Please, BCS, give us the dream finale
>Before the second quarter of Oregon's 59-14 thrashing of Tennessee could even end, Twitter was abuzz with reports that Ducks fans were already chanting "We want Bama!" inside Autzen Stadium. By the fourth quarter, those chants must have been deafening as news of Alabama's shootout with Texas A&M seeped into Eugene.
If the football gods are on our side, we'll finally get our Alabama-Oregon national championship. And if Saturday is any indicator, it could be quite the send-off for the BCS in Pasadena, Calif.
Last year, this seemed like the ultimate national championship matchup of speed and strength versus speed and finesse. A hit-you-in-the-mouth SEC defense versus that exhausting, fast-paced Oregon offense. But thanks to an untimely Ducks upset and a scrappy Notre Dame team, we were stuck with Alabama trouncing the Irish in the BCS title game.
Once again, it's early in the year and Alabama-Oregon is staring us right in the face. It's almost taunting us because we know how good it would be, yet we know how quickly it could disappear. We've been down this road too many times, but just think of the possibilities.
We could actually see points galore, as both of these offenses can move. Combined, Alabama and Oregon scored 108 points and registered 1,255 yards of offense Saturday. Granted, the defenses they faced weren't great, but we saw that when these two teams are on point, they can score at will.
Both have legitimate Heisman Trophy-contending quarterbacks. Alabama's AJ McCarron erased his poor start to the year by throwing for 334 yards and four touchdowns in Alabama's 49-42 win over the Aggies, while Oregon's Marcus Mariota threw for a career-high 456 yards with five total touchdowns against the Vols.
You want running games? Well, these teams have those, too, as Alabama rushed for 234 yards on Saturday behind the ever-churning legs of T.J. Yeldon and Oregon's rushing game has totaled 500, 350 and 216 yards, respectively, in its first three games this season.
What might make this potential matchup even more intriguing are the questions surrounding Alabama's defense. It's clear this unit needs some work after Johnny Manziel & Co. accumulated 628 yards offense in College Station, the most ever given up by an Alabama defense. Manziel totaled 562 yards of offense (the second-most in SEC history) and five passing touchdowns against a Tide defense that made Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas look inept two weeks ago.
For people looking for someone to finally top the Tide, maybe Mariota and his high-flying Ducks are the answer. They'll spread the Tide out. And while Mariota isn't as slippery as Manziel, he's excellent at making plays with his feet.
There's no doubt that with a coaching duo of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, along with some veteran leadership, this Alabama defense will improve, but you have to think Oregon would have a chance.
We can watch and wait to see if Oregon gets that chance. Win out, and we get our dream matchup.
Alabama-Ohio State would make for great drama when you think about the Saban-Urban Meyer storyline, and even the thought of a rematch between Alabama and A&M sounds appetizing, but Saturday put college football in the right direction toward everything we'd want in a BCS finale: Alabama and Oregon.
We can only hope that the football gods will be forgiving in the year that we lay the BCS to rest.
The Big Ten can't be the 'it' conference
CHICAGO -- A CBS camera followed Johnny Manziel's every move Saturday, tracking the Texas A&M quarterback from the magical to the mundane.
More than 750 media members converged on Kyle Field for a game that had been anticipated for months. This was another SEC Saturday, and no matter what happened in the Big Ten, the eyes of the nation would be on Alabama-A&M.
But the Big Ten had a chance to steal a glance, build some credibility and maybe change the narrative, not to mention a few minds. However, the league fell short in its one Saturday showcase of September.
Nothing to see here, folks. Same old story.
Michigan forgot to show up against an Akron team that had lost 27 consecutive road games. Nebraska decided to pack it in during the third quarter against UCLA. And Penn State's defense made a very good college quarterback (UCF's Blake Bortles) look like a Heisman Trophy candidate.
