Let’s recap Week 9 shall we?
Game of the week: No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma
Final score: Irish 30, Sooners 13
Pregame rant: This is the Irish’s toughest test yet. Oklahoma’s lone loss was to No. 4 Kansas State, which has risen to the top of the Big 12.
It’s a classic match-up. Oklahoma is averaging 488.17 yards and 44.67 points a game. Notre Dame is allowing just 280.71 yards and 9.43 points a game.
Something has to give.
Post-game commentary: The Irish didn’t give.
Oklahoma rushed for just 15 yards on 24 rushing attempts in falling to Notre Dame at home. The Sooners may have given up on the run too early, but they couldn’t have expected the Irish’s offense to hit them so many big plays last week.
Before this game, I thought all the talk about Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o winning the Heisman Trophy was a bit much.
After seeing how he leads the best defense in the nation outside of Alabama’s, I’m rethinking my votes. He had 11 tackles, a sack and an interception last week. Great player.
No. 13 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama
Final score: Crimson Tide 38, Bulldogs 7
Pregame rant: As dominant as the Tide have been this season, the only team they have beaten that’s still ranked is No. 20 Michigan. Their remaining victories have come against teams that have a combined 19-23 record.
Saturday’s game against Mississippi State will be the first of a three-game stretch in which the Tide play at No. 6 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M. Alabama’s championship mettle is about to be tested.
Post-game commentary: Mississippi State proved to be little match for the Tide.
Winning 38-7, Alabama didn’t allow any points until four minutes, 39 seconds were left in the game. Simply dominant.
Up next? No. 5 LSU, which was the last team to beat the Tide. Alabama has won 12 straight since that 9-6 overtime home loss to the Tigers.
No. 9 Ohio State at Penn State
Final score: Buckeyes 35, Nittany Lions 23
Pregame rant: With neither of these teams eligible to win an Big Ten title, some might find this game meaningless.
The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions think otherwise.
For Ohio State, it’s a chance to stay unbeaten and further reestablish itself as the Big Ten’s best under Urban Meyer. For Penn State, it’s a chance to get a signature win in a season that started off disastrous on so many different levels.
If quarterback Braxton Miller can play up to his standard after going down with a neck injury last week against Purdue, Ohio State wins.
If he’s not 100 percent, Penn State will stun the Buckeyes.
Post-game commentary: Miller was fine, which spelled doom for the Nittany Lions.
The Heisman Trophy candidate rushed for 134 yards, two touchdowns and threw a 72-yard score in leading the Buckeyes to a 35-23 win. Take way Penn State’s blocked punt for a touchdown and final score is even more lopsided.
What Ohio State did was make Penn State’s offense one dimensional. Not that Penn State had a great running game, but the Buckeyes limited the Nittany Lions to just 32 yards on the ground. By doing so, Ohio State made it tougher for Matt McGloin to throw the ball.
No. 22 Texas A&M at Auburn
Final score: Aggies 63, Tigers 21
Pregame rant: When you’re an SEC team and you to Vanderbilt, your season is over.
After losing 17-14 to the Commodores, Auburn’s season is a wrap.
Now granted half their losses are to teams currently ranked in No. 14 Clemson, No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 6 LSU, but Gene Chizik’s seat is hotter than a man standing in the middle of the desert in El Paso wearing thermal underwear and a winter coat in late August.
Post-game commentary: After a loss like that, it’s become clear the Tigers have dialed in the season. They’ll rise up for their rivalry game against Alabama, but the season is over.
The only drama left is Chizik’s future at Auburn. Based on last week’s effort alone, safe to say it’s bleak.
No. 21 Boise State at Wyoming
Final score: Broncos 45, Cowboys 14
Pregame rant: Boise State has won its last six games. Wyoming has only won once.
The numbers won’t lie Saturday.
Post-game commentary: In their expected win, Boise State was 12-of-14 on 3rd-down conversions. The Broncos made it look easy.
Indiana at Illinois
Final score: Hoosiers 31, Illini 17
Pregame rant: The Big Ten Leaders division is a mess.
Penn State and Ohio State are ineligible for the conference title. Wisconsin started the season with a near loss to an FCS school – Northern Iowa.
As for the bottom three teams, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana are a combined 0-9 in Big Ten play.
Take time to walk the dog during this one.
Post-game commentary: How did the Hoosiers win this game despite going 1-of-13 on 3rd-down conversions?
The Indiana quarterback came off the bench to go 10-of-15 for 107 yards and two touchdowns to help the Hoosiers snap a 10-game losing skid in Big Ten play.
– Duane Rankin