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The Best Games Of The 2012 Midseason

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 17, 2012


Which games were the best of the lot over the first half of the season? The Top Five

2012 CFN Midseason Review
- 2012 CFN Midseason Review & All-America Teams
- Midseason Crystal Ball - What's Going To Happen Next?
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind. | MAC
- M-West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC
- Top 5 Games of the Midseason | Best Games No. 6-10

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5. Sept. 22 - Wyoming 40, Idaho 37 OT
In what might have been the best game that no one saw, Wyoming’s Brett Smith bombed away for 370 yards and five scores, but Idaho’s Dominique Blackman was equal to the duel throwing for 321 yards and five touchdowns while also running for a score.

In a wild final few minutes of regulation, Smith connected with Brandon Miller on a eight-yard touchdown pass with 3:37 to play for a 34-27 lead, but Blackman managed the clock and the timeouts perfectly, but on first and goal from the eight he misfired on one pass, suffered a dropped pass in the end zone on another leaving time for one final play. He found Mike Scott for an eight-yard touchdown with no time left on the clock, and the extra point forced overtime.

Idaho looked like it was going to make some noise on its possession, but a sack forced Trey Farquhar to nail a 49-yard field goal and a 37-34 lead. Smith needed just one play, connecting with Jalen Claiborne for a 25-yard score and the wild Wyoming victory.

4. Sept. 12 - ULM 34, Arkansas 31 OT
Arkansas was 1-0 and coming off an easy win over Jacksonville State, and all eyes were on the showdown against Alabama coming after the tune-up over some Sun Belt team. Little did anyone know that this was going to be the start of a very, very bad run.

The Hogs seemingly had the game in hand. Tyler Wilson threw two touchdown passes, and Knile Davis was running well with a touchdown on the way to a 28-7 lead, but there were problems. Starting quarterback Tyler Wilson was knocked out of the game with a apparent concussion, but Arkansas kept on throwing instead of using Davis, Dennis Johnson and the running game to work down the clock midway through the third quarter. With all the attention going to Wilson, with worries about his status for the Alabama game, ULM started to sneak back into the game with Kolton Browning bombing away. The already unfocused Hogs had another problem after losing corner Tevin Mitchel to a frightening neck injury. The Arkansas coaching staff quit giving the ball to Davis, backup quarterback Brandon Allen was struggling, and ULM took advantage with 21 straight points including a 23-yard touchdown catch from Brent Leonard with less than a minute remaining to force overtime. Arkansas kicker Zach Hocker hit his 37-yard try for a 31-28 lead, and just when it seemed like the team was going to survive, Browning scrambled on a fourth down play for a 16-yard score and the improbable Warhawk win.

3. Oct. 13 - Notre Dame 20, Stanford 13 OT
This is when it felt like Notre Dame football was big-time again. The normally docile stadium was rocking, the two teams were slugging it out, and neither one seemed able to get the upper hand with both defenses playing so well in a hard fought game. The Cardinal got its only touchdown on defense when Irish quarterback Everett Golson was stripped and Chase Thomas fell on the ball, but the Irish offense would rallied with Golson finding Tyler Eifert for a 24-yard score for a 10-10 tie early in the fourth. Stanford answered right back with a decent drive culminating in a 27-yard field goal with just over six minutes remaining.

Golson started the final drive in regulation, but he was knocked out forcing Tommy Rees to come in off the bench cold to try engineering a scoring drive against a Cardinal defense that was doing a great job of generating pressure into the backfield. But Rees was cool and calm, connecting with Eifert on a key play and being helped by a pass interference call. Kyle Brindza came in and hit the 22-yard field goal with 22 seconds left to force overtime.

