No. 9 UCLA 38, No. 19 USC 20
With so much on the line at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, a few jitters were to be expected. That was evident right away, as Brett Hundley’s first passing attempt was intercepted for a touchdown and USC’s first attempted punt return was fumbled.
The result of both miscues was a 7-7 tie, as Nelson Agholor’s fumble set the Bruins up at the eight-yard line, and Hundley connected with Devin Lucien in the back of the end zone to tie it at seven. Finally somebody took the game cartridge out, blew some air into it, put it back in the console and turned it back on.
After Hundley’s initial interception, he closed out the first half completing 15 of his next 18 for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Hundley didn't need to use his legs as often as he has in the Bruins’ last few games, instead trusting the pocket and going through his progressions. He finished the game 22-of-31 for 326 yards with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score as the No. 9 Bruins marched to a 38-20 win over the No. 19 Trojans. The junior quarterback is now 3-0 against UCLA's crosstown rivals. -- Martin Rickman
No. 20 Missouri 29, Tennessee 21
Missouri controls its destiny in its path to the SEC Championship Game. Now the Tigers are one win away from clinching a spot in Atlanta. No. 20 Missouri survived a sluggish outing to escape Tennessee 29-21 on Saturday in Knoxville.
The Tigers broke open a penalty-riddled outing by scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first came on a 73-yard bomb from quarterback Maty Mauk (12-of-25 passing, 230 yards, two touchdowns) to receiver Jimmie Hunt with 12:30 remaining. Mauk then hit Bud Sasser from 13 yards out to extend Mizzou’s lead to 29-13 with 7:40 left. Meanwhile, quarterback Josh Dobbs and the Volunteers’ offense struggled to gain ground against Shane Ray and the Tigers’ defensive line.
But Tennessee didn’t give up. With 1:57 remaining Dobbs hit Jason Croom for a five-yard score. The Vols converted the two-point try, and suddenly were down eight just under two minutes to play.
From there, Tennessee had two chances at an onside kick. It recovered the first, but officials flagged the Vols for being offside. On the second attempt Tennessee appeared to recover again, but officials ruled the ball did not cross the 10-yard mark. Coach Butch Jones challenged the call, but the ruling stood, meaning Jones lost one of his final two timeouts. Mizzou ran the clock out to win.
Tennessee, which had looked rejuvenated offensively during the last few weeks, could not handle Missouri’s defensive pressure. Though Dobbs went 24-of-37 for 195 passing yards, he was limited to 13 rushing yards and was sacked six times. The Vols can still reach bowl eligibility with a win over Vanderbilt next week.
Missouri, meanwhile, is trying to make its presence felt in the SEC. Despite being largely overlooked, the Tigers are on the cusp of their second straight SEC title game berth, and they’ve won 10 straight road games. Missouri can clinch a spot in Atlanta with a home win over Arkansas next Friday. If Mizzou loses, however, Georgia would win the SEC East. -- Zac Ellis
No. 7 Baylor 49, Oklahoma State 28
The box score gives the impression that Baylor structured Saturday night’s gameplan around its ground game. A typically up-tempo squad, Baylor’s run-pass breakdown Saturday more closely resembles Arkansas than most spread teams. That’s just the No. 7 Bears taking what an opponent gives them. It worked Saturday, as Baylor raced pass Oklahoma State on the ground for a 49-28 victory.
The Bears rushed 59 times for 319 yards with five touchdowns as both Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin topped the 100-yard mark. Bryce Petty struck for two long passing touchdowns early -- a 65-yard strike to Jay Lee on the second play from scrimmage and a 54-yard completion to Corey Coleman two minutes later – but mostly turning over the reins of the offense to the rushing game. Petty finished 18-of-29 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for a 21-yard touchdown.
True freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph made his first appearance for Oklahoma State, burning his redshirt in the penultimate game of the season, and despite some freshman mistake, generally moved the ball well. Rudolph completed 13-of-25 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and helped the Cowboys stay in the game after Baylor broke open a 42-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
While Rudolph showed some potential, he wasn’t enough to halt Oklahoma State’s losing streak from reaching five games. After hanging with Florida State in a 37-31 loss in their season opener, the Cowboys rattled off five straight wins to climb as high as No. 15 in the polls. But since then, they’ve been outscored 201-69 and have led for just 12 seconds. Oklahoma State now must beat Oklahoma to become bowl eligible.
Baylor’s quest for the College Football Playoff continues at full speed. Although the Cowboys hung around, the Bears’ lead was never truly in jeopardy. With Ohio State struggling to beat Indiana on Saturday, Baylor could possible leapfrog the Buckeyes to reach No. 6. -- Colin Becht
No. 3 Florida State 20, Boston College 17
Are you not entertained?
Florida State’s tendencies shouldn’t surprise anyone by now, but they still do. This team's knack for comebacks this season is almost as common as the war chant in Doak Campbell Stadium. The No. 3 Seminoles capped their latest rally with a 20-17 win over Boston College on Saturday. They are often down, but never out. That’s what matters, as Florida State is 11-0 (8-0 ACC) and staring at a playoff bid.
