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The College Football Report: Connect Four

By Mike Luce

We'll gloss over the bulk of last weekend's action today to focus on the four games that had most affected the BCS picture: Iowa vs. Northwestern, LSU vs. Alabama, Oregon vs. Stanford, and Notre Dame vs. Navy.

Off we go!

Iowa vs. Northwestern
The other shoe finally dropped on Iowa. I haven't been rooting against the Hawkeyes, but I have been skeptical. Iowa played too many unexpectedly close games. The Big 10, while not top-heavy with elite teams like Florida and Texas, simply has too many solid teams to coast through an entire season.

Sadly, an injury to QB Ricky Stanzi in the second quarter effectively ended Iowa's bid for a perfect season and a shot at the national championship. After 14 straight wins (dating back to last season) and four comebacks in the fourth quarter, the dream was over.

Making matters worse, it looks like Stanzi will miss Saturday's game against the Buckeyes in Columbus. Rather than a true acid test, college football fans will be forced to watch as Ohio State shellacks the visiting Hawkeyes and clinches the Big 10 title and a spot in the Rose Bowl. We can only hope that OSU will go on to lose to Oregon or possibly USC (again). Sigh.

LSU vs. Alabama
Injuries also fouled up the LSU-Alabama game. The first half was a defensive struggle, with LSU leading heavily favored 'Bama 7-3 at halftime. But the Tigers lost starting QB Jordan Jefferson and RB Charles Scott in the second half. While Jefferson's loss may have derailed the passing game, losing Scott seemed to completely alter the playbook for Louisiana State. The senior had piled up 83 yards by the third quarter, including a 34-yard sprint that ended in an awkward tackle and a shoulder injury. LSU's offense, prone to bouts of futility, nearly ground to a halt.

Meanwhile on defense, LSU continued to hang tough until cramping forced CB Patrick Peterson to the sidelines. The Tide immediately exploited his replacement - a safety playing out of position at corner - with a short pass to stud receiver Julio Jones. One juke move and 73 yards later, Jones sailed into the end zone and clinched the game for Alabama.

Oregon vs. Stanford
Out west, the Ducks dropped a stunner to the Stanford Cardinal. I can't even make sense of the Pac-10 right now. Let's table any further discussion and take a deeper look at the West Coast later this week.

Notre Dame vs. Navy
Finally, the long-awaited end to the Charlie Weis Era at Notre Dame may be in sight. We predicted his demise earlier this season when picking USC to romp ND at home in Week 7. But the prospect of a 10-2 season and a berth in a BCS also-ran bowl game might have staved off the inevitable. So much for that idea. For the first time since 1936, an unranked Navy team beat Notre Dame. Ouch. With a sub-.500 record since the start of the 2007 season, and a road game against Pittsburgh (-7 in the early lines) this weekend, it looks like the Irish will be seeking a new savior in January if not before.

The Rest of the Best
Let's take a look at the remainder of the BCS Top 14 (those teams eligible for a BCS bowl) from Week 10. You might notice that the favorites went an appalling 4-8 against the spread last weekend. I don't remember a worse weekend for "the chalk" in a long time. The following is for entertainment purposes only, including gambling.

- Vanderbilt 3 @ #1 Florida 27 (-35)
- UCF 3 @ #2 Texas 35 (-35)
- #9 LSU 15 @ #3 Alabama 24 (-7)*
- Northwestern 17 @ #4 Iowa 10 (-14.5)**
- Connecticut 45 @ #5 Cincinnati 47 (-17)
- #6 TCU 55 (-24.5) @ San Diego State 12
- #8 Oregon 42 (-7) @ Stanford 51
- Wake Forest 27 @ #10 Georgia Tech 30 OT (-14)
- #16 Ohio State 24 @ #11 Penn State 7 (-5.5)
- #12 USC (-12) 14 @ Arizona State 9***
- Syracuse 10 @ #13 Pittsburgh 37 (-21.5)
- New Mexico 14 @ #14 Utah 45 (-27.5)

* While the outcome wasn't much of a mystery, the point spread swung on a pair of two-point conversions. Les Miles opted to try for two early in the third quarter and missed. Due to the margin, 'Bama went for two after its next score to force a two-score lead. Had both teams just kicked extra points, the game would have ended in a push. Just another example of how gambling can ruin your enjoyment of sports.

** The line for this game shrank by two points, leading me to believe that Vegas desperately needed somebody to put some action on NU.

*** See what I mean? What the hell is going on out there . . . ?

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.

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Posted on Nov 26, 2021