Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday live blog, Vol. 7

The College GameDay guys are at a Division III school today, but I'm right here. I'll update continually throughout the day.

12:30 a.m. Hawaii is pretty much on cruise control. Oregon State-Washington is a close game that nonetheless fails to move my spirit. San Diego State-UNLV has been mentioned twice now, which is two times too many. College Football Final has drawn to a close. Barring any unforeseen developments, I'm calling it a night for yet another installment of the live blog.

As always, thanks for reading, and Roll Tide.

12:27 a.m. A Nebraska quarterback throwing for 510 yards and seven touchdowns in one game? Where has that been all year?

12:20 a.m. Fun fact of the night: Four of the five highest scoring games in NCAA history have come in 2007. Lou Holtz is right: Global warming is everywhere, and it's on the attack.

11:42 p.m. Lou Holtz to Mark May at the end of a passionate discourse on why Kansas is No. 1: "My dad fought in the war so you can have the privilege to say dumb things." Rant, Lou, rant!

11:28 p.m. Other unfinished business from today: Arizona State survived in Pasadena to keep alive its hopes for a return visit in January. Out of nowhere, N.C. State is a game away from bowl eligibility after a hard-fought victory over North Carolina. It was a good day in Evanston, where Northwestern ensured at least a .500 season. And after a Cyclone-tastic start to the season, the $2.8 Million Man has Iowa back in bowl contention after a narrow win over its 1-10 rival, Minnesota.

11:11 p.m. Around Conference USA: Tulsa controls its destiny in the C-USA West after slamming a 56-7 wrecking ball into Houston. UCF leads the East after East Carolina inexplicably dropped one to 2-8 Marshall. Southern Miss found a way to choke away another game it had no business losing, this time to Memphis. And UTEP seems to be back in its past form, losing by 15 at Tulane.

11:05 p.m. With unidentified debris swirling around the field, as is often the case during Aloha Stadium games, Brennan fires off the 121st touchdown pass of his career to tie Ty Detmer's NCAA record, which is officially living on borrowed time. Hawaii, 31-7.

10:57 p.m. Instead of sending its own broadcasters to Hawaii, ESPN2 is streaming the feed from Fresno State's local telecast. My favorite added touch: This is labeled "bonus coverage" when it's very much a regularly scheduled broadcast. Guess you've got to give credit when it's due, even if that's during the entire game.

10:51 p.m. As we near midnight on the East Coast, three games remain on television. None of them are particularly engrossing -- San Diego State vs. UNLV doesn't exactly scream "must-see TV" -- but I can't say that I've seen much of Hawaii this year, so I'm giving it a shot. Colt Brennan came into the game needing three touchdowns to claim the NCAA record for touchdown passes. He'll probably get that out of the way in the first half.

10:45 p.m. KU wins, 43-28. I'm removing the "interim" from Kansas' No. 1 ranking. Their defense is a little too porous for my taste, and they probably won't end up as the nation's best team, but why not reward perfection at this point in the season? Mark Mangino actually came into this year somewhat on the hot seat. It's safe to say his job is safe for as long as he'd like now.

10:37 p.m. The one-loss teams have taken advantage of weak opposition this week to make their cases for climbing the national title ladder. LSU is cruising over Louisiana Tech, 58-10. Oklahoma shredded Baylor, 52-21. Missouri took down a backsliding Texas A&M squad, 40-26. And Oregon utterly dominated Bye State University without ever leaving its couch.

10:23 p.m. One game is the SEC's premier showdown of the evening. The other is the Pac-10's marquee prime-time matchup. Both are late in the fourth quarter. One game's score is 51-31. The other's score is 24-17. Bet you can't guess which is which.

10:12 p.m. Kansas got that memo about the TPS reports keeping the lead. Todd Reesing fires another TD pass to Marcus Henry. Jayhawks, 40-28. It's not pretty, but what has been this year?

10:07 p.m. Boston College is following the trail blazed by its predecessors: choking away the No. 2 ranking, and then losing again the next week, in this case to a .500 Maryland team striving for bowl eligibility. Play no heed to whatever the rest of the Boston area sports juggernauts may say: If it's good enough for California and South Florida, it's good enough for you, too, Eagles.

10:03 p.m. The Tebow has almost 400 yards of total offense by himself. Florida leads 44-24 with seven minutes to go. Remember when South Carolina was knocking on the door of the top five and the SEC title? It feels like forever and a Vanderbilt ago.

