Saturday's Top 25: QB Uiagalelei rallies No. 1 Clemson to 34-28 win over Boston College

Peter Iacobelli
Associated Press

Clemson, S.C. — Freshman DJ Uiagalelei already made Clemson history by leading the biggest comeback in the history of Death Valley. He’ll get the chance to make even more next week with Trevor Lawrence ruled out for the showdown with No 4 Notre Dame due to COVID-19.

Uiagalelei stepped in for Lawrence on Saturday and rallied the top-ranked Tigers to a 34-28 victory over Boston College after they fell behind by 18 points.

Rattled at facing the Fighting Irish? The kid from California sure doesn’t sound like it.

Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, left, passes the ball during the first half against Boston College on Saturday in Clemson, S.C.

“It’s the same mindset that I had this week,” Uiagalelei said. “Start watching some film tomorrow to get ready for another game.”

Smooth and calm, Uiagalelei looked ready-made for any challenge after leading Clemson back from 28-10 deficit, a rally that surpassed a 17-point come back from 35-18 down at home in a win over Virginia in 1966.

“I’ve been preparing for this ever since I got to Clemson,” he said.

Although, he and his teammates probably didn’t anticipate trailing by double-digits late in the second quarter.

“Being down 18 is not a lot of points,” Uiagalelei said with his cool, California confidence.

“We all had complete confidence in ourselves that if we could execute, we’d get back in it,” he said.

Travis Etienne became the Atlantic Coast Conference’s career rushing leader and his second TD put the Tigers (7-0, 6-0) ahead for good. A jarring week for Clemson ended with its 28th straight win over league competition, 10th straight over the Eagles and 27th in a row at home.

Clemson was missing several key players. Along with Lawrence, starting linebackers James Skalski and Mike Jones Jr. were out with injuries.

The Eagles (4-3, 3-3) pounced quickly, putting Clemson in a 28-10 hole in the second quarter with the virus-reduced crowd stunned to near silence.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told his team at halftime, “Don’t flinch.”

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been down like this,” he said. “We’re fixing to find out what this team’s made of.”

It’s made of highly talented players ready for the moment like Uiagalelei, from Inland Empire near Los Angeles who showed why he was a five-star prospect coveted by every college power and the heir apparent once Lawrence leaves for the NFL.

Uiagalelei ran for a 30-yard TD on Clemson’s opening third-quarter drive to begin the comeback, then threw an 8-yard scoring strike to Amari Rodgers that drew the Tigers to 28-26.

Etienne, Clemson’s other Heisman contender, put the Tigers in front for good with a 17-yard touchdown run with 11:34 to go.

The Eagles got the ball back with 1:24 to. But Phil Jurkovec was called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety, a fitting end to a second-half shutout by the Clemson defense.

“LETS GO!!! So happy for this team. Great win. Miss being there more than anything. @DJUiagalelei did your thing proud of you,” Lawrence posted on Twitter shortly after the win.

Etienne ran for 84 yards, pushing him to 4,644 in his four seasons and past North Carolina State’s Ted Brown (4,602) as the ACC’s all-time leader.

Etienne also had seven catches for 140 yards. Cornell Powell had a game-high 11 receptions for 105 yards.

And all with Lawrence watching from in isolation. By missing next week, the earliest Lawrence would be back is at Florida State on Nov. 21. Clemson is off Nov. 14.

Swinney said Lawrence was in good spirits and spoke to the team Friday night via Zoom.

Boston College took advantage of the Clemson chaos early on with TDs on its first two series.

Phil Jurkovec found Zay Flowers for an 18-yard TD pass to put the Tigers behind for the first time all season. A short time later, it was David Bailey’s 2-yard scoring run that put the Eagles ahead for good, 14-7.

It appeared Clemson would tie things again, driving to the BC 1. But the normally sure-handed Etienne fumbled the handoff from Uiagalelei, cornerback Brandon Sebastian picked it up and set off 97 yards for the return TD.

When Jurkovec hit C.J. Lewis for an 18-yard touchdown on the next series, Clemson trailed by 18 points.

