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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

A Retrospective

Ten Moments for 2010, Part I

This is rather self-explanatory: 120 teams playing 12 games each yields 1,440 games — or something around that total — which in turn yields dozens of indelible moments. Take the missed field goal that allowed Oregon to escape California, 15-13; that didn’t make the cut. Nor did the Sun Belt’s changing of the guard, when Florida International went into Troy and knocked off the defending conference champions by 17 points. Also missing the cut: Hawaii’s October win over Nevada, the Wolf Pack’s lone defeat on the season; U.S.C.’s two-point barrage against those same Warriors; or the fake-field-goal-bounce in L.S.U.’s win over Florida, among others. What did make the cut — the first five of 10 — follows.

10. Second Half in Eugene

Stanford at Oregon, Oct. 2

It was a sight we had become accustomed to seeing, just not against such a strong opponent. Even this early, through one month, Oregon had made a habit of starting slow before turning on the jets in the second half. Again, this trend had been seen against teams like Tennessee — not terrible teams, but opponents not on the same level as Stanford. When the Cardinal went blow-for-blow with the Ducks, heading into halftime with a 31-24 lead, one couldn’t help but think if the Ducks had finally met their match offensively. Not quite. Oregon scored 28 unanswered points to end the game, answering the bell against the best team it would face all season. It’s scary: as terrific as Stanford is, Oregon’s better.

9. Gamecocks Win in Gainesville

South Carolina at Florida, Nov. 13

Steve Spurrier has officially done it all in the Swamp: fielded SEC champions, national champions, even won with South Carolina. The latter feat is yet another feather in the cap for the former Florida coach, who led U.S.C. to its first SEC title of any kind thanks to an altogether convincing 22-point win over the Gators. The two teams with identical records: both were 6-3, 4-3 in the SEC, meaning this game would decide the division. Florida struck first, scoring on the opening kickoff, but it was all South Carolina the rest of the way. Three Spencer Lanning field goals and a Marcus Lattimore score made it 15-7 at the half. Lattimore would score two more times in the second half; Stephen Garcia would score once; and a late Florida touchdown was meaningless. U.S.C. 36, Florida 14.

8. Mallett’s Fourth Quarter

Alabama at Arkansas, Sept. 25

Though outstanding, Ryan Mallett’s junior season — perhaps his last at Arkansas — will be tinged by his two fourth quarter interceptions against Alabama. If you can recall Sept. 25: Alabama was still No. 1, believed by most to be equally strong to a season ago. Arkansas was a quiet 3-0, with wins over Tennessee-Martin, Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia. The Razorbacks had Alabama on the ropes, however, leading by 13 points late in the fourth quarter. That lead was cut to 20-17 with roughly six minutes to play: three plays after an Alabama field goal cut the margin to three, Mallett was intercepted by Robert Lester. That turnover led to Mark Ingram’s go-ahead score. His second pick, thrown with 1:48 to go, ended Arkansas’ hopes. Alabama remained undefeated — though not for long. Arkansas recovered, but Mallett’s Heisman hopes took a tough hit.

7. Kicking Off in Madison

Ohio State at Wisconsin, Oct. 16

Madison can be an imposing venue at night, what with the red, the hopping, the noise and so on. About that noise: it only gets louder when the Badgers return the opening kickoff for a touchdown, as they did this night against Ohio State. Who said Wisconsin lacks speed? David Gilreath went 97 yards untouched to open this night game against Ohio State, giving the Badgers a lead they would never relinquish. John Clay scored twice in the first half, James White scored once in the fourth quarter to give Wisconsin a 28-18 lead and a late field goal gave the Badgers a 31-18 win — a win that would give Wisconsin a trip to the Rose Bowl.

6. Horned Frogs Assert Dominance

T.C.U. at Utah, Nov. 6

Utah had revenge on its mind: T.C.U. bombed the Utes in Fort Worth a season ago. Utah also had the B.C.S. on its mind, knowing that an undefeated regular season would likely clinch the program’s second B.C.S. trip in three seasons. Well, things didn’t quite as planned for Utah — again. For the second consecutive year, it was all T.C.U., all the time: Horned Frogs 47, Utes 7. With that victory, T.C.U. proved to the nation that it was worthy of national title consideration. While Boise State’s loss to Nevada was the official bump the Horned Frogs needed to head to the Rose Bowl, this team was absolutely deserving of that bid all season — as this game showed.

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  1. sy says:

    Paul, want to try that math problem in your opening sentence again? Recall that while there are 120 teams and each team plays twelve games, there are two teams in each game

    Paul: I know. I really wrapped my brain around trying to do the math. But I couldn’t figure it out. Anyone have an idea how many games 120 teams playing ~12 games would come out to? I can’t figure it out.

  2. Jake Smith says:

    You can count it as 120*12*(1/2) + # of FCS games played by all FBS teams. It should come out to about 800.

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