The result of a wild week 7 is an onslaught of one-loss teams all jostling for recognition. Looking around the power conferences, that includes the following, in no particular order. Losses in parentheses, home losses bolded:
Florida State (NC State)
South Carolina (LSU)
Texas A&M (Florida)
Georgia (South Carolina)
Northwestern (Penn State)
Oklahoma (Kansas State)
West Virginia (Texas Tech)
Texas Tech (Oklahoma)
TCU (Iowa State)
Arizona State (Missouri)
The worst loss is on the list is probably Florida State’s followed by ASU’s. But the ‘Noles do have the win over Clemson balancing out that upset. TCU’s home loss would be worse if not for the circumstances surrounding Casey Pachall’s arrest and suspension. The “best” loss on the list is LSU; a road loss to Florida, with the Gators looking every bit a top 5 team, is nothing to be ashamed of even though the Bayou Bengals could have fallen in the weeks leading to that game. Oklahoma’s upset loss to K-State isn’t bad either; the Wildcats look good heading into next week’s clash with WVU.
But before we get to that particular tilt, let’s look back on the best and worst of week 7.
Best Win of The Week, Week 3: Oregon State 42, BYU 24 in Provo
It didn’t carry the importance of a premier SEC matchup or a long-standing rivalry, but this game had a lot riding on it for the Beavers. The Pac 12’s other unbeaten team from the state of Oregon was climbing the polls, steadily making an impact on the national stage before quarterback Sean Mannion went down with a knee injury. Suddenly the team that has surprised everyone by toppling Wisconsin and UCLA found itself an underdog against BYU.
Talk about a reversal of fortune. The #10 team in the nation loses one guy and suddenly they are, according to Vegas, looking up at the 4-2 Cougars, a team that mustered a grand total of 12 points in it last two meaningful games. Not only was BYU favored at home, but the spread was more than a token field goal; Oregon State was getting 5.5. It had to rankle Mike Riley and company, this lack of respect. Though Mannion was obviously a crucial part of the team’s success, there have been 21 other guys out there helping to establish this program as a contender.
Beyond that, no one was talking about the QB switch on the other side of the field; BYU had lost freshman starter Taysom Hill and had to revert to senior Riley Nelson. The former was out for the season while the latter tried to rebound from “back fractures”. Evidently the bookmakers didn’t consider this swap to be as detrimental to BYU’s chances as Cody Vaz’s entrance was to Oregon State. All Vaz did, in his first start since high school, was complete 20 of 32 passes for 332 yard and three touchdowns.
Not a bad debut.
Vaz avoided mistakes all day, refusing to beat himself or to help BYU cover the spread that looked increasingly foolish as the game went on. The game was surprisingly fast-paced with an incredible amount of scoring, considering the circumstances. A new QB on one side, and on the other a team that, excluding the 47-0 win over lowly Hawai’i, was averaging fewer than 16 points per game against FBS opponents. BYU topped that average with a quarter still to play. This was no scraggly six-point effort by the Cougars offense. Though Oregon State was in control throughout, BYU matched the Beavers touchdown for touchdown to keep things close. Vaz connected with Markus Wheaton in the first quarter to open the scoring, and BYU answered with a Jamaal Williams plunge from the one yardline. The Vaz-to-Wheaton connection struck again late in the first, but the Cougars stiffened and shut out OSU in the second quarter while knotting the game on Nelson’s lone touchdown pass of the day.
The third quarter was another draw as tailback Storm Woods and Williams swapped TD runs. But early in the fourth, Vaz found Colby Prince for his third scoring strike of the day to put OSU up 28-21. BYU tried to answer yet again, and plowed to the OSU ten yardline. But a key sack by Scott Crichton knocked the Cougars back on third down, forcing a Justin Sorensen field goal. It seemed to be a turning point in the game, which, thereafter, was dominated by Oregon State.
Up by four, the Beavers leveraged a pair of pass interference calls to put together a 77-yard touchdown drive. On the ensuing possession, Nelson ended BYU’s chance with an interception that Jordan Poyer returned 47 yards for a score. Another Nelson pick, his third of the day, iced it and set the final score at 42-24. The OSU defense limited BYU to 81 rushing yards, and through Riley Nelson threw for 300+ he was forced into three turnovers. With a stellar performance by its backup QB and a monster fourth quarter, Oregon State proved it’s more than just one good player.
