Top 25 roundup: Watson TDs lift No. 5 Clemson over Louisville
Clemson, S.C. — Deshaun Watson threw for five touchdowns, including two in the final seven minutes, as No. 5 Clemson rallied for a 42-36 victory over No. 3 Louisville after the Tigers lost an 18-point lead to Lamar Jackson and the high-flying Cardinals on Saturday night.
The Tigers (5-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) looked like they had this one wrapped up before halftime, scoring four TDs in the second quarter to lead 28-10 at the break. Then “Action” Jackson got moving and the Cardinals (4-1, 2-1) scored on five consecutive possessions to take a 36-28 lead with 7:50 left.
Artavis Scott began Clemson’s comeback with a 77-yard kickoff return and Watson found Mike Williams for a 20-yard scoring pass two plays later. Clemson forced Louisville to punt for the only time in the second half and Watson guided the game-winning drive, ending on a 31-yard TD catch by Jordan Leggett.
Jackson had one last surge, leading Louisville to Clemson’s 9. But James Quick was knocked out of bounds by safety Van Smith on fourth down with 33 seconds left to seal the win.
“We came up a yard short,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.
Watson had his errors — a career-high three interceptions and a fumble — but in the end found a way to succeed with 306 yards on 20-of-31 passing.
“It just shows even with the hiccups how good we are and how good we can be,” Watson said. “We found a way how to handle adversity.”
The Tigers have won 19 straight games at home, a streak that began after they lost their last top-five showdown — when No. 5 Florida State defeated No. 3 Clemson 51-14 in 2013. In that one, Jameis Winston led a Seminoles rout.
Clemson made sure Jackson would not pull off another one.
“A lot of guys picked Louisville,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “Rough night for you.”
(At) No. 1 Alabama 34, Kentucky 6: Jalen Hurts threw two third-quarter touchdown passes to Calvin Ridley, and Ronnie Harrison scored on a 55-yard fumble return as the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) overcame a week full of potential distractions and a slow start to run away from the Wildcats (2-3, 1-2).
The Hurt and Ridley Show took over the second half, hooking up on scoring passes of 10 and 19 yards and plenty in between. Hurts passed for 262 yards, including 173 in the third quarter.
Ridley gained 174 yards on 11 catches, both career-highs.
Freshman tailback Joshua Jacobs rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown in his first start with Kentucky native Damien Harris playing a limited role after spraining his right ankle last week against Kent State.
The performance came two days after star linebacker Tim Williams' arrest on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a pistol without a permit. Williams was suspended for the first half and still had three tackles for loss and a sack.
Backup quarterback Blake Barnett left the team and withdrew from school this week, too.
No. 9 Texas A&M 24, South Carolina 13: The Aggies are 5-0 for the third straight season. In 2014 and 2015, the Aggies (5-0, 3-0 SEC) finished 3-5, but this season, coach Kevin Sumlin sees a team prepared to handle adversity. After all, they overcame having four starters out for injuries and giving up a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage to win a SEC game on the road.
"They settled down after that first play. There was never panic on the sideline. There was never guys pressing — defense keeping us in the game, offense moving the ball in the second half," Sumlin said.
Trevor Knight, who came into the game second in the SEC in total offense, threw for 206 yards and ran for 84 more. After that opening TD run from A.J. Turner, the Aggies allowed just 142 yards over the next three quarters and kept South Carolina (2-3, 1-3) from getting in the end zone again.
No. 11 Tennessee 34, (at) No. 25 Georgia 31: Jauan Jennings hauled in a 43-yard Hail Mary from Joshua Dobbs on the final play, giving the Vols the stunning victory after the Bulldogs appeared to win the game on a long TD pass of their own with 10 seconds remaining.
The Vols (5-0, 2-0 SEC) rallied from a double-digit deficit for the fourth time in five games, but this was their most improbable comeback yet. The SEC East rivals packed a whole game's worth of action into the closing minutes as Tennessee went ahead for the first time all afternoon by recovering a fumble by Georgia (3-2, 1-2) in the end zone with 2:56 to go.
Then, after the Bulldogs threw an interception but got the ball back one more time, Jacob Eason tossed a 47-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman Riley Ridley. With the Sanford Stadium crowd in a frenzy, Tennessee took the kickoff into position to take one shot at the end zone.
