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September 19, 2011
Here's a quickie look at the weekend's action in a conference-by-conference manner.
Think of it as one final chance to look back at the weekend that was. We will have this conference call every Monday.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Clemson. Not only did Clemson knock off the defending national champions, it beat them at their own game. Auburn had won 17 consecutive games by continually delivering down the stretch. Auburn was behind or tied in the fourth quarter in half of its 14 victories last season, including a 27-24 overtime victory over Clemson in which it erased an early 17-0 deficit. But this time it was Clemson that came from behind and took command late in a 38-24 victory. After falling behind 21-7, Clemson scored 31 of the game's final 34 points. Clemson won by racking up 624 total yards, its third-highest total in school history.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Cincinnati's defense. Akron may be the worst team in the FBS, but Cincinnati's defensive performance against the Zips can't be disregarded. A week after Tennessee's Tyler Bray passed for 405 yards against Cincinnati, the Bearcats scored three defensive touchdowns in the first half against Akron - a 54-yard fumble recovery from LB Maalik Bomar, a 36-yard interception return by CB Dominique Battle and a 53-yard interception return from CB Camerron Cheatham. Cincinnati's probably not going to have an above-average defense this season, but an adequate defense may be enough to beat some teams on its schedule, starting with N.C. State on Thursday. The Wolfpack are 10th in the ACC in total offense.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Illinois. A 17-14 win over visiting Arizona State stamps the Fighting Illini as legit contenders in the Leaders Division. In fact, Illinois may be Wisconsin's most serious contender in the division. The play of a rebuilt defense has been key. And sophomore Nathan Scheelhaase continues to mature into a solid quarterback with playmaking skills. Ron Zook is alive!
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Oklahoma's run defense. The Sooners were thought to be vulnerable to the run, and that was an area Florida State hoped to exploit. Instead, OU limited the Seminoles to a mere 27 rushing yards. Of course, there were 37 yards subtracted from the total because of sacks, but omit those numbers and the Sooners still held Florida State to 64 rushing yards. Seminoles starting QB E.J. Manuel rushed for 49 yards, but 28 came on one play. OU LBs Tony Jefferson, Tom Wort and Travis Lewis, who was a surprise starter, posted eight tackles apiece.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: UNLV. The Rebels headed into their home opener as three-touchdown underdogs to Hawaii. They exited as three-touchdown victors. UNLV raced to a 17-0 lead and never looked back in a 40-20 stunner. Tim Cornett rushed for two scores, Phillip Payne caught two touchdown passes and the defense held Hawaii to 6 rushing yards. UNLV also limited potent Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz to 233 passing yards. This hardly resembled the same UNLV team that had been outscored 110-24 by Wisconsin and Washington State in its first two games.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Colorado's offensive line. The Buffaloes were without their two starting tackles, but still managed 360 total yards against Colorado State. The CU linemen were especially impressive in controlling the line of scrimmage during a victory-clinching fourth quarter drive that drained 10:03 off the clock. It was Colorado's most time-consuming drive since 1961.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: LSU's defense. It wasn't a surprise that the defense led the way to a victory at Mississippi State, but the Tigers' run defense performed beyond expectations. Mississippi State managed just 52 rushing yards on 34 attempts - 1.5 yards per carry. Bulldogs QB Chris Relf was left battered and bruised after he managed all of 10 yards on 16 carries, thanks to four sacks.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Florida International's rush defense. The Golden Panthers held UCF to 119 rushing yards and a scant 3.0 yards per carry in upsetting the Knights 17-10. UCF had run all over Boston College last week, but FIU's aggressive defense stifled UCF in helping the Golden Panthers move to 3-0.
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