Auburn, Texas post big wins in college football
JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - The first Saturday of October saw both Auburn and Texas make some amends for a difficult September.
The college football season entered its second full month with Auburn knocking off No. 7 Tennessee, 28-21, and the No. 13 Longhorns edging No. 14 Kansas State, 24-20, in the opening leg of their Texas Two-Step.
September was not kind to a host of teams that arrived for summer practice with high expectations. Eight teams listed in the preseason coaches' poll have fallen clear out of the rankings.
No team dropped more than Auburn (3-2), which was tagged as the preseason No. 1 by some media outlets. The Tigers fell off the radar screen and out of the rankings with September losses to Southern California and Georgia Tech in which they did not score a touchdown.
But the Tigers were a different team on Saturday as Carnell Williams rushed for 185 yards and a touchdown and Jason Campbell threw for a pair of scores against Tennessee.
A national title may be out of the question, but the Tigers showed plenty of life on Saturday and remain very much alive for the Southeastern Conference title and a BCS berth.
"Obviously, we've improved over the last month," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I'm proud of the team. They stayed positive. They stayed focused. Overall, it was a tremendous football game for us."
Auburn built a 14-point lead in the first quarter and a 21-point advantage early in the fourth, but the victory was not assured until the final minute when Carlos Rogers intercepted Casey Clausen.
The Volunteers (4-1) could not establish a running game, finishing with a mere four yards on 16 carries, as their national title hopes took a notable hit.
Texas suffered a surprising home loss to Arkansas last month and needed wins this week over Kansas State and next week over top-ranked Oklahoma to stay in the national title chase.
Freshman Vince Young helped the Longhorns take the first step. He came off the bench to throw a 52-yard pass to Tony Jeffery and then scored on a one-yard run with 5:19 left to put Texas ahead to stay.
Jeffery also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for Texas, which has lost its last three games to Oklahoma.
Cedric Benson carried 17 times for 54 yards and insisted that the victory answered some questions.
"I think this was a big confidence boost, and it brings back our swagger," Benson said. "Now, I think we can get rid of all that talk that we are soft and move on."
Darren Sproles carried 24 times for 128 yards for Kansas State, which suffered its second straight loss after being stunned at home by Marshall two weeks ago. Barring a miracle, Kansas State is out of the national championship picture.
"They are pained by the loss," Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said. "We have a multitude of things we need to work on."
Oklahoma (5-0) showed it will again be a formidable foe in the Red Red River Shootout. Jason White threw a career-high five touchdown passes, leading the Sooners to a 53-7 Big 12 Conference thrashing of Iowa State.
White is off to the best five-game start by any quarterback in school history. He has thrown 16 touchdowns against just three interceptions and is completing better than 65 percent of his passes.
Any chances that No. 11 Michigan (4-2) had of playing for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl ended with a 30-27 loss to No. 19 Iowa (5-1).
The Hawkeyes used a pair of touchdown passes by Nathan Chandler to upset No. 11 Michigan for the second straight year. Ramon Ochoa caught a 31-yard touchdown pass with 5:16 remaining as Iowa rallied from an early 14-point deficit.
Other highly ranked unbeatens faced less challenging tasks on Saturday. No. 4 Virginia Tech (5-0) coasted to a 48-22 win at Rutgers and No. 8 Nebraska (5-0) blanked Troy State, 35-0.
No. 10 Southern California (4-1), a leading national title contender a week ago, bounced back from a loss to California with a 37-17 win over Arizona State.
No. 12 Georgia (4-1) defeated fast-fading Alabama, 37-23, giving the Bulldogs back-to-back wins over the Crimson Tide for the first time since 1955-56.
Three other ranked teams were losers on Saturday.
No. 17 Washington (3-2) turned the ball over four times in a 46-16 loss to UCLA; No. 24 Florida (3-3) lost at home to Mississippi, 20-17, and Navy defeated a ranked opponent for the first time since 1985 with a 28-25 win over No. 25 Air Force (5-1).
In other games Saturday, No. 15 Washington State (5-1) topped Arizona, 30-7; No. 16 Minnesota (6-0) coasted by Northwestern, 42-17; No. 20 Northern Illinois (5-0) needed overtime to defeat Ohio, 30-23; No. 21 Texas Christian (5-0) defeated Army, 27-0 and No. 23 Purdue (4-1) routed Illinois, 43-10.
No. 2 Miami (5-0) opened the weekend with a stirring 22-20 Big East Conference victory over West Virginia on Thursday to set the stage for next week's showdown with No. 5 Florida State, which is idle this week.
No. 22 Oregon (4-2) suffered its second consecutive defeat against Utah, 17-13, on Friday night.
No. 3 Ohio State (5-0), No. 6 Louisiana State (5-0), No. 9 Arkansas (4-0) and No. 18 Pittsburgh (3-1) also are idle this week.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index