NCAA Football

Wyoming vs. Oregon: Live Score and Highlights

A week after lodging one of its biggest nonconference wins in school history, Oregon (2-0) will try to keep it rolling against a far less imposing opponent when it hosts Wyoming (2-0) at 2 p.m. ET Saturday.

While the Cowboys don't have the pedigree of Michigan State, whom the Ducks beat 46-29 on Sept. 6, the Mountain West team does come into Eugene riding a wave of confidence under new coach Craig Bohl. Bohl was the architect of a dynasty at North Dakota State, which won the last three FCS national championships, prior to taking over a Wyoming program that is coming off back-to-back losing seasons.

Saturday's game will be a clash of styles, as Oregon runs a wide-open offense that's big on scoring quickly and blowing teams out of the water, while Wyoming has tried to control the clock and win with defense. The Cowboys have allowed 25 points in two games while only scoring 34.

Oregon, on the other hand, has outscored its opponents 108-40.

This will be the first meeting ever between the Ducks and Cowboys. It will be shown live on the Pac-12 Network, but stick with us for real-time updates, including analysis, tweets, pics and GIFs.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Miami Hurricanes vs. Arkansas State Live Blog: Instant Reaction and Analysis

Both the Miami Hurricanes and the Arkansas State Red Wolves enter Saturday's game with a 1-1 record. Last weekend, the Hurricanes defeated the Florida A&M Rattlers 41-7 for their first victory of the season. Arkansas State wasn't as successful last weekend, as it lost to the Tennessee Volunteers 34-19. 

Hurricanes wide receiver and returner Stacy Coley suffered a shoulder injury against Florida A&M and won't play against Arkansas State. As a true freshman in 2013, Coley led the team with 1,461 all-purpose yards, which was the 10th-highest single-season total in school history. 

Miami’s freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya will be playing against a Red Wolves defense that returned eight starters from a season ago, including Qushaun Lee. The senior linebacker was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection after recording 134 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2013. So this will be a test to see how much Kaaya has learned from the Hurricanes’ 31-13 loss to the Louisville Cardinals in Week 1.

The Hurricanes defense will have to watch out for Red Wolves quarterback Fredi Knighten. While Knighten may not strike fear in many defenses with his arm, he is an excellent runner who can improvise with his feet. In addition to throwing for 166 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee, Knighten also ran for 65 yards and rushed for a touchdown.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU. You can also watch the game on WatchESPN.

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Best Signs from ESPN's 'College GameDay' Week 3

ESPN's College GameDay crew hit Fargo, North Dakota, before North Dakota State's showdown against the University of the Incarnate Word at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

Here are some of the best signs from fans, including a few that didn't make it on air. 

Sam Ponder certainly had fans in attendance. 

A nice throwback of Kirk Herbstreit. 

ESPN and Fargo, best friends? Yup! 

This North Dakota State weighs in on rapper Gucci Mane's legal issues. 

That's cold. 

Lee Corso picked the Bison! 

But some people haven't gotten over last year's snub. 

[ESPN]

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College Football Week 3: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction

Week 3 of the 2014 college football season will bring us two SEC rivals battling for the top spot in their division, as well as some very intriguing out-of-conference matchups.

South Carolina will host Georgia at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS, looking to get revenge for last season’s loss as well as gain some ground in the SEC East race.

Will the Gamecocks be able to handle Todd Gurley and the Bulldogs’ potent offense? Or will Steve Spurrier once again spoil the hopes and dreams for Georgia?

Tennessee travels to Oklahoma to duke it out with the Sooners at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Trevor Knight has a great opportunity to put his name in the Heisman race with a strong performance, whereas the Volunteers hope to show the national audience that their program is back on the rise. 

Texas and UCLA will play at 8 p.m. ET on Fox on a somewhat neutral field at Arlington's AT&T Stadium, with both programs hoping to take advantage of the national spotlight. 

Keep it locked right here with Bleacher Report for live score updates, highlights and much more for all of Saturday’s Week 3 action! 

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West Virginia vs. Maryland: Live Score and Highlights

West Virginia 28, Maryland 20—HALFTIME

The 2-0 Maryland Terrapins are off to a quick start during their first season as a member of the Big Ten, but the Terps get their first real test on Saturday afternoon, when the Mountaineers from West Virginia come calling.

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Kent State vs. Ohio State: Live Score and Highlights

Ohio State 45, Kent State 0 — Halftime

Game action is now underway between No. 22 Ohio State (1-1) and Kent State (0-2). ABC and ESPN2 are televising the matchup regionally from Columbus.

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

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East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech: Live Score and Highlights

East Carolina 21, Virginia Tech 7—Late 2nd Quarter

The Virginia Tech Hokies are squaring off against the East Carolina Pirates in a nonconference clash.

ESPN is carrying the nonconference clash, and Bleacher Report is providing live scoring updates and analysis. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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College Football Rankings 2014: Last-Minute Look at Week 3 Polls

Coming off a weak schedule of games last weekend, college football has a lot of work to do providing fans with the kind of quality and entertainment that they are accustomed to seeing. Despite that poor slate of matchups, there was plenty of shifting in the polls due to upsets and underachieving teams. 

Before we get to the start of Week 3 games, which don't look a lot better on paper than last weekend, we want to look at where everything stands in the polls and which games are going to provide the most drama on Saturday. 

September is traditionally a slow time in college football, with teams purposely scheduling cupcakes to get their bearings straight, but we have seen the biggest upsets happen when the games didn't seem to count for much. 

 

Week 3 Games To Watch

No. 6 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina

This SEC battle is the easiest game to highlight because it's the only one of the weekend to feature two ranked teams. It also benefits from featuring Georgia's Heisman contender, running back Todd Gurley, and trying to figure out what South Carolina is. 

