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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.

 

When you beat Bama...

Love this video from A&M. Enjoy!

Coaches of the Week - Week 11

Head Coach of the Week - Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: There was no other choice for this week's honor but the coach who led his team to a win over the top-ranked defending national champions in their house. Sumlin's team started at their trademark whirlwind pace in opening up a 20-0 lead through one quarter. The Alabama defense adjusted but unlike in previous losses to Florida and LSU, the Aggies produced timely offense, most notably Johnny Manziel's 24-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Kennedy with 8:37 to play. The Texas A&M defense allowed some big plays in the passing game but created game-changing plays of their own, turning A.J. McCarron's first interception of the season into points and sealing the game with their second interception on fourth-and-goal in the game's waning moments. The Aggies won the turnover battle 3-0, went 11-of-18 on third down and, unlike Alabama, did not doom itself with costly penalties. Texas A&M's 29 points were the most scored on an Alabama defense since a 35-21 loss to South Carolina in 2010, a span of 29 games. 

 

Offensive Staff of the Week - Syracuse: Doug Marrone's offensive unit saved its best performance of the season for the best team on its schedule in a 45-26 trouncing of Louisville. Syracuse reached a season high in points and its 524 total yards and 278 rushing yards were the tops against Big East competition in 2012. The Orange pulled away with touchdowns on five consecutive full drives, marching 332 yards in 36 collective plays. A balanced effort, Syracuse had a 240-yard passer, a 140-yard rusher and a 170-yard receiver and very nearly had another rusher reach triple digits. After winning just four Big East games from 2005-09, Syracuse now has a shot at five conference wins for the first time since 2001. 

 

Defensive Staff of the Week - Kansas State: When the Wildcats offense played a quiet night by its standards, it was the Kansas State defense that allowed a prime time conference road game turn into a comfortable victory. In fact, Tom Hayes' defense did not allow the Horned Frogs offense on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter when the score was already 23-0. TCU had not been held to just 10 points since a 17-10 loss to Boise State in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, a streak of 35 games. Kansas State limited TCU to 4.1 yards per play and 260 total yards, both season lows. 

 

Special Teams Unit of the Week - UCLA: The Bruins produced two blocked field goals, returning one for a touchdown, and two blocked punts in a 44-36 win over Washington State. A successful punt pinning the Cougars deep in their own territory also set up a safety by the Bruins' defense. Kenneth Walker also returned a kickoff 40 yards to the Washington State 41-yard line, priming the UCLA offense for a short touchdown drive. UCLA built a 37-7 halftime lead and needed every one of its early special teams plays as the Cougars won the second half, 29-7, to pull within one score. The Bruins also punted successfully with five attempts for an average of 46.6 yards, with two kicks pinned inside the 20, allowing just one return for four yards. 

 

Call of the Week - Bryan Harsin, Texas: Everyone in the stadium knew Texas was going to line up in the wishbone on their first offensive play Saturday. But nobody saw coming what happened next. Backed up at their own six-yard line, quarterback David Ash handed to wide receiver Jaxon Shipley, who was lined up as a tailback in the wishbone formation,  who then turned and threw back to Ash inside his own end zone, and Ash fired a 46-yard strike to tight end Greg Daniels. How out of nowhere was the play call? The catch was the second of Daniels' career. Timely creativity is Bryan Harsin's calling card and this play was a prime example why. 

Jerry Kill on reaching bowl eligibility

Bowl eligibility is a birth right at schools like Alabama, Oklahoma and USC, which is why it's always great to see it happen where reaching the postseason means something. After a 3-9 debut season, Jerry Kill has led Minnesota back to a bowl game for the first time since 2009 with a 17-3 win over Illinois. 

"I'm happy for these older kids," said Kill. "When you have a coaching transition, that's a hard thing on them. Everybody does things differently. It's been tough but they've responded well. They've been through a lot."

After turning around Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois, Kill was hired after the 2010 season to do the same with a Golden Gophers team that suffered through a 3-9 campaign. In fact, Kill's teams experienced a bump in year two in each of his stops at Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and now Minnesota.

Saturday's win marked the first checkpoint in Minnesota's transition back into a winning program. It was also the first Big Ten road victory in Kill's tenure at Minnesota. 

"We've still got two games left," Kill said. "We've still got work to do."

Here are the highlights of Minnesota's win on Saturday.

Saturday Scoreboard - Week 11

The FootballScoop Saturday Scoreboard will keep you up to speed throughout the day on everything you need to know across college football. 

Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24. Michigan-Northwestern's reign as Game of the Day lasted for all of about three hours as the Aggies and Crimson Tide staged a boxing match that will be in the conversation for Game of the Year. Texas A&M jumped out to a 20-0 lead only to see Alabama pull within 20-17. The Aggies opened the fourth quarter with nine straight points, their first since the first quarter, when A.J. McCarron hit Amari Cooper on a 54-yard catch-and-run to make the score 29-24 with 6:09 to play. Alabama's defense forced a punt, setting up McCarron with another 54-yard strike, this time to Kenny Bell. Saban's team appeared primed for another fourth quarter rally but the Texas A&M defense stiffened with a goal line stand that Aggie fans will talk about for ages, capped with an interception at the goal line on 4th-and-2. Alabama prepared for one last gasp until an uncharacteristic mistake, an neutral zone infraction on 4th-and-1 with 40 seconds left, sealed the upset. 

Oregon 59, California 17. With the Ducks running game struggling to take off, Chip Kelly and co. turned to the air with rousing success. Marcus Mariota completed 27-of-34 passes for 377 yards and six touchdowns while backup Bryan Bennett added a touchdown throw of his own as the Ducks pulled away from a 24-17 game with five unanswered touchdown passes. Oregon's defense, playing almost entirely with freshmen in the front, put the clamps down on the Bears late, shutting out Cal over the game's final 25 minutes. 

 

Notre Dame 21, Boston College 6. Much like its unbeaten counterpart Kansas State, Notre Dame didn't do anything spectacular but did enough to  comfortably notch their 10th victory of the season. Quarterback Everett Golson played an efficient game, completing 16-of-24 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 39 yards and another score. Boston College moved the ball against the Fighting Irish but were kept out of the end zone. Notre Dame has now allowed just 36 points in six games away from South Bend this season. Brian Kelly's team is now 10-0 for the first time since 1993 and has won 18 of its last 21 contests. 

Kansas State 23, TCU 10. On a night when Collin Klein returned to the line-up, the Kansas State defense carried the day while the Wildcats' offense did just enough to win without being seriously pushed by the Horned Frogs. Kansas State did not let TCU dent the scoreboard until the fourth quarter when the Wildcats led by 23. The Kansas State was not as methodical as it usually performs, producing season lows in points, total yards and first downs. On a night when the No. 1 team in the nation went down at home, any conference road win is to be celebrated. 

 

LSU 37, Mississippi State 17. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger showed continued improvement after last week's giant leap forward as he connected on 19-of-30 passes for 273 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell had his share of success through the air with 295 yards and a score, but the Bulldogs could not get anything going on the ground in rushing 24 times for just 47 yards. LSU safety Craig Loston ended any hopes of a comeback when he took an interception back 100 yards for a score with 1:13 to play. 

 

Georgia 38, Auburn 0. Mark Richt's Bulldogs eased into their second straight SEC East title in building a 38-0 lead in the game's first 40 minutes and then playing the final third of the game on autopilot. Georgia averaged nearly 7.5 yards per play in producing 208 passing yards, 289 rushing yards and 24 first downs. The Bulldogs will venture outside of the SEC for tilts with Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech before presumably a shot at Alabama for the SEC title on December 1. 

Nebraska 32, Penn State 23. Bo Pelini's team owned the second half, outscoring Penn State 26-3, to remain in control of the Big Ten Legends Division. The turning point of the game came with nine minutes left when, trailing 27-23, Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin hit Matt Lehman at the Nebraska one-yard line when Lehman fumbled into the end zone and the Cornhuskers recovered. Nebraska then boomed a 69-yard punt pinning Penn State at the two-yard line, and two plays later McGloin was sacked in the end zone. 

 

Stanford 27, Oregon State 23. Stanford came out rocking, building a 14-0 lead after the first frame. But Oregon State punched back, scoring 23 straight points over the game's next 27 minutes. David Shaw's faith in newly-installed starter Kevin Hogan paid off when Hogan hit touchdown passes to Stepfan Taylor and Zach Ertz to put the Cardinal back on top for good. The win gives Stanford a crack at stealing the Pac-12 North away from Oregon next week and also puts them first in line for a potential Rose Bowl berth.

 

Oklahoma State 55, West Virginia 34. At this point it almost doesn't matter who starts for Mike Gundy and Todd Monken, he's going to score points. Third-stringer Clint Chelf stepped into the starting line-up and threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns. The Cowboys jumped out to a 31-14 lead just before halftime only to see West Virginia rally to pull within 38-34, but Gundy's team pulled away with the game's final 17 points. The win puts Oklahoma State into the Big 12 bowl picture and drops West Virginia, who stood at 5-0 and in the Top 5 one month ago, to 5-4 on the year. 

San Diego State 28, Air Force 9. Rocky Long and his staff have put in one of the best under the radar coaching jobs in college football this season. In pulling off the Aztecs' sixth straight wins, San Diego State was able to dominate a game in which in was out-gained 393-268 and lost the first down battle 24-15. The Aztecs' defense forced four turnovers and, while they allowed 320 rushing yards, made the Air Force use 68 carries to get there. The win moves San Diego State to 8-3 on the year and tied atop the Mountain West standings with Boise State and Fresno State. 

