NCAA Football

Why the Big 12 Should Extend Invite to Top FCS Team North Dakota State

If the Big 12 is looking for expansion prospects, perhaps the league should look north. North of Kansas. North, toward Fargo, N.D., and North Dakota State.

Last month, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn't completely close the door on Big 12 expansion. With the league sitting at 10 teams—and needing 12 to hold a lucrative league title game—the topic came up at Big 12 Media Days.

The Big 12 commissioner said, per Keith Whitmire of the Deseret News, that expansion was possible only if the school brings "more than pro-rata value."

Between last year and this year, our distribution per school goes up $3.2 million per school. If you do that 12 ways instead of 10 ways, it goes up $2.5 million per school. You've got to have somebody that brings at least pro rata value, and that's a real short list.

I’m not sure about pro-rata value, but North Dakota State has certainly proved its value as a potential Big 12 member on the gridiron.

Saturday’s 34-14 thumping of Iowa State marked the program’s second consecutive win over a Big 12 North foe, and third in the last five years. It was the Bison’s eighth win over an FBS foe in the last nine years, and NDSU extended its win streak to 25 games. Per USA Today's Paul Myerberg, the Bison has the nation's fourth-longest win streak against FBS competition. 

North Dakota State has built something truly special in Fargo, with three consecutive FCS national titles. As Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval  noted, the Bison’s program DNA is hard-nosed defense and all-out effort. That hasn’t changed this season, although there was reason to believe NDSU might take a step back this fall.

Head coach Craig Bohl, the architect of the recent success, was hired away last December by Mountain West team Wyoming. And 24 seniors at the roster’s core graduated, finishing their eligibility following last season’s FCS national title win over Towson.

Defensive coordinator Chris Klieman was promoted to replace Bohl. And while Iowa State (3-9 in 2013) is nowhere near as impressive a conquest as beating defending Big 12 champion Kansas State with an 18-play, 80-yard, 8:30 touchdown drive, the Bison were solid Saturday regardless.

After spotting Iowa State a 14-0 lead, NDSU scored the game’s final 34 points, with first-time starting quarterback Carson Wentz completing 18 of 28 passes for 204 yards with no interceptions.

It’s unclear if North Dakota State could compete consistently with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor, but at the very least, the Bison have proven worthy of inclusion in the Big 12’s middle class, finding success against FBS teams while competing with the FCS-mandated 63 scholarship limit.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has campaigned for his team as a Big 12 expansion target. But if the Big 12 wants a passionate program that has proven it can hold its own with current league members, Bowlsby and Co. could certainly do a lot worse than North Dakota State.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Sweet Revenge, Doug Nussmeier's New Offense Exactly What Michigan Fans Needed

It’s been seven long years since the sky fell, and Michigan lost to Appalachian State. After last year’s 7-6 finish, the last thing many Michigan fans wanted was a reminder of when their program started its slide into mediocrity.

But Doug Nussmeier’s offense made sure there would be no replay of the 2007 debacle, rolling out to a 35-0 halftime lead behind the running attack of Derrick Green (15 carries for 174 yards, one touchdown), De’Veon Smith (eight carries for 115 yards, two touchdowns) and the passing tandem of Devin Gardner (13-of-14 for 173 yards and three touchdowns) and Devin Funchess (seven receptions for 95 yards, three touchdowns).

Michigan coasted during the second half, winning 52-14 and exacting a measure of revenge for the program’s 2007 loss to Appalachian State.

Green and Smith had dueled for the top spot at running back during camp but both played well, gashing Appalachian State for long gains while Devin Funchess showed himself worthy of his new No. 1 jersey

Nussmeier was hired to rebuild the Michigan offense around a dominant running game and Saturday that’s exactly what Michigan showed rolling for over 560 total yards (350 rushing, 210 passing).

The offense showed a lethal balance between the running and passing that it lacked last season, allowing quarterback Devin Gardner to distribute the ball among multiple teammates while not exposing himself to unnecessary hits from the defense.

“Devin managed the game and took care of the football,” said Hoke. “He played locked in.”

Last season, Michigan opened with a 59-9 thumping of Central Michigan, but the offense was overly dependent on Devin Gardner. Nussmeier’s new scheme proved too much for Appalachian State.

Hoke was reluctant to gush about his team’s new offense.

“We won the football game, we got in the end zone, and now we play Notre Dame.”

