Do they really want Bama?
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- If the college football season ended today, it could be argued that No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State are the most deserving teams to play in the Jan. 6 VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl based on their overall bodies of work at this point in the season.
So we're going to leave out No. 1 Alabama, the two-time defending BCS national champion?
If college football ever needed a four-team playoff to determine its national champion, it's this season, a year before the new format actually goes into effect.
Last week, I watched the Ducks score 28 consecutive points in the second half of a 42-14 win over then-No. 12 UCLA, and I left Autzen Stadium convinced they were better than Florida State.
On Saturday night, I watched Florida State throttle a top-10 team for the second time this season, handing No. 7 Miami its first loss of the season with a 41-14 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium. On Oct. 19, the Seminoles blasted then-No. 3 Clemson 51-14 at Death Valley, which was perhaps the most impressive performance by any team this season.
Alabama was the country's most dominant team in each of the previous two seasons, but the past two seasons aren't supposed to matter this year. And at this point, it's hard to say that Alabama is clearly the best team in 2013. Alabama has been tested only once, beating then-No. 6 Texas A&M 49-42 on the road on Sept. 14. The Crimson Tide were shredded for a school-record 628 yards in that game and have played only one ranked opponent (No. 21 Ole Miss) since.
Of course, Alabama has been crushing its opponents, allowing only 26 points in its six games since playing the Aggies. The Tide still seem to be the standard for everyone else, including the Seminoles, at least until someone beats them.
As FSU put the finishing touches on its convincing victory over the Hurricanes, its fans chanted, "We want Bama! We want Bama!" Even FSU coach Jimbo Fisher suggested he voted Alabama No. 1 on his ballot in the coaches' poll last week. But his Seminoles aren't far behind.
"Is that what they were chanting?" Fisher said. "Let's take care of Wake Forest next week. If the time comes, it will come."
The Seminoles will be heavy favorites in their final four regular-season games: Wake Forest (road), Syracuse (home), Idaho (home) and Florida (road). They might meet Miami again in the ACC championship game on Dec. 7.
But unless Alabama or Oregon loses between now and then, FSU isn't guaranteed a spot in the title game, even if it finishes undefeated.
While the Seminoles won't face another ranked opponent in the regular season (each of their four remaining foes doesn't even have a winning record), Alabama is expected to face at least two more ranked opponents, including next week's home game against No. 13 LSU and the Nov. 30 Iron Bowl at No. 11 Auburn. The Tide might also face No. 9 Missouri in the SEC championship game on Dec. 7 if they make it through the final push unscathed.
Oregon has already defeated two ranked teams (then-No. 16 Washington and UCLA) and plays at No. 5 Stanford on Thursday night.
"I don't worry about it right now," Fisher said. "I'm just going to keep playing ball and take care of business."
But Florida State nose tackle Timmy Jernigan said the Seminoles want nothing more than a chance to play Alabama.
"We do," Jernigan said, when asked about the FSU fans' chant. "I feel like we can play with anybody in the country. We're just trying to get to Pasadena by any means necessary. We just want to get out there. Whoever is out there with us is who we'll play."
FSU cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said it's too early to start thinking about the Tide.
"I think it's cute," Joyner said of the FSU fans' chant. "At the end of the day, the crowd isn't playing Alabama. We have to continue to do what we're doing to be blessed with a chance to play that powerhouse."
Michigan State would be worthy test for OSU
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The debate about Ohio State hasn't been where the Buckeyes will spend their postseason, but when.
For months, Ohio State has been pegged for Pasadena, Calif. Its dominant performances in recent weeks, combined with what seems to be a weak league, only validate the belief. The only drama is whether Urban Meyer's crew will be there Jan. 1 for the 100th Rose Bowl Game or Jan. 6 for a game with greater significance, the BCS national championship.
The Buckeyes' path to Pasadena, with Wisconsin in the rear-view mirror, has seemed as wide and unobstructed as a tarmac in the dead of night. A Big Ten title was a formality.
But there is something standing in Ohio State's way. A big, green wall -- a green monster, if you will.
