Originally Published: November 4, 2012

Saturday lives up to the hype

By Ivan Maisel
ESPN.com

In a sport that lures us with competition, tradition and tension, there is nothing so delicious as a Saturday that lives up to its hype. The games didn't solve any BCS dilemmas and avoided a big one (one-loss, top-three LSU, anyone?). All they did was validate why we circled Nov. 3 on our college football calendar so many months ago.

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Kirby Lee/US PresswireUSC had no answers for Oregon and Kenjon Barner, who rushed for 321 yards and five TDs.

A viewer with a quick thumb could have seen Everett Golson score No. 3 Notre Dame's winning touchdown in the third overtime against Pitt, followed by Kenjon Barner's 27-yard touchdown run to put No. 4 Oregon ahead of No. 17 USC 21-3, and then (after a commercial and a kickoff) Marqise Lee's 75-yard touchdown reception from Matt Barkley to keep the Trojans in the game.

Three plays, three touchdowns.

And that was all a few minutes before the Crimson Tide and the Tigers ran onto the field at Death Valley.

No. 1 Alabama's last-minute comeback at No. 5 LSU capped off a week in which the four unbeaten teams atop the BCS stayed that way, each in a manner characteristic of what signed them to their current lease atop the sport.

No. 2 Kansas State won with MBA efficiency, standing aside while No. 24 Oklahoma State committed five turnovers in a 44-30 decision. No. 3 Notre Dame peeled another layer of epidermis off its molars Saturday, overcoming a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to edge Pittsburgh in the third overtime, 29-26.

No. 4 Oregon came out of the locker room throwing knockout punches. It is a credit to No. 17 USC that the Trojans forced the Ducks to continue throwing on them in the fourth quarter. But the Ducks set nearly as many offensive records as they scored touchdowns, which is saying something in a 62-51 victory.

And Alabama won with a champion's guts. The Tide's 21-17 comeback, fueled by a five-play, 72-yard, no-timeout drive that ended in the Tigers' end zone with 51 seconds to play, will be remembered as long as there is shrimp in gumbo.

Alabama fans will recall the resolve their team showed after a second half filled with mistakes. LSU fans will stew over the missed opportunities -- two missed field goals and an ill-advised fake. Tigers coach Les Miles, as ever straddling the line separating genius and meathead, must live with the fact that the Tigers outplayed the Tide everywhere but the scoreboard.

Alabama remains No. 1, the Southeastern Conference remains in position for its seventh consecutive BCS title, and Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon continue to battle for No. 2. Who knew that changing nothing could be so exhilarating?

Growing pains continue for Pitt in loss to Irish

By Matt Fortuna
ESPN.com

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame fans can look back on Saturday's 29-26 triple-overtime win over Pittsburgh as an improbable victory amid an improbable season.

On the other side, it was an opportunity lost.

Pitt led 20-6 in the fourth quarter. The Panthers picked off Everett Golson in the end zone with less than four minutes remaining, an eight-point lead and a historic upset seemingly in hand.

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Mike DiNovo/US PresswireLate-game heroics helped Everett Golson and the Irish hold off Pitt.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst said he didn't want to do what his team did, which is go three-and-out, leaving the Irish with enough time to score and convert a two-point conversion, forcing overtime.

Overtime came, and then another one followed, this one looking like it would turn on Cierre Wood's goal-line fumble, Pitt's third takeaway of the day.

Instead, Kevin Harper missed a 33-yard field goal attempt after a high snap, and Notre Dame handed Pitt loss No. 5 in the third overtime period.

These are the growing pains of a program under a first-year coach, pains Pitt players know all too well after a three-year coaching carousel.

They can look across the field, to a program finally breaking through in Year 3 of a new era, and maybe learn a little bit about what it takes to close the gap and finish.

"When our players go back and play it on the plane ride home in their mind, when they see the film, they'll see some things," Chryst said. "I think it doesn't matter whether you won or lost, what you learn and take forward and what you internalize, then you've got a chance for it to be a negative or a positive. It's what you take with that information.

"So I felt good about it. I thought those guys in our locker room played for each other and put themselves out there. So I think every game you can learn something from and help you go forward."

Former LB Petty leads Terps at QB

By Heather Dinich
ESPN.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- As Maryland's players ran out of the tunnel and onto the field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday to face Georgia Tech, three quarterbacks on crutches watched from their seats in the academic center, which overlooks the field.

