What a tough day to be a highly ranked team.
All sorts of ambitions came crashing down in a handful of Top 25 upsets on Saturday, none more costly than No. 3 Florida’s loss to Georgia.
The 12th-ranked Bulldogs stuffed the Gators, giving Florida its first loss of the season and damaging their chances to make the SEC title game, let alone the BCS title game.
Southern California’s national title hopes took another hit when they were upset in the desert. New Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez got a signature win of the sort that mostly eluded him at Michigan, bumping off the Trojans 39-36 thanks to a huge day by quarterback Matt Scott.
Two other unbeaten fell, too — both to teams from the Mid-American conference. No. 18 Rutgers was beaten at home by Kent State and No. 23 Ohio lost to archrival Miami of Ohio across the state in Oxford. Those games burst the bubble on promising seasons for programs looking for a spot in the BCS chase.
USC, meanwhile, was touted as a likely title contender and still could have made the BCS championship game if it ran the table following its loss to Stanford in September. Seemingly in control with a 28-13 lead, the Trojans let the lead slip away.
Scott scored on a 10-yard run, then found Dan Buckner on a 9-yard touchdown pass to pull Arizona within 28-26 after the Wildcats recovered a fumble.
The Wildcats sniffed out a double reverse on fourth-and-2, stopping Marqise Lee a yard short, and marched 72 yards for a 7-yard touchdown run by Ka’Deem Carey that put Arizona up 32-28 after the 2-point conversion failed.
Scott extended the lead to 39-28 with his TD pass to David Richards and — after Redd’s TD run and a 2-point conversion — the Wildcat defense held on the last play of the game, swatting down Barkley’s final heave into the end zone
Florida, which won the BCS championship game following the 2006 and 2008 seasons, let a golden opportunity slip through its fingers — along with the football a couple of times.
Jarvis Jones knocked the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands near the goal line, and teammate Sanders Commings recovered in the end zone with 2:05 left, sealing consecutive wins in the border grudge match for Georgia for the first time since 1989.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel fumbled twice on Florida’s first three plays. Georgia recovered the second one, which set up Todd Gurley’s 10-yard touchdown run. Call it the World’s Largest Outdoor Turnover Party.
No. 1 Alabama rolls past No. 13 MSU, 38-7
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — AJ McCarron passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns and No. 1 Alabama reached the end zone on its first three possessions in a 38-7 victory over No. 13 Mississippi State on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) quickly turned the meeting of unbeaten SEC West teams into a mismatch, rolling toward a national title game rematch at No. 6 LSU.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 3-1) came in averaging 36.7 points a game but didn’t score until the final minutes. They had been leading the nation in turnover margin but lost two fumbles and an interception.
McCarron completed 16 of 23 passes before sitting out the fourth quarter. He headed to the locker room briefly early in the quarter briefly but returned to the sideline. Coach Nick Saban said McCarron bruised his back but will be fine for LSU.
The Tide has now won the past five meetings and this one turned into more of the same, despite considerably more hype.
The Bulldogs had started 7-0 for only the second time in program history. Instead of proving they were legitimate SEC contenders, this game showed they have a ways to go.
No. 2 OREGON 70, COLORADO 14
EUGENE, Ore. — Kenjon Barner rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 2 Oregon easily took care of Colorado in advance of next weekend’s Pac-12 showdown with USC.
De’Anthony Thomas rushed for another score and added a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown before most of the Ducks’ offensive starters were pulled midway through the second quarter. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota passed for 136 yards and two TDs.
The Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) built a 56-0 lead by halftime and their 70 points were the most they’d ever scored against a conference opponent. It was Oregon’s 11th straight overall victory dating to a 38-35 loss at home to USC last season.
Christian Powell rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns for the Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4), who lost their fourth straight.
The Ducks piled up 617 yards in total offense, including 425 on the ground, and the Buffs simply could not keep up. Colorado went into the game ranked 112th in the nation on defense, allowing an average of 489 yards. Oregon had 447 by halftime.
No. 12 GEORGIA 17, No. 3 FLORIDA 9
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The 12th-ranked Bulldogs stopped the No. 3 Gators from every angle, forcing six turnovers to put themselves on the cusp of the Southeastern Conference title game.
