Which conference is best? Not SEC
It took seven weeks, but the Southeastern Conference finally looks like the second-best conference in college football. Give it up for the Big 12, which, top to bottom, looks the heavyweight this year. While y'all mull over that, here's the lowdown on all the action this week:
• The Mountain West and Conference USA have decided to merge into a 22-member conference. Our first super conference was born because, apparently, two conferences that have only seven members sporting a winning record are deemed worthy to be called "super." This latest news line brings up an obvious question — what should this conference be called? Ryan Lambert (@rnlmbrt on Twitter) had the best idea yet, tweeting, "I believe the MWC-CUSA marriage will be known as Conference WTF."
Can we all get an "Amen" on this?
• Florida lost to Auburn, and Gators head coach Will Muschamp gets the Brian Kelly Award for excessive blood pressure spikes over a five-minute period. We won't repeat what coach said, but let's just say that his little outrage probably made his offensive coordinator Charlie Weis blush like a cheap bottle of Zinfandel. Auburn beat Florida 17-6, and we have now come to that point in the season where we've discovered that Auburn isn't very good but they've been lucky enough to play those worse-off than them so far.
In fact, the entire SEC East as a whole looks like a kettle of codfish — not very tasty, but throw in potatoes, cream and some spices, and you've got a decent bowl of chowder that keeps you sated until the filet mignon gets served up. Oh, go ahead and preach about the comeback Georgia has made, but stick this in your packet of oyster crackers — the Bulldogs have beaten Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. This is progress? Beating four teams that do not possess a winning record among them?
South Carolina is the East's other contender, but its looks just as lost without Stephen Garcia as it did with Garcia, and the Gamecocks may be without the services of Marcus Lattimore, who injured his leg against Mississippi State.
Memo to SEC fans: You have two good teams, and the rest will be fighting for late December bowls against decent Big Ten teams and lousy Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The era of dominance is about to end after LSU or Alabama kicks the unfortunate souls' fannies who have to play them in the BCS championship. Until then, we worship you as always.
In the meantime, South Carolina ticked off a lot of gamblers loitering in Las Vegas' sports books by taking a safety on the last play of its game against Mississippi State. The Gamecocks were leading by four points — and covering the spread — but ended up winning by only two points and failing to cover the spread on the last play.
• The Big 12 looks better than the SEC from top to bottom. You have one bad team — the Mangino-less Kansas Jayhawks — but everybody else looks good to go. The biggest story is Kansas State. The Wildcats don't scare anyone offensively, but they are a force. And it's a pleasant surprise to watch such a fundamentally sound team on defense, special teams and, yes, offense. They are a complete team that takes care of the little things, and it will be a shame if they're not ranked in the top 10 after they beat Texas Tech 41-34 on the road.
Oklahoma rolled Kansas 47-17, and, in the process, Ryan Broyles set the NCAA record for career receptions, at 317. Baylor couldn't keep up with Texas A&M, Missouri manhandled Iowa State and Oklahoma State beat Texas.
• If you avoided watching Friday Night Frights because you thought a Friday night game wouldn't be entertaining, well, you're wrong — watching men play hot potato with a football when there are no weather-related issues can be both mildly amusing and ridiculous at the same time. Hawaii and San Jose State battled it out in a game that featured 12 turnovers — six for each team — with five of them committed by Hawaii in the first half. The Warriors out-(dim)witted the Spartans, losing 28-27, thus ending Hawaii's tour of San Jose and starting its long trip back home to paradise.
• Wisconsin was a 40-point favorite over Indiana and as expected, Indiana didn't disappoint us — at one point in the game, Hoosiers punter (name withheld out of embarrassment, but feel free to look it up) made a rugby-style punt for exactly one yard. If you have to describe Indiana football in one play, that pretty much sums it up, but the final score is probably a better way: 59-7.
• Michigan State decided to show off its new uniforms in its battle with Michigan. Fashion highlights included names on the backs of jerseys that no one could decipher and ugly uniforms that were apparently raided 10 years ago from the Oregon Ducks' mothballed nests. But ugly does win in the Big Ten, and Michigan State won like a true heavyweight prize-fighter — scratch that, the Spartans won ugly like William Gholston's right hook to Michigan's Taylor Lewan.
• Ohio State got its first pass completion of the game in the fourth quarter against Illinois and ended up beating the Fighting Zookers 17-7. Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller went 1 for 4 for 17 yards, and even the most die-hard Woody Hayes loyalists were . . . thrilled? Ecstatic? Waiting for the one pass completion game to be replayed on the Spice Channel? BOOM.
• Do you get the feeling that the New Mexico Lobos think they're in the NFL and if they keep losing games they'll get the No. 1 pick? FINAL: Nevada 49, New Mexico 7.
• Georgia Tech has been silenced this week. The Virginia Cavaliers upset the Yellow Jackets 24-21, thereby throwing the Atlantic Coast Conference into its usual SNAFU, albeit this time a few weeks earlier than usual. Apologists will say this just means that it's very difficult to win in the ACC because everyone beats everyone else up, but let's stop this nonsense right now — you're not the SEC, and both Duke and Virginia are still contenders in the Coastal. In football.
Clemson is still undefeated after beating a feisty Maryland 56-45, so I guess this means the vigil over when they'll implode will roll over until they play North Carolina next week. Virginia Tech came storming back after being down 10-0 to Wake Forest in the first quarter and posted a 38-17 victory. Miami beat Duke 30-24 and nobody noticed. Not even their own fans.
• Pac-12 action was mind-blowing. Washington State came storming out of Pullman rocking primer-gray uniforms with cul-de-sac-gray helmets against Stanford. So about those gray uniforms: On a single player, those unis aren't so bad. On a bunch of players, it looks like an empty COSTCO parking lot.
The Cardinal dispatched the Cougars 44-14. Like previous weeks, we expect the Cardinal to fall in the AP poll but rise in the BCS poll because, after all, most of the voters were probably in bed when the game ended. Or maybe they just don't give a damn.
The Oregon Ducks hosted the Arizona Sun Devils in a late-night game, and for awhile, it looked as though Sparky would stay even with the Ducks. In fact, the Sun Devils hung with the Ducks for three quarters, down only 35-24 after three quarters. But this is Sun Devils football folks, and for those of you who are aren't familiar with how this works, just take a look at Georgia football over the past few years and add less expectations but more heartbreak. FINAL: The Quack Attack 41 Fear the Fork 27.
• The Big East — like the rest of the BCS teams — played almost all of its games on Saturday and because of this scheduling mistake, no one really watched their games. We can tell you Louisville lost, Pitt lost, South Florida lost and Rutgers barely won. In other words, status quo. One other note: Boise State, don't do it.
• I'm out like Memphis' 10-7 halftime lead over East Carolina. (FINAL: East Carolina 35, Memphis 17).