Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron celebrates after his team defeated the LSU Tigers during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Fifth Quarter: Alabama-LSU Rewind


Yes, this game was so big it gets its own Rewind.  Your regularly-scheduled “The Fifth Quarter: Week 10 Rewind” will appear, in its entirety, later on in the day Sunday.

Ben did a helluva job with the post-game recap of one of the more entertaining football games you’ll see at any level, a 21-17 win for the top-ranked team in the nation.  Below is a little bit of the minutia and talking points that may or may not litter sports radio shows and water cooler conversations throughout the weekend and into the start of a new work week.

The first five drives of the second half, LSU’s relentlessly stifling defense had held Alabama’s offense in check, limiting the No. 1 Tide to 49 yards of total offense.  In those five series, the No. 5 Tigers forced four three-and-outs and one fumble.

And then came the sixth drive.

After a missed 38-yard field goal attempt gave the Tide the ball at their own 28-yard line with 1:34 left in the game, LSU, which had been in full-blown attack mode on defense throughout, went into full-blown soft-zone mode.  It turned out to be the worst of several questionable decisions made by Les Miles and his coaching staff throughout the game.

In three plays after taking possession, and in less than 40 seconds, the Tide gained nearly as many yards (44) as they had in the entire second half previously, moving from their own 28 to the same yard line on LSU’s side of the field.  Following an incompletion on the fourth play of what would prove to be the game-winning drive, LSU again donned their blitzing caps… and the Tide made the Tigers pay dearly, dialing up a perfectly-executed screen pass from AJ McCarron to T.J. Yeldon that saved both the game and the Tide’s title aspirations.

It’s hard to blame LSU for trying to prevent the one big play that would cost them the game.  It’s not hard to blame LSU, though, for a decision that allowed a trio of mini-big plays, ultimately leading to the big play.


Back-to-back still intact
Suffice to say, the biggest winner of the night was Alabama’s title hopes.  If last week was the Tide’s first real test of the 2012 season, tonight was their first real test of the year.  And, while they didn’t pass with the flying colors of a week ago, they passed.  At this stage of the season, that’s all that matters — for the most part.  While the Tide had walked, talked, smelled and played like an unstoppable force through eight games — so  much so, in fact, that the laughable notion of UA being able to beat an NFL team was actually taking hold — they were anything but that for a sizable chunk of the first 58 minutes.  As odd as it sounds, though, that might’ve been the second most important development of the night as it gives Nick Saban‘s coaching arsenal yet another pointed teaching tool to use on what is still, despite all of the wins and lofty rankings, a very young football team.  Complacency will likely be the Tide’s biggest enemy for the remainder of the regular season; the LSU game tape would serve as the ultimate trump card, as evidenced by Saban’s quotes following the game.

“Our players have to be aware that they can take this one way or the other,” the coach said of the hard-fought win. “This one is either going to affect them in a positive way or a negative way with what they do in the future. They can focus on the things they didn’t do and take the next challenge and continue to improve and be ready to play next week and prepare and practice next week or they can say, ‘We’re satisfied for ourselves with what we did.'”

AJ’s Heisman hopes
AJ McCarron, because of Alabama’s style of play, will simply not put up the type of numbers that other Heisman contenders do on a weekly basis, and that was never more evident than this latest Saturday night in Death Valley.  That final drive, however, was the stuff of which legends are made.  And the stuff that attracts the attention of Heisman voters regardless of the stat line for the first 58 minutes.  The raw, from-the-heart emotion McCarron displayed as the final seconds ticked off the clock and then boiled over as he met his parents beyond the end zone after the game were as epic, in a good way, as his engineering of the final drive.  I don’t know if the junior deserves to win the Heisman, but he certainly belongs in the discussion.

If you don’t think the SEC was privately and/or publicly rooting for an Alabama win, you might consider removing your head from the sand as it’s awfully hot and hard to breathe down there.  For the conference in general and the Tide specifically, the stakes couldn’t have been higher.  An Alabama loss would’ve left the SEC with no unbeaten teams.  When combined with three other highly-ranked teams still unbeaten — four if you want to consider Louisville as part of the mix — the SEC’s streak of six straight BcS titles would’ve been in serious jeopardy, with the conference in the uncharted territory of relying on outside help for a ticket to the title game.  Fortunately for the SEC, the Tide’s win left the conference with the inside track for one of the two spots in the BcS championship game.  Just as fortunate?  There were no controversial calls that favored Alabama and played a role in the outcome of the game…

