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jones Top Ten - Week Fourteen - 2009

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The LSU fans prepare the food in heaven. The Texas fans host the parties. The Nebraska fans handle logistics; the Alabama fans make the travel arrangements and the Florida fans bring the liquor. I am certain of these things. I am fairly, but not entirely, confident that the Virginia fans determine the dress code, the Georgia Tech fans fix anything that gets broken, the Stanford fans write your kid a letter of recommendation and the Texas A&M fans look after the family pets.

In hell, the LSU fans are responsible for logistics and everything pretty much deteriorates from there.

That’s what I know about heaven and hell. What I know about Bizarro World, I learned on Saturday.

Texas scored 13.

And it was enough.

Nebraska 12

The SEC Championship was (allegedly) played at 4:00 pm in Atlanta. Here’s a quick re-cap:

In a classic hard-hitting SEC brawl where two great defenses were a step ahead of the offenses all day. Alabama finally punched their ticket to the BCS title game on a 46-yard Leigh Tiffin field goal as time expired.

Later that evening:

The Texas Longhorns slowly but surely figured out a great Nebraska defense, eventually cruising to a 32-13 victory in the Big 12 Championship Game.

The culture of abundant sports talk helpfully provided the above storylines throughout the week. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Alabama, on offense, mind you, made the Florida defense look a step slow all day, mixing run and pass equally well to pull away from the top-ranked Gators, 32-13. In retrospect, last week’s Auburn comeback truly looks like Greg McElroy’s coming out party. It also appears to be an anomaly in the case of Mark Ingram, who was his sublime self against the Gators with 106 yards on the ground and another 73 receiving. Alabama proved the better team all day. Tebow wept. I can’t speak for Jesus.

Texas, wound up tighter than Dick’s hatband, got punched in the mouth repeatedly by Nebraska’s front four on their way to a 13-12 escape that would have made Jack Bauer proud. Texas fans bitch a fair amount, but one thing that they are typically sure of is that, in the clutch, the Horns manage the end game exquisitely (insert Les Miles joke here). On Saturday night, Colt McCoy nearly threw that reputation away—"nearly" because the kid has an uncanny knack for not losing football games. After further review of an atrocious last play by Texas that had Nebraska players ready to storm the field, one second was (correctly) returned to the clock. Hunter Lawrence hit the game-winner for the Horns from 46. It would not have been good from 47.

Here are Nebraska’s stats: four field goals, five first downs, 106 yards of total offense…and NINE sacks, half of them by the incomparable Ndamukong Suh, who had 12 total tackles, seven of them behind the line of scrimmage. The Huskers also made huge plays in the punting game. Texas literally made one more play than Nebraska. One was enough.

Colt McCoy may well win the 2008 Heisman Trophy in 2009. Although if Ndamukong Suh is not the outstanding player in college football this season, then I am not sure who is. Some will argue Texas will punch its past due 2008 national title game ticket in 2009 at the expense of others. None of it matters. Alabama v. Texas for all the marbles. My immediate thought is that Texas appears susceptible to a team with a dominating interior lineman. Hmmmm, good thing Alabama doesn’t have anybody like that…

The battle for the final two spots unfairly shoved some outstanding football to the back pages this weekend.

On Thursday, Oregon and Oregon State staged their best Civil War with the Rose Bowl on the line for both teams. Duck QB Jeremiah Masoli, who survived some early struggles to emerge as arguably the best all-around quarterback in college football, was nails down the stretch. The Oregon defense kept State out of the end zone for the last 25 minutes of the game, allowing the Ducks to come back from 30-21 down to win it, 37-33. Then the fans rushed the field (you can still do that at Autzen), creating a great circus scene that included a giant duck and Santa Claus passed around the top of the throng.

The best game of the weekend may have been the Big East finale. Cincinnati, led by uber-receiver Mardy Gliyard, came back from 21 down to knock off Pitt and remain undefeated. Cincy was down 31-10 when Gilyard supercharged the comeback with a 99-yard kickoff return. Then you had a fight on your hands. The eventual 45-44 difference came down to a botched Pitt extra point. Ouch.

Almost as entertaining, the ACC championship game featured four lead changes, big plays galore and 233 rushing yards with four touchdowns from Clemson’s C.J. Spiller. His individual heroics were not enough in the face of Georgia Tech’s offense, led by the underappreciated QB, Josh Nesbitt. Georgia Tech 39, Clemson 34.

Arizona shocked USC, 21-17, for their first victory over the Trojans since 2000. OK, "shocked" is the wrong word, even though the game was in L.A. How about "mildly surprised a lackluster and inconsistent USC squad that was ripe for an upset?" Not as poetic is it? Both teams finish 8-4.

East Carolina mildly upset Houston in the Conference USA title game, 38-32. Much like Houston’s game with Central Florida, this may have been a "wrong team favored" problem.

Boise State has not lost a regular season game since Jay Leno was last a relevant cultural figure. They thwack New Mexico State, 42-7.

West Virginia rang up their ninth win by beating Rutgers, 24-21. Central Michigan won the MAC title in a 20-10 decision over Ohio. In the "huh?" category, Washington completely worked Cal, 42-10. Of course, both teams are capable of that outcome, you just can’t predict its occurrence.

Impressive Showing of the Week: Alabama, by a mile

1. Alabama

2. Texas

3. TCU

4. Florida

5. Cincinnati

NOTE: I like TCU against Florida and almost like them against Texas. I don’t like Cincy against Florida because I think the Gators would destroy the Bearcat defense and Joe Haden would give Mardy Gilyard all kinds of problems. The entire weekend makes me wonder how much the Carlos Dunlap idiocy might have impacted the Gators. We will never know.

6. Oregon

7. Boise State

8. Georgia Tech

9. Ohio State

10. Ndamukong Suh’s vibrant manhood