2009 NCAA College Football Top 25: Top 25 After Week #12
We all knew that this would be a pretty boring weekend, especially at the top of the standings, where the top eight all were heavily favored and unsurprisingly held steady with victories. However, we didn’t expect the high level of drama that emerged in the Pac Ten. It was nothing short of an amazing night on the West Coast!
On top of the Pac Ten craziness, we also had a large number of teams clinch championships this weekend. In conference action, Ohio State clinched the outright Big Ten Championship, Oregon clinched a share of the Pac Ten (but not a Rose Bowl berth), TCU clinched a share of the Mountain West and Troy clinched the Sun Belt and a Liberty Bowl berth! Meanwhile, Clemson, Nebraska, Texas, and Central Michigan all clinched their respective division crowns. Congratulations to the champions!
SIX THINGS WE LEARNED THIS WEEK
The 2009 edition of the Civil War will go down as the biggest renewal of the rivalry because Oregon-Oregon State on December 3 rd is now the Pac Ten Championship Game. That’s right, to the winner goes the spoils! In a remarkable twist of irony, Oregon ruined Oregon State’s Rose Bowl hopes on their home field last year and now the Beavers have the same chance one year later. I told you last week to keep an eye on Oregon State and now they have the opportunity to earn that elusive Rose Bowl berth that their fans have been dreaming about for over four decades. All they have to do is beat their archrivals………….
While we’re discussing the Pac Ten, I’m in awe of how great the conference has been of late. While the SEC crawls towards the inevitable Alabama-Florida showdown in four months two weeks and Texas continues their ritualistic slaughter of all Big XII comers (in an absolutely terrible year for the league), the Pac Ten has been full of twists and turns and drama on the Left Coast. Mighty USC has fallen swiftly from grace, capped off by a route on home turf by Stanford. However, the Cardinal was knocked down by archrival Cal this week to eliminate any chance of a conference crown. Ironically, the team that Stanford began their surprising run against, Oregon, benefited from their meltdown.
Meanwhile, the ‘cosmic curse’ continues against Arizona after losing their third heartbreaking conference game of the season to the Ducks in double overtime. After watching Arizona lose to an immaculate Washington interception, an unheard of loss of down penalty as a result of two forward passes on one play against Cal and the most recent come from ahead crusher to Oregon, I’m starting to believe that Arizona really IS cursed!
However, what I absolutely believe is that the Pac Ten is not only the most exciting conference in the country this year, it has been the best conference in the country in 2009.
While the Big Ten gets a ton of flack from various media outlets (cough, E! SPiN, cough) for their recent postseason struggles, there is no denying the lure of the league’s massive fan bases and hordes of traveling alumni to bowls across the Sun Belt. When the Big Ten has two ten win teams, historic indicates that both teams will end up in the big money games. Well, the Big Ten has THREE 10-2 teams as the season concludes and all three (Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State) are notoriously strong when it comes to filling hotel rooms, putting butts in seats and producing high television ratings.
Look, people can pontificate about the BCS taking two non-BCS teams all they want, the reality is that no BCS Bowl will take Boise State ahead of Iowa or Penn State unless they’re contractually obligated to do so. If the Fiesta Bowl doesn’t take Iowa or Penn State as a replacement for Texas in the National Title game, the Orange Bowl will happily snap them up with the next selection. People forget that the bowls (outside of the National Title Game) exist to make money and that’s what Big Ten schools do best: Bring in a ton of money and viewers for whatever bowl games their teams are involved in.
Apparently Lester Miles got his Michigan degree as a byproduct of Jim Harbaugh’s questionable Wolverine football player academics because the only explanation for Miles’ inexcusable failure to properly manage the clock at the end of LSU’s loss at Ole Miss is that he can’t read or count.
Here’s the scenario: LSU was losing by two points and was forced into a 4 th and long situation thanks to an Ole Miss sack with 26 seconds left in the game. The Tigers still had one timeout left and the only way to stop the clock was to use said timeout. However, Miles inexplicably let the clock run down to nine seconds before using it! Could Miles not read the scoreboard and see that the clock was ticking? Could he not count and realize that if he uses his ONE timeout then he would save SEVENTEEN seconds? This isn’t just basic failure as a football coach, it is basic failure to pass 1 st grade math! And this man has a degree from the University of Michigan?
