College football: Illinois stuns Wisconsin; Alabama overcomes Tua Tagovailoa’s injury to top Tennessee
James McCourt kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired, and Illinois pulled off the biggest upset of the college football season in knocking off No. 6 Wisconsin 24-23 on Saturday in Champaign, Ill.
Tony Adams intercepted off a pass for the Illini (3-5, 1-3 Big Ten), who were 30½-point underdogs, at midfield with 2:33 remaining that led to the winning field goal. Dre Brown’s tackle-breaking 13-yard run got Illinois to the Wisconsin 25-yard line with 34 seconds left, and then the Illini set up McCourt to attempt a winner. The junior kicker was down the middle with the field goal to give coach Lovie Smith the most significant victory of his four-year tenure in Champaign.
“Our program, we needed to get a signature win. I was just hoping today was the day, and the day came,” Smith said.
Fans rushed the field when it was over, and ”Jump Around” — a signature song at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium — blared through the speakers at Memorial Stadium.
Wisconsin had not trailed this season and was looking to roll into a showdown with No. 3 Ohio State next week in Columbus. Instead, the Badgers (6-1, 4-1) blew a nine-point lead in the final 9:46 of the fourth quarter.
Highlights of what happened Saturday in college football, leading with the state of the Pac-12 after Washington’s showdown with Oregon.
Heisman Trophy contender Jonathan Taylor rushed 28 times for 132 yards and one touchdown for the Badgers, but he also had a fumble in Illini territory in the fourth quarter to help fuel the Illinois comeback.
“We had two drives late in the game that ended in turnovers,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “It’s always hard to win on the road, and that made it even harder. We just have to move on and learn from this.”
The Badgers’ Jack Coan finished 24 for 32 for 264 yards and a touchdown, but his one interception came at a crucial time. He sailed a pass on third and five that Adams grabbed to give Illinois a short field against the No. 1 defense in the nation.
at No. 1 Alabama 35, Tennessee 13: With Tua Tagovailoa hurt, the Crimson Tide turned to the defense and Najee Harris to pull out a victory over the Volunteers in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Alabama (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) faced its first test of the season without last season’s Heisman Trophy runner-up against the five-touchdown underdogs. Both starting quarterbacks left the game before halftime, and the Volunteers (2-5, 1-3) put up a fight much of the way.
Tagovailoa, the leader of a normally high-powered offense, left with an ankle injury in the second quarter, and coach Nick Saban said he is likely to miss the next game against Arkansas. He called a timeout before the play clock ran out after a sack.
“I didn’t even know he was hurt,” Saban said. “He said he felt like he twisted his ankle.”
Tennessee freshman Brian Maurer had already exited with an unspecified injury, replaced by former starter Jarrett Guarantano.
The end result was familiar: Alabama’s 13th consecutive win over the rival Vols.
Trevon Diggs recovered Guarantano’s fumble on fourth and goal from the one and raced 100 yards for a touchdown to end the threat. Tennessee was down 28-13 and could have cut the deficit to a touchdown.
Harris was already delivering before Tagovailoa’s injury. He wound up running for 105 yards and two touchdowns and adding 48 yards on four catches.
at No. 7 Penn State 28, No. 16 Michigan 21: Sean Clifford threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score to lead the Nittany Lions to a victory over the Wolverines in State College, Pa.
The quarterback hit wide receiver KJ Hamler on 25- and 53-yard scoring strikes and hooked up with tight end Pat Freiermuth for a 17-yard touchdown in a game in which Penn State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) never trailed.
Hamler, who saw a 100-yard kickoff return to start the second half get called back on a holding penalty, finished with six catches for 108 yards.
The Wolverines battled back from a 21-7 halftime deficit and with just more than two minutes to play had a chance to tie the score on fourth and goal from Penn State’s three-yard line. But Michigan wideout Ronnie Bell dropped what would have been the tying touchdown with Penn State safety Lamont Wade playing tight coverage.
at No. 15 Texas 50, Kansas 48: Cameron Dicker made a 33-yard field goal as time expired, and the Longhorns survived the Jayhawks’ desperate upset bid after the teams exchanged six touchdowns in the fourth quarter in Austin, Texas.
