Because of conference realignment three very long-standing rivalry games will soon come to an end, or came to an end over the weekend: Texas vs. Texas A&M, Missouri vs. Kansas, and West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, a couple rivalry games are being forced upon us: Nebraska vs. Iowa, and Colorado vs. Utah. Nothing against these potential rivalry games, but the geographical rivalries rooted in tradition and familiarity are part of what makes college football such a great sport. In recent years it seems that the brass are attempting to manufacture things a little too much.
Recapping the week in 500 words or less, this is what we learned about the season:
- Great win for Texas, whose defense remains one of the country’s best. There’s talent at the skill positions that should help this team compete in the conference next year.
- As for the three Big East teams still in contention for the conference title, nobody controls its fate and nobody belongs in a top-tier bowl game. As more-deserving parties go to lower tier bowls, West Virginia, Cincinnati, or Louisville will play in a BCS bowl game.
- There’s no question that LSU is the best team in the country, but shouldn’t they also be in the best position to play for the title? They’re poised to go with even a loss in the SEC title game likely not enough to knock them out of the BCS top two, but Alabama appears in better position despite losing to LSU in the regular season. The Tide need only rest their legs and see what happens next weekend.
- Georgia has beaten a top 25 team only twice this year, but both times were in commanding fashion. Similar to Virginia Tech last year, they overcame a 0-2 start with a loss to Boise State in the opener to reach the conference title game on a 10-game winning streak.
- Speaking of Virginia Tech, a lot of people had forgotten about them again this year after losing to a hot Clemson team the first week of October. Now they’re fifth in the country with only the one loss and another ACC title shot upcoming.
- Big weekend for the state of Michigan that saw the Wolverines end a seven-game skid to Ohio State, and the Spartans earn its second-consecutive 10-win season for the first time in school history. Both could end up playing in a BCS bowl game.
- Wisconsin is a couple Hail Mary passes away from the #2 ranking in the country with an opportunity to play for the national title hinging on the outcome of the Big Ten title game. They are one of four teams I see as capable of beating any team in the country—LSU, Alabama, and Oregon the other three.
- Speaking of Oregon, you have to wonder if we’re a win over USC away from considering another potential BCS title game rematch.
- Pac-12 North rival Stanford, though, is in the thick of the BCS title hunt depending on the outcome of the Bedlam Game and the SEC title game…and maybe the ACC title game. Not only would the Cardinal have a red carpet laid to the BCS title game had they beat Oregon, but the simple fact that they’re sitting idle on the final weekend puts a serious damper on their chances. A loss to USC and win over Oregon may have served them better.
- Then there’s Oklahoma State who is sitting quietly at the three-spot in the BCS with the Bedlam Game upcoming. Not bad considering their loss to Iowa State a little more than a week ago.
There were plenty who Proved They’re Worth the Hype this past weekend, but the recognition this week goes to USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley has burst into the Heisman discussion following the win over Oregon last week and the near-win over Stanford shortly before. With a six-touchdown performance against UCLA, Barkley is squarely in the discussion. He completed 35 of 42 passes for 423 yard and the six touchdown passes. He threw no interceptions.
Championship Weekend gets started Thursday with a Big East showdown that has conference title implications, and continues Friday with a couple of conference championship games.
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Thursday, December 1
- West Virginia @ South Florida, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
Friday, December 2
- Ohio vs. Northern Illinois*, MAC Championship, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2
- UCLA @ Oregon, Pac-12 Championship, 8:00 PM ET, FOX
Saturday, December 3
- Southern Miss @ Houston, Conference USA Championship, 12:00 PM ET, ABC
- Connecticut @ Cincinnati, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN
- Texas @ Baylor, 3:30 PM ET, ABC
- Georgia vs. LSU*, SEC Championship, 4:00 PM ET, CBS
- Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM ET, ABC (de facto Big 12 Championship Game)
- Virginia Tech vs. Clemson*, ACC Championship, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
- Wisconsin vs. Michigan State*, Big Ten Championship, 8:17 PM ET, FOX