Drama missing from rivalries
It was Rivalry Weekend.
Plenty of games with lots at stake, along with all the pomp and pageantry that college football has to offer.
Well, the atmosphere, from Alabama to California and from Wisconsin to South Carolina, might have reached the standard, but for the most part the competitive nature of the games didn’t make the cut.
Oh, there were some great moments, such as Texas’s last-second field goal to beat Texas A&M, 27-25, Thanksgiving night, in the last game between the archrivals for the foreseeable future. When Texas A&M moves to the Southeastern Conference next season, the Aggies could be finishing their season with Arkansas, which won’t be the same.
And Michigan ended a solid if not spectacular regular season with its first win over Ohio State in seven years. The 40-34 victory Saturday gave first-year coach Brady Hoke’s team 10 wins and a probable Bowl Championship Series berth in the Sugar Bowl. Rich who?
But that was pretty much it in terms of entertainment.
What we had the rest of the weekend was a bunch of games that made one make sure the batteries were working in the remote. Consider:
South Carolina 34, Clemson 13 - Clemson has settled back into its routine of disappointing its fans’ great expectations. The Tigers will play in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Virginia Tech with a berth in the Orange Bowl on the line. Clemson won the regular-season meeting, 23-3, in Blacksburg. Don’t count on that happening again.
Louisiana State 41, Arkansas 17 - Friday’s game, for supremacy in the Southeastern Conference’s West Division, was close for a half. LSU actually trailed, 14-0. But the No. 1 team in the country came back. A win in the SEC title game next week, or even a close loss, and LSU will be in the BCS title game in New Orleans in a rematch against Alabama. LSU is 12-0 for the first time in its history.
Alabama 42, Auburn 14 - Paybacks are painful. Alabama, mindful of blowing a lead and a chance for the national championship a year ago against Auburn in Tuscaloosa, took care of business quickly with a 24-7 halftime lead (just like last year), which was more than enough this time. The Tide’s Trent Richardson rushed for 203 yards, which kept his Heisman Trophy hopes alive.
Virginia Tech 38, Virginia 0 - Some people thought Virginia had a chance in this game at Charlottesville. Virginia Tech is always tough in November, usually December, and sometimes in January.
Stanford 28, Notre Dame 14 - Stanford took a 21-0 halftime lead and Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes. That was more than enough to handle the Irish. Stanford will play its next game in New Orleans or Arizona in a BCS game, and Notre Dame will head to Orlando for a Champs Bowl meeting with Florida State.
Oregon 49, Oregon State 21 - This was a mismatch from the start. The Ducks need only to beat UCLA at home next week in the inaugural Pac-12 title game and they will be in the Rose Bowl against the winner of the inaugural Big Ten title game between Michigan State and Wisconsin. How bad was this Civil War mismatch? Oregon had 670 yards of total offense, Oregon State 315.
Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 17 - It was a close game for a half, but Georgia is a very good team right now and LSU will have to pay attention next week in the SEC title game or it will get bitten by these suddenly nasty Dawgs.
Wisconsin 45, Penn State 7 - The winner was going to make it to that Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. For a quarter, embattled Penn State had some hope with a 7-7 tie. But then Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball started playing and it was all over. Penn State should shut it down for the season and regroup for next year until the Jerry Sandusky mess starts to sort itself out. The Wisconsin-Michigan State rematch (the Spartans took a last-second 37-31 win in the first game) will be worth watching. So will the Rose Bowl, with Oregon vs. the Wisconsin-Michigan State winner.
USC 50, UCLA 0 - Ouch. UCLA is the Pac-12 South title winner, which means a spanking in Oregon next week in the championship game, and with that Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel probably will be the ex-Bruins coach by this time next week. Southern California is on probation and not going anywhere, but quarterback Matt Barkley is going to get some Heisman Trophy votes before he heads to the NFL.
The BCS bowls won’t be officially announced until next week, but a good guess right now would be:
BCS title game - LSU vs. Alabama.
Sugar - Michigan vs. Houston.
Rose - Wisconsin vs. Oregon.
Orange - West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech.
Fiesta - Oklahoma State. vs. Stanford.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.