Seminoles, Irish, Kansas State all score big wins
Which team has the best chance to snap the SEC’s BCS Championship streak this January? Four weeks in to the season you may find an answer on both sides of the country with Florida State and Oregon.
The Seminoles were dealt with adversity for the first time this season against Clemson, trailing 21-14 at halftime, but Jimbo Fisher’s team responded in a big way. Florida State made Clemson feel like they were back in the Orange Bowl last January by scoring 35 second-half points to win 49-37 in a crucial ACC Atlantic Division match-up.
For Florida State the task is to now avoid any sort of let down, with a non-conference game at South Florida next week followed by a road trip to North Carolina State. The Seminoles also have road games at Virginia Tech and Miami before the end of the regular season, which wraps up with a home game against the SEC’s Florida Gators – a game that continues to become more interesting by the week with Florida State and Florida putting together some early wins. There is a lot of football to be played, but if Florida State can somehow keep this moving along they will have an excellent chance to represent the ACC in the BCS Championship game for the first time since 2000 (also the last time the ACC was in the championship game).
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Oregon put together a statement victory against one of the revitalized programs in the Pac-12 by dominating Arizona 49-0 late Saturday night. With the win the Ducks showed they can play lockdown defense when it counts, forcing five turnovers and stopping the Wildcats any time they sniffed around the red zone.
Oregon seems to have an easier path to their second BCS Championship Game, but must go on the road in five of their final eight games, including a trip to USC on November 3 and the regular season finale against rival Oregon State, who is now 2-0 with a win at UCLA. Oregon also hosts Stanford on November 17, but if things continue to follow the trend they currently show, the Ducks are still the team to beat in the Pac 12 and they are very capable of running the table all the way to the BCS Championship Game.
Here is this week’s highlight package. You can continue reading after the jump.
No. 1 Alabama rolls, No. 2 LSU escapes
Alabama once again showed why they are the best team in the country in handling Florida Atlantic the way many would expect, winning 40-7 after leading 30-0 at the half. Meanwhile No. 2 LSU struggled against a desperate Auburn team playing at home. Was this a sign that LSU’s offense may be suspect? Perhaps. LSU is ranked 101st in passing offense but they make up for it with the running game, ranked 15th in the nation and a scoring defense holding opponents to just 10.3 points per game. The question becomes how LSU can find a way to win games consistently with an anemic pass offense.
Irish Eyes are Smiling, Again
A week after going in to East Lansing to take down Michigan State, Notre Dame returned home to play another rival from the Big Ten, Michigan. Asked if Notre Dame could do it again with solid defense in shutting down one of the Big Ten’s better offensive weapons in Denard Robinson, the Irish answered in a huge way by forcing six turnovers and holding the Wolverines to a pair of field goals.
Notre Dame now has a real possibility of making some national noise. While it remains to be seen if Notre Dame can figure in to the big picture at the end of the season, the defense has shown they should be taken seriously. What lies ahead for the Irish? Notre Dame gets a week off to prepare for Miami (in Chicago) and then returns home for two games against Stanford and BYU, before heading to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners (more on them in a moment). A road trip to USC comes at the end of the regular season, so there is still plenty of work to be done for the Irish. After a 4-0 start though, everything seems more manageable than it may have at the beginning of the season.
Meanwhile, Michigan has now been held to 20 points against ranked opponents this season, which should be more than enough reason to suggest that any talk of Michigan football being “back” can be put on ice for now.
Oklahoma stumbles to under-appreciated Kansas State
The Sooners came up small against Kansas State, the first real challenge for Bob Stoops and company this season. The Wildcats came to Norman and left with a rare souvenir, a win. Oklahoma rarely loses at home but Kansas State is rarely intimidated under Bill Snyder. Kansas State was embarrassed last season by being blown away by Oklahoma last season in Manhattan and they had to dig deep to rally in the fourth quarter and hold on for the revenge victory.
Defense was the story of the game for Kansas State, with a fumble recovery for a touchdown and holding the Sooners to just four third-down conversions on ten attempts. Kansas State now improves to 4-0 on the strength of a solid defensive unit and a bruising running game and wins over Oklahoma and Miami. Not to look past games, but Kansas State has Iowa State and Kansas standing between them and a road trip to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers. That game already figured to carry some Big 12 championship weight to it, but now the game could have even more riding on it if Kansas State can avoid a letdown and West Virginia can win at Texas on October 6.
Stumbling around the Big Ten
It was another ugly week for the Big Ten, with Michigan losing to Notre Dame, Iowa dropping to Central Michigan on a near last-second field goal and Illinois getting blasted at home by Fresno State, 52-24. Add to that the way Michigan State struggled to put away Eastern Michigan at home and Wisconsin taking some time to get going against UTEP and it was not exactly a great week for the conference.
Can you start to picture a Northwestern vs. Purdue Big Ten championship game yet?
Rutgers the team to beat in the Big East?
Rutgers took advantage of a sinking Arkansas team and left SEC country with a 35-26 victory Saturday. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova tossed five touchdowns, including the 60-yard nail in the coffin for Arkansas pass to Mark Harrison midway through the fourth quarter to pad the Rutgers lead from two to nine points. In all, Rutgers put up 525 yards of offense, with 397 passing yards included. The Scarlet Knights are now 4-0 after playing three road games already this season. Now Rutgers returns home after a bye week for back-to-back games against Connecticut and Syracuse, followed by a road trip to new Big East member Temple. If Rutgers can get through those games without a setback, Rutgers will be positioned well for the last leg of the season, which includes road games at Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh and home against Louisville.
Full story originally posted on Examiner.com by the author.