One season after the Irish pulled off a thrilling overtime victory against the Cardinal, No. 8 Stanford welcomes No. 25 Notre Dame to The Farm on Saturday night with payback in mind.
As the regular season closes, a rivalry that's taken on added importance to both schools will write another chapter for the 24th time in the last 26 seasons.
The postseason fate of both teams has already been decided. The Cardinal will take on Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship while the Irish wait for the dust to settle before sliding into a bowl game. But each team could nonetheless benefit from a victory on Saturday.
A win for Stanford would put it over 10 wins for a fourth straight year. A win for Notre Dame would mark 21 victories for the Irish in the past two seasons, matching their best two-season total since 1992-93.
On a weekend filled with rivalries, can Stanford's nerds get revenge? Here's everything you need to know before the Irish and Cardinal kick it off.
When: Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Place: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif.
Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Ch. 129
Spread: Stanford -14
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
The Duel in the Desert, the annual battle between Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) and Arizona State (9-2, 7-1) for the Territorial Cup, has some added importance when the teams meet Saturday night in Tempe.
ASU, having already clinched the Pac-12's South Division, can host next week's conference championship game against Stanford with another victory. As if Arizona needed additional motivation to beat the team its lost to at home the last two times the game was in Tucson.
Both teams are headed to a bowl game, as was the case last season, but where each ends up will be heavily influenced by the outcome of the 87th meeting between the Grand Canyon State's two biggest schools.
When: Saturday, Nov. 30, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: Arizona IMG Radio Network; MidFirst Bank Sun Devil-IMG Radio Network
Line: Arizona State is favored by 12 points, according to VegasInsider.com.
This might be it.
With the regular season coming to a close, and with EA’s NCAA Football franchise taking a hiatus for the foreseeable future, this will likely be the final regular-season simulation.
We’ll be back for conference championship week and the bowl season, of course, but Week 14 marks the beginning of the end. Given the slate of games on tap, this is a fitting way to go out.
For those stopping by for the first time, here’s the rundown: Using NCAA Football 14, all games from the college football weekend are simulated. These results are not doctored with in any way, and they are reported here.
Last weekend, the world’s greatest video game went 4-1 in spotlight games headlined with the prediction of an Oklahoma State victory. This weekend, it plans to top such efforts, and it’s convinced that some of the weekend’s biggest games won’t be close at all.
Let's get to it.
Updated Record Through Week 13: 41-25
Last week’s results
No. 6 Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC) beat The Citadel 52-6.
South Carolina (9-2, 6-2 SEC) beat Coastal Carolina 70-10.
Can Clemson and Dabo Swinney snap the South Carolina hex?
Dabo Swinney has accomplished plenty in his five seasons as Clemson’s full-time head coach. He has 50 wins. He has an ACC title. He has won or shared three ACC Atlantic Division titles. Clemson has three consecutive 10-win seasons, the program’s longest streak since 1987-90, and has been ranked in the Top 10 for 14 consecutive weeks, the longest streak in program history.
But one nagging problem remains. Since a 31-14 win in 2008 that sealed his elevation from interim to full-time leader, Swinney is 0-4 against South Carolina. All four losses have come by double digits, with last season’s 27-17 South Carolina win Clemson’s closest margin.
The Gamecocks are currently riding their longest win streak in the series, tying their run from 1951-54; a win Saturday would be an unprecedented (for USC) fifth straight in the series.
Swinney says wins over South Carolina don’t define his legacy, but he’s well aware of the streak and badly wants to break it.
“That’s why they call it bragging rights,” he said. “We’ve got to live with this one. Everybody in the state lives with it. Everybody wants those bragging rights. They’ve been the better team. They’ve outplayed us and outcoached us. We’ve got to play to our full potential. That’s what we’ve not done, and we have to get it done.”
Swinney says his team simply must be more consistent to emerge from Columbia victorious.
“I think we’ve had a great year,” he said. “The thing for me, I want to see us play well. People don’t like it when I say that, but I’m not focused on the scoreboard. I’m more concerned with how we play. I know if we play the right way consistently, the scoreboard takes care of itself.”
