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College Football 2012 – Week Four Recap

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What did we learn in Week Four? National title hopes are alive and well for Florida State and Oregon. Oklahoma’s are on life support. Notre Dame’s defense is really good. LSU can win with defense. And Alabama continues to roll.

Here are all the highlights from this week in college football.

#1 Alabama 40, Florida Atlantic 7

Alabama’s shutout streak came to an end at 12 quarters but, other than that, there’s not much about which the Crimson Tide defense can complain. The Owls managed just 110 total yards and did not get on the board until there were less than two minutes left in the game and the Alabama defensive starters were long since done for the day. Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

#2 LSU 12, Auburn 10

On a night in which the LSU offense struggled, the defense showed that they were still good enough to get the win, forcing three turnovers, recording a safety and holding Auburn to just 183 total yards. Auburn took a 10-9 lead late in the second quarter, but managed just 29 plays for 83 yards and two turnovers on their final seven possessions. While this wasn’t a highlight-reel night for the LSU offense, running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford did combine for 131 yards and a touchdown on 24 total carries in the game. This is the first time in Auburn school history they have lost three games before the end of September.

#3 Oregon 49, #22 Arizona 0

The expected shoot-out never materialized as Oregon’s defense turned in a surprisingly dominant performance to blank the Wildcats. The Ducks forced five turnovers, returned two interceptions for scores and held Arizona quarterback Matt Scott, who came into the game averaging 395 yards in total offense per game, to just 219 yards with three interceptions. The Wildcats, who averaged over 46 points per game coming in, made it into the Oregon red zone six times, but were turned away each time. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota led a balanced offensive attack with 260 passing yards and two touchdowns.

#4 Florida State 49, #10 Clemson 37

Behind a career night from quarterback E.J. Manuel, the Seminoles rallied for 35 second half points to come back against the Tigers. Manuel threw for a career-high 380 yards and two touchdowns and added another 102 yards on the ground in the win. The Seminoles’ defense also got in on the action, holding the ACC’s leading rusher, Andre Ellington, to just 55 yards on the ground (although he did also score on a 52-yard trick play pass from receiver Sammy Watkins). Clemson led 28-14 four minutes into the third quarter before the Seminoles outscored them 28-3 over the next 17 minutes. Florida State rolled up 667 yards of total offense in the win that secured its lead in the ACC Atlantic Division and kept the Seminoles’ national title hopes alive.

#5 Georgia 48, Vanderbilt 3

Georgia jumped out to a 27-0 lead in the second quarter and coasted to an easy victory to get their second conference win of the season. The Bulldogs’ two freshman running backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, combined for 212 yards and four touchdowns on the ground while quarterback Aaron Murray added another 250 yards and two scores. Vanderbilt has not beaten a ranked SEC opponent since 2008.

#15 Kansas State 24, #6 Oklahoma 19

A year ago, the Sooners blew out Kansas State, 58-17. But Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein made sure this seasonwould be different. He didn’t have a huge statistical night, throwing for 149 yards and rushing for 79 more and a touchdown. But he made several key plays on third downs to keep drives alive late in the game. OU took a 13-10 lead into the fourth quarter, only to see the Wildcats score on back-to-back drives in the next eight minutes to secure the win. Sooners quarterback Landry Jones threw for 298 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the loss. But the key stat was turnovers—Oklahoma turned the ball over three times, leading to 10 Wildcat points. This was Kansas State’s first win in Norman since 1997 and the first time ever that a ranked team has beaten a Bob Stoops-coached team at home.

#7 South Carolina 31, Missouri 10

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw put any concerns about his injured throwing shoulder to rest, going 20/21 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back Marcus Lattimore became the Gamecocks’ all-time rushing touchdown leader, scoring his 32nd and 33rd career touchdowns on 21 carries for 85 yards. Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury, started for the Tigers but was largely ineffective, being sacked three times and just throwing for 92 yards in the loss. Playing without suspended safety D.J. Swearinger, the Gamecocks defense held Mizzou to just 151 yards and three points through the first three quarters.

#8 West Virginia 31, Maryland 21

Tavon Austin hauled in a school-record 13 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns as West Virginia survived a surprisingly tough upset bid from the Terrapins. Austin also became the Mountaineers’ all-time receptions leader with 208 for his career. Maryland came into this game ranked 122nd in total offense. In this one, however, the Terps rolled up 351 yards of total offense (just 12 less than West Virginia), but turned the ball over three times (two in Mountaineers territory) and missed a field goal in the loss.

#9 Stanford BYE

After upsetting then-#2 USC, the Cardinal got the week off to prepare for a Thursday night matchup at Washington.