Death Valley didn’t disappoint
Forget the fact that LSU lost just its second home game under the lights (Florida, 2009) under Les Miles.  The atmosphere at Tiger Stadium, even from my vantage point a little over 1,000 miles, is simply electric and by all accounts deafening, which makes the Tide’s triumph all the more impressive.  If you were to make a list of the greatest venues for any sport in the country, it wouldn’t take long to call roll before you got to Death Valley.  It’s a credit to the university, the football program and, most importantly, the fan base that such a spectacle exists.  Yes, the loss was certainly disappointing to those that live and die with the Bayou Bengals, but they can take heart in the knowledge that they are a big part of what makes the sport of college football so great.  And, yes, a trip to Death Valley is on my sports bucket list.  Gotta get there at some point for a night game…

Regardless of what the polls may or may not say, the Democratic Party has to be feeling pretty good heading into Tuesday based solely on the results of a football game.  Why?  According to research conducted by, the winner of the Alabama-LSU has accurately predicted the results of all seven presidential elections held since 1984.  In years that Alabama won, a Democrat won the election.  In years LSU won, a Republican was sent to the White House. So, with the Tide’s win, is it hello second term for the sitting president?  Your mileage may vary greatly as to whether an eighth-consecutive accurate prediction would be a positive or negative development.


The Mad Hatter
Take your pick on the daffiest of the daftness of the Mad Hatter in this game.  Was it the failed fake field goal that everybody — including the Tide’s defense and my grandmother, who’s been six feet under for two decades — saw coming?  The failed onside kick, which admittedly would’ve been idiot savant-level genius were it not for a quirky bounce that resulted in an illegal touching penalty on the kicker?  The failed 54-yard field goal attempt that gave the Tide prime field position with just over a minute left in the second quarter, and which the Tide turned into a touchdown and a 14-3 lead heading into the half?  A failed fourth-and-one from the Alabama 24, one in which LSU utilized its version of the gimmicky Wildcat offense after it had been very successful running the football with the standard power game?  Individually, these plays didn’t cost LSU the game.  Collectively, they were part of the subtle flow of the game that set the table for the game-winning drive.

Oh, Copeland…
Midway through the second quarter, a fumbled punt on the part of the Tide was recovered by the Tigers at UA’s 32-yard line.  On the ensuing play, a 19-yard run by Jeremy Hill moved the Tigers down to the 13-yard line… and a post-play personal foul on J.C. Copeland moved the ball back to the 28.  While it was still first and 10 following the penalty, all the momentum gained from the previous two plays was lost as the Tigers gained just one yard the next three, leading to the failed fake field goal.  The penalty almost certainly cost the Tigers at least a field goal, if not a touchdown.  In what was a four-point loss, and even as it occurred in the first half, Copeland’s momentary lapse of reason was a significant moment in the game.

Who are you and what’d you do with the Tide’s defense?
Through the first eight games of the season, Alabama led the country by stingily giving up just a little over 57 yards per game on the ground; LSU churned out 80 rushing yards… in the first quarter alone.  For the game, the Tigers rushed for 139 yards; previously, the most the Tide had given up in a single game this season was 80 to Ole Miss in Week 5.  Add that to some very suspect play in the passing game, and we’re guessing Nick Saban will spend an inordinate amount of time tightening things up on that side of the ball as the Tide preps for the high-octane Texas A&M Aggies’ trip to Tuscaloosa this Saturday.

McCarron’s Heisman hopes
As great as the final drive was, the first 58:26 was as choppy of a game McCarron has played in his one-plus seasons as the Tide’s starting quarterback.  On that final drive, McCarron was 4-5 for 72 yards and a touchdown; prior to that, he was 10-22 for 93 yards and one rushing touchdown.  On what will be his second-biggest stage before votes are cast — the SEC championship being the biggest, provided the Tide can navigate games against A&M and Auburn — the question will become what voters give the most weight to when it comes to McCarron’s stiff-armed candidacy: the first 58, or final two.


“I’ve never been prouder of a bunch of guys to overcome adversity. … It’s something I’ll never forget.” — Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

“It was a very hard game. We needed a hard game.” — Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

“You’ll remember this one forever.  It hurts worse than the [loss to Alabama] in the national championship game.” — LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan.


— From the UA Sports Information Department: AJ McCarron continues to build his school record of passes without an interception. McCarron ends the LSU game with an active streak of 289 passing attempts without an interception.

— Speaking of McCarron, the junior is one touchdown pass away from tying and two away from breaking Greg McElroy‘s single-season mark of 20 set in 2010.  He’s also 10 touchdown passes away from breaking John Parker Wilson‘s career mark of 47.

