More Overtime (cont.)
Apparently Florida coach Will Muschamp has managed to obtain some of Les Miles' voodoo magic. The Gators avoided an embarrassing home loss to Louisiana-Lafayette (5-4) when backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw a game-tying touchdown with 1:42 left, and then, with 13 seconds remaining, Florida blocked a punt, which Jelani Jenkins returned 36 yards for the game-winning score in a 27-20 decision. Florida is 9-1 despite having the nation's 114th-ranked passing offense.
"Anytime you see the seventh-ranked team in the country storm the field like they won the Super Bowl to beat you, you know you're doing some good things," said Ragin' Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth.
Syracuse is good for one of these a year. The Orange (5-5, 4-2 Big East) squashed Louisville's (9-1, 4-1) undefeated dreams in a 45-26 rout. Doug Marrone's team, which came in averaging 155.7 rushing yards, gashed the Cardinals for 278. "This was the worst game we ever played. They came out and got us," said Louisville defensive back Hakeem Smith. The Cardinals still control their BCS fate. The Orange will go bowling if they beat either Missouri or Temple.
Notre Dame (10-0) enjoyed a drama-free 21-6 win at Boston College (2-8), a game in which quarterback Everett Golson went a steady 16-of-24 for 200 yards, two touchdowns and no picks and linebacker Manti Te'o notched his sixth interception. The Irish continued their trend of winning far more decisively away from home (average margin: 25.4 points) than in South Bend (average margin: 4.6 points), so prepare for a heart-stopper Saturday against Wake Forest (5-5).
It's now a matter of when, not if, Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC) dismisses third-year coach Derek Dooley. Saturday's 51-48, four-overtime home loss to Missouri (5-5, 2-5) served as his Waterloo. Dooley made several questionable decisions late in regulation and in overtime, and they resulted in his 13th loss in his past 14 SEC contests. Missouri (5-5, 2-5), which started 0-4 in the conference, can reach its eighth straight bowl game if it beats Syracuse (5-5) this week.
Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel is quietly having a fantastic season (68.4 percent completions, 2,641 yards, 19 touchdowns, five interceptions), and he saved his team from possible disaster last Thursday at Virginia Tech. While the Hokies (4-6, 2-4 ACC) held the Seminoles (9-1, 6-1) to -15 rushing yards, Manuel threw for 326 yards through the air, including an underneath pass that Rashad Greene broke 39 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 40 seconds remaining.
Nebraska (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) brushed off a 20-6 halftime deficit against Penn State (6-4, 4-2) to win, 32-23, and maintain control of its division. But Nittany Lions fans were apoplectic about a controversial fumble call on what could have been a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown. Quarterback Matt McGloin only fueled the fires. "We're not going to get that call here," he said. "We're not going to get that call ever, actually, against any team. It doesn't matter who the refs are. That's the way it is."
We joked at the time that Wisconsin clinched the Leaders Division in July, as soon as Penn State joined Ohio State on the ineligible list. In reality, it took until Nov. 10, when the Badgers (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) wrapped up their spot in Indianapolis with a 62-14 rout of Indiana (4-6, 2-4). How's this for improving over the bye week: Wisconsin, which ran for just 19 yards in its last outing against Michigan State, pounded the Hoosiers for 564 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Northwestern (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten) is the anti-Nebraska when it comes to second-half performances. For the third time this season, the Wildcats let a double-digit second-half lead slip away, only Saturday against Michigan, Northwestern reclaimed the lead, 31-28, and held it until the final seconds when Wolverines receiver Roy Roundtree caught a 53-yard deflected pass from Devin Gardner to set up a game-tying field goal. The Wolverines (7-3, 5-1) won 38-31 in overtime.
Basketball season is underway in the ACC, and Saturday, Georgia Tech beat North Carolina, 68-50. ... Oh, in football?! In the highest-scoring game in league history, Tech quarterback Vad Lee, who'd seen spot action previously, took over for Tevin Washington on the third series and never relinquished the job, throwing for 169 yards (on six completions) and rushing for 112 more. The Jackets (5-5, 4-3 ACC) remain in the hunt for the Coastal Division title because ...
Despite a monstrous performance from Miami freshman all-purpose dynamo Duke Johnson (150 rushing yards, 214 kick return yards and an eight-yard touchdown pass), Virginia (4-6, 2-4 ACC) rallied to beat the 'Canes (5-5, 4-3), 41-40, on a 10-yard Michael Rocco touchdown pass with six seconds left. And so, the division might come down to Miami's Nov. 24 game at Duke (6-4, 3-3). But the Blue Devils will need to beat Georgia Tech this week to stay alive.
The most heated divisional races in the country currently reside in the MAC. The top two teams in the West will clash Wednesday, when Northern Illinois (9-1, 6-0 MAC) hosts Toledo (8-2, 5-1). Then on Saturday, No. 25 Kent State (9-1, 6-0) will visit Bowling Green (7-3, 5-1) for East supremacy. How deep is this conference? Kent State is the third different team to be ranked this year (and NIU is 26th in the Coaches' Poll), while Bowling Green knocked early-season darling Ohio (8-2, 4-2) out of contention last week.
This week also includes a huge game in the WAC, where No. 19 Louisiana Tech (9-1, 4-0 WAC) hosts Utah State (8-2, 4-0) in a game that will likely determine the dying conference's last-ever champion. The Bulldogs warmed up by outlasting Texas State, 62-55.
Congratulations to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who passed the legendary Bud Wilkinson for second on the Sooners' career wins list at 146 with a 42-34 win over Baylor. Next up: Barry Switzer.
Congratulations also to Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey. He broke Rueben Mayes' 28-year-old Pac-12 record with 366 rushing yards on just 25 carries in a 56-31 win against Colorado.
Congrats to 6-4 Vanderbilt, which clinched back-to-back bowl seasons for the first time ever with a last-minute 27-26 win at Ole Miss. Vandy quarterback Jordan Rodgers' brother, Aaron, watched from the stands and sideline.
And finally, congrats to UMass (1-9). The Minutemen got their first win as an FBS member by beating Akron (1-10), 22-14.
Staples' Midweek Report: SEC Championship
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