After two duds last year, Alabama and LSU really delivered the goods last night. As remarkable a game as it was, football things did happen outside of Louisiana and, in some cases, the whole southeast yesterday. I know; I can't believe it either. Let's go over the evidence.
The ACC is still two giants and a bunch of garbage.
Clemson thrashed Duke to further solidify itself at the top of the league next to idle Florida State. Beyond that, it was a set of results that are ultimately more depressing than anything. Quarterback-less Maryland lost by 20 to Georgia Tech (who got blown out by MTSU) with a linebacker playing under center. NC State, which gave FSU its only loss, got absolutely hammered by the previously winless-in-the-league Virginia. Virginia Tech's fall continued with a loss to Miami, which might have to give up the ACC title game berth it's in line for if it chooses to or is forced to take a postseason ban. The only ray of sunshine was Wake Forest inching closer to bowl eligibility by making BC bowl ineligible. ACC football: feel the excitement.
The Big 12 is going through reorganizations.
Kansas State is still the class of the conference, outlasting but never really putting Oklahoma State away 44-30. Oklahoma also took out Iowa State 35-20 to remain in second place. After that, we've got some shuffling. TCU stunned West Virginia 39-38 in double overtime, surely dropping a league team from the polls. Texas also reasserted itself, knocking off Texas Tech 31-22 and suddenly adding a large element of confusion to the standings. The shuffling around will confuse may voters' strength of schedule impressions, assuming they pay attention to SOS at all. In other news, poor Baylor finally was able to pick up its first league win of the season, but it had to play Kansas to get it.
The Big Ten actually has some interesting races.
The Ms, Ns, and Iowa Division race heated up with today's action. Nebraska retained its lead when a late touchdown worked to defeat Michigan State, while Michigan beat Minnesota with ease despite being without Denard Robinson to be in position if the Huskers stumble again. In That Other Division Without the M Teams and N Teams, the two postseason ineligible squads stayed strong with Ohio State stomping Illinois and Penn State cruising over Purdue. Among teams that can actually play for the division title, Indiana stayed in control of its own destiny by beating Iowa. The Hoosiers will be in prime position to win that side of the league if they beat Wisconsin next week. They do still have Penn State after, but Wisconsin has PSU and OSU still to come. The tie breaker would be very big for IU.
The Pac-12 teams are back to being pinball wizards.
For a while it looked like this conference was settling down, handing the crazy high-scoring reputation off to the Big 12. Well, this season they're back, baby. The two flagship programs staged a big time shootout, with Oregon surviving USC 62-51. The teams combined for 1,345 total yards in the game. UCLA smoked Arizona 66-10 just one week after the Wildcats knocked off the Trojans. Utah put up 49 in a rout of Washington State, and Stanford ran up 48 points of its own in demolishing Colorado. Oregon State's 36-26 win over Arizona State is what counts as moderation these days, with only Washington's 21-13 win over Cal on Friday fitting in the low-scoring range.
Everything's coming up LA Tech.
After devoting this section to Boise State last week, the Broncos went out and lost to San Diego State 21-19. That loss will end their dark horse BCS chances. The only other non-AQ team in the polls last week was No. 25 Louisiana Tech, who cruised past I-A newcomer Texas-San Antonio late last night. The Bulldogs from Ruston are the only chance that the non-AQ ranks have of making a BCS bowl this year, but they're going to need some help. They have no one notable on the schedule left, so they don't really have a good shot of finishing at No. 14 or better in the poll to trigger a bid.
Tech's best chance is to finish above an AQ conference champ in the final BCS standings, which would put them in a big money game by rule. This year the Big Ten champ is the most likely to finish below LTU, but with Nebraska ranked and climbing, the Bulldogs have to root for some chaos. The Huskers losing to Penn State next week would help, and Indiana somehow winning the league outright would do the trick for sure. It's been a while since we didn't have a non-AQ team in the BCS in consecutive years, so it's remarkable that we're down to just one option this "early" in the season.
Update: LA Tech is all the way up to 18 in the new Coaches' Poll, just two spots behind Nebraska. They won't pass Nebraska without the Huskers losing in the polls, but they're closer than I thought they'd be. With a little computer magic, who knows?