By Cabrone D. Brewer
It was a weekend of welcoming conference newbies around the college football world, but for No.8 Nebraska it was a total Big Ten debut disaster.
Facing No. 7 Wisconsin in a much-anticipated conference showdown at Camp Randall Stadium, Nebraska proved they still have a lot to learn about their new rivals by succumbing to a 48-17 thumping in Madison.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions, while Wisconsin running back Montee Ball ran for 151 yards and four touchdowns — keeping the Badgers’ outstanding scoring machine headed in the right direction as conference play begins to take center stage.
No. 18 Arkansas threw out the SEC welcome mat a year early for No. 14 Texas A&M, giving the Aggies a taste of Southeastern Conference hospitality in a wild 42-38 victory for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for a school-record 510 yards and wide receiver Jarius Wright caught 13 passes for another school-record 281 yards, as the Texas A&M defense relinquished a halftime lead of 15 points or more for the second straight weekend.
Texas A&M has one last season in the Big XII to develop a winning formula for use against their adopted conference’s schools, with the Aggies dropping seven straight games to SEC teams dating all the way back to 1995.
In a clash of SEC titans down in Gainesville, No. 12 Florida had trouble executing and defending the run against No. 3 Alabama in a 28-10 win for the Crimson Tide.
The Gators came into the game leading the SEC with 259 yards rushing per game, but the suffocating Alabama run defense held Florida in check with only 15 yards rushing on 29 attempts.
Saturday’s triumph in The Swamp was the Tide’s third straight win against Florida, ultimately denying first-year Florida head coach Will Muschamp a victory over his mentor, Alabama coach Nick Saban.
No. 13 Clemson proved they’re the real deal with a stunning 23-3 defeat of No. 11 Virginia Tech on the road in Blacksburg.
The Tigers’ defense kept the Hokies at bay all evening long, limiting Virginia Tech to 258 total yards and no touchdowns at home for the first time since 1995. The surprising victory by Clemson also ended Virginia Tech’s 12-game winning streak in league play.
No. 15 Baylor finally showed some vulnerability on Saturday, losing 36-35 to Kansas State in a tough match that went down to the final minute. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III threw his first interception of the season, but remarkably has still thrown 18 touchdown passes and only 20 incompletions.
Rounding out the top ten this week: No. 1 LSU handled Kentucky 35-7; No. 2 Oklahoma cruised past Ball State 62-6; No. 4 Boise delivered a dose of payback to Nevada, defeating the Wolf Pack 30-10; No. 6 Stanford ripped UCLA 45-19; And No. 10 South Carolina fell victim to defending national champion Auburn, losing 16-13.
Check our blog Friday for a preview of next weekend’s big games.
College Football 2011: New Friends, Old Foes
College Football 2011: Sooners Bumped from Top Spot in AP Poll Despite Win
College Football 2011: Conference Play Arrives as Schools Continue to Depart Ways