For the first time in the history of my Texans fandom, their bye week left me with a palpable void. Sure, I love having NFL football in this city, even bad football is better than no football, so the bye week always feels a little weird. However, this season's team is a little different.
If the Texans were a comedian, then they've finally graduated to the point where they know when to drop the microphone and say, "Thank you, you've been a beautiful audience" and leave us wanting more.
I'm not sure if it's in spite of the absence of Matt Schaub or because of how his absence intrigues me, I just know I can't wait for this Sunday in Jacksonville. It feels good.
In the meantime, college football decided to go get itself into a big mess this weekend.
In case you missed it (yeah, right), three of the top five teams in the BCS standings lost -- Oklahoma State, Oregon and Oklahoma (favored by 27, 15 and 15 points, respectively). There is a MAJOR gambling lesson in there -- at night, weird shit happens, especially on the road. A lot like college life in general, honestly.
Additionally, we are now looking at a scenario where the top three teams in the country are all from the same division of the same conference, and the team that lost the so-called Game of the Century two weeks ago (Alabama) has an easier path to the BCS title game than the team that won.
(Side bar: Forget about the argument that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" when it comes to the "greatness" of a game with no touchdowns scored in it. Some of you still contend the game was awesome because there was tension the entire time. Fine, let's pretend we all thought that aesthetically the game stacked up with other great bloodbaths. Let me repeat this -- the team who lost that game has an easier road to the title for the national championship, by and large because they don't have to deal with the hassle of a conference title game, than the team who won. By definition, it was better to lose that game than win it. That's fucked up. Sorry.)
Anyway, since we don't have the Texans to break down on a Monday, let's do a special 4 Winners, 4 Losers for what transpired in college football this past, crazy weekend. As a point of reference, here are the top 20 teams in the BCS rankings for your perusal:
1 LSU 11-0 2 Alabama 10-1 3 Arkansas 10-1 4 Oklahoma State 10-1 5 Virginia Tech 10-1 6 Stanford 10-1 7 Boise State 9-1 8 Houston 11-0 9 Oklahoma 8-2 10 Oregon 9-2 11 Kansas State 9-2 12 South Carolina 9-2 13 Georgia 9-2 14 Michigan State 9-2 15 Michigan 9-2 16 Wisconsin 9-2 17 Clemson 9-2 18 Baylor 7-3 19 Penn State 9-2 20 TCU 9-2
WINNERS 4. CBS As a result of most of the contenders in the Big 12, Pac 12 and ACC (Clemson, what was that?) impaling themselves on the BCS wall this weekend, barring some major upsets, the only truly relevant games on the BCS title landscape for the rest of the season are being played on CBS -- Arkansas at LSU on 11/25, Alabama at Auburn on 11/26 and the SEC Title game on 12/3. It's a good time to be Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman and whoever else they bring into the studio the next two weekends.
3. University of Houston It's also a really good time to be a University of Houston Cougar. Saturday's Gameday telecast was a nice showcase for how rabid the fan base is right now, the Coogs won again in pretty convincing fashion, Case Keenum continues to solidify travel plans to New York as a Heisman finalist, and the school should be announcing any day now that they're going to be playing in the Big East starting sometime in the next couple years. All of that will trigger the stadium upgrades and hopefully a contract extension for Kevin Sumlin.
So with all of that said, that basically means the Tulsa game this Friday morning is the biggest one since the implosion of the Southwest Conference. Diehard Coog fans know this already, but if Houston is undefeated then so, too, is Tulsa, and what I mean is that Tulsa's only losses this season are to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State. Houston hasn't faced anyone remotely close to those three teams, so in terms of how they've done against relative competition, these two teams are virtually even. The 11 a.m. kickoff may be the biggest variable in this thing -- which team will be awake?
2. Boise State On the heels of another utter kicking-game fail against TCU, it appeared that Boise State might be completely out of the BCS mix. But after that loss they only fell to 10th, and this week, they sit at 7th with a chance to move up even more if weird stuff happens.
