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The Fifth Quarter: Week 12 Rewind

Auburn Georgia Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

THUMBS UP

War Damn Miracle… and the Mother of All Iron Bowls
For a short period of time, it appeared that the Alabama-Auburn game for all of the SEC West Tostitos would be nothing but a distant memory thanks to the fourth-quarter heroics of Aaron Murray and his Georgia teammates.  And then, the Dawg Gone Miracle went and happened and the Mother of All Iron Bowls was back on.  While there’s still the little matter of Alabama getting past its scrimmage against FCS-level Chattanooga next weekend — after it struggled with Mississippi State this weekend — Nov. 30 is set for an epic in-state showdown: the  7-0 (in SEC play) Tide versus the 6-1 Tigers, with the winner staking its claim to the SEC West and earning a berth in the conference title game the following weekend.  In the 21 years since the SEC went to divisional play, the Iron Bowl has never served as a winner-take-all affair for the SEC West.  Hide the women, children and Udykes, y’all; this one’s gonna be huge.

SEC East clarity
Meanwhile, on the redheaded stepchild side of the SEC, the chase for a spot in the conference championship game is nearly as simple as it is in the West.  With South Carolina’s escape against Florida, the Gamecocks finish league play at 6-2.  Missouri, which was idle this weekend, is at 5-1.  If the Tigers win their last two games on the road against Ole Miss and at home against Texas A&M, Mizzou will face the winner of the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl the first Saturday in December in Atlanta.  If Mizzou stumbles once either week?  The Gamecocks, based on their Oct. 26 overtime win over the Tigers, will represent the East division in the league title game.  If Mizzou can get past an up-and-down Rebels squad, both the SEC East and West will be decided on the final week of the regular season.  That, I would think, would be kind of cool.

Ed OrgeronOregon for Orgeron
Nov. 7, the bottom dropped out of Oregon’s football world.  Not only did the Ducks lose its stranglehold on a potential spot in the BCS title game, they lost control of their own division with the loss to Stanford.  10 days later, their world’s looking a bit brighter.  Thanks to USC’s stunning upset of Stanford, Oregon now merely needs to take care of business against Arizona and Oregon State the next two weeks and it will claim the Pac-12 North’s spot in the conference title game.  Just who the opposition would be remains to be seen.  Arizona State, at 6-1 in the conference, needs to “simply” beat UCLA (5-2) next weekend on the road to win the South division, regardless of what happens in the regular season finale against Arizona and regardless of what USC (5-2) does in its last two games (ASU 62, USC 41 the day prior to Lane Kiffin‘s firing).  The Sun Devils, though, aren’t the only ones that control its own divisional fate; the Bruins can win the South if they wins their last two (ASU, USC).  Unbelievably, the Trojans also have a (slim) shot at a South crown.  If USC wins its last two, and if ASU loses its last two, the Trojans would be the South’s representative in the Pac-12 title game.  To boil it down: the South will have much more clarity after the ASU-UCLA game next Saturday.  Probably.

Nerd slipper still fits
I’m a sucker for a good Cinderella sports story, especially when it comes to football.  And this season, it doesn’t get any more Cinderella than Duke.  Not only have the Blue Devils become bowl-eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the program’s history, they are in control of the ACC Coastal division thanks to the 48-30 pounding of Miami.  To repeat, Duke, a program that hasn’t won an outright ACC championship since 1962 and last shared one in 1989, is in the driver’s seat to represent the Coastal in the conference championship game.  If Duke is able to go on the road the next two weeks and beat Wake Forest (4-6 overall, 2-5 in ACC) and North Carolina (5-5, 4-3), the Blue Devils will face Florida State for the league title and a BCS berth.  Yes, that’s a blowout waiting to happen, but the fact that Duke is even in the discussion let alone the divisional driver’s seat  makes it one of the best stories of the year.

For all the rushing yards
When you think of Wisconsin football, whether it be under Barry Alvarez or Bret Bielema or Gary Andersen, you think ground game.  As if to drive home that point, the Badgers decided to run the ball right down the throats of Indiana Saturday afternoon.  UW rushed for 323 yards… then came back out for the second half, finishing with a season-high 554 yards that was 10 yards shy of the school’s single-game record and the most by an FBS team this season.  Three different Badger backs ran for over 100 yards: James White, 20-205; Melvin Gordon, 13-146; Corey Clement, 11-108.  This was the third time this season that trio of backs had each gained 100-plus yards in a single game.  A fourth player, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, just missed the 100-yard mark with 86 — and two touchdowns — on just three carries.  The Badgers averaged a staggering 11.1 yards on their fifty carries and, well, you get the point.

Probe, schmobe
Jameis Winston may or may not be facing some rather serious charges in the next week or two, but, if he’s concerned about the investigation into an alleged sexual assault, he didn’t show it on the field Saturday afternoon.  In the first half of Florida State’s drubbing of Syracuse, the presumptive Heisman front-runner completed 19-of-21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.  That would be the extent of Winston’s work for the day as the redshirt freshman spent the rest of the game holding the proverbial clipboard as the reserves closed out yet another dominating win.  It was a virtuoso performance in a situation that, given the off-field circumstances, would’ve sent most people most people cowering anywhere but the very public spotlight of a football field.  I don’t know if Winston should or shouldn’t be charged, or is guilty or not guilty.  What I do know is that, for the sake of a young man with such a bright future, I hope he’s not.  Even more so, I hope that, if a crime was indeed committed, the alleged victim gets the justice she deserves — regardless of who the perpetrator may be.

I’m still here
It took approximately a nanosecond after Oregon lost to Stanford two Thursdays ago for Marcus Mariota to be all but eliminated, by the general public at least, from the Heisman race.  Saturday, the quarterback showed exactly why he’s still one of the best football players in the country despite a blemish on his team’s résumé.  Mariota passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a little over three quarters of work in the bounce-back win over Utah.  This season, Mariota has thrown 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 285 pass attempts.  He is the only FBS quarterback in the Top 100 in passing efficiency who has yet to throw a pick.  It’s a shame that one subpar game — in which he was playing hurt, no less — has overshadowed what’s been a magnificent season for a player who’s done more than enough to be in the thick of the stiff-armed discussion.

Andre 300Andre Williams
Unbeknownst to some (most?), Andre Williams of Boston College came into today’s game with North Carolina State leading the nation in rushing.  Suffice to say, he did absolutely nothing to hurt that standing.  All the senior did was rush for 339 yards — on “just” 42 carries — in the Eagles’ win over the Wolfpack.  The total is the most ever in ACC history — the FBS record is 409 by TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson — and breaks the school record Williams set a week ago.  His 634 yards the past two weeks is second in FBS history in back-to-back games, surpassed only by Texas’ Ricky Williams‘ 668 in 1998.

