This week’s Jordan Lynch update: just another ho-hum game, y’know, breaking the record he set for most rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback in FBS history. Lynch ran for 321 yards in leading Northern Illinois past Western Michigan 33-14 and giving the Huskies their first undefeated regular season in 50 years.
More importantly for the Huskies, they jumped ahead of Fresno State in the latest BCS rankings, meaning they have the inside track to an automatic BCS berth.
Last week saw a couple more contenders go down in flames, leaving us with a much clearer national championship picture.
Of course, this is also Rivalry Week, meaning anything can happen.
And Then There Were Three
You gotta give it to Baylor, the Bears don’t do anything half-assed. When they win, they annihilate opponents. When they lose, they get obliterated, and you have to respect that black-or-white/no-shades-of-gray style.
The previously undefeated and #4-ranked Bears went up to frigid Stillwater, Oklahoma and got trampled by the Cowboys, 49-17. OSU quarterback Clint Chelf played out of his mind, completing 19-of-25 passes for a career-high 370 yards and accounted for 4 touchdowns while the Cowboy defense recovered three fumbles and stopped Baylor twice on fourth down.
The loss ends Baylor’s national championships hopes and puts the Cowboys in the driver’s seat for a Big 12 title.
Out west, the Oregon Ducks got their wish: they were tired of the Rose Bowl, and a staggering 42-16 loss to Arizona means the Ducks won’t be going to Pasadena this January. The loss means that Stanford will represent the Pac-12 North in the conference championship game.
The Cardinal’s opponent was determined when Arizona State hung on to defeat UCLA 38-33. The Sun Devils nearly blew a 22-point lead but managed to make enough plays down the stretch to hold off the Bruins. ASU will now get another crack at Stanford, having lost 42-28 back in September.
Missouri got a big road win at Ole Miss, 24-10, enabling the Tigers to keep pace in the SEC East. The week was not as kind to Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. They were thrashed by LSU 34-10, and Manziel easily had his worst game of the year. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was only 16-for-41 for 224 yards with 1 touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
Looking Ahead to Week 14, AKA Rivalry Week
This is only the most anticipated week of the season, when bitter rivals square off for bragging rights and the chance to ruin each others’ seasons. Some of the most storied rivalry games have lost their luster this year on account of their participants’ performance, but down south, one of the most bitter games has huge implications.
The Auburn-Alabama is one of the most heated rivalries in all of college football. Both fanbases are passionate and borderline maniacal. Case in point: after Auburn won the national title in 2010, Alabama fan Harvey Updyke poisoned the famed trees on Toomer’s Corner at Auburn because he was so upset seeing his hated rival win.
The Iron Bowl, the annual game between the two schools, hasn’t been on the national radar since that 2010 season when Cam Newton rallied the Tigers from a 24-0 first half deficit against the Crimson Tide and pulled out a 28-27 victory that kept Auburn’s undefeated season and national championship run alive.
Since that season, however, things have most decidedly gone Alabama’s way. The Crimson Tide have won the past two national titles while Auburn fell off significantly after that season. The Crimson Tide have won the past two Iron Bowls by a combined 91-14, including a 49-0 shutout last year. Auburn coach Gene Chizik was fired just two seasons after winning that title. His replacement, Gus Malzahn, was the offensive coordinator of that title-winning team, and he looked to restore Auburn to its former glory.
It just wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly.
In Malzahn’s first year, the Tigers are 10-1 and have climbed to #4 in the latest BCS rankings. When they square off against top-ranked Alabama on Saturday, it will mark only the second time the two rivals have met when both are ranked in the top five. The SEC West division title and national title hopes are on the line.
That’s not the only big game taking place in the SEC this weekend. The SEC East Division will be decided as well. Either #5 Missouri or #10 South Carolina will advance to face either Alabama or Auburn, and that will be determined by the outcome of Missouri against Texas A&M. The Aggies are out of the running but can still play spoiler for their former Big 12 rivals. If Mizzou wins, the Tigers will advance to the SEC championship game. If the Aggies pull the upset, then South Carolina will go.
There are a couple of other games with national implications on the schedule. Fresno State has already clinched its division and a berth in the inaugural Mountain West championship game, but the Bulldogs need to keep winning to keep their BCS hopes alive. San Jose State has had a disappointing season, but quarterback David Fales is a legitimate NFL prospect and gives the Spartans a chance in every game.
Out east, Duke continues its march towards an improbable conference title shot. The Blue Devils are 9-2 and leading the Coastal Division of the ACC. One more win over in-state rival North Carolina, and the Blue Devils will earn their school-record 10th win, a Coastal Division title, and a spot in the ACC championship game where they will have the chance to play for a BCS berth. They’ll have their work cut out for them against a resurgent North Carolina team that has won five-in-a-row and is actually favored in this game.
Those are the big games with conference and national title implications, but there are plenty of other juicy matchups to indulge in. Oregon and Oregon State face each other in the Civil War, and both teams are looking to rebound after humiliating losses last week.
Stanford and Notre Dame renew their annual rivalry. Last year’s game went to overtime and resulted in an Irish victory on a controversial goal line call.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12, USC takes on UCLA in a crosstown battle. Both teams were eliminated from the Pac-12 South race when Arizona State held on to beat the Bruins last week, but each still has plenty to play for. The Trojans were counted out when Lane Kiffin was fired, but interim coach Ed Orgeron has righted the ship. USC has gone 6-1 under Orgeron and upset Stanford, and the players want Orgeron to get the job permanently. A win over rival UCLA would certainly help the cause. On the other sideline, UCLA has continued to improve under Jim Mora, Jr. and wants to prove that LA is no longer the Trojans’ town.
Florida State takes on Florida in an in-state rivalry game that has the name but not the substance. The Gators are awful this year and lost to FCS Georgia Southern last week. They figure to stand no chance against the undefeated Seminoles.
The same could be said about Ohio State and Michigan. It’s one of the most storied rivalries in all of college sports, but Michigan has struggled this year and doesn’t have the horses to hang with the Buckeyes.