Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 1:17 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
On Saturday it stops.
The bylaws, the scandals, the arrests, the arguing, the issues - the scars of college football - it's all gone and it becomes just a game. When the whistle is blown there are no rankings or underdogs, just a game between the lines, two teams with 11 on either side.
Saturday seemed like a perfect reminder of that. Looking at the schedule earlier in the week, the lack of marquee match ups - just three involving two ranked teams - made it seem more like a bye week than Week 12.
As the season made - to borrow a metaphor from another sport - its final turn and moved onto the home stretch, it was looking like we were indeed destined for a week off of drama. Wisconsin beat Illinois, Michigan State rolled Indiana, Michigan put on a clinic against Nebraska, Georgia had a close but ugly win over Kentucky, Houston beat SMU handily, Arkansas steamrolled Mississippi State and shockingly N.C. State had beaten Clemson before halftime.
Then consider what happened as night fell and some of the late games got interesting, with plays happening just about every minute. A quick sampling in case you missed the drama:
- Matt Barkley hit Randall Telfer for a touchdown to put USC up 38-14 over Oregon.
- De'Anthony Thomas returned a kickoff 96 yards, and showed why he's one of the fastest players in college football.
- Eric Gordon picked off Jordan Rodgers and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to seal a 27-21 Tennessee win over Vanderbilt. Only there was mass confusion thanks to the officials.
- A Robert Griffin III pass is deflected right into the arms of a streaking Kendall Wright for a 87-yard touchdown to tie Oklahoma 24-24.
- Kenjon Barner caps a 75-yard drive to pull Oregon to within 38-27 with over 12 minutes left in the game.
- Michael Rocco caps off a 75-yard drive in less than a minute to give Virginia a 14-13 lead over Florida State.
- Zach Maynard tosses a perfectly thrown pass to Keenan Allen to take a 10-7 lead over Stanford.
- Baylor retakes the lead 31-24 after a 10 play, 85-yard drive after another RGIII touchdown pass.
- Texas' drive stalls and the Longhorns settle for a field goal to trail 17-13.
- Barkley is picked off by the Ducks defense then score a touchdown. Two-point conversion is good (barely) and they cut USC's lead to 38-35 with 7:05 left.
- A crazy play involving Florida State's Bert Reed happens. He was ruled to have caught a ball but inbounds, running out the clock. A five minute replay takes place.
- Landry Jones throws an interception, setting up a Terrence Ganaway touchdown as Baylor goes up 38-24 on Oklahoma.
- Case McCoy is sacked on 4th-and-10 at midfield, Kansas State takes over but has to punt.
- The replay overturns Reed's play, ruling it incomplete. FSU sets up for a 48-yard field goal but Virginia players bark out signals drawing a flag. Shorter kick misses anyway, giving the Cavilers their first ever victory at Doak Walker as Mike London screams at his team to get to the locker room.
- The Trojans are in the red zone when Barkley and Marc Tyler fumble an exchange, leading to Oregon getting the ball back.
- Oklahoma can't convert a 4th-and-14, Baylor gets the ball back.
- Kansas State barely holds on but beats Texas 17-13.
- Cal hits a short field goal to extend their lead to 13-7 in the Big Game against Stanford.
- The Ducks march right down the field but Chip Kelly fails to use his timeouts leaving a 42-yard field goal to tie the game with five seconds left. It's no good allowing USC to escape with a 38-35 upset to further shake up the BCS.
- The Belldozer formation (with backup quarterback Blake Bell) scores a TD to make it 38-31 Sooners with six minutes left.
- Oklahoma gets the ball back then Bell scores his 4th touchdown of the night and the Sooners look like they're going for two. They don't but tie the game up at 38 with 51 seconds on the clock.
- RGIII finds Terrence Williams in the back of the end zone for a perfect 34-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left to give Baylor their first ever win against Oklahoma 45-38.
- Andrew Luck leads two scoring drives coming out of halftime to take a 28-13 lead over Cal.
- The Bears come right back down the field and score a touchdown, connecting on a two-point conversion to pull to within 28-21 in the 4th quarter.
- Stanford takes over seven minutes off the clock with a drive that ends in a field goal and 31-21 lead.
- Cal makes things interesting with a touchdown to pull to within 31-28 with 14 seconds left.
- Onside kick recovered, Stanford beats Cal 31-28 to win the Big Game.
That. Was. Fun.