You down with OHP? Yes, yes you are Mr. Fan
Every home game, Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer Brian Orr is assigned to protect the blindside, and every other side for that matter, of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.  Orr is a rather large man who has, based on the size of his biceps, been to many a gun show.  During the Sooners’ win over Iowa State Saturday, an overexuberant fan decided to take to the field and begin celebrating another OU win over the Cyclones a little early.  Showing SEC speed to go along with his size, Orr left his post as Stoops’ protector and, well, did this:

L

Officer Orr, there’s a Vince McMahon on Line 1 for you…

It was also good form on the part of Orr as he avoided being flagged for targeting a defenseless fan.

Myles and Myles of two-way talent
In the week after linebacker Myles Jack ran for 120 yards in UCLA’s win last Saturday, head coach Jim Mora was asked about the true freshman’s role on offense moving forward. “He’s a linebacker,” the Bruins coach said.  We doubted the one-way sincerity at the time; Mora, though, was kind of enough to remove all doubt Friday night.  All Jack did for an encore in the win over Washington was rush for four touchdowns on just 13 carries while adding five tackles on the other side of the ball.  Likening the balance of Jack’s time on offense and defense to “a dance,” Mora called him “an outstanding linebacker”… but at the same time said “we are going to continue to use him” in the backfield.  For his part, Jack prefers to be the hitter instead of the hittee. “I’m still defense all the way,” the linebacker said after the Bruins’ win over the Huskies.  Whatever, just get the talented kid on the field as much as possible.

THUMBS DOWN

Sack Mack back in vogue
Judging by my emails and the reaction on Twitter, all of the goodwill Mack Brown had gained over the past few weeks is gone.  Evaporated.  Vanished.  The 25-point loss to Oklahoma State, at home and after the Longhorns had just reentered the rankings no less, snapped UT’s six-game winning streak and wrested control of the Big 12 out of their hands.  After fading to the background, and fair or not, the calls for UT and its new athletic director to make a change at head coach will return and will be as loud as ever.  And, yes, that means the tiresome Saban-to-UT speculation will be an ever-present reminder to Brown and everyone else that many, many people want that change.  Whether those who actually hold the power to make such a thing happen agree, however, remains to be seen.

Will MuschampBowl-less in Gainesville
No, it’s not official but it might as well be.  Thanks to the five-point loss to South Carolina, 4-6 Florida will now have to beat Georgia Southern next week and… No. 2 Florida State the following week to become bowl-eligible.  In other words, the Gators won’t be bowl-eligible in 2013.  When the final gun sounds on the loss to the Seminoles, the Gators will have been shut out of the postseason for the first time since 1990, the first season with Steve Spurrier as head coach.  While they were 9-2 that season, they were ineligible for a bowl due to NCAA sanctions.  The last time UF played its way to a bowl-less season?  The 6-5 1986 squad.  Athletic director Jeremy Foley issued an unequivocal, no-gray-area-here declaration of public support for Will Muschamp earlier in the week.  We’ll take the straight-shooting Foley at his word.  When it comes to the offensive assistants on Muschamp’s staff?  Don’t buy any green bananas.  And do month-to-month leases, if possible.

Singing the Big Offensive Blues
Yes, Michigan was able to end its two-game skid, but all is most decidedly not right in the Land of Big Blue.  In the three-overtime win over conference-winless Northwestern, the Wolverines managed just three field goals in regulation.  The offense barely cracked 300 yards the first four quarters despite not committing a turnover and being penalized just once the entire game — and doing it against a defense that was 80th in the country in total defense at 417.9 yards per game coming in.  On ESPN‘s College GameDay show, former Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard called out Al Borges, challenging the fourth-highest paid offensive coordinator to earn his salary.  It’s highly unlikely Brady Hoke would do something as drastic as make a change at coordinator in the offseason.  Whether he should, though, is another matter entirely.

Seat as hot as a burning couch
If it wasn’t before, the honeymoon in Morgantown is officially over.  West Virginia became Kansas’ first Big 12 victim in three years, suffering an embarrassing 12-point loss to a team that had won twice in 2013 coming in.  The loss dropped the Mountaineers to 4-7 on the season and officially knocked them out of bowl contention.  In two-plus seasons at WVU, Holgorsen is 21-16 overall and 6-11 in Big 12 play.  While this sobering stat is unrelated to the latest miserable loss, it bears repeating: in 37 games under Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia has lost nine of them by 21-plus points.  In 126 games under Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart, which spanned a 10-year period, the Mountaineers were beaten by 21 or more points a total of eight times.  In other words, the Mountaineers simply aren’t competitive on a consistent basis under Holgorsen.  With the move from the Big East to the more competitive Big 12, that’s a coaching death waiting to happen.  And, based on the people in my area, there are plenty of fans eager to line up and pull the plug.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

– No. 1 Alabama 20, Mississippi State 7: As best as I can recall, this is the first time since I began doing this feature four years ago that the top-ranked team in the country has appeared in this category.  Four turnovers on the road, however, will do that to a team.  While it’s highly unlikely that enough voters would flip based solely on this performance, there’s a very good likelihood that Florida State will pick up quite a few first-place poll votes and chip into the Tide’s commanding rankings lead.

– No. 11 South Carolina 19, Florida 14: With all of the injuries the Gators have incurred this season, I have no clue how they did it.  Baling wire and duct tape were involved, I assume.  Regardless, the Gamecocks, which finished off the SEC portion of its slate with the win, remain within shouting distance of first-place Missouri.  And will be the biggest Ole Miss/Texas A&M fans the next two weeks.

– No. 15 UCF 39, Temple 36:   It took a miraculous touchdown catch — and that catch was the dictionary definition of an athletic miracle — and a field goal with no time on the clock, but the Knights were able to finally subdue the one-win Owls, maintaining a firm stranglehold on their AAC lead and continuing to close in on the first-ever BCS berth in the program’s history.

– No. 19 Louisville 20, Houston 13: Trailing the Cougars by three at halftime, the Cardinals put 10 points on the board in the third quarter while holding the potent UH offense to no points in the second half to win its third straight game after losing its first game of the season.

– No. 21 Arizona State 30, Oregon State 17: The Sun Devils led the reeling Beavers 20-10 entering the fourth quarter before finally putting OSU away for good with an interception return for a touchdown with just over five minutes left.  With 10 games in the books, ASU’s year essentially comes down to a one-game season: next Saturday against UCLA, with the opportunity to clinch the Pac-12 South on the line.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Florida State — Yep, I finally pulled the trigger.  Here’s what you need to know about the Seminoles: the past six games against teams that are currently a combined 34-26, FSU has outscored those opponents 322-51.  From my vantage point in this corner of my mom’s basement, the ‘Noles are simply the best and most talented team in the game. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. Idaho

2. Alabama — Dropping the Tide was something I had been considering for the past three weeks, based solely on how FSU was playing.  Alabama’s sloppy 13-point win over Mississippi State added to how FSU continues to play allowed me to justify such a move in my own head. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Chattanooga

3. Ohio State — When the polls come out this later this morning/early this afternoon, it would serve as a major shock if Baylor didn’t leapfrog the Buckeyes in all three of the major polls, including the two that are part of the BCS standings.  I won’t do that here, although watching the Buckeyes muddle through what should’ve been a game-long cakewalk against a really bad Illinois team had me at least considering it. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Indiana

