Although our beloved Hurricanes were idle this weekend, there were still several intense football games on Saturday that could indirectly effect the ‘Canes’ season.
The early games did not fail to excite, as No. 25 Florida had an impressive come-from-behind 24-21 win in Kentucky. The Gators were down 21-3 in the third quarter, but thanks to two fourth-quarter touchdowns by Carlos Perez and a Johnny Lamar interception that led to Ran Carthon’s go-ahead touchdown run with 3:15 left in the game, UF was able to avoid an upset that would have knocked them out of the Top 25.
The Gators’ victory can be looked at as a good news/bad news result for the Hurricanes. The game may not have any impact on UM in the near future, but as of right now the ‘Canes’ win over UF ranks as their highest-quality win. If the ‘Canes are in a tiebreaker, a win over a 10-2 Gators team would look much better than a 7-5 Gators team. This could have absolutely no ramifications, or it could be an important factor in UM earning a BCS berth.
The bad news is simply that the Gators won, which always leaves a bad taste in Hurricane fans’ mouths. As one of our fiercest rivals, it is hard to root for UF in any situation.
The victory over Kentucky was crucial for two people: quarterback Chris Leak and Head Coach Ron Zook. Leak led the charge in the fourth quarter and proved that despite being an inexperienced freshman, he can still be counted on to win games for UF and should be the Gators’ signal-caller for the next four years without any question.
For Zook, this win could be monumental in saving the second-year head coach’s job. It is obvious that the players give their all for Zook, and despite the fans calling for his head, he really has done a solid job this year. The Gators could have easily tanked the season after blowing the UM game, but they still play hard every week, and the credit for this has to go to the head coach. If the Gators run the table the rest of the way, then Zook should be retained without hesitation.
In a game that could have more of a direct effect on UM, No. 3 USC was stunned in overtime by California 34-31. With that loss, only Oklahoma, Ohio State, and the Hurricanes are left as undefeated teams in the Top Five (although that should change when the next polls are released).
What is amazing about this is that there have been so many gigantic upsets in the first five weeks of the season, but the Sooners, Buckeyes, and ‘Canes, who stayed undefeated for the longest period of time last season, are still perfect thus far. We could be in for the same three team race as last season. This is probably quite presumptuous given that Oklahoma still has to play the meat of the Big 12, Ohio State still has Michigan in their sights, and UM has road tests against Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Pittsburgh.
The USC shocker wasn’t the only big upset coming out of the Pac 10. Only a week after knocking off Michigan, No. 15 Oregon was crushed by No. 21 Washington State 55-16. No. 24 Arizona State lost to Oregon State 45-17.
In Big 10 action, No. 9 Iowa was outclassed by an unranked Michigan State team 20-10. The Spartans, who were in disarray after a poor season in 2002 and a coaching change, have had a complete turnaround under John L. Smith. This probably won’t be the last highly-ranked opponent they defeat this season.
In a minor upset in the Big 12, Kansas had their way with No. 23 Missouri 35-14. It seems like things have turned around for the Jayhawks as well.
There were three other overtime games featuring Top 25 teams besides the USC loss. Arkansas battled back from a 31-10 deficit to beat Alabama, 34-31, in overtime. No. 8 Tennessee had to squeak out a 23-20 overtime win over South Carolina, and TCU rallied to knock off Arizona 13-10….B.J. Symons of Texas Tech set a Big 12 record for passing yards with 661 in the Red Raiders’ 49-45 win over Mississippi. Symons went 44 for 64 with six touchdown passes. I wonder how terrible Texas Tech’s running game and defense must be considering that they threw the ball 64 times and gave up 45 points, having to squeak out a last-minute victory in a game where their quarterback throws for an ungodly amount of yards….No. 20 Minnesota looked impressive in their 20-14 win at Penn State. At 5-0, look for the Golden Gophers to make a run in the surprisingly deep Big 10….With no one standing out in the Heisman race, look for long shots like Derrick Knight of Boston College (553 yards, two touchdowns) and our own Frank Gore (453 yards, four touchdowns) to at least garner some consideration in the coming weeks. Both backs have put up a substantial amount of rushing yards in the first third of the season, and expect the two to produce about 100 yards a game each the rest of the way. It probably won’t be enough to overtake high-profile candidates like Kevin Jones and Phillip Rivers, but Knight and Gore could earn a spot on the “Heisman Watch List” soon.