NCAA Football

What Ohio State Fans Should Make of Virginia Tech's Loss to ECU

Fresh off of a 35-21 defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech, Urban Meyer described Ohio State's 66-0 thrashing of Kent State on Saturday as "just what the doctor ordered." But even after taking their medicine, the Buckeyes were admittedly still dealing with symptoms stemming from their first loss of the season.

"You still have a sick feeling in your stomach about last week," Meyer said.

If that's true, then Ohio State's nausea likely only increased upon learning that its tormentors a week ago had just finished suffering an embarrassing loss of their own. After catapulting back into national relevance, the Hokies followed up their big win in Columbus with a 28-21 home loss to East Carolina on Saturday, in a game that saw Virginia Tech fall behind the Pirates, 21-0, in the first quarter.

Transitive property may not relate to football, but any argument the Buckeyes had that their lone loss of the season thus far wasn't that bad likely just went out the window. The Hokies may be talented, but Saturday showed that they're still a flawed team—and yet they remain just one week removed from outplaying Ohio State on its own home turf.

That shouldn't sit well with the Buckeyes, who did everything that they could to put last weekend's loss in their rearview mirror. Quarterback J.T. Barrett tied a school record with six touchdown passes while spearheading an offensive attack that accumulated 628 yards, as the Ohio State defense held the overmatched Golden Flashes to 126 yards on the day.

And yet there the Buckeyes were in postgame interviews, still being asked about Virginia Tech and what the Hokies' loss on Saturday means for Ohio State. At least one Buckeye admitted to keeping an eye on Virginia Tech, before offering perspective on what the Hokies' loss this week means to the Buckeyes.

"A lot of people fail to realize that matchups are a big deal in the game of football," OSU linebacker Joshua Perry said. "Whatever happened with them is what happened, but you can't just say that, 'OK, Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina, so Ohio State is whatever they are. We beat such and such, so now we're this.' You just gotta play every week."

And to be fair, Perry has a point.

Who's to say that the Hokies didn't empty their gun with last week's surprise 46 Bear defense against the Buckeyes, or that ECU's Air Raid offense isn't a better counter to it from an X's and O's standpoint? Yes, Virginia Tech just beat Ohio State and then were beat by the Pirates, but that doesn't necessarily mean that ECU would have similar results against the Buckeyes.

And then there's this: While its name may not carry much weight in perception—directional schools rarely do—East Carolina isn't a bad football team. The Pirates went 10-3 a season ago and returned senior quarterback Shane Carden this season, where ECU's lone loss has been a 10-point defeat at the hands of South Carolina.

Not too shabby, even for a team that just joined a Group of Five conference in the American Athletic Conference. Yes, as unlikely as it may seem, the Pirates could theoretically have access to the College Football Playoff, which is really what this is all about anyways.

Because when it comes to those four playoff selections, perception will matter, and the Buckeyes could use all the help in that department that they can get. While the chances of a one-loss Big Ten team making it to the final four were already slim, Ohio State's odds took an additional hit on Saturday, as it will no longer have a chance to point to their loss to Virginia Tech as a quality loss, if there even is such a thing.

And for the Buckeye players, that's just fine. Last week's loss may still sting, but they insist that they remain focused on the remainder of their season and aren't interested in scoreboard-watching with the Hokies—or anybody else.

"For a lot of us, it's behind us. They came in here hungry and aggressive with what they wanted to to do," Barrett said of Virginia Tech. "With them losing, that doesn't have anything to do with us. We're past it now."

 

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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Arkansas Safety Rohan Gaines Obliterates Texas Tech's Reginald Davis

The Arkansas Razorbacks came to play Saturday against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, as they held a 35-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter thanks to plays like this one.

Arkansas safety Rohan Gaines leveled Texas Tech receiver Reginald Davis with a big hit, forcing him to drop the ball.

[Vine]

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Georgia Kicker Marshall Morgan Sets SEC Record for Consecutive Field Goals Made

As anyone who has watched a college football game recently knows, finding a reliable college kicker can be a dicey proposition at best.

Georgia and head coach Mark Richt are fortunate not to have that problem. Junior kicker Marshall Morgan is one of college football’s best, most reliable kickers, and he just keeps rolling along.

Saturday, Morgan’s 36-yard field goal against South Carolina was his 19th consecutive made field goal, setting a new SEC record held for 30 years by Tennessee’s FuadReveiz. He added to the mark with a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter, but the streak ended at 20 when Morgan missed a 44-yard try late in the second quarter. 

