The season is not lost, even for some of those teams that suffered unexpected and debilitating losses in Week 9.
There may be just a few weeks left until Thanksgiving—and thus, the end of the regular season—but there are still many opportunities for teams atop the BCS standings to fail and, in turn, the teams stuck in the middle to make one last run.
Here are the teams that lost last week but will start making up for it right away in Week 10.
No. 12 Oklahoma at Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 3 at 12 p.m. ET
The Sooners really laid an egg on Saturday night against unbeaten Notre Dame. They had everything going for them: a proven quarterback, an ecstatic home crowd behind them, a game that was within reach, for the most part, until a grand unraveling at the very end.
A few key mistakes were the difference between a win over an undefeated rival and an infuriating 30-13 home loss that was much closer than the score belies. The first mistake was a much-disputed holding call that came at the very end of the first half which erased what would have been the game-tying touchdown for Oklahoma. This, it seemed, sucked out every ounce of momentum the Sooners had going for them.
The second mistake, of course, was an interception with about five minutes left in the game. That was really what it came down to on Saturday: Oklahoma's illustrious offense ran into a defense it couldn't compete with, and that was the game. The Irish played a nearly perfect game, the Sooners learned a lot about what kind of offense it's going to take to compete with the nation's top teams.
Fortunately for Oklahoma, next up is a decisive should-win against Iowa State, which has lost two of its last three and is just 2-3 in Big 12 play. This should serve as a nice tune-up for the final four games on the Sooners' schedule, two of which are against Top 25 opponents.
No. 16 Texas A&M at No. 15 Mississippi State, Saturday, Nov. 3 at 12 p.m ET
When Texas A&M and Mississippi State face off on Saturday, one of them is going to suffer a loss that will likely crush what is left of its season. Here is why that team isn't going to be the Aggies.
A&M has just two losses this season. Unfortunately, one of them came in Week 2 (which marked the Aggies' season-opener) at the hands of a Florida team that has proven to be unexpectedly stellar. The second was a 24-19 battle against LSU a couple of weeks ago. A&M lost both games by an average of four points.
The Aggies can hang in there with the tough teams, and can beat the others—the ones they should beat. And Mississippi State is one of those should-beats, made even more vulnerable by the fact that it is coming off an absolutely crushing 38-7 loss to Alabama. It was a rude awakening for the Bulldogs, who had remained unbeaten until that point but had yet to play a ranked opponent.
That's what happens when a Top 25 team gets this deep into the season without being truly tested: It gets exposed at the worst time. And it will continue to get exposed by an Aggies team that a) has beaten a decent opponent or two in 2012, b) has proven capable of hanging in there with good teams and c) is coming off a 63-21 slaughter of Auburn.
Pick: Texas A&M
No. 17 USC vs. No. 4 Oregon, Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. ET
This is a risky selection. I fully recognize that. But the Trojans are playing at home, they have a veteran quarterback at the helm and are absolutely, 100 percent desperate at this point. They have few options other than winning out if they want to remain anywhere close to the BCS conversation, and that's going to be no easy feat with games against Oregon and Notre Dame coming up.
But no use worrying about the Irish when the Ducks are on tap first. The Ducks, who have gone unbeaten through the first nine weeks of the season. The Ducks, who could be the latest team to fall into the top 5 trap.
Offensively, Oregon has looked unstoppable. Its lowest scoring output of the season has been 42 points, and it ranks at the very top of the NCAA with 53.4 points scored per game.
But to be fair and honest, the Pac-12 hasn't exactly been a minefield this season, and the Ducks have played and beaten just one team that is still ranked (and that team only sneaked into the rankings after upsetting USC a few days ago).
The Trojans haven't beaten anyone excellent, either, but a veteran team with its back against the wall can be powerful—and so can a top-25 defense. Both of these teams, in fact, boast top-25 defenses, and both of them are capable of offensive fireworks. But at this point, USC has nothing to lose and the Ducks have everything to lose. Pressure like that may be unquantifiable, but it's far from nonexistent.
This one is going to be a slugfest, no doubt. But the Trojans will prove that they're not quite willing to give up on this season quite yet.
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