Can the Tigers’ offensive line contain Jadeveon Clowney?
Clowney, South Carolina’s standout junior defensive end, was unstoppable a year ago. He had 4.5 sacks, a Memorial Stadium record, and terrorized All-ACC left tackle Brandon Thomas as well as the rest of Clemson’s offensive line.
Clowney has struggled with injuries and inconsistency: He has only two sacks through nine games after piling up 13.5 a year ago. But you’d better believe he still has Clemson’s respect.
“He’s a great player,” Swinney said. “I don’t care what the numbers say. He’s a load to handle. He is as advertised. He’s very talented. Incredibly disruptive. We have to have a plan for him.”
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris suggested this week that his offense would use a tight end or tailback more often to help Thomas block and "chip" Clowney. Thomas has studied 2012’s film and feels like he is better prepared for another meeting.
“You study your film, your past film, so you can correct things,” he said. “I did some things well and I didn’t do some things well. Looking to this year, I’m going to look back at that film and try and correct some things.”
He also feels he has improved overall from a year ago.
“I think it’s being more physical,” he said. “Last year I don’t think I was as physical as I am now. My technique has gotten better. Those two things will help me go a long way in this game.”
Clowney moves all over the line, so stopping both he and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles (seven sacks) will be a task for the entire offensive line, not just Thomas.
Can Clemson keep South Carolina’s offense off the field?
The best way to stop Chad Morris’ high-powered, hurry-up, no-huddle offense (averaging 42.3 points and 515.6 yards per game)? Keep it off the field. That’s exactly what South Carolina did a year ago. The Gamecocks held the ball for 39:58 and limited Clemson to 19 second-half snaps, turning a 14-10 halftime deficit into a 27-17 win.
South Carolina converted 11 of 21 third downs and frustrated the Tigers offense consistently.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables knows his unit has to control the trenches to get the Tigers offense back on the field regularly.
“You’ve got to win at the line of scrimmage. If they’re chewing clock, that means they’re probably running the ball very effectively,” he said. “ You don’t have to chew up a whole bunch of yards to run the ball effectively. Coach (Steve) Spurrier is very patient. They win a lot of tight ballgames through the years. Not just this year. Since he’s been at South Carolina, that’s been his mode of operation.”
Time: 7 p.m. ET, Saturday
Place: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
Radio: Clemson and South Carolina radio networks (regional).
Spread: South Carolina -5 via vegasinsider.com
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes for this article were obtained directly by the author.
This year's battle for the Territorial Cup between Arizona and Arizona State may have the biggest implications ever.
If the Sun Devils are victorious, not only will they hoist the cup for the second straight year, but they'll also host the Pac-12 Championship game.
As with all rivalry games, though, no matter what the point spread says, this one's going to be a dogfight to the finish.
The Wildcats hold the all-time edge 47-38-1 over the Sun Devils.
If the history of this rivalry is any indication for how Saturday's game is going to unfold, fans better strap in and be ready for a ride.
Seven of the last nine Territorial Cup games have been decided by seven points or fewer, and the Wildcats are coming off of the biggest win in program history as they travel to Tempe.
Here is all the information you need to know about this rivalry game.
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Television: Pac-12 Network
Radio: Sun Devil IMG Sports Network, Fox Sports 910 AM
Spread: ASU -12.5, according to Vegas.com.
College Football fans have been camping out since last weekend in and around Jordan-Hare Stadium.
But don't sleep on Alabama. They've won 18 straight games away from Bryant-Denny Stadium.
As if an in-state rivalry like the Iron Bowl, which dates back to 1893, wasn't enough to fuel excitement beyond state lines, this year's winner will also likely be a major contender to play in the national championship.
Folks in and around Auburn know that Alabama, which is listed as about a 10.5-point favorite, has a weakness against skilled-passing offenses, as Johnny Manziel exposed their secondary and the Aggies scored an amazing six touchdowns.
Fortunately for Alabama, Auburn ranks 106th in passing.
Auburn's strength is clearly its running game, which ranks third nationally with 320 yards per game, and they'll likely need each and every one of those yards to beat Alabama.
