Luck of the Irish, BCS Title Game TBD after top 2 teams fall
The college football gods have spoken, games have been played and now the BCS National Championship game scenarios are officially out of control. Last week the world was shocked when Johnny Football and Texas A&M upset the Alabama Crimson Tide but that was just a preview for this weekend’s shenanigans. With the Tide’s loss there were just a handful of undefeated bowl eligible teams left. Kansas State became the #1 ranked team in the nation, while the Oregon Ducks locked up the #2 spot, leaving Notre Dame at 3 on the outside looking in.
Kansas State became the front-runner after reaching the BCS’ top spot for the first time ever, hoping for their chance to play for the Universities first national championship. The last time that their football team was ranked #1 in the country was back in 1998 behind a great year by QB Michael Bishop. That K-State team would lose its last regular season game against TAMU in overtime and lost their appearance in the Alamo Bowl to the Purdue Boilermakers. Wildcats fans were hoping that this year would be different and that Heisman hopeful QB Collin Klein could lead this team to hoist the BCS Championship trophy.
Klein had been playing incredibly, both throwing and running the ball, but against a mediocre defense at best he and the Wildcats struggled. The Baylor Bears have a prolific offense and many were expecting a shootout, but the Baylor Bears squad stepped up and helped secure their universities first victory in 13 attempts against the nation’s top ranked football team. It was the first time all year that the Wildcats were down at halftime, losing 17-28, but after 2 interceptions by Klein in the 3rd quarter Baylor extended that lead to 24-52. Klein would finish the game with 3 interceptions, doubling his season total and ultimately blowing his team’s chance to fight for that crystal football in January.
For the second-straight week the nation’s top-ranked football team was knocked off but this week got even crazier when Oregon was knocked off by Stanford. This game wasn’t nearly as surprising as the Wildcats loss to a Big-12 team with a 1-5 conference record entering the game, but like the Bears head coach said “with the way we played [that night] we could have beaten the Alabama Crimson Tide.” Maybe that’s a stretch but nonetheless that was an upset of epic proportions, or it wasn’t and the Wildcats were just exposed as the frauds they may be. Either way college football fans across the nation know and have known that the Oregon Ducks are legitimate contenders.
The Stanford Cardinal are a much more respectable opponent ranking 13th in the country than the below .500 Baylor team that beat K-State. However the Ducks have had the Cardinal’s number beating them 9 out of the last 10 meetings coming into Saturday’s contest. In the last two seasons Oregon has beaten Stanford by 23 and 21 points and their offense had scored at least 35 points in the last 7 meetings between the two. Oregon was on a 13-game winning streak coming into this game, the longest in the nation, but the Cardinal front seven turned out to be too much for the prolific Ducks offense to handle.
It was a tight game the entire night and the scoring was at a minimum as the team went into halftime tied at 7-7. The Ducks would take the lead in the third quarter after De’Anthony Thomas ran it into the end-zone from 6 yards out. Stanford’s defense would lock down and Kevin Hogan did his best Andrew Luck impersonation leading his team down the field to tie the game at 14 with 1:35 left on the clock. In Overtime Oregon rushed the ball twice with Marcus Mariota before he threw an incompletion on 3rd and long from the 24.
The Ducks kicker would miss a 41 yard field goal attempt and give the Cardinal a chance for the upset. All that hope was nearly taken away when Hogan fumbled the ball on a 2nd down rush attempt but luckily they retained possession. Unwilling to risk their chances Stanford ran the ball for a short gain on 3rd down with RB Stepfan Taylor before kicker Jordan Williamson came on the field and knocked down a 37 yard game-winner. With that the #1 and #2 teams in the country had both lost and a 38-0 ass whooping by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish over Wake Forest left them as the only bowl eligible team undefeated.
Ohio State also has no losses on the season but due to NCAA sanctions they are unable to participate in any post-season bowl games. Urban Meyer must really be kicking himself right now. The Irish on the other hand have been given a great gift and a chance to play in the National Championship game for the first time since 1988. The two losses by K-State and Oregon have also opened the door for an SEC team to step in and play for a Championship. Many had questioned what it would be like without an SEC team in the BCS Title game for the first time since Texas-USC. Now we just have to determine who exactly will be playing in that game.
The scenarios go a little something like this. Notre Dame will play USC in SoCal during the final week of the season but the luck of the Irish keeps coming to fruition. The Trojans were knocked off by UCLA over the weekend but they also had star QB Matt Barkley go down with an injury. That means that Notre Dame will likely face a freshman QB under center rather than the sure-fire first round draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft. If Notre Dame pulls of that victory they are guaranteed to play in the Title game, but who would they face.
The doors have been opened for Alabama and Georgia to jump back into contention but that will all be determined by the SEC Championship game. Alabama faces a terrible Auburn team and Georgia will battle Georgia Tech, however the two will likely battle it out in Atlanta to determine who will go on to face the Irish. If for some reason ND loses to USC and the Florida wins in Tallahassee against Florida State, the Gators could face the winner of ‘Bama/Georgia. If USC wins and the Seminoles beat the gators than Oklahoma could have a chance to get in, but if the Sooners lose and K-State beats Texas than it could end up being a toss-up between ND and K-State to face the Tide or Bulldogs.
Basically what I am trying to say is this could get messy, if it already isn’t. I am thinking that the BCS Title game will likely be the Fighting Irish against the Crimson Tide and the Alabama will roll against a team that has played some good teams and won, but has struggled against some unexceptional talent. The real question is what the heck does Texas A&M have to do to get their shot and if there was ever a year that we needed an 8-team playoff this is the one.