It’s only one game but after seven years of hearing about the program’s epic defeat at the hands of Appalachian State, Saturday’s win, and most importantly the way Michigan won, is a welcome relief to Wolverines fans.

 

All season statistics from MGoBlue.com, official University of Michigan athletic department website.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.

Follow @PSCallihan.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Offensive Line Must Improve If Brett Hundley Wants to Win Heisman

Forty-three minutes, 58 seconds: That's how far into its 28-20 win over Virginia No. 7 UCLA went before scoring its first—and only—offensive touchdown...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

How Much Trouble Is Ohio State In?

The Ohio State Buckeyes started their 2014 season with a 34-17 win vs. Navy in Baltimore, Maryland, but the game wasn't pretty.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Michael Felder discuss how worried Ohio State should be after its shaky start in Week 1.

How well do you think the Buckeyes will do in 2014? Watch the video and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Clemson vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

Early First Quarter

Clemson 7, Georgia 0

Clemson marched 70 yards for a touchdown on the game's opening possession.  How will Georgia respond?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA vs. Virginia: Game Grades, Analysis for Bruins

Yikes. UCLA was favored by three touchdowns heading into this contest. Not very many people expected Virginia to remain competitive throughout the game. The No. 7 Bruins narrowly eked out a victory by a score of 28-20 ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Grading J.T. Barrett's Debut Performance vs. Navy

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett had his first career start in a 34-17 win vs. Navy today in Baltimore, MD. Bleacher Report's college football analyst Michael Felder breaks down his first performance of the 2014 season. How well do you think Barrett will do as the season progresses?

 

Watch the video and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Youngstown State's Joey Cejudo Punts Ball Right at Lineman's Backside

This probably could have gone better.

During Saturday's game against the Illinois Fighting Illini, Youngstown State punter Joey Cejudo appeared to be trying to scramble for a first down.

Cejudo then changed his mind at the last minute and decided to punt, but the ball hit his lineman straight in the backside before rolling out of bounds. The Penguins ended up losing the game 28-17.

Mark Sanchez had the "butt fumble," but Cejudo now owns the "butt punt."

[Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

JT Barrett Debuts for Ohio State: Final Stat Line, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

J.T. Barrett made his first start for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday against Navy. The team was able to power through a tough Midshipmen group, winning 34-17, but the growing pains for the freshman quarterback were obvious and will take time to be worked out.  

Given Barrett's youth and inexperience, head coach Urban Meyer certainly wasn't expecting to see Braxton Miller 2.0. The good news is the defense and running game were able to carry Ohio State early, allowing the youngster to get his feet under him and make big plays when the team needed it. 

Here's a look at Barrett's full stat line from the game, along with highlights and reaction from around the Internet. 

Before the game started, Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer noted that former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce was predicting big things for Barrett:

While Bruce may have been wrong about how effective Barrett was going to be, the game got much better for him and the Buckeyes. Some of the problems early were on the rebuilt offensive line, as noted by Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer Ben Axelrod:

The Ohio State fan group known as Eleven Warriors certainly came out of the game with no complaints under the circumstances:

Barrett's biggest mistake came in the second quarter. Ohio State was trailing 7-3 and sitting deep in Navy territory. The Buckeyes got down to the 8-yard line following a 30-yard completion to Dontre Wilson, but it was followed by an interception on a poor decision from the freshman quarterback.

The good news is that would be the only mistake that cost the Buckeyes, as Barrett came out strong in the second half. He exploited Navy's defense in the third quarter, hitting Devin Smith for an 80-yard touchdown against busted coverage to give Ohio State a 20-14 lead. 

According to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, that was the longest touchdown Navy has allowed in a long time:

Passes like that are one reason Meyer felt comfortable giving the reins to a young quarterback. Even former Ohio State players like Eddie George like the way the team has eased Barrett into his role. George told Cleveland.com:

Barrett has gotten a ton of throws through the spring and now the fall. He's the guy and they can really tailor the game plan around him. J.T. is probably going to run a more conservative game plan and not put it on his shoulders to win the games. ...

... Ohio State has a ton of talent around (Barrett). There are explosive playmakers at every position on the offensive side of the ball, but defense will have to carry the brunt of the load and they can definitely do that with probably the best front seven in the entire country.

That was certainly the case against Navy. With the exception of the long touchdown pass, Meyer called a very conservative game, with just 15 pass attempts against 40 runs. As Barrett gains more experience, the playbook will open up and the offense may take off. 

