Video: No. 21 Clemson 16, Syracuse 6

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
Cole Stoudt threw for 209 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Tigers’ 16-6 win over Syracuse.
videoAUBURN, Ala. -- Steve Spurrier tried his luck one too many times. South Carolina converted five consecutive fourth downs, four in its own territory, but an incomplete pass on yet another fourth down late proved to be the difference.

In a game that featured 1,086 yards and 55 first downs between the teams, Auburn escaped with a 42-35 victory over the Gamecocks on Saturday.

How the game was won: There was no stopping Auburn. Nick Marshall was great. He had three touchdown runs and a clutch throw to D'haquille Williams on third down to seal the game. Cameron Artis-Payne ran with an extra chip on his shoulder. But it was the offensive line that dominated. The Tigers had only eight drives in the game; they scored touchdowns on six of them.

Gameball goes to: Nobody was better than Marshall. The Auburn quarterback went 12 of 14 for 139 yards and a touchdown through the air. He rushed for 89 yards and three touchdowns. He was simply tremendous. Marshall might have seen his Heisman hopes disappear against Mississippi State, but he played like a Heisman Trophy candidate on Saturday.

What it means: Auburn will need to ride its quarterback as far as he'll take them. With not much of a defense to lean on, it's going to be up to Marshall and Co. to outscore opponents each week from here on out. If Marshall plays like he did Saturday against South Carolina, Auburn will be fine. If he turns the ball over like he did against Mississippi State, it's going to get dicey.

Playoff implication: It wasn't a pretty win, but Auburn remains alive and well in the race to the College Football Playoff. And on a night when Ole Miss fell on the road at LSU, you take what you can get. With games against Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama remaining, Auburn has its fate in its own hands. Win out and you're all but guaranteed a spot in the playoff -- even if Mississippi State makes the SEC championship game.

Best play: Who would’ve guessed a surprise breakout performance from Ricardo Louis on Saturday? The Auburn wide receiver, who had seven rushing yards coming in, rushed for 102 yards and this 75-yard touchdown that put the Tigers back in front early in the second half. Bottom line – Louis is fast.

video What's next: It doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers. Auburn travels to No. 3 Ole Miss next Saturday in a critical SEC West showdown. Meanwhile, South Carolina will return home to face Tennessee.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Lane Kiffin's return to Neyland Stadium was a successful one, as Alabama rolled up 469 yards of offense in a 34-20 win over Tennessee. Things got a little interesting after the first quarter, but Alabama held strong in front of a crowd of 102,455. Here's how it happened:

How the game was won: Alabama put on a clinic in the first quarter, leading 20-0 and out-gaining Tennessee 253 to 80 yards. Alabama added another touchdown in the second, but Tennessee made a nice comeback during the second and third quarters, after Joshua Dobbs replaced Nathan Peterman at quarterback. Alabama converted 11 of 15 third downs, and Derrick Henry's 28-yard touchdown run late in the third put the game away.

Gameball goes to: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper was outstanding, as 185 of his 224 yards and both of his touchdowns came in the first quarter, alone. Cooper made plays down the sideline and over the middle. He was easily the best player on the field all night, and continues to look like the country's best receiver.

What it means: Alabama didn't look as sharp after the first quarter, but the win means it's still very much in the SEC -- and playoff -- race. With Ole Miss losing to LSU, Alabama is right back in the thick of the SEC race, especially with Mississippi State playing in Tuscaloosa in November. Tennessee might have lost its eighth straight to Alabama, but Dobbs might have played himself into the starting role for as long as Justin Worley is out after looking more confident that we've seen in the past and throwing for 192 yards with two touchdowns. He also rushed for 75 yards.

Playoff implication: Alabama is in great position, really. After two straight dominating wins, Alabama still has an ever-improving LSU team to play (on the road) and No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 5 Auburn at home to close the season. Alabama is hitting its stride and strength of schedule won't be a problem for the Tide at all.