Morgan has not missed a field goal since missing a 39-yarder last season at Tennessee. And in that game, he kicked a career-long 56-yarder (the longest road field goal in program history) and the game-winning 42-yard field goal in overtime.

A year ago, he made 22 of 24 field-goal tries, setting the SEC record for best field-goal percentage in a season. He also made his last 17 field goals of the season, setting a Georgia program record.

Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley told the Athens Banner-Herald’s Ethan Burch that Morgan is “unique,” saying he’d rather play Call of Duty: Zombies or go to the driving range than focus on his record.

Quarterback Hutson Mason agreed with Conley’s assessment but said Morgan is a valuable piece, per Burch:

It really starts with his preparation over the summer. I know he’s pretty active on Twitter and Instagram, so the whole world knows when he’s kicking. He has been working hard this summer out there and you really don’t notice hard work from a kicker because they’re so weird and so behind the closet.

Morgan can be as strange as he wants. If he keeps making field goals when Georgia needs him, the Bulldogs will be happy to have him around.

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Gainesville Police Department Make Fun of Kentucky Football Team on Twitter

The Florida Gators are hosting the Kentucky Wildcats for an SEC matchup on Saturday, and the local police department wasn't afraid to make fun of the opposing team.

Before the game, the Gainesville police department mocked the Kentucky football team after they were late to The Swamp.

This isn't the first time a local police department has talked some smack, as the local departments at Iowa and Iowa State exchanged some tweets back on Tuesday.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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Marcus Mariota's Leadership Sets Tone for Oregon, Makes Him Heisman Favorite

Marcus Mariota may have only played a little more than two quarters against Wyoming, but boy did he make them count. 

Mariota led a sleepy Ducks team to a 48-14 rout of the Cowboys, overcoming a seven-point first-quarter deficit.

The Ducks (3-0) were flat in the first quarter, which is perhaps an understatement, and were shut out over the first 15 minutes by Wyoming after getting only one possession and being stopped on the 2-yard line on fourth down.

The Cowboys then drove 98 yards on 11 plays, and the Ducks found themselves trailing and without a score in the first quarter. What should have been a cakewalk victory turned into a bit of a scare for Ducks fans. The last four times Oregon has gone scoreless in the first quarter, it's lost the game. 

Marcus Mariota would have none of that.

Mariota immediately led a touchdown drive in just over a minute to tie up the game early in the second quarter. He capped it off with a beautiful 15-yard touchdown run. 

It was just the beginning for the Heisman favorite, who ended the day going 19-of-23 through the air for 221 yards and two touchdowns. But it was Mariota’s legs that stole the show. Mariota finished the day with five carries for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

After a 30-yard touchdown run from Byron Marshall that gave the Ducks a 13-7 lead, Mariota once again led the Ducks down the field and provided a Heisman-worthy highlight. Mariota, after dancing around in the pocket for what seemed like an eternity, took off down the far sideline toward the end zone. At the goal line he was met by a group of Ducks and Cowboys. Instead of running through the pile, Mariota decided the air was a more appropriate route. 

Air Jordan? Nope, “Air Mariota.”

That 19-yard touchdown put the Ducks up 20-7 and proved to be the winning score. Add it to the highlight reel, send it to the Heisman voters, and take the vote now.

Mariota would go on to throw two touchdowns later in the game, one to freshman Devon Allen, his third in the last two weeks, and another on his last throw of the game, a five-yard connection with former Ducks basketball player Johnathan Loyd.

There’s no denying that the Ducks came out sluggish against Wyoming. "We were a little sluggish in the beginning in every phase”, said head coach Mark Helfrich, according to Jay Allen of Fox Sports Radio 620. Helfrich must be thanking his lucky stars that he has a player like Mariota to lead the team when it's not playing to its potential. 

While the rest of the Ducks were trying to find a cup of coffee to wake up in the first quarter, Mariota was too busy running around and making plays to be concerned with the 11 a.m. start time. His focus was on winning. The rest of the Ducks soon followed.

Mariota sets the tone for the Ducks. He’s the unquestioned leader of the locker room and has no problem going at it alone when his teammates aren't doing their jobs. Mariota showed as much during the second half against Michigan State. He proved again Saturday that the Ducks will follow his lead, and they’ll go as far as he can take them.

The road got a little bit more difficult Saturday, as Oregon’s offensive line took another hit. Starting left tackle Jake Fisher went down in the first quarter with an apparent knee injury.

It’s a good thing that Mariota is Houdini-like in the pocket. He’s going to need to utilize that skill set for the rest of the season.

