BY MICHAEL LEESE
It was late in the third quarter, and the South Carolina Gamecocks were down 17-0, on the road, to the undefeated Missouri Tigers. The Gamecocks starting quarterback, Connor Shaw, was on the sidelines battling a sprained knee suffered the week before against Tennessee. With a loss, South Carolina’s chances of winning the SEC East Division would end.
“It was do or die,” said Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier. “We had no chance in the division if we didn’t win this one.
Shaw came off the bench and rallied the Gamecocks, engineering fourth-quarter scoring drives of 65, 69 and 63 yards. When Shaw entered the game, the Gamecocks trailed 17-0. With 42 seconds left, he hit Nick Jones for a TD pass, and after the extra-point was made, the game was tied at 17, and heading to overtime.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime. The winning points for Carolina came on an Elliiot Fry 40-yard field goal.
The loss by the Tigers ended their seven game winning streak and left the door open for South Carolina to have a chance to win the East Division title. But this game will be remembered for more than being South Carolina’s first overtime victory ever. It will be remembered for an injured Connor Shaw putting on one of the toughest, gutsiest performances by an quarterback ever.
“He’s a gritty, tough kid,” said Spurrier. “A real leader.”
AAC ACTION…….The Houston Cougars and Central Florida Knights became bowl eligible and remained tied at the top of the conference at 3-0. The Cougars bounced back in a big way, disposing of Rutgers 49-14, after suffering their first loss last week to BYU. UCF blasted a hapless UCONN team 62-17. The Cougars travel to Orlando on November 9th to face the Knights.
DUKE GETS BOWL ELIGIBLE IN ACC…….Despite being outgained 387 to 198 in total yardage, the Blue Devils won at Virginia Tech 13-10. Duke intercepted Logan Thomas four times en route to its first road victory against a ranked team in 42 years! The win moves Duke to 6-2 on the season and makes the Blue Devils bowl eligible. In other ACC play, Miami needed a last-minute score to beat Wake Forest 24-21, setting the stage for a battle of unbeatens this weekend when they travel to Florida State. Pittsburgh suffered a major blow to their bowl hopes as they were beaten at home by Navy. Nick Sloan kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired giving the Midshipmen a 24-21 win and dropping the Panthers to 4-3.
NEBRASKA OVERRUN BY A PACK OF GOPHERS……Minnesota gashed the Cornhusker defense with 271 rushing yards on the way to a stunning 34-23 win. The win moved the Gophers to 6-2 on the season and made them bowl eligible.The loss damaged the Cornhuskers hopes of winning the Legends division. Iowa moved to 5-3 with a 17-10 win over Northwestern in overtime, dropping the Wildcats to 4-4. Ohio State won its 20th straight game under Urban Meyer, moving to 8-0 by crushing Penn State 63-14.
TEXAS TECH FALLS TO OKLAHOMA IN BIG 12 ACTION……The Red Raiders are no longer perfect under Kilff Kingsbury, as they saw their seven game winning streak end as they fell at Oklahoma 38-30. Texas and Baylor both remained unbeaten in conference play. Texas handled TCU 30-7, while Baylor smoked Kansas 59-14. Oklahoma State rolled to a a 58-27 win over Iowa State. Five teams still have a shot at the conference title, making this a great battle as we head down the stretch.
TULANE GETS BOWL ELIGIBLE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2002…….The Green Wave continued to surprise as they moved to 4-0 in league play with an impressive 14-7 win over Tulsa. The Rice owls also moved to 4-0 with a 49-7 win over UTEP. North Texas is also in the mix in the west division as they sit at 3-1 and host Rice on Thursday night!
OREGON, STANFORD SHOWDOWN LOOMING……The Ducks recovered from a sluggish first half to destroy UCLA on Saturday. Tied 14-14 at the half, the Ducks exploded for 21 fourth quarter points to topple the Bruins 42-14. The win improved the Ducks to 8-0 and moved them back to No. 2 in the polls as they leapfrogged Florida State. Stanford kept pace by defeating Oregon State in a hard-fought battle in Corvallis. The Cardinal used their physical defense to shut down the explosive Beaver passing attack and hold on for a 20-12 win. Both teams will now have a week off before facing each other on Thursday November 7th in Palo Alto! Arizona State had a bye week, but still moved into first place after the Bruins fell to Oregon. The Sun Devils now sit atop the South standings with a 3-1 mark.
BYU THE FIRST TO ACCEPT BOWL INVITE……The cougars downed Boise State Friday night 37-20 and then accepted a bowl invitation to play in the Emerald bowl in San Francisco. The Cougars used another impressive performance from Taysom Hill to easily get by the Broncos. The Cougars have two key games left on their schedule as they travel to both Wisconsin and Notre Dame. Those games could well spell trouble for those two schools as they still have major aspirations of a BCS berth.