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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Top 25 college football roundup

    Alabama quarterback Bryce Young runs away from Utah State defensive lineman Hale Motu'apuaka during the first half of Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The top-ranked Crimson Tide won, 55-0. (Vasha Hunt/AP Photo)
    Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson runs past Cincinnati defensive back Ja'Quan Sheppard as teammate Matt Landers blocks on a touchdown run during the first half of Saturday’s game in Fayetteville, Ark. The 19th ranked Razorbacks beat No. 23 Cincinnati, 31-24. (Michael Woods/AP Photo)

    No. 1 Alabama 55, Utah State 0

    Bryce Young’s five touchdown passes were nothing all that new for Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner.

    That 63-yard sprint down the left sideline and other big runs presented a seldom seen side of his game.

    Young didn't just throw for those touchdowns — all in the first half — he even ran for 100 yards and a score in No. 1 Alabama's 55-0 opening victory over Utah State on Saturday night.

    It was, he said, a “cool” and “interesting” experience.

    “I just try to do whatever is best for this team, whatever the defense gives us,” Young said. "That's definitely interesting. It definitely wasn't something I was planning. For me, it's just taking whatever the defense gives us.

    “Today that was just what was available. It's cool.”

    The Crimson Tide began their quest for national title redemption with a not unexpected start-to-finish domination of the six-touchdown underdog Aggies (1-1). Less anticipated: Young's runs.

    Known primarily as a passer with a penchant for scrambling and buying time, Young flashed his running ability more than he ever did last season, including a 63-yarder down the left sideline.

    He also spread the ball around to Alabama's new set of playmakers, with two touchdown passes to both Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton and Traeshon Holden and some handoffs to Jahmyr Gibbs.

    Young ran five times after netting zero yards thanks to sacks last season with a previous long run of 16 yards. He also completed 18 of 28 passes for 195 yards before exiting one drive into the second half following his TD run.

    “I see Bryce do that on the regular, so it wasn’t really new to me,” Alabama safety Brian Branch said. “Just watching him be himself out there is truly amazing. Playing with a Heisman winner, I can’t describe it.”

    Gibbs, a much talked about transfer from Georgia Tech, flashed his speed with a 58-yard run on the first play after the half. He finished with 93 yards on nine rushes.

    His backup, Jase McClellan, caught a pair of TD passes.

    Alabama outgained the Aggies 559-136 in total yards.

    “It is what it is, and I’ve seen people in the SEC come here and get treated exactly the same way,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “We’re not built that way. We’re a long ways from being able to play that game physically and match up. Maybe we’ll never be able to.”

    Alabama spent the offseason stewing over a loss to Georgia in the national championship game and came in as the favorite to win the national title, according to FanDuel sportsbook. Then Alabama did pretty much what it wanted to against a mismatched opponent. The Tide put some new playmakers on display after losing receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie III and tailback Brian Robinson Jr.

    Utah State, which finished last season ranked, had won two straight games against Power 5 teams and started off strong with a 23-yard gain. Then the offense stalled and the defense was overwhelmed by Young & Co. The Aggies couldn't turn a late blocked punt into points.

    No. 19 Arkansas 31, No. 23 Cincinnati 24

    Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson felt disrespected when he wasn't named to any preseason all-Southeastern Conference team.

    Jefferson's opening week performance could earn more attention for the player who had the SEC's second-best touchdown-to-interception ratio last year and was the leading returning rusher at the position in the conference.

    Jefferson threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 62 yards and a score to lead No. 19 Arkansas to a 31-24 win over No. 23 Cincinnati on Saturday.

    “Seems to me like when the game gets a little tighter, a little closer, when he’s really got to take over the game, he’s got the knack to do it,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “Seemed to me like most every time we need him to win the game, he makes some kind of play.

    Jefferson established himself as escape-artist of sorts last year, his 240-pound frame proving difficult to take down. Little changed there as most of his yards on the ground came after contact against Cincinnati. Through the air, he built a rapport with tight end Trey Knox who caught two of the three touchdown tosses, including one that was quite literally a toss: a jump-pass from five yards to give Arkansas a 14-0 lead at halftime.

    Cincinnati’s Ben Bryant, a transfer from Eastern Michigan, ultimately threw for more yards passing (325) and just one fewer touchdown, but an interception at the Arkansas 20 turned into a Razorbacks score on the next possession.

    The pick was one of several mistakes the Bearcats made. Four of Cincinnati’s first-half drives ended in Arkansas territory, but the interception halted one and Ryan Coe missed two field goals, including one from 25 yards, as well.

    Cincinnati had pulled within a touchdown on Bryant’s throw to Nick Mardner halfway through the third quarter and then recovered a Jefferson fumble inside his own 10 on the ensuing play. The Bearcats started three yards from the end zone, but four penalties later, including two for delay of game, they managed just a 25-yard field goal.

    Arkansas followed with a 32-yard field three minutes later and Jefferson threw his third touchdown on the possession that followed, a 32-yarder to Knox, to rebuild the lead to 14 points.

