That's the sad truth for Auburn fans. Last Saturday's trip to Tuscaloosa was as ignominious as the 2010 trip was glorious. Last week Alabama faced Western Carolina - a lousy FCS team - and led 42-0 at the half and 49-0 at the end. This week, same thing: 42-0 halftime lead, 49-0 victory. Now I'm not saying Auburn 2012 is as bad as a lousy FCS team. But just maybe a few Alabama fans might have said something about it to a few Auburn fans in their encounters this week.
Win at Cincinnati one week, then lose at Pittsburgh the next week. Do that in the NFL, and it's expected. But do that in the Big East? --- not good, at least not this year. That's the feat the Rutgers accomplished last Saturday. The Scarlet Knights were terrible on offense again, only this time the defense couldn't bail the team out as Pitt rolled to a 27-6 victory, handing Rutgers their 1st conference loss this season. Rutgers punted 11 times and had 1 turnover in their 13 possessions, finishing with a meager 207 total yards. Junior LB Shane Gordon led the Pitt D with 9 tackles (7-2) and had 1 PBU.Sick freshman CB Lafayette Pitts had 1 PBU and got his 1st career INT early in the 4th quarter, although he suffered slight embarrassment when he got tackled by the QB on the return (photo below).
"When we play Clemson, they don't seem to play very well." That was Coach Spurrier's blunt but accurate assessment after his Gamecocks defeated Clemson on the road 27-17 for their 4th straight victory in the Palmetto Bowl rivalry. There's no denying that Clemson has struggled to score against South Carolina recently, but just for a moment it looked like things were going to be different this year. That moment came in the 1st quarter, when the Tigers answered a Carolina TD with a 2-play, 75-yard drive, regaining the lead 14-7 on junior WR DeAndre Hopkins' 43-yard TD reception (photo below). But after scoring on 2 of their first 3 drives, the Clemson offense shockingly went without a TD on their final 8 possessions of the night. Clemson actually led at the half 14-10, but once the Gamecocks' offense got going in the 2nd half, it was over.
Here's how a few seniors with dreads did in the final home games of their careers.
=== Georgia DT John Jenkins had a career high 11 tackles (4-7) in a 42-10 victory over Georgia Tech that improves the Bulldogs to 11-1.
=== S Kemal Ishmael had 10 tackles (6-4), 2 TFL, including his 1st career sack, and 2 PBU as UCF wrapped up the CUSA East title with a 49-24 win over UAB.
=== SMU LB Taylor Reed had 12 tackles (6-6), 1 FF and 1 FR (on the same play), and 1 PBU as the Mustangs, who led 35-6 in the 3rd quarter, barely held on to defeat Tulsa 35-27. Despite being outgained 591-305 in total yards, SMU hands Tulsa their 1st CUSA defeat and becomes bowl eligible at 6-6.
=== WR Antavian Edison (photo below) had 5 catches for 50 yards and his 8th TD of the season for Purdue in a 56-35 win over Indiana as the Boilermakers become bowl eligible at 6-6.
==== WR Chuck Jacobs had 4 catches for 22 yards and kickoff returns of 39 and 33 yards as Utah State won their 6th straight (their longest winning streak in 51 years) 45-9 over Idaho to clinch the WAC title outright and get the school's first 10-win season ever.
==== TE Marcel Jensen had 3 catches for 46 yards and 2 TD, and S Phillip Thomas had 9 tackles (6-3), including his 4th sack of the season, and 1 FF as Fresno State defeated Air Force 48-15 to clinch a tie (with San Diego State and maybe Boise State) for the MWC championship.
Unfortunately not all seniors go out with a win.
=== Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton barely missed the dread stars list, finishing with 10 catches for 98 yards as the Razorbacks finished a very disappointing season at 4-8 with a 20-13 loss to LSU.
=== Minnesota CBs Troy Stoudermire (10 tackles, 7-3) and Michael Carter (8 tackles, 5-3) were busy trying to stop Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell, who carried 35 times as the Spartans defeated the Gophers 26-10. Stoudermire also had a 46-yard kickoff return.
=== UTEP DE Greg Watkins had 5 tackles (1-4) and 1 sack, raising his total to 3.5 sacks for the season, as the Miners finish at 3-9 with a 33-24 loss to Rice.
Junior CB Jason Verrett had 7 tackles (5-2), 1 PBU, an his 6th INT of the season as TCU won at Austin for the first time in 45 years (ending an 0-15 streak), defeating Texas 20-13 ..... Senior S Daimion Stafford had 7 tackles (3-4), 1 TFL, 1 PBU, and his 4th INT of the season as Nebraska wrapped up the Big 10 Legends Division title with a tough 13-7 win at Iowa ..... Sophomore S Adrian Witty had 3 tackles (2-1), including 2 sacks, 1 FF, and 2 PBU for Cincinnati in a 27-10 home win over South Florida ..... Senior LB Archibald Barnes had 4 tackles (2-2), 2 PBU, and his 1st INT of the season as Vanderbilt won their 6th in a row, 55-21 over Wake Forest; freshman RB Deandre Martin came close to the dread stars list with 106 total yards and 1 TD for WF .....