This is the second straight week that the Ducks have lost a starting tackle. Against Michigan State, the Ducks lost starting right tackle Andre Yruretagoyena to a knee injury, and he is likely out for the season. They will now be starting redshirt junior Matt Pierson at left tackle and true freshman Tyrell Crosby at right tackle for the foreseeable future.

Oregon is going to need the young offensive linemen to step up in the wake of all of the injuries. “We expect those players to come in and play better. If they're in there, they're the No. 1 guy,” said Helfrich, according to Hayden Kim of the Daily Emerald.

The Ducks have a ton of room for improvement. They started slow, played soft defensively for parts of the first half and didn’t put on the show most pundits expected them to. As Helfrich said, via Kim, "Got a ton of work to do. Lucky that's in the wake of a victory."

The Ducks lucked into a victory Saturday based on the quality of their opponent. If Oregon plays a first quarter like it did Saturday against a team like UCLA or Stanford, it may not survive.

Thankfully for the Ducks, they have Mariota, a true leader and the Heisman favorite. 

 

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

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Marcus Mariota's Leadership Sets Tone for Oregon, Makes Him Heisman Favorite

Marcus Mariota may have only played a little more than two quarters against Wyoming, but boy did he make them count. Mariota led a sleepy Ducks team to a 48-14 rout of the Cowboys, overcoming a seven-point first-quarter deficit...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Wyoming vs. Oregon: Game Grades, Analysis for the Ducks

Oregon surprisingly trailed Wyoming after one quarter on Saturday, but that deficit didn't last long as the Ducks blew away the visiting Cowboys, 48-14, at Autzen Stadium.

It was another big offensive day for Oregon (3-0), who racked up 556 yards of total offense and scored on six straight possessions after trailing, 7-0. Marcus Mariota scored on a 15-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, then took the lead a few minutes later and never looked back.

The Ducks allowed 429 yards but also recorded a pair of interceptions, turning each into touchdowns, and registered six sacks.

Final stats from Saturday's game can be found here. Check out our grades and analysis of Oregon's win below.

 

Oregon Ducks Game Analysis

Pass Offense: Marcus Mariota was at his very best on Saturday. Though he didn't put up huge numbers, just throwing for 221 yards, he did that on 19-of-23 passing with two touchdowns. And he spread the ball around, hitting 11 different receivers (along with those hit by backup Jeff Lockie) and tossing TD passes to Devon Allen and former basketball player Johnathan Loyd.

Run Offense: Mariota ran for a pair of scores and 71 yards, but it wasn't just him on the ground. Royce Freeman and Byron Marshall also scored, as did Kani Benoit. As a team, the Ducks rushed for 263 yards on 37 carries. Marshall was the leading gainer with 80 yards, needing only six carries to get that.

Pass Defense: It took a little while, but eventually Oregon managed to break through Wyoming's depleted offensive line and terrorize quarterback Colby Kirkegaard. Kirkegaard threw for 284 yards an two TDs on 19-of-33 passing, but he was intercepted twice and sacked six times. Both picks were by safety Erick Dargan, who was injured early but then came back to star in the secondary.

Run Defense: Take away the sack-loss yardage, and Wyoming ran for 181 yards. That was especially surprising because the Cowboys only ran for 51 yards in their previous game, so it didn't look like Oregon's front seven had practiced having to stop the run much. That's an area that will need improvement as Oregon heads into the Pac-12 schedule.

Special Teams: Kicker Matt Wogan was never asked to try a field goal, and he made six of seven extra-point attempts. He biffed his second try when it looked like his footwork got messed up on the approach to kick. The Ducks only had to punt once, but Ian Wheeler shook off the rust and boomed a 50-yarder, and their punt- and kick-return coverage was mostly solid.

Coaching: Mark Helfrich got a lot of people involved on offense, helping with depth and experience, but his starters didn't need much coaching in terms of being shown how to execute. Don Pellum's defensive calls became more aggressive as the game went on, resulting in better pressure in the pocket, which turned into takeaways and sacks.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Wyoming vs. Oregon: Game Grades, Analysis for the Ducks

Oregon surprisingly trailed Wyoming after one quarter on Saturday, but that deficit didn't last long as the Ducks blew away the visiting Cowboys, 48-14, at Autzen Stadium...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Cold Hard Fact for Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fact: With their 48-14 win over Wyoming, the Oregon Ducks now have 50 games of over 40-plus points since 2009. No other FBS team has more than 37 in that time frame.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

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Watch Marcus Mariota Flip Over a Defender During Ridiculous TD Scramble

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was outstanding against Wyoming on Saturday, accumulating 2 passing yards and four total touchdowns in the Ducks' 48-14 win. His highlight play came in the second quarter, when he hurdled over a defender and into the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown run. 

