Memphis, Tenn. — Paxton Lynch and the upstart Memphis Tigers showed that their high-scoring offense can work against anybody.
Even a nationally ranked opponent from the mighty Southeastern Conference.
Lynch threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns to lead Memphis over No. 13 Mississippi 37-24 in a convincing victory that showed the Tigers might just be the best team in the country that isn’t in a Power Five conference.
Memphis (6-0) has won 13 straight games dating back to last season, which is the third longest streak in the nation. It was the first win for the Tigers over a ranked opponent since 1996.
Ole Miss (5-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game — partly thanks to a 68-yard touchdown pass by receiver Laquon Treadwell on a trick play — but Memphis responded with 31 unanswered points to take a 31-14 lead early in the third quarter.
“We got down early and there were a couple of long faces on the sideline, but we knew we had to keep plugging away,” Lynch said. “We knew early in the game we were moving the ball on them.”
The rankings may say this game was an upset, but the Tigers didn’t appear overmatched.
The Rebels were able to pull within 31-24 later in the third quarter, but could get no closer. Treadwell caught a school-record 14 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Lynch was superb, doing whatever he wanted against the Rebels’ secondary. He completed 39 of 53 passes, helping the Tigers regroup following the rough start.
It helped that he had plenty of time to throw. When the game was over, jubilant fans poured onto the field to celebrate. Security guarded the goal posts and fans took selfies with players.
Lynch — who else? — was the main attraction.
“I got hit harder in that (postgame) pile than I did the whole game with all those fans smacking me on top of the head,” Lynch said.
Anthony Miller was Lynch’s favorite target, catching 10 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown.
Memphis coach Justin Fuente was pleased with the way his team responded to the early adversity.
“Invariably when you’ve got a young, inexperienced team, they get out there and try to do more than they’re supposed to,” Fuente said. “They settled down and made some plays.”
Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly completed 33 of 47 passes for 372 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Rebels had some good moments, but a disastrous second quarter proved too much to overcome.
It was an implosion accelerated by two questionable coaching calls.
The first was when Robert Nkemdiche, one of the team’s best defensive players, was injured while running the ball in a short-yardage situation. The team said the 6-foot-5, 296-pounder suffered a concussion and he didn’t return.
The second decision was even more stunning. Freeze opted to stay with his offense on fourth-and-1 even though Ole Miss was at its own 34. Kelly didn’t come close to converting on the run, Memphis took over and scored a touchdown seven plays later to take a 24-14 lead going into halftime.
Memphis pushed its lead to 31-14 in the third quarter before Ole Miss finally righted itself, responding with 10 straight points. But it was too little too late.
Ole Miss has lost two of three since a road victory over Alabama in September.
“You’ve got to give all the credit to Memphis,” Kelly said. “They played hard. They played to the whistle and knew what they were doing.”
Jake Elliott kicked a crucial 42-yard field goal with 9:44 left remaining that gave Memphis a 34-24 lead and halted the Rebels’ momentum. The Tigers later used a clock-chewing drive that lasted more than seven minutes and resulted in another field goal to finish off the victory.
After that, it was time to celebrate for Memphis, which earned arguably its biggest win since beating No. 6 Tennessee 21-17 in 1996. Usually known as a basketball school, the game drew 60,241 fans, which was the most for the Liberty Bowl since 2006.
(At) No. 2 Baylor 62, West Virginia 38: Corey Coleman caught three more touchdowns and second-ranked Baylor won its FBS-best 19th consecutive home game, getting some measure of revenge against West Virginia.
Coleman matched and then broke the single-season school record for touchdown catches, his nation-leading 16 coming halfway through the regular season for the Bears (6-0, 3-0 Big 12). He finished with 10 catches for 199 yards, his fourth consecutive game with multiple touchdowns and his seventh in a row with at least 100 yards receiving.
Seth Russell became the only Baylor quarterback other than Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III in 2011 to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in the same game. Russell had five touchdown passes and ran 14 times for 160 yards with another score.
Skyler Howard threw four touchdown passes for West Virginia (3-3, 0-3).
Baylor’s only regular-season loss last year was 41-27 at West Virginia, and the Bears wound up the first team left out of the initial College Football Playoff.
No. 3 TCU 45, (at) Iowa State 21: Trevone Boykin threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns and TCU rolled to its third road win in four weeks.
Josh Doctson had 190 yards receiving and two TDs for the Horned Frogs (7-0, 4-0 Big 12), who went on a 31-0 run after the first quarter.
Boykin’s 3-yard TD run with 14:36 left put TCU ahead 38-21. Doctson made it a rout with a 42-yard touchdown catch six minutes later.
Sam Richardson had 251 yards passing for Iowa State (2-4, 1-2).
(At) No. 4 Utah 34, Arizona State 18: Travis Wilson threw for 297 yards and two touchdown and Utah held off Arizona State to remain the lone undefeated team in the Pac-12.
