What Happened? Breaking Down Week 9

    The ten most important things to happen in the history of our great planet – at least this weekend. How will Week 9 of your college football season be

    October 27, 2014

    The ten most important things to happen in the history of our great planet – at least this weekend. How will Week 9 of your college football season be remembered in the history books? And so it is written …

    1. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad SEC West 
    With Mississippi State’s win over Kentucky, Alabama’s win over Tennessee and Auburn’s win over South Carolina, the SEC West is now 32-1 against teams outside of the SEC West, with the only loss when the division’s worst team, Arkansas, lost to the SEC East’s best team, Georgia.

    Take that in for a moment. 

    Try to poke holes all you want, but we’re about to head into November and the division has just one loss outside of its own seven teams mini-league. 

    The rankings that don’t matter – the AP and USA Today – have taken notice with three West teams – Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn – all in the top four, and if they were being forced to bet their kids’ juice money, every single voter would take No. 7 Ole Miss in the AP – No. 9 in the USA Today – over Oregon, Notre Dame and Michigan State on a neutral field tomorrow. 

    Ole Miss still controls its own destiny – it’ll win the SEC title and go to the playoff if it wins out – but can anyone survive in this division? Mississippi State still has to go to Alabama and Ole Miss, and now LSU is back in the picture despite losses to Auburn and Mississippi State, meaning, in theory, this could be one of the five best teams in America. 

    What’s wrong with Texas A&M? Losses to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama. What about poor Arkansas? Its four losses came to Georgia, Texas A&M, Alabama and Auburn – no shame there. 

    Auburn and Mississippi State might have been a bit shaky in their wins, and it took a little bit for Alabama to put away Tennessee, but an SEC win is still an SEC win, and after this weekend, it’s still the SEC West’s world and we’re all just paying taxes. 

    2. Shhhhh, if you listen quietly, you can hear TCU scoring again 
    Over the last four games of the 2012 season, TCU’s first in the Big 12 – the Horned Frog offense scored a grand total of 63 points. Last season, TCU lost to Texas Tech 20-10. This year, the nation’s worst scoring offense, SMU has scored a total of 49 points in seven games. Meanwhile, TCU scored 45 points in the second half against Texas Tech, and hung 82 on the board in the blowout – it could’ve been a lot worse. The Horned Frog offense settled for four Jaden Oberkrom field goals, and while one came on the last play of the first half, there were chances to have put the foot down and cranked out 100 if the team really pushed. 

    The 82-27 win over Texas Tech was the exact type of win that gets noticed. The CFP committee isn’t supposed to care about margin of victory, but it’s a little hard not to see an 82 on the board against a Big 12 team, even one that’s struggling defensively. 

    TCU QB Trevone Boykin threw for 433 yards and seven touchdowns, Trevorris Johnson and Aaron Green each ran for 105 yards, and everything worked. This, combined with a win over Oklahoma, set the tone for the final five games, with a showdown with Kansas State coming after going on the road to face West Virginia this Saturday. 

    3. The Nov. 8 Big Ten championship game is still alive 
    With some due respect to Nebraska, the B1G title will almost certainly be decided in two weeks. 

    It wasn’t exactly easy, but J.T. Barrett and Ohio State survived a second half collapse and two overtimes to get by Penn State to keep the dream alive. Forgetting for a moment that the Buckeyes still haven’t beaten anyone with a pulse, and the Virginia Tech home loss is looking worse and worse by the week, a win over Michigan State on November 8th would set the tone for an 11-1 run and a spot in the Big Ten championship. Win that, and the playoff invite will be there – most likely. First, they have to get past an Illinois team that stunned Minnesota, and then it’s off to East Lansing. 

    Michigan State hasn’t exactly been dominant, but it beat Michigan yet again with an easy 35-11 win led by a huge day from RB Jeremy Langford, and now it gets two weeks off to prepare for the showdown with the Buckeyes. The final three games? At Maryland, at Rutgers, at Penn State – the Spartans would have to gag in a big way to not get to Indianapolis at 11-1. 

    4. Oregon is back to being Oregon 
    It’s as if the Arizona loss never happened. It was a weird Thursday night slot, the O line wasn’t healthy, the Ducks were young and needed the work – however it happened, it seems now like an aberration. Since then, Oregon hammered UCLA 42-30 in a game that was a bigger blowout than the final score, dropped Washington 45-20, and came up with a 59-41 Friday night win over Cal. Marcus Mariota threw his first interception of the season, but he also tossed five touchdown passes as the O rolled with ease. Now, at least, the thought of a 12-1 Pac-12 champion Oregon is becoming more of a playoff lock. When it comes the best of the one-loss Power 5ers, outside of the SEC, this is it. However, there’s still the Stanford showdown next week and a dangerous, DANGEROUS date at … 

    5. Utah? Really? 
    It’s okay, you can say it – the Pac-12 is soft. All O, little D, lots of Hail Marys, passing yards for the asking, wacky scores. Even with Oregon beating the toughest of tough guys, Michigan State, several weeks ago, this is mainly a league built on firepower and offensive fun. That’s not Utah, though. Behind the running of Devontae Booker, and a loaded pass rush led by Nate Orchard and his 11 sacks, this is brutish, aggressive, tough guy team that’s starting to look the part. Of course, the one loss came to the finesse of finesse teams in Washington State – really, Wazzu, 79 passes against Arizona? – but with wins over UCLA, Oregon State, and now USC, the Utes have bounced back to become a real, live contender for the Pac-12 South crown. However, there’s still Oregon and Stanford to face from the North, and there are still dates with …. 

