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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Sparty's guts take glory on exciting Saturday

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As Spartan Stadium exploded around him, Brian Kelly nudged an assistant, looking for answers. If the Notre Dame coach didn't actually say the words, he had to be thinking them.

What happened?

The look on Brian Kelly's face after Notre Dame's OT loss says it all. (US Presswire)  
The look on Brian Kelly's face after Notre Dame's OT loss says it all. (US Presswire)  
Kelly could have been speaking for a nation Saturday night. Michigan State's stunning 34-31 overtime win was not the last note of a symphony of thrillers but it could have been the loudest. Kelly's (almost) heroes were the victim of "Little Giants," the name for a fake field goal that Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio had cooked up during the week. You should understand that Dantonio and trick plays go together about as much as the Dali Lama and Hennessy. You just don't think of the two together.

Dantonio considers a wild day leaving the house with slightly rumpled slacks. He is his old boss, Jim Tressel, without the sweater vest. But there he was, Mr. Conservative, looking into the camera explaining how it seemed to be the right time for the holder Aaron Bates raising up and hitting tight end Charlie Gantt with the 29-yard winning touchdown pass in overtime. It was the ultimate element of surprise served with a side of shock. Kelly didn't expect it. Dantonio figured the risk was worth it.

The joy quickly turned to concern, though, as Dantonio was treated Saturday night for a mild heart attack. The doctor who did the procedure said Dantonio was doing "very well."

For Notre Dame the result was the second consecutive late slap in the facemask. Just when you thought the Irish were getting over the heartbreak of Denard Robinson, they were punked again. An apparently sleepy officiating crew may have helped too. The play clock looked to have expired when the ball was snapped. The Big East released a statement Sunday defending its officiating crew.

Remember when it used to be the luck of the Irish?

After only three weeks, there is a reshuffling of expectations at several college football capitals. Notre Dame is 1-2 and can probably say goodbye to a BCS bowl less than a month into Kelly's first season. Arizona, which hadn't given up a touchdown until Saturday, outlasted Iowa in a shootout. Auburn is sending subtle messages that there might be room for two powers in the state of Alabama. Ryan Mallett is the biggest thing to hit Fayetteville since pulled pork. Washington's Jake Locker lost a game, his spot in the Heisman pecking order and perhaps NFL Draft positioning.

What happened?

Matt Skinner ever so slightly raised the ball, then let it touch the ground again before snapping it back for Clemson's game-tying field goal in overtime. But Chandler Catanzaro's kick was nullified because Skinner, the long snapper, ever so slightly raised the ball, then let it touch the ground again.

Dodd's Power Poll
1. Alabama
2. Boise State
3. Ohio State
4. Oregon
5. TCU
6. Nebraska
7. Florida
8. Arkansas
9. Texas
10. Michigan
11. Oklahoma
12. Arizona
13. South Carolina
14. Auburn
15. USC
16. Wisconsin
17. Iowa
18. Pittsburgh
19. LSU
20. Stanford
21. Michigan State
22. Utah
23. West Virginia
24. Miami
25. Georgia Tech

With his attempt pushed back five yards by an illegal snap penalty, Catanzaro missed a 32-yarder, handing Auburn a 27-24 overtime victory. In another example of Tiger-on-Tiger crime, Auburn (3-0) escaped as one of the hottest teams in the country. It came back from a 17-0 deficit to set up a big game this week against an equally hot South Carolina.

The ACC might be slumping early, but Clemson proved it isn't going to be part of the problem. Quarterback Kyle Parker played through a rib injury to throw for 227 yards.

"I told them that they would have to take me out on a stretcher before I would come out of the game because it was one of those games," Parker said.

This might be one of those special Auburn teams if it keeps winning like this. For the first time in eight years, the Tigers rallied back from a deficit of at least 17 points.

"There's a lot of hurt and pain in that locker room," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

No more than in Iowa City and Athens.

What happened?.

Georgia is officially in disarray. It is 0-2 in the SEC for the first time since 1993 after a 31-24 loss to Arkansas. Its best receiver might be directly responsible. A.J. Green sat out his third game of a four-game suspension for selling his jersey to a sleazy agent-runner guy.

The Bulldogs could have used him -- Green, not the sleazy agent-runner guy. Mark Richt had been 5-0 against Arkansas but his defense couldn't find an answer for this week's way-too-ridiculously-early Heisman leader. Mallett (380 yards, three touchdowns) will not be able to pay for any dinners any time soon in Fayetteville after hitting Greg Childs with the game-winning touchdown pass. The SEC doesn't need any more extra-benefit issues for its players so let's keep this positive.

This is what Heisman winners do -- lead their team 77 yards in three plays to throw the game-winning score on the road with 15 seconds left. This is what Arkansas college towns do with No. 1 Alabama coming to town -- split apart at the seams.

What happened? Iowa fell behind by 20 at Arizona, missed an extra point that would have given them a one-point lead, and then couldn't stop a final game-winning drive. The result was a late-night thriller, 34-27 Arizona.

Iowa came into the game with a reputation as having one of the best defensive lines in the country. But turnovers and special-teams issues allowed Arizona's Mike Stoops to get his biggest win as the Wildcats' coach. Nick Foles threw the game winner to William Wright with 3:57 left.

"It says we're here to stay," Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer said.

He might be right. Arizona's No. 14 ranking in AP is its highest since 1999.

What happened?

The assumption that Locker is going to be the slam-dunk, No. 1 overall draft choice next spring now is laughable. It was beyond having sub-par personnel around him in Saturday's 56-21 loss to Nebraska. It was beyond facing a quality defense.

That is exactly what Locker is going to be facing when he is drafted by some cellar-dweller. He will not have all the weapons around him. He will have to make plays by himself while suffering growing pains. Saturday, then, has to scare some NFL teams and put a damper on the Washington season.

Locker, a senior, threw for his third-fewest yards (71) and had the worst completion percentage of his career (4 of 20, 20 percent). There were two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. His rep is more vulnerable than his collapsing pocket. Locker is now 9-22 as a starter. Three times in the opener against BYU he had a chance to lead the Huskies to a fourth-quarter game-winning drive. He failed three times.

"There's still a lot of football to be played," Locker said. "And the best thing about a game like this is we get to play another one in two weeks."

Good luck with all that. After a bye week, Washington plays USC.

What happened?

Seemingly nothing to Mark Ingram's knee. On his first carry of the season the reigning Heisman Trophy winner went 48 yards against Duke. He surpassed 100 yards after one quarter and averaged more than 16 yards per carry in Alabama's 62-13 victory. The reshuffling stopped in Durham. The Tide took the worry of it being close, winning its 17th consecutive game.

"That's the best Alabama team I've seen," said Duke's David Cutcliffe, a 'Bama grad and former assistant.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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