Of course, LSU converted the 4 th and long and were in chip-shot field goal range. However, since Miles let the clock run down so low, there was only one second left and LSU couldn’t even run a play to have a chance to win the game! In short, Les Miles committed the worst crime in coaching: He didn’t just fail to put his team in position to win a game, he actually outright prevented it thanks to his unfathomably bad decision-making. I can guarantee that Miles’ already falling popularity on the Bayou has taken a huge tumble after this unforgivable gaffe.
While we’re on the topic of the SEC, let’s get one thing straight: Alabama and Florida are so far ahead of the rest of the league that there really isn’t any comparison. After those two, who should each finish 8-0 in conference play, there are only TWO other teams that enter the final weekend with a chance at a winning SEC record and both are 4-3!
Outside of Vanderbilt, teams three through eleven are practically interchangeable. LSU beat Mississippi State who beat Kentucky who beat Georgia who beat Arkansas who beat Auburn who beat Tennessee who beat South Carolina who best Ole Miss who beat LSU!
In short, this league’s 3 rd best team might shake out to be Kentucky! The SEC has two elite teams and then after that, there’s nothing more than a hodgepodge of six and seven win teams. While the league deserves a ton of credit for being one of the best conferences in the country on a yearly basis, let’s call a spade a spade: At this point, the SEC isn’t the best conference in 2009.
In fact, the SEC strongly resembles another infamous conference season: The 2006 Big Ten. That was the year that Ohio State and Michigan spent nearly two months atop the national rankings before their titanic clash and was also the last year that the Big Ten doubled as the national media darlings. However, with the notable exceptions of 12-1 Wisconsin and 9-4 Penn State (both of whom beat SEC teams in bowl games that year, a fact that is forgotten behind the mushroom cloud of SEC love that was created by Ohio State’s self-destruction in that year’s title game), the Big Ten was downright mediocre behind the two titans that year.
That’s what the 2009 SEC looks like: A playground for two of the country’s most dominant teams instead of the killer depth league that it has recently built its reputation upon.
While the weekend of Thanksgiving is always a great time for rivalry games, I’m trying to avoid looking ahead to the first weekend of December, a.k.a. Championship Weekend. We are going to have more conferences decided in outright championship affairs this year than any other year in the past!
Obviously, the five leagues with conference championship games will crown their champions. Florida-Alabama will be one of the biggest games of the season in an SEC clash of titans. Texas-Nebraska is tradition-laden and could get interesting with the Cornhuskers’ N-Dominant line led by this year’s #1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Ndamakung Suh. Georgia Tech and Clemson will provide the ACC’s first truly great match up since they created a championship game, assuming both dispatch struggling in-state SEC rivals this weekend. Even Conference USA and the MAC are setting up strong title clashes!
But it gets even better: The Big East will be decided when Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh and the Pac Ten will be decided when Oregon and Oregon State face off! Both games are true title games: Winner take all instead of the usual fare of ‘Team X can clinch the conference with a win over a 7-4 team’. That gives us a whopping SEVEN true championship affairs in one weekend! I think I need to go buy another television! So, no offense to the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend slate of games, which are fantastic in their own right, but I can’t wait for this week to be over and get on to Championship Weekend!
After the shakedown in the Pac Ten this week, I’m afraid that my ‘Boise State vs. USC in the Emerald Bowl’ scenario seems rather unlikely. However, I have altered my predictions for the Broncos so that they match up with another major team in the win/loss column. Last season, Boise State turned down matchups with average BCS conference teams to face a non-BCS team with a stronger record when they played TCU. This year, I believe that they’ll do the same. However, instead of traveling to San Diego, I think that they’ll travel to Detroit to take on Central Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in a game that could match 13-0 Boise State against 11-2 Central Michigan.
I think that this is the likely postseason scenario for both teams, assuming they win out. The real question is whether the GMAC Bowl and its nicer climate and ideal television time (the night before the National Title Game) will make a pitch to move the game out of Detroit.
Whether you’re interested in the reasoning for my projections, are simply curious where your favorite team is going to end up in the postseason or just need a good laugh at Notre Dame’s projected landing in a cold-weather bowl, then check out all 34 bowl projections!
