College Football Wrap-Up – Week 10
Guess what? The cat is out of the bag: All 4 unbeaten teams that are the talk to contend for the national championship game—Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame—are beatable, and proved so in major college football’s 10th week of play.
#1 Alabama (9-0) traveled to Death Valley this week, and the Crimson Tide found themselves down 17-14 to #5 LSU in the 4th quarter and not looking good. Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron had vowed to not let his team lose to LSU and ruin Alabama’s SEC and national title hopes.
McCarron came to life, leading his team down the field, reading an LSU blitz that allowed him to find T.J. Yeldon on a screen pass, and Yeldon ran 28 yards to score the winning touchdown with 51 seconds left to win, 21-17. The come-from-behind win was impressive, and what a championship should be doing when the chips are down.
That said, LSU (now 7-2) had the lead and control of the ball and was driving for another score when the ‘Bama defense held, and Drew Alleman missed a 38-yard field goal, giving the Crimson Tide back the ball and the eventual victory. Clearly, Alabama can be beaten.
#2 Oregon’s offense is like sex with steroids, the Ducks just keep scoring and scoring. This time the victim was #18 Southern Cal on its own turf. Oregon (9-0) won this scoring contest, 62-51, but giving up 51 points to a #18 USC team exposed Oregon’s terrible defense against a team that can also put points on the board. Oregon’s Kenjon Barner set a school-record 321 yards rushing (8.4 yards per carry) and scored 5 touchdowns.
Oregon’s 730 yards offense and 62 points were the most EVER allowed by the Southern Cal Trojans, who began playing football in 1888 (124 years ago). Even so, no one is talking about Oregon playing in the national championship before they are talking about Kansas State, and for good reason. The Wildcats have a better total defense and a better scoring defense than the Ducks, and it shows. Clearly, Oregon can be beaten by a better defensive team.
#3 Kansas State (9-0) beat Oklahoma State, 44-30. That’s a 14-pont spread that should be at least 21 points against an unranked team. Oklahoma State is a 5-3 team that is not that good. Worse yet, K-State Heisman candidate Collin Klein left in the 3rd quarter with an undisclosed injury.
When a team will not tell you what’s wrong with a player, it generally means that they do not want you to know the extent of the injury. Clearly, K-State can be beaten, especially if star QB and Wildcat leader Collin Klein cannot suit up and play at 100%. Wildcat fans should be in prayer and supplication that Klein will be available against TCU, Baylor and Texas. K-State’s season could get ugly in a hurry.
#4 Notre Dame (9-0) was down 20-6 to an unranked, 4-5 Pittsburgh team in the 4th quarter and came from behind (like Alabama) to pull out a 29-26 victory in the 3rd overtime in a game the Irish could have lost in a heartbeat.
First, the Panthers had a 20-6 lead in the last quarter and allowed the Irish to score twice and tie the game. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson, who is a better runner than passer, ran for a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 20-all.
Second, Irish running back Cierre Wood fumbled before reaching the end zone in the 2nd overtime and Pittsburgh safety Jarred Holley recovered the ball in the end zone.
Third, on the ensuing possession, Pittsburgh’s Kevin Harper missed a 33-yard field goal to end a scoreless 2nd overtime.
Fourth, Golson finally scored on a quarterback sneak in the 3rd overtime to give the Irish their 5th home game win by a touchdown or less.
Fifth, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly pulled Golson from the game late in the second quarter because he was missing reads and progressions. Kelly put Golson back in when his backup, Tommy Rees, threw an interception and the Irish fell behind by 2 touchdowns. Clearly, Notre Dame has a better defense than offense, and can be beaten by an equal or better defensive team.
So what about the other two unbeaten teams—Ohio State and Louisville?
Well, #5 Ohio State (10-0) put a beat down on a hapless, ineffective, disgusting 2-7 Illinois excuse for a football team, 52-22. The 30-point victory margin doesn’t mean diddly-squat since the Buckeyes could ONLY beat a 3-7 California team by 7 points, beat a 2-7 Alabama-Birmingham team by 14 points, beat a 5-5 Michigan State team by 1 point, and beat a 3-6 Purdue team by 7 points in overtime, not to mention beating a 4-5 Indiana team by 3 points while allowing Indiana to score 49 points.
Don’t even talk to me about Ohio State being a great team. Should the Buckeyes edge Wisconsin and Michigan in their final 2 games (both opponents are 6-3), they would go undefeated at 12-0 and probably face Nebraska for the Big Ten title.
And then we have #11 Louisville (9-0) which just pounded a 3-5 Temple team into the ground, 45-17.
The Cardinals have beaten Pittsburgh and Cincinnati this season, and have yet to face Syracuse, Connecticut and Rutgers. Against that competition, Louisville could go undefeated at 12-0 and, like Ohio State, be not nearly THAT good.
Louisville has actually fallen behind in the last 6 games and still managed to win them all. It’s a good thing they are not playing Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State or Notre Dame.
So it is now clear that all of the AP Top 25 teams can be beaten.
There are 8 other teams that want desperately to improve their image and standing among national sportswriters and broadcasters, to which one might say, “Good luck and God speed” because it is probably not happening this season.
