Sunday, September 4, 2016

No. 1 Alabama rolls with freshman QB to beat No. 20 USC 52-6

While Nick Saban wants to see improvement, top-ranked Alabama was pretty impressive in the opening of its national-title defense - without a proven quarterback and with Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Derrick Henry in the NFL.
That Crimson Tide defense, down four players taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft last spring, is still physical and dominating, too.
On the season's first Saturday, when two top-five teams lost, freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts threw two touchdown passes to ArDarius Stewartand ran for two more scores in a 52-6 victory over No. 20 Southern California on Saturday night.
"We got off to a little bit of a shaky start in the first quarter, especially on offense," Saban said. "We scored a lot of points, made a lot of big plays, but still our consistency in execution needs to be much improved. ... My focus with our team right now is what can we do better."
At least the Tide is 1-0, unlike No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 5 LSU after their losses Saturday. And No. 16 UCLA lost as well.
USC coach Clay Helton sees Alabama a little different than Saban after the Trojans were held to 194 yards in their most lopsided loss since a 51-0 setback to Notre Dame in 1966.
"Obviously one game does not make a season. We played a very good team," said Helton. "They played to their potential. The cold hard truth is we did not play up to ours."
Stewart was wide open in the end zone behind the secondary when Hurts hit him for a 39-yard score midway through the second quarter that made it 7-3 and put Alabama ahead to stay. They hooked up on a 71-yard touchdown right after halftime for a 24-3 lead, and Hurts later had TD runs of 7 and 6 yards.
"Hopefully it's a statement we're still going to fight, still going to play," Stewart said about the team's performance.
The season-opening win came at AT&T Stadium - the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys - was also where the Crimson Tide started their 2012 and 2015 national championship seasons with victories.
The Tide are 10-0 in season openers under Saban, including seven non-conference games at neutral sites against Power Five teams that they have won by an average margin of 23 points.
THE TAKEAWAY
USC: The Trojans may be targeting their first Pac-12 title since 2008, but they weren't ready to compete with the defending national champions.
USC was held without a touchdown in a game for the first time since 1997, and for the first time in a season opener since 1960. It was the fewest points since a 10-6 loss to Utah in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.
Junior quarterback Max Browne waited three years for his first start, and had a tough time against the overwhelming Alabama defense. He was 14 of 29 for 101 yards with an interception. It certainly didn't help him that receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had 89 catches for 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, had only one catch for 9 yards when targeted five times.
ALABAMA: While the Tide are still unproven at quarterback after playing two freshmen, the biggest hole on offense was left by Henry's absence. Sophomore Damien Harris showed the ability for some big plays with runs of 46 and 73 yards. He finished with nine carries for 138 yards.
STOMP AND YOU'RE GONE
Southern Cal defender Jabari Ruffin was ejected from the game late in the first half when at the end of a punt return he stomped his foot into the groin area of Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was on the ground. The play happened right in front of referee Reggie Smith, who immediately threw a flag. When announcing the penalty, Smith said, "No. 40 has disqualified himself from the game."
POLL IMPLICATIONS
USC: The Trojans will almost certainly be unranked before playing their next game. They still have a lot to prove to voters.
ALABAMA: There shouldn't be any questions about Alabama staying the No. 1 team when the new poll comes out Tuesday.
UP NEXT
USC: Before facing another top 10 team, the Trojans are home next week against Utah State. They go to No. 8 Stanford for their Pac-12 opener on Sept. 17.
ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide play their home opener next week against defending C-USA champion Western Kentucky, a week before their SEC opener at No. 11 Ole Miss.

