South Bend, Ind. — Wide receiver Miles Boykin had a message for quarterback Ian Book after the No. 5 Notre Dame remained unbeaten Saturday, coming from behind and then holding off Pittsburgh, 19-14, on Saturday.
“I told him winning is fun, but let’s not win like this again,” the 6-foot-4 Boykin said after he caught the game-winning, 35-yard touchdown pass from Book with 5:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Book-to-Boykin combination is beginning to etch itself in Notre Dame lore along with other combinations such as quarterback Terry Hanratty and wide receiver Jim Seymour, the “Fling and Cling” combo that helped Ara Parseghian’s Irish to the 1966 national championship.
Book and Boykin have had memorable moments before - their 55-yard touchdown with 1:28 in the Citrus Bowl last Jan. 1 provided the Irish with a 21-17 victory over LSU.
Saturday’s TD completion helped to improve the Irish to 7-0 for the first time since 2012, the year they went to the BCS title game for coach Brian Kelly, who was feeling a little better after the Irish held off the upset bid by the Panthers (3-4).
“Proud of our guys and their grit — they hung in there and found a way to win,” Kelly said. “We were not sharp mentally, we didn’t execute efficiently. They weren’t at their best and Pittsburgh played well. We still found a way.”
Pitt led 14-12 thanks to a long first-quarter touchdown drive and a 99-yard kickoff return by Maurice Ffrench to start the second half.
But the Irish, who were held to 80 yards rushing, prevailed behind Book, who is 4-0 as a starter since replacing Brandon Wimbush. Book was intercepted twice, but finished with 264 yards passing. He was 13-of-14 for 158 yards in the second half.
“I didn’t even see (Book) throw it,” Boykin said after finishing with four receptions for 84 yards. “I just saw the ball up there and thought I have to catch up to this. It was a dime. (Ian’s) a baller. He’s always calm and poised.”
As far as Book is concerned, it’s mutual admiration.
“(Miles is) really rangy, so I just got to put it up there and give him a chance,” Book said. “Day in and day out, he works so hard. I think our chemistry is starting to come along a little bit.”
Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers were looking to upset an Associated Press top-five team for the third straight season after knocking off No. 3 Clemson in Death Valley during the 2016 season and No. 2 Miami last November in Pittsburgh.
“I feel bad for our kids in the locker room,” Narduzzi said. “I’m disappointed for them. They fought their tails off. We were ahead almost the entire game. Sometimes you can’t control what you can’t control. We went toe-to-toe with a top-five team and we didn’t pull it off in the end.”
Kenny Pickett was 19-for-28 for 126 yards, and was sacked by Khalid Kareem — Notre Dame’s only sack of the game — for a loss of 14 yards on Pitt’s final possession to set up a fourth-and-long the Panthers could not convert.
Pitt also ran a strange faked punt, inserting third-string quarterback Jeff George Jr. as the punter and having him throw, on its second-to-last drive around midfield that failed.
“(Trying) to get a first down,” Narduzzi said. “That certainly wasn’t the game.”
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►(At) No. 13 LSU 36, No. 2 Georgia 16: Joe Burrow passed for 200 yards and had two short touchdown runs, LSU’s defense staggered Georgia’s normally prolific offense, and the Tigers gave coach Ed Orgeron a signature victory.
Five fourth-down decisions by Orgeron influenced the result. LSU converted all four times it ran an offensive play on fourth down, sustaining three drives that produced a total of 13 points.
In another instance, Orgeron called timeout and elected to punt on fourth-and-2 after the offense initially remained on the field. That decision pinned Georgia at its 4, and Kristian Fulton’s interception of Jake Fromm’s pass shortly afterward set up another of Cole Tracy’s five field goals.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 133 yards for LSU (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), and Justin Jefferson caught six passes for 108 yards, including a 41-yard snag of a pass rifled over the middle and between converging defenders. That catch set up Burrow’s second TD in the fourth quarter.
Nick Brossette added a short touchdown in the final minutes after Burrow’s 59-yard scamper. Fans rushed the field, ignoring pleas not to do so from the public address announcer, as the game ended.
