Blacksburg, Va. — Kelly Bryant left Virginia Tech defenders grasping at air, laying on the ground and wondering how they’d missed him.
And they missed him plenty, and No. 2 Clemson has three victories against Top 25 programs engineered by its new quarterback.
“When we got here, I could sense the energy and the excitement,” Bryant said. “The coaches did a great job of preparing us.”
Making just his fifth start, the junior ran for 94 yards, hit Tavien Feaster with a pass the speedy running back took 60 yards for a score and avoided mistakes as the Tigers beat the No. 12 Hokies 31-17 in a game that the Tigers had control of seemingly throughout.
He also might have reminded some of Deshaun Watson when he kept alive a scoring drive after scrambling left on a play that started at the 5, dodging three Hokies, shaking free from an ankle tackle and eventually turning back upfield at the 23. He zig-zagged back to the 4.
“I just have a never quit attitude,” Bryant said. “The guy tackled me by I just kept my legs going and saw the lane and tried to hit it.”
Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster was more impressed by the player than the plays his guys missed.
“What a dynamic kid,” Foster said. “We couldn’t get him on the ground.”
Added Tigers coach Dabo Swinney: “He decided to run 50 yards in a box. Unbelievable.”
The defending national champion Tigers (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have also beaten No. 13 Auburn 14-6 and No. 17 Louisville 47-21 . This triumph was their 12th in a row on the road, and fifth in a row against Virginia Tech, including the 2016 ACC championship.
Virginia Tech (4-1, 0-1) never mustered much offense and got its only touchdown after Isaiah Simmons made an ankle tackle on Greg Stroman’s 43-yard punt return to the Tigers 2. Sean Savoy ran it on the next play, but the Hokies had just 234 yards through three quarters.
“We knew the sledding was going to be difficult no matter what they lined up in,” Fuente said.
Feaster and C.J. Fuller also scored on 1-yard runs for the Tigers, and Dorian O’Daniel returned an interception 22 yards for a TD.
Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson threw two interceptions after throwing 11 touchdown passes and just one interception through four games. He accounted for the final score with a 30-yard pass to Savoy with 1:32 remaining.
(At) No. 1 Alabama 66, Mississippi 3: Jalen Hurts threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score and Alabama let loose on Mississippi, emphatically putting down a problematic foe in recent years with the highest-scoring performance by the Crimson Tide in 11 years under Nick Saban.
Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) had won two of last three meetings with Alabama (5-0, 2-0), scoring 109 points — more than any other Tide opponent over the last three years. The Rebels are the only SEC team to beat the Tide since 2014, and they handed Alabama its only home loss in the past 30 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Tide made it look easy. Hurts hooked up with a wide-open Josh Jacobs down the middle for an 18-yard score early in the second quarter, and then mimicked holstering his finger guns after tossing the TD pass. Hurts tumbled over tacklers on a 10-yard keeper that made it 35-3 at the half.
In the last two weeks, Alabama has outscored Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined 125-3. The 63-point margin was the Tide’s largest since beating Vandy 66-3 in 1979.
No. 6 Washington 42, (at) Oregon State 7: Jake Browning threw three touchdown passes, Myles Gaskin ran for 113 yards and a score and Washington broke open a close game with a 21-point third quarter.
Browning completed 26 of 34 passes for 293 yards and had touchdown passes of 5, 15 and 34 yards to Dante Pettis, who had 12 catches for 105 yards. Browning has accounted for 12 touchdowns, 10 passing, in three career games against Oregon State.
Gaskin ran for a third-quarter touchdown of 32 yards, and had 15 carries in posting his second consecutive 100-plus-yard game for Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12). The Huskies finished with 509 yards after struggling to get going initially.
Washington’s defense was smothering, holding Oregon State (1-4, 0-2) to 184 yards and eight first downs. The Beavers didn’t cross Washington’s 45 until the final six minutes.
No. 7 Georgia 41, (at) Tennessee 0: Jake Fromm threw a touchdown pass and ran for two more scores Saturday and Georgia handed Tennessee its first shutout in nearly a quarter-century.
Nick Chubb added 109 yards rushing to help Georgia race to its first 5-0 start since 2012, the last year the Bulldogs reached the Southeastern Conference championship game. They are 2-0 in conference play.
Tennessee (3-2, 0-2) was shut out for the first time since a 31-0 loss to Florida in 1994.
The Bulldogs got more good news in the fourth quarter when quarterback Jacob Eason made his first appearance since spraining his left knee in the season opener. Fromm was 7 of 15 for 84 yards and also rushed for 20 yards before giving way to Eason with the game well in hand.
(At) No. 13 Auburn 49, No. 24 Mississippi State 10: Jarrett Stidham passed for 264 yards and two touchdowns, and Kerryon Johnson ran for three scores for Auburn.
The Tigers (4-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) established themselves as the most likely challenger to No. 1 Alabama in the Western Division with an explosive offensive performance. The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) have lost two straight lopsided games since blowing out LSU.
Stidham launched a handful of deep balls for Auburn, including a 47-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Will Hastings and a 57-yarder to Eli Stove from his own end zone. He wound up 13-of-16 passing.
Johnson gained 116 yards, including an early 59-yarder, in a strong follow-up to his five-touchdown effort in a 51-14 romp over Missouri. Backup quarterback Malik Willis got into the act with a 67-yard run in the final minutes, thrilling the smattering of fans still remaining.
No. 15 Oklahoma State 41, (at) Texas Tech 34: Quarterback Mason Rudolph ran 16 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes and Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech.
Rudolph’s second rushing score came after three TD tosses as the Cowboys (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) bounced back from a home loss to ninth-ranked TCU and avoided a second early conference loss in their pursuit of the revived Big 12 championship game.
Oklahoma State held the Red Raiders (3-1, 0-1) to 384 yards, about 200 yards below the third-best average in the county coming in, and stopped Texas Tech after Matt Ammendola missed an 18-yard field goal that would have given the Cowboys the lead with 5:30 remaining.
Rudolph led Oklahoma State’s 79-yard drive to the decisive score. Marcell Ateman made a jump-ball catch over Octavious Morgan for 26 yards on third down. Two plays later, Rudolph faked a handoff and ran untouched to the right corner of the end zone with 1:12 remaining.
(At) No. 17 Louisville 55, Murray State 10: Lamar Jackson had a short but productive day, throwing for 249 yards and three touchdowns in just over a half for Louisville.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, who had just one play after halftime, added 100 yards rushing and a TD on seven carries. He’s 13 yards short of becoming the seventh player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to reach 10,000 total career yards.
Jawon Pass stepped in after Jackson’s day ended, throwing for 115 yards and one touchdown and added another TD on the ground with 29 seconds left. The two completed passes to 14 players as the Cardinals totaled 364 yards through the air. Louisville (4-1) rolled up 312 yards on the ground.
Murray State dropped to 1-4.
No. 18 South Florida 61, (at) East Carolina 31: Quinton Flowers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, and South Florida extended its school-record winning streak to 10.
D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns, receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling took an end-around 75 yards for a touchdown and caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Flowers, and Auggie Sanchez returned an interception 43 yards for a TD.
The Bulls (5-0, 2-0 American) overcame some rare struggles on defense and remained perfect under first-year coach Charlie Strong by scoring on 10 of the 12 possessions with the starting offense. USF outscored the Pirates (1-4, 1-1) 30-7 in the second half.
(At) No. 19 San Diego State 34, Northern Illinois 28: Juwan Washington brought back the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and freshman Tariq Thompson had two interceptions — including an 83-yard TD return — as the Aztecs went to 5-0 for the first time since 1975.
The Aztecs took a 31-14 halftime lead and had to hold on after NIU (2-2) closed to 31-28 in the third quarter. Daniel Santacaterina threw his third TD pass of the night, an 81-yarder to Spencer Tears, on the second play of the quarter, and Marcus Childers scored on a 1-yard run.
(At) No. 21 Florida 38, Vanderbilt 24: Lamical Perine scored three touchdowns, Malik Davis added two and Florida beat Vanderbilt despite losing quarterback Luke Del Rio for the season with a broken left collarbone.
Coach Jim McElwain says Del Rio will have season-ending surgery Monday. It’s the second straight year Del Rio failed to make it through the season uninjured.
Perine bookended two 1-yard plunges around a 13-yard scamper to help the Gators (3-1, 3-0) beat the Commodores (3-2, 0-2) for the 26th time in the last 27 meetings.
Perine, a cousin of former Oklahoma and current Washington Redskins running back Samaje Perine, finished with 58 yards on 15 carries. Davis, a freshman, ran 17 times for 124 yards.
(At) No. 22 Notre Dame 52, Miami (Ohio) 17: Brandon Wimbush threw for three touchdowns and ran for another and Notre Dame beat Miami (Ohio) for the 900th victory in school history.
Josh Adams added touchdown runs of 72 and 59 yards in the first half before leaving with an injury to his left leg. Adams, who entered the game as the No. 9 rusher in the country, still led the Irish (4-1) with 159 yards on the ground despite the short night.
Wimbush, who had his eighth rushing touchdown of the season in the first quarter, finished with 119 passing yards in three quarters and had 36 yards on 11 carries.
The Irish led the RedHawks (2-3) 45-14 at the half, the most first-half points scored by an Irish team under coach Brian Kelly. It was only the second meeting between the Irish and the RedHawks (2-3), two teams that were coached by late Hall of Famer Ara Parseghian.
Troy 24, (at) No. 25 LSU 21: Jordan Chunn ran for 191 yards and a touchdown, Troy’s defense forced four turnovers and the surging Trojans upset LSU.
Troy, which celebrated wildly with traveling fans in largely empty Tiger Stadium as time ran out, became the first team from outside the Southeastern Conference to win in LSU’s Death Valley since UAB in 2000. They snapped the Tigers’ streak of 49 straight home victories over non-league opponents.
Although the Tigers (3-2) were three-touchdown favorites, the result wasn’t entirely unfathomable. LSU had looked vulnerable in a tense victory over Syracuse a week earlier, while Troy came in on a three-game winning streak and is among the favorites to win the Sun Belt Conference after a 10-victory 2016 campaign.
Troy (4-1) raced to leads of 17-0 and 24-7 before Danny Etling’s fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Russell Gage and Foster Moreau got LSU as close as a field goal with 1:59 left. But after failing to recover an onside kick, LSU had only 23 seconds to get into field goal range, and any hope of that ended when Blace Brown intercepted Etling’s pass on the Troy 42 with 11 seconds to go.