50 Things We Learned from Week 11 in College Football
The 2012 college football season has been full of upsets, great football games and, sometimes, even both at the same time.
We have seen rising stars fall, and we have seen unremarkable boys become remarkable men. With the new class of rising stars, we have even caught a glimpse into what the next few years should bring.
Of course, we are constantly reminded by guys like Matt Barkley (USC Trojans) and Geno Smith (West Virginia Mountaineers) that what should happen is not always what actually happens.
With another week of college football in the books, at least another 50 lessons were learned. Here are 50 things we learned from college football's Week 11.
*Stats not from memory are from ESPN.com
Michigan Is a Top-25 Team...Again
The Michigan Wolverines were touted as a Top 10 team during the preseason, and they were even a heavy favorite to win the Big Ten. Michigan dropped out of the AP Poll in Week 5, then reappeared in the Week 7, Week 9 and Week 12 AP Polls.
Nobody can make up their mind about Michigan (including the Wolverines themselves). With two more games coming against Iowa and Ohio State, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.
For now, Michigan is a Top 25 team again.
Louisville Isn't Invincible
Louisville posted its first loss of the season in Week 11, and it was not pretty. Syracuse (now 5-5) blew out the Cardinals 45-26, with much of the damage coming in a 21-point second quarter for the Orange.
Louisville wasn't expected to compete for a national championship even if it had a perfect season. However, a 19-point loss at the hands of a team that's not even bowl-eligible yet was unexpected.
Nobody really thought Louisville was invincible, but that level of vulnerability came as a shock to many.
Teddy Bridgewater Doesn't Look Bad...Ever
Even in the 45-26 loss to Syracuse, Teddy Bridgewater went 36-of-49 for 424 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
A 400-yard game is nothing to sneeze at, and Bridgewater will likely worm his way into the Heisman conversation much earlier next year than he did this year.
While the team came away with a loss, Bridgewater certainly did everything he could to set them up for success. Ultimately, it was the rushing success that made the game for the Orange and lost it for the Cardinals.
Alec Lemon Will Be the Most Missed Player in 2012
Yes, there are a ton of seniors departing college after 2012. Quarterbacks Geno Smith, Landry Jones, Collin Klein and Matt Barkley are headliners of this senior class. However, the most missed player will probably be Alec Lemon of the Syracuse Orange.
The major schools can consistently recruit top-notch players to replace the graduating class. The Big East, however, is a much harder conference to load up with talent, especially after the impending mass exodus of teams.
Alec Lemon absolutely had his way with the Louisville defense in Week 11, hauling in nine passes for a mind-numbing 176 yards (If he'd gotten to the 180 mark, that would have been 20 yards per catch.)
Losing Ryan Nassib will be no picnic, but you can easily break in a new quarterback with a receiver like Lemon. His presence will be sorely missed.
If You Play Your Best, You Can Beat Anyone
Texas A&M absolutely dominated Alabama in the first quarter of the Week 11 supergame that hit Tuscaloosa.
A&M sprinted out to a 20-0 lead over the Tide, and the Tide never truly recovered. The Aggies had an answer for everything the Tide threw at them offensively, and they were content to let the 20-point deficit slowly crush the Tide.
Texas A&M has been playing stunningly well this season, with only two notable exceptions—against Florida and LSU. In those two games, the Aggies simply couldn't put up quite enough points for the win.
A&M brought its A-game in Week 11, and the No. 1 Crimson Tide brought far less. If you watched the game, it's actually surprising that A&M only scored 29 points. Of course, that's the most points scored on the Tide since Oct. 9, 2010, when the South Carolina Gamecocks tromped the Tide in Columbia, SC.
Johnny Manziel Should Win the Heisman
The best player in Week 11 was undeniably Johnny "Football" Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies. This freshman quarterback has done nothing but improve in every single week.
If Manziel had developed into the player he has become before the season started, there is little doubt that A&M would be the only undefeated team in the SEC right now. Manziel has come on strong when it matters most, and he lit up the youthful, No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide defense for 29 points.
Manziel went 24-of-31 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. That last stat is probably what sealed the Tide's fate, but we will get to that in a bit. Manziel also tacked on 92 rushing yards to his total before the final whistle.
