NCAA Football

LSU vs. Florida: Game Grades, Analysis for Tigers and Gators

In a very well-contested SEC game, LSU was able to come away with a 30-27 win against Florida. The final box score can be found here via NCAA.com.

Both teams ran the ball well, both made huge pass plays late in the game and both teams made plays on defense. But at the end of the night, it was Florida that made the most mistakes, leading to the Tigers kicking a 50-yard field goal with three seconds left to steal one at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Here are some game grades for both the Tigers and the Gators.

 

Passing Offense

It was not a good night in the air for Anthony Jennings. However, he did throw a 41-yard pass to Travin Dural late in the fourth quarter, which set up a Dural 11-yard touchdown reception two plays later. In Jennings' defense, he was going up against an aggressive Florida front seven, and that gave the secondary free range to be aggressive with the LSU receivers. Jennings needs to be more consistent, but he did just enough to win the game.

 

Running Offense

As much as the passing offense struggled at times, that was not the case for the running game. Leonard Fournette ran hard, tallying 140 yards on 27 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Terrence Magee added 50 yards on six carries and Kenny Hilliard also had a rushing touchdown. No matter who was in at running back, the Tigers ran the ball well; all three brought something different to the table.

 

Passing Defense

Jeff Driskel does not throw the ball well downfield, and LSU knew that. Despite hitting on a few big throws, Driskel could not shake the secondary, which is why he threw two interceptions. One of the plays of the game came when Ricky Jefferson picked off Driskel late in the fourth quarter, which led to the Tigers' game-winning field goal.

 

Running Defense

Driskel was the leading rusher for the Gators, with 71 yards on 21 carries. The reason he was the leading rusher was the fact that the front seven for LSU took Matt Jones out of the game, and Kelvin Taylor was a non-factor. After giving up nearly 300 yards on the ground against Auburn, LSU tightened their gaps and played their responsibilities, which is why Florida averaged only 3.8 yards per carry.

 

Special Teams

LSU special teams did not play well, but they were the reason they won. The punt-coverage team could not contain Andre Debose, and Colby Delahoussaye missed an extra point in the third quarter. But as it was mentioned earlier, Delahoussaye kicked the game-winning field goal of 50 yards. So the special teams saved the day, but had they played better at the beginning of the game, Florida would not have scored 14 of its points.

 

Coaching

Les Miles did a good job getting his team ready for a tough SEC road contest after getting blown out at Auburn last week. Despite being down by 10 early in the game, his players continued to fight and got better as the game went on. Miles knows he has a young team, but he’s been patient with them, and it paid off tonight.

 

Passing Offense

Driskel made a few plays with his arm that led to points, but he was still inconsistent like he has been all season. He did throw two interceptions, and the second one he threw cost the Gators the game. Driskel is a gutsy quarterback, but in order for the Gators to win the SEC East, they will need to throw the ball downfield consistently, and Driskel doesn’t have it.

 

Running Offense

Driskel did a solid job running the ball, as he gained 71 yards on 21 carries. However, 59 of those yards came in the first half, and no other running back had more than 35 yards. The running game was hurting with the loss of Matt Jones, who left the game with a nagging injury. Mack Brown and Kelvin Taylor are quality backs, but they were a nonfactor against LSU.

 

Passing Defense

Jennings did find Dural in the fourth quarter, but he was inconsistent the majority of the game because the Florida defense pressured him all game long.  Credit goes to the Florida front seven, as they recorded four sacks and have tallied 10 sacks the last two games. Dante Fowler was a monster for Florida with four sacks and two quarterback pressures.

 

Running Defense

The run defense for Florida could have been better, though. The group could not stop Fournette as he was bowling over defenders. That led to Magee getting 50 yards, and Hilliard was able to get in the mix as he scored a touchdown. That is something the Gators will have to work on moving forward.

 

Special Teams

One of the reasons Florida was able to lead most of the game as well as come back to tie it was the play of the special teams. Andre Debose has a big night in the return game, as he totaled 115 punt return yards and one touchdown. Kyle Christy punted the ball well with two punts over 50 yards and one landing inside the 20-yard line. And Francisco Velez was able to hit on both of his field goals.

 

Coaching

Some may not agree, but Will Muschamp did a solid job preparing his team for this game. Had Driskel not thrown the pick at the end of the game, the Gators would have won and made some noise in the SEC East race. Even when LSU took the lead in the third quarter, the Gators kept fighting on offense, defense and special teams, and Muschamp was a big reason for that.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ole Miss vs. Texas A&M: Game Grades, Analysis for Rebels and Aggies

Bo Wallace ran for a pair of touchdowns during the first quarter, and the third-ranked Ole Miss Rebels defense flat-out demolished the No. 14 Texas A&M Aggies 35-20.

 

Ole Miss

The outcome was hardly ever in doubt, and the Rebels' grades certainly reflect their outstanding performance Saturday evening.

Pass Offense: Save for a single throw, Bo Wallace had a brilliant night under center. The senior quarterback finished the game 13-of-19 for 178 yards, connecting with Quincy Adeboyejo for a 33-yard touchdown. Laquon Treadwell added five receptions for 53 yards.

Run Offense: Though Ole Miss didn't rely on the ground game, Wallace and Jaylen Walton rushed for 50 and 49 yards, respectively. Most importantly, however, the Rebels' offensive line was absolutely stellar throughout the blowout.