The victory gave Georgia consecutive wins in the series for the first time since 1989.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) did little on offense until Aaron Murray found Malcolm Mitchell for a 45-yard touchdown with 7:11 remaining that put them ahead 17-9.
Georgia sealed its fifth victory in the last 23 games in the rivalry with — what else? — a defensive play. Jarvis Jones knocked the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands near the goal line, and teammate Sanders Commings recovered in the end zone with 2:05 left.
Jones had another huge game against Florida (7-1, 6-1), and the Bulldogs responded as well as possible to safety Shawn Williams’ criticism of “playing too soft” earlier in the week.
No. 4 KANSAS STATE 55, No. 15 TEXAS TECH 24
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Collin Klein accounted for four touchdowns, and Arthur Brown returned an interception 37 yards for another score.
Klein was 19 of 26 for 233 yards and two touchdowns, and had 83 yards and two more scores on the ground — bolstering his credentials for the Heisman Trophy. Most of the offense came in the second half as the Wildcats (5-0 Big 12) blew open a 13-10 game to improve to 8-0 for the first time since 1999.
John Hubert added 64 yards and two rushing TDs, and Angelo Pease also scored for Kansas State, which came into the game trailing only Alabama and Florida in the BCS standings.
Seth Doege threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns for the Red Raiders (6-2, 3-2), but also had a costly interception. Doege had thrown for 13 touchdowns in wins over West Virginia and TCU the last two weeks to jump into the Heisman conversation.
ARIZONA 39, No. 10 SOUTHERN CAL 36
TUCSON, Ariz. — Matt Scott had 469 total yards and accounted for four touchdowns, helping Arizona overcome a huge day by Southern California’s Marqise Lee.
Lee caught 16 passes for a Pac-12-record 345 yards and two touchdowns to help USC (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) build a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter.
But Scott led Arizona (5-3, 2-1) back, throwing for 369 yards and three touchdowns, including a 7-yarder to David Richards that put the Wildcats up 39-28 with just over 5 minutes left.
The Trojans answered quickly with Silas Redd’s second rushing touchdown, from 10 yards, but remain stuck on 799 wins as a program after Matt Barkley’s last-ditch pass into the end zone was swatted down.
Scott finished 27-for-50 passing and ran for 100 yards before missing Arizona’s final possession with an undisclosed injury.
Austin Hill had 10 catches for 259 yards to help the Wildcats hold on for the upset victory after coming up just short against the Trojans a year ago.
Barkley threw for 493 yards and three touchdowns on 31-of-49 passing, but threw two interceptions. USC had five turnovers and 13 penalties for 117 yards as its national championship hopes faded.
No. 11 FLORIDA STATE 48, DUKE 7
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — EJ Manuel threw two touchdown passes and Devonta Freeman ran for two more scores to lead No. 11 Florida State to a 48-7 victory over Duke on Saturday.
Florida State’s win coupled with North Carolina State’s loss to North Carolina puts the Seminoles back in control of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division while Duke (6-3, 3-2) dropped out of the undisputed lead in the league’s muddled Coastal Division.
Florida State (8-1, 5-1) rolled up 560 yards in offense while limiting Duke to 232.
Tyler Hunter returned a punt 75 yards for a score and Dustin Hopkins kicked a career-best 56-yard field goal to help the Seminoles offset four fumbles.
Duke quarterback Sean Renfree completed 13 of 21 passes for 92 yards before being knocked out of the game in the second quarter with an unspecified head injury. Anthony Boone was 3 of 15 for 37 yards against a Florida State defense that leads the ACC in virtually all categories.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said after the game that Renfree would be further evaluated by medical personnel, but still wasn’t feeling very good after the game.
No. 17 SOUTH CAROLINA 38, TENNESSEE 35
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Connor Shaw threw three touchdowns and ran for another score, and No. 17 South Carolina overcame the loss of tailback Marcus Lattimore.
Tennessee (3-5, 0-5 Southeastern Conference) forced a punt and got the ball back with 36 seconds to go, but Victor Hampton intercepted a long pass from Bray to close it out for South Carolina.
Shaw finished with a career-high 356 yards passing and the Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2) rolled up 510 yards after managing only 368 combined the previous two weeks in losses at LSU and Florida. Tight end Justice Cunningham had six catches for 108 yards and receiver Bruce Ellington had six catches for 101 yards as South Carolina won three straight over the Vols for the first time in a series that began in 1903.
Bray passed for 368 yards and four touchdowns, three to Zach Rogers.
KENT STATE 35, No. 18 RUTGERS 23
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Defensive end Mark Fackler returned his second interception 25 yards for a touchdown, and Kent State forced five other turnovers in its biggest win since it started playing football in 1920.
The Golden Flashes (7-1) had been 0-22 against ranked teams, but they ended the best start for Rutgers (7-1) since the Scarlet Knights were 9-0 in 2006.
Kent State intercepted Gary Nova six times and recovered a fumble to give the Mid-American Conference its second straight win over an undefeated Big East team. Toledo knocked off Cincinnati last week.
Spencer Keith threw touchdown passes of 1 yard to Zack Hitchens and 15 yards to Josh Boyle, the latter giving the Golden Flashes a 35-17 lead with 11:30 to play. Dri Archer, the nation’s leader in touchdowns coming into this week, scored on a 7-yard run, and Trayion Durham tallied from 3-yards out.
Nova, the Big East’s top offensive player last week, threw touchdowns of 19 yards to Tim Wright and 24 to Brandon Coleman. Jawan Jamison scored on a 2-yard run to cut Rutgers’ deficit to 12 with 10:35 to play, but the Scarlet Knights never got closer.
Nebraska beats No. 20 Michigan 23-9; Robinson hurt
LINCOLN, Neb. — Ameer Abdullah ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and Nebraska took control of the Big Ten Legends Division with a 23-9 victory over No. 20 Michigan on Saturday night.
Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson left the game late in the first half with a right elbow injury. Robinson, who spent the second half on the sideline in an overcoat, watched as freshman backup Russell Bellomy threw three interceptions.
The Huskers (6-2, 3-1) moved into a first-place tie with Michigan in the Legends but own the tiebreaker.
Michigan (5-3, 3-1) generated a season-low 188 yards during its first visit to Memorial Stadium since 1911. The Wolverines had 52 in the second half.
“This was a big step for us,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “Just like I told the team, you win and the season goes on and it takes you higher and higher.”
No. 21 BOISE STATE 45, WYOMING 14
LARAMIE, Wyo. — D.J. Harper rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 21 Boise State to its seventh straight win.
Harper scored on runs of 12 and 3 yards, and Joe Southwick completed 20 of 28 passes for 198 yards and one interception for the Broncos (7-1, 4-0 Mountain West). The Boise State offense was an efficient 12 of 14 on third down conversions and scored on all five its red zone opportunities.
Wyoming (1-7, 0-4) was without head coach Dave Christensen, who was fined $50,000 and suspended by the school for the week over his conduct after a 28-27 loss to Air Force on Oct. 13. Christensen confronted Falcons coach Troy Calhoun on the field, accusing the Falcons of faking an injury to their starting quarterback in the fourth quarter.
MIAMI (OHIO) 23, No. 23 OHIO 20
OXFORD, Ohio — Ohio gambled by going for one more play instead of a tying field goal, and Tyler Tettleton was sacked as time ran out.
The Bobcats (7-1, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) went for it all in their first game as a ranked team since 1968, when they finished the season at No. 20. They had a little history on their side — Ohio had won the last six games in one of the MAC’s edgiest rivalries.
Instead, the rivalry got another notable ending.
Kaleb Patterson kicked a 31-yard field goal with 1:24 left, giving Miami (4-4, 3-1) the lead with its first fourth-quarter points in the last three games.
Defense gets No. 24 Louisiana Tech past NMSU 28-14
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Quarterback Colby Cameron led a late-surging Louisiana Tech offense, throwing for 292 yards and running for a score as the No. 24 Bulldogs beat New Mexico State 28-14 on Saturday. The victory gave Louisiana Tech its first win as a ranked team and a chance to remain in the Top 25 for consecutive weeks for the first time in school history. Ray Holley had 133 rushing yards and an 83-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career for Louisiana Tech (7-1, 2-0 WAC), which failed to win a game as a ranked team in two previous tries.