Texas A&M went up early against Alabama on the road and held on for the 29-24 upset. The Aggies belong in the SEC. Right now, they may be playing the best football in the SEC. This result will resonate within and outside the conference, with ramifications both tangible and psychological.
Lane Kiffin, You Are The SEC’s Only Hope. Unless two of Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame lose, the SEC’s champion will be shut out of the BCS title game. The USC Trojans, in the midst of a disappointing season, will play Notre Dame in the season’s final game and could earn a rematch with Oregon in the Pac 12 title game. Barring a Trojan resurgence, the six-year title streak ends. The fact will be devastating, but so will the manner of it.
This is “the SEC,” the baddest damn conference in the land. Texas A&M just joined with a mediocre track record. The Aggies just knocked off the conference’s best team on the road and did it by raising the tempo and running the freaking Air Raid (paging Sonny Dykes). This discredits the entire Gospel According to Nick. SEC coaches, fans and pundits will whine about how this is cheap, gimmicky, unfair and not “football.” They will sound just like the Big Ten did about ten years ago.
Hello, Heisman? Johnny Manziel is a freshman. He’s a freshman who just dominated the nation’s best defense. He just became the first freshman quarterback to upset a No. 1 ranked team on the road since they became eligible again in 1970. You want numbers? He’s already over 1,000 yards rushing at 6.5 yards per carry with 15 touchdowns. He’s completing 68 percent of his passes, has an 18/6 TD to INT ratio and has thrown for 2,780 yards. You want a Heisman moment? Try this one.
Hello, Dynasty? Kevin Sumlin has done more, in his first year with Texas A&M in a new conference, than anyone thought possible. Let’s look at them moving forward. This is becoming the “it” program in the country. They will have the sport’s biggest star at quarterback. They have a charismatic coach, who happens to be African-American. They have enough talent in their backyard to compete for a BCS Title every year. Sumlin is no longer selling playing in the SEC. He’s selling trying to win it. The complexion of a college job changes depending on the occupant.
And Then There Were Three: The three remaining undefeated teams earned solid wins. Kansas State went up early and held on for a slow, dreary 23-10 triumph on the road at TCU. Collin Klein started and won, but did not put up Heisman numbers. It was humdrum. The Wildcats got out-gained. Classic Bill Snyder. They may be the white cotton underwear of college football, but they deserve a shot.
Oregon let Cal come within a touchdown in the third quarter, then dropped 35 unanswered points on them to win the game 59-17. The worrisome thing for them is the casualty list. They entered the game so depleted on the defensive line they had to burn a redshirt and play an offensive lineman there. Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner were both dinged during the game as well. Fighting through his shoulder injury, Mariota only managed to complete 80 percent of his passes for 377 yards and six touchdowns. Mr. Football is great and all, but he had he ended up at Oregon he might not be starting.
Notre Dame kept it tight and left Boston with a 21-6 rivalry (at least for now) win. Manti Te’o got an interception, so we can all ignore the fact Boston College converted more than 50 percent of their third downs. With Kansas State in the title game now a stark reality, anticipate the mother of all media groundswells in support of Notre Dame. Predicting it. Not supporting it.
Soiled Season: Great teams don’t get blown away by Syracuse. Teddy Bridgewater had a great game, completing 74 percent of his passes for 424 yards and three touchdowns. The rest of the Louisville team took a siesta. The Cardinals ran for just 48 yards. They allowed 524 total. This young team was due for a let down, but rebounding to beat UConn and Rutgers and go to the Orange Bowl 11-1 would not be so terrible.
Indiana is Indiana: Can Indiana stop the run? No. They cannot. Wisconsin beat down Indiana 62-14 in Bloomington. Happening on the road was the only thing keeping it from being a vintage Bielema joint. Badger tailbacks combined for 455 yards and six touchdowns on 49 carries. Wisconsin threw the ball seven times. SEVEN. The Hoosiers scored to close the gap to 17-7 just before halftime, then gave up a 69-yard touchdown to James White when Wisconsin was trying to run out the clock on 3rd and 16. Lofty dreams were shattered.
The Botched Touchdown Call: Fortune favors the Cornhuskers. Penn State tight end Matt Lehman scored a clear touchdown. The referees ignored it on the replay. Instead of 30-27 Penn State, it was a touch back. Matt McGloin scored a safety the next possession. A late Nebraska field goal cemented a bad beat. That win, with Nebraska having just Minnesota and Iowa remaining, should settle the Legends Division.
The Dream is over: Dooley was out, though blowing a two-touchdown halftime lead at home to Missouri and losing in overtime to fall to 0-6 in the SEC clarified this for remaining doubters. Gene Chizik needed his team to show some pulse. They got run over 38-0 by Georgia, emptying the student section and depressing the Claus family.
Halftime Adjustments: UConn took a 24-0 lead into halftime against Pitt. They almost blew it, escaping 24-17. In five games since Oct.1, the Huskies have scored three second-half points. THREE.
Coaches Know The Spread: BYU were (-40) favorites at home against Idaho. Down 52-10 with 40 seconds remaining, Idaho kicked a 35-yard field goal. Final score: 52-13.
Stephen Orr Spurrier Quote of the Week: Johnny Manziel tweeted before the Alabama game: “Give to them nothing but take from them EVERYTHING. Time to turn up and leave it all on the field”
Highlight you might have missed… Roy Roundtree made this 53-yard, one handed reception on a tipped pass in the dying seconds to set up Michigan’s game-tying field goal. He lived up to his jersey number. The Wolverines won 38-31 in overtime.