With none of college football's top five teams taking on ranked opponents, a lackluster Week 12 was expected. Instead, it was arguably the most thrilling week of the season.
Auburn's miraculous win over Georgia was the most dramatic moment and perhaps the best finish of the year.
UCF also provided a firework-filled ending, as the Knights remained a favorite for a BCS bid with an incredible finish against Temple. Michigan and Northwestern went to triple overtime to decide their battle, while Duke only needed regulation to post a program-changing win over Miami (Fla.).
USC brought the string of thrilling finishes into the night, as the Trojans converted a late fourth down to set up their 20-17 upset of No. 4 Stanford.
Elsewhere, Boston College's Andre Williams had a record-shattering effort on the ground, while Wisconsin and Ohio State also notched enormous rushing efforts.
Note: All rankings based on Week 12 BCS standings.
Before last week, UCLA's Myles Jack was just a linebacker—perhaps the best freshman linebacker in the country, but a linebacker nonetheless.
In Week 11, Jack took the rock at running back for the Bruins and tallied 120 yards and a touchdown on six carries, earning him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
This week, Jack again took up his post at running back and punched in four touchdowns and 59 yards on 13 carries to lead the Bruins to a 41-31 win over Washington on Friday night.
The humble Bellevue, Wash., native simply thanked his offensive line afterward, via the Associated Press (h/t ESPN):
I don't really take much credit for it. It's just the line blocking for me. The holes are right there, and I just hit them. When I'm in there, everybody in the stadium knows what we're about to run.
Even if the Huskies knew what was coming, they couldn't stop it.
With the win, UCLA stayed alive in the Pac-12 South. The Bruins have a crucial clash with division leader Arizona State next week in Pasadena.
Yes, Northern Illinois posted a big win over Ball State Wednesday night, topping the Cardinals 48-27 to all but lock down a berth in the MAC title game.
However, that still might not be enough for NIU to jump Fresno State in the BCS.
The Huskies trailed at halftime and entered the fourth quarter tied with Ball State at 27, but ultimately pulled away late. The win over BSU certainly didn't help Northern Illinois' case in the eyes of the poll voters.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch was impressive as usual, posting 468 total yards and four touchdowns. However, the NIU defense struggled, nearly giving up 500 total yards.
Afterward, Bleacher Report's BCS guru Saumel Chi predicted that while the win would help NIU close the gap, it wouldn't vault the Huskies over the Bulldogs in this week's BCS standings. Matt Zemek of Footballer.com also chimed in, saying that Fresno should end the season with a tougher slate than NIU.
If that's the case, this victory for the Huskies might be all for naught in their BCS quest.
Lesson of the day: Don't get into a sword fight with Kirk Herbstreit.
On ESPN's College GameDay, host Lee Corso picked USC to beat Stanford and donned full Trojans gear, including armor, a helmet and a sword.
Naturally, what happened next was nearly disastrous. Corso was in a playful sword fight with his co-host Herbstreit and ended up with blood dripping from his chin.
Herbstreit, apparently ESPN's resident master swordsman, showed a good warrior's spirit and wiped the blood from his wounded foe's chin.
Ohio State took care of business, beating Illinois 60-35. The 60 is great for OSU, but the 35 could prove to be problematic.
The Buckeyes, at No. 3 in the BCS, needed to show outright dominance to prove that they are worthy of a national title bid—and show that they shouldn't be jumped by a team like Baylor.
It looked like OSU would do just that, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in Champaign, but the Illini mounted a comeback and stayed within arm's length of the Buckeyes until late in the fourth quarter.
Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com pointed out the unenviable position Ohio State is in as the BCS "third wheel":
Even amid a stern wind, the Illini weren't blown away by the Buckeyes' early four-touchdown lead. In fact, the gray skies engulfing Memorial Stadium may have further clouded the BCS outlook.
How will voters perceive a 25-point win by a team now riding a nation-long and program record-tying 22-game win streak? Will yielding five touchdowns to a team now riding a 20-game conference skid influence the next batch of ballots and BCS rankings.
