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By Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com
Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon's season has been over for nearly 72 hours, the result of his left knee sending him a message that went something like this: "Why do I have to repeat myself? I told you two weeks ago I was done."
John Miller/AP Photo
Dennis Dixon was quite possibly running to a Heisman Trophy.
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow? West Virginia quarterback Pat White? Put the names of all the top players who still are ambulatory into the hat. Now, reach in and pick out a name to write in for second place.
The first name on the ballot should be Dennis Dixon.
The fifth-year senior had an outstanding season, as have Tebow, White and YOUR CANDIDATE'S NAME HERE. We can have the discussion regarding how sick Tebow's statistics are next week, when his season is over.
Dixon not only had a great season, he led his team into contention for the national championship. To measure his value, take a look at how the Ducks played with him for nine-plus games and how they played without him for the final three quarters Thursday night. To measure his heart, take a look at how well he played with a torn ACL against Arizona.
Dixon didn't want it known that he had torn the ACL on Nov. 3 against Arizona State. When it didn't swell, he decided to try to keep playing. For three drives, he played as well, and with as much sizzle, as he had all season.
He will miss the Ducks' last two regular-season games, and he might drift out of voters' minds by the first week in December, when the ballots are due. I won't vote until after the championship games, because I don't have to.
Tebow and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel each have at least one more game. White has two. Maybe one of them will make a bigger impression on me than Dixon did. That will be hard to do.
By Heather Dinich, ESPN.com
ANN ARBOR, Mich., -- Ohio State's regular season has ended, but the waiting has just begun.
By beating Michigan on Saturday in The Big House for the Big Ten title, the No. 5 Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1) hung onto their hopes of playing for the national title.
Now, it's up to everyone else to lose -- which, considering how the rest of the season has gone, is quite possible. (See Exhibit No. 2: Oregon, USC, California, South Florida and Boston College).
Otherwise, the Buckeyes are headed to the Rose Bowl.
"We're going to Pasadena unless it shakes out the other way," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who improved his record against the Wolverines to 6-1 with the 14-3 win. "Right now, we're going to worry about Thanksgiving, final exams, and when we get done with both of those, we'll have a pretty good idea on Dec. 2 where we're going."
At the very least, Ohio State won't drop lower than No. 4 in the BCS standings. Here's why:
No. 2 Oregon lost to Arizona and lost Heisman-hopeful quarterback Dennis Dixon to an injury in the process. Kansas and Missouri will play Saturday, so lop out the loser of that matchup.
LSU still has to host Arkansas and then play in the SEC title game, and West Virginia still has UConn and Pitt on its schedule.
Ohio State plays in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997. The Buckeyes have been to Pasadena only once since 1985, but only because they had to bypass it twice in the past six years to play in the BCS National Championship Game.
The next few weeks will determine if they have that choice this year.
By Chris Low, ESPN.com
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Matt Ryan just has that aura about him. Unfortunately for Clemson, so do the Tigers.
Give Ryan a few minutes on the clock, a field to drive and the game on the line -- and there's nobody better in college football.
Rex Brown/Getty Images
Matt Ryan conjured up some last-minute magic for Boston College.
Click here to read the rest of this story.
By Tim Griffin, Special To ESPN.com
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Even after several recent struggling performances, Texas Tech cornerback Chris Parker never doubted his defensive teammates.The Red Raiders' defense bounced back from a horrendous performance the previous week at Texas to provide the impetus for Tech's wild 34-27 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday.
LM Otero/AP Photo
Texas Tech's defense improved vastly Saturday over the previous week's performance.
Tech did not allow OU to score an offensive touchdown in the first 52 minutes of the game, knocking out starting quarterback Sam Bradford with a concussion in the process. The Red Raiders allowed 112 yards in the first half against a unit that was averaging 45 points per game."There were huge contributions by our defense, huge contributions by special teams and huge contributions by the offense," coach Mike Leach said. "I think we won the game together. And I thought today that the Tech defense was the biggest factor of the game."
By Mark Schlabach, ESPN.comRENO, Nev. -- As Hawaii kicker Dan Kelly lined up to attempt a 45-yard field goal that would keep alive the Warriors' unbeaten season and BCS hopes, his thoughts turned to, well, a more happy place.
"Not to sound corny, but I was thinking about my girl back home," Kelly said. "I was just looking for more happy thoughts, and that's what got me through."
Cathleen Allison/AP Photo
Hawaii's win kept the Warriors alive for a BCS bid.
Actually, Kelly had to put two field goals through the uprights against Nevada at Mackay Stadium. With the Wolf Pack leading 26-25 with 15.8 seconds to go, Kelly's awkard line drive barely cleared the uprights to give Hawaii a 28-26 lead with 11.7 seconds to go.
But Nevada coach Chris Ault had called a timeout just before Kelly's foot hit the ball, so the Hawaii kicker had to do it all over again.
"I knew [Ault] was going to call timeout," Hawaii coach June Jones said. "When I saw Dan kick at Louisana Tech and had to make a 49-yard field goal [to force overtime], I knew he was a gamer. When he's under pressure, he seems to kick better."
Kelly's second game-winning attempt against Nevada was good, too. In fact, it might have cleared the uprights from 55 yards. Hawaii improved to 10-0 for the first time since 1925, matching the best start in school history.
The Warriors won without star quarterback Colt Brennan, who attempted only two passes in the game after suffering a concussion against Fresno State a week earlier.
"It's pressure situations, and they don't bother me," Kelly said. "As soon as the ball left my foot, I knew it was good and started celebrating with my teammates."
By Adam Rittenberg, Special To ESPN.com
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Two tower cranes flanked the west edge of Memorial Stadium, each dangling a flag: stars and stripes on one, orange and blue on the other.Below the macro machines, the west balcony had been stripped of seats and spectators. Steel slabs were scattered about, and concrete partitions rose from the rear of the remodeled deck.
Illinois' $116 million facelift of its 84-year-old stadium remains a work in progress, but the rebuilding process on the field is complete.
The Fighting Illini are a finished product, as they proved again Saturday, cruising to a 41-22 win against overmatched Northwestern. A week after making a statement to the nation with a road upset of top-ranked Ohio State, the conquering heroes gave their fans one final blowout bash in 2007.
Illinois' next game will come in 2008, but unlike in the past five seasons, the wait will last only until January. As representatives from the Capital One Bowl and the Outback Bowl grinned on the sideline, the Illini likely secured at least a New Year's Day berth with their ninth win.
"These guys are going to have to learn that New Year's Eve, they don't get to go out," third-year coach Ron Zook said. "But that's a good thing."Illinois students began chanting, "BCS! BCS!" with 2:43 left and pleaded, "One more year!" as Rashard Mendenhall (27 carries, 124 yards, two touchdowns), a junior, trotted off the field. Realizing both their appeals are unlikely to be granted, the students screamed, "Juuuuuuuuuice!" as the future of the team, quarterback Juice Williams, waved to them.
The loudest cheer was reserved for senior linebacker Jeremy Leman, who celebrated only eight wins in his first four seasons.
"The stuff we've been through has been very tough," Leman said. "Walking off that field 9-3 was all worth it."
By Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.com
Is Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree worthy of making a trip to New York next month? Have you seen the way this freshman has torn apart the Big 12, including 12 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in a win over Oklahoma on Saturday? With a bowl game still remaining, Crabtree has racked up a hard-to-believe 125 catches, which already is 20 more than the highest total of any receiver in college football over the past five years. He also has 1,861 receiving yards, which easily is the most of any of the thousands of players who have played I-A football this decade. His 21 receiving touchdowns? Let's just say he broke the all-time NCAA freshman record six weeks ago and is just one shy of Larry Fitzgerald's decade-high for any class (22).
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.com
So, whatever happened to that mighty LSU defense? It's still a talented and intimidating group to line up against, no doubt. But mighty? Not lately. The Bayou Bengals' D -- the one that once was as immovable as the hat on Les Miles' head -- has given up at least 24 points in five straight SEC games. In the first five games of the season, the Tigers allowed just 6.4 points per game and one passing touchdown. Over the past six? Try 26.5 points per game and 12 passing touchdowns.
On Saturday in Oxford, Ole Miss, the lowest-scoring team in the conference, carved up LSU for a rather stunning 466 yards. It was the second-highest total of the year for the Rebels and 79 more than they gained in their previous game, which also was against a Louisiana team: I-AA Northwestern State. And it was more than double the amount Ole Miss totaled (232 yards) against the other Louisiana team on its schedule: Louisiana Tech.
By Brett Edgerton, ESPN.com
People finally have started to figure out what a fine player Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel is. Wonder when they will catch on to freshman teammate Jeremy Maclin? On Saturday, by setting a single-game school record with 360 all-purpose yards in a 49-32 win at Kansas State, Maclin upped his season total to 2,309 yards, breaking the all-time freshman record for all-purpose yards in a season.
|Kickoff Returns For TDs|
Among those 360 yards Saturday were 143 receiving yards on nine catches for a pair of touchdowns. He also reached the end zone on a 99-yard kickoff return. Believe it or not, that marked the first time in 25 years a Mizzou player returned a kickoff for six points. Since Ricky Doby ran one in on a reverse against Oklahoma State in 1982, the Tigers had played 287 games and returned 976 kickoffs without a kickoff-return touchdown.
Clearly, Missouri is late to the game when it comes to an undeniable trend in college football. Since kickoffs were moved from the 35- to the 30-yard line this year, the number of returns has skyrocketed, accelerating a touchdown trend that already was moving its way upward. Through 12 weeks, there already have been 1,100 or so more kickoff returns and 21 more touchdowns than there were in the entire 2006 season, including bowl games.