TUCSON, Ariz. — A momentum-swinging game hanging in the balance, Oregon State coach Mike Riley pulled out a play he had been saving all game.
So what if he would have liked more space to run it. This was the time to do — and it couldn’t have worked out any better.
Sean Mannion threw for a career-high 433 yards and hit Connor Hamlett on a 9-yard pass with 1:09 left for his third touchdown, lifting No. 18 Oregon State to wild 38-35 win over Arizona Saturday night.
“I had frankly screwed it up; I was going to call it a little earlier,” said Riley, who broke Lon Stiner’s school record with his 75th career win at Oregon State. “I was saving that play and wanted it out a little higher, but then we had a good gain. We called it anyway and it came out differently than it ever has, but that’s the way we want it right there.”
The Beavers sure needed it.
Oregon State (3-0, 1-1 Pac-12) took a 17-0 lead, Arizona charged back and the teams traded scores in the second half of a game filled with big plays and 1,158 yards of combined offense.
Arizona (3-2, 0-1 Pac-12) landed a big blow in the can-you-top this second half, going up 35-31 with 5:34 left when Matt Scott hit Austin Hill on a 7-yard touchdown.
The problem was that it left too much time for Mannion.
Knowing his team had moved the ball all game against the Wildcats, the calm-and-cool sophomore guided the Beavers 75 yards down the field in 10 plays. Facing a third-and-5 with just over a minute left, Mannion called out a play that sent one receiver into the left flat and Hamlett down the sideline. Arizona’s defenders followed the receiver in the flat and Mannion whipped a pass to Hamlet, who slipped just inside the pylon for the winning score.
Mannion finished 29 of 45 for the fifth-most passing yards in school history while setting a career high for the second week. He hit Markus Wheaton 10 times for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Brandin Cooks nine times for 149 yards.
Storm Woods added for 161 yards and a touchdown for the Beavers, off to their first 3-0 start since 2002.
“Arizona’s a great team and they came out guns blazing,” Beavers cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said. “We had to battle the whole game.”
Arizona nearly kept up with them.
Scott fought through a sprained ankle in the second half to throw for a career-high 403 yards and three touchdowns, but had two interceptions, including one near midfield in the final minute. Ka’Deem Carey ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Dan Buckner caught six passes for 119 yards and a score.
It wasn’t enough for Arizona, which has lost two straight after opening 3-0.
“Losing is losing,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “The kids are battling and they’re going to be all right. Just not right now.”
Oregon State had a strange, stop-and-start season before arriving in the desert.
The Beavers had their opener against Nicholls State postponed due to a hurricane, faced a ranked opponent the second week, followed by a bye and another ranked opponent.
They no trouble keeping a rhythm, knocking off No. 13 Wisconsin at home and No. 19 UCLA in the Rose Bowl behind a stingy defense and Mannion’s arm.
Oregon State kept the same theme going early against Arizona.
Mannion was sharp early, hitting Cooks on a 57-yard pass in the first quarter to set up a 2-yard touchdown pass to Wheaton in the back of the end zone.
Next series, Mannion hit Wheaton for a 51-yard gain, leading to Trevor Romaine’s 30-yard field goal.
Mannion found Kevin Cummings next, on a 38-yard pass to position Tyler Anderson for a 1-yard touchdown dive that put the Beavers up 17-0.
“They had a lot of guys wide open,” Rodriguez said. “When we blitzed, we couldn’t get to the quarterback and that makes it really tough on our defensive backs.”
Arizona’s offense tried to answer after sputtering early.
The Beavers bogged Arizona down in the first quarter and held when the Wildcats had their first sustained drive, which ended with John Bonano pushing a 30-yard field goal wide right after Scott was called for intentional grounding.
That wasn’t a good sign for the Wildcats, who went 0-for-6 in the red zone in a 49-0 loss to Oregon last week.
Arizona managed to end its red-zone woes late in the second quarter, though, when the officials checked the replay to see if Carey fumbled at the 1-yard line and determined he actually went into the end zone for a score that cut Oregon State’s lead to 17-7.
That drive seemed to be the spark the Wildcats needed.
Arizona kept rolling on its opening drive of the second half, quickly marching 91 yards in 10 plays for a 3-yard pass from Scott to Hill.
The Wildcats needed a minute to score again, this one a 24-yard run up the middle by Carey, who carried a couple of Oregon State defenders into the end zone with him to put Arizona up 21-17.
Scott made a mistake on the next drive, when Jordan Poyer missed an interception at midfield, then got it when the ball caromed off Richard Morrison. That set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Woods to give Oregon State the lead back.
Woods followed with a mistake of his own, losing a fumble at Oregon State’s 40. Scott then threw to the corner of the end zone to Buckner, who’s over-the-shoulder, 16-yard TD catch put the Wildcats up 28-24.
Mannion’s turn was next. Using a pump fake, he got the entire right side of Arizona’s defense to bite and winged a 20-yard touchdown to Wheaton that put the Beavers back out front.
