11. Mississippi State (7-0) Last Game: W 45-3 vs Mid Tennessee; Next Game: @ Alabama
Previous Rank: 11
The Bulldogs blew open a tight game, scoring three touchdowns in the 3rd quarter of a 10-3 game to run away from the Blue Raiders. Chris Smith caught two of Tyler Russell’s three touchdown passes and LaDarius Perkins had a 64-yard touchdown run as part of a 20-carry, 125 yard day. The Bulldogs were an efficient 9-12 on 3rd downs and their balanced offense saw them throw for 215 yards and run for 231. After away three of the weaker SEC teams and a weak non-conference schedule, it is about to get serious for Mississippi State as they visit #1 Alabama this week, followed by games against Texas A&M and on the road at LSU.
12. Georgia (6-1) Last Game: W 29-24 @ Kentucky; Next Game: vs Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
Previous Rank: 12
Aaron Murray had a huge day but it was almost not enough for the Bulldogs as they squeezed past the woeful Wildcats in Lexington. Murray was 30-38 passing for 427 yards and four touchdowns and set the school record for career touchdown passes. Tavarres King caught two of his touchdown throws, including a 66-yard reception, while Malcolm Mitchell had 103 yards receiving. A 37-yard Craig McIntosh touchdown run gave Kentucky a 17-16 lead in the 3rd quarter but Murray responded with a pair of touchdown passes and Georgia was able to run out the clock after Kentucky cut the lead to five points. Florida awaits in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party this week as the teams battle for control of the SEC East.
13. Louisville (7-0) Last Game: W 27-25 vs South Florida; Next Game: vs Cincinnati
Previous Rank: 13
The Cardinals almost blew a 21-10 lead before fighting back for a 27-25 behind Teddy Bridgewater’s standout effort. The sophomore from Miami was 21-25 passing for 256 yards and a pair of 2nd half touchdowns to help Louisville overcome a late deficit. South Florida fought back from 11 points down to take a 25-21 lead with 3:09 remaining before Bridgewater went to work. He led the Cardinals back down the field quickly and found Eli Rogers from 11 yards out for the go-ahead score. The extra point was blocked, setting the stage for B.J. Daniels to try to rally the Bulls one last time. He took a sack on 1st down and on the final play was intercepted by Adrian Bushell at the Louisville 10-yard line. The Cardinals face a tough Cincinnati team on Friday night as they continue their undefeated run.
14. Clemson (6-1) Last Game: W 38-17 vs Virginia Tech; Next Game: @ Wake Forest
Previous Rank: 14
Tajh Boyd threw for a touchdown and ran for two more and Jonathan Meeks returned a 2nd quarter interception 74 yards to lead the Tigers to a big win over ACC rival Virginia Tech. Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas was intercepted twice, among four Virginia Tech turnovers, as Clemson was active on defense all day. The Tigers also had two fourth down stops as the defense stepped up on a day when Boyd was not as prolific as usual. Andre Ellington had 96 yards rushing and a score to lead Clemson and despite being out-gained 406-295, the Tigers’ defensive effort was enough to turn back one of their key conference rivals.
15. Rutgers (7-0) Last Game: W 35-10 @ Temple; Next Game: vs Kent State
Previous Rank: 15
Gary Nova threw four 2nd half touchdown passes to lead the Scarlet Knights back from a 10-0 halftime deficit. Rutgers gained just 110 yards in the first two quarters as they struggled to do anything offensively. They exploded in the 3rd quarter, scoring quickly on a 32-yard strike from Nova to Tim Wright. Jawan Jamison and Mark Harrison added touchdown catches in the period as the Knights began to pull away. A 20-yard fumble return for touchdown by Khaseem Greene sealed the deal for Rutgers in the 4th quarter. The Knights held the Owls to just 191 yards of total offense and just 72 through the air while forcing three turnovers. Rutgers has a home non-conference matchup with a tough Kent State team before the schedule gets more difficult to close the season.
