NCAA Football

Josh Sweat Injury: Updates on Top High School Recruit's Leg and Recovery

High school phenom Josh Sweat left Friday night's game on a stretcher after sustaining a leg injury.

Sweat, the nation's No. 1 recruit according to 247Sports, was removed from Oscar Smith's game against Western Branch in a frightening scene for the defensive end.

The Virginian-Pilot's Jami Frankenberry showed the team gathering around its star as he was placed inside an ambulance, via MaxPreps.com.

According to 757Teamz, the senior gave a thumbs up while on the stretcher.

Evan G. Watkins of 247Sports noted that, while there's no official status, the injury appeared significant.

VirginiaPrep.com's Matthew Hatfield shed some more light on Sweat's injury.

The 6'5", 240-pound defensive end has drawn rave reviews over his years at Oscar Smith. Before the season began, he told Michael Clark of Scout.com that he feels poised to end his high school days in style.

"I think I've gotten a lot better in the offseason," he said. "I've worked harder than I ever have and I feel like I'm going to take the next step as a player this season."

Stay tuned for more updates on Sweat's injury.

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Oregon Ducks Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2014 Commits, Visits and Targets

While the Oregon Ducks are off a great start on the field this season, they may actually be having a better season so far on the recruiting trail. 

The Ducks, who usually do most of their recruiting during the season when high school seniors can visit Eugene and soak up the game-day experience, may have had their best preseason recruiting season ever, picking up 13 recruits before the season kicked off in late August.

Oregon has signed four consecutive top-25 recruiting classes and is on pace to add to that total this season. Currently the Ducks recruiting class is ranked No. 18 in the country, according to 247sports.com. Oregon’s average recruiting class has ranked No. 22 nationally over the past 10 seasons.

With 13 recruits already committed to the program, the coaching staff will likely have to be very selective in who they target down the stretch.

Where do the Ducks stand with their top remaining recruiting targets?

Here’s a look at Oregon’s recent activity on the recruiting trail.

 

Commits

The Ducks have scored commitments from 13 recruits so far this season; however, there are three that truly stand out.

The first is Taj Griffin—a 5-star running back from Powder Springs, Georgia—who is the top-ranked all-purpose back in the nation, according to 247sports.com. Griffin is the No. 31 prospect in the entire country.

There’s no doubt that the Ducks have an affinity for running back, especially those who can play wide receiver, return punts and kickoffs, as well as catch the ball out of the backfield.

While Griffin will have to compete with the likes of Royce Freeman, Tyner Thomas and Byron Marshall for playing time, he’s the perfect change of pace back for the Ducks “blur” offense.

While he's a perfect back for the Oregon system, he will also be coming to Oregon with some health issues. Griffin is currently dealing with a torn ACL which he suffered in his season opener for McEachern high school. 

Though Griffin is recovering from his injury, he did thoroughly enjoy his official visit to Eugene on Sept. 6. 

“I would say his official visit was about a 10,” his father said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Or I would say a 9. The only reason it wasn’t a 10 is because Taj was injured. We had a great time. We had a lot of good food. It was obviously a good game. That was a big highlight to be able to go down to the locker room, and be a part of that. The coaches were extremely supportive, and they were glad to see him. They had a positive outlook on where they think things are going to be next season. So it was a very, very positive and uplifting visit.”

The other two commits who are intriguing are Travis Waller—a 4-star dual-threat quarterback from Anaheim, California—and Alex Ofodile—a 4-star wide receiver from Columbia, Missouri.

Waller, who plays at Servite high school, is a lightning-fast 6’3” quarterback who fits into the Marcus Mariota mold. Waller has a good arm, knows the spread offense, and figures to be a competitor for the Ducks starting quarterback job come next season.

While Waller is an important recruit for the Ducks, wide receiver Alex Ofodile may have a more immediate impact on the Oregon program.

Despite the fact that the Ducks have had success with their young wide receiver corps this season, they need more competent bodies at the position. Ofodile, who is 6’3”, represents another big target for the Ducks, something that the program desperately covets.

 

Visits

Oregon’s biggest recruiting weekend of the season will occur when Stanford comes rolling into town on Nov. 1. So far the Ducks are set to host eight recruits, three of whom have already committed to the program.

However, the second biggest recruiting weekend of the season already occurred. As the Ducks were taking down then seventh-ranked Michigan State on Sept. 6, the program was hosting six recruits, three of whom were previously committed to Oregon—3-star tackles Brady Aiello and Calvin Throckmorton and 3-star safety PJ Locke.

The other three visiting recruits may prove to be more important to Oregon’s final recruiting rankings this season. Those three—4-star safety Marvell Tell from Encino, California, 4-star cornerback Micah Abernathy from Norcross, Georgia, and 3-star defensive tackle Rex Manu from Mililani, Hawaii—are important because they all play on the defensive side of the ball.

The Ducks 2015 offensive class is off to a fantastic start with Taj Griffin, Travis Waller, Alex Ofodile and Zach Okun already locked up. However, the defensive side of the ball lacks numbers and blue-chip prospects.

Adding the likes of Tell, Abernathy and Stanford commit Manu to the recruiting class would be huge for the program.

 

Targets

Oregon’s top targets for the rest of the recruiting season will come on the defensive side of the ball. With a top quarterback, running back, wide receiver and multiple offensive linemen already in tow, it’s time for Mark Helfrich and new defensive coordinator Don Pellum to kick their defensive recruiting into high gear.

Their best opportunity to make a great impression on defensive recruits will come on Nov. 1 when the best player in the country—5-star defensive end Josh Sweat from Chesapeake, Virginia—comes to Eugene for a visit.

Sweat, who left his most recent game in an ambulance after suffering an apparent leg injury, is down to his final five programs and has been compared to 2014 first overall pick Jadaveon Clowney.

If the Ducks strike out on Sweat, the program will be looking to target the second-best defensive end in the country who just happens to be visiting on Nov. 1 as well. His name is Keisean Lucier-South—a 5-star recruit from Orange, California.

Lucier-South, who also has offers from UCLA, Oklahoma, Michigan and Alabama, has to be the Ducks' top target if they lose out on Sweat.

The dream of all dreams for the program would be to grab both Josh Sweat and Keisean Lucier-South. Getting commitments from the two top-ranked defensive ends in the country may be a dream, but it would represent the biggest recruiting win in the history of the Oregon program.

 

Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow him on twitter @TheSportsGuy33.  

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Oregon Ducks Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2014 Commits, Visits and Targets

While the Oregon Ducks are off a great start on the field this season, they may actually be having a better season so far on the recruiting trail...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

University of Tennessee Admits 19 Freshmen with Peyton Manning Namesakes

Peyton Manning is old.

Sure, he’s not Methuselah-brewing-bathtub-gin old, but the fact that 19 freshmen named in his honor just began taking classes this fall at the University of Tennessee should put his career longevity in perspective for you. 

Indeed, Torchbearer ­(h/t NFL.com’s Bryan Fischer)—Tennessee’s alumni magazine—reports that a wave of students bearing the name “Peyton” or “Payton” have matriculated into the school’s freshman class. Many were named after Manning, who came into his own and began laying waste to college football defenses for the Volunteers 18 years ago. 

Peyton Lara is one such freshman, and says he attended high school with three other Peytons. Three. Multiple other Peytons. 

Lara told Torchbearer he met Manning at a Volunteers football practice as a youngster. 

“I met Peyton Manning after one of the UT football practices when I was about a year old,” Lara said, adding that his family keeps a picture of the moment. I highly suggest you go to the Torchbearer’s website and look at it. Young Lara is bawling his eyes out in the arms of a very sweaty Manning. 

Another UT freshman with a Manning namesake is Lindsey Peyton Lauricella, who says she was named in part for Manning and that her grandparents know the quarterback’s parents.

“Part of my name does honor Peyton Manning,” Lauricella said. “But I wasn’t especially named after him…Peyton is a huge family name for us…and my grandparents are very good friends with Archie and Olivia Manning.”

To reiterate—because it can’t be said enough—children named after Peyton Manning are beginning to take college classes. They are adults—or near enough that it makes no matter. Spooky.

