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LSU, TCU and Stanford were the big winners from Saturday's action.
Athlon sums up a full slate of college football with the five most important things to take away from this weekend.
1. No national title repeat for Alabama – Repeating as national champions is proving to be awfully difficult. Despite losing to South Carolina earlier this year, Alabama retained hopes of returning to the title game, but Saturday’s loss to LSU closed the book on that possibility. The Tigers surprisingly outgained Alabama 433 to 325 and took advantage of two Crimson Tide turnovers. LSU also converted two fourth-down attempts, including a 23-yard rush by tight end DeAngelo Peterson to lead the Tigers to the game-winning touchdown. After giving up 440 rushing yards to Auburn, LSU put the clamps on Alabama’s rushing attack, holding Mark Ingram to 97 yards and a score. The defending Heisman Trophy winner has surprisingly been held under 100 yards in each of the last five games. Although the LSU defense turned in a solid effort, the offense deserves a lot of credit for Saturday’s win. The passing game has been a question mark all year, but showed signs of life with Jordan Jefferson completing 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown.
With the national title out of the question and the SEC West looking like Auburn’s to lose, the Crimson Tide have the opportunity to play spoiler in the final weeks of the season. However, if Alabama knocks off Auburn in the Iron Bowl, it’s unlikely a SEC team will play for the national championship. Although winning 10 games and going to a New Year’s Day bowl isn't terrible, Alabama has to be disappointed with 2010, but expect Nick Saban to have this team back into the national championship picture next year.
2. TCU destroys Utah – Going into Saturday’s game, TCU-Utah was hyped as a matchup with BCS bowl, national championship and Mountain West title implications. By halftime, it was a one-sided affair, with TCU making one of the biggest statements of the college football season. The Horned Frogs destroyed Utah 47-7 to move to 10-0 and into position for a possible berth in the national championship game. Quarterback Andy Dalton was nearly flawless, completing 21 of 26 passes for 355 yards and three scores. The TCU defense didn’t allow Utah to score until the fourth quarter and held Jordan Wynn to 148 passing yards. The seven points scored by Utah was its lowest since getting shutout by UNLV in 2007. The Horned Frogs need a loss by Auburn or Oregon to get to the national championship, but barring an upset in its final two games, is at least in position to return for a BCS bowl.
3. Clarity in the Big 12? – After 10 weeks of action, the Big 12 South standings might be the most surprising. Not many (is it possible none?) preseason picks expected to see Texas sitting in the cellar of the South at 4-5 or Oklahoma State atop the division at 8-1. With Oklahoma State’s 55-28 win over Baylor, the Cowboys now hold the edge in the race to win the South title. The Cowboys still have to play at Texas and host Oklahoma, but winning both games is very possible. Although the Bears were handled by Oklahoma State, they remain a player in this division with games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Texas A&M’s win over Oklahoma likely assures the Aggies of a bowl game and certainly cools the seat of head coach Mike Sherman. Similar to Alabama, Oklahoma had slim hopes of making a run at the national title, but those are over after Saturday's loss in College Station.
While things are unsettled in the South, the North is beginning to take shape. Iowa State nearly pulled out another shocker over Nebraska, but the Cyclones’ gutsy call to go for two in overtime was intercepted. With the win over Iowa State, Nebraska is in great shape to play for the Big 12 title. The Cornhuskers have home games remaining against Kansas and Colorado, along with a road date against Texas A&M. Nebraska would have to lose two games out of those three for Missouri to play for the Big 12 title, and with games against Kansas and Colorado remaining, the Cornhuskers should feel pretty safe about a return trip to the Big 12 title game.
4. Wild weekend in the ACC – Is it really any surprise the division champions for the ACC will likely be decided in the last weekend of regular season action? This conference has been one of the most difficult to figure out from week-to-week over the last couple of seasons and after the last two weeks of action, nothing would be a surprise. After NC State’s 14-13 loss over Clemson, Florida State was in prime position to take control of the ACC Atlantic. However, the Seminoles couldn’t hold off North Carolina and now find themselves back in a three-way tie with NC State and Maryland for the top spot. However, don’t count out Clemson from the Atlantic race. The Tigers need some help, but have wins over Maryland and NC State and get a shot against Florida State this Saturday. Needless to say, the Atlantic title is far from over.
While there is chaos and a cloudy picture in the Atlantic, the Coastal division is Virginia Tech’s to lose. Thanks to a 28-21 win over Georgia Tech, the Hokies hold a two-game lead over Miami and North Carolina and need two wins in their final three games to return to the ACC Championship. Frank Beamer’s club won’t have an easy task over the next three weeks, hosting Virginia and going on the road to face North Carolina and Miami. Although the Hokies have a tough road, it would be a major surprise if they don’t win the Coastal.
5. Stanford knocks off Arizona – Just like TCU-Utah, a marquee matchup proved to be a dud. Stanford-Arizona was expected to be a big game for positioning in the Pac-10, but the Cardinal jumped out to a 21-3 lead by halftime and never looked back. Quarterback Andrew Luck turned in another solid performance, completing 23 of 32 passes for 293 yards and two scores. There’s no Toby Gerhart in the backfield, but the rushing attack is performing well behind Stepfan Taylor and the offensive line did not allow a sack to one of the Pac-10’s top defensive lines. Stanford’s win over Arizona solidified its place as one of the top one-loss teams in the nation and in contention for a spot in a BCS bowl. The Cardinal suffered their only defeat to No. 1 Oregon and the remaining schedule is favorable – at Arizona State, at California and Oregon State. If Stanford finishes the year 11-1, it should be a strong candidate for an at-large selection into the BCS.
Other thoughts from Week 10
Louisville's Charlie Strong has to be in the coach of the year discussion. Without quarterback Adam Froman and running back Bilal Powell, Louisville somehow pulled out a 28-20 win at Syracuse to move to 5-4 and one win away from bowl eligibility. The Cardinals host South Florida this Saturday, which could be their best remaining opportunity to get bowl eligible.
Week 10 was a good one for offenses. Navy scored 76 points in its victory over East Carolina, while Nevada, Boise State and Oklahoma State posted the three highest total yardage outputs for 2010. Nevada collected 844 yards, Boise State 737 and Oklahoma State 725.
Last week was a positive one for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. Not only did the Wolverines get bowl eligible with a 67-65 triple-overtime win over Illinois, but escaped anymore sanctions from the NCAA in regards to promoting an atmosphere of compliance. How crazy was the scoring from Saturday’s win over Illinois? When these two teams played last year in late February on the hardwood, Michigan lost to Illinois 51-44.
With an improved defense and one of the nation’s top offenses, I thought Hawaii had a chance to hang around in Saturday’s game against Boise State. However, behind 507 passing yards from quarterback Kellen Moore, the Broncos thoroughly dominated the Warriors. The Broncos need a lot of help to pass TCU in the BCS standings, but have good opportunities to state their case with upcoming games against Fresno State and Nevada.
New Mexico upset Wyoming 34-31 to earn its first victory of 2010, but this should do nothing to help Mike Locksley’s job status. The Lobos will likely finish with one win this year, which would give the program back-to-back seasons of a single victory.
With New Mexico earning its first victory of 2010, Akron is the only team without a win. The Zips nearly knocked off Ball State, but fell short in double overtime. The best chance for Akron to get a win is the season finale against Buffalo.
Although Oregon State still has a chance to go to a bowl game, a 4-4 record through 10 weeks is a disappointment. The Beavers had challenging non-conference games against Boise State and TCU, but have narrow losses to Washington and UCLA. Mike Riley’s team was expected to contend for a finish in the top half of the Pac-10, but with USC, Stanford and Oregon remaining on the schedule, it may be difficult for the Beavers to finish any better than 6-6.
Texas is in serious danger of missing a bowl game for the first time since 1997. The Longhorns are 4-5 with games remaining against Oklahoma State, FAU and Texas A&M. Although the Longhorns should beat FAU, there’s no guarantee they can win either of their remaining conference games. The offense was a disaster against Kansas State, with Garrett Gilbert throwing five interceptions and once again, the rushing attack was non-existent. The Wildcats only completed two passes for nine yards, but gashed the Texas defense for 261 rushing yards. This will certainly be an interesting offseason in Austin and one that could see some coaching changes on both sides of the ball.
How much longer will Dan Hawkins hold the title of head coach at Colorado? The Buffaloes completely collapsed against Kansas on Saturday, allowing the Jayhawks to rally from a 45-17 deficit to win 52-45. Hawkins may survive until the end of the year, but if there was any doubt a change was coming, Saturday’s performance answered that question.
Ohio’s hopes of winning the MAC East are in the balance with an injury to quarterback Boo Jackson. The senior quarterback was injured in an off campus fight and his status for next week’s showdown against Temple is in doubt.
Looking ahead to Week 11
A small sample of what’s ahead
Pittsburgh vs. Connecticut (Thursday)
Panthers can increase commanding lead in the Big East with a win against the Huskies in Storrs.
Boise State vs. Idaho (Friday)
Friday night game is another national showcase for Broncos.
Clemson vs. Florida State
ACC Atlantic is still up for grabs – the winner would certainly help their cause to win the division title.
South Florida vs. Louisville
With a win against South Florida, the Cardinals will be bowl eligible.
Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina
Can the Tar Heels pull off another upset?
Cincinnati vs. West Virginia
Both teams will be desperate for a win to erase disappointing season so far.
South Carolina vs. Florida
Everything is on the line for the SEC East title – can South Carolina finally break through?
Miami, Fla. vs. Georgia Tech
With Jacory Harris and Joshua Nesbitt out, it’s up to the backup quarterbacks – Stephen Morris and Tevin Washington.
Penn State vs. Ohio State
Buckeyes still in the mix for Big Ten title, but every game is a must-win situation.
Georgia vs. Auburn
With a win over the Bulldogs, Auburn will clinch a spot in the SEC Championship.
Oklahoma State vs. Texas
After horrendous effort against Kansas State, will Texas put a dent in Cowboys’ chances to win Big 12 South?
Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma
Sooners aren’t out of Big 12 South race, but this is a must-win game.
Mississippi State vs. Alabama
With SEC West title hopes fading for Alabama, can Mississippi State sneak into Tuscaloosa and pull off the upset?
Texas A&M vs. Baylor
The loser of this game will see its hopes of winning the Big 12 South slip away.
Oregon vs. California
With Brock Mansion making his second start at quarterback, it's hard to see Golden Bears giving Oregon much of a battle.
Utah vs. Notre Dame
The Irish need two wins to get bowl eligible – do they have enough to upset the Utes?
USC vs. Arizona
Wildcats looking for back-to-back wins over USC for the first time since 1999 and 2000.
Nevada vs. Fresno State
Entertaining offensive affair on tap with both teams averaging over 30 points a game.
Taking a look at some of the key players suffering injuries this weekend.
Alabama RB Trent Richardson (foot) – probable for Week 11
Arkansas CB Ramon Broadway (leg) – status uncertain for Week 11
California WR Keenan Allen (knee) – questionable for Week 11
Georgia Tech QB Joshua Nesbitt (broken arm) – out for remainder of regular season
LSU CB Morris Claiborne (concussion) – status uncertain for Week 11
LSU S Brandon Taylor (leg) – status uncertain for Week 11
Michigan QB Denard Robinson (concussion) – questionable for Week 11
Michigan State WR Mark Dell (ankle) – probable for Week 12
North Carolina RB Johnny White (broken clavicle) – out remainder of season
Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli (concussion) – probable for Week 12
Oregon QB Nate Costa (knee) – status uncertain for Week 11
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) – probable for Week 11
South Carolina CB CC Whitlock (concussion) – questionable for Week 11
Tennessee TE Luke Stocker (concussion) – questionable for Week 11
Texas CB Chykie Brown (broken arm) – out remainder of season
USC RB Marc Tyler (sprained ankle) – questionable for Week 11
Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy (concussion) – questionable for Week 11
Wake Forest RB Josh Harris (concussion) – questionable for Week 11
Wisconsin RB John Clay (knee) – probable for Week 11