College football: No. 12 Oregon upsets No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus

Oregon running back CJ Verdell, middle, scores a first-half touchdown against Ohio State on Saturday.
Oregon running back CJ Verdell scores a first-half touchdown against Ohio State. Verdell rushed for 161 yards and scored three TDs in the Ducks’ upset win.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

CJ Verdell ran for 161 yards and had three touchdowns Saturday as short-handed No. 12 Oregon exploited a porous Ohio State defense to upset the No. 3 Buckeyes 35-28 in Columbus, Ohio, and hand them their first regular-season loss in nearly three years.

Despite gaudy numbers from freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (1-1) never led the game it was favored to win by 14½ points. Its front seven struggled to contain Verdell, control the edge and get after Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown.

“They quickly adapted and just played with grit and toughness, knowing this was going to be a slugfest,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said of his players.


The Buckeyes had a chance to tie the score late after pulling within a touchdown with 7:55 left. But when they got the ball again, Stroud, who passed for 472 yards and three touchdowns, took his first sack of the day and then was intercepted by defensive back Verone McKinley III on a desperation sideline pass on third and 18 at the Oregon 35-yard line with 2:50 to go in front of a stunned crowd of more than 100,000.

Stroud, trying to show he is a worthy heir to Justin Fields, likely will be fine. It’s the Ohio State defense that needs work.

Twice in the first half, Verdell scurried around the left end — one of them was a pitch pass on a fourth-and-one play — and went untouched into the end zone from 14 yards out. Travis Dye exploited the left side again, running from five yards out to give the Ducks a 28-14 third-quarter lead.

Three plays into the second half, Verdell blasted through the middle untouched and outran defensive backs for a 77-yard score. He went left again for a seven-yard gain and a first down in the fourth quarter, one play before Brown connected with tight end Moliki Matavao for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Ducks a 35-21 lead with 12:46 left.

Stroud, in his second start, passed for the second-most yards in Ohio State history, coming up 15 short of Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s 499 against Northwestern in 2018.

Stroud’s success was partly because of some brilliant catches by receivers Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxson Smith-Njigba. He was 33-for-54 passing and connected for two touchdowns with Smith-Njigba and another with Wilson.

It was third-year Ohio State coach Ryan Day’s first loss in the regular season. The Buckeyes’ last loss in the regular season came at Purdue in October 2018 under Urban Meyer.

Oregon defensive back Verone McKinley III celebrates a win over Ohio State on Sept. 11, 2021.
Oregon defensive back Verone McKinley III, who made an interception late, celebrates the win over Ohio State.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

Oregon (2-0) played without star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebacker Justin Flowe.

“It’s hard to express in words the magnitude of coming out here down a couple of guys due to injury and just playing really, really gutsy football, executing at a high level,” Cristobal said. “A tremendous job of preparation and turning it into a reality by our players and coaching staff.”

at No. 1 Alabama 48, Mercer 14

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young runs against Mercer during the first half Sept. 11, 2021.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, a former Santa Ana Mater Dei standout, runs against Mercer during the first half.
(Vasha Hunt / Associated Press)

Bryce Young, a former Santa Ana Mater Dei standout, threw three touchdown passes and Jase McClellan scored three times to help fuel the Crimson Tide (2-0) to a rout of the Bears (1-1) of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Alabama started sluggishly on offense in what amounted to a warmup game before the Southeastern Conference opener at No. 13 Florida, but potentially more notably Crimson Tide star linebacker Will Anderson Jr. left because of an apparent right leg injury. Coach Nick Saban said Anderson was questionable for the game against the Gators.

at No. 2 Georgia 56, Alabama Birmingham 7

Stetson Bennett tied a school record with five touchdown passes filling in for injured starter JT Daniels, leading the Bulldogs (2-0) to a rout of the Blazers (1-1).

Bennett completed his first six passes — four of them going all the way to the end zone for Georgia, which didn’t show any signs of a letdown after a 10-3 victory over Clemson despite the absence of its No. 1 quarterback.

at No. 4 Oklahoma 76, Western Carolina 0

Spencer Rattler threw five touchdown passes, and the Sooners (2-0) matched their fifth-highest point total in school history in a rout of the FCS Catamounts (0-2).

Oklahoma led 62-0 after three quarters, and the fourth was shortened to 12 minutes. Rattler completed 20 of 26 passes for 243 yards before resting in the second half of the Sooners’ 10th straight victory. He joined Jason White as the only Oklahoma quarterbacks to pass for five touchdowns in a half.

