Saturday's Top 25: No. 6 Florida, QB Kyle Trask overcome slow start to beat Vanderbilt
Nashville, Tenn. — Florida quarterback Kyle Trask is all about winning – and not so much about awards and records.
Trask passed for 383 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 6 Florida rallied from an early deficit to beat Vanderbilt 38-17 on Saturday.
Trask, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, completed 26 of 35 passes to nine different receivers. He is the first quarterback in SEC history to accrue 30 touchdown passes in seven games.
“We knew they were going to be playing a lot of drop eight zones and we were going to have to find open windows and try to pick them apart,” Trask said. “I think I did a decent job of just being on the same page with my guys.
“At the end of the day, I know there’s a lot of politics and things that go into all those individual awards. That’s why I don’t really get into all that. I’m just concerned about winning.”
The Gators (6-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) pulled into Vanderbilt Stadium an hour before kickoff already in uniform, hoping to avoid the visitors locker room as a coronavirus precaution. The Commodores (0-7, 0-7) opened the game by driving for a touchdown, but Trask helped get Florida on track for its seventh consecutive win in the series.
Florida coach Dan Mullen classified the win as “a ho-hum performance,” and cornerback Kaiir Elam agreed with his coach’s view.
“It was good that we closed them out. … I think they scored way too many points today, honestly,” Elam said.
Vanderbilt drove 75 yards on 11 plays in the opening series, scoring on Ken Seals’ 16-yard pass to Chris Pierce Jr. with 10:50 left in the first quarter.
The Gators tied it less than three minutes later on a 27-yard score from Trask to Kadarius Toney.
Vanderbilt countered with Pierson Cooke’s 25-yard field goal on the next drive, and the Gators tied it at 10 when Evan McPherson kicked a 33-yarder at 4:13 of the second quarter.
Trask threw a 34-yard TD pass to Trevon Grimes with 49 seconds left until halftime for a 17-10 lead, and Dameon Price rushed in from a yard out for a 24-10 advantage early in the second half.
With 2:55 left in the third, Trask found tight end Kemore Gamble in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass.
“Kyle went 26 of 35 for 383 and three touchdowns with no interceptions against a team that was 100% stop the pass first today,” Mullen said. “That’s a pretty darn good performance against that type of look.”
Vanderbilt answered 54 seconds later with a 58-yard pass from Seals to Pierce, who caught the ball around the Florida 45-yard line and eluded two tackle attempts on his way to the end zone. It was the longest touchdown catch for Pierce in his career, and the longest TD throw for Seals.
“There wasn’t much to it,” Pierce said. “I knew the offense needed some motivation. I took it in my hands to be that person.”
Florida struck again at 6:46 of the fourth quarter with backup Emory Jones completing a 30-yard pass to Gamble, his second catch of the game.
Seals set a Vanderbilt record for passing yards by a freshman, besting the 1,483 yards thrown by John Gromos in 1985. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 319 yards, his fourth straight game with 200 or more yards and his third in the last four with more than 250. It was the third time this season he has passed for at least 300 yards.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason saw a bright spot in the way his team opened the game on both sides of the ball as slow starts have plagued the Commodores all season.
“Part of our game plan was to attack early on both sides and we did that,” Mason said. “I think that is the way we can win.
“It was a question of how do we attack this Florida team? When they walked we had to run. We had some opportunities and we just missed those.”
Other Top 25 games
(At) No. 1 Alabama 63, Kentucky 3: DeVonta Smith caught nine passes for 144 yards and set the Southeastern Conference career record with two more touchdowns in Alabama’s victory over short-handed Kentucky.
Mac Jones passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns and Najee Harris ran for a pair of scores for the Crimson Tide (7-0 SEC), both in less than three quarters. A slow start turned into a breezy return from a three-week layoff after LSU was forced to call off last week’s scheduled game because of COVID-19 troubles.
The outmanned Wildcats (3-5) were missing a number of key players because of injuries or coronavirus protocol. They were competitive early on the stat sheet, but it didn’t hold up particularly long on the scoreboard.
Smith broke Amari Cooper’s SEC and Alabama record with his 32nd touchdown catch, a 10-yarder from Jones in the second quarter. He added an 18-yarder from freshman backup Bryce Young.
Jones completed 16 of 24 passes but also had a pass intercepted at the goal line.
No. 7 Cincinnati 36, Central Florida 33: Desmond Ridder threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores and Cincinnati beat Central Florida to head into the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings unbeaten.
The Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 American) fell behind 14-3 in the first quarter against their toughest opponent yet, but grabbed the lead by halftime. Rider passed for 338 yards and ran for 57.
Dillon Gabriel threw for 243 yards, three touchdowns and one interception as the Knights (5-3, 4-3) lost at home for the second time this season.
The first CFP rankings come out Tuesday night and the Bearcats are hoping to become the first team from outside the Power Five conferences to crack the Top 10 in the selection committee’s first Top 25 of the season.
(At) No. 8 BYU 66, North Alabama 14: Tyler Allgeier ran for a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns and BYU routed overmatched North Alabama to improve to 9-0.
Allgeier had his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Zach Wilson threw for 212 yards and four touchdowns before halftime and added 33 yards rushing. He had a season-high 256.3 QB rating.
BYU scored touchdowns on all six first-half drives. The Cougars rolled up 394 total yards and averaged 11.3 yards per play before halftime.
Rett Files threw for 198 yards and a touchdown for the Lions (0-4). Files played during the second and fourth quarters while starting quarterback Blake Dever took snaps in the first and third quarters. Dever threw for 107 yards.
(At) No. 11 Oregon 38, UCLA 35: Tyler Shough threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns and Oregon held off short-handed UCLA to remain undefeated.
At 3-0, Oregon solidified its spot atop the Pac-12 North.
Devon Williams had six catches for 123 yards, including a 19-yarder for a score and a 49-yard reception that helped set up a third-quarter score.
UCLA (1-2) had several players out because of COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing, including starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Redshirt freshman Chase Griffin started.
Griffin threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. Demetric Felton rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including an 11-yard scoring run that got the Bruins within three with 3:43 left.
(At) No. 13 Georgia 31, Mississippi State 24: JT Daniels made quite a debut between the hedges, throwing for 401 yards and four touchdowns in Georgia’s victory over Mississippi State,
Playing for the first time since the 2019 opener with Southern California, Daniels became the third quarterback to start for the Bulldogs (5-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) this season.
The transfer from USC delivered one big play after another, capped by a 40-yard touchdown pass to Kearis Jackson that broke a 24-24 tie with 9:50 remaining. What made it more impressive: Jackson and George Pickens had dropped potential TD passes on back-to-back plays, and a holding penalty left Georgia with third-and-20 . But Jackson slipped behind the secondary in the middle of the field, and Daniels spotted him to finally finish off pesky Mississippi State (2-5, 2-5).
Daniels became the first Georgia quarterback to pass for more than 400 yards since Aaron Murray against Auburn in 2013.
Freshman Jermaine Burton was Daniels’ favorite receiver, hauling in eight passes for 197 yards – including TD catches of 18 and 48 yards, no to mention another grab of 49 yards.
(At) No. 18 Oklahoma 41, No. 14 Oklahoma State 13: Spencer Rattler passed for 301 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score to help Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State.
Rhamondre Stevenson ran for a career-high 141 yards, and Theo Wease caught two touchdown passes for the Sooners in their fifth straight victory. Oklahoma (6-2, 5-2) won its sixth straight in the series and extended its November winning streak to 23 dating to 2014
Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard was held to 44 yards on eight carries, and the Cowboys (5-2, 4-2) gained just 246 total yards.
Iowa State leads the Big 12 with just one conference loss, and Oklahoma State joined Oklahoma and Texas with two league losses in the race to qualify for the Big 12 Championship Game.
Oklahoma raced to a 21-0 lead in the first nine minutes on the strength of three touchdowns by Rattler – two passing and one rushing. The Sooners led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. It was the most points Oklahoma has scored in a first quarter against Oklahoma State in Norman.
(At) No. 15 Coastal Carolina 34, Appalachian State 23: Reese White scored on a 3-yard run with 2:24 to play and Coastal Carolina improved to 8-0 with its first victory over Appalachian State.
The Chants (6-0 Sun Belt Conference) had lost all six previous games to the four-time defending Sun Belt champion Mountaineers. But they held Appalachian State (6-2, 4-1) to just two field goals in the second half after falling behind 17-9 at halftime.
The Mountaineers tried to rally after White’s score. But D’Jordan Strong intercepted Zac Thomas’ fourfth-and-22 pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
Picked last in the Sun Belt in the preseason, Coastal Carolina is a victory away from winning the East Division and playing West winner Louisiana-Lafayette for the conference title next month.
