Dark cloud hangs over Sunshine State
The odds against it, some might say, were astronomical.
But just three days after a lunar eclipse, college football gave us a total eclipse of the Sunshine State, as Miami, Florida State and Florida all lost on the same day for the first time since Oct. 14, 1978. It might not stack up against "first World Series title since 1918" for top story of the week in sports, but it's still a fairly significant event.
The Hurricanes lost to the team with the nation's second-worst defense, the Seminoles lost to a team that had scored a grand total of 17 points over its previous three games, and the Gators lost to a team they had beaten 13 of the last 14 years. Sometimes the unexpected happens in college football, and nobody was expecting these teams to go down together. Not on this day, anyway.
The most unlikely giant killer was North Carolina, which was a three-touchdown underdog against Miami and had never previously beaten a top-5 team in its history (0-37-1). This marks the second straight season the Hurricanes have fallen in such a situation. Virginia Tech had never beaten a top-5 team before knocking off Miami last year.
Florida's loss to Georgia had nothing to do with it, but the SEC Championship Game matchup was all but officially determined on Saturday. Auburn clinched the SEC West title with its win at Ole Miss, and Tennessee is now what would seem to be two simple steps from winning the East division. After beating South Carolina, the Vols' only remaining conference games are against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Not only are those the bottom two teams in the division standings, but they are also two teams that coach Phillip Fulmer has never lost to (11-0 against each). All that's really left to be decided is whether Auburn or Tennessee will be playing for a shot at the national title in addition to the SEC title when they meet again in Atlanta on Dec. 4.
The other side of the coin is a Big 12 Championship Game that should be less than exciting. Following road wins by Texas against Colorado and by Texas Tech against Kansas State on Saturday, the Big 12 South is now 13-3 this season against the Big 12 North, and all three losses have been by Baylor. The only remaining interdivisional matchups this season are Texas at Kansas, Oklahoma against Nebraska and the Big 12 Championship Game, so it looks like the Big 5 teams in the South will sweep the North this season.
The Sooners and Huskers control their own destinies to reach Kansas City, but there are still some interesting possibilities. The most intriguing involves Iowa State, which had lost 13 straight conference games before beating Baylor two weeks ago. The Cyclones followed that up with a victory over Kansas on Saturday, and they can now conceivably take the Big 12 North title by just winning their two remaining home games against Nebraska and Missouri. The only help they would need is for Oklahoma to also beat Nebraska and for Kansas State to lose at Missouri or at Colorado. If those things happen, Iowa State could still lose its game at KSU and win the North tiebreakers with a record of 4-4 in conference and 6-5 overall. Someone grab Toto! These Cyclones are building momentum.
College GameDay Final's Trev Alberts, Mark May and Rece Davis weigh in with their biggest impressions from Saturday's action.
The way Miami and Florida State played was embarrassing and inexcusable. I know both teams have injuries to key players, but they still have a lot more talent than the teams they lost to. It wasn't the first time this season that they took the field without much urgency or emotion, and it finally caught up with them. Some people will blame the coaches, but I think the players should also be accountable. Teams with good leaders don't show up flat for a conference road game.
Adrian Peterson is no longer just a Heisman candidate. He is, at the very least, a Heisman finalist and should be the Heisman frontrunner. He has made more of an impact than any player on any of the top teams, and Oklahoma would not be in the national title hunt right now without him. He has been outstanding every week this season, and his best performances have been in his team's biggest games. Whether you're a senior or a freshman, that's how you win the Heisman.
It's incredible how much one sleepwalking episode can damage an entire season. Miami was a real contender for the national championship before stumbling at North Carolina, and Texas A&M had as much momentum as anyone in the Big 12 South before losing to Baylor. Neither team's goals are totally out of reach now, but they have taken severe hits just for showing up one week not ready to play. It simply proves that even the better teams in the country can't afford to take anyone lightly.
