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Down and Out in College Football: Oregon, FSU and Ohio State Won Big, Missouri Choked

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Measuring Contest… Florida State and Oregon, as of this week, are battling to meet Alabama for the BCS title. It’s only natural to compare them. This weekend gave a clear advantage to Oregon. Well, it should have. Both teams won by about four touchdowns at home. Oregon played the nation’s No. 12 team, UCLA, while FSU played N.C. State, winless in the ACC with multiple-score losses to Wake Forest and Syracuse. The Ducks obviously had the better win. But, even the announcer who called the Oregon game did not see it that way.

The manner of the wins distorted perception for many. FSU jumped to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter. Twitter freaked out. Then people tuned out. Few watched the Seminoles take the next three quarters off. Oregon stumbled its way through a first half (though this fake punt was sublime) that ended in a 14-14 tie. That shaped most of the consensus, before Oregon reeled off 28 unanswered in the second half as bed time approached on the East Coast.

“Florida State is more dominant” has not taken root with voters yet. But let’s see what happens after a 38-24 win over Stanford where Oregon pulls away late and the Seminoles have another Clemson game against the Miami Hurricanes, who are somehow ranked 7th. If only we had the selection committee to give us the definitive ruling this year…

USATSI_7514936_153192880_lowresLate to the Party, Bros… Ohio State just woke up one day and decided it should compete for a BCS title. The Buckeyes dismantled the Nittany Lions 63-14 on Saturday, amassing 686 total yards. The win was emphatic. It is also coming much too late. Their schedule strength is weak, and getting weaker. The other two thirds of the formula comes from the eye ball test, where Oregon and Florida State have surpassed them. Baylor has every chance to do so over the final five games as well.

The best-case scenario for Ohio State is Michigan winning out, Wisconsin winning out and beating Michigan a second time in the title game. Even that may not be enough to alter things through SOS or the popular vote. The impetus on display last weekend was swell. It would have been far sweller in September.

Law of Tessitore… The rest of the SEC had been waiting. Missouri finally dropped a game, choking in dreadful, season-rattling fashion. The Tigers gave up a 17-point fourth quarter lead, conceded the final touchdown on fourth and fifteen and missed a chip shot in overtime to gift South Carolina a 27-24 win. That type of loss is how tailspins begin.

Should the Tigers bounce back and win out, Missouri heads to Atlanta. But with Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M left that’s no guarantee. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are not out of it in the East. Even the Vols could claw back theoretically. The more exciting race, however, may be which SEC West team gets the second BCS spot. Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU and Ole Miss still have a chance.

The Robinson Difference… Texas endured a weather delay and thumped once touted TCU 30-7 in Fort Worth. Improbably, they won another game led by their Greg Robinson coordinated defense, thwarting 12/16 third down attempts and holding the Horned Frogs under four yards per play. The Longhorns are undefeated in conference play. Their next two are against Kansas and West Virginia. The Oklahoma State and Texas Tech games following that are in Austin. The Big 12 may get a de facto title game in Waco on Dec. 6. This season is playing out exactly as Art Briles would hope.

USATSI_7512771_153192880_lowresWe’ve Been Here Before… With Nebraska seasons under Bo Pelini, you just fill in the school names . Apocalyptic defensive performance in a win: Wyoming. Apocalyptic defensive performance in a loss: UCLA. Inexplicable conference defeat: Minnesota. Limp to obligatory four-loss finish. This was not a great Nebraska team. But with a senior quarterback and a third year of adjustment to a meek Big Ten, one expected a bit more. Scott Frost feeling homesick?

The Flawed Popularity Contest…UCF beat UConn 62-17. They are still languishing behind Fresno State (both polls) and Northern Illinois (coaches), ostensibly because they played South Carolina (and lost by three) while those schools did not. The Knights are still ranked behind Louisville in both polls as well, ostensibly because people thought Louisville was better in August.

Sea Change… Northwestern lost to Ohio State on National TV. This precipitated a devastating four-game losing streak, which continued with an overtime loss to Iowa. That protracted recovery period may cost the Wildcats a bowl game. They still need two wins to reach the necessary six. Three of their four remaining games are against Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State. Noteworthy: Northwestern’s four defeated opponents have a combined four FBS wins. Two of those were by one-score against UMass.

Disparity… Jeff Sagarin’s BCS ranking based on schedule strength, which he points out has less predictive value than one purely based on victory margin, has Northern Illinois ranked third. His preferred model has Northern Illinois ranked 51st.

ACC Football… Duke gained fewer than 200 total yards, did not convert a third down attempt the entire game and did not complete a pass in the second half. They still held on for a 13-10 upset win over Virginia Tech. Good job, Good effort Logan

AAC Football… USF has scored six touchdowns on offense through seven games. That’s fewer than 102 FBS players. (via Brett McMurphy)

Odds and Sods… OU Football’s twitter took a shot at Kliff Kingsbury. Alabama’s mascot dressed as a Mexican for Halloween. Brent Musburger brought up Katherine Webb. Craig Bolerjack blew a field goal call. Johnny Manziel stuck his tongue out. Houndstooth is in this season.

[Photos via USA Today Sports]

 

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