So strap in for next season, when teens named after Tom Brady will begin applying to Michigan. Just kidding. That will be like…oh…maybe five or six years from now.

  

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

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Oklahoma vs. West Virginia Complete Game Preview

After a flawless nonconference slate, the Oklahoma Sooners will open up Big 12 play on the road against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Don’t be fooled by the Mountaineers' record in recent years. The last two games between these two came down to the final minutes, with the Sooners escaping with victory—50-49 in 2012 and 16-7 in 2013.

With West Virginia poised to be a competitive threat to the Big 12 title, expect more of the same when these two take the field on Saturday.

Here’s everything you need to know.

 

Where: Milan Puskar Stadium

When: Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Watch: FOX

Live Stream: Sooner Sports

Listen: Sooner Sports Radio Network

Betting Line: Oklahoma (-8) per Odds Shark

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Notre Dame Football: 4 Surprises from the 1st Quarter of 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football's 3-0 start to the season certainly isn’t surprising. Odds Shark indicates the Irish were favored against Rice, Michigan and Purdue, after all. How they got to 3-0, however, was unexpected.

Let’s take stock of what we didn’t see coming in Notre Dame’s first three games.

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Jameis Winston Has Already Ruined His Chance to Repeat as Heisman Winner

Winning two Heisman trophies is really difficult. After all, it's only been done once in history (Archie Griffin in 1974-75).

It's even harder when you stand on a table and scream out vulgar phrases in this era where social media is king. If Jameis Winston's lukewarm statistics thus far this season hasn't all but killed his chances of winning a second Heisman Trophy, his seemingly perpetual bad decision-making has.

By now you've probably heard that Winston will be suspended for the first half of the Florida State Seminoles matchup with the Clemson Tigers on Saturday. The infraction that brought about this punishment was minor in the grand scheme of things, but still incessantly childish and stupid.

I won't repeat the phrase Winston used while standing on a table in a building on campus on Tuesday, but if you need details, you can check out the Deadspin article written by Samer Kalaf. (Disclaimer: contains vulgar text.)

With so much negativity haunting the sport thanks to the domestic violence charges that have plagued the NFL over the past month, this is not a good look.

The media that genuinely spurs on a Heisman campaign, and the voters who will make the final decision, are less likely to be favorable toward a player who has behaved the way Winston has.

We were all young once. You live, learn and take your lumps along the way. You can only hope that a person like Winston, with so much to lose, becomes cognizant of the fact that he must behave himself in a more civilized manner.

You hear the apology, but one has to wonder: does this kid really get it?

Today it's a second Heisman Trophy and perhaps a few slots on NFL teams' draft boards that are lost. If this isn't corrected, what's next to lose?

It would be different if this were his first offense. There was also the alleged sexual assault charges that didn't stick. While Winston was never found guilty of anything, we all know that such allegations place a stain on the name of the accused.

Fair or not, that is the case.

Then there's the shoplifting-for-crab-legs incident. While these infractions are obviously at varying levels of seriousness, it all still points to a young man who has a problem with self control.

Perhaps Winston's case for the Heisman would be stronger had he started the season better. In Week 1, he threw two interceptions and looked out of sorts until late in the game. He and the Noles barely survived the Oklahoma State Cowboys that day.

He looked more himself the following week, but then again, he was only facing Citadel. For the year, Winston has thrown for 626 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Compound Winston's slow start on the field with the fact that Oregon's Marcus Mariota is playing lights out. He's scored 11 total touchdowns and he hasn't turned the ball over all season.

He also has a sparkling reputation as a leader and high-character guy, as per Oregon Live. Notre Dame's Everett Golson has rebounded from his own issues in 2013 to have a stellar start in 2014. Golson also has 11 total touchdowns and hasn't turned the ball over either.

Heading into Week 4, Winston's on-field resume can't compare, and he isn't exactly the subject of a feel-good story right now.

Voters will likely be weighing the following scenarios: (Mariota) "kid having a fantastic year for a good team, with no off-the-field issues" vs. (Golson) "kid having a great year with storied program, who has bounced back from an infraction a year ago" vs. (Winston) "talented kid who has consistently found himself in controversial and dangerous situations off the field, but oh yeah, he can really play."

