Oregon running back C.J. Verdell heads toward the end zone for a touchdown against Ohio State in the first half of the Ducks’ 35-28 win on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — C.J. Verdell ran for 161 yards and had three touchdowns as shorthanded No. 12 Oregon exploited a porous Ohio State defense to upset the No. 3 Buckeyes 35-28 for their first regular-season loss in nearly three years.

Ohio State (1-1) never led the game it was favored the win by 14 1/2 points despite gaudy numbers from freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud. Its front seven struggled to contain Verdell, control the edge and get after Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown in front.

The Buckeyes had a chance to tie it late after pulling within a touchdown with 7:55 left. But when they got the ball again, Stroud, who passed for 472 yards and three touchdowns, took his first sack of the day and then was intercepted by Verone McKinley III on a desperation sideline pass on third-and-18 at the Oregon 35 with 2:50 to go in front of a stunned crowd of more than 100,000.

Stroud, trying to show he is a worthy heir to Justin Fields, likely will be fine. It’s the Ohio State defense that needs work.

Twice in the first half Verdell scurried around the left end – one of them was a pitch pass on fourth-and-1 – and went untouched into the end zone from 14 yards out. Travis Dye exploited the left side again, running from 5 yards out to give the Ducks a 28-14 third-quarter lead.

Three plays into the second half, Verdell blasted through the middle untouched and outran defensive backs for a 77-yard score. He went left again for a 7-yard gain and a first down in the fourth quarter, one play before Brown connected with Moliki Matavao for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Ducks a 35-21 lead with 12:46 left.

(1) ALABAMA 48, MERCER 14: Bryce Young threw three touchdown passes and Jase McClellan scored three times to fuel the Crimson Tide (2-0) to a rout against the Bears (1-1) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

(2) GEORGIA 56, UAB 7: Stetson Bennett tied a school record with five touchdown passes filling in for injured starter JT Daniels, leading the Bulldogs (2-0) past the Blazers (1-1) in Athens, Georgia.

Bennett completed his first six passes – four of them going all the way to the end zone.

(5) TEXAS A&M 10, COLORADO 7: Backup quarterback Zach Calzada threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Spiller with 2:41 remaining and the Aggies (2-0) escaped with a win over the Buffaloes (1-1) in Denver.

(7) CINCINNATI 42, MURRAY STATE 7: Jerome Ford rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns, Desmond Ridder passed for 243 yards and two TDs, and the Bearcats (2-0) won at home against the Racers (1-1).

(8) NOTRE DAME 32, TOLEDO 29: Jack Coan hit Michael Mayer for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining for the third lead change in a wild fourth quarter as the Fighting Irish (2-0) beat the Rockets (1-1) in South Bend, Indiana.

The victory preserved a 25-game home winning streak for Notre Dame. Toledo had taken a 29-24 lead on freshman quarterback Dequan Finn’s 26-yard bootleg TD run with 1:35 remaining.

(11) PENN STATE 44, BALL STATE 13: Sean Clifford completed 21 of 29 passes for 230 yards, ran for a touchdown and threw for another to lead the Nittany Lions (2-0) past the visiting Cardinals (1-1).

(13) FLORIDA 42, SOUTH FLORIDA 20: The Gators (2-0) tuned up for the start of Southeastern Conference play with a rout of the overmatched Bulls (0-2)  that may — or may not — have answered the question of whether starter Emory Jones or backup Anthony Richardson is best suited to run the Gators offense.

The quarterbacks shared playing time for the second straight week, with each having his way in the opening half against a USF defense that allowed touchdowns on five consecutive possessions after producing a three-and-out to start the game.

(19 VIRGINIA TECH 35, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 14: Raheem Blackshear rushed for two touchdowns to lead the Hokies (2-0) to a victory over the Blue Raiders (1-1) in Blacksburg, Virginia.

The Hokies scored on their first three possessions of the second half, including back-to-back TDs by Blackshear, in a game they led 14-7 at halftime.

Virginia Tech broke open the game when Jalen Holston scored on a 29-yard, third-quarter run to take a 21-7 lead. Blackshear, who rushed for 58 yards, then scored on runs of 6 yards and 1 yard on ensuing possessions to help the Hokies build a 35-7 cushion.

(25) AUBURN 62, ALABAMA STATE 0: Demetris Robertson scored three touchdowns and Jarquez Hunter rushed for 147 yards as the Tigers (2-0) raced past FCS program Alabama State 62-0 in Auburn, Alabama.

After a fast start in Bryan Harsin’s first game as head coach last week, Auburn was held to just one offensive touchdown and fewer than 200 yards in the first half. But the Tigers erupted for 35 points in the third quarter to pull away with ease.

BOSTON COLLEGE 45, UMASS 28: Dennis Grosel replaced injured starter Phil Jurkovec in the first half and passed for 199 yards and a touchdown and ran for another as the Eagles (2-0) beat the Minutemen (0-2) in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Pat Garwo ran for 160 yards on 15 carries for the Eagles, who won their 11th straight against UMass.

STONY BROOK 24, COLGATE 3: Tyquell Fields threw for one touchdown and ran for another to lead the Seawolves (1-1) to a victory over the Raiders (0-2) in Hamilton, New York.

Ty Son Lawton added a rushing score and finished with 134 yards on the ground, going over 1,000 for his career.

RICHMOND 31, LEHIGH 3: Joe Mancuso threw two scores and Aaron Dykes and Savon Smith each ran for a touchdown and the Spiders (2-0) squashed the Mountain Hawks (0-2) in Richmond, Virginia.

The Spiders scored four times in the second quarter.

Mancuso sandwiched passing scores of 7 and 4 yards to Dykes and Leroy Henley respectively around 2-yard scoring runs by Smith and Dykes for a 28-3 lead at halftime. Mancuso threw for 131 yards, Smith ran for 74 yards and Dykes 71.

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