Photo: University of Notre Dame
I went 36-8 on my week 13 picks. That’s a correct picked percentage of 81.8. The most notable upset I called was Mississippi over Mississippi State.
The Notre Dame–USC primetime broadcast on ABC garnered a 10.3 national TV rating. That made it the most watched college football game of the season, and is even higher than last year’s Rose and Sugar Bowls.
I don’t know if I always believed Notre Dame could make it back to a National Title opportunity, or if I had deep down accepted that it may never happen in my lifetime. I’m inclined to say the former. As a close follower of the team, it’s clear now how far away Notre Dame was from being a contender in years past, which also makes it clear now why being a championship caliber team seemed like such a faraway thing that I doubted it’s possibility altogether. What remained constant through it all was faith. Deep down I always had faith that the ship would be righted and the echoes awoken. Nevertheless, there is still one more game to be played, and I hope the players haven’t settled, but for now, it’s good to be back (Or if you were born post-1988 like me, it’s good to finally make it).
Manti Te’o is the unquestionable leader of the Notre Dame team, but on the offensive side of the ball, Theo Riddick was the Irish’s MVP against USC. Numerous times he broke 10-yard runs to extend drives, made quick cuts to avoid defenders and pick up first downs, and turn positive gains out of potential plays for lost yards. Cierre Wood was the premiere back heading into the season, and is an NFL talent averaging 7.1 yards per carry heading into the game, but the smaller Riddick has been the pleasant surprise turning into the Irish’s power-back option toughing out carries between the tackles.
With Stanford’s 35-17 victory over UCLA, they have now defeated three top 20 teams in a row. They are in my opinion the best two-loss team in football. Had they not slipped versus Washington, I don’t doubt that they could be in competition with the Alabama-Georgia winner for the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings and a rematch with Notre Dame in the National Championship game.
Stanford senior running back Stepfan Taylor is having another excellent season. It is his third 1,000 yard rushing and double-digit touchdown season in a row.
Just when you thought Texas was back on track, they lose 20-13 to TCU. Quarterback David Ash struggled going 10/21, 104 yards, and two picks. Case McCoy didn’t do much better, but enough to earn the start for this weekend’s game against Kansas State.
Why was there no Denard Robinson sighting in Michigan’s final offensive drive against Ohio State which resulted in an interception? I understand his passing ability is limited even without the arm injury, but he’s one of the most dynamic players in the country, and has come through numerous times in the clutch, coach Brady Hoke needed to find a way to get the ball in his hands.
How good is Ohio State? I’m still not even sure I completely know. It’s almost as if they are an undefeated mid-major. I understand that is an unfair comparison for the Buckeyes, but it’s hard to name a player from this squad off the top of your head other than Braxton Miller and John Simon, a big contrast from teams in years past. Every week seemed like the week their true colors would show, yet they would still find a way to win. Granted, they only truly faced tough competition in Nebraska and Michigan, those victories as well as wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State exceeded my expectations. Penn State turned out to be better than thought, but for the most part, the Big Ten was much weaker than expected which likely aided the Buckeyes in their undefeated campaign.
I was very close to picking Pittsburgh in my Week 13 FBS Picks, and by the result of their 21-point victory over Rutgers, I should have. Pittsburgh is much more talented than their 5-6 record would tell, but I think the effect of so many coaching changes (three different coaches for the past three seasons) showed in the Panthers’ performance this year.
In a matchup of SEC teams playing with a fired head coach, Tennessee defeated Kentucky 37-17. Nothing more to say about these two teams.
Talking about disappointing Big Ten teams, Michigan State is one of them. Can you believe their victory over Minnesota Saturday brought them to the same record and the Gophers?
It was a rough first year in the SEC for Missouri. But that’s what you would expect for a lowly Big Twelve team making the transition to big boy ball in SEC, right? Well tell that to Texas A&M, the team that defeated them by 30 on Saturday and took down a vaunted No. 1 Alabama in their first year in the SEC as well.
Louisiana Tech and San Jose State played in a great Western Athletic Conference matchup Saturday, and SJS came out on top 52-43. Tech is now 9-3 on the season and State is 10-2, not bad for two mid-majors. What catches the eye even more is that neither of them are in first place in the WAC; that honor belongs to 10-2 (6-0) Utah State. Tech played Texas A&M very close earlier in the season losing 59-57 – they are also the No. 1 scoring team in the nation. If you’re a big fan of college football, the replay of the game is available on WatchESPN.com. I’ll be tuning in later this week.
Not to leave out recognition of any other mid-major teams, Kent State improved to 11-1 with their win over Ohio University Friday and are now sitting at No. 17 in the BCS Standings, one spot shy of qualifying for a BCS bowl game. What that means, is you now have reason to tune into their game with another 11-1 MAC team, Nothern Illinois, in the MAC Championship game this Friday. Not only is it a matchup of two top-25 MAC teams, but the implications are big as well. Kent State owns a win over Rutgers, but also an ugly loss to Kentucky. NIU’s lone loss was by one point to Iowa in the first game of the season.