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College Football Recap: Week 5

October 2, 2012

The weekend that was in college football started out unexpectedly, with Washington upsetting Stanford 17-13 in Seattle. While the rest of the weekend was dominated by offense, U-Dub won thanks to its defense. The Huskies made Trojan-beater Josh Nunes look like a high-schooler after he completed only 18 of 37 passes for no touchdowns and only 187 yards. Even worse was the Stanford running game, which finished with only 65 yards on 28 attempts for a paltry 2.3 yards per rush. That’s easily a season-low for the Cardinal, two weeks after rushing for 202 yards and 5.4 yards a carry against USC. In last year’s UW game Stanford ran for 446 yards and over 10 yards a carry, scoring 65 points.

This was an impressive win for Washington, whom LSU beat 41-3 in the Huskies only challenging game so far this season. Washington junior quarterback Keith Price has underperformed this year after a stellar sophomore season where he threw 33 touchdowns. He’ll have to pick it up soon, because even though the Huskies D played well last week Stanford only ranks 74th in scoring. UW’s next opponent? Oregon, which ranks fourth.

Let’s transition from defense to offense and travel to Athens, Ga., where the Bulldogs held on to beat Tennessee 51-44. Even though the game was high-scoring and the teams combined for 1,038 yards from scrimmage it was neither an offense’s nor defense’s purist’s delight. UT turned the ball over four times, including three Tyler Bray interceptions, and Georgia had three turnovers of its own. Aaron Murray was far more efficient than Bray, completing 19-of-25 passes and throwing two TDs to only one interception, which was returned for a touchdown.

Not all turnovers are created equal, and Tennessee had every chance to win this game or at least take it into overtime. After making the score 51-44 on a Rajion Neal touchdown run with 8:56 left in the fourth, UT’s defense forced a a Georgia punt. After three plays that produced 27 yards, Bray was intercepted at midfield. After a Georgia three-and-out, UT moved the ball from its own 26 to the Georgia 32. On the next play, Bray fumbled and Georgia recovered. Tennessee had one last chance to tie the game with 15 seconds left, but Bray threw another interception, which sealed the deal. This finally brings me to my point: Georgia was fairly lucky to win last week. Despite impressive wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs have been quite lackluster in their other three games, two of which were against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic. Their schedule sets up nicely, with only South Carolina and Florida left to challenge them, however.

Now, even more offense. West Virginia and Baylor set all kinds of records Saturday, in the Mountaineers’ 70-63 win. The final score was only three points off the NCAA’s highest-scoring game in history. Geno Smith threw for eight touchdowns and only six incompletions. The teams combined for 1,507 total yards, 19 touchdowns and only one turnover, and scoring plays of 47, 65, 67, 45, 52, 37, 87 and 39 yards. Each team had three receivers go over 100 yards receiving, and each also had a receiver go over 300 yards. Four receivers caught at least 13 passes.

West Virginia’s defense resembled a late-season Mariners game – there were a lot of open spaces. But it’s not as bad as it looks. West Virginia’s defense is giving up 5.75 yards per play this year, which ranks 80th. Its opponent this weekend, Texas, against a schedule that’s relatively equal to that of West Virginia’s, ranks 100th, allowing 6.19. Texas’ D features more future NFL players, but so far it’s been just as bad on a per-play basis as West Virginia’s.

Texas beat Oklahoma St. in Stillwater, 41-36, on a touchdown run with only 29 seconds left. Texas sophomore QB David Ash did his best Colt McCoy impression, completing 30 of 37 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. Taking out OSU’s first “game” this year against Savannah St., the Cowboys D is similar to West Virginia, allowing 5.6 yards a play. But in their only two real tests of the season, the Cowboys have given up an average of 50 points. They’ve also allowed opponents to score on all 14 trips they’ve taken into the red zone; West Virginia’s allowed 15 scores on 18 trips, and has a better touchdowns allowed percentage, also.

The West Virginia game will be Texas’s first real test of the year; I don’t consider either Ole Miss or Oklahoma St. a real test. Texas’s defense was supposed to be very good this year, but it’s been rather pedestrian against both those opponents. West Virginia’s offense is much better and more experienced than those other two and will give Texas its biggest challenge yet. I don’t think West Virginia’s defense is as bad as it appears, nor do I believe Texas’s offense is as good as it appears. David Ash has played well, but he hasn’t faced a tough test yet. But we know Geno Smith is the real deal already.

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