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LSU Pounds Arkansas To Claim #1 Into SEC Championship vs Georgia
'College Football Monday'
Frank Coyle's Blog Column
LSU and Houston Finish Regular Season As the Only Two Unbeatens
Offensive Player of the Week –
RB Trent Richardson - Alabama
Defensive Player of the Week
CB Tyrann Mathieu - LSU
Photo - RB Trent Richardson - Alabama
The final full week of the regular 2011 season is complete with conference championship games on the agenda this week. LSU continues to establish themselves as the #1 club with an impressive 41-17 win over Arkansas after trailing 14-0 in the second quarter. The Tigers are a powerhouse who meets a hot Georgia team this week in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs have won 10 consecutive games since opening the season with two losses. LSU gained their composure vs Arkansas and drilled them with another display of power and speed that has dominated their competition against probably the toughest schedule in the nation. LSU appears headed for a rematch with Alabama who lost their only game to the Tigers 9-6 in early November. Alabama dominated Auburn in their finale to complete an excellent 11-1 season, though only good for second place in the SEC West that is occupied by LSU and Arkansas. Those three clubs ranked 1-3 entering last weekend with LSU and Alabama holding the top two spots while Arkansas fell back in the top ten.
LSU relied on a power ground game and some big plays from QB Jordan Jefferson and corner Tyrann Mathieu to blitz the Hogs. Jefferson had his best game of the season and gets the starting nod from here on thru the BCS bowl games. Mathieu may be the best defensive player in the nation after another outstanding performance. ‘Honey Badger’ has a great nose for the ball and packs a wallop when he gets there to force turnovers. In the key win over Arkansas, he had a team-best eight solo tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one as the top-ranked Tigers completed their regular season undefeated. Mathieu added a 92-yard punt return for a TD as LSU remained undefeated (12-0, 8-0 in SEC West) and earned a spot in next week’s SEC Championship Game.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards (on 27 carries) as the second-ranked Crimson Tide defeated Auburn, 42-14, in the Iron Bowl. Richardson added a five-yard touchdown reception as Alabama improved to 11-1, 7-1 in the SEC West. Richardson is one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates entering the final weekend where he will sit out waiting for the Tides feat in the postseason.
Michigan finally beat Ohio St. 40-34 that snapped a 7 game losing streak to their archrival. Michigan QB Denard Robinson accounted for 5 TDs as the Wolverines finished 10-2. Robinson ran for 170 yards on 26 carries, in addition to going 14 of 17 for 167 yards in a terrific overall performance. The Michigan win was huge for first year coach Brady Hoke who will lead the Wolverines in a top tier bowl matchup. Ohio St. named Urban Meyers their new head coach on Monday. The former Florida head coach sat out this year due to minor medical issues. He lead the Gators to two national championships and returns to Ohio St. where he was an assistant coach prior to starting his head coaching career at Bowling Green.
UCLA ran into the Trojans in their cross town rivalry. QB Matt Barkley has been in a zone for weeks and torched the Bruins 50-0. Barkley went 35 of 42 for 423 yards and 6 TDs that ended the Trojans season at 10-2. The Trojans are under NCAA suspension for any postseason activity, though they would rank in the top ten easily if eligible. Barkley had an outstanding season and closed with as impressive a run as any player in the nation, though any Heisman talk was most likely too little too late. UCLA finished 6-6 and earned a berth in the Pac 12’s first championship game vs Oregon. Figure that out.
Houston finished undefeated that ranks them in the top ten. QB Case Keenum broke school, conference and NCAA records weekly over the final months that might earn an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation. Where Houston falls in the bowl season will be interesting with their perfect record intact entering the CUSA title game vs Southern Miss. They hope to possibly challenging for the BCS title if LSU loses over their final two games.
Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead had two punt returns for 54 yards, nine receptions for 112 yards and a TD, and 17 carries for 80 yards and a TD in a 30-13 win over Syracuse on Nov. 26. He finished with 246 all-purpose yards in the game. Pead's performance helped keep the Bearcats alive for a Big East Championship and a BCS bowl berth.
Georgia's Brandon Boykin had an impressive showing against Georgia Tech over the weekend. Boykin will face off with LSU this weekend in the Southeastern Conference Championship game in Atlanta, Georgia. Boykin caught one pass for 28 yards, returned two punts for 4 yards and returned one kick for 60 yards in a 31-17 win over Georgia Tech. On defense Boykin recorded two total tackles, including assisting on a tackle for loss.
The BCS matchup for #1 appears headed for a rematch of LSU and Alabama after last weekend. LSU prevailed 9-6 earlier this season on the road that earned them a huge lead for the #1 ranking entering the final months. They win the SEC West division in the conference that has dominated the national title for five consecutive seasons.
This Week’s Top Games
#1 LSU vs #12 Georgia
#11 Michigan St vs #15 Wisconsin
#7 Houston vs #24 Southern Miss
#5 Virginia Tech vs #21 Clemson
New Weekly Top 25 Polls Posted every Tuesday
Frank Coyle writes ‘College Football Monday’ weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards