Friday's Top 25: No. 4 Cincinnati tops ECU to complete perfect regular season
Greenville, N.C. — Desmond Ridder threw two touchdown passes and No. 4 Cincinnati, aiming to maintain its position among the top four in the College Football Playoff rankings, completed a perfect regular season by beating East Carolina 35-13 on Friday.
The Bearcats (12-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference, CFP No. 4) are trying to become the first team outside of a Power Five conference to compete in the four-team CFP.
This outcome was largely achieved because of Cincinnati’s defense. As a bonus, Arquon Bush blocked a field goal and Ahmad Gardner returned the ball 60 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown to make it 28-6.
Less than four minutes later, Darrian Beavers intercepted a pass at the 7:27 mark, but the ensuing possession resulted in Cincinnati’s second turnover inside the East Carolina 5-yard line.
East Carolina (7-5, 5-3) had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Ridder finished 17 for 28 for 301 yards with two interceptions. Alec Pierce caught eight passes for 136 yards. Jerome Ford rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Cincinnati also went 12-0 in the 2009 regular season.
More of Friday's Top 25
NO. 17 IOWA 28, NEBRASKA 21: Spencer Petras had a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:58 left to give Iowa its first lead and the Hawkeyes came back from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to beat Nebraska.
Iowa won the border battle for the seventh straight year, but not before Jermari Harris intercepted Logan Smothers’ pass at the Iowa 2 with 43 seconds to play.
The Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2) stayed alive in the Big Ten West race and now need Minnesota to beat Wisconsin on Saturday to go to the conference championship game next week in Indianapolis.
The loss was another gut punch to Nebraska (3-9, 1-8) in its worst season since 1957. The Cornhuskers, who won’t go to a bowl for a fifth straight year, finished with losses in six straight games and eight of nine. Their nine losses were by a total of 56 points.
Tyler Goodson ran for 156 yards on 23 carries to become Iowa’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Akrum Wadley in 2017.
Smothers, making his first start in place of the injured Adrian Martinez, threw for 199 yards and ran 24 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
Iowa used a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, two field goals and a safety to wipe out a 21-6 deficit and tie it 21-21 with 7:21 left.
NO. 16 UTAH 28, COLORADO 13: Cameron Rising threw three touchdown passes, Tavion Thomas ran for 142 yards and a score and Utah beat Colorado.
The Utes (9-3, 8-1 Pac-12), who won their fifth straight game, rushed for 265 yards and held Colorado (4-8, 3-6) to 148 yards of total offense with the Pac-12 Championship game looming.
Rising scrambled and found Britain Covey on an improvised forward pitch for a 13-yard touchdown with 6:45 left in the third quarter to cap the scoring.
Thomas proved tough to tackle on any play, but especially when he powered through the first level and into the secondary to extend his school-record to 18 rushing touchdowns.
Rising was 14 of 23 for 179 yards passing. T.J. Pledger added 103 yards on the ground.
NO. 22 SAN DIEGO STATE 27, BOISE STATE 16: Jordon Brookshire led San Diego State to 24 straight points after replacing Lucas Johnson late in the first half, and the Aztecs beat Boise State to win the Mountain West’s West Division title.
Brookshire passed for 192 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 46 yards and another score. The Aztecs (11-1, 7-1) celebrated at their temporary home in the Los Angeles suburbs after completing their first 11-win regular season in 99 years of football.
The Aztecs, who have never had a 12-win season, will host the Mountain West title game next Saturday, Dec. 4, against Air Force or Utah State.
San Diego State erased an early 13-point deficit with a bounce-back effort from its vaunted defense, which shut out the Broncos (7-5, 5-3) over the final 38 minutes.
Jesse Matthews caught nine passes for 133 yards, and Greg Bell rushed for a touchdown.
NO. 25 ARKANSAS 34, MISSOURI 17: KJ Jefferson threw for 262 yards and a touchdown and ran for another 58 yards to help Arkansas beat Missouri.
Jefferson led Arkansas (8-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) to scores on four straight drives in the third and fourth quarters to turn a four-point halftime lead to 18 with less than 12 minutes left. Treylon Burks was his biggest help, catching seven passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Arkansas hadn’t beaten Missouri since 2015, which was the last time the Razorbacks were eligible for a bowl. The eight wins are Arkansas’ most in the regular-season since 2011.
Missouri (6-6, 3-5), which finished the regular season at .500 for the third straight year, managed just 316 yards of total offense, 219 of which came from running back Tyler Badie on the ground. Badie had 41 carries. He passed Devin West for Missouri’s single-season rushing record, finishing with 1,604 yards.
NO. 24 NC STATE 34, NORTH CAROLINA 30: Devin Leary threw two touchdown passes in a 26-second span, with No. 24 North Carolina State recovering an onside kick in between, to stun North Carolina 34-30 on Friday night and remain alive in the ACC Atlantic Division title chase.
With N.C. State down 30-21, Leary found Emeka Emezie on a busted coverage for a 64-yard touchdown strike with 1:33 left. The Wolfpack recovered the onside kick, then Leary threw a 24-yard sideline pass to Emezie with 1:09 remaining.
N.C. State (9-3, 6-2) beat North Carolina (6-6, 3-5) for the first time since 2018 to remain in contention for a trip to the conference championship game. It also officially eliminated six-time reigning league champion Clemson from the Atlantic Division race.