— Despite the loss, quarterback Zach Mettenberger came of age for the Tigers.  In unquestionably his finest performance in his first season as a starter, Mettenberger completed 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards, one touchdown and, most impressively considering the opposition’s defense, no interceptions.

— Until late in the third quarter, LSU had gone 169:38 without scoring a touchdown against Alabama, a span that stretched back to 8:13 left in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 6, 2010, win over the Tide and which covered two-plus games.  Then, in a span of 5:37, the Tigers exploded for a pair of touchdowns.

— The 435 yards of total offense by the Tigers was the most surrendered by a Tide defense since a loss to the same team in November of 2007, Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa.

— The attendance of 93,374 is a new Tiger Stadium record.

— Alabama leads the all-time series with LSU, 47-25-5.

Georgia fires Mark Richt

Mark Richt

Weeks of speculation reportedly came to an end Sunday morning as’s Mark Schlabach reported Georgia has fired head coach Mark Richt. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution followed with confirmation.

Richt went 145-51 in 15 seasons at Georgia, with two SEC championships and six top-1o finishes. But four of those top-10 finishes and both of the SEC titles came before 2008. The Dawgs posted only two top-10 finishes and no SEC titles in their last seven campaigns, and haven’t won a down SEC East since 2012.

Even still, it’s not as if Georgia fell off the map.

Georgia went 9-3 this season, closing with a 13-7 win over Georgia Tech.

Even with all the wins, a 10-year SEC title drought in a down SEC East and October losses to Alabama and Florida by a combined 65-13 were too much for Richt to overcome.

With the job coming open, Georgia will be viewed as the top vacancy in college football west of Los Angeles.

Updated 12:40 p.m. ET:

Georgia has officially announced the firing.

“Coach Richt and I met Sunday morning to discuss the status of our football program,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity,  “and we mutually agreed that he would step down as head coach and would have the opportunity to accept other duties and responsibilities at UGA following the bowl game.”

“I appreciate the opportunity of serving the University as well as considering any other options that may present themselves in the future,” said Richt.      

“On behalf of the University of Georgia Athletic Association and Bulldogs everywhere, I want to thank Mark and Katharyn for 15 years of remarkable service to the UGA community, hundreds of our students and staff, and to college football,” McGarity continued.

“Mark’s record on the field was outstanding; however, his impact on college football goes well beyond the gridiron. His fingerprints are evident on shaping the lives of children, many of whom attend a Bulldog summer camp or a retreat; they are evident on the prospective student-athletes as they determine what college to attend — whether it be UGA or a competitor; they are evident on his current players, and probably even more so, on those who have lettered and are in the workplace, as fathers and husbands. For those contributions, we are sincerely appreciative.”


The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 28: Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners is soaked with a water cooler by Nila Kasitati #54 of the Oklahoma Sooners after the Sooners beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 58-23 at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

Maybe next week when it comes to the ever-looming unbridled playoff chaos?

For those looking for the type of maelstrom that created significant upheaval, you were likely disappointed in the, relatively speaking, utter serenity of Week 13.  Five teams were “officially” eliminated from playoff contention with losses this week — No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 7 Baylor, No. 10 Michigan, No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Florida, with UM and UF barely on the periphery of the discussion to begin with.

Conversely, two teams have punched their tickets for a seat at the four-chair playoff table — No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama — provided they win as double-digit favorites on championship weekend.  A third team — No. 3 Oklahoma — should’ve wrapped up a spot with a dominating win, even without a Big 12 championship game in which to further impress.

Add it all up, and it appears there could — stress “could” here and assuming chalk in the ACC/SEC title games — be just a single playoff spot open seven days ahead of the committee’s final Top 25.  The clearest path would belong to the Big Ten, with the winner of the Iowa-Michigan State game seemingly in great shape to claim that fourth and final spot.  A win by unbeaten Iowa would lock the conference in for that fourth bid and lock every other “contender” out; an MSU win would almost secure it, although in theory it would leave the door open a crack for the likes of No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Stanford and No. 14 North Carolina, all of whom would need the aforementioned chaos to even get to the same library let alone the same page of the same postseason book.

