Giving Thanks for College Football

Utah's incessant knocking on the front door of BCS headquarters won't relent until early December when the college football season's most meaningful poll is released. The Utes' completed an undefeated regular season over the weekend while Oklahoma and Auburn continued jockeying for position behind Southern Cal. As college fans head to the holidays here are some of the weekend results for which they may be giving thanks.

Chris Field, AFAFalcons Staff WriterSOONER(S) OR LATER. Oklahoma won its 23rd straight regular season game and 20th in a row at home by downing Baylor, 35-0. Teammates Jason White, the reigning Heisman Trophy holder and freshman RB Adrian Peterson furthered their individual candidacies for this year's prize in leading the Sooners' offense. White threw 2 first half TD passes and Peterson added three, short second half TD runs as OU raised its all-time record against the Bears to 14-0.

Peterson's 240 rushing yards gave him a share of the NCAA record for most 100-yard games by a freshman (set by Wisconsin's Anthony Davis three years ago.) The OU defense manhandled Baylor in limiting the Bears to 156 yards of offense and just 26 on the ground. The Sooners stormed to 501 yards behind a 302 yard rushing attack. OU's next game will be December 4th in the Big 12 title clash against a yet to be determined opponent.

A TIGER BY THE TAIL. Auburn's offense is so good that every once in a while the efforts of its defense have slipped notice this fall. The Tigers upended Alabama, 21-13, to finish an unbeaten regular season for the first time since 1993. The Tigers held the Crimson Tide without a TD until the fifty-ninth minute of play and Auburn's offense overcame a, 6-0, halftime deficit to win its annual battle with 'Bama.

QB Jason Campbell keyed a 224 yard passing attack by completing 18 of 24 passes and finding Courtney Taylor with a 32 yard scoring strike. Neither team could mount a rushing game as the defenses limited running backs to less than two yards per carry.

Auburn's victory stretched its current win streak to 13 games, the fourth longest active skein in division 1-A. AU entered the contest leading the nation in fewest points allowed per game at 9.3 and didn't yield a TD until leading, 21-6, with under two minutes to play. In games against LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama this season Auburn surrendered a total of 38 points. The Tigers will meet Tennessee in the SEC title game on December 4th. When the teams met on October 2nd in Knoxville, the 9th ranked Tigers clawed their way to a comfortable, 34-10, decision over the 8th rated Vols.

REMATCH IN THE WORKS? The Cal Bears had no trouble in dismissing rival Stanford, 41-6, for the team's third consecutive victory in that PAC 10 rivalry. Spectacular tailback J. J. Arrington kept his distinction as being the only running back in division 1-A to gain over 100 yards each game this season by rushing for 169 yards and a TD. Arrington broke Chuck Muncie's school, single season rushing record of 1,460 yards and has 1,583 for the year.

A smothering Cal defense held Stanford to nine completions in twenty-eight pass attempts and 24 yards rushing. QB Aaron Rodgers hit on 11 of 14 tosses for Cal and RB Marshawn Lynch complemented Arrington's effort with 122 yards of his own. Cal finishes its regular season on December 4th against Southern Mississippi in a game postponed earlier this fall due to a hurricane.

There are plenty of bowl scenarios which could surface, but should Southern Cal beat Notre Dame, while Oklahoma and Auburn lose conference championship games, Cal and the Trojans could meet for a second time this season in a bowl game with a national title at stake.

WAITING FOR WORD. Urban Meyer'sRice-Eccles Utah Utes thrashed in-state rival BYU by a convincing, 52-21, on Saturday night as the team completed an undefeated regular season. Utah now slips into waiting mode as it anticipates word from the BCS on whether or not it will become the first team from a non-BCS affiliated conference to be extended a bid to that organization's postseason bowl monopoly.

After the Cougars tied the score at 14-14 with five minutes to play in the opening half, Utah amassed 38 of the game's final 45 points to turn the MWC rivalry into a blowout.

Meyer, coaching what may have been his last regular season game for Utah, improved his two year mark to a gaudy 21-2. QB Steve Smith boosted his record as the team's starter to an even more impressive 20-1. In outgaining BYU by nearly 250 yards, Utah once again demonstrated the lethal offensive balance that has been its trademark in 2004. RB Quinton Ganther and WR Steve Savoy keyed a 354 yard rushing attack ably abetted by Smith's 184 yard passing performance.

