Normalcy returns to major college football this week as #1 Alabama body slams #10 LSU, #6 Stanford upsets #2 Oregon, and Miami, Notre Dame and Texas Tech all get beaten by unranked teams.
After leading 17-14 at the half, and letting LSU tie the game at 17-all in the 3rd quarter, the Crimson Tide went on a smash mouth, power running game to reel off 21 unanswered points, winning 38-17. It was the unbeaten Tides (9-0) best victory since polishing off Texas A&M in its second game.
The two-time defending national champion was led by some familiar faces as AJ McCarron threw 3 touchdown passes, and T.J. Yeldon rushed for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns.
#3 Florida State (9-0) was not screwing around with unranked Wake Forest, getting 6 interceptions while winning 59-3 to gain some more style points. With Oregon’s 26-20 loss at Stanford (8-1), the Seminoles replaced Oregon (8-1) at the #2 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll.
Three weeks ago we said Alabama and Oregon could only be stopped by the military with field artillery. The Crimson Tide are still rolling on, but the Ducks met the military with field artillery, only it was the Stanford Cardinal, who used some smash mouth football of its own to upend the visiting Ducks. In this game, Stanford’s muscle and mean stopped Oregon’s green speed.
The 3 other ranked teams that got knocked on their butt had one thing in common: they are all over ranked and under performed. Unranked Virginia Tech (7-3) beat the #14 Miami Hurricanes (7-2) by 18 points, 42-24, unranked Pittsburgh (5-4) upended #24 Notre Dame (7-3) by a touchdown, 28-21, and unranked Kansas State (5-4) put a whipping on #25 Texas Tech (7-3) by 23 points, 49-26.
The truth is, neither Miami nor Notre Dame nor Texas Tech has belonged in the Top 25 this year, but dippy voters and homers keep voting for them when it is patently clear their records are better than the teams.
So where does all of this leave us in the race to the national championship game? Glad you asked. It’s real, real simple: If Alabama and Florida State continue to go unbeaten, they will play for the national title.
That would be a real big deal for Florida State. The Seminoles have not played in a BCS national championship game since losing 13-2 to Oklahoma in 2000. It would be an even bigger deal for Alabama’s Crimson Tide, who have not only played in but won national titles in 2009 (over Texas 37-21), in 2011 (over LSU 21-0) and in 2012 (over Notre Dame 42-14).
In other words, Alabama has won 3 out of the last 4 national title games and, if they play and win this year, the Crimson Tide and Coach Nick Saban would own 4 of the last 5 national titles, and 3 in-a-row. Should it happen, Nick Saban would go down as arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, coach in major college football history.
So now there are only 6 unbeaten teams left—Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State at 9-0, Baylor at 8-0, and two also rans, Northern Illinois and Fresno State at 9-0. Northern Illinois and Fresno State, though unbeaten, have not played a single team worth talking about, and are totally out of the national championship picture.
Both Baylor (at 96th) and Ohio State (at 81st) have won against really marginal competition. They choose not to play tough, non-conference opponents and are really paying the price for their lame effort.
If Alabama or Florida State lose, Alabama will still probably make it to the national title game, but Florida State may get edged out by a one-loss team like Stanford or Oregon rather than Ohio State or Baylor. Selecting Ohio State or Baylor would be like taking your sister to the senior prom.
So here is what the rest of the 11th week looks like:
Two strong victories by ranked teams over ranked opponents by at least 14 points, and six other strong victories by ranked teams over unranked opponents by at least 21 points.
+21 #1 Alabama (9-0) over #10 and overrated LSU (7-3), 38-17
+56 #3 Florida State (9-0) over unranked and out-manned Wake Forest (4-6), 59-3
+29 #5 Baylor (8-0) over #12 wannabe Oklahoma (7-2), 41-12
+32 #7 Auburn (9-1) over unranked and lame Tennessee (4-6), 55-23
+31 #9 Missouri (9-1) over unranked and terrible Kentucky (2-7), 48-17
+36 #15 Oklahoma State (8-1) over unranked and awful Kansas (2-7), 42-6
+38 #17 Fresno State (9-0) over unranked and mediocre Wyoming (4-5), 48-10
+21 #20 Louisville (8-1) over unranked, winless and worse than a smelly uniform Connecticut (0-8), 31-10
Five lame victories by ranked teams who could not beat unranked teams by at least 21 points:
+10 #11 Texas A&M (8-2) over an unranked, porous 4-5 Mississippi State team, 51-41
+5 #16 UCLA (7-2) over an unranked, not-quite-there 6-3 Arizona team, 31-26
+5 #19 Central Florida (7-1) over an unranked, decent 7-2 Houston team, 19-14
+10 #21 Wisconsin (7-2) over an unranked, game 6-3 Brigham Young team, 27-17
+1 #23 Arizona State (7-2) over an unranked, tough Utah team, 20-19
Only one other team gets high marks this week, the unranked Washington Huskies, now 6-3 after crushing Colorado (3-6) by 52 points, 59-7. The Huskies, who are trying to get past 7 wins this season, could have beaten #5 Stanford but lost by 4 points, lost to then #2 Oregon by 21, and then #21 Arizona State by 29.
Playing 3 ranked teams back-to-back-to-back early in the season caused the Huskies a crisis of confidence. They have apparently rebounded with a 24-point win over California and a 52-point romp over Colorado. The question now is: Can Washington travel to #13 UCLA and upset the Bruins?
Despite their 6-3 record, Sagarin rates the Huskies as the best 6-3 team in the country and the 10th best overall in the country—that’s because Washington has played the 28th toughest schedule nationally. We shall see if Washington can keep climbing up the ladder. Go Dawgs!