BY MICHAEL LEESE
James Connor scored on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter to break a 21-21 tie, leading the Pitt Panthers to a stunning 28-21 win over Notre Dame. Pitt intercepted Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees twice in the fourth quarter, once in the end zone, and once on a pass that was returned 45 yards to the five-yard line to set up the winning touchdown.
The loss dropped the Irish to 7-3, and just about eliminated any hopes they had of receiving an at-large bid to a BCS bowl. The fired-up Panthers moved to within one game of bowl eligibility in what is the biggest win for Pitt under second-year coach Paul Chryst.
“It’s Notre Dame. It’s a fun game,” said Savage. We’re in prime time, and this is every college kid’s dream to go out there, and play in front of everyone like that and come out with a win.”
SYRACUSE AND BOSTON COLLEGE JOIN PITT AT 5-4 IN ACC……Syracuse handed Maryland its third straight loss 20-3. The Orange need one more victory to become bowl eligible in their first season of ACC play. Boston College flew past New Mexico State, 48-34. Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher with 1,471 yards, ran for 295 yards, averaging 9.8 yards per carry in the contest! Florida State crushed Wake Forest 59-3 to move to 9-0 and now stand firmly at No.2 in the BCS polls. The big game for bragging rights in the Coastal Division saw Virginia Tech snap a two-game losing streak as they disposed of Miami 42-24. The Coastal is wide open as the top-4 teams all have two conference losses.
CENTRAL FLORIDA TAKES CONTROL…….The Knights won the battle of unbeaten AAC teams, with a hard-fought 19-14 win over Houston. in their first year in the conference, Central Florida will claim the AAC title and a BCS berth if it wins out. Four games are left on the schedule for the Knights and they face teams with an overall 11-22 record. Rutgers needed a last-minute touchdown to beat Temple 23-20. The win moved Rutgers to 5-3 on the season.
BIG 12 NOW THE BIG THREE……Oklahoma was effectively eliminated from the Big 12 race Thursday night, when Baylor handed the Sooners a second conference loss 41-12. The win by the Bears moved them to 8-0 and on a collision course with Texas. The Longhorns are still unbeaten in conference play after a dramatic 47-40 overtime win at West Virginia. On fourth and goal, Steve Edmund intercepted a Mountaineers pass in the end zone to seal the victory for the Longhorns, and Case McCoy had his best game of the season throwing for three touchdown passes. Oklahoma State remains one game behind, winning big over Kansas 42-6, and setting the stage for Saturday’s game with Texas. Both teams still have to play Baylor, so when the winner of that game plays Baylor, they will be in position to effectively clinch the conference title
NEBRASKA WELCOMES SPARTY TO LINCOLN…….The Cornhuskers defeated Michigan 17-13 making Saturday’s game in Lincoln THE battle for the Legends Division title, with the winner likely to face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. But that is not set in stone, due to the Golden Gophers, who kept their remarkable season going with another impressive win over Penn State 24-10. The Gophers now stand at 8-2,and are hoping to go bowling in Florida, but they still have a chance to win the division. Iowa became bowl eligible by crushing Purdue 38-14.
EAST CAROLINA AND MARSHALL REMAIN ON COLLISION COURSE……Both the Pirates and the Thundering Herd hammered their opponents over the weekend, setting the stage for what will likely be a battle for the East Division title in Conference USA on November 29 at Marshall. North Texas remains the front-runner in the West. The Mean Green control their own destiny as they hold the tiebreaker over Rice. Middle Tennessee got bowl eligible with a 48-0 drubbing over Florida International.
STANFORD DOES IT AGAIN…… Stanford fans could be heard yelling, “Twice is nice,” Thursday after knocking the Ducks out of the National Championship Game for the second consecutive season. The Cardinal used a dominating, physical defense and a pounding ground game to jump to a 26-0 fourth quarter lead. Oregon was held to only 312 total yards. The Ducks did mount a fourth quarter comeback that fell short as the Cardinal recovered an onside-kick in the final minute. Ironically, the Ducks can still win the PAC-12 North should the Cardinal fall against USC this coming weekend. The Washington Huskies became bowl eligible with a 59-7 win over Colorado. In the South Division, Arizona State defeated Utah 20-19, and remained on top at 5-1. The Sun Devils got a late touchdown pass from Taylor Kelly to Richard Smith for the win. UCLA and USC kept pace with victories over Arizona and Cal to move to 4-2 one-game behind the Sun Devils.
TIDE ROLLS TO 9-0……Alabama struggled in the first half against LSU, but overwhelmed the Tigers in the second, taking control of the line of scrimmage, and going on to a 38-17 win. The loss dropped the Tigers to 7-3 on the season. Auburn continued their assault on opposing rush defenses, as the Tigers rushed for 444 yards against Tennessee. Quarterback Nick Marshall attempted only seven passes in the game! He led the Tigers with 214 yards rushing, while Tre Mason added another 117. These Tigers face the Georgia Bulldogs at home this weekend. Johhny Manziel led Texas A&M over Mississippi State 51-41, in what was possibly Manziel’s last home game, as he could be seen down on the field after the game taking photos. The Aggies take to the road for their final games, travelling to LSU and Missouri to close the season. Mississippi became bowl eligible with a 34-24 win over Arkansas.
The big news in the East Division was Vanderbilt’s big win over Florida 34-17. The Gators have now fallen to 4-5 and are in deep jeopardy of not making a bowl game. The Gators will need a win over South Carolina or Florida State to get the required magic six. Missouri moved to 9-1, remaining on top of the East at 5-1 in conference, by disposing of Kentucky 48-17. The Tigers control their own destiny in the East, but they still must play at Mississippi and host Texas A&M.