Below are the scenarios for each remaining playoff contender and what they need, presumably, to claim one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff:

No. 1 Clemson — beat North Carolina in the ACC championship game; they need no outside help.
No. 2 Alabama — beat Florida in the SEC championship game; they need no outside help.
No. 3 Oklahoma — idle this coming weekend, sitting on couch hoping they don’t get TCU’d; I’d like to think they don’t need any outside help, so that’s what I’ll go with.
No. 4 Iowa — beat Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game; I’m going to assume that an undefeated Power Five conference champion would need no outside help.
No. 5 Michigan State — beat Iowa in the Big Ten championship game; I’d think that Michigan State would make it regardless, but having Alabama suffer its second loss wouldn’t be an unwelcome development in East Lansing (or Columbus).
No. 8 Ohio State — idle this weekend; would need Alabama to lose for certain, and Clemson possibly.  It remains to be seen whether it’d be better for OSU if MSU or Iowa lost, although it’s very likely the unbeaten latter.
No. 9 Stanford — soundly beat unranked USC in the Pac-12 championship; would need Clemson, Alabama and Iowa to lose, then hope their two losses can somehow be mitigated in the minds of the committee because of their standing as conference champions.
No. 14 North Carolina — beat Clemson in the ACC championship; would need Alabama and Iowa to lose, then hope the committee does what most observers think they won’t and moves them up what will likely be five or more spots into the top four.

One final thought: the SEC has to be absolutely terrified of the upcoming conference championship game.  Even as it’s unlikely that Florida could muster enough offense to keep it close let alone win, were ‘Bama to lose, that conference would very likely be on the outside of the playoffs looking in.  Adding to that misery?  It would be the Big Ten likely swooping in and grabbing a pair of spots.

In light of the CFP’s predecessor the BCS, chew on that potentially ironic development for a couple of minutes.

Through 12 weeks of the 2015 season, five Power Five divisions had already been decided — ACC Atlantic (Clemson), ACC Coastal (North Carolina), Big Ten West (Iowa), Pac-12 North (Stanford), SEC East (Florida) — leaving the Big Ten East, Big 12, Pac-12 South and SEC West as the only divisions/conferences entering Week 13 still sans a champion.  With one week left in the regular season, the three remaining divisions were decided: Michigan State the B1G East, USC the Pac-12 South and Alabama the SEC West.

Additionally, the championship game-less Big 12 was decided in resounding fashion with Oklahoma’s thumping of Bedlam rival Oklahoma State.

So, heading into next weekend, here are how the four Power Five conference championship games will play out:

No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 14 North Carolina, Dec. 5 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC
Clemson will be playing in its first ACC title game since 2011, and its third overall.  This will be UNC’s first appearance in the 11-year history of the event.

No. 4 Iowa vs. No. 5 Michigan State, Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Iowa will be making its first B1G title game appearance.  Michigan State previously represented the Legends Division in 2011, the first year of the event, and 2013.

No. 9 Stanford vs. USC, Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
This will be the third time Stanford has played in the Pac-12 title game since its inception in 2011.  USC is making its inaugural appearance, and is the fourth West teams in the five years of the game to represent the division.

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 12 Florida, Dec. 5 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.
Alabama will have appeared in 10 of the 24 SEC title games as the West representative.  This will be Florida’s first appearance since 2009 and 11th overall.

Unfortunately, the worst postseason fears of many have been realized.

With the addition of a handful of bowls for the 2015-16 cycle, there was a very plausible school of thought that, with 80 spots available, there wouldn’t be enough six-win teams to fill all 40 of this year’s postseason games.  That officially came to fruition in a Week 13 that began with 71 bowl-eligible squads.

This weekend, just four teams — Indiana, Tulsa, Virginia Tech and Washington — reached the magic six-win mark.  Thus, with a lone weekend left before bowl bids are handed out, there are 75 teams that have reached the requisite six wins.  More to the point, just three teams remain — Georgia State, Kansas State, South Alabama, all at 5-6 — that could reach bowl eligibility with a win next weekend.  That means at least two and as many as five 5-7 teams will receive a bowl bid as a reward for a sub-.500 season.

It remains to be seen how the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee will go about selecting the process for 5-7 teams to fill the remaining bowl slots.  There’s a possibility that a team’s Academic Progress Report (APR) standing could be used, which could be good news for teams like Nebraska, Missouri and, potentially, K-State.  The question of which order the bowls that will have to use a 5-7 team to fill its slots will select is unknown, as is whether how large of a role, if any, geography will play in the decisions as well.

All in all, it’s an absolute mess.  But, hey, more football is good football, right?

[/wanking motion]

Frank Beamer announced earlier this year that this would be his final season in Blacksburg.  Sitting one game away from bowl eligibility heading into Week 13, his Hokie team desperately wanted to send their beloved head coach out with a bowl appearance.

Thanks to a 17-point fourth quarter, Tech did just that as the 23-20 win over in-state rival Virginia pushed the Hokies to 6-6 on the season and into the postseason for the 23rd consecutive season.