Which player do you think will get the nod?

At this point, if Winston is still thinking about the Heisman Trophy, he shouldn't be. The priority for him should be to focus on improving his decision-making and maturing...in a hurry.

He has to get to a place where it bothers him that masses of people think he's an idiot, and that his intelligence—or perceived lack thereof—is a running joke. Winston is not a stupid person, but he is trying to prove otherwise.

Here's to hoping all the news he makes going forward is for touchdowns and charity work.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Biggest Questions Facing Top 25 Teams Heading into Week 4

Week 4 of the 2014 college football season is, in a way, less jam-packed.  

There are only 55 games Saturday—that's not a lot, by comparison—only 14 of which feature Top 25 teams. Of those games, only one—Clemson at Florida State—puts ranked teams against one another. 

So pickings are slim, as they say.

However, if the last two weeks are any indication, we'll get another batch of great games all the same. 

Which 10 storylines among the Top 25 teams should you keep an eye on? The answers are in the following slides. 

The only criterion here is that one of the teams involved has to rank in either The Associated Press or Amway coaches poll

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Apple's Tim Cook Giddily Responds to 'Roll Tide' with 'War Eagle' in iPhone Line

With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus hitting stores Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook was on hand in Palo Alto, Calif., to greet some of the countless consumers waiting in line for the new technology.

One Alabama football fan naturally shouted a "Roll Tide" to Cook, who graduated from Alabama's archrival, Auburn University, in 1982. Cook did not hesitate to respond with Auburn's war cry, "War Eagle!"

This is not the first time Cook has repped his alma mater at the Crimson Tide's expense. Shortly after Auburn's legendary game-winning field goal return over Alabama in the 2013 Iron Bowl with one second left on the clock, Tim Cook took a lighthearted shot at Bama in his 2013 IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech:

[IDG, h/t Al.com, YouTube]

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Big 12 Football: Ranking the Big 12 Quarterbacks Through 3 Weeks

We're three weeks through the season, and already there's been plenty of shakeup among the Big 12 signal-callers. 

Clint Trickett at WVU has established himself as one of the league's best passers, David Ash's career at Texas is over after yet another concussion, and Daxx Garman may be in for the long haul at Oklahoma State. 

With that, let's rank the league's quarterbacks through three weeks. 

Note: Stats for Jake Waters will include Thursday night's loss to Auburn.

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Notre Dame Football: The Good and the Bad at the Bye Week

Notre Dame's 3-0 start has Irish fans feeling good about 2014. And it should.

Brian Kelly's second three-game winning streak to start the season is one more than Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis combined. 

With the Irish taking the weekend off with their first bye of the season, there's no better time to take stock in what the Irish have accomplished at the season's quarter-turn. It might not all have been perfect, but in the wake of distractions and injuries, it's been a job well done. 

Statistically, Kelly's fifth team has been his strongest to date. At +78, the scoring margin is Notre Dame's best three-game, undefeated start since Ara Parseghian's 1970 squad. After struggling in the red zone, the Irish have scored in all 14 of their attempts. 

Brian VanGorder's young defense is also impressing. The Irish have the No. 4 scoring defense in the country, giving up just 10.3 points a game.

The Irish have forced nine turnovers, good for fifth-best in the country, and their clip of 2.67 turnovers a game is third-best in the country. 

As the Irish break before preparing to take on Syracuse, let's take a look at the good and bad at the bye week. 

 

*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of UND.com and CFBStats.com.

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College Football Playoff Matchups We Want to See the Most

The season has barely begun, but admit it: You’re already looking forward to the first College Football Playoff.

The potential for exciting matchups looms large. Rematches, rivalry showdowns and first-time meetings all look to be in play. 

Could we see Alabama-Auburn twice? Will the Tide be able to get revenge on Oklahoma? Or will two new squads enter the fray and surprise everyone?

The possibilities are endless. But here at B/R, we decided to choose potential clashes that stood out.

So let’s take a look at the most intriguing possible matchups selected by rivalry, tradition and performance thus far in 2014.

