The top four remain intact as the conference races draw to a close. Here are five takeaways from the weekend in college football.
The top four teams remained intact this week with Alabama, Oregon, and Mississippi State easily taking care of business. Florida State, on the other hand, emerged victorious, but, as usual, found themselves on the ropes late in the game.
The Seminoles won on a field goal with three seconds left in the game minutes after the Boston College kicker missed the potential game winner, thus narrowly defeating inferior competition.
After the game, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said, “We finish every game. Everybody else in the country hasn’t finished at least one game.” This is both factually inaccurate (Marshall is also undefeated) and misses the point of the criticism that he was responding to. Great teams don’t get knocked around every week, especially when playing in an anemic league. Playing down to mediocre competition poorly prepares a team for a playoff run.
The SEC West race is down to Alabama and Mississippi State after Ole Miss no-showed against Arkansas this weekend. Mississippi State must best Ole Miss and pray for a repeat of last year’s miracle upset, dubbed the Prayer at Jordan-Hare to win the West. Unfortunately for MSU, this year’s Iron Bowl will be played in Tuscaloosa.
Mizzou beat Tennessee in Knoxville, keeping its hope of an SEC East title alive. A win against Arkansas will seal the deal. Arkansas’s rushing attack derailed LSU and Ole Miss in the last two weeks. However, Mizzou’s defense stops the run better than them both.
Arizona, Arizona State, and UCLA are in a three-way tie in the Pac-12 South with UCLA owning the tiebreaker over both Grand Canyon State schools. Should UCLA prevail over Stanford (6-5) the day after Thanksgiving, it will represent the South in the title game. If UCLA loses, the winner of the Arizona/Arizona State game will.
Oregon leads the Pac-12 North by a mile and will represent the division in the title game, even if t finds a way to lose to a very bad Oregon State team.
Baylor and TCU sit atop the Big 12 and as no conference championship game takes place; the regular season decides the conference’s champion. The Big 12 currently appears as the playoff system’s biggest challenge. Baylor beat TCU on the field, but falls behind TCU in the committee’s poll due to the strength of its resume. Because the Big 12 is a round robin conference (every team plays each other), by season’s end, if neither team loses, Baylor should be the conference’s highest ranked team and the conference champion.
Rushing Record Shattered Again
LaDainian Tomlinson held the FBS single-game rushing record for 15 years before Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon topped it last week. Gordon owned the record for only seven days as Oklahoma freshman RB Samaje Perine shattered the record, recording 427 yards against Kansas.
Special shoutout to the Oklahoma offensive line for opening up holes wider than the Red River.
Follow Daniel J. Freeman on Twitter @djfree