Honorable Mention: LSU 23, South Carolina 21 in Baton Rouge
If you look at the box score, you’ll wonder how this was a two-point game. The Tigers outgained SC 406 yards to 211, possessed the ball for nearly 37 minutes, and won the turnover battle. LSU’s rushing attack, led by Jeremy Hill’s 124 yards on 17 carries, paved the way for this bounce-back win.
Worst Win of the Week: Ohio State 52, Indiana 49 in Bloomington
For the second consecutive week the Hoosiers are hard-luck losers. First a Spartan comeback ruined a perfectly wonderful first half, then an Indiana rally ran out of time against the vaunted Buckeyes.
Ohio State has been winning ugly all year. This is the team that barely beat Cal at home– a Cal team that, at that time, had zero FBS wins. The team that was dismantled by Nebraska before waking up and turning the tide against the Cornhuskers. The team that looked lackluster against the likes of UAB. Ohio State has a few nice wins in it pocket now, but they haven’t been particularly convincing. And this week 7 “triumph” may have been the worst of all.
OSU simply couldn’t separate from Indiana. It’s not that the game ever really seemed in doubt; the Buckeyes controlled the ball for more than 36 minutes, outgained Indiana by nearly 100 yards, and featured a dominant ground game. They outscored the Hoosiers in each of the first three quarters. All of this was to be expected, yet the Buckeyes couldn’t pull away.
Some of that inability was due to the self-inflicted wounds, like a 35-yard missed field goal by Drew Basil. Like a Braxton Miller interception in the endzone that turned OSU points into an IU touchback. Like ten penalties for 91 yards. For the record, the Bucks now rank 99th out of 120 FBS teams (excluding the four reclassifying programs) in penalty yards per game. They’ve accrued 56 fouls for a total of 492 yards in their seven matchups.
In contrast, OSU has a few spectacular plays as well. Miller found wideout Devin Smith on touchdown passes of 46 and 60 yards. Miller ran for a 67-yard score of his own. On this day, the offense actually looked pretty good. It was the defense that nearly fumbled away the victory.
Ohio State allowed 481 yards to Indiana. Defensive breakdowns and busted coverage allowed a 76-yard TD strike from QB Cameron Coffman to Shane Wynn and a 59-yard scoring rumble by running back Stephen Houston. Ten different IU receivers caught passes, and eight had catches of 12 yards or more.
But the lowlight of the game was a fourth quarter that saw a lazy Buckeye defense surrender 15 points in three minutes. OSU went up 45-27 to open the period and appeared to be ready to pull away. But Indiana answered, as it had all day, to make it 45-34. Ohio State scored again as the teams went back and forth, and up 52-34 were still in full control. That changed quickly. Freshman QB Nate Sudfield finished off a 74-yard march with a 12-yard pass to Duwyce Wilson. Then, just as it had in the first half against Michigan State, Indiana recovered the ensuing onside kick.
The previous TD drive had take just over two minutes. This one took 35 seconds. Working with the short field, Sudfield found Houston from 25 yards out, and a Cody Latimer run added a two-point conversion. In desperation, Indiana pooched the kickoff but couldn’t recover; apparently, trying two straight onside kicks wasn’t in the gameplan. So the Buckeyes escaped with the win, but there’s clearly a lot of work to do in Columbus.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Notre Dame 20, Stanford 13 (OT) in South Bend
I already blasted this game in our rankings column, so I won’t beat a dead horse. But Notre Dame looked awful, offensively. And if not for the blown call, who knows what might have happened in overtime.
Upset of the Week: Texas Tech 49, West Virginia 14 in Lubbock
Oh boy. Just when we were thinking that the Mountaineers’ offense looked unstoppable, it decided to come to a jarring, abrupt and complete stop. This was a team that entered week 7 with an average of 52 points per game. Averaging 571 yards per game. Texas Tech came into the game as a good team with a potentially great defense, but the thought of the Red Raiders holding WVU to 14 points was unthinkable.
If there was an upset to be found here, surely it would be a high-scoring shootout type, akin to the Mountaineers’ win over Baylor. Right?
Instead, we got a contest that was no contest. This was every bit as lopsided as the score suggests, and though West Virginia racked up some garbage time yardage with a pair of 73-yard drives, that Texas Tech defense more than proved itself.
