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College Football Season

Unbelievable! Auburn Wins On Missed FG Return

Missouri, Duke, Utah State, Rice clinch division titles

by Dave Congrove
December 1, 2013

Alabama loses the Iron Bowl 34-28 to Auburn on a 109-yard return of a missed 57-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game. The kick came after officials ruled that 1 more second should be left on the clock following a 24-yard run by T.J. Yeldon to the Auburn 38. Adam Griffith's kick came up about 3 yards shorts and slightly wide right. Chris Davis caught it near the end line and immediately brought it out, running toward the left sideline and nearly stepping out of bounds before finding clear sailing to the end zone.

Conference Title Games
ACC Florida State vs. Duke (at Charlotte)
Big Ten Michigan State vs. Ohio State (at Indianapolis)
CUSA Marshall vs. Rice (at site TBD by BCS Rankings)
MAC Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois (at Detroit)
MWC Utah State at Fresno State
PAC-12 Stanford at Arizona State
SEC Missouri vs. Auburn (at Atlanta)

Auburn improved to 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the SEC after being projected in the preseason by the Congrove Computer Rankings to repeat last year's dismal mark of 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC. Auburn was a consensus 6th-place pick by the major national season previews and the SEC media picked the Tigers to finish 5th.

Auburn now advances to the SEC title game in Atlanta and will face Missouri, a 28-21 winner over Texas A&M on Saturday night.

Missouri won the Big 12 North in 2007, 2008 and 2010, but hasn't won a conference championship since 1969 (Big 8). Missouri was 5-7 a year ago in its first season in the SEC, and just 2-6 in conference play. Mizzou was tabbed by the Congrove Computer Rankings to go 6-6 this year and have a repeat 2-6 conference performance. The SEC media picked Missouri to finish 6th in the SEC East and was a consensus 5th-place choice by the major national season previews.

Duke beat North Carolina 27-25 to clinch the ACC Coastal division and will face Florida State in the title game. It's the first time the Coastal will be represented by a team other than Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech. Duke also secured its first 10-win season in the history of the program and owns consecutive wins over UNC for the first time since '88-'89 after winning just once from 1990-2011.

Arizona State earned the right to host Stanford in the PAC-12 Championship game by finishing 8-1 in-conference after a 58-21 rout of Arizona on Saturday night. Stanford dropped Notre Dame 27-20 for its 4th win over the Irish in the last 5 years. The Cardinal won just 6 of the first 23 meetings.

Utah State beat Wyoming 35-7 to clinch the MWC Mountain division and will play at Fresno State in the title game. Fresno State was dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten in a 62-52 loss at San Jose State. The Bulldogs' first loss of the season also means they have no chance at becoming a BCS bowl buster. The Spartans out gained Fresno State 736-646 and both teams' QB's threw for over 500 yards and 6 TD's. The combined 12 TD passes all came in a wild first half that saw SJSU lead 42-41 lead at the break. Fresno State had already clinched the MWC West division title.

Also on Friday, Bowling Green claimed the MAC East title with a 24-7 win over Buffalo in a de facto playoff game. The Falcons will meet unbeaten Northern Illinois in Detroit next Friday. The Huskies ran their record to 12-0 with a 33-14 win over Western Michigan on Tuesday.

Rice beat Tulane 17-13 to clinch the CUSA West division and will host Marshall in the title game. Marshall crushed East Carolina 59-28 on Friday in a de facto playoff game to capture the CUSA East crown. As both division winners finished 9-3 over-all and 7-1 in the conference, the final BCS Standings determined which team would serve as host.

Western Kentucky upended Arkansas State 34-31 on a 2-yard run with 10 seconds left. The loss by the Red Wolves guaranteed Louisiana-Lafayette no less than a 1st-place tie in the Sun Belt. Even after the Ragin' Cajuns lost 31-28 to Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night, they can win the outright conference title with a win at South Alabama next week. A South Alabama win would make the Jaguars 6-6 and mean that every Sun Belt team except winless Georgia State would be bowl eligible. Louisiana-Monroe became bowl eligible (6-6) with the win. Arkansas State had won the last two Sun Belt titles outright.

