The following statements are facts, not pipe dreams: The SEC’s string of national titles is still very much alive; A freshman could win the Heisman Trophy; An all-SEC BCS title game could happen (again); The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party could move to Miami for one night in January; Mike Slive smiled Saturday night; Notre Dame is the No. 1 football team in the United State of America.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s whirlwind of action — a once-mundane weekend slate turned Quentin Tarantino-esque — nothing was the same. With No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon losing to Baylor and Stanford, respectively, the national title picture was flipped upside down as only college football’s can. The SEC was alive. Notre Dame was in position to wake up the echoes.
Hope was reborn for one-loss teams nationwide.
If the season were to end today, Notre Dame and Alabama, two of the nation’s most storied programs, would play for the BCS Championship trophy in Miami.
But the season is not over, as the Irish still need to play talented but dysfunctional USC squad and Alabama still needs to win the Iron Bowl (go ahead and sharpie that win) and then the SEC Championship game against Georgia (not a given). In the meantime, a multitude of SEC teams, most notably the East division-winning Bulldogs, still have an outside shot at the title. Hell, if Notre Dame falters and Georgia steals the SEC title game, rivals Georgia and Florida (the No. 4 team in the BCS, which still needs to beat Florida State) could play for it all.
If that seems ridiculous and crazy, think what has transpired in the past 24 hours. Could Georgia Tech or Auburn knock off an SEC favorite? Could Florida State — somehow, some way — back door the BCS selection process?
(Cue Kevin Garnett’s “Anything is possiblllllleeeee.”)
So it seems.
GOOD KID, M.A.A.D RACE
In last Friday’s Any Given Saturday, the Suspects said if Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, just a freshman, were to win the Heisman, K-State quarterback Collin Klein would need to stumble.
Not only did Klein struggle against previously 4-5 Baylor — throwing 23 incomplete passes, including three picks — but the Wildcats lost for the first time in 2012, knocking them out of the national title race for good. Klein had not posted jaw-dropping numbers in recent weeks, but the theory went that if he kept trudging his team along to Miami (and continued his high level of proficiency) he would hoist the trophy. Not anymore.
An under-recruited frosh still not even allowed to speak to media members is the leader, and we’re just about two weeks away from that blasphemy — A FRESHMAN? — coming to fruition.
Manziel became just the fifth quarterback in FBS history to pass for at least 3,000 yards and rush for at least 1,000 yards in a single season this weekend. He is the first freshman to pull off the feat. In an unpredictable season without a clear-cut frontrunner, he is suddenly the sexy choice, even if he hasn’t dazzled against top-rated competition other than Alabama.
Right now, Heisman ballots basically consist of Manziel, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o (a linebacker), Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (ineligible for postseason), Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (no “Heisman moment” or big-time win) and Klein. Others have outside shots, but those are the favorites.
And no one is surging toward New York faster than Johnny Football.
Silent, but relentless.