October 2, 2010

Winners and losers: LSU handed gift victory

LSU tried to give a game away Saturday.

Tennessee refused to take it.

In one of the most bizarre finishes in college football history, LSU escaped with a 16-14 victory over Tennessee only after both teams spent the closing seconds doing just about everything possible to lose.

"I don't know that we can play any sloppier," LSU coach Les Miles told reporters after his team somehow remained unbeaten. "I don't know if we could have planned it any poorer. I think we are a very talented team. I don't think we played near to our capacities.''

LSU trailed 14-10 but drove to Tennessee's 2 in the final minute. The Tigers, with no timeouts left, appeared on the verge of completing a stirring comeback.

That's when chaos broke out.

LSU replaced quarterback Jarrett Lee with the more mobile Jordan Jefferson, who ran a keeper and was stopped a yard shy of the end zone. LSU then allowed 20 seconds to tick off the clock before Jefferson fumbled a shotgun snap on what seemed like the game's final play.

After Jefferson dove on the ball at Tennessee's 19 with no time remaining, Tennessee celebrated its apparent upset, with players running onto the field and boos cascading out of the stands.

Not so fast.

Tennessee's attempt to make last-second substitutions before that errant snap backfired in a big way when the Volunteers ended up with 13 men on the field. The penalty gave LSU one more shot from the 1, and Stevan Ridley ran into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

"They changed personnel and ran a bunch of guys on the field," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley told reporters. "The rules are [the officials] should stand over the ball and give us a chance to substitute. I am going to have to look at the film and see if that was the case. It was a lot of chaos. Things happened fast and guys didn't run off the field. The ball was snapped pretty quickly, and so we lose the game. I don't know what else to say."

LSU made just about every mistake imaginable - and even a few that weren't imaginable - in the final minute and still won the game.

"I like the outcome," Miles said. "I don't like the way we got there."

Here's a look at other winners and losers from the fifth week of the college football season.


Michigan QB Denard Robinson: The nation's most electrifying player threw for 277 yards, ran for 217 yards and accounted for five touchdowns in a 42-35 victory over Indiana that left no doubt as to the identity of the Heisman front-runner. Robinson threw a 42-yard completion to Junior Hemingway that set up his own 4-yard keeper for the winning touchdown with 17 seconds left. The victory sets up a matchup of 5-0 teams next week when the Wolverines play Michigan State.

Virginia Tech's moxie: One month after they erased a 17-0 deficit in a 33-30 loss to Boise State, the Hokies dug out of an early 17-point hole again. Only this time, they closed the deal. Tyrod Taylor threw three touchdown passes - including the 39-yard game-winner to Jarrett Boykin with 1:27 remaining - and also rushed for 121 yards in a 41-30 victory at North Carolina State.

Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray: In Oklahoma's past two games with Texas, Murray had rushed for a combined 3 yards on 12 carries. He wasted no time Saturday ending his recent history of frustration in the "Red River Rivalry." Murray rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in the Sooners' 28-20 victory.

Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell: His gutsy fourth-and-goal call helped the Spartans overcome the absence of coach Mark Dantonio, who sat out the game after developing a blood clot in his leg. Michigan State led Wisconsin 27-24 and faced fourth down from the 1 when Treadwell decided not to settle for a field goal. The gamble paid off when Kirk Cousins found B.J. Cunningham in the end zone for a game-clinching touchdown with 2:43 left in the Spartans' 34-24 upset.

Miami WR Leonard Hankerson: He caught seven passes for a career-high 147 yards and scored three touchdowns in Miami's 30-21 victory at Clemson. Hankerson has caught six touchdown passes through the first four games of the season.

Baylor QB Robert Griffin: He threw for 380 yards and ran for 65 more yards in a 55-7 shellacking of Kansas. Griffin's 444 total yards set a school single-game record. Baylor also set a school record with 678 yards of total offense.

Florida State's pass rush: The Seminoles recorded 25 sacks last season. They've delivered 20 sacks in their past three games, including six more Saturday in a 34-14 rout of Virginia.

Temple RB Matt Brown: With an ankle injury sidelining star running back Bernard Pierce, Brown picked up the slack by rushing for 226 yards and four touchdowns in Temple's 42-35 victory over Army.

Connecticut RB Jordan Todman: There may not be a more underrated running back in the nation. After an arm injury prevented him from playing last week against Buffalo, Todman returned to action and carried the ball 37 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-21 triumph over Vanderbilt. Todman has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the four games he has played this season.