For now, the best thing Ohio State and Barrett can say is they got the first week is behind them and the defense was able to lead the charge against a good Navy team.

It will be interesting to see how things change next week, if at all, with the Buckeyes playing Virginia Tech in prime time. That game is in Columbus, so Barrett will have the crowd in his corner. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State's Darron Lee Destroys Navy QB Keenan Reynolds

Though the college football season just began this week, we already have a nominee for one of the biggest hits of the year.

On Saturday, Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee plowed his way into the Navy backfield and completely leveled junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds. You can see another angle of the hit below.

As a redshirt freshman, that's one way for Lee to prove himself to his team.

[Instagram]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rice vs. Notre Dame: Live Score and Highlights

Notre Dame 31, Rice 10—Late 3rd Quarter

Football is back, and Notre Dame hosts Rice in a Week 1 matchup that has more storylines than one would have expected when this game was scheduled a few years ago.

This is the fifth meeting between these two teams, and the first since 1988.  Rice is 0-4 all-time against Notre Dame.  Can the Owls change their fortunes against the Irish today?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Appalachian State's Simms McElfresh Makes Acrobatic Touchdown Catch vs. Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines have easily handled Appalachian State so far Saturday, but the Mountaineers were finally able to get on the board with this fantastic catch.

In the third quarter, wide receiver Simms McElfresh made this terrific acrobatic grab in the end zone for a touchdown, giving his team its first points of the game. 

The touchdown didn't make much of a difference, however, as the Wolverines still led 42-7.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

West Virginia vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

The Alabama Crimson Tide and West Virginia Mountaineers will soon take the field at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Last season, Alabama fell just shy of another national championship appearance, so Nick Saban and the Tide look to open 2014 on a winning note.

West Virginia crawled to a 4-8 finish in 2013, but quarterback Clint Trickett leads a hopeful Mountaineers squad under fourth-year head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Depending on your local listings, ABC or ESPN2 will carry the nonconference bout, which is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Bleacher Report will provide live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arkansas vs. Auburn: Live Score and Highlights

The college football season in finally upon us, and the defending SEC champion Auburn Tigers are set to square off against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This will be the second Saturday game on the SEC Network, and kickoff time will be at 4 p.m.

Arkansas will look to bounce back from a disappointing season where it went 3-9, including a 0-8 mark in the SEC. The Razorbacks will be led by the running tandem of Johnathan Williams and Alex Collins.

Auburn lost key players Tre Mason, Greg Robinson and Dee Ford, but quarterback Nick Marshall returns and is coming off a season where he threw for nearly 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards.

Be sure to check back here when the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates, highlights and analysis.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Cold Hard Fact for Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fact: Underdogs have won five of the last six games ESPN's College GameDay has attended. The only favorite to win? Florida St. in the national title game.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

 

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCF Skydiver Completely Misses Stadium Before Game vs. Penn State in Ireland

The Penn State Nittany Lions and UCF Knights got the unique opportunity to play at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday, but things didn't get off to a great start for Central Florida.

Before the game, both teams had skydivers land on the field. Unfortunately, UCF's skydiver completely missed the stadium. Things didn't get any better from there, as the Knights ended up losing 26-24 to Penn State.

[Instagram, h/t SB Nation]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Kentucky's A.J. Stamps Grabs Impressive 1-Handed Interception

Kentucky opens up its 2014 season against University of Tennessee at Martin, and it looks like the Wildcats already have their first candidate for play of the year.

With UT-Martin quarterback Jarod Neal attempting to go deep, safety A.J. Stamps ran from across the field to knock it down with one hand for an interception. 

Stamps moved from cornerback to safety when he transferred to Kentucky. With ball-hawking skills like this, you can see why.

[via gifdsports]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Christian Hackenberg Sets Penn State Passing Record in Epic Victory vs. UCF

Four Thousand miles from home, under intense pressure, Christian Hackenberg showed why he should be considered one of college football’s elite young quarterbacks.

Few will forget head coach James Franklin’s Penn State debut, a heart-stopping 26-25 win over Central Florida in Dublin, Ireland. Hackenberg made sure Nittany Lion fans will remember it with pride.

The sophomore quarterback set a PSU single-game passing record with 454 yards passing, becoming the first Nittany Lion quarterback ever to throw for over 400 yards. And none were more important than the 47 he piled up on the Nittany Lions’ final drive.

