It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the back end of the college football season, and the BCS chaos is (seemingly) over with. Last week’s upset of the Alabama Crimson Tide came as a huge surprise, most people, myself included believed they’d reach the title game fairly easily after the stellar effort A.J. McCarron performed against LSU. But after last week, the BCS frontrunners that emerged from the Bama loss are Kansas State and Oregon, with Notre Dame coming in just behind them at number three. Florida, who plays Jacksonville State this Saturday, has FSU looming on it’s schedule, and a win in Tallahassee could give them a BCS bid. Let’s take a look at what’s left for Florida and the the BCS frontrunners, and if any more chaos could ensue.
(6) Florida- What’s Left: vs Jacksonville State 1:00PM, @ (10) FSU 3:30
Florida’s defense has undoubtedly been dominant all season, but the offense has shown true struggles since the Georgia loss the last week of October. With the SEC title chances out of its hands, Florida has FSU waiting in the wings to spoil their BCS chances. If Florida can win on the road against FSU, that could put them into the Sugar or Fiesta Bowl, depending on how the rest of the BCS shapes up. While FSU has been hyped up due to their defense, I am still fairly skeptical of this Noles team. First, obviously due to their loss to unranked NC State early in October, but last week they struggles against a Virginia Tech team that was (4-5) before losing to them by just six points. Look for an in-depth preview post of Florida State from me next week.
This week for Florida is Jacksonville State, and I think all Gator fans agree that we don’t want another scare like last week against Louisiana Lafayette. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is out this week, suffering from a late anjle sprain last week. Back-up quarterback Jacoby Brissett is expected by offensive coordinator Brent Pease to step up and play well. He had high praise for the sophomore’s efforts last week in his press conference earlier this week
“To step in in a situation like that to have to make some plays opposed to just taking reps to end the game- it shows he’s prepared every week, he’s prepped himself and he’s been ready for that situation rather than a full game situation. Now he’s got an opportunity to be the full game situation.”
While I am confident in Brissett’s ability against Jacksonville State, the offense would definitely benefit from Jeff being able to go against the Noles. However, this week is about Brissett, and it should give him some very good experience especially if Jeff is not able to go next week.
(1)Kansas State- What’s Left: @Baylor Saturday 8:00PM ESPN, vs (15)Texas
Kansas State is led by Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein, who has put up ridiculous numbers, completing 70% of his passes, and throwing for 2,020 yards. The Wildcats get Baylor, who is (1-5) in the Big 12 and is seemingly lifeless with the loss of 2011 Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. The Baylor defense is ranked 118th in points against, giving up an average of 39 points per game, which doesn’t bode well considering K-State averages 42.2 points per game. Collin Klein should have a field day against the Baylor defense, further making his case for the Heisman trophy.
Kansas State plays Texas in the final week of the season, which has just two losses this season, a 3-point one to West Virginia before getting blown out by Oklahoma the week after by 42 points. The Texas defense hasn’t been great, giving up close to 30 points per game. Texas will need all the defense it can give against the K-State offense, something that no opponent has been able to figure out so far.
Kansas State should win both these game, but in college football, nothing is for certain.
(2) Oregon- What’s Left: vs (13) Stanford 8:00PM, ABC, @ (16) Oregon State
Oregon has been virtually unmatched all season, but Saturday will certainly be a huge test for the Ducks, especially their offense. Oregon is characterized by their extremely potent offense; they average 54.8 points per game which leads the FBS. They average a silly 325 rushing yards per game, and their passing attack is led by Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has 28 touchdowns and 2,164 yards. While the Oregon offense has rolled all season, the Stanford defense will be the toughest test for Oregon this season. Stanford is currently first in the FBS in sacks, and Oregon has allowed 14 sacks all season. In addition to the front seven being dominant off the line of scrimmage, they hold their opponents to an average of just 17 points per game. If Oregon falls this season, this might be the week that they do.
After Stanford, Oregon faces a strong Oregon State team in Corvallis for the Civil War game in the final week of the season. Although Oregon State has lost by a combined 7 points to Washington and Stanford, the Beavers are not a team Oregon can look over. Like Stanford, they hold offenses to fewer than 20 points per game, something necessary to contain an offense as high powered as Oregon’s. Be sure to watch how well the Beavers respond against a solid Cal team, if they play well it could set up a great match-up for the Civil War game.
(3) Notre Dame- What’s Left: vs Wake Forest 3:30PM, @ (18) USC
Notre Dame’s defense has been simply stunning all season, and it’s led by possible Heisman finalist Manti T’eo. The Irish defense ranks first in points against in the FBS, and they held Oklahoma’s Landry Jones to no touchdowns and intercepted him once. Winning on the road in Norman was indeed a signature win for the Irish, but they showed definite vulnerabilities struggling at home against Pittsburg. If Notre Dame wins out and Oregon and Kansas State do the same, they are expected to remain in the third spot. Head coach Chip recently said he’ll “do anything” to fight for a spot to the national championship if that happens, including “going on Oprah” (which hasn’t aired in two years). His argument certainly gives way to the beauty of the 2014 playoff system, but that’s a discussion we have another season to delve into. Notre Dame has a tough road test the last week of the season that could shatter their BCS hopes they’ve fought so hard to get.
The Irish faces USC on the road in Week 13, and the rivalry in itself makes it already an excited game. Wouldn’t it be fitting for Kiffin, arguably the most criticized coach in college football, to spoil Notre Dame’s BCS chances? USC lost by 11 at home to Oregon two weeks ago, but the Oregon offense is on an entirely different level than any team in the country. Notre Dame’s offense is not as complete and quick tempoed as Oregon’s, which is very good news for the USC defense. In addition, the Trojan offense has performed well, former Heisman favorite Matt Barkley has 33 touchdowns and running back Silas Redd has nine touchdowns. On the road against a feisty Trojan team could be a recipe for BCS disaster for the Irish.
The end of the year is sure to bring some true BCS drama. As we saw last week with Alabama, anything can happen in college football. If we’re lucky, we’ll get some upsets that will be nothing short of extraordinary.
Morgan Moriarty is a sophomore Telecommunications major at the University of Florida. She works in the Office of Student Life on campus, and covers college football and recruiting for ESPN Radio. She is also on the University of Florida Women’s Club Water Polo Team. Follow her on Twitter @moriarty343