Gubrud leads Eastern Washington over Washington State 45-42

Opponents of Eastern Washington's football team can try to focus on stopping receiver Cooper Kupp, but coach Beau Baldwin said that won't be enough to beat the Eagles.
"We have a lot of great players on this offense," Baldwin said after Eastern Washington of the FCS upset Washington State 45-42 on Saturday.
Kupp, last year's FCS offensive player of the year, caught 12 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
But quarterback Gage Gubrud threw for 474 yards and five touchdowns.
Washington State, which lost to Portland State of the Football Championship Subdivision in its opening game last year, could not stop the Eastern Washington offense, which produced 606 yards.
Eastern Washington, which came in as three-touchdown underdogs, also upset Oregon State of the Pac-12 three years ago.
"I just learned there is no fear" in this team," Baldwin said. "This was the enjoyment of all the labor and all the work."
Gubrud, making his first start, completed 34 of 40 passes and was intercepted once. He also ran for a touchdown to ice the game.
"We knew we could do this the whole time," Gubrud said.
Kupp's two touchdown receptions in the third quarter put EWU ahead for good.
"It feels awesome to come out in the first game and do what we did," said Kupp, who was passed over by Washington and Washington State. "The mentality is that we are the better team."
Washington State rebounded from the loss to Portland State last year to finish 9-4.
"Eastern Washington's first-level guys are as good as our first-level guys," Washington State coach Mike Leach said. "They beat us in all three phases of the game."
"We need to play better football," said WSU receiver Gabe Marks, who caught 10 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
But cornerback Marcellus Pippins said it was too soon to panic.
"This is just one game," he said. "We've got a lot more games to go."
In the first half, the teams combined to score touchdowns on seven consecutive possessions.
The streak started when Luke Falk threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Marks and the Cougars led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Eastern Washington replied with Gubrud's 14-yard touchdown pass to Antoine Custer Jr., to tie the game at 7-7.
Washington State came right back with a 58-yard drive, capped by Falk's 27-yard scoring pass to Kyle Sweet for a 14-7 lead.
Eastern Washington replied with another touchdown, this time on a 6-yard pass from Gubrud to Sam McPherson. On this 75-yard drive, Kupp caught one pass for 11 yards, rushed the ball once for 14 yards and threw a 22-yard pass.
Washington State came right back, scoring on a 2-yard pass from Falk to Marks.
Eastern Washington tied the game at 21-21 when, on the first play of its subsequent possession, Kupp caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Gubrud.
Jamal Morrow's 5-yard touchdown run put the Cougars ahead 28-21, and ended the scoring streak as EWU punted on its next possession.
But Eastern Washington's Mitch Fettig intercepted a Falk pass, and Jordan Dascalo kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired to cut Washington State's lead to 28-24 at halftime.
Kupp caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Gubrud on the opening drive of the second half to put the Eagles ahead 31-28. That gave him 58 career touchdown passes, tying the FCS record set by David Ball of New Hampshire. He broke the record on EWU's next drive, with a one-handed catch of Gubrud's 7-yard pass in the end zone, giving the Eagles a 38-28 lead.
Marcellus Pippins intercepted Gubrud in the end zone to end another EWU scoring threat.
Erik Powell missed a 38-yard field goal attempt for Washington State midway through the fourth.
Gerard Wicks caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Falk with 4:42 left in the game for Washington State's first points of the second half, cutting EWU's lead to 38-35.
But Eastern Washington marched down the field, with Gubrud scoring on a 30-yard bootleg with 1:39 left for a 45-35 lead.
Wicks scored on a 3-yard touchdown run for Washington State with 14 seconds left. Their on-side kick attempt was recovered by the Eagles.
Coach Mike Leach has lost all five of his season openers at Washington State.
THE TAKEAWAY
Eastern Washington: Gubrud, a sophomore, played spectacularly in his first career start. Kupp has made a specialty of out-classing Pac-12 defensive backs. Last season, he caught 15 passes for 246 yards at Oregon. Two years ago he caught three touchdown passes against Washington. As a freshman, he caught five passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon State.
Washington State: The Cougars finished 9-4 last year, but will have to play better in a tough Pac-12 to match that this year.
UP NEXT
Eastern Washington plays at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State next Saturday
Washington State plays at Boise State on the blue turf next Saturday.
COOL HAND LUKE
Falk completed 41 of 51 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns. He was intercepted once.
POLL IMPLICATIONS
Washington State received plenty of votes in the preseason Top 25, but likely won't get many in the next poll.

