Alabama remains undefeated to win Iron Bowl
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jalen Hurts rebounded from two early interceptions to pass for 286 yards and Alabama’s defense did the rest against Auburn in a 30-12 win Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 Southeastern Conference, No. 1 CFP) led 13-9 at halftime, dominating the stat sheet but only taking over the scoreboard in the second half. The defense pushed its string of quarters without allowing a touchdown to 14-plus.
Auburn (8-4, 5-3, No. 15) failed to muster much offense for the second straight SEC game, this time playing without injured quarterback Sean White.
Hurts displayed the same poise in overcoming two first-half interceptions that have helped him lead the Tide into the SEC championship game. He completed 27 of 36 mostly short and mid-range passes and threw for two touchdowns. Alabama has won three straight Iron Bowls for the first time since 1990-92.
Hurts also ran for 37 yards and a touchdown, leading two straight touchdown drives in the third quarter to all but put the game away after a mistake-filled first half.
NO. 4 CLEMSON 56,
SOUTH CAROLINA 7
CLEMSON, S.C. — Deshaun Watson tied his career high with six touchdown passes, three to Mike Williams, and No. 4 Clemson took another, strong step to the College Football Playoff with an easy victory over rival South Carolina on Saturday night.
If the Tigers (11-1, No. 4 CFP) don’t stumble against Virginia Tech next week in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, they’ll be off to college football’s final four for a second straight season.
The Gamecocks (6-6) were little more than speed bump on that road that Clemson got past quickly, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the opening quarter and cruising to a third straight win in the Palmetto State’s biggest sporting event.
Watson finished with 347 yards and matched the six TDs he threw in his first college start against North Carolina in 2014. He also likely crept a bit closer in the Heisman Trophy race to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, whose team lost for a second straight week.
Watson and the Tigers also wiped out memories of their last Death Valley game, a stunning, 43-42 loss to underdog Pitt — Clemson’s first home loss in more than three years.
Watson and Williams got things going with a 34-yard TD catch. Then Williams’ dragged South Carolina’s Jamarcus King on his for several yards during a 19-yard scoring catch. By the time Jordan Leggett scored on a wide open 11-yard grab, Clemson was in front to stay and Gamecocks defenders were yelling at each other.
Wayne Gallman rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown. Williams caught six passes for 100 yards.
NO. 5 WISCONSIN 31,
MADISON, Wis. — Corey Clement ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns, a big-play defense pitched a second-half shutout, and Wisconsin beat Minnesota for its 13th straight win in the annual border rivalry.
The Badgers triumphantly lifted Paul Bunyan’s Axe again, the trophy that goes to the victor in the most-played rivalry in major college football.
Wisconsin (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten, No. 6 CFP) turned in a stalwart defensive effort in the second half after getting outplayed in the first and falling behind by 10 points at halftime.
The comeback served as an exclamation point for an already momentous weekend. Wisconsin had wrapped up the Big Ten West and a spit in the league title game after Nebraska lost to Iowa on Friday night.
Mitch Leidner threw four interceptions in the second half for Minnesota (8-4, 5-4).
NO. 11 LOUISVILLE 38
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Austin MacGinnis made a 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to give Kentucky the upset victory over Louisville and Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson.
Louisville (9-3, CFP No. 11) appeared headed for a late go-ahead score when Jackson’s fumble at Kentucky’s 10 was recovered by the Wildcats’ Courtney Love with 1:45 left. Stephen Johnson led Kentucky (7-5) into position for MacGinnis’ winning kick.
Jackson’s desperation heave from deep in Louisville territory was intercepted by Mike Edwards, his second of the game. The Wildcats ended a five-game losing streak in the series.
Jackson likely could have wrapped up the Heisman with his record-setting day, but a second consecutive loss might impact the race. The sophomore struck a Heisman pose after a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. He had his school-record eighth 100-yard rushing game and broke the Louisville mark for rushing yards. He scored four times to break the Atlantic Coast Conference single-season record with 51.
NO. 12 SOUTHERN
NOTRE DAME 27
LOS ANGELES — Adoree Jackson returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns and also caught a scoring pass to help lift Southern California to its eighth consecutive victory, a romp ovre Notre Dame on in the 88th edition of their famed intersectional rivalry.
Jackson, the Trojans’ do-everything cornerback, put on a dazzling athletic display in perhaps his final home game while USC (9-3, No. 12 CFP) persevered through rain at the Coliseum to claim the Jeweled Shillelagh for the 11th time in 15 years.
Sam Darnold passed for 205 yards and two TDs, and Ronald Jones II rushed for 134 yards and an early score to keep the surging Trojans in line for a New Year’s Day bowl berth. Josh Adams ran for 180 yards and DeShone Kizer passed for 220 yards and two scores for the Fighting Irish (4-8).
NO. 24 TENNESSEE 35
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kyle Shurmur threw for a career-high 416 yards, and the Vanderbilt Commodores scored the final 21 points in an upset of No. 24 Tennessee Saturday night that erased any doubts they belong in a bowl.
The Commodores (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) earned a bowl berth for the first time since 2013 thanks to their Academic Progress Rate (APR) score before kickoff. Then they went out and turned in the best offensive performance yet in picking up their sixth win this year and improving coach Derek Mason’s best record in his third season.
Vanderbilt scored its most points against an SEC opponent since scoring 49 against Mississippi State on Sept. 25, 1971. The Commodores outgained Tennessee 608-516 in beating the Vols for the third time in five seasons.
Tennessee (8-4, 4-4) led 31-24 at halftime after taking a 21-7 lead to open the game. Then the Commodores held the Vols to a field goal in the second half with Aaron Medley banging a 37-yard field goal off the right upright with 6:46 left.
Khari Blasingame scored on a 12-yard TD run late in the third quarter, then Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham hit and stripped Joshua Dobbs of the ball at the end of the third quarter, forcing Tennessee’s second turnover of the game. That set up a 3-yard TD run by Darrius Sims with 12:15 left that gave Vanderbilt its first lead of the game at 38-34.
NAVY 75, SMU 31
DALLAS — Will Worth has become a dual threat in Navy’s triple-option offense.
While the Midshipmen still stay mainly on the ground, Worth accounted for four touchdowns while becoming the first Navy quarterback with more than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing in three consecutive games in a victory at SMU on Saturday.
“That’s been Will. He’s been solid this whole year,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “I’m running out of things to say about the kid. Week after week after week he continues to raise up to the challenge and perform well.”
Worth ran 15 times for 107 yards and three touchdowns, increasing his FBS-leading total to 25 rushing scores while playing only three quarters. The senior completed 5 of 7 passes for 104 yards and the go-ahead TD just before halftime.
The Midshipmen (9-2, 7-1, No. 25 CFP), who had already clinched the American Athletic Conference West Division title, will host Temple (9-3, 7-1) in the conference championship game next Saturday.
“This is exactly where we wanted to be. The entire offseason, this is what we worked for,” Worth said. “We feel great, just got to keep things rolling right now.”
SMU (5-7, 3-5) missed a chance to become bowl eligible in its regular-season finale amid rumors coach Chad Morris is a candidate to become Baylor’s new coach. The Mustangs are 7-17 in two seasons under Morris, who took over after a 1-11 season.