I was starting to get worried about too many undefeated teams finishing perfect. Thanks to Stanford we had Oregon drop from the list of unbeaten. We still have Ohio State and Northern Illinois unbeaten thanks to their bye week coming at a convenient time . . . but do those teams really matter right now? Alabama keeps doing what they do best . . . win, despite Nick Saban checking if the grass is greener in Austin, Texas. Great week of college football as our national title picture has become just a little clearer.
Let’s get into the action and some thoughts from this past weekend:
1. Alabama 38 LSU 17 — At one point, this game was tied at 17. Then on 4th down Saban rolled the dice and ran a fake punt. It worked — Alabama scored, and never looked back. He gave Les Miles a little taste of his own medicine. If Nick Saban is running trick plays, then you know his team is in a dog fight.
Auburn cruised to another victory over Tennessee, 55-23. Gus Malzahn knows offense and it showed once again. I am curious how that offense will hold up against Alabama’s defense at the end of the season. Auburn QB Marshall rushed for more than 200 yards in the victory over Tennessee and looks to keep adding to his stats as his confidence grows running Malzahn’s system.
SEC QUICK HITS: Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham caught 4 touchdown passes in their 48-17 win over Kentucky. This win keeps Missouri on pace to win the SEC EAST. If you would have told me Vanderbilt would beat Florida and Georgia in the same season, I would have called you crazy. Well, crazy just happened when Vanderbilt beat Florida, 34-17. The win snaps Vanderbilt’s 22-game losing streak vs. Florida. Look for Florida’s Coach Muschamp to be on a seat of fire. Ole Miss became bowl eligible today with a 34-24 win over Arkansas to keep their season going on a high note. Georgia did what Michigan did not . . . beat Appalachian State today, 45-6. No upset there. Texas A&M survived a shootout, 51-41, against Mississippi State. Besides Alabama, defense has not been the SEC’s strength this year. Look for the SEC WEST to most likely be won in the IRON BOWL this year.
2. Florida State 59 Wake Forest 3 — Florida State’s defense forced 6 turnovers and just embarrassed Wake Forest today. Jameis Winston is still just making it look easy. Thanks to Oregon losing, FSU is now in the driver seat to make it to the national title game, if they win out.
Virginia Tech got things back on track with 42-24 win over Miami. They were playing in front of a half empty stadium and monsoon weather. With that win, it puts Frank Beamer’s Hokies back in the driver seat to win the division. Just when you were about to count out the Hokies, they go down to South Beach and take care of business.
Pittsburgh did what everyone loves to do . . . BEAT NOTRE DAME. They got their big win for their coach with a 28-21 defeat of the “Domers.” Now Notre Dame fans will start looking for a way for a 3-loss team to still make a BCS bowl game. I guess those ACC matchups Notre Dame wanted are not as easy as they thought they would be.
ACC QUICK HITS: North Carolina is keeping their slim bowl hopes alive with another win, this time over Virginia, 45-14. I will say it again, “Fire Mike London.” Syracuse turned in an impressive 20-3 win over Maryland. The Terps have now lost three straight. Randy Edsall is desperately seeking to turn things around since that FSU beatdown. Boston College beat New Mexico State, 48-34, and is just one win away from bowl eligibility. Duke continues to make Blue Devil fans put basketball season on hold, as they won, 38-20, over in-state rival NC State. With a little luck, Duke could play its way into the ACC title game. At this point in the season I do not think the Devils or anyone else wants to face FSU. If I were a Seminoles’ fan, I would start looking at flight prices to Pasadena, because a National Championship Game appearance is most likely happening.
3. Nebraska 17 Michigan 13 — When the Cornhuskers seemed dead in the water after the Minnesota loss, they somehow got the victory in Ann Arbor and kept their B1G title hopes alive. Nebraska Coach Pelini is still on the hot seat, but watch him somehow go out and win the B1G and make it to the Rose Bowl. Crazier things have happened!
Minnesota continues to win as their coach continues to recover from his latest health issues. The Gophers beat Penn State, 24-10. Minnesota is having a great season but will need to win out and have a little luck for them to reach the B1G title game this year.
