By REED NELSON
There was a moment on Saturday — sometime around 3:45 Pacific Standard Time — where the BCS appeared to be in serious danger of imploding like the King Dome. It even sounded like The Doors “The End” was being piped through the cosmic speakers of the universe like the “Marriage of Figaro.”
No. 10 Florida State was leading No. 4 Florida 20-13 with 4:24 to play in the third quarter, No. 5 Oregon was wrapping up their back-alley mugging of No. 15 Oregon State, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia were slated to play the following week, eliminating half of their equation, the jury was mercifully still out on No. 1 Notre Dame, and No. 8 Stanford gave up a relatively simple touchdown to No. 17 UCLA on the Bruins’ opening drive.
With the Beaver Decapitation in Corvallis (also, coincidentally, the title a new scary movie starring Corey Feldman), Oregon had positioned themselves as a cockroach of sorts, with the ability to withstand the implosion.
After all, if Florida lost, the Ducks jumped a spot in the rankings to No. 4. The Georgia-Alabama matchup pushed them to No. 3. Notre Dame could have lost to USC and if Stanford lost to UCLA, then Oregon was back in the Pac-12 Championship game for show. On in a million? Bring it on. The world is ending in less than a month anyway. John Cusack and Woody Harrelson told us so. And to paraphrase the immortal Lloyd Christmas, if the odds are 1-in-1,000,000, they were still telling us that Oregon had a chance.
But then 4:00 p.m. rolled around, and Florida scored 24 unanswered points, UCLA forgot that they were supposed to be a good team again, and holding out for a Notre Dame loss seemed almost mean to Manti Te’o a.k.a. the Greatest Story in College Football in the Last Decade.
For as close as the stars seemed to alignment before that weird late-afternoon time period rolled in, they seemed that far apart when Florida’s Michael Gillislee took a handoff for 37 yards and a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to reclaim the Gator lead. When USC failed to convert a 1st-and-Goal from the Notre Dame one yard-line in the fourth quarter, it was like those same stars were cackling like hyenas.
Or maybe it was the silence that was making all the noise. In fact, for the most hyped up weekend in regular season college football, the only shake up to the Top 10 was the addition of South Carolina in place of the aforementioned Florida State.
And for the first time all season, the teams that were supposed to win actually won. No surprises, no brainfarts, no gameplan gaffes, just a solid Saturday for those ranked in the Top 10.
The Pac-12 as a whole, however? Not exactly like a rock. In the five conference games over the holiday weekend, the favorites went 3-2. No. 25 Washington and No. 24 Arizona suffered embarrassing lose-from-ahead losses to in-state foes.
But most importantly (or most frustratingly, depending on allegiance), Stanford proved to be a matured team; one with the ability to back up a breakthrough performance with a kick-ass performance1. After a slightly rocky opening quarter-and-a-half, they never wavered against UCLA. Their defense was exactly as tough as everyone thought they were, RB Stepfan Taylor is good against literally everybody and this new Kevin Hogan kid playing QB has enough athleticism and guile to garner Andrew Luck comparisons (which is most definitely a good thing).
And with the emergence of Stanford came the end of Oregon’s title hopes. Or was it with the demise of Florida State that ended the hopes? Or was it with the home loss to Stanford?
When you strap in, the ride becomes what it becomes. Oregon ran a smoothly executed Chinese Fire Drill against Stanford two weeks ago and it left them in the passenger seat doing a buck-fifty. When they lost last week, they put themselves at the mercy of their pilot, and this week, none of those in control faltered.
But, in honor of Silver Linings (our sponsor for the 2012 season), at least Arizona is wayyyyyyy closer than Miami.
Rising: UCLA. Somehow. (No. 17 to No. 16).
Falling: Arizona (No. 24 to NR), Washington (No. 25 to NR).
Wooderson-ing: Oregon (No. 5), Stanford (No. 8).
- Unlike their last “breakthrough” performance (a win over then-No.1 USC), which they followed up with a turd-burgling loss to an un-ranked Washington team.Jump