"Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin...Into the future." -Singer/songwriter Steve Miller
Is it really Week 12 already? It seems like just yesterday, our favorite teams were feasting on non-BCS and non-1A teams to begin their non-conference schedule. But in only a few short weeks, the regular season will be wrapped up, the conference title games will be in the books, and we'll know which teams are traveling where for the postseason.
Before I get too sentimental, I'd best get on with this week's column.
Notre Dame can beat a bowl-bound team!
The Fighting Irish, with Charlie Weis, Offensive Supergenius (TM), calling plays beat the Naval Academy this weekend. That win is Notre Dame's first over a team with a winning record since 2006 (Note: I'm not counting the win over Stanford because while Stanford was 3-2 when the two teams met, they are currently 5-6 and will only finish .500 at best.)
Beating Navy is also a measure of revenge for the Irish, if you can really extract revenge from a team that you once had a roughly 834-game winning streak against.
After some positively anemic offensive performances earlier this season, culminating in being shut out by Boston College, Weis announced earlier in the week that he would be taking over playcalling duties for the Navy game.
I'm surprised he didn't do this sooner, because I was under the impression that the reason he was hired was because he could call a brilliant offensive game...
So how did the Offensive Supergenius' suddenly rejuvenated offense fare?
Yeah, they won the game 27-21, but they seemed to take a step back from the improvement that they had been showing (Boston College game excluded). Since the beginning of October, Jimmy Clausen had put up a couple of 300-yard games, plus a respectable 226 yard effort last week against Boston College.
Navy held Clausen to a measly 110 yards on 15/18 passing. In reality, Clausen completed 17 of his passes, but two of them went to players wearing the wrong jersey.
The running game did show signs of life, as the Irish racked up 230 yards on the ground. But they also lost three fumbles, so there has to be plenty of cause for concern in South Bend. The Irish have proved all season long that turning the ball over makes winning difficult, and often impossible.
Credit Notre Dame for finding a way to win despite the mistakes, for holding off a trendy upset pick, and becoming eligible to continue their bowl losing streak. If they turn the ball over like this in the postseason, they will lose.
Vanderbilt can take care of business
That was Vanderbilt's record in their last 17 attempts to become bowl eligible. Ouch.
You'd think just once, the football gods would smile on the Commodores and let them come away with a win. But the football gods have a very cruel sense of humor and seem to enjoy making Vandy suffer.
Think your program has fallen on hard times? This year will be Vandy's first trip to a bowl since 1982. Know what happened in 1982? England and Argentina started fighting over the Falkland Islands, for strategic sheep purposes. Prince William was born. First Blood was cool. This song was a No. 1 hit. I like to think society has come a long way.
Anyway, I digress. Vanderbilt finally broke their streak this weekend with a big win against Kentucky. If you're a fan of Vandy, or just an admirer of strict academic standards, this win is for you.
Vandy set the tone for the game right from the start. Facing 4th-and-4 at the Kentucky 25 with 9:37 left in the quarter, the Commodores opted to go for it. That was a gutsy call in itself, but the play call was even more impressive.
Chris Nickson found D.J. Moore in the end zone for a touchdown. Moore managed to make the grab while barely in-bounds and being covered pretty well. It was one of the better plays from this weekend.
Vandy continued to pile misery onto a Kentucky team who was no doubt hurting from their big upset loss at the hands of VMI in Rupp Arena. As somebody who grew up in Lexington watching Steve Spurrier pound the snot out of the Wildcats in the fall and Rick Pitino win big in the winter, it was a tough weekend.
I'll be better if Vandy can beat Tennessee next weekend. It was also nice to see Steve Spurrier get pounded like he did.
The SEC Title Game is going to be incredibly entertaining
Did you see Alabama's defense on Saturday? What about Florida's offense? When those two meet for the SEC title and a probably berth in the National Title Game, we're all in for a treat.
Alabama began their game against Mississippi State determined to get an offensive touchdown against the Bulldogs for the first time since 2004. When the Tide offense stalled on their opening drive, they downed a punt on the Bulldogs' one and would block a punt just a few plays later for a safety.
The defense was looking to win the game if the offense continued to sputter. 'Bama didn't have that problem though. The Tide dominated with defense and special teams, and scored two offensive touchdowns, much to the relief of their fans.
All Florida did this weekend was demolish Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team 56-6. Since losing to Ole Miss, Florida has beaten their opponents by no less than 28 each weekend and has been averaging close to 50 points per game. Seems like they're upset about something...
Percy Harvin was just six yards short of outgaining the Gamecocks by himself. He picked up 167 yards on eight carries. Granted, 80 of those yards came on one impressive touchdown run, so if we discount that he managed 87 yards on seven carries. Pretty pedestrian stuff if you ask me.
As of this weekend, Florida looks to have the third best offense in the country, behind only Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Alabama's defense hasn't seen anything like the Florida attack all season. It's going to be interesting to see how these two teams deal with each other in a few weeks.
I won't make any predictions for the title game because both teams are capable of beating anybody in the country on any given day. I'm just expecting a great game with the winner most likely heading to Miami.
Stories just making the cut
Spartans fans everywhere are hit by a huge wave of depression as they realize that their slim Rose Bowl hopes rest on the shoulders of the worst Michigan team ever. Ohio State won't be losing next week, on Senior Day.
If Northwestern State could make a layup, Indiana's basketball team would be just as depressed as their football team...wait, wrong sport.
After winning the Orange Bowl last season, Kansas doesn't deserve a spot in this postseason this year. They haven't beaten anybody of note and have looked overmatched in most of their games against quality opposition. The preseason No. 14 is looking at a 6-6 finish.
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