#11 Notre Dame 13, #18 Michigan 6

Already off to its best start since 1988, the Notre Dame defense continued its early-season dominance to snap a three-game losing streak to the Wolverines. The Fighting Irish forced six turnovers, including four interceptions of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, and held their second-straight opponent without a touchdown. After accounting for 948 yards and eight touchdowns in two previous meetings against the Irish, Robinson was held to just 228 yards and no scores in this one. Michigan outgained Notre Dame 299-239, but simply couldn’t overcome a stretch of six consecutive possessions that ended in a turnover. Twice, Michigan had the ball inside the Irish 10-yard line but came away without points.

#12 Texas BYE

The Longhorns had the week off to get ready for the roughest stretch of their season, with a three-game swing at Oklahoma State, vs. #8 West Virginia and vs. #6 Oklahoma.

#13 Southern Cal 27, California 9

After struggling to run the ball against Stanford last week, the Trojans pounded the ball this weekend with two rushers going over 100 yards. Penn State transfer Silas Redd rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown while Curtis McNeal added another 115 yards on the ground. This was the first time since 2008 that USC had two 100+ yard rushers in the same game. USC’s defense held the Bears to just 250 total yards (77 rushing) and only 3-of-14 on third down conversions.

#14 Florida 38, Kentucky 0

Florida had no trouble recording its 26th straight win over Kentucky, shutting out the Wildcats and holding UK backup quarterback Morgan Newton (playing for the injured Maxwell Smith) to just 7/21 for 60 yards and three interceptions. Florida’s offense struggled early before erupting for 21 points in the second quarter. This was Florida’s first shutout in conference play since 2001.

#16 Ohio State29, Alabama-Birmingham 15

Alabama-Birmingham actually outgained the Buckeyes 403-347 and scored on a blocked punt return in the first quarter, but committed nine penalties for 99 yards and turned the ball over twice to sink their upset bid. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller had a slow day by his standards, but still managed to throw for 143 yards and add 64 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Blazers came into the game ranked 122nd nationally in scoring, but held Ohio State to just seven points through the game’s first 28 minutes.

#17 Texas Christian 27, Virginia 7

TCU quarterback Casey Paschall’s hot start to the season continued as the junior threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Virginia’s offense racked up 353 total yards, but turned the ball over four times—including an interception and a fumble recovery by linebacker Kenny Cain—that led to 10 Horned Frog points. TCU has the nation’s longest winning streak, currently at 11 games.

Oregon State 27, #19 UCLA 20

Oregon State has only played two games, but upset ranked teams both times. Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 379 yards and two scores and the Beavers’ offense racked up 501 total yards. But the big story was the Oregon State defense, which held UCLA to just 444 total yards. Bruins came into the game ranked second nationally in total offense, averaging 622 yards per game. Most notably, the Beavers held UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin—who came into the game as the nation’s leading rusher—to just 45 yards on the ground.

#20 Louisville 28, Florida International 21

Florida International put a scare in the Cardinals, taking a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter, before the Louisville offense responded with 21 unanswered points. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater didn’t have his greatest game (19/36 for 194 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions; he also rushed for a touchdown) but made the plays when he needed to in leading the Cardinals on three touchdown drives of 70 or more yards.

#21 Michigan State 23, Eastern Michigan 7

Le’Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 253 yards and a touchdown as the Spartans rallied late in the game to survive the upset-minded Eagles. Eastern Michigan actually led the game until there were less than two minutes left in the third quarter. But two fourth quarter touchdowns provided the final margin of victory for the Spartans. This is the fourth straight opponent that the Michigan State defense has held to less than 300 yards.

#23 Mississippi State 30, South Alabama 10

After a slow start, the Bulldogs exploded for 20 unanswered points in the second quarter to provide all the points they would need. The offensive statistics for both teams were actually fairly even, but the Jaguars missed a field goal and turned the ball over three times in Bulldogs territory to end any chance they had of pulling off an upset.

#24 Boise State 7, Brigham Young 6

While Boise State has been known for its offensive fireworks in recent years, this game was all about defense. The Broncos got their touchdown on a 36-yard interception return for a score in the third quarter and then turned away an attempted two-point conversion by BYU in the game’s waning moments. The Cougars were held to just 200 total yards and 2-of-12 on third down conversions. They also turned the ball over five times. This was the first time since 2005 that Boise State was held scoreless in the first half.

#25 Nebraska 73, Idaho State 7

Nebraska erupted for 35 points in the game’s first 13 minutes to put this one away early. Returning from a knee injury that sidelined him the last 2 ½ games, running back Rex Burkhead rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns—including a career-long 61-yarder—on just eight carries.  The Nebraska defense held their overmatched opponents to just 210 total yards (only 72 of which came against Nebraska’s starters), forced three turnovers, returned an interception for a touchdown and sacked Idaho State’s quarterbacks a season-high seven times. The Huskers also got an 81-yard punt return touchdown from Ameer Abdullah, giving Nebraska its first game in three years in which the Cornhuskers scored on offense, defense and special teams.

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