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31 Oct

And Then There Were… Fewer Take II

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I don’t think anyone was surprised to see Oklahoma take down previously undefeated Kansas State this past weekend. As a result, the Sooners moved right back up a few spots in the polls. In the “what the heck?” department Texas Tech (who was last seen whipping up on the Sooners) lost at home to formerly winless Iowa State! 😯 The Cyclones destroyed the Red Raiders 41-7 for their first conference victory. Go figure. As is often said, that’s why they line up and play the game. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.

On the other hand, I am guessing that at least a few folks saw this one in the cards: Georgia Tech handed Clemson their first loss of the season. It certainly didn’t take long for folks to dig up the statistics about the last time Clemson started 8-0 only to lose their first game to – you guessed it – Georgia Tech. Coach Lou Holtz was short and concise in his explanation as to why the Tigers lost. He said (and I paraphrase) you don’t defend the triple option, you attack it. If you wait for the play to come to you, you’re always guessing wrong. You take a defender and assign them to each offensive player on the option. The option thrives on having more offensive options than defensive players, you have to take that away.

Of course it’s easy to say that from the comfort of a TV analyst’s chair. 🙂

The BCS standings rewarded Stanford for their triple overtime victory over USC. Stanford jumped over Boise State as well as Clemson, leaving them at #4 (behind LSU, Alabama, and Oklahoma State). I was flipping back and forth between the Stanford/USC game and the Ohio State/Wisconsin thriller. What a great night it was for college football fans, with two games coming down to the wire and in this case going beyond.

Speaking of Oklahoma State, the Cowboys took down Baylor fairly easily, and next week they get Kansas State. I don’t anticipate the Cowboys losing that one, and Texas Tech’s aura is certainly tarnished. The Bedlam game looms large for the end of the season, especially since it is the final game of the season. If the Cowboys lose to the Sooners, I think we’ll see that Oklahoma will jump Oklahoma State in the standings. If neither team loses any of their other games, that probably puts the Sooners into the BCS game over the Cowboys. As is often said (wait, did I say that already?) it’s better to lose early than late, because there’s no time to recover.

Over in the Big 10 Wisconsin suffered yet another late game defeat when Ohio State managed a long touchdown with only twenty seconds left on the clock. Wisconsin had a few plays to try to come back (they had previously scored two quick touchdowns, I think within 3 minutes) to take a lead. Even a defensive penalty as time expired wasn’t enough to save the Badgers, however, and they now find themselves looking up at division leader Penn State who remained undefeated in conference play. Talk about lack of respect; Penn State has lost only to Alabama so far this year, and even if they have been winning ugly they have been winning. Then again, none of the teams Penn State has defeated are ranked, so perhaps they have not been tested. They close out with games against Nebraska, Ohio State, and at Wisconsin, so I don’t expect them to stay at one-loss for the rest of the season.

Michigan State lost to Nebraska this weekend, and as a result the Cornhuskers are now the top-ranked Big 10 team. This is what makes ranking teams so hard… Nebraska throttled the Spartans 24-3 a week after the Spartans dropped Wisconsin from the ranks of the undefeated teams with a last second touchdown, just a few weeks after the Badgers absolutely killed Nebraska 48-17. Who’s really the better team? Who can say? At this point Wisconsin won’t even play for the league championship game as they’re two behind the Lions, tied with Ohio State and Purdue with a 2-2 division record. Nebraska, Michigan State, and Michigan are all tied in their division, but Nebraska owns the tie-breaker over State, and State has the advantage over the Wolverines.

The same thing could happen in the SEC if LSU takes out Alabama and then loses to Arkansas to end the season. 😯 Arkansas did manage to eek out a victory at Vanderbilt, but they’ve looked less than overwhelming for the last two weeks. Georgia defeated Florida but still has to hope for South Carolina to stumble at least once in league play, otherwise the Gamecocks will return to the SEC title game for the second year in a row. To be honest, I know the odds makers have set up Alabama as a four point favorite, but I think LSU can win this game. LSU is playing with a huge amount of confidence, they’ve had the week off to rest (Alabama has also had the week off), but I think LSU has played better throughout the season. They have owned the turnover battle, and they’ve won games on offense, defense, and special teams. It would not surprise me if LSU won the game this Saturday. The wildcard for me is coaching: I think Les Miles brings a certain unpredictability aspect to the game, so if Sabin can get into his head that could impact the outcome of the game. I think as long as LSU plays to win rather than playing not to lose, they have a chance. The other variable that’s hard to quantify is the home field for Bama.

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