UTEP beats New Mexico State 38-22

 Zack Greenlee threw for three touchdowns as UTEP beat New Mexico State 38-22 in a season opener for both teams on Saturday night.
Greenlee was 15 of 27 for 229 yards for the Miners. Aaron Jones rushed for 249 yards and two scores on 31 carries and Jay Mattox kicked a 23-yard field goal.
Jones ran for a 37-yard score early in the first quarter and Greenlee threw two touchdowns in the second quarter - including a 46-yarder to Cole Freytag - and UTEP took a 24-3 lead into the break. A 75-yard touchdown run by Jones stretched the UTEP lead to 38-16 with 14:47 to go in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Rogers threw for 206 yards on 17-of-41 passing for the Aggies. He also ran for 63 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Jason Huntley scored from the 1 as time expired in the third quarter.

Mahomes accounts for 6 TDs in 69-17 win over SFA

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury knows Patrick Mahomes' talent. But he also knows youth can bring dubious decisions.
Mahomes, a junior, threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more to lead Texas Tech past Stephen F. Austin 69-17 on Saturday.
"I thought he was a little loose, kind of doing his own thing a few times," Kingsbury said. "When things are there within the system, let's take it. And then when it's not, get out and work your magic."
The Lumberjacks couldn't stop the Red Raiders offense and couldn't get theirs on track for much of the game.
Mahomes, who was pulled midway through the third quarter, completed 30 of 43 passes for 483 yards; he rushed for 57 more.
Six Red Raiders receivers had yardage totals greater than 47 yards and the team had 10 plays of 20 yards or longer.
"This is a potent offense," Lumberjacks coach Clint Conque said. "We obviously realized it was going to be a tough get for us as a football team."
The win gave Texas Tech (1-0) its 16th straight win over FCS opponents, including three against the Lumberjacks (0-1).
SFA's offense needed a ground game badly.
"The first few drives we had a hard time establishing the run, and it's hard to sustain drives and win football games without having a decent running game, `Jacks quarterback Zach Conque said.
Kingsbury wasn't too pleased with the offensive early on.
"I just didn't think offensively we played very technical - kind of some streetball going on early," he said.
THE TAKEAWAY
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders, who finished 126th in total defense last season (547.7 per game), looked improved. But the quality of their opponent probably didn't provide the most accurate test. The defensive line is benefiting from two transfers, Kolin Hill (Notre Dame) and Ondre Pipkins (Michigan), and freshman linebacker Jordyn Brooks looked strong and fast. The defense showed its grit when it stopped the Lumberjacks inside the 10-yard line in the second quarter and took over on downs.
"I really think their interior people gave us grief the whole night," coach Conque said.
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks have plenty of work to do to polish their offense. The Football Championship Subdivision team didn't score a touchdown until late in the third quarter and had just 60 yards rushing.
UP NEXT
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders schedule toughens significantly as they travel west next week to face Arizona State of the Pac-12. Texas Tech beat the Sun Devils 37-23 in the 2013 Holiday Bowl.
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks go to West Alabama of the Gulf South Conference, a Division II program. SFA has played the Tigers once, in 1993 when the Alabama school was known as Livingston University.
OODLES OF RECEIVERS
Eighteen different Texas Tech receivers caught passes from two quarterbacks on Saturday night. They caught 48 passes between them from Mahomes and Nic Shimonek, the backup.
ACROBATIC RED RAIDERS
WR Cameron Batson scored the Red Raiders first TD when he caught a ball over the middle and somersaulted into the end zone. Keenon Ward, a defensive back, had one of Texas Tech's two interceptions. He juggled the ball as he fought SFA receiver Aaron Piper for the ball deep in Red Raiders territory. Ward pulled it in on Texas Tech's 1-yard line. The Red Raiders got just a field goal off the turnover.

Hill, No. 13 TCU pull away from South Dakota St late, 59-41

 Kenny Hill kept smiling Saturday night, even after interceptions on consecutive throws in his TCU debut.
The junior transfer - almost two years removed from losing the starting job at Texas A&M - was just trying to keep the team's spirits up despite an early deficit.
Coach Gary Patterson had a slightly different view before the 13th-ranked Horned Frogs rallied and pulled away late in a 59-41 victory over South Dakota State on Saturday night.
"I told him it wasn't that funny," Patterson said. "Then after they scored a couple of touchdowns, then it wasn't that funny. It's not about how many yards, how many touchdowns. It's about winning."
Hill eventually came around, accounting for five touchdowns after KaVontae Turpin sparked the Frogs with an 81-yard punt return in their 15th straight home-opening win since losing to Northwestern State - another lower-division team - in Patterson's first year as head coach.
"I was just trying to let everybody know, like, `Hey man, I got you, I'm not going to make any more mistakes,'" said Hill, the son of former major league pitcher Ken Hill and a former high school standout not far from the TCU campus. "I made a mistake, but we're about to bounce back right here."
Playing for the first time since a 59-0 loss to Alabama in his last game with the Aggies, Hill was 33 of 49 for 439 yards with two touchdown passes, ran for three scores and converted a critical third down with a 13-yard scramble while the Frogs were up four points in the fourth quarter.
That drive ended on a 46-yard scoring pass to Taj Williams for a 52-41 lead. Williams, who had 11 catches for 158 yards, made the grab after the ball deflected several yards forward off the hands of TCU receiver Desmon White and South Dakota State linebacker Dallas Brown.
Hill's consecutive interceptions led to a 10-point lead for the Jackrabbits of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Turpin started the recovery from the surprising second-quarter deficit with his return, sparking the Frogs to their 14th straight home win, third among Power Five schools behind Florida State and Clemson. The 5-foot-9 speedster added a 33-yard run and finished with 177 all-purpose yards.
Taryn Christion threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns - two to Jake Wieneke, who had eight catches for 196 yards.
Isaac Wallace had an 87-yard touchdown run after Makiah Slade intercepted Hill at the South Dakota State 1. Wallace finished with 112 yards rushing. Christion's 12-yard run put the Jackrabbits ahead 17-7 after Hill's second interception.
"I told you on Tuesday they were good players. Now they're still good players," Patterson said of the Jackrabbits. "We didn't do a very good job."
Kyle Hicks ran for two touchdowns, including a 3-yarder that put TCU ahead for good in the third quarter.
POLL IMPLICATIONS
TCU: The Frogs might fall even with two teams in the top five losing (No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 5 LSU). In fact, the Frogs likely won't be the highest-ranked team in Texas for the coming week. No. 15 Houston's 33-23 win over the Sooners is likely to vault the Cougars into the top 10.
THE TAKEAWAY
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: The Jackrabbits have to feel pretty good about a fifth straight trip the FCS playoffs. A year after its first win over an FBS opponent (41-38 at Kansas), South Dakota State kept making big plays after TCU went ahead by two scores for the first time at 45-31 in the third quarter.
TCU: The fiery Patterson built his reputation on defense, and that took a hit with South Dakota State rolling up 461 yards. The Frogs sacked Christion four times, but he still had time to drop perfect passes into coverage several times. Practice won't be fun for the Frogs this week. Still, the offense looked good without Trevone Boykin, finishing with 662 yards.
UP NEXT
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: The Jackrabbits open their newly renovated stadium against Drake in the first of three straight home games. The rest of the South Dakota State schedule is FCS teams.
TCU: Perhaps Arkansas was guilty of the same thing as the Frogs - peeking ahead at Week 2 as a heavy favorite in the home opener. The Razorbacks visit Fort Worth coming off a 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech. It's the first meeting of the former Southwest Conference rivals since 1991, when Arkansas was an independent for a season after leaving the SWC to eventually join the SEC.

