Can weird football weekend be attribted to 10-10-10?
Football coaches are always looking for an answer as to why certain things happen that throw a monkey wrench into a perfectly good situation.
Can it be fate? How about the alignment of the stars in the sky? Or the particular phase of the moon?
Perhaps the answer to last weekend’s wacky set of events was due to the date on our calendars. What’s so different about October, 10, 2010 or simply 10-10-10?
Actually it’s just another day in the lives of football coaches around the country. But that might not be what Dallas Cowboys’ coach Wade Phillips or Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak or Alabama coach Nick Saban or Florida coach Urban Meyer said about this past weekend.
All four coaches went into their games last weekend as significant favorites to win their respective contests. Today all four are scratching their heads wondering what went wrong to cause those horrible upsets.
Saban’s Crimson Tide, collegiate football’s defending national champion, survived a huge scare two weeks ago at Arkansas when they were outplayed by the hosting Razorbacks for more than three quarters of the game before rebounding to pull out a 24-20 victory to keep their unblemished record and No. 1 status in the NCAA College Football Polls intact.
But Saban should have known that when you’re the defending national champs and No. 1 in the College Football Polls that his team has a giant target painted on their backside.
Everybody is gunning to knock off No. 1, but not too many scheduled opponents have the necessary firepower to make it happen.
After narrowly escaping the trap set for them by the Razorbacks in Fayetteville a couple of weeks ago, Saban’s charges thought they were prepared for another chapter by the South Carolina Gamecocks on their trip to Columbia last weekend.
Gamecocks’ head coach Steve Spurrier was a very talented quarterback during his heyday and is even a slyer and more clever football coach. He set the trap for Alabama through the talents of his protégé and quarterback Stephen Garcia.
Up until last weekend South Carolina had never beaten a team ranked No. 1—at least not in football. Spurrier foreshadowed the effects of 10-10-10 when he told his team before Saturday’s game, “Fellas, if fate means for us to win this game Saturday, then let’s give it a chance. Let’s give fate a chance to happen.”
The defending national champions had won 19 straight games including last week’s 31-6 rout of Florida since losing the Sugar Bowl to Utah after the 2008 season. Alabama went into Saturday’s contest as a solid seven-point favorite.
But on this Saturday Garcia and the Gamecocks used Alabama’s own formula for success—cashing in on chances close to the goal line and limiting the country’s best tailback duo in Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to 64 yards. The loss dropped Alabama from the top spot down to No. 8 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 college football polls.
South Carolina made mincemeat of the country’s top-rated scoring defense by putting up more points on Alabama since the Tide’s 41-34 loss to LSU in 2007. The Gamecocks scored four touchdowns when they got inside the red zone, which was double what Alabama had allowed coming into this game.
Garcia was almost perfect by completing 17-of-20 passes for 201 yards and three touchdown passes. Alabama battled back from a 21-3 deficit to 28-21, but the Gamecocks wouldn’t allow them any closer and took down the defending national champions 35-21.
And Meyer’s Gators had their hopes of winning the national title with one loss dashed by Head Coach Les Miles and his band of Bayou Bengals from LSU.
Trailing 29-26 with 35 seconds left in the game at Gainesville, FLA, the LSU Tigers lined up for a game-tying 52-yard field goal that would have tied the game. But holder Derek Hilton threw a no-look pitch over his head to kicker Josh Jasper, who scooped up the bouncing pigskin and ran for a first down.
Quarterback Jarrett Lee connected on a 28-yard pass play to lanky Terrence Tolliver and on the second fade route attempt hit Tolliver for the 3-yard touchdown giving LSU a 33-29 victory over the seven-point favored Gators.
The Houston Texans hopes of making the post-season playoffs took a step backward as they never were in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, who dominated offensively, defensively and even with special teams. And this all happened before a partisan crowd at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
This was the second consecutive home game against a team from the NFC East that Houston was favored (by 3) and the second straight time the Texans were never in the game. In their last home game the Texans lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-13.
In fact Sunday’s 34-10 drubbing handed them by the Giants was so bad what few fans remained until the end booed the home team off the field.
If there was anything positive that came out of Sunday’s mismatch, it had to be the fact the loss merely put all four teams in the AFC South in a tie for first (or last) place with identical 3-2 records.
As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned, Sunday’s 34-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans really hurt their dreams of hosting the Super Bowl as they record plummeted to 1-3, despite the fact they were favored to win at home by seven points.
Throw in the fact quarterback Tony Romo threw for 406 yards by completing 31-of-46 passes and the loss really becomes a mystery. Perhaps it was the three completions Romo had to the Titan defenders that helped spell defeat. Romo appears to this Korner to be more of a gunslinger than a top-rated NFL quarterback.
Mistakes, most of them of the very stupid variety, helped give the Titans an easy victory. The Cowboys were flagged 13 times for 133 yards. If there was a bright spot for them it has to be that 11-11-11 is still more than a year away.
KWICKIES…Although he didn’t win Sunday’s game with a last second field goal, Bridge City’s Matt Bryant booted two important field goals that helped his Atlanta Falcons defeat the Cleveland Browns 20-10. Bryant kicked field goals of 24 and 30 yards in front of the hostile Cleveland crowd of 65,290.
Alabama’s loss last weekend allowed Ohio State to take over No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 college football polls. Oregon is No. 2, Boise State No. 3 TCU No. 4, Nebraska No. 5, Oklahoma No. 6, Auburn No. 7, Alabama No. 8, LSU No. 9 and South Carolina No. 10.
The New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers also suffered upset losses Sunday. The seven-point favored Saints were upended in Phoenix by the Arizona Cardinals 30-20, the three-point favored Packers were nipped in overtime 16-13 by the Washington Redskins and the six-point favored Chargers were ambushed by the Oakland Raiders 35-27.
Got a chance to play The National Golf Club of Louisiana in Westlake Monday and came away very impressed at the 18-hole layout. There are plenty of sand traps and lots of water, but the course is basically fair for the average golfer. The greens are unlike any seen around this part of the country. They roll very fast and true, but there is no grain on any of the greens. My brother Dick who was visiting from Jupiter, Fla. and I made the half-hour drive and really liked everything about the golf course that is managed by Billy Casper Golf.
JUST BETWEEN US…If anyone is wondering what happened to former West Orange-Stark and Texas Longhorn star Deon Beasley we’ve got the answer. Deon signed a free-agent Canadian Football League contract with the Winnepeg Blue Bombers on July 12. He has worked his way into a starting cornerback position and in Monday’s game against the British Columbia Lions he had his moment of glory in the overtime period, after Winnepeg scored a touchdown but missed the required two-point conversion, Beasley intercepted a Lions’ pass and ran it back some 75 yards for a touchdown, giving Winnepeg a 47-35 victory. In the CFL, each team has an opportunity to score in overtime. Deon has made 20 tackles and has three interceptions for the Blue Bomber defense so far this season.