College Football Overtime (cont.)
My reaction to the latest AP and Coaches' polls:
Overrated: Houston (AP: No. 11, Coaches': No. 10)
Sorry to be a party pooper, but this feels a lot like Hawaii in 2007, rising by default while playing a dismal schedule. I'd argue No. 12 Michigan State (8-2) has accomplished more.
Underrated: USC (AP: No. 18, Coaches': Ineligible)
The Trojans (8-2) just keep getting better. Since losing to Stanford in triple overtime, they've demolished Colorado (42-17) and Washington (40-17) behind an underrated defense.
Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games:
Title game: LSU vs. Oklahoma State
Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Stanford
Sugar: Alabama vs. Houston
Orange: Clemson vs. Cincinnati
So if Houston winds up in the BCS, where will it play? The Fiesta Bowl would have first choice, but while it's hosted Utah, Boise State and TCU in recent years, it's likely to go for the highest-ranked team available. Stanford, if it wins out, would be that team. The Sugar Bowl would then have a wholly unappealing choice between the Cougars, who to this point have yet to capture the nation's attention (that might change when GameDay visits this week), or the Big East champion, which is Cincinnati in this projection. Since the Sugar just hosted the Bearcats two years ago, Houston would be the choice, pitting the Cougars against an SEC foe. It would be the Sugar's third such matchup in five years (Georgia-Hawaii in 2008 and Alabama-Utah in '09).
As for the Orange Bowl, it must surely be rooting for Clemson to emerge as ACC champ over Virginia Tech, which has played there three times in four years and drawn headlines annually for how much money it's lost on unsold tickets. Meanwhile, Oklahoma would hardly be thrilled with its fourth trip to Glendale in six years, which is why the Big 12-affiliated Fiesta must be pulling for Oklahoma State to beat the Sooners and for 8-2 Kansas State to win out.
As expected, it appears Jordan Jefferson has regained his role as No. 1 LSU's primary quarterback. The formerly suspended senior started and accounted for 188 yards in the Tigers' 42-9 win over Western Kentucky, a game LSU led only 14-7 at the half. Jarrett Lee did not make an appearance until the fourth quarter. "We thought we might go with Lee a little earlier than that, but Western Kentucky kind of proved to throw some wrinkles at us that we didn't necessarily anticipate," said Les Miles.
Saturday was a good day for Wisconsin (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten). The Badgers' 42-13 win over Minnesota coupled with Nebraska's win over Penn State and Purdue's upset of Ohio State means Bret Bielma's team regained control of its destiny in the Big Ten's Leaders Division. The Badgers stand a game behind the Nittany Lions but face them Nov. 26. Quarterback Russell Wilson was nearly perfect (16-of-17), while running back Montee Ball broke a Big Ten record with his 27th touchdown.
The Legends side of the conference is more clear-cut: Michigan State (8-2, 5-1) remains alone in first following a 37-21 win at Iowa and has a favorable remaining schedule against Indiana (1-9) and Northwestern (5-5). Meanwhile, the winner of Saturday's Nebraska-Michigan game could conceivably finish 10-2 but not reach the conference title game, making it very appealing for a BCS berth. The Wolverines' defense shut down Illinois 31-14, handing the Illini (6-4) their fourth straight loss.
Barring a collapse next week against Kentucky, No. 13 Georgia (8-2) is heading to the SEC championship game for the first time in six years, and it will do so with some serious momentum. The Dawgs annihilated Auburn (6-4) 45-7 on Saturday, thanks to quarterback Aaron Murray's finest performance to date (14-of-18 for 224 yards and four touchdowns). Georgia outgained the defending national champs 528-195. "Hopefully we made a statement with this game," said safety Bacarri Rambo.
Those still expecting Clemson to eventually "Clemson" itself will just have to keep waiting. The seventh-ranked Tigers (9-1) survived a scare from Wake Forest (5-5) to win 31-28 despite quarterback Tajh Boyd throwing two interceptions. In the final seconds, Boyd completed a 40-yard pass to Adam Humphries to set up Chandler Catanzaro's game-winning 43-yard field goal, which clinched the ACC Atlantic. "We're the best in the division," said coach Dabo Swinney, "But we've got other goals."
Meanwhile, No. 9 Virginia Tech (9-1, 5-1 ACC) took control of the Coastal side with its 37-26 win over Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) last Thursday. Hokies running back David Wilson had a career-high 175 yards, his ninth 100-yard game this season. He broke 16 tackles to gain 133 yards after contact. The game turned, however, when Jackets linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu punched Logan Thomas on a third-and-19 sack in the third quarter. Given new life, the Hokies drove for a go-ahead score.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more valuable player to his team than Kansas State's Collin Klein. The quarterback threw for 281 yards, rushed for 103 and accounted for six touchdowns as the Wildcats (8-2) outlasted Texas A&M, 53-50 in four overtimes. No. 16 K-State has now won three games by three points or less and took No. 2 Oklahoma State to the wire last week. "There were some big ups and downs [Saturday]," said Klein, "but there have been some big ups and downs all year."
It doesn't get stranger than the Pac-12 South where, on Saturday, Washington State (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) stunned Arizona State (6-4, 4-3), 37-27, behind 494 yards and four touchdowns from freshman quarterback Connor Halliday. He hadn't played since Week 2. Meanwhile, Utah (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) stomped UCLA, 31-6. With USC ineligible, either UCLA, ASU or Utah will reach the Pac-12 title game, and the Bruins still hold the tiebreaker. A 6-6 division champ is not out of the question.
Missouri's 17-5 upset of Texas (6-3) showed just how dependent the Longhorns had become on their running game. Freshmen tailbacks Malcolm Brown (turf toe) and Joe Bergeron (hamstring) were already out, and senior Fozzy Whitaker went down with a season-ending knee injury. As a result, the 'Horns managed just 76 rushing yards a week after putting up 441 on Kansas. The Tigers (5-5) feel their pain: Star rusher Henry Josey suffered a season-ending knee injury in the game as well.
West Virginia knocked off Cincinnati on Saturday, 24-21, when WVU's Eain Smith blocked Bearcats kicker Tony Miliano's 31-yard attempt with no time remaining. However, with Pittsburgh's subsequent win over Louisville, now-unranked Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1) remains alone in first in the Big East, a half-game above four other teams. Bearcats quarterback Zach Collaros suffered a season-ending ankle injury, so their BCS hopes now ride on the arm of sophomore Munchie Legaux.
Embattled Kansas coach Turner Gill cannot catch a break. Even after Baylor's Robert Griffin III threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns to erase a 24-3 deficit, the Jayhawks (2-8) still had a chance to win, scoring a touchdown in overtime to answer Baylor's, at which point Gill -- like his former coach Tom Osborne in the 1984 Orange Bowl -- chose to go for two. And just like then-Nebraska quarterback Gill against Miami, KU quarterback Jordan Webb's two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
Following a 49-7 rout by No. 6 Arkansas that sent the Vols to their first 0-6 SEC start, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley had this to say: "This is like we're in advanced school, football school of beatdown learning."
Congratulations are in order to Colorado (2-9) for its first Pac-12 win (48-29 over Arizona) and to New Mexico for its first win in more than a year (21-14 over UNLV).
Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu predicted before the season he'd catch 100 passes. He's already up to 94, surpassing Larry Fitzgerald's Big East record of 92.
Toledo scored 60 and 66, points, respectively, in its past two games. Thankfully, by holding Western Michigan to 63 last Tuesday, it came away with a split.