The Top Ten Takeaways from a Terrific College Football Saturday
1. Oklahoma State dumps Baylor - We've got more on the specifics of Oklahoma State's 49-17 boat racing of Baylor here, but let's take a wide angle look at Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy's program is a Big 12-best 41-9 since 2010; the Cowboys hosted Oklahoma for a shot at the conference championship game in 2010, won the league outright in 2011 and need a win over their Bedlam rivals on December 7 to take two Big 12 crowns in three years. Three top 10 finishes in four seasons is a definite possibility. Oklahoma State doesn't have the history of Texas or Oklahoma, and it doesn't have the flash of Baylor. The Cowboys will just have to settle for being the Big 12's best program of the decade.
2. Arizona flips the script on Oregon - Many pundits called Stanford's 26-20 win over Oregon on November 7 the best win by any team in the 2013 season. If they're correct, what does that make Arizona's 42-16 demolition of Oregon? The Wildcats did to Oregon what Oregon usually does to opponents; Arizona jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led 35-9 after three. The Wildcats rode the hot hand of prolific tailback Ka'Deem Carey (48 carries, 206 yards, four touchdowns) and let quarterback B.J. Denker fill in the gaps (19-of-22 passing for 178 yards with two touchdowns, 14 carries for 102 yards).
Pulling the lens back one level, this was the game Rich Rodriguez and staff have been building toward in this the 24th game of their tenure. If Arizona is good enough to pull off this, there's no reason this same team should drop a home game to Washington State like they did one week ago. The regular season finale at Arizona State will be a great litmus test for the maturity of this program.
2a. The Sad State of Ohhhregon - On October 19, Oregon and Oregon State were a combined 12-1 and averaging a collective 54.7 points per game. Since then, the Civil War rivals are a combined 2-6, scoring 20 points or fewer six of the eight games (and another was Oregon State's 69-27 loss to Washington last night in which the Beavers trailed 62-6 in the fourth quarter). Limping into their annual meeting Saturday in Eugene, Oregon has lost two of its last three, while Oregon State has dropped four straight and looked worse in each outing.
3. Todd Graham makes good - In our interview over the summer, I asked Todd Graham about his all-encompassing obsession with the Rose Bowl. "We talk about winning and winning a Rose Bowl, that represents winning every day, every rep, every practice, every classroom, on the field, off the field, in the classroom, in the community, winning every day," he said then. Keep in mind this is at a program with two Rose Bowl appearances in 35 years as Pac-12 member, most recently in 1996.
But with a hold-on-by-the-seat-of-your-pants 38-33 win over UCLA on Saturday night, Arizona State has now clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship on December 7 against Stanford, and will win the honor of hosting the game by beating Arizona on Saturday. For a guy who (for good reason) didn't inspire a lot of trust upon his arrival, I'd imagine Graham has built a bank of belief inside the Sun Devils' locker room.
4. Mr. November - Vanderbilt beat Tennessee 14-10 on Saturday night, giving the Commodores their first back-to-back wins over Tennessee for the first time since winning six straight from 1920-26. The win moves James Franklin's team to 3-0 in November with a home game against Wake Forest coming on Saturday. Franklin has now won eight straight games in November and, depending on the bowl draw, has a fantastic shot at matching last year's remarkable 9-4 record.
5. Day of the Tiger in the SEC - They didn't take down top five teams, but LSU and Missouri put up victories worth celebrating on Saturday. THe purple and gold Tigers made Texas A&M play their game in a 34-10 whitewashing of Texas A&M. All things considered, this was LSU's best performance since beating then-No. 3 Arkansas 41-17 on November 25, 2011. Later in the day, the black and gold Tigers topped Ole Miss 24-10 to move within one win of the SEC Championship. The 10-1 Tigers out-rushed the Rebels 260-126 and held Ole Miss to its second-lowest point total of the season. After an injury-riddled 5-7 debut season, Gary Pinkel's team has adjusted to life in the SEC quite nicely in year two.
