1. Oklahoma State dumps Baylor - We've got more on the specifics of Oklahoma State's 49-17 boat racing of Baylor here, but let's take a wide angle look at Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy's program is a Big 12-best 41-9 since 2010; the Cowboys hosted Oklahoma for a shot at the conference championship game in 2010, won the league outright in 2011 and need a win over their Bedlam rivals on December 7 to take two Big 12 crowns in three years. Three top 10 finishes in four seasons is a definite possibility. Oklahoma State doesn't have the history of Texas or Oklahoma, and it doesn't have the flash of Baylor. The Cowboys will just have to settle for being the Big 12's best program of the decade.
2. Arizona flips the script on Oregon - Many pundits called Stanford's 26-20 win over Oregon on November 7 the best win by any team in the 2013 season. If they're correct, what does that make Arizona's 42-16 demolition of Oregon? The Wildcats did to Oregon what Oregon usually does to opponents; Arizona jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led 35-9 after three. The Wildcats rode the hot hand of prolific tailback Ka'Deem Carey (48 carries, 206 yards, four touchdowns) and let quarterback B.J. Denker fill in the gaps (19-of-22 passing for 178 yards with two touchdowns, 14 carries for 102 yards).
Pulling the lens back one level, this was the game Rich Rodriguez and staff have been building toward in this the 24th game of their tenure. If Arizona is good enough to pull off this, there's no reason this same team should drop a home game to Washington State like they did one week ago. The regular season finale at Arizona State will be a great litmus test for the maturity of this program.
2a. The Sad State of Ohhhregon - On October 19, Oregon and Oregon State were a combined 12-1 and averaging a collective 54.7 points per game. Since then, the Civil War rivals are a combined 2-6, scoring 20 points or fewer six of the eight games (and another was Oregon State's 69-27 loss to Washington last night in which the Beavers trailed 62-6 in the fourth quarter). Limping into their annual meeting Saturday in Eugene, Oregon has lost two of its last three, while Oregon State has dropped four straight and looked worse in each outing.
3. Todd Graham makes good - In our interview over the summer, I asked Todd Graham about his all-encompassing obsession with the Rose Bowl. "We talk about winning and winning a Rose Bowl, that represents winning every day, every rep, every practice, every classroom, on the field, off the field, in the classroom, in the community, winning every day," he said then. Keep in mind this is at a program with two Rose Bowl appearances in 35 years as Pac-12 member, most recently in 1996.
But with a hold-on-by-the-seat-of-your-pants 38-33 win over UCLA on Saturday night, Arizona State has now clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship on December 7 against Stanford, and will win the honor of hosting the game by beating Arizona on Saturday. For a guy who (for good reason) didn't inspire a lot of trust upon his arrival, I'd imagine Graham has built a bank of belief inside the Sun Devils' locker room.
4. Mr. November - Vanderbilt beat Tennessee 14-10 on Saturday night, giving the Commodores their first back-to-back wins over Tennessee for the first time since winning six straight from 1920-26. The win moves James Franklin's team to 3-0 in November with a home game against Wake Forest coming on Saturday. Franklin has now won eight straight games in November and, depending on the bowl draw, has a fantastic shot at matching last year's remarkable 9-4 record.
5. Day of the Tiger in the SEC - They didn't take down top five teams, but LSU and Missouri put up victories worth celebrating on Saturday. THe purple and gold Tigers made Texas A&M play their game in a 34-10 whitewashing of Texas A&M. All things considered, this was LSU's best performance since beating then-No. 3 Arkansas 41-17 on November 25, 2011. Later in the day, the black and gold Tigers topped Ole Miss 24-10 to move within one win of the SEC Championship. The 10-1 Tigers out-rushed the Rebels 260-126 and held Ole Miss to its second-lowest point total of the season. After an injury-riddled 5-7 debut season, Gary Pinkel's team has adjusted to life in the SEC quite nicely in year two.
