Ohio St., W. Virginia rejoin title conversation

Monday November 19th, 2007


Chris Wells; Pat White
Al Tielemans/SI; Andy Lyons/Getty Images 
Guess Who's Back In The Mix?
From the rubble of yet another weekend that threw a wrench into the BCS title machine, it's time to reset the chances of Ohio State and West Virginia. The Mountaineers (third in the BCS) may be the most obvious beneficiary of Oklahoma and Oregon's upsets, but the Buckeyes, now No. 5, could wind up benefiting the most. If QB Sam Bradford returns, the Sooners could still win the Big 12 title (whether they play Kansas or Missouri), which would take the Big 12 out of the equation. That would leave West Virginia and OSU as next in line to face No. 1 LSU -- that is, if the Tigers survive. It the scenario plays out, WVU, which hasn't gained any style points in victories over Louisville and Cincinnati (winning by seven and five points, respectively) will likely have to pick it up against UConn and Pitt to impress voters. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, can sit back and wait after leaving voters with their manhandling of Michigan.
Tigers Haven't Changed Their Stripes
Just when it looked like Clemson had turned the corner. Just when it looked like a team that's been allergic to prosperity had found a remedy, we were greeted by an all-too-familiar storyline for the Tigers. But this one was especially sour. First there was the breakdown in coverage as BC's Matt Ryan drew safety Chris Clemson, leaving Rich Gunnell wide-open for the go-ahead score. Then there was Aaron Kelly, who saw a sure game-winning TD pass bounce off his hands on the ensuing drive. Clemson teased us in bouncing back from dismal performances against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, but in the end, it's just another twist in an inevitable plotline that sees Clemson again denied its first shot at an ACC title since 1991.
A Matter Of Time
Chris Ault's time at Nevada has been full of moments that catapulted him into the Hall of Fame. But Friday night was not one of them. There were 59 seconds remaining when Hawaii drove the Warriors to the Wolf Pack 27 to set up the game-winning field goal. But instead of calling one of two remaining timeouts to give his team the most amount of time possible to try and mount a comeback, Ault let the clock run down to 15 seconds to ice Warriors kicker Dan Kelly and by the time Nevada got the ball back there were just 11 seconds left. It was inexcusable time management for any coach, let alone a guy who's won 190 games.
Weathering the Hurricanes
It's been a season to forget for the Hurricanes, who dropped to 5-6 with a loss to Virginia Tech. At times Miami had the look of a team that had quit -- something no coach wants to see -- but don't give up on coach Randy Shannon. It takes time to change the culture of a program, and considering the issues that surrounded the 'Canes last year (FIU anyone?), we shouldn't expect an immediate turnaround. Shannon dealing with issues in talent and consistency: the '04 and '05 recruiting classes have a combined four members listed as starters and the team is on its third offensive coordinator in three seasons. He's the right man for Miami. But what he needs is his own talent -- the Canes' recuriting class is ranked fifth by Rivals.com -- and time.
Kansas Jayhawks
No. 2 now belongs to Kansas, which is 11-0 for the first time, after a 45-7 drubbing of Iowa State. Now comes the hard part: keeping that spot. Of all the teams to hold No. 2 in the AP Poll this season, KU faces the highest-ranked team in its first week, as it takes on No. 3 Missouri.
Oregon Ducks
Oregon saw not only its No. 2 ranking and BCS title game hopes take a hit, but now it's lost QB Dennis Dixon for the season. We saw how much he means to this offense when he sat out against Arizona State. But when he went out at Arizona it sucked the life out of this team.
BYU Cougars
The streaking Cougars put a lick on Wyoming's 14th-ranked defense, which came in was allowing 309.1 ypg. BYU racked up 497 total yards as it won for the seventh straight time and pushed its MWC winning streak to 14 games in clinching at least a share of its fourth conference crown.
Michigan Wolverines
It was no storybook ending for Lloyd Carr or Michigan's seniors. The Wolverines lost their fourth straight and sixth in seven seasons to the Buckeyes. Michigan's points total (three) was their lowest vs. OSU since 1962 and equalled the lowest output in their retiring coach's 13-years.
Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee is now a win against Kentucky from playing LSU for the SEC crown. The Volunteers mounted a 16-point fourth-quarter comeback (the second largest in team history) against Vanderbilt, then sweated it out as Bryant Hahnfeldt missed a game-winning field goal and the Vols survived 25-24.
Alabama Crimson Tide
What does $4 million buy you? In the case of Alabama, Nick Saban and a 6-5 record heading into the Iron Bowl against Auburn -- or exactly the same record it had last year at this time. Saban's boys stumbled to 24 1/2-point underdogs Louisiana-Monroe, the Tide's third straight loss.
"Somehow, we turned it around. I'll have to look back one of these days and figure out how it happened."
--Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team continued its turnaround after losing to Tennessee on Oct. 6 by ralling for a win over Kentucky, enabling the Bulldogs to clinch at least a tie for first in the SEC East.
"Probably nobody in America ever thought that [was possible], except for the guys in that locker room."
--UConn coach Randy Edsal after a 30-7 drubbing of Syracuse that moves the Huskies a win at West Virginia next weekend from earning the conference's automatic BCS berth.
"Right after I kicked it, I looked up at the sky and thought about that. This season, this game was for coach Hep."
--Indiana kicker Austin Starr, who hit a 49-yard field goal with 30 seconds left, giving the Hoosiers a 27-24 win over Purdue. IU's seventh win boosts their chances of playing in a bowl game to honor late coach Terry Hoeppner.
Graham HarrellQB - Texas Tech
Texas Tech put the latest wrinkle in the national title race as Harrell threw for 420 yards and two TDs on a career-high 72 attempts in a 34-27 win over then-No. 3 Oklahoma, the highest-ranked team the Red Raiders have ever beaten.
Jeremy MaclinWR - Missouri
The all-purpose phenom set a freshman record with his 252 yards giving him 2,201 on the season, breaking Rutgers' Terrell Willis' 1993 mark. Maclin had three TDs against Kansas State, including a 99-yard kickoff return for a score.
Juice WilliamsQB - Illinois
The Juice is indeed loose. Williams followed his performance against Ohio State by passing for 220 yards and a score and running for 136 yards and two TDs as the 9-3 Illini beat Northwestern to boost their chances of playing in a New Year's Day bowl.
LSU earned their first outright SEC West title as it beat Ole Miss 41-24 in Oxford. The 2003 Tigers, who went on to win the national title, shared the division crown with ... the Rebels.
Temple's 24-14 win over Kent State gave the Owls four wins on the season, their most since '02. All four victories have also come in the MAC, giving Temple its most conference wins since 1967 when it was in another MAC -- the Middle Atlantic Conference.
Tim Tebow is adding to his legend in away even the Tim Tebow Facts can't. The Florida QB ran in his 20th TD this season, making him the first I-A player to have 20 passing and 20 rushing score in one seaosn.

