Celebrating the weekend's losers, on the scoreboard and in spirit.
• The Horror. Arizona came into the weekend averaging 46 points per game over its first three but spent most of Saturday night inventing new ways not to score at Oregon: On seven separate trips inside the Ducks' 30-yard line, the Wildcats offense came away with zero points, variously coming up short via two interceptions, one fumble, a missed field goal and three turnovers on downs. 'Zona's first four offensive possessions of the game all entered the red zone, and all four came away with zip to show for it.
By the end of the night, the Wildcats offense had been outscored by Oregon's defense, which found the end zone twice on interception returns by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Troy Hill. The final score, 49-0, represented the Ducks' first in-conference shutout since 2003, and the first time Arizona has failed to crack the scoreboard since 2005.
• Awfulness by Osmosis. Last week, this space mocked Colorado as not only the worst team in college football in 2012, but arguably one of the worst teams in memory in the wake of a humiliating 69-14 debacle at Fresno State that wasn't as close as the eight-touchdown margin suggested. This week? Colorado! You're a winner, baby.
That's right. Not only did the Buffaloes pull off the road upset Saturday at Washington State: They rallied from a 17-point deficit in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter to do it. Down 31-14, the CU offense struck for a pair of long touchdowns on consecutive series – the first one a 70-yard pass from Jordan Webb to tight end Nick Kasa, followed by an 84-yard sprint by tailback Tony James – then answered a Wazzu field goal with a 70-yard march for the winning touchdown, a 5-yard run by Webb with nine seconds to play. Final score: Colorado 35, Washington State 34. The Buffaloes will not be going 0-12. Coach Jon Embree likely will not be getting fired after just two seasons. Today is the first day of the rest of their lives, until next week.
But what does that say about Washington State? In its first four games under popular pirate coach Mike Leach, the Cougars have been blown out by BYU, struggled in close wins over Eastern Washington and UNLV and now choked away a certain victory against the only outfit in the Pac-12 that was shaping up to be even worse. Now we have to ask: If it can't beat Colorado, at home, is Washington State going to win another game?
• Bad Day at the Office?
Then again, when is Mark Dantonio ever in a mood to talk about any– Never. NEXT QUESTION.
• LOWLIGHT HALL OF FAME: Denard Melts Down.
Not one. Not two. Not three. Count 'em: Four interceptions from the arm of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson floated gently into the arms of Notre Dame defenders Saturday night in a 13-6 Irish win. Not just four interceptions over four quarters: Four interceptions on four consecutive passes in the first half.
Including the first-quarter pick thrown by Vincent Smith on a halfback pass and Robinson's fumble on the opening drive of the second half, Michigan turned the ball over on six consecutive offensive possessions, out of just 10 possessions for the entire game. For every dagger Robinson stuck in the Fighting Irish in exhilarating, last-second comebacks in 2010 and 2011, consider them paid back in full. With interest.
• WORST GAME OF THE WEEK: LSU 12, Auburn 10
Auburn came into the weekend yielding 442 yards per game, having just allowed 28 points apiece in back-to-back games against Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe. I guess LSU's offense can take a few cues from the Warhawks: Over the last three quarters Saturday, both offenses combined for 12 punts, three turnovers, three field-goal attempts and zero touchdowns. The difference in the final score? A first-quarter safety, of course.
Voters in both mainstream polls were so uninspired they immediately dropped LSU from No. 2 in favor of Oregon.
• WORST PLAY OF THE WEEK: Georgia Tech's self-inflicted safety.
Safeties are embarrassing enough when they're inflicted by the opposing team. But the Yellow Jackets' Orwin Smith might never hear the end of it after he aimed the two-point gun at his own foot on a first-quarter kick return:
Worse than the embarrassment over a momentary lapse? The Jackets could have really used those two points: After four wild, back-and-forth quarters, Georgia Tech and Miami wound up deadlocked at 36, and Tech went on to lose in overtime. Along with their season-opening 20-17 loss at Virginia Tech, the Yellow Jackets already have dropped two overtime heartbreakers to ACC Coastal rivals, effectively eliminating them from the division race in September by the slimmest possible margin.
• THE DREADFUL DOZEN. The worst of the worst, in ascending order:
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1. UMass (0-4). Finishing within two touchdowns of
2. Idaho (0-4). Vandals' quest for a win was thwarted in overtime against Wyoming, which hadn't won a game before last week, either.
3. Memphis (0-4). On the bright side, a 24-point loss at Duke wouldn't be so bad, if we were talking about basketball.
4. Tulane (0-3). Green Wave gained 159 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times in a shutout loss against Ole Miss. I don't think I have to add anything to that.
5. Houston (0-3). On the bright side, at least no coaches were fired over the bye week.
6. Southern Miss (0-3). Lopsided loss at Western Kentucky means defending Conference USA champs are 0-3 for the first time in 36 years and well on their way to USM's first losing season since 1993. Did I mention the lopsided loss at Western Kentucky?
7. UAB (0-3). Yeah, Conference USA is just a really bad conference right now.
8. Eastern Michigan (0-4). Eagles actually led Michigan State in the third quarter before Spartans decided to grind them into a fine paste.
9. Washington State (2-2). We all love Mike Leach, but Cougars have not visibly improved in any sense in his first season.
10. Colorado (1-3). Last chance to get in on this rising stock on the ground floor!
11. Colorado State (1-3). For the first and perhaps last time, the Rams' lone win over Colorado doesn't look quite so grim.
12. Kansas (1-3). Through four weeks, the rest of the Big 12 combined has two losses. The Jayhawks have three.