Making sense of the BCS title, Heisman and conference races
NOV 24, 2013 2:30a ET
Baylor fizzles, Manziel sputters, Winston … Winston waits.
It might not have been the most scintillating college football weekend, but all of a sudden, the national title picture has become clearer, the Heisman chase has become more muddled and the conference championship matchups are now cut and dry.
Here’s what it all means.
The BCS Championship Picture
- Going into the weekend, the big storyline was whether or not Baylor would move past Ohio State into the No. 3 spot if it could beat Oklahoma State. It didn’t have to be an impressive victory; it just had to be a good, sound road win over a team that was a gag against West Virginia away from being unbeaten. One 49-17 Cowboy blasting later, and now Baylor is about to sink like a stone in the BCS and is out of the national title hunt.
- Ohio State waltzed past Indiana 42-14. Now the Buckeyes are a firm No. 3 with no worries whatsoever about anyone moving past them. If Auburn beats Alabama next week, or if Florida State is shocked by a Florida team that lost to Georgia Southern or in the ACC championship, Urban Meyer’s team will play for it all.
- Missouri has had one bad quarter all year, losing late to South Carolina, and has blown away everyone else by double digits. Currently eighth in the BCS standings, ranking doesn’t matter. With Baylor losing, if Ohio State loses to Michigan or Michigan State, or if Florida State stumbles, the Tigers – both the Missouri and Auburn versions – will control their own BCS destiny. The other Tigers – the Clemson kind – would be lapped by a one-loss SEC champion. First, though, Mizzou has to beat Texas A&M next week.
- The biggest key to the whole puzzle could be South Carolina. The Gamecocks play Clemson next week and could end up playing Alabama in the SEC title game if Missouri loses to Texas A&M. If Clemson beats South Carolina, and South Carolina beats the Crimson Tide, Clemson’s standing with the computers would shoot through the roof.
- Oklahoma State and Clemson are alive thanks to Oregon’s blowout loss to Arizona. If Missouri loses to Texas A&M and Auburn loses to Alabama, going into Championship Weekend, the BCS rankings would probably be 1) Alabama 2) Florida State 3) Ohio State and then Clemson and Oklahoma State will battle for the No. 4 spot. The unbeatens have to start falling, but all of a sudden, the landscape has changed for the one-loss teams.
The Heisman Race
- With Bryce Petty and Baylor getting their doors blown off in Stillwater, any chance at a second Bear winning the Heisman in three years went bye-bye.
- Johnny Manziel? The shot at being the second two-time winner ended in Baton Rouge by completing 16-of-41 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown with two picks in the blowout loss to LSU.
- Marcus Mariota? He completed 27-of-41 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns with two picks, but his candidacy was on life support before Oregon got obliterated by Arizona.
- Jamies Winston? He might have been fantastic taking target practice against Idaho, and he’d be one of the all-time runaway winners under normal circumstances, but with the controversy around him swirling, either he’ll be charged with a crime, all but eliminating him from the Heisman, or he won’t be charged and, fair or not, he’ll still be involved in a messy situation as the alleged victim’s lawyer probably won’t let the scandal die. Either way, unless something out of the blue pops up to unequivocally clear him of any part of this, he’ll likely be left off of many ballots. Part of the Heisman’s mission statement involves integrity, and a bulk of the voters are going to take that literally depending on what happens in the next two weeks.
- Really? AJ McCarron? Going by NFL draft status, Alabama’s starting quarterback isn’t one of the 10 best players on his own team, and there’s a chance he doesn’t earn First Team All-SEC honors if Johnny Manziel is great against Missouri, but depending on what happens with Winston’s situation, there might not be any other options. Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois will receive more attention, and some will start to make the case for Fresno State’s Derek Carr, but if McCarron is outstanding against Auburn – especially if he comes up with a dramatic, game-winning drive – the SEC championship could be nothing more than a Heisman version of the ceremonial final stage of the Tour de France.
The Conference Championship Situations
- American: UCF all but has it in the bag needing to beat either South Florida or SMU to win the title. If the Knights lose to the miserable Bulls and can’t get it done against the Mustangs, the winner of the Louisville-Cincinnati game will get the AAC’s automatic invite.
- ACC: Florida State has won the Atlantic Division. Duke will win the Coastal if it beats North Carolina. If Duke loses, it could get really messy unless Virginia Tech beats Virginia. If the Hokies beat the Cavaliers, they’ll have only one loss in Coastal play, with two of their losses coming to Boston College and Maryland. If Duke loses, it’ll have two division losses (Pitt and North Carolina), Georgia Tech has two (Miami and Virginia Tech), Miami has two (Virginia Tech and Duke) and North Carolina has three (Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia Tech).
- Big 12: With the wins already over Baylor and Texas, Oklahoma State will go to the Fiesta Bowl if it beats Oklahoma. If the Sooners beat the Cowboys, the Baylor-Texas winner will take the Big 12 title if the Longhorns beat Texas Tech on Thanksgiving.
- Big Ten: Ohio State won the Leaders, and Michigan State won the Legends.
- Conference USA: The East Carolina-Marshall winner will take the East. In the West, Rice wins if it beats Tulane. Tulane wins if it beats Rice and UTSA loses to Louisiana Tech. If Tulane and UTSA win, then after the tie-breakers, UTSA would win the division because of its head-to-head victory over Tulane.
- MAC: The Bowling Green-Buffalo winner will take the East. Northern Illinois won the West.
- Mountain West: Utah State wins the Mountain with a win over Wyoming and/or a Boise State loss. Boise State wins the Mountain if it beats New Mexico and Utah State loses. Fresno State won the West.
- Pac-12: Stanford won the North, and Arizona State won the South.
- SEC: Missouri wins the East if it beats Texas A&M, and South Carolina wins if the Aggies beat the Tigers. The Alabama-Auburn winner wins the West.
- Sun Belt – Louisiana-Lafayette wins if it wins one of its last two games against ULM and South Alabama. Arkansas State wins if it beats WKU and ULL loses both its final two games.