The season is coming to an end.
Northwestern has taken care of its business with a 50-14 win over Illinois (again, I like typing that) and has that impressive win to revel in for the next month as the team prepares for the bowl game. Yes, Northwestern is ranked in the major polls, is back in the BCS at No. 22 and will be ranked in my BlogPoll ballot upcoming.
The bowl picture and where Northwestern might be headed might be as confusing as ever — I certainly have no clue what the rules are where the Wildcats could go except for the fact that it will be somewhere in Florida on New Year’s Day — but the national championship picture could not be much clearer.
At 12-0, Notre Dame will be heading to Miami for the BCS National Championship Game. Joining the Irish will likely be the SEC Championship Game’s winner between the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide. Yes, an SEC team will have a chance to win a another national championship. Blame Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor and others for keeping Ohio State from playing for the crystal football in an all-Midwest national championship game. The Buckeyes are the only other team to finish unbeaten in FBS and get nothing for it.
Those are the breaks, I guess. Not a lot Ohio State can do about it and so a one-loss team will get their opportunity.
So let’s get to the BlogPoll. As always, let me know your thoughts and revisions and I may add them to future drafts.
1. Notre Dame
Last Week: defeated USC 22-13. Projected Bowl: BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 7/7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: The Fighting Irish defense stood tall at the goal line on two occasions to keep the Trojans from sneaking out a surprise victory. USC just did not have the horses to keep up with the physical bend-don’t-break defense from Notre Dame. More importantly, the Trojans did not have the ability to control either line of scrimmage. The defense did its job so too did Theo Riddick, who racked up 146 yards on 20 carries. Riddick got stronger as the game went on and Notre Dame wore down USC’s front seven.
2. Ohio State
Last Week: defeated No. 16 Michigan 26-21. This Week: Season Complete.
The Buzz: It was somewhat ironic that in Ohio State’s last game this year, the team celebrated its last undefeated team from 2001 and carried Jim Tressel off the field. Ironic since he is the reason the Buckeyes will not be playing for a national championship this year. That should make Ohio State fans relatively upset. As one of two undefeated BCS-conference teams, Ohio State has earned their way into a championship shot. Those darn sanctions got in the way. The Buckeyes’ final game, a victory over the rival Wolverines, will be a good way to end the season.
Last Week: defeated Auburn 49-0. This Week: SEC Championship Game vs. No. 5 Georgia (3 p.m. CT/CBS)
The Buzz: The Crimson Tide nearly had the biggest win over the Tigers in the Iron Bowl’s history — that would be 55-0. Whatever Alabama did, it was enough to get Gene Chizik fired and send Auburn to one of its worst seasons in recent memory. It is always disappointing when this rivalry is this much of a blowout considering how both teams have played a role in the national championship for the last four years. Eddie Lacy had 131 yards rushing and A.J. McCarron had 216 yards passing and four touchdowns to lead Alabama in the win.
Last Week: defeated No. 24 Oregon State 48-24. Projected Bowl: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3/7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Another week, another big offensive performance from Oregon. Albeit a week too late. The Ducks racked up 570 total yards in the Civil War battle with the Beavers. Kenjon Barner had 198 yards and De’Anthony Thomas had 122 yards rushing for Oregon as the team got back to its winning ways. Again, too bad it was a week late. Stanford’s win over UCLA keeps Oregon out of the Pac-12 Championship Game and the team has no more chances to build its resume and sneak into the national championship game. Tough luck, Oregon.
Last Week: defeated Georgia Tech 42-10. This Week: SEC Championship Game vs. No. 3 Alabama (3 p.m. CT/CBS)
The Buzz: The Bulldogs had no problem dispatching of the Yellow Jackets behind 215 passing yards and two touchdowns from Aaron Murray. Georgia has really woken up since that early season loss to South Carolina and has run through the SEC. Of course that run did not include Alabama. Both of these teams feature strong defenses and pretty complete offenses. It should be a good matchup in Atlanta in the quasi-BCS semifinal game.
Last Week: defeated Iowa 13-7. This Week: Big Ten Championship Game vs. Wisconsin (7:17 p.m. CT/FOX)
The Buzz: Yet again, the Cornhuskers needed a second half comeback to secure a win and a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game. This has really become this team’s identity — even needing a 17-point turnaround to defeat Wisconsin earlier this year. No doubt it is a dangerous way to play, but Nebraska has found a way to survive it. So does Taylor Martinez have one more game of magic for Nebraska to win its first Big Ten championship and make the trip to the Rose Bowl?
Last Week: lost to No. 2 Ohio State 26-21. Projected Bowl: Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1/12 p.m. CT/ABC)
The Buzz: The Wolverines proved to be game against the Buckeyes and had a real chance at winning. Unfortunately the two-headed quarterback monster was not enough to secure the win. Until the fourth quarter though, it seemed to be working fine. Denard Robinson totaled 10 carries for 122 yards as he did not attempt a pass for Michigan. Devin Gardner went 11 for 20 for 171 yards. Michigan just could not come up with enough offense against Ohio State’s defense to ruin Ohio State’s perfect season.
Last Week: defeated Illinois 50-14. Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl (Jan. 1/12 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: The Wildcats defeated their arch-nemesis from downstate in a dominating fashion on Saturday. This seemed to be exactly the formula Northwestern needs to use to win. While the defense and offense are struggling, lean on the star players to carry you through until the rest of the team gets into rhythm. A 24-point third quarter proved to be the dam bursting after Kain Colter and Venric Mark did a good job making plays in the first half. The defense overcame a rough start and Illinois could not get out of its own way. Just a great Saturday.
Last Week: lost to Pittsburgh 27-6. This Week: vs. Louisville (Thursday/6:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Rutgers welcomed itself to the Big Ten… by tripping over itself at Pittsburgh and possibly keeping the team out of a BCS bowl berth as the Big East’s champion. Whoops.