By: Nate Gatter, KCOU Sports
Finally, after weeks of near-flawless play, Bad Bo has made his return. Mississippi’s senior quarterback, once maligned for his inconsistency, had been proving his doubters wrong with each passing week of Ole Miss perfection. Wallace made his triumphant return to unfathomable recklessness, however, in the Rebels’ 10-7 loss to LSU. Trailing by three with mere seconds remaining, coach Hugh Freeze opted to forego the 47-yard field goal in favor of a Wallace pass that could set up a shorter field goal attempt. Wallace saw no receivers open, initially, and Bad Bo capitalized. Instead of throwing the ball away and kicking the field goal to force overtime, Wallace went for the end zone and the win, instead producing an easy LSU interception.
That last play is, exclusively, the fault of Bo Wallace. Hugh Freeze put his quarterback in a position to succeed; all Wallace had to do was throw the ball away when no options presented themselves. Instead, he tried to win the game himself. As my high school baseball coach always said, “We don’t need heroes; we need ballplayers.” Bo Wallace wants to be the hero of every single game, and it cost Ole Miss last Saturday night.
What to Watch
(2) Florida State @ (25) Louisville
The last time Florida State visited Louisville, a Thursday night in 2002, the Seminoles fell in overtime. After hanging on to beat Notre Dame in Week 8, Jimbo Fisher and Co. got a much-needed breather in the bye week. Without the break, this matchup would likely favor the Cardinals. Instead, the extra time off has given Florida State time to lick its wounds and prepare for the next challenge.
Predicted Final: Florida State 38, Louisville 24
(3) Auburn @ (4) Ole Miss
This game comes down to the eternal Bo Wallace question: Good Bo or Bad Bo? I say Bad. Wallace will still be shaken by his poor performance in Death Valley and try to do too much in a de facto playoff elimination game. The winner likely carries only one loss into the final week of the season when it will play its rivalry game (the Iron Bowl and Egg Bowl, respectively). Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has also been prone to turnovers, but hopefully coach Gus Malzahn’s offense won’t show the same road jitters it did in its first trip to Mississippi, a rain-soaked loss in Starkville. Winner of the turnover battle wins the game.
Predicted Final: Auburn 35, Ole Miss 27
(7) Texas Christian @ (20) West Virginia
These Mountaineers are good at home. Darn good. Doesn’t hurt to have a capacity crowd belting out Take Me Home, Country Roads. (One of the most underrated traditions in college football.) The over/under on this matchup currently sits at 73.5. Take the way, way over; I would expect at least 90 total points. In fact, TCU may be shooting for 90 by itself after pasting Texas Tech to the tune of 82-27 last Saturday. Trevone Boykin vaulted himself into the Heisman race with his seven-touchdown performance and will look to keep the momentum going against a suspect West Virginia defense.
Predicted Final: Texas Christian 52, West Virginia 45
(12) Arizona @ (22) UCLA
Rich Rod’s Wildcats could quite easily be undefeated and leading playoff contenders if not for misfortune in the kicking game. They’ll get a big road win over the somehow-still-overrated Bruins at the Rose Bowl. Look for Arizona’s offense to establish its tempo early and hit UCLA with as many different looks as possible. If the Bruins’ offensive line can’t keep Hundley off the turf, it could get ugly for UCLA.
Predicted Final: Arizona 38, UCLA 27
(17) Utah @ (14) Arizona State
With quarterback Taylor Kelly back under center, the Sun Devils look menacing once again. Both teams have one loss, making this contest another de facto playoff elimination game. With Kelly providing enough of a threat to distract from dynamic running back D.J. Foster, Arizona State wins at home and keeps its title hopes alive.
Predicted Final: Arizona State 31, Utah 20
After nine weeks, your Heisman winner is…
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Cooper showed off his skills in Alabama’s 34-20 win over Tennessee with nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. The junior now boasts 71 receptions for 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns. In eight games. America loves its quarterbacks, and Heisman voters are no exception, but Amari Cooper has been the best player in college football so far this year.
Also in the running…
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Big Pac-12 matchups still on Oregon’s slate, notably a clash with Stanford’s defense this week in Palo Alto.
Trevone Boykin, QB, Texas Christian
Seven touchdown passes will get Boykin on Heisman watch lists in a hurry. If the Horned Frogs keep winning, Boykin will be a serious contender.
Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Despite losing the game, Golson outplayed Jameis Winston in Tallahassee when the Irish played FSU in Week 8. He, and the Irish, both have a lot left to play for.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Abdullah keeps putting up numbers. Perhaps they are bloated by the weakest Big Ten in years, but they remain staggering. He can no longer be left off the list.
Keep your eyes on matchups of one-loss teams this week, chiefly Auburn-Ole Miss and Utah-Arizona State. Two-loss teams have nothing left to play for and undefeated squads can afford to drop a game. One-loss elimination games are where the action is. Don’t look away; the inaugural college football playoff is being molded before your eyes.