Saturday's Top 25: Sanders, Hubbard lead No. 6 Oklahoma State past Iowa State
Stillwater, Okla. — Spencer Sanders waited a long time for this moment.
Oklahoma State’s sophomore quarterback passed for 235 yards and ran for 71 and a touchdown in his return from injury, and the sixth-ranked Cowboys defeated No. 17 Iowa State 24-21 on Saturday.
Sanders suffered a right hand injury late last season and missed most of the action in the final three games. This season, he injured his right ankle in the season opener against Tulsa and hadn’t played since.
His return had its rough spots – he threw two interceptions. But he made enough plays – including a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jelani Woods – to get his team through.
“I was really frustrated with myself for getting hurt, so I’m really happy that I’m back,” he said. “A little frustrated with myself with the two turnovers today, but I’m going to let it go.”
Sanders said he was careful, but aggressive as a runner. He had 15 carries, taking away some of Iowa State’s focus away from star running back Chuba Hubbard.
“I ran hard, but I never let anybody one-on-one just take me down,” Sanders said. “I was always laying my body to the side knowing I was going to get tackled – just going down rather than taking that extra hit.”
Hubbard ran for 139 yards and a touchdown for Oklahoma State (4-0, 3-0 Big 12). With the win, the Cowboys joined Kansas State as the only remaining undefeated teams in conference play.
The Cyclones (3-2, 3-1) vaulted onto the national radar by beating Oklahoma earlier in the month and were seeking their first ever 4-0 start in league play. Iowa State’s Breece Hall, who was second nationally in yards rushing per game, ran for a career-high 185 yards. But the Cyclones were a few plays short and made a few too many mistakes.
“We definitely left some out there,” Hall said. “We got down to the red zone a couple times and didn’t convert and get any points and took some unnecessary penalties and had miscommunication. It was real frustrating.”
With Oklahoma State leading 14-7 late in the second quarter, Iowa State drove deep into Oklahoma State territory but had to settle for a field goal attempt. Connor Assalley’s 33-yard kick bounced off the right upright with 1:22 left in the first half. It was his second missed field goal of the first half, and Oklahoma State took its seven-point lead into the break.
Hall broke away for a 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and the Cyclones tied the game at 14.
Sanders’ 14-yard touchdown run on the next possession gave the Cowboys the lead again, and Alex Hale’s 31-yard field goal pushed the lead to 24-14.
Brock Purdy threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Hutchinson with 49 seconds remaining to trim Oklahoma State’s lead to 24-21. Oklahoma State recovered Iowa State’s onside kick, and the Cowboys ran out the clock.
“We’ll tip our hat to Oklahoma State,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “Hard-fought football game. They made some plays when they had the opportunity to make them. We had opportunities to make plays and just didn’t.”
More Top 25
(At) Clemson 47, Syracuse 21: Trevor Lawrence threw two touchdown passes, Travis Etienne ran for three scores and Clemson shook off a sluggish performance to win its 27th straight Atlantic Coast Conference game and put away pesky Syracuse.
The Tigers opened 6-0 for the sixth straight season, but it took a late burst to get it done – just like usual against Syracuse (1-5, 1-4). The Orange were the last ACC team to beat the Tigers (5-0 ACC) with a 27-24 victory in 2017. A year later at Death Valley, Syracuse again looked primed for the upset as it held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before Clemson’s 27-23 escape to keep its national championship season intact.
Syracuse kept the Tigers out of synch much of the game and was down just 27-21 late in the third quarter. But Andrew Booth Jr.‘s fumble recovery and touchdown run after Rex Culpepper was sacked late in the third quarter turned the game in Clemson’s favor for good.
Etienne added rushing TDs of 9 and 1 yard. Lawrence threw for 289 yards with scoring passes of 25 yards to Cornell Powell and 18 yards to Davis Allen.
The Tigers broke fast for a 17-0 lead less than 11 minutes into the game. That’s when things got away from the five-time defending ACC champion. Syracuse freshman Drew Tuazama blocked a punt and four plays later Sean Tucker scored on a 7-yard run. Then right before half, Orange cornerback Garrett Williams caught a pass off Amari Rodgers’ hands and took it 39 yards for a pick six.
Syracuse made it a one-score game when Nykeim Johnson caught an 83-yard TD pass from Culpepper to draw to 27-21 – and stun the crowd of about 19,000 before Booth’s defensive score got the Tigers rolling to victory.
No. 2 Alabama 48, Tennessee 17: Mac Jones threw for 387 yards and ran for a touchdown, and Najee Harris ran for three more scortes to help Alabama rout Tennessee for its 14th straight win in the rivalry.
The Crimson Tide (5-0) outgained Tennessee 587-302. But playing the Vols proved costly for Alabama a second straight season. A year ago, Tua Tagovailoa hurt an ankle in the second quarter and missed the next game against Arkansas.
On Saturday, Waddle rolled his right ankle as he was tackled on the opening kickoff and was taken by cart to the locker room. Alabama coach Nick Saban said Waddle had a high ankle sprain with a fracture that probably will need surgery.
Tennessee (2-3) forced Alabama to punt on its opening drive. That was as close as the Vols would get in losing their seventh straight in this series in Neyland Stadium.
No. 3 Notre Dame 45, Pittsburgh 3: Ian Book passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns – two of them long catch-and-runs to graduate transfer Ben Skowronek – and Notre Dame overwhelmed reeling Pittsburgh.
A week after scuffling its way past Louisville, Notre Dame (5-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) had no such issues while handling the Panthers (3-4, 2-4) their fourth consecutive loss.
Book hit Skowronek for a 34-yard score on Fighting Irish’s first possession and Pitt – playing without injured senior quarterback Kenny Pickett for a second straight week – simply could not keep up.
