BATON ROUGE, La. — With Alabama’s hopes of a second straight national title hanging by a thread, A.J. McCarron shook off a dismal second half and guided the Crimson Tide right down the field.
Talk about a Saturday night stunner in Death Valley.
McCarron read an LSU blitz and flipped a swing pass to T.J. Yeldon, who did the rest on a 28-yard touchdown with 51 seconds remaining that gave the top-ranked Crimson Tide a 21-17 victory over No. 5 LSU.
Alabama (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) now has a clear path to the league championship game in Atlanta, and remains solidly on course to defend its national title in Miami.
But this one was a struggle. Led by embattled quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU (7-2, 3-2) fought back from a 14-3 halftime deficit with an offensive performance that was nothing like their dismal showing against the Tide in last season’s BCS title game.
LSU was on the verge of putting the game away, driving into Alabama territory and forcing coach Nick Saban to call his remaining timeouts. But Drew Alleman missed a 38-yard field goal, and McCarron took over from there.
No. 2 Oregon 62, No. 18 USC 51
Kenjon Barner rushed for a school-record 321 yards and five touchdowns, Marcus Mariota threw four TD passes, and Oregon produced another landmark offensive performance against USC.
Josh Huff caught two touchdowns, and De’Anthony Thomas and Daryl Hawkins also caught scoring passes for the Ducks (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12), who outlasted USC in a back-and-forth second half to extend their winning streak to 12 games.
Oregon’s 730 yards and 62 points were the most ever allowed by USC, which began playing football in 1888.
Barner set a rushing record for a USC opponent by the third quarter.
Matt Barkley passed for 484 yards and four touchdowns.
No. 4 N. Dame 29, Pittsburgh 26
Everett Golson scored on a quarterback sneak in the third overtime and threw two touchdown pass during Notre Dame’s fourth-quarter comeback.
Notre Dame (9-0) won despite Ray Graham rushing for 172 yards for Pitt (4-5), which missed a potential game-winning field goal in overtime.
Golson threw an 11-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth. Notre Dame’s chances for a comeback appeared to end when Pitt’s K’Waun Williams intercepted Golson in the end zone.
But the Irish defense held and Golson completed a 45-yard pass to DaVaris Daniels at the Pitt 5. Golson then threw a 5-yard TD pass and ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game.
No. 6 Ohio St. 52, Illinois 22
Carlos Hyde rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns, and Braxton Miller passed for two scores and ran for another to lead Ohio State past Illinois.
Miller, considered a Heisman Trophy hopeful, had 18 carries for 73 yards and completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards.
It was the sixth straight loss for Illinois (2-7, 0-5).
No. 7 Georgia 27, Mississippi 10
Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes and Georgia overcame a slow start to beat Mississippi and move one win away from a spot in the SEC championship game.
Georgia (8-1, 6-1) trailed 10-0 before scoring 37 unanswered points. The Bulldogs can clinch the SEC East title and second straight trip to the conference championship game with a win at Auburn next week.
No. 8 Florida 14, Missouri 7
Mike Gillislee took a screen pass and went 45 yards for a touchdown, and Florida survived a scare to beat Southeastern Conference newcomer Missouri.
The Gators kept alive their hopes of winning the SEC’s Eastern Division.
Florida (8-1, 7-1) was shut out in the first half, managing just 111 yards and failing to contain Missouri quarterback James Franklin.
No. 10 Clemson 56, Duke 20
Tajh Boyd threw for 344 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes for the second straight week for Clemson.
DeAndre Hopkins caught three of those TD tosses in the opening quarter for the Tigers (8-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).