10 p.m. With Ohio State out of the picture, Kansas has a golden opportunity to make a statement tonight. First, though, it might want to work on this "hanging on to a lead" thing. The Jayhawks, once cruising by 19, are now up only 33-28 in the fourth.

9:41 p.m. For some bewildering reason, the Coach is inspired to say he likes Neil Callaway's call for an onside kick when his team is down seven with two minutes and change left. Naturally, the Blazers kick it straight to a UCF player. Moments later, Kevin Smith (the nation's No. 2 rusher, not the guy who gave the world Clerks and Chasing Amy) bursts free for his fourth TD of the game. UCF, 45-31. UAB is still a couple of years away from a breakout season, but it's coming. Tonight was an inspired effort against a team that took Texas to the wire earlier this season.

9:37 p.m. UAB is back within seven of UCF with two minutes and change left at Legion Field. Their record may say 2-7, but the Blazers are much better than a 2-7 team.

9:20 p.m. Brent Musberger is interspersing his play-by-play with questions about peak oil and the national water supply. This is so bizarre that it officially qualifies as postmodern performance art.

9:14 p.m. The score with two and a half minutes to go: Virginia 48, Miami 0. See ya, OB. Literally and metaphorically.

9:10 p.m. The Jayhawks break out a little rock and chalk to go with, well, themselves. Todd Reesing hooks up with Marcus Henry for an 82-yard touchdown pass to stretch the lead to 27-14.

8:59 p.m. The Coach (not) calling a failed UCF fourth-down conversion attempt: "I was actually looking down at my papers." Were Michael Cole and Joey Styles busy tonight or something?

8:52 p.m. UAB is on live television. And only trailing Central Florida by seven. And Jonathan Coachman has taken a break from the pro wrestling world to handle the play-by-play. And yes, the Blazers are only 2-7 this year, but I defy you to find any team whose punter has a more awesome name than Swayze Waters.

8:37 p.m. California-USC is being aired in West Coast oblivion, which means practically no one is getting to enjoy the Golden Bears' throwback uniforms. The Trojans are, though, because they lead the team that's wearing them 14-10 at the half.

8:34 p.m. Hey, don't be blue, Miami! Kyle Wright has connected on seven passes so far. That's six more than your other QB completed last week! I mean, sure, he's also completed three to the other team, but that's not a very optimistic way to look at it!

8:16 p.m. With the lone unbeaten team from a BCS conference locked in a back-and-forth battle on the road, Brent Musberger says he wants to go out eating with Rick Majerus and Mark Mangino. He also sounds like he means it. Buckeyes!

8:13 p.m. Speaking of Oklahoma State, the Sun Belt team that obliterated the Cowboys is now 7-3 after surviving a nail-biter up at Western Kentucky, which I'm guessing is, like every other obscure team in the entire country, better than I think.

8:07 p.m. You wanna come after someone in their own stadium, Kansas? You come after Mike Gundy! He's a man! He's up 14-10! And his age is roughly halfway between 30 and 50!

7:56 p.m. Well, at least someone is sending the OB out in style. Virginia is humiliating Miami 31-0 at halftime. I'm not saying the Cavaliers are both across the ocean and across the city tonight; I'm just saying the Hurricanes might want to consider scoring one more time before their stadium is turned into a pile of rubble.

7:53 p.m. Kansas has looked solid but not spectacular so far in surging to a 10-7 lead at Oklahoma State. Still, as wild as this season has been, if the Jayhawks escape undefeated, they without a doubt would deserve a national title shot. I'm even starting to feel the same would hold true for Hawaii. OK, just kidding. I think.

7:48 p.m. The bad news: Navy's defense surrendered 62 points tonight. The good news: The Middies scored 74. We have a brand-
new highest scoring game in Division I-A history, and they didn't even need overtime to get there. Final combined stats: 136 points, 60 first downs, and 1,315 yards. The Mean Green's quarterback had eight touchdown passes in a loss. Assuming the middies in attendance continued the tradition of a push-up per point after each Navy score, that would be 488 total push-ups during the game. That, at last count, was way, way too many.

7:45 p.m. The Tebow hasn't the time for not plowing down your ESPN cameraman on the sideline. He's too busy getting the lead back. It's 20-14 early in the second quarter as the SEC does its best to become what it used to accuse the Pac-10 of being.

7:31 p.m. It was a touchdown only in the official sense, but that's the only sense that matters. South Carolina finally gets its legs and seizes the lead, 14-13. Defense seems optional in this game.

7:23 p.m. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there a time when the Florida Gators had living, breathing running backs who didn't take direct snaps from the center? Perhaps they should look into a return to those days, that they may convert fourth-and-shorts.

7:03 p.m. The Tebow is making South Carolina's defense look absolutely silly. Florida leads 13-0 after a missed extra point. I should mention they're four minutes into the game in Columbia.

6:58 p.m. After an epic drive, the Cavaliers are up 14-0 down at the OB. Did I mention I also never mind seeing a Miami loss? Can't imagine what would have prompted that sentiment...

6:50 p.m. Miami is playing its very last game ever in the Orange Bowl tonight. As dilapidated as it's become, the stadium is one of the most historic places in American football, and it'll be sad to see it go when city officials have it bulldozed next year. Virginia is ahead 7-0 right now, but I wouldn't mind seeing the Hurricanes win to send the place out in style. Now then, don't say I've never said anything nice about Miami.

6:38 p.m. Is it wrong that I'm super-geeked about seeing Kansas play tonight? Part of it is that the Jayhawks are the last real hope for a national champion that could fit the dominant champion mold. Part of it is that I get to hear Brent Musberger call a national broadcast less than two hours after the Buckeyes! went down to defeat. Part of it is the legitimate question of whether a team that got annihilated by Troy can knock off a title contender. And part of it is, of course, that Mike Gundy is a man! He's 40!

6:19 p.m. Virginia Tech's defense has turned on the turbo jets against FSU, notching that rarest of all scoring plays: the safety. The Hokies have rolled off 20 unanswered points since the Seminoles took a lead that was not long for this world.

6:08 p.m. It took every available second, but Brandon Cox slipped in that fourth INT against Georgia. Again. Buckeyes!

6:03 p.m. Turnover on downs for Auburn. That'd be Georgia, 45-20. No revenge for the Tigers this year. Meanwhile, while you weren't looking, Mississippi State became the second-best team in the SEC West. Bet you didn't call that one on Aug. 30, huh?

5:47 p.m. They're nearing the fourth quarter in Denton, where Navy has clawed its way to a 65-56 lead over the Mean Green in a defensive battle. Sooner or later, the offenses have to get in gear.

5:38 p.m. Uga VI tries to take a bite out of a guy on the sidelines. Two plays later, Georgia is in the end zone for an 18-point lead. A win tonight would make the Bulldogs undefeated since 1996 in games where their mascot has briefly reverted to primal self.

5:27 p.m. Goodbye, final minute of game clock. Goodbye, perfect Ohio State season. Goodbye, overrated Big Ten team in the national title game. Hello, classless post-game fight. Buckeyes! I'm officially naming Kansas the interim No. 1 team for a few hours, unless or until Mike Gundy proves that he's a man! He's 40!

5:20 p.m. There is no excuse for Georgia to have lost a game this season. None. Moreno is an absurdly fast and powerful runner. He looks better than Darren McFadden tonight.

5:17 p.m. Florida State, fresh off smacking around Boston College on the road, has just taken the lead at Virginia Tech. I no longer feel empty inside upon thinking about Alabama losing to Florida State. I can't say that about certain other Alabama losses.

5:15 p.m. Brandon Cox lofts up his own attempt at an Error of Unspeakable Horror, and Georgia gladly snags it. The Bulldogs have it near midfield as the third quarter begins to run out.

5:08 p.m. Sick, sick cutback on that Knowshon Moreno TD run. Georgia reclaims the lead, 24-20. Elsewhere, Illinois clings to a seven-point edge over THE Ohio State University.

5:05 p.m. Cincinnati leads Connecticut heading into the fourth quarter, 20-3. The universe of people who care consists of the people in attendance plus maybe a small percentage of the residents of those places. And some folks in West Virginia, where their team is about to claim a tie for the Big East lead. Hide your couches and crank up the John Denver tonight.

4:52 p.m. Halftime score: North Texas 49, Navy 45. The teams have combined for 36 first downs and more than 800 yards in the first half. Even PlayStation stat lines don't look like that.

4:48 p.m. Worthy of note: Auburn has rallied to tie Georgia at 17-17. This is not exactly an auspicious development relative to Alabama's chances of success in the Iron Bowl.

4:46 p.m. Not even NBC's green peacock logo can help Notre Dame. Midway through the fourth, Air Force is doubling up the Irish, 34-17. It's not necessarily that I agree entirely with this Slate article -- but I understand.

4:43 p.m. Four touchdown passes for Juice Williams. It's 28-14 for the Illini. Let's check in with Brent: "Buckeyes!" Thanks, Brent.

