Kenny Irons ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns in his return to South Carolina and No. 2 Auburn knocked away a last-chance pass to keep its unbeaten season alive with a 24-17 victory over the Gamecocks last night in Columbia.
Along with Irons's ground game and their rock-solid defense, the Tigers (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) displayed a passing game that helped them take every snap of the third quarter.
Brandon Cox completed 9 of 13 passes for 125 yards in the third period to keep Auburn moving and the South Carolina offense off the field.
On the opening drive of the second half, Cox hit Lee Guess for 12 yards on third and 11. The quarterback later connected with Tommy Trott on an 11-yarder that set up John Vaughn's 24-yard field goal.
Then with the Gamecocks (3-2, 1-2) feeling good about holding Auburn out of the end zone, coach Tommy Tuberville took a page from Steve Spurrier's book and stunned the Gamecocks with a perfectly executed onside kick.
Cox came out firing again. He had an 18-yard pass to Courtney Taylor, an 8-yarder to Robert Dunn on fourth and 6, and a 25-yarder to Taylor on third and 21. Irons finished the drive on the first play of the fourth quarter, scoring on fourth and goal from the 1 to put Auburn ahead, 24-10.
Still, it took Auburn's defense to save this one. South Carolina closed to a touchdown on Syvelle Newton's 25-yard pass to Jared Cook with 8:25 to go. Then the Gamecocks got the ball back one last time, driving to the Tigers' 6. However, on fourth down, Newton's floater to Sidney Rice was batted away by Patrick Lee with 19 seconds left.
For Irons, it was a much sweeter time at Williams-Brice Stadium than his last game there. He was on the Gamecocks' sideline watching the team's 63-17 loss to Clemson and clearly in coach Lou Holtz's doghouse. Irons decided it was better to leave than remained buried on the Gamecocks' depth chart.
BYU 31, TCU 17 -- John Beck threw for 321 yards and three second-half touchdowns to help the visiting Cougars end the No. 17 Horned Frogs' winning streak at 13 games. The streak was the longest in Division 1-A.
BYU (3-2, 1-0 Mountain West) beat a Top 25 team for the first time since 1999, a stretch of 12 games since a victory over Colorado State. The Cougars went to double overtime at then-No. 23 Boston College earlier this month before losing, 30-23.
TCU (3-1, 0-1) hadn't lost since a 21-10 defeat at SMU in the second game last season, a week after the Horned Frogs opened the 2005 season with an upset victory at Oklahoma.
Jeff Ballard, who was 26 of 49 for 296 yards with a touchdown and an interception, lost for the first time in 12 starts as TCU's quarterback. He has started every game since taking over late in the third quarter at BYU last September when the Frogs trailed by 16 points, then rallied to win, 51-50, in overtime.