BCS Championship: Alabama versus Texas
Rose Bowl : Ohio State versus Oregon
Sugar Bowl : Florida versus Pittsburgh
Fiesta Bowl : Texas Christian versus Oklahoma State
Orange Bowl : Georgia Tech versus Iowa
THE FINAL RANT: ABC’s ‘Regional’ Coverage Stinks
When I see ‘regional coverage’ listed as ABC’s Saturday night game, I usually cringe. Almost uniformly, ABC broadcasts two or three games and the one that is broadcast in my region is the only boring blowout of the night. Unfortunately for most of the country, ABC decided to break out this format once more this past weekend and the majority of us got screwed.
Here were the two regional games that were offered: Kansas-Texas and Oregon-Arizona. The majority of the country would see the Texas game, while most of the West Coast got the Pac Ten showdown. While I would argue that the Oregon game should have been an outright national broadcast, I can understand the logic behind broadcasting games that are of ‘local’ interest.
What I don’t understand however, is why ABC refused to leave the Texas game when it was clearly out of control at halftime. What I REALLY don’t understand is why I had to watch Texas bleed the clock with a four touchdown lead when Oregon was frantically trying to come back in Tucson. What infuriates me is why I had to watch a wrap up of Charlie Weis’ coup de grace as Notre Dame head coach when Oregon-Arizona went into overtime and control of the Pac Ten race was on the line!
Hey ABC, take a page out of the NFL’s book: If the local broadcast game stinks, don’t try to keep shoving it down an uninterested public’s throat! You think more people were tuned in to watch the freaking human interest story of Colt McCoy’s final home game or ‘500 pound coach hates his players’ (a.k.a. Mangino the Hutt Presents: Go Back To The Hood And Get Shot!) from the Kansas sideline than they would have been for the conclusion of an awesome, season-defining overtime game between two of the most exciting teams in the country? If you actually think that is the case, I have some volcano insurance to sell you……….
So here’s my challenge: Fix whatever contractual fine print that forced millions of Americans to watch Mark Mangino’s eight chins flop around for three hours instead of watching an Instant Classic because it was on Mountain Time! And fix it now!
THE TOP 25
These rankings reflect the entire resume of a team during the season. Thus, I’m not putting together a power ranking based on teams matching up on a proverbial neutral field and settling things. In fact, I’m doing quite the opposite: I’m trying to reward achievement throughout the season against quality competition.
For example, I might be one of the few in the country that doesn’t have Boise State in the top ten. While the Broncos have an undeniably impressive victory over Oregon on their resume, they can only boast two victories over teams with a winning record on the rest of their entire schedule! That’s why both TCU is ranked way ahead of them: They’ve played a significantly tougher schedule and I want to reward that.
That stance should encapsulate the philosophy behind my top 25. Without further ado, here are the newest top 25 rankings……
THE NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST
#1)Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0, #1 Last Week)
Week 12 Result: 45-0 Victory at Home versus Chattanooga (D-1AA)
Alabama virtually put their season on hold this past weekend as they stomped Chattanooga at home. How bad was the game? Heisman candidate tailback Mark Ingram played his last down early in the second quarter! Now all that stands in the way of the Tide’s second consecutive undefeated regular season is archrival Auburn.
Week 13: Friday, At Auburn, 2:30 PM EST
#2)Florida Gators (11-0, #2)
Week 12 Result: 62-3 Victory at Home versus Florida International
The Gators’ off week wasn’t much different than Alabama’s, with the caveat that Florida International was actually a D-1A team. The Gators blew the doors off of the hapless Panthers and now only need to defeat 6-5 Florida State to finish the school’s first unbeaten regular season in history.
Week 13: Home versus Florida State, 3:30 PM EST
#3)Texas Longhorns (11-0, #3)
Week 12 Result: 51-20 Victory at Home versus Kansas
The Longhorns officially clinched the Big XII South for the first time since their last national championship season with a dominant victory against Kansas on senior day. However, the Longhorns can’t afford to look ahead to their matchup with Nebraska because rival Texas A&M is waiting. Remember, the Aggies upset Texas in both 2006 and 2007…….
Week 13: Home versus Kansas, 8:00 PM EST
#4)Cincinnati Bearcats (10-0, #4)
Week 12 Result: Off Week
Cincinnati had the week off and they need to be very careful as they face off against Illinois this Friday. The Bearcats probably didn’t expect to be facing a 3-7 team this late in the season when they scheduled the talented but poorly coached Fighting Illini and now this looks like a giant trap game with the showdown against Pittsburgh looming in two weeks. If the Bearcats want to be considered a National Championship contender, they can’t afford to overlook the (sort of) Fightin’ Zookers.
Week 13: Friday, Home versus Illinois, Noon EST
#5)Texas Christian Horned Frogs (11-0, #5)
Week 12 Result: 45-10 Victory at Wyoming
TCU has to beat 1-10 New Mexico to essentially clinch a BCS at-large bid this weekend. The Horned Frogs are still a long shot to play for the National Title but they’re going to become the 5 th team from a non-BCS conference to earn a bid into the country’s most elite games. Assuming, of course, that the Lobos cooperate.
Week 13: Home versus New Mexico, 1:00 PM EST
THE BEST OF THE REST
#6)Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-1, #6)
Week 12 Result: Off Week
As crazy as it sounds, the rivalry showdown with Georgia this weekend is somewhat of an afterthought in the minds of many Tech fans thanks to the looming ACC Championship game. However, the Yellow Jackets enter the game with nothing to gain and everything to lose thanks to their vastly superior record. Can Tech make it two in a row over their hated rivals from Athens?
Week 13: Home versus Georgia, 8:00 PM EST
#7)Pittsburgh Panthers (9-1, #7)
Week 12 Result: Off Week
The Panthers are in a similar position to Tech: They face their most hated rival this week but the majority of their fans are already looking ahead to the championship showdown with Cincinnati the week after. That’s not a good position to be in for the Panthers because they’ve beaten the Mountaineers twice in a row and their talented rivals have a very strong chance at ending the streak this Friday. Be wary, Pitt……
Week 13: Friday, At West Virginia, 7:00 PM EST
#8)Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2, #8)
Week 12 Result: 21-10 Victory at Michigan
I’m not sure how anyone can question Jim Tressel at this point. The Buckeyes are 8-1 against Michigan under his guidance, have won six Big Ten titles and a National Championship and are about to play in their 7 th BCS bowl in nine years! When you get results like that, I don’t care what the games look like! A small but vocal segment of Ohio State’s fans are frustrated because Tressel seems reluctant to field a pretty offense but I wonder how many of those some fans remember when Ohio State could field a pretty offense but couldn’t beat Michigan. Simply put, Tressel has won an average of ten games per year during his tenure and if he keeps up that pace he could eventually end up challenging Woody Hayes as the most successful coach in Ohio State’s glorious history.
The Buckeyes will be paying very close attention to the Oregon-Oregon State showdown in two weeks because the winner will be their opponent in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Ohio State will be playing in their first Rose Bowl since 1996.
Week 13: Regular Season Complete
#9) Oregon Ducks (9-2, #10)
Week 12 Result: 44-41 Double Overtime Victory at Arizona
I really thought Oregon’s run at the Pac Ten Championship was over in Tucson. The Wildcats had pushed them to the brink with a tenacious defense and a potent aerial attack but quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was unbeatable in the clutch and led his team to an incredibly entertaining double overtime victory. If Oregon can beat archrival Oregon State in two weeks, they’ll be the Pac Ten Champions.
Week 13: Off Week
#10) Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, #11)
Week 12 Result: 12-0 Victory at Home versus Minnesota
Iowa isn’t pretty: I don’t think anyone can argue with that statement. What also can’t be argued with is their resume, which includes four road victories against bowl-bound teams and ten wins. The Hawkeyes are strong contenders for a BCS bowl and will be a tough foe for whomever they end up playing. My guess is that there aren’t many teams clamoring to face the Hawkeyes and their nasty defense.
Week 13: Regular Season Complete
#11) Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, #13)
Week 12 Result: 42-14 Victory at Michigan State
After twelve games, we know this much about Penn State: They’re very, very good. However, they’ve lost both games that they’ve played against similarly talented teams (Ohio State, Iowa), so I’m going to hold back on calling them great. With a showdown against an SEC opponent in the Capital One Bowl as their most likely destination, the Nittany Lions’ season will be judged on how they perform in their final game against a similarly talented team. A win will color this season as a huge success while a loss will result in 2009 being remembered more for the team’s weak schedule than their ten wins.
One neat aside: Penn State’s victory at Michigan State was their 50 th win in the last five years, giving the Nittany Lions one of the country’s best records during that time period.
