Another full slate of college football games has come and gone. Here is what stood out to us today from games across the country.
Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13. Brian Kelly's team believed in who it is, stuck to what it does well and never wavered from the gameplan to achieve the biggest win in the third year coach's tenure. Bob Diaco's defense kept the Oklahoma passing game in front of them (52 passes for 364 yards, long of 35 yards) and shut down the Sooners' multi-faceted running attack (24 carries for 15 yards). The Fighting Irish offensive line owned the line of scrimmage, producing 215 yards and three scores on 39 carries and an effective 188 passing yards on 27 throws. After Oklahoma tied the game at 13-13, Kelly's team reeled off the game's final 17 points over the last 5:05 to stake their claim as a true national title contender in 2012.
Alabama 38, Mississippi State 7. Just another destruction of a ranked opponent. As we head into November, Nick Saban's team has never scored less than 33 points and has yet to allow more than 14 points. Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart's defense limited Mississippi State to 47 rushing yards and forced the Bulldogs into three turnovers. LSU awaits.
Nebraska 23, Michigan 9. A tight game through one half turned when Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson injured his right wrist late in the first half. Robinson's backup, redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy, was overwhelmed by the moment as evidenced by his stat line: 3-of-16 for 38 yards and three interceptions. Bo Pelini's team put the game away with just over 10 minutes left on a 12-yard touchdown dash by Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska now stands alone in first place in the Big Ten's Legends Division.
Miami (Ohio) 23, Ohio 20. Frank Solich's team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and fell into a dogfight in the MAC East with a last-second loss to the RedHawks. Down by three at the Miami seven yard-line, Ohio elected to bypass a field goal try to attempt a pass with nine seconds left and no timeouts. Instead, Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton was sacked and Ohio was unable to get off another play. With the loss, Ohio falls from first to fourth place in their division behind 4-0 Kent State, 4-1 Bowling Green (who Ohio faces next week) and 3-1 Miami.
Ohio State 35, Penn State 23. A game that ulimately had no effect on the Big Ten standings, but don't tell that to anyone at Beaver Stadium. Penn State opened the scoring by recovering a blocked field goal in the end zone but Ohio State ran off 28 of the game's next 31 points to wrest control of the game. Urban Meyer's club won this game at the line of scrimmage, owning a 234-32 rushing advantage. Ohio State is now just three wins away from joining the 1993 Auburn Tigers as teams with perfect seasons under probation.
Arizona 39, USC 36. One of the trendy upset picks of the day comes through as Arizona survives a Hail Mary to topple USC. Rich Rodriguez's offense shredded USC to the tune of 369 passing yards, 219 rushing yards and 30 first downs. Lane Kiffin's team had a chance to win despite five turnovers and 14 penalties almost singlehandedly behind the effort of sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee, who set a Pac-12 record with 345 receiving yards and also added 123 yards on kickoff returns (including a 72-yarder). It's not out of the realm of possibility that Rodriguez could win the Pac-12 South in his first season, despite a 2-3 league record at the moment. With the win over the Trojans and games still to play with UCLA and Arizona State, the Wildcats have a chance to play their way into the conference title game.
Georgia 17, Florida 9. Nine turnovers. 24 penalties. 25 incomplete passes in 53 attempts. A missed field goal. A successful onside kick called back by penalty. This game was anything but a thing of beauty. The perfect ending came when Florida tight end Jordan Reed lept from the Georgia five-yard line and fumbled on his way down into the Georgia end zone, ending Florida's last chance to tie. But credit Mark Richt's team, who overcame a sluggish month in which the Bulldogs beat Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC wins: zero) by just 12 and lost to South Carolina by 28, for finding a way to win its second straight over Florida and put itself in position to win back-to-back SEC East crowns. Georgia now just need wins over Ole Miss and Auburn (combined SEC wins: two) to make plans for Atlanta in early December.
Kansas State 55, Texas Tech 24. Once again Bill Snyder's team methodically ground another ranked opponent into submission. The Wildcats trailed 10-3 midway into the second quarter and then scored the next seven times they touched the ball until running out the game's final 2:33. Nothing they do is specatcular, but everything they do is efficient. Quarterback Collin Klein threw for 233 yards and two scores, added 83 yards and two scores on the ground while tailback John Hubert threw in two more rushing jaunts. Kansas State won the turnover battle 3-0 and took an interception 37 yards back for a touchdown.
