Broncos repeat script, see BCS hopes fall
Two straight years, two chances to get into a BCS game.
Two straight years, two major debates about whether the Broncos belong.
Two straight years, and all those conversations and what-if scenarios turn to nothing.
Two straight years, and Boise State does not have a player who can kick straight.
It was Kyle Brotzman who missed short field goals that would have beaten Nevada last year. It was Dan Goodale who missed a field goal that would have beaten TCU on Saturday.
Incredibly, these past two seasons for Boise State have not come down to Kellen Moore. They have come down to the legs of walk-on kickers.
To be sure, not all the blame lies at their feet. Boise State had an opportunity to secure the win over the Horned Frogs but fumbled the ball away with a little more than two minutes left. TCU took advantage, marching down the field to pull within one on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Casey Pachall to Brandon Carter.
TCU coach Gary Patterson made the gutsy call to go for two. Pachall found the always-reliable Josh Boyce for the conversion.
Moore got his final opportunity with a minute left and did his best to drive the Broncos down the field. He did not have his starting center nor his top two rushers. Boise State was without its top three cornerbacks, too, a big reason the Broncos were in this predicament to start.
But Moore got them within range. Goodale missed a 39-yard field goal, and just like that, streaks snapped like twigs: 65 regular-season home wins, 47 conference home wins, 35 home wins overall. Gone into the blue.
Now Boise State faces the depressing prospect of being out of the BCS hunt. Again. Undefeated Houston has a few tough tests remaining, but the Cougars are the favorite to make it into a BCS bowl game.
Incredibly, Moore has lost three games in his career, and all of them came down to a field goal. Two of them cost him a shot at a BCS game. Football teams might be built around quarterbacks, but they need everybody to do their jobs to win.
Ducks remain in BCS title discussion (sort of)
Oregon is still a long shot to get into the BCS National Championship Game, but its 53-30 win over Stanford at least puts it back into the discussion.
And as we all know with BCS discussions before the final click of the season, the conclusion is always, "But you never know."
At the very least, we can say this: Oregon seems to be peaking and is well positioned to be the top seed out of the Pac-12. That means the Rose Bowl. Or the national title game.
The Ducks, first of all, will need to end their celebration quickly. USC will visit Eugene on Saturday playing like a top-10 team. It stomped Washington 40-17 over the weekend, and its only loss in the past six games was the triple-overtime defeat to Stanford.
But if Oregon manages to beat USC and then Oregon State, it will win the North Division -- it actually can split those two and still win the North, but no matter. Then it would play a patsy from the South Division, which is an embarrassment and likely to produce a "champion" with at least four losses that will be looking up at the ineligible Trojans in the standings. Not what commissioner Larry Scott wanted.
Then, at 12-1 after delivering butt-kicking in the Dec. 2 Pac-12 title game, Oregon would wait. And hope.
Above all else that comes before it, the Ducks need unbeaten Oklahoma State to lose. The Cowboys will visit Iowa State on Friday, then host Oklahoma on Dec. 3. If the Cowboys go down, that would open up the debate: Which is the best one-loss team?
The top contenders would be Oklahoma, Alabama and Oregon. Maybe.
To read the rest of Ted Miller's story, click here.
Injuries take toll on national landscape
Boise State is hurting today in so many ways.
Not only did the No. 5 Broncos watch their BCS-busting dreams sail wide right as time expired in a 36-35 loss to TCU on Saturday night, but they also came painfully close to perfection despite missing their top three corners and top running back for much of the game because of injuries.
November is survival of the fittest in college football in the most literal sense, as injuries can wreak havoc on teams in contention for conference and national titles. Boise State backup running back Drew Wright, who fumbled to give TCU the ball back for the game-winning drive with 2:26 remaining, was a walk-on. Starter Doug Martin was out for most of the game with a leg injury, and his backup, D.J. Harper, hurt his ankle during the game. With Boise State's loss, TCU now has the inside track for the league championship in its final season in the Mountain West, and the Broncos are no longer in the national title picture.
Boise State is hardly alone. Clemson had to find a way to beat Wake Forest 31-28 on Saturday without the ACC's top receiver, Sammy Watkins, who sprained an AC joint in his shoulder during a kickoff return in the third quarter. The Tigers also lost their only game of the season at Georgia Tech on Oct. 29 while leading rusher Andre Ellington was sidelined with an ankle injury.
No. 6 Oklahoma won its game against Texas A&M a week ago but lost All-American receiver Ryan Broyles in the process. Broyles, the NCAA's career leader in receptions, tore the ACL in his left knee in the game and will miss the rest of the season. He left the field in tears.
No. 16 Texas can relate. For an offense that relies on running the ball, it certainly didn't help to have the three leading rushers sidelined in Saturday's 17-5 loss to Missouri. Fozzy Whittaker, the team's emotional leader, left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury. Jaxon Shipley, the team's leading receiver, has been out two weeks with a knee injury. Malcolm Brown, the team's leading rusher, missed his second straight game with turf toe. And Joe Bergeron, who had back-to-back 100 yard games, was out with a hamstring injury. Missouri won but lost the Big 12's leading rusher, Henry Josey, in the third quarter with a knee injury.
