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College Football Season

Alabama Wins In Final Minute; Notre Dame Needs 3 OT's

Top 4 Teams In BCS and CCR Top 124 remain undefeated

by Dave Congrove
November 4, 2012

Notre Dame needed Touchdown Jesus; Alabama needed its own kind of miracle. Both had their prayers answered.

With the win, Notre Dame is 9-0 for the first time since 1993 when the Irish got to 10-0 before losing at home to Boston College in the final regular season game. Ironically, their game next Saturday is at Boston College.

With the loss, LSU's 22-game home winning streak came to an end, a week after Wisconsin's 21-game home winning streak went out the window last week.

Alabama's victory puts it one conference win away from clinching the SEC West and a spot in the conference title game. The Tide did neither on their way to the national championship last year which they won in a rematch with LSU.

Kansas State trailed 7-0 at early at home to Oklahoma State, but then scored 24 of the next 27 points and eventually won a 44-30 decision. The win put the Wildcats at 9-0 for the first time since 1999. Leading Heisman candidate QB Collin Klein was injured and removed in the 3rd quarter, but no information was forthcoming on the nature of the injury or its severity.

Oregon outgunned USC 62-51 at the Coliseum in Los Angeles as Kenjon Barner went Playstation on the Trojans, racking up 321 yards rushing and 5 TD's while the Ducks amassed 730 total yards. The Trojans suffered their third loss of the season and relinquished control of first-place in the PAC-12 South to rival UCLA which thumped Arizona 66-10 just 17 miles up the road at the Rose Bowl. USC visits the Bruins on November 17.

Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon were ranked 1-through-4 in last week's BCS Standings. Those schools were in nearly the same order in the Congrove Computer Rankings which only had Notre Dame and Oregon reversed.

Alabama was trailing 17-14 with 1:34 to play when it got the ball back at its own 28 following a missed 45-yard field goal attempt by the Tigers. I was personally surprised that Les Miles didn't elect to pin Alabama deep with a pooch punt instead of opting for the field goal which would have been of record length for Drew Alleman. Even more surprising was LSU's soft defense on the ensuing drive after holding Alabama to 45 yards on its five previous drives of the second half. As a result, Nick Saban's crew needed just 5 plays to cover 72 yards and go ahead 17-14 on an A.J. McCarron screen pass to T.J. Yeldon that covered the last 28 yards.

Notre Dame appeared down for the count in its battle with Pittsburgh, trailing the 20.14-point computer underdogs 20-6 going into the 4th quarter. The Irish were still behind 20-12 after a failed 2-point conversion following a score with 13:40 to play, and it looked even more dire when Everett Golson was intercepted in the endzone with 4:30 left. But Notre Dame got the ball back at mid-field after a 3-and-out and scored in just two pass plays with Golson running in the 2-point conversion to gain a 20-20 tie. The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, but it looked bad again for Notre Dame in the second after Cierre Wood fumbled while trying to dive into the endzone. However, the Irish gained new life when Kevin Harper missed what would have been Pitt's game-winning 33-yard field goal wide right. In the third overtime, Harper redeemed himself with a 44-yard make, but it wouldn't hold up as Golson scored on a quarterback sneak on Notre Dame's third OT possession and escaped with the 29-26 win.

Elsewhere, Army had already lost 7 games and had nothing left to play for except the coveted Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. The Black Knights responded by shutting down Air Force 41-21, dropping the Falcons to 0-2 versus the other academies this year. Combined with the overtime loss at home to Navy on October 6, Air Force now surrenders its' 2-year hold on the trophy. The Falcons hadn't lost to Army and Navy in the same year since 2005. Army (2-7) will have the chance to win the C-I-C Trophy for the first time since 1996 when the Black Knights renew their annual rivalry with Navy on December 8 in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, Navy improved to 6-3 and became bowl eligible with its 5th straight win as it knocked off FAU 24-17. The Midshipmen became the first team to fill a bowl slot as they were guaranteed a place in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl by winning at least 6 games. It is quite a turnaround after Navy began the season 1-3 with the only win coming against FCS member VMI and was outscored by a combined 96-17 in the three losses to Notre Dame, Penn State and San Jose State.

In other conference races, Miami took the upper hand in the ACC South with Thursday's 30-12 home win over Virginia Tech, its first vs. the Hokies in 4 years. With the loss, Virginia Tech lost any hope of extending 8-year run of 10-win seasons and finds its 19-year bowl run also in jeopardy. Interestingly, it has since been reported that Miami may opt out of the ACC title game and a bowl appearance to serve as a pre-emptive strike in the NCAA's ongoing investigation into improper booster-player contact.

