The Notre Dame Fighting Irish might have come out of Saturday still unbeaten, but they were losers on Sunday when the BCS rankings came out. The Oregon Ducks, fresh off dropping 62 points on USC's pathetic defense (while giving up 51 points to the Trojan offense), got just enough of a computer poll boost to pass Notre Dame for third.
It was to be expected. But what did we learn from the previous week of college football?
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama faced a strong defense for the first time since the Michigan game. The results were not pretty. AJ McCarron looked like a helpless idiot for most of the game, and the Alabama defense got pushed around by LSU. If not for a series of terrible tactical moves by Les Miles, Alabama would have been effectively shut out of the national championship race.
But alas, Les Miles is Les Miles, so Bama lives to fight another day. Their offense is just as awful against a real defense as it was last year, only more so without Trent Richardson. Their defense is nowhere near as impregnable as people have been giving it credit for being either, and they have to face the high flying Texas A&M air raid attack this week. Texas A&M has lost two games to the two best defenses in America by less than a score each. We have a strong feeling the Aggies are going to win this weekend in Tuscaloosa, and we think Nick Saban is going to personally filet every SEC writer that asked Kevin Sumlin if he was scared of the SEC after it happens.
The Wildcats exploded all over another Big 12 team, racking up 44 points while limiting the potent Oklahoma State air raid to only 30. The big story, however, was that all-everything quarterback and Heisman hopeful Colin Klein suffered a concussion during the game, and his status is in question for this week's bout against the always feisty TCU Horned Frogs.
The Horned Frogs just outlasted WVU thanks to some timely defense and some gutsy play calls. Any trip to Fort Worth is usually a difficult one thanks to Gary Patterson and his innovative 4-2-5 defense. If Colin Klein is unable to play, you have to worry about whether the Wildcats can survive a game against such a good opponent.
For whatever it's worth, if Klein is healthy, Kansas State is clearly the best team in the country given how terrible Alabama looked against LSU. There's nobody else who has as strong an offense AND defense on one team. The problem of course is if Kansas State doesn't have a healthy Klein.
3. Oregon Ducks
Well, so much for the meme that the Ducks' defense was MUCH IMPROVED. Yeah yeah, USC can score a lot of points. Nobody (with a brain, anyway) thought USC's defense would do well against the Ducks, but I don't think many expected the Ducks defense to perform so bad in their first real test of the season.
Oregon will go do awful things to Cal this week, and they may just do enough damage to get beleaguered head coach Jeff Tedford fired by half time. It won't mean much, considering how bad Cal is at everything, but it'll look impressive, in the same way that watching the 1992 Gulf War on CNN was impressive.
Look, we know full well that at this point, a non-Notre Dame fan could easily read what we write under that OREGON tag and think we're pretty much the biggest haters in the world. Fair enough. But the ESPN- generated meme that THIS DUCKS TEAM IS DIFFERENT! is a load of old horse dung. Their defense is just as awful as it always is, they're just as loaded with offensive skill position talent as they always are, the no-huddle still causes defensive seizures, and the Kiffins are terrible coaches.
That doesn't mean Oregon is not deserving of playing in a national championship. It just means they aren't any better than the teams ESPN used to tell us weren't quite good enough until they figured out that an all-SEC national championship game was ratings death and decided to pick someone outside the SEC to hype to death.
The Pitt game raised a lot of troubling questions about Notre Dame. The offense looked so rotten for three quarters that it made it very difficult to imagine a scenario where Notre Dame could keep up with Kansas State or Oregon, or even think about moving the ball against Alabama or the aforementioned Wildcats in a national title game. Yes, they got their stuff together in the fourth quarter, but when you're playing one of those teams ranked ahead of Notre Dame, you rarely get a chance to futz around for three quarters and then fix yourself in the fourth.
This is the second time this year that Notre Dame let a big performance go to their head and affect the next week of games. The Irish, fresh off beating the junk out of Navy in week one, returned home to South Bend and let a completely and utterly worthless Purdue team hang around and almost beat them. Purdue stopped Notre Dame's offense cold, and it took Tommy Rees' first relief appearance of the season to win the ball game. Purdue had absolutely no business having a lead over Notre Dame at any point, let alone the in the fourth quarter.
Give that THAT should have been the Irish's wake up call, it's really alarming that Notre Dame apparently needed a second one after Pitt came out and punched them in the mouth early and often last Saturday. Coach Brian Kelly spends at least five minutes out of every press conferences lecturing the media about how he does not pay attention to BCS talk, or let the team do any of that either. Yet, it seems he hasn't quite broken the Irish players from the old habits of the Weis era, where everyone on the team walked around thinking they had already won the national championship before the season started, no matter how many times they got beat by Navy.
The Irish are playing one of the absolute worst teams in America this weekend when they travel to Chestnut Hill to play the Boston College Eagles. If they can't blow those failures out, then we should all start hoping the BCS gods spare Notre Dame the embarrassment of getting waxed in a national championship game.
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