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USC at Arizona StateNOVEMBER 22
There will be no turkey fryers in Tempe but there will be major Rose Bowl implications. Arizona State leads the Pac-10 race, while USC is tied for second with Oregon. The key here is Rudy Carpenter's sprained thumb. The Sun Devils will need his composure as they take on USC's third-ranked defense.
Arizona State 27, USC 24
Boise State at HawaiiNOVEMBER 23
With a BCS berth likely on the line, it's hard to imagine Colt Brennan won't play in this one. But it won't matter if Boise State keeps him on the sideline. The Broncos, behind their clock-eating running game, have held onto the ball nearly four minutes more a game than Hawaii.
Boise State 31, Hawaii 24
UConn at West VirginiaNOVEMBER 24
For all those complaining that the Huskies get no respect, here's all you have to know about the national perception of 9-2 UConn: it's a 17-point underdog to West Virginia. You'll hear no arguing from the Blitz. There's too much talent on the Mountaineers to bet against them.
West Virginia 34, UConn 14
Virginia Tech at VirginiaNOVEMBER 24
Who will represent the Commomwealth in the ACC title game? Both teams can play defense but it's Virginia Tech's offense that looks renergized. Virginia's 99th-ranked offense hasn't scored more than 28 points outside of 40-point performances vs. sagging Pitt and Miami.
Virginia Tech 20, Virginia 17
Missouri vs. Kansas at Kansas CityNOVEMBER 24
The stakes have never been higher in this bitter rivalry. This will be the first real test for Kansas, which TeamRankings.com says has the 117th-ranked schedule. The Jayhawks are ranked second in scoring defense and eighth in total D but they haven't seen an offense with the likes of Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and arguably the nation's top tight end tandem in Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker.
Missouri 34, Kansas 31

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