Point being that Boise State still has to feel like they have an outside shot at something BCS-related, right? Let's assume that Houston gets one slot for the top ranked non-AQ champion inside the top 12 (not a given), and assume that the SEC gets one of the at-large slots (strangely, the SEC could send THREE teams to the BCS if LSU and Alabama qualify for the title game, and Georgia beats LSU in the SEC title game...don't ask). That leaves two more at-large slots. It all comes down to travel, ticket sales and TV ratings, all categories in which Boise is fairly strong. I'm guessing the Big 12 gets a second team in, whoever is a qualified (nine wins, top 14) runner-up like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, or possibly Baylor (more on that in a second), so would a Boise team in the top four or five be more attractive than an average Big Ten school or ACC school on the fringe of the top 14? If it's the wrong Big Ten school (10-2 Michigan?), Boise would probably be screwed, but the argument is an interesting one. 1. Robert Griffin III Can you ever remember a player from a decent team injecting himself into the Heisman race this late in the season based on a signature win with a signature moment? As tied to the rankings as the Heisman Trophy is, it's virtually impossible to do, and yet there was Robert Griffin III, for the second time this season, with the entire, jubilant Bears' student body surrounding him while being interviewed by a lovely ESPN sideline reporter (Sam Steele in September against TCU, Erin Andrews this time). The similarities in the visual at the end of the Baylor-Oklahoma game Saturday night to that of the Baylor-TCU game, when Griffin jumped out to the early lead for the Heisman, were striking. And now think about this -- does Baylor have a shot at a BCS at-large bid?
These are the things we know:
-- Baylor is 7-3 with a neutral-site game against Texas Tech and a home game against Texas remaining. They will be favored in both of these games.
-- In order to secure at-large BCS eligibility, Baylor has to have nine wins and rank in the top 14.
-- Right now, they are 18th in the BCS standings.
They won't go to a BCS bowl; there are too many marquee at-large potential teams with too many prominent players (Michigan, Stanford, to name two), but the fact that Griffin has Baylor in the conversation is nothing short of amazing.
LOSERS (NOTE: I am providing the caveat for the first two schools in the "Loser" category that I completely understand that what happened with them this past weekend -- Oklahoma State losing their women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and three other OSU family members in a plane crash, and Arkansas freshman football player Garrett Uekman tragically passing away over the weekend -- is beyond anything that happens on a football field. Thoughts and prayers to both university families.)
4. Oklahoma State I don't know that we've seen any team hand over "control our own destiny for a BCS title shot" status as quickly or head-scratchingly as Oklahoma State did on Friday night. Turnovers, bad penalties, and extremely inconsistent play out of quarterback Brandon Weeden (who, in my mind, got exposed a bit on Friday) were all thorns in the side of the Cowboys in Ames on Friday night.
On top of that, I realized that I would hate being an Oklahoma State fan. You see, when my team is screwing up royally while chasing something they may never chase again in my lifetime, I'd like my coach to go chew somebody out and get in someone's grill. Mike Gundy's facial expression didn't change the whole game. It's like the guy who got off the "I'm a man! I'm 40!" speech a few years ago had been lobotomized, or possessed by the soul of Jim Caldwell. Eerie.
3. Arkansas To call Arkansas a loser from what went down this weekend football-wise is maybe a little harsh, because if someone told Bobby Petrino on Saturday morning, with his Razorbacks ranked sixth, that he would wake up on Monday ranked third, he'd have signed up in a heartbeat. But this is where you truly get a feel now for the ceiling that Arkansas is dealing with. They can't pass Alabama because the Crimson Tide beat them by a few touchdowns in September, and unless they thump LSU in Baton Rouge, the voters will probably give LSU's out-of-conference schedule and win over Alabama more credit than a close Arkansas win in Baton Rouge. Capital One Bowl, it is.
2. Miami players who never met Nevin Shapiro As a pre-emptive strike to try and soften the blow the NCAA will inevitably land on them for the Nevin Shapiro "scandal" (I feel like after the Penn State scandal, any "scandal" involving minor inducements to players has to be couched in quotes; Penn State is a SCANDAL, Miami is kids being kids), the University of Miami announced over the weekend that they would forgo any bowl bid for the 2011 season.
If you believe that a trip to a bowl game (as minor as that bowl would have been for the U) is a reward for the team, then it sucks for the seniors on the team who wouldn't have known Nevin Shapiro if he were standing on their big toe (at which time he would have likely been inviting them to participate in his Ponzi scheme). The subplot to this story has to do with USC -- imagine if the Trojans had done something similar before accepting a meaningless Emerald Bowl bid in 2009? Instead of serving out year two of a bowl ban this season, they would be in line to possibly win the Pac-12 or get a BCS at-large bid. (By the way, how many words will it take me to express my incredulity that Lane Kiffin may win the Pac-12 Coach of the Year? 3,000? 5,000?)
1. The dude on the dump button for College Gameday on ESPN If you missed it, or just want to see one of the funniest College Gameday moments ever for the hundredth time (like me), click the video below...
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And despite qualifying under the "once you turn 70, you can say pretty much anything you want to with no fear of reprisal, even 'fuck' on national television," Corso issued an apology....
Not necessary, Lee. Not necessary at all.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.