Dobbs hurled a towering pass that the 6-foot-3 Jennings didn't really have that much trouble bringing down . He leaped above the scrum to make the catch, and then landed on his back for the score that sent the Tennessee bench charging on the field to celebrate.
North Carolina 37, (at) No. 12 Florida State 35: Nick Weiler made a 54-yard field goal as time expired to lift North Carolina past Florida State, snapping the Seminoles’ 22-game home winning streak.
It was the first field goal make by either team after the kickers combined to miss their first four attempts. Weiler also atoned for a blocked extra point that allowed the Seminoles to take a late lead.
After Florida State took a 35-34 lead with 22 seconds remaining on Deondre Francois 2-yard touchdown run, the Tar Heels were able to drive 38 yards in three plays. They also took advantage of a pass interference call on Tavarus McFadden to get them in range.
It is the second straight week that the Tar Heels (4-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won in the final seconds. Last Saturday, they beat Pittsburgh 37-36 with 2 seconds remaining on Mitch Trubinsky’s touchdown pass.
No. 13 Baylor 45, (at) Iowa State 42: Chris Callahan made a 19-yard field goal as time expired to lift Baylor past Iowa State.
Down 42-28, the Bears (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) rallied to it with scoring drives of 86 and 84 yards. Seth Russell drove Baylor 83 yards to set up Callahan’s chip shot.
Russell was 12 of 22 for 178 yards. Baylor star receiver KD Cannon missed the game because of a groin injury.
Joel Lanning threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa State (1-4, 0-2). Mike Warren added a season-high 130 yards rushing for the Cyclones. They scored touchdowns on their first six full possessions, but were shut out after that.
No. 14 Miami 35, (at) Georgia Tech 21: Shaquille Quarterman and Joe Jackson returned fumbles by Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas for touchdowns in less than a minute in the second quarter for Miami.
Miami (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 28-7 after the fumble returns of 17 yards by Quarterman and 18 yards by Jackson — both freshmen.
Georgia Tech (3-2, 1-2) drew to 28-21 before Miami’s Brad Kaaya answered with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Stacy Coley late in the third quarter.
Miami won in the Atlantic Coast Conference debut of coach Mark Richt, the former Georgia coach. He improved to 14-0 against Georgia Tech in Atlanta, including an 8-0 record at Georgia and 5-0 as an assistant at Florida State. The win came in Richt’s 200th game as a coach.
(At) No. 16 Mississippi 48, Memphis 28: Chad Kelly threw for 361 yards, Eugene Brazley ran for a career-high 124 yards and two touchdowns and Mississippi pulled away late to beat Memphis.
Ole Miss (3-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the Tigers for a second straight season, but this time held on for the victory. Memphis beat Ole Miss 37-24 last season after falling behind by two touchdowns early.
There would be no such comeback Saturday. Memphis (3-1) made this one interesting for a while, but couldn’t keep up with the Rebels’ high-scoring offense.
(At) California 28, No. 18 Utah 23: Davis Webb threw four touchdown passes and California stopped Zach Moss from the 1-yard line on the final play to win its second straight matchup against a ranked opponent.
Webb threw for 306 yards and connected on a pair of scoring strikes to Chad Hansen and Demetris Robertson to lead the Golden Bears (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12).
But it was the defense that sealed the win, stopping the Utes (4-1, 1-1) on three plays inside the 2 in the closing seconds. James Looney wrapped up Moss just short of the goal line on the final play to set off a celebration. Cal had lost 11 straight games against ranked opponents before beating then-No. 11 Texas 50-43 at home two weeks ago.
(At) South Alabama 42, No. 19 San Diego State 24: Cole Garvin threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns for South Alabama.
Garvin, the sophomore Marshall transfer starting in place of injured Dallas Davis, threw touchdown passes of 37 yards to Kevin Kutchera, 79 yards to tight end Gerald Everett, and 6 yards to Josh McGee.
San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey ran for 156 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He broke 100 yards rushing for the 25th time and went over 5,000 yards to become the Mountain West’s career leader.
South Alabama improved to 3-2, and San Diego State dropped to 3-1.
