By Jim Weber
Judging by the way college football fans outside the south reacted in sheer euphoria to No. 1 Alabama’s 29-24 loss to No. 15 Texas A&M on Saturday, you would think a ruthless dictator had just been removed from power.
That’s because, for fans outside the Southeastern Conference, the conference’s six straight BCS titles and endless chants of “S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!” felt like a tyranny that would never end. Certainly not this year, with an Alabama team that people compared to an NFL squad and looked destined to win its third national title in four years.
And yet, with Alabama’s loss and No. 2 Kansas State, No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Notre Dame all still undefeated, there is a distinct possibility that the SEC will be left out of the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 in Miami, unless two of those teams lose.
But don’t start writing the SEC’s eulogy yet.
The Wildcats (at Baylor, vs. No. 17 Texas), Ducks (vs. No. 14 Stanford, at No. 11 Oregon State, Pac-12 Championship Game) and Irish (vs. Wake Forest, at No. 19 USC) all have at least one huge hurdle to an undefeated season and a ticket to South Beach. And never underestimate the pressure of playing with a spot in the national title game on the line.
Look no further than 2008, which saw West Virginia and Missouri both choke in the final week of the season to allow a two-loss LSU team back into the BCS title game and eventually win the conference’s second straight national title.
So while college football fans are dancing on the SEC’s grave, don’t be surprised if Alabama wins its final three games and still ends up in Miami.
JOHNNY BE GOOD: A freshman has never won the Heisman Trophy but Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel is sure making a case. His 345 total yards and two touchdowns against the best defense in the country was the stuff of legends and the Heisman frontrunner, Kansas State QB Collin Klein, has seen his momentum slow down the last two weeks. If Kansas State goes undefeated, the bronze statue is still Klein’s. But if K-State loses to Texas in the season finale, “Johnny Football” could end up being “Johnny Heisman.”
TENNESSEE-YA: Any hope Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley had for keeping his job vanished on Saturday in a 51-48 quadruple overtime loss to Missouri. In fact, Dooley will be lucky to survive Monday without getting a pink slip. Yes, he took over a Volunteers program that was in chaos when Lane Kiffin bolted for USC in January of 2010. But in his third year on the job, Dooley has a total of four SEC wins and zero this year. In comparison, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin already has five in his first year with the Aggies.
LEACH UNDER FIRE: All hell has broken out in Pullman, Wash. under Washington State head coach Mike Leach. Star WR Marquess Wilson not only quit the team last week, now he has accused Leach and his staff of verbal and physical abuse. That’s not good for a coach who was fired at his last job for the same allegations. Wazzu athletic director Bill Moos is standing firmly behind Leach for now, but Moos better have his fingers crossed that other players don’t come forward like Wilson and turn the Cougars’ awful 2-8 season into an even bigger nightmare.
SLAPGATE: Speaking of poor coaching behavior, current Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville is facing his own criticism for slapping the hat and headset off offensive graduate assistant Kevin Oliver during the third quarter of Tech’s eventual 41-34 overtime victory over Kansas. Making matters even worse, Tuberville said after the game that he was just trying to grab Oliver to get him off the field – which looks like complete BS if you watch the video. If Tuberville won’t apologize, Texas Tech should move quickly to publicly reprimand its coach.
BIG LEAST: Louisville’s 45-26 blowout loss to Syracuse on Saturday had to make new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco cringe. Already seen as the weakest link among the BCS conferences by far, the conference stands a good chance of being humiliated in a BCS bowl for the third time in four years. The Cardinals are currently projected to play No. 10 Florida State in the Orange Bowl, where they would likely be at least three touchdown underdogs.
DEFENSE OPTIONAL: People have repeatedly talked about how defense in college football is dead this fall and Saturday was further proof of that. Georgia Tech and North Carolina combined for an ACC record 118 points, Louisiana Tech and Texas State combined for 117 points and Arizona RB Ka’Deem Carey rushed for a Pac-12 record 366 yards vs. Colorado. Things have gotten so ridiculous that when you watch college scores scroll across the bottom your television screen, it’s hard to keep track of which ones are for college football and which are for college basketball.
Week 12: Top games
5. No. 2 Kansas State vs. Baylor: The Bears are currently 1-5 in the Big 12 but they can definitely score. K-State is coming off an unimpressive offensive showing vs. TCU.
4. No. 22 Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State: This will definitely be a shootout, as the country’s first (Texas Tech) and fourth (Oklahoma State) passing offenses square off in Stillwater.
3. Ohio State vs. Wisconsin: Ohio State always has a tough time in Madison and the Badgers are regaining their 2011 form just in time for a push to UW’s third straight Rose Bowl.
2. No. 19 USC vs. No. 18 UCLA: UCLA has lost five straight to USC and 12 of the last 13. A dream first season under head coach Jim L. Mora would be complete with a victory over the Trojans.
1. No. 14 Stanford vs. No. 3 Oregon: Oregon’s offense looks completely unstoppable but Stanford has a great defense and a knack for ruining national title dreams.