Good Thoughts/Bad Thoughts from College Football Week 13
1. Bad Teams Pulling Off Monumental Wins- Two teams who have had horrible 2011 seasons picked up monumental victories this weekend. First of all, Florida Atlantic appeared to be on its way to ending legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger’s career with a winless season. Nevertheless, the Owls broke through this weekend and knocked off fellow FBS bottom-dweller UAB in a 38-35 thriller. It was also Florida Atlantic’s first victory in their brand-new FAU Stadium.
However, the big whopper, and the HIGHLIGHT OF THE 2011 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON FOR ME, came in Lexington, KY where Kentucky finally ended their record-setting 26 game losing streak to Tennessee. I was literally three weeks in my mother’s womb the last time Kentucky beat the Vols, and I really thought that I may live my entire life as a Kentucky fan and never once be alive for a Wildcat victory over Tennessee. As many of you know, my four life goals as a sports fan are to see: (1) A 16 seed beat a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, (2) Wake Forest win a football or basketball national championship, (3) a horse win the Triple Crown, and (4) a British tennis player win Wimbledon. Well, a couple of years ago I started an auxiliary list of secondary goals which included things like seeing: (1) a non-AQ team win an undisputed football national championship, (2) a senior PGA tour player win a golf major, and (3) Kentucky beat Tennessee in football. These secondary milestones aren’t quite as important as the big four, but they are still things that would be the icing on the cake to a great life as a sports fan. Well one of those items can officially be checked off the list as the Wildcats beat the Volunteers in an ugly slugfest on Saturday afternoon.
Boise’s loss to TCU and the impending all-SEC title game rematch has really ruined this college football season for me. Kentucky’s win on Saturday just proves that the Lord will always find a way to brighten your life, just when you need it the most.
2. My 2011 Bowl Projections- My 14th annual College Football Bowl Projections will be published on this site on Monday morning! Be on the look out to see where your favorite team(s) will likely be playing this postseason.
3. Cougar Dominance- There’s nothing really to be said here except “wow!” Over the past few weeks, I have been mocked by many critics for ranking Houston # 1 on my top 25 ballot. Well, they sure validated my stance this weekend with a dominating road victory over Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane had run through their C-USA schedule with ease until they met the Cougars on Friday afternoon. It was then that Case Keenum proved why he deserves the Heisman trophy by putting up 558 yards of offense en route to a 32-point victory! If you still think that Houston has no business playing in the national title game please consider this: only two football teams in the history of the game have scored at least 35 points in every single game they’ve played for an entire season. One of them was the 1995 national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers, considered by many to be the best team of all-time, and the other is this year’s Houston Cougars.
1. Meaningless Final Saturday- I warned about this looming disaster in my thoughts of the week column last week, and now the situation is officially upon us. A true college football fan’s worst nightmare has been realized. We have reached the final weekend of the college football regular season and not a single championship week game matters. I thought the whole point of this horrible BCS system was to create a “regular season playoff” where every weekend matters. Now you’re telling me that the national title game is already set in stone even before a single conference championship game is played! Everyone is an agreement that LSU can just go to into the Georgia Dome, get lit up by Dawgs in the SEC Championship game, and then just sit back and wait to play Bama.
Think about that for a second… if Georgia beats LSU in the SEC title game, WE WILL HAVE A SITUATION WHERE THE SECOND AND THIRD BEST TEAMS IN THE SAME CONFERENCE PLAY EACH OTHER IN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSIHP GAME! THAT’S ABSURD!!! Especially when you consider that there is another really good undefeated team still out there (Houston) and a one-loss team who actually beat the SEC Champion! Let’s not forget that Boise State beat Georgia in the Georgia Dome to start the season. If Georgia goes on to beat LSU in that exact same stadium, THERE IS NO ARGUMENT in the world not based on bigotry, hate and/or discrimination that validates putting LSU and Alabama in the title game over Boise State. Not a single one. You would be putting the second and third place teams in the SEC (each with one loss) in the national title game when a different one-loss team actually beat the SEC Champ.
That BCS Math would look like this: 2 one-loss teams worse than SEC Champ > one-loss team better than SEC Champ. What a joke. I’m not sure how Rece Davis, Mark May, Craig James, or anyone else who defends this system can sleep at night.
2. The Bruin Dilemma- What a mess UCLA has gotten itself into! I have speculated for years about the hilarious possibility of a 6-6 team losing bowl eligibility by sneaking into its conference championship game and then losing to drop to 6-7. It almost happened last year with SMU in Conference USA. The Mustangs clinched the C-USA West Division and bowl eligibility with a 6-5 record entering the final weekend of the regular season. However, a loss to ECU and then a loss in the C-USA title game would drop SMU to 6-7 and not give them the .500 or better record necessary to play in a bowl game. Fortunately, the Mustangs knocked off ECU to get to 7-5 and did not have to worry about losing their bowl eligibility status in the conference title game. This year UCLA is not so lucky. The Bruins clinched bowl eligibility two weeks ago with a victory over Colorado, but with this weekend’s loss to Southern Cal, UCLA enters the Pac-12 Championship game with a 6-6 record and will almost assuredly lose their bowl eligibility status by losing at Oregon on Friday night. This begs the question: should UCLA even play next Friday’s game? Could they just decline to play in the championship game to ensure themselves bowl eligibility? After UCLA loses to the Ducks, the Bruins do have the option to ask the Pac-12 to apply for an NCAA waiver that would allow the Bruins to play in a bowl game despite their 6-7 record. However, there are two problems with this course of action. The first is that traditionally such waivers have been denied by the NCAA, as a 6-6 Arizona State squad had its waiver application rejected just last season (albeit under different circumstances). The second issue is that reports are circulating that Rick Neuheisel may be fired as UCLA’s coach soon after Friday’s game is played. If that’s the case, I am not even sure the Bruins would even be interested in playing in a postseason bowl game. At the beginning of this year, could anyone fathom a scenario where Neuheisel got his UCLA team to the first-ever conference title game and then got fired? This whole situation is quite bizarre.
3. Heartbreak in the Pac-12 South- Speaking of the Pac-12 South, there are two other teams and fanbases who have to be sick to death that they didn’t end up clinching this horrible division. In the beginning of November, Arizona State had a two-game lead over the entire division and looked more assured of playing in their conference title game than any other team in the country. However, Arizona State then went out and lost their last four games of the season, all against mediocre-to-bad competition in games they were heavily favored to win. With ASU down for the count, the title then seemed to be Utah’s for the taking. In fact, if the Utes had just beaten an abysmal 2-9 Colorado team on Friday, then they would be the Pac-12 South Champs. However, Utah failed to show up on either side of the ball and ended up losing to the Buffs 17-14, despite being a 21 point favorite. Now, that it’s all said and done and UCLA basically won the Pac-12 South by default, I think it’s safe to say that the Bruins might be the worst division champion in BCS conference history.