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By Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com
EUGENE, Ore. -- What does a Bear do in the woods?For two decades, the California Bears had lost each time they had ventured into the great Northwest to play Oregon at Autzen Stadium. But thanks to star receiver DeSean Jackson and a defense that forced the Oregon Ducks into four turnovers in the second half, California might have been the biggest winner in a wild weekend that college football rarely has experienced.
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DeSean Jackson vaulted back into the Heisman race.
By Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com
If you do it once, it might be a fluke. If you do it twice, there's a pattern. In two consecutive seasons, South Florida has shut down the West Virginia offense, that mix of spread and option that has bedeviled the Big East ever since Rich Rodriguez installed it in Morgantown nearly a decade ago.
Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images
Steve Slaton and the West Virginia offense found the going tough against South Florida.
"See, I'm old," Burnham said. "I've been around option football. A lot of the young bucks haven't been around option football. We used to play Nebraska when I was at Florida State. That's where I got all my experience. If you sat down and got technical about it, it's really simple. It's execution by the kids. It's effort. All those things, and wanting to play hard, and make plays, and do that as a team, as one body. That's the way you have to play against a team like West Virginia."
South Florida doesn't have the biggest defense. But the Bulls run fast and tackle sure. West Virginia had nearly as many turnovers (six) as plays of 20 yards or more (eight). Burnham's defense goes through tackling drills every Tuesday and Wednesday. If you miss a tackle Saturday, you drill Monday night, too: 10 hits on the tackling sled for every missed tackle.
"If you don't preach it, you're not gon' get it," Burnham said. But he acknowledged that a defense laden with seniors helps.
"They are flying around, being real aggressive," Burnham said. "You can coach that and you're not going to get it every time on some teams. This team responds to that because of the leadership they have out there. They don't let each other mess around very much."
By David Albright, ESPN.com
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- In the closing seconds of Saturday's 33-19 loss, Notre Dame players were serenaded with chants of "0 and 5!" by the Purdue student section. That was followed by a series of home team "Plays of the Game" on the new south end zone video board as the Irish tried to avert their eyes and the ND band played the alma mater.At least the Irish were competitive ... in the second half ... against the 5-0 Boilermakers. Notre Dame scored with 7:58 left in the game to reduce the deficit to 26-19. But Charlie Weis' club couldn't close the gap and had to find some consolation in a 14-point loss -- the closest ND has come to not losing this month.
Matt Cashore/US PRESSWIRE
Golden Tate (No. 23) caught three passes -- including this touchdown -- for 104 yards.
Dare to dream.
By Tim Griffin, Special to ESPN.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- Kansas State coach Ron Prince knew his special teams would have to play well to sneak out of Royal Memorial Stadium with an upset.But he probably didn't realize how much special-teams play would matter in the Wildcats' stunning 41-21 triumph over Texas. Big plays helped stake the Wildcats to their first road victory over a top-10 opponent in school history. "We felt we would need four turnovers on defense and two special-teams touchdowns in order to win," Prince said.
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Jordy Nelson, who caught a TD pass here, was an unlikely candidate to score on a punt return.
"Jordy's the people's champ," Prince said. "We said during the week that if he brought back a punt, the house might go down for our side. I don't know how fast he is, but nobody ever catches him."
By Adam Rittenberg, Special to ESPN.com
EVANSTON, Ill. -- If you choose to believe Michigan, the quarterbacking sequence was all by design, all part of a master plan.
And maybe it was. Quarterback Chad Henne's triumphant return to the Wolverines offense in Saturday's 28-16 win over Northwestern certainly had plenty of drama. It affirmed Henne as the Wolverines' best quarterback, the leader who can rescue a season that began with national championship hopes but derailed with back-to-back home losses.
Jerry Lai/US Presswire
Chad Henne started and later came off the bench to rescue the Wolverines.
Henne, who had missed the previous two games with a sprained right knee, started and led the Wolverines on an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. But he departed after the first possession, only to watch freshman Ryan Mallett struggle.
Northwestern held Michigan to just 87 yards the rest of the half. Mallett completed just five of 11 passes, and Mike Hart had only 30 rushing yards as the Wolverines trailed 16-7 at halftime.
"A lot of the trainers knew that I could really play the whole game," Henne said. "I felt I could, but you get thrown in there, and you never know what's going to happen.
"It was tough watching it."
The plan was to reinstate Henne for the second half. Turns out, the game situation demanded it. And the senior responded, passing for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score to Adrian Arrington with 9:53 left.
Although Michigan's defense clinched the game by forcing four turnovers in the final 10:42, Henne's role in the comeback could not be downplayed.
"We did not feel it was in his best interest to play the whole game," Carr said. "Our idea was we'd start him the opening drive, get him back in the flow, and then start him in the second half and see how things went.
"He was just outstanding."
Asked to describe the differences between the two Wolverines quarterbacks, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald tried to be diplomatic.
"I don't know if there was anything different about facing each one," Fitzgerald said. "Except one's a senior and one's a freshman."
