...... asked CBS announcer Gary Danielson - incredulously - as Alabama lined up to attempt a 56-yard field goal on the last play of the game. If successful, the kick would give the Crimson Tide an SEC West-clinching 31-28 victory over Auburn. But since the Tide had already gone 0 for 3 on much shorter FG attempts earlier in the game, Danielson, yours truly, and likely thousands of others watching were wondering what on Earth had possessed Coach Saban into believing this attempt would end up any better than the previous three.
Well, as you probably have heard, this attempt didn't end up better than the previous three - it actually went even worse. Not only was it not long enough to be good, it in fact was so short that Auburn CB Chris Davis was able to catch the ball in the back of the end zone and proceeded to return it 108 yards all the way to the house at the other end of the field (photos on right) to give the Tigers the victory, 34-28, in one of the most amazing finishes to a game you'll ever see. In case you somehow haven't seen the play (or you just want to see it again) here it is on a video from the Auburn website:
That's some way to have your 15-game winning streak come to an end, huh 'Bama fans? With the victory Auburn, which went 0-8 in the SEC in 2012, improved to 11-1 this season and clinched the SEC West title on a tiebreaker over Alabama. It also avenges last season's humiliating 49-0 loss to the Crimson Tide, a game in which the Tigers trailed 42-0 at halftime.
The incredible game-winning TD was preceded 32 seconds earlier by Auburn's game-tying TD on a play in which the Tigers completely fooled the Crimson Tide D. After junior RB Tre Mason had run the ball on 6 straight plays - gaining a total of 26 yards to move the ball to the Alabama 39 - QB Nick Marshall faked a handoff to Mason and tucked the ball under his left arm as if he was going to run it himself. And when two Tide DBs came charging at him - in the process leaving junior WR Sammie Coates totally uncovered 15 yards downfield, Marshall switched the ball to his right hand and, just barely before crossing the line of scrimmage, hit Coates with a pass for the 39-yard TD. Damn, touchdowns just aren't supposed to come that easy when you're down 7 in the closing seconds.
Before that, Alabama had numerous chances to put Auburn away, but they just refused to do it. Whether it was missed FGs, penalties, dropped passes, or poor coaching decisions, the Tide did a great job of making sure the Tigers stayed in the game. And just when it looked they still might escape with the victory, Auburn burned them with those two lightning bolts in the final 32 seconds.
The TD Auburn fans will never forget (and Tide fans too) occurred at exactly 6:25 PM CST. Here's some of what else happened on Saturday of rivalry week. (FYI: The events happened at the exact times indicated, but several of the entries are accompanied by additional info listed in parenthesis. This info did not occur at the times listed.)
11:05 AM CST - After Florida goes three-and-out, junior RB Devonta Freeman has 2-yard reception on Florida State's first snap of the day --- good to see that his dreads aren't reduced .....
11:05 - ..... on next play sophomore WR Kelvin Benjamin loses 2 yards on a reception.
11:18 - Ohio State junior CB Bradley Roby sprints all the way across field to make TD-saving tackle at 2-yard line after 84-yard catch and run by Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon (but Wolverines get the TD anyway two plays later).
11:22 - Florida junior LB Neiron Ball sacks QB Jameis Winston for 7-yard loss on 3rd and 5 (his 1st career sack; FSU settles for FG on next play and leads 3-0).
11:36 - Kansas State senior RB John Hubert scores 21-yard TD on draw play; Wildcats lead Kansas 14-0 late in 1st quarter.
11:39 - Neiron Ball almost gets another sack, forcing Winston into incomplete pass on 3rd and 7 on second play of 2nd quarter.
11:45 - North Carolina senior S Tre Boston tackles RB Juwan Thompson at Duke 41-yard line for a gain of 6 on 1st down .....
11:46 - ..... Thompson runs for 10 on next play as Boston makes tackle again .....
11:46 - ..... 3 tackles in a row for Tre Boston as he stops Thompson at UNC 47 after 2-yard run (Duke kicks FG 9 plays later to take 10-7 lead).
11:54 - On sideline shot from Wake Forest-Vanderbilt game I notice #34 for Wake Forest has dreads but don't know who it is (#34 is freshman LB Wendell Dunn).
11:57 - On kickoff return after Michigan takes 21-14 lead, sophomore WR Dennis Norfleet tackles OSU RB Dontre Wilson, and fight breaks out (three players, including Wilson, were ejected from game).
