NCF Nation: weekend-rewind-112111

Weekend rewind: SEC

November, 21, 2011
Anybody feeling hot … or not?

It’s that time again:


[+] EnlargeMark Richt
Dale Zanine/US PresswireCoach Mark Richt is all smiles after his Bulldogs won their ninth straight game.
Georgia coach Mark Richt: As much abuse as he took back in September, and really most of the offseason, Richt deserves his props now. The Bulldogs, after losing their first two games of the season, have won nine in a row and wrapped up the Eastern Division championship Saturday with a 19-10 victory over Kentucky. It wasn’t Georgia’s most impressive performance by a long shot, but it completed the kind of nine-game run you don’t often see in this league after a team opens the season with back-to-back losses. It’s a fact that the schedule eased up considerably, but Richt, his staff and the veteran leaders on this team deserve a ton of credit for keeping this team on point when all they were hearing outside the program back in September was a bunch of negativity.


Tennessee cornerback Eric Gordon: His 90-yard interception return for a touchdown in overtime saved the Vols in their 27-21 win over Vanderbilt, and Gordon had the presence of mind to keep running even though one of the officials incorrectly blew his whistle.


Marc Curles: Speaking of that whistle, it hasn’t been a good run for Curles and his crew the last few years. SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw issued a statement essentially saying that the officials screwed up twice on the final play of the Tennessee game. The whistle never should have been blown, but because it was blown, the play by rule was not reviewable. Curles also headed up the crew that was suspended in 2009 after officiating snafus in the Georgia-LSU and Arkansas-Florida games.


Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan: Maybe, finally, he’s starting to get the respect that he deserves. Trevathan had his third 17-tackle performance of the season in Kentucky’s 19-10 loss to Georgia. Included were three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.


Florida’s start: How disinterested were the Gators last week against Furman to start the game? They were down 15-0 and then 22-7 at one point. There were almost as many defensive breakdowns as empty seats in the Swamp.


Vanderbilt coach James Franklin: He’s probably still steaming after the way the Tennessee game ended in controversy. One thing’s for sure: Franklin looked like a raging bull the way he went charging across the field looking for the officials at game’s end.


Alabama’s kicking game: It’s unfair to call it a complete disaster, because the Crimson Tide have done some things well. But when you can’t make field goals and are ranked 11th in the SEC in kickoff coverage, giving up a 95-yard return for a touchdown last week, you’re sure not helping yourself in the all-important third phase of the game.


SEC love: Let’s face it. The SEC is already Public Enemy No. 1 around the rest of the country. Everybody else is tired of hearing about the SEC, tired of seeing SEC teams win national championships every year and tired of the SEC getting the national spotlight. Well, with the top three teams in the BCS standings all being from the SEC this week, there’s not going to be an abundance of love out there. The rest of the country would probably rather see a forfeit than two SEC teams slugging it out in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

Weekend rewind: Pac-12

November, 21, 2011
Taking stock of the 12th week of games in the Pac-12.

Team of the week: USC ended Oregon's 21-game home winning streak as well as the Ducks' 19-game conference winning streak with a 38-35 victory, giving coach Lane Kiffin and QB Matt Barkley a signature victory.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesMatt Barkley threw four touchdown passes in USC's win over Oregon.
Best game: Unlike most weeks this season, four Pac-12 games came down to the waning moments, but the Trojans' win in Autzen Stadium was thrilling and meaningful, featuring a pair of ranked teams. The Trojans jumped ahead 38-14 but the Ducks stormed back with 21 unanswered points. The game would have gone to overtime if Ducks kicker Alejandro Maldonado hadn't missed from 37 yards on the game's final play.

Biggest play: Hey, Cougs, did Marquess Wilson score?

Washington State was inches short from beating Utah in regulation, and more than a few folks in Pullman -- including coach Paul Wulff -- believe the 6-yard pass Wilson caught in the waning moments from QB Connor Halliday was actually a 7-yard TD pass. As it was, Mo Lee's tackle stopped Wilson from getting the go-ahead TD and, after two incompletions, the Cougars settled for a tying field goal that sent the game into overtime. Utah prevailed 30-27.

This from Howie Stalwick explains the situation:
The Cougars were out of time-outs, so Wulff could not call for a review. The upstairs review official had the option to review the play. A touchdown would have given WSU the win, but Wulff wound up going for a field goal.