In other games on Saturday, Michigan failed on a 2-point conversion attempt with 32 seconds left and Ohio State prevailed 42-41 to remain unbeaten.

Georgia rallied from a 20-0 deficit to win 41-34 at Georgia Tech in double-overtime. The Bulldogs have won 5 straight in the series and 12 of the last 13.

South Carolina, aided by 6 Clemson turnovers, beat its state rival 31-17 for the 5th straight time.

Virginia Tech won 16-6 at Virginia. The Hokies have won 10 straight in the series and 14 of the last 15.

UCLA beat USC 35-14 for its first back-to-back wins in the series since '97-'98. It was also UCLA's first win at USC since 1997 and just its third win in the series in the last 15 meetings. It was their largest margin of victory in the series since 1970, and their largest margin ever at USC.

Tennessee beat Kentucky 27-14 for its 28th win in the last 29 meetings. The Wildcats finished a second consecutive winless season in the SEC with their last SEC win coming against Tennessee at the end of the 2011 season.

Southern Miss ended its 23-game losing streak to FBS teams with a 62-27 win at UAB.

Hawaii snapped an 11-game losing streak and avoided a winless season with a 49-42 win at home over Army. The Rainbow Warriors were playing with heavy hearts after learning that RB Willis Wilson had drowned at a Honolulu beach early Saturday morning. He spent three years at Washington before transferring to Hawaii where he had not played this season.

Northwestern ended a 7-game losing streak, and avoided a winless Big Ten campaign, with a 37-34 victory over Illinois.

Penn State upset Wisconsin 31-24 in Madison. The Badgers had been hoping to stay in position for an at-large BCS bowl bid.

Syracuse (6-6) became bowl eligible when a 8-yard TD pass with 6 seconds left in the season finale lifted the Orange over Boston College (7-5) 34-31.

West Virginia (4-8) completed its first losing since 2001 with a 52-44 triple-overtime setback at home to Iowa State. It was just the 3rd win of the year for the Cyclones. Dana Holgorsen's record as the head coach in Morgantown is now 21-17 after dropping from 10-3 in 2011 to 7-6 last year and falling off by another 3 wins this season.

College football had already delivered a fair share of excitement and surprises before Saturday's games even began.

On Friday night, UCF and Oregon earned last-minute saves. UCF edged 4-touchdown underdog USF 23-20 on a 52-yard TD pass from Blake Bortles to Breshad Perriman with 4:50 left to clinch a share of the American Athletic Conference title and stay on course for an automatic BCS bowl bid. The Ducks escaped Oregon State's upset bid with a 12-yard TD pass to Josh Huff from Marcus Mariota with 29 seconds left to provide a 36-35 win in the Civil War.

UCF clinches the BCS bid with a Cincinnati loss to Louisville on December 5th, OR a UCF win at SMU on December 7. If both Cincinnati and UCF win, the Golden Knights would still trump the Bearcats by virtue of having a higher BCS ranking. The BCS scenario only comes into play because UCF and Cincinnati did not play each other during the regular season. UCF's win eliminated Louisville from earning the automatic BCS bid and it's highly doubtful that the Cardinals could gain an at-large entry.

Earlier in the day, a 99-yard drive engineered by freshman backup QB Anthony Jennings lifted LSU over Arkansas 31-27 on a 49-yard TD pass to Travin Dural with 1:15 remaining. The Razorbacks (3-9) finished the year with 9 straight losses after starting 3-0 and had their first-ever winless SEC record (0-8) since joining the conference in 1992, and their first winless season in any conference since 1942.

Mississippi State became bowl eligible with a 17-10 overtime win over Ole Miss on Thanksgiving Day. Others who made the last-minute minimum standard are Central Michigan with a 42-10 win over Eastern Michigan;, FAU with a 21-6 win over FIU; and Troy with a 42-28 win over Texas State).