Undefeated Louisville continues to lead the Big East and its visit to Rutgers on November 29 is looking even more like it will serve as a de facto conference title game. The Cards smashed Temple 45-17 Saturday while the Scarlet Knights were idle.

Michigan State's fall-from-ahead 28-24 home loss to Nebraska has given the 'Huskers a near-guarantee of winning the Legends division in the Big Ten. Though tied with Michigan at 4-1 in conference play, Nebraska owns the head-to-head tie-breaker. In Saturday's game, Nebraska trailed the Spartans 24-14 until scoring the games' final 14 points. The go-ahead TD came with just 6 seconds left on Taylor Martinez' 5-yard pass to Jamal Turner. The winning play was set up by an interference call on an incomplete pass that otherwise would have left Nebraska attempting a game-tying field goal.

Kansas State essentially controls the Big 12 by 2 games since Oklahoma is the only team within a single loss of the Wildcats and that loss came against KSU. But with three conference games left and the unknown availability of Klein to play could tighten this race up down the stretch.

UCF (7-2, 5-0) has solid control of CUSA's East division, essentially leading East Carolina by 2 games since it owns the head-sup tie-breaker. Tulsa is also 7-2, 5-0 and leads the West division by two games over Houston and SMU, but the Golden Hurricane must travel to Houston and SMU and play UCF at home in their last three games. Aside from Tulsa, UCF's remaining opponents are UTEP and UAB.

Kent State leads the MAC East by a game over Ohio and Bowling Green, its last two opponents of the season after facing Miami (Ohio) next week. Northern Illinois and Toledo are undefeated in MAC play and headed toward a showdown in Dekalb on November 14.

The Mountain West became considerably more complicated when San Diego State beat Boise State 21-19 to hand the Broncos just their second home conference loss since 1998. SDSU and Fresno State are both 7-3, 5-1 while Boise State is 7-2, 4-1 and Air Force is 5-4, 4-1. Air Force would already appear to be the weakest link and the Falcons have to visit San Diego State and Fresno State down the stretch. Boise State has already beaten Fresno State and faces two of the bottom three teams in the conference - Hawaii and Colorado State - before closing out the season at Nevada. Fresno State owns a win over SDSU and has games remaining with Nevada and Air Force. The Aztecs only have Air Force and Wyoming remaining on the schedule and are virtually assured to end the season with only the one conference loss to Fresno State. The most-likely scenario here is that San Diego State wins out and Fresno State loses at Nevada to leave the title to the Aztecs.

Right now, it appears that the PAC-12 North is headed toward an all-Oregon showdown at Oregon State while the aforementioned USC-UCLA battle would decide the South. Arizona State could get in the way with an upset win at USC next week. A lot could change next week if Arizona State gets the upset at USC, and Stanford downs the Beavers at home.

The SEC East is Georgia's to lose. The Bulldogs only need a win at lowly Auburn next week to secure a spot in the SEC title game. Alabama can secure the West division with a win versus Texas A&M next week in Tuscaloosa.

Upsets by Middle Tennessee over Western Kentucky on Friday, and Louisiana-Lafayette over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, forged a 3-way tie in the Sun Belt race between Arkansas State, UL-Monroe and MTSU.

The WAC's final season will come down to Utah State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State. The Aggies and Bulldogs meet in Ruston on November 17 and San Jose State hosts the Bulldogs on November 24. The Spartans are handicapped by their loss to Utah State on October 13.

One of the most, if not the most, shocking results from the weekend was Virginia beating N.C. State 33-6. It was UVa's first ACC win and came against the only team to beat Florida State. Wolfpack QB Mike Glennon threw 3 picks and lost a fumble while the team had 5 turnovers altogether and allowed 5 sacks.

Since beginning the season 5-0 and being ranked as high as No. 4 in the Coaches' Poll (No. 2 in the CCR Top 124), West Virginia has dropped three straight Big 12 games and has no chance of claiming the conference title. The Mountaineers still need one more win just to become bowl eligible and must visit Oklahoma State next week before entertaining Oklahoma.

Virginia Tech needs two wins in its last three games to become bowl eligible and salvage its 19-year bowl string. The Hokies host Florida State on Thursday night, then visit Boston College before wrapping up the regular season at home vs. Virginia.

At this point, only three ACC teams are bowl eligible. Clemson and FSU are 8-1 while Duke is 6-4.

At this point, none of the Big Ten's four bowl eligible teams have fewer than two losses. Nebraska and Northwestern are 7-2 while Michigan and Wisconsin are 6-3.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams are 89-10 (.899) on the year vs. FCS teams and are 727-65 (.918) in such games since 2003.

