November has brought some clarity in the BCS standings. One powerhouse has stumbled, while another has moved in and set up shop in what now looks like a two-horse race to the finish line.
AN OLDIE BUT A GOODIE: Oregon has only lost two games in the last two seasons and both have come at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal. For all the flashy offensive firepower that the Ducks possess, it seems that David Shaw knows how to stop it. Shaw hasn't exactly re-invented the wheel in Palo Alto, Calif., but rather uses an "Old School" approach to football that has served him and his team well, especially in two upset wins over Oregon. The Cardinal pushed the Ducks around on both sides of the football last Thursday night, running out to a 26-0 lead before holding on for a six-point win. The game wasn't nearly as close as the score would indicate. Stanford ran the ball 66 times for 274 yards and won the time of possession battle nearly three quarters to one (42:34 to 17:26). The defense did the rest, limiting one of the nation's most explosive offenses to a modest 312 total yards.
Last season was another example of Stanford's approach to winning football. The Cardinal posted a 17-14 overtime upset of the then-No. 1 ranked Ducks. Again the Cardinal owned a significant edge in time of possession (over 16- minute advantage). While Shaw's squad is no longer considered a contender for the national title - Utah saw to that a few weeks ago - the Cardinal are in the driver's seat to win the Pac-12 now. Don't expect Shaw to change anything going forward and for the foreseeable future.
KEEPING EYES ON THE PRIZE: While Oregon's dreams of a national title took a big hit last week, Florida State has dug in for the long haul. The Seminoles already knew of the Ducks' demise before taking the field against Wake Forest this past Saturday, but they wasted little time in putting the Demon Deacons away, cruising to a 59-3 rout. With the win and Oregon's loss, FSU has now solidified itself in the No. 2 spot in both the AP Top 25 and the BCS rankings.
In looking forward, there is probably a better chance of the two-time defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide slipping up down the stretch than the Seminoles. Alabama, which knocked off LSU this past weekend in Tuscaloosa to remain atop the polls, must play Mississippi State, Chattanooga and Auburn to close out the regular season and then must get past Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. Meanwhile, Florida State gets Syracuse this week, followed by Idaho and a struggling Florida squad, before an ACC Championship Game against what appears to be an overmatched Coastal Division foe. Stranger things have certainly happened, but it is looking more and more like an Alabama/Florida State showdown in Pasadena, Calif., come Jan. 7.
BAD ENGLISH: Although it was a profanity-laced tirade that ultimately cost Ron English his job at Eastern Michigan last week, that was simply the straw that broke the camel's back. The reality of the situation is that it was fortuitous timing for the powers that be that English's recent ramblings were taped and then broadcast for the world to hear. He probably wasn't going to survive the season, with EMU's 1-8 start. He took over in 2009 and promptly put up an 0-12 record. That was followed by a 2-10 mark in 2010. The 2011 mark was a high- water mark for the Eagles under English as they finished 6-6 overall and he was named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year. However, 2012 saw the team fall right back to its losing ways at 2-10. On thin ice heading into this season, that ice finally broke this week and English was shown the door. It remains to be seen where he goes from here, but an 11-46 record as head coach isn't something to be highlighted on any resume.
TOP PERFORMERS: Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase (450 yards, 2 TDs) and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (446 yards, 5 TDs) lit up the airways last weekend.
Other gun slingers with big performances included Ole Miss' Bo Wallace (407 yards, 3 TDs), SMU's Garrett Gilbert (403 yards, 2 TD passes, 1 rushing TD), East Carolina's Shane Carden (384 yards, 5 TDs), New Mexico State's Andrew McDonald (384 yards, 3 TDs), Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas (366 yards, 2 TDs), Fresno State's Derek Carr (360 yards, 4 TDs), Miami (Fla.)'s Stephen Morris (324 yards, 2 TDs), Washington's Keith Price (312 yards, 2 TD passes, 2 TD runs), San Jose State's David Fales (301 yards, 3 TDs), Ball State's Keith Wenning (299 yards, four TDs), Missouri's Maty Mauk (203 yards, 5 TDs), Navy's Keenan Reynolds (59 passing yards, 1 TD; 226 rushing yards, 4 TDs) and Auburn's Nick Marshall (35 passing yards, 1 TD; 214 rushing yards, 2 TDs).
Colorado State's Kapri Bibbs had the biggest day for running backs in the FBS ranks this past weekend, rumbling for 312 yards and four TDs on 30 carries in a win over Nevada. Other came close with Boston College's Andre Williams (295 yards, 2 TDs), Buffalo's Branden Oliver (249 yards, 2 TDs), Indiana's Tevin Coleman (215 yards, 2 TDs), Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (207 yards, 1 TD), and North Texas' Brandin Byrd (202 yards, 2 TDs) all eclipsing the 200-yard mark. Others with strong outings included Hawaii's Joey Iosefa (191 yards, 1 TD), Baylor's Rashodrick Linwood (187 yards), New Mexico's Kasey Carrier (179 yards), Air Force's Anthony LaCoste (177 yards), Purdue's Jordan Canzeri (165 yards, 1 TD), Stanford's Tyler Gaffney (157 yards, 1 TD), Kansas State's John Hubert (157 yards, 1 TD), Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (149 yards, 1 TD), Eastern Michigan's Ryan Brumfield (148 yards, 2 TDs), Wisconsin's James White (147 yards, 3 TDs) and Washington's Bishop Sankey (143 yards, 1 TD).
WRs: Illinois' Steve Hull led all receivers last weekend, with nine catches, for 224 yards and two TDs in a shootout loss to Indiana.
Other receivers of note included Indiana's Cody Latimer (11 catches, 189 yards, 3 TDs), Central Michigan's Titus Davis (9 catches, 187 yards, 1 TD), Idaho's Dezmon Epps (9 catches, 175 yards, 1 TD), Fresno State's Josh Harper (9 catches, 159 yards), San Jose State's Chandler Jones (11 catches, 155 yards, 1 TD), Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief (7 catches, 149 yards, 1 TD), New Mexico State's Austin Franklin (10 catches, 145 yards, 2 TDs), Miami (Fla.)'s Allen Hurns (4 catches, 142 yards, 1 TD) and Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham (7 catches, 100 yards, 4 TDs).
SNEAK PEEK: A pair of Top 25 matchups highlight the action in Week 12. It will start in the SEC, where seventh-ranked Auburn plays host to 25th-ranked Georgia. The other marquee matchup will take place in the Big 12 as 12th- ranked Oklahoma State battles 23rd-ranked Texas in Austin.
Other games of interest include Washington at 13th-ranked UCLA, 14th-ranked Michigan State at Nebraska, 24th-ranked Miami at Duke, Houston at 19th-ranked Louisville, Texas Tech at fourth-ranked Baylor and fifth-ranked Stanford at USC.