>Wednesday Lunch: All Eyez on Me

Posted: November 17, 2010 in ncaafb
Tags: ,

>By Dylan Davis
Oregon, Auburn, and TCU had all eyes on them this past weekend, and they didn’t totally satisfy the voters. In week ten, all of the top ranked teams blew away their competition and it seemed as if the top four were untouchable. Then week 11 rolled around, and suddenly everyone seemed imminently beatable. Top ranked Oregon survived a scare at Cal, needing a late Golden Bears missed field goal to escape with a two-point victory. Second ranked Auburn looked horrendous on defense against Georgia, and the game wasn’t fully in hand until defensive tackle Nic Fairly injured Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray with a brutal cheap shot to the knees. TCU survived a scare late at San Diego State, although the five-point victory they secured was actually not as close as it sounds. Only fourth ranked Boise State was able to escape the weekend without a close game, as they dominated Idaho from the get-go on Friday night. These results just go to show that no one is untouchable in college football, and this year there are no perfect teams. Oregon and Auburn both have suspect defenses, and TCU and Boise State have yet to show their dominance against a top-flight schedule. Two weeks ago, it seemed impossible that Oregon and Auburn wouldn’t both be in the title game at seasons end, but now it seems increasingly likely that one, and possibly both, could lose and be locked out of the title race. Both play rivalry games on the road to close the season and either TCU or Boise would step in if they stumbled. As it stands right now, and looks to continue this way no matter what, if the Ducks and the Tigers win out, they would stay ahead of the non-AQ schools and meet in Glendale. But, as that one guy once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

There has been no more news in the Cam Newton case, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating. Although Newton has had nothing proved against him, standard operating procedure of players that are under investigation is to suspend them, and then try for reinstatement through the NCAA. Auburn clearly has no intention of benching their star QB at this point even though AJ Green of Georgia and most of North Carolinas starting defense was suspended for varying amounts for unproven allegations earlier this year. A thought that is very pervasive throughout the nation is that Auburn should continue to play Newton in the hopes of winning a championship, and if the wins were vacated, well they would have been vacated either way so it doesn’t matter. There is flaws in this mode of thinking because if the NCAA can prove that Auburn knowingly played a player that had misdeeds to his name (such as being paid to play), they would be in a lot more trouble than if they had sat him down once the allegations came out. The entire Auburn administration is playing a dangerous game with their brand, because if Newton is shown to have taken money or anything of the sort, their recruiting will suffer because of fewer scholarships (such as USC’s has after the Reggie Bush scandal) and recruits may be influenced by the controversy surrounding the program. If Newton is not found guilty, however, Auburn is obviously helping their chances of winning a title by playing him, and in turn helping their future recruiting. It remains to be seen when the final verdict will be brought down, it’s very likely nothing will be resolved until Newton is making millions in the pro’s, but Auburn could still be severely limiting its future by playing Newton now.
As with last week, there were also football games played to go along with the scandals, and some pretty meaningful ones at that. South Carolina was finally able to punch its first ticket to the SEC title game with a convincing win in Florida. Freshman sensation Marcus Lattimore carried the ball a Gamecock record 40 times in the win for over 200 yards and the defense did enough against an overmatched, inept Gator offense. Florida is still in line for a bowl bid (unlike Texas) but this year has been a sever disappointment, and Urban Meyer has to regroup next year if he doesn’t want his coaching seat to warm up a little bit.
On the other side of the SEC, Alabama reasserted itself as a dominant team with a surprisingly easy victory over ranked Mississippi State. The Tide rode Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, and a stifling defense to victory in a victory that was a throwback to last season’s national title team. If they can continue to use this formula, they have a great shot at knocking off Auburn and possibly going to a BCS bowl.
Northwestern shocked Iowa and just like that, the Big 10 picture became a little clearer. Now only Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin have one conference loss. If all three win out, the highest ranked according to the BCS would win the right to a BCS bowl. At this point, that would include a date to Pasadena to face either TCU or Boise State. Wisconsin obviously looked the most impressive as the rolled Indiana to the tune of 83 points without starting running back John Clay. The Badgers look to be in the driver’s seat if they can win out, but don’t count out the Buckeyes and Spartans.
Notre Dame continued its bipolar style of play with a 28-3 thumping of ranked Utah. It was obvious that the Utes were still shocked at last weeks shellacking at the hands of TCU, but Notre Dame deserves credit for showing up without its starting QB or running back and walloping a highly rated team. The defense has been a major issue for the Irish for years, but they were able to shut down the explosive attack of Utah for four quarters. This obviously hurts TCU, as it s signature win now looks a little less impressive.
Virginia Tech has slowly crept back into the national elite and the 16-point victory over North Carolina was another step towards national prominence. Just like Utah’s loss hurt TCU, the continuing victories, and subsequent climbing in the polls by the Hokies have boosted Boise State’s stock. The early season choke job against James Madison is now looking like a fluke and if they continue to dominate their schedule, they will be a difficult match up for any school in a BCS game.
USC is another team that has slightly fallen out of the national eye, but they have notched a number of impressive wins this year and this weekend’s victory at 18th ranked Arizona was an indication that the Trojans still have talent on both sides of the ball. Obviously, the recruiting restrictions have limited their depth on both sides of the ball, but they still have enough talent to pull out games like this. If Lane Kiffin can keep his young core of talent from transferring, he should have a solid base to compete for national titles when the restrictions end.