The Gamecocks started the season ranked in the Top 10 of both polls, proceeded to allow 52 points to a Texas A&M team that didn't have Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans or Jake Matthews in the season opener and looked sluggish defeating East Carolina last week. 

In Pete Iacobelli's preview for The Associated Press (via CBS Sports), Steve Spurrier is quoted as saying that last week's win spoke volumes about his team's mental toughness.

''It worked out for us," said Spurrier. ''Not quite as talented as some of our teams in the past, that's obvious. But the kids hung in there.''

Spurrier is at least honest in his assessment by saying that this year's Gamecocks team isn't as talented as what he had before. However, you can't help but wonder how long they can survive in the SEC based on how uninspired their first two games have been. 

One thing that figures to change for Georgia, in a positive way, is the effectiveness of Gurley in this game. As ESPN's College GameDay Twitter account noted, the star running back hasn't fared well against South Carolina in previous meetings:

The Bulldogs are coming off a bye following an impressive 45-21 win over Clemson in which they outscored the Tigers 24-0 in the second half. Gurley needed the rest after racking up 293 all-purpose yards in the victory. 

This should be an offensive slugfest with the Gamecocks averaging 30.5 points per game and allowing 37.5; Georgia's defense was on point in the second half against Clemson, but the Tigers were able to move the ball in the first half with 306 total yards. 

Until South Carolina figures out a way to stop a quality opponent, it's hard to see a scenario where Spurrier's team comes out on top against a Georgia team that's rapidly rising in the polls and national title conversation. 

 

Southern Mississippi at No. 3 Alabama

This is one of those games that's fascinating for one team, even though the outcome isn't going to be in doubt. Alabama is the superior team in every way. Nick Saban should have no problems getting the Crimson Tide to 3-0 before starting SEC play next week. 

However, the questions about Alabama's quarterback position haven't come into focus through two games. Blake Sims has solid numbers across the board with a completion percentage of 76.6, 478 yards and two touchdowns. 

Digging deeper into the numbers, via ESPN's College Football Twitter feed, Sims struggled throwing the ball down the field against West Virginia:

Jake Coker, who seemed like the favorite to be the starter before the season, looked pedestrian (at best) against Florida Atlantic. He completed 15 of 24 attempts for 202 yards and one touchdown, but Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com noted that his inability to "manage the offense, minimize mistakes" was problematic. 

Sims hasn't done anything special to separate himself from Coker, which is why Saban said in the postgame press conference last week that he would go with the player who gave the team the best chance to win without naming names. 

This is another soft week for the Crimson Tide. Southern Mississippi got shut out 49-0 against Mississippi State in Week 1, so any notion of an upset in Tuscaloosa is someone looking for attention rather than applying logic to the situation. 

Until we have a clear answer for Alabama at quarterback, this team will be one of the most difficult to assess in the country. It may be ranked third right now, but what will happen when good teams are on the other side of the field?

 

No. 12 UCLA vs. Texas (Game at AT&T Stadium)

How good is UCLA? The Bruins started the season with as much hype as they've ever had, ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll and boasting a Heisman hopeful at quarterback in Brett Hundley. Then came the ugly win against Virginia in which the defense scored three touchdowns in a 28-20 victory. 

OK, you can chalk that one up to working out the kinks from the offseason. You expect more from a Top 10 team, but at least the Bruins secured a victory. Last week, however, proved that there are real problems with this team. 

Memphis put up 35 points and 469 total yards against UCLA's defense at the Rose Bowl. Hundley held up his end of the bargain with 396 passing yards and three touchdowns, but the running game averaged 3.5 yards per carry and the defense got lit up. 

Hundley used very choice words after that game, via The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), about why UCLA was struggling.

"I think everything went pretty well today," Hundley said. "You can see when we put together a solid and complete game, we can be a special team. We hamper ourselves with mental lapses, but we can be a great team."

Mental lapses are everything in football. How many times have we talked about how great the Detroit Lions could be if they could just get out of their own way? 

Nothing about UCLA's performance thus far warrants it being ranked in the Top 15. At least things aren't as bad in Southern California as they are in Texas. Charlie Strong's first year as head coach is going about as well as Mack Brown's final season. 

The Longhorns got a give-me win in Week 1 against North Texas before getting a healthy dose of humble pie, allowing 248 rushing yards in a 41-7 loss against BYU.

It's going to be a process for Strong to get the kind of players to Texas who can run his system, but patience is not a virtue afforded to Longhorns fans. He's been put at a disadvantage with quarterback David Ash out indefinitely, but that doesn't excuse the pathetic defensive effort last week. 

With neither team looking impressive thus far, something has to give. You would expect UCLA to capitalize on a weak Texas team, but we've seen too much bad from the Bruins to guarantee that in a game that's being played in Texas. 

 

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

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NCAA Football Playoff 2014: Exploring Championship Implications of Week 3 Games

There is still a great deal that can happen between now and the end of the 2014 college football season as it relates to the College Football Playoff, but there is no question that a few teams have separated themselves in the early going.

Florida State, Oregon and Alabama are the top three teams in the nation in terms of the AP rankings, and that doesn't figure to change this week with the Seminoles idle and the other two teams going up against relative cupcakes.

Teams like Oklahoma, Georgia and Texas A&M are very much in the mix for that fourth and final CFP spot while USC, Notre Dame, LSU and UCLA are lurking just outside the picture currently.

The college football landscape changes on a weekly basis, and Week 3 certainly figures to impact the balance of power. Here is a projected look at the current CFP picture along with further analysis regarding which Week 3 games will affect it most.

 

Week 3 Games With Biggest Implications

No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 24 South Carolina

Many figured this game might be an SEC East eliminator prior to the season. It still may be, but No. 24 South Carolina has already lost once while No. 6 Georgia is very much in CFP contention. These appear to be two teams moving in different directions although the Gamecocks have defeated the Bulldogs in three out of their past four meetings.

