NCAA Football

Missing on Top OL Target Drew Richmond Major Blow for Tennessee Recruiting

Recruiting misses have been rare for Tennessee coach Butch Jones during his first two years on the recruiting trail, as he has turned the Volunteers into one of the hottest names among prospects.

But Tuesday's news that Memphis University School 4-star offensive tackle and top UT target Drew Richmond chose Ole Miss certainly qualifies as a big whiff.

Richmond picking the Rebels is a considerable loss for the Vols in what is shaping up to be another otherwise exceptional recruiting class.

Any time the state's top-ranked player in the 247Sports Composite elects to attend another school, it stings. Since he plays a position that is Tennessee's greatest need in recruiting, it only magnifies the miss.

The Vols are struggling at offensive tackle early this season, already losing fifth-year redshirt senior Jacob Gilliam to a season-ending injury.

Redshirt freshman Brett Kendrick has been thrust into action before he's ready, and junior Kyler Kerbyson—a player who is more of an ideal fit at guard—is playing out of position at right tackle.

Last year's key signee, junior college transfer Dontavius Blair, has not yet panned out, and Coleman Thomas hit a freshman wall. He lost the right tackle spot he held through much of spring and the early parts of fall camp and hasn't seen much game action.

The Vols need tackles, and they need them en masse.

"Drew Richmond has been one of Tennessee's top targets in the 2015 class for more than a year-and-a-half, and the Vols really could use an elite offensive tackle, so it's obviously a big loss for them to miss out on Richmond," GoVols247 recruiting analyst Ryan Callahan told Bleacher Report.

"They already have at least four offensive linemen in their class, and two of them could end up being tackles, so they're still not in bad shape. But they definitely could have used Richmond, who might be good enough to come in and play right away next year."


Where Now?

Jones has excelled in recruiting during the past two cycles, landing the nation's seventh-ranked class a season ago with one that currently ranks eighth in the 247Sports Composite rankings this season.

But those classes have been short on true tackles.

Two of this year's commitments—4-star Jack Jones and 3-star Chance Hall—are being recruited to play the demanding position.

Another candidate to be a future tackle is UT strong-side defensive end commit Dylan Jackson, who possesses the necessary frame at 6'6" and 250 pounds to grow into that role, though he also could stay on defense.

It's been a difficult week of news for Vols' tackle prospects, as Hall found out he will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, according to WDBJ7's Brad Zahar. Though he'll be ready by next season, that injury could stunt his development as a tackle.

So with Richmond currently off the board, where do the Vols look next?

Callahan (subscription required) mentioned several potential tackles UT could recruit moving forward, including Nashville's Alex Givens, North Carolina commitment William Sweet and former Tar Heels commit Emanuel McGirt, among others.

Though Richmond was an integral piece to UT's future along the offensive front, there are five months to go until national signing day, and plenty of viable targets will emerge.

The Vols won't stop recruiting Richmond, either.

Upon pledging to the Rebels, the 6'5", 320-pound tackle told's Woody Wommack (subscription required): "I'm not 100 percent sure. I tell people you're not 100 percent sure until you sign your name on that paper. That's how I feel."

That wasn't the only noncommittal thing he said, either.

Does that sound like somebody whose word is oak?

If UT continues to make him a priority, the Vols (among other suitors) will have a chance to change his mind.

"The good news for Tennessee is that signing day is still almost five months away, and Richmond's recruiting isn't over by any stretch of the imagination," Callahan said. "I don't expect Tennessee to slow down its recruitment of him, and he probably will visit the Vols again at some point."



It's extremely difficult to nitpick a recruiting class that's ranked in the nation's top 10, but the Vols haven't fared as well within state boundaries as they did a season ago.

During UT's historic 2014 recruiting cycle, the Vols nabbed nine of the state's top 11 prospects, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Out of that group, Jalen Hurd, Josh Malone, Todd Kelly Jr., Derek Barnett and Jashon Robertson all have seen significant playing time as true freshmen. The in-state players were the glue and are now the backbone of the class.

That hasn't been the case this year.

Thus far, UT has just two of Tennessee's top 10 players. That number is skewed because the Vols didn't recruit as many in-state players as they did a season ago.

But the Vols were actively involved at one point in recruiting Richmond, Rico McGraw (Alabama) and Van Jefferson (Georgia), who chose other schools.

Kyle Phillips is the only undecided player in the top 10, and the Vols desperately need to get him in the fold at strong-side defensive end.


Meeting Needs

Jones has made recruiting the state a major priority, but the Vols have met needs elsewhere during this particular cycle.

However, an argument also can be made that Richmond was the biggest remaining priority left in this class.

With UT's quarterback of the future Quinten Dormady secured along with several impact prospects such as Kahlil McKenzie, Preston Williams, Alvin Kamara and Jauan Jennings, left tackle was the last piece of this year's puzzle.

That's what makes Richmond's decision to go to Ole Miss Jones' biggest recruiting miss to date.

Memphis is always going to be a geographical obstacle for UT to overcome, with seven SEC schools closer, but it seemed the Vols were in good shape with Richmond not long ago, just fading recently.

With a lot of time left before prospects become official college players, Jones still has plenty of time to secure an impact player to help UT solidify its tackle turmoil.

Given his track record in recruiting, he deserves the benefit of the doubt that he'll get a quality player on board.


Unless otherwise noted, all statistics gathered from and quotes as well as observations obtained firsthand. All recruiting information from 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

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


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Big Ten Still Has Time to Rescue Its 2014 Football Season

After seeing Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan all lose on the same day for the first time since 1988 there’s a widespread inclination to declare the Big Ten dead for this college football season, including by B/R's Adam Kramer. Especially since the margin of defeat those three games reached double digits.

But given that Week 3’s games have yet to be played let’s be prudent and at least wait until the leaves start turning color before ordering the Big Ten’s tombstone.

