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Top 25 Game Grades Plus News and Notes from Week 12

Top 25 Game Grades

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1 N ILLINOIS AT E Michigan 544 102 71 149 11 3 107.3
2 OKLAHOMA AT Oklahoma St 122 467 47 115 265 41 104.5
3 STANFORD Oregon St 172 309 38 71 214 0 102.9
4 WISCONSIN Northwestern 328 230 70 161 123 23 102.6
5 NEVADA Boise St 269 259 34 145 348 31 96.8
6 TCU AT New Mexico 293 206 66 111 32 17 96.5
7 OHIO ST Michigan 257 221 37 181 169 7 95.7
8 S CAROLINA AT Clemson 95 227 29 74 186 7 95.4
9 WEST VIRGINIA AT Pittsburgh 148 212 35 78 284 10 93.2
10 OREGON Arizona 389 148 48 58 448 29 92.1
11 ARKANSAS LSU 142 320 31 103 194 23 91.0
12 ARIZONA AT Oregon 58 448 29 389 148 48 90.5
12 HAWAII AT New Mexico St 291 315 59 79 135 24 90.5
14 NEBRASKA Colorado 265 142 45 99 163 17 90.2
14 FLORIDA ST Florida 112 221 31 276 64 7 90.2
16 MINNESOTA Iowa 227 166 27 89 128 24 89.9
17 ALABAMA Auburn 69 377 27 109 216 28 89.2
18 MISS ST AT Mississippi 208 294 31 66 256 23 88.8
19 SAN DIEGO ST UNLV 250 338 48 67 167 14 88.3
20 MISSOURI AT Kansas 214 179 35 101 41 7 88.0
21 MIAMI (OH) Temple 253 155 23 70 145 3 86.9
22 SOUTH FLORIDA AT Miami, Fl 135 159 23 165 188 20 86.1
23 GEORGIA TECH AT Georgia 411 101 34 154 271 42 85.8
24 N CAROLINA AT Duke 255 264 24 12 263 19 85.5
25 NOTRE DAME AT USC 147 149 20 80 181 16 85.5

News and Notes

Rutgers lost their 5th straight game, which coincides with a spinal injury that backup DT Eric LeGrand suffered on Oct. 16. Louisville dominated this one 28-0 late 2Q as UL needed a win to wrap up a bowl. RU was still alive for a bowl but gave up TD drives of 75, 64, 75 and 69 yds on UL’s first 4 poss and the game was basically over at that point. UL lost starting QB Justin Burke early and Will Stein replaced him. Stein had not completed a pass this year but hit 9-14-72 incl a 29 yd TD pass.

Pitt had a clear path to the conference title and an automatic BCS bowl bid but had 4 TO’s that were key to West Virginia taking charge. Pitt actually had a 111-7 yd edge late in the 1Q and a 205-75 yd edge at the half but trailed 14-7. The key play of the game happened when Pitt, on its first drive of the gm, was int’d and returned 53 yds to the 2 and WV got a TD 1pl later. A Pitt fmbl at the WV18 was ret’d to the 47 but WV punted. Pitt then fmbl’d at their own 46 and WV got a TD 3pl later and led 14-7 at the half. WV got a 71 yd TD pass early 3Q and controlled the 2H.

Big plays were the key for Northern Illinois. NI had the MAC Championship game on deck so the Eastern Michigan game was actually meaningless for them but they had 5 different “drives” of 1 play result in TD’s of 71, 81, 61, 61 and 74 yards all on runs. NI led 37-3 at the half with a 22 yd drive after a fmbl and a 23 yd drive after a 9 yd punt but had a 318-89 yd edge. They brought in backup QB Lynch in the 3Q and his first 2 plays were an 81 yd TD run and a 61 yd TD run to extend it to 51-3. Third string QB Grady’s first play was a 61 yd TD run and NI even got a 74/1pl TD drive on a run by Hopkins with 7:20 left. NI had a 646-160 yd edge.

