NCAA Football

Pregame Fireworks Leave Cloud of Smoke Before Florida State-Georgia Tech Game

The highly anticipated ACC championship game between Florida State and Georgia Tech started off with a bang.

Pregame fireworks resulted in a thick cloud of smoke that blinded players and fans.

The images are pretty incredible.

[Twitter]

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Mountain West Championship: Fresno State vs. Boise State Live Score, Highlights

Boise State 21, Fresno State 0—Early 3rd Quarter

The No. 22 Boise State Broncos are pummeling the Fresno State Bulldogs in the 2014 Mountain West Conference.

CBS is broadcasting the title clash. Bleacher Report is providing live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Eddie Goldman Injury: Updates on FSU Star's Foot and Return

Florida State University had a rough start the 2014 ACC Championship Game. Not only did the Seminoles dig themselves into a 7-0 hole, but they also lost Eddie Goldman in the process.

The FSU training staff carted the junior defensive tackle back to the locker room in the first quarter, per Ira Schoffel of Warchant.com:

Florida State provided an update at halftime:

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah highlighted how important Goldman is to the Seminoles defense:

Georgia Tech's bread and butter is running the football. Florida State will have a harder time stopping the Yellow Jackets offense without Goldman's massive presence on the defensive line.

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Blake Sims, Alabama Peaking at Perfect Time for National Championship Run

ATLANTA — Saturday afternoon in the Georgia Dome was as much a coronation as it was a competition for Alabama.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide topped No. 16 Missouri 42-13 to claim the 2014 SEC title and punch their ticket to the inaugural College Football Playoff. 

The Crimson Tide jumped on Missouri early with a 10-play, 68-yard drive to open the game, built a 21-3 halftime lead and then shut the door late to earn the 24th conference title in program history.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of our team and our players," head coach Nick Saban said. "I don't know if I've ever been so anxious to win a game for a group of guys who did a phenomenal job all year long of working to improve, overcome adversity and did a great job with their competitive character in some really tough circumstances."

It was Alabama's finest hour, as the defense held Missouri to just 313 yards and got consistent pressure with four, while the offense torched Missouri's defense with 504 yards of its own.

With a semifinal in its future, Saban's team is peaking at the right time.

The game served as a validation of sorts for head coach Nick Saban, who was heavily criticized in the offseason for the hiring of new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

"I think I got exactly what I expected," Saban said on Friday. "I don't think anybody else expected what I expected, to the point where I even got criticized for doing it by a lot of people."

Under the direction of Kiffin, quarterback Blake Sims sliced and diced the Missouri defense early, completing his first nine passes and finishing the afternoon 23-of-27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

Just how good has Kiffin been this year?

Sims now has 3,250 yards this season, eclipsing former quarterback AJ McCarron for the most single-season passing yards in program history. As Marquavius Burnett of The Anniston Star notes, it's just the latest single-season program record to fall this season:

The work Kiffin has done with Sims has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Nobody except Sims and possibly his family expected him to be the Crimson Tide starting quarterback on Sept. 6, much less Dec. 6. All Sims has done is evolve into the SEC's most efficient passer and earn MVP honors in the biggest game of the season—just down the road from his hometown of Gainesville, Georgia. 

"I don't know if I've ever seen a player go through as much as Blake went through for four years," Saban said. "Never once did he not do whatever he needed to do to help the team. He played on [the] scout team so many times when we played against zone-read quarterbacks—never complained about it.

"I've never seen a guy work so hard from last spring when he had the opportunity, through the summer and into fall camp, and get the confidence of his players and execute well."

In short, Sims earned moments like the one below, which I captured shortly after the clock struck zero inside the Georgia Dome.

It also is a great sign for Alabama moving forward.

There's no small game for the Alabama football program, but Kiffin and Saban put the ball in Sims' hands early, and he responded in a big way, completing his first nine passes to soften up the Missouri defense.

This is what Alabama football is now. If Kiffin wants to pass to set up the run, the Crimson Tide have the quarterback, receivers and system to do it. 

That flexibility will be invaluable moving forward. With Oregon likely in and TCU and Baylor competing for the two other spots in the playoff, there's a pretty good chance Alabama will have to open things up at times. 

After winning a shootout last week against Auburn and following it up by putting the biggest game of the season in the Sims' hands early, this team knows it can do it.

Alabama's offense has continued to progress all season long and is hitting its peak now.

That sound you hear is the sound of other defensive coordinators shaking.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Who Deserves the No. 1 Seed in the College Football Playoff?

Alabama and Oregon both won their respective conference titles in convincing fashion. As a result, the debate rages on about who should be the top team for the first-ever College Football Playoff.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses who he believes should be the No. 1 seed for the CFP.

