Northwestern upsets Iowa for the second straight year

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats encourages his team as they take on the Michigan State Spartans at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The last time Iowa faced Northwestern was last year when the Hawkeyes were 9-0 and streaking towards a date with Ohio State for the chance to play in the Rose Bowl.

But the Wildcats ruined Iowa’s dreams then and then did it again this year.

For the fifth time in the last six meetings between these two teams, Northwestern was able to get the best of Iowa in a dramatic 24-17 win at Ryan Field in Evanston. The Wildcats were trailing 17-7 after Hawkeyes’ quarterback Ricky Stanzi threw two touchdown passes early in the third quarter. But Brian Peters picked off Stanzi near the goal line in the fourth quarter and the Northwestern comeback was on.

Dan Persa found Jeremy Ebert on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 6:21 remaining in the game to cut Iowa’s lead to 17-14, then Persa threw up a jump ball that Demetrius Fields snagged for another score with just 1:22 on the clock. Stanzi drove the Hawkeyes into Northwestern territory, but a 4th-and-16 Hail Mary attempt fell incomplete with six seconds left and the Wildcats hung on for the win.

Outside of Ohio State, Northwestern is the only other team that Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz has a losing record against. Without a chance to win the Big Ten, Iowa will try to ruin Ohio State’s chances next week at home at 3:30PM ET.

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Central Florida shocks No. 15 Houston

The first upset of Week 11 in college football came courtesy of Central Florida, which knocked off No. 15 Houston 37-32 at BH Networks Stadium on Saturday.

Turnovers doomed the Cougars throughout the day. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter, Houston was knocking on the door of another score after quarterback Case Keenum led his team inside the red zone. But Bryce Beall fumbled at the 1-yard line and the Golden Knights recovered to halt a potential touchdown. After its defense forced a three-and-out, Houston again fumbled in UCF territory, only this time the Knights turned the gift into points by kicking a 35-yard field goal.

Nick Cattoi gave Houston a 17-3 lead by returning the following kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but UCF answered with 21 answered points to take a 23-20 lead late in the third quarter. A Keenum interception midway through the fourth led to yet another UCF score to essentially put Houston away for good, although the Cougars did tack on two touchdowns with under four minutes remaining in a frantic comeback that fell just short.

This was a rather impressive win by the Knights, who have struggled with consistency this season. Senior quarterback Brett Hodges outplayed Keenum today, completing 21 of 25 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore running back Brynn Harvey racked up 139 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries. Granted, they got some help from Houston, which shot itself in the foot repeatedly with turnovers. But UCF capitalized on the Cougars’ mistakes and pulled off one of the better upsets of the year.

If SMU beats UTEP today, Houston will fall one game behind the Mustangs in the Conference USA West standings. The Cougars hold the potential tiebreaker between the two teams because they beat the Mustangs 38-15 earlier this season, but their fate is now in SMU’s hands.

The good news is that Houston plays two cupcakes in Memphis and Rice the next two weeks. The bad news is that SMU plays Marshall and Tulane, which aren’t exactly powerhouses.

Cougar fans better start rooting hard for UTEP.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Oklahoma State proves they’re for real, upsets Missouri

Oklahoma State-MissouriComing into Saturday’s action, people were wondering whether or not No. 17 Oklahoma State was for real or not. Sure their offense was averaging 530 yards and over 50 points a game, but their toughest opponent prior to this week was arguably an unranked Troy team.

But no longer do we have to wonder if the Cowboys are for real after they beat No. 3 Missouri 28-23 in Columbia. They picked off Heisman candidate Chase Daniel three times in the second half, including on MIZZOU’s final drive when the Tigers were in range to possibly take the lead late in the fourth quarter. The job OK State’s defense did in getting pressure on Daniel was outstanding and the trio of QB Zac Robinson (19 of 28 for 215 yards, 2 TDs), RB Kendall Hunter (154 yards rushing, 1 TD) and WR Damian Davis (3 rec., 76 yards, 2 TDs) came up with big plays all night.

Now that Missouri, LSU and Oklahoma all lost, the top 10 in college football will undergo a major shakeup. It’ll be interesting to see how everything takes shape when the new polls are released. How far will MIZZOU fall?

Oddsmakers know everything – Miss State upsets No. 13 Vanderbilt

Mississippi State-VanderbiltIt’s amazing what oddsmakers know. For example, entering Week 7, they established No. 13 Vanderbilt as a 2.5-point favorite over unranked Mississippi State.

Why on earth would the Commodores only be 2.5-point favorites? They were 5-0 for the first time since Moses parted the Red Sea, were coming off a huge win over SEC rival Auburn and they were playing a Bulldogs team that was 1-4 on the season.

Mississippi State 17, Vanderbilt 14. That’s why.

I don’t want to get into a huge gambling discussion because this isn’t the forum, but whenever a point spread looks too good to be true, it probably is. Vandy was clearly the better team coming into the game and should have been favored by at least two field goals, even with them playing on the road and against a conference foe.

It never ceases to amaze me how good these oddsmakers are at setting the lines for sporting events.

On to a more football-related topic – what a game by the Bulldog defense. They held the Commodores to only 107 yards of total offense, forced two turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over themselves. (Which is significant because Vandy led the nation in turnover margin coming into the game.)

Coupling this one with Ole’ Miss’s win over Florida two weeks ago, the state of Mississippi is the king of the upset this year.

You know your program is in trouble when…

Rich Rodriguez…you lose to an unranked MAC school as Michigan did Saturday when they were upset by Toledo, 13-10 in Ann Arbor.

I realize that this isn’t the best Michigan team in school history, but they’re still expected to beat a MAC school at home. Especially one that’s not even that good. This was the same Toledo team that got blown out by Ball State (albeit a very good Ball State team), 31-0 on their home turf. And before this loss, UM was 24-0 all-time against MAC schools.

Rich Rodriguez doesn’t have “his” players in place yet and once he does, the Wolverines are expected to rebound. But his first year in Ann Arbor has been nothing short of a disaster. They were a complete mess in a loss to Notre Dame, they were blown out at home last week by Illinois, and then today they lose to a sub-par MAC school. It’s almost incomprehensible. This is one of the most storied programs in college football and they’ve absolutely crumbled this year outside of one good half against Wisconsin.

If you listen closely, you can hear the entire state of West Virginia laughing.

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