The wild and wacky world of college football included some unexpected blowouts (see Florida Gators), a couple of nail biters (i.e. Notre Dame-Stanford) and high drama in the sultry Sun Belt conference?
That's right folks, Arkansas State is going bowling!
LSU (and Georgia) fans can finally rule out South Florida from the BCS equation thanks to Connecticut. Speaking of thanks, Colorado coach Gary Barnett needs to send a fruit basket to Kansas head man Mike Mangino for showing the Buffs the back door to the Big XII title.
John Brady silenced his critics by beefing up the Tigers' non-conference schedule and nabbing a huge win on the road over a ranked opponent. Darrel Mitchell has ice water in his veins.
It is all here in our latest rant.
To Les Miles. While it remains to be seen if Miles is the coach all Tiger fans hope he is (remember Mike Archer went 10-1-1 in his first season), the first-year coach grabbed win No. 10 with Friday's 19-17 win over Arkansas, becoming only the fifth coach in LSU history to notch double digit victories in a season. With the victory, LSU wrapped up the SEC Western Division title and now heads to Atlanta for a date with Georgia in the SEC title game, the Tigers third appearance in Atlanta in five seasons.
To a tenacious Tiger defense, especially Melvin Oliver. Oliver's last-second sack of Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick all but preserved LSU's two-point win over the Hogs. The two-point differential came from a second quarter safety, on which Early Doucet dropped Arkansas punter Jacob Skinner in the south end zone.
To Dwayne Bowe. Not to negative toward LSU most talented receiver, but remember when Bowe promised never to drop another pass after he bobbled a pass in the end zone that would have put Auburn away. Bowe dropped three passes on Friday. LSU receivers dropped seven in all. When will the NCAA begin compiling a dropped passes stat? Not soon enough says JaMarcus Russell.
To Bennie Brazell. While Bowe was battling the yips on Friday, wide receiver turned Olympian turned wide receiver Bennie Brazell hauled in another lengthy touchdown grab, his second in two weeks and third of the season. Brazell's three touchdown catches have covered 43 (Florida), 55 (Ole Miss) and 50 (Arkansas) yards respectively.
To the Ole Miss Rebels. Just when Rebel fans thought it couldn't get any worse, first year coach Ed Orgeron went and lost to in-state rival Mississippi State. Not only did the Rebs lose to Sly Croom's Bulldogs, Ole Miss got pounded 35-14. Does Pete Boone pull the plug on "O" in year one? Probably not, but the Rebel faithful is probably thinking David Cutcliffe's annual 7-4 record looks pretty good right about now.
To the ESPN Gameday crew. For the first time in recent memory, the ESPN traveling road show of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso visited a non Division I-A game. Saturday, ESPN set up shop at Reliant Stadium in Houston for the annual clash between Southern and Grambling, better known as the Bayou Classic. The ESPN gang featured both schools' famous bands, included features on how each school was affected by the hurricanes and included the traditional rivalry in its weekly picks. Grambling hammered Southern 50-35.
To Florida coach Urban Meyer. After taking a great deal of heat when his innovative spread offense didn't revolutionize the SEC when he arrived in Gainesville, Meyer earned a bit of breathing room when his Gators drilled Florida State 34-7 on Saturday.
To Florida State. Now, will the national pundits please quit drooling over the Seminoles every year? It is pretty obvious it's time for Bobby Bowden to move along. Sure his teams can easily win seven or eight games each season, but four losses – to Virginia and three in a row to NC State, Clemson and now three straight years to Florida – is well below what the folks in Tallahassee will allow. Plus, the Seminoles get to close out regular season playing Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. Could Bobby's boys lose five games and close out the year losing four in a row? Do you remember back when they were No. 4 in the country – at the beginning of THIS year? Seems like decades ago.
While we're at it, let's pile it on the Seminoles. FSU quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee have combined to throw 18 interceptions this season, including three by Weatherford on Saturday. Florida State ranks 108th in throwing interceptions.
To Iowa State. The Cyclones could have wrapped up the Big XII North division crown with a win at Kansas Saturday. Instead, the Jay Hawks upended the Clones 24-21 in overtime.
To make matters worse in the Big XII North, Colorado, which got blasted by lowly Nebraska 30-3 on Friday, backs into the conference championship game and will face Texas in Houston on Dec. 3. Ugh. No doubt the Small Dozen North league is somewhere on the same level as middle school football.
Thank you Connecticut. The Huskies finally ended all the hoopla over Division I-A newcomer South Florida and the Bulls chances of making it to the Sugar Bowl as the champions of the Big East. USF had rolled through league play and needed to win out, including a victory over West Virginia, to land as conference champion in the Sugar Bowl. UConn ended that hoopla beating South Florida 15-10 on Saturday.
The national television networks got their wish as Notre Dame heads to the Fiesta Bowl. However, the Fighting Irish didn't waltz into its first BCS bowl game since 2002 without, well, a "fight." Pac-10 patsy Stanford took Charlie Weis' Irish down the wire. Notre Dame scored with less than a minute left to beat the Cardinal 38-31 and finish the regular season 9-2. Why is it again anyone thinks this team is really all that special?
To UL-Monroe. A Division I team since 1994, the Indians have been a doormat for almost a dozen years. Under third year coach Charlie Weatherbie, ULM had a shot at winning the Sun Belt Conference title and its first postseason action since the 1993 I-AA playoffs. All the Indians had to do was beat rival UL-Lafayette on Saturday – at home. Didn't happen. The Cajuns blasted UL-Monroe 54-21 and began celebrating a possible Sun Belt Championship. However the Ragin' Ones needed North Texas to beat Arkansas State to propel the Cajuns into the New Orleans Bowl, which is to be played in Lafayette. (Got all that?) Arkansas State slipped past the Mean Green 31-24 and will represent the Sun Belt in the New Orleans Bowl.
To coach John Brady. Brady's Tigers went on the road and beat No. 13 West Virginia in Morgantown for a huge non-conference, early season win that should give his team national notoriety. LSU led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but WVU, who was 19 of 45 (that's right, they shot 45 three-pointers) from the three point line, pulled ahead late in the second half. LSU senior Darrel Mitchell hit a clutch three-pointer with just seconds left to force overtime, where LSU eventually won 71-68.