Michigan State is on a collision course with Ohio State and likely will face the Buckeyes on Dec. 7 at the Big Ten championship game. And as Michigan found out Saturday afternoon, colliding with the Spartans and their defense isn't pretty.
Ohio State might be the Big Ten's best team, but the league's best unit belongs to Michigan State, which smashed Michigan 29-6 at Spartan Stadium.
"That's a complete game for us," MSU senior linebacker Max Bullough said.
"A dominant day by our defense," coach Mark Dantonio added.
Complete is holding Michigan to the lowest net rushing total (minus-48) in team history. Dominant is holding Michigan to its lowest points total in the series since a 34-0 shutout in 1967. Complete is recording seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception. Dominant is allowing 2.8 yards per play, 12 first downs and 168 total yards.
Michigan came into the game averaging 6.4 yards per play, 19.8 first downs and 446.4 yards, not to mention 42.4 points.
"You never think you're going to be that good," coordinator Pat Narduzzi said.
Michigan talked during the week about being bullied in its last trip here, when Michigan State racked up six personal fouls in a 28-14 victory. The Spartans were much more composed Saturday, committing only one personal foul, on special teams in the closing seconds.
But they pushed around Michigan all afternoon.
To read Adam Rittenberg's full story, click here.
Miami could see Florida State again this season
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Miami tried to keep up with Florida State, tried to make it a game, to show maybe it wasn't such a big underdog after all.
The plan worked for a half. But the Hurricanes are simply not where Florida State is right now. They do not have the talent, nor do they have the depth, nor do they have the wherewithal to play a near-perfect game. That much was made clear in the aftermath of a 41-14 defeat Saturday night. As many suspected would be the case, this was a top-10 matchup in name only.
And yet, the Hurricanes could very well be the class of their division at the end of the season. Such is the state of the ACC today. Florida State is poised to decisively win the Atlantic Division. The team that lost to the Seminoles by 27 points? That very team could end up in a rematch with Florida State in the ACC title game next month.
Nobody on the Miami side was much in the mood for silver linings or happy thoughts after the game, though. Especially after running back Duke Johnson was carted off the field and in a cast after the game with an ankle injury, his season most likely over.
Seeing Johnson with his right leg bandaged up just made the game result even worse to stomach. As hard as the double-whammy loss is to take, Miami has to find a way to make this game just a blip in order to stay relevant in the ACC race.
"We've just gotta move forward," Miami coach Al Golden said. "We're building. I've been saying it for a long time now. We made too many mistakes in this game. You can't make these kinds of mistakes in a game like this. I just tell them that the biggest thing is that they trust right now, that they trust the coaches and they trust their training, they trust their techniques. This environment was probably new to them, given the position that we're in, and they just need to trust. We had too many little mistakes in the game."
To read Andrea Adelson's full story, click here.
Slow week still has entertainment value
On Thursday morning, the best thing Week 10 had going for it was that it was right before Week 11. It was seven more days of watching the water boil till we could get to the Oregon-Stanford showdown -- the game we've been speculating about and talking about and writing about and blogging about and message-board-flaming about for the past nine months.
Week 10 was supposed to be filler material; B-roll compilation highlights; a stop-gap to sate us before the game we all want to see. But as it turned out, Week 10 was pretty darn entertaining. For what little buck there was, there was decent amount of bang.
Nothing was particularly earth-shattering or landscape-altering. But there was just enough entertainment value and drama to remind us why we tune in to every Pac-12 game. Not just the ones with ranked teams.
Taylor Kelly was nothing short of brilliant with his seven-touchdown performance in Arizona State's victory Thursday at Washington State. It wouldn't be a Halloween game without something scary happening. And the scary happening in Pullman was that the Sun Devils scored 55 points and Marion Grice didn't have a single touchdown.
USC took its Corvallis curse and shoved it right down Oregon State's front seven as Silas Redd and Buck Allen combined for 273 rushing yards. The Trojans are now 3-1 since the coaching change.
California gave Arizona a scare and was an onside kick away from making things really interesting. But Ka'Deem Carey did what Ka'Deem Carey does best and rushed for his 11th straight 100-yard game -- tops in the FBS.
