"If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?" Former legendary Green Bay Packer Coach Vince Lombardi.
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College Football Wrap-Up – Week 15

When it mattered, there was no mystery at the end of season play in major college football’s 15th week: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State got it done, and will play for the national championship. It was that simple.

For Baylor, TCU, Mississippi State and Michigan State, it wasn’t complicated: They should have known better.

Welcome to the facts of life.

#1 Alabama (12-1) scored three touchdowns in the 4th quarter to crush #16 Missouri (10-3) and win the SEC championship, 42-13.

#2 Oregon’s (12-1) early season loss to Arizona (10-3) by a touchdown was avenged by whipping the #7 Wildcats, 51-13, for the Pac-12 championship.

#4 Florida State (12-0) came from behind to nip #11 Georgia Tech (10-3) and claim the ACC championship, 37-35. The Seminoles ended the year as the FBS’s only unbeaten team, but hardly looked dominating, coming from behind more times this season than a delinquent taxpayer trying to catch up. That said, they had enough money in the bank in wins to make the NCAA’s first 4-team playoff.

#5 Ohio State (12-1) came from behind all season, finally crushing #13 Wisconsin (10-3) to win the Big Ten championship, 59-0, literally impressing the 13-member Selection Committee by pushing Baylor and TCU out of the picture.

#6 Baylor (11-1) got by #9 Kansas State (9-3), 38-27, and #3 TCU (11-1) absolutely crushed a lousy 2-10 Iowa State team, 55-3, and few on the national scene even noticed or cared. The Big 12 is so out of it without a conference playoff system and lousy competition that it would have taken an act of the football gods to include them as anything more than an afterthought.

After all, major college football owes its existence in proportion to the amount of money it generates, and they can’t find enough market and fans to follow Baylor or TCU anywhere. Nobody is following a third-rate rock band anywhere. Pride will kill that dog (the Big 12 Conference) in the street.

#4 Mississippi State (10-2) won its first 9 games before losing to Alabama and Ole Miss. Oops! That’s what real competition will do to you, ace you out in a hurry.

#10 Michigan State (10-2) had a shot at a national title this year, but lost early in the year at Oregon and then at home could not beat Ohio State, losing 49-37, because the Buckeyes had a far better quarterback than the Spartans could possibly field when it mattered.

So now 2nd seed Oregon will face 3rd seed Florida State, and 1st seed Alabama faces 4th seed Ohio State in the National Semifinals on New Year’s Day (Thursday), and the winners will settle the matter 11 days later on Jan. 12 (Monday).

In other championship games, Northern Illinois (11-2) beat Bowling Green (7-6) for the Mid-American title, 51-17; Marshall (12-1) nipped Louisiana Tech (8-5) for the Conference USA title, 26-23; and #22 Boise State (11-2) downed Fresno State (6-7) for the Mountain West title, 28-14. So much for the minor leagues.

This year’s first ever 4-team playoff format has produced the most excitement ever in college football. Fans were left hanging until the last day to learn which teams would make basketball’s equivalent of the Final Four. And now the suspense begins again and will only end on January 12 in Arlington, Texas.

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 14

In-state rivalries ruled the day as major college football’s 14th week saw 4 upsets of ranked teams, none worse than Mississippi State’s upset loss to Ole Miss. The loss by the Bulldogs and win by Texas Christian (TCU) vaulted the Horned Frogs into contention for the 4-team playoff for the national title.

The current title contenders include 1) Alabama, 2) Oregon, 3) TCU and 4) Florida State. Here are the details.

Ranked teams that were upset included:

#4 Mississippi State (now 10-2) was embarrassed and upset by Ole Miss (aka Mississippi), 31-17. The much-hyped run of Mississippi State is now over, big time. The Bulldogs will not compete for the SEC title and will not be among the Top 4 teams competing the national championship.

#8 UCLA (9-3) was upset, no trounced, by visiting Stanford, 31-10, taking the luster off of a potentially great season for Jim Mora’s Bruins. Lost now are UCLA’s Pac-10 title hopes and national playoff hopes. Stanford is only 7-5 on the season, but not to be overlooked, as the Bruins sadly found out. UCLA may have more talent, but the talent forgot to show up for the game.

#9 Georgia (9-3) fared no better than UCLA, getting upset by #16 Georgia Tech, 30-24, in overtime. Georgia Tech (10-2) will now face Florida State for the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

#24 Marshall, the second-to-the-last undefeated team this year at 11-0, finally was taken down by Western Kentucky, 67-66 in overtime. This game was a 100-yard dash from goal line to goal line, as a NCAA single-game FBS record was set with a combined 15 touchdown passes. The halftime score was 49-42 in favor of Western Kentucky. Games like this are certainly exciting for the fans, but lousy defensive exhibitions of incompetent defensive backs.

Ranked schools that scored victories over an in-state rival included:

#1 Alabama (11-1) had its hands full dealing with #15 Auburn (8-4), but a strong last quarter put the Crimson Tide on top, 55-44 – Alabama will now face Missouri (10-2) for the SEC title.

#2 Oregon (11-1) made short work of Oregon State, winning 47-19 on its way to the Pac-12 Championship Game against Arizona (10-2).

#3 Florida State, the only unbeaten team left at 12-0, managed to win again by the skin of its teeth, holding off a tough, 6-5 Florida squad, 24-19 – The Seminoles weak, bumbling performance dropped Florida State from 3rd to 4th place in the 4-team national playoff rankings, and will now face Georgia Tech (10-2) for the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

#5 TCU (10-1) over Texas 48-10 – The Texas Longhorns used to be a national contender every year. Last year Mack Brown got pushed out and Charlie Strong was hired as his replacement. Strong has gone 6-6 his first season. Things still look really grim in Texas. Would you believe that it has been 81 years since Texas lost at home to Baylor and TCU in the same season?

#6 Ohio State (11-1) led by a touchdown after three quarters against a mediocre, 5-7 Michigan team, and then managed to win the 4th quarter 14-7, and the game, 42-28. Ohio State was hardly dominating, but will face Wisconsin (10-2) in the Big Ten title game.

#7 Baylor (10-1) barely gets by a 4-8 Texas Tech team, 48-46, after allowing the Red Raiders to win the 4th quarter, 19-3, all of which means that the Baylor Bears talk and whine a lot about how they are overlooked and unappreciated when in fact they may be overlooked and under achieved.

#10 Michigan State (10-2) did some pushups while rolling past Penn State, 34-10.

#11 Arizona (10-2) keeps on winning, beating #13 Arizona State (9-3), 42-35, putting the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game against Oregon (11-1). Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez had huge success at West Virginia, was recruited at Michigan and bounced out after 3 years, and has now been reborn at Arizona. Rodriguez is a great coach; he was not the problem at Michigan, it was the Wolverine boosters and faithful that could not accept Rodriquez and his spread offense. Rodriguez was a pioneer of a no-huddle, run-oriented spread offense and was also credited with inventing the zone read play run out of the shotgun formation. Michigan is still a stick-in-the-mug offense with 3 yards and a cloud of dust.

#12 Kansas State (9-2) leveled a lousy, 3-9 Kansas team, 51-13.

#14 Wisconsin (10-2) outlasted #18 Minnesota, 34-24, and will face Ohio State (11-1) for the Big Ten title.

#17 Missouri (10-2) needed to score 15 points in the 4th quarter to get past Arkansas, 21-14, and will now face Alabama (11-1) for the SEC title.

#21 Clemson (9-3) beat South Carolina, 35-17 – Steve Spurrier led his Gamecocks to three consecutive 11-2 records in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and added three consecutive bowl wins, but South Carolina in now back in the dumper at 6-6.

#22 Louisville (9-3) had its hands full with Kentucky (5-7) but eventually won, 44-40.

#24 Utah (8-4) outlasted a tough, 2-10 Colorado team, 38-34.

Unranked schools that scored victories over an in-state rival included:

Air Force (9-3) beat Colorado State (10-2) on a 4th quarter field goal.

Central Florida (8-3) blanked South Florida, 16-0.

Houston took care of Southern Methodist 35-9 – SMU is 0-11 this season and, after the loss, fired its head coach and hired Chad Morris to take over the distressed program. Morris, a high school coaching legend in Texas, was serving as the Offensive Coordinator for Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Morris helped Clemson log a 41-11 record in 4 years, win the ACC title in 2011 and earn 4 bowl berths, including 2 BCS Orange Bowl appearances. SMU this year had given credence to the word inept; hopefully, Chad Morris will lead SMU out of the wilderness.

Ohio University over Miami of Ohio – Ohio was down 21-14 but won the last quarter 10-0 and the game, 24-21.

In another Ohio contest, Kent State beat Akron 27-24.

Virginia Tech beat Virginia, 24-20.

Indiana downed Purdue, 23-16 – Few noticed because it was in the Big Ten, which happens to have 14 teams.

Texas San Antonio topped North Texas, 34-27.

North Carolina State put a whipping on North Carolina, 35-7.

San Diego State did the same to San Jose State in California, 38-7.

Tennessee edged Vanderbilt in a SEC contest, 24-17 – Tennessee (6-6), a mediocre team that has fallen out of favor, simply beat a lousy, 3-9 Vanderbilt team.

Duke breezed past Wake Forest in North Carolina, 41-21.

Nevada sucker punched a lowly, 2-11 UNLV team – Perhaps the Runnin’ Rebels will do better in basketball, then again, maybe not.

And, in a bowl eligible contest, Washington used its crushing, swarming Husky defense to stifle Washington State, 31-13 – Coming into the game, the WSU Cougars led the nation in passing offense, averaging 478 yards a game. Washington (8-5) will go bowling; Washington State will be watching the bowl games on the tube, which is not an entirely bad thing, since the Cougars make WSU one of the great drinking schools in the country.

#18 Oklahoma was idle this week.

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 13

After Alabama brought Mississippi State back to reality last week, major college football’s 13th week was the most boring of the season. Only unranked Arkansas’ 30-0 shutout victory over #8 Ole Miss stuck out.

The rest was business as usual, with 9 ranked teams posting unimpressive, marginal victories, and 9 more ranked teams looking much better.