No. 5 Texas A&M 10, at Colorado 7

Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller beats Colorado linebacker Guy Thomas to catch a TD pass Sept. 11, 2021.
Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller beats Colorado linebacker Guy Thomas to catch an 18-yard touchdown pass with 2:41 left in Denver.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Backup quarterback Zach Calzada threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Spiller with 2:41 remaining, and the Aggies (2-0) escaped Empower Field at Mile High in Denver with a win over the Buffaloes (1-1).

Spiller’s touchdown gave Texas A&M its first lead on a day in which it lost freshman quarterback Haynes King to a lower right leg injury and eight of its first nine drives were three and outs. King spent the second half watching from the sideline in street clothes, on crutches and with a walking boot on his right foot.

Colorado’s hopes of an upset over the 17-point favorite Aggies ended when Brendon Lewis’ pass to Dimitri Stanley on fourth and 13 from his 22-yard line covered just 12 yards.

The Buffaloes lost their best rusher, Jarek Broussard, to an unspecified injury midway through the third quarter after he was hit hard by nickelback Antonio Johnson just as he caught a pass in the right flat. He slowly walked off and didn’t return.

at No. 6 Clemson 49, South Carolina State 3

DJ Uiagalelei, a former Bellflower St. John Bosco star, ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third as the Tigers (1-1) routed the Bulldogs (0-2), cranking up their offense after a sorry showing in a loss to Georgia a week earlier.

Uiagalelei and Clemson had touchdowns on all four of their first-quarter possessions and pulled away for the Tigers’ 36th straight win over teams from the FCS.

at No. 7 Cincinnati 42, Murray State 7

Jerome Ford rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns, Desmond Ridder passed for 243 yards and two TDs, and the Bearcats (2-0) beat the Racers (1-1).

Cincinnati had to overcome some distractions during the week, including an invitation to join the Big 12 and trips to Indiana and No. 8 Notre Dame looming.

at No. 8 Notre Dame 32, Toledo 29

Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer makes a TD catch in front of Toledo linebacker Dyontae Johnson on Sept. 11, 2021.
Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer makes the winning touchdown catch in front of Toledo linebacker Dyontae Johnson.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

Jack Coan hit Michael Mayer for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 left for the third lead change in a wild fourth quarter, and the Fighting Irish (2-0) held off the determined Rockets (1-1).

The victory preserved a 25-game home winning streak for Notre Dame and came after Toledo had taken a 29-24 lead on freshman quarterback Dequan Finn’s 26-yard bootleg touchdown run with 1:35 remaining. Finn split playing time with sophomore Carter Bradley, who threw for 213 yards.

Coan, who threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns in Notre Dame’s season-opening 41-38 overtime victory at Florida State on Sunday, shared playing time with true freshman Tyler Buchner.

No. 10 Iowa 27, at No. 9 Iowa State 17

Iowa players hoist the Cy-Hawk Trophy and rejoice in their 27-17 win over Iowa State on Sept. 11, 2021.
Iowa players hoist the Cy-Hawk Trophy and rejoice in their win over Iowa State.
(Matthew Putney / Associated Press)

Jack Campbell returned a fumble six yards for a touchdown, and the Hawkeyes (2-0) ran their winning streak against the Cyclones (1-1) to six games with a victory that ruined the most anticipated home game in Iowa State history.

In the first Cy-Hawk Trophy game matching ranked teams in 65 total meetings, the Hawkeyes turned four takeaways into 20 points, ran their overall winning streak to eight games and their winning streak against ranked teams to five.

With the Cyclones backed up to their goal line, All-American Breece Hall was stripped by Iowa’s Jestin Jacobs. Campbell scooped the bouncing ball and took a couple of strides into the end zone to make it 21-10 with 5:08 left in the third quarter.

Matt Hankins had two of Iowa’s three interceptions against Brock Purdy, who was benched for Hunter Dekkers early in the fourth quarter. Spencer Petras threw a pretty 26-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Jones and Tyler Goodson had a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter for Iowa.

at No. 11 Penn State 44, Ball State 13

Sean Clifford completed 21 of 29 passes for 230 yards, ran for a touchdown and threw for another to lead the Nittany Lions (2-0) past the Cardinals (1-1).

Running back Noah Cain added a rushing touchdown and wide receiver Jahan Dotson had another, linebacker Jesse Luketa returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown, and Jordan Stout kicked three field goals for Penn State, which welcomed back nearly 106,000 fans to Beaver Stadium for the first time since 2019.