Pass Defense: The box score shows a 79.2 percent completion clip for Kenny Hill, but the Landsharks forced checkdowns and dump-offs all night long. Cody Prewitt's pick-six gave Ole Miss a 21-point lead that completely silenced the record-setting Kyle Field crowd.

Run Defense: Admittedly, Texas A&M does not have a formidable rushing attack, so it's no surprise the Rebels locked the Aggies down. With that being said, Ole Miss still limited the A&M backs to 54 yards on 35 carries.

Special Teams: From the outset, the Rebels won all three phases—Walton opened the game with a 40-yard kick return. Will Gleason averaged 42.7 yards per punt, and Gary Wunderlich's extra point that ricocheted off the upright and in was the lone near-mistake.

Coaching: Hugh Freeze may have pieced together the best defense in the entire nation. Under his leadership, Ole Miss has become a national title threat. The Rebels coaching staff called a flawless game en route to a dominant conference victory.

 

Texas A&M 

Pass Offense: Kenny Hill picked apart the Ole Miss defense for 401 yards and two touchdowns, right? Wrong. The sophomore managed just 204 of his final tally while the Rebels built at 35-7 lead, spending the fourth quarter facing a prevent-heavy defense and racking up his yards that way.

Run Offense: "Nonexistent" seems like a suitable way to describe the Texas A&M ground game. Tra Carson, Brandon Williams, Trey Williams and Hill combined to manage a pitiful 1.5 yards per attempt.

Pass Defense: Myles Garrett is inching closer toward the SEC freshman sack record, and that's the only positive thing Texas A&M's pass defense has at this point.

Run Defense: The longest run the Aggies surrendered gained just 16 yards, but the Aggies struggled to contain zone reads and jet sweeps. Ultimately, Texas A&M's front seven wasn't shredded but couldn't stop Ole Miss, either.

Special Teams: Though a fake field goal failed terribly, Josh Lambo tacked on a pair of extra points. Drew Kaser blasted six punts and earned a 50.7-yard average, bolstering his #Kaser4Heisman campaign once again.

Coaching: What exactly was Kevin Sumlin thinking when he called that fake field goal down 21 points? Does Texas A&M even know what defense is? What has happened to the Aggies' explosive offense? Yeah, it was a bad night for the coaches.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss: How Rebels' Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

No. 3 Ole Miss (6-0 overall, 3-0 SEC) earned its keep as one of the top teams in the nation after handily defeating No. 14 Texas A&M 35-20 for a crucial SEC road win.

The Rebels' 15-point victory doesn't so much shake up the rankings as it does confirm one undeniable fact: The state of Mississippi is the dominant force in college football right now. 

Their defense is nearly impenetrable and scores about as often as it allows others to do the same, per SportsCenter:

The Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0) defeated No. 2 Auburn (5-1, 2-1) by a score of 38-23 and look like the cream of the Southeastern Conference crop with Dak Prescott at the helm.

Considering No. 1 Florida State went on cruise control against Syracuse, save for quarterback Jameis Winston, expect one of the Mississippi squads to top the polls next week.

Here is a look at the performances of AP Top-10 teams after Saturday and what those results mean for the inaugural College Football Playoff:

Kenny Hill is a fine college quarterback, but the last two weeks have proved that he is no world beater, and the SEC West belongs to either Ole Miss or Mississippi State.

CBS Sports' Gary Parrish thinks the national title conversation starts (and perhaps ends) with these two teams:

Alabama (5-1, 2-1) may have defeated Arkansas (3-3, 0-3), but its limp, mistake-riddled performance doesn't bode well for its future. The Crimson Tide fumbled twice on special teams and committed a number of boneheaded penalties.

Voters likely won't forget this desultory display, which likely drops them below Auburn in the eyes of many observers. However, a win is a win and a one-loss Alabama could move up should either Mississippi school slip up.

If there is a team from the SEC East to challenge either Ole Miss or Mississippi State, its the No. 13 Georgia Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1), who shut out No. 23 Missouri and put up 34 points of their own despite not having running back Todd Gurley in pads and on the gridiron. 

Elsewhere in the college football landscape, the Big 12 looks chock full of top-tier teams. No. 5 Baylor finally got a game against a ranked opponent and took its season to the brink, eventually pulling out a come-from-behind 61-58 victory against No. 9 TCU.

Quarterback Bryce Petty threw six touchdowns and two interceptions, but those picks were just his second and third of the young season, and he looks to be in command of the offense. The Bears may have issues on defense, but everyone knows this offense is capable of putting up huge numbers against just about anybody.

However, Sports Illustrated's Andrew Perloff isn't quite sure what to make of Baylor after the headline-grabbing win:

No. 11 Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) is still lurking after defeating Texas, and No. 16 Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-0) could vault up the rankings should it beat the Horned Frogs in Week 8.

The playoff picture isn't shaping up well for the Pac-12, with the dominance of the SEC, Big 12 and undefeated No. 6 Notre Dame still in the fold. Oregon still has an outside shot, but it will have to run the table and need No. 10 Arizona to lose a couple of games. 

No. 8 Michigan State is still in the hunt after handily dispatching Purdue, but the Spartans have a relatively weak upcoming schedule and needed the defense to bail them out against the Boilermakers. Of course, the opinions of others don't bother star defensive end Shilique Calhoun.

"If people want to look at the score and say that Michigan State's not a good team, that's fine by me," he said, via Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press. "We're still gonna play 'Spartan Dawg' football no matter what."

