Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week 12: WTF just happened?

Iowa State?!? Really?!? Seriously. Oklahoma State just blew it. An offense that had been putting up 50 points a game against even respectable defenses got held to 24 by an Iowa State defense that was 84th in the country in scoring. Okie State also blew a 17-point second-half lead by not scoring for the final 27 minutes, which is hard to believe even after having watched it. Efficiency was a problem: 511 regulation yards should not equal 24 points. Four turnovers (not including a turnover on downs and the overtime pick) will do that. It should also be noted that Oklahoma State's defense -- which has been pretty mediocre but always good enough this year -- gave up a ridiculous 518 yards in regulation to a team that had almost 100 fewer (and 13 points) last week against Kansas. It was a wholesale collapse no less bizarre than Oklahoma's WTF moment against Texas Tech last month. On the flip side, Iowa State has a weird knack for winning games against teams that rack up a billion yards and then turn it over like whoa at the worst possible times, which leads to Paul Rhoads doing awesome things ... like this:

I love it.

USC Y U NO BOWL ELIGIBLE: I'm so glad I spent the last week telling people Oregon is better than Alabama. Gack. I've never really felt like this year's Oregon offense has been quite as consistently dominant as last year's, but it hadn't mattered much until whatever that was. The "but but 35 points" thing is a little misleading; Oregon had two offensive touchdowns and about 300 total yards heading into the fourth quarter. LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and DeAnthony Thomas finished with a combined 32 carries for 86 yards. Monte Kiffin FTW. Ridiculous factoid of the week: This was Chip Kelly's first-ever loss against a team that played the week before. Absurd. Matt Barkley was also awesome, going 25 for 36 for 323 yards with four touchdowns and one pick. He'd be a legitimate Heisman candidate if anybody actually cared about USC this year. Speaking of which, USC is a pretty good team. It's crazy to think how close they are to being undefeated (basically a couple red-zone turnovers against ASU and one freakin' play against Stanford) and how many hilariously entertaining arguments we could be having about a hypothetically unbeaten USC right now given the state of the top five. As for Oregon, the national title hopes are officially gone since people overreact and do things like drop Oregon behind Stanford (way to look at the big picture, voters). Destination: Rose Bowl, where they'll beat a probably-not-that-good Big Ten champ by three touchdowns.

Baylor. Oklahoma. Wow: I don't even know what to say here. Game of the year? Maybe. Robert Griffin III is indisputably spectacular. Line: 21 of 34 for 479 yards with four touchdowns and no picks. He also had 18 carries for 72 yards, including a clutch 24-yard scramble with about 30 seconds left to get Baylor across midfield and set up this:

Ice water, veins, etcetera. Why can't this guy get some Heisman love? Landry Jones was pretty good too, finishing 36 of 51 for 447 yards but with no touchdowns. The reason: Oklahoma has discovered the modern-day Gator Heavy with Blake Bell ...

... and ran the crap out of it against Baylor. Bell finished with five carries and four touchdowns (lol). There were a combined 1,221 yards of total offense. The last minute was also ridiculously entertaining: Oklahoma scores to get within one, lines up to go for two with Bell at QB, gets a false start and then kicks the extra point. Baylor then tries to run out the clock; Oklahoma calls timeout. So Baylor sends everybody deep, at which point Griffin does his scrambly thing to do his throwy thing. Oklahoma then botches the kick return, which usually features somebody, like, picking up the ball instead of letting it lie on the field until the other team recovers. So ... the stakes have been lowered just a bit for the Bedlam game: Winner gets the Big 12 title, loser gets (probably) the Alamo Bowl. Commence the stupid opinion pieces about how Bob Stoops should be fired if he ever loses a game.

Most ridiculous play in the history of ever: This deserves its own heading purely for RGIII's reaction.


Nice job, Clemson: I don't understand how Clemson got dominated by NC State. Like ... what???? NC State is 6-5 but just a notch above "bad" -- the record is a joke considering two of those wins were against FCS teams and one was against Central Michigan -- which explains this quote from Tom O'Brien:
"I really have no explanation for what just happened," O'Brien said with a smile.
Again, that's from the winning coach. Tajh Boyd threw no touchdown passes and two picks while Andre Ellington finished with a whopping nine carries for 28 yards, which resulted in Clemson not scoring a touchdown until the final 90 seconds of a game against a middle-of-the-ACC defense giving up about 25 PPG. It make-a no sense-a. Clemson is now a loss to South Carolina away from finishing 9-3 after an 8-0 start and a loss in the ACC title game away from finishing 9-4 overall. Has a coach ever started 8-0 and gotten fired? Dabo Swinney might give it a run. He also might get a 10-year contract extension if he actually wins an ACC championship, which is still very possible given that the title-game opponent will be either a decent Virginia team playing way over its head or a good Virginia Tech team that Clemson beat by 20 in Blacksburg about six weeks ago.

Penn State is slightly better than Ohio State: Remarkably, Ohio State could have won the Leaders East Division by beating Penn State and Michigan. That obviously can't happen now. As usual, 20 points against Ohio State = victory because the OSU offense is a tire fire that couldn't put up 100 yards passing if you spotted them 50 and played the entire game with goal-line personnel. Matt McGloin finished 10 for 21 for 88 yards and a pick and was still the better passer Saturday, which is both hilarious and pathetic. The Ohio State running game has definitely come around since Dan Herron came back and Jim Bollman realized that Braxton Miller just can't throw, but defenses aren't totally stupid (unless Greg Robinson is the coordinator) and will make OSU run the ball 50 times to get 200 yards. Tom Bradley definitely isn't stupid. That's the only possible explanation for a team that's 106th in scoring being 9-2. Speaking of which, Saturday's game at Wisconsin will decide the division. I'm pulling for Wisconsin solely because a Penn State-Michigan State title game would be the most unwatchable title game in the history of title games. Michigan State has already won the Legends West and is in line to either get killed by Oregon in the Rose Bowl or Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl.

Houston keeps winning: Houston is now 11-0 and hasn't even come close to cracking my top 10 this year. The reason: I don't think they're one of the 10 best (or even 20 best) teams in the country. But I will give 'em some credit for spanking SMU 37-7 and holding a legitimately dangerous offensive team to 263 yards. It was probably Houston's best all-around win of the year ... and therein lies the problem. The thing that Boise and TCU always had on everybody was this: They'd beat the few good teams they played and then destroy the mediocre teams in their conferences. Houston has barely beaten teams like Louisiana Tech and UTEP and hasn't played a legitimately good team yet (no, UCLA is not good). The passing game is flat-out dominant and would put up some yards on anybody, but everything else is very meh, especially the defense. I guess what I'm saying is that Houston looks more like 2007 Hawaii than a vintage Boise State. We'll probably get a chance to find out in the Sugar Bowl unless a pretty good Tulsa team ends the argument this week.

A banner week for the SEC: A schedule-related joke would be easy but unnecessary given the actual performances. Auburn led Samford (and Sons) by five at the start of the fourth quarter before pulling away, Florida fell behind Furman 22-7 and led 39-32 (nice defense) heading into the fourth quarter, South Carolina needed 21 second-half points to pull away from The Citadel (previously 3-7) and Alabama led Georgia Southern 31-21 late in the third quarter. If you're gonna play FCS teams, you might wanna actually, like, beat them by a lot. And no, Michigan has never played an FCS team. Never.

Kansas is so, so awful: You already know this. Texas A&M just confirmed it by going up 44-0 at halftime and strolling to a 61-7 win that could have been way worse since the starters were yanked with 12 minutes left in the third quarter. For all the cap I've been giving the Kansas defense, take a look at the offense's impressive performance against a fairly average A&M defense: punt, safety, punt, fumble, interception, fumble, punt, punt punt, missed field goal (woo!), turnover on downs, touchdown (!!!). Pathetic. Remember when everybody wanted Turner Gill?

Arizona State is in meltdown mode: Losing to UCLA was kinda understandable since UCLA isn't terrible and it was a close road game that came down to a last-second field goal. It happens. Losing to Washington State? Awful. Losing at home to an Arizona team with one real win this year? Awfuler. Arizona finally put a decent performance together for the first time since the UCLA game, but it shouldn't have mattered. What's really sad is that a win over Cal probably still sends ASU to the conference title game since UCLA is gonna lose to USC and fall into a three-way tie (with ASU and Utah) that ASU wins because of its divisional record. I can't see Dennis Erickson keeping his job; he's 21-26 over his last four years, and this is an upperclassman-heavy team that had an air-hockey-smooth path to the division title and 10 wins and is now sitting at 6-5 with a losable game left to play. If that's the best-case scenario under Erickson, some new scenarios need to be introduced. This program is better than annually irritating 6-6 finishes.

How exciting: Miami 6, South Florida 3. Oh yeah.

Totally bizarre ending of the week: I've got a separate post on Tennessee drifting around in my partially awake brain, but this game-ending play goes here for its weirdness value:

You might have noticed the play being blown dead when Eric Johnson stumbled at about his own 25-yard line. The officials reviewed it for about five minutes, realized they screwed up and came back with "whatever, let's call it a touchdown." That's a totally incorrect application of the rules -- the SEC even issued an apology -- but I'm OK with it in this case since the whistle had no effect on a play that was obviously gonna be a touchdown.

Game of the Week: Pick your favorite between Oregon-USC and Oklahoma-Baylor. I'm going with the latter for pure entertainment value and the craziness of the last minute. I'd also like to thank ESPN3 for allowing me to watch the complete versions of three games that happened at the exact same time. Jackpot.

Player of the Week: RGIII. The guy is ridiculous. If Baylor were Texas, the Heisman race would be over.

Post-Week 12 top 10: As much as I hate the idea of Gary Danielson hyperventilating for the next six weeks, there's no question about the top two anymore. LSU and Alabama should play for the national title. After that, I refuse to bump Arkansas and Virginia Tech ahead of teams like Oregon just because Oregon lost more recently. Call me stubborn if you want.

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. Oklahoma State
5. Oklahoma
6. Stanford
7. USC (as of right now, I'd pick USC to beat any of the lower-ranked teams on this list)
8. Boise
9. Arkansas
10. Virginia Tech


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