NCAA Football

Stanford Football: Are Cardinal Really Ready to Face Notre Dame?

Instead of heading into next week's massive showdown against Notre Dame with an easy fourth win in their pockets, the Stanford Cardinal will hit the road to face the Irish battered and bruised after being pushed to the limit against a Washington Huskies squad. 

Even in Washington, the Huskies were supposed to be an easy win for the Cardinal. Washington struggled to bury Hawaii in Week 1, then went into a shootout a week later with Eastern Washington. 

Instead, the Huskies never seemed to go away on Saturday. Three minutes after Stanford took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, Washington quarterback Cyler Miles found Jaydon Mickens on a 25-yard strike. A failed extra point kept the score at 10-6. 

Then after a Stanford field goal, a fumble return for a touchdown by the Huskies' Shaq Thompson knotted the score up at 13-13 heading into the locker room. 

It wasn't until five minutes left in the game that Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan finally found pay dirt on a five-yard touchdown run that gave his team the 20-13 win. 

Nevertheless, Stanford struggled mightily with three turnovers. The 3-of-12 third down efficiency doesn't look that pretty, either. 

So, are the Cardinal doomed for a rough night against the Irish, or can Stanford salvage their College Football Playoff hopes and upend Norte Dame in South Bend? 

While the Cardinal struggled offensively, they still found a way to put up 20 points against a team that in all but one game has allowed fewer than that. 

They also outpaced the Huskies 364-179 in offensive yards. 

Against the Irish though, they'll be facing far and away the best defense they've seen in 2014. Through three games, Notre Dame is giving up just 10 points per game. 

The Irish are also 17th nationally in takeaways with nine—six interceptions and three fumble recoveries. 

Notre Dame possesses a decent offense headed by quarterback Everett Golson, albeit not necessarily a gaudy one statistically. They rank 52nd in passing and 46th in scoring through their first three games.

However, Golson and Co. have to face the Cardinal, whose stout defense through Week 4 had allowed the fewest points per game in the country at just 6.5. 

As the overly-cliched saying goes, defense wins championships. It was Stanford's defense that kept them in the game against Washington as their offense floundered time and time again. 

And it'll be the Cardinal's defense that gives them a shot at upsetting the Irish. 

The key will be putting pressure on and containing Golson. The Irish don't have any big-play backs that can hurt you in one strike in the running game—through Week 4 no Irish running back has racked up 120 yards on the year. 

Golson is also notorious for struggling in big games. The only time he's thrown for over 200 yards against a ranked team was against Alabama in the BCS Championship game, a contest where he was forced to throw as the Crimson Tide built up a big lead early. 

The Cardinal offense will have a week to regain form, while their defense should continue to be staunch. 

The best teams don't learn through losing, they learn through gutting out tough wins. 

The Cardinal did that against a pesky Washington team, and that should have them ready to inject some life back to their playoff hopes against Notre Dame next week. 

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Stanford Football: Are Cardinal Really Ready to Face Notre Dame?

Instead of heading into next week's massive showdown against Notre Dame with an easy fourth win in their pockets, the Stanford Cardinal will hit the road to face the Irish battered ...

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Arkansas vs. Texas A&M: Game Grades, Analysis for Razorbacks, Aggies

The Texas A&M Aggies were able to rebound from a two-touchdown deficit to upend the Arkansas Razorbacks by a score of 35-28 on Saturday.

Kenny "Trill" Hill threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Although the talented signal-caller started slowly, he came through when his team needed him the most. 

It was a tough loss for Arkansas. Bret Bielema's team was the better side for the majority of the afternoon. However, foolish penalties and mental errors ultimately extended the Hogs' streak of losses in SEC play to 14. 

A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

Check out first-half grades and final grades for the Aggies and Razorbacks. Additional analysis for different positional units will also be addressed.

 

Arkansas Razorbacks Game Grades Analysis

Passing Offense

The play-action game was working very effectively through the first three quarters. Brandon Allen found elite tight end Hunter Henry early and often. Allen made a beautiful touchdown throw to A.J. Derby for a 44-yard touchdown. 

As the game progressed, the A&M pressure was hindering the signal-caller's ability to stand in the pocket. Although efficient throughout the contest, Allen wasn't able to truly test the Aggies defense down the field. 

 

Pass Defense

The unit in the first half was very good. Cornerbacks were challenging the vaunted A&M stable of receivers, making it difficult to get separation. Holding Hill to 96 yards passing in one half is an impressive feat. 

It was a different story in the second portion of the game. A&M scored on touchdown throws of 86 and 59 yards. A busted coverage also led to a 50-yard completion. It was a tale of two halves for the secondary. 

 

Rushing Offense

In terms of a rushing output, racking up 285 yards on the ground versus the No. 6 team in the country is very good. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams combined for more than 220 yards and two touchdowns. 

If we're including the offensive line within this unit, there were some flubs. A poor snap to Allen late in the fourth quarter killed the last drive, ultimately leading to the missed field goal.

A bizarre tripping penalty by tackle Dan Skipper wiped out a touchdown. The potential score would have put the Razorbacks up by three touchdowns late in the second half. False-start penalties also hindered the offense and put Allen behind the chains. 

 

Rush Defense

The unit as a whole was relatively solid. It bottled up Trey Williams, holding him to 26 yards on nine carries. More than anything, it got consistent pressure on Hill. Trey Flowers in particular was a force all afternoon. 

As the afternoon wore on, the pressure lessened. Tra Carson was able to pick up big chunks of yardage. Much like the team, the unit somewhat wilted in the fourth quarter. A&M rushed for 137 yards on 27 carries for a respectable 5.1 yards-per-carry average. 

 

Special Teams

The fake punt for a touchdown by Sam Irwin-Hill was a wonderful play. Not only did the Australian punter display some surprising quickness and elusiveness in space, but the touchdown gave the team a lot of momentum. 

Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, kicker John Henson badly missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter. The score would have put Arkansas up by 10 points with less than two minutes remaining. As we know, the miss proved to be costly. 

 

Coaching

Kudos to Bielema for devising a solid plan. The fake punt call was a truly brilliant move. 

In the second half (namely the fourth quarter), the play-calling was strange. Clock management was the biggest issue on the day for the staff.

Arkansas has the identity of being a running team. Late in the fourth quarter, the team decided to throw the football. It resulted in incompletions, which ultimately gave A&M a chance to equalize. 

 

Texas A&M Aggies Game Grades Analysis

Passing Offense

Hill started the game very slowly. He went 10-of-22 for 96 yards in the first half. Arkansas did a nice job of driving the tempo way down. As a result, Hill and the offense weren't able to get into any sort of a rhythm. 

In the second half, the pace picked up considerably. Hill was able to make throws down the field to his talented receivers. Impressive touchdown throws to Edward Pope and Josh Reynolds displayed Hill's immense ability in terms of both touch and arm strength. He finished 21-of-41 for 386 yards and four touchdowns. 

 

Pass Defense

The Aggies got bitten by the play-action bug. With Arkansas running the ball so well in the first half, safeties were forced to play up closer to the line of scrimmage. The unit was burned by a big 44-yard touchdown reception to Derby. 

Safety Armani Watts in particular had a tough day. He had problems diagnosing the play on the touchdown throw and also had issues tackling the likes of Williams and Collins. 

 

Rushing Offense

Rushing for 5.1 yards per carry is a solid output against a good defensive front. Hill wasn't really involved running the football until late in the contest.

Carson looks like a very good option going forward. As a big, physical back, he helped to get tough yardage. The Oregon transfer led the team with 55 yards on eight carries. 

 

Rush Defense

Giving up 285 yards on the ground is never good. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams were giving the young defensive front fits for most of the day. Collins in particular was extremely effective, tallying 131 yards on the day.

In the second half, however, the defensive line was more effective in getting off blocks. Arkansas had 198 yards rushing in the first half but only 88 after halftime. This is a case where the statistical output doesn't necessarily tell the entire story. A&M stiffened when it needed to and made critical stops. 

 

Special Teams

Allowing the fake punt touchdown run obviously wasn't a great development. The score occurred right before halftime, giving Arkansas a ton of momentum. Curiously, the very reliable Josh Lambo missed a very makeable field goal from 40 yards. 

This wasn't the best day for the Aggies' special teams unit. 

 

Coaching

Hill was having trouble dealing with the Arkansas pressure early. The play-calling had the signal-caller exclusively sitting in the pocket. Getting him on the move could have helped to combat the Arkansas defensive line. 

In the second half, the play-calling was much better. A&M was taking shots down the field and also rolling Hill out in order to buy time to throw the ball. Defensively, A&M put the clamps down on the Arkansas rushing attack in the second half.

After allowing nearly 200 yards rushing in the first half, the Aggies allowed only 87 after the break. 

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Baylor QB Bryce Petty Hurdles Iowa State Defender En Route to End Zone

Quarterbacks aren't always viewed as the most athletic players on the field, but Baylor's Bryce Petty is an exception to that stereotype.

When an Iowa State defender tried to tackle the Bears quarterback before he reached the end zone, Petty hurdled his way over him and across the goal line.

The touchdown gave Baylor a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

[Vine]

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California and Colorado QBs Put Up Identical Stats in Double-Overtime Thriller

The California Golden Bears and the Colorado Buffaloes played a double-overtime thriller at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. If you think the double overtime indicated that it was a pretty even game, wait until you see the stats each team's quarterback put up.

Check out the numbers for Colorado's Sefo Liufau and Cal's Jared Goff:

That's as even as it gets.

Liufau added 72 rushing yards on 10 carries, so he was responsible for more total yards of offense than his counterpart. However, Goff's team came away with a 59-56 victory.

Another big stat from the evening:

Today's Cal-Colorado game was the 1st in FBS history in which both teams threw at least 7 TD passes; tied the FBS record of 14 set in 1990

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 28, 2014

[ESPN, h/t College GameDay]

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Kenny Hill Shows He Has Johnny Manziel's Magic in Comeback Win

We knew Kenny Hill was talented. We knew he was prolific.

What we didn’t know was how he would respond when he was challenged—when he and Texas A&M were backed into a corner. It was bound to happen at some point in the SEC season. We just didn’t know when.

Saturday, that moment came against a plucky Arkansas team at the Southwest Classic inside AT&T Stadium.

And Hill’s response has to have Aggie fans ecstatic for what lies ahead for the rest of the 2014 season.

