This just isn’t the year for big upsets, and surprises among the top 10. Excluding USC and Oklahoma, you’d be hard pressed to find any games that went totally against the grain. There have been some relative shockers but nothing like we’re used to seeing. Houston beating Oklahoma State in week two was nice at the time, and Iowa over Penn State was cool until we figured out they were total frauds. I could name a few more but it’s week 11 and with six undefeated teams we’re still waiting for upsets to clear everything up. I’m not sure there is anything to blame for this anomaly; sometimes seasons just go this way.
Last year we had six undefeated teams at this very same point in the season, granted, Ball State and Boise State didn’t really have to work hard to be there. Of the six teams that were undefeated at this same juncture last year, only Utah maintained its undefeated record, and they didn’t even get a shot at the BCS title. Well the difference this year is that it looks like we might see as many as four undefeated teams at years end. The 2004 USC, Auburn and Utah three-way 13-0 tie still saw USC raise the trophy while Auburn and Utah sat helpless on the outside looking in. If this season ends anything like that, newly appointed executive director of the BCS, Bill Hancock, will have some serious work to do.
Boise State has to face Utah State, Nevada and New Mexico State at home to close out the season. TCU has MWC lightweights Wyoming and the winless New Mexico Lobos to finish out its year. Cincinnati will have a tougher time going undefeated, with Illinois and, in basically the Big East championship game, #9 Pitt to rap things up. Texas has Big XII wimp Kansas and up-and-down Texas A&M. It’s still a mystery as to how they turned their season around after that 62-14 beat down Kansas State gave them. Alabama and Florida have cupcakes (Tennessee Chattanooga, Florida International) and then finish the season with in-state rivalries (Auburn, Florida State) that should be far less challenging than usual, before meeting in what should be the biggest conference championship game ever played. Both teams should enter undefeated and be 1 and 2 in the BCS standings essentially making it BCS championship game semi-final.
Outside of the Top 2 in the SEC and top 1 in the Big XII nothing looks certain in any of the conferences. Alabama and Florida will meet to decide the SEC, Texas pretty much has already decided the Big XII, and Clemson can seal the deal this weekend and earn a spot in their first ever ACC championship game. Cincinnati and Pitt will meet in two weeks to decide the Big East champion in what should be one of the best games of the year in one of the most underrated conferences in football. The Pac 10 title is still Oregon’s to loose but with a loss to Oregon State in two weeks we are looking at a potential 3-way tie at the top.
Ohio State locked up its place in the Rose Bowl by beating Iowa in one of the best games of the year. This might have been just what the Big Ten needed. Penn State busted big time in their only tough games of the season. Iowa looked like a fraud against Northwestern and Ohio State had been playing poorly all year. The Big Ten’s only surprise is a better-than-expected Wisconsin team. Michigan doesn’t look to go bowling for the second year in a row. This after their NCAA leading streak of 33 straight bowl appearances was snapped last year.
This season hardly resembles last season’s high scoring offensive eruption. Texas, Oklahoma and Florida dominated teams and were at the top all year. Only Oklahoma has fallen off but this year Florida and Texas aren’t defined by their high profile offenses, but by their dominating defenses. Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy have been less than stellar but both seniors are leading their teams towards a perfect record and a national championship. Whatever this season holds in store, you can bet it will be one to remember.