NCAA Football

Joe Montana's Son Turns the Ball over by Spiking the Ball on 4th Down

There are certain things, like spiking the football, that you just don't do on fourth down. You would think that of all people, Joe Montana's son—Tulane quarterback Nick Montana—would know that.

With his team out of timeouts and the clock winding down near the end of the first half of Tulane's game against Central Florida on Saturday, the senior quarterback spiked the football. However, the spike came on fourth down, which meant that the Green Wave had turned the ball over on downs.

Obviously, Montana was in a tough spot. The only thing he really could have done was take a shot at the end zone.

The Green Wave may not have been able to call a play that quickly, but the attempt likely wouldn't have been as embarrassing as spiking the ball on fourth down.

[Vine]

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Rutgers vs. Ohio State: Live Score and Highlights

Ohio State 21, Rutgers 7 — Early 2nd quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 13 Ohio State (4-1) and Rutgers (5-1). ABC and ESPN2 are televising the matchup from Columbus.

We are watching the game, providing live analysis as the action unfolds:

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Texas A&M vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

Alabama 17, Texas A&M 0—Early 2nd Quarter

The No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies and No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide are attempting to rebound from subpar performances and stay alive in the SEC West.

CBS is carrying the conference matchup, and Bleacher Report is providing live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard Lands on Camera Equipment While Trying to Catch TD

Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard gave a great effort trying to haul in this pass in the first half against Kansas State on Saturday, and he ended up paying the price.

Shepard was unable to stay on his feet after grabbing the ball. With cameramen everywhere behind the end zone, the Sooners wideout didn't have much breathing room and ended up landing on camera equipment. The result: Shepard injured his hip on the play.

Although he gave a great effort, he was unable to get a foot down in the end zone.

Luckily, Shepard was able to shake off the rough landing and come out ready for the second half.

[FanSided, Sooner Scoop]

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Cold Hard Fact for Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fact: Kansas State FB Glenn Gronkowski's 62-yard TD reception on Saturday is longer than any reception his brother, Rob, has in college or in the pros.

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

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Kentucky vs. LSU: Live Score and Highlights

The Kentucky Wildcats are traveling to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday night to face LSU. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. EDT, and it will air on the SEC network.

Kentucky has a 2-1 record in the SEC and has won its last three games. The Wildcats boast one of the better defenses in the country, averaging 18.7 points allowed per game, which ranks 16th in the country.

They are going up against an LSU team that has seen its share of struggles this year, despite a 5-2 record. The Tigers are 1-2 in SEC play and have one of the worst passing attacks in the country, averaging 205 passing yards per game.

Be sure to come back to this live blog as soon as the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates and highlights.

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Tennessee vs. Ole Miss: Live Score and Highlights

The Tennessee Volunteers will take on the No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels at 7 p.m. ET in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday.

Second-year Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is looking for his team's first upset of the season, while Ole Miss is trying to preserve its perfect season.

The Vols are only a handful of plays away from being undefeated in conference play, but the team's young and inexperienced offensive line is giving up too many sacks. 

Meanwhile, the Rebels have one of the best defensive lines in the country, headlined by defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, 247Sports' No. 1 overall recruit in 2013.

Tennessee's offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian will have to get creative to keep Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley on his feet and moving the offense down the field.

Stay tuned right here for updates and analysis as we head to kickoff.

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Jameis Winston Will Shine in Florida State's Showdown vs. Notre Dame

For all the noise that has surrounded Jameis Winston throughout his tenure as Florida State's quarterback, one thing that's never changed is what happens between the lines. There's no reason to expect anything different on Saturday night against Notre Dame. 

Winston's latest off-field controversy involves the signing of memorabilia. Florida State has been investigating the matter, though athletic director Stan Wilcox said in a statement released Friday that there's no information, via ESPN.com:

At this time we have no information indicating that he accepted payment for items reported to bear his signature, thereby compromising his athletics eligibility. The fact that items appear on an Internet site bearing the signature of a student-athlete does not singularly determine a violation of NCAA rules.