Hill and the A&M offense erased a two-touchdown fourth-quarter deficit with a pair of long touchdowns, and the No. 6 Aggies used that momentum in overtime to secure a 35-28 victory.

Hill completed 21 of 41 passes for 386 yards with four touchdowns against one interception, but most importantly, he didn’t look fazed under pressure.

That was a trait his predecessor, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel (who watched from the Aggies’ sideline Saturday), had in spades. While Hill looked incredibly impressive in setting an A&M single-game passing-yardage record in the season-opening 52-28 rout of then-No. 8 South Carolina (breaking the Gamecocks’ 18-game home winning streak), A&M was never really tested.

That wasn’t the case Saturday. The Houston Chronicle's Brent Zwerneman shared Hill's comments about the team's overall performance:

Through three quarters, Arkansas led 28-14, and while Hill had two touchdowns against one interception, he had been a bit uneven. And given the Razorbacks’ propensity to control the ball on the ground, that deficit looked a lot bigger than two touchdowns.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Hill changed the equation with an 86-yard touchdown pass to Edward Pope, cutting the deficit to a score.

Arkansas had a chance to all but ice the game with under three minutes to play, but a missed field goal gave A&M another chance.

That was not smart.

This time, Josh Reynolds turned an intermediate pass and a bad Arkansas secondary angle into a 59-yard touchdown and a tie game.

In overtime, Hill threw a beautiful 25-yard strike to Malcome Kennedy for what turned out to be the game-winner.

Under pressure, he was unflappable, and it was exactly what A&M needed.

“I can’t say enough about the guys,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin told CBS’ Allie LaForce afterward, speaking in general about his team. “It was a real test for us to come back from behind and keep playing the way we did with a bunch of young guys. It was a heck of a ballgame.”

A&M will face bigger tests in October. Over the next three weeks, the Aggies travel to No. 14 Mississippi State, host No. 10 Ole Miss and travel to No. 3 Alabama. That’s the beauty of undoubtedly the nation’s toughest division: Over the course of a season, your flaws will be exposed, and you’ll have to improve.

Hill found that out Saturday, and he and his teammates will only be better for it moving forward.

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Minnesota vs. Michigan: Game Grades and Analysis for the Wolverines

Gut-wrenching. 

That's the only way that this Michigan loss, the most recent in a string of dissatisfying efforts, can be described. Instead of competing during its Big Ten opener against Minnesota, Team 135 was again dumped by a team that it was supposed to beat. 

The Wolverines (2-3) face several crossroads, one of them being at quarterback. During his postgame presser, coach Brady Hoke said that the position would be "reevaluated" this week after sophomore Shane Morris completed just seven of 19 attempts for 49 yards. 

Get the official box score at NCAA.com

Pass Offense 

Morris completed a 14-yard pass, but that was it for the kid with the golden arm. The former 5-star recruit got his first real taste of Big Ten action, and it wasn't exactly a successful outing. Sustaining several hits, Morris was visibly in pain late in the fourth quarter. 

That play pretty much summed up the day's events. It was not pretty, whatsoever.

 

Pass Defense

The Gophers didn't go full-out air show Saturday, but Mitch Leidner, their quarterback, was effective in a timely manner. He hooked up with Maxx Williams for the door-slammer in the third quarter, giving Minnesota a commanding 27-7 advantage. He ended the day with 167 passing yards, too. 

He was sacked thrice, but he walked away with The Little Brown Jug.

 

Run Offense

This is getting tiresome. Each week is the same thing. De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green combined for very little Saturday. But Smith had a 10-yard touchdown run that gave Michigan its first offensive touchdown since Week 3 versus Miami (Ohio). 

Smith led the charge with 57 yards (long of 28). Gardner had 34, Justice Hayes had 10 and Green had eight.

 

Run Defense

David Cobb quietly carved the Wolverines defense, which had allowed just 1.83 yards per carry in the three previous games. The superstar Gophers bulldozer almost had his third 200-yard game of the season. And he's only played five games. 

Cobb needed just one half to set a new high (low) for Greg Mattison's run defense, which allowed just 54 yards to Notre Dame in Week 2.

 

Special Teams 

This will be the only positive grade. Matt Wile pinned Minnesota just feet away from its goal line with 2:17 to play in the first half. Will Hagerup finished the night with 400 punting yards. 

But it's never a good sign when your punter "outgains" your offense.

 

Coaching

After the loss, Hoke insisted that he's not losing his grip. 

Take that for what it's worth.

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

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Ohio State Strength Coach Slams Fan Who Charged Field to the Ground

Anthony Schlegel doesn't play for Ohio State anymore, but the Buckeyes strength coach isn't afraid to make a tackle if someone decides to run onto the field.

During the Cincinnati-Ohio State game on Saturday night, the former Buckeye—and NFL—linebacker stepped up to restore order after a fan charged the field.

Schlegel threw the fan down to the Ohio Stadium turf, proving he can still make a play when called upon.

The tackle created an awesome picture:

[Instagram, Twitter; h/t The Big Lead]

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Kenny Hill vs. Arkansas: Stat Line, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Kenny Hill took another step toward securing his place in Texas A&M football history at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday as he led the Aggies to a comeback win over the Arkansas Razorbacks 35-28 in overtime. 

