Great teams win games they control. National title teams, through fortune or timely execution, find a way to win the one or two games they can’t. Here is where Kansas State and Oregon faltered.
The Wildcats fell behind early to Baylor. They weren’t equipped to play from behind. Forced to throw 50 times, Collin Klein exposed his passing flaws. His 54 percent completion rate and three interceptions likely cost him the Heisman. Baylor’s defense was maligned heading into this one. While scoring on six touchdown drives of 50 yards or more, the Bears allowed just one. Bill Snyder may be a wizard, but wizardry can only do so much against well-deployed speed.
Oregon could not shake Stanford and it cost them. This game was dead even statistically, with the Cardinal doing a much better job than in previous years sealing the edge. The Ducks did not take their chances to win. They missed on two fourth-down conversions inside Stanford territory. They missed field goals in overtime and in regulation. They were on the wrong end of a close touchdown call.
That’s not to diminish Stanford’s achievement. They were the better team on the field. With two road losses by a combined four points in regulation, one has to wonder where this team would have gone with an entire season of competent quarterback play. If Stanford can win the next two weeks, they get their elusive Rose Bowl trip, without Andrew Luck.
Notre Dame is the one eligible undefeated left standing. One might argue they have conceded control too often against inferior opposition, but under duress they have found ways to win.
BCS Chaos: Notre Dame and Alabama are clear favorites to reach the BCS title game. Should fate be so natural religiously unkind to the Irish next week against USC, things could get batty. Georgia vs. Alabama should be a play-in game, presuming both win out. Who takes the other spot? Would it be the Florida vs. Florida State winner? If Florida wins, would the sentiment against another All-SEC affair push Oregon, Kansas or Notre Dame, with the loss, back in? Stay tuned…
Playoffs Would Improve Regular Season: Kansas State and Oregon being eliminated provided riveting viewing. Playoff opponents, making a last stand, will claim victory. This belief is misguided. Under a playoff, those games would have been just as vital. Under four and eight-team scenarios, there would be more of them.
Looking at a four-team… Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame would still be fighting for a place to the end. The SEC Title game would still be a play-in game. Florida vs. Florida State would become a play-in game. LSU’s narrow win against Ole Miss might have preserved them an outside shot.
Looking at an eight-team that factors in conference champions…Stanford and UCLA would face a possible home and home for a playoff berth. Oklahoma’s 50-49 win over West Virginia would have kept their playoff hopes alive. Louisville/Rutgers might be a play-in game. Utah State’s overtime win over Louisiana Tech might have cost them a shot. The morass of SEC teams in the top ten might be fighting things out with Oregon for an at large bid.
College football is great because it is college football. The playoff will only enhance the number of games that will count.
SEC-iesta: We see what you did there, SEC. Seven teams played FCS opponents this weekend. Only neophytes Missouri missed the memo, losing 31-27 to Syracuse. With a front-loaded schedule, SEC teams get their losses out of the way in September and early October. By November, those losses are out of mind and teams keep shuffling up the polls as others lose. Georgia will end the regular season having played two ranked teams, will have been assassinated by one of these teams on national television and still play for a BCS title.
Dual Quarterbacks: Michigan has a quarterback. Devin Gardner completed 18/23 for 314 yards through the air and put up six total touchdowns (on Michigan’s first six possessions). The Wolverines crushed Iowa 42-17. That score does not tell the whole story. Ferentz had his starters in driving on Michigan’s senior reserves late in the fourth quarter. Iowa is a disaster. Can Michigan beat Ohio State? They will need to get the running game going. Michigan had some success using Denard Robinson in an all-purpose role, 98 yards on 13 carries. Though having Fitz Toussaint knocked out for the season is a major blow.
Vegas Knew: The nation’s most underrated coach did it again. Gary Anderson’s Utah State beat a ranked Louisiana Tech team 48-41 in overtime in Ruston. Chuckie Keeton had 340 yards passing, 121 yards rushing and four total touchdowns. The Aggies will win the final WAC Championship. At 9-2 with road losses to Wisconsin (16-14) and BYU (6-3), the Aggies would have scared the hell out of a highly ranked team in a 16-team playoff.
Anchored Down: Vanderbilt dismantled Tennessee at home 41-18, ending Derek Dooley’s hope for bowl eligibility. This result highlights the difference between the right hire and the wrong one. James Franklin has now won more SEC games this season (five) than Derek Dooley has won in three years. He did this in year two…in the SEC…at Vanderbilt.
Not Anchored Down? Bill O’Brien has worked miracles his first year at Penn State. Penn Staters may be left wondering if it is his only year at Penn State. O’Brien refused a chance to confirm he would coach Penn State in 2013. It’s hard to see him leaving for another college job, but if an NFL team came calling?
Defense Optional: Clemson beat N.C. State 62-48. The game produced 1,351 yards of offense, 754 of it from the Tigers who ran 102 plays. Tajh Boyd threw for 426 yards, ran for 103 yards and had eight total touchdowns. N.C. State’s Tobias Palmer set an ACC record with 496 all-purpose yards.
Up in Flames: Auburn beating a football team 51-7 was so startling a mysterious fire broke out at Toomer’s Oaks. With Harvey Updike’s poison working, it may have been putting the trees out of their misery.
Running Game: Temple tailback Montel Harris set Big East records, running for 351 yards and seven touchdowns in the Owls’ 63-32 win over Army. The two teams combined for 943 rushing yards and 11 pass attempts.
The Woodshed: Michigan State went 2-5 at Spartan Stadium this season and 0-4 in Big Ten play. Their five Big Ten losses have come by a combined 10 points in regulation. Their two Big Ten wins have come by a combined four points.
Game plan: Wofford nearly shocked South Carolina. The Terriers ran for 259 yards, held South Carolina to 293 total yards and were tied 7-7 in the fourth quarter before the Gamecocks pulled away. They threw just three times.
Highlight you might have missed… Kent State’s Dri Archer Maradona’d his way through Bowling Green’s defense for a 74-yard-touchdown.
Stephen Orr Spurrier Quote of the Week: This entire moment of madness from Les Miles.
[Photo via Presswire]