Week Six: Monday
WEEKEND IN REVIEW
Game of the Week
USC 38, Arizona State 28
It is a bit unusual to see a two score game as the Game of the Week, but who could watch this game without getting glued to it. The Sun Devils jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead. We all should know by now that the only way to beat USC is to jump out to a big first half lead and then try to hold on in the second half. When USC scored two early third quarter touchdowns, the game looked to be over, as the Trojans had all the momentum. But the Sun Devils hung tough, and the defense hung in there. When USC scored to take their first lead of the game halfway through the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils immediately responded with a touchdown. The Trojans responded with a touchdown of their own, but no one thought the game was over. The Sun Devils were looking good before an interception basically ended the game. It was the biggest test #1 USC has faced yet this year.
Upset of the Week
Middle Tennessee 17, Vanderbilt 15
It was a shocking development for so many reasons. The Commodores were 4-0, looking for a shocking 5-0 start. The Blue Raiders were 0-3, looking to get off the winless block. With Middle Tennessee having won the last two times these two teams played, people figured surely Vanderbilt wouldn't overlook them. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. All that is for sure is that the Commodores couldn't find a way to beat the Blue Raiders. Vandy drove from their own one foot line well into field goal range for a last second field goal. But the Blue Raiders blocked the kick and preserved the win. Any time a Sun Belt team beats an SEC team it is a big deal. Suddenly that LSU-Vanderbilt game this weekend looks a whole lot less intriguing.
Player of the Week
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
This was a very difficult decision this week as a lot of players had huge games in the spotlight. Quinn completed 29 of 36 passes for 440 yards and three touchdowns against Purdue in primetime. It was a road win for the Irish, 49-28. The score is not indicative of how big of a blowout this was for Notre Dame. They dominated from the beginning to the end, and Quinn had a monster game. Purdue had hammered Notre Dame in recent years, so this was quite a switch from the norm for the Irish. Quinn absolutely looked like a Heisman Trophy contender for this game. Now, onto USC and trying to get that first home win of the Charlie Weis era.
Team of the Week
Alabama Crimson Tide
Welcome back to college football, Alabama! It was a stunning performance by the Crimson Tide against the Florida Gators this past Saturday. The 31-3 win was so total, so complete, that there is suddenly national championship talk in Tuscaloosa. Brodie Croyle should be mentioned in the Heisman Trophy discussion. The one bad piece of news is that Tyrone Prothro, the star playmaker for the Tide, broke his leg in the fourth quarter and will miss the rest of the year. Can the offense still be as explosive without him? The Gators went from national title contenders to wondering where they fit in in the whole scheme of the SEC race. The Tide suddenly have to be considered the favorites in the whole SEC.
Stat of the Week
55 passes and 431 yards...for a Nebraska quarterback?!?!
Zac Taylor has come into Nebraska's offense and may have finally started to catch on to how Bill Callahan wants it to be run. He threw the ball 55 times for 431 yards in the double overtime win against Iowa State. Remember the days when Nebraska ran the option? No one would have ever expected to see the day that a quarterback could be as solid as Taylor was on Saturday. He didn't throw any interceptions either. He still looked a little off sometimes, but for the most part, this was a highly successful game for the Nebraska offense. Just scoring 13 points in regulation wasn't good, and that has to be a cause for concern for the Cornhusker faithful, but seeing Taylor looks like he understands the offense has to give them some hope.
Play of the Week
Domata Peko returns a fumble for a touchdown
The big Michigan State defensive lineman picked up a Chad Henne fumble and then started rumbling down the field. Domata Peko is a big man. He rumbled down the field 74 yards, jumping over a Michigan defender to get into the endzone. It was truly a remarkable play that reminded me of the Troy offensive lineman running down the field for a touchdown last year against Missouri. Peko's run was in a losing cause, but that is of little importance, because if you saw this play, you will probably remember it for a long time.
Turnover of the Week
Sam Keller's late interception against USC
Sam Keller and the Sun Devils were trailing 31-28 against USC late in the fourth quarter. Keller fired a pass high to Derek Hagan, his best receiver. Hagan had the ball in his hands, but almost seemed to bat the ball forward. As it came forward, it wound up in the arms of freshman Kevin Ellison of USC. That interception locked up the game for the Trojans. The momentum was gone from Arizona State and they trailed by three and now didn't have the ball...or much of a chance of slowing down the bus that was the USC offense at that point in the game.
Key First Half Moment of the Week
Jonathan Wade's interception return for a touchdown
Tennessee's Jonathan Wade returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of their game against Mississippi. This gave the Vols a 14-0 lead on Ole Miss. At that point, the realization that the Vols were not going to sleepwalk past Ole Miss set in. They had come ready to play early against the Rebels after an emotional Monday win against LSU. The game was basically over at the point that Wade returned the pick for a touchdown. From there, the Vols did sleep walk a bit, but still won comfortably, 27-10.
Moment of the Week
Garrett Rivas' redemption
Garrett Rivas missed a 27 yard field goal in the last minute of regulation that would have won the game for Michigan against Michigan State. Then in overtime, he nailed a 35 yarder to beat the Spartans, 34-31. The field goal was particularly dramatic because of his earlier miss. It was a wonderful way for the Wolverines to come up with the victory.