Oklahoma State 36, TCU 14. Bill Young's defense isn't forcing turnovers like it did a year ago, but the Oklahoma State coordinator has produced a better unit overall in 2012. In holding TCU to just seven offensive points, none after the first quarter, Oklahoma State forced quarterback Trevone Boykins to throw 40 passes to gain only 185 yards. Meanwhile, Mike Gundy and Todd Monken continue to get production no matter what freshman plays quarterback. Stepping in for injured redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, true freshman Wes Lunt threw for 324 yards on 18-of-33 attempts. Mike Gundy's team has very quietly played itself into a position where the Cowboys can defend its Big 12 title. With a trip to Manhattan next week, Oklahoma State sits one game behind first-place Kansas State and tied with Oklahoma. Wins over both clubs should give the Pokes another Big 12 crown.
Kent State 35, Rutgers 23. For the second straight week a MAC team has downed an undefeated Big East foe. Darrell Hazell's 7-1 squad handed Kyle Flood his first loss at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights entered the day ranked third nationally in scoring defense and rushing defense, but Kent State dominated the line of scrimmage to the tune of 50 carries for 224 yards and more than triple Rutgers' points-against average. Kent State's rushing success allowed Hazell's team to stay on the field for more than 37 minutes on the afternoon. On the other side of the ball, Kent State forced Rutgers into six interceptions and a sum of seven turnovers.
North Carolina 43, N.C. State 35. Earlier this week we highlighted how badly Larry Fedora wanted to end North Carolina's losing skid to N.C. State. A furious final 90 seconds gave North Carolina the win and Fedora a 1-0 record against the Wolfpack. N.C. State held a 35-25 lead after three quarters, but the Tar Heels pulled within three early in the fourth quarter. Fedora's team threatened to take the lead until quarterback Bryn Renner was sacked on third-and-goal, forcing the Tar Heels to settle for a field goal and a 35-35 tie with 1:24 to play. After securing a three-and-out on N.C. State's ensuing possession, running back Giovani Bernard took a punt back 73 yards for the game-winner, his third touchdown of the day. The loss is a costly one for Tom O'Brien's team as N.C. State no longer controls its own destiny to play in the ACC Championship.
Ole Miss 30, Arkansas 27. A Bryson Rose 31-yard field goal as time expired gave Hugh Freeze's team its second consecutive SEC win. It can not be understanded how important this win is for Freeze's program, which suddenly is just one win from bowl eligibility after putting an end to its 16-game conference losing streak last week. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the win for Freeze is that his team found a way to win despite being outgained by 109 yards and committing two turnovers. Arkansas isn't the team they were expected to be, but Ole Miss still had enough talent to defeat an SEC foe without owning the stat sheet.
South Carolina 38, Tennessee 35. A Big 12 game broke out in SEC country. The Vols and Gamecocks teamed up to accumulate 987 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. Tennessee mounted a late drive that could have given them the lead, marching from their own 19-yard line to the South Carolina 19, until Jadeveon Clowney forced a Tyler Bray fumble that the Gamecocks recovered with 1:08 remaining. We want to send well wishes to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered what Steve Spurrier called a "serious injury" in the second quarter. With the loss Derek Dooley now falls to 4-18 in SEC play.
Texas 21, Kansas 17. The Texas offense had accomplished nothing since the first drive until backup quarterback Case McCoy led the Longhorns on consecutive scoring drives for the comeback win. To be fair, it was the Texas running game that did the heavy lifting on McCoy's first touchdown drive, as Bryan Harsin got the ball in the hands of speedsters D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin as Texas rushed seven times for 84 yards to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:41 to play. Charlie Weis' team responded with a 14 play, 61 yard drive that ate 7:13 off the clock but notched just three points to leave Texas a window to rally. McCoy connected with Jaxon Shipley on 4th-and-6 for 18 yards to keep Mack Brown's team in the game, and five plays later McCoy hit tight end D.J. Grant for the winning score with just 12 ticks left on the clock. Kansas played with a great game plan, attacking the Texas run defense to the tune of 234 rushing yards while Dave Campo's defense forced Texas quarterback David Ash into his worst game of the season (8-of-16 passing for 63 yards and two interceptions) before Brown pulled Ash for McCoy. Unfortunately for Kansas, this marks yet another close call that left the Jayhawks just short of its first Big 12 win since Nov. 6, 2010.