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NCAA College Football – Week 13 Recap

LSU's Tyrann Mathieu returns a punt against Arkansas.
Chris Graythen, Getty Images

As college football’s regular season nears its end, the postseason picture is starting to take shape. Barring a major shakeup in the polls, Alabama punched its ticket to the national title game. The only thing that remains to be seen is if they’ll have another shot at top-ranked LSU. Next week’s conference championship games could shake up the BCS, while the Bedlam rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will determine the Big 12 title and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. Here are all the highlights from this week in the AP Top 25.

#1 Louisiana State 41, #3 Arkansas 17

After spotting the Razorbacks 14 points, the top-ranked LSU Tigers responded with 21 unanswered points in a five-minute span late in the second quarter en route to securing the SEC West title and keeping their national title hopes alive. Star return man Tyrann Mathieu returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14, and LSU never looked back from there. Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw for 208 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also added 53 yards and a touchdown on the ground. LSU’s defense was its usual dominant self, holding the Razorbacks (who came into the game leading the SEC in total offense) to just 10 offensive points and 47 rushing yards while forcing three turnovers and five sacks. The Tigers will take on Georgia in next week’s SEC Championship game.

#2 Alabama 42, Auburn 14

The Crimson Tide set itself up for a likely spot in the national championship game, destroying archrival Auburn in the latest edition of the Iron Bowl. Alabama’s defense was as dominant as ever, holding the Tigers’ offense scoreless (Auburn’s touchdowns came on a fumble recovery in the end zone and a kickoff return) and giving up just 140 total yards. Alabama running back Trent Richardson made a strong statement in his Heisman campaign, rushing for 203 yards and scoring on a five-yard touchdown pass. The loss ended Auburn’s 14-game home winning streak. History appears to be on Alabama’s side for making the national championship game: in the five previous times a team ranked in the top two of the BCS poll has not played in the final week of the regular season or in a conference title game, none has ever dropped in the poll.

#4 Stanford 28, #22 Notre Dame 14

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck set the school record for career touchdown passes as the Cardinal kept their BCS bowl hopes alive with a season-ending win over the Fighting Irish. Luck threw for 233 yards and four touchdowns, moving past John Elway on the Cardinal’s all-time touchdown list. Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees turned the ball over twice and was benched in favor of backup Andrew Hendrix after going just 6/13 for 60 yards. Hendrix led the Irish on two second half touchdown drives, but it was not enough to come from behind. Playing without starting running back Jonas Gray, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, the Irish managed just 57 rushing yards in the loss.

#5 Oklahoma State BYE

The Cowboys had a week off to recover from their stunning loss to Iowa State and to prepare for next week’s Bedlam rivalry game against Oklahoma.

#6 Virginia Tech 34, #24 Virginia 0

Virginia Tech’s defense made its case for why the Hokies should be considered in the national title picture, blanking the Cavaliers (their first home shutout since 1984) while getting four sacks, forcing four turnovers and holding Virginia to just 30 rushing yards. Hokies running back David Wilson, who came into the game as the nation’s third-leading rusher, had another huge game, rushing for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Virginia Tech has now beaten Virginia eight straight times and 12 of the last 13. The win secures the Hokies a rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship game. The Tigers handed Virginia Tech its only loss of the season, 23-3, back on October 1.

#7 Boise State 36, Wyoming 14

Boise State got off to a slow start, but recovered with 36 unanswered points in an 18-minute span of the second through fourth quarters to put the game away. Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore threw a costly pick-six in the first quarter to give Wyoming an early lead, but responded well, throwing for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Doug Martin added 153 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for Boise State. Wyoming’s offense could never find any rhythm and was held to just 191 total yards, compared with the Broncos’ 479.

#8 Houston 48, Tulsa 16

Houston quarterback Case Keenum continued his assault on the NCAA record books, recording his 37th career 300-yard game, passing former Hawaii signal caller Timmy Chang for the record. The Heisman candidate finished with 457 passing yards and five touchdowns as the Cougars secured a spot in the Conference USA title game and its first 12-0 start in school history. Tulsa actually led 10-6 at the end of the first quarter, but the Golden Hurricane offense stalled after that, managing just two field goals the rest of the way while turning the ball over three times.

#9 Oregon 49, Oregon State 21

Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another 71 yards as the Ducks secured the Pac-12 North title and shot at the Rose Bowl in next week’s conference championship game against UCLA. Star running back LaMichael James rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown, but left the game in the middle of the third quarter with an injury to his left elbow. He was already playing with a brace on his right elbow, which he dislocated October 6. That injury caused him to miss two games. This was the Ducks’ fourth straight win over Oregon State. With his first quarter touchdown, LaMichael James became Oregon’s all-time leading scorer (324 points).

