Saturday, November 17

Aftershocks from Week 12

I'll admit, I got a bit bored this afternoon watching games, so I find it a little odd that I'm writing about a week where two national title contenders went down to unranked teams when my first thought is "this week sucked" .... but there you go. (That couldn't have been any more of a run-on sentence had I tried!) That's what it felt like to me.

Oregon and Oklahoma actually have a lot in common right now - and I bet they're both going to hate me for that. But think about it: both lost their starting QB in a game on the road to an unranked team early. Both opposing teams used that as a spark to stake out big early leads and then held on while the national title contender struggled to come back. Were they both huge upsets? Absolutely - but they weren't the most exciting games known to man. The upshot is that LSU still has a great shot of facing a Big 12 team in the title game (provided, of course, they win out), but it won't be the Sooners.

Big winners of the week: West Virginia, Arizona State, and Ohio State, in that order. WVU put itself in great position to snag the #2 voters' spot if the Big 12 Deathtrap (more on that in a minute) comes to pass. Arizona State would probably sit at 4/4/2 if that happened, so they may need a little help; if they can win big over USC that'll do wonders. Ohio State would be 3/3/3. I don't know how the spread will break down, but what will help ASU and WVU is that they play games well after Ohio State does; it may be the most recent game that determines voters' minds.

Big losers of the week: Florida, Penn State, Iowa, and those guys I already mentioned. Georgia's win over Kentucky eliminated the slim chance the Gators had of going to the SEC Championship game; I don't think anyone was really counting on it, but it was a disappointment. They can still finish 2nd in the conference with a Tennessee loss, though. Penn State inexplicably blew a 10-point 4th quarter lead to Michigan State; now the Spartans are bowl-eligible and the Nittany Lions are tied for 5th in the Big 10. Their partner at 5th, Iowa, may not even get to a bowl after their loss to Western Michigan - but they are 6-6. Sun Bowl, anyone?

I've already covered a lot of the game notes in my (ten thousand) previous posts, so I don't need to do that again. Some games and thoughts that I missed:

- Washington isn't going anywhere this season, but a 34-23 win over Cal hurt their bowl chances a bit. I don't know what happened to this team since the beginning of the season. A quick check of their stats shows me three things: 1) they're not stopping the run anymore, 2) they aren't passing as well as they were at the beginning of the year, and 3) they can't force turnovers. Not a good combo.

- Hawaii and Boise State continue on their path to the Biggest Clash Nobody Cares About. We'll see a 10-0 and 10-1 team face off this Friday for ...nothing, really. Hawaii might sneak into a BCS bowl, but don't bet your life on that. If they win on Friday, they're UConn's biggest fans, as they can still knock West Virginia out of the BCS.

- I never thought I'd say this, but the Sun Belt is actually kind of going places - and not just as the doormat. Their bad teams are still the worst in the country, but Troy? Not too shabby. FAU has a win over Minnesota (bad team, but still a BCS team) and UL-Monroe has an inexplicable win over Alabama. Before you say "who cares?", consider this: Troy's only losses this year are to teams that were ranked at the time they played. Even MTSU's subpar season included a road win over Memphis and a tight loss at Virginia. Don't look now, but they could be solid in a few years, provided all those teams stay in the Sun Belt.

- I really haven't paid a lot of attention to the MWC, but I'm not missing much. BYU has pretty much wrapped the league up, although we could see something screwy happen if they blow their last two games. Don't lose any sleep over that.

- Don't look now, but Texas - warts and all - has a mathematical chance of going to the Big 12 title game. It's more possible than you think at first glance; we don't know what Crawford's status is for next week and DeMarco Murray - who was Oklahoma's MVP of the game - is injured as well. They should be fine, but if not, that could put a serious crimp in everyone's plans except for Missouri and Kansas. They would love facing Texas, but if Texas were to win....

Oh, and the Big 12 deathtrap: with the Oklahoma loss, the worst-case scenario for the Big 12 at this point is Oklahoma winning the title. In that scenario, both Kansas and Missouri suffer a loss which leaves it up to ...well, controversy. It'd be a pick one between West Virginia, Ohio State, and Arizona State. I'll let James make that decision, as I don't want to touch it until I absolutely have to.