We’ve seen this movie a number of times already with the ‘Noles. Prior to this week quarterback Jameis Winston and company had trailed at halftime on five different occasions in 2014. They had fought back from four fourth-quarter deficits -- against Clemson, Notre Dame, Louisville and Miami -- and never lost. Thanks to a late 12-play, 66-yard drive, punctuated by a 26-yard Robert Aguayo field goal, they survived again. Winston passed for 281 yards with a score and a pick, and the ‘Noles beat the Eagles (6-5, 3-4) to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth. -- ZE
Arkansas 30, No. 8 Ole Miss 0
The college football world caught its first clear signs last week of Arkansas's turnaround. Now it knows for sure. The Razorbacks have turned the corner, and the rest of the SEC better watch out. Bret Bielema's Razorbacks annihilated No. 8 Ole Miss 30-0 in Fayetteville for their second conference win and sixth victory of the season, a stunning turnaround that will send Arkansas to a bowl game a year after its 3-9 campaign.
The Razorbacks defense blasted the Rebels and posted its second consecutive shutout after blanking LSU in a 17-0 victory last week. Arkansas has now not allowed a point in 133:21 since Mississippi State reached the end zone on Nov. 1. The Razorbacks took advantage of rainy conditions and a sloppy, wounded Bo Wallace to force six turnovers. Wallace fumbled twice and threw two interceptions, the second of which was returned by Rohan Gaines 100 yards from end zone to end zone. Arkansas stuffed Ole Miss’ running game, holding the Rebels to 63 yards on 33 carries.
With the defense carrying the way, the Razorbacks needed little from their offense. Ole Miss outgained Arkansas 315-311, but the Razorbacks avoided costly turnovers, even after quarterback Brandon Allen left the game with a back injury. Arkansas stayed true to its roots by grinding out the game on the ground, rushing 50 times for 159 yards. -- CB
No. 16 Wisconsin 26, Iowa 24
Melvin Gordon’s FBS record for rushing yards in a game may have stood for only a week, but the Wisconsin star continued to amaze and build his campaign for a Heisman. Gordon rushed for 200 yards with three touchdowns as the Badgers held off Iowa 26-24 to move within a game of the Big Ten West title. Wisconsin just needs to beat Minnesota next week to win the division and earn a matchup with Ohio State in the conference championship game.
Gordon pulled into a tie for the Big Ten record for rushing yards in a season at 2,109, set by former Badgers running back Ron Dayne in 1996. Gordon also set the FBS record for fewest rushes to reach 2,000 yards.
When Wisconsin needed him most, Gordon did a little big of everything to secure the win. Nursing a 19-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Badgers went to Gordon in successive plays for a 35-yard completion on third-and-13, a 10-yard completion and a 23-yard touchdown rush. Iowa quickly drove 86 yards in 2:43 to pull back within two but couldn’t get any closer as Wisconsin ran out the clock.
Jake Rudock dissected the Wisconsin secondary, completing 20-of-30 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns, but the Iowa ground game only produced 3.6 yards per carry. Iowa entered Saturday as part of a four-team hunt for the Big Ten West title, but with Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s wins, the Badgers and Gophers will play next week in what amounts to a conference semifinal. -- CB
No. 15 Arizona 42, No. 17 Utah 10
Arizona’s hopes for the Pac-12 South title are still alive.
The Wildcats lots quarterback Anu Solomon midway through the third quarter, but leaned heavily on running back Nick Wilson, who finished with 218 yards and three touchdowns, in their dominant 42-10 road win at Utah.
Solomon, who injured his right ankle at Washington and was gimpy coming into kickoff, spent most of the second half in a walking boot on the sideline. He went out with Arizona up 21-7, and Utah forced a fumble from Wildcats backup Jesse Scroggins on his first series. The Utes settled for a field goal off of the turnover, and Arizona turned to Wilson.
Scroggins completed just three of five passes for 64 yards, but his arm wasn’t necessary. After the Arizona defense sacked Utah quarterback Travis Wilson and forced the Utes to punt to open the fourth quarter, Arizona handed off to Wilson the next five snaps, culminating in a 75-yard scoring run that put the Wildcats up 28-10. He scored again 70 seconds later after Arizona intercepted Wilson and set up another touchdown run, this one for 19 yards. Saturday marked the third consecutive year an Arizona running back has rushed for at least 200 yards against Utah, statistically one of the best defenses in the conference.
Utah’s Devontae Booker rushed for 142 yards on 23 carries, and Wilson completed 16-of-29 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown. He also threw two picks.
Arizona still has a shot at playing for the Pac-12 championship, but the Wildcats must first beat Arizona State next week -- something third-year coach Rich Rodriguez has never done -- and they need UCLA to beat USC tonight, and then Stanford to beat UCLA next week. -- Lindsay Schnell
No. 6 Ohio State 42, Indiana 27
If Ohio State manages to sneak into the inaugural College Football Playoff, a certain punt may go down in Buckeyes’ lore. And a certain punt return, too.
