COLUMBIA, Mo. — Nick Saban came off the field Saturday and sized up the afternoon for No. 1 Alabama.
“It was tough sledding out there today, guys,” the Crimson Tide coach said. The thing is, he was speaking more about the weather than the opponent.
“For the conditions, I was pleased with the balance that we had,” he said.
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon gave Alabama a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time this season and the duo combined for five scores as Alabama beat Missouri 42-10 in a soggy, lightning-delayed game. The Crimson Tide had a season high 533 total yards and held Missouri to 129 yards — and just 3 yards rushing.
“Basically the offensive line came out and they dominated,” Lacy said. “I mean, every time we made a big run it was because they made a big hole for us.”
Center Barrett Jones put it like this: “Probably the best we played all year, given we had a break.”
The first matchup of head coaches who were former Kent State teammates was no contest, with Alabama pummeling a team hampered by injuries at quarterback and the offensive line. The defending national champion Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) led 21-0 late in the first quarter en route to their 10th straight victory, all by 19 or more points.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel needed no convincing that the Tigers had been steamrolled by a most deserving No. 1.
“That is maybe the best team I have ever seen,” he said.
Alabama did enough things right after the unscheduled break to disappoint the few thousand fans who didn’t leave for good during the 38-minute lightning delay. The Crimson Tide were awaiting the extra-point kick for a 28-0 cushion with 8:40 to go in the half after Yeldon’s second scoring run when the game was halted.
Missouri’s Marcus Murphy set a school single-season record with his fourth kick return for touchdown, a 98-yard kickoff return in the second quarter right after the weather delay.
But the Tigers (3-4, 0-4) have been outscored 126-55 in their first season in the SEC, and have been competitive to the finish in only last week’s 19-15 loss at home to Vanderbilt.
The rest of the season, Pinkel vowed that injuries will be no excuse.
“I told our team we have had a lot of issues, a backup quarterback and all this other stuff,” Pinkel said. “From this point on, I don’t care. We’re going to move on and try to finish the season the right way.”
Backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser, a redshirt freshman subbing for injured James Franklin, was 12 for 29 for 126 yards with two interceptions. Missouri has next weekend off and Franklin could return from a left knee strain at home against Kentucky Oct. 27.
Kendial Lawrence had 33 yards on seven carries but Missouri finished with just 3 yards on 28 carries including 53 yards in losses by Berkstresser, 42 of them on a sack-lost fumble at the end of the half.
Lacy had a career-best 177 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns, including a 73-yarder on the game’s second snap, for his second 100-yard game of the year. Yeldon had 144 yards on 18 carries and two TDs, also his second time in triple digits this season.
“The running backs, we haven’t had a big run in a long time,” Lacy said. “Our plan was to come in and run the ball, we didn’t know how successful it was going to be. But as it turned out it was very successful.”
Trent Richardson and Jalston Fowler each gained more than 100 yards for Alabama at Mississippi last October.
Alabama remained interception-free on the year after AJ McCarron went 16 for 21 for 171 yards, extending his run to 227 passes without a pick. McCarron showed his toughness, too, staying in the game with a quick wrap after twisting his right knee.
Alabama did not make McCarron available to speak to reporters after the game.
The game was halted after several lightning strikes around Faurot Field. The stands were evacuated just after Yeldon’s 15-yard TD run — the last 5 on a leap for the pylon.
Missouri got some momentum from the unexpected break, but not nearly enough. After play resumed with the extra-point kick, Murphy got the Tigers on the scoreboard with his record-setting kickoff return.
The Tigers were on the verge of slicing further into Alabama’s cushion, advancing to the 8 at the end of the half off a fumbled snap by punter Cody Mandell. But Adrian Hubbard stripped Berkstresser on a sack and C.J. Mosley ended up with the ball at the Missouri 49 with two seconds left.
The Crimson Tide quickly took control of the game, converting a blocked punt by Brandon Collins with a 17-yard drive capped by Yeldon’s 1-yard run to make it 21-0.
