College Football Week 3: Come quickly, conference play
The Big 12 had its share of games in the national spotlight on opening week. OSU-Georgia and OU-Brigham Young. Last Saturday, Nebraska-Virginia Tech and Texas Tech-Texas were great matchups (and games).
Next week, OU-Miami ranks with USC-Cal as the games of the day.
But in Week 2 and Week 4, the Big 12 offered up nary a game worthy of ABC to telecast.
In Week 2, Houston-OSU turned into a wild showdown, but no one saw it coming. In Week 4, Houston again offers the marquee game for the Big 12 – hosting Texas Tech in a game that will be televised by ESPN2.
There’s a dearth of legitimate September games in the sport, and the Big 12 is as much to blame as any league. Texas plays no marquee non-conference games. Nebraska plays only Virginia Tech. Missouri played only Illinois. Texas A&M plays only Arkansas. Kansas’ best foe is Southern Mississippi. Tech’s is Houston.
The league is top heavy with mismatches. Conference play can’t get here fast enough.
TEN BIGGEST WINNERS OF THE WEEK
10. Florida State quarterbacking: The Seminoles’ decade-long slump can be traced to lack of solid quarterbacking. But Christian Ponder, a junior from the Dallas suburb of Colleyville, is changing that. Ponder completed 21 of 26 passes for 195 yards and two TDs, plus ran 11 times for 77 yards and a touchdown, as the ‘Noles routed Brigham Young 54-32.
9. Florida-Tennessee rivalry: The coaches are sniping and the Volunteers didn’t go down without a fight, losing 23-13. Maybe this rivalry isn’t dead after all.
8. Ryan Mathews: This is what Friday night football does. Elevates unknown players to star status. Fresno State lost 51-34 to Boise State, but college football fans were introduced to this Fresno State junior tailback, who raced to touchdown runs of 69, 60 and 68 yards and now leads the nation in rushing with 149 yards per game.
7. Joe Cox: Remember way back, oh, two weeks ago, when everyone thought Cox couldn’t quarterback? Now he’s led Georgia to 93 points the last two weeks, including a 52-41 victory over Arkansas in which Cox completed 18 of 26 for 375 yards, one interception and five TDs. His two-game total, counting a 41-37 win over South Carolina: 35 of 50 for 576 yards, seven TDs and two interceptions, after a mediocre opener at Oklahoma State.
6. Miami: Halfway home to what would be perhaps the greatest 4-0 start in college football history. The Hurricanes vanquished Georgia Tech 33-17, their second straight ranked victim, and now get Virginia Tech and OU back-to-back.
5. Bravery: You’re a mid-major. On the road against a Big Ten school. You lead by seven with 3:44 left in the game and face 4th-and-2 at your own 16-yard line. What do you do? If you’re Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill, you go into punt formation, snap the ball to the up man and watch Justin Anderson ramble 11 yards for a first down. By the time Northern Illinois punted, Purdue had 25 seconds left and 80 yards to go. Final score: Northern Illinois 28, Purdue 21. Jerry Kill is my new favorite coach.
4. Jahvid Best: The California star has staked his claim as America’s best tailback, with five touchdown runs and 131 yards in a 35-21 win at Minnesota. With all the star quarterbacks either injured or playing so-so, Best could make a Heisman dash.
3. Cincinnati: Don’t look now, but the Bearcats could be headed for Pasadena. They’ve already won at Rutgers and Oregon State (28-18 last Saturday); their remaining road games are at Miami-Ohio, South Florida, Syracuse and Pitt.
2. Steve Sarkisian: Few coaches with a 2-1 career record have been hotter than this former BYU quarterback and USC offensive coordinator. Washington had won two of its previous 23 games going into 2009, but the Huskies are 2-1 after that 16-13 upset of Southern Cal.
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