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Derrick Henry, Kyle Allen push No. 10 Alabama past No. 9 Texas A&M

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It’s pretty tough to beat Alabama when Derrick Henry rumbles for two touchdowns. It’s nay impossible when your own quarterback pitches in three more. Henry’s pair of scores and Kyle Allen‘s three pick-sixes doomed No. 9 Texas A&M in a 41-23 loss to No. 10 Alabama Saturday afternoon in College Station.

After a pair of punts to open the game, Allen opened the scoring for Alabama when Minkah Fitzpatrick snagged a misfire and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter. Henry raced in untouched from 55 yards out two-and-a-half minutes later to give the Tide a 14-0 lead, and a 73-0 run over the Aggies dating back to last season’s 59-0 demolition.

Taylor Bertolet put A&M on the scoreboard with a 54-yard field goal late in the first quarter, but Henry scored again to open the second quarter, this time a six-yard plunge, to push the lead to 21-3. After another Bertolet field goal, Texas A&M threatened to pull within one score, driving deep into Alabama territory, but Allen again misfired, and Tide safety Eddie Jackson capitalized on the mistake with a 93-yard race back, turning a potential 21-13 deficit to a 28-6 hole with 6:28 to go.

But from there, the Aggies’ defense stiffened – helped greatly by Alabama standout center Ryan Kelly leaving the game with an apparent concussion – and the Tide special teams took over for the A&M offense as the unit that couldn’t get out of its own way.

It started when Christian Kirk raced a punt back 68 yards for a touchdown to close the scoring in the first half, and continued into the second when Alabama return man Cyrus Jones fumbled at his own 47. Allen hit Ricky Seals-Jones for a 44-yard gain, then again for a three-yard toss, and suddenly 28-6 turned into 28-20.

But where Alabama capitalized on its chances, Texas A&M did not. After Myles Garrett blocked a J.K. Scott punt immediately after the Seals-Jones touchdown, allowing Texas A&M to take over just 29 yards away from a potential game-tying touchdown, the Aggies moved backward. Allen took a five-yard sack on 3rd-and-10 and Bertolet’s ensuing 52-yard field goal try was five yards short. And just as soon as A&M was back in the game, the Aggies were out of it.

Alabama added two Adam Griffith field goals to push the lead to 34-20 and, with the score at 34-23 with 5:18 remaining, Fitzpatrick again intercepted Allen and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving Alabama its final score at 41-23.

For the game, Allen was 20-of-40 for 263 yards with a touchdown and three pick-sixes. Freshman Kyler Murray played sparingly, completing 2-of-4 passes for 21 yards and tossing in another interception. Texas A&M never established the run, credited with only 32 yards on the day. Tra Carson led the Aggies’ ground efforts with 13 carries for 46 yards.

Henry, meanwhile, totaled 32 carries for 236 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second-most rushing yards ever for an Alabama running back since Nick Saban‘s arrival and the most allowed by a Texas A&M defense since Texas’s Cedric Benson rumbled for 283 yards in 2003. Each member of the Aggie defensive line – primarily Garrett and defensive tackles Zaycoven Henderson and Daylon Mack – had their moments, but Henry still got his yards when Alabama needed them. Jake Coker added an economical 19-of-25 passing for 138 yards plus 13 rushing yards.

But, when Henry rumbles for 200-plus and the opposing quarterback throws more touchdowns for your team than his own, 150 yards is all you really need, isn’t it?

No. 7 Utah thumping UCLA in all phases at halftime of Pac-12 South showdown

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In the past month or so of Pac-12 play, no team has been quite as dominant as No. 7 Utah has been. In the same span, no team has looked more improved than UCLA.

The two clashed on Saturday night in Salt Lake City and staged a rather interesting battle for the top of the Pac-12 South standings, with the Utes jumping out to a 28-3 halftime lead over the pesky Bruins in what is shaping up to be a defining game for both sides the rest of the month.

UCLA had their chances to make this far more interesting than the score would have indicated, having blown several opportunities inside their opponent’s 35 yard line (grand total of three points on four trips). Worst of all QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson fumbled while taking a sack, which Mika Taufa picked off the turf and rumbled 68 yards the other way. That turned a close game into a bit of a runaway in the final minutes of the second quarter and spoiled a solid initial effort for the Bruins offense that had nearly doubled (62 yards) the amount of yards rushing that the Utes normally allow for an entire game.

It took awhile for Utah’s offense to get warmed up just like their counterparts on the other side of the ball but when things started clicking, it was all coming downhill for the home squad. Tyler Huntley threw for 145 yards on just 11 attempts and scrambled for a touchdown run before the midway mark while tailback Zach Moss was already up 116 yards and two trips into the end zone on a robust 9.7 yards per carry (he also chipped in with two catches for 65 yards too).

This is a huge game for both sides and it will be interesting to see how each responds coming out of the locker room given how both are typically second half teams. UCLA is still fighting to get to a bowl game this season but will have their hands full trying to pull of another miraculous road rally in a chilly environment as Utah hopes to impress the CFP Selection Committee some more and tighten their grip on the division standings at the same time.

Appalachian State scores 28 straight points to lead Georgia State at halftime

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Looking for a game or two to keep on your Group of 5 radar this evening? No. 25 Appalachian State is leading Georgia State 35-21 in Atlanta as the Mountaineers hope to remain in the running for a spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup at the end of the year.

