As we enter the first Saturday in November, the SEC West race is still very much up in the air. Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all have two losses. Arkansas has dropped three conference games.
Last week, one of the most exciting games of the day was lost in the shuffle with all the thrilling nail-biters that headlined one of the greatest days in college football. The contest I'm referring to was UNLV at Ole Miss.
UNLV battled back from a two-touchdown deficit, evening the score at 37-37 with a touchdown on the final play of the game. After UNLV kicked a field goal in overtime to take a 40-37 lead, Ole Miss, keyed by the leaping exploits of Deuce McAllister, scored a touchdown to pull out a hard-fought 43-40 victory.
|Mississippi running back Deuce McAllister (22) runs past Auburn defender Alex Lincoln (43) during a Sept. 9 game won by Auburn, 35-27.|
McAllister suited up, but was only able to watch from the sidelines during regulation, still hampered by the ankle injury he sustained against Alabama on Oct. 14. He couldn't cut or move laterally, restricted only to going north-south.
But after UNLV tied the game, sending it into overtime, McAllister proved once again just how competitive and team-oriented he is. McAllister wasn't about to stand by and see the Rebels go down to defeat.
With the Rebels facing a crucial third-and-one situation, the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium crowd erupted as McAllister took the field. He proceeded to dive up and over the top for two yards. Again, on third and one, McAllister converted the first down with a two-yard leap.
Then, on second and goal from the one-yard line, McAllister was stuffed for no gain. As you may have guessed, he wasn't going to be denied. On third and goal, he scored the game-winning touchdown.
This was a perfect illustration of McAllister's supreme competitiveness and desire. The lift he provided to his team and the Rebel fans at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium was huge. Not only is McAllister a gifted multi-dimensional running back, but he's also a true warrior in every sense of the word.
In preparation for the Rebels' clash with Arkansas on the road this week, McAllister returned to the practice field on Tuesday, even though he was still hampered by the ankle injury. Expect McAllister to see a great deal of action against Arkansas, sharing duty with Joe Gunn.
In addition to McAllister, the Rebels are also banged up on the offensive and defensive lines.
Injuries aren't the only thing Ole Miss will have to overcome this week. History is also not on their side. The Rebels are 0-5 against the Razorbacks at Fayetteville. With Deuce McAllister part of the equation, though, Ole Miss is a completely different football team.
Boilermakers glad for open date
After Purdue's fourth straight come-from-behind victory Saturday against Ohio State, the open date comes at the ideal time for the emotionally spent Boilermakers.
With wins over Michigan State and Indiana to close things out, Purdue can earn a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1966.
In addition to the clutch play of senior quarterback Drew Brees, Joe Tiller can also point to how fortunate his squad has remained on the injury front as a key to their success. Dating back to the Sept. 2 season opener against Central Michigan, the Boilermakers have seen only one starter (defensive tackle Brent Botts) go down with an injury.
Middle linebacker Joe Odom, who has been such a key performer thus far, actually missed the first three games with a back injury he sustained during fall practice. So you could argue that the Boilermakers are stronger now than they were when the season began.
Sun Devils look to rebound from heartbreaker
After Arizona State's heartbreaking 56-55 overtime loss to Oregon last week, the Sun Devils will be looking to bounce back emotionally against USC at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday.
Against the Ducks, who entered the game with the 10th-best defense in the nation, ASU accounted for 667 yards of total offense. Quarterback Jeff Krohn, only a redshirt freshman, completed 21 of 34 passes for 432 yards and five touchdowns.
Tight end Todd Heap came down with six receptions, while junior tailback Tom Pace, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound former walk-on transfer from Idaho, finished with 169 yards rushing against the Ducks. Head coach Bruce Snyder awarded Pace a scholarship Tuesday.
Not to be overlooked is the solid play of the Sun Devils' offensive line. Leading the way up front have been junior center Scott Peters, senior right tackle Victor Leyva and junior left tackle Levi Jones.
After facing USC at home this week, the 5-3 Sun Devils finish the regular season with road games against Stanford and Arizona.
Bowden Bowl looms for Clemson, Florida St.
It's very possible that Tommy Bowden will be attacking on offense with backup signal-caller Willie Simmons. Early in last week's Georgia Tech game, starter Woody Dantzler reinjured his left lower leg, forcing him to miss the second half. Dantzler didn't practice on Tuesday and is considered iffy for the game against Florida State.
On the defensive line, the Tigers are also banged up. But it looks like both defensive tackle Terry Jolly (sprained knee) and defensive end Terry Bryant (sprained ankle) will be able to play.
Clemson, off a tough home loss to Georgia Tech, has to travel to Doak Campbell Stadium this week to face the Seminoles in Bowden Bowl No. 2.