Despite faltering on defense, OSU nearly tallied 600 yards of offense behind big days on the ground from Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller. Hyde led the way with 246 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Miller added 184 yards, including a 70-yard score to open the game.
OSU will have another chance at an offensive explosion next week against Indiana, which is last in the Big Ten in total defense.
It isn't often that a win over a 4-7 team garners the rushing of a field, but Kansas' win over West Virginia sure did.
The Jayhawks topped the Mountaineers 31-19 to break a 27-game losing streak in Big 12 play. As a result, coach Charlie Weis received a Gatorade shower on the sideline and the fans stormed the field, ripped down a goalpost and tossed it into Potter Lake.
As Weis and the goalpost get washed clean, KU is hoping its era of futility will be washed away as well. Afterward, Weis told reporters that he was happiest for his players, per Doug Tucker of the Associated Press (h/t Houston Chronicle):
My enjoyment doesn't come from me. I enjoy watching (the players) have fun. I do enjoy watching the smiles on everyone's faces. My true enjoyment is watching everyone else be happy. And you want to know something? That's pretty nice.
Running back James Sims led the way with 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while the Jayhawks defense forced two turnovers and eight WVU punts.
With the loss, the Mountaineers fell out of contention for the postseason, snapping an 11-year bowl streak.
The Illinois offense preformed admirably against Ohio State in a 60-35 defeat.
That wasn't what made the Illini a loser this weekend. Even its defense didn't, despite giving up nearly 600 yards.
Instead, the Illini receive a thumbs down thanks to their coaches and fans.
First, the Illini student section tried a card stunt that would've been pretty cool. However, with the student section being less than half full, it ended up being pretty sad.
Later on, Illinois head coach Tim Beckman snapped at offensive coordinator Bill Cubit on the sideline and had to be restrained by another coach. Afterward, Cubit asserted that there are no hard feelings between the coaches, as seen in a video posted by Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune:
You know, it's a game—it's the way it is. Everybody's out there competing. There's no dysfunction over at our side. And I'm not saying there's dysfunction anywhere else—we just roll with it.
It wasn't quite as heated as the tussle between two South Carolina coaches earlier in this season, but it was still a bad look for a team that has lost its last six games and hasn't won a Big Ten contest since Oct. 8, 2011.
Thanks to another enormous game from running back Andre Williams, Boston College is now bowl eligible.
Williams tallied an incredible 339 rushing yards to break BC's single-game and single-season rushing records, as the Eagles topped North Carolina State, 38-21. Williams' stellar day was also an ACC record and was the best performance by an FBS rusher this season.
The senior workhorse's record-breaking performance came on 42 carries (which tied his own school record) and included two touchdowns. This game was just the latest amazing performance in what has been a remarkable season for Williams.
A week ago, he tallied 295 yards in the Eagles' win over New Mexico State. Earlier in the season, he posted five touchdowns and 263 yards against Army, and he has eclipsed 160 yards in each of his last four games.
He now has 1,810 rushing yards on the season and 14 touchdowns, making him the leading rusher in college football.
With the win, BC improved to 6-4, marking an incredible turnaround in Steve Addazio's first year as head coach. The Eagles were just 2-10 last year with only one win in ACC play.
The most compelling part about a fan running onto the field at a sporting event is the inevitable bone-jarring hit that ends his or her 15 seconds of fame.
This incident at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is one of the biggest hits of the year.
One Oklahoma state trooper did his best impression of Sooners great Brian Bosworth and laid out the fan on the field, causing an eruption from those in the stands.
It might have been the most exciting part of OU's 48-10 blowout of Iowa State.
The original Vine post can be seen here.
After a 1-5 start, North Carolina looked like lint at the bottom of the ACC dust pan. Now, the Tar Heels are just a win over Old Dominion away from bowl eligibility.
