• Wacky. That's the best word I can use to describe the No. 7 team in the country, Texas Tech, and I use that word with great admiration. With their wide-open offense, kooky head coach and underdog status in the loaded Big 12 South, the Red Raiders have swept me off my feet through sheer madness.
Texas Tech's 37-31 overtime win over Nebraska was far from convincing -- after all, the Red Raiders were a 20.5-point favorite -- but it definitely had that unbalanced feel that I have come to love. As Mike Leach said, "It was a really strange game." The best example of this came late in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied at 24-24 and under five minutes remaining, Texas Tech lined up on fourth-and-five from their own 36-yard line and QB Graham Harrell attempted to hard-count the Huskers offsides. Center Stephen Hamby falsely assumed a defender was in the neutral zone and snapped the ball. To his credit, Harrell didn't panic. Instead, he scanned the field and found his all-everything receiver, Michael Crabtree, who had gotten behind a confused Nebraska secondary. The 47-yard completion eventually led to a go-ahead score by Texas Tech.
Entertainment factor aside, one question remains with the Red Raiders: Are they for real? To be honest, nobody knows. They are 6-0, but the schedule has been extremely soft to this point. Forthcoming road games at Texas A&M and Kansas could test Tech -- the latter much moreso -- but we won't know if this team is a true contender until it hosts Texas on Nov. 1.
• Jimmy Clausen set a career-high in passing yards (383) for the third straight week, but the sophomore signal-caller had a rough second half against North Carolina's ball-hawking defense, allowing the Tar Heels to earn a come-from-behind, 29-24 win.
Clausen threw a pick-six on the first offensive play of the second half, fumbled later in the third quarter (leading to UNC's go-ahead score) and threw a bad interception on a miscommunication with WR Michael Floyd to end a promising drive late in the fourth quarter. Regardless, Clausen grows with each passing week. Notre Dame's real problem on offense is its inability to establish a steady running game. The Irish entered today averaging 103.6 rushing yards per game (105th nationally) and managed just 89 yards against UNC.
North Carolina continues to win games behind its playmaking defense. ND easily outgained the Heels in total yards (472-322), but Carolina's swarming D posted five turnovers, four sacks and the aforementioned touchdown.
• No bowl eligibility for the brainiacs. Vanderbilt and Northwestern both came into the day at 5-0, but neither one could earn that all-important sixth win.
In an upset predicted by nearly every college football pundit in America, Mississippi State handed Vanderbilt its first lost of the season. The Bulldogs completely stifled Vandy's offense -- starting QB Chris Nickson went 3-for-10 for 15 yards and no Commodore eclipsed 15 yards on the ground. All in all, Vandy gained just 107 yards of total offense.
Almost 700 miles north, Michigan State stormed Ryan Field and defeated Northwestern 37-20. Spartans workhorse Javon Ringer carried the ball 35 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the 1,000-yard barrier just seven games into the season.
• Another year, another unknown quarterback rallying Stanford to an improbable win. Granted, this wasn't Tavita Pritchard slaying No. 2 USC, but Alex Loukas' performance in Stanford's 24-23 win over Arizona was pretty special. Loukas, who only entered the game after Pritchard was injured and backup Jason Forcier proved ineffective, guided Stanford on an 11-play, 60-yard TD drive over the final six minutes of the game. On the game-winning drive, Loukas completed one pass for 21 yards and gained 32 yards on four rushes.
This is a bad loss for 'Zona and probably a bad loss for the Pac-10's reputation.
• After firing offensive coordinator Tony Franklin earlier this week, Auburn failed to exceed 200 yards of offense for the first time this year, resulting in a 25-22 loss to Arkansas. The Tigers' season began with such promise ...