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Off the Grid: It's dangerous at the top

by | Special to

OK, who wants to be No. 1 now? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller ... Bueller.

Didn't think so. The No. 1 ranked teams are on the endangered species list after Oklahoma, the BCS top team, went down to defeat at Missouri. Then again, Oregon is the human poll's top team and looks ready to play the Steelers. So go figure.

Either way, another No. 1 biting the dust is part of the best, worst and ugliest of the college football weekend:

Missouri Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert helps stun Oklahoma. (Getty Images)  
Missouri Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert helps stun Oklahoma. (Getty Images)  
The Good

1. Team of the Day: Missouri
The goalposts are still being paraded around campus as I type this. Missouri, behind Blaine Gabbert (30-42, 308 yards) and some big-play defense, took down No. 1 Oklahoma 36-27 for the first win over the Sooners since 1998.

2. Player of the Day: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
The big strapper had 28 carries for 217 yards on the ground and was 10 of 16 for 86 yards through the air. He also had his "Heisman Moment" with that incredible 49-yard TD run.

3. Coach of the Day: Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
His Cyclones won at Texas 28-21 pulling another stunner on the road at a ranked opponent. Last year, it was a near inexplicable 9-7 win at Nebraska.

4. Aaron Bates, Punter, Michigan State.
For the second time this season, the Spartans punter pulls a special teams prestidigitation to fuel a winning rally and keep MSU unbeaten. On Saturday, his 21-yard "Mousetrap" pass out of punt formation kept alive the first drive of the second half, leading to a TD.

5. The winners of the All-American matchups:

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Outdueled Nebraska CB Prince Amukamura with five catches for 157 yards and two TDs.

Adrian Claiborne, DT, Iowa
Outplayed Wisconsin OT Gabe Carmimi with five tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and wreaking general havoc.

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Sliced through All Americans Drake Nevis, Kelvin Sheppard and Patrick Peterson of LSU. See stats above.

The Bad

1. Tank of the Day: Texas
Lost at home to Iowa State 28-21. Texas fans have to wonder how much stock the Longhorns put into that Nebraska game.

2. Notre Dame
Lost 35-17 vs. Navy. This is the first real single eyebrow raiser of the Brian Kelly era. A service academy owning the Irish for three of the last four years? Damn.

3. (Tie) Oklahoma's red zone offense and pathetic tackling.
Not sure what cost OU more, the two first-half turnovers, the missed field goal or the horrid display of arm-less tackling?

4. The continued ignoring of TCU and Utah.
Nobody was more impressive than the Horned Frogs, who supplanted Air Force 38-7 (the same Falcons team that nearly beat Oklahoma). Meanwhile, Utah stayed unbeaten, blitzing Colorado State 59-6. The Frogs and Utes play each other Nov. 6.

5. The Jekyl & Hyde teams.
Dear Dr. Phil, please try to figure out these teams:

Lost at home to Iowa State after beating then-No. 5 Nebraska last week in Lincoln.

Routed Arizona State 50-17 after suffering last week's dehumanizing 48-14 loss to USC.

Auburn's defense
Held LSU to 17 points and zero big plays from their QBs after surrendering 43 points and 566 yards vs. Arkansas last week.

Nebraska's defense
Haven't given up 21 points in 14 games, but was torched by Oklahoma State for 27 points and 343 yards in the first half alone.

The Ugly

Referee fashion: I've noticed the last two weekends that many of the cooler weather games featured referees wearing those long black slacks with the not-so-slimming wide white stripes on the side of them like the NFL refs wear.

College Football
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
Alabama, the reigning champions, haven't lost all hope of defending their crown in January. Read More >>
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The No-Brainers

Five things that were painfully obvious from college football Saturday:

1. Being ranked No. 1 is a curse, unless your name is Oregon.

2. After what Missouri, Iowa State and Nebraska showed on Saturday, the Big 12 North is the stronger division at the top.

3. The potential Big 12 title game of Missouri vs. Baylor wouldn't draw better than the Texas High School State Championship Game.

4. With Saturday's huge 19-14 win at West Virginia, 5-2 Syracuse won't finish in last place in the Big East for the sixth straight year.

5. After Saturday's 49-0 loss to Ohio State, Purdue is the worst winning team in the country (at 4-3).

The Hero

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: Led MU to its first win over No. 1 Oklahoma since 1998. The strapping Tigers QB had 308 yards through the air, with no picks as Mizzou had 38:26 time of possession.

The Goat

Pat Shed, KR, UAB: Shed's fumbled kickoff of a good return in the final minute of the game allowed Mississippi State to run out the clock in a 29-24 escape. The worst part? Shed is a junior from (wait for it...) Starkville, Mississippi.

Best comment

Mack Brown, after his Texas team lost to Iowa State: "He (Paul Rhoads) had his team ready to play and our kids were sitting around still thinking about how well we played at Nebraska. This game was very similar to UCLA, where we played with the arrogance of how well we played at Texas Tech."

Worst moment

Lou Holtz, ESPN, on the Navy win over Notre Dame: "They're emphasizing football at the academy and that's a risk to our national security." (Yes people, I realize he's just being tongue-in-cheek here.)

Add to the Heisman list

Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon:
22 of 31 for a career-high 308 yards and three TDs in the 60-13 win over UCLA.

Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska:
23 of 35 for 323 yards, five TDs and no interceptions, while also running for 112 yards on 19 carries in the win at OSU.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State:
Navigated the howling winds to go 27 of 43 for 329 yards and three TDs in the 35-27 win at Northwestern.

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama:
12 catches for a school record 221 yards in the 41-10 rout at Tennessee. All with a broken hand.

Jordan Winn, QB, Utah:
23 of 29 for 321 yards and three TDs in the 59-6 win over Colorado State.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri:
Obviously, as QB of an unbeaten team that just took down No. 1, it's enough to put you into the discussion.

Take off Heisman list

LaMichael James, RB, Oregon:
Totally tongue in cheek here, sure. But as good as Darron Thomas was on Thursday night, could he steal Heisman votes away from his teammate?

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas:
Left Ole Miss game with a bum shoulder after going 13 of 24 for 196 yards.

Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, LSU:
Nothing against his talent, obviously, but his 15 minutes of Heisman fame may be in the rear-view mirror.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma:
He didn't have an altogether horrible game in the loss at Missouri (32-50, 302 yards, three TDs), but you know how fickle Heisman voters are about a team with a loss.

Tweet of the Day

Mark Etheridge, SEC writer: "Honestly, are ESPN announcers and studio analysts forced to wear pink shirts or ties? Seeing way too much of it."

Best first win

Western Kentucky: Won at Louisiana 54-21 for its first W of 2010. The Hilltoppers were 9-for-12 in third-down conversions and never turned the ball over.

Best performance by a backup

Matt Scott, QB, Arizona: Filling in for starter Nick Foles (busted kneecap), Scott went 18 of 22 for 233 yards and two TDs, along with running for 65 more yards in the 44-14 win over Washington.

Unheralded team that should be added to the rankings

Baylor: The Bears (6-2) outgunned No. 22 Kansas State 47-42 behind do-it-all Robert Griffin III, who was 26 of 38 for 404 yards and four TDs.

Team that won but should be out of the rankings

No. 24 Mississippi State: The Bulldogs had to sweat out a last-minute win over a rather terrible UAB squad on Saturday. They may be 6-2, but as Lee Corso would say, "That dog is UGLY!"


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