Texas A&M's stunner might lock SEC out of BCS title game
Nov 11, 2012 (Menafn - Austin American-Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Texas A&M's brilliant 29-24 victory at Alabama in college football's game of the year gives the nation hope that there may be change. Maybe, just maybe, the SEC won't win its seventh straight national championship.
Alabama is far from dead in this thing. But now, even if the obviously flawed Crimson Tide recovers to the SEC title, it needs help to get back to the BCS championship game. Each of the unbeaten contenders face at least one significant challenge:
No. 2 Oregon (9-0): The Ducks have the toughest haul after a trip to Cal (3-7) next Saturday: Nov. 17 vs. Stanford (8-2), Nov. 24 at Oregon State (7-2) and, if all that goes well, a Dec. 1 Pac-12 title game against USC or UCLA.
No. 3 Kansas State (10-0): The Wildcats should be fine at Baylor (4-5) next Saturday, but hard-charging Texas (8-2) could screw it all up for the Wildcats on Dec. 1 in Manhattan. Especially if Collin Klein isn't close to 100 percent.
No. 4 Notre Dame (10-0): The Irish have a softy at home in Wake Forest (5-5) next Saturday before finishing at Southern Cal (7-3) on Nov. 24. The Trojans certainly have the ammunition to ruin ND's return to glory.
No. 5 Ohio State (10-0): The Buckeyes aren't eligible for the BCS title, but they could win the AP poll championship. The Buckeyes have two difficult tests: at Wisconsin (7-3) next Saturday and home to Michigan (7-3) on Nov. 24.
Alabama's loss also brings hope for Georgia (9-1), Florida (9-1) and Florida State (9-1). The Gators and Seminoles clash Nov. 24 in Tallahassee.
A&M's culture change
Yes, we were all wrong about the Aggies' chances in the SEC. So incredibly wrong. It is absolutely remarkable that A&M (8-2, 5-2) marched into this supposedly invincible league in year one and not just survived, but thrived.
Don't forget, this was A&M's third straight road game, and 1-2 wouldn't have been a bad result. Instead, the magnificent Aggies went 3-0 at Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama and outscored them 130-58. A&M's only losses this year are to top-10 teams Florida and LSU by a combined 8 points.
Kevin Sumlin, with the help of "Johnny Football" and others, has completely overhauled the mentality at A&M. Under Mike Sherman, you know the Aggies would have fumbled on the national stage. And even if they had somehow built a 20-0 lead in Tuscaloosa, they would have coughed it up under Sherman. But no more. This is an entirely remade program.
Good move, Aggies
Oh, by the way, A&M could never have hauled in the national cachet it collected by taking down defending national champ Alabama on its home turf had the Aggies stayed in the Big 12.
And to think how we snickered when A&M President Bowtie (R. Bowen Loftin), asked how early the Aggies could be expected to compete in the SEC, answered, "from day one, sir."
Manziel for Heisman?
Another bi-product of Saturday's stunner is that A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel of Kerrville Tivy gains instant credibility as a Heisman Trophy contender. Johnny Football, the favorite to win SEC player of the year honors, has the stats and the "it" factor.
The race might look like this: 1) Collin Klein of K-State; 2) Manziel; 3) Kenjon Barner of Oregon; 4) Braxton Miller of Ohio State and 5) Manti Te'o of Notre Dame.
One last thought on the Aggies: A Cotton Bowl pairing of A&M vs. Texas keeps looking better and better, unless one plays its way into a BCS wild-card bid. The Aggies are a near-lock to go 10-2 with Sam Houston and Mizzou left.
Big 12 update
Kansas State, which easily snuffed out TCU on the road, clinches the Big 12 title, and at minimum a Fiesta Bowl berth, with a win at Baylor next Saturday.
West Virginia, once No. 4 in the country, has lost four games in a row and been outscored 198-100 in that stretch. The Mountaineers haven't won since Oct. 6 at Texas.
Extra points ...
Louisville is unbeaten no longer after its 45-26 blowout loss at Syracuse. The Cardinals (9-1, 4-1) are in a three-way fight with Rutgers and Cincinnati for the Big East title.
Georgia (9-1, 7-1) nailed down a return gig in the SEC title game after blanking Auburn 38-0.
Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2) clinched a trip to the Big Ten title game.
Stanford's win over Oregon State all but eliminates the Beavers from reaching their first Rose Bowl since 1965.
Georgia Tech's 68-50 (no overtime) win at North Carolina was the highest-scoring game in ACC history.
UMass (1-9) beat Akron 22-19 for its first victory, leaving Southern Miss (0-10) as the only winless team in the land.
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