Georgia State got the scoring started after the defense came up tall with two consecutive three-and-outs. After being forced to punt after a three-and-out, Appalachian State recovered a Georgia State fumble on the punt return by Quavian White. But the Panthers forced a second straight three-and-out to force another punt. Dan Ellington completed a short touchdown pass to Devin Gentry at the end of an 84-yard drive for the 7-0 lead.

Appalachian State answered with Zac Thomas completing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Corey Sutton, but big plays by the Panthers later in the first quarter would see Georgia State build a 21-7 lead. A 67-yard run by Destin Coates gave Georgia State the lead right back, and a Chris Bacon interception return for a touchdown off Thomas had the Panthers up two touchdowns. Thomas shrugged off the mistake and led the Mountaineers on a touchdown drive once they stepped back on the field. Another pass to Sutton was good for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-14 before the end of the first quarter.

The Mountaineers came back to tie things up at 21-21 with a Thomas touchdown run midway through the second quarter, and the defense gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the game when Shaun Jolley picked off a pass by Ellington and ran 30 yards the other way for the go-ahead touchdown.

We’ll see if Appalachian State can avoid taking its second loss of the season and remain in the driver’s seat for a spot in the first Sun Belt Conference championship game at the end of the year.

No. 13 Baylor takes huge lead over No. 10 Oklahoma to locker room

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Charlie Brewer has out Jalen Hurts-ed Jalen Hurts, making plays with his arm and his feet, while Hurts has committed two turnovers that led to two Baylor touchdowns. As a result, No. 13 Baylor holds a stunning 31-10 lead over No. 10 Oklahoma at the half in Waco.

Oklahoma forced a Baylor punt to open the game and, taking over at their own 47, quickly moved into the red zone, but Jalen Hurts was sacked on a 3rd-and-5 and the Sooners settled for a 39-yard Gabe Brkic field goal.

Charlie Brewer had Denzel Mims streaking wide open for what would have been a 78-yard touchdown on the first play of the ensuing drive, but skipped the ball to him. It didn’t matter. He hit Mims for 11 yards on the next snap, kicking off a 78-yard touchdown drive that Brewer himself capped with a 2-yard keeper.

After forcing one of the rarer sights in college football — an Oklahoma three-and-out — Baylor went up 14-3 on a 30-yard connection that missed earlier, as Mims got about as open as a receiver can get on a 30-yard fade route.

Facing an uncharacteristic 14-3 deficit, Oklahoma added to its own misery with a pair of Hurts turnovers. The first came deep in his own territory, when the quarterback placed the ball on the ground in an attempt to steady himself and simply lost the ball, which Terrel Bernard recovered for Baylor at the OU 27. Brewer kept for 23 yards on the final play of the first quarter, then added the final four on the first snap of the second.

On Oklahoma’s next possession, the Sooners reached the Baylor 36 when Grayland Arnold stepped in front of a Hurts pass and returned it 71 yards to the OU 9, where he was finally tackled by Hurts himself. A second Brewer-to-Mims scoring strike put Baylor up 28-3 at the 11:02 mark of the second quarter, and putting the Sooners on the wrong end of a 48-3 run dating back to the fourth quarter of the Iowa State game.

Oklahoma finally stopped the bleeding with an un-OU like 14-play, 75-yard, near 6-minute drive, one that was extended when a 4th-and-5 incompletion at the Bears’ 33 was wiped away due to defensive holding by Baylor’s Jameson Houston. Hurts’ 5-yard pass to Austin Stogner made the score 28-10 with 5:06 left in the first half. He closed the half 8-of-14 for 80 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing 12 times for 26 yards with a fumble.

Baylor answered the Sooners’ prolonged drive with one of its own, moving 61 yards in 13 plays, but stalling at the the OU 11 as the Bears settled for a 28-yard John Mayers field goal with three seconds left before halftime.

Brewer finished the half 13-of-18 for 140 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 14 times for a game-high 77 yards and two more scores.

OU will receive to open the second half.

New Mexico State, Rice win; Akron now lone remaining winless FBS team

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And then there was one.

Heading into Week 12, New Mexico State and Rice were two of three winless teams at the FBS level.  Playing FCS Incarnate Word at home, NMSU cruised to a 41-28ricericrice win to secure its first “W” of the season; heading east to Murfreesboro, Rice hung 31 points on Middle Tennessee State in the first half and then hung on in the second for a tight 31-28 win.

The Aggies’ win snapped an 11-game losing streak — they have still lost 14 straight to FBS teams — while the Owls, who came in as 14-point underdogs, had lost nine in a row prior to today.

So, with those twin wins, it leaves Akron as the lone FBS that has yet to win a game this season — and, based on past performance and future opponents, there’s no win in sight.

Akron has played 10 games this season, and, obviously, lost them all.  The closest they’ve come to a non-defeat?  An eight-point loss to a UMass team that’s 1-10 on the season.  The other nine games, they’ve lost by a combined score of 326-77.

For Week 13, Akron has drawn Miami (OH), which is one win away from winning the MAC East.  The following week, they get a 4-6 Ohio team that has beaten them 10 of the last 11 times they’ve played.

So, yeah, good luck Zips.