And UCLA got back to form against a Colorado team that came to play. The drama in Pasadena, Calif., wasn't breathtaking, but Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau looked extremely poised, and there was a sense that, even down 18 points in the fourth quarter, the Buffs believed they could win. And yes, even in defeat, it's nice to see a little swagger out of the Buffs.
To read Kevin Gemmell's full story, click here.
New backfield brings Oklahoma State back to life
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Back in July, Oklahoma State was the preseason pick to win the Big 12.
Saturday night, the Cowboys finally showed why.
And why they might be contenders after all.
Behind its new-look backfield, Oklahoma State unleashed the most impressive performance yet in the Big 12 season, overpowering Texas Tech 52-34 before a record Jones AT&T Stadium crowd.
"We've got a chance," answered Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, when asked if this team could win the Big 12. "We're not good enough to look past the next game. But we're improving."
Roughly a month ago, the Pokes hardly looked the part of contender in a 30-21 loss as a 19-point favorite at West Virginia. Nor did the Cowboys look it in sluggish home victories over Kansas State and TCU.
This, however, is a different team.
To read Jake Trotter's full story, click here.
Week 10 Takeaways
I had one coach tell me last week that Florida State would play for a national title. I had another tell me Oregon would. Florida State made yet another statement Saturday that it belongs on the same tier as Alabama and Oregon, who were both off this weekend. The Seminoles were supposed to win a rivalry game against an undefeated top-10 conference opponent by three-plus touchdowns. And they did.
Yes, we could be heading toward chaos in this final year of the BCS. But more often, things have worked themselves out and the odds still say one of the Big Three will lose. So, which one will it be?
Assessing the remaining roads for the Tide, Ducks and Seminoles leads my Week 10 Takeaways. Also included: Can Michigan State play with Ohio State? Have we forgotten about Oklahoma State? Who is the most unsung skill player in the country?
1. Ranking schedules for BCS title contenders
Here are the remaining schedules for the top three teams. And remember that the more difficult the schedule, the more it actually favors that team in the formula. If it wins, that is.
Oregon: at Stanford (Thursday), Utah, at Arizona, Oregon State, Pac-12 title game (potentially Arizona State)
FSU: at Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, at Florida, ACC title game (Miami)
Alabama: LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn, SEC title game (Missouri)
To read Travis Haney's full story, click here .
Three weekend observations
1. Northwestern beat Minnesota in 2000 with a Hail Mary, and the law of averages caught up to the Wildcats on Saturday at Nebraska. The Huskers' stunning 27-24 victory on a 49-yard tip-drill special keeps Nebraska in control of its destiny in the Big Ten Legends Division, and first-place Michigan State must play in Lincoln on Nov. 16. But the precarious nature of the victory over a reeling Northwestern team probably did little to shore up support for beleaguered coach Bo Pelini. In this case, a W may not always be a W.
2. On the other hand, Pelini may be the latest iteration of Mack Brown. A month ago, conventional wisdom had the Texas coach out the door. But Brown's decision to give the defense to Greg Robinson has produced good results. The Longhorns upset archrival Oklahoma and are 5-0 in the Big 12 after a 35-13 rout of Kansas on Saturday. If the Huskers win at Michigan and come home to beat Michigan State, all may be forgiven yet for Pelini.
3. It's only the first weekend in November, and the Pac-12 already has seven bowl-eligible teams for its seven slots. With Washington at 5-3 and Utah at 4-4, someone on the West Coast is going to be unhappy. The problem for the Pac-12 is there is less support for bowl games in its footprint than there is in Texas and the South. That's why the SEC has 10 slots and the ACC nine. Those bowls are started because officials think fans will support them.
Week 10 Impact Performances
GameDay crew final thoughts
To me, the most significant thing following Saturday's action is that Ohio State now has one legitimate hurdle on its way to another perfect season: Michigan State. If Michigan State makes it to the Big Ten championship game and the Buckeyes make it, as expected, the Spartans have a chance to beat Ohio State simply because their defense is so good that they can keep the game close enough to be able to make a play at the end.
