College Football Wrap-Up – Week 14
Southeastern Conference Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide
When it counted for all the marbles, Alabama was 5 yards better than Georgia. In what proved to be a semi-final game for the national championship against Notre Dame, the Crimson Tide of Alabama escaped a last gasp effort, winning 32-28 to knock Georgia out of a BCS bowl bid and sending the Bulldogs to the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska.
The SEC Conference championship started out as a defensive battle as expected in the 1st half (Alabama led 10-7), and ended as a sprint to the finish in the 2nd half as the Crimson Tide prevailed, 22-21, with the result happening on the last play of the game.
Alabama’s AJ McCarron threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 left to set the table. After an apparent game-clinching interception by the Crimson Tide was overturned on a video review, Georgia’s Aaron Murray connected with a 15-yard pass to Arthur Lynch, a 23-yard pass to Tavarres King and a 26-yarder to Lynch again, who was stopped at Alabama’s 8-yard line as the clock continued to run with 9 seconds left.
Georgia had no timeouts left to stop the clock. Instead of spiking the ball, Bulldog QB Aaron Murray went brain dead, launching a play with an attempted pass that was deflected into the arms of Chris Conley, an unintended receiver, who, surprised as hell, slipped down at Alabama 5-yard line. Game over. Georgia could not get off another play, and Alabama Coach Nick Saban said later, “I’m ready to have heart attack here.”
Saban, of course, did have a terrible moment of “rush” but no reported heart attack. And his #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (now 12-1), winners in 2 of the 3 last national championship games, are headed back to their 3rd national title game in 4 years against the unbeaten #1 Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (12-0).
Alabama beat Texas 37-21 for the 2009 national title, and beat LSU 21-0 for the 2011 national title. Now the door opens for the Crimson Tide to win its 3rd national title in 4 years—only Notre Dame stands in their way when the BCS crown is decided on Monday, January 7 in Miami (FL).
So what exactly makes Alabama so special? Simple, the nation’s #1 total defense, #2 scoring defense, #1 rushing defense, and also Alabama is #1 in passing efficiency. Plus a punishing ground game.
Against Georgia, Alabama rushed for 350 yards, an SEC championship game record. Eddie Lacy rambled for 181 yards on 20 carries (9+ yards per carry) and scored 2 touchdowns. Freshman T. J. Yeldon picked up another 153 yards on 25 carries (6+ ypc) and scored a touchdown.
Pacific 12 Conference Champion: The Stanford Cardinal
A redshirt freshman starting his 4th straight game for Stanford has done what Andrew Luck, Stanford’s all-world quarterback and #1 pick in last year’s NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts, could not do—get Stanford into the Rose Bowl for the first time in more than a decade, and give the Cardinal their first conference title since 1999, 13 years ago.
Kevin Hogan threw for 155 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another 47 yards and a score as #8 Stanford beat #17 UCLA, 27-24, for the Pac-12 title. Hogan’s contribution was a big deal because he went 16-for-22 (72% completion rate) while beating 4 ranked teams in his first 4 starts since unseating Josh Nunes at quarterback. Hogan was named MVP of the championship game.
Stanford smashed UCLA in the mouth last week at UCLA, 35-17, to end its regular season play, and will now face Wisconsin in the BCS Rose Bowl. Stanford has an 11-2 mark while UCLA is now 9-4 and will face Baylor in the Holiday Bowl.
Big Ten Conference Champion: Wisconsin Badgers
Unranked Wisconsin made history by running away from Nebraska’s so-called defense to log an improbable title in the Big Ten Conference championship, giving the Cornhuskers a beat down they so richly deserved, 70-31. You read it right, 70 points on the Huskers as Coach Bo Pelini was spewing on the sideline.
By winning, Wisconsin becomes the first ever 5-loss team to play in the Rose Bowl against Stanford, and is the first school to represent the league in 3 consecutive Rose Bowl appearances since Michigan in the late 1970s.
The Badgers were led by Montee Ball, who ran for 202 yards (9+ ypc) and scored 3 touchdowns, one on a 57-yard scamper. Ball broke the NCAA Division 1-A (FBS) record for rushing touchdowns (73) with 76 TDs on the ground. He also matched the record for the most career games with multiple TDs (25), topped the 5,000+ yard mark for rushing yards, and was named the game’s MVP.
