On paper, Week 11 didn’t look like much. It lacked major matchups, especially involving teams near the top of the BCS standings. Going in, it appeared that we would be given a breather of sorts following Week 10’s wild conclusion.
The football gods had other ideas, as they usually do.
As is the case with such weekends, this particular Saturday gave us much more than anticipated. Focusing in on college football’s unbeatens, Week 11 was about staying alive. Well, if you were able to.
It was not a pretty weekend across the board, and although we place far too much emphasis on “style points” and “passing the eye test,” the teams vying for the top standings in the BCS didn’t exactly dazzle us on this particular Saturday.
In fact, “dazzle” really wasn’t in the repertoire.
The top four teams in the BCS standings were all in competitive games late into their contests. Collectively, they looked flat, although it’s impossible to throw a giant blanket over each one and call it a weekend.
Kansas State put together a 23-10 win over TCU, which doesn’t exactly jump off the page. While he did register two rushing touchdowns, Heisman front-runner Collin Klein threw an interception and passed for only 145 yards against a defense that has given up passing yards in bunches the past few weeks.
Give credit to the Kansas State defense for continuing to be impressive; shutting out a feisty offense through three quarters on the road is an accomplishment.
Notre Dame was, well, much like the Notre Dame we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in 2012. The Irish's 21-6 win over Boston College was very much on par with other wins in that the defense was superb—albeit against inferior competition—and the offense struggled to find consistency.
This appears to be their identity, and until they lose, it’s hard to question it. Still, this was a week where they could’ve filled up the box score, and they just didn’t do it.
But it wouldn’t really matter if they did: Notre Dame will still need help to get to the title game, so its hopes are alive and well.
Oregon knows plenty about playing tough battles against Cal; in 2010, Jeff Tedford’s group nearly derailed the Ducks’ perfect season. This year, at least for a while, Cal gave Oregon a good battle. The first half was ugly, and Oregon racked up injuries to key players.
Running back Kenjon Barner and quarterback Marcus Mariota both came out of the game with injuries, though they did return. Despite being up only seven points deep into the third quarter, the Ducks eventually kicked it into gear and blew the Bears out.
The 59-17 score was not indicative of how competitive a game it was—no, really. Oregon can simply start and stop in a flash.
Who is the best unbeaten team?
And then there’s Alabama, which got new life after sneaking by host LSU last weekend. Playing at home, we assumed that Alabama’s physical style would be too much for Texas A&M to handle.
Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel had other ideas, and Texas A&M took down the overwhelming favorite to win the BCS title, 29-24. Forget about a close call; Alabama stumbled.
This loss creates a very interesting scenario for the teams that were situated below them, and Kansas State will likely benefit the most from it. At least right now.
In terms of vying for the BCS National Championship Game, many observers thought K-State would be on the outside looking in, assuming Alabama and Oregon finished unbeaten. That won’t be the case, and a win against Baylor and Texas should be enough for the Wildcats to book their ticket.
Going forward, throw style points out the window. They don’t matter now. There are three unbeaten teams near the top, and there are two spots to fill.
As we learned, however, the final outcome is far from a given. Each one of these teams can be beaten, and there are deficiencies that can be exposed in a single game.
Week 11 highlighted just that, and although three of the top four contenders will remain contenders, perhaps this was just a prelude of more chaos to come.