Just call it Statement Saturday.
As to which team made this biggest one in college football, wow, pick your poison.
South Carolina 35, Georgia 7 – The sixth-ranked Gamecocks thoroughly dismantled the fifth-ranked Bulldogs, making it none-too-subtle that they plan to contend for SEC title honors, which, as we should know, means the same thing as vying for national title honors. It’s not the offense that makes South Carolina special. In fact, odd as it may seem, that’s never been the staple of the squad ever since offensive mastermind Steve Spurrier took over in Columbia. The defense, sparked by sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney, is just dynamite, and previously potent Georgia was no match, unable to run or pass.
Florida 14, Louisiana State 6 – If Gators fans were concerned by Will Muschamp’s initial campaign as head coach in 2011, they should be completely on board now. No. 10 Florida was tough, physically and mentally, against an LSU outfit that never backs down from any team. It was eye-opening to see the Gators wear down the Tigers’ defense in the second half, paving the way to a pair of 12-yard Michael Gillislee TD runs as part of the senior back’s gut-busting 34-carry, 146-yard day.
Oregon 52, Washington 21 – Maybe the No. 23 Huskies weren’t exactly worthy of a national ranking, essentially off one big win (Stanford). Still, it’s kinda hard to ignore what the second-ranked Ducks are doing to any opponent in their path. They’re just so deep and so fast across the board. Everyone keeps talking about De’Anthony Thomas, but the key guy for Oregon has been running back Kenyon Barner, who has 727 yards and 9 TDs rushing thus far.
West Virginia 48, Texas 45 – OK, so Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith didn’t throw for 500 yards and six scores this time out. For the eighth-ranked Mountaineers, though, this was an even bigger deal … because it gave their entire team some legitimacy. Heck, Smith, even with throwing for 268 yards and four scores, wasn’t even the main star in this one. Sophomore RB Andrew Buie was, bleeding the 11-ranked Longhorns for 207 yards and two scores on 31 carries.
Ohio State 63, Nebraska 38 – Umm, did someone say something about landing in Columbus, Ohio, bringing out the inner Woody Hayes in head coach Urban Meyer? Guilty as charged. Of course, the 12th-ranked Buckeyes did all their damage on the ground in this one, as QB Braxton Miller led the 371-yard, six-TD ground assault with 186 yards and a score on just 16 carries. Four turnovers by the No. 21 Huskies didn’t hurt the cause, either.
Upstart Division – Don’t say you weren’t warned about Penn State. The Nittany Lions erupted against Northwestern in the final frame, erasing an 11-point deficit to win by 11 and knock the 24th-ranked Wildcats from their unbeaten perch. QB Matt McGloin is quality and new feature back Zack Zwinak is a load at 232 pounds. On the other end of the spectrum, scratch Florida State from the national-title talk. The third-ranked Seminoles were stunned by North Carolina State as the Wolfpack controlled the second half and finished off the upset with the second of Mike Glennon’s TD passes.
Temple celebrated its return to the Big East with a rarity – a conference victory. During their initial run (1991-2004), the Owls went 14-80 in the circuit. But they hung on against South Florida, 37-28, as Chris Coyer ran for a score and threw for another and Boston College transfer Montel Harris, the all-time leading ground gainer in ACC history, rushed for 133 yards and two scores. Keep an eye on Coyer; he has a Tebow quality about him … Two years ago, Auburn won the national title with a perfect record. Currently, the Tigers stand at 1-4, 0-3 in the SEC … Three teams in the Big East are unbeaten – Louisville (5-0), Rutgers (5-0) and Cincinnati (4-0), and all are ranked – 18th, 20th and 21st. What was that about how bad the conference had become?