- Associated Press - Sunday, September 11, 2011

A game-saving goal-line stand on the Plains. The Ball Coach pulling a fast one between the Hedges. Triple-overtime in Iowa. A touchdown two hours after the game was over at the Coliseum.

And none of that topped Bedlam at the Big House.

For months, the news about college football has been dominated by investigations and scandals, conference shifts and TV contracts.

But on one of the wildest Saturdays in memory, filled with heart-stopping games and can-you-believe-what-he-just-did plays, college football’s troubles faded away _ at least for while.

“The game off the field is just an absolute mess,” longtime college football writer and broadcaster Tony Barnhardt of CBS said Sunday. “But the game on the field is better than it’s ever been and yesterday was classic example.

“One great game after another, one drama after another.”

Supporters of the Bowl Championship Series often say the BCS protects the urgency and excitement of college football’s regular season.

Well, it’s arguable whether letting more than two teams play for a national title in the postseason would hurt or help the regular season, but there is no doubting that the stakes are sky high from week-to-week in major college football.

Most teams are guaranteed only 12 games. The difference between a good season and a disappointing one might be one victory. The difference between a great season and a ho-hum year is two victories.

Beating a rival puts a whole different spin on a season.

The first few days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament have become among the most exciting on the sports calendar, with wall-to-wall, win-or-go-home games.

Every Saturday of the college football season produces at least a little of that same feeling. What’s going on in the SEC? Did you see that play in the USC game? There’s an upset brewing at Ohio State?

This past Saturday was every as good as March Madness at its best.

As soon as Auburn’s bald eagle mascot flew into the window of a luxury box before the Tigers played Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium, we should have know this was going to be a strange day.

Spirit recovered just fine and made its pregame landing at midfield as usual.

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