After what could be described as a pedestrian performance for three quarters, the super sophomore showcased the most important quarterback quality of them all—moxie. After throwing an interception with 9:34 left in the final frame, Hill took it upon himself to rally the Aggies, per TexAgs:

It was a promise he was prepared to deliver. With the Razorbacks unable to run out the clock, Hill connected with Edward Pope and Josh Reynolds on touchdown passes of 86 and 59 yards, respectively, to force the game into a 28-28 tie. 

Then, as if that weren't clutch enough, he found Malcome Kennedy from 25 yards out to go up 35-28 on the first play of overtime, as noted by CBS Sports:

Here's a look at Hill's stat line from the gutsy performance:

There are holes to poke in that stat line, sure. You'd like to see Hill's completion percentage be much higher than the 51.2 percent he posted against Arkansas. However, as Sports Illustrated pointed out, the second half set up nicely for Hill to have a Heisman moment, and he didn't back down:

Of course, for how great Hill is, as long as he wears the maroon of the Aggies, he'll be compared with his predecessor. Johnny Manziel was on hand to give the sophomore some encouragement, per Mark Passwaters of Rivals.com:

Sports Illustrated also noted the slight similarities between Hill and Johnny Football. The new Aggies quarterback might not tuck and run as much as the former Heisman winner, but he showed he could make things happen with his feet when he has to:

It might be a little early to be giving Hill legitimate Heisman hype just yet. We aren't even to the halfway point of the season, and he will be tested by three ranked teams in his next three games. But if Hill is able to continue putting up performances like this with the game on the line, it's hard to imagine he'll leave College Station without a Heisman campaign on his resume. 

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Louisiana Tech vs. Auburn: Game Grades, Analysis for the Tigers

The Auburn Tigers battled their way to a 45-17 victory on Saturday over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, improving to 4-0 as a daunting conference slate awaits Gus Malzahn's team.

A 28-point difference was not indicative of the offensive struggles Auburn encountered, but the Tigers still put together a superb showing.

 

Pass Offense

While Nick Marshall threw just three passes during the second quarter, two resulted in touchdowns. The senior went 10-of-17 overall, tallying 166 yards and connecting with his receivers in the end zone three times.

Wide receiver Quan Bray had the best performance, snaring three passes for 91 yards and two scores. Sammie Coates had a quiet day, but Duke Williams and C.J. Uzomah both added a touchdown grab.

 

Run Offense 

Auburn didn't need to pass much because the ground game was so effective. Marshall sliced his way through the Louisiana Tech defense with the read-option attack, amassing 105 yards on just 13 attempts.

Cameron Artis-Payne continued his strong season, bullying his way to 116 yards and one touchdown. The Tigers will rely on him during SEC action.

 

Pass Defense

Right away, Auburn's front seven established itself as a difference-making unit. The Tigers batted down three balls on the first two drives, and lineman Montravius Adams even snagged an interception and almost returned it for a touchdown.

Louisiana Tech receiver Trent Taylor had success in the slot, catching eight passes for 80 yards. Auburn needs to tighten up that area but gave a solid collective performance against quarterback Cody Sokol.

 

Run Defense

The Bulldogs' star running back Kenneth Dixon entered the game with a 100-yard-plus average, but the Tigers limited him to 29 yards on 14 carries.

Although Jarred Craft ripped off a long run, Louisiana Tech trudged its way to 3.2 yards per attempt. Building off this success will be crucial since the likes of LSU, Georgia and Alabama await.

 

Special Teams

Daniel Carlson converted all six extra points and nailed a 25-yard field goal, but he pushed an attempt from 41 wide right. Additionally, he averaged 38.5 per punt.

Bray took a punt back 76 yards to seal the game, yet he wasn't the only effective returner: Marcus Davis averaged 15.5, too.

 

Coaching

Gus Malzahn's offense is not completely clicking yet, but he and coordinator Rhett Lashlee always put the streaky Marshall in a good position to succeed. When Auburn started to control the line of scrimmage during the second quarter, the offense focused on running the ball—and it excelled.

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson had his unit well-prepared for a balanced Louisiana Tech attack. The Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage, disrupted runs and pressured Sokol throughout the victory.

 

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

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Florida State vs. North Carolina State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Seminoles

It wasn’t pretty, but the outcome sure was if you’re a Florida State fan. The No. 1 Seminoles rallied from a 17-point deficit Saturday night and earned a 56-41 win at North Carolina State for the program’s 20th consecutive victory.

Carter-Finley Stadium had been a house of horrors for the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) over the years, but in beating the Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1), they kept their national title chances intact.

As far as grades are concerned, I was tough on Florida State's pass defense, which had too many busted plays and allowed Jacoby Brissett to have a coming-out party on national television. Conversely, I was critical of the FSU running game but thought that it did a remarkable job in the second half of bouncing back and looking like a strong unit for the first time this season.

Complete grades and analysis are listed below. 

 

Pass Offense

I would have given Jameis Winston an A-plus, but he made two big mistakes on both of his interceptions that could have wound up costing FSU the game—in particular, his turnover late in the contest when the Seminoles had secured the victory.

But it is hard to find many faults in Winston’s game. After his one-game suspension, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was up to his old tricks, putting passes in perfect spots for his receivers to make plays, effectively running the offense and orchestrating another victory.

Winston finished the night with 365 yards and four touchdowns. He has never lost a college game, and no matter how the rest of this season plays out, FSU is never out of the game when Winston is running the show.

