Meanwhile, the one team left on the regular season schedule that might upend Tebow & Co., was completely undressed on ESPN’s Saturday night show. South Carolina, which hosts UF on November 14, went to Tennessee and turned the ball over four times in a 31-13 defeat. The Gamecocks’ run defense was ineffectual, negating an otherwise decent outing from Stephen Garcia, 25/50 for 300 yards. And in the Western Division, the decline of Ole Miss and Jevan Snead against Auburn. The Tigers got 144 yards from Ben Tate, while Snead completed less than half his passes and threw two picks. Hard to believe this team was seen as a darkhorse national title contender in many circles, including here, when the season began.
The headline story in the Big Ten was Iowa’s crazy rally against Indiana, with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 42-24 win, a rally aided considerably by the Hoosiers’ pass defense, which couldn’t seem to provide any help, as a Hawkeye receiver would beat one guy and be off to the races. But an even more compelling story took place up in Minnesota. The Gophers lost their best receiver—indeed the best receiver in the entire conference in Eric Decker—to season-ending surgery. Quarterback Adam Weber stepped up and played the game of his life against Michigan State, throwing for 416 yards and engineering a mild upset of the Spartans. The loss puts Michigan State up against it in the push for a New Year’s Day bowl game, particularly in light of Wisconsin’s 37-0 thrashing of Purdue, a win fueled by an powerful running game led John Clay’s 123 yards.
In the ACC, the biggest event was Thursday night, when North Carolina upset Virginia Tech 20-17. Georgia Tech now has sole possession of first place in the Coastal Division and is the odds-on favorite to win the conference championship. The Yellow Jackets won a non-conference game with Vanderbilt, piling up over 400 rush yards in the process. Miami stayed a game back in the division, but barely. They only ran the ball for 26 yards against Wake Forest and needed three Deacon fumbles to get out of town with a one-point win. On other side of the conference, the chaos continued in the Atlantic, as frontrunner Virginia was felled by Duke. We’ve started to talk about the Blue Devils here a little bit and Thaddeus Lewis did not disappoint. The signal-caller’s connection with receivers Donovan Varner and Connor Vernon continues to be as potent as any in the league. The Dookies pulled a 27-24 upset, ran their record to 5-3 and exposed yet another wanna-be leader in the Atlantic.
We’ll conclude the week with an early guess at what the BCS bowl lineup, as well as some of the showcase New Year’s games will look like…
BCS National Championship: Texas vs. Florida
Orange: Penn State vs. Georgia Tech
Sugar: Alabama vs. TCU
Fiesta: USC vs. Cincinnati
Rose: Oregon vs. Iowa
Capital One: Ohio State vs. LSU
Gator: Virginia Tech vs. Pitt
Cotton: Auburn vs. Oklahoma State
Outback: Wisconsin vs. Tennessee