10 thoughts on Week 10
Before we look ahead to the Week 11 schedule, here are ten thoughts from the Week 10 slate of action.
Editor's note: After Further Review/10 thoughts are usually posted on Mondays. Apologies for the delay.
1. First, here are my thoughts on the latest BCS standings.
2. Kenjon Barner put on a ridiculous show in Oregon's shootout win over USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum this past Saturday night. The Ducks tailback carried the ball 38 times for 321 yards and five touchdowns against the Trojans — just otherworldly numbers even against a porous defense lacking depth. The Ducks rolled up 730 total yards, and the overwhelming sentiment is that the nation wants to see this high-powered, up-tempo Ducks offense against Alabama in Miami — no matter if Notre Dame and/or Kansas State finished undefeated as well. Regarding USC: the worst part about the defensive performance is that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said the Ducks didn't do anything fancy on offense — they just tore up the defense on simple stretch run plays that helped Barner average 8.4 yards per carry and leapfrog up the rankings in the Heisman Trophy race.
3. Georgia certainly has the talent to at least give Alabama a ballgame well into the fourth quarter in Atlanta during a potential SEC Championship Game if the team gets a stellar performance from quarterback Aaron Murray, who bounced back from a disastrous game against Florida to toss 384 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-10 win over Ole Miss. The Bulldogs won't find much running room on the ground against the Crimson Tide, so the game will be in Murray's hands as it was in the team's loss to South Carolina earlier in the year. If the Bulldogs and Tide meet, it will be a huge opportunity for Murray to have his signature game in a Georgia uniform.
4. Speaking of testing Alabama, Kevin Sumlin has certainly changed the culture in College Station, and there's no question that Texas A&M looms as a dangerous threat to the Crimson Tide's BCS national title hopes. While I don't think the Aggies pose as a more dangerous threat than LSU because the Tide's defense should be able to limit the productivity of Aggies star dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel, there's no question that A&M has adopted better to SEC play than many had expected. Poor second-half showings against Florida and LSU have doomed Sumlin's squad, but the Aggies looked dominant in a 38-14 win at Mississippi State this past weekend. Manziel recorded 440 yards in leading a team that should have no problem playing loose against the Tide.
US PRESSWIREZach Mettenberger played his best game as a Tiger in a loss to Alabama.
5. Zach Mettenberger had his coming-out party Saturday night, and he almost helped put LSU back into the BCS national championship picture. The quarterback who once battled Aaron Murray for the starting job at Georgia played his best game since becoming a Tiger, and his second-down toss to receiver Odell Beckham that went for a first down on a fourth-quarter drive was a thing of beauty. Mettenberger threw for 298 yards and a touchdown, and kudos go to his much-beleaguered offensive line as well. That unit played its best game of the season against its toughest opponent, and it almost propelled the Bayou Bengals to the win in Death Valley. Running back Jeremy Hill found enough running lanes to record 107 yards on the ground, and that's no small feat against a Nick Saban and Kirby Smart defense.
6. Notre Dame survived a huge scare at home against Pittsburgh in three overtimes, and the phrase "Luck of the Irish" is still being used to describe the Golden Domers three days after the win. But if the Irish take care of business the rest of the way, Brian Kelly's squad will remain unbeaten. We know the team's computer average can only go down, but will a bunch of voters be willing to jump the Irish over Oregon given the team's rich history and the fact that the program has been down for so many years? That's about the only way the Irish can jump an unbeaten Oregon team at this point.
7. Kansas State is nowhere near an undefeated team without star dual-threat quarterback and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Collin Klein leading the offense. So what will be the fate of the Wildcats if Klein is unable to play this week after suffering an apparent head injury in the 44-30 win over Oklahoma State this past Saturday? On the Big 12 conference call Monday, Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder said Klein seemed fine to him and said he hopes that his QB will be able to play at TCU this week. Given the increased awareness about head injuries, Klein's status is certainly in doubt after he was removed from the game after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Pokes. Snyder has tried to be coy on the situation, but there is no question that backup quarterback Daniel Sams is no Collin Klein. Hopefully having K-State in the thick of the national title race has no bearing on a decision to play Klein against the Horned Frogs.
8. Missouri should have beaten Florida at The Swamp, but dual-threat quarterback James Franklin had one of the worst days of his career. Granted, he has been banged-up all season and does not resemble the same player who accounted for 36 touchdowns last season. But the junior threw four interceptions and repeatedly overthrew his receivers in a close game that would have helped salvage the Tigers' season. Instead, Mizzou will struggle to go bowling.
9. If Derek Dooley is let go by Tennessee, bringing in Sal Sunseri as defensive coordinator could go down as one of his biggest mistakes. The thought was that Sunseri would bring some Alabama flair to Knoxville after working on Nick Saban's staff, but the Volunteers' defense has been abysmal this fall. And I know the team lacks star quality and depth on that side of the ball, but the performance this past weekend against Troy was beyond embarassing. The Vols allowed more than 700 yards in a 55-48 win, and the defense did not improve on the SEC’s lowest-rated unit.
10. No matter the buyout figure, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford could be in his final weeks as Golden Bears head coach. The home crowd was very small last Friday night for the team's lackluster loss to Washington, and the Bears will be home for Christmas this year after dropping to 3-7 following a third straight loss.
Ellis Johnson is going through an absolute nightmarish season in his debut campaign at Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles have always been one of the more consistent non-BCS schools, so it was assumed that the team would at least tread water no matter who stepped in as head coach. Well, USM is sitting at 0-9 under Johnson, a longtime successful defensive assistant who went 12-22 in four combined years at Gardner-Webb and The Citadel. The defending Conference USA champs are off to their worst start since 1976 after a 27-19 loss to UAB, and it's not out of the question that Johnson could be one and done.
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