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jones Top Ten - Week Thirteen - 2010

My father claims the three keys to life are laughter, music and ten-dollar Merlot. If you reduce life to a simple philosophy, this one is as good as any. The laughter is universal—lack of a sense of humor has always been its own punishment. The Merlot fills in for whatever your particular culture decides to ferment (potatoes? crafty Russians…). But the music sets us all apart. We all crave a different beat; none of us keep the same time. Some of us hit the notes and others of us like the spaces in between. Our music isn’t always music, of course. For some it’s running, or biking, or golf. Hunting, fly-fishing, hiking, exploring. Parenting, coaching, mentoring, teaching. Cooking, eating…now we’re back to the Merlot. Knitting, sewing, stamp collecting…

College football. Especially when the song has a big finish.

Nevada 34
Boise State 31

Auburn 28
Alabama 27

The two best games of the year were played a few hours apart on the same day with barely anything competing for their attention. Both featured 24-0 leads and remarkable comebacks by sublime quarterbacks at the top of their respective games. The difference? The underdog won one of them, after a remarkable and cruel turn of events that left Boise State on the wrong side of the national championship discussion. The favorite won the other with an enormous defensive effort some thought the Tigers were not capable of producing. Oh, and then there’s that quarterback of theirs. I wonder if he left Tuscaloosa with a "Scam Newton" t-shirt? I also wonder if missionaries will next find them in the underdeveloped world, right next to the tribesmen wearing Colts Super Bowl Champions gear. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, right? I mean this is the SEC for Pete’s sake.

The Auburn Tigers may well have just gone undefeated through the toughest conference division in recent memory. The SEC West is a collective 53-19. Drop Ole Miss off the bottom and the top five are 49-11. Auburn can lock up a Glendale trip with a win over South Carolina in next week’s SEC title game.

The opponent will likely be Oregon, barring an upset by Oregon State next week. The Ducks were behind Arizona 19-14 at the half. To which the informed observer would say: "So?" Oregon 48, Arizona 29.

Oregon’s dominance puts the damper on a Stanford season for the ages. The Cardinal dismantled Oregon State, 38-0, in their most complete performance of the year to go to 11-1.

Likewise, Wisconsin was equally dominant in a 70-23 (what, no 80 points this week?) discombobulation of Northwestern. Wisky, even though they would love to have the Michigan State game back, will win the Big Ten Rose Bowl tiebreaker over two other 11-1 teams: the aforementioned Spartans, who finished a special season of their own with a 28-22 win over Penn State and Ohio State, who completely throttled Michigan, 37-7, with a game plan about as nuanced as a Three’s Company script. Hey, didn’t you used to be Denard Robinson?

"Poor New Mexico! So far from heaven and so close to Texas." Said Manuel Armijo, a territorial governor in the 1850s.

He wasn’t talking about college football, although he might as well have been. TCU 66, New Mexico 17. The Horned Frogs have sewn up a Rose Bowl bid, but will wait (hope) for bigger things. It would be rude of me to note that Oregon beat New Mexico 72-0, if you are scoring at home.

In its heart of hearts, does the Big 12 really aspire to be the WAC, circa 1990? Oklahoma locked up yet another Big 12 South title with an insane 47-41 win over Oklahoma State to create a three-way tie in the division (with Texas A&M) to be decided by BCS rankings, which, naturally, the Sooners win. Why does this sound familiar?

Oklahoma State, for the second straight season, can’t quite close the deal in a season-ending bedlam game with a BCS bowl bid hanging in the balance.

Texas A&M closed the deal against Texas with a 24-17 Thanksgiving night win over the Horns. Cyrus Gray was the difference for the Aggies, as he has been in almost every game down the stretch. For the Longhorns, the misery ends. Does Mack Brown have a third act? I’ve already argued in this space that he does not. We shall see.

Speaking of in-state rivals, Florida State flat destroyed Florida, 31-7. Next for FSU is a trip to the ACC title game against Virginia Tech, who killed UVa by roughly the same score. The Seminoles were assured their slot by Maryland’s upset of North Carolina State, who owned the tiebreaker over FSU.

A great bowl match-up would be the disappointing squads from Florida and Texas. Of course, since Texas is not bowl eligible, that one is unlikely.

A Noble Fir is not particularly allergenic. If you are curious.

Iowa really struggled down the stretch. Losing to Minnesota? Ouch, public embarrassment and the relinquishing of Floyd of Rosedale. Happy Thanksgiving!

South Carolina tuned up for next week’s game with Auburn by clobbering Clemson, 29-7. The only bright spot for Clemson was an amazing 79-yard TD off a bubble screen by freshman receiver Tatum "Hash Browns" Jackson. Write it down; this kid will be one of the nation’s best in 2011, C.J. Spiller redux.

Missouri pummeled Kansas 35-7 and did so knowing that Nebraska had already pummeled Colorado to sew up the Big 12 North. Still a solid 10-2 season for Mizzou, but the Cornhuskers get the pleasure of a return trip to the championship game to face Oklahoma. And everything old is new again.

Arkansas and LSU played a hell of a ball game in Little Rock. Would you expect anything less? Hogs 31, Tigahs 23, keyed by a gutsy TD pass from Ryan Mallett to Joe Adams on a fourth and three in the final quarter.

West Virginia whipped Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl, 35-10. That pretty much eliminates Pitt from BCS contention and leaves us with…let’s see…UConn. Yes, Connecticut controls its own destiny in the Big East. Boise State out, UConn in. A cruel world indeed.

Impressive Showing of the Week: Auburn

1. Oregon

2. Auburn

3. TCU

4. Stanford

5. Wisconsin

6. Boise State

7. Arkansas

8. Oklahoma

9. Ohio State

10. LSU