A whole lot of football remains to be played, and a lot can happen between now and when the playoff teams are selected. Don’t forget that at this time last season eventual national champion Florida State was only 10th in the AP poll.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany certainly feels that way, telling that:

It's September 7, not December 7. I would hate to think after two weeks we'd pick any teams for anything.

So what will it take for the Big Ten to exit the intensive care unit and salvage some national pride? Here are some possibilities.


Root for Oregon, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame

Some of the sting from the Big Ten’s three prime-time defeats will abate if those three opponents prove to be powerhouses.

If No. 2 Oregon ascends to the top spot Michigan State can remind folks that it actually led the Ducks through most of the third quarter.

Ohio State’s loss at home won’t look nearly so bad if Virginia Tech ends the regular season undefeated, which is a distinct possibility.

The Hokies have nary a ranked opponent left on the schedule, and their toughest road game looks like North Carolina on Oct. 4.

And while there’s no way Michigan can shed the embarrassment of losing 31-0 to Notre Dame, it will at least raise the Wolverines’ self-esteem if quarterback Everett Golson continues to carve up other teams with similar panache.


On Wisconsin

The Badgers foreshadowed the Big Ten’s problems with an opening-week loss to No. 10 LSU, but that seems like a million years ago after last weekend’s carnage.

And though Wisconsin gagged on a 24-7 lead in the LSU game, at least the 28-24 final score didn’t have the humiliating overtone of some of the Big Ten’s subsequent defeats.

Best of all for the 18th-ranked Badgers, the schedule-maker has been kind. There are no top-25 teams left on Wisconsin’s slate and also no meetings with Ohio State, Michigan State or Penn State. The toughest road game looks like Iowa on Nov. 22.

That seemingly leaves the Badgers in fine position to redeem themselves by running the table and ending the regular season at 11-1.

But they’ll need to keep repairing the image of a passing game that ranks only 108th in the nation. Junior quarterback Tanner McEvoy started the rehab process with a 283-yard game against Western Illinois but will need plenty more of that to make voters forget his paltry 50 yards against LSU.

And as Eye on College Football Staff reports for, it appears Wisconsin doesn’t have the option of switching back to Joel Stave anytime soon now that coach Gary Andersen has let it be known that his 2013 starting quarterback is battling some as-yet undefined issues.


Put All Their Eggs in One Basket

What the Big Ten doesn’t need is a season where its top contenders start knocking each other off.

The only way a Big Ten team can get in contention for a playoff spot is if one school grinds through the regular season and the conference championship game unscathed. If the league ends up with a bunch of two-loss teams it’s just going to look like everyone took a turn at being better than mediocre.

That likely means the most important game aside from the conference championship will come Nov. 8 when No. 22 Ohio State plays at No. 13 Michigan State.

The Buckeyes’ biggest test before then figures to be at Penn State on Oct. 25. For the Spartans, it’s Oct. 4 at home against Nebraska.


A Whole New Penn State

Not everyone was happy to see the NCAA lift the bowl-game ban on Penn State, including national football columnist Greg Couch. But a lot of people, including me, welcome a decision that quits punishing today’s Nittany Lions for wretched acts committed long ago.

As bleak as the situation in Happy Valley looked as the Jerry Sandusky scandal unfolded, this team has the chance to symbolize Penn State’s commitment to getting it right going forward.

In a conference that gets knocked for being too ground-oriented and slow-footed, sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg brings a high-octane arm that matches the personality of new coach James Franklin.

Though they’re still missing many pieces because of scholarship sanctions, a favorable schedule gives the Nittany Lions a shot at taking a 6-0 record into their Oct. 25 home game against Ohio State.

And Franklin just might be the miracle worker Penn State needs. His three consecutive bowl appearances at Vanderbilt are looking even more impressive in the wake of his former team getting trashed in its first two games.

Continuing to work that magic at Penn State could turn out to be exactly the lift the Big Ten needs.


Tom Weir covered college football as a columnist for USA Today.

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Oklahoma vs. Tennessee Complete Game Preview

This is the matchup Oklahoma Sooners and Tennessee Volunteers fans have waited for since the schedule was first released. 

Which team will survive the first obstacle in its way and move to 3-0? Can head coach Bob Stoops lead the Sooners to triumph over the SEC on the big stage once again?

These questions and more will be answered when the two teams square off in Norman. 

Here’s everything you need to know.

Where: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

When: Saturday, September 13 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: ABC

Live Stream: Sooner Sports

Listen: Sooner Sports Radio Network

Betting Line: Oklahoma (-21), per Odds Shark

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Will Marcus Mariota Have Record-Breaking Numbers in Week 3?

The Oregon Ducks have moved up to become the second-best team in the country in the latest AP poll. With Marcus Mariota leading the way, the Ducks have a great opportunity to make the playoffs.

Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer predict their Week 3 stats. What do you think their final record will be?

Watch the video, and let us know!

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Will Marcus Mariota Have Record-Breaking Numbers in Week 3?

The Oregon Ducks have moved up to become the second-best team in the country in the latest AP poll. With Marcus Mariota leading the way, the Ducks have a great opportunity to make the playoffs...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

UCLA Football: What You Should and Shouldn't Be Concerned About After Week 2

Although ranked as the No. 12 team in the latest AP poll, multiple concerns have surrounded Jim Mora and the UCLA football team after two weeks. 

Much of the dissatisfaction likely stems from the expectations heading into the year. Not only was UCLA initially ranked No. 7 in the country, but many pundits—including ESPN's Lee Corso—had the Bruins competing for a spot in the playoff. 

Two underwhelming victories to start the year have tempered those expectations a bit. While there are legitimate causes for concern, there are also reasons to feel relieved about where UCLA currently is. 

This piece will look at pressing concerns for the team as well as areas to feel fine about. 

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UCLA Football: What You Should and Shouldn't Be Concerned About After Week 2

Although ranked as the No. 12 team in the latest AP poll , multiple concerns have surrounded Jim Mora and the UCLA football team after two weeks. Much of the dissatisfaction likely stems from the expectations heading into the year...

