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October 3, 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: Wake Forest. The easy answer here is to go with Clemson, which became the first ACC team to defeat three consecutive opponents ranked in each of the two major polls. But in an attempt to spread the love a little bit, we'll use this space to honor the preseason pick to finish last in the Atlantic Division. Seriously, who expected Wake Forest would be tied for first place in the Atlantic five weeks into the season? The Demon Deacons (3-1) already have matched their win total from last season. Wake Forest's 27-19 victory at Boston College gave the Deacons a 2-0 start in ACC competition for only the fifth time in school history.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Pittsburgh's offense. Ray Graham's performance (226 rushing yards, three total touchdowns) was the top story to come out of Pitt's 44-17 rout of USF on Thursday, but the entire offense deserves to be commended. Even without veteran Gs Chris Jacobson and Lucas Nix, who suffered a knee injury on the second play of the game, the Panthers' line pushed around USF's defensive front to clear the way for Graham. QB Tino Sunseri had his best game of the season, going 22-of-33 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He's still having problems taking sacks (three against USF), but he was interception-free for the second week in a row.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Wisconsin. Yes, most thought the Badgers would beat Nebraska, but few envisioned a 48-17 beatdown. The victory solidifies the Badgers as the Big Ten's best team, with seemingly no challenger. Wisconsin will be favored in every remaining game. And if the Badgers win out, they could find their way to the BCS title game.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Texas Tech's pass defense. The Red Raiders, who had only one interception in their first three games, grabbed three interceptions in a 45-34 come-from-behind win at Kansas. All three interceptions led directly to touchdowns. Going into the game, Kansas QB Jordan Webb had not thrown an interception.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Boise State's run defense. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by anything we see from Boise State's outstanding defensive line, but the Broncos did a great job of making amends for their lone defeat of the 2010 season. Boise State surrendered 269 rushing yards in last season's 34-31 overtime loss to Nevada. The Broncos yielded just 59 yards on 35 carries Saturday to win the rematch 30-10. Nevada had entered the game ranked seventh nationally in rushing at 285.3 yards per game.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Washington State. The Cougars not only posted their third win -- more than they've managed in each of the past three seasons -- they did it with a remarkable comeback against Colorado. They trailed by 10 points with just more than five minutes remaining. But the defense got a key stop and QB Marshall Lobbestael threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:35. The second one was a 63-yarder to Marquess Wilson with 1:10 left to give the Cougars the 31-27 win.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: Auburn's defense. A group that seemingly could stop anybody suddenly rose up and throttled a South Carolina offense that has one of the nation's best tailbacks and one of the nation's best wide receivers. (The Gamecocks also have issues at quarterback, and Auburn certainly took advantage.) Auburn held TB Marcus Lattimore to a season-low 66 rushing yards and also kept the Gamecocks' passing offense in check except for one 50-yard TD by Alshon Jeffery. The result was a 16-13 road win for a team that many had buried.
BIGGEST SURPRISE, TEAM: San Jose State. Give it up for the Spartans. They had lost 16 in a row on the road and hadn't won back-to-back games since 2008. But they rose up and upset host Colorado State 38-31. They moved out to a 24-7 second-quarter lead and held on. SJSU has won twice this season, one more win than it managed last season and the same number it won in 2009.