South Carolina? Losing Marcus Lattimore this season is its equivalent to Stanford losing Andrew Luck. Lattimore's season ended last month when he injured his knee against Mississippi State. Lattimore was second only to Trent Richardson in rushing in the SEC. In the 44-28 loss to Arkansas on Nov. 5, Lattimore's backup, freshman Brandon Wilds, had 21 yards on 10 carries.
The list goes on for the nation's top teams. Oregon's LaMichael James suffered a gruesome elbow injury in the fourth quarter of the Ducks' 43-15 win over Cal on Oct. 6. How important is James? Just ask Stanford, which watched James run for 146 yards and three touchdowns in a 53-30 win over the Cardinal on Saturday.
James is back, and so is Oregon in the BCS national title picture. But consider Boise State's national championship hopes sidelined for the season.
Cowboys make defensive stand
LUBBOCK, Texas -- What more could Oklahoma State's defense possibly do?
At game's end, Mike Gundy had every right to rip his shirt off, grab a microphone and scream, "Are you not entertained?"
Texas Tech hadn't been shut out since 1987. Its defense had never given up more than 65 points. Oklahoma State, thanks to a second-half gift fumble returned for a touchdown, beat Texas Tech, 66-6.
Despite any devilish pleasure Gundy took in the gladiatorlike win, he declined any postgame theatrics.
"It got started with our defense -- a three-and-out," he said. "They played with a lot of energy and ran to the football. Even when [Texas Tech] did make a play, we tackled, and we were very physical when we tackled."
Cowboys defensive coordinator Bill Young told his unit after the game what happened on Saturday might never happen again. Maybe so, but Oklahoma State did something that had never happened before, too. The Cowboys are 10-0 for the first time in school history and need wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma to play for the national title.
Oklahoma State looked immune to the swirling winds, and Brandon Weeden stated his Heisman case with 423 yards and five touchdowns on 31-of-37 passing.
"When he spins it, it cuts through there pretty good," said Gundy, whose career-yardage mark Weeden surpassed on Saturday. Weeden also took home the school record for career touchdown passes. "Honestly, [the wind] didn't concern me one bit."
Gundy added that wind hasn't come up once this year. Such is life with Weeden taking every snap.
Saturday, though, was about defense. Gone were the gratuitous garbage gains of past games. So were the touchdowns providing misleading final scores.
To read the rest of David Ubben's story, click here.
Dawgs closing in on SEC East title
ATHENS, Ga. -- Despite the enormously inviting rendition of "Sweet Caroline" played by Georgia's band in the third quarter, the Bulldogs were far from courteous hosts to Auburn.
Georgia scored on its first drive and never looked back, smacking Auburn around on its way to a 45-7 victory on "must-win Saturday."
Aaron Murray lit up Auburn's secondary for 224 yards and four touchdowns, the Bulldogs pounded out 304 rushing yards -- getting two 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time since 2009 against Georgia Tech -- and Georgia's defense left the Tigers battered and bruised. The Bulldogs had a handful of bone-rattling hits and had Auburn's running game stuck in reverse.
Georgia's commanding win showed how good it can be and should have been all season. Georgia could have frozen after seeing South Carolina's 17-12 win over Florida, but the Bulldogs popped Auburn right in the mouth.
Georgia converted 12 of 15 third-down attempts on offense and had the ball 20 minutes more than Auburn.
This was as dominating a performance as we've seen from the Bulldogs against an SEC opponent since their 27-13 win over Ole Miss back in September.
Although it's yet to be seen whether Georgia or South Carolina could actually hold up against LSU or Alabama, the Bulldogs have improved each week since losing to the Gamecocks and look like the best the East has to offer.
It might not mean much to most, but it means everything to the Bulldogs, who are now a win from playing for the SEC championship in Atlanta.
To read the rest of Edward Aschoff's story, click here.
Three weekend observations
1. Since upsetting No. 3 Oklahoma, 41-38, three weeks ago, Texas Tech has lost three games by a combined margin of 159-33. It's hard to perform a U-turn when you've gone over a cliff, but as the BCS Championship Game slots edge closer and closer to becoming a beauty pageant, the Sooners sure could use some help from the Red Raiders. It's conceivable that Texas Tech could finish with losses to Missouri and Baylor, and finish 5-7. That means Oklahoma's only loss came to a 5-7 team that won't go to a bowl.
2. To curb pregame fights and unseemly woofing, the NCAA Football Rules Committee some years ago established rules to keep teams apart. Nebraska and Penn State's pregame prayer and show of solidarity with child sex abuse victims Saturday illustrated that players can play hard and still be gentlemen. Kudos to Huskers assistant Ron Brown and Nittany Lions assistant Larry Johnson for orchestrating such a moving tribute. "Imagine 106,000 fans coming to a dead silence in respect and awe," Brown said afterward.
