The Sunday National, 10/21/12: Delusions.

Kevin C. Cox

Amid a stable day atop the BCS Standings, almost every fanbase is suffering from some form of delusion... or has had their illusions shattered.

Our theme this Sunday is delusion. Really, that's a lie. Our theme is actually spite, because I am feeling spiteful, and therefore I am going to say spiteful things about almost everyone in the top 25. Almost. Don't take it personally, Fan of Other Team. Instead, consider that really I just hate everyone, or something. (I don't.)

(Most of the time.)

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide: I love the Tide this year, so take this as intended. They've still only played Michigan and Western Kentucky and the fact that I include Western Kentucky there is meaningful. Tennessee presented no problems whatsoever, but let's remember that Tennessee is now 3-4, and not one of those three wins is in the SEC.

Alabama 44, Tennessee 13

#2 Florida Gators: It's odd, but in the wake of K-State's demolition of West Virginia, discussion on Twitter seemed to almost ignore the Gators. Don't. Florida took South Carolina behind the woodshed, and if K-State made an announcement tonight so did Florida. I still hold to my opinion that the 'Cats would probably beat the Gators due to matchups (though if you staged a round-robin among the top 12 teams, Florida would probably finish ahead of K-State), but certain other parties need to slow their roll a bit. Your team is not decisively better than this one in any reality known to man.

Florida 44, South Carolina 11

#3 Oregon Ducks: Thursday night, Oregon does what it does in a 43-21 win over Arizona State. I have been misconstrued as slandering Oregon, which is not my intent, but this was not an impressive win; Arizona State has lost to Missouri, and beaten such luminaries as California, Colorado, and Illinois. They're not a bad team, but Arizona State is not a marquee win, not even in Tempe.

Oregon 43, Arizona State 21

#4 Kansas State Wildcats: A statement. A statement for the team, and a statement for the Heisman Trophy. West Virginia's vaunted offense did not score on the Wildcats until the starters were kicking back on the bench taking in the view, and the starting defense allowed under 200 yards of total offense (including only 88 on the ground). There's still a long road ahead, and we need to keep our heads about ourselves here, but this evening the 'Cats should be the #3 team in the nation. Oregon will scream, but it's all math; K-State only trailed Oregon by .003 points, and the combination of a poll bump from a comprehensive road win over a team held in some regard plus computer wizardry should cover that.

Kansas State 55, West Virginia 14

#5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Defense is a fine thing. I approve of competent defense in all its forms. However, you need an offense, and Notre Dame's has been sorely lacking. The ride may very well end next Saturday, and it won't be a surprise to anyone. Not even Irish fans who would like you to think otherwise.

Notre Dame 17, Brigham Young 14

#6 Louisiana State Tigers: Here we have a team whose fanbase got a pleasant surprise today. Tiger fans, being level-headed when not tailgating or in the stadium, realize their offense is a dumpster fire, and they also know full well their team tried everything in their power to give this game away. The LSU defense, however, was having none of it, and dealt appropriately with the threat of a horribly entertaining hype machine.

Louisiana State 24, Texas A&M 19

#7 South Carolina Gamecocks: The Gamecocks probably no longer have any illusions at all after being Gator-chomped. They're not winning the national championship. Or the SEC. Or even the SEC East. They're still probably a legitimate top-10 team, though.

#8 Oregon State Beavers: I freely admit that I just don't know what to make of this team. They are... well, let's lay it out there. They're the 2011 Kansas State Wildcats. They just keep winning. Four of their remaining six games, however, are not going to be fun. If I knew any Beaver fans, I could tell you whether they realize this or not. I don't, because I'm not sure they have any. (Or, if they do, they seem to not have the interwebs.)

Oregon State 21, Utah 7

#9 Oklahoma Sooners: Ratchet down, Land Thieves. It's just Kansas. However, the Sooners don't face another team which comprehends that winning football games involves a phase other than scoring as many points as you can; that's good news for Landry Jones.

Oklahoma 52, Kansas 7

#10 Southern California Trojans: What, I'm supposed to be impressed that Matt Barkley and Robert Woods set records in this game? Colorado might not even be capable of running the table in the RMAC.

Southern California 50, Colorado 6

#11 Georgia Bulldogs: I hope Dawg fans were appropriately embarrassed by this performance. I mean, the team photo of this year's Kentucky squad is going to be in the new edition of the OED to illustrate the word "horrid". In a just and righteous world, Georgia will still be #11 this evening, because someone else deserves to move to #10 (and because Georgia being ranked above South Carolina would be an absolute travesty).

Georgia 29, Kentucky 24

#12 Mississippi State Bulldogs: Lost in all the excitement today was the fact that Alabama is, apparently, not the only SEC team which knows how to properly deal with a Sun Belt tea-- what? Troy? Okay, forget I said anything. No, seriously; Mississippi State deserves their moment in the top ten, which will end immediately thanks to Alabama but it's the thought that counts.

Mississippi State 45, Middle Tennessee State 3

#13 West Virginia Mountaineers: There are few things in the world more humiliating than talking lots of smack and then getting your glutes presented to you on a platter. Mountaineer fans knew their defense was suspect. Now they have to live with the realization that against a real defense, so is their offense.

#14 Florida State Seminoles: No, you are not back. Not even now. In fact, you almost provided incontrovertible evidence that you're the same old Seminoles we've come to distrust over the last decade.

Florida State 33, Miami (FL) 20

#15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights: It's disturbing, but I think Rutgers might well be the best team in the Big East. Why? They're handling business without much incident (hey, I can't knock a team for stumbling into halftime and then tearing their opponent a new orifice or three in the third quarter).