Michigan State will need to vastly outplay the likes of Ohio State, Indiana and Rutgers to garner enough attention and leapfrog teams from the more powerful conferences. Still, the defense led by Calhoun and linebacker Ed Davis is one of the best in the nation and can keep the Spartans in the playoff hunt.

Every college football fan should circle November 29 on their calendar; that's when Ole Miss takes on Mississippi State. Should both teams remain undefeated up to that point, the loser of that titanic clash could still very well make the College Football Playoff. The fact that these two teams don't play each other until the last week of the regular season will help prevent another team from rising up in the power vacuum that would be created by a loss for either Mississippi team.

Then again, this college football season has proved that the preseason rankings have little to no bearing on future performance, and it's high time the phrase "any given Saturday" entered the American sporting lexicon.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Fact or Fiction After Week 7

Now that Week 7 of the 2014 college football season is in the books, it's time to play a little Fact or Fiction.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee answer some burning questions that were raised in Week 7.

Will anyone stop Ole Miss and its "Landshark" defense?

Watch the video and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU's Leonard Fournette Realizes Potential, Gives Fans Look at Future in Win

BUGA Nation hit primetime television Saturday night. 

Finally, LSU running back Leonard Fournette lived up to the hype. Fournette rushed for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-27 victory over Florida. 

LSU head coach Les Miles made the best coaching decision of the season by scratching the running back by committee against the Gators. Fournette took 27 of the Tigers' 50 carries and never wavered.  

Miles pumped Fournette up in the preseason unlike any other player he had before. Florida was the first time he trusted the 5-star true freshman to be the focal point of the offense. 

About time. 

Fournette finally got the touches he deserved. His 27 carries were two more than what he got against Wisconsin, Mississippi State and Auburn combined. 

Sure, Fournette struggled to start the season. But the Tigers abandoned him too early against Auburn and Mississippi State. Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron gave the other running backs carries that should have gone to him. 

Fournette made defenders miss and powered through arm tackles. On his first touchdown run, he burst through a tackler at the goal line.

 

This is a freshman. This is a GROWN MAN! @LSUfball's Leonard Fournette rumbles for the 12-yd TD. #LSUvsUF » http://t.co/rptqGAQDBm

— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 12, 2014

 On his second, he skyrocketed over the pile from two yards out. 

121 and 2 TD's for Fournette with quarter to go. RT @FanSidedGIF: VINE - Fournette run for 2 yds for a TD #LSUhttps://t.co/5ZTDyXDcNX

— Patrick Schmidt (@PatrickASchmidt) October 12, 2014

Nearly every Fournette run featured a massive collision. Those hits began taking their toll on the Gators defense. All-SEC corner Vernon Hargreaves III was knocked out of the game while tackling him. Hargreaves' absence was felt when Tigers quarterback Anthony Jennings completed clutch passes late to Travin Dural. 

Jennings struggled through the air until late in the game. Nearly half of his completions went to fullback Melvin Jones. It is evident the LSU passing attack looks still has a long way to go. 

If Fournette and the LSU offensive line continue to play dominant football, the passing game will continue to improve. Miles can also play his preferred old-school, smash-mouth football, which is what has gotten him to 100 wins at LSU. 

The Tigers' most favorable matchup left will be 5-1 Kentucky next Saturday in Baton Rouge. After that, the Tigers will have Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M.

There are no easy victories left for LSU, but the best path is with Fournette leading the charge.  

 

Stats, rankings and additional information provided by cfbstats.com and LSU Sports Information. Recruiting information provided by 247Sports.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Updated College Football Playoff Projections After Week 7

This week was not nearly as crazy as last week, but more of the top teams showed their true colors with statement wins. Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Adam Kramer gives his updated version of the college football playoffs.

Which teams are in your top four for the College Football Playoff?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Watch Travin Dural Snatch the Ball for a 1-Handed TD Grab

Two-handed catches are nice, but one-handed catches are special—especially when they happen in the end zone. 

Florida Gators wide receiver Travin Dural only needed one hand to come down with a ridiculous touchdown grab vs. Florida.

Was this the best catch of Week 7?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ole Miss vs. Texas A&M: Score and Twitter Reaction

Maybe Bo Wallace's "Bad Bo" persona is a thing of the past.

The Ole Miss quarterback threw for 178 yards and a touchdown in addition to 50 yards and two touchdowns on the ground as the third-ranked Rebels dispatched of No. 14 Texas A&M, 35-20, Saturday night at Kyle Field in College Station.

After Ole Miss' 23-17 over then-No. 3 Alabama, Wallace took exception to those characterizing him as some sort of Jekyll and Hyde QB.

"That thing's the most annoying thing I've ever heard," he said, reports Brandon Speck of Fox Sports South.

Even after helping lead the Rebels to that historic upset over the Crimson Tide, Wallace had his fair share of doubters. ESPN's Bomani Jones pointed out that the senior signal-caller wasn't far removed from his somewhat lackluster performance in a 24-3 win over Memphis (22-37, 248 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs):

Wallace didn't need to torch the Aggie secondary for a Heisman Trophy-level performance. As long as he limited the turnovers and didn't lean too heavily on the Ole Miss defense, the Rebels would be in a position to win.

According to NCAA.com, Texas A&M averaged 395.2 passing yards (fifth) and 188 rushing yards (47th) a game entering Saturday.

The Ole Miss defense held the Aggies to 455 total yards, including 54 on the ground. Quarterback Kenny Hill was 42-of-53 for 401 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Rebels made a compelling argument as to why they have the best defense in the country on the back of Saturday's win. ESPN.com's Travis Haney went so far as to say that defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche might be worthy of an invite to New York City for the Heisman presentation:

Taking an early lead helped Wallace and the Rebels offense in a big way. On the third drive of the game, Ole Miss went 69 yards in 1:25 to grab a 7-0 advantage following a four-yard touchdown run from Wallace, who was 2-of-3 for 52 yards on the drive. Those two passes set up the TD, as highlighted by Sam Kahn Jr. of ESPNCFB:

The Rebels got the ball back on their own 1-yard line after Texas A&M punter Drew Kaser placed the ball right on the goal line.

Wallace needed 4:09 to go nearly the length of the field, capping the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the game. He completed all four of his passes for 52 yards on the drive.

Gabe Bock of TexAgs Radio felt that the A&M defense wasn't doing nearly enough to make things difficult for Wallace and the Ole Miss offense:

NFL.com's Bryan Fischer noted that the two scoring drives eliminated any possibility that the Rebels were still basking in the glory of their victory over Alabama:

Things got even better for Ole Miss on Texas A&M's next drive. Rebels defensive back Cody Prewitt intercepted a Hill pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown, giving the road team a 21-0 lead with 11:56 to go in the first half.

That was the third pick-six for the Ole Miss defense in 2014, per Ole Miss Football:

The INT also moved Prewitt into seventh place in the Rebels' record books, according to Ole Miss Football:

Texas A&M's offense continued to struggle in the second quarter. The Aggies got down to the Ole Miss 27-yard line but turned the ball over on downs after a botched fake-field-goal attempt. 

ESPN's Mike Greenberg was unlikely the only one questioning A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin's decision not to take the three points:

The Aggies dug into the Rebels' lead in the second half, with running back Trey Williams punching it in from three yards out to make it 21-7. A&M took advantage of a short field and breathed life into the Kyle Field crowd. The Aggies looked like they might mount a comeback.

Then Wallace and the Rebels offense ate a little over four minutes off the clock before regaining a 21-point lead, 28-7. Wallace threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to wideout Quincy Adeboyejo with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.

Ole Miss all but shut the door on an Aggies comeback attempt after Rebels linebacker Keith Lewis recovered a Hill fumble and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown, making it a 35-7 game with 14:48 to go in the fourth quarter.

Hill added two touchdown passes to help the Aggies save some face in the final frame.

With the win, Ole Miss made a strong case that it's the best team in the country. Of course, the Rebels will have a strong argument to the contrary coming out of their own state after Mississippi State's 38-23 win over Auburn. The two don't cross paths until Nov. 29.

Next week, the Rebels will hope to maintain their perfect record against Tennessee, which beat Chattanooga 45-10 on Saturday.

Texas A&M is winless against Top 25 teams at Kyle Field under Sumlin (0-5).

CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb remains perplexed at how the Aggies are unable to win big home games, despite having talented teams and a raucous atmosphere behind them:

Sumlin will try to pick up the pieces after back-to-back losses, but the Aggies' losing skid could easily swell to three with Alabama on tap next Saturday.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU Loss Seals Jeff Driskel's Fate, Can Treon Harris Save Will Muschamp's Job

Florida's game vs. LSU in "The Swamp" served as Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel's last stand, and he rolled snake eyes.

After being benched last week in favor of Treon Harris in the win over Tennessee, it looked like Driskel's days as the starting quarterback in Gainesville were done. Suddenly on Monday, news broke that Harris was being investigated for sexual assault, and Driskel was pushed back into the role this week vs. LSU.

Harris was cleared and reinstated late Friday afternoon, but at that point, a full week of practice was gone and it was Driskel's game.

Driskel didn't have a three-interception performance like the one he had against Tennessee, but it was going in that direction—due in part to drops from his receivers.

He completed 14-of-25 passes for 183 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the 30-27 loss, operating in a very conservative game plan from head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

He hit Demarcus Robinson for 73 yards to set up the game-tying field goal, but after the Gator defense forced a punt to give the ball back to the offense with 0:54 left, Driskel forced a pass over the middle that was picked off by Rickey Jefferson, setting up LSU's game-winning field goal.

Is it "Treon time?"

Muschamp wouldn't say, but the true freshman was in the press box with Roper during the game, according to Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel.

Was Saturday night's loss all on Driskel?

No, not at all. He played with emotion and, while he wasn't a game-changer, he displayed a spark that he hasn't shown in quite some time.

That's the ceiling, though. Harris is more explosive in the running game, and while he may be raw as a passer, he certainly gives Roper the opportunity to be a little more creative with the playbook.

Muschamp knows what's at stake. At 3-2 (2-2 SEC), his job status is dangling perilously on the edge of a cliff, and rocks are giving way with every Driskel interception. Two more losses, and it all might come crashing down.

There's a chance that Harris can save Muschamp and save the season.

The Gators have Missouri at home next week, and would Muschamp rather have Driskel in there against Missouri's pass rush or Harris? He has to know that Driskel will force things. Harris might not.

After that, the Gators will have two weeks to get Harris ready for Georgia, followed by the road trip to Vanderbilt, a home tilt vs. South Carolina, a supposed cakewalk over Eastern Kentucky and an intra-state rivalry game at Florida State.