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USC Football: What You Should and Shouldn't Be Concerned About After Week 2

Head coach Steve Sarkisian called the 13-10 defeat No. 9-ranked USC football scored over Pac-12 Conference rival Stanford cause for celebration.

"We know the value of a win on the road in-conference," Sarkisian said on his Sunday conference call. "Especially against the two-time defending champs. When you go into Stanford and win where they hadn't lost in 17 games, that's a great win." 

But Sarkisian also stressed that the win must be a building block. USC still has a long road back to the top of the Pac-12. 



1. Depth 

The elephant in the room for USC throughout this season will be its limited numbers. The Trojans had fewer than 60 scholarship players available Saturday at Stanford. 

An injury to a key player—like, say, defensive lineman Leonard Williams—could very well be the difference in playing for the Pac-12 championship and not. 

They faced that possibility at Stanford with Williams, who was battling an ankle injury. 

Williams rallied to make 11 tackles and a sack en route to Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week recognition. 

Without Williams anchoring the defensive front, USC would have been hard-pressed to duplicate its overwhelming red-zone play. 

"To see him fighting through [injury] sets a great example for his teammates," Sarkisian said. "To have 11 tackles in one game and a sack is a great accomplishment. Knowing he wasn't 100 percent is an even greater accomplishment."

Indeed, Williams came through in the clutch. But fighting through an injury, as the Trojans' star did Saturday, may not always be an option. Whether it's Williams or any of the team's other key players, the possibility of losing someone weighs heavier on USC than it does other teams. 

The primary example this season is the secondary, which already endured one big blow when redshirt senior cornerback Josh Shaw was suspended indefinitely. 

USC saw what having Shaw out of the lineup meant last week. Shaw often matched up against Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery in USC's 20-17 win over the Cardinal in 2013, and Stanford's dynamic playmaker was limited to just 23 yards receiving. 

On Saturday, Montgomery caught nine passes for 83 yards. 

Another loss at defensive back could put the USC pass defense in a tough spot—and that's just one example. The running back corps took a hit to its depth with Tre Madden sidelined; another injury there would vastly change the look of the offense. 

Nothing but good health and good fortune can truly alleviate this concern for the Trojans as the season progresses. 


2. Penalties 

The sample size is low, but Sarkisian and his staff should be concerned that USC is among the nation's most penalized teams through two games. 

Pac-12 officials are notorious for throwing more flags than their counterparts in other conferences. The proof is in the numbers in recent seasons, which both returning Trojans and Sarkisian experienced.

Sarkisian's Washington team was the second-most penalized team in a highly penalized conference in 2013. 

Penalties are effective speed bumps for a hurry-up offense like USC's. The Trojans experienced just how effectively firsthand against Stanford, as they racked up 10 flags for 87 yards.

Likewise, defensive penalties had the Trojans moving backward, which contributed to Stanford's six red-zone opportunities. USC's play with its back to the end zone was valiant, but it cannot afford to face similar situations throughout conference competition. 


3. Diversity in the Passing Game

Quarterback Cody Kessler put up career numbers in the Trojans' Week 1 romp over Fresno State with 394 passing yards and four touchdowns. His ability to spread the ball to a variety of receivers on a number of different routes opened the field. 

Stanford's swarming defense limited Kessler's options, but the quarterback had a security blanket in wide receiver Nelson Agholor. 

Few teams have a player of Agholor's ability in their wide receiving corps, thus Kessler is wise to make use of him. Agholor is one of the most electric playmakers in space, as well as a constant breakaway threat. 

However, Kessler must be careful to avoid the redundancy that plagued USC's offense in former head coach Lane Kiffin's last season-plus with the Trojans. 

USC relied heavily on Marqise Lee in 2012 and the first few games of 2013—perhaps too heavily. 

"I think we focused too much on [Lee] as a team and we took away from other great playmakers like Robert [Woods] and our tight ends," former Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times in December 2012. 

Much like his former teammate Lee, Agholor is both dependable and explosive. But Kessler must make effective use of all his options to keep defenses honest in their coverage schemes.

George Farmer was the only other target with multiple catches on Saturday. Justin Davis and John "JuJu" Smith each had one. 

Sarkisian said the passing attack "could have been more aggressive" against Stanford. As defenses become more focused on the Trojans' multifaceted running game and the dynamic Agholor, that aggression must be an element USC explores more.  



1. Backfield Combinations

Sarkisian inherited a deep and talented corps of running backs upon his arrival at USC. Implementing each ball-carrier's strengths into the game plan ran contrary to Sarkisian's formula at Washington, though.

With the Huskies, Sarkisian leaned on a workhorse feature back who approached or exceeded 300 carries for the season. And the coach's USC offense is building off the play of its own hard-running No. 1 back. 

Javorius "Buck" Allen has reestablished himself as USC's primary rusher early in the campaign, picking up where he left off from a great finish to 2013. But the Trojans feature a much more multidimensional ground attack than many of Sarkisian's Washington teams.  

That versatility was on display against a Stanford rush defense that routinely ranks among the nation's best. 

Allen's 154 yards set a new career high. Twenty-two of Allen's 154 yards helped set up kicker Andre Heidari for the decisive field goal. 

"We wanted to dedicate [the strategy] to run the football. We didn't want to abandon it," Sarkisian said. 

The final drive also featured contributions from Davis and fullback Soma Vainuku. 

The sophomore Davis never produced any of the long runs that highlighted his truncated freshman season, but he did provide USC's only touchdown of the afternoon. 

Expect Davis' role as a receiving option out of the backfield to grow in the coming weeks, adding another dimension to the USC attack. 

Sarkisian will also have the option of integrating Madden into the rotation when he recovers from turf toe. Madden was USC's leading rusher for the first half of 2013.  