Is Mariota the best player in college football?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Watch Marcus Mariota Flip Over a Defender During Ridiculous TD Scramble

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was outstanding against Wyoming on Saturday, accumulating 2 passing yards and four total touchdowns in the Ducks' 48-14 win...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

TCU's Josh Doctson Soars Sky-High to Make 1-Handed TD Catch vs. Minnesota

College football players continue to get more and more athletic, as TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson demonstrated in spades on Saturday.

Early in the second quarter of the Horned Frogs' Week 3 game against the Minnesota Gophers, Doctson jumped high in the air and came down with this incredible one-handed touchdown catch.

That grab—his second score of the day—put the Horned Frogs up 17-0.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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West Virginia vs. Maryland: Game Grades, Analysis for Mountaineers and Terrapins

In a tale of two halves, each team dominated 30 minutes of the game, but it was West Virginia that was able to come up with that one important play needed to secure the 40-37, last-second win in College Park over the Maryland Terrapins.

Quarterback Clint Trickett had a career day, with 511 passing yards and four touchdowns for the Mountaineers. The Terps' C.J. Brown did all he could to keep his team in the game, but it was an anemic offensive performance in the first half that eventually doomed Maryland. 

Box score via NCAA.com

 

Maryland Pass Offense

C.J. Brown did all he could to keep his team in the game, but despite having one of the Big Ten's most dynamic receivers in Stefon Diggs at his disposal, Brown could only find Diggs five times. All in all, the Maryland passing game had 284 passing yards with two touchdowns (one thrown by backup Caleb Rowe late in the second quarter) and one interception.

The first-half grade for the Terps is understandably poorer than the overall grade, given the lack of production before halftime. Still, Brown and his receivers improved enough in the second half to earn an overall "B."

 

Maryland Run Offense

In the first half, Maryland totaled just 48 rushing yards. We think a "C" is being generous here.

The second half, however, was headlined by a number of big runs—but all of them came from C.J. Brown, who finished with 161 of Maryland's 163 net rushing yards on the day. We'll go ahead an give Maryland's running offense a "B-" final grade, but we're not too happy about it.

 

Maryland Pass Defense

There's really no other way to put this: Maryland's pass defense was picked apart all afternoon by Clint Trickett. In the first half alone, Trickett threw for 307 yards. Only a few nice breaks on the ball to swat down potential touchdowns earned the Terps a "C-" in the first half.

By the time the day was over, Trickett had 511 yards and four touchdowns. The Terps did improve slightly in the second half, thanks in large part to the play of William Likely, but we can't do any better than an overall "C" given the total number of yards and points surrendered by the secondary.

 

Maryland Run Defense

We're not entirely sure if Maryland's run-defense stats look halfway decent because the front seven played that well or because WVU doesn't really need to run the football. Either way, no Mountaineer had over 100 yards on the ground (although Rushel Shell was close with 98), and only one runner had more than 28 total yards on the day.

We're content with an overall "B" after some improvements and big stops in the second half.

 

Maryland Special Teams

If there was one shining facet to Maryland's game against West Virginia, it had to be the special teams.

Field goals, perfect. Punt returns, perfect (although one of the two touchdowns was called back due to an odd rule that prohibits advancing a punt that was called for a fair catch even if the punting team blows up the receiver before he can field the ball). Kick returns, not half-bad. Punt coverage, great (including a muffed punt recovery deep in WVU territory). A blocked field goal in the second half? No problem.

How can we not give the special teams an "A" for that kind of performance?

 

Maryland Coaching

Randy Edsall will probably take a little heat from Maryland fans for this loss, but he shouldn't. Despite falling behind 28-6 early in this game, Edsall kept his guys in it and battled back to tie things up in the fourth quarter.

We're happy with the way Edsall and his staff seemed to make adjustments at halftime, and the staff was able to recognize what was and wasn't working with the offense.

It's not often we'll award an "A" in a loss, but we will today.

 

West Virginia Pass Offense

Is there any reason we wouldn't give Clint Trickett and the rest of the West Virginia pass offense an "A+" for the show they put on today?

Sure. There was that ill-advised interception Trickett threw, and a couple of sloppy drops in the second half that led directly to punts.

But 511 yards and four touchdowns is still 511 yards and four touchdowns. So anything less than an "A" would be just plain silly.

 

West Virginia Run Offense

As we mentioned before, we're not sure if WVU doesn't run the ball because the Mountaineers can't or because they don't need to, but either way, it wasn't about the running backs today.