Best play: It has to be Cooper's touchdown on Alabama's first play from scrimmage. What started as a routine pass underneath to the right flat turned into a back-breaker for Tennessee's defense, as Cooper sprinted toward the sideline, made a move on a defender and was gone. Who was jacked about it? Oh, that would be Kiffin, who sprinted along side him some.

video What's next: It cools down this week for Alabama, as the Tide has a bye next weekend. However, the next week brings a trip to Baton Rouge to play LSU. Tennessee travels to South Carolina next week.
A breakdown of LSU's 10-7 upset win over Ole Miss on Saturday night.

How the game was won: Defense. LSU held Ole Miss to 313 offensive yards and got two critical stops in the final two minutes. The first came with 1:44 remaining on a fourth-and-1 try in which the Tigers stuffed the Rebels, and the second came with two seconds left when, instead of trying a 47-yard field goal, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze elected to try one more play. The Tigers made him pay for the decision. LSU senior safety Ronald Martin intercepted a pass from Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace with two seconds left to seal the upset win.

Game ball goes to: Leonard Fournette. The true freshman running back, who was the No. 1 recruit in the 2014 class, came up big after Terrence Magee left the game with an injury. Fournette finished with 113 yards on 23 carries, including some critical runs in LSU’s final scoring drive. He even got his face mask ripped off by an Ole Miss defender, but his work on the last scoring drive help set up the game-winning score. Give the LSU defense a ton of credit also for keeping the Tigers in it even though they turned the ball over four times.

What it means: We have a big shakeup near the top of the rankings and in the College Football Playoff race. Previously undefeated Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1 SEC) will drop and LSU, a team that is in the midst of what many have called a "rebuilding year" seems to be getting stronger. The Tigers (7-2, 3-2 SEC) have now won three in a row and are building momentum.

Playoff implication: Ole Miss’s chances take a hit. How much of a hit? We’ll find out when the playoff selection committee’s rankings are released on Tuesday. But a team that once controlled its own fate no longer does.

Best play: Without a doubt, the play that sealed the win for LSU ... Martin intercepting Wallace:

What's next: Ole Miss must regroup quickly as it returns home to Oxford to host No. 5 Auburn a week from today. LSU has an open date next week and doesn’t return to the field until Nov. 8 when it hosts No. 4 Alabama in Baton Rouge.

Video: Auburn coach Gus Malzahn

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn discusses his team's 42-35 win against South Carolina on Saturday.

What we learned in the ACC: Week 9

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
Here's what we learned in the ACC in Week 9:

[+] EnlargeGus Edwards
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsMiami is rising in the Coastal division and dominated the Hokies on Thursday.
Miami fans can calm down. It's been an up-and-down start to the season for Miami, but Thursday night's win at Virginia Tech was a high point. The Hurricanes looked terrific on both sides of the ball as the defense held the Hokies to just 262 yards of offense, while Duke Johnson rushed for a 249 yards and a touchdown (adding 37 more and another touchdown through the air). In the crowded Coastal standings, Miami is trending upward and has a win over first-place Duke that could loom very large as the season moves into the home stretch.

Virginia Tech fans are getting restless. There are some valid excuses for Virginia Tech's struggles this season. Quarterback Michael Brewer didn't arrive until the summer. Freshmen are receiving playing time all over the offense. Injuries have decimated the starting lineup. But for all the reasonable explanations, what Virginia Tech fans care most about is that the Hokies are just 12-13 against Power 5 teams in the past three seasons, and Thursday's home loss to Miami may have been the most listless performance Frank Beamer's squad has had in a while.

Georgia Tech is going bowling. After a 5-0 start to the season, this seemed obvious, but two straight losses soured much of the early momentum the Yellow Jackets had created. Add an injury that kept second-leading rusher Zach Laskey off the field against Pitt, and things weren't looking good. So what happens? Pitt fumbles on each of its first five drives, Tech rushes for 465 yards -- most in the ACC this season -- and the power dynamic in the Coastal shifted yet again. More importantly though, Georgia Tech got back to doing what it does best: Running the ball down the opposition's throats, avoiding mistakes and capitalizing when the opposition coughs up the ball. And the result, of course, is that Tech will be in a bowl game for the 18th straight season.

