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The Morning After: Notre Dame is Relevant, Georgia is Redeemed, Boise State is Set Up For a Back Door BCS Bowl Bid

It was Snowglobe Saturday. Ten of the top 25 lost, including four teams in the top 10. Another four staved off upset bids by a touchdown or less. We don’t know as much about football as we thought. Those of us on the East Coast will thank Sandy for holding off for a bit.

They are Notre Dame. That’s no longer an indignity. The Irish edged Oklahoma in Norman, by a flattering 30-13 margin. Notre Dame executed a masterful game plan on both sides of the ball. On defense, they stuffed the run (15 yards on 24 carries) and forced Landry Jones to throw underneath the secondary. On offense, they pounded it on the ground and picked their spots down field. The Irish kept themselves in the game. Manti Te’o made one hell of a play to seal off the win.

Now things get interesting. Notre Dame isn’t waiting to be exposed. They are exposing others. Perhaps, Dr. Lou was on point about them being a “team of destiny?” Winning the game everyone circled, this thing suddenly becomes tangible. With games against Pitt, BC and Wake Forest, the Irish are an away win in LA away from going undefeated. Even with the B1G teams disappointing they should have the strongest CV of any title game contender. It can be confirmed. Brian Kelly is a delicate genius.

Teams may still lose, though the decision not to push through a playoff immediately looks unfortunate.

Mark Richt has regained control. Georgia beat Florida 17-9. This victory was emphatic over the Dawgs’ biggest rival, likely won them the SEC East, was a top five upset and lifted a pall of failure that had enveloped the program. It also came after a number of bozos chirped how they were doomed to fail. Winning does not come any sweeter.

The game itself was intense. The players put up a good show as well. Things were mostly even, with the equilibrium punctuated by Jarvis Jones. He had three sacks and two forced fumbles, most notably this one inside the 10-yard line that thwarted a possible game-tying touchdown.

Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs, who do not have to play LSU, are now wins over Ole Miss and Auburn away from a place in the SEC Title Game. The red-faced, sputtering Spurrier meltdown two weeks from now will be epic.

Noteworthy: Will Muschamp is a combined 0-6 in the Cocktail Party game as a player and coach.

Soiled: Four ancillary undefeated teams went down yesterday. No. 7 Oregon State lost 20-17 away at Washington in the night cap. Sean Mannion returning early from his injury was the decisive factor. He completed just 53 percent of his passes and threw four picks before being replaced late by Cody Vaz. Washington has now upset two top ten teams at home and lost three games by 30 points or more.

No. 11 Mississippi State got steamrolled by Alabama 38-7, scoring a late fourth-quarter touchdown against Alabama’s reserves to get on the board. No. 15 Rutgers was beat down at home by MAC juggernaut Kent State. Gary Nova threw six interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. The Scarlet Knights’ defense kept this one closer than it should have been. No. 24 Ohio had been teetering with close wins against sub-par opponents and finally fell. The Bobcats lost 23-20 at Miami of BrOhio. No turnovers, just marginally outplayed.

B1G Title Game Set? Denard Robinson went down with a nerve injury. Michigan’s backup Russell Bellomy was not prepared. Nebraska won 23-9, in a game that may have decided the Legends race. The Wolverines would need Nebraska to blow a remaining game (plausible) and beat undefeated Ohio State in the Horseshoe (less plausible). Good job insisting on going to a bowl game last year, Buckeyes. It should be Nebraska and Wisconsin in Indianapolis, providing a suitable end to an unsatisfactory Big Ten season.

Big Weekend For Boise: When the Big Ten gets more muddled, Boise State wins. The Broncos are still in play for a backdoor BCS bowl bid, provided they finish in the Top 16 in the BCS Rankings, ahead of the lowest ranked AQ conference champion. This weekend was crucial for them as the only two Big Ten teams in the BCS Top 25, Michigan and Wisconsin, lost. If Boise State wins out, they have a great chance to end up in a BCS game. A small consolation after what happened to them the past two years, but it is what it is. Ironically, Boise State’s established reputation is the only thing keeping them ahead of Louisiana Tech.

Heartbreaking: Marcus Lattimore won’t be playing football again for a while, if at all. South Carolina’s star running back took a gruesome hit to his leg. There has been no official report on the injury, yet, though it should be season-ending, possibly even career ending. It has been said, but you hate to see that happen to a promising talent, who by most accounts is a very nice kid. Life can be capricious, especially in football.

It just keeps getting worse. With Gene Chizik’s job on the line, Auburn posted the worst defensive performance in school history. Texas A&M’s 63 was the most points the Tigers had surrendered since Georgia Tech beat them 68-7 in 1917. The 671 total yards allowed was the most in school history. The Aggies scored a touchdown on 9/11 drives. This was a team fielding scholarship football players in the SEC. Terrible.

Nearly the end. Texas escaped against Charlie Weis’ Kansas 21-17, needing two touchdowns to come from behind in the fourth quarter. The good news? The Longhorns’ pass defense was imperious, holding quarterback Michael Cummings to three completions and 39 yards. The bad news? Kansas ran them over, with James Sims rushing for 176 yards on 28 carriers. Reignite the quarterback controversy as well, since Case McCoy came in late to save the day. Fun times in Austin.

Rich Rodriguez was not cut out for the Big Ten. He can beat USC. The Wildcats forced six turnovers and went on a 26-0 run in the second half to edge the Trojans 39-36. The natives were jubilant.

Highlight you might have might have missed… North Carolina’s Giovanni Bernard returned a punt 73-yards for a touchdown with 25 seconds remaining to beat N.C. State.  Bonus: UNC muffed the extra point and stumbled into a two-point conversion to win 43-35. The spread was UNC (-7.5).

Stephen Orr Spurrier Quote of the Week: Georgia’s Jarvis Jones on Shawn Williams’ criticism: “As men, when another man challenges you, it will be personal.”

Picks: Another rough week saw us fall below .500 ATS for the first time since week one at 26-27-1. We went 2-4. We called Washington and Arizona. We missed on Iowa, Wyoming, Florida and Michigan (did not predict Denard injury).

[Photos via Presswire]

 

 

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