Clemson Makes a Statement — College Football Week 5 Recap
The two best teams in the nation looked unbeatable this weekend. Here’s a recap of the most interesting games:
Clemson Rolled Virginia Tech
Kelly Bryant ran for 94 yards and threw a touchdown pass and second-ranked Clemson pounded 12th-ranked Virginia Tech, 31-17, in Blacksburg, Virginia on Saturday night. The convincing victory gave the defending national champion Tigers their third win over a Top 25 team this season. They also gained ground on No. 1 Alabama in the new AP poll announced Sunday.
Bryant, who replaced NFL Draft pick Deshaun Watson at quarterback at the start of the season, was the biggest question mark for Clemson (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) coming into 2017. While he’s been inconsistent at times, the Tigers just keep winning, even in hostile environments like the Hokies’ Lane Stadium.
Josh Jackson threw for 251 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions for Virginia Tech (4-1, 0-1). He was sacked twice by the impressive Clemson defense.
Alabama Looked Great, Too
Remember those highly competitive Alabama-Mississippi games of the last few years? Things are different now. Jalen Hurts threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score and the top-ranked Crimson Tide crushed the Rebels, 66-3, on Saturday night.
Alabama (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) completed a two-week stretch where they outscored opponents 125-3. The Crimson Tide look primed to make a third College Football Playoff championship meeting with Clemson happen this January.
Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1) continued to look lost since head coach Hugh Freeze resigned under university investigation before the season.
USC’s Luck Ran Out
Luke Falk threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and No. 16 Washington State upset No. 5 Southern California 30-27 on Erik Powell’s 32-yard field goal with 1:40 left to play on Friday night in Pullman, Washington.
The Cougars won for the first time since 2002 against USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) — a team who courted trouble since the first week of the season. Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold ran for two touchdowns, but he threw for just 164 yards and no scores with an interception. Three of his offensive lineman — Toa Lobendahn, Chuma Edoga and Viane Talamaivao — were out for most of the game, which created consistent pressure on him in the pocket. Darnold’s fumble while being sacked with 1:27 remaining sealed the loss.
Jamal Morrow ran for 91 yards and a score for Washington State (5-0, 2-0). His 35-yard run in the fourth quarter set up Powell’s kick that may have booted USC from the national title hunt.
LSU Paid Troy to Embarrass Them at Home
Jordan Chunn ran for 191 yards and a touchdown, and Troy capitalized on four turnovers to shock 25th-ranked LSU, 24-21, in Baton Rouge on Saturday night. The loss turned up the heat on Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron, who replaced the fired Les Miles last fall.
The Trojans almost knocked off LSU (3-2) back in 2008, but the Tigers rallied from a 31-3 deficit to win that game. They weren’t as fortunate this time and their fans left the cavernous stadium shaking their heads and voicing their displeasure.
After surging ahead 17-0 early, Troy (4-1) held on to win and became the first non-conference opponent to beat LSU at home since UAB in 2000 — a streak of 49 straight games.
Orgeron and the Tigers have a difficult road ahead: seven SEC games, including next week’s trip to Florida. The 21st-ranked Gators beat Vanderbilt 38-24 on Saturday even though they lost starting quarterback Luke Del Rio for the season due to a broken collarbone.
Bryce Love Ran into the Heisman Race
Stanford’s Bryce Love rushed for a school-record 301 yards and three touchdowns in the Cardinal’s easy win over Arizona State 34-24 on Saturday. Love’s big day broke Christian McCaffrey’s school record and put him over 1,000 yards rushing (1,088) for the year. The total was the fourth-highest in NCAA history after five games, trailing only Northern Illinois’ Garrett Wolfe in 2006, USC’s Marcus Allen in 1981 and Texas Tech’s Byron Hanspard in 1996.
As you may recall, Allen won the Heisman Trophy in 1981. Love announced his candidacy for this year’s award with the huge performance against the Sun Devils. He’ll stay in the race, with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
Barkely didn’t post huge rushing numbers in fourth-ranked Penn State’s 45-14 easy victory over Indiana on Saturday, but he returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and he tossed a 16-yard scoring pass to DaeSean Hamilton.
Elsewhere in the Heisman chase, Penny rushed for 107 yards in 19th-ranked SDSU’s 34-28 win over Northern Illinois. His candidacy gets more viable as the Aztecs keep winning and stay ranked.
Rudolph threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two other scores, and the 15th-ranked Cowboys survived a shootout with Texas Tech, 41-34. Rudolph’s 16-yard touchdown dash with under two minutes to go kept him in the Heisman race and his team in the Big 12 title hunt.
Reigning Heisman winner Jackson threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns and added another 100 yards and a score on the ground in the 17th-ranked Cardinals 55-10 destruction of Murray State. Jackson will need a performance or two like that in ACC play to win the trophy again.
Mayfield and the Sooners were idle. They host Iowa State this Saturday.