IN THE FCS
New stadium, same old disappointing Alabama State ...... I was very thankful on Thanksgiving to see that Alabama State senior QB Greg Jenkins had unbraided his reduced dreads for the Turkey Day Classic, giving us a chance to see just how sick his dreads are when they're at their best as he played his final game in an ASU uniform. Unfortunately, despite making the dread stars list, Jenkins (photo below) could not lead the Hornets to a victory. Division 2 SIAC champ Tuskegee wrecked the grand opening of ASU's new 26,500-seat stadium, defeating the Hornets (7-4) 27-25 as ASU missed a 2-point conversion attempt after scoring a TD with 2:04 remaining in the game.
Not to be outdone by Auburn, Southern Mississippi took just one year to go from the penthouse to the outhouse. After finishing 12-2 and winning the CUSA championship last year, the Golden Eagles astonishingly ran the table this season, going 0-12. USM's 42-24 loss at Memphis last Saturday capped their first winless season in 87 years. Southern Miss had touchdowns scored by 6 different players with dreads in 2011 (tied for the most in Division 1); but this season the only player with dreads who took one to the house was freshman RB Tyre Bracken, and that's assuming that he still has the beginner dreads he has in his photo on the team's website. Bracken finished with 80 yards receiving, 60 yards rushing, and 2 TD (that's for the whole season, not one game). Sophomore WR Chris Briggs had 11 catches for 144 yards. And senior LB Khyri Thornton finished the year with 9.5 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 INT. Oh well, after 0-12, there's only one way to go, right USM fans?
- Eddie Lacy - Alabama - 131 yards and 2 TD rushing on 18 carries in 49-0 home W over Auburn
- Jeff Scott - Mississippi - 28 carries for 111 yards rushing in 41-24 home W over Mississippi State
- Ace Sanders - South Carolina - 6 catches for career high 119 yards and 1 TD, also had 30-yard punt return, in 27-17 road W over Clemson
- Akeem Daniels - Northern Illinois - 112 yards and 4 TD rushing on just 12 carries in easy 49-7 W at Eastern Michigan
- Todd Gurley - Georgia - 97 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving, and 2 TD on 14 touches in easy 42-10 home W over Georgia Tech
- Rolandan Finch - Boston College - 19 carries for 144 yards rushing and 1 TD in 27-10 L at North Carolina State
- Isaiah Burse - Fresno State - 7 receptions for career high 158 yards and 1 TD in 48-15 home W over Air Force
- Denard Robinson - Michigan - 10 carries for 122 yards rushing, including 67-yard TD, in tough 26-21 road L to Ohio State
- Johnnie Houston - Coastal Carolina - 4 tackles (2-2), including a half sack, 2 FF, one of which set up a FG drive, and took INT return 68 yards to the house in 24-14 1st round playoff road W over Bethune-Cookman
- Charles Hawkins - Southern - 6 receptions for 99 yards and 3 TD in 38-33 W over Grambling in Bayou Classic
- Jake Walker - Eastern Illinois - 23 carries for 125 yards rushing and 1 TD in 58-10 1st round playoff road L to South Dakota State
- Greg Jenkins -Alabama State - 106 yards rushing on 15 carries, and went 20 for 26 passing for 147 yards with 1 TD (1 INT) in 27-25 home L to Tuskegee
- Isaiah Crowell -Alabama State - 118 yards and 2 TD rushing on 18 carries as ASU loses 1st game in new stadium
HOUSE OF DREAD
For the second week in a row and third time this season one player was responsible for clinching HOD honors. For Week 13 that player is senior RB Akeem Daniels of Northern Illinois. "My hands were kind of frozen but I didn't mind," said the former Kissimmee Osceola HS star after scoring 4 TD on a windy day that was cold enough that some snow flurries fell. The end zone at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI, was the house of dread as Daniels scored on runs of 25, 20, 19, and 16 as NIU routed Eastern Michigan 49-7.
Sacks come so easily for Jadeveon Clowney that it's almost unfair. In fact, the only reason Clowney is a sophomore DE for South Carolina is that the NFL doesn't let you join their league until 3 years after you leave high school. And so, instead of chasing NFL QBs, he was terrorizing Clemson fans in general, and QB Tahj Boyd in particular last Saturday night, leading the Gamecocks to a 27-17 victory over the Tigers. And it's something Clemson fans had better get used to, because JC says, "I don't know how it feels to lose to Clemson. I'm not going to know how it feels either, because we are not going to lose to Clemson as long as I'm here." Clowney did his best to assure Carolina did not lose to Clemson this year, recording a career high and Carolina single game record 4.5 sacks among his 7 tackles (6-1), earning him SEC co-defensive player of the week honors. The 4.5 boosted his season total to 13 sacks, which is a new Carolina single season record. I'm praying for this kid, praying he stays healthy and praying he keeps himself out of trouble. If he can continue to do that, there's no telling how much money he'll make by the time he's done playing.
I'm not too excited about any of the conference championship games on tap, not even the big one between Georgia and Alabama. And with none of the FCS playoff games being televised (again), I'll probably be changing channels often.