As is the case every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.
Yes he Cam!
While there may be some doubt as to whether he’ll ultimately be able to keep it, there’s no question where the 2010 Heisman Trophy should start its journey. Cam Newton is, hands down, the best college football player in the country. Really, though, there was no doubt heading into the SEC title game that was the case; all his 408-yard, six-touchdown performance did was simply slap a brilliant exclamation point on a for-the-ages season. I understand that Newton is a polarizing figure off the field, but he’s one of the most brilliant players I’ve ever witnessed on it and had a season you might not see for decades. You can’t help but respect what he does between the lines, regardless of what may have gone on behind the scenes.
Going… going… Ore-gone’d
How good is Oregon? They can be off their game, relatively speaking, and still win by 17. On the road. In a rivalry game. They were held to 51 yards under their seasonal average for total offense, and nearly two touchdowns below their points-per-game average. Whether it was looking ahead to their next game or Oregon State playing above their level, they played arguably their second-worst game of the season and still won going away. That is the mark of a team with championship-level talent. And one that had better be, unlike today, completely focused by the time they take the field against Auburn.
No, it’s not the national title game they had held out hope for, but wrap your head around the fact that there will be a team of Horned Frogs running around the turf of the historic Rose Bowl come January. That bowl’s officials will likely recoil in horror privately, but there’s little doubt that TCU deserves a spot at the BcS big boy table; short of a spot in Glendale, being in Pasadena in January is about as good as it gets for a school from a non-automatic qualifying conference. The fact that it will be forced upon one of the BcS powerbrokers is simply icing on a very sweet cake.
Sooner or later Stoops’ll cut you down…
Down 17-0 early in the second quarter? Please, is that all you got? 23 points, seven sacks and a stifling defense later, Oklahoma had grabbed their seventh — and last, at least for a while — Big 12 championship game win in eight tries, and did it with the largest comeback in the game’s history. The Sooners’ defense, after a very sketchy start, held Nebraska to just 5.3 yards per pass attempt and 3.4 per rush while forcing four turnovers in the 23-20 win that sends the Sooners to the Fiesta Bowl. As a reward for their win, the Sooners will get a vacation masquerading as a postseason match-up with the winner of the Big East. Woohoo?!?
Big East audition?
For the second time in the school’s brief history, and first since 2007, UCF has taken home the Conference USA title thanks to a 17-7 win over SMU. It could be one of their last, though, as the Knights have been rumored to be a target of the Big East as that conference expands to 10 football-playing schools. Regardless, it’s a helluva feather in the cap of George O’ Leary & Company, who are quietly building a tremendous football program as the fifth major college option — for now — in a state loaded with football talent.
Michael Haywood? He’s MAC-tastic!
Last season at this time, Miami of Ohio was licking wounds brought on by an abysmal 1-11 season that led to the firing of their head coach. 12 months later, the RedHawks are sipping the conference champagne. The biggest difference between this season and last? Head coach Michael Haywood. Not only did the RedHawks win eight more games than last season — the biggest turnaround in Div. 1-A this year — but the school took home the MAC title with a stunning, final-minutes win over heavily-favored Northern Illinois Friday night. I don’t know if Haywood should win coach-of-the-year honors, but I damn well know that he should be in the discussion.
30-degree weather and a healthy blanket of snow on the ground, with more coming down throughout the game? To all y’all Southerners, that is football weather right there. The only problem with the game was the fact that it was Pittsburgh-Cincinnati. The Big East has been bad enough this season; they didn’t need weather issues to further highlight their struggles. There was a Big East bright spot amidst the snow angels, however…
Welcome back Dion
In the first 11 games of the season, Pittsburgh’s talented running back Dion Lewis, after rushing for nearly 1,800 yards as a freshman, had rushed for just 695 yards. Today, the sophomore ran over, around and through the Bearcats for 261 yards and four touchdowns; both totals were double his previous season highs. If this Lewis had been around all season long, the Panthers may have just lived up to preseason expectations. And the calls for the head coach’s head on a football-shaped platter may have been avoided for another season.
Theyyy are the… champions?
Yes, it’s like being the starting center in the Midget Basketball League All-Star game, but give the UConn Huskies their props; in a very, very down year, they are the champions of the Big East and have “earned” the right to represent the conference in their BcS game. As much as I would like to pee all over UConn’s parade because of the conference they’re coming out of — and I’m having a difficult time holding it in until I make it to the nearest rest stop — how could I? What a tremendous story coming out of Storrs, especially with the memory of Jasper Howard, the Huskies cornerback murdered so senselessly last season, still fresh in their minds. Amazing job by Randy Edsall, one of the most underrated head coaches in the country. But still, let’s be honest: how fitting was it that it took a 52-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to send a four-loss team to the BcS as the Big East representative? That’s what I thought, too.
