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College Football Season

BCS Championship: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

Defending champion Crimson Tide survive Georgia's upset bid

by Dave Congrove
December 1, 2012

Undefeated Notre Dame (12-0) will face BCS defending champion Alabama (12-1) in a national title contest for the ages on January 7 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. If you use just the major polls and the BCS as your benchmark, Alabama (11) and Notre Dame (12) have combined for 23 national championships. Ironically, the institutions claimed their first crowns just a year apart with Notre Dame's occurring in 1924, followed by the Crimson Tide's in 1925.

Of course, Alabama has had more recent success. Tide titles in 1992, 2009 and 2011 all came since the Fighting Irish last turned the trick in 1988. And Alabama has two titles in the BCS era (2009 and 2011) while Notre Dame will be making its first appearance since the system began in 1998.

Alabama won a 32-28 nail-biter in the SEC Championship game on Saturday, securing the win with a tackle at its own 5-yard line after a tipped pass was caught by Chris Conley and the clock ran out. It came just one play after a 26-yard pass from Aaron Murray to Arthur Lynch gave Georgia a 1st-and-10 at the 'Bama 8-yard line with 15 seconds left. With no time-outs remaining, the Bulldogs elected not to spike the ball and instead tried to catch the Alabama defense off-guard by rushing to get off a play. The lead changed hands six times and 'Bama faced a 21-10 deficit in the 3rd quarter after the 'Dawgs returned a blocked field goal attempt 55 yards for a touchdown.

Notre Dame had sealed its spot in the BCS title game a week earlier with a 22-13 win at USC.

Georgia finishes 11-2 and may lose its spot in a BCS bowl to an 11-1 Florida team, even though the Bulldogs gave the Gators their only loss.

Other conference championship games were won by Florida State (ACC), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Tulsa (Conference USA), Northern Illinois (MAC) and Stanford (PAC-12). Meanwhile, Kansas State and Louisville earned the automatic BCS bids granted to the Big 12 and Big East, Arkansas State won the Sun Belt outright and Boise State gained a 3-way tie with Fresno State and San Diego State in the Mountain West. Utah State had clinched the WAC last week.

Florida State had a tougher than expected game with Georgia Tech, pulling out a 21-15 win despite being held scoreless in the second half. The victory gave the Seminoles their first ACC title, and first BCS bowl appearance, since 2005 when Bobby Bowden beat Joe Paterno and Penn State in a triple-overtime Orange Bowl after upsetting Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.

The 'Noles will head back to the Orange Bowl where they will likely face Louisville, but a lot depends on whether or not Boise State or Northern Illinois crack the top 16 of the final BCS Standings on Sunday night. If either does so, it could wind up in the Orange and send Louisville elsewhere. The 10-2 Broncos may have a better shot than the 12-1 Huskies after head coach Dave Doeren was announced on Saturday as the new hire at N.C. State and will not coach NIU in any bowl game.

Wisconsin (8-5), the 3rd-place finisher in the Leaders division behind NCAA-sanctioned Ohio State and Penn State, literally ran over Legends division-winner Nebraska 70-31. The Badgers piled up 639 yards, all but 100 of which came on the ground. Montee Ball ran 21 times for 201 yards and 3 TD's, Melbin Gordon had 217 yards and 1 TD on just 9 carries, and James White added 109 yards and 4 touchdowns on 15 rushes. Ball set a new FBS record for rushing TD's with 76, breaking the mark set by Travis Prentice with Miami (Ohio) from 1996-1999.

For Nebraska, the rout brought back images of the Bill Callahan era when 'the Huskers seemingly set school records for futility every week. It was during the Callahan era that Nebraska lost 76-39 to Kansas In 2007.

Wisconsin becomes the first Big Ten team to make a 3-peat appearance at the Rose Bowl since Michigan did so in the 1976-1978 seasons.

Stanford (11-2) will make its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1999. The Cardinal nipped UCLA 27-24 at home on Friday, a week after clobbering the Bruins 35-17 at their place in the final regular season game. A missed 52-yard field goal in the final minute doomed UCLA's fate.

Tulsa beat UCF at home for the second time in three games to claim the CUSA title. After a 23-21 win on November 17, the Golden Hurricane downed the Golden Knights 33-27 in overtime on Saturday. After blocking a UCF field goal on its overtime possession, Alex Singleton scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give Tulsa the automatic Liberty Bowl berth that's afforded the conference champion. It's Tulsa's first conference title since 2005 when it also beat UCF in the very first CUSA championship game.

Northern Illinois (12-1) beat Kent State (11-2) 44-37 in a very entertaining double-overtime MAC Championship bout in Detroit. The Huskies led the Golden Flashes 27-13 before Kent State scored two touchdowns in 15 seconds to tie the game with 4:38 left in regulation. The first score came on a 5-yard touchdown run and the second score came on NIU's next play when a fumble by quarterback extraordinaire Jordan Lynch was scooped and returned 22 yards. Northern Illinois regained the lead with 3:12 remaining on a 9-yard Lynch run, only to have Kent State re-tie it with 44 seconds left on a 19-yard touchdown pass. The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, but NIU opened the second with a 2-yard Lynch touchdown and closed out Kent State with a 4th-down interception in the endzone.

Kansas State beat Texas 42-24 at home to get the Big 12's automatic BCS bid. Oklahoma had downed TCU 24-17 earlier in the day at Fort Worth to claim a share of the Big 12 title, but the Wildcats owned the tie-breaker by virtue of their 24-19 win in Norman earlier in the year.