There's only one problem: Alabama's defense has yet to allow that many rushing yards in a game under Nick Saban.
While Auburn's SEC-leading offense seems to be a talking point when it comes to keys for success in this game, don't overlook Alabama's offense.
A.J. McCarron's offense can turn up the heat when the going gets tough, as the unit bullied Texas A&M for 6.3 yards per carry on 37 rushing attempts. The senior quarterback was an efficient 14-of-20 passing vs. LSU while the offense achieved 4.6 yards per carry on 42 attempts to flip the switch and pull away from the Tigers.
But recently, fans in and around Auburn, as well as its players, may be hopeful that Alabama seems vulnerable after turning the ball over four times in what seemed like a mediocre performance at Mississippi State.
Look no further than last season, as nearly the exact same scenario played out at this exact same time.
Alabama still won this season's game at Mississippi State by 13 points but lost last season vs. Texas A&M after committing three turnovers (the Aggies committed none).
Like this season, they had a tune-up game vs. Western Carolina, just as they played Chattanooga during their recent week off.
All they did was rebound to beat Auburn 49-0, causing the Tigers to commit three turnovers while Alabama turned the ball over just once.
If there's any time to expect Alabama to have a big game, it's after a sloppy one.
The two worst games Alabama played this season were at Texas A&M, where they allowed the Aggies to get 628 yards and at Mississippi State.
They still won each game by at least a touchdown. That's the mark of a great team.
Like a sharpshooter with a moving target, Alabama can hit and miss. Auburn can't miss once.
After Alabama's game at Mississippi State, Bulldogs fans were cheering at the game's completion as the teams headed to the tunnel, which surely rang in the ears of Alabama's players despite their win.
Such a reaction can only help motivate the Tide more, reminding them that they cannot afford another sluggish game offensively.
But even with an Auburn loss, a likely trip to the Sugar Bowl, and a $17 million payout, will be something for the entire team and coaching staff to cheer about after the Iron Bowl regardless of the final score.
Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis got behind Georgia's cornerbacks and caught Nick Marshall's tipped pass to beat Georgia in stunning fashion.
But this week, those long passes are more likely to get knocked down or heavily pressured by an Alabama defense, which ranks in the top 10 in nearly every defensive category.
Through all of this, look for Alabama to rebound from its lackluster performance at Mississippi State and head to the SEC Championship with a double digit win.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
“This is a one-game season for both teams.”
That was Urban Meyer on Tuesday, speaking to the media during the Big Ten teleconference, explaining the significance of Saturday's matchup between No. 3 Ohio State and Michigan.
The Buckeyes (11-0) come into the game still very much alive in the national title race. The Wolverines (7-4) are spiraling toward their worst season under Brady Hoke.
For three-and-a-half hours on Saturday afternoon, none of that will matter. Two rivals will take the field at Michigan Stadium with a year's worth of bragging rights on the line.
Ohio State, favored by 14.5 points according to Vegas Insider, will be looking for its second consecutive victory over Michigan.
Will the Buckeyes take care of business? What do the Wolverines need to do to spring the upset?
Get all the details with this complete game preview.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 30
Time: Noon ET
Place: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
On Saturday, Penn State will travel to Wisconsin as both teams play their final regular-season games.
For Wisconsin, a win would send them to 10-2. While Michigan State has already locked up the Legends division and is headed to the Big Ten title game against Ohio State, the Badgers still have an outside chance at an at-large BCS bid. If Michigan State loses, they'll fall out of contention, with Wisconsin likely sliding up in the polls. A conference can be represented in BCS games by as many as two of its teams.
Penn State will look to pull off the upset and avoid moving to 6-6 on the year. After going 8-4 last year under first-year head coach Bill O'Brien, his team's second go-around hasn't produced similar results.
Despite there being two teams at two different ends of the spectrum, there will be plenty of players on both sides of the ball who could be playing on Sundays in the future.
Here is a list of the five best prospects for the 2014 NFL draft in this year's Penn State-Wisconsin game.
