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College Football 2012 – Week 12 Recap

Kansas State upset by Baylor.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Just when you think you’ve got things figured out in college football, anarchy rears its ugly head and reminds you who’s in control. Never was that more true than this week when the top two teams in the country both went down to defeat. The door is now wide open for Notre Dame and the SEC champion to meet in the national championship game. But if the last two weeks have taught us anything, the top of the polls can be a very scary place to be.

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

#14 STANFORD 17, #1 OREGON 14 (OT)

Stanford snapped Oregon’s school-record 14-game winning streak and derailed the Ducks’ title hopes with a rare road upset in overtime. The credit in this one has to go to the Stanford defense, which came into the game leading the Pac-12 in defense and held Oregon to just 405 total yards, almost 160 less than their season average. Heisman hopeful Kenjon Barner was held scoreless and limited to just 66 yards on 21 carries in the loss. Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor rushed for 161 yards to key the upset. Oregon missed a 41-yard field goal attempt in overtime, allowing Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson to boot the game-winner. The 14 points scored by Oregon were its fewest since September 2009.

BAYLOR 52, #2 KANSAS STATE 24

Baylor jumped out to a 28-7 second quarter lead and Kansas State would never again pull within single digits, likely ending the Wildcats hopes of a national championship. Kansas State’s defense simply had no answer for a Baylor rushing attack that rolled up 342 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Conversely, Kansas State could manage just 76 yards on the ground against what had been the nation’s worst defense. In addition to losing a title shot, Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein may have lost his status as the Heisman frontrunner after throwing three interceptions and rushing for just 39 yards (more than 35 yards below his season average) in the loss.  The Wildcats have not won in Waco since 2002.

#3 NOTRE DAME 38, WAKE FOREST 0

Notre Dame stated its case for why it should be Number One when the new polls come out on Sunday as they pitched their first shutout of the season and held the Demon Deacons to just 209 yards (55 rushing). Everett Golson threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns as the Notre Dame offense had one of its best games of the season, racking up 584 yards of total offense. The Irish are 11-0 for the first time since 1989 while Wake Forest dropped to 1-33 all-time against Top Five opponents.

#4 ALABAMA 49, WESTERN CAROLINA 0

With Oregon and Kansas State falling this week, Alabama is suddenly right back in the mix for the national title. This week, they didn’t face much of a challenge from a Catamounts squad that was just 1-9 at the FCS level and brought in a defense that ranked 120th out of 122 FCS teams. Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron went 6/6 for 133 yards and a touchdown and running back Eddie Lacy rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns before both were pulled in the second quarter. After struggling last week, Alabama’s defense responded with a solid performance, holding Western Carolina to just eight first downs and returning a fumble for a touchdown. McCarron’s second quarter touchdown pass was his 21st of the season, a new school record.

#5 GEORGIA 45, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 14

Don’t look now, but Georgia suddenly finds itself in the middle of the national championship hunt, with next week’s matchup against Georgia Tech and an SEC championship showdown with Alabama all that stands between the Bulldogs and a title shot. After a slow start this week, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw four touchdowns in less than less than 13 minutes to blow this game open in the third quarter. This win should help Georgia as they got to see firsthand Georgia Southern’s triple-option offense, the same attack they’ll face next week against Georgia Tech.

#6 OHIO STATE 21, WISCONSIN 14 (OT)

Ohio State was outgained 360-236 in this game, but running back Carlos Hyde made the plays when he needed to, rushing for two touchdowns including the game-winner in overtime, to keep the Buckeyes’ dreams of an undefeated season alive. Wisconsin’s defense was in control much of the day, allowing just 46 total yards in the final 41 minutes of regulation. But Hyde scored his second touchdown of the game in overtime and Badgers’ quarterback Curt Phillips’ fourth-down pass in overtime was batted down, securing the Buckeyes’ victory.

