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Sunday Morning Observations, Week 11

The Aggies Stun the Tide, and Johnny Football Joins the Heisman Hunt


Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel led the Aggies to a stunning upset win over No. 1 Alabama.

(Getty Images)
Updated November 12, 2012

No, it's not over just yet.

It's been interesting to sit back and listen to the national college football narrative that has developed over the past couple days. In the wake of Texas A&M's stunning 29-24 win over Alabama this past weekend, so many pundits and so many sportswriters seem to agree on one point--that with 'Bama's loss, the SEC's streak of BCS dominance has very likely come to an end. With Notre Dame, Oregon and Kansas State still undefeated, so the narrative goes, the SEC is basically out of luck.

Which, of course, is complete and utter nonsense.

If recent history has taught us anything, it's that late-season losses by top-ranked teams do happen. They happen quite often, actually. And as a result, teams (and conferences) that have all but ruled out of contention one week can find themselves right back in the race come the next.

It is certainly true that if two of those three remaining undefeated teams win out, they will be playing for the national title, and Alabama won't. On that point, there can be no debate.

I do think, however, that it's fairly ludicrous to assume, with so much football left to be played, that two or even three of them may not yet still suffer a loss. K-State must still take on Texas. Oregon must get past Stanford and Oregon State, then win in the conference title game. And Notre Dame, a team that has hardly looked dominating in recent weeks, finishes off its season with a tricky cross-country tip to USC.

In other words, let's not assume anything at this point. Because the season isn't over. Not by a long shot.

♦ Johnny Football, welcome to the Heisman Trophy race. Now, it must be said up front that this has been a fairly stale year in the race for college football's most celebrated trophy. At no point during the season has there been a real standout frontrunner, and we've already seen a few supposed candidates flame out in fairly spectacular fashion, if not for their own faults than for those of their teams (hello, Denard Robinson and Geno Smith). And even heading into last week's Week 11 action, there was a sense that this thing was still there for the taking. Yeah, K-State's Colin Klein probably has the inside track at this point, and very likely will win the Heisman if he can keep his Wildcats undefeated, but now that Johnny Football--otherwise known as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel--just engineered one of the most titanic upsets in recent college football history, and given that this kid's stats put him right up there with some of the best in the nation, isn't it time to start entertaining the possibility that a freshman might actually with the Heisman? In a more normal year, Manziel would probably be a fringe candidate, or at the very most, the kind of player who gets invited to New York but knows full well they have no shot to actually win. But this isn't a normal year, there aren't any other superstar candidates out there, and at the very least, Manziel has to be up there in most voters' Top 3. It would be one of the most unlikely Heisman wins ever, yes. But at this point, I can't help but think it's very, very possible.

♦ Penn State fans were still grumbling on Monday morning about the big call that didn't go their way Saturday night in Lincoln--and justifiably so. For those who haven't seen it, here's what happened: After blowing a 20-6 halftime lead, the Nits found themselves trailing 27-23, midway through the fourth quarter. But with the Memorial Stadium crowd in full roar, quarterback Matt McGloin engineered a steady, impressive drive that put the Nits deep in Nebraska territory. After moving down the field mostly behind its running game, Penn State changed things up in the red zone, as McGloin hit tight end Matt Lehman in the flat. Lehman turned upfield and attempted to dive across the goal line as several Huskers closed in. In real time, it appeared as if the ball was jarred loose before the ball crossed the plane. Upon review, however, it was clear that Lehman in fact had gotten the ball across. Then the play went to review and ... yep, the play stood as called. How and why exactly the replay official couldn't see what the rest of the world could see--that Penn State had in fact scored a touchdown--remains unanswered at this point, but McGloin, at least, was hardly in a forgiving mood. In an honest and very likely ill-advised post-game rant, the quarterback suggested that Penn State didn't get that call--and wouldn't get others going forward--because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that has rocked the program over the past year. Said McGloin: "We're not going to get that call here. We're not going to get that call ever actually, against any team. It doesn't matter who the refs are ... It's us against the world and we're not going to get those calls in these types of games." Look, I understand McGloin's frustrations; I really do. That was a huge call, and a bad call, and it really did hurt Penn State bad. But at the end of the day, it wasn't the only reason the Nits lost this game, or even the biggest reason. I mean, as a reminder, they came into the third quarter with a 14-point lead. It's a lead they squandered almost immediately. That's why they lost; the Lehman call wouldn't have been a factor if the lead hadn't been blown in the first place.

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