Sweet 16 is swamped

Terry Bowden
Yahoo! SportsNovember 21, 2006
Terry's new Sweet 16
First number denotes AP rank.
Next number is BCS rank.
Big number is Terry's rank.
1 1 1 Ohio St. 12-0
4 4 2 Florida 10-1 up 1
3 3 3 USC 9-1 up 1
2 2 4 Michigan 11-1 down 2
6 5 5 Notre Dame 10-1
5 6 6 Arkansas 10-1
12 11 7 Boise St. 11-0 up 1
10 8 8 Wisconsin 11-1 up 3
7 7 9 W. Virginia 9-1
8 9 10 Louisville 9-1
11 13 11 Texas 9-2 up 2
9 10 12 LSU 9-2 up 3
14 12 13 Auburn 10-2 up 1
16 16 14 Georgia Tech 9-2 upNR
17 17 15 Virginia Tech 9-2 upNR
15 14 16 Rutgers 9-1 up 9
20 21 NR Wake Forest 9-2 down(12)
22 19 NR California 8-3 down(16)
NR = Not ranked last week.
Last week's rank in parentheses.

See how our experts fared

Ohio State 42, Michigan 39

Seldom does a game with so much hype live up to it, but the epic battle between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan was everything it was advertised to be and more – much, much more. In fact, in the Buckeyes' 42-39 victory over Michigan no one was ready for the offensive fireworks that were displayed in Columbus. And Bo Schembechler's unexpected passing on Friday only added to the drama of this first-ever game between Ohio State and Michigan when they were ranked one and two.

Troy Smith proved to be the difference in the game as he threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. It is the third year in a row Smith has led the Buckeyes over the Wolverines, and his performance all but locked up the Heisman Trophy.

Ohio State is headed to the national championship game, and the only real question is whether Michigan will be in a position to earn a rematch. Prior to the game I stated that there's no way in the world I would want to see these two teams play again in the championship game no matter who won the first one. However, now that I have seen them play, it has made me rethink my position. Now, I think I'll wait until Florida, Southern California, Notre Dame and Arkansas finish their seasons before I decide who deserves to be No. 2. As for No. 1, there isn't any question about that.

USC 23, California 9

Unlike the day's earlier battle between Ohio State and Michigan, this one was dominated by defense. In a game that featured two of the most explosive offenses in the Pac-10, the score was all knotted up 9-9 heading into the fourth quarter before USC quarterback John David Booty connected on two touchdown passes to earn the win for the Trojans. USC became the first school to win the Pac-10 five straight times. Pete Carroll improved to 19-0 in November, and the Trojans won their 32nd straight game in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Just like a team getting ready for the playoffs, USC is playing its best ball heading into the final stretch. With No. 6 Notre Dame in the box and rival UCLA on deck, USC has a great chance of concluding the season with a finish strong enough to earn its way into the national championship game. Last week, Carroll told me that he would not publicly politic for the spot no matter what happens. After the game, he was quoted as saying "we do play a great schedule," and USC fans hope that wins over Arkansas, Nebraska, Oregon, California and Notre Dame would do all the talking that the Trojans need.

Florida 62, Western Carolina 0

It was Senior Day at the Swamp, but after the first quarter there were very few Florida seniors on the field. The Gators scored touchdowns on nine of their first ten possessions to crush Western Carolina, a 2-9 Division I-AA team.

This was a day for youth at Florida as freshman after freshman from last year's outstanding recruiting class made plays on the field. Tim Tebow completed 10 of 12 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 46 yards and two more scores. Brandon James broke the Gators' single-game punt return record with 155 yards, Jarred Fayson ran for 77 yards and a score, and receiver Riley Cooper caught three touchdown passes. Starters either sat this one out or exited to the sidelines early in the first half.

The team should be as healthy as it has been all season for its regular-season final this weekend against Florida State. With FSU struggling, this doesn't look like much of a contest, which means a chance to be in that national championship hunt could come down to the SEC championship game against Arkansas. Currently, Florida is ranked fourth, behind one-loss Michigan and Southern California in every poll.

Arkansas 28, Mississippi State 14

Although Arkansas looks to have the most difficult road to the national championship of all the one-loss teams, the Razorbacks definitely are on their way to the SEC championship game after beating Mississippi State.

The Arkansas offense, with its star running back tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, was held in check for most of the day, but the defense and special teams took up the slack. Chris Houston returned an interception 87 yards for one touchdown, and McFadden brought a kickoff back 92 yards for another. Still, it took a trick double-reverse flea-flicker play late in the third quarter to seal the win for the Razorbacks.