Fitzgerald sighed, realizing the discrepancy in experience helped ruin his team's upset hopes.
"There's a guy out there with a ton of confidence in Chad, who's been through a lot of Big Ten football games like this," Fitzgerald said. "In my opinion, he's one of the best in the country."
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.com
|Lost to (opp. rank at time of game)|
|No. 1 USC||Undefeated|
|No. 2 LSU||Undefeated|
|No. 3 West Virginia||L, at No. 18 South Florida|
|No. 4 Texas||L, vs. Kansas St. (unranked)|
|No. 5 Michigan||L, vs. Appalachian St. (unranked)
L, vs. Oregon (unranked)
|No. 6 Florida||L, vs. Auburn (unranked)|
|No. 7 Wisconsin||Undefeated|
|No. 8 Oklahoma||L, at Colorado (unranked)|
|No. 9 Virginia Tech||L, at No. 2 LSU|
|No. 10 Louisville||L, at Kentucky (unranked)
L, vs. Syracuse (unranked)
If Oct. 6 already has been billed as Blockbuster Saturday, perhaps Sept. 29 should go down in history as Spoiler Saturday. Oh, what could have been.
If not for a stunning seven of the top 13 teams in the AP poll suffering a loss this weekend -- five of them to unranked teams -- we would have been preparing ourselves for four undefeated-versus-undefeated showdowns this coming Saturday: Florida-LSU, Oklahoma-Texas, Cincinnati-Rutgers and Ohio State-Purdue. Instead, we got a shakedown that saw five top-10 teams lose in the same weekend for the first time in four years and saw two more (USC and Wisconsin) squeeze out three-point victories over unranked teams. So we now are left with only Ohio State-Purdue in the Battle of the Unbeatens.
But if there is one thing we did get out of the weekend, it is further proof of the absurdity of preseason polls. We just now are completing our first month of college football and already the preseason top 10 looks as dated as the fumblerooski. Other than USC, LSU and Wisconsin, no top 10 team made it out of September without at least one loss. Two of them (Michigan and Louisville) lost twice.
By Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.com
Breaking a single-season receiving record at a pass-happy school like Texas Tech is impressive. Breaking that record in just the fifth game of your collegiate career is downright ridiculous. In Tech's 75-7 destruction of Northwestern State, redshirt freshman Michael Crabtree hauled in three more touchdown passes, upping his season total to 14.
That not only breaks the program's single-season TD record less than halfway through the season, but it also ties Crabtree for the NCAA's all-time freshman record, currently shared by Jabar Gaffney (Florida, 2000), Mike Williams (USC, 2002) and Davone Bess (Hawaii, 2005). The Dallas native already has 60 catches for 920 yards and has tallied three TDs in four of his five games, grabbing a measly two in the other. It all adds up to a truly mind-boggling season projection. If he somehow continues on this pace -- and this isn't even counting a potential bowl game -- Crabtree will finish the season with numbers that will look like they came straight from a Playstation on steroids: 144 catches, 2,208 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns.
And just wait until next year, once he works out all those freshman kinks and all.
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.com
Arizona State winning a Pac-10 game in the state of California? Cal winning a big road game anywhere? Both are extremely rare, yet both occurred Saturday.
Start with Cal, which won its first road game against a top 25 team since Jeff Tedford's debut season of 2002. The No. 6 Golden Bears prevailed in their showdown against No. 11 Oregon, the highest-ranked opponent Cal has defeated on the road since winning on Sept. 27, 1969, at No. 10 Indiana. It also marked the first time in 16 years the Bears won a road game between ranked teams.
As for the Sun Devils, they won a conference game in Cali for the first time since the last millennium. Before winning 41-3 at Stanford, Arizona State had dropped 14 straight Pac-10 games in the state, last winning in 1999 at USC. Interestingly enough, the team's next trip to the Golden State (Oct. 27 at Berkeley) will give Dennis Erickson his first crack at turning around another one of ASU's blackeyes. Under the previous regime of Dirk Koetter, the Devils were a paltry 2-19 against ranked teams.
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.com
Perhaps we shouldn't have been all that stunned by Auburn's win at Florida on Saturday. Sure, the Gators were riding an 11-game overall win streak and never had lost at The Swamp under Urban Meyer. But that was no match for the Tigers' penchant for big-game victories. Remarkably, Auburn has won five straight and nine of its past 10 games against top 10 teams, with the only loss coming after John Vaughn missed his fifth field goal in overtime in 2005 at LSU. Meanwhile, the Gators have won all but two of their past 21 games. Those two losses? Both to Auburn.
|Auburn vs. Florida teams ranked in top 4|
|Florida rank||Auburn result|
Want some more reasons why Auburn's victory shouldn't have been considered shocking? Since Tommy Tuberville arrived on the Plains in 1999, he is a perfect 5-0 against top 5 teams. His Tigers also have won an incredible 12 of their past 13 SEC road games. In addition, Auburn teams apparently have no problem facing top-notch Gator squads. In their past six games against Florida teams ranked in the top 4, the Tigers have won all but one of them. All but one.