These include Georgia, Florida, Clemson, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech and UCLA.
#7 Georgia (8-1), still smarting for its 35-7 loss to South Carolina, beat unranked Mississippi, 37-10. Even if the Bulldogs win out (and they could), they would have to beat Alabama for the SEC title to get any stroke at all.
#8 Florida (8-1), still smarting from its 17-9 loss to Georgia, could barely beat unranked Missouri, 14-7. The Gators must still face and beat #9 Florida State, hope Georgia loses another game (it’s not likely), and then must face Alabama for the SEC title. How long can Gators hold their breath?
#10 Clemson (8-1) just put an uppity, 6-4 Duke team in its rightful place, 56-20, but the win is almost meaningless as the Tigers could win the Atlantic Coast Conference title and few would give them the attention they crave. Clemson is nothing on the national scene; it’s a good thing that there is an East Coast media to worship them, otherwise the Tigers would get no notice at all.
#14 Oklahoma (6-2) beat a 5-4 Iowa State team, 35-20. Oklahoma and Landry Jones may have finally gotten on the floor, but the dance was over for them a long time ago.
#15 Stanford (7-2) waxed a 1-8 Colorado team, 48-zip, but unfortunately for Stanford, there was an NFL draft last year, and the Cardinal lost too many good players to be really good this year.
#16 Texas A&M (7-2) did a yeoman’s job of handling #17 Mississippi State (now 7-2), 38-13, but when you are in the same SEC West Division as Alabama, that doesn’t count for much.
#22 Louisiana Tech (8-1) did not hurt its standing by tackling Texas-San Antonio (5-4) straight up, 51-27, but Texas-San Antonio is also a first-year NCAA Division 1-A team, so let’s not get too excited. Louisiana Tech must still face the San Jose State Spartans, who are not exactly shaking in their cleats.
#25 UCLA (7-2) and its first-year coach Jim Mora can’t seem to get any respect in the same Pac 12 Conference as media hogs Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, Southern Cal, Arizona State and Arizona, so the Bruins just polished off visiting Arizona with a 66-10 slam dunk. The Arizona Wildcats also have a new first-year coach, Rich Rodriguez. UCLA was a 3-point favorite. Rich Rod was not happy.
And then there were 5 catfish who were bottom feeders this week, trying to get caught being successful and sometimes not succeeding. They included West Virginia, Boise State, Texas Tech, Oregon State and Nebraska.
#23 West Virginia (now 5-3) was upset at home by unranked TCU, 39-38, after 2 overtime periods. The Mountaineers led 21-14 at the half but were outscored 17-10 in the 2nd half to tie the game at 31-all. TCU’s Corey Fuller caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in the 2nd overtime, and Trevone Boykin threw to Josh Boyer for a 2-point conversion to pull off the come-from-behind win. TCU is now 6-3 and bowl eligible. All of the hoopla over West Virginia QB Geno Smith at the start of the season is officially now over.
#19 Boise State (now 7-2) was upset for the 2nd time this season, this time by unranked San Diego State (now 7-3), 21-19. Boise State used to be THE mid-level conference darling. That was then, this is now.
#20 Texas Tech (now 6-3) was upset by Texas (now 7-2 and still thinking they are going somewhere), 31-22. Bad news for Texas, the Longhorns are not catching Kansas State in the Big 12 Conference.
#13 Oregon State (7-1) at home managed to get by a 5-4 Arizona State team, 36-26, but did not gain a lot of traction by doing it. The Beavers troubles may just be starting since they still must face Stanford and Oregon, neither of which gives a crap what their record is.
For the record, #8 Florida State (8-1), #12 South Carolina (7-2) and #24 Rutgers (7-1) were all idle this week.
In other games of note among unranked teams:
In Dallas fans still remember the expression, “How ’bout those Cowboys?”. In Washington, it could be “How ’bout those Huskies?”. Washington, which lost its last 6 road games, traveled to the Cal Bears and won, 21-13, bringing their record to 5-4.
Now 5-4 does not sound like a decent record until you know that through the 10th week of the season, Washington still had the No. 1 strength of schedule of any major college team. The Huskies have now played 5 Top 25 teams–#2 Oregon, #3 LSU, #7 Oregon State, #8 Stanford and #11 Southern California. Who else has played 5 Top 25 teams this season?
Washington lost 3 of them (to LSU, Oregon and Southern Cal), but they UPSET then #8 Stanford 17-13, and then UPSET #7 Oregon State 20-17. Think about that a minute: the Huskies held a #8 team to 13 points and a #7 team to 17 points.
Now the Huskies have an opportunity to win their last 3 games against Utah, Colorado and in-state rival Washington State. Should they do so, their record could be 8-4. They could become a team no one wants to face, especially at home in Seattle.
Also, it seems like there are a lot of really, really bad teams this year. To wit: Akron (1-9), Colorado (1-8), Eastern Michigan (1-8), Hawaii (1-7), Idaho (1-8), Kansas (1-8), Kentucky (1-9), Memphis (1-8), New Mexico State (1-8), Southern Mississippi (0-9) and Massachusetts (0-9) to name a few.