Ten Things That Matter: Breaking Down Week 10

The ten most important things to happen in the history of our great planet – at least this weekend. How will Week 10 of your college football season be remembered in the history books? And so it is written …

1. Sometimes, football is just awful 
College football is an amazing sport with peerless pageantry, traditions and weekly excitement, but sometimes, it’s a brutal, nasty, ridiculously dumb pastime. Unfortunately, the biggest game of the weekend, and what turned out to be one of the key moments of the entire season, was decided by a horrific broken leg suffered by Ole Miss star receiver Laquon Treadwell, who appeared to be going in for a touchdown and the lead late against Auburn – the Rebels were down 35-31 with 1:30 to play – when he was hit awkwardly and lost the ball. Just inches away from getting across the goal line, he understandably fumbled, and instead of being 8-1 and in the driver’s seat for the SEC West title – with just Arkansas and the home date against Mississippi State left in conference play – the Rebels are 7-2 and effectively eliminated from the playoff chase. 

Outside of the way it finished, it was one of the most entertaining games of the season with wild back-and-forth swings, phenomenal plays from Auburn QB Nick Marshall, a redemption performance from Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace – after his nightmare against LSU – and talent, talent, talent coming through on both sides. But it’ll always be remembered as the game when one of the best players in football got injured. 

Right around the same time that Treadwell was injured, Washington State’s record-setting quarterback, Connor Halliday – suffered a broken leg, too, in the loss to USC. Otherwise, it turned out to be … 

2. The Pac-12’s big weekend 
The North was relatively cut-and-dry with Oregon taking control with its win over Stanford (more on that in a moment), but it was still a big deal that Cal beat Oregon State in Corvallis in what might turn out to be a bowl elimination game. Unless there are a few upsets, the loser was going to have a tough time getting a 13th game, but after last year’s disastrous 1-11 season, being 5-4 and one game away from a bowl is a huge step in Sonny Dykes’ second year. The real fun, though, was in the South. 

With Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Utah all still alive and kicking for the division crown, Saturday didn’t eliminate anyone, but it set the table. UCLA got by Arizona 17-7 in a bizarre defensive slugfest, USC did its part by beating Washington State from the North, and in a tremendous battle, Arizona State beat Utah in overtime. The Sun Devils are now in place to take the division, and it’s still in the thick of the playoff chase as the South’s only one-loss team, making the upcoming game against Notre Dame even more significant nationally. 

3. Oregon’s demons now exorcised 
The Ducks appear to have fixed the glitch. Despite turning into one of college football’s premier programs, Oregon always ran into a hard ceiling whenever it had to face someone with a little bit of power and toughness. Last year, everything was just fine on the way to an 8-0 start, and then Stanford applied a tough beatdown in a 26-20 win. In 2012, the Ducks were 10-0, and the O stopped working in a 17-14 loss, meaning two of the three losses in the 23-3 record over the last two years came to one team – the team that won the last two Pac-12 titles. Oregon showed it could hang with the bullies earlier this year with a win over Michigan State, and now it got over the really big hump with its 45-16 win. It’s not going to be a layup – going to Utah is going to be difficult, but it’s all there for a three-game run to get to the Pac-12 title with a chance to almost certainly earn a playoff spot. 

4. TCU keeps on humming 
On October 11th, TCU suffered a collapse in the fourth quarter to Baylor in a wacky 61-58 loss. In Morgantown on Saturday, the Horned Frogs returned the favor to West Virginia, rallying late to win 31-30 on a last-second field goal to set up what might amount to a Big 12 title game. TCU already beat Oklahoma, and it’s already done with Baylor, so with Kansas, Texas and Iowa State left on the slate – the Horned Frogs will likely be double-digit favorites in each game – the win over the Mountaineers set up next week’s game against Kansas State as the last likely barrier to an 11-1 record and a possible playoff spot. 

5. The Group of Five has politely declined to join the fun 
East Carolina received a token No. 23 spot in the initial CFP rankings, and with a light and breezy schedule, all it had to do was rip through road games at Temple, Cincinnati and Tulsa, and beat Tulane and UCF at home, and it was off to the automatic Group of Five spot in one of the huge New Year’s Day bowls. Instead, the Pirate came out and clunked against Temple in a 20-10 loss that wasn’t even really that close. ECU will still probably win the American Athletic title, so now it’s all about Marshall, who’ll have to totally tank to lose to Southern Miss, Rice (who actually isn’t bad), UAB or WKU. Not ranked last week, the Herd could sneak into the top 25 over the next month. No matter which conference champion from the American Athletic, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, or Sun Belt gets the nod, it’s going to be a hard sell now that ECU isn’t an appealing option. 