We probably should have guessed something was up this week. Northern Illinois kicked a field goal with eight seconds left to beat Ball State 41-38 on Tuesday, rolling up 710 yards of offense in a little midweek MACtion. The story was much the same the next night as Ohio made a chip shot field goal as the gun went off to beat Bowling Green 29-28. Also on Wednesday, Western Michigan held on to beat Miami (Ohio) with both starting quarterbacks topping the 400 yard passing mark. Thursday produced a huge - relatively - CUSA upset as a terrible UAB team upset #22 Southern Miss to beat a ranked team for just the second time in school history.
North Carolina, with an interim head coach and not much to play for, gave Virginia Tech a fight with two touchdowns in the 4th quarter before the Hokies decided to pay attention on defense. It was an off night for David Wilson, who never could get going, but a solid one for quarterback Logan Thomas. He tossed two touchdowns and ran for a third to provide most of the Hokies scoring to setup a showdown next week with rival Virginia for a trip to the ACC championship. The late comeback from UNC should have been a warning that no one was safe, home or road, regardless of the conditions.
Oklahoma State rolled into Ames, Iowa as 27-point favorites but holding a heavy heart just a day after a plane crash killed the women's basketball coach and three others. It was an unspeakable tragedy for a school that had already suffered a similar one a decade before. Friday was supposed to be about the second-ranked Cowboys giving their fans something - anything - to cheer about.
But it's a game between the lines and though Iowa State came into the match up 2-4 in Big 12 play and winless in 58 tries against teams ranked sixth or better, head coach Paul Rhoads knows a thing or two about upsets. He had pulled off at least one shocker each year he was in charge of the Cyclones and was defensive coordinator of a lowly 4-7 Pittsburgh team four years ago that helped cause BCS chaos with an upset of then-No. 2 West Virginia. He threw a similar wrench into the Cowboys' plans in large part by shutting down the ground game and forcing five turnovers. Brandon Weeden put some big numbers - 42-of-58, a quiet 476 yards and three touchdowns - but threw three interceptions, his last in the second overtime to lose the game.
"We got a group of young men that put their hard hats on every day and just continue to go to work," Rhoads said. "I could not be prouder of the effort they put out tonight."
The field storming after the upset was well deserved, with Rhoads even getting hit by a fan who spilled his drink on the emotional head coach at midfield. The Iowa native took over the program from Gene Chizik after serving as Auburn's defensive coordinator the season before Chizik headed to the plains. Ironically, his upset sent cheers up in Tuscaloosa because no program stood to benefit more from the loss than Alabama.
It was the first of many on a topsy-turvy week that saw the #2, #4, #5, #7, #17, #22 and #23 in the BCS suffer a loss. As you can tell from the boom-boom nature of the plays listed above, the drama and action seemed to culminate in another perfect weekend in college football. Fitting, perhaps, that on the sport's supposed week off, it gave us the most drama-filled few days of the year.
As the Big Game was wrapping up late on the West Coast, I was trying to think of another time there was so much craziness, so much excitement, packed into just a few hours. It thought about the NCAA tournament but MLB's final day this year immediately popped into my mind right after. The country was glued to the television as pitch after pitch carried more meaning than the last. Four games determined two wild cards (and the eventual World Series winner) and three of them were tied. Three blown saves and two incredible walk-off wins had produced one of baseball's finest nights.
This weekend, and late Saturday in particular, was not quite what that Wednesday in late September was. That night for baseball does contrast however, and serve as a reminder of how great a regular season can be with a playoff still to come. The BCS proponents out there had no problem coming out and saying the system enhanced the upsets because they somehow mean more. As baseball showed us, even after 162 games and plenty more to play, nothing takes away from the drama. We're still going to watch Baylor try and beat Oklahoma for the first time ever with RGIII taking snaps. People will still tune in to see USC make an emphatic statement to the country that their time out of the spotlight is over.
It does however make the losses that much more painful. Boise State has lost three games in three years by five points thanks to walk-on kickers missing field goals. They never get a shot at playing for the national title. Oklahoma just hopes they can beat their rival and get to the same old exhibition (the Fiesta Bowl) they're used to playing in.
'Every week is a playoff' is the line you'll see often in BCS literature. If that's the case then, Alabama would not be sitting at No. 2 in the country and set to play LSU - again - for the national title. They lost their playoff game at Bryant-Denny in the Field Goal Festival of the Century. Talk of another rematch involving Oregon was put to bed thanks to the conquering Trojans but had they won, they should have taken note that no, they can't be playing in New Orleans after losing a game earlier in the season.
Now we are left with a BCS beauty pageant. Boise could be a top five team at the end of the year but will likely play right before Christmas. Stanford might be passed over for Michigan despite the Cardinal being in the top 10 all season. The SEC is strong at the top but weak all over - as evidenced by FCS Southern Conference teams having a combined 52-34 lead on SEC teams at one point Saturday. Alas, this is the system we have.
