LSU running back Jeremy Hill rushes past Mississippi defensive back Trae Elston on a 27-yard touchdown carry during the first half of the Tigers’ 41-35 victory on Saturday.
BATON ROUGE, La. — In a joyous, raving, almost delirious rant, Les Miles gushed over his team’s inexorable determination and urged LSU fans to put their arms around his players and “give them a big kiss on the mouth.”
Miles is known to get a little loopy and emotional at times, so his comments hardly seemed out of character after a classic contest with historical rival Ole Miss that even evoked memories of Billy Cannon’s famous Halloween night punt return in 1959.
Jeremy Hill scored his third touchdown with 15 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 41-35 victory over relentless but mistake-prone Mississippi on Saturday.
“I’m proud of those men,” Miles said of his team. “How easy it could of have been to say it was (Ole Miss’) night. Spectacular group of men. ... Wow! What a game!”
The game included seven turnovers, numerous momentum swings and long touchdowns, perhaps none better than Odell Beckham Jr.’s 89-yard punt return for a score that evoked memories of Cannon’s famous return against the same team, along the same sideline, for the same yardage back in 1959.
“That was maybe the biggest momentum changer in the game,” Miles said, adding giddily, “Is it Halloween night?”
Beckham eluded numerous tacklers, slipping one as he traversed the field, then broke away from pursuers down the right sideline toward the north end zone while teammate Jarvis Landry waved him along with windmill motion.
“Everyone had their block, everyone had their man and everyone covered their assignments,” Beckham said. “I saw a crease and I just hit it. ... It was an amazing experience and definitely changed the momentum of the game.”
Beckham’s return tied the game at 35, but LSU (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) still needed a pair of clutch sacks by Anthony Johnson and Lavar Edwards to drive Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) out of routine field goal range later in the fourth quarter. Bryson Rose then pushed a 53-yard kick wide right, setting up the winning drive.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace passed for 310 yards and two TDs and ran for two scores, but also was intercepted three times. His touchdowns went Donte Moncrief, the first for 56 yards and the second for 30. Wallace’s first score came on a 58-yard run.
“I’ve been coaching a long time, maybe not at this level, but this here is one of the most difficult locker rooms to be in this year,” first-year coach Hugh Freeze said. “Our kids just fought for our university and our fans and they should be proud of that. We just can’t seem to get that stop when we have to have one, or that touchdown when we have to have one.”
Zach Mettenberger completed 22 of 37 passes for 282 yards and was intercepted twice. Hill finished with 77 yards rushing, including a 27 yard run for his first TD. Spencer Ware had LSU’s other touchdown on a leap over the pile on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
“I never thought at any point we were going to lose that game,” Mettenberger said. “We had control of the game. We had a couple of turnovers but we had been driving the ball well all night and the passing game was there. We just have to clean up the turnovers and we still won. Hopefully we can go into next week against Arkansas and do the same thing.”
LSU heads into that game still technically alive for an SEC title — if the Tigers beat the Razorbacks, while Texas A&M beats Missouri and Auburn upsets Alabama. That would create a three-way tie in the SEC West that LSU would win.
The Ole Miss turnovers gave LSU multiple opportunities to seize control, but the Tigers had three drives stall inside the Mississippi 10. Two of them ended with field goals and another with Senquez Golson’s interception in the end zone, a play that allowed the Rebels to cling to a 21-20 lead in the third quarter.
“Everything we were doing was working,” Wallace said. “We executed for the most part, but there were still times that we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We have to eliminate that.”
Mississippi then widened its lead to 28-20 on a drive set up by Golson’s second interception. Randall Mackey’s 6-yard scoring run capped it.
LSU rallied to tie it on Hill’s 1-yard touchdown run around the left side and a 2-point conversion on Mettenberger’s pass to Ware, but the Rebels marched right back down the field in 28 seconds to regain the lead, 35-28, on Wallace’s pass to Moncrief along the left sideline.
That, however, would be the final points for a Mississippi team that is one win from bowl eligibility and made it clear early on it was not going to lay down against an LSU team favored by more than two touchdowns.
NO. 3 NOTRE DAME 38, WAKE FOREST 0
No. 3 Notre Dame stayed undefeated with an uncharacteristically easy victory at home and then had the rest of the night to root for the upset it needs to move into position to play for the BCS title.
The Fighting Irish hammered Wake Forest 38-0 on senior day in South Bend, Ind.
Notre Dame remained undefeated, and will likely stay stuck in third-place in the BCS standings unless Kansas State or Oregon loses.
The second-ranked Wildcats were at Big 12 rival Baylor on Saturday night. No. 1 Oregon was hosting No. 14 Stanford in a game that could decide the Pac-12 North.
No. 3 NOTRE DAME 38, WAKE FOREST 0
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Everett Golson threw touchdown passes of 50, 34 and 2 yards, Cierre Wood scored on a 68-yard run and Notre Dame finished the season undefeated at home for the first time since 1998.
The Fighting Irish improved to 11-0 for the first time since 1989 and need to beat Southern California to finish a regular season undefeated for the first time since 1988, the last time they won a national championship. The Demon Deacons (5-6) fell to 1-33 all-time against top 5 teams, their lone win coming against No. 4 Tennessee in 1946.
No. 4 ALABAMA 49, WESTERN CAROLINA 0
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Eddie Lacy rushed for three first-half touchdowns and AJ McCarron set Alabama’s single-season record for passing TDs.
The Crimson Tide (10-1) rebounded from a loss to No. 9 Texas A&M by building a 42-0 halftime lead against the Catamounts (1-10), a Football Championship Subdivision team with two wins in as many seasons. It was Alabama’s third shutout of the season.
McCarron completed all six of his attempts for 133 yards and his 21st touchdown before exiting midway through the second quarter. Lacy ran for 99 yards on 10 carries with two 7-yard touchdowns and a 3-yarder. Neither played after halftime.
No. 5 GEORGIA 45, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 14
ATHENS, Ga. — Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes and Todd Gurley became only the second true freshman in Georgia history to rush for 1,000 yards.
Georgia (10-1) reached 10 wins for the eighth time in Mark Richt’s dozen seasons as coach. Georgia Southern (8-3) had a shot at the halftime lead, only to get scuttled by a penalty, and Murray took control from there.
He completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell with just 4 seconds left in the half, sending Georgia to the locker room with a 17-7 lead. In the third quarter, Murray hooked up with Chris Conley on a pair of scoring passes, sandwiched around a 43-yarder to Tavarres King.
No. 6 OHIO STATE 21, WISCONSIN 14
MADISON, Wis. — Carlos Hyde scored on a 2-yard run in overtime and the Buckeyes stayed perfect.
The Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0) clinched the Leaders Division title outright with the win. But they are ineligible for the postseason as part of their punishment for NCAA violations under former coach Jim Tressel, and the best they can hope for is to end the year unbeaten and to maybe capture the AP Top 25 title.
Montee Ball scored his 78th touchdown, tying Travis Prentice’s major-college record for career scores. But he fumbled on what would have been the record-breaker with 2:46 left in regulation.
No. 7 FLORIDA 23, JACKSONVILLE STATE 0
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 7 Florida used a strong defensive effort to overcome a sluggish offensive performance.
The Gators scored a touchdown on their first possession when Mike Gillislee plowed into the end zone from 7 yards out. But that was the only offensive touchdown all day from Florida.
The Gators (10-1) also scored on a 7-yard interception return by Jonathan Bostic early in the third quarter. Caleb Sturgis added three field goals from 21, 44 and 47 yards out to complete the scoring.
Florida’s defense allowed a 76-yard pass completion on the first play of the game, but held the Gamecocks to 176 total yards the rest of the game. Jacksonville State, an FCS program that plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, completed its season with a 6-5 record.
No. 9 TEXAS A&M 47, SAM HOUSTON ST. 28
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Johnny Manziel threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 100 yards and two more scores in a bit more than a half for Texas A&M.
The redshirt freshman threw an 89-yard touchdown pass to Uzoma Nwachukwu on A&M’s first offensive play of the second half. The dual-threat quarterback then attempted the extra point, but it sailed wide right, ending the Heisman hopeful’s day with A&M (9-2) leading 40-0.
He broke the NCAA freshman quarterback rushing record of 1,029 set by Missouri’s Brad Smith in 2002, and the freshman record for total offense of 3,827 set in 2000 by Jared Lorenzen on A&M’s first drive. He also became the fifth player and first freshman in FBS history to pass for at least 3,000 yards with at least 1,000 yards rushing in a season.
His 4,161 yards are a school record for total offense in a season.
No. 10 FLORIDA STATE 41, MARYLAND 14
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Devonta Freeman ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns as Florida State earned a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Florida State (10-1, 7-1) led 27-0 at halftime and cruised to its fifth straight victory. The Seminoles clinched the league’s Atlantic Division title for the second time in three years and will play for its 13th ACC crown on Dec. 1.
EJ Manuel completed 17 of 23 passes for 144 yards and two scores to supplement a running game that gained 237 yards.
Operating against an injury-plagued Maryland team using a linebacker at quarterback, Florida State allowed 170 yards.
No. 11 CLEMSON 62, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 48
CLEMSON, S.C. — Tajh Boyd threw for five touchdowns and ran for three more scores to lead Clemson to a record-shattering win.
The Tigers (10-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast) gained 754 yards, two off the school record. The 110 combined points were just seven off the ACC record set by Georgia Tech and North Carolina last week.
The Wolfpack (6-5, 3-4) led 24-13 early in the second quarter before Clemson scored 42 straight. Boyd was responsible for every Clemson touchdown. The junior was 30-for-44 for 426 yards and ran for 105 yards — the combined 531 yards set another school record.