Despite the loss, first-year Eagles coach Jeff Hafley was proud of his players' belief and confidence they could compete with anyone. “We took it to the No. 1 team in the country,” Hafley said.

Jurkovec, the Notre Dame transfer, completed 12 of 24 passes for 204 yards.

More Top 25

(At) No. 2 Alabama 41, Mississippi State 0: Mac Jones threw four touchdown passes to DeVonta Smith, who had 203 receiving yards, and Alabama routed Mississippi State.

The Crimson Tide (6-0) had a dominant defensive performance, handing new Bulldogs coach Mike Leach the first shutout of his college career. It was Alabama’s first shutout since a 24-0 victory over Mississippi State on Nov. 10, 2018.

Smith caught first-quarter touchdowns passes of 35 and 53 yards to help send the Bulldogs (1-4) to their fourth straight loss.

Smith took over the starring receiving role in the absence of Jaylen Waddle, lost to a likely season-ending ankle injury. He made 11 catches and moved into a tie with Amari Cooper for the most career receiving touchdowns with No. 31 early in the fourth.

Smith also vaulted over Jerry Jeudy and Calvin Ridley into No. 3 on Alabama’s career receiving yards list with 2,868. Jones completed 24 of 31 for 291 yards before sitting out most of the fourth. Najee Harris gained 119 yards on 21 carries.

No. 4 Notre Dame 31, (at) Georgia Tech 13:  Kyren Williams ran for two touchdowns, Ian Book passed for another and Notre Dame moved on to its biggest game of the season with a dominant defensive performance, stifling Georgia Tech.

Book completed 18 of 26 passes for 199 yards in another efficient performance for the Fighting Irish (6-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Williams shook off a fumble that Georgia Tech returned for a touchdown to score on runs of 2 and 4 yards. He finished with 76 yards on 15 carries.

Next up for Notre Dame: a showdown against No. 1 Clemson in South Bend. And the Irish won’t have to face, Trevor Lawrence, the star quarterback who will have to sit out the game after testing positive for COVID-19.

Georgia Tech (2-5, 2-4) has lost three in a row by a combined score of 152-47.

No. 5 Georgia 14, (at) Kentucky 3: Zamir White ran for a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown, Stetson Bennett also ran for a score and Georgia beat Kentucky for its 11th straight victory in the series.

Their scores opened both halves as the Bulldogs (4-1 Southeastern Conference) improved to 5-1 after off weeks under coach Kirby Smart. Georgia had 215 yards on the ground.

Bennett completed 9 of 13 passes for 131 yards with two interceptions.

White carried 26 times, also a career best, including a fourth-and-1 burst for an easy 22-yard TD run and double-digit lead early in the third quarter. Bennett’s 2-yard score capped an 86-yard, 12-play initial drive that set the tone for Georgia’s control of the line of scrimmage on its limited possessions.

Chris Rodriguez rushed 20 times for 108 yards for Kentucky (2-4).

Texas 41, (at) No. 6 Oklahoma State 34, OT: Sam Ehlinger threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Moore in overtime and Joseph Ossai sealed the victory by sacking quarterback Spencer Sanders as Texas knocked off the previously unbeaten Cowboys.

Oklahoma State (4-1, 3-1 Big 12) outgained Texas 530 yards to 287, but the Cowboys turned the ball over four times and saw their hopes to reach the College Football Playoff take a major blow.

Same goes for the entire Big 12.

After Kansas State’s loss to West Virginia earlier in the day, Oklahoma State entered the game as the only remaining unbeaten team in Big 12 play. Now, the race is jumbled and Texas (4-2, 3-2) is back in the picture to possibly play in the championship game.

Sanders passed for career highs of 400 yards and four touchdowns, but he fumbled twice and threw an interception – turnovers that led to 13 Texas points. Tylan Wallace caught 11 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

Oklahoma State forced overtime on Alex Hale’s 34-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.

(At) No. 7 Cincinnati 49, Memphis 10: Desmond Ridder threw touchdown passes and ran for two scores, Jerome Ford also scored twice and Cincinnati beat Memphis to remain undefeated.

Playing in a Nippert Stadium nearly empty due to COVID-19 protocols, the Bearcats (5-0, 3-0 American Athletic) decisively snapped a five-game losing streak against Memphis (3-2, 2-2).

Ridder, who set a program record for quarterbacks with 179 yards rushing while throwing three touchdown passes a week earlier at Southern Methodist, finished 21 of 26 for 271 yards with an interception.

(At) No. 8 Texas A&M 43, Arkansas 31: Kellen Mond threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns, Texas A&M built a big lead and held on beat Arkansas for the ninth straight time.

Jalen Wydermyer had a career-high 92 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Ainias Smith ran for a touchdown and caught a TD pass in the first half to help A&M win its third straight since losing to No. 2 Alabama.

Mond threw TD passes of 35, 6 and 15 yards. The senior added 32 yards rushing to give him 10,015 yards of total offense in his career, passing 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel (9,989), who played just two seasons, for the most in school history.

The Aggies (4-1) led by 14 at halftime and scored two touchdowns in the third quarter while limiting the Razorbacks (2-3) to a field goal to make it 42-17 entering the fourth quarter.

(At) No. 10 Florida 41, Missouri 17: Kadarius Toney scored three times, Kyle Trask became the first player in school history with four touchdown passes in four consecutive games and Florida returned from a three-week layoff to handle Missouri.

The Gators’ easiest win of the season came after a COVID-19 outbreak forced the Southeastern Conference to postpone two of their games. It also included a benches-clearing scuffle at halftime that involved both coaches.

Several players threw punches during the melee, but just three were ejected. The conference could hand down more punishments following a review. It could be costly for Florida (3-1), which plays rival and fifth-ranked Georgia next week in nearby Jacksonville. The game is likely to decide the winner of the East Division.

The fight started when Missouri’s Trajan Jeffcoat delivered what looked like a high, late hit on Trask after he released a Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter. The ball fell incomplete, and Trask landed hard on his back. His linemen came to his defense. So did coach Dan Mullen, who started screaming at the officials and the opposing sideline. Players from both teams converged near Missouri’s sideline, and wild punches could be seen flying and connecting.

Missouri is 2-3.

(At) No. 11 BYU 41, Western Kentucky 10: Zach Wilson threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 35 yards and another score to help the Cougars win easily. Tyler Allgeier ran for 95 yards and a touchdown for BYU.

At 7-0 heading into a showdown at No. 25 Boise State on Friday night, BYU is off to its best start since 2001 when the Cougars won their first 12 games in Gary Crowton's debut season. They have totaled at least 400 yards on offense in each of their seven games and are averaging 527.7 yards.

Much of BYU's yardage against Western Kentucky came on chunk plays. Seven run plays went 10 or more yards and four passing plays totaled 15 or more.

(At) Virginia 44, No. 15 North Carolina 41: Brennan Armstrong threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score, and Virginia scored 28 consecutive points before holding on to beat North Carolina.

Armstrong hit Shane Simpson for 71 yards, Ra’Shaun Henry for 18 and Tony Poljan for 17, the latter giving the Cavaliers (2-4, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 41-20 lead with 5:34 left in the third quarter on their way to their fourth consecutive victory in the series.

The Tar Heels (4-2, 4-2) made it close behind a fantastic performance from quarterback Sam Howell and receiver Dyami Brown. The pair hooked up for three of Howell’s four touchdown passes, covering 54, 10 and 13 yards. Howell also hit Khafre Brown with a slant pass that he took 76 yards to the end zone.

(At) West Virginia 37, No. 16 Kansas State 10: Jarret Doege threw two touchdown passes, Dylan Tonkery returned an interception for a score and West Virginia beat Kansas State.

Leddie Brown ran for 102 yards and a score to help the Mountaineers (4-2, 3-2 Big 12) knock the Wildcats from their solo perch atop the league standings.

