Stanford’s last-minute win over UCLA cost Las Vegas a couple of dollars, but it made the Pac-12 the biggest winner of the weekend.
The Cardinal rallied for a go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds left to take a 16-13 lead. It then scored a defensive touchdown on the last play of the game, which as announcer Brent Musberger likes to say, “mattered more to some than others.”
The 22-13 final score meant every bet on Stanford, a 3.5-point favorite, was a winner. So was the Pac-12.
The College Football Playoff math — five major conferences, four teams make it — is set up so one Power 5 conference is a guaranteed loser every year. Last year, that was the Pac-12 and the year before it was the Big 12.
Four weeks into season, Alabama and the Big Ten winner (Ohio State/Michigan/Wisconsin) look like locks for the playoff.
If all breaks the right way, the ACC just might be able to sneak both Clemson and Louisville in.
A lot would have to go right for the ACC, starting with a home win by Clemson this week over Louisville, but it’s not all that far-fetched of a scenario.
To wit: The Big 12 has already seen its twin pillars, Oklahoma and Texas, take on water. And how much of a break is Baylor, the highest-ranked Big 12 team, going to get from a committee of actual human beings (as opposed to computers)?
The Pac-12, with Oregon, Cal, USC and UCLA all with already at least two losses, is not exactly on terra firma. Stanford, remaining unbeaten, is the Pac-12’s best shot at the playoff (or maybe unbeaten Washington, they play this week in Seattle).
But how would the playoff committee compare a one-loss Pac-12 champion to say a one-loss Louisville with wins over Florida State (already in the books) and Houston (the Cardinals go to Houston Nov. 17)?
There’s not a lot on Stanford’s schedule to suggest if it finished with one loss and was compared to a one-loss Louisville it would be selected for the playoff.
Maybe that’s when “you have to be a conference champion” becomes an official part of the selection criteria, but it’s a debate the ACC would like to see happen.
To finish on a note about Louisville (and to finish an argument from last week). Some on Twitter took umbrage when I wrote “there has never been another player in college football history like Lamar Jackson.”
The names Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III, Marcus Mariota, Vince Young, Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel quickly populated my timeline.
On Saturday night, Jackson delivered his second seven-touchdown game of the season (he had eight in one half, actually, against Charlotte earlier this season) in a 59-28 win at Marshall.
That’s the same number of seven-touchdown games Vick, Griffin, Mariota, Young, Tebow and Manziel had combined in 222 career games.
So, yeah, Jackson — and his utterly preposterous 25 touchdowns (13 passing, 12 rushing) in four games — is a unique talent.
A weekly review of who’s trending up and down in college football:
↑ Duke: After back-to-back losses, Duke was a three-touchdown underdog at Notre Dame. After spotting the Fighting Irish the first 14 points of the game, the Blue Devils outscored the home team 38-21 for one of the biggest wins in program history.
↑ North Carolina: One ACC loss would not have knocked the Tar Heels out of the Coastal Division race, but it wouldn’t have helped, either. Thanks to Mitch Trubisky, Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer, the Heels don’t have to worry about such things. They erased a late, 13-point deficit against Pitt for their ninth straight ACC regular-season win.
↑ Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons did it again, picking up their second road win over a Power 5 opponent, this time 33-28 at Indiana. For the first time since Jim Grobe’s 2006 team won the ACC title, the Deacs are 4-0.
↓ LSU: What a stomach punch, an over-turned last-second touchdown, and what a fitting end to Les Miles’ star-crossed tenure with the Tigers.
LSU fell to 2-2 after its 18-13 loss at Auburn. LSU looked it had an incredible win when quarterback Danny Etling hit D.J. Shark for a 15-yard touchdown. But the play was overturned when the review showed Etling didn’t get the snap off in time.
Recruiting, not clock management, is Miles’ strength. He will be recruiting elsewhere in the near future, after getting fired on Sunday.