Who is your No. 1 team?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma: Game Grades, Analysis for Cowboys and Sooners

The Oklahoma State University Cowboys (6-6, 4-5) defeated the University of Oklahoma Sooners (8-4, 5-4) in overtime on Saturday, 38-35, to win the Battle of Bedlam and become bowl-eligible.

Down 28-14 midway through the fourth quarter, freshman quarterback Mason Rudolph hit Brandon Sheperd for a 43-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 35-28. Then the Cowboys forced a three-and-out to get the ball back. From there, junior all-purpose back Tyreek Hill took the Oklahoma punt 92 yards for the touchdown to tie the game with about one minute remaining.

Ben Grogan won it in overtime with a 20-yard field goal for the Cowboys after Oklahoma just missed a field goal wide-left. 

Here is how both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma graded out after Saturday's game with a brief analysis on each positional unit.  

 

Oklahoma State Cowboys Game Grades Analysis:

Pass Offense: Rudolph was solid throughout the game. He took at least two sacks that he shouldn't have, but overall, he was poised in the pocket and made several strong throws.

Run Offense: The Cowboys did a good job running the football. They weren't overly explosive, but Desmond Roland's 22 yards in overtime clinched this win for Oklahoma State. 

Pass Defense: It's tough to grade OSU's secondary, as Oklahoma didn't really challenge them. Just about everything was underneath. No mistakes, though. 

Run Defense: Oklahoma's offensive line dominated this game for over three quarters. However, when the Cowboys needed a stop late in the fourth quarter, they stopped the Sooners and forced the game-tying punt return. 

Special Teams: Hill won this game with his punt return. Outside of that, it was a pretty quiet game for OSU on special teams. That is not always a bad thing. 

Coaching: Mike Gundy and his staff made several gutsy calls on both sides of the ball. And Gundy's faith in Rudolph appears well-placed at this point. 

 

Oklahoma Sooners Game Grades Analysis:

Pass Offense: Cody Thomas was efficient early, hitting his first six passes. However, he completed only four of his final 11 passes. He never threatened the Cowboys down the field.

Run Offense: Samaje Perine was dominant yet again. Unfortunately for the Sooners, he went down in the second half when they needed him the most. Overall, Oklahoma ran for over 300 yards. 

Pass Defense: Outside of the deep ball to Sheperd in the fourth quarter, OU's secondary played a good game. The Sooners pressured Rudolph, but they only forced him into one big mistake. 

Run Defense: The Sooners did a solid job of stuffing Oklahoma State's running game until the overtime period. Then OU could not stop Roland, who set up the game-winning field goal. 

Special Teams: There were two disastrous plays for the Sooners on special teams: Hill's punt return for a touchdown and Michael Hunnicutt's missed field goal in overtime. 

Coaching: Bob Stoops' decision to kick it to Hill may have cost his team the game. Had Stoops told his punter to kick it out of bounds or toward the sideline, Oklahoma State probably doesn't drive the entire length of the field with no timeouts and under one minute remaining. 

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Alabama vs. Missouri: Score and Twitter Reaction from SEC Championship 2014

For the third time since Nick Saban took over as head coach in 2007, the Alabama Crimson Tide are SEC champions. The top-ranked team in the country dominated on both sides of the ball to upend Missouri 42-13 and finish the regular season 12-1. 

In addition to securing its spot in the College Football Playoff, Alabama had two players make history in Atlanta. Quarterback Blake Sims, who wasn't the favorite to win the starting job out of camp, set a new school record for passing yards in the second quarter, per SEC on CBS:

Sims broke AJ McCarron's record of 3,063 yards, set last year. The senior finished the game with 262 passing yards, giving him 3,250 for the season, and he has a chance to break McCarron's single-season record for touchdown passes (30) in the playoff. Sims entered the SEC Championship with 24 and added two more Saturday. 

If that's not enough, Sims also set an SEC Championship Game record for completion percentage (85.2) by going 23-of-27, per Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News: 

All eyes were on Sims when the game started, especially since he threw three interceptions against Auburn in the Iron Bowl before turning a corner in the third quarter. 

Alabama head coach Nick Saban told Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com earlier in the week that he's seen Sims get rattled when the spotlight is on.

"Sometimes, it's a big game, and he starts putting a lot [of] pressure on himself, and he gets a little anxious," Saban said. "I don't think he really processes and makes as good of decisions when he gets like that...He's gotten in that mode a little bit sometimes, and it was good to see him snap out of it." 

Amari Cooper also had a day to remember, as he has so often in 2014. The Heisman contender broke the SEC single-season record for receptions, set last year by Jordan Matthews at Vanderbilt, per ESPN Stats & Info:

After Cooper broke the record, Matthews took to Twitter to congratulate his fellow wide receiver and challenge him to take on another achievement:

For the record, Matthews' career yardage total is 3,759. Cooper entered the game with 3,309 yards in three years and added 83 on Saturday, so there's a possibility he could break it, but he would likely need two more games to get there. 