Due to the investigation, there was some uncertainty whether or not Winston would be allowed to play this week against Notre Dame. Georgia has been investigating a similar situation involving star running back Todd Gurley and indefinitely suspended him as a result. 

Head coach Jimbo Fisher squashed any notion that Florida State would or should suspend Winston during the investigation in an appearance on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike, via Warchant.com:

Everyone outside of Florida State wants to talk about what Winston needs to do or how the school isn't doing him any favors. Bo Jackson went on The Jim Rome Show, via Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, to say that he's done trying to mentor the 2013 Heisman winner:

I'm the type of person, I will go out of my way to help anybody. Normally, I don't like giving people advice if I haven't been down that road myself. But if I give you advice on something that I know more about than you by just falling out of bed in the morning, if you can't take that advice and learn from it, then I've got nothing else to do with the situation. You're on your own.

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said in an interview with ESPN, via Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports, that Winston has "got to grow up."

None of this ever seems to stop Winston from looking like the defending Heisman winner at kickoff. He may not be playing at the same level he was in 2013, but how many teams would love a quarterback completing 70 percent of his passes with 1,605 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games?

Oh, per ESPN's College Football, Winston also has the best winning percentage among active FBS quarterbacks:

Everett Golson deserves a lot of credit for helping the Fighting Irish start 6-0 this season, though he's also been mistake-prone in the last few weeks. The senior quarterback has thrown all four of his interceptions in the last three weeks and lost five fumbles during that span. 

Plus, Winston will be going against a Notre Dame defense that just gave up 43 points and 510 yards to North Carolina. Do you think he's not licking his chops trying to get after this group after seeing that shootout last week?

Some athletes have an ability to compartmentalize things. Winston told Kevin Armstrong of The New York Daily News that his peace comes on game day:

"When you get in between those lines," Winston said, "all the cameras and stuff, all the cameras are on you, and we’re out there playing football, man."

No one will ever accuse Winston of being a model citizen. There are times when the off-field antics—whether it's shouting an obscene phrase on campus, being cited for shoplifting crab legs or the autograph investigation—seem like they are too much and threaten to overwhelm the program. 

Then you see the talent on the field and how naturally the game comes to Winston. He's going to have no problems putting everything on the back burner for a marquee matchup like the one at Doak Walker Stadium on Saturday. 

The Seminoles need Winston to be great, and he's consistently lived up to the challenge when anyone has doubted him. This game with Notre Dame won't be any different. 

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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Everett Golson Must Correct Turnover Issues for Notre Dame to Upset FSU

In the weeks leading up to one of the biggest games of his collegiate career, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has looked anything but ready for the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles.

Golson shot out of the gates faster than anyone could have imagined after a season away from the game, blowing away three opponents—including a 31-0 rout of Michigan—while tossing seven touchdowns to no interceptions.

While his individual chances at season-ending hardware ascended, so too did the whispers that his Fighting Irish would make a serious run at the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Then it all came crashing down.

It has been a tale of two seasons for Golson, whose Heisman hopes have evaporated for the time being thanks to his struggles in his last three games:

ESPN Stats & Info breaks things down in visual form:

Not too alarming, right? The touchdowns still outweigh the interceptions and the team continues to win.

Ponder this, though:

  • A Golson interception went back for a touchdown against Syracuse. One of his two fumbles came in the red zone.
  • In a narrow win over Stanford in which the cliche "game of inches" came to life, Golson threw a red-zone interception and fumbled in the red zone.
  • Against North Carolina, three of his turnovers led to scores for the Tar Heels—an interception was returned for a touchdown and two fumbles came with his back against his own end zone.

Such mistakes can fly against a Syracuse or North Carolina. With a flip of a coin, they even fly against Stanford.

Florida State? No way.

According to Tobin Petitpas of ESPN.com, Golson's five fumbles are more than a whopping 73 FBS teams. It is an issue that many have suggested has not been a focal point, as Irish Illustrated mused during Golson's encounter with the Tar Heels:

“We took all of his fumbles, and they are all contact-related fumbles," coach Brian Kelly said, per Andy Staples of SI.com. "That’s what we need to eradicate.”

Mario Edwards Jr., a surefire first-round NFL pick, and the Seminoles defense surrender just 20.7 points per game. There is no trickery or disguises, either. What Golson sees is what he will get—the Seminoles are that long, athletic and disciplined.

The Florida State defense not only allows just 47.4 percent of third-down attempts, it has six fumble recoveries and five interceptions while allowing only two opponents to break the 30-point barrier this season.

As Petitpas breaks down, Golson is doing entirely too much work. He needs help from the talent around him. Goslon has just two fewer rushes than lead back Tarean Folston, who has 263 yards and two scores on a 4.4 yards-per-carry average.

Golson has the talent to keep Florida State honest. If nothing presents itself downfield, he can take what the defense gives him on the ground. But if he turns the ball over, it will quickly turn into a rout.

Wasted scoring opportunities or miscues that put Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in easy scoring position will turn Saturday's marquee contest ugly in a hurry.

For Golson, Saturday is now-or-never time. His team's CFP hopes hinge on his ability to take care of the football. The basics come first against a prolific opponent. The rest will follow, should Golson rise to the occasion.

 

Note: Stats and info via NCAA.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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Kansas State's Glenn Gronkowski Scores 62-Yard TD vs. Oklahoma

Kansas State's Glenn Gronkowski is listed as a fullback, but he showed against Oklahoma on Saturday that he can imitate his brother, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and score big touchdowns.

The Wildcats sophomore entered the game with only three catches for 30 yards—and no touchdowns—on the season. This 62-yard touchdown will help his stats quite a bit.

According to ESPN's SportsCenterGlenn's 62-yard touchdown is longer than any that Rob has scored in his career—college or pro.

The long touchdown got Glenn's big bro fired up.

Gronkowski's touchdown tied the game at 7-7 with about four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

[gifdsports, Rob Gronkowski]

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Trevor Knight Injury: Updates on Oklahoma Star's Arm and Return

Oklahoma has been delivered a major hurdle in reaching the college football playoffs, as rising star Trevor Knight is dealing an arm injury: 

Eye on College Football had the initial news:

ESPN's Jake Trotter had more detail:

ESPN's Big 12 Twitter feed reported that the quarterback returned shortly after the injury was sustained:

Fansided provided video of the injury:

Knight played in eight games as a freshman in 2013, but he didn't make much of an impact until a transcendent MVP performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, which led to sky-high expectations in the spring. 

He has lived up to the hype during his sophomore campaign, carving up defenses and establishing himself as a legitimate Heisman contender.

“Last year was a lot different. He knows he’s the man now," said wide receiver Sterling Shepard, via NewsOK.com's Jason Kersey, after Knight threw for 303 yards in a win over Tennessee. "He can make those shots. He has a lot of free reign now to do what he likes on the field now, so you’ll be seeing that every week.”

Not only has Knight played extremely well, but the lack of experience behind him on the depth chart makes his health even more crucial for Oklahoma's success. 

With former quarterback Blake Bell playing tight end, the Sooners will have to turn to Cody Thomas if Knight is forced to miss any time. The redshirt freshman has attempted just four throws in his career. 

 

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Best Signs from ESPN's 'College GameDay' Week 8

On Week 8 of the 2014 college football season, ESPN's College GameDay returned to Tallahassee, Florida, for Florida State's matchup with Notre Dame.

With everything at stake for both undefeated programs this year—along with some of the off-the-field headlines each team has generated—fans naturally brought some great signs to the festivities.

Poor Jeff Driskel has nothing to do with this.

 A lot of #BlameJameis going around. 

Rudy? Ouch. 