Toledo’s Eric Page was the star vs CM. He had a 99 yd KR TD in the 1Q and a 95 yd KR TD in the 3Q. Page led with 12 rec for 127 yards and completed a pass for 28 yards but surprisingly did not have any rushes. UT jumped out to a 28-7 lead and to make up for UT’s 2 KR TD’s, CM blk’d a punt and rec’d in the EZ to start the 4Q and blk’d another recovering at the UT15 with 5:49 left. CM fmbl’d on the next play, however, and UT went on a 53/12pl drive including a 4&3 conversion with an 18 yd pass to the CM26 and took a knee running out the clock.

Western Michigan was playing for a bowl game and thanks to Bowling Green going 3 & out on their first 3 poss and only getting off punts of 20, 24 and 30 yards, WM’s first 3 poss were 39/8pl for a 42 yd FG, 50/8pl for a TD and 48/9pl for a 25 yd FG, 13-0. BG went 3 & out a 4th time and WM went 65/7pl for a TD, this time after a 49 yd punt, 20-0. It was 27-0 at the half with WM’s other TD coming after a fmbl’d KO at the BG13 (BG hadn’t even had a FD). WM led 41-7 after 3Q’s and brought backups in for the 4Q.

Akron managed to avoid its first winless season since they moved to IA ball in 1987. In the 1H Buffalo had a 167-133 yd edge but there were 2 key plays late in the half. The first came when UA blk’d a punt and drove 19 yds for a TD with 4:20 left (xpng). UB had the ball but was int’d and ret’d 23 yds with :55 left in the half. Two plays later UA got a TD to take a 12-0 lead with :34 left. UB got within 22-14 with 1:55 left and rec’d the onside kick getting to the UA17 and had a FD with over 1:00 left but fmbl’d and UA held on.

SMU wrapped up a berth in the CUSA Title game with an OT win over E Carolina. SMU trailed 14-0 after 1Q but led 38-24 in the 2H before EC forced OT with a TD with :12 left. After an SMU TD in OT they got an int at the 10 by Crawford to seal it. SMU’s offense was clicking but QB Padron did hurt his ankle and was hobbling around most of the 2H.

Arizona St lost starting QB Steven Threet to a head injury and actually trailed UCLA 17-0. Both teams needed a win to keep alive their bowl hopes but ASU rolled up a 595-442 yd edge. Brock Osweiler hit 27-36-380 yards. At the half ASU had a 21-20 lead with just a 253-223 yd edge with UCLA getting a 37 yd FG one play after missing a 52 yd FG when ASU was called for a leaping penalty. UCLA was SOD at the ASU1 on the key play of the game with 7:10 left in the 3Q. Three plays later ASU got a 71 yd TD to go up by 11 and got a 99 yd KR TD then after an int drove 27 yds for a TD, 45-27 and UCLA was SOD on 4&5 at the ASU18 with 7:56 left as well.

USF/Miami, Fla was an interesting game. The first 12 series of the game featured 12 punts and 3 FD’s. UM got their first offensive drive going 42/9pl but with 3:43 left in the half, fmbl’d in the EZ for a TB. USF went 75/13pl for a 21 yd FG, 3-0. USF fmbl’d at the UM10 with 11:38 left after a 53/7pl drive to open the 3Q and after QB Morris threw an int that was ret’d 12 yd to the 18, USF got a TD to lead 10-0. Harris came in at QB for UM and on his 2nd drive they went 48/8pl for a TD. UM got a 70 yd TD run by Storm Johnson which was their longest run since 2001 when Frank Gore got a 77 yard TD run. UM had a 2nd & gl at the 1 with 8:44 left but settled for an 18 yd FG on 4&gl when they could have been up by 2 scores, 17-10. USF got a TD with 2:00 left and UM on 1&10 from the USF31 was int’d at the 12 forcing OT and USF won it there. UM HC Shannon was fired after the game.