Suffice to say, there were smiles — and liquid — all around afterwards.

Beamer, the winningest active FBS head coach, now has 279 career wins, 15th-most at any level of college football and sixth-best amongst FBS/Div. 1-A coaches.  While I’m not supposed to cheer for one team or another, I’ll be rooting for the classy coach to notch No. 280 regardless of who he faces in the postseason — especially if this is part of the postgame locker-room scene:

CUSA Football Championship - Louisiana Tech v MarshallHISTORY IN THE MAKING
Very quietly, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds and Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon set themselves up to break a rather significant record in the coming weeks.

Reynolds, who earlier this season broke Wisconsin’s Montee Ball‘s FBS record for career rushing touchdowns, tied Ball’s record Friday for total touchdowns (non-throwing) with 83.  All of Reynolds’ touchdowns as far as this record are concerned have come on the ground.

One day after Reynolds tied Ball’s record, Dixon did the same as his two receiving touchdowns in a loss to Southern Miss gave him 83 for his career as well.  Unlike Reynolds, 13 of Dixon’s touchdowns have been on receptions; the remaining 70 have been rushing touchdowns.

Reynolds will have two opportunities (Army game, bowl) to break Ball’s mark, while Dixon will have a bowl game.

Below is a list of links for all of the Week 13 gamers/pertinent pieces posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Clemson — The wobbly legs late in a rivalry game means nothing as the Tigers continue to be the best unbeaten team in college football.  Don’t sleep on the opponent in this weekend’s conference championship game, though.  Should be a better game than most are willing to give it credit for at the moment. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: ACC title game vs. No. 14 North Carolina, Dec. 5 in Charlotte

2. Alabama — I imagine there’ll be a push to move the Tide up a spot — Paul Finebaum, if you can believe it, is already leading that charge — but ‘Bama is right where they belong, and I suspect the committee will feel the same way. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: SEC title game vs. No. 12 Florida, Dec. 5 in Atlanta

3. Oklahoma — It was ever so tempting to move the Sooners past the Tide, or even the Tigers, but it’s the status quo for the time being.  I’ll say this, though: there’s not a team in college football that wants to see OU on the other side of the field right now.  And OU-‘Bama would be one helluva game, I think. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: idle

4. Iowa — All the Hawkeyes do is just keep wining and winning and winning., whether you’re impressed or not.  If they can get past Sparty, they may get the respect they likely deserve.  Maybe.  Possibly. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: Big Ten title game vs. No. 5 Michigan State, Dec. 5 in Indianapolis

5. Michigan State — Outside of the Sooners, the Spartans may be playing the best football in all of the FBS.  A win over a second unbeaten in three weeks would make them a hard, if not impossible team to keep out of the playoffs. (Last week: NR)
Next up: Big Ten title game vs. No. 4 Iowa, Dec. 5 in Indianapolis

(Dropped out: Notre Dame)
(Others considered: none)

2014 Heisman Trophy PresentationHEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at how the top contenders for this year’s stiff-armed trophy fared this past week.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (10-2, No. 13)
Saturday: 26 carries for 186 yards (7.0 ypc), two touchdowns; three receptions for 11 yards
Season: 211 carries for 1,661 yards (7.9 ypc), 18 touchdowns; 22 receptions for 218 yards, one touchdown

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (11-1, No. 2)
Saturday: 46 carries for 271 yards (5.9 ypc), one touchdown
Season: 295 carries for 1,797 yards (6.1 ypc), 22 touchdowns; 10 receptions for 97 yards

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (11-1, No. 7)
Saturday: 17-25 (68%), 180 yards, two touchdowns; 11 carries for 77 yards (11.0 ypc), one touchdown
Season: 243-354 (68.6%), 3,389 yards, 35 touchdowns, five interceptions; 131 carries for 420 yards (3.2 ypc), seven touchdowns

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (10-2, No. 9)
Saturday: 27 carries for 94 yards (3.5 ypc); three receptions for 19 yards; five kick returns for 109 yards; one punt return for six yards
Season: 287 carries for 1,640 yards (5.7 ypc), seven touchdowns; 37 receptions for 435 yards, three touchdowns; 31 kick returns for 922 yards, one touchdown; 12 punt returns for 38 yards; 1-2 passing (50%), 28 yards, one touchdown

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (12-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 20-27 (74.1%), 279 yards, one touchdown; 21 carries for 114 yards (5.4 ypc), three touchdowns
Season: 261-371 (70.4%), 3,223 yards, 27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 139 carries for 756 yards (5.4 ypc), nine touchdowns

(Dropped out: none)
(Added: none)

