NCAA Division II Playoff Bracket

The NCAA revealed the 2012 Division II playoff bracket on Sunday afternoon. First round action begins on Saturday, and the Division II championship is slated for December 15 in Florence, Ala. 

Winston-Salem (N.C.), Colorado State - Pueblo, Valdosta State (Ga.) and Minnesota State - Mankato earned the top seeds. 

Click here to view the full bracket. 

The best ending to a game you didn't see on Saturday

Of the many unique trophy games spread throughout all levels of college football, perhaps the most unique is the Dutchman's Shoes Trophy. Awarded annually since 1950, the Dutchman's Shoes goes to the winner of the game between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Union University, both Division III schools located in New York state.

With that established, the game was deadlocked at 28-28 in overtime when Union faced a fourth-and-16 at the 31 yard-line. Instead of kicking a field goal, Union threw deep and Conner Eck found Kyle Reynolds at the seven yard-line. Reynolds avoided a defender and raced into the end zone to seal the win, keeping the Dutchman's Shoes in Schenectady, N.Y., for a second straight year. 

For good measure, below is a photo of the Dutchman's Shoes Trophy.

A&M special teams coordinator Brian Polian explains the penalty heard 'round the world

With Texas A&M clinging to a 29-24 lead with 40 seconds to go, Texas A&M was in a precarious situation. Forced to punt from its own 13 yard-line, the Aggies were faced with the prospect of putting the ball back in the hands of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.

McCarron had proved himself to be something of a late-game assassin, leading the last gasp drive to beat LSU last week and hitting two 54-yard bombs to nearly bring Alabama back from a 29-17 deficit against Texas A&M. That's when Texas A&M special teams coordinator Brian Polian decided not to give Alabama the ball back in the first place.

Andy Staples of SI.com explained Polian's strategy to draw the Crimson Tide offsides in his post-game column.

"Well aware that McCarron had shredded LSU's defense on a game-winning drive a week earlier in Baton Rouge, the Aggies did not want to give McCarron the ball," Staples wrote. "'We can Bob him,' punt team members told Polian. In Polian's parlance, a 'Bob' is a double cadence designed to draw the punt return team offsides. Polian ordered the 'Bob' and watched as the left side of Alabama's line jumped when they thought A&M would snap. Flags flew. The Aggies pointed at the Crimson Tide, and when referee Tom Ritter indicated the penalty was on Alabama, the Aggies celebrated. Swope grabbed Kingsbury and lifted him off the ground. The band played. The Yell Leaders yelled, and the rest of Bryant-Denny Stadium fell silent. When he returned to the locker room, Polian, who coached at Stanford in 2010-11, turned on his phone to find it flooded with text messages. 'I've had that forever,' Polian said. 'About 20 Stanford kids texted me and said 'You Bobbed them!

Watch for yourself below.


Nick Aliotti: "There's no waiver wire. The next guy in has to step up and play."

Memorial Stadium has not been a safe place for Oregon to play during Chip Kelly's tenure. California handed the Ducks a rare conference loss in 2008 and nearly did again in 2010 when Oregon escaped with a 15-13 win. 

Saturday night appeared headed in the same direction as the Golden Bears moved the ball on a depleted Oregon defense. The Ducks played without a host of starters on its defensive front, at times playing a lineup comprised almost entirely of true freshmen. 

California pulled within 24-17 five minutes into the second half, but Oregon's youth carried the day. The defense shutout California for the rest of the night and redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes over a 10 minute span to put the game out of reach. Oregon 59, California 17. 

While the final score may have indicated a typical night for Oregon, the route used to get there was very atypical, especially on defense. 

"I'd say it was a very gratifying win," said Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. "I don't believe any of our starting defensive linemen except for Taylor Hart played. We played with a lot of young guys and a lot of guys that played on our scout team. There were some tough times there but they pulled it out.

"It's very gratifying because in the grand scheme of things I thought those kids did an outstanding job," Aliotti continued. "They scored 17 points, we got three turnovers and our offense continues to be incredible."

Anyone who has watched Oregon play this season knows there's much more to the Ducks than a flashy offense, and the depth displayed on Saturday further illustrates that point.

"You can't worry about it.," Alotti said when asked what he thought when the injuries began mounting. "There's no waiver wire. The next guy in has to step up and play."

Oregon will put Saturday's lessons to immediate use as the powerful rushing attack of Stanford is next on the schedule.  

Mark Hudspeth: "Our guys battled their rear ends off for four quarters"

Mark Hudspeth and Louisiana - Lafayette came tantalizingly close to one of the biggest wins in school history on Saturday. Leading 20-13 with just under four minutes to play, the Ragin' Cajuns allowed Florida to march 49 yards in 1:14 to tie the game, and then block a punt on ULL's ensuing possession that Jelani Jenkins returned 36 yards for a score with two seconds to go. Ballgame. Florida 27, Louisiana - Lafayette 20. 

"Our guys battled their rear ends off for four quarters," Hudspeth said on the field after the game. "I really believed they were going to win this football game."

Louisiana - Lafayette could have put the game away early in the fourth quarter when, leading 17-13, it could not turn a first-and-goal at the 7 yard-line into a touchdown. 

Hudspeth offered perspective on what the close call says about his program's progress.

"This is the seventh-ranked team in the country, on the road in a hostile environment, and our guys made plays when they needed to," explained Hudspeth. "And then we didn't make a play at the end when we had to. I hate for that to happen, for the game to end that way. Our kids really battled. I think it showed we're making progress with our team."

The Sun Belt owns two victories over the SEC this season, and Saturday marked at least the third near miss for the Sun Belt: Auburn's 31-28 overtime squeaker over ULM, Tennessee's 55-48 shootout survival of Troy and Florida's blocked punt escape of the Ragin' Cajuns.


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