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Auburn wins another wild one; Tide rolls

- Associated Press - Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another wild ending and another Auburn victory.

The Tigers might not be as good as they were last season, but they still have a knack for pulling out the close games.

Auburn backup safety Ryan Smith stopped Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf just shy of the goal line on the final play to preserve the Tigers' 41-34 win over the 16th-ranked Bulldogs.

A week after needing two touchdowns in the final 2:09 to beat Utah State, defending national champion Auburn extended its winning streak to 17 games.

Behind Cam Newton, the Tigers were never out of a game last year and were at their best when it was close. They came from 24-0 down to beat Alabama and won the BCS title game against Oregon on a last-second field goal.

The Tigers might not be able to keep up this kind of winning for another season, especially with a defense that allowed 531 yards to Mississippi State. Auburn still needs to face SEC West rivals LSU, Arkansas and Alabama.

But the dramatic victory against Mississippi State might get the Tigers back in the rankings.

The third-ranked Crimson Tide easily had no such problems, easily dispatching No. 23 Penn State 27-11 in front of 107,846 at Beaver Stadium.

The other crazy game in the SEC involved South Carolina and Georgia. The Gamecocks sent Bulldogs coach Mark Richt to his first 0-2 start with a 45-42 victory.

No. 2 LSU 49, Northwestern State 3

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Spencer Ware and Michael Ford ran for two scores apiece and LSU overwhelmed Northwestern State.

LSU (2-0) led 28-3 by halftime, allowing Miles to give a number of starters some rest in advance of the Tigers' Southeastern Conference opener at Mississippi State on Thursday night.

Coveted junior college transfer quarterback Zach Mettenberger made his debut in relief of LSU starter Jarrett Lee to open the second half.

After Lee completed 9 of 10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, Mettenberger went 8 of 11 for 92 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass.

John Shaughnessy kicked a 44-yard field goal for Northwestern State (1-1), the only points the Demons have scored against LSU in 11 meetings.

No. 3 Alabama 27, No. 23 Penn State 11

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) _ A.J. McCarron was poised and efficient in a rare trip into Big Ten country for No. 3 Alabama, throwing for 163 yards and a touchdown against No. 23 Penn State in a 27-11 victory on Saturday.

Alabama completed a sweep of the home-and-home series between the two storied programs with a methodical and smothering performance reminiscent of last year's 24-3 win in Tuscaloosa.

Both teams came into the second week of the season with unsettled quarterback issues. At Alabama (2-0), those appear to be settled.

McCarron was 19 for 31 with no turnovers and a 5-yard touchdown pass through traffic to Michael Williams in the first quarter.

For Penn State (1-1), Nittany Lions fans might be wondering if either Robert Bolden or Matt McGloin are the answer. They combined to go 12 for 39 for 144 yards.

No. 5 Florida St 62, Charleston Southern 10

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ EJ Manuel threw for a career-best 329 yards and four touchdowns Saturday in No. 5 Florida State's tune-up for next week's showdown against top-ranked Oklahoma.

The Buccaneers, who lost 62-0 last week at Central Florida, didn't complete a pass or have a first down in the first half, and trailed 34-0.

Manuel hit Bert Reed on two short TD passes while the Seminoles' defense limited Charleston Southern to 84 total yards.

Charleston Southern (0-2) snapped a drought of 11 quarters without a touchdown when Teddy Allen flipped a 3-yard touchdown pass to Carson Leshin early in the third quarter.

Florida State (2-0) amassed 29 first downs and 647 yards offense while holding Charleston Southern to three first downs. The Seminoles had a 371-8 yardage advantage in the first half.

No. 6 Stanford 44, Duke 14

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ Andrew Luck matched a career high by throwing four touchdown passes for Stanford.

Luck was 20 of 28 for 290 yards with touchdown passes of 60 and 3 yards to Coby Fleener, 10 yards to Chris Owusu and 3 yards to Zach Ertz.

Stanford (2-0) won its 10th straight game dating to last season and claimed a rare regular-season win on the East Coast while denying the Blue Devils (0-2) their first Top 25 win since 1994.

Lee Butler returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown to pull Duke to 10-7 late in the first half. Luck then led four straight touchdown drives to turn it into a rout before exiting one play into the fourth quarter.

No. 8 Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 0

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Russell Wilson threw three touchdowns and Wisconsin overcame a slow start.

With Oregon State's defense stuffing running backs Montee Ball and James White early on, Wisconsin pounced on special teams mistakes and leaned on Wilson and the defense to do the rest.

In his second career start for the Badgers (2-0), Wilson was 17 of 21 for 189 yards and the three touchdowns, including a pair to tight end Jacob Pedersen. Wisconsin's running game broke through after halftime, and Ball had a pair of touchdowns in the second half.

Sean Mannion most of the snaps at quarterback while the game still was in doubt but struggled to move the ball for Oregon State (0-2).

No. 10 Nebraska 42, Fresno State 29

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Ameer Abdullah returned a kickoff 100 yards after Fresno State made it a two-point game in the fourth quarter, and Taylor Martinez's 46-yard touchdown run sealed the win.

