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Some routs just don't follow the rules

There were some huge mismatches over the weekend, but Stanford's victory was a lot closer than it should have been, and Alabama's win was a lot closer than it looked.

September 23, 2013|Chris Dufresne

North Texas visited Oklahoma on opening weekend in 2007 and was clobbered, 79-10.

A few days later, sitting in his home office a few blocks from where the wipeout took place, Barry Switzer said North Texas got what it deserved.

"They had no game plan for losing," the Sooners' former coach said.

By that he meant North Texas kept passing and giving the ball back to Oklahoma. The Mean Green threw the ball 38 times and ran only 31.

"When you can't win a game, you need to run the clock," Switzer said. "…Get the game over with, get on the bus and go home."

On Saturday, for the first time since the Associated Press expanded its poll to 25 in 1989, four ranked schools surpassed the 70-point mark in victory.

Ohio State, Louisville, Baylor and Miami routed four carefully selected saplings, 295-14.

Florida A&M and Florida International, although they were leveled by Ohio State and Louisville, did their level best to uphold Switzer's law.

The Rattlers and Golden Panthers combined for only 25 passes in their combined 148-0 defeat.

Louisiana Monroe, though, attempted 46 passes (completing only 18) in a 70-7 loss to Baylor, and Savannah State attempted more passes than Miami (25 to 23) in a 77-7 defeat.

Switzer is right that you always need a game plan for losing — but you also need one for winning.

Stanford turned what should have been a stampede celebration Saturday into a postgame inquisition that completely changed the weekend takeaway narrative.

We offer two final scores for analysis. Stanford defeated Arizona State, 42-28, and Alabama defeated Colorado State, 31-6.

The first game looked as if it were close and the other looked like a laugher.

Actually, it was the opposite.

Stanford led Arizona State, 29-0, at the half. The Cardinal dominated the No. 23 team in the country and could have made a 30-minute case for being the best team in the country, or at least the best team south of Eugene.

Top-ranked Alabama, conversely, was in trouble all Tuscaloosa afternoon. Colorado State trailed only 17-6 in the fourth quarter and was in possession of the ball when replay ruled quarterback Garrett Grayson fumbled on a bang-bang play that pitted a dislodged football against Grayson's knee hitting the ground.

Replay made the right call, but it was very close. Alabama turned the turnover into a quick touchdown and then added another late tack-on score to secure a comfortable outcome.

Alabama, in fact, played poorly. The Crimson Tide rushed for only 66 yards and converted on two of 10 third downs against a fourth-rate Mountain West team.

"Consequently, they stayed in the game and we could never put them away," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said.

No worries, though. Alabama lost only three first-place votes to Oregon in the AP poll but retained its stranglehold on No. 1.

Stanford, in the meantime, stayed at No. 5 in both polls because Coach David Shaw needlessly turned an impressive victory into a mess.

You knew even Shaw knew this was true when he opened his postgame news conference with the words, "I'm not going to apologize for winning a football game."

Shaw actually said he was sorry when he was forced to put starting quarterback Kevin Hogan back in the game.

Shaw should be universally admired for his disdain for scoring points just because he can.

"I could care less about style points," he said.

But he totally miscalculated the opponent and the situation in Palo Alto when he declared the game over at 39-14 by inserting backup quarterback Evan Crower in the fourth quarter.

Arizona State is a high-octane, up-tempo team capable of scoring points in bunches. This was not clearing the bench against Savannah State.

"Guys earned the right to play," Shaw argued.

But all Crower did was hand the ball off six times in two drives.

The Cardinal lined up in a stacked backfield and ran straight up the middle. It sort of reminded you of overtime last year against Notre Dame.

Two quick punts put a tiring Stanford defense back on the field against a rapid-fire quarterback, Taylor Kelly, who last year threw for 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Suddenly it was 39-28 and Shaw had to re-expose Hogan to live action. And boy, wasn't it scary when Hogan grabbed his left knee making a lead-protecting, late slide out of bounds?

Shaw also lost star safety Ed Reynolds for the first half of next week's game at Washington State for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Kelly. Reynolds was still in the game because, well, he suddenly had to be.

"Human nature says we're winning by a lot, let's back off," Shaw said. "I'll take some heat, and I'm fine."

Shaw is a fabulous coach, with a fabulous team, but he would be better served not using live Pac-12 games for his "teachable moments."

Weekend wrap

—The weekend's best game, not shockingly, was played Friday when Fresno State outlasted Boise State, 41-40. You talk about living on the edge. Fresno State's two top-level wins this year against Rutgers and Boise State have been by the total margin of 93-91.

Fresno State is No. 23 in the USA Today coaches' poll and No. 25 in AP.

—The Pac-12 was 6-0 in non-league games compared with 5-1 for the Southeastern Conference, which missed perfection when Rutgers rallied to defeat Arkansas. The Pac-12 is 29-4 in non-league play after going 28-15 last year. The SEC still leads all conferences with seven ranked schools. The Pac-12 has four teams ranked in the top 16 and two others, Arizona State and Arizona, receiving votes.

—Good news: Brigham Young running back Jamaal Williams, a sophomore from Fontana, was discharged from Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on Sunday after suffering a concussion and stinger in Saturday night's home loss to Utah. Williams was taken off the field by stretcher after a blow to the head in the third quarter. He entered the weekend as the nation's No. 3 rusher, averaging 163.3 yards a game.


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