Savoy scored on a 92 yard reverse, the second longest rushing TD play in Utah history. Utah entered the game averaging 499 yards on offense and 45 points and easily bettered those marks with 538 and 52. Utah has scored 45 or more points in six straight games and 41 or more points in nine of eleven games in 2004. The Utes' closest win this year came by fourteen points versus Air Force.

BACKING INTO PASADENA. Michigan lost to Ohio State, 37-21, but earned a berth to the Rose Bowl as the Big 10 champ when Wisconsin lost to Iowa later in the day.

With OSU holding a, 20-14, lead early in the second half Ted Ginn gunned it up the sideline on an 82 yard punt return for the Buckeyes on the game's pivotal play from which the Wolverines never recovered. It was Ginn's 4th punt return for a TD this season tying an NCAA record.

Buckeyes' QB Troy Smith passed for 241 yards and added another 145 rushing and accounted for three Ohio State TDs. Michigan QB Chad Henne's 328 yards and two TDs went for naught as Michigan had its 13 game conference win streak halted.

BADGERED BY THE HAWKEYES. Wisconsin was unable to recover from its blowout loss against Michigan State last weekend and dropped its second straight game by losing to Iowa, 30-7. The loss knocked the Badgers out of what only eight days ago had seemed to be a sure Rose Bowl bid.

Four turnovers coupled with a measly 186 yards of offense put too much pressure on Wisconsin's defense. Iowa QB Drew Tate suffered three interceptions, but countered those miscues with three scoring aerials to pace Iowa's offense.

Wisconsin has allowed 79 points in its past two games after having yielded just 92 in its first nine games of the season. The Hawkeyes won their 18th straight at home, the nation's fourth best such streak. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is 8-4 against ranked opponents in the past three years.

HERE, THERE & ELSEWHERE. A week after rescuing his Boise State team from a close call in overtime against San Jose State, RB Jon Helmandollar scored a school record 5 touchdowns as the Broncos defeated Louisiana Tech, 55-14. BSU stretched its active win streak to 21 games, tops in division 1-A.

Florida gave outgoing coach Ron Zook a, 20-13, upset victory over rival Florida State in Tallahassee. It was the Gators' first win on FSU's home field since 1986. A Seminoles' defense, which led the country in fewest rushing yards per game at 61.9, surrendered 140 to Florida. The Gators never trailed in the contest.

The Louisville Cardinals continued their march to the postseason with yet another explosion on offense this time at the hands of Houston. The Cards dealt the Cougars a, 65-27, embarrassment behind 666 yards of offense spearheaded by Stefan LeFors' three TD passes.

LSU used a seven yard TD run by Alley Broussard in the fourth quarter to down SEC rival Ole Miss, 27-24. Broussard's third TD of the game and school record 250 yards on the ground were just enough to gain a victory for the Bayou Bengals who let a,14-3, first quarter lead slip through their hands. LSU finished its home season with a, 7-0, mark.

First year coach, Mike Price, led the UTEP Miners to a, 57-27, pasting of SMU in WAC play. Trailing, 20-10, midway through the second quarter, the Miners rattled off 45 unanswered points to turn the game into a rout. UTEP takes an 8-2 record into its regular season finale against, 3-8, Tulsa next weekend.

HEROES AND HEADLINERS. The longest active win streak in the nation right now belongs to Trinity College of Hartford, Connecticut. The Bantams have won 22 straight and just completed their second consecutive undefeated season. Trinity (8-0) outscored its opponents 310-52 and never trailed in the second half of any game.

Miami's Brock Berlin threw for a career high 361 yards in the 'Canes, 52-7, demolishing of Wake Forest.

Top ranked USC gets back in action when it faces Notre Dame this coming weekend.

Purdue WR Taylor Stubblefield caught 14 passes to move his career total to 309--an NCAA record.

You can crown Northwestern as the kings of overtime. The Wildcats played their fourth overtime game of the season in beating Illinois, 28-21. A win in Hawaii next week makes the 'Cats bowl qualified..

Michael Larkin of Miami of Ohio caught a pass in an NCAA record 48th consecutive game as the Redhawks downed Akron, 37-27.

Let me offer one final, pre-holiday morsel for your consideration: with a win over Tennessee and a yet to be determined bowl opponent I still think Auburn will be named a national champion by one media outlet or another.

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