Week 13 certainly proved unlucky for those teams looking to rewire the BCS Standings. Arkansas was destroyed by an LSU that left nothing standing in its way; the Tigers are going to the National Championship regardless of what Georgia is able to do in the SEC title game Auburn was similarly beaten by a solidly #2 Alabama team, and the stage is set for a rematch.
Oregon won a lopsided Civil War with ease, putting itself in position for a Rose Bowl berth. The Pac 12 Championship will feature a pathetic UCLA squad from the South Division and holds little drama.
The Big Ten will see its two best teams square off in the first ever league championship game as Wisconsin and Michigan State rolled to wins. Penn State was unable to offer the Badgers much resistance.
The upcoming Bedlam game is the de facto Big XII title game; the conference lost two members and won’t have an actual championship. The ACC will, though Clemson heads into its matchup against Virginia Tech looking horrible.
The Big East is still up for grabs, though none of the competing teams is really worth a BCS berth. The Houston Cougars are, assuming they can capture Conference-USA in their season finale.
There is still some work left to do before we get a clear picture of the BCS landscape, but the choices are dwindling.
Best Win of The Week: LSU 41, Arkansas 17 in Baton Rouge
There’s not a whole lot to say about this game. It was a much-anticipated matchup, and though LSU came in as a clear favorite, the thought was that Arkansas could hang tough and potentially damage the Tigers’ title hopes. Indeed, when the Razorbacks went up 14-0 after a hot start, it appeared that BCS might be shaken up yet again.
Arkansas was, in many ways, an overlooked threat. The team had only lost to Alabama and was still alive for a share of the SEC West title. After a scoreless first quarter that saw each team punt twice, the Hogs drew first blood when Tyler Wilson found Jarius Wirght in the endzone, capping a 62-yard march with the opening score.
On the ensuing possession, LSU’s Michael Ford fumbled, allowing the Arkansas defense to scoop and score for the 14-0 lead. To their credit, the Tigers never seemed rattled.
Drives of 72 and 66 yards culminated in LSU touchdowns, and Tyrann Mathieu added a 92 punt return to put LSU up 21-14 at the break. Once the nation’s top team assumed command, this one was over.
Arkansas managed a third quarter field goal, but was otherwise dismantled. With a 17-point fourth quarter, the Tigers left no doubt as to the state of affairs in the SEC, and Arkansas found itself knocked out the BCS picture. LSU presented a balanced attack (208 passing yards, 286 rushing) coupled with stifling defense, won the turnover battle, won the special teams battle, and booked its ticket for nearby New Orleans. The title game will practically be a home game.
Honorable Mention: Wisconsin 45, Penn State 7 in Madison
Worst Win of the Week: Florida State 21, Florida 7 in Gainesville
Looking at the score alone, one might think this one wasn’t such a bad victory for the ‘Noles. In truth, neither team should have been credited with victory. In this rivalry game, there were only two losers.
Florida State, hot off an upset loss against Virginia, did nothing to shake off the pall of negativity clinging to the team. Jimbo Fisher and his players engineered a bust of a season; remember that FSU began the year ranked #5 in the country. The Seminoles were darn lucky to finish 8-4.
It’s not often that a team wins despite failed to break the 100-yard mark, but thanks for to four interceptions by Florida QBs, that’s exactly what happened. FSU finished with 95 total yards– 65 through the air and 30 on the ground. The team racked up 35 yards on four offensive penalties plus an 11-yard spot foul for intentional grounding, giving itself an effective net gain of just 49.
The ‘Noles averaged 0.7 yards per rush and completed just six passes. It may have been the most pathetic offensive performance of the season in FBS football.
Luckily for the visitors, Florida’s offense was worse. Not only could the Gators not move the ball, but they were too willing to hand it over the FSU defense. John Brantley tossed three interceptions in the first half before being pulled in favor of Trey Burton and Jacoby Brissett. Brissett added a fourth turnover later, though by then it hardly mattered.
Honorable Mention: West Virginia 21, Pittsburgh 20 in Morgantown
Upset of the Week: Colorado 17, Utah 14 in Salt Lake City
It was a rude welcome for Utah in the Pac 12 this year. But for all of their struggles, the Utes were in position to win their division and meet Oregon in the conference championship. All they had to do was beat lowly Colorado in the comfort of their home stadium.
Kyle Whittingham’s teams rarely choke. But Utah sure choked on Saturday.
The 2-10 Buffaloes marched into Salt Lake City and led wire to wire, outgaining Utah by 99 yards and shutting down the Utes’ offense. It was Colorado’s best defensive showing of the year, considering the competition, and the second fewest yards allowed trailing only the win over Colorado State.
How could Utah have allowed this to happen? Even in its weakened state, without QB Jordan Wynn, without the talent that made it such a BCS-busting threat in recent seasons, this team should have handled Colorado. With so much on the line, it’s almost inconceivable that the Utes were outplayed so badly.
And it might have been even worse. Utah actually won the turnover battle with a +1 margin, and still couldn’t get the job done.
We knew it would take time for the program to adjust to a major conference. But this ending has to be a considerable disappointment to all involved. On the other hand, the win gives Colorado a rare positive note on which to build.
Honorable Mention: Boston College 24, Miami 17 in Miami
AND THE GAME BALLS GO TO…
|John Mitchell||Matt Strobl||Zach Bigalke|
|Trent Richardson, RB- Alabama: Alabama’s Heisman candidate saved his best performance of the season for the biggest of stages in the Iron Bowl against rival Auburn. He racked up 203 rushing yards on 27 carries and scored on a receiving touchdown in the second quarter of the Tide’s 42-14 beatdown of the Tigers. It was Richardson’s first career 200-yard rushing game, and is 9th 100+ yard rushing performance of the 2011 season. He also eviscerated the Auburn defense on a 57-yard run in the fourth quarter that may have been the best run of the season. He made his statement loud and clear to the Heisman voters at Jordan-Hare on Saturday afternoon.||Matt Barkley, QB- USC: For just a moment, let’s forget about Andrew Luck. He may be getting all the hype, but Luck may not even be the best quarterback in his own conference. Barkley has shown in recent weeks that he has the skills to make an impact at the next level, and for teams missing out on the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, there is some consolation to be found. Against the “champions” of the Pac 12 South, Barkley completed 35 of 42 passes for 423 and six touchdowns. His favorite targets, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, combined for 25 grabs and more than 300 yards. Barkley has taken a huge leap forward in his development, and the junior will have a decision to make at the end of the year. Does he stay, or does he go?||Patrick Edwards, WR- Houston: Case Keenum has deservedly received many accolades during his record-breaking season in Houston. But without Edwards catching those passes, Keenum’s aerial attack would be much less potent. The diminutive senior was huge in the Cougars’ biggest game to date, catching eight passes against Tulsa for 181 yards — with four of those receptions going over the goal line for six points. What might be more amazing is that it wasn’t even a season high in either category (he put up 318 yards and 5 touchdowns against Rice earlier this year). As much as Keenum’s sixth season of eligibility drove Houston to BCS contention and a perfect 12-0 record, another senior at wideout has been an equally vital catalyst for Kevin Sumlin’s offense..|