Huge upsets. Amazing finishes. Circus catches. There are reasons why the nation is captivated by college football each and every week, and all of them were on display in Week 11. Let’s catch you up to speed:
Down Go The Champs
It was the perfect recipe for an upset. Alabama was coming off of a huge, emotionally-draining victory versus Les Miles and the LSU Tigers, the national media was touting them as unbeatable, and Johnny Football was coming to town.
If you hadn’t heard of Texas A&M‘s star freshman quarterback before this week, he found quite a way to make his presence known. Johnny Manziel, better known as Johnny Football, is having an unbelievable season for the Aggies, and Saturday versus the Crimson Tide was just another chapter in his growing legend.
Manziel sparked the Aggies early, leading them to three touchdowns in the first quarter in Tuscaloosa against the vaunted Alabama defense. However, beating the defending champs is never easy, and Alabama battled back to make it 23-17 late in the fourth quarter.
But Johnny Football, the now-popular Heisman candidate, was too much for the Crimson Tide. With under nine minutes to play, Manziel lofted a beautiful 24-yard touchdown pass to Malcome Kennedy to put Texas A&M in the driver’s seat the rest of the way. Just like that, the No. 1 team in the country, the defending-champion Alabama Crimson Tide, was No. 1 no more.
The National Championship Picture
And then there were three. This past week on CollegeSpun we wrote that it was simply a matter of time — some of the undefeated teams were going to fall. That proved to be true this week when both undefeated Alabama and Louisville were handed their first losses. Now the race for the national title is down to three teams (for now): Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame.
The Oregon Ducks were involved in a close game — for about a half. They broke loose in the third quarter behind Marcus Mariota’s six touchdown passes as they cruised to a 59-17 victory over Cal. The Ducks are doing very well in the style-points category, but have a huge test looming this upcoming week: the Stanford Cardinal are coming to town.
Would Kansas State be without star quarterback Collin Klein against TCU? That was the question fans were asking all week, but Klein answered the bell and scored two touchdowns versus the Horned Frogs. The game was sloppy by any standard, but the Wildcats escaped with the only thing they care about moving forward: another win.
Last week, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame barely avoided an upset against Pitt, so how would they respond against Boston College? Not as well as some of the Irish faithful would have liked, but they did control the game start to finish on the way to an easy 21-6 victory. While the Irish could have used a blowout to impress some voters, head coach Brian Kelly insists that all he cares about right now is winning games.
Now obviously there are three teams left with only two spots in the national championship game, so which team of the three gets ousted? The humans love Oregon, but the computers do not. The computers love Notre Dame, but the humans do not. Kansas State has a little bit of both, but the national brand of the Wildcats may not eventually get the same respect as that of Oregon or Notre Dame. Some 1-loss SEC teams also believe that they can sneak back into the championship picture. Good thing we have three more weeks to go to figure this thing out.
3 Big Stats
Johnny Manziel became the second freshman quarterback since 1972 to win a game against the AP top-ranked team on the road.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 11, 2012
Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron has 380 straight pass attempts without an interception, breaking Russell Wilson’s FBS record of 379.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 11, 2012
Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey broke the Pac-12 single-game rushing record with 366 yards today (357 by Washington State’s Rueben Mayes in 1984).
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 10, 2012
The Rest of College Football
On Thursday Night, the Florida State Seminoles needed a late touchdown to escape Virginia Tech‘s upset bid.
The BIG EAST lost what little respect it had after its one lone contender lost, and lost badly. Syracuse stomped Louisville at the Carrier Dome.
UCLA just got by versus a bad Washington State team, but the Bruins are sneakily climbing back up the rankings.
Georgia absolutely destroyed Auburn and secured its spot in the SEC title game.
The wildest finish of the week has to go to Florida, right? Tied at 20 with Louisiana Lafayette with 13 seconds left on the clock, the Gators blocked a punt and took it to the house for the game-winning score. Just wow.
Michigan may argue that its finish against Northwestern was even more exciting. Trailing by three with under a minute to play, Devin Gardner threw a bomb to Roy Roundtree, who had to make an absolute circus catch to haul it in. The Wolverines tied it up in regulation and pulled out the upset victory in overtime (Michigan upsetting Northwestern? Yeah, it’s that kind of year) to stay in Big Ten contention. Don’t sleep on the Wolverines, whose three losses are to Notre Dame, Alabama, and Nebraska.
There was quite a showdown in the PAC-12 between Oregon State and Stanford. It was a bit of a change of the conference norm with a substantial amount of defense and physicality, which is right up Stanford’s alley. Stanford pulled out a win and can now turn its attention to the Oregon Ducks.
LSU took care of business against Mississippi State.
The boys at Louisiana Tech continue to ball. A win over Texas State won’t impress anyone, but a 9-1 record will.
Nebraska fended off a feisty Penn State squad.
Baylor gave Oklahoma a real test, but the Sooners didn’t throw in the towel. Oklahoma still has some big aspirations for this season.
My Quick Heisman Five
1. Collin Klein – Kansas State
2. Manti Te’o – Notre Dame
3. Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M
4. Kenjon Barner – Oregon
5. Braxton Miller – Ohio State
Now that’s eleven weeks in the books, and we are more than three-quarters of the way through the college football regular season. All I can say is, I have a million reasons to continue watching.