Rutgers 35, Temple 10

#16 Louisville Cardinals: And the reason I think Rutgers is going to win the Big East is because Louisville seems bound and determined to spend their season trying to dance on a razor-thin high wire. Last year, K-State kept winning close games against good teams. The Cardinals are winning close games against really bad ones. You may see the distinction there.

Louisville 27, South Florida 25

#17 Texas Tech Red Raiders: WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. TCU hasn't been lighting scoreboards on fire so far, and are in disarray. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the last eight days of the Red Raiders' existence is this: West Virginia really was off the reservation offensively last week. One might suggest the same was true last night, but I watched both games. K-State dominated the Mountaineers; Texas Tech did not. Not in the same way. But hey, we'll get all our answers to this mystery next week, so let's not worry over it.

Texas Tech 56, Texas Christian 53 (3OT)

#18 Texas A&M Aggies: And thus ends the Heisman campaign of freshman Johnny Manziel, undone by an LSU defense which actually showed up for work. Still: he's going to win the Heisman before he's done. He's hella fun to watch.

#19 Clemson Tigers: I don't think even Clemson fans are excited about yesterday's win. I mean, they always beat Virginia Tech these days, and the Hokies are sort of bad this year anyway.

Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 17

#20 Stanford Cardinal: "Hey, we can play defense, look!" No, you can play Notre Dame and Cal in back-to-back weeks. Okay, Stanford's actually a good defensive team, but they're primed for failure on November 17.

Stanford 21, California 3

#21 Cincinnati Bearcats: And the first of the Big East trio of unbeatens is undone, and of course it would be by Toledo, the MAC's designated giant-killer. Or at least giant-frightener. It was probably unfair that the Bearcats didn't even get ranked until last week; it's not at all inequitable for them to disappear this evening.

Toledo 29, Cincinnati 23

#22 Boise State Broncos: Boise is very likely to pick up two of the critical six spots in the BCS standings they need to guarantee themselves a BCS bowl bid (assuming Michigan doesn't claw their way back into the top 16 somehow).

Boise State 32, Nevada-Las Vegas 7

#23 Texas Christian Horned Frogs: When you've already lost to Iowa State and Texas Tech, you can probably kiss any dreams of a Big 12 title goodbye. That's true even in a year when those two teams are pretty good. (They probably aren't.)

#24 Iowa State Cyclones: Speaking of which... the Clones suffered a complete failure on both offense and defense. The former wasn't too shocking. The latter kinda was. And thus, a second (or possibly even a third, if West Virginia gets hammered by the voters) Big 12 team bids the top 25 adieu.

Oklahoma State 31, Iowa State 10

#25 Texas Longhorns: Texans have no illusions whatsoever about their team. Hell, this is a fanbase which takes losing to K-State as a given going into the season now, and they're only sort of being ironic about it. I guess the Longhorn defense might be 13 points better than West Virginia's, which means they'll only give up 42 to K-State on December 1. Of course, their offense is 14 points worse than the 'Eers, meaning they won't score on KSU at all. #optimism

Texas 56, Baylor 50

WHO'S IN?
Ultimately, I expect four teams to fall out: Cincinnati, TCU, Iowa State, and either Texas A&M or West Virginia. Both of the latter could cling to life; both could drop out. But I have a feeling that one of them will survive the culling today. So who's going to move into the BCS standings? Michigan and Ohio would seem to be locks. Believe it or not, Louisiana Tech is probably rejoining the party, as they appear to be next in line. After that, it's gumbo. You've got Nebraska, Wisconsin, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, and a smorgasbord of mid-majors (led, I feel compelled to point out, by three -- yes, three -- one-loss MAC teams in Kent State, Northern Illinois, and Toledo). Given that Toledo is directly responsible for removing someone from the top 25 this week, they'd be my personal selection to take the coveted #25 spot, but the voters might not agree with me and the computers just won't care much one way or another. Tulsa's also lurking around down there, and are worth your attention.

BENEATH THE FOLD
Some doings of note in the lower divisions: in FCS, it wasn't the carnage we saw last week, but the one top five team which survived last week's bloodletting didn't this week as James Madison was upset by Richmond. Our favorite FCS player, South Dakota State's Zach Zenner, only ran for 112 yards this week as Northern Iowa manhandled the Jackrabbits. Weber State, so cruelly abandoned by John L. Smith earlier in the year, finally won their first game of the year with a 24-22 decision at Southern Utah. Two unbeatens -- 5-0 Harvard and 7-0 Tennessee State -- fell; 7-0 Lehigh and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo stand as the only two FCS teams not to taste loss this season.

Pittsburg State got plowed 63-14 by Missouri Western, which was the most shocking development in D-II. 10th-ranked Ouachita Baptist got housed by #25 Harding, which was an indisputable upset but at the same time not all that surprising. In D-III, Mount Union's reign of terror continues; they've now run 373:50 -- that's six games plus almost a quarter -- without giving up a single point after laying a 51-0 beating on Otterbein, who was undefeated two weeks ago. Next week, Mount Union faces unbeaten Heidelberg; the outcome isn't even in doubt, but the Princes might actually make the scoreboard change. Mount Union's win was the 324th career victory for coach Larry Kehres, which is relevant because he's now passed Bear Bryant on the coaching wins list.

December's Stagg Bowl will almost certainly look different than it has the past seven years, however. Wisconsin-Whitewater, who already lost to lightly-regarded Buffalo State on a last-gasp play a few weeks ago, was upended by Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and two-loss teams have a very, very hard time getting into the D-III playoffs even if they have reached the title game every year since freakin' 2005. Meanwhile, two different sets of Quakers broke strings of futility; Earlham snapped a 26-game losing streak with a 21-19 win over Anderson while Wilmington (OH) ended a 32-game skid by upending Marietta 13-12 in a clash of 0-6 teams.

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