College Football- Week 13 Recap, Updated Scenario Analysis

The game of the century between top ranked Ohio State and second ranked Michigan certainly lived up to its billing. The Buckeyes won narrowly in a surprisingly high-scoring battle that could have gone either way had it not been for a gutsy (and correct) roughing the quarterback call on the Wolverines late in the game. You have to give Michigan a ton of credit for the way they came out in the second half. The Buckeyes led 28-14 at the half, and looked to blow the game wide open on the opening possession of the second half. But the Michigan defense stepped up and got a stop, and the offense scored quickly to make it a game again. It was everything a college football fan could have hoped for, including big plays, intensity, and importance. In the end, the better team won, but the 42-39 score is indicative of how close together they really are in terms of talent. Having said that, it is still important to point out that Michigan benefited from some silly Ohio State turnovers that they would be unlikely to see again if the teams do indeed meet for the title. Of course, the margin of loss by Michigan was impressive enough that the rematch talk has already begun. Last week, I was adamantly against the idea, but the way that this season is looking to shake out, it may be the only option that makes any sense. Here is a recap of how the contenders fared this weekend and what scenarios they need to have happen in order to get to the championship game against Ohio State:

  • USC proved me wrong and won a hard fought game against California with defense. In somewhat peculiar fashion for the Pac-10, this was really a defensive struggle, tied 9-9 coming into the fourth quarter. But the Trojans bore down hard defensively, and a couple of touchdowns in the 4th sealed the deal. It still looks to me that if USC can beat Notre Dame and UCLA, they will be in the championship game. Those wins, in addition to wins over Arkansas, Nebraska, California and Oregon make their resume a bit more impressive than an arguably more talented Michigan team.
  • Notre Dame was impressive as expected against a weak Army team, but Michigan’s loss should make it impossible for the Irish to make the championship. Even with a win over USC, it would be tough to justify putting Notre Dame ahead of Michigan after they way the Wolverines handled them earlier this season.  
  • Arkansas got a win over Mississippi State but it could have been a bit more impressive. The Razorbacks have a tough case because of the early season loss to USC. But a one-loss SEC champion deserves consideration. If Arkansas can win at LSU, beat Florida in the championship game, and Notre Dame beats USC, then the Razorbacks should be the team to go.
  • Florida essentially had the week off as they routed Western Carolina by more than sixty points. Strong wins over Auburn, LSU and Tennessee merit consideration, especially if the Gators can get past a game against Florida State that they can’t overlook and then beat Arkansas in the SEC championship. Again, Michigan may appear to be a better team, but I can’t see justifying a rematch if there is a one loss champion in a stronger SEC conference. Florida needs Notre Dame to beat USC, and needs to win its final games against Florida State and Arkansas to  earn a chance to play for the title.
  • Rutgers saw its dream season come to an end as they were upset handily by a well-prepared Cincinnati team, and BCS officials breathed a huge sigh of relief. At this point, I can’t see putting any of the one loss Big East schools into the championship ahead of Michigan. The Scarlet Knights can still earn the BCS berth from the Big East though, but they’ll have a tough time at West Virginia.
  • For Michigan, it appears that they will have a claim regardless of these scenarios. To be sure, they’ll need this likely scenario to occur and common sense to prevail: Notre Dame beats USC, LSU beats Arkansas, Arkansas beats Florida.

THE TOP 25 OF THE MATTY

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

HEISMAN WATCH:

  1. Troy Smith, Ohio State (locked it up on Saturday)
  2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
  3. Mike Hart, Michigan
  4. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
  5. Steve Slaton, West Virginia
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