2. Offensive Line Play

Questions abounded about USC's young and inexperienced offensive line before the season.

The Trojans ranked No. 104 nationally with 35 sacks allowed in 2013. If that wasn't bad enough, center Marcus Martin bypassed his remaining eligibility to enter the NFL draft and veteran Aundrey Walker struggled with injury throughout the offseason. 

Yet through two games, this group has acquitted itself nicely. It did not allow a sack in the Week 1 defeat of Fresno State, and paved the way for Allen's impressive rushing performance against the stingy Stanford defense in Week 2. 

True freshmen Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama have been crucial to the unit's overall performance, and their ceiling for improvement as the season progresses is high. 

"We've got a lot of areas to improve upon, and our play up front is one of them," Sarkisian said. "But the good thing for our young O-line is they've seen a lot of defenses. Fresno State threw a lot at them, Stanford threw a bunch at them, and they responded really well.

"Can we get better? Sure. But those guys playing in their second game, on the road, I was really pleased," he added. 


3. Front Seven 

That the Trojans' front seven is playing so well should come as no surprise. Sarkisian called the unit "the strength of this football team" at Pac-12 media days. With a veteran like Hayes Pullard at linebacker and an All-American such as Williams on the line, it's understandable. 

But the group goes well beyond those names, and that's been evident early into 2014. 

The front seven's strength was most evident in Week 2 with its red-zone play. Stanford could not adequately establish the run, and quarterback Kevin Hogan's passing lanes were stifled. 

Sarkisian said the Trojans' play inside their own 20-yard line was a response to a challenge made in the week's practices. After Fresno State scored touchdowns on each of its red-zone opportunities, Sarkisian said on Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference that shutting down the Cardinal was "a point of emphasis." 

Meanwhile, as problematic as depth is across other areas of the depth chart, the linebacker corps showed off how rife it is with contributors against Stanford. Pullard was ejected in the second half for targeting, but Sarkisian praised the performances of Michael Hutchings and Anthony Sarao after Pullard's departure. 

Outside linebacker J.R. Tavai also stepped up to force a win-sealing fumble on his sack of Hogan. 

The front seven's collective was perhaps the most important component of USC's win in Week 2. That likely won't be the last time this season, either. 


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics courtesy of

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USC Football: What You Should and Shouldn't Be Concerned About After Week 2

Head coach Steve Sarkisian called the 13-10 defeat No. 9-ranked USC football scored over Pac -12 Conference rival Stanford cause for celebration...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Ohio State Football: How Does Urban Meyer 2.0 Handle a Loss?

Eight minutes into his meeting with the media on Monday, Stan Drayton found himself at a loss for words. And it wasn't because of a question that had anything to do with his running back rotation.

"Is Urban handling losses any different than he did during his time at Florida?" the Ohio State running backs coach was asked, a camcorder held mere inches from his face.

"Wow," Drayton responded after a pause. "You got me on that question. I would have to say..."

The question—and answer—were obviously complicated.

When Urban Meyer unexpectedly retired from Florida in 2009, he did so facing a sobering reality: his next loss could be his last.

The health issues that led to Meyer's early retirement have never really been defined, but this much we know: In the early morning following the Gators' loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship Game—a de facto play-in game for the BCS Championship Game—Meyer was admitted to a hospital after suffering from chest pains. The two-time national champion coach's initial retirement lasted less than 24 hours, however, as Meyer opted to return to Florida for the 2010 season following a brief leave of absence.

And as it turned out, Meyer's next loss wasn't his last. The post-Tim Tebow era in Gainesville turned out to be lower risk and much lower reward, as the Gators ultimately struggled to an 8-5 record after enjoying a 26-2 run from 2008-09.

Meyer would again leave Florida, this time for good, and again citing his health and family as his primary reasons why. He was 46 years old and admittedly unable to deal with the stress of his high-pressure job, a question that understandably followed him when he took over Ohio State in 2012.

"I feel fantastic now," Meyer insisted during his introductory press conference at OSU. "I was proud I had balance for quite a while. I lost that near the end. My health is in good shape. I've been checked out over and over again."

For the better part of his first two years in Columbus, Meyer developed a pretty good recipe for dealing with losses: he didn't. 

In his first season with the Buckeyes, Meyer directed a bowl-ineligible team to a 12-0 record. And while his Ohio State tenure was considered an instant success, it left many—including his own wife—wondering what he'd do when that inevitable first loss with the Buckeyes came.

"At the end of the last game, I said, ‘Really, you really had to go undefeated the first year?’" Shelley Meyer told Eleven Warriors in 2013.  "Where do you go from there?"

As it turned out, the answer was 12 more wins, before that haunting loss finally arrived. Again with a trip to the national title game on the line, Meyer's team fell victim in the conference championship game, with the Buckeyes losing to Michigan State.

After the game, Meyer was infamously pictured solemnly eating pizza, but by all accounts, he seemed to handle the loss about as well as anybody could have expected him to.

Since that cold December night in Indianapolis, however, Ohio State's misfortunes have snowballed into a stretch of three losses in four games, including last weekend's defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech. So how is the third-year Buckeyes head coach dealing with the first extended adversity that he's faced since coming to Columbus?

Like all things Meyer-related, it's tough to tell.

Meyer admitted to not sleeping much on Saturday night before putting in a full day of work on Sunday—neither of which are abnormal activities at this time of year for a football coach after a win or a loss. Asked by B/R in July how he was handling his daughter Nicki's famous pink contract on the back end of back-to-back losses in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game and Orange Bowl, Meyer insisted he was abiding by the rules put in place for him by his family

"I was where I was and it wasn't pleasant," Meyer said. "It affected a lot of people. I don't want to do that again."

If there's one person on the Ohio State staff who can vouch for where Meyer was four years ago it's Drayton, who served as the Gators running backs coach from 2005-07 and again in 2010. The now-Buckeyes assistant has seen his boss at his lowest of lows but insists that Meyer is now handling losses better than he was during his time in Gainesville.

