Saturday's Top 25: No. 1 LSU conquers No. 2 Alabama in shootout
Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Joe Burrrow sprinted toward the LSU fans to celebrate a monumental victory, and moments later was hoisted on the shoulders of two beefy teammates.
They carried him only partway across the field. The ride isn’t finished for Burrow and No. 1 LSU but the quarterback’s masterful performance Saturday in a 46-41 victory over nemesis and second-ranked Alabama marked a huge step toward the Tigers’ championship goals.
Burrow passed for 393 yards and three touchdowns, answered challenge after challenge and helped end the eight-year string of futility that started with the national title game in January 2012. Now, their sights are set on another shot at national and Southeastern Conference championships.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said that for the first time he told his players pre-Alabama, “You’re the better team.”
“We’ve finally got the tools that we need to beat those guys,” Orgeron said. “To have a championship team, you’ve got to have a championship quarterback.”
The Tigers (9-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference, No. 2 CFP) are no longer second fiddle in the SEC West, or maybe in the playoff rankings. And Burrow stamped himself as the Heisman Trophy front-runner with a gutty performance when he answered every challenge from ‘Bama.
And the challenges were plentiful.
That came as no surprise to Burrow.
“I knew they were going to come back,” he said. “That’s Alabama on the other side, dynasty. I was really happy with the way we responded.”
The Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1, No. 3 CFP) rallied from a 33-13 halftime deficit to three times to pull within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. It kept going from game seemingly over to game on.
The showdown lived up to its billing as a duel between two high-powered offenses and star quarterbacks with President Donald Trump attending. Tua Tagovailoa launched an 85-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith with 1:21 left after the Tigers’ own scoring march.
Justin Jefferson recovered the onside kick and LSU ran out the clock, finally triumphant over their SEC West nemesis.
Burrow completed 31 of 39 passes. ran for 64 yards and was carried most of the way off the field by two teammates.
The ride isn’t over for LSU. Burrow said titles are what he was after when he transferred to LSU from Ohio State.
“We’re not done yet,” the two-year starter said. “It’s Game 9. We’ve got three more regular-season ones and the SEC championship. This was never our goal. We’ve got bigger goals than this.”
Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for three touchdowns and caught a scoring pass, getting emotional on the sideline after a late touchdown that appeared once again to put the game away.
Tagovailoa, 20 days removed from ankle surgery, was 21 of 40 for 418 yards and four touchdowns with an interception and a fumble. He was called a “game-time decision” all week, looked shaky early and appeared to be limping after the game, but he kept Alabama in it.
Coach Nick Saban said Tagovailoa practiced all week without any issues.
“He said he could play in the game, he wanted to play in the game and he thought he could go out and do a good job,” Saban said. “I think he was a warrior in terms of what he did.”
Smith had 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns on seven catches for Alabama.
LSU outgained Alabama by a slender 559-541. The Tigers had scored just 39 combined points in the last five meetings, but this was an entirely different offense.
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No. 4 Clemson 55, (at) North Carolina State 10: Trevor Lawrence threw for two scores and ran for another in a dominating first quarter and Clemson routed North Carolina State to wrap a trip to Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
The reigning national champion Tigers learned this week that they were on the outside looking in for the first rankings for the four-team College Football Playoff. Yet coach Dabo Swinney had said the Tigers (10-0, 7-0, No. 5 CFP) were in a “good spot” and needed to focus instead on finishing strong.
Starting that way was enough against the Wolfpack (4-5, 1-4) as Clemson extended its school-record winning streak to 25 games. By halftime, Clemson led 42-0.
That first half was highlighted by 6-foot-4, 330-pound left guard John Simpson taking a goal-line handoff and plowing in for a 1-yard touchdown. Near the end of the game, Clemson added a 1-yard scoring run with 11 seconds left before letting linebacker James Skalski unsuccessfully kick the extra point.
(At) No. 6 Georgia 27, Missouri 0: Jake Fromm threw two touchdown passes to George Pickens and Georgia posted its third shutout, dominating a Missouri offense missing two of its biggest playmakers.
Georgia (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 6 College Football Playoff) moved closer to its third straight berth in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs can clinch the SEC East by beating No. 12 Auburn next week. Missouri (5-4, 2-3) fell to 0-4 in road games with its third straight loss. Quarterback Kelly Bryant and leading receiver Johnathon Johnson did not play.
Fromm capped Georgia’s opening drive with a 25-yard scoring pass to Pickens. The freshman also made a leaping grab for an 18-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
(At) No. 9 Oklahoma 42, Iowa State 41: Parnell Motley intercepted Brock Purdy’s two-point conversion pass with 24 seconds left and Oklahoma held off Iowa State.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell went for the victory on the two-point try after Charlie Kolar caught a 13-yard touchdown pass to pull the Cyclones – down 42-21 in the second half – within one.
Jalen Hurts passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 68 yards and two more scores for the Sooners (8-1, 5-1 Big 12, No. 9 CFP).
CeeDee Lamb had 167 yards and two touchdowns receiving and Kennedy Brooks ran for a season-high 132 yards to help Oklahoma bounce back from a loss to Kansas State two weeks ago. Oklahoma extended its November winning streak to 18 games and set up a showdown at league-leading Baylor next week.
Purdy passed for 282 yards and five touchdowns and Breece Hall rushed for 110 yards for the Cyclones (5-4, 3-3)
(At) No. 10 Florida 56, Vanderbilt 0: Kyle Trask threw for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns — the best passing performance by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow’s college finale — and the Gators overcame a lackluster start to thump Vanderbilt.
Florida (8-2, 5-2 SEC) was sluggish early, failing to convert a fourth down on the opening possession against the league’s worst defense, missing a field goal and throwing two interceptions. It looked like another version of the “Cocktail Party Hangover,” which seems to happen every year after losing to rival Georgia in the game dubbed the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
But the Gators responded with their most dominant quarter of the season, turning a 14-0 lead into a laugher in the Swamp. It ended with a sixth consecutive victory against the Commodores (2-7, 1-5) and 28th in the last 29 years.
Trask completed 25 of 37 passes and ran for a score before giving way to Emory Jones. Trask’s yardage was the most by a Florida quarterback since Tebow threw for 482 yards in the 2010 Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati.
No. 11 Baylor 29 (at) TCU 23 (3OT): Denzel Mims made a leaping 4-yard touchdown catch in the third overtime for Baylor, capping another comeback victory that kept the Bears undefeated.
Charlie Brewer also threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Mims on fourth down in the second overtime to extend the game. Brewer had a 3-yard scoring run in the first overtime.
The Bears (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) finally won on Grayland Arnold’s interception of Max Duggan’s fourth-down pass in the end zone.
Baylor forced overtime when John Mayers kicked a 51-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in regulation. The ball just cleared the crossbar to tie it at 9. TCU (4-5, 2-4) led 9-0 after Jonathan Song made two field goals at the end of the first half.
No. 15 Notre Dame 38, (at) Duke 7: Ian Book rushed for a career-best 139 yards and threw four touchdown passes for Notre Dame.
Book finished 18 of 32 for 181 yards passing, Chris Finke caught touchdown passes of 18 and 6 yards, and Chase Claypool and George Takacs also had short scoring catches.
C’Bo Flemister rushed 2 yards for a TD for the Fighting Irish (7-2, No. 15 CFP). In winning their second straight and fifth in six games, they rolled up 469 total yards, led 21-0 before the Blue Devils picked up their second first down and kept them at bay the rest of the way.
Quentin Harris was 16 of 28 for 102 yards for Duke (4-5) with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Young late in the second quarter. The Blue Devils have lost three straight and four of five since starting 3-1.
(At) No. 17 Cincinnati 48, Connecticut 3: Desmond Ridder threw for a pair of touchdowns and Michael Warren II ran for two more scores during a dominant opening half, and Cincinnati remained the only unbeaten team in American Athletic play.
The Bearcats (8-1, 5-0) retained the inside track for the conference title by ending their recent trend of slow starts. They led 38-0 at halftime against the conference’s lowliest team.
UConn (2-8, 0-6) had two players ejected while losing its 17th straight conference game. The Huskies have dropped 24 of their last 25 against FBS teams. They fell to 0-9 at Nippert Stadium.
(At) Texas 27, No. 20 Kansas State 24: Cameron Dicker kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired to lift Texas past Kansas State as the Longhorns maintained their hopes of returning to the Big 12 championship game.
Dicker has won games on the final play twice this season. His 33-yarder to beat Kansas on Oct. 19 capped a wild 50-48 finish.
Texas (6-3, 4-2) had lost two of its previous three games. The victory over the Wildcats (6-3, 3-3, No. 16 CFP) made the Longhorns bowl-eligible and kept them in the hunt for a berth in the league championship with three games left.
Keaontay Ingram rushed for 139 yards and two second-half touchdowns for the Longhorns. Kansas State rallied to tie it on Joshua Youngblood’s 98-yard kickoff return and Blake Lynch’s 45-yard field goal.
(At) Virginia Tech 36, No. 22 Wake Forest 17: Hendon Hooker accounted for 311 yards of total offense and ran for a touchdown to help Virginia Tech beat Wake Forest.
The Hokies (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) overcame a 0-6 halftime deficit, scoring 30 second-half points to beat a ranked team for the first time since last year at then-No. 22 Duke.
Deshawn McClease scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter. His 6-yard touchdown run with 7:02 remaining in the quarter gave the Hokies a 20-17 lead. He had 59 of the Hokies’ 228 yards rushing. Hooker completed 15 of 23 for 242 yards and rushed for 69 yards.
Jamie Newman completed 16 of 35 passes for 238 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Wake Forest (7-2, 3-2). Kendall Hinton caught eight passes for 162 yards.
(At) No. 23 SMU 59, East Carolina 51: Shane Buechele threw five touchdown passes, Xavier Jones broke one of Eric Dickerson’s school records and SMU bounced back from its first loss.
The Mustangs (9-1, 5-1 American Athletic) played from ahead and kept it that way in a second straight game with more than 1,000 combined yards. SMU had fallen behind and failed to close the gap last week in a 54-48 loss to No. 19 Memphis.
Buechele threw for 414 yards as the Mustangs finished with 636 total yards to 644 for the Pirates (3-7, 0-6). Kylen Granson caught three touchdowns passes, including a 31-yarder on fourth-and-20 with SMU leading 45-44 midway through the fourth quarter. Granson had 138 yards on seven receptions, and James Proche finished with 14 catches for 167 yards.
Jones, who ran for 157 yards, had three rushing touchdowns for the third time this season, giving him 18. His total touchdowns reached 20, one more than Dickerson had in 1981 — all on the ground. East Carolina’s Tyler Snead caught 19 passes for 240 yards.