Mitch Trubisky can throw it, too. North Carolina entered Saturday's game at Virginia with the ACC's hottest quarterback in Marquise Williams, but it was Trubisky, the backup, who won the game for the Tar Heels with a 16-yard touchdown pass with 4:05 to play. Trubisky was in the game only because Williams' helmet popped off on the previous play, but his toss to T.J. Thorpe on a third-and-15 was the difference in the 28-27 UNC win. It was his only throw of the game. For the second straight year, a once-struggling Tar Heels team is finding ways to win down the stretch and is right back in the thick of things in the Coastal.

Clemson's defense is frightening. The offense hasn't done much in Deshaun Watson's absence, but the Tigers have managed to win their last three games behind a defense that has utterly smothered the opposition. Clemson manhandled Syracuse, holding the Orange to their lowest yardage total since 2008 and racking up 12 tackles for loss along the way. In its last four games, Clemson's defense has allowed just three touchdowns, given up an average of just 3.5 yards per play and recorded 40 tackles for loss.

Video: No. 15 Arizona 59, Washington State 37

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25

Anu Solomon threw five touchdown passes in No. 15 Arizona's 59-37 victory over Washington State on Saturday.
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- It took Mississippi State 115 years to reach No. 1 in the polls. The Bulldogs then spent a bye week lapping up congratulatory back slaps at home in Starkville before taking that digit into an actual game.

So some might see the warts from Saturday’s 45-31 win at Kentucky, which wasn’t decided until the final couple of minutes, and question why they didn’t dominate like a top-ranked team. But the simple answer is they didn’t really know how to play that role.

Head coach Dan Mullen thought his team was so tightly wound in the first half -- dropping passes, missing blocks and tackles, trying not to make mistakes instead of being aggressive -- that his big halftime speech was more like a yoga session. Take a deep breath, he told his guys.

[+] EnlargeJosh Robinson
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMississippi State running back Josh Robinson proved tough to tackle on Saturday.
“We felt a little pressure because now you have a target on your back,” defensive tackle Kaleb Eulls said. “It was like first-time jitters, playing as No. 1 for the first time.”

The Bulldogs’ final exhale didn’t arrive until much later. Three different times in the second half, they grabbed a 14-point lead only to see Kentucky score a touchdown to make it a one-score game again. The resilient Wildcats sliced the lead to 38-31 with 2:31 left and went for the onside kick.

But the ball zoomed straight to the 230-pound Christian Holmes, and the player nicknamed “Turtle” ran like a rabbit for the 61-yard, decisive score. Holmes said he scored on a similar play in practice last week, but he was so surprised to do so in an actual game that the referee had to ask him for the ball.

“I still had it high and tight,” Holmes said. “I was so excited, I didn’t know what to do.”

This wasn’t exactly how Mississippi State would have scripted its first game as No. 1, especially in giving up 504 yards of offense to an unranked opponent. But afterward, Mullen and his players seemed loose and relaxed while cracking jokes with reporters. The burden of that initial ranking had clearly been lifted.

“Hopefully, we get all that ranking stuff behind us now,” Mullen said. “You can drop us if you want, I don’t really care. It certainly will ease the pressure right now."

Josh Robinson helped make sure that the Bulldogs didn’t enjoy a short-lived time at the top.

The junior tailback ran for a career-high 198 yards on 23 carries, including a 73-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave his team some breathing room. Chugging his tree-trunk legs, the 5-foot-9 Robinson was virtually impossible for the Wildcats to bring down, never more so than on a 22-yard run in which it seemed like everybody in the stadium got a piece of him.

“They don’t call me ‘The Human Bowling Ball’ for nothing,” he said. “I try to live up to that name the best I can.”

Robinson, who had a 197-yard day earlier this year at LSU, joked that he begged Mullen for another carry when the team was in victory formation so he could get to 200. Mullen told him he had had 59 minutes to get those extra two yards.

If he keeps making highlight-reel plays like he did Saturday, Robinson will get to 200 some day. He didn’t think anything he did against Kentucky was too special.

