By Jim Weber
Saturday weeded out BCS title pretenders in a hurry.
Gone from the title-game hunt are Oklahoma, USC, Mississippi State, Oregon State and, likely, Florida. Oklahoma and USC already were national title long shots with one loss apiece before Saturday, and no one was taking Mississippi State or Oregon State seriously to play in Miami. As for Florida, the Gators’ feeble passing attack finally did them in.
So who are the remaining contenders? We’re down to a final five of Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame and LSU. And that’s where things get murky. While people pretty much have penciled Alabama into its third BCS title game in four years, it’s really hard to tell who will emerge between the Ducks, Wildcats and Fighting Irish.
Based on the remaining schedules of Kansas State (vs. Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, vs. Texas), Oregon (at USC, at Cal, vs. Stanford, at Oregon State, probable Pac-12 Championship Game) and Notre Dame (vs. Pitt, at Boston College, vs. Wake Forest, at USC), it appears likely that at least two will emerge undefeated, which sadly will result in BCS chaos once again.
Kansas State has the easiest road to an undefeated season and Oregon has the hardest, but that could end up being good news for the Ducks. Because if all three of these teams win out, you’d have to think Oregon will be headed to South Beach based on the strength of its schedule.
One can only hope this all gets sorted out on the field like it should, but it certainly appears that we could end up with four undefeated teams deserving of a chance to play for a national title. Too bad the four-team college football playoff doesn’t start for another two years.
HOT SEATS ABLAZE: This Saturday also may have been the final nail in the coffin for several BCS head coaches. Kentucky’s Joker Phillips, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley, Boston College’s Frank Spaziani, Auburn’s Gene Chizik, Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, Cal’s Jeff Tedford, USF’s Skip Holtz and Colorado’s Jon Embree may be past the point of no return in keeping their jobs. While Chizik is just two seasons removed from a national title, the 63-21 loss to Texas A&M at home was a complete embarrassment. If it weren’t for an overtime victory over Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn would now be 0-8.
SORROW FOR LATTIMORE: If you missed seeing South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore suffer a gruesome leg injury on Saturday, my recommendation is to avoid seeing it forever. It’s the most disgusting college football injury I’ve seen, right alongside Willis McGahee’s injury in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl and Tyrone Prothro’s broken leg in 2005. An early report stated that Lattimore broke his femur and patella and tore four ligaments in his right knee (ACL, MCL, PCL and LCL) but Steve Spurrier said on Sunday that Lattimore instead dislocated his knee and injured several ligaments, which is much better news for Lattimore’s future. It appears they are shooting for a return to the field in 2014. We can only hope Lattimore eventually recovers like McGahee did and has a long career ahead of him in the NFL.
KIFFIN BLOWS IT: Maybe Lane Kiffin should spend less time on silly tricks like his players switching jerseys to fool the opposition and more time on actual coaching. USC blew a 28-13 lead to Arizona because of turnovers, penalties and questionable play-calling and is staring a third loss straight in the face with Oregon coming to Los Angeles on Saturday. With all the talk before the season about USC winning the national title and Matt Barkley clutching the Heisman, this fall has been a massive disappointment and could end in the Alamo Bowl. That’s not exactly what the Trojans had in mind coming off a two-year bowl ban.
URBAN’S MAGIC: Remember those people who said Urban Meyer owed all of his success to Tim Tebow? Those people are awfully quiet now. Meyer has taken an Ohio State team that had a losing record last fall and is now 9-0 after Saturday’s 35-23 win over Penn State. It hasn’t always been pretty (see: Purdue game) but the Buckeyes are now three winnable games (vs. Illinois, at Wisconsin, vs. Michigan) away from an undefeated season in Year One of the Urban Meyer era. If Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith had banned the Buckeyes from last season’s Gator Bowl, OSU likely wouldn’t have been banned from a bowl this season by the NCAA and have Buck Nuts dreaming of a national title.
REMEMBER US? Don’t look now, but Boise State is 7-1 and likely will land in another BCS bowl if it can win out. The remaining schedule is very manageable (vs. San Diego State, at Hawaii, vs. Colorado State, at Nevada) and the Broncos (courtesy of the shoddy Big Ten) are likely to automatically qualify if they finish in the BCS top 16. Chalk this up as another BCS flaw, as Boise is solid but nowhere close to the level of Georgia or South Carolina, which might be left out of the BCS.
WINLESS AND HOPELESS: There are only two teams in the FBS left without a win this season: UMass (0-8) and Southern Miss (0-8). The Minutemen at least can use the excuse that it’s their first season in the FBS. But, averaging a nation-worst 11.9 points per game, they shouldn’t be allowed to share the same stadium with the New England Patriots. As for the Golden Eagles, they’ve gone from a 12-win team to a winless one in the span of one season under new head coach Ellis Johnson. His first season in Hattiesburg could also be his last.
Top games: Week 10
5. Oklahoma State vs. No. 3 Kansas State: If Cowboys QB J.W. Walsh wasn’t out for the season with a knee injury, this could have been a real shootout. The Pokes are still tough but Kansas State should remain undefeated.
4. No. 20 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Mississippi State: Kevin Sumlin’s dream first season in College Station would reach another level with a road win in Starkville.
3. No. 23 Texas vs. No. 14 Texas Tech: The Red Raiders will be licking their wounds after a blowout loss to K-State, while Texas is lucky to have escaped Kansas with a win.
2. No. 4 Oregon vs. 9 USC: Instead of playing for a national championship, the Trojans are just trying to avoid heading to the Alamo Bowl for the holidays. And given the way USC’s defense played against Arizona, Oregon could win big.
1. No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 LSU: The Crimson Tide look like an unstoppable freight train after a 38-7 dismantling of Mississippi State, but winning a night game at Tiger Stadium is never easy. And LSU fans are always especially jacked up when Public Enemy No. 1 Nick Saban comes back to town.
Photo credits: US Presswire