South Carolina was absolutely thrashed by Texas A&M's offense in Week 1, and it was unconvincing in a 10-point win over East Carolina last week. Conversely, Georgia beat Clemson by 24 points in Week 1, and it is coming off an idle week, which means head coach Mark Richt has had extra time to prepare.

Above all else, though, the Bulldogs have elite running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley at their disposal. According to Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is well aware of what his team is up against.

(Gurley) is a big, strong back. Either he or the quarterback at Oregon (Marcus Mariota) are the Heisman leaders right now. But hopefully he may not be the leader, hopefully we can slow him down a little bit. But he's gonna get his yards, there's no question about that. He's going to get his yards against everybody. They ran out the last nine minutes of the game against us last year. So we certainly know what they're capable of doing.

With that said, South Carolina has been relatively successful against Gurley over the past couple years, as seen in this graphic, courtesy of College GameDay. Gurley has struggled to run against the Gamecocks more than any other team:

As evidenced by the first couple games of the season, though, this isn't the same South Carolina team that college football observers have seen in recent years. Georgia is the clear favorite even on the road, and it will improve its CFP case significantly with a win on Saturday.

 

Tennessee vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

While Oklahoma has rolled through its first two opponents this season, it has yet to be truly tested. That will change in Week 3 when the Sooners host undefeated Tennessee. The Volunteers haven't beaten top competition to get to 2-0, either, but they are an SEC team with plenty of raw talent if nothing else.

Oklahoma is favored to win the Big 12 this season, and Tennessee is the type of team it needs to beat in order to truly be a CFP contender. It is tough to peg the Sooners' strengths and weaknesses after beating Louisiana Tech and Tulsa, but quarterback Trevor Knight has been impressive after breaking out against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last season.

With over 600 total yards and four touchdowns through two games, the sophomore has proved capable of leading Oklahoma's offense. He also seems to have the intangibles that head coaches like Bob Stoops look for in their signal-callers.

Some Oklahoma supporters might be looking past Saturday night's game with even bigger encounters on the horizon, but Knight understands its importance, according to Bob Przybylo of Scout.com:

Tennessee will be a definite step up in competition for Knight and the Sooners this week. If they can clear this hurdle, then one can only assume that their confidence and spot in the CFP race will be secure for the time being.

 

No. 11 Notre Dame vs. Purdue

After routing Michigan 31-0 last week, observers are starting to recognize No. 11 Notre Dame as a legitimate CFP contender. The Fighting Irish played in the national championship game just two years ago, and they appear to be approaching that form once again.

Notre Dame shouldn't have a particularly tough game against a middling Purdue team in Week 3 although the Boilermakers could potentially surprise their rivals. While Notre Dame's defense has looked great through the first two weeks, the difference will almost certainly be quarterback Everett Golson.

The dual-threat quarterback has been doing damage through the air and on the ground with eight total touchdowns already. He has looked so good, in fact, that NBC's Cris Collinsworth has labeled him a potential Heisman Trophy candidate:

Golson is clearly a far better passer in terms of accuracy and decisiveness than he was when he led Notre Dame to the title game two seasons ago. The Irish have a sneakily difficult schedule in 2014, but they figure to be players this year.

A win over Purdue is a must, and beating the Boilermakers in convincing fashion could really bolster their CFP resume.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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College Football Playoff 2014: Final Outlook Before Saturday's Week 3 Games

Without question, the most impressive win of Week 2 was the Oregon Ducks' 46-27 victory over the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans. The Ducks were at home and expected to win, but they answered a strong first half from the Spartans by outscoring them 28-3 in the second half to make it look easy.

Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota did nothing to hurt his chances of winning the award or of remaining the top prospect for the upcoming NFL draft.

Mariota threw for 318 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against a pretty solid Spartans defense.

The win impressed voters in the Associated Press poll so much, the Ducks leapfrogged the Alabama Crimson Tide and took over the No. 2 spot in the rankings. Alabama defeated the Florida Atlantic Owls 41-0, but it struggled a bit in Week 1 against the unranked West Virginia Mountaineers. 

Apparently, that was enough to make the Tide vulnerable.

Would it be enough to push Bama out of the College Football Playoff if it began today? That's unlikely. Bama would still likely keep its edge over the bevy of other undefeated teams in the country for the third or fourth spot.

Here's the way the top-four teams should look at this point.

1. Florida State

2. Oregon

3. Alabama

4. Oklahoma

The distance between the Tide and teams like the Texas A&M Aggies, who have been downright scary in two games, is not very wide. Because of the parity, Week 4 should be interesting. It will bring about a whole new load of questions and answers as we make our way to the final four teams that will compete for the national championship.

Here's a look at the games from Week 3 that could have the biggest impact in the playoff picture.

 

No. 9 USC Trojans at Boston College Eagles

As one of those highly regarded undefeated teams, USC can't afford to slip up early if it hopes to make the top four. The Pac-12 is stacked this season with Oregon, UCLA and Stanford. A conference loss down the road is near inevitable.

Losing an unexpected nonconference game could kill the team's chances.

The Trojans came away with a huge road win against the Stanford Cardinal in Week 2, but they must guard against a letdown on the road at Boston College. 

The young Trojans defense will be without disgraced defensive back Josh Shaw indefinitely and linebacker Hayes Pullard for the first half. Shaw admitted to lying about trying to save his drowning nephew. Pullard was ejected from the Stanford game for targeting, which carries a subsequent suspension.

The defense must be prepared and ready to step up the way it did against Stanford.

