Swing Snaps: Just Montee being Montee
Snap Judgments from the Week 13 swing shift. For early shift Snaps, click here. For late Snaps, click here. For Andy Staples’ recap of LSU’s win over Arkansas, click here. For Staples' take on Alabama's rout of Auburn, click here. For a recap of all the Top 25 action, click here. For highlights from SI.com, click here.
• No. 15 Wisconsin 45, Penn State 7: Who's ready for a less-hyped but still-intriguing postseason rematch? The Badgers will re-engage Michigan State in Indianapolis next Saturday in an undeniably compelling first-ever Big Ten Championship Game. Despite two conference losses, there's no doubt Wisconsin is the class of the [checks notes] Leaders Division; after a soundly defeated Penn State, the next-closest team to Wisconsin's record is actually Purdue, which went 4-4 in B1G play.
We who presume to project the paths of seasons make more than our share of missteps, no less than we deserve from the football gods for our temerity. LSU was called a sure bust by multiple SI.com staffers in our preseason predictions (with me in the mix, sure the Tigers would lose two games somehow by virtue of Being LSU). A healthy majority of our own pundits predicted Denard Robinson would have a disappointing season. But if you've got a postseason hardware ballot to fill out, it would behoove you to check out my midseason MVP, Montee Ball. Is his second four-touchdown game of the season enough to draw your eye? With the first coming not against UNLV or South Dakota, but Nebraska? He's within reach of Barry Sanders' single-season touchdown record (Ball sits at 34; Sanders had 39) and has lingered out of notice for too long as it is. If you're not going to give the trophy to Brad Wing, give wee Ball a ponder.
With that addressed, let's not bash Russell Wilson by omission. His 186 yards passing and 36 rushing constitute one of his lowest outputs of the season, but his first touchdown pass erased PSU's only lead of the game and his second put things comfortably out of reach to end the first half. And what short work the Badgers' stout defense made of Penn State's feeble offensive efforts. The Nittany Lions gained 233 net yards of offense and committed four turnovers. [RECAP | BOX]
• No 9 Oregon 49, Oregon State 21: Look for more early next week on my first trip to the Civil War, but for now, the facts are these: The Ducks have clinched the Pac-12 North, and will host the inaugural conference championship game. Their opponent will be UCLA. (Stop laughing. You'll rupture something.) LaMichael James became Oregon's career leading scorer less than three minutes into today's game, with a one-yard touchdown run. It was his first and only score of the day; James left the game in the third quarter after suffering what appeared to be a left elbow injury (not the same one he dislocated earlier this season). He could be seen on the sidelines icing his arm, but did not return to action.
Even with only two quarters and change to his credit today, James finished with 142 yards and that score. Darron Thomas put on his flashiest airshow of the season, finishing with 305 aerial yards on 27 completions and recording four touchdown passes. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• No. 2 Alabama 42, Auburn 14: No surprises in this year's Arn Bowl. Andy Staples was in Auburn today and has more analysis on SI.com proper. In addition, enjoy this little tale of Trooper Taylor's engaging ways, marvel at Phil Lutzenkirchen's adamantium tendons and just watch this. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• No. 6 Virginia Tech 38, No. 24 Virginia 0: Welp. Thanks for nothing, Joe Tessitore's Inexplicable Upset Juice. (If that's not already a cocktail, it's about to be.) It'll be a Hokies-Clemson rematch in Charlotte, for all of the oranges. Chief architects of tonight's walloping: Logan Thomas' infrequent but effective passing, David Wilson's 153 ground yards, and that sit-and-spin Bud Foster defense that held the Cavaliers to just 241 yards of offense. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 7 Boise State 36, Wyoming 14: Sleep on the Cowboys? It's been done this season, but not by these Broncos. Wyoming scored first ... but Boise scored second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh to erase a 7-0 deficit and grow that into a 36-7 lead by the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Bronco stalwarts Kellen Moore and Doug Martin combined for five touchdowns, and Moore even got himself another record. [RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS]
• Arizona 45, Louisiana 37: Saints preserve us; Arizona almost wrapped a coach-killing season with a loss to a Sun Belt team. A very fine Sun Belt team, to be sure, that arrived with a bowl bid in hand and the coach it began the year with, but something tells me that wouldn't have comforted the denizens of Tucson talk radio. A Nick Foles pick-six by Jemarlous Moten kicked off a 21-point scoring flurry for the Ragin' Cajuns, who will next be seen in in the New Orleans Bowl. [RECAP | BOX]
• Missouri 24, Kansas 10: Certainly a memorable end (if it is, in fact, the end) to the Border War rivalry, but maybe not in the best sense of that word. Kansas couldn't overcome a Mizzou team that committed five turnovers. Mizzou committed five turnovers against a two-win squad. The world spins madly on. [RECAP | BOX]
• Utah State 21, Nevada 17: Saints preserve us; the Aggies held on for one. With today's win over New Mexico State and every other team holding at least two conference losses, the WAC title officially belongs to Louisiana Tech. Baby Air Raid, arise! [RECAP | BOX]
• Florida Atlantic 38, UAB 35: Yup, that's 0-10 Florida Atlantic getting retiring Howard Schnellenberger his first win of 2011. Against, yes, the same UAB team that got past a ranked Southern Miss squad just last week. Blazers. You confound me. [RECAP | BOX]• Southern Miss 44, Memphis 7: In yet another alarming twist to this year's conference race square-dance, there was a chance Marshall could've been sent to the C-USA championship game to rematch with a Houston team that beat it 63-28. The Golden Eagles' romp over miserable Memphis has thankfully put this horror out of reach. Larry Fedora and Kevin Sumlin will square off next Saturday in the unofficial but highly scientific Race To A Bigger Job Offer Bowl. [RECAP | BOX]