One of the SEC’s Big 12 defectors grabbed the national spotlight last year. The other one is making a splash this year. Hello, Missouri!
The 25th-ranked Tigers continued their improbable unbeaten run with a resounding 41-26 victory at No. 7 Georgia, throwing the SEC East race wide open. Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia — they’re all in it.
Mizzou (6-0, 2-0) not only moved to the front of the SEC East a year after Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M made headlines in the West, but the Tigers likely knocked the banged-up Bulldogs out of any national title hopes.
The Tigers, 5-7 in 2012, scored their first road win over a top-10 team in 32 years. However, victory came at a steep cost. Star senior quarterback James Franklin separated a shoulder late in the game and will miss Mizzou’s next two grueling tests against No. 17 Florida and No. 14 South Carolina.
Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk (3 of 3 for 23 yards Saturday) will have to hold down the fort.
Rocky Mountain high: Utah has had a rough go since joining the Pac-12 three years ago, but the Utes celebrated their finest moment with a 27-21 upset of No. 5 Stanford at Salt Lake City. Utah (4-2, 1-2) pulled it off with a staunch defensive effort, a solid game from QB Travis Wilson and an extraordinary effort from RB Bubba Poole, who rushed for 111 yards and caught seven passes for 75 yards.
Stanford (5-1, 3-1) saw its 13-game winning streak snapped; however, the Pac-12 is so powerful that a one-loss team is still very much alive in the national title picture.
Duck call: Marcus Mariota thrust himself into the lead role for the Heisman Trophy by passing for 366 yards and running for 88 more in No. 2 Oregon’s 45-24 thumping of No. 16 Washington in Seattle. FYI: Sophomore WR Bralon Addison, who caught eight balls for 157 yards, is a former blue-chip recruit from Fort Bend Hightower who chose the Ducks over Texas A&M.
Red River revival: Texas was the hungrier, more physical and much-better coached team in the 36-20 pummeling of No. 12 Oklahoma. Mack Brown’s game plan to go smash-mouth and sell out to stop the Sooners’ run was perfect, while Bob Stoops’ overconfident team seemed lackadaisical, poorly prepared and had no Plan B. And how is it Stoops didn’t use Blake Bell as a runner when the game was in doubt? Bell was a terrible passer.
Tough Tigers: Like Texas, No. 10 LSU went old school and beat a rival, No. 17 Florida, 17-6 by pounding the ball down its throat. Not easy against the Gators’ great defense, but Tigers RB Jeremy Hill was a beast with 19 carries for 121 yards.
Easy street ends: No matter how explosive, Baylor wasn’t going to rack up 70 points and 700 yards every week. The No. 15 Bears faced adversity for the first time and passed their first road test with a hard-earned 35-25 win over Kansas State. Baylor was held to 446 yards and needed two Central Texans to score fourth-quarter TDs to win. Temple’s Tevin Reese had a 53-yard TD catch (after a 93-yarder early) and Stony Point’s Glasco Martin sealed it with a 21-yard TD run.
“Everything had been in our favor, four games at home, catching everyone at a good time,” coach Art Briles told the media. “We knew it couldn’t continue.”
Red Raider alert: Freshman Davis Webb threw for 415 yards in his first start replacing injured Baker Mayfield of Lake Travis, but the biggest takeaway from No. 25 Texas Tech’s 42-35 win over Iowa State was the ground game. Air Raiders rushed for 251 yards. Hendrickson’s Kenny Williams had 80 of those, with a touchdown. Tech should have won by more, but it was minus-three in turnovers and allowed a kick-return TD.
ACC showdown: After a sluggish start, No. 3 Clemson shook off Boston College 24-14 to set up a mega-match with No. 6 Florida State next Saturday night in Death Valley.
Tip of the cap: Kudos to coach Bill O’Brien, who continues to work wonders at Penn State in recovering from the school scandal. The Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-1) nipped No. 18 Michigan 43-40 in four overtimes before 107,884 and have a budding star in freshman QB Christian Hackenberg.
Extra points …
- Losses by Oklahoma, Stanford and Michigan drop the number of unbeatens to 14 at the midway point of the season.
- There was a brief Jadeveon Clowney sighting in South Carolina’s 52-7 destruction of Arkansas. The overhyped defensive end had one tackle.