No. 13 Florida 42, at South Florida 20

The Gators (2-0) tuned up for the start of SEC play with a rout of the overmatched Bulls (0-2) that did little to answer the question of whether starter Emory Jones or backup Anthony Richardson is best suited to run the Florida offense. The quarterbacks shared playing time for the second straight week for the Gators.

at Arkansas 40, No. 15 Texas 21

Arkansas running back Dominique Johnson, front, celebrates with offensive lineman Dalton Wagner on Sept. 11, 2021.
Arkansas running back Dominique Johnson, front, celebrates with offensive lineman Dalton Wagner after scoring a second-quarter touchdown.
(Michael Woods / Associated Press)

The Razorbacks (2-0) piled up 333 rushing yards and got touchdowns from four different players on the ground while their defense stuffed the Longhorns (1-1) in a dominating win.

Dominique Johnson scored from five yards in the second quarter, Trelon Smith from one yard, Raheim Sanders from 26 yards in the third and AJ Green from 30 yards in the fourth as Arkansas racked up its most rushing yards since 2016, the last time the team had a winning season.

Texas’ 256 yards of total offense were its lowest since 2015. Quarterback Hudson Card was replaced by Casey Thompson on the final drive of the third quarter. Thompson led the Longhorns on two touchdown drives, both on his own rushes.

at No. 18 Wisconsin 34, Eastern Michigan 7

Chez Mellusi ran for 144 yards and a touchdown, leading the Badgers (1-1) past the Eagles (1-1).

Wisconsin piled up 352 rushing yards and also dominated on defense against Eastern Michigan, which had 92 total yards on offense. The Eagles had three first downs.

Mellusi, a Clemson transfer, became the first Badgers running back to record consecutive 100-yard rushing games in his first two contests since Corey Clement in 2013.

at No. 19 Virginia Tech 35, Middle Tennessee 14

Raheem Blackshear rushed for two touchdowns to lead the Hokies (2-0), who scored on their first three possessions of the second half against the Blue Raiders (1-1). Blackshear had two straight short touchdown runs in the spurt for Virginia Tech, which broke open the game when Jalen Holston scored on a 29-yard run for a 21-7 lead.

at No. 20 Mississippi 54, Austin Peay 17

Matt Corral threw for five touchdowns — four in the first half — as the Rebels (2-0) routed the FCS Governors (1-1).

Ole Miss added a defensive touchdown on a strip sack and 33-yard fumble return from defensive end Sam Williams and a safety from the special teams to build a 37-0 lead over Austin Peay of the Ohio Valley Conference.

Corral finished 21 for 33 for 281 yards. Dontario Drummond and Jonathan Mingo had two touchdown receptions apiece.

at Brigham Young 26, No. 21 Utah 17

Jaren Hall threw three touchdown passes and totaled 241 yards of offense, helping the Cougars (2-0) topple the Utes (1-1).

Tyler Allgeier added 109 yards in 27 carries as BYU ended a nine-game losing streak against Utah. It was the Cougars’ first victory over their rivals since 2009.

BYU ran for 231 yards, becoming the first team to gain at least 200 rushing yards against Utah since Texas also rushed for 231 yards in the 2019 Alamo Bowl.

Micah Bernard ran for 146 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries to lead Utah. Charlie Brewer threw for 147 yards and a touchdown for the Utes, who trailed the entire game.

at No. 22 Miami 25, Appalachian State 23

Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson tries to intercept a pass intended for Appalachian State receiver Corey Xavier Sutton.
Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson tries to intercept a second-half pass intended for Appalachian State wide receiver Corey Xavier Sutton.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

A cat survived a scare. So did the Miami Hurricanes.

D’Eriq King threw for 200 yards and rushed for 67 more, freshman Andy Borregales kicked a go-ahead 43-yard field goal with 2:04 remaining, and the Hurricanes (1-1) rallied from a halftime deficit to beat the Mountaineers (1-1).

Cam’Ron Harris rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown for Miami, and Don Chaney Jr. had a rushing score before leaving in the first half because of a leg injury. King led a 10-play, 55-yard drive in the fourth that set up Borregales for what became the winning points.

Jalen Virgil had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Camerun Peoples had 95 rushing yards and a score for Appalachian State, which took a 23-22 lead with 5:48 left when Malik Williams caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Chase Brice.

A cat somehow got into Hard Rock Stadium and ended up dangling from the facade of the upper deck, hanging on with its front paws before eventually falling. The cat was caught by fans who unfurled an American flag to serve as a makeshift net. The cat did not appear to be injured and was eventually taken away by stadium staff.

at No. 23 Arizona State 37, Nevada Las Vegas 10

Arizona State running back Rachaad White against UNLV on Sept. 11, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz.
Arizona State running back Rachaad White carries the ball against UNLV.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Quarterback Jayden Daniels ran for a career-high 122 yards, Rachaad White added two rushing touchdowns, and the Sun Devils (2-0) eventually pulled away for a win over the Rebels (0-2).