NCAA rules permit the reversal of on-field rulings only if evidence is abundantly clear that an error was made. Television replays were inconclusive regarding whether Wilson broke the plane of the goal line. Snow on the field complicated matters.

Wulff said a photo he observed, combined with video he watched, convinced him that Wilson scored.
Offensive standout: Barkley completed 26 of 34 passes for 323 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in the Trojans' 38-35 win at Oregon.

Defensive standout: Oregon State defensive end -- and Washington native -- Scott Crichton had two sacks, three total tackles for a loss and forced a key fourth-quarter fumble in the Beavers' 38-21 win over Washington.

Special-teams standout: Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against USC. He also caught a 29-yard TD pass.

Smiley face: Little has gone right for Arizona this year. Heck, it fired its head coach, Mike Stoops, before the season was over. But things are a little brighter in Tucson after a 31-27 upset win at Arizona State. QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner -- the Wildcats' two biggest stars -- turned in strong performances and the defense did just enough to win. In a tough situation, interim head coach Tim Kish has done a good job keeping things together and giving his seniors a great memory.

Frowny face: Arizona State. The Sun Devils have lost four of five, and their three-game losing streak came against teams that have less talent and less reason to play hard. Not much to say, but I'm guessing Sun Devils fans can think of plenty.

Thought of the week: Utah plays Colorado on Friday. The Utes should beat the woeful Buffaloes and finish the regular season with a five-game winning streak and an 8-4 record. Then the Utes will watch Arizona State play host to California that night and UCLA visit USC on Saturday. If the Sun Devils and Bruins both lose, the Utes will win the South Division in their first year in the conference. And they'd deserve it more than UCLA or Arizona State, which have meandered through a year that might get both head coaches fired.

Questions for the week: Are there any upsets left? Will Stanford beat Notre Dame and earn an at-large BCS bowl berth? Or will Oregon fall to Oregon State at home and allow the Cardinal to slip into the Rose Bowl -- win or lose versus the Fighting Irish? Will UCLA whip suddenly hot USC and save Rick Neuheisel's job? What about the Apple Cup: If Washington State beats rival Washington, will that be enough to save Wulff's job? Or might Colorado rise up and end its 24-game losing streak outside its home state at Utah? Lots of intrigue for the final weekend of the regular season.

Weekend Rewind: Big East

November, 21, 2011
Let's take one look back at the Big East in Week 12 and a quick lookahead to the games in Week 13.

[+] EnlargeJawan Jamison
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireThe Bearcats had trouble containing Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison in Saturday's game.
The good: Rutgers snapped a five-game losing streak to Cincinnati and is now in position to earn a share of its first Big East title. The Scarlet Knights did everything right -- as Jawan Jamison notched a career-high 200 yards rushing and Rutgers limited Cincinnati to 67 yards rushing. Rutgers held Cincinnati to 225 yards of total offense. The Scarlet Knights are 39-4 (.907) under coach Greg Schiano when holding an opponent under 300 yards of total offense. They are also 28-7 when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game, since 2006. Mohamed Sanu had a relatively quiet day with six catches, but he now has 100 on the season. ... Louisville rebounded from an uninspired loss to Pitt last week with a win over UConn. The Cardinals (6-5, 4-2) have their most wins in Big East play since 2006, when they went 6-1. Adrian Bushell made his return to the field after serving a one-game suspension with a huge play, returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. He was the fourth player in school history to return a kickoff 100 yards for a score, and the first since Trent Guy did it against Kentucky in 2007. The Cardinals had success on the ground again, rushing for 126 yards against the No. 6 run defense in the country. Dexter Heyman had a monster day, with 3.5 tackles for loss. ... Though Cincinnati lost, linebacker JK Schaffer had a huge game, with 13 tackles, including three for loss and 1.5 sacks. He now has over 300 career tackles, the most of any active Big East player.