12:01 - On next play Kelvin Benjamin is open deep on left sideline, but pass is overthrown and he can't make the catch.
12:08 - Five plays later Benjamin makes 23-yard reception against star CB Loucheiz Purifoy to convert a 2nd and 20
12:09 - On next play Benjamin makes catch on short crossing route and makes great run after the catch, breaking tackles as he takes it 45 yards to the house, increasing Seminoles' lead to 10-0 with 4:24 to play until halftime.
12:13 - Bradley Roby drops INT on 3rd and 11 - had ball in his hands but it was stripped loose by TE Jake Butt before he could fully control it.
12:14 - FSU sophomore CB Ronald Darby tackles RB Valdez Showers in open field for no gain after catch on 3rd and 6 - Gators go three-and-out.
12:16 - Duke CB DeVon Edwards takes kickoff return 98 yards to the house - Duke regains lead over UNC 17-15 with 1:19 to go until halftime.
12:21 - Kelvin Benjamin gets wide open deep (somehow) for easy 29-yard TD reception - FSU leads 17-0 with 25 seconds to go until halftime.
12:22 - Replay shows Benjamin grabbing jersey of Purifoy while running route and could have been called for offensive pass interference; Kelvin is already on dread stars list with 5 catches for 108 yards.
12:50 - After Seminoles go three-and-out to begin 2nd half, sophomore DE Mario Edwards gets sack and strip at UF 32-yard line on Gators' first offensive snap. (FSU recovered and kicked FG 6 plays later to up lead to 20-0).
1:07 - On Seminoles' next possession Benjamin makes over-the-shoulder catch for 56-yard gain to the 11-yard line.
1:08 - On next play Devonta Freeman breaks into the clear on run to the right and takes it to the house; FSU leads 27-0 with 7:08 remaining in 3rd quarter.
1:12 - Sideline shot of Rutgers senior WR Quron Pratt - must have done something good because ball is at UConn 3-yard line (Rutgers scored TD on next play to take 21-17 lead; Pratt had this 84-yard catch and run to set up the score: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=10057365
1:14 - My first Khris Francis sighting of the day, as the North Carolina freshman RB makes catch for a 7-yard gain (he had 2 touches in the 1st half that I didn't see).
1:20 - Utah State junior WR Ronald Butler runs for a gain of 4 on his first touch of the game against Wyoming
1:21 - Michigan senior S Thomas Gordon makes TD-saving tackle of RB Carlos Hyde at 4-yard line after a 33-yard gain, but .....
1:22 - ..... Buckeyes get the TD anyway 2 plays later on a Braxton Miller 3-yard run. OSU leads for first time 28-21 with 6:59 to go in 3rd quarter.
1:26 - UNC junior LB Darius Lipford hits QB Anthony Boone as he throws, resulting in incomplete pass on 3rd and 7, ending drive that had reached UNC 44-yard line. Duke still leads 24-22.
1:30 - Florida finally scores - on 5-yard reception by FB Hunter Joyer - cutting FSU's lead to 27-7 early in 4th.
1:36 - Kelvin Benjamin drops a pass at the Florida 30 on 2nd and 9 - would have been a big gain.
1:37 - On next play Benjamin beats CB Vernon Hargreaves for 32-yard reception to the 23-yard line.
1:42 - Khris Francis gains 16 on a reception on first play of a North Carolina drive, but play is nullified by a holding penalty.
1:48 - 6 plays after his 32-yard catch, Benjamin finishes the drive with his 3rd TD of the game, making a nice adjustment to the ball for a 4-yard catch on 3rd and goal. Seminoles lead 34-7.
1:49 - North Carolina kicks FG, leads Duke 25-24 with 7:03 to play.
1:55 - On 1st down from Duke 38-yard line, Tre Boston drops an INT - he was off-balance but still could have made the pick. (Duke gained 29 yards on the next play to move into FG range.)
2:02 - On 3rd and 2 from the UNC 5, freshman S Dominique Green doesn't make tackle but forces Anthony Boone to the outside, where he is tackled by DT Ethan Farmer for 4-yard loss.
2:02 - Duke kicks 27-yard FG, barely inside right upright, takes 27-25 lead with 2:22 to go.
