Surprise, surprise. Another team jumps Oregon despite a convincing Duck win. Oregon State is now officially out of the National Championship picture, and by officially, I mean if you're being realistic. There are only 5 unbeaten teams left: Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Oregon and Louisville. Below is my evaluation of each team's chances at playing for the title.
1 - ALABAMA -BCS AVG: .9759 (8-0) Remaining Schedule: @LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn, SEC Title Game @ Atlanta
The Tide got their first real 'test' of the season Saturday with an unbeaten #11 ranked Mississippi State team that had been playing extremely well on offense. Alabama's defense did what they were supposed to and exposed the Bulldogs offense, who was on fire, but had not played anyone of note. I'm not going to go as far as to say AJ McCarron should be a Heisman Trophy candidate but he is incredibly accurate, and is no longer a game manager for this team, he is a dangerous weapon on offense. The running game isn't quite the same as a year ago, but still more than capable, and if Alabama can stay balanced on offense and continue their defensive dominance there is a great chance the run the table. Things don't get easier with LSU on the road this week, they still have a tough Texas A&M team in 2 weeks, and will play either Georgia or Florida in the conference title game should they get there.
K State seems to have the easiest road to going undefeated, unless you count Louisville, which I don't. Collin Klein and the offense rolled again putting up another 50+ point game against Texas Tech, and the defense stopped a very talented Tech offense. I really don't know what to make out of their defense though. They have played very well this season, but watching them against WV and TT, the opposition seems out of their game. Is it because they happened to have an off day, or because of K State's D? I can't answer that. Their strength of schedule took a hit with Oklahoma losing, OK ST and Texas are still ranked, but won't be with another loss (to KST), and with no conference championship, I really see the only way they get to Miami is if they are 1 of 2 unbeatens, again, not counting Louisville.
OK, now we can say the Irish are for real NOBODY expected them to beat Oklahoma, and manhandle them the way they did. ND was the first unbeaten team this late in the season to be a double digit underdog and win since Ohio State in the 2002 National Title game, which really means nothing, it's just an interesting stat. We talk about that ND defense and how outstanding they are, and they showed it again this week, but they had over 400 yards of total offense, including 215 on the ground. Oklahoma's defense isn't extraordinary, but their offense is. ND has 3 easy games before USC on the road, and we've seen USC be incredibly inconsistent, but at home, they are markedly better than on the road, so there's no guarantee ND wins out. If they do, that would likely give USC 4 losses if they lose to Oregon, and put them at the bottom of the BCS top 25 if they remain ranked at all. The ONLY other currently ranked team on their schedule is Stanford, who still has to play Oregon, plus they don't have a conference championship game, since they are independent. The advantage they do have, is they don't have any cupcakes. They have some below average level BCS Conference teams on the sked like Wake Forest, Pitt, and BC, and independent Navy. The Computer polls have them #1, but with the strength of schedule decreasing dramatically in the next 3 weeks, that will change.
4 - OREGON - BCS Avg: .8966 (8-0) Sked: @USC, @CAL, Stanford, @ Oregon State, Pac 12 Title Game
The question Oregon fans are asking today is, at the end of the season will we be ahead of KST or ND if we are all unbeaten. Like I said above, I do think they pass Kansas State. The problem is if ND starts getting more love from the human polls. There is a larger gap between KST at 3 and ND at 4 in both the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll than there is between OR at 2 and K ST at 3, and Oregon needs to PRAY that it stays that way. I still think there is a very good chance that Oregon passes both the Wildcats and the Irish at the end of the year, gaining some ground with the strength of schedule. USC, Stanford Oregon State are still ranked for now. It's far from a guarantee now that USC gets to the conference championship, UCLA now also controls their own destiny, either team can win out and get in. Arizona and Arizona State still have a legitimate shot.
This weekend was the WORST case scenario for the Ducks, excluding a loss. USC and Oregon State lost, dropping their strength of schedule, Notre Dame and Kansas State won convincingly. Oregon fans are going to be big time LSU fans on Saturday night. So to recap for the Ducks, win out, hope the human polls stay the same, and hope because your remaining strength of schedule is superior to Kansas State and Notre Dame, that you will pass them, or close the gap in the computers. You need Oregon State, USC, and Stanford to win as many games as possible.
5 - LSU - BCS Avg: .8163 (7-1) - Sked: Alabama, Miss St, Ole Miss, @ Arkansas, SEC Title Game (vs FL or GA)
LSU is coming off a bye as they host Alabama on Saturday. If they win out, they go to the conference title game, not Alabama. In order for the Tigers to go to the National Title game, they need to win out, and hope only 1 team is unbeaten. I do think they get in that way, but that's the only way.