JT’s Personal Top Fivesman
1. Henry — Auburn knew what was coming, and the human tractor came at them more than 40 times, and they just simply couldn’t stop Henry.  The junior may not have sewn up the Heisman last night, but the needle & thread is most definitely out and the fat lady is sitting down in front of the Singer as we speak. (Last week: No. 1)
2. Cook — Certainly Cook was aided by an injury-ravaged Florida defensive line, but he nearly hung 200 on the SEC East champions.  I still say he’s not getting the respect he deserves, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he didn’t get an invitation to the Big Apple.  (Last week: No. 2)
3. Watson — The true sophomore just quietly goes about his business, putting up solid/borderline spectacular stats on a weekly basis while helping his team to the top spot in the playoff rankings.  It’ll be hard if not impossible for anyone to catch Henry, but I think Watson and Cook deserve to have their tickets punched to New York City in mid-December. (Last week: No. 3)
4. McCaffrey — On a huge stage against Notre Dame, the multi-purpose McCaffrey was, well, OK.  He had over 200 all-purpose yards, but didn’t find the end zone and was decidedly overshadowed by his quarterback. (Last week: 4)
5. Mayfield — After being the driver of as dominating a performance any team has put on this season, I suppose I should move Mayfield up a bit.  I won’t, though, because of the season-long brilliance of those ahead of him.  And that’s no slight to Mayfield, either, just the recognition of what the others have done. (Last week: 5)

Urban Meyer took a lot of heat for the play-calling in Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State last week, particularly as it pertained to the use, or lack thereof, of star running back Ezekiel Elliott.  ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe, from completely out of left field, used a pregame interview with Meyer prior to The Game to remind the coach of Elliott’s career-high in carries.  Welcome to one of the most awesomely awkward and uncomfortable moments of Week 13.

For the record, Elliott, one week after a 12-carry, 33-yard day led to the junior publicly dressing down the play-calling, carried 30 times for 214 yards.   Well played, Ms. Rowe.  Well played.

Speaking of well played, Mr. Elliott had a response to seeing that his counterpart at Alabama, Derrick Henry, carried the ball 46 times in a win over Auburn.

That, young people in the audience, is the Miles Davis of shade throwing.

About the only thing better than a fat guy touchdown is a fat guy touchdown in which said fat guy breaks out the stiff-arm.  In that vein, meet Michigan State center Jake Allen, who added insult to scoreboard injury in the beatdown of Penn State with this hefty gem.

Regardless of how many times it happens, Lee Corso in Pistol Pete headgear and firing assorted weaponry wildly into the air will never, ever get old.

I’m thinking one former Bedlam participant got a little bit too caught up in the atmosphere of this year’s Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

“Damn!” — Odell Beckham Jr., after seeing this highlight featuring Southern Miss’ Mike Thomas.

For the most part, every stop the ESPN College GameDay caravan makes further confirms that fans all across the country have run out of original sign ideas.  Of course, there are exceptions.  This, from the stop in Stillwater for Bedlam, is one of them.

“I don’t want to go where you’re headed, what if we didn’t do that, because it would be dire straits right now. You can win a million games in a row and you lose two in a row and you’re back to square one.” — Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, on what losing to rival Michigan would’ve meant coming on the heels of a loss to Michigan State.

“Amazing. It was indescribable. I can’t explain it. It’s something I’ve always looked forward to, dreamed of and to be able to do it. It’s awesome.” — Alabama quarterback Jake Coker, on playing in his first Iron Bowl.

“I now know what it’s like to ride an elephant.” — LSU head coach Les Miles, after being carried off the field by his football team following the win over Texas A&M.

“We’re not very pleased with the way we finished again. I know the fans are not happy. And I’m not happy. It’s disappointing. It’s tough.” — Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, after watching his team blow a 21-point lead to Louisville and win five games for the second straight season.

“I don’t really know what to say. I’ve never been around a team that is 12-0. I’m a little bit speechless on that. It is just an unbelievable accomplishment.” — Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Meads Cup Final - North Otago v WanganuiSTREAKING
Clemson’s 15-game winning streak is the longest in the country, while Iowa (12) and North Carolina (11) are the only others in double digits.  Alabama is on the verge of joining that select club with nine wins in a row, while San Diego State and Arkansas State have won eight and seven straight, respectively.  Oregon and Southern Miss have now won six consecutive games as well.

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak is Kansas at 15 straight, followed by UCF (13), Charlotte (10), Eastern Michigan (10), Louisiana-Monroe (10), Oregon State (eight) and Boston College (eight).

For the first time in its history, the ACC has two teams with double-digit winning streaks at the same time. Clemson has won 15 games in a row, the longest current winning streak in the FBS, while North Carolina has now won 11 straight games, which is the third-longest current winning streak.

Temple LB Tyler Matakevich became the seventh FBS player to register 100 tackles in four seasons He joins Rick Razzano, Virginia Tech (1974-77); Carl McGee, Duke (1975-78); Dan Bass, Michigan State (1976-79); Stephen Boyd, Boston College (1991-94); Dana Howard, Illinois (1991-94); and Marcus McGraw, Houston (2008-11).  Matakevich is also the only player in the nation to lead his team in tackles in every game this season.

With last Saturday’s victory over Charleston Southern, Alabama reached the 10-win plateau for the eighth straight season. The eight consecutive years with 10 wins extends the school record that was set by the Tide last season. It is the third-longest streak in FBS since 1937, with only Florida State (14 10-win seasons from 1987-2000) and Texas (nine 10-win seasons from 2001-09) owning longer stretches.

Florida State has not allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown in 154 consecutive games, the best active streak among FBS schools (10/2/04 – 11/21/15).

Ohio State has won a school-record 18 consecutive true road games (games on an opponents home field), the longest such streak in the nation. The Buckeyes are undefeated, a perfect 18-0, in road games under head coach Urban Meyer, or since the start of the 2012 season.

Courtesy of the Clemson sports information department

Consecutive 10-Win Seasons

Courtesy of the UT-San Antonio sports information department

First-Time Players

Courtesy of the Louisville sports information department

Eight-Win Seasons

Courtesy of the Michigan sports information department

Oldest College Football Programs

Since the 2008 season, Alabama has played in only three regular season games without national championship implications. Following the Crimson Tide’s 24-21 loss to LSU in 2010, UA was essentially eliminated from the national championship discussion. The final three games of that season mark the only three regular season contests without national championship implications for the Tide in the past eight years (96 of 99 games).

At 109 straight, the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry has the longest active streak for consecutive years played at the FBS level.  Clemson-South Carolina is second-longest at 107 straight. The five most-played rivalry games are Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (125); Missouri vs. Kansas (120); Cincinnati vs. Miami of Ohio (120); North Carolina vs. Virginia (120); Oregon vs. Oregon State; Auburn vs. Georgia (119).

Kansas and UCF lead the FBS with 33 first-time starters each this season.  The two teams are also a combined 0-28 in 2015, and have the two longest losing streaks at this level of football.

Memphis v TempleDID YOU KNOW THAT

Paxton Lynch‘s seven first-half touchdown passes in Memphis’ rout of SMU tied an FBS record?  This is the fifth time this has been accomplished, with Lynch joining San Diego State’s Dennis Shaw (1969), Florida’s Terry Dean (1994), Florida’s Doug Johnson (1997) and Hawaii’s Bryant Munoz (2011).  Lynch didn’t throw another touchdown pass in the game, falling short of Houston’s David Klingler‘s single-game FBS record of 11 set in 1990.

… the first 300-yard passing game of Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds‘ career came in the senior’s 48th game?  The 312 yards in a Friday loss to Houston easily surpassed his previous career-high, a 233-yard performance in a September win over Delaware the second week of the 2013 season.  Reynolds has only surpassed 100 yards in a game 13 times, and has gone over 200 yards a mere three times.

… the 542 passing yards by Jared Goff in the 48-46 win over Arizona State set a Cal single-game record?  The previous record was the 527 put up by Goff in October of last year.

… Texas Tech had its first season in school history with a 1,000-yard rusher (DeAndre Washington), a 1,000-yard receiver (Jakeem Grant) and 4,000-yard passer (Patrick Mahomes)?

… with 159 yards rushing, Leonard Fournette broke Charles’ Alexander‘s single-season LSU record of 1,686 set back in 1977?  The sophomore now has 1,741.

499071674… with 63 yards rushing, Ronald Jones III bested Charles White‘s USC single-season freshman rushing record of 857 yards?  Jones now has 890 yards on the season with two games remaining.

… Iowa has won 10 or more games in a season seven times, and four of those have come during Kirk Ferentz‘s 17-year tenure in Iowa City?  The other three belong to the man Ferentz replaced in 1999, Hayden Fry.

… Clemson tied a school record with its 15th straight win?  The first 15-gamer happened from 1947-49; this 15-gamer began the week after a Nov. 15 loss to Georgia Tech last season.

… Iowa set a school record with its 12th win of the season Saturday?  The Hawkeyes had previously won 11 games in a season in 2002 and 2009.