The key to Arkansas’ win over LSU was two 80+ yd passes to Cobi Hamilton. The first came on 3&9 with 6:52 left in the 2Q to put the Hogs up 14-7. LSU had the ball at the 44 but punted 56 yds for a TB with just :06 left in the half. Mallett hit Hamilton at midfield, he spun out of tackles and raced untouched to the EZ with the clock expired for an 80 yd TD giving the Hogs a 21-14 lead. Another key play happened when on 4&3 Mallett hit Joe Adams with a 39 yd TD pass to go up 28-20. Ark had a 1st & gl but settled for a 19 yd FG with 6:09 left to lead 31-20. On LSU’s last gasp, down 31-23, they began at their own 6 with :49 left but were sk’d & fmbl’d and Ark rec’d it at the 1.

If NC State beat Maryland, they would have been playing in the ACC Title game. NCSt did jump out to a 14-0 lead. There were a couple of key plays. MD missed a 37 yd FG but then got an IR 26 yds to the 3 on the next play and got a 3&gl 11 yd TD pass to tie it at 14. NCSt lined up for a 38 yd FG with :43 left in the half. It was blk’d and MD lateralled it for a 35 yd return to the NCSt47. MD banged home a 52 yd FG with :12 left in the half for a 17-14 lead. MD led 31-17 on 4&gl from the 8, Wilson was sk’d for a loss of 21 yds. On the next play, MD got a 71 yd TD pass, 38-17. NCSt got a TD with 2:39 left and rec’d the onside kick and got a TD with 1:16 left. MD rec’d the onside kick and on 4&1 opted to go for it and made it by an inch with :53 left.

Iowa came in ranked #6 in the country in rush D and Minnesota was 2nd to last in the Big Ten in rush offense but the Gophers rushed for 216 yards on 46 carries. Ricky Stanzi in his final reg season game came in 6th in the nation in pass eff but hit 10-22-128. There were plenty of Iowa fans on hand but UM fans were on the field at the end of the game. UI did not take its first lead until a TD with 11:35 left but UM after punting with 9:07 left, drove 77/6pl for a TD with 4:11 left. UI fmbl’d after a 12 yd run at their own 35 and UM converted on 3&4 2x then took a knee in the big upset.

Two big pass plays by Jake Locker were they key vs Cal with an 80 yd TD pass then on the final drive a 46 yd pass. The game was played in rain in the final game at Memorial Stadium before the 87 year old venue undergoes renovation. Cal shutout an opponent in the 1H for the 5th time this season and will not be in the post season for the first time since 2002. Cal led 13-10 and had the ball but punted with 4:39 left setting up UW’s game winning TD which came when UW passed up a tying FG on 4&1 with :02 left and Polk’s TD run gave them the win keeping Cal home for the holidays.

With students home for Thanksgiving break, on a rainy day Stanford had a lot of empty seats but crushed Oregon St. A look at the stats shows each team with 20 FD’s but this was not even a ball game. SU had a 24-0 lead at the half scoring on 4 long drives and a 274-86 yd edge. OSU did have 5 TO’s but most of them were with the game out of reach already although OSU did also have a punt blk’d and were SOD twice which is almost like having 8 TO’s.

Tennessee came in with the nation’s longest current consecutive win streak in the series at 25 and extended it to 26 with their win over Kentucky. The Vols needed a win to get to a bowl and got their 4th straight. UT did miss a 28 yd FG to open and UK got a TD but UK also fmbl’d into the EZ on 1st & gl from the 1. Up 14-7 UT was int’d at the 4 in the 2Q and later UK missed a 42 yd FG after a 15 play drive. At the half UK had a 253-193 yd edge but trailed 14-7. UT had a 3&1 at the 6 but was int’d in the EZ mid-3Q. They got a TD and FG on their next 2 poss to lead by 10. UK punted on 4&9 with 7:47 left then got only to their 42 and were int’d on a deep pass at the UT32 with 4:55 left and UT ran out the clock. Denarius Moore had 205 yards receiving to become the only Vols receiver to have more than 200 yards rec in 2 games in either a season or his career. He also had 228 vs S Carolina this year.

