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Upsets, Overtimes Make It A Super Saturday

by Dave Congrove
November 29, 2009

In addition to a handful of rivalry upsets and a trio of overtime finishes, Saturday's action put the finishing pieces of the puzzle in place for next weekend's conference title games.

ACC: Clemson vs. Georgia Tech
Big 12: Nebraska vs. Texas
CUSA: Houston at East Carolina
MAC: Ohio vs. Central Michigan
SEC: Florida vs. Alabama

East Carolina hosted Southern Miss with the the CUSA East division title on the line and the Pirates prevailed 25-20. Houston burned Rice 73-14 to claim the west division title. East Carolina will host the conference championship game as it owns the better conference record.

Saturday's action produced several rivalry upsets.

Clemson's C.J. Spiller returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, but South Carolina recovered to upset its state rival 34-17 in Columbia.

Mississippi State upset Ole Miss 41-27 in the Egg Bowl as the Bulldogs posted their highest point total in the rivalry since a 41-17 victory in 1917. Rebel QB Jevan Snead threw 3 TD passes, but was also picked off 3 times and one was returned for a 4th quarter touchdown that made it 41-20.

N.C. State remained perfect over North Carolina under Tom O'Brien (3-0) with a 28-27 upset of the Tar Heels. It was just the second win in the last eight games for the Wolfpack.

It doesn't fit under the "rivalry" heading, but Hawaii's 24-17 win over Navy was a certifiable upset. It also keeps the Warriors' hopes alive of obtaining bowl eligibility with a victory at home next week over Wisconsin.

Saturday also produced some dramatic finishes.

Stanford scored the final 15 points of the game to rally past Notre Dame 45-38.

Arkansas missed a 36-yard field goal to force a second overtime and LSU prevailed 33-30. The Bayou Bengals needed a 41-yard FG with 4 seconds left to tie the game after Arkansas had gone ahead 30-27 on a 14-yard 4th-down TD pass with 1:18 left in regulation.

Tennessee beat Kentucky for the 25th straight time - the longest streak of one team over another. But the Vols needed overtime for the 26-20 win after the Wildcats forced overtime with a 23-yard field goal with 33 seconds left.

Missouri's 27-yard field goal as time expired beat Kansas 41-39 and prevented the Jayhawks from becoming bowl eligible.

A 32-yard field goal as time expired lifted Arizona past Arizona State 20-17.

BYU beat Utah 26-23 in overtime. The Utes forced extra action when they rallied from a 20-6 deficit and tied the game at 20-20 on a 40-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in regulation.

Georgia Tech dropped a fourth-down pass inside the Georgia 35-yard line with 1:22 left to play that would have kept its drive alive and the Bulldogs beat the Yellow Jackets 30-24.

And of course, the day wouldn't be complete without some substantial routs.

TCU completed its regular season undefeated with a 51-10 thumping of Wyoming and made its Mountain West title an outright one.

Tim Tebow put on a show in his last game in front of the home folks. Tebow accounted for all 5 Gator scores as he threw for 221 and 3 TD's and ran for 86 yards and 2 TD's.

Oklahoma has been pathetic on the road all year, but monster at home. Too bad for Oklahoma State that the Bedlam Rivalry was played in Norman as Oklahoma rolled 27-0.

Sensational redshirt freshman RB Ryan Williams ran for 182 yards and had his second 4-TD performance in-a-row in a 42-13 Virginia Tech rout of Virginia. Williams ran his season totals to 1,537 yards and 19 TD's.

BAD BLOOD:
It seems to be abundant in the PAC-10. A couple of weeks ago, it was Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh opting to go for a 2-point conversion after a touchdown made it 48-21 with under 7 minutes left in its game against USC. Saturday night, it was USC throwing a 48-yard touchdown bomb with under a minute left in the game against UCLA when it was already ahead 21-7. The Trojans won 28-7 but a riot nearly ensued after the play when UCLA players marched more than halfway across the field toward the USC bench. Cooler heads ultimately prevailed and the game ended without incident. Regarding the play call, USC head coach Pete Carroll offered that it was justified since Bruins' head coach Rick Neuheisel was still calling time outs and trying to get the ball back, so Carroll wanted to put the game away for good. Frankly, I don't have a problem with that.

