Jordan Lynch and undefeated Northern Illinois helped get this week started, defeating Ball State 48-27 in some Wednesday night MACtion. Lynch threw for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding another 123 yards and 2 more touchdowns on the ground. The Huskies are now 10-0 and on the cusp of crashing the BCS for the second year in a row.
Speaking of the BCS, Week 11 had huge implications for who will be playing in those coveted BCS bowls. A titanic clash out west caused a shakeup at the top of the standings, one team thought to be out of it is now squarely back in it, and an upstart program proved that it indeed belonged.
Oh, and the top team in the country reminded everyone that it’s still the team to beat.
Heavyweights Collide, Title Hopes are Kindled & Dashed
Last Thursday was the best Thursday college football has seen in some time. Having one Thursday night game with national title aspirations on the line is rare enough, but last Thursday featured two.
In the early game, Baylor thrashed Oklahoma and proved it is a legitimate title contender. The Bears hadn’t had much of a test at all this season, and many people were wondering how they would fare against the Sooners. After a 41-12 victory, those questions have been answered. The Bears still put up 41 points despite a slow start and going scoreless in the first quarter. Bryce Petty accounted for 5 touchdowns, and third-string running back Shock Linwood ran for 182 yards. Even better, Baylor’s defense proved it could hold up against a physical offense, holding Oklahoma to just 237 yards.
The marquee game of the night saw Stanford hand Oregon its first loss of the season and dash the Ducks’ national title hopes for the second year in a row. The Cardinal dominated the Ducks for three quarters and withstood a 20-point onslaught in the final period to win 26-20. Stanford rushed for 274 yards, including 157 from Tyler Gafney, and held the ball for a whopping 42.5 minutes. As prolific as Oregon’s offense is, it can’t score when it doesn’t have the ball. When the Ducks did have possession, Stanford’s stifling defense made life miserable for Marcus Mariota & Co. Oregon is now out of the running for a national championship, but Stanford is back in the picture.
Saturday lacked the drama of Thursday. Miami failed to recover from its crushing loss to Florida State a week ago and was walloped by Virginia Tech 42-24. Texas Tech and Notre Dame both lost, but those were the only upsets. The big game on Saturday was #1 Alabama against #13 LSU. This game went down to the wire a year ago, but that was not the case this time. The game was tied in the third quarter, but Alabama pulled away, scoring the game’s final 21 points in a 38-17 victory.
Looking Ahead to Week 12
Unlike last week, there aren’t really any must-see games on the slate this week. It’s like the schedule makers knew that last week was going to be awesome and decided to give everyone a break.
Still, intriguing games can be found. Thursday offers an interesting matchup between #8 Clemson and 6-3 Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have such a unique offense that they could give the Tigers problems, especially on a short week.
Friday features two good, but flawed, Pac-12 teams when #13 UCLA squares off against Washington. The Huskies have three losses, but two came in tough games against Oregon and Stanford. UCLA is battling injuries but does have two-way sensation Myles Jack, the linebacker who earned Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors after rushing for 120 yards on six carries and scoring on a 66-yard run.
Talk about revenge of the nerds. For years, USC dominated Stanford. Now, it’s the Cardinal who are the bullies. Stanford has won four-straight against the Trojans and are coming off a huge win over previously undefeated and second-ranked Oregon. That win put the Cardinal back in the mix for a national title, and while USC somehow has seven wins, these aren’t Pete Carroll’s Trojans. For those of you who want to see USC knocked down a peg, this game is for you.
There are a couple of matchups pitting top-25 teams. Auburn takes on Georgia on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers have quietly climbed to #7 in the nation and will be looking to reverse their recent fortunes against the Bulldogs, having lost six-of-seven to Georgia. The Bulldogs are still banged-up and have struggled on defense, but as long as Aaron Murray is around, it’d be foolish to count them out.
The biggest game of the weekend has #12 Oklahoma State traveling to Austin to take on #24 Texas in a game vital to both teams’ Big 12 championship hopes. Both teams come in hot, with Texas riding a six-game winning streak while Oklahoma State has won its last five games. Both teams have quarterbacks coming off their best games of the seasons, and both have struggled at times on defense. Oklahoma State isn’t quite the explosive offensive unit to which we’ve become accustomed, but Texas has suffered a rash of injuries.
The most surprising matchup of the week takes place in the ACC and pits two 7-2 teams. A 7-2 Miami team isn’t much of a surprise, but a 7-2 Duke team certainly is. The Blue Devils have been winning via smoke-and-mirrors, but the fact remains that they’ve still won 7 games and clinched their first winning season in almost 20 years. Miami started the year off 7-0 but has lost its last two games in blowout fashion. To make matters worse. star tailback Duke Johnson is out for the year after breaking his ankle against Florida State. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, are riding a five-game winning streak. However, Duke has never beaten Miami in eight tries as ACC foes.