USC quarterback Cody Kessler
celebrated with fans following USC's 20-17 upset of No. 5 Stanford. (Robert Beck/SI)
Snap Judgments from the Week 12 late slate. For more coverage, check out files from Auburn-Georgia and Michigan State-Nebraska and our early and midday Snaps.
• USC 20, No. 5 Stanford 17: If anything, this felt like a throwback to the epic Stanford and USC games of the not-so-distant past. It’s refreshing to see the Trojans battle toe-to-toe with the powerhouse Cardinal, and it’s a testament to just how motivated USC is under interim coach Ed Orgeron. A fourth-quarter Su'a Cravens interception put the Trojans in position to win, and kicker Andre Heidari drilled the go-ahead 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining to seal the upset.
Stanford put everything it had into last week's 26-20 win over Oregon, and letdown games exist no matter how prepared and disciplined a team is. (Well, except for Alabama.) Traveling to the Coliseum used to be hellacious, and this served as a little reminder of why the USC head-coaching job is still so coveted -- and why school officials won’t balk at paying upwards of $6 million a year to land the candidate they want.
USC forced Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan to attempt to win the game, and he wasn't quite up to the task. Star back Tyler Gaffney rushed for 158 yards and two scores, but Hogan was shaky and tossed two interceptions. It was clear that coach David Shaw didn’t trust him to make plays with his arm.
The Trojans have responded tremendously under Orgeron, who is embracing Seinfeld's philosophy of “the opposite.” USC, perhaps stunningly, has an outside shot to win the Pac-12 South. Suddenly, the Nov. 30 UCLA-USC game is a big one -- especially if UCLA beats Arizona State next Saturday.
For now, Coach O can just keep living the dream and swinging his sword.
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• No. 1 Alabama 20, Mississippi State 7: This was far from Alabama’s finest effort, and a more opportunistic foe than the Bulldogs might have been able to steal one from the Crimson Tide. Yet Mississippi State couldn’t take advantage of favorable position, and 'Bama did just enough -- thanks in large part to an 160-yard rushing night by T.J. Yeldon -- to remain undefeated.
The Bulldogs forced four turnovers and largely proved Nick Saban right that Mississippi State may be "the best 4-5 team in the country," but Dan Mullen's squad couldn't avoid its 15th straight loss to a ranked team. I guess now it's the best 4-6 team in the nation. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 4 Baylor 63, Texas Tech 34: Points points points points points. The party at JerryWorld didn’t disappoint, as Art Briles and Kliff Kingsbury staged a scorefest in Arlington. Texas Tech jumped out to a 20-7 lead, and everyone was eager to see how Baylor would react under pressure. The Bears thrived, going on a 56-14 run to improve to 9-0 (6-0 Big 12).
Although Baylor was down tailbacks Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, it didn’t seem to matter, as Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin helped the Bears finish with 340 rushing yards. Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield (28-of-51, 314 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) and Baylor’s Bryce Petty (17-of-31, 335 yards, three touchdowns) threw all over the field, making for an extremely long (and entertaining) game.
Baylor probably won’t jump Ohio State in this week's BCS standings, but it took another step toward a potential dream season. As for the Red Raiders, they're riding a four-game losing streak since opening the year 7-0. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 11 South Carolina 19, Florida 14: The Gators certainly didn't go down easy, but Florida remains too injury-ridden to beat a talented team like the Gamecocks.
Freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg replaced the injured Tyler Murphy to make his first career start, and the Gators elected to run as often as possible. Mornhinweg went 10-of-13 for 105 yards and an interception, and Florida only ran 55 total plays on the night.
Behind an inspired defensive output, Muschamp's squad actually led 14-13 with less than seven minutes to play. But a pair of South Carolina field goals down the stretch sealed it for the Gamecocks. Connor Shaw had a largely forgettable evening, completing just 48 percent of his passes for 212 yards with a score. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 19 Louisville 20, Houston 13: Given how powerful both offenses have been at times, a high-scoring game might have been expected in this one. But defenses ruled the day for both the Cardinals and the Cougars. In fact, Louisville held Houston to just 195 total yards and an average of three yards per play.
Teddy Bridgewater didn’t have many chances to unload, although Cardinals running back Dominique Brown rushed for 136 yards and two scores. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 21 Arizona State 30, Oregon State 17: Marion Grice scored two touchdowns because Marion Grice scores a lot of touchdowns, and the Sun Devils continue to quietly lead the Pac-12 South. Grice has now found the end zone 20 times on the season. Arizona State's defense forced five turnovers in the victory. Next week's showdown at UCLA looms large. [RECAP | BOX]
• Colorado State 66, New Mexico 42:
A week after rushing for 312 yards and four touchdowns, Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs
ran for 291 yards and six scores to help the Rams
improve to 6-5 and clinch bowl eligibility in Jim McElwain’s second season at the helm. [RECAP | BOX]