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East Carolina Pirates Look to Defeat the UNC Tar Heels Again

Many were surprised last weekend when the unranked East Carolina Pirates defeated the then No. 17 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, but they probably shouldn't have been.

Last Saturday marked the third straight victory for the Pirates against an ACC opponent, all coming on the road. This weekend, the Pirates will get a visit from in-state rival, the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

Last season, the Pirates defeated the Tar Heels 55-31 to win their first game in Chapel Hill since 1975. ECU quarterback Shane Carden was a big part of the victory as he threw for 376 yards, three touchdown passes and ran for three scores. The Pirates offense gained 603 yards against the Tar Heels and they are fully capable of doing the same thing again this year. 

This season, Carden ranks ninth in the NCAA in total offense with 354.7 yards per game. Not only do the Tar Heels have to worry about Carden, they also have to worry about Justin Hardy and the rest of the East Carolina receivers.

Hardy has caught 289 receptions for 3,314 yards and 27 touchdowns during his career. NFLDraftScout.com has Hardy rated as their sixth-ranked senior receiver. Isaiah Jones and Cam Worthy are the other receivers who can pose problems for the Tar Heels on Saturday.

North Carolina's defense has forced nine turnovers in two games, but they have yet to see a trio of receivers like East Carolina's. The Tar Heel defense will have their hands full trying to limit Hardy, Jones and Worthy, who have all produced at least 200 yards receiving this season.

If the Pirates are going to defeat the Tar Heels, their defense will have to contain an excellent Tar Heel offense led by quarterback Marquise Williams. 

In two games in 2014, Williams has 424 passing yards and he also leads the Tar Heels in rushing with 115 yards. Junior guard Landon Turner will miss Saturday's game due to an undisclosed injury which leaves the Tar Heels with four underclassmen on their offensive line.

True freshman UNC guard Jared Cohen will make his first start against an East Carolina defense that ranks 34th in the nation in rush defense. 

When looking at the East Carolina's nonconference schedule at the beginning of the season, it looked like they could have a 1-3 record before playing their first conference game. Now the Pirates are 2-1 and are three-point favorites on Saturday according to Odds Shark. ECU could have their best season in school history, but only if they defeat the Tar Heels on Saturday.

This East Carolina team is solid on both sides of the ball, so that’s why many experts are picking them to defeat the Tar Heels.

 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Tony Brown Emerging at Right Time for Tide Secondary

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As Alabama’s secondary gets more and more depleted early in the season, the Crimson Tide could be getting some much-needed good news this week ahead of their SEC opener against Florida.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said that 5-star cornerback Tony Brown “will play a lot in this game.”

“Tony's definitely improving, definitely getting better,” Saban said. “I think the opportunities that he's had to play in the last two games have been good for his development and his confidence.”

It’s unclear how much of Brown’s playing time is based on injuries around him versus his growth and development early on in his playing career. But if he is indeed ready to take on a hefty role, as Saban says he will this week, it will be a big boost for Alabama’s secondary as it heads into conference play.

Saban didn’t say anything else other than that Brown will play “a lot,” but if practice is any indication, Brown will be seeing time at his natural position, outside at cornerback.

During Tuesday’s media viewing period, Brown took first-team reps at cornerback, on the other side of Cyrus Jones in a nickel drill, the only time this week that the media saw that drill.

Some thought Star could be a good spot for Brown to learn the secondary early on, especially with regular Star Jarrick Williams out with an injury and Geno Smith playing free safety in the first half for the suspended Nick Perry. But Maurice Smith—built more like a safety—occupied that role in practice, allowing the rangy Brown to play outside.

Eddie Jackson had played that other cornerback spot the last two games after he came back from a knee injury much earlier than expected, and Bradley Sylve struggled in the season opener against West Virginia.

Jackson, though, hurt his quad against Southern Miss (Brown took his place in that game) and doesn’t appear to be ready to play just yet.

Saban only offered up this assessment of Jackson’s injury after the Southern Miss game:

That leaves Brown to step in, a guy that came in with as much hype as anyone in Alabama’s 2014 No. 1 recruiting class.

