Ute Rout. Oregon played Washington State this week, and I would have been hard-pressed to come up with a game more likely to figure into this column than that one entering Saturday. Then Utah decimated Iowa State.
The Utes put up 68 points on Iowa State, and outgained the Cyclones (348 total yards) with their passing game (354 yards). They got a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown from Reggie Dunn, and passing and receiving touchdowns from Shaky Smithson, who accounted for 293 all-purpose yards. The Utes entered the second quarter trailing 14-10 — and left it up 41-14, outgaining Iowa State 290-64 in that period alone.
And it's not as if this is a really terrible Iowa State team that Utah held to 0-for-11 on third down: the Cyclones stomped Texas Tech last week, and Tech might still be a bowl team. This is a bigger win over a BCS conference team than either Boise State or TCU has put up in the last five years, and gets my vote for most impressive blowout of the week.
Land Of Disenchantment. The potential toxicity of two schools from the Land of Disenchantment meeting was great, but New Mexico and New Mexico State managed to underwhelm in that respect, too.
New Mexico State claimed a 16-14 victory, but only after New Mexico scuttled a possible game-winning drive with a personal foul on the kickoff return, four incomplete passes, and an interception on a Hail Mary that only reached the New Mexico State 24. The Lobos' fourth quarter drives ended like this: fumble, punt, fumble, interception. The teams combined for just four plays of 20 or more yards, and none came in the second half; in fact, just two plays in the second half went for more than 10 yards. New Mexico State's only touchdown came on a fumbled punt. The teams traded consecutive three and outs in the second quarter that saw the Aggies lose 24 yards, followed by the Lobos losing 29 yards, followed by the Aggies losing another 26. New Mexico State had -32 yards in the third quarter. Each team had more punting yards than total offense.
Basically, it was the sort of game that gets seared into memory for all the wrong reasons. Land of Disenchantment is right.
Dual-Threat Quarterback Breakdown Ho!. For my money, there are three breakout Heisman candidates who are signal callers: Michigan's Denard Robinson, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, and Auburn's Cameron Newton. But which one is the best? To the numbers!
Robinson's are the gaudiest, even after a down day in a loss to Michigan State: 1,223 passing yards, eight touchdowns, four interceptions; 991 rushing yards, nine touchdowns. Martinez gets mentioned second, mostly because of his legs and flashy long runs, but his stats lag: 660 passing yards, with three scores to three picks; 737 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Newton's got beefy numbers: 1,138 passing yards, and 12 TDs to five INTs; 672 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
But I want to note that Newton's done it against tougher competition: Auburn's played four BCS conference teams, while Michigan's played three and Notre Dame and Nebraska's played just two. And Newton was sensational in Auburn's win over South Carolina, accounting for 334 yards and five touchdowns.
I know this race isn't over, and includes more than dual-threat quarterbacks, and includes one massive dual-threat quarterback whose name rhymes with Schmerrel Schmyor (24-for-30 for a career-high 334 yards and three TDs with no picks against Indiana on Saturday) who might get some consideration as the field general for an undefeated BCS championship contender. But of those three, who would seem to me to be the front-runners, I would give Newton the slightest of edges over Robinson, and I think both of them are substantially ahead of Martinez.
Oh, and I would analyze the nickname race virtually the same way, merely flipping Robinson and Newton. (T-Magic, really?)
Loss, Win For Woods. USC fell to Stanford on Saturday, but it wasn't Robert Woods' fault. The 18-year-old freshman more than matched his career production entering Saturday (13 catches, 175 yards, one touchdown) with a breakout game (12 catches, 225 yards, three TDs) against the Cardinal.
Also, in the Lane Kiffin Two-Point Conversion Watch, the Trojans didn't go for two all game, and lost by two despite a failed PAT from Stanford. Karma, karma, something or other.
BCS Busters: Mutual Foes. Boise State and TCU will be compared based on nearly every possible facet of their seasons, and their performance against mutual foes is one of those facets. There are just two teams each meet, Oregon State and Wyoming, and with all four games done, it's time to peer at those tea leaves.
In those games, Boise has won by an aggregate score of 88-30, and TCU has won by an aggregate 75-21. The Broncos' beatdown of Wyoming is the only road game of the four. If you can see some massive gulf in class between the two teams based on those results, by all means, appraise me of it. I don't see it.
Maybe the most significant thing for either team on this Saturday was Oregon State's upset of Arizona. The Beavers are now arguably the second-best team in the Pac-10, and get Oregon late in the season. If they look like a Rose Bowl outfit, that only helps Boise and TCU.
The Still Sponsor-Free Conference USA Shootout Of The Week. It has to be East Carolina 44, Southern Miss 43. The Pirates won despite four turnovers, an 18-of-36 day from quarterback Dominique Davis, and the Golden Eagles racing out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter. It helps when that fast-starting team commits 15 penalties for 153 yards, certainly, but the Pirates deserve credit for scoring their 44 points in just 22:18 of possession.
The Also Sponsor-Free MAC Foot-Shooting Of The Week. Akron's five-turnover day against Kent State was probably the worst of the bunch, especially because two of those turnovers turned into touchdowns. But special commendations go out to Eastern Michigan, Miami of Ohio, and Central Michigan for losing to teams in BCS conferences by a combined 142-30.
The Sun Belt Agonizing Moment Of The Week. Western Kentucky, winless since September 2008, had a chance to tie the game late against Florida International, thanks to a shanked punt that gave the Hilltoppers the ball at the FIU 36. Alas, Kawaun Jakes misfired on his only pass attempt of the drive, and the Hilltoppers took their 25th consecutive loss. Bright side: it's their only single-digit loss so far in 2010.
The FCS Box Score Of The Week. This week, it's Murray State's 72-59 win over Missouri State. The two teams combined for 1,423 yards of total offense. Missouri State averaged 12.65 yards per play. Racers quarterback Casey Brockman threw for 570 yards and seven touchdowns; his passer rating for the game was 349.94. Missouri State had three players rush for over 80 yards and a touchdown. Murray State's Mike Harris ran for 212 yards and had another 213 yards receiving. Missouri State led 59-52 in the fourth quarter, and then Murray State scored 21 points in 1:11 of clock. Perhaps the craziest thing of all: the game featured just that one lead change.
Notable Numbers. These are stats too brief for elaboration, and too good for tweets.
Nebraska had 451 rushing yards against Kansas State, and now has three outings of 350+ rushing yards this season; only Air Force, which has thrown the ball just 59 times, has more. ... Minnesota converted three third downs and three fourth downs; North Carolina converted three third downs and four fourth downs. ... Penn State has scored just 19 points against BCS conference opponents this year. ... Memphis has been outscored 104-7 in its last two games. ... UCLA ran for 264 yards on the road against Texas, and ran for 26 yards on the road against Cal. ... Southeastern Oklahoma beat Southwestern Oklahoma 42-35 in double overtime, and, well, now you know that both of those schools exist and have football teams.