Nebraska's Bo Pelini may have taken a couple of giant steps toward getting axed on Friday. During a 38-17 loss to Iowa, Pelini was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty during an animated protest of an interference call and Iowa kicked a FG four plays later for a 17-10 lead. Later in the 3rd, he tried to convert a 4-and-3 from his own 32-yard line and Iowa went up 24-10 on the next play. At the post-game press conference, Pelini said, "If they want to fire me, go ahead." While I originally said that you shouldn't be surprised if they do, school officials on Saturday said they were not looking to replace him.

Akron gave Terry Bowden his first signature win with a 31-29 upset of Toledo. The Rockets had a chance to force overtime, but the Zips broke up a 2-point conversion pass and recovered the ensuing onside kick with 59 seconds left in the game. The victory lifted Akron's final record to 5-7 for its best mark since 2008, ending a string of 3 consecutive 1-11 campaigns.

The computer was 43-16 in picking the winner of heads-up FBS games, and 30-29 against the spread. So far this season, it has forecasted the winner of just under 79% of all games played while hitting 57.4% against the spread.'s Feature Picks writer Mike Mitchell is 170-23 with his selections after going 9-2 this week. He is 113-80 against the spread. The computer was 1-2 in outright upset projections (1-2 ATS) and is now 42-44 straight up and 54-32 against the spread with those games.

3 teams remain on the undefeated list - Florida State, Northern Illinois and Ohio State.

Georgia State and Miami (Ohio) were the only teams to end the season winless. Four teams entered the week with a goose egg in the win column before Southern Miss and Hawaii won their season finales on Saturday.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS schools were a collective 95-16 (.856) in FBS-FCS matches this season and are 831-81 (.911) since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/29: Towson 33, Connecticut 18
8/29: Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21
8/30: Samford 31, Georgia State 21
8/30: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
8/31: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
8/31: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
8/31: Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 18
8/31: McNeese State 53, USF 21
9/7: UT-Chattanooga 42, Georgia State 14
9/7: Maine 24, Massachusetts 14
9/7: Nicholls State 27, Western Michigan 23.
9/14: Fordham 30, Temple 29
9/14: Bethune-Cookman 34, FIU 13
9/21: Jacksonville State 32, Georgia State 26 (OT)
11/9: Old Dominion 59, Idaho 38
11/23: Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20

Eastern Washington, McNeese State and North Dakota State also had wins vs. FBS teams last year.

Originally, 106 FBS schools scheduled a total of 110 games against FCS foes this year. But Colorado later replaced a game it lost vs. Fresno State (due to flooding) with Charleston Southern. Thus, 106 FBS schools played a total of 111 games vs. FCS foes. The schedule change also made Colorado the 4th FBS team to face at least two such schools this year. The others are Clemson and Georgia Tech with 2 apiece while FBS newcomer Georgia State scheduled 3 FCS teams and lost to each of them.

Ohio State - Won 24 straight overall (FBS longest). Won 42-41 at Michigan on Saturday.

Northern Illinois - Won 26 straight at home (FBS longest), 25 straight vs. conference foes (FBS longest), and 15 straight road games (FBS longest). Won 33-14 vs. Western Michigan on Tuesday.

LSU - Won 45 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Won 31-27 vs. Arkansas on Friday.

Georgia State - Lost 16 straight (tied for FBS longest). Lost 38-17 vs. South Alabama on Saturday.

Miami (Ohio) - Lost 16 straight (tied for FBS longest). Lost 55-14 at Ball State on Friday.

Southern Miss - Ended 23-game losing streak to FBS teams with a 62-27 win at UAB on Saturday.

New Mexico State - Ended 22-game losing streak to FBS teams with a 24-16 win over Idaho on Saturday.

Kansas - Lost 24 straight road games (FBS longest). Lost 31-10 vs. Kansas State on Saturday.

Kentucky - Lost 16 straight conference games (FBS longest). Lost 27-14 vs. Tennessee on Saturday.


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