“Go to YouTube and type in J-Rob,” he said. “You’ll see that a lot.”

Robinson was the offensive star on a day when Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott put up his usual efficient numbers (18-for-33 for 216 yards passing, 18 carries for 88 yards, a touchdown pass and two rushing touchdowns). Prescott wore a walking boot on his left foot to the postgame news conference. But before Mississippi State fans could sound the alarm cowbells, he shrugged it off as merely precautionary.

Still, details like that get magnified beyond just the Magnolia State when you’re the No. 1 team in the country. The polls people care about will change on Tuesday night when the College Football Playoff selection committee releases its first Top 25. The Bulldogs may or may not be on top of that one, but they will surely check in safely in the top four.

Mullen said he probably won’t watch the reveal of the first committee poll.

“I imagine we’ll be in the mix, and that will be a great honor for us,” he said. “If the playoffs were next week, I’d definitely be watching. But since they don’t start for quite a long time, I don’t know. I might be having dinner.”

The Bulldogs got their first game as a No. 1 team out of the way. Now they relax before trying to finish there.

“You can just refocus on what you do,” Eulls said. “No worrying about the rankings at all, just what you’re doing.”
Here’s what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 9:

[+] EnlargeTrevone Boykin
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezTrevone Boykin's record-setting day possibly helped propel the TCU quarterback into the Heisman race.
1. Boykin is a Heisman contender: It’s time for people to start taking Trevone Boykin’s Heisman candidacy seriously. The TCU quarterback threw for 433 yards and tossed a school-record seven touchdowns in the Horned Frogs’ 82-27 demolition of Texas Tech. TCU’s 82 points were a school record, and a Big 12 record for points in a conference game. The 82 points were also the most scored on an FBS team since 2010. Boykin, who ended last season as a wide receiver, has made a remarkable turnaround as a quarterback this year under first-year Horned Frogs coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie. Boykin now has 21 touchdown passes, leading a TCU offense that has been as lethal as any in the country this season. The Horned Frogs remain in the thick of the playoff conversation and the Big 12 title race. Boykin is the biggest reason why. And for that reason, he should begin to receive Heisman consideration.

2. The Oklahoma State offense is a train wreck: While the TCU offense has been a revelation, the Oklahoma State offense has been a total disaster. After a 34-10 home loss to West Virginia, the Cowboys have now gone 10 quarters with just one offensive touchdown. Oklahoma State did absolutely nothing in the second half offensively against West Virginia, capped by a pick-six interception in the fourth quarter that iced the victory for the Mountaineers. Once again, the Cowboys' offensive line couldn’t protect quarterback Daxx Garman or open holes for Desmond Roland or Tyreek Hill. And Garman was miserably inaccurate in the second half, overthrowing receivers pass after pass. This is shaping up to be Mike Gundy’s worst offense since his first season as coach in 2005. Oklahoma State’s past 40 drives have resulted in 20 punts, nine turnovers, six field goals, three touchdowns and two missed field goals. With No. 11 Kansas State, No. 12 Baylor and No. 17 Oklahoma -- all on the road -- still left on the schedule, there’s little end in sight, too. If the Cowboys don’t knock off Texas at home on Nov. 15, they could miss out on a bowl for the first time since that 2005 season.

3. The Texas offense still has a long way to go, too: After a rough start to the season, the Longhorns seemed to be turning a corner offensively. Texas moved the ball well on Oklahoma, then scored 48 points in a win over Iowa State. But in the 23-0 loss to Kansas State on Saturday, the Wildcats handed the Longhorns their first shutout in 10 years while exposing multiple deficiencies. The Wildcats took away the deep ball and stuffed Texas’ run game, forcing QB Tyrone Swoopes to try to move the chains with an intermediate passing game. In response, neither Swoopes nor the Longhorns could sustain a drive. Texas finished with just 196 yards of offense, and in 17 snaps on K-State’s side of the field, gained only 18 yards. Swoopes has shown promise in recent weeks, but he still has a long way to go. So does the rest of the Texas offense.