Martinez ran 15 times for 166 yards and two TDs and passed for another as the Huskers (2-0) turned back an upset bid by the Bulldogs (0-2), who were four-touchdown underdogs.

Derek Carr threw incomplete to a well-covered A.J. Johnson on a 2-point try after his 26-yard TD pass to Josh Harper pulled the Bulldogs to 28-26.

Abdullah, who set a school record with 211 kick return yards, then made the biggest play of the night to break open the game.

Fresno's Robbie Rouse ran 36 times for 169 yards and Carr was 20 of 41 for 254 yards.

No. 11 Virginia Tech 17, East Carolina 10

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ Josh Oglesby ran for the go-ahead 10-yard score with 7:30 left, helping Virginia Tech give coach Frank Beamer his 200th win at the school.

David Wilson ran for 138 yards to lead the Hokies (2-0) and quarterback Logan Thomas struggled in his second career start while the Hokies also committed 12 penalties and committed two turnovers, but their defense completely shut down the Pirates' high-powered passing attack and held East Carolina (0-2) to 112 total yards.

That included minus-15 yards rushing, second fewest in ECU history.

Michael Dobson ran for a 2-yard touchdown for the Pirates. But in an unusual twist, it was their defense _ among the nation's worst last year _ that kept East Carolina in it until late.

No. 12 South Carolina 45, Georgia 42

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ South Carolina gained the upper hand in the Southeastern Conference East by taking advantage of every Georgia mistake.

The No. 12 Gamecocks scored twice off turnovers, including defensive end Melvin Ingram's second touchdown with 3:12 remaining and held on to beat error-prone Georgia.

South Carolina (2-0, 1-0 SEC) set up another touchdown with a long fumble return, and the 276-pound Ingram scored his first career TD on a 68-yard run with a fake punt. Georgia (0-2, 0-1) got four touchdown passes from Aaron Murray but simply couldn't overcome all the major blunders.

Antonio Allen returned an interception 25 yards for a TD in the third quarter. After Marcus Lattimore put the Gamecocks back ahead, 38-35, on a 3-yard run with 3 1/2 minutes left, one more mistake doomed the Bulldogs.

Freshman Jadeveon Clowney burst through the line without being blocked and threw down Murray, who lost the ball before slamming the ground. Ingram batted it toward the end zone and picked it up there for an improbable two-touchdown performance by the fifth-year senior.

No. 13 Oregon 69, Nevada 20

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) _ Darron Thomas matched a school record with six touchdown passes and No. 13 Oregon bounced back from its season-opening loss.

LaMichael James ran for 67 yards and a touchdown, caught a scoring pass from Thomas and returned a punt for a score to help the Ducks (1-1) to their 17th straight victory at Autzen Stadium.

True freshman running back De'Anthony Thomas caught two passes _ both for touchdowns _ for 93 yards.

Tyler Lantrip, a fifth-year senior making his first career start, completed 21 of 35 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown for Nevada, which was playing its season opener.

The loss snapped Nevada's seven-game winning streak, which dated to last season when the Wolf Pack went 13-1 and were ranked No. 11 to end the season.

No. 14 Arkansas 52, New Mexico 3

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Tyler Wilson threw for 259 yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns.

Marquel Wade also returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown for the Razorbacks (2-0), who now have three special teams' touchdowns in their first two games. Joe Adams returned a pair of punts for touchdowns in the first game.

Wilson's second touchdown was a 7-yard plunge into the end zone late in the first half, during which he barreled over a New Mexico defender. However, the junior didn't return in the second half with concussion-like symptoms and didn't appear on the sidelines until midway through the third quarter.

The Lobos (0-2), who allowed 10 quarterback sacks and lost three fumbles in a season-opening loss to Colorado State, didn't do much better against the Razorbacks. They were outgained 641-255 in total yardage.

No. 15 Ohio State 27, Toledo 22

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ The Buckeyes' 90 years of in-state domination almost ended on a single play.

John Simon pressured backup Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens, forcing an incompletion on fourth down with 48 seconds left.

The Rockets (1-1) drove from their own 28 and were 17 yards away from becoming the first in-state team to beat the Buckeyes since 1921. Ohio State is 43-0-1 against its closest neighbors since that long ago 7-6 setback to Oberlin.

Toledo led 15-7 after a quarter and was on top 22-21 before Carlos Hyde went 3 yards for the winning points late in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes (2-0) only had to run out the clock on their last possession, but freshman Rod Smith lost a fumble to give the Rockets a final shot.

Auburn 41, No. 16 Mississippi State 34

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) _ Ryan Smith stopped the Bulldogs' Chris Relf at the goal line on the final play.

Relf kept the ball on an option and headed for the end zone before Smith went low and brought the 240-pound quarterback down for the Tigers (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), who had gone from defending national champions to unranked underdog after needing a furious rally to beat Utah State.

