The Most Predictable College Football Season? Things Change

Beauty Contest Standings (Week 8, 2011)

A week ago, I wrote that this was the most predictable season in memory. Things change.

Oklahoma had won 39 consecutive home games and was a 30-point favorite over Texas Tech in Norman Saturday. Usually, OU waits until later in the season to melt down, but the Sooners evidently left everything they had in the Cotton Bowl. After a lackluster effort against a pitiful Kansas team a week earlier, the Land Thieves decided to mail in their effort again, but this time they did so against a Raider team that caught fire. TT 41, OU 38. Beautiful.

Wisconsin spent the first half of the season beating up on pathetically weak football teams. When Michigan State punched them in the mouth, they hardly knew how to react. The Badgers rallied from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game at 31-all, but fell to a 44-yard desperation pass as the clock expired. Spartans 37, Badgers 31.

Notre Dame turned on the lights for the first time in 21 years for their game against USC. Unfortunately, they forgot to turn on their team. With the Condoms leading 17-10 and the Domers on the SC 1 yard line, second-string QB Dayne Crist fumbled the snap, which was returned for a Southern Cal touchdown. It was, as Yogi would say, déjà vu all over again. This happens once every couple of decades to most teams. To Notre Dame, this is the second time this year. This 14-point swing accounted for the 31-17 final margin. I am told that stories now abound at Baylor about Notre Dame’s second-stringer actually being the Anti-Crist.

More evidence that AP voters should be subject to drug testing surfaced when West Virginia, ranked number 11 in the AP poll after having beaten a collection of nobodies, fell to Syracuse 49-23.

What does the Top Ten look like now?

1. LSU had three of their best players suspended for the Auburn game after they tested positive for something called synthetic marijuana. I had to call an AP writer to find out what that was. It didn’t matter. The physical whipping LSU administered to a reasonably good Auburn team was ugly to watch. 45-10, Tigers. LSU has an off week before playing Alabama in the unofficial national championship game in two weeks.

2. Alabama did a pretty good Oklahoma imitation for a half, remaining tied with a mediocre Tennessee team 6-6 at halftime. The second half was another world, with the Tide out-gaining the Vols 280-41 yards and scoring 31 unanswered points. It was like watching Godzilla versus Bambi. 37-6 was the postmortem.

3. Does anybody else still matter? Stanford matters. For those who like to root for the good guys, here’s a team for you that’s still in the running. Sure, Washington is a mediocre team, despite their 5-1 record going into the game, but when you barely need to use the best college pro-style quarterback since some guy named Manning was playing for Tennessee while running for 446 yards, you must be pretty good. 65-21, Tree-huggers.

4. Okie Lite scrambled Missouri 45-24. Granted, Missouri may have been distracted by their school’s bid to become an automatic annual W in the SEC, but OSU still managed to beat them badly while playing one of their poorer games of the season.

5. Boise State managed to remain unbeaten with a 33-26 victory over Air Force. With the win, Boise quarterback Kellen Moore tied Colt McCoy’s record for career wins at 45. I’d like to note that McCoy’s record for career wins over BCS teams (32) somewhat exceeds Moore’s (4).

6. Clemson hung a 59-38 win on North Carolina and is now 8-0. Clemson has yet to face a really good team, but has beaten several pretty good teams. This is an entertaining team, and I hope they keep winning. Their coach is fun to hear on the football shows.

7. Nike piled on a terrible Colorado team 45-2. The Ducks could have done it without their best quarterback and their best tailback. Oh. That’s right. They did. Have I mentioned recently that Colorado is awful? I wonder if the Curse of Mack Brown extends to teams that spurn the conference, as well as recruits that spurn Texas?

8. Kansas State slaughtered Kansas 59-21. Bill Snyder is awfully old to be trying on a glass slipper, but it seems to fit. Meanwhile, Kansas is trying to become the first NCAA football team ever to give up more points, on average, than its basketball team. Don’t laugh, it could happen.

9. Oklahoma? Will the Sooner implosion last? It had better not. Kansas State will beat the Sooners like a borrowed mule this Saturday if Big Red isn’t ready to play. Perhaps the Kansas and Tech games were only a temporary hiccup, and the Sooners will draw some Big East team in a bowl again. They can hope.

10. Wisconsin has some really impressive scores against really bad teams. Michigan State has a win over Wisconsin and a blowout loss to 4-3 Notre Dame. That’s some ugly stuff. Let’s give it to Arkansas, whose horribly ugly 29-24 win over a pathetic excuse for a M’sippi team was, at least, a win.


There isn’t anybody close.

Texas is sitting at 4-2 and is capable of winning out. Of course, with the exception of Kansas next week, Texas can also lose every game left on its schedule. The question is: does Texas tank like last year, or turn on the gas. We shall see.

Houston blew out Marshall 63-28 to go 7-0. Case Keenum now has 17,173 yards of total offense, setting an all-time NCAA mark. Keenum will shatter every meaningful quarterback record this season. And if the Cougars go 13-0, they’ll play some mediocre team in some mediocre bowl. Such is the Beauty Contest.

TCU set an all-time school record by scoring 69 points against New Mexico, proving that Kansas doesn’t really have the worst defense in the country.

A&M failed to blow a big halftime lead in a 33-17 win over Iowa State.

Georgia plays Florida next weekend in the World’s Biggest Cocktail Party Held Around Two Teams That Don’t Matter.

This week, Oklahoma messed up the closest thing we’ve had in recent memory to a regular season playoff. One semi-final is still happening: two weeks from now, Alabama will play LSU for a projected berth in the MNC game. On December 3, OU was supposed to play OSU for the other. Now? Stanford plays Oregon on November 12. Win that, and the Cardinal are a home win against Notre Dame away from a date in New Orleans.

Of course, that assumes that OSU doesn’t run the table. If so, the computers will deservedly love OSU more. Is OSU better than Stanford? I don’t think so, but the PAC-12 largely stinks this season, so Stanford will get no respect for their wins and a pitiful non-conference schedule. That, coupled with their only decent OOC opponent – Notre Dame – dropping games against mediocre ACC, Big 10 and PAC-12 teams will cast Stanford in the complainer’s role.

What if Stanford and OSU both lose? Does Boise State face the Alabama/LSU winner? As we say in the South, “Well, wouldn’t that be special.”

That’s the sort of thing you get when you turn a sport into a Beauty Contest.


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