Heisman Watch:

1. Cam Newton (QB Auburn) ­­– Still the consensus leader, especially after LaMichael James’ disappointing day. Newton absolutely did whatever he wanted against an overmatched Georgia defense, but if he can get by Alabama (and all the allegations against him) with decent numbers, he should rap up the stiff-armed trophy.
2. LaMichael James (HB Oregon) – Had less than 100 yards against Cal and was slightly banged up in the second half, but if he can stay healthy, he’s one Auburn loss away from taking over the top spot.
Once again, there are only two real candidates for the trophy, but Kellen Moore and Justin Blackmon once again showed that they are contenders to be invited as window dressing in New York in December.
Week 12 Preview
Some big matchups this week that should clarify conference races.
Best Games of the Week:
DogsStangs11.standalone.prod_affiliate.8Boise State vs. Fresno State: Fresno showed last week against Nevada that their rushing attack could give anyone fits. They also showed that with the game on the line, their passing game is not where it should be. The Bulldogs should keep it interesting, but the Broncos have too much talent on both sides of the ball. Pick: Boise-35 Fresno-27

Stanford vs. Cal: Cal showed that their defense is high caliber at home, and this one’s at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, which should give them an advantage. Stanford is more balanced than Oregon, and their defense is a little stronger, so they should be able to eek out a victory. With that being said, this is a rivalry game where anything can happen, I’m taking the upset. Pick: Cal-24 Stanford-20

Iowa vs. Ohio State: Iowa basically knocked itself out of the Big 10 title picture with their shocking loss to Northwestern, but they will be playing for revenge a year after losing to the Buckeyes on a last second kick. Ohio State seemingly should cruise in this game based on overall talent level, but they never make it that easy on themselves. Pick: Ohio State-30 Iowa-27

Virginia Tech vs. Miami: The Hokies can cement themselves as the class of the conference with a win over the ‘Canes, as both schools have improved dramatically since the start of the year. Tech is too balanced on offense, and has just a little too much defense for Miami to handle. Pick: Tech-26 Miami-20

Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Mississippi State showed that they were a bit of a fluke against Alabama, and Arkansas is tough team with an explosive offense. However, the Bulldogs have enough talent, and are hungry enough, to pull of the upset if everything goes right for them. I see Ryan Mallett doing just enough for the Razorbacks to pull out the important W. Pick: Arkansas-35 Mississippi State-24

Nebraska vs. Texas A&M: Nebraska still has an outside shot at the national title if a lot of things go right, but the Huskers need to stay focused on each and every game of they want to finish the season among the elite. A&M has already knocked off Oklahoma this season and have firepower on offense and defense. Another upset is in the making and I think the Aggies can pull this one off. Pick: Texas A&M-28 Nebraska-25

That’s all the time for this week, but join me next Wednesday for a look back at week 12 and any developments in the Cam Newton saga. Have a great weekend.


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