To put that into perspective, if you add Alabama's two leading receivers' yardage (136 plus 73) and its leading rusher's yardage (92) together, you get 301 yards. That means Manziel was more productive than Alabama's three best players combined.
When a cat does that against the nation's top scoring defense, "Heisman" chants should immediately follow, especially if you do it in enemy territory. Even if he doesn't win the Heisman, he's won the respect of every team in the nation.
That's respect you can't buy.
Either Florida Has Work to Do, or the Ragin' Cajuns Are Underrated
Florida made it to No. 2 in the BCS Rankings before falling to the Georgia Bulldogs by eight points in Week 9. Florida continued to do the only thing it could do to hopefully get into the SEC title game: win.
While the Gators struggled with Missouri in Week 10, the struggles were nationwide. Notre Dame struggled with Pittsburgh and Alabama struggled with LSU in the same week. That helped the Gators save a little face.
There was a huge Texas A&M upset brewing to help distract everyone from what happened in Week 11, but the media made sure that everyone knew about Louisiana-Lafayette and its near upset of the Florida Gators.
Florida is a contender in the SEC, but so is Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama. The Gators have some work to do if the Ragin' Cajuns can make them work that hard for a win.
It's Possible to Lose Your Top 25 Spot in Less Than 52 Hours
Toledo had handled pressure all year. The Rockets had only lost one game (to Arizona), before being tripped up by Ball State by a touchdown.
Toledo spent one week in the BCS and AP Top 25, and that was last week. The Rockets lost on Tuesday, meaning they essentially knew they were going to be knocked out of the AP poll just 52 hours after making the it for the first time in nearly 11 years
Bowling Green Is Not to Be Taken Lightly
While it was probably already well known in college football circles that Bowling Green is not a team to be trifled with, the Ohio Bobcats found this out the hard way in Week 11.
Bowling Green sits at 7-3 on the season after taking down the MAC-favorite Ohio Bobcats, 26-14. While the Falcons do have three losses, it would be wise for me to point out that the losses have come against the Florida Gators, Virginia Tech Hokies and Toledo Rockets.
One of the SEC's Streaks Is Likely Finished
After Alabama posted a loss to the Texas A&M Aggies, one of the SEC's streaks is in more than just a little danger of ending.
The SEC has won the last six national championships in a row. That streak can only continue if two of the top three undefeated teams take losses over the next three weeks. (Oregon is seriously unlikely to take the required loss, but anything can happen.)
The streak that will stay alive is the BCS streak: Every time the SEC has gone to a BCS title game, the crystal football has gone back home with an SEC team.
While that streak will stay alive, SEC fans are not going to be happy with an Oregon vs. Kansas State/Notre Dame national championship.
The good news is that those tired of seeing the SEC take home the hardware finally have a national championship game to watch without any "SEC-tual overtones."
Virginia Tech Just Can't Figure Things out
Based on the preseason rankings, the final score of the Virginia Tech vs. Florida State game was not surprising. (The Seminoles took down the Hokies 28-22 on Thursday, Nov. 8.)
Of course, based on the current rankings, the Seminoles should have mopped the field with fourth-stringers somewhere in the second quarter.
If Virginia Tech can show up and give 100 percent in every game of one season, an ACC title is more than just a dream. It's a probability. Of course, if you get Frank Beamer to avoid playing "Beamer Ball" for an entire season, you've just found the meaning of life. (It's 42, for those of you that don't yet know.)
Yeah, Pitttsburgh Really Does Stink
There was a question raised in all our minds when the Pittsburgh Panthers almost took down the mighty Notre Dame Fighting Irish: "Is Pitt really this good, or is Notre Dame really this overrated?"
The good news for Notre Dame fans is that the Irish aren't overrated, they just had a bad game. The bad news for the Panthers is that they aren't that good yet. They gave an amazing effort, and the game just didn't go in their favor when the train came to a stop.
Pittsburgh is yet another team that struggles with its identity. After losing to Youngstown State in the season opener, little was expected of the Panthers. After defeating Virginia Tech, hopes went up. The exact opposite happened over the last two weeks. Hopes went up with the struggle against Notre Dame, and hopes were once again dashed with the loss to Connecticut.
