Matt Corral leads No. 10 Ole Miss past Vandy in home finale

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
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OXFORD, Miss.- Matt Corral threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in his home finale and No. 10 Mississippi beat Vanderbilt 31-17 on Saturday night.

“It was a sandwich game and there are some teams that got upset this season in that situation. We didn’t,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “I was a little surprised by how we played, but we came away with the win. It is what it is.”

Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) never trailed, with Corral throwing an 8-yard scoring pass to Jerrion Ealy in the opening minutes en route to a 24-9 halftime lead.

Corral completed 27 of 36 passes, including a 10-yard touchdown strike to Dontario Drummond early in the second quarter. The Rebels led 31-9 in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by Henry Parrish Jr.

“It was a sloppy win, but what’s going through my head is getting ready tomorrow,” Corral said. “I’m happy to win, but I’m not happy with my performance.”

Drummond had seven catches for 81 yards. Ealy had 154 yards of offense, highlighted by a 68-yard kickoff return and a 4-yard touchdown run. Jahcour Pearson had 101 yards receiving as the Rebels finished with 470 yards.

“We knew that they had a dynamic player at quarterback. I did not feel like we made enough plays on him when we had opportunities particularly in the first half,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “You have to make the plays and you have to interlock all three phases. We weren’t able to do that effectively enough tonight.”

Rocko Griffin ran for 117 yards and touchdown for Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7). Joseph Bulovas added three field goals as the Commodores controlled the ball for more than 38 minutes and finished with 454 total yards.

“I’m proud of the way this team is fighting,” said quarterback Mike Wright, who completed 22 of 44 passes for 241 yards.

THE TAKEAWAYS

Vanderbilt: Over a three-year span, the Commodores are 0-20 in the SEC.

The effort was admirable and Griffin was a work horse. The first year of a massive rebuilding job by Clark Lea ends next week, but not before facing another high-powered offense at Tennessee.

Ole Miss: The Rebels were good enough in a sandwich game between No. 16 Texas A&M and in-state rival Mississippi State. Ole Miss remains in position to earn a New Year’s Six bowl bid, a 10-win regular season and a Top 10 ranking heading into a high stakes Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff on the line and we’ve got to get locked in,” Corral said. “It’s a quick turnaround to Thursday and there’s a lot to get done.”

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt: At Tennessee on Saturday.

Ole Miss: At Mississippi State for the Egg Bowl on Thursday.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.