Auburn outlasts Texas A&M to continue rise; more midday Week 8 Snap Judgments
• No. 24 Auburn 45, No. 7 Texas A&M 41: The Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC) weren’t supposed to be so good so soon under first-year coach Gus Malzahn. They were expected to struggle while going through some growing pains, and weren’t supposed to compete in the SEC until 2014.
But Auburn showed that it is ahead of the curve with a 45-41 upset of the Aggies (5-2, 2-2 SEC) on Saturday.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel completed 28-of-38 passes for 454 yards and four touchdowns, and star wideout Mike Evans made 11 receptions for 287 yards and four scores, but the Tigers matched the Aggies blow for blow. Malzahn’s attack picked A&M’s porous defense apart, and the Auburn defense stopped Manziel on the Aggies’ final drive to keep the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from pulling out another dramatic victory.
Manziel (who also rushed for 48 yards and one touchdown) was inconsistent early in the game and threw a pair of first-quarter interceptions. He also took far too many big hits, one of which resulted in a shoulder injury that forced him to miss a brief stretch midway through the fourth quarter. Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall completed 11-of-23 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 100 yards and two scores.
Texas A&M’s defense has been a problem for the Aggies all season, but until the Auburn game Manziel had always been able to bail the unit out — a patter that was unsustainable. With its second conference loss, A&M is now all but eliminated from the SEC and BCS title hunts. The Tigers, meanwhile, are tied with LSU for second in SEC West, and Marshall, running back Tre Mason (178 yards, one touchdown) and wide receiver Sammie Coates (104 yards, one touchdown) seem to be growing in confidence.
After a disastrous 2012 campaign, Auburn’s success in 2013 is a welcome turnaround on the Plains. The Tigers aren’t a national title contender by any means, but with Malzahn in command, War Eagle might be back sooner than most expected. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 4 Ohio State 34, Iowa 24: It’s hard to watch any Buckeyes game without comparing their performance with those of other top teams. This week, the Hawkeyes (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) kept pace with Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) through most of the first three quarters, establishing a power-run game early and leading 17-10 at halftime. Iowa seemed primed to benefit from the first-quarter targeting ejection of standout Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby.
But behind quarterback Braxton Miller and tailback Carlos Hyde, Ohio State’s offense did what it often does — ground its opponent down. Miller completed 22-of-27 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran for 102 yards. Hyde rushed for 149 yards and two scores.
The Big Ten doesn’t do the Buckeyes any favors. Their best victory to date was over then No. 16 Northwestern on Oct. 5, but the Wildcats fell to unranked Minnesota on Saturday, and the conference appears to lack elite competition. It’s still too early to start thinking about end-of-year scenarios (something Louisville proved on Friday), but fans in Columbus are already fretting that an unbeaten Buckeyes team may not have the strength of schedule to make it to the BCS title game. All Ohio State can do is keep winning. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 13 Stanford 24, No. 9 UCLA 10: Fans didn’t get the shootout they may have hoped for from stars like Cardinal kick returner Ty Montgomery and Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley. But defense can be fun to watch, too. A 30-yard touchdown reception — an easy catch of the year candidate — by sophomore wideout Kodi Whitfield put Stanford (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) up 10-3 with 8:17 left in the third quarter, and the Cardinal were able to grind out a win thanks to some tough running from Tyler Gaffney (34 carries, 166 yards, two touchdowns). SI.com’s Stewart Mandel was in Palo Alto and has more from the scene. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 23 Northern Illinois 38, Central Michigan 17: It was close for much of the afternoon, but the Huskies outlasted the Chippewas behind a career effort from NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch rushed for 316 yards, the most ever by an FBS quarterback, breaking the record previously held by NIU’s Stacey Robinson (308 rushing yards). Lynch also threw for 155 yards and had four total touchdowns. The Huskies should move up in the rankings with all the other shuffling among the Top 25, and they still have an outside shot of making a BCS bowl for the second consecutive year. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 18 Oklahoma 34, Kansas 19: Let’s please shoot this game into space so we never have to talk about it again. Kansas went up 13-0 (the Jayhawks missed the extra point following their second touchdown), and then Oklahoma scored 25 points in a row, a stretch that included a missed extra point of its own and a safety. The Sooners had a punt blocked, leading to a Kansas score, then the Jayhawks had their extra point blocked, and Oklahoma ran it back for two points. Quarterback Blake Bell was much better against Kansas than he was last week against Texas, throwing for 130 yards with one interception and rushing for 69 yards. [RECAP l BOX]
• Michigan 63, Indiana 47: There wasn’t a lot of defense played in this one, but let’s think about it like Auburn-Texas A&M Lite. Wideout Jeremy Gallon was simply spectacular for the Wolverines, finishing with 14 catches for 369 yards to set the Big Ten record for receiving yards in a game. Devin Gardner picked apart the Hoosiers’ defense, throwing for 502 yards, rushing for another 81 and scoring five total touchdowns. Indiana can certainly put up points, but it has given up 40 or more in all four of its losses this season. [RECAP l BOX]
• Wake Forest 34, Maryland 10: It’s hard to believe the Terps were ranked just a few weeks ago. Maryland continued its skid and lost Stefon Diggs and Deon Long in the process. Long was carted off the field after suffering a leg injury and was taken to a hospital. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro led the Demon Deacons with 11 catches — setting the Demon Deacons’ record for career receptions — for 122 yards and a touchdown. He also threw a touchdown to Wake quarterback Tanner Price. [RECAP l BOX]
• Arizona State 53, No. 20 Washington 24: The Sun Devils sprinted out to a 29-7 lead at the half and never looked back, as Washington’s three-week stretch of Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State seemed to have taken its toll on the Huskies. Meanwhile, coach Todd Graham’s team claimed sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South, and with UCLA playing Oregon next week, the Sun Devils are in good shape to make a run at the Pac-12 title game. Running back Marion Grice led the way for Arizona State with 195 total yards and three touchdowns. [RECAP l BOX]