Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The college football world descended on Columbus this past week and the game of the year certainly lived up to its lofty expectations. The only thing that dampered the euphoria surrounding the game was the untimely death of a legendary Wolverine. There was plenty of football outside of Columbus as well, and the results will make for interesting scenarios as the postseason is almost upon us.
THE PASSING OF A LEGEND: A day before the big game between top-ranked Ohio State and second-ranked Michigan, legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler passed away due to heart failure. The winningest coach in Michigan history (194-48-5), Schembechler won 13 Big Ten titles and led his team to 17 bowl games, including 10 Rose Bowl appearances, in 21 years at the helm. An Ohio State graduate assistant under Woody Hayes, Schembechler earned his master's degree from OSU in 1952 and returned as an assistant coach in 1958. Schembechler retired from Michigan in 1989 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Without question, Bo had a unique perspective of one of college football's greatest rivalries and will not only be sorely missed by both universities, but by the college football community as a whole.
Bo Schembechler won 13 Big Ten titles and led his team to 17 bowl games, including 10 Rose Bowl appearances, in 21 years at the helm for Michigan.
ONE, BUT NOT NECCESARILY DONE: Last year's matchup between USC and Notre Dame was arguably the greatest game of the 2005 campaign. That distinction in 2006 goes to last week's Ohio State and Michigan extravaganza. These two powerhouses took each others' best punches and in the end, only three points separated them. Ohio State's victory earned the Buckeyes the Big Ten title and a guaranteed spot in BCS national championship game in Glendale, but Michigan still could find itself heading to the desert as well to strap it on one more time against its arch-rival. The Wolverines fell one spot in most polls, but in the BCS standings, the team still sits in the second position. There is plenty to argue about on both sides of the scenario that puts the Wolverines in the title game. On the one hand, the BCS wants to have the top two teams play for the national title, on the other, those two teams have already played and why should Ohio State be penalized for winning that game. Shouldn't there be consequences for losing the big game in Columbus, or should the Wolverines play in the big game, regardless of last week's outcome? I will leave that up to you to decide, but there are compelling arguments on both sides.
WHAT A SHAME: One week after posting the biggest win in school history, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights failed to show up in a stunning upset loss at Cincinnati. As good as Greg Schiano's team looked at home against Louisville two weeks ago, the team came out flat against the Bearcats and watched their perfect season go down the drain, with a 30-11 setback. There is still plenty to play for, as the Scarlet Knights can still win the Big East and earn a BCS bowl berth if they knock off both Syracuse and West Virginia in the next two weeks, but can Schiano rally the troops to get the job done at home and then in Morgantown?
BCS DILEMMAS: While the possibility of Michigan landing in the BCS title game may present an argument against the way the BCS rankings are figured out, the result very well may be the best two teams in the nation meeting for the national title and that is the ultimate goal, isn't it? That being said, there are certainly other teams that could cast a shadow on the BCS and give the organization reason to tweak the formula yet again. For one, if USC beats both Notre Dame this week and UCLA next, the Trojans may just do enough to leapfrog the Wolverines into the championship game. While that is definitely a plausible scenario, others exist that demand some attention as well. A Notre Dame win would leave the Irish at 11-1 on the year, but does a sweep of the nation's service academies really qualify the Irish for a spot in Glendale, especially since Michigan went into South Bend and completely destroyed Notre Dame. The last two scenarios involve the SEC, where Florida and Arkansas will battle it out for conference supremacy. Both teams played brutal schedules. If Arkansas wins this week against LSU and the SEC Title game against Florida, it will have finished SEC play undefeated. How can a team go perfect in one of college football's toughest conferences and not have earned a shot at the national title? A similar fate could await Florida, which will finish up with rival Florida State this week and take on the Razorbacks for the SEC crown. Despite two more wins, the Gators could be on the outside looking in at the title game.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO: With the finalists announced for most of the major awards, here are my picks for some of this year's hardware. Starting on the offensive side of the football, the Heisman will go to Ohio State's Troy Smith, who came up huge in the biggest game of the season, almost assuring himself of the most coveted award in college football. The Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation's best running back will wind up in Steve Slaton's hands. The ultra-talented Mountaineer has done it all this season for West Virginia, including a mind-boggling 300+ yard effort (both rushing and receiving) in the Backyard Brawl a week ago. In my opinion, the Biletnikoff Award is a done deal, with Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson asserting himself as the nation's best wideout. The NFL will surely agree, as he will be a top-five pick in next year's draft if he comes out. The defensive award that gets the most attention is the Butkus Award and that honor should be bestowed upon Ohio State's super sophomore James Laurinaitis. Penn State's Paul Posluszny won it last year and is a worthy finalist this time around and Ole Miss' Patrick Willis has had a strong season as well, but Laurinaitis has taken over where A.J. Hawk left off last year and has truly been phenomenal.
WEEK 13 SNEAK PEEK: This week's action lacks the drama that last week had, but there is still plenty to decide in terms of postseason aspirations. The cream of the crop are a pair of top-10 matchups pitting ninth-ranked LSU at fifth- ranked Arkansas and sixth-ranked Notre Dame at third-ranked USC. Other big rivalry games include 19th-ranked Georgia Tech at Georgia, fourth-ranked Florida at Florida State, Texas A&M at 11th-ranked Texas and 13th-ranked Oklahoma at Oklahoma State.