4. K-State can win in multiple ways: Last week in a 31-30 victory over Oklahoma, the Wildcats won with an efficient effort from quarterback Jake Waters. Saturday, with Waters nursing a sore shoulder, the Wildcats won with a dominating performance from their defense. Ryan Mueller and Jonathan Truman controlled the line of scrimmage, while Dante Barnett and Randall Evans batted away Swoopes’ passing attempts down the middle of the field. The Wildcats have proven they can win semi-shootouts slinging the ball with Waters and receivers Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. Against Texas, they showed they can win by flattening the opposing offense. That balance is why K-State has surged into a the Big 12 title mix. And why the Wildcats remain in playoff contention.

5. West Virginia is going bowling: Before the season West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck wouldn’t commit to stipulating that the Mountaineers had to make a bowl for this season to be considered a success. The schedule was brutal. And the Mountaineers had shown very little in two seasons in the Big 12. Luck just wanted to see improvement. Well, Luck has gotten that improvement. And Saturday, the Mountaineers became bowl eligible, too, with a convincing victory at Oklahoma State. But after four straight victories, including two straight on the road for the first time since joining the Big 12, West Virginia can set its sights higher. With TCU visiting Morgantown next weekend, the Mountaineers have a chance to take a major leap forward in the Big 12 title race. This has already been an amazing year for West Virginia, which came into the season with little outside expectations. Now, it has a chance to get even better.

Video: West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen credits his team's defense and running game after the 22nd-ranked Mountaineers' 34-10 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Video: No. 23 Marshall 35, Florida Atlantic 16

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25

ESPN's Heather Dinich discusses the postseason implications for Marshall after its 35-16 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

Video: No. 10 TCU 82, Texas Tech 27

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
Trevone Boykin threw a school-record seven touchdown passes in No. 10 TCU's 82-27 win over Texas Tech.

Video: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio talks about his team's running game and recent success over rival Michigan after a 35-11 win over the Wolverines on Saturday.

Michigan student paper throws in the towel

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
Unlike the school's football team, the Michigan Daily has had a heck of a year.

The campus newspaper has provided excellent coverage throughout this tumultuous time in Ann Arbor -- and on Saturday, it served its readers once more. As rival Michigan State began to pour it on against the Wolverines, the paper's Twitter feed asked its followers if it was time to bail on the tweets.

Ten minutes later, they had their answer.
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Mississippi State played its first-ever game as a No. 1-ranked team on Saturday and had to do some serious work to keep that status during a 45-31 win at Kentucky. Here’s how it went down.

How the game was won: Kentucky attempted an onside kick with 2:31 left, trailing by seven points. It was horribly executed, as the ball made a beeline to the Bulldogs’ Christian Holmes. The 230-pound Holmes just had to beat the kicker while running the return in for an unusual, and back-breaking, touchdown.

Gameball goes to: Mississippi State’s Josh Robinson -- not leading Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott -- was the best player on the field. Refusing to be tackled for much of the game, he finished with a career-high 198 rushing yards on 23 carries, along with two scores. Robinson’s 73-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner.

Kentucky’s Patrick Towles (390 passing yards, 76 rushing yards, 11 receiving yards, two TD passes and two rushing TDs) deserves mention, too.

What it means: Mississippi State wasn’t sharp on defense, to put it kindly. That could become more of a problem later on this season. But the Bulldogs escaped with the road victory and remained in first place of the dog-eat-dog SEC West. A 9-0 record going into the Nov. 15 showdown at Alabama is likely.

Playoff implication: It remains to be seen if Mississippi State will be No. 1 in the playoff selection committee’s first Top 25 on Tuesday night. The committee may prefer another team, like Ole Miss (pending tonight’s game at LSU) or even Florida State. But it’s not that important right now, because the Bulldogs would solidly be in the field of four if the playoff were held today.

What's next: Mississippi State returns home to host Arkansas next Saturday. If the Bulldogs keep the Razorbacks winless in the SEC under Bret Bielema, they should cruise to the Alabama game after facing Tennessee-Martin at home Nov. 8. Kentucky has lost two straight since starting 5-1 and goes to Missouri next week still seeking bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010.