College Football Overtime (cont.)
Kellen Moore already owns more victories (46) than any starting quarterback in FBS history, and he will finish his career as one of the most accomplished to ever play the position. He may also go down as the most snakebit.
For the second straight year, a missed last-second field goal -- this time redshirt freshman kicker Dan Goodale's 39-yard attempt on the final play against TCU (8-2) -- cost Boise State not only a shot at the national championship but, most likely, a BCS bowl bid. The Broncos hadn't lost at home in the regular season in a decade, and though the Horned Frogs are the defending Rose Bowl champions and soon-to-be Big 12 members, their 36-35 upset on the blue turf was still stunning.
"We didn't shock the world," TCU linebacker Tank Carder tweeted afterward. "We just reminded them."
Boise State fans were cruelly reminded of last year's heartbreaker at Nevada, in which senior kicker Kyle Brotzman's missed 26-yard field goal sent the game to overtime, where the Wolf Pack proceeded to crush Boise's hopes of a second straight undefeated season. Goodale's kick Saturday wasn't nearly the same chip shot, but his miss had the same ramifications.
However, it would be unfair to pin the result solely on Goodale's shoulders, as TCU outplayed Boise the whole way. Quarterback Casey Pachall torched the Broncos' secondary for first half touchdowns of 74, 75 and 69 yards en route to a career-high 473 yards and five touchdowns. Third-string tailback Drew Wright's fumble with 2:26 left set up the Frogs for their go-ahead drive, in which Pachall threw a 25-yard touchdown to Brandon Carter, then completed a two-point conversion pass to Josh Boyce to go up 36-35. And while Moore had another solid day (28-of-38 for 320 yards and two touchdowns), he threw four straight incompletions to start Boise's final drive, with a questionable pass-interference call bailing him out on fourth-and-10 from the 50.
"It's a feeling similar to the feeling last year," said Broncos defensive end Tyrone Crawford. "It sucks."
Boise's loss is Houston's gain. Case Keenum and the 11th-ranked Cougars (10-0) now stand to clinch a BCS at-large berth if they win out, though it should be noted that Houston's opponents to date are a combined 32-52. The Cougars close with 6-4 SMU, 7-3 Tulsa (tied with Houston at 6-0 in Conference USA's West Division) and, if they win those, a likely conference title date with No. 20 Southern Miss (9-1). They'll need to win out to get the bid.
Should the Cougars slip, the Broncos, who fell to 10th in the BCS standings, can still finish high enough to qualify for a berth, but only the highest-ranked champion of a non-AQ league is guaranteed a spot. TCU -- which has now won 22 straight Mountain West games -- is all but assured of winning that league.
Houston: The floor is yours.
As the outrage intensified last week over Penn State officials' failure to report (and prevent future incidents) former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's alleged sexual abuse of children, a common reaction emerged: How could those at the school be so tone deaf?
From now-ousted president Graham Spanier's "unconditional support" of two administrators accused of failing to alert police, to Joe Paterno's nominal acceptance of responsibility, to the misguided students shouting "Beat Nebraska" on Paterno's lawn, the nation came to see a coaching staff and community so isolated from reality that protecting JoePa and his program took precedence over protecting the innocent children subjected to those heinous crimes. The narrative finally began to change last Friday, when students held a candlelight vigil for the victims, and Saturday, when they wore blue T-shirts and raised more than $22,500 outside the stadium to honor victims of child abuse. In a touching moment, Penn State and Nebraska players joined in prayer at midfield shortly before kickoff. Still, most of the conversation on game day was about the "distractions" and whether the players would be focused.
Football coaches in general live in a near constant state of tunnel vision, spending 100-hour weeks in film rooms, meetings and practices and thus largely isolated from the outside world. A meteor could strike the parking lot outside the football facility and most coaches would still be pondering blitz schemes. Therefore it came as a heartening and refreshing surprise when Nebraska's Bo Pelini wound up delivering an eloquent soliloquy following the Huskers' 17-14 win over the Nittany Lions that demonstrated the type of perspective so lacking for much of the previous week.
"I'll be honest with you -- going into the football game, I didn't think the game should have been played, for a lot of different reasons," said Pelini. "I look at my job as a football coach as to educate and to prepare the kids that come into the program for the rest of their life. That's what we are; we are a university system. I thought that this game gave us an opportunity to show that the situation going on is bigger than football. It is bigger than the football game that was just played. It is bigger than the young men that played in the game that would have missed it, had they called it off."
"It's about doing what's right in society," Pelini added. "It's about doing what's right and wrong. Trust me, when I tell you, I don't know the specifics of the situation and I am not judging anybody. But the fact is young kids were hurt and that's a crime in itself. It is a lot bigger than football, the NCAA, the Big Ten and anything else."
Pelini continued from there.
I don't think the game should have been canceled, but that's not the point. Pelini could have brushed off the questioner with a requisite nod to the situation and some typical coachspeak. He didn't. He used his platform to make a powerful statement about the place of sports in society and the larger, extremely troubling issue at the center of the Penn State story. He didn't point fingers, like so many of us have done. He offered heartfelt insight on what it's like to be a football coach thrust into a horrific situation that in this case involves a football program, but is far more important than football.
Of course, that's not stopping me from writing this 4,000-word column about football, or you from reading it. The teams carry on with their seasons, and we carry on with our lives. But everyone who's followed this story has been affected. Hopefully they've also become better educated about an important issue. I know I have.
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