B1G QUICK HITS: Iowa got an unimpressive 38-14 win over Purdue. That moves Iowa’s record to 6-4 on the season and Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz still is making $3.65 million a year to put together mediocre seasons such as this one. Indiana beat Illinois, 52-35, and will need to win 2 out of the next 3 to make a bowl game . . . the rest of their schedule looks like this . . . Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Purdue. So, I don’t see that happening. Wisconsin turned in a solid 27-17 win over BYU. I still wonder “what if” about Wisconsin and where they would be ranked if those great refs from the Arizona State game got things right. Ohio State had the week off but probably wishes they had a game to show off to the voters, thanks to Stanford shaking things up. Outside of Ohio State, the B1G does not have much going on.
4. Baylor 41 Oklahoma 12 — STATEMENT MADE! Baylor was looking to show the country they were for real and deserved to be in the national title talk. The Bears scored 21 points in the 2nd quarter to put the game out of reach early. Baylor will still have some opportunities to impress voters with games vs Oklahoma State and Texas remaining on the schedule. After watching that game, it seems Art Briles is happy at Baylor and might not jump ship at season’s end.
Texas has been living on the edge all season and living they did against West Virginia this week. Texas won in overtime, 47-40, and kept pace with Baylor for a chance at the BIG-12 title. Mack Brown at one point was on the hot seat and ready to be run out of town but did not let the pressure get to him and has led his team to a perfect 6-0 BIG-12 record. With all the talk of Saban coming to town, I wonder if Mack Brown will say enough is enough, even if he wins out and reaches a BCS bowl game?
BIG-12 QUICK HITS: TCU squeaked by a bad Iowa State squad, 21-17. Life is still tough for the Horned Frogs now that they are going against the big boys week in and week out. Oklahoma State beat down Kansas, 42-6, and looks to win out and secure the BIG-12 title. Oklahoma State’s next three games are Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma. Good luck coming out of that stretch undefeated. Bill Snyder led his Wildcats to a 49-26 victory over Texas Tech. Tech has now dropped three straight. Time to get that defense fixed out in Lubbock. So you’ve got Baylor ranked in the Top-5 and Texas not even ranked. That is something I would have never believed, with how things usually go in the BIG-12. It just shows that with the right coach and support, a program can be successful.
5. GAME OF THE WEEK: Stanford 26 Oregon 20 — Don’t let the final score fool you into thinking it was a close game all night. Oregon made a late rally that fell short in the final 5 minutes but could not recover another onside kick to keep the rally going. If you watched the game you saw a dominant Stanford offense just run the ball all over a pretty good Duck defense. Once again, Oregon’s national title hopes are shattered by the Cardinal. Just to give you an idea of how bad things went for Oregon, at one point Stanford was leading, 26-0. Duck fans will have to wait another year to for a chance at a national title.
PAC-12 QUICK HITS: It seems Kiffin was the problem at USC. USC is on a roll and beat down California, 62-28. It shows there is a lot of talent there, but it was just not being used productively. Arizona State kept its PAC-12 South title hopes alive with a 20-19 win over Utah. Todd Graham has things humming along for Arizona State this season. Washington got things back on track with a convincing 59-7 win over Colorado. That puts the Huskies on a 2-game win streak. Thanks to Stanford, Oregon’s title dreams are crushed again. Now the question is, will the voters move a one-loss Stanford team over an undefeated Ohio State team? I bet Stanford is just dying over that Utah loss earlier this season, after such a dominating win over Oregon that could have put them easily as the No. 2 team in the country.
BEST OF THE REST: Central Florida won a nail-bitter over Houston, 19-14. UCF needed a 4th-down stop by the goal line with 20 seconds to go in the game, to secure the win. If the Knights win out, they will garner their schools first BCS bowl in school history. Louisville beat UCONN, 31-10, Friday night, but hearing about them is not really as newsworthy after their loss to UCF earlier this season, destroying their national aspirations.
With the season coming to a close, we have only a few teams still positioning themselves for a shot at the title game, while the rest just look to secure bowl eligibility. If you told me that Duke football would be bowl eligible before Florida at the beginning of the season, I would have called you a liar. It just has been one of those seasons. The BCS is still hoping one more top team loses, to try to make it a clear No. 1 vs. No. 2 come season’s end. As of now it is Alabama vs. FSU, Ohio State, or Baylor.
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