Michigan (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten Conference) enters this game versus traditional rival Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten Conference) after a miserable month of November. The Wolverines entered the month with hopes of making the Big Ten Championship Game before losing three out of their next four games.
A victory over Ohio State would take the sting out of a disappointing season, but Michigan is a double-digit underdog.
Michigan hopes to salvage some pride and spoil Ohio State's perfect season.
Date: Saturday, November 30, 2013
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Place: Michigan Stadium (109,901), Ann Arbor, Mich.
Series vs. Ohio State: U-M leads 58-45-6
Radio: Michigan IMG Sports Network
Spread: Ohio State by 12, via TheSpread.com
Live Stats: MGoBlue.com
Last Meeting vs. Ohio State: Ohio State 26, Michigan 21 (Nov. 24, 2012)
Unable to score in the second half, the University of Michigan football team (No. 20 AP/No. 20 USA Today) fell at Ohio State (No. 4 AP/NR USA Today) 26-21 on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at Ohio Stadium. Michigan held a one-point halftime advantage but allowed a pair of OSU field goals, surrendered three turnovers and failed to cross midfield in the final 30 minutes.
Junior quarterback Devin Gardner threw for 171 yards and a score and added a rushing touchdown. Senior quarterback Denard Robinson rushed for 122 yards on 10 carries, including a 67-yard touchdown run that gave him most all-time total touchdowns in Michigan history with 91, passing Chad Henne (90, 2004-07).
Fifth-year senior receiver Roy Roundtree caught three balls for 92 yards, including a 75-yard TD reception, while senior/junior receiver Jeremy Gallon had six catches for 67 yards.
*Information according to University of Michigan Wolverines game notes.
There's a storm brewing in Los Angeles, the result of a season's worth of struggles, successes, accomplishments and disappointments. On Saturday, the clouds will open up and all the tension and hostility will rain down on the field of the Coliseum until only one team is left standing.
It's about bragging rights. It's about getting ahead on the recruiting trail. It's about giving their respective fanbases the right to claim Los Angeles as theirs for the next year. It's about completing the season in the most satisfying way possible: beating their crosstown rivals.
But this year, there's something more.
Enter the No. 23 USC Trojans, a team that looked as if it would absolutely implode seven weeks ago but is now 9-3 and undefeated in Pac-12 play under interim head coach Ed Orgeron. Add the No. 22 UCLA Bruins to the mix, a team that started the season with lofty expectations of reaching Pasadena but has shown some great signs of weakness down the stretch.
These two teams started in very different places back in August but find themselves on a level playing field as Saturday approaches. For the Trojans, a win means reestablishing itself as the team in Los Angeles, while relegating the Bruins to the role of little brother once more. For UCLA, a win means continuing to shift the power dynamic in the city, proving that last year wasn't a fluke.
This year more than ever, to the victor will most definitely go the spoils.
It's USC. It's UCLA. It's Rivalry Week!
KICKOFF: 5 p.m. PT
PLACE: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Radio: 710 ESPN (USCTrojans.com will also carry the live stream)
Spread: USC (-4) according to VegasInsider.com
The Week 14 BCS rankings, which came out Sunday night, provided another twist in the ongoing college football drama.
This week's rankings provided the reality that five teams are charging and will look to crash the BCS picture.
Auburn climbed to fourth and will have a chance to get higher when it plays Alabama this weekend.
Oklahoma State ruined Baylor's chances of a national title, beating the Bears 49-17. Oklahoma State moved to number seven in the rankings.
Arizona State moved up five spots after a huge 38-33 win over UCLA. They now sit in the 12th spot of the rankings, while UCLA dropped to 22.
Another shakeup in the BCS Bowl picture occurred this past weekend: Northern Illinois jumped Fresno State in the rankings, which means it has the advantage at a BCS bid over the Bulldogs right now.
Michigan State moved up two spots to 11 and will look to keep climbing. The Spartans have the opportunity because they play Ohio State in the conference championship game in two weeks.
These five teams have some big games left on the schedule and will look to cause chaos in the BCS bowl picture.
Auburn has a huge game against Alabama this weekend. Although Auburn is a team that is playing its best football of the year right now, Alabama will put Auburn's BCS Championship hopes to rest.
