A LOOK BACK AT WEEK 11
Nothing changed at the top of the playoff standings as Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame all cruised to victory. The rest of the top ten featured four stunning upsets. I was in Palo Alto to watch the Oregon Ducks stun Stanford 38-36, an outcome I had predicted here on my blog. I was surprised at how easily Oklahoma dismantled Baylor on Saturday. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw his name into the Heisman race with another impeccable performance, throwing for 270 yards along with four scores. LSU continued to suffer from a hangover since there loss to Alabama, dropping their second straight to Arkansas. The Razorbacks totally outplayed the Tigers. The Utah Utes also fell out of the top 10, dropping an overtime decision on the road at Arizona. The loss was compounded by the loss of running back Devontae Booker to injury.
Pac-12 versus SEC
It seems like every week, I get asked about the difference between the Pac-12 and SEC. I think each year, you have to look at the body of work. I fully believe that the Pac-12 is the stronger conference this year. I know the pundits will call me out on this, but let me give you some, facts that will support my claim.
The biggest difference is easy to see. The Pac-12 plays a nine game conference schedule, compared to only eight from the SEC. Thus, Pac-12 teams have a tougher slate of games! Every SEC school, with the exception of Florida, has an FCS opponent on the schedule. There are five Pac-12 schools who do not face an FCS foe. Remember the SEC has 14 teams compared to the 12 of the Pac-12. The SEC has played only eight non-conference games against Power 5 schools, compiling a 6-2 mark. The Pac-12 has played ten, Power 5 teams and are only 5-5 in such games. However, of those five losses, four were against teams currently ranked in the top 20!
FIGHTING FOR BOWL ELIGIBILITY
There are 16 teams this week, that will be looking for that magical sixth win, to become bowl eligible. Most notably, Auburn, Arizona State, Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia, and Virginia Tech all will be looking for that ticket to the bowl season.
Congratulations go out to Appalachian State and Georgia Southern who are bowl eligible and have never been to a bowl game! Temple and Southern Mississippi are also bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. The New Mexico Lobo’s will also go bowling for the first time since 2007!
FUN NOTES FROM WEEKK 11
Oklahoma State rallied late to knock off Iowa State, 35-31, for their fifth second-half comeback of the season. Oklahoma State is now the only team in college football this season to come back twice from a 17 point deficit.
Wake Forest has topped 1,000 yards rushing on the season after racking up 121 against Notre Dame. That’s more than double the Deacons’ total last year.
Ryan Switzer of North Carolina recorded his seventh career punt return for a touchdown Saturday, putting him just one shy of the NCAA record.
Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot had another 100 yard rushing day. The junior extended his streak to 15 games in a row, and in the process also moved into third place on the school’s all-time rushing list with 3,565 yards.
Jake Rudock became the first quarterback in the Big Ten to throw for more than 400 yards with six touchdown passes since Kyle Orton did it for Purdue in 2004. Rudock is the only guy to do it on the road in the last 20 years.
Tennessee’s defense deserves a tip of the cap for never allowing the North Texas to cross the Vols’ 45-yard line and holding them scoreless for the first time since 2011.
Iowa has scored 30 points or more in four consecutive conference games, the first time it has accomplished that feat in school history.
Iowa is 10-0 for the 1st time in school history.
Navy’s Keenan Reynolds broke the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns, upping his total to 81 with four scores as No. 20 Navy beat SMU 55-14
TOP GAMES THIS WEEKEND
No. 8 TCU (9-1) AT No. 7 OKLAHOMA (9-1) I wish this game would have been played three weeks ago, before the Horned Frogs lost stud receiver Josh Doctson. Injuries have continued to mount for the Frogs, who might now be without quarterback Trevone Boykin. If Boykin does play, they will have a chance to match the Sooners point for point. The Sooners in my mind are playing the best football in the Big 12, and perhaps the country! Quarterback Baker Mayfield has quietly joined the Heisman race with recent performances in victories over Baylor, Texas Tech and Iowa State. Frogs are just to banged up to hang in this one. SOONERS CIRCLE THE WAGONS 42-27.
No.10 BAYLOR (8-1) AT No.6 OKLAHOMA STATE (10-0) This is another key game, where injuries to the quarterbacks might well decide the outcome. Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham left last weeks game with Oklahoma with a back injury. He is expected to play, but just how effective will he be? The Cowboys will surely bring the heat, as they are fifth in the nation with 35 sacks! The Cowboys are in the driver seat for the Big 12 title at 10-0. A win here at home will set up a huge game next week with in state rival Oklahoma. The Bears should have the edge on the ground, where they average a Big 12-best 6.3 yards per carry and 292.2 per game behind junior Shock Linwood. This will be the difference. BEARS GRIND OUT VICTORY ON THE GROUND 45-42.
No.9 MICHIGAN STATE (9-1) AT No.3 OHIO STATE (10-0) Ohio State is riding a 23-game win streak, but the Buckeyes have yet to face a truly significant challenge in 2015. “We haven’t really been tested,” left tackle Taylor Decker said. “This is a huge gauge for us going into some of the biggest games at the end of the season, because this is the biggest game we’ve played yet this season.” Indeed it will be, but will the Buckeyes face a healthy quarterback in Connor Cook? Cook injured his shoulder last week and was forced to leave the game. “My shoulder is good,” Cook said Tuesday. “I’m going to be ready to go so there is no issue with that.” I think the Buckeyes have edges in every offensive and defensive category. Buckeyes will be motivated to show the country just how good they are. BRUTUS HAS HIS WAY, 42-23.
No.15 LSU (7-2) AT No.22 MISSISSIPPI (7-3) Word out of Baton rouge has Les Miles possibly losing his job if the Tigers lose this game. The Tigers were a contender for the national title just two weeks ago. Mississippi was among the darlings of college football in September after a stunning win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers have star running back Leonard Fournette and a physical defense. The Rebels have the best passing offense in the SEC. Both of these squads are coming off losses to Arkansas. The Rebels had a week off to lick their wounds and I think that could be a key factor here. The Rebels also have more to play for, as they still have slim hopes of winning the SEC West. THIS GAME WILL GO BACK AND FORTH, REBS HOLD ON 36-33.
No.24 USC (7-3) AT No.23 OREGON (7-3) Believe it or not, USC controls their own destiny in the Pac-12 South. If they beat the Ducks, then handle UCLA, they will play in the title game. Oregon has re-emerged as perhaps the Pac-12’s most dangerous team with Adams back healthy, winning four straight since his return. The Ducks are averaging 42.3 points and 538.5 total yards during that streak, and they followed a 777-yard outburst against Cal by gaining 436 versus Stanford. The Ducks have unleashed a stable of running backs during their hot streak, wearing down their opponents. The Trojans have won four straight, and are playing their best football of the season. The Trojans weakness is their inability to stop the run, which plays right into the hands of the Ducks. The last time these two met was in 2012, a 62-51 Duck victory. MORE OF THE SAME HERE, QUACK ATTACK 54-51.
No.12 MICHIGAN (8-2) AT PENN STATE (7-3) The Wolverines needed two overtimes to knock off Indiana last weekend. I wonder how focused they will be with Ohio State on the docket next weekend. Penn State has had a week off to get healthy and focused for this game. Both teams have stellar defensive units that rank among the best in the Big 10. This game will be a defensive battle that will come down to which quarterback makes more plays in Jake Rudock versus Christian Hackenberg. NITTANY LIONS ROAR 16-13.
PICK SIX—SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS, SIX PICKS
MEMPHIS AT TEMPLE—Tigers snap two game losing skid, DROP OWLS 35-28
BUFFALO AT AKRON—Winner gets bowl eligible, ZIPS ZIP 34-24
ARIZONA AT ARIZONA STATE— Critical battle of in state rivals, DEVILS BEDEVIL WILDCATS 42-30
UCLA AT UTAH—No Devontae Booker equals no win, BRUINS 31-20
NEVADA AT UTAH STATE—Big game for Aggies bowl hopes, AGGIES 34-28
NORTH CAROLINA AT VIRGINIA TECH—Last home game for Frank Beamer, TECHSTERS COME UP JUST SHORT 45-38
SEASON RESULTS TO DATE
KEY GAMES 37-18
PICK SIX 43-22
UPSET EXPRESS STRAIGHT 6-5 SPREAD 7-4