No such matchups took place this week.

This year, 101 FBS teams play a total of 108 games against FCS foes. UTSA is in its first year of transitioning from the FCS and plays 4 such schools. Cincinnati, Florida State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M each play two such games.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/29: Stony Brook 23, Army 3
9/15: Cal Poly 24, Wyoming 22
9/8: Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28
9/8: North Dakota State 22, Colorado State 7
9/8: Illinois State 31, Eastern Michigan 17
9/8: Northern Arizona 17, UNLV 14
9/1: Youngstown State 31, Pittsburgh 17
9/1: Tennessee-Martin 20, Memphis 17
8/30: McNeese State 27, Middle Tennessee 21
8/30: Eastern Washington 20, Idaho 3

Alabama - Won 13 straight overall. Won 21-17 at LSU on Saturday.

Oregon - Won 12 straight overall and 14 straight road games. Won 62-51 at USC on Saturday.

Northern Illinois - Won 14 straight conference games (MAC), 20 straight home games and 9 straight overall. Won 63-0 vs. UMass on Saturday.

LSU - Saw it's 22-game home winning streak snapped. Lost 21-17 vs. Alabama on Saturday. The Tigers have won 41 straight nonconference games.

Michigan - won 12 straight home games (2nd-longest in nation). Won 35-13 at Minnesota on Saturday.

Southern Miss - Lost 9 straight overall. Lost 27-19 vs. UAB on Saturday.

Akron - Lost 25 straight road games, 20 straight FBS games and 14 straight conference games (MAC). Lost 35-24 at Kent State on Saturday.

Kansas - Lost 18 straight FBS games, 18 straight conference games and 17 straight road games. Lost 41-14 at Baylor on Saturday.

UNLV - Lost 20 straight road games. Won 35-7 at home vs. New Mexico on Saturday.

28 teams have a new college football coach in the FBS ranks this season. Last season saw 24 new head coaches, 10 of whom matched or exceeded the W-L record of their predecessors' final season.

Here are this week's games for each new head coach:

Team Coach Game
Akron Terry Bowden (1-9) Lost 35-24 Saturday at Kent State
Arizona Rich Rodriguez (5-4) Lost 66-10 Saturday at UCLA
Arizona State Todd Graham (5-4) Lost 36-26 Saturday at Oregon State
Arkansas John L. Smith (4-5) Won 19-15 Saturday vs. Tulsa
Arkansas State Gus Malzahn (6-3) Won 37-19 Saturday at North Texas
Colorado State Jim McElwain (2-7) Lost 45-31 Saturday at Wyoming
FAU Carl Pellini (2-7) Lost 24-17 Saturday at Navy
Fresno State Tim DeRuyter (7-3) Won 45-10 Saturday vs. Hawaii
Hawaii Norm Chow (1-7) Lost 45-10 Saturday at Fresno State
Houston Tony Levine (4-5) Lost 48-28 Saturday at East Carolina
Illinois Tim Beckman (2-7) Lost 52-22 Saturday at Ohio State
Kansas Charlie Weis (1-8) Lost 41-14 Saturday at Baylor
Massachusetts Charley Molnar (0-9) Lost 63-0 Saturday at Northern Illinois
Memphis Justin Fuente (1-8) Lost 38-28 Saturday at Marshall
Mississippi Hugh Freeze (5-4) Lost 37-10 Saturday at Georgia
New Mexico Bob Davie (4-6) Lost 35-7 Saturday at UNLV
North Carolina Larry Fedora (6-3) Idle. Next game 11/10 vs. Georgia Tech
Ohio State Urban Meyer (10-0) Won 52-22 Saturday vs. Illinois
Penn State Bill O'Brien (6-3) Won 34-9 Saturday at Purdue
Pittsburgh Paul Chryst (4-5) Lost 29-26 in 3 OT's Saturday at Notre Dame
Rutgers Kyle Flood (7-1) Idle. Next game 11/10 vs. Army
Southern Miss Ellis Johnson (0-9) Lost 27-19 Saturday vs. UAB
Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin (7-2) Won 38-13 Saturday at Mississippi State
Toledo Matt Campbell (8-1) Idle. Next game 11/6 vs. Ball State
Tulane Curtis Johnson (2-7) Lost 49-47 Saturday vs. Rice
UAB Garrick McGee (2-7) Won 27-19 Saturday at Southern Miss
UCLA Jim Mora (7-2) Won 66-10 Saturday vs. Arizona
Washington State Mike Leach (2-7) Lost 49-6 Saturday at Utah


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