UNC notched its fourth-straight win, topping Pittsburgh on the road, 34-27. Offensively, the team was far from impressive, but benefited from two punt-return touchdowns from freshman receiver Ryan Switzer. The West Virginia native brought back a 65-yard score just before halftime and a 61-yarder in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner.
Pitt head coach Paul Chryst talked about the job done by Switzer, saying it was a lose-lose situation with him returning, via PittsburghPanthers.com:
We knew Ryan Switzer was a good returner. I think we had enough levels of coverage to stop long returns. We tried to spread the net, but it wasn’t much of a net. They made plays and obviously we didn’t. We talked about intentionally kicking it out of bounds, but that’s a double-edged sword.
The story of the game was nearly an incredible Pitt comeback. The Panthers fell behind 27-3 in the third quarter, only to post 24 unanswered points to tie the game at 27.
Shortly after, Switzer broke the tie, and UNC held on from there despite tallying only 322 total yards on offense.
The only thing the Wisconsin rush offense didn't do against Indiana was get Bucky Badger a few carries.
The Badgers (sans Bucky) tallied 554 yards on the ground, boasting three runners over 100 yards and a fourth with 86 in their 51-3 dismantling of Indiana.
James White led the way with 205 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Melvin Gordon wasn't far behind, taking 13 touches for 146 yards and a score.
Offensive lineman Dan Voltz commented afterward about how beneficial it is for the Badgers to have two excellent backs in White and Gordon, as both have now gone over 1,000 yards on the year, via UWBadgers.com:
I think (White) is great every game. He is obviously stepped it up, he is playing out of his mind right now. (Gordon and White) are both great. They run different plays. One guy is more powerful, James, Melvin is better on the edge, so it is a dual threat back there. Right now we are running the ball inside a little more, so you are going to see a little more of James, but every week it is going to change and you don't know who is going to be a bigger threat.
Third-string back Corey Clement completed the hat trick, amassing 108 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns. Receiver James Abbrederis even joined in on the fun with 86 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries.
UW averaged 11.1 yards per rush and amassed 676 total yards in the win, while its defense held the Hoosiers to just 224 total yards.
The Badgers made a loud cry for respect with the effort, showing that they might be more than a little insulted by their No. 22 ranking.
Central Florida, the favorite in the American Athletic Conference, couldn't possibly have its BCS hopes crushed by a Temple team that has just one win on the year, right?
Right, but it was close.
UCF found itself trailing by a touchdown in the final two minutes, but mounted an incredible comeback in very little time.
The video above shows the game-tying touchdown for the Knights, in which quarterback Blake Bortles escaped pressure, took a hit right to the chops, but still found receiver J.J. Worton open about 50 yards downfield in the end zone. Worton laid out and made an insane grab to tie the game at 36.
Afterward, Worton was understandably flabbergasted, via Andy Seeley of UCFKnights.com:
Honestly it's a blur right now to me. Everyone is talking about it. I'll have to see it on film to remember it. I remember I caught it and after that everyone else was yelling and crazy. All glory to God right now. I couldn't be more happy with the team right now. It's a great day for UCF.
From there, the Owls had a chance to take the late victory, but their drive came up short, and they gave the ball back to UCF with just 19 seconds left on the clock.
Bortles then hooked up with Rannell Hall on a 64-yard reception that took the Knights down to the Temple six-yard line, setting up the game-winning, chip-shot field goal.
UCF escaped with a 39-36 win and remained in control of its own destiny to earn the AAC's BCS automatic bid.
Nebraska fumbled on its first series against Michigan State, which started a trend of misfortune for the Cornhuskers.
The 'Huskers had five turnovers, including four fumbles, in the 41-28 loss that knocked them out of contention for the Big Ten Legends Division title.
Offensively, NU had little trouble moving the ball, as it notched 392 total yards, the highest total allowed this season by the MSU defense, which entered the week ranked No. 1 nationally. However, those five turnovers proved to be crippling.
We didn't lose that football game because of a lack of effort or a lack of want-to. We just made too many mistakes to overcome. I told them it was a team loss. We didn't play well enough. We couldn't overcome ourselves. Obviously, everyone's disappointed. We just made too many mistakes to overcome. It's hard to be minus-five in the turnover category and win a football game against a quality football team.
The Spartans scored 24 of their points directly off the four Huskers fumbles. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who lost two fumbles, also threw an interception in the first quarter.
Kurtis Drummond led the way for the MSU defense, notching that pick, a forced fumble and a team-high 10 tackles.
While the loss ended Nebraska's Big Ten title hopes, it moved the Spartans one step closer to the Big Ten Legends title. MSU can clinch with a win over Northwestern next week or with a Minnesota loss.
Those who missed the ending to the Auburn-Georgia game missed one of the most inconceivable endings in college football history. Luckily, we have video.
Auburn looked like it had Georgia beaten early. The Tigers jumped to a 27-7 lead in the second quarter and carried that 20-point advantage into the final 10 minutes of the game. Then they apparently began making plans for the Iron Bowl.
UGA mounted a furious comeback behind quarterback Aaron Murray, who finished 33-of-49 passing with 452 total yards and four total touchdowns. The senior capped the thrilling rebound with a five-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 38-37 lead with less than two minutes left.
Auburn's answer looked like it would be futile, as the Tigers faced a 4th-and-18 in their own territory with little time remaining.
Then, something incredible happened. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall stepped up and launched a prayer into double coverage. Two UGA defenders fought for the ball, and the Tigers' prayers were answered. Deflected off the Bulldogs' defenders, the ball landed in the hands of receiver Ricardo Louis for a 73-yard touchdown.
The Dawgs tried to muster up a little more magic on their final drive and almost did. They took the ball down to the Auburn 20, but Murray's final pass fell incomplete and Auburn escaped with a 43-38 victory.
The Tigers will now have a much-needed week off to prepare for an Iron Bowl matchup on Nov. 30 with Alabama that will decide the SEC West champion.
Texas is still alive in the race for the Big 12 Conference title, even after losing 38-13 to Oklahoma State. However, the loss proved that the Longhorns just aren't up to par with the league's best.
I give Oklahoma State and Mike Gundy credit. They won in about every way you can win. We didn't rush for more yards than they did. We lost three turnovers to one. We had to win in those two categories...Very disappointing night.
OSU intercepted UT quarterback Case McCoy three times, including two by cornerback Justin Gilbert. The senior added nine tackles and returned one of his picks 43 yards for a touchdown just before halftime.
Quarterback Clint Chelf led the way for the Cowboys offense. The senior finished 16-of-22 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns, while also running 10 times for 95 yards and two scores.
Oklahoma State will face a crucial test against Baylor next week before finishing up at home against rival Oklahoma. Texas will have next weekend off before hosting Texas Tech on Thanksgiving. UT will travel to Baylor on Dec. 7.
Don't worry, Duke basketball. The Blue Devils football team has your back.
College basketball fans might remember the Miami (Fla.) basketball team mocking Duke's floor-slap on defense last season, as the Hurricanes were routing the No. 1 Blue Devils on the hardcourt.
Now on the gridiron, the supposed basketball school, Duke, returned the favor, routing the supposed football-centric 'Canes.
The contest was back and forth through three quarters, but the Blue Devils eventually ran away with a decisive 48-30 win.
Many fans and pundits around the nation were wondering if this Duke team could actually be for real. As center Dave Harding said afterward, the nation now has its answer, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN): "This team is not just a fluke."
That victory also capped a weekend that played perfectly into Duke's hands. The Blue Devils were in a four-way tie with Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami atop the ACC Coastal Division going into the week. GT lost to Clemson on Thursday, VT fell to Maryland Saturday and, of course, Duke handed Miami its loss.
Now the Blue Devils are in sole possession of the Coastal lead and can win the division by beating Wake Forest and North Carolina to close the season.