4. Baylor — The Bears’ idea of a close game is spotting its opponents the first 14 points, then outscoring them 63-20 the rest of the way to turn an upset alert into a blowout.  BU will likely face its stiffest of the season this weekend as they travel to Stillwater.  Maybe then we can all get a handle on just how good this team really is. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: at No. 12 Oklahoma State

5. Missouri — Yes, you could’ve made the case for Auburn or Oregon or Clemson or Michigan State or Oklahoma State here, but the quality of the Tigers’ lone loss trumps every other team’s.  Auburn lost by double digits to three-loss LSU.  Oregon was dropped rather handily and easily by a Stanford team that’s lost to 4-6 Utah and USC, which fired its head coach before the first month of the season was in the books.  Clemson was taken to the woodshed by FSU.  Michigan State lost to a Notre Dame squad that’s currently unranked.  Oklahoma State lost to West Virginia, which lost in Week 12 to a Kansas team that hadn’t won a Big 12 games in three years.  Mizzou’s lone loss came in overtime to a ranked South Carolina and after it had taken a 17-0 lead into the fourth quarter before getting Connor Shaw‘d. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at Ole Miss

(Dropped out: No. 5 Stanford)

HE SAID IT
“This team has the ‘It’ factor. That’s just the bottom line. … I told them a minute ago that I think we’re in the midst of something special.” — Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, following the miraculous win over Georgia.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I think most teams would have folded or found a reason to quit but they didn’t do that. … I talked about being disciplined on and off the field. If your goal is to live a disciplined life, you’ll probably have a blessed life.” — Mark Richt, when asked what he said to his Georgia players following the heartbreaking loss to Auburn.

HELMET OF THE DAY
This may not be the most “hip” helmet in an era where the Oregons and Baylors of the college football world look to one-up each other on a seemingly weekly basis, but it’s certainly the most meaningful.  For its game against Ohio State Saturday, the Illinois players wore an understated tribute on their heads: a silhouette of the state of Illinois with 10 stars arranged in the shape of an “I” inside of it.  Those 10 stars represent the 10 football players who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country in the armed forces, giving their lives in combat for our freedom.

Illini Tribute Helmet

Illini Combat Heroes

Well done, Illini.  Well done.

SAY WHAT?
As embarrassing as the loss was for West Virginia, it was an even bigger relief for Kansas.  The Jayhawks’ 31-19 win over the Mountaineers snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak that was the longest negative league streak among AQ schools.  Prior to Saturday afternoon, KU’s last conference win came on Nov. 6, 2010 against Colorado.  You had to go all the way back to Oct. 10, 2009 (Iowa State) for the Jayhawks’ last win over a current member of the conference.  Since playing in the Orange Bowl following the 2007 season and prior to the WVU win, KU had gone 6-42 in Big 12 play, with four of those wins coming in 2008.

TRUE STORY
Oklahoma’s 48-10 win over Iowa State was the 157th of Bob Stoops‘ career with the Sooners, tying Barry Switzer for the most wins in school history.  In 15 seasons, Stoops has gone 156-39 (.796); Switzer went 157-29-4 (.837) in 15 seasons.  In those 15 seasons under Switzer, the Sooners collected three national championships and won or shared 12 Big 8 titles.  In his 16 seasons, Stoops has laid claim to one BCS title and eight won or shared Big 12 championships.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– The number of undefeated teams remained static from a week ago: Alabama, Florida State, Northern Illinois and Ohio State at 10-0, Baylor and Fresno State at 9-0.  The same held true on the other side of the won-loss ledger, with Georgia State, Hawaii, Miami of Ohio and Southern Miss at 0-10, and UConn at 0-9.  It should be noted that the Rainbow Warriors took San Diego State to overtime before remaining winless.

– While Andre Williams was impressive in rushing for 339 yards, he wasn’t the top ground performer in college football this weekend.  Not even close, actually.  D-III running back Cartel Brooks rushed for 465 yards, setting an all-division NCAA record in the process.  That record had been 455 yards… and was set just three weeks ago by D-III Western Connecticut’s Octavias McKoy.

Kapri Bibbs– Coming off a 312-yard, four-touchdown performance last weekend, Colorado State’s Kapri Bibbs ran for 291 yards and a program-record six touchdowns in the win over New Mexico.

Carlos Hyde ran for a career-high 246 yards and score five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) as Ohio State remained unbeaten on the season with a win over Illinois.

– The day of the running back continues as Kansas’ James Sims‘ 211 yards and three touchdowns helped the Jayhawks snap their lengthy Big 12 skid.

AJ McCarron set one Alabama record and tied another in the win over Mississippi State.  The senior now has 8,146 yards of total offense in his career, surpassing John Parker Wilson‘s 8,099 yards from 2005-08.  The win was also the 35th of his career, tying him with Jay Barker (1991-94) in that category.

– Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay threw for a career-best 405 yards and four TDs in the Bearcats’ 52-17 thumping of Rutgers.

Allen Robinson now has 78 catches on the season, breaking the Penn State record of 77 he set in 2012.

– Texas Tech began the 2013 season by winning its first seven games.  The last four games, all losses, the Red Raiders have been outscored 202-124.

– Alabama streak of seven straight wins by at least 21 points was snapped Saturday night.  The SEC record for consecutive wins by 21-plus points still belongs to Florida alone, which won eight straight such games in 2008.

James Franklin– Vanderbilt is bowl-eligible for the third straight season, the first time that’s happened in the football program’s history.

– Ole Miss totaled a school-record 751 yards of offense (382 passing, 369 rushing) as the Rebels waylaid Troy 51-21.

– In Clemson’s 55-31 throttling of Georgia Tech Thursday night, Tajh Boyd completed 20 of his 26 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns.  The senior also added a rushing touchdown.  Boyd now has 97 career touchdown passes, breaking the mark of 95 previously held by North Carolina State’s Philip Rivers.

– For the fourth time in his career, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato passed for more than 400 yards (456) in a single game as the Herd got past Tulsa Thursday night, 45-34, to remain tied atop the Conference USA East standings with East Carolina.  The junior passed for 400 yards-plus three times in the first five games last season.

Jordan Lynch passed for 345 yards, ran for 123 more, tossed two touchdown passes and scored two on the ground as Northern Illinois remained unbeaten with their 48-27 win over Ball State Wednesday night.  It was the first time this season and third time in his career he’s passed for 300-plus and rushed for 100-plus in the same game, with one of those being a 400/100 game.

– Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata also passed for a career high 497 yards in the Bulls’ 51-41 loss to Toledo Tuesday night.  The sophomore’s previous career-high was 285 yards in a win over Western Michigan last November.

–  A dozen different Yellow Jackets were credited with at least one rushing attempt in the loss to Clemson, the seventh time in 10 contests this season run-heavy Georgia Tech has used double-digit ball carriers in a single game.

