Saturday’s Top 25: Clemson rolls, USC rallies for wild win
Louisville, Ky. — Kelly Bryant had time to read the defense, allowing the Clemson quarterback to make good decisions and crisp throws. Heisman Trophy-winning counterpart Lamar Jackson didn't get that same luxury for Louisville.
That stark difference paid off with a decisive victory for the third-ranked Tigers.
While Clemson held Jackson in check for most of the game, Bryant accounted for three touchdowns as the Tigers routed No. 14 Louisville 47-21 on Saturday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.
Clemson's first-year starting QB completed 22 of 32 passes for 316 yards, all career highs. Bryant also rushed for 26 yards including an 8-yard TD to get the defending national champions started; they never let up against the 2016 Heisman winner.
"All I was trying to do was do my job. Nothing more, nothing less," said Bryant, who also rushed for a 1-yard TD. "We could have done better, but I did everything the coach wanted me to do."
Jackson passed for 317 yards and three TDs, but most of that came with things already in hand for Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC). The Tigers' Dorian O'Daniel returned an interception 44 yards for a TD and a 26-7 third-quarter lead, and they sacked Jackson four times.
Jackson had TD passes of 11 yards to Charles Standberry, 36 yards to Jaylen Smith and 8 to Dez Fitzpatrick. But the junior struggled to throw and run all night for Louisville (2-1, 1-1 ACC). The Cardinals were outgained 613-433, saving face somewhat with a 14-point fourth quarter.
Jackson carried 17 times for 64 yards and broke the ACC career record for rushing yards by a QB, which turned out to be a footnote on a night that belonged to Kelly and Clemson.
"We just didn't play our game today," said Jackson, who was 21-of-42 passing with a 78-yard completion. "We came out, we weren't scoring points. The offense did a horrible job tonight."
(At) No. 1 Alabama 41, Colorado State 23: Jalen Hurts passed for 248 yards and two long touchdowns and rushed for 103 yards to lead Alabama past Colorado State.
The Crimson Tide (3-0) dominated early and emphatically answered a comeback attempt before outlasting the Rams (2-2).
Hurts delivered his best all-around game of the season. He ran for a 27-yard touchdown and hit on a career-long 78-yard scoring pass to Calvin Ridley and a 52-yarder to Robert Foster.
Hurts completed 12 of 17 passes and mixed in 11 carries before leaving late in the third quarter. It was his second straight 100-plus yard rushing performance.
The Tide needed just 10 minutes and a few big plays from Hurts to race to a 17-0 lead. The first-quarter stats were utterly one-sided, with Alabama outgaining Colorado State 216-11.
(At) No. 2 Oklahoma 56, Tulane 14: Baker Mayfield passed for 331 yards and four touchdowns, and Oklahoma followed its impressive victory at Ohio State with a win over Tulane.
CeeDee Lamb caught four passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns before he was ejected for targeting on a block in the second quarter. Marquise Brown had career highs of six catches for 155 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter for the Sooners (3-0).
The Sooners and Green Wave were tied at 14 in the second quarter before Oklahoma’s Parnell Motley returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown to turn the momentum for good. Oklahoma extended its nation-leading winning streak to 13 games.
Tulane (1-2) scored on its first two drives and never scored again. Dontrell Hilliard ran for 104 yards and a touchdown to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in his career for the Green Wave.
(At) No. 4 USC 27, Texas 24 (2OT): Freshman Chase McGrath kicked a 43-yard field goal in the second overtime after hitting a tying 31-yarder on the final snap of regulation, and Southern California rallied for a wild victory.
Sam Darnold passed for 397 yards and three touchdowns to help the Trojans (3-0) surge to their 12th consecutive victory.
Christian Rector forced a goal-line fumble by Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger in the second overtime before McGrath coolly ended it.
After 55 minutes of defense-dominated football, both offenses erupted late to create a pretty decent sequel to these powerhouse programs' last meeting in the landmark 2006 Rose Bowl.
Ehlinger passed for 298 yards and led a 91-yard, go-ahead TD drive late in regulation for the Longhorns (1-2), who were narrowly denied a huge win early in coach Tom Herman's debut season.
Ehlinger hit Armanti Foreman with a 17-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds left, but McGrath tied it on the final snap of regulation after Darnold drove the Trojans 52 yards in about 30 seconds.
Deontay Burnett caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Darnold on the first snap of overtime, but Cade Brewer caught a short TD pass to cap Texas' first OT possession.
Texas reached the goal line in the second OT before Rector ripped the ball out of Ehlinger's hands while the freshman quarterback attempted to score.
No. 6 Washington 48, Fresno State 16: Dante Pettis had four touchdowns including an NCAA record-tying eighth punt return touchdowns of his career, and Washington finished off the undercard of its schedule.
Pettis had touchdown receptions of 4 and 7 yards in the first half, and a 73-yard TD pass from from Jake Browning on the second play of the second half to give Washington (3-0) a 48-7 lead. But it was his 77-yard punt return late in the first quarter that left Husky Stadium buzzing.
No. 9 Oklahoma State 59, (at) Pittsburgh 21: Mason Rudolph threw five touchdown passes, all in the first half, for Oklahoma State.
Rudolph completed 23 of 32 passes for 497 yards before being pulled in the middle of the third quarter with the Cowboys (3-0) in full command. He did throw his first interception of the season, ending a streak of 216 passes without a pick dating to last season. It was the longest active streak in the FBS.
Jalen McCleskey caught seven passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns. James Washington added 124 yards receiving. Marcell Ateman (109) and Dillon Stoner (100) also reached the 100-yard receiving mark, the first time in 12 years a team has had four 100-yard receivers in a game. The Cowboys did it despite missing LSU transfer Tyron Johnson, suspended for the game for a violation of team rules.
(At) Mississippi State 37, No. 12 LSU 7: Nick Fitzgerald threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to help Mississippi State rout LSU.
Aeris Williams led the Bulldogs with 146 yards rushing and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Mississippi State (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) beat LSU for just the second time in 18 tries dating to 2000.
LSU (2-1, 0-1) easily won its first two games of the season, but was overmatched by Mississippi State on both sides of the ball. The Tigers were also sloppy — two touchdown plays were negated because of penalties. In all, LSU was penalized nine times for 112 yards.
Fitzgerald was 15-of-23 passing for 180 yards. Keith Mixon caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Jace Christmann made the first three field goals of his career, connecting from 30, 45 and 27 yards.
LSU tied it at 7 in the second quarter on Darrel Williams’ 10-yard touchdown run. But Mississippi State responded with 30 straight points. LSU’s Danny Etling completed just 13 of 29 passes for 137 yards. Derrius Guice had 76 yards rushing.
(At) No. 13 Georgia 42, Samford 14: Nick Chubb ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns, freshman Jake Fromm threw three scoring passes in his first home start, and Georgia’s defense was dominant.
With fellow senior Sony Michel held out with an ankle injury sustained last week in a victory at Notre Dame, Chubb had his busiest game of the season. Chubb’s season-high 16 carries, all in the first three quarters, helped him become the first Bulldogs back to run for 100 yards this season.
Chubb was stopped on a fourth-down run on the Bulldogs’ opening drive, and he rarely was stopped again. He had back-to-back 20-yard runs to open Georgia’s next drive and added a 32-yard scoring run late in the opening quarter. Chubb scored on a 14-yard run early in the third quarter before watching backups handle the remainder of the carries.
Georgia (3-0) avoided a letdown following the emotional win at Notre Dame.
(At) No. 15 Auburn 24, Mercer 10: Kamryn Pettway ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns and Auburn overcame five turnovers to hold off FCS school Mercer.
After being held without a touchdown in a 14-6 loss at third-ranked Clemson the previous week, Auburn (2-1) could at least point to a stout defensive opponent as the reason for its troubles. Not this time.
Mercer (1-2), which only resumed its football program five years ago and plays a division down in the Southern Conference, gave the Tigers all they could handle, much to a chagrin of a disgruntled crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium — many of whom didn’t bother returning to their seats after a lackluster first half in which the Southeastern Conference powerhouse led only 10-3.
Much of Auburn’s woes could be attributed to an inability to hold onto the ball. The Tigers lost three fumbles in the first half and another returning a punt on what should’ve been their first possession of the second half. Jason Stidham also had an interception when Kam Lott ripped the ball away from Nate Craig-Meyers, a lackluster effort by the intended receiver that symbolized the entire afternoon.
No. 16 Virginia Tech 64, (at) East Carolina 17: Redshirt freshman Josh Jackson threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns — three to Cam Phillips — for Virginia Tech.
Phillips had a program-record 14 catches for 189 yards to help the Hokies improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2011. He punctuated his day with a perfectly executed route that left him wide open, and Jackson hit him in stride for a 45-yard score with 7:46 left in the third quarter.