Fromm had by far his worst game this season for Georgia (6-1, 4-1), completing 16 of 34 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
►(At) No. 1 Alabama 39, Missouri 10: Tua Tagovailoa passed for 265 yards and three touchdowns before leaving early in Alabama victory over Missouri.
The Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) shrugged off another would-be challenger in the league, but got a scare when the star quarterback went down after sliding at the end of a run in the third quarter.
Tagovailoa went to the medical tent on the sideline after aggravating a sprained right knee. He was joined by his parents, and Jalen Hurts led the Tide the rest of the way with a big lead over the Tigers (3-3, 0-3). Tagovailoa was playing with a brace on his right knee, sprained last week against Arkansas.
Jerry Jeudy gained 147 yards on three catches, including an 81-yard touchdown from Tagovailoa on the game’s second play. DeVonta Smith had four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an apparent leg injury after a 57-yard gain in the second quarter.
►(At) Iowa State 30, No. 6 West Virginia 14: Freshman Brock Purdy threw for 254 yards and three TDs and Iowa State throttled West Virginia, handing the Mountaineers their first loss in emphatic fashion.
David Montgomery had a career-high 189 yards rushing for the Cyclones (3-3, 2-2 Big 12), who capped a wild day by beating a Top 25 team for the fifth time in seven tries.
Iowa State scored 20 straight points after spotting West Virginia (5-1, 3-1) an early touchdown off a turnover. Purdy then found Deshaunte Jones through a pair of defenders on a sprawling 32-yard TD grab that, after a two-point conversion, put Iowa State ahead 28-14 with 12:17 to go.
Iowa State’s defense dominated the high-flying Mountaineers on a windy and chilly night. West Virginia gained just 152 yards, 420 below its season average.
►(At) No. 17 Oregon 30, No. 7 Washington 27 (OT): C.J. Verdell scored on a 6-yard run in overtime and Oregon knocked off Washington.
Verdell finished with 111 yards but none were sweeter for the Ducks than the final 6, when he sprinted nearly untouched on third-and-goal and set off a wild celebration in the east end zone of Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) were fortunate to reach overtime after Washington kicker Peyton Henry missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of regulation. Henry’s kick was wide right.
Washington (5-2, 3-1) took possession first in overtime but had to settle for Henry’s 22-yard kick after stalling inside the 10. The Huskies had a chance to force a long field goal as Oregon faced third-and-11 after a holding call. But Justin Herbert threw a strike to Dillon Mitchell for 17 yards and the Ducks had first-and-goal. Three plays later, Verdell sprinted into the end zone.
Herbert didn’t have his best day, playing in front of a large gathering of NFL executives that included Denver Broncos GM John Elway. He was 18 of 32 for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
►(At) No. 9 Texas 23, Baylor 17: Shane Buechele came on for injured quarterback Sam Ehlinger early in the first quarter and Texas beat Baylor when the Bears’ final pass sailed through the back of the end zone.
Charlie Brewer drove the Bears from their own 3 to the Texas 17 before he had to rush his final three throws under intense pressure. The victory made Texas (6-1, 4-0 Big 12 Conference) bowl eligible.
Freshman running back Keaontay Ingram ran for 110 yards, Texas’ first 100-yard rushing effort of the season. Defensive end Charles Omenihu had two sacks and was chasing Brewer on the last three plays.
Brewer passed for 245 yards and a touchdown for the Bears (4-3, 2-2).
►No. 10 UCF 31, (at) Memphis 30: McKenzie Milton threw for 296 yards and ran for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter for Central Florida.
Milton’s 7-yard touchdown with 12:14 left completed a comeback for the Knights (6-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference), who trailed 30-14 with 2:04 left in the first half. The victory was UCF’s 19th straight — the nation’s longest winning streak — but it was by far the toughest game of the season for the Knights, who defeated their first five opponents by double-digits.