UCLA's rushing attack: Instead of panicking and throwing the ball all over the field after falling behind Washington State in the second half, UCLA came back by relying on its suddenly potent ground attack. Johnathan Franklin gained 216 yards and Derrick Coleman ran for 165 yards to lead a 437-yard rushing attack as the Bruins rallied for a 42-28 victory.

Alabama: Is there any doubt that this is the best team in the nation right now? Alabama turned its SEC showdown with Florida into a beatdown. The Crimson Tide scored the game's first 24 points and forced four turnovers in a 31-6 victory over the Gators.

Washington QB Jake Locker: The potential first-round pick has received some criticism for his lack of signature wins, but he helped Washington earn its second consecutive victory over USC. Locker's 18-yard pass to D'Andre Goodwin on a fourth-and-11 play from Washington's 23 led to Erik Folk's 32-yard field goal on the final play of the Huskies' 32-31 triumph.


Texas: The Longhorns headed into Saturday's game ranked 16th in the coaches' poll and 21st in The Associated Press poll. Their loss to Oklahoma likely will knock them out of the AP poll for the first time since the 2000 season. Texas has been ranked in the AP poll an NCAA-leading 162 consecutive weeks.

Fourth-down decisions: Illinois coach Ron Zook and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney made fourth-down moves that didn't pay off in their losses. Illinois trailed Ohio State 17-10 and faced fourth-and-7 from the Buckeyes' 20 with 4:36 remaining. Zook settled for a 37-yard field goal, even though it left the Illini still needing a touchdown to pull the upset. By the time the Illini got the ball back, Ohio State had scored a game-clinching touchdown. Clemson trailed Miami 27-21 and faced fourth-and-1 from Miami's 20 with 8:20 remaining when Swinney bypassed the field goal and watched running back Andre Ellington get stopped short of the first-down marker. Miami drove for a field goal that gave the Hurricanes a 30-21 advantage with 2:43 left, but Clemson would have still been a touchdown away from taking the lead if it had settled for a kick in that fourth-and-short situation.

Illinois' execution down the stretch: After kicking a field goal to cut Ohio State's lead to 17-13 with 4:36 remaining, Illinois needed to force a three-and-out to get the ball back. The Illini instead committed a personal foul on the ensuing kickoff return, jumped offside on a third-and-1 play and were called for a face mask later on the Buckeyes' game-clinching touchdown drive.

Kansas: Baylor had never won a Big 12 game by more than 28 points before this week. The Bears crushed Kansas by 48 points on Saturday. It wasn't exactly the ideal Big 12 coaching debut for Turner Gill. "It was an embarrassing game," Kansas strong safety Olaitan Oguntodu told reporters afterward. "It was just embarrassing all the way around."

Michigan defense: As good as Robinson is, Michigan won't contend for the Big Ten title unless its defense drastically improves. Michigan allowed Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell to go 45-of-64 for 480 yards Saturday to set school records in all three categories. The Wolverines also allowed a game-tying 19-yard touchdown completion on a fourth-and-5 situation with 1:15 remaining.

BYU: This figured to be a year of transition for BYU as the Cougars attempted to replace star quarterback Max Hall, running back Harvey Unga and tight end Dennis Pitta. An injury to season-opening starting quarterback Riley Nelson made the situation even tougher. But who expected this? BYU fell to Utah State on Friday night and dropped to 1-4 for the first time since 1973. The Cougars apparently have entered panic mode: Defensive coordinator Jaime Hill resigned under pressure Saturday.

Georgia coach Mark Richt's job security: We've always thought Richt's exceptional track record would allow him to keep his job no matter how the Bulldogs fared in 2010, but each loss makes us wonder if Georgia will seek a fresh start. Not even the return of star WR A.J. Green could keep Georgia from falling 29-27 at Colorado for its fourth consecutive loss. The latest loss came after Caleb King fumbled the ball away in field-goal range with less than three minutes remaining.

Wake Forest's luck: Injuries to Tanner Price, Ted Stachitas and Brendan Cross forced Wake Forest to use fourth-string quarterback Skylar Jones for much of its game with Georgia Tech. The Demon Deacons still led for most of the night before Joshua Nesbitt's 9-yard touchdown pass to Correy Earls with 15 seconds left gave the Yellow Jackets a 24-20 victory.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.


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