No Alabama game would be complete without a dominant rushing effort. It was Derrick Henry—not T.J. Yeldon—who lit up the stat sheet with 141 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He also put the nail in Missouri's coffin with a 26-yard touchdown run that was summed up nicely by Hurt:

Quarterback Maty Mauk and Missouri looked disheveled from the start. It would only get worse, especially in the second quarter. Star defensive end Shane Ray, who led the SEC in sacks, was ejected for a targeting hit on Sims, via LostLetterman.com on Twitter:

Tony Barnhart of The SEC Network noted that it was the right call made by the officials:

While it doesn't change the loss in this game for Missouri, Barnhart also added that Ray will be eligible to play the entirety of the Tigers' bowl game since his ejection came in the first half:

On offense, Missouri was lifeless most of the game. Per Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com, the Tigers had only 108 yards in the first half and Alabama held the ball for nine more minutes:

The Tigers' first touchdown opportunity was at the start of the second half, when Mauk finally made a play with his arm and hit Jimmie Hunt for a 63-yard gain to Alabama's 1-yard line. Their best play all game was having Mauk throw the ball up to allow Hunt a chance to catch it, as this stat from the SEC Network shows: 

A senior receiver, Hunt came into the SEC Championship Game with one 100-yard game this season against Tennessee on November 22. He had more than 100 yards in the third quarter alone against 'Bama, adding another reception for 47 yards later in the quarter. 

The Tigers converted on fourth down after the Crimson Tide defense held the three previous plays to make it 21-10, though that would be their only touchdown drive of the game. 

Missouri added a field goal in the third quarter that cut the lead to 21-13, but Alabama put together a 64-yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown catch for Christion Jones on the first play of the fourth quarter. 

With the victory, Alabama can sit back to see who its opponent will be on January 1. Barring something unexpected, the Crimson Tide should end up as the No. 1 seed in the rankings, which means a date against the No. 4 seed at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. 

Not that the Crimson Tide need extra motivation, but the Superdome is where Oklahoma upset them last year. 

 

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


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Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma: Score and Twitter Reaction

In one of the most exciting Bedlam games ever, Oklahoma State shocked No. 20 Oklahoma 38-35 in overtime Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

The victory represented the Cowboys’ second Bedlam triumph over the Sooners in 12 seasons, and their first win over Oklahoma away from home since 2001.

As the Big 12 Conference's Twitter account pointed out, Oklahoma State's clutch victory means it is bowl eligible at 6-6:

Unfortunately, Oklahoma's loss was even tougher for the Sooners to swallow, as superstar freshman running back Samaje Perine was forced to leave the game in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury, per The Oklahoman:

Much of the talk entering the game focused on the freshman quarterbacks on either side. Cody Thomas registered his third consecutive start under center for the Sooners as Trevor Knight remained out with a neck injury, according to Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com.

As for the Cowboys, Mason Rudolph drew his second straight start after an impressive showing against Baylor two weeks earlier. ESPN.com's Brandon Chatmon is among those who believe Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy waited too long to play him over struggling junior Daxx Garman:

Despite the quarterback talk, it was all about the running game early on for the Sooners. After taking the opening kickoff, Oklahoma engineered a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead.

Per Kyle Fredrickson of The Oklahoman, the Sooners marched down the field by solely utilizing their running backs:

Chief among them was Perine, who scored the touchdown and put up some big numbers en route to it, according to Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman:

Oklahoma State's defense allowing the Sooners to score so quickly certainly didn't seem to impact the psyche of the Cowboys offense. In fact, OK State nearly matched Oklahoma's efficiency on its first drive of the game, as a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Desmond Roland capped a nine-play, 77-yard series.

The Cowboys' drive was predicated largely on the aerial game, though, as Rudolph racked up 57 passing yards.

Following a pair of unsuccessful drives, Oklahoma once again started to move the ball late in the first quarter. This time, it was Thomas who did the bulk of the damage. 

The freshman signal-caller threw for 74 yards on the drive, including a 47-yard completion to senior tight end Blake Bell. Senior fullback Aaron Ripkowski scored a one-yard touchdown plunge on the 13th play of the drive to put the Sooners back on top 14-7.

That advantage was short-lived, however, as Oklahoma's defensive deficiencies returned on the ensuing series. It took the Cowboys less than three minutes to equalize with Rudolph finding junior wide receiver Brandon Sheperd for a 39-yard scoring strike.

As pointed out by John Klein of the Tulsa World, Rudolph's masterful command of the OK State offense was a sudden revelation after it struggled without him for most of the season:

Unfortunately for Rudolph and the offense, Oklahoma State's defense and special teams didn't hold up their end of the bargain for the remainder of the opening half.

After the Cowboys' touchdown tied the game at 14-14, a short kickoff allowed Oklahoma to start at its own 45. Perine was once again the focus on this drive, as he totaled 20 yards on the ground and drew a 15-yard face mask penalty before scoring from nine yards out.