Texas Has Defense?
Last week, the Longhorns took down the Texas Tech Red Raiders. While that gave Longhorns fans a little bit of hope, there was still much skepticism. Texas hadn't held anyone of importance below 31 points. (Kansas, Wyoming and New Mexico should not be classified as important when we're talking about a Big 12 powerhouse.)
Texas held Iowa State to a measly seven points through 60 minutes in Week 11. Iowa State is averaging 22.7 points per game if you include the performance against the Longhorns. No, it's not a moment worth buying a DVD to commemorate, but it's a vast improvement over the rest of the season's performances.
Texas has defense. If the Longhorns can keep that defense, 2013 could be a really great year. Consistency could still get them in a recognizable bowl game this year, too. That's always a reason to cheer.
Cincinnati Is Back in the Big East Race
Cincinnati has only posted one conference loss this season, and that was to Louisville. Thanks to the Louisville loss to Syracuse, Cincy is back in the mix in a big way.
Cincinnati has Rutgers in Week 12. A win there would leave the Bearcats' fate in the hands of the Scarlet Knights. If Rutgers went on to beat Louisville, Cincy would win the Big East by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker with Rutgers.
Cincinnati is now able to get into the BCS conversation, even if it's only for a week.
Wisconsin Is Going to the Conference Championship Game
With the win over Indiana, Wisconsin secured its berth in the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game. If Wisconsin loses to both Ohio State and Penn State, that would give the Badgers four total conference losses. Still, the Badgers would win the tiebreaker with Indiana at that point and move on to the title game for a shot at the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin is thankful that Ohio State and Penn State are both out of the picture this year, as Ohio State's performance to date would have the Buckeyes in position for a potential national championship if not for the sanctions.
Miami Had Better Get Its Act Together
After dropping their game against Virginia in Week 11, the Miami Hurricanes have a must-win game against Duke at the end of the season. If Miami loses to Duke and Georgia Tech wins out, the Yellow Jackets will win the division.
Miami still controls its own destiny for the most part, but losing to a previously 3-6 team was completely unexpected. Miami needs to get its act together, especially since Duke is a much better team than Virginia. If not, then there is the possibility of a three-way tie in the ACC Coastal Division.
Miami can still win the ACC for a berth in the Orange Bowl. That would be one of the most shocking occurrences in this already-surprising 2012 season.
Duke Has the Opportunity of a Lifetime
After taking a bye in Week 11, Virginia's upset of the Miami Hurricanes has put Duke in the driver's seat for the divisional battle in the ACC.
Duke faces Georgia Tech and Miami over the next two weeks, and wins in both those games would put the Blue Devils right in the middle of the conference championship hunt.
While that's a long shot, Duke fans have to be excited that it's even a possibility. In what would be the team's first bowl appearance since 1992, the Blue Devils could show up all the way in the Orange Bowl.
The last time this was even a possibility this late in the season, the first Bush was president.
Derek Dooley Has No Hope
While there certainly haven't been any announcements made just yet, Derek Dooley is unlikely to return to Knoxville in 2013.
Missouri had only posted one conference win before taking down Tennessee, and that win was against Kentucky (who were probably at basketball practice during the game, too.)
Missouri took down the Vols 51-48 in overtime. With that loss, Tennessee's bowl hopes were trashed, along with Dooley's career at Tennessee. While this was exactly the reason no one else wanted the job at UT, that doesn't seem to be making a difference in fans' eyes.
It just makes Dooley a few million dollars richer and a few years less salable to other major programs. Hopefully he saved his money. Either that, or someone recognizes the giant circus he just went through and doesn't hold it against him too much.
The ACC Coastal Division Is Wide Open
Georgia Tech joins Duke and Miami as the three teams that have a legitimate shot at taking the divisional crown. (Well, it's more of a regular hat than a crown, but still.)
Georgia Tech took down the UNC Tar Heels in Week 11 to secure itself as a contender in the ACC Coastal Division. If the Yellow Jackets beat Duke this week, then all they have to hope for is a Miami loss to the Blue Devils in the last week of the season to go to the conference title game.
Lots of ACC action is going down at the end of the season, and it bears mentioning because of all the action taking place at the top of the BCS standings over the next three weeks.
