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Wild weekend for 'SC, and it isn't alone

September 17, 2012|CHRIS DUFRESNE
  • Matt Barkley and USC drop from No. 2 to No. 13 while Johnathan Franklin powers UCLA to the No. 2 offense in the country.
Matt Barkley and USC drop from No. 2 to No. 13 while Johnathan Franklin powers… (Getty Images )

The weekend was a wild trip through Alice's looking glass and Colorado's secondary.

Arkansas State earned a million dollars for losing to Nebraska, but everything else made little sense.

UCLA is No. 2 in total offense, ahead of Oregon and West Virginia.

Three teams in the Southeastern Conference West -- Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi -- rank No. 93, 94 and 95 in total defense. Kansas is No. 91.

Wisconsin is still ranked in the USA Today coaches' poll, but Oregon State still isn't.

Alabama turned Arkansas into pig slop in a 52-0 win that solidified the Crimson Tide's red-state power position atop the electoral college.

Arkansas, meanwhile, was shut out at Razorback Stadium for the first time since Bill Clinton was a little (rock) kid.

Alabama collected 58 of 60 first-place votes in Sunday's Associated Press poll and 54 out of 59 in the USA Today index.

Alabama also remained the No. 1 state to live in with a motor home towing a bass boat.

Fast-forward Alabama to this year's BCS title game and also the Super Bowl for defeating an unranked team, without its quarterback, coached by a middle-initialed man being held on a 10-month retainer.

USC fell from the polls like a circus performer diving from 100 feet into a six-inch pan of water.

The Trojans lost, on the road, by a touchdown, to the coaches' No. 16 team.

USC was punished nine spots, from No. 3 to No. 12, yet Stanford moved up only five positions to No. 11.

Maybe that's what Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott gets for calling the coaches' poll "a fallacy" on an L.A. radio station last month.

USC, once AP No. 1, sits at unlucky No. 13.

The explanation being given is that USC was "shocked" by a Stanford team that had only defeated the Trojans four of the five previous years.

How does that work again?

Let's be clear, newscaster boys and girls: The 2007 game was a shock. USC was favored by 41 and Stanford was playing its backup quarterback.

Saturday's 21-14 outcome in Palo Alto was more a market correction in which an overvalued team lost to undervalued stock.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley, in a shaky 60 minutes, probably lost the Heisman Trophy he came back to win. He will leave USC without ever having defeated Stanford and be haunted by the memories years into his NFL career.

Or he will get over it.

His sad story reminded me of the one I witnessed Sept. 20, 1997, in Gainesville, Fla.

Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning capped his winless career against Florida with a smelly, two-interception performance in the Swamp.

Manning was sacked three times and battered by the Gators' defense.

Barkley can learn from what Manning said that day.

"Tortured?" Manning said. "I've got thick skin. I can bounce back. I'm disappointed we didn't get the win. But this is football. You've got to prepare for the good and the bad."

Barkley, intercepted twice Saturday and sacked four times, has to live with the unapologetic aura-era created by Jim Harbaugh.

Manning, though, had to deal with the digs of Florida coach Steve Spurrier, who said of that 1997 win over Tennessee: "We were hugging after the game. We have three, four, five games a year that are 'huggers.' This is one of them."

Manning got over it, and so will Barkley.

You want something crazier than Stanford over USC?

Fresno State beat Colorado, 35-0, in the first quarter. It was 55-7 at the half and 69-14 at the end.

Colorado, a team with a national-title trophy somewhere in its history case, may be the worst team in I-A.

"We ran into a bus," second-year Coach Jon Embree said after the wheels came off his team's bus.

Fresno State outgained Colorado, 665 to 278. Bulldogs tailback Robbie Rouse scored four touchdowns ... within the first 15 minutes.

"I was pleased by the way our guys came out of the gate," first-year Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter said in the understatement of the year so far.

Still, that game was international curling compared with Utah's late-night, 24-21 win over Brigham Young in Salt Lake City.

It was college's wildest football finish not involving Stanford's band.

"Where do I begin?" Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said afterward. "We should be 4-1 because we won that game three times."

Let's begin here: Utah, with a three-point lead, had BYU pinned inside its 20-yard line with the Cougars facing fourth and 12.

A Utah defender then inexplicably let a BYU receiver slip free to make a 47-yard reception to the Utah 34.

BYU quarterback Riley Nelson rushed his team to the line and spiked the ball with eight seconds left.

His ensuing pass was tipped and dropped harmlessly to the field. Utah fans stormed the grounds, thinking they had won. The officials correctly ruled, though, there was one second left.

Nebraska fans might recall a one-second-remaining involving Colt McCoy and Texas.

Rice-Eccles Stadium's turf was cleared for Justin Sorensen to attempt a 51-yard field goal.

It was blocked, which sent Utah fans, players and coaches back onto the field as a BYU player ran around with the ball looking for a tuba player to knock down.

The BYU player was stopped short, but Utah was called for a "live action" penalty that awarded the visiting team a final play 15 yards closer to the goal posts.

The field had to be cleared again.

A different BYU kicker, Riley Stephenson, now had a 36-yard try to send the game into overtime.

His kick hit the left upright and bounced back onto the field.

Utah rushed the field for a third time, only this time it was for keeps.

"I can't describe that ending," Utah quarterback Jon Hayes said. "That's something I'll remember when I'm 85."

Those looking to remember this weekend are matched only by those looking to forget.


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