The bad: What more can be said for the way Cincinnati played on offense in a 20-3 loss to Rutgers. Everybody knew it was going to be difficult for backup Munchie Legaux to step in for Zach Collaros at quarterback, but did anybody envision it would be as bad as it looked? Cincinnati was held to a season-low 225 yards of offense -- its lowest total since gaining 146 against Rutgers in 2005. Legaux only completed 12 passes with an interception. Not only did he have several passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, his receivers dropped many catchable balls as well. The Bearcats' inability to throw was a huge reason why they could not get anything going on offense. Rutgers was locked in on stopping the run, and worked its game plan perfectly. ... How many heartbreaking losses can one team take? USF dropped yet another game by three points, losing to Miami 6-3 when Jake Wieclaw made a 36-yard field goal as time expired. USF lost in overtime to Rutgers when San San Te made a field goal and Maikon Bonani missed his short attempt at the end of regulation. The Bulls also lost to Cincinnati when the Bearcats rallied to win in the fourth quarter. It was a tough loss to take when you consider how good the defense played all game. USF had six sacks, the second-highest total in school history, and allowed the fewest points all season. In fact, it was the lowest scoring game in school history. But when it came down to crunch time, Miami was able to drive into field-goal range and USF simply could not get a stop when it was needed. Miami converted three third downs on that final drive, which went 15 plays. ... UConn running back Lyle McCombs had a season-low 33 yards rushing but went over 1,000 yards on the season in a loss to Louisville. The Huskies were totally stymied on the ground, a big reason why they only had the ball for 21 minutes against Louisville. What hurt even more -- dropped passes. UConn had nine of them, including two that very well could have been touchdowns. Poor tackling was also a problem, and coach Paul Pasqualoni described his team's overall effort as "puzzling." Now UConn has to win out just to become bowl eligible.

Week 13 schedule


Louisville at USF, 11 a.m., ESPN2

Pitt at West Virginia, 7 p.m., ESPN


Cincinnati at Syracuse, noon, Big East Network

Rutgers at UConn, noon, ESPN2

Weekend rewind: Big Ten

November, 21, 2011
Saw you so much clearer, once you were in my rear-view mirror.

Team of the week: Michigan. The Wolverines flexed their muscles and blew out Nebraska 45-17 in their best performance and arguably biggest win of the season. Michigan is now the Big Ten's best hope for an at-large BCS bid. Michigan State sure liked what happened in Ann Arbor this week, too.

Game of the week: Penn State 20, Ohio State 14. Ultimately, this game had no bearing on the Big Ten title race, but try telling these two teams that. In a week without many thrillers, the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes played an old-school, physical game that featured no second-half points but plenty of hold-your-breath moments. Given the backdrop of what Penn State had been dealing with back home, it was far from meaningless.

[+] EnlargeJustin DuVernois
Bradley Leeb/US PresswireIllini punter Justin DuVernois is tackled by Wisconsin's Conor O'Neill after a game-changing fumbled snap Saturday.
Biggest play: Illinois led Wisconsin 14-0 in the second quarter when punter Justin Duvernois dropped the ball after catching the snap. The Badgers' Conor O'Neill tackled him at the 2-yard line to set up a Montee Ball touchdown run and finally give Wisconsin some momentum. Who knows how the game would have unfolded differently had the Illini taken a 17-0 lead into half instead of 17-7. And for a team that had special-teams breakdowns in losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, it was good for Wisconsin to get one back in the kicking game.

Best call: Lions turning into Wildcats. Interim coach Tom Bradley and his staff decided to use Curtis Drake and Bill Belton in the Wildcat formation against Ohio State, something Penn State hadn't shown much of all season. By the time the Buckeyes adjusted to it, Penn State had piled up 254 yards and 20 points in the first half. The defense did the rest in the second half. Question: Would the Nittany Lions have used that kind of creativity if Joe Paterno was still the head coach?

Toughest call: Robert Marve's touchdown-no-fumble near the end of the Purdue-Iowa game. The Boilers quarterback scrambled and dived for the end zone with 1:27 left in the game, losing the ball just as he hit the pylon. The officials on the field ruled it a touchdown, which would have cut the lead to 31-27 with an extra point giving Purdue a chance to get within a field goal. But after a review, the play was ruled a lost fumble in the end zone, which gave the ball to Iowa and basically ended the game.

Boilermakers coach Danny Hope brought a still picture of the play to his Sunday media briefing, saying it showed Marve's hand hitting the pylon and the ball out of bounds. Other angles and replays seemed to validate the replay officials' ruling. You can watch the video of it here at the 1:40 mark. Either way, Purdue simply made too many mistakes in the game to be whining about one call, no matter how crucial it was.

Big Men on Campus (Offense): Wisconsin's Ball and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Ball had career highs in rushes (38) and yards (224) and scored three more touchdowns, becoming just the fifth player in FBS history to reach 30 touchdowns in a season. Robinson bounced back from a couple of rough outings to account for four touchdowns and 263 total yards of offense against Nebraska. He has now won six Big Ten player of the week honors, third-most in league history.

Big Man on Campus (Defense): Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. The sophomore made a career-high 16 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles against Illinois. His second forced fumble gave the Badgers a short field to set up their second touchdown, and he helped lead a defensive effort that shut out the Illini in the second half and forced four turnovers. A special shout out also goes to Northwestern's Brian Peters, who forced and recovered a fumble and made an interception despite wearing a cast on one arm against Minnesota.

Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Penn State's Anthony Fera. He made a 43-yard field goal and a 46-yarder at the end of the first half to account for the margin of victory in the Nittany Lions' 20-14 win against Ohio State. He also had three punts downed inside the 20-yard line, including one on the 3-yard line. How good has Fera been this season? This is third Big Ten weekly honor of the season.

Strangest moment: It's not often you see an offensive guard taking a handoff and running a sweep. But Michigan State's Joel Foreman did just that on Saturday in a nice gesture from Mark Dantonio.

The Spartans were up 48-3 on Indiana when Foreman lined up at tight end and came around the left side for a three-yard gain. Dantonio said he thought of the idea in practice Thursday as a way to honor Foreman, a fifth-year senior who has started 46 career games at left guard.

"That was for every big guy out there who ever wanted to run the ball," Foreman told reporters. "I'm averaging three yards a carry, broken tackle. I think that's more than [quarterback] Kirk [Cousins] has, so I'm doing all right."

It was a particularly appropriate way to end the home season for Foreman, who let cancer survivor Arthur Ray Jr. begin the game in his place in the season opener despite his consecutive starts streak. After Foreman's run, he jogged to midfield with the ball under his arm, saluted and then came out of the game. Ray was one of the first players to greet him.

"He got the game ball for that," Dantonio said of Foreman. "He took it, as a matter of fact."

Stanford weekend rewind

November, 21, 2011
Saturday night had all of the ingredients for another historical Big Game. But Coby Fleener's recovery of the onside kick in the final minute dashed Cal's hopes of a crazy comeback. Before we start looking ahead to Saturday's regular season finale against Notre Dame, let's take a look back at a few highlights from the 114th Big Game.

[+] EnlargeRyan Hewitt
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireCardinal fullback Ryan Hewitt is congratulated by tight end Davis Dudchock (back) after scoring a touchdown against California.
Highlight reel: Jarek Lancaster's sack on Zach Maynard in the third quarter was instinctual linebacking at its finest. Lancaster wasn't going in on a designed blitz. He reacted almost immediately to Maynard rolling to his left, he shed a blocker and then turned up field before throwing Maynard to the ground. Those are the kinds of plays that make defensive coaches giddy.

Best play: Ty Montgomery's 34-yard touchdown run was a text-book end around. A little motion to get the momentum going, then great blocking by Jonathan Martin and Griff Whalen. Loved the hustle by center Sam Schwartzstein to try and get downfield to make a block. But Montgomery was just too darn fast for his own linemen -- and the Cal defense. This guy has some serious speed.

Who's hot: No one hotter right now than fullback Ryan Hewitt. From various receiving positions -- tight end, receiver, slot and fullback, he caught all seven balls thrown his way against Cal for 64 yards and a receiving touchdown. He also got the job done in two short-yardage running situations.

Who's not: On the whole the offensive line. Still too many leaks and too much penetration. After going four games with just one negative play, running back Stepfan Taylor was brought down four times in the backfield -- and that's penetration. Plus, quarterback Andrew Luck was sacked twice against Cal, making it five in the last two games.

The good: A win anytime is good. A win against Cal is better. A win when four teams ranked ahead of you in the BCS standings all lose in the same weekend is absolutely smashing.

The bad: Still too many missed tackles in the open field. It got better with the return of safety Delano Howell, who had five solo stops. But still way more than you'd like to see 11 games into the season.