6. The most entertaining teams in the country - I wrote Friday that, though I had no idea what it would be, something would happen in both Michigan and Nebraska's games. Sure enough, each team delivered (if you want to call it that). The Wolverines blew a 21-7 halftime lead to lose 24-21 at Iowa, dropping Brady Hokes' team from 5-0 to 7-4. In State College, Nebraska rallied from a 20-17 fourth quarter deficit to beat Penn State 23-20 in overtime. Three of the 8-3 Huskers' last four games have been in doubt down to the wire.
7. Oklahoma finds an identity - It took 11 games, but Oklahoma appears to have found its identity in the post-Landry Jones, throw every down era. With redshirt freshman Trevor Knight taking the reins of the offense, the Sooners ran 52 times for 301 yards and three touchdowns while sprinkling in 21 passes for 171 yards and another score in a 41-31 win at Kansas State. Don't look now, but an eighth Big 12 title for Bob Stoops is still a possibility. Stoops also passed Barry Switzer as the all-time winningest coach in Oklahoma history on Saturday.
8(0). A pair of ACC teams hit 80 points. 80. - North Carolina threw five touchdown, ran for four, returned both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown and added a 38-yard field goal to put 80 on the scoreboard by the 3:50 mark of the third quarter en route to an 80-20 win over Old Dominion. Florida State threw for five, rushed for four and returned two interceptions for touchdowns, plus a 42-yard field goal, to beat Idaho 80-14.
9. A game too good to slip through the cracks - Navy's 58-52 triple-overtime win over San Jose State started late Friday night, but it ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning on the East coast so technically we can work it into this column. Navy quarterback Keeanan Reynolds completed 4-of-6 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown and rushed 36 times for 240 yards and an FBS-record seven touchdowns. As a team, Navy ran 62 times for 432 yards. The 7-4 Midshipmen have now won three straight and four out of five - the lone loss coming 38-34 at Notre Dame - with two weeks off to prepare for Army. Navy will also retain the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the ninth time in 11 years.
10. Rapid Fire -
- East Carolina beat N.C. State 42-28 yesterday, giving the Pirates wins over North Carolina and N.C. State in the same season for the first time in school history. The Pirates are (rightfully) thrilled.
- Duke (DUKE!) is 9-2 with a 28-21 win over Wake Forest and will play for a spot in the ACC Championship against North Carolina on Saturday.
- It's too bad the NCAA couldn't bring back the tie for one game on Saturday, because I'm not sure either Arkansas or Mississippi State really deserved to declare a winner. The Bulldogs prevailed, 24-17 in overtime.
- Addazio! The Boston College head coach has ridden his clydesdale of a running back Andre Williams to more yards by a running back since at least 2007 - 2,073 on the year and at least 250 in each his last three games - to a four-game winning streak. The Eagles are already up five wins over last year's total.
- The Iron Bowl isn't the only winner-takes-the-division game on Saturday. Both Conference USA divisional races have come down to the wire: East Carolina visits Marshall on Friday for the East Division title, and Tulane visits Rice on Saturday for the West Division crown. Bowling Green visits Buffalo on Friday with the MAC East title and a spot opposite Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship awarded to the winner.
- Congratulations to Mark Dantonio and Michigan State, earning win No. 10 and a spot opposite Ohio State in the Big Ten title game with a 30-6 defeat of Northwestern.
- Other conference title spots clinched on Saturday: Fresno State (vs. Utah State or Boise State) and Arizona State vs. Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship. The site will be determined with Arizona State's game with Arizona. Sun Devils win, Stanford heads to Tempe. They lose, and Stanford hosts Arizona State for the second time this season.
- Tim Beckman is no longer winless in Big Ten play. Illinois topped Purdue, 20-16, and the 4-7 Illini may even be favored in their season finale against 4-7 Northwestern.
- With wins by Kansas last week and Illinois this week, the longest in-conference losing streak among BCS teams now belongs to Kentucky at 15 games. The Wildcats' last SEC win came in a 10-7 triumph over Tennessee on November 26, 2011.
- Speaking of Tennessee, the Volunteers clinched their fourth straight losing season and their third consecutive bowl-less season with Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt. And everyone in Knoxville says 2014 should be worse than 2013. Say a prayer for Butch Jones.
- California concluded its 2013 season on Saturday with a 63-13 loss to Stanford. Hard to believe we're already here.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Week Awards - Week 13
Head Coach of the Week - Oklahoma State
There was no other choice. Not after Oklahoma State swarmed Baylor in every facet of the game, dominating the Bears to a 49-17 final score. Not after the Cowboys made the Bears look - gasp - average.
Oklahoma State jumped on top behind the hot hand of Clint Chelf - who completed 13 of his 14 first half passes and threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns - and then sat on the ball to the tune of 46 rushing attempts to ensure Baylor's explosive offense never got the chance to explode.
Defensive coordinator Glen Spencer produced perhaps the best game plan of the entire season, using his physically superior defensive front to bottle up Baylor's ailing running game, and then challenging and fooling Baylor receivers enough to force Bryce Petty into by far the worst game of his stellar season - 359 passing yards on 48 attempts, nearly four full yards below his nation-leading yards per attempt average. An offense that registered a paltry seven three-and-outs in its first nine games was forced into four three-and-outs by Oklahoma State.
Honorable Mention: Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Jeff Monken, Georgia Southern; Rich Rodriguez, Arizona; Todd Graham, Arizona State; Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Gary Andersen, Wisconsin; Les Miles, LSU; Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Georgia Southern
On the bright side for Florida, its passing defense rating should skyrocket after not allowing a completed pass on Saturday. Jeff Monken's Georgia Southern team threw just three passes in its 26-20 win over Florida because it brought a rushing attack to Gainesville that FBS's 15th-ranked rush defense could not solve. The Eagles rushed 54 times for 429 yards (7.9 per carry) and four touchdowns; each of those numbers represents a season-worst for Florida.
For the record, only Savannah State allowed more than the 7.9 yards per carry that the Gators surrendered.
Honorable Mention: Arizona, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Florida State, Oklahoma, Fresno State, Wyoming, Navy, San Jose State.
Defensive Staff of the Week - LSU
Turns out Johnny Superman has his own kryptonite, and it wears purple and gold. In two games now against LSU, Texas A&M's all-everything quarterback has thrown one touchdown against five interceptions and produced only 29 total points. Manziel completed less than 40 percent of his throws and, equally important, a Texas A&M running game that averages nearly 200 yards per game was never allowed to get going as the Aggies accumulated only 75 yards on 18 carries.
The most telling statistic? Ranked fifth nationally entering the day on third down, Texas A&M converted only five of its 14 chances against John Chavis' Bayou Bengals.
Add it all together and you get Texas A&M's FBS-leading 13-game streak of scoring 40 points or more ending not with a fight, but a resounding whimper.
Honorable Mention: Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Wisconsin, Duke, Stanford.
Special Teams Impact of the Week - Pittsburgh
Here's something you don't see every day - the game winning extra point block. That's what went down at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. After Syracuse scored on its first possession, the Panthers' all-everything defensive tackle Aaron Donald blocked the ensuing extra point to keep the score at 6-0. Fast forward about 57 minutes of game action later and you've got a final score of Pittsburgh 17, Syracuse 16.
The Fabulous Five: Outlook and opinion on college football's five unbeaten teams
Week 13 was an easy one for five of the six unbeaten teams. They won by scores of 49-0, 80-14, 42-14, 69-28 and 35-17.... and then there was Baylor. A school-best 9-0 start will have to be good enough for the Bears, as they will not continue on the quest for perfection.
Florida State (11-0) - Florida State set a school record with 80 points and saw next week's opponent, Florida, lose to Georgia Southern. It's safe to say the biggest threat to Florida State's path to Pasadena is the outcome of the ongoing Jameis Winston investigation, because the 'Noles aren't likely to face a worthy challenger on the field until January.
The road ahead: at Florida, ACC Championship
Ohio State (11-0) - Ohio State cruised to a 42-14 triumph over Indiana, its fourth straight win by 28 points or more. Next week's game looks like it will have the same outcome. The best news for Ohio State? Their situation gets a lot simpler from here. If Florida State or Alabama lose, the Buckeyes are in. If they don't, they're not. War Eagle.