Nebraska honors Foltz, pulls away to defeat Fresno St. 43-10

Nebraska overpowered Fresno State in the second half and won its opener in the easy fashion that was expected.
The lasting memory of Saturday night's 43-10 win will be how everyone inside Memorial Stadium came together to remember the Cornhuskers' fallen punter, Sam Foltz, who died in a July car crash.
The Huskers draped Foltz's No. 27 jersey at the end of their bench, and after they went three-and-out on their first possession, they lined up with 10 players and no punter.
The crowd stood and responded with loud cheers and applause as the play clock wound down, with Fresno State's players joining them in the salute. When Nebraska was flagged for delay of game after the play clock expired, Fresno State declined the penalty.
"It was an incredible feeling, knowing how much he meant to the team and the community and all the fans out there," quarterback Tommy Armstrong said. "It touched my heart a bit, just looking out there."
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter was told beforehand that the Huskers would line up without a punter, and he said there was no question that the penalty would be declined.
"If we can't teach our guys something classy like that, what's college for?" he said.
Armstrong Jr. ran for two touchdowns and threw a perfect deep ball to Alonzo Moore for another as Nebraska took control of the game and gave Mike Riley his 100th win as a college coach.
The Huskers pounded away at the Bulldogs with runs on 51 of their 64 plays, and Devine Ozigbo ran for a career-high 103 yards and two touchdowns. The biggest of Armstrong's few passes came two plays after Kieron Williams' first career interception, when Moore beat his man to catch in stride a 57-yard TD early in the fourth quarter.
"When we run it that well, we open up a lot for the receivers," Armstrong said. "When we get a chance to throw it, we have to complete them."
Fresno State's Chason Virgil, who missed the last nine games in 2015 with a broken clavicle, completed his first five passes and 11 of his first 14. The Bulldogs got a scare when he banged up his left shoulder late in the first half after being driven out of bounds by linebacker Luke Gifford, who was ejected for targeting.
Virgil returned to start the third quarter but didn't get much done the rest of the night against a Nebraska defense that got better as the game went on.
"I thought our guys went toe-to-toe with them for a pretty good bit, and then they broke our will in the fourth quarter," DeRuyter said.
THE TAKEAWAY
Fresno State: The Bulldogs, coming off a 3-9 season, hung with Nebraska for a half and should be improved if they can keep Virgil healthy for new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau. They capitalized on Robert Stanley's blocked punt and a couple Nebraska penalties, and that allowed them to keep it close until the third quarter. First-year defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward can take consolation in that it's unlikely his unit will go against another opponent that runs the ball as well as Nebraska.
Nebraska: The game plan was perfect against an opponent that ranked 117th against the run last year, and once Armstrong and the Huskers got going in the second half, they were nearly unstoppable. Nebraska, which finished with 292 yards on the ground, ran on 20 of its first 21 plays, and Riley made good on his plan to get Armstrong more carries.
Ozigbo and Terrell Newby formed a strong 1-2 combination, and freshman Tre Bryant showed up well when he got his chances late in the game. All that was pleasing to Riley. What upset him were three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in addition to an ejection for targeting for a third straight game.
"There was some good football, when you rush for that many yards, but I have mixed emotions about this game," Riley said. "Lots of things have to change."
UP NEXT:
Fresno State: The Bulldogs go from playing in one of the cathedrals of college football to hosting Sacramento State. DeRuyter's Fresno teams have beaten Football Championship Subdivision opponents by an average of 26 points.
Nebraska: The Huskers host Wyoming, coached by former Nebraska assistant Craig Bohl. This is no gimme. The last time the teams met, in 2013 in Lincoln, the Cowboys scored a couple late touchdowns and put a scare into the Huskers before losing 37-34.

