NCAA Football

Virginia Tech RB Is Iced out with Gold Watch Against Ohio State

Virginia Tech running back J.C. Coleman is the man. It’s official.

The senior running back could be seen wearing a gold watch on the field against Ohio State on Monday, which is a bold choice as far as accessories go.

Wristbands might wick sweat away, but they’re not nearly as cool as a Rolex. Twitter went insane upon seeing Coleman’s ice:

The brand of watch is up for debate:

But this is for certain: Coleman knows what time it is.


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Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott Busts Loose for 80-Yard TD Score vs. Virginia Tech

After quarterback Cardale Jones launched a highlight-reel touchdown early in the first quarter against Virginia Tech on Monday night, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott decided it was his turn to make a play.

The junior freak athlete bolted 80 yards to the house, giving OSU a 14-0 lead on the Hokies. After shaking off one defender like a coat, Elliott was untouched on his mammoth run.   

There are many reasons the Buckeyes are the nation’s top team. Zeke is one of the biggest.


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Cardale Jones Avoids Rush, Throws 24-Yard TD Pass to Curtis Samuel off Back Foot

With Ronda Rousey behind him, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones got the start against Virginia Tech on Monday night.

Looks like that was the right call.

After getting robbed of an earlier touchdown, Jones dropped back and avoided pressure on a 1st-and-10 from the 24-yard line before launching a bomb to the end zone off his back foot.

Wide receiver Curtis Samuel made a nice play on the ball, but Jones’ sheer arm strength is the star of this show.


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Cardale Jones Starts at QB for Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech: Details, Reaction

Most college football quarterbacks don't put together as strong of a resume as four-year starters as Ohio State's Cardale Jones did this last year in only three games.

After guiding the Buckeyes to the national championship in the inaugural College Football Playoff, Jones beat out his teammate, Heisman Trophy hopeful J.T. Barrett, in the team's historic QB competition, per SportsCenter:   

The decision was only revealed when Jones took the field for the first snap in Monday's road game against Virginia Tech.

What started as a three-way QB derby between Barrett, Jones and Braxton Miller changed when the latter, a three-year starter, switched to wide receiver. Jones has the smaller sample size and benefited from the groundwork Barrett laid in 2014 before suffering a fractured ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan.

But there's no denying Jones has the superior upside thanks to his unique skill set and physical tools. Listed at 6'5" and 250 pounds, it comes as no surprise Jones has the stronger arm—and perhaps the most pure arm talent of any signal-caller in the country.

In addition to the zip Jones puts on the pigskin, he is uncommonly nimble for his size, evident in the 296 rushing yards he racked up last year in limited action. Sack yardage is included in that stat to boot.

ESPN CollegeFootball highlighted how exceptional both Barrett and Jones were this past season, presenting a unique, difficult but enviable dilemma for Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer:

Amazing as Jones' unforeseen run to postseason glory was, he remained humble in June when assessing his chances to remain atop the depth chart entering the 2015 campaign, per's Austin Ward:

We as a team and me as an individual get a lot of praise for how well we did in those games, but I didn't even grade out as a champion as far as coach’s standards. ... I haven't proven anything yet. I haven't proven anything to myself, my teammates, my coaches to label myself as a starter.

Now Jones can say he's earned the right to run the show for Ohio State's offense.

Barrett was extremely productive and exceeded expectations when he took over for an injured Braxton Miller last season, vaulting himself into the Heisman race. With a transcendent player in Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, the edge Jones has as a passer had to have given him the ultimate edge despite Barrett's superior running ability.

Some may write Jones off as a flash in the pan whom defensive coordinators will adjust to. Based on how well OSU quarterbacks have fared in the Buckeyes' spread system under Meyer, though, it stands to reason Jones will only improve and further realize his potential.

It also helps that the team around Jones is stacked. Ohio State returns NFL-caliber starters on both sides of the ball, with four of five offensive linemen and seven defenders among them.

Although Barrett has to be disappointed to lose the competition, he can take solace in the fact that Jones will probably go pro next year with a strong 2015 campaign. That will pave the way for Barrett to take the reins and still carve out a solid legacy in Columbus.

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Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech: Live Score and Highlights

Ohio State 14, Virginia Tech 0 — Late 1st quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 1 Ohio State and Virginia Tech. ESPN is televising the matchup nationally from Lane Stadium.

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

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Alabama Football: Has Nick Saban Fixed the Secondary Woes?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The clock was running down and the University of Alabama was putting the finishing touches on a 35-17 season-opening victory against No. 20 Wisconsin on Saturday night, when Nick Saban didn’t like what he saw from the defense.

His team had scored three touchdowns while yielding just a field goal in the second half until the Badgers pieced together a late seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive against the Crimson Tide’s reserves.