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

November, 21, 2011
Let's take a look back at the non-AQs in Week 12.

[+] EnlargeKellen Moore
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireThanks to a stellar game from Kellen Moore against San Diego State, Boise State remains in play for an at-large berth into the BCS.
Boise rebounds. It may not have been pretty, but the Broncos rebounded from their loss to TCU with a 52-35 win over San Diego State. Kellen Moore went 28-of-40 with four touchdown passes and an interception as Boise State jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead and then held on. The defense, with its top three cornerbacks out, has not looked like the dominated unit we are used to seeing. The Broncos have now given up at least 35 points in back-to-back games for the first time since losing to Hawaii (39-27) and East Carolina (41-38) to close out the 2007 season. It also was the third time in four games Boise State has allowed over 400 yards in total offense. Still, Boise State remains in play for an at-large berth into the BCS. The Broncos are No. 7 in the latest standings, and could be chosen considering the SEC has five teams in the Top 14 and the Big 12 has three. You must be in the Top 14 to be considered for an at-large berth and there is a limit of two teams per conference. If Houston gets the automatic berth into the BCS, that would leave three at-large spots open.

Conference race update. Here is how the conference races are shaking out.

Conference USA: The winner between Houston and Tulsa on Friday wins the West and clinches a spot in the C-USA title game. Southern Miss lost to UAB 34-31 but can still clinch the East Division with a win over Memphis on Saturday or a Marshall loss.

MAC: Ohio won the East and is in the MAC title game. In the West, Northern Illinois clinches a return trip with a win over Eastern Michigan or a Toledo loss at Ball State.

Mountain West: TCU wins the outright league title with a victory over UNLV on Dec. 3.

Sun Belt: Arkansas State can win the league title outright with a win over Troy on Dec. 3 or a Western Kentucky loss to Troy this Saturday. The Red Wolves have already accepted an invitation to the Bowl. ULL also has been invited to the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. FIU and Western Kentucky are also bowl eligible, but the Sun Belt only has two tie-ins. There are backup agreements with the Little Caesars Pizza and BBVA Compass Bowls, but it appears as if there will not be open slots in either of those games.

WAC: If Louisiana Tech and Nevada win out, both would get a share of a conference title.

Game of the week. Louisiana Tech 24, Nevada 20. The Wolf Pack built a comfortable 20-3 lead on the Bulldogs, and appeared set to cruise to a win in their quest to win an outright WAC title. Nevada was the only undefeated team in the league going into the game; Louisiana Tech had one loss. But Colby Cameron engineered an incredible fourth-quarter comeback to lift the Bulldogs to a 24-20 win. Now they have a chance to clinch a share of the WAC title Saturday against New Mexico State. Cameron threw three touchdown passes in the span of nine minutes, hitting Taulib Ikharo with 51 seconds to play to complete the rally. Nevada had two first downs on its final three possessions. Adrien Cole finished with 17 tackles, and Cameron finished 25-of-45 for 355 yards and three touchdowns. The Bulldogs have now won six straight -- the longest winning streak since 1999.

Bowl streak ends. After Navy beat SMU last week, hopes brightened for the Midshipmen to keep its bowl streak alive. Navy had games left with San Jose State and Army -- two teams with losing records. Win out, and go to a bowl game. But the Midshipmen blew several opportunities on offense and could not stop San Jose State running back Brandon Rutley, losing 27-24 to the Spartans. The loss breaks a streak of eight straight bowl appearances. If you were to encapsulate this season for Navy, it would be about an uncharacteristic lack of discipline and missed chances to win. Four of its seven losses have been by three points or less.

"My worst nightmare came true. We were sleepwalking to start the game. We left a ton of points out on the field offensively. We had some uncharacteristic mental lapses that really hurt us," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said after the game. "We didn't deserve to win. We played horribly, and it starts with me. Obviously, I didn't do a good job of getting us ready."

Helmet stickers

Sammy Brown, LB, Houston. Brown had 10 tackles, included 4.5 for a loss and three sacks, in a 37-7 win over SMU. He was selected Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois. Harnish broke the school record for total offense with 519 total yards in a 31-28 win over Ball State on Tuesday night. His 519 total yards is tied for third most by any player in FBS this season. Harnish passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 181 yards and a touchdown.

Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky. Rainey rushed for a season-high 214 yards and a touchdown against North Texas, helping the Hilltoppers become bowl eligible. He also caught four passes for 48 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown reception. Rainey needs 82 yards to become the school's all-time leading rusher.

Brandon Rutley, RB, San Jose State. Rutley ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a career-high eight passes for 101 yards in a 27-24 win over Navy. Rutley is the first San Jose State player to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game. The Spartans now have four wins -- one more than 2009 and 2010 combined.

Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming. Smith accounted for 352 of his team's 462 yards of total offense in a 31-10 victory over New Mexico. In addition to rushing for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns, Smith completed 23-of-38 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown. Wyoming is now bowl eligible.

Weekend rewind: Notre Dame

November, 21, 2011
It is time to look back at the weekend that was for Notre Dame, which eked out a 16-14 win over three-win Boston College to win its fourth straight game overall and third in a row over an ACC opponent.

The Good: A win's a win, right? This one was the Irish's fourth in a row against an overmatched opponent, and the end result is all that matters. Looking at the fact Notre Dame had lost two of its previous four Senior Day games -- and the fact it ended the day with the same win total as last season -- the Irish will take it and not look back.

The Bad: As mentioned earlier, Boston College is a three-win team. Notre Dame jumped out to an early 10-0 lead but could never run away from the overmatched Eagles, whose last hope was not officially wiped out until an onside kick recovery by Robby Toma. Notre Dame started six different drives inside its own 20-yard line, and it did not score on any of those drives.

The Ugly: Jonas Gray's likely season-ending knee injury fits in this category. So, too, does Stephon Tuitt missing the game with an illness. And Harrison Smith going to the infirmary the day before the game. And another unidentified player, according to Brian Kelly on Sunday, getting sick after the game.

Turning point: David Ruffer's 27-yard field goal with 8:08 left made it a two-possession game, giving the Irish a 16-7 lead. After starting the season just 2-of-6, Ruffer has connected on eight straight field goals, including three Saturday -- two from 40 yards or beyond -- in what ended up being a two-point game.

Play of the day: Tyler Eifert's spectacular one-handed grab for 37 yards in the first quarter takes the cake here, though Toma deserves an honorable mention for his full-extension 20-yard diving catch in the second quarter while absorbing a hit.

Next up: Notre Dame's biggest test of the season comes this Saturday at No. 6 Stanford in what is likely Andrew Luck's final home game. Who? Just arguably the greatest NFL draft prospect of the last decade and a strong Heisman Trophy contender. The Cardinal will likely be playing for an at-large BCS-bowl berth, something Notre Dame can only have a fringe chance of by pulling off the road upset this weekend.

Weekend rewind: Big 12

November, 21, 2011
Time to name a few superlatives from across the Big 12 this weekend.

Best offensive player: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin had another legendary performance with 479 yards passing and 72 yards rushing, throwing for four touchdowns. The 479 yards were a school record and Griffin set the single-season record for passing with two games and a bowl game still left on the schedule. For his efforts, he was named the Walter Camp National Player of the Year Award.

Best defensive player: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas. Jeffcoat had a pair of sacks and made 3.5 tackles for loss with a pass breakup in a 17-13 loss to Kansas State. Never easy to do against K-State, who doesn't throw much and has a quarterback that's always tough to bring down.

Best game: Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38. This one went down to the final possession and two second-half comebacks. Lots of points and lots of fun. Polish it off with a field storming, and you've got yourself a classic. The dramatic finish gives the Bears' win an edge of the shocker in Ames. Honorable mention: Iowa State 47, Oklahoma State 41 (2 OT)

Best play: Griffin to Terrance Williams for a game-winning 34-yard touchdown pass. Griffin drifted to his left after escaping pressure in the pocket, and saw Williams in the back corner of the end zone, one-on-one. He threw across his body for Williams as he was hit, and queued up one of the craziest nights in Baylor history. Honorable mention: Dominique Hamilton tipping a game-sealing interception to Michael Sam.

Most immaculate reception: Griffin to Tevin Reese's hands and head to Kendall Wright for an 87-yard touchdown. This was a must-see play and one of the craziest we've ever seen. The big play tied the game in the third quarter, too. It was supposed to be a run play, but RG3 checked out and Terrance Ganaway went in motion. Wright was following coaches' advice to simply play fast, and the deflected ball ended up hitting him in stride.