Marshall 75 HelmetIN CLOSING…
Say what you want about the negative headlines some college football players make for off-field escapades, but the vast majority of young men at this level of the game are good folk and quality people.  Case in point: the Marshall Thundering Herd.  Thursday night, Marshall debuted helmets that featured the number “75” on the left side, with that number honoring the 75 souls lost in the tragic plane crash on Nov. 14, 1970.  The plan was for the special helmet to be a one-shot deal.  However, the school announced via a press release Saturday that a decision has been made to wear the helmets for the remainder of the season… because the players requested that the tribute continue. “Remembering those 75 people isn’t about one day; it’s about a mentality here,” head coach Doc Holliday said.  More than anything, those Herd players showed that the memories of those who perished in that tragedy will not fade away with the passing of time.  And that the word “respect” still means something.

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Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks ties Bear Bryant for sixth all-time with 323 wins

Ken Sparks

The football programs at Carson-Newman University and the University of Alabama have next to nothing in common beyond playing the same sport.

Until now.

Carson-Newman, a Division II school in Johnson City, Tenn., stormed back from a 35-27 halftime deficit to defeat Tusculum College 55-35 on Saturday, giving head coach Ken Sparks his 323rd all-time win. The victory moves Sparks – now 323-87-2 at Carson-Newman, a job he’s held continuously since 1980 – into a tie for sixth-place on the all-time victories chart with legendary Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who went 323-85-17 from 1945 to 1982.

“I told (my players) if anybody wanted to talk about the number of victories that I had, you tell them that I didn’t play a play,” Sparks told the Associated Press.

Sparks, 70, is now within striking distance of the top five, trailing legendary Mount Union coach Larry Kehres by just 10 victories. Saint John’s head coach John Gagliardi holds the all-time wins record at 489, followed by Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (408), Howard, West Virginia and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden (377), pre-modern era titan Glenn “Pop” Warner (336) and Kehres (332).

Sparks was diagnosed with prostate cancer over the summer of 2012, and earned his 300th career victory in his first game after the diagnosis.

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Upon further review, ACC defends offensive pass interference penalty against Notre Dame

Notre Dame at Florida State

Just as surgeons are highly unlikely to announce they botched it, officials are very reluctant to announce one of their one got it wrong. Especially in a high-profile case like the decisive call that took Notre Dame’s would-be game-winning touchdown off the board Saturday night at Florida State.

NDFSU

In the wake of the call, the ACC trotted coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads out to explain the ruling.

“Offensive players on passing plays are restricted from going downfield and blocking anytime from the snap,” he said. “If the ball is first touched behind the line of scrimmage then that would be legal and it’s okay, but if it’s touched beyond the line then it’s offensive pass interference.”

Instead of kicking an extra point to take a 34-31 lead over second-ranked and defending national champion Florida State, Notre Dame faced a fourth-and-goal from the 18-yard line. Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson was pressured by Seminoles defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and his hurried pass sailed through the back of the end zone untouched. Final score: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27.

Rhoads’ explanation isn’t going to make the loss any easier to swallow for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. In fact, Kelly said he had less clarity about the penalty a day later than he did when the flag first hit the Doak Campbell Stadium grass.

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Criticism of USC DC Justin Wilcox reportedly at core of spat between LenDale White and Pat Haden

LenDale White carries the ball Getty Images

“You can win championships for this program,” former USC running back LenDale White told the Los Angeles Times Saturday, “but you can’t voice your opinion.”

That opinion White is talking about is the opinion the former Trojan holds of USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. White tweeted the following during last Saturday’s game with Arizona, which USC eventually won on a last-second missed field goal.

Fast forward to Saturday. According to InsideSoCal.com, athletics director Pat Haden – no stranger to sideline drama - confronted White about his tweets, and the two began arguing. Following USC’s 56-28 defeat of Colorado, White tweeted the following:

The USC athletics department denies Haden kicked White out of L.A. Coliseum. Reached on the field following the game, White told the L.A. Times, “I’ve never met some of these coaches. I’ve never been a part of them. I am a Trojan 20,000%. I back them 120%. I just get emotional during football games. I’m sorry.”

Minutes later, White had changed his mind. “I feel that exact same way as I did last week,” White said, before the paper quoted him shouting, “Fire Sark tonight.” Again, this was minutes after USC won a conference game by 28 points. It’s also worth noting Sarkisian was USC’s quarterbacks coach during White’s freshman and junior seasons.

“I think LenDale is a passionate guy,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said of his former running back. “He loves USC. We all want to win. We are all passionate about what we do. It is what it is.”

Indeed, Mr. White. Indeed.

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South Carolina may face No. 5 Auburn without two defensive players

South Carolina has a chance to pull off a major U-turn on what has been a disappointing 2014 season with a win over No. 5 Auburn Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it appears the Gamecocks must do so without two defensive contributors.

Senior defensive tackle J.T. Surratt suffered a pulled hamstring during yesterday’s 41-1o over Furman and will likely miss his chance to defend Nick Marshall and company.

“He’s probably doubtful to get back this week,”  Steve Spurrier told AL.com in a Sunday evening teleconference. “J.T., one of our senior captains, we’ll miss him in there. Hopefully some of the other guys can fill in admirably.”

Additionally, back-up weak-side linebacker Jonathan Walton suffered a mild concussion Saturday and is doubtful this week.

Surratt has 14 tackles and a sack this season, while Walton has collected 21 tackles and a fumble recovery.

South Carolina has the SEC’s 12th-ranked total defense, ranks 13th in scoring defense and is dead last in yards per play allowed (6.21), while Auburn ranks third in the conference in scoring and fourth in both total offense and yards per play.

Tight end Rory Anderson is also questionable after injuring his triceps on Saturday, but Spurrier hopes to get him back on the practice field this week. Anderson has 18 grabs for 204 yards and a touchdown on the year.

Auburn and South Carolina will meet at 7:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network.

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West Virginia President Gordon Gee calls post-Baylor win riots “criminal”

Gordon Gee

West Virginia toppled No. 4 Baylor 41-27 on Saturday afternoon in the biggest win since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012. The good news, of course, was that the home team won. The bad news? A noon kickoff meant the game ended around 4 p.m. local time, leaving plenty of time for the blue and gold faithful to, uh, celebrate the win.

Enthusiasm – if you want to call it that – built throughout the evening, eventually metastasizing into overturned vehicles and neighborhood street fires.

“We had fires in residential neighborhoods. We had where they tried to flip vehicles over in other places,” Morgantown police chief Ed Preston told WVMetroNews.com.

Like a true cancer, when one area would come under control of the police, the riots would spread to another area of town.

“As they were broken up or dispersed, other gatherings would occur in other parts of the city. Sometimes two, three, four gatherings were occurring at a time at various locations throughout the city,” Preston said.

And now what should have been a priceless day full of free publicity turned into an another ugly episode for a school that has become known for them.

Watch West Virginia president Gordon Gee’s mood transition from exuberance to disappointment to anger over the course of the day through his Twitter timeline.

“This is not acceptable Mountaineer behavior,” Gee told the paper. “It is not ‘partying’ to set fires, tear down fences or throw bottles at police. It is criminal and will be dealt with as such. I have zero tolerance for students who wish to act in such a way that it demeans the achievements of our institution and its faculty, staff, students, alumni and our Morgantown community.”