    6. Arizona and Arizona State could be the league’s stars 
    Arizona flat-out gagged away the loss to USC on October 11th, but after two weeks to brood, it went up to Washington State and ripped apart Mike Leach’s bunch with a 31-0 first half lead on the way to a 59-37 win. This is still the team that beat Oregon, and it’s still looking like a contender with Anu Solomon throwing five touchdown passes in the win and playing as well as any quarterback in the conference. 

    Arizona State got past its pasting from UCLA to come up with three straight really, really good wins beating USC and Washington on the road and Stanford at home. Starting quarterback Taylor Kelly is back, the defense is playing well, and this week, despite the rain and cold in Seattle, the team did what it had to do to get by in a tough environment. The stage is set for the Sun Devils with Utah and Notre Dame up next at home. 

    7. Fear Ameer 
    Heisman voters, you think Marcus Mariota is too Marcus Milquetoast? Can’t pull the trigger on voting for Jameis Winston? Not a believer in Dak Prescott quite yet? Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah is coming up with a special season worthy of at least a trip to New York with 1,249 yards and 17 touchdowns so far, two receiving scores, and 272 yards on kickoff returns. It takes a lot for a running back to come up with an offensive record at Nebraska, and Abdullah did it against Rutgers with 341 all-purpose yards in the 42-24 win running for 225 yards and three scores, catching two passes for 26 yards, and returning two kickoffs for 90 yards. Okay, so the Heisman dream is done once voters remember the 45 yards on 24 carries against Michigan State – even though he scored twice – but the performance against Rutgers was his fourth 200-yard game of the year to keep Nebraska in the Big Ten title and playoff hunt. Over his last five games he has 14 rushing scores. 

    8. America, meet Patrick Towles 
    Mississippi State might have beaten Kentucky 45-31, but it was Wildcat quarterback Patrick Towles who stole the show – or at least shared it with Miss State RB Josh Robinson and his 198 yards and two touchdowns. Towles, a 6-5, 240-pound sophomore, looked the part of an SEC franchise star to build around after his huge day against the nation’s No. 1 team. All but unstoppable, he threw for 390 yards and two touchdowns, ran for a team-high 76 yards and two touchdowns, and almost pulled off the upset. For a program that’s trying to build something big, it found its guy. 

    9. Marshall vs. East Carolina 
    Someone from the Group of 5 will have to get one of the big bowl spots. No one has come close to Marshall so far, and it’s going to go 12-0 without breathing too hard, but its best win so far came against … Middle Tennessee? Beating Florida Atlantic this week 35-16 was fun, and Devon Johnson was great running 24 times for 272 yards and four touchdowns, but is the team capturing America’s interest? Not really. Beating Southern Miss, Rice, UAB and WKU over the last four games isn’t going to do it, either, but the Herd might end the regular season as the nation’s only unbeaten team. 

    Meanwhile, East Carolina needed way, way, way too much effort to get by a bad UConn team last Thursday night, scoring ten fourth quarter points to avoid the upset. The lone loss this year is to South Carolina, and with wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina, the resume is better than Marshall’s, but there can’t be a slip. 11-1 East Carolina probably gets the big bowl spot, 10-2 East Carolina lets Marshall in. 

    10. Three really cool things that you missed because you were doing something else with your life that you think were slightly more important than watching college football on a Saturday you silly, silly person 
    – It wasn’t quite the same as last year’s classic Navy 58-52thriller over San Jose State, but the 41-31 win was still one of the day’s better games. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds hasn’t been 100% for a portion of the year, but he came back from missing the VMI game a few weeks ago to run for 251 yards and three scores in the win. Last year, he ran for 240 yards and seven touchdowns in the victory over the Spartans. 

    – Navy leads the nation in rushing, right? Nope, it’s No. 2 and isn’t really close. Wisconsin? No. 3. Auburn? No. 10. Georgia Southern isn’t eligible for a bowl game because it’s in a transitional phase, but it’s the best team in the Sun Belt averaging over 400 rushing yards per game with 40 touchdowns on the year. In the 69-31 win over Georgia State, the Eagles ran for 613 yards and ten touchdowns led by Matt Brieda’s 201 yards and four scores – averaging 16.8 yards per pop – and QB Kevin Ellison running for 115 yards and hitting 5-of-6 passes. 

    – Probably the best game of the weekend you didn’t see? Toledo overcame five Blake Frohnapfel touchdown passes with a 19-yard Terry Swanson touchdown run with 34 seconds to play to beat UMass 42-35. 

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