 

Run Offense

FSU’s rushing attack has been a sore spot through the first three games of the season, but that wasn’t the case in the second half on Saturday night.

After managing just 16 yards on 12 carries in the first two quarters, FSU exploded on the ground in the second half. Karlos Williams led the effort with a career-best three touchdown runs to go along with his 126 yards, while Dalvin Cook added 45 yards.

As a team, FSU ran for a season-high 168 yards. For a team that needs its running game to get going, the second half was a good first step in regaining the explosive form of a typical Jimbo Fisher offense. 

 

Pass Defense

Florida State led the entire country in interceptions a season ago, but this year the ‘Noles haven’t had the same luck when it comes to generating takeaways through the air.

FSU was unable to stop Brissett from slinging the football all over the field, as the former University of Florida quarterback threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

The Seminoles have one of the best secondaries in the nation but didn’t play like it Saturday night.

 

Rush Defense

Outside of a long Brissett scramble at the end of the first half, Florida State did an excellent job of corralling a very good Wolfpack running game.

Despite playing without nose guard Nile Lawrence-Stample and perhaps college football’s best run-game defensive end in Mario Edwards Jr., the Seminoles weren’t beaten on the ground. FSU did a good job of limiting any big NC State plays on the ground all night.

Take away Brissett’s 36-yard scramble, and the Wolfpack’s 161 rushing yards dwindle to 125 yards on the night—a very manageable number for this type of game.

 

Special Teams

Roberto Aguayo was once again perfect on extra points, and Cason Beatty wasn’t terrible punting the football, but Florida State gets a C-minus on special teams because of some poor decisions and lack of production in the return game.

Kermit Whitfield managed just 18.7 yards per return on kickoffs, while Bobo Wilson did have one 34-yard return. Most surprising, though, was Greene’s mental errors returning punts. On one return he called fair catch and then tried to return the ball, which drew a flag; then he muffed a punt in the second half that led to an NC State score just three plays later.

Greene is FSU’s best wide receiver, but he is lucky those two plays didn’t haunt the ‘Noles more than they did.

 

Coaching

Like they did a week ago against Clemson, Fisher and his staff did a masterful job of making halftime adjustments and correcting the issues that were plaguing the team.

This victory was Fisher’s first in three tries at Carter-Finley Stadium, and his improvement as a head coach and game manager since the 17-16 loss at NC State in 2012 is staggering.

 

Brandon Mellor is a Florida State writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of Seminoles.com. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow @BrandonMellor on Twitter.

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Illinois vs. Nebraska: Live Score and Highlights

Nebraska 31, Illinois 14—HALFTIME

For the first time in three seasons, Nebraska has emerged from the out-of-conference part of its schedule unscathed.  After Penn State's loss earlier today, the Cornhuskers are now the only remaining undefeated Big Ten program.  Can they keep the momentum going tonight against Illinois?

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Check out Auburn QB Nick Marshall Evade Sack, Throw 44-Yd Jaw-Dropping Touchdown

Nick Marshall is one of the most elusive players in college football. Watch this insane Houdini act the Auburn Tigers quarterback pulls on Louisiana Tech. 

Is Nick Marshall the most electric QB in college football?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Jameis Winston vs. NC State: Stat Line, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Returning from his one-game suspension, Jameis Winston saved the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles from suffering a stunning upset to North Carolina State. In a close call, Winston helped Florida State overcome an early deficit to earn a 56-41 victory.

After missing last week's overtime victory over Clemson for yelling a vulgar obscenity on campus, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner had a strong yet inconsistent day for the Seminoles. He needed every yard and score from his gaudy box score to fend off the hungry Wolfpack.

The News & Observer's Ethan Hyman snapped a shot of Winston passionately returning to the field for Saturday's game.

The Seminoles suffered a rocky start, but Winston wasn't the prime culprit. He ended the first quarter with 111 yards and a touchdown, but the defense allowed 24 first-quarter points to NC State. Florida State surrendered 520 yards throughout the day, putting its No. 1 slot in jeopardy despite producing a victory.

Perhaps the near upset should not come as a major surprise, considering NC State's string of success in the ACC rivalry game, per College GameDay.

Early on, opposing quarterback Jacoby Brissett stole the show, matching wits with the Heisman winner with 166 passing yards and two touchdowns during the opening half. Bleacher Report's Brandon Mellor marveled at the unheralded signal-caller maximizing Saturday's spotlight.

Winston began the second half unceremoniously, throwing an interception off his back foot. Pack Pride delivered video of the play on Twitter.

The New Orleans Advocate's Nick Underhill chastised him for the poor play.

Late in the third quarter, he redeemed himself by firing two touchdowns within three minutes of each other, benefiting from a NC State turnover for a short field the second time around. Rashad Greene snatched the second score, which Winston fired into a small space.

Given the ball back again, Winston almost surrendered his third turnover of the day, throwing a deep ball into tight coverage. FSU fans exhaled, while NC State lamented that it amounted to no more than an incomplete pass.

Just when an 11-point lead looked safe after Brissett's second fumble, Winston gave the ball right back, again to Jerod Fernandez. FanSided gave us a look at this one.

As Jimbo Fisher screamed at his quarterback on the sideline, TheBigLead.com's Jason McIntyre criticized him on Twitter. 