4:35 p.m. Illinois picks off Todd Boeckman in the end zone to halt what was shaping up as a lengthy Buckeyes touchdown drive. With this and Matt Ryan's meltdown at Boston College in the last two weeks, Heisman voters might have to back someone other than the quarterback of an overrated top-five team. Like Oregon's Dennis Dixon, whose top-five team isn't overrated.

4:22 p.m. Kentucky-Vanderbilt is the only conference game not being televised from the SEC today. So of course it would shape up as the most interesting game of the day. Yes, in football. The Wildcats have taken a 27-20 fourth-quarter lead as they look for their first win since last month's LSU upset. The Commodores are looking for another victory to become the SEC's 11th bowl-eligible team. In this wacky year, though, it'll probably take seven wins to cinch a bid. That means Vanderbilt could well qualify for a bowl for the first time in most of its students' lives but not get to go. And here you were thinking there were too many obscure bowls.

4:04 p.m. Juice Williams has connected on a third touchdown pass. The Illini have a 21-14 halftime lead in the No. 1 team's house. I hesitate to mention it in fear that it will flutter away like an endangered butterfly not meant for this world, but there it is.

3:53 p.m. Of course UCLA is winning against a top-10 team. Did you expect any different? Were you deterred by those three losses to teams that are a combined 8-20? Well, you shouldn't be. It's a game the Bruins aren't solid favorites to win, which means it's a game they can win. Don't ask questions. You won't get answers.

3:44 p.m. Neither Navy nor Notre Dame has rebounded well from that triple-overtime battle last week. The Midshipmen are down 21-3 early to a bad, bad North Texas team, while the Irish trail Air Force 24-10 at home, despite starting their 37th different quarterback for the 12th time this year.

3:37 p.m. Touchdown, Bulldogs! This time, I don't feel sick inside when I hear it. Georgia leads Auburn, 17-3, in black jerseys that I must say are quite a stylish addition to the uniform repertoire.

3:34 p.m. Illinois' Juice Williams has completed a forward pass. For a touchdown. Twice. Against that vaunted Ohio State defense. It's tied at 14-14. And now the No. 1 team in America is punting again. Cue the Brent Musberger soundboard: "Buckeyes!"

3:15 p.m. And we're back. Let us never again speak of the horror we just witnessed. Let us instead speak of other horrors. Horrors like the 73-31 vengeance that Nebraska is extracting from Kansas State, a perfectly good team that just happens to have the word "Kansas" in its name. Or horrors like Colorado, the only squad to beat Oklahoma this season, dropping one on the road to 3-8 Iowa State. Or horrors like 10 of the 11 members of the Big Ten being bowl-eligible, even though the conference still could crown a champion that lost to a I-AA team next week. (Yes, even after the loss to Wisconsin.) Let us contemplate no other brand of horror, most especially the brand that occurred in rural Mississippi.

2:43 p.m. And it ends in the most fitting way possible: with Wilson holding on to the ball too long and then getting sacked. Mississippi State wins. Again. Um, yeah, excuse me for a minute.

2:40 p.m. Finally a defensive stop. Alabama gets the ball with 38 seconds left, no timeouts, and no effective passing game today. This should be fun. Excruciating, agonizing fun.

2:34 p.m. MSU gets another first down. On a draw. On third-and-
10. Alabama deserves to lose if it's going to allow things like that. One more timeout, not that it really matters.

2:30 p.m. Mississippi State is running out the clock with a one-score lead. This hasn't happened since... well, last year. The Bulldogs are winning ugly, but they are, in fact, winning.

2:24 p.m. Leigh Tiffin is Alabama's lone bright spot on the day. Again, words I never thought I'd use and mean. MSU, 17-12.

2:23 p.m. Wilson takes off running on third-and-14. Why? Why?

2:20 p.m. The good news: Alabama is getting the running game going. The bad news: The passing game has been practically nonexistent. Wilson just now went over 100 yards on the day.

2:13 p.m. Alabama starts the drive in Bulldogs territory. Wilson throws it away three straight times. Punt. State is in the offense's head. Croom's guys look like they're going to win this one again.

2:08 p.m. Ryan Mallett hits a diving Adrian Arrington in the end zone to cut the Wolverines' deficit to two. The Michigan comeback begins. It'd be nice if the Alabama comeback would.

2:02 p.m. You know who I'm glad isn't here to have to see this right now? Dave. Also, to a lesser extent, Dave.

1:59 p.m. We're a quarter away from LSU having to share the Alabama state championship with Mississippi State. This is something that should never happen under any circumstances. And yet, because 2007 is what it is, it's very much real.