White had 90 yards on the ground and scored a crucial nine-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to give Arizona State a 21-10 lead. He added a one-yard touchdown run early in the fourth.

Daniels was 20-for-29 passing for 175 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.

at No. 24 North Carolina 59, Georgia State 17

Sam Howell threw three touchdown passes and rushed for two more scores as the Tar Heels (1-1) shook off the disappointment a loss in their opener with a rout of the Panthers (0-2).

Howell played a role in four of North Carolina’s first six touchdowns. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 352 yards without an interception.

at No. 25 Auburn 62, Alabama State 0

Demetris Robertson scored three touchdowns and Jarquez Hunter rushed for 147 yards as the Tigers (2-0) raced past the Hornets (1-1) of the FCS.

at Michigan 31, Washington 10

Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) celebrates a touchdown with teammates Sept. 11, 2021.
Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) celebrates a touchdown with teammates in the fourth quarter.
(Tony Ding / Associated Press)

Blake Corum sprinted for a 67-yard touchdown to give the Wolverines a double-digit lead in the second quarter, one play after Jim Harbaugh called for a fake punt, and Michigan (2-0) pulled away to beat the Huskies (0-2).

The Wolverines relied on a tandem of running backs, swarming defense and special teams to take and keep control of the game.

Washington has lost its first two games — including the opener to Montana — for the first time since 2008, when the Huskies finished 0-12.

Corum ran for 171 yards and three touchdowns, a week after he had 111 yards rushing and scored twice in the season-opening rout over Western Michigan.

Hassan Haskins had 155 yards rushing and a score for the Wolverines, whose passing game was limited without injured wide receiver Ronnie Bell.

Washington was scoreless until Peyton Henry made a 28-yard field goal with 5:54 left in the third quarter. By the time Dylan Morris threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Bynum early in the fourth, the Huskies were down by two touchdowns.

Morris completed 20 of 37 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown. Bynum had five receptions for 115 yards and a score.

San Diego State 38, at Arizona 14

Senior Jordan Brookshire threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Greg Bell broke a 55-yard scoring run on the fourth play from scrimmage, and the Aztecs (2-0) rolled over the Wildcats (0-2), extending their losing streak to 14 games.

Brookshire, who won the starting job late in fall camp, completed nine of 11 passes for two scores in the first half as San Diego State took a 35-7 lead. He finished 10 for 14 for 183 yards and Bell had 125 yards rushing in 17 carries as the Aztecs opened 2-0 for the third straight season.

San Diego State had 454 total yards, 271 rushing.

at Texas Christian 34, California 32

Quentin Johnston caught two of Max Duggan’s three touchdown passes, with the go-ahead score coming on a nifty catch and run, as the Horned Frogs (2-0) beat the Bears (0-2) to remain undefeated against Pac-12 teams under coach Gary Patterson.

Johnston put TCU ahead to stay with the 45-yard touchdown catch with 9:53 left in which he twisted around one defender who fell down near the 30 and then shed the attempted tackle by another inside the 10. Johnston finished with five catches for 95 yards.

Chase Garbers threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns for Cal.

at Washington State 44, Portland State 24

Jayden de Laura threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Cougars (1-1) beat the FCS Vikings (0-2).

Deon McIntosh rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown and Max Borghi added 59 yards and a touchdown for Washington State, which rebounded from a last-minute loss to visiting Utah State last weekend. Travell Harris had 188 all-purpose yards and caught two touchdown passes.

Davis Alexander threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns for Portland State.

Air Force 23, at Navy 3

The Brigade of Midshipmen stand at attention before the national anthem ahead of the game between Navy and Air Force.
The Brigade of Midshipmen stand at attention before the playing of the national anthem ahead of the game between Navy and Air Force in Annapolis, Md.
(Terrance Williams / Associated Press)

Brad Roberts ran for two touchdowns and Haaziq Daniels added one, and the Falcons (2-0) held the Midshipmen (0-2) to one first down before the fourth quarter in a victory.

This was the earliest meeting in series history between these teams. It was scheduled for Saturday so it would be played on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

at Army 38, Western Kentucky 35

Christian Anderson rushed for a career-high 119 yards and passed for a touchdown, and the Black Knights (2-0) survived a rally by the Hilltoppers (1-1).