2:04 - On 3rd and 9, Michigan QB Devin Gardner fakes a pass, causing Bradley Roby to leave his feet, then runs past Roby for gain of 14 to the OSU 26. (Wolverines tied game with TD 10 plays later.)
2:09 - It's over at Gainesville. Florida State 37 Florida 7.
2:11 - Bad news for Virginia Tech and Miami fans: Duke's DeVon Edwards gets an INT with 13 seconds to play, clinching 27-25 victory over UNC and clinching ACC Coastal Division title.
2:16 - Rice comes away empty on game-opening 13-play drive as Tulane blocks 40-yard FG attempt.
2:23 - Carlos Hyde 1-yard TD run - Ohio State back in front 42-35 with 2:20 to go.
2:33 - Bradley Roby can't prevent 2-yard TD catch by TE Devin Funchess with 32 seconds to play.
2:35 - Instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game, Michigan goes for 2, but pass by Devin Gardner is intercepted. Ohio State still leads, 42-41.
2:37 - Roby recovers onside kickoff by Michigan, and Buckeyes hang on for the 1-point win (Ohio State's 24th straight win).
2:38 - Penn State scores on the 4th play from scrimmage, on a 68-yard reception by the tight end (Adam Breneman), to take quick 7-0 lead over Wisconsin at Madison.
2:41 - TCU star senior CB Jason Verrett breaks up a pass intended for Baylor WR Antwan Goodley on 3rd and 9 from the TCU 28-yard line on opening drive of game at Ft. Worth. (Baylor converted on 4th and 9 but ended up settling for a FG anyway 4 plays after that.)
2:45 - Alabama's game-opening 6-play, 49-yard drive ends with missed 44-yard FG.
2:46 - Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee caps 5-play, 76-yard opening drive with 3-yard TD run for quick 7-0 lead over Georgia.
2:49 - Auburn junior RB Tre Mason gains 3 yards to the Auburn 45 on his first carry of game. (Auburn punted 3 plays later.)
2:52 - Sophomore RB Todd Gurley keeps Georgia's first drive alive with 16-yard run around left end on 3rd and 4 (but Bulldogs punted 4 plays later).
2:55 - Will this be the day Southern Mississippi finally wins? Score at bottom of TV screen says they lead UAB 48-27.
2:58 - Georgia junior LB Ramik Wilson tackles RB Robert Godhigh for 3-yard loss on 2nd and 7 (but Godhigh gets 43-yard reception on next play, and Georgia Tech kicks FG 8 plays after that for 10-0 lead).
3:09 - Sophomore WR Sammie Coates with big 21-yard reception to convert 3rd and 18 for Auburn .....
3:10 - ..... 3 plays later, on 3rd and 2, QB Nick Marshall keeps the ball on an option play and runs 45 yards untouched to give Auburn 7-0 lead over Alabama.
3:35 - Auburn defense (stupidly) jumps offside on 4th and 7 from the Auburn 38-yard line. (Alabama then converted on 4th and 2 and scored TD 3 plays after that to tie game at 7.)
3:37 - Georgia Tech kicks FG, now leading Georgia 20-0.
3:40 - Wisconsin sophomore RB Melvin Gordon runs for 10 yards to the Penn State 20. (Badgers scored TD on next play to lead for first time, 14-7, with 5:05 remaining in 2nd quarter.)
3:43 - Georgia junior WR Chris Conley makes 19-yard reception to convert on 2nd and 14.
3:44 - Georgia Tech senior DE Emmanuel Dieke tackles Todd Gurley for loss of 4 on 2nd and 5. (Bulldogs punt 2 plays later.)
3:47 - Good news - score at bottom of TV screen says Tennessee State wins their FCS playoff game, 31-0 over Butler. (Bad news - they have to play Eastern Illinois in the next round.)
3:47 - Tre Mason fumbles ball after gain of 4 on 1st down - stripped by S Landon Collins just before his knee touches ground. Alabama recovers at Auburn 36-yard line. (Crimson Tide scores TD 4 plays later to take first lead, 14-7.)
3:55 - Chris Conley reception along right sideline for gain of 22 to the GT 35 (on the 3rd of 5 consecutive plays on which Georgia picked up a 1st down).
3:59 - On 2nd and goal, Todd Gurley, after making the catch, lifts off at the 4-yard line and flies into the end zone for a 9-yard TD. UGA finally on the board, trailing 20-7 with :34 remaining until halftime.
