It might be that the hash marks are farther apart. It might be the passion that fans invest in a sport that compels them to fill stadiums 80,000-strong and bigger. It might be that as talented as the players are, they are still kids in grown men's bodies, prone to the kinds of mistakes that age coaches and fans and mothers before our very eyes. Whatever it is, the heart-pounding, heartbreaking finishes that cascaded one after another Saturday, from Tallahassee to Athens to Fort Worth to Clemson, are a reminder that whatever college football is doing, it needs to just keep doing it.
1. Four mistakes Georgia made in the last 30 seconds of that epic loss to Tennessee illustrate how the Dawgs don't play with the mental discipline that good teams have.
-- Junior tight end Jeb Blazevich didn't get out of bounds at the Tennessee 42 with 29 seconds left. Ten seconds elapsed before the next snap.
-- Offensive tackle Tyler Catalina moved early, which forced head coach Kirby Smart to use his last timeout to avoid the 10-second runoff.
-- After Jacob Eason appeared to bail his teammates out with that 42-yard touchdown pass, the Bulldogs received an excessive celebration penalty, which got them a 15-yard penalty, assessed on the kickoff. That allowed Tennessee to field the kickoff at its 32 and return it to the Dawgs 48.
-- Georgia also was offside on the kickoff, which moved the ball to the Dawgs 43, close enough for Joshua Dobbs to complete the Hail Mary for the victory.
2. Let's get this straight. No. 24 Utah ran 97 plays to Cal's 49, didn't turn the ball over, held the ball for 42 minutes, 1 second and lost? Let's get this straight, too: Colorado already is the only unbeaten team in league play in the Pac-12 South? Colorado, which had won five games in its first five seasons in the Pac-12? And this: No. 15 Stanford and Oregon, the only teams to win the league since it expanded, lost by a combined 56 points this weekend? And the Ducks, 0-2 in league play, are last in the North? What is there to count on in the Pac-12 anymore? Well, there's this: Oregon whiffed on two more two-point conversions in their 51-33 loss at Washington State.
3. Hey Rutgers, you have a role model in Colorado. The Scarlet Knights, after the 58-0 home loss to No. 2 Ohio State, have lost seven straight in the Big Ten by an average margin of 28 points. That is second to Boston College, which has lost 10 straight in the ACC, albeit only by an average margin of 12 points. That is more of a tribute to the Eagles' defense last season, which led the FBS in total defense. After victories of FCS Wagner and Buffalo, Boston College gets a dose of reality Friday night, when No. 3 Clemson comes to Chestnut Hill.
4. My colleague Adam Rittenberg wondered aloud Sunday if No. 9 Tennessee is a team of destiny a la Auburn in 2013. You have to go further back, Adam. No team got more can-you-believe-it good breaks en route to the national title than the Vols in 1998, from the late pass interference call at Syracuse in the opener, to the hand-of-God fumble by Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner, to Florida State having to play the BCS Championship Game without starter Chris Weinke.
5. No. 11 Wisconsin might have fallen a game behind No. 12 Nebraska in the Big Ten West, but the way the Badgers played in their 14-7 loss at No. 4 Michigan provided plenty of evidence that they should remain the division favorite over the Huskers. It will not be easy: The Badgers still have to play No. 2 Ohio State from the East. The Huskers do, too, but their other East opponent is Indiana, not Michigan. However, Nebraska has to come to Madison. More important, Wisconsin's play at Michigan State and Michigan the last two weeks showed that it won't beat itself.
6. Kudos to NCAA rules boss Rogers Redding for swiftly issuing an "interpretation" that clarified what anyone who watched the helmet-to-helmet blow that UCLA defensive back Tahaan Goodman delivered to Stanford wide receiver Francis Owusu a concussion on Sept. 24 knew: it should have been regarded as targeting. "It's the fastest I've ever seen them turn it around," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. You knew what he thought of the no-call when he didn't fine Cardinal head coach David Shaw for railing against it three days after the game.
7. Four unbeaten teams remain in the Group of 5 leagues: No. 6 Houston in the American, No. 19 Boise State and Air Force in the Mountain West, and Western Michigan in the MAC. The Cougars have the toughest road and the best opportunity to win not only the Group's New Year's Six bowl slot but a playoff berth, thanks to that Nov. 17 home game against No. 7 Louisville. And a special shoutout to South Alabama, which ended San Diego State's 13-game winning streak Saturday and earlier defeated Mississippi State of the SEC, but is 0-2 in the Sun Belt. Maybe that should be a shoutout to the toughness of the Sun Belt.
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