College Football Recap- Week 8

Les Miles may have officially lost his mind Saturday night. Nevertheless, another in a series of incredibly ballsy calls resulted again in an LSU victory and kept the Tigers’ national title hopes very much alive. For those that didn’t stay up to see the conclusion, this might have been the best game of the year so far. LSU battled back from a 17-7 halftime deficit to take a 23-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Auburn put together a strong drive on their next possession and scored the go-ahead touchdown with two mintues left in the game. LSU benefited from a very, very generous spot on 3rd and long during their first drive, but almost certainly would have converted on 4th down and short, right? Auburn didn’t challenge the spot, which was probably a big mistake. LSU was able to drive the football to the Auburn 22, had a timeout left and a 3rd down play coming up. Common sense would usually dictate a running play to center the ball for a potential game-winning and season saving field goal.

Oddly, the clock kept running. LSU lined up to run another play. Did they know that the clock was running? It was amazing how the announcers basically ignored this very unusual development. 15 seconds, 14 seconds, 13 seconds…they still haven’t snapped the ball yet! What are they doing? They’re going to run out of time and lose the game! Then, the unthinkable unfolded. Matt Flynn dropped back and threw a perfect pass to an incredibly well-covered Demetrius Byrd in the end zone for the winning touchdown as time essentially expired. Looking back, if the pass was immediately incomplete, LSU might have been able to get a second or two back on the clock after a review, but had the pass been bobbled, tipped (or heaven forbid-intercepted!), it would have meant a season destroying loss and a lot of questions for Miles. In the end, it worked out, and Miles showed an unprecedented amount of confidence in his offense (albeit at the expense of showing a complete lack of confidence in his field goal kicker Colt David, who had already made three kicks earlier in the game). I loved it, but still found the decision to be completely wacko, which is probably why it worked so well. No one expects anyone to shoot for the end zone when a field goal will win the game.

Meanwhile, Rutgers knocked off South Florida at home in another great football game Thursday night, keeping the Scarlet Knights in the hunt for a BCS berth. South Florida’s cinderella hopes for a national championship game are gone now, but that win over Auburn is starting to look better and better, and this is not a team that should be taken lightly. Kansas and Missouri kept rolling as well in what is turning into a surprisingly exciting Big 12 North race. After Oklahoma’s struggles Saturday with 1-6 Iowa State, they’ll need to step it up if they hope to beat either of these hot teams in the Big 12 championship.

In other SEC action, Florida’s offense proved superior in a battle of Heisman candidates  in a 45-37 win over Kentucky. Both Tebow and Woodson through in amazing performances and threw for nine touchdowns between them. They certainly have to be considered the front-runners in the Heisman race after this weekend. Alabama football is officially back as they thrashed a defenseless Tennessee squad 41-17, and South Carolina finally showed their true colors in losing to Vanderbilt at home. In the Pac-10, California has more people scratching their heads as they lost a second straight game, this time against the most bipolar team in the nation, UCLA.

Ohio State remains the #1 team in the nation after holding on for a 24-17 victory over Michigan State. Things are finally going to get tough for the Buckeyes, who have surprised no one by winning all eight of their impossibly easy games. Steve Spurrier’s post-game comments about how Vanderbilt would be #1 in the BCS if they had played Ohio State’s schedule certainly got a laugh out of me. Anyway, the point is that a lot of these undefeated teams seem to be moving up by default, and by the end of the season I imagine the top ten picture is going to look very much different that it currently does after all schedules are played out in their entirety. The Buckeyes get Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan to end the season.

GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK:

#3 Boston College at #5 Virginia Tech, 6:30 CST ESPN, Thursday: The second consecutive Thursday night contest with championship implications will be Boston College’s first real challenge of the season. Virginia Tech is finally starting to play like the team that many expected to see, and will be a very tough foe at home on a Thursday. Boston College has played well, but anticipate that Matt Ryan won’t have as much success against a stout Hokie defense.

#9 West Virginia at #21 Rutgers, 11:00 AM, ABC: The Scarlet Knights get another important Big East battle at home. This is the game that I expected to decide the Big East champion and it still very well may.

#7 USC at #15 Oregon, 2:00: Here are two one-loss Pac-10 teams that are both still kicking themselves for losing home games that they probably should have won. Each team still has life in the title hunt, but this game will eliminate one and likely determine the conference champion. I’m still not completely sold on Oregon’s defense, but they’ll have a chance to prove me wrong against a USC offense that appears to be clicking again.

#6 Florida at #25 Georgia, 2:30 CBS: The world’s greatest outdoor cocktail party figures to be a lopsided affair if the Bulldogs don’t find some answers on defense in a hurry. Florida remains the best two loss team in the country by a considerable margin.

#18 South Carolina at #24 Tennessee, 6:45 ESPN: Two middle of the pack SEC teams will try to turn things around after painful losses last weekend.

#1 Ohio State at Penn State, 7:00 ABC: The Buckeyes finally get a moderate test after managing their way through an incredibly soft eight games of their schedule. Happy Valley at night will be a huge wake-up call after what the Buckeyes are used to playing, but with one of the toughest defenses in the nation, Ohio State will probably find a way to win here.

#14 California at #11 Arizona State, 9:00: California finds itself in a surprising must-win situation just three weeks after winning a huge game at Oregon and entering the national title conversation. Those hopes are officially gone now after last week’s loss to UCLA, but now they have a chance to salvage the season by winning tough upcoming games against Arizona State and USC. This road test will be the first challenge, as the Sun Devils look to stay undefeated and work their way into the national title debate. They still face Oregon and USC after the Bears come to town.

TOP 25 OF THE MATTY

  1. Ohio State (8-0)
  2. LSU (7-1)
  3. Boston College (7-0)
  4. Oklahoma (6-1)
  5. Virginia Tech (6-1)
  6. Florida (5-2)
  7. USC (6-1)
  8. South Florida (6-1)
  9. West Virginia (6-1)
  10. Hawaii (10-0)
  11. Arizona State (7-0)
  12. Kansas (7-0)
  13. Missouri (6-1)
  14. California (5-2)
  15. Oregon (6-1)
  16. Auburn (5-3)
  17. Michigan (6-2)
  18. South Carolina (6-2)
  19. Kentucky (6-2)
  20. Alabama (6-2)
  21. Rutgers (5-2)
  22. Virginia (7-1)
  23. Texas (6-2)
  24. Tennessee (4-3)
  25. Georgia (5-2)

HEISMAN WATCH:

  1. Tim Tebow, Florida
  2. Andre Woodson, Kentucky
  3. Matt Ryan, Boston College
  4. Mike Hart, Michigan
  5. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
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