4:01 - Sideline shot of Gurley with his helmet off after scoring his TD.
4:06 - RB T.J. Yeldon line plunge for 1-yard TD - Alabama scores on back-to-back possessions to take 21-7 lead.
4:11 - Tre Mason breaks loose for 40-yard run on 2nd play of next Auburn drive.
4:14 - On 1st down with TCU in FG range, Baylor scores TD on 82-yard pick 6 by S Orion Stewart (as WR Tevin Reese, with his injured wrist, looks on from sideline) - Baylor leads 27-17.
4:14 - CBS replay showing Sammie Coates making good block downfield, allowing Nick Marshall to score on 16-yard run for Auburn (but the TD didn't count because the replay official ruled Marshall out of bounds at the 1-yard line).
4:16 - Tre Mason gets the TD for Auburn on 1-yard plunge on 1st and goal - Tigers pull to within 21-14 with 1:40 to play until halftime.
4:17 - Sideline shot of Mason with his helmet off after scoring his TD.
4:23 - Who is that #8 for Penn State making the tackle on the 2nd half opening kickoff?- I didn't know Penn State had anybody with sick dreads. (Penn State's more familiar #8 is star WR Allen Robinson; the #8 with the long dreads is freshman LB Gary Wooten.)
4:35 - On sideline shot after a Tulane TD it looks like #8, the player who just scored the 13-yard TD catch to bring Tulane within 17-10 of Rice, has beginner dreads. (This game was not available in HD on Directv, so I need a better look to make sure that #8, freshman WR Devon Breaux, actually has dreads.)
4:37 - Todd Gurley takes screen pass 18 yards to the house, but play is nullified by a penalty for an illegal low block (Georgia settles for 40-yard FG 4 plays later, now trails 20-10).
4:47 - Georgia Tech junior RB B.J. Bostic runs for 1-yard gain on 2nd and 10 (on his first and only carry of the game).
4:54 - With Auburn's no-huddle offense in high gear on first drive of 2nd half (at least 6 yards gained on every play on first 7 plays of the drive), Alabama DT Brandon Ivory fakes an injury to give the Tide D a chance to catch their breath.
4:55 - Tulane kicks FG to cut Rice's lead to 17-13 with 10:14 remaining in game.
4:56 - Auburn ties Alabama 21-21 on perfect Nick Marshall pass to TE C.J. Uzomah for 13-yard TD.
5:12 - Auburn's next drive ends with a punt, and Sammie Coates downs the ball at the 1-yard line.
5:27 - Todd Gurley runs for 2-yard TD - this one counts - Georgia trails 27-24 with 6:37 remaining in game.
5:27 - Rice's coach is being interviewed (Coach Bailiff) on the field just after Owls hang on for 17-13 victory over Tulane to clinch CUSA West Division title.
5:30 - After 14-play drive from their 1-yard line to the Auburn 16, Alabama misses 33-yard FG - game still tied with 14:04 remaining in game.
5:38 - Alabama senior DE Ed Stinson gets credit for a PBU, deflecting a pass by Marshall off course on 3rd and 4.
5:38 - Another Auburn punt downed at the 1-yard line.
5:41 - Alabama takes 28-21 lead on 99-yard catch and run for a TD by WR Amari Cooper on first play after punt.
5:57 - On 4th and 1 from the Auburn 13, Alabama goes for the first down instead of attempting a short FG and fails to convert - still 28-21 with 5:34 to go.
6:01 - Wisconsin, a 25-point favorite, loses to Penn State 31-24 as a Hail Mary pass is intercepted on last play of the game.
6:06 - After Georgia Tech scores a TD in overtime, Todd Gurley scores TD on 6-yard run to send game into 2nd OT, tied at 34.
6:08 - Auburn blocks 44-yard FG attempt - still trails by only 7 with 2:32 to play.
6:09 - Gurley to the house again, 25 yards, on first play of 2nd overtime, gives UGA 41-34 lead.
6:13 - Sammie Coates, wide open at the Alabama 20, makes the catch and takes it to the house for easy 39-yard TD - Tigers and Tide tied at 28 with 32 seconds remaining.
6:15 - Pass by Georgia Tech on 4th and 5 into the end zone is deflected twice and falls incomplete. Game over - Georgia wins 41-34. (Ramik Wilson got credit for a PBU on the play.)
