Top-ranked University of Oregon and No. 2 Auburn University rallied from halftime deficits to retain their perfect records in college football, while No. 3 Boise State suffered its first defeat.
Oregon defeated No. 21 University of Arizona 48-29 yesterday, while Auburn beat No. 9 University of Alabama 28-27. Oregon and Auburn are on course to compete in the Bowl Conference Championship national title game as the top two teams in the BCS rankings.
Boise State’s hope of playing for the championship ended with a 34-31 overtime loss at No. 19 Nevada that snapped the Broncos’ 24-game winning streak.
At Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon, Darron Thomas passed for three touchdowns and ran for one and LaMichael James rushed for two scores as Oregon’s Ducks fought back from a 19-14 halftime deficit.
“They’ve been a second-half team all along,” said Arizona coach Mike Stoops. “You can slow them down but you can’t stop them.”
Thomas completed 14 of 24 passing attempts for 148 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for Oregon (11-0). He also carried six times for 62 yards and one touchdown.
Josh Huff ran for 85 yards to give Oregon its first lead of the game, 20-19, 90 seconds into the third quarter. Thomas followed with a 20-yard scoring run and passed for a touchdown in the third quarter, with James sealing the win in the fourth with back-to-back scores 30 seconds apart.
National Title Ahead
“I treat every game like it’s the Super Bowl,” James said. “I get excited, I run around. I hope everybody can feed off me and they did.”
Nick Foles completed 29 of 54 passing attempts for a career-high 448 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for Arizona’s Wildcats (7-4). He connected twice with Juron Criner in the first quarter.
The Ducks, who claimed their second straight Pacific 10 conference title, can clinch a spot in the national championship game in Glendale, Arizona, with a victory at Oregon State on Dec. 4.
At Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the second-ranked Auburn Tigers rallied from a 21-0 first-quarter deficit to beat Alabama, moving within one win of an undefeated regular season.
Down by 24-7 at the half, the Tigers (12-0) scored 21 second-half points against the defending national champion Crimson Tide (9-3). Auburn took a 28-27 lead with 11:55 remaining in the game on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Newton to Philip Lutzenkirchen and closed the game with a pair of defensive stands, the second against Alabama back-up quarterback A.J. McCarron.
‘Battled to End’
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Auburn senior offensive lineman Lee Ziemba said following the game. “You can see how resilient they are. They battled to the end.”
Newton, a contender for the Heisman Trophy -- awarded annually to the best player in college football -- despite allegations he violated National Collegiate Athletic Association recruiting regulations, was 13-for-20 passing for 216 yards and three touchdowns. Newton also rushed for 39 yards, 79 fewer than his 118-yard season average, including a 1-yard scoring run.
“He’s the man,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said of the junior quarterback. “I will go to bat for him 100 times out of 100.”
The game was the 75th edition of the Iron Bowl, played each year between the Southeastern Conference rivals located 160 miles (257 kilometers) apart in Alabama. The Tigers play No. 18 South Carolina (8-3) in the SEC championship game on Dec. 4 in Atlanta.
Nevada (11-1) rallied in the second half at Mackay Stadium in Reno to end Boise State’s unbeaten season.
Kellen Moore threw for two touchdowns and Doug Martin ran for two for Boise State (10-1), which led 24-7 at halftime. After Reno rallied to tie the game 24-24, the Broncos retook the lead on Moore’s 79-yard pass to Martin with 4:53 left.
Nevada tied the game with 13 seconds remaining as Colin Kaepernick threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews.
Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation and also a 29-yard kick in overtime. Nevada’s Anthony Martinez then hit a 34-yard field for the victory.