Ten Thoughts on Week Ten: Turmoil in the Big 12

William QualkinbushSenior Analyst INovember 6, 2007

IconAfter a super (and relatively shock-free) week of college football, there are a lot of questions still unanswered.

Of course, since this is November, a lot of questions have been answered—or at least cleared up considerably.

Many contenders are beginning to play their best football, while quite a few pretenders are falling hard from their pedestals.

With that in mind, here are ten things that stood out after Saturday’s action…

1)      All sorts of things going down in the Big 12, many of them not so good.

After Texas A&M failed to put up much of a fight against #6 Oklahoma in its 42-14 loss, it became evident that Dennis Franchione would probably not be back to coach the Aggies next season.

Not many people assumed that the problem would be resolved within a couple of days.

As this article is being written, there are multiple reports out that Texas A&M has bought out Coach Fran’s contract, which runs through the 2012 season. It is unclear whether or not Franchione will continue coaching for the remainder of the season.

That is largely irrelevant, considering the fact that the Aggies’ season will definitely get worse before it gets…well, progressively worse.

This whole situation brings about the question: How is Bill Callahan still coaching at Nebraska?

After the worst of many regrettable performances by his Husker defense—in which Nebraska gave up just as many points to the Kansas football team as it did to Kansas’ basketball team in a game last season—Callahan has the fan base irate and is losing recruits like crazy.

Every single second Callahan continues to run Husker football, Nebraska’s program takes a devastating hit.

And speaking of Kansas, how about some love for these guys, who are sitting at #4 right now? They may not be national championship material just yet, but Mark Mangino’s bunch is certainly a squad to keep your eye on down the stretch.

2)      Ohio State just continues to win. With its 38-17 victory over a short-handed Wisconsin team, THE Ohio State University has now won a conference-record 2Icon0 straight games against league opponents.

This streak sheds some light on a fact that may fly under the radar: Jim Tressel may be one of the greatest coaches ever, in history. All he does is pick up W’s, no matter what kind of team he has.

As for this bunch, the defense is stout, as always, but the offense has been a pleasant surprise. Todd Boeckman continues to impress and Chris Wells came up huge against the Badgers.

The only thing stopping the Buckeyes from getting to the national championship game is, well, the Buckeyes. But this team doesn’t beat itself—watch out!

3)      Finally, the Matt Ryan hysteria is over. And so are Boston College’s title hopes.

After 56 minutes of horrible football two weeks ago, Ryan’s exploits against a Virginia Tech prevent defense put him back on top of many people’s Heisman lists, for some reason that I could not figure out.

Now, after another unspectacular performance against Florida State, Ryan’s name has basically fallen off the Heisman radar. I thought it should have happened weeks ago; how can a guy who puts up big numbers during a bye month win the Heisman Trophy?

With its loss, BC gives control of its destiny over to the Clemson Tigers, who now hold the keys to the ACC Atlantic Division. With home games against Wake Forest and Boston College looming, Tommy Bowden’s boys just have to win to get to Jacksonville for the first time, which should put to rest the haters who had Bowden fired a month ago.

4)      And speaking of the Tigers, I have never seen an explosion of points like there was at Duke on Saturday.

IconClemson scored 16 points in 38 seconds—with a Cullen Harper touchdown run, a quarterback sack for a safety, and a CJ Spiller free kick return for a touchdown providing the scoring. This allowed the Tigers to pull away from the Blue Devils late in the first half.

Clemson seems to be peaking at the right time, and with the remainder of its ACC schedule at home, has a favorable shot at its first conference crown since 1991.

5)      Can I get a “Dennis Dixon for Heisman” please?

While the rest of the national media was salivating over Matt Ryan’s play against Army and Bowling Green, I was looking at Dixon, the country’s most improved player, as the nation’s best player.

After another four touchdown performance against previously unbeaten Arizona State, the secret is out about Dixon’s brilliance for the greater part of this season.

As of right now, he has over 2000 passing yards, with 20 touchdowns and only 3 picks; also, Dixon has rushed for 549 yards and 8 scores, making him one of the top dual-threat QBs anywhere.

If you want to get on the bandwagon, I’ll be driving it.

6)      New ACC Coastal Division co-leader Virginia beat Wake Forest, 17-16.

This is not news to anyone who knows anything about Al Groh’s Cavaliers; they have now won three games by a single point, along with two other games by two points.

This type of winning is virtually unprecedented. With all of the close calls this season, when will UVA’s luck run out?

Right now, the chances of it running out EVER are slim to none, and this could be the second straight year that a Cinderella team makes it to the ACC Championship Game.

7)      What in the name of Matt Grothe is going on with South Florida?

After beating Auburn on the road and trouncing West Virginia, USF was shooting up the rankings and threatening to crash the BCS party until mid-October.

Then reality hit with a crushing Thursday night loss to Rutgers; since then, the Bulls have lost two additional games, to Connecticut and Cincinnati. Jim Leavitt cannot be a happy man to live with right now.

Lucky for all the purists that hated the Bulls at the top of the polls, USF is now back in the land of oblivion.

8)      Many times in football, the best team does not win because of one stretch where the other team dominates the game completely. (See Patriots-Colts.)

The Texas Longhorns are the team that gets outplayed for three quarters, then comes to life and runs—literally—away with the contest in the fourth.Icon Sports Media

Jamaal Charles is officially the best fourth-quarter player in college football this season.

Nobody appears with more force in the waning moments of games than the Texas tailback; he scored three touchdowns against Nebraska’s anti-defense, then topped that performance off with two scores in Texas’ comeback win over Oklahoma State.

Somebody tell Mack Brown that to win anything of consequence, you have to play four quarters.

9)      Michigan stole one from its in-state rival on Saturday, scoring twice in the final seven minutes to gain a huge road win.

This proves that the Wolverines, left for dead in mid-September, are still as good as many, including myself, thought they would be before the season.

The showdown with Ohio State in the Horseshoe in two weeks still looms large.

10)  Now we shift gears from Les Miles’ future team to his current team (purely speculation, of course). LSU seems to survive a classic game each and every Saturday; the key word there is “survive”. Icon

They are still in the national championship picture because their head coach is not afraid to fail. That is what separates this bunch from the vast majority of teams in the country.

Now the schedule is considerably more manageable down the stretch, leading right up to the SEC Championship Game.

I’ll put my money on a nailbiter.


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