The BCS national championship is an establishment honor. Look at the list of national champions over the past 16 years. Tennessee, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma Miami, LSU, Texas Florida, Alabama, Auburn and USC are the upper crust of the elite in college football.
The establishment remains in control of college football. The surprising upstart underdogs like Baylor were the final group of innovative outsiders encroaching on the BCS national championship’s exclusive club membership. Baylor didn’t belong on the brink of a BCS title. It lacks the history, prestige and booster support to earn enough karma to survive the regular season undefeated. It took millions of dollars, Nike’s funding and 20 years for Oregon to accomplish what Baylor nearly did in Briles’ six years. On the day after Thanksgiving Day 2010, Nevada kept Boise State from sneaking into the big boys’ national title game. In 2011, Iowa State crushed Oklahoma State’s dreams.
The BCS is a lot like The Matrix. We think it’s just a series of random formulas spitting out rankings, but in truth, college football teams live and operate in the Matrix.
The turf monster that tripped up Bryce Petty as he ran unimpeded for a touchdown were part of the same psychic force that forced Kyle Brotzman to miss two kicks against Nevada two years ago.
Offensively, Baylor was in the Matrix. Defensively, they weren’t a stone wall unit like Bama or Florida State, but they were able to be malleable enough to dodge fatal bullets.
On Saturday, Oklahoma State presented the Baylor Bears with an overdose of reality. Baylor took the red pill and discovered they weren’t The One. They were just a glitch that was swiftly dealt with.
Kansas State’s 47th-ranked defense was the best unit Baylor faced this season until Oklahoma State’s 48th-ranked defense shredded the Baylor offense.
Kansas State provided the blueprint for freezing Baylor’s offense by stuffing the run and dominating the time of possession.
Nearly two months ago, Kansas State held onto the ball for 35 minutes and held the Bears to below 115 yards rushing. On Saturday, Baylor gained just 94 yards and 2.6 yards per carry against the Cowboys. It was a precipitous drop from the over 300 yards per game they were averaging prior.
Don’t be fooled by the 359 yards passing produced by Bryce Petty. He is a great college quarterback, but against the Cowboys we discovered he is not a Heisman Trophy candidate. Once Oklahoma State lassoed Baylor’s rushing attack, Petty couldn’t make the downfield throws to stretch Oklahoma State’s defense. When the time came for him to make a completion on third or fourth and long, he either overthrew the receiver by a few Tebows or bailed from the pocket too early only to get consumed after a short gain.
Their goal line fumbles and inability to convert in short-yardage situations were eerily reminiscent of Oregon’s goal line issues against Stanford two weeks ago. Baylor will be back, but they have to keep building and paying their dues. When Baylor's riches-to-rags story began they were the program sleeping in the back of a van and playing in a junkyard for a stadium. Fortunately, it appears Briles will be around much longer to oversee the continued transition of their program into a member of the elite.
Oregon Ran Their Mouths, Left the Football Behind
The only running Oregon’s potent rushing attack did was leading up to the game when running back De’Anthony Thomas bumped his gums about how old hat the Rose Bowl was. Wish granted.
For two-thirds of the college football season, Oregon seemed to be moving quicker, more efficiently and smarter on both sides of the football than they ever had with Chip Kelly. However, upon further inspection, Oregon wasn’t as effective against physical defensive fronts
One of the nation’s top running backs outgained Oregon’s running back by committee on his own. If the Heisman committee is struggling to identify invitees for its prestigious award ceremony/television event, they should have been paying attention to Arizona's Ka’Deem Carey. Carey led the nation is rushing as a sophomore and he hasn’t missed a step in his junior campaign since being suspended for the season opener.
Dressed like a large red sharpie, Carey rushed for over 200 yards and four touchdowns in a shockingly lopsided defeat of the Ducks.
Andre Williams is the nation’ leading rusher, but only Carey has rushed for triple digits in each of his starts this season despite having one of the least threatening signal callers in the nation with him in the pocket. Rich Rod is a year away from guiding the Wildcats to Pac-12 championship contention, but Saturday was a reminder of why the Pac-12 South is considered the second-toughest division in the nation behind the SEC West.
Manziel Can’t Outrun The Mustang
Even in a down year, LSU and their Mustang package are one of the nation’s best at defending mobile quarterbacks. Manziel’s struggles against LSU continued Saturday when he played himself out of the Heisman discussion. Defensive coordinator John Chavis may not have the depth of experienced NFL-ready defenders he's had in year's past, but A&M's 3-2-6 Mustang package featuring quick six DBs, two linebackers and three down lineman was enough to contain Manziel for the second year in a row. The Tigers neutered Manziel and held him to a 39 percent completion percentage and one touchdown, in addition to a pair of interceptions and 54 rushing yards in a 41-10 shellacking of the Aggies.
As voters vacillated between voting for Jameis Winston with a potential sexual assault cloud raining over his head, Manziel was becoming the favorite for voters to lean back on. Manziel struggled against LSU as a freshman as well, but the bar was set higher this season. Now those voters will have to look elsewhere and get more creative than just "insert name of quarterback for undefeated team here."
Every year, the members of the undefeated ’72 Miami Dolphins celebrate after the NFL’s final undefeated team is defeated. Archie Griffin can breathe easy and consume some libations because if Manziel goes pro after this season as we’ve suspected since spring, he’ll remain the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy.
Rise of the Sun Devils In The South
The fall of Baylor and Oregon was countered by the rise of Arizona State. This time, no help from the officials was needed for Arizona State to finish off the Bruins and inch them closer to an automatic Rose Bowl berth. UCLA was the pleasant surprise of last season’s Pac-12 South, but things are starting to get a little crowded in the division. Pac-12 North champion Stanford will have just as many losses and much more hype. We can go back in time and debate the Wisconsin win, but Todd Graham has done yeoman’s work with this program in two years.
Taylor Kelly will be a fringe Heisman candidate when he returns for his senior campaign in 2014 and although he’s not as discussed as UCLA's Anthony Barr, defensive tackle Will Sutton may be the most talented defensive player outside of Jadeveon Clowney. It sounded like a bit of a reach at the time, but this is exactly why head coach Todd Graham is hands off for Texas' new athletic director.
Man on Fire: Who caught fire in Week 13?
If Andre Williams isn't at the Heisman ceremony there should be a class-action lawsuit filed yesterday on behalf of all running backs. Williams' 263 yards rushing against Maryland gives him an average of 299 rushing yards in his last three games.
Georgia's Injury Bug Saved Its Best Victim For Last
— SB Nation (@sbnation) November 24, 2013
Hopefully, this puts some of his pain at ease.
The University of Florida pic.twitter.com/2mZexXnC2u
— Adam Stawara (@AdamStawara) November 25, 2013