Boston College senior quarterback Tyler Murphy has been quite the dual threat for the Eagles. In two games, he's racked up 210 yards rushing and two scores. If he and the Eagles can find a way to run the ball against USC, it could make for some anxious moments.

 

No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs at No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks are on their way out of the Top 25. The team hasn't looked good yet this season. That said, they are still ranked and will be when the Bulldogs invade the Palmetto state.

Based on the way Todd Gurley and the Bulldogs ran the ball in Week 1 against Clemson, the team shouldn't have a problem moving the chains on the ground against the Gamecocks.

South Carolina is allowing an average of 150 yards per game on the ground through two contests, and it hasn't faced a rushing attack anywhere near what it'll see with Gurley.

A dominant win from Georgia will put it right on the cusp of breaking into the top four with two wins over ranked opponents. If one of the top teams should fall, Georgia will be a prime candidate to move up.

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College Football Picks Week 3: Final Predictions on Odds for Top 25 Matchups

College fantasy football may not be the most popular thing on the planet, but fans can still get their fix on Saturdays and make the most meaningless contest and even garbage-time touchdowns important by throwing some coin on the table in the odds department.

Spreads at the collegiate level are much more volatile than the pro game, too. This certainly applies to the Top 25 this week, as only a single game between ranked opponents resides on the slate.

The other top programs in the country (for now at least) have mostly booked uninteresting matchups made noteworthy thanks to massive spreads that may or may not turn out to be accurate.

Below, let's look at the entire slate and break down a few of the lesser-known games.

 

2014 College Football Week 3 Top 25 Odds

Note: All odds, updated as of 8 p.m. on Sept. 12, are courtesy of Odds Shark. AP poll via The Associated Press.

 

Breaking Down Underrated Matchups

No. 20 Missouri Tigers (-9) vs. UCF Knights

One of the closer spreads this week is laid out as such for good reason.

Missouri has been explosive through two games this season, but question marks remain as Gary Pinkel's side gets ready for a potential run in the SEC.

Maty Mauk seems comfortable under center as the starter, throwing a total of eight touchdowns in Missour's first two wins against South Dakota State and Toledo. Pinkel is impressed with his sophomore signal-caller, to say the least.

"He's a very poised guy," Pinkel said, per STATS LLC, via ESPN.com. "Plus he's a great competitor and that's what great quarterbacks are made of. He's only going to get better and better with more experience."

The concern for the Tigers, then, comes on the defensive side of the football. The unit gave up 365 total yards to the Jackrabbits, then turned around and gave up 410 and 24 points to the Rockets.

Luckily for Pinkel's team, UCF has questions of its own.

The Knights are 0-1 to start the season, mostly because a matchup against Penn State was a bad draw and—more importantly—the team had to travel a ridiculous amount, the game being in Dublin and all.

Pete DiNovo was the starter for the Knights before getting benched in the eventual 26-24 loss. Justin Holman is now the man under center, and his versatility—he threw for 204 yards and added a score with two more touchdowns on the ground—is enough to give a shaky Tigers defense fits.

The saving grace for Missouri is that this contest comes at home and there is now plenty of film to digest when it comes to Holman. Without his surprise entrance that the Nittany Lions had to deal with, Mauk should be able to help his side cover the spread.

Prediction: Missouri 42, UCF 23

 

Stanford Cardinal (-27.5) vs. Army Black Knights

David Shaw's teams have never been known as offensive juggernauts. He loves to employ a dominant defense and control the pace of the game in gritty, low-scoring affairs. So the spread here is worthy of skepticism.

Especially given the circumstances.

Last week, at home no less, the Cardinal were downed by USC, 13-10. Shaw's team struggled to get going on the ground, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, and his offense gave the ball away twice and missed two field goals.

The potential for a letdown is obvious, especially with Army coming to town. Jeff Monken's team will surely give any and all programs fits because of a potent triple-option attack. Last week the approach willed Army to a 47-39 victory over Buffalo, racking up 466 yards in the process—341 of which came on the ground.

To his credit, Shaw seems well aware of the task at hand despite the potentially season-crippling loss less than a week ago. Andy Drukarev of Rivals.com captured his feelings on the matter early in the week:

We have to get ready for the triple option,.We have to get ready for the ball going a bunch of different directions. Last year's experience I think helps us but this is a different coaching staff, it's kind of a different deal offensively for them. They've added some things, they've subtracted some things. It's going to be a good week for the defense to really prepare for these guys.

Army rushed for 284 yards on a 4.7 per-carry average last season but still lost 34-20. 

Bettors should worry a bit about the wealth of blown opportunities that ruined the Cardinal last season. If Army can run that effectively again this time around, plus get a few breaks from Shaw's relatively young squad, the spread is out of the question.

Prediction: Stanford 38, Army 20

 

Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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College Football Rankings 2014: Final Overview of Week 3 Standings

The heart of the Week 3 college football schedule is finally upon us, and fans of the sport are looking to check the rankings one last time before the top teams take the field.

With many of the best programs in the nation going to battle on Saturday like Oregon, Alabama and Georgia, college football fans will be treated to a day full of marquee matchups.

Here are the full Amway coaches', Associated Press and Bleacher Report Top 25 polls, followed by a breakdown of the matchup fans can’t miss in Week 3.

 

 

Game of the Week: Georgia vs. South Carolina

There are several intriguing matchups in Week 3, but none will be as entertaining as or more important than the SEC battle between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams Brice Stadium.

Both teams are ranked in all three polls.

The official Twitter of the Bulldogs revealed the vital viewing information for this game:

Georgia is the betting favorite to win this matchup, according to OddsShark.com, and for good reason after beating Clemson in decisive fashion in Week 1.

Bulldogs senior quarterback Hutson Mason was not asked to do much in the first game due to the elite play of junior running back Todd Gurley, who ran the ball 15 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns.

South Carolina has a much tougher run defense than Clemson, and Georgia will be forced to air the ball out more on Saturday. With a wide receiver like Michael Bennett healthy and ready to make an impact, Mason should be able to make big plays down the field.

Add in the animosity these two SEC East rivals have, and the winner of the Week 3 matchup will have serious momentum heading into the remainder of the regular-season schedule.

When asked about the rivalry, Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier told Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press (via ABCNews.com) “We don't have a whole lot of rivals. We haven't beaten anybody enough to have rivals.”

While the betting favorite is Georgia, Fox College Football believe two players could help lead South Carolina to a victory, according to a post from their official Twitter account:

The players Fox mentioned in the photo above are running back Mike Davis and wide receiver Shaq Roland, but the team has the depth to challenge the Bulldogs for the win.

Not only is Davis one of the top running backs in the country, but the team also has Brandon Wilds as another threat out of the backfield.

Roland is also not alone in the wide receiver group, either. He has help from talented players like Pharoh Cooper and Nick Jones, and the trio gives quarterback Dylan Thompson the chance to shine. After the QB only threw for 266 yards and one touchdown against East Carolina in Week 2, expect a bounce-back performance from the senior.

As talented as South Carolina is on the offensive side of the ball, the edge in this matchup goes to Georgia. The Bulldogs have a superior rushing attack and will be able to control the pace of the game and the clock.

The Gamecocks have a serviceable defense, but after allowing 52 points to Texas A&M and 23 points to East Carolina, Georgia should be able to put up big points in Week 3.

Ride with the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Predicted Winner: Georgia 40, South Carolina 30

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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Baylor vs. Buffalo: Game Grades, Analysis for the Bears

It wasn't much of a game.  As expected, the Baylor Bears jumped out to a big first quarter lead and never looked back.  The Buffalo Bulls were completely over-matched and the Bears were able to put up 63 points on the scoreboard.

Despite an impressive offensive display, there are still things head coach Art Briles will want to work on before Big 12 conference play gets underway in a couple of  weeks.  We'll also be taking a look at Baylor's performance here, grading each segment of the Bears' team to try and determine where those improvements need to be made.  

Box score via NCAA.com

 

Pass Offense

There's not much here that should surprise anyone.  Bryce Petty threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns.  His backup, nearly equally impressive Seth Russell, went just 2-of-3 for 64 yards, but added another touchdown.

K.D. Cannon?  Yeah, he's the real deal.  He had six receptions for a whopping 189 yards and a touchdown.  Still rocking that 30+ yard per catch average, and a lot of it is coming in yards after catch.

A few drops are enough for us to give the pass offense an "A-," but still very impressive. 

 

Run Offense

The run game isn't always the mark of a Baylor offense, but the Bears kept the Bulls honest with some strong runs tonight.  Shock Linwood had 97 yards on 20 carries along with two touchdowns.  Johnny Jefferson and Seth Russell also added ground scores.

Overall, 189 yards and four touchdowns in more than enough to earn an "A," but some early shaky play from the Baylor offensive line—an often overlooked but important part of the run game—convinces us that the run offense only deserves an "A-" tonight.

 

Pass Defense

The pass defense held Buffalo to 255 yards and two scores through the air, but some of that lackluster output from the Bulls had nothing to do with the Bears' secondary.  Dropped passes were the bane of the Bulls all evening.

Still, the Bears weren't bad, necessarily, and there were some great defensive plays made from some role players (particularly backups late in the game).  We'll settle on a very solid "B+."

 

Run Defense

The Bears gave up 139 yards on the ground, and most of that came in the second half with two's and three's on the field for the Bears.  As halftime neared, the Bulls were struggling to reach 100 total yards of offensive output, and the run defense played a major role in that.

Shawn Oakman and Jamal Palmer were all over the field, keeping the Buffalo run game at bay, freeing up the Baylor secondary to do its thing in the pass game.  This one's pretty simple: an "A."

 

Special Teams

Here is where it could get ugly for Baylor.

Can no one kick on this team?  No wonder Baylor goes for it on fourth down.  Missing a 36-yard field goal from the middle of the field with no rain, no wind, no nothing is absolutely inexcusable.  Kicking a kickoff out-of-bounds is also inexcusable.

The return game wasn't given an opportunity to show its stuff as the Bulls smartly kicked away from the returners.  Baylor averaged just 0.5 yards on two punt returns and nine yards on four kick returns.

We can't give extra credit simply because the stars in the return game didn't get a chance to shine.  So we think we're being generous with a "D+."  The only reason this grade isn't worse is the fact that Baylor's two kickers combined for 9-for-9 on extra points (and a few were just barely good).

 

Coaching

The only complaint we have with Art Briles and his staff is the fact that he left Bryce Petty in the game a bit longer that we would have thought, given the fractured back bones and all.

Still, when a team wins 63-21, it's hard to harp on the coach too much.  A solid "A-" for the coaching staff here.

 

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

Follow Bleacher Report's National College Football Featured Columnist David Luther on Twitter!

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Gunner Kiel vs. Toledo: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Making his Cincinnati debut on Friday night, Gunner Kiel ended any trace of a quarterback controversy by carving up Toledo's defense during a 58-34 victory.

The Notre Dame transfer, getting the nod for the Bearcats' season debut, went off for 418 passing yards and six touchdowns. 

According to SportsCenter's Twitter handle, his total of six TD passes sets a college football record among debuting quarterbacks.

He also tied a school record in the process, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info.

The sophomore displayed remarkable accuracy, completing 67.6 percent of his passes. He also mixed in a few long completions, including a 52-yard catch-and-run to Mekale McKay and a 41-yarder to Johnny Holton.

At one point during the opening half, he had more touchdowns than incompletions, per SportsCenter.

