College Football Week 13: SEC Feast
by Greg Stelmach | Delaware Valley College
Finally, a week in college football where the top 10 wasn’t a revolving door. Only one top five team lost, meaning the rankings are finally regaining an ounce of stability, just in time for the final week. The regular season is almost over, and that means plenty of BCS lobbying and coaching changes. Here are the highlights from Week 13:
Get Ready for Round 2
It’s not official yet, but all signs are pointing to an LSU-Alabama rematch for the National Championship. LSU dispatched No. 3 Arkansas 41-17 in routine fashion on Friday afternoon. Alabama followed suit Saturday in the Iron Bowl, topping Auburn 42-14. LSU still has Georgia to play in the SEC championship game, but even a loss probably won’t knock the Tigers out of the top two spots. A lot of years, there are legitimate complaints about who plays for the title, but this year there’s no controversy. These two are by far the best teams in the country. Both these defenses are crazy good. It is actually feasible that 16 of the 22 defensive starters in this game will be playing in the NFL at some point. And the offenses are not to be overlooked. Trent Richardson deserves the Heisman for his production for Alabama, and LSU has a stock of quality backs that put up ridiculous numbers as a unit. The quarterbacks aren’t Matt Barkley-quality, but they’re good players. Alabama’s A.J. McCarron has been impressive as a freshman, and LSU’s Jordan Jefferson is a useful dual threat for the Tigers. Neither of these teams has a major weakness. Honestly, it’s hard to find a single weakness, and that showed in their first meeting. These are the two heavyweights this season, and we need a second installment. If it’s anything like the first, it may be the best National Championship game in decades.
Other BCS Odds and Ends
The other BCS conferences almost have their automatic bids figured out. In the Big Ten, Wisconsin bulldozed Penn State 45-7 behind a strong rushing attack to punch its ticket to the conference championship game against Michigan State. This is a rematch of one of the most exciting games of the season that the Spartans won on a last second Hail Mary, but this time will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. At least there might be one good game played in the Colts’ stadium this year. Over in the ACC, Virginia Tech blanked Virginia 38-0, setting up a rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship. The Tigers took the first meeting handily, but were playing at a much higher level at the time. Still, you can’t sleep on Clemson. The Tigers have played poorly the last couple weeks because they had nothing to play for. They clinched the ACC Atlantic weeks ago and they weren’t going to make the National Championship game ahead of Alabama. So with no incentive they’ve looked flat. But you can’t forget that this is still the team that went into Blacksburg and demolished the Hokies. On a neutral site and finally with something to play for again, Clemson shouldn’t go quietly.
The Pac-12 is all but decided. Oregon dismantled in-state rival Oregon State to clinch the Pac-12 North over Stanford. And UCLA clinched the South division last week, rendering its embarrassing 50-0 shellacking at the hands of USC meaningless. Now you understand why I always rag on the Pac-12 as a weak conference? Granted, this is the product of USC being bowl ineligible because of NCAA violations and the fact that the only two good (and eligible) teams are both in the North. But still, the 6-6 Bruins are the second best team out of six in the South division. Thankfully, the Bruins have no shot at stopping Oregon in Eugene in the championship game, so the Ducks will head to the Rose Bowl. In the Big 12, Oklahoma State squares off with Oklahoma in Stillwater with a bid in the Fiesta Bowl on the line, although the Cowboys could still snag an at-large bid even with a loss to the Sooners.
And finally, there’s the mess that is the Big East. Louisville already has a share of the conference title, but Cincinnati and West Virginia could also get a piece with wins in their final games. Should there be a three-way tie, the bid would go to the highest ranked team in the BCS (West Virginia). But if Cincinnati wins and West Virginia loses, the Bearcats advance. The sad thing is that before this weekend it was even worse. UConn, Rutgers, and Pitt were all still alive, and you’d have had an easier time trying to figure out cold fusion than all the possibilities for the Big East. But thankfully now it’s, um, clear? Odds are that it will be the Mountaineers, but the Big East is such a nightmare it would only be fitting that 7-5 Louisville ended up with the BCS bid. Can we just get rid of the Big East’s automatic bid already?
Start the Coaching Carousel
The regular season isn’t even over but three BCS programs have already fired their head coaches. Illinois dropped Ron Zook after the Illini lost their last six games to finish as a barely bowl eligible 6-6. Kansas has released Turner Gill as the Jayhawks lost their last 10 games of the season and finished 2-10. And Arizona State has fired Dennis Erickson after the talented Sun Devils slumped to a 6-6 finish in a division they could have easily won with USC ineligible this year. Oh, and that Urban Meyer guy is going to take over for Ohio State next year. I have a few uncles from Columbus who might think that’s sort of a big deal.
That’s about it for Week 13. Next week is championship weekend, so Sunday we’ll finally know where each team is headed. And Monday we’ll be complaining about who got left out.Greg Stelmach is from New Hope, Pennsylvania and is a sophomore at Delaware Valley College.