The 9 lesser lights included:

#3 Florida State needed a field goal in the last 3 seconds of the 4th quarter to nip a 6-5 Boston College team, 20-17 – The unbeaten Seminoles (now 11-0) hardly look like a potential national championship team.

#24 Louisville (8-3) hung on to beat unranked Notre Dame (now 7-4) by 3, 31-28; #16 Wisconsin (9-2) needed everything it had to best Iowa (7-4) by 2, 26-24; and #12 Kansas State (8-2) could only win by 6 over unranked, 6-5 West Virginia, 26-20.

#23 Nebraska (8-3) led 21-7 at the half, but #25 Minnesota (8-3) won the second half 21-3, and the game, 28-24. #20 Missouri (8-2) did a tad better, holding off 6-5 Tennessee by 8, 29-21. Even #6 Ohio State (10-1) at home could only beat 3-8 Indiana by 15, 42-27, and needed 21 points in the last quarter to do it.

And then 3 ranked teams racked up some points, but did it against weak AA teams this late in the season. #10 Georgia (9-2) beat unranked, AA Charleston Southern by 46, 55-9; #1 Alabama (10-1) beat up unranked, AA Western Carolina by 34, 48-14; and #14 Auburn could only down unranked, AA Samford by 24, 31-7. Georgia, Alabama and Auburn all deserve demerits this week for taking the easy way out.

The 9 winners with merit included #9 UCLA (9-2) at home winning its 3rd straight against #19 Southern California (7-4), 38-20. It was not that close as UCLA led 38-14 after 3 quarters.

#4 Mississippi State (10-1) bounced back from its loss to Alabama last week by shutting out 3-8 Vanderbilt, 51-0 – The Commodores (now 0-7 in league play) have been a doormat in the SEC for too long. They either need a new ship or a new captain; they would be more competitive in the American Athletic Conference.

#11 Michigan State (9-2) rolled over unranked Rutgers, 45-3; #15 Arizona (9-2) on-the-road beat #17 Utah (7-4) by 32, 42-10 – so much for the Ute uprising; #22 Clemson (8-3) shutout unranked, 1-10 Georgia State, 28-zip; #13 Arizona State (9-2) trashed a game, 3-8 Washington State, 52-31; and wanna-be-noticed #7 Baylor (9-1) thumped unranked, 5-6 Oklahoma State, 49-28.

The final two big winners got noticed for special reasons.
#21 Oklahoma made short work of 3-8 Kansas, 44-7, as true freshman Samaje Perine, a 5-foot-11, 243-pounder, ran his way into Oklahoma Sooner history by rushing for 427 yards on 34 carries (12+ yards per carry) and scoring no less than 5 touchdowns.

Perine broke the major college football rushing record set only 7 days earlier by Wisconsin’s Melvin “Flash” Gordon with 408 yards on 25 carries (16+ yards per carry).

Perine scored on his first carry with a 49-yarder, and then added touchdowns on runs of 33, 34, 66 and 27 yards, all of which may have proved his prowess as a runner or spotlighted the lousy, stinking sieve called the Kansas Jayhawk defense.

Perine had a career day that he will not likely repeat again. One thing is for sure: Perine will not be racking up 427 yards on the ground against Alabama, Wisconsin, Penn State or Louisville.

#2 Oregon (10-1) continued to dominate with a 44-10 whipping of 2-9 Colorado. Oregon has become an item, being ranked #2 in the 4-team national playoff standings. After losing 31-24 to Arizona in its 5th game, the Ducks have reeled off 6 straight wins by averaging 47+ points and giving up 24, a 23-point winning margin that feels more dominate than either #1 Alabama, #3 Florida State or #4 Mississippi State.

Know this: If the current #5 playoff team, TCU, #6 Ohio State or #7 Baylor should lose another game, and UCLA should win out (beating Oregon for the Pac-12 title), you will see UCLA among the final 4 teams competing for the national title.

If last week’s competition was lame, wait until this week when in-state rivals abound as #11 Arizona hosts #13 Arizona State, #8 UCLA hosts Stanford, #9 Georgia hosts #16 Georgia Tech, #3 Florida State hosts Florida, #19 Ole Miss hosts #4 Mississippi State, Texas Tech hosts #7 Baylor, #12 Kansas State hosts Kansas, Oregon State hosts #2 Oregon, and, believe it, #1 Alabama hosts #15 Auburn in the Iron Bowl. And you thought Thanksgiving Day would be the best menu!

We end with some odds and ends:

Southern Methodist University is still winless at 0-10 and Marshall is still unbeaten at 11-0 after taking care of UAB, 23-18.

Colorado State is now 10-1 and ranked #21 in the AP Top 25 Poll and the Top 25 Coaches Poll.

In a battle of two teams trying to become bowl eligible, Washington (now 7-5) topped Oregon State (now 5-6), 37-13, and Husky QB Cyler Miles, who got no kind words last week, played much better in leading the Washington to a very important victory.

Only 2 ranked teams were idle this week, #5 TCU and #16 Georgia Tech.

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 unleashed 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.

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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