There was one Big Ten game that left everyone talking and tweeting well into Sunday morning, thanks to one of the more bizarre finishes you'll ever see. The clock ran out on Wisconsin after quarterback Joel Stave tried to center the ball deep in Arizona State territory. The officials, seemingly confused that Stave placed the ball on the ground rather than make an obvious kneeling motion, delayed in spotting the ball and time expired.
No one could believe it, even the victorious Sun Devils.
Wisconsin deserved a chance to win a big game on the road and salvage something for the Big Ten. Thanks to the inexcusable officiating blunder, the Badgers' 32-30 loss was a black mark on a mostly sour Saturday.
Make no mistake, Week 3 wasn't as bad as Week 2 of the 2012 season, when the Big Ten went 6-6, a virtual impossibility given the forgiving nature of nonconference schedules. After that sorry Saturday, league commissioner Jim Delany told the critics to swing away, acknowledging the Big Ten's status as a national pinata.
The Big Ten bashing will continue after this Saturday, although not as much as it did last season. But perhaps just as damaging, the league didn't give people a reason to pay attention. The Big Ten is still viewed as a has-been conference, not a right-now conference.
To read Adam Rittenberg's full story, Click here.
Pac-12 looks legit in the eyes of the nation
Oregon showed its legitimacy as a national title contender under new coach Mark Helfrich, and QB Marcus Mariota established his Heisman Trophy bona fides. That's at the top of the heap.
The Ducks also did enough to eclipse Stanford in the eyes of the Pac-12 blog as the conference's top national title contender. The Cardinal muddled around a bit against Army. While Oregon had preseason questions, it has answered them with a strong 3-0 start.
Meanwhile, in the Pac-12 South Division, both UCLA and Arizona State made statements, though the Bruins was a bit more impressive on the road. And the Trojans did enough against BC to create a lingering "maybe" over their previously flagging season.
The Bruins could push close to the nation's top 10 this week. They seem poised for a 5-0 start before playing at Stanford and Oregon on back-to-back weekends starting Oct. 19.
Arizona State will be in the Top 25 this week, and that will make the visit to Stanford on Saturday the first Pac-12 matchup this season between ranked teams. A big opportunity for the Sun Devils.
USC gets the Sun Devils in two weeks. If the Trojans beat a strong Utah State team on Saturday and then win at Arizona State, well, suddenly the "Fire Kiffin" talk might die down.
Washington gets a breather on Saturday with Idaho State. Then the Huskies play host to Arizona on Sept. 28 in a potentially big game for both squads. The Wildcats, who have been sitting out the relevancy games with a soft nonconference schedule, will have their own chance to have a "hello world" moment.
But the general meaning is this: In the preseason, the Pac-12 looked like a conference that could have national title contenders. Now there's no doubt Oregon and Stanford are in that mix.
To read Ted Miller's full story, Click here.
Isn't it defense that wins championships?
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- For a league that was supposed to be all about defense, these wild offensive shootouts are suddenly becoming the norm in the SEC.
Remember the good, old days -- just two short years ago -- when Alabama and LSU played an epic No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown, including an overtime period, without anybody scoring a touchdown?
That model seems to have gone the way of the rotary telephone.
As entertaining as Alabama's 49-42 win over Texas A&M was on Saturday at Kyle Field, it raises a question that will reverberate around the college football world.
Are either one of these teams good enough defensively to win a national championship?
Maybe that's not fair to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who might not actually be Superman, but all he was missing Saturday was a cape. He torched Alabama's defense for 562 yards of total offense, five touchdown passes and was mesmerizing with his uncanny ability to turn nothing into something.
As good as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was, his favorite receiver, Mike Evans, was just as good with seven catches for a school-record 279 yards.
So, just maybe, the Aggies are simply that dynamic offensively.
But you might want to rub your eyes before processing this next statistic: Alabama gave up 628 yards of total offense ... and still managed to win the game.
Raise your hand if you saw that coming.
To read Chris Low's full story, click here.
