Weekend Report Card

Teams of the Week

South Carolina — The Gamecocks became the first team since November 2007 to beat Alabama in a regular-season game. And the 35–21 victory was not a fluke: South Carolina, at least for one day, was the better team. The Gamecocks were balanced on offense and did what so few teams can do against Alabama — sustain drives. South Carolina had four drives of 50 yards or more, all ending with a touchdown. That is how you defeat the No. 1 team in the land.

Michigan State — Thanks to their impressive 34–27 win in the Big House, the Spartans are now 3–0 against Michigan since Mike Hart’s “little brother” comment in 2007. The balance of power, at least in the short term, has clearly shifted to East Lansing. The Spartans are 6–0 for the first time since 1999 and have scored 30 points or more in six straight games for the first time since the final six games of the 1978 season. These are good times for Sparty.

New Mexico State — Somebody had to win. And that somebody was New Mexico State, which topped rival New Mexico 16–14 in a battle of two of the very worst teams in the nation. Heading into the game, NMSU was 0–4 and ranked 116th in the nation in total offense and 120th in total defense, while UNM was 0–5 with rankings of 118th in offense and 116th in defense. Congrats to the Aggies.

Disappointments of the Week

Miami (Fla.) — So maybe this isn’t the season that Miami returns to the nation’s elite. There was no shame in losing by 12 points at Ohio State (now the No. 1 team in the country), but if you want to be relevant on the national scene you can’t lose by 28 points at home to your rival like the Canes did Saturday night. Miami is now 3–2 overall after the 45–17 defeat to Florida State.

Northwestern — Northwestern had an opportunity to head into its bye week with a 6–0 record but lost at home, 20–17, to a Purdue team that is without its three best offensive players (all out with torn ACLs), wide receiver Keith Smith, tailback Ralph Bolden and quarterback Robert Marve. Quarterback Dan Persa continued his outstanding play, completing 30-of-41 passes for 305 yards, but the Wildcats’ inability to run the ball (84 net yards on 42 carries) finally caught up to them.  

Penn State — Losing at Iowa is one thing (not a good thing but at least understandable). Losing at home — in convincing fashion — to Illinois is an entirely different animal. The Nittany Lions were outgained 437-to-235 and dominated in every phase of the game in the 33–13 loss. Rob Bolden’s struggles as a freshman quarterback aren’t that big of a surprise, but Penn State has to get better production from its tailbacks. Evan Royster netted only 35 yards on 11 carries and has rushed for 60 yards or less in five of the Lions’ six games.  
 

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