"I would have to say, absolutely, yes," Drayton finally answered. "Urban is very encouraged by a bunch of motivated young men that want to make it right...nobody's reflecting emotionally on this game right now. We're moving forward."

And while that may be the politically correct answer, sprinkled with bits of truth, not everybody inside the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center seems to be moving on from Ohio State's loss to the Hokies as quickly as Drayton claims to be.

"I'm still hurting," Meyer admitted Monday morning. "We'll be ready by tonight, get it out of our system and go."

With at least 10 games remaining on their slate, Meyer and the Buckeyes don't really have any other choice.

Although Meyer appears to be dealing with Ohio State's recent defeats better internally, his external actions have made it clear to his players that losing doesn't sit well with him.

As detailed in Wright Thompson's 2012 profile, most of Meyer's weeks as a head coach have culminated with a Victory Meal, a celebration of his team's most recent win.

They'd gather after a win, eating steak and shrimp, watching a replay of the game. They'd hang out, enjoying the accomplishment. Players and coaches loved Victory Meal, and Meyer often sat at the front of the room, glowing inside.

Only on Sunday, there was no Victory Meal, because, well, there was no victory. Rather than dine on prime cuts, the Buckeyes were served a less-than-memorable meal consisting of spaghetti and meatballs.

"We still had dinner. It just wasn't the same quality of food," Drayton said. "I don't even remember [what it was]. I just remember swallowing something."

"It's something that I really did not enjoy and something I cannot get used to," added sophomore safety Tyvis Powell, the only OSU player to meet with the media on Monday.

And while the Buckeyes will have to wait another week for their next surf-and-turf meal, the formerly unreasonable Meyer now finds himself as the voice of reason inside his team's locker room. That's not something that could have been said four years ago, but thus far, Meyer appears to be passing what's been one of the toughest tests of his coaching career.

"He remained calm about it. He paints the big picture for you," Powell said. "All you think about is the loss, but he tries to get you to move on and move forward and look to the future rather than sit back and dwell on the loss."


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Insider Recruiting: Sanctions Lifted, Which 5-Star Recruit Could Penn State Flip

The Penn State Nittany Lions are looking to bounce back stronger than ever now that the NCAA has lifted their recruiting sanctions starting in 2015. Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson talks with 247Sports' JC Shurburtt about what this means for their upcoming recruiting. Who do you think head coach James Franklin can bring to Penn State in the future?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Texas A&M Football: What You Should & Shouldn't Be Concerned About After Week 2

The Texas A&M football team has started the season with two consecutive wins and rose to No. 7 in the latest AP poll. The Aggies have shown some surprising strengths and a few expected weaknesses during their first two games.

The Aggies feature one of the younger teams in the SEC overall. Head coach Kevin Sumlin has played 14 true freshman during the first two games. With that kind of youth, you expect to see some youthful mistakes.

The Aggies have had their share of mistakes, but they have also had some standout performances from some of their younger players. The future of the program is definitely bright as the Aggies feature a number of young players who are playing significant roles early in their career.

This is a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of the 2014 Texas A&M football team.   

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College Football Rankings 2014: Power Ranking All 128 Teams for Week 3

Another week, another round of major movement among the top teams in college football.

Thanks to some marquee matchups between highly rated teams, as well as a few major upsets, Bleacher Report's power rankings went through a significant shake-up. Teams that were ranked in the 20s a week ago are no longer among the top 50, while others that were sitting in the 30s or 40s are now in the top 25.

And spoiler alert: The top of the power rankings has even more turnover.

Our power rankings are comprised of an average of five ratings: The Associated Press media and Amway coaches polls, Bleacher Report's Top 25, ratings guru Jeff Sagarin's computer ledger and my personal ranking.

Take a look at how we ranked all 128 FBS teams heading into Week 3 and then let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Alabama Hasn't Even Scratched the Surface of Lane Kiffin's Playbook, Yet

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Through two games, Alabama fans have started to get an idea about new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s offense and how it may be different or similar to what the Crimson Tide have run in the past.

Essentially, it’s not that different from Alabama’s offense under head coach Nick Saban. There’s a heavy emphasis on running the ball with power and setting up the play action. But we’ve also seen a number of new formations and players being used in different ways.

And, we’ve only seen a small part of it.

It would be foolish for Alabama to show its entire hand on offense right away, especially in a game against West Virginia, a power-five team that isn’t quite on the Crimson Tide’s level yet, and definitely not against group-of-five Florida Atlantic. And with lowly Southern Miss visiting on Saturday before SEC play, don’t expect to get much more insight into what Kiffin’s trying to do.

“I think there's a lot left on the table that we can show,” tight end Brian Vogler said on Monday. “I think the coaches are saving that up for maybe if it just works on a different defense. We put in a lot of stuff, and we take stuff out for certain defenses, and we game-plan around it. So I think a lot of the offense is still out there. The coaches are just waiting to use it.”

The Mountaineers ran a 3-3-5 stack defense which, while unlike anything Alabama sees regularly in the SEC, was built to stop spread attacks like West Virginia sees in the Big 12. If Kiffin was going to open things up, especially in the passing game, this wasn’t going to be the game to do so.

The result? Alabama ran the ball for almost 300 yards, with T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry each hitting the 100-yard mark.

Against Florida Atlantic, Alabama knew it had the distinct talent advantage. The Owls cornerbacks were playing off of the Crimson Tide’s quick receivers. That led to the onslaught of screen passes thrown their way on Saturday.

Right tackle Austin Shepherd said most of those plays have a run option, and FAU was playing the run while setting their defensive backs to not get beat over the top.

“They’re kind of option plays. You can run or pass it,” Shepherd said. “We’re blocking the run. If they’re loading the box, we’re going to split the ball out.”