Lacy scored on the game’s second snap, cutting back across the field and leaving Kenronte Walker grabbing air at the Missouri 40 on a 73-yard run. Alabama then capitalized on Vinnie Sunseri’s second interception of the year, on a ball in and out of the arms of L’Damian Washington. Running a fleaflicker, McCarron hit Kenny Bell for a 44-yard gain to the 6 to set up Lacy’s second TD on a 3-yarder.
With rain intensifying, Brandon Collins stormed through the three-man shield untouched on the blocked punt.
No. 4 FLORIDA 31, VANDERBILT 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The fourth-ranked Florida Gators remain perfect thanks to quarterback Jeff Driskel running the ball better than even Tim Tebow.
Driskel ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns, and the Gators remained undefeated going into their big showdown with No. 3 South Carolina.
The quarterback threw for only 77 yards and ran only 11 times. But the sophomore set the Florida record for yards rushing by a quarterback, topping Tebow’s 166 yards against Mississippi in 2007 on 27 carries.
The Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) finished off their last SEC road trip outside of the state of Florida with their 22nd straight win over Vanderbilt. Florida, which rallied in the second half to beat Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU already this season, took control early this time. The Gators scored 21 straight points, including 11 in the second quarter where they took the lead for good.
Vanderbilt (2-4, 1-3) now has lost 47 straight against Top Five teams.
The Gators also had three sacks, forced a turnover, blocked a field goal and used a fake punt to put away Vanderbilt. Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals.
No. 6 KANSAS STATE 27, IOWA STATE 21
AMES, Iowa — Quarterback Collin Klein ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns to help K-State hold off the Cyclones and beat them for the fifth straight time.
Klein also threw for 187 yards for the Wildcats (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), who remain unbeaten heading into next week’s showdown with West Virginia.
Kansas State held the Cyclones (4-2, 1-2) to just 231 yards of offense. Iowa State still had a chance for the game-winning drive from its own 3-yard line with 2:17 left, but the Wildcats stopped the Cyclones on downs.
The Wildcats held the ball for nearly 41 minutes and converted eight of 17 third downs.
Jared Barnett threw for 166 yards and two TDs for Iowa State.
No. 10 OREGON STATE 42, BYU 24
PROVO, Utah — Cody Vaz passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns in his first start since high school.
Vaz was filling in for Sean Mannion, who is out indefinitely with a left knee injury.
Oregon State is 5-0 for the first time since 1939.
Markus Wheaton caught two first-quarter TD passes, and scored on a 12-yard reverse in the fourth, while cornerback Jordan Poyer returned an interception 49 yards to seal the victory against BYU (4-3).
Vaz started 5 of 5 for 75 yards and finished 20 of 32 against BYU’s fifth-rated defense.
BYU quarterback Riley Nelson completed 28 of 51 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times.
Oregon State rolled up 450 yards offense.
Brandin Cooks caught eight passes for 173 yards for the Beavers.
No. 18 LOUISVILLE 45, PITTSBURGH 35
PITTSBURGH — Senorise Perry rushed for 101 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
Teddy Bridgewater passed for 304 yards for the Cardinals (6-0, 1-0 Big East), including a 75-yard score to Devante Parker on the first play of the second half as Louisville continued its best start since 2006.
Parker’s score came in the middle of a 24-point burst by Louisville spanning the second and third quarters that turned a seven-point deficit into a 38-21 lead.
Tino Sunseri passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns but Pitt (2-4, 0-3) couldn’t complete a late rally.
Trailing by 10 with 5 minutes to play, Pitt went for it on fourth down deep in Louisville territory rather than attempt a field goal. Sunseri’s pass was off the mark and Perry finished off the Panthers with a 59-yard sprint down the left sideline.
Louisville began the season as the overwhelming Big East favorite but some of the shine was stripped away by sluggish road wins at overmatched Florida International and Southern Mississippi coupled with the impressive starts by No. 20 Rutgers and No. 21 Cincinnati.