Northern Iowa rallies to beat Iowa State 25-20

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell arrived in Ames promising to change a culture accustomed to losing.
Campbell's debut ended with a crushing defeat that looked like so many the Cyclones have suffered in the past.
Aaron Bailey threw for 135 yards, ran for 114 more and had two touchdowns as Northern Iowa rallied to beat Iowa State 25-20 Saturday and spoil Campbell's first game with the Cyclones.
UNI's J'Veyon Browning scored from 1 yard out with 2:49 left after a Joel Lanning interception, putting the Panthers ahead by five.
Cyclones running back Mike Warren fumbled it right back to Northern Iowa, and Lanning's final pick with 1:10 left sealed what could hardly be considered an upset for Northern Iowa.
"It's really hard for us right now to play behind the chains. We have to have the ability to play in positive situations. When you're not in those, you start pressing and then turnovers and those things happen like they did in the second half," Campbell said.
Lanning finished with 256 yards passing, three touchdowns and those two costly interceptions.
The Panthers scored touchdowns after an Iowa State safety, fumble and interception in beating the Cyclones for the second time since 2013.
THE TAKEAWAY
Iowa State: The Cyclones reworked and inexperienced offensive line, down a starter to suspension, looked shaky at best in its first performance. Iowa State couldn't get their ground game going, as Warren had just 30 yards on 12 carries. That left the Cyclones unable to sustain drives, which kept its defense on the field longer than it needed to be. Iowa State was also killed by penalties, nine for 89 yards, which wiped out big gains by its offense. "It makes it hard for an offensive line when you're second and 20 and third and 20. We put our offensive line in some really tough spots and that hurt those guys," Campbell said. Lanning made three big throws for TDs, but his inexplicable fourth-quarter interceptions cost the Cyclones dearly.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers entered play ranked fifth in the FCS - and they showed why they'll likely be a national title contender. Northern Iowa made the Cyclones pay for their mistakes and made the plays down the stretch that their FBS rivals couldn't.
NOTABLES
Iowa State: Cyclones wide receiver was brilliant yet again in a losing cause. He had six catches for 129 yards and a 33-yard TD reception that, had Iowa State not caved in crunch time, could have been the game-winning grab. ...TackleJulian Good-Jones was suspended for the game for violating team rules. Even though he's just a redshirt freshman, the Cyclones could've used the help. ...Receiver Hakeem Butler's first career catch was a one-hander from 18 yards out that went for a touchdown.
Northern Iowa: Tyvis Smith rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries and caught five passes for 43 more. ...Punter Sam Kuhter averaged 44 yards on eight tries, pinning Iowa State inside its own 20 on three of them.
THE LAST WORD
"We felt like we let them outperform us tonight. We know our capability. We definitely didn't meet our potential," Lazard said.
UP NEXT
Iowa State: The Cyclones will travel to Iowa City to face rival Iowa, ranked 17th. The Hawkeyes had some issues defensively, but their offense averaged eight yards a play as they rolled 45-21 over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday. Iowa State has beaten Iowa more than once after looking sluggish in its opener, but it'll likely be a big underdog against the defending Big Ten West champion.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers host Montana, ranked No. 13 in the FCS, in a key non-conference showdown in Cedar Falls.

Southern Miss rallies for 44-35 upset of Kentucky

Southern Mississippi players spread out toward Commonwealth Stadium's west end zone to celebrate one of the program's wildest victories with their happy fans.
A huge second-quarter deficit made winning seem unlikely before the Golden Eagles responded with near-perfect performances on both sides of the ball.
Nick Mullens ran for two 1-yard touchdowns - including the go-ahead score late in the third quarter - and passed for two TDs as Southern Miss scored 34 unanswered points to upset Kentucky 44-35 in its season opener on Saturday night.
The Golden Eagles' web site said their comeback was the largest since at least 2009, when they erased a 17-point deficit to beat Virginia.
"I'm really proud of just the fight and determination that our players showed," Golden Eagles coach Jay Hopson said after winning his debut. "They just kept digging, kept fighting and it was a great win."
Kentucky appeared in control with a 35-10 second quarter lead as Drew Barker threw TD passes of 72, 43, 9 and 53 yards on drives totaling 13 plays. Jojo Kemp's 7-yard TD run seemed to provide a safe cushion that the Wildcats' defense complemented with three interceptions of Mullens.
Neither Mullens nor the Golden Eagles quarterback panicked as he answered Kentucky's final score with a 71-yard TD pass to Isaiah Jones with 26 seconds left before halftime. Mullens then sandwiched 1-yard TD runs around an 18-yard scoring pass to Julian Allen, followed by two Parker Schaunfield field goals.
"My mindset didn't really change," said Mullens, who completed 18 of 28 passes for 258 yards. "I just had to relax, focus and make the next play."
Southern Miss' running backs did their part to make the comeback happen.
Ito Smith contributed 173 yards rushing and an 8-yard touchdown on 36 carries, while George Payne added 100 on 16 carries. Payne missed last season with an injury but he looked just fine on one fourth-quarter play in which he lost a yard but broke several tackles.
That play summed Kentucky's frustrating second half in which it was outgained 261-22 and was worn down by Southern Miss.
BARKER'S DAY
Barker finished 15 of 24 passing for 323 yards, but had just 36 yards after halftime and was sacked four times.
THE TAKEAWAY
SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles stuck with the game despite being outscored 35-3 after scoring on their first drive, rebounding with the trio of Mullens, Smith and Payne. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson got the final word against his former team as Southern Miss outgained Kentucky 520-409 and dominated the final 32 minutes. "I think he's certainly proud of it," Mullens said about Dawson. "You guys (media) can do with that situation what you want to, but it was about beating Kentucky." The victory ended a 13-game losing streak to Southeastern Conference schools dating back to 2000.
KENTUCKY: The Wildcats still have time to reach the six-win plateau for bowl eligibility. But they blew a huge lead and opportunity in a game they had to win toward that end, and an 0-2 start is looming with a trip to No. 25 Florida looming. Kentucky blew a 21-point lead in a 38-24 loss to Louisville in last season's finale. "That's a tough loss and our fans deserved better," coach Mark Stoops said. "And I'll tell you this, we'll play better."
UP NEXT
SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles aim to follow up their big win when they host FCS Savannah State next weekend.
KENTUCKY: The Wildcats visit No. 25 Florida next Saturday in hopes of ending a 29-game losing streak to the Gators - not to mention, annual media questions about it. Kentucky has come close the past two years and aims to finally seal the deal in the nationally televised game at The Swamp.

