Irish continue march toward title shot

October 15, 2012 

↑  Notre Dame: Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor says he scored on the last play of overtime. The officials say he didn’t. Either way, there’s a comforting familiarity to a controversial ending to an important game at Notre Dame Stadium.

It has by no means been pretty but coach Brian Kelly has Notre Dame off to a 6-0 start – the first time since 2002 – and up to No. 4 in the AP rankings. Dates with Oklahoma and USC stand in the way of what would be the most difficult ticket in the history of college football: Notre Dame vs. Alabama for the national title.

↑  North Carolina: Gio Bernard is arguably the best player in the ACC, and unarguably the most valuable. And the Tar Heels are the best team in the Coastal Division, no matter what the ACC or NCAA says.

↑  First-half Duke: The Blue Devils blazed out to a 20-0 lead at Virginia Tech and looked every bit like a bowl-bound team and the best team in the state. Given Duke’s recent history and Virginia Tech’s, it was an accomplishment – unfathomable in August – for Duke to hold a 20-point lead in Lane Stadium.

↓ Second-half Duke: Too many big plays and mistakes undid Duke’s spectacular start, as Virginia Tech scored the game’s final 41 points in a 41-20 win.

There’s still no shame in losing at Virginia Tech for Duke, but try telling that to David Cutcliffe and his players.

“I think our bubble feels burst,” Cutcliffe said after the game. “It hurts today. It hurts a lot.”

Two-minute drill

• Twice in the fourth quarter, Louisiana Tech cut what was a 27-point Texas A&M lead down to two points. The No. 23 Bulldogs, ranked for the first time in 15 years, ended up losing to the 22nd-ranked Aggies, 59-57 in regulation, in what will surely go down as the wildest game of the 2012 season.

Problem is, Louisiana Tech fans left Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La., in droves after the Bulldogs fell behind 27-0 and 39-16 in the first half.

Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes was disappointed by the early exits.

“Congratulations to our fans who stayed for the whole game,” Dykes said. “I’m glad our team didn’t leave like our fans. The fans who left early should be ashamed of themselves. It was embarrassing to have more Texas A&M fans there at the end of the game.”

The fans that left missed out on 1,293 yards of combined total offense. Ironically, it was a pair of stands on a two-point play in the fourth quarter by Texas A&M’s defense which won the game.

• Add another great quote to quirky LSU coach Les Miles’ resume. After the Tigers’ 23-21 win over South Carolina, right there on the field, with no prep time, Miles told ESPN:

“That was Death Valley. That was the place where opponents’ dreams go to die. It was spectacular.”

• Why did the ACC make an exception for Notre Dame? The Notre Dame-Stanford game on NBC was the highest-rated game on television on Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune, with a 3.9 rating. The South Carolina-LSU game, between a pair of top-10 SEC teams, got a 3.7 rating.

• Randy Edsall took a lot of heat, and deservedly so, for Maryland’s failures last season. Now he deserves credit for their 4-2 start.

The Terps are two wins from a bowl game, which seemed impossible in August while the residue of last year’s 2-10 disaster was still fresh.

At 2-0 in the ACC, Maryland’s the only unbeaten team in conference play.

• Couldn’t help but notice Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher letting Dustin Hopkins kick a 51-yard field goal at the end of the half of Saturday’s 51-7 win over Boston College. That’s the same distance Fisher wouldn’t let Hopkins attempt in the fourth quarter against N.C. State last Saturday.

Hopkins, by the way, made the kick and is now the leading scorer in Florida State and ACC history with 402 points.

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