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USC QB Cody Kessler, WVU DL Shaq Riddick earn Walter Camp Player of the Week honors

Cody Kessler

USC quarterback Cody Kessler and West Virginia defensive lineman Shaq Riddick have earned Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors following outstanding efforts on Saturday.

Kessler set a USC single-game record for passing touchdowns – consider what that statement means for a moment – with seven scoring strikes in a 56-28 blowout over Colorado. His seven touchdown passes came on 19-of-26 passing for 319 yards, a passer rating of 264.98. Even better, Kessler was a scorching hot 11-of-16 for 159 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter alone as the Trojans sprinted to a 28-0 lead.

Kessler’s seven touchdowns tied a single-game record for the Pac-12 Conference, and his five first-half touchdowns tied a school record for touchdown passes in one half. It was also the fourth time Kessler has thrown for 300 yards or more in his career.

Riddick wreaked all sorts of havoc on Baylor’s undefeated record by collecting five tackles (four solo), three sacks and four tackles for loss in a 41-27 upset of the then fourth-ranked Bears. Riddick’s effort helped limit Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty to 16 completions in 36 attempts, and a season-low 95 rushing yards, nearly half their previous low of 189 yards in a 63-21 win at Buffalo.

The win pushed West Virginia back into the AP and Coaches’ poll for the first time in nearly two full years, the Mountaineers’ first appearance since Oct. 28, 2012.

 

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Who is the best team in the Big Ten?

Big 10 Championship Game - Ohio State v Michigan State Getty Images

With the drive to the College Football Playoff now about to hit fifth gear, the Big Ten is creeping up in the rear-view mirrors of the Pac-12 and Big 12. As those conferences begin to pick themselves apart and SEC West cannibalism about to get really interesting, the Big Ten could once again be fielding two teams worth considering in the playoff hunt; Michigan State and Ohio State. So, which team has the best case to represent the Big Ten in the College Football Playoff?

Both Michigan State and Ohio State lost their premier non-conference match-ups this season. The Spartans let one get away on the road against Oregon. Ohio State lost at home to Virginia Tech. Since then though, both teams have hit a stride and continue to string together strong performances. The Spartans dodged a bullet last week on the road at Purdue and followed that up by managing to pull away from Indiana on the road once again this week. Ohio State has been more convincing in recent weeks with blowouts of Big Ten newcomers Maryland and Rutgers. The two programs appear to be heading toward the Big Ten’s game of the year in East Lansing trending in slightly different directions, but the rematch of last season’s Big Ten championship game should bring out the best in both teams.

Neither team should be looking ahead, but Michigan State and Ohio State should be considered solid favorites in Big Ten play this week. Michigan State hosts Michigan. Ohio State plays on the road at Penn State. Both the Wolverines and Nittany Lions had bye weeks to prepare for these tests, but considering the state of each program, Michigan State and Ohio State should still have a decided advantage once the teams take the field. Assuming both get by without being upset this week, the stage will begin to be set for the colossal meeting on November 8. Michigan State has a bye week after playing Michigan and Ohio State has a home game against Illinois.

With the discussion about best one-loss teams starting to pick up steam, it will be important to know just how the College Football Playoff selection committee would view each potentially one-loss team with a Big Ten championship. The Spartans, in theory, could go 12-1 with a Big Ten championship game victory over a potentially ranked Nebraska or perhaps Wisconsin (or Minnesota?). A victory over a ranked Ohio State team would be nice as well, but up agianst a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Oregon would likely give the Ducks an edge if it came down to one spot remaining.

How would a one-loss Ohio State be viewed though? The Buckeyes have certainly played better on a weekly basis and quarterback J.T. Barrett has come a long way since his week two defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech. Would Ohio State be rewarded for improving along the way? If injuries are to be taken into consideration, would the committee not recognize Ohio State was playing with an inexperienced quarterback against Virginia Tech after losing Braxton Miller for the year, and would the committee not consider how the team has played as the season played out?

This is all hypothetical conversation, of course. One of these teams will lose at least one more game, but the Big Ten’s two best teams are beginning to warrant the same kind of consideration a number of other one-loss teams might be getting.

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A quick briefing on the Big 12 tiebreakers, just in case

Kansas State v Oklahoma Getty Images

After winning on the road at Oklahoma and Baylor stumbled on the road at West Virginia on Saturday, Kansas State currently sits on top of the Big 12 standings. The Wildcats are 3-0 in conference play, but the three teams right behind Bill Snyder’s team share an identical 3-1 conference mark. West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State are all 3-1, and TCU is 2-1. There is still a good chance this conference sorts itself out without much controversy, but as we sit here in mid-October it might be worth taking a quick look at the Big 12 tiebreaker, just in case we need them later on.

The most simple tiebreaker is the two-team tiebreaker. In the event two teams tie for first place in the Big 12 at the end of the season, the winner of the regular season’s head-to-head match-up will be rewarded with the Big 12’s spot in the Sugar Bowl or alternate bowl spot. The Big 12 has a deal with the Sugar Bowl, but if the Big 12 champion is not chosen to play in the College Football Playoff, the Big 12 champion will be placed in another bowl game, perhaps the Fiesta or Orange. So, if West Virginia and Baylor end the season tied for the Big 12’s best record, the Mountaineers would get the bowl spot.

It gets more complicated once more than two teams are involved. The following four steps will be used until a winner is chosen. The steps will be used to eliminate one team from any tie-breaking scenarios until there is just one remaining. Per the Big 12’s official website, the tiebreaker procedures for more than two teams are;

  1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other
  2. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed team(s) in the conference (4, 5 and 6….).
  3. The highest ranked team in the first College Football Playoff poll following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative unless the two highest ranked tied teams are ranked within one spot of the other in the College Football Playoff poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the College Football Playoff.
  4. The representative will be chosen by draw.

Ah yes, the Big 12 could come down to a good old-fashioned draw. How appropriate. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that point. Kansas State can do everyone a favor and run the table to avoid any potential headaches.

The Big 12 tweaked these procedures as a formality before the start of the season. The third tiebreaker used to go off BCS rankings, but because there are no more BCS rankings the conference had to adjust.

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Top Five in the Group of Five

Colorado State vs Utah State

The chase for a spot in one of the access bowls under the College Football Playoff format is starting to really heat up, but East Carolina still seems to hold enough of a lead over the rest of the field. Marshall has the best chance to stay undefeated, but Colorado State is making some serious noise right now as well.

Here is how I would rate the top five contenders in the Group of Five (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference) right now.

1. East Carolina (5-1)

The Pirates have tow victories over ACC schools, Virgina Tech and North Carolina. Both of those schools could be going to a bowl game this season. East Carolina would probably love to have another crack at South Carolina. The Gamecocks handed ECU its only loss of the season in week two, but have stumbled since then. Throw ECU in the best one-loss team category if you wish, but it should be access bowl or bust the rest of the way.