Trailing Indiana 20-14 late in the third quarter, No. 6 Ohio State stalled on its eighth consecutive drive, forcing a punt from midfield. Cameron Johnstonuncorked a brilliant boot that bounced before dying at the Indiana one-yard line. Hoosiers quarterback Zander Diamont threw an incomplete pass on first down. After a bad snap nearly led to a safety, Diamont threw incomplete again on second down. A miscommunication sent Diamont diving for a three-yard gain on third down, and the Hoosiers punted from their own end zone. That’s when Jalin Marshall took over.
The Ohio State speedster took Erich Toth’s short kick and darted up the middle, hitting holes before escaping into open field and racing 54 yards for a touchdown. The Buckeyes never trailed again, pulling away late for a 42-27 victory.
After Ohio State mustered only 14 points through nearly three quarters against an Indiana defense that allowed 33.6 points per game entering Saturday, Marshall’s punt return awoke the Buckeyes. He capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive on Ohio State’s next possession with a six-yard touchdown catch. Marshall then added the exclamation point with a one-handed touchdown grab and a 54-yard catch-and-run score. He finished with four total touchdowns, while quarterback J.T. Barrett went 25-of-35 for 302 yards with four scores and two interceptions. Indiana tailback Tevin Coleman rushed for 228 yards with three touchdowns in a losing effort. -- CB
No. 25 Minnesota 28, No. 23 Nebraska 24
Both Nebraska and Minnesota entered Saturday’s Big Ten matchup with a chance to reach the conference title game. History said the Gophers didn’t stand a chance, but coach Jerry Kill’s program left Lincoln with Indianapolis still in sight.
Minnesota rallied from a 21-7 deficit and hung on for a 28-24 victory over Nebraska, which was the program’s first win in Lincoln since 1960. The Gophers will play for the Big Ten West title next week against Wisconsin.
The Huskers ended the first half with a 21-7 lead and all the momentum. Defensive end Randy Gregory blocked a Minnesota field goal attempt and Nate Gerry took the ball 85 yards for a touchdown with 5:18 until break. Nebraska had 233 yards of offense, or 7.8 yards per play, at half compared to Minnesota’s 192 yards, or 4.9 yards per play. Star Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah had only 31 yards at half.
But Minnesota struck back in the third quarter. It punched in two scoring runs by David Cobb and Roderick Williams Jr. to climb within 24-21 at the end of the third period. After Cobb left the game with a hamstring injury at the beginning of the fourth quarter, quarterback Mitch Leidner (110 rushing yards, two touchdowns) took the Gophers 78 yards on 10 plays to take the lead, 28-24, late in the period. Minnesota’s defense put the icing on the cake by stripping Nebraska receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El in the red zone and jumping on the fumble with 1:19 to play.
Nebraska needed Wisconsin to lose its final two Big Ten games to have a shot at the conference championship, but none of it mattered if the Huskers couldn’t top Minnesota. Suddenly Bo Pelini is flirting with a four-loss season for the seventh straight year. Folks in Lincoln aren’t content with a mediocre program, and now that the Huskers are out of the league title race, Nebraska faithful might get more frustrated. Meanwhile, Minnesota will play for the division title next week at Wisconsin. -- ZE
No. 13 Arizona State 52, Washington State 31
With star wide receiver Jaelen Strong forced to miss No. 13 Arizona State’s matchup with Washington State, the Sun Devils turned to their defense in their 52-31 win.
That defense responded well against the Cougars, forcing five Luke Falk turnovers that led to 28 points, as Arizona State remained alive in the Pac-12 South title hunt. The Sun Devils will be watching the USC-UCLA game later Saturday as the biggest Trojans cheerleaders out there. A Bruins loss would put the Sun Devils back in the division lead needing only to beat rival Arizona in Tucson to earn a date with Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.
While Strong sat out after suffering a concussion late in Arizona State’s loss to Oregon State last week, the Sun Devils got strong performances from D.J. Foster (96 rush yards, three rush touchdowns, 59 receiving yards) and Cameron Smith, who did his best Strong impression pulling in six catches for 131 yards and two scores. -- MR
Marshall 23, UAB 18
Marshall’s unbeaten season looked to be in major jeopardy early in the fourth quarter against UAB on Saturday. The Blazers held a slim 18-17 lead against the 10-0 Thundering Herd, whose New Year’s Six bowl hopes hung in the balance.
That’s when the Herd’s defense stepped up. Arnold Blackmon sacked Blazers quarterback Cody Clements in the end zone and jarred the ball loose. Ra'Shawde Myers recovered to give Marshall a 23-18 lead with 7:35 to play. The Herd stuffed UAB late in the ensuing series to seal the win.
With the victory Marshall remains in the running for the Group of Five’s berth in the New Year’s Six bowls, despite its soft Conference USA schedule. The Herd join Florida State as the only two unbeaten FBS programs. -- ZE