quickly has Clemson fallen off? Virginia Tech looked quite impressive on the road, winning the way Frank Beamer knows best - with defense and special teams. Maybe this will be the game we look back upon as the real starting point for the Hokies run at the ACC title. They have all the talent to do it on the defensive side of the ball. The only question is how much the offense is going to hold them back.

-- Not a particularly good performance out of South Florida today, struggling to put away Florida Atlantic. The defense is much better than that, allowing 23 points (16 in the second half) to an FAU team that had no business sticking around for as long as it did. Chalk it up to a little hangover from the West Virginia win, but if South Florida plays like that next week against UCF, it could very easily get picked off by another upstart Florida program. One thing's for sure, they can't keep turning the ball over like they have.

-- Notre Dame finally won a game, beating a bitterly disappointing UCLA team at home - Karl Dorrell has to be on watch. Notre Dame fans can rest easy knowing their team won't be 0-8 to begin the season with Boston College and USC coming to town the next two weeks.

Yet another example of how wacky this weekend was: not only did Notre Dame get its first win, but so did Temple, UL-Lafayette and ULM. Buffalo and Army also were winners. The Black Knights are actually 3-3 on the season.

Biggest Winners: Illinois, Kansas, Stanford

Biggest Losers: USC, Wisconsin, Georgia, Kansas State

Player of the Day: Tavita Pritchard, QB, Stanford. First ever start at quarterback, he snaps USC's 35-game home winning streak and 24-game home Pac-10 winning streak thanks to his 4th down pass to Mark Bradford with 49 seconds remaining to give the Cardinal their 24-23 victory.

Stat of the Day: 5. If you're the No. 5 team in the nation, expect to get bounced. Five teams that have been ranked fifth in either the AP or coaches at one poinst this season have gone down - Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida, West Virginia and now Wisconsin.

Quote of the Day: "I gamble more than you think." -- LSU coach Les Miles.

Top 10 Teams In The Nation
1. LSU
2. Ohio State
3. Cal
4. Oklahoma
5. Florida
6. Boston College
7. USC
8. South Florida
9. Oregon
10. Virginia Tech

Posted by Adam Caparell at 02:00 AM on October 07, 2007
Comments (1)


um, how is Cal not in the top 10?

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