Peterson might be the biggest name among freshman running backs, but he's not the only one putting up big numbers. Since Week 3, Jamario Thomas of North Texas has been filling in for Patrick Cobbs, who was injured early this season after leading the nation in rushing a year ago. Thomas has picked up where Cobbs left off and now leads the nation in rushing himself with 174 yards per game. He ran for 218 against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday and joined Herschel Walker and Ron Dayne as the only freshmen to have four 200-yard rushing games in a season. That performance also put him in the aforementioned group with Peterson, Faulk and Smith, but Thomas surpassed all of them and now has more rushing yardage (1,215) through his first seven games than any player in major-college history.
After getting a grand total of eight carries in Michigan's first two games, Michael Hart has become the workhorse for the Wolverines and has rushed for more than 200 yards in each of the past three games. The fact that he is the first freshman to rush for 1,000 yards at UM is merely back-page news. More significantly, he is the first Michigan player -- freshman, sophomore, junior or senior -- to have three 200-yard rushing games in the same season. Only one other Wolverine (Ron Johnson, '66-68) has ever had three in a career.
Hart had 224 yards against Michigan State on Saturday, which was barely enough to make him the leading rusher in the game. The Spartans' DeAndra Cobb, who is not a freshman, gained 205 on the ground, marking the seventh time in Division I-A history (and second time this season) that opposing players each gained 200 or more rushing yards. On Oct. 16, Army's Carlton Jones had 225 yards against South Florida, while Andre Hall had 200 yards for the Bulls.
Third time's a charm
Tulsa's Ashlan Davis also made NCAA history on Saturday, returning a kickoff 83 yards for a TD against Rice. It was his third straight game with a kickoff return for touchdown, a feat previously accomplished only by Purdue's Stan Brown in 1970. Only six other players have even had three kickoff return TD in an entire season.
USC wins a national title, and suddenly it's cool to play defense in the Pac-10. For the second straight weekend, there were two shutouts in conference play. On Oct. 23, USC blanked Washington, while Cal held Arizona scoreless. The Bears did it again on Saturday, blanking Arizona State, and even UCLA got into the mix with a 21-0 win over Stanford. Cal is the first Pac-10 team to post a pair of conference shutouts in a season since USC in 1982 and the first with consecutive conference shutouts since USC had three in a row in 1965.
The wrong record
And now, a completely different kind of accomplishment. Hawaii QB Timmy Chang entered Friday needing 241 yards against the nation's 103rd-ranked pass defense to become the NCAA's all-time passing leader. At the end of the night, he left Bronco Stadium with nothing to celebrate. His team couldn't even muster a touchdown in a 69-3 loss to Boise State, and unfortunately for Chang, he did go back to the islands as the new owner of a Division I-A record. When he was intercepted in the 4th quarter -- the fourth time he was picked in the game and the 74th time in his career -- Chang unintentionally became the player with the most interceptions thrown in a major-college career, surpassing Purdue's Mark Herrmann (1977-80). The good news for Chang is that he is now only 14 yards shy of Detmer and will be able to break the record at home Saturday against Louisiana Tech.
Congratulations to Indiana! The much-maligned Hoosiers logged their second win over a ranked team this season by beating No. 23 Minnesota 30-21. Indiana held the powerful Gopher offense to 169 rushing yards and allowed only seven points in the final three quarters. It was the first win for IU since beating No. 24 Oregon on Sept. 11.
Braylon Edwards, Michigan -- 11 catches, 189 yards, 3 TD vs. Michigan State.
Matt Leinart, USC -- 23-of-28, 235 yards, 2 TD vs. Washington State.
Reggie Bush, USC -- 143 all-purpose yards, 2 TD vs. Washington State.
Josh Allen, Maryland -- 121 yards from scrimmage, TD vs. Florida State.
Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma -- 249 rushing yards, TD vs. Oklahoma State.
Barrett Ruud, Nebraska -- 17 tackles, 4 for loss vs. Missouri.
Spencer Havner, UCLA -- 16 tackles, INT in shutout of Stanford.
Chad Scott, North Carolina -- 175 rushing yards, 2 TD vs. Miami.
Brad Edwards is the research coordinator for College GameDay Final and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. College GameDay Final airs during the season at Midnight ET.