The nonconference season, for all intents and purposes, has come to a close. We were treated to a couple of inter-conference matchups like LSU vs. West Virginia and Aggies vs. Cowboys, games that may not have been pretty and well-played but certainly provide more intrigue than 90% of all preseason outings.
Now we enter the de-facto playoff season, where a loss will do more than cause a slide down the BCS rankings, it will go a long way towards preventing a trip to conference title game. But before we dive into these tasty intra-conference tilts, we take a look back at the final week of September action.
Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are programs that have a great deal in common. Both often deal with the struggles associated with being the #2 program in a state where the #1 is a football behemoth. Both have had their fair share of successes while also experiencing mind-numbing losses. And at times, each appears to be its own worst enemy.
Thus it wasn't a huge surprise that the Cowboys and Aggies contest was a one-point affair. After all this was expected to be the nation's best Week Four matchup as even the 2011 editions of these squads are mirror images from a skill perspective: veteran quarterback, stud backs and game-breaking talent at wide receiver. However as is often the case in the wild and wooly world of college football, it isn't always what happens, but how things transpire.
Texas A&M again played the role of bummed out "Sleeping Giant" but it was Oklahoma State that showed resilience and poise that they're often missing. And now, with both teams facing schedules that are devoid of huge landmines, both have proven the ability to make serious noise.
However it's Oklahoma State that now has a chance at a special season, one that doesn't have to culminate with a trip to the Alamo. And it's the Aggies that missed a chance to really leave the Big XII on a high note.
Speaking of Sleeping Giants...
Every so often a scribe will offer up a list with programs that are poised to "take the next step" or "reach the next level." Regulars on this list are always the two teams discussed above, Michigan State, Arkansas, Arizona, Arizona State and of course, Clemson. Well it appears that Clemson is the 2011 version of the Spartans following their stirring win over the Noles.
We had begun to give up on Tajh Boyd becoming the quarterback many expected out of high school, and it seemed that Dabo Swinney may have been in over his head. Wins over Auburn and FSU and suddenly they're thinking Heismans and contract extensions at Tiger Town Tavern.
We'll know if the Tigers are in for that breakthrough season in a manner of days. A trip to Blacksburg can bring a bunch of young lads back to reality in a hurry. But if they do survive this trip and then we're looking at some real good stuff.
A few other observations from Week Four
Watching Mike Stoops rant and rave on the sideline and I can't help but think of Jan Brady. It's always Bob, Bob, Bob!
If LaMichael James played east of Oklahoma this Heisman race would be over. We may be looking at "The Curse of Joey Harrington Campaign" coming back to bite the Ducks.
Speaking of West Coast, Keenan Allen is another super talent that is overlooked as he plies his trade in Berkeley. Allen would find himself among the best in even the Big 12.
Denard Robinson has carried it 71 times through four games this season. This is only eight fewer than this point last season. If this similarity to 2010 continues then Devin Gardner better get some game action next week because he'll be needed sooner rather than later.
Clearly the Maryland scouting report failed to mention that Temple will hand it to Bernard Pierce every once in a while.
Robert Griffin has now thrown 13 touchdowns against zero interceptions. Kansas State and Iowa State are on tap.
If Collin Klein continues to hit about 66% of his passes and can keep defenses honest then the Wildcats may do more than just upset a disheveled Miami squad.
We told you that Tyler Tettleton may be one to watch.
Bryant Moniz's 424 yards passing and seven scores bring back memories of the great Timmy Chang.
My colleague John Baker has been talking Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a while now, and after a two-score performance I imagine many others will be as well.
Is Zach Line going to score 30 touchdowns?
Great. Now Nick Toon is finally breaking out for the Badgers...just what everyone else needed.
Five for Week Five:
Nebraska at Wisconsin: More red than the Drago vs. Balboa fight. Welcome to the Big Ten you Huskers.
Clemson at Virginia Tech: Ok Tigers...let's do it on the road.
Michigan State at Ohio State: Does Mark Dantonio get his signature road win as Spartan coach?
Alabama at Florida: The Gators will be ready
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M: One will have a nice bounceback while the other will be looking for more answers.