It was the 10th straight win for Arkansas after a season-opening loss to Southern California. However, the Hogs still face LSU and Florida.

Notre Dame 41, Army 9

I'm not sure we really know how good Notre Dame is after an eighth straight win over an unranked opponent since the Irish's 47-21 loss to Michigan. The Irish are exciting on offense and fun to watch, but their schedule has been dumbed down so much it just doesn't give you much of an indication of how good they really are.

After pulling out the storied green jerseys against Army on Saturday (previously, a tactic only employed against big-time opponents), the Fighting Irish again routed a lesser foe, Army. The only significant stat to come out of the game was that Brady Quinn threw his first interception in 226 passes, which ended the longest streak in the country.

At least head coach Charlie Weis realizes what the weaknesses and strengths of the schedule are. He admitted after the game to have spent two-thirds of his practice time working on plays for USC. If Notre Dame can knock off the Trojans next week then you have to wonder if the BCS could vault the No. 5 Irish over No. 4 Florida and No. 2 Michigan.

Cincinnati 30, Rutgers 11

Well, it was a great ride for Rutgers, but a feisty Cincinnati team burst its bubble with a stunning upset. Just one week after the biggest victory in school history, the Scarlet Knights never got their offense going. Running back Ray Rice, who was ranked third in the country in rushing, was stymied all day by the Bearcats. Quarterback Mike Teel could not elevate his game to make up for the lack of a running game and, in fact, imploded with four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

The real hero of the day ended up being Cincinnati senior quarterback Nick Davila, who had never started a game for the Bearcats. He finished with 200 yards passing, a touchdown pass and a run for a score.

Just like Big East teammates West Virginia and Louisville, Rutgers saw its slender chance for a shot at the national title slip from its grasp while giving an opponent maybe its biggest win ever.

Auburn 22, Alabama 15

When I first became the head coach at Auburn in 1993, I asked a big booster if what I had heard about the Auburn-Alabama game was true. Was it a life and death matter? He said, "Oh no, it's much bigger than that!"

Well, Auburn recorded its fifth straight win over the Tide under Tommy Tuberville, and Alabama recorded its fourth consecutive loss to the Tigers under Mike Shula. I'd say life is not going to be all that pleasant for Shula next year. Tuberville, on the other hand, could probably run for governor and get at least half the votes.

The fact is that Auburn is a little better on offense than Alabama, a little better on defense than Alabama, and a little better in the kicking game than Alabama. Also, Tuberville is just a better big-game coach than Shula at this point in his career. Now, you've got to wonder just how much of that career is going to be as the head coach at Alabama.

Boston College 38, Maryland 16

Well, I thought Maryland's luck would run out. I didn't know it would run out so early in the game Saturday against Boston College. Two fumble returns for touchdowns by BC's linebacker and captain, Jolonn Dunbar, before four minutes had even ticked off the clock, all but solidified the win for the Eagles.

Maryland had a trip to Jacksonville to face Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game in its own hands, but with this loss, the Atlantic Division remains wide open.

BC has to beat Miami on Thanksgiving in the Orange Bowl, which happens to be exactly 22 years to the day since the famous "Hail Flutie" play. Then the Eagles need help from the very team they just beat, the Terrapins, to defeat Wake Forest and put BC into the title game. If the Hurricanes win, then the Wake-Maryland winner takes the division outright.

Virginia Tech 27, Wake Forest 6

Virginia Tech's tough defense held Wake Forest to 62 yards rushing, which put the pressure on Demon Deacon quarterback Riley Skinner. Skinner put up 195 yards but couldn't get his team into the end zone. Wake's defense gave up a ton of big plays, including touchdown receptions of 53 and 49 yards.

Despite losing the ACC's leading rusher, Branden Ore, early in the first quarter, the Hokies still put up 343 net yards on offense. Virginia Tech had no chance of playing for the ACC championship but looked like a team out to prove something.

Wake still can play in Jacksonville on Dec. 2 by winning at Maryland on the road next weekend.

Georgia Tech 49, Duke 21

Despite a lackluster offensive performance last week at North Carolina, Georgia Tech still clinched a spot in the ACC championship game. The Yellow Jackets' starters went out and proved their worthiness to represent the Coastal Division in the first half of the game against Duke. Reggie Ball threw three touchdowns, including two to Calvin Johnson, and Tashard Choice rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown, all in the first half. Head coach Chan Gailey decided it was time for those starters to start looking ahead to the Georgia game next weekend and sat them on the bench.

Duke has the nation's longest losing streak at 19, but the Blue Devils have a chance to escape an 0-12 season if they can find a way to beat rival North Carolina in John Bunting's final game as Tar Heel head coach.