Both Missouri and Texas Tech Lose and a Dozen Top 25 Teams Jockey for a BCS Bowl Bid as 4 Others Log Lame Victories

Two unbeaten teams—the #5 Missouri Tigers and the #10 Texas Tech Red Raiders—were among 4 AP Top 25 teams who were upset in major college football’s 9th week of play.

The #20 South Carolina Gamecocks, down 17-0 after 3 quarters and looking in big trouble after invading Missouri, allowed an injured Conner Shaw to come off the bench in the 4th quarter and engineer 17 points to tie the game.

After Missouri’s Andrew Baggett blew a 24-yard filed goal in overtime, Shaw led South Carolina (6-2) to a victory when Elliott Fry nailed a 40-yard field goal in the 2nd overtime to win, 27-24. That’s college football, folks, far more exciting than pro football, and multiple teams prove it every Saturday. The Tigers are now 7-1 and hardly wiser for the exercise.

The #17 Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) decided than Sooner was better than later, upending #17 Texas Tech 38-30.  The Raiders and now also 7-1, and wondering what happened. The Sooners, on the other hand, know what happened.

Minnesota’s unranked Golden Gophers, long a doormat in the Big Ten (which actually has 12 teams but refuses to change its name because the Big 12 is already taken), decided to come of age in front of their home fans, upsetting #25 Nebraska, 34-23.

The best part of any Nebraska game, besides the Cornhuskers getting beat, is watching Head Coach Bo Pelini explode on the sideline. Pelini told his team that they needed some “soul searching” after losing to Minnesota.

Pelini is a real piece of work. He could go to an anger management class for a year and still not be in control of himself. Yes, college football is exciting, both on the field and on the sidelines when Pelini is around.

The biggest upset of the week found unranked Duke on-the-road at #16 Virginia Tech and winning, 13-10. Duke (now 6-2 and bowl eligible) looks better than Virginia Tech at 6-2. Three cheers for the Blue Devils, who outplayed the Hokies.

There is some really serious jockeying going on among a dozen ranked teams who are in the hunt for a BCS bowl bid. They understand that it is not enough to just win at this point in the season, you have to win big and dominate to make the right impression with AP Poll voters. To make a dent in the rankings, a ranked team has to beat an unranked team by at least 21 points, and a ranked team has to beat another ranked team by at least 14 points, otherwise, the victory is lame at best.

Without fanfare, here are the teams (and their margins of victory) that got the job done this week:

+49 – #4 Ohio State (8-0) over unranked Penn State, 63-14.

+45 – #6 Baylor (7-0) over unranked Kansas, 59-14.

+45 – #21 Central Florida (6-1) over unranked Connecticut, 62-17.

+39 – #23 Northern Illinois (8-0) over unranked Eastern Michigan, 59-20.

+35 – #1 Alabama (8-0) over unranked Tennessee, 45-10.

+35 – #11 Auburn (7-1) over unranked Florida Atlantic, 45-10

+32 – #3 Florida State (7-0) over unranked North Carolina State, 49-17.

+32 – #13 LSU (7-2) over unranked, 1-AA Furman, 48-16.

+32 – #14 Texas A&M (6-2) over unranked Vanderbilt, 56-24.

+31 – #18 Louisville (7-1) over unranked South Florida, 34-3.

+31 – #19 Oklahoma State (6-1) over unranked Iowa State, 58-27.

+28 – #2 Oregon (8-0) over #12 UCLA, 42-14.

Some thoughts:

1) If the top 5 teams left that are unbeaten all win out, only Alabama, Oregon, Florida
State and Ohio State have a chance to be in the national championship game. Baylor does not stand a chance because of its weak schedule. The Bears will next face #13 Oklahoma, the first ranked team they have played all year, followed by #15 Texas Tech and then #18 Oklahoma State.

2) Ohio State’s 49-point victory margin over unranked Penn State is not nearly as impressive as Oregon’s 28-point victory margin over UCLA. Alabama and Oregon have currently both played tougher schedules than Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor.

Four ranked teams had lame victories this week, led by the #7 Miami Hurricanes (7-0), who could only beat an unranked, 4-4 Wake Forest team by a field goal, 24-21.

#8 Stanford (7-1) had its hands full at unranked Oregon State (6-2), winning by only 8 points, 20-12. #9 Clemson needed three 4th quarter touchdowns at unranked Maryland (5-3), winning by 13 points, 40-27. #15 Fresno State (spotless at 7-0) had its hands full at unranked San Diego State (3-4), winning by only 7 points, 35-28.

Three unranked teams with only a single loss won again. Michigan State (7-1) beat unranked Illinois, 42-3. Houston (6-1) downed unranked Rutgers, 49-14, and Ball State (8-1) defeated Akron, 42-24. The win paid the most dividends for the Michigan State Spartans, who jumped into the AP Top 25 Poll at #24, one notch below arch-rival Michigan at #23.

The Washington Huskies, who started their season at 4-0, played Stanford head-to-head before losing by 4, were hammered by Oregon, losing by 21, and then got ripped a new one at Arizona State, are now back on track, stomping a mud hole in California, 41-17.

Despite the 3 losses, Washington is the best 5-3 team in the country and, among the Top 25 Sagarin rated teams, has played the 3rd toughest schedule (16th). Georgia has played the toughest (#1) and Stanford the second toughest (#9). Washington at 5-3 is currently rated 18th nationally by Sagarin.

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