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National College Football

These games were sights for sore eyes

By Mark Blaudschun
September 12, 2011

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You can criticize college football for its sleaze factor. You can pick on conferences that don’t need to expand but are doing so for the money. And you can poke fun at the “student’’ part of student-athlete in big-time college football.

What you can’t argue with - over last weekend or most any college football weekend - is the entertainment factor.

No sport, not the NFL, baseball, basketball, or hockey, can touch the sheer number of unbelievable highlights that college football produces weekly.

Pick through the games over the weekend and you will find:

Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31 All the Wolverines did was score two touchdowns in the final 1:12 to come from behind twice to win it, with quarterback Denard Robinson’s 16-yard pass to Roy Roundtree providing the winning TD.

“It’s not over until you see the zeros on the clock,’’ said Robinson, who should know, since he has beaten the Irish with his heroics two straight seasons.

All he did Saturday was pick up 446 yards in total offense and five touchdowns. In the last two seasons, he has compiled more than 900 yards in total offense, which for some schools is a half-season’s worth.

South Carolina 45, Georgia 42 The game had seven lead changes before the Gamecocks put the Bulldogs away.

Georgia led, 35-31, with 6:28 left. South Carolina regained the lead at 38-35 with 3:28 remaining and increased it to 45-35 with 3:12 on the clock. Georgia cut the margin to 45-42 with 2:15 left, but a failed onside kick attempt gave the Gamecocks the ball and they ran out the clock.

Auburn 41, Mississippi State 34 The game ended with Mississippi State on the Auburn 1-yard line.

Auburn has won a nation-best 17 games in a row and won the national championship last season with similar late heroics. Of the 17 straight Tigers wins, 10 have been by margins of 8 points or fewer.

“We’d prefer to win football games a lot different than we are,’’ said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. “But there’s something to be said when you can fight down to the end. When it doesn’t look good and you still win the game.’’

USC 23, Utah 14 Southern Cal blocked Utah’s last-second field goal attempt to tie the game at 17, and when Torin Harris returned it for a touchdown the Trojans had the game won by 9 points. Those who had taken USC as an 8 1/2-point favorite were delighted.

But when the Trojans were penalized for excessive celebration, the TD was taken away, making the final score 17-14, and the Utah backers were delighted. But an hour after the game the Pac-12 reversed the call and gave the touchdown back to USC.

Ordinary Joe Penn State’s Joe Paterno is a Hall of Fame coach, but it would be hard to convince Alabama fans of that. With Saturday’s 27-11 loss to the Tide, Paterno is a woeful 4-10 against Alabama, by far the worst record against any team outside the Big Ten that Paterno has faced at Happy Valley . . . Charleston Southern has collected two nice paychecks from games at Central Florida and Florida State. But Charleston Southern is 0-2 and has been outscored, 124-10. How is that working out for the student-athletes? Charleston Southern stays in Florida next week, but faces Jacksonville, a more reasonable opponent . . . Florida State, Florida, and South Florida all are ranked in the Top 25 this week. And Central Florida is on the cusp at No. 30 . . . Arizona better fasten its seatbelts. The Wildcats are coming off a 37-14 loss at Oklahoma State and now must deal with Stanford and Oregon in the Pac-12.

Unlucky 13 Fresno State does not shy away from playing the big boys, the latest example a 42-19 loss at Nebraska. Fresno is on a 13-game losing streak against Top 25 competition, however . . . Oregon, still smarting from its spanking by Louisiana State the week before, took out its wrath on Nevada in a 69-20 win. The Ducks are not ready to step out of the spotlight . . . Feel-good story of weekend: Alan Moore, a 61-year-old Vietnam veteran and grandfather of five, kicked an extra point for Faulkner, an NAIA school. Moore last played college ball his freshman year at Jones College of Mississippi - in 1968 . . . Minnesota coach Jerry Kill was in stable condition after suffering a seizure late in the game against New Mexico State. It’s the third time in his coaching career that Kill has had a seizure on game day. He was taken to a hospital from TCF Bank Stadium by ambulance after collapsing with seconds to go in the game, a frightening scene that silenced the stadium and had players and coaches from both teams kneeling in prayer.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com; material from the Associated Press was used in this report.