Our gift in major college football’s 12th week was two major upsets, and the stunning realization that Alabama is beatable.
Southern California drop-kicked whiny Coach Lane Kiffin out the door after 5 games this year following upset losses to Washington State (10-7) and Arizona State (62-41). It was the old Russian proverb—one door closes and another opens. Enter interim Coach Ed Orgeron. The result, 5 wins in USC’s last 6 games, including Saturday’s 20-17 upset against #5 Stanford.
Orgeron was Southern Cal’s Defensive Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator before taking over for Lane Kiffin, who proved to be a butt end at both Tennessee and USC before getting the ax. Kiffin held a press conference to discuss his shortcomings, like no one else would have noticed.
Message to Kiffin: Don’t get all mad at me, you went 4 and 7 in your last 11 games. When you coach a major college football powerhouse and you lose 7 of your last 11 games, you need to be able to man-up and take the criticism. So your wife and family are upset by your firing. Big deal. Every college football coach that has ever been fired has been though the same ordeal, and they normally don’t call press conferences to engender sympathy.
Southern Cal’s upset victory was made possible by Andre Heidari’s 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to play. The Cardinal players won the game, not Ed Orgeron or Lane Kiffin. To be fair, with Orgeron, they finally found themselves with a coach they could play for.
We said last week that the Miami Hurricanes did not belong in the AP Top 25 after getting crushed by unranked Virginia Tech, 42-24, and Miami reinforced that negative comment by getting a whipping this week by unranked Duke, 48-30.
Duke, a premier basketball school with a mediocre football team since anyone could remember, has now gotten serious about its football fortunes. Brandon Connette rushed for a career-high 4 touchdowns and threw for a 5th to lead the upset of #25 Miami. Would the Hurricane fans kindly shut up and go home.
Lord help us if the boisterous, loyal-crazy Duke basketball fans take a liking to football. We could all be in deep doo-doo. It appears that Duke’s rise to football prominence is no fluke.
The Blue Devils, sans basketball shoes and replete with cleats, is a showy 8-2, and leading the ACC’s Coastal Division, ahead of Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and any other team you thought was better. Go Duke! Imagine beating Thug U and living to talk about it.
The upset wins by Southern Cal and Duke propelled them into the AP Top 25 Poll. Southern California is now ranked #23 and Duke #25.
The 3rd big story this week is the untouchable sign has been ripped off of #1 Alabama by no less than a weak, 4-6 Mississippi State team, which the Crimson Tide could only beat by 13 points. It was a lame victory (see details below).
So here is what the rest of the 12th week looks like:
One strong victory by a ranked team over another ranked opponent by at least 14 points, and eight other strong victories by ranked teams over unranked opponents by at least 21 points.
+56 #2 Florida State (10-0) over unranked Syracuse (5-5), 59-3
#25 #3 Ohio State (10-0) over unranked Illinois (3-7), 60-35
+29 #4 Baylor (9-0) over unranked Texas Tech (7-4), 63-34
+23 #6 Oregon (9-1) over unranked Utah (4-6), 44-21
+24 #8 Clemson (9-1) over unranked Georgia Tech (6-4), 55-31
+25 #12 Oklahoma State (9-1) over #23 Texas (7-3), 38-13
+48 #17 Wisconsin (8-2) over unranked Indiana (4-6), 51-3
+21 #20 Northern Illinois (10-0) over unranked Ball State (9-2), 48-27
+38 #22 Oklahoma (8-2) over unranked Iowa State (1-9), 48-10
Eight lame victories by ranked teams who could not beat unranked teams by at least 21 points, or ranked opponents by at least 14 points:
+13 #1 Alabama (10-0) over an unranked, spirited, 4-6 Mississippi State team, 20-7 – Now we know that there are no steamrollers left, first it was Oregon to fall, and now Alabama can be beaten as well. Alabama may have as much talent on its bench as Mississippi State has on its team, but the Crimson Tide did not show up for this one. No wonder Coach Nick Saban doesn’t sleep all that well at night, and orders supplements by the dozen.
+5 #7 Auburn (10-1) over a not-so-good, 6-4, #25 Georgia Tech team, 43-38 – How good is Auburn, really? Really, you figure it out. The Tigers won as Ricardo Louis caught a deflected pass and ran 73 yards to score in the final minute of the game, not to mention the fact that Georgia Tech scored 38 bloody points, 21 in the last quarter. If the deflected pass falls to the ground, Auburn gets upset.
+5 #11 South Carolina (8-2) over an unranked, very-not-there, 4-6 Florida team, 19-14 – If the Gamecocks were not in the SEC, they would not be ranked as the 11th best team in the country, and they keep proving it every week with lame victories. Gamecocks are not turkey birds, are they?
+10 #13 UCLA (8-2) over an unranked, penalty-driven (11 times for 113 yards), 6-4 Washington team, 41-31 – Washington actually won the last 3 quarters, 24-21, however, turnovers on the Huskies first two possessions led to two quick UCLA scores, giving the Bruins a 20-7 first quarter lead they never relinquished. For the record, the impartial Sagarin Ratings have the Washington Huskies rated as the 12th best team nationally, in part because they have played the 13th toughest schedule in the nation.
+13 #14 Michigan State (9-1) over an unranked, porous, 7-3 Nebraska team, 41-28 – The Spartans, my alma mater for my bachelor’s degree, drive me to drink Irish whiskey early and often. I have not forgotten Michigan State’s only loss this season, 17-13 at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are currently 7-3, as if that is some excuse. There are no excuses for the Spartans, they are just absent when it actually matters.
+3 #15 Central Florida (8-1) over an unranked, talent-deficient, 1-9 Temple team, 39-36 – Think about this for a moment. Central Florida gives up 36 points to a 9-loss team, and still can only win by a field goal. Central Florida fans should have been in prayer and supplication all day Sunday for the Knights, who looked terrible and are most certainly not the 15th best team in the country. To believe that, you would have to be smoking pot for days.
+7 #19 Louisville (9-1) over an unranked but decent 7-3 Houston team, 20-13 – It wasn’t exactly a statement game for Louisville, and there are some serious questions about the Cardinals ranking.
+13 #21 Arizona State (8-2) over an unranked, wannabe bad, 6-4 Oregon State team, 30-17 – Makes me wonder what the line would be if a couple of 8-2 teams clashed, like Arizona State hosting South Carolina. My guess is that South Carolina would come out the game 8-3, losing by at least two touchdowns.
Quck quiz: What do Connecticut, Georgia State, Hawaii, Southern Mississippi and Miami of Ohio all have in common?
Answer: They all have yet to win a game, and are a combined 0-49.
There are still 6 unbeaten teams, at least for the moment. They include 10-0 Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Northern Illinois, and 9-0 Baylor and Fresno State.
Northern Illinois and Fresno State, though unbeaten, have played incredibly easy, cupcake schedules. Ohio State has played no one worth talking about, and Baylor has played an even easier schedule than the Buckeyes.
Should Alabama and Florida State win out, they will play for the national championship, even if Ohio State and Baylor win out. It is simply no contest because the competition of the other 4 unbeaten teams is THAT crummy. Ohio State fans will be crying tears bigger than buckeyes at Ohio, but it won’t matter.
Now that the door is open, let’s see if someone can upset Alabama or Florida State.