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BEST TEAM IN THE COUNTRY IS IN TEXAS (AGAIN)
November 17, 2010

SCS.com Under the guidance of Mack Brown, the Texas Longhorns have flirted with and have achieved the mantle of best team in the country multiple times in this decade. In a year when the Longhorns have precipitously dropped from the national title game to perhaps no bowl game (and the Cowboys endure a legendary terrible season), the eyes of Texas have turned to a most unexpected location for football greatness: Forth Worth. TCU, a team long forgotten ever since the Big XII left them out in the cold at the breaking of the Southwest Conference, is now the best team in Texas by a wide margin. TCU is now 11-0 after escaping the possible letdown against a good San Diego State team and the closest competitors in the state are Texas A&M (7-3) and Baylor (7-4). But the real secret is not that TCU is the best team in Texas, as anybody would have expected that if Texas was going to have a bad year. The real story is that TCU is the best team in the country, and it is not even close. Oregon and Auburn may have all the love from the pollsters and Boise State may have the sentimental vote, but the Horned Frogs are the only team that deserves the crystal football in 2010.

TCU has a bye week next week leading into a finale at lowly New Mexico. The Lobosd are 1-9, lost to a terrible New Mexico State team, rank 98th out of 120 Division I-A teams in passing, 104th in rushing, 115th in points for, and 119th in points against. TCU will not lose to that team, and so the Horned Frogs might as well be considered 12-0 now. Three times this season TCU has given up more than 10 points, in eleven games. TCU has given up 10.9 points per game, which is best in the country by nearly two points over Boise State (followed by West Virginia, Alabama, and Ohio State). However, the Broncos have given up two touchdowns or more in half of their ten games, while WVU has held only two teams below ten points this year. TCU is not just dominating bad offensive teams either, as Utah, Baylor, San Diego State, and Air Force all rank in the top 30 nationally in scoring. Outside of those games and a tough opener against Oregon State, TCU has given up 24 points against SMU (the June Jones pass-happy attack) and a whopping 16 points against the other five teams on their schedule. Anybody who has seen the Horned Frog defense knows just how tough the sledding is. To beat TCU, you need to be able to win a game in the 14-20 point range.

There's one big problem this year with trying to defeat TCU in a game below 20 points, and that is the Horned Frog offense. Although TCU has always had a strong rushing attack and again continues to have one with Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker. However, the real secret weapon has been Andy Dalton and the Horned Frog passing attack, which clocks in at a respectable 52nd in the country to complement a top-10 rushing game. Dalton has thrown for 23 touchdowns and has been a primary force behind TCU's 7th highest ranking scoring offense. TCU has scored fewer than 30 points one time (a 27-0 shellacking of Colorado State). While Boise State defeated TCU a year ago in the Fiesta Bowl by confounding Dalton and loading up against the run, teams have not been so lucky this season. Furthermore, the top contenders for the national title are all in the same boat, and that is nobody has an adequate defense to stop Dalton and company. Well except for Boise State, but there is absolutely zero chance that these two teams would be allowed to play each other in Glendale again this year. Boise State's biggest problem is that TCU has a better resume and really has a better team overall. This means if TCU is in the BCS Championship, the only team that really matches up well against them will not be there.

Some will point to Oregon as a team with the 1st ranked offense and the 8th ranked defense as the perfect foil to TCU. On paper, this does look like a dream match up. However, Oregon has been completely shit down by the only trylu physical defense they have faced this season (California last weekend, 15 points scored after scoring 42+ points against everyone else). Although it was last year, Oregon was completely dominated by Ohio State in the Rose Bowl a year ago, and one would expect TCU's defense to really slow the Ducks offense if the so-called dream match up happens. If the SEC is your answer, then it does not matter whether you think LSU or Auburn will defeat TCU. In both cases, that will not happen. LSU will likely be shut out by not playing in the SEC Championship, but even if they did manage to make it Glendale, their 114th ranked passing offense would look silly against the Horned Frogs. LSU has a championship coach and a close game pedigree, but that will not matter when TCU gets up two scores in the first half and forces Jordan Jefferson to pass his way out of a mess. Meanwhile Auburn also struggles in the passing game and continues to simply rely on outscoring inferior defenses with Cam Newton. TCU has faced great talents before and knows how to stay at home against Newton to shut him down. The real contenders simply do not have what it takes to take on the Horned Frogs.

The sad part is, while I am convinced (and you should be too) that TCU is the best team in the country, bar none, right now it is beginning to seem that Auburn and Oregon can dodge whatever bullets are thrown their way. Oregon has escaped defensive breakdowns against Arizona State thanks to turnovers and escaped California thanks to a missed two-point conversion and a missed field goal. Arizona has not shown up in the big games this season and Oregon State just does not quite have the right personnel to stay with the Ducks even though it is a rivalry that I saw going the other way back in September. The Ducks do not have two easy games, but both will be won. Auburn also has two tough games at Alabama and versus South Carolina. Alabama has struggled against teams that can control the clock with a strong running game and a decent defense. While Auburn does not have a decent defense, their running attack with Cam Newton is more than the young Crimson Tide defense will handle. This is the closest call left for the top two teams, but Auburn will not want to lose this opportunity to actually win a second national title. South Carolina is jekyll and hyde and they will be due for another hyde performance against an Auburn team that beat them a few weeks ago. Thus, as long as Auburn survives Tuscaloosa, the best team in the country will be left out. And that's a real shame.

Staying in Texas, the fraudulent Longhorns have finally earned a sixth loss after falling apart once again against Oklahoma State. Ever since beating Texas Tech on September 18, the Longhorns are 1-6 with the sole win coming against the best team in the conference Nebraska at their house (inexplicable). Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State, everyone is getting a piece of the Longhorns. Although Florida Atlantic will likely roll over to get Texas to 5-6 this weekend, a short week to prepare for A&M has the makings of a disaster written all over it. Every team goes through rebuilding seasons, but rebuilding dynasties do not normally suffer through as many crushing defeats as Texas. Mack Brown will need to turn it around next year or else the consequences may be dire depsite a great decade at the helm leading into this shocking season. Now this article does not want to focus on Texas for their bad season per se, but that one game against Nebraska just does not make sense and should be a big deal. Although the debate is meaningless, the fact of the matter is Nebraska is somehow highly rated enough by the computers and the humans to be at number 8 in the BCS. LSU lost to #2 Auburn, Stanford lost to #1 Oregon, Wisconsin lost to #12 Michigan State, Ohio State lost to #7 Wisconsin, and Oklahoma State lost to #8 Nebraska. Meanwhile, Nebraska lost to the worst Texas team in decades AT HOME! Even if Nebraska stumbles into a Big XII title, there is no way that team deserves to be considered anywhere close to the best one loss team in the country because the loss is simply unacceptable. I plead with voters...look at the season as a whole and remember just who put that big 1 in the L column for these teams when judging them at the most important time of the year.

Iowa, Utah, and Arizona. In a week filled with lackluster games on paper, half of the top 10 trailed big or late while many other ranked teams struggled. However, at the end of the day, the scores had exactly zero top ten upsets and three top 25 upsets. To answer the question from a couple weeks ago, the BCS will get another mulligan because there will be no huge debate with only two BCS conference teams undefeated and a primo undefeated non-BCS conference school waiting to replace one if they lose. Despite the remainder of teams including a bunch of merely solid one-loss teams and everyone else with two or more losses, the ranked teams just keep winning and holding to form. This weekend may not bring much different as the schedule looks lackluster again. There is hope on the horizon with a good Iron Bowl and some other tough rivalry and championship games, but this week is the calm before the storm. While the usual outcome of such weekends is a surprising outcome or five, this season seems like it is set in stone. The BCS teams and the national championship are largely decided and it is just a matter of time. Perhaps there is a little 2007 in this season yet, but it just does not seem like it. However, at least there's a storm on the horizon for those of us who know who the best team in the country is. TCU is about to get left out and it is just not right. Who could blame them if they jump ship to the Big East in 2012 if they get left out now?

Amazingly, the top three teams in the nation are off this weekend, so we begin the games of the week with The Big Game: Stanford at California. Stanford has kept on rolling under Jim Harbaugh's leadership, and Stephan Taylor has quickly made people forget about Toby Gerhart. The real star of the Cardinal offense is QB Andrew Luck, who is throwing for over 250 yards per game with 22 touchdowns to go with 373 yards on the ground. The Cardinal did fail to break 30 points for the first time last weekend in a 17-13 escape at ASU, but the road gets no easier against the California defense. Cal is the most interesting 5-5 team in the nation, having gone 4-1 with a should have been win against Oregon last week and 1-4 on the road with about the same large 20+ point margins of loss as the 20+ point average margin of victory at home. If Cal can shut down Oregon, Andrew Luck could be in for a long day. When the Bears have the ball, look for the conservative approach from the past two weeks with young QB Brock Mansion at the helm with Kevin Riley out for the season. The Bears proved that Shane Vereen and Isi Sofele can carry the team to enough offense when the defense plays up to competition at home. Especially in a rivalry setting, Cal is more than well equipped to defeat a Stanford team that has not really performed well in their only tough test of the season. The Golden Bears earn bowl eligibility with a huge rivalry win as Cal will win by 7.

The second game of the week is Nebraska at Texas A&M. QB Taylor Martinez returned to the lineup after a week out and had a decent comeback against a weak Kansas team. Martinez has thrown for 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions but does have over 2300 yards of total offense already in his freshman season. Martinez has received most of his help from the blackshirts defense, which has held teams to 17 points per game. That defense will need to be very good at Kyle Field as the Aggies come in with the 21st ranked scoring offense and a four game winning streak. QB Ryan Tennehill has stepped right in and kept the wide open passing attack going in Jerrod Johnson's absence. Tennehill has made a couple of mistakes against another good defense in Oklahoma, but a 10-3 touchdown to interception ratio is still very respectable. Cyrus Gray has returned to his early season form running the ball as the Aggies look to continue their 30-40 point per game streak. While Martinez has had more opportunity to prove himself and the Huskers have a better defense, the Aggies are just playing too well to be derailed at home against Nebraska. The Huskers still have the inside shot at the Big XII Championship either way, so Texas A&M stays alive for a possible rematch with a 10 point win.

The third game of the week is Ohio State at Iowa. The game that decided the Big Ten title in overtime a year ago comes to Kinnick Stadium with Iowa falling out of the four team tie for first with a loss to Northwestern while OSU came back from a 14-3 halftime deficit to defeat Penn State. Since losing at Wisconsin a month ago, Ohio State has rolled on offense behind the arm of Terrelle Pryor and the hard running of Daniel Herron. Pryor will be tested by the Iowa front four, especially DE Adrian Clayborn, who will be looking to keep Pryor contained and favorite targets Dane Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey covered. Ohio State will try to establish the run, but that may be difficult sledding and could put the Buckeyes behind once again. The Hawkeyes come into this year's game with Ricky Stanzi, who had only thrown two interceptions until the past two weeks. Stanzi has had to pick up the slack with Adam Robinson being the only big time threat at running back after the Hawks lost 2 of their 3 top running back sin September. Penn State proved that there are definitely some weaknesses in the injury-depleted OSU defensive backfield, and Darrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt should open up the middle of the field for a tight end or Robinson to always give Stanzi someone to throw to. Iowa's struggles against terrible defenses at Indiana and Northwestern are troubling though. At the beginning of the season I thought Iowa had the right team for this task and OSU's banged up secondary reinforced that conclusion until the past two weeks, when the Buckeyes have looked like the best one-loss team in the country while Iowa has been lucky to escape with 1 win. In his senior day, Stanzi will find a way to have a big game, but the Buckeye defense will nab another interception that may turn this game around late. Ohio State escapes Iowa City with a 3 point win.

Other Games of the Week - Week 12

(11) Alabama defeats Georgia State
(4) Boise State defeats Fresno State
(5) LSU defeats Mississippi
(7) Wisconsin defeats Michigan
(10) Oklahoma State defeats Kansas
(12) Michigan State defeats Purdue
(21) Mississippi State defeats (13) Arkansas
Baylor defeats (14) Oklahoma
(15) Missouri defeats Iowa State
(16) Virginia Tech defeats (24) Miami
(17) South Carolina defeats Troy
(18) Nevada defeats New Mexico State
San Diego State defeats (23) Utah
Maryland defeats (25) Florida State

2010 GOTW Record: 23-11
Last Week: 3-1
2010 Overall Top 25 Record: 171-47
Last Week: 15-6

Fitz Top 10 - Week 12

1. TCU (11-0)
2. Oregon (10-0)
3. Boise State (9-0)
4. Auburn (11-0)
5. Wisconsin (9-1)
6. LSU (9-1)
7. Ohio State (9-1)
8. Stanford (9-1)
9. Michigan State (9-1)
10. Oklahoma State (9-1)

Just Missed: Nebraska, Alabama, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Oklahoma

2011 BCS Bowl Projections - 3 Weeks To Go

Rose - Wisconsin (Big Ten) vs. Stanford (at large)
Fiesta - Nebraska (Big XII) vs. Pittsburgh (Big East)
Orange - Virginia Tech (ACC) vs. LSU (at large)
Sugar - Auburn (SEC) vs. Ohio State (at large)
BCS Championship - Oregon (Pac-10) vs. TCU (at large)

With only two weeks to go in the regular season for most teams, the conference races are coming down to one or two critical games. Teams like Texas A&M, Ohio State, and Stanford must win now to stay alive for their dreams of a BCS bowl, while other schools like Texas and California try to get the last win or two for any bowl game at all. There's still a lot to play for and time to reach some goals, even if the primary goals have fallen by the wayside. Watching Washington State upset Oregon State shows that even the lowliest team on the longest conference winning streak can sometimes come up and bite the unprepared team (that someone picked to win the Pac-10.../eyeroll). One game that may be a bit under the radar this week thanks to OSU-Iowa is Wisconsin-Michigan, which pits a Wolverine team back on a roll at 7-3 against a Wisconsin team that has obliterated every obstacle since losing to Michigan State. It could be an exciting high-scoring game if you like that sort of thing, and Wisconsin has a ton to lose with the Rose Bowl two wins away. Although we were unable to obtain a credential, I will be in Iowa City this weekend and am more than happy to meet you for a drink if any readers will also be at the Big Ten showdown this weekend. Wherever you are, cheers to this upcoming weekend!

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