Week 5 wrap

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No. 15 Oklahoma State survives Lubbock gut check

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Fighting to keep its Big 12 and national championship hopes alive, No. 15 Oklahoma State rolled up 32 first downs and 602 yards of total offense but still hung on to outlast Texas Tech, 41-34 in Lubbock.

It appeared early like Oklahoma State was going to run the Red Raiders off their own field. The Cowboys forced a Texas Tech three-and-out to open the game, then moved 68 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 14-yard strike from Mason Rudolph to James Washington. The Cowboys forced another punt on Texas Tech’s next touch, and then advanced the ball to the Texas Tech red zone before Damarcus Fields grabbed a Rudolph overthrow and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown to level the game at 7-7.

Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) again moved to the red zone on its third possession, but Texas Tech forced a field goal try that Matt Ammendola doinked off the right upright from 22 yards out. Given new life, Texas Tech raced 80 yards in eight snaps, taking a 14-7 lead on a 3-yard toss from Nic Shimonek to Dylan Cantrell. The Red Raiders briefly seized complete control of the game when Marcell Ateman was ruled short of the line to gain on a 3rd-and-10 completion at the Texas Tech 10-yard line, but a replay review handed him a first down, and Rudolph tied the game again one play later on a toss to running back Justice Hill.

Texas Tech (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) punted for a third time on its next possession, and Oklahoma State grabbed its second lead of the game when Rudolph closed an 88-yard drive by finding Jalen McCleskey wide open for a 4-yard touchdown toss.

The Red Raiders held serve with a field goal, although Justin Stockton appeared to cross the plane on a run with five seconds left before halftime but was ruled out of bounds.

Shimonek’s pass was batted away with two seconds left, and Michael Barden booted a 22-yard field goal as time expired.

Oklahoma State accepted the ball to open the second half and picked up where it left off, moving 75 yards in eight plays and grabbing a 28-17 lead on an 8-yard Rudolph run. The Cowboys then forced another three-and-out and had a chance to blow the game open, but failed to cash in a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line and settled for a 22-yard Ammendola chip shot.

The teams traded field goals until Texas Tech pulled back within seven on a 1-yard Stockton run, pushing the score to 34-27 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct flag after the score, allowing Texas Tech to kickoff from midfield — and the Red Raiders took advantage by recovering an onside kick. However, Texas Tech immediately gave back that extra possession when Shimonek under-threw a screen pass that Cowboys defensive lineman Jordan Brailford easily intercepted. But the Tech defense forced a three-and-out and the first OSU punt of the night, then tied the game at 34-34 with 9:56 to play on a 1-yard Desmond Nisby plunge.

Oklahoma State rebounded from its one bad possession by putting together another good one, moving 73 yards to the Texas Tech 2-yard line, but Rudolph’s third-and-goal keeper was stuffed, and Ammendola again doinked a chip shot field goal off the same right upright.

The Red Raiders had a chance to take their first lead since 14-7 but advanced only to their own 37 before punting the ball back to Oklahoma State with 3:21 remaining. Aided by a 26-yard completion to Ateman on 3rd-and-5, Rudolph put Oklahoma State back in front with his second rushing touchdown, an untouched 16-yard scamper with 1:12 to play.

Texas Tech moved to midfield on its last-gasp drive, but Shimonek fired four straight incomplete passes to end the game.

Rudolph closed the night hitting 27-of-38 throws for 376 yards with three scores and one interception while adding 50 yards and two scores on the ground. It was Rudolph’s 17th 300-yard passing game, breaking a record previously held by Brandon Weeden. Hill ran 30 times for 164 yards, and Washington caught nine passes for 127 yards and a score.

Shimonek completed 29-of-46 passes for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while the Red Raiders eeked out only 54 yards on 26 carries.

It was Oklahoma State’s ninth straight win over the Red Raiders, and evened the all-time series at 21-21-3.

No. 11 Ohio State’s domination a reminder not to count Buckeyes out in Big Ten or CFB Playoff

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Sure, it was only a game against Rutgers (1-4, 0-2 Big Ten), but the No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) looked much more like the Big Ten title favorite they were at the start of the season than at any point this season. J.T. Barrett passed for three touchdowns, Mike Weber rushed for three touchdowns, and the Ohio State defense never gave Rutgers much time to breathe in a 56-0 road win in New Jersey.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano returned to the Rutgers campus for the first time since being fired from the job as head coach of the Scarlet Knights, and he came in with a dominating defensive effort and game plan. Ohio State held Rutgers to 13 first downs and just 209 yards of offense in the shutout. It is the second straight shutout Ohio State has pitched against Rutgers in as many seasons (Ohio State won 58-0 last year).

