Off the grid: Alabama take-down changes everything

by | Special to

Now THIS is a shakeup.

It was a pretty placid first five weeks of the season. But that loud guttural yell you just heard was a whole herd of people in Boise, Idaho, and Fort Worth, Texas, sounding out their seal of approval over top-ranked Alabama's loss at South Carolina. OK, you got some big-time sounders from locales like Columbus, Eugene, Lincoln, Norman and Auburn as well. Saturday's action just blew the whole college football season wide-freakin' open.

Nick Saban and Alabama had no answers for South Carolina on Saturday. (Getty Images)  
Nick Saban and Alabama had no answers for South Carolina on Saturday. (Getty Images)  
Keep in mind Tide fans, it's still just early October and these ARE 18-22 year olds we're talking about. There will still be plenty of ebbs and flows to this season for every team out there. Don't trip over your lip right now. There is too much action left to this season.

Here's a quick spin around the college football world from this Week 6 of action.

The Good

1. Team of the day: South Carolina
Beat No. 1 Alabama 35-21. Gamecocks get their first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked team and stamp themselves as the favorites in the SEC East. Most impressive facet of this game? How about the fact that the early second-half implosion didn't last the entire second half? I thought for sure that Stephen Garcia's chuck-it-to-the-stands two-point safety on the first play of the second half was a death-knell to S.C. hopes. But instead the 'Cocks didn't wilt and ended up pulling off their biggest win in school history.

2. Player of the day: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Seven catches for 126 yards, two touchdowns and one remarkable one-handed catch that led to the clinching touchdown. He stated earlier in the week that he couldn't wait to celebrate the win. That's pretty brassy, but it ended up being true. And he did his part in getting the win.

3. Michigan State
Blew out rival Michigan 34-17 to improve to 6-0. Saturday's win was the second in a row over a ranked opponent -- after beating No. 11 Wisconsin 34-24 -- and yet, because they started the season outside of the rankings, they aren't going to get a sniff at the top of the rankings.

4. Hey, whaddya' know, LSU's clock management
No snafus here as the Tigers pull off an unlikely final drive to beat Florida 33-29. This time it wasn't the bonehead clock issues that "helped" LSU win, it was the clover leaf of getting a friendly bounce on a fake field goal and converting on a fourth-and-3 when everybody and their cocker spaniel knew that LSU was going to run a fake field goal. How did Florida not stop that? I'm just askin'. Four plays later, Jarrett Lee hit Terrance Toliver for the game-winning touchdown with six seconds remaining.

5. Revenge coaches

Tom O'Brien, North Carolina State: Won vs. Boston College 44-17. Coach beats his old team for the first time in four tries. QB Russell Wilson went a dizzying 37 for 51 and 312 yards plus three touchdowns.

Bo Pelini, Nebraska: Won at Kansas State 48-13. In 2003, as D-c coordinator, he got into it with KSU coach Bill Snyder after a game when he felt Snyder ran up the score in a 38-9 win. Tables turned on Thursday.

Les Miles, LSU: Won at Florida 33-29. The past two years, losses to Florida have sent unbeaten LSU teams to five and four-loss seasons. Now the Tigers are 6-0 and back on the national-respect radar.

Mark Richt, Georgia: Obliterated Tennessee 41-14. Georgia had lost to the Vols three of the past four years, giving up point totals of 45, 35 and 51 in the process. Saturday, UT gained just 269 yards and had three turnovers.

Gene Chizik, Auburn: Outlasted Kentucky 37-34. Last season, a 4-1 Auburn team lost to Kentucky leading to a five-loss season. This time around, the Tigers came from behind to pull out a three-point win in Lexington. Instant redemption.

The Bad

1. The national media
For fawning over "invincible" Alabama. And I'm as guilty as anyone. I had the Tide ready to lap the field in the SEC after their win over Florida. But considering this is an average Florida team, looking at how inept Penn State is and Arkansas' nip-and-tuck win over a lackluster Texas A&M team, Saturday's loss at South Carolina shouldn't be a big surprise.

2. Alabama's play-calling
As was pointed out by Dr. Lou, for 18 straight plays in crunch time, 'Bama abandoned its bread-and-butter ground game, not giving any touches to Mark Ingram or Trent Richardson.

3. Tank job of the week UCLA
Lost at Cal 35-7. Same team that beat Texas? Really? The Bruins managed just 143 yards of offense against a team that gave up 497 yards and 52 points to Nevada.

