And So It Is Written ...
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The ten most important things to happen in the history of our great planet – at least this weekend. How will Week 11 of your college football season be remembered in the history books? And so it is written …
1. Separation, Shakedown, Some other S-word you can think of, Saturday
It’s become overused and overblown to try to define with a Saturday might be with some creative alliteration, but this weekend really did start to define what the season is becoming. Who has control of the Big Ten now? Ohio State, and Nebraska is still lurking with just its one loss. TCU’s taming of Kansas State put the Big 12 puck on its stick for the next few weeks, and Notre Dame bowed out of the CFP fun by giving the ball to Arizona State over and over and over again. Throw in Alabama’s scintillating win over LSU, Oregon’s performance against Utah, and Auburn’s fumbles against Texas A&M, and now there are just two key unbeatens left and eight with one loss. The stage has now been set for Mississippi State, Florida State, Oregon, Alabama, TCU, Arizona State, Baylor, Nebraska, Ohio State and Duke to figure it all out.
2. Oh that wacky SEC West
The division never, ever disappoints. There were the Mississippi paycheck games with Ole Miss beating Presbyterian and Mississippi State getting by UT Martin, but Texas A&M came out of nowhere to change up the season with a thrilling 41-38 win over an Auburn team that did everything to come up with an all-timer of a comeback – except hang on to the ball in key moments late. LSU wasn’t expected to be a pushover in Death Valley, but Alabama needed to rally just to force overtime, and then kept the national title dream alive with 20-13 win. What fun is next? Mississippi State at Alabama, Auburn ventures to the SEC East to face Georgia, Missouri tries to keep its East title hopes alive as it battles Texas A&M, and Arkansas tries to end its long SEC losing streak when LSU comes to town.
3. Never deal with an Urban Meyer team with a grudge
Urban blew it, and he knew it. He had the 2013 Big Ten title and a spot in the BCS championship there for the taking, but he stopped pounding the ball with Carlos Hyde, the defense suffered a key breakdowns, and Michigan State won and was off to the Rose Bowl. Fast forward to just over 11 months later, and Meyer had his Buckeyes frothing at the mouth for the showdown in East Lansing. This might not be the Michigan State team of last year, and it already suffered a defensive beating from Oregon in a 46-27 loss, but this was supposed to be a more complete team offensively to go along with the normally terrific D. J.T. Barrett was cool and calm, the running game was unstoppable, and the defense was good enough to get by despite allowing 536 yards. This was the decisive performance needed to get on the playoff map after being ranked 14th in the latest CFP rankings, but there’s still the Virginia Tech loss to answer for when it comes to side-by-side comparisons. However, with this win, if Ohio State goes 12-1 with a Big Ten title, it’ll be knocking on the door.
4. America, get ready for TCU
The stage was set, being ranked sixth in the latest CFP rankings and with a showdown coming against No. 7 Kansas State. The Horned Frogs were supposed to be banged up, and the Wildcats were supposed to have the right makeup and style to pull off the win, but instead, the tables turned. Kansas State lives off of controlling the ball and time of possession, but it was TCU whose offense was on the field for over 35 minutes, won the turnover battle (+1) and committed one fewer penalty. Now, with such a dominant win in such a big game, and with relative lightweight games – compared to Kansas State - against Kansas, Texas and Iowa State to go, 11-1 and a Big 12 title is possible. If the team was sixth last week, it could now be knocking on the playoff four door, but …
5. And then there’s Baylor
Baylor 61, TCU 58. TCU beat Minnesota, and while that might not be a world-beater of a non-conference game, it’s like playing the Green Bay Packers compared to what Baylor faced in beatdowns against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. The 41-27 loss at West Virginia – TCU beat the Mountaineers in Morgantown – killed any BU playoff buzz, but a 48-14 blasting of Oklahoma in Norman just brought it back for the team ranked 12th in the last CFP ranking. With Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State to close, if the Bears go 11-1, even with the loss to West Virginia on the resume they can still say they beat TCU and, technically, will win the Big 12 title on a tie-breaker, even if they’ll be listed as co-champions.
6. Arizona State’s statement
Oregon is all but being handed a spot in the College Football Playoff, but a funny thing might be happening on the way to a sure-thing Duck walk – Arizona State could be better. The Sun Devils got ripped up by UCLA, but they already have a win over USC – fine, so it took a Hail Mary to do it – and they now have wins over Stanford, Washington and Utah on the resume to go along with a 55-31 win over Notre Dame. They might have done everything possible to try gagging the game away in the second half, but when they needed to stop the drama with a big scoring drive, they got it. The defense couldn’t stop picking off Everett Golson all game long, and the offense took advantage of the opportunities with 21 unanswered points in the final 4:29 to pull away. With winnable games against Oregon State and Washington State to play before a showdown at Arizona, ASU is three games away from a Pac-12 championship shot. Win that – likely against Oregon – and a playoff spot would almost certainly be a lock.
7. At the half, Florida State 28, Virginia 13
In this week’s Jameis Winston controversy, TMZ reported point shaving allegations against Winston in the first half of the win over Louisville a few weeks ago. The NCAA is now investigating, but Winston was still on the field against Virginia leading the way to a 28-13 halftime lead and a 34-20 win to keep the school’s amazing 25-game winning streak – winning 41 of the last 44 games - going. There’s still a month until the playoff games are announced, and there’s still just under two months until the tournament gets started, and the controversy isn’t going to slow down for the reigning Heisman winner.
8. THE play that will live in Utah infamy
Oregon won 51-27, and it probably would’ve turned it on late anyway to make up the deficit, so it’s possible the play might not have mattered that much, but it did seem important later. Up 7-0, Utah was about to bring the house down against the Ducks as Kaelin Clay took off for a 78-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead … except he didn’t take the ball along for the ride, celebrating too early and dropping the ball on the three. Oregon’s Joe Walker ended up picking it up, and after pausing for a moment as the officials didn’t signal touchdown, he took off 100 yards to tie the game at seven early in the second quarter. Oregon had the momentum and rolled out to a 24-7 lead, but Utah got within three with just under 12 minutes to play – the early 14-point swing would’ve been a plus.
9. All of a sudden, Texas, Florida and Michigan are showing up
Don’t look now, but three of the superpower programs are closing strong. Florida and Michigan might still have shaky coaching situations, but the Gators beat Vanderbilt to make it a two-game winning streak going into the South Carolina game and the Wolverines have now won three of their last four. With Eastern Kentucky still to play, it’ll take a major gag for Florida to not get a sixth win to go bowling, and there’s still a shot at the SEC championship by winning out and getting a little help. Michigan needs to beat Maryland in two weeks to become bowl eligible, but nothing would be sweeter than screwing up Ohio State’s CFP dream. Texas has also won three of its last four, shocking West Virginia to get to 5-5. With a win over Oklahoma State and/or TCU, in a rough first year for Charlie Strong, there’s a shot to end with a major positive.
10. Three really cool things that you missed because you were doing something else with your life that you think were slightly more important than watching college football on a Saturday you silly, silly person
- Kansas won a football game. In yet another rough year for the program – with Charlie Weis getting fired and Big 12 team after Big 12 team having its fun against the Jayhawks - everything clicked against Iowa State in a cathartic 34-14 win. The offense cranked out 514 yards of total offense with Corey Avery and Tony Pierson each running for more than 100 yards with a score.
- Go ahead and attach any Veteran’s Day aspect to it that you’d like, but Air Force stomped UNLV and Army ran through UConn, with the Black Knights coming through in thrilling fashion. The Huskies pulled within seven on a one-yard Noel Thomas run with just over two minutes to play, and were driving deep to try tying the game in the final seconds, but Chandler Whitmer was picked off by Chris Carnegie for a 99-yard touchdown and an Army win.
- Florida International had rallied from down 21-7 against Old Dominion to take a 35-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. ODU got the ball on its own 35 with just over four minutes to play and tied it up needing nine plays to get to Ray Lawry’s two-yard touchdown run with just 65 seconds left to play. FIU tried to march quickly to go for the game-winning field goal, but Alex McGough was picked off by Fellonte Misher, and the Monarchs were able to cap off the amazing finish with a 28-yard Satchel Ziffer field goal as time expired for the 38-35 win scoring ten points in the final 1:05.