Although the game was still out of reach, Saban sent a message to all of his players by reinserting the first unit for Wisconsin’s final possession, with 1:12 to go.

“I was a little surprised,” senior cornerback Cyrus Jones said about being reinserted “That usually doesn’t happen, but coach wasn’t happy with the second team and I guess he felt more comfortable when we went back out there, so we gotta do what he says.

“It’s all good for me. I don’t mind getting back out there on the field. First game I like to be on the field as much as I can, so it was all right.”

While the sequence resulted in the game’s only turnover, an interception by junior Eddie Jackson, “all right” might be an accurate description of how the secondary played as a whole.

With head coach Paul Chryst never pulling his starters, Wisconsin put together three scoring drives and passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

It didn’t matter to Saban that he had three players in the secondary making their first starts at their positions and true freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick at the "star" position—the fifth defensive back when the defense uses a nickel formation. The coach knows that the group as a whole has to step up for the Crimson Tide to have at shot at a title this season.

Despite some growing pains, for the most part it did.

“We had three pass interference [penalties], unnecessary penalties that were probably caused by lack of fundamental discipline and execution of technique,” Saban said. “We didn’t give up as many explosive plays, but there’s lots of room for improvement. We didn’t do as good of a job on third down as we need to, especially in the first half.

“So we’re not disappointed in where we are, but we certainly have a lot to improve on.” 

Specifically, here’s how Alabama’s secondary did in the statistical areas that the coaches emphasize:

Turnovers: The team goal is to get three a game, and the secondary came close a few times before Jackson got the late pick. The Crimson Tide finished plus-one in turnover ratio as the offense didn’t give up anything.

Explosive plays: Saban defines them as a run of 13 or more yards or a pass of 17 or more yards. Alabama gave up three in the passing game, all to Alex Erickson in the first half, and the wide receiver also had the only explosive play in the running game on his 25-yard carry against the second-team defense.

Alabama gave up fewer than four explosive plays to an opponent four times last season (one to Texas A&M and Florida Atlantic, and three to LSU and Western Carolina). However, it yielded eight in the 2014 season opener to West Virginia, 11 to Ohio State and a season-high 14 to Auburn.

Penalties: The 11 penalties matched last year’s season high against Florida, which will be a point of emphasis during practices this week. The pass interference calls were on redshirt freshman cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Fitzpatrick and sophomore linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton.

Third downs: Wisconsin was 4-of-7 in the first half but just 2-of-7 in the second half when it all but abandoned the ineffective running game.

Although Wisconsin’s passing game looked mostly to the running backs and tight ends, who combined to make 17 receptions compared to just nine by the wide receivers (four in the final minutes), the defensive back it attacked the most was Fitzpatrick.

He was the primary defender on the sliding six-yard touchdown reception by Erickson but broke up the pass on the only other ball thrown his way during the first three quarters.

However, when Alabama brought in the second-team defense, with Fitzpatrick sliding over to cornerback, he was the defender on both the 14-yard gain to put the Badgers into the red zone and the three-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Robert Wheelwright. The pass interference penalty, when he didn’t turn back to see the ball, was what got him an earful from Saban.

“I think they’ll get more comfortable as they get more reps,” Jones said about the freshmen. “I think it’s all about being comfortable when the ball is in the air, just knowing what position you’re in and if you can look and if you can’t, so I think just with time they’ll get more comfortable and more aware of when they can use their hands and swat for the ball and stuff like that.”

Overall, the Badgers completed only one pass on Humphrey and none on Jones.

Meanwhile, Alabama made a lot of open-field tackles, with Jackson leading in solo stops with six. Fitzgerald and Humphrey both made three. With Wisconsin not attacking downfield much, preferring to split the zones or throw under the coverage, senior free safety Geno Matias-Smith had just three tackles.

The most yards after the catch that Wisconsin enjoyed were the nine by running back Dare Ogunbowale on a 12-yard gain. It was aided by a missed tackle when Alabama’s second-team defense was on the field.

Respectful of Alabama’s speed and range, the longest ball that quarterback Joel Stave threw, as in from the line of scrimmage to where the receiver made the catch, was 21 yards. Even with that cautious approach, the Crimson Tide came close to at least three other picks.

Combined with the relentless front seven, which knocked down four passes and notched three sacks, more chances are likely, especially if Alabama’s run defense continues to be exemplary.

For now it only leaves one conclusion, that the Crimson Tide will be tougher to throw against as the players gain more experience and continue to come together as a unit. 

“It definitely makes your defense that much more dangerous,” Jones said about both Jackson and Matias-Smith having previously played cornerback. “We have no problem with kind of coming out and playing man-to-man against slots and things like that, we don’t have to go as much zone so I think it just puts the defense at a greater advantage.”


