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Gophers escape a Jackrabbit upset

Adam Weber was, as always, only being honest. The Minnesota Gophers' quarterback was trying like heck to say all the right things after an offensively challenged 16-13 victory over Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) oppone...

Adam Weber was, as always, only being honest.

The Minnesota Gophers' quarterback was trying like heck to say all the right things after an offensively challenged 16-13 victory over Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) opponent South Dakota State in Minneapolis.

You know, like a victory being a victory. Or how the Gophers, now 6-5 overall, were now bowl-eligible for a second consecutive season. But the truth hurt, at least to some extent.

"I guess, for the offense, it's a bittersweet victory," Weber said. "Because, going into this week, we felt we'd have an opportunity to go out there, move the ball, put up points, have a successful seniors day in the final game at TCF Bank Stadium."

The Gophers won Saturday despite taking only three field goals out of three trips into the red zone. Weber was sacked four times and flushed out of the pocket several times more. His ill-advised throw across the field in the first half was intercepted by Derek Domino and returned for a touchdown that gave the Jackrabbits a short-lived 10-6 lead. After the game even Gophers coach Tim Brewster, after lauding a strong defensive performance, talked about his offense's lack of rhythm.

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No wonder the Jackrabbits (7-3) sounded like a team that had given a victory away.

"It's just a lack of execution on our part," SDSU running back Kyle Minett said. "They're no better than Northern Iowa. They're no better than Southern Illinois. They're no better than other Division I-AA teams we've played this year. It was just a lack of execution on our part."

While the Jackrabbits offense -- particularly freshman quarterback Thomas O'Brien -- struggled much of the day thanks to a strong Gophers defensive performance, the Gophers offense was never the same after a 13-play, 78-yard first-quarter drive stalled at the SDSU 6.

The offensive line struggled to protect Weber, a situation that only got worse once the Jackrabbits started blitzing. When Weber did have time to throw, it appeared he couldn't find anybody open.

"I'm happy to have won our sixth game today," Brewster said. "For the second year in a row, we're going to a bowl game. ... I'm pleased for our football team. (But) I wasn't pleased about with some of the things I saw today, particularly from an offensive standpoint."

Other Big Ten

Northwestern 21, Illinois 16: Mike Kafka threw for 305 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score and Sherrick McManis made a last-minute interception to preserve Northwestern's win over Illinois in Champaign, Ill.

Zeke Markshausen had six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown to help Northwestern (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) all but assure itself of going to a second straight bowl game.

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Jacob Charest made his first start, but was benched at halftime in favor of Eddie McGee before returning to lead the Illini (3-7, 2-6) to two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Michigan State 40, Purdue 37: Kirk Cousins threw three touchdown passes, and Michigan State overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Purdue and become bowl eligible in West Lafayette, Ind.

B.J. Cunningham caught three passes for 92 yards and a score for the Spartans (6-5, 4-3 Big Ten).

No. 19 Penn St. 31, Indiana 20: Linebacker Navorro Bowman had a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown and Evan Royster scored twice as Penn State overcame four first-half turnovers to beat Indiana in State College, Pa.

Senior quarterback Daryll Clark threw for one score and ran for another in his last game at Beaver Stadium, but also threw two interceptions.

No. 21 Wisconsin 45, Michigan 24: Scott Tolzien tied a career high with four touchdown passes and scored on a sneak, and Wisconsin made visiting Michigan's miserable Big Ten season even worse with a victory.

Nick Toon caught two of Tolzien's touchdown throws for the Badgers (8-2, 5-2), who went to the air after putting together monster rushing performances in their previous two games.

Top 10

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No. 1 Florida 24, South Carolina 14: Tim Tebow tied the Southeastern Conference touchdown record and No. 1 Florida gained its first perfect league season in 13 years with a victory over South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.

The Gators (10-0, 8-0) remained on track for a third national title in four years. They again called on their SEC-leading defense to save things against former coach Steve Spurrier, who looked like he'd figured out a few cracks in Florida's front line.

No. 2 Texas 47, Baylor 14: Colt McCoy tied the NCAA record for career victories by a starting quarterback, throwing two touchdown passes to help Texas beat visiting Baylor.

McCoy is 42-7 in his career, tying the wins record set by former Georgia quarterback David Greene.

Texas led 40-0 by halftime with McCoy throwing touchdown passes of 3 and 7 yards to Jordan Shipley. Cody Johnson ran for 109 yards and two short touchdowns and Tre' Newton added a 45-yard scoring run.

No. 3 Alabama 31, Mississippi St. 3: Mark Ingram rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns, Greg McElroy threw two long scoring passes and Alabama improved to 10-0 for the second straight year with a road win over Mississippi State.

Mark Barron made his fifth and six interceptions of the season, most in the Southeastern Conference, and helped the Crimson Tide (7-0 SEC) smother the Bulldogs (4-6, 2-4).

No. 4 TCU 55, No. 16 Utah 28: In likely its last significant hurdle to an undefeated regular season, scored three touchdowns in a 2½-minute span early in the second quarter and beat visiting Utah.

The Horned Frogs (10-0, 6-0 Mountain West) stretched their winning streak to 12 games since a last-minute loss last November at Utah (8-2, 5-1), which had won 22 of 23. TCU also has won 13 in a row at home since losing when the Utes last visited two years ago.

No. 6 Boise State 3, Idaho 25: Kellen Moore threw four touchdown passes to Austin Pettis and tied a career high with five overall, helping Boise State rout Idaho in Boise.

Titus Young had a 100-yard kickoff return that was actually longer and Kyle Wilson returned an interception 71 yards for another score for the big-play Broncos (10-0, 5-0 WAC), who beat their rivals for the 11th consecutive time.

No. 7 Georgia Tech 49, Duke 10: Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, Josh Nesbitt accounted for three scores and Georgia Tech clinched a spot in the ACC championship game by routing homestanding Duke.

No. 8 Pittsburgh 27, Notre Dame 22: Jimmy Clausen threw for 284 yards and running back Dion Lewis rushed for 153 yards on 21 carries as Pittsburgh beat visiting Notre Dame.

No. 9 LSU 24, Louisiana Tech 16: Keiland Williams ran for 116 yards and two second-half touchdowns, helping No. 9 LSU fend off upset-minded Louisiana Tech in Baton Rouge, La.

No. 10 Ohio St. 27, Iowa 24, OT: Back-up kicker Devin Barclay kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime to give No. 10 Ohio State a victory over No. 15 Iowa and send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 13 years in Columbus, Ohio.

The Buckeyes (9-2, 6-1) clinched at least a share of their fifth consecutive Big Ten title and the conference's automatic BCS bid.

Iowa (9-2, 5-2), which overcame a 24-10 deficit with just over 11 minutes left, lost its second in a row.

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