    Knox, a senior, was a starting wide receiver his freshman year and had 28 catches and three touchdowns but had just seven catches his sophomore season in Pittman’s debut 2020 season. He moved to tight end and caught 20 balls as a junior last season. Saturday, he had six catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

    “He’s worked hard at tight end and he believes he’s a tight end. He is. He’s a good one,” Pittman said. “Coming off the field on his second TD and went down their side and I said, ‘You happy you moved to tight end?’ Those are special moments because you never know if it’s going to work out.”

    The game was Arkansas’ first Top 25 matchup at home since 2016.

    The Razorbacks were 9-4 last season, their best finish since 2011.

    “When Cincinnati was put on the schedule I was saying ‘why?’ to be honest with you,” Pittman said. “Am I tickled to death that we’re 1-0 and we beat Cincinnati? Yes. I don’t want to play them. We’ve already played them once. That’s plenty.”

    Most of Arkansas’ big plays not involving Knox and Jefferson came from players picked up via the transfer portal. Jordan Domineck (Georgia Tech) and Drew Sanders (Alabama) had sacks. Dwight McGlothern (LSU) had Arkansas’ interception. Matt Landers (Toledo) started and caught three passes for 43 yards while Haselwood (Oklahoma) had three grabs for 42 yards and the score.

    Cincinnati’s rally came in large part because of the passing game. Bryant took advantage of Arkansas losing starting nickel Myles Slusher and starting safety Jalen Catalon late in the second quarter and early in the second half.

    The Bearcats’ first touchdown came immediately after Catalon, a preseason first-team All-SEC selection and former freshman All-American, left the game.

    Pittman said Slusher should be OK going forward, but he was less sure about Catalon. He did not disclose either injury.

    Arkansas’ offense, with Jefferson at quarterback, is SEC worthy. The defense struggled in the second half after losing two starters from the secondary.

    Cincinnati had the talent to win the game, but its mistakes were too plentiful against a quality opponent.

    No. 6 Texas A&M 31, Sam Houston 0

    Haynes King threw for a career-high 364 yards and three long touchdowns to lead Texas A&M past Sam Houston in a game that included an almost three-hour weather delay.

    King threw touchdown passes of 66, 63 and 43 yards. He also threw two interceptions in an inconsistent performance in his return after breaking his leg in the second game last season.

    Ainias Smith had six receptions for a career-high 164 yards with two touchdowns,

    The Bearkats, who won the FCS national title in 2020, are playing their last season in the FCS as they transition to FBS next year.

    No. 8 Michigan 51, Colorado State 7

    Cade McNamara had a lackluster performance that was made moot by a dominant defense as Michigan routed Colorado State.

    The Big Ten championship-winning quarterback started the opener and is scheduled to sit at the beginning of the Hawaii game next week when J.J. McCarthy gets a shot to take the first snap.

    McNamara started 1 of 5 and finished 9 of 18 for 136 yards, a total boosted by a short pass he threw that Roman Wilson turned into a 61-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. McCarthy made the most of his limited opportunity to play, running for a 20-yard score and going 4 of 4 for 30 yards through the air.

    No. 9 Oklahoma 45, UTEP 13

    Dillon Gabriel passed for two touchdowns and ran for another and Oklahoma rolled past UTEP for Brent Venables’ first career victory as a head coach.

    Venables was a full-time assistant for the previous 26 years in stints at Kansas State, Oklahoma and Clemson. He took over after Lincoln Riley left to take the Southern California job.

    Gabriel, a transfer from Central Florida, connected on 15 of 23 passes for 233 yards. Eric Gray rushed for 102 yards, Brayden Willis caught two touchdown passes and Marcus Major rushed for two scores for the Sooners.

    No. 10 Baylor 69, Albany 10

    Blake Shapen completed 17 of 20 passes for 214 yards with two long touchdowns and had a nifty dive into the end zone for another score on the final play of the first half as Baylor routed FCS team Albany.

    Gavin Holmes, the sixth-year Bears wideout who missed all of last season because of a foot injury, returned a punt 72 yards for a score. Monaray Baldwin had two touchdowns, on a 47-yard catch for Baylor’s first score before adding a 50-yard reverse run after halftime.

    The reigning Big 12 champion Bears have a six-game winning streak, matching fourth-ranked Clemson for the longest active among FBS teams. The Tigers open their season Monday night against Georgia Tech.

    No. 13 N.C. State 21, East Carolina 20

    North Carolina State beat East Carolina after Pirates kicker Owen Daffer missed an extra point with 2:58 left and a 41-yard field goal with five seconds to go.

    The Pirates were in position to hand the Wolfpack a surprising loss in the opener when they got the ball back late down 21-20, not to mention offer Daffer a shot at redemption after he pulled the tying extra point wide left after Rahjai Harris’ short touchdown run.

    Holton Ahlers’ keeper set Daffer up with a makeable field goal in the final seconds, but he missed this one wide right to stun a once-rowdy crowd and leave many fans putting their hands on their heads in disbelief.

