It’s Halloween! First, I’m going to scare you. Then I’m going to tell you why the 2012 season is actually Christmas morning at the Pelini house.
A month from tomorrow is Championship Saturday, when college football’s postseason takes shape. Right now, there are four undefeated teams — I’m leaving out Louisville, because it would need a miracle to make the BCS championship game. This is what the 4 undefeated contenders have left:
– Alabama: at LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn, SEC championship game
– Kansas State: Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, Texas
– Notre Dame: Pittsburgh, at Boston College, Wake Forest, at USC
– Oregon: at USC, at Cal, Stanford, at Oregon State, Pac-12 championship game
As you can see, K-State and Notre Dame have the softest remaining schedules. Oregon has the most potential for growth because of its strong schedule. Alabama has the toughest single game remaining — at LSU — and another stiff test waiting in Atlanta.
My sense is, if all four win out (which is a 1 percent chance), you’ll definitely see Alabama in. You’ll definitely see K-State out. And you’ll have a beauty contest between Notre Dame and Oregon. Their schedules would be comparable.
It might come down to how the Irish and Ducks perform against USC. Notre Dame gets the Trojans on Nov. 24; Oregon is likely to see SC in the Pac-12 title game the following week. Can you imagine the uproar if Notre Dame goes undefeated and doesn’t get in?
What does all that have to do with Nebraska? Well, it’s possible that undefeated Oregon goes to the Rose Bowl. And it’s possible that Oregon loses a game and goes to Pasadena at 12-1. Yes, the Blackshirts could face THAT OFFENSE. That’s the scary part of today’s blog.
Here’s the not-so-scary scenario.
That means Nebraska’s road to a Rose Bowl victory goes like this:
At Michigan State (5-4)
Penn State (5-3)
At Iowa (4-4)
Oregon State/Stanford (10-2/9-3).
And that’s AFTER Ohio State and Penn State are deemed ineligible. And AFTER Denard Robinson gets hurt against the Huskers.
Don’t you see? Bob Devaney — a native of Big Ten country — is standing in heaven 50 years after delivering Nebraska’s first bowl win, sprinkling fairy dust on the Big Red, trying to give Tom Osborne a going-away gift. If you listen close, you can even hear him…
“I’ve done all I can, Bo. You do the rest.”
>> Let’s see here: Nebraska committed eight penalties for 62 yards at Northwestern. A week later, it committed eight for 104 against Michigan. That doesn’t sound like improvement. So why no uproar about penalties this week? This is a case where you have to look beyond the numbers.
Ciante Evans’ late hit in the first quarter was questionable. So was Justin Jackson’s chop block personal foul. So was Josh Mitchell’s “targeting the head” penalty. So was P.J. Smith’s “targeting the head.” So was Andrew Green’s pass interference. Nebraska doesn’t want to make a habit of 104 penalty yards. But in this case, it’s forgivable.
>> I asked Pelini Monday about a hot topic in college football these days — officiating up-tempo offenses. Specifically, how much time should officials give defenses to get ready before a snap? Here’s what Bo said:
“The hardest thing to me is when (offenses) are changing personnel a lot. … I think it was in one of the earlier games when they were standing above the ball and we had to use a timeout on the second play of the game and then they fixed it. I think they should be allowed to play as fast as they can as long as they manage the substitution aspect of it and give you the opportunity to match.
“I’ve talked to the refs at times and not only do you have to match, but you have to get the call in there communicated, too. It can’t just be you standing there and letting the guys play. You have to understand the formation defensively and get your guys lined up and get the call. It can’t be a snap thing where they expect that to happen in the blink of an eye.
“That’s just the way football is. The offense gets their call and they know what you are doing defensively, they need a second. You are lining up to what the offense does. … I think it’s going to eventually lend itself to doing what the NFL does and being able to communicate to a guy on the field, which, to me, makes sense. The problem with the NCAA is probably the dollar and cents thing. Hopefully they’ll continue to keep that in mind as they move forward.”
Ironically, this year Bo stands to gain more than he loses from officials taking a hands-off approach. The Blackshirts haven’t faced many quick offenses. But the Husker offense has used it very effectively.
During Nebraska’s first touchdown drive Saturday night, I was surprised officials let NU snap the ball so quickly after substitutions. Had the shoe been on the other foot, Pelini may have given the referee a piece of his mind. But hey, if they let you go fast, why not take advantage?
>> One of these days, Alex Gordon is going to get the national recognition he deserves. Gordon won his second straight Gold Glove Tuesday, the cherry atop an excellent 2012 season. Gordon had 24 runs saved (a sabermetric statistic), the most of any left fielder in baseball, according to FanGraphs. Desmond Jennings was second in the AL with nine.
So after getting demoted to the minor leagues in 2010, moving to a position he had never played and coming oh-so-close to being written off by the team that drafted him second overall, Gordon is now the best left fielder in the American League. And one of the best hitters. That’s a heckuva story.
If the Royals ever find a few starting pitchers, maybe they’ll be good enough to give Gordon the notoriety he deserves.
>> Joe Posnanski puts a bow on the World Series. In major-league baseball today, he writes, it’s all about October.
>> Pat Forde says it’s up to Les Miles to save us all from the SEC.
>> Former Doane coach Bob Stitt, now at Colorado School of Mines, could be college football’s next offensive guru. USA Today featured him.
>> Nine football coaches spearheaded a gambling ring, where as much as $100,000 was wagered on a league championship game. That’s bad enough. But the league is for kids ages 5-15. Only in Florida.
>> Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney don’t hide their dislike for each other. Unfortunately, Spurrier’s pettiness got in the way of Marcus Lattimore’s tribute.
>> After those two stories, how ‘bout a wholesome one? Collin Klein proposed to his future wife before their first date. And their first kiss came at the altar.
>> And here’s a touching story of a high school football team in Michigan that gave a freshman a boost after his dad died.
>> Finally, what the heck is Iowa going to do about Kirk Ferentz? If the school lets him keep going, I have no doubt the Hawkeyes will average 6-7 wins a year over the foreseeable future. If they fire him, they owe him more than $20 million! (The fact that Gary Barta agreed to that buyout should put him on the hot seat, too.)
Ferentz gets his next chance to lose Saturday. The Hawks are underdogs. At Indiana. Seriously.