Week 2 was full of upsets, near-misses, and plenty of Big Ten woe. While the Wildcats, Spartans, and Buckeyes looked good enough, Michigan struggled and Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Penn State all fell. The conference that has long sought respect and an elite reputation took a big step backwards. Meanwhile, a former Big Ten coach earned an unexpected signature win at his new program.
Best Win of The Week: Arizona 59, Oklahoma State 38 in Tucson
Rich Rodriguez needed a high-profile victory to convince the nation, his players, and perhaps himself that he still had some magic left. After turning West Virginia into a national power, Rodriguez stumbled his way through several ugly season in Ann Arbor before being shown the door. Now with Arizona, he’s seeking a return to glory. His Wildcats aren’t yet ready to do battle with the Ducks or Trojans, but the Pac 12 isn’t all the deep of a league. And if week 2 is any indication, Arizona could be ready to make some noise.
Oklahoma state rolled into this matchup favored by 10, which seemed like a gross under-estimation by the bookkeepers. But maybe Vegas knew something we didn’t.
Early on this looked to be the game many expected. OSU jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in just over seven minutes of game times. But instead of continuing to pull away, the Cowboys fell apart. A series of personal foul calls and some ugly defense helped vault Arizona to a 23-14 halftime lead, and from there Arizona kept the pressure on.
Tailback Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns, adding a fourth score on a Matt Scott pass. Scott finished with a monster day, compiling 375 combined yards (320 passing) and completing nearly 70 percent of his throws.
There wasn’t much defense played by either side; Oklahoma State outgained the ‘Cats 636-501. But Cowboys’ mistakes ruled the day. Four turnovers and 15 penalties for 167 yards killed momentum time and time again as the program that dropped 84 points on FCS Savannah State wilted under stiffer competition.
Honorable Mention: Georgia 41, Missouri 20 in Columbia
Georgia didn’t look so good in week 1 against Buffalo. The Dawgs made up for with a big conference victory at Mizzou.
Worst Win of the Week: Michigan 31, Air Force 25 in Ann Arbor
I hate to pick on the Wolverines after including their loss to Alabama in week 1′s column, but scraping by Air Force by single digits in the Big House can’t pass without comment. The good news for Michigan fans is that Denard Robinson was flat out unbelievable. He threw for 208 yards, rushed for 218 (10.9 yards per carry!) and was generally unstoppable. A lone interception marred his number slightly, but all in all it was an outrageously good day.
The bad news is that the Wolverines had a total of 422 offensive yards. If you do some quick math, you’ll see that Robinson alone generated more yardage than the tema’s final tally. How is that possible? Because of the collective or “team” losses on negative plays. The bottom line is that Michigan was as one-dimensional as it gets; all Robinson, all the time.
The Wolverine defense was toasted for 417 totals yards, including 290 rushing yards. Air Force won the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes. In many ways, the Falcons outplayed their heavily-favored hosts, but they simply couldn’t contain the Heisman hopeful lined up under center.
The 21.5-point spread indicated that most experts expected this matchup to be one-sided. And after getting drubbed by the Tide, Michigan, and the Big Ten in general, could have used a good showing. It was not to be. The not-so-valiant victors will have to be satisfied with the narrow win as they look ahead to what should be an easy win versus UMass.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Notre Dame 20, Purdue 17 in South Bend
After looking great against Navy in Dublin, Notre Dame had a typically Notre Dame-like performance against in-state rival Purdue before eking out a weak victory.
Upset of the Week: Lousiana Monroe 34, Arkansas 31 (OT) in Little Rock
Arkansas went from being ranked #8 to dropping out of the AP Top 25, marking the second biggest fall from rankings grace in history behind (#5 Michigan was no longer ranked after losing to Appalachian State in 2007). How did the lowly Warhawks manage this feat? After all, this is a program that finished sixth out of nine Sun Belt teams just a year ago; a mediocre program in the FBS’ worst conference.
