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JoePa wins No. 400, Cam Newton keeps cruising; more Snaps

You'll read plenty about Joe Paterno's 400th win in the next few hours, but consider these facts as you ponder a feat that likely will never be duplicated.

Paterno won his first game in 1966. That year, Florida quarterback Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy. Spurrier went on to become a Hall-of-Fame level college coach. Entering Saturday, Spurrier had 183 wins. To pass Paterno, Spurrier would have to average 11 wins a season for 20 more seasons. He would be 85 years old.

Florida's Urban Meyer is recognized as one of the game's best coaches, and he was relatively young when he became a head coach in 2001 at Bowling Green. Saturday, Meyer won his 102nd game. At an average of 11 wins a season, Meyer would have to coach for 28 more seasons to pass Paterno. Meyer would be 74 years old. That's quite a bit younger than JoePa is now, but Meyer already has retired once.

Alabama's Nick Saban also is regarded as one of the era's best coaches. Saban entered Saturday with 126 wins. At 11 wins a season, Saban would have to coach for 25 more seasons. Saban would be 84 years old.

The coach Paterno beat for win No. 400, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, was born eight years after Paterno won his first game.

After he threw for a career-high 317 yards in a 62-24 win against Chattanooga (RECAP | BOX), Auburn quarterback Cam Newton spoke to reporters at length for the first time since reports surfaced accusing a man of attempting to shop Newton's services to Mississippi State during Newton's recruitment last year.

Newton said he couldn't speak directly about the accusation or the NCAA's investigation into them, but when asked if he could provide a defense, Newton was adamant that he'd done nothing wrong. He also said this.

"I love Auburn, and that's all I've got to say," Newton said. "God has blessed me right now... When God be blessin', the devil be messin'."

Indeed. It may have had something to do with the competition, but the drama this week certainly didn't seem to affect Newton on the field. That makes sense, though. Newton has known about this accusation for months. He also has known for months that the NCAA is looking into the accusation. He probably wasn't that surprised when word finally leaked.

The question now is how this will affect Newton going forward. Some Heisman voters already have said they will not vote for him. Absent actual evidence that Auburn committed wrongdoing in his recruitment, I'd have a hard time leaving him off my ballot.

Watch the full Newton interview below:

Stanford clearly defined the Pac-10 pecking order Saturday with a 42-17 thumping of Arizona on Saturday. The Cardinal are clearly the second-best team, and a berth in the Rose Bowl isn't out of the question -- if Oregon and Stanford each win out.

In the meantime, Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck may have taken another step toward becoming the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft -- whenever the redshirt sophomore decides to turn pro. Luck threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns Saturday.

"He played a tremendous game," Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Some of the throws he made in some really tight, tight areas. Those are big-boy throws. Those are big-league type of throws when you're putting a ball on the line 35, 40 yards down the field staring into a rush. It's very NFL-like the way he executes out there on the field."

Anyone who watched Stanford demolish a good Arizona team also probably came away with a greater appreciation for Oregon. Remember, the Ducks beat Stanford by three touchdowns on Oct. 2 and have crushed everyone in their path since. Every impressive win by Stanford only makes that win look even better.

Things are about to get even worse in Austin.

On Saturday, Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw three more passes to Kansas State players than Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein did, and the Longhorns fell behind by 39 en route to a 39-14 loss.

Klein completed two of the four passes he attempted, and the Longhorns defense failed to stop the Wildcats, despite knowing they would run on nearly every play. Meanwhile, Texas coaches continued to allow Gilbert to throw the ball to the wrong team. Why didn't they turn to backup Case McCoy? Allow Coach Mack Brown to explain.

"I asked about [putting McCoy] in with about seven minutes left," Brown told reporters. "But he wasn't loose, and by the time he started warming up, it was too late."

Now what?

Texas, which has lost its last three home games, returns to Austin to face Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are much better. At this point, Thanksgiving opponent Texas A&M appears better, too. Assuming the Longhorns beat Florida Atlantic on Nov. 20 -- can we assume that? -- they'll have to win one of those two games to become bowl eligible.

The news was much brighter for the Lone Star state's other Big 12 public schools. Texas A&M whipped Oklahoma, 33-19, and the Aggies defense deserves a ton of the credit for the win after stuffing the Sooners on the goal line on three possessions. Meanwhile, Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts came off the bench to lead the Red Raiders to a 24-17 win against Missouri.

Texas A&M is still in the hunt for the Big 12 South title, but a loss to Oklahoma State in Week 4 means the Aggies would need to win out and get quite a bit of help. Ryan Tannehill, who played receiver in that game in Stillwater, was excellent Saturday in his second career start at quarterback, but the star was linebacker Michael Hodges, who finished with 19 tackles and two sacks. The Aggies finish with Baylor, Nebraska and Texas. Anyone who watched tape of Saturday's games will concede that Texas A&M could potentially win all those games.

Meanwhile, in Lubbock, Potts may have won back his starting job after he relieved Steven Sheffield and threw for three touchdowns to lead the Red Raiders to their biggest win of the season. Texas Tech's passing game got a lot of help from the rushing attack, which piled up 198 yards. Baron Batch ran for 134 yards on 28 carries.