Still, Rushel Shell had a fine day, with 98 yards and a score. No one else, however, had more than 28 yards on the day.

No bad, but not spectacular, either. Above average, and that means a "B+."

 

West Virginia Pass Defense

In the first half, the WVU secondary did a good job of covering up the Maryland receivers just long enough to allow the defensive line to get some pressure on C.J. Brown. Nearing halftime, the secondary looked as if it was taking a few plays off, which led to some points for the Terps, but at the time, it didn't seem like too big of an issue.

In the second half, Brown was forced to scramble for his yardage, as the West Virginia coaching staff clearly instilled a "win every play" mentality into the Mountaineers defense.

Holding a receiver like Stefon Diggs to "just" 127 yards and one touchdown is an accomplishment in itself, so we're content to reward the WVU secondary with a "B+" on the day.

 

West Virginia Run Defense

There's only one reason we're not giving West Virginia's run defense a solid straight "A" in this game: C.J. Brown.

Call it solid pass defense or weakened run defense, but Brown was able to scramble around a lot, and even call his own number enough times to rack up 161 rushing yards. But the rest of the Terps added just a net of two more yards for a team game total of 163.

This "A-" is about as close to an "A" as you can get.

 

West Virginia Special Teams

As great as Maryland was on special teams, that's about as bad as West Virginia was.

Josh Lambert had one of his two field-goal attempts blocked, a punt was muffed and turned over, punt coverage was horrible...take your pick.

What about the good? Blocking a punt for a safety will bring a smile to a coach's face. Going 5-of-5 on extra points is always good (but expected). A last-second field goal to win the game is also pretty important. Because the good outweighed the bad, we won't flunk the special teams.

But a "C" is still something that should worry WVU fans moving forward.

 

West Virginia Coaching

It's hard to criticize a head coach for game management down the stretch when his team pulls out the victory. Still, we can't help but scratch our heads at Dana Holgorsen's play-calling and clock management during WVU's last drive of the game.

With under two minutes to go, Holgorsen was calling run plays on the negative side of the field. The clock kept ticking down, and with two timeouts in his pocket, Holgorsen was more interested is making play signals than calling timeout. With only four seconds left, Holgorsen was forced to try a long field goal to win the game instead of conserving time earlier in the drive and getting closer.

Luckily, it worked out, so we'll give the coaching staff a "B."

 

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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Southern Miss vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

The No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide host the Southern Miss Eagles in a nonconference bout Saturday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m. ET.

Quarterbacks Blake Sims and Jacob Coker are still expected to split time under center for the Tide, but the playmaking trio of T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Amari Cooper will lead the offense.

Southern Miss is under the direction of sophomore quarterback Nick Mullens, who is looking to give Southern Miss a two-win season for the first time since 2011.

ESPN2 is carrying the game, and Bleacher Report is providing live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Why Big 12 Should Fear Clint Trickett, West Virginia

Quarterback Clint Trickett and the West Virginia Mountaineers scored an impressive 40-37 victory over Maryland on Saturday, putting the rest of the Big 12 on notice.

The box score is generally the first place casual fans go to get a feel for what happened in the game, and Trickett's 511 passing yards to go along with his four touchdown throws are eye-popping indeed. Of course, it's only slightly better than par for the course for head coach Dana Holgorsen's lead weapon, who also had 300-yard games against Alabama and Towson in the first two weeks of the 2014 season.

But the real reason this is more than just a close victory over a middling Maryland squad is because of how the Mountaineers fought through adversity away from home, something the 2013 team would not have done.

After jumping out to a 28-6 lead, the Mountaineers saw the 22-point margin get trimmed down to just seven early in the fourth quarter before a William Likely punt return evened the score at 37. From then on, it became a matter of who wanted it more, and the Mountaineers defense held strong.

Maryland had the ball twice with a chance to take a lead, and both times the Terrapins went three-and-out. Instead of relying on Trickett to lead the offense on the final drive, Holgorsen went with a heavy dose of Dreamius Smith on the ground.

On 2nd-and-11 from their own 34, a 17-yard-pass from Trickett to Daikiel Shorts helped move the ball over midfield, and a 10-yard Dustin Garrison run moved the offense to the edge of field-goal range. Several small gains later, the Mountaineers were in a position to finish things off. Josh Lambert obliged, knocking a 47-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired.

When the dust settles at the end of the season, no one will point to a road victory over Maryland as a major accomplishment, but it signals to the rest of the conference that West Virginia is no longer a pushover.