The 5-star cornerback from Beaumont, Texas, enrolled in the spring and by all accounts impressed as he got an early acclimation period into Saban’s defense and life as a college football player.

His teammates praised his work ethic, and it paid off for him in the spring game when he caught an interception—even while playing with an injured shoulder.

This season, he’s worked his way into more and more playing time. He’s mostly played with the No. 2s after the game is out of hand and last week got some time with the 1s when Jackson went out.

“I think he’s handling it well,” cornerback Cyrus Jones said of the increased role. “He’s always been a guy who’s eager to learn, takes coaching well, so he’s progressing really well.”

Brown has all the talent in the world to make a difference on this team, where pass defense has been suspect so far.

He ran track in high school, winning a state championship in the 110-meter hurdles and placing second in the 100. The speed is there to keep up with elite SEC receivers.

But what’s most impressive is the size that comes with it.

Alabama lists him at 6’0”, 198 pounds, and he looked every bit of that when he got to campus in the spring and has only gotten stronger.

Brown has the makings of a superstar at cornerback if he puts everything together. He’ll get his first chance to do that on Saturday.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Miami Football Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2015 Commits, Visits and Targets

The 2015 recruiting cycle continues to rage on throughout the college football regular season, and the Miami Hurricanes are still looking to add a few more top prospects.

Al Golden and his coaching staff have compiled the 11th-best class in the nation and No. 3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to 247Sports.

Three running backs and a safety highlight the solid haul of 22 current verbal commitments, but plenty of updates on commits and targets keep coming.

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Which Big 12 Defense Is Poised to Make a Huge Impact in the NFL?

The Oklahoma Sooners defense is loaded with future NFL talent. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder and NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller discuss the impact Sooner players that should be suiting up on Sundays.  

Will their talents translate to the next level?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bill Snyder Says Auburn Had Kansas State's Signals, but Gus Malzahn Denies It

For the second time in the calendar year, the Auburn Tigers have been accused of stealing signals.

On Thursday night, the team topped the Kansas State Wildcats, 20-14. However, according to Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder, he believes it was a credit to a little more than good game-planning, per ESPN.

“They’re getting our signals,” Snyder relayed to ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Ponder just before halftime. He also added that Kansas State had made some adjustments to its signals during the break.

Ponder added more prior to the start of the third quarter (h/t SaturdayDownSouth.com):

Although Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn denied the claims, via ESPN’s report, it isn’t the first time the Auburn sideline has come under fire for such allegations.

During last season’s BCS title game against the Florida State Seminoles, the Tigers faced similar criticism after racing out to a 21-3 lead late in the first half. That led to Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin informing the team what exactly was going on (h/t TheBigLead.com):

The Dameyune whom Benjamin is referring to is Auburn offensive coach Dameyune Craig. Ironically, Craig was Florida State’s quarterback coach from 2010-12.

The Seminoles used towels when calling plays for the remainder of the game.

On Thursday night, the Wildcats offense appeared frustrated all night long. The attack managed just 285 total yards of offense while committing three turnovers. Furthermore, the team rushed for just 40 yards on 30 carries.

Whether the Tigers had the signals figured out or not, no one is to blame other than Snyder and the Kansas State coaching staff. Trying to decipher an opponent’s signals is all a key part of the game.

Apparently the Wildcats missed the memo that changing and rotating signals constantly is just as important.

All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBStats.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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Auburn Football Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2015 Commits, Visits and Targets

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Following Auburn's tight 20-14 road victory against No. 20 Kansas State, it's time to take a look at a few potential Tigers who will be in action Friday night and into the weekend.

Auburn has not secured a commitment since early August, when borderline 4/3-star defensive tackle Jauntavius Johnson picked the Tigers over Alabama, Louisville and Mississippi State.

However, the Tigers are still hard at work on the recruiting trail, as several major targets are planning official and unofficial visits to the Plains through the big stretch of Auburn's SEC schedule.

Several of Auburn's current pledges are also off to fast starts in their final high school and junior college seasons, earning national and regional recognition as they prepare to hit the Plains in 2015.