Scott answered, marching the Wildcats for a 7-yard touchdown pass to Hill, who dived in the final yard to make it 35-31.
He just left too much time for Mannion and the Beavers, who head home to play Washington State next week with plenty of momentum on their side.
“We’re definitely enjoying this moment,” Woods said. “It took an entire year last years to get where we are today. The sky is the limit for us right now.”
No. 4 FLORIDA STATE 30, SOUTH FLORIDA 17
TAMPA, Fla. — EJ Manuel threw for 242 yards and a touchdown, helping Florida State remain unbeaten.
Receiver Rashad Greene got the Seminoles going with a 10-yard touchdown run, Christian Jones scored on a 12-yard fumble return and Penn State transfer Kevin Haplea had a 1-yard TD reception as the Seminoles (5-0) survived their first road test of the season by pulling away from a three-point lead with two TDs and a field goal in the final 5:09 of the third quarter.
Three years after returning to his hometown of Tallahassee to lead USF (2-3) to a 10-point upset of Florida State in his first college start, B.J. Daniels threw for 143 yards and ran for 72 more and two touchdowns for the Bulls.
No. 6 SOUTH CAROLINA 38, KENTUCKY 17
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Marcus Lattimore ran for two touchdowns and Connor Shaw passed for another in the second half as South Carolina scored 31 straight points.
Shaw was 15 of 18 for 148 yards as the Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) moved into a tie with Florida and Georgia atop the East division, with the Bulldogs coming to Columbia, S.C., next week.
Lattimore rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and Kenny Miles added a 17-yard score for South Carolina, which trailed Kentucky (1-4, 0-2) 17-7 after a ragged first half.
The Gamecocks returned to score on five of six possessions thanks to Shaw, who hit Damiere Byrd with a 30-yard touchdown before Miles’ TD put them ahead to stay.
Kentucky freshman Jalen Whitlow was 12 of 23 for 114 yards in relief of Maxwell Smith, who was knocked out on the first series with an ankle injury.
No. 15 TCU 24, SMU 16
DALLAS — Casey Pachall threw two touchdown passes, Jason Verrett had two interceptions and TCU extended its FBS-best winning streak to 12 games.
TCU (4-0) has won 11 of 13 over SMU and regained the Iron Skillet trophy, which goes to the winner of the Dallas-Fort Worth rivalry. The Horned Frogs’ previous loss came last season at home to the Mustangs (1-3).
The game was played in a heavy rainstorm. The rain picked up in intensity around kickoff and never relented as the game progressed.
SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw five interceptions, including one by Verrett on a desperation pass to end the game. The Mustangs turned the ball over six times.
No. 17 CLEMSON 45, BOSTON COLLEGE 31
BOSTON — Tajh Boyd threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns and ran in another for Clemson.
Boyd completed 28 of 38 passes and ran 11 times for 42 yards and a TD for Clemson (4-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). DeAndre Hopkins caught 11 passes for 197 yards for the Tigers, who bounced back after blowing a two-touchdown lead and losing 49-37 to No. 4 Florida State last week.
Andre Ellington ran 25 times for 132 yards and a touchdown for Clemson.
Chase Rettig, who entered the day as the leading passer in the ACC, completed 25 of 43 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Alex Amdion caught eight passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles (1-3, 0-2), who led 21-17 before giving up three straight touchdowns to fall behind 38-21.
No. 19 LOUISVILLE 21, SOUTHERN MISS 17
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Senorise Perry rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns, Jeremy Wright added 84 rushing yards and Louisville rallied in a downpour.
Louisville (5-0) trailed 17-6 midway through the second quarter, but scored 15 unanswered points for the win, even though star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was rendered nearly useless because of a driving storm that soaked the Roberts Stadium turf.
Perry scored both touchdowns during the rally. His 1-yard score pulled Louisville within 17-12 just before halftime and his 14-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner.
Louisville is off to its best start since 2006. Southern Miss (0-4) is in the midst of its worst start since 1976.
Southern Miss had a chance to win on the final drive, but a halfback pass by Desmond Johnson fell incomplete on fourth down.
No. 24 BOISE STATE 32, NEW MEXICO 29
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Joe Southwick passed for 311 yards and three touchdowns and Timmy Smith knocked down a fourth-down pass with two minutes to go for Boise State.
Boise State (3-1, 1-0) led by 25 points at half time after turning three Lobos’ fumbles into 18 points.
New Mexico (2-3, 0-1) turned two Broncos’ second-half fumbles into touchdowns to help close the gap. The Lobos did not throw a pass in the second half until its final play, but baffled the Broncos with their triple-option offense.
Jay Ajayi had 118 yards and a touchdown on six carries for Boise State.
New Mexico quarterback Cole Gautsche scored twice and added a 2-point conversion, carrying it 71 yards on 11 carries. Kasey Carrier added 86 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown.