College Football Recap- Week 4

What another great weekend of college football! A weekend that was filled with many twists and turns! I had a hunch that there would be several upsets, along with some “close-calls”…and there were. However, many of these upsets came from unexpected places and unexpected teams.

If you are keeping track, there were 5 teams from the Top 25 that fell on Saturday to un-ranked opponents: #13 Virginia Tech, #14 Mississippi State, #15 Oklahoma State, #17 TCU, and #23 Boston College.

There were 2 teams from the Top 10 (#5 Oklahoma and #7 Stanford) who had to squeak out wins in overtime. Oklahoma pulled out a win against Army 28-21 OT, and Stanford rallied from 17 points down in the second half to defeat #20 Oregon 38-31 OT.

If you watched the Stanford/Oregon game, then you would know that it was something incredible to behold. When Stanford intercepted Justin Herbert’s pass in the end-zone on a fourth-and-goal play, and the game came to an end, I could not believe what I had just witnessed!

So for CFB Cluster’s College Football Recap- Week 4, let’s start right here with this game!

Stanford- 38, Oregon- 31 OT 
In my humble opinion, I would say that the Ducks “Deserved” to win this game. Not to take anything away from Stanford, because they did everything that was required of them to pull-out a win. But if you watched the game, it was obvious that Oregon out-performed Stanford from beginning to end.

It was also very obvious that the Ducks “Should Have” won the game based on two main reasons: (1) The replay officials made a horrific call in the third quarter that absolutely affected the outcome of the game. This particular call resulted in a monumental shift in momentum, not to mention the scoreboard. (2) Oregon had the game won with just under a minute left to play, but an incredibly foolish mistake made by a freshman running back, left the door open for the Cardinal to find life.

Late in the third quarter Oregon held a 24-7 lead, and they had the ball at the Stanford 17 yard line. The Ducks ran an end-around to receiver, Jaylon Redd, who scampered 17 yards into the end-zone. The crowd was going crazy, the Oregon players were celebrating, and life was “all good”!

The Replay 
On the replay, we watched Jaylon leap across the goal line and saw his left foot bump the pylon as he was in the air. We also noticed that his left foot landed out of bounds in the end-zone. So it was not surprising that the officials wanted to take a look at it just to be sure. Ok, no big deal…Right?

As we watched the replay several times, it was very clear that Jaylon’s body, along with the ball crossed the plane of the goal line while he was still in-bounds. After the ball was well passed the goal line, then his foot landed out of bounds. Even broadcasters, Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler, indicated that the play was going to result in a touchdown. From their comments, they both seemed very certain.

But when the referee came back to give the official call, he stated that runner was out of bounds and that the ball would be spotted at the 1 yard line. If you were like me, then you were thinking (maybe screaming), “what just happened!!!”

Then we heard Dave Cutaia (expert rules guy in booth) say that the pylon is out of bounds, and because Jaylon’s foot touched the pylon (even though he was in the air), that made him out of bounds. Again, “what in the world just happened!!!”

We have seen it 1,000 times. We see it many times each week- an offensive player running as hard as he can toward the corner of the end-zone. At some point, he realizes that he’s not quite going to make it, so he dives, stretching out his arms and the ball as far as he can. Meanwhile, his body is completely airborne and completely horizontal from the ground. We see the ball hit the pylon as the offensive player flies out of bounds, often loosing control of the ball in the process.

Then we see the referee signal touchdown! We watch the replay over and over again and listen to the commentators talk about how “all you have to do is cross the plane of the goal line” or how “the ball just has to touch the pylon because the pylon is considered part of the end-zone”.

But now, all of a sudden, because the offensive player’s foot bumped the pylon as he was in the air, he is now considered to be out of bounds! I don’t get it???

The Craziness 
So what happened next? On the ensuing play, the Oregon center snapped the ball over Justin Herbert’s head. Luckily Herbert recovered the ball at the 10 yard line. On second down, CJ Verdell ran for 6 yards to the Stanford 4 yard line. But on third down there was another high snap, and this time Herbert could not get to it.

Stanford defender, Joey Alfieri, scooped up the ball and ran 80 yards for a touchdown! It was unbelievable, it was shocking, and it was a game changer!

The Fumble 
With just over three minutes left in the game, Oregon had the ball, clinging to a 3 point lead. The Ducks made some really nice plays and moved the ball out to the 43 yard line, where they were facing a 3rd-and-3. Stanford had already burned two timeouts, therefore, they only had one left.

Quarterback, Justin Herbert, ran around the left end on a well-called and well-executed play. He picked up 7 yards, but more importantly picked up the first down. With under two minutes remaining, the game was all but over. Stanford could only stop the clock once more.

Surprisingly, with 1:35 on the clock, Oregon chose to run the ball instead of taking a knee. However, it worked out just fine because CJ Verdell ran up the middle for 7 yards to the Stanford 43 yard line. Now, with the time ticking away, all the Ducks had to do is take a knee…or hand the ball off and have the running back basically fall down.

Instead, CJ Verdell, took the hand-off up the middle (just like the play before) and ran like his team was trailing, fighting for every last inch. Normally, this kind of effort is admirable and appreciated. But under the circumstances, this is the last thing that you want your running back to do!

As Verdell fell to the ground, fighting for every inch, the Cardinal defenders hit him hard and knocked the ball loose. Stanford quickly recovered the fumble and the rest is history…heroic drive, clutch field goal, spectacular touchdown catch in overtime, and one last stop for the defense! Stanford wins!!!

Just like all of the Oregon Duck fans sitting in Autzen Stadium, I too was in shock and disbelief! What a game!

Final Thoughts 
1. There are several conference/divisional races that continue to become more and more interesting each week.

I maintain what I said last week that the Big 12 is going to be very competitive. Kansas and Baylor are much improved from last season and are capable of putting up a descent fight. Texas defeated TCU, 31-16, making their claim that they can be one of the best teams in the conference. We also saw Texas Tech go into Stillwater and hammer a very good Oklahoma State team, 41-17. It seems that there is going to be a lot of parity in this conference, along with many more surprises!

The Big 10 East is going to provide a “wild ride”…Maybe? Maryland and Indiana are both off to 3-1 starts, and the “Big 4” teams (“TTFDB”, Penn State, Michigan, & Michigan State) all seem to be playing well. There are going to be some huge match-ups in the upcoming weeks with major playoff implications. One of the biggest games will occur this Saturday when #4 “TTFDB” travels to Happy Valley to take on #9 Penn State.

Both the North and the South divisions in the Pac 12 are going to be really competitive, tight races. With what we saw from Stanford and Oregon on Saturday night, both teams are going to give Washington a run for their money. We also still have California sitting out there who also appears to be a tough out. After USC’s exciting win against Washington State (39-36) on Friday night, this could turn into a four-team race in the South. But we also can’t completely count out Arizona after they rebounded with an impressive road win against Oregon State, 35-14.

The SEC East suddenly became much more interesting after this past weekend! Yes, Georgia is still “head and shoulders” above everyone else, but it looks like their path to the SEC Championship game could be more difficult than originally expected. Kentucky is 4-0 and already has impressive wins against Florida and Mississippi State. Florida has looked more lively in the past couple weeks, and has shown that they are not going to be an easy out. Despite getting beat-up by Georgia, South Carolina is still a solid team. And despite losing this past Saturday, I still think that Vanderbilt and Missouri are pretty good teams. I am curious to see how this division plays out?

2. The ACC doesn’t seem all that great! Outside of Clemson, we are talking about Duke and Syracuse as the powerhouse teams of the conference…and this is NOT Basketball season! Overall, the ACC has a lot of bad-to-mediocre teams. After four weeks, they have already tallied-up about 10, “really bad” loses (depending on how your counting) to go along with several “close-calls”. If Clemson goes down (even once), I think that it’s going to be hard for this conference to get a team into the playoffs.

3. Congratulations to Old Dominion!

It was an unbelievable performance! What else can we say?
Old Dominion- 49, Virginia Tech- 35