Auburn can run the ball very effectively, but Nick Saban is the best in the business when it comes to game-planning. Saban will probably put a spy on the quarterback, which will get the defense in the backfield often. Linebacker CJ Mosley is among the best in the country and will contain Nick Marshall's rushing game.
Oklahoma State has a big game against Oklahoma this week and will get the victory here because of Oklahoma's inconsistency from the quarterback position.
Oklahoma has struggled at times on offense. On the road against Baylor the offense was only able to score 12 points. Oklahoma State's defense is nothing to overlook either. The Cowboys have the 11th-best scoring defense in the country. This combined with Oklahoma's offensive struggles will be the difference in the game.
Michigan State is a team that has been defensively consistent pretty much all season. They will give Ohio State a very good game in the Big Ten Championship, but it will not be enough. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde are just too much for Michigan State's defense.
Northern Illinois could very easily find itself in a BCS bowl with convincing wins to end the year. Quarterback Jordan Lynch is among the nation's best offensive players. Northern Illinois just gives off that feel-good vibe for which every fan can't help but pull.
Arizona State will look to do its part in shuffling up the rankings when it plays Stanford in two weeks for the Pac-12 championship.
The Sun Devils defense is led by Will Sutton, who is a force on that defensive line. Stanford will be forced to beat Arizona State through the air, but it won't be enough. Arizona State will pull the upset because of the ability to stop the run game.
BCS Bowl Outlook
This means a lot for the BCS bowls looking ahead.
With the wins in conference championship games, Arizona State and Ohio State will face off in the Rose Bowl.
Northern Illinois and UCF should be able to occupy spots in BCS bowls, but which one is not necessarily predictable at this point.
Auburn will still have a great opportunity at making the Sugar Bowl, thanks to Texas A&M's loss to LSU this past weekend. It is possible that Missouri could have two losses as well if they lose the SEC Championship game, but Auburn should get the nod here if it plays Alabama a close game. Auburn would likely be higher in the BCS Standings.
Oklahoma State would likely make the Fiesta Bowl because of the Big 12 ties there. Oklahoma State could finish the season very high in the rankings with a win in a BCS bowl.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Notre Dame's regular-season finale showdown against Stanford isn't simply a matchup of two top-25 teams.
There will be an added intrigue beneath the surface when the Irish and Cardinal meet at Stanford Stadium Saturday evening, one that NFL scouts will have a keen eye on. Each program possesses the services of coveted NFL draft prospects, each of which will play a key role for their respective teams in the 28th installment of the series.
So, which among those future professionals should you have your eye on?
When the Week 13 BCS standings were unveiled Sunday, the biggest surprise didn't come anywhere near the top of the standings. Rather, it was the inexplicable jump by Northern Illinois (No. 14), leapfrogging Fresno State (No. 16) for the first time in the BCS standings this season.
To be sure, the Huskies didn't get any of their boost from the human polls, as they lost ground to the Bulldogs in both the coaches and Harris polls last week. But they made a quantum leap in the computer rankings, going from an average ranking of 12th last week to seventh.
That NIU made that big of a jump from a victory over Toledo—a solid MAC team but otherwise nothing special—is both surprising and alarming. Very rarely has there been that much of a gain in the computers by one team this late in the season, when computer rankings are less volatile. And most problematic is that this shift seems inexplicable.
To date, Northern Illinois has played a schedule that's ranked 89th by Kenneth Massey (one of the six BCS computers) out of 125 FBS teams. That compares favorably to Fresno State's strength of schedule of 108th, but not a schedule worthy of a top-10 ranking.
So how do you explain the inexplicable? You can't (that's why it's called "inexplicable"). Since all but one of the six BCS computer formulas are proprietary, it's not possible to replicate the results except from Colley's Matrix. But we can at least attack the major symptom that's causing this upheaval.
The decision by the BCS to demand the removal of margin of victory (MOV) from all computer formulas in 2001 is the chief reason for the rankings irregularities. Jeff Sagarin, who is the dean of the BCS computer programmers, openly states on his site that the BCS version of his rankings is "less accurate" (boldface his).
