Yesterday was a thrill-ride, bearing out the math which indicated that our four musketeers weren't likely to make it to December 2 unblemished. Only the Wildcats managed to breathe with relative comfort; Oregon was getting matched almost stride-for-stride by USC, Alabama staggered around drunkenly for 28 minutes of the second half before an amazing and unforgettable 40 seconds turned things upside down, and Notre Dame only survived because of a field goal attempt that skittered just wide right. That left the top four unmolested as far as the number to the right of the hyphen, but might alter some people's judgments when it comes time to hand in ballots tomorrow.
With that, off to the blitz.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide: Wow. LSU had clawed their way back from a 14-3 deficit to take a 17-14 lead, and with 1:34 left gave the ball back to the Tide after Drew Alleman missed from 38. At that point, a certain blogger said on Twitter, "And here comes an Alabama TD." 43 seconds later, A.J. McCarron had hit Kevin Norwood three times for 44 yards, then found T.J. Yeldon for a 22-yard touchdown pass to stun Death Valley. LSU had a ghost of a chance after that, but couldn't get past their own 30 on three plays before time expired.
Alabama 21, Louisiana State 17
#2 Kansas State Wildcats: The Cats did nothing to hurt themselves in a solid win over a ranked team. Collin Klein hurt his wrist a little, hurt his head a little, and watched the final 22 minutes of the game from the sideline. Klein's absence, of course, destroyed the Wildcat defense, which completely collapsed in his absence.
Kansas State 44, Oklahoma State 30
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Triple overtime against Pitt, and only winning after Pitt themselves missed a game-winning field goal in the second overtime, won't do the Irish any favors. There were upsets down the rankings, but all of them were to teams which were at least legitimate threats to their victims even if unranked; had that kick been a few feet to the left, Notre Dame would have been the only ranked team to suffer a truly inexplicable upset loss. Credit, though, for a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback to force the matter into extra periods to begin with, and a respectful shoutout to Everett Golson, who just would not quit even if his antics were straight out of the backyard. Seriously, this kid's really fun to watch when he gets creative.
Notre Dame 29, Pittsburgh 26 (3OT)
#4 Oregon Ducks: I'm sorry, but Mister Duck fan's protestations of "OMG Barkley and Lee have you ever played guys like that" rings just a bit hollow when the Ducks let them score 51 points. Number of other teams USC has scored 51 on this season: zero. Not Colorado. Not Hawai'i. Cal and Washington held them to less than 30. Stanford held them to 14. Oregon's defense is better than it has been; it is still poor. In prior weeks, the excuse was that the starters were on the bench. Well, they weren't tonight. Having said all that, let's be fair: nobody has ever scored this many points against USC. Nobody has ever run for as many yards against USC as Kenjon Barner did tonight. Oregon flat destroyed the Trojans offensively tonight, and the daunting fact is that nobody sane is calling for Monte Kiffin's head. They'll move back up to #3 tonight.
Oregon 62, Southern California 51
#5 Louisiana State Tigers: Heartbreaking. It's as simple as that in the Bayou.
#6 Georgia Bulldogs: The Dawgs easily handled Ole Miss, and the only thing now standing between them and a date with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game is... Auburn. May as well get your pen out now, and if you're a Georgia fan it's probably not overconfidence to plan that short drive to Atlanta.
Georgia 37, Mississippi 10
#7 Florida Gators: Defensively, it was a Florida effort, aided by four interceptions. Offensively, it was offensive; really, there's no excuse for a talented team like this to only score two second-half touchdowns against the 2012 version of the .
Florida 14, Missouri 7
#8 South Carolina Gamecocks: The Old Ball Coach and his charges took the weekend off to recover from what have been a hellish three weeks.
#9 Florida State Seminoles: FSU also kicked back and rested, with a Thursday night game looming in Blacksburg.
