On a night characterized largely by lopsided blowouts, most of our joy at watching competitive football was drawn from the ACC. Here, we give thanks. For more, check out our early Snaps, midday Snaps, our coverage of Kansas State-West Virginia, South Carolina-Florida, Oregon-Arizona State and our complete Top 25 review.
• Duke 33, North Carolina 30. Let us sing of the Blue Devils and postseason football! Your eyes do not deceive you. That was David Cutcliffe waving a can of spray paint in the postgame celebration crush. Those are the Blue Devils you see atop the ACC Coastal standings. The Victory Bell is awarded to Duke in the earliest game between Duke and North Carolina since 1943. It’s a new blue world.
For a little while there it looked as though the Blue Devils were set to repeat last week’s unfortunate pattern of events, when they jumped out ahead of Virginia Tech early only to see hopes of victory dashed. Duke held a 20-6 lead at halftime and a 23-9 lead at the end of the third quarter before surrendering three touchdowns to the Tar Heels while managing only a field goal on offense. That last UNC score was the real killer: A Bryn Renner pass to Erik Highsmith was fumbled after Highsmith took a hit from a Duke defender, only to see Duke whiff on the fumble recovery and Giovani Bernard scoop it up and run it in for the score. Sean Renfree saved the day late with a five-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder on fourth down that was caught so quickly it was hard to make out even on replay.
Renfree finished with 23 completions on 36 attempts for 275 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Gio recorded his third consecutive triple-digit rushing effort for the Tar Heels with 143 yards on 24 carries. Blue Devils triumvirate Josh Snead, Jela Duncan and Juwan Thompson combined for 237 rushing yards. Tonight marked Duke’s first win over UNC since 2003, its first home win versus the Tar Heels since 1998 and first bowl eligibility status achieved since 1994. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 12 Florida State 33, Miami 20. Don’t let the semi-lopsided final score fool you — for a little over three quarters, this was a dogfight that would’ve pleased anyone longing for a return to the late-’80s/early-’90s heyday of the Seminoles-Hurricanes rivalry. A lot of that had to do with FSU losing leading rusher Chris Thompson to a knee injury early in the second quarter, but the ‘Noles didn’t help themselves with a flurry of self-inflicted wounds. Tight end Nick O’Leary fumbled a reception on FSU’s first play from scrimmage, leading directly to a Miami touchdown, and the Seminoles finished with 121 yards’ worth of penalties on the night. But after falling behind 10-0, FSU smothered Miami with aggressive defense and broke open a 16-13 game with a Devonta Freeman touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Freeman performed admirably in Thompson’s absence, rolling up 70 yards and two scores on only 10 rushes; it was an uplifting performance for a Miami Central High School grad playing in front of a hometown crowd barely a month after the murder of his younger brother. By the end of the night, FSU had outgained Miami 447 yards to 258 and maintained sole possession of first place in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Are we headed toward a Seminoles-Blue Devils matchup in the conference title game in Charlotte six weeks from now? The mind reels. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 4 Kansas State 55, West Virginia 14. Geno Smith’s interception-free streak is broken, among other indignities. The culprit: Linebacker Arthur Brown, whom you may remember as the Guy Who Broke Robert Griffin’s Streak Last Year. Collin Klein, in marked contrast, scored seven touchdowns. Stewart Mandel drew Morgantown duty this evening; check out his report on Bill Snyder’s complete undoing of the Mountaineers. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 11 USC 50, Colorado 6. Why even kick those field goals, Colorado? You know they’re not going to do you any good. Matt Barkley broke 100 career touchdown passes tonight, throwing six scores, four of which went to Robert Woods. Marqise Lee trailed with a “mere” 104 yards on six catches and a single touchdown. [BOX | RECAP]
• No. 1 Alabama 44, Tennessee 13. See above, re: field goals, and add “especially when trailing 44-10 with under four minutes on the clock and inside one’s opponent’s five-yard line.” Seeing any team do this kind of thing is a personal pet peeve of ours, but honestly, when did Tommy Bowden take over playcalling duties in Neyland Stadium, again? [BOX | RECAP]
• Toledo 29, No. 21 Cincinnati 23. Not that we’re any great prognosticators here, but we did say we had a weird feeling about this one. Might’ve been the Rockets’ record in the Glass Bowl that tipped us off: Toledo moves to 5-1 at home when facing a ranked opponent and is tied with NIU atop the MAC West, with identical 4-0 conference/7-1 overall records. [BOX | RECAP]
• Louisiana Tech 70, Idaho 28. All any team looking to climb (or climb back, in this case) into the rankings can do, in Tech’s position, is beat every opponent in its path. Freshman tailback Kenneth Dixon recorded six touchdowns and helped the Bulldogs to a school-record (and 2012 FBS record) 839 yards of offense for the evening. [BOX | RECAP]