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NCAA College Football – Week 12 Recap

Iowa State fans celebrate the Cyclones upset of #2 Oklahoma State.
Reese Strickland, Getty Images

The day started with Lee Corso letting loose an expletive on ‘College Gameday,’ and things just got crazier from there. The BCS was officially thrown into chaos as three of the nation’s top five teams all went down to defeat. #1 LSU remained in the driver’s seat for the title game with another dominating win, but any number of one-loss schools are now back in the mix for the title game. The biggest beneficiary of this week’s upsets will likely be #6 Arkansas, who could move as high as #3 when the new polls come out and still have to play LSU, meaning the Razorbacks could control their own destiny for a spot in the national championship game (but, oddly, not for the SEC title game).

Here are all the highlights from this week in the Top 25.

#1 Louisiana State 52, Mississippi 3

Here is all you really need to know about this one: LSU started lining up in the victory formation and taking knees with five minutes left in the game. LSU outgained the Rebels 458-195. The Tigers’ defense was stifling once again, holding Ole Miss to just 47 passing yards and forcing three turnovers. Five different Tigers rushed for 50 or more yards in the win. Ole Miss already faced long odds coming into the game, with their starting quarterback and leading rusher being suspended earlier in the week for violations of team rules. With Oklahoma State’s loss, LSU now holds the nation’s longest winning streak at 12 games.

Iowa State 37, #2 Oklahoma State 31 (2OT)

The Cyclones pulled off the biggest upset of the college football season, knocking off the #2 Cowboys on Senior Night in Ames. Freshman quarterback Jared Barnett, playing in just his fourth career start, torched the Cowboys defense for 376 yards and three touchdowns. He was also Iowa State’s leading rusher, with 84 yards on the ground. Oklahoma State turned the ball over five times, leading to 16 ISU points. OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden, who came into the game as a Heisman frontrunner, threw for 476 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions, including one in the second overtime. Cowboys running back Joseph Randle had put up 505 total yards and 14 touchdowns the past four weeks, but was held to just 52 yards with no scores and two fumbles. Oklahoma State led 24-7 early in the third quarter, but the Cyclones responded with 17 unanswered points to force overtime.

#3 Alabama 45, Georgia Southern 21

Alabama running back Trent Richardson made his case for the Heisman Trophy with 175 rushing yards and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) as Alabama made a late-season trip out of conference against FCS Georgia Southern. The Crimson Tide defense, which ranked first nationally in virtually every defensive category, struggled with the Eagles’ option-based offense (which ranks second in FCS in rushing), giving up 302 rushing yards. But they held Georgia Southern to just one completed pass and 2-of-9 on third-down conversions.

#18 Southern Cal 38, #4 Oregon 35

Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldonado missed a potential game-tying 37-yard field goal with five seconds left as the Ducks saw their chance to get in to the BCS title game slip away. Unable to play in a bowl game (NCAA probation), this was Southern Cal’s biggest game down the stretch and they showed up in a big way, jumping out to a 38-14 lead late in the third quarter and then holding off a furious Oregon rally down the stretch. Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The USC defense held LaMichael James, who led the nation in yards per game coming in (150.9 yards per game), to just 74 yards and a touchdown. This was USC’s first victory in the state of Oregon since 2005.

#5 Oklahoma 45, #25 Baylor 38

Robert Griffin III threw for a school-record 479 yards and four touchdowns as Baylor beat Oklahoma for the first time ever and further added to the BCS chaos. Baylor was 0-20 all-time against the Sooners, but got their first win in a real shootout in which both teams had over 600 yards of total offense. The Bears had taken a 38-24 lead early in the fourth quarter, but OU rallied to score two unanswered touchdowns in the final five minutes to tie the game with 51 seconds left. OU was actually lined up to go for two and the win, but a false start backed them up and forced Bob Stoops to send in the kicking team. Baylor appeared content to let the clock run out, but OU called a timeout. The Bears decided to take advantage, driving 80 yards in five plays, culminating in Griffin’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams with eight seconds left. This is Griffin’s fourth 400+ yard passing game in the last five weeks and his eighth game this season with three or more touchdown passes.

#6 Arkansas 44, Mississippi State 17

With a huge matchup with #1 LSU looming, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson kept the Razorbacks on track, throwing for 365 yards and three touchdowns on a school-record 32 completions. Mississippi State was held to just 211 total yards. Bulldogs running back Vick Ballard, who rushed for 150 yards in last year’s matchup, was held to just 54 rushing yards on 13 carries. Mississippi State pulled to within 14-10 early in the second quarter before the Razorbacks defense stiffened, forcing three-and-outs on the Bulldogs’ next six possessions, while Arkansas rolled up 30 unanswered points. The win completed Arkansas’ first undefeated home season since 1999.