 

 

A number of fans also brought NSFW signs referencing Jameis Winston's extensive legal history. You can use your own imagination there. 

Florida State kicks off against Notre Dame at 8 p.m. ET. 

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College Football Week 8: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction

Keep it locked with Bleacher Report throughout the day for all the latest scores, highlights and much more!

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Baylor vs. West Virginia: Live Score and Highlights

Baylor 13, West Virginia 7—Early 2nd Quarter

The Baylor Bears, fresh off of a thrilling comeback win over TCU will head to Morgantown to take on the feisty West Virginia Mountaineers.  The Bears are 6-0 with a 3-0 mark in the Big 12.  The Mountaineers aren't far behind with a 2-1 mark in conference play (4-2 overall).

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Kansas State vs. Oklahoma: Live Score and Highlights

Kansas State 14 Oklahoma 14 - Mid 2nd Quarter

The Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats battle in a pivotal Big 12 showdown. After the fireworks these two put on last year, will this season’s meeting live up to the hype?

The match will be on ESPN. B/R will be following along with the action.

Keep it locked here for in-game analysis and updates.

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College Football Rankings 2014: Final NCAA Overview of Week 8 Standings

We're on the heels of two epic weeks of college football action that shook up the standings in a big way, and Week 8 promises to deliver more of the same. In fact, things already began in ominous fashion for the nation's top teams, as No. 20 Utah was taken into two overtimes by unranked Oregon State on Thursday.

Could we see more of the same on Saturday?

With several pivotal matchups set to take place—including No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Florida State—the College Football Playoff picture is poised to shift yet again. Aside from that enthralling contest, four other games pit Top 25 teams against each other.

Before all of the polls shift in dramatic fashion in the aftermath of these compelling matchups, let's take one last look at the current standings followed by a preview of the week's marquee game.

Poll information courtesy of the Associated Press, USA Today and Bleacher Report.

 

Marquee Game

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Florida State

This game promises to provide plenty of fireworks, as two Top Five, undefeated, high-octane squads take the gridiron to determine which will continue to remain well in the hunt for a berth in the College Football Playoff.

It's quite interesting how similar both of these teams have looked over a couple of recent turbulent contests.

Notre Dame's defense looked as solid as ever on October 4, defeating a strong Stanford team 17-14 with a last-second touchdown pass on 4th-and-11. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan was held to 158 passing yards and was intercepted twice while Stanford's running game could only muster 1.5 yards per carry.

The following week, it was a completely different story, as the Fighting Irish gave up an unexpected 43 points to North Carolina. The team simply couldn't contain dual-threat quarterback Marquise Williams, which isn't a good sign with Jameis Winston on the horizon.

Notre Dame's defense held this impressive stat prior to the North Carolina game, via College GameDay:

Still, Notre Dame's offense has been highly explosive lately, and quarterback Everett Golson continues to be very effective. Maintaining a balanced offense while avoiding costly turnovers will be key for an Irish victory on Saturday—especially if the defense continues to struggle in the trenches.

We'll see if Golson can add another victory to this impressive record, via ESPN College Football:

Florida State has been just as inconsistent as Notre Dame lately. The Seminoles couldn't figure out North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett when the teams faced off in late September, allowing the Wolfpack to gain 520 yards of offense. In Week 7, it was more of the same, as Syracuse racked up 412 yards of offense against this unit.

Sandwiched between those two games was a masterful defensive effort against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons were held to just three points and gained only 126 yards of offense against a dominant Seminoles team.

Offensively, Florida State has been outstanding of late, as Winston has looked good since returning from a suspension earlier in the season. Like Notre Dame, this offense is capable of lighting up the scoreboard on any given week. Although, it will be interesting to see if Winston is fazed by ongoing off-the-field issues. Here's a look at a discussion on the matter, via ESPN College Football:

Expect this game to come down to which defense shows up. The pressure is heavy on Notre Dame's unit, as playing in a loud, hostile environment will not be conducive to a bounce-back performance. This one could easily come down to which team can make one decisive defensive stop.