    No. 14 Southern California 66, Rice 14

    Caleb Williams passed for 249 yards, rushed for 68 more and hit Jordan Addison for two touchdowns, and coach Lincoln Riley’s tenure at Southern California got off to a roaring start against Rice.

    Calen Bullock, Shane Lee and Ralen Goforth returned three of USC’s four interceptions for touchdowns. The Trojans scored more points in Riley’s debut than they did in any game under Clay Helton, who was fired last season before a powerhouse program sank to its worst record in 30 years.

    With Williams going 19 for 22 while leading six consecutive scoring drives to open the game, USC had its highest-scoring performance since 2008, when the program still reigned near the top of college football under Pete Carroll.

    Riley and Williams left Oklahoma during the offseason and reunited in Los Angeles to rebuild the Trojans, who are hoping for a swift return to regular national title contention.

    No. 16 Miami 70, Bethune-Cookman 13

    Henry Parrish rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns, Tyler Van Dyke passed for two more scores and Miami beat Bethune-Cookman 70-13 in Mario Cristobal’s debut as coach of the Hurricanes.

    Miami finished with seven rushing touchdowns. Thaddeus Franklin rushed for two scores, while Devon Perry and Terrell Walden II also ran for touchdowns for the Hurricanes.

    Gilbert Frierson had an interception return for a score, while Xavier Restrepo and Michael Redding III caught the TD passes from Van Dyke — who completed 13 of 16 passes for 193 yards. Jake Garcia completed all eight of his passes for the Hurricanes.

    No. 18 Wisconsin 38, Illinois State 0

    Braelon Allen had a 96-yard touchdown scamper for the longest run from scrimmage in Wisconsin history and John Torchio had a school-record 100-yard interception return as the Badgers opened the season with a rout of Il-linois State.

    Wisconsin’s longest run from scrimmage before Allen’s was James White’s 93-yard burst in a 51-3 triumph over Indiana in 2013. Torchio broke the record previously held by Joe Ferguson, who scored on a 99-yard interception return in a 59-10 victory over Utah State in 2017.

    Allen ended up with 148 yards and two touch-downs — including a 1-yard score on fourth-and-goal in the third quarter — on 14 carries.

    No. 20 Kentucky 37, Miami (Ohio) 13

    Barion Brown returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, Keidron Smith’s fumble return less than a minute later set up an-other score and Kentucky pulled away to beat Miami (Ohio).

    Mark Stoops’ 60th victory tied him with Paul “Bear” Bryant as the Wildcats’ winningest coach in 10 seasons with the program. But Kentucky needed those game-changing plays to make it happen after leading only 13-10 at halftime be-hind several missed opportunities deep in Miami territory.

    The Wildcats quickly snatched momentum after the break as Brown dashed left, found a seam and turned the corner down the sideline for the big score just 13 seconds in.

    No. 21 Mississippi 29, Troy 10

    Southern California transfer Jaxson Dart directed three consecutive touchdown drives in the first half to help Mississippi beat Troy.

    Ole Miss built a 21-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes on drives of 82, 68 and 83 yards and was never seriously threatened. Dart was 18 of 27 for 154 yards, with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Malik Heath to cap the opening series of the second half.

    Transfer Zach Evans rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries as Ole Miss finished with 433 yards of total offense.

    Jon Sumrall lost in coaching debut for Troy.

    No. 24 Houston 37, UTSA 35 (3OT)

    Houston quarterback Clayton Tune leaped over a defender to score on a 13-yard run and the 24th-ranked Cougars escaped with victory over UTSA.

    Per NCAA rules for a third overtime, Tune’s winning run was a 2-point conversion. The Road-runners were unable to match the score as their final pass floated out of bounds.

    Houston rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half at the Alamodome to snap UTSA’s 10-game home winning streak.

    After Tune scored on a 1-yard run and threw for the 2-point conversion in the second over-time, Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris matched the output by running in the conver-sion after tossing a touchdown pass to De’Corian Clark.

    Houston dominated the final quarter, maintain-ing possession for 10 minutes, 30 seconds in driving 77 yards on 18 plays. The drive ended with Bubba Baxa kicking a 35-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining for a 24-21 lead.

    UTSA matched the feat in far less time, driving 55 yards in 23 seconds for a 37-yard field goal by Jared Sackett to force overtime.

    Baxa and Sackett kicked matching field goals in the first overtime.

    Harris completed 28 of 43 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 63 yards and a score.

    Tune was 22 of 32 for 206 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 51 yards and a TD.

    No. 25 BYU 50, South Florida 21

    BYU had to wait out a 2 1/2-hour weather de-lay to get its season started, then took just 11 seconds to score its first touchdown in the blow-out victory over South Florida.

    Wide receiver Puka Nucua scored on a 75-yard inside run on the first play from scrimmage of the game and added a second rushing touch-down. Christopher Brooks rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown as BYU dominated the line of scrimmage and ran the ball for 314 yards.

    Jaren Hall was efficient, completing 25 of 32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns.

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