By Chris Dufresne Los Angeles Times
Alabama played lousy and Auburn got lucky, but nothing changes as another November starts to coalesce around SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.
It’s almost like the swallows returning to Capistrano.
When undefeated Auburn was left out of the BCS title game of 2004, a defiant Commissioner Mike Slive vowed it would never happen again.
He was wrong, but not for long.
Texas and USC played for the title after the 2005 season, but the SEC has since won seven straight national championships.
Since 2008, in fact, the hardware hasn’t left the state of Alabama. The Crimson Tide won in 2009, followed by Auburn, followed by consecutive titles by Alabama.
The Crimson Tide looked sluggish in its 20-7 win at Mississippi State, but it had no impact on Alabama’s quest to win a third straight title.
Auburn needed an all-time fluke touchdown catch to beat Georgia, but that win lifted the Tigers to 10-1 with a Nov. 30 showdown looming against the Crimson Tide.
Auburn, with a little help from the deflection gods, replaced Oregon and Missouri as the best-positioned one-loss team that can still win the national title.
Oregon is ahead of Auburn now in the BCS standings but won’t be if Auburn defeats Alabama.
Don’t bother comparing the defeats: Oregon lost by six points at then-No. 5 Stanford, and Auburn lost by 14 at then-No. 6 Louisiana State.
Blah … blah … blah.
The sun may set in the West, but the BCS standings set over Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Auburn’s “win” should have made nervous all contenders outside of Tuscaloosa and Tallahassee.
Florida State’s spot in the title game is secure so long as the Seminoles win out against Idaho, Florida and in the ACC title game.
But what happens if Auburn defeats Alabama in two weeks and ends up winning the SEC title with a 12-1 record?
Florida State would move up to No. 1, and then what?
The SEC would certainly argue its one-loss champion was more worthy than undefeated Baylor or Ohio State.
Unless you think Slive would say, “Nah, we’ve won enough, give the Big 12 a chance.”
Sunday’s BCS standings set the stage for an exciting closing act, with the top four teams lined up in order: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor.
Stanford’s loss put Oregon back on top in the Pac 12 North as Ducks coach Mark Helfrich thanked USC by telling reporters, “We got some help from a strange friend.”
Oregon appears boxed out for the big prize, though, even if it goes 12-1 and wins the second-toughest league in America.
Jeff Sagarin’s Sunday conference division ratings ratified what most believe: The SEC and Pac-12 are the top conferences.
The SEC West ranks No. 1, followed by the Pac-12 North, Pac-12 South and SEC East.
That’s four great divisions and one great state of Alabama.
Oh, what a state we’re in.
Texas coach Mack Brown’s job is in jeopardy again after Saturday’s 38-13 home loss to Oklahoma State. The defeat ended Texas’ six-game winning streak and dropped the Longhorns (7-3, 6-1) into a second-place tie with the Cowboys behind Baylor in the Big 12 race.
Texas probably has to win the conference to save Brown’s job.
“If there’s nothing to play for, it’s a different thing,” Brown said. “But we’re still in November with a conference championship sticking right in our face.”
Texas closes against Texas Tech and then at Baylor.
Ohio State defeated Marquette on Saturday, 52-35. Oh wait, that was the basketball team. The football team defeated Illinois, 60-35.
You don’t have to tell Northwestern about football heartbreak. The Wildcats are 0-6 in the Big Ten since being 4-0 overall with a fourth-quarter lead against Ohio State on Oct. 5. Northwestern’s last four losses: Minnesota (20-17), Iowa (17-10, overtime), Nebraska (27-24, on a Hail Mary pass), Michigan (27-19, three overtimes). Northwestern (4-6) needs wins in its last two games to become bowl-eligible. Good luck next week at … Michigan State.
“We have one choice and that’s to come out swinging,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Kansas fans stormed the field and kidnapped the goal posts after the Jayhawks ended a 27-game Big 12 winless streak with a 31-19 win over West Virginia. It was a big “finally” win for Kansas coach Charlie Weis, who once told his Notre Dame players they would have a “decided schematic advantage” because of his NFL experience.
Kansas cornerback JaCorey Shepherd said he didn’t know how to react to fans’ rushing the field. “I honestly didn’t even know what to do,” he said. “… I hope we get to experience that again.”
The game, apparently, was played on a triangle field: “We got beat on all three sides of the ball,” West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Boston College senior running back Andre Williams has gained 634 yards in his last two games against New Mexico State and North Carolina State. That’s more yards than he gained in any season before this one: 2010 (461), 2011 (517), 2012 (584).
Williams’ 339-yard effort against North Carolina State, however, wasn’t even the best rushing effort on Saturday. Cartel Brooks of Division III Heidelberg broke the NCAA record with 465 yards in a 42-14 win over Baldwin Wallace. That surpassed the record of 455 yards set three weeks earlier by Western Connecticut’s Octavias McKoy against Worcester State.
Kudos to Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher for making an unannounced hospital visit to check on Syracuse player Julian Whigham, injured during the Seminoles’ 59-3 win in Tallahassee. Whigham was coughing up blood after a first-quarter collision with a teammate and was taken off the field by ambulance. Whigham reportedly was in stable condition as he awaited more tests.
Bob Stoops recorded his 157th victory in Oklahoma’s 48-10 win over Iowa State, tying him for first on the school’s all-time list with Barry Switzer. “He was a special coach in his time,” Stoops said. Switzer led Oklahoma to three national titles and also won a Super Bowl as coach of the Dallas Cowboys.