College Overtime (cont.)
Smaller story, but I'm sure you're following it ...
The game of the weekend -- and quite possibly the wildest finish of the year -- came in No. 13 Houston's 46-45 win at Tulsa on Saturday. How improbable was the ending? On Sunday morning I spoke with a fellow writer who turned off the game with a few seconds remaining and was under the impression that Houston lost.
Down 45-37 with 3:28 remaining, Cougars star Case Keenum -- who posted another ridiculous stat line (40-of-60 for 522 yards, three touchdowns and no picks) -- led the Cougars on a 13-play, 61-yard drive, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown pass to James Cleveland with 21 seconds remaining to make it 45-43. However, when Tulsa sacked Keenum on the 2-point conversion try, even CBS College Sports announcer Tom Hart declared the game over.
Ever heard of an onside kick?
The Cougars (8-1) recovered it at their own 39-yard line, and Keenum completed passes of 14 and 13 yards. With three seconds left, Houston sent out redshirt freshman kicker Matt Hogan -- playing in just his third game and, while 6-of-6 on the season, yet to attempt a kick from longer than 34 yards -- to try a game-winning 51-yarder.
He drilled it.
"You just try to stay cool," said Hogan, a walk-on. "Everybody is in [the locker room] getting jacked up, and I'm in here listening to country music trying to stay calm."
No one is cooler and calmer than Keenum, whose Heisman hopes would likely be extinguished without Hogan's field goal. He's now completed 71 percent of his throws for 3,815 yards, 28 TDs and five interceptions.
"As long as we have No. 7 back there," said Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, "our team believes we can win the game no matter what the score is."
Danny Hope and RichRod: Not beer buddies
Danny Hope, Purdue's fiery first-year coach, shed a tear during his postgame interview after the 4-6 Boilers won their first game in Ann Arbor since 1966 on Saturday. Having overcome a 1-5 start to post wins over both Ohio State and Michigan and keep alive hopes of a bowl berth, you couldn't help crack a smile for him.
Conversely, Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez -- whose team has lost five of six since it 4-0 start -- looked bewildered and overwhelmed fielding questions during a postgame press conference. "At moments we're beating ourselves," he said. "You've got to give them credit. Purdue did a nice job. ..."
At that point, Rodriguez trailed off and his mind appeared to wander for a second. He then proceeded to launch into a tangent about a "disappointing" postgame moment with Hope. He said the Purdue coach shook his hand, then introduced offensive lineman Zach Reckman, who was suspended by the Big Ten for a game earlier this season for a cheap shot against a Northern Illinois player. His suspension was announced the same day Rodriguez publicly questioned the conference for a similar suspension of his own player, Jonas Mouton, and pledged to "watch every Big Ten game closely" for similar acts.
"Their coach seemed to bring [Reckman] over like I was the reason that his lineman got suspended for the one game," said Rodriguez. "He came over and shook my hand and then introduced Mr. Reckman and then said, 'Thanks coach, we appreciate what you did.'"
If the conversation did happen the way Rodriguez described (a SportsCenter clip showed an interaction involving the three of them but with no audio), that's an awfully petty move by Hope -- especially by involving his player. Address those matters privately. Don't mock a competitor moments after beating him.
But the real loser in the situation, as has increasingly been the case this season, is Rodriguez. The West Virginia native often gets himself in trouble simply for his natural instinct to say whatever's on his mind, regardless of how it looks publicly. Hope may be petty, but Rodriguez comes off as a sore loser for even brining up the subject when he should be explaining why his offense has so badly regressed and his defense remains terrible.
He'll have a whole lot more explaining to do if Michigan loses its last two games to Wisconsin and Ohio State and finishes with its second straight losing season.
Thearon Collier: How'd He Do That?
Miami's sophomore receiver -- with the help of some serious blocking -- turns in one of the most exciting punt returns you'll see all season.
Clint Floyd: How'd He Do That II?
Arizona State's safety picks off a Matt Barkley pass, but only after three other players on two different teams get their crack at it.
Mini-previews for three of this week's big games:
Utah at TCU, Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET): It's amazing just how dominant the Horned Frogs have been. Since a 20-17 scare at Air Force on Oct. 10, TCU has outscored its past four opponents by an average margin of 45-6. The Utes -- which have won three straight in the series -- should provide more resistance.
Iowa at Ohio State, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): Was it really only three games ago that the Buckeyes lost at Purdue? Panicked Buckeyes fans had visions of a free fall at the time. Now, behind a seemingly more confident Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State is suddenly one win away from a trip to Pasadena.
Stanford at USC, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): The Cardinal return to the scene of their historic 2007 upset when they were 41-point underdogs. More notably, this will be the first of possibly three duels between quarterbacks Luck and Barkley, both of whom figure to make some NFL team very happy in 2012.
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