#7 FLORIDA 23, JACKSONVILLE STATE 0

The Gators offense really could have taken the day off as a second quarter interception return for a touchdown gave Florida all the points it would need in this mismatch. Florida held the Gamecocks to 4-of-16 on third down conversions and to just 48 rushing yards on 29 attempts. Florida has now won 51 straight against non-BCS opponents and has never lost to an FCS foe.

#8 LOUISIANA STATE 41, MISSISSIPPI 35

LSU needed a punt return touchdown to tie the game late and a Jeremy Hill touchdown run with just 15 seconds to survive a strong upset bid by the Rebels. Ole Miss actually outgained the Tigers, but the Rebels turned the ball over four times, leading to 13 Tiger points. Hill rushed for 77 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers while Ole Miss receiver Donte Moncreif caught six passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. LSU turned the ball over three times Saturday after having not turned it over in their previous three games.

#9 TEXAS A&M 47, SAM HOUSTON STATE 28

The legend of Johnny Manziel continues to grow as the freshman racked up 367 yards and five touchdowns against an overmatched FCS defense. In the win, Manziel broke the NCAA records for most total yards by a freshman and most rushing yards by a freshman quarterback. He also became just the fifth player in FBS history (and first freshman) to rush for at least 1,000 yards and pass for 3,000 in the same season. He has already set the school record for total offense. With A&M up 40-0 in the third quarter, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin even let Manziel attempt an extra point (he missed wide right).

#10 FLORIDA STATE 41, MARYLAND 14

With Maryland starting a converted linebacker at quarterback, the outcome of this one was never really in doubt. But Florida State still rolled in convincing fashion, outgaining the Terps 397-170, to clinch a spot in the ACC title game. Seminoles running back Devonta Freeman rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns as Florida State jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead and then coasted to victory from there. In the win, FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins set a new NCAA record for career points scored (439).

#11 CLEMSON 62, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 48

The bad news for Clemson is that, after giving up an average of just 14.3 points per game in the previous three weeks, the Tigers’ defense returned to their early season ways, giving up 48 points and 597 yards this week. The good news is that the offense continues to chug along at a school record pace, rolling up 754 total yards and, at one point, rolling off 42 unanswered points. Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for five touchdowns and ran for three more to lead Clemson to their seventh ACC win (a first in school history) and its first 10-win regular season since its national championship season in 1981. Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 493 yards and five touchdowns in the loss.

#12 SOUTH CAROLINA 24, WOFFORD 7

The last two times these teams met, both games were settled by seven or fewer points. For much of the day, it looked like this game could follow that same pattern as the two teams were tied at seven in the fourth quarter before the Gamecocks rallied for 17 unanswered points to provide the final margin of victory. Replacing the injured Marcus Lattimore, running back Kenny Miles rushed for 127 yards (his first 100-yard day since 2009) and a touchdown in the win.

#13 OKLAHOMA 50, WEST VIRGINIA 49

While this might not have been the de facto Big 12 title game many people expected early in the year, the game certainly delivered plenty of excitement. OU quarterback Landry Jones threw for a career-high 554 yards and six touchdowns in helping the Sooners avoid an upset in a game in which the lead changed hand four times in the final 7 ½ minutes. Jones hit Kenny Stills for the receiver’s fourth touchdown of the game to retake the lead with just 24 seconds left. In a surprise move, star West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin spent most of the game at tailback. The move paid off big for the Mountaineers’ offense, as Austin rushed for a school-record 344 yards and two touchdowns.

#15 OREGON STATE 62, CALIFORNIA 14

Playing for the injured Cody Vaz, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion passed for 325 yards and four touchdowns in a rout of the Bears. Cal’s offense was never able to get untracked against the Beavers’ tough defense, turning the ball over four times and being outgained 559-322. The Bears also shot themselves in the foot with 15 penalties for 172 yards. Cal has now lost five in a row, its longest losing streak in 11 years.