This time they held on against the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1), who nearly pulled off a similar comeback to force overtime.

They marched 66-plus yards in the final 2:52 with only one pass. Before the game's last play, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen raced to an official, signaling timeout, and managed to get three seconds put back on the clock.

Daren Bates, Jake Holland and Neiko Thorpe had led a swarm of defenders to stop Vick Ballard for a short loss on the previous play.

Mike Dyer rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, who extended major college football's longest win streak to 17 games.

No. 17 Michigan State 44, Florida Atlantic 0

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Kirk Cousins threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and Michigan State held Florida Atlantic to one first down.

B.J. Cunningham caught five passes for 73 yards, breaking a tie with Matt Trannon for Michigan State's career lead in receptions. The Spartans (2-0) led 27-0 at halftime and ended up outgaining FAU 434-48.

The Owls (0-2) have scheduled a brutal opening month. They opened at Florida and play at Auburn in two weeks.

Cousins finished 16 of 21, and backup Andrew Maxwell also played quite a bit.

Michigan State has held an opponent to one first down only one other time _ against Maryland in 1944.

No. 18 Florida 39, UAB 0

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Chris Rainey ran for 119 yards and a touchdown and Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals.

The Gators (2-0) dominated both sides of the lines of scrimmage for the second consecutive week and finished their early tune-ups by outgaining their opponents 979 yards to 349.

Next up: Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee. The Volunteers should provide more of a test for a team with plenty of unanswered questions on both sides of the ball. This much is certain: Rainey is clearly the team's top playmaker.

A week after becoming the first player in school history to score touchdowns rushing, receiving and on a return, Rainey was even better against the Blazers (0-1).

A fifth-year senior trying to overhaul his image after last year's five-game suspension, Rainey gouged UAB for chunks of yardage nearly every time he touched the ball. Spin moves, jukes, ankle-breaking cuts, Rainey did it all.

No. 19 West Virginia 55, Norfolk State 12

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) _ Geno Smith threw for 371 yards and four scores and the Mountaineers scored on their first seven possessions of the second half to erase a two-point halftime deficit to an FCS opponent.

West Virginia (2-0) needed just three plays to find the end zone after halftime, and after Smith hit Ivan McCartney with a 39-yard TD toss early in the fourth, the Mountaineers had scored five touchdowns in a 15-minute span.

Smith finished 20 of 34 passing after going 8 of 18 in the first half.

West Virginia's defense woke up, too, limiting Norfolk State (1-1) to two first downs in the second half. The Mountaineers have yet to allow an offensive touchdown in their first two games.

No. 22 South Florida 37, Ball State 7

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ B.J. Daniels threw for a career-best 359 yards and one touchdown.

USF coach Skip Holtz was interested to see how his players would react to being ranked for the first time in nearly two years, and the Bulls (2-0) responded with a focused, dominating performance.

Taking up where they left off in forcing five turnovers during a surprising 23-20 season-opening victory at Notre Dame, the Bulls knocked the ball loose from Ball State's Phil Dudley on the opening kickoff. Mark Joyce picked up the fumble and ran 17 yards to put USF ahead just 8 seconds into the game.

Kayvon Webster's 96-yard, first-quarter fumble return got the Bulls rolling against Notre Dame. The fastest TD in USF's relatively brief football history dropped Ball State (1-1), which did not have a turnover in its season opener against Indiana, into a hole that the overmatched Cardinals would not come close to escaping.

No. 24 Texas 17, BYU 16

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Texas has seen something like this before: A quarterback named McCoy leading a late rally to win, pumping his fists all the way.

From 2006-2009 it was Colt McCoy, who won an NCAA record 45 games. On Saturday night, it was Colt's younger brother Case coming off the bench to help spark the No. 24 Longhorns.

Texas (2-0) pulled ineffective starter Garrett Gilbert in the second quarter and handed the offense to sophomore McCoy and freshman quarterback David Ash in a rotation that flipped a game the Cougars (1-1) were dominating.

McCoy and Ash combined to hit 9 of 11 passes for 92 yards and Ash also rushed for 39 yards. McCoy carried the load on Texas' winning drive, twice connecting with Jaxon Shipley for big gains before Cody Johnson punched in his second touchdown for the lead with 8:46 to play.

No. 25 TCU 35, Air Force 19

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ TCU brushed off the Baylor blues and routed Air Force for its 18th straight win in the Mountain West Conference.

The Horned Frogs (1-1) were efficient in bouncing back from their stunning 50-48 loss at Baylor last week that ended their BCS-best 25-game regular-season winning streak.

And they did it without their star running back and top tackler, as tailback Ed Wesley (shoulder) and linebacker Tanner Brock (foot) didn't make the trip after aggravating existing injuries in the Frogs' opener.

The Falcons (1-1) had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Wesley was replaced by Matthew Tucker, who scored on a 1-yard leap and a 3-yard run in the first half as TCU built a 21-0 lead.

Tucker finished with 95 yards on 16 carries, and Waymon James rushed 13 times for 55 yards and a TD.

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