An Oklahoma State three-and-out quickly put the ball back in Oklahoma's possession, and it made no mistake. A 42-yard run by Perine got the Sooners deep in Cowboys territory, which allowed Ripkowski to get in the end zone for the second time on a two-yard reception.

Oklahoma entered the locker room with a 28-14 lead due largely to Perine's 126-yard effort. According to Bob Barry Jr. of KFOR, Perine made Sooners history with the most prolific three-game stretch ever by an Oklahoma running back:

Perine was well on his way to another huge statistical day after running for 213 and an NCAA-record 427 yards in his previous two outings. Per The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey, it took the Sooners some time, but they finally put together a winning formula offensively:

In some ways, the Cowboys may have been their own worst enemy in the first half from a defensive standpoint. While it can be argued that Thomas' efficiency prevented them from selling out to stop the run, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer made it clear prior to the game that his defense wouldn't be single-minded, according to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman.

People don't realize that. They think, just load the box and you can stop the run. That's a fallacy. The quarterback can pull it and run it, numbers are back even, unless you want to leave one uncovered on the edge, and you don't' do that, right? Come sit in the film room and watch it with me for about an hour, and I can show you how difficult it is when people can get blocked and a running back who can make people miss and quarterback who can run it.

That failure to stop the run ultimately didn't work in Oklahoma State's favor in the first half, and it certainly put it at a disadvantage entering the third quarter.

While both teams were able to move the ball at various points throughout the third quarter, neither could manage to get on the scoreboard. The Sooners appeared to be heading toward at least a field goal with a 14-play drive early in the second half, but Perine fumbled on the Oklahoma State 29.

Per Aber, a pair of firsts occurred on that particular play:

More importantly, though, Perine was injured in the midst of fumbling. It looked serious as he favored his ankle, but he managed to go to the locker room under his own power, according to John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World:

It remains to be seen how significant the ailment is, but Perine did not return to the contest. He racked up 151 rushing yards before his injury.

The Sooners led by 14 when Perine left the game, but it was blatantly obvious that the Oklahoma offense wasn't the same without him. In fact, the Sooners had a pair of three-and-outs in its first two possessions following the injury.

With OU's offense scuffling, it opened the door for OK State to make a run. That is precisely what it did on its first drive of the final frame, as it orchestrated a seven-play, 79-yard foray down the field, culminating in Roland's second touchdown run of the game to make it 28-21.

That score seemed to swing the momentum in the Cowboys' favor, which meant the pressure was on Oklahoma to stop the bleeding, per Hoover:

To say that the Sooners responded would be a major understatement. A 56-yard run by Perine's replacement, sophomore Keith Ford, put Oklahoma deep in Cowboys territory. Shortly after that, Ripkowski found paydirt for the third time, which restored the Sooners' 14-point cushion at 35-21.

Just when it seemed like the game was well in hand, a quick-strike drive from Oklahoma State tightened things up again. A poor Sooners punt allowed the Cowboys to start from their own 43, and Oklahoma State was in the end zone two players later when Rudolph hit Sheperd for 43 yards.

According to Cliff Brunt of the Associated Press, that play contributed to a career-best day for Sheperd:

Oklahoma got the ball back with a chance to salt the game away, but it could only muster a three-and-out, which took just 55 seconds off the clock. That meant the Cowboys would have an opportunity to tie it starting from their own 27 with a tad less than four minutes remaining.

The Sooners got a big play when they needed it, though, as sophomore cornerback Zack Sanchez picked off Rudolph with roughly three minutes left.

Per Josh McCuistion of Rivals.com, it was an example of Sanchez's gambling paying off:

Most people probably assumed the game was over, but Oklahoma couldn't get a first down and had to punt again to the Cowboys. That proved costly, as junior wide receiver Tyreek Hill amazingly took Jed Barnett's punt 92 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 35-35 with only 45 seconds remaining in regulation.

That play sent the game into overtime. The Sooners got the ball first and lost two yards, so they had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt by kicker Michael Hunnicutt. He was unable to covert, which meant Oklahoma State needed just three points to complete the comeback.

The Cowboys didn't let that opportunity slip through their fingers, as sophomore kicker Ben Grogan converted a 21-yard field goal to cap the improbable victory.

Winning a rivalry game is always a big deal, but Saturday's win was especially meaningful for Oklahoma State since it gives the Cowboys a 6-6 record, making them bowl eligible.

As for Oklahoma, the loss certainly hurts, but concern over Perine’s health may take precedence. More will probably be known about his status in the coming days, but there is certainly no guarantee that he'll be ready to go for Oklahoma's bowl game.

This defeat may very well knock the Sooners out of the Top 25, though, and it will most likely negatively impact their attractiveness in terms of a bowl bid.

The Cowboys aren’t necessarily guaranteed a spot in a bowl since there are so many bowl-eligible teams, but their win Saturday was so impressive that they should be able to extend their bowl streak to nine years. 

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill Returns Punt 92 Yards to Tie Game with Oklahoma

Oklahoma seemed to have the Battle of Bedlam wrapped up.

Up 35-28 with under a minute to play, the Sooners just needed to play sound punt coverage.

After Oklahoma State was penalized for running into the kicker, the Cowboys were, fortunately, given another chance at a return.

It may have turned out to be the best running-into-the-kicker call in school history.

Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill took the very next punt to the house for a 92-yard score, tying the game at 35 apiece.

The Cowboys ended up winning the game 38-35 in overtime.


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Big Ten Championship Game 2014: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State Live Score, Highlights

Ohio State 7, Wisconsin 0 — Early 1st quarter

The Big Ten Championship is now underway between No. 13 Wisconsin (10-2) and No. 5 Ohio State (11-1). FOX is televising the matchup nationally from Lucas Oil Stadium.

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

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Kansas State vs. Baylor: Live Score and Highlights

Baylor 7, Kansas State 0, Middle of 1st Quarter

The No. 6 Baylor Bears (10-1) are battling the No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats (9-2) at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas for a share of the Big 12 title tonight. 

The Bears' only loss of the season came on the road at the hands of the West Virginia Mountaineers on Oct. 18, and a win tonight could put them back into the running for a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats are looking to finish the season with their win column hitting double digits for the 10th time in head coach Bill Snyder's tenure.

Baylor has the top-ranked offense in the country and averages nearly 50 points per game, while Kansas State's defense is holding opponents to 20.3 points per game.

Will the Bears move the ball with the same ease they've had all season, or will the Wildcats dictate the tempo and slow down Baylor's lethal passing attack led by quarterback Bryce Petty

Stay right here for lives updates and analysis as the game progresses. 

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Samaje Perine Injury: Updates on Oklahoma RB's Ankle and Return

Giving up a game-tying touchdown in the final minute of an eventual overtime loss to Oklahoma State was bad enough for Oklahoma. Losing Samaje Perine in the process only compounds the Sooners' frustration.

Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World provided an update from head coach Bob Stoops after the game:

The freshman running back exited the game in the third quarter after fumbling. Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman reported that Perine would be out for the rest of the game:

The good news was that he walked to the locker room under his own power. Carson Cunningham of KOCO 5 in Oklahoma City videoed Perine as he left the field:

Even though his evening ended prematurely, he ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.

The Sooners are headed to a bowl game at some point in the coming weeks, so the health of Perine will be an ongoing storyline for Oklahoma.

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Cardale Jones' Athleticism Will Propel Ohio State to Slim Win over Wisconsin

Do not envy Cardale Jones. Sure, staring at quarterback for Ohio State University in the Big Ten Championship Game against the University of Wisconsin Badgers might seem like a dream gig, but the pressure he faces is difficult to imagine.

Jones has been thrust into the starting role after starter J.T. Barrett was lost for the season with a broken ankle in the Buckeyes' 42-28 win over rival Michigan in Week 14. With only 19 career pass attempts to his name, all eyes will be on Jones as he attempts to win the championship and earn No. 5 Ohio State a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

That being said, don't pity Jones either. He's an uber-athletic, dual-threat signal-caller who has flashed potential in limited opportunities as a Buckeye.

No. 13 Wisconsin is too good of a team to let a Buckeyes offense led by a third-string quarterback run rampant, but Jones should be able to make good enough use of the myriad of physical gifts he has to propel Ohio State to a win in the Big Ten championship and a shot at making the College Football Playoff.

Ted Ginn Sr. coached Jones at Glenville High School and notes the sophomore pivot has plenty of experience running Ohio State's offense. With a week to prepare as the starter, Jones should be comfortable in his role.

"He's been there. He's been running the scout teams. He's been second in line, and I'm quite sure he knows how to run the offense. He's not totally green. One thing I know, he's not scared. And he's going to be prepared. He's an intelligent guy. I don't know what will happen, but I know he'll be prepared," Ginn said, via Fox Sports Ohio's Zac Jackson.

ESPN 850's Bruce Hooley trusts the system to help Jones produce on Saturday:

Ohio State's up-tempo attack should serve Jones well. If he can sustain drives and push the pace, wearing out the Wisconsin defense should allow him to use his big frame and powerful legs to pick up crucial yardage on the ground. 

"The first thing that strikes you is his size," said Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, via Genaro C. Armas of The Associated Press (h/t Minneapolis Star Tribune). "One of their top plays is the quarterback sweep, and he's awfully good at it. ... He lowers his shoulder, runs over guys [and] runs around guys."

At 6'5" and 250 pounds, Jones is indeed tough to bring down with just one defender. He's carried the ball 26 times this season for 206 yards, which comes out to a robust 7.9 yards per carry.

However, few would be surprised if the Buckeyes got off to a slow start against the Badgers.

Wisconsin is ranked second in the nation in total defense, allowing just 260.3 yards per game. The Badgers are especially robust against the pass, allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw just 10 touchdown passes and post a 104.85 passer efficiency rating, per NCAA.com.

It's a tough task, but it's not like Jones is going it alone. Head coach Urban Meyer notes Jones' teammates will be instrumental to his success as well.

"I've said it at least a couple hundred times since the beginning of the week that the quarterback is a product of those around him," said Meyer, via Jackson.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott is a fine player to have in the backfield alongside Jones. Elliott has rushed for 1,182 yards this season, and their combined threat could stretch the Badgers defense on read options. He has solid options in wide receivers Devin Smith and Michael Thomas, as well as a sturdy offensive line.

With all this talent, it's little wonder Barrett was able to step into a starting role for an injured Braxton Miller this season and run an offense that put up 44.1 points per game.

Jones' is also gifted with excellent arm strength. Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman gave an off-the-charts rating for his throwing power, via Scout.com's Ryan Ginn:

Unfortunately, he hasn't had many opportunities to show it off this year. Jones has completed 10 of 17 pass attempts for 118 yards and two touchdowns in 2014, mostly in garbage time. The most passes he's thrown in a single game is nine, which came during a 55-14 Ohio State win over Illinois. 

The lack of game reps is disconcerting, but it could work in Jones' favor. Wisconsin may be unprepared for his elite arm strength, and Jones could test the Badgers downfield with a few big throws and engineer some quick scoring drives. If the Badgers do come to respect his abilities, then it could open up more underneath routes—not to mention the rushing attack.

Jones will have some success against Wisconsin, and Ohio State's own defense will shut down Badgers quarterback Joel Stave, limit Melvin Gordon and ensure the Buckeyes come out on top. However, the lack of experience will hurt the Buckyes early, and the win won't be pretty.

If Ohio State loses, it will have no chance of making the College Football Playoff. A slim win might get the Buckeyes in, but they will have to hope for a Florida State loss in the ACC championship or a lame-duck performance from No. 3 TCU against Iowa State. Should Jones and company beat down the Badgers rather easily, they could slip past the Horned Frogs, but the Seminoles' No. 4 ranking serves as a buffer zone of sorts in that scenario.

All in all, it will be a memorable season for the Buckeyes if they capture the Big Ten championship despite losing Miller for the season back in August. Few programs in the country would be able to survive such adversity, but Meyer has proved his worth as a coach and built a thriving program that should be well set up for future success.



All rankings via CollegeFootballPlayoff.com.

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FCS Playoffs 2014: Round 2 Results, Quarterfinals Schedule and Bracket Update

Even though the eyes of most college football fans are on conference championship games, the Football Championship Subdivision is busy settling its champion the old fashioned way: tournament style. 

The second round of the 2014 FCS playoffs took place on Saturday with eight games around the country, including top-ranked New Hampshire. Even though the Wildcats are the No. 1 seed, all eyes are focused on North Dakota State. 

The Bison, who have grown in popularity thanks to ESPN's College GameDay taking its show to Fargo, have won three consecutive titles and are looking to break a tie with Appalachian State as the only schools to win four straight FCS championships.  

Here's a look back at the action from the second round of the FCS playoffs and a look at the bracket heading into the quarterfinal round next week. 

 

Round 2 Recap

The best game of the day took place in Fargo, as North Dakota State got a late touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to RJ Urzendowski to secure a 27-24 victory against the rivals from South Dakota State. The thrilling nature of the game isn't a surprise, as these two schools have built a tremendous rivalry. 

The Bison had their backs up against the wall on that final touchdown drive. Their defense a go-ahead touchdown pass with just over three minutes to play. Wentz is in his first year as the starting quarterback for North Dakota State, so you never know what can happen in this situation. 

With less than one minute to play and the length of the field to go, South Dakota State's drive never really got started. The Jackrabbits had a false start penalty that made it 1st and 15. On the next play, Austin Sumner threw an interception to Tre Dempsey, via Mike McFeely of 790 KFGO Radio:

The runner-up for game of the day came in Pennsylvania, as Villanova needed 15 points in the fourth quarter to avoid an upset on its home field against Liberty.

The Wildcats aren't a huge passing team, nor did John Robertson have a great game with eight completions on 19 attempts, but he made a big play in the fourth quarter with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Gulyas and converted a two-point conversion to tie the game. 

Robertson used his legs for the go-ahead score with just over one minute to play. Along the way, the junior quarterback became Villanova's all-time leader in yards, via the team's official Twitter:

The biggest takeaway from the early games is how easily chalk held. It's not surprising to see New Hampshire, Chattanooga and Illinois State winning, but Fordham, Indiana State and Northern Iowa looked beaten as soon as the opening kickoff in their respective games. 

New Hampshire got a season-best 110 rushing yards and four touchdowns from Nico Steriti in a 44-19 victory over Fordham. The senior running back came into the game with 396 yards on 101 carries, though he has been used in plenty of scoring situations, as evidenced by his 12 touchdowns. 

It's no surprise that the Wildcats used the ground to secure this victory, as they average 177.7 yards per game on the ground and have picked up 35 of their 60 touchdowns this season via the run. 

Despite the final score, New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell had praise for Fordham before the game, telling Tim O'Sullivan of The Concord Monitor that the undefeated Rams were among the best he's seen:

“This is the most skilled team I’ve seen out of the Patriot League in my 16 years of coaching,” McDonnell said.

“(And) they’re not just an offensive football team, their defense can play.”

While the respect may have been there, the gap in talent was evident. Speaking of talent, No. 5 Illinois State was all over Northern Iowa, 41-21, behind 382 passing yards and four touchdowns from quarterback Tre Roberson. 

Mike Hlas of The Cedar Rapids Gazette rubbed salt in the wound for fans of Indiana football, noting that Roberson used to play for the Hoosiers:

While he didn't get a lot of playing time with Indiana, Roberson was effective for the Hoosiers in 2013 with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions on 138 attempts. The Hoosiers could have used that production with an offense that ranked 121st in passing. 

The win provided the Redbirds revenge for their only loss in the regular season, a 42-28 defeat at Northern Iowa on November 1. 

The first upset of the day came courtesy of Sam Houston State, which went to Florida and knocked off No. 3 Jacksonville State, 37-26. It was an unusual game, as the two teams combined for 50 points in the first half. 

After the coaches were able to make adjustments at halftime, things calmed down, but not before Sam Houston State put up 13 points in the third quarter.

Jacksonville State didn't score in the second half, and the 26 points it put up ties its second-lowest total of the year against FCS competition. Michigan State held the Gamecocks to seven points in the season opener. 

The Bearkats used a dominant rushing attack in their victory, carrying the ball 53 times for 241 yards. Four players had at least 10 carries, though none of them broke 100 yards.

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Lane Kiffin Calls Touchdown to DeAndrew White Right After Snap vs. Missouri

He did it again.

Last week, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffincalled an Amari Cooper touchdown before it happened.

It worked out so well before, he thought he'd do it again.

In Saturday's SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Missouri, Kiffin raised his arms as soon as he knew DeAndrew White was going to get open for the score.



That 58-yard bomb put Alabama up 14-0 in the title game.

[Vine, Twitter]

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Missouri Defensive End Shane Ray Ejected for Targeting vs. Alabama

Missouri defensive end Shane Ray was ejected for targeting during the 2014 SEC Championship Game vs. No. 1 Alabama.

Early in the second quarter, with the Crimson Tide clinging to a 7-0 lead, quarterback Blake Sims completed a 58-yard touchdown bomb to DeAndrew White. Right after Sims fired the scoring toss, Ray launched at him while leading with his helmet, earning the ejection.

The pass from Sims was quite significant from a historical standpoint:

With that pass, Blake Sims passes AJ McCarron for the most yards by an Alabama QB in a season. McCarrron had 3,063 in 2013. #SECChampionship

— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) December 6, 2014

Ray is one of the top playmakers on the Tigers defense, so this is a huge loss. What do you think—was the right call made?

[Vine]

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4-Star QB Sheriron Jones Decommits from Florida, Names Tennessee Front-Runner

Four-star quarterback Sheriron Jones has decommitted from the University of Florida in the wake of Will Muschamp's firing.

"With the coaching change, I don't feel it will be the same at Florida," Jones said, per Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required). "With a coach that hasn't recruited me at all, I don't think things would be the same."

According to Gator Country's Andrew Spivey, Jones said he "isn't sure if he will consider Florida or not."

Jones, ranked the nation's No. 8 dual-threat quarterback, told Bartow that Tennessee currently leads for his services.

"They are the front-runner right now," Jones said of the Volunteers.

Bartow notes UT coach Mike Bajakian visited the quarterback this week and that Jones plans to officially visit but has not scheduled the date.

Tennessee is currently led by sophomore Josh Dobbs, who gained a hold on the starting position following a superb performance against top-ranked Alabama.

Behind Dobbs, however, the Vols are relatively thin at quarterback, so Jones could enter a favorable situation in Knoxville. Justin Worley is a senior, and Nathan Peterman has failed to impress during scattered appearances over the last two seasons.

Ole Miss recently offered Jones, who also said Nebraska has ramped up its recruiting efforts, per Mike Schaefer of Huskers Illustrated (subscription required). However, the impact of Bo Pelini's dismissal is unclear at this time.