1:56 p.m. Well, the game almost ended there. By a few millimeters, Nick Johnson's fumble rolls out of bounds to allow Alabama to stay alive. This is not at all promising.

1:53 p.m. Around the blowouts: Tennessee has shut down the Arkansas running game and leads 27-6 over on Rocky Top, where the other two-thirds of DAVE is hanging out. Clemson has begun its annual rally to close the season strong, beating down Wake Forest 37-10 in the fourth quarter. And this season is bizarre enough that, for once, it's quite unexpected to see Nebraska annihilating Kansas State 38-10 in the third quarter.

1:49 p.m. Oh, great, Wilson gets to start a possession at his own 1-yard line? Surely this will end well.

1:47 p.m. MSU is playing smart, smart, ball-control football. Just milk the clock and wait for the other team to make silly mistakes. It has the Bulldogs up by eight late in the third quarter.

1:35 p.m. Rage. Numbness. Numb with rage. Feelings, words... They fail me. It's Shulaball all over again over in Mississippi.

12:59 p.m. Never mind, I do know what happened. It was the Official John Parker Wilson Error of Unspeakable Horror. A hundred yards later, Mississippi State leads, 10-9.

12:56 p.m. OK, Alabama is at the Bulldogs 1 with 27 seconds and a timeout left. The 1-yard line. If this one doesn't end up in the end zone, I officially won't know what's happening here.

12:53 p.m. MSU vaults a promising Alabama drive into the red zone with a late hit on John Parker Wilson. Both head coaches are enraged for different but slightly nebulous reasons.

12:44 p.m. Sylvester Croom watches game film. How do I know this? He's done whatever is necessary to kick away from Javier Arenas all day. This might seem an obvious strategy, but certain orange-clad and tight-hat-wearing coaches missed the memo.

12:41 p.m. It's bend-but-don't-break defense for Alabama today. Late in the first half, MSU gets in on the field goal festival with one of its own. Tide, 9-3. The fundamentals look good for Alabama's defense, but the offense just hasn't finished a drive yet.

12:38 p.m. Rashad Johnson has been lights out today. Huge interception at the start, and a big-time play to break up a deep pass just now. Hope I'm not cursing it by mentioning it.

12:31 p.m. Your first-half MVP: Leigh Tiffin. Now there are words I never thought I'd type in earnestness. Alabama still can't find the end zone but stretches the lead to 9-0.

12:28 p.m. The remaining Dave just suggested that the second quarter is winding down. Ten minutes remain in the second quarter. See what happens when you surround a Dave with a bunch of non-Daves? Please don't ever let this happen again.

12:26 p.m. I really don't like it when I hear cowbells. And I really don't like it when I see an artist-formerly-known-as-JP game that comes without my full complement of Daves. But I really do like it when I see Alabama in the red zone. Maybe we can turn it into a touchdown this time.

12:18 p.m. Michigan has scored to break the streak of utter Wisconsin domination that has constituted the first half thus far in Madison. The Badgers still lead, 17-7. Whenever I check in, I keep hearing the broadcasters call the name of Wisconsin receiver Paul Hubbard. As an avid follower of Alabama politics, this never fails to result in split-second disorientation.

12:14 p.m. Not the best first quarter I've seen, but not the worse, either. At least Alabama isn't wholly unprepared for the game, as it was under past coaches who shall remain nameless.

12:09 p.m. A pooch punt! Yeah! That'll show us, Sly! Thanks.

12:04 p.m. Carroll isn't quite as rattled as he was half an hour ago. That probably has something to do with him being in the shadow of the red zone. The defense needs a stand here.

11:53 a.m. A 51-yard field goal? Where has this Leigh Tiffin been? I'm hating the lack of touchdowns, but I'm loving the dead-center perfect for a change. Alabama, 6-0.

11:42 a.m. Mississippi State's offense looks scared and confused thus far, too. Alabama promptly broke Wesley Carroll's string of passes without an interception, but a couple of dropped and errant passes meant the Tide only turned it into a field goal. Alabama, 3-0. Time to keep the momentum going.

11:30 a.m. I don't start these things sooner than kickoff of the Alabama game whenever the Crimson Tide starts playing before noon, and things are no different today. Except on television, that is. Lincoln Financial has a split telecast today, and where there should be three Daves, I only see one. They've separated DAVE, ladies and gentlemen. Who's going to fill the time between the Daughtry promos now? I'm so scared and confused.

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