Texas can't let bad move to worse
Texas players say this team can still win the Big 12 championship, and from the looks of things this is not yet a dejected group. Mack Brown isn't questioning their effort or want-to, but something greater than execution is missing.
The seniors who lead this team were freshmen when Texas went 5-7. They haven't forgotten how much that depressing collapse of a season hurt. It's their job now to prevent that from happening all over again.
Look at the schedule. There aren't gimme wins anymore, no clear and easy path to six victories. A lot has to change for Texas in a short amount of time.
"We refuse to have another 5-7 season," senior defensive tackle Chris Whaley said. "That was one of the worst seasons Texas has ever had. We just refuse to have another season like that."
When viewed in a vacuum, Texas losing to Ole Miss made sense. The Longhorns were missing their quarterback and their most explosive weapon on offense. They were asking new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson to enact meaningful change in three practices.
But this is a season of no excuses. This is not what Brown has been rebuilding for and not what he expected.
Think about it: A lot needed to happen in the Longhorns' favor on Saturday night if they hoped to win. They needed a Case McCoy-led ball control offense, with more power rushing than they'd relied on all season, to do just enough. That worked fine in the first half, but three-and-outs doomed Texas in the third quarter.
They needed a defense that had serious problems with the zone read and tackling to suddenly fix those flaws in one week. The Rebels wisely exploited that Achilles' heel to the tune of 221 rushing yards from Bo Wallace and Jeff Scott.
Like BYU before them, they didn't have much need for a passing attack. They ran the same sweep play over and over because nobody could figure out how to stop it.
Texas needed good luck, turnovers, Ole Miss mistakes and all the kinds of things that programs with teams with less talent, coaching and confidence tend to hope for.
That's what it has come to for this Longhorns team, with its 19 returning starters, experience-loaded depth chart and ability to recruit anyone. They aren't playing like a team with more talent than their opponent.
To read Max Olson's full story, click here.
The best is still to come in the ACC
Georgia Tech-Miami is the game that will define the ACC's Coastal Division race this year.
Or maybe it's Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech, as history tends to repeat itself.
Then again, Pittsburgh found a pulse again in Saturday's 49-27 win over New Mexico, and North Carolina's season didn't end with the loss to South Carolina.
What we do know about the clustered Coastal Division after just three weeks: Georgia Tech's 38-14 win over Duke on Saturday afternoon provided the first hint of any semblance of order in the division, and Miami's upset of then-ranked No. 12 Florida last week was the most impressive win to date. A Jackets-Canes showdown in Charlotte is the popular pick right now, but none of these teams have played their best football yet.
To read Heather Dinich's full story, click here.
Three weekend observations
1. Time for a frame of reference. No. 1 Alabama allowed 630 yards of total offense in its first three games last season, and 628 yards to No. 6 Texas A&M on Saturday. But I don't think Crimson Tide fans should panic. There's only one team that has a Johnny Manziel or a Mike Evans, never mind both. As for the Aggies, they are allowing exactly 6 yards per rushing attempt -- not just Saturday but through three games. That is a bigger problem, and will take longer to fix than anything that plagues Alabama.
2. Alabama and No. 16 UCLA (against No. 23 Nebraska) came back from deficits of 14 and 18 points, respectively, on the road against ranked opponents to win games. Texas, playing at home, spotted No. 25 Ole Miss a 14-point lead and came back to take the lead. But the Longhorns, like the Huskers and the Aggies, have severe defensive issues. Changing defensive coordinators after two games, which Texas coach Mack Brown did last week, is a desperate measure. It's no surprise that his defense gained no traction.
3. If Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly hadn't discovered last week that the rivalry with Michigan is a main event, then he would have learned it Saturday. Both the Fighting Irish and the Wolverines came out flat the week after Michigan's 41-30 victory, but both eventually pulled out narrow victories against lesser opponents. That's not much of an excuse for Michigan's tightrope 28-24 victory over Akron, a team that has lost 24 straight games (and 34-of-35) to FBS teams dating to 2010. Michigan won, but this one still has Appalachian State written all over it.
Week 3 Impact Performances
GameDay crew final thoughts
Everybody's wondering where the defense is in the SEC after high-scoring games between Georgia and South Carolina and Alabama and Texas A&M. You can have good defense, but sometimes good and veteran quarterback play will trump that. That's what the SEC has with the ultimate winner in AJ McCarron, maybe the most dynamic player of this generation in Johnny Manziel, in addition to Aaron Murray, Connor Shaw and all kinds of other talent at that position. And that's why you're seeing higher-scoring games in the SEC.
I don't think the athletes on defense have changed. The expertise at quarterback is the biggest thing that's changed for me, and that's a big deal moving forward.
Helmet stickers go to ...
Another phenomenal Saturday for college football fans, with many teams overcoming adversity. You look at Michigan and what the Wolverines had to overcome to pull it out against Akron. Look at UCLA, playing at 9 p.m. PT, and though it took the Bruins a while to get started, they got the job done.
You have to talk about Alabama and its resilience in that game, to find a way to win after giving up so many yards to Johnny Manziel and so many big plays to Texas A&M. AJ McCarron directed his team and put more points on the board than Texas A&M. That was a big-time gut check on the road, but Alabama got the job done. That's what a defending champ does: find a way to get the job done. That's what Alabama did on Saturday.
Helmet stickers go to ...
Every week crazy things happen. Fordham beating Temple, Akron almost winning, that's what makes college football so exciting. You never know what's going to happen, and Saturday was a great example of it.
Helmet stickers go to ...
• QB AJ McCarron, Alabama
• QB Blake Bortles, UCF
FAN STICKER • Former Rutgers DT Eric LeGrand had his number retired by the Scarlet Knights on Saturday.
What we learned in Week 3
Click below to see what our bloggers learned in each conference after the third weekend.
Syracuse has found its quarterback in Terrel Hunt, Karlos Williams was a surprise for Florida State ... on offense and Wake Forest has to be wondering who it can beat after losses the Boston College and Louisiana-Monroe. ACC
Blake Bell replaced Trevor Knight in Oklahoma's starting lineup and delivered versus Tulsa. West Virginia's quarterback situation has stabilized, as well, with redshirt freshman Ford Childress under center. Big 12
After Week 2 a lot was said about Michigan giving Ohio State a run for its money as the Big Ten's best, but after the Wolverines nearly lost to Akron in Week 3, that theory was dispelled. Big Ten
The Pac-12 and Big Ten played four times this weekend, and the Pac-12 won three of those matchups. UCLA was clearly at the top of the bunch with its beatdown of Nebraska. Pac-12
While eyes have rightly been on Alabama and Texas A&M this season, Arkansas' running game has been quietly racking up yards by the hundreds. SEC
Helmet stickers for Week 3
Every week our bloggers will hand out helmet stickers to the week's top players, coaches, teams or anything else worth this honor.
The Future of Mack
Can one-loss SEC teams rebound?
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Texas A&M Aggies lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, and yet the Aggies exited the day desiring to emulate the Tide's blueprint the past two seasons: lose one game, win the national championship.
"You've got no greater example of how to handle one [loss] than the team in the other locker room," Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said after the 49-42 loss. "Our goals are still out in front of us."
But is that something reasonable for a team that gave up 568 total yards and was nearly left for dead, trailing the defending national champs 35-14 in the second half?
The top of the league's East Division is likely saying the same thing; Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are wondering if they can rally from early-season losses to again become players for the conference and national titles.
A look at the SEC's one-loss contenders leads off the Week 3 takeaways. Also included: heat checks on Lane Kiffin and Mack Brown's seats; an extremely weird finish in the desert (likely after your bedtime); and a hot start to the year, collectively, for the Pac-12.
To read Travis Haney's full story, click here .