NCAA top 25 football roundup
No. 1 Alabama 63, Kentucky 3
Alabama didn't quite look like itself at first after an extended period on the sidelines, but it scarcely made a difference on the scoreboard.
DeVonta Smith caught nine passes for 144 yards and set the Southeastern Conference career record with two more touchdowns in the top-ranked Crimson Tide's victory over short-handed Kentucky on Saturday.
“I think we played better and better and better as the game went on,” coach Nick Saban said.
And the score got bigger and bigger and bigger.
Mac Jones passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns and Najee Harris ran for a pair of scores for the Tide (7-0 SEC), both in less than three quarters. A slow start turned into a breezy return from a three-week layoff after LSU was forced to call off last week's scheduled game because of COVID-19 troubles.
The outmanned Wildcats (3-5) were missing a number of key players because of injuries or coronavirus protocol. They were competitive early on the stat sheet, but it didn't hold up particularly long on the scoreboard after they gave up three second-quarter touchdowns.
“I know you’re going to look at the score and say, ‘Man, there’s not a lot of good things.’ But there was,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "Early in the game, I thought our guys were playing extremely hard, extremely physical.”
Smith broke Amari Cooper's SEC and Alabama record with his 32nd touchdown catch, a 10-yarder from Jones in the second quarter. He added an 18-yarder from freshman backup Bryce Young.
“It’s certainly a blessing to have my name with all the greats that came to the SEC and this school,” Smith said.
Jones completed 16 of 24 passes but also was intercepted at the goal line in a rare mistake. Harris had a career-long 42-yard touchdown run and gained 83 yards on 13 carries.
Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson passed for just 120 yards and was benched after throwing an interception that Jordan Battle returned 45 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Joey Gatewood and Beau Allen couldn't get anything going, either. The Wildcats gained 121 yards in the first quarter and 60 the rest of the way.
Kentucky played without leading rusher Chris Rodriguez, guard Luke Fortner, tight ends Justin Rigg and Brenden Bates, and linebackers Jamin Davis and D’Eryk Jackson. The school didn’t disclose reasons for each player’s absence.
Saban matched former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier for second on the SEC’s career regular-season wins list with his 206th. Bear Bryant tops the list with 292.
Alabama has outscored Mississippi State and Kentucky by a combined 104-3. Didn't have anything close to a flawless first half on either side of the ball, but still took a 28-3 lead into the locker room. Had the ball for just 9:20 in the half.
"The last time I checked you get nothing for time of possession,” Saban said.
Alabama got backups such as Young and freshman tailback Jase McClellan significant playing time. McClellan ran for 99 yards and a late touchdown, moving up the depth chart after Trey Sanders was injured in a car accident.
“It's just good to see the young guys get in there and get a feeling for how it's going to be,” Smith said. “You never know when they're going to be needed.”
Despite missing all those players, the Wildcats kept it close for a while. They controlled the ball much of the first half but settled for three field goal tries and converted only one, with a miss and a bad snap. Kentucky couldn't muster much offense after that.
No. 6 Florida 38, Vanderbilt 17
Kyle Trask passed for 383 yards and three touchdowns and Florida overcame an early deficit to beat Vanderbilt.
The Gators (6-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) pulled into Vanderbilt Stadium an hour before kickoff already in uniform, hoping to avoid the visitors locker room as a coronavirus precaution. The Commodores (0-7, 0-7) opened the game by driving for a touchdown, but Trask helped get Florida on track for its seventh consecutive win in the series.
Trask completed 26 of 35 passes to nine receivers. He’s the first quarterback in SEC history with 30 touchdown passes in seven games.
No. 7 Cincinnati 36, Central Florida 33
Desmond Ridder threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores and Cincinnati beat Central Florida to head into the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings unbeaten.
The Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 American) fell behind 14-3 in the first quarter against their toughest opponent yet but grabbed the lead by halftime. Rider passed for 338 yards and ran for 57.
Dillon Gabriel threw for 243 yards, three touchdowns and one interception as the Knights (5-3, 4-3) lost at home for the second time this season.
The first CFP rankings come out Tuesday night and the Bearcats are hoping to become the first team from outside the Power Five conferences to crack the Top 10 in the selection committee’s first Top 25 of the season.
No. 8 BYU 66, North Alabama 14
Tyler Allgeier ran for a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns and BYU routed overmatched North Alabama to improve to 9-0.
Allgeier had his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Zach Wilson threw for 212 yards and four touchdowns before halftime and added 33 yards rushing. He had a season-high 256.3 QB rating.
BYU scored touchdowns on all six first-half drives. The Cougars rolled up 394 total yards and averaged 11.3 yards per play before halftime.
Rett Files threw for 198 yards and a touchdown for the Lions (0-4). Files played during the second and fourth quarters while starting quarterback Blake Dever took snaps in the first and third quarters. Dever threw for 107 yards.
No. 11 Oregon 38, UCLA 35
Tyler Shough threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns and Oregon held off short-handed UCLA to remain undefeated.
At 3-0, Oregon solidified its spot atop the Pac-12 North.
Devon Williams had six catches for 123 yards, including a 19-yarder for a score and a 49-yard reception that helped set up a third-quarter score.
UCLA (1-2) had several players out because of COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing, including starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Redshirt freshman Chase Griffin started.
Griffin threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. Demetric Felton rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including an 11-yard scoring run that got the Bruins within three with 3:43 left.
No. 13 Georgia 31, Mississippi State 24
JT Daniels made quite a debut between the hedges, throwing for 401 yards and four touchdowns in Georgia's victory over Mississippi State,
Playing for the first time since the 2019 opener with Southern California, Daniels became the third quarterback to start for the Bulldogs (5-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) this season.
The transfer from USC delivered one big play after another, capped by a 40-yard touchdown pass to Kearis Jackson that broke a 24-24 tie with 9:50 remaining. What made it more impressive: Jackson and George Pickens had dropped potential TD passes on back-to-back plays, and a holding penalty left Georgia with third-and-20. But Jackson slipped behind the secondary in the middle of the field, and Daniels spotted him to finally finish off pesky Mississippi State (2-5, 2-5).
Daniels became the first Georgia quarterback to pass for more than 400 yards since Aaron Murray against Auburn in 2013.
Freshman Jermaine Burton was Daniels’ favorite receiver, hauling in eight passes for 197 yards — including TD catches of 18 and 48 yards, not to mention another grab of 49 yards.
No. 15 Coastal Carolina 34, Appalachian State 23
Reese White scored on a 3-yard run with 2:24 to play and Coastal Carolina improved to 8-0 with its first victory over Appalachian State.
The Chants (6-0 Sun Belt Conference) had lost all six previous games to the four-time defending Sun Belt champion Mountaineers. But they held Appalachian State (6-2, 4-1) to just two field goals in the second half after falling behind 17-9 at halftime.
The Mountaineers tried to rally after White’s score. But D’Jordan Strong intercepted Zac Thomas’ fourfth-and-22 pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
Picked last in the Sun Belt in the preseason, Coastal Carolina is a victory away from winning the East Division and playing West winner Louisiana-Lafayette for the conference title next month.
No. 17 Iowa State 45, Kansas State 9
Brock Purdy passed for 236 yards and three touchdowns and Iowa State beat Kansas State for its most lopsided win over the Wildcats in 77 years.
Iowa State (6-2) improved to 6-1 in the Big 12, matching the school record for conference wins.
The Cyclones hadn’t had such a wide winning margin against the Wildcats since they beat them 48-0 in 1943. It was their biggest win over a Big 12 opponent since beating Kansas 45-0 three years ago.
Kansas State (4-4, 4-3), which won 11 of the previous 12 meetings, started to unravel after failing to score on an early first-and-goal from the 3.
Purdy completed 10 of his first 12 passes for 156 yards to six receivers and all three of his touchdowns. Breece Hall ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
No. 20 Southern California 33, Utah 17
Kedon Slovis threw for two touchdowns and Southern California used a strong defensive performance to overpower Utah.
Slovis completed 24 of 35 passes for 264 yards for USC (3-0, 3-0 Pac-12), but the Trojans’ defense took centerstage, forcing five turnovers to move into pole position for the Pac-12 South title.
Utah (0-1, 0-1) was the final major conference team to make its 2020 debut after coronavirus cases scuttled its first two scheduled games of an already delayed season.
North Carolina State 16, No. 21 Liberty 14
North Carolina State blocked Alex Barbir’s 39-yard field goal attempt with 1:18 left to beat Liberty, handing the Flames their first loss this season.
Liberty (8-1) was trying to earn a third win against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent this year, all on the road. The Flames had their shot to extend the best start in program history, too, putting together a drive to give Barbir — who had kicked a 51-yard field goal to beat Virginia Tech earlier this season — a shot at the lead.
But Vi Jones deflected the kick to set off a celebration for the Wolfpack (6-3), who moved the chains once more to run out the clock and seal a win on a tough night for both offenses.
Zonovan Knight ran for two touchdowns to lead N.C. State, including the go-ahead 4-yard score with 6:53 left. That play was set up by a diving interception from true freshman reserve Aydan White.
No. 23 Auburn 30, Tennessee 17
Smoke Monday returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown and Auburn overcame a slow start to beat Tennessee.
Auburn (5-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) fell behind 10-0 to Tennessee (2-5, 2-5) and dealt with injuries to star running back Tank Bigsby and its two starting offensive tackles. The Tigers were playing their first game in 21 days after a scheduled off week and the postponement of a game at Mississippi State.
Bo Nix completed 17 of 26 passes for 220 yards, with a 54-yard touchdown to Anthony Schwartz and his first career interception in a home game. Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano started strong but finished with only 156 yards of passing and the interception return for a touchdown that gave Auburn a two-score lead late in the third quarter.
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