Coming off five straight losses, Northwestern had plenty of chances to close out a win over Michigan and end its skid. However, as head coach Pat Fitzgerald said afterward, the 27-19 triple-overtime loss came down to missed opportunities, via NUSports.com:
The game can be summed up in one phrase: missed opportunities. We had our hand on the ball a lot as a defense all the way down there to the end in overtime we created a fumble and it just didn't seem like it was our day. So a lot of credit to Michigan -- they did a nice job coming back and made some big plays down the stretch.
Michigan converted two fourth downs on its final drive of regulation to set up a remarkable, rushed 44-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons, which sent the game into overtime at 9-9.
Quarterback Devin Gardner hit Jake Butt for a quick-strike touchdown in the first OT, but Northwestern's Kain Colter answered back, punching in a one-yard touchdown to tie the game at 16. The teams then traded field goals in the second extra period.
Gardner then put UM back ahead with a rushing touchdown of his own, followed by a two-point conversion on the ground. For that, Northwestern had no answer. NU quarterback Trevor Siemian was sacked for a 14-yard loss on second down, sealing the Wildcats' fate.
Now, they must take down Big Ten Legends Division leader Michigan State next week to keep their postseason hopes alive. Meanwhile, Michigan is simply playing for a better bowl bid, with a trip to Iowa coming next week before a tilt at home in Ann Arbor against Ohio State to close the regular season.
A major Florida State weakness was revealed this weekend: The Seminoles just can't seem to hit 60 points.
Last week, FSU beat Wake Forest 59-3 and turned around to top Syracuse 59-3 this week.
The 'Noles dominated the Orange, holding a 523-247 advantage in total yardage behind a strong day from quarterback Jameis Winston.
The redshirt freshman was ultra-efficient completing 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't have to do much more than that, as he was eventually pulled in the blowout for backup Sean Maguire.
He showed no signs of being distracted by the allegations he is facing off the field. Afterward, Jimbo Fisher was asked if he was curious as to how Winston might respond given the situation, but the FSU coach didn't take the bait, per Seminoles.com:
I have curiosity with every player on the roster on every game. I promise you I do. To me it's consistency and how long you can stay that way. I'm very proud of the way our whole team played.
If Fisher's team continues to play this way, it'll be playing for a national title at season's end. The 'Noles will host Idaho next week before heading to The Swamp to take on rival Florida to close the regular season.
Florida nearly pulled of an improbable upset of No. 10 South Carolina on the road with a redshirt freshman making his first start at quarterback. But the Gators came up just short in Columbia, falling 19-14.
UF head coach Will Muschamp was apparently distraught at the loss, prompting him to punch a chalkboard. Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post tweeted a picture of the Gator coach's wounded hand after the game.
He also included a quote from Muschamp, who said, "I hit a chalkboard. Dumb."
While that isn't the most mature way to react, it's definitely understandable, given the trying season at UF. And given the Gators' effort against USC, Muschamp has to be given credit for not allowing his team to give up.
However, despite their efforts, the Gators are likely to see their 22-year bowl streak snapped, unless they can do the impossible and upset rival Florida State in their final regular-season game.
South Carolina took a big step toward winning the SEC East even though the team it needs to lose, Missouri, was idle.
The Gamecocks edged Florida 19-14 to close out their SEC schedule at 6-2 in league play while the only other two-loss team in the East, Georgia, fell in a thriller to Auburn.
With UGA now out, USC—owner of the head-to-head tiebreaker—just needs one Mizzou loss and it is headed to Atlanta. Given the Tigers' remaining schedule, the odds are definitely in the Gamecocks' favor.
Mizzou will first head on the road against Ole Miss next week. The Rebels are as tough at home as anyone, as they beat LSU and nearly beat Texas A&M at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Then the Tigers will have to outscore Johnny Manziel and A&M at home in their final regular-season test.
The way Missouri has been playing, it is far from a done deal for South Carolina. However, if Mizzou is going to win the SEC title, it'll have to prove that it can finish strong against tough competition at the end of a tough league slate.
