Another college football weekend in is the books, and although there was a lack of big time ranked teams going against one another, the weekend provided some real drama.
The Oregon Ducks were idle this week, and retained their No. 2 ranking in the AP poll. They now prepare for the University of Arizona Wildcats in a “pay-back” game on Thursday night in Autzen Stadium.
Other Playoff Contenders
Florida State Seminoles
The top-ranked defending national champion Florida State had their leader back, as Heisman winning quarterback Jameis Winston returned from his one game suspension to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack on the road. Although they were back to full strength, this matchup proved to be just as difficult, if not more, than their nail-biter against Clemson at home last week.
NC State was undefeated, yet unproven, and behind an energized home crowd, they jumped out to a 24-7 lead after the first quarter.
However, Winston turned in another great game as the Seminoles scored 49 points over the final 3 quarters, and ended up winning, 56-41. FSU was a white-hot 8-11 on third downs, and should retain their top ranking as a result of their victory.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide hosted the unranked yet dangerous Florida Gators in an SEC matchup, and they put together a very consistent performance. Amari Cooper of Alabama, who might be the best receiver in the country, put up an amazing stat line, 10 catches, 3 touchdowns, and more than 200 yards!
While Lane Kiffin was often a punch line when he coached in the Pac-12, as an OC, he has the ‘Bama offense clicking so far, and they ended up winning, 42-21.
The Oklahoma Sooners, ranked 4th, had a bye week, as well. They are now preparing to hit the road to face off with the 25th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs.
The Auburn Tigers dispatched Louisiana Tech at home to the tune of a 45-17 home win. Nick Marshall was incredibly efficient at quarterback, throwing for 3 touchdowns despite only having 10 completions. The lack of production through the air will have to improve as they will welcome the 15h-ranked LSU Tigers in a big-time SEC contest next week.
As of right now, the only serious Pac-12 playoff contender — other than Oregon – is UCLA. The Bruins traveled to the desert in order to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils, and they put on a clinic.
To be fair, ASU was without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly, although his highly-touted backup Mike Bercovici did show some promise. Bercovici showed his inexperience, however, surrendering the ball 3 times including a momentum-killing pick-6 right before halftime. UCLA ended up winning 62-27, and they were firing on all cylinders even as they headed for the post-game locker room.
Brett Hundley returned from injury with a vengeance, throwing for 4 touchdowns, and Ishmael Adams handled the rest of the game, returning a kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown and taking the previously mentioned interception 95 yards to score right before half.
The “Battle in Beantown” is under wraps, and it was a fruitful weekend for the Green-and-Yellow. Defending national champion Edward Cheserek was his usual sublime self, as he and teammate Eric Jenkins crossed the finish line of the 8,000-meter race side by side, helping the 3rd-ranked Oregon Ducks win the overall team title.
Oregon’s volleyball team’s success continued, as they defeated the Colorado Buffaloes, 3-1. The Ducks are now 12-0, and are ranked 13th in the nation. In front of a rocking crowd that included 2500 students, Liz Brenner completed 18 kills, and Frankie Shebby had 15 of her own, as well. The momentum the Ducks are riding will be put to the test on Friday, as they travel to Palo Alto to battle the top-ranked team in the nation, the Stanford Cardinal. The match will be broadcasted live Friday at 7 PM on ESPNU.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove