College Football Week 12's Winners and Losers

Dan VastaSenior Writer IIINovember 19, 2011

College Football Week 12's Winners and Losers

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    Week 12 is nearly in the books, and there have been a ton of winners and losers as the final week of the regular season is just two weeks ahead of us.

    This was easily one of the craziest weekends of the season and the BCS is simply in chaos right now. All of the top heavyweights keep dropping like flies.

    It started with Wisconsin a few weeks ago and has since moved on to Clemson, Oklahoma, Stanford, Boise State and now Oklahoma State.

    What else can possibly go wrong? Every week there is at least one Top 10 team losing, and I would not bank on that stopping in the next two weeks.

    So, which teams exactly were the biggest winners and losers of the weekend?

Loser: Oklahoma State

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    Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 (2OT)

    Surprise!

    The high-flying Cowboys were scoring over 50 points a week, and yet they could not put it all together. Oklahoma State coughed it up five times when it mattered most, after they had only turned it over 16 times going into their game against Iowa State.

    Brandon Weeden had ascended atop the Heisman rankings, but may fall all the way down to fourth or fifth with his three-interception performance. He is still a very good player and has been one of the best stories in college football to watch, but clearly their heads were not into the game.

    The university suffered another disaster as they lost their head coach and their assistant in a tragic plane crash.

    Certainly, the loss hurts a lot more off the field then on. Football is just a privileged game we enjoy and though Oklahoma State could perhaps fall completely out of the BCS with another loss to the Sooners, life is put into perspective when tragedies like this occur.

Winner: Iowa State

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    Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 (2OT)

    The Cyclones forced five huge turnovers from Oklahoma State, but it was the magnificent play of redshirt freshman Jared Barnett that gave them the win.

    Barnett threw for 376 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He escaped pressure outside the pocket as well, rushing for 84 yards.The kid was simply sensational and he was able to get a ton of help when it mattered most.

    His receivers had a case of the drops for most of the night, but they came up big down the stretch, while the running game gashed the Cowboys for 192 yards.

    More importantly, the Cyclones are now bowl eligible after many, including myself, doubted the Cyclones could even have a puncher's chance to upset Oklahoma State, Oklahoma or Kansas State. 

Winner: Houston Cougars

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    Houston 37, SMU 7

    Not many teams are bigger winners than the Houston Cougars.

    Despite only up 6-0 at the half, Houston's offense continues to go bonkers against Conference USA competition. 

    Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier makes this offense similar to the Hawaii Warriors back in 2007-2008. Meanwhile, Case Keenum and his running backs have been tremendous this season as well.

    The cougars came into the weekend averaging 173 yards rushing per game, which ranked 44th in the nation.

    People talk about the top-ranked passing offense (and rightfully so, averaging 455 yards per game), but this rushing attack has really taken pressure off of Keenum.

    Michael Hayes found the end zone and ran for over 60 yards, and sophomore Charles Sims ran for 44 as well. Though they fell short of their average, the ground game has been one of the more underrated units on this squad.

    The most underrated unit overall has to be the Cougars' defense. They may not get a ton of respect because they lack the beef and athleticism in the front four, but Derrick Mathews, Sammy Brown and Marcus McGraw could play linebacker for the majority of BCS teams. The defense forced two more turnovers against SMU, which makes the total 22 for the year.

    Tulsa and Southern Miss are the only teams remaining that can prevent Houston from running the table and appearing in a BCS Bowl.

Winner: Arkansas Razorbacks

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    Arkansas 44, Mississippi State 17

    Is there a hotter team right now than this Pig Sooey offense?

    Tyler Wilson and the Razorback playmakers have been going bonkers this season in SEC play (outside Bama), and the weapons they have are nearly impossible to stop.

    A team cannot double every target down the field, and we have often seen receivers haul in passes without being touched as they cruise into the end zone.

    Wilson finished with 365 yards and three touchdowns, zero interceptions. Dennis Johnson found a ton of room to run, gashing the Bulldogs for 98 yards.

    Greg Childs hauled in three passes, which actually was his first multiple catch game since Oct. 8 against Auburn (4-44). Childs is just one of the several playmakers that can torch you via the air.

    Next up will be the top-ranked Bayou Bengals next Friday at Baton Rouge in what should be a thriller.

Winner: Michigan Wolverines

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    Michigan 45, Nebraska 17

    Denard Robinson and the Wolverines offense hung 418 yards on the Husker defense, and they made it look way too easy at times. 

    The Wolverines ran for 238 yards—no, that is not a misprint. Fitzgerald Toussaint has been one of the many elite backs in the Big Ten the past few weeks, as he totaled 138 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Robinson also ended up having a fine game, throwing for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines' receivers may be asked to make a few more plays against a Buckeye front seven that will beg them to throw it more often. 

    A victory at home over Ohio State and it may be time to open a bag of Tostitos for a possible Fiesta Bowl appearance. 

Loser: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Michigan 45, Nebraska 17

    This was a game that the Huskers needed to keep their division hopes alive and slight BCS hopes, but both were quickly dashed out of the gate in the second half, as Nebraska fumbled on the opening kick.

    Three crucial fumbles total is what did the Huskers in, but they were also killed in the time of possession (41-19).

    Taylor Martinez did not struggle throwing the ball, rather his receivers couldn't catch a cold. Luckily, they do have a high school stud by the name of Jordan Westerkamp to help their woes, but this Huskers team lives and dies by their running game.

    Rex Burkhead toted the rock ten times for only 36 yards, and Martinez had just 49 yards. Those are both way below their season average.

    Nebraska has fallen quickly to a three-loss team, but they can still bounce back against Iowa and their bowl game (Insight, Gator, Ticket City or Texas).

Loser: Clemson Tigers

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    NCST 37, Clemson 13

    The Clemson Tigers were expected to just show up and beat the NCST Wolfpack even without their superstar wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

    Oops!

    The game did not go as planned, with a few awful turnovers that ultimately did the Tigers in before it was halftime. Watkins was only going to be used in case of an emergency and in a game that did not matter (Tigers clinched division last week), he never saw the field.

    Tajh Boyd has been reeling without a healthy Watkins, and it has killed the team. Boyd threw two picks and no touchdowns and the team combined to turn it over four times. Most of them put the defense in brutal situations.

    Clemson better be able to bounce back and prepare for South Carolina next weekend before they will likely take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in the ACC Championship.

    If Dabo and the boys cannot rally the troops, these Tigers could have as many as four or five losses when the bowl season comes to an end.

Winner: North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    NCSU 37, Clemson 13

    Nobody was picking the Pack to pull off the upset, let alone keep it close.

    However, they shut the naysayers up and are now just one win away from becoming bowl elgiible with a huge upset over an overrated Top 10 Tigers squad (Note: Only two wins against FCS qualify as one win).

    It helped that NCSU did not have to worry about covering freshman sensation Sammy Watkins, but Clemson seemed to rely too heavily on its passing game to become a successful squad.

    The defense has had its ups and downs, but I tried to warn everyone that this Clemson team was taking a very slippery slope. Tajh Boyd was struggling as a starting signal caller, and without a running game, the Tigers were dead meat.

    To make matters worse, they could not avoid turning it over in the first half. The defense was on the field too much and they could not find an answer for stopping Mike Glennon and this determined NCSU squad.

    It is about time we give the Wolfpack a ton of credit since they took a beating by losing Russell Wilson to Wisconsin. Most (including myself) had written this team off, and they have done nothing but played solid football down the stretch this season.

    Maybe Tom O'Brien's squad won't be playing in a gorgeous bowl game, but just playing during the holidays (they must beat Maryland) has to be quite the treat when they were once reeling at 2-3.

Winner: Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Penn State 20, Ohio State 14

    All of a sudden, the Nittany Lions have a shot to play in the first ever Big Ten Championship despite all of the disheartening distractions the players have had to deal with.

    Penn State still needs to win at Camp Randall Stadium to have any shot at going to Pasadena, but this team has never won pretty.

