College Football: Week 12 Recap with National Championship Analysis

What a wild weekend of college football we witnessed. The national title picture was much clearer a week ago than it is now. For a change of format, first I will go over exactly what happened, and then I’ll give you my thoughts on how the title picture sits presently.

  • All Louisville had to do was beat Rutgers on the road, and the championship game looked to be pretty much set. The Scarlet Knights, however, had no intention on making things that easy on the BCS, and scored 21 unanswered points to pull off the shocking upset and remain undefeated. It was a gutsy effort and an amazing defensive achievement, as Rutgers held Louisville scoreless in the second half. The Scarlet Knights were able to chip away at the lead throughout the second half, and finally one it on a second chance field goal with eight seconds left to play. It was the biggest win in school history, and keeps Rutgers in the national title debate, if only as a whisper. Whatever the implications, this was certainly one of the top three most entertaining games of the year so far.
  • The one loss teams had reason to celebrate Thursday night after Louisville’s loss essentially blew the door to the second national title spot wide open. However, by the time Saturday night was over, about half of them no longer had anything to be excited about. Auburn was the first victim, as they were trounced at home by a Georgia team that has been dreadful of late. It was a season-saving win for Georgia, but for the Tigers, it eliminated all hopes at a national title, and cost them a spot in the SEC championship game as well. California looked like a team that might control its own destiny, with a big game at USC looming ahead next Saturday. The Golden Bears may have been looking ahead a bit too quickly, as they blew a 17-3 lead and lost to mediocre Arizona 24-20, ending their title hopes as well. If that wasn’t enough, Texas lost at Kansas State in a wild game after giving up 21 points in three minutes, and forfeited any hope of a repeat.
  • In the day’s most exciting game, Florida survived a major scare in the swamp as visiting South Carolina gave the Gators all they could handle. In fact, Florida didn’t as much win the game as South Carolina lost it. After a blocked field goal and a blocked extra point, the Gamecocks trailed 17-16 with time left for a medium-range field goal. But 6-6 Jarvis Moss got his paw up and onto the kick for his second block of the game, and this time it was game and season-saving. Florida needs to improve offensively and got away with one here, but their title hopes stay alive.
  • Most impressive of the one-loss teams were Arkansas and USC, who cruised to easy victories over ranked opponents Tennessee and Oregon respectively. Both teams have formidable opponents remaining–USC gets California and Notre Dame at home over the next two weeks and Arkansas travels to LSU and then meets Florida in the SEC championship–and probably have the best case of the one-loss teams to sneak into the championship if they can win out.
  • The pain continued for ACC has-beens Miami and Florida State, although Miami’s narrow 14-13 loss at Maryland after a tragic week seems a bit easier to explain than Florida State’s surprising 30-0 thrashing at home at the hands of once lowly Wake Forest. The Seminoles still need a win to make a bowl game, and with Florida still on the schedule, a 6-6 season looks best-case.

Now, what does all of this mean? Well, we know one thing for sure. The winner of the highly anticipated Ohio State-Michigan game will get a chance to play for the title. Filling the other spot will be tricky and likely controversial, but here are my thoughts on how it should play out, and what each team needs to have unfold in order to get into the championship game:

  • I have Notre Dame ranked third on my poll this week by virtue of being the one-loss team who lost to the highest ranked team (Michigan). This should mean that they control their own destiny, but things get tricky if the Irish win out and Ohio State wins next Saturday. In this scenario, Michigan, Notre Dame and the SEC champion all have one loss, and it would be awfully tough to justify putting the Irish in the championship over Michigan. It would appear that the SEC champion benefits most from this scenario. The Irish, in my opinion, need not only to win out, but also need Michigan to upset Ohio State in order to get into the championship.
  • I have USC at fourth this week, although I don’t expect them to win both of their remaining games against Notre Dame and California. If they do, then the Trojans certainly make a strong case, especially if Arkansas beats Florida in the SEC championship, since USC pounded the Razorbacks earlier in the season. If USC can beat Notre Dame and California and Florida loses once more, then they are in.
  • Arkansas is playing the best football in the SEC, and I have them ranked fifth this week. The Razorbacks have tough games remaining at LSU and against Florida for the SEC title, so winning those will certainly help their schedule strength. The loss to USC makes things tricky, however. It isn’t immediately apparent that the Razorbacks would have the edge over Notre Dame either if both win out. Their scenario looks unlikely to play out, as they need to win their remaining games, have Cal beat USC and then have USC beat Notre Dame to be assured of anything. It’s not impossible, but it’s a lot to ask. Conversely, as discussed above, Arkansas might benefit if they can win out, Ohio State beats Michigan and Notre Dame beats USC, as they would then have the edge over Michigan, which would probably put them ahead of Notre Dame too.
  • Florida comes in sixth this week and are pretty lucky to be there after escaping a game they probably should have lost. However, their path to the title game now seems easier than most teams, as they don’t really need much help from anyone else. As long as Florida wins the rest of its games, the Gators should be the team to go. A USC loss and, more distantly, a Notre Dame loss, wouldn’t hurt, but don’t appear absolutely necessary.
  • Rutgers can’t be completely overlooked either, and I have them ranked seventh this week. The Scarlet Knights basically need a miracle to get to the Championship, but it’s not impossible. First and foremost, they’ll need to win the rest of their games, which includes a tough trip to West Virginia. After that, they’ll need USC and Notre Dame to both lose. Then, they’ll need Arkansas to lose to LSU and for Arkansas to then beat Florida in the SEC championship. After all of that, they’ll have to hope that the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State game is beaten badly enough that a rematch is not merited. It’s asking a lot.


  1. Ohio State (11-0)
  2. Michigan (11-0)
  3. Notre Dame (9-1)
  4. USC (8-1)
  5. Arkansas (9-1)
  6. Florida (9-1)
  7. Rutgers (9-0)
  8. Louisville (8-1)
  9. West Virginia (8-1)
  10. Texas (9-2)
  11. Auburn (9-2)
  12. LSU (8-2)
  13. Boise State (10-0)
  14. Oklahoma (8-2)
  15. Wisconsin (10-1)
  16. Georgia Tech (8-2)
  17. Wake Forest (9-1)
  18. Tennessee (7-3)
  19. California (8-2)
  20. Boston College (8-2)
  21. Virginia Tech (8-2)
  22. Nebraska (8-3)
  23. Maryland (8-2)
  24. BYU (8-2)
  25. Clemson (8-3)


  1. Troy Smith, Ohio State
  2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
  3. Ray Rice, Rutgers
  4. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
  5. Mike Hart, Michigan

Next week’s game is so important that I’m going to make a seperate post for my Week 13 Preview later in the week. Check back then!

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