Is Driskel a better option than Harris against those teams? At this point, it's hard to tell. The unknown, however, should be more comforting for Muschamp.

When Driskel is on, he'll keep Florida in games—even if they're against under-performing defenses like LSU's. "In it" won't cut it, Muschamp needs someone to go win it.

That guy isn't Driskel, but it might be Harris.

He's Muschamp's best option at this point.

 

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.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Scores 2014: Week 7 Results and Top Stars for Top 25 Teams

The Top-25 rankings didn't look quite as ridiculous during college football Saturday in Week 7 than they did in the previous week, with the vast majority of the numbered programs putting in solid performances and coming away with the all-important W.

Still, there were some notable results on the day.

No. 3 Mississippi State defeated No. 2 Auburn 38-23 behind excellent play from quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Josh Robinson. The Bulldogs are perhaps worthy of a top-overall ranking after Florida State put in a merely solid performance against Syracuse.

No. 12 Oregon are back on track in the Pac-12 after defeating No. 18 UCLA by a score of 42-30 in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score implies.

No. 5 Baylor shocked everyone with a stunning fourth-quarter comeback victory to defeat No. 9 TCU. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Bears had a 1.9 percent chance at one point in the final quarter:

No. 22 Georgia Tech looks set to for a quick exit from the Top 25 after losing to unranked Duke, while No. 13 Georgia manhandled No. 23 Missouri despite missing all-world running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley.

Here is a look at the results from the Top 25 teams in play on Saturday, followed by some of the top performers.

 

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor: 28-of-55, 510 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT

Bryce Petty carried his team to a stunning, come-from-behind victory over the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday and vaulted himself back into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Hopefully the next time he puts up numbers close to 500 yards and six touchdowns, the Bears win by more than three points.

Petty was quick to discuss his team's play with ESPN Central Texas Radio's Craig Smoak after the game:

It wasn't a perfect performance from the Baylor star. He threw a costly interception that turned into a pick-six for TCU early in the fourth quarter. The error made the score 58-37 in favor of the Horned Frogs, and the Bears' postseason hopes looked to be in serious jeopardy. 

Petty shook off his previous mistakes and got to work, tossing two touchdowns and leading his squad to 24 unanswered points and a miraculous victory. Petty was indeed erratic throughout the game, completing just over half of his passes, but six touchdowns and a famous win will ensure his name is on the tip of many college football fans' tongues on Monday morning when they assess the weekend that was.

 

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: 30-of-36, 317 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT

Jameis Winston does what he wants out on the gridiron. Syracuse had no answer for the Heisman-winning quarterback. He calmly and coolly carved up the Orange secondary. SportsCenter provided a look at Winston and his stat line from the afternoon:

Just when it looks like Winston isn't capable of putting up similar performances to his 2013 campaign, he comes out with a 300-yard performance and makes it look decidedly simple. ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that the Seminoles are still undefeated when Winston lines up under center:

Florida State didn't blow Syracuse out of the water, and they have yet to notch a signature win in the 2014 season, but with the rest of the college football elite falling off around them, it appears they will make good on their inside track at reaching the College Football Playoff.

 

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: 18-of-34, 246 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 21 carries, 121 yards, 2 Rush TD

Dak Prescott didn't have the best day throwing the football, but he did plenty of damage on the ground and out-dueled Auburn's Nick Marshall on the way to another historic statement win for the Bulldogs.

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out he did his best work throwing the ball on third down, when his team needed his big arm the most:

In a testament to the young man's focus and commitment, he was quick to point out that he didn't play his best against the Tigers.

"It really doesn't mean much," Prescott said, per Patrick McGee of SunHerald.com. "I didn't play a great game at all. People can talk and say I played a great game, but to me it's one of my worst this season. It really doesn't mean much. I want to continue to make this team better and keep winning."

Yes, he's had better games in 2014, but there might not be a better win up to this point. Auburn was last season's miracle team in the SEC. Now, it's the Bulldogs' chance to make a surprise run at a national title.

 

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon: 18 carries, 121 yards, 2 TD; Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA: 21 carries, 187 yards

Marcus Mariota had a fine game under center for the Ducks, but there needs to be some recognition for running backs in Week 7, and Royce Freeman put on a show against UCLA on Saturday. Freeman toted the pigskin 18 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He sliced and diced his way through the Bruins defense with relative ease on his way to becoming Oregon's first 100-yard rusher of the season.

The freshman from Imperial, California—probably in Oregon to escape the hot weather—could become a vital part of the Ducks' attack in the coming weeks, provided the offensive line holds up.

UCLA's Paul Perkins also turned in a fine performance in a losing effort, racking up over 200 all-purpose yards and serving as a constant offensive threat when there was little consistency to be found from the Bruins offense on the day. Defenses have had a tough time stopping him this season despite the fact that a porous offensive line has limited the impact of quarterback Brett Hundley.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Penn State vs. Michigan: Game Grades, Analysis for Nittany Lions and Wolverines

Michigan cracked the Big Ten win column Saturday night with an 18-13 victory over Penn State at The Big House in Ann Arbor. 

"It wasn't pretty," Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said during his postgame presser. 

No, it wasn't pretty. But it moves Team 135 to 3-4 heading into the bye week, which comes just in time, says Hoke, who's looking forward to resting his players and getting organized for Oct. 25's meeting with Michigan State in East Lansing. 