2. Colorado State (6-1)

After winning a defensive battle against Utah State, the Rams are now eligible for postseason play and have won five straight games. Like East Carolina, Colorado State also owns two victories over power conference teams, Colorado from the Pac-12 and Boston College from the ACC. Both of these wins came on the road, or at least away from home (Colorado was on a neutral field in Denver). The only loss came at Boise State, but the Rams are in a good spot now to win the Mountain Division if Boise State stumbles.

3. Marshall (7-0)

Yes, the Thundering Herd are undefeated but they lack any real signature victories. Rakeem Cato is a record-setting quarterback and will continue to rack up huge numbers to keep Marshall in the hunt, but the Conference USA favorites will probably need some help in order to get by East Carolina or Colorado State even with a perfect record.

4. Boise State (5-2)/Air Force (5-2)

Feel free to take your pick here. Air Force owns a head-to-head victory over the Broncos, but Boise State has defeated Colorado State and now a loss to Ole Miss on a neutral field isn’t looking too terrible. Boise State has also just beaten Nevada and Fresno State in cross-division match-ups. The Falcons, on the other hand, need one more win to become bowl eligible and should easily be able to pick that up with a somewhat favorable schedule remaining. They even get Colorado State at home in the final week of the season, and now that game could be pretty significant.

5. Georgia Southern* (5-2)

Yes, the newest member of the Sun Belt Conference deserves some praise. Off to a 4-0 start in its new FBS conference home, Georgia Southern has  made it clear to the rest of the Sun Belt they intend to compete right away. Georgia Southern’s two losses have come on the road against ACC opponents, but the Eagles gave North Carolina State and Georgia Tech all they could handle and lost by a combined five points in those games. Still some work to do, but Georgia Southern may be playing the best football in this conference.

* It should be noted Georgia Southern is not eligible to participate in the postseason as a first-year FBS school. Georgia Southern is eligible to win the Sun Belt Conference championship, but it will be prohibited form playing ina  postseason bowl game until 2015.

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Marshall’s Rakeem Cato sets NCAA record for consecutive games with TD pass

Rakeem Cato

Marshall trailed early on the road against FIU on Saturday, but quarterback Rakeem Cato still led the Thundering Herd to a win to remain undefeated. He did so while making some history as well. Cato’s first of four touchdowns on Saturday set the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Saturday’s game was the 39th straight game Cato has thrown a touchdown. The record (38 games) was previously held by Russell Wilson of NC State and Wisconsin.

”It was a team effort for all 39 games and we still got more games to play,” Cato said after the 45-13 victory. ”We’ve got to keep finding a way to find seven points.”

Through seven games, Cato has passed for 1,912 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions. His play is a large reason why Marshall is one of the four remaining undefeated teams and also why Marshall will remain in the hunt for an access bowl spot among the Group of Five contenders. East Carolina likely still has the edge in that category, and Colorado State has a pretty decent case as well.

There will be some talk that Heisman Trophy voters should be paying attention to what Cato has done as a result of this record, but keep in mind the Heisman Trophy is an annual award and not a career achievement award. That said, Cato is piling up some huge numbers, but his odds of being recognized by the Heisman voters are still slim due to the level of competition Cato is facing. This is not a slight on Cato’s achievements, but more so a dose of reality. Cato may have a shot to be invited to the Heisman presentation in New York if he keeps this up, but in the end he will have as realistic a chance to win the Heisman as players like quarterback Kellen Moore of Boise State or former Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.

But he sure is darn fun to watch.

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FSU still No. 2, Miss. State remains on top of coaches poll

Jameis Winston

Florida State actually lost ground following a win over Notre Dame, and Mississippi State remains on top of the Amway Coaches Poll this week.

Mississippi State remains in first place in the coaches poll with 36 first-place votes. Florida State follows in second place once again this week, now with 22 first-place votes. Ole Miss picked up the remaining four first-place votes in this week’s coaches poll and remains ranked third. Alabama moved up three spots this week following a demolishing victory over Texas A&M. The one-loss Crimson Tide are now ranked fourth in the coaches poll, followed by Michigan State, Auburn and Oregon. Notre Dame dropped three spots following the loss at Florida State, and is now ranked eighth, followed by Georgia and TCU to round-out the top 10.

No. 11 Kansas State moved up three spots following a road win at Oklahoma.. Ohio State moved up one spot to pass falling Baylor behind the Wildcats. No. 14 Arizona State and No. 15 Arizona continue to stand side-by-side in the rankings as well. No. 16 Nebraska jumped up three spots this week, passing idle East Carolina (No. 17) and old rival Oklahoma. The Sooners dropped seven spots to No. 18. Utah and Clemson wrap up the top 20.

No. 21 USC (up four spots), is followed by No. 22 Marshall (up two spots). No. 23 LSU is back in the coaches poll. Minnesota also debuts at No. 24 and West Virginia makes an appearance at No. 25.

Oklahoma State, Stanford and Texas A&M all dropped out of the coaches poll this week.

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Week 8, Statistically Speaking

stats word on a lptop computer

A numerical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

0 — Rushing yards for Tennessee as it was tripped up by Ole Miss in Oxford.  Three different Vols had negative yards rushing, led by quarterback Justin Worley‘s minus-41.

0 — Through seven games, the number of interceptions Wyoming has, the only team in the country to not yet pick off a pass this season.

1 — True road games each played by Ohio State, Texas and Wisconsin through eight weeks, the lowest total at the FBS level. The Badgers don’t play on the road again until Nov. 1 (Rutgers), while the Buckeyes and Longhorns will travel to Penn State and Kansas State, respectively, next weekend.

1-2 — Oklahoma’s record since Katy Perry propositioned quarterback Trevor Knight on ESPN‘s GameDay show prior to the loss to TCU.  Knight has thrown a pick-six in both losses, including the “upset” at the hands of Kansas State.

2 — Number of wins shy Ohio State’s current 18-game Big Ten winning streak is from tying the Buckeyes’ conference record of 20 straight set in 2005-07.

2 — FBS quarterbacks who have attempted at least 100 passes without an interception this season, with both coming from the Pac-12: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (188) and Utah’s Travis Wilson (111).

4 — Non-offensive touchdowns (punt return, kick return, interception return, fumble return) in Missouri’s 42-13 pasting of Florida that could very well mark the end of the Will Muschamp error era.

4-3 — South Carolina’s record in 2014, its worst to start a season since 2005. That year also happened to be Steve Spurrier‘s first season with the Gamecocks.

5 — Since 1944, the number of times Duke has started a season 6-1 or better: 7-0 in 1994, 6-1 in 2014, 1960, 1953 and 1952.

7 — School-record touchdown passes Cody Kessler tossed in USC’s blowout win over Colorado.  Kessler threw those seven touchdowns in just 27 attempts.

8 — Consecutive games in which Clint Trickett has thrown for 300-plus yards, including 322 in West Virginia’s upset of Baylor in Morgantown in Week 8.  That extends Trickett’s school record he set earlier this season.

8.8 — Yards per carry average on 15 attempts by Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, the nation’s leading rusher, in the loss to Michigan State.  MSU came into the game giving up 2.8 yards per carry, good for ninth in the country.