#10 Louisville Cardinals: Teddy Bridgewater threw for five scores, and Louisville remained the forgotten unbeaten. It's a shame, really; the Big East just isn't very good as evidenced by the ultimate MAC-driven fates of the leagues two other previously unbeaten squads. Louisville is a good team, but they'd be carrying two losses playing in one of the Big Four.
Louisville 45, Temple 17
#11 Oregon State Beavers: What is this nonsense? Points? Oregon State erupted for 36 points, which they surpassed against defense-suspect Arizona and, inexplicably, defense-only BYU. However, the troubling thing is that the Sun Devils outscored all of Oregon's previous opponents except Arizona. though almost all the damage was in the first quarter during a hot start. With games remaining against Stanford and Oregon, the Beavers could be about to embark on a slow descent into madness.
Oregon State 36, Arizona State 26
#12 Oklahoma Sooners: Bad Landry Jones showed up for the start of the game, but was banished in the second quarter and the Sooners went on to a relatively easy win in Ames. With the win, the Sooners prevented K-State and Texas from being able to bilaterally decide the Big 12 next week; Oklahoma will have to lose to Baylor next week while Texas loses to Iowa State in order for the Wildcats to clinch should they beat TCU.
Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 20
#13 Clemson Tigers: 8-Ball's buddies have quietly been slaughtering everyone since that loss to Florida State in the conference opener, and with Maryland and North Carolina State remaining look to be in decent position to finish with but a single ACC loss if they keep playing like they have been. Yesterday, they completely pantsed Duke, which points out the elephant in the room: their wins over this stretch have been against a bunch teams which are, let us say, tragically flawed.
Clemson 56, Duke 20
#14 Stanford Cardinal: Someone actually had the nerve to say Stanford didn't look impressive yesterday. Okay, I'll admit, we've got certain expectations of teams that play Colorado, but I think being up 35-0 at halftime and pitching a shutout -- on the road, no less -- is sort of okay. The two Oregons await.
Stanford 48, Colorado 0
#15 Mississippi State Bulldogs: Exposed again, and probably about to slide to the bottom of the polls (though they should cling to the edge). Clanga was down 24-0 at the half, and didn't gain any ground afterward. The Bulldogs have the dubious distinction of being the highest-ranked team to suffer an upset yesterday, despite Alabama and Notre Dame's best efforts otherwise.
Texas A&M 38, Mississippi State 13
#16 Texas A&M Aggies: Meanwhile, the boys from College Station are positioning themselves as a real threat. They're not going to win the SEC West; Alabama saw to that tonight, because even an A&M win next week still leaves Bama only needing a win over Auburn to seal the deal. But Alabama fans are more than a little nervous about Aggie after this week, and it's justified.
#17 Southern California Trojans: Marquis Lee is pretty good, isn't he? The Trojans shredded Oregon's supposedly decent defense, but their own tragic flaws in that regard prevented an upset which would have cleared matters up at the top of this list.
#18 Texas Tech Red Raiders: Tech made a game effort, but a scoreless fourth quarter combined with an insurance touchdown by the Longhorns and yet another blocked field goal -- Texas Tech seems to be plagued by this issue -- left the Raiders nine points in arrears. The real dagger, though, was in the second minute of the second quarter; after a Tech field goal, David Ash hit Mike Davis for a 75-yard score on the first play of the ensuing drive to open an 11-point lead, and although Tech owned the third quarter the deficit was too rich.
Texas 31, Texas Tech 22
#19 Boise State Broncos: There will be no BCS bowl for Boise after Chris Petersen outsmarted himself. Twice, Boise failed to convert two-point attempts; had they just kicked, this game would have gone to overtime. The Mountain West race is now a complete mess, with Boise, Fresno, Air Force, and the Aztecs all with a single loss. Shockingly, as things stand right now Air Force is in the driver's seat. In contrast to Mississippi State and Texas Tech, who at least had the grace to lose to ranked teams, Boise was the week's highest-ranked WTF upset loser.
