Auburn, Ala. — Kerryon Johnson and the Auburn Tigers delivered an emphatic statement to the rest of the Southeastern Conference: Don’t forget us.
The 10th-ranked Tigers emerged from the shadows of the nation’s top two teams, riding Johnson and a smothering defense to a 40-17 victory Saturday over Georgia, ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings and No. 2 in the AP poll.
With Johnson running for 167 yards and catching a 55-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (8-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) remained in Western Division and potentially playoff contention after snapping a three-year losing streak to one of its top rivals. The Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1) came in with the top spot in the playoff rankings and could get a rematch if Auburn can beat No. 1 Alabama in two weeks.
The first go around wasn’t pretty for Georgia. The Tigers held Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the SEC’s top ground game to 46 yards, 233 below their season average.
As Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said, “They seized the moment.”
“We have a great opportunity right now, and our goal was to win the SEC championship,” Malzahn said. “Here we are, Nov. 11, and we’re right in the middle of it. And all the dreams we have are still alive.”
Johnson ran 32 times and caught two passes for 66 yards. Stidham threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns, all of 30-plus yards. He also ran for a 7-yard score.
“We knew we had a great team, but we had to go out and prove it,” Johnson said. “We did that today and that’s something we can hang our hat on.”
Georgia special teams blunders helped set up three Auburn touchdowns, including a roughing the penalty flag in the first half. The Bulldogs fumbled away a punt return and had a 15-yard personal foul penalty in the third quarter when Auburn pulled away with two touchdowns.
“What made it so lopsided was the uncharacteristic penalties,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
Ryan Davis returned a punt 26 yards into Georgia territory, with the flag pushing Auburn even closer to the goal line. Then Davis took a screen pass 32 yards for a touchdown to make it 30-7. Darius Slayton made a 42-yard scoring grab earlier, rolling into the end zone.
The Bulldogs added a touchdown in the final minutes. Chubb gained just 27 yards on 11 carries with a 1-yard touchdown on the opening drive. Michel ran nine times for 21 yards.
Jake Fromm was 13-of-28 passing for 184 yards and a late touchdown pass. Smart said Auburn “whipped” the Bulldogs at the lines of scrimmage.
“Humility is always a week away, and I think this team will answer and respond the right way,” he said. “We’ve got some good leaders in that room, and they want to improve on what they just showed.”
No. 1 Alabama 31, (at) No. 18 Mississippi State 24: Jalen Hurts hit DeVonta Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds remaining and Alabama (10-0, 7-0 SEC) won its 10th straight game against Mississippi State, but this one was much more difficult than most of the others.
Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3, CFP No. 16) pushed ahead 24-17 early in the fourth quarter on Jace Christmann’s 25-yard field goal, but Alabama responded to tie it at 24 when Damien Harris ran for a 14-yard score with 9:49 left. Alabama had a chance to take the lead with about two minutes left, but a 40-yard field goal attempt by Andy Pappanastos banged off the left upright and fell harmlessly to the turf.
Mississippi State went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and Alabama took over with 1:09 remaining. That was more than enough time for the Tide, who drove six plays and 68 yards in 44 seconds for the game-winning score.
The game was tight throughout with neither team leading by more than a touchdown.
Alabama’s defense has been dominant for most of the season, but several injuries at linebacker throughout the season finally appeared to take a toll. Mississippi State’s power running game gained 172 yards, but in the end Alabama was able to slow the Bulldogs down.
Mississippi State pushed ahead 7-0 in the first quarter on an 11-yard touchdown run by Aeris Williams. It was the first touchdown the Bulldogs had scored against Alabama since 2014 and the first time they’d taken the lead against the Tide since 2008.
(At) No. 7 Miami 41, No. 3 Notre Dame 8: Malik Rosier threw for a touchdown and ran for another, Deejay Dallas ran for a pair of scores for Miami.
Travis Homer rushed for 146 yards for the Hurricanes (9-0), who forced four turnovers for the fourth consecutive week, led 27-0 at the half and handed the Irish their second-worst loss in the history of the Miami-Notre Dame series. Only the 58-7 Miami romp in 1985 was worse.
Miami’s win came on the same day it clinched its first trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. The Hurricanes — who extended the nation’s longest current winning streak to 14 games — wrapped up the Coastal Division title when Virginia lost to Louisville, and will play Clemson for the ACC crown on Dec. 2.
(At) No. 4 Clemson 31, Florida State 14: Travis Etienne rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, including a 1-yard burst with 3:05 left, and No. 4 Clemson won the ACC Atlantic Division.
The Tigers (9-1, 7-1) and their dominant defense looked to have this one wrapped up when they opened a 17-0 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. But the Seminoles rallied on Jacques Patrick’s 9-yard scoring run and a double flea-flicker for a 60-yard TD catch by tight end Ryan Izzo.
Florida State then recovered Kelly Bryant’s fumble on the Clemson 40 with 6:46 to go. But safety Van Smith intercepted James Blackman’s pass over the middle on the next play, setting up the TD drive that secured the win for the defending national champions.
Etienne had a 25-yard run to the FSU 5 and took it in two plays later as the chilly Death Valley crowd erupted in celebration of a chance for a third straight ACC title in Charlotte in three weeks.
Cornerback Trayvon Mullen knocked away Blackman’s fourth-down pass with 2:13 left to end the Seminoles’ comeback hopes.
It’s the fifth time in coach Dabo Swinney’s nine full seasons that he has taken the Tigers to the conference title game. Clemson will face No. 7 Miami, which won the Coastal Division with Virginia’s 38-17 loss to Louisville on Saturday.