While Trickett will undoubtedly capture headlines with his video-game numbers, don't ignore the 183 yards on the ground by West Virginia or the fact that Smith was able to churn out several tough runs during crunch time with Rushel Shell apparently dinged up.

Seeing Holgorsen's offense find its groove through the air is scary in itself, but if the Mountaineers can run the ball enough to force linebackers to keep an eye on the backfield, the points should continue to come fast and easy.

Don't forget, this is a Mountaineers team that had a real chance to knock off Alabama in the season opener. Trickett and company weren't able to come up with the plays necessary to steal the game late, but the 6'2" 186-pound senior did throw for 365 yards and a score with no turnovers.

Those are numbers that most quarterbacks who've played the Crimson Tide the past few years would be jealous of, and you'd expect the trend to continue in conference play.

Conference play, oh by the way, starts next week with a home game against Oklahoma. The Sooners will be coming off a game against an improved Tennessee squad, and if Bob Stoops' team plays like they're up against the Mountaineers of 2013, it could be in for a rude awakening.

After the contest against the fourth-ranked Sooners, West Virginia will alternate playing home and away, starting with Kansas in Morgantown, followed by Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State.

Circle the Oct. 18 game against Baylor as well as the Nov. 20 matchup with Kansas State, which comes on a Thursday. Could those contests have implications in the race for the Big 12 title?

Next week should give us a clear answer to that question. Until then, it's time for the rest of the Big 12 to take notice of what Trickett and the Mountaineers are doing. Of course, the naysayers will continue to point to the defense, as was the case in 2012 with Geno Smith at the helm.

But holding the Tide to 33 is nothing to scoff at, and the late stops against the Terps ultimately paved the way for the offense to drive down the field and score the winning points. Again, this is a unit that we'll learn more about in a week when the Sooners come to town. But there are definitely signs that this is not the same team that gave up 63 points and 700 yards to Baylor in 2012.

Just look at how the third-down defense improved throughout Saturday's game:

As is the case with every team in the college football, the health of key players will play the biggest role in how far it goes and how many wins are piled up. Shell is the type of player defenses have to prepare for, and any sort of prolonged absence will likely clip the wings of the high-flying offense.

For now, Mountaineers fans can be happy that competitive football is not just on the horizon, it's arrived and ready for exciting league contests to begin. Will that excitement include a major upset or perhaps even a bid for the Big 12 title?

A win next week would be a step in the right direction.

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East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech: Game Grades, Analysis for the Hokies

One week after stunning the Ohio State Buckeyes, the No. 17 Virginia Tech Hokies were upset by the East Carolina Pirates 28-21.

Virginia Tech had a poor overall performance, and it certainly is reflected in underwhelming game grades.

Pass Offense

Michael Brewer may have finished with 298 yards and three touchdowns, but the Texas Tech transfer had a disappointing game. His two interceptions were absolutely terrible decisions, and he never looked comfortable throughout the loss.

Cam Phillips emerged as Brewer's favorite target in the second half, but Joshua Stanford and Ford had a couple costly drops that ended drives.

Run Offense

Though Marshawn Williams was fantastic during his 60-yard third quarter, Virginia Tech gave him a single carry in the final frame. East Carolina defensive tackle Terry Williams was a constant force in the backfield, but the Hokies started to contain him.

Pass Defense

Call it an unsuccessful sandwich. Shane Carden picked apart the VT secondary early, then the unit tightened up. However, Cam Worthy made Brandon Facyson and Kyshoen Jarrett look silly, snaring six passes for a ridiculous average of 37.3 yards.

Overall, the Hokies allowed 427 yards and three touchdowns through the air—a very forgettable performance.

Run Defense

Virginia Tech allowed a couple long runs but was ultimately successful in limiting the Pirates ground game to an average of just 3.0 yards on 25 attempts. Additionally, the team's lone takeaway was a forced fumble that Kendall Fuller recovered at the 1-yard line.

Special Teams

Although Joey Slye missed a 52-yard field goal wide right, he knocked home three extra points. Punter A.J. Hughes averaged 40.8 yards per kick, and Greg Stroman managed a solid 8.0 yards per punt return.

Nothing special, nothing terrible for Beamer Ball.

Coaching

The Hokies offense was essentially nonexistent in the first quarter, but it slowly improved. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler eventually helped turn things around, and Virginia Tech converted on six of its final eight third downs after going 2-of-11.

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster constantly used Cover 0 and Cover 1, leaving the cornerbacks hanging out to dry with no safety help over the top. Carden tossed a handful of jump balls, and East Carolina won the majority of those battles.

 

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

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Marcus Mariota vs. Wyoming: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Although Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks got off to a slow start against Wyoming, they were able to eventually show why the Ducks are one of the best teams in the country by building up a 41-7 lead in the third quarter before taking out the starters.

Mariota went 19-of-23 for 221 yards and two passing touchdowns to go with 71 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in less than three quarters. Of course, the stats were not as impressive as the plays themselves.

With the Ducks down 7-0 in the second quarter, they were finally able to get onto the scoreboard thanks to one of the team's patented lightning-fast drives:

The touchdown came on a 15-yard run by Mariota where he lowered his shoulder to ensure he got into the end zone:

Dwight Jaynes of CSN Northwest liked the read-option to get the score:

After Byron Marshall scored a 30-yard touchdown to take the lead, Mariota got his second rushing touchdown on the day on a 19-yard scramble with an incredible finish into the end zone:

Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com was impressed by the play:

Aaron J. Fentress of CSN Northwest saw that as a Heisman-winning moment for the young quarterback:

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, who has been high on Mariota all year, thinks this is another reason for him to be the top pick in the NFL draft:

Even the simple plays were impressive, according to Bleacher Report's Curt Popejoy:

Mariota added to his strong day before the half with a touchdown pass to Devon Allen. Moseley noted that this extended a long streak for the passer:

He found a new target in the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the day, as explained by Mark Morical of The Bulletin:

This ended up being the starting quarterback's last play of the game, as he was taken out in favor of Jeff Lockie. Craig Pintens of GoDucks.com provided an impressive stat at the end of the performance:

Overall, this was another incredible effort from a player who has produced quite a few big games in his career.

While Oregon was not expected to have much trouble with Wyoming, every game is important in college football. The Ducks are looking to compete for a national championship, and any sign of struggle could be devastating to their perception.

The good news is that they have one of the best players in the nation in Mariota. If he keeps performing at his current level, Oregon will be in good shape.

 

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

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Marcus Mariota vs. Wyoming: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Although Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks got off to a slow start against Wyoming, they were able to eventually show why the Ducks are one of the best teams in the country ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

ECU vs. Virginia Tech: Score and Reaction to Pirates' Upset Win

Virginia Tech's run in the Top 25 might be over just one week after it started.  

The 17th-ranked Hokies were upset by the East Carolina Pirates on Saturday at home, 28-21, in one of the biggest surprises of the 2014 college football season thus far. One week removed from a road victory over then-No. 8 Ohio State, the Hokies couldn't overcome an underrated East Carolina team that no one will overlook from here on out. 

Frank Beamer's squad trailed 21-0 early, with the Lane Stadium crowd facing a three-possession deficit before all of the seats were filled. Despite a late comeback, the Hokies couldn't muster enough success to get over the hump against a Pirates defense that hounded them all afternoon. 

Pirates quarterback Shane Carden shredded the Hokies secondary that looked so dominant a week prior, throwing for more than 400 yards, as ESPN College Football captured:

The Hokies did battle back against the odds, with Michael Brewer throwing three touchdown passes, including the game-tying one with just 1:20 left. Virginia Tech's defense clamped down by shutting out ECU from the second quarter to late in the fourth.

But with the game on the line, Carden led his Pirates down the field in 1:04—thanks to a pair of big receptions from Cam Worthy—and slipped around the outside on a quarterback sneak to take the lead for good with 16 seconds left. 

Carden's performance was one of the best of the season, but it also had some all-time significance, as ESPN Stats and Information found:

Brewer had one last chance to tie the game from about 40 yards out on a heave, but he sailed the ball out of the end zone. Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer couldn't think of a more fitting ending:

The defeat marked the continuance of a disturbing trend for Hokies fans, as ESPN's Brett McMurphy illustrated:

The victory was no fluke for the Pirates, who outgained Virginia Tech 502-389 and kept the Hokies under 100 yards rushing for the first time in 2014. For a vast majority of the 60 minutes, the Pirates controlled the tempo up front.

Beamer insisted his team didn't overlook ECU, per Jacob Emert of TechSideline.com:

The Hokies didn't get long to enjoy last weekend's huge victory, as Sports Illustrated's Zac Ellis notes:

Believe it or not, East Carolina could have been up by much more early on. Already up 21-0, the Pirates had a touchdown called back that would've made it a four-score game and squandered three straight red-zone opportunities.

Squandered opportunities were much more common on the other side, with Virginia Tech's Brewer—days after the game of his life—throwing two ghastly first-half interceptions to set up those East Carolina chances.