3. Oregon's 53-30 rout of Stanford re-established the Ducks as kings of the Pac-12 and relegated the Cardinal to the BCS at-large pool. Not only is Oregon peaking at the right time, but veteran defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti accomplished what few opposing coaches have been able to do -- make Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck look human. The Cardinal had plenty of other problems Saturday -- dropped balls, turnovers, etc. -- but the Ducks' array of looks never let Luck get comfortable.
GameDay crew final thoughts
For most of the past half-century, Penn State has represented -- in most people's eyes -- the best of intercollegiate athletics. Now, because of the scandal -- the football program and the university -- unfortunately the past week has represented what's worst of the human condition. But what we have to remember is that the current players and fans didn't have anything to do with any of those alleged atrocities. I thought the spirit they showed, the way they competed and the way they supported their team was exemplary and took the first step in Penn State restoring its long tradition of having success with honor.
The second thing that I really think we ought to pay tribute to is this: I've been on record many times as saying that while I respect Boise State and think it has a wonderful program, I don't think the Broncos' overall schedule warrants them playing for the national championship. That said, when you have won as many home games in a row as they had before Saturday's loss (35), I don't care who you play, that is a remarkable achievement and remarkable dominance. Now, while they're not going to be in a BCS game this year after that loss, I think we ought to take a minute and recognize what they did and how difficult it is to have such a long stretch of dominance. Kellen Moore has been a joy to watch and still will be for his final few games regardless of what happened Saturday.
We're only a non-incomprehensible upset or two from having complete chaos in the BCS. If Arkansas knocks off LSU and Oklahoma knocks off Oklahoma State, what are we going to do? For the people who like chaos, right now it's very orderly. If LSU and Oklahoma State both win out, it's nice and clean. But if they don't, the chaos is here. It'll be really interesting to see how well the Tigers and the Cowboys both handle the pressure over the next few weeks because both have games against teams that are capable of upsetting them."
Helmet stickers go to:
• DT Kawann Short, Purdue
6 tackles, 3.0 sacks in win versus Ohio State
•RB Rodney Stewart, Colorado
181 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs, one passing TD in win versus Arizona
The Penn State situation made you remember that this is just a game in the big realm of things. Yes. it's important for what you're doing and at the time. But in the end, it's a ballgame. It's entertainment. And do you know what else I figured out after all these years? Each week, 50 percent of the teams lose.
Helmet stickers go to:
•RB LaMichael James, Oregon
146 rushing yards, three TDs in win at Stanford
• QB B.J. Daniels, South Florida
254 passing yards, 117 rushing yards, one rushing TD in win at Syracuse
Obviously with the tragedies this week at Penn State, just speaking strictly on the field, it was an admirable performance by the football team. The way the Nittany Lions focused in the second half after being down 17 points, to come back and make it a close football game, they showed class and integrity on the field. Remember, the players weren't involved in the situation at all.
TCU beating Boise on the blue turf. It was the first time Boise lost on the blue turf in like, what, 5,000 games? I was very impressed with the Horned Frogs' passing game. Coming into the game, they had three rushers who have rushed for 500 yards each on the season, but Casey Pachall passed for 473 yards and five touchdowns.
The other thought was Oregon. I was not surprised with the way it won because Stanford was banged up at wide receiver and tight end. It was a total team effort. The Ducks' defense really impressed me after getting five turnovers and constantly pressuring Andrew Luck.
Helmet stickers go to:
• QB Casey Pachall, TCU
Career-high 473 passing yards, five TDs in win at Boise State
• QB Collin Klein, Kansas State
281 passing yards, one passing TD, 103 rushing yards, five rushing TDs in win versus Texas A&M
Highlights: K-State-Texas A&M
Blog Network: What we learned
FSU and Miami are right where they're supposed to be this year -- unranked. Saturday night's game wasn't an instant classic.
If Oklahoma State doesn't scare you, it should. Seriously, who walks into Lubbock and leaves with a 60-point victory?
The Bulls we thought we were going to see this season finally showed up in the Big East play during a win over Syracuse.
Michigan's defense is carrying it. Who would have thought this would be possible after watching the past three seasons?
USC is surging and dangerous. The Trojans are perfectly capable of striking a blow and upsetting the Ducks.
Georgia is playing its best football now, and Aaron Murray is showing why he entered the SEC season as its premier QB.
Junior Robby Toma is making a difference when given the chance to play. It will be tough to keep him off the field.
Highlights: Penn State-Nebraska
Blog Network: Helmet stickers
Every week our bloggers will hand out helmet stickers to the week's top players, coaches, teams or anything else worth this honor.
• ACC: Logan Thomas; Luke Kuechly; Chandler Catanzaro
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• Big 12: Collin Klein; Brandon Weeden; Robert Griffin III
More Big 12 stickers
• Big East: Tavon Austin; B.J. Daniels; Mohamed Sanu
More Big East stickers
• Big Ten: Jeremy Ebert; Le'Veon Bell; Russell Wilson
More Big Ten stickers
Rodney Stewart; John White; Curtis McNeal
More Pac-12 stickers
• SEC: Kyle Fischer; Steve Spurrier; Aaron Murray
More SEC stickers
• Notre Dame: Jonas Gray; Cierre Wood; Michael Floyd
More Notre Dame stickers