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Sports

Top-ranked Tide crushes W. Kentucky

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 12:03 PM
STARKVILLE, Miss. -

AJ McCarron passed for 219 yards and matched his career high with four touchdown passes to lead top-ranked Alabama to a 35-0 victory against Western Kentucky.

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.

A running game that produced 232 yards against the Wolverines took a back seat to McCarron and the capitalistic defense. McCarron completed 14 of 19 passes and played all but the final series.

Norwood caught three passes for 92 yards.

NO. 3 LSU 41,

WASHINGTON 3

Alfred Blue rushed for 101 yards, including a 21-yard score, and LSU racked up 242 yards on the ground in a victory against Washington.

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.

LSU has won 39 straight against non-conference opponents in the regular season, tying a Football Bowl Subdivision record first set by Kansas State. Next weekend, the Tigers play Idaho, another non-conference opponent, and the game is at home, where LSU has won 19 straight.

Washington managed only 183 total yards, including only 26 on the ground. LSU had 437 yards and dominated time of possession, 33:39 to 26:21.

Four of the Huskies' 12 drives ended in LSU territory; the only scoring drive started on the LSU 20-yard line, where Odell Beckham Jr. fumbled the opening kickoff.

NO. 9 S. CAROLINA 48,

EAST CAROLINA 10

Dylan Thompson completed 21 of 37 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns to help South Carolina (2-0) beat East Carolina.

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.

Thompson's first completion was a 53-yard pass to Damiere Byrd. He finished the game averaging almost 16 yards a completion and did not throw an interception.

The rejuvenated passing game allowed Spurrier to use star running back Marcus Lattimore sparingly. He gained 40 yards on 13 carries.

East Carolina (1-1) gained 400 yards. But the Pirates turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions and a fumble in just 16 plays.

TENNESSEE 51,

GEORGIA STATE 13

Justin Hunter tied a school single-game record Saturday by catching three of Tyler Bray's four touchdown passes, as Tennessee (2-0) trounced Football Championship Subdivision program Georgia State (0-2) in its home opener.

Hunter caught eight passes for 146 yards in his second game back for Tennessee after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last September. A Tennessee player had caught three touchdown passes in a game eight previous times, most recently by Chris Hannon in a 59-21 victory over Mississippi State in 2003.

Bray went 18 of 20 for 310 yards and completed his last 13 passes, the third-longest streak in school history. His other touchdown pass was a 19-yarder to Mychal Rivera.

Rajion Neal added two touchdown runs for Tennessee, which broke the game open against the Panthers when Hunter scored twice in the last 4 1/2  minutes of the first half.

MISSISSIPPI STATE 28,

AUBURN 10

Tyler Russell threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns, Marcus Green caught two touchdown passes as Mississippi State (2-0, 1-0) beat Auburn (0-2, 0-1) 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 responded with 21 unanswered points.

Auburn struggled through an awful offensive performance. Kiehl Frazier completed 13 of 22 passes for 125 yards, three interceptions and two lost fumbles.

The victory broke a string of unsavory trends for the Bulldogs. They had lost 10 out of the last 11 against Auburn — including four straight — and hadn't won an SEC opener since 1999.

It was also coach Dan Mullen's first victory against the SEC Western Division's best four teams. He was 0-12 combined against Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn until Saturday's breakthrough.

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