The biggest winner from USC's takedown of Stanford: the Oregon Ducks.
As Trojan kicker Andre Heidari drilled a 47-yard game-winning field goal, giving his team a 20-17 win, he also sent the Ducks back to the top of the Pac-12 North.
Oregon also delivered on its side of the deal by doing what Stanford couldn't do, taking down Utah, 44-21.
The Ducks outgained the Utes 433-297, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota. The redshirt sophomore bounced back from a rough game against the Cardinal, completing 19 of 26 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
Afterward, running back Byron Marshall, who notched two touchdowns against the Utes, was happy with the way the team bounced back after a heartbreaking loss to Stanford.
“Last week was last week, and last week was over with,” Marshall said, per Rob Moseley, GoDucks.com. "People realized that. That was the biggest thing. This was a test, and I think we handled it well.”
The UO offense wasn't completely on point, but De'Anthony Thomas made up for the relatively slow day by adding a 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, while also notching an eight-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to start the scoring.
Two tough tests still remain for the Ducks, as they'll travel to Arizona next week before hosting Oregon State to close the season.
Like Oregon, Baylor will also benefit from Stanford's loss to USC.
The Bears will move up to No. 4 after the Stanford loss and their own 63-34 win over Texas Tech.
TTU hung tough with BU early, as the two squads went score-for-score through the first half. However, after the break, the Bears broke loose, outscoring the Red Raiders 28-7 to close the game.
Quarterback Bryce Petty had an excellent game, throwing for 335 yards and three touchdowns, while adding nine yards and two scores on the ground.
Third-string running back Shock Linwood had an outstanding game as well, as the two runners ahead of him on the depth chart—Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin—were out of action. The redshirt freshman tallied 187 yards and a touchdown off 29 carries, while fellow redshirt freshman Devin Chafin added 100 yards and two scores on 11 carries.
BU gained 675 total yards in the victory and will now head on the road for a crucial trip to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State next week. The winner of that contest will be in the driver's seat in the Big 12.
Alabama played one of its worst games of the season, but still managed a win on the road against SEC foe Mississippi State.
After the ugly 20-7 win, Nick Saban summed up the game in a way only he could. Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News quoted the Alabama boss saying, "We won the game. But we didn't really beat the other team."
The Crimson Tide lost the turnover battle, coughing the ball up four times, while forcing just one MSU turnover.
However, the Bulldogs failed to capitalize, as the Tide defense ended up as its own savior. MSU converted just four times on third and fourth down in 18 tries.
Running back T.J. Yeldon had a strong game on the ground, tallying 160 yards on 24 carries but lost one fumble. Quarterback AJ McCarron struggled, connecting on just 18 of 32 passes for 187 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Alabama will have a chance to sharpen up next week against Chattanooga before its crucial contest with Auburn on Nov. 30, which will decide the SEC West champion.
Words can't quantify the job Ed Orgeron has done turning around USC after its dreadful start. Numbers, specifically a dollar amount on a head coaching contract, might do.
At this rate, USC athletic director Pat Haden might have no choice but to bring Orgeron back as the full-time head coach.
The Trojans posted a monumental 20-17 upset of No. 4 Stanford, marking their fifth win in six games under Orgeron's guidance.
The Southern Cal offense struggled in the game, but its defense intercepted Stanford's Kevin Hogan twice in the fourth quarter. The second pick set up a gutsy game-winning drive.
USC faced 4th-and-2 on that final drive near midfield and went for it. Quarterback Cody Kessler laced a pass through traffic to star receiver Marqise Lee to convert the first down. Kessler then hit his other star receiver, Nelson Agholor, for an 11-yard gain to set up Andre Heidari's 47-yard game-winning field goal.
Afterward, USC running backs coach Tommie Robinson gave his stamp of approval for Orgeron, as tweeted by Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports. "Ain't no doubt in my mind Ed Orgeron should be named (USC head coach)," Robinson said. "No man on this planet can make these kids play harder."
Right now, how can anyone argue with Robinson's claim?