6 - GEORGIA - BCS Avg: .7753 6-1) - Sked: Ole Miss, @ Auburn, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, SEC Title Game @ Atlanta (vs Bama or LSU)
A very impressive effort against Florida Saturday forcing 6 turnovers. They do still have a chance. They need some help. They need LSU to win this week, win the rest of their schedule including beating LSU in the conference title game, and hope that 1 or less teams are unbeaten. The Bulldogs regular season schedule is easy, if they win out, they go to Atlanta. It's not unthinkable, just not very likely.
7 - FLORIDA - BCS Avg: .7604 (7-1) Sked: Missouri, ULL, Jacksonville State, @ Florida State, SEC Title Game @ Atlanta (vs Bama or LSU)
Florida is in a similar situation to Georgia. The only difference is, the Gators no longer control their own destiny, they need UGA to lose somewhere along the way so they can get to Atlanta. Very unlikely. That offense was UGLY on Saturday. This looked more like the Florida team we thought we would see more often this season. Very strong defense, average at best offense. The luck finally ran out.
8 - SOUTH CAROLINA - BCS Avg: .5968 (7-2) Sked: vs Arkansas, vs Wofford, @ Clemson
With Marcus Lattimore's season and possibly career ending knee injury, the Cocks have no shot. End of story. They will probably win out, although Clemson on the road isn't easy. They just can't get enough help to get to even a BCS bowl period, let alone the title game.
9 - FLORIDA STATE - BCS Avg: 5743 (8-1) Sked: @ Virginia Tech, @ Maryland, Florida, ACC Title Game @ Charlotte
The Noles are the class of the ACC. Big deal. They SHOULD easily win the rest of their games, with Florida being the biggest challenge. Even a 1 loss FSU team with no unbeatens will have a very very difficult time getting to the national title game. Enjoy your consolation Orange Bowl, the paycheck, and look ahead to next year.
The only remote chance they have is for the Cardinals to be the only unbeaten team. If that happens, they may have a very slight chance of playing for it all, but like we see in the human polls and even the computers, there are several one loss teams already ahead of them, and that is not likely to change. Louisville's remaining schedule certainly doesn't help.
11 - OREGON STATE - BCS Avg: .5559 (6-1) - Sked: Arizona State, @ Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Oregon, Nicholls State/Pac 12 Title Game
The national championship talk is over, so now the question is how can the Beavers get to a BCS Bowl. The easy answer, win out. Beat everyone, including Oregon, win the Pac-12 title game, you are automatically in. I hate to say this, but you have to assume they lose to the Ducks, although Beaver fans might have something to say about that. Let's assume that happens. They need to beat ASU, Stanford, Cal and Nicholls State. If they do, and they have 2 losses, there is a very good chance that they get to Pasadena, UNLESS Oregon stumbles somewhere. If the Ducks go to the Rose Bowl, and not the national title game, Oregon State isn't enough of a draw for another BCS Bowl game to select them as an at large team, even with the rest of the conferences down. The SEC will get 2 teams in, there are 5 other automatic bids, and ND will get in, so that's 8 teams, leaving 2 spots open. The Big Ten and Big East won't get 2 teams in, leaving the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12 fighting for those last 2 spots. Clemson will take one if they win out, they won't play in the conference title game if FSU wins out, so that's one less chance of them losing a game. Even a 2 loss Clemson with the second loss possibly being against South Carolina would get in over a 2 loss OSU. A 2 loss Oklahoma would also be selected ahead of OSU. Remember, this is up to the bowls to pick who they want, regardless of what is 'fair". Because the Rose Bowl is obsessed with tradition, there is a very good chance they would select the Beavers ahead of Clemson or Oklahoma, there is no chance the other bowls do that. They do have to finish in the top 14 in the BCS in order to be eligible for an at large selection, as do the other schools involved.
**NO OTHER UNBEATEN TEAMS REMAIN
**Other Pac-12 Teams in BCS Top 25: (14) - Stanford; (17) - USC; (22) - Arizona
Title game: Oregon vs Alabama; Kansas State goes to Fiesta Bowl vs Notre Dame ; LSU in Sugar Bowl vs Oklahoma; Oregon State vs Nebraska in the Rose Bowl; Orange Bowl: Louisville vs Florida State
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Oregon State Play of the Night: Unfortunately for Beavers' fans and Oregon State players, the turning point of the night had to be the 4th INT by starting quarterback Sean Mannion. The game was tied 10-all, the Beavers seemed to be in a position to come out of a very ugly game with a win, and the sophomore QB coming back from a knee injury threw a very untimely pick to Marcus Peters that gave Washington the ball. One play later Price to Williams put Washington at the one-yard line. Sure it isn't something positive but Mannion's four picks cost OSU the ball game, and made any kind of an offensive rhythm impossible to get going. The pick also triggered a switch at QB for OSU that nearly won the game for them. Now some wonder whether Mannion is the answer for OSU the rest of the way this season.
