Perhaps the least interesting major-college football game of the weekend was Oregon’s 44-10 win over Colorado. The Ducks scored early and often, and quarterback Marcus Mariota helped his Heisman Trophy chances with 323 passing yards and four total touchdowns.
The outcome should keep Oregon near the top of the College Football Playoff rankings, and barring an upset loss at Oregon State this week and a spill in the Pac-12 championship game, the Ducks will be headed to the four-team playoff.
Forgive the program and the Pac-12 if they hold their collective breaths.
More than any other major conference in the last decade or so, the Pac-12 has found a way to play itself off of college football’s biggest stage.
Over the last two years, Stanford victories over Oregon have spoiled the Ducks’ title quest.
Two years ago was the most painful, when the Ducks were in a position to grab the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings in mid-November, only to fall at home to its division rival.
In 2011, the undefeated Cardinal was poised to become part of the conversation as a top contender, until it got blown out at home by Oregon.
The late-season decisions have made for wonderful drama, and have supported the idea that every regular-season weekend has national championship implications.
But it has also taken the conference that has typically ranked among the top four among all leagues in power rankings over the last few years out of national championship opportunities.
Since the Southern California teams split national title games after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, the Pac-12 has been represented once in the finale. Oregon pushed Cam Newton and Auburn to the final play before falling by a field goal in the title game for 2010.
Since the 2006 season, the college football finale has been the domain of the SEC, with nine appearances — including an all-SEC final. The Big 12 and Big Ten have been there twice, along with Notre Dame and, last year, Florida State from the ACC.
The Pac-12 has shortchanged itself in that time. Will this year be different? The Ducks would be part of the four-team playoff if it were selected today. But if Oregon got to the Pac-12 title game with one loss and fell that day, it would be difficult to see a league champion with two or more losses selected ahead of major-conference champions with none or one loss.
Also in the Pac-12’s favor this year: One of the national semifinals is in the Rose Bowl. When selecting the bracket, the committee will favor the top two seeds geographically. With the Sugar Bowl serving as the other semifinal, a South-based team would head to New Orleans, leaving Pasadena open to a West Coast team.
But recent history suggests Oregon or the Pac-12 can’t think in those teams until the regular season is completed.
Oklahoma’s freshman running back went where no one else had gone, even beyond Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. With 427 rushing yards against Kansas, Perine broke the record of 408 that Gordon set the previous week against Nebraska. Perine wasn’t supposed to be the Sooners’ best new back entering the year. That was Joe Mixon. But Mixon was suspended for the season after assaulting a female student. And Perine didn’t start on Saturday; Keith Ford did. But Ford lost two fumbles and his job to Perine.
The Razorbacks remain in last place in the SEC West, but a second straight shutout victory over a ranked team has the conference buzzing. A week after blanking LSU, Arkansas roughed up Mississippi 30-0. The Razorbacks became the first unranked team since 1942 to record multiple shutouts of ranked opponents in the same season. Next up: Missouri on Friday in Columbia, with the Tigers playing to go to the SEC Championship Game.
Play for Mike Leach and watch the numbers soar. Falk, in his second start after Connor Halliday went down with a season-ending injury, passed for 601 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-31 loss at Arizona State. Vince Mayle was on the receiving end 15 times for 252 yards.
Missouri Valley Conference
The Football Championship Subdivision bracket was unveiled on Sunday and the Valley landed half of its league in the 24-team field. In are North Dakota State, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and Indiana State. Missouri State, which got off to a fast start at 3-1, finished 4-8 and Coach Terry Allen, formerly the Kansas head coach, stepped down on Sunday. He went 37-64 in nine seasons in Springfield.
A week after ending a three game losing streak with an upset victory at Duke, the Hokies flatlined at Wake Forest in a hideous 6-3 loss in double overtime. If Tech doesn’t defeat Virginia at home Friday its streak of consecutive years qualifying for a bowl game will end at 21.
We’ve found the most consistent football program in the country. Bo Pelini went 9-4 in his first year as the Cornhuskers coach in 2008. His records since: 10-4, 10-4, 9-4, 10-4, 9-4. Nebraska dropped to 8-3 with its loss to Minnesota, so we know the Huskers will split its next two. The regular season finale at Iowa and a bowl game remain.
Ranking the Big 12
d. Oklahoma State 49-28
Texas Tech (Arlington, Tex.)
Topped TCU in polls
at Texas (Thurs.)
Two top defenses meet in Austin
3. Kansas State
d. West Virginia 26-20
Piece of league title in reach
d. Kansas 44-7
Perine changes mood in Norman
Fell to Frogs on Turkey Day in 2012
6. West Virginia
l. Kansas State 26-20
at Iowa State
Riding three-game skid
7. Oklahoma State
l. Baylor 49-28
Rudolph to start Bedlam?
8. Texas Tech
d. Iowa State 34-31
Baylor (Arlington, Tex.)
Washington first Tech back over 1K since ’98
l. Oklahoma 44-7
at Kansas State
What kind of effort will Jayhawks bring?
10. Iowa State
l. Texas Tech 34-31
Last chance for league victory
Ranking the SEC
d. Western Carolina 48-14
Not exactly inspiring vs. Catamounts
2. Mississippi State
d. Vanderbilt 51-0
Egg Bowl means more to Bulldogs
d. Charleston Southern 55-9
All eyes on Mizzou on Friday
d. Tennessee 29-21
Got to fix special teams
d. Mississippi 30-0
at Missouri (Friday)
Two hottest teams meeting in Columbia
d. Sanford 31-7
Just a spoiler for Iron Bowl
at Texas A&M (Thurs.)
Both coming off losses
l. Arkansas 30-0
Flattened in Fayetteville
9. Texas A&M
Just a matter of what bowl game
l. Missouri 29-21
One victory for a bowl game
11. South Carolina
d. South Alabama 37-12
Five straight victories over Tigers
d. Eastern Kentucky 52-3
at Florida State
Can Muschamp alter playoffs on way out?
Need upset for bowl game
l. Mississippi State 51-0
Season can’t end soon enough