Saturday’s Top 25 roundup: USC field goal surprises Stanford

Associated Press

Stanford, Calif. – — New Southern California coach Steve Sarkisian smiled, pumped his fist and threw his arms in the air as his players jumped around the sideline at Stanford Stadium.

All of the emotions that had been lacking for USC the past few years finally came pouring out on the road, against a rival and in front of a national television audience — sometimes even a bit too much. Few things looked pretty for the Trojans on Saturday except for the final score:

USC 13, Stanford 10.

Andre Heidari kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining, J.R. Tavai forced a fumble to end the Cardinal’s comeback bid and the 14th-ranked Trojans upended No. 13 Stanford in dramatic fashion again.

“I think it says a lot that we can come in against this team, in this environment, and the game not really going our way and not really in our favor, just for whatever reason, and find a way to win,” Sarkisian said.

A game that featured an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sarkisian for standing too close to the field, linebacker Hayes Pullard getting ejected for targeting and athletic director Pat Haden yelling at officials in a weird and wild sideline scene, ended with USC making all the big plays on the field in the closing moments.

With Stanford threatening to tie or take the lead, Tavai came from Kevin Hogan’s blindside to jar the ball loose. Scott Felix recovered at the Trojans’ 26 with 19 seconds to play, sealing Sarkisian’s first major victory at USC (2-0, 1-0) and dealing a major blow to the Cardinal’s chances of a third consecutive Pac-12 title.

“I just heard everybody screaming. I was just running to the sideline. Coaches were hugging me. I guess something good happened,” Tavai said.

Javorius Allen ran for a career-high 154 yards, Nelson Agholor had a career-high nine receptions for 91 yards and Justin Davis ran for a short touchdown to help USC create just enough offense to win at Stanford Stadium for the first time since 2008.

The Trojans had gained 701 yards while running a conference-record 105 plays in a 52-13 win over Fresno State last week. But Stanford (1-1, 0-1) slowed down Cody Kessler and USC’s up-tempo offense most of the afternoon, holding the Trojans to 59 plays.

Stanford outgained USC 413 to 291 yards but couldn’t overcome its own mistakes. The Cardinal committed two turnovers, eight penalties for 68 yards and Jordan Williamson missed two field goals.

The loss ended Stanford’s 17-game home winning streak, which was the longest active streak in the country.

“You got to make field goals. You got to take advantage of field position. We just did not,” Cardinal coach David Shaw said.

Kessler underwent an unspecified procedure on one of his toes this week but showed no effects of the injury. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 135 yards and directed the Trojans when it mattered most.

Sarkisian sent his offense on the field for a fourth-and-5 from the 35 before calling a timeout to go for a field goal at the end of USC’s final drive. Heidari then connected from 53 yards, turned around and gestured at the Trojans faithful in the far corner of the crowd.

Heidari had kicked a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds to play in USC’s 20-17 win over the Cardinal last year in Los Angeles.

“I trusted myself, I trusted the ball, the holder, the snapper. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do what I did last year,” he said.

Stanford still had one last chance to avoid another painful memory.

Hogan completed 22 of 30 passes for 285 yards and put the Cardinal in position to come back before Tavai sprinted from his blindside and forced the fumble to cap an emotional day on the USC sideline.

Pullard was ejected after his hit near the head of Stanford’s Ty Montgomery at the end of a punt return in the third quarter, and Haden was caught by television cameras disputing with officials on the sideline before the fourth quarter.

Haden, who is slated to serve on the new College Football Playoff selection committee the next two years, said somebody from compliance sent him a text message to come down and calm the situation at Sarkisian’s request. He said the incident wasn’t a big deal.

All the theatrics aside, it was the plays on the field that led the Trojans to victory.

USC stuffed Stanford fullback Daniel Marx on fourth-and-1 from the 3-yard line, and Heidari finished off USC’s next drive with a tying 35-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

Hogan had a 28-yard TD pass to Austin Hooper wiped away by a 15-yard penalty on Remound Wright for an illegal block in the back in the fourth quarter. The Cardinal punted from USC’s 32 instead of trying a long field goal.

Fullback Patrick Skov, brother of former standout middle linebacker Shayne Skov, bulldozed through the line from 2 yards out for the first touchdown of his career — and the only one Stanford scored — in the second quarter.

Other Top 25

(At) No. 1 Florida State 37, Citadel 12: Jameis Winston threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns and Florida State set a school record with its 18th consecutive victory. Winston completed 22 of 27 passes and the Seminoles (2-0) scored touchdowns on all four first-half drives and field goals on his two third-quarter drives. The Heisman winner sat down with a 34-0 lead.

(At) No. 2 Alabama 41, Florida Atlantic 0: Blake Sims had 214 passing yards and Jake Coker threw for 202 to lead Alabama past Florida Atlantic in a game halted by lightning. Both schools agreed to end the game with 7:53 left. Sims passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third in his second straight start and didn’t play in the fourth quarter. He was 11-of-13 passing. Coker went 15 of 24 with a touchdown in his first significant action. Amari Cooper had 189 receiving yards and tied DJ Hall’s 8-year-old school record with 13 catches.

No. 4 Oklahoma 52, (at) Tulsa 7: Sterling Shepard had a career-high 177 yards receiving for Oklahoma. Trevor Knight passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score. Alex Ross ran for 90 yards and a touchdown, Keith Ford ran for 87 yards and two scores and Blake Bell, a converted quarterback who now plays tight end, caught his first career touchdown pass for the Sooners (2-0). It was Oklahoma’s sixth straight win overall and eighth in a row in the series against Tulsa. It came with a cost — star cornerback Zack Sanchez left the game in the second quarter after injuring his right shoulder and did not return.

