Snaps II: ‘Pokes poke Bears with impunity
Snap Judgments from the Week 9 swing shift. For early shift Snaps, click here. For Stewart Mandel’s take on Joe Paterno’s historic 409th win, click here. For a recap of the Top 25 action, click here. And for highlights from SI.com, click here.
• No. 3 Oklahoma State 59, Baylor 24: I tell you what, sports fans, Oklahoma State was dressed for Halloween today, and Baylor played like a buncha zombies. HA! Sorry, that’s out of my system, but for real: The country’s 103rd-ranked defense just held the country’s second-ranked offense scoreless for an entire half, didn’t allow a touchdown before entering the fourth quarter with a 49-3 lead and finished with a 59-24 win despite being outgained, 622-599. Spookay!
Records were readily attained in Stillwater today: Joseph Randle and Justin Blackmon had career days on the ground and through the air, with 152 and 172 yards, respectively, and six touchdowns between them. Herschel Sims and Jeremy Smith were right behind Randle, recording 104 and 77 ground yards. It’s a mark of how spectacular the running game was for OSU that Brandon Weeden comes in here as almost an afterthought, with 24 completions for 264 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. (In a typical week, the Cowboys average closer to 387 passing yards, so this really was a slow day, only in ways that turned out not to matter.)
The ‘Pokes had help, mind: Baylor turned the ball over three times, played inefficient red-zone ball at crucial moments and diligently slathered its best receivers’ hands with sweet creamery butter before the start of every offensive series. All three Bears turnovers took place in Cowboy territory, and all took place in that astonishing first half of football.
And I want to know what, exactly, Art Briles was thinking calling out the field goal unit down 42-0 early in the third quarter. Did he think — and could he really be blamed for thinking? — that Oklahoma State’s first-half defensive performance was some kind of elaborate performance art, that the Cowboys would break character any second and that somewhere over the next half-hour those three points might count for something? Or has Tommy Bowden taken a job moonlighting as an offensive prowess advisor in Waco? [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 11 Oklahoma 58, No. 10 Kansas State 17: If you’re feeling an impulse to blame this collapse on that creepshow Bill Snyder Pinocchio piece that ran on ESPN this morning, don’t fight that instinct. Puppets are upsetting, and their proponents deserve wide berths.
The afternoon started off badly for the Sooners, with running back Dominique Whaley being lost for the season to a broken ankle on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Scoring plays flew fast throughout the first half, with OU taking a 23-17 lead into halftime, but the Sooner defense played shutout ball in the second half, scoring five touchdowns and allowing no further Wildcat points. Landry Jones set a school record with 505 yards passing, a feat not even Sam Bradford equaled during his time in Norman.
Your remaining undefeated teams: LSU, Alabama and Boise are safe through Week 9 thanks to byes and Oklahoma State and Houston are through thanks to wins, with Clemson and Stanford yet to play. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• No. 22 Georgia 24, Florida 20: Say a solemn prayer for columnists and talk-radio types who’ll have to abandon the “Mark Richt is TOTES FIRED y’all, no, FOR REAL THIS TIME” beat for at least a week, and maybe more if the Dawgs can manage to get past un-mighty New Mexico State. Power through, guys. It’s gonna be OK. With a returning John Brantley playing hurt the entire game and Aaron Murray ailing for a good part of it after an awkward hit on a scramble, and crucial tailbacks Chris Rainey and Isaiah Crowell suffering in-game injuries themselves, the Cocktail Party was low on star power but high on drama. Sans Rainey, the Gators were obliterated on the ground, finishing with negative nine yards rushing. The Dawgs struggled at times in the absence of one of their own sure things, with kicker Blair Walsh continuing an upsetting senior slump by missing two-of-three field goal attempts.
• No. 7 Oregon 43, Washington State 28: LaMichael James and Darron Thomas both resumed their starting roles for the Ducks today, but frankly weren’t needed, and Thomas, at least, looked like he could use the extra rest. After completing eight passes on 13 attempts for 149 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, Thomas ceded control to Bryan Bennett, who showed nice speed and poise in replacement duty last week against Colorado and turned in a 4-for-7, 88-yard, two-touchdown performance in Autzen. James recorded 55 yards on 13 carries, with No. 2 back Kenjon Barner gaining the bulk of the Ducks’ ground yards (108 on 11 carries). De’Anthony Thomas continues to impress in multiple units, with a 45-yard touchdown reception from Bennett and a 93-yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• No. 21 Penn State 10, Illinois 7: Before you make your funny, funny Big Ten football jokes: Here is what the weather was like today in Happy Valley. The six turnovers, not including a whopping seven fumbles recovered by the fumbling team, can be largely attributed to the weather. Here’s more from Stewart Mandel on Joe Paterno’s record-setting 409th win. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• No. 25 West Virginia 41, Rutgers 31: Another scary snow game here, but warmed wall to wall by the sight of Eric LeGrand rolling out of the locker room tunnel with an axe and a thousand-watt smile. The Mountaineers trailed the Scarlet Knights from late in the first quarter until 6:59 in the fourth quarter, before Geno Smith scored the last two of three unanswered touchdowns for a 10-point win. [RECAP | BOX]
• Minnesota 22, Iowa 21: Never underestimate the power of a shiny new seven-year contract, amirite? Down 21-10 early in the fourth quarter, the Golden Gophers scored two unanswered touchdowns to secure a bare one-point win despite two failed two-point conversions. The extra room on the scoreboard turned out to be unnecessary; James Vandenberg threw three straight incompletions on the Hawkeyes’ final possession and ran short of the first-down line on fourth down. [RECAP | BOX]
• Notre Dame 56, Navy 14: This was probably inevitable. It turns out that fielding the country’s 111th-ranked pass efficiency defense against a team averaging 267 yards of aerial offense per game isn’t a recipe for success! [RECAP | BOX]