Penn State super soph quarterback Christian Hackenberg was handcuffed by a relentless pass rush and a secondary that was dialed in and looking to rebound from criticism. 

 

Passing Offense

UM: Devin Gardner completed 16 of 24 attempts for a season-high 192 yards. He threw one interception and managed the game well. 

Michigan gets a "B-" for passing offense, only because Gardner hit a season high. Other than that, it was average at best. 

PSU: Christian Hackenberg didn't have a lot of time to do anything. His O-line didn't help matters, and neither did Michigan's secondary, which capped the hot shot signal-caller at just 160 yards. 

Penn State gets a "D."

 

Rushing Offense

UM: Without Derrick Green, the Wolverines must find a way to produce from the backfield. That didn't happen Saturday, as De'Veon Smith, the new No. 1, had just two carries for 21 yards. The sophomore needs more carries on a regular basis. Until that happens, don't expect a lot from the backs. 

Including Gardner, the quarterback, Michigan rushed for 25 yards. That's a failure. One big old "F."

PSU: Bill Belton had 14 carries for 69 yards, leading an otherwise ineffective rushing attack. Penn State ended the night with 54 yards. The Nittany Lions get a "D-" in that department. 

 

Pass Defense

UM: See Penn State's pass offense grade, and you'll see why Michigan's defensive backs earned a "B+" for their work against Hackenberg. The Wolverines secondary started out with passion, evidenced by Ray Taylor's efforts in the first quarter, and ended on a high note. 

PSU: Other than allowing a 43-yard touchdown in the first half, the Nittany Lions did a respectable job of stopping Gardner. Penn State gets a "C-." 

 

Run Defense

UM: The proof is in the pudding, and that pudding must taste pretty good. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's guys entered the game surrendering fewer than three yards per carry. They held Penn State to just 1.5 yards per attempt, warranting an "A+"

PSU: There wasn't really a running game to defense, so Penn State gets a "B-" for showing up and not allowing huge gains. 

 

Special Teams

UM: Matt Wile's three field goals did the trick. Will Hagerup punted well enough to avoid relinquishing field position for Michigan. So let's say "A-"...you know, just to be nice. 

PSU: Sam Ficken knocked down both of his attempts. An "A" for Fickens sounds right. 

 

Coaching

UM: Hoke said it himself after the game, the players play, not him. But he should be rewarded for calling the shots during his first conference win of 2014. Hoke, Mattison and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier can split a grade of "S." 

Remember those? They mean satisfactory. 

PSU: It's James Franklin's first year in the Big Ten, and Saturday was his first trip to Ann Arbor. Let's call it an "I" for the sake of fairness. 

 

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

Unless otherwise noted, quotes or references to were obtained firsthand by the writer

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Auburn Can Get Back in the College Football Playoff Hunt

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Auburn Tigers have read this script before.

They knew what it felt like to fall behind 21-0 on the road against an extremely tough SEC West opponent.

They knew what it felt like to turn the ball on their first two drives of the game.

Hey, they even knew what it felt like to try and orchestrate a rousing comeback in the pouring rain.

But, just like in the loss last season to LSU in Baton Rouge, Gus Malzahn's team lost by two possessions Saturday night—a 38-23 defeat to Mississippi State in Starkville.

"Give Mississippi State credit, and congratulations to those guys," Malzahn said. "They are a very good football team. But we started in a hole. We turned the ball over the very first two plays we had, and we got in a hole, and their crowd got into it."

There is no denying the 15-point loss to No. 3 Mississippi State, who made a strong case to be the nation's best team after leading the whole way Saturday, was a significant blow to Auburn's chances in both the SEC West picture and the national-title picture.

However, a flip over to last year's script shows that the blow isn't fatal. 

Even with the slippery defeat at Tiger Stadium last season, Auburn finished the season with a conference championship and a spot on college football's biggest stage.

"We’ve got a strong team," junior receiver Sammie Coates said. "We’re always going to be together, lose or win. It doesn’t matter. We lost last year to LSU and ended up in the national championship. You never know what’s going to happen in this league." Cornerback Josh Holsey expressed confidence in Auburn's "comeback":

Coates is correct. Auburn won several big SEC games—two of them on now-legendary, game-winning plays—and received some help from other teams on its road to Atlanta and Pasadena last season.

This season, with an already crazy stretch of upsets against top teams, the lack of a dominant No. 1 team in a crowded SEC Western division and two new spots for national-title contenders in the playoff season, Auburn's dream of a championship is not dead yet.

"We are still one of the better teams, I think," Malzahn said. "I feel strongly about that."

But, in order to get back into the playoff hunt, several areas need to improve for an Auburn team that still has a murderous second half of the season.

In both of Auburn's road games in 2014, Malzahn's high-octane offense has slowed down to less than 450 total yards and 24 points.

"The game is about momentum," senior defensive tackle Angelo Blackson said. "It shifts everywhere, but, at the end of the day, we were just in too deep of a hole. We kept making mistakes, and when you do that against a great team like that, you usually can’t win those ones."

The Tigers may have let a huge opportunity against a "great team" pass them by in Starkville, but there is no need for despair. Wide receiver Ricardo Louis apologized for Auburn's performance and promised a "bounce back":

The scenario and the way to get into the national-title game might be different, but Auburn has been here before.

Mississippi State still has road trips to both Alabama and Ole Miss, which will also be a contender in the SEC West and the College Football Playoff. If the Bulldogs drop both of those games and the Tigers win out, they will be headed to Atlanta for a chance to repeat and get into the playoff.

But if Prescott and Mississippi State runs the table and finishes undefeated, a one-loss Auburn team could get into the playoff.

Only one loss to perhaps the best team in the country would most likely be a huge resume booster in a handful of contenders.

In both scenarios, though, the Tigers will have to overcome the major challenge of finishing their brutal regular-season schedule without another loss.

While Malzahn and several of his players said after the game they were not focused on playoff scenarios, they couldn't help but notice the similarities to the position they found themselves in last season.

"We have to learn from this," Malzahn said. "We had a setback similar to this last year. There are a lot of champions in that locker room. They are disappointed, and they should be."

Last year, Auburn rallied around its comeback efforts on the road against LSU, had an important off week and won the rest of its regular-season games.

And, in another interesting coincidence, the Tigers will head into a bye week after this season's loss to Mississippi State.

"It’s important because the same thing happened to us last year," Marshall said. "With the loss against LSU, we had the bye week next. We're just going to come out tomorrow and redeem ourselves. We’re going to improve upon the mistakes we made tonight and just get better."

With some improvement, big wins and a little luck, recent history could repeat itself.

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU vs. Florida: Score and Twitter Reaction

Colby Delahoussaye nailed a 50-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to give LSU the 30-27 win over Florida.

Freshman running back Leonard Fournette led the way for the Tigers, totaling 140 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns in the victory. Quarterback Anthony Jennings only completed 10 of his 21 passes for 110 yards, but he made plays when needed and helped his team win a tough road game in the SEC.

This was a big win for LSU because a loss would have put this team in historically bad territory for the program, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy:

McMurphy also quotes head coach Les Miles in his thoughts after the game:

Meanwhile, this was yet another impressive comeback on his long resume:

Florida was trying to win this game despite dealing with plenty of distractions throughout the week. Freshman quarterback Treon Harris was accused of sexual assault before the complaint was later withdrawn. While he was reinstated, Jeff Driskel was given the start after practicing with the first team all week. 

While the junior quarterback had only recently lost his starting job, offensive coordinator Kurt Roper believed in the ability to bounce back, via Jesse Simonton of the Miami Herald:

I have never seen him waver. ...He’s a guy that has the right look in his eye. He is confident. Obviously, it’s a challenge when you don’t have the success in a game or in a couple of games that you want to have. The first thing that you do is you start looking at yourself first, and he’s that kind of guy.

Driskel responded with a solid effort that included 183 passing yards, 71 rushing yards and two total touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also had two interceptions, including one on the final drive to give LSU a chance to win.

Both sides came into the game concerned about a lack of offense, so it should be no surprise it was a special teams play that broke the scoreless tie. Andre Debose returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, which helped him set a new school record, according to Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun:

Fournette evened the score with a 12-yard run into the end zone, but then the two sides continued to battle back and forth to a 17-14 Gators lead at halftime. Of course, not everyone was impressed with the effort, including CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli:

It certainly wasn't the passing attacks that led to the scoring, as Mark Long of the Associated Press pointed out:

LSU gained its first lead of the game late in the third quarter thanks to a strong effort from Fournette, including his second touchdown of the night. Of course, a missed extra point kept it at 20-17. 

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports noted how well the freshman was playing compared to the rest of the team:

Florida continued to struggle offensively, but Debose came through again with just over seven minutes left with a 53-yard punt return to the LSU 9-yard line. The Gators scored two plays later as CBS Sports described the situation:

Down 24-20, the Tigers needed a touchdown to take the lead and did just that with less than three minutes remaining. Anthony Jennings threw a fade to Travin Dural in the back of the end zone and the receiver made a one-handed grab despite being held by the defender. 

However, the Gators were not ready to give up. After going down the field on a long pass to Demarcus Robinson, they came close to scoring a go-ahead but Tevin Westbrook dropped a ball in the end zone. They settled for the field goal to tie the game at 27-27.

Florida then had the chance to win the game in regulation, but he threw a bad interception, as described by Bryan D. Fisher of NFL.com:

LSU only needed to move the ball three yards to give Delahoussaye a shot at the win and he came through.

This game certainly had less fanfare than we are used to when these two teams match up. College GameDay noted the difference in this year's competition:

Strangely, battles like Ole Miss versus Texas A&M and Auburn against Mississippi State took center stage in the SEC. 

Still, the latest win keeps LSU remaining in the conference title race, even if it is on the outside looking in. It might take nothing but wins the rest of the year, but the dream is still alive.

Things get a little easier for the Tigers next week with a home game against Kentucky. This is one of three straight games at Tiger Stadium with the squad also facing Ole Miss and Alabama in coming weeks.

Florida will have some key battles in the SEC East with matchups against Missouri and Georgia. Wins in these games could put the squad in the driver's seat for a spot in the conference title game.

Although neither team is likely happy with how it has performed to this point of the year, there is still a lot of talent on both rosters and it would not be surprising to see either go on a long winning streak as the season continues.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Latroy Pittman Injury: Updates on Florida WR's Status and Return

Florida wide receiver Latroy Pittman suffered an injury in the fourth quarter of the Gators' Week 7 matchup with the LSU Tigers.

