Saturday's Top 25: Georgia rolls, Alabama up next for SEC title

Associated Press
Georgia's Elijah Holyfield (13) scores a second-quarter touchdown against Georgia Tech Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.

Athens, Ga. — Bring on Alabama.

Jake Fromm threw a career-best four touchdown passes, D’Andre Swift ran for 105 yards and No. 5 Georgia romped into the Southeastern Conference championship game with a 45-21 rout of Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Bulldogs (11-1, No. 5 CFP) couldn’t afford a slip-up, not with a rematch against the top-ranked Crimson Tide looming next week in Atlanta.

No worries.

“I was hoping we’d have another chance to play them,” said linebacker D’Andre Walker, quickly turning his attention to the team that defeated Georgia in last season’s national championship game. “I knew we had a good team to get back to this point and play them again. Now we’ve got to prepare like no other and take on the challenge.”

The rivalry game known as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” was over by halftime.

Georgia went to the locker room with a 38-7 lead  which, in an interesting twist, was the score of last year’s dominating victory over the Yellow Jackets. The Bulldogs held a 343-66 edge in total yards, piling up 18 first downs to just four by Georgia Tech (7-5).

Fromm threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Riley Ridley, a 12-yarder to Jeremiah Holloman and a 44-yarder to Mercole Hardman. Swift chipped in with a 1-yard scoring run, Elijah Holyfield had an 8-yard TD and Rodrigo Blankenship completed the onslaught with a 25-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

Fromm wasn’t done yet. On Georgia’s first series of the second half, he hooked up with Ridley again on a 4-yard scoring pass that prompted many in the crowd of more than 92,000 to head for the exits on a cold, damp day in Athens.

“We liked our matchups,” said Fromm, who went 13 of 16 for 175 yards before giving way to Justin Fields late in the third quarter. “When they were kind of playing the off coverage, we hit some underneath stuff and let guys break tackles. Our athletes, our guys, are really good with the ball in their hands, so let’s get it to them quick and let those guys make plays.”

Georgia came into the game determined to avoid a repeat of Georgia Tech’s last two visits to Sanford Stadium. In 2014, the Yellow Jackets prevailed 30-24 in overtime. Two years ago, they scored with less than a minute remaining for a 28-27 upset.

Both times, they shredded the famed hedges surrounding the field during the celebration.

The greenery looked just fine after Saturday’s final home game of the year.

Now, it’s on to Atlanta to face Alabama for the SEC title and an expected spot in the College Football Playoff.

Juanyeh Thomas provided Georgia Tech’s only points of the first half on a 100-yard kickoff return. The triple-option offense, which came into the game leading the nation in rushing yards, finally reached the end zone on Qua Searcy’s 3-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.

Georgia Tech finished with 128 yards rushing  not even close to its 354-yard season average.

“Nothing was really consistent, so we couldn’t really get anything going” said quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who was held to 39 yards on 20 carries.

More Top 25

(At) No. 1 Alabama 52, Auburn 21: Tua Tagovailoa threw five touchdown passes and ran for a score to lead Alabama past rival Auburn.

Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC, No. 1 CFP) took over with an explosive third quarter, when the Heisman Trophy contender threw three long touchdown passes. He’s the first Alabama player to have a hand in six TDs in a game and matched the school record with the five scoring passes.

Now, ‘Bama heads to the SEC championship game against No. 5 Georgia with a guaranteed playoff spot on the line.

With Alabama leading Auburn (7-5, 3-5) 17-14 at halftime, Tagovailoa launched the Tide into another SEC blowout. He was 11-of-12 passing for 208 yards and four touchdowns in the second half, despite only playing one series in the fourth quarter.

Tagovailoa finished 25 of 32 for 324 yards and ran for 26 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown and a 21-yard third-down conversion on runs.

The second-half numbers included touchdowns of 46 yards to Jerry Jeudy, 33 to Josh Jacobs, 40 to DeVonta Smith and 22 to Henry Ruggs III — all accurate strikes downfield.

(At) No. 2 Clemson 56, South Carolina 35: Trevor Lawrence threw for a career-high 393 yards, Adam Choice rushed for three touchdowns and Clemson capped a perfect regular season, beating South Carolina for its fifth consecutive rivalry win.

The Tigers reached 12-0 for the second time in four seasons and for the third time in program history, starting with its 1981 national title season.

Clemson (CFP No. 2) kept pace for another title run with their latest success over the Gamecocks (6-5), its longest since winning seven in a row from 1934-40.

Jake Bentley had career highs with 510 yards — the second most ever allowed by Clemson — and five TDs for South Carolina. The Tigers had not given up that many points in 28 games since a 42-35 win over Virginia Tech in the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

The Tigers will try for their fourth straight ACC title when they take on No. 24 Pitt in the championship game at Charlotte, North Carolina.

No. 13 Florida 41, (at) Florida State 14: Feleipe Franks had three touchdown passes and No. 13 Florida used a punishing ground attack to end a five-game losing streak to Florida State.

Lamical Perine had a 74-yard touchdown run, and Florida ran for 278 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Perine ran for 129 yards, averaging 9.9 yards per carry.

The Gators (9-3) halted Florida State’s bowl streak, which began in 1982, and handed the Seminoles (5-7) their first losing season since 1976 — Bobby Bowden’s first season as coach.

Franks, who grew up just 20 miles south of Doak Campbell Stadium in Crawfordville, completed 16 of 26 passes for 254 yards. He threw touchdown passes to Van Jefferson, Trevon Grimes and Josh Hammond. Grimes led the Gators with five receptions for 118 yards.

No. 17 Kentucky 56, (at) Louisville 10: Terry Wilson accounted for 340 yards and four touchdowns, Benny Snell Jr. rushed for two scores and Kentucky blew out Louisville in the Governor’s Cup.

The Wildcats (9-3) scored TDs on all five first-half drives and never trailed in posting their first nine-win regular season since 1977, scoring TDs on all five first-half drives. Wilson’s 3-yard scoring run provided a 14-0 lead before he tossed TD passes of 28 and 13 yards to Lynn Bowden for a 35-10 cushion late in the second quarter. The sophomore transfer threw a 32-yard TD to Josh Ali in the third to make it 42-10.

Wilson completed 17 of 23 passes for 261 yards and rushed for 79 in his biggest game with Kentucky. Snell rushed for TDs of 7 and 24 yards, A.J. Rose ran for a 75-yard score and Kavosiey Smoke had a 37-yard TD run as Kentucky posted its most lopsided series win over the Cardinals (2-10) since ‘98 (68-34).

No. 19 Syracuse 42, (at) Boston College 21: Eric Dungey ran for three touchdowns and threw for 362 yards and three more scores to lead Syracuse past Boston College.

The Orange (9-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) gave up the first score of the game, then scored touchdowns on three straight possessions, starting with a 75-yard pass from Dungey to a wide-open Sean Riley. BC fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting up Dungey’s 4-yard run to make it 14-7 and the Eagles (7-5, 4-4) never got any closer.

Dungey followed with a 2-yard touchdown run and also scored on an 18-yard quarterback sneak right before the half to give the Orange a 28-14 lead.

Riley caught five passes for 115 yards, and Dontae Strickland carried 20 times for 129 yards for Syracuse.

(At) Miami 24, No. 24 Pittsburgh 3: Travis Homer rushed for 168 yards and a long touchdown, DeeJay Dallas ran back a punt for one of his two scores and Miami closed its regular season by knocking off Pittsburgh.

Dallas also had a rushing touchdown for the Hurricanes (7-5, 4-4 ACC). Homer is up to 969 yards this season, and would have a chance to become the 10th runner in Miami history with a 1,000-yard season if he gets 31 in the bowl game.

Kenny Pickett completed 14 of 22 passes for 130 yards for Pitt (7-5, 6-2), which had already locked up the ACC’s Coastal Division and a berth in next weekend’s conference title game against Clemson. It was a reversal of last season, when Miami had the Coastal clinched and lost to Pitt in the regular-season finale for both clubs.

(At) No. 25 Iowa State 42, Kansas State 38: David Montgomery ran for three touchdowns, including the winner with 4:34 to go, and Iowa State rallied from 17 down in the fourth quarter to snap a 10-game skid against Kansas State.

Montgomery had 149 yards rushing for the Cyclones (7-4, 6-3 Big 12), who clinched their best-ever finish in the Big 12.

Down 38-21, Iowa State scored twice in just 1:44 early in the fourth — on Brock Purdy’s TD pass and a 21-yard fumble return by Mike Rose — to pull to 38-35. The Cyclones’ defense then made a stop, and Montgomery’s 18-yard touchdown run gave Iowa State an improbable lead.

Kansas State’s (5-7, 3-6) fate was sealed when a long pass to Dalton Schoen deep in Iowa State territory glanced off his fingertips with 1:20 left.