Oklahoma State should get a shot at the BCS title
Oklahoma State proved Saturday night that it, not Alabama, should be playing for the BCS national title against LSU.
The Cowboys thoroughly dominated their rival Oklahoma, which just so happened to be a top 10 team. Offense, defense, you name it, OSU dominated it. The win was the kind of performance we needed to see from a team in the one-loss pack, as someone needed to distance themselves from the others.
Well, it should be that way, anyway. I’m doubtful it will, however.
It was decided when Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State that Alabama and LSU would be playing each other again in the BCS title game, and nothing was going to change the voters minds to change that. Not even this blowout victory. It was well before the Iowa State/OSU game, however, that folks decided Alabama and LSU were the two best teams in the country, and many said it wasn’t even close.
That very well may be true. LSU’s schedule, which includes a neutral site win against Oregon and a road win against West Virginia, helps prove that it is undoubtedly the top team in the country this year. The Tigers are also the country’s only unbeaten team, which helps make things easy.
But Alabama’s best win is an overtime loss to LSU. Seriously. The Tide beat Arkansas, and did so handily, which was also a big win. Outside of that, the Tide have two wins against teams with winning records (Auburn and Penn State). Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has six wins against teams with winning records. Sure the Iowa State loss was bad, but it also came on the road and the day after Oklahoma State lost two women’s basketball coaches in a plane crash. It’s awful to use that as an excuse, but it’s certainly something to think about.
Beyond that, however, there’s also the fact that the BCS’ goal is to crown a national champion. They say the goal is to find the top two teams, but in reality, it’s to find the top one, and we already know that’s not Alabama. The Tide had their chance to knock off LSU, and had it at home, but couldn’t do it. In a college football world where big-time nonconference games are a rarity, we’ll never know who the best team is if we allow divisional rematches in the BCS title game. Especially when there are deserving teams, capable of beating other top 10 teams by more than 30, sitting out there, waiting for their opportunity.
Houston loss has big-time BCS implications
It didn’t take long today for the Bowl Championship Series to get a significant shake up. Sure, we already know who’s going to play in the national title game — because if we’ve learned nothing this year, it’s that every game matters … unless you play in the SEC — but the other games still were up for grabs today.
Houston, which had gone through the season unbeaten and found itself in the top 10, had the inside track to the Sugar Bowl as the top non-AQ school in the country with a ranking inside the top 12. I’m not sure if today’s loss to Southern Mississippi would knock the Cougars outside of the top 12 (it probably should), but it doesn’t matter, as they’re not Conference USA champions, meaning they’d have to get in as an at-large. Good luck with that.
So who gets the spot? Well, if Houston falls behind Michigan, it’s likely enough to get the Wolverines into the top 14, making them a shoe-in for an at-large spot. Then again, Michigan is likely to get there anyway, and most projections have them playing in the Sugar Bowl against Houston already. TCU would be the non-AQ school with the best chance, as it sits at No. 18 in the BCS standings right now, and only needs to get to No. 16 to earn an auto-bid. Head spinning yet? If a non-AQ school wins its conference and finishes in the top 16, it can get an automatic berth in a BCS game provided the champion from at least one AQ conference is ranked below it. Thank you, Big East.
If TCU doesn’t jump two spots (which is possible but not all that likely), then an at-large selection would fill the slot. The most likely choices are Boise State, Kansas State and, if it loses today, Oklahoma State.
As for the Big East, Cincinnati’s win against UConn leaves a three-way tie at the top of the league, so the final BCS standings will determine who gets the bid. Barring something crazy, that will be West Virginia, which is currently the only Big East team in the top 25, sitting at No. 23.
After final full week of season, Heisman race still wide open
By this time in most college football seasons, we know who is winning the Heisman Trophy. Not this year, however, as there are several contenders that are still very much in the race.
After today’s games, nobody separated themselves from the field, and nobody fell out. It’s been that kind of year.
Here’s a look at how I would vote if the Heisman Trust ever decided to give a vote to a guy who writes two posts a week on a blog:
1. Andrew Luck, Stanford: What’s that you say, this is a cop out? I say nonsense. Luck has had a great year statistically leading a Stanford team that doesn’t have a single wide receiver who will play a significant role in the NFL. He’s doing this with tight ends, people, which makes it more impressive. Yes, the offensive line is great, and yes, he had a bad day against Oregon. Although I’d argue his bad day against Oregon had a lot more to do with not having receivers. And it wasn’t really all that bad. He had a big-time performance against Notre Dame today, but it wasn’t enough to really distance himself.
2. Trent Richardson, Alabama: He’s the best player in college football, but his performance against LSU might hurt him. Nobody does anything against LSU, but for a lot of voters and viewers, that was one of their few times seeing him play. He went off in the Iron Bowl today, but that’s a bad Auburn defense, and there was very little hype around that game, despite the fact Gameday was there.
3. Matt Barkley, USC: I fear voters will ignore Barkley because of USC’s probation, but he’s been ridiculous this year. As I write this, Barkley is destroying UCLA. Sure, that’s not that awesome, considering it’s UCLA, but he’s done it to most defense. Barkley and the Trojans got off to a slow start, which is probably what’s hurting him more than anything, because anyone that has followed the Heisman knows it’s all about getting your name in early and maintaining.
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor: He might have lost his chance at this award tonight. Not because of the injury, because that’s well out of his hands. But his backup, Nick Florence came in and went nuts, and I have a feeling people are looking for any reason to not give this award to a player from Baylor. Don’t get me wrong, without Griffin, Baylor certainly isn’t in the Top 25, but he struggled against a suspect Oklahoma State defense, and that’s the game that will be weighed with his performance against Oklahoma. OK, who am I kidding, the Oklahoma game wins out.
5. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU: He won’t win it because of the suspension, but if Richardson is the nation’s best player, he’s the second, and it’s pretty close. Mathieu proved again Friday with a punt return touchdown against Arkansas that he impacts the game more than any defensive player in the country. Plus, he has the nation’s best nickname: Honey Badger.
Michigan gets the monkey off its back, beats Ohio State
The streak is over. It had been 2,926 days since Michigan had last beat Ohio State, but today, the Wolverines ended that, picking up a 40-34 win against the Buckeyes in a thrilling game at the Big House.
Courtney Avery picked off a Braxton Miller pass in the final minute of the game to seal the win for Michigan, which is now 10-2 with a legitimate chance to be selected to a BCS bowl. In fact, at this point, I’d be surprised if the Wolverines were passed up by the Sugar Bowl, which is very likely going to have two at-large choices thanks to the SEC likely putting two teams in the national title game.
It was an improved defense that had Michigan in that position heading into today, but it was Denard Robinson that finished the job. The junior quarterback had the best game of his career in what was really a must-win situation for the Wolverines (more on that in a second). He was 14-of-17 for 166 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 170 yards and two scores. He’s had statistically better games, but this is the one that Denard will be remembered for in Michigan.
As to the must-win declaration: With Ohio State in the state it was in this season, and with Urban Meyer coming on board, if Michigan didn’t win this year, it might have been a while before the Wolverines found a way to win against the Buckeyes. Brady Hoke has done a great job in Year 1, but he’s led a bit of a charmed existence thanks to a very weak Big Ten, an 8-game home schedule, and his chief rival — both on the field and in recruiting — being hampered by a rough season on and off the field. He’s taken advantage and deserves credit for doing so — he should make no apologies for dragging a fading program back to 10-2 — but had he lost this game, a lot of the goodwill he has built up might have been gone.
It nearly was, had it not been for the erratic arm of Braxton Miller. The Ohio State freshman looked brilliant in spots, especially running the football, but he missed a lot of open receivers and cost the Buckeyes at least two sure touchdowns with overthrows. The second came on the final drive, as DeVier Posey had double-moved J.T. Floyd into oblivion and was running free down the sidelines.
The thought of Miller with some more seasoning and in Urban Meyer’s offense should scare not only Michigan fans and the rest of the Big Ten, but the rest of the country. Those two will win a lot of games together.
But not today. No, today belonged to Michigan, which isn’t thinking about all of that other stuff while celebrating the only thing that matters in Ann Arbor, beating Ohio State.
USC shocks Oregon; is for real again
Don’t look now, but USC is 9-2, and although it can’t go to a bowl game, it just seriously impacted the BCS picture.
The Trojans went into Autzen Stadium and put on an offensive clinic against Oregon, as Matt Barkley and company carved up the Ducks in a 38-35 USC win. That makes two teams who looked to have a good shot at playing for a national title (Oklahoma State and Oregon) who are now just hoping to win their conference and play in a BCS bowl.
That’s the major story that comes out of this weekend, that the BCS was shaken to its core, and Alabama’s path to a rematch just got a lot more clear. But maybe, just maybe, we should look a little at how good USC actually is.
This is a team that took Andrew Luck and Stanford to multiple overtimes. That went into South Bend and beat up on Notre Dame. And now, despite NCAA sanctions and not having a full complement of scholarships, the Trojans are coming together and looking like a top 10 team. Yes, top 10.
Matt Barkley is the real deal, and the team that loses the Andrew Luck sweepstakes should not be disappointed in having to “settle” for Barkley. His receivers, namely Robert Woods and Marquise Lee, are spectacular, and despite very little depth on the offensive line, the Trojans have put together a solid run game.
I realize nobody wants to admit this, and believe me, I’m in that group, but Lane Kiffin is doing one heck of a job right now in Los Angeles. He’s convinced a team with literally nothing but pride to play for that these games matter.
UCLA is the only game left on USC’s schedule, and that should be a win. And, frankly, 10-2 for the Trojans is an incredible accomplishment this year. I’m not sure if this will translate to more success when the Trojans become eligible for bowl games next season, as I’m assuming Barkley is going to jump to the pros. But if he stays, I don’t see why USC can’t compete for a national title next year. Seriously.