The modeling still isn't over with a few more weeks left in the season and that should provide clarity on the situation, especially with Arkansas traveling to Baton Rouge and Alabama playing the Iron Bowl at Auburn. There's still Bedlam and championship games. This show will go on.
But a Saturday that didn't shape up to be much ended up being quite a bit thanks to what happened on the field. It's why we all love college football and why we put up with six days of arguing and rankings. 60 minutes between the lines never looked so good in week 12.
Stat of the week
USC is the first loss Chip Kelly has suffered as head coach when the opposing team has just one week to prepare. It was also his first ever home loss and the Trojans win snapped a 19 game conference winning streak and the longest home winning streak in the country.
Stats of the week
- The SEC has 9 offenses ranked 75th or worse in the country but four of the top five defenses. The former is responsible for the latter more than the other way around.
- Wisconsin had a 12 play, 27 yard drive against Illinois that took 7:11 off the clock before Montee Ball scored a touchdown. At that point, Texas A&M had scored 44 points in 8:24 against Kansas.
- FCS Georgia Southern scored 21 points and ran for 302 yards on Alabama's defense, which led the country in just about every major defensive category. Dominique Swope had an 82-yard touchdown and finished with 18 carries for 153 yards (8.5 yd ave.). In the process, Swope became just the fifth back to rush for over 100 yards against Nick Saban in his five seasons in Tuscaloosa. Alabama's scoring defense went from 7.1 points per game to 8.36 ppg afterward and the rush defense jumped from 51.9 ypg to 74.64 just from the one game.
- This is the first time since Bo Pelini's first year that Nebraska has allowed more than 40 points in a game twice in a season.
- Oregon's 24-point deficit they faced against USC was the biggest they faced since October 4, 2008, also against the Trojans.
- Via the AP, before Miami did it yesterday, no FBS team had scored less than seven points and won a road game since Auburn topped Mississippi State 3-2 in 2008.
- Five starts for David Ash, six interceptions. Ouch.
- LSU, Alabama and Arkansas are 1, 2, 3 in the AP Poll. The only other time one conference has done that in the poll era is Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado of the Big 8 in 1971.
- Kansas has - by far - the worst defense in the country. It is dead last in three major categories and is giving up 45.55 points per game and 531.45 yards per game. A sampling of the worst defenses since 2001 for comparison:
2001: Idaho 45 ppg, (Worst BCS defense: Duke 44.6 ppg)
2002: Eastern Michigan 47.2 ppg, (Kansas 42.3 ppg)
2003: Mississippi State 39.3 ppg
2004: San Jose State 42.6 ppg, (Baylor 36.9 ppg)
2005: Temple 45.3 ppg, (Illinois 39.5 ppg)
2006: Louisiana Tech 41.7 ppg, (Duke 33.8 ppg)
2007: North Texas 45.1 ppg, (Nebraska 37.9 ppg)
2008: North Texas 47.58 ppg, (Washington State 43.85 ppg)
2009: Rice 43.08 ppg, (Washington State 38.5 ppg)
2010: New Mexico 44.33 ppg, (Washington State 35.83 ppg)
Tweet of the week
"Down 22-7 in Q1, Gators DE Sharrif Floyd told teammates, "Listen it's Furman. No disrespect but it's Furman."
- Via Jason Lieser, Palm Beach Post.
3. Oklahoma State
6. Boise State
10. Virginia Tech
Where we'll be this week
Dennis Dodd will be at two games this week, starting with the big showdown on CBS between Arkansas and LSU on Friday and Missouri-Kansas on Saturday, the final game in the second-longest rivalry west of the Mississippi. I will cover two games as well, with the final Texas-Texas A&M game on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and end with the crosstown showdown between USC and UCLA. Brett McMurphy will be at the Iron Bowl as Alabama looks for revenge on Auburn and to keep their name in the national title race.
Leaning this way
Penn State at Wisconsin
This is for a trip to the Big Ten title game and there's no doubt that commissioner Jim Delany hopes Wisconsin can win and hopefully cover the two touchdowns+ spread. Penn State's offense showed signs of life in the first half against Ohio State but managed to throttle back down to nothing in the second half against an ok defense. Montee Ball and Russell Wilson have this thing over early though and the Nittany Lions can't claw their way back.
Alabama at Auburn
The Tide are ranked second in the country, the Tigers are unranked. Normally that doesn't matter when these two get together but that's just one indication of how good/bad these teams are. Neither team looked impressive against FCS foes so you wonder if they were saving a few things for this game. Still, hard to see an upset when Alabama is in the top three in the conference in every major category.
