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Arkansas, Wisconsin Disappoint in Upsets

Matt Barkley leads a No. 2 ranked USC team. Photo courtesy of Neon Tommy/Flickr.com

Fall has returned once again, and it has brought back a familiar friend: college football.  If these first two weeks have taught us anything, it’s that first impressions will likely ring true for a team’s season.

The season’s first week featured most of the nation’s top 25 teams going against Division I-AA squads in what are called “tune-up” games. The only matchup of week one that looked good on paper was No. 2 Alabama, which is paced by a dominant defense, versus No. 8 Michigan, which is lead by the electrifying Denard Robinson at quarterback.

However, Alabama routed the Wolverines 41-14, causing Michigan to tumble down to the No. 19 spot in the Top 25, while the Crimson Tide rose to the No. 1 ranking in the land thanks to USC’s 49-10 rout of lowly Hawaii.

Meanwhile, No. 24 Florida, No. 25 Stanford and No. 12 Wisconsin suffered scares before narrowly getting by Bowling Green, San Jose State and Northern Iowa, respectively. On the flip side, No. 3 LSU pummeled North Texas  41-14, No. 14 Ohio State routed Miami of Ohio 56-10, No. 6 Florida State dominated Murray State 69-3 and No. 4 Oregon crushed Arkansas State 57-34.

Week two, however, brought the season’s first upsets. No. 13 Wisconsin went into Oregon State’s Reiser Stadium and were promptly upended by the Beavers in a low scoring, physical game with a final score of 10-7. Wisconsin running back and Heisman hopeful Montee Ball was held to just 61 yards on 15 carries, while the Badger defense held highly touted transfer quarterback Danny O’Brien to just 172 yards passing and one touchdown pass.

The weekend’s second upset was done by the tiny University of Louisiana-Monroe, which took down the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks in overtime, 34-31. Once Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson, another Heisman hopeful, did not return in the second half after a first half “above the shoulder” injury, the Warhawks took advantage.  UL-Monroe stayed with the Hogs drive for drive before scoring three unanswered late touchdowns to tie the game and then intercepted Arkansas’ backup quarterback  Brandon Allen to seal the game in overtime.

Saturday’s third major upset featured UCLA shocking No. 16 Nebraska in the Rose Bowl with a final score of 36-30. UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley thoroughly dominated his first BCS opponent, throwing for 357 yards and four touchdowns against the once-vaunted Cornhusker defense, while tailback Jonathan Franklin ran for 162 yards, added another 113 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.  Nebraska duel-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez once again put on a show, but it was his deflected pass with 9:09 left in the fourth quarter that lead to a go-ahead safety for UCLA.

In a fourth upset, Arizona rocked No. 18 Oklahoma State 59-38. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott, a fifth year senior, lead the offense with 320 passing yards and two touchdown passes, while running back Ka’Deem Carey had four total touchdowns. Not surprisingly, all four teams fell out of the Top 25.
Meanwhile, No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 USC, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Oklahoma continued their dominance over lesser teams, the closest score being USC’s 42-29 triumph over Syracuse at the Meadowlands.

The other school that resides in the city of Tampa, USF, staged a late and furious comeback in Reno, beating the Nevada Wolfpack 32-31 after being down 21-6 at one point in the game. No. 24 Florida and No. 7 Georgia each welcomed new members Texas A&M and Missouri respectively to the SEC, winning by the scores of 20-17 and 41-20 over the newest foes. Florida rose to No. 18 in the rankings, while Georgia stayed at No. 7.

Week three definitely has its share of intriguing matchups. The Crimson Tide open up their SEC slate with a matchup against rival Arkansas, which hopes to come off last week’s upset with one of its own. Meanwhile, the Gators will continue the SEC schedule at Tennessee, which hopes to end it’s losing streak to Florida while Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel looks to improve even more.

USC will continue its quest for a 12th national championship against Stanford, which is USC’s toughest opponent yet. Look for Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley to continue his march towards a Heisman by throwing early and often to star receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.

A fourth and final matchup to watch will be No. 22 Notre Dame versus No. 11 Michigan State in East Lansing. Spartans running back  Le’Von Bell looks to continue his hard running ways against a stout Irish defense lead by stud middle lineback Manti Te’o.

Jordan Llanes can be reached at jordan.llanes@spartans.ut.edu

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