Ten Things from Week Eight
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags: college football
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Ten Things returns from a week off with utter chaos currently in the polls, and even more on the horizon. How in the world did Oregon and Boise St. get jumped twice in consecutive weeks for the top spot? How much longer can the new Superman continue his superhuman performances? Two sets of Tigers are sitting undefeated, but only one controls its own destiny. The defending champs, even with a loss, are still not out of the picture. With so much happening the past two weeks, the best thing to do is just shift our focus on the future. Ten Things looks at the state of the sport, and offers a glimpse into the that very future...
1. Seven Undefeated Teams Remain, But Who Will Prevail?
All of the seven teams are ranked at least eight in the latest BCS standings (Utah is #8 behind one-loss Alabama). If the question is which ones will finish undefeated, then look no further than Boise State and Utah. Both teams have played up to the level of their AQ peers. Both began the season with high profile wins over BCS conference foes. Both have dominated their competition since. Both also play an easier schedule than the other undefeated teams, save TCU. The Horned Frogs, though, must travel to Salt Lake City to lose to the Utes. The four AQ teams will all incur a loss somewhere down the line which will cause major problems in the decision of the national title game. If the only two unbeatens are non-AQ schools, who gets left out of the national championship? Both of them.
2. Heisman Talk
First it was Denard Robinson, with a dash of Patrick Peterson. Then it was Taylor Martinez with a smidgen of Kellen Moore. The flavor du jour hails from the Plains of Auburn, AL - Cameron Newton. In just his seventh game as a starter, he has broken the SEC record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, and broken Pat Sullivan's (that's Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan) school record for total touchdowns in a season. With at least five games left, Newton could quite possibly break the great Tebow's mark for total touchdowns in a season and hold the SEC records for rushing yards and touchdowns in a season. In a league known for its running backs, Newton will continue to garner just as much attention as Tebow did in his record breaking (and Heisman-winning) season. Look for Cam Newton to get an invite to New York as well as a vote in next year's Heisman race.
3. Three In A Row
For three straight weeks, the number one team has gone on the road and lost - Alabama @ South Carolina, Ohio State @ Wisconsin, and now Oklahoma @ Missouri. This week the top ranked Tigers will buck that trend by going into Oxford and coming away with the W. The Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears will be extra juiced for this game, but there's no way they can contain Newton or match him in points. This game will be over midway through the third quarter. Meanwhile, the AP #1 team in Oregon will suffer its only loss of the season when it travels to Los Angeles to tangle with the USC Trojans. The Ducks will be firing on all cylinders, but Matt Barkley and Co. are more than capable of putting up points on a defense that has been really good against really bad teams.
4. BCS Bowl Buster
This year's buster won't come from the Mountain West, the WAC, or even the MAC. No, this year the true buster will come from within the ranks of the AQ leagues - more specifically the Big East. Just this past week, the league's only remaining ranked team, West Virginia, was defeated at home by Syracuse. That's right, the same Syracuse team that has averaged three wins each of the past three season. That one. As of now, those two teams are the only ones with as few as two losses. With the way parity is attacking the league, it's conceivable that the eventual champion - and BCS Bowl representative - will have 3 or 4 losses and would be unranked. Meanwhile, between TCU, Utah, and Boise State, there are no losses yet two of them won't be invited to a BCS bowl.
5. Agents In College Football
Reports have been rampant about agents and improper benefits/affiliations in football. Reggie Bush. Dez Bryant. AJ Green. The North Carolina Tarheels. The topic invaded media days around the country just before the season kicked off. It has permeated every aspect of the game, from Bryant's suspension last year to Green's suspension this year to the 4-3 record of preseason Top-10 North Carolina. Reports are now circling on an idea that would help curtail player dealings - one that would have the NFL, the NFLPA and the NCAA working together. In as soon as three months, fines could be imposed on players who accept improper benefits or have illegal dealings with agents. The idea is that suspensions would be carried out on the college level, and any applicable fine would be imposed upon entry into the NFL. I, for one, think this is a great idea. Right now, a player can justify taking money without jeopardizing his pro career. If (and I hope, when) this idea comes to fruition, these players would be forced to chose from a few thousand dollars now and a few million later - a choice I feel would be much easier to make. Of course, there will be those that will be made an example of, and they will serve as a warning to the rest.
6. The State of Affairs: Big Twelve Conference
When the season began, there was a three-headed monster in the Big Twelve - Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. As of now, those teams share four losses and sit in second place (OU and Neb) in their own divisions. Right now, Baylor and Missouri control their own destiny. How is that even possible? Sure both of those teams have some play makers, but they are supposed to know their roles and bow when the big boys come knocking. That wasn't the case when the Mizzou Tigers tripped up the Sooners this weekend. The Baylor Bears look to drive a nail in Texas' coffin this week as well, which brings me to...
7. Topsy-Turvy Conferences:
It's not just the Big 12. Many conferences are going through a changing of the guard, at least mid season. Besides Baylor playing AS a ranked team against and UNranked Texas team for the first time since the 1986, Florida and Georgia play in the World's Most Mediocre Cocktail Party. Both teams are unranked playing each other for the first time since 1979. While Missouri and Baylor lead their respective divisions, South Carolina is in charge of the SEC East while Michigan State controls its destiny in the Big Ten. Sparty hasn't won an outright Big Ten title since 1987. The Gamecocks haven't been to an SEC Championship game, even though their coach has, and hasn't won an SEC title since, well...ever. Even Syracuse controls its on destiny in the Big East. Look for the Spartans to be the only team from this group that follows through, though. They are the only ones with enough toughness and experience (and talent) to make it to the top.
8. BCS Championship
If I had to make a decision right now as to who would play in the national championship, I would have to take a page out of Phil Steele's book (literally) and say Alabama and Oklahoma. Now, you may call me crazy. Or a homer. You may be right on both counts, but as I said before, I don't expect anyone from an AQ conference to finish undefeated. To me, that leaves Alabama in a prime position to take over the top spot - especially if they can defeat the Auburn Tigers when they're ranked #1. Oklahoma, meanwhile, will bounce back to take the Big 12, and in the process inch up the rankings after defeating Oklahoma State and Baylor when they are ranked, and Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game. Those wins will gain the Sooners favor with the pollsters and computers alike - perhaps even making them #1 to Alabama's #2 come BCS Selection Sunday.
9. One Glimpse Into the Past
I can't help but wonder what in the world Bob Stoops was doing toward the end of the game against Missouri. The Sooners just scored a touchdown to come within nine points with six minutes left in the game. Rather than kick the PAT and make it a one touchdown (plus two point conversion) game, he opted to go for two right there. As you may have deduced from their absence in the #1 ranking, they failed to score the other nine points. My issue is, how in the world can you do that? I've heard some say it gives you a chance to prepare for the missed conversion, since the second attempt isn't a given either. But with time winding down, by making the game come down to one score instead of two puts the pressure right back on the other team, and with six minutes to go, there's plenty of time to get a stop and take the ball down the field. It's calls like that which have prevented Stoops from reaching his second national title in three tries, and why he will fail in his fourth, as well.
10. Game of the Week Preview: Oregon @ USC
This Saturday, the Ducks hope to stave off the Gameday curse. Each of the past three weeks has seen the top ranked team fall, and the Ducks are #1 in the AP poll. Add to that a dangerous environment with the most athletic team it will face the rest of the way and you have the makings for an upset. Both teams have potent offenses, while neither one has a truly elite defense. Look for this game to get up into the 40-s, possibly 50's. Ultimately, and untimely turnover dooms the Ducks and their dream season is shattered by the father/son duo of Kiffins. Oregon falls 48-42.
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