TIGER RAG VIEWPOINT:<br>Where We Stand

It was just one of those kinds of days. So many teams came so close, but yet were so far way in the end. We are talking upsets folks and there were many in the making on Saturday, but really only one came to fruition. USC, Oklahoma and most of the powers that be pulled through on Saturday. Darn it! <br><br> While two of the big boys went down Saturday, that being Tennessee and Miami, the college football landscape, at the top anyway, remained the same. Sit back and enjoy this week's rant.

 

To Oregon State and Texas A&M. While neither of these teams managed to pull off the upset that millions of fans around the country wanted them to, you have to give the Beavers and Aggies credit for a pair of outstanding efforts on Saturday. OSU, which lost to LSU 22-21 earlier this season (like we needed to remind you), jumped out to a 13-0 lead in a pea soup like fog. But the Trojans battled back and staved off defeat another week (now 18 straight) winning 28-20. Like the Beavers, Texas A&M seized an early lead in a rocking Kyle Field, but the emotion finally wore off. While the Aggies had a shot of tying the game on a last-second Hail Mary, the pass fell short and Oklahoma escaped defeat once more.

 

 

To SEC officiating. Again, SEC officials changed the outcome of an entire football game. While the right call was made, an "inadvertent" whistle in the first quarter of the South Carolina- Arkansas game might have cost the Razorbacks a victory. Leading 7-0 midway through the first period, a pooched kickoff bounced off the shoulder pads of a South Carolina defender trying to fend off the bright sunlight and field the ball. Johnny on the spot, an Arkansas cover man pounced on the loose ball giving the Hawgs possession on the Gamecock 20. You could sense Arkansas was about two plays away from a 14-0 lead and the game would all but be headed toward over. But instead, the head official tooted his whistle and announced an "inadvertent" whistle had blown and the ball would have to be re-kicked. You can imagine Houston Nutt's reaction. Oh by the way, South Carolina won the game 35-32.

 

 

To Oklahoma State. In one of the most bizarre meltdowns in recent memory, the OSU Cowboys blew a 35-7 lead and lost to the Texas Longhorns on Saturday. But not only did they blow a 28-point lead, the Cowboy defense gave up 49 straight points to the Horns as Texas blew out Oklahoma State 56-35. Wow! Maybe this should have been Paws Up to the Texas offense…. Nah.

 

 

To the Tennessee Volunteers and a 17-13 loss Saturday to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Volunteers, who had been preaching Rodney Dangerfield No Respect all week long, got embarrassed on their homefield by a mediocre Fighting Irish team. We can cut Tennessee some slack though. The Volunteers, already having lost freshman quarterback Brent Schaeffer, lost its second freshman signal caller when Eric Ainge went down with a separated shoulder on Saturday. That means the Vols, who only have Kentucky and Vanderbilt left on their schedule, will likely be led into the SEC Championship Game against Auburn by former LSU quarterback Rick Clausen. Yikes!

 

 

To the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. While you won't find any love for the gold-domers here, we have to pass along some kudos to Irish coach Ty Willingham and his team for going on the road, into Knoxville, and coming away with the "W." While the Beano Cook's of the world will say this is the beginning of Notre Dame's ascent back to the elite of college football, we won't go that far.

 

 

 

What happened to the Purdue Boilermakers? Do you remember just a month ago Joe Tiller's team was ranked 5th in the country and quarterback Kyle Orton was the early favorite for the Heisman Trophy. What a difference a month makes? Purdue has now lost four straight, most recently a 23-21 loss at Iowa and has plummeted to 5-4, 2-4 in the Big 10. Could it be possible the Boilermakers could go from a top five team to not even making a bowl game? Games remaining for Purdue include a pair of home tilts versus Ohio State and the Fighting DiNardo's of Indiana.

 

 

To the Miami defense – or lack there of. For the first time since, who knows how long it has been, the Miami Hurricanes have lost back-to-back games. Last week, North Carolina kicked a last second field upending Larry Coker's team. Saturday, resurgent Clemson forced overtime and came out on top 24-17 defeating the Cane sin the Orange Bowl. Kudos to Clemson, though.  Team that started 1-4, the Tigers have rattled off four straight wins and again look to have saved coach Tommy Bowden's job.

 

 

To Sylvester Croom and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. In a week of emotion concerning the Bulldogs matchup with Alabama on Saturday, Croom handled a sticky situation with a great deal of class. A homecoming of sorts, the first-year coach took his team into Tuscaloosa, a place where he played and coached under the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant. A somewhat nasty chain of events transpired two years ago when Croom was passed over for the head coaching position at Alabama for the younger more inexperienced Mike Shula. Then Shula pulled a major faux-pass by taking Croom's name off on of the Tide's spring game awards, but blushingly replaced it after a swarm of criticism. Croom downplayed the situation, but you know he wanted to win on his first trip back to the homeland. While Shula got the victory Saturday, a 30-14 victory, you can bet Croom will win his share in the future.

-MD


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