Early Snaps: A weekly dose of Auburn magic
Snap judgments from college football's second Saturday morning. For Snaps from the afternoon games, click here; evening games are here. For Andy Staples’ column on Alabama-Penn State, click here. For Stewart Mandel’s Michigan-Notre Dame column, click here. For more video highlights from SI.com, click here. There; you’re caught up.
• Auburn 41, No. 16 Mississippi State 34: So stop me if you've heard this before: The SEC West is a five-teams-deep lobster pot and we have absolutely no idea who'll emerge unscathed, if anyone. We do now know that the predicted changing of the guard, with Auburn relegated to a nonentity following its national title run, will have to wait just a little while longer after a surprisingly competitive game on the plains resulted in an even more surprising upset win for the home team.
The most striking similarity between the Tigers and Bulldogs in today's match came in the penalty yardage column: State's 10 penalties and Auburn's seven netted losses of 74 and 85 yards respectively, with just about every imaginable offense noted and flagged by the officials.
For the second time today, the would-be new rising power was thwarted with a red-zone stand in the waning seconds of the game. Late-stage heroics by Vick Ballard and Chris Relf came for naught when State's unlikely star of a quarterback was stuffed at Auburn's one-yard line as time expired.
Of course, the Tigers are used to this kind of drama. They’ve won nine games by four points or fewer under Gene Chizik, including their previous three contests against Alabama, Oregon and Utah State. So this seven-point margin of victory was actually rather comfortable by comparison. (RECAP | BOX)
• No. 15 Ohio State 27, Toledo 22: Somebody's not reading Campus Union! Help me help you, Buckeyes! The fun factoid floating around the broadcast during this game was that Ohio State hasn't lost to another Ohio-based team since falling to Oberlin (Oberlin!) in 1921. That somewhat deceptive streak was not snapped today, even though OSU gave it the old college try.
The Buckeyes struck a scant three minutes into the first quarter with a repeat of last week's classic hookup, Joe Bauserman-to-Jake Stoneburner, but Toledo had doubled up OSU by the end of the period thanks to two touchdown receptions by Eric Page. Ohio State responded in kind with 14 second-quarter points, and two touchdowns were traded in the third. The fourth quarter was a scoreless grind that might have ended very differently had Toledo's pocket protection not broken down. Austin Dantin's three sacks over the course of the afternoon boded ill for quarterback Terrance Owens, who took over full-time for the Rockets' final drive and was stymied on his final three pass attempts. Toledo made it as far as OSU's 16-yard line before failing to convert a fourth-and-five with 0:52 to play.
Blame today's near-upset on the Buckeyes' depleted roster all you like; at least next week's game against Miami will be more level in terms of suspension volume. Coming off worst in all this is Boise State, which for the second week in a row saw a solid future opponent downgraded in strength of schedule by a close, high-profile loss. (RECAP | BOX)
• No. 8 Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 0: Early on in Camp Randall this afternoon, Oregon State punted for negative yardage in no wind. At one point, Mike Riley changed quarterbacks mid-drive. This is all the information you require to know how this game went. But breathe regular, Beaver faithful. There are no handy metaphors for how much worse this could've been. Russell Wilson maintaining a passing total of under 200 yards and an 85 percent completion rating feels almost gracious; his three touchdown throws restrained. Montee Ball, too, made 118 rushing yards and two scores look easy. The still-Rodgersless Beavers advanced into the red zone only once, on an early fourth-quarter drive that ended with a fumble on the 10. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• No. 17 Michigan State 44, Florida Atlantic 0: Considering State's aspirations toward Big Ten Championhood, this really could have gone much worse for the Owls. But it's still another somber stop on Howard Schnellenberger's farewell tour. In case anybody was feeling bad about skipping this one in favor of Ohio State or Auburn coverage, shame highlights of the afternoon included a Florida Atlantic player fair-catching a punt intended for the other team and some disgusting business involving a Jersey Shore cast member cheering for Michigan State. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• No. 19 West Virginia 55, Norfolk State 12: Is Dana Holgorsen just not constituted for afternoon kickoffs? A 28-point third quarter doesn't excuse trailing to an FCS team 12-10 at halftime. It is perhaps best not to speak of the 'Eers' early offense, but Morgantown partisans might not be blamed for quaking at the thought of a visit from a real defense in two weeks. (RECAP | BOX)
• Iowa State 44, Iowa 41 (OT): Today in crippling symbolism: The scrub CyHawk trophy introduced after public outraged coaxed game officials to scrap the initial sculpture broke in two less than a minute after it reached Cyclone hands. (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• Kentucky 27, Central Michigan 13: CMU, absent the coach and quarterback who brought it so much MAC success in previous seasons, is not a team AQ squads want to be associated with right now when discussing rallies. No matter who's doing the rallying, it's not going to be good news for your guys. Which is more depressing: That the Chippewas outgained the Wildcats 146-27 in the first quarter, or that Kentucky actually managed to get a field goal out of that paltry yardage? Morgan Newton did "improve" on last week's 7-of-18, 97-yard passing performance with nine completions on 18 attempts for 115 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Weep, gentle readers, for the horrorshow that awaits next week, when the Wildcats host Louisville in college football's most diligent tribute to nihilism. Joker Phillips claims his team will enjoy this win. Why? (RECAP | BOX)