6. The most entertaining teams in the country - I wrote Friday that, though I had no idea what it would be, something would happen in both Michigan and Nebraska's games. Sure enough, each team delivered (if you want to call it that). The Wolverines blew a 21-7 halftime lead to lose 24-21 at Iowa, dropping Brady Hokes' team from 5-0 to 7-4. In State College, Nebraska rallied from a 20-17 fourth quarter deficit to beat Penn State 23-20 in overtime. Three of the 8-3 Huskers' last four games have been in doubt down to the wire.
7. Oklahoma finds an identity - It took 11 games, but Oklahoma appears to have found its identity in the post-Landry Jones, throw every down era. With redshirt freshman Trevor Knight taking the reins of the offense, the Sooners ran 52 times for 301 yards and three touchdowns while sprinkling in 21 passes for 171 yards and another score in a 41-31 win at Kansas State. Don't look now, but an eighth Big 12 title for Bob Stoops is still a possibility. Stoops also passed Barry Switzer as the all-time winningest coach in Oklahoma history on Saturday.
8(0). A pair of ACC teams hit 80 points. 80. - North Carolina threw five touchdown, ran for four, returned both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown and added a 38-yard field goal to put 80 on the scoreboard by the 3:50 mark of the third quarter en route to an 80-20 win over Old Dominion. Florida State threw for five, rushed for four and returned two interceptions for touchdowns, plus a 42-yard field goal, to beat Idaho 80-14.
9. A game too good to slip through the cracks - Navy's 58-52 triple-overtime win over San Jose State started late Friday night, but it ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning on the East coast so technically we can work it into this column. Navy quarterback Keeanan Reynolds completed 4-of-6 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown and rushed 36 times for 240 yards and an FBS-record seven touchdowns. As a team, Navy ran 62 times for 432 yards. The 7-4 Midshipmen have now won three straight and four out of five - the lone loss coming 38-34 at Notre Dame - with two weeks off to prepare for Army. Navy will also retain the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the ninth time in 11 years.
10. Rapid Fire -
- East Carolina beat N.C. State 42-28 yesterday, giving the Pirates wins over North Carolina and N.C. State in the same season for the first time in school history. The Pirates are (rightfully) thrilled.
- Duke (DUKE!) is 9-2 with a 28-21 win over Wake Forest and will play for a spot in the ACC Championship against North Carolina on Saturday.
- It's too bad the NCAA couldn't bring back the tie for one game on Saturday, because I'm not sure either Arkansas or Mississippi State really deserved to declare a winner. The Bulldogs prevailed, 24-17 in overtime.
- Addazio! The Boston College head coach has ridden his clydesdale of a running back Andre Williams to more yards by a running back since at least 2007 - 2,073 on the year and at least 250 in each his last three games - to a four-game winning streak. The Eagles are already up five wins over last year's total.
- The Iron Bowl isn't the only winner-takes-the-division game on Saturday. Both Conference USA divisional races have come down to the wire: East Carolina visits Marshall on Friday for the East Division title, and Tulane visits Rice on Saturday for the West Division crown. Bowling Green visits Buffalo on Friday with the MAC East title and a spot opposite Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship awarded to the winner.
- Congratulations to Mark Dantonio and Michigan State, earning win No. 10 and a spot opposite Ohio State in the Big Ten title game with a 30-6 defeat of Northwestern.
- Other conference title spots clinched on Saturday: Fresno State (vs. Utah State or Boise State) and Arizona State vs. Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship. The site will be determined with Arizona State's game with Arizona. Sun Devils win, Stanford heads to Tempe. They lose, and Stanford hosts Arizona State for the second time this season.
- Tim Beckman is no longer winless in Big Ten play. Illinois topped Purdue, 20-16, and the 4-7 Illini may even be favored in their season finale against 4-7 Northwestern.
- With wins by Kansas last week and Illinois this week, the longest in-conference losing streak among BCS teams now belongs to Kentucky at 15 games. The Wildcats' last SEC win came in a 10-7 triumph over Tennessee on November 26, 2011.
- Speaking of Tennessee, the Volunteers clinched their fourth straight losing season and their third consecutive bowl-less season with Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt. And everyone in Knoxville says 2014 should be worse than 2013. Say a prayer for Butch Jones.
- California concluded its 2013 season on Saturday with a 63-13 loss to Stanford. Hard to believe we're already here.