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Bowl Predictions 2014: Projections for Top Postseason Matchups

This wild and crazy college football season has been one of the most fun to follow and hardest to predict in recent years. Perennial powerhouses have been humbled, and suddenly the state of Mississippi is beginning to look like the college football capital of the world.

It's a glorious and jumbled mess right now, but here's how we sort it at this point. Check out the predictions for the top seven bowl games this postseason. Just below the chart is an explanation of this top-four prediction.

 

Why Florida State Will Make the College Football Playoff

Florida State hasn't looked nearly as dominant this season as it did last year. Yes, the team is 6-0, but at this point in last year's run, the Noles had beaten opponents by an average of 49.3 points per game. The team's margin of victory thus far this season is just 18.3.

There hasn't been a huge increase in competition to explain the drop-off. As a matter of fact, last year's first six games featured matchups against two ranked opponents. The Clemson squad Florida State beat 51-13 in 2013 was ranked third in the nation at the time.

Even with the obvious decline, the Noles are in a safe place. They do have a tough matchup coming up on Saturday against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but if Florida State can escape with a win, it probably won't play another ranked team all year.

Virginia and Louisville have a shot at jumping back into the Top 25, but each would likely have to win this week. 

In any case, both games are contests Florida State should win. Because the Noles have a fairly easy remaining schedule, they are a good bet to occupy one of the four CFP spots.

 

Michigan State Will Beat Out Oregon for a Spot

The fourth spot in the CFP might just come down to the Oregon Ducks and Michigan State Spartans. Earlier in the season, the Ducks defeated Michigan State 46-27 in Eugene.

If the teams both end the regular season with one loss, that would obviously give Oregon the edge. Based on the remaining schedules, it's more likely Oregon loses another game and the Spartans run the table.

The Ducks have a home game remaining against old nemesis Stanford and a road game against Utah. It's hard to imagine Oregon escaping both of those games unblemished. Stanford has beaten Oregon each of the last two years and seems to own a psychological advantage over this Ducks regime.  Also, Utah can't be taken lightly.

In a down year for the Big Ten, the Spartans have the advantage.  The Spartans have an even easier remaining schedule than Florida State. 

A home game against No. 13 Ohio State is the only remaining contest against a ranked team. On the strength of that, they should represent the Big Ten in the CFP.

 

Why Both Mississippi Squads Will Make the College Football Playoff

Based on what we've seen on the field, the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Ole Miss Rebels are the two best teams in the country. The voters recognized the Bulldogs by vaulting them ahead of the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles in the most recent poll.

Despite a decisive win on the road over the Texas A&M Aggies on the same day, Ole Miss couldn't quite overtake the Noles' for the second spot. It's only a matter of time before both ascend to the top of the rankings.

Both the Bulldogs and Rebels have played rough schedules, and each still has two more games against ranked opponents remaining; that includes a head-to-head matchup in the regular-season finale.

Should that game determine which of the two go to the CFP? Not if both teams come into the game undefeated, which is a real possibility.

Ole Miss still has to go into Baton Rouge and defeat the LSU Tigers, but the Bayou hasn't been nearly as treacherous for visitors as it has been in seasons past. The team already dropped a home contest against Mississippi State earlier in the season.

The Tigers have fallen out of the Top 25 and aren't considered an upper echelon SEC team at this point.

The Rebels will take on Auburn in a spirited battle on Nov. 1, but the game takes place at Oxford where Ole Miss has looked its best. While it will be tough, Bo Wallace and Co. should be the favorites in that game.

Mississippi State can't sleep on Kentucky next Saturday. The Wildcats are 5-1 heading into a matchup with LSU this week. A win would have talented sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles and his teammates confident heading into the clash with the Bulldogs.

Per Jennifer Smith of Kentucky Sports, the confident Towles is raring to go on the road against a seemingly vulnerable LSU team. He said:

"I love playing on the road because it really helps me focus better. If I got a lot of people yelling, I know that, 'Hey, I gotta really focus right now.' So I like it. I hope they get as loud as they can."

The Bulldogs-Wildcats game is in Kentucky and could be a trap for the nation's No. 1 team if they aren't mentally prepared. Assuming Mississippi State beats Kentucky, the only other problematic game on paper before the clash with Ole Miss on Nov. 29 is a visit to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama.

While this is a down year by the standards of Nick Saban and Co., they are still going to be a handful at home. That's especially the case assuming Bama still has some CFP hopes still alive.

Despite the competitive road games, I don't see the Bulldogs losing until they travel to Oxford to face their in-state rivals. Last week's win over Auburn was a proving point for Mississippi State. It won a game against a top-notch opponent without their Heisman Trophy candidate, Dak Prescott, throwing the ball well.

He did run for 121 yards and two touchdowns, but he also tossed two interceptions.

Prescott will likely be better the rest of the way, but it's a great confidence booster to know that his defense could respond and hold perhaps the premier running team in the nation to a human 232 yards on the ground. 

They obviously can't play each other in the SEC title game, but there isn't a team in the SEC East capable of knocking off Ole Miss provided it stays away from injuries to key personnel.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State will wind up rematching in the national championship, like it or not.

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Furman vs. South Carolina: Live Score and Highlights

South Carolina are set to play host to Furman in a non-conference battle at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday. The game will kickoff at noon EDT and will be televised on the SEC Network.

The Gamecocks are coming off a much-needed bye week; after winning three of their first three of four games, they fell to Missouri and Kentucky to fall to 3-3. All three of the Gamecocks’ losses came against SEC opponents, meaning they are on the verge of elimination from the SEC East race.

They are looking to get back on track against Furman, a team that has a 2-4 overall record and a 1-1 record in the Southern Conference. After winning its first two games of the year, Furman has lost its last four games because of injuries at the quarterback position.

Be sure to come back to this blog when the game kicks off for score updates and highlights.

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Oklahoma State vs. TCU: Top Storylines Heading into Big 12 Showdown

If No. 12 TCU harbors any desire to win the Big 12, then it will need to beat No. 15 Oklahoma State. If the Cowboys want to continue to bat the top of the conference, they must knock off the Horned Frogs.

Suffice it to say that the stakes are high when TCU meets OSU at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

Between that and the offensive firepower on show—the two teams are combining to score 83 points a game—this is one of the top games to watch on Saturday.

Below is a brief rundown of some of the biggest storylines and questions going into the massive Big 12 clash.

 

Where's TCU at Mentally?

Giving up a 21-point lead in the final 11 minutes has got to wreak havoc on a team's confidence. The Horned Frogs truly had an epic collapse over Baylor, with the No. 4 Bears somehow walking away with the win.

A loss like that has to linger in the players' psyches. The best teams find a way to compartmentalize that bitterness and disappointment and instead look to the task ahead.

TCU head coach Gary Patterson believes any negative mental effects from that defeat are no longer a problem for his players.

"It was a better practice on Sunday for Oklahoma State than it was for Baylor on Sunday the week before," he said during his weekly news conference on Tuesday, per the Horned Frogs' official website. "We had a great practice, and I expect us to have a really great practice today. I think people handle failure a lot better than they handle success sometimes."

Getting off to a fast start against Oklahoma State will really help put the Baylor game in the rearview mirror. However, if the Cowboys jump out to an early lead and start piling on, it could be a snowball effect for TCU. The ill feelings from the fourth quarter against the Bears will come to the fore, and the Horned Frogs will lose their focus.

 

The Status of Trevone Boykin's Wrist

As Trevone Boykin goes, so go the Horned Frogs. If he struggles on Saturday, TCU won't have the firepower to keep pace with the Oklahoma State aerial attack.

Early in the week, news out of Fort Worth had Boykin possibly missing a month. Patterson denied that was the case but did reveal that the junior quarterback has a left wrist injury, per Billy Wessels of PurpleMenace.com. He added that Boykin will wear a soft cast on his left hand.