North Carolina State 37, #7 Clemson 13

Clemson has already locked up a spot in the ACC Championship game and may have gotten caught looking ahead to next week’s in-state matchup with archrival South Carolina. After averaging just 241 yards and 7.7 points the last three weeks, the Wolfpack exploded for 37 points and 398 yards while holding Clemson to just 34 rushing yards. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who had thrown for 12 touchdowns in his previous four games and was the nation’s ninth leading passer, was held to just 238 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Wolfpack blew the game open with 27 unanswered points in the second quarter.

#8 Stanford 31, California 28

Andrew Luck threw two third quarter touchdowns as the Cardinal overcame a slow start and sloppy field conditions to hold off Cal in the “Big Game” rivalry. Playing in a steady rain most of the night, the Heisman candidate finished with 257 yards passing and two touchdowns (one interception).  The Bears’ inability to run the ball proved to be the difference in the game; after rushing for nearly 300 yards in each of its past two games, Cal was held to just 84 yards on the ground. But Cal still found a way to make it interesting, reaching the end zone on both of its final possessions to make the game close. But in between those two drives, the Cardinal managed a 14 play, 57-yard field goal drive that ate 7:46 off the clock, leaving the Bears without enough time to get the ball back for a final scoring opportunity.

#9 Virginia Tech 24, North Carolina 21

Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Virginia Tech won its second-straight Thursday night game, setting up a winner-take-all matchup next week against Virginia with a spot in the ACC Championship game on the line. North Carolina scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull within three, but were unable to recover an onside kick with 2:29 left to play. Hokies running back David Wilson, the nation’s leading rusher coming into the game, was held to just 82 yards on the ground in the win.

#10 Boise State 52, San Diego State 35

Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore showed there would be no hangover from last week’s loss to TCU, throwing for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Not that he really needed any help, but the Aztecs seemed intent on giving it to him, turning the ball over three times in the first ten minutes of the game and allowing Boise State to jump out to a 21-0 lead. San Diego State’s best shot at pulling the upset really ended the week earlier when running back Ronnie Hillman, the nation’s second-leading rusher, sprained an ankle. Hillman played against Boise, but was obviously still suffering the effects of his injury, carrying the ball just three times for eight yards. However, redshirt freshman Adam Muema proved a capable backup, rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. This game wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate; the Broncos led 45-14 going into the fourth quarter before the Aztecs scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns against Boise’s backup defenders.

#11 Houston 37, Southern Methodist 7

Houston quarterback Case Keenum broke the NCAA record for career completions as the Cougars kept their undefeated season alive, blowing out SMU. Keenum, the nation’s leader in total offense, finished with 318 yards and a touchdown. The Mustangs, playing without leading rusher Zach Line (toe surgery; out for the season), managed just 24 rushing yards in the loss. Houston kicker Matt Hogan is now 78-for-78 on PAT attempts, an NCAA record.

#12 Michigan State 55, Indiana 3

Michigan State secured a spot in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game with a blowout of Indiana, losers of eight in a row. Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins was pulled early in the third quarter after throwing for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Michigan State’s defense, which has been the team’s strong point all season, had another outstanding game, holding the Hoosiers to just 236 yards (94 rushing) and recording two interceptions, one of which was returned 86 yards for a touchdown. The Spartans will play the winner of next week’s Penn State/Wisconsin game in the Big Ten Championship.

#13 Georgia 19, Kentucky 10

Georgia special teams and defense were just enough to move the Bulldogs past Kentucky and give them their first SEC Championship game berth since 2005. Georgia’s defense was dominant all day, holding the Wildcats to just 23 rushing yards in the game and two total yards in the third quarter while forcing four turnovers. Kicker Blair Walsh accounted for 13 of the Bulldogs’ 19 points as Georgia’s offense was stagnant most of the day, turning the ball over four times and managing just 317 yards. Freshman running back Isaiah Crowell, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher, left the game with an ankle injury after just two carries.

#14 South Carolina 41, Citadel 20

South Carolina struggled to stop the triple-option offense when they played Georgia Tech earlier in the season, but the defense proved up to a similar challenge this week, holding the Bulldogs to 241 rushing yards but just eight passing. Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw continues to grow since taking over the starting job, throwing for 272 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 90 yards and another score. The win gives South Carolina their first back-to-back nine win seasons in school history.

#15 Wisconsin 28, Illinois 17

Illinois jumped out to an early 14-0 lead before Montee Ball and the Wisconsin offense finally woke up just before halftime, outscoring the Illini 28-3 over a 21-minute period in the second, third and fourth quarters. Ball extended his own Big Ten record to 30 touchdowns this season with three scores (one receiving) and 224 rushing yards. Illinois actually outgained the Badgers 301-285, but turned the ball over four times and went just 3-of-11 on third-down conversions.

#16 Kansas State 17, Texas 13

Despite managing only 121 yards of total offense, Kansas State showed they just keep finding ways to win, knocking off the Longhorns for the fourth consecutive year. Wildcat quarterback Collin Klein, who came in averaging 101 rushing yards per game, was held to just four yards on 26 carries by a stifling Texas defense. But he got it done when it counted, scoring a passing and rushing touchdown in the win. With Texas down 17-3 in the third quarter, quarterback David Ash was benched after throwing his second interception and backup Case McCoy quickly recorded a six play, 81-yard touchdown drive to pull Texas within seven. But the Longhorns could manage only one more field goal on their final four possessions. Kansas State has been outgained by the Longhorns in each of the last four years, but won all of those four games. The Wildcats are the only Big 12 team with a winning record against Texas.

#20 Michigan 45, #17 Nebraska 17

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson looked like the Shoelace of old, lighting up Nebraska for 263 total yards and four touchdowns as the Wolverines moved to 9-2 and kept themselves in the running for a BCS at-large bid. But Michigan’s defensive turnaround continued to be the big story. The Wolverines held Nebraska’s usually powerful running game to just 138 yards on the ground, forced three costly Husker turnovers and held Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead scoreless for the first time this season. Nebraska was just 3-of-13 on third-down conversions and did not get its first conversion until there were less than two minutes left in the third quarter.

#19 Texas Christian 34, Colorado State 10

After upsetting Boise State last week, TCU kept their momentum going and secured a share of the Mountain West title by handing Colorado State its sixth straight loss. The Horned Frogs relied on a powerful running game, with three different players rushing for 60+ yards and three scoring rushing touchdowns. The Rams were their own worst enemy, turning the ball over twice and committing 11 penalties for 98 yards. TCU has won eight straight over Colorado State and 23 straight conference games.

#21 Penn State 20, Ohio State 14

Penn State running back Stephfon Green rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns as the Nittany Lions kept their Big Ten title hopes alive with a win in Columbus that officially ended the Buckeyes’ run of six straight Big Ten titles. Both teams played to their strengths with strong running games (239 rushing yards for PSU, 206 for Ohio State), little passing (neither quarterback threw for more than 88 yards) and stout defense (neither team scored in the second half). This was Penn State’s first win without Joe Paterno as the head coach since 1965. Penn State will close the regular season next week at Wisconsin, with the winner advancing to the Big Ten Championship.

Alabama-Birmingham 34, #22 Southern Miss 31

Southern Miss dodged a bullet last week, tipping away a Central Florida two-point conversion pass with no time remaining to secure the 30-29 victory. But there would be no miracle finish this week as UAB put together a go-ahead field goal drive that took over seven minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter and then held off two late Golden Eagles’ drives. The Blazers came into the game ranked 113th in total offense, but rolled up 425 yards in the win. This was UAB’s second win over a ranked team in school history.

Virginia 14, #23 Florida State 13

Virginia kept its ACC title hopes alive with a go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute to play to record its first-ever win in Tallahassee. The Seminoles, with the help of a Cavaliers’ facemask penalty, had actually driven down for the winning score, but kicker Dustin Hopkins’ 42-yard attempt sailed wide left with just three seconds left. Virginia’s offense was stuck in neutral most of the night, with 10 of its 12 drives covering less than 36 yards and resulting in no points. But quarterback Michael Rocco, who finished with 238 yards and a touchdown, made the most of his moment, leading the Cavaliers on a five play, 75-yard touchdown drive with less than two minutes to play. The Cavaliers take on Virginia Tech next weekend, with the winner earning a shot against Clemson in the ACC title game.

#24 Notre Dame 16, Boston College 14

Notre Dame running back Jonas Gray scored in his eighth straight game and the Fighting Irish held Boston College to 250 total yards as the Irish matched their win total (eight) from all of last year. The Eagles offense was held to three-and-outs on six possessions. Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees threw for 256 yards, but was held scoreless after throwing 12 total touchdowns in his previous six games.

 

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