4. Wisconsin's sportsmanship ... or lack thereof
Head coach Bret Bielema orders his Badgers to run a two-point conversion when they're up 41-16 with just over six minutes left in the game. C'mon Bielema, pull your socks up and show some semblance of class. If you can.

5. That rooster call over the PA at South Carolina
Not scary. Not intimidating. Similar to nails on a chalkboard. I can't imagine even the home fans like this grating crow.

The Ugly

Nike. For making "Boom!" the new tagline in the latest TV campaign.

Just let John Madden have his catchword back please.

The No-Brainers

Five things were painfully obvious this weekend in college football:

1. Judging by the wild swings of fortune for teams like Alabama, LSU and Georgia, the SEC has more drama than a Springer episode.

2. With Oregon State winning at No. 9 Arizona, the Boise and TCU wins over the Beavers look even better.

3. It looks like Joe Paterno needs to go ahead and retire to save the administration from having to run him off.

4. There may not be three better freshman out there than Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore and Southern California WR Robert Woods.

5. Having lost two straight games on last-play field goals, USC's last-minute defense is, well... awful.

The Hero

Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn: 210 yards passing, 198 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the 37-34 win at Kentucky. He accounted for 74 yards and three third-down conversions in the Tigers' game-winning drive that led to Wes Byrum's 24-yard field goal on the last play of the game.

The Goat

Alabama's O-line: They gave up eight sacks to the Gamecocks, Mark Ingram only got 41 yards on the ground and this came against a defense that came in ranked 71st in the country.

Best comment

Gary Danielson, CBS, right before a TD throw to Julio Jones.

"They just put an even shorter guy on Julio Jones. I don't understand that."

After the TD catch by the 6-foot-4 Jones against 5-9 C.C. Whitlock.

"Small guy against a tall guy. That's as easy as it gets."

That's why Danielson is the best color-commentary guy out there.

Worst comment

Gary Danielson, CBS, talking about Boise State and TCU.

"I think it's time for all the big schools to jump Boise and TCU if they win tonight, especially Auburn and LSU."

Oh c'mon, Danielson, is that really your feelings, or does that thinking come from working SEC games all year?

That's why Danielson should be stripped of his voting in any poll he may take part in.

Add to Heisman List

Taylor Martinez's 241-yard rushing game puts his name in the Heisman talk. (AP)  
Taylor Martinez's 241-yard rushing game puts his name in the Heisman talk. (AP)  
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Ran for 241 yards on 15 carries and went five for seven and 128 yards through the air in the 48-13 win at Kansas State.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
Went 24 for 30 for 334 yards and three TDs in the 38-10 win over Indiana.

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Was 13 of 21 for 210 yards passing and carried the ball 28 times for 198 yards and four touchdowns.

Take off Heisman List

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Eleven carries for 41 yards in the 35-21 loss at South Carolina.

Patrick Peterson, CB/PR, LSU
Had a fumble while fielding a punt that led to Florida's second touchdown and spent most of the night battling injuries and cramps.

Jacory Harris, QB, Miami
Was a putrid 19 for 47 and 225 yards with an interception thrown in there in the blowout loss to Florida State.

Best coaching job

Pat Narduzzi, D-coordinator, Michigan State: His Sparty D held Denard Robinson to 88 rushing yards and 213 yards passing with three interceptions in the 34-17 win at Michigan. The big key was keeping Robinson in the pocket and daring him to beat the Big Green with the pass.

Worst coaching job

Jim McElwain, O-coordinator, Alabama: From the 14-minute mark onward in the fourth quarter of the loss to South Carolina, running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson didn't have a carry from scrimmage. McElwain abandoned the running game when they needed it most.

Best off-the-radar win

Illinois beating Penn State 33-13 in Happy Valley: Nathan Scheelhaase goes 15 of 19 for 151 yards and the Illini defense holds the Nittany Lions to seven first downs and 235 yards of offense. NOW you see why Ohio State struggled against these guys.

Worst off-the-radar news

Injuries in the state of Oregon: Kenjon Barner of Oregon was knocked out cold on a kickoff return and was joined on the sidelines by starting QB Darron Thomas with a shoulder stinger. Over at Oregon State, James Rodgers tweaked a knee and spent most of the afternoon on crutches in the Beavers' win against Arizona.


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