Saturday's Top 25 College Football Capsules
Auburn wins another wild one; Tide rolls
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Another wild ending and another Auburn victory.
The Tigers might not be as good as they were last season, but they still have a knack for pulling out the close games.
Auburn backup safety Ryan Smith stopped Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf just shy of the goal line on the final play to preserve the Tigers’ 41-34 win over the 16th-ranked Bulldogs.
A week after needing two touchdowns in the final 2:09 to beat Utah State, defending national champion Auburn extended its winning streak to 17 games.
Behind Cam Newton, the Tigers were never out of a game last year and were at their best when it was close. They came from 24-0 down to beat Alabama and won the BCS title game against Oregon on a last-second field goal.
The Tigers might not be able to keep up this kind of winning for another season, especially with a defense that allowed 531 yards to Mississippi State. Auburn still needs to face SEC West rivals LSU, Arkansas and Alabama.
But the dramatic victory against Mississippi State might get the Tigers back in the rankings.
The third-ranked Crimson Tide easily had no such problems, easily dispatching No. 23 Penn State 27-11 in front of 107,846 at Beaver Stadium.
The other crazy game in the SEC involved South Carolina and Georgia. The Gamecocks sent Bulldogs coach Mark Richt to his first 0-2 start with a 45-42 victory.
No. 3 Alabama 27, No. 23 Penn State 11
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A.J. McCarron was poised and efficient in a rare trip into Big Ten country for No. 3 Alabama, throwing for 163 yards and a touchdown against No. 23 Penn State in a 27-11 victory on Saturday.
Alabama completed a sweep of the home-and-home series between the two storied programs with a methodical and smothering performance reminiscent of last year’s 24-3 win in Tuscaloosa.
Both teams came into the second week of the season with unsettled quarterback issues. At Alabama (2-0), those appear to be settled.
McCarron was 19 for 31 with no turnovers and a 5-yard touchdown pass through traffic to Michael Williams in the first quarter.
For Penn State (1-1), Nittany Lions fans might be wondering if either Robert Bolden or Matt McGloin are the answer. They combined to go 12 for 39 for 144 yards.
No. 6 Stanford 44, Duke 14
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Andrew Luck matched a career high by throwing four touchdown passes for Stanford.
Luck was 20 of 28 for 290 yards with touchdown passes of 60 and 3 yards to Coby Fleener, 10 yards to Chris Owusu and 3 yards to Zach Ertz.
Stanford (2-0) won its 10th straight game dating to last season and claimed a rare regular-season win on the East Coast while denying the Blue Devils (0-2) their first Top 25 win since 1994.
Lee Butler returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown to pull Duke to 10-7 late in the first half. Luck then led four straight touchdown drives to turn it into a rout before exiting one play into the fourth quarter.
No. 8 Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 0
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Russell Wilson threw three touchdowns and Wisconsin overcame a slow start.
With Oregon State’s defense stuffing running backs Montee Ball and James White early on, Wisconsin pounced on special teams mistakes and leaned on Wilson and the defense to do the rest.
In his second career start for the Badgers (2-0), Wilson was 17 of 21 for 189 yards and the three touchdowns, including a pair to tight end Jacob Pedersen. Wisconsin’s running game broke through after halftime, and Ball had a pair of touchdowns in the second half.
Sean Mannion most of the snaps at quarterback while the game still was in doubt but struggled to move the ball for Oregon State (0-2).
No. 11 Virginia Tech 17, East Carolina 10
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Josh Oglesby ran for the go-ahead 10-yard score with 7:30 left, helping Virginia Tech give coach Frank Beamer his 200th win at the school.
David Wilson ran for 138 yards to lead the Hokies (2-0) and quarterback Logan Thomas struggled in his second career start while the Hokies also committed 12 penalties and committed two turnovers, but their defense completely shut down the Pirates’ high-powered passing attack and held East Carolina (0-2) to 112 total yards.
That included minus-15 yards rushing, second fewest in ECU history.
Michael Dobson ran for a 2-yard touchdown for the Pirates. But in an unusual twist, it was their defense — among the nation’s worst last year — that kept East Carolina in it until late.
No. 13 Oregon 69, Nevada 20
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Darron Thomas matched a school record with six touchdown passes and No. 13 Oregon bounced back from its season-opening loss.
