Notre Dame is suddenly very much alive for a national championship. Alabama and Georgia are too. Oregon and Kansas State may never quite recover from this heartbreak.
This is the type of Saturday night that makes college football what it is.
The BCS Championship Game picture was changed dramatically when Kansas State was embarrassed 52-24 at Baylor and Oregon blew a lead in the final minutes of regulation and lost 17-14 to Stanford in overtime. The Wildcats and Ducks were ranked 1 and 2 in the BCS standings. Now they're out - at least, unless there's more chaos before the season is over.
And Notre Dame, which hasn't won a national title since 1988, is now in the driver's seat.
The Irish won 38-0 against Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon, and then they watched the chaos unfold. If Notre Dame wins next week at USC, which might not have injured starting quarterback Matt Barkley, the Irish will play in Miami for the national championship.
The SEC, which has won six straight BCS championships, was on the outside looking in after Alabama's loss last week, but now that conference is almost assured a spot in the BCS Championship Game. If Alabama beats Auburn next week to win the SEC East Division, the winner of the Alabama-Georgia SEC Championship Game is almost certain to get an invitation to the BCS Championship Game. Alabama and Georgia will likely rank second and third in the new BCS standings.
And if Notre Dame loses at USC next week? Things are going to get really messy with a lot of one-loss teams claiming they belong in the BCS title game.
Kansas State looked out of sorts from the start of Saturday's game. The team that built a 10-0 record on not making mistakes couldn't stop making mistakes against Baylor.
There was an odd rash of offside penalties in the first half, including one that wiped out an interception. Baylor scored right after that. When Kansas State needed to rally in the second half, Heisman candidate Collin Klein threw an interception on the fourth play after halftime. Klein had thrown just one pick since Sept. 15.
Kansas State hadn't shown any real weaknesses this season. Only two of the Wildcats' wins had been decided by less than two touchdowns. They had scored at least 50 points five times, and the defense gave up more than 21 only twice. There was no sign that an upset loss awaited at Baylor.
In 1998, Kansas State was No. 1 in the country and had to just beat Texas A&M to play for a national title. At least that heartbreaking loss came in the Big 12 Championship Game. This one came against a 5-5 Baylor team whose defense allowing the most yards per game in the FBS.
It wasn't even close. Baylor never trailed. The Bears led 28-7 in the second quarter. The Wildcats cut their deficit to 11 points a couple times, but Baylor always had an answer. Late in the third quarter, Klein threw another interception on fourth down. On the next play, Baylor's Lache Seastrunk split Kansas State's defense and outran them for an 80-yard touchdown, and the Wildcats' BCS Championship Game dreams were over.
While that was happening, Oregon - which had earned its No. 2 spot in the BCS standings through many blowout wins in its 10-0 start - surprisingly found its own championship hopes in peril against Stanford.
Oregon led 14-7 when Stanford scored a controversial touchdown in the final two minutes. Stanford tight end Zach Ertz came down with a catch in the end zone, and officials ruled he was out of bounds. There was a question about whether he rolled out of bounds or had full possession but the play was ruled a touchdown after a replay review and the game was tied. Oregon couldn't move into field-goal range in regulation and the game went to overtime.
Oregon, which led the nation coming in at 54.8 points per game, couldn't move the ball on its first possession of overtime. Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldonado's field-goal attempt clanged off the upright, giving Stanford a chance for the win.
Stanford hit a field goal on its first possession of overtime. Fans in South Bend, Tuscaloosa and Athens rejoiced.
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