Boykin's emergence this season has been nothing short of astounding. Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer made the comparison to Matt McGloin, who went from throwing for a little over 3,119 yards combined as a sophomore and junior at Penn State before exploding for 3,271 as a senior:

According to Mark Cohen, TCU's assistant athletic director for media relations, Boykin is the first Patterson-coached QB to go for 250 yards or more for five games in a row:

As long as the injured wrist isn't giving Boykin too many problems, the Horned Frogs offense shouldn't see any sort of drop.

 

Will Oklahoma State's Young Defense Be Exposed?

Coming into the year, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy needed to replace seven players on the defensive side of the ball. That kind of turnover generally leads to early growing pains, but the Cowboys have so far avoided any large-scale problems.

The Florida State game should simply be written off as an outlier.

There have been some warning signs, namely giving up 379 yards to Kansas and 512 to Texas Tech. Through six games, though, the Cowboys rank 54th in total defense (378.2 yards a game) and 61st in scoring defense (24.7 points a game), both of which are respectable.

It has to be said that the majority of OK State's opponents haven't exactly been offensive juggernauts— Seminoles and Red Raiders excluded. Missouri State is an FCS school while Kansas, Iowa State and UTSA rank 112th, 110th and 116th, respectively, in total offense.

TCU, on the other hand, is 15th and, unlike Texas Tech, possesses a defense that should offer some resistance.

The Cowboys' somewhat spotty play on offense over the last two weeks means that Oklahoma State's defense could be in for its most important test of the season.

 

Can the Cowboys Strike an Offensive Balance?

Speaking of the OSU offense, the easiest way to support a backup quarterback thrown into the starting role is by establishing a steady presence on the ground. The Cowboys didn't do that against the Cyclones and Jayhawks, rushing for 129 and 114 yards, respectively.

Keep in mind those yards came against the 104th- and 75th-ranked rush defenses.

John Helsley of The Oklahoman didn't pull any punches when describing the struggles of the Cowboys running attack:

The Cowboys' inability to run effectively has handcuffed the offense across the board. With the ground game minimized, defenses can commit more to pressuring the passer, which for quarterback Daxx Garman means more sacks and more hits and less time.

Gundy's been critical of the offensive line play for weeks, revealing the unit’s play as "average."

And that might be generous.

Running back Desmond Roland refused to name names and point fingers on Monday, but the tacit admission in his comments was that the offensive line isn't pulling its weight.

"It's pretty difficult, but the young guys are playing, they're keeping their heads held high and they're working hard in practice," he said, per Helsley. "So, sooner or later they'll figure it out."

The Horned Frogs got torched by Shock Linwood in the Baylor game, but TCU's run defense has been otherwise respectable, surrendering an average of 139.8 yards a game.

Success on the ground won't be a given for OSU, but it will be imperative so as to ease the pressure on Garman.

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College Football: Top 5 Games to Watch in Week 8

Week 8 of the 2014 college football season will include matchups that could make or break teams' seasons. 

Fifth-ranked Notre Dame will make the trip down to Tallahassee to face off with second-ranked Florida State in a Saturday night showdown. The two last met in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida, with the Seminoles winning 18-14. 

The Big 12 will feature two high-profile matchups, with No. 14 Kansas State traveling to No. 11 Oklahoma as well as No. 15 Oklahoma State visiting No. 12 TCU. 

Bill Snyder's Wildcats are looking for their second win in three seasons against the Sooners while the Horned Frogs hope to take down the Pokes for the first time since joining the conference. 

Down in the SEC, it will be No. 7 Alabama hosting a frustrated, 21st-ranked Texas A&M squad that has lost its last two games to both Mississippi schools by an average of 16 points. 

We're nearly halfway through the season, and this Saturday could decide the fate of teams in the national championship picture. 

Here are the top five games to watch in Week 8.

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