What a tough day to be a highly ranked team.
All sorts of ambitions came crashing down in a handful of Top 25 upsets on Saturday, none more costly than No. 3 Florida’s loss to Georgia.
The 12th-ranked Bulldogs stuffed the Gators, handing Florida its first loss of the season and damaging its chances of making the SEC title game, let alone the BCS title game.
Southern California’s national title hopes took another hit when it was upset in the desert. New Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez got a signature win of the sort that mostly eluded him at Michigan, bumping off the Trojans 39-36 thanks to a huge day by quarterback Matt Scott.
Two other unbeaten fell, too — both to teams from the Mid-American conference. No. 18 Rutgers was beaten at home by Kent State and No. 23 Ohio lost to archrival Miami of Ohio across the state in Oxford. Those games burst the bubble on promising seasons for programs looking for a spot in the BCS chase.
Florida, which won the BCS championship game following the 2006 and 2008 seasons, let a golden opportunity slip through its fingers — along with the football a couple of times.
Jarvis Jones knocked the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands near the goal line, and teammate Sanders Commings recovered in the end zone with 2:05 left, sealing consecutive wins in the border grudge match for Georgia for the first time since 1989.
No. 1 ALABAMA 38,
No. 13 MISSISSIPPI STATE 7
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — AJ McCarron passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns and Alabama reached the end zone on its first three possessions.
The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0) quickly turned the meeting of unbeaten Southeastern Conference West teams into a mismatch, rolling toward a national title game rematch at No. 6 LSU. The Bulldogs (7-1, 3-1) came in averaging 36.7 points a game but didn’t score until the final minutes.
They had been leading the nation in turnover margin but lost two fumbles and an interception.
McCarron completed 16 of 23 passes before sitting out the fourth quarter. He headed to the locker room briefly early in the quarter briefly but returned to the sideline.
The Tide has now won the past five meetings and this one turned into more of the same, despite considerably more hype.
No. 2 OREGON 70, COLORADO 14
EUGENE, Ore. — Kenjon Barner rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 2 Oregon easily took care of Colorado in advance of next weekend’s Pac-12 showdown with Southern California.
De’Anthony Thomas rushed for another score and added a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown before most of the Ducks’ offensive starters were pulled midway through the second quarter. Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota passed for 136 yards and two TDs.
The Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) built a 56-0 lead by halftime and their 70 points were the most they’d ever scored against a conference opponent. It was Oregon’s 11th straight overall victory dating to a 38-35 loss at home to USC last season.
Christian Powell rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns for the Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4), who lost their fourth straight.
No. 12 GEORGIA 17, No. 3 FLORIDA 9
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The 12th-ranked Bulldogs stopped the No. 3 Gators from every angle, forcing six turnovers to put themselves on the cusp of the Southeastern Conference title game.
The victory gave Georgia consecutive wins in the series for the first time since 1989.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) did little on offense until Aaron Murray found Malcolm Mitchell for a 45-yard touchdown with 7:11 remaining that put them ahead 17-9.
Georgia sealed its fifth victory in the last 23 games in the rivalry with — what else? — a defensive play. Jarvis Jones knocked the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands near the goal line, and teammate Sanders Commings recovered in the end zone with 2:05 left.
Jones had another huge game against Florida (7-1, 6-1), and the Bulldogs responded as well as possible to safety Shawn Williams’ criticism of “playing too soft” earlier in the week.
No. 4 KANSAS STATE 55,
No. 15 TEXAS TECH 24
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Collin Klein accounted for four touchdowns, and Arthur Brown returned an interception 37 yards for another score.
Klein was 19 of 26 for 233 yards and two touchdowns, and had 83 yards and two more scores on the ground — bolstering his credentials for the Heisman Trophy. Most of the offense came in the second half as the Wildcats (5-0 Big 12) blew open a 13-10 game to improve to 8-0 for the first time since 1999.
John Hubert added 64 yards and two rushing TDs, and Angelo Pease also scored for Kansas State.
Seth Doege threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns for the Red Raiders (6-2, 3-2), but also had a costly interception.
