Florida trailed 17-10 at halftime after a first half where Texas A&M’s offense under new coach Kevin Sumlin pretty much did what it wanted. Things changed in the second half as the Gators clamped down and forced punts each of A&M’s six possessions after the break.
Caleb Sturgis helped Florida cut A&M’s lead to 17-13 with a 25-yard field goal early in the third quarter.
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel looked indecisive most of the day and was sacked eight times. But he made a play when he had to, finding Omarius Hines on a 39-yard completion to propel a drive early in the fourth quarter.
Gillislee finished it off, evading a couple of defenders and then tight-roping the sideline on a 12-yard touchdown run to put Florida up 20-17. Gillislee had a 4 yard score in the first quarter.
Driskel also came up big late in the game with a 21-yard run to give the Gators a first down and allow them to run out the clock.
Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for 173 yards and ran for 60 more, but he couldn’t move A&M’s offense after halftime.
Saturday was Texas A&M’s opener after the Aggies and Louisiana Tech postponed last week’s game until Oct. 13 because of Hurricane Isaac. The Aggies’ second half offensive woes ruined a great day for their defense.
Jonathan Stewart finished with 17 tackles and Damontre Moore had three sacks.
Manziel, who was the first freshman quarterback to start a opener for the Aggies since 1944, looked great early. A&M’s first drive ended with a 27-yard field goal on their first drive.
The Gators soon took a 7-3 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Gillislee on their opening drive.
Manziel really heated up on the second drive, using his arm and his feet to move the Aggies down the field. His 11-yard touchdown scamper put A&M back on top 10-7 early in the second quarter.
Then the defense went to work. The Aggies collected three sacks on Florida’s next possession and quickly forced a punt.
Texas A&M used a bit of trickery en route to their next score. They went with an end-around receiver pass from Kenric McNeal to Mike Evans to gain 27 yards on second-down.
Christine Michael finished off the drive when he took the direct snap and bulled into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 17-7.
Texas A&M’s fifth sack of the game forced Florida to attempt a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter. Sturgis missed it, but A&M called a timeout, giving him another shot — and he nailed the second one to cut the lead to 17-10. It was the seventh field goal of 50 yards or more in his career to set a school record.
Driskel was 13 of 16 for 162 yards and Jordan Reed had five receptions for 59 yards.
Mississippi State 28, Auburn 10
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Tyler Russell threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns, Marcus Green caught two touchdown passes and Mississippi State easily beat Auburn 28-10 on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
Auburn briefly took a 10-7 lead when Onterio McCalebb returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to open the second half, but Mississippi State (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) responded with 21 unanswered points.
No. 9 South Carolina 48, East Carolina 10
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dylan Thompson completed 21 of 37 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 9 South Carolina (2-0) beat East Carolina 48-10 Saturday.
Thompson started the game in place of the injured Connor Shaw, and left little doubt coach Steve Spurrier made the right choice to let Shaw rest.
No. 1 Alabama 35, Western Kentucky 0
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — AJ McCarron passed for 219 yards and matched his career high with four touchdown passes to lead No. 1 Alabama to a 35-0 win over Western Kentucky on Saturday.
McCarron had two scoring tosses apiece to Christion Jones and Kevin Norwood in a performance that was more about big plays than consistent, muscle-flexing dominance for the top-ranked Crimson Tide (2-0). The Hilltoppers (1-1) were 40-point underdogs and the sandwich opponent between top 10 opponents Michigan and No. 8 Arkansas.
Tennessee 51, Georgia State 13
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Justin Hunter tied a school single-game record Saturday by catching three of Tyler Bray’s four touchdown passes, as Tennessee trounced Football Championship Subdivision program Georgia State 51-13 in its home opener Saturday.
Hunter caught eight passes for 146 yards in his second game back for Tennessee (2-0) after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last September.
No. 3 LSU 41, Washington 3
BATON ROUGE, La. — Alfred Blue rushed for 101 yards, including a 21-yard score, and No. 3 LSU racked up 242 yards on the ground in a 41-3 victory over Washington on Saturday night.
Power runner Kenny Hilliard added a pair of short touchdowns and fullback J.C. Copeland powered through for another score for LSU (2-0), which basically ran at will while averaging nearly 5 yards per carry.
Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger was an efficient 12-of-18 for 195 yards, including a 32-yard scoring strike to Kadron Boone. James Wright caught five passes for 75 yards.
Keith Price was 17 of 36 for 157 yards for the Huskies (1-1). Normally a good scrambler, Price had trouble with LSU’s speedy defenders, who sacked him four times and intercepted him once.
Mississippi 28, UTEP 10
OXFORD, Miss. — Bo Wallace threw for three touchdown passes and ran for another Saturday night as Mississippi defeated Texas-El Paso 28-10, improving to 2-0 for only the second time in 10 seasons.
Wallace ran for a 4-yard touchdown and had scoring passes of 55, 51 and 3 yards to Donte Moncrief, Jaylen Walton and H.R. Greer, respectively. Wallace finished 15 of 22 for 174 yards as the Rebels built an insurmountable 21-0 halftime lead.
UTEP (0-2) broke a touchdown drought of six quarters on the opening series of the third quarter as Nick Lamaison threw a 26-yard scoring pass to Jordan Leslie. The Miners pulled within 21-10 with 2:58 left in the third period on a 37-yard field goal by Steven Valadez.
Ole Miss sealed it on Wallace’s final touchdown pass to Greer with 11:18 remaining. The Rebels finished with 538 yards in total offense.
Louisiana-Monroe 34, No. 8 Arkansas 31 (OT)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Kolton Browning’s 16-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one lifted Louisiana-Monroe to a 34-31 overtime win over No. 8 Arkansas.
Browning accounted for 481 yards of total offense and four touchdowns to lead the Warhawks (1-0) to their first win over a Southeastern Conference team since defeating Alabama in 2007.
The Razorbacks (1-1) played the second half without quarterback Tyler Wilson, who suffered a head injury after taking several big hits in the first half.
Wilson, who also missed the second half against New Mexico last season with concussion-like symptoms, was 11-of-20 passing for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns before leaving the game at halftime.
Louisiana-Monroe outgained Arkansas 550-377 in total yards.
Northwestern 23, Vanderbilt 13
EVANSTON, Ill. — Venric Mark ran for 123 yards and a late touchdown, Tyler Scott forced a key fumble and Northwestern beat Vanderbilt 23-13 Saturday night.
Northwestern (2-0) didn’t score a touchdown in the first three quarters but managed 17 points in the fourth to come away with another dramatic win after beating Syracuse 42-41 in the opener
Kentucky 47, Kent State 14
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Maxwell Smith had a career-best 354 yards passing and four touchdowns and Raymond Sanders added a career-high 115 yards rushing as Kentucky beat Kent State 47-14 Saturday night to win its seventh straight home opener.
The Wildcats, who trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, racked up 539 yards to wear down the Golden Flashes. Aaron Boyd caught 11 passes for 100 yards for Kentucky (1-1).
Trayion Durham and Dri Archer each rushed for a touchdown for Kent State (1-1).
Boyd caught his first career touchdown in the back of the end zone with 14:04 remaining in the first half. Six minutes later, Sanders rushed 67 yards for a score, then Craig McIntosh booted a 47-yard field goal to give Kentucky a 17-7 halftime lead.
After Durham's 26-yard touchdown run pulled the Golden Flashes within 17-14, the Wildcats scored 30 unanswered points in the last 22:06.