9 — Boise State players who caught passes in Friday night’s win over Fresno State, none of whom totaled more than 43 yards receiving.

13 — Nation’s longest current home winning streak by Alabama, Auburn and Baylor. Marshall, at 11 in a row, has the longest of the Group of Five schools.

14 — Fewest number of 100-yard rushers allowed since 2005, by Alabama. Following the Tide are Ohio State (19) and Boston College (21).

29 — Unanswered points scored by Nevada to overcome a 28-13 halftime deficit in beating BYU 42-35.

30 — Number of consecutive opponents Stanford has held under 30 points, the longest such streak in the country. Louisville and Ole Miss are tied for second at 14 straight.

35 — Points in the second quarter of Alabama’s woodshedding of Texas A&M, the most in a quarter in program history (records dating from 1945 to present). The previous high was 34 at Ole Miss on Oct. 7, 1989. The 56-point win was the Tide’s largest margin of victory since downing Vanderbilt 66-3 on Sept. 29, 1979 and the largest shutout win since beating Tulane 62-0 on Oct. 12, 1991.

37.9Jeff Driskel‘s quarterback rating in Florida’s embarrassing loss to Missouri.  The NCAA’s official stats website lists 114 quarterbacks in its passing efficiency ratings; Driskel is dead last at 95.5.

38-3 — Record of Urban Meyer-coached teams coming off bye weeks, which Ohio State defines as “season openers, games after an ‘off’ or open week, and bowl games.” Meyer went 5-1 at Bowling Green, 7-0 at Utah, 19-1 at Florida and is 7-1 at Ohio State. The three losses were to Miami of Ohio while at BGSU in 2001; to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl following the 2007 season; and to Clemson in the Orange Bowl following the 2013 season.

39 — Total number of points SMU has scored this season in six games. There are 13 teams averaging more points per game than the Mustangs have put on the scoreboard in 2014.

39 — Marshall’s Rakeem Cato consecutive game streak of throwing a touchdown pass, breaking his tie of 38 straight he had held for a week along with Russell Wilson. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (33 straight) can surpass Wilson’s old mark this season as well. Mariota, incidentally, has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game in which he’s played the past two-plus seasons, while Cato didn’t throw one in three of the first seven games of his Herd career (2011) but has thrown one in every game since.

43 — Kansas State has won that many games in a row when leading at halftime, including Saturday’s road win against Oklahoma.  That’s the best current streak in the nation and three behind tying OU’s all-time record of 46 straight.

53 — Unranked opponents in a row beaten by Alabama, tops in the nation. The Tide’s last loss to a non-Top-25 team was in 2007 to Louisiana-Monroe. Clemson is a distant second with (23) in a row.

100 — Wins for Div. III Wisconsin Whitewater’s Larry Leipold in his first 106 games, making him the fastest head coach to reach the century mark in college football history.  Michigan’s Fielding Yost had held the all-division record at 108 for over a century, with Yost’s 100th win coming during the 1908 season.

150 — Receiving yards running back Jahad Thomas had on three receptions during Temple’s loss to Houston Friday night.  Two of Thomas’ receptions went for 74 and 72 yards, although neither resulted in a touchdown.  The sophomore came into the contest with 66 receiving yards in his career.

194 — David Cobb‘s rushing total in Minnesota’s 39-38 win over Purdue that pushed the Gophers to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1990 and made them bowl-eligible for the third year in a row as well.

197 — Receiving yards for Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard, on 15 receptions, in the loss to Kansas State.  The junior’s topped 100 yards receiving in five of seven games this season, including efforts of 215 and 177.

202 — In his second game replacing Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb‘s rushing yards in Georgia’s easy win over Arkansas in Little Rock.  Along with Herschel Walker and Rodney Hampton, Chubb is one of three UGA freshmen to rush for 200-plus yards in a single game.

216 — Career-high receiving yards for Carlos Harris in North Texas’ loss to Southern Miss.  His previous career high was 120 set two weeks ago.

Josh Doctson

Josh Doctson

225 — Receiving yards for TCU’s Josh Doctson in the win over Oklahoma State, one shy of the school record 226 by Jimmy Young against Wyoming in October of 2008.

250 — Mississippi State and Ohio State are both averaging more than that number per game in both rushing and passing yards, the only two teams coming out of Week 8 that can make that claim.

287 — Combined rushing yards for Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford in Michigan State’s thumping of Indiana.  Hill, incidentally, averaged 11.1 yards on his 16 carries.

313 — Combined rushing yards for Drew Hare and Cameron Stingily in Northern Illinois’ win over Miami of Ohio.

314 — After 272 in Week 8, number of yards Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion needs to surpass USC’s Matt Barkley (12,327, 2009-12) as the Pac-12’s career leader in passing yards.  This week, Mannion passed another former USC quarterback, Carson Palmer (11,818, 1998-2202), for No. 2 on the conference’s all-time list.

 323 – Career victories by Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks, tying him with Alabama legend Bear Bryant for sixth on the NCAA’s career list.

333-104 — Cumulative score of the USC-Colorado series, with the Trojans owning a 9-0 all-time advantage.

351 — Penalties yards for both teams in West Virginia’s win over Baylor.  The Bears had 213 of those yards, eclipsing the Big 12 record of 183 set by Texas Tech in 2007.  The FBS record for one team, incidentally, is 238 (Arizona State vs. UTEP 1961), while the Div. I record for two teams is 421 (Grambling vs. Texas Southern 1977).

360 — Career-high in passing yards for Colin Reardon in Kent State’s win over Army.

364 — Days between Texas Tech’s last Big 12 win (37-27 over West Virginia Oct. 19, 2013) and its most recent (34-21 over Kansas Oct. 18, 2014).

408 — Passing yards for BYU’s Christian Stewart in a losing effort to Nevada.

416 — Yards of total offense (321 passing, 95 rushing) for Tyrone Swoopes in Texas’ win over Iowa State.

424 — Yards of total offense (330 passing, 94 rushing) for Brett Hundley in UCLA’s win over Cal.

441 — Rushing yards for Appalachian State in its 53-14 blowout of Troy.  The Mountaineers averaged 8.2 yards on their 54 carries.

463 — Yards of total offense (390 passing, 73 rushing) for Marquise Williams in North Carolina’s win over Georgia Tech, the second-highest total in Tar Heels history.  Williams also set school records for completions in a game (38) and a half (23).

489 — Games, out of 490, in which BYU has scored in since 1975, the lone exception being a 3-0 loss to Utah in 2003.

551 — Yards in receptions for Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins the last three games, including 187 in the three-point win over Utah State.

563 — Yards Utah’s Devontae Booker has gained the last three games after rushing for just 179 the first three. 229 of those yards came in the double-overtime win over Oregon State Thursday night.

1,000 — With 1,024 yards this season, Ameer Abdullah becomes the first player in the storied history of Nebraska football to rush for 1,000-plus yards in three straight seasons.

1,065 — Days since Michael Dyer‘s last 100-yard rushing game.  The running back rushed for 173 yards in Louisville’s win over North Carolina State, his first 100-plus rushing effort since a 157-yard performance against Samford Nov. 19, 2011, when he was a member of the Auburn Tigers.