NC State pounced on the turnover and cut the lead to eight. A key sack put the squad in golden position to get the ball back, but Winston scrambled for a 20-yard gain on 3rd-and-long. Karlos Williams sealed the deal with a late touchdown.

The Seminoles remain undefeated, but will they remain on top of the college football mountain? While FSU trailed, ESPN's Dari Nowkhah stated that a comeback should not save its No. 1 standing.

Will he stand by that opinion after FSU escaped with a win? More importantly, how will the voters feel?

Despite all the points FSU surrendered, Winston played well on the winning end of a shootout. NFL Philosophy evaluated his strong field presence. 

That was one of few kind comments directed Winston's way on Twitter. As noted by NFL.com Chase Goodbread, Winston's actions combined with the desire to see David take down Goliath made NC State the protagonist.

Then again, nobody is questioning his on-field ability. Instead, character issues in light of everything off the field will concern NFL teams. Speaking on The Dan Patrick Show, former head coach Tony Dungy said he wouldn't use a high pick on Winston, via NBC on Yahoo Sports. "As of now, I wouldn't. I'd have to do a lot of research and go in and talk to him," Dungy said. "But you don't want the face of your franchise and the guy you're going to take with one of the top five picks to have all those off-the-field issues. You just don't."

During a tumultuous season, Winston has completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 991 yards, seven passing touchdowns and four interceptions. Last week's suspension derailed his chances of winning the Heisman in back-to-back years, but his strong game on Saturday keeps alive Florida State's chances of another championship run.

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Jacoby Brissett vs. FSU: Stat Line, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

North Carolina State junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett may not have been a household name entering Saturday's clash against No. 1 Florida State, but after a remarkable performance in a 56-41 loss to the nation's top team, that will change.

Brissett's brilliant showing yielded this stat line:

The 6'4", 231-pound signal-caller didn't take long to make his presence felt against the Seminoles. After his first pass of the game to David Grinnage went for 21 yards, he evaded a pass-rusher and let one loose down the middle of the field, hitting Bo Hines in stride en route to a 51-yard touchdown.

Here's a great look at the play, via Pack Pride:

After just two passes, perhaps the Florida Gators began to feel the effects of the quarterback's departure—Brissett spent two years there before transferring to North Carolina State. Kevin Brockway of GatorSports.com seemed to think so:

Later in the first quarter, Brissett went back to work. After a 45-yard completion to Grinnage brought the Wolfpack within striking distance, the quarterback showed his ability to shed would-be tacklers once more, evading two defenders and hitting Johnathan Alston for an eight-yard touchdown.

Here's a look at Brissett's ridiculous strength and mobility:

ESPN ACC tweeted an interesting comparison following the play:

Through the first half, Brissett's numbers were very impressive. In fact, he was faring better than Florida State's Jameis Winston to that point. Here's a look at their side-by-side stats, via 120 Sports:

With his team clinging to a three-point lead early in the third quarter, Brissett performed his best magic trick of the day. North Carolina State's offensive line crumbled, allowing the quarterback to be swarmed by defenders. Somehow, someway, he managed to get a pass off to Matt Dayes while sitting atop a fallen pass-rusher. The play went for eight yards.

Seeing is believing for this one. Take a look at his heads-up play, courtesy of The Score:

ESPN ACC's tweet following that play pretty much summed up how every single onlooker felt in that moment:

Later in the drive—which included a Brissett 19-yard scramble out of a collapsing pocket—the Wolfpack offense faced a 1st-and-goal on the Seminoles' 10-yard line. Brissett delivered a perfect strike to Dayes, capping off one of the most brilliantly engineered drives we've seen from any quarterback this season.

SportsCenter tweeted Brissett's updated stats following the score:

Finding himself under continuous pressure, Brissett was sacked and stripped of the football late in the third quarter. This allowed the Seminoles to take their first lead of the game. Later, utilizing quick, underneath throws, Brissett orchestrated a methodical drive deep into Florida State territory yet again. However, the rush got to him one more time, forcing another fumble which was recovered by the Seminoles.

Although, after a Winston interception, Brissett was given another chance. A 13-yard completion to Alston kicked things off, but the quarterback was briefly injured after a five-yard scamper on second down. After an incomplete pass by backup quarterback Garrett Leatham on third down, the team settled for a field goal.

Unfortunately for Brissett and the Wolfpack, Florida State was effective enough on the ensuing drive to kill most of the clock—and the Wolfpack's hopes of an upset—with a solid running game that produced another Seminoles touchdown.

Despite the loss, the future looks bright for Brissett. He was already performing well heading into Saturday's contest, completing 69.7 percent of his passes this season for 1,005 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception for a rating of 166.7. Now, Brissett proved he can produce against difficult opposition.

ESPN ACC tweeted one final comment upon the game's conclusion: 

After his brilliant performance in the national spotlight, we'll be hearing his name more often.

Looking at the Wolfpack's remaining schedule, games at Clemson and Louisville will be challenging; however, considering the way Brissett has been playing, there's no denying the possibility of this team winning out. If that turns out to be the case, we may also hear his name mentioned in Heisman discussions.

With seven games left on North Carolina State's slate this season, we can expect this human highlight reel to provide plenty more fireworks.