Best speech: Paul Rhoads, Iowa State. Rhoads delivered another beauty to his team after it upset Oklahoma State to reach bowl eligibility. He even included a nod to his original classic, professing his pride in the privilege of being the head Cyclone.

Best halftime show: Oklahoma and Baylor's bands. I enjoy a little Party Rock only if it's dusted in irony. But two team bands combining for a choreographed flash mob? (OU gets in on the party at about 1:45 mark.) I can get behind that. It got the crowd going, too. Honorable mention: Texas A&M's Block T featuring the entire Corps of Cadets for the first time since 1956.

Funniest quote: Michael Sam, DE, Missouri. After intercepting Seth Doege to essentially seal the game, Sam remembered a piece of coaching from his acting head coach, defensive coordinator Dave Steckel. "I could hear his voice in the back of my head saying ‘Get your a-- down, Michael Sam,'" he said.

Second-funniest quote: Sam. What happened on that game-changing play? "I was trying to hit the s--- out of the quarterback," Sam said. "He threw the ball, and then I just dropped back, and Dominique (Hamilton) batted it up." A banner day for Sam and voice recorders in Columbia on Saturday.

Weekend rewind: ACC

November, 21, 2011
It’s unbelievable that the final week of the regular season is upon us. Here’s a look forward at the top three games of Week 13 and a look back at the highlights and lowlights of Week 12:

The good: Quarterback play. Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas, NC State’s Mike Glennon, Virginia’s Michael Rocco, Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington and Wake Forest’s Tanner Price all had impressive performances in their wins. Washington ran for more than 100 yards and passed for more than 100. Thomas accounted for three touchdowns, Price had 320 yards and three touchdowns, Glennon had three touchdowns and no interceptions, and Rocco’s poise on the final scoring drive was a big difference in the upset of FSU.

[+] EnlargeMike Glennon
AP Photo/Gerry BroomeMike Glennon guided NC State to an upset of Clemson.
The great: NC State’s performance against Clemson. Where has this team been all year? It was the most complete performance of the season for the Wolfpack, and the program’s first win over a top-10 team in five seasons under coach Tom O’Brien.

The bad: Ryan Houston’s fumble on the 5-yard line. With UNC on the verge of taking a 14-0 lead, Virginia Tech’s Antone Exum forced the fumble on the 5-yard line. The Hokies then drove 95 yards to tie the game at 7. What goes around comes around. Remember the last time UNC won in Blacksburg on a Thursday night? Ryan Williams' fumble had a hand in it.

The ugly: Clemson. It was a train wreck. The offense couldn’t get anything going, and the defense couldn’t make any stops. NC State played a terrific game, but Clemson had four turnovers and was just 2-of-14 on third downs.

The bizarre: The end of the FSU-Virginia game. The Hoos thought the game was over. Mike London was trying to get his team to the locker room. He should have hid them in there. A face mask penalty, the review of the incomplete pass, the missed field goal … can’t remember anything like it.

The punishment: Miami gave everything it had to beat South Florida 6-3 and become bowl eligible, only to find out on Sunday that the university decided not to participate in a bowl game this year.

Top three games of Week 13

1. No. 5 Virginia Tech at Virginia: The Coastal Division, the Commonwealth Cup, bragging rights, in-state recruiting -- it will all be on the line on Saturday in Charlottesville. Virginia Tech has won 11 of the past 12 games in the series, including in 2007, the last time the Hokies beat UVa in Charlottesville to win the Coastal Division title. Virginia enters the game on a four-game winning streak.

2. No. 17 Clemson at No. 12 South Carolina: The Tigers have lost each of the past two games against their in-state rival under coach Dabo Swinney, and they haven’t been playing as well as they had earlier in the season. Clemson has lost two of its last three, including an embarrassing 37-13 defeat to NC State this past weekend.

3. No. 13 Georgia at No. 23 Georgia Tech: The SEC East champs have won nine straight games and haven’t lost since Sept. 10 against South Carolina. The Bulldogs’ defense is No. 11 in the country and is holding opponents to 17.8 points per game. Georgia Tech is second in the country with 323.5 rushing yards per game.