Rees was perfect in the extra frame, hitting all three of his passes including a seven-yarder to T.J. Jones for a touchdown and a 20-13 lead. Now it was up to the Irish defense that hadn’t given up a rushing touchdown all season. Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes took off for a big game and Stepfan Taylor was able to rumble for 13 yards down to the Irish four. One first and goal Taylor got down to the one, but he was stuffed on second and third down. On fourth down, Taylor got the ball, pushed up behind the line but was quickly met by Bennett Jackson and Carlos Calabrese. He appeared to be stopped and the Irish defense started to celebrate, but then he twisted and turned to get in for the touchdown – or did he? The officials ruled that Taylor didn’t get in, and the replay was ruled inconclusive for a wild and controversial Notre Dame win.

2. Oct. 13 - Texas A&M 59, Louisiana Tech 57
There were other games going on and the baseball playoffs were in full swing with the Yankees mounting a tremendous comeback to send the game against the Tigers into extra innings. There wasn’t any reason to pay much attention to the Texas A&M – Louisiana Tech game considering the Aggies were in control with a 27-0 start on the way to a 46-23 lead late in the third. And then Quinton Patton went off.

The Bulldog senior receiver caught a five-yard touchdown pass to help spark a 20-point run. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was having a terrific game, but he gave up an ill-advised throw that Shakeil Lucas took in for a pick six to bring the Bulldogs to within two. They went for the two-point conversion -and missed - in a decision that would turn out to be disastrous.

By this time, the late night Twitter world was blowing up and tuning in to see Manziel take the game back with a nice drive and a 17-yard touchdown pass for the lead, and then he seemed to put the game away with a breathtaking 72-yard scoring dash for a 59-44 lead with just over two minutes remaining.

And then Patton struck again with his fourth touchdown catch of the day taking a pass 62 yards for a touchdown using just 18 seconds off the clock. Texas A&M didn’t do anything with its drive, and the Bulldogs had one last shot. Quarterback Colby Cameron worked with Patton to get close and then with 38 seconds to play Ray Holley caught a 13-yard touchdown pass to get within two with the chance for an improbable comeback to force overtime.

Did Tech target Patton? No, and the ball flew out of the end zone on a misconceived play. A&M recovered the onside kick, and the wild shootout was over. After all the dust settled, Patton caught 21 passes for 234 yards and four scores, while Manziel set the SEC single-game record for total offense throwing for 395 yards and three touchdown, and running for 181 yards and three more scores.

1. Sept. 29 - West Virginia 70, Baylor 63
It was a poorly played game in a lot of ways. Neither defense could tackle a lick to go along with missed assignments and poor positioning time and again, but while the game turned out to be nothing more than target practice for the two high-powered offenses, it was also the signature game of the first half of the 2012 season.

One of the first games of the day, early on the social media world got on board with a slew of “are you watching this?” posts and tweets. Neither defense was coming up with a stop as the offense were trading haymaker after haymaker highlighted by Geno Smith, who couldn’t seem to miss. But every time he was able to connect, Baylor’s Nick Florence was able to answer back, ending the first half with a 67-yard Lanear Sampson touchdown with no time left on the clock to tie it up at 35.

The Mountaineers found their groove early in the second half with Smith connecting with Tavon Austin for scoring strikes from 45 and 52 yards out, and Andrew Buie added a one-yard score for a 21-point run and a 56-35 lead. In this game, though, no lead was safe.

Florence and the machine kept pecking away with scoring drives to stay alive, but Smith always had an answer, stopping a 14-point BU run with an 87-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey. Smith wasn’t missing, but Florence wouldn’t go away with his fifth touchdown pass of the game pulling the Bears within seven down 70-63 to play with over three minutes to go.

Finally, the only thing that could stop the West Virginia offense was West Virginia, running out the clock to grind out the final few minutes. And then it was time to assess the statistical aftermath.

Smith completed 45-of-51 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdowns with Stedman Bailey catching 13 passes for 303 yards and five scores and Tavon Austin making 14 grabs for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Even with 70 points and 807 yards, it still took everything in the bag to get by with Florence completing 29-of-47 passes for 581 yards and five touchdowns with a pick and a rushing score, and Terrance Williams catching 17 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, the two teams combined for 1,507 yards 133 yards, and Heisman front-runner status – at least at the time – for Smith.