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Posted: Monday November 23, 2009 12:15AM; Updated: Monday November 23, 2009 12:53PM
Stewart Mandel

College Football Overtime (cont.)

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Meanwhile, at the Yale Bowl ...

Yale's John Sheffield can't believe the Bulldogs gave the game away as Harvard fans celebrate after Saturday's stunning ending of The Game.

Miles was far from the only coach with some explaining to do Saturday. In fact, I would argue his error paled in comparison to a jaw-dropping decision by Yale coach Tom Williams that will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest blunders in the 126-year history of The Game between Harvard and Yale.

Leading 10-7 but faced with a fourth-and-22 on his own 25-yard line with 2:25 left, Williams -- apparently determined to one-up Bill Belichick -- called for a fake punt. John Powers, who took a lateral from linebacker Paul Rice, came up seven yards short, and three plays later, Harvard quarterback Collier Winters threw a game-winning 32-yard touchdown.

"I was trying to keep momentum on the blue side," said Williams, the Bulldogs' first-year head coach. "We're playing to win the football game ... Our whole idea was to keep our foot on the pedal and not play scared."

I happened to stumble onto Versus' Harvard-Yale broadcast by accident (I thought the network was showing the Oklahoma-Texas Tech game) just before Harvard scored its first touchdown with 6:46 left and stuck with it. I'd never gotten to see The Game before -- and hey, it was in HD. I saw the whole thing unfold and I could barely believe my eyes.

When the game ended, Williams, 39, a former Stanford linebacker and co-defensive coordinator, shook hands with Harvard counterpart Tim Murphy, then stood slouched in the middle of the field, hands on knees, for a good 30 seconds. The magnitude of his blunder seemed to set in. Pull that stunt against Cornell and hardly anyone would notice ... but against Harvard? In front of 50,000 spectators and a national cable audience?

Williams may well coach for another 40 years and still never live that one down.

Current BCS forecast

Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games.

Title game: Alabama vs. Texas
Rose: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Fiesta: Iowa vs. Boise State
Sugar: Florida vs. Cincinnati
Orange: Georgia Tech vs. TCU

There's only one change from last week: I jumped back on the Cincinnati bandwagon after a reader reminded me of my own proclamation in September to "never doubt Brian Kelly." (I'm pretty sure I've also written at some point to "never put faith in Dave Wannstedt." If not, I at least thought it.) I'm still not sure the Bearcats' lines can handle the physical Panthers ... but Kelly will figure it out.

Of course, this entire lineup is still predicated on the assumption that Oklahoma will beat No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-2) in Norman this weekend; neither team inspired confidence last weekend, with the Cowboys barely escaping Colorado at home and the Sooners getting hammered by Texas Tech. If Oklahoma State wins, the Fiesta, as the Big 12's partner, would almost certainly take the Cowboys to replace Texas, and either Boise State or Iowa/Penn State would be left out.
MANDEL: Early projections for all 34 bowl matchups

Spreading the field

• I already wrote about Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli's brilliance in the Ducks' 44-41 double-overtime win over Arizona, but LaMichael James played a huge role as well. With 117 yards on 19 carries, James has now rushed for 1,310 yards, breaking the Pac-10 season record for a freshman. The previous record-holder: Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, who ran for 1,253 yards last season and sits a mere three yards ahead of James with 1,313 this season.

The Dec. 3 Civil War can't arrive soon enough.

• Not only did Connecticut seal Charlie Weis' fate with Saturday's double-overtime win at Notre Dame, but the Huskies likely stole the Irish's bowl berth. UConn (5-5), provided it becomes bowl eligible, figured to be the odd team out of the Big East's lineup if Notre Dame (6-5) went to the Gator Bowl. But if the Irish finish 6-6, they become free agents like last year, perhaps bowling in Detroit or Mobile.

• Since losing star Jahvid Best to injury in a Nov. 7 loss to Oregon State, Cal (8-3) has notched consecutive wins over ranked opponents -- Arizona and Stanford -- thanks in large part to Best's replacement, Shane Vereen. The sophomore has carried 72 times for 352 yards and four touchdowns in the wins, including 42 for 193 and three TDs in Saturday's 34-28 Big Game victory over the Cardinal.

• Oklahoma's struggles on offense have been well documented, but Saturday, Texas Tech (7-4) became the rare team this season to shred the Sooners' defense, racking up 549 yards in a 41-13 rout. That's quite the reversal from a year ago, when OU throttled the Red Raiders 65-21 in Norman. Oklahoma (6-5) has now matched Bob Stoops' first team in 1999 for the most losses of his tenure.

• Oklahoma State (9-2) stands one win away from a potential Fiesta Bowl berth thanks to a 26-year-old third-string quarterback. With Zac Robinson out, replacement Alex Cate started 0 for 9 against Colorado, allowing the Buffs (3-8) to jump to a 21-10 lead. So coach Mike Gundy turned to former Yankees prospect Brandon Weeden, who went 10-of-15 for 168 yards and two TDs in a 31-28 win.

• Last Monday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a story entitled "Kentucky's [Rich] Brooks on the hot seat." Whoops. Kentucky, which previously won at Auburn this season, got another huge road upset Saturday, 34-27 at Georgia. The 7-4 Wildcats now host 6-5 Tennessee next week. If Brooks' team manages to end a 25-year losing streak to the Vols, Brooks may earn a statue, not a pink slip.

• Nebraska (Big 12) and Clemson (ACC) both clinched spots in their respective conference title games on Saturday. The Huskers' 17-3 win over Kansas State marked the seventh time this season the Blackshirts have held an opponent to 10 points or less, while Tigers star C.J. Spiller's four-yard touchdown run against Virginia made him the lone FBS player to score a touchdown in every game.

• Missouri receiver Danario Alexander is on fire. The senior, marred by injuries for much of his career (his previous season high was 417 yards), has 34 catches for 578 yards in his last three games. Saturday's performance against Iowa State (11 catches, 173 yards) marked his third straight with double-digit receptions. Alexander now leads all BCS-conference players with 128.3 yards per game.

• Northwestern held Wisconsin's John Clay, the Big Ten's leading rusher, to 100 yards on 23 carries and forced two turnovers in the final two minutes of a 33-31 upset over the No. 17 Badgers (8-3). With their second win in three games over a ranked foe, the Wildcats (8-4, 5-3), once the Big Ten's perennial doormats, finished with a winning conference record for the fourth time in six years.

• In a really cool moment prior to his last home game, retiring Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews planted the spear at midfield in place of Chief Osceola. Then his defense allowed 410 yards to 2-9 Maryland before FSU (6-5) prevailed 29-26. In a far crueler send-off, Andrews' last regular-season assignment comes next week against Florida's Tim Tebow, who will be playing his last home game.

• It's been a season of streaks for UCLA (6-5, 3-5 Pac-10), which won its first three games (including victories over Tennessee and Kansas State), then dropped five straight Pac-10 contests before rallying to win its last three to become bowl-eligible. Saturday's 23-13 win over Arizona State was typical of the Bruins' season: The defense produced more points (14) than the offense (nine).

• Syracuse (4-7, 1-5 Big East) saved first-year coach Doug Marrone the indignity of a winless conference record with a stunning 31-13 upset of No. 25 Rutgers (7-3, 2-3). The Orange's previously lifeless offense (they lost 10-9 to Louisville a week earlier) exploded behind quarterback Greg Paulus (13-of-16 for 142 yards and a touchdown) and a running game that ground out 213 yards on 51 attempts.

• Temple's ninth straight win (yes, you read that right) on Saturday against Kent State combined with Ohio's 38-31 win over Northern Illinois sets up a winner-take-all showdown for the MAC's East Division this Friday in Athens, Ohio.

• Marshall (6-5) became bowl-eligible for the first time in coach Mark Snyder's five seasons with a 34-31 win over SMU. The Mustangs' (6-5, 5-2 C-USA) loss also puts Houston (9-2, 5-2) back in line for a spot in Conference USA's title game.

• Troy (8-3, 7-0 Sun Belt) clinched a share of its fourth straight Sun Belt title with a 47-21 win over Florida Atlantic. An outright title will require either a win at 6-5 Louisiana-Lafayette or a Middle Tennessee (8-3) loss to 6-5 Louisiana-Monroe.

• New Mexico (1-10) finally secured its first victory Saturday, 29-27 against Colorado State, on James Aho's 27-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining. Eastern Michigan (0-11) and Western Kentucky (0-10) are the only oh-fers left.

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