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh. 

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5 Things We Learned in Houston's 52-24 Win over Tennessee Tech

The Tom Herman era officially began at Houston over the weekend with a 52-24 win over Tennessee Tech at TDECU Stadium in Houston.

Junior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. led the Cougar offense by completing 22 of 27 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. The fleet-footed Ward also rushed for 101 yards and two scores.

But Houston will take a giant leap up in competition next week when it travels to Louisville to take on the Cardinals.

Are the Cougars ready for such a big test? And will they be ready when conference play begins three weeks later?

Here are five things we learned in Houston’s first game of the 2015 season that might help us decide.

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Cold Hard Fact for Monday, September 7, 2015

Fact: Virginia Tech plays AP No. 1 Ohio State tonight. Virginia Tech has never beaten an AP No.1 ranked team.

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

Source: ESPN College Football

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Buckeyes Fan Puts Ohio State Flag on Mount Hokie Ahead of Virginia Tech Game

As the Buckeyes look to avenge their only loss of the 2014-15 season, Ohio State fans are flocking to Virginia Tech and looking to eliminate the Hokies' home-field advantage.

In fact, one Ohio State fan has done his or her part to claim Blacksburg, Virginia, as part of Buckeye Nation.

According to the Tidewater News, an Ohio State flag was found on top of the Virginia Tech logo on Mount Hokie on Friday. It looks like the Hokies are learning Buckeyes fans travel better than any fanbase in the nation.

Virginia Tech went into Columbus last year and pulled out a 35-21 victory. That was the only game Ohio State lost on its way to winning the national championship. Now, the Buckeyes and the Hokies will meet in Blacksburg on Monday night at 8 p.m. to complete the home-and-home series.


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Week 1 Injuries That Will Have Biggest Impact on 2015 College Football Season

Injuries were a common theme during the first week of college football season.

Numerous teams lost star players in their first games of the year and will have to mine the depth chart for replacements.

Other teams were slightly luckier, losing star players for a close-ended period, but they'll still have to cope for the next few weeks or months. In a sport such as college football, where there's only 12 games on the schedule and every loss is proportionately magnified, that still means a lot.

The injuries that follow will have a major impact on the rest of the season. How these players' teams replace them will shape the narrative of power-conference title races and major national awards.

Sound off below and let us know which Week 1 injury you think was the most important.

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Grading New College Football Starting QBs' Week 1 Performances

The start of a new college football season meant the start of a new era for plenty of programs across the country—especially when it came to the quarterback position.

While the game still has several star signal-callers, plenty of potential title contenders and Power Five dark horses lined up with new No. 1 quarterbacks in Week 1 of the 2015 campaign. 

More than half of the nation's top 10 teams had to replace starters at the position this year, including three of the four College Football Playoff teams from last season.

Let's take a look at the 22 new full-time starting quarterbacks in the Power Five conferences—and at Notre Dame—and grade their Week 1 performances based on decision-making, comfort within the offense, ability to create big plays and leadership in their new roles.

Players who have recorded starts in their career but haven't been full-time starters, such as Auburn's Jeremy Johnson, were eligible for this list—as well as transferred starters like Florida State's Everett Golson.

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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

Texas head coach Charlie Strong has always been adept at identifying and developing defensive talent throughout his coaching career. 

Heading into his second season in Austin, Strong and his staff are continuing to hit the recruiting trail in hopes of stocking the Longhorns roster with talented playmakers.

Last week, the ‘Horns offered 3-star in-state corner Obi Eboh

The 6’1”, 184-pounder now has 30 offers under his belt, but as noted by EJ Holland of 247Sports, the tender from the Longhorns is something he’s been anticipating for quite some time. 

“It’s in-state, and they have a pretty good business school,” Eboh told Holland. “ They also have a really good fanbase. My interest has always been high. I’m just going to continue to talk to [defensive coordinator], Coach [Vance] Bedford.”

Eboh wasted little time in jumping on the offer, as he committed to the ‘Horns a few days later. 

With his size and length, Eboh projects to be a great fit in Strong’s defense.

As a junior, he recorded 56 tackles and 11 pass breakups for Texas prep powerhouse Southlake Carroll High School. 

Among the other schools pursuing Eboh were Arizona State, Arkansas, Boston College, California and Oklahoma.

Eboh is the first corner and the ninth commitment overall in the Longhorns 2016 class.


Miami After 2016 California WR

Following his decommitment from Oregon last month, 4-star wide receiver Theo Howard has been a coveted prospect in the last few weeks.

His most recent offer comes from ACC power Miami.

As a junior, Howard hauled in 52 receptions for 869 yards and seven touchdowns.

Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and USC are among the Pac-12 powers hoping to keep Howard closer to home for college.