The Tigers won a share of the ACC’s Atlantic Division title, but the loss to Florida State keeps them out of the title game.
No. 12 SOUTH CAROLINA 24, WOFFORD 7
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Kenny Miles rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown and South Carolina pulled out a closer-than-expected 24-7 win over an FCS opponent.
The victory gave Steve Spurrier his 64th win in eight seasons with the Gamecocks (9-2), tying him with Rex Enright for most ever in program history. But it wasn’t until a 17-point fourth quarter that Spurrier and South Carolina could rest easy in this one.
Adam Yates’ 23-yard field goal broke a 7-all tie with 11:57 to go. After the Terriers (8-3) failed on a 4th-and-1 at their 34, Connor Shaw threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ace Sanders to widen the lead.
Moments later, Wofford’s Eric Breitenstein fumbled and Akeem Auguste returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, making it 24-7.
It was the Gamecocks 11th straight win at Williams-Brice Stadium and completed their first perfect run at home (7-0) since 1987.
No. 16 NEBRASKA 38, MINNESOTA 14
LINCOLN, Neb. — Taylor Martinez threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns to Kenny Bell while becoming Nebraska’s career passing leader.
The Cornhuskers (9-2, 6-1), who had to come from behind in the second half in four of its first five Big Ten wins, scored on four of their first six possessions against the Gophers (6-5, 2-5).
No. 17 UCLA 38, No. 21 USC 28
PASADENA, Calif. — Brett Hundley passed for 234 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more scores as UCLA clinched the Pac-12 South title and snapped a five-game losing streak in the crosstown rivalry.
Eric Kendricks blocked a punt and made a fourth-quarter interception for the Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12), who overcame intermittent second-half rain and USC’s star-studded lineup for a gutsy victory that puts them atop Los Angeles football.
A year after USC obliterated the Bruins 50-0 in a game that led to a coaching change in Westwood, UCLA punctuated its one-year revitalization under Jim Mora with its first win over the Trojans (7-4, 5-4) since 2006 — just their second in 14 years.
UTAH STATE 48, No. 19 LOUISIANA TECH 41, OT
RUSTON, La. — Kerwynn Williams scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give Utah State a lead in overtime and the Aggies stopped Louisiana Tech on four plays to win and clinch at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship.
No. 22 RUTGERS 10, CINCINNATI 3
CINCINNATI — Savon Huggins ran for a career-high 179 yards, and Rutgers’ defense had another shut-down showing and the Scarlet Knights stayed in control of the Big East.
Rutgers (9-1, 5-0) remained the only unbeaten team in conference play. The Scarlet Knights finish with games at Pittsburgh and home against No. 20 Louisville, which has one Big East loss.
Huggins filled in for the injured Jawan Jamison and had a career day all around, leading an offense that did just enough. Gary Nova threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Mark Harrison in the second quarter, and Nick Borgese made a 42-yard field goal in the fourth.
The league’s top defense took it from there, shutting out Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2) until Tony Miliano kicked a 36-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.
No. 23 MICHIGAN 42, IOWA 17
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Devin Gardner accounted for six touchdowns to help Michigan rout Iowa.
The Wolverines (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) weren’t stopped on offense by the hapless Hawkeyes (4-7, 2-5) until Gardner threw an interception early in the fourth quarter.
Gardner threw three touchdowns and ran for three scores. He became the first Michigan quarterback to account for six TDs since 1983 when Steve Smith had as many passing and rushing scores in a game at Minnesota.
Denard Robinson started at running back and took snaps at quarterback and ran 13 times for 98 yards in his last home game.
Iowa has lost five straight.
OKLAHOMA STATE 59, No. 23 TEXAS TECH 21
STILLWATER, Okla. — Isaiah Anderson had a career-best 174 yards receiving and caught three long touchdown passes from Clint Chelf in his final home game for Oklahoma State.
Zack Craig blocked a pair of punts, returning one for a touchdown, as the Cowboys (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) won their fourth straight in the series and the second in a row in decisive fashion. The Red Raiders’ 66-6 loss in last season’s game was the most lopsided defeat in the program’s history.
Chelf passed for 229 yards in his second career start. J.W. Walsh, who had what coach Mike Gundy called a season-ending injury four weeks ago, ran for one touchdown and threw for another out of a short-yardage package.
Seth Doege threw for 230 yards with two interceptions and a single touchdown pass for Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4).
No. 25 KENT STATE 31, BOWLING GREEN 24
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Dri Archer had two long touchdown runs and finished with 241 yards rushing, leading Kent State to its first Mid-American Conference title game.
The Golden Flashes’ defense stopped Bowling Green twice within the last five minutes inside Kent State territory.
Luke Wollet’s interception in the end zone with 21 seconds left sealed the victory.
Bowling Green (7-4, 5-2) had driven to the Kent State 14 before coming up empty on four consecutive throws.
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