#10 Southern Cal 50, UCLA 0

Matt Barkley’s late-season Heisman push kicked into overdrive as the junior threw for 423 yards and six touchdowns in USC’s season-ending win over the Bruins. His 39 touchdown passes this season broke the Pac-12 record previously held by Matt Leinart. Unable to go to a bowl game due to NCAA probation, the Trojans went out in style, as receiver Robert Woods set the conference single-season record for receptions and scored two touchdowns, while fellow receiver Marqise Lee added 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. This was the first time USC shut out the Bruins since 2001, and just the second time since 1947. Because USC is on probation, UCLA finds itself in the odd position of technically winning the Pac-12 South. However, that might be the worst thing that could have happened to the Bruins because, at 6-6, a loss to Oregon next week would make them bowl ineligible.

#11 Michigan State 31, Northwestern 17

With a spot in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game already assured, the Spartans made sure they weren’t looking too far ahead as they jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead en route to their first back-to-back ten-win seasons in school history. Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns, moving him past former Spartan signal caller Jeff Smoker for the most career passing touchdowns in school history (62). The Wildcats had their four-game winning streak snapped and, at 6-6, must now sit with their fingers crossed for a bowl bid. Michigan State will now begin preparing for next week’s conference title game against Wisconsin.

#12 Oklahoma 26, Iowa State 6

A week after giving up a school record 616 yards to Baylor last week, the Sooners’ defense responded by holding Iowa State to just 245 this week. Playing in a cold wind blowing steadily at 30-40 miles per hour and occasional driving rain showers, neither offense was able to generate much rhythm. Both teams turned the ball over four times, and Iowa State’s only points came following a botched OU punt snap that set up the Cyclones at the Sooners’ 10-yard line. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, who had thrown multiple touchdowns in seven straight games, has now been held scoreless the last two weeks. The Sooners, who have won 14 straight against Iowa State, will now prepare for next week’s Bedlam showdown with Oklahoma State with a Big 12 title and Fiesta Bowl bid on the line.

#13 Georgia 31, #25 Georgia Tech 17

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, already the Bulldogs’ single-season touchdown record holder, threw four more touchdown passes as Georgia knocked off their in-state rivals and prepared for next week’s big SEC Championship showdown with #1 LSU. The Yellow Jackets pulled to within 14-10 with less than two minutes left in the first half. But the Bulldogs responded with 17 unanswered points to blow the game open. Georgia’s defense stepped up in the second half, holding the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense to just 79 rushing yards in the second half. The Bulldogs have won three of the last four over Georgia Tech.

#14 South Carolina 34, #18 Clemson 13

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw continued his strong performance down the stretch as the Gamecocks won their third straight game over their in-state rivals. Shaw threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns and added another 107 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who had put up huge numbers against the ACC this year, had his worst game of the season with just 83 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception on 11/29 passing. Clemson will take on Virginia Tech in next week’s ACC title game. The Tigers beat the Hokies 23-3 earlier in the season, but the two teams are heading in very different directions right now than they were then.

#15 Wisconsin 45, #20 Penn State 7

Badgers running back Montee Ball continued his assault on the record books, rushing for 156 yards and four touchdowns, bringing his season total to 34. He is now second all-time in the single-season touchdown mark, trailing just Barry Sanders’ NCAA-record 39 set during his 1988 Heisman campaign. But the story of the game might be the Badgers’ defense, which held the Nittany Lions to just 233 total yards and forced four turnovers. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson tied an NCAA record with his 36th straight game with at least one touchdown pass. With the win, the Badgers secured the Leaders Division title. They will take on Michigan State in next week’s Big Ten title game.

#16 Kansas State BYE

The Wildcats will return to action next week as they try to get their tenth win of the season against Iowa State.

#17 Michigan 40, Ohio State 34

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson accounted for 337 total yards and five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) as the Wolverines’ snapped a record seven-game losing streak to the hated Buckeyes. Ohio State actually led by one at halftime, but Michigan responded with a touchdown early in the third quarter to take a lead they would never give back. The 40 points in the win was Michigan’s highest scoring output against the Buckeyes since putting up 58 in 1946.

#19 Texas Christian BYE

The Horned Frogs have already clinched at least a share of the Mountain West title. This week, they’ll return to action with a chance to win the conference outright by defeating 2-8 UNLV.

#21 Baylor 66, Texas Tech 42

Although no one will ever claim that Robert Griffin III is not vital to Baylor’s success this season, the Bears have to be relieved that others were able to pick up the slack after the Heisman finalist left the game with an apparent concussion shortly before halftime. Running back Terrance Ganaway rushed for 246 yards and two touchdowns in a game that saw the two offenses combine for 108 points and over 1,000 yards of total offense. With Texas Tech up by three at halftime, Baylor backup quarterback Nick Florence led the Bears on two third-quarter touchdown drives as the Bears took over the game. Griffin accounted for 168 total yards and three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) before leaving the game.

#22 Nebraska 20, Iowa 7

Nebraska’s do-it-all running back Rex Burkhead rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown on a school-record 38 carries as the Cornhuskers closed out their first Big Ten regular season on a winning note. The up-and-down Nebraska defense had one of its better games of the year, limiting the Hawkeyes to just 270 total yards and holding Iowa’s career receiving leader Marvin McNutt, who came into the game averaging 112.7 receiving yards per game, to just four catches for 29 yards. Nebraska outrushed the Hawkeyes 222-88.

 

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