16. Texas Tech (6-1) Last Game: W 56-53 @ #23 TCU; Next Game: @ Kansas State
Previous Rank: 16
Seth Doege threw seven touchdown passes in a triple overtime thriller as the Red Raiders outlasted TCU. Doege found Alex Torres for an 8-yard score moments after TCU had taken the lead with a Jaden Oberkrom field goal in the third overtime. Oberkrom had capped a 10-point comeback in regulation for the Horned Frogs with a 42-yard field goal with only 18 seconds remaining before the teams traded touchdowns in the first two extra periods. Eric Ward caught three of Doege’s touchdown throws. The Raiders allowed 516 yards of offense but intercepted Trevone Boykin twice and did just enough to come up with the big win, setting up a huge showdown in Manhattan against Kansas State this week.
17. Boise State (6-1) Last Game: W 32-7 vs UNLV; Next Game: @ Wyoming
Previous Rank: 17
A dominant defensive effort and a pair of D.J. Harper touchdown runs were more than enough for Boise State as they turned away UNLV to take sole possession of first place in the Mountain West Conference. Harper scored on a 10-yard run in the first quarter and added the two-point conversion. After Jay Ajayi added a tough 4-yard run to push the lead to 18-0, Jerrell Gavins scooped up a fumble and returned it 16 yards for another score just before the half. It was the fifth consecutive game that the Broncos have held their opponent scoreless in the 1st half. The only UNLV touchdown came on a fumble recovery that was returned for a score. Joe Southwick was an efficient 22-30 for 243 yards for the Broncos, who are starting to get some rhythm on offense to match their outstanding defense.
18. South Carolina (5-2) Last Game: L 44-11 @ Florida; Next Game: vs Tennessee
Previous Rank: 18
The Gamecocks struggled mightily against a tough Florida defense as they turned the ball over four times and could only manage 191 yards in a big loss. Pushing them virtually out of the SEC East title race, the Gamecocks now must figure out a way to rebound. Connor Shaw was benched after a miserable first half performance and Marcus Lattimore, fighting a hip injury, only had three carries for 13 yards. Three Adam Yates field goals were all the Gamecocks could manage offensively and their defense was outstanding, despite the score, but were consistently put in bad situations by their offense. Shaw fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and the ball was recovered at the 2-yard line. Two more turnovers on a punt and kick return spelled doom for South Carolina.
19. Texas A&M (5-2) Last Game: L 24-19 vs LSU; Next Game: @ Auburn
Previous Rank: 19
After jumping out to an early lead, the Aggies were unable to hold on as they dropped a heartbreaker to new SEC rival LSU. Johnny Manziel, having an outstanding freshman campaign, was intercepted three times and held to just 27 yards rushing after coming into the game as the leading rusher in the conference. The Aggies jumped out to a 12-0 lead behind a Christine Michael touchdown run and a pair of Taylor Bertolet field goals but the Tigers came storming back with two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the half. Following a scoreless third quarter, the Tigers tacked on 10 more points before the Aggies could get back on the board. Texas A&M failed to recover the onside kick and the game was over. They now travel to a struggling Auburn team, hoping to get their season back on track.
20. Stanford (5-2) Last Game: W 21-3 @ California; Next Game: vs Washington State
Previous Rank: 20
In a rare Big Game played before the end of the season, Stanford jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead and held on through a scoreless second half to beat rival Cal for the third consecutive season. Two fourth quarter turnovers by quarterback Josh Nunes thwarted an otherwise spotless performance but Nunes did throw for 214 yards and a score. Stepfan Taylor ran for a tough 189 yards and a score to lead the offense. Tight end Zach Ertz piled up 134 yards receiving and a score while fellow tight end Levine Toilolo caught a touchdown throw from option quarterback Kevin Hogan. Stanford gets an easy one this week with Washington State coming to town followed by a trip to Colorado before things get tough against both top ten teams from the state of Oregon and a season-closing game in the Rose Bowl at UCLA.