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Gone In 21 Seconds - Houston's Comeback Earns Top Billing

by Dave Congrove
November 8, 2009

Iowa, Penn State and Oregon all lost while Alabama and Georgia Tech survived, but Houston's incredible comeback earns top billing.

Trailing 45-37 with the seconds ticking away, QB Case Keenum capped a 13-play, 61-yard drive with a pass to James Cleveland in the front right corner of the end zone. But the 2-point conversion attempt to tie the game failed when Keenum was blitzed and sacked from the blind side. That was the ballgame - only 21 seconds remained and the Golden Hurricane faithful began to celebrate. Tulsa had pulled off the 45-43 upset.

Not quite. Faster than you can rip a football team's heart out and stomp on it, Houston recovered the ensuing onside kick when it bounced from the grasp of a Tulsa player on the front line. Houston had a pulse and Tulsa had a problem. Keenum strutted back onto the field and conducted a 3-play, 27-yard march to the Tulsa 34-yard line. With 3 ticks left, all that was needed now was for a freshman kicker to exceed his longest made field goal by 17 yards. Unbelievably, Matt Hogan did just that and Houston celebrated a 46-45 victory.

The win kept Houston in control of its destiny to the CUSA West division title. A loss would have slipped the Cougars a game behind SMU which is also 4-1 in conference play after defeating Rice 31-28.

Meanwhile, Ricky Stanzi wasn't around to lead Iowa back this time. The Hawkeyes QB, who has led his team to four 4th-quarter comebacks, left Saturday's game in the 2nd quarter with what head coach Kirk Ferentz called a severe ankle injury. Adding insult to injury, Stanzi was hurt on a play where he fumbled in the endzone and Northwestern recovered for a touchdown to close a 10-0 deficit to 10-7. Three plays later, freshman backup QB James Vandenberg's interception led to another touchdown for the Wildcats who went on to win 17-10. It was the first loss of the season for the Hawkeyes, almost certainly killing their BCS title aspirations.

Iowa travels to Ohio State next week for a game that will determine the frontrunner for the Big Ten title. But Iowa will likely be without Stanzi at QB to face a Buckeye team that dominated Penn State 24-7 at Happy Valley on Saturday. That's the same place where Penn State was beaten 21-10 over a month ago by the Stanzi-led Hawkeyes. Terrelle Pryor threw 2 TD passes and ran for another score while the Ohio State defense held the Nittany Lions to 76 yards rushing and 201 total yards.

Oregon also suffered a buzz-killing defeat on Saturday, a week after crushing USC to seemingly cement itself as the conference favorite. But Stanford RB Toby Gerhart ran all over the Ducks, amassing 223 yards and 3 TD's as Oregon fell 51-42. Gerhart ran for two scores in the opening quarter as Stanford built a 24-7 lead. The Cardinal had a 48-28 lead with 10:48 to play in the game before Oregon tried to mount a furious rally. Oregon is, by no means, eliminated from the conference title hunt. The Ducks are 5-1 in PAC-10 play and Arizona (4-1) is the only team with fewer than two conference losses. Oregon travels to Arizona in two weeks.

Notre Dame's BCS bowl hopes may have been sunk after Navy upset the Irish 23-21 in South Bend. After suffering 43 years of agony against the Irish, the Middies have taken 2 of the last 3 meetings. Navy took a 23-14 lead when it sacked Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen for a safety with 1 minute left in the game. Clausen still managed to make it interesting when Notre Dame recovered an onside kick and scored three plays later on a 31-yard TD pass to, who else but, Golden Tate. However, the Irish couldn't come up with the next onside kick and Navy finished the game in victory formation.

Georgia Tech averted the upset when head coach Paul Johnson made a gutsy call to go for the 1st down in overtime. Wake Forest had taken a 27-24 lead on its OT possession and had the Jackets staring at 4th-and-1 from the Demon Deacons' 5-yard line. QB Josh Nesbitt converted on a sneak, then ended the game with a 3-yard run for a 30-27 victory. Georgia Tech can claim the ACC's Coastal division title with a win at Duke next Saturday.

Cincinnati saw a 20-point lead over UConn get cut to 2 in the 4th quarter, but Tony Pike's replacement at QB wouldn't let the Bearcats' undefeated season slip away. Zach Collaros continued his phenomenal play for a fourth straight game by throwing for 480 yards and a TD, and running for 75 yards and two more scores as the Bearcats prevailed 47-45. In all, he captained the Cincinnati offense to 711 total yards. In his three starts, Collaros has completed 89-of-99 passes for 1,100 yards, 8 TD's and 1 INT. Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly sounded as though he would start Collaros, instead of Pike, in next week's all-important home game against West Virginia.

The Big East title will largely be decided in round-robin competition between Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and West Virginia over the next four weeks. The Panthers are tied with Cincinnati's 5-0 conference record after crushing Syracuse 37-10, and the Mountaineer are 3-1 after brushing off pesky Louisville 17-9.

Alabama got a 4th-quarter 73-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Julio Jones to sneak past LSU 24-15. That TD made the score 21-15, but the Tide was able to add a field goal with 3:04 left in the game on its next possession. The victory sets up a rematch of last year's SEC title game between Alabama and Florida.

Florida stayed perfect with a 27-3 win over Vanderbilt, and Texas remained unbeaten with a 35-3 rout of outmanned UCF. Colt McCoy threw for 470 yards and Jordan Shipley had 11 catches for 273 yards in the Longhorns' win. UCF managed just 151 total yards in its loss to Texas, and Vandy only had 199 in bowing to the Gators.

TCU continued to state its case for a BCS bowl bid with a 55-12 drubbing at San Diego State. The 9-0 Horned Frogs host Utah next week. The Utes thumped New Mexico 45-14 on Saturday, leaving Utah and TCU with identical 5-0 conference records.

Nebraska intercepted Oklahoma QB Landry Jones five times and managed to punch out a 10-3 upset of rival Oklahoma, ending a four-game losing streak to the Sooners. Oklahoma falls to 5-4 with the loss while the 'Huskers remain in the Big 12 North title chase with Kansas State. The Wildcats' 17-10 home win over Kansas snapped a 3-game losing streak to their state rival.

Troy stayed in command of the Sun Belt race with a 40-20 win at Western Kentucky, improving the Trojans conference mark to 6-0.

Air Force soared over Army 35-7 to give the Falcons a fourth straight win over the Black Knights. The AFA has taken 12 of the last 13 meetings, and 19 of the last 21.

Michigan is in jeopardy of missing the bowl for a second straight year after losing 38-36 at home to Purdue. The Wolverines are 5-5 with games remaining against Wisconsin (away) and Ohio State (home). Michigan hasn't missed bowl games in consecutive seasons since 1973-74, and the Boilermakers had not won at Michigan since 1966. Purdue improved to 4-6 to keep its slim bowl hopes alive.

On Friday night, Boise State needed a late surge to put away Louisiana Tech 45-35 in Ruston. The Broncos saw a 27-7 lead evaporate in the second half as the Bulldogs climbed to within 30-28 early in the 4th quarter. A Jeremy Avery 44-yard TD run with 5 minutes left increased the lead to 45-28 and sealed the win that improved Boise State's record to 9-0. It was the 21st consecutive regular season victory for the Broncos.

An unusually heavy slate of 3 Thursday night games failed to produce any surprises, but did deliver one nail-biter. Temple blew leads of 21-3 and 31-13 and ultimately needed an 18-yard FG with 3 seconds left to pull out a 34-32 win over Miami (Ohio). The victory keeps the Owls undefeated in the MAC East at 5-0. Temple improved to 7-2 overall with its seventh straight win and clinched its first winning season since 1990.

In a MAC West game, Northern Illinois overpowered winless Eastern Michigan 50-6. The Huskies remain in the hunt for the division title at 4-1, one loss behind Central Michigan which they visit in the regular season finale.

Virginia Tech won 16-3 at East Carolina as redshirt freshman Ryan Williams ran for a career-best 179 yards, overcoming last week's fumble that set up North Carolina's game-winning field goal. Williams entered the contest as the nation's 13th-leading rusher and raised his average to 125.1 yards per game with Thursday night's performance.

The football week began on Tuesday with Bowling Green's come-from-behind 30-29 win at Buffalo. An 18-yard TD pass to the nation's leading receiver, Freddie Barnes, produced the game-winning points with 39 seconds left. Barnes entered the game averaging 131.8 yards and 12.4 receptions per game. He had 8 catches for 122 yards in this contest.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
With Iowa's loss, the list is down to these 6 teams - Alabama, Boise State, Cincinnati, Florida, TCU, and Texas.