(At) No. 5 Auburn 59, San Jose State 13: Cameron Artis-Payne ran for three touchdowns, all in the first half, for Auburn. Auburn (2-0) had six touchdowns and 358 yards on the ground, including 112 from Artis-Payne. Quarterback Nick Marshall, making his first start of the season, ran for 103 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown on his final drive late in the third quarter.

(At) No. 9 Texas A&M 73, Lamar 3: Kenny Hill threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns in less than three quarters for Texas A&M in front of the largest crowd for a college game in Texas history. It was the first game in the newly renovated and expanded Kyle Field and drew a record crowd of 104,728. There was a lightning delay of 2 hours, 5 minutes.

(At) No. 10 Baylor 70, Northwestern State 6: Baylor backup Seth Russell threw for 438 yards and five touchdowns while playing only the first half, and freshman KD Cannon caught three of those scores. Cannon had TD catches of 50, 81 and 42 yards in the first quarter. He finished with six catches for 223 yards, the second-most in school history even without playing after halftime.

(At) No. 11 UCLA 42, Memphis 35: Brett Hundley passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns, Paul Perkins rushed for two scores and UCLA survived a fourth-quarter scare. Thomas Duarte caught two TD passes and linebacker Myles Jack rushed for his first score of the season for the Bruins (2-0), who barely held off the underdog Tigers (1-1) despite 540 yards of total offense. Memphis safety Fritz Etienne returned an interception 17 yards for the tying score with 13:44 to play moments after Doroland Dorceus’ 40-yard TD run, stunning a Rose Bowl crowd expecting an easy win. But Duarte caught a 33-yard TD pass with 10:52 left, and the Bruins’ defense made three late stops to secure their fourth straight win in a home opener.

(At) No. 12 LSU 56, Sam Houston State 0: Anthony Jennings threw three scoring passes to Travin Dural, running back Leornard Fournette scored his first touchdown, and LSU overwhelmed Sam Houston State. All three of Dural’s catches went for touchdowns, including a 94-yarder on the first offensive play LSU (2-0) ran. Fournette carried 13 times for 92 yards, highlighted by a 40-yard run. The highly hyped freshman struck a Heisman Trophy-like pose after his 4-yard touchdown reception, drawing a stern lecture from coach Les Miles.

No. 15 Mississippi 41, (at) Vanderbilt 3: Bo Wallace threw for 320 yards and a touchdown, and Mississippi routed Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. The Rebels (2-0) have beaten Vanderbilt in Nashville in consecutive seasons after the Commodores (0-2) had won five of the previous six.

No. 17 Arizona State 58, (at) New Mexico 23: Taylor Kelly threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and D.J. Foster rushed for a career-high 216 yards for Arizona State. The Sun Devils (2-0) grabbed a 22-0 first-quarter lead behind rushing touchdowns from Deantre Lewis, Kelly and Kalen Ballage. The Lobos (0-2) pulled to 29-21 with 4:49 left in the second quarter, but Arizona State scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and New Mexico’s only two points in the second half came on a blocked extra point that Brandon Branch returned 98 yards.

No. 20 Kansas State 32, (at) Iowa State 28: Jake Waters ran for an 8-yard touchdown with 1:30 left and 20th-ranked Kansas State rallied past host Iowa State. Waters threw for 239 yards and ran for a career-high 138 yards for the Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 Big 12). They trailed by as much as 28-13 late in the first half before Waters rescued them on a game-winning drive. Waters followed a key 23-yard completion to Tyler Lockett with a 25-yard run with just under two minutes left. Waters then capped an 80-yard drive that took just 1:31 with his second touchdown run of the day.

(At) No. 21 South Carolina 33, East Carolina 23: Mike Davis ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns and South Carolina bounced back from an embarrassing opening-week loss to Texas A&M. The victory was Steve Spurrier’s 200th as a Southeastern Conference coach at Florida and South Carolina. Only Paul “Bear” Bryant with 292 and Vince Dooley with 201 have more.

(At) No. 21 North Carolina 31, San Diego State 27: Tim Scott’s interception in the end zone with 14 seconds left preserved North Carolina’s victory. Marquise Williams threw two second-half touchdown passes and freshman Elijah Hood rushed 2 yards for the go-ahead score with 8:01 left for the Tar Heels (2-0).

(At) No. 23 Clemson 73, South Carolina State 7: Cole Stoudt completed 22 of his 31 passes for 302 yards and Clemson scored its highest point total in 33 years. The Tigers (1-1) gained 735 yards against the outmatched FCS Bulldogs (1-1), who were held to 44 yards. The 73 points were the most scored by the Tigers since an 82-24 win over Wake Forest in 1981 and it was their biggest margin since beating Presbyterian 67-0 in 1957. The Tigers are now 29-0 against FCS teams.

No. 24 Missouri 49, (at) Toledo 24: Maty Mauk threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns, and No. 24 Missouri gave coach Gary Pinkel a win against his former program. Mauk also ran for a touchdown, and the Tigers (2-0) never trailed in what was expected to be a tricky road game against one of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference. Missouri led 35-7 in the third quarter, and the Rockets (1-1) could get no closer than 14 points in the second half. Pinkel coached Toledo from 1991-2000 before taking over at Missouri. He is the winningest coach at both schools.

No. 25 Louisville 66, Murray State 21: Louisville backup quarterback Reggie Bonnafon ran for two touchdowns and passed for another and the Cardinals (2-0) scored on nine straight possessions.