Saturday's Top 25: No. 12 Oregon rallies, stays in College Football Playoff mix
Seattle — For all he’s accomplished in his Oregon career, Justin Herbert had never faced the challenge of rallying from this much of a deficit, on the road and against the Ducks’ most hated rival.
Doing so would all but lock up the Pac-12 North, keep Oregon on the very fringes of the College Football Playoff conversation and put a nail in Washington’s hopes of repeating as conference champs.
“I don’t even think we did that in high school. It was a lot of fun today and glad we got the win,” Herbert said.
Herbert capped Oregon’s rally from a 14-point second-half deficit with a 5-yard TD pass to Jaylon Redd with 5:10 left, and No. 12 Oregon rallied to beat No. 25 Washington, 35-31, on Saturday.
What was expected to be a defensive showdown turned into an offensive shootout with both Herbert and Washington quarterback Jacob Eason taking the spotlight.
Eason was great.
Herbert was better.
Down 28-14 after Puca Nacua caught a 33-yard TD pass from Eason on the opening drive of the second half, Oregon’s touted defense finally showed up and gave Herbert a chance to rally the Ducks. The Ducks pulled within 31-28 on the final play of the third quarter when a well-designed screen pass on fourth-down found Mycah Pittman, and the freshman raced untouched 36 yards for the score.
The Ducks’ defense forced consecutive three-and-outs, and Oregon marched its way to the go-ahead score. Between Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio, the Ducks went 70 yards in 3½ minutes, and Herbert found Redd in the flat for the final 5 yards and the lead. It was the last of Herbert’s four TD tosses.
“We talk about the harder it gets the better we play and that showed up in the second half,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said.
Herbert finished 24 of 38 for 280 yards. He threw TDs of 12 yards to Spencer Webb and 16 yards to Redd in the first half.
The victory gave Oregon (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) complete control in the North Division. Four of the five other teams already have three conference losses, with Oregon State at 2-2 the closest to the Ducks.
Washington (5-3, 2-3) reached the Oregon 38 with 2½ minutes left, but Eason was sacked on second and 6 by Popo Aumavae and lost 12 yards. It was the first sack of the game by either team.
The Huskies faced third and 23 after a false start but got 20 yards back on a pass to Marcus Spiker. On fourth and 3, Eason’s pass for Nacua was high and the Ducks celebrated a second straight win over their rivals. Washington argued there should have been pass interference on the throw to Nacua.
“What did it look like to you guys? You guys got a better vantage than me. I think we know,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.
Whether it was interference on not, Washington helped give away the game with its stagnant fourth-quarter on offense. After exposing Oregon’s defense in ways it hadn’t during its five-game win streak since dropping its season opener to Auburn, the Huskies had just 52 yards of offense and two first downs in the fourth quarter.
“It’s pretty frustrating given the fact we were playing pretty well on offense,” Washington center Nick Harris said.
Eason was 23 of 30 for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He was nearly perfect for a stretch of the second and third quarters when he threw TD passes 48 yards to Jordan Chin, 5 yards to Andre Baccellia and his strike to Nacua through a tiny passing window.
But the Ducks made the plays it needed to in the fourth quarter to get Washington off the field and the ball back in Herbert’s hands.
“Our defense ended up playing well at the end. I don’t think our defense played poorly,” Cristobal said.
More Top 25
(At) No. 1 Alabama 35, Tennessee 13: With Tua Tagovailoa hurt, Alabama turned to the defense. The Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) faced its first test of the season without last season’s Heisman Trophy runner-up against the five-touchdown underdogs. Both starting quarterbacks left the game before halftime, and the Volunteers (2-5, 1-3) put up a fight much of the way.
Tagovailoa, the leader of a normally high-powered offense, left with an ankle injury in the second quarter and didn’t return to the field. Tennessee freshman Brian Maurer had also exited with an unspecified injury, replaced by former starter Jarrett Guarantano.
The end result was familiar: Alabama’s 13th consecutive win over the rival Vols.
Trevon Diggs recovered Guarantano’s fumble on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and raced 100 yards for a touchdown to end the threat. Tennessee could have cut the deficit to a touchdown, down 28-13.
Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt had some angry words for Guarantano as the quarterback walked toward the sideline, pointing his finger toward him and briefly grabbing at his facemask.
Harris was already delivering before Tagovailoa’s injury. He wound up running for 105 yards and two touchdowns and adding 48 yards on four catches. It was the second straight 100-yard game for a playmaker often overshadowed by Tagovailoa and the passing game.
Alabama got a cushion when reserve wide receiver Slade Bolden threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Miller Forristall in the end zone with 4:55 in the third. Bolden did a celebratory dance toward the sideline, where he was swarmed by teammates.
It was a needed pick-me-up with the Vols riding momentum and having cut it to 21-13 with a field goal. The defense then made a stop with Terrell Lewis sacking Guarantano on third down.
Tagovailoa finished 11-of-12 passing for 155 yards but also threw an interception on first-and-goal from the 2 when he scrambled around and forced the ball. Backup Mac Jones passed for 72 yards.
No. 2 LSU 36, (at) Mississippi State 13: Joe Burrow threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns to break the LSU season record with 29.
LSU (7-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) had 415 yards of total offense and averaged 6.9 yards per play.
Mississippi State (3-4, 1-3) sacked Burrows three times and regularly confounded the Tigers on third down, but LSU managed to score points on every drive of the first half and led 22-7 at the break. A pair of third-quarter touchdowns sealed the win.
Burrows was 25 of 32 and again threw prolifically to Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase. Jefferson had eight catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. Chase had five catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Racey McMath and Derrick Dillon also caught TD passes.
Mississippi State freshman Garrett Shrader threw for 238 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He also rushed for 66 yards and another touchdown.
No. 3 Clemson 45, (at) Louisville 10: Trevor Lawrence overcame two early interceptions to throw three touchdown passes, Travis Etienne rushed for 192 yards and a score and Clemson routed Louisville for its 22nd consecutive victory.
Darien Rencher and Chez Mellusi added rushing TDs for the Tigers (7-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who missed first-quarter chances to build a big lead when Lawrence was picked off twice near the goal line. The sophomore quarterback settled down to hit Joseph Ngata and Justyn Ross with second-quarter TDs for a 17-3 halftime lead.
Lawrence’s 10-yard TD to Cornell Powell made it 31-3, and he finished 20 of 29 for 233 yards.
The Tigers also posted six sacks and kept Louisville (4-3, 2-2) out of the end zone until Javian Hawkins’ 3-yard TD late in the game.
(At) No. 5 Oklahoma 52, West Virginia 14: Jalen Hurts passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 75 yards and two more scores for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) is unbeaten in eight games against West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012. The Sooners have won 20 of their last 21 games.
Oklahoma, which rolled up 562 yards of offense, has scored at least 34 points in 17 straight games, the second-longest such streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 1980. The Sooners didn’t score a touchdown in the fourth quarter, though; they’ve now scored a touchdown in every quarter but two this season.
West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall, who spent three seasons at Oklahoma as a backup to Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray before transferring, completed 15 of 31 passes for 182 yards, including touchdowns of 38 and 7 yards to T.J. Simmons. Hurts, whose transfer from Alabama to Oklahoma led to Kendall’s transfer, completed 16 of 17 passes, with the incompletion a drop by freshman Drake Stoops.
No. 9 Florida 38, (at) South Carolina 27: Kyle Trask threw for a career-high four touchdowns, three in the fourth quarter, to help Florida bounce back from its loss at LSU.
The Gators (7-1, 4-1 SEC) slogged through a soggy field from Tropical Storm Nestor for much of the game. But they eventually came to life and rallied past a South Carolina (3-4, 2-3) team looking to take down a Top 10 opponent for the second straight week after its 20-17 double-overtime win at Georgia.
Instead, it was Florida, off its 42-28 defeat at LSU, that kept making plays on the way to its best start since 2015.
In the final period, down 20-17, Trask faced fourth-and-3 on South Carolina’s 34 before scrambling from pressure to pick up the first down with a 9-yard pass to Kyle Pitts. Trask followed with the go-ahead 25-yard touchdown throw to Lamical Perine.
(At) No. 10 Georgia 21, Kentucky 0: D’Andre Swift’s 39-yard touchdown run in the third quarter snapped a scoreless tie, and Georgia overcame a slow start to beat Kentucky.
Swift, who ran for 179 yards, added a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Brian Herrien ran for 60 yards, including an 8-yard scoring run.
Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC) recovered from last week’s loss to South Carolina by finally taking advantage of its SEC-leading ground game in the second half.
Each offense was affected by Nestor, the former tropical storm which dumped rain on Athens throughout the day. The wet conditions contributed to the scoreless first half.
Kentucky (3-4, 1-4) got 99 yards rushing from Lynn Bowden in his second start at quarterback.
No. 11 Auburn 51, (at) Arkansas 10: Bo Nix passed for three touchdowns and ran for another for Auburn.
Nix turned a close game into a blowout by throwing two TD passes in a 22-seconds in the third quarter. Before the quick scores, Arkansas had pulled within 17-3 on Connor Limpert’s 28-yard field goal.
Nix, a true freshman, hit Seth Williams down the right sideline on a 48-yard pass with 4:19 left in the third quarter, then after an Auburn interception, connected with Anthony Schwartz on a 15-yard scoring strike to give the Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC) some breathing room.
Arkansas is 0-4 in the SEC and 2-5 overall.
(At) No. 13 Utah 21, No. 17 Arizona State 3: Zack Moss broke Utah’s career rushing record and scored two touchdowns in the Utes’ victory over Arizona State in the rain.
The Utes (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) ended Arizona State’s modern-era record streak of 125 games with more than 10 points. The last time the Sun Devils were held under double-digits was a 28-0 loss to Southern California in 2008.
Moss was held in check most of the game as Arizona State (5-2, 2-2) keyed on the senior back. But Moss broke through the line and outraced the defense for a 32-yard touchdown run that broke the rushing mark with 5:24 left.
Moss ran for 99 yards on 25 carries to push his total to 3,264. Eddie Johnson set the previous record, running for 3,219 yards from 1984-88.
Eno Benjamin ran for 104 yards but Arizona State managed only 136 yards of total offense. Freshman Jayden Daniels was 4-for-18 for 25 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times.
(At) BYU 28, No. 14 Boise State 25: Baylor Romney threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start to help BYU snap a three-game losing streak.
The Cougars turned to Romney, their third-string quarterback, with Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall both sidelined with injuries. He threw two scoring passes to Matt Bushman and helped deliver a second home win for BYU (3-4) over a Top 25 opponent this season.
Chase Cord, Boise State's No. 2 quarterback, got the call with Hank Bachmeier out because of an injury. He struggled in his first career start, throwing for 185 yards, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions.
Boise State (6-1) was dealt a serious blow to its New Year's Six bowl hopes with the team's first loss to BYU since 2015.
(At) No. 15 Texas 50, Kansas 48: Cameron Dicker made a 33-yard field goal as time expired and Texas survived Kansas’ desperate upset bid after the teams exchanged six touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Kansas took a 48-47 lead on Carter Stanley’s 2-point conversion pass to Daylon Charlot with 1:11 to play. Sam Ehlinger then drove the Longhorns into field goal range for Dicker, who calmly drilled the winner. Ehlinger completed two big passes to Collin Johnson to keep the drive going for Texas (5-2, 3-1 Big 12).
Kansas, under first-year coach Les Miles, nearly had a victory that would have jumbled the Big 12. And the Jayhawks (2-5, 0-4) were oh-so-close. Pooka Williams rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns for the and Stanley passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
Ehlinger was just slightly better in crunch time. Ehlinger finished with 399 yards passing and four touchdowns. He also ran for 91 yards to save Texas on a night the program honored its 1969 national championship team with special uniforms and a halftime celebration.
The fourth quarter packed big play after big play, including a 98-yard defensive conversion when Texas returned a blocked extra point.
No. 18 Baylor 45, (at) Oklahoma State 27: Charlie Brewer completed 13 of 17 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score and Baylor extended its winning streak to nine games.
JaMycal Hasty rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and had 66 yards on three receptions for Baylor (7-0, 4-0 Big 12).
Josh Fleeks added three receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown, and the Bears had 536 yards of total offense.
Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher, ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries for Oklahoma State (4-3, 1-3 Big 12).
(At) No. 19 SMU 45, Temple 21: Shane Buechele set career highs with six touchdown passes and 457 passing yards to help SMU improve to 7-0.
Reggie Roberson Jr. had a career-high 250 receiving yards on eight catches, including touchdowns of 75, 60 and 33 yards.
The Mustangs have opened the season with seven straight wins for the first time since 1982, when they were 10-0-0 en route to an 11-0-1 finish.
Temple (5-2, 2-1) scored on a 1-yard runs by Ra’Mahn Davis and Anthony Russo and a 25-yard pass from Russo to Branden Mack.
(At) No. 21 Cincinnati 24, Tulsa 13: Gerrid Doaks ran for a pair of touchdowns and turned a short pass into a 28-yard score, helping Cincinnati hold on after losing its top running back.
Doaks moved into a bigger role when Michael Warren II left the game twice with leg injuries. He became the focal point of an offense that had just enough to get Cincinnati (6-1, 3-0 American) a win on a day when the Bearcats remembered one of their best teams.
The Bearcats honored the 2009 team that went unbeaten in the regular season before losing to Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Players and former Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly — in town while Notre Dame has a bye — came on the field during the first timeout.
Tulsa dropped to 3-3 in the American and 2-5 overall.
(At) Vanderbilt 21, No. 22 Missouri 14: Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset Missouri with a stifling defensive performance.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for a touchdown and also took a screen 61 yards for another score as Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC) snapped a three-game skid to Missouri after losing five of the previous seven.
The Commodores sacked Kelly Bryant three times, and Allan George intercepted Bryant’s pass in the end zone with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
Missouri (5-2, 2-1) had a chance to tie, but Vanderbilt sacked Bryant for the third time, and Tucker McCann pulled a 48-yarder wide left for his second missed field goal. Vanderbilt ran out the final 6 minutes.
(At) No. 24 Appalachian State 52, Louisiana-Monroe 7: Zac Thomas threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score and Appalachian State beat Louisiana-Monroe for its first victory as a Top 25 team.
Darrynton Evans added 177 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to help Appalachian State (6-0, 3-0 Sun Belt) extend the nation’s third-longest winning streak to 12 games. Only Clemson (22) and Ohio State (13) have longer active streaks.
The defense limited Louisiana-Monroe’s Caleb Evans to 75 yards passing and had two interceptions. Josh Johnson ran for 77 yards for Louisiana-Monroe (3-4, 2-1).