Saturday rundown: Takeaways from Week 7's top games
theScore runs down the top storylines and developments from Saturday's college football games, and what it all might mean moving forward.
The Saban streak lives
It looked as though Saban would miss the contest after a positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday, but three straight days of negative test results allowed him to be on the sidelines to see the big-play machine in full effect. Quarterback Mac Jones was strong again, with a 90-yard bomb to Jaylen Waddle giving Alabama a second-half lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Waddle and DeVonta Smith both finished with over 160 yards receiving, the first time in school history that two wideouts have done so in the same game. When the Alabama offense is cooking, only Clemson can score on the same level.
On the other side, Georgia's stout defense could last only so long before falling victim to its high-flying rival. After the Bulldogs held each opponent on the schedule to 215 yards passing or less, Jones torched them for 417 yards and four touchdowns.
The Stetson Bennett story has been remarkable for Georgia, and a strong first half had the Bulldogs clinging to a narrow lead. Things changed in the second when the Crimson Tide were able to exploit some limitations in the quarterback's game. He finished with 269 yards through the air and three interceptions. The calls for star transfer JT Daniels will get much louder during the upcoming bye week.
Florida State shows signs of life
After a very rough start to his tenure, Mike Norvell has his first signature moment with Florida State. The Seminoles came out flying to a 31-7 lead over No. 5 North Carolina on Saturday and held on for a 31-28 win.
Florida State's stagnant offense got a massive boost from Jordan Travis at quarterback, as the dual-threat option exploded for 298 total yards with two rushing touchdowns and one passing score. Though he may not be the most polished passer, it's clear the offense clicks when he's in the contest.
With James Blackman as the starter, the Seminoles scored two total touchdowns this season in a pair of games against Power 5 competition. With Travis under center for a pair of starts, Florida State has put up five major scores.
North Carolina entered averaging 37 points per contest but was held in check by a swarming Seminoles defense. Sam Howell had a very poor interception but drops by a number of receivers hurt the comeback attempt late. The good news for Mack Brown's outfit is a fairly favorable schedule awaits until back-to-back games versus Notre Dame and Miami on Nov. 27 and Dec. 5th, respectively.
Arkansas winning the SEC West coaching derby
Lane Kiffin's move to Ole Miss grabbed the headlines before Mississippi State countered with Mike Leach, but Arkansas may have won the SEC West coaching derby. The Razorbacks didn't reach for a splashy hire with former Georgia associate head coach and offensive line coach Sam Pittman, but early returns have been favorable in Fayetteville.
Since falling to Georgia in the opener, Arkansas stymied Leach and Mississippi State, lost to Auburn on a controversial last-minute decision by the officials, and took down Kiffin and Co. Saturday's win over the Rebels was a masterclass in forcing turnovers from an aggressive offense. Ole Miss entered averaging 41.7 points per contest, but a whopping six interceptions from quarterback Matt Corral limited his team to just 21 points.
Prior to this season, Arkansas hadn't won a conference game since the 2017 campaign. In the last three weeks, the Razorbacks have won two and could make the argument it should be three. The rebuild is off to a flying start under Pittman.
Tennessee's offense is a mess
The good vibes from No. 18 Tennessee's solid start this season are officially gone. Losing on the road to No. 3 Georgia last week was expected, but after Saturday's display at home against Kentucky, it's time to pump the brakes on the Volunteers' hype train.
The Wildcats absolutely dominated the affair, winning in Knoxville for the first time in 18 meetings between the teams. The turnover bug was once again biting Tennessee early and often, including this awful sequence over a five-minute span in the first half.
Volunteers quarterback Jarrett Guarantano threw not one, but two pick-6s, with backup J.T. Shrout briefly entering the game, only to throw an interception of his own. Despite holding the Wildcats to only 65 yards in the opening half, the Volunteers trailed 17-7.
Tennessee's defense couldn't hold out the entire game, as Kentucky's rushing attack started clicking in the second half, helping the Wildcats to secure a win. With a remaining schedule that includes Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Florida, a once-promising season for Tennessee could end in a drastically different manner.
Trevor Lawrence takes the Heisman lead
The presumptive No. 1 pick during the upcoming NFL draft showed his wide array of talents, tossing five first-half touchdown passes for the first time in his career. Lawrence didn't see much action in the second half, finishing the day 24-of-32 passing for 404 yards and the five TDs.
The Yellow Jackets' defense isn't exactly a nationally known outfit. Still, the Tigers did whatever they wanted through the air, with 16 players catching passes in the win. Amari Rodgers and Travis Etienne looked unstoppable, and the 73-7 score served to remind the country that Clemson is the most complete team in college football right now.
South Carolina ends 87-year streak
The last time South Carolina beat Auburn in football, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President of the United States. As unbelievable as it may sound, the Gamecocks' victory Saturday marked their first over the Tigers since 1933. Granted, the two schools have only played nine times since then, but it's an eye-opening stat nonetheless.
Will Muschamp's defense gave Bo Nix fits all day, intercepting the Auburn quarterback three times and stopping him short on a potential game-tying run in the dying seconds. It's the second straight solid performance from South Carolina's defense, which held Vanderbilt to just seven points last week.
For Gus Malzahn, it was an all-too-familiar scene with Nix on the road, as the sophomore can't seem to get going outside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The bad news for Auburn? Next week's game is on the road at Ole Miss. The good news? It's against a Rebels defense that's allowing a whopping 10.7 yards per pass. That might be what Nix needs to get back on track.
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- Florida, UCF agree to 3-game series beginning in 2024
- Stanford's Shaw: NIL deals 'a great way to recruit'