ESPN College Football's Twitter page shows his fourth touchdown of the evening, an 11-yard strike to Nate Cole.

And to think Kiel engaged in a battle for the starting job with senior Munchie Legaux and junior Jarred Evans. After Sunday's practice, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's Tom Groeschen that he's not overly concerned about who starts games, but rather who ends them.

"I know it's a competition, but all three of us have the same goal in mind, and that's to play," Kiel said. "For us it doesn't matter who starts; it's who's going to finish the game for us. We're all friends, we all get along, we all watch tape. It's all positive."

After Friday's rousing performance, he'll certainly do both going forward, pending another blowout.

Next on the schedule, Cincinnati has 0-2 Miami (Ohio), which surrendered 261 yards and three touchdowns to Marshall's Rakeem Cato two weeks ago. Then Kiel will receive the first significant test of his career against the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have slipped down the rankings after losing injured quarterback Braxton Miller for the season.

As of now, the former 247Sports 5-star recruit looks well worth the wait.

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College Football Picks Week 3: Odds to Avoid from Top 25 Slate

Parity seems to be sweeping the world of college football by the year.

It sure isn't in the Vegas odds department.

No, college lines are as difficult to figure out as the ludicrous, thankfully extinct BCS system. It applies to most games in most weeks, but this week seems to be worse than most thanks to the big schools of the Top 25 choosing to beat up on the little guys.

For those who straight-up pick games, it's an easy affair. For those who bet spreads and have to deal with the eye-popping margins, it can be an exercise in patience and stress management.

Below, let's nail down a few games to ignore outright after a look at the entire weekend lineup.

 

2014 College Football Week 3 Top 25 Odds

Note: All odds, updated as of 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 12, are courtesy of Odds Shark. AP poll via The Associated Press.

 

Odds to Avoid

No. 9 USC Trojans (-20) vs. Boston College

The Steve Sarkisian era is underway in full force after the USC Trojans did what most figured they couldn't last week by rolling into The Farm and taking down the then-ranked No. 13 Stanford Cardinal, 13-10—essentially beating David Shaw at his own game.

For bettors who have been around the block, alarm bells just went off in a major way. Why? A couple of reasons:

  • Letdown potential after a season-defining win.
  • A first-year coach just nailed that season-defining win and has to stay the course in the aftermath.
  • All of that taken into consideration, trips across the country are never easy.

Feel free to add in the fact that Boston College is not that horrible.

Sure, Matt Ryan isn't under center, but the Eagles have the firepower to hang around if Sarkisian's widely heralded attack made famous at Washington slips up.

Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Murphy threw for 173 yards and a touchdown in a 30-7 win over Massachusetts to start the season but added another 118 yards and a score on the ground. It was much of the same in a 30-20 loss to Pittsburgh, as Murphy went for 134 yards and a score through the air and 92 yards and a score on the ground.

As Michael Lev of OCRegister.com notes, Sarkisian is all about containing Murphy this week:

Of course, the schools before him attempted to plan against Murphy as well, and it clearly didn't work out so hot.

Look, nobody is suggesting USC is going to lose outright, but a wealth of factors say a borderline three-touchdown spread is a bit much. For at least one week, steer clear of the Trojans when it comes to the spread—even if they made a certain segment of fans a large amount of coin last week via an upset.

Prediction: USC 38, Boston College 21

 

No. 21 Louisville (-10) vs. Virginia

On one hand, this seems to be a perfect spread.

Sans Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville still has a pretty potent offense that put up 66 points against Murray State (for what it's worth) and took down Miami (Fla.) to start the season, 31-13.

In that contest, quarterback Will Gardner misfired just eight times and threw for 206 yards and pair of scores. Running back Dominique Brown, otherwise known as a superb workhorse, took 33 totes for 143 yards and a score.

But be careful to not simply dismiss Virginia, especially at home.

The Cavaliers are known for strong defense, as always, and put that on full display against Richmond last week in a 45-13 drubbing (again, for what it's worth, although seven takeaways is mightily impressive). But what should really catch the eye of bettors is the job the defense did to start the season against then-ranked No. 7 UCLA.

In that game, Mike London's team held a prolific Bruins offense to 358 total yards and a 7-of-18 mark on third downs. Most impressive of all was the job done to Heisman contender Brett Hundley, who threw for just 242 yards and no scores.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is well aware of the problems the unit can cause.

"They have two really active defensive ends and a couple good guys inside that push the pocket, so most of their turnovers have come as a result of pressuring the quarterback and either the quarterback fumbling the ball or having to throw under pressure and have an interception," Petrino said, per STATS LLC, via ESPN.com.

It's concerning, then, that Gardner remains a work in progress, as Jeff Greer of The Courier-Journal in Louisville illustrates:

Like I said above, Gardner's had a couple of good-not-great performances so far. He hasn't thrown a pick, but he has missed a few throws. His inside-his-own-10 fumbles were cause for concern against Miami, and I'm not ready to declare Murray State anything other than a glorified practice, so his progress will be evident on Saturday.

So the Cardinals hit the road with a developing player under center and encounter a great defense. Again, it is not to suggest that Louisville will lose outright, but is the spread really worth a significant investment when gains in this sort of pursuit are based on smart risks?

Probably not.

Prediction: Louisville 30, Virginia 24

 

Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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Amari Cooper and Alabama Teammates Get Stuck in an Elevator

Alabama is scheduled to do battle with Southern Miss on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

Hopefully, all the Crimson Tide players will be accounted for.

According to an Instagram post by Alabama WR Amari Cooper, some team members got trapped in an elevator.

WARNING: Some language is NSFW

Let's hope everyone makes it to tomorrow's game.

[Amari Cooper, h/t College Spun]

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Baylor vs. Buffalo: Live Score and Highlights

Baylor 28, Buffalo 0—Early 2nd Quarter

The No. 10 Baylor Bears travel to the University of Buffalo to take on the Bulls.  The Bulls are coming off of a 47-39 loss to Army and come into the contest at 1-1.  Baylor, which defeated FCS Northwestern State last week, has started 2-0 for the fifth consecutive season.

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Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. UTSA Roadrunners: Complete Game Preview

On September 6, the Oklahoma State Cowboys lost J.W. Walsh early on in their contest against the Missouri State Bears. Luckily, Walsh's backup, Daxx Garman, was able to shake off the rust from not playing a snap since 2009 very quickly and lead the Pokes to a 40-23 victory.

Garman looked excellent last weekend, and he'll have the chance to prove that performance was no fluke with Walsh possibly out for the season, according to Jake Trotter of ESPN.com. However, Garman has a much tougher test in front of him this week in the UTSA Roadrunners.

UTSA boasts a stout defense and took the Arizona Wildcats to the wire in their matchup last week. They'll be looking to do the same against the Cowboys and should be a solid test for Oklahoma State's young offensive line.

This game looks like it could be much closer than a casual fan might assume. The Cowboys will need to earn this one.

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Noah Spence Failing Another Drug Test Huge Blow to Already Down Ohio State

When Braxton Miller went down for the season with a torn labrum, he became the seventh first-team All-Big Ten media selection that Ohio State lost from a year ago.

Now an eighth Buckeye standout could be joining that list.

After failing his second drug test in a year, reports Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch, defensive end Noah Spence's return to college football was put on hold on Friday when Ohio State confirmed that he will be ineligible for Saturday's contest between the Buckeyes and Kent State.

It's unclear how long Spence's presumed second suspension will last—ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reports that Big Ten rules would dictate that a second failed drug test would result in the permanent end of his eligibility—but this much we do know: For the foreseeable future, the Buckeyes will be without their all-conference defensive end.

“We are hopeful that Noah can get healthy and, at some point, resume his career with the Buckeyes," Spence's parents told The Dispatch.

Another day, another blow for the Buckeyes, who were already licking their wounds following last week's 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech.

With the struggling Golden Flashes coming to town and a bye week to follow, Ohio State was hoping to head into its week off with positive momentum, but no blowout victory on Saturday will be able to overshadow the news that one of the Buckeyes' best defensive players has had his college career again put on hold.

On the one hand, the loss of Spence isn't as crippling to Ohio State's championship aspirations as Miller's injury was, given that the Buckeyes are plenty deep on the defensive line and have already spent two weeks preparing and playing without the 6'3", 252-pounder. But on the other, talent is talent, and Spence has plenty of it.

A former 5-star prospect, per 247Sports, Spence came to Columbus in 2012 as the nation's top-ranked defensive end. He saw playing time in spot duty as a true freshman during Ohio State's run to a 12-0 record, before breaking out with 50 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks in his sophomore season.

Ineligible to play in the Orange Bowl due to his first failed drug test, Spence's family claimed he had been unknowingly slipped Ecstasy at a party and even contemplated suing the Big Ten. At Big Ten media days in July, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said that he was "shocked" when he heard that his star defensive end had tested positive for the drug.

"It hit him really hard," Meyer said. "I believe him. His story is that he's been nothing but a good student and a model citizen."

At the very least, Meyer was duped by Spence's story that his drink was spiked, as were his parents, who told The Dispatch that their son has a "medical illness." What's most important for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, native now is getting his personal life back on track, before attempting a return to the football field—whenever and wherever that may be.

From an Ohio State standpoint, what could have been the greatest defensive line in school history becomes a little less great now that it no longer knows how long it will be without its most productive member.

Steve Miller has been solid in Spence's absence and Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington make for an already dominant trio at the other spots on the line, but there's still no making up for the Spence, who has been projected as a first-round pick in next May's NFL draft.

"Noah's a very talented player," Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash said earlier this week. "He fits well in our scheme. He has a tremendous ability to get after the quarterback, and I think [his return is] going to help us a lot."

But it now appears that help may never come. And for a team already at a crossroads early in its season, the Buckeyes could certainly use all the help that they can get.

 

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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Oregon Football: Ducks Only Scratching the Surface of Their Potential

It’s hard to get off to a better start to a season than the Oregon Ducks have in 2014. The desecration of South Dakota in the season opener was expected. A follow-up performance against Michigan State, especially in the second half, was not. 

The Ducks are riding high after a 28-3 post-halftime performance against the Spartans. While the final box score will show that Oregon took home a 19-point victory, it is a fact that the point differential does not tell the entire story.

What we do know is this: The Oregon Ducks are one of the finest college football teams in the nation, and they have a real shot at claiming a national title this season. What we don’t know is how much better this Oregon team can be. Or do we?

The Oregon Ducks, in my opinion, are just scratching the surface of their potential. Here’s why:

 

The Youth Movement

Despite the fact that the Ducks are considered one of the best teams in the nation, and rightfully so, they are inexperienced on both sides of the ball.

The defense was forced to replace six starters from the 2013 team, while the offense had to replace its top four receivers from last year. On top of that, Oregon’s offensive line has been hit by the injury bug, pressing the team to use inexperienced replacements, such as true freshman Tyrell Crosby.

While the Ducks may lack experience at some key positions, the young guns have made an imprint on the program and established themselves as not only effective but also dynamic.

The stars of the youth movement have been mostly on the offensive side. True freshman running back Royce Freeman, who has only carried the ball 23 times, is already Oregon’s most explosive running back and may be the featured back as soon as this week.

While sophomore Thomas Tyner and junior Byron Marshall have played decently, especially Marshall, Freeman has made the most of his opportunities, scoring four touchdowns already this season, including two game-changing scores in the second half against Michigan State.

