Best in the (SEC) West
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College football brought us another thrilling Saturday, as upsets and wild finishes filled the day. The game everyone had been talking about, #1 LSU vs #2 Alabama, was as close as predicted, with the Tigers needing OT to get the 9-6 win. #3 Oklahoma State will move up to #2 in the polls today, but received a massive scare at home from #14 Kansas State, having to score 18 in the 4th quarter to get it done. And two top ten teams fell, #9 Nebraska and #10 South Carolina, opening the door for two other teams to jump in.
LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT) - Not that you haven't seen a recap of this game on one of any million other TV shows, websites or newspapers, but here is another. LSU went into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama, 9-6. It took overtime, and it wasn't the most beautifully played game ever, but it is a ticket to the national title game if the Tigers win their next four games.
This was a defensive struggle with offensive mistakes - mainly the Alabama kicking game. The Tide missed two early field goals (44 and 50 yards) that would have been the difference at the end. Another kick was blocked and Bama also missed a 52-yarder in OT. Both teams committed two turnovers, but that can be attributed to the solid defense both squads put on display.
LSU split time at QB between Jordan Jefferson (6 of 10 for 67 yards, no TD or INT) and Jarrett Lee (3 of 7 for 24 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT). The duo was just three for eleven on third downs. Alabama's AJ McCarron went for 199 yards on 16 of 28 with no scores and one INT. The Tide also struggled on third down, picking up just five of 13.
With thousands of predictions coming in for this game over the last two weeks, the safest one, a defensive struggle, proved to be the best one. Both of these teams showed why they are national title material: they simply cannot be scored on.
The game winner came off of the foot of Drew Alleman, who also made a 19-yarder in the first quarter and a 30-yarder in the fourth quarter. His three for three effort on this day keep LSU as the front-runner to win the national title game - a game that would be played in New Orleans.
Alleman's kick was set up when LSU's defense flexed their muscle on Bama's first possession in OT. A Sam Montgomery sack on third and 15 forced Alabama to try a bomb of a FG that missed. After the Tigers rushed three times to the Tide eight-yard line, Alleman did his thing for the win.
Oklahoma State 52, Kansas State 45
Yes, there were other big games on this day, and this was certainly one of them. I predicted that OSU would stomp all over KSU, bringing the Wildcats back to reality. Boy was I wrong. Oklahoma State had to rally several times in the second half to win this game, and it wasn't over until Kansas State missed three touchdown pass opportunities in the final seconds from the five-yard line. The teams combined for four TDs in the final five minutes - nearly a fifth - in what was one of the most exciting finishes this season.
The stats in this game are astounding: 1,083 total yards, 97 points, 53 first downs, 11 touchdowns. Kansas State displayed more balance, with 231 through the air and 276 on the ground, while OSU picked up 507 of their 575 yards by way of Brandon Weeden's right arm.
Oklahoma State is almost guaranteed to move up to the #2 spot in the AP, Coaches and BCS polls out later tday. The Cowboys offense is second in the nation at 50.1 points per game, and they showed that when they have to use it to get it done, that is what they will do. The Cowboys have a tricky road game at Texas Tech this weekend and then a road game at Iowa State they should win big. That would set up a showdown with Oklahoma to complete a perfect regular season.
With no Big-12 Championship Game to play, OSU is three games from playing for a crystal football.
#7 Arkansas 44, #10 South Carolina 28
It took Arkansas a while to pull away, but my prediction (38-24 Arkansas) wasn't far off by the time the dust cleared. The Razorbacks are a physical team that can also put some moves on you, and on this night it was Jarius Wright and Dennis Johnson putting on the moves. Wright hauled in two Tyler Wilson TD passes, and Johnson electrified the crowd with a 98-yard TD on a kickoff return.
If you are an Arkansas fan, you cannot help but think big. With two home games ahead that they should win (Tennessee and Mississippi State), they would have a showdown with LSU to end the regular season. Yes, it would be an extremely tall task, but a win in Baton Rouge would win the SEC West and very possibly send Arkansas to the BCSCG. It isn't all that crazy, really (except it is all but impossible to score on LSU)...
For South Carolina, a once all-but-guaranteed SEC East crown is now looking grim. The Gamecocks are now in second place in the division, now needing Georgia to lose. The Dawgs finish with Auburn and Kentucky at home. South Carolina has only Florida remaining. It is actually pretty simple: if Georgia beats Auburn Saturday, they head to Atlanta.
Northwestern 28, #9 Nebraska 25
The Cornhusker nation has to be shaking its collective head today. What in the world are the Wildcats of Northwestern doing coming into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln and ruining plans for a big first season in the Big Ten?! Nebraska was leading the Legends Division having already beaten Michigan State, but now find themselves in a three-way tie for second place behind the Spartans. Nebraska was in strong position to make a huge impact the very first season they played in this league, but Northwestern and QB Kain Colter had different ideas.
Kolter had the game of his life accounting for three TDs - one passing and two rushing. All day long he drove Nebraska nuts, picking up third downs and eating up clock. In the final quarter, when both teams scored twice, Colter was able to hang in there and match Nebraska's come from behind efforts. He hit Jeremy Ebert for an 81-yard score with twelve minutes to play, and then with just 1:34 to go he put the game out of reach with a 1-yard run.
This has to be painful for the Huskers. They were in a fight for the Legends Division crown. But a loss at home to a team they should beat has them probably out of BCS contention.
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