It'll take a great college football Saturday to top a very good Friday

It'll take a great college football Saturday to top a very good Friday
Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler falls to one knee after the Thundering Herd lost their first game of the season, a 67-66 overtime thriller against Western Kentucky on Friday. (Sholten Singer / Associated Press)

OK, Saturday, take your best shot, because the Friday after Thanksgiving set a high bar.

It started with Western Kentucky handing Marshall its first defeat by a basketball score of 67-66.

The Hilltoppers won in overtime when they gambled on, and converted, a two-point conversion attempt.

Marshall, which plays a schedule weaker than camomile tea, had worked weeks to prove it belonged in the College Football Playoff ranking.


The Thundering Herd finally checked in at No. 24 this week, and now will check out.

The game produced 133 points, 74 first downs, 168 plays, 1,446 yards and a few snickers.

Florida State remains the lone undefeated major player at 11-0, even if that's only good enough for third place in the ranking.

Attentions then turned to the Midwest, where Missouri scored 15 fourth-quarter points to defeat Arkansas, 21-14, and clinch the Southeastern Conference East Division.

It was an esophageal blow to Georgia, which defeated Missouri, 34-0, but needed a Tigers loss to win the division. It was also a punch to the SEC psyche as the proud conference forwards a scarred two-loss team into next week's title game in Atlanta.

Somewhere, in Bloomington, Ind., Indiana fans clanked champagne classes to celebrate one of this season's most unusual developments. Indiana, 0-7 in Big Ten Conference play, won at Missouri, on Sept. 20.

Missouri winning the East, for the second straight year, complicates the SEC playoff picture.

Ranked a distant No. 17, the Tigers have no reasonable chance of earning a spot in the four-team playoff. However, Missouri could probably keep the SEC out of the playoff with a win over the West winner, either No. 1 Alabama or No. 4 Mississippi State.

Out west, Arizona claimed the Pac-12 South Division because UCLA could not.

Arizona edged Arizona State, 42-35, in a thrilling Territorial Cup to earn a berth in next week's Pac-12 title game against Oregon.

Instead of UCLA getting a chance to avenge its earlier home loss to Oregon, Oregon now gets a chance to avenge its earlier home loss to Arizona.

Add to death and taxes one more thing you can always count on: UCLA football coming up short in the first year of a new playoff system.

UCLA would have played for the first BCS title in 1998 had the Bruins made one tackle in Miami the first week of December.

This season, closing wins over Stanford and Oregon likely would have earned UCLA a spot in the four-team playoff. Instead, UCLA lost 31-10, its seventh straight defeat to a Stanford program that should send a limousine to make sure the Bruins show up on time.

USC fans delighting in UCLA's misery were quickly reminded the Trojans would have won the South had they knocked down a Hail Mary pass against Arizona State.

Oh well, bring on Notre Dame.

Saturday gets its chance to match Friday's action with a lineup of pivotal games with playoff implications.

Two games in the SEC West race, at Oxford, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., will determine the division champion. Alabama clinches if it defeats Auburn in the Iron Bowl, or Mississippi State loses to Mississippi in the Egg Bowl. Mississippi State claims the West if it wins and Alabama loses.

The SEC disaster scenario is Alabama and Mississippi State both losing, which would cement an SEC title game pairing two-loss Alabama and two-loss Missouri.

Two other games of note:

•No. 3 Florida State hosts Florida in a game the Seminoles need to stay in the playoff race and halt some of the slow-leak momentum loss they've suffered in the eyes of some selection committee members.

•No. 2 Oregon travels to Oregon State for the 118th Civil War game. The Ducks have already claimed the Pac-12 North but need the win to stay in the national title race. Arizona now roots for Oregon to beat Oregon State to improve the Wildcats' playoff chances should they pull off a second win over the Ducks.

Twitter: @DufresneLATimes