Player of the Game: Brandin Cooks. Kid had nine catches for 123-yards a TD. He seemed to take the leadership role after Markus Wheaton was put out on a helmet-to-helmet hit. Cody Vaz a close second, but Cooks did everything you could have asked from him.
Quote of the Night: Sean Mannion: "It was a tough loss against a great opponent. Washington played a great game, I thought they played well tonight, I'm not happy we lost, but this team has great character. We're going to be ready to go next week, that's for sure."
What to Look Forward to: Arizona State. The Beavers get to play at home, under the lights, and to play a good team in the Sun Devils. An ASU team that's coming off of a heart-breaking loss themselves to UCLA 45-43. It should be a good test for an OSU team that now knows what it's like to be punched in the mouth after being a ranked team. Whether they can learn from this loss and move on and improve against ASU might be the determining factor in how far OSU can travel in postseason play.
We'll see how they respond under the bright lights.
Oregon and Oregon State remain in the AP Top 10 heading into week nine….
No one could have told me with a straight face and serious conversation that the Beavers (6-0; 4-0 Pac-12) and the Ducks (7-0; 4-0 Pac-12) would be in the AP Top 10 heading into week nine. But here we are – our two Oregon teams with two perfect records, the highest ranked duo in a single state, holding onto the No. 2 and the No.7 spot. What an exciting season it has been whether you’re a black and orange Beaver believer or a die-hard Duck.
Sophomore Sean Mannion had a lot to prove heading into this year, with the Beavs coming off a dismal 3-9 season; the worst since 1997. Oregon State was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 northern division and the thought that they would miss out on post season play for the third consecutive year cross our minds. When Mannion suffered a knee injury the same week Oregon State made the top 10, many thought it was a great ride, but that was the season for the Beavers. It was reported that Mannion would be out 3-4 weeks, and whether it was prayer or rehab, he was back in pads on the sidelines in Provo to take on BYU just 8 days after surgery. As it turned out, the Beavs didn’t need him as backup Cody Vaz stepped in and completed 20 of 32 for 332 yards and 3 TD passes; pretty impressive for his first QB start since high school. Equally impressive is the fact that BYU had only given up six touchdowns in their previous six games, but gave up six against the Beavs in Corvallis.
AP Photo - Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State followed that W with another the following week, defeating the Utes 21-7 at home in front of a crowd of over 45,000; the 5th largest ever at Reser Stadium. Next up: Washington Huskies (3-4; 1-3 Pac-12) Gametime: 7:15 PM – Pac 12 Network
And how about those Ducks? How about these stats? Fourth in the nation in rushing yards with 317; second in the nation with points scored at 51; Freshman QB Marcus Mariota has a 68.3% completion rate with 16 TD passes and 1347 yards; and if you watched the game last week against the Sun Devils, you witnessed the Ducks put 43 points on the board – and all 43 of those points were on the board just three and half minutes into the second.
No. 2 Oregon is having the season many expected. Maybe not to the degree of outscoring opponents 357 – 141, but not at all surprised they are undefeated as the head into week 9 of what may be shaping up to be the perfect season. I know the BCS doesn’t agree with me right now, but maybe it’ll come around.
AP Photo - Oregon Ducks
If I was Colorado coach Embree, I think I may have called Chip this week and asked for a forfeit. The Buffaloes have been outscored by an average of 37 points per game the past three times they have taken the field. You can expect more of that tomorrow afternoon as they head to one of the loudest stadiums in NCAA football. Oregon is raising eyebrows with what some call the most dynamic offense in college ball today. Couple that with the fact that opponents have converted just 9 of 28 red zone visits into TD’s, you can expect an old fashioned blowout.
In the second edition of the BCS Standings, the Ducks get passed by Kansas State and Oregon State moves up a spot to 7. No reason to be concerned Duck fans, still a lot of football to be played, and I still find it hard to believe K State will be ahead of Oregon at the end of the season, even if both are unbeaten. I will explain what it will take for each team to get to the BCS Title Game, with predictions at the end.