6. Welcome back, Florida 
Will Muschamp was all but fired, the rumors were swirling around the Florida program, and there was about to be a massive change following a dead season that was going nowhere. And then, something sort of funny happened – Florida showed up against Georgia. Weird things sometimes happen at the don’t-call-it-a-cocktail-party, and Florida’s 38-20 domination was about as out-of-left-field as any upset in the rivalry’s history. The Gators cranked out 418 rushing yards and five touchdowns averaging seven yards per carry to all but end Georgia’s dream of getting to the playoff – for now. There’s still a chance for the Dawgs to get to 10-2, get a little luck, win the SEC title, and play for the SEC championship, but this weekend in Jacksonville was all about Florida coming back to life. Just going bowling isn’t good enough for one of the nation’s premier programs, but this year, winning two of the last four games against Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, or sweetest of all, Florida State, would mean a bowl and a good pull-up out of the nosedive. Florida’s win also means … 

7. SEC party like it’s 2013 
All of a sudden, a very, very mediocre Missouri team is in full control of its own destiny. A home loss to Indiana and a blowout loss to Georgia would make a playoff bid tough even if the Tigers do end up taking the SEC championship, with a three game winning streak after a win over Kentucky, if they beat Texas A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas, they’re in. However, if Florida beats Vanderbilt and South Carolina, and Georgia loses to Auburn or Kentucky, and if Missouri loses to Tennessee and to either Texas A&M or Arkansas – or all three remaining SEC games – the Gators are in the SEC title game. But for now, Mizzou has been given its opportunity, as has Auburn. All the Tigers – the SEC West Tigers, the Auburn version – have to do is win out in the SEC and hope for either two Mississippi State losses – the Bulldogs play at Alabama and at Ole Miss. That’s much, much easier said than done, but after this weekend, the odds of a rematch are improving. 

8. Florida State’s comeback 
Florida State’s best win is over a Notre Dame team that struggled way too much against Navy and whose best win was in the final seconds against Stanford, but it’s still one of only two unbeaten Power 5 teams, and it still can’t be taken down. Granted, the Seminoles haven’t had to deal with the SEC West, but when they want to turn it on, like they did after getting down 21-0 in the 42-31 win over Louisville, they’re magnificent. But is this just a case of a team being bored and only cranking it up when pressed, or are the struggles against the Irish, Cardinals, Clemson Tigers and Oklahoma State Cowboys indicative of a larger problem? 8-0 is 8-0 is 8-0 with three of the last four games at home and one big rivalry date at Miami. The program just keeps on winning. 

9. This week was fun, but … 
Last weekend was the appetizer for the main course. Coming up is the circle game week – November 8th is what you’ve been waiting for. 

Baylor at Oklahoma is a fun way to start out the Saturday, and the day builds with Texas A&M trying to get its groove back against Auburn, and Notre Dame trying to prove it’s for real against Arizona State. And then the night gets really fun with Kansas State and TCU likely playing a Big 12 championship, Alabama and LSU going at it in its annual war, Ohio State and Michigan State playing a possible Big Ten championship, and Oregon and Utah squaring off in a key game in the Pac-12 race. 

10. Three really cool things that you missed because you were doing something else with your life that you think were slightly more important than watching college football on a Saturday you silly, silly person

– Western Michigan freshman running back Jarvion Franklin is putting together a whale of a year, running for 1,330 yards and 22 scores and counting. In the 41-10 win over Miami University, he ran 29 times for 182 yards and three scores, making it three times in the last four games he has run for three touchdowns in a game. 

– In a white-out insane snowstorm, one team could handle it, the other couldn’t. Appalachian State got the ground game going against Georgia State in the 44-0 win, getting 250 rushing yards and three scores from Marcus Cox and 469 team rushing yards with six touchdowns, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. On the other side, the GSU Panthers generated a grand total of 62 yards of total offense. 

– Utah State lost starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton for the year a few weeks ago, and then it lost solid backup Darell Garretson. In stepped Craig Harrison, and then he went down last week, so it was on to true freshman Kent Myers to get the call against Hawaii. How did the rookie do in his first start? 14-of-15 for 186 yards and three scores in the 35-14 in on the long, long road trip.