Opulence and excellence threw shade all over parity and equal opportunity on college football’s ninth Saturday. After last Saturday’s heart-pounding slate of scares slashed the Top-10 in half, Week 9 was an opportunity for the remaining undefeateds and their fans to visit their cardiologists and rejoice in their good health.

Final scores weren’t indicative of how badly losing teams were getting Terio’d. Meanwhile, Texas Tech and Missouri’s time gallivanting as contenders at the BCS costume party came to an end.

The coaches at Ohio State, Baylor, Alabama, Florida State and Oregon hope their players haven’t gotten gluttonous and slothful over the weekend because November is when the national championship chase transitions from a marathon into a dash to the finish. Some teams will get unexpectedly tripped up by their own mental errors while others will simply discover their own mortality against more brolic foes.

Florida State has Miami next, Bama is prepping for a visit from LSU, Baylor has Oklahoma’s film on in the weight room, Oregon preps for a Mexican standoff with Stanford’s defense and Ohio State has – Purdue. It doesn’t get much easier for most of them.

ALABAMA SHUT TENNESSEE DOWN LIKE CHICK-FIL-A ON SUNDAY

Halftime score: 35-0, Final Score: 45-10

Tennessee got smoked by Alabama. Then, the Crimson Tide celebrated by lighting up their traditional post-Vols victory cigar. It’s the most acceptable NCAA violation in the nation. Meanwhile, Alabama fans remained in the stands despite the Crimson Tide’s prodigious halftime lead after Saban scolded them for leaving the stands early in home matchups.

I propose a solution. Saban has made it a habit of pulling his starters late in blowouts. If exiting fans were able to hand off their tickets to folks milling around outside the stadium then it’s a fair tradeoff that keeps everyone happy. Alabama’s win has to be the most impressive because of the quality of their opponent. Tennessee’s record doesn’t show it, but this is the same squad that nearly upset UGA and beat South Carolina last week.

Alabama has quite a November ahead of them after they iced their four opponents by a score of 190 to 20. After they return from their bye on No. 9, the LSU Tigers await and three weeks later a resurgent Auburn Tigers team could still be a threat to their SEC West championship. Something tells me the fans won’t be so eager to beat traffic on those dates.

However, let’s not go too far with our exaltation of AJ McCarron. Peep the rankings of the signal callers with the top QBRs in the nation. Oh wait, college football’s Alex Smith is on that list too, and he was tops in Week 9.

 

Related: FSU TO ALABAMA, “KEEP UP

First Quarter Lead: 35-0 Final Score: 49-17

In the first 15 minutes against NC State, Jameis Winston was dropping dimes into a slot machine with arching touchdown passes of 39 and 42 yards. FSU’s lopsided win wasn’t unexpected and they sent a message to NC State, which was on a two-year winning streak against the Seminoles. Last season’s victory ended their undefeated campaign in ignominious fashion. Winston ended the first quarter with 229 yards and three touchdowns. That’s a full day’s work for most quarterbacks.

However, it’s time we start asking one question about the beginning of Winston’s collegiate career.

 

 

OREGON FINALLY PLAYS A FOUR QUARTER GAME

Halftime Score: 14-14, Final Score: 42-14

While Winston took off his hard hat after the first frame, fellow Heisman undergrad student Marcus Mariota burned the midnight oil (3 a.m east coast time oil) against UCLA. Mariota finished with one more yard than Winston’s fourth quarter total while leading the Ducks to 28 unanswered points after they began halftime in a tie. Their Steve Prefontaine-like endurance wore UCLA down, but it was their defense that put the clamps on Brett Hundley.

Hundley’s sophomore slide hit a new low as he threw for only 64 yards, one touchdown and a pair of picks against the nation’s best turnover-producing defense. We should have seen this coming after Mike Leach poked the bear and had Connor Halliday throw the ball an FBS-record 89 times for 557 yards.

Although he steered clear of condemning the losing team's coaching staff with a expletive-filled tirade as he did last week, Nick Aliotta remains a grandiloquent speaker.