Week 13: Regular Season Complete
#12) Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-2, #14)
Week 12 Result: 31-28 Victory at Home versus Colorado
Oklahoma State avoided the trap and managed to eke out a victory against plucky Colorado, who has really turned their season around after a miserable start. What was most impressive about the Cowboys’ victory was that they managed to win despite being forced to play their 3 rd string quarterback due to injuries! The Cowboys will make a compelling case for a BCS bowl if they can defeat rival Oklahoma this week. However, a more important question arises: When was the last time (if ever) that Oklahoma State was favored against the Sooners in Norman?
Week 13: At Oklahoma, 12:30 PM EST
#13) Boise State Broncos (11-0, #17)
Week 12 Result: 55-21 Victory at Utah State
Boise State doesn’t have time to concern themselves with the BCS bowl picture. That’s because they have to play against Nevada this week, who is 7-0 in WAC play and features perhaps the hottest offense in the entire country right now! The Broncos’ resume still doesn’t impress me beyond their victory over Oregon but if they can stop Colin Kaepernick and company (far from a foregone conclusion) and clinch the WAC Championship, I will have to continue moving them up thanks to their unbeaten record.
Week 13: Friday, Home versus Nevada, 10:00 PM EST
#14) Oregon State Beavers (8-3, #16)
Week 12 Result: 42-10 Victory at Washington State
The State of Oregon is now the dominant region in the Pac Ten? What are people going to tell me next, that Michigan isn’t playing in a bowl game? Oh wait…….The Beavers carry perhaps the highest honor that I can award to a team in college football: They are always the most improved team in the country from the beginning to the end of the year. Mike Riley is simply a great coach and the Beavers are to the point where I simply expect a strong 2 nd half performance and a solid record. If Riley can coach the Beavs to the Rose Bowl, they might build him a statue in Corvallis.
Week 13: Off Week
#15) North Carolina Tar Heels (8-3, #22)
Week 12 Result: 31-13 Victory at Home versus #20 Boston College
The Tar Heels are beginning to turn their exceptional promise into solid results on the field. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who knows Butch Davis’ prowess as a recruiter and coach and he only needs a win at rival NC State to put his team in position to win ten games for the first time since Mack Brown was the head man in Chapel Hill.
Week 13: At North Carolina State, Noon EST
#16) California Golden Bears (8-3, #24)
Week 12 Result: 34-28 Victory at Home versus #9 Stanford
Cal emerged victorious in The Big Game thanks to a solid showing from Shane Vereen and timely defense. After the Bears lost Jahvid Best to a scary injury a few weeks ago, I wrote them off completely. However, Jeff Tedford deserves a ton of credit for rallying his troops and knocking off streaking Stanford. This team is extremely talented (as evidenced by my picking them in the preseason to win the conference: Oops!) and it is good to see them finally playing up to their potential.
Week 13:Off Week
#17) Virginia Tech Hokies (8-3, #18)
Week 12 Result: 38-10 Victory at Home versus North Carolina State
The Hokies, in the immortal words of Dennis Green, ‘Are Who We Thought They Were!’ They’re a strong defensive team that will run the ball down your throat. They’re also good for 9-10 wins every year. With a victory against rival Virginia, the Hokies could punch a ticket to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. However, if that happens then they had better hope for a better result than their first two trips to the Peach State this year, because Tech lost both times.
Week 13:At Virginia, 3:30 PM EST
#18) Clemson Tigers (8-3, #19)
Week 12 Result: 34-21 Victory at Home versus Virginia
Clemson could be on track for the school’s best season in two decades. First up is hated rival South Carolina, who the Tigers have beaten in ten of the last twelve renewals! If Dabo Swinney’s team takes care of business, the Tigers could enter the ACC Championship Game playing for their first ACC Title since 1991, their first ten win season since 1990 and their first BCS Bowl since 1982, when they won the Orange Bowl! In the first year A.T.B. (After Tommy Bowden), the Tigers might have a better season than any during his decade in charge.
Week 13: At South Carolina, Noon EST
#19) Miami Hurricanes (8-3, #23)
Week 12 Result: 34-16 Victory at Home versus Duke
Miami’s ACC season finished with a respectable 5-3 conference record and a renewed level of prominence nationally. However, upstart South Florida is still searching for respect and they’ve already beaten Florida State this year and would love to be able to lay claim to the state’s #2 spot in college football. Thus, Miami will have their hands full as they travel to Tampa to take on a program which has used the Hurricanes’ own rise to prominence in the 1980s as a blueprint for their early success. If Randy Shannon really wants his team to be ‘back’, they can’t afford to lose to the Bulls.