Here's a look at the latest news surrounding Auburn's top commitments, visits and targets as the Tigers begin preparation for what could be a massive October on and off the field. 

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Tennessee Football: Realistic Expectations for Vols in SEC Play

The 2014 Tennessee football team is noticeably better than it was a season ago. But are the Volunteers good enough to win more games in a rugged SEC schedule?

A bowl has always been this year's goal for the Vols, and head coach Butch Jones reiterated that to his team prior to last week's loss to Oklahoma, according to Grantland's Holly Anderson:

One day, somebody in this room is getting married, and this whole team will be at that reception, and you'll be talking, telling stories. And when you get that bowl ring? A bowl ring is the equivalent of a storybook. The two sides of it tell the story of your season. Team 118 will be bonded by that ring for the rest of their lives.

Can UT have a storybook ending or will it be another frustrating finish?

For a program that has gone 7-25 in league play over the past four seasons, the Vols need at least a mediocre in-conference showing to make their first bowl game since 2010.

Despite the 34-10 setback to fourth-ranked Oklahoma, positive vibes surround UT's program.

Improvements in team speed and competitiveness were evident against OU, and the outcome was not indicative of the game. Two end-zone interceptions and a questionable call on what appeared to be an Oklahoma fumble stood in the way of making the score look more presentable.

The Sooners were clearly better, but Tennessee found some positive elements in the running game late and also proved its third-down defensive prowess was no fluke, holding OU to 3-of-12 in conversions.

How will all that translate in SEC play? As impressive as some aspects of UT's loss were, others continued to be worrisome.

Given the way perennial league bottom-feeders like Arkansas and Kentucky have fared, prognosticators aren't high on UT's SEC ceiling. Power rankings from ESPN.com and 247Sports' JC Shurburtt placed the Vols 13th this week, ahead of only lowly Vanderbilt.

So, let's take a look at what Tennessee fans can realistically expect from the Vols entering SEC play.

 

Shouldn't Win

Before we get into the game-by-game breakdown, one thing is clear: There isn't a single contest remaining on the schedule that the Vols can't win.

The OU game proved UT shouldn't be counted out of any game.

Alabama hasn't looked dominant with Blake Sims at quarterback, and the Crimson Tide have some offensive weaknesses such as an inability to stretch the field in the passing game. There are also some defensive question marks, especially in the secondary.

Despite UA's imperfect start, its offensive talent is disgusting. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry as well as wide receiver Amari Cooper—who is on an All-American pace—are matchup nightmares for anybody.

The Tampa Bay Times' Antonya English detailed the 'Bama offense's school-record start under new coordinator Lane Kiffin, so the downfield issues haven't hindered the Tide much. Also, with all those 4- and 5-star defenders, Nick Saban will eventually find a solution.

Alabama isn't the immovable force it normally is, but it's still asking too much for a young Vols team to beat its biggest rival again this year.

Tennessee's other toughest matchup also comes from the loaded SEC West.

If Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace can play at the level he has since a forgettable first half in the season opener against Boise State, the Rebels are going to be a tough game in Oxford, Mississippi.

The Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger notes Wallace is 58-for-72 passing (80.5 percent) for 857 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception since the first 30 minutes of the season.

Couple that with a defense loaded with talented players and experience, and the Rebels look daunting.

 

Should Win

The 2-1 Vols should get another victory when they host FCS little brother Chattanooga on Oct. 11, but where are the other three wins going to come from to push UT into a bowl-eligible team?

There are only two league games UT should clearly win, and one of those is now debatable.

Vanderbilt is seemingly in shambles, even after its last-second win over Massachusetts. Temple beat the Commodores by 30 in the season opener. Then they were demolished 41-3 by Ole Miss before the nail-biter against UMass.

The quarterback issues detailed by The Tennessean's David Climer are still prevalent, and first-year coach Derek Mason has failed to instill confidence in his squad following back-to-back nine-win seasons led by James Franklin.

Therefore, it's tough to see VU beating Tennessee for the third consecutive season.

The Vols are just a better team, though a lot that can happen between now and Nov. 29.