Kansas State freshman Will Howard threw three interceptions and the Wildcats (4-2, 4-1) went scoreless after halftime to see their four-game winning streak snapped.

The Big 12′s top defense held Kansas State to 225 total yards, including 73 in the second half.

No. 20 Coastal Carolina 51, (at) Georgia State 0: Grayson McCall passed for 254 yards and four touchdowns, Jaivon Heiligh scored twice and Coastal Carolina cruised past Georgia State.

CJ Marable added two rushing touchdowns and 100 all-purpose yards for the Chanticleers (6-0, 4-0 Sun Belt Conference). Coastal Carolina has its most wins in a single season since joining FBS in 2017.

Georgia State (2-3, 1-3) looked nothing like the team that began the day leading the Sun Belt in scoring at 42 points per game. The Panthers’ previous two losses were by a combined 10 points with both coming down to the final possession.

(At) No. 22 SMU 51, Navy 37: Shane Buechele threw three touchdown passes, Ulysses Bentley IV ran for two scores and MU rebounded from its first loss to beat Navy.

The Mustangs (6-1, 3-1 American Athletic) scored 30 consecutive points from late in the second quarter to early in the fourth, a run that started with 10 points in the final 7 seconds of the first half.

After the first of Buechele’s two scoring tosses to Rashee Rice, Nelson Smith fumbled and SMU’s Gary Wiley won the scramble for the loose ball at the Navy 18 with a second remaining. Chris Naggar’s 34-yard field goal made it 31-17.

A week after finishing with a passer efficiency rating below 100 for the first time in two seasons at SMU, Buechele was at 207.5 after completing 23 of 28 passes for 300 yards with no interceptions.

The Midshipmen dropped to 3-4 overall and 3-2 in the AAC.

No. 23 Iowa State 52, (at) Kansas 22:  Breece Hall matched a career high with 185 yards rushing and two touchdowns, Brock Purdy threw two TD passes and had another score on the ground and Iowa State routed Kansas.

Purdy finished with 239 yards passing and Kene Nwangwu also hit the end zone for the Cyclones (4-2, 4-1 Big 12). They bounced back from a tough loss to No. 6 Oklahoma State by beating the Jayhawks for the sixth straight time.

The only bright spot for Kansas (0-6, 0-5) came on a 100-yard kickoff return by Kenny Logan in the second half.

No. 24 Oklahoma 62, (at) Texas Tech 28: Rhamondre Stevenson ran for three first-half touchdowns in his return for Oklahoma, Spencer Rattler threw for 288 yards and two scores in about 21/2 quarters and the Sooners beat Texas Tech for their third win in a row.

Stevenson made his season debut, along with defensive end Ronnie Perkins, after they had been suspended since before the Peach Bowl last season. They last played in the Big 12 championship game last year.

At one point, Stevenson revealed a T-shirt reading “I’m back” that he was wearing under his jersey. He ran 13 times for 87 yards, his third TD putting the Sooners (4-2, 3-2 Big 12) up 42-7 with 61/2 minutes left in the first half. Stevenson had a 6-yard score and two 1-yard TD runs.

Perkins had three tackles, two for losses.

Oklahoma scored touchdowns on six consecutive drives after Texas Tech (2-4, 1-4) opened the game with a 75-yard, seven-play drive.

Safety Tre Norwood had two interceptions for Oklahoma, becoming the first Sooners player with two in a game since 2016.

No. 25 Boise State 49, (at) Air Force 30: Jack Sears threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score while filling in for starter Hank Bachmeier, Avery Williams scored on an 88-yard kickoff return and Boise State beat Air Force.

CT Thomas hauled in two of Sears’ TD passes, including a 75-yarder on the game’s first play. The Broncos have won 11 straight Mountain West games. It’s their longest streak since joining the league in 2011.

Boise State (2-0, 2-0) was without Bachmeier after the sophomore QB didn’t make the trip for an unspecified reason. Sears, a transfer from Southern California, made the most of his chance by finishing 17 of 20 for 280 yards and no turnovers.

Air Force (1-2, 0-2) had a nine-game home winning streak snapped.