Week 13 Story Lines From Around the Country

Kirk Irwin

Taking stock of how the final weekend went for conferences that aren't the SEC.

The SEC regular season closed up shop with a pretty good final weekend. There were some big non-conference wins and some big statements made in rivalry games. We've got plenty on that, though. Let's see what everyone else was up to.

The ACC got put in its place.

I said we were going to talk about the conferences that aren't the SEC here, but it's impossible to extract it from the miserable weekend the ACC had. There were four big games between the two leagues, and all of them came up big for the SEC. Georgia thoroughly destroyed Georgia Tech, meaning the Yellow Jackets now have to win the ACC and go to the Orange Bowl or miss out on bowl season altogether. Florida put down FSU in a fairly convincing fashion, humbling the team that is likely the league's best. Clemson got to face a shorthanded South Carolina team in its Death Valley, and it lost by 10. Wake Forest needed a win over Vandy to get bowl eligible, but it was barely competitive in a 34-point loss. The best news all weekend for the league was Virginia Tech eking out a 3-point win over UVA to get its sixth win. Yeah, it was that kind of weekend for the ACC.

The Big 12 had some exciting finishes.

There were only four Big 12 games this past weekend, but they all had close finishes. TCU held on to beat Texas 20-13 on Thanksgiving, with a Longhorns comeback falling short at the end. West Virginia and Iowa State traded the lead several times in the second half before WVU ended up on top 31-24. The two Saturday games were overtime shootout thrillers. Baylor and Texas Tech finished 52-45 in the Bears' favor in overtime, while Bedlam ended 51-48 in Oklahoma's favor over Oklahoma State. Excitement is one thing this league does well.

The Big Ten collected some bowl bids, finally.

Ohio State survived Michigan 26-21 to complete the Terry Bowden Special of going undefeated while under a bowl ban. Unless Nebraska's 13-7 victory over Iowa to get to 10 wins excites you (and seek help, if it does), the other major story in the conference was a few bowl bids getting earned. Purdue blew out Indiana to get to six wins, while Michigan State collected its sixth win by beating Minnesota. Northwestern did finish a nice year with its ninth win in a 50-14 blowout over hapless Illinois. Lest that warm your heart too much, Wisconsin lost in overtime 24-21 to Penn State to ensure that there's a 7-5 participant in the Big Ten Championship Game. Fun times ahead in Indianapolis.

The Pac-12 had a pretty down weekend.

The conference out west didn't have as bad a weekend as the ACC did, don't get me wrong. However, not a whole lot went its way as a whole. Washington had established itself on the right side of the ranked/unranked divide, but then it went and lost to a really bad Washington State team. The same goes for Arizona, which lost its rivalry game to Arizona State. USC wasn't able to play spoiler against Notre Dame thanks to being outmatched and some truly puzzling coaching decisions from Lane Kiffin. Stanford also took out UCLA to end Chip Kelly's reign of terror over the conference, but that means two not-so-great things. One, the league's best national title contender won't even play in the conference championship game, and two, we get a rematch of Stanford-UCLA next week. Boy, I can't wait to skip that one.

The computers probably won't let Boise State bust the BCS, but there could be MACtion.

The rules state that a conference champion from a non-AQ conference can get an automatic BCS bid by finishing in the top 16 and being ahead of the champion from one of the AQ leagues. Boise State will probably finish ahead of the Big East champ, and it could finish ahead of the Big Ten champ too if Wisconsin knocks off Nebraska next week. Looking at this week's early projections, it appears that the computer polls will keep the Broncos out of the top 16. This is a good thing. While BSU has absolutely earned some BCS bids in the past, this year's team definitely hasn't. Fresno State is the best team it has beaten, and it lost to 6-6 Michigan State in its only game against AQ competition.

With that said, it also appears that there are two MAC teams within striking distance of giving that conference its first BCS bid. Kent State and Northern Illinois are both 11-1 and will face off in the MAC Championship Game next weekend. They are also neck-and-neck with BSU in the BCS standings, but they both will have far better computer rankings. The victor of that game will have a great chance of finishing at No. 16 if UCLA and Texas both lose as expected next weekend. It's hard to say either has a strong case for the BCS; Kent State got blown out by Kentucky and NIU lost to a dreadful Iowa team by a point in Week 1. KSU did beat potential Big East champ Rutgers, though.

Anyway, this is a big race to watch because of how the BCS selection process works this year. The rotation goes Fiesta-Sugar-Orange, so the Sugar might very well be deciding between one of these teams and the Big East champ for Florida's opponent there.

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