Week 13:At South Florida, 3:30 PM EST
#20) Ole Miss Rebels (8-3, Not Ranked)
Week 12 Result: 25-23 Victory at Home versus #15 LSU
Ole Miss fell off of the national radar quickly this year after some early struggles but a victory over LSU has put the Rebels in position to lay the sole claim the conference’s #3 spot in 2009. If they can win the Egg Bowl, the Rebels will likely clinch a berth in the Capital One Bowl, their best postseason destination since the days of Archie Manning.
Week 13: At Mississippi State, 12:21 PM EST
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#21) Southern California Trojans (7-3, #21)
Week 12 Result: Off Week
USC really needed the week off. Their young team was struggling with injuries and reeling from unprecedented losses under Pete Carroll. Simply put, they needed a mental and physical breather and I expect the Trojans to be rejuvenated this week. Archrival UCLA awaits as the (young) Men of Troy attempt to put the pieces back together for a strong postseason destination.
Week 13: Home versus UCLA, 10:00 PM EST
#22) Wisconsin Badgers (8-3, #12)
Week 12 Result: 33-31 Loss at Northwestern
The Badgers somehow managed to screw up their chances at a ten win regular season by losing at upstart Northwestern. While the Wildcats are a legitimately good football team, I have to wonder if the Badgers weren’t still flying high from last week’s blowout win over Michigan.
However, unlike most of the Big Ten, Wisconsin’s season isn’t over just yet: The Badgers travel to Hawai’i in two weeks and will shorten their down time heading into the postseason. Assuming the Badgers take care of business on the islands, they’ll set up a solid test of the ‘Big Ten’s Extra Wait Costs Them Bowl Wins’ theory that has become prevalent in the past few years.
Week 13: Off Week
#23)Louisiana State Tigers (8-3, #15)
Week 12 Result: 25-23 Loss at Ole Miss
LSU should not have lost last weekend. Period. However, as I detailed above, their dimwit coach’s poor clock management probably cost them the game. However, the Tigers’ issues go beyond Les Miles’ low I.Q. because their offense has been about as effective as a bulletproof vest built out of tapioca and their best weapon, tailback Charles Scott, is out for the season. Look, LSU has a ton of talent but they’re simply not a great team and could be in for a tough game against Arkansas this weekend.
Week 13: Home versus Arkansas, 7:00 PM EST
#24) Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-3, NR)
Week 12 Result: 17-3 Victory at Home versus Kansas State
Under Bill Callahan’s doomed tenure in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers qualified for one Big XII Championship Game, which they lost badly before Callahan’s tenure expired in disgrace the next season. However, unlike Callahan’s Braxton-Hicks comeback, Bo Pelini’s second season in charge seems to truly be indicating that the Nebraska of old is beginning to return. The Huskers are winning with a solid running game and an absolutely dominant defensive line and their fans absolutely love the return to their historical strengths. While the Huskers will be big underdogs in the Big XII Championship Game in two weeks, Pelini is absolutely the right man for the job at one of the country’s most tradition-laden schools.
Week 13: Friday, At Colorado, 3:30 PM EST
#25) Stanford Cardinal (7-4, NR)
Week 12 Result: 34-28 Loss at Home versus #24 California
Stanford’s heartbreaking loss to Cal in The Big Game shouldn’t take any of the luster off of what has been a breakout year in Palo Alto under Jim Harbaugh. The Cardinal is a dangerous offensive team that has been stronger on defense than anyone expected. They’ll certainly be big favorites against Notre Dame this weekend and a win would put a cap on their best regular season in a decade.
A final thought: Tailback Toby Gerhart (who ran for 136 yards and 4 touchdowns against Cal and now has over 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground this year) is rocketing up my Heisman list and could truly emerge as a legitimate contender with a strong performance on National TV this week. He’s the real deal, folks, and deserves an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Week 13: Home versus Notre Dame, 8:00 PM EST
By Matt Baxendell
Matt Baxendell is collegesports-fans.com’s football writer. Keep an eye out all fall for his multiple weekly articles discussing everything college football. If you want to get in touch with him, email him at Matt.Baxendell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @MattBaxendell
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