No. 25 Florida honors Spurrier, struggles to beat UMass 24-7

On a night when retired coach Steve Spurrier was honored along with his 1996 national championship team, No. 25 Florida looked nothing like a potential Southeastern Conference title contender.
Luke Del Rio threw two touchdown passes in his first career start, and the Gators did just enough to beat UMass 24-7 on Saturday night and extend the nation's longest winning streak in season openers to 27.
It was far from the offensive resurgence the Gators were hoping for after ending last season with three consecutive losses.
"We have expectations every game," Del Rio said. "We obviously want to score more points, but we got the win. That's the most important thing."
Things were so ugly for much of the night that Spurrier provided most of Florida's early highlights.
After having Florida Field named after him and then leading 90,000 rain-soaked fans in a pre-game cheer, Spurrier posed like Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt. The 71-year-old Spurrier flashed Bolt's "To The World" pose to all four sides of the newly renamed Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It drew a raucous ovation from fans on hand for the opener.
"I just planned it myself," Spurrier said. "I didn't tell anybody, either, `cause I thought they'd spill the beans. You know, it's never been done before. I'm a guy that likes to do a little different stuff, so I was the first to do the Usain in the middle of the field."
Many inside the sold-out Swamp were there for Spurrier, who was honored in a number of ways. Not only was the field named after him, but Spurrier served as the honorary "Mr. Two Bits." At halftime, he was recognized again for the 50th anniversary of his 1966 Heisman Trophy and honored along with the 1996 team.
Spurrier said the best parts of the day were watching his name unveiled on the stadium and then seeing band members wearing visors to honor him.
Florida coach Jim McElwain probably could have used one - to slam to the ground.
"It was fun to get back after it and really get that taste of the last ballgame we played out of our mouth," McElwain said. "Obviously, as you watched the game, we've got a long way to go."
The Gators had trouble blocking the 36 1/2-point underdogs up front and creating holes in the running game. Del Rio completed 29 of 44 passes for 256 yards, with TD passes to Antonio Callaway in the first quarter and Brandon Powellin the fourth.
Florida's defense was solid except for one scoring drive in which it was flagged three times for 35 yards and allowed a fourth-and-14 conversion.
Newcomer Eddy Pineiro kicked three field goals, including from 49 and 48 yards in the fourth that gave Florida a little extra breathing room and started chants of "Eddy! Eddy!"
"This is a dream come true," said Pineiro, who played soccer in high school and had never kicked in a meaningful game. "I've worked my butt off for two years, came in here as an early enrollee and worked very hard for this moment."
THE TAKEAWAY
UMASS: The schedule doesn't look so daunting now. UMass has two more Southeastern Conference teams on tap this fall, but after watching Mississippi State (lost to South Alabama) and South Carolina (edged Vanderbilt) in openers, there's reason to believe coach Mark Whipple's team can be in, or maybe even win, both of those games.
FLORIDA: Could be another trying season for Florida quarterbacks. The Gators clearly still have holes along their offensive line, a problem that plagued the offense last year and really stood out during the season-ending, three-game losing streak.
UP NEXT
UMASS: The Minutemen return home to play Boston College, which is coming off a loss to Georgia Tech in Ireland. UMass has dropped eight in a row in the series and 19 of 23 overall.
FLORIDA: Opens SEC play at home against Kentucky. The Gators have won 29 straight in the series, the nation's longest active streak between any two opponents.

UTSA cruises to 26-13 win over Alabama State

Dalton Sturm threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns, ran in a third score from midfield, and led UTSA to a 26-13 win over Alabama State in the season opener for both teams Saturday night.
Sturm finished 20-for-25 passing with an interception, and got his rushing TD with a 51-yard scramble late in the first half. Jalen Rhodes also ran in a touchdown, Marquez McNair hauled in a 5-yard pass for a TD and Kerry Thomas Jr. snagged a 25-yard pass for a TD as well.
UTSA set a single-game school record with six sacks and overpowered FCS Alabama State in the air, racking up 287 passing yards to the Hornets' 142. The win marked new coach Frank Wilson's first NCAA victory.
Alabama State got touchdowns from Palmer Graham, who hauled in a 36-yard pass from Quinterris Toppings, and from Khalid Thomas, who punched in the game's first TD from the 1.

Central Florida overpowers SC State in 38-0 shutout

 Justin Holman threw for two touchdowns and ran in another, Matthew Wright kicked a career-best four field goals, and Central Florida plowed past South Carolina State 38-0 in the season opener for both teams Saturday night.
Holman was 14-of-28 for 193 yards and picked up another 40 on the ground, including a 10-yard keeper he ran in for the game's first touchdown. He later hauled in a 24-yard pass from receiver Tristan Payton, which set up his 37-yard TD strike to Tre`Quan Smith on the next play.
Dontravious Wilson punched in a touchdown from the 1, and Payton cemented the final score with a 5-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter. Central Florida converted two of SC State's three turnovers into points.
Caleb York finished 15 of 35 for 134 yards passing, and led Bulldog rushers as well with 10 carries for 38 yards.
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