Dallas Colleges: weekend rewind 110413

Hot and Not in the SEC: Week 10

November, 4, 2013
In some quarters of the SEC, it’s heating up. In others, not so much.

Our weekly look at Hot and Not in the SEC:


The who’s No. 1 debate: Florida State and Oregon both can make legitimate claims that they’re the No. 1 team in the country. Florida State (No. 2 BCS standings) owns lopsided wins over a pair of top 10 teams (Clemson and Miami), and Oregon (No. 3) has been a blur against everybody. The Ducks get their toughest test Thursday against No. 5 Stanford, and if they knock off the Cardinal, you can bet they will leap back into the No. 2 position in the BCS standings. But Alabama remains No. 1 and is a virtual lock until its first loss. If all three teams keep winning, the debate over which one is truly the best team will only heat up. But here’s the thing to keep in mind: If Alabama had to face Florida State or Oregon next week or with a week to prepare, it might be a stretch to pick the Crimson Tide in either one of those games. But with a month to prepare, which is the case leading up to the BCS National Championship Game, have we seen anything in the past that would lead us to believe that coach Nick Saban isn't going to get it done in that scenario?


[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
AP Photo/Eric Christian SmithJohnny Manziel torched UTEP for six total TDs (four passing and two rushing).
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: He might not win his second straight Heisman Trophy, especially with Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston putting up huge numbers and playing on unbeaten teams. But for my money (and, please, no money finger jokes), Manziel is still the most outstanding player in college football. He passed for four touchdowns and ran for two more in Texas A&M’s 57-7 rout of UTEP. His zigzagging 49-yard touchdown run was vintage Johnny Football.


Mississippi State’s ball security: Mississippi State had committed an SEC-low six turnovers entering Saturday’s game at South Carolina, but the bottom fell out in a 34-16 loss to the Gamecocks. The Bulldogs turned it over five times, leading to 20 of the Gamecocks' points. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott was responsible for four of the turnovers, with three interceptions and a fumble. He had thrown just three picks going into the game. Making it even worse for Mississippi State was the fact South Carolina didn’t turn it over at all.


South Carolina at home: The Gamecocks have won 15 straight at home, tying the school record. The previous home loss came against Auburn during the fifth week of the 2011 season.


Tennessee on the road: The Vols have lost 12 in a row on the road after getting blown out 31-3 on Saturday at Missouri. Nine of those 12 losses have been by double digits. In four losses on the road this season, Tennessee has been outscored 114-17 in the first half.


Auburn running back Tre Mason: In all of those conversations about the top running backs in the SEC this season, don’t forget about Mason. He was a battering ram for Auburn last week in its 35-17 win at Arkansas. He carried it a career-high 32 times for 168 yards and scored four touchdowns. Mason is third in the SEC in rushing with 921 yards and has a league-leading 13 touchdowns. Mason is also just 79 yards from his second straight 1,000-yard season (he rushed for 1,038 yards last season).


Arkansas’ bowl chances: The Razorbacks (3-6, 0-5 SEC) have lost six consecutive games, their longest losing streak since 1990, when they dropped seven in a row in what was Jack Crowe’s first season in Fayetteville. Unless they can win all three of their remaining games (at Ole Miss, Mississippi State in Little Rock and at LSU), they’ll miss the postseason for the second straight year.


Florida: Nobody expected the Gators to have four losses at this point, but nobody expected them to be this decimated by injuries. Still, the facts are this: They’re 4-4 and coming off their third straight loss to bitter rival Georgia, still have tough games remaining against ranked foes South Carolina and Florida State, and there is growing restlessness among the fans over the continued struggles on offense. That’s where third-year coach Will Muschamp has to get it fixed if he’s going to be in Gainesville long term, and he knows that as well as anybody.

The Gators are ranked 110th nationally in total offense. They’ve yet to finish higher than 103rd in total offense since Muschamp arrived in 2011. That’s almost unfathomable, when you think about all of the talented skill players the state of Florida produces each year. But the Gators also have to play better on the offensive line and find something they can hang their hat on. They've just never been able to develop any consistency offensively on Muschamp's watch. Despite some of the unrest in Gainesville, don’t look for Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley to pull the plug on Muschamp after just three seasons, especially after Muschamp squeezed out 11 wins a year ago with a killer schedule. But Muschamp almost certainly will have to make some changes on his offensive staff.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 10

November, 4, 2013
Taking stock of Week 10 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: The Cowboys on Saturday showed why they were the preseason pick to win the Big 12. Oklahoma State jumped to a 21-0 lead over Texas Tech, and, for the most part, controlled the game the rest of the way. Despite throwing two interceptions, QB Clint Chelf played his best game since last season, accounting for four touchdowns. Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs also spearheaded another tremendous effort on the ground, as OSU converted all six of its red zone possessions into touchdowns. Defensively, the Cowboys were terrific, too, limiting Tech to just three touchdowns over 17 possessions. This is a team beginning to find its stride -- just in time to make a run at the Big 12 championship.

