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Crimson Tide able to survive a near miss

Washington State defensive tackle Toby Turpin punches a water cooler in frustration in the final minutes of the Cougars' 69-0 loss to Southern Cal. Washington State defensive tackle Toby Turpin punches a water cooler in frustration in the final minutes of the Cougars' 69-0 loss to Southern Cal. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)
Associated Press / October 19, 2008
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Turns out No. 2 Alabama plays pretty well from behind. It's playing from ahead that gave the Crimson Tide fits yesterday.

Alabama surged to a big halftime lead after trailing for the first time all season, then let most of it slip away before coming up with a late defensive stand to hold off Mississippi for a 24-20 victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

"That hadn't happened to us yet this year," quarterback John Parker Wilson said. "It was good to see us respond."

In the end, it was another down-to-the-wire win for the Tide (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) over the Rebels, who dominated the second half and still had a shot at the upset approaching the final minute.

This one wasn't decided until Jevan Snead's fourth-and-5 pass to Dexter McCluster, who was well covered by Javier Arenas, fell incomplete with 61 seconds to play.

The Tide have won their past two games by a total of 7 points since rising to No. 2 with a series of easy victories. It was also another in a series of close calls with Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3). Alabama had won each of the past three meetings by a field goal, but holds a commanding 23-1 advantage in Tuscaloosa.

"I said it all week long: Ole Miss is really a good football team," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I believed it. I don't know if our players believed it, but I think they do a fantastic job and they've got good players."

Wilson threw for a season-high 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns and helped Alabama race to 24 straight points after facing a 3-0 deficit and giving up points in the opening quarter for the first time all season.

Then Ole Miss answered with 17 straight points and closed to within 24-20 on Joshua Shene's 35-yard field goal with 6:09 left.

Texas 56, Missouri 31 - Not only did Colt McCoy win his Heisman-hopeful matchup with Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, the No. 1 Longhorns thoroughly dominated the 11th-ranked Tigers in Austin, Texas.

Texas (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) played as close to a perfect half of football as you could get, bolting to a 35-0 lead. The Longhorns scored on their first five possessions, and McCoy finished with 337 yards on 29-of-32 passing with two touchdowns. At one point completed a school-record 17 passes in a row.

The Longhorns kept Daniel the run, sacking him on the Tigers' third play and holding Missouri (5-2, 1-2) to just one first down on its first four possessions. Daniel finished with 318 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Penn St. 46, Michigan 17 - Evan Royster ran for 174 yards and a TD, and the third-ranked Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0) withstood the visiting Wolverines' early flurry and snapped a nine-game losing streak to their Big Ten rivals, who fell to 2-5, 1-2.

Southern Cal 69, Washington St. 0 - Mark Sanchez became the first USC quarterback to throw five TD passes in a half and the No. 6 Trojans (5-1, 3-1 Pac-10) breezed past the Cougars (1-7, 0-5) in Pullman, Wash. It was the largest shutout victory for USC since 1931 and Washington State's largest margin of defeat since it began playing in 1894.

Texas Tech 43, Texas A&M 25 - At College Station, Texas, Graham Harrell threw for three TDs and ran for two more to lead the seventh-ranked Red Raiders (3-0 Big 12) to their first 7-0 start in 32 years.

Oklahoma St. 34, Baylor 6 - Dez Bryant had a career-high 11 catches for 212 yards and two TDs as the No. 8 Cowboys (7-0, 3-0 Big 12), playing their first game as a top-10 team since 1988, scored on four straight first-half possessions to coast on the road.

Georgia 24, Vanderbilt 14 - Knowshon Moreno rushed for a season-high 172 yards, but the 10th-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 SEC) struggled to put away the No. 22 Commodores (5-2, 3-2) at home after twice building a 14-point lead.

Ohio St. 45, Michigan St. 7 - Freshman Terrelle Pryor ran for a score and threw for another in the first half, helping the No. 12 Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) build a four-touchdown lead en route to a home blowout of the No. 20 Spartans (6-2, 3-1).

LSU 24, South Carolina 17 - The No. 13 Tigers (5-1, 3-1 SEC) held the Gamecocks (5-3, 2-3) to minus-7 yards in the fourth quarter, and Charles Scott ran 2 yards for the go-ahead TD with 4:16 to play in Columbia, S.C.

Utah 49, Colorado St. 16 - Backup quarterback Corbin Louks ran for 109 yards and two TDs and starter Brian Johnson threw two scoring passes as the 14th-ranked Utes (8-0, 4-0 Mountain West) cruised past the Rams (3-4, 1-2) in Salt Lake City.

South Florida 45, Syracuse 13 - Matt Grothe threw three TD passes and ran for another score as the No. 19 Bulls (6-1, 1-1 Big East) steamrolled the Orange (1-6, 0-3) in Tampa.

Pitt 42, Navy 21 - At Annapolis, Md., LeSean McCoy rushed for three TDs and 156 yards as the No. 23 Panthers (5-1) won their fifth in a row.

Arizona 42, California 27 - Willie Tuitama threw for two TDs during a 28-point third quarter that propelled the host Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) past the No. 25 Golden Bears (4-2, 2-1).

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