The Other College Football Top 25: Watch SEC championship, remember Ohio State-Michigan


25. THE MORIBUND SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE. Just four years after it won its seventh straight national title, it has No. 1 Alabama and then it will reach next Sunday with five four-loss teams, three five-loss teams, two six-loss teams, two seven-loss teams, one eight-loss team and an old Sugar Bowl berth that ought to go to someone else. If it is not careful, people from other regions might begin to lampoon it.

24. THE OVER-UNDER ON HOW MANY YARDS FLORIDA'S 114TH-RANKED OFFENSE, WHICH HAS SCORED THREE TOUCHDOWNS AMID 22 PUNTS AND SEVEN TURNOVERS IN NOVEMBER, WILL GAIN IN THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AGAINST ALABAMA, WHICH HAS NOT ALLOWED A TOUCHDOWN IN FOUR GAMES IN NOVEMBER. What, 137.5?

23. THE FINISH OF BUTCH JONES. After the Tennessee coach opened 5-0 before finishing 3-4 with a loss at Vanderbilt, he trended Saturday night on Twitter. It's a foreboding sign when you're trending on Twitter when almost the entire country has little idea your team is playing.

22. THE YEAR OF BRIAN KELLY. In his exhausted seventh season at Notre Dame, he finished 4-8 amid reports he has his people seeking other jobs while he denies seeking other jobs. It can get so complicated, co-habitating with ghosts.

21. VIDEO REVIEW. Someday, it will decide a game in favor of a road team, the way it couldn't quite in the Michigan-Ohio State classic. When it does, the officials will deserve a group statue, akin to "The Burghers of Calais."

20. ". . . DESERVEDLY HOLDS A SEAT AMONG COLLEGE FOOTBALL ELITE . . ." Actually, Texas is a delusional football program in the second tier of elite, in ninth place with three national championships (counting all major polls taken after bowls in pre-playoff years), fewer than, say, Miami (Fla.) (five), which doesn't sit around extolling its eliteness. But you have to forgive the introductory speech of its fantastic new coach, Tom Herman, a force of nature who might just make Texas elite.

19. ARIZONA (3-9) 56, ARIZONA STATE (5-7) 35. In overseeing a mind-boggling 511 rushing yards for a team that had played much of the season in a sinkhole, the beleaguered Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez jettisoned the no-huddle and began going all 20th-century by having his team huddle. This could be the spark toward sweeping societal change -- or not.

18. THE VERY IDEA THAT LANE KIFFIN WOULD LEAVE ALABAMA TO GO JOIN HIS FRIEND ED ORGERON AS LSU OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR. The loudness of that speculative possibility already has stoked a speculative headache.

17. FCS ROUND OF 16: WOFFORD (9-3) AT THE CITADEL (10-1). By nudging past Charleston Southern, 15-14, with the help of a second-quarter safety, the Terriers earned an intra-state rematch with the Bulldogs, who edged them out, 24-21, on Oct. 22, and showed that in 24-team playoffs, it can be hard just to get out of South Carolina.

16. VIRGINIA TECH (9-3) VS. NO. 4 CLEMSON (11-1), ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. As this match does entice, credit must go to Virginia Tech fullback Sam Rogers's girlfriend, who accepted his marriage proposal on the field after the win over Virginia. Had she declined, that might have addled game preparations.

15. MY COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES OREDIGGERS. Our season ended at a considerable 10-3 with our second-round loss to Ferris State by 38-17 in the Division II playoffs, but our quarterback, Justin Dvorak, ended his career with a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-record 13,466 passing yards. A lot of Americans don't walk that far in four years.

14. 66 RUSHING YARDS. It is written in the ancient texts that if Alabama can face Auburn's No. 5-ranked rushing offense and limit it to 66 yards, then Alabama will see that it is good.

13. SCORE OF THE CENTURY: PITTSBURGH 76, SYRACUSE 61. Mad.

12. UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY. The nation's No. 2 rushing offense set up the American Athletic Conference title match against routinely excellent Temple by hogging 496 rushing yards in the 75-31 win at SMU. It is a marvel of precision even on land.

11. THE LIMITS OF LOVE. Texas' football players openly adored the dismissed Coach Charlie Strong, yet that love that couldn't prevent closing losses at Kansas and at home by 31-9 to TCU. Football is an unforgiving petri dish on how far love can go.

10. HOUSTON LOSES, BOISE STATE LOSES, AND WESTERN MICHIGAN (12-0) CHURNS TOWARD THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE TITLE GAME WITH A CHANCE AT THE GROUP OF FIVE COTTON BOWL BID. The bathroom mirrors in the Broncos' locker room have this painted on them: "Look In The Mirror; That's Your Competition." So if you're feeling kind of 1-11 today, as Western Michigan was in 2013, you know whom to fight.

9. NO. 7 WISCONSIN (10-2) VS. NO. 6 PENN STATE (10-2), BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. This motley pair heads for a title match in Indianapolis few craved in a league that also includes Ohio State and Michigan and their boffo TV ratings. Normally, when students show up somewhere unexpectedly, it's in some overcrowded hotel room during spring break.

8. NO. 9 COLORADO (10-2) VS. NO. 5 WASHINGTON (11-1), PACIFIC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. Some of us waited for last Friday's Apple Cup for more than a month, but then the Huskies ruined it by charging out to a 28-3 lead, but then it's important to forgive.

7. THE EXCELLENT NUMBERS OF CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY. While the nation has overlooked the Stanford wonder this time around, and while he had a brief turn with injury, he leads that same nation in all-purpose yardage with 2,327 in 11 games, rushing for 1,603, after getting 3,864 all-purpose in 14 games last year, all of which proves we are a spoiled, huffy 320 million in general.

6. THE HEISMAN CANDIDACY OF JONATHAN ALLEN? He's the best player on the best unit in the country - Alabama's defense - and if by some chance they would hand him the Heisman Trophy, it would constitute a national evolution from decades of failing to appreciate the defenders who protect their masses from depressing Saturday nights caused by the offenses of Lucifer from down the highway.

5. VANDERBILT! It had Kyle Shurmer passing for 416 yards, Ralph Webb rushing for 114, Trent Sherfield receiving for 184 on nine catches, Caleb Scott receiving for 117 on four, a 21-0 run in the last 16 minutes, its most points in an SEC game since 1971, a 45-34 win over No. 17 Tennessee, a 6-6 record with wins over Tennessee and Georgia, and as meaningful a Saturday night as anyone had, especially given that on balance, it does not adore Tennessee.

4. THE SOARING WORDS OF MIKE MCINTYRE. "They'll wake up in the middle of the night," the Colorado coach said of his players, "and go, 'Wow,' and they'll have that moment when it's just them by themselves, when you've accomplished something that nobody thinks you're going to accomplish and you do something nobody thinks you can do and you really probably doubted yourself at times." In all the years of teams improving from records like 4-9 to records like 10-2 in a single, stunning autumn, maybe nobody ever described it better.

3. 10.4. The overnight TV rating for Michigan-Ohio State became the largest for college football in 10 years, and rose to a mighty 12.7 during the two overtimes, as we all know really annoying people who come in all of a sudden and ask to change the channel.

2. THE COMPLETION OF THE RESURRECTION OF MICHIGAN. In 23 months, Jim Harbaugh has returned a long-acclaimed program from tepidness to the highest level of the game, so that it could spend a most of a Saturday as the better team in its biggest rivalry, then spend the days after that in the kind of unrelenting agony available only in sports, with the capricious meanness of its awful inches.

1. MICHIGAN VS. OHIO STATE, NOV. 26, 2016. As the college football writer William Faulkner wrote, the past is neither dead nor even past, and here was a marvel all set for a continuing lifetime as a living, heaving past.


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