Ball’s teammate Melvin Gordon rushed for 216 yards in 9 carries (24+ ypc) and scored on a 56-yard sprint, giving Wisconsin two 200-yard rushers in a game for the first time in school history. Not to be outdone, Wisconsin’s James White added another 109 yards on 15 carries (7+ ypc) and scored 4 touchdowns, including a 68-yard dash.
Wisconsin piled up 539 rushing yards on Nebraska, making the Cornhusker defense look worse than monkey crap in the zoo. The Badgers blew a 17-point lead against the Cornhuskers in a 30-27 September loss, and so Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema piled it on, and on, and on, and on, rubbing the Cornhuskers face in it.
Wisconsin is now 8-5 and Nebraska 10-3.
If you think Nebraska is something really special, just remember than the Cornhuskers were beaten 63-38 by Ohio State. Ohio State, the only other unbeaten team besides Notre Dame, won 6 of its 12 games by 7 points or less and 2 of them in overtime. The Buckeyes beat a 3-9 California team by 7 points, a 6-6 Michigan State team by a single point, a 4-8 Indiana team by 3 points (52-49), a 6-6 Purdue team by 7 points in overtime, a Wisconsin team by 7 points in overtime, and a Michigan team by 5 points.
Mid-American Conference Champion: Northern Illinois Huskies
Kent State brought some genuine game to the Mid-American Conference championship tilt against Northern Illinois and gave the Huskies all they could handle before Northern Illinois pulled it out 44-37 in the 2nd overtime.
The Golden Flashes trailed the Huskies 27-13 in the last quarter before scoring twice in a 15-second span to tie the game at 34-all in the final minute of play. After trading field goals in the 1st overtime, Northern Illinois needed only 2 plays to reach the end zone. A 23-yard run by Akeem Daniels set up a 2-yard score by QB Jordan Lynch.
Kent State reached the 8-yard line on its possession, but on 4th down, Spencer Keith had to scramble to his right and threw a desperation pass that was picked off by Demetrius Stone in the end zone.
Jordan Lynch threw for 212 yards and ran for another 160, and it was just enough to get the job done for Northern Illinois, which won its 2nd straight MAC title, the first team to do that since Central Michigan in 2006 and 2007. The Huskies are now 12-1 on the year and Kent State is a very respectable 11-2.
Even more important than the MAC championship title, Coach Dave Doeren and his Huskies will be playing in a BCS game as a mid-major team. They will face Florida State in the Orange Bowl, a bid they so richly deserve over a bunch of punk major-level teams that think they are a lot better than they are, including LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Clemson and Oregon State to name a few—all are good teams and all are overrated teams.
Northern Illinois lost its opener 18-17 to Iowa from the Big Ten at Solider Field in Chicago, and then won 12 straight games. Not too shabby at a major or mid-major level. Why not let Northern Illinois play in the Orange Bowl?
Atlantic Coast Conference Champion: Florida State Seminoles
Florida State used its defense to beat an unranked, 6-6 Georgia Tech team 21-15 for the Atlantic Coast Conference title, and the Seminoles were acting like they just won the BCS national championship. Jeez, Louise. Now the #13-ranked Seminoles get to play mid-major Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. They need to put a whipping on Northern Illinois to play up to their ego.
The ACC title was the first for former powerhouse Florida State since 2005. Florida State was a 14-point favorite that won by 6. The Seminoles lost 37-26 to rival #4 Florida last week, and now sit at 11-2 while Georgia Tech is 6-7. Florida State got into the ACC title game because Miami-FL placed sanctions on itself and elected not to participate in the game.
Let’s see if the Florida State Seminoles can put a good, old-fashioned whipping on the Northern Illinois Huskies.
Conference USA Champion: Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa’s Alex Singleton ran for 100 yards and plunged over the top for a 1-yard score in overtime to lift the Golden Hurricane to a 33-27 victory over the Central Florida (UCF) Knights for Tulsa’s first Conference USA title, and a Liberty Bowl berth against Iowa State.
After Cory Dorris blocked Shawn Moffitt’s 38-yard field goal attempt on Central Florida’s possession to start overtime, Tulsa ran 5 straight running plays to put the game away. Tulsa’s Trey Watts was the game MVP after running back a punt return 54 yards to score with 5:06 left, tying the game at 27-all and forcing overtime.
Tulsa is now 10-3 and Central Florida 9-4. The Knights will face Ball State in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.