(At) No. 20 Arkansas 52, Alcorn State 10: Austin Allen completed 13 of 18 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns to help Arkansas win for the 10th time in 12 games.
Following a loss to No. 9 Texas A&M last week, the Razorbacks (4-1) led 24-0 after the first quarter and had few struggles afterward against the Football Championship Subdivision Braves (1-3).
Devwah Whaley ran for a career-high 135 yards on nine carries, and Rawleigh Williams added 126 yards on 13 carries. Jared Cornelius had two touchdown catches and finished with four receptions for 106 yards.
Oklahoma 52, (at) No. 21 TCU 46: Baker Mayfield made up for two lost fumbles with four touchdowns, running for two and throwing two to Dede Westbrook, and Oklahoma held on to win its Big 12 opener.
After giving up 21 points in the first quarter for the first time in 20 years, the Sooners (2-2) went ahead to stay with 28 consecutive points in the second quarter. Westbrook was wide open on a flea flicker for a 67-yard touchdown that put Oklahoma up 28-21, and Mayfield then hit in him stride again for a 40-yard score.
Mayfield was facing TCU for the first time since saying before the Orange Bowl last year that TCU was the team that disappointed him the most in recruiting, and claiming the Horned Frogs “kind of drug it out” without offering a scholarship while he turned down other offers.
TCU coach Gary Patterson and Mayfield both insisted this week all that was in the past, with Mayfield even saying things were blown out of proportion. But when they were the same field, the Sooners junior quarterback was 23-of-30 passing for 274 yards, and ran 12 times for 55 yards.
Kenny Hill threw for 449 yards and five touchdowns for the Frogs (3-2, 1-1 Big 12), including scoring strikes of 64 and 74 yards to Taj Williams in the fourth quarter, the later ending a stretch of 22 consecutive points for the Frogs that got them to 49-46. Williams had five catches for 210 yards.
(At) Oklahoma State 49, No. 22 Texas 31: Mason Rudolph threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns, and Justice Hill ran for a 135 yards and a score for Oklahoma State.
Jalen McCleskey added 109 yards and two touchdowns receiving for the Cowboys (3-2, 1-1 Big 12). They had lost eight straight home games against the Longhorns (2-2, 0-1).
Oklahoma State blocked three extra points in the first half, matching a school record for blocked kicks in a game. On the first one, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor came up the middle for the block, picked up the ball and ran with it before delivering a perfect option-style pitch to Tre Flowers in stride. Flowers took it into the end zone for two points and a 16-13 lead.
Oklahoma State receiver James Washington was knocked out of the game in the third quarter on a hit to the head from linebacker Malcolm Roach. Washington had three catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Texas’ Chris Warren III missed the second half with a knee injury after running for 106 yards on 10 carries. D’Onta Foreman left in the third quarter with an abdominal injury after rumbling for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
No. 23 Florida 13, (at) Vanderbilt 6: Jordan Scarlett had a 4-yard touchdown run and Eddy Pineiro made two field in Florida’s victory.
Florida (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) came up with two interceptions and two sacks on a day where the defense otherwise struggled against one of the nation’s worst offenses with three starting linemen missing most of the game.
Ralph Webb ran for 110 yards as Vanderbilt outgained Florida 265-236 in total offense. The Commodores (2-3, 0-2) had a final chance to force overtime, but Nick Washington intercepted Wade Freebeck’s pass with 54 seconds left.
(At) No. 24 Boise State 21, Utah State 10: Jeremy McNichols accounted for 226 all-purpose yards, including 132 yards rushing and a 61-yard touchdown reception, to lead No. 24 Boise State over Utah State.
Boise State (4-0, 1-0) led 7-3 at halftime before taking control in the second half with a pair of touchdown passes by Brett Rypien and a stout defensive performance.
McNichols, who was named the Mountain West Conference offensive player of the week for his performance against Oregon State, continued to power the Broncos.
His 61-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Cedric Wilson gave Boise State a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, Boise State turned to McNichols to grind out the clock and secure the victory.
Utah State (2-3, 0-2) didn’t get the help it received last season in a 52-26 victory over the Broncos when Boise State committed eight turnovers.