Play time is over. The journey to a conference crown and a shot at the college football playoff started last week. Most programs started conference play Saturday, while others had intriguing non-conference matchups.
The powers of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 were all on display Saturday. Fans witnessed a mixture of close games, blowout victories and shocking upsets. Let’s recap the madness.
SEC Matchups: Week 4
Summary: Blake Sims has no deep ball? Yeah, right. Sims was 1-6 on deep passes prior to the Florida game. He lit up the Gators’ secondary for 445 yards and four touchdowns. Alabama rushed for 196 yards (Derrick Henry—111 yards, 1 touchdown) and totaled 645 yards of offense. Florida’s cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is having nightmares about Amari Cooper. Cooper recorded 10 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Turnovers kept Florida in the game; the Crimson Tide lost three fumbles and Sims tossed his second interception of the season. Alabama’s defense stepped up and limited huge plays. Florida was held to only 200 yards of total offense and 93 passing yards. The Crimson Tide forced three turnovers and held Florida to a 15.4 percent conversion clip on third down. Alabama won 42-21 and is 1-0 to start conference play.
Summary: The stage was set for the Wildcats to pull an upset. Bill Synder Family Stadium was rocking and Kansas State’s defense was playing lights out. It was a night to forget for placekicker Jack Cantele. He missed three field goals and receiver Tyler Lockett missed a touchdown reception. The Wildcats left 16 points off the scoreboard and Auburn made them pay. Nick Marshall struggled in the first half, but developed some rhythm in the second half. He threw for 231 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Sammie Coates was quiet, but D’haquille Williams was superb. He had eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Auburn was 10 of 18 on third down (55.6 percent) and forced three Kansas State turnovers. Auburn escaped Manhattan with a 20-14 victory.
Summary: Mississippi State was not ranked before Saturday’s showdown against LSU, but the pollsters now have a reason to put the Bulldogs in the top 25. Head coach Dan Mullen needed a signature win. He and the Bulldogs obtained it Saturday against LSU in Baton Rouge. Dak Prescott was very efficient, something he needed to improve on this year. He completed 62.5 percent of his passes (15-24) for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Prescott and running back Josh Robinson gashed LSU on the ground. Prescott rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown. Robinson recorded 197 yards rushing and a score. Receivers Jameon Lewis and De’Runnya Wilson found holes in the Tigers’ secondary. Lewis and Wilson combined for 207 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Give Les Miles and LSU credit for its fourth quarter drama. LSU trailed Mississippi 34-10 early in the fourth quarter. The Tigers scored 19 unanswered points and pulled within five of the Bulldogs. Will Redmond’s interception off Anthony Jennings sealed the deal for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs won 34-29.
Summary: The Big Ten has seen better days, but Saturday was the lone bright Saturday in the nightmarish start to the 2014 season. Bob Knight no longer coaches for Indiana, but his winning mentality was with the Hoosiers’ football team against Missouri. The Tigers’ offense clicked, but its defense suffered. Maty Mauk, Russell Hansbrough and Bud Sasser all performed well. Mauk tossed for 326 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Hansbrough recorded 119 yards rushing and a touchdown. And Sasser caught 11 passes for 142 yards. Missouri’s defense surrendered 493 yards of offense and three rushing scores. Nate Sudfeld had 252 passing yards and a touchdown for Indiana while Tevin Coleman rushed for 132 yards. D’Angelo Roberts scored the game-winning touchdown for the Hoosiers. His three-yard scored capped off a 6-play, 75-yard drive that helped Indiana pull off the upset 31-27.
ACC Matchups: Week 4
Summary: Kansas State and Clemson are sharing a box of Kleenex. Both teams had their opponent on the ropes, but couldn’t deliver a knockout punch. Clemson outgained Florida State (CLEM 407—FSU 318), won the turnover battle (CLEM 1—FSU 2) and controlled the ball. The Seminoles found a way to win without its star, Jameis Winston. Sean Maguire filled in admirably. He had 305 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Maguire was nervous in the first half, but gained confidence as the game went on. Rashad Greene provided a safety valve for Maguire. Green recorded nine catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. The game went into overtime and ended on a 12-yard rushing score from Florida State’s running back Karlos Williams. Clemson loss the game, but found its quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Watson carved Florida State’s secondary for 266 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Seminoles won 23-17.
Big 12 Matchups: Week 4
Summary: Chalk up another victory to Big Game Bob. Coach Stoops and Oklahoma got the job done against West Virginia. Trevor Knight didn’t have his best game passing (205 yards, one interception), but Oklahoma’s run game picked up the slack. Samaje Perine collected 242 yard rushing and four touchdowns on 34 carries. Clint Trickett had a field day passing (376 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions), but West Virginia had three costly turnovers. Oklahoma went 50 percent on third down (8 of 16) and rushed for 301 yards. Sooners won 45-33.
PAC-12 Matchups: Week 4
Summary: Both defensive coordinators lost hair as a fireworks show started Saturday in Martin Stadium. Marcus Mariota was on fire. He completed 84 percent of his passes (21-25) for 329 yards and five touchdowns. Receivers Devon Allen and Keanon Lowe got the bulk of the wealth from Mariota. Allen caught seven passes for 142 yards and two scores. Lowe had five receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Connor Halliday didn’t back down from competition. He put up 436 passing yards and four touchdowns. Both teams equaled in yards (Oregon 501—WSU 499), but two Washington State fumbles cost the Cougars. Oregon won 38-31.
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