2017 Georgia CB Nets Huge Big Ten Offers

The interest in 2017 4-star corner William Poole III has been steady, but last week saw the Peach State defender add four new offers to his growing list of suitors. 

Included in that group were tenders from Big Ten heavyweights Michigan State and Ohio State.

“[Ohio State] was a highly anticipated offer,” Poole told Bleacher Report. “They came to see me back in the spring. [Cornerbacks] Coach [Kerry] Coombs came to one our practices to check me out and he spoke with me afterward and told me that he liked me and thinks that I’d be pretty good on the next level. A couple of months later, when the rules allowed them to, they came back to offer me.”

Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Georgia are among the other schools who are courting Poole.

While he’s a long way off from making a decision, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will try to land another stud defender from the state of Georgia.


LSU Offers Stud 2017 ATH

Another rising junior in Georgia who has secured a bevy of college offers is 4-star athlete Jamyest Williams

Last week, SEC titan LSU joined his long list of offers by tendering the 5’9”, 170-pounder from Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee are among the notable schools that are in the hunt with Williams in the early stages of his recruitment.

However, Williams—who prefers to play corner at the next level—is likely to have interest in the Tigers considering their rich history of producing elite defensive backs.


Best of the Rest









Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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'I Owed It to Her': 2017 QB Willie Cherry Has Big Night Following Mother's Death

There was no doubt in Willie Cherry Jr.'s mind. He was going to score Rider High School's game-winning touchdown Friday night against Amarillo High in the panhandle of the state of Texas.

Call it fate. Call it a vital obligation to fulfill. Call it being at the right place at the right time. Just know that when it came down to making one of the biggest plays of his life—even with his body in pain after taking a jarring hit earlier—nothing was going to stop Cherry from achieving.

It was one of Cherry's mother's final wishes. "Achieve."

Cherry rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns, the last coming on the final play of the game, to lift Rider to a 27-24 win against Amarillo. He also played the game a little more than 24 hours after losing his mother, Tieshia Youngberg, to colon cancer. Youngberg was days away from celebrating her 34th birthday.

For Cherry, winning on Friday was beyond personal. It was the only option.

"My whole right arm was hurting, and I was having a problem with my thumbnail," Cherry said. "But this was for my mom. I had to do it. There wasn't a choice. I owed it to her."


"One family, one team"

A 2017 quarterback for Rider High School in Wichita Falls, Texas, Cherry is a 6'2", 191-pound athlete who has been a varsity player since his sophomore season. As Rider's quarterback, he's hoping to follow in the footsteps of another former Rider signal-caller, Ohio State's J.T. Barrett.

Cherry's described by teammates as someone who is soft-spoken off the field, a playmaker and a leader on it. He's also described as someone who is all about family.

And Thursday's news was beyond devastating—not only to him, but also to his extended family at Rider.

"The day we all found out, it was a sad time for everybody," said Rider 4-star wide receiver T.J. Vasher, a Texas Tech commit. "He was real down about it. The day of the game, I sat next to him on the bus. He slept a lot and just listened to music, but as teammates, we knew we had to be there for him."

"We just wanted to be there for support, because that's a tough deal for anyone to go through," Rider head coach Marc Bindel added. "Any time you lose a parent, it's tough. Not a lot of people have gone through it, especially high school kids. We just wanted to support him any way we could."

Rider's team motto is, "One family, one team." The news of Youngberg hit the entire locker room hard, but when Cherry decided to play Friday night, it served as motivation for the entire team.

And the last thing they wanted to do was let Cherry down.

"I didn't think he was going to play," Bindel said. "I thought it'd be too emotional for him. There's more important things in this world than football, but he said he wanted to play, and we supported that decision. He said he wanted to honor his mom. His teammates wanted to help."

So when it was time for Rider—on the 1-yard line and down by three to Amarillo with 1.2 seconds remaining—to make its final move, Bindel said he didn't have a doubt who the playmaker would be.

Cherry, however, was surprised to get his number called. But when the ball was snapped, he raced to the right side of the field, used his blockers and dove into the end zone for the winning score.

"I thought the ball was going to T.J.," Cherry said, "but Coach [Bindel] said he dreamed of this [Thursday] night. He told me to run a zone right, to run outside and run hard."

"Willie is electrifying," Vasher added. "He showed how good he was on that play. And he did it for his mom."


Saying goodbye

Cherry lives with his father, Willie Sr., in Wichita Falls. His mother lived in nearby Vernon, Texas, but he was very close with her.

Cherry said Youngberg had stage IV colon cancer—where cancer has spread from the colon to multiple organs—but she didn't want the majority of the public to know because she didn't want anyone worrying about her.

Her funeral is still pending and will be determined after Monday.

"Thursday morning, I checked him out of school," Cherry Sr. said. "His mother had a real low blood pressure. From that experience, he knew she was going to go at any time."