Under second-year coach Mark Stoops, Kentucky looks vastly improved. The Wildcats took Florida to the brink in "The Swamp" before losing 36-30 in double overtime last Saturday. They appear faster on defense, better offensively under quarterback Patrick Towles and could be a tough draw.

Stoops won some big recruiting battles last year, and that talent is paying dividends.

Given UT's offensive weaponry at wide receiver and Worley playing the best football of his career, the Vols still should beat UK in Neyland Stadium. UT has won 28 of the past 29 meetings against the 'Cats, and it's hard to believe the outcome will be any different.

 

Swing Games

That leaves an abnormal amount of pivot games.

So many teams are difficult to read this early in the season, but UT should be encouraged by how the early season has played out thus far.

Georgia looked like a national title contender in a second-half throttling of Clemson. Then, the Bulldogs tanked at South Carolina, getting exposed with a defense full of holes and a coaching staff that refused to ride running back Todd Gurley at critical moments.

The Gamecocks flashed a dynamic offense against UGA but a defense that gave up 680 yards in a 52-28 season-opening loss to Texas A&M. They also struggled to stop East Carolina in a narrow win but looked much-improved against UGA. They're extremely hard to read at this point.

While Carolina and Georgia are going to be tough draws for the Vols on the road, UT shouldn't be written off in either one.

Last year, the Vols came within an eyelash of upsetting Georgia at Neyland Stadium before succumbing in overtime.

Pig Howard's crushing goal-line fumble will be etched in the minds of UT fans for years.

The very next game, the Vols completed the upset of South Carolina.

UT always seems to play those two teams close.

Prior to the up-and-down start from UGA and Carolina, the two biggest swing games on the schedule were Florida and Missouri—played in Neyland Stadium on Oct. 4 and Nov. 22, respectively.

They remain huge.

Florida may be a lot better than it has been, but it proved in that game that its deficiencies from last year's 4-8 season are not completely cleared. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is still susceptible to giving away big plays, and a defense that was supposed to be the team's strength struggled versus UK.

Considering UT hasn't beaten the Gators in nine seasons, it's unlikely the Vols will be expected to win.

But with the game being played in Knoxville, there are very few reasons why UT should fear Will Muschamp's team.

Of all the negatives that come with playing so many youngsters, there is one bonus: Many of these kids have never lost to Florida before. The history is irrelevant—and the same can be said on the flip side with UK players devoid of the stigma that comes with losing to UT.

Missouri again has talent and speed, led by quarterback Maty Mauk, but the Tigers lost so much from last year's SEC East champion squad that it's difficult to know how they'll fare in SEC play.

Much more will be known about the Vols and Mizzou by the time they play the regular season's penultimate game, but MU has looked beatable.

 

Prediction

Tennessee has too many question marks right now to guarantee any wins, save the showdown with the Mocs. However, there are enough questions in a wide-open SEC East that optimism should abound on Rocky Top.

If UT can beat Chattanooga, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, that leaves the Vols needing to win just one of their four swing games to get a bowl berth.

It's a tough road for the Vols, but they are going to be a difficult draw for most teams they play, too.

If UT can find some things to help its run-blocking and keep Worley upright, it will become bowl-eligible. Getting injured receivers Von Pearson and Josh Smith as well as tight end Ethan Wolf back as quickly as possible is equally important.

Right now, the safe bet is on UT going 3-5 in league play.

While that's far from where the Vols want to be, it's a step in the right direction. Most importantly, it's a result that would see them in the postseason for the first time in four years.

 

Unless otherwise noted all statistics gathered from UTSports.com. All recruiting information from 247Sports.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Teams Whose 2015 Recruiting Focus Is Primarily Offense

Unlike the NFL draft, the college football recruiting process gives coaches and teams a chance to bring in quality and quantity with most schools bringing in 20-25 prospects with each cycle.

However, there are cases where teams still have to focus on more than taking the best player available.

With the offensive explosion that has enveloped the sport in recent years, many teams across the country are looking to beef up their talent on that side of the ball in the 2015 cycle. 

Which schools are primarily focusing on adding quarterback, running backs, receivers and offensive linemen in their 2015 classes?

*Teams listed in alphabetical order.

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