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November 3, 2008

College Football Chaos

Call it November Madness. A heart-stopper on the plains of West Texas caps a wild day of fantastic finishes and late-game drama in college football.

Week 10 also revealed that Tim Tebow's not giving up his Heisman Trophy without a fight, Michigan's playing out the string and California is determined to have more outlandish uniforms than Oregon.

The Big Story

For a while Saturday, it felt like March and the first couple of days of the NCAA basketball tournament, with game after game coming down to the wire.

In the Big Ten, all within the span of about 45 minutes, there were games decided by an interception return touchdown (Northwestern over Minnesota), a hook-and-lateral touchdown (Purdue over Michigan) and a field goal (Michigan State over Wisconsin), all with 26 seconds or less remaining in the fourth quarter.

Then came the midday games and more mayhem. In the ACC, Miami scored a TD with less than a minute left then beat Virginia in OT. Wake Forest blew a big lead to Duke before winning in overtime. Florida State was all set to win in the final minute at Georgia Tech, but the Seminoles fumbled inside the 10 and the Yellow Jackets recovered in the end zone to hold on.

Pittsburgh won a field-goal contest in four overtimes against Notre Dame. Navy rallied from 20-points down the fourth quarter and beat Temple in OT. Illinois got a field goal with 24 seconds left to beat Iowa. Missouri intercepted a pass in the final two minutes to hold off Baylor.

Texas Tech topped them all. The late show from Lubbock, Texas, became the latest front-runner for game of the year, with Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell hooking up for a touchdown with a second left to beat Texas 39-33 and send shock waves through the national title race.

It's after such a totally entertaining Saturday such as this that someone who thinks the Bowl Championship Series is a really great idea will say, "See, if you had a playoff would the regular season be so much fun?"

Yes it would, but there is no reason to bang our heads against the wall. Best, rather, to enjoy the memories of a day made for satellite dishes.

Heisman-worthy

Tim Tebow wouldn't be considered cocky if he long ago had the weekend of Dec. 13 blocked off. That's when the Heisman Trophy is handed out.

For the first month and a half of the season, Tebow didn't seem to have much of a chance to match Archie Griffin and become the second two-time Heisman winner.

After accounting for five touchdowns in a 49-10 thumping of Georgia, Tebow is starting to gain ground on all those Big 12 quarterbacks with the freaky stats.

If Tebow and the Gators earn a spot in the national title game, you can all but guarantee he'll be a Heisman finalist.

End of an era

It wasn't long ago Nebraska was where Michigan is.

The Wolverines guaranteed themselves a losing season, their first since 1967, by falling 48-42 to Purdue.

No doubt, many Michigan fans are wondering what they've gotten into with coach Rich Rodriguez, whose first season in Ann Arbor was expected to be a rebuilding year. But this bad?

Nebraska fans had a similar feeling back in 2004, the first season under coach Bill Callahan. The NFL castoff had replaced Frank Solich and looked to change the culture of one of the most successful programs in college football history.

He started by leading the Cornhuskers to their first losing season in more than four decades. Things got better for Callahan, then got much worse, and last year he was fired.

Those worried that Michigan is heading down that road shouldn't.

While Rodriguez has brought a different personality and a different offense to Michigan, it's doubtful he'll alienate the fan base and the former members of the program the way Callahan did at Nebraska.

"You want to look at the finality of it all? I've been here nine, 10 months. We've had great tradition; we still have great tradition, and we're going to try to do all we can to uphold it. But right now, we're not going to a bowl," Rodriguez said after the Purdue game.

BCS breakdown

Penn State's BCS status is unchanged. Now the Nittany Lions are stuck behind first-place Alabama and second-place Texas Tech in the standings. Penn State's chances of moving up hinge on staying unbeaten and having the Tide and Red Raiders lose.

The Big Ten's tarnished reputation and Penn State's schedule are holding the Nittany Lions back and that won't change if Alabama and Texas Tech run through far tougher leagues unbeaten.

Quick hits

-Cal plays Oregon and it's the Golden Bears wearing the garish, bright yellow uniforms, while the Ducks play in the more tasteful, though totally out of season, all white.

-To Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe: You don't want to be known as the guy who can't beat Greg Robinson. The Cardinals lost to the Orange for the second straight season, accounting for two-thirds of Robinson's Big East wins in his four seasons as coach.

Lookahead

LSU's season as defending national champion has been sort of a letdown. That's what happens when you give up 50 points in each of your two biggest games.

On Saturday, though, the Tigers can make it all better for their fans. Nick Saban and No. 1 Alabama come to Baton Rouge, La., the former LSU coach's first trip back to his old stomping grounds with the Tide.

No. 2 Texas Tech has another huge home game, this time against No. 8 Oklahoma State.

On Thursday night in the Mountain West Conference, No. 10 Utah and No. 11 TCU meet with the league title and a possible BCS bid on the line.



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