The Auburn Tigers did exactly what they needed to do on Friday, winning at defending national champion and arch rival Alabama to solidify their position in the BCS standings. However, the manner in which the Tigers won wasn’t exactly the way Gene Chizik drew it up.
The Crimson Tide overwhelmed Auburn in the first half, jumping ahead 21-0 in the first quarter and leading 24-7 at the half.
That’s when the legend of Cam Newton grew again. Alabama did an outstanding job controlling Newton on the ground, so he went to the air. For the game, Newton connected on 13-of-20 passes for 216 yards and three big touchdowns. All of that, plus a rushing touchdown, were enough to bring the Tigers back in the second half and to win, 28-27.
Many experts doubted Auburn’s ability to visit Tuscaloosa and come out with a victory over Nick Saban’s team. However, the Tigers are now one win away from the BCS National Championship Game. Standing in the way are Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks, who the Tigers will meet on Saturday in Atlanta.
Wisconsin – Offensively, is there a hotter team in the country right now? The Badgers have scored 70 points or more three times this season, including two of the last three weeks. Bret Bielema’s team is likely headed to the Rose Bowl, as the highest ranked Big Ten team in the BCS standings (we’ll know for sure next week, when the final BCS standings are released). An interesting bowl matchup would be Wisconsin’s potent offense against TCU’s stout defense.
Oklahoma – This year, the Sooners were expected to compete for not only the Big 12 title, but a national championship. But losing two-of-three in the middle of the season saw those hopes go by the wayside. However, Oklahoma rebounded to win its final three games and, by virtue of its BCS standing, the Sooners will represent the Big 12 South in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday. And, how appropriate, they will face Nebraska (neither Mike Rozier nor Brian Bosworth will be involved).
Arkansas – The Razorbacks have the second-longest winning streak in the SEC after Saturday’s 31-23 win over LSU in Little Rock. Bobby Petrino’s team has put itself in position for a BCS berth now, providing Auburn wins the SEC Championship game on Saturday. If that happens, expect Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks to be playing in the Sugar Bowl.
Notre Dame – Brian Kelly is an outstanding coach and, by most accounts, a good man. This season hasn’t gone the way he had hoped, with problems on and off the field. But on Saturday in Los Angeles, Kelly and his Irish made a big statement. Notre Dame went to USC and won, 20-16, beating the Trojans for the first time in eight years. With the win, Kelly is guaranteed a winning season, and a better bowl. Plus, he is 1-0 against Lane Kiffin, which has to feel good.
Tennessee – The Volunteers have not had a typical Tennessee season in 2010, but after opening 2-6, Derek Dooley’s troops rallied to win their last four and, after beating Kentucky on Saturday, the Vols are now bowl eligible. Tennessee won its 26th straight game against Kentucky on Saturday, the longest active streak of any FBS opponent against another.
Boise State – What a tough loss for the Broncos. Kicker Kyle Brotzman missed not one but two field goals late in the game and in overtime, allowing Nevada to win, 34-31 in overtime, ending Boise’s 24-game winning streak and taking them out of contention for the BCS. Brotzman can’t bear all of the blame. Boise’s offense disappeared in the second half, and the defense allowed 27 points to the Wolf Pack in the second half and overtime.
Miami (Fla.) – Just two weeks ago, Miami was 7-3, facing a pair of winnable games that could allow them to close at 9-3. But things didn’t work out, as the Hurricanes lost to Virginia Tech (31-17) and South Florida (23-20), and suddenly, Miami was not only 7-5, but they were changing coaches. Randy Shannon was fired on Sunday, and the “U” will begin a national search for a coach immediately. Quite a change from only two weeks ago.
Florida – The Gators were thoroughly handled by Florida State on Saturday, losing 31-7 in Tallahassee. The loss dropped Florida to 7-5 on the season, marking the Gators’ first five-loss season since 2004. If the Gators lose their bowl game, it will be the first six-loss season since 1987. The disturbing thing is that Urban Meyer’s team appears to be confused about what’s actually happening on the field. The Gators are using three quarterbacks, and the offense has had no rhythm for the last three weeks (48 points against Appalachian State doesn’t count).
Texas – The last team to play in the national championship game one year, then miss bowls altogether the next? Yep, it’s the 2010 Longhorns. Texas had a tremendous drop-off in the middle of the season. If you don’t remember, this team was 3-0 and 4-2 earlier this season. At 4-2, with games remaining against Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State and Florida Atlantic, you would figure the Longhorns could find the two wins to become bowl eligible. But they didn’t. They only beat FAU, and at 5-7, Mack Brown’s team will be home for the holidays.
Iowa – What in the world happened to the Hawkeyes on Saturday? This was supposed to be the fourth-best team in the Big Ten. And they faced the 10th-best (next-to-last) team in Minnesota. And the Golden Gophers were able to pull the stunner, winning 27-24 in Minneapolis. But this game wasn’t that close. Minnesota outgained Iowa 382 to 218, outrushing them 216 to 91. Not a strong ending for Kirk Ferentz’s team.
Statistical Studs - Week 13
Jordan La Secla, San Jose State – The Spartan quarterback hit on 35-of-65 passes for 496 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-38 loss to Louisiana Tech.
Alex Green, Hawaii – Green carried 19 times for 327 yards and three touchdowns as the Warriors crushed New Mexico State, 59-24.
Torrey Smith, Maryland – Smith caught 14 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns as the Terps upset No. 21 N.C. State, 38-31.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma – The Sooners’ signal called certainly threw it all over the field on Saturday night. Jones completed 37-of-62 through the air for 468 yards and four TDs in Oklahoma’s 47-41 win at Oklahoma State.
Lance Dunbar, North Texas – In a losing effort, Dunbar rushed 22 times for 270 yards and three touchdowns as the Big Green fell to Kansas State, 49-41.
Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 14
No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 18 South Carolina (SEC Championship)
No. 1 Oregon at Oregon State
No. 20 Florida State vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (ACC Championship)
No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Nebraska (Big 12 Championship)
No. 14 Nevada at Louisiana Tech