6:16 - After reaching the South Carolina 30-yard line, Clemson's opening drive ends when a trick play fails to fool the Gamecocks D, as a pass by junior WR Sammy Watkins is intercepted in the end zone by S Brison Williams.
6:22 - Alabama-Auburn appears to be headed to overtime, but replay official rules there was still 1 second on the clock when RB T.J. Yeldon stepped out of bounds at the Auburn 38 after a 24-yard gain on draw play.
6:23 - Down by 3 but already in FG range at the Baylor 23, TCU throws pass into end zone, and it's intercepted by S Terrell Burt - Baylor hangs on for 41-38 win, keeps Big 12 title hopes alive. (Game lasted 3 hours, 48 minutes.)
6:25 - Unbelievable! - Alabama attempts game-winning FG, and AUBURN wins instead, as CB Chris Davis takes back the missed FG 108 yards to the house to clinch SEC West title for Tigers - Final score: 34-28.
6:36 - Sammy Watkins beats junior CB Victor Hampton on deep slant route, makes the catch in stride, and runs after the catch for a gain of 57 yards to the Carolina 12. (Clemson scored TD 2 plays later to tie game at 7).
6:50 - Junior S Ashely Lowery intercepts a deep pass by Tennessee on 3rd and 13 and returns it 26 yards to the UK 41, keeping Volunteers' lead at 14-0 early in 2nd quarter. (It's Lowery's 1st INT of the season.)
7:17 - After South Carolina scores on their third consecutive drive - a short FG to take a 17-7 lead - Watkins returns the kickoff out of the end zone to the 33-yard line.
7:18 - On 2nd and 16 junior DE Jadeveon Clowney sacks Clemson QB Tajh Boyd for a loss of another 10 yards. (It's Clowney's 1st sack since Week 3.)
7:32 - With a WR screen pass too-well covered on 1st and 10, Boyd has to hold onto the ball and is sacked by sophomore LB Kaiwan Lewis for a loss of 9 at the Clemson 31. (But Tigers kept drive going and kicked FG 7 plays later on last play of 1st half to cut Gamecocks' lead to 17-10.)
7:41 - Texas A&M senior WR Derel Walker makes 23-yard reception to convert a 3rd and 12 early in 2nd quarter at Missouri.
8:10 - Junior LB Sharrod Golightly breaks up pass intended for Watkins on 2nd and 6 on Clemson's 2nd snap on offense in 2nd half.
8:16 - Before going back to studio for halftime show, highlight is shown of Derel Walker's 32-yard TD catch, giving A&M 14-7 lead over Missouri.
8:26 - On 1st down from the Carolina 39, Jadeveon Clowney almost gets another sack, hitting Tajh Boyd as he throws, causing the pass to fall incomplete.
8:28 - On 2nd and goal Tennessee junior LB A.J. Johnson keeps RB Jojo Kemp out of the end zone, making the tackle at the 1-yard line after a 6-yard run. (Kentucky turned the ball over on downs 2 plays later, keeping UT's lead at 27-7.)
8:33 - Clemson junior WR Martavis Bryant makes his 1st (and only) catch of the game, for a gain of 18 to the 4-yard line .....
8:33 -..... On next play Sharrod Golightly breaks into backfield unblocked but misses tackle at 10-yard line, and RB Roderick McDowell takes it to the house for 4-yard TD run to tie score at 17 with 3:01 remaining in 3rd quarter.
8:57 - Gamecocks regain lead, as RB Mike Davis finishes 11-play, 75-yard drive with 2-yard TD run to make it 24-17 with 11:47 to play.
9:05 - Junior S Kadetrix Marcus makes his 1st (and only) tackle of the game, stopping McDowell at the Carolina 34 after a 22-yard run on 3rd and 3.
9:06 - Clemson drive ends at the 30-yard line as Boyd fumbles after gain of 3 on 2nd and 9 - actually it was more of a steal by DE Chaz Sutton than a fumble.
9:13 - Clemson forces Gamecocks to punt 7 plays later, but Kaiwan Lewis makes the tackle and forces WR Adam Humphries to fumble on the return, and Gamecocks recover at the Clemson 34.
9:15 - Gamecocks up lead to 31-17 on trick play, as WR Pharoh Cooper passes to RB Brandon Wilds for 26-yard TD with 3:44 to play.
9:22 - Turnover #5 for Clemson, as Boyd throws INT on first play of Tigers' next drive.
9:28 - Turnover #6 - another INT thrown by Boyd.
9:31 - Gamecocks run out clock - both teams finish regular season at 10-2. (It's South Carolina's 5th straight win vs. Clemson, their first ever 5-game winning streak in the series, which began in 1896.)
9:33 - Before going to commercial break after TD gives Boise State quick 7-0 lead over New Mexico, brief highlights are shown of the 3-play, 65-yard drive, including 64-yard catch and run on screen pass by sophomore RB Jay Ajayi .............
.......... At this point I wanted to watch some more of the Boise State game, the end of the Texas AM-Missouri game, and (if it was on) the Arizona-Arizona State game (Directv still isn't carrying the Pac-12 Network yet), but I was just too tired to stay awake any longer.
Sophomore RB Ryan Jackson gained 79 total yards, including a 37-yard TD run, and sophomore S Trevon Stewart had 9 tackles (3-6) and 1 PBU as Houston snapped a 3-game losing streak with a 34-0 home win over SMU, the first time SMU has been shut out in a game in 9 years ..... Freshman RB Paul Perkins rushed for 34 yards and 1 TD and had 3 catches for 79 yards for UCLA in a 35-14 road win over USC - the Bruins' largest margin of victory vs. USC in 43 years ..... Sophomore WR Breshad Perriman had the go-ahead 52-yard TD catch (photo on left) with 4:50 remaining in the game, and junior CB Jordan Ozerities got his 1st INT of the season (photo below) to preserve the lead with 1:20 remaining as UCF, despite committing 5 turnovers, improved to 10-1 and clinched the AAC's automatic bid to a BCS bowl game with a 23-20 home win over South Florida - their 1st win ever over the Bulls (they were 0-4 previously) ..... Junior TE Alex DeLeon had a 23-yard reception for his 1st TD of the season, and junior WR William Dukes scored a 59-yard TD on his only reception of the game as FAU (6-6) became bowl eligible with a 21-6 home win over FIU ..... Junior WR Courtney Williams took the 2nd half opening kickoff return 84 yards to the house to give Central Michigan a 28-10 lead, and the Chippewas went on to become bowl eligible (6-6) with a 42-10 home win over Eastern Michigan ..... Sophomore S Taj Letman got his 1st INT of the season and had 6 tackles (2-4), and senior CB Monterius Lovett had 2 tackles (1-1), 1 TFL, and 2 PBU as Marshall clinched the CUSA East Division crown with a 59-28 home win over East Carolina; senior LB Derrell Johnson had 10 tackles (4-6) and 2 sacks for ECU ..... And senior WR Isaiah Burse (photo below) had 10 catches for 96 yards, including a 21-yard TD, but Fresno State suffered their 1st defeat of the season, dropping to 10-1 with a 62-52 loss at San Jose State; SJSU racked up 736 total yards.
ON SENIOR DAY ....
On senior night at Mississippi State, senior S Nickoe Whitley had 5 tackles (3-2), got his 5th INT of the season, and with the Bulldogs leading in OT, got a FF at the 3-yard line that was recovered by junior CB Jamerson Love for a touchback on the last play of the game as MSU became bowl eligible with a 17-10 victory over Mississippi ..... On senior day at Troy, sick senior WR Chris Williams had 4 catches for 28 yards as the Trojans became bowl eligible with a 42-28 victory over Texas State ..... On senior day at Colorado State, sick senior CB Shaq Bell (photo on left) had 7 tackles (3-4) as the Rams became bowl eligible with a 58-13 rout of Air Force ..... On senior day at Syracuse, senior S Jeremi Wilkes had 5 tackles (4-1), including 1 TFL, as the Orange became bowl eligible, scoring a TD with :06 on the clock to defeat Boston College 34-31 .....
IN THE FCS
The playoffs expanded from 20 to 24 teams this season, meaning that 8 teams got byes into the 2nd round instead of 12, and that there were 8 games in the 1st round instead of 4. It also meant that the winners of those 1st round games would have the unenviable assignments of going on the road in the 2nd round to take on one of the top 8 seeds.
