- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2011

When it was seemingly over, it wasn’t over in Ann Arbor.

When it was over, it shouldn’t have been on the Plains.

And when it was definitely over, there were still points to be added in Los Angeles — much to the chagrin of certain businesses in Nevada.

Such was a wild second week of the college football season, which managed to whet appetites for another dozen weeks of unpredictability and zaniness after a relatively milquetoast opening act.

There were three touchdowns in the final 72 seconds of the first night game at Michigan, where the Wolverines edged Notre Dame 35-31 despite yielding more than 500 yards. Mississippi State, a chic SEC sleeper, was stuffed on a quarterback keeper with less than 10 seconds left in a 41-34 loss to Auburn — an odd play call since the Bulldogs had no timeouts remaining and it wasn’t fourth down.

And Southern California spoiled Utah’s Pac-12 debut with a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown - a score wiped out by a unsportsmanlike penalty when the Trojans spilled onto the field until the conference office overturned the call.

The Trojans won 23-14 after the league ruling.

Weekend Risers

Denard Robinson. The Michigan quarterback threw four touchdowns, was credited with a fifth score as a rusher and led the Wolverines from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to offer a reminder of just how electrifying a player new coach Brady Hoke inherited.

Auburn. A week after an inauspicious squeaker over Utah State, the Tigers again won a tight contest. Their victory over Mississippi State extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 17 games.

South Carolina. Say hello to favorites in the SEC East, with a big assist from a big fella. Defensive end Melvin Ingram rumbled into the end zone twice — once on a fake punt, once on a fumble return — as the Gamecocks outlasted Georgia.

Weekend Decliners

Notre Dame. There’s always next year. The Fighting Irish were again done in by turnovers — five for the second straight week — in falling to 0-2. Notre Dame has 1,021 total yards and nothing to show for it.

Garrett Gilbert. Texas’ youth movement was already under way after 18 first-year players appeared in the Longhorns’ opener. It might have taken another step Saturday with the benching of Gilbert in favor of sophomore Case McCoy and freshman David Ash. Gilbert was 2-for-8 for 8 yards and two interceptions before he was yanked, after which the Longhorns rallied for a 17-16 defeat of Brigham Young.

The Big East. The league endured a miserable weekend. Louisville lost to Florida International. Cincinnati was easily dispatched at Tennessee. Connecticut squandered a fourth-quarter lead at Vanderbilt. Syracuse needed a touchdown in the final period to outlast Rhode Island. And West Virginia trailed at halftime to Norfolk State before order was restored in a 55-12 victory. A weekend that looked good in so many places couldn’t have felt much worse in the Big East.

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