FRIDAY:
Greg McElroy's 4-yard touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch with 1:24 left to play lifted Alabama past Auburn 26-21 on Friday. The final score was Alabama's only lead as it fell behind early 14-0 as the Tigers found paydirt on their first two possessions. After the Crimson Tide tied the game with a pair of 2nd quarter scores to make it 14-14 at halftime, Auburn went back ahead 21-14 in the 3rd quarter. A pair of Leigh Tiffin field goals (27, 31) made it 21-20 entering the final period. Auburn drove to the Tide 37 in the final seconds but a desperation heave on the game's final play was batted away in the endzone. The Tigers finish the season 7-5 while the Tide completed their second consecutive unbeaten regular season at 12-0.

Also on Friday, Cincinnati stayed perfect (11-0) with a 49-36 home win over Illinois as Tony Pike threw 6 TD passes. The final score isn't emblematic of the game which saw the Bearcats open a 28-7 lead in the 2nd quarter and lead 42-23 through three quarters. After the Illini cut the gap to 42-30, Cincinnati answered to make it 49-30 and put the game away. Illinois falls to 3-8 and head coach Ron Zook's record drops to 8-15 over the last two season after leading the Illini to the Rose Bowl in 2007. The Bearcats can finish the season undefeated with a win at Pitt next Saturday.

Pitt will go into that game on a down note after losing 19-16 at West Virginia on a 43-yard field goal as time expired. It was Tyler Bitancurt's fourth field goal of the day for the Mountaineers who gained some measure of revenge from Pitt's 13-9 upset win two years ago that knocked West Virginia out of the national championship game. However, even a one-loss Pitt had no shot at the national championship this year, and a Pitt win over Cincinnati next week would still deliver a conference title and automatic BCS bowl berth. The game featured the top two running backs in the league,a nd two of the best in the nation. Pitt's Dion Lewis gained 147 yards on 25 carries, and WVU's Noel Devine rushed for 136 yards and a TD on 18 carries.

Boise State improved to 12-0 and clinched the WAC's top bowl position with a 44-33 win over Nevada. The Broncos can capture the outright conference title with a home win over New Mexico State next week.

In an early Friday game, Ohio pulled off a mild 35-17 upset of Temple to capture the MAC East title and the right to play Central Michigan in the conference championship game on Friday, December 4 at Ford Field in Detroit. Temple and Ohio each finished the season 9-3 overall, 7-1 in the conference. The Owls entered the contest riding a 9-game winning streak. The Bobcats' win was their 4th straight and 7th in their last 8 games.

THANKSGIVING DAY GAME NO TURKEY:
Thanksgiving Day was capped with the lone college football game on Thursday and it was anything but a turkey as Texas fought off rival Texas A&M 49-39 in College Station. It was the highest combined point total in the 116-year history of the series.

The Aggies tore apart Texas' top-ranked rushing defense for 188 yards, well over the 50.08 average that the Longhorns had allowed in their previous 11 games. And Texas A&M managed to tag Texas for 343 yards through the air.

The Aggies had their own defensive problem and his name was Colt McCoy. The Heisman Trophy candidate threw for 304 yards and 4 TD's and ran for a career-high 175 yards and a 47-yard 4th quarter touchdown.

Jerrod Johnson, McCoy's counterpart on A&M, threw for 342 yards and matched McCoy's 4 TD tosses. Johnson added 96 yards on the ground.

In all, McCoy generated 479 yards of total offense and Johnson had 438. The two teams combined for 1,128 yards.

The Aggies led just once and that was after the opening drive. Texas scored the next 14 points to go up 14-7. Texas A&M kept fighting back and tied the game at 14-14 and 21-21. The Longhorns took a 28-21 halftime lead and jumped ahead 35-21 in the 3rd quarter after recovering an Aggies' fumble at the Texas 42-yard line. That proved costly as the Ags had just stopped Texas on a 4th down conversion attempt two plays earlier.