[+] EnlargeJace Amaro
Michael C. Johnson/USA TODAY SportsJace Amaro, who caught 15 passes for 174 yards in Texas Tech's loss to Oklahoma State, had a crucial fumble caused by Cowboys safety Daytawion Lowe.
Disappointment of the week: The Horned Frogs had an opportunity to take a step toward securing a bowl berth and partially salvaging the season. Instead, TCU blew a 17-3 lead, then self-destructed in overtime in a 30-27 loss to West Virginia. The Frogs turned the ball over three times in five plays, then committed a personal foul in overtime that resulted in having to attempt a 62-yard field goal. To even qualify for a bowl now, TCU will have to run the table, which is less likely than a 62-yard field goal.

Big (offensive) men on campus: Chelf, West Virginia running back Charles Sims and Kansas State running back John Hubert.

Chelf had two terrible interceptions, including a pick-six, in Lubbock. But he was terrific otherwise. Chelf threw for 211 yards and rushed for another 88 while accounting for four touchdowns.

Sims had his best performance yet as a Mountaineer, piling up 154 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries to power the West Virginia comeback in Fort Worth.

Hubert produced his best game of the season, too, rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Big (defensive) men on campus: OSU safety Daytawion Lowe, Texas defensive tackle Chris Whaley and K-State defensive end Ryan Mueller.

In the first quarter, Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro hauled in a 21-yard pass across the middle on third-and-long. But at the end of the play, Lowe upended him, popping the ball loose, which the Cowboys recovered. The next play, the Cowboys converted a flea-flicker. The play after that, they were in the end zone to storm to a 14-0 lead. Lowe also led the Cowboys with a game-high 11 tackles.

With Texas clinging to a 14-6 lead midway through the third quarter, Whaley delivered his second game-changing defensive touchdown of the season. Teammate Cedric Reed hit Kansas QB Jake Heaps from behind, the ball popping to the turf. Whaley scooped it up and thundered 40 yards for the touchdown. “All of the momentum changed in one play," said Kansas coach Charlie Weis, as the Longhorns charged to a 35-13 win.

[+] EnlargeCharles Sims
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsWest Virginia tailback Charles Sims had his best game of the season vs. TCU, rushing for 154 yards and adding two touchdowns.
Mueller had another huge performance with seven tackles and two sacks. His tackle also knocked Iowa State QB Sam B. Richardson out of the game just before halftime.

Special-teams players of the week: Oklahoma State specialist Derek Branson and West Virginia kicker Josh Lambert.

With the Cowboys leading 14-0 in the first quarter, Branson busted through the West Virginia punt protection, blocked the punt and recovered it, setting up the Cowboys with great field position at the Tech 15. Four plays later, Roland was in the end zone.

Lambert was money in the Mountaineers’ rally over TCU. He nailed all three of his field goal attempts, including the game-winning 34-yarder in overtime.

Honorable mention recognition goes to TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom, who converted a 45-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Oberkrom also nearly saved TCU on his 62-yard try in overtime. The kick had the distance, but was wide to the left.

Play of the week: After Tech closed the deficit to 28-24 at halftime, OSU reestablished control in the third quarter. With the Red Raiders selling out on run blitzes off the edge, OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich dialed up the perfect counter, a QB draw. Chelf took off up the middle of the field and raced 67 yards for the touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 42-24 lead. The scamper was the longest TD run by an OSU QB since Brent Blackman’s 72-yarder in 1972.

Stat of the week: With the overtime loss to West Virginia, TCU has lost three games in a row for the first time since Gary Patterson took over as head coach in 2000.

Quote of the week: "I'm pretty sore. I'm pretty beat up. But ... it’s worth it.” -- Oklahoma State's Roland, after carrying the ball 57 times the past two weeks.