Kansas took a 48-47 lead on Carter Stanley’s two-point conversion pass to Daylon Charlot with 1:11 to play. Sam Ehlinger then drove Texas into field-goal range for Dicker, who calmly drilled the winner. Ehlinger completed two big passes to Collin Johnson to keep the drive going for the Longhorns (5-2, 3-1 Big 12).
Kansas, under first-year coach Les Miles, nearly had a victory that would have jumbled the Big 12. And the Jayhawks (2-5, 0-4) were oh so close. Pooka Williams rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and Stanley passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
Ehlinger was just slightly better in crunch time. He finished with 399 yards passing and four touchdowns. He also ran for 91 yards to save Texas on a night in which the program honored its 1969 national championship team with special uniforms and a halftime celebration.
No. 2 Louisiana State 36, at Mississippi State 13: Joe Burrow threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns to break the Tigers’ season record with 29, and LSU rolled to a victory over the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss.
The Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) had 415 yards of total offense and averaged 6.9 yards per play.
Mississippi State (3-4, 1-3) sacked Burrows three times and regularly confounded the Tigers on third down, but LSU managed to score points on every drive of the first half and led 22-7 at the break. A pair of third-quarter touchdowns sealed the win.
Mississippi State freshman Garrett Shrader threw for 238 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He also ran for 66 yards and another touchdown.
No. 3 Clemson 45, at Louisville 10: Trevor Lawrence overcame two early interceptions to throw three touchdown passes, Travis Etienne ran for 192 yards and a score, and the Tigers routed the Cardinals in Louisville for their 22nd consecutive victory.
Darien Rencher and Chez Mellusi added rushing touchdowns for the Tigers (7-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who missed first-quarter chances to build a big lead when Lawrence’s passes were picked off twice near the goal line. The sophomore settled down to hit Joseph Ngata and Justyn Ross with second-quarter touchdown passes for a 17-3 halftime lead.
The Tigers finished with six sacks and kept Louisville (4-3, 2-2) out of the end zone until Javian Hawkins’ late three-yard run.
at No. 5 Oklahoma 52, West Virginia 14: Jalen Hurts passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 75 yards and two more scores as the Sooners routed the Mountaineers in Norman, Okla.
Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) is unbeaten in eight games against West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012. The Sooners have won 20 of their last 21 games.
Oklahoma, which rolled up 562 yards of offense, has scored at least 34 points in 17 straight games, the second-longest such streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 1980.
No. 9 Florida 38, at South Carolina 27: Kyle Trask threw for a career-high four touchdowns, three in the fourth quarter, to help the Gators bounce back from their loss at LSU to outlast the Gamecocks in Columbia, S.C.
Florida (7-1, 4-1 SEC) slogged through a soggy field from Tropical Storm Nestor for much of the game. But the Gators eventually came to life and rallied past a South Carolina (3-4, 2-3) team looking to take down a top-10 opponent for the second straight week after its 20-17 double-overtime win at Georgia.
Instead, it was Florida, coming off its 42-28 loss at LSU, that kept making plays on the way to its best start since 2015.
at No. 10 Georgia 21, Kentucky 0: D’Andre Swift’s 39-yard touchdown run in the third quarter snapped a scoreless tie, and the Bulldogs overcame a slow start to beat the Wildcats in Athens, Ga.
Swift, who ran for 179 yards, added a three-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Brian Herrien rushed for 60 yards, including an eight-yard scoring run.
Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC) recovered from last week’s loss to South Carolina by finally taking advantage of its SEC-leading ground game in the second half. Kentucky (3-4, 1-4) received 99 yards rushing from Lynn Bowden in his second start at quarterback.
No. 11 Auburn 51, at Arkansas 10: Bo Nix passed for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Tigers routed the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark.
Nix turned a close game into a blowout by throwing two touchdown passes in 22 seconds in the third quarter. Before the quick scores, Arkansas had pulled within 17-3 on Connor Limpert’s 28-yard field goal.
The Tigers improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. Arkansas is 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the SEC.
at Brigham Young 28, No. 14 Boise State 25: Baylor Romney threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start to help the Cougars upset the Broncos in Provo, Utah, and snap a three-game losing streak.
BYU turned to Romney, its third-string quarterback, with Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall both sidelined with injuries. He threw two scoring passes to Matt Bushman and helped deliver a second home win for the Cougars (3-4) over a top-25 opponent this season.