San Diego State 21, Boise State 19
#20 Nebraska Cornhuskers: Taylor Martinez hit Jamal Turner from five yards out with only six seconds left on the clock to pile more misery onto Sparty and push the Huskers to a critical win to keep pace with Michigan in the Legends Division. They're still nothing resembling a "really good" team, but they've got every opportunity to head to Pasadena now, with tiebreakers over everyone presently relevant.
Nebraska 28, Michigan State 24
#21 West Virginia Mountaineers: Geno Smith finally remembered how to score points, but the Mountaineer defense still can't stop anyone. TCU overcame a 21-point WVU second quarter and forced overtime, and in the second extra frame opted to go for two and the win, and made it. K-State will be hoping that 6-3 TCU somehow sneaks into the #25 slot next week, but that's a remote possibility at best.
Texas Christian 39, West Virginia 38 (2OT)
#22 Arizona Wildcats: Hello, Goodbye. A week after upsetting USC to get into the top 25, the Wildcats got absolutely slaughtered by UCLA. That's bad news for Oregon, as UCLA is one of the two Pac-12 teams Oregon doesn't play. (Utah's the other, and they did Oregon no favors either as they annihilated Washington State). The only way Oregon's going to get to play UCLA in the Pac-12 title game, but to get there the Bruins will have to knock off USC... which would completely and finally devalue Oregon's win over the Trojans. The Ducks just can't win, man. As for UCLA, a hat tip to Johnathan Franklin, who became the Bruins' all-time rushing leader.
Cal-Los Angeles 66, Arizona 10
#23 Texas Longhorns: David Ash recovered from last week's horrifying performance against Kansas, and the Horns look poised to roll into Manhattan at 9-2 on December 1 now. Let's hope so. The narrative is that the defense finally showed up, and though there's a little truth to that it's not like they dominated defensively or anything. They just performed well enough to get by.
#24 Oklahoma State Cowboys: Dropped in long enough to give K-State a win over a ranked opponent, and now they're back on the outside again. On the bright side, at least their third-string quarterback's pretty good, right?
#25 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs: The BCS door is open a crack for the putative WAC champion now, but it's going to require winning out and hoping for a lot of upsets. Given their new position in the polls, they could rise as high as #18 in the BCS without surprising anyone, which is a place higher than Boise rested this week. If they can get there, they'll suddenly become huge Penn State fans.
Louisiana Tech 51, Texas-San Antonio 27
UNBOXING THE POLLS
First, the bad news: K-State lost four points to Oregon in the coaches' poll. TRAGEDY AND DESPAIR. However, the 'Cats gained four actual points, and extended their lead over Notre Dame to 81 points (up from 59 last week). Oregon gained eight actual points, meaning Oregon and K-State gained 12 between them... while Notre Dame lost eighteen. That means that at least six voters now have Notre Dame ranked beneath a one-loss team. Chew on that awhile.
Sportswriters reversed the coaches, however. K-State gained four points on the Ducks, and now have a 77-point lead on Notre Dame (up from 38 last week). Oregon picked up nine points, K-State 13; the Irish fell 26. Again, this means at least two guys dropped ND to fifth. The AP poll doesn't matter for BCS goodies, mind you, but it's still warm and fuzzy.
The net result: It's all but certain K-State will stay #2 in the BCS this week. Oregon's computer gains on the Cats will be negligible as Oregon beat a 6-3 team which was ranked 19th in the computers while K-State beat a 5-3 team which was ranked 25th. Their poll gains are also minimal, and the lead from last week was so large that this week's will still look fairly hefty.
In other poll fun, Louisiana Tech is now 18th in the coaches' poll, 19th in the AP. Toledo is 25/23, Texas has jumped into the AP poll at #19, and Rutgers returns at #24. Most importantly for us: Texas Tech remained ranked at #25 in the AP, and can now safely win out and make the Cats look good. TCU didn't get in, landing at 31/29.