That Just Happened: Random Highlights from College Football’s Final Regular Season Games
That Just Happened: A Collection of Random Highlights from College Football's Final Regular Season Games
From Thanksgiving night to Showdown Saturday, the final week of college football’s regular season has come and gone – but it surely won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Two teams – Ohio State and Notre Dame – won their rivalry games and finished undefeated. The Buckeyes, playing under sanctions as a result of “Tattoogate,” put together the best season that won’t end in a bowl game. The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, fought their way into the BCS National Championship game.
Some schools lost yet another game, and their coaches lost their jobs as a result. Some schools won, and still fired their coaches. And one coach reportedly celebrated a big win by picking up the tab for fans after the game.
Talented players like Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and USC’s Marqise Lee capped off their regular seasons with record-setting games. Ball set a new FBS record for career touchdowns, while Lee, who was voted the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year, set a new Pac-12 record for single-season receptions.
Their performances probably weren’t enough to take any Heisman votes away from frontrunner Johnny Manziel, but the attention the Texas A&M freshman received for his performances this season earned him the right to talk to the media, which he did for nearly an hour on Monday.
Other players who aren’t talking to the media, but who probably have very interesting things to say include the Kentucky kicker, who almost got taken out by Tennessee’s canine mascot Smokey on Saturday, and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who was either punched or shoved to the ground by a Washington State fan after the Cougars’ big Apple Cup win.
If that's how the "regular" season finishes, championship weekend and the bowl season should be even more exciting.
Tennessee Mascot Smokey Runs After Kentucky Kicker
After nine years on the Tennessee sidelines, Smokey IX is retiring from the taxing job of being a live animal mascot for the Volunteers. The bluetick coonhound wasn't going out without a little excitement, though, breaking away from his handlers and streaking down the middle of the field - straight at Kentucky kicker Craig McIntosh. The dog reportedly nipped the kicker as he flashed by, with human handler hot on his heels. Georgia's Uga might be more famous, but you're not going to see a bulldog pull off that kind of stunt.
Montee Ball Sets New FBS Touchdown Record
Wisconsin's Montee Ball scored his 79th career touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday's game against Penn State, setting a new FBS career record. Ball hasn't matched his Heisman-worthy numbers from 2011, but the senior tailback has had an illustrious career. Last fall, he tied Barry Sanders' single-season touchdown record with 39.
Ohio State Honors Jim Tressel
On Saturday, the Buckeyes got their 12th win, finishing the season undefeated. Prior to the game, the team honored the 2002 Ohio State team, including former head coach Jim Tressel. This year's undefeated team is ineligible thanks to improper benefits Tressel's players received, so...it's only fitting that Tressel was triumphantly carried off the field before the game on his former players' shoulders? No, that actually makes no sense at all. Buckeyes' fans should be booing everyone who played a role in keeping this year's winning team out of the postseason.
Mike Leach Reportedly Buys a Round Using Apple Cup Bonus
Mike Leach had a rough first year as Washington State's head coach, but he finished the year on a high note with an overtime upset of Washington in the Apple Cup rivalry game. Leach's contract includes a $25,000 bonus for every Apple Cup win, and according to media and fans on Twitter, the coach opened a tab at a local watering hole after the win and said everyone's first drink was on him. (No worries, the bill only came to $3,000, according to reports, so Leach still has plenty of bonus cash left to spend.)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins Gets Leveled By WSU Fan Rushing the Field
The Cougars' coach might've bought everyone a drink following the win, but not all WSU celebrations were quite as generous. One fan reportedly punched or shoved Huskies' tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins while running to join the crowd of Cougars at midfield. Video of the incident is inconclusive, but the figure identified as ASJ definitely hits the ground hard. Neither UW or WSU has confirmed any information about the incident, but no arrests were made following the game.
L.A. Times Reporter T.J. Simers Accuses UCLA Coach Jim Mora of Throwing Saturday's Game to Stanford
#ThatAwkwardMomentWhen...a beat reporter commandeers your post-game press conference by insinuating your team purposely lost a game to get a rematch.
UCLA played Stanford in the season finale on Saturday. Since Stanford had beaten Oregon the weekend before, the Bruins essentially got to play "Pick Your Pac-12 Championship Opponent." A UCLA win over the Cardinal meant the Bruins would face Oregon in the title game; a loss meant a UCLA-Stanford rematch. Oregon was one of the top teams in the nation over the entire season, and L.A. Times reporter T.J. Simers came right out at the press conference and asked if Mora purposely lost the game to avoid facing the Ducks. (They were not one of UCLA's regular season opponents.) It wouldn't be the craziest thing a coach has ever done, but Mora steadfastly denied giving it anything less than the old college try, no matter how much Simers pushed.
Notre Dame Goes Undefeated, Earns Trip to BCS Title Game
If you missed this, you really weren't paying attention. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat the USC Trojans on Saturday night, notching their first undefeated season since 1988, the season they last won the national championship. The Irish kept their No. 1 ranking, kept the BCS from devolving into utter chaos yet again, and punched their ticket back to the title game.
Johnny Manziel Speaks
Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for. The Texas A&M quarterback known as "Johnny Football" finally got permission to speak to the media. A&M does not typically make freshman available for comment, but after Manziel's outstanding season, he's the Heisman frontrunner. College football fans have watched him all season; now they finally have a voice, and a personality, to go with his on-field feats.
Manziel spoke for nearly an hour during a teleconference. Will the next time we hear him be onstage in New York when he accepts the Heisman Trophy?