The Top Ten Notes and Nuggets from a Jaw-Dropping Saturday
1. We will never see THAT again - No matter if college football continues as is for the next 10,000 years until the sun burns this planet to a crisp, there will never be a game exactly like what we saw at the Iron Bowl. No. 4 Auburn beating No. 1 Alabama on a 109-yard missed field goal return as time expires is a combination of factors that an entire room of supercomputers would need at least a year to duplicate. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a team go on the road, win the turnover battle, hit on a 99-yard touchdown pass and lose the game?
2. Kick, Bama, Kick - In Iron Bowl lore, "Punt Bama Punt" is shorthand for the 1972 game in which Auburn upset No. 2 Alabama after blocking two consecutive fourth quarter punts to turn a 16-3 deficit into a 17-16 win. After the Tide missed all four field goal tries, the last one in most devastating fashion, you can bet there are "Kick, Bama, Kick" bumper stickers in production as you read this. Special teams always matter.
3. An absolute classic at the Big House - Here is why rivalry games are the ultimate crapshoot in sports: a Michigan offense that would've struggled to move the ball against some junior high teams played its best game of the season against Ohio State. Michigan hit the Buckeyes for 603 total yards and 31 first downs, but it wasn't enough and Ohio State stayed perfect after denying a Wolverines' two-point try inside the game's final minute, hanging on for a 42-41 win. Brady Hoke made the right call going for two, but Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs guessed the exact play Michigan would dial up.
4. Southern Miss won a game! Decisively! - The nation's longest losing streak came to a long-awaited end Saturday, as Southern Miss laid the wood to UAB, 62-27. The Golden Eagles' previous high for the season was 23 points; they scored 28 in the third quarter. We know what this means for Southern Miss, but what about UAB? The Blazers went 2-10, with wins over FCS Northwestern State and 1-11 Florida International.
5. The only thing standing between Florida State and a perfect season? Duke - More impressive than the wins themselves is how Duke is winning these games. The Blue Devils are a tough football team. They jumped on top of the ACC's Coastal Division by rushing for 358 yards in the win over Miami, and stayed there Saturday by coming up with an interception on the game's final drive to close out a 27-25 win over North Carolina. This is a complete football team.
6. BearDown Beat Down - Earlier this week we pondered whether Arizona's win over Oregon would be remembered as a fluke or a turning point. Early polling is in, and it appears to be a fluke. The Wildcats fell behind Arizona State 27-0 on Saturday night en route to a 58-21 loss. With the win, Arizona State finishes with the best conference record in the Pac-12 and has earned the right to host Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship on Saturday.
7. Fireworks Fly in Fort Worth - The post-game confrontation between Art Briles and Gary Patterson will grab headlines, but the game itself is worthy of note as well. Baylor looked mortal for the third time this season - all three away from Waco - in nearly blowing a 34-17 third quarter lead before intercepting TCU's Casey Pachall inside its own end zone with 11 seconds remaining in the game. Bryce Petty completed just 19-of-38 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and the Baylor running attack (with all three running backs healthy) was held to 164 yards on 3.2 yards per carry. The 41-38 win means Baylor can win its first Big 12 title next week with a win over Texas and an Oklahoma win over Oklahoma State.
8. If not now, when? - Georgia Tech doesn't get many opportunities to beat Georgia, but Saturday was one of them. A banged up Georgia team playing its first game without Aaron Murray trailed the Yellow Jackets 20-0 deep into the first half. But it still wasn't enough for Georgia Tech. Despite leading by 20 points in the first half and by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, Georgia Tech fell to Georgia 41-34 in overtime. Paul Johnson's program has now lost five straight to the team from Athens.
9. "They just don't seem to play well against us." - That's the quote Steve Spurrier offered South Carolina's 31-17 win over Clemson, the Gamecocks' fifth straight in the series. Every one of the Gamecocks' five wins have been by double digits. The Ultimate Troll Master in College Football is now 6-3 in nine seasons against Clemson. Meanwhile, Dabo Swinney's program is 0-4 over the past two seasons against Florida State and South Carolina, and 21-0 against everyone else.
10. Year of the Tiger - There aren't many guarantees in life, but here's one of them: the Tigers will win the 2013 SEC championship. To much less fanfare, Missouri clinched a spot opposite Auburn in the SEC title game by defeating Texas A&M 28-21 in Columbia. Gary Pinkel's team rushed for 225 yards on 5.1 yards per carry while holding Johnny Manziel to 24-of-35 passing for 195 yards and one touchdown.