For Florida State (3-6, 3-5), it marked its first losing ACC record since 2006. And the Seminoles’ landmark streak of 35 straight bowl games is in jeopardy, too — they have three games left against Delaware State, rival Florida and Louisiana-Monroe.
(At) No. 5 Oklahoma 38, No. 8 TCU 20: Baker Mayfield threw three touchdown passes, Rodney Anderson had 290 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns, and Oklahoma took sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
Anderson ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 139 yards and two scores for the Sooners (9-1, 6-1 Big 12). They have won five straight.
Mayfield strengthened his Heisman Trophy resume by passing for 333 yards and rushing for 50 against a TCU defense that entered the night ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense and total defense. He did it in front of a crowd of 88,308, the largest home crowd in school history. The Sooners ran for 200 yards against the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense.
Kenny Hill passed for 270 yards for the Horned Frogs (8-2, 5-2), but he completed just 13 of 28 passes. TCU defensive end Mat Boesen was ejected in the second quarter for kicking an Oklahoma player.
No. 12 Oklahoma State 49, (at) No. 24 Iowa State 42: Mason Rudolph threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns — including two in the final 5:55 — and Oklahoma State rallied to keep its Big 12 title game hopes alive.
Justice Hill had 134 yards and three TD runs for the Cowboys (8-2, 5-2 Big 12), who remain in a tie for second place in the league with two games to go.
The top two finishers in the Big 12 will meet in the championship game in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 2.
Rudolph found Marcell Ateman for a 30-yard TD pass, and Hill’s two-point conversion run tied the game at 42 with 5:55 left. The Cowboys jumped ahead 49-42 just two minutes later as Rudolph found Dillon Stoner for a 19-yard touchdown reception.
The Cyclones got inside Oklahoma State’s 3 with 32 seconds left, but Zeb Noland threw an interception to A.J. Green to end the game.
Quarterback-linebacker Joel Lanning had a rushing and passing TD for Iowa State (6-4, 4-3). He connected with Allen Lazard on a 22-yard TD strike with 14:13 left — a pass Lazard caught with one hand while falling down.
(At) No. 14 Central Florida 49, Connecticut 24: Otis Anderson rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and McKenzie Milton passed for 311 yards for Central Florida.
Anderson had a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and helped the undefeated Knights break it open with a 65-yard touchdown run, making it 35-17 with 14:11 left.
UCF (9-0, 6-0 American Athletic Conference) also got a solid performance from Milton, who was 24-for-36 passing. He tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Marlon Williams in the first quarter and a 41-yarder to Tre’Quan Smith with 7:43 left in the first half, helping the Knights to a 28-10 lead at the break.
After Anderson’s second TD, Milton added a 4-yard touchdown run that made it 42-17 with 8:54 left.
No. 15 Southern California 38, (at) Colorado 24: Sam Darnold tossed two TD passes and ran for another , Ajene Harris intercepted two passes, including one he returned for a score, and Southern California wrapped up the Pac-12 South title.
Darnold threw for 329 yards as he improved to 18-3 as a starter. Tailback Ronald Jones II had 142 yards to surpass Mike Garrett for sixth place on the Trojans’ all-time rushing list.
Southern Cal (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) led 27-0 in the third quarter, but needed to weather a late Colorado comeback. The Trojans blocked two field goals to move to 12-0 against the Buffaloes (5-6, 2-6).
Juwann Winfree had a big day for Colorado by hauling in TD passes of 79 and 57 yards. Steven Montez threw for 376 yards.
(At) Georgia Tech 28, No. 17 Virginia Tech 22: TaQuon Marshall got two long touchdown passes out of his only completions, including an 80-yarder to Ricky Jeune with 6 ½ minutes remaining, and Ajani Kerr swatted away a fourth-pass in the end zone for Georgia Tech..
Virginia Tech rallied from a 21-9 deficit in the second half. The Hokies (7-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) went ahead 22-21 when Greg Stroman returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown off a terrible pass by Marshall with 7:27 left.
The Georgia Tech quarterback made up for his mistake just two snaps later, after the Yellow Jackets recovered a fumbled kickoff. Jeune got loose behind the secondary, hauled in the long throw and just managed to stick the ball inside the pylon before tumbling out of bounds .
It was the longest touchdown pass of the season for the Yellow Jackets (5-4, 4-3), surpassing Marshall’s 60-yard scoring play to Brad Stewart early in the second half.
No. 19 Washington State 33, (at) Utah 25: Luke Falk threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns for Washington State.
The Cougars are now one win from winning the Pac-12 North and playing in the conference championship game for the first time since the league created divisions in 2011.
Washington State (9-3, 6-2 Pac-12) led from start to finish and could have won by more, but settled for five field goals despite moving inside the Utah 30 on those possessions. The Utes turned over the ball on three of its first four possessions, all in the first quarter, but the Cougars found the end zone on just one of the extra opportunities.
Utah (5-5, 2-5) had seven turnovers on the day and has lost five of its last six games.
Falk set the Pac-12 career touchdown passes record in the second quarter. He surpassed former USC quarterback Matt Barkley with his 117th touchdown pass and finished with 118.
No. 23 West Virginia 28, (at) Kansas State 23: Will Grier threw for 372 yards and four touchdowns, Justin Crawford added 113 yards rushing for West Virginia.
Ka’Raun White had eight catches for 168 yards and two scores, and David Sills V also had a pair of TD catches, helping the Mountaineers (7-3, 5-2) stay alive in the race for the Big 12 title game.
The Wildcats (5-5, 3-4) closed to 28-23 early in the fourth quarter, but an offense down to third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson couldn’t get its team all the way back.
Thompson threw for 159 yards with two interceptions in his first career start for the Wildcats, who still need a win to become bowl-eligible for the eighth consecutive year.