NCAA Football

Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones Flips Out on Assistant Coach on Sideline

Butch Jones is angry. And he's taking it out on this poor assistant coach. 

During Tennessee's game vs. South Carolina, the Volunteers defense gave up a 70-yard touchdown run to fall to 42-28 in the fourth quarter.

So Butch Jones railed on this assistant coach and then came back for more. Stressed out much? 

But it's all good, as Tennessee went on to beat South Carolina 45-42 in overtime. 

[Saturday Down South]

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Auburn vs. Ole Miss: How Tigers' Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

In the space of two weeks, the Ole Miss Rebels went from being one of the best teams in the country to finding themselves on the periphery of the College Football Playoff. A 35-31 loss to the Auburn Tigers all but sealed their postseason fate.

Head coach Gus Malzahn said after the game that so many nail-biting finishes has instilled in his players a kind of confidence that they'll win no matter the circumstances, which will undoubtedly serve them well down the stretch, per ESPN.com's Travis Haney:

The Rebels nearly pulled off a miracle with 90 seconds remaining, but Laquon Treadwell fumbled at the goal line on what would've been the go-ahead touchdown, and Auburn recovered. Ole Miss's chance for a potential national championship was decided by mere inches.

Ethan Levine of Saturday Down South couldn't believe how quickly the team's fortunes changed:

ESPN's Paul Finebaum also felt for the Rebels but gave Auburn full credit for its victory:

Looking back at Saturday's results and forecasting how the next few weeks will unfold, these teams look like the best bet to make the four-team playoff.

It's very likely that a one-loss SEC West team will get into the playoff. With the dearth of exceptional teams across the college landscape, the door is open for one conference to send two representatives.

However, two losses would all but eliminate a team from the playoff discussion. Losing once and failing to win your conference but still getting in is already a bit of a stretch. The selection committee couldn't possibly consider a two-loss team without asking for massive ridicule.

Last week's defeat to LSU was far from the final nail in the Rebels' coffin. Ole Miss still had a chance to crack the top four as long as it won out for the rest of the season, which is of course much easier said than done. Beating Auburn would've been a great way to impress the selection committee all over again.

Instead, the Tigers reigned supreme and picked up a massive road win to supplant Ole Miss as the favorite to grab that second SEC bid. Some might put Alabama as the SEC West 1a team, but the Crimson Tide fell to Ole Miss in Oxford, so Auburn should get the slight edge.

The Tigers are basically in a "win and you're in" situation. Junior linebacker Kris Frost made sure his teammates know how much is on the line in these final few games, per Auburn Gold Mine:

Taking a look at Auburn's schedule for the rest of the regular season, there's a good chance—at least as good of a chance as anybody could have under the circumstances—that the Tigers win out.

Texas A&M's stock has dropped precipitously over the last few weeks, and the Aggies will be without the suspended Kenny Hill, per ESPN.com's Sam Khan Jr. The No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs also don't look nearly as daunting after their 38-20 loss to Florida.

As long as Auburn gets past those two games, the Tigers will head into the Iron Bowl still in pole position for the playoff.

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Auburn vs. Ole Miss: Score and Twitter Reaction

No. 3 Auburn defeated No. 4 Ole Miss on the road in a thrilling 35-31 affair fraught with implications for the SEC West and the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Auburn was able to hold on for a win in a truly bizarre and devastating fashion. Down 35-31 late in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace hit wideout Laquon Treadwell with a crisp pass.

Treadwell appeared to take the ball across the goal line, but a vicious tackle twisted his leg and he let go of the ball. Auburn recovered the resulting fumble and would go on to close out the game.

The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre summarized the unfortunate turn of events:

Here is a look at the quarter-by-quarter score:

Both teams came into the game with just one loss each in conference play. With so many great one-loss teams hanging around in other conferences, it was clear from the start that the losing side would have virtually no shot at reaching the College Football Playoff.

The contest truly lived up to the pregame hype, as the Tigers and Rebels spent the majority of the contest trading haymaker blows.

Auburn jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, with dual-threat quarterback Nick Marshall capping off a 73-yard drive by calling his own number on a two-yard touchdown run.

The Rebels tied the game on an I'Tavius Mathers run with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, setting the tone for the back-and-forth affair.

Marshall started off the second quarter with an ugly interception, one of his only true mistakes on the night, but Ole Miss couldn't take advantage and were forced to punt after a three-and-out.

Treadwell—who finished the game with 10 receptions for 103 yards—put the Rebels out in front 14-7 with a 10-yard touchdown catch, but Auburn answered right back with a huge play. Marshall hit wideout Sammie Coates for a 57-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14 apiece.

Coates flashed great speed on the play, and Auburn Tigers provided a look at the big score:

Ole Miss would add a field goal just before halftime to go into the locker room with a 17-14 lead.

The Rebels offense was clearly in much better sync than it was in their 10-7 loss to LSU in Week 9. However, USA Today's Dan Wolken noted the offensive line wasn't of great help in this one, although credit should also go to the Tigers' aggressive, hard-hitting defense:

Wallace did well to bounce back from a disastrous performance against LSU, and he finished this contest with 341 passing yards, three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and no interceptions.

The Rebels would add to their advantage on just their second drive of the third quarter. Wallace hit wideout Evan Engram for a 50-yard bomb, extending Ole Miss' lead to 24-14 and whipping the home crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium into a frenzy.

Marshall was having none of it, leading the Tigers to two straight scoring drives to take a 28-24 advantage heading into the final frame.

He notched his second rushing touchdown of the day on yet another plunge from the 2-yard line and then engineered a 96-yard clock-eater of a drive that ended in a 17-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Davis.

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that the Rebels' vaunted defense hadn't suffered this much abuse in quite some time:

Auburn's official Twitter account, via ESPN, provided a look at the thrilling go-ahead score:

Wallace would return the lead to the Rebels with a three-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the 31-28 lead was not long for this world. Running back Cameron Artis-Payne delivered a 35-31 advantage to the Tigers with a bulldozing six-yard touchdown run.

The high-scoring game was certainly a surprise to those expecting a classic defensive battle between two SEC powerhouses. 

With time running out, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze put his faith in Wallace. The senior quarterback marched his team into the red zone, completing several passes to Treadwell.

On 2nd-and-1 from the Auburn 6-yard line, Wallace would drop back to pass but felt pressure immediately. He stepped up and made a break for the line of scrimmage, but he would have the ball jarred loose as a pair of Auburn defenders brought him to the turf.

SportsCenter relayed the play, while ESPN Insider Travis Haney gave his take:

Neither team would be able to capitalize on its next drive, setting the stage for Ole Miss' bizarre finish. Wallace had done well to connect with Treadwell all game long, so it made sense he would go to his favorite target in crunch time.

With just over two minutes remaining, Wallace found Treadwell streaking toward the end zone. However, a crushing tackle forced a fumble and sent Treadwell to the locker room with a severe leg injury. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler noted the gruesome nature of the play:

The Associated Press' John Zenor added how Treadwell was taken off the field:

The Tigers would recover the fumble, but the offense couldn't seal the deal. A quick punt gave Ole Miss one last chance to pull off the win. Wallace couldn't come up with the big play at midfield, throwing three straight incompletions before a last-ditch lateral play fell well short as the clock hit double zeroes.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was well aware of his team's penchant for pulling out unlikely victories, per Haney:

Auburn now appears to have an inside track at a playoff spot, but that is far from a foregone conclusion with a brutal schedule in the coming weeks. Auburn still has to play Georgia and Alabama on the road this season, not to mention a potential trap game at home against Texas A&M on Nov. 8.

Should they somehow escape from that gauntlet unscathed, the playoff committee would be hard-pressed to find a reason to exclude the Tigers from getting a shot at the national title.

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Arik Armstead Injury: Updates on Oregon Star's Ankle and Return

Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a promising talent with a bright future, but before he captures that potential, he's going to have to stay on the field.

Andrew Greif of The Oregonian reports Armstead suffered a leg injury Saturday night against Stanford:

Kristin MacDougald of Comcast Sports Northwest showed Armstead in a brace walking off the field after the game:

While the multiple injuries won't help the draft stock of Armstead, who is expected to declare after this season, it's also a blow to Oregon's defensive line. ESPN's Jesse Palmer put it simply back when Armstead went down with his first injury this season:

An argument can be made for either Armstead or DeForest Buckner as the Ducks' best defensive lineman, but there's no denying the former's massive impact in the trenches.

Literally. At 6'8" and 290 pounds, Armstead is a towering force who sheds blocks and clogs running lanes, while also possessing the speed to hurry the quarterback.

Although he had a solid sophomore campaign, racking up three tackles for loss and a sack, the Pleasant Grove, California native has come into his own, beginning to show glimpses of that tantalizing potential in 2014. In particular, he tallied five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and a QB hurry against Michigan State earlier in the year, proving Oregon can compete with more physical teams.

The Oregonian's Jason Quick gave his assessment after that transcendent performance:

"The beast was finally released'' linebacker Tony Washington said, via Quick.

Unfortunately, the beast has once again been tamed, at least for now. Oregon has impressive depth in T.J. Daniel and Sam Kamp, but Helfrich and the Ducks will still be hoping not to be without their game-changing lineman for too long.

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Stanford vs. Oregon: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Stanford Cardinal traveled to Eugene and put on a solid performance early on, but the high-octane Oregon Ducks were too much to handle for a full 60 minutes. In the end, the home team emerged victorious by a score of 45-16.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota kicked things off with a methodical 14-play drive that lasted over four minutes and went 75 yards en route to a six-yard touchdown pass to Charles Nelson. Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com noted exactly how long it was since Oregon struck first when facing Stanford:

ESPN Stats & Info noted the significance of Mariota's touchdown pass:

Quarterback Kevin Hogan and the rest of Stanford's offense took the field thereafter, and the signal-caller led his team to the Oregon 30-yard line. The drive stalled, however, and the team settled for a Jordan Williamson 47-yard field goal.

While the drive cut into Oregon's lead, touchdowns would be needed from the Cardinal to compete in this Pac-12 clash.

Mariota picked up right where he left off on the ensuing drive. He picked up chunks of yards by completing passes to Byron Marshall and Devon Allen to quickly march down to the Stanford 22-yard line. From there, the quarterback showed what he can do with his legs, scrambling for the score.

Once again, Stanford drove down the field, but the team's drive stalled deep in Ducks territory. An incomplete pass intended for wide receiver Ty Montgomery on 3rd-and-12 resulted in another Williamson field goal, this time from 43 yards out.

The second quarter began with another long Oregon drive. Mariota remained efficient as a passer, and Royce Freeman showed off his wheels with a couple of nice runs. Twelve plays later, the Ducks found themselves at Stanford's 1-yard line.

Running back Thomas Tyner capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge. CSNNW tweeted the game's updated score:

A failed fourth-down attempt by Stanford on the following drive gave possession right back to the Ducks. Once again, Oregon drove inside the Cardinal 10-yard line, but an offensive pass interference penalty thwarted the team's bid at another touchdown. Oregon settled for an Aidan Schneider 40-yard field goal, increasing its lead to 24-6.

Hogan finally engineered a touchdown drive soon after, ensuring the game wouldn't get too far out of hand. He completed eight passes to four different receivers to move his team down to the Ducks 1-yard line. Patrick Skov took it from there, bulldozing his way into the end zone for the team's first touchdown.

Eye on College Football tweeted its thoughts on the score:

After a failed Oregon drive, the game entered halftime. CSNNW tweeted the teams' comparison at the break:

The third quarter ended in ominous fashion for the Cardinal. The team drove down to the Ducks 32-yard line, but a poor throw from Hogan resulted in an Erick Dargan interception. However, the results weren't disastrous, as Mariota threw a pick on the following drive.

Alex Carter's interception of Mariota marked the first time the quarterback had tossed a pick at home in a long time, according to College GameDay:

Stanford took advantage of the mishap but could only muster another field goal on the ensuing drive. Still, the 25-yarder got the Cardinal within eight points of the Ducks, making this a one-score game.

That wouldn't last long.

Oregon's ground game took over on the following drive, with Tyner putting an exclamation mark on the seventh play with a spinning 21-yard touchdown scamper. Here's Jerry Allen's call on the amazing run, via Oregon's radio color analyst Mike Jorgensen:

The score gave the Ducks 31 points on the day, ending Stanford's 31-game streak of allowing less than 30 points, according to ESPN's Kyle Bonagura:

We entered the fourth quarter soon after, and Oregon just continued to pour it on.

A Hogan fumble was scooped up by Tony Washington and returned 21 yards down to the Stanford 30. Following a Stanford holding penalty, Mariota showed his ability to make plays with his legs once again, rushing for a seven-yard score.

SportsCenter tweeted an update on the quarterback's performance to that point in the game:

The quarterback was at it again after another Stanford punt. This time Mariota favored Darren Carrington, hitting him for 17 yards to move deep inside Cardinal territory, and then again for a 25-yard touchdown strike. Tony Di Francisco of CFBMatrix.com tweeted his feelings on the signal-caller:

Stanford's offense gave a great effort on the ensuing drive. Evan Crower came in at quarterback with the game out of hand and led the offense down to the Oregon 1-yard line. Unfortunately, this time Skov couldn't punch it in and the team turned the ball over on downs.

From there, Oregon's offense was able to run out the clock and secure the victory.

Vic Lombardi of CBSDenver.com tweeted his thoughts on the team following the game:

This was an unfortunate loss for Stanford. The Cardinal are clinging to a 5-4 overall record and fall to 3-3 in Pac-12 play. The team still needs to notch another win to gain bowl eligibility, but it has a difficult road ahead with contests against Utah, California and UCLA remaining.

Stanford entered Saturday's contest with the nation's top-ranked scoring defense, and while that standing isn't likely to hold following the game against Oregon, this is still a talented team on both sides of the ball. Expect to see the Cardinal make a bowl appearance later this season.

Oregon produced a huge home win. The game's result keeps the team strongly in the running to participate in this year's College Football Playoff, and given the dominant offensive showing against such a strong defense, the Ducks will be a team to be reckoned with.

While Oregon does have to contend with Utah on November 8, with contests against Colorado and Oregon State to close out the regular season, there's no reason to think this team stands to lose another contest for the remainder of the year.

The Ducks are firmly solidified among the nation's elite.

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Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Arkansas Razorbacks continue to be a thorn in the sides of the SEC West elite, as they pushed the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs to the brink in what proved to be a 17-10 victory for Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday night.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Mississippi State is now 8-0 for the first time in over a decade:

Earlier in the year, the Razorbacks should've beaten the then-No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies, only to fall in overtime. Two weeks after that, Arkansas had a fourth-quarter lead over the Alabama Crimson Tide, but eventually lost 14-13.

Saturday's game was the fifth SEC contest in a row that Bret Bielema's team played an opponent ranked in the Top 10. Heading into the weekend, he said his aim wasn't simply to play talented opponents, but to beat them.

"We're setting all kinds of record for us as far as people that we’re playing, but we came here to set records for wins," Bielema said, per Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau. "There's no better opportunity than this week against a very, very talented football team."

Arkansas' rushing attack, when it's on, is enough to dominate the stingiest defenses in the nation. Mississippi State had the 23rd-best rushing defense in the country before Saturday, so that strength-on-strength battle was bound to decide the game.

In the end, Arkansas rushed for 163 yards as a team, which is about 100 yards below its season average. The Bulldogs defense wasn't lights-out, but it did just enough.

The Razorbacks gave Mississippi State fits for three-fourths of the game, until one defensive breakdown gifted the Bulldogs their first lead. Sophomore wideout Fred Ross was left wide open, and junior quarterback Dak Prescott found him for a 69-yard touchdown pass that put Mississippi State ahead 17-10 with 13:21 left in the fourth quarter:

On their next drive, the Razorbacks marched down the field and earned a 1st-and-goal at the Mississippi State 9-yard line. However, Bielema had a dilemma after his team failed to get in the end zone after their first three downs: Take the easy three points or go for the touchdown.

He opted to go for all the points, but sophomore running back Alex Collins was stuffed for no gain at the Bulldogs' 3-yard line.

Mississippi State couldn't kill the clock completely on their next drive, but it ate up 2:36. A long third-down conversion helped to extend the drive and take more precious seconds off the clock:

Arkansas got the ball back with 2:29 to play but couldn't get the game-tying score. Bulldogs defensive back Will Redmond intercepted Brandon Allen in the end zone with 15 seconds left to seal the victory.

It was Allen's only big mistake of the game. The junior QB threw for 238 yards on 22-of-43 passing. Collins was the team's leading rusher, with 93 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Prescott didn't have a great game, but he did little to hurt his Heisman Trophy chances. He wound up with 331 yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions in addition to 61 yards on the ground.

Mississippi State dodged a major bullet, but the best teams find a way to win even they aren't performing their best. For Arkansas, it's yet another heart-breaking defeat.

Bielema couldn't have asked for a better start from his team.

Arkansas took an early 3-0 lead with 9:50 left in the first quarter after a 36-yard field goal from sophomore Adam McFain.

The Razorbacks carried that slim advantage into the second quarter, which was the first time they'd done so in the SEC since last year's game against Mississippi State, per ESPN Stats & Info. Coincidentally, they lost that game, too:

Collins made it a double-digit game in the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown run. The key to any upset is capitalizing on mistakes, and that's what Arkansas did with the scoring drive. The Razorbacks had a short field after Bulldogs return man Jamoral Graham muffed a punt.

With the score, the top-ranked Bulldogs found themselves in a position foreign to them in 2014, per the SEC Network:

Arkansas' euphoria was short-lived, however, as Robinson barreled his way into the end zone from three yards out to cut the Bulldogs' deficit to three points, 10-7, with 7:30 until halftime. Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger credited Robinson and Prescott for their roles in helping Mississippi State score its first points:

Although the Razorbacks carried their 10-7 lead into the second half, there was a sense that the Bulldogs' best football was yet to come. Wess Moore of Fox 16 in Little Rock also wondered if Mississippi State's superior depth would play a role as the game went on:

Sophomore kicker Evan Sobiesk tied the game at 10-10 with a 37-yard field goal late in the third quarter. That set the stage for Prescott's go-ahead TD pass that proved decisive and kept the Bulldogs alive in the playoff hunt.

Mississippi State gets a bit of a warm-up game against Tennessee-Martin before taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Egg Bowl on Nov. 29 also looms large on the horizon.

Arkansas may have to wait for that first SEC win a little while longer. The Razorbacks play No. 19 LSU two weeks from today and follow that with a meeting against No. 4 Ole Miss.

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Laquon Treadwell Injury: Updates on Mississippi Star's Ankle and Recovery

Ole Miss star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was carted off the field in the fourth quarter of the team's game against the Auburn Tigers Saturday night with an apparent leg injury.

CBS Sports' Dane Brugler reported the injury:

John Zenor of the Associated Press reports how Treadwell left the field:

Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger had more detail:

Patrick Magee of the Sun Herald had more from Hugh Freeze after the game:

Treadwell appeared to injure his left ankle when his leg got caught under a defender. Ty Duffy of The Big Lead shows the play here. (Warning: Due to graphic nature of injury, video is NSFW).

The sophomore from Crete, Illinois, was in obvious pain as he went down with his team trailing 35-31 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

Treadwell was having a phenomenal game before being injured, hauling in 10 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. On the season, Treadwell has 48 catches for 632 yards and five touchdowns.

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Florida's Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor Take Home CFB's Top Performer for Week 10

Week 10 gave us many fantastic individual performances in the world of college football. A big surprise was the Florida Gators' dismantling of the Georgia Bulldogs, 38-20. The Gators' Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor led the charge, earning them the honor of our college football top performers. 

Taylor rushed for 197 yards on 25 carries to go along with two touchdowns, while Jones accounted for 192 on the ground with two scores. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the duo's monster performance. 

Was this the best performance this season for a running back tandem?

Check out the video and let us know! 

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Oregon's Thomas Tyner Jukes Stanford's Jordan Richards with Nasty Spin Move

Oregon running back Thomas Tyner just showed us what a full-speed spin move looks like. 

The Ducks were driving against Stanford, one of the best defenses in the nation, when Tyner busted up the middle and hit the spin move against safety Jordan Richards, who was left hugging the air. That 21-yard score put Oregon up 31-16 in the third quarter. 

Better luck next time. 

[Fox Broadcast]

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Utah vs. Arizona State: Live Score and Highlights

The hotly contested race for the Pac-12 South title will get a little bit clearer on Saturday night as Arizona State hosts Utah in a battle of ranked conference foes.

The 14th-ranked Sun Devils have looked the part of a serious divisional contender all season long other than a slip-up against UCLA, as they sit atop the Pac-12 South with a 4-1 conference record. They have everything left in front of them with aspirations of a conference title and an outside shot for the College Football Playoff.

But the Utes could put a huge damper on those hopes with a big road win, and it's safe to say they won't be short on confidence. Utah has already beat Michigan, then-No. 8 UCLA and Oregon State all on the road this season.

Despite Utah being a shocking one-point loss to Washington State away from a perfect record, Odds Shark has Arizona State as 6.5-point favorites at home.

It's a late kickoff at 11 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. If you can't catch the action there, stay up late with us here as we break it all down live.

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Utah vs. Arizona State: Live Score and Highlights

The hotly contested race for the Pac -12 South title will get a little bit clearer on Saturday night as Arizona State hosts Utah in a battle of ranked conference foes...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Nebraska's Playoff Hopes Rest on Ameer Abdullah's Health

The road to the College Football Playoffs isn't an easy one for Nebraska. It's only been made more difficult with I-back Ameer Abdullah's injury.

Against Purdue, Abdullah suffered a "mild MCL sprain." The injury came in the first quarter as the senior tried to recover a loose ball near the goal line. Bo Pelini confirmed Abdullah's injury during the postgame press conference, adding that he'd already had an MRI and the staff was "optimistic."

However, even Pelini knows he can't make guarantees about Abdullah's status against Wisconsin. "We feel really good about where he is. I'm optimistic about that, yeah," Pelini said. "But I can't say for sure, and I don't know that."

With a positive but uncertain diagnosis, it's now about whether or not the No. 15-ranked Huskers can stay in contention for the playoffs without Abdullah. If nothing else, it's going to be a major challenge.

Abdullah has become the X-factor of the Nebraska offense in 2014. Whether the team wants to admit that out loud, the lack of Abdullah on the field does show. After all, the numbers the I-back has put up so far this season are impressive.

Pelini, however, believes it doesn't all fall on Abdullah's shoulders. "I mean if it did, then we're not mentally tough enough to get done what we need to get done," Pelini said. "Heck, Ameer's a great player, but he's not Superman."

And he's right. Abdullah isn't Superman, but he has been a major asset to the Nebraska offense. Without him, things just don't seem to work as well. That doesn't mean the offense shuts down without him.

"I don't think it affected our other guys," Pelini said. "If anything, it should make them want to rise up and play that much harder and rally around each other when a great player goes out."

In his absence, Imani Cross and Terrell Newby did step up. Cross had 66 yards and two touchdowns on 20 attempts. Newby, on the other hand, had 42 yards and one touchdown on nine attempts.

And, of course, the Huskers ultimately won 35-14. But it was still a performance Pelini called sloppy. "That's about it," he said when assessing the offense.

Was that because Abdullah was out? Quarterback Tommy Armstrong was clear that the offense approached Purdue the same, with or without Abdullah.

"The game plan never changed," Armstrong said. "We have athletes all over the field. Unfortunately he went down, but we had guys that stepped up. That's their job. They play every game like they're a starter and they did a great job."

Yet, the offense was still sloppy, as Pelini pointed out multiple times. Even Armstrong noted that the offense was struggling with communication, which was creating issues. Can the fact that Abdullah was on the sidelines be a primary reason the offense had those struggles?

"You know, let's not read too much into this," Pelini said. "At the end of the day, we were sloppy at times. We did some good things. We've got to keep improving. That's what the next two weeks is about for us."

Ultimately, Abdullah needs to get healthy. That is the first priority for the senior. With the bye week up next, it allows Abdullah to heal and the offense to get back on track.

It's hard to say a team is based around one player. For Nebraska, at least on the offensive side of the ball, Abdullah is a major component of the team. When he's in the game, his impact is noticeable.

Even when Abdullah is healthy but limited by an opposing defense, it's clear the Huskers struggle. The two games prior to Purdue in which that happened were against McNeese State and Michigan State. While the Huskers only lost to the Spartans, both teams recognized the important of Abdullah and held him to 54 and 45 yards, respectively.

Armstrong was clear that Nebraska's performance against Purdue would not fly against a team like Wisconsin or Iowa. He and his teammates know that's something they'll have to get sorted out during the bye week.

"We all understand what's at stake," Cross said. "That's the Big Ten Championship."

It's also the playoffs. For the Huskers to keep the hopes alive for both, Abdullah will need to get healthy. If he does not, November could end up being a much rockier road for Nebraska than previously expected.

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

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Texas CB Quandre Diggs Destroys Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the hits!

Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs lined up Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes and laid him out with a clean hit, forcing the ball out and Mahomes from the game.

Texas jumped on the ball, and Texas Tech had to go to its third QB, Vinny Testaverde, son of the retired NFL QB. 

[Vine]

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USC Football: Trojans' Killer Instinct Will Be Key to Strong Finish to 2014

In its 44-17 rout of Washington State Saturday, USC demonstrated the “killer instinct” head coach Steve Sarkisian said this week he was working to instill in his team...

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Arizona vs. UCLA: Live Score and Highlights

Arizona 0, UCLA 0, Early 1st Quarter

The Arizona Wildcats and UCLA Bruins are underway in this conference matchup. The Bruins will look to stay in contention in the Pac-12, but they can't afford to lose this game.

The Wildcats will look to continue their impressive season and improve on their No. 12 ranking.

You can watch the game on ESPN, but stay right here for live updates and analysis.

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Arizona vs. UCLA: Live Score and Highlights

Arizona 7, UCLA 0, Late 1st Quarter The Arizona Wildcats and UCLA Bruins are underway in this conference matchup. The Bruins will look to stay in contention in the Pac-12, but they can't afford to lose this game...

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West Virginia Showing Flashes, Still Not Back to Elite Status of Rich Rod Days

West Virginia blew a 27-14 lead against TCU on Saturday, losing to the Horned Frogs, 31-30, on a last-second field goal by Jaden Oberkrom. (A taste of its own medicine, if you will.)

The Mountaineers dropped to 6-3 on the season, losing for the third time to a team then-ranked in the Top 10. They hung tough with Alabama in the season-opener and Oklahoma in September but never flat-out blew a game the way they did against TCU.

The loss served as a reminder that West Virginia, while easily one of the most improved teams and biggest surprises in the country, is still not back to the apex it reached in the mid-2000s under former head coach Rich Rodriguez—or even the level of its Orange Bowl season three years ago under current head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Pre-Big 12 West Virginia found a way to win these games.

The most alarming development from Saturday's loss—and the biggest reason West Virginia didn't win the game—was sloppiness.

Five Mountaineers possessions ended in turnovers, including three in a four-possession span during the first half when they otherwise had TCU on the ropes. Quarterback Clint Trickett had an expert first drive before regressing into his worst game of the season, averaging just 6.2 yards per