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College Football Week 10 Review: Falling Off The Edge

Posted on November 08, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Iowa's chances at a national title ended with the injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

Iowa's chances at a national title ended with the injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

It was another interesting week of college football as one national title contender saw its dreams end while a couple others had close calls.

It still seems like the BCS Championship Game seems destined to be Texas against either Florida or Alabama, but all three teams have some work to do before that will be ensured. If they do falter, then others are lining up behind them ready to move into the mix.

Falling Off The Edge

After flirting with defeat seemingly every week, the Iowa Hawkeyes finally were unable to pull out a last minute miracle in dropping their first game of the season. The 17-10 setback to the Northwestern Wildcats not only ended their chances at a national title, but also came with a major cost as starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi missed much of the game after suffering an ankle injury.

I know that everyone in Iowa had hoped they might be catching lightning in a bottle and could keep pulling off miracle wins, but I think everyone else in the country knew it was only a matter of time before the bubble burst for the Hawkeyes.

After all, this is the team that needed to block two field goals in the final seconds of their season opener just to avoid a loss to Division I-AA Northern Iowa. Then, they had to hold on for a 24-21 win over Arkansas State. In recent weeks a last play touchdown against Michigan State and fourth quarter explosion against Indiana kept them undefeated, but also emphasized their vulnerability.

The Hawkeyes can still win the Big Ten and reach the Rose Bowl, but if Stanzi is out for an extended period, the Hawkeyes could have a tough time in their final two games at Ohio State and then at home against Minnesota.

Is The Weis Watch Back On?

Another team that has lived and died with close games this season is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Of their nine games, seven have been decided by seven points or less, including one in overtime.

Could this be the last season at Notre Dame for both Charlie Weis and Jimmy Clausen?

Could this be the last season at Notre Dame for both Charlie Weis and Jimmy Clausen?

Notre Dame has been able to pull out many of those games, but this time their late comeback against Navy came up just short to drop their record to 6-3.

Trailing 21-7 entering the fourth quarter, the Fighting Irish tried desperately to pull off another miracle, but instead fell 23-21.

So, for the second time in three years Notre Dame has lost to the Naval Academy. Just as a refresher, Navy had gone 43 years without beating the Fighting Irish and now they have won two of the last three games in the series.

Yes, Navy has become a solid football program with a 7-3 record, but the week before beating Notre Dame they lost to Temple!

Prior to the season there was much speculation about the future of head coach Charlie Weis, but with their 6-2 start and spot in the top 25 it was generally believed that Weis had saved his job for another year.

Now, after losing to Navy and with three tough games left against Pittsburgh, Connecticut and the suddenly dangerous Stanford Cardinal, a winning record and quality bowl game is no longer a guarantee.

If Notre Dame doesn’t win at least two of these three games you could hear the rumblings return about whether Weis is the right man to lead the Irish back to national prominence.

Big Game in the Mountain West

Considering how much emphasis is put on being part of a “BCS Conference”, it has to be somewhat disconcerting to the “powers that be” for the biggest game in college football on the second Saturday in November will feature two teams from the Mountain West Conference.

Matthew Tucker and TCU will get a chance to show off their stuff against Utah.

Matthew Tucker and TCU will get a chance to show off their stuff against Utah.

However, next Saturday’s game between the 14th ranked Utah Utes and sixth ranked TCU Horned Frogs is certainly the biggest game of the weekend and could be one of the biggest games of the entire college football season.

Utah’s victory last season over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl brought instant credibility to the Mountain West Conference, but it is still very tough for a team from a non-BCS conference to advance to the national championship game.

If TCU, which has a number of impressive victories over ranked or BCS conference opponents, is able to soundly defeat Utah, it could be hard to keep them out of the title game if enough of the teams ahead of them falter.

I know there are many cynics who still think the teams from non-BCS conferences don’t see the same level of quality opponent on a week-in, week-out basis. However, I’m really not sure that is still the case. Sure some of the weaker teams from the Mountain West or Conference USA are not very strong, but each of the BCS conferences also have some “sure wins.”

In fact, Florida, the number one team in the country, could advance to the title game despite playing only two games against ranked teams (LSU and Alabama in the SEC Championship game).

Bottom line, in my opinion is that until a true playoff system is created, they need to get rid of the BCS Conference designation and just reward teams based on their performance and strength of schedule.

Right now, the BCS Conferences aren’t really trying to enhance the quality of their bottom teams, but maybe if a BCS pay day was no longer a guarantee every league would try not just to ensure they have a couple teams in the top 10, but also that none of their teams are ranked in the Division I-A bottom 10.

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