Colin What’s-His-Name: Mr. 20/20, the Three-quel
Today, Cam Newton became the second player in college football history to pass for at least 20 touchdowns and rush for at least 20 more in the same season. The Auburn quarterback wasn’t the only one to join that exclusive 20/20 club Saturday, however, as Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick became its third member in the Wolf Pack’s season finale. Kaepernick also tied the NCAA record for touchdowns rushing by a quarterback with 59, matching the mark set by Nebraska’s Eric Crouch. The senior doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but he is truly one of the most outstanding quarterbacks and all-around football players at the collegiate level.
Getting Polk’d up the Wazzu
For the first time in eight years, and thanks in no small part to Chris Polk, the Washington Huskies are bowl eligible. All the running back did was rush for a career-high 289 yards on 29 carries and score two touchdowns in the Huskies’ Apple Cup win over Washington State. Congrats to head coach Steve Sarkisian for coming in and turning a winless football program into a bowl-eligible one in just two years.
The Rose Bowl
As much as TCU was pulling for an upset of either Oregon or Auburn, the Granddaddy of Them All very likely trumped them by getting on bended knee and praying to a Higher Football Power for Oregon State to dash Oregon’s title hopes. As that didn’t happen, by rule, the Rose Bowl will be forced to take the Horned Frogs in a match-up that will pit the school from a non-automatic qualifying conference against the Big Ten’s Wisconsin (more than likely). While that development will not please the Pasadena higher-ups and likely induce night terrors for the next month or so, anything that causes angst amongst the powerbrokers in the BcS brings a very big smile to my face.
Nebraska, why I oughta…
The one and only reason the Cornhuskers are in this part of the piece, besides the obvious? Because they blew a 17-point lead and denied me the opportunity to see the smugness wiped off the face of commissioner Dan Beebe as he handed the Big 12 title trophy to Tom Osborne, that’s why. Hell, I had visions of Osborne on the podium playing the role of Nolan Ryan to Beebe’s Robin Ventura. Thank you very much, dream killers. Damn you, Nebraska. Damn you. Oh, and welcome to the Big Ten.
Oh, man, not again…
We really hate putting this kid here, but what the hell, it’s Christmas. Boise State’s Kyle Brotzman, the goat of the Broncos’ lone loss of the season that knocked them out of the BcS mix, made six extra points in BSU’s easy win over Utah State but missed his lone field goal attempt; if he would’ve made that 40-yarder, he would’ve set the NCAA’s all-time scoring record for a kicker. Again, we hate putting Brotzman here after the social media hell he’s endured, but c’mon man.
Entering the 2010 season, Pittsburgh was a near-unanimous pick to win the Big East and represent the conference in the BcS. Yes, the Panthers won a share of the Big East title, but it was a disappointing — and potentially job-ending — season on nearly every level. Not only were the Panthers unable to secure an outright league crown and its requisite BcS berth, but they also lost five of the 12 games played. That should be especially disconcerting to Dave Wannstedt‘s bosses when you consider he was coming off a ten-win season and had what some thought to be an outside shot at being in the championship mix given the lack of quality in the conference. Instead, Pittsburgh ends the regular season with more question marks that at any point during Wannstedt’s tenure; that’s not a good sign when you’re exiting Year Six of said tenure.
It was going to take a perfect or near-perfect effort from Oregon State to topple hated rival Oregon. Four interceptions and a staggering 12 passes either batted down at the line of scrimmage or by the cover man later, the Beavers were on the receiving end of a 37-20 spanking by the Ducks that was far worse than what it looks like on paper. Speaking of paper, the Beavers were expected to be much improved in 2010 and possibly challenge for the Pac-10 title; instead, at 5-7, OSU is ineligible for a postseason berth and own their worst record since 2005. Losses to non-AQ powerhouses TCU and Boise State didn’t help their cause, but neither did their uneven play throughout most of the season. For the love of God, they lost to Washington Freaking State. That’s about all you need to know about the Beavers in 2010.
Stat of the Day: Cam Newton was 2-for-2 passing for 74 yards and a TD on the opening drive. For the season, he is now 19-for-19 passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns on Auburn’s opening drives.
Performance of the Day, Non-Cam Newton Division: Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams set an SEC title game record with 217 yards receiving; he didn’t have a catch in the second half.