Special teams nearly buried the Utes.
Tim White had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put Arizona State on the board in the first quarter. De'Chavon Hayes' 48-yard punt return set up a field goal that gave the Sun Devils a 10-7 lead.
Utah (6-0, 3-0) gave up a safety on a failed trick kickoff return and Arizona State (4-3, 2-2) added three more points on the ensuing possession to take an 18-14 lead.
Devontae Booker's 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave Utah a 21-18 lead. He had 118 yards rushing and two touchdowns
(At) No. 5 Clemson 34, Boston College 17: Deshaun Watson passed for three touchdowns and a season-best 420 yards as Clemson gashed Boston College’s defense. Watson added a rushing touchdown and finished 27-of-41, including touchdowns throws of 21 yards to Zac Brooks, 51 yards to Artavis Scott and 6 yards to Jordan Leggett.
Scott had 10 catches for 162 yards as the Tigers (6-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) put up 532 yards on an Eagles defense that was only allowing 140 a game. Boston College hadn’t allowed so many yards since losing the Independence Bowl to Arizona State after the 2013 season.
True freshman Jeff Smith struggled to move the offense against Clemson’s defense, finishing 7-of-22 for 87 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run in the game’s final two minutes for Boston College (3-4, 0-4).
(At) No. 6 LSU 35, No. 8 Florida 28: Leonard Fournette ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns and Les Miles victimized Florida with a fake field goal for the second time in five years in the battle of unbeatens.
Kicker Trent Domingue’s 16-yard touchdown run on the fake was LSU’s only scoring play of the second half, breaking a 28-all tie in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers’ defense held from there — barely. Florida receiver Antonio Callaway, who had a 72-yard punt return for a score, also had his hands on a long pass to the end zone from Treon Harris in the middle of the fourth quarter, but LSU’s Dwyane Thomas punched it out to prevent a tying touchdown.
Harris, starting for the suspended Will Grier, passed for 271 yards and two touchdowns for Florida (6-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference), with both scoring passes to tight end Jake McGee.
Brandon Harris threw for 202 yards and two scores for LSU (6-0, 4-0).
No. 10 Alabama 41, (at) No. 9 Texas A&M 23: Derrick Henry ran for a career-high 236 yards and two scores and Alabama added a school-record three touchdowns on interception returns.
Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) built a 28-6 lead in the second quarter thanks to 55- and 6-yard touchdown runs by Henry and interception returns of 33 and 93 yards.
Christian Kirk returned a punt 68 yards for a score just before halftime and Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1) added another touchdown on a 3-yard reception by Ricky Seals-Jones after a fumble early in the third to cut it to 28-20.
But Alabama kicked two field goals before Minkah Fitzpatrick’s 55-yard interception return for a score — his second of the day — sealed the victory.
Kyle Allen, who entered the game having thrown 79 passes without an interception, was 20-of-40 for 263 yards with a touchdown and a career-high three interceptions. Freshman Kyler Murray took over for a few possessions and was also picked off.
(At) No. 11 Florida State 41, Louisville 21: Everett Golson threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns as Florida State rallied from a halftime deficit with three third-quarter touchdowns.
Golson gave the Seminoles (6-0, 4-0 ACC) the lead for good with 8:05 remaining in the third as he connected with Kermit Whitfield for a 70-yard touchdown up the right sideline. It is the eighth 300-yard passing game of Golson’s career and his second since transferring to Florida State earlier this summer.
Golson completed passes to seven players, while Whitfield set career highs with nine receptions and 172 yards.
Dalvin Cook had his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season with 163 yards on 22 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Cook has 955 yards through six games, which according to STATS is the most by an ACC running back since 1996. The previous mark was 888 yards by Virginia’s Thomas Jones in 1998.
Lamar Jackson passed for a career-high 307 yards and James Quick had five receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns for Louisville (2-4, 1-2).
No. 19 Oklahoma 55, (at) Kansas State 0: Baker Mayfield threw for five touchdowns as Oklahoma bounced back from its Red River upset to shutout the Wildcats for the first time since 1996.
Kansas State (3-3, 0-3 Big 12) had delivered serious scares to Top 25 opponents each of the last two weeks but Oklahoma set the tone early, taking only 1:04 to score on its opening drive on a 22-yard pass from Mayfield to Sterling Shepard.
The Sooners (5-1, 2-1) took a 35-0 lead into halftime as Mayfield threw for all five of his touchdowns in the first half, including two to Shepard. He finished 20-of-27 for 282 yards.
In the second half, the Sooners tacked on two field goals and a pair of touchdowns, including a 38-interception return by Zack Sanchez.
Joe Mixon finished with 73 yards on 15 carries to lead a Sooners rushing attack that rolled up 232 yards. Mixon also caught three passes for 29 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
Going into Saturday’s game, Kansas State had scored in 234 straight games. The loss to Oklahoma marked the first time the Wildcats have been shut out at home since 1991.