No. 5 NOTRE DAME 30,
No. 8 OKLAHOMA 13
NORMAN, Okla. — Everett Golson threw for 177 yards and plunged in for the decisive 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, Manti Te’o bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy with a late interception and Notre Dame remain undefeated.
Te’o, the standout linebacker who has a penchant for causing turnovers, dove when Landry Jones’ pass ricocheted off Jalen Saunders and got his gloved hands under it. Kyle Brindza tacked on his third field goal soon after, and Theo Riddick added a late touchdown run as the Fighting Irish (8-0) put it away with 20 fourth-quarter points.
Jones threw for 356 yards for the Sooners (5-2), who were still clinging to hope they could get back in the national title race before the loss. Saunders caught 15 passes for 181 yards.
NO. 7 OREGON STATE 17
SEATTLE — Bishop Sankey ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns, Travis Coons kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:20 left and Washington took advantage of four interceptions from Oregon State’s Sean Mannion.
Oregon State (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) was trying for the first 7-0 start in school history. Instead it became the second AP top-10 team to be upset by the Huskies at home this season. Washington knocked off then-No. 8 Stanford 17-13 in late September.
Mannion, returning from minor knee surgery, threw interceptions on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter after Oregon State had rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit to pull even with a dominating third quarter. The last of Mannion’s four picks was snagged by Marcus Peters and two plays later Sankey scored from the 1 to give Washington (4-4, 2-3) a 17-10 lead.
No. 9 OHIO STATE 35,
PENN STATE 23
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Braxton Miller rushed for 134 yards and accounted for three touchdowns a week after getting knocked out of a game, leading undefeated Ohio State to the road win.
Ryan Shazier returned an interception 17 yards for a score early in the third quarter that gave the Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0) the lead for good, and the Nittany Lions (5-3, 3-1) and coach Bill O’Brien had their five-game winning streak snapped in a matchup of the Big Ten’s bowl-banned perennial powers.
No. 10 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 36
TUCSON, Ariz. — Matt Scott had 469 total yards and accounted for four touchdowns, helping Arizona overcome a huge day by Southern California’s Marqise Lee.
Lee caught 16 passes for a Pac-12-record 345 yards and two touchdowns to help USC (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) build a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter.
But Scott led Arizona (5-3, 2-1) back, throwing for 369 yards and three touchdowns, including a 7-yarder to David Richards that put the Wildcats up 39-28 with just over 5 minutes left.
The Trojans answered quickly with Silas Redd’s second rushing touchdown, from 10 yards, but remain stuck on 799 wins as a program after Matt Barkley’s last-ditch pass into the end zone was swatted down.
Scott finished 27-for-50 passing and ran for 100 yards before missing Arizona’s final possession with an undisclosed injury.
Barkley threw for 493 yards and three touchdowns on 31-of-49 passing, but threw two interceptions.
No. 11 FLORIDA STATE 48, DUKE 7
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — EJ Manuel threw two touchdown passes and Devonta Freeman ran for two more scores to lead Florida State to the rout.
Florida State’s win coupled with North Carolina State’s loss to North Carolina puts the Seminoles back in control of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division while Duke (6-3, 3-2) dropped out of the undisputed lead in the league’s muddled Coastal Division.
Florida State (8-1, 5-1) rolled up 560 yards in offense while limiting Duke to 232.
Tyler Hunter returned a punt 75 yards for a score and Dustin Hopkins kicked a career-best 56-yard field goal to help the Seminoles offset four fumbles.
No. 17 SOUTH CAROLINA 38,
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Connor Shaw threw three touchdowns and ran for another score, and No. 17 South Carolina overcame the loss of tailback Marcus Lattimore.
Tyler Bray had driven the Vols to South Carolina’s 19 with 1:08 left when he was hit from behind by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The ball popped loose and linebacker Shaq Wilson recovered.
KENT STATE 35,
No. 18 RUTGERS 23
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Defensive end Mark Fackler returned his second interception 25 yards for a touchdown, and Kent State forced five other turnovers in its biggest win since it started playing football in 1920.
The Golden Flashes (7-1) had been 0-22 against ranked teams, but they ended the best start for Rutgers (7-1) since the Scarlet Knights were 9-0 in 2006.
Kent State intercepted Gary Nova six times and recovered a fumble to give the Mid-American Conference its second straight win over an undefeated Big East team. Toledo knocked off Cincinnati last week.
NO. 19 STANFORD 24,
WASHINGTON STATE 17
STANFORD, Calif. — Ed Reynolds returned an interception for a touchdown and Stanford sacked Jeff Tuel 10 times to overcome a sloppy offensive effort.
Reynolds stepped in front of Tuel’s pass for the safety’s fourth interception — and second returned for a score — this season early in the fourth quarter. He ran 25 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Cardinal a two-touchdown lead and highlight another dominant defense effort that held the Cougars (2-6, 0-5 Pac-12) to minus-16 yards rushing.
NEBRASKA 23, No. 20 MICHIGAN 9
LINCOLN, Neb. — Ameer Abdullah ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and Nebraska grabbed control of the Big Ten Legends Division.
Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson left late in the first half with a right elbow injury. Robinson, who spent the second half on the sideline in an overcoat, watched as freshman backup Russell Bellomy threw three interceptions.
The Huskers (6-2, 3-1) moved into a first-place tie with Michigan in the Legends but own the tiebreaker.
No. 21 BOISE STATE 45,
LARAMIE, Wyo. — D.J. Harper rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 21 Boise State to its seventh straight win.
Harper scored on runs of 8 and 9 yards, and Joe Southwick completed 20 of 28 passes for 198 yards and one interception for the Broncos (7-1, 4-0 Mountain West). Boise State was an efficient 12 of 14 on third-down conversions and scored on all five its red zone opportunities.
Boise State’s defense held the Cowboys below their 25.6 scoring average, recorded four sacks and limited Wyoming to 106 yards below its average.
Wyoming (1-7, 0-4) was without coach Dave Christensen, who was fined $50,000 and suspended by the school for the week over his conduct after a 28-27 loss to Air Force on Oct. 13.
NO. 22 TEXAS A&M 63, AUBURN 21
AUBURN, Ala. — Johnny Manziel ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more — all in a little more than a half — to lead Texas A&M to the easy victory against struggling Auburn.
On eight possessions led by Manziel, Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) scored seven touchdowns. The only non-scoring drive run by the freshman nicknamed “Johnny Football” ended with a missed 48-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet on the final play of the first half.
Manziel completed 16 of 23 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns and had nine carries for 90 yards and three scores.
Auburn (1-7, 0-6), which has lost five straight, is off to its worst start since going 1-7 in 1952.
MIAMI (OHIO) 23, No. 23 OHIO 20
OXFORD, Ohio — Ohio gambled by going for one more play instead of a tying field goal, and Tyler Tettleton was sacked as time ran out.
The Bobcats (7-1, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) went for it all in their first game as a ranked team since 1968, when they finished the season at No. 20. They had a little history on their side — Ohio had won the last six games in one of the MAC’s edgiest rivalries.
Instead, the rivalry got another notable ending.
Kaleb Patterson kicked a 31-yard field goal with 1:24 left, giving Miami (4-4, 3-1) the lead with its first fourth-quarter points in the last three games. It was up to one of the nation’s worst defenses to hold on.
No. 24 LOUISIANA TECH 28,
NEW MEXICO STATE 14
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Colby Cameron led a late-surging Louisiana Tech offense, throwing for 292 yards and running for a score.
It was Louisiana Tech’s first win as a ranked team and provided a chance to remain in the Top 25 for consecutive weeks for the first time in school history.
Three turnovers prevented New Mexico State from taking advantage of three Louisiana Tech missed field goals and a flat running game that left the Bulldogs leading only 7-0 after the first half. It was the fewest points scored in a half this season by Louisiana Tech.
Ray Holley had 133 yards rushing, including a career-long 83-yard touchdown, for Louisiana Tech (7-1, 2-0 WAC), which failed to win a game as a ranked team in two previous tries.
New Mexico State (1-7, 0-4) has lost seven in a row.