What You Need To Know - 5 Big Storylines

Posted Nov 25, 2012

What You Need To Know - The five main storylines from Week 13

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Notre Dame is going to play for the national title

The year 1988 was the last time the Fighting Irish won the national championship, and now, after weeks of hoping for the right breaks, and with a big win over USC, everything worked out perfectly. Notre Dame was Notre Dame against the Trojans, playing tough defense, getting a pick from Manti Te'o, and using the strong running game to take control of the game, but it was a big goal-line stand in the final minutes that might have defined the season. USC quarterback Max Wittek misfired on the throw to an open receiver on fourth down in the end zone, but the pressure from the Irish line helped make that happen. Now No. 1 team in the BCS can kick back and watch Alabama play Georgia in the SEC title game to see who it's going to play.

Johnny Football to Johnny Heisman?

Texas A&M's game against Missouri was hardly a showcase, with most of the college football world focusing on Notre Dame-USC and South Carolina-Clemson, but the Heisman race might have been decided in College Station as Johnny Manziel, despite suffering a minor knee injury, threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 67 yards and two scores, to lead the Aggies to a 59-29 blowout. In his record-setting season, the freshman has cranked out exactly 4,600 yards of total offense with 24 touchdown passes, 19 touchdown runs, 1,181 rushing yards, and one win over Alabama. It was the greatest statistical season ever produced by an SEC quarterback, and in the absence of any other prime candidates, Manziel will win unless the bias against freshman getting the Heisman is too much to overcome.

The ACC's horrible, horrible week

The week started off bad with Maryland announcing it was going to bolt for the Big Ten, Miami announced it wasn't going to accept a bowl bid and wasn't going to be eligible to play for the ACC title, and then came Saturday. The league had four showcase games against the SEC, three at home, and got walloped in all four starting with the opening kickoff from Georgia setting up a score against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs won 42-10, and Florida followed it up with a second half rally to beat Florida State 37-26. At about the same time, Vanderbilt destroyed Wake Forest 55-21, and in the nightcap, the high-octane Clemson offense managed just three points over the final three quarters in a 27-17 loss. In all, the four ACC teams lost to the SEC teams by a grand total of 161 to 74.

Ohio State and Penn State closed strong

The Buckeyes aren't eligible for the Big Ten title, and they can't go to a bowl game, but everything else about the season has been perfect with a 12-0 record and a good win over Michigan to make the fan base happy. While there are some who'll hope for an AP national championship, that's almost impossible after how Saturday shook out. However, going undefeated and beating the arch-rival is still something special.

While Ohio State isn't getting a shot to play for the BCS championship, Penn State is merely missing out on a bowl game, getting through it tumultuous season with a thrilling overtime win over Wisconsin to finish 8-4 and third in the overall Big Ten pecking order behind Ohio State and Nebraska. While the future is bright for the Buckeyes and uncertain for the Nittany Lions, both programs were able to succeed despite NCAA sanctions, and both had far, far better seasons than anyone projected.

The conference championships are set

Here's how the final weekend of the regular season is going to shape up for the conference championship chases.

ACC: Florida State playing Georgia Tech. Miami won the Coastal, but it isn't eligible after choosing to forgo a bowl appearance because of an ongoing NCAA investigation.

Big East: It seemed like it was going to be so easy. With Louisville losing to Connecticut in overtime, had Rutgers beaten Pitt, it would've been over – the Scarlet Knights would've been off to the BCS as the Big East champion. But now, after a stunning loss to the Panthers, Rutgers plays Louisville next week to potentially decide the conference title. If Rutgers wins, it's in the BCS no matter what. If Louisville wins and Cincinnati loses to Connecticut, the Cardinals will go to the BCS. If Louisville and Cincinnati both win, the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings between Louisville and Rutgers will get the nod.

Big Ten: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Big 12: Kansas State will go to the Fiesta Bowl with a win over Texas or an Oklahoma loss to TCU. Oklahoma will go with a win and a Kansas State loss.

Conference USA: UCF at Tulsa

MAC: Kent State vs. Northern Illinois

Mountain West: Fresno State has won at least a share thanks to its head-to-head win over San Diego State. Boise State can take part of the title with a win over Nevada, or with a loss, Fresno State would be named the champion, even though it'll be on top with SDSU.

Pac-12: UCLA at Stanford

SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama

Sun Belt: The winner of Middle Tennessee at Arkansas State will win the Sun Belt championship.

WAC: Utah State has already won.