Chaos reigns! Two really-not-so-surprising upsets highlighted the weekend. In Ames, IA (Iowa State beating then-No. 2 Oklahoma State) and in Eugene, OR (USC stomping Oregon) has put three SEC teams in the top slots in the BCS poll…LSU, Alabama and, yes, friends…like I’ve been saying since pre-season, Arkansas. What a weekend…
Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp reacts after missing a field goal during the final minutes that would have sealed a victory for the Pokes. Unfortunately for them, Iowa State went on to win in overtime, ending their chances for a BCS title game.
1. Tragedy at Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Friday morning we learned of the tragic plane crash that took the lives of OSU women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and his assistant, Miranda Serna. It seems unreal that these two people (plus two others) were lost the same way that program lost ten members of their men’s basketball program in 2001 when a plane crashed leaving Boulder, CO on the way back to Stillwater, OK in a snowstorm. Absolutely unreal. The event, in my opinion, took a lot of life out of the Cowboys football team Friday night. Not surprising, but it was a shame that the Pokes had to play a fired-up Iowa State team that night.
Unfortunately, it seems like the college sports world has become a darker place, where we used to look for brightness. On Sunday, Arkansas redshirt tight end Garrett Uekman was found dead in his dorm room. He was 19. Meanwhile, at Saturday’s Harvard-Yale game, 30-year-old Nancy Barry of Salem, MA, was killed at a tailgate when the driver of a U-Haul carrying beer kegs accelerated after turning into the area.
All this coming after two weeks of us hearing the ugly news about Jerry Sandusky and how Penn State‘s reputation, and Joe Paterno‘s, has been forever linked. Wouldn’t it be nice if sports was immune to the ugliness the world presents?
2. The U is a joke. That’s right, I’ll say it, if no one else will. They have announced a self-imposed ban on playing in a bowl game this year. Their sterling record – 6-5 following an ugly 6-3 win at South Florida on Saturday – would probably get them into a “terrific” bowl game…Music City, Independence or Military. My thought is if the Canes were 8-3 or 9-2 and looking at a bigger bowl, this would not have happened. C’mon Man…we’re NOT STUPID.
Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg (80) makes a 12-yard gain against Mississippi State defensive backs Wade Bonner (7) and Johnthan Banks.
3. Arkansas could end up in the BCS National Championship game. After nearly a full season, the Hogs are hitting on all cycles. Despite the loss of their best player, Knile Davis, before the season even started, the Razorbacks have been peaking, and yes, probably looking ahead to Friday afternoon when they travel to Baton Rouge to play No. 1 LSU. In their last three games, Arkansas has throttled South Carolina (44-28), Tennessee (49-7) and on Saturday, Mississippi State (44-17). I would feel very strongly in my opinion that if the LSU game was being played in the NFL-like stadium in Fayetteville, LSU would be upset. However, the Hogs will be on the road where they were routed by Alabama and struggled to beat Ole Miss (29-24) and Vanderbilt (31-28). Who will I pick? Find out on Wednesday.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III reacts to a Terrance Ganaway touchodwn over Oklahoma. Griffin led the Bears to a stunning last-second victory, ending the Sooners' BCS title hopes.
4. The Heisman race is heating up. Robert Griffin III, Baylor‘s outstanding quarterback, has put up ridiculous numbers all season. The problem is, Baylor is not on the national radar, so you haven’t really been thinking about him. Last week, playing the then-No. 5 ranked Oklahoma Sooners, who were maybe looking ahead to Bedlam, he was spectacular. With 51 seconds left and the game tied at 38, he led his team down the field with runs of 22 and eight yards to keep the drive alive before throwing a game-winning 34-yard pass to Terrence Williams in the far corner of the end zone with just eight seconds left in the game. He finished with 562 yards of offense. Only one team (Texas Tech earlier this year) has gained more than that against the Sooners during Bob Stoops’ tenure. Griffin (21-for-34 for 479 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions) had a fantastic game.
On the season, Griffin has now completed 72.9 percent of his passes for 3,572 yards, 33 touchdowns and only five interceptions, while rushing for 550 yards and five scores. His 191.7 efficiency rating would shatter Colt Brennan‘s FBS season record (186.0) though he’s second now behind Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson (199.3). Wilson has attempted 105 fewer passes.
Wilson is another candidate, and I have written about him before. In fact, if not for a Hail Mary pass by Michigan State, the Badgers might very well be in the BCS title talks.
And don’t forget Matt Barkley of USC, who led his Trojans to a signature win over Oregon Saturday night. He was 26-of-34 for 323 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. On the season, he has thrown for 3,105 yards, 33 TD’s and seven interceptions.
Also, Houston’s Case Keenum, yes, I know, they have not faced a tough opponent yet…and I was less-than-impressed with their win over SMU on Saturday, has broken the NCAA career completions record (1,427), and usually passes for a ton of yardage every game.
SO, there are lots of candidates who throw the ball…but what about a runner who has had a great season? Wisconsin’s Montee Ball ran 38 times for 214 yards and two touchdowns plus he had a touchdown reception against the Illinois (ninth-ranked) defense. On the season, Ball has 30 rushing/receiving touchdowns, becoming just the fifth player in FBS history to hit that mark.
And, is anyone giving any love to Oregon’s LaMichael James, who averages more yards per game than anyone? Or Trent Richardson of Alabama, who has more national games to go.
I know they only invite five players to New York for the presentation, but they could invite any of the above. And, I would also like to see the Heisman voting done at the end of the season…Bowl games count!
Georgia linebacker Corey Campbell (42) celebrates after the Bulldogs' victory over Kentucky. Georgia won the SEC East and will play in the title game in two weeks.
5. Congratulations are in order for the following teams:
Georgia (9-2) who scratched out a 19-10 victory over Kentucky, which allowed them to secure the SEC East title, and a date with a team from the West in the SEC title game in Atlanta. Next week, they play Georgia Tech (also in Atlanta), then the title game. Now, look at this: IF Georgia manages to upset the SEC West champ, it will earn an automatic bid to the Sugar Bowl. If two out of LSU/Alabama/Arkansas still finish 1-2, the league would get a third BCS berth. Wow!
Congrats to Michigan State. They won the Legends Division of the Big Ten and will face the winner of this week’s Penn State – Wisconsin game (in Madison) for the Rose Bowl berth. Sparty routed Indiana 55-3 and are 9-2 on the season with just Northwestern remaining in the regular season. If they do lose in the title game, it could be that they watch their arch-rival Michigan go to a BCS Bowl instead.
Congrats to Virginia. With an upset win in Tallahassee (14-13), they now get to face their arch-rival, Virginia Tech, for the right to get to the ACC title game. Amazing.
With games spread all across the weekend, I will be back Wednesday with thoughts on my Top Five Games to Watch – Week 13.