It’s almost a cliche to say, but right now, Alabama is just taking what the defense is giving it. And that’s nothing new for the Crimson Tide.

“If you go back and look at games, not this season but in the past, we'll run plays over and over again because it just works,” Vogler said. “I remember in the SEC Championship we ran the same play six times in a row because it worked. If something is working for us, we are going to use it the rest of the game.”

That year, of course, Alabama had one of the best offensive lines in college football history. It could move defensive fronts at will. And Vogler is right: Alabama’s official play by play does indeed show a stretch at the end of the third quarter of six straight run plays up the middle or to the right side that helped set up a go-ahead touchdown.

This season, Alabama’s strength is on the perimeter. Its receivers are dangerous in open space. So it makes sense that if defenses are giving it that open space, the Crimson Tide would exploit it.

“We had the numbers, and it was what we were looking for,” Vogler said.” We spit it out there and with guys like Chris Black, Christion Jones, Amari Cooper out there to make plays, it's real nice.”

While Alabama and Kiffin don’t want to show their full arsenal right away, they haven’t had to, by any stretch. They’ve had plenty of success taking what the defense has given them, whether that’s from a talent-level standpoint or schematically.

So when could we expect to see the playbook open up a little bit more?

The first likely candidate is Florida on September 20. The Gators have the talent on defense to match up with Alabama. Cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Tabor can match up with Cooper, Black and the like. The Crimson Tide won’t be able to bubble screen them to death.

Kiffin’s offense has been innovative and a fresh look for a unit that got stale at times under Doug Nussmeier. But it hasn’t come close to being fully unleashed yet.


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

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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How Doug Nussmeier Can Turn Michigan Offense Around After Week 2 Disaster

Doug Nussmeier agrees with you about Saturday’s 31-0 loss to Notre Dame. In fact, the first-year Michigan offensive coordinator stands, in terms of perception, with the rest of the public.

“Not very good, obviously, when you don’t score and you’re the offensive coordinator, it’s not good,” he replied when asked to grade his national TV debut with the Wolverines in South Bend. “It’s been a lot of reflection: What we could have done differently. What should we have done differently? Obviously, you know, we take big ownership in this. And when you don’t score points, it falls on everybody, and you start with offensive coordinator.”

Other than Devin Funchess’ team-leading 107 receiving yards, the Wolverines were held tightly in check by the Irish defense, which ended the rivalry series with its first shutout. Michigan rushed for 100 yards, but it only averaged 2.9 yards per carry. It converted just four times on third down and failed to reach the red zone.

Adding salt to the wound, Matt Wile missed 46- and 48-yard field-goal attempts. The latter wasn’t really his fault; he slipped. But it was most certainly the lowlight in terms of scoring tries.

So where is Nussmeier to go from here? He has roughly three days to prepare a game plan for the Miami (Ohio) Red Hawks, who invade The Big House on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET). Surely he has something up his sleeve, something to make everyone forget about his tactical failure and subsequent drubbing by a defense that gave up 17 points to Rice in Week 1.

“[The offense is] still in infancy stages here, we’re still learning to play consistently well,” said Nussmeier, later adding: “It’s about 11 guys on every play, doing the right thing. ... If it’s 10 guys doing the right thing, and one guy doing the wrong thing, you’re doomed.

“We’ve got to get 11 guys, on every play, doing the right thing.”

The former Alabama OC says that there is no timetable, no measuring chart or barometer for his group. Progression will come when it comes: “We’ll go as fast as we can,” he said, while also mentioning that “procedural” details need to be corrected and enforced.

Maybe another review of Week 2’s game film would help? Maybe a quicker release for Devin Gardner, who’s been criticized for holding on for too long, would be a remedy to the situation.

“If you go through the tape, and some of you, I know, do that and play coach...but some of the three-step-drop game, you’re not going to do much with anyway...” said coach Brady Hoke.

Fair enough. X's and O's won’t be dissected and discussed too much. That’s Hoke and Nussmeier’s job. But mentioning players who could help is fair game.


The Styling of Fleetwood

He’s 5’7” (is he?!) and not very heavy.

But he’s all muscle and athleticism.

His name, this year, is “Fleetwood.” The 169-pound junior from Detroit is a touchdown waiting to happen. However, his goose egg in the TD column is one of the most mind-boggling stats in the Big Ten.

How does this guy not have at least a few from a return? What about a dump-off/flair play? Those could work. Due to his size, he can get lost in the backfield and use his afterburners down the sidelines. He and Gardner hooked up for one against the Irish. If perfected, it could be a go-to this fall.

It’s all a novel idea, something that’ll need a robust O-line in order to work. But Dennis Norfleet can provide the “explosive play”—defined by Nussmeier as a 12-yard run or 16-yard pass—to Team 135’s offense.

“My role on the team: I’m a guy who can bring a spark that makes everybody happy,” said Norfleet. “I’m just being the teammate to get everybody going. You know, to bring fire. That’s what I do...”

Bring it, Fleetwood. And then bring some ice to cool off those Hot Wheels which have led to 1,817 kick-return yards, the second most in program history.


Spread from Funchess?

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Well, the connection isn’t “broken,” but Funchess sustained a ding or two versus the Irish, causing him to leave the game. But he returned and finished. Hoke, who doesn’t like answering injury questions, said that the 6’5”, 236-pound junior Biletnikoff candidate receiver is “fine.”

Funchess is the obvious target. He’s the guy who’ll make the game-winning touchdown catch. He’s the guy who’ll take on the top defensive backs—plural, as in more than one at a time—and rack up the big stats.

But he can’t be the only option. He’s a safety net, but Nussmeier can’t turn him into a crutch. There are plenty of receivers—Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and even freshman Freddy Canteen, who Michigan is trying to “get going”—to utilize on game day.

And once tight end Jake Butt is fully healthy, he’ll be a true asset. As of Monday, the 6’6”, 249-pound sophomore was placed atop the depth chart. During the presser, defensive end Frank Clark, linebacker Jake Ryan—both seniors—and Norfleet expressed optimism toward their young teammate who's overcoming an ACL tear. 

