Oct. 21, 2007
Matt Forté had another amazing game for Tulane.One could easily go on and on about the continuation of the great upset this weekend. Indeed, four top ten teams lost.
But then we expect that by now, don't we? In a season marked by parity and surprising results, the unexpected has almost become commonplace. If no one is surprised by an upset is it really an upset? What about if it occurs in a forest with no one around? What is the meaning of life?
Wait, what? Sorry, but it's easy to get off track when you try to make sense of the nonsensical. So I just won't do it (at least this week). Plenty of folks will try to tell you who is good and who isn't, but for one day at least I'm taking a break from it (at least in the main part of this article -- hey, I'm only human).
Instead, I want to recognize two amazing efforts by our two local universities.
The first one you know about: LSU's incredible comeback victory against the stout defense of the pesky Auburn Tigers. The second one (the heroics of Tulane running back Matt Forté) ... maybe not as much. We'll hopefully change that.
But first things first. LSU's comeback not only saved its season, but it made for incredible drama as well. Did anyone else think the team was cutting it close going for the touchdown with less than ten seconds on the clock? Les Miles' explanation that the team felt it had plenty of time at that point was all well and good, but the execution did not match the plan of attack. By waiting as long as he did to snap the ball, quarterback Matt Flynn inadvertently created one of the most dramatic moments of the season.
A deflection or bobbled ball could have ended the game right there. That final second could have ticked off and LSU would have walked away the loser. But supreme confidence, which this LSU team certainly does NOT lack, can get you through the tough times, and in this instance, the team's confidence paid off. Go for broke and you might get rewarded.
If LSU does not win the national championship this season, it will not have anything to do with the team's temperament. Even in a loss last week to Kentucky, LSU never wavered. The Tigers' bodies failed them late, when execution was critical, but it wasn't for lack of trying. And while you can question their focus, you cannot question the Tigers' heart.
Matt Forté has an abundance of said quality as well. The Tulane star carried the Green Wave on his back, powering for a Conference USA-record 342 yards (and four touchdowns) on 38 carries. The fourth score came in overtime, with Forté answering his team's defensive breakdowns by taking the game onto his own shoulders.
If you haven't seen Forté run yet this season, you're missing out. He may be the best player in his conference at any position, and if you like to go by numbers, you could argue for him as the best running back in the country. You're honestly in for a real treat every time you watch him play.
The Green Wave is working hard to adapt to new coach Bob Toledo and make improvement, but the results thus far have been decidedly mixed. And realistically, Forté is not doing it alone and some credit must go to his offensive line. But with this special running back taking carries on a regular basis, you've got to figure Tulane will be a tough out for anyone from here on out.
And that makes for some good college football action.
* Top-ranked Ohio State fields one of the nastiest defenses I've ever seen. I think just about any offense in the country would likely count itself lucky to score a single touchdown against the Buckeyes. Therefore, Michigan State attacked Ohio State elsewhere, scoring two touchdowns against the Buckeyes offense. In case you don't know, giving up two defensive touchdowns to the opposition is not a sign of a good offense. On paper, this Ohio State offense isn't nearly as offensive [sic] as the championship unit of five seasons ago, but does anyone out there have any real confidence that this offense can keep from imploding at an inopportune time? I guess we'll see, but I'm not convinced at all.
* I don't buy Oregon just yet as a legitimate national championship contender, but the Ducks are getting very close. Southern Cal proved nothing this week by bombing Notre Dame, UCLA is inconsistent as heck (losing to Utah AND Notre Dame in the out-of-conference slate) and Cal is in absolute freefall right now. With apologies to Arizona State (the schedule may just be too tough for the unproven Sun Devils), that leaves the Ducks. The Pac Ten race promises to be interesting from here on, but at least a couple of these teams can still emerge as national championship participants, and I think the Ducks are the best of the bunch.
* The Big East is its own worst enemy in 2007, with its teams knocking each other off left and right. But they certainly have no one to blame but themselves. If any of these teams other than South Florida had chosen to play anyone of consequence in their out-of-conference schedules, pollsters might have a frame of reference to judge these teams more accurately. Instead, a loss by any Big East team is punishing (generally dropping the losing team at least ten spots in the polls), and with the amount of balance the league seems to have this season (perceived doormats UConn, Syracuse and Pittsburgh all have upset victories under their belts), those losses are happening with frequency. Another loss by West Virginia might cripple the image of the entire league, but once again, the administrations at those schools might want to look in the mirror before protesting too loudly.
Top 25 Results:
(1) Ohio State 24, Michigan State 17
Rutgers 30, (2) South Florida 27
(4) Oklahoma 17, Iowa State 7
(5) LSU 30, (18) Auburn 24
Vanderbilt 17, (6) South Carolina 6
(7) Oregon 55, Washington 34
(14) Florida 45, (8) Kentucky 37
(9) West Virginia 38, Mississippi State 13
UCLA 30, (10) Cal 21
(13) Southern Cal 38, Notre Dame 0
(15) Missouri 41, (22) Texas Tech 10
(15) Kansas 19, Colorado 14
(19) Texas 31, Baylor 10
Alabama 41, (20) Tennessee 17
Pittsburgh 24, (23) Cincinnati 17
(24) Michigan 27, Illinois 17
Oklahoma State 41, (25) Kansas State 39