Perhaps the most unenviable assignment awaited the winner of the game between Bethune-Cookman and Coastal Carolina. The victor between these two warm-weather schools not only was looking at a very long road trip for round 2, it would be a road trip to frigid Montana. Coastal eliminated B-C in the 1st round last season, on the road at Daytona Beach; and they did it again this year at home.
The Chanticleers, who found themselves champions of the Big South after Charleston Southern unexpectedly lost their final 2 games, disposed of MEAC co-champ B-C without much difficulty 48-24. The score was 27-10 at the half, and CCU upped their lead to 34-10 late in the 3rd quarter on 23-yard TD catch by sophomore WR John Israel, who finished the game with 3 catches for 60 yards. Junior CB Denzel Rice (photo below) also had a good game, finishing with 3 tackles (3-0) and 3 PBU. For the Wildcats junior S Marquis Drayton finished with 10 tackles (6-4), and junior LB Tavarus Dantzler had 4 tackles (0-4).
Tennessee State took the trip up to Indianapolis and had no trouble with Butler, winning (as mentioned briefly earlier) 31-0. Of course, Butler should not have even been in the playoffs. San Diego earned the Pioneer League's automatic bid but had to declare themselves ineligible after discovering some of its players were getting improper financial aid. TSU finished with a 415-257 advantage in total yards over the Bulldogs as they picked up their first playoff victory in 27 years. Senior TE Wesley Samuels had 3 catches for 43 yards, scoring his 6th TD of the season on a 17-yard reception that increased the Tigers' lead to 17-0 with 41 seconds to go until halftime.
Sophomore CB and Phoenix area native Je Ryan Butler, the only player with dreads that I know of for South Dakota State, put on quite a show for his family and friends - assuming that family and friends were able to make the trip up to Flagstaff to see it. Butler nearly made the dread stars list as he helped the Jackrabbits eliminate Northern Arizona 26-7. Butler took the punt return following a safety that made the score 9-7 in the 3rd quarter 39 yards to the NAU 39-yard line to set up a short TD drive. And later Je Ryan got his 3rd and 4th INT of the season, ending the Lumberjacks' final two possessions of the evening. Senior S Blair Wishom had 9 tackles (4-5), 1 TFL, and 1 PBU in his final game for NAU.
In the other 1st round games, Fordham defeated Sacred Heart 37-27, New Hampshire routed Lafayette 45-7, and Sam Houston State beat Southern Utah 51-20.
I've seen a lot of crazy and unique names of players over the years in sports (for real, parents will name their kids anything these days); but until he scored Arizona State's 1st TD of 2013, I'd never heard of anybody named De'Marieya. Well, the #12 with sick dreads for the Sun Devils has been doing his best to make sure that some day parents will want to name their kids after him. Junior TE De'Marieya Nelson has not put up big numbers in his first season at ASU (after a transfer from junior college), but he has become a very valuable member of the team because he is such a versatile player. He's listed as a TE, but he's also played FB, on special teams, and even a little at DE.
And now, with star RB Marion Grice down with an injury, De'Marieya has added "short yardage RB" to his list of roles for the Sun Devils. In ASU's 58-21 home victory over Arizona Nelson scored his first 2 rushing TD of the season - on a pair of 1-yard plunges (one of them left photo) - and finished with 35 yards on 8 carries. He also had 1 catch for 21 yards and had 3 tackles (3-0) on special teams, including one where he got a FF and FR (right photo) on a kickoff return in the 3rd quarter.
If you like, click the link below for a recent article from the Arizona Republic that mentions that the best is yet to come for Nelson. So you better start learning how to spell his name right.
http://www.ucfknights.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120213aaa.html ...... UCF scored a TD with 4:50 to play to win 23-20 and remain undefeated in the AAC at 7-0. South Florida dropped to 2-5, 2-9 overall.