Hackenberg and the Penn State offense got the ball back at their own 26 with 1:13 left in the game, trailing Central Florida 24-23. 

Golden Knights quarterback Justin Holman had just given UCF the lead with a scintillating eight-play, 75-yard drive, keyed by a 37-yard strike to Josh Reese on 4th-and-10 from the PSU 43 that set up Holman’s go-ahead touchdown run.

How would Hackenberg and Co. respond on an international stage, with the college football world watching before the day’s slate began stateside?

No pressure. No matter.

Facing a 4th-and-3 at his own 33, Hackenberg scrambled eight yards for a first down. Consecutive completions moved the ball to the UCF 37 with 17 seconds left. Following a timeout, Hackenberg tossed an 18-yard strike to Geno Lewis to the Golden Knights’ 19, allowing Sam Ficken to calmly boot a 36-yard game-winning field goal on the final play.

Hackenberg completed 32 of 47 passes on the day. While he wasn’t perfect (he had two interceptions and one touchdown), he showed grit and moxie while putting up his first career 400-yard passing game (he had four 300-yard games as a freshman).

This fall, Hackenberg has been widely expected to build on a great freshman year (2,955 yards passing with 20 touchdowns against 10 interceptions).

At 6'4", 193 pounds, he has excellent size and arm strength, and in Franklin's offense, he could also become a more mobile quarterback (although he had just two yards on five carries Saturday). With Ohio State's Braxton Miller sidelined by shoulder surgery, Hackenberg could become the Big Ten's top quarterback this fall.

If Saturday is any indication, he could be in for a special season in Happy Valley.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best Signs from ESPN's 'College GameDay' Week 1

The ESPN College GameDay crew kicked off the 2014 season in Fort Worth, Texas, before No. 1 Florida State's showdown against unranked Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

Below are our favorite signs, including some that didn't make it to air.

Of course, any game against Jameis Winston will include some crab-leg jokes. These actually accounted for roughly two-thirds of all the visible signs.

Not all of the signs were about Jameis or crabs, however. Some took shots at Kirk Herbstreit, University of Texas head coach Charlie Strong, USC cornerback Josh Shaw and former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel, too.

[Busted Coverage, SB Nation]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Penn State vs. UCF: Game Grades, Analysis for the Nittany Lions

The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Central Florida Knights 26-24 after Sam Ficken drilled a 36-yard field goal as time expired.

As the dust settles in Dublin, it's time to pass out grades for Penn State's performance in the 2014 season opener.

 

Pass Offense

Christian Hackenberg tossed two interceptions and made a few more questionable throws, but he was otherwise spectacular. The sophomore set a school record with 454 passing yards, connecting with Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton a combined 19 times for 338 yards and one touchdown.

Jesse James added seven catches and 60 yards, giving Hackenberg a reliable target in the middle of the field.

Run Offense

Bad, bad, bad. The Penn State offensive line struggled to control the line of scrimmage, and the running backs found few open lanes. Between Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton, the Nittany Lions managed just 48 yards on 22 attempts.

With a total of three yards, Hackenberg was the team's leading rusher at halftime. Yeah, it was that bad.

Pass Defense

Penn State's secondary started well, holding UCF to just 18 passing yards throughout the first 30 minutes. However, some of that success can be attributed to Pete DiNovo's less-than-stellar play, and he was subsequently replaced by Justin Holman.

During the second half, Holman made a few tough throws and engineered three scoring drives largely by his arm.

Run Defense

Central Florida was without powerful back Will Stanback, but the Nittany Lions proved strong in the trenches. Penn State held the Knights to 24 yards on 29 attempts.

Ultimately, the biggest negative was Holman's go-ahead touchdown via a well-timed quarterback draw.

Special Teams

Saved by the boot. Ficken connected on all four field goals, with his longest being the game-winning 36-yarder. He also converted on a pair of extra points.

Grant Haley averaged 28.8 yards per kick return, and Chris Gulla's lone punt traveled 41 yards.

Coaching

James Franklin's debut was not crisp, making a few strange decisions highlighted by poor clock management that nearly cost Penn State a chance to win. Defensively, Bob Shoop had a decent gameplan, limiting UCF to 246 offensive yards.

Offensive coordinator John Donovan repeatedly gave his quarterback an excellent opportunity to succeed. Both interceptions were Hackenberg's mistakes and not a result of questionable plays.

 

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages