Mississippi State Is Good, But Not Good Enough to Beat Alabama, and May Lose Again

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 12

The former ranked #1 Mississippi State Bulldogs and their coach Dan Mullen were down 19-6 on-the-road after 3 quarters to #5 Alabama in Tuscaloosa when the Crimson Tide unleased probably “one of the greatest drives in Alabama history, according to Coach Nick Saban. The result was a 25-20 Tide victory as unbeaten Mississippi State suffered its first defeat.

The loss by Mississippi State in major college football’s 12th week confirmed what many had expected, that the Bulldogs would not continue to be unbeaten when faced with better competition. After losing to Alabama, Mississippi State’ strength of schedule was 32nd and Alabama’s was the 2nd toughest in the nation.

Mississippi State needs to seriously regroup as the Bulldogs will have to travel to Ole Miss in their season-ending game. If the Bulldogs hope to be 1 of the 4 teams in the playoff for the national championship, they will have to win out or another loss will put them out for good.

A really long list of other ranked teams in this order did not do so hot Saturday:

The 5-5 unranked Oregon State Beavers upset #5 Arizona State, 35-27, leaving Todd Graham’s Sun Devils with an 8-2 mark.

A 3-7 Kansas team gave #4 TCU all it could handle before winning 34-30, and looking really bad in the process.

The 6-5 Washington Huskies fumbled and bumbled their way to an almost victory against #14 Arizona before the Wildcats won 27-26 on a last second field goal. Husky quarterback Cyler Miles looks like a mistake ready to happen, seems brittle and afraid of his own shadow, otherwise, Washington wins this one.

A 4-6 Northwestern team needed overtime but still upset #18 Notre Dame 43-40. The Irish, now 7-3, have been giving up more points this season than layaways at Wal-Mart, and it finally caught up to them, again.

Arkansas, a pesky 5-5 and unpredictable, shut out #17 LSU 17 to zip as Les Miles Tigers just can’t make up their mind whether to win or lose—they are capable and incapable at the same time. Some call this talent not showing up.

An 8-2 Missouri team stung #24 Texas A&M 34-27, giving the Aggies their 4th loss.

Miami at home in Florida led 23-17 after 3 quarters but gave up 13 last quarter points to the #1 Florida State Seminoles and lost 30-26 as the Seminoles remained unbeaten at 10-0.

It took #23 Utah two overtimes to get past a 5-5 Stanford team, 20-17. So, just how good is Utah? Look at the handwriting on the scoreboard.

Another 5-5 team, Virginia Tech, upset #21 Duke 17-16, giving the Blue Devils their 2nd loss at 8-2.

Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes had their hands full in beating #25 Minnesota 31-24, and it looked like a 7-point victory.

So, who actually got something done this week?

Well, unbeaten Marshall (10-0) steamrolled Rice 41-14, and because of its mid-major status, will not even sniff a shot at being in the 4-team national playoffs.

#15 Georgia (8-2) tutored #9 Auburn 34-7, Georgia Tech (9-2) made #19 Clemson a believer 28-6, and #12 Michigan State beat Maryland, 37-15.

The best victory of the weekend belonged to the #20 Wisconsin Badgers and their new NCAA record-setting tailback, Melvin Gordon, soon to be known as Flash Gordon.

Gordon (Melvin, not Flash) fumbled twice and #16 Nebraska led 17-3 in the 2nd quarter before Gordon unleashed a 62-yard touchdown run, and Wisconsin scored 56 straight points as Gordon rushed for 408 total yards on 25 carries, averaging 16+ yards per carry and breaking TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson’s 14-year-old record of 406 yards. Both Wisconsin and Nebraska are now 8-2.

In other games of note, 4 unranked teams now have 8 victories:

Northern Illinois nipped Toledo 27-24 to go to 8-2, Air Force needed overtime to best Nevada 45-38 to go to 8-2, Boise State scored 3 touchdowns in the last quarter to whip San Diego State 38-29 to go to 8-2, and Utah State beat New Mexico 28-21 to go to 8-3.

For the record, #4 Oregon, #6 Baylor, #10 Ole Miss (Mississippi), #13 Kansas State, #15 UCLA and #25 Colorado State were all had a bye week.

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly About Major College Football’s 11th Week of Action

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 11

The 11th week of major college football reminded me of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, the epic Spaghetti Western directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood as Blondie (aka the Man with No Name), Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes (a ruthless mercenary), and Eli Wallach as Tuco (the fast-talking Mexican bandit).

The biggest good was #12 Baylor on-the-road spotting #15 Oklahoma a 14-3 first quarter lead and then outscoring the Sooners 45-0 in the last three quarters to win, 48-14.

Six more teams added to the good. #9 Arizona State (8-1) beat #10 Notre Dame 55-31 (the bloom has come off the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, who have been giving up too many points all season), #6 TCU staked its claim for attention by whipping #7 Kansas State 41-20, #4 Oregon (9-1) upended #17 Utah 51-27 (the Duck offense puts up points), #20 Georgia polished off unranked Kentucky 63-31, #24 Georgia Tech stomped a mud hole in unranked North Carolina 56-23, and #21 Marshall beat Southern Mississippi 63-17 (the Thundering Herd remain humble while moving their perfect record to 9-0).

The bad was #5 Alabama (8-1) outlasting #16 LSU in overtime, 20-13. Alabama will host #1 Mississippi State this week. The Crimson Tide will be sharks in the water smelling blood, so the Bulldogs had better bring their A, B, C and D game Saturday, or kiss their dream season and a national championship goodbye.

More bad followed as #14 Ohio State and Coach Urban Meyer got the monkey off their back by upsetting #8 Michigan State 49-37 on its home turf. Spartan Coach Mark Dantonio’s outstanding defense went out to lunch, stayed late and looked bad.

Two other upsets added to the bad as unranked Texas A&M looked like a military unit raiding #3 Auburn at home, knocking off the Tigers 41-38 and destroying Auburn’s national title hopes, and unranked Texas at home put a licking on #23 West Virginia 33-16. Mountaineers apparently have no business in Texas oil country.

The ugly was 6 ranked teams winning lame victories, all of whom could not beat their opponent by at least 3 touchdowns. They included #2 Florida State (9-0), #18 UCLA, #19 Arizona, #21 Clemson, #22 Duke and #25 Wisconsin.

And then there was major ugly as #1 Mississippi State (9-0) beat UT-Martin, a Double-A team in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and #11 Ole Miss beat Presbyterian, another AA team, both really pathetic at-large games for a major college team.

The new Top 4 in the 4-team Playoff Rankings are 1-Mississippi State, 2-Oregon, 3-Florida State and 4-TCU. Both unbeaten Mississippi State and Florida State are weak for unbeaten teams.

Sitting at #5 is Alabama, and Mississippi State will come calling this week. By Saturday night, there could be a new #1. Florida State travels to in-state rival Miami. Can the Hurricanes blow the Seminoles right out of the water? We will see.

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#3 Ole Miss Finally Falls to #24 LSU, 10-7, and Alabama Continues to Look Scary

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 9

Les Miles and his #24-ranked LSU Tigers are not dead yet. With LSU’s 10-7 home upset of the highly-touted and highly-ranked #3 Ole Miss (Mississippi) Rebels in major college football’s 9th week of competition, it raises the question: Who will fall next: #1 Mississippi State or #2 Florida State?

Mississippi State still has away games against #3 Ole Miss and #4 Alabama. Good luck with that. The loss by the Rebels dropped them to #7 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll, but Ole Miss is an in-state rival so you can throw out any records or rankings.

Alabama is another matter. The Crimson Tide are not Southern Mississippi, UAB, South Alabama, Texas A&M or Auburn, all teams Ole Miss has beaten to get where they are.

