Orange Bowl

Saturday lives up to the hype

 
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USC had no answers for Oregon and Kenjon Barner, who rushed for 321 yards and five TDs.
© Kirby Lee/US Presswire
(not rated)

Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

In a sport that lures us with competition, tradition and tension, there is nothing so delicious as a Saturday that lives up to its hype. The games didn't solve any BCS dilemmas and avoided a big one (one-loss, top-three LSU, anyone?). All they did was validate why we circled Nov. 3 on our college football calendar so many months ago.

A viewer with a quick thumb could have seen Everett Golson score No. 3 Notre Dame's winning touchdown in the third overtime against Pitt, followed by Kenjon Barner's 27-yard touchdown run to put No. 4 Oregon ahead of No. 17 USC 21-3, and then (after a commercial and a kickoff) Marqise Lee's 75-yard touchdown reception from Matt Barkley to keep the Trojans in the game.

Three plays, three touchdowns.

And that was all a few minutes before the Crimson Tide and the Tigers ran onto the field at Death Valley.

No. 1 Alabama's last-minute comeback at No. 5 LSU capped off a week in which the four unbeaten teams atop the BCS stayed that way, each in a manner characteristic of what signed them to their current lease atop the sport.

No. 2 Kansas State won with MBA efficiency, standing aside while No. 24 Oklahoma State committed five turnovers in a 44-30 decision. No. 3 Notre Dame peeled another layer of epidermis off its molars Saturday, overcoming a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to edge Pittsburgh in the third overtime, 29-26.

No. 4 Oregon came out of the locker room throwing knockout punches. It is a credit to No. 17 USC that the Trojans forced the Ducks to continue throwing on them in the fourth quarter. But the Ducks set nearly as many offensive records as they scored touchdowns, which is saying something in a 62-51 victory.

And Alabama won with a champion's guts. The Tide's 21-17 comeback, fueled by a five-play, 72-yard, no-timeout drive that ended in the Tigers' end zone with 51 seconds to play, will be remembered as long as there is shrimp in gumbo.

Alabama fans will recall the resolve their team showed after a second half filled with mistakes. LSU fans will stew over the missed opportunities -- two missed field goals and an ill-advised fake. Tigers coach Les Miles, as ever straddling the line separating genius and meathead, must live with the fact that the Tigers outplayed the Tide everywhere but the scoreboard.

Alabama remains No. 1, the Southeastern Conference remains in position for its seventh consecutive BCS title, and Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon continue to battle for No. 2. Who knew that changing nothing could be so exhilarating?

 

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