NCAA Football

Georgia vs. South Carolina: Live Score and Highlights

 

Early First Quarter

Georgia 10, South Carolina 7

After a long weather delay, things are finally getting under way.  Which team can seize control early in this clash of SEC East titans?

Both teams relied on their passing attacks to score on opening drives, but a South Carolina turnover resulted in a Georgia field goal for the lead.  This could be a shootout.

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Miami (OH) vs. Michigan: Live Score and Highlights

Michigan 17, Miami (Ohio) 10, Early 3rd Quarter

The Red Hawks are hanging with Michigan, which hasn't lost at home in September under coach Brady Hoke.

Alert: Devin Funchess is not dressed for the game. More to come as details become clear. 

 

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

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JT Barrett vs. Kent State: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

After a miserable performance against Virginia Tech, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett turned things around against Kent State to lead the team to a 66-0 win.

The freshman completed just 31 percent of his passes while throwing three interceptions in a Week 2 loss. However, he bounced back with 312 passing yards and six touchdowns before coming out of the game early in the second half. Five of those scores came in an incredible first half as the Buckeyes built up a 45-0 lead.

Barrett look good early as the Buckeyes were able to score on the first drive less than two minutes into the game:

When he found Rod Smith for an eight-yard touchdown on the next possession, Brandon Castel of The-Ozone.net noted it was much easier against this defense:

Despite the weaker opponent, Barrett still showed his ability as he simply could not be stopped. After Smith ran in a touchdown, the quarterback went right back to work with three touchdown passes in the second quarter.

ESPN Stats and Info noted the difference between this performance and what he showed earlier in the season:

Jonathan Hull of the Times Record News provided his thoughts as the strong play continued:

Even the mistakes were not as bad as it seemed. He threw one interception, but Mike Hall of the Big Ten Network noted it was not his fault:

ESPN's College Gameday notes that Barrett wasn't the only quarterback this season to have a dominant half of football:

Bleacher Report's Michael Felder liked a lot of what he saw from the young passer, comparing him to UCLA's Brett Hundley:

He was also impressed by the quarterback's ability to go through his progressions:

After adding another score in the second half, he put himself in the record books next to another "fill-in" quarterback, according to Brent Yarina of BTN.com:

He is also in rare territory as a passer for the Buckeyes, as the school's Twitter account notes:

Terrelle Pryor also threw for 300 yards in 2010 but the records have since been removed.

Barrett ended up coming out of the game early in the third quarter as Cardale Jones got his chance to shine, but this was an impressive showing for a quarterback who received a lot of criticism early in the week.

Fans were ready to give up on the freshman after the home loss to Ohio State, but it is clear Barrett has a lot of talent. Even against a mediocre opponent, it is hard not to be impressed with some of the throws he made.

If he can find more consistency, the Buckeyes should be in good shape going forward as they look to survive without starting quarterback Braxton Miller.

 

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

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Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford Hauls in Diving Touchdown Catch vs. ECU

One week after upsetting Ohio State in Columbus, Virginia Tech looks to have a win hangover, as it allowed the first 21 points of the game to East Carolina. 

But Isaiah Ford's touchdown at the end of the first half to get Tech on the board was nothing short of amazing. 

It looks like the ball hit the ground, but the play was reviewed and upheld as a touchdown catch. 

[FanSided, gifdsports]

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Purdue vs. Notre Dame: Live Score and Highlights

It’s the battle of the Shillelagh Trophy as No. 11 Notre Dame takes on Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in the series finale. The game will be broadcast on NBC, and it will kick off at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

The Fighting Irish are looking to win their seventh straight against the Boilermakers. Quarterback Everett Golson leads the Irish with 521 passing yards and five touchdowns through the first two games.

Purdue started the season with a 43-34 win against Western Michigan. However, it did not have the same success against Central Michigan. The defense missed 17 tackles en route to a 38-17 loss.

Be sure to come back to this blog when the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates, highlights and analysis.

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Is Houston Still Contender in American Athletic Conference After Rough Start?

The Houston Cougars have lost two of their first three games to open the 2014 season. Their lone win, a 47-0 shellacking of Grambling State at home, was notched against a winless Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FCS) school.

Down 23-0 late in the first half, Houston’s comeback bid fell short against BYU on Saturday. BYU escaped in front of their home crowd with a 33-25 win.

Obviously, things are not going as planned for head coach Tony Levine. After opening the season, as well as Houston’s new home, TDECU Stadium, with a 27-7 program-injuring loss to the University of Texas at San Antonio, Houston fans were akin to a big, red balloon being pricked by a pin: All the air of 2014 hopes and expectations flew out of them in one giant pop.

So if Houston fans entered the season with high aspirations of their team earning a bid to the newly formatted college football playoff system or one of the four lucrative selection committee bowl games, those dreams certainly have dissipated by now.

Houston just hasn’t executed well enough to be one of college football’s elite teams this season. In order to accomplish something like that, a team has to have all its biggest issues sorted out well before the opening game. Houston didn’t.

But Houston remains in the hunt for the American Athletic Conference title. They remain 0-0 in that dogfight, and there were some positive signs over the last two games to give Houston fans hope going forward.

Houston’s offense hasn’t been what it should be this season. Whatever the reason—sophomore quarterback John O’Korn’s erratic play or new offensive coordinator Travis Bush’s lack of ingenuity—the Coogs’ high-flying offense has mostly been grounded so far.

