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 "Nation's Top 2 Teams - Oregon And Auburn - Both Come..." 
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Post "Nation's Top 2 Teams - Oregon And Auburn - Both Come..."
Nation's Top 2 Teams - Oregon And Auburn - Both Come From Behind To Win And Stay Unbeaten
by: Ed Bagley

The nation's top two unbeaten teams - No. 1 Oregon (11-0) and No. 2 Auburn (12-0) - registered stirring come from behind victories this week over 20th-ranked Arizona and 9th-ranked Alabama to stay on track for their probable match-up in the BCS National Championship Game.

Only two events this coming week could upset the apple cart, an Oregon loss to Oregon State in the Ducks final game, or an Auburn loss to South Carolina in the SEC championship game.

Oregon was down 19-14 at halftime but showed why it is a second-half team, scoring 34 points to Arizona's 10, and going on to win 48-29. Duck QB Darron Thomas threw 3 touchdown passes and ran 20 yards for another, and LaMichael James - the nation's leading rusher - gained 126 yards on 28 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and scored two more touchdowns.

James' now has 19 rushing touchdowns, breaking LaGarrette Blount's single-season record of 17 set in 2008 for Oregon.

The Wildcats, like every other team this year, could not keep up with Oregon's speedy spread-option offense. The Ducks would run a play every 10 seconds if they could. "You can slow them down, but you can't stop them," said Arizona coach Mike Stoops. You're right, coach, speed kills.

If you like offense, this was the game for you - Oregon racked up 537 yards and Arizona 506 - and remember, Arizona scored 29 on Oregon. So just how good is Oregon's defense? You figure it out. Arizona, a 7-4 team, is ranked 20th by Sagarin.

Oregon's 11th win marked only the second time the Ducks have had 11 wins in a season, the last being in 2001 when Joey Harrington took Oregon to the Fiesta Bowl.

The comeback by Auburn was much more improbable. Alabama's Greg McElroy completed his first 12 passes and the Crimson Tide scored on its first 3 possessions with a 9-yard run by Heisman Trophy-winner Mark Ingram, a 68-yard strike to Julio Jones, and a 12-yard pass to Darius Hanks.

Alabama would go up 24-zip before Auburn could turn around and catch them. Heck, the Tigers were behind 21-zip before Auburn had a first down, and the Crimson Tide had racked up 314 yards of offense to Auburn's 2.

If Cam Newton and his teammates were intimidated by Alabama's 20 consecutive wins at home, they got over it, outscoring the Tide 28-3 the rest of the way to win, 28-27, on a 7-yard pass from Newton to Philip Lutzenkirchen with 11:55 left in the 4th quarter.

Newton, the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy as college football's best player, completed 13-of-20 passes (65%) for 216 yards with touchdown strikes of 36, 70 and 7 yards. Newton is a running wizard on par with LaMichael James and Michigan's Denard Robinson, but on this day he showed a strong, accurate throwing arm as well.

Pro teams will be lined up deeper than the number of teams available to sign Newton come draft day.

Should Auburn beat South Carolina for the SEC championship this week, Auburn will be playing for the national title.

In losing, Alabama did not help itself. Mark Ingram fumbled the ball following a long run. Greg McElroy coughed up another ball after a major-league hit by Nick Fairley, who recovered McElroy's fumble. Then a couple of Tide defenders got crossed up on a pass that resulted in a 70-yard catch and run TD by Terrell Zachery that gave Auburn new life.

Despite Alabama's game try, this is Cam Newton and Auburn we are talking about, apparently the football gods care a lot more about Newton than some of his critics.

There were 4 upsets this week, none bigger than 19th-ranked Nevada's (11-1) 34-31 overtime win over previously unbeaten Boise State (10-1).

Boise State had coasted to 10 straight wins with victories over exactly 3 worthy teams - Virginia Tech, Oregon State and Hawaii. A 14.5-point favorite on the road against Nevada, the Broncos blew the game when kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-yard field goal in regulation, and another 29-yarder in overtime.

Nevada's redshirt freshman kicker, Anthony Martinez, did not miss his 34-yard field goal attempt in overtime.

Nevada had battled back from a 17-point halftime deficit to snap Boise State's 24-game win streak, costing the Broncos a BCS bowl game bid, and snap the Wolf Pack's 10-game losing streak to the Broncos. Nevada coach Chris Ault called the Wolf Pack's upset win the biggest in school history.

In another upset, 14th-ranked Oklahoma (10-2) beat 10th-ranked Oklahoma State (10-2), 47-41, behind Sooner quarterback Landry Jones, who passed for a school-record 468 yards and 3 touchdowns. Two of the TDs came on 86 and 76-yard passes in the 4th quarter to seal the victory.

The Sooner victory left Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South Division title with 6-2 records.

The other two upsets were less significant at this point in the season. Minnesota, a 3-9 team ranked 92nd, handed 24th-ranked Iowa its 5th loss of the season, beating the Hawkeyes 27-24. Iowa is now folding faster than a K-Mart deck chair.

Maryland, an 8-4 team ranked 42nd, took down 21st-ranked North Carolina State 38-31, costing the Wolfpack a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game. The Terrapins got the job done behind Danny O'Brien's career-best 417 yards passing and 4 touchdown strikes. Any Irishman born and bred could not help but like a player named Danny O'Brien.

By losing, Iowa, North Carolina State and Arizona were bounced out of the AP Top 25 Poll to make room for newcomers West Virginia (8-3 at 23rd), Northern Illinois (10-2 at 24th) and Hawaii (9-3 at 25th).

Nine ranked teams had quality wins, either beating their unranked opponent by at least 20 points, or beating another ranked opponent by at least 14 points.

The least impressive quality win was 4th-ranked TCU giving 168th-ranked New Mexico a 66-17 beating the Lobos will not soon forget. Or maybe the Lobos will forget it, since New Mexico (1-11) is ranked last in the nation in scoring defense among major schools, giving up 44+ points a game.

Other ranked teams with quality wins included 5th-ranked Wisconsin (11-1) over 69th-ranked Northwestern 70-23, behind Montee Bell's 178 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. The win was Wisconsin's 4th straight by 20+ points, and marked the 3rd time this year the Badgers have scored 70+ points.Since 8th-ranked Ohio State (11-1) and 11th-ranked Michigan State (11-1) joined Wisconsin in winning their last games this week, all three teams will share a tie for the Big Ten title with 7-1 conference records.

One of the three, Wisconsin, will play in the Rose Bowl because, even though Michigan State beat Wisconsin and Wisconsin beat Ohio State, Wisconsin is ahead in the BCS rankings that will determine who gets to go. Michigan State did not play Ohio State this season.

Other quality wins found 7th-ranked Stanford (11-1) shutting out 28th-ranked Oregon State 38-zip, 8th-ranked Ohio State leveling 46th-ranked Michigan 37-7, 13th-ranked Virginia Tech (10-2) breezing past 90th-ranked Virginia 37-7, 15th-ranked Missouri (10-2) ripping up 106th-ranked Kansas 35-7, 16th-ranked Nebraska (10-2) slamming 57th-ranked Colorado 45-17, 18th-ranked South Carolina (9-3) whipping 47th-ranked Clemson 29-7, and 22nd-ranked Florida State (9-3) humiliating 27th-ranked Florida 31-7.

Five other ranked teams managed to win, but not as easily.

Arkansas, ranked 12th and favored by 3.5 points at home, held off 6th-ranked LSU 31-23, in a win that was not significant in that Auburn leads the SEC West Division with an 8-0 mark and both Arkansas and LSU are now 6-2. Razorback coach Bobby Petrino went for it on a 4th-and-3 in the 4th quarter and Ryan Mallett threw a perfect, 39-yard pass to Joe Adams for the winning touchdown. Mallett passed for 320 yards and 3 TDs, including scoring passes of 85 and 80 in the 1st half. Mallett set the Arkansas school record with 60 TD passes in two years, and the Razorbacks have now won 6 straight after losing to Auburn.

Michigan State, 11-1 and ranked 11th, beat 49th-ranked Penn State 28-22, 17th-ranked Texas A&M (9-3) held off 53rd-ranked Texas 24-17, 23rd-ranked Utah (10-2) barely nipped 56th-ranked BYU 17-16, and 25th-ranked Mississippi State turned back 85th-ranked Mississippi 31-23.The Spartans of Michigan State had the game in hand until allowing Penn State 3 last quarter touchdowns, making the game a whole lot closer.

Michigan State's victory was their 11th on the year, their win broke an 8-game road losing streak to Penn State (their first win at Happy Valley since 1965), and gave the Spartans a share of the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Ohio State (all finished at 7-1). More important, Michigan State's Big Ten crown, even though shared, was its first in 20 years.

About The Author
Ed Bagley's Articles is Writer, Author and Editor Ed Bagley's personal web site with hundreds of original articles on 49 different subjects, including complete weekly coverage of the NCAA college football scene the during season, plus Ed Bagley's Top 25 Poll as an alternative to the AP and Coaches Polls. Find Ed Bagley's Articles at:http://www.edbagleyblog.com
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Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:45 am
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