Arkansas at LSU
BCS chaos can rain supreme if the Razorbacks are able to go into Baton Rouge and pull off the upset. They will certainly be the best passing offense LSU's fantastic secondary has faced but the key will come down to protecting Tyler Wilson. If LSU turns it over a few times there is certainly a chance at a loss but it all seems unlikely for 'The Hat' to lose this close to taking a trip to Atlanta.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, Arkansas, Auburn, Ball State, Baylor, BCS, Bert Reed, Big 8, Blake Bell, Bo Pelini, Boise State, Bowling Green, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bryan Fischer, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Cal, California, Case McCoy, Chip Kelly, Clemson, Colorado, Conference USA, David Ash, David Wilson, De'Anthony Thomas, Dennis Dodd, Doak Walker, Dominique Swope, Eastern Michigan, Eric Gordon, FCS, Fiesta Bowl, Florida State, Florida State, Furman, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Houston, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Iron Bowl, Jim Delany, Jordan Rodgers, Kansas, Kansas State, Keenan Allen, Kendall Wright, Kenjon Barner, Kentucky, Landry Jones, Logan Thomas, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Marc Tyler, Matt Barkley Randall Telfer, Miami, Miami (Ohio), Michael Rocco, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike London, Mississippi State, Missouri, MLB, Montee Ball, N.C. State, NCAA, Nebraska, Nick Saban, North Carolina, North Texas, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Paul Rhoads, Penn State, Pitt, Pittsburgh, Rice, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, San Jose State, Sharrif Floyd, SMU, Southern Conference, Southern Miss, Stanford, Stanford, Surveying the Field, Temple, Tennessee, Terrence Ganaway, Terrence Williams, Texas, Texas A&M, Tyler Wilson, UAB, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington State, Week 12, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin, World Series, Zach Maynard
Posted on: November 20, 2011 1:23 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: The SEC
Were you one of the people who were dreading the idea of a rematch between LSU and Alabama for the BCS title? Well, blame the Big 12 because I don't think you've got any other choice right now. Thanks to Iowa State and Baylor knocking off Oklahoma State and Oklahoma this weekend, two of the biggest threats to SEC dominance have been knocked out of the running. Oddly enough, even though Oklahoma State lost on Friday night, it actually had a chance to still be in the running given all the other losses in the top ten this week, but then Oklahoma had to go lose to Baylor.
Now if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma in Bedlam, it won't mean as much with the Sooners already suffering two losses.
WINNER: Paul Rhoads
The man is becoming an expert at upsetting high-powered offenses en route to the BCS title game. He did it as Pitt's defensive coordinator against West Virginia in 2007, and now he's done it to Oklahoma State in Ames. I'm not sure if Iowa State is ever going to be a contender for a Big 12 title under Rhoads, but there's no denying that he has this program headed in the right direction. The Cyclones will have to work hard to keep him in Ames, too, because it won't be long before other schools come calling.
LOSER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman campaign
There are much worse things that happened to Oklahoma State this weekend, and I'm not just talking about football. Still, as far as losses on the field are concerned, Brandon Weeden lost quite a bit on Friday night. He can kiss his shot at the Heisman Trophy goodbye. He'd been building up steam every week, but after throwing 3 interceptions in Oklahoma State's loss to Iowa State, he'll be falling off a lot of ballots.
WINNER: Robert Griffin's Heisman campaign
Griffin's Heisman candidacy had taken a hit in recent weeks thanks to some subpar performances against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, but the whole country was able to see Griffin's game-winning drive against Oklahoma on Saturday night. In a season in which the Heisman may be more up for grabs than ever before, that was one of those drives that will be stuck in the memory of many a voter when it comes time to turn in the ballots.
LOSER: Bob Stoops
Bob Stoops had set himself up for some second-guessing in Waco on Saturday night. After Oklahoma scored in the final minute to cut the lead to 38-37 Stoops was ready to go for two and the win. Unfortunately a false start forced Oklahoma to have to kick the extra point, which may have saved Stoops because had Oklahoma gone for two and not gotten it, well, there'd have been a whole lot of 20/20 hindsight in Norman. Still, despite the second chance, Stoops had to go and make himself the goat anyway by calling a timeout when Baylor was content to head to overtime.
Then Baylor went down the field in a few plays before scoring the game-winning touchdown with 8 seconds left.
WINNER: Terrence Williams
There may not have been a more perfect target for Robert Griffin on that game-winning touchdown. Earlier in the contest Griffin found Williams for what would have been a sure touchdown, only Williams dropped the pass. Imagine how terrible Williams might have felt if Oklahoma had gone on to win in overtime? If he'd made that catch earlier, the overtime would have never happened. Instead he was able to redeem himself by catching the game-winner, which is a pretty great way to forget about your earlier mistake if you ask me.
