It certainly was not easy, but Ohio State has reached halftime of the Orange Bowl with a 22-20 lead on Clemson. A late touchdown drive led by Braxton Miller ended with the Big Ten’s best player finding room to run in to the end zone to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the night. Ohio State had trailed 20-9 earlier in the second quarter.
Tajh Boyd came up with a big play right on the game’s opening drive. On a third down with two yards to go from the Ohio State 49-yard line, Boyd ran right up the middle fo the Buckeyes defense for s career long 49-yard touchdown run and the early 7-0 lead. Prior to that run the longest run of the season for Boyd had been for 17 yards. Ohio State responded on the ensuing possession, first by faking a punt and picking up a first down and later by seeing their quarterback break a big run for a touchdown. Miller’s found a path to the left sideline and raced 33 yards toward the end zone, holding up momentarily to get a defender off his course.
Clemson got right back at it on offense, wasting little time moving down the field. This time wide receiver Sammy Watkins showed off his speed with a big run down the left sideline and then creating room in man coverage down the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown catch from Boyd to cap a quick four-play, 75-yard drive. Clemson’s next offensive possession actually resulted in points for the Buckeyes though. Pinned down on their one-yard line, Clemson gave up two points when the Buckeyes forced Boyd to let go of a pass that was ruled as intentional grounding. A pair of other penalties on the offensive line would have resulted in a safety regardless of the intentional grounding.
Big plays would continue for Clemson as they used speed to their advantage on both sides of the football. Clemson has kept Ohio State’s defense on their toes while racking up over 350 yards of offense in the half. Both teams would pick up touchdowns before the half but each missed an extra point attempt, but Ohio State capitalized on a late half turnover on downs by Clemson. Ohio State traveled 64 yards in five plays for the final score of the half with 12 seconds to spare.
Ohio State is still in need of some major adjustments. Clemson’s athleticism is already starting to wear down Ohio State’s defense, and lineman Joey Bosa has battled injury throughout the half and may not be back on the field for the rest of the game the way the second injury timeout looked. The offense has struggled to find any momentum, but perhaps the late score will change the story of the game in the second half.
Still, this is anybody’s game going in to the second half.
Prior to the start of the 2015 season, most prognosticators had the SEC West coming down to either Alabama or Auburn. Five weeks into the season, neither of those teams sit at the top of the divisional heap.
With Kyle Allen triggering the offense and John Chavis orchestrating a virtuoso defensive performance, No. 14 Texas A&M had little trouble dispatching No. 21 Mississippi State in a 30-17 win that, for whatever reason, seemed much easier than the score makes it look. The 5-0 Aggies carried a 24-10 lead into halftime, and the 3-2 Bulldogs could only get as close as 10 points, 27-17, early in the fourth quarter on a Dak Prescott touchdown run.
As was the case in the first half, the true sophomore Allen was a big reason for the Aggies success.
Allen accounted for a career-high 385 yards of total offense, 322 passing and 63 rushing. The passing yardage is second only to the 358 he put up in last Saturday’s win over Arkansas, while the rushing yards are the most of his young career.
Tra Carson added 109 yards rushing and a touchdown to supplement the passing game.
The Bulldogs were able to move the ball in the second half — 233 yards in the last two quarters, compared to 173 in the first two — but could never mount much of a scoring threat outside of Prescott’s run that capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive. Prescott finished with more than 300 yards of offense, 210 passing and 96 rushing.
With the win. A&M moves to 2-0 in SEC play. LSU, also at 2-0, is the only other undefeated team in league play in the West. After a bye weekend, A&M will have its hands full the next two games as it hosts Alabama and travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss.
It is typically unwise to go overboard with reactions based on any one week of the college football schedule, but something learned on Saturday in the SEC is the No. 25 Florida Gators (5-0, 3-0 SEC) just might be the team to beat in the SEC East Division. The Gators were not in need of last-minute heroics the way they were a week ago. With No. 3 Ole Miss rolling into Gainesville, the Gators stomped and drowned the Rebels in The Swamp the way Florida teams of years past used to do their opponents, 38-10.
The offense was locked in. Quarterback Will Grier, flu and all, completed 24 of his 29 passing attempts for 271 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Kelvin Taylor picked up 83 yards on the ground and Demarcus Robinson had eight catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. The Gators offense played the game without a single turnover and they had the edge in time of possession.
The defense incredible. There was nothing Ole Miss could do about the outcome of the game because for the first time in years it was the Florida Gators setting the tone from the start and following through until the clock expired in the fourth quarter. By the time the Rebels reached the end zone, which they had done plenty of times leading up to this game, the Gators were already ahead 38-3 in the fourth quarter. Chad Kelly had 259 passing yards and a touchdown and he was also the leading rusher for Ole Miss with 40 yards. Turnovers doomed Ole Miss, with four turnovers leading to 20 points for the Gators.
Jim McElwain has Florida heading in the right direction, and it’s been a long time coming for the program. Now we will see if McElwain can keep this momentum going. Next week Florida visits Missouri, who has represented the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game each of the past two seasons. After that is the annual rivalry game with Georgia in Jacksonville. These next two weeks will help Florida prove itself as the new top threat in the SEC East. Right now, at this point in time, there should be no arguing that is the case after Missouri has lost to Kentucky and Georgia went down in flames at home against Alabama.
Florida may not be back as a national title contender, but they are certainly more than capable of making a run back to the top of the SEC East and getting back to Atlanta. This division is Florida’s to lose.
Ole Miss will get a chance to regroup and put up 60 points next week at home against New Mexico State before a road game at Memphis.