… Saturday’s Mississippi State-Ole Miss game marked the first time in the in-state rivalry’s history that both teams have been nationally ranked in back-to-back Egg Bowls?  It also served as the sixth time in the 112-year history of the game that both teams have been ranked at the time of their meeting, with the others coming in 1999, 1992, 1957 and 1940.

Alabama v Auburn… Alabama and Baylor are the only FBS teams that have beaten Associated Press Top 10 teams each of the last five seasons?

… Texas Tech more than quadrupled the number of rushing touchdowns from 2014 to this season?  The Red Raiders had eight last season, and have 34 in 12 games in 2015.

… Boise State has 17 consecutive seasons with at least eight wins, the most in the country?  LSU is next with 16 straight.

… Western Michigan’s win over No. 24 Toledo Friday was the program’s first-ever over a ranked opponent?

LSU AD: ‘Les Miles is our coach and will continue to be our coach’

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers celebrates after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies 19-7 at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Never mind people.  Move on.  There’s nothing to see here.

After a couple of weeks worth of speculation it appeared as if today’s game against Texas A&M would be Les Miles‘ last as LSU’s head coach.  There were at least two reports, though, that indicated a win would go a long way in helping to save Miles’ job.

With a 19-7 victory over the Aggies in the books, all eyes turned toward Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva.  And, in one fell swoop, the A.D. did something that could’ve been done a week or more ago instead of leaving his long-time head coach out to dry — he came out and publicly announced that Miles will remain on as the program’s head football coach.

“I ant to make it clear that Les Miles is our football coach and will continue to be our football coach,” Alleva stated. “My policy is to wait until the end of the season, and obviously it’s the end of the regular season right now.”

Certainly there’s more back-channel intrigue simmering just below and will likely surface in the coming days and weeks, but Miles will remain at LSU for the foreseeable future.  And with a seemingly weakened boss for good measure while his own personal profile among the fan base and his players — and some boosters, who haven’t appreciated how he’s been treated — has done nothing but grow stronger.

Simply put, it’d be hard to find a way to screw up a non-firing firing more than LSU just did.  And the worst thing about it for the university, it’s done nothing but embolden Miles and his supporters, making it potentially even harder to get rid of him if/when they actually do want to pull the trigger.

The speculation has already begun that Alleva’s job is on the line.  Here’s to guessing that his head likely won’t be the only one to roll because of how mismanaged the situation became.

Oklahoma makes playoff statement on behalf of Big 12

Dimitri Flowers, Trace Clark

If Oklahoma had anything to say about it Saturday night in Stillwater, the Big 12 is not in danger of missing out on the College Football Playoff this year. The No. 3 Sooners (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) locked up the outright Big 12 championship with a 58-23 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) to close out regular season play. The ball is now in the playoff selection committee’s court. There is no way Oklahoma should not be in the top four when the final playoff rankings are updated after next weekend’s conference championship games.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 17 of 25 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, but the Sooners offense was a two-man show between running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. The two each rushed for over 130 yards (136 yards for Mixon, 131 for Perine) and each scored two rushing touchdowns. Mayfield also got involved running the football, taking off for 77 yards and a touchdown of his own. Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh got the start at quarterback with Mason Rudolph banged up. Walsh passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns, but that was mostly while the Cowboys were attempting to catch up in the second half.

Oklahoma finished its season with the three best consecutive wins any College Football Playoff contender or participant likely will have played with wins over ranked opponents Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. Two of those wins were on the road too. The Big 12’s back loaded scheduled needed one team to rise up and prove worthy of playoff hype, and Oklahoma turned out to be that team. Throw in a nice road win earlier in the season at Tennessee, and Oklahoma’s overall body of work is solid, perhaps even more so than that of Alabama’s. Michigan State could prove to be a different argument, as the Spartans could have road wins at Michigan and Ohio State to go with a win against Oregon and an undefeated Iowa if Michigan State wins the Big Ten Championship Game next week.

Oklahoma’s fate as the Big 12’s playoff hope was further cemented with Notre Dame falling out of the running with a close loss at Stanford. It is not likely Oklahoma would be at risk of dropping behind Stanford as a two-loss Pac-12 champion. Oklahoma would have the edge, even if Stanford blasted USC 59-0 next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Sooners will be a solid lock for one of the top four spots in the playoff, and may have a chance to wiggle up the rankings while not playing a game. Whatever the case, the Big 12 will be sending its one true champion to the playoff fun, once again showing the conference is not in need of expansion or a conference championship game. Some years it will work out, some years it will not. Such will be life in the Big 12.

Oklahoma will be fine with that.