During the middle of last week, I glanced at the upcoming weekend of college football. Truthfully, I did not think today's column would be necessary. All the top ten BCS teams were going to win, I thought. Boy, was I wrong. What followed was one of the most exciting weekends in memory. The Big 12 was right in the middle of all the drama. Here's how the chips fell in the BCS race.
1. Oklahoma State
Was Oklahoma State overlooking Iowa State and looking ahead to in-state rival Oklahoma? Did a school in trauma affect the Cowboys on the road against Iowa State? They are questions that probably can't be answered, but either way, Iowa State tamed Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and his high-scoring offense. The Cyclones won it in overtime, 37-31, all but ruining the Cowboys' BCS Championship hopes. Oops.
If you have a quick-strike offense and are driving for the game-winning score against USC, do you A)slow down by using your timeouts and go for the winning touchdown? or B)virtually ignore your timeouts and count on an inconsistent kicker? Oregon coach Chip Kelly choose B. And Alejandro Maldonado missed the biggest kick of the year. Oops.USC won the thriller, 38-35, and erased the Ducks' hopes of a BCS Championship re-match with LSU.
I'm not sure which coach would like to get his decision-making back more, Kelly or Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. The score was tied with 51 seconds remaining and Baylor had the ball. The Bears chose a safe run up the middle, gaining hardly anything. Clearly, they were content to play for overtime. So Bob Stoops called time-out. A couple Robert Griffin III scrambles and a completed pass later and all the sudden Griffin III was launching a 34-yard touchdown pass to win it in regulation, 45-38. Oops.
What more can be said? After a surprising upstart to their season, Clemson essentially forgot to show up against a mediocre North Carolina State team, which pummelled the Tigers 37-13. They've lost two out of their last three. Quarterback Tajh Boyd didn't throw any touchdown passes, but he did toss a couple costly interceptions. Ooops.
1. The SEC
Heading into Week 13 of the college football season, the SEC inhabits all three of the top BCS standings. LSU, one of two unbeaten teams left in the land, owns the #1 spot. Alabama, which lost to LSU 9-6 a few weeks ago, sits comfortably in the #2 spot, a date with a pesky Auburn team on the way. Arkansas, 44-17 winners over Mississippi State, moved up to the #3 spot. In the most interesting post-Thanksgiving game this weekend, Arkansas travels to LSU on Friday.
With NCAA sanctions keeping the Trojans away from bowl games this year, they're quietly having a season that proves they'll be a force to reckon with in the future. This year against an almost-all BCS-conference opponents, they've knocked off Oregon, 38-35, Notre Dame, 31-17, and lost to Stanford in three overtimes. With no disrespect to Kansas State's Bill Snyder, I think I'd give the Coach of the Year award to Lane Kiffin, as painful as it is for me to admit that. I'm sure recruits are noticing.
3. Robert Griffin III
Even if ESPN didn't notice, Griffin basically willed Baylor to a thrilling 45-38 win against Oklahoma Saturday night. Against the Sooners, all he did was throw for 479 yards, 4 touchdown passes, and zero interceptions. Included in those numbers are the gutsy 35-yard touchdown toss with eight seconds left in regulation. Oh, and he rushed for 72 yards. He gets punished because his team isn't the best, but he may very well be the best player in college football.
Interesting Games Galore on Thanksgiving Weekend
#3 Arkansas at #1 LSU, Friday
#2 Alabama at #24 Auburn, Saturday
#5 Virginia Tech at # Virginia, Saturday
#22 Notre Dame at #6 Stanford, Saturday
#8 Houston at Tulsa, Friday
#17 Clemson at #12 South Carolina, Saturday
# 13 Georgia at #23 Georgia Tech, Saturday
Ohio Sate at #15 Michigan, Saturday
#19 Penn State at #16 Wisconsin, Saturday