Eventually, Brewer and his receivers started to figure out the Pirates' secondary and amassed 298 yards through the air. But it wasn't enough. 

Virginia Tech's rise and impending fall in the rankings will be quite the contrast. It finished considerably outside of the Top 25 in the preseason and Week 2 Associated Press rankings, but it shot up to No. 17 after its shocking victory over Ohio State on Sept. 6.

Though, as NFL Network's Jenn Brown noted, college football is filled with unpredictability and Saturday was a perfect example:

The rhetoric around Beamer's team quickly shifted from one of rebuilding to championship contending after last weekend, which isn't surprising given how monumental and unexpected the road win over the Buckeyes was. But if Saturday was any indication, this team still has a long way to go.

Last weekend was a dark time for the Big Ten in part thanks to Virginia Tech's victory, but the Hokies' loss on Saturday puts the pressure on the ACC, as ESPN's Edward Aschoff noted:

Voters and coaches haven't already forgotten about what Virginia Tech just did in Columbus, Ohio, but losing to an East Carolina team without a single Top 25 vote won't be a good look for the Hokies. If Virginia Tech stays in the Top 25—and that's a big if—it will likely be seated near the back.

As for the Pirates, well, the kids in Greenville, North Carolina, will certainly enjoy it, as Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples noted:

Many thought East Carolina was the real deal after it nearly knocked off South Carolina last weekend, but it still failed to generate a Top 25 vote in the Week 3 rankings. After simply dominating a Top 25 team for a half and mounting a late game-winning drive in dramatic fashion, the Pirates have put future opponents on notice. 

Putting future opponents on notice is something Virginia Tech did in a big-time way last weekend, but its fellow ACC counterparts will pay attention to Saturday's result just as much. While the Hokies looked like a dark-horse College Football Playoff contender last weekend, now it's apparent that Virginia Tech might be further away from contention than it recently led itself to believe.

Virginia Tech will have to shake off the loss quickly before Georgia Tech (3-0) arrives to open up ACC play. 

Meanwhile, ECU hopes to just keep on rolling as it gears up to host North Carolina—another ACC foe. And after the result the Pirates posted this weekend, it's safe to say Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be rocking in the hopes of another upset. 

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Kent State vs. Ohio State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Buckeyes

After suffering their first regular-season loss under Urban Meyer, the No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes took their frustrations out on Kent State in a dominating 66-0 rout Saturday afternoon.

Led by freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes scored 45 first-half points and finished with a season-high 622 total yards. On the other side of the ball, Kent State only produced 126 yards and broke midfield just one time.

How did the Buckeyes grade out after their impressive performance?

 

Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes receivers torched Kent State’s overmatched defense Saturday afternoon. Barrett threw for 297 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone before finishing with 312 and six. Ohio State’s lone interception came after a perfectly placed pass bounced off Michael Thomas’ chest and right to a Kent State defender.

Run Offense: The Buckeyes looked much better running the ball on Saturday, piling up 284 yards on the ground. While it was much easier to pound things out against Kent State, the offensive line created huge lanes for the Buckeyes running backs. Curtis Samuel ran the ball 15 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns—the first 100-yard rushing performance from the Buckeyes this year.

Pass Defense: Kent State came into Ohio Stadium averaging 238.5 passing yards per game, according to NCAA.com, but quarterbacks Colin Reardon and Nathan Strock managed just 79 yards against the Buckeyes defense. A trio of Buckeyes—Tyvis Powell, Joshua Perry and Erick Smith—came away with interceptions as the Buckeyes stifled the Kent State offense. 

Run Defense: The Golden Flashes had an even harder time running the ball. Running back Nick Holley found a few lanes, running for 34 yards on six carries. But four other ball-carriers added just 13 yards on 17 carries Saturday afternoon. Linebackers Raekwon McMillan, Joshua Perry and Darron Lee swarmed Kent State's rushing attack.

Special Teams: After an abysmal outing against Virginia Tech a week ago, Ohio State’s special teams were solid against Kent State. Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall had a number of solid punt returns, the Buckeyes blocked a punt and Sean Nuernberger nailed his only field goal attempt from 41-yards out.

Coaching: With the kind of talent disparity this game featured, it would have been hard for the Ohio State coaching staff to make too many mistakes. The Buckeyes, though, executed their game plan perfectly. Barrett established the passing attack early, and then the Buckeyes' deep stable of running backs took the game over in the second half. Ohio State's defense made all the right plays and was never out of position, and even the second-team players came out with energy to preserve the Buckeyes' shut out.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via Ohio State's official website.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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