WINLESS TEAMS:
4 teams are still winless - Eastern Michigan, New Mexico, Rice and Western Kentucky.

FBS vs. FCS:
There were 4 such games this week and FBS teams won each of them easily. FBS teams are 85-5 vs. FCS teams on the year (.944), and 460-42 (.916) since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/19: Central Arkansas 28, Western Kentucky 7
9/12:
New Hampshire 23, Ball State 16. New Hampshire also has wins at Army in 2008 (28-10), Marshall in 2007 (48-35), and Northwestern in 2006 (34-17)
9/5: Richmond 24, Duke 16; William & Mary 26, Virginia 14
9/3: Villanova 27, Temple 24

This year, 87 FBS play a total of 94 games against FCS foes. Duke, Kansas State, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rutgers and USF each play two FCS teams.

STREAKS:
Florida has 19 straight victories. The Gators won 27-3 vs. Vanderbilt.

Iowa saw its 13-game winning streak come to an end with a 17-10 home loss to Northwestern.

Texas has 13 straight victories. The Longhorns won 35-3 vs. UCF.

TCU has 11 straight victories. The Horned Frogs won 55-12 at San Diego State.

Boise State has streaks of 21 consecutive regular season wins, 23 consecutive home wins, 53 consecutive regular season home wins, and 39 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (33-0). The Broncos' last home loss to a conference foe occurred in 1998 when they were a member of the Big West and fell to Idaho in the final regular season game. The Broncos are 4-1 in their last five matches against BCS conference schools. The Broncos won 45-35 at Louisiana Tech on Friday.

Oklahoma has 27 straight home victories. The Sooners lost 10-3 at Nebraska.

Utah has 13 straight conference wins, and 16 straight home wins. The Utes won 45-14 vs. New Mexico.

Alabama has 21 straight regular season wins, and 9 straight overall. The Tide won 24-15 vs. LSU.

Cincinnati has 15 straight regular season wins, and 9 straight overall. The Bearcats won 47-45 vs. Connecticut.

Western Kentucky has lost 17 straight overall and 22 straight to FBS teams. The Hilltoppers lost 40-20 vs. Troy.

New Mexico has lost 13 straight overall. The Lobos lost 45-14 at Utah.

NEW COACHES:

See Coaching Changes for details)

There are 22 new college football coaches in the FBS ranks this season. 20 have secured their first victory. Only Eastern Michigan and New Mexico remain winless.

TEAM W-L COACH THIS WEEK
Army 3-6 Rich Ellerson Lost 35-7 at Air Force
Auburn 7-3 Gene Chizik Won 63-31 vs. Furman (FCS)
Ball State 1-8 Stan Parrish Idle
Boston College 6-3 Frank Spaziani Idle
Bowling Green 4-5 Dave Clawson Won 30-29 at Buffalo
*-Clemson 6-3 Dabo Swinney Won 40-24 vs. Florida State
Eastern Michigan 0-9 Ron English Lost 50-6 at Northern Illinois
Iowa State 5-5 Paul Rhoads Lost 34-8 vs. Oklahoma State
Kansas State 6-4 Bill Snyder Won 17-10 vs. Kansas
Miami (O.) 1-9 Michael Haywood Lost 34-32 at Temple
Mississippi State 4-5 Dan Mullen Idle
New Mexico 0-9 Mike Locksley Lost 45-14 at Utah
New Mexico State 3-6 DeWayne Walker Idle
Oregon 7-2 Chip Kelly Lost 51-42 at Stanford
Purdue 4-6 Danny Hope Won 38-36 at Michigan
San Diego State 4-5 Brady Hoke Lost 55-12 vs. TCU
Syracuse 3-6 Doug Marrone Lost 37-10 at Pittsburgh
Tennessee 5-4 Lane Kiffin Won 56-28 vs. Memphis
Toledo 4-5 Tim Beckman Idle
Utah State 2-7 Gary Andersen Lost 49-36 at Hawaii
Washington 3-6 Steve Sarkisian Lost 24-23 at UCLA
Wyoming 4-5 Dave Christensen Lost 52-0 vs. BYU
*-Dabo Swinney took over halfway through last season when Tommy Bowden stepped down after a 3-3 start. Swinney was 4-3 over the last 7 games of the season.