But in Saturday’s loss to BYU, Houston’s ailing offense showed signs of new life. O’Korn had his best game of the season. He appeared accurate and in control. He threw for 307 yards on 30-of-52 pass attempts with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Simply put, O’Korn played like the quarterback everyone thought he could be this year after he led all true freshman in passing touchdowns last season. He made plays all over the field and throws only the very elite among pigskin hurlers can make—none better than a his 45-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Spencer as time expired in the first half.

Moreover, Houston’s offense appeared to improve as an overall unit.

If offensive coordinator Bush was in over his head at the beginning of the season, he didn’t appear to be drowning against BYU. Houston’s offense moved the ball and made big plays when it had to.  

No, this wasn’t the Air Raid offense Houston fans enjoyed under previous coordinators Dana Holgorsen, Kliff Kingsbury or even Doug Meacham. But Bush’s multiple-set spread offense looked like something that could actually work, and that’s more than the Cougars had going for them at the season’s start.

And Houston still has one more game to work on things before conference play begins. Houston hosts UNLV Sept. 20—their final nonconference game before AAC play begins.

In contrast to the continued evolution of a functioning offense, other facets of Houston's play regressed against BYU. Their special teams unit in particular lacked discipline and technique in Saturday's loss. In fact, Houston’s kicking game accounted for one missed field goal and two missed extra points—that’s five points left off the scoreboard in a game that was close for most of the second half.

Levine, a former special teams coordinator, has to get his unit back on track.

But let’s face it, while the AAC is the best non-Power Five conference in the nation, it’s not exactly the SEC. Houston has the overall talent to compete with any team in the AAC right now, and improved execution could slot them right in with the conference’s best teams: Cincinnati, Central Florida and East Carolina.

After the BYU loss, Houston players and coaches seemed resilient.

"You have to give a lot of credit to our team for not giving up and not folding. We just kept fighting," linebacker Derrick Matthews told the Associated Press.

Levine echoed the same to the Houston Chronicle’s Jody Genessy:

A loss is a loss. However, I will say coming into a hostile environment, playing a Top 25 team and falling behind 23-0 and never losing confidence or composure on the sidelines, battling back and having an opportunity to come back and tie the game late, I was proud of our student-athletes, our staff and our coaches.

Houston fans haven’t had much to be confident about so far this year. Nor have many of them maintained their composure. Houston message boards are rife with angry messages over the team’s poor start, and a website dedicated to firing Levine already has come out of the woodwork, too.

Fans are mad.

But Houston’s players and coaches seem to have their minds made up. They believe they can still compete for the AAC crown. They believe they can still become bowl eligible. They believe they can still make their season mean something.

And they can. They just need to do it.

 

 

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ESPN 'College GameDay' Headed to Tallahassee for Clemson vs. FSU in Week 4

ESPN's College GameDay is heading to the home of the reigning national champions in Week 4 to see Florida State take on conference rival Clemson in one of the premier ACC contests of the 2014 season.

The show's official Twitter feed broke the news:

This particular matchup is a popular one with the pregame show, as Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard were in Death Valley last fall to watch the Seminoles take on the Tigers in what was supposed to be the biggest test of the season for Jimbo Fisher's club. The exam didn't last long, as quarterback Jameis Winston and company dominated from the get-go, routing Dabo Swinney's team, 51-14.

Clemson opened up the 2014 season in disappointing fashion, falling at Georgia 45-21. The Tigers rebounded with a 73-7 victory over South Carolina State of the FCS, and they'll have the benefit of an extra week off to prepare for the No. 1 team in the nation.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, Florida State will have Week 3 off as well after opening the season with a 37-31 victory over Oklahoma State and following it up with a ho-hum 37-12 win against Citadel. The latter contest turned ugly following the game when Bulldogs offensive lineman Victor Hill admitted in an online post that he and the rest of his line were targeting the knees of the 'Noles defensemen.

"Me and my offensive line brothers preached to each other all week that we would be going for knees from the first play to the last play with the A-backs included," Hill wrote, via ESPN.com. "We saw it as if they [won't] respect us for blocking them then we'll make them respect us for cutting them!"

Hill was later suspended, and it's hard to imagine the Seminoles will want to schedule a rematch anytime soon.

Winston's bid for a repeat Heisman is off to an underwhelming start with two interceptions and just 11 rushing yards although a date with the Tigers should give him a chance to reassert himself to the forefront of the trophy discussion.

He does have over 600 yards passing, but to win the sport's most prestigious award, it's going to take an even greater effort than the one he gave in 2013, especially with Georgia's Todd Gurley and Oregon's Marcus Mariota off to such tremendous starts.

For Clemson, it will be a matter of not wilting when the game reaches the third and fourth quarters. After tying Georgia 21-21, the Bulldogs soared past the Tigers behind the ever-churning legs of the superhuman Gurley.

If this contest remains close in the second half, can Clemson learn from its Week 1 mistakes?

One position battle the nation has its eyes locked in on is quarterback, where dual-threat freshman Deshaun Watson looks to push senior Cole Stoudt for the starting spot. Both have plenty of talent, but Watson, a former 4-star recruit sought after by Alabama, Auburn and even Florida State, is the kind of player who can take the Tigers to the top.

Stoudt has taken the majority of snaps thus far for the Tigers, and his leadership will be critical to keeping the offense focused in Doak Campbell Stadium. But if things get dicey in the first half, we may see Swinney let go of Watson's reigns and see if the freshman can make some magic happen.

The stakes could not be any higher in the ACC showdown, as the conference's weakened perception means that Florida State likely cannot afford a loss if it wants to be in position to reach the College Football Playoff.

Tests against Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida loom, but this is the first opportunity for the 'Noles to identify themselves as serious contenders to win a second straight national championship.

The contest will take place at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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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.

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