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Saturday’s college football: Nix picks cost No. 15 Auburn in 30-22 loss to South Carolina

Pete Iacobelli
Associated Press

Columbia, S.C. — South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn was tired of hearing he didn’t have the ball skills to be a truly exceptional cornerback.

His play against No. 15 Auburn proved he did — and led the Gamecocks to a breakthrough win over the Tigers on Saturday.

Auburn wide receiver Eli Stove (12) celebrates a touchdown with Ze'Vian Capers (80) during the first half against South Carolina Saturday in Columbia, S.C.

Horn had the first two interceptions of his career and his pass break up led to a third — all which South Carolina turned into touchdowns — for a 30-22 victory that was its first win over Auburn in 87 years.

Horn is a junior who’s been a lockdown corner most of his career.

“If a team throws at him like that every game, he’ll have a game like that every game,” Gamecocks receiver Shi Smith said of Horn, the son of NFL receiver Joe Horn.

Horn was assigned to Auburn receiver Seth Williams, one of the best receivers in the Southeastern Conference, averaging 18 yards a catch. Williams finished with four catches for 74 yards, but no scores.

“I heard a lot of people saying I (don’t) have any ball skills, which is crazy to me,” Horn said. “I just knew the day would come when I’d have a lot of opportunities to make plays.”

South Carolina made plenty of them throughout to beat Auburn for the first time in 87 years.

Kevin Harris ran for two touchdowns, Smith added a 10-yard TD catch and Horn and the defense did enough to stop Bo Nix and the Tigers’ attack.

Auburn (2-2) had won eight straight in the series and jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes. But Nix, the sophomore quarterback, threw three picks and the Gamecocks (2-2) cashed in each time to win consecutive games for the first time in more than a year.

Smith had eight catches including his score midway through the third quarter that put South Carolina ahead for good, 20-19.

Auburn was driving on its following series when Nix threw his third interception — and second to c Horn who brought the ball down the left sidelines to the Tigers’ 8. Harris was in the end zone a play later for a 27-19 lead and Auburn could not recover.

The Tigers closed to 30-22 on Anders Carlson’s 22 yard field goal with 6:39 left. Auburn got the ball back once more with 2:15 left and drove to the South Carolina 13. Nix, though, was called for intentional grounding trying to avoid a sack and the Gamecocks held on to beat the Tigers for the first time since 1933.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said his team will have to get past this quickly. “We’re just going to have to be big boys and we’re going to have to man up and put it behind us and go into next week and find a way to win,” he said.

South Carolina had not won back-to-back games since defeating Kentucky and then-No. 3 Georgia last season. That win over the Bulldogs was the last time the Gamecocks had beaten a ranked opponent.

Auburn’s offense looked unstoppable the first half and doubled up South Carolina in yardage (243-119) the first 30 minutes — except when Nix put the ball in danger.

Nix had 272 yards passing and was sacked three times.

Bigsby, the Auburn freshman, had 111 yards rushing and went past the century mark for a second straight game.

Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe said the next week was critical for his team.

“We’re just going to stay together,” Pappoe said.

More Top 25

No. 1 Clemson 73, (at) Georgia Tech 7: Trevor Lawrence brushed off his first interception of the season to pass for a career-high 404 yards and five touchdowns in Clemson’s romp over Georgia Tech.

Lawrence completed 24 of 33 passes. All of his scoring passes came in the Tigers’ dominant first half. Clemson led 52-7 at halftime and kept adding to the lead in the second, even with second- and third- (and maybe fourth-) stringers on the field.

Lawrence left the game after Clemson’s first possession of the second half.

Clemson (5-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) outgained Georgia Tech (2-3, 2-2) 671-204. The Tigers compiled an equally lopsided 29-7 advantage in first downs.

The second-longest streak of passes without an interception in ACC history ended late in the first quarter when Zamari Walton picked off a pass by Lawrence. Under pressure from Georgia Tech’s pass rush, Lawrence overthrew Powell. Walton ended Lawrence’s streak of 367 passes without an interception.

It was Lawrence’s first interception since Oct. 19, 2019 at Louisville. North Carolina State’s Russell Wilson set the ACC record with 379 consecutive passes without an interception from 2018-19.

(At) No. 4 Notre Dame 12, Louisville 7: Kyren Williams ran for 127 yards, Ian Book had a 13-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and Notre Dame held off Louisville.

Williams ran 25 times and had his third 100-yard game of the season to help the Irish (4-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) win their 22nd straight at Notre Dame Stadium.

It came against an inspired 3-4 Louisville defense that spent most of the afternoon on the field. Notre Dame controlled the clock for more than 36 minutes, including a game-ending 14-play drive that burned the final 7:55.

Book completed 11 of 19 for 106 yards and ran 12 times for 47 yards.

The Cardinals (1-4, 0-4) have lost four in a row.

(At) Florida State 31, No. 5 North Carolina 29: Jordan Travis ran for two touchdowns and threw a scoring pass to help Florida State build a big first-half lead, and the Seminoles held off North Carolina.

Travis guided an offensive that generated 434 yards for Florida State (2-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), but was shut out in the second half.

North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell led three second-half touchdown drives to pull to 31-28, but the Tar Heels (3-1, 3-1) had drops on third and fourth down in the final seconds to end the comeback bid.

The Seminoles gave coach Mike Norvell a signature victory in his first season in Tallahassee following a shaky start that included a blowout loss at Miami.

Travis, a redshirt sophomore, completed 8 of 19 passes for 191 yards and ran 16 times for 107 yards as the Seminoles jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead, the most dominating performance for the program in recent memory.

No. 11 Texas A&M 28, (at) Mississippi State 14: Isaiah Spiller ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns and Kellen Mond threw for two scores to help Texas A&M beat Mississippi State.

Texas A&M (3-1) led 14-0 at the half and had 325 yards of total offense in the game. Ainias Smith caught five passes for 20 yards and a touchdown. Chase Lane had a 51-yard touchdown reception in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Mississippi State (1-3) had little offensive rhythm for the third straight game. The Bulldogs’ first touchdown came on Emmanuel Forbes’ interception return in the third quarter.

Bulldogs coach Mike Leach benched starting quarterback KJ Costello midway through the second half for freshman Will Rogers, same as he did last week in a 24-2 loss at Kentucky. Rogers connected with Malik Heath for a 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Texas A&M’s defense continually disrupted the line of scrimmage, finishing with six sacks and eight tackles for loss. Mississippi State had minus-2 yards rushing and 217 yards of total offense.

(At) No. 13 Miami 31, Pittsburgh 19: D’Eriq King threw four touchdown passes to help Miami beat Pittsburgh.

Will Mallory caught two of King’s scoring passes and the Hurricanes (4-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) bounced back from a 42-17 loss at top-ranked Clemson last week.

The Panthers (3-3, 2-3) lost their third straight and were without senior quarterback Kenny Pickett. He suffered an ankle injury against Boston College last week.

Kentucky 34, (at) No. 18 Tennessee 7: Kelvin Joseph and Jami Davis returned interceptions for touchdowns in the first half and Kentucky shut out Tennessee in the second half.

It was Kentucky’s first victory in Neyland Stadium since 1984, the Wildcats’ largest margin of victory in Knoxville since 56-0 in 1893 and their most lopsided victory in the series since 1935.

After getting six interceptions and allowing only a safety against Mississippi State last week, Kentucky (2-2) picked off three passes against the Vols (2-2).

Joseph’s 41-yard touchdown and Davis’ 85-yard return – both off interceptions thrown by Jarrett Guarantano – helped put Kentucky up 17-0 in the second quarter.

With about 5 minutes left in the third quarter and trailing by 20, Tennessee went three-and-out for a second consecutive possession and was showered with boos from the sparse crowd of 22,519.

(At) No. 23 Virginia Tech 40, Boston College 14: Hendon Hooker ran for a career-high 164 yards and three touchdowns and threw for a score in Virginia Tech’s victory over Boston College.

Khalil Herbert added 143 yards rushing for the Hokies (3-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). They ran for 350 yards in bouncing back from a road loss to North Carolina.

Virginia Tech scored off of four of BC’s five turnovers to pull away. The Eagles (3-2, 2-2) turned it over three times in the first half alone, with the most damaging coming when quarterback Phil Jurkovec overthrew an open Jaelen Gill deep in Virginia Tech territory. Devin Taylor intercepted the pass for the Hokies, and Hooker’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Herbert made it 17-7.

Boston College cut it to 17-14 on a touchdown pass from Jurkovec to Hunter Long with 7:11 left in the third quarter, but the Hokies scored the final 24 points – 17 of those off BC turnovers.