"I love it when they do that stuff," Aliotti said about Oregon’s defense players promising him at halftime that the Bruins woulnd’t score again. "I love it when they talk dirty to me."

Oregon didn’t have the same walkthrough first half as ‘Bama and Florida State, but the BCS doesn’t factor in margin of victory anymore, therefore their win over a top-20 conference foe will push them back towards the BCS’ No. 2 spot.

 

BAYLOR’S LONGEST DRIVE WAS THE TRIP TO THE STADIUM

Halftime Score: 38 – 0, Final Score: 59-14

Baylor may be favored in every matchup moving forward, but Kansas was the final cupcake left on their schedule. They’ve set the bar so far for style points that their commanding 45-point victory feels a bit underwhelming. C’mon, they couldn’t even eclipse 60? It’s like watching Diddy showing up to an event with lint on his suit.

However, check this.  All eight of Baylor’s drives which ended in touchdowns were completed in fewer than two minutes and Kansas won the time of possession battle 22:07 to 37:53. The defense also limited Jake Heaps to 154 yards on 7-of-19 passing. Nick Aliotta approves of Charlie Weis’ waving of the white flag.

OHIO STATE CONFUSED PENN STATE WITH FAMU

Halftime Score: 42 – 7, Final Score: 63-14

Penn State’s all-white uniforms may be their defining image, but on Saturday night Ohio State treated them like an HBCU.

Penn State is stuck in a quagmire that sounds a bit like Grambling’s. They’re in a bit of a financial funk while they pay a $60 million fine levied by the NCAA (okay, maybe Grambling’s $20,000 SWAC penalty for forfeiting Jackson State’s homecoming looks meager by comparison) and the program hasn’t been the same since the retirement of their legendary coach.

In week four, Ohio State pillaged FAMU 76-0 and was going for it in the third quarter up by 55. Penn State didn’t receive much more mercy.

The Buckeyes may not win a national championship, or even play for one, but along the way they can win hearts and minds with KO victories like this one.

 

WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS…

This generation isn’t old enough to remember the hidden lesson from Jim Carey’s original Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Laces Out! Saturday night was a reminder.

Missouri was seven yards away from wrapping up the SEC East. That’s all they needed to breach the endzone and However, South Carolina’s defense sublimated and forced the Tigers to kick a field goal on fourth and goal for a chance to take the field in a third overtime. There was no wind, but the vacuum caused by Missouri fans gasping upon witnessing Andrew Baggett’s game-tying 24-yard chip shot veer wide left of the uprights altered the atmospheric pressure across the Midwest.

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However, the kicker bared only half the responsibility for the field goal shank. After receiving the snap, his holder, failed to spin the laces out facing the uprights (which makes it easier for the kicker to control the trajectory upon impact). Nobody expected Missouri to finish the season undefeated, however, a one-loss season could have resulted in a BCS at-large berth.

In any case, as long as they take care of business and advance to the SEC Championship Game, where they’ll presumably run headfirst into the ‘Bama juggernaut, all will be forgiven. They’ll be favored in each of their three matchups leading up to a season-ending clash with fellow SEC West newbie Texas A&M.

MAN ON FIRE - South Carolina’s Shock And Shaw Campaign

Ahead 17-0, Missouri appeared well on their way to reaching 8-0. Based on the schedule, they may not have played a competitive matchup until their regular season finale against Texas A&M. Defensive end Michael Sam was feasting on the flesh of Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson.

Enter Shaw who came to represent the antithesis of Jadaveon Clowney during his will he, won't he injury debacle against Kentucky three weeks ago. Shaw has fought through more injuries than John McClane, but has yippi-ki-yayed his way through the pain.

Riddled with shoulder injuries and a sprained knee, Shaw stepped in for Thompson and accounted for 201 passing yards, three touchdowns. After the loss of tailback Mike Davis, Shaw knotted the game up at 17 with an immaculate fourth down completion to­­­­ Nick Jones in the final minute. Naturally, Carolina fans were dejected.

It was almost too cliché. However, the rugged legend of Connor Shaw wrote another chapter to his legacy with in his own blood, sweat and tears. If South Carolina is playing in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 7, they’ll have Shaw to thank.