Blemished… Baylor played its first tough road game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys delivered a 49-17 execution, cold and precise. OSU shut Baylor down on the ground, holding the Bears to 94 yards on 36 carries and forcing four fumbles. Quarterback Clint Chelf had a monster day, completing 19/25 for 370 yards and three touchdowns on the other side of the ball. Baylor is still alive. But the Cowboys are a bedlam win away from the Big 12 Title.
Was this a choke job? Not really. This was an “establish yourself” game against an experienced, Top 10 team on the road. Baylor, especially with a multitude of offensive injuries, is not quite on that level yet. The Bears won’t be getting Bama. But, as Bryce Petty noted, a loss need not define this team. They can still go 12-1, which would be the program’s best ever record. It’s worth reiterating Art Briles inherited a program with 12-straight losing seasons and one double-digit win season in more than 100 years of football.
No Roses… The Ducks weren’t enthused about another Rose Bowl trip. They played like it. Arizona blew out Oregon 42-16, knocking them out of the Pac 12 title game. The Holiday Bowl should provide the Ducks with some much desired novelty.
Oregon’s offense was inefficient and turned the ball over. Their defense got absolutely torched by Rich Rodriguez. Ka’Deem Carey ran for 200-plus and four touchdowns. B.J. Denker completed 19/22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, adding another 100 on the ground. Opponents have converted 43 of 73 third downs against the Ducks their past four games.
What happened? Marcus Mariota being limited by injuries exposed some underlying flaws. Oregon did not have an elite defense. Losing a coach of Chip Kelly’s caliber is seldom, if ever seamless. It’s hard for any coach to keep players accustomed to success motivated to the level required to maintain it. The Ducks have finished in the Top 6 in SRS every season since 2009. The only other school to do that is Alabama. This could mark the beginning of the unraveling for Helfrich. It could also just be a first-year brain fart, similar to Chip Kelly’s Boise State loss.
Heisman Reset… It was a clash of Johnnys. For a second-straight year, it was Chavis that triumphed in a 34-10 LSU win. The Tigers stifled Johnny Manziel, limiting him to 16/41 for 224 yards pasing with two interceptions and 54 yards rushing. Their collective effort likely cost him a shot at a second consecutive Heisman. Manziel may be college football’s greatest playmaker, but he’s not great enough to force his way to the pinnacle without some semblance of a defense. A&M conceding 6.7 yards/carry on 48 attempts to LSU tailbacks is not going to get it done.
Nearly every season-long Heisman candidate has been precluded. If Jameis Winston is charged, expect voters to pull the A.J. McCarron chute. There’s nothing wrong with the Alabama quarterback. Though, there are about 15-20 guys who have put up similar production this season.
Nuclear Meltdown… Will Muschamp is not in the Ron Zook zone. Zook never lost to Georgia Southern. The offense had its issues. Though, it was Muschamp’s defense that deserves the lion’s share of the blame, conceding 7.9 yards/carry to a team that attempted three passes. Florida was outplayed and outcoached. They appeared unmotivated. That’s becoming a pattern.
The Gators confirmed Muschamp will return for 2014. It was, perhaps, best to confirm that before they get disemboweled by Florida State this weekend. The situation at Florida was described as a “nuclear meltdown” by a former Florida staffer. If Muschamp does not right the ship, longtime AD Jeremy Foley may be cleaning out his office alongside him.
A Tragic Ending… Aaron Murray tore his left ACL against Kentucky, ending both his season and his college career. Murray had made 52 straight starts, braving both helmet to helmet shots and painful chest stubble along the way. His senior year, with much of the skill players around him shelved by injuries, was disappointing. But, one could argue his performance amidst adversity, on merit, should have warranted Heisman consideration.
Going Bowling… Mike Leach’s Washington State knocked off Utah 47-39 at home to move to 6-5. That secures the Cougars’ first bowl trip since going 10-3 under Bill Doba in 2003. It was an up and down year for Wazzu. But wins over Arizona and USC and losses to Auburn, to Arizona State, to Stanford and to Oregon are nothing to sniff at. An Apple Cup victory could leave the Cougars level with the Huskies at 7-5.
Telling Stats… Michigan has executed 107 negative plays this season, the most in FBS football. Saturday’s 24-21 loss was the 10th time Michigan has held below 300 total yards with Al Borges coordinating.
Box Score Creeping… Wyoming beat Hawaii 59-56 in overtime. Teams combined for 64 first downs and 1,417 yards on 190 plays, 997 of them through the air.
Odds and Sods… USC Fan kept out the cold with a fur pimp coat. Iowa State girls dressed as teletubbies, were a bit naughty. Derek Carr throws one hell of a deep ball. Penn State fans remain focused on the true injustice of the Sandusky scandal. Vanderbilt’s fake jump pass touchdown to beat Tennessee. The Best Damn Band in The Land goes to Michigan for technical help.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]