The young wide receivers, Devon Allen and Darren Carrington, have been impressive as well.

Carrington has proved to be an excellent downfield receiver with strong hands. His 69-yard catch-and-run against Michigan State proved that he is capable of getting separation from the secondary.

However, Oregon’s most impressive receiver so far this season has been Allen, who caught three balls against Michigan State for 110 yards and two touchdowns, including a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown that was simply jaw-dropping.

Allen, who won the NCAA’s 110-meter hurdle title as a freshman last year, may be the fastest receiver in the entire country. Mark Helfrich quipped that Allen’s performance in the 110-meter hurdles “might have been too fast” in his weekly teleconference.

Oregon’s inexperienced players will only get better as the season moves forward. That’s a scary proposition for Pac-12 opponents.

 

Defensive Cohesion 

The Ducks came into the season with questions on defense. Not only were they only returning five starters from the 2013 team but they were also bringing in a new defensive coordinator in longtime assistant coach Don Pellum.

While Oregon’s defense was downright horrendous in the second quarter of the Michigan State game, the other seven quarters so far this season have been nothing short of fantastic.

In the second quarter against the Spartans, the Ducks gave up 24 points, failed to put any pressure on quarterback Connor Cook and couldn’t stop Michigan State in 3rd-and-long situations. However, take out that second quarter and you’re left with the fact that the Ducks have only allowed 16 points, and a single touchdown, in the other seven quarters this season.

The young defense, led by All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, rose to the occasion and blitzed Michigan State’s offense after halftime. It won the turnover battle for the second-straight game and finally got consistent pressure in the backfield. Dan Woike of the Orange County Register commented on the defense's performance:

Players such as defensive tackle Arik Armstead, defensive end DeForest Buckner, linebackers Tyson Coleman and Joe Walker, and cornerback Troy Hill played like four-year starters in the second half.

The defense is only going to grow and get better as the season goes along. Pellum, only in his second game as defensive coordinator, proved that he is extremely apt at making halftime corrections. He too is only going to get better as the season progresses.

Sure, there are mistakes to be corrected and concerns with some of the young defenders. However, if the first two games are a baseline for Oregon’s defensive prowess, it’s going to be a long year for opposing offenses.

 

Mark Helfrich 

Helfrich, who is in his second year as head coach, was questioned relentlessly in the media for his performance in 2013. Yes, he went 11-2, and the Ducks finished the season ranked ninth in the country. However, a loss to Stanford last November cast a cloud over his ability to prepare his team mentally and physically for premiere matchups.

Then came the Arizona game. That game didn’t just cast a cloud over Helfrich’s abilities; it created a thunderstorm.

That loss in Tuscon, by the egregious score of 42-16, led to serious questioning of Helfrich and whether or not he was the right choice to succeed the indomitable Chip Kelly as head coach of the Ducks was asked ad nauseam.

Helfrich took those losses in stride. Now, two games into his second year, Helfrich has proved he can not only coach the Ducks in high-pressure situations, but he is also fully capable of getting the best out of his team in moments of chaos.

The Ducks, down 27-18 early in the third quarter to Michigan State, could have folded as they’ve done before against Stanford, Arizona, LSU and Boise State, to name a few.

However, Helfrich led his guys onto the field in the second half with the knowledge they were the better team and were fully capable of not only beating the Spartans, but they could also dominate the game on both sides of the ball. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports spoke favorably about the Ducks under Helfrich's leadership:

No one knows outside of the Ducks' locker room what Helfrich said at halftime, though he called his halftime speech “Gettysburg Addressish.” But the second half results speak for itself.

Helfrich is only growing as a head coach. There’s no doubt he’s learning on the job and adapting to the position. But he’s heading in the right direction. That’s a great sign for the Ducks going forward.

Just remember that Chip Kelly’s first year began with a loss to Boise State and ended with a loss in the Rose Bowl to Ohio State. In his second year he took the Ducks to their first-ever trip to the national championship. A repeat second-year coaching performance may be in the cards for Helfrich.

It also helps that he has one of the best players in the nation leading his team.

 

The Contender

Great teams usually take on the identity of either their head coach or their star player. In this case, the 2014 Oregon Ducks have assumed the personality and identity of their best player, Heisman Trophy front-runner Marcus Mariota.

While Mariota is a cerebral person who doesn’t like the spotlight on him, he is one of the most fiercely competitive athletes on the planet, just ask his mom about his video-game fits as a child.

"As a kid he would throw controllers in his room," Alana Mariota said in a 2012 interview with Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. "I would tell him, 'You dent my wall, and you're in big trouble.'"

While he’s likely done throwing video-game controllers at the wall, his competitive spirit remains.

The 2014 Ducks, at least so far, have assumed that maniacal competitiveness, while simultaneously focusing on the team and the future rather than basking in the individual spotlight. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit tweeted about Mariota embracing the "team concept":

While there is a lot of football left to be played, Mariota is off to a fantastic start. The scary part for Pac-12 teams and the rest of the nation is that he has a ton of room to grow and is only going to get better as his young offensive line develops into a stronger unit, pending injuries, and his inexperienced wide receivers mature.

Mariota has played incredibly well this season and put on a show in the second half against Michigan State. It was his finest hour. However, outside of two long throws he hit, he struggled in the first half against the Spartans' strong defense.

Mariota’s ability to think critically in high-pressure situations and make plays with his arm and legs while chaos surrounds him is what sets him apart.

The Ducks are the second-ranked team in the nation right now, according to The Associated Press, and they already have the best nonconference win in the country under their belts. But these Ducks are just scratching the surface of their potential.

If the Ducks reach their potential this season, something they’ve failed to do in years past, there could be a parade in Eugene come mid-January.

 

Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow him on twitter @TheSportsGuy33. 

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