1940 — Until Saturday, the last year Notre Dame had lost its seventh game of the year after starting a season 6-0. The loss to Florida State snapped a 15-game winning streak in such contests.

1990 — Last year Minnesota had started its season 3-0 in Big Ten play before it moved to that mark with the one-point win over Purdue.

106,795 — Attendance at Ohio Stadium Saturday, the largest crowd to witness a Rutgers football game in its 145-year history

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Sumlin says Texas A&M loss was “unacceptable and embarrassing”

Kevin Sumlin

Some coaches say there are performances that make you just want to burn the game film and never speak of it again. If Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin subscribes to that philosophy, this weekend’s loss at Alabama may see the game film burned right away in College Station. Alabama thumped the Aggies in Tuscaloosa to the tune of a 59-0, with a 35-0 second quarter dropping the hammer on a Texas A&M program that has been slowly and surely slipping in the rankings and standings since its season-opening victory at South Carolina. Sumlin did not mince words when summing up his team’s performance on Saturday.

“However you put it, that performance was unacceptable and embarrassing,” Sumlin said after the game. “Alabama had a lot to do with that. We’ve got to get back to work and examine where we are.”

So where does Texas A&M go from here? The Aggies have a bye week to start to regroup, but when Texas A&M gets back on the field Sumlin does not expect to see too many changes with the roster, including quarterback.

“I’m not talking about wholesale changes,” Sumlin said. “Whenever something like this happens, you can’t stick your head in the sand and just keep doing the same stuff. You’ve got to make some changes. What those are, I couldn’t tell you right now. But the bye week comes at a good time for us.”

Sumlin was asked about his thoughts on the quarterback situation and whether a change may be coming. Kenny Hill was pressured by Alabama until he was relieved of his on-field duties by freshman Kyle Allen. Sumlin said it was a move to try and generate any kind of a spark, but Hill will likely remain the starter under center moving forward. After the game Hill suggested Texas A&M did not play as hard as Alabama, but was at a loss of words to explain how it happened.

“They played a lot harder than we did, it felt like,” Hill said in his postgame media session. “I wish I could tell you. It’s something we’re trying to figure out.” Hill suggested the team is lacking confidence on offense and needs to get it back to start rolling.

Texas A&M better hope to get its confidence back quickly. The Aggies will play Louisiana-Monroe after the bye week, with a win clinching bowl eligibility for the Aggies. After that, Texas A&M ends the season against Auburn, Missouri and LSU.

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Baylor loses another starting offensive lineman to season-ending injury

Seth Russell, Troy Baker

Baylor’s loss on the road at West Virginia came with a hefty penalty, and now one of the 18 penalties for a Big 12 record 215 penalty yards either. Troy Baker, a starting right tackle on the Baylor offensive line, tore his ACL according to head coach Art Briles. The injury brings an end to the playing career for the Baylor senior, and also leads to some offensive line concerns moving through the second half of the season for the defending Big 12 champions.

Just a few days ago Baylor lost starting right guard Desmine Hillard for the remainder of the season. A wrist injury in a win against TCU required surgery and will keep him out for the rest of the season. Unless Baylor completely shuffles the line around, this will leave Baylor having to go the rest fo the season with a pair of back-up linemen on the right side of the line to protect quarterback Bryce Petty. Sophomore Jason Osei is listed as Baker’s primary back-up on the team’s most recent two-deep depth chart. Jarrell Braxton took over for the injured Hilliard against West Virginia and is expected to continue in that role the rest of the season.

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Time to debate which one-loss team is the best

Florida v Alabama Getty Images

There may be just four undefeated teams remaining in college football, but the real watch is on the one-loss teams that are now battling for positioning in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee. This much is certain; there will be a team with at least one loss in the College Football Playoff. With four spots to fill and a maximum of three undefeated teams possible this season and one undefeated not expected to be considered for playoff consideration, the debates will carry on over which one-loss team has the best overall profile.

There are a number of teams with one loss with a solid case to make for a playoff push if they can keep winning football games. There are others who may face an uphill battle due to upcoming schedules or other factors. Here are the one-loss teams, broken into two categories based on the chance they can make a playoff case or not.

THE TOP CANDIDATES

Alabama (6-1) – Crimson Tide coming off a resounding thumping of Texas A&M, will host Mississippi State and Auburn later this year.

Auburn (5-1) – Off this week but Tigers have a challenging schedule remaining including resurgent Georgia and Alabama.

Baylor (6-1) – Suffered first loss at West Virginia, still has Oklahoma on the schedule too.

Georgia (6-1) – Clearly the best in the SEC East, favorable schedule includes home game against Auburn.

Kansas State (5-1) – Coming off huge win at Oklahoma, in first place in Big 12. Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor still to play.

Michigan State (6-1) – Still holding on to team-to-beat status in Big Ten for now, but still has Ohio State on schedule.

Mississippi State (6-0)/Ole Miss (7-0) – Both are currently undefeated, but will face each other in final game of regular season, so we’ll include them each in this conversation for now.

Nebraska (6-1) – Cornhuskers have a manageable path to Big Ten championship game but road trips to Wisconsin and Iowa not automatic.

Notre Dame (6-1) – Irish pushed Florida State to the limit and still has road games against Arizona State and USC.

Ohio State (5-1) – Buckeyes have been getting stronger each week since losing to Virginia Tech. Road trip to Michigan State looms.

Oregon (6-1) – Best team in the Pac-12? Oregon still has to solve Stanford’s defense and a road trip to Utah looks a bit more imposing now.

TCU (5-1) – The big tests are now behind TCU, but road trip to West Virginia followed by home vs. Kansas State could be challenging.

THE OTHERS

Arizona (5-1)/Arizona State (5-1) – These Pac-12 rivals still have to play each other, so one will be knocked down to a minimum of two losses. Arizona State also gets Notre Dame at home. Arizona plays at UCLA and both have Utah remaining.

Colorado State (6-1) – Rams will not enter playoff discussion, but a case is beginning to become stronger for access bowl consideration. Rams probably get edge over undefeated Marshall.

Duke (6-1) – Duke could very well be heading back to the ACC Championship Game this season, but can they get by Florida State in a rematch? ACC Coastal still wide open too, but Duke is capable of getting through it.

East Carolina (5-1) – East Carolina would love to have that South Carolina game back. Pirates will not enter playoff conversation, but currently feel like leader among pack for Group of Five access bowl spot.

Minnesota (6-1) – Gophers off to a terrific start (only loss at TCU), but Minnesota faces brutal second half schedule with Iowa, Ohio State, @ Nebraska, @ Wisconsin to end season.

Utah (5-1) – Utes also off to great start but face challenging second half with games against USC, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona in consecutive weeks.


Which one-loss team do you feel has the best chance to reach the College Football Playoff? Starting next week (October 28) we will all get a sense of how teams are stacking up in the eyes of the selection committee. The selection committee will begin sharing its top 25 ranking to allow for an inside look at the committee’s logic.

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