What did we learn from the weekend?
Oregon v. Michigan State
Does speed kill? The jury is still out on that, but for now we know that speed wins. Michigan State showed up at Autzen Stadium like the preseason top-five team that it was touted to be. Yet, its 24-17 halftime lead evaporated as the Ducks defense stymied the Spartans offense, showing that Oregon is more than an offensive powerhouse. The Ducks should cruise until their November 1 meeting with Stanford–even past UCLA.
Speaking of UCLA, the preseason hype-bubble has burst for the Bruins. UCLA and Heisman hopeful Brett Hundley have come out flat, winning by only a touchdown against Virginia and Memphis. UCLA went into those games favored by 21 and 24 points, respectively. After two scares, their record is 2-0, but in a strong Pac-12 they needed to show more at the outset.
UCLA will be favored in this week, but playing against an embarrassed Texas in Cowboys Stadium may be a trap game for the Bruins. If they don’t emerge victorious, their playoff aspirations will grind to a halt in Arlington.
Ohio State Loses to Virginia Tech
The only thing that could have possibly been worse for Ohio State than losing quarterback Braxton Miller for the season was losing to Virginia Tech. This was their only chance to show that they have what it takes to be nationally relevant while playing in a down Big 10 (See Nebraska, Michigan State, and Michigan’s latest performances). Unless Braxton Miller can make an inexplicable comeback, circa right now, Ohio State’s season will fade into oblivion.
Off the Field
On Friday, the day before Texas’ humiliating loss to BYU, Head Coach Charlie Strong dismissed another player. This brings the total number of dismissed players to eight in addition to four players currently serving suspensions. Longhorn fans and the administration hailed Strong as a reformer. But as Texas depletes its depth chart and the losses pile up, fans will surely look to reform the reformation. Of course, the onus isn’t on Strong to relax his standards, but on the players to rise to Strong’s more than reasonable expectations. If they don’t, Strong may end up reforming himself out of a job.
Pat Hayden’s perplexing jog down to the field to chat with the refs is both unprecedented and nonsensical. A referee has never changed a call after being harangued by a biased school representative. For Hayden to think otherwise is simply foolish.
The presence of athletic directors, conference commissioners, and other individuals closely aligned with schools on the playoff committee already serves as a matter of controversy. Pat Hayden’s actions in Palo Alto only works to fortify the controversy.