Playoffs versus Polls - Week 13 Football

Kansas State College Football Collin Klein

Playoffs versus Polls - Week Thirteen


Rivalry Week took an interesting turn thanks to two of the worst performances by a team on the precipice of the National Championship in recent memory. First came Kansas State’s no show. I could have understood a shootout loss to Baylor. These things happen, Baylor’s offense is known to show potency, and KSU’s defense was playing a bit behind smoke and mirrors throughout the year. But to get blown out in week 12 of the season when you are sitting at number one in the nation is embarrassing. Collin Klein’s Heisman candidacy went out the door with Matt Ryan’s NFL MVP trophy this past weekend.

Next up were the Oregon Ducks. This team averages 51.5 points per game, good for second in the nation. They spread out opposing defenses and run all over them, averaging 313.5 rushing yards per contest, good for fifth in the country. And yet, against Stanford, they fell more than 100 yards below their season average and roughly five touchdowns behind their normal pace. When was the last time Oregon scored as few as 14 points in a game like they did this past Saturday against Stanford? It never happened last year; it didn’t happen in 2010 either. It hadn’t happened since the very first game of the 2009 season in fact. Oregon had the weight of championship expectations on their shoulders and got squished.

This leaves us, rather remarkably, with Alabama once again. It seemed impossible at the time of Bama’s loss but now, with a win in the conference championship, the Crimson Tide will find themselves right back in the title game they squandered just a week ago. Destiny is such a fickle beast.

And who Alabama’s opponent will be brings us back to Rivalry Week because nothing comes easy in Rivalry Week. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are first in everything: all polls and all computers. They have a commanding lead in the BCS. Really, a loss this coming weekend may not even be enough to deem them unworthy of a top two spot. But we know how voters’ minds work. A loss in October is way better than a loss after Thanksgiving. No one quite knows why but we all know it’s the case. Notre Dame’s rival is USC. This is the same USC who had title game aspirations of their own until their defense stumbled and they ended up losing to every ranked opponent they faced. Now, to make a dire situation direr, their all-world QB, Matt Barkley, will sit out the Notre Dame game with an injury. Everything is coming up clovers for the Fighting Irish. So why the hesitation?

Well, for one, Notre Dame now plays as the number one team in the nation: a heavy cross to bear. People fast for longer than Kansas State lasted as number one. In addition, the Irish have gotten very lucky in a few of their contests thus far, making 11-0 a bit flimsier than it may outwardly appear. Perhaps the most important factor here though is that USC is a ridiculously talented team. They have the best pair of receivers in the country. They have tremendous running backs and athletes all over their defense. Even without Matt Barkley it is possible USC is just better than Notre Dame. If that ends up being the case, the rest of the northern and western schools should follow in the footsteps of Maryland and Rutgers. They need to band together because no one is taking down this SEC behemoth on their own.

As a final aside, wouldn’t it have been fantastically ironic if Georgia ended up screwing themselves in a four-team playoff by making the SEC championship? They beat out Florida for the berth in the conference title game, lose to Alabama in said game and then get hopped by Florida for a playoff berth. I could see it now; the vitriol would be palatable. I cannot wait for 2014.


AOTM Predicted BCS Top Two:

(1) Notre Dame vs. (2) Alabama


AOTM Predicted Playoff Top Four:

(1) Notre Dame vs. (4) Stanford; (2) Alabama vs. (3) Florida


Week 13 Football – What to Watch For