On its ensuing possession, Texas A&M drove to the Texas 13-yard line before an endzone interception ended the scoring threat. The Aggies' next series stalled at the Texas 14 and resulted in a field goal to make it 35-24.

After a 3-and-out, Texas A&M tightened the score to 35-32 on a 16-yard TD run and 2-pt. conversion. But McCoy needed just 5 plays to cap a 78-yard drive with a 47-yard TD pass to make it 42-32.

Ironically, the defining moment of the game didn't involve either quarterback. Instead, that moment belonged to Marquise Goodwin who tallied the final points of the game on a 95-yard kickoff return after the Aggies had closed to within 42-39 on Jeff Fuller's third TD catch with 7:10 left to play.

Texas A&M's last gasp ended when a 23-yard field goal from the right hash mark hung inches outside the uprights with 3:26 to play and Texas ran out the clock.

Texas A&M had won two straight games in the series after dropping back-to-back confrontations in 2006 and 2007, and the Longhorns are 12-2 in the last 14 meetings with the Aggies.

The Longhorns finished the regular season at 12-0 and will head to Arlington, Texas next week to face Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship. The Longhorns will enter that contest on a 16-game winning streak as they seek their first league title since 2005 when they won the national championship with Vince Young at quarterback.

Texas A&M concluded Mike Sherman's second season at 6-6, just 2 games better than last year's squad. However, the Aggies are assured of a bowl bid and will either face Navy in the Texas Bowl or a Southeastern Conference team in the Independence Bowl.

TUESDAY:
The college football week kicked off Tuesday night with Ball State's 22-17 win at Western Michigan. The Broncos needed a win to become bowl eligible, but finished 5-7 instead. It was just the second win of the year for the Cardinals which finished 2-10.

AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS WHY YOU DON"T GAMBLE ON SPORTS:
Colorado scored a meaningless TD on a 56-yard pass on the final play of the game and still lost 28-20. But because the typical sportsbook line was Nebraska (-10), that final play ripped a win from the hands of those who took the 'Huskers and gave it to those who had the Buffs.

Nevada also scored a meaningless touchdown with under 2 minutes left to cut Boise State's 18-point lead to 11 in a 44-33 loss. The line favored the Broncos by 14.

If you had Colorado State locked-in early when the Rams were favored by 1-1.5, you lost it when Wyoming kicked the game-winning field goal with 1:27 to play.

POOR, POOR MEMPHIS:
Tulsa scored the tying touchdown with 30 seconds left, then beat Memphis 33-30 in overtime to hand the Tigers (2-10) their 5th straight loss. It was the final game for Tommy West as head coach who was fired back on November 9. The win snapped a 6-game losing streak for Tulsa which finished a disappointing 5-7 season after winning 4 of its first 5 games.

TALK ABOUT LAST-MINUTE BOWL ELIGIBILITY:
Wyoming had just 1:27 left in its season when Ian Watts kicked a 33-yard field goal to beat Colorado State 17-16 and become bowl eligible at 6-6. As a result, the Cowboys will almost surely be headed to the New Mexico Bowl.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
6 teams still remain undefeated. Alabama (12-0), Texas (12-0), Florida (12-0) and TCU (12-0) have completed their regular seasons. Boise State (12-0) and Cincinnati (11-0) play their final regular season games next week. The computer's preseason forecast projected 6 undefeated teams, though its selections were Alabama, Florida, Michigan State, OKlahoma, USC and Utah.

WINLESS TEAMS:
Eastern Michigan finished the year at 0-12 with its loss to Akron on Friday. Western Kentucky fell to 0-11 with a 29-23 loss at FAU and closes the season at home next Thursday against Arkansas State. The computer's preseason forecast projected Miami (Ohio) as the only winless team, but the RedHawks went 1-11. Eastern Michigan was projected to 2-10 and Western Kentucky was forecasted to go 1-11.

