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12 nuggets to chew on 12-12-12

It's always fun when the calendar blesses us with a completely symmetrical date and, since this is the last of such days until January 1, 2101, we thought we'd celebrate by looking at 12 themes across college football in 2012 that all involve the number 12. 

1. The year of the 12th Man. Texas A&M has never been hotter. Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy. Kliff Kingsbury won the coveted FootballScoop Offensive Coordinator of the Year award for the second straight year. A win in the Cotton Bowl will give the Aggies their first top 10 finish since 1994 and their first New Year's Day bowl win since 1987. In year one, breaking away from the Big 12 paid off big for the 12th Man.

2. 12-0 Notre Dame seeks No. 12. Notre Dame's 12-0 regular season placed them to Miami to do something they haven't done since 1988. A win over Alabama would give them their 12th national championship.

3. Notre Dame shares the nation's longest winning streak, 12 games, with two other teams. The first one is obvious, and will remain at 12 games until Aug. 31: Ohio State. And, after what turned out to be a stunning upset loss to Iowa to open the season, Northern Illinois has ripped off a dozen straight wins to ride into the Orange Bowl.

4. The other 12-game streak. Southern Miss sits alone with the nation's longest losing streak, 12 games. Todd Monken's team will attempt to snap the streak on Aug. 31, 2013 against a team that has played only 12 games as a member of FBS, Sun Belt Conference newcomer Texas State. 

5. Big 12 move pays off for TCU. TCU opened newly-renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium and moved into a cushier neighborhood, the Big 12. Each factor played into one of the biggest attendance increases in college football as the Frogs hosted 37 percent more fans this fall. Their jumped from just under 34,000 to just above 46,000, and increase of around 12,000 spectators. 

6. Half a dozen. North Texas and Air Force protected their quarterbacks like no one else this season. The teams led the nation by only allowing half a dozen sacks on the entire season.

7. 12 years running. We've written before in this space about the depth across the Big 12. Nine of the league's 10 teams will play in bowl games. West Virginia was one of the conference's last teams to reach a bowl, keeping alive a postseason streak that began in 2001. This year marks their 12th straight bowl game.

8. 12 games that shaped the 2012 season. When looking back on this season (of course) 12 years from now, here's the dozen games we'll remember (in no particular order): Notre Dame 20, Stanford 13 (overtime). Alabama 32, Georgia 28. Texas A&M 59, Louisiana Tech 57. West Virginia 70, Baylor 63. Stanford 17, Oregon 14 (overtime). Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24. Oklahoma 51, Oklahoma State 48 (overtime). Alabama 21, LSU 17. Ohio State 17, Michigan State 16. Florida 37, Florida State 26. Baylor 52, Kansas State 24. Navy 17, Army 13. 

9. Nobody asked, but here are my 12 head coaches and staffs whose stockings should be extra full this Christmas (one from each conference, plus an independent). SEC: Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss); ACC: David Cutcliffe (Duke); Big East: Doug Marrone (Syracuse); Big Ten: Bill O'Brien (Penn State); Big 12: Gary Patterson (TCU); Pac-12: Jim Mora (UCLA); MAC: Darrell Hazell (Kent State); Conference USA: David Bailiff (Rice); Sun Belt: Todd Berry (ULM); Mountain West: Rocky Long (San Diego State); WAC: Gary Andersen (Utah State); Independents: Brian Kelly (Notre Dame). 

10. 12 more than 12. All but 12 of the 70 teams preparing for bowl games have played 12 games this season. Conference title game participants Alabama, Central Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kent State, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Stanford, Tulsa, UCLA and Wisconsin have played a baker's dozen worth of games. 

11. 2-for-12. Louisiana - Lafayette played the best fourth-down defense in college football this season. Opponents attempted 12 fourth downs on the Ragin' Cajuns and converted only two of them.

12. Clear your schedule: 12 bowl games worth watching. We'll go in chronological order this time. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Toledo vs. Utah State. Holiday Bowl - Baylor vs. UCLA. Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson. Capital One Bowl - Georgia vs. Nebraska. Outback Bowl - South Carolina vs. Michigan. Rose Bowl - Wisconsin vs. Stanford. Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. Northern Illinois. Sugar Bowl - Florida vs. Louisville. Fiesta Bowl - Oregon vs. Kansas State. Cotton Bowl - Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M. Bowl - Arkansas State vs. Kent State. BCS National Championship - Notre Dame vs. Alabama.