1 - ALABAMA -BCS AVG: .9625 (7-0) Remaining Schedule: Miss St, @LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn, SEC Title Game @ Atlanta
Aalabama has three tough games back to back, and then a game against either Florida or Georgia in the conference title game. Can they do it? Well, if anyone can, it's the tide. Their passing game is the best it's been in a long time, I'm still not sold on their run game, and their defense is outstanding. They face a Mississippi State team Saturday that has the best offense in school history, but it's hard to know what to make of the Bulldogs, their best win is over Tennessee. Then, it's off to Baton Rouge to see LSU who isn't last year's team, but still very good, and Zach Mettenberger is starting to play up to what was expected. Once that's done... they host Texas A&M. Say what you will about Bama's schedule up to this point, but it's about to get real.
2 - FLORIDA - BCS Avg: .9310 (7-0) Sked: Georgia, Missouri, ULL, Jacksonville State, @ Florida State, SEC Title Game @ Atlanta (Likely vs Alabama)
Florida crushed South Carolina 44-11 on Saturday, but they were helped out from some really bad self inflicted turnovers. Florida's offense was awful in the first half of that game. They had 2 first downs in the first half. All 3 of their scoring drives in the first half were less than 30 yards. Florida is very good, not great, and still has some glaring issues passing the football. Brent Pease was extremely creative with his play calling, and this team is still trying to adjust to the spread from a more pro style offense, and they just aren't cohesive yet. I'm not sitting here telling you Florida isn't deserving of being #2 because I'm a Pac-12 homer. Florida IS deserving of being #2 right now...3 at worst. But they won't be there at the end of the year. If they beat Georgia Saturday, they clinch a spot in the SEC title game.
K State fans are rooting for Oklahoma this week. Why? Oklahoma is their best win, especially after seeing how badly West Virginia has been exposed the last couple of weeks. If the Sooners lose, it drops their strength of schedule, if they win, they stay right up there in the top 10, and it knocks Notre Dame from the ranks of the unbeaten. Kansas State really should go undefeated. They don't have a ton of defense, nobody in the Big 12 does, but these are all very winnable games, and Collin Klein is establishing himself as a Heisman favorite. Even if the Wildcats run the table, Duck fans, and Beaver fans for that matter, shouldn't be too concerned. I'll explain below.
4 - OREGON - BCS Avg: .8966 (7-0) Sked: Colorado, @USC, @CAL, Stanford, @ Oregon State, Pac 12 Title Game
Oregon obviously has to win all of their games, if they do there is a great chance they get to Miami if they do that, regardless of what everyone else does. Here's why for each team: Bama/Florida - if they run the table they face each other in the SEC title game, one will lose. Kansas State - Oregon's strength of schedule raises up quite a few notches after Colorado. Outside of Cal on the road, everyone else on their schedule is likely to be ranked, and fairly highly. Factor in they do play a conference title game, and would have beaten USC twice most likely, and Kansas State does not have a conference title game, they would get the extra boost. Notre Dame: See below.
3 wins here easily.... or at least should be. 3 AWFUL teams. Oklahoma should be interesting. The Sooners can score at will, but don't play much defense. The Irish can't score, and have an outstanding defense. I just find it very hard to believe they will beat Oklahoma AND USC on the road, and I think most people will agree. They can't compete offensively with either school, and BYU was able to put up 2 touchdowns after Notre Dame hadn't allowed an offensive TD in over a month. I have to think they will allow 1 or 2 sustained drives and 1 or 2 big plays in each game. They won't be able to overcome that. IF they do, their schedule isn't easy, but it doesn't match up with Oregon.
6 - LSU - BCS Avg: .7862 (7-1) - Sked: Alabama, Miss St, Ole Miss, @ Arkansas, SEC Title Game
LSU still has a shot. If they beat Alabama, and run the table, get revenge against Florida in the conference championship, and get some help.... 2 of the 3... Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame lose, they will be the best 1 loss team, and get in.
7 - OREGON STATE - BCS Avg: .7421 (6-0) - Sked: @ Washington, Arizona State, @ Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Oregon, Nicholls State/Pac 12 Title Game
The Beavers are finding ways to win. Saturday was ugly, but what when they have 4 takeaways, and don't turn the ball over, they can beat anyone, even Oregon. Where Oregon State gets in trouble on the field is when they match up with teams with a lot of speed, Oregon and USC. Arizona was able to go toe to toe with the Beavers on offense, I think Oregon and USC can do that farily easily, as long as they don't turn the ball over. They don't have USC on the schedule so that would be in the conference championship, at home. As far as the math is concerned, they get into trouble. Because USC isn't scheduled, they only have the chance to beat them once. This is of course assuming OSU runs the table. The ranked teams they would have beaten would be Oregon, Stanford, USC, and now Wisconsin who has crept back in at #24. Great wins, but not enough to pass Alabama/FloridaKansas State, or Notre Dame. If the Beavs are 1 of 2 unbeatens, that's the only way they get to Miami, they have to get some help.