Late in the third quarter WVU had amassed only 262 yards and seven points. Those totals are more reflective of the kind of day the Mountaineers had. The extra TD and the final total of 408 yards from scrimmage are misleading; WVU wasn’t even that good.
There was a moment, early in the first quarter, when it it seemed like we might get the shootout we wanted. Texas Tech had taken its opening possession 75 yards for a touchdown. After stopping WVU on fourth down, the Raiders went another 69 yards to make it 14-0. But then Geno Smith did his thing with a five-play, 54-yard drive that took only 1:39 to trim the score to 14-7. Fans on both sides settled in for what was sure to be a high-octane affair.
Except that drive ended up being WVU’s only real success. The Mountaineers’ next nine possessions ended with four punts, four failed fourth-down conversions, and halftime.
During that incredible string of failed drives, Texas Tech gifted the Mountaineers with a Seth Doege interception and a Kenny Williams fumble. But WVU could do nothing. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders worked around those turnovers, a punt, and a missed field goal to post five more touchdowns.
Doege was brilliant aside from the pick, tearing up the WVU secondary to the tune of six scores and 499 yards on 32 of 42 passing. The by-committee ground game added 168 more to get to TTU’s total of 676. Eleven different receivers caught passes in the all-out aerial assault.
Honorable Mention: Iowa 19, Michigan State 16 in East Lansing
Yikes, Sparty. Things were bad before week 7, but now they’re dire. Falling to an Iowa squad that has had a host of on- and off-field problems all year long is certainly a new low point on season rife with low points. Now the rivalry game with Michigan looms, and already MSU is sporting three losses.
Blowout of the Week: Oklahoma 63, Texas 21 in Dallas
We didn’t get a very competitive Red River Rivalry game last year. The hope was the 2012 would offer something more exciting. Unless you’re a fan of one-sided Sooner beatdowns, that didn’t happen. Prior to a pair of garbage time TDs that made this appear respectable (it wasn’t), Texas had a grand total of 130 yards on 13 possessions. It’s hard to put into words how ineffective the Longhorns’ offense was.
AND THE GAME BALLS GO TO…
Strobl: Colby Cameron, QB- Louisiana Tech
In what might have been the biggest game in La Tech history, Cameron found his Bulldogs trailing 21-0 after one quarter. 27-0 after the first 25 minutes. This game should have been over. Instead, Louisiana Tech refused to be rolled. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel got all the accolades for compiling 576 total yards (395 passing) and six total touchdowns. And that praise was well-deserved. But Cameron, working from behind under do-or-die conditions, finished with 450 yards on 44 of 58 passing (76%), five touchdowns, and no interceptions. He added another 25 yards rushing and brought the Bulldogs all the way back before ultimately falling 59-57. This is a WAC team hanging with an SEC newbie that could and should have had this game under control after a hot start. Cameron’s persistence was simply incredible.
John Mitchell: Cody Vaz, QB- Oregon State
With starting QB Sean Mannion out, many people (including myself) didn’t like Oregon State’s chances of going on the road and knocking off BYU. But, junior backup Cody Vaz stepped in and delivered a brilliant performance against a Top-5 defense to lead the Beavers to a 42-24 victory to move to 5-0. Vaz seamlessly stepped in for Mannion by completing 20-of-32 passes for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns. Vaz had yet to throw a pass all season long, but when called upon Vaz stepped up to keep Oregon State undefeated.
Zach Bigalke: Seth Doege, QB- Texas Tech
A lot of the credit for Texas Tech’s victory over West Virginia has to go to the revamped defense in Lubbock. After being an afterthought for so long during Mike Leach’s tenure, Tommy Tuberville’s commitment to preventing opposition points has been a big part of the Red Raider resurgence. But credit must also go to Doege, who outgunned the Heisman front-runner and exposed the Mountaineer defense more fully than any other team has this season. Completing 32-of-42 for 499 yards, Doege threw six touchdown passes on the WVU secondary. He added five carries for 28 yards, pushing his total offensive production over 500 yards (78% of Tech’s total output). If you take away his first-quarter numbers (11-for-18, 166 yards, 2 TD/1 INT) he was damn near perfect (21-of-24, 333 yards, 4 TD/0 INT). As the upset blowout progressed, Doege only got better.