College Football Recap- All Inclusive

I haven’t been able to check in recently regarding the developments in what may be the strangest season of college football that as ever been. Looking ahead to next week, here are some thoughts about what has transpired recently and what it means for the BCS games and ultimately for the national title. In a season that looked destined to end with several teams undefeated due to weak preseason scheduling across the board, we find ourselves with only five teams in Division 1-A with less than two losses, and only one of which is undefeated (Hawaii, with a cupcake schedule and no voice in the national title debate). That’s truly amazing.

The most astounding recent development has been Oregon’s downward progression from being a national title contender to dropping completely off of the BCS radar. I think it’s safe to say that Dennis Dixon was a slightly important part of that team. Is it possible that the Ducks will never score again now that he is out for the season? Their hapless performance in a 16-0 loss at UCLA suggests as much. As for the rest of the Pac-10, Arizona State is finally beginning to show its true colors and USC is going to find its way into another Rose Bowl despite an incredibly disappointing season by any measure. Of course, if UCLA pulls the upset and Arizona beats Arizona State, then guess who wins the Pac-10 tiebreaker? It’s the Bruins. Impossible? Not this year. Do the math.

Another shocker over the weekend was LSU’s epic triple overtime loss at home against a rapidly improving Arkansas team. How much fun as the SEC been to watch this season? There have been so many games that have come down to the last play and enough overtime nailbiters to fill a decade’s worth of highlight reels. I had really been pulling for LSU this season as I truly felt that they had the best team in the nation since Week 1, but in the end the defense just wasn’t strong enough to earn them a spot in the national championship. I still have them rated as the top two-loss team in the nation based on the fact that both of their losses came in triple-overtime, but can no longer make a strong argument to put them in the championship even if they beat Tennessee in the SEC Championship. Very simply, they had their chances to stop Arkansas and couldn’t get it done. The play that will always be remembered was the 4th and 10 play in the second overtime. Arkansas isn’t known for its passing game, but Casey Dick delivered a pass to a wide open receiver after getting all day from his offensive line. That was a big mental breakdown by the LSU secondary, and that’s the one play that cost the Tigers a national title this season.

The game of the weekend was obviously Kansas vs. Missouri, a game that certainly didn’t fly off the page earlier in the season when we looked over the schedules. The implications hanging on the game was so great for that rivalry, one that hasn’t had a meaningful football game in as long as I can remember. Missouri controlled the game from the onset, scoring four touchdowns in the first half but Kansas came clawing back in the second half and had the ball with a chance to win the game with a touchdown. In a stunning turn of events, Missouri forced a safety on the first play from scrimmage with a full-out blitz, effectively ending the game and holding on to win 36-28. The guy sitting behind me had Kansas +7 in a teaser bet. Needless to say he wasn’t thrilled with the Kansas offensive line. That’s maybe the worst thing I’ve ever heard in terms of bad luck spread betting.

Tennessee held on to win at Kentucky in maybe the weekend’s most exciting game and earned themselves a spot in the SEC Championship against LSU. Although it didn’t have any championship implications, how great was it to watch these teams score four touchdowns each in four overtimes and have the game come down to those tricky little two point conversion play calls? I still find it somewhat absurd that the college overtime begins with the offense on the 25 yard line, although the one time that Tennessee had to start from the 40 (after a TERRIBLE unsportsmanlike conduct call) they scored on the first play! Anybody care to tell me the top eight teams in the SEC, in order? There’s not very much separating them. Saturday’s championship game will be worth a watch for sure despite its sudden lack of national title relevance. I won’t be betting against too many SEC teams come bowl time.
So, how about that national title? To me, it seems pretty simple. I’ll start with West Virginia, who is playing the best offensive football in the country right now, and who gets a pretty easy task as 4-7 Pittsburgh comes to town. As many upsets as we’ve seen this season, if the Mountaineers were to lose that one at home with a trip to national championship on the line, that might trump them all. In short, it’s not going to happen, and we’ll be seeing West Virginia playing for a national title for the first time since 1988. Figuring out who they’ll be playing seems pretty cut and dry as well. Missouri gets a rematch against Oklahoma, the only team that’s beaten them this season, in the Big 12 Championship. If they win, they’re in, but I’m not counting on that, as I’m still not sold on the overall quality of their conference victories. They’ve beaten Illinois and Kansas narrowly, but don’t have a true marquee win to their credit. For the sake of making things interesting, let’s say the Sooners beat Missouri as I predict that they will. Then what happens? It’s likely that Ohio State will be the team to step up, despite not having a win over a top 20 team and not having to win a conference championship game. And it’s actually kind of sad if that ends up being the case, that two one-loss teams with pretty weak schedules will get the nod to play for the title when two loss-teams such as LSU, USC, Oklahoma and even Georgia have played tougher schedules and might even be favored against either of those teams. That’s the nature of the college football format, and it’s made for quite a wild and wacky season, but to me, the 2007 season is going to provide the best argument yet for a playoff system.

