Top 25 roundup: Mississippi State beats No. 2 Auburn
Starkville, Miss. — Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen grinned broadly as he walked off the field, pumping his fist with one arm while holding his daughter Breelyn in the other. The deafening roar of the crowd's trademark cowbells showered the field and the players danced around in celebration.
The biggest home game in Mississippi State history had just turned into its biggest victory.
Dak Prescott ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead No. 3 Mississippi State over No. 2 Auburn 38-23 on Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium.
Prescott, who jumped into the Heisman Trophy conversation last weekend with a breakout game against Texas A&M, turned in another solid performance. He completed 18 of 34 passes for 246 yards while running for 121 yards.
He also had lots of help. Josh Robinson ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns, De'Runnya Wilson caught four passes for 72 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch, and the Bulldogs defense bailed out the offense with red zone stops following turnovers.
"Every time we needed to make a play, a guy stepped up and made a play," Mullen said. "We always wondered how to take the next step in this league … that's it."
Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) has won nine straight games going back to last season. Auburn (5-1, 2-1), the defending SEC champion, lost for the first time since last season's national championship game.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a stunning 21-0 lead in the first nine minutes — helped by two Auburn turnovers on its first two offensive plays — but the Tigers pulled within 28-20 in the third quarter. They couldn't complete the comeback, though, undone by Ricardo Louis' fumble in the fourth quarter, untimely penalties and an inconsistent offense.
Auburn's Nick Marshall threw for 209 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while running for 100 yards.
Mississippi State won despite committing four turnovers. Auburn also had four turnovers.
"We have to learn from this," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "We had a similar setback to this last year. There are a lot of champions in that locker room. They are disappointed and they should be."
The Bulldogs will find out on Sunday if the victory was enough to jump Florida State and earn the first No. 1 national ranking in school history. Florida State defeated Syracuse 38-20 on Saturday.
It was Prescott's first game since a breakout performance against Texas A&M. For the most part, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior handled the increased scrutiny well, making plays with both his arm and feet.
Auburn couldn't overcome an awful start.
The Tigers' first offensive play was a Marshall pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Jay Hughes. The second was a fumble by receiver D'haquille Williams that was recovered by Benardrick McKinney.
Mississippi State turned them both into touchdowns.
A few minutes later, Prescott rumbled into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown and the Bulldogs — who were hosting their first game between top five teams in school history — had a three-touchdown advantage.
But then it was Mississippi State's turn to start committing turnovers, with four before halftime. The Bulldogs threw three interceptions — including one by Logan Cooke on an ill-fated fake punt — and Jamoral Graham fumbled on a punt return.
Mississippi State's defense did the job despite Auburn's good field position. The Bulldogs held Auburn to two field goals before Marshall completed a 9-yard pass to Williams to pull the Tigers within 21-13.
That quieted the cowbells for a few minutes, but they roared again late in the second quarter when Prescott ran for a 15-yard touchdown and a 28-13 lead.
Mississippi State defensive lineman Preston Smith said the school-record crowd of 62,945 played a big factor.
"There was one point where I couldn't even hear myself think," Smith said. "But that's OK. I know if I can't hear myself think, they can't either. And they're the ones calling the plays."
Auburn pulled within 28-20 on an impressive 10-play, 99-yard touchdown drive midway through the third quarter that was capped by Marshall's 15-yard throw to Williams for the score.
Williams caught six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
The game started in the heat and sunshine, but it was raining by halftime. Marshall's passes started sailing high in the second half and he completed just 17 of 35.
Mississippi State went ahead 31-20 on a 21-yard field goal with 11:33 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, Louis fumbled and the Bulldogs recovered. Two plays later, Robinson ran for a 1-yard touchdown and the celebration began in Starkville.
No. 1 Florida State 38, (at) Syracuse 20: With more distractions swirling around him, Jameis Winston was nearly flawless, throwing for 317 yards and three touchdowns. Mario Pender scored twice. Florida State (6-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won a school-record 22 straight, the longest streak in the nation, and 19 in a row in the conference.
The Orange (2-4, 0-2 ACC) lost their fourth straight, again saddled by too many failures in the red zone, scoring one touchdown in four trips inside the Florida State 20 behind two rookie quarterbacks who combined to throw three interceptions.
No. 3 Mississippi 35, (at) No. 14 Texas A&M 20: Bo Wallace ran for two scores and threw a touchdown pass and Mississippi's defense added two scores to help the Rebels remain undefeated. Wallace gave Mississippi (6-0, 3-0 SEC) an early lead with touchdown runs on consecutive possessions in the first quarter. Cody Prewitt returned an interception 75 yards for a score in the second quarter to make it 21-0.
A&M (5-2, 2-2) cut it to 14 in the third quarter, but Wallace answered with 33-yard touchdown pass and Mississippi padded the lead with a fumble return for a TD early in the fourth quarter.