BIG COMEBACKS TO STAY ALIVE FOR THE BCS TITLE GAME:

Alabama failed to put Auburn away and it came back to bite them. At one point, the Crimson Tide had a 347-2 yd edge and a 24-0 lead. Alabama fmbl’d into the EZ for a TB with 12:22 left in the 2Q, settled for a 20 yd FG after having a 1st & gl at the 3 with 8:01 left and then had a 1st & gl at the 7 but with :54 left in the half, fmbl’d at the Aub12. That’s 3 drives inside the Aub10 result in 3 points and Auburn got a late TD in the 1H to pull within 24-7 with the Tide having a commanding 18-5 FD and 379-87 yd edges. Cam Newton only threw for 216 yards and only rushed for 39 yards on 22 carries. Bama settled for another short FG of 32 yards after having the ball at the Aub7 with 1:05 left 3Q. QB McElroy suffered a concussion with 5:18 left and backup McCarron came in for the final drive which didn’t get past the Tide’s own 19. Auburn took the lead with 11:55 left on a 67/11pl drive. It was the biggest comeback by anyone vs Alabama ever.

Arizona had a 274-175 yd edge at HT vs Oregon. In the 1H the 2 combined for 3 TO’s inside the opp’s 15 keeping possibly 21 pts off the board. UO was int’d at the UA18 on their opening drive. UA was int’d at the UO10 with the game tied at 14. A snap went over the P’s head for a safety to make it 16-14 and then on 1st & gl from the UA4, UO fmbl’d at the 8 with 5:39 left in the half. UA went on an 80/13pl drive but settled for a 29 yd FG after a 1st & gl at the 5 to lead 19-14. UA punted to open the 3Q and UO got an 85 yd TD run (2ptng). UO missed a 42 yd FG but UA was offsides giving UO a FD at the 20 and 2pl later they had a TD, 27-19. UA settled for a 41 yd FG and UO then went 75/6pl for a TD and after a 25 yd punt went 35/5pl for a TD and after a fmbl’d KO went 8/2pl for a TD to blow it open, 48-22.

Earlier in the day Boise St fans had to be excited with Bama’s big lead and Arizona leading Oregon and it appeared Boise St was on its way to yet another rout. At the half they had 24-7 FD and 299-175 yd edges. Nevada had a 35 yd FG blk’d mid-3Q but went 58/9pl for a TD incl a 4&2 conv and then got a 44 yd end around for a TD, 24-21. BSt went 3 & out for a 2nd straight poss when Nevada went 87/15pl and had a 1st & gl at the 8 but settled for a 23 yd FG, 24-24. BSt got a 79 yd run on a screen pass to Martin to retake the lead with 4:53 left but NV went 79/14pl and got a 7 yd TD pass with :13 left. BSt appeared to pull it out again, this time from their own 37 when Moore hit Young with a 54 yd pass to the 9 in the center of the field but Kyle Brotzman missed the 26 yd FG wide right. In OT Brotzman pushed a 28 yd FG to the left (came in hitting 21-24). NV got a 34 yd FG for the win.


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  • Illini4fan

    just curious why you have Northwestern, Michigan , and penn State ahead of Illinois on the bowl chart, when illinois has as good or better records than all three and beat both Penn State, and Northwestern in routs and lost in ot to Michigan but we have a better big ten record, doesnt make any sense, we should be playing Florida, not Michigan! hell Ron Zook coaching against Florida in a bowl?

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Bowl games are not necessarily always about conference standings and records. It is more about $$$ with regards to which fan base travels better and which teams will create higher TV ratings which unfortunately for Illinois this year worked against them.