According to SI College Football, the Gators medical staff called a stretcher over to cart Pittman off the field:

Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel had an update after the game:

Pittman's teammates huddled around him as he left the field, per Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun:

Tigers players also joined in, per Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times:

Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press reported that the junior wideout had movement in his arms, which is an encouraging sign for his status:

Pittman had one reception for minus-two yards in the 30-27 loss, which brings his 2014 totals to seven receptions for 35 yards.

With the defeat, Florida's record on the season falls to 3-2 (2-2 SEC). The Gators welcome in the No. 23 Missouri Tigers, who are coming off a 34-0 loss to No. 13 Georgia, next Saturday.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Heisman Watch 2014: Top 5 Rankings for Week 7

There were some outstanding individual performances in Week 7 of the college football season. Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota led his team to victory, while Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State Bulldogs impressed yet again.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee dishes out his top-five Heisman Trophy rankings for Week 7. 

Who is your Heisman front-runner?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU WR Travin Dural Brings in 1-Handed TD Catch vs. Florida

Despite recent struggles for both LSU and Florida, there isn't a shortage of talent on the field. 

LSU wide receiver Travin Dural showed off his considerable talent with this clutch one-handed touchdown catch that gave the Tigers a 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter. 

Here's another angle of the grab: 

Great concentration from Dural, even as he was being held. The Tigers went on to win 30-27. 

[Vine]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Winners and Losers from Week 7 of College Football

Nothing in Week 7 quite lived up to the insanity that was Week 6 in this college football season, but that doesn't mean there wasn't great football being played. 

From Mississippi State's statement win to Baylor's thrilling come-from-behind victory, there was a lot going on. The list of undefeated teams dwindled ever so slightly and top teams had statement wins.  

Which teams and players were winners in Week 7? Which ones weren't? The answers are in the following slides.

Begin Slideshow

Baylor QB Bryce Petty Takes Home CFB's Top Performer for Week 7

In one of the wildest shootouts in recent college football memory, the Baylor Bears took down the TCU Horned Frogs 61-58. Behind the charge for the Bears was standout QB Bryce Petty. The senior signal-caller put up video-game numbers, throwing for 510 yards with six touchdowns in Saturday's game.

That said, Petty takes home the Top Performer nod for Week 7.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee discusses Petty's big night. 

Was this the best individual performance of the season?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Bruins Still Pac-12 Contender Despite Loss to Oregon

PASADENA, Calif. — No. 18 UCLA saw its margin for error in the Pac -12 Championship race go from narrow to almost nonexistent following Saturday’s 42-30 loss to No...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Bryce Petty Has His Heisman Moment in Incredible Comeback Win over TCU

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty did not play the best game of his career in Saturday's 61-58 comeback win over TCU. But he did play the most important.

With 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, that did not appear like it would be the case. In fact, it appeared like the opposite would be the case. Petty telegraphed an interception to Marcus Mallet, who jogged into the end zone untouched to give TCU a 58-37 lead.

The obituaries were written with haste:

But Petty didn't allow his team to capsize, leading four frantic scoring drives (three of which went for touchdowns) in the final 11 minutes to steal the win and keep Baylor undefeated. He finished the game with 510 passing yards and six touchdowns against a defense that entered the week ranked No. 4 in the country in opponent QB rating.

In the process, he not only launched Baylor to the top of the Big 12 standings—a place where it controls its own fate with regard to the College Football Playoff—but also registered the most significant "Heisman Moment" of the first seven weeks of the season. No other Heisman contender has done what Petty just did…on the stage in which he did it…against the defense to which he did it…at any point in 2014.

And we might not see anyone do it hereafter.

The first of Baylor's three fourth-quarter touchdown drives did not require that Petty throw a pass.

Four handoffs and 59 seconds were all the Bears needed to drive 45 yards on a short field and get the game within two scores. Petty relied on running backs Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin, his offensive line and the threat of the deep ball he had established in the first three quarters to get the Baylor comeback rolling.

But the next two fourth-quarter touchdown drives required that Petty do the heavy lifting. Both went 90-plus yards in exactly five plays, and neither took more than 90 seconds. The first drive ended on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Antwan Goodley. The second drive ended on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Corey Coleman.

And the only thing more pretty than the former...

...was the latter.

Having just watched Petty march Baylor down the field for three touchdowns in fewer than six minutes, TCU head coach Gary Patterson decided not to punt on a 4th-and-3 at the Baylor 45-yard line with less than 90 seconds left to play. Instead, he dialed up one of several ill-timed fade routes to Josh Doctson, which fell incomplete.

Baylor got the ball back around midfield and still needed to drive 30-or-so yards to feel good about a last-second field goal. But the game felt like it was over the moment that fourth-down pass hit the dirt. TCU had no realistic chance of stopping Baylor—of stopping Petty—from ending the game in regulation.

Nine plays later, that is exactly what Baylor did:

"I told our guys we weren't gonna lose that game," said Petty when the comeback was over, per the team's official Twitter feed. "I just knew looking at guys' faces we were gonna come back in the game."

Leadership is a nebulous but important quality for a quarterback to possess. Some prefer to lead with their actions. Others prefer to lead with their words. Neither way is better or worse than the other.

But the best leaders are the ones who combine those styles, who lead both implicitly and explicitly. Petty told his teammates they were going to win that game, even when doing so seemed ludicrous, then went out and backed up what he said with how he played.

There are not a lot of players who can do that.

Then again, there are not a lot of Heisman-worthy players.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages