NCAA Football

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Kent State Golden Flashes Complete Game Preview

One week after suffering its first loss of the season—a 35-21 home defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech—the Ohio State football team will return to the field for an in-state matchup with Kent State. Despite the Buckeyes entering Saturday's showdown as heavy favorites, the Golden Flashes will look to play the role of spoiler as an off-week looms for Ohio State.

The playoffs may no longer be in the picture for the Buckeyes, but they still have plenty of work to do as they look to make the most of the 2014 season. Ohio State's loss to Hokies admittedly exploited many of its deficiencies, and this Saturday could present the perfect opportunity to improve on those weaknesses with a higher-profile Buckeye State battle around the corner.

But before Cincinnati gets its shot at the Buckeyes on Sept. 27, Ohio State will first have to deal with a Kent State squad still searching for its first win of the season. Despite the mismatch in talent, many will have their eyes on this Saturday's Big Ten-Mid-American Conference clash, which could help provide answers for an Ohio State team that remains full of questions.

Until then, here's everything you need to know about this weekend's battle between the Buckeyes and Golden Flashes:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 13

Time: 12 p.m. ET

Place: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

TV: ABC, ESPN 2

Radio: Ohio State Football Radio NetworkKent State iHeartRadio

Spread: Ohio State (-26.5), via Odds Shark

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Meet the 2016 Quarterback Who Could Be Heir to Braxton Miller's Throne

In 2013 Urban Meyer went into the the Lone Star State and plucked his first two Ohio State signees—quarterback JT Barrett and all-purpose back Dontre Wilson—right from the heart of Texas. Much to Charlie Strong's chagrin, Meyer is returning to that well of talent as we speak. 

Last week, Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman went back into Texas to tender an offer to 2016 dual-threat quarterback Tristen Wallace—who hails from the same DeSoto High School program that produced Wilson. 

Like injured Buckeyes star signal-caller Braxton Miller, a season that began with promise was derailed due to injury when Wallace went down with a broken ankle last Friday, according to WFAA. DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis estimates that Wallace could potentially return before the Texas state playoffs begin.

Still, there’s a reason the Buckeyes joined Nebraska, SMU and Indiana in offering Wallace—who Mathis said has been timed at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash. 

Even with his injury status, if his stunning debut to the 2014 season was any indicator, he figures to become a hot commodity for recruiters entering the Lone Star State after he gets back onto the field.

Wallace went 10-of-17 for 287 yards passing with four touchdowns while adding 231 yards rushing and another three scores on the ground. Prior to going down in the first half of DeSoto’s 54-34 win over Eastern Christian Academy (Maryland), Wallace had completed all eight of his pass attempts for 118 yards and a score.

Still, it was his debut performance that sent shock waves through the metro Dallas area and earned him Player of the Week honors from The Dallas Morning News, according to Michael Florek. It’s not a coincidence that the Buckeyes came calling just a few days later.

“In our dealings with Ohio State and Coach Meyer, he doesn’t just throw out scholarships,” Mathis said. “If you are offered a scholarship by Urban Meyer, that means you are a special player and you can help the Ohio State program out in the future.”

Due to the presence of the electric Desmon White at quarterback, the 6’3”, 225-pound Wallace operated at receiver and running back in his first two years with the Eagles. Those multidimensional traits are part of what makes Wallace an intriguing talent in an offense such as Ohio State’s.

Prior to the injury, Mathis noted that Wallace was putting all of his effort and focus on leading the Eagles to an elusive state title. While the offer is a landmark moment in Wallace’s recruitment, he’s simply taking it in stride.

“It just means that I have to work harder and continue to win games and just keep doing what I do with my teammates,” Wallace said about his newest college interest. “I don’t want to get too big on recruiting and the outside stuff. That’s not really what we are focused on during the season. I’m just focusing on getting better each day, and the recruiting stuff will take care of itself.”

However, he did note that Wilson reached out to him to congratulate him for landing the offer.

“We talked on Twitter,” Wallace said. “He was just telling me about the offense, and that’s basically it.”

Mathis noted that people around the program and in the area were paying close attention to Wallace to see if he was capable of filling the sizable void left by White. His subsequent performance in the season-opener went a long way toward establishing himself as a dynamic talent with a bright future. Recruiting, for now, is on the back burner for the emerging junior.

“Of course, for him, his main goal is to stay focused on trying to set the tone for this football team,” Mathis said. “I think he’s going to continue to do that, and if he does, he still has a chance to be very successful this season and beyond.”

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Fresno State Bulldogs Game Preview

Nebraska hits the road for its first away game of the 2014 season. The Huskers will face the Fresno State Bulldogs in a very late (primarily if you're on the East Coast) matchup.

After barely beating McNeese State 31-24, this will be a big game for Nebraska. Looking to get the season back on track, the Huskers are hoping for a much more definitive victory over the Bulldogs.

The two programs have only met once before in 2011. Nebraska won at home 42-29. An impressive moment from that previous matchup was when running back Ameer Abdullah made a 100-yard kickoff return to secure the victory. Three years later, Abdullah and his team are hoping for another win over Fresno State.

Can Nebraska bounce back after the disappointing performance against McNeese State?

 

Where: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, California 

When: Saturday, September 13, at 10:30 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS Sports Network

Listen: Husker Sports Network or Sirius Channel 108, XM 199

Betting Line via Odds Shark: Nebraska (-10)

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8 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

Most of America is now underway with regular-season high school football action after a cluster of southern and western states kicked things off in late August. The nation's top college prospects have a chance to showcase their talent on a weekly basis, validating immense hype and long lists of scholarship offers in the process.

The first week of September annually revives community spirit in towns across the country, giving fans the opportunity to finally witness the phenomenal athletes they spent an entire offseason hearing about. It also puts the pressure on collegiate coaching staffs to reassess specific recruitments, potentially opening the door for late offers.

Here's our weekly examination of some of the sensational performances that took place this past weekend, with an eye on top-tier defensive and offensive playmakers.

 

5-star DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, St. Peter's Prep High School (Jersey City, New Jersey)

The Alabama pledge put his athletic prowess on full display in a season-opening victory over Wise High School (Maryland). Minkah Fitzpatrick made the most of a weather-shortened contest, compiling 204 total offensive yards in a 35-9 win, per Braulio Perez of NJ.com.

The 6'1", 198-pound prospect sprinted 81 yards for a rushing touchdown and caught a pair of scoring passes from Penn State quarterback commit Brandon Wimbush. Those receptions came on distances of 17 and 49 yards as Fitzpatrick flashed game-changing skills that also stand out in the defensive secondary.

The contest didn't last three full quarters, but Fitzpatrick still managed to make a strong impression for one of the Northeast region's most respected programs. He is rated fifth nationally among cornerbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings.

"I have the length that a lot of teams look for at cornerback," Fitzpatrick said this summer. "I don't have a problem being asked to cover all kinds of receivers, and I can make things happen with the ball in my hands."

 

4-star RB Soso Jamabo, Plano West High School (Plano, Texas)

You'll be hard-pressed to find a more dominant rushing performance this fall than the one Soso Jamabo put together Friday evening during a shootout victory over Sachse High School. The 6'3", 210-pound playmaker erupted for 484 yards and six scores on 31 carries in a 49-31 win, per Michael Florek of The Dallas Morning News.

The most remarkable aspect of his effort isn't necessarily how Jamabo finished, but rather how he started the game. The uncommitted prospect gained just six yards on six first-quarter rushing attempts.

Jamabo took over the rest of the way, gaining 478 yards on his next 25 carries. He shifted momentum with a 92-yard scoring burst in the second quarter, as Texas A&M recruiting analyst Brice Jones pointed out:

His night changed once he started seeing the game move slower.

“[The difference was] just staying patient,” Jamabo told Florek. “My teammates kept preaching it to me. I was a little frustrated but I stayed patient and it finally came it to me. … After that it was just swagger for me.” 

He continued an eventful weekend with an official visit to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are a top contender for his commitment, along with Oklahoma and Baylor.

 

4-star 2016 WR Ahmir Mitchell, Cedar Creek High School (Egg Harbor City, New Jersey)

The 6'2", 190-pound junior picked apart opposing defenses throughout the 2013 season and started this campaign off in similar fashion. Ahmir Mitchell, rated 10th nationally among athletes in 247Sports' composite rankings, caught five passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in an opening win against Cedar Grove High School, per Phil Anastasia of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He hauled in a 29-yard scoring pass in the first half and punctuated the Pirates' 41-0 romp with an 84-yard touchdown reception. Mitchell, the younger brother of Arkansas redshirt freshman Damon Mitchell, is predominately being recruited as a wide receiver, though defensive back remains a possibility at the next level.

"I feel as though I'm an all-around athlete, so I really don't mind playing any position on the field," Mitchell said in May.

His offer sheet includes Ole Miss, Florida State, Boston College, Rutgers and Michigan.

 

4-star RB Jacques Patrick, Timber Creek High School (Orlando, Florida)

The heavily recruited running back burst through defenders at every level during his second game of the season, surging ahead for 305 yards and five touchdowns, per Jake Lamb of the Orlando Sentinel. Jacques Patrick did his damage on just 22 carries and scored three times from at least 60 yards out.

The 6'1.5", 230-pound standout shredded Boone High School in a 50-20 victory, delivering his squad to its first win. Patrick, rated second nationally among running backs in 247Sports' composite rankings, is now less than 150 yards shy of surpassing 6,000 career yards.

More than just a straight-line rusher, he also shows off capable receiving abilities.

"I want to be the kind of running back that can beat teams in different ways," Patrick said this summer.

His top collegiate options include Alabama, Ohio State, Florida and Florida State.

 

4-star 2016 QB KJ Costello, Santa Margarita Catholic High School (Rancho Santa Margarita, California)

The 6'4", 213-pound passer starred in a high-profile matchup against Santiago High School quarterback Blake Barnett, who is committed to Alabama. KJ Costello gained the upper hand early and led his team to a 56-27 win.

He completed 25 of 34 pass attempts for 411 yards and four touchdowns, per Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles TimesCostello connected on every score before halftime, making an impressive opening statement.

His success was aided by a strong overall offensive attack.

"You can see our offensive line dominated the whole game," Costello told Sondheimer. "When you can run the ball, it opens the passing game."

It didn't take him long to emerge as a premier prospect after taking over starting duties at the Orange County powerhouse. Costello collected several offers this summer, including Alabama, Oregon State, Florida and Stanford.

 

3-star 2016 WR Michael Irvin Jr., Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas)

Michael Irvin Jr., the son of Dallas Cowboys legend and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin, is creating his own legacy in the Lone Star State. He reportedly tied a Texas single-game receptions record with 22 catches, per MaxPreps.com.

Irvin accomplished the feat in a losing effort, as his team came up short in a 69-36 defeat to IMG Academy (Florida). His collection of grabs resulted in 229 yards and two touchdowns. 

The 6'2", 200-pound junior holds an offer from Miami, his father's alma mater. He is rated 59th nationally among 2016 receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings.

 

5-star 2016 QB Shea Patterson, Calvary Baptist Academy (Shreveport, Louisiana)

Shea Patterson, the 6'2", 190-pound passer, continues to state his case for top quarterback honors in the 2016 class. He's rated third nationally among pro-style players at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings and showed off dual-threat capabilities Friday night in a 46-27 clobbering of Parkway High School.

He completed 14 of 20 attempts for 210 yards and four touchdowns, per Matt Vines of The Shreveport Times. His evening also included 95 rushing yards, setting the stage for crucial scores against a quality opponent.

Patterson, who decommitted from Arizona this summer, transferred in from Hidalgo High School (Texas) following his freshman year. He visited Notre Dame Saturday and is expected to spend time at USC and Oklahoma later this month.

LSU is considered a slight favorite in this recruitment. His older brother is a member of the Tigers staff.

4-star DT Joseph Wicker, Long Beach Poly High School (Long Beach, California)

The disruptive defender slid inside to tackle for his senior season, and the position switch has quickly paid off in a big way. A week after Joseph Wicker racked up six sacks, he compiled nine tackles, forced a pair of fumbles and took down the quarterback twice in a 34-21 win over Narbonne High School, per MaxPreps.com.

The 6'4", 265-pound prospect made five tackles for loss. He anchors a defensive attack that also features top-ranked cornerback recruit Iman Marshall.

Wicker received an offer from UCLA and Texas Tech this past weekend. An official visit to Arizona State is planned.

 

Recruit ratings and offer information courtesy of 247Sports.

Quotes obtained firsthand by Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UConn QB Casey Cochran Gives Up Football Due to History of Concussions

Connecticut Huskies redshirt sophomore quarterback Casey Cochran is hanging up his cleats and pursuing a coaching career due to several concussions suffered over the course of his playing career.    

ESPN's Brett McMurphy revealed the news on Twitter Monday following a statement from the school:

Cochran, who was named the starter over senior Chandler Whitmer by head coach Bob Diaco back in August, completed 63.4 percent of his passes last season for 1,293 yards and 11 touchdowns to four interceptions.

Against BYU to start the year, Cochran threw for 171 yards and an interception and left with an injury before the eventual 35-10 loss. Whitmer will take over the reins full time for the 1-1 Huskies moving forward.

Cochran's decision to place an emphasis on his health was applauded by many, including Huskies play-by-play announcer Joe D'Ambrosio:

Now, Cochran can move forward with what many figured he would do after his collegiate football career concluded—coach the game to others, as his father Jack does at the high school level in Connecticut.

"A silver lining in this matter is that Casey has an interest in pursuing a career in coaching," said Diaco, per the press release on the team's website. "We can now accelerate his development in that area as he transitions from a player role to a mentor role as he continues to serve the team."

As Sean Patrick Bowley of GameTimeCT muses, the role is something that seems to suit Casey well moving forward:

As well as pursue the next step in his football career, Cochran will also surely continue his stellar academic record one season removed from being named to the 2013 American Athletic Conference All-Academic team.

After making one of the most difficult decisions a player inevitably experiences, Cochran gets to continue working around the sport he loves in a nurturing environment. Really, this premature end seems to be just the beginning for Cochran and his future pursuits.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Picks: East Carolina Pirates vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Odds

The AAC’s East Carolina Pirates will try to cool down the red-hot Virginia Tech Hokies out of the ACC this Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg. This game is set to kick off at noon ET, and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

The Pirates started the season with a routine 52-7 victory over NC Central as 39.5-point home favorites, and last week, they hung tough in a 33-23 loss to South Carolina as 14-point road underdogs. They are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games, and the total has gone “over” in six of their last eight contests.

Virginia Tech closed out the 2013 season with a straight-up record of 2-4 in its last six games, and it was 1-5 ATS. This season, the Hokies have burst out of the gates with a 2-0 start both SU and ATS, including a huge 35-21 victory over then-No. 8 Ohio State as 10-point underdogs on the road this past Saturday. The total went over the 46-point closing line in that game.

 

East Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Storylines

This is the Pirates' first season in the AAC after coming over from Conference USA. They opened up a 13-7 lead on the Gamecocks in this past Saturday’s loss, but in the end, they turned the ball over twice and could not get their defense off the field in an 11-minute, fourth-quarter drive, which led directly to the 10-point loss. Those kinds of things prove to be costly when you step up your level of competition as a mid-major program.

Give credit to East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden and wide receiver Justin Hardy for solid performances in the loss. Carden threw for 321 yards while completing 70 percent of his 46 passes, but he was picked off twice. Hardy was on the receiving end of 11 balls for 133 yards, which averaged out to be a healthy 12.1 yards per catch.

Virginia Tech was near the top of the list in regard to futures odds to win the ACC this season, but that small group of teams that the Hokies were a part of was well behind No. 1-ranked Florida State.

The win over the Buckeyes has to make the football experts across the country take notice, even if Braxton Miller is out of Ohio State’s lineup at quarterback. The Hokies defense held the Big Ten power to 327 total yards, and Virginia Tech had a seven-minute edge in time of possession.

Known for its shutdown defense, Virginia Tech got a big day from Kyshoen Jarrett with two interceptions, and Donovan Riley returned another pick 63 yards for a score with less than a minute to play to seal the win. Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer put the ball up 36 times and completed 23 passes for 199 yards and two scores, but he was intercepted two times on the day.

 

East Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Odds and Trends by Doc’s Sports

Point Spread: Virginia Tech -10

Total Line: OFF

According to Covers’ betting trends, the Pirates are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a SU loss, and they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven nonconference games. The total has gone over in six of their last eight games against a team with a winning record.                                               

The Hokies are 8-19 ATS in their last 27 games following a SU win, and they are 4-11-2 ATS in their last 17 games played outside the ACC. The total has stayed under in six of their last nine home games.

Head-to-head in this matchup, Virginia Tech is 4-0 SU in the last four meetings, but the series is tied 2-2 ATS. The total has stayed under in three of the four games.

 

College Football Picks: East Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Predictions

This is a dangerous situation for the Hokies, who have gained a reputation for crushing letdowns following a big win, but I believe that things will be different this Saturday against the Pirates. Virginia Tech will not take this game lightly given the recent tight battles between these two programs, and this will be reflected in a final score that covers the 10-point spread.

 

Take: No. 126 Virginia Tech (-10) over East Carolina

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles Complete Game Preview

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In the middle of a two-week stretch of less-than-stellar competition, Alabama coach Nick Saban is preaching “focus stamina” to his No. 3 Crimson Tide.

“To get better one thing at a time, one day at a time, one play at a time,” Saban said. “If each individual improves, then we have a chance to improve collectively as a team.”

After a 41-0 lightning-shortened drubbing of Florida Atlantic, Alabama will take the field against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The competition isn’t exactly getting steeper either. Southern Miss is 2-24 dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, with its only wins coming against UAB in 2013 and FCS Alcorn State on Saturday.

So for Alabama it’s another week to fine-tune some things, get younger players more reps and of course watch the quarterbacks again before Florida comes to Tuscaloosa next weekend to open SEC play.

But hey, last time these two teams played, this happened.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 13

Time: 5 p.m. CT

Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

TV: ESPN2

Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Southern Miss IMG Sports Network

Spread: Alabama by 47-48, according to OddsShark.com.

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1 Improvement Every SEC Team Needs

"Talkin' season," as South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said, is over. Now there are actual games to analyze.

For every team, though, that also means there's clear room for improvement in certain areas of the roster.

Alabama and South Carolina have each displayed some issues in pass defense, LSU's quarterbacks have progressed on the fly, and Ole Miss is still sort of figuring itself out offensively.

So what's the most pressing issue for every SEC team?

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Purdue Boilermakers Complete Game Preview

Just one week after ending a rivalry with a Big Ten opponent, Notre Dame says goodbye (for now) to another one Saturday night against Purdue.

For all the attention the end of the Michigan series got, the in-state rivalry with Purdue will end a battle for the Shillelagh Trophy, a game that's been played every year since 1946. While athletic directors Jack Swarbrick and Morgan Burke have a date set for 2020, Saturday night's Shamrock Series game is the end of a 68-year streak, the fourth-longest uninterrupted series in college football history. 

With 24 hours come and gone after the shutout victory over Michigan, the Irish need to turn their attention to Purdue. While the Boilermakers had a disappointing performance in their loss to Central Michigan, they've played Notre Dame tight the last two seasons and will be motivated in this team's final opportunity to beat the Irish. 

Here's all the info you need to get you ready for Saturday night's game. 

Date: Saturday, Sept. 13

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Place: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

TV: NBC

Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129

Spread: Notre Dame by 29.5, according to Odds Shark.

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Why Dabo Swinney Doesn't Have a Quarterback Controversy in Clemson

While some may think there is a quarterback controversy developing in Clemson, it’s actually the furthest thing from it.

Senior Cole Stoudt and true freshman Deshaun Watson have both received significant playing time through the first two games, but Scout.com indicates some are calling (subscription required) for Watson to be the starter over Stoudt.

Let’s look at the reasons why this is the least of the Tigers' worries.

 

Stoudt Hasn’t Done Anything That Warrants Less Playing Time

Having to replace a legend like Tajh Boyd, many analysts—such as College Football Talk's Kevin McGuire—weren't sold on this Stoudt-led offense, but Stoudt has clearly shown he is capable of leading this unit.

While he did miss a couple of passes against Georgia—and even a couple in Saturday’s matchup with South Carolina State—he has looked poised and confident as the leader of this offense. What else would you expect from a senior that has been in the system learning from one of the best?

In the second half of the Georgia game, field position and sometimes questionable play-calling kept the Clemson offense from getting anything going.

By the numbers—15-of-28, 130 yards—the senior didn’t have the best day, but he made some sharp throws in the first half against the Bulldogs.

Watson’s solid performance on Saturday has caused some people to forget that Stoudt threw for over 300 yards in that game. He missed a couple of passes early on but never looked overwhelmed in the pocket, and he didn’t make any major mistakes.

 

Watson Can Help This Team as a Backup

While I will argue that Stoudt should be the unquestioned starter of this team, I’m not going to overlook the fact that Watson can really help this team as the backup.

We saw against Georgia how putting Watson in early helped energize the offense.

He gives you an element that Stoudt just can’t, and that’s running the zone read. Stoudt has proven he is more mobile than he’s given credit for, but he will never be able to run the zone read as effectively as Watson does.

Running that play forces the defense to make adjustments and can also afford the running back more room up the middle when the defense goes after the quarterback.

Another thing to look at is the amount of playing time Watson receives in preparation for next season. The future looks very bright for this Tigers squad because of the recruiting successes under Dabo Swinney, so getting Watson prepared for next season’s challenges is also important.

Getting him reps against Georgia in the season opener—in one of college football’s toughest places to play—will pay off next season when he faces pressure situations.

Unlike Stoudt entering this season, Watson will have meaningful snaps under his belt when he takes over as the starter. Letting him play early against Florida State and South Carolina would only add to the experience for the young quarterback.

 

Coach Swinney Is Not Buying Into the So-Called Controversy

Swinney has made it clear that there is no quarterback controversy.

According to TigerNet.com’s David Hood, Swinney pointed that out to the media on Monday:

We're not going to have a controversy. The best player is going to play.

Cole Stoudt is our starter and that's just the way it is. If something changes, then it will change on the field through performance. It has not changed to this point. We knew coming in that at some point this would be all anyone wanted to talk about. All anyone ever wants to talk about is the backup quarterback. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are, that’s the story. Cole Stoudt has played well for us. We know what we’re looking at and we know what we’re asking him to do. He hasn’t played perfect, but he’s played very well as the starter. It’s frustrating when people don’t want to recognize that.

Swinney also noted that he wasn't happy with how the fans handled the quarterback rotation Saturday against South Carolina State. "We don't listen to the fans. I do think it's sad when you have fans boo a player. I think that's really sad," he said.

Also, TigerNet.com points out which quarterback Swinney feels gives them the best chance to win against Florida State:

 

Making Watson the Starter Wouldn’t Change Anything in the Win Column

Just suppose Clemson makes Watson the starter. Would that change anything in the win column?

The answer is no. Making Watson the starter wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the Georgia game, and it won’t change the outcome of the matchup in two weeks with the Seminoles.

Going into an environment like the Tigers will see in Tallahassee, Florida, the offense will have to play without mistakes. While Watson hasn’t showed any signs of making mistakes yet, we have to remember that he was sitting in a high school classroom at this time last year.

In my opinion, Watson will go on to break all of Boyd’s passing records and will have a great career at Clemson, but putting him out there as the starter now is out of the question.

By the end of the season, maybe Watson will show that he deserves the job, but for now, there’s no quarterback controversy in Clemson.

Fans have opinions—and rightfully so—but the coaches have been around these two quarterbacks since the spring. They know the strengths and weaknesses of both guys, so fans have to trust that Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris will do what is in the best interest of the team moving forward.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA vs. Texas Complete Game Preview

When: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas

TV: Fox

No. 12 UCLA vs. Texas has taken on a new look since the preseason, when pundits such as NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread ranked it one of the top nonconference games of the 2014 campaign.

UCLA invades the Lone Star State Saturday with a 2-0 record but has struggled in each of its first two wins.

Meanwhile, Texas limps into AT&T Stadium shorthanded and trying to avoid a sub-.500 start for the second time in as many seasons. The Longhorns were blasted by Brigham Young in Week 2, 41-7.

As Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News notes, the 34-point margin of defeat was the most any Texas team has lost at home by since 1997, when the Longhorns sustained a 66-3 thrashing. Coincidentally, that loss came against UCLA.

Seventeen years after the infamous “Rout 66,” both the Bruins and Longhorns aim to inject life back into their seasons before each embarks on conference play. This is the last tuneup UCLA gets in preparation for the Pac-12 Conference slate, while Texas begins its Big 12 schedule.

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UCLA vs. Texas Complete Game Preview

When: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET Where: AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas TV: Fox No. 12 UCLA vs. Texas has taken on a new look since the preseason, when pundits such as NFL...

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Penn State Sanctions Lifted: How Big Is the Recruiting Impact for Nittany Lions?

The NCAA announced it has restored the Penn State Nittany Lions' eligibility for postseason play immediately while awarding them all 85 scholarships for the 2015 season. Bleacher Report college football analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss what this means for the program as a whole. How much of an impact will this have on its future?

Watch the video and let us know what you think.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rating Each Top 25 College Football Team as Contender or Pretender

If anything is certain after two weeks of the 2014 college football season, it's this: There's a lot of uncertainty.

Defending national champion Florida State has gone from a near-unanimous No. 1 in the preseason to one of six teams garnering first-place votes in the latest Associated Press poll after just two weeks of play. And that's without losing.

The short sample we have to work with has muddied up the playoff and national title picture more than cleared it up. With a few exceptions, most of the top teams are still in contention for big things, but how real are those chances? Are they just based on statistical probability or because that team truly has what it takes to be the champs?

We take a look at every team in the latest AP Top 25 and rate each as a pretender or contender and do our best to explain why. Think we're right, or way off base? Add your thoughts in the comment section.

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LSU Tigers vs. UL-Monroe Warhawks Complete Game Preview

LSU's welcome-back party in Tiger Stadium went spectacularly against Sam Houston State on Saturday night. 

The Tigers destroyed the Bearkats 56-0. The game featured three touchdowns from receiver Travin Dural and debut scores from true freshmen Leonard Fournette, Darrel Williams, Brandon Harris and Malachi Dupre. 

The shutout of Sam Houston State was LSU's first since 2010. The opponent, UL-Monroe, just happens to be the Tigers' next foe. 

The Warhawks are 2-0 and have already beaten a power-five conference team this season in Wake Forest. But defeating one of the SEC's juggernauts is completely different than defeating a cellar dweller ACC team. 

LSU is looking to move to 3-0 before welcoming its first SEC opponent, Mississippi State, to Tiger Stadium. Here is a preview for this week's matchup. 

 

What You Need to Know

Time: 6:00 p.m. CT 

Place: Tiger Stadium; Baton Rouge, Louisiana

TV: ESPNU

Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network, Warhawk Radio Network 

Spread: LSU by 28, via Oddsshark.com 

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USC vs. Boston College Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET

WHERE: Alumni Stadium; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

TV: ABC

At stake in the Week 3 USC vs. Boston College matchup in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, is the No. 9-ranked Trojans’ first 3-0 start since 2011.

USC comes into this cross-country affair off an impressive defensive showing against No. 15 Stanford on the road. The Trojans held the Cardinal to just 10 points despite six Stanford red-zone opportunities.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian described the win as emotional on his Sunday conference call but said USC cannot allow the high of beating the two-time defending Pac-12 champions interfere from preparation for this week.

"Our opponent, whether it's a perceived rival or not, or nonconference or not. ...The way we prepare, the way we practice shouldn't change based on opponent," he said. 

This week, the opponent is Boston College, which USC beat at home last season 35-7. The Trojans must avoid the potential apathy with this kind of matchup if they are to return to Pac-12 Conference play undefeated. 

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USC vs. Boston College Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET WHERE: Alumni Stadium; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts TV: ABC At stake in the Week 3 USC vs. Boston College matchup in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, is the No...

