Snap judgments on Saturday's best.
Teachers' Pet: Ndamukong Suh, Irresistible Force, Nebraska. Suh's 4.5 sacks against Colt McCoy Saturday night only begin to tell the story of his dominance in a game his team nearly won despite failing to score a touchdown. Suh was everywhere, through double teams, against misdirection, tossing around blockers and runners alike at will, and ended just one second short of completely bashing the Longhorns' national title hopes in with a chunk of granite (or his fist, little difference). Much love, big fella.
Most Likely To Succeed: CJ Spiller, Boulder Rolling Downhill Even When No Hills Are Readily Apparent, Clemson. There's nothing quite so poignant in college football as seeing a single player heft his entire team onto his back, carry them to the finish line, and fall just short of breaking the ribbon. With 301 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, there's quite literally nothing else Spiller could have done to save Clemson from Georgia Tech hoisting the ACC trophy in a 39-24 shootout. (Seriously, at this point, with myriad rushing, receiving, and occasional passing touchdowns to his name, would it shock you that much if Spiller figured out how to block for and pass to himself?)
Drama Queen: Win or lose, just a kid out there playing football or old-soul emotional leader of the Gators, we are sick to death of seeing Tim Tebow cry. Judging from the reaction in the Alabama half of the Georgia Dome when shots of his tear-streaked face appeared on the video screens, Tide partisans do not share our weariness, but we suppose they've earned that, given the balance of last night's national media coverage. Tebow's tears seem to ask, "Did Alabama win? No, no, no -- Florida lost." Try telling that to the angry elephant in the corner, sirs and madams.
Mister Personality: Steve Sarkisian, and maybe for the first time this season, we mean this in a good way. Washington won't be bowling, and Sark's Huskies dropped a few heartbreakers along the way, but a 5-7 finish is five games better than the team he inherited from Tyrone Willingham, and Saturday's furious flogging of Cal was their third win of the season over a team that finished with at least eight wins. The rebuilding job in Seattle is enough to make us retroactively furious at Willingham -- no idea what he was doing up in Seattle the past few years with the talent now flourishing and apparent, but it wasn't coaching.
Most Unlikely Couple: The Houston Cougars and ... Houston? When the Conference USA upstarts knocked off Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in the first few weeks of the season, they seemed to have as good a shot as any mid-major of securing BCS Buster status. But those upsets were followed by head-scratching losses to C-USA also-rans UTEP and Central Florida, and now that the Cougars have been bested by East Carolina for the conference title, they could fall as far as the Texas Bowl in the conference's postseason pecking order, probably playing Navy in front of a (perhaps somewhat deflated) home crowd.
Most Popular: This space is nominally devoted to Saturday's highlights, but let's reach way back in internet time to Friday night and give it up for Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour for breaking the Division I-A total touchdown record in the Chippewas' MAC championship win over Ohio U. That's three MAC titles in four years for CMU, for those of you keeping score. Why Rust Belt Tebow isn't making frequent appearances on trophy lists is utterly beyond us, but we love him enough for everybody.Grape Job! You know, we waited almost a whole season for the traditional Dave Wannstedt collapse to unfold. Apart from an odd loss to North Carolina State in September, it didn't come, and didn't come, and despite a last-second loss at West Virginia las tweek, Pitt was still in a position to claim the Big East title if the Panthers vanquished undefeated Cincinnati. For three quarters, it looked like they'd do it -- the Panthers led the Bearcats by three touchdowns in the first half, and went ahead 44-38 with less than two minutes to play -- but coughed up their lead late and managed to lose by a single point. How? By botching the PAT on their go-ahead touchdown, then giving up the game-winning score (and the league's BCS bid) to the Bearcats 57 seconds later.
Most School Spirit: After toiling along in underrated obscurity for what seems like most of Mike Stoops's career, the Arizona Wildcats get in one last shot at the rapidly deflating Trojan juggernaut and come away with the road win, an 8-4 final record, and a share of second place in the Pac-10.
Class Clown: Did the nine sacks Colt McCoy sustained during Texas's teeth-skinning win over Nebraska addle his grey matter a touch? But for a single second put back on the clock after heaving the ball out of bounds with the clock ticking and a timeout in his pocket, last week's golden boy QB is this week's newest graduate of the Les Miles Academy of Clock Management (a school not recognized by any major accrediting body). Suh and the Longhorn offensive line will shoulder some of the responsibility for McCoy's rapidly diminishing hardware prospects, but the near-gaffe that almost killed UT's game-winning field goal attempt before it lined up is on him.
Down 52-45 with six seconds to play and facing a 4th-and-10 from the Illini 19 on (probably) the last snap of the game, Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn hit Jamel Hamler for the touchdown as the clock ticked down, and a wildly tipped pass to offensive lineman Devan Cunningham for the the win on a do-or-die two-point conversion.
Ye gods and little fishes, we wish we could dole these out like Oprah, we love them so: "You get a Fat Guy Touchdown! And you get a Fat Guy Touchdown! You all get Fat Guy Touchdowns!" Happy Holidays, everybody, from Cunningham's massive limbs to you and yours.
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Holly welcomes your adulation and veiled threats at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.
- Ndamukong Suh