- John Hubert - Kansas State - 30 carries for career high 220 yards and 1 TD rushing in 31-10 road W over Kansas
- Jay Ajayi - Boise State - 22 carries for 147 yards and 1 TD rushing, and 4 receptions for 105 yards, including 29-yard TD, in 45-17 home W over New Mexico
- Travis Greene - Bowling Green - 129 yards and 1 TD rushing on 30 carries in 24-7 MAC East-clinching road W over Buffalo
- Todd Gurley - Georgia - 122 yards and 3 TD rushing on 20 carries, and 4 receptions for 36 yards and 1 TD in 41-34 road W over Georgia Tech in 2 OT
- Chris Conley - Georgia - 7 receptions for 129 yards as UGA defeats GT for 5th year in a row and gets their 7th straight road W against Tech
- Damian Fortner - FAU - 19 carries for 100 yards rushing on senior day in 21-6 W over FIU
- Tre Mason - Auburn - 29 carries for 164 yards and 1 TD rushing in thrilling 34-28 home W over #1 ranked Alabama
- Jamill Smith - Ball State - 7 receptions for 127 yards and 3 TD on senior day in 55-14 W over Miami (Ohio)
- Kyle Griswould - MTSU - 5 receptions for 101 yards on senior day in 48-17 W over UTEP
- Gary Thompson - Marshall - named CUSA defensive player of the week - 2 tackles (1-1), 1 PBU, and 2 INT, one of which he returned 5 yards to the house in CUSA East-clinching 59-28 home W over East Carolina: http://www.herald-dispatch.com/sports/marshall/x1584263342/Herd-DE-Gary-Thompson-exploding-into-playmaker
- Quron Pratt - Rutgers - 3 receptions for career high 132 yards in 28-17 road L to Connecticut
- Timothy Flanders - Sam Houston State - 176 yards and 2 TD rushing on 22 carries in 51-20 home W over Southern Utah in 1st round of FCS playoffs
HOUSE OF DREAD
There were 2 games with 4 TD by players with dreads; and, for a change, I was able to see all 8 of the touchdowns as they happened. The two end zones that share HOD honors were at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, where Georgia spoiled senior day at Georgia Tech, defeating the Yellow Jackets 41-34; and at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Gainesville, where Florida's miserable season ended as expected with a 37-7 loss to Florida State.
Georgia junior RB Todd Gurley was a one-man house of dread as the Bulldogs came back from a 20-0 deficit to beat Tech. He scored on a highlight reel 9-yard reception (bottom photo and video on link below) to get the comeback started, then had TD runs of 2, 6, and 25 yards, the last of which was the game winner in the 2nd overtime.
At Gainesville, junior RB Devonta Freeman scored on an 11-yard run for FSU; and the other 3 TD, including a 4-yard reception (top photo), were by this week's player of the week .....
"KB has real advantages with his size, speed, and athleticism. He can be a very, very special player, and he's starting to develop into that guy." That's what his coach says. But forget special; his quarterback calls him "an unstoppable force." KB, of course, is Florida State sophomore WR Kelvin Benjamin. And despite standout performances by John Hubert and Jay Ajayi, Benjamin is the head dread for Week 14. Against a Florida defense that had allowed only 6 TD passes all season, Benjamin had 3 in one game, catching 9 passes in all for a career high 212 yards, to help FSU roll to a 37-7 victory. It was the first 200-yard game by a Seminole receiver in 10 years.
Benjamin added even more to his already lengthy 2013 highlight reel, displaying the size, speed, and athleticism Coach Fisher was talking about on his 3 TD catches. At 6-foot-5, 234 pounds, KB is tough to tackle after he makes the catch, as was shown on his 1st TD of the game, a 45-yard catch and run during which he bounced off two or three would-be tacklers. Yes, Kelvin may have cheated a bit on his 2nd TD, grabbing the jersey of CB Loucheiz Purifoy before breaking open behind him for a 29-yard TD. But it wasn't a blatant enough infraction to be called (or maybe the refs just didn't see it). On his 3rd TD reception, a 4-yarder in the 4th quarter, Benjamin, running a fade route, first looked back over his right shoulder trying to find the ball but noticed it was coming toward his left shoulder. Without breaking stride, he turned forward and then back over his left shoulder just in time to make the catch. KB made the play look so easy that it really didn't show how difficult a catch it really was. A lot of receivers wouldn't have been able to do it.
The second link below is a video of a few of the game's highlights, including all 3 of Benjamin's touchdowns. Above that you can read more about KB's big game in an article from the Florida Times-Union.
Let's see. Week 14 was two Saturdays ago. Next it's Week 15, which was last Saturday. And I haven't even begun to start working on my report. I have no pictures saved and haven't gone through any game recaps. But I am planning to do one, as quickly as possible (but probably not until next weekend). If you saw the SEC championship game, you already know who the head dread for Week 15 is. We'll look at all the conference championship games, the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the FCS playoffs, and maybe a quick bowl preview.