LaMichael James ran for 67 yards and a touchdown, caught a scoring pass from Thomas and returned a punt for a score to help the Ducks (1-1) to their 17th straight victory at Autzen Stadium.
True freshman running back De’Anthony Thomas caught two passes — both for touchdowns — for 93 yards.
Tyler Lantrip, a fifth-year senior making his first career start, completed 21 of 35 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown for Nevada, which was playing its season opener.
The loss snapped Nevada’s seven-game winning streak, which dated to last season when the Wolf Pack went 13-1 and were ranked No. 11 to end the season.
No. 15 Ohio State 27, Toledo 22
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Buckeyes’ 90 years of in-state domination almost ended on a single play.
John Simon pressured backup Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens, forcing an incompletion on fourth down with 48 seconds left.
The Rockets (1-1) drove from their own 28 and were 17 yards away from becoming the first in-state team to beat the Buckeyes since 1921. Ohio State is 43-0-1 against its closest neighbors since that long ago 7-6 setback to Oberlin.
Toledo led 15-7 after a quarter and was on top 22-21 before Carlos Hyde went 3 yards for the winning points late in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes (2-0) only had to run out the clock on their last possession, but freshman Rod Smith lost a fumble to give the Rockets a final shot.
Auburn 41, No. 16 Mississippi State 34
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Ryan Smith stopped the Bulldogs’ Chris Relf at the goal line on the final play.
Relf kept the ball on an option and headed for the end zone before Smith went low and brought the 240-pound quarterback down for the Tigers (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), who had gone from defending national champions to unranked underdog after needing a furious rally to beat Utah State.
This time they held on against the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1), who nearly pulled off a similar comeback to force overtime.
They marched 66-plus yards in the final 2:52 with only one pass. Before the game’s last play, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen raced to an official, signaling timeout, and managed to get three seconds put back on the clock.
Daren Bates, Jake Holland and Neiko Thorpe had led a swarm of defenders to stop Vick Ballard for a short loss on the previous play.
Mike Dyer rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, who extended major college football’s longest win streak to 17 games. This one will do more to convince poll voters that they can still be competitive in the SEC despite the loss of Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and a host of other starters.
No. 17 Michigan State 44, Florida Atlantic 0
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and Michigan State held Florida Atlantic to one first down.
B.J. Cunningham caught five passes for 73 yards, breaking a tie with Matt Trannon for Michigan State’s career lead in receptions. The Spartans (2-0) led 27-0 at halftime and ended up outgaining FAU 434-48.
The Owls (0-2) have scheduled a brutal opening month. They opened at Florida and play at Auburn in two weeks.
Cousins finished 16 of 21, and backup Andrew Maxwell also played quite a bit.
Michigan State has held an opponent to one first down only one other time — against Maryland in 1944.
No. 19 West Virginia 55, Norfolk State 12
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Geno Smith threw for 371 yards and four scores and the Mountaineers scored on their first seven possessions of the second half to erase a two-point halftime deficit to an FCS opponent.
West Virginia (2-0) needed just three plays to find the end zone after halftime, and after Smith hit Ivan McCartney with a 39-yard TD toss early in the fourth, the Mountaineers had scored five touchdowns in a 15-minute span.
Smith finished 20 of 34 passing after going 8 of 18 in the first half.
West Virginia’s defense woke up, too, limiting Norfolk State (1-1) to two first downs in the second half. The Mountaineers have yet to allow an offensive touchdown in their first two games.
No. 25 TCU 35, Air Force 19
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — TCU brushed off the Baylor blues and routed Air Force for its 18th straight win in the Mountain West Conference.
The Horned Frogs (1-1) were efficient in bouncing back from their stunning 50-48 loss at Baylor last week that ended their BCS-best 25-game regular-season winning streak.
And they did it without their star running back and top tackler, as tailback Ed Wesley (shoulder) and linebacker Tanner Brock (foot) didn’t make the trip after aggravating existing injuries in the Frogs’ opener.
The Falcons (1-1) had their five-game winning streak snapped.
Wesley was replaced by Matthew Tucker, who scored on a 1-yard leap and a 3-yard run in the first half as TCU built a 21-0 lead.
Tucker finished with 95 yards on 16 carries, and Waymon James rushed 13 times for 55 yards and a TD.