EAST LANSING, MICH. Notre Dame looked beaten, and Michigan State looked unstoppable.
Then, in a stunning turn of events, cornerback Terrail Lambert capped a furious rally by returning an interception 27 yards for a touchdown with 2:53 remaining to give the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish a 40-37 victory over the Spartans on Saturday night.
The loss stunned Michigan State (3-1) and its pumped-up fans, who remained in the stands despite heavy rain in the second half, convinced they were going to see the Spartans beat the Irish (3-1) for the eighth time in 10 games.
But it wasn't to be.
Lambert made sure of that, following up his score by ending the Spartans' hopes moments later with a juggling interception of Drew Stanton's pass in the closing seconds of the game.
"Late in the game, I made some stupid mistakes," Stanton said.
No. 1 Ohio State 28, No. 24 Penn State 6
Columbus, Ohio - Troy Smith threw a 37-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter, then Malcolm Jenkins and Antonio Smith returned interceptions for touchdowns for the Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten).
No. 2 Auburn 37, Buffalo 7
Auburn, Ala. - Backup tailbacks Brad Lester and Ben Tate rushed for two touchdowns apiece, and the Tigers (4-0) used a late surge to win.
No. 3 USC 20, Arizona 3
Tucson, Ariz. - The Trojans (3-0, 1-0 Pac-10) shook off a three-point first half and defeated Arizona with a smothering defense.
No. 4 West Virginia 27, East Carolina 10
Greenville, N.C. - Patrick White threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and the Mountaineers (4-0) pulled away in the fourth quarter.
No. 5 Florida 26, Kentucky 7
Gainesville, Fla. - Chris Leak threw two touchdown passes, DeShawn Wynn had a second consecutive 100-yard game, and the Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) defeated the Wildcats for the 20th consecutive time.
No. 6 Michigan 27, Wisconsin 13
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Mario Manningham's second touchdown catch put the Wolverines (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) ahead late in the third quarter, and Mike Hart added a score.
No. 10 LSU 49, Tulane 7
Baton Rouge, La. - Early Doucet caught two touchdown passes and ran for a third score as the Tigers (3-1) jumped out to a big early lead and knocked Tulane quarterback Lester Ricard out of the game late in the first half.
No. 11 Virginia Tech 29, Cincinnati 13
Blacksburg, Va. - Branden Ore ran for 170 yards and a touchdown, and the Hokies (4-0) overcame a sluggish first half.
No. 14 Iowa 24, Illinois 7
Champaign, Ill. - Drew Tate passed for 190 yards, and the Hawkeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) scored three touchdowns late in the second quarter to put the game away and hold off the pesky Illini.
No. 15 Tennessee 33, Marshall 7
Knoxville, Tenn. - LaMarcus Coker ran 89 yards for a touchdown, and Montario Hardesty added a 20-yard scoring run for the Vols (3-1).
No. 18 Florida State 55, Rice 7
Tallahassee, Fla. - Antone Smith ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and Lorenzo Booker added 115 yards in a game the Seminoles (3-1) played before one of the smallest home crowds in years.
No. 19 Clemson 52, North Carolina 7
Clemson, S.C. - James Davis had four of the Tigers' seven rushing touchdowns on a day Clemson (3-1, 2-1 ACC) honored its 1981 national championship team.
N.C. State 17, No. 20 Boston College 15
Raleigh, N.C. - Daniel Evans threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to John Dunlap with 8.5 seconds left to cap a stunning comeback for the Wolfpack (2-2, 1-0 ACC).
No. 21 California 49, No. 22 Arizona State 21
Berkeley, Calif. - DeSean Jackson caught one of Nate Longshore's four touchdown passes and returned a punt 80 yards for a score as the Bears (3-1, 1-0 Pac-10) topped the Sun Devils (3-1, 0-1) in a conference shootout.
No. 25 Boise State 41, Hawaii 34
Boise, Idaho - Jared Zabransky threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns, and Ian Johnson ran for 178 yards and two scores to help the Broncos (4-0) hold off Hawaii.