#16 NEBRASKA 38, MINNESOTA 14

Nebraska came in with the Big Ten’s leading rushing offense, but it was the passing game that helped them dominate the Gophers on Saturday. Quarterback Taylor Martinez threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the Cornhuskers’ all-time leading passer in the process. The defense was equally dominant, holding Minnesota to just 177 total yards, returning an interception for a touchdown and not giving up a third-down conversion until late in the fourth quarter. The win gives Nebraska its first undefeated season at home since 2001.

#17 UCLA 38, #21 SOUTHERN CAL 28

UCLA jumped out to a 24-0 lead and then held on late to secure just the second win over its cross-town rivals in the last 14 years. Bruins running back Johnathan Franklin, who came in ranked sixth in the nation in rushing, ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns to key the win. Star USC receiver Marqise Lee caught 9 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown in the loss. With the win, UCLA clinches the Pac-12 South title and a spot in the conference championship game.

#18 TEXAS, BYE

After dropping back-to-back games to West Virginia and Oklahoma, Texas has won four straight and can still play spoiler in the Big 12. The Longhorns got a bye this week before hosting TCU on Thanksgiving Day. They’ll close the season at Kansas State.

UTAH STATE 48, #19 LOUISIANA TECH 41 (OT)

Louisiana Tech scored 24 unanswered points in the final 16 minutes of regulation to force overtime but was unable to make the fourth-down play it needed in overtime to hold on. Bulldogs quarterback Colby Cameron threw two interceptions in the game, ending his NCAA-record streak of 445 straight passes without an interception. Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams was the hero for the Aggies, accounting for 287 total yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in overtime. The win guarantees Utah State at least a share of the WAC title.

#20 LOUISVILLE, BYE

The Cardinals saw their chance for an undefeated season disappear with a loss at Syracuse. But the Cardinals still have a lot to play for, with a potential Big East title and a BCS bid on the line. They got a bye this week to regroup and prepare for their final two games against Connecticut and at #22 Rutgers.

#22 RUTGERS 10, CINCINNATI 3

Rutgers defense showed again why it is one of the best, holding the Big East’s top offense to just three points and 90 yards on the ground. On offense, backup running back Savon Huggins, who was filling in for the injured Jawan Jamison, rushed for a career-high 179 yards to power the Scarlet Knights to 5-0 in the Big East for the first time in school history.

#23 MICHIGAN 42, IOWA 17

Denard Robinson returned to the field after missing 2 ½ games with an elbow injury. But in a new wrinkle, rather than lining up under center, Robinson played at running back where he rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries. He may be needed in that role after starting back Fitzgerald Toussaint left the game with a broken leg that will require surgery. Robinson’s replacement at quarterback, Devin Gardner, had a big day, with 314 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns. Iowa pulled to within four points early in the second quarter before the Wolverines responded with 28 unanswered points.

OKLAHOMA STATE 59, #23 TEXAS TECH 21

Oklahoma State played two quarterbacks, but it didn’t matter who was throwing the ball down the field—Isaiah Anderson was going to catch it. The senior receiver caught four passes for a career-high 174 yards and three touchdowns with scoring receptions of 60, 33 and 66 yards. The Cowboys scored 28 unanswered points in the second quarter to blow the game open and then held on thanks to a solid defensive effort. Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege led the nation in passing touchdowns and was second in passing yards, but was held to just 230 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Cowboys also blocked two punts in this game, returning one for a touchdown. The Red Raiders have not won in Stillwater since 2001.

#25 KENT STATE 31, BOWLING GREEN 24

Kent State is ranked for the first time in 39 years and made more history today, securing a spot in the MAC title game for the first time in school history. Today’s win didn’t come easy, as the Golden Flashes had to rally from a third quarter deficit and then get a go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter before holding back two Bowling Green drives in Kent State territory in the game’s final minutes. Kent State running back Dri Archer rushed for 274 yards and two touchdowns (on runs of 79 and 74 yards). Bowling Green’s Chris Gallon caught 10 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

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