Notre Dame’s massive offensive line held its own against one of the nation’s best pass-rushing teams and when Book had time, he had no trouble finding teammates open downfield. Book averaged 19.5 yards per completion and often had to do little more than flip the ball up and let his playmakers do the rest. He connected with Skowronek for a 73-yard score in the second quarter, with the 6-foot-3 Skowronek doing most of the work as he out-jumped 5-9 Pitt defensive back Marquis Williams for the ball then sprinted to the end zone to make it 14-3.
No. 9 Cincinnati 42, (at) No. 16 SMU 13: Desmond Ridder ran for 179 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 126 yards and a score to help Cincinnati beat SMU in a showdown of unbeaten teams.
Cincinnati (4-0, 2-0 American) played its first game since Oct. 3. The Bearcats had an open date the following weekend and then had their scheduled Oct. 17 home game against Tulsa moved to Dec. 5 because of positive COVID-19 cases at Cincinnati and the quarantining of athletes at the school.
Ridder completed 13 of 21 passes. He had scoring runs of 15, 32 and 91 yards, and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Whyle to open the scoring.
Gerrid Doaks ran for 105 yards on 20 carries, with touchdown runs of 1 and 35 yards.
Shane Buechele threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Rashee Rice, and Chris Naggar kicked field goals of 26 and 22 yards for SMU (5-1, 2-1). The Mustangs fell short of opening with six straight wins for the second straight season.
(At) No. 11 Miami 19, Virginia 14: D’Eriq King threw for 322 yards and a touchdown, Mike Harley had career bests of 10 catches for 170 yards and Miami outlasted Virginia.
Harley’s big night for Miami (5-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) started with a 43-yard touchdown grab on the Hurricanes’ second play from scrimmage. King completed his first nine passes and finished 21 for 30. Don Chaney had a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth for Miami.
Brennan Armstrong, back in the lineup after missing a game with a concussion, completed 16 of 30 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns for Virginia (1-4, 1-4). It was the fourth straight loss for the Cavaliers, and this marks the first time since 2013 that they’ve played four consecutive games without ever holding a lead. Armstrong also ran for 91 yards.
(At) No. 12 BYU 52, Texas State 14: Zach Wilson threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Cougars. He had at least 200 yards passing before halftime for the fourth time in six games, and it was his second consecutive game with at least four TD passes.
BYU (6-0) piled up 579 total yards and 30 first downs on its way to matching the team's best start since 2008. Fourteen players caught a pass and 11 had at least one carry, led by Tyler Allgeier with 77 yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts.
(At) No. 14 North Carolina 48, No. 23 North Carolina State 21: Javonte Williams ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns and North Carolina beat North Carolina State in the renewal of the longtime state rivalry.
Michael Carter ran for 106 yards and a score of his own for the Tar Heels (4-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who used a run-through-and-over-tacklers ground game that helped them take control in the third quarter. UNC ran for 326 yards and finished with 578 overall, bouncing back from an upset loss at Florida State to beat the Wolfpack (4-2, 4-2).
Sam Howell threw for 252 yards and a TD for the Tar Heels, while Dyami Brown had 105 yards on a career-best seven catches.
(At) Wake Forest 23, No. 19 Virginia Tech 16: Walk-on freshman safety Nick Andersen had three interceptions, Christian Beal-Smith ran for 129 yards and Nick Sciba kicked three field goals to help Wake Forest beat Virginia Tech.
Andersen stopped two deep Hokies drives and the third ended their final possession.
Beal-Smith set the tone for the Demon Deacons (3-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) with a 58-yard run on the game’s first series. He later added runs of 26 and 19 yards.
Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman threw only 17 times, completing 12 for 110 yards. But he scrambled 9 yards for the game’s first score. Hendon Hooker threw for 223 yards and ran for another 98 for the Hokies (3-2, 3-2). They had won six of the previous seven games between the schools.
(At) No. 20 Kansas State 55, Kansas 14: Phillip Brooks returned a pair of punts for touchdowns, Kansas State took advantage of an embarrassing day of special teams by its biggest rival, and the Wildcats rolled past Kansas,
Will Howard threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns while Justin Gardner returned an interception 25 yards for another score, helping the Wildcats (4-1) improve to 4-0 in the Big 12 for the first time since 2014.
Deuce Vaughn added 71 yards rushing and another touchdown as Kansas State beat the Jayhawks (0-5, 0-4) for a series-record 12th straight time. Kansas has not beaten its Interstate 70 rival since Nov. 1, 2008, in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks were playing their first game since coach Les Miles returned from a positive COVID-19 test.
(At) No. 22 Marshall 20, Florida Atlantic 9: Brenden Knox rushed for 101 yards and caught one of redshirt freshman Grant Wells’ two touchdown passes to lead Marshall over pandemic-depleted Florida Atlantic.
Marshall (5-0, 3-0 Conference USA) managed enough offense to hold off the pesky Owls (1-1, 1-1).
FAU brought 57 players on its first trip of the season, just above the mandated minimum of 53 available scholarship players during the pandemic. The Owls even held a third-quarter lead before Marshall scored the final 13 points. With FAU missing both of its starting offensive tackles due to the virus, the Owls were limited to 234 yards of offense.
(At) No. 25 Coastal Carolina 28, Georgia Southern 14: Backup quarterback Fred Payton three three touchdown passes and Coastal Carolina won its first game as a ranked team with a victory over Georgia Southern.
The Chanticleers (5-0, 3-0 Sun Belt) played without starting passer Grayson McCall, who has an upper-body injury. Payton threw a 24-yard TD pass to running back C.J. Marable with 8:53 remaining to break tie.
Georgia Southern dropped to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the Sun Belt.