(At) No. 17 Iowa State 45, Kansas State 9: Brock Purdy passed for 236 yards and three touchdowns and Iowa State beat Kansas State for its most lopsided win over the Wildcats in 77 years.
Iowa State (6-2) improved to 6-1 in the Big 12, matching the school record for conference wins.
The Cyclones hadn’t had such a wide winning margin against the Wildcats since they beat them 48-0 in 1943. It was their biggest win over a Big 12 opponent since beating Kansas 45-0 three years ago.
Kansas State (4-4, 4-3), which won 11 of the previous 12 meetings, started to unravel after failing to score on an early first-and-goal from the 3.
Purdy completed 10 of his first 12 passes for 156 yards to six receivers and all three of his touchdowns. Breece Hall ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
No. 20 Southern California 33, (at) Utah 17: Kedon Slovis threw for two touchdowns and Southern California rode a strong defensive performance to overpower Utah.
Slovis completed 24 of 35 passes for 264 yards for USC (3-0, 3-0 Pac-12), but the Trojans’ defense took centerstage, forcing five turnovers to stay undefeated and move into pole position for the Pac-12 South title.
Utah (0-1, 0-1) was the final major conference team to make its 2020 debut after coronavirus cases scuttled its first two scheduled games of an already delayed season.
The long layoff didn’t do the Utes any favors as they made critical errors and couldn’t get any rhythm going on offense. Consistent quarterback pressure by the Trojans and a rugged rush defense had a lot to do with that.
Cameron Rising, a Texas transfer, made his first start for Utah but threw an interception in the first quarter and then was strip-sacked by Marlon Tuipulotu for his second turnover and got injured on the play. Vavae Malepeai scored on a short run one play later to give USC a 10-3 lead.
Jake Bentley, a graduate transfer from South Carolina, replaced Rising but was often off target. After two negative-yard drives and misfires on his first four passes, Bentley used a 33-yard run to spark the Utes’ offense and capped the half with a 7-yard touchdown strike to Samson Nacua. USC led 24-17 at halftime.
The USC defense, led by Kana’i Mauga’s 11 tackles, harassed Bentley and kept Utah scoreless in the second half. After two comeback wins, USC’s first victory in Salt Lake City since 2012 ended without much drama.
In the second half, USC engineered three drives that concluded in Parker Lewis field goals. The defense did the rest.
The Trojans didn’t look particularly polished themselves and didn’t have a bevy of offensive fireworks. Maxs Tupai sacked Slovis, and Nephi Sewell scooped up the fumble and took it 23 yards for Utah’s first touchdown.
Slovis hit Tyler Vaughns for an 8-yard score after a 42-yard completion to Vaughns that finally got the Trojans’ offense rolling.
On a run-pass option, Slovis threw a 10-yard touchdown to Erik Krommenhoek for a 24-10 lead.
The Utes have annually featured one of the Pac-12’s top defenses, but they had to replace nine defensive starters from last season. Surprisingly, it was the lack of offense that scuttled any upset bid.
USC snapped Utah’s 11-game home winning streak.
(At) North Carolina State 16, No. 21 Liberty 14: North Carolina State blocked Alex Barbir’s 39-yard field goal attempt with 1:18 left to beat Liberty, handing the Flames their first loss this season.
Liberty (8-1) was trying to earn a third win against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent this year, all on the road. The Flames had their shot to extend the best start in program history, too, putting together a drive to give Barbir – who had kicked a 51-yard field goal to beat Virginia Tech earlier this season – a shot at the lead.
But Vi Jones deflected the kick to set off a celebration for the Wolfpack (6-3), who moved the chains once more to run out the clock and seal a win on a tough night for both offenses.
Zonovan Knight ran for two touchdowns to lead N.C. State, including the go-ahead 4-yard score with 6:53 left. That play was set up by a diving interception from true freshman reserve Aydan White.
(At) No. 23 Auburn 30, Tennessee 17: Smoke Monday returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown and Auburn overcame a slow start to beat Tennessee.
Auburn (5-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) fell behind 10-0 to Tennessee (2-5, 2-5) and dealt with injuries to star running back Tank Bigsby and its two starting offensive tackles. The Tigers were playing their first game in 21 days after a scheduled off week and the postponement of a game at Mississippi State.
Bo Nix completed 17 of 26 passes for 220 yards, with a 54-yard touchdown to Anthony Schwartz and his first career interception in a home game. Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano started strong, but finished with only 156 yards of passing and the interception return for a touchdown that gave Auburn a two-score lead late in the third quarter.