NCAA Roundup: Gators thrash Gamecocks
Tight end Jordan Reed, #11, of the Florida Gators runs with the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Gainesville, Fla. / Chris Trotman/Getty Images
No. 3 Florida lived up to its surprising BCS ranking by thrashing a South Carolina team that appeared to be a contender in the SEC.
The Gamecocks gave LSU almost all it could handle in Death Valley last week, and figured to follow up with a good showing in The Swamp.
Instead, Loucheiz Purifoy knocked the ball out of South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw's hands on the first play, and Florida punched it in to start a 44-11 rout in Gainesville.
Jeff Driskel threw four touchdown passes three of them after turnovers and the Gators matched their win total from last season.
Florida avenged consecutive losses to the Gamecocks, including one a couple of years ago that ended with Steve Spurrier and his players celebrating a division title on the Gators' home field.
Florida managed just 29 yards and two first downs in the first half against South Carolina (6-2, 4-2). But the Gators led 21-6 thanks to three turnovers and never looked back.
Florida's latest whatever-it-takes win kept coach Will Muschamp's team undefeated and put it on the cusp of the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division title. The Gators can clinch a spot in the SEC championship game by beating No. 13 Georgia next week.
The Gators finished 7-6 last season, barely avoiding the program's first losing season since 1979. The struggles had outsiders questioning whether Muschamp could get them back to national prominence.
Florida's record says he has, even if the stat sheet leaves doubts.
The Gamecocks actually outgained the Gators, 193-182, in a low-wattage affair everywhere but on the scoreboard. The Gators can use eye-popping result. Oregon is close behind the Gators in the BCS rankings and actually No. 2 in The Associated Press Top 25, which doesn't count in the BCS, and in the coaches' poll, which does.
The Ducks already posted a comprehensive victory at Arizona State on Thursday night, in which they reached 43 points in 20 minutes, then coasted to a 43-21 win over the Sun Devils.
No. 1 ALABAMA 44, TENNESSEE 13
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Alabama may have a championship-caliber offense to go with its best-in-the-nation defense.
A.J. McCarron tossed four touchdown passes and threw for a career-high 306 yards as the top-ranked Crimson Tide trounced Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Freshman receiver Amari Cooper caught seven passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman running back T.J. Yeldon ran for 129 yards and two scored on 15 carries.
Tyler Bray went 13 of 27 for 184 yards with two interceptions and no touchdown passes for Tennessee. The Volunteers had scored at least 31 points in each of their first six games, but they couldn't muster much offense against an Alabama team that entered leading the country in total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass efficiency defense.
Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) has lost 11 of its last 12 SEC games and is 0-14 against the Top 25 since Derek Dooley took over the program in 2010.
More than one-third of the 102,455 fans were cheering for Alabama (7-0, 4-0). By the midway point of the fourth quarter, many of the Tennessee fans already had headed to the parking lot.
No. 4 KANSAS STATE 55, NO. 17 WEST VIRGINIA 14
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Collin Klein ran for four touchdowns and threw three TD passes as Kansas State got little resistance from West Virginia in an easy victory that turned a matchup of Heisman Trophy contenders into a campaign ad for the Wildcats' quarterback.
Klein was 19 of 21 for a career-high 323 yards and added 41 yards rushing for the Wildcats (7-0, 4-0 Big 12), the only unbeaten team in the conference.
It was no surprise the Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2) were awful on defense it's been that way all season. For the second straight game, though, Geno Smith and the offense did nothing to keep it close.
Smith followed up a clunker at Texas Tech last week with an even worse game, throwing his first two interceptions of the season and finishing 21 of 32 for 143 yards. The senior has gone from Heisman front-runner to long shot in two weeks.
Kansas State scored on its first eight possessions, making it 52-7 with 2:25 left in the third quarter when Klein hit Tyler Lockett over the middle for a 20-yard score.
No. 5 NOTRE DAME 17, BRIGHAM YOUNG 14
SOUTH BEND, Ind. Theo Riddick pounded his way for a career-high 143 yards and Cierre Wood added 114 yards.
Riddick had runs of 55 and 27, the two longest rushes of his career, to pace Notre Dame (7-0), which is off to its best start in a decade and has a big game ahead against No. 10 Oklahoma next week. The Cougars (4-4) fell to 0-3 on the road as they surrendered a season-high 270 yards rushing.
Backup quarterback Tommy Rees, starting in place of injured Everett Golson, completed 6 of 7 passes in the first quarter for 86 yards and a touchdown, throwing four of those to Tyler Eifert. But Rees missed his next seven passes and the Irish attempted only three passes in the second half.
Rees' only completion of the second half was a 31-yard pass to TJ Jones with a little more than a minute left in the third quarter. Riddick ran the ball up the middle for 19 yards to the BYU 5. Three plays later, George Atkinson III scored on an end around, cutting inside BYU safety Joe Sampson for a touchdown and the final margin.
No. 6 LSU 24, No. 20 TEXAS A&M 19
COLLEGE STATION, Texas Jeremy Hill rushed for a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown, and the sixth-ranked Tigers rallied from an early deficit.
Michael Ford also had a touchdown run and Zach Mettenberger threw a TD pass to Kadron Boone for the Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), who scored 21 points off four Texas A&M turnovers.
A&M (5-2, 2-2) outplayed the Tigers for much of the first half and led 12-0, LSU's largest deficit since the national championship game against Alabama in January. But the Aggies gave away two costly turnovers just before halftime, and Boone's diving catch in the end zone with 11 seconds left put LSU up 14-12 at the break. Hill finished off A&M with a 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Johnny Manziel, A&M's dual-threat redshirt freshman quarterback, completed 29 of 56 passes for 276 yards, but threw three interceptions and was sacked three times. He was the SEC's leading rusher coming into the game and was held to 27 yards on 17 carries.
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