Chase Cord, Boise State’s No. 2 quarterback, got the call with Hank Bachmeier out because of an injury. He struggled in his first career start, throwing for 185 yards and two touchdowns with a pair of interceptions.
Boise State (6-1) was dealt a serious blow to its New Year’s Six bowl hopes with the team’s first loss to BYU since 2015.
No. 18 Baylor 45, at Oklahoma State 27: Charlie Brewer completed 13 of 17 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score, and the Bears defeated the Cowboys in Stillwater, Okla., to extend their school-record winning streak to nine games.
JaMycal Hasty rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns in 15 carries and had 66 yards on three receptions for Baylor (7-0, 4-0 Big 12).
Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher, ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns in 32 carries for Oklahoma State (4-3, 1-3).
at No. 19 Southern Methodist 45, Temple 21: Shane Buechele set career highs with six touchdown passes and 457 passing yards to help the Mustangs beat the Owls in Dallas and improve to 7-0.
Reggie Roberson Jr. had a career-high 250 receiving yards on seven catches, including touchdowns of 75, 75 and 33 yards. SMU (7-0, 3-0 American Athletic) has opened the season with seven straight wins for the first time since 1982, when it was 10-0-0 en route to an 11-0-1 finish.
Temple (5-2, 2-1) scored on a one-yard runs by Ra’Mahn Davis and Anthony Russo and a 25-yard pass from Russo to Branden Mack.
Recaps and scores of today’s Pac-12 games in action.
No. 20 Minnesota 42, at Rutgers 7: Rodney Smith ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns, and the Gophers beat the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J., and improved to 7-0 for the first time since winning the national title in 1960.
Smith scored on runs of three and 16 yards and Tanner Morgan threw for two touchdowns as Minnesota (7-0, 4-0) won its ninth straight game spanning two seasons and handed Rutgers (1-6, 0-5) its fifth consecutive loss overall and 17th straight in the Big Ten Conference.
The nine-game winning streak is the Gophers’ longest since 1941-42.
at No. 21 Cincinnati 24, Tulsa 13: Gerrid Doaks ran for a pair of touchdowns and turned a short pass into a 28-yard score, helping the Bearcats hold on to defeat the Golden Hurricane after losing their top running back.
Doaks moved into a bigger role when Michael Warren II left the game twice with leg injuries. He became the focal point of an offense that had just enough to get Cincinnati (6-1, 3-0 American Athletic) a win on a day when the Bearcats remembered one of their best teams.
The Bearcats honored the 2009 team that went unbeaten in the regular season before losing to Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Players and former Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly — in town while Notre Dame has a bye — came on the field during the first timeout.
Tulsa dropped to 3-3 in the American and 2-5 overall.
at Vanderbilt 21, No. 22 Missouri 14: Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and the Commodores upset the Tigers in Nashville with a stifling defensive performance.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for a touchdown and also took a screen 61 yards for another score as Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC) snapped a three-game skid to Missouri.
Missouri (5-2, 2-1) had a chance to tie, but Vanderbilt sacked Kelly Bryant for the third time, and Tucker McCann pulled a 48-yarder wide left for his second missed field goal. The Commodores ran out the final six minutes.
at No. 23 Iowa 26, Purdue 20: Mekhi Sargent ran for a 14-yard score with 2:16 left to help the Hawkeyes beat the Boilermakers in Iowa City, Iowa, and snap a two-game losing streak.
Tyler Goodson scored his first career touchdown from a yard out and Keith Duncan kicked four field goals for Iowa (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten), which also broke a two-game skid against Purdue (2-5, 1-3).
David Bell caught 13 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown for the Boilermakers.
at No. 24 Appalachian State 52, Louisiana-Monroe 7: Zac Thomas threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score, and the Mountaineers rolled past the Warhawks in Boone, N.C., for their first victory as a top-25 team.
Darrynton Evans added 177 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to help Appalachian State (6-0, 3-0 Sun Belt) extend the nation’s third-longest winning streak to 12 games. Only Clemson (22) and Ohio State (13) have longer active streaks.
The defense limited Louisiana-Monroe’s Caleb Evans to 75 yards passing and had two interceptions. Josh Johnson ran for 77 yards for the Warhawks (3-4, 2-1).
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