After a rather mild opening week regarding the AP Poll rankings, week of the 2012 College Football season is going to be harsh, with four teams in the top 25 losing their first game of the season – Arkansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, while Missouri and Texas A&M lost in their SEC debuts.
The teams gunning for the national title – Alabama, USC, Oregon, LSU and Oklahoma had no problems with mostly blowout wins, although USC’s 42-29 win over Syracuse in stormy New York state weather did show that beyond all of their offense and Heisman flair, there are some defensive issues that need to be sorted out before they’re to be considered legitimate title contenders.
We’ll begin with Little Rock and a Arkansas team that ruined the SEC West dominance, losing to Louisiana Monroe 34-31 after overtime. This is the Warhawks first ever win over a ranked opponents, with the Razorbacks going in as #8 in the nation, and only their 3rd ever win over an SEC team, although the last one , over Alabama in 2007, didn’t come too long ago.
Tyler Wilson struggled to get the chains rolling while also throwing an interception, and the Warhawks limited Arkansas to only 96 rushing yards and 3-11 on third down conversions, gaining 550 yards, mostly through the air (Kolton Browning with 412 yards) to Arkansas 377.
The next ranked team to fall were Wisconsin (#13) in their visit to Corvallis, losing to Oregon State 10-7. The gameplan was simple – stopping Montee Ball, who has scored a touchdown in the previous 21 games. Ball ran for 61 yards on 15 carries, with the Badgers forced to go with passing in the final quarter, going into it 0-10 down.
The Badgers were limited to only 207 total yards, while converting only 2-14 on third down. Since 1993, the Big Ten schools are 5-28-1 when visiting Pac-12 schools, with Wisconsin not having too much success against Oregonian teams, losing to the Ducks at the Rose Bowl eight months ago.
Next up? Another Big Ten team losing out west, this time Nebraska (#16) losing 36-30 to UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The game was tied at 27 going into the final quarter, but Taylor Martinez got sacked in the end zone and Johnathan Franklin’s touchdown catch from Brett Hundley with 2:13 to go put the game beyond the cornhuskers reach.
Franklin was mostly impressive on the ground, running for 217 yards. The big kudos goes to the Bruins’ defense. After allowing Taylor Martinez to run for 101 yards in the first half, they stopped him at 11 in the second half and limited Nebraska to only 106 total yards. Brett Hundley finished with 305 yards and four touchdown passes.
The fourth ranking upset also happened in a Pac-12 stadium, with Arizona putting 59 points against Oklahoma State, putting up only 38 points. Wes Lunt (OKSU) did throw for 436 yards and four touchdowns, but he was also intercepted three times, including in the fourth quarter by Jonathan McKnight, returning it 48 yards for a touchdown and giving the Wildcats a 45-31, untouchable lead. Ka’Deem Carey had a huge day for Arizona on the ground, running for 126 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Another intriguing aspect of this weekend was Texas A&M and Missouri making their SEC debuts. For the Aggies, it was the same story from last year. A promising lead in the first half (17-10 over Florida), followed by a complete meltdown in the second half. A&M’s offense was all about red-shirt freshman Johnny Manziel, who threw for 173 yards and ran for 60 while scoring a touchdown, but he was upstaged by the Gators defense, who limited the Aggies to only 2.8 yards per play in the second half. Quarterback Mike Gillislee ran for two touchdowns in what was referred to as a growing up experience and win.
For Mizzou, it wasn’t really that close. Georgia did struggle for most of the game on offense, but some big hitting from Jarvis Jones, causing two turnovers with a fumble and an interception, that’ll probably haunt Tigers quarterback James Franklin for a while, gave the #7 team a 15-0 fourth quarter and a 41-20 win in Columbia.
Top Image: arkansassports360