The ACC is providing us with one of the most exciting divisional battles in college football.
So Is the Pac-12 North
With Oregon's recent defeat of the California Golden Bears, the Pac-12 North's biggest battle is coming in Week 12. The Stanford Cardinal get to travel to Autzen to see if they can come up with a plan that will stifle the Oregon offense.
No, that isn't likely, but Stanford wasn't supposed to even hang with SC—much less beat them while holding Matt Barkley to 14 points.
Now, to be clear, I'm not calling an upset here. I'm just pointing out that Stanford can get to the conference title game with wins over Oregon and UCLA to close out the season. The win over Cal in Week 11 made that possible.
And so Is the Big 12, but to a Lesser Degree
Kansas State has earned all the praise it has been getting this year. Shutting down the prolific West Virginia offense was no small feat.
Kansas State would have to lose the next two to hand Oklahoma the conference title, but Baylor has the offense to do just that. As we learned earlier in the show, Texas seems to have the defense to upset Kansas State as well.
Oklahoma's only conference loss this season came at the hands of the Kansas State Wildcats. That's why they would have to lose two games to give the Sooners the conference title. However, barring any unforeseen upsets, Kansas State is headed to the national title game.
Kansas State needs to be on its best behavior over the next two weeks, but Kansas State's best is good enough to beat anyone in the country.
Also of note: If Texas wins out and both Kansas State and Oklahoma lose two games each, Texas would win the conference. That's highly unlikely, but it is still mathematically possible. Texas would have the head-to-head tiebreaker against Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma would have three conference losses.
Massachusetts Isn't the Worst Team in the FBS
Massachusetts was winless entering Week 11, and Akron had only one win. (Over Morgan State of the FCS.)
UMass found some fight and took down the Zips 22-14. The UMass Minutemen now have one thing that Akron doesn't: a win over an FBS opponent.
While this may be of little importance to fans of some of the big dogs, your first win over an FBS opponent is a huge milestone. To get it in your first year after moving up is pretty cool. Maybe Massachusetts planned on being more competitive in the FBS right from the start, but going winless was a real possibility entering Week 11.
Congrats to the Minutemen!
Stanford Is Bipolar
Stanford took down USC in Week 3, and it shouldn't have. Stanford lost to Notre Dame in Week 6, and it shouldn't have. Stanford took down the Oregon State Beavers in Week 11, and it shouldn't have. Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?
Oregon and UCLA are up in the next two weeks. Stanford should split those games 1-1, but I'm not even going to venture a guess as to which one they'll win. They should lose to Oregon and beat UCLA, but we've already covered how Stanford fares against the "should."
Oklahoma Has Defense? Seriously?
Baylor has an offense that is 10 times more potent than Notre Dame's, yet Oklahoma managed to hold the Bears to 34 points in the Week 11 contest.
Granted, it's not one of the nation's elite scoring defenses, but it is in the Top 25. Oklahoma never ceases to puzzle us. I guess that's why the Sooners earned the nickname "Chokelahoma."
Again, the Sooners aren't sitting on the nation's top defense by any means, but holding an offense that's averaging 42.7 points per game to 30 is decent enough to fall into the "lessons learned" category, especially after allowing Notre Dame to score the same number of points.
Wyoming Can Beat Somebody
Prior to Week 11, Wyoming had only logged victories over Idaho (in overtime) and Colorado State (rebuilding after a 3-9 year).
The Wyoming Cowboys are not going to a bowl or anything, but victories shine brightest in the darkest of seasons. Just ask Tennessee fans.
Wyoming may be a terrible team this year, but the Cowboys aren't the whipping boy of the conference, either. (Hawaii and New Mexico settled that argument in Week 7: Hawaii is the whipping boy.)
Sometimes, you have to take the small victories on the road to success. Not being the worst is a victory that many other teams would gladly trade for.
San Diego State, Boise State and Fresno State...Mountain West Co-Champions?
The last hurdle between the Aztecs and the conference title is 3-7 Wyoming.
Fresno State and Boise State are the other two teams in the three-way tie for the conference title. Boise State faces Colorado State in Week 12 and Nevada in Week 14 to finish out the season, and Fresno State just has to get past Air Force in Week 13.
With San Diego State, Fresno State and Boise State tied for the MWC lead, Fresno State fans just became huge Colorado State and Nevada fans. If either one takes down Boise State in the final games of the season, then San Diego State and Fresno State are tied for the lead.
Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming and Nevada have just as much of a say in who becomes champion of this conference as the leaders do. This is one of the most entertaining conference races in the nation. Enjoy the view!
West Virginia Needs to Snap out of It
West Virginia got off to a great 5-0 start this season, but got exposed by the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Texas Tech drew a blueprint for success against the Mountaineers that the next three teams followed almost to perfection. (TCU had some issues, but came away with a double-overtime victory in the end.)
At the end of Week 11, West Virginia's losing streak stands at four games. From 5-0 to 5-4 is a long way to fall. With Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas left, the Mountaineers still have great hope to make the postseason.
However, they can't let what will probably be a five-game skid get to their heads. They need to muster some strength and ensure that those Iowa State and Kansas games go down as wins.
Oklahoma is beatable, and a couple of teams have shown that to be true. However, both those teams are in the top three in the BCS rankings right now, so that's of little consolation to West Virginia.
Minnesota Is Going Bowling
Minnesota's 4-0 start to the 2012 season gave the Golden Gophers great hope for the postseason. They only needed two more wins after that to become bowl eligible. Thanks to Illinois, that dream became a reality.
While the Gophers can't get into the Big Ten title game, the next two weeks could certainly change the face of their season. With Nebraska and Michigan State coming up, the Gophers have plenty of opportunity to earn a better bowl.
The bottom line is that the Gophers will be playing in this bowl season.
Buffalo Still Isn't Rolling over as Planned
Buffalo has been a touchdown (or less) away from victory three times this season. That's right, these guys are less than 20 points away from being bowl eligible instead of mathematically eliminated in Week 9.
In Week 11, the Buffalo Bulls took down the Western Michigan Broncos. That crushed the long-shot bowl hopes of the Broncos, too.
Kent State and Bowling Green travel to Buffalo over the next two weeks. If those teams aren't prepared for the trap that is waiting for them, the conference could see a bit of a shake-up before the season is over.
Troy May Go Bowling
Troy is not known for its success against SEC teams throughout the new millennium. (Other than one victory over Mississippi State in 2001, Troy is winless against the conference.)
This season, Troy posted losses to Mississippi State and Tennessee by a combined 13 points. Troy is currently 5-5 with games coming up against Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee.
While Troy's bowl eligibility looked shaky at best entering the Navy game in Week 11, the Trojans' victory over the Midshipmen have them just one victory away from postseason play.
The 5-5 Trojans only need to win against one of their last two opponents to make it into the postseason.
Tulsa Only Needs One More
Tulsa is sitting atop the Conference USA West Division, and the Golden Hurricane have games coming against UCF and SMU in the next two weeks.
With a win over either team, Tulsa clinches the berth in the conference title game. SMU already has two conference losses, but the race is still anyone's. If Tulsa loses the next two, SMU can grab the slot as long as it beats Rice this week.
Week 12 Is Probably a Preview of the C-USA Title Game
Thanks to wins for both UCF and Tulsa in Week 11, the Week 12 clash of these two C-USA titans is probably a preview of the conference championship.
With or without a win in Week 12, UCF is likely to represent the East Division in the title bout. Tulsa's berth is a little shakier, but that was covered in the previous slide.
UCF at Tulsa is one of the biggest C-USA matches of the season. If you're a fan of championship weekend, you may want to check this one out. It will be a great game in Week 12 and for the title.
The SEC Is the Best Conference in the Land, National Champion or Not
The Week 12 BCS Rankings have a lot to say about what conference belongs at the top of the food chain. While the SEC's seventh national championship in a row is unlikely to happen, there is little question as to which conference has the most elite teams (six in the Top 10).
If you alter the BCS Standings to reflect conference affiliation only, here's what it looks like:
1. Big 12
12. Big 12
14. Big Ten
15. Big 12
19. Big East
21. Big Ten
22. Big East
23. Big 12
24. Big 12
After the No. 1 and No. 3 teams, neither of those conferences (Big 12 and Pac-12) have a representative listed until No. 12. The SEC may not hold the top spot, but it holds all positions from fourth to ninth.
The Big 12 and the Pac-12 contenders would do all SEC haters a giant favor if they'd simply win out and keep the SEC from getting into the game.
Of course, everyone in the nation would rather someone actually beat the SEC on the field, but that may have to wait until another year. No matter how the SEC's streak ends, the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten and ACC fans will all be supremely happy.
Beating the conference in a head-to-head matchup is a secondary objective.
The SEC Is Even Great at Sucking!
The SEC is so determined to be the best at everything that it strives to field both the nation's best and worst teams at the same time. (Quite suck-cessfully, I might add.)
While the SEC is home to quite a few of the nation's best teams, there are always SEC bottom-feeders that rank amongst the nation's worst teams.
Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, Arkansas and Ole Miss are currently battling to see who is the worst. Kentucky is winning that battle right now, but will probably have the opportunity to face an SEC-winless Tennessee on the last day of the regular season.
Tennessee earned the title last year, but we will see what happens this year. That game has become the train wreck of the SEC. It's impossible not to check the score, even if you can't bring yourself to watch the whole thing.
Kansas State Doesn't Need to Worry Anymore
Prior to Week 11, if Kansas State won out, there was still a chance that it wouldn't make it to the national title game.
With Alabama's loss to Texas A&M, an undefeated Kansas State is almost guaranteed a slot in the championship match. Kansas State needs to finish strong and win out to get in, but there is no longer any concern as to whether Oregon will jump the Wildcats or not.
BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2 is currently "Kansas State vs. Oregon." The Wildcats will not care one iota if that turns out to be "Oregon vs. Kansas State." It's not like home-field advantage is on the table. It's going to happen in Miami either way.
Georgia Just Gave Evidence That It May Be the Best Team in the SEC
After walking through a cake schedule (in comparison to other SEC powers), Georgia's berth in the conference championship was somewhat dubious.
After losing 35-7 to South Carolina, Georgia ceased being the favorite to win the SEC East Division. However, after a gritty win over the then-No. 2 Florida Gators, Georgia once again was in a good spot to get to Atlanta. (South Carolina suffered back-to-back losses to LSU and Florida to hand Georgia the reins once again.)
In Week 11, Georgia became the first team in 2012 to shut out the Auburn Tigers. No, it's not absolute evidence that Georgia is the best team in the SEC, but it's better evidence than some of the other one-loss teams have. (Alabama hasn't played Auburn yet, so the "common opponent" theory is still incomplete for late-season analysis.)
Georgia and Alabama both have clear paths to the Sugar Bowl, but an outside shot at the national championship is still in play for the conference champion.
The Coaches' Poll Is Crap
One of the shocking revelations during the Week 11 aftermath was that one poll seemingly wanted to completely murder its own credibility. That poll was the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
Okay, after all these years of success and only having two losses, it's more than acceptable to have Boise State edging itself into the poll. A ranking of 25 could easily be argued, and you wouldn't find me fighting against that one bit. The same could be said for coming in at No. 24.
However, to bring Boise State into the rankings above Michigan, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech is just utter nonsense. The AP Poll has Kent State at No. 25, and there is legitimate reason to have Boise State there instead. The same can be said for the Washington Huskies, who occupy the BCS No. 25 slot.
The coaches just told us all that they think Boise State can beat Michigan, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. The only team from an AQ conference that Boise State has faced all year was Michigan State in the season opener.
I have one question for the coaches: Did you all vote from a conference in Colorado (or Washington)?
*Explanation link here if needed
Arizona Is Bowl Eligible
Arizona took down the Colorado Buffaloes to earn its trip to the postseason. With Utah and Arizona State ahead of them, though, an eight-win season is perfectly reasonable to expect.
Arizona got tripped up a few times along the way, but got a much-needed win against then-No. 9 USC in Week 9 to boost morale. Two short weeks later, the Wildcats find themselves headed to the postseason.
Louisiana Tech Can't Catch a Break
Despite holding its own against Texas A&M during Johnny Manziel's breakout game, Louisiana Tech is sitting outside the Top 16 at No. 20 in the BCS Rankings.
While this may seem okay to some, the coaches' poll slide explained why this is just wrong. Louisiana Tech lost by two points to A&M in a shootout.
Texas A&M is the first team not named LSU to beat Alabama since 2010, and Louisiana Tech is almost as good as they are. Yes, the Bulldogs are missing a stifling defense, but so is half the Big 12 and over half of the Big Ten.
Louisiana Tech is falling victim to the fact that Boise State didn't do squat for the "little guy" over the past few years. The Broncos merely earned respect for themselves, not the non-AQ conferences as a whole.
*In the voters' defense: Louisiana Tech did allow Texas State to score 55 points in Week 11, but LA Tech still won. Style points are needed on defense, too.
Arkansas State Would Wipe the Floor with the SEC's Bottom Four
Louisiana-Monroe got one of the biggest upsets in the history of college football when the Warhawks took down the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
The Warhawks followed that up with a near-victory in overtime against the Auburn Tigers. Week 11 saw the Arkansas State Red Wolves absolutely dominate the Warhawks from start to finish. The Red Wolves came out on top by a score of 45-23.
Go back in time and let the Red Wolves play Arkansas and Auburn in the first two weeks of the season, and Arkansas State is the non-AQ hero of 2012. (The Red Wolves certainly didn't have a shoddy showing against Oregon in Week 1.)
Take the Red Wolves performance this season and stack it up against Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee. There are four wins there if the Red Wolves play to their potential.
Colby Cameron May Be the NCAA Record-Holder for Decades
In this season alone, Colby Cameron has 403 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. The NCAA record prior to this season was 271, held by Trent Dilfer of Fresno State in 1993. (source: NCAA Record Book)
While Geno Smith passed this mark, he threw an interception to end his streak at 273. Considering that Dilfer's mark stood for almost 20 years, it's safe to say that we will all grow very old before Colby Cameron's name is brought up in reference to his record being broken.
Zach Mettenberger Could Earn His Nickname
LSU fans dubbed Zach Mettenberger the Mett-siah when he arrived in Baton Rouge. However, Mett had underperformed up until the Alabama game.
Whatever he did during the bye week certainly seems to have been worth his time. He followed his 298-yard, one-touchdown performance against Alabama with a 273-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Week 11.
Mettenberger may not have helped LSU win a national title this year, but there's always next year. He's only a junior, and this year's NFL draft class is already loaded with quarterbacks. He'll fare much better in the 2014 draft, especially if he continues to improve in the offseason.
Oregon Looks Unstoppable
Two years ago, when Oregon got to the national title game against Auburn, Cal held Oregon to a scant 15 points in a regular-season matchup. Yes, Oregon won by holding the Golden Bears to 13, but it was still concrete proof that Oregon could be stopped. (Auburn finished off the Ducks with a last-second field goal in the national championship game.)
Fast forward two years, and the Oregon Ducks have blazed a trail through their schedule that makes everyone except first-round draft picks look like pee-wee football players. USC is the only team to even come close to beating the Ducks. (Unless you count Fresno State, who came within 17.)
Oregon just manhandled Cal 59-17 in a game where the Bears seemed to have most of the answers early in the game. Oregon pulled away, and Cal just watched. Yes, Oregon is susceptible to a great defense, but the Ducks have overcome every defense they have faced.
With a month to prepare, SEC fans needs to consider one thing: What if Oregon would win the national championship against Georgia or Alabama? Would you rather not get in and have the streak end on a technicality?
With the way SEC fans work, that answer is "no."
NC State Makes the Postseason Again
NC State just put down the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Week 11 and earned a trip to bowl season in the process. That's three postseason appearances in a row for the Wolfpack.
If the previous seasons are any indication, NC State will grab a third-straight win in the postseason this year. That's a nice bonus for a team that already got a win over a national championship-hopeful Florida State squad earlier this season.
Giovani Bernard Can Be Stopped
After a couple of "down" games this season against East Carolina and Idaho, Bernard came out with guns blazing against the next four teams, never failing to cross the 100-yard barrier in a single outing. He even crossed the 200-yard mark against Virginia Tech.
Against Georgia Tech, though, he was held to a shockingly low 78 yards on 16 carries. He is extremely useful, though. North Carolina is 3-0 in games where Bernard scores two touchdowns. The Tar Heels are 3-4 in games where he scores fewer than two.
Phillip Sims May Have Just Lost Another Starting Job
Phillip Sims used to be A.J. McCarron's competition at Alabama, but lost the starting job to McCarron. Upon transferring to Virginia, Sims was granted permission to start right away.
Prior to Week 11, Sims looked like the better option for most of the season. Sims has only thrown four interceptions on the season vs. eight touchdowns. Michael Rocco, the Cavaliers' other quarterback, had thrown eight picks to go with his 12 touchdowns.
Ball security helped Sims hang onto at least partial usage by Virginia. However, Rocco just threw for 300 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in the one-point victory over the Miami Hurricanes. Sims was only allowed to attempt 14 passes, but none of those went for touchdowns (none were intercepted, either).
If this race was about who developed first, Sims just lost another quarterback battle.
Gene Chizik Is Probably Gone
Assuming Dooley's fate was decided by Missouri's three-point win over the Vols in Week 11, Gene Chizik of Auburn is the new coach in the SEC's hottest seat.
After winning a national title, there is expected to be some drop off. What has happened at Auburn is a skydive. Auburn's failure to score any points at all against Georgia is a stiff reminder to everyone in Alabama that Auburn doesn't have Nick Saban.
That would be bad enough if Nick Saban were coaching at Oregon or Kansas State, but he's not. He's coaching the defending national champions in the midst of what cannot possibly be worse than a three-loss season. (That's assuming a loss to Georgia in the SEC title game and a loss in the postseason.)
Gene Chizik is the victim of success—both his own in 2010 and Nick Saban's in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012. If Chizik is not on the way out, Auburn fans might be. They can always root for UAB or South Alabama until he's fired.
Charlie Weis and Frank Spaziani
With all the turmoil in the SEC likely being sorted out via firing head coaches, there are two new "hottest seat in the NCAA" candidates: Frank Spaziani (Boston College) and Charlie Weis (Kansas).
Charlie Weis will likely be given a little more time to improve the Jayhawks' performance level, but without a win over Iowa State or West Virginia, this season will actually be worse than last year's. Currently, Weis has zero wins over FBS opponents in 2012.
Frank Spaziani is over at Boston College, and he's putting together a four-win season at best. For that to happen, he'd have to take down both Virginia Tech and NC State in the next two weeks.
But Spaziani is at Boston College, not South Alabama. Four wins may not even be enough at this point. Fans stopped watching a long time ago.
Nobody "fixed" the Polls
Alabama's loss to Texas A&M was a tough loss by less than a touchdown. There are many ways that Alabama could have won that game, but the Tide did not roll.
After last year's debate as to whether the Tide should have even been in the national title picture, many fans expected to see a huge drop after the Texas A&M loss. That did not happen.
Alabama sits at No. 4 in the BCS, and Georgia is right behind the Tide. (That will be sorted out in Atlanta, assuming the Tide take down Auburn on rivalry weekend.)
It's refreshing to see honesty in the polls, but it still remains to be seen whether Alabama really deserves even the No. 4 spot. Georgia will be settling that debate in early December.
The Stage Is Set
Last year, all anyone had to do to keep Alabama and LSU from rematching in the national championship was win their games. Heck, even Oregon had an outside shot at jumping the Tide with wins.
Nobody did that, and the rematch happened. The nation grumbled as it happened, but everyone knew that Oklahoma State's loss to Iowa State was too much to overcome. Oregon's second loss was too much to overcome. Everyone around the Tide fell, and LSU was the lone undefeated team in the nation and was the champion of the nation's strongest conference.
The games that will be on everyone's televisions are:
1. No. 1 Kansas State at Baylor
2. No. 15 Texas at No. 1 Kansas State
3. No. 13 Stanford at No. 2 Oregon
4. No. 2 Oregon at No. 16 Oregon State
5. No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 18 USC
6. Auburn at No. 4 Alabama (The Iron Bowl never plays out exactly as it should).
The SEC needs a lot of help to get its champion into the national picture again, but "The Rematch" relied on a lot of crazy stuff to happen, too.