No chance at playing for the title. IF there aren't 2 unbeatens, any SEC school would get in over the Sooners, so would Oregon, USC or Notre Dame. Again, no conference title game really hurts if it comes down to that.
If they beat Oregon twice, and Notre Dame, they may have a chance with some help. And by some, I mean a LOT. There would have to be no unbeaten teams, then they could get in over Kansas State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame (who could have 2 losses).
Running the table for the Dawgs means a win over #2 Florida, and likely a win over #1 Alabama in the SEC title game. The rest of their schedule is very weak.. No Bama or LSU in the regular season. There really is no chance.
OTHER UNBEATEN TEAMS IN BCS TOP 25 - 11 Mississippi State (7-0), 15 Rutgers (6-0), 16 Louisville (6-0), Ohio (7-0)
Mississippi State still has Bama and LSU on the road, and Texas A&M at home. The Rutgers and Louisville play each other at the end of the season, and have as much of a chance at playing in the title game as Ohio does.
Once again, it's simple. Wait and see. It's easy to say Alabama is the best team, and will be unbeaten, but that schedule is so difficult. I think they do, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they lose. Florida will lose to Alabama. Kansas State will probably go undefeated, I really think so. I also think Oregon does as well. I see Notre Dame losing twice. I think Oregon State makes it through with 1 loss, to Oregon, but if they have an overall offensive effort like they did against Utah, they could lose any of their remaining games. Especially Stanford on the road. So what do I think happens?
Title game: Oregon vs Alabama; Kansas State goes to Fiesta Bowl; Florida in Sugar Bowl; Oregon State vs Wisconsin rematch in the Rose Bowl; I don't care what happens in the Big East and the ACC, and neither does anyone else.
For more, tune in to Travis & Wilcox weekdays Noon-3 pacific on ESPN Sports Radio 1080 The FAN, www.1080thefan.com and the 1080 The FAN app.
Oregon State Play of the Night: Michael Doctor's first quarter interception off Travis Wilson, that came off of a tip, was returned 19-yards, and eventually gave the Beavers the ball at the Utah 16.
Reason: Look, you could point at a number of other plays, but the reasoning for this one was because it seemed to set the tone for the entire game. OSU's offense had gone three and out three times prior to that interception. There was absolutely no rythm offensively, so the INT allowed a stagnant offense a short field to work with, and helped give OSU a lead they would never relinquish.
Player of the Game: I could easily give this award to a defensive player, namely; Rudy Fifita, for his bone-jarring hit on Travis Wilson that forced a fumble, DJ Alexander, who came up with the 4th down sack to seal the game and was an animal all game, or even Scott Crichton, who proved to be a real load for the Utah offensive line. Hell, Keith Kostol could get a nod here. Laugh all you want, but if the punting game is off tonight (five kicks downed inside the 20) Utah might have been able to get something going.
No, my player(s) of the game are exactly that. Players. The offensive line deserves the nod here. Specifically Josh Andrews and true freshman Isaac Seumalo. Utah came in with one of the best defensive line's in the conference. Anchored by future top-10 NFL draft pick, Star Lotulelei. Last season the line was to blame for a lot, but this season they've turned it around. Sure the OSU ground game managed just 77 yards, but Woods was able to score when given the opportunity, and Cody Vaz wasn't sacked all game. Props to the guys who took the blame. They did all they could, and helped tip the Beavers over the edge.
Quote of the Night: "It's awesome. We aren't going to be complacent and we're going to keep this thing going. It was an ugly win for us tonight, but the defense played great, so hats off to them." - Cody Vaz on OSU becoming bowl eligible.
What to Look Forward to: Next weekend the Beavers travel to Century Link field in Seattle, to take on the Washington Huskies. A 3-4 team that is coming off of a 52-17 schilacking at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats, in Tucson. I strongly believe that OSU is the better team, and that Washington is really reeling. However, you can never discount a team in the Pac-12 (except maybe Colorado), nor a team OSU is facing. They've been inconsistent on the road and at home, and at some point it could bite them in the butt.
I'm not saying it will be next weekend, I just wouldn't automatically chalk it down as a "W." Also, QB Sean Mannion will be returning, and whether he can come back and put up Arizona or UCLA-type numbers is still unseen. It should be an intriguing matchup, especially since OSU lost a nail-bitter of a game the last time they played against Washington in Seattle (a double overtime loss). One more thing to take note of, Oregon State has never started the season 7-0. They get that chance next weekend.