College Football 2013: What We Learned in Week 11
The national title picture came a little more into focus with Oregon falling (again) to Stanford. But there is still a lot that can happen as we enter the season’s final month. Here’s what we learned in Week 11 that could shake up the season.
Stanford is Still Oregon’s Kryptonite
For the second straight year, No. 5 Stanford relied on a powerful running game and a stingy defense to end No. 3 Oregon’s national title hopes with a 26-20 victory. The Cardinal knew that the best way to slow down the Ducks’ high-powered offense was to keep it on the sideline. So Stanford pounded the ball early and often, rushing for 274 yards and dominating the time of possession, 42:34 to 17:26. When Oregon’s offense was finally able to get on the field, the Stanford defense stepped up big early in the game, shutting out the Ducks through three quarters and holding Oregon to just 62 total rushing yards. Oregon did finally get untracked late, scoring the game’s final 20 points. But they were unable to recover an onside kick with 2:12 to play and the Cardinal was able to run out the clock while the Ducks once again watched their national title dreams slip away.
Baylor is in the Hunt
For most of the Big 12’s history, Baylor and losing were largely synonomous. But thanks to the nation’s top offense, the No. 6 Bears are now serious national title contenders after getting past their toughest test to date with a big 41-12 win over No. 10 Oklahoma. Early on, it seemed like the Sooners could be the first real test for Baylor, with OU holding a 5-3 lead midway through the second quarter. But the Bears offense finally turned it on, exploding for 31 unanswered points in the game’s next 15 minutes. Third string running back Shock Linwood shredded the Sooners’ defense for 182 yards in the win and the underrated Baylor defense held Oklahoma to just 237 total yards. However, the big win did not come without consequences—WR Tevin Reese, the Bears’ second-leading receiver, suffered a dislocated wrist that will keep him out the rest of the regular season.
Alabama is Still the Team to Beat
No. 13 LSU gave the top-ranked Crimson Tide a scare for much of the night, with the game tied at 17 late in the third quarter. But A.J. McCarron and the Alabama offense quickly slammed that door shut, rolling up 21 unanswered points in the game’s final 15 minutes to secure a 38-17 victory. McCarron, who had only one touchdown in his previous three starts against the Tigers, threw three touchdown passes while running back T.J. Yeldon added 133 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. This was the most points the Crimson Tide had scored against LSU since a 41-12 win in 1947.
Michigan’s Big Ten Dreams Dashed Again
Michigan’s return to glory will have to wait at least one more year after the Wolverines lost at home to Nebraska, 17-13. The loss not only ended the nation’s longest home winning streak (20 games), but officially knocked Michigan out of contention for the Legends Division title. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown and also scored the go-ahead touchdown on a five-yard reception with just over two minutes to play. But the story of the game was the strong performance of a much-maligned Nebraska defense against a Michigan offense that seems to be going in reverse. The Blackshirts held the Wolverines to just 175 total yards, including minus-21 rushing. After rushing for 100+ yards in 12 consecutive games, Michigan has now had negative rushing numbers the last two weeks.
The Miami Defense is MIA
After giving up an average of less than 18 points per game while starting the season 7-0, Miami’s defense has suddenly gone in the tank, giving up a total of 83 points in big losses the last two weeks. In Saturday’s 42-24 home loss to Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes gave up 549 yards while allowing Hokies running back Trey Edmunds to rush for four touchdowns. Miami gave Virginia Tech three early breaks in the first quarter with two special teams fumbles and a turnover-on-downs when a low snap forced Miami punter Pat O’Donnell to field the ball with his knee on the ground. Those three miscues allowed the Hokies to jump out to a 21-7 lead from which Miami could never recover. The Hurricanes are still technically alive in the ACC Coastal Division race, but they have no more margin for error and find themselves looking for answers as the enter the season’s home stretch.