Narrow Escapes & Other Gridiron Misadventures.

There were near misses and direct hits all across the width and breadth of the top twenty-five. Perhaps the team making the most favorable impression on Saturday was Auburn--and the Tigers didn't play--so the voters can't penalize Tommy Tuberville's team for that. Here's a look and who crashed and burned as well as those who escaped the clutches of defeat.

EAGER BEAVERS. A dark foggy night in Corvallis made it difficult for the USC Trojans to see the path they'd have to take to conquer Oregon State. USC needed every one of its 14 fourth quarter points to post its, 28-20, victory over OSU.

Reggie Bush--who may be the best and most talented player in the country even though he won't win the Heisman Trophy--led the way for Pete Carroll's team with a 65 yard punt return to stretch USC's lead to, 21-13, early in the final stanza. OSU's 20 points were one more than USC had allowed in its past three games combined.

Southern Cal has beaten Oregon State in 30 of the teams' past 31 meetings. USC ran its overall winning streak to 18 games, 13 in a row in the PAC 10 conference and 10 in a row on the road.

NOT SO FAST. To paraphrase a song lyric, "What a difference a year makes." When Oklahoma met Texas A & M in 2003 the teams staged a public flogging rather than a football game as the Sooners inflicted upon the Aggies a, 77-0, embarrassment--worst ever in the school's history.

OU QB Jason White's fifth TD pass of the day--a 39 yard connection to Mark Bradley--with six and half minutes to play, provided the margin of victory for Oklahoma in its, 42-35, thriller against the Aggies. RB Adrian Peterson was held in check nearly all day as his longest run was 15 yards--but he still managed to eke out his ninth 100 yard rushing performance of the season and establish an NCAA record for a freshman.

White, the reigning Heisman winner, showed he will not easily relinquish his grasp on the prize, as his 16 TD passes in the past four games indicate. The Sooners' QB has completed passes for 1,158 yards in his that span while throwing just one interception. OU trailed at one point, 21-7, before scoring 35 of the game's final forty-nine points.

SITTING DUCKS. California didn't post a shutout for the first time in three games, but held on to edge past Oregon, 28-27, thanks to a solid second half performance by its defense. After falling behind, 27-14, with two minutes to play in the first half, the Bears' defenders prevented the Ducks from scoring another point.

WR Geoff McArthur caught 2 TD passes, with the final one providing the necessary points for Jeff Tedford's team to secure the victory. TB J. J. Arrington continued to show why he's among the nations' elite backs as he picked up 188 yards rushing. It was his eighth straight game going over the 100 yard barrier. QB Aaron Rodgers threw 3 TD passes, completed 21 attempts for 275 yards and led the high powered Cal offense to 494 yards on the day.

LASSOED? It may take some time for the memory of this one to subside. Oklahoma State led Texas, 35-7, with four seconds to play in the first half. What at the time seemed to be little more than a harmless 3 yard TD toss from Vince Young to Bo Scaife, may have ignited a most improbable Longhorns' rally leading to a, 56-35, win.

Energized by that connection, which made the halftime score, 35-14, Texas inundated OSU with 42 second half points, as RB Cedric Benson scored four of his 5 TDs after the break.

Vernand Morency ran for 100 yards for the Cowboys, but it wasn't nearly enough to stem the rising tide of Texas' 600 yards of offense on the night. Benson's 141 yard effort helped Texas improve its record to 23-0 when he gains at least 100 yards on the ground.

SHEARED. Coach Urban Meyer's Utah Utes kept up their incessant knocking on the door to the BCS' postseason gala by shearing the Colorado State Rams, 63-31, in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah's 9-0 start to the current season set a school record.

Alex Smith--rarely mentioned in the same breath as Jason White, Matt Leinart or Kyle Orton in a discussion of college football's best QBs--provided another dazzling display in completing 21 of 26 attempts for 291 yards and 4 TDs to lead the Utes. Smith has now thrown twelve times as many TD passes as interceptions (24 to 2) in leading the Utes' multi-dimensional attack.

Utah piled it on through the game's first three quarters in building a, 56-10, lead before allowing three early fourth quarter scores to CSU that made the game cosmetically closer than was the case. The Utes have all but cinched a second consecutive Mountain West Conference title. The team's record is now, 19-2, since Meyer took the head coaching position. Utah has scored 187 points in its past three games.

LUCK O' THE IRISH. Tennessee couldn't overcome losing QB Erik Ainge to a separated shoulder late in the first half as visiting Notre Dame posted a, 17-13, upset win to become bowl qualified.

After surrendering 567 yards to South Carolina last week, there were concerns as to whether the Vols' defense could contain the Fighting Irish attack. Tennessee limited Notre Dame to a mere 216 yards for the game, but an interception returned 26 yards for a TD by LB Mike Goolsby in the third quarter, proved to be the turning point of the game.

In upending Tennessee, Notre Dame raised its recent record after open weeks in its schedule to a remarkable 24-2.

BEDEVILED. On a record setting night, Arizona State QB Andrew Walter saved his best pass of the contest for the game's final moments. Walter threw his fourth TD pass of the evening, with nine seconds left to play, to Matt Miller, after which Rudy Burgess converted a two point play to give ASU its margin of victory in a, 34-31, game against Stanford.

On the final play of the first half Miller caught a TD pass which enabled Walter to break John Elway's career mark for TD passes in the PAC 10 conference. Elway's total of 77 has been bested by Walter's 80. ASU won its sixth straight home game while winning for only the second time in its past six meetings with the Cardinal.

SOFTIES. The Wisconsin Badgers' defense must have been feeling charitable. Once the team's offense ran and passed its way to a, 31-0, lead over faltering Minnesota, coach Barry Alvarez's team allowed the Golden Gophers a whopping 14 points. Considering Wisconsin had been yielding a stingy 8.5 per game--best in the nation--the 2 TDs represented a veritable landslide of points.

QB John Stocco passed for 297 yards and the Badgers' ground game added another 228 with Anthony Davis leading the way with 124 and a pair of scores. Wisconsin's defense was so dominant that Minnesota held the ball for less than 16 minutes of the game and initiated 53 plays from the line of scrimmage to Wisconsin's 89.

Wisconsin, now 9-0 on the year, closes the regular season portion of its schedule with games on the road against Michigan State and Iowa.

KING DAIVD. Georgia QB David Greene became division 1-A's all-time leading winner as a starting QB when he helped lead the Bulldogs to a, 62-17, laugher on the road against SEC opponent Kentucky. Green's 40th triumph at the helm of the Georgia offense pushed him out of a tie with Peyton Manning for career victories.

Greene directed Georgia to a, 20-0, lead and found Leonard Pope with a 1 yard completion for the game's first TD early in the second quarter. The Bulldogs combined 589 yards of offense with three Wildcats' turnovers to turn the game into a rout by early in the second half when it assumed a, 34-3, lead. Georgia meets Auburn on the Tigers' home field next week in a game pitting the leaders of the SEC's East and West divisions.

HEADLINES & HEADLINERS. Hawaii QB Tommy Chang passed for 285 yards--271 more than he needed--to surpass Ty Detmer's career mark for passing yardage by a quarterback, in leading the Warriors to a, 34-23, defeat of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

Tulane QB Lester Ricard completed 18 of 19 passes for 319 yards, 4 TDs and wasn't intercepted as the Green Wave washed over Navy, 42-10. The Middies have dropped two of four contests after starting the season with a five game win streak.

QB Bret Mayer passed for a career high 345 yards in leading the Iowa State Cyclones to a, 34-27, win over Nebraska in Big 12 action in Ames. ISU can win the North division of the conference with victories in its next two games versus Kansas State and Missouri.

Boston College has beaten Notre Dame four times in a row. Yesterday's, 24-21, win over Rutgers was the Eagles' first in four years in the game immediately following their meetings with the Irish.

The Miami Hurricanes may have finally blown out to sea. Clemson downed the 'Canes, 24-17, in overtime after Miami squandered a, 17-3, lead. It was Miami's second straight loss.

Arizona ended a seven game losing streak by downing Washington, 23-13. The Huskies slipped to 1-8 on the year and 0-6 in PAC 10 play.

Baylor is still looking for its first road win since joining the Big 12. The Bears' latest loss came to Texas Tech by a, 42-17, score. On the other end of the success spectrum, Wyoming beat UNLV, 53-45, in triple OT, in Sam Boyd Stadium last night. It was the Cowboys' first road win in the MWC since November 1999. The game also marked John Robinson's last appearance as the Rebels coach in Las Vegas.

Army's Carlton Jones ran for 213 yards and a two scores, but it wasn't enough to keep Air Force from beating the Black Knights, 31-22.

It was a busy day for Jerome Harrison of Washington State. He carried the ball a school record 42 times and gained 247 yards to help the Cougars beat UCLA, 31-29.

The Bowling Green Falcons called off the dogs, in a manner of speaking. After building a, 49-0, halftime lead against Western Michigan, BGSU scored just 3 more points in the second half.

Cincinnati, against whom Army snapped its nineteen game losing streak earlier this season, turned the tables on 21st ranked Southern Mississippi by beating the Golden Eagles, 52-24, ending a 13 winning streak in Conference USA for the losers.

With QB Kyle Orton out of action, Purdue dropped its fourth consecutive game, this time by a, 23-21, count to Iowa. Florida beat Vanderbilt for the 14th time in a row in SEC action.

Put some ice on that arm. Dustin Long threw for 577 yards and five scores in Sam Houston State's high scoring contest with McNeese State. Long's team prevailed, 52-47.
 


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