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Arkansas vs. Texas A&M: Score and Twitter Reaction

Texas A&M came back from down 14 points in the fourth quarter to earn a 35-28 overtime win over Arkansas in a neutral game at AT&T Stadium.

After a rough start to the day, Kenny Hill came through with 386 passing yards and four touchdowns, including three long scores in the fourth quarter and overtime. 

The Aggies were expecting an easier time against the only unranked team in the SEC West, but a furious comeback and 523 yards of offense were enough to secure the win. This gave the Razorabacks their 14th conference loss in a row with the last win coming on Oct. 13, 2012. 

Alex Collins had a strong effort in defeat with 132 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Quarterback Brandon Allen finished with 199 passing yards and a touchdown in the loss.

ESPN's Paul Finebaum looks ahead for Arkansas:

With former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in attendance, this game had all the signs of a high-scoring battle in the early going. Texas A&M scored on the first drive after a big kickoff return by Trey Williams. It took only four plays before Brandon Williams was able to get into the end zone on a 13-yard run.

Arkansas answered right back, though, with Collins and Jamaal Williams doing work on the ground before tying the game up at 7-7.

The two sides continued to trade shots over the next few drives as the score doubled to 14-14, including a 50-yard touchdown run by Collins.

However, the defense picked up from there as Arkansas did an amazing job limiting the big-time Texas A&M offense. Jon Solomon of CBS Sports provides a look at some interesting stats at the half:

Benjamin Allbright of Yahoo Sports discussed the surprising numbers between a Heisman candidate and a game manager:

Of course, the biggest play of the first half came on a fake punt on fourth-and-10, which punter Sam Irwin-Hill took all the way for a 51-yard touchdown.

This gave the Razorbacks a 21-14 lead at the half, although head coach Bret Bielema was not satisfied:

His team apparently was not either because Arkansas kept playing well. In the third quarter, the squad was able to take a two-touchdown lead when Allen connected with a wide-open A.J. Derby for a 44-yard touchdown on a well-designed play-action pass.

Jim Harris of ESPN WPS liked what he saw from the fake:

With Texas A&M continuing to struggle offensively, ESPN SEC made this statement:

This ended up being a bit premature as the Aggies were able to cut the deficit in half on an 87-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Edward Pope. As you can see in the replay below, the defender fell down to allow an easy score:

 

Later in the fourth quarter, Texas A&M was able to tie the game on another long pass to Josh Reynolds, who made up for a number of bad drops with a 59-yard score with just over two minutes remaining.

The game ended up going into overtime, which was just fine for the Aggies. They scored on the first play in the extra session with Hill throwing a strike to Malcome Kennedy for a 25-yard touchdown, putting the pressure on Arkansas:

On the next possession, the Razorbacks were stopped on fourth down as Texas A&M were able to secure the difficult win. 

The Aggies came into the day hoping to keep proving they are worthy of a spot in the College Football Playoff at the end of the season. With a 4-0 record and a win at South Carolina already on the resume, they had as good of a resume as anyone.

While they were able to add to the win column on Saturday, the overall struggles had to be concerning. The team remains in the playoff hunt, but they cannot afford too many more poor performances.

Things do not get any easier for Texas A&M either with a road contest at Mississippi State next Saturday.

Meanwhile, Arkansas helped again prove why the SEC is so tough. The team is now 0-2 in conference, but it is good enough to create a challenge for every team it faces this year.

After next week's bye, the squad will host Alabama as it tries to find a way to complete an upset.

Either way, fans were once again reminded that anything can happen in this sport.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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FSU vs. NC State: Score and Twitter Reaction

Florida State's run toward a second consecutive national championship is still in play, after the Seminoles came back from a 17-point first-quarter deficit to defeat North Carolina State. The thrilling back-and-forth contest ended with a final score of 56-41.

Quarterback Jameis Winston tossed four touchdowns for the 'Noles, while Karlos Williams overcame a slow start to finish with three rushing touchdowns.

Here is a quarter-by-quarter look at the score from the ACC contest:

The Seminoles have everything: a national title-winning buzz-saw defense, a mammoth offensive line, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Winston and a fantastic coach in Jimbo Fisher. NC State simply ignored the sterling pedigree and put up 24 points in the first quarter, a novel event in Florida State's long and storied history, per ESPN Stats & Info:

NC State opened the scoring with a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacoby Brissett to wideout Bo Hines.

Winston—back in action after a one-game suspension that forced him to sit out the Seminoles' tightrope win over Clemson—quickly pulled the 'Noles back, firing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jesus Wilson to tie the game at 7-7.

ESPN's Jared Shanker noted the bizarre series of events before the play, which included a first-down catch nullified by an NC State timeout call:

Fans on Twitter had a good bit of fun with Wilson's name:

The Wolfpack responded, putting together a 13-play drive that ended in a three-yard scoring run from halfback Shadrach Thornton.

The Seminoles' troubles continued on the ensuing possession. A fearsome NC State pass rush got the best of the Florida State offensive line, and defensive tackle T.Y. McGill hit Winston from behind and forced a fumble that the defense recovered, leading to an NC State field goal.

The upset-alert meter hit Wolfpack Red when Brissett made one of the plays of the year, scrambling to his right, shedding a pair of would-be tacklers and then floating a pass to wide receiver Johnathan Alston in the end zone just before he fell out of bounds.

