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The BCS logjam started to break
The odds were long for Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame to all finish unbeaten, and there was little shot for Louisville to make a big push for a BCS championship slot by going 12-0. Syracuse took the Cardinals out of the equation early with a 45-26 blowout to throw the Big East race into a tailspin, but Texas A&M’s 29-24 win over Alabama was the curveball needed to shake up the pecking order up top. With Kansas State easily getting by TCU and Oregon blowing away Cal in the second half, the spotlight will be on those two with their BCS fate seemingly in their own hands.
Notre Dame, despite the easy win over Boston College, is still fighting an uphill battle, but with the Alabama loss the chance is now there to potentially slip into the BCS top two with a loss by the Ducks or the Wildcats. And now the debate will begin – can there really be a true national championship without an SEC team involved? All of a sudden, it became possible thanks to …
The Heisman race just got more interesting
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel came up with a legendary performance to beat Alabama and jump head first into the Heisman chase. Not only did he complete 24-of-31 passes for 253 yards and two scores, to go along with 92 rushing yards, but he did it with poise and panache on the national stage. While last week’s new Heisman face in the mix, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, was banged up and held by California to 65 yards on 20 carries, quarterback Marcus Mariota went off. The redshirt freshman overcame a shoulder problem to complete 27-of-34 passes for 377 yards and six touchdowns in the win.
Meanwhile, despite not being all that flashy, Collin Klein still might have the Heisman to lose. The Kansas State star was effective after reportedly suffering a concussion last week, completing 12-of-21 passes for 145 yards and a pick to go along with 50 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the win over TCU.
Texas Tech head coaches – past and present
It’s going to be the hot topic all week – boorish coaching behavior. Following a mix-up in personnel, current Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville appeared to go to grab graduate assistant Kevin Oliver by the shoulder, but instead hit him on the side of the head knocking off his headphones and hat. Meanwhile, Washington State head coach and former Texas Tech head man Mike Leach has been under fire for accusations by former Cougar star receiver Marquess Wilson of using belittling, intimidating and humiliating tactics to try to motivate the team. Washington State lost to UCLA to take the current losing streak up to seven games, while Texas Tech stopped its two-game slit with a double-overtime win over Kansas.
The miracles in Ann Arbor and Gainesville
With the ball on its own 38, down 31-28 with 18 seconds to play, and with hopes of realistically staying alive in the hunt for the Big Ten title quickly fading, Michigan needed something special against Northwestern. Quarterback Devin Gardner – subbing for an injured Denard Robinson – heaved up a prayer down the field, which was tipped by a Northwestern defender and batted up in the air and grabbed by Michigan’s Roy Roundtree for an improbable 53-yard catch. Kicker Brandon Gibbons sent the game into overtime with a 26-yard field goal, and the Wolverines took over from there with Gardner running in for a score and the defense stuffing the final Wildcat drive.
Florida is still shooting for an at-large BCS bid, and if the planets align correctly, possibly a shot at the BCS championship. However, Louisiana-Lafayette wasn’t making it easy with a 29-13 lead late in the fourth quarter. Stepping in for an injured Jeff Driskel – who left with an ankle injury – Jacoby Brissett threw a three-yard touchdown pass with 1:42 to play to help tie the game at 20. Seemingly content for overtime, the Ragin’ Cajuns stalled and attempted to punt the ball away, but Florida got in, blocked the kick, and Jelani Jenkins scooped it and scored for a 36-yard touchdown with two seconds to play.
The Pac-12 finishing kick
It’s a light slate of big games next week, but the focus will be squarely on the Pac-12 for two big matchups with BCS implications. A red-hot UCLA is on a four-game winning streak scoring 44 points or more in each of its last three games following a 44-36 victory over Washington State, while USC overcame the loss to Oregon with a decisive win over Arizona State. Next week’s USC-UCLA winner will represent the South in the Pac-12 championship. Meanwhile, Oregon’s pasting of California and Stanford’s strong win over Oregon State sets up a showdown next week in Eugene. A win by the Ducks would give them a second-straight North title, but a loss would mean the Cardinal would have a shot to play for the Pac-12 title by beating UCLA on Thanksgiving weekend.