This would certainly be a lesson in history.

The Terps' fifth-string quarterback -- a former scout team linebacker who practiced at quarterback just seven times this season -- was leading the pack as they sprinted across the field and toward the student section.

True freshman Shawn Petty, just one year removed from nearby Eleanor Roosevelt High School, became the third different quarterback to start a game this year after season-ending injuries to C.J. Brown, Perry Hills, Devin Burns, and most recently, Caleb Rowe. It was the first time since 1973 that Maryland had used three different starting quarterbacks in a season.

"I've never had it happen before," coach Randy Edsall said, "and I hope I never have it happen again."

Not surprisingly, Maryland lost, 33-13.

Surprisingly, it was because of the defense.

Petty, who did a respectable job managing the offense, running the zone-read plays and simply avoiding disaster in his first college game at any position, completed 9 of 18 passes for 115 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

To read the rest of Heather Dinich's story, click here.

Potential worries for contenders

By Travis Haney
ESPN Insider

I'm still trying to figure out how Alabama (21-17 over LSU) and Notre Dame (29-26 in triple overtime over Pittsburgh) each won to stay undefeated.

It made me think of Tennessee and its national championship season in 1998, a year littered with land mines. The Vols needed a field goal to beat Donovan McNabb and Syracuse in the opener; they needed Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner to lay the ball on the turf in the final minutes; and they needed a lot of help during conference championship weekend to even make the title game.

Every championship team needs some sort of magic to survive scares; it's part of the recipe when long and physical seasons are taken into account. The Tide and Irish each had a fright on Saturday, without question, and both found ways to win and remain among the four teams with the best shots to win a title.

But were the hiccups one-game aberrations? Or were they evidence of future danger?

In Notre Dame's case, the answer is obvious. It's a week-to-week adventure with those guys. Who knows which team will emerge? A week ago, I wrote about Everett Golson's coming of age at Oklahoma; Saturday, he played half the game and looked shaky against an average Big East opponent. The defense we'd lauded all year was shredded pretty thoroughly by Ray Graham, though Graham has looked healthier in recent weeks in his return from knee surgery.

The good news is the Irish now enter the ACC portion of their schedule. Boston College and Wake Forest make Pitt look like the '85 Bears. Then there's that all-important game against USC at the Coliseum.

To read the rest of Travis Haney's story, click here Insider.

Turnovers help Wildcats turn back Cowboys

By David Ubben
ESPN.com

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- There would be no Optimus Klein to save Kansas State if the defense faltered this time.

With Heisman front-runner Collin Klein in the lineup, Kansas State racked up 38 points in just more than 35 minutes in its 44-30 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday night.

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Scott Sewell/US PresswireAfter losing Collin Klein, Arthur Brown and Kansas State's defense had to step up.

With Klein on the sideline and his helmet nowhere in sight after suffering an apparent head injury, the K-State offense managed just six points over the game's final 25 minutes.

Oklahoma State threatened to turn a 21-point game into a seven-point game in the final minutes, as Cowboys backup QB Clint Chelf (starter Wes Lunt was dealing with an apparent head injury of his own) looked to the back of the end zone.

But K-State cornerback Allen Chapman wouldn't let it happen. The 50,781 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium breathed a sigh of relief after Chapman picked off Chelf to seal the Wildcats' ninth win in nine games in 2012.

"Collin's a great asset for our team. We just knew we had to continue to control the game on our side of the ball to maintain the victory," linebacker Arthur Brown said.

Kansas State did just that. The defense had coach Bill Snyder a little grumpy after giving up more than 400 yards passing, a 41-yard kick return that could have gone for a score and another 80-yard return on a pooch kick that did.

His frank assessment of the game?

"Not very good," he said.

The Wildcats were outgained in total yards 504-481, but that defense -- and Chapman, especially -- were the reason Saturday's win was a win. Klein's absence is a lot easier to stomach when you win the turnover battle 5-0, as K-State did on Saturday, highlighted by Chapman's three interceptions.

The final one sealed the win and he returned his first 29 yards for a touchdown late in the first half to give K-State a 31-17 lead at the break.

"He made some tremendous plays. I was proud of the way he played," Snyder said. "The turnovers were major in the ballgame. It was quite obvious, and they came at appropriate times."

That's the way it's been all season for Kansas State, which has forced 24 turnovers and turned the ball over just four times.

To read the rest of David Ubben's story, click here .

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