NCAA Week 11: Stock Up, Stock Down
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It's not often that a Saturday of college football action can out-snark a snark column, but it's happened.
How much more snarkitude is needed when the stories write themselves?
So, time to put the ol' keyboard on cruise control and beat an early exit to warm up for happy hour. As if that's never been done before in the sports media business.
Stock Up: Backup QBs ... Full marks to Kevin Sumlin and Mike Leach. Understudies usually don't get many reps in practice, but pass-first offenses need a second slinger on call at a moment's notice, and these coaches give them that time. Texas A&M and Washington State reaped the benefits on Saturday. Freshman Kyle Allen ripped a suspect Auburn secondary for 277 yards and four TDs on a 19-for-29 performance.
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman walk-on Luke Falk strafed Oregon State for a Leach-like 471 yards and five TDs on a 44-of-61 debut as a starter.
Stock Down: Bumbling Bumbleweeds ... Remember Tony Washington Jr? He's the Oregon LB whose 15-yarder for showboating cost Oregon dearly against Arizona. He was on hand in Salt Lake to witness the 2014 Leon Lett Award winner, Kaelin Clay, whose premature ejection at the goal line aligned him with such self-absorbed notables as DeSean Jackson:
Kudos to Oregon DB Erick Dargan for keeping his eyes on the ref. That's what alerted Walker, and the convoy was on.
Washington admitted his stupidity, and now Clay has done the same. Still. Why isn't History 101 a mandatory class for athletes and public figures? Learning from the past mistakes of others never seems to go out of style.
Then there's Auburn's version of déja vu dual disasters:
Time to check the Hollywood archives to see if all those were actually deleted scenes from Horse Feathers.
Stock Up: Arizona State ... This is a prime example why cross-regional non-cons are pivotal. The Sun Devils took their foot off the gas against Notre Dame and made the final score closer than the game really was. Not only did this game ensure that the Pac-12 championship bout will be a CFP play-in if the Devils and Ducks hold serve, it also adjusted perspective on not only the Irish, but their opponents to date. One in particular comes to mind.
Stock Down: Unplayable Lies ... Golfers have four options for those. Football teams don't. Which means Les Miles wasn't making this face in the Master's Tournament gallery:
If that isn't worth a juicer full of grass, nothing is.
Stock Up: Ohio State ... Like it or not, waxing Sparty puts the Buckeyes in the CFP conversation. Assuming they win out and have an impressive showing in the Big Ten title game, these dudes could put a second thought or two in the Selection Committee's collective mind. Especially if another wacky weekend or two presents itself between now and Sun 7 Dec.
Stock Down: SEC East ... And here's Wacky Central. Don't look now, but Missouri -- conquered at home by Indiana -- has the inside track for division honors. Even if it loses to Texas A&M, Georgia still must meet an agitated Auburn. If Mizzou actually gets to the title game -- lackluster portfolio and all -- what happens if it pulls an Indiana on the SEC West's last team standing? The unthinkable? Mexico would be on high alert.
Stock Up: Quack Attack ... The annual knock on Oregon is that stout, physical defenses shuts it down. Not this year. Michigan State, Stanford, Washington, and Utah all held high reputations, and they weren't up to the task. The Utes had allowed only five rushing TD's all year -- second only to Alabama's two -- and the Ducks tacked on a pair to complement their stifling of the Sack Lake City pass rush. With one exception, they're back to posting video game numbers.
Stock Down: TCU ... The Horny Toads may have pasted K-State to gain a share of the Big XII lead, but they need help to formalize it. They're in the mop-up duty portion of the schedule, while Baylor hosts all of Okie State, Pretty Boy Tech, and Kansas State. The Bears hold the title tie-breaker by virtue of its colossal comeback against TCU in Waco. The scoreboard is supposed to trump eye tests in the New Way, so if Baylor wins out, look for a lotta purple in an access bowl near you.
Stock Up: Charlie Strong ... Culture change doesn't come cheaply, but Texas will be better for it. Mack Brown was too beholden to boosters in the end, wad-droppers who almost blew too much chasing the wrong dude for their school. The Longhorns' upset of West Virginia with a brace of underclassmen featuring in the result was yet another sign how quickly Strong is restoring the 'Horns program to where its performance once again matches its mega-budget.
Stock Down: Florida State ... It's not how you start, but how you finish. And that's what the 'Noles are expecting the Selection Committee to notice. Justifiably so, but with only four berths available, this crew is playing with nearly as much fire as Jameis Winston does all by himself. Trailing Virginia after trailing in so many other games wasn't going to take its toll on Saturday, but after watching the Irish get fricasseed in Tempe, Florida State is looking more and more like a good team -- not a great team -- in a weak league.
Stock Up: Colorado State ... The Rams are ranked in the faux polls. Time to see what the Selection Committee says. They're in a race for that ort the Power Five tossed the Other Five, namely, a spot in a big-payoff access bowl. Marshall's still undefeated but with a creampuff schedule. Boise State's the issue. The Broncos are the sole blight on Colorado State's record, which gives them the pole position as the Mountain West's title tilt qualifier from their division. They barely escaped Albuquerque on Saturday, so now the Rams must win out and hope for help from Utah State.
Stock 'Waayyy Down: Bowl Eligibility ... Often overlooked in all the national title hype is that bowl season is party time for the players. And there are lotsa parties out there. So many, in fact, that right now, it could be close trying to fill them via the usual eligibility criteria, ie- six wins, of which five must be against FBS teams. So don't think non-CFP contenders are playing for pride alone. Swag beckons.
The old college try is alive and well.