Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Musings: Auburn Tigers' Hail Mary Says It All

The final weekend of College Football was a good one. Whether is was conference championship games, rivalries, conference championships (minus a predetermined "championship game"), or bowl positioning being played out on the field, there was enough of everything to keep us talking for two weeks until the bowl games start.

1. That says it all. After South Carolina scored a TD to close the gap with Auburn to 21-14 with seconds to go before halftime (South Carolina would get the ball to start the second half), Cam Newton throws a 51-yard hail mary touchdown. That play sums up everything you need to know about Newton and Auburn for Heisman and national championship talk. Newton’s play has been magical, and Auburn has gotten all the breaks.

2. First time for everything. TCU is going to the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs replace Oregon in the Rose since the Ducks are going to the National Championship game. Florida International University is going bowling (Little Caesars). The Golden Panthers were co-Sun Belt Champions. After years of struggling while playing very, very hard non-conference schedules, it pays off as FIU won six games in conference.

3. Worst BCS team ever? Connecticut at 8-4 is not in the BCS top 25. To the best of my knowledge, that is unprecedented. Florida State is the only other four loss team to play in BCS games. The Seminoles did it twice. In 2002, Florida State had a 9-4 record going into Bowl season. However, three of those losses were to Notre Dame (10-3), Miami (12-1), and North Carolina State (11-3). None of those losses were blowouts. In 2005, Florida State had to beat 10-1 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game to get to the BCS. They also beat a 9-2 Miami team. I can’t build any case for UConn, except that they won the Big East three-team tie breaker. Their best win out of conference is 2-10 Vanderbilt. Beating West Virginia (9-3) 16-13 in overtime is the Huskies’ best win. None of the teams that Connecticut lost to won more than 8 games—and that was Temple from the MAC.

4. More Ammo for Rich Rod Supporters. This is a discussion that will rage on all the way through January 1 when Michigan plays Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Michigan beat Connecticut in the season opener. That would be BCS Fiesta Bowl bound Connecticut. Can’t say that Michigan didn’t beat anybody this year. Of course, all this really means is that if Rich Rodriguez was still coaching in the Big East, his team would probably be Big East Champ.

5. MAC Attack. Northern Illinois was a juggernaut the last few weeks. The Huskies had scored 71, 59, and 65 points their last three games. That didn’t intimidate the Miami (OH) Redhawks. Miami came out the 26-21 winner for the MAC championship.

6. Overcome with nerves. Knowing that a national championship game appearance was at stake, Oregon played nervous. They turned over the ball twice in the first five minutes of the game. UConn was up by 10 points with 13 minutes to play. The Huskies blew the lead and needed a 52 yard field goal with 17 seconds to play to secure its first BCS berth.

7. Total Dominance. USC has had, by all accounts, a down year. The Trojans haven’t had a 5 loss season since 2001. UCLA couldn’t beat their cross-town rivals then, and they couldn’t do it now. The Trojans beat the Bruins 28-14 this year.

8. Block that Kick. The crowd loves to chant this phrase. The Arizona Sun Devils delivered. Twice. Correction, James Brooks delivered. The first block sent the game to overtime. Brooks' second blocked point-after-attempt gave the Sun Devils the win over rival Arizona.

9. Broncos Bounce Back. A week after seeing their hopes for a national championship and a BCS bowl shattered, Boise State rebounded with a 50-14 win over Utah State. Probably doesn’t do much to make them feel any better about the week before.

10. Dion does it, finally. To say this has been a disappointing year for Dion Lewis would be an understatement. He had 695 yards rushing on the season coming into the season finale against Cincinnati (he ran for 1,799 last year). He had only rushed for 100 yards in a game twice. He exploded for 261 yards and 4 TD on Saturday.

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