|Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville has a history of pulling off big upsets. (AP)|
I'm happy to report that on Oct. 22, some eight Saturdays after toe first met leather, the 2011 college football season finally began. Here is what we learned, what we know, and what we think we know as October draws to a close:
1. An Alabama-LSU rematch is a helluva lot more possible now than it was two days ago: I still don't think it will happen because I think we will have more than two undefeated teams when the dust finally settles on the night of Dec. 3. But now that Oklahoma and Wisconsin have bowed out of the discussion, things are a lot more interesting on that front. But let's get real here: If Oklahoma State, Clemson or Stanford runs the table to finish 13-0, they would go ahead of an 11-1 Alabama or LSU. I don't care how compelling the Nov. 5 "Game of the Century" turns out to be. The voters in the two human polls are not going to pull that trigger.
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Thanks to a pair of big upsets, the BCS door has been kicked wide open. Read >>
But consider this:
Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma on Dec. 3.
Clemson loses a rematch with Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game on Dec. 3.
Now the voters have to choose between a 12-0 Boise State and an 11-1 Alabama or LSU for the No. 2 spot. Boise will have posted its third undefeated regular season in four years and a lot of people, especially the BCS opponents, will say it's finally time that David got a shot at Goliath. The SEC fans will argue that their conference has a track record with five straight national championships. Now that will be a great argument.
2. You shouldn't be surprised that Tommy Tuberville won a big game on the road as a huge underdog. He's done it before: When he was the head coach at Auburn (1998-2008), Tommy Tuberville had a knack for winning big games on the road when he was a decided underdog. In 2007 Auburn was 2-2 and went to Gainesville to play undefeated and fourth-ranked Florida. Tuberville knew he didn't have as much talent as Florida, which had Tim Tebow and was coming off a national championship. He told his defensive coaches to do whatever they had to do to prevent big plays from Tebow and the Florida offense. Then he told his offensive coaches to run the ball and not take many chances, shorten the game, and they would find a way to steal it at the end. Auburn used Florida mistakes to take a 17-3 lead but the Gators tied the game with about seven minutes left. But Auburn got the last possession with 3:38 remaining, drove 35 yards, and freshman Wes Byrum kicked a 43-yard field goal on the last play of the game. Tuberville remains one of the best big-game managers in the sport.
3. David Wilson could be the best Virginia Tech running back -- ever: In the spring of 2010 I was having a conversation with Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. The subject of running back came up and I mentioned that he had two really good ones -- Darren Evans and Ryan Williams -- coming back for that fall. In 2009 Williams rushed for 1,655 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, tying the NCAA record for a freshman. He was the first freshman to ever lead the ACC in rushing and scoring. In 2008 Evans was the ACC rookie of the year with 1,265 yards and had to sit out 2009 because of an injury. It was going to be quite a 1-2 punch. That's when Beamer just casually said: "Those guys are really special but I might have one who is better." That was David Wilson. Wilson enters Saturday's game at Duke with 1,037 yards and is averaging a gaudy 6.32 yards per carry. This guy's yardage after contact is off the charts. He has broken 89 tackles, or an average of 11.1 per game. The Virginia Tech's school record for rushing in a season was set by Williams in 2009. The ACC record for a season is 1,798 yards set by Virginia's Thomas Jones in 1999.
4. Utah and Colorado didn't know it was going to be this hard: The new kids on the block in the Pac-12 didn't expect the transition to be easy. But they enter the last Saturday of October a combined 0-9 in their new conference. Each week has gotten tougher for Utah as it lost to USC by nine, Washington by 17, Arizona State by 21, and California by 24. Utah has been without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn since Oct. 1 because of a should injury. The school announced on Oct. 11 Wynn was done for the season and would have surgery.
"There are a heck of a lot better athletes and level of play. No doubt about that," coach Kyle Wittingham said. "That's what we expected. We're not sitting here surprised."
Colorado showed it might have a little spark, losing tough games to California (36-33) and Washington State (31-27). Since then the Buffs have lost to Stanford, Washington, and Oregon by a combined 112 points.
5. The officials at Michigan State-Wisconsin made the right call. But I'm still surprised they made it. When I saw the first replay of Michigan State's Keith Nichol catching the tipped ball and lunging for the end zone I thought he scored. But given the fact that the call on the field was that Nichol had not scored, I didn't believe the booth would overturn the call without overwhelming evidence. But they did. The easy call would have been: "Inconclusive. Let's go to overtime." Upon further review, given the excitement and intensity of the crowd at Spartan Stadium, maybe the easier -- and safest -- call was to declare the home team the winner and get the heck out of there.
Watch The Tony Barnhart Show Wednesday at 8 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.