In two words- Kolton Browning.
The junior quarterback torched the Arkansas D for four touchdowns and 481 total yards, including 412 through the air. He completed 42 of 67 passes in a aerial assault that has to have Razorback fans scratching their heads.
Sure, Arkansas has been know for its offensive output rather than its defensive fortitude of late. But this should have an easy win. Arkansas was favored by 30.5. Even with quarterback Tyler Wilson playing at less than 100% following a week 1 head injury, this matchup shouldn’t have been much more than a small bump in the road.
Unfortunately, the Hogs’ D forgot to show up.
ULM post 550 total yards of offense and possessed the ball for more than 39 minutes in a truly dominant performance. The Warhawks’ defense limited the high-octane Hogs to 377 total yards and only 96 on the ground, intercepting both Wilson and backup Brandon Allen. Arkansas was lucky to even get to overtime; on paper the game was far more lopsided than the way it finished.
Honorable Mention: Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7 in Corvallis
A seemingly botched onside kick call notwithstanding, Oregon State earned this upset win by containing the usually irrepressible Montee Ball to the tune of 61 yards on 15 carries.
Blowout of the Week: Kansas State 52, Miami 13 in Manhattan
Miami was looking for vengeance after the front end of this home-and-home series. Last year the Wildcats escaped south Florida with a win when an apparent Jacory Harris touchdown was overturned on replay. But though they had plenty to motivate them, the ‘Canes came out flat and stayed that way as Collin Klein and K-State took them behind the woodshed.
AND THE GAME BALLS GO TO…
Strobl: Matt Scott, QB- Arizona
Back in 2009, then-sophomore Matt Scott beat out a transfer QB named Nick Foles to earn the starting job for the Wildcats. Things didn’t go so well for him, and soon enough Foles took over the role he would hold through the end of the 2011 season. After redshirting last year, Scott returned for his senior season looking for redemption. In week 1 his team struggled to a 24-17 overtime win against Toledo, though his personal numbers (30 of 46 passing for 387 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) were outstanding. In week 2 Scott the win came a little easier. And all Scott had to do was to top a team that dropped a staggering 84 points the previous weekend. Against the #18 Oklahoma State Cowboys Scott connected on 28 of 41 attempts (68.3%) for 320 yards and two scores. He added 55 rushing yards and another TD on the ground as Rich Rodriguez and Arizona stomped OSU 59-38.
John Mitchell: Kolton Browning, QB- Louisiana Monroe
In what was probably the biggest win in program history, Louisiana Monroe went on the road and defeated a Top-10 team in Arkansas 34-31 in overtime. Warhawks QB Kolton Browning played the game of his life to lead his team to the upset. Browning had an absurd 67 pass attempts, completing 42 of them for 412 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. Browning also ran the ball 16 times for 69 yards and a score. Browning scored the winning touchdown in overtime with LA Monroe trailing by three. On a 4th-and-1, Browning ran to his left after a play-fake, and then changed directions to the right and saw nothing but daylight as he scampered 16 yards for the touchdown and the victory..
Zach Bigalke: Brett Hundley, QB- UCLA
Despite reaching the inaugural Pac-12 championship game last season, UCLA has been largely an afterthought in college football in recent years. After inviting Nebraska to the Rose Bowl, though, and sending the Blackshirts home with a loss, a new era just might be dawning in Westwood. It all starts with the redshirt freshman QB, who has ignited a stagnant offense and raised the performance of his teammates. Hundley gave the Bruins a consistent game, completing 21-of-33 for 305 yards and four touchdowns. He also scrambled to the tune of 53 more ground yards on a dozen carries. And Hundley’s decision-making only opened more space up for RB Jonathan Franklin, who had a 200+ yard day of his own. Jim Mora has to be happy he’s got the building blocks to perhaps finally return UCLA to challenger status in Los Angeles and the broader Pac-12..