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Campus winners and losers

Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet (5) cuts

Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet (5) cuts back in the secondary for a long run in the first half. (Oct. 15, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

WINNERS

Stony Brook: Stony Brook gets top billing this week. The Seawolves (8-3, 6-0 Big South) took care of business with a 41-31 win over Liberty in front of 7,896 on Saturday afternoon and for the first time since becoming an FCS program qualified for the playoffs. It’s a win for the entire athletic department, which has taken big steps over the last half-decade with NCAA appearances by its softball, baseball and men’s lacrosse and soccer teams. Stony Brook will host state rival Albany in a first-round FCS game on Saturday at 2 p.m. Aside from Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore squaring off against his former school, the Seawolves will get the chance to one-up its top rival. Stony Brook and Albany games have always drawn nice sized crowds during basketball season and were football rivals during their days together in the Northeast Conference. Stony Brook is 4-9 all-time vs Albany and 3-6 since the two teams went Division I. Now it’s time for the schools to take it to the gridiron one more time.

Alabama: Talk about sitting pretty. All Alabama has to do is beat Auburn and is all but guaranteed a spot in the national title game. That won't be easy, though. The Tigers would love nothing better than to knock the Crimson Tide out of the national championship equation. If Arkansas happens to beat LSU on Saturday, that could change things. LSU losing to Arkansas would create a threeway tie for first in the SEC, which could put Alabama into the SEC championship game. That might be the worse thing for the Crimson Tide, particularly its fans, which would probably rather its team avoid a chance at being upset in the SEC title game.  

Georgia: The Bulldogs (9-2, 7-1 SEC) have clinched a spot in the SEC title game. A win, whether it’s against LSU, Alabama or Arkansas, would earn Georgia a BCS Bowl berth. Considering the Bulldogs started the season 0-2, this is a great run. A loss would knock the Bulldogs out of BCS contention.

Houston: The Cougars (11-0, 7-0 C-USA) will continue to get the praise in this segment as long as they keep winning. The BCS and the poles agreed as the Cougars were ranked No.8 in this week’s BCS standings. We understand that Conference USA isn’t exactly of league of world-beaters, but Houston is averaging 618.3 yards per game and has scored 35 or more points in every game this season. Would they be able to do that every week in the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, PAC-12, ACC or even the Big East? No. But the offense is potent and there is no reason to believe star QB Case Keenum couldn’t lead the Cougars to at least 21 to 24 points per game in any of those leagues.

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights (8-3, 4-2 Big East) are alive and kicking and poised for a chance at a BCS Bowl berth. Not too long ago, people were nailing down the Rutgers coffin after consecutive losses to Louisville and West Virginia. The Scarlet Knights have run off three straight since those losses, including Saturday’s impressive 20-3 win over Cincinnati. They aren’t close to being out of the woods, though, as a date at Connecticut awaits the Scarlet Knights on Saturday. There is also the matter of Louisville and West Virginia. Rutgers needs both teams to lose. The Mountaineers still have Pittsburgh and South Florida, while the Cardinals are at South Florida on Friday night. You better believe the Rutgers players and coaches will be tuned in to that game.

The SEC: With three teams –LSU, Alabama, Arkansas– among the top three in the BCS standings, can anyone in the south ask for anything more? The only scenario where at least one SEC isn’t in the national title game is if LSU loses to Arkansas, Alabama losses to Auburn and then Arkansas loses to Georgia in the SEC title game. Hey, you never know these days.

Virginia: Winning at Florida State puts Virginia (8-3, 5-2 ACC) on a collision course with Virginia Tech on Saturday. The winner gets the ACC Coastal Division title and a berth in the conference championship game. We all know what’s at stake, a BCS big-money bowl berth. It’s a true testament to Virginia’s fortitude and resiliency. The Cavaliers started the season 2-2, including a tough 28-14 home loss to North Carolina State on October 22.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies (10-1, 6-1 ACC) have a shot at more than just the ACC Coastal Division championship after holding off North Carolina, 24-21. If Virginia Tech can win at Virginia on Saturday and then against Clemson in the conference championship game, it has an outside shot at the national championship game. That’s not a misprint. The Hokies are ranked fifth in the latest BCS poll. With Oklahoma, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State losing last Saturday, it opened the door for the Huskies. Don’t forget, Arkansas still has to play LSU, while Alabama is at Auburn. Neither of those games are etched in stone in any team’s favor.

LOSERS

Clemson: The Tigers killed any chance they had at an at-large BCS bid after losing to hapless NC State, 37-13. Although NC State is improving, Clemson (9-2, 6-2 ACC) was 8-0 at one point this season. The one saving grace is that Clemson has already wrapped up the ACC Atlantic Division title and will face Virginia Tech in the championship game. Truth be told, with Oregon, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State losing, the Tigers had an outside shot at a No.2 ranking if they could’ve run the table.

Oklahoma: No one took more of a hit than the Sooners (8-2, 5-2 Big 12). Not only did Oklahoma jeopardize its chance at winning the Big 12, but it could be squeezed out of the BCS all together. Yes, the Sooners, a favorite by many to win the national championship, might not even play in a major bowl game. Granted Baylor has a talented offense, but the Sooners were 20-0 against the Bears heading into that contest. Saturday’s home game verses Iowa State is an absolute must-win for the Sooners. All loss assures they will be out of the BCS Bowl picture.

Oklahoma State: Losing to Iowa State on Friday night through cold water Oklahoma State’s battle with Oklahoma on December 3. As of right now, neither team is in the mix for the national championship. That doesn’t mean things can’t change, though. No.2 Alabama still plays at Auburn in its regular-season finale, while LSU still has Arkansas and a possible date in the SEC championship game. For now, the Cowboys (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) will have to settle for winning the Big 12 and earning an automatic bid to a BCS Bowl. But losses by any of those SEC teams could open the door for the Cowboys.

Oregon: The Ducks (9-2, 7-1 PAC-12), thanks to its win over Stanford, are still in control of the PAC-12 North. A home win vs. Oregon State on Saturday would clinch a spot in the PAC-12 championship game. As for the national championship, Oregon’s two losses all but eliminates it from contention.

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