TOP 50 OF THE MATTY

  1. West Virginia (10-1)
  2. Missouri (11-1)
  3. Ohio State (11-1)
  4. LSU (10-2)
  5. Virginia Tech (10-2)
  6. Oklahoma (10-2)
  7. USC (9-2)
  8. Georgia (10-2)
  9. Kansas (11-1)
  10. Hawaii (11-0)
  11. Boston College (10-2)
  12. Florida (9-3)
  13. Tennessee (9-3)
  14. Oregon (8-3)
  15. Illinois (9-3)
  16. South Florida (9-3)
  17. Auburn (8-4)
  18. Arizona State (9-2)
  19. Texas (9-3)
  20. Wisconsin (9-3)
  21. Cincinnati (9-3)
  22. Arkansas (8-4)
  23. Clemson (9-3)
  24. BYU (9-2)
  25. Michigan (8-4)
  26. Rutgers (7-4)
  27. Virginia (9-3)
  28. Boise State (10-2)
  29. Air Force (9-3)
  30. Kentucky (7-5)
  31. Connecticut (9-3)
  32. Georgia Tech (7-5)
  33. Oregon State (7-4)
  34. Texas Tech (8-4)
  35. Troy (8-3)
  36. Penn State (8-4)
  37. Tulsa (9-3)
  38. California (6-5)
  39. Florida State (7-5)
  40. Michigan State (7-5)
  41. Mississippi State (7-5)
  42. Wake Forest (8-4)
  43. UCF (9-3)
  44. Alabama (6-6)
  45. South Carolina (6-6)
  46. Indiana (7-5)
  47. Houston (8-4)
  48. Oklahoma State (6-6)
  49. Texas A & M (7-5)
  50. Utah (8-4)

HEISMAN BREAKDOWN

It’s really a three man race, only one of which has another game left. But I’ll add on another two just for argument’s sake.

#1: Tim Tebow, Florida: It would be hard to find a more valuable player to his team, or one who his more versatile. Tebow threw for three touchdowns and ran for two in Saturday’s romping over Florida State. That’s tough to top even with so many legitimate claims to this award this season.

#2: Darren McFadden, Arkansas: McFadden is easily in the top two pure college running backs of this decade along with Adrian Peterson, and he proved his worth again in running for 206 yards and three touchdowns against LSU, and even threw a touchdown pass as well.

#3: Chase Daniel, Missouri: Daniel’s stats against Kansas were almost too impossibly-good to be true. He threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns on an incredible 40-49 passing. If he plays like that and beats Oklahoma, he could skyrocket to the top of this chart, and in any event is the main reason that Missouri is this year’s Cinderella story.

#4: Pat White, West Virginia: Flying under the radar for most of the season, White has been the catalyst in West Virginia’s sudden emergence offensively. His dual threat capabilities and lightning quick speed may very well lead the Mountaineers to a national championship and he can’t be overlooked.

#5: Dennis Dixon, Oregon: He has no shot to win now after being knocked out for the season with an ACL injury, but deserves recognition purely due to the difference his presence clearly makes to his team, which has been anemic offensively since his loss.

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