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No. 3 Notre Dame routs Wake Forest to stay undefeated

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Associated Press
11/17/2012 10:13:02 PM
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame got one first-place vote in the coaches' poll last Sunday -- head coach Brian Kelly's.

He won't be the only one voting the Fighting Irish No. 1 this week.

Against Wake Forest, the Fighting Irish reinforced Kelly's faith in his team, then third-ranked Notre Dame got some help later Saturday night.

Oregon and Kansas State, the two teams ahead of the Irish in the AP and BCS rankings, each lost. Now Notre Dame will control its own fate as it tries to capture its first national title in 24 years.

Earlier in the day, Everett Golson threw three touchdown passes and Cierre Wood scored on a 68-yard run as the Irish beat Wake Forest 38-0 to finish the season undefeated at home for the first time since 1998.

"I told them tonight I'm proud of them," Kelly said. "I voted them No. 1 for a reason, because I think they're the best team in the country. I think they played like that tonight."

The Fighting Irish were in third place in last week's BCS standings, but likely will move up after Kansas State, which was No. 1, lost 52-24 to Baylor and Oregon, which was in second, lost to Stanford 17-14 in overtime.

If Notre Dame manages to beat Southern California next week, it could wind up in a BCS title game against Alabama, now No. 4 in those rankings. Notre Dame won the national championship in 1973 when it upset the undefeated Crimson Tide 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl.

Kelly, who saw his 12-0 Cincinnati team left out of the BCS title game in 2009, said he has no doubt his 11-0 team deserves to play for the championship if its win the season finale at USC.

That's all he wants his players focused on, he said.

"They cannot do anything else but beat USC," Kelly said. "The rest is up to other people to decide."

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe seemed to think the Irish have as much right as anybody to be there.

"No question about it. But maybe a couple of others should be, too. That's kind of the deal right now," Grobe said. "I can't imagine anybody from what I saw today playing any better than Notre Dame. But I think there are some other really, really good teams. They impressed me today. I think there as good as any team in the country."

Wood got the Irish moving with his 68-yard burst on the game's fourth play. Three plays later, Wake tailback Josh Harris caught a 13-yard pass but fumbled after a hard hit by Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese and safety Zeke Motta recovered. Harris, Wake Forest's leading rusher, didn't play the rest of the game because of a head injury.

Golson kept the Irish going with his best passing game of the season. He threw three touchdown passes of 50, 34 and 2 yards in the first half.

Fourteen of his 17 first-half completions led to first downs as the Irish opened a 31-0 halftime lead. He finished with 346 yards on 20 of 30 passing with one interception.

Wood rushed for 150 yards on 11 carries and Tyler Eifert had six catches, giving him 130 for his career, breaking the school record of 128 set by Ken MacAfee in 1977.

The Irish improved to 11-0 for the first time since 1989 and need to beat USC to finish a regular season undefeated for the first time since 1988, the last time they won the national championship. The Demon Deacons (5-6) fell to 1-33 all-time against top 5 teams.

The victory virtually assures the Irish of a berth in a BCS game, even if it's not the title matchup.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, draped in leis after playing his final game at Notre Dame Stadium and handing out candy to anyone within reach, wasn't ready to make his argument that the Irish deserve to be in the title game.

"If we don't beat USC, there is no need to say whether you deserve it or not," he said. "You have to beat USC first. You can ask me that question after."

The Irish dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Deacons 584 yards to 209. It was the first shutout for the Irish since a 35-0 win over Nevada in the season-opener in 2009 and their first shutout against a major conference team since a 42-0 victory over Rutgers in 2002.

"They jumped on us quick, got momentum, kept momentum rolling, and when the defence can't stop them, it's hard for the offence to really play hard," Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock said.

Tanner Price was 22 of 33 passing for 153 yards for Wake Forest with his longest pass for 16 yards. The Irish held the Demon Deacons to 55 yards rushing as Wake Forest dropped to 1-4 on the road this season.

"They were where they needed to be and they just force you to execute," Tanner said. "Obviously we weren't able to do that today."

After posting a 17-16 record at home the past five seasons, the Irish victory Saturday improved their record at Notre Dame Stadium to 6-0 this year. But this was the first time they made it look easy. The Irish needed overtime to beat Stanford, triple overtime to beat Pittsburgh and won the three other home games by a combined 13 points.

"We put it all together and played a complete game today," left tackle Zack Martin said.

Many Notre Dame students showed their respect by wearing yellow leis to honour Te'o, who is from Hawaii and who has played a key role in the Irish resurgence. Te'o, senior defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore and senior safety Zeke Motta left to standing ovations with 13 minutes left.

"I wanted to make it a special moment for the seniors on defence. They have been obviously the rock. They've carried us while we were trying to find ourselves offensively," Kelly said. "It just seemed to me to be a pretty good gesture to allow us to honour those seniors."

When Notre Dame went 11-0 in 1989, the Irish were beaten by Miami in the regular season finale and finished the season ranked No. 2 behind the Hurricanes.

The last time the Irish headed to Los Angeles to play Southern Cal undefeated was a year earlier, in 1988, when the squad coached by Lou Holtz beat the second-ranked Trojans 27-10 en route to the school's last national championship.

Te'o said that's the only focus now.

"I don't care about anything else but winning and being part of this team," he said. "And now we have to work on USC, and beating USC."

 

No. 4 ALABAMA 49, WESTERN CAROLINA 0

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Eddie Lacy rushed for three first-half touchdowns and AJ McCarron set Alabama's single-season record for passing TDs.

The Crimson Tide (10-1) rebounded from a loss to No. 9 Texas A&M by building a 42-0 halftime lead against the Catamounts (1-10), a Football Championship Subdivision team with two wins in as many seasons. It was Alabama's third shutout of the season.

McCarron completed all six of his attempts for 133 yards and his 21st touchdown before exiting midway through the second quarter. Lacy ran for 99 yards on 10 carries with two 7-yard touchdowns and a 3-yarder. Neither played after halftime.

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No. 5 GEORGIA 45, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 14

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes and Todd Gurley became only the second true freshman in Georgia history to rush for 1,000 yards.

Georgia (10-1) reached 10 wins for the eighth time in Mark Richt's dozen seasons as coach. Georgia Southern (8-3) had a shot at the halftime lead, only to get scuttled by a penalty, and Murray took control from there.

He completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell with just 4 seconds left in the half, sending Georgia to the locker room with a 17-7 lead. In the third quarter, Murray hooked up with Chris Conley on a pair of scoring passes, sandwiched around a 43-yarder to Tavarres King.

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No. 6 OHIO STATE 21, WISCONSIN 14

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Carlos Hyde scored on a 2-yard run in overtime and the Buckeyes stayed perfect.

The Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0) clinched the Leaders Division title outright with the win. But they are ineligible for the post-season as part of their punishment for NCAA violations under former coach Jim Tressel, and the best they can hope for is to end the year unbeaten and to maybe capture the AP Top 25 title.

Montee Ball scored his 78th touchdown, tying Travis Prentice's major-college record for career scores. But he fumbled on what would have been the record-breaker with 2:46 left in regulation.

The Badgers forced overtime anyway, on Jacob Pedersen's 5-yard catch, but Curt Phillips couldn't find him again in overtime.

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No. 7 FLORIDA 23, JACKSONVILLE STATE 0

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- No. 7 Florida used a strong defensive effort to overcome a sluggish offensive performance.

The Gators scored a touchdown on their first possession when Mike Gillislee plowed into the end zone from 7 yards out. But that was the only offensive touchdown all day from Florida.

The Gators (10-1) also scored on a 7-yard interception return by Jonathan Bostic early in the third quarter. Caleb Sturgis added three field goals from 21, 44 and 47 yards out to complete the scoring.

Florida's defence allowed a 76-yard pass completion on the first play of the game, but held the Gamecocks to 176 total yards the rest of the game. Jacksonville State, an FCS program that plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, completed its season with a 6-5 record.

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No. 8 LSU 41, MISSISSIPPI 35

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Jeremy Hill scored his third touchdown with 15 seconds left to lift LSU to a victory.

The game included seven turnovers, numerous momentum swings and long touchdowns, perhaps none better than Odell Beckham Jr.'s 89-yard punt return for a score that evoked memories of Billy Cannon's famous return against the same team, along the same sideline, for the same yardage back in 1959.