Louisville scored a 20-17 win at Rutgers on Thursday night as the Scarlet Knights failed for the second straight week to secure an outright Big East championship (lost 27-6 at Pitt last week). Combined with Cincinnati's 34-17 win at UConn on Saturday, and Pittsburgh's 27-3 rout at USF, the race wound up in a 4-way tie. Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers and Syracuse all ended 5-2 in the conference. Of that group, Louisville, Rutgers and Syracuse all went 2-1 versus each other while the Bearcats were 1-2. Final BCS ranking is the next tie-breaker and Louisville is sure to claim the BCS bid on that merit, based on its 10-2 overall record while the others each had at least 3 losses.

Arkansas State crushed Middle Tennessee State 45-0 in a Sun Belt de facto conference championship game at Jonesboro, Arkansas. The 9-3 Red Wolves (7-1, Sun Belt) are probably headed to a repeat visit at the Bowl in Mobile after the New Orleans Bowl had already taken Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns, MTSU and Louisiana-Monroe finished tied for 2nd at 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the Sun Belt.

Boise State (10-2, 7-1) held off a Nevada rally for a 27-21 win in Reno to finish in a 3-way tie at the top in the Mountain West. Fresno State and San Diego State each finished 9-3, 7-1. All three schools went 1-1 versus each other. Nevada has already secured a New Mexico Bowl appearance and SDSU is going to the hometown Poinsettia Bowl. Boise State, as mentioned earlier, is a possible BCS qualifier.

Other games this week saw Baylor down Oklahoma State 41-34, Louisiana-Lafayette beat FAU 35-21, West Virginia trounce Kansas 59-10, Texas State wallop New Mexico State 66-28, Hawaii drub South Alabama 23-7, and Oregon State pummel FCS member Nicholls State 77-3.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams finished the 2012 season with a 98-10 (.907) record vs. FCS schools and are now 736-65 (.919) in such games since 2003.

The last such game of the year took place Saturday when Oregon State beat Nicholls State 77-3 in a contest which was forced to be rescheduled when Hurricane Isaac hit the gulf coast just before Labor Day weekend.

101 FBS teams played a total of 108 games against FCS foes in 2012. UTSA played 4 such schools in its first year of transitioning from the FCS. Cincinnati, Florida State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M each played 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

Notre Dame - Won 12 straight overall. Won 22-13 at USC on Saturday.

Ohio State - Won 12 straight overall. Won 26-21 vs. Michigan on Saturday.

Kent State - Saw 10-game winning streak end. Lost 44-37 in 2 OT's to Northern Illinois in MAC Championship at Detroit on Friday.

Northern Illinois - Won 12 straight overall, 21 straight home games and 17 straight conference games. Won 44-37 vs. Kent State in MAC Championship game at Detroit on Friday.

LSU - Won 41 straight nonconference games. Regular season complete.

Michigan - won 14 straight home games. Regular season complete.

Oregon - Won 15 straight road games. Regular season complete.

Southern Miss - Lost 12 straight overall. Season complete.

Akron - Lost 26 straight road games, 22 straight FBS games and 16 straight conference games (MAC). Season complete.

Kansas - Lost 21 straight FBS games, 21 straight conference games and 19 straight road games. Lost 59-10 at West Virginia on Saturday.

UNLV - Lost 22 straight road games. Season complete.

28 FBS teams entered the 2012 season with a new college football coach and 2 of those have already been released - John L. Smith at Arkansas and Ellis Johnson at Southern Miss. See the group's performance versus their predecessor..

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

Team Coach Game
Akron Terry Bowden (1-11) Season complete
Arizona Rich Rodriguez (7-5) Regular season complete
Arizona State Todd Graham (7-5) Regular season complete
Arkansas John L. Smith (4-8) Season complete
Arkansas State Gus Malzahn (9-3) Won 45-0 Saturday vs. MTSU
Colorado State Jim McElwain (4-8) Season complete
FAU Carl Pellini (3-9) Lost 35-21 Saturday vs. UL-Lafayette
Fresno State Tim DeRuyter (9-3) Regular season complete
Hawaii Norm Chow (3-9) Won 23-7 Saturday vs. South Alabama
Houston Tony Levine (5-7) Season complete
Illinois Tim Beckman (2-10) Season complete
Kansas Charlie Weis (1-11) Lost 59-10 Saturday at West Virginia
Massachusetts Charley Molnar (1-11) Season complete
Memphis Justin Fuente (4-8) Season complete
Mississippi Hugh Freeze (6-6) Regular season complete
New Mexico Bob Davie (4-9) Season complete
North Carolina Larry Fedora (8-4) Season complete
Ohio State Urban Meyer (12-0) Season complete
Penn State Bill O'Brien (8-4) Season complete
Pittsburgh Paul Chryst (6-6) Won 27-3 Saturday at USF
Rutgers Kyle Flood (9-3) Lost 20-17 Thursday vs. Louisville
Southern Miss Ellis Johnson (0-12) Season complete
Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin (10-2) Regular season complete
Toledo Matt Campbell (9-3) Regular season complete
Tulane Curtis Johnson (2-10) Season complete
UAB Garrick McGee (3-9) Season complete
UCLA Jim Mora (9-4) Lost 27-24 Saturday at Stanford (PAC-12 Championship)
Washington State Mike Leach (3-9) Season complete


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