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Time for Texas QB David Ash to Walk Away from Game After Repeated Concussions

What's happening to Texas quarterback David Ash is incredibly unfair. 

In his Monday press conference, head coach Charlie Strong announced what could already have been assumed: that Ash is out indefinitely as he continues to recover from a concussion. Ash already missed Texas' Week 2 loss to BYU. 

The news brought about another tough moment in the discussion over whether Ash and Texas need to move in separate directions. Regardless of whether Ash is deemed healthy enough to return at some point this season, the painful reality should be addressed now:

It is in Texas' best interest, as much as it is in Ash's best interest, to move on.

Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes is the starting quarterback, according to Strong. Little went right in the 41-7 rout on Saturday, but Swoopes showed progress from his limited play in 2013 with a 20-of-31 passing performance for 176 yards, a touchdown and an interception. 

The bigger issue regarding Texas' offense lies up front with the absences of center Dominic Espinosa (ankle) and tackles Kennedy Estelle (suspension) and Desmond Harrison (suspension). Per Strong, Estelle and Harrison are still facing disciplinary action. 

The Horns' offense could be a liability all year because of that attrition. Rushing Ash back won't fix that. Strong knows this as well as anyone. 

"You have to be concerned, any time you have that number of concussions," Strong said about Ash (via FoxSports.com). "We will never jeopardize a young man's health for the sake of this football team. That will always be the case."

If we're being honest, how many people realistically expected Ash to return for the Longhorns' Week 3 game against UCLA? His concussion, believed to be sustained on the hit featured below against North Texas in Week 1, already cost him one game. 

It looked like a common tackle, and Ash apparently didn't display symptoms until later, but that matters not. The hit former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy took to his shoulder in the 2010 BCS national championship, which knocked McCoy out for the game, wasn't exactly a decleater, either. 

A player just has to be hit the right way. 

This is not Ash's first concussion. He missed practically all of last season because of one he sustained against BYU in the second game of the year. Keep in mind that it was an injury so bad that doctors wouldn't let him stand on the sidelines during games out of concern for what bright lights and loud sounds may do to him. 

The sensible response is that Ash should retire from football. It was the sensible response last year, too. Brain injuries are a hot-button topic in football and the future of the sport may very well depend on how they are dealt with going forward. 

Ash's future may depend on it. 

As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated wrote, Ash needs to be to tough enough to walk away: 

Ash’s situation encapsulates the complexity of the concussion issue in football. The game teaches a lot of qualities that serve players well on and off the field. It teaches them to persevere through discomfort, to sacrifice for teammates, to mentally push through physical obstacles. Unfortunately, these same traits work against players when it comes to concussions. A player can see a bone sticking through his skin. He knows to stop trying to get up and play. He can’t see a bruise on his brain. 

But Ash wanted to come back this year after being cleared by doctors in the offseason. His teammates wanted him back. Ash is a competitor and doesn't want to let anyone down, even though he would be doing nothing of the sort. It's the same reason why Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty played through two cracks in his spine against SMU even though he clearly didn't have to. 

Injuries are part of this violent sport. Yet we unreasonably hope that they will never cost a player his career. As safe as the powers-that-be can make this game—and they should exhaust all efforts to make it as safe as possible—stepping out on to the field each and every time is an assumed gamble. 

If Ash wants to take that gamble, is it Texas' prerogative to take that away from him? David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest explains the predicament

However, is that fair if doctors say he's cleared to play (while also warning of the high probability of future head injuries) and Texas holds him out? I probably would, but is it Texas' responsibility to do what's best for Ash even if he won't do it himself? Or do his coaches and the school ultimately have to let him take a risk considering it's not an immediate life or death situation? 

For folks watching this situation from afar, the decision for both Ash and Texas seems obvious. When you're emotionally invested, however, viewpoints change. That's what makes the decision to move on so difficult. But some of life's hardest choices are the correct ones. 

If Ash won't remove himself from playing, assuming he'll be able to play at all, Strong has indicated he could do it for him. And that will be the most painful decision of all for everyone involved. 

That's not fair, either. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The 10 Most Unexpected Developments from the Start of College Football Season

It doesn't matter how much research we embark on or how many numbers we crunch: When studying for a college football season, there is no way to see everything coming.

We learn this again each September, when, after only a couple of weeks, certain teams and players come from nowhere to defy expectations, both good and bad, reminding us how little we know.

This year, it started right from the opening whistle, when the first major game of the season featured a Top 10 team getting pummeled on its home field. From there, things have continued to spiral in a direction that we all did not expect.

It's soothing to know that, in this regard, the College Football Playoff era will be a lot like that of the Bowl Championship Series: predictable in its unpredictability. The only thing we know is that we do not know anything.

Here are 10 vivid reminders of that from the start of 2014.

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Florida State Football: What You Should and Shouldn't Be Concerned About

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher likes the early bye weeks. Following a grueling three weeks of preseason camp and a 2-0 start with wins over Oklahoma State and The Citadel, the Seminoles get a break to rest up and prepare for the ACC opener on Sept. 20 at home against Clemson.

And FSU could also use an extra week off following injuries to three defensive tackles—Eddie Goldman, Nile Lawrence-Stample and Justin Shanks.

"With the couple of injuries we had, I'd say it's a pretty good thing (to have a bye) so we can try to get guys healthy if we can," Fisher said. "You get to regroup. Preseason is over. You're going into your conference schedule. And you've got a big-time opponent coming in."

After FSU's first two weeks, here are a few things that you should be concerned about and a few you shouldn't be concerned about.

 

Be Concerned

Injuries at Defensive Tackle

The Citadel uses a triple-option offense, so it's tough enough to figure out where the ball may be going. But the job is more challenging because offensive linemen cut block, hitting defensive linemen at the knees. And one Bulldogs linemen said they were trying to injure FSU players, according to Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation.

The Seminoles lost starting defensive tackles Eddie Goldman and Nile Lawrence-Stample as well as backup Justin Shanks to cut blocks in the game. Losing Goldman, Lawrence-Stample or Shanks for any length of time would be difficult for FSU. The prospect of being shorthanded on the defensive line when FSU faces Clemson is a concern.

Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said he took exception to the cut blocks. "I kind of took it personally," Edwards said. "I felt like they were playing a little dirty, taking cheap shots, doing a little high-low (blocks) and things like that. So it kind of got the rest of the guys a little angry and made us want to play more."

 

Punting

Cason Beatty has punted six times for a 36.5-yard average. His longest punt has been just 40 yards. And the hang time on Beatty's punts haven't been great.

Fisher said that Beatty had a good preseason camp and that he was more consistent than walk-on punter Jonathan Hernandez. But if Fisher wants to open up the punting competition, a bye week is a good time.

 

Missed Tackles

It's tough to prepare for The Citadel, a triple-option team that is very similar to what Georgia Tech runs on offense. Scout teams can't replicate it well in practice, so FSU's first- and second-team defenses are learning more through film study and adjusting on the fly during the game.

Still, FSU missed too many tackles on Saturday, and that led to The Citadel converting 11 of 17 third-down opportunities. Cornerback Nick Waisome (who started in place of the injured P.J. Williams) and safety Tyler Hunter were among the players who struggled to wrap up Bulldogs running backs.

Noles247's Chris Nee writes that FSU allowed nine plays of 10 or more rushing yards and 15 or more passing yards, and that seven of those came in the first or fourth quarter. It's understandable when those plays happen late in a blowout against reserves and walk-ons. But it can't happen against the first- and second-team defense.

 

Don't Worry

The Offense Should Have Scored More

FSU was 4-of-14 on third-down conversions vs. Oklahoma State. Fisher said that was because the offense wasn't efficient enough on first and second down. But that only underscores the point: FSU wasn't good enough on first, second and third down.

The Seminoles were more efficient on offense vs. The Citadel. They scored touchdowns on all four first-half possessions and on all six of Jameis Winston's possessions. And there was much more run-pass balance in Week 2.

FSU has scored 30 or more points in 17 straight games. If the defense cleans up the missed tackles, FSU will put points on the board and win games.

 

The OL Could Be More Physical

FSU was often pushed around by an Oklahoma State defensive front in the opener. The Seminoles managed just 106 yards on 31 carries. On the flip side, the blocking was good for Mario Pender's 11-yard touchdown run, and while Jameis Winston's scrambling, leaping 28-yard touchdown run was impressive, he received some good downfield blocks to get to the end zone.

FSU had little trouble against The Citadel's defensive front. While that's to be expected, even the second-team offensive line played well. FSU didn't allow a sack and paved the way for 210 rushing yards on 35 carries (an average of six yards per carry).

 

FSU Isn't Dominating Teams (Yet)

The 2014 Seminoles will be compared to the 2013 team. Last year, FSU won 12 of 14 games by 30 or more points. This year, FSU escaped in the opener and beat The Citadel 37-12.

Neither win purely from a score standpoint looks overly impressive. But the win over Oklahoma State was gritty, and a few players said it was a good early wake-up call. Against The Citadel, FSU scored on all of Winston's possessions and kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter.

Media and fans need to avoid comparing the national championship team to the 2014 team. FSU is replacing 10 starters and clearly going through some growing pains. But the Seminoles are 2-0 and nobody should be too concerned about style points.

But the missed tackles and punting? Yes, those are two areas of concern. And the injuries at defensive tackle could be minor or significant. It's just too soon to tell—but FSU needs the three back to ensure a strong defense.

 

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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