    They are an ugly team offensively at times, but they came through and hit a few home runs offensively with the dynamic duo of Stephfon Green and Silas Redd making up their running game. 

    If the Penn State defense can limit the hottest running back in the nation (Montee Ball), I would not be shocked if the Nittany Lions have a chance to pull off the upset (possible, not likely).

Winner: Georgia Bulldogs

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    Georgia 19, Kentucky 10

    For the first time since 2005, Mark Richt and his Bulldogs will be playing in the SEC Championship Game. Against who, you ask?

    Well, we have a few crucial games still left in the SEC since Arkansas travels to Baton Rouge against the LSU Tigers, and don't forget the Iron Bowl could play a huge role in deciding who wins the SEC West.

    Georgia struggled mightily offensively, but they did not need much help because their defense continues to be as dominant as any unit in the country, as it has the past several weeks. 

    They are expected to get back Richard Samuel IV in time for their SEC title game, but they rested Isiah Crowell a bit as well, since Brandon Harton toted it 23 times for 101 yards. He did however cough it up twice as both Kentucky and Georgia turned it over four times.

    The UGA receivers are extremely dangerous and whoever they play in the SEC Championship, they will test the opposing secondary thanks to Aaron Murray at quarterback. 

Loser: Oregon Ducks

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    The Ducks had a slight chance of sneaking in the BCS National Championship if they could make a statement against the Trojans.

    Well, they made a statement alright but it was not exactly the one they were looking for. LaMichael James did not look like his normal self after getting dinged on a fumble, but the big plays were just not that there in the running game.

    De'Anthony Thomas has turned into one of the best big play runners in the country in all facets of the game (special teams, rushing, receiving). 

    However, that does not help you defend Matt Barkley, who absolutely torched the Ducks secondary. Barkley threw four passing touchdowns on top of over 250 yards.

    The temperatures were frigid in Eugene (30s), but that is no excuse for Darron Thomas and this offense to have such an awful first half. The defense was carved up by Robert Woods and Marqise Lee all night long. 

    Lastly, the Ducks were playing from behind all night and the turnovers on top of not having LaMichael James out on the field certainly crushed the Ducks' dreams for a BCS National Championship.

Winner: USC Trojans

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    The Trojans cannot play in the Pac-12 Championship or a play in a bowl game, but they are certainly upsetting the Oregon Ducks.

    This very well should be Matt Barkley's season but all of a sudden Lane Kiffin is building back the winning tradition we saw not too long ago with Pete Carroll.

    If the Trojans start to clean house inside and outside the state of LA, I would not doubt that Southern Cal gets back to national prominence. 

Loser: Oklahoma Sooners

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    In one of the craziest game of the season, the Oklahoma Sooners were officially knocked out of the BCS National Championship race after suffering the program's first ever loss to Baylor, 45-38.

    That is right Baylor had never beaten the Sooners before and Oklahoma was ranked fifth for a reason. They had an explosive offense led by Landry Jones, but the loss of Ryan Broyles in terms of a leadership role on top of on the field production just killed this squad.

    Oklahoma will likely way outside the top ten and they need to beat Oklahoma State to have any chance of playing in a BCS Bowl. The loser of Bedlam will drop to somewhere in the teens of the BCS, and of course the winner will win the Big 12 and get an invite to the BCS Fiesta Bowl.

    Still, my goodness I have not caught my breath and who knows if Stanford can pull away or else we could see as many as five teams in the top ten to fall within 24 hours.

Winner: Robert Griffin III

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    No offense to the Baylor Bears team, but RGIII is the entire team!

    Kendall Wright is one fine receiver, but Robert Griffin just put one of the greatest performances against a top five in a quite a while.

    Griffin threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns while he ran for 72 yards, add that up to a whole 551 yards. The Baylor Bear signal quarterback may have risen atop and perhaps won the Heisman in a wide open season for the prestigious award.

    The Bears by the way also improved their record to 7-3 and have an outside chance f playing in the Holiday Bowl now.