Nussmeier won’t rush Butt back into action. However, he’ll probably throw more reps his way this weekend. He should also look into reestablishing the type of run game that saw Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith gouge Appalachian State for 285 yards and three scores. 

That’s just an educated guess and suggestion, not an attempt to "play coach.” Leave that to the filmheads and armchair quarterbacks. 


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

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SEC Football Q&A: O.J. Howard, Georgia's Game Plan and an Upset for Tennessee?

It's Tuesday, and that means it's time for a little SEC Q&A.

Heading into Week 3, we now know a lot about each team's strengths and where they need to improve. Week 3 offers compelling conference and out-of-conference matchups, with Georgia traveling to South Carolina for an SEC East showdown and Tennessee heading to Oklahoma in search of an upset over the Sooners.

Will Vols' head coach Butch Jones get that upset? Will Georgia continue to roll? Let's take a look at Week 3 and beyond with a little SEC Q&A.


I'd love to have an answer for you, because when you have a 6'6", 240-pound tight end who can catch and run, it's a good idea to use him.

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has not.

Howard doesn't have a catch on the season and has only been targeted once. That pass—which was intercepted—came in the fourth quarter of the season opener vs. West Virginia when Blake Sims tried to force a pass up the seam into double coverage.

This is somewhat of a shock because, as B/R's Alabama lead writer Marc Torrence noted this summer, head coach Nick Saban was pleased with Howard's progress.

"Having a guy like that, really there's a lot of multiples in terms of how you can use him and create problems for the defense to have to adjust to him," Saban said. "He's worked hard and responded well.”

Kiffin has done rather well during his first two games as the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator, putting Sims in positions to succeed while still allowing fellow quarterback Jake Coker the opportunity to show his upside at appropriate times. He's spread the carries around to Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon and used wide receiver Amari Cooper as a big-time weapon as the quarterback battle sorts itself out.

The biggest (and perhaps "only") criticism of Kiffin's play-calling through two games is Howard's absence, which shouldn't continue much longer.


Yes, and it should not only against South Carolina but every game of the season.

Georgia's game plan against Clemson was exactly why I picked the Bulldogs to finish the season undefeated and to be SEC champs and the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs have the running back depth to use Todd Gurley at the perfect times, allow quarterback Hutson Mason to be more of a game manager than gunslinger and a defense that's properly coached for the first time in a long time.

As long as everybody stays healthy, head coach Mark Richt is doing the right thing limiting Gurley's first-half carries, using him on special teams and then bringing him in as the hammer in the second half to lean on worn-out defenses.

This is the luxury Georgia has. It is absolutely loaded with the talent to the point where putting your best player on special teams and "risking injury" (which is silly, because there's an injury risk on every play) is something the coaching staff can do to make the team better.

Yes, Georgia will stick with that this week, although I do expect them to take more shots deep with quarterback Huston Mason against an undermanned Gamecock pass defense.


A chance, sure. 

As I wrote earlier this week, running back Jalen Hurd is maturing at the right time. Either Hurd or senior Marlin Lane will have to play big, because keeping the ball out of the hands of Sooners' quarterback Trevor Knight and that offense will be job No. 1.

A big question for Oklahoma is cornerback Zack Sanchez, who left last weekend's game with a shoulder injury. Sooners' head coach Bob Stoops expects him to play Saturday, according to Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World.

If that's true, and Sanchez shows no ill effects from that injury, he'll make it tough on quarterback Justin Worley and wide receiver Marquez North.

No, I don't think Tennessee stands much of a chance in Norman. The Sooners are a more complete team from top to bottom, have the advantage of playing at home and a front seven that will force quick decisions from Worley. 


No, and it shouldn't be the expectation. After all, when was the last time Arkansas won the SEC?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Head coach Bret Bielema inherited a mess in 2013, and he's trying to play LSU and Alabama-style football with players that aren't at the same level of those traditional SEC West powers. Toss in defending SEC champ Auburn and the emergence of Texas A&M as a team that not only can get hot but has staying power, and Arkansas plays in the toughest neighborhood in college football.

It shouldn't be about SEC West titles for Bielema, at least not within five seasons. It should be about being in the SEC West discussion. Consistently being in the division title discussion is as good as Arkansas has ever had it since joining the conference in 1992, and getting back to that point should be the goal for Bielema and the focus for Arkansas fans.

Once that happens, then talk about the conference title. But you have to get to that point first, which is much easier said than done.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report and 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, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Full List of Week 3 College Standings and Polls

Thanks to a batch of brave scheduling, there is a lot of noticeable movement to talk about in the Week 3 college football polls.

Both the Amway Coaches poll and Associated Press poll contain plenty of surprises after their Sunday release this time around. Some matchups were obviously going to produce movers (USC-Stanford), while marquee upsets facilitated momentum on their own (Virginia Tech-Stanford).

Below, let's take a look at both polls and key in on a few of the notable movers and what it means for each school's future in the coming weeks.


Amway and AP Week 3 Top 25 Rankings


Breaking Down Notable Movers

Virginia Tech

Hokies fans surely have a mixed reaction to this one.

On one hand, they have to be proud that Virginia Tech makes an appearance in both polls, rising 21 spots alone in the AP poll, but as Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman points out, the other poll seems to have made a tiny mistake:

Not only did Frank Beamer's team go to Columbus and pick up a win, it dominated the Buckeyes, Braxton Miller or not.

Known for his perennially strong defenses, Beamer dialed up a game plan that had Urban Meyer's side on its heels all night. Quarterback J.T. Barrett completed just nine of his 29 attempts, going for 219 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in the process. Barrett also led the team in rushing with 70 yards and a score.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, Beamer dialed up a ridiculous amount of aggression to counteract what is supposedly a better team in a hostile environment:

So how does the marquee upset mesh with the rest of the season for the Hokies?

