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Frogs, Spartans looking to build momentum for '13

Frogs, Spartans looking to build momentum for '13

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) All those years TCU was winning conference championships and busting the BCS, the Horned Frogs' accomplishments were always couched with this caveat: Look at who they played against.

All it took was one middle-of-the-pack season in the Big 12 to change perceptions.

``The interesting thing is perception-wise, as far as the media and the fan base, I think we gained more respect being 7-5, than we did 11-2 last year,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said. ``In people's minds, they didn't know whether we could compete ... on a week-to-week basis. I think our kids showed us we can do that.''

TCU's next chance to prove something will be against Michigan State on Saturday night in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

It figures to be as tough a task as anything the Horned Frogs (7-5) faced in the Big 12, at least from a defensive standpoint.

Instead of the quick-and-athletic defenses TCU faced in its first season in the Big 12, the Spartans (6-6) are big, physical and love to knock opponents around.

Michigan State finished the regular season with the nation's fourth-best defense, giving up 273.25 yards per game, and was 10th in scoring, allowing 16.33 points.

The Spartans' defense allowed them to keep every game but one - a 20-3 loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 15 - close, with five of their loses coming by a combined 13 points.

``Their D-line and linebackers are one of the best in the nation against the rush and they're a very aggressive defense,'' TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin said.

Boykin will be the key to TCU finding holes in it.

The redshirt freshman was thrust into the starting role against Iowa State in the fifth game of the season after Casey Pachall was arrested on driving while intoxicated charges and later left the team to enter an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

A dual-threat quarterback, Boykin had a less-than-stellar start, throwing an interception on his first pass and two more in the fourth quarter of the 37-23 loss to the Cyclones. He bounced back quickly, though, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another score while not turning it over once in a 49-21 win over Baylor.

Boykin completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,853 yards and 15 touchdowns with nine interceptions on the season.

``Their quarterback creates,'' Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. ``They have a plan, they have a function, but he's going to create some plays.''

The Spartans will need someone to create against TCU's defense.

Like Michigan State, the Horned Frogs have one of the nation's best defenses, finishing 18th in total defense at 332 yards per game while playing against the explosive offenses of the Big 12.

TCU has been particularly good against the run, allowing 103.92 yards per game, which should pit strength vs. strength Saturday night against Michigan State.

The Spartans, fitting the power-running Big Ten Conference, are led by powerfully-built running back Le'Veon Bell, who finished third nationally with 147.3 yards per game and had 1,648 yards, second-most in Michigan State history.

If the Horned Frogs do manage to slow down Bell, it'll be up to Andrew Maxwell to move the ball against them.

The junior had an up and down first season after taking over for Kirk Cousins, completing 52 percent of his passes for 2,578 yards and 13 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

``Certainly, there's some frustrations when the offense isn't producing how we think we can, how we know we can,'' Maxwell said. ``But I wouldn't say my confidence was shaken; I don't think our confidence as a team was shaken. It was a matter of playing through those rough spots, riding them out.''

The Spartans and Horned Frogs both had to get through some of those rough spots to get here.

After moving from the Mountain West, TCU got off to a good start, winning its first four games before the letdown against Iowa State. The Horned Frogs followed with the impressive win over Baylor, but lost four of six to close out the season, including 24-17 to Oklahoma in the season finale on Dec. 1.

Michigan State opened the season 4-2, but faded down the stretch as its offense struggled to score points, also losing four its six final games. The Spartans at least ended on a good note, beating Minnesota 26-10 thanks to Bell's 266 yards rushing.

The bowl game is chance for both teams to end the season with some momentum into spring and perhaps into next year.

The Horned Frogs are one of the youngest teams in the country after playing 16 true freshmen - matching Texas for most in the nation - and only have 11 scholarship seniors. Boykin should be better with most of a season under his belt, as should the young players who were thrust into bigger roles with all the injuries TCU suffered this season.

Michigan State should be better next year, too.

Like Boykin, Maxwell may benefit from a year of experience and the Spartans could get a huge boost if Bell and disruptive defensive end Willam Gholston decide to return for their senior seasons.

``We always felt like winning is the most important thing about going to a bowl game, carrying forward the enthusiasm you have coming out of it what you have to do - and how you have to do it - going into next season,'' Patterson said.

That's the same way the Spartans are looking at it.

The 7 craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season

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USA TODAY Sports

The 7 craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season

From massive comebacks to cartwheels, to rabid bats and even the rare signs of life from Northwestern's offense, this weeks' college football action truly had it all.

Here are the seven craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season.

Ohio lineman does cartwheel during a play

MACtion was in full swing on Tuesday with a game between Western Michigan and Ohio. Unless you went to either of those schools, you probably don't care. I bring it up, however, because of one glorious play in which an offensive lineman did a cartwheel.

This wasn't a fun touchdown celebration, this wasn't a taunt after a big play. This was, the ball is snapped, the play is being run and this dude straight up does a cartwheel while people around him are playing actual football.

Make no mistake, this was planned. That was an actual play in Ohio's playbook. He did it immediately off the snap. Quarterback Nathan Rourke threw a 25-yard completion on the play so I guess you would have to say it worked. Hopefully, that means more of this in the future.

Michigan State wore their helmets on the bus to the Michigan game

Trying to motivate a group of college kids throughout an entire season is tough. Some coaches are masters at it. There are some techniques, however, that fall flat. I think you can put this one in the latter category.

Michigan State played rival Michigan on Saturday and the Spartans got off the bus on the way to the game with their helmets already strapped on. I guess the message was supposed to be that they were ready to play. The message that actually sent was, we are all out of ideas so here's something we will be mocked for when it doesn't work.

Michigan State lost to Michigan 44-10.

There were rabid bats at Mississippi State

First off, here's wishing the Alabama quarterback a speedy recovery. As it was the biggest story of the week, I would be remiss not to mention it when talking about the Alabama-Mississippi State game.

Tagovailoa's injury overshadowed what I thought would be the biggest story coming out of Starkville: rabid bats.

From great catch to miraculous fumble

This was just whacky. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor made an incredible one-handed catch as he grabbed a ball thrown behind him. A great play quickly turned into a disaster as he turned up the field and tucked the ball, but immediately had it punched out for a fumble.

We have all seen players tiptoe down the sideline, but not often do you see a ball do it. Luckily for Nebraska, Lamar Jackson pounced on the loose ball while the rest of his teammates stood watching seemingly oblivious to the fact that the ball was live.

Columbia had a punt blocked by the butt of its own player

You have heard of the butt fumble, but how about the butt punt block?

Northwestern scores 45 points

What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object? That was the question on everyone's mind in Evanston when Northwestern met UMass.

Northwestern's offense entered the week averaging 11.1 points per game. That's not just the worst scoring offense among Power 5 teams this year, it is the worst of the decade. Its previous season-high for points was 30 which it scored against UNLV. So how in the world did the Wildcats manage to put up 45 points? Because UMass just so happens to be one of the worst teams in the FBS this year.

Running back Evan Hull went off for Northwestern with 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns to give the illusion of a competent offense. That won't last as next week they play Minnesota.

Oklahoma overcame a 25-point deficit to beat Baylor

Oklahoma has an illustrious history. Since 1895, the Sooners have won seven national titles. One thing they had never done? Overcome a 25-point deficit.

Oklahoma did just that on Saturday on the road against an undefeated Baylor team and without its top wide receiver in CeeDee Lamb. Somehow, the Sooners managed to rally to win the game 34-31 with an incredible second-half performance to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

McClung lifts Georgetown past Georgia St. 91-83

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McClung lifts Georgetown past Georgia St. 91-83

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mac McClung had 25 points, Omer Yurtseven had a double-double, and Georgetown topped Georgia State 91-83 on Sunday night.

McClung made all 11 of his foul shots and Yurtseven finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Josh LeBlanc added 12 points James Akinjo scored 11 points for Georgetown (3-1).

Corey Allen had 21 points for the Panthers (1-3). Josh Linder added 17 points and Justin Roberts and Damon Wilson scored 15 points apiece.

Georgetown faces Texas on Thursday. Georgia State plays Prairie View on Friday.

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