LOSER: The Texas offense
In its last two games, after running roughshod over opponents in the previous two weeks, Texas has managed just 18 points and 481 yards of total offense with only 1 touchdown. To put that in perspective, Texas rushed for 439 yards and 5 touchdowns against Texas Tech three weeks ago. Making matters worse, the Longhorns seemed to be ready to roll with David Ash as their quarterback, but his performance the last few weeks could mean Case McCoy is starting against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving. In other words, letting Garrett Gilbert transfer may not have been the best idea.
WINNER: James Franklin
Poor, James Franklin. He had a monster game on Saturday but it's going to be overshadowed by Robert Griffin's performance and the losses of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Still, i'm going to give him his due here. Franklin finished his day with 324 total yards and 4 touchdowns, leading Missouri on a fourth quarter comeback and scoring the game-winning touchdown with 2:22 left. I'd say Gary Pinkel owes Franklin a beer, but Franklin's not old enough to drink and Pinkel's in enough trouble as it is.
I don't even know what to say to you anymore, Jayhawks. Every time I think things can't get any worse you go and have a game like the one you did on Saturday. The Jayhawks got destroyed by Texas A&M on Saturday, losing 61-7. If Turner Gill wasn't already on his way to a pink slip, I think it's safe to say he'll be getting one now.
WINNER: Kansas State's BCS hopes
It's a longshot considering that Kansas State can't win the Big 12 this season, but the Wildcats chances of landing an at-large berth in a BCS game increased a bit on Saturday. If Kansas State can go on to beat Iowa State next week -- and we can't just assume they will anymore, can we? -- and Oklahoma State knocks off Oklahoma in Bedlam, then the Wildcats will finish second in the Big 12 this season and likely in the top 12 of the BCS. Sure, the Wildcats need a few other things to happen before that from other schools around the country, but their prospects improved all the same.
Tags: Alabama, Baylor, Big 12, Big 12 Winners and Losers, Bob Stoops, Brandon Weeden, Case McCoy, David Ash, Garrett Gilbert, Gary Pinkel, Iowa State, James Franklin, Kansas, Kansas State, LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Paul Rhoads, Pitt, Robert Griffin, Terrence Williams, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Turner Gill, West Virginia, Winners and Losers, Winners and Losers Week 12
Posted on: November 20, 2011 12:18 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:18 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
BAYLOR WON. For the first time in school history Baylor beat Oklahoma on Saturday night. They can now claim a 1-20 record against the Sooners. In a weekend full of wonderful games, this one may have taken the cake. Robert Griffin emphatically announced to the world that he needs to be on every Heisman ballot in the country, leading Baylor on a game-winning drive in the final minute to upset the Sooners. Griffin finished the night with 551 total yards and 4 touchdowns, as Baylor racked up 620 yards of offense in the game. Not that Oklahoma didn't have some fun on offense as well, as the Sooners had 605 yards of offense and backup quarterback Blake Bell rushed for 4 touchdowns as Landry Jones threw for 447 yards.
WHY BAYLOR WON. This will sound incredibly simplistic given all that happened in this game, but Baylor won this game because Bob Stoops let it. After Oklahoma tied the game 38-38 with 55 seconds left, Baylor was content to run out the clock and go to overtime. For some reason Stoops called a timeout, and Baylor said "Well, if you want to play that way, all right." A few plays later Baylor was scoring the winning touchdown.
WHEN BAYLOR WON. When Robert Griffin danced around in the pocket for a while and unleashed a rocket to Terrence Williams in the back of the end zone with 8 seconds left. Griffin paid the price for it, too, taking a big shot after the throw. Not that he likely felt it once he heard the crowd go crazy.
WHAT BAYLOR WON. It's signature win of 2011. This win is even bigger than the upset of TCU to start the season. As I said above, Baylor had never beaten Oklahoma before tonight, and now it not only beat the Sooners, but it destroyed any chance Oklahoma had of reaching the BCS Championship Game in the process.
WHAT OKLAHOMA LOST. Oklahoma's chances of reaching the title game took a hit on Friday night when Iowa State upset Oklahoma State. But then things began turning for the Sooners. Clemson lost, Oregon lost, and if the Sooners won this game they'd be right back in the title picture. Only they didn't win. The Sooners can still win the Big 12 and get to the Fiesta Bowl by beating Oklahoma State next week, however, so not all hope is lost.
THAT WAS CRAZY. This entire game. If you saw it, you know what I'm talking about. If you missed it, well, sorry.