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College Football Recap: Week 4

September 25, 2012

Saturday night featured four games pitting two ranked teams against each other, and in every game spectators came away highly impressed by each game’s victor. No. 3 Oregon shut-out a high-scoring Arizona team that was ranked 23rd. No. 4 Florida St. scored 35 second-half points against No. 10 Clemson. No. 15 Kansas St. was the only road team of the four to win, becoming just the first ranked team to win in Norman against Oklahoma in the Bob Stoops era. Finally, No. 11 Notre Dame’s defense shut down the prolific Denard Robinson and the rest of No. 18 Michigan’s offense.

Oregon did its best Roy Halladay impersonation, pitching its first shutout of the season and first Pac-12 shutout in nine seasons, beating Arizona 49-0. Coming into the game Arizona was averaging 46 points a game, albeit against less than stellar competition. But Oregon held the Wildcats scoreless for the first time since the 2009 Holiday Bowl. In doing so the Ducks forced UA quarterback Matt Scott to three interceptions with a long completion of only 19 yards. Scott had scored nine total touchdowns in his first three games this season. Now I do believe Arizona was overrated coming into the game. But even if it was, for Oregon to shut out a Rich Rodriguez-led offense and to force five turnovers speaks volumes to how good the Oregon D is, even without senior safety John Boyett. Oregon’s next real test doesn’t come until Nov. 3 against USC.

After falling behind 28-14 early in the third quarter, Florida St.’s Chris Thompson, fresh off a 197-yard performance against Wake Forest, scored on a nine-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half. After a Clemson field goal, the Seminoles scored the next 28 points to go up 49-31 and put the game away, eventually winning 49-37. In years previous the Noles would’ve folded up after going down two scores, but not in this game. FSU QB E.J. Manuel threw for a career-high 380 yards, while also adding 102 yards on the ground on only 12 carries. Manuel kept his cool in the second half, helping lead the FSU comeback by completing 12 of 17 passes for 199 yards and two TDs. Thompson added 103 yards rushing on only 13 carries. Don’t be fooled by FSU allowing 31 points; The Clemson offense, with playmakers galore, ranked 23rd last year in scoring and is 22nd this year. Clemson’s O will be the best FSU sees this year. I’m not marking the Noles down for a 12-0 regular season just yet, but Florida is the lone ranked team left on their schedule.

Kansas St. did its job for People Who Hate Preseason Polls, dispatching always-overrated Oklahoma, 24-19. The Wildcats held Oklahoma without a touchdown in the first half at home for the first time since 2005. After rushing for 554 yards in their first two games the Sooners were held to only 88 yards on 27 carries. Super-stud Colin Klein didn’t throw a touchdown, but he ran for 79 yards and scored once on the ground. K-State was out-gained in yardage, but did all the little things right. It won the time of possession battle by over nine minutes, keeping Landry Jones and the somewhat potent OU offense on the sideline. The defense also forced three turnovers, and the offense went 8-15 on third- and fourth-down conversions. K-State isn’t anymore a favorite to win the Big 12 than West Virginia, Texas, TCU or even Oklahoma is. But with the OU win and a beat-down of Miami already on its record, the Wildcats have proven they’re the real deal.

Notre Dame moved to 4-0 for the first time in 10 years Saturday, which actually makes ESPN having a Notre Dame-centric blog somewhat warranted but not really. The key to the 13-6 win was defense. The Irish, facing a respectable slate of teams, is fourth in scoring defense and 16th in total defense after limiting Michigan to only 299 yards of offense and six turnovers, four of which were Denard Robinson interceptions. Manti T’eo had two of those interceptions, as well as eight tackles and one tackle for loss. T’eo had his second straight impressive performance after losing his grandmother and girlfriend the week before. The Irish also sacked Robinson three times, one of which was by Stephen Tuitt – a sophomore who has six sacks, which ranks third nationally. Notre Dame’s defense has proven it’s great, but it hasn’t faced a legitimate pro-style attack that a USC, Stanford or even Oklahoma will have in their match-ups with the Irish. The Irish offense will have to score more points than they have recently to win those games, but the defense should still be able to leave its mark on those offenses.

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