Stony Brook 20, Villanova 10: When you put together an 8-3 regular season after being picked to finish eighth in your league and get back to the FCS playoffs one year after going 2-9, you have to consider it a success. The Wildcats wanted more.
But for the first time in six postseason appearances going back to the mid 1990s, they were eliminated in their opener.
The Seawolves (10-2) set the tone by going 98 yards in 21 plays on their first possession. It was 14-0 at the half. The Wildcats, who are going back to the Colonial Athletic Association next season, got their touchdown with just under 7 minutes left, and got the ball back twice after that but never threatened.
Stony Brook held the ball for 39 minutes and ran for 263 yards, throwing only six times (three completions).
John Robertson, a candidate for the Jerry Rice Award as the nation's top freshman, accounted for 220 of Villanova's 271 yards, including the 21-yard TD run. He was intercepted twice, but did go over 1,000 yards on the ground, to break the program record of 987 set by Chris Whitney 3 years ago in the 15-game run to a national title.
For just the second time, the Wildcats were held to under 150 rushing. Robertson had 85 (on 15 carries) of their 136. Sophomore Kevin Monangai, the leading rusher in the Colonial Athletic Association, could get just 20 on nine attempts.
The Wildcats will have almost everything back next year, including a few key components who missed this one. So expectations will be high. That doesn't ensure anything. It just means they won't be satisfied with getting this far again.
Widener 28, Salisbury 7: The Pride is 11-0 for the fourth time in program history. The others were 1980, 1981 (when Bill Manlove won his second national title in 4 years) and 2001, which was the last time they were in the quarterfinals (for Bill Zwann, now at West Chester).
Under third-year coach Issac Collins, the ninth-ranked Pride has tied a school record with 14 consecutive home wins. But now it has to go on the road, to face top seed and fellow unbeaten Mount Union, which of course either seems to win the whole thing or get to the final just about every year.
The Purple Raiders have won their last 66 in Alliance, Ohio. They just beat Johns Hopkins there, 55-13, as Jasper Collins tied a D-III postseason record with five TD catches from that level's top-rated QB, Kevin Burke. This is the 21st straight year that Mount Union, the three-time defending runner-up, has made it this far. But it hasn't hoisted a trophy since 2008.
Widener got 273 all-purpose yards from Davis. Chris Haupt threw for 347 and two scores. It led 14-0 at the half, on two second-quarter TDs, and added two more in the fourth. Salisbury (9-3) didn't get in the end zone until late.
COMPUTERS NOT NEEDED
For a change, there won't be any insanity next week. Or any need for BCS standings, really. And to think that just a few weeks ago, a lot of folks were predicting mass chaos. Forget about it. Oh, you might hear some mild protests from Florida or Oregon. Maybe even Kansas State. OK, maybe not. Heck, even Ohio State is going to have a tough time at this point trying to claim half a national title, even if a one-loss SEC team winds up winning the BCS title game.
Right now it's pretty simple. Thanks, of course, to Notre Dame putting the finishing touches on an improbable unbeaten season, its first since 1988, 22-13 at Southern Cal, which was playing without quarterback Matt Barkley (shoulder). And it was probably only fitting that ND's defense, and potential Heisman Trophy winner Manti Te'o, came up with a late goal-line stand to at least prevent USC from at least creating some drama.
So the Fighting Irish will be in Miami for the Jan. 7 final. And they'll be an underdog, no matter who they're playing. The rumor is they still will show up and give it a go. This Saturday in Atlanta, defending champ Alabama and Georgia, who both won easy in rivalry games at home, will decide who will make it to South Beach as well. Bama is going for a third ring in 4 years, which is rarified territory. Georgia hasn't hoisted the ultimate trophy since Herschel Walker took them there in 1980, when the Dawgs capped things off by beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.
And didn't we keep trying to tell you that this stuff usually sorts itself out if you just give it enough time? So who needs a playoff when you have a semifinal right in front of you?
Alabama is 3-4 in SEC finals. It played in four of the first five. Its last appearance was 2009. This is the first time it will face somebody other than Florida.
Georgia is 2-1. It lost last year to LSU, 42-10, after leading early. It won in 2002 and '05, both convincingly. These teams haven't played since 2008. You think the Irish will be watching?
What were the chances when Silas Redd opted to leave Penn State play for preseason No. 1 USC that the Lions would finish with a better record? Funny how that works out sometimes.
DID YOU NOTICE?
* Ohio State finished with a perfect record for the sixth time.
* Auburn failed to win an SEC game for the first time. At 3-9 it also completed the worst season for any team within 2 years of winning a national title. The only time it lost by more to Alabama was 1948 (55-0).
* Tennessee beat Kentucky, to avoid its first winless SEC season.
* Vanderbilt has a six-game win streak for the first time in 57 years.
* Utah State, which won 10 games for the first time, won its first conference title (WAC) in 76 years.
* Wisconsin's Montee Ball set an NCAA record with his 79th career TD, moving past Miami of Ohio's Travis Prentice, who'd owned the mark since 1999.
* Texas A&M has won 10 for the first time since 1998.
* Stanford has won 10 in three straight seasons for the first time.
* South Carolina won 10 wins in two consecutive seasons for the first time.
* Lou Groza Award finalist Trey Farquhar kicked his 11th career field goal of 50 yards or more for Idaho (1-11), which will host Temple next year.
* San Jose has 10 wins for the first time since 1987.
* There are 71 bowl eligible teams, for 70 spots.
MIKE KERN'S TOP 10
1. Notre Dame (12-0). Beat Southern Cal, 22-13. Irish Nation will love South Beach. Next: BCS title game, Jan. 7 in Miami.
2. Alabama (11-1). Beat Auburn, 49-0. Hasn't played Georgia since 2008. Saturday: SEC title game, in Atlanta, vs. Georgia.
3. Georgia (11-1). Beat Georgia Tech, 42-10. Hasn't beaten Alabama since 2007. Saturday: vs. Alabama, in Atlanta, SEC title game.
4. Florida (11-1). Beat Florida State, 37-26. More good wins than anyone. Next: Bowl game to be determined.
5. Oregon (11-1). Beat Oregon State, 48-24. Wonder how Chip Kelly feels about cheesesteaks. Next: Bowl TBD.
6. Ohio State (12-0). Beat Michigan, 26-21. Wonder what Urban does for an encore. Next: Aug. 31, 2013, vs. Buffalo.
7. Kansas State (10-1). Idle. Maybe Wildcats can play Oregon in the Almost Bowl. Saturday: vs. Texas.
8. Louisiana State (10-2). Beat Arkansas, 20-13. Wonder how Tyrann Mathieu's doing. Next: Bowl TBD.
9. Texas A&M (10-2). Beat Missouri, 59-29. Too bad Johnny Football didn't play that well against Florida and LSU, both at home. Next: Bowl TBD.
10. South Carolina (10-2). Beat Clemson, 27-17. Think the old ball coach will chirp a little. Next: Bowl TBD.
10a. Stanford (10-2). Beat UCLA, 35-17. Only losses by four at Washington and at Notre Dame in OT. Saturday: vs. UCLA in PAC-12 title game.
Florida State: Can't be giving up 24 fourth-quarter points at home in your rival game.
Clemson: Can't be scoring three second-half points at home against your big nemesis. Not a good day for ACC.
Rutgers: Shouldn't be scoring three points at Pitt.
Louisville: Can't be losing at home in 3 OTs to a team that has scored three second-half points in last six games. Not a good day for Big East, either.
Michigan State: For having to win at Minnesota just to get bowl eligible. Yuck.
Dishonorable mention: Nevada-Las Vegas. I know nobody cares, but nobody should be losing by 38 at Hawaii.