Both Jackson and Phillips called it a day before the fourth, as Virginia Tech roared out of a slow first-quarter start by scoring 57 straight points to turn this into a rout. That included 34 points and four TD throws by Jackson in the third quarter alone.
Gardner Minshew threw for two scores for the Pirates (0-3).
(At) Vanderbilt 14, No. 18 Kansas State 7: Kyle Shurmur scored on a 2-yard run with 8:23 left, and Vanderbilt upset Kansas State for the Commodores’ first win over a ranked, nonconference opponent since 1946.
Vanderbilt improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2011 with the Commodores’ first win over a ranked, nonconference opponent since beating North Carolina State. The Commodores also have won five straight at home dating to last season.
Kansas State (2-1) last beat a Southeastern Conference team on the road in the regular season in 1982 at Kentucky. Senior quarterback Jesse Ertz tried to drive the Wildcats to the tying score. But he was tackled short on fourth-and-8 deep in Vanderbilt territory by Oren Burks and LaDarius Wiley with 1:06 left.
D.J. Reed of the Wildcats had not one, but two touchdowns wiped out. He picked up a fumble by Shurmur and ran 35 yards to the end zone in the second quarter. Replay review ruled Shurmur was down before the ball came out. In the final seconds of the third quarter, Reed returned a punt for a TD that was wiped out by an illegal block in the back.
(At) San Diego State 20, No. 19 Stanford 17: Stanford was already on its heels against San Diego State when aging San Diego Stadium plunged into darkness.
After the lights flickered back on, the Aztecs scored a signature win to leave their Pac-12 foe in the dark.
Christian Chapman threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Wells with 54 seconds left, capping a wild ending sparked by a darkness delay.
Six plays before Wells' score, the game was delayed nearly 25 minutes when most of the lights suddenly went out at what used to be known as Qualcomm Stadium. The city has fallen behind on maintenance of the 50-year-old stadium, and the NFL's Chargers moved to Los Angeles earlier this year after they couldn't get a deal for a new home.
(At) No. 20 TCU 56, SMU 36: Jalen Reagor made a leaping 38-yard catch between four defenders in the end zone on the last play of the first half, finally putting TCU ahead to stay against upset-minded SMU.
The Mustangs (2-1) led 19-7 before Kenny Hill threw three TD passes in the final 7 1/2 minutes of the second quarter. The last was Reagor’s catch in a crowd of Mustangs.
Darius Anderson ran for two touchdowns for TCU (3-0) in the second half, including the first drive after halftime. Speedy running back Kenedy Snell also scored twice, while Hill completed 24 of 30 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns.
Snell had a 10-yard TD run and later turned a short pass into a 71-yard sprint to the end zone. That long score put TCU up 21-19 with 2:40 left in the first half. Snell and Reagor are both true freshmen from Waxahachie, less than an hour from the TCU campus.
(At) No. 21 Washington State 52, Oregon State 23: Luke Falk threw six touchdown passes — three to Tavares Martin Jr. — and Washington State beat Oregon State for its fourth consecutive victory over the Beavers.
Washington State (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) was coming off a triple-overtime victory over Boise State.
Falk, the FBS active leader with 98 touchdown passes, completed 37 of 49 passes for 396 yards without an interception. Martin had 10 vatches for 194 yards.
Jake Luton threw for 179 yards for Oregon State (1-3, 0-1), but was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with an injury. The Beavers have lost 14 consecutive road games dating to 2014.
(At) Memphis 48, No. 25 UCLA 45: Riley Ferguson threw for 398 yards and six touchdowns, and Jacobi Francis broke up a fourth-down pass in the closing seconds in Memphis’ victory over UCLA.
Francis’ breakup with 56 seconds left prevented another fourth-quarter comeback by Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen. He was 34 of 56 for 463 yards and four TDs.
But unlike in the Bruins’ opener when Rosen led a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Texas A&M, the Memphis defense stiffened on UCLA’s final possession.
Ferguson completed 23 of 38 passes for Memphis (2-0), and his connections with wide receiver Anthony Miller meant the difference. Miller caught nine passes for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
UCLA (2-1) took a 45-41 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard pass from Rosen to Austin Roberts with 11:51 left. But Memphis answered with a four-play, 81-yard drive — the final 3 coming on a pass from Ferguson to Phil Mayhue with 9:56 left.