The road ahead: at Michigan, Big Ten Championship
Northern Illinois (11-0) - The Huskies actually appeared to be in a bit of trouble on Wednesday night, trailing 10-7 at the half after its kicker missed all three of its field goal tries. Then Jordan Lynch took over. The MAC's resident Heisman candidate ran for three scores in the second half in leading a 28-7 turnaround in the final two frames.
The road ahead: vs. Western Michigan, MAC Championship
Fresno State (10-0) - Fresno State bombed away on New Mexico, firing a school-record seven touchdown passes in a 69-28 domination of New Mexico. But those seven scoring strikes weren't enough. No, not when you can do this.
The road ahead: at San Jose State, Mountain West Championship
Alabama (11-0) - You've heard of a working retirement? This was a working bye week for the Crimson Tide, beating up on Chattanooga 49-0 without breaking a sweat. Alabama now turns its full attention to the Iron Bowl To End All Iron Bowls that sits just six days away.
The road ahead: at Auburn
Prognosis on the four winless teams left in FBS
Connecticut removed itself from Goose Egg Island on Saturday with a 28-21 win at Temple on Saturday night. Win No. 1 for the Huskies came in style under interim head coach T.J. Weist, the Huskies fought back from a 21-0 halftime deficit and registered the winning score on a 59-yard interception return with 4:20 remaining.
Since 2009, only one FBS team has completed a winless season. There have been only two occasions since 2002 where two teams played an entire season without winning a game. Our four remaining winless teams have one shot apiece at avoiding the wrong kind of history.
Southern Miss (0-11) - Saturday's 42-21 loss to Middle Tennessee was the first time Southern Miss has come within three scores of an opponent since a 24-23 setback to Florida International on October 5. The season ends next Saturday at UAB. Mercifully.
The road ahead: at UAB
Miami, Ohio (0-11) - Say this for the RedHawks, they may lose every week but at least they get it out of the way early. Miami (Ohio) has played a midweek MACtion game each of the past three weeks... and lost 45-3, 24-6 and 44-7. They'll head back to a (more) regular game day next week, closing the year at Ball State on Friday.
The road ahead: at Ball State.
Hawaii (0-11) - Of the four teams still looking for a win, Hawaii is the one that doesn't belong. The Warriors dropped a 59-56 decision in overtime at Wyoming on Saturday. It was their second straight overtime loss and their fifth by seven points or less.
The road ahead: vs. Army
Georgia State (0-11) - Georgia State led Arkansas State 17-7 at the half and was within 28-27 entering the fourth, but fell 35-33. A two-point conversion with 2:13 to play could have tied the game and potentially forced overtime, but the try failed and Arkansas State expired the remaining clock.
The road ahead: vs. South Alabama
Sunday TV - Brady vs. Manning XIV
Week 12 in the NFL is here.
All times Eastern.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland - 1 p.m. - CBS
Tampa Bay at Detroit - 1 p.m. - FOX
Minnesota at Green Bay - 1 p.m. - FOX
San Diego at Kansas City - 1 p.m. - CBS
Chicago at St. Louis - 1 p.m. - FOX
Carolina at Miami - 1 p.m. - FOX
NY Jets at Baltimore - 1 p.m. - CBS
Jacksonville at Houston - 1 p.m. - CBS
Tennessee at Oakland - 4:05 p.m. - CBS
Indianapolis at Arizona - 4:05 p.m. - CBS
Dallas at NY Giants - 4:25 p.m. - FOX
Denver at New England - 8:30 p.m. - NBC
College GameDay's feature on Art Briles
In case you missed it (which, let's be honest, you probably did), College GameDay did a moving feature on Art Briles this morning. This is a story that's been told before, but not like this.
This one will leave you wondering who suddenly started chopping onions in your vicinity.
Video: 'One last time in The Shoe'
Here's the video Ohio State will show its players before today's home finale against Indiana.
What do you think?
Navy's latest edition of 'The Brotherhood' is excellent
A number of FBS schools have turned their seasons into a weekly pseudo-documentary, but none do it better than Navy's "The Brotherhood".
In the latest installment, it's Senior Day in Annapolis as 22 Midshipmen prepare to play their final game at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium last Saturday. Senior Day turned into a 42-14 win over South Alabama and victory number six for the Midshipmen clinched a spot in the Armed Forces Bowl in late December.