USC 38, Arizona State 17. This is a much-needed win for USC after the week they've had. Do-it-all wide receiver Marqise Lee will grab the headlines with 227 yards from scrimmage but running back Curtis McNeal carried the day with 32 touches for 185 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came after Arizona State took a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. After two rough weeks, Monte Kiffin's defenses rebounded to force four turnovers and hold Arizona State to 250 total yards. 

 

Missouri 51, Tennessee 48 (four overtimes). Tennessee was unsuccessful on 4th-and-3 from the Mizzou 18 in the top of the fourth overtime, meaning Gary Pinkel's team needed just a 35-yard field goal from Andrew Baggett to seal the win. Tennessee blew a 21-7 halftime lead, allowing Missouri to force overtime with 47 seconds left by knotting the game at 28-28.  At 0-6 in SEC play, Tennessee now must beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky to salvage a bowl trip while Missouri can lock in a bowl game with a win over Syracuse next week. 

Florida 27, Louisiana - Lafayette 20. Florida's first blocked punt of the season could not have come at a better time, as Jelani Jenkins returned a blocked punt 35 yards for a score with two seconds remaining to avoid one of the biggest upset losses in school history. Mark Hudspeth's team controlled the game for much of the afternoon, but will look back to settling for a short field goal after moving within a 1st-and-goal, leading 17-13, early in the fourth quarter. The Ragin' Cajuns pushed the lead to 20-13 but left the door open for Florida to score twice within the game's final 1:42 to take the win. Florida's only substantial offense came in desperation, end of half situations as the Gators broke a 3-3 tie with seven ticks remaining before halftime with a nine-play, 85-yard drive capped by a Trey Burton two-yard scoring catch. 

 

Texas Tech 41, Kansas 34 (double overtime). Tommy Tuberville's team survived a scare from Kansas but the most talked about aspect of this game will be his sideline incident with an assistant coach. 

Virginia 41, Miami (Fla.) 40. A back-and-forth affair appeared over when Virginia threw incomplete on 4th-and-7 in the game's final minute until Miami was flagged for defensive holding. The Cavaliers' new life resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass with six seconds remaining, putting Virgina on top for good. The loss costs Miami control of the ACC Coastal Division, as the Hurricanes are now tied with Duke and Georgia Tech. 

Michigan 38, Northwestern 31 (overtime). It will take a lot to knock this from Game of the Day status, as Michigan stuffed Northwestern on 4th-and-2 in overtime to keep its Big Ten title hopes alive. A back-and-forth game that saw the lead change hands four times after Northwestern hit a 15-yard scoring strike to take a 31-28 lead with 3:59 to play.  Fill-in starter Devin Gardner threw an interception on Michigan's next play, but the Wolverines forced a punt to regain possession at their 38-yard line with 18 ticks left. On the first play of this possession, Roy Roundtree hauled in Gardner's jump ball for a 53 yard gain to set up a 26-yard field goal that sent the game into overtime. Gardner rushed in on a 3rd-and-goal play-fake on Michigan's possession and Greg Mattison's defense held up on Northwestern's turn to seal the win. Michigan will now root for Penn State as a Nittany Lions win over Nebraska puts the Wolverines on top of the Big Ten Legends Division. 

 

Syracuse 45, Louisville 26. I have described Louisville's undefeated start as a season-long tight rope walk, and the Cardinals plunged off the rope and into the netting in a big way on Saturday. After a 10-10 score in the first quarter, Syracuse blew Louisville off the field in the second quarter, outscoring Charlie Strong's team 21-3. The Orange pounded Louisville up front, owning a 278-48 rushing advantage. Louisville gained 472 yards from scrimmage, but all but 31 of those yards were generated by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. 

 

Wisconsin 62, Indiana 14. Indiana entered Saturday's game in control of its own destiny to reach the Big Ten Championship and, thus, the Rose Bowl. And then the game started. Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema mentioned last week that he was leaning toward keeping interim offensive line coach Bart Miller on full-time, and Miller's unit performed like it wants him around for a long time. The Badgers set a school record with 564 rushing yards, as running backs Montee Ball and James White each topped 150 yards. The win locks in a second consecutive Big Ten Legends Division championship for Bielema's program. 

Texas 33, Iowa State 7. Texas opened the game by throwing out of the Wishbone from its own six-yard line for a 46-yard gain to tight end Greg Daniels and never slowed down from there. Sophomore quarterback David Ash was extremely sharp throughout the day, hitting 18 of his first 19 passes, going 25-of-31 for a career-best 364 yards and two touchdowns. The Longhorns also 44 times for 224 yards and two scores. Manny Diaz's defense played by far its best game against a Big 12 opponent, limiting ISU quarterback Steele Jantz to 15-of-29 passing for 133 yards (4.59 yards per attempt) for one touchdown and two interceptions. Texas out-gained the Cyclones 609-277, held a 31-14 first downs advantage and achieved 23 plays of 10 yards or more. 

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