What we learned in Week 14
Each Sunday, our college football experts offer their thoughts on things they learned over the weekend. Here is Week 14’s version.
• Baylor QB Robert Griffin should win the Heisman. He has posted gaudy statistics, guided a perennially weak team to nine victories and led clutch drives for last-second wins over TCU and Oklahoma. All that was missing from RGIII’s Heisman resume was a stellar performance against a strong defensive team. Add that one now. Griffin took care of the final issue by throwing for 320 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for two touchdowns in leading the Bears to a 48-24 victory over Texas, which was ranked ninth in the nation in total defense. Whether that performance will take enough votes away from Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Alabama’s Trent Richardson is the question, but Griffin proved himself against the Longhorns.
• Tyrann Mathieu may have taken Case Keenum’s spot on Heisman ballots. The top three or four spots in the balloting probably are close to certain among Montee Ball, Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few changes on some ballots as a result of championship week. Tyrann Mathieu’s game against Georgia was reminiscent of the game Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh had against Texas in the Big 12 title game in 2009. Suh had 12 tackles and 4.5 sacks that day. Against Georgia, Mathieu returned a punt for a touchdown, recovered a fumble to set up LSU’s go-ahead score in the third quarter and had another acrobatic punt return to set up an another touchdown. Meanwhile, Case Keenum probably slipped off some ballots as Houston lost its bid for an undefeated season. Keenum was 31-of-67 for 373 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, good enough to win for some teams, but not for Houston. I don’t know if Mathieu will make it to New York, as Suh did. Perhaps Mathieu doesn’t deserve to go, either. Mathieu was awfully quiet over a span of four or five games, including a suspension. But he was LSU’s most valuable player in some of its biggest games. That might be good enough for him to finish fifth or sixth in the Heisman voting.
• There is no clear-cut No. 2. Oklahoma State’s demolition of Oklahoma was impressive, especially in the way the Cowboys’ defense flew around and made plays. But did Oklahoma State do enough to bypass Alabama and move into the No. 2 spot in the BCS? And for all of Oklahoma State’s offensive pyrotechnics, its five wins over BCS top-25 foes and its proclivity to force turnovers, it lost to Iowa State, which finished 6-6. Alabama didn’t play this weekend and had to like its chances to advance to the national title game regardless. But Oklahoma State’s dominating performance likely caused a lot of voters to re-examine Alabama’s resume. The glaring issue is the loss less than a month ago to LSU – at home. The best win is over Arkansas, but who else did the Tide beat? Penn State has a nice record (9-3), but who thinks the Nittany Lions truly are one of the top 25 teams nationally? The third-best win is over … Auburn? Stanford is another team that benefited from playing a less-than-stellar schedule, and its big home loss to Oregon looks worse after the Ducks were beaten the next week, in Eugene, by USC. Boise State owns an impressive win over Georgia, but that’s it. The Broncos lost to TCU and the rest of the Mountain West isn’t that good. The second-best non-conference win is over Tulsa; the Broncos won by 20 over a team Houston thrashed by 32. Virginia Tech might have been able to make a case had it beat Clemson, but the Hokies were whipped by Clemson. So who should LSU play in the title game? Too bad there isn’t a “plus one” system in place.
[Slideshow: Saturday’s college football highlights]
• We should never assume anything. This season has taught us to expect the unexpected. Remember how four of the top seven teams in the BCS standings lost two weeks ago? This weekend may have been even less predictable. This weekend was supposed to be anticlimactic. Hadn’t Alabama and LSU already virtually clinched spots in the national championship game? Wasn’t Houston all but certain to beat Southern Miss at home to wrap up a spot in a BCS game? We should have learned our lesson two weeks ago. Houston’s loss to Southern Miss boosted the BCS hopes of TCU, Michigan, Boise State and Kansas State. And Oklahoma State’s blowout of Oklahoma created real drama in the announcement of the final BCS standings. This season, the most interesting developments occurred on the weeks when we weren’t expecting much drama at all.
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