Sports

College Football Recap: LSU, Alabama, West Virginia, UCLA, Wisconsin and More

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LSU and Alabama are the best teams in the country. Rematch or not, if the BCS dictates that the best two teams play in its championship game, then they got it right. The problem is that the BCS is as ass-backwards as ass-backwards gets. In no other sport of which I’m aware do human perception and computers play as large a role in determining the sport’s champion than in college football.

Yesterday’s Tweet of the Day came from @azsportsguy: “How Boise St. goes to the same bowl as ASU is beyond me? NCAA just told Boise St: Lose once and you might as well be ASU.” To elaborate, Boise State, who fielded one of the nation’s best teams, is rewarded for its efforts by playing in a mid-tier bowl game against a team who fired its head coach after failing to meet high expectations with a 6-6 record.

The Sun Devils lost to such stalwarts as Illinois, UCLA, Washington State, Arizona, and Cal. Boise State fell only to TCU, the 18th-ranked team in the country. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech and Michigan, who sit four and six spots behind the Broncos in the final BCS rankings, will face each other in the Sugar Bowl.

What more evidence does America need that the BCS is crooked and wrong than witnessing executives of the game’s most prestigious bowls pick and choose their bowl’s participants based on potential television ratings and ticket sales instead of on-field success? I absolutely love this game, but the BCS system seems to do everything it can to suck it dry of any respectability.

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Recapping the week in 500 words or less, this is what we learned about the season:

  • So West Virginia will represent the Big East in the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineers are actually not the only three-loss team playing in a BCS bowl game. Their Orange Bowl foes, the Clemson Tigers, have also lost three games this year. Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State, and South Carolina be damned. America wants a couple of three-loss teams from the 15-25 range of the BCS.
  • UCLA, and especially quarterback Kevin Prince, was resilient in their Pac-12 title bid Friday night. Prince took hit after hit and the Bruins fared much better than many expected against Oregon.
  • Most of the Conference USA Championship coverage has centered around Houston’s missed BCS opportunity. Not enough has been said of Southern Miss’ performance. The Golden Eagles took a 21-14 lead into the half against the Cougars’ prolific attack, and then they owned the second half with tremendous offensive and defensive performances. That was championship football.
  • Kansas State has been in some squeakers. Eight of their ten wins and one of their two losses have come by one score or less. In Saturday’s win over Iowa State, the Wildcats pulled ahead with three-and-a-half minutes remaining after going back and forth with the Cyclones most of the afternoon. They were given a Cotton Bowl berth for their efforts.
  • Championship teams find ways to overcome adversity. With the LSU offense struggling early, Tyrann Mathieu provided a spark midway through the second quarter with a punt return for a touchdown. Then Kenny Hilliard came up with three scores in the third to pull away from Georgia and win the SEC Championship.
  • Meanwhile, Baylor closed the year with a bang, pulling out a victory against Texas for the second year in a row. Robert Griffin III threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and Terrance Ganaway has quietly accumulated 1,347 rushing yards and 17 total touchdowns this year.
  • Oklahoma State manhandled Oklahoma in the Bedlam Game, pulling out to a 44-3 lead after three quarters. The Sooners turned it over five times, and Brandon Weeden, who has thrown 34 touchdowns this year including at least one in every game, did not account for a single Cowboys touchdown. Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle each rushed for two scores in the Cowboys’ first win in the series since back-to-back victories in 2001 and 2002.
  • Virginia Tech’s two lowest-scoring performances of the season came on October 1 in Blacksburg against Clemson, and on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson. The Hokies average 32.5 points per game this year against teams other than the Tigers. Against Clemson, they average 6.5 points per game.
  • What a shame that the thoroughly-exciting Wisconsin-Michigan State II had to end on a running into the punter penalty that nullified a big punt return that put the Spartans in the red zone late in the fourth quarter. The Badgers took a few knees to kill the clock and capture the Big Ten Championship.

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball Proved He’s Worth the Hype in Saturday’s Big Ten Championship win over the Spartans, churning out 137 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and hauling in another touchdown on a five-yard reception. In a somewhat crowded Heisman race, Ball has not received the attention he deserves. He leads the country with 1,759 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns.  He is closing in on Barry Sanders‘ NCAA record for total touchdowns in a season. Sanders’ record stands at 39. Ball has so far accumulated 38 touchdowns. Sanders’ five touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl that year are not included in his record, though, because at the time the NCAA did not include bowl performances in final season statistics.

The only matchup we have to look forward to in the coming week is the annual Army-Navy game on CBS. The Black Knights come into the game at 3-8, while the Midshipmen enter 4-7. The first Army-Navy game took place in 1890 (a 24-0 Navy win). This Saturday will be the 112th meeting with Navy leading the all-time series 55-49-7.