After attending the Elite 11 camp in Oregon this summer, the Rancho Verde High School (California) product guided his team to a 10-3 season record. Jones has accepted an invitation to participate in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Florida now holds just eight verbal commitments for the 2015 class. The school officially announced Jim McElwain as their new head coach Thursday afternoon, so its recruiting efforts should increase shortly.

Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue lists 3-stars Chason Virgil and Lamar Jackson as potential Gators targets. Luke Stampini of 247Sports writes Drew Hughes, UF's director of player personnel, told Jackson, "While he's still there, Florida still wants me."

McElwain may ultimately elect to stand firm at quarterback with Treon Harris, Jeff Driskel and highly touted 2014 prospect Will Grier returning next season. However, Driskel's eligibility will expire in 2015, so look for McElwain and Florida to add one player under center in the upcoming class.

 

Recruit rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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

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Ball Boy at Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois Game Shows off Great Hands

Red Lightning set the standard for ball boys, but soon he will join the ranks of past college football legends. As with all legacies, there must be a changing of the guard.

When Bowling Green and Northern Illinois faced off Friday night, a mysterious new ball boy prodigy caught a glimpse of screen time and made the most of it.

He's clearly been watching Odell Beckham Jr. highlights lately.

[YouTube, h/t Reader Ethan Brown]

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Will TCU Make College Football Playoff?

The closing statement has been heard in Fort Worth. Now, after clinching a share of the Big 12 crown with a 55-3 victory over Iowa State, the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs await the final verdict.

Given how the College Football Playoff committee has operated each week, Gary Patterson's team should start preparing itself for good news.

Earlier this week, the 12-person board elected to have the Horned Frogs leap over an undefeated Florida State squad in the rankings—an unforeseen move that also showed how TCU has become the committee's darling.

Playoff chairman Jeff Long cited FSU's struggles with lesser opponents. After all, the 'Noles needed second-half rallies during their last three contests to outlast teams with a combined 19-16 record.

Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News & Observer objected, supplying a voice of reason amid the surprising shift.

With that being said, while the 34-30 win over Kansas raised a few questioning eyebrows, it was really the only time TCU had a lapse against an inferior foe. The Horned Frogs hammered Oklahoma State by 33, Texas Tech by 55 and Texas by 38.

Plus, Patterson and Co. earned a trio of victories over the Big 12's top teams, defeating No. 4 Oklahoma 37-33, No. 20 West Virginia 31-30 in Morgantown and No. 7 Kansas State 41-20. TCU's success in those conference battles impressed the committee more than a three-point loss to Baylor hurt the Frogs.

And then, Iowa State happened. The No. 3 team's closing statement wasn't particularly convincing early on.

The Horned Frogs, favored by five touchdowns per OddsShark, stumbled into a 17-3 halftime lead, with seven points resulting from a perfectly executed double pass.

In Florida State's defense, each first-half struggle was opposite a program that has qualified for bowl season. None of Miami, Boston College and Florida is especially dangerous, but each is not terrible, either.

TCU, on the other hand, hobbled by Kansas—the second-weakest Big 12 foe—and Iowa State through 30 minutes. The lackluster performance in the latter game nearly sparked a debate: Are the Frogs simply a big-game team that encounters difficulty bringing the same intensity level to matchups they're expected to dominate?

The second half against the Cyclones, however, answered that question. Scratch that, a 31-point third quarter reminded the nation what TCU was capable of doing.

With more than 12 minutes remaining in the final frame, the Horned Frogs held a dominating 55-3 lead and provided little reason to be downgraded in the polls.

How exactly can the committee drop TCU behind FSU—and ultimately playoff—following such an impressive day? They propelled the Frogs over an undefeated Florida State team prior to the final outing, so it's borderline unreasonable to think Baylor can jump both TCU and the 'Noles.

Additionally, the question of whether Baylor deserves the spot continues to linger, though that answer may appear completely obvious following the Bears' matchup with Kansas State. Nevertheless, Baylor's head-to-head win seems to carry little relevance at this point.

Ultimately, the Frogs must let that chip fall where it may. In coach speak, TCU controlled what it could control, which was its on-field performance during the regular-season finale.

It's clear that right now, the Horned Frogs are playing better football than Baylor, and the four-team playoff is intended to showcase the best football.

TCU has seemingly proven itself worthy of a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff, considering the committee's recent track record. The Frogs just need to hear the final verdict, and it will likely be a positive one for the co-Big 12 champions.

 

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

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SEC Championship Game 2014: Alabama vs. Missouri Live Score and Highlights

Alabama 7, Missouri 0—Early 2nd Quarter

Alabama is one win away from punching its ticket to the inaugural College Football Playoff.  Even with a loss to Missouri, it's still possible the Tide could make the four-team field, but it would be a significant risk considering the plethora of potential one-loss conference champions waiting just outside of the current Top Four.

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