Beckham's return tied the game at 35, but LSU (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) still needed a pair of clutch sacks by Anthony Johnson and Lavar Edwards to drive Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) out of routine field goal range later in the fourth quarter, setting up the winning drive.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace passed for 310 yards and two TDs and ran for two scores, but also was intercepted three times.

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No. 9 TEXAS A&M 47, SAM HOUSTON STATE 28

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Johnny Manziel threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 100 yards and two more scores in a bit more than a half for Texas A&M.

The redshirt freshman threw an 89-yard touchdown pass to Uzoma Nwachukwu on A&M's first offensive play of the second half. The dual-threat quarterback then attempted the extra point, but it sailed wide right, ending the Heisman hopeful's day with A&M (9-2) leading 40-0.

He broke the NCAA freshman quarterback rushing record of 1,029 set by Missouri's Brad Smith in 2002, and the freshman record for total offence of 3,827 set in 2000 by Jared Lorenzen on A&M's first drive. He also became the fifth player and first freshman in FBS history to pass for at least 3,000 yards with at least 1,000 yards rushing in a season.

His 4,161 yards are a school record for total offence in a season.

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No. 10 FLORIDA STATE 41, MARYLAND 14

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Devonta Freeman ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns as Florida State earned a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Florida State (10-1, 7-1) led 27-0 at halftime and cruised to its fifth straight victory. The Seminoles clinched the league's Atlantic Division title for the second time in three years and will play for its 13th ACC crown on Dec. 1.

EJ Manuel completed 17 of 23 passes for 144 yards and two scores to supplement a running game that gained 237 yards.

Operating against an injury-plagued Maryland team using a linebacker at quarterback, Florida State allowed 170 yards.

The defeat formally ended any chance Maryland had of becoming bowl eligible. The Terrapins (4-7, 2-5) have dropped five straight.

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No. 11 CLEMSON 62, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 48

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Tajh Boyd threw for five touchdowns and ran for three more scores to lead Clemson to a record-shattering win.

The Tigers (10-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast) gained 754 yards, two off the school record. The 110 combined points were just seven off the ACC record set by Georgia Tech and North Carolina last week.

The Wolfpack (6-5, 3-4) led 24-13 early in the second quarter before Clemson scored 42 straight. Boyd was responsible for every Clemson touchdown. The junior was 30-for-44 for 426 yards and ran for 105 yards -- the combined 531 yards set another school record.

The Tigers won a share of the ACC's Atlantic Division title, but the loss to Florida State keeps them out of the title game.

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No. 12 SOUTH CAROLINA 24, WOFFORD 7

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Kenny Miles rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown and South Carolina pulled out a closer-than-expected 24-7 win over an FCS opponent.

The victory gave Steve Spurrier his 64th win in eight seasons with the Gamecocks (9-2), tying him with Rex Enright for most ever in program history. But it wasn't until a 17-point fourth quarter that Spurrier and South Carolina could rest easy in this one.

Adam Yates' 23-yard field goal broke a 7-all tie with 11:57 to go. After the Terriers (8-3) failed on a 4th-and-1 at their 34, Connor Shaw threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ace Sanders to widen the lead.

Moments later, Wofford's Eric Breitenstein fumbled and Akeem Auguste returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, making it 24-7.

It was the Gamecocks 11th straight win at Williams-Brice Stadium and completed their first perfect run at home (7-0) since 1987.

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No. 16 NEBRASKA 38, MINNESOTA 14

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Taylor Martinez threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns to Kenny Bell while becoming Nebraska's career passing leader.

The Cornhuskers (9-2, 6-1), who had to come from behind in the second half in four of its first five Big Ten wins, scored on four of their first six possessions against the Gophers (6-5, 2-5).

Nebraska can clinch the Legends Division title -- and a berth in the conference championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 1 -- with a win at Iowa on Friday or a Michigan loss at Ohio State Saturday.

Martinez passed 36 yards to a wide-open Bell for the Huskers' first touchdown, and they later connected for a 30-yarder along the sideline.

Minnesota had 98 total yards entering the fourth quarter. Nebraska pulled its starters, and the Gophers scored on MarQueis Gray's 1- and 6-yard runs.

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No. 17 UCLA 38, No. 21 USC 28

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Brett Hundley passed for 234 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more scores as UCLA clinched the Pac-12 South title and snapped a five-game losing streak in the crosstown rivalry.

Eric Kendricks blocked a punt and made a fourth-quarter interception for the Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12), who overcame intermittent second-half rain and USC's star-studded lineup for a gutsy victory that puts them atop Los Angeles football.

A year after USC obliterated the Bruins 50-0 in a game that led to a coaching change in Westwood, UCLA punctuated its one-year revitalization under Jim Mora with its first win over the Trojans (7-4, 5-4) since 2006 -- just their second in 14 years.

Matt Barkley passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns, but threw two interceptions in the Trojans' third loss in four games.

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UTAH STATE 48, No. 19 LOUISIANA TECH 41, OT

RUSTON, La. (AP) -- Kerwynn Williams scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give Utah State a lead in overtime and the Aggies stopped Louisiana Tech on four plays to win and clinch at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship.

Chuckie Keeton threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns for Utah State (9-2, 5-0), which let a 24-point, third-quarter lead slip away against one of the nation's highest scoring teams.

The Aggies scored on their first offensive play -- an 86-yard touchdown after a screen pass from Keeton to Williams -- and racked up 646 yards of total offence.

Utah State jumped out to a 27-3 lead by early in the third quarter, but Louisiana Tech (9-2, 4-1) rallied to tie the game at 41 on Matt Nelson's 32-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron threw an interception late in the second quarter, snapping his NCAA-record streak of 445 pass attempts without an interception. Cameron completed 35 of 60 passes for 396 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

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No. 22 RUTGERS 10, CINCINNATI 3

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Savon Huggins ran for a career-high 179 yards, and Rutgers' defence had another shut-down showing and the Scarlet Knights stayed in control of the Big East.

Rutgers (9-1, 5-0) remained the only unbeaten team in conference play. The Scarlet Knights finish with games at Pittsburgh and home against No. 20 Louisville, which has one Big East loss.

Huggins filled in for the injured Jawan Jamison and had a career day all around, leading an offence that did just enough. Gary Nova threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Mark Harrison in the second quarter, and Nick Borgese made a 42-yard field goal in the fourth.

The league's top defence took it from there, shutting out Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2) until Tony Miliano kicked a 36-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.

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No. 23 MICHIGAN 42, IOWA 17

ANN Arbour, Mich. (AP) -- Devin Gardner accounted for six touchdowns to help Michigan rout Iowa.

The Wolverines (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) weren't stopped on offence by the hapless Hawkeyes (4-7, 2-5) until Gardner threw an interception early in the fourth quarter.

Gardner threw three touchdowns and ran for three scores. He became the first Michigan quarterback to account for six TDs since 1983 when Steve Smith had as many passing and rushing scores in a game at Minnesota.

Denard Robinson started at running back and took snaps at quarterback and ran 13 times for 98 yards in his last home game.

Iowa has lost five straight.

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OKLAHOMA STATE 59, No. 23 TEXAS TECH 21

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Isaiah Anderson had a career-best 174 yards receiving and caught three long touchdown passes from Clint Chelf in his final home game for Oklahoma State.

Zack Craig blocked a pair of punts, returning one for a touchdown, as the Cowboys (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) won their fourth straight in the series and the second in a row in decisive fashion. The Red Raiders' 66-6 loss in last season's game was the most lopsided defeat in the program's history.

Chelf passed for 229 yards in his second career start. J.W. Walsh, who had what coach Mike Gundy called a season-ending injury four weeks ago, ran for one touchdown and threw for another out of a short-yardage package.

Seth Doege threw for 230 yards with two interceptions and a single touchdown pass for Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4).

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No. 25 KENT STATE 31, BOWLING GREEN 24

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) -- Dri Archer had two long touchdown runs and finished with 241 yards rushing, leading Kent State to its first Mid-American Conference title game.

The Golden Flashes' defence stopped Bowling Green twice within the last five minutes inside Kent State territory.

Luke Wollet's interception in the end zone with 21 seconds left sealed the victory.

Bowling Green (7-4, 5-2) had driven to the Kent State 14 before coming up empty on four consecutive throws.

Archer scored on runs of 79 and 74 yards for Kent State (10-1, 7-0 MAC).

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Everett Golson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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