Snap Judgments from the Week 5 early slate. For more content check out Pete Thamel's story from LSU-Georgia, Andy Staples' story from Ole Miss-Alabama, Martin Rickman's story from Wisconsin-Ohio State and our midday and late snaps.
• No. 12 South Carolina 28, UCF 25: The Gamecocks had cause for concern as they ventured to Orlando to take on the Knights on Saturday. The last ranked team to visit UCF was then-No. 13 Houston in 2009, and the the Cougars came out on the short end of a stunning 37-32 loss. The Knights, who had already knocked off Penn State in Happy Valley, looked like they might be giant killers.
But even though UCF came out firing -- quarterback Blake Bortles engineered a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the game, and the Knights carried a 10-0 lead into halftime -- South Carolina rallied for the victory behind a dominant performance from running back Mike Davis.
Davis, who ran for 167 yards and three touchdowns, helped the Gamecocks overcome a first-quarter shoulder injury to quarterback Connor Shaw and four turnovers to score 28 unanswered points to begin the second half. Shaw's replacement, Dylan Thompson, completed 15-of-23 passes for 261 yards, with an interception.
Bortles, who was picked off twice, threw two late touchdown passes to help UCF cut the deficit to 28-25 with 1:54 to play. But South Carolina recovered the Knights' onside kick and milked the clock to escape with the victory.
Shaw will apparently miss the next few weeks, so the Gamecocks should prepare for Thompson to lead them in upcoming games against Kentucky and Arkansas. Their defense will also have to step up: South Carolina gave up 427 yards of total offense to UCF. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 15 Miami 49, South Florida 21: Two programs heading in opposite directions met in Tampa, and their game played out as most expected. The 15th-ranked Hurricanes overwhelmed the Bulls to improve to 4-0, Miami's best start since 2004. Meanwhile, USF is 0-4 under new coach Willie Taggart, the worst start in school history. The Bulls have lost 13 of their last 14 games dating back to the 2012 season.
Hurricanes' quarterback Stephen Morris completed 11-of-16 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns in just two quarters of action, but he tweaked his ankle and left before halftime with Miami leading 21-7. Morris' status was not available after the game. [RECAP | BOX]
• Tennessee 31, South Alabama 24: After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, the Volunteers appeared to right the ship as they reeled off 31 straight points to take a commanding 31-7 lead early in the third. The Jaguars, however, weren't finished. They scored 17 unanswered points to cut the deficit to seven with 8:55 to go. But on fourth-and-goal from the eight-yard line with 1:51 remaining, Tennessee safety Brian Randolph picked off South Alabama quarterback Ross Metheny to seal the win. Things were simply slow for the Vols' offense in the second half: Of its 482 total yards, 338 came before the break. [RECAP | BOX]
• East Carolina 55, North Carolina 31: Based on history, the Tar Heels lost this game when Pirates quarterback Shane Carden ran into the end zone from one yard out to give East Carolina a 28-10 lead in the waning moments of the second quarter. North Carolina had never overcome a deficit of more than 17 points to win, and that held true, as the Pirates routed coach Larry Fedora's team on Saturday. Carden threw for 376 yards, rushed for 22 more and scored six total touchdowns (three passing, three rushing). The victory was East Carolina's first in Chapel Hill since 1975. [RECAP | BOX]
• TCU 48, SMU 17: The Horned Frogs' defense came to play in this one. TCU forced five turnovers, sacked Mustangs quarterback Garrett Gilbert six times and held SMU to just 292 yards of total offense to win the Iron Skillet for the second year in a row. Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin completed only 7-of-16 passes in the first half, but he rebounded to finish 15-of-26 for 228 yards and two touchdowns. TCU also returned an onside kick 45 yards for a touchdown. [RECAP | BOX]
• Northern Illinois 55, Purdue 24: Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell pulled starting quarterback Rob Henry in favor of freshman Danny Etling in the second quarter, and Etling finished with 241 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions. But it didn't make much difference. The Huskies' 31-point win tied for the largest margin of victory for a MAC program over a team from the Big Ten. NIU had little trouble on either side of the ball, scoring on its first four offensive series and forcing five turnovers. [RECAP | BOX]
• Illinois 50, Miami (Ohio) 14: The Illini scored 29 points in the second quarter and quarterback Nate Scheelhaase threw for 278 yards and five touchdowns. The RedHawks completed a single pass in the first half. [RECAP | BOX] • Pittsburgh 14, Virginia 3: The Panthers scored off two early Cavaliers turnovers to sink Virginia and improve to 3-1. [RECAP | BOX]