The shutout for Ohio State was preserved in the final minute when a late field goal attempt simply to get any points on the scoreboard went bouncing off the upright.

Since losing at home to Big 12 frontrunner Oklahoma in Week 2, Ohio State has outscored their last three opponents by a score of 141-28. The bigger challenges still are coming later this season for Ohio State, but this stretch was needed after taking a loss at home and being knocked down a few pegs in the pecking order in the Big Ten and College Football Playoff picture. With plenty of time to rebound, Ohio State needed to get the offense on track during this stretch before having to deal with games against Penn State (Oct. 28), a road trip to Iowa (Nov. 4), and the regular season finale in Ann Arbor against Michigan (Nov. 25). Ohio State still looks every bit the Big Ten contender they were supposed to be, and right now they are taking care of business the way they needed after the early loss to the Sooners.

Ohio State will be back home next week for a game against a surprising Maryland team. The Terrapins have been hurt by injuries but managed to win on the road against Minnesota on Saturday. This should be a much more difficult road test for Maryland. Ohio State won last year’s game, 62-3.

Rutgers will get a week off to regroup and give it another shot to pick up a win in Big Ten play. Rutgers returns to the field on Oct. 14 with a road trip to Illinois.

Offense clicks for No. 13 Auburn in waltz over No. 24 Mississippi State

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When it all clicks, this is what a Gus Malzahn team is supposed to look like.

The 13th-ranked Tigers got an ultra-efficient night from quarterback Jarrett Stidham, a 100-yard effort from running back Kerryon Johnson and a ferocious defensive effort to pound No. 24 Mississippi State 49-10 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn accepted the ball to open the game and immediately raced 75 yards in seven plays — all of them runs. Johnson had the key run, a 59-yarder to take the ball from the Auburn 36-yard line to the Mississippi State 5, and the finisher, a 1-yard plunge. After a fumble on their next possession, Auburn made atonement by again racing nearly the length of the field. This time they moved 77 yards in five snaps, culminating in a 7-yard strike from Stidham to Ryan Davis.

Stidham’s second touchdown pass, a 47-yard strike to Will Hastings, effectively put the game out of reach, staking Auburn to a 21-3 lead with 13:38 left in the second quarter.

The Bullodgs posted their best offensive possession of the night in their final touch of the first half, a 77-yard march capped by a Nick Fitzgerald 5-yard toss to Justin Johnson.

Auburn (4-1, 2-0 SEC) shut the door for good on its first possession of the second half. Just like the start of the game, the Tigers moved the length of the field — literally this time, moving a full 99 yards — to set up a 2-yard Johnson plunge. Johnson added one more 1-yard burst early in the fourth quarter and Javaris Davis put the exclamation point on the night with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown on the next possession. Backup quarterback Malik Willis completed the scoring with a 67-yard scoring dash with 3:04 to play.

The Tigers’ offense played its best night of the season, as Stidham connected on 13-of-16 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns while Johnson carried 23 times for 116 yards and three scores. The defense punished Fitzgerald throughout the night, limiting him to 13-of-33 passing for 157 yards with a touchdown and two interception plus 13 carries for a hard-earned 56 yards.

For Mississippi State (3-2, 1-2 SEC) the loss serves as a severe and bruising humbling. The Bulldogs were riding high after a 37-7 blowout of LSU in Starkville — a win that has aged like a sippy cup of milk left in your child’s car seat on a July afternoon — Mississippi State has lost consecutive games to top-15 opponents Georgia and Auburn by a combined score of 80-13.

This was a game that looks as we sit here five weeks into the season as a battle for the right to be the second-best team in the SEC West, and it’s clear that Auburn holds that distinction. And with a performance like this, No. 2 may not be all Auburn has to settle for.

No. 7 Georgia waxes Tennessee in fatal blow for the Butch Jones era

Associated Press
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There would be no Hail Mary to bail out the Vols this time.

No. 7 Georgia dominated Tennessee from the opening stop and never let up, cruising to a 41-0 victory that could prove to be the final blow of the Butch Jones era in Knoxville.

The Bulldog domination began literally from the first snap, as Quentin Dormady was intercepted by Tyrique McGhee on the very first play from scrimmage. That pick set up a 38-yard Rodrigo Blankenship to put Georgia (5-0, 2-0 SEC) up for good.

The Vols’ next two possessions went three-and-out, and the second led to a 7-play, 54-yard touchdown march capped by a 12-yard scoring strike from Jake Fromm to Javon Wims. Fromm completed Georgia’s next scoring drive — an 87-yard marathon — on a 9-yard scamper on a 3rd-and-goal, staking the Dogs to a 17-0 lead with 7:13 left before halftime.

Another Dormady interception — though this one ricocheted off the leg of his intended receiver into the hands of Georgia safety J.R. Reed, who returned it 34 yards to the Tennessee 26-yard line — set up Fromm’s second rushing touchdown, a zone-read keeper to bury the Vols at 24-0 just before the half.

Sony Michel added a 31-yard rushing score late in the third quarter. Brian Herrian punched in a 1-yard score in the fourth quarter, and David Martin completed the scoring with a 19-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining.

Georgia’s defense utterly owned Tennessee’s offense, limiting Dormady to 5-of-16 passing for 64 yards with two picks and a fumble before he was pulled for Jarrett Guarantano. Six Vols rushers combined to carry 29 times for just 62 yards. The Bulldogs pounded out 285 rushing yards, led by Nick Chubb‘s 109 yards on 16 attempts. The only drama for Kirby Smart‘s team moving forward is who to play at quarterback. Fromm out-played his stats (7-of-15 for 84 yards with a touchdown and a pick, with two rushing scores) and effectively moved the offense up and down the field. But competition is on the way, as opening day starter Jacob Eason returned to action in mop up duty.

Tennessee is still 3-2 (0-2 SEC) this season with a likely bowl appearance waiting, but patience for the Volunteers’ fifth-year coach was at an all-time low before Saturday’s blowout — and Jones himself knew it, as evidenced by his anti-media rant on Monday. Jones has failed to deliver Tennessee its first SEC East championship since 2007, and Saturday’s loss — coupled with the Hail Mary defeat to Florida two weeks ago — all but guaranteed the streak of title-less seasons will stretch to 11. Jones blew golden opportunities to win the division in 2015 and ’16, with Florida and Georgia clearly down but obviously retooling, and the frustration over his failure to cash in was exacerbated by his everything-is-fine-here demeanor — as if he was hired to go 18-8 over the 2-season stretch and nothing more, while conveniently ignoring Tennessee’s 9-7 SEC mark over that span, including an inexcusable 4-4 mark last season despite beating both the Gators and the Bulldogs.

This loss will likely make a comeback effort for Jones impossible, whether or not his official dismissal comes later this weekend or at a to-be-determined date in the fall. Georgia’s players were more talented and executed better than Tennessee’s but, worse than anything for Jones, they simply tried harder than the Vols. CBS cameras captured shot after shot after shot of Georgia players refusing to be tackled, and found none of the the opposite. And when Tennessee did fight as hard as, a 44-yard completion to John Kelly, it still ended in a fumble.

No. 10 Wisconsin uses strong second half to power past Northwestern

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After being locked in a defensive battle at home, No. 10 Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) established control of the game and sent Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) home with a 33-24 defeat in Madison.

Northwestern was down two scores when Clayton Thorson was picked off over the middle by Natrell Jamerson, who then returned the interception for the knockout blow early in the fourth quarter.

It was Jamerson’s second interception of the day for the Badgers on a day that saw the Wisconsin defense really set the tone. Although Northwestern held a narrow lead at halftime, Wisconsin managed to key the victory by holding Justin Jackson to just 25 rushing yards on nine attempts. Northwestern also converted just two of 13 third downs and accumulated 147 yards of total offense before putting together a drive later in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats did trim the lead down to 31-24 with a chance to work the field for a possible game-tying score, but then Thorson took an awful safety that never should have been taken.

The Badgers were able to overcome three turnovers in the first half by allowing just three points off turnovers. That came at the beginning of the game when Wisconsin lost a fumble on the first play of the game, but the Wildcats could not gain much yardage and had to settle for the field goal. Not being able to capitalize on mistakes haunted Northwestern as the game went on.

Wisconsin’s defense continues to shine this season, and with a favorable schedule ahead of them, the Badgers look ready to make a return to the Big Ten championship game the way things are lining up right now around the division.

Wisconsin will be on the road next week to take on Nebraska in Lincoln. The Badgers have dominated Nebraska since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten. Wisconsin is 5-1 against Nebraska since 2011, including a 70-31 victory in the 2012 Big Ten championship game.

Northwestern will return home to Evanston next week for a showdown against Penn State. Northwestern has won the last two meetings between the two schools, with wins in 2014 and 2015.