College football topics

Oregon's Kinjon Barner beats a would-be Southern Cal tackler into the end zone last Saturday, when he scored five TDs.
Oregon's Kinjon Barner beats a would-be Southern Cal tackler into the end zone last Saturday, when he scored five TDs. (MCT)
Posted: November 10, 2012

It's safe to say a consensus of experts rates Oregon as the second-best team in the country behind Alabama, and perhaps the Bowl Championship Series process is starting to follow along.

The Ducks passed Notre Dame and moved into third place in the latest standings and now set their sights on No. 2 Kansas State. They will hope the Wildcats stumble at Texas Christian on Saturday night before going out and presumably trying to put a big number up on scuffling California.

Look for steady doses of Kenjon Barner, who rushed for a school-record 321 yards and five touchdowns last week against Southern Cal.

Johnny Football

We admit that we let out a "Yeah, right" when we heard they hung the nickname Johnny Football on redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.

But we don't mind it as much now because Football, er, Manziel has energized the SEC with his talent and athletic ability. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder leads the conference in total offense (383.2-yard average, second in FBS) and has scored 15 TDs.

The Aggies (7-2) lost to Florida and LSU by a total of eight points and now get to play at top-ranked Alabama, which boasts one of the nation's best defenses, if not the best.

Mistakes not allowed

Kansas State has done a terrific job of not defeating itself and the proof can be found in the numbers. The Wildcats have committed just four turnovers this season while taking the ball away 24 times, and have outscored the opposition by 111-0 on points after turnovers. They also are tied with Navy as the least penalized team in FBS with 31. Yet coach Bill Snyder continues to preach that his team just can't turn the ball over.

"I was like, 'Coach, we haven't turned the ball over in five games,' " tight end Travis Tannahill said in an Associated Press story. "But one a season is too many for him."

Deflate-gate

The news that a student manager at Southern California deflated several footballs below NCAA-regulated levels during a game has become an embarrassing distraction for a program trying to restore its image after two seasons of probation.

USC coach Lane Kiffin called it "an isolated incident that had nothing to do with the coaches or players on this team."

It's reasonable to wonder if the student manager, who has been fired, had been ordered to deflate the balls. According to Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke, it's also reasonable to guess the manager "felt empowered to do so by the existence of a culture that increasingly seems to cut corners and rationalize ethics."

Golden Golson

It is becoming more obvious that Notre Dame's push for a spot in the national championship game involves more big plays and fewer mistakes from sophomore quarterback Everett Golson.

In leading the Fighting Irish's comeback from a 14-point deficit last week in their overtime win over Pittsburgh, Golson either ran or passed on 25 of Notre Dame's final 31 plays of regulation, including 18 in a row.

"We want it to be a lot cleaner, a lot more efficient, and there are so many little factors in there," coach Brian Kelly said in an AP story. "But it's the big picture of what we want. Now we want to start to refine that."

Freshman wonder

Navy has won five in a row and is bowl eligible for the ninth time in the last 10 years, and Keenan Reynolds has something to do with that.

Reynolds, the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Midshipmen since 1991, took over for Trey Miller at midseason and has completed 61 percent of his passes for 560 yards and eight touchdowns in the team's run-oriented triple-option offense.

"I feel good about throwing the football," Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper told the Washington Post. "Reynolds is going to put the football where it's supposed to go and be accurate with it."

Dubious distinction

West Virginia's high hopes at the start of the season have been crushed by one of the worst performances by a defense in program history.

The Mountaineers have allowed 50 points per game in Big 12 play, and if Oklahoma State scores 47 on them Saturday, they will set a school record for most points allowed in a season with four games left, or five if they should get a bowl bid.

Coach Dana Holgorsen points out it is WVU's first season in the Big 12 and conference teams boast powerful offenses. "We've got to take what's happened and we've got to try to build on it," he said in an AP story.

Expat of the Week

We give an encore shout-out to Malvern Prep graduate Ryan Nassib, who is climbing the career passing charts at Syracuse.

After last week, the fifth-year senior now owns school records for most passing yards in a season (2,773) and most career completions (723). He also has 62 touchdown passes for his career, second only at Syracuse to Donovan McNabb's 77.

Nassib needs a big game Saturday when the Orange, needing two wins in their last three games to become bowl-eligible, take on undefeated Louisville.


Games of the Week

Top Choice

Texas A&M at Alabama, 3:30 p.m., CBS3: The Crimson Tide can clinch the SEC West with a victory but face two challenges against the Aggies. There is the possibility of a letdown after last week's thrilling win at LSU. In addition, their No. 1-ranked defense will be put to the test against a high-powered A&M offense piloted by redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, the league's leading rusher and scorer.

Pick Six

Louisville at Syracuse, noon, 6ABC: The Cardinals, one of six unbeaten teams remaining in the FBS, want to stay unblemished going into their Big East showdown in two weeks against Rutgers.

Wisconsin at Indiana, noon, ESPN2: The Badgers will put themselves in the driver's seat in the Big Ten Leaders Division with a win over a team they have defeated seven straight times.

Georgia at Auburn, 7 p.m., ESPN2: The Bulldogs can clinch the SEC East and keep their BCS title hopes alive. The Tigers are looking for just one highlight in a dismal season.

Kansas State at Texas Christian, 7 p.m., Fox29: Bill Snyder has steadfastly refused this week to discuss the condition of Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein and whether he'll play. He might.

Notre Dame at Boston College, 8 p.m., 6ABC: The Fighting Irish's subway alumni could use a breather after last week's scare against Pitt and should get it in the matchup of the last two Catholic schools playing in the FBS.

Oregon at California, 10:30 p.m., ESPN: This isn't expected to be much of a contest, but it'll be interesting to see if the Ducks can improve on the 62 points and the 730 yards they amassed against USC. - Joe Juliano


The Real Top 10

1. Alabama 9-0

2. Oregon 9-0

3. Kansas State 9-0

4. Notre Dame 9-0

5. Ohio State 10-0

6. Georgia 8-1

7. Florida 8-1

8. LSU 7-2

9. Florida State 9-1

10. Louisville 9-0

- Joe Juliano


Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com. Follow @joejulesinq on Twitter.

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