(At) No. 5 Baylor 61, No. 9 TCU 58: Chris Callahan kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired and Baylor wiped out a 21-point deficit in the final 11 minutes. Bryce Petty threw six touchdown passes for the Bears (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), including a 25-yarder to Corey Coleman with 4:42 left in the fourth that tied it at 58. Petty passed for 510 yards and threw two interceptions.
TCU moved to midfield and faced fourth-and-3 from the Baylor 45 with 1:17 left in the fourth. Instead of punting, the Horned Frogs elected to try to keep the ball and end it in regulation.
Trevone Boykin tossed a sideline fade toward Josh Doctson that the receiver couldn't come up with. TCU was looking for a pass interference call but didn't get it and Baylor took over with 1:11 left.
No. 7 Alabama 14, (at) Arkansas 13: Blake Sims threw two touchdown passes and Alabama narrowly avoided its second straight Southeastern Conference loss. The Crimson Tide (5-1, 2-1 SEC), a week after a 23-17 loss at Mississippi, struggled for much of the game — fumbling four times.
However, despite being outgained 335-227, Sims put Alabama up with a 6-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.
Alabama hasn't lost two straight SEC games since the 2007 season, Nick Saban's first as coach.
The loss is the 15th straight in SEC play for the Razorbacks (3-3, 0-3), who have yet to win a conference game under second-year coach Bret Bielema.
USC 28, (at) No. 10 Arizona 26: Javorius Allen ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns, and Southern California survived a last-second field goal try.
USC (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) left the Coliseum defeated and deflated a week ago after losing to Arizona State on a Hail Mary. The Trojans were headed toward another stinging loss after Jared Baker scored on a 1-yard with 1:07 left and Caleb Jones recovered the onside kick.
With the crowd roaring for another improbable victory, the Wildcats came up short when Casey Skowron missed his third field goal of the night, a 36-yarder that sailed wide right with 17 seconds left.
Arizona (5-1, 2-1) struggled with red-zone issues in the first half before mounting their comeback. Baker scored all three of his touchdowns in the second half, but was stuffed by USC's Leonard Williams on the 2-point try before the final flurry.
No. 11 Oklahoma 31, Texas 26: At Dallas, Alex Ross had a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Zack Sanchez scored on a 43-yard interception return and Oklahoma held on. Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) used those big returns to go ahead to stay despite only 29 total yards in the first half. Trevor Knight threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard and Samaje Perine had a 13-yard TD run in the final 20 minutes.
Tyrone Swoopes threw his second touchdown pass to John Harris and ran 12 yards for a score for the Longhorns (2-4, 1-2) in a span of 3½ minutes in the fourth quarter.
No. 12 Oregon 42, (at) No. 18 UCLA 30: Marcus Mariota ran for two touchdowns and passed for 210 yards and two more scores as Oregon rebounded from its first loss. Royce Freeman rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns for the Ducks (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12), who haven't lost consecutive games since 2007. Thomas Tyner and Pharaoh Brown caught TD passes as Oregon built a 42-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
A week after a 31-24 home loss to Arizona, Oregon had little trouble in its sixth straight win over the Bruins (4-2, 1-2), who are probably out of the national title race after back-to-back defeats.
No. 13 Georgia 34, (at) No. 23 Missouri 0: Hunter Mason completed 22 of 28 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown and ran for another as Georgia shut out Missouri in the Bulldogs' first game without suspended star Todd Gurley. Freshman Nick Chubb rushed 38 times for 143 yards and one touchdown as Georgia (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) wore down the Tigers (4-2, 1-1) early. The team possessed the ball for more than 42 minutes, gaining 379 total yards on 87 plays.
No. 16 Oklahoma State 27, (at) Kansas 20: Tyreek Hill returned a kickoff 99 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, Daxx Garman threw for 161 yards with a touchdown an interception, and Desmond Roland ran for 87 yards and another score as the Cowboys (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) were nearly caught looking ahead to next week's showdown with ninth-ranked TCU.
Michael Cummings threw for 288 yards and ran for a touchdown in his first start for Kansas (2-4, 0-3) since 2012. Corey Avery also ran for a score for the Jayhawks.
No. 19 East Carolina 28, (at) South Florida 17: Shane Carden led three long second-half touchdown drives and East Carolina shrugged off a slow start. The Pirates (5-1, 2-0) overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to remain unbeaten in American Athletic Conference play and are off to their best start since 1999.
USF (2-4, 1-1) faded in the second half against a ranked team for the second straight game. The Bulls were tied 3-3 at the half before losing 27-10 at Wisconsin.
Duke 31, (at) No. 22 Georgia Tech 25: Anthony Boone threw for 123 yards and a touchdown, Josh Sneed rushed for 102 yards and score, and Duke snapped a 10-year losing streak against Georgia Tech. Backup quarterback Thomas Sirk had a couple of short TD runs for the Blue Devils (5-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won in Atlanta for the first time since 1994 and showed they aren't going to give up their Coastal Division title without a fight.
With a week off to prepare for the triple-option offense, Duke took advantage of three huge second-half turnovers by the Yellow Jackets (5-1, 2-1).