|AP Photo/John Bazemore|
|Auburn RB Tre Mason and coach Gus Malzahn had an SEC championship to celebrate after Saturday's game.|
Here are some of the things we learned from this weekend's college football action:
1. New BCS title-game projection
No. 1 Florida State took care of business Saturday vs. Duke, but No. 2 Ohio State came up short against Michigan State. With its win over Missouri and the Buckeyes' loss, No. 3 Auburn is expected to have its dream season culminate in a BCS title-game berth.
2. Mason on fire
Auburn running back Tre Mason blew away Missouri with 304 rushing yards Saturday, breaking an SEC championship game record for both yardage and carries. In a game that produced 101 points, it was Mason left, Mason right, and Mason up the middle that did the most damage.
3. FSU dominant on both sides of the ball
Florida State's 45 points in Saturday night's ACC championship game mean the Seminoles have scored 689 points this season. They are 28 points shy of tying the FBS record for most points in a season; Oklahoma scored 718 in 2008 (coincidentally, the Sooners lost in the national title game that season, to Florida). In addition, Saturday's game was the seventh this season in which FSU allowed seven or fewer points. The Seminoles have allowed more than 17 only once, in a 48-34 win over Boston College.
4. Green-Beckham explodes
Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham played his best game of the season on the biggest stage of the season for the Tigers, albeit in a losing effort. The true sophomore, however, served notice that he'll be one of the elite receivers in the SEC in 2014, particularly with one of its top returning quarterbacks, Maty Mauk, throwing him passes.
5. Shazier plays well in loss
While Ohio State's secondary again played poorly, Buckeyes junior LB Ryan Shazier (6-2, 230) again showed why he might be the nation's best linebacker. Shazier had 12 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and a quarterback hurry, and he partially blocked a punt in the Buckeyes' loss. Michigan State's offense had made its living this season by running the ball, but Shazier and the rest of the Ohio State front seven did a nice job against a physical Spartans rushing attack. The secondary, however, gave up 303 passing yards, a big reason the Buckeyes' 24-game winning streak came to an end. It's interesting that the unit that was expected to be the team's strength instead was an issue all season.
6. Ref lends help to Missouri
With Missouri's tattered defense being manhandled by Auburn all night in the SEC title game, leave it to an SEC official to show the Tigers how to tackle Tre Mason. Mason rushed for 304 yards, but on this play, the ref said "enough's enough."
7. Mr. Robinson's neighborhood
Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson has been rumored as a possible early NFL draft entry for several weeks. But it's no rumor that he's giving it consideration. Robinson told College Football 24/7 he will indeed give it some thought between now and the deadline for underclassmen in five weeks. A deep group of left tackle prospects could be getting deeper.
8. Matching up
The aforementioned Robinson drew another future NFL draft pick for an assignment in Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy for some of Saturday's matchup, but more often than not, Robinson was busy bullying Missouri's interior defensive line. Check out the details on the performances of Robinson and Ealy with College Football 24/7's matchup analysis.
9. Baylor makes history
Behind another outstanding performance from quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor claimed its first-ever Big 12 championship and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl by defeating Texas.
Petty will almost certainly be overshadowed by Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota in the discussion of top draft-eligible quarterbacks entering next season, but with his combination of accuracy, arm strength, mobility and frame, it should not be a shock if Petty emerges as the top signal-caller in the 2015 NFL Draft.
That knowledge won't help the long-term prospects of embattled Texas head coach Mack Brown, who has been savaged in recent years for missing out on the likes of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and other Lone Star state recruits at the most critical position in football.
10. Sooners shine again for Stoops
Bob Stoops catches a lot of flak from Oklahoma fans for his inability to get the Sooners back to the national championship, for his struggles in big games and bowls, and for basically not being able to match his remarkable early success. But Stoops does deliver 10-win seasons regularly, and he excels in rivalry games.
Stoops secured his 12th season with double-digit wins in 15 years leading Oklahoma in denying Oklahoma State a share of the Big 12 title and berth in the Fiesta Bowl with a 33-24 win. Stoops is now 21-9 against Texas and the Cowboys, never losing both the Red River Rivalry and Bedlam in the same season.
With an offseason to stabilize the quarterback position and bolster the linebacker corps, Stoops could get Oklahoma back into national contention next season, with the loss of stalwarts and draft prospects like center Gabe Ikard and cornerback Aaron Colvin.
11. Bortles' stock ascending
Focusing on his passing numbers (24 of 35 for 242 yards, no TDs) Saturday won't do justice to UCF QB Blake Bortles' peformance. He overcame difficult conditions to lead the Knights to a win at SMU in the freezing cold and NFL Media analyst Charles Davis said he's more impressed with the junior QB each time he watches him.
12. ASU surrenders line of scrimmage
Arizona State was as hot as any team in college football, and home-field advantage was supposed to be the trump card against a Stanford club with well-documented road struggles this season. It didnât happen. The Cardinal dominated up front on both sides of the ball in a 38-14 steamrolling. Take away the Sun Devils' touchdown plays of 51 and 65 yards by sophomore running back D.J. Foster, and Stanford allowed 2.78 yards on its other 66 defensive snaps.
13. Rice wins a title for first time since 1957
Rice won its first outright conference title since 1957 by blasting Marshall 41-24 in the Conference USA championship game. The Owls led 21-10 at halftime, then removed any doubt by outscoring the Herd 13-0 in the third quarter. Senior TB Charles Ross (6-1, 235), a potential third-day draft pick, ran for 109 yards and two scores for Rice; it was his seventh 100-yard outing of the season, and he now has 14 rushing TDs. The Owls rushed for 248 yards. Rice, whose last outright league title came in the old Southwest Conference, is headed to the Liberty Bowl. Marshall is headed to the Military Bowl to play an ACC team.
14. UConn finds a quarterback
UConn struggled to a 3-9 finish and is looking for a new coach, but it sure looks as if the Huskies have found their future quarterback. Redshirt freshman Casey Cochran threw for 461 yards and four TDs as UConn blasted Memphis 45-10 to finish the season Saturday. Cochran (6-1, 227) didn't play all that much until early November, but Saturday's performance gave him nine TDs in the Huskies' final four regular-season games; he threw for 772 yards and six TDs in the final two contests.
15. FCS QB has 51 TD passes this season
Eastern Illinois senior QB Jimmy Garoppolo (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) threw three more TD passes, giving him 51 for the season, as the second-seeded Panthers hammered Tennessee State 51-10 in the second round of the FCS playoffs. It was the 11th time in 13 games this season that Garoppolo thrown at least three TD passes. Garoppolo threw for 240 yards, his second-lowest total of the season, but it didn't matter as EIU (12-1) rolled. He now has 4,729 passing yards this season, 347 shy of the single-season FCS record. EIU meets seventh-seeded Towson (11-2) in next week's quarterfinals. Towson RB Terrance West has 33 rushing TDs this season.