Cherry Sr. said he checked his son out to get the chance to speak with his mother. She was in sound mind, and Cherry Sr. described the time between Youngberg and their son as "their special moment."

"When I was there, I talked to her about two-and-a-half hours," Cherry said. "We talked about life and being successful. She wanted me to lead others. She told me to always work hard and told me that nothing would be given to you."

The hours of conversation were just enough motivation for Cherry. Sadly, he said the situation wasn't a first-time event. He said he had an aunt with cancer in 2008—which may have helped him prepare for his mother's death.

"I think this time," Cherry Sr. said, "what made him feel better about it all was that he had an opportunity to say goodbye."

Cherry received the final word about his mother while assisting with Rider's junior varsity game. The next day, emotions ran high, but football served as a much-needed distraction.

It helped having teammates who were more than sympathetic about Cherry's loss.

"All week, we would finish practice with a prayer. We prayed for him every day," Vasher said. "Before we hit the tunnel [in Amarillo], a lot of us said, 'Let's do this for Willie.' We just tried to lift him up and get him ready to play."

When the night ended, Cherry delivered. Not just for himself or his teammates, but for his mother.

And after Cherry scored the game-winning touchdown, he was hugged by Bindel, then teammates, and then made a beeline to the Rider crowd.

"I was looking for my dad," he said. "I just wanted to hug him."


Leading by example

The multiple pieces of advice Youngberg gave Cherry before she passed included aspiring for greatness. On the field, Cherry has a goal of being just as well-known of a quarterback as Barrett one day.

Currently, Cherry has early interest from Nebraska, but both Bindel and Vasher believe the offers will come very soon because of Cherry's athleticism and leadership skills.

"He is definitely a Division I athlete," Bindel said of Cherry, who started as a sophomore wide receiver last season. "He's just a great athlete, and we needed him on the field."

"He's a complete athlete," Vasher added. "You can put him anywhere on the field, and he'll make plays. He's a strong, fast, smart player. I know he'll be great at the next level."

Cherry said his mother's death gives him one more reason to be nonstop in his quest to be the best quarterback possible. He currently bench-presses 250 pounds and squats 345. He's run the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds.

Expect bigger and better numbers. And expect him to keep his mother's words close with every minute of improvement.

"Lead by example. That's what she'd tell me," he said. "That, and show my team that even in a bad situation, you can come out positive."

The grieving process has been made easier with the help of his teammates, but the support from classmates and friends via social media has been overwhelming. It's something Cherry isn't taking for granted.

And after Friday's performance, it's something his father feels he can handle with the help of a strong support crew.

"I feel more comfortable now because I know she wanted him to play for her," Cherry Sr. said. "At first, I was nervous. I mean, he lost his mother; I haven't even lost mine yet. I didn't know what the outcome was going to be, with him being a teenager. But now I know he's up for this."

Cherry added, "This whole year, our coaches taught us to tell our parents we love them every day. I texted my mom and told her I love her every day. She knows I love her, and now, I have to do everything to honor her."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes and statistics were obtained firsthand. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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James Conner Injury: Updates on Pitt RB's Knee and Recovery

Pittsburgh running back James Conner will miss the remainder of the 2015 season after suffering an MCL injury in Saturday's 45-37 win over Youngstown State.

Continue for updates.

Conner's Heisman Dreams Dashed with Knee Injury Monday, Sept. 7

ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported Conner will have surgery this week. He posted 77 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries before exiting the game in the second quarter. While the injury was initially categorized as minor, further testing revealed Conner had torn his MCL.

"I greatly appreciate everyone's support and well wishes," Conner said in a statement released by the school. "This is a temporary setback and I'm going to work even harder to bounce back. Even though I won't be able to play this season, I'm going to be right beside my teammates and help them every way I can to have a great season."

Conner, a junior, came into 2015 as one of the preseason favorites for the Heisman Trophy. He rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, emerging as one of the most formidable threats in the country. A bruising back with a throwback style, Conner came into the season hoping to flash more of his all-around game.

"I can still make people miss," he told Adam Kramer of Bleacher Report. "And I try to make people miss first. I use my size to my advantage because I know it's not fun to tackle someone with a linebacker build."

McMurphy weighed in on Conner's injury, noting the rash of players who saw their seasons end in Week 1:

The injury will end Conner's Heisman chase and possibly keep him in school for another year. He entered the season with a clear path toward being one of the first running backs taken in the 2016 draft. But given that position's fungibility and Conner's specific skill set, this red flag would be a major step backward.

Sophomore Chris James will likely take over at running back for the Panthers.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Seven-Step Drop: West Coast Losses Damper Week 1 Enthusiasm

All 234 days of the offseason has made every college football fan hungry. Each long day without the sport tends to make us that much keener for a new season to begin. 

As a result of this, we tend to overreact about Week 1 more than others because we are suddenly presented with an all-you-can-eat buffet of games over one long weekend. When you’ve been famished for so long, overeating is a natural side effect.

This takes hold in many forms. Who could forget the Kenny Trill era at Texas A&M last year or when Auburn had to hold on against a lowly Washington State team in the opener in 2013? It can be dangerous to overreact during Week 1 but it doesn’t mean we can’t learn a few lessons. 

One thing we figured out early on was that the Pac-12 reputation did not get the bounce the league wanted to. Following a fantastic postseason run that nearly brought a national title to the West Coast, Week 1 did not keep the momentum going. A pair of road favorites in Stanford and Colorado fell, while Washington State looked anemic in a loss to FCS Portland State. It also didn’t help that Arizona State, in a rare matchup of Pac-12 and SEC teams, looked like they were on their heels the entire game against Texas A&M.

There is good football being played on the West Coast and the league’s elite teams still look primed to compete to get into the College Football Playoff. But, rightly or wrongly, the conference still faces an issue when it comes to respect from the rest of the country and bad starts like the one the Pac-12 had don’t help perception to begin the season. Teams can only do so much about exposure and time zones but the bottom line is results matter and in this day and age, West Coast losses seem to have a greater impact than the West Coast wins.

There were positives, don’t get me wrong. The Los Angeles schools took care of business against overmatched opponents and looked good doing it. Oregon’s offense appears to be humming right along with Vernon Adams (even if the defense was a little leaky). Utah made the most of the dawn of the Jim Harbaugh era by grabbing a win. As a league, they still captured a pair of wins over Power Five opponents, more than all but the SEC can lay claim to.

And as bad as the Pac-12’s weekend was, they were not the only conference in a leaky boat. The Big Ten finished just 7-6 overall, and 3-6 against FBS teams, ahead of Ohio State’s Labor Day showdown with Virginia Tech. Of those seven wins, just one came against a Power Five opponent and the six others were made of victories over FCS and MAC opponents. Indiana was nearly upset by FCS foe Southern Illinois and held on for the win despite giving up 659 yards of offense and 47 points.

Still, Pac-12 fans should be used to the ridicule by now when one of their teams falls to a lowly opponent. West Coast football can, and should, be doing more to stand out on the field. Week 2 offers a quick fix to help change perception, but it’s up to the 12 teams to make it happen.


Stats of the week

- TCU is 20-1 when ranked in the top five under head coach Gary Patterson. Following a win against Minnesota, the Horned Frogs are also 95-3 under Patterson when allowing 17 points or less.

- Iowa’s 99-yard scoring drive against Illinois State was the team’s first drive of that length in 13 years.

- Texas and Penn State each ran just 52 plays in their losses on Saturday. Georgia, which canceled their game with 9:54 left in the 4th quarter, also ran just 52 plays but managed to rack up 92 yards more than the Longhorns and Nittany Lions did combined.

- Counting Illinois’ Bill Cubit, new head coaches went just 8-8 in their respective openers.

- Oklahoma’s Dru Samia became just the third true freshman to start at offensive tackle for the Sooners.

- Baylor set a school record against SMU with 10.48 yards per play.

- BYU’s last second heroics to steal a win in Lincoln ended Nebraska’s 29-game win streak in season openers, dating back to 1985. Florida has the longest active streak at 25 games.



Quote of the Week

From LSU head coach Les Miles, following the cancellation of the Tigers’ game against McNeese State in which they didn’t play a down.



Tweet of the Week

SBNation’s Matt Brown, just seconds before BYU’s wild Hail Mary to beat Nebraska.



Play of the Week



Sound from Saturday

Via Cougar IMG radio network, BYU play-by-play man Greg Wrubell goes absolutely crazy when Mitch Matthews catches a Hail Mary from Tanner Mangum.


Pre-snap reads

Oregon at Michigan State

Both defenses could use a little work after a shaky Week 1 performance in which each gave up some big plays in the passing game. The Spartans will no doubt be looking for revenge but might not have enough to contain the Ducks again. It will be a close, back-and-forth affair but Vernon Adams will prove to be the difference maker in a win. 

Oklahoma at Tennessee

Are the Vols back? We’ll find out early in this game against Oklahoma, which finds itself being a slight road favorite heading into Knoxville (-3 per Oddshark). The Air Raid offense of new coordinator Lincoln Riley appeared sharp in OU’s opener with new QB Baker Mayfield at the helm and both has to be licking their chops at facing a defense that gave up plenty of big plays to Bowling Green. Look for a few big plays early from each team before the invading Big 12 squad pulls away.

LSU at Mississippi State

The Tigers essentially punted in Week 1 after cancelling their opener so we’re not exactly sure what kind of progress starting signal-caller Brandon Harris has made. Still, any improvement in the passing game should help lessen the load on Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette. MSU looked a little out of rhythm in their first game but do have the edge in experience with Dak Prescott back. Special teams will prove to be the difference in this one, as LSU sneaks out of Starkville with a win.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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Seven-Step Drop: West Coast Losses Damper Week 1 Enthusiasm

All 234 days of the offseason has made every college football fan hungry. Each long day without the sport tends to make us that much keener for a new season to begin...

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B/R Recruiting Notebook: 5-Star Greg Little Announces Top 5, Has a 'Secret 3'

A verbal commitment is anticipated in November for 5-star offensive tackle Greg Little, and one thing is for certain: He will play SEC football in college.

In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, Little, the nation's top-ranked offensive tackle and No. 2 overall player, said LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Alabama and Auburn have made his top five. The onetime Texas A&M commit said he still likes the Aggies, but he has his reasons for choosing the other five SEC programs.

"I like all of the programs. All five are contenders every year," Little said. "Ole Miss is very family oriented. Alabama has the tradition. LSU has a great atmosphere and a great offensive line coach [Jeff Grimes]. That's my guy. With Georgia, my dad is from Athens, so there's a lot of family already out there. With Auburn, my mom really likes the coaching staff there."

All five schools are looking at Little to ultimately play the left tackle position. Little said Alabama will start him at right tackle until Cam Robinson declares for the NFL draft. He's expected to be a top draft pick when that time comes.

In addition to his top five, Little, who measured in at 6'6" and 318 pounds at The Opening in July, added that he has a "secret top three" that he will release at a later date. Nov. 4 is his birthday, and that's the date he's expecting to announce his verbal commitment.

Little, who has nearly 30 offers from coast to coast, said he will take all five visits to his top schools. He added that while some wondered if narrowing his choices to a top five was tough, he saw the process exactly the opposite.

"I thought it was pretty easy," he said. "I mean, people know where they want to go. For me, it didn't take that long. My dad played in the SEC. He told me that real men play in the SEC, and I want to go there and dominate." 


7 to Watch for 4-star CB Knott

Sept. 23 is a big day for 4-star cornerback Nigel Knott, as he will not only announce his college plans, but will also receive his Under Armour All-America Game jersey.

Two days later, the nation's No. 5 cornerback and top-ranked player from the state of Mississippi is expecting to make a return to the field after having knee surgery over the summer. Before he officially begins his senior season, Knott said he wanted to solidify his college plans, which is why he'll choose from of seven schools.

Knott said Alabama, USC, Oregon, Florida State, Tennessee and in-state schools Mississippi State and Ole Miss are finalists when he makes his decision. He said he's going to use the last couple of weeks to do his own research and make an educated decision overall.

"I know I'm going to be there for four years, so I want to be comfortable wherever I go," Knott said. "Wherever I'm comfortable is where I'm going to ball out. I want to be at a place where I know the coaches will do right for the players, and the players will do right for the program."

Knott is expected to be successful at the next level, as he has an athletic pedigree. His father, David Knott, spent  time in the NFL, CFL and arena leagues after playing in the secondary at Ole Miss. His older brother, Chris Givens, is a wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams. Another brother, Nick Knott, played running back at Wake Forest, and his sister, Deja Givens, is a high jumper for the Mississippi State track and field team.

Knott recorded 112 tackles and 16 pass breakups as a junior. However, his athleticism has been his calling card. Knott ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds at The Opening in July. He also completed the 20-yard shuttle in 3.94 seconds, vertical jumped 46.5 inches and threw the power ball 39.5 feet.

And who can forget this incredible backflip catch?


More Records for Oklahoma QB Commit

Oklahoma quarterback commit Austin Kendall has quite a few Union County, North Carolina, high school football records. Add two more to the list.

Per, Kendall set the county's all-time career passing mark with a 229-yard performance for Cuthbertson. He now has 6,650 career yards, bypassing Sun Valley's Ryan Smith (6,624 yards).

To add, Kendall threw two touchdown passes, which tied him with Smith for all-time career touchdown passes. Both quarterbacks now have 76 for their careers.

"It felt like any other game," Kendall said. "I tied the passing touchdowns, so I only passed the passing yards record so far. Hopefully next week, I can pass the TDs [record]."

And afterward? What's the next high school milestone Kendall's chasing?

"State championship, for sure," he said. "That's the biggest thing in my book."


Can Ole Miss Land Another IMG Athlete?

The race for 4-star wide receiver Drake Davis is cut and dry for the time being. It includes three SEC schools in order.

"LSU is above Texas A&M, but Ole Miss is above LSU," Davis said. "Some people know."

The race for Davis isn't over, but the Rebels are in excellent position to land the multifaceted athlete, who lined up at several positions for IMG Academy over the weekend when the team traveled to Texas to play Ohio State quarterback commitment Tristen Wallace and DeSoto.

Ole Miss did its part of keeping Davis interested Saturday in scoring a 76-3 win against Tennessee-Martin. You can bet that he's also receiving tidbits about Ole Miss here and there from his IMG teammate, 5-star quarterback and Rebels commit Shea Patterson.

"I want to see how great of a season they have this year and how great of a season Shea has," Davis said. "I trust Shea. If I go to the same college with him, I will be putting my career in his hands. I know I can trust him."


Sleeper watch: Texas RB Having Huge Games

Running back Peytton Pickett may be under the radar nationally, but the state of Texas has taken notice.

Through two games, Pickett has 508 rushing yards and six touchdowns for Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas, including a 242-yard, two-touchdown performance Friday. The 5'9", 185-pound back has shown excellent bursts in the open field along with solid field vision and elusiveness.

Pickett currently has offers from SMU, Liberty and Delaware State. Look for his stock to rise as he continues the 2015 season.


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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5-Star RB Tavien Feaster Totals 312 Yards, 5 Touchdowns in Week 2

Billed as the nation’s top running back prospect in the 2016 class, Tavien Feaster delivered an emphatic statement to back up those lofty credentials in leading Spartanburg (South Carolina) High School to a 49-20 win over Union County in Week 2.

As detailed by Paul Martin of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Feaster and his squad endured weather delays caused by lightning strikes in the area to earn a huge win and improve to 2-0 on the season.

When the skies weren’t lit up with dangerous weather, the Clemson pledge supplied enough electricity on the field while rushing 10 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He also added three receptions for 119 yards and another two scores, according to stats provided by Vikings Sports Information Director Zachary Johnson. Finally, he added a 51-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

He averaged more than 22 yards each time he touched the ball.

His Week 2 performance follows up a strong showing in Spartanburg’s season opener. In a nationally televised showdown against Wakulla (Florida), Feaster accounted for 182 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in a 42-14 win.

"He's an asset to our team," Spartanburg head coach Chris Miller told Martin. "He's such a phenomenal player. He really doesn't say that much, but when he does speak, people listen."

His early-season display is a prime example of what makes him such a dangerous playmaker.

As he projects to the next level, his game appears to be a perfect fit in Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s high-octane offense. He has the speed and athleticism to be a nightmare in open space, similar to former Tigers All-American running back C.J. Spiller. 

Whether it be as a running back, return man or receiver, Feaster’s strong start to his senior season is proof that he is one of the nation’s top playmakers in the 2016 cycle.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Michigan Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

The Michigan Wolverines returned a strong majority of their starters, but that experience didn't pay off in the season-opening loss to Utah.

With that being said, head coach Jim Harbaugh tabbed more than a handful of players who weren't fixtures in the 2014 lineup, and their individual successes certainly varied.

Jabrill Peppers took his long-awaited starting spot, but the highly touted defensive back stumbled through some problems in the first half. Although Peppers responded in the latter portion of the game, the same can't be said for the rest of the starters.

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Evander Holyfield's 4-Star Son Elijah Rushes for 168 Yards, 4 TDs in Week 2

Friday was a pretty big day on and off the field for 4-star running back Elijah Holyfield.

Earlier in the day, the 5’10”, 204-pounder—who is the son of famed former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield—ended a high-profile recruitment by committing to the Georgia Bulldogs.

He celebrated cementing his future by turning in a dominant performance, rushing for 168 yards on 17 carries and scoring four touchdowns in helping lead Woodward Academy (Georgia) to a 36-29 win over St. Pius X in double overtime, as noted by Radi Nabulsi of Rivals.

According to Score Atlanta (via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Holyfield forced a second overtime with a touchdown run, and he clinched the win with another score on the Eagles' second possession.

After sitting out the season opener due to injury, Holyfield’s return and subsequent performance is likely to please Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt and the team’s fanbase.

The nation’s No. 5 running back and No. 165 player overall selected Georgia over Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and South Carolina, among others.

As Barton Simmons of 247Sports detailed, landing Holyfield was a huge get for Richt and his staff.

From a physical standpoint, Holyfield fits the mold of recent freakish running backs that Georgia has had with Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb.

He’s got the size and power to get tough yards in between the tackles, but he possesses the type of speed and agility to create his share of explosive plays.

Chubb and Sony Michel will be juniors next season, and both could potentially test the NFL draft waters. Also, the Bulldogs will lose Keith Marshall after this season. 

Holyfield has the potential to become the future of the Bulldogs backfield after Chubb and Michel depart the Classic City.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

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