The #2-ranked Florida State Seminoles do not face a ranked opponent among their last 5 games against Louisville (6-2), Virginia (4-4), Miami-FL (5-3), Boston College (5-3) and Florida (3-3). Even the Florida Gators, who look pretty harmless at 3-3, have played the 4th toughest schedule in the country.

The chances of both Mississippi State (7-0) and Florida State (7-0) getting beaten somewhere along the way are good, as 5 one-loss teams have noticed—Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, Notre Dame and Michigan State.

Add to that the Marshall Thundering Herd (the only other unbeaten team at 8-0), and there are 11 more one-loss teams right behind Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, Notre Dame and Michigan State. It is going to be a sprint to the finish of the regular season.

One thing we know for sure: There are 5 SEC teams in the AP Top 25 Poll (Georgia is also 6-1), but only one will emerge as the SEC champion, making it is a lock to be one of the Top 4 teams in this year’s first 4-team playoff to determine the national champion.

So who among the top 5 challengers is looking good?

Alabama beat Tennessee by 20 points, and ranks 3rd nationally in Scoring Defense, 5th in Total Defense, 2nd in Rushing Defense, 3rd in Team Passing Efficiency, 3rd in Third Down Conversion Percentage, 4th in Fourth Down Conversion Percentage, and 2nd in Net Punting. Good luck to Mississippi State Bulldogs when they travel to Alabama.

Auburn beat South Carolina, but only by 7 and gave up 35 points to the Gamecocks. Auburn has the 3rd best Red Zone Defense in the country, but you would not know it by giving up 35 points.

Oregon beat California, but gave up 41 points to a 4-4 team. That hardly says the Ducks have a great defense.

Notre Dame was idle this week.

Michigan State beat arch-rival Michigan by 24 and only gave up 11 points.

#19 Utah at home needed a field goal to get by #20 Southern California.

And then we have a bunch of unimpressive, top-ranked teams in no particular order that won against lesser lights.

#18 East Carolina beat a 1-6 Connecticut team by 10.

#16 Nebraska beat a 5-3 Rutgers team but gave up 24.

#25 UCLA had its hands full with a 2-6 Colorado team, needing two overtimes to win by a field goal.

#1 Mississippi State handled Kentucky but gave up 31 points in the process.

#23 Marshall stayed unbeaten at 8-0 by whipping Florida Atlantic.

#22 West Virginia took care of Oklahoma State, 34-10.

#15 Arizona easily handled Washington State, 59-37, but gave up a lot of points for a 15th ranked team.

#21 Clemson could only beat a 3-5 Syracuse team by 10.

#13 Ohio State slid past a 4-3 Penn State team by 7 while giving up 24 points, and took two overtimes to do it.

#14 Arizona State finally outlasted Washington, 24-10, and the game was way closer than the score. Washington nearly pulled off an upset here; the Husky defense was outstanding and the offense was
unfortunately absent. The scoring should have ended at 17-10.

And then there’s #10 TCU stomping a mud hole in a 3-5 Texas Tech team, 82-27.

#11 Kansas State shut out a 3-5 Texas team 23-zip. K-State may have rung up the best win among
the lesser lights in the national championship race.

#2 Florida State, #9 Georgia, #13 Baylor and #18 Oklahoma State were also idle this week.

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Note to Florida State: Look Out, You Could End Up Losing Like the Baylor Bears

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 8

The #2 Florida State Seminoles should have been upset by the #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in major college football’s 8th week, but won anyway, 31-27, when the Fighting Irish scored on a 2-yard pass to Corey Robinson with 13 seconds remaining and were called for a pass interference penalty.

A Notre Dame receiver was flagged for blocking the defender responsible for covering Robinson. Needless to say, Irish Coach Brian Kelly was not a happy with the call. And so the Seminoles, who were outplayed by the Irish most of the game, racked up their 23rd consecutive victory.

A note to Florida State: Be advised, you could end up losing like the #4 Baylor Bears did Saturday, when unranked West Virginia spoiled the Bears perfect 6-0 record with a 41-27 butt kicking. Baylor’s nonexistent defense got found out.

Florida State’s defense is not so hot either. The Seminoles could only beat Oklahoma State (now 5-2) by 6 points and needed overtime to edge Clemson (now 5-2). Unfortunately, the schedule favors the Seminoles the rest of the way as Notre Dame was the last ranked team they will play. Should Florida State win out, the Seminoles will have beaten 9 cupcake opponents.

Should the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles be upset by a cupcake opponent before the regular season ends, there is 1 undefeated team (#3 Ole Miss at 7-0) and 4 one-loss teams (#4 Alabama at 6-1, #5 Auburn at 5-1, #6 Oregon at 6-1 and #8 Michigan State at 6-1) waiting in the wings to leapfrog over them.

And some of them are serious. Ole Miss just beat up Tennessee34-3, Alabama shut out Texas A&M 59-0, Auburn was idle, Oregon whipped Washington 45-20, and Michigan State crushed Indiana 56-17.

Ole Miss, Alabama and Michigan State all won by 30+ margins. Not that far behind were #12 TCU, which upended #15 Oklahoma State 42-9, and #13 Ohio State leveled Rutgers 56-17. Even #17 Arizona State tried to make a statement by topping #23 Stanford 26-10. Stanford’s record is now 4-3.

#10 Georgia, #14 Kansas State, #19 Nebraska, #20 Utah, #22 Southern California and #24 Clemson all won but were not impressive in winning. #25 Marshall won big time 45-13 over Florida International to remain undefeated at 7-0, but the Thundering Herd are hardly big time, and not in the running for the national title as a mid-level conference team.

There were 6 teams still unbeaten last week. With the losses by Baylor and Notre Dame this week, there are now only 4 undefeated teams left—the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Ole Miss (Mississippi) Rebels, the Florida State Seminoles and the Marshall Thundering Herd.

So, who might the sleepers be in the race for the national title? Glad you asked.

That might be the Alabama Crimson Tide, who lead the nation in 7 Top 5 categories–# 3 in Scoring Defense, #3 in Total Defense, #2 in Rushing Defense, #1 in 4th Down Conversion Percentage Defense, #4 in 3rd Down Conversion Percentage, #4 in Team Passing Efficiency and #2 in Net Punting.
Or the Michigan State Spartans, who lead the nation in 5 Top 5 categories–#3 in Scoring Defense, #3 in First Downs Defense, #3 in 3rd Down Conversion Percentage Defense, #3 in Turnover Margin and #1 in Time of Possession.

Or the Ole Miss (Mississippi) Rebels, who lead the nation in 4 Top 5 categories–#1 in Scoring Defense, #3 in Team Passing Efficiency Defense, #5 in Turnover Margin and #3 in Net Punting.

#1 Mississippi State, #8 Auburn, #16 East Carolina and #17 Arizona were all idle this week.

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Is Parity Coming to Major College Football? Absolutely Not, It Has Already Arrived

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 7

A case could be made following major college football’s 7th week of competition that the trend toward parity among the AP Top 25 teams is happening, when, in fact, it appears to have already arrived.

Here is the evidence:

#6 Notre Dame at home could only beat a 2-4, unranked North Carolina team by 7 while giving up 43 points! – Needless to say, there is no way in hell that the Fighting Irish are the 6th best team in the country . . . or are they if parity exists?

#5 Baylor at home could only beat #9 TCU by a field goal while giving up 58 points! – Both of these teams need to implement defense into their football programs. Baylor was the only team in college football to not play defense; perhaps TCU could be added to the list of teams who do not consider defense to be part of their program.

#7 Alabama on-the-road could only beat a 3-3, unranked Arkansas team by a single point while giving up 13. – Yes, we are talking about THAT Alabama team, winning of 3 national championships in 4 years and arguably the BEST college football program in the country during past 6 years!

#8 Michigan State on-the-road could only beat a 3-4, unranked Purdue team by 14 while giving up 31 points.

#11 Oklahoma at home could only beat a 2-4, unranked Texas team by 5 while giving up 26 points.

#12 Oregon on-the-road could only beat #18 UCLA by 12 points while giving up 30 points.

#16 Oklahoma State on-the-road could only beat a 2-4, unranked Kansas team by 7 while giving up 20 points.

#19 East Carolina on-the-road could only beat a 2-4, unranked South Florida team by 11 while giving up 17 points.

When you understand and accept the standard that a ranked team must beat an unranked team by at least 21 points (a 3-touchdown margin to demonstrate dominance), you notice more evidence of parity. To wit:

#1 Florida State on-the-road could only beat a 2-4, unranked Syracuse team by 18 while giving up 20 points.

#10 Arizona at home could not even beat a 4-2, unranked Southern California team, losing to the Trojans in an upset, 28-26.

#22 Georgia Tech at home could not even beat a 5-1, unranked Duke 11, losing to the Blue Devils in an upset, 31-25.

#25 Stanford at home could only beat a 2-5, unranked Washington State team by 17 while giving up 17 points.

Unranked Wisconsin at home could only beat a 3-4, unranked Illinois team by 10 while giving up 28 points – In past years, the Badgers would have made the Fighting Illini into road kill upon sight.

So who is getting it done?

Let’s start with #3 Mississippi State at home as the Bulldogs upset #2 Auburn, 38-23 – Like the credit card commercial says, it was priceless for Bulldog fans.

#3 Ole Miss (tied with Mississippi State at #3) on-the-road upended #14 Texas A&M, 35-20.

#13 Georgia on-the-road leveled #23 Missouri 34-zip – That’s called stomping a mud hole in your ranked opponent, making Missouri imminently forgettable.

And then there was Marshall’s Thundering Herd, who remained unbeaten at 6-0 by eliminating Middle Tennessee, 49-24, a 25-point victory margin that vaulted Marshall into the AP Top 25 this week at #25.

More evidence of parity: After 7 weeks of major college football, ONLY 6 teams remain unbeaten, and all have 6-0 records:

#1 Florida State, #3 Ole Miss, #3 Mississippi State, #5 Baylor, #6 Notre Dame and #35 Marshall, a mid-major from Conference USA.

Among the 6 unbeaten teams, who really has a shot at becoming the National Champion?

Marshall is #2 nationally in Total Offense and Scoring Offense, but is not likely to beat a bigger, major school with a defense, like the Michigan State Spartans, who are #5 in Rushing Defense, #2 in Turnover Margin, #4 in Scoring Offense and leading the nation in Time of Possession.

Notre Dame is not in the Top 5 in any category. The Fighting Irish are #39 in Scoring Offense and #8 in Scoring Defense. Notre Dame has beaten Rice, Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse and North Carolina. Their only quality win was by a field goal over Stanford.

Baylor has beaten 5 flunkies—SMU, Northwestern State, Buffalo, Iowa State and Texas. The Bears only reasonable opposition was the TCU Horned Frogs, who the Bears beat by a field goal after giving up 58 points. You figure it out.

The jury is out on Mississippi State and Mississippi. They collectively have beaten some Top 25 teams and have not yet met their match.

Florida State beat Oklahoma State by 6 and Clemson in overtime; the rest of the Seminole wins were against lesser-light teams. Again, the jury is out.

Either Florida State or Notre Dame will lose this week as the play each other.

In a battle of winless teams, #170 Massachusetts (now 1-6) on-the-road beat #189 Kent State (0-6), 40-17. Joining Kent State as the only winless “A” teams left are #160 SMU and #183 Idaho. Bummer for those teams. They are only 125 “A” teams this year.

A last game of note: California, a 24-point favorite at home, was upset by Washington 31-7 – That is one, nasty 55-point backward turnaround for the Bears, and the Washington Huskies are now an iffy 5-1 team that could keep climbing or flame out.

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