Is South Carolina swooning again in November? Following a humiliating 41-20 home loss to Arkansas on Saturday, the Gamecocks are 3-8 in the 11th month since 2007.

On Saturday, South Carolina let Knile Davis run for three touchdowns and let Ryan Mallett throw for 303 yards. Meanwhile, South Carolina's Stephen Garcia threw a pair of interceptions.

"We didn't have much tonight," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "The way we played, you wonder how we won six games already this year."

That's no way to warm up for the program's most important game since the 9-0 Gamecocks traveled to Navy in 1984. (We won't remind cursed South Carolina fans how that turned out.) Next week in Gainesville, the Gamecocks will face Florida with the SEC East title on the line. South Carolina probably has the more talented team, but Florida has won two in a row and looked like a different team Saturday -- especially after the Gators discovered that their third-string quarterback (Jordan Reed) might be their best quarterback in a 55-14 win at Vanderbilt.

These results, of course, could be entirely misleading. Vanderbilt is bad, and South Carolina might have been sandbagging in a game that, mathematically, couldn't affect the Gamecocks' quest for the Est title. Still, South Carolina embarrassed itself, and that's no way to prepare to play for a championship -- even one as diluted as the 2010 SEC east title.

Raise your hand if, like me, you saw that Michigan and Illinois were headed for overtime and assumed the game would end in the 14th extra period when one of the quarterbacks fumbled a snap on a two-point conversion.

Michigan only needed three overtimes to dispatch the Illini, 67-65, after Illinois failed to convert on a mandatory two-point conversion try (RECAP | BOX).

The win probably helps the long-term employment prospects of Wolverines' coach Rich Rodriguez. As viewers, we shouldn't complain about this. These games probably drive Michigan fans crazy, but they're thoroughly entertaining for those of us with no rooting interest.

Michigan's offense isn't just capable. It's quite good. Unfortunately, the defense acts as if it was coached to pull flags instead of tackle. The only saving grace is that the offense is so strong, it makes opposing defenses play the same way.

Michigan's defensive struggles aren't surprising. The Wolverines are painfully young and are playing their fourth system in four seasons. But the pertinent question is: Why did Rodriguez wait until this season to install the 3-3-5? He had success with that defense at West Virginia. So why, when he was searching for a defensive coordinator before the 2009 season, did Rodriguez hire Greg Robinson instead of a coach who ran a 3-3-5? Robinson's lack of familiarity with the defense has provided yet another layer of excuses, but at the end of Year 3 of the Rodriguez era, it's too late for excuses.

Still, the Wolverines are headed to a bowl game after the season, and they have a winnable game next week at Purdue before a season-ending gauntlet of Wisconsin and at Ohio State. This win, coupled with the favorable news from the NCAA this week, certainly puts Rodriguez on more solid footing.

So unless Rodriguez's defensive staff finds a way to make a serious upgrade, we can probably pencil in the Wolverines for at least one more season of thrilling shootouts.

The readers of my Power Rankings got a kick out of an e-mail I published from a Baylor fan on Tuesday chiding me for being late to jump on the Bears' bandwagon. Before Baylor beat Texas last week, Richard in Spring, Texas, wrote this: "Baylor is ranked No. 25 in the BCS, but not even in your top 30? You're a fraud, and so are your power rankings. I'm glad Jesus loves you, because everybody else thinks you're a jerk."

Maybe I should have stuck to my guns for another week. I ranked Baylor No. 22 this week, and the Bears responded by getting creamed, 55-28, by Oklahoma State in Stillwater (RECAP | BOX). Cowboys receiver Justin Blackmon returned from his one-game suspension following an arrest on a DUI charge and torched the Bears with 13 catches, 173 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. Blackmon also scored on a 69-yard run on an end-around to start the second half.

Now I might have to eat some crow after my pronouncement two weeks ago that Oklahoma State didn't have the defense to compete for a Big 12 title. The Cowboys can go 1-1 against Texas and Kansas -- they'll be favored against both -- and then play Bedlam against Oklahoma in Stillwater for the Big 12 South championship.

And with a dynamic offense that can run and throw effectively, it might be hard to pick against Oklahoma State in that game.

The upset that blinked like a neon sign on the schedule this week was NC State at Clemson. The Wolfpack, coming off an emotional win on a Thursday against Florida State, traveled to Clemson, where the Tigers were in desperation mode after getting upset at Boston College.

The only surprise Saturday was that it took so long for Clemson to take the lead in a 14-13 win (RECAP | BOX).

Playing without leading rusher Andre Ellington, Clemson scored on a three-yard Jamie Harper run with 6:18 remaining to take the lead. NC State's offense, so dangerous nine days earlier against Florida State, failed to move the ball on two possessions after Clemson's go-ahead score.

The Seminoles enjoyed their time at the top for less than three hours. Florida State lost, 37-35, to North Carolina, to leave a three-way tie in the loss column between FSU, N.C. State and Maryland.

And people wonder why we're always saying the ACC is mediocre.

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