Now their offense isn't good enough to beat Ohio State and it won't be good enough by December, but their defense can be so overwhelming that they can keep any game against anyone in the country within reach. So for the people who are saying Ohio State hasn't beaten anybody, if it beats Michigan State, it definitely will have beaten somebody by the end of the season.
I was really, really disappointed with the behavior of the players in the Georgia-Florida game, and it's become something that has ramped up in that rivalry over the years. I like a little intensity and chippiness in a rivalry game as much as anyone -- I want to see the players care. But there has to be a line that you can't cross if you want to maintain some level of decorum and sportsmanship. I don't mind a little jawing and yapping -- that's fine -- but if you get to the point where benches are nearly emptying and you can't separate people without them swinging at each other, it's too much.
These two programs have won too much, and they have too much class to behave in that manner, and I hope both coaching staffs do something to fix this.
And finally, you want to talk about a guy maybe saving his job, or at least taking some heat off himself, on one play? Bo Pelini needed a Hail Mary to beat Northwestern at home. Who would have thought it would take something like that to make Nebraska fans happy enough to not be clamoring for a coaching change? That's sort of the culture in which we live. And it was a heartbreaking loss for Northwestern to drop five in a row.
Helmet stickers go to ...
Valiant effort by Navy. It gave its heart and soul in the game Saturday. It had a chance to win that game against Notre Dame on the road, but the Irish managed to pull through. You've got to tip your cap to Ken Niumatalolo and his crew because they really fought hard out there.
Michigan State's defense is nasty good. In its game against Michigan, it just dominated every aspect and owned the Wolverines. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio owns Michigan, beating it in five of their last six meetings.
Looking at the other games, there wasn't a lot of excitement, but Florida State's Jameis Winston -- even though he didn't have his A-game with a couple of picks -- was still 21-for-29 for more than 300 yards and kept the offense going. And the way the defense just shut down Miami in the second half was incredibly impressive. Jeremy Pruitt did a terrific job with his halftime adjustments.
Helmet stickers go to ...
This was a dull week. I don't know why everyone seems to like to take a bye around this time, or if the conference schedules it that way, but there wasn't anything great happening.
Next week, we have three games that are exciting matchups, and conference championships will start to be decided. We'll be able to determine the contenders and the pretenders with both teams and players. I think the Heisman race is finally starting to take shape now, and the key will be exposure. Whoever has a big game on the big stage to showcase his talents is going to be the guy who ends up winning it.
Helmet stickers go to ...
What we learned in Week 10
Click below to see what our reporters learned in each conference after the 10th weekend.
Even though it lost, Miami still has a hold on the ACC Coastal Division, especially with Virginia Tech losing to Boston College on Saturday. In the Atlantic, Wake Forest's refreshing play may be on the way out now that Michael Campanaro is out with a broken collarbone. ACC
Since Oklahoma State has stabilized itself at quarterback and running back, the Cowboys have looked like the Big 12 contenders they were pegged as in preseason. On the other side, another preseason contender, TCU, isn't going to make it to the postseason after giving away a big lead at West Virginia. Big 12
For the fifth time in six years, Michigan State owns its state with a win over Michigan. The Wolverines still have a chance to spoil another rival's perfect season when they take on Ohio State, but that doesn't look likely at this point. Northwestern is also on the downslope and not playing with much confidence at all, dropping its fifth straight at Nebraska this weekend. Big Ten
A lot has already happened for USC this season, but since Ed Orgeron has taken over as interim coach, the Trojans are on a winning pace and don't appear to be done yet. Arizona State isn't done, either. The Wildcats completed an impressive win over Washington State on Thursday and are moving at a steady pace in the Pac-12 South. Pac-12
Florida and Georgia didn't look like the teams we are accustomed to seeing, with neither in the Top 25, but they still don't like each other, which made for a compelling, gritty game on Saturday. Missouri completed a surprisingly solid victory over Tennessee after its emotional loss versus South Carolina last week. SEC
Photos from Week 10
Helmet stickers for Week 10
Every week our reporters will hand out helmet stickers to the week's top players, coaches, teams or anything else worth this honor.