Not so well. Beamer and Co. have a tough schedule if they are to win the ACC, with dates against North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami (Fla.) and Duke to come.

The good news is that the Hokies defense should continue to cause issues for any offense it encounters. Quarterback Michael Brewer held up better than anticipated and should only continue to get more comfortable.

Expect the Hokies to hang around in the polls for a while.


Texas A&M

The hype train for the Texas A&M Aggies continues to grow.

One week removed from taking down South Carolina on the road while Kenny Hill beat a Johnny Manziel record on his way to 511 yards and three scores, the Aggies went out Saturday and destroyed Lamar, 73-3.

The rout caused the Aggies to move up two spots in the AP poll (including two first-place votes) and another five in the Amway poll.

At this point, it's as if Manziel never left when it comes to national-title talk. Hill threw for another 283 yards and four scores before getting yanked from the game, and 11 different players caught at least one pass in the process.

Remember, though, that much of the credit can go to coach Kevin Sumlin, as College GameDay illustrates:

Do not expect Texas A&M to stick around with such high marks, though. The next two weeks are simple and will further get the hype train rolling (Rice and SMU), but the schedule is one of the most unkind the country has to offer.

The Aggies have to travel to Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn, not to mention they welcome Ole Miss and LSU to town.

A playoff berth seems like a possibility, but it's going to take the offense continuing to produce against the best of the best.


Notre Dame

A move up a minimum of four spots in each poll speaks volumes about the job Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have done to start the season.

The team started with a win over Rice, but Saturday's triumph over Michigan—a jaw-dropping affair at 31-0—has announced that the Fighting Irish are very much playoff contenders. As Matt Fortuna of ESPN notes, the program is finally back up around some of their rivals:

It's certainly not as flashy, but the Notre Dame defense deserves a ton of credit for the victory. It held explosive Wolverines signal-caller Devin Gardner to 189 passing yards, and the entire offense rushed for just 100 yards.

Best of all, Everett Golson is back in full force. He threw for 226 yards and three scores against the Michigan defense, and his comeback story has the attention of many, including Bleacher Report's Matt Miller:

We have always known Golson is a talented player, but nobody could have predicted he would be up to speed this quickly—not even his private coach, George Whitefield. He told Feldman, "I thought it'd take a couple of games before he'd really settle in -- maybe by like Game 5."

So much for that.

It's huge news for the Fighting Irish. Like the Aggies, Kelly's squad has a brutal schedule that includes Stanford, North Carolina, Florida State, Arizona State, Louisville and USC.

In order to get to the coveted playoff, Golson has to play at an elite level in each contest. It's early, but it looks like he will not have any issues doing just that.


Stats via Amyway poll via USA Today. AP poll via The Associated Press.


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New Maryland Uniforms Celebrate 200th Anniversary of 'The Star-Spangled Banner'

Maryland's football uniforms have turned heads in recent seasons, but Under Armour has found a way to make the Terrapins' uniforms for this week stand out even more—in a patriotic way.

Some college football teams will be wearing special "Stars and Stripes" helmets for their games this week. Under Armour and Maryland have a plan for something even more special.

For Maryland's game against West Virginia on Saturday, the Terrapins will wear uniforms that celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry and "The Star-Spangled Banner." The uniforms will not use the team's red, yellow and black. Instead, they will feature red, white and blue.

The uniforms will include the words of Francis Scott Key’s poem “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which ended up becoming the national anthem. The words will be on the helmet, the sleeves of the jersey and the bottom of the cleats.

Each uniform will also include a couple of key phrases.

This video helps explain the tribute.

Last year, Under Armour came out with patriotic uniforms for Northwestern to wear. This year, the company has found a way to celebrate a special anniversary in a unique way with new uniforms for Maryland.

[Under Armour Football, Maryland Pride]

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Drew Richmond to Ole Miss: Rebels Land 4-Star OT Prospect

Drew Richmond, one of the most coveted offensive linemen in the class of 2015, has verbally committed to Ole Miss, adding another 4-star player to an already solid class. 

Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger provided the news shortly after Richmond's announcement:

At 6'5", 320 pounds, Richmond has added weight during his time at Memphis University School and became a huge target for several notable programs. Despite holding offers from Georgia, Clemson and Florida State, the lineman chose to commit with the Rebels.

Ranked as the No. 6 offensive tackle by 247Sports' composite system, Richmond was one of the last remaining linemen remaining in the top 10. He was so highly coveted by Tennessee that he tweeted out a photo of the Recruiting Yearbook with his face plastered on the cover:

Richmond was also part of The Opening in the summer and made an impression on those in attendance. The Memphis native's results were shared by Ryan Callahan of 247Sports:

Top247 offensive tackle Drew Richmond of Memphis, Tenn., posted a SPARQ score of 83.85 behind a 40.5-foot power-ball toss. He also ran the 40 in 5.44 seconds, had a 22.4-inch vertical and completed the shuttle in 4.97 seconds.

As for Richmond, the lineman told Drew Champlin of his objective: "I just hope to do well so I can get my fifth star." While Richmond isn't considered a 5-star player, he's still a superb prospect.

Though he doesn't register a top ranking in any category, 247Sports has Richmond at an eight out of 10 on nearly every measurable skill. With a projectable frame, athleticism along with outstanding pass and run blocking, Richmond has a bright future at the college level.

He will likely have a chance to start during his freshman campaign, but being a star is not guaranteed in the SEC. After already bringing in a huge haul in 2015, Richmond will be a special recruit for Ole Miss in the future.


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Georgia vs. South Carolina: Will This Huge Matchup Determine SEC East Champion?

The Georgia Bulldogs are taking on the South Carolina Gamecocks in a heated SEC East matchup. Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee throw out some rapid-fire questions pertaining to this big-time battle. Who do you think will win?

Watch the video and let us know!

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