The powers that be at SportsCenter were justifiably excited:

Brissett used to play for Florida, who would be happy to have a quarterback of his caliber this season, as Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman noted: 

The atmosphere at Carter-Finley Stadium was electric, but Florida State showed its No. 1 ranking wasn't based on reputation alone with a fantastic start to the second quarter. Winston executed a wonderful drive that ended in a Karlos Williams touchdown run, and then FSU's defense forced a three-and-out. Winston took advantage of some very favorable field position, tossing a 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Christian Green.

The rapidly improved performance caused Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel to wonder if Florida State was simply repeating a slow start from last season:

The Wolfpack offense fizzled as the second quarter dragged on, but the defense held tough and prevented the 'Noles from scoring the rest of the way. Both teams struggled to establish a sound running game. Williams finished with just 41 yards at the half, while Thornton put up only 37 yards of his own on the ground for the home team.

Winston started off the second half with a costly mistake, firing a pass over the middle that freshman linebacker Jerod Fernandez did well to intercept.

Brissett took over the ensuing drive, marching the Wolfpack down the field. He drew rave reviews for flipping a pass to running back Matt Dayes while getting dragged to the turf by two 'Noles defenders, then scrambled for first downs on consecutive plays to take his team deep into enemy territory. Brissett finished off the drive with a missile strike to Dayes in front of the end zone to give the Wolfpack some much-needed breathing room.

ESPN's ACC Twitter account recognized Brissett's magic on the drive:

Winston refused to wilt under the pressure, showing off a preternatural ability to shrug off mistakes by calmly and efficiently commandeering the 'Noles on a nine-play, 81-yard scoring drive, which was finished off with a peach of a run by backup tailback Dalvin Cook. 

It stands to reason that few teams can go toe-to-toe, tit-for-tat with the Seminoles. Something had to give way for the Wolfpack to complete the upset, and it turned out to be turnovers. FSU wideout Rashad Greene fumbled on a punt return that the Wolfpack's Malcolm Means pounced on, allowing the upset-minded hosts to take a 38-28 lead on another bruising Thornton touchdown run.

ESPN U couldn't help but dig up this gem to capture the excitement of Wolfpack fans:

The resiliency of Winston was astounding, and his teammates rewarded his brave play. He tossed touchdown passes—to Wilson and Greene, respectively—on either side of a costly Brissett fumble in the third quarter, putting the 'Noles in front 42-38 for their first lead of the afternoon. The full head of steam built up in that 24-point first quarter had slowly dissipated over the course of the contest.

ESPN ACC noted the silence overtaking the stadium:

Florida State took a 49-38 lead early in the fourth quarter on a Williams touchdown run, and the Wolfpack's hopes of a famous win looked to be in serious jeopardy after a 14-play drive ended with a lost Brissett fumble. 

The day was not yet won for Florida State, as Fernandez came up with his second interception of the day, which led to an NC State field goal and gave the team some life heading into the final minutes of play. Take a look at the play, courtesy of Pack Pride:

Williams snuffed out that hope on the Seminoles' ensuing possession, ripping off big chunks of yardage and capping the drive with a 12-yard scoring run to create the final score of 56-41.

Florida State doesn't have a signature, dominant win as of yet on the season, but as long as it avoids a mark in the loss column, it appears destined to head to the College Football Playoff. Winston's leadership and ability to put together long drives in the face of immense pressure make him one of college football's best players.

Winston himself remained supremely confident, via Aaron Beard of The Associated Press. "When's the last time the offense and defense actually clicked on the same note? I don't know. We've got so much potential. We've got so much to look for. I'm telling you, that's the most exciting part."

It's the Wolfpack's first loss of the season, but the fight they showed in this game makes them considerable threats in the ACC going forward. As long as they recover from this disappointing loss, the Wolfpack look like a team capable of finishing the season as one of the Top 25 teams in the nation.

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Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher Chews Out Jameis Winston After Interception

Considering Florida State's Jameis Winston is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher has high standards for his quarterback. When the star player makes a mistake, the coach isn't afraid to chew him out.

With an 11-point lead midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday's game against NC State, Winston threw an interception on 2nd-and-14 from his own 23-yard line. 

The interception set the Wolfpack up with great field position as they tried to get back in the game.

Once the quarterback returned to the sideline after throwing the interception, Fisher let Winston have it.

NC State managed to get a field goal on its ensuing possession to chip Florida State's lead down to eight, so Winston's mistake ended up costing the Seminoles.

[FanSided, gifdsports]

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Texas A&M's Kenny Hill Connects with Edward Pope for 86-Yard TD Against Arkansas

Texas A&M needed Kenny Hill to make a big play in the fourth quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Aggies quarterback stepped up for his team.

On a 2nd-and-9 from his own 13-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Hill threw a beautiful deep ball to receiver Edward Pope. With the defender on the ground after tripping up, Pope was able to run into the end zone without any trouble.

The 86-yard touchdown cut the Razorbacks' lead to 28-21.

[CBS Sports]

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UMass Video Board Collapses During Game vs. Bowling Green

Saturday's showdown between the Massachusetts Minutemen and the Bowling Green Falcons was interrupted when the video board collapsed during the third quarter.

You can hear the crowd react, although there's no video of the actual fall.

[The Big Lead]

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