Memphis (4-3, 1-3) seemed on the way to at least have a chance for a winning field goal as the Tigers moved to the UCF 31. Memphis botched clock management in the final 30 seconds, getting hit with a motion penalty that required a clock runoff, and then Brady White completed a 9-yard pass to Tony Pollard and the seconds slipped away. Darrell Henderson, who leads the nation in rushing, had 199 yards and a touchdown on the ground on a career-best 31 carries for Memphis.
►No. 14 Florida 37, (at) Vanderbilt 27: Jordan Scarlett ran 48 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Florida rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Vanderbilt in a game marred by a near brawl, with both head coaches yelling as each team spilled onto the field.
An official held back Florida coach Dahn Mullen as he yelled at Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, who was near the Gators’ sideline after checking on the Commodores defender whose helmet was knocked off by a hit by linebacker James Houston IV. Both teams spilled onto the field, drawing unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The penalty cost the Gators their leading tackler, with Vosean Joseph ejected for his second such penalty of the first half. Two people escorted an emotional Joseph off the field.
Mullen and Mason hugged each other at midfield after the game.
That overshadowed the Gators (6-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) scoring 24 straight points after Vanderbilt jumped out to a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter. The Gators beat Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3) for the fifth straight year and 27th time in 28 games in this series.
►(At) Virginia 16, (at) No. 16 Miami (Fla.) 13: Jordan Ellis ran for a touchdown and Virginia kept Miami’s high-powered offense from ever getting going.
Ellis scored on a 7-yard run in the first half and Brian Delaney kicked three field goals for the Cavaliers (4-2, 2-1 ACC). Miami appeared to have stopped Virginia on a third-down run in the final minutes, but a personal foul call against Tito Odenigbo kept the drive alive and the Cavaliers were able to most of the rest of the clock out.
The Hurricanes (5-2, 2-1) scored on an 11-yard run by Malik Rosier with 3:04 left, pulling them to 16-13, but when they tried an onsides kick, Virginia tight end Evan Butts fielded it and returned it 30 yards to the Miami 27. The Hurricanes used all three of their timeouts to stop the clock, but Odenigbo’s personal foul after Bryce Perkins was stopped a yard short of a first down foiled their comeback bid.
►(At) USC 31, No. 19 Colorado 20: Michael Pittman Jr. caught two of J.T. Daniels' three touchdown passes, and USC's defense dominated the first three quarters.
Ajene Harris returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter for the Trojans (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12), who have rebounded from back-to-back losses with three straight wins. The defending conference champions asserted their supremacy over the upstart Buffaloes (5-1, 2-1) in the South Division race while remaining unbeaten at the Coliseum in all 19 games under coach Clay Helton.
Tyler Vaughns also caught a TD pass from Daniels, who passed for 272 yards with two first-quarter interceptions and a handful of missed throws. USC's offense only scored touchdowns in the second quarter, struggled to run the ball and relied heavily on big plays.
►Tennessee 30, (at) No. 21 Auburn 24: Jarrett Guarantano passed for 328 yards and two touchdowns and Tennessee snapped an 11-game Southeastern Conference losing streak.
The Volunteers (3-3, 1-2) forced three turnovers from Auburn’s lackluster offense, intercepting two of Jarrett Stidham’s passes and getting a strip sack that resulted in touchdown by Alontae Taylor.
The Tigers (4-3, 1-3) are off to their worst SEC start since also going 1-3 in 2015.
►No. 22 Texas A&M 26, (at) South Carolina 23: Kellen Mond threw for 353 yards and freshman Seth Small had four field goals, including the go-ahead kick in the fourth quarter, for Texas A&M.
The Aggies (5-2, 3-1 SEC) won their third straight this season and moved to 5-0 against the Gamecocks (3-3, 2-3) since joining the league in 2012.
Mond also had a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jace Sternberger in the second quarter and, when Small hit a 32-yard field goal on the Aggies’ first drive of the second half to go up 16-0, it looked like more than enough to put away the Gamecocks. But Jake Bentley, returning from a knee injury, led a pair of third-quarter TD drives — and the two-point conversions both times.