No. 19 MISSISSIPPI STATE 41, TENNESSEE 31
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Tyler Russell threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns, LaDarius Perkins added 101 rushing yards and a touchdown and Mississippi State beat Tennessee.
Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) continues its best start since 1999. The Bulldogs led 27-14 at halftime, but the Volunteers rallied to cut the margin to 34-31 by midway through the fourth quarter.
Russell sealed the victory with a 9-yard pass to Malcolm Johnson with nine seconds remaining. The junior quarterback completed 23 of 37 passes and set career highs in completions, attempts and passing yards.
Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Volunteers (3-3, 0-3) have lost all three games to ranked opponents.
No. 20 RUTGERS 23, SYRACUSE 15
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Duron Harmon scooped up a blocked field goal attempt and ran 75 yard for a tie-breaking touchdown early in the third quarter and Rutgers rode its defense and special teams to 6-0.
Big East Conference defensive player of the year Khaseem Greene forced three fumbles and intercepted a pass as Rutgers (3-0) became bowl eligible for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Jawan Jamison scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, Gary Nova threw a 12-yard touchdown to Tyler Kroft and walk-on placekicker Nick Borgese had a 25-yard field goal filling in for the injured Kyle Federico as the Scarlet Knights went 6-0 for only the third time since 1976.
Adonis Ameen-Moore scored on a 3-yard run and Ryan Nassib threw a late 40-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Clark and a 2-point conversion pass to Marcus Sales pass for Syracuse (2-4, 1-1).
No. 21 CINCINNATI 49, FORDHAM 17
CINCINNATI — Deven Drane scooted 76 yards for a touchdown after picking up a fumble and Munchie Legaux threw two TD passes, including a 78-yarder to Travis Kelce.
The Bearcats (5-0) stayed perfect but the Rams (4-3), playing up a level from the Football Championship Subdivision, hung around for a half. The win was Cincinnati’s 24th straight in nonconference games at Nippert Stadium and upped its overall winning streak to eight in a row.
After a sloppy first two quarters, the Bearcats came alive on offense. Legaux, Ralph David Abernathy IV and Jordan Luallen scored on runs to start the third quarter and the rout was on.
Fordham was a late fill-in for TCU, which reneged on its commitment to join the Big East this summer and instead joined the Big 12. That left the Bearcats with a hole in their schedule that the Patriot League team filled.
Patrick Murray kicked three field goals, including a school-record 55-yarder for the Rams. Ryan Higgins completed 31 of 42 passes for 262 yards and one touchdown — a 12-yarder to Brian Wetzel — with no interceptions.
No. 24 BOISE ST. 20, FRESNO ST. 10
BOISE, Idaho — D.J. Harper rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown and Joe Southwick threw for another score.
Harper was the leader of a Boise State (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West) rushing attack that chewed up 215 yards on the ground and propelled the Broncos to their fifth consecutive win and seventh straight over the Bulldogs.
The Boise State defense also turned in another impressive performance.
The Broncos held Fresno State (4-3, 2-1) scoreless in the first half, the fourth straight game the Broncos defense has held foes scoreless in the first two quarters. The defense also squelched a Bulldog scoring drive in the opening minutes of the third quarter with an interception, forced a fumble on another possession late and held Robbie Rouse to 77 yards rushing on 25 carries.
No. 25 MICHIGAN 45, ILLINOIS 0
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores, brushing off an undisclosed injury as well as the Illini.
The Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) got a scare when Robinson left the game late in the first quarter. He missed just one-plus possessions, though, and returned to score on a 6-yard run to put Michigan up 17-0 late in the first half.
Robinson, who wouldn’t elaborate on the injury after the game, ran for a 49-yard score — giving him 10,000-plus career yards of offense — on the Wolverines’ first drive of the second half and tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Devin Funchess on their next possession to make it 31-0.
The Fighting Illini (2-5, 0-3) lost their starting quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase, because of an undisclosed injury in the second quart