College Football 2013: What We Learned in Week 14
It was the most exciting Iron Bowl in history. It was arguably the wildest ending to a college game ever. And Auburn’s last-second upset of No. 1 Alabama was just one of the highlights. Here are some things we learned this week in college football.
Alabama Won’t Be Threepeating
No. 1 Alabama’s attempt to become the first college football team to win three consecutive titles came to an end in one of the most bizarre finishes in college football history. With one second left and the game with No. 4 Auburn tied at 28, the Crimson Tide—which had already missed three field goals in the game—attempted a 57-yarder for the win. The kick fell short, but the fun was just getting started. Auburn return man Chris Davis fielded the ball nine yards deep and ran down the left sideline for a game-winning touchdown. It was just the fourth 100-yard return off a missed kick in NCAA history and sent Auburn to its first SEC title game since 2010. Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns (including a 99-yarder that gave Alabama the lead early in the fourth quarter), but he was unable to overcome the Crimson Tide’s special teams miscues. This was just the second time in history that both Alabama and Auburn were ranked into the Top Five coming into this game. Nick Saban is now 0-6 all-time when facing an Auburn team that has won 9 or more games.
Ohio State’s Title Hopes Survived—Barely
On paper, this year’s Ohio State/Michigan showdown appeared to be a mismatch. But strange things can happen in big rivalry games and No. 3 Ohio State narrowly avoided being another victim of a big upset. Michigan scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull within one of the Buckeyes. But the Wolverines tried to go for the win with 32 seconds left and Devin Gardner’s two-point conversion pass was intercepted at the goal line, securing the Buckeyes’ 42-41 victory. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more as Michigan’s inability to stop the Buckeye rushing game (393 yards on the ground) proved to be the difference. This was the first time in the history of this rivalry that both teams scored 40 or more points. With Alabama’s loss, the Buckeyes now find themselves squarely in the mix for a national title shot if they can get past Michigan State in next week’s Big Ten Championship.
The Number of BCS Busters is Down to One
No. 16 Fresno State had a great run and senior quarterback Derek Carr is having one of the best individual campaigns this year. But his 519-yard, six-touchdown effort on Friday was not enough as the Bulldogs fell to San Jose State, 62-52, ending their dreams of crashing the BCS party. That leaves just No. 14 Northern Illinois waiting in the wings. Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch has been a one-man offensive machine this year, becoming just the fifth quarterback in FBS history to have 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns in the same season. In this week’s 33-14 win over Western Michigan, Lynch broke his own FBS record, rushing for 321 yards and three scores. NIU will face Bowling Green in next week’s MAC title game and, assuming they win that, the Huskies should be headed to the Fiesta Bowl against the Big 12 Champion.
Missouri Has Completed Its SEC Turnaround
After going just 2-6 in conference play last year, No. 5 Missouri has shown it can compete on college football’s biggest stage in wrapping up its first SEC East title with a 28-21 win over No. 21 Texas A&M. Tigers quarterback James Franklin appeared to have shaken off the rust from his shoulder injury, throwing for 233 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 80 yards in the win. But the big story was a Missouri defense that came into the game ranked 115th nationally in passing but was able to hold Johnny Manziel to just 195 yards and one score in this one. The Tigers will now face Auburn for the SEC championship. And if either Florida State or Ohio State slips up, the stakes could get a whole lot bigger.
The Gamecocks Are Still the Kings of South Carolina
No. 10 South Carolina continued its Palmetto State domination, knocking off archrival No. 6 Clemson for the fifth straight year, 31-17. In his final home game, Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw threw for one touchdown and ran for another to run his record as a starter to 17-0 at home. But the big story was the South Carolina defense that forced six Tiger turnovers and sacked Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd five times. This is the first time in the 117-year history of this rivalry that Clemson has lost five straight.