College Football Thoughts
By: Mitch Light | 11/29/10, 4:03 PM EST
The holiday weekend was highlighted by two epic games on Friday — Auburn's rally from 24-0 to beat Alabama and Nevada's thrilling overtime win to crush Boise State's national title hopes.
TEAMS OF THE WEEK
Nevada — After coming painfully close in recent years, the Wolf Pack broke through with their first win over Boise State since 1998. Nevada fell behind 24–7 at the half, but the Pack, led by senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick, outscored Boise State 24–7 over the final two quarters of regulation and won the game in overtime on a 34-yard field goal by Anthony Martinez. Nevada, now 11–1 overall and 6–1 in the WAC, will grab a share of its first WAC title since 2005 with a win this weekend at Louisiana Tech (assuming Boise beats Utah State).
Auburn — Beating Alabama is always noteworthy, but when you rally from a 24–0 deficit in the second quarter to beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa in a game that keeps you on the path to play for a national title? Well, it doesn’t get any better for an Auburn Tiger. The 28–27 win was the Tigers’ fourth in their last five trips to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Gene Chizik’s team is 12–0 and ranked No. 2 in the BCS Standings.
Notre Dame — It’s been a difficult year at Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish ended the regular season on a high note, beating USC 20–16 on the road for their first win over the Trojans since 2001. Notre Dame won despite picking up less than 300 yards of offense and losing the turnover battle 4-to-1. Freshman quarterback Tommy Rees competed 20-of-32 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Irish defense, which limited USC to 261 yards, has given up a total of 22 points over its final three games.
DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK
Iowa — The Hawkeyes, once considered a serious threat to win the Big Ten title, limped to the finish line with their third straight loss, a troubling 27–24 setback at Minnesota. Iowa managed 218 yards of offense against a Gopher defense that had been allowing over 400 yards per game. The Hawkeyes are now 7–5 overall and 4–4 in the Big Ten.
Pittsburgh — The Panthers were all alone in first place in the Big East with a 4–1 record and controlled their destiny to play in a BCS bowl. Not any more. Pittsburgh lost at home to West Virginia, 35–10, on national television Friday afternoon in one of the school’s most uninspiring performances in the Backyard Brawl. Dave Wannstedt’s team can still win the outright league title, but the Panthers need to win at Cincinnati, and both UConn and West Virginia have to lose.
Vanderbilt — The Commodores didn’t exactly play inspired football in the final game of the one-year Robbie Caldwell era. Caldwell announced his (forced) resignation Saturday morning, then saw his team close the season with a 34–13 loss at home to a Wake Forest team that had lost nine straight games. The Commodores, who ended the season 2–10 overall and 1–7 in the SEC, failed to score more than 14 points in six of their final seven games.
• Alabama’s six drives in the first half averaged 68 yards; its five drives in the second half averaged 12 yards.
• South Carolina has defeated Clemson in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1970.
• Texas lost five home games this season for the first time since 1956.
• Auburn has won four games this season in which it trailed by double digits — Clemson (17–0), South Carolina (20–7), Georgia (21-7) and Alabama (24-0).
• California closed the season with three straight losses at home, and the Bears averaged 13.3 points in those three games.
• Memphis ended the season with the fewest touchdowns (17) in the nation. The Tigers went 1–11 in Larry Porter’s first season.
• West Virginia has only allowed 13 touchdowns in 11 games, the fewest in the country by five TDs.
• Syracuse went 0–4 at home vs. FBS teams and 5–1 on the road.
• Florida had under 300 yards of offense five times this season.
• None of the top 20 teams in the nation in turnover margin has a losing record.
• Not sure of the significance of this, but neither Navy nor Ohio had a touchback all season.
• Boise State only punted 27 times, fewest in the nation. Vanderbilt punted 88 times, the most.
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