Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija added another chapter to Notre Dame's storied history.
This great finish did more than just contribute another memory to the lore of the Golden Domers, however. It also kept alive the Bowl Championship Series hopes of the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish.
Quinn, under pressure all day by a relentless UCLA defense, completed three straight passes in the final 62 seconds, capped by a 45-yard TD pass to Samardzija, to lead the Irish to a 20-17 come-from-behind victory over the Bruins yesterday in South Bend, Ind.
"Good teams win games like that," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "Good teams at the end of the game somehow, good teams make a play at the end of the game to win."
The victory was just the third time the Irish (6-1) won with a touchdown in the final 30 seconds, and the Irish still had to overcome a UCLA defense that had shut them down for most of the game. Notre Dame managed just 41 yards rushing and had just 224 passing until the final drive.
It seemed Notre Dame had squandered its last chance to win when Quinn was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 run from the Notre Dame 35 with 2:25 left. But the Irish held UCLA (4-3) to a three-and-out to give Quinn one last chance.
Quinn hit Samardzija with a 21-yard pass and David Grimes with a 14-yard pass to move to the UCLA 45. He then threw the TD pass to Samardzija, who cut inside safety Dennis Keyes at the 15-yard line. Keyes managed to knock Samardzija off balance, but the Notre Dame receiver kept his feet and made it to the end zone, keeping the Irish's hopes for a berth in the BCS alive. Notre Dame likely would have had no shot at a major bowl with two losses.
Ohio St. 44, Indiana 3 -- Troy Smith punched up his Heisman Trophy résumé with four first-half touchdown passes and Ted Ginn Jr. threw for one and caught another to lead the No. 1 Buckeyes to a rout of the visiting Hoosiers.
Smith wasn't that sharp, but he didn't have to be against an Indiana defense that came in next to last in the Big Ten in points allowed. Mixing play-fakes and passes, he propelled the Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) to their 15th win in a row, the longest streak in the nation.
His scoring strikes covered 23 yards to Rory Nichol, 31 yards to Ginn, 5 yards to Anthony Gonzalez, and 1 yard to Jake Ballard -- giving Smith 21 TD passes this season with just two interceptions. Ginn had five catches for 72 yards and completed a 38-yard toss-back pass to Nichol for a score.
Michigan 20, Iowa 6 -- Mike Hart grinded out 126 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries to back up another punishing defensive performance as the No. 2 Wolverines (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) defeated the visiting Hawkeyes.
With Northwestern, Ball State, and Indiana coming up for Michigan, the Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-3) appeared to be the only serious stumbling block between the Wolverines and an undefeated record going into the Ohio State game Nov. 18.
Louisville 28, Syracuse 13 -- Kolby Smith rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns, Anthony Allen scored on two short runs, and the sixth-ranked Cardinals downed the host Orange.
It was the fourth road win for the Cardinals (7-0, 2-0 Big East), who have a showdown with No. 4 West Virginia in 12 days.
Tennessee 16, Alabama 13 -- Arian Foster dived into the end zone with 3:28 left, completing a rally that lifted the No. 7 Volunteers past the visiting Crimson Tide.
Alabama went ahead, 13-6, at the end of the third quarter on Tim Castille's 2-yard run, which was the first touchdown scored in this series in two years. But Alabama couldn't score again. Alabama frustrated the normally high-scoring Vols (6-1, 2-1) for the most part, but Tennessee scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for the victory and stayed alive in its chase of Florida for the SEC East title.
Auburn 38, Tulane 13 -- Brandon Cox was nearly flawless in passing for 212 yards and three touchdowns, and freshman Ben Tate rushed for 156 yards to lead the No. 8 Tigers (7-1) past the visiting Green Wave.
Auburn tailback Kenny Irons was held out of the game to rest a gimpy ankle. Brad Lester started but played only sparingly, catching a 36-yard pass and rushing for a 2-yard touchdown on the opening drive. Cox was 16 of 19 passing and was almost flawless in the first half, when he went 12 of 13 for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
California 31, Washington 24 -- Marshawn Lynch ran for 150 yards and a 22-yard touchdown in overtime, and the No. 11 Bears (7-1, 5-0 Pac-10) recovered from Washington's tying score on a deflected pass as time expired to beat the visiting Huskies.
LSU 38, Fresno St. 6 -- Dwayne Bowe caught a 58-yard touchdown pass to tie the LSU record for career scoring catches with 21, highlighting a home rout for the 14th-ranked Tigers (6-2).
Arkansas 38, Mississippi 3 -- Felix Jones returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and the No. 15 Razorbacks (6-1, 4-0 SEC) defeated the visiting Rebels to remain the only team with a perfect conference record.
Washington St. 34, Oregon 23 -- Jed Collins caught a touchdown pass and rushed for another score as the host Cougars dealt a blow to the No. 16 Ducks' hopes for a BCS bowl appearance.
Boise St. 42, Idaho 26 -- Ian Johnson ran for 183 yards and four touchdowns, and the No. 18 Broncos (8-0, 4-0) beat the host Vandals to take sole possession of first place in the Western Athletic Conference.
Oklahoma 24, Colorado 3 -- Allen Patrick ran for 110 yards and a touchdown to lead the No. 20 Sooners (5-2, 2-1 Big 12) past the visiting Buffaloes in Oklahoma's first game without injured star running back Adrian Peterson.
Wisconsin 24, Purdue 3 -- P.J. Hill ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns to help the No. 21 Badgers (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) down the host Boilermakers.
Texas A&M 34, Oklahoma St. 33 -- Stephen McGee threw a 3-yard scoring pass with three seconds left in regulation and Red Bryant blocked an extra-point attempt in overtime, allowing the No. 23 Aggies (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) to escape Stillwater, Okla., with a win.
Missouri 41, Kansas St. 21 -- Chase Daniel threw four touchdown passes to lead the No. 24 Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) past host Kansas State, matching the school's best start since 1969 and breaking a 13-game losing streak to the Wildcats.