FBS vs. FCS:
No such games remain on this season's schedule. FBS teams went 89-5 vs. FCS teams this year (.947), and are now 464-42 (.917) since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/19: Central Arkansas 28, Western Kentucky 7
9/12:
New Hampshire 23, Ball State 16. New Hampshire also has wins at Army in 2008 (28-10), Marshall in 2007 (48-35), and Northwestern in 2006 (34-17)
9/5: Richmond 24, Duke 16; William & Mary 26, Virginia 14
9/3: Villanova 27, Temple 24

This year, 87 FBS teams played a total of 94 games against FCS foes. Duke, Kansas State, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rutgers and USF each played two FCS teams.

STREAKS:
Florida has 22 straight victories. The Gators won 37-10 vs. Florida State on Saturday.

Texas has 16 straight victories. The Longhorns won 49-39 at Texas A&M on Thursday.

TCU has 14 straight victories. The Horned Frogs won 51-10 vs. New Mexico on Saturday.

Alabama has 12 straight wins overall and 24 straight regular season wins. The Tide won 26-21 at Auburn on Friday.

Boise State has streaks of 12 straight wins overall, 24 consecutive regular season wins, 25 consecutive home wins, 55 consecutive regular season home wins, and 41 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (35-0). The Broncos' last home loss to a conference foe occurred in 1998 when they were a member of the Big West and fell to Idaho in the final regular season game. The Broncos are 4-1 in their last five matches against BCS conference schools. The Broncos won 44-33 vs. Nevada on Friday.

Cincinnati has 11 straight wins overall and 17 straight regular season wins. The Bearcats won 49-36 vs. Illinois on Friday.

Temple's 9-game winning streak ended with a 35-17 loss at Ohio on Friday.

Oklahoma has 29 straight home victories. The Sooners won 27-0 vs. Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Utah has 17 straight home wins. The Utes lost 26-23 in overtime at BYU on Saturday.

Western Kentucky has lost 19 straight overall and 24 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers lost 29-23 at FAU on Saturday.

Eastern Michigan has lost 12 straight overall. The Eagles fell 28-21 at Akron on Friday.

NEW COACHES:
There are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. 21 have secured their first victory, and those same 21 have also defeated a FBS school. Only Eastern Michigan remains winless.

TEAM W-L COACH THIS WEEK
Army 5-6 Rich Ellerson 12/12, vs. Navy (at Philadelphia)
Auburn 7-5 Gene Chizik Lost 26-21 vs. Alabama
Ball State 2-10 Stan Parrish Won 22-17 at Western Michigan
Boston College 8-4 Frank Spaziani Won 19-17 at Maryland
Bowling Green 7-5 Dave Clawson Won 38-24 vs. Toledo
*-Clemson 8-4 Dabo Swinney Lost 34-17 at South Carolina
Eastern Michigan 0-12 Ron English Lost 28-21 at Akron
Iowa State 6-6 Paul Rhoads Regular Season Complete
Kansas State 6-6 Bill Snyder Season Complete
Miami (O.) 1-11 Michael Haywood Season Complete
Mississippi State 5-7 Dan Mullen Won 41-27 vs. Mississippi
New Mexico 1-11 Mike Locksley Lost 51-10 at TCU
New Mexico State 3-9 DeWayne Walker Lost 13-10 at San Jose State
Oregon 9-2 Chip Kelly Idle
Purdue 5-7 Danny Hope Season Complete
San Diego State 4-8 Brady Hoke Lost 28-24 at UNLV
Syracuse 4-8 Doug Marrone Lost 56-31 at Connecticut
Tennessee 7-5 Lane Kiffin Won 26-20 in OT at Kentucky
Toledo 5-7 Tim Beckman Lost 38-24 at Bowling Green
Utah State 4-8 Gary Andersen Won 52-49 at Idaho
Washington 4-7 Steve Sarkisian Won 30-0 vs. Washington State
Wyoming 6-6 Dave Christensen Won 17-16 at Colorado State
*-Dabo Swinney took over halfway through last season when Tommy Bowden stepped down after a 3-3 start. Swinney was 4-3 over the last 7 games of the season.