And it's not difficult to see why. From the two BCS computers that lists separate versions of rankings, one includes MOV and one doesn't. It shouldn't take a math wiz to determine which version is more accurate:
The burning question now: Is NIU's lead going to hold up?
The Huskies defeated Western Michigan Tuesday night, a team that finished 1-11 and was ranked 120th entering the game. While their computer rankings will take a hit, with Fresno State playing San Jose State (5-6) on Friday, the Huskies will maintain their computer advantage.
Since both teams will face opponents ranked in the same 60-70 range in their respective conference championship games, NIU's computer edge will remain intact by the end of the season. The intrigue, then, is how much of an edge, and will it be enough to offset Fresno State's lead in the polls?
All season long, the voters have consistently ranked Northern Illinois several spots below Fresno State in their respective undefeated campaigns. I offered the hypothesis several weeks ago that voters are holding the Huskies' deceiving large loss to Florida State in last year's Orange Bowl against them.
That theory has yet to be disproved. And in light of the major leap made by NIU in the computers this past week, the Week 15 standings will tell us if the voters decided to take "corrective action" and rigged the polls to further weaken NIU's odds of landing a second consecutive BCS bowl bid.
The race may well come down to man against machine.
Follow on Twitter @BCSGuru
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Who is ready to add some #MACtion to their Heisman stew?
With major-conference contenders dropping like flies and leaving a gaping hole in the race for the 2013 bronze statue, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch made his play to fill the void Tuesday night. The Huskies signal-caller accounted for 360 total yards and four touchdowns, leading his team to a 33-14 victory over Western Michigan.
Notice I said total yards. Because, if we were judging Lynch by his pure "quarterback" numbers, he'd have been an utter nightmare. Lynch completed only five of 17 passes, which accounted for a whopping 39 yards, including a 10-yard toss to Juwan Brescacin in the first quarter.
That leaves [attempts to do basic subtraction in head], yes, 321 yards that Lynch gained on the ground. Don't worry, I'll leave you plenty of time to unslack your jaw and get a mop for the drool your wife will undoubtedly see all over the carpet.
OK, done? Good. Let's move on, because Lynch had a night worth examining.
Lynch's 321 yards came on just 27 carries, 13 of which were longer than 10 yards. At one point between the first and second quarters, Lynch had rushed for double-digit gains on five straight attempts and was seemingly on a one-man mission to out-gain Western Michigan by himself. Which, of course, he did.
Oh, and I'm burying the lede. Lynch also set an all-time record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback. The previous record was 316. The previous record-holder? You guessed it, Jordan Lynch. No other Huskies player had more than 49 yards.
There is seemingly beating a team by yourself, and then there is actually beating a team by yourself. While I'm totally not advising one-on-11 football, Lynch came about as close as anyone I can remember who wasn't playing as Tecmo Bo.
It was fun. It was ridiculous. And it was kind of stupid. Western Michigan is one of the handful or so worst teams in college football, with its only win coming against UMass, which may be the worst team in college football. Football Outsiders' FEI ratings currently have the Broncos at a robust No. 116 in the nation (UMass is No. 121), though they're admittedly better defensively than on offense.
In essence, this is the type of performance Heisman voters wouldn't pay much mind to in normal circumstances. We'd hoot and holler a little bit about it because, well, what else are college football fans supposed to do on a Tuesday night? But a pretty good player on a conference's best team absolutely destroying one of the nation's worst teams isn't exactly worthy of any postseason awards distinction.
I mean, Johnny Manziel had 562 total yards against Alabama this season. We surely can't compare the two performances and somehow think Lynch is more deserving of an invite to New York City, right?
Welllll, not so fast. If we're playing the narrative game, Lynch is more likely now than at any point in this season to enter the Heisman conversation.
Last week saw Manziel and Oregon's Marcus Mariota exit stage left. The controversial Texas A&M quarterback had unquestionably the worst performance of his season in the Aggies' 34-10 loss to LSU. That came at a terrible time for Manziel's Heisman hopes, as he was seemingly moving his way back up to possible favorite status. Mariota didn't play as poorly in Oregon's loss to Arizona, but a majority of his candidacy was built on the Ducks' status as national title contenders. Same for Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty.
Boom. Three top contenders roasted. In a field that was already whittling itself down, the Heisman race had suddenly dipped into the dreadful strata. Florida State's Jameis Winston has been the favorite for weeks and is still a borderline lock should the Seminoles finished the regular season undefeated, but we're firmly in the "blindly reaching" stages of finding secondary contenders.
Boston College running back Andre Williams entered the conversation by rushing for 893 yards and six touchdowns over his past three games. Before that run, though, almost no one even mentioned his name. Same goes for Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who had been in the "yeah, yeah, yeah" fringes of the conversation all season but is now all but guaranteed an invite. I very much look forward to comparing him to Ken Dorsey's Heisman candidacy over the next few weeks.
That leaves Lynch, the unbelievable leader of the indestructible underdogs. Barring a loss in the MAC Championship Game, Northern Illinois will be headed to a BCS bowl for the second straight season, with Lynch serving as the figurehead of the rise to prominence. In a season where everyone seems to be losing right when the Heisman narrative tells them to win, Lynch keeps coming through.
Even if you account for the Huskies' terrible schedule—Jeff Sagarin ranks them No. 110 in difficulty, before Western Michigan—Lynch's counting stats are dumb stoopid. He's combined for 42 total touchdowns and 4,212 total yards. Although he didn't have a great night passing on Tuesday, Lynch is well over 60 percent for the season and has had a QBR of 85 or higher six times on the year. There may be no better running quarterback in the history of the sport.
All of that speaks to why Lynch sits exactly where he should: a likely ceremony invite. We can all but rule out the possibility of Lynch winning. Ty Detmer was the last Heisman winner that didn't reside in a major conference, and his and Andre Ware's victories in back-to-back years are the only times it happened in the so-called modern era. (No, Notre Dame winners don't apply.)
Winston or McCarron will win. One of their teams will go undefeated, and we'll all talk ourselves into thinking that's the right decision. Freshman bias will be discarded for Winston. For McCarron, we'll just chuck our hands up in the air and dap him up the way we once did Eric Crouch.
As for Lynch, he'll be there. He'll get the free dinner, say all the right things and perhaps even raise the profile of his school along the way. And you know what? We won't have a hard time talking ourselves into that.
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The Palmetto Bowl is almost here, and for the seniors and NFL draft eligible players, this will be the last hurrah.
This year's Palmetto Bowl features the highest combined rankings in a matchup between South Carolina and Clemson. Beyond the rankings and the rivalry, though, is the on-field talent.
South Carolina boasts this bowl game's top NFL prospect, Jadeveon Clowney, who still has scouts salivating over his skill set. Past Clowney, the Gamecocks do not have a lot of high-selection, draft-worthy players.
Clemson on the other hand, has two potential first-rounders in wide receiver Sammy Watkins and defensive end Vic Beasley. And don't forget about the man commanding the offensive, quarterback Tajh Boyd, who can still work his way up the big board.
Saturday's Palmetto Bowl could become an instant classic, but make sure to keep your eyes on the NFL hopefuls.
Here are the power rankings for the Palmetto Bowl's five best NFL prospects.
When you hear the words "pageantry" and "passion" as they relate to college football, the first thing that usually comes to mind is rivalry week. At no other time in the season do fans display their true colors more than when their favorite team squares off against a well-known enemy, and we've reached that time in the 2013 season.
A number of rivalry games will take place with conference and national title hopes at stake, but even teams without a whole lot left to play for will surely take the field with more fire than in any other week of the year.
We're taking a look at the best rivalry games in Week 14, so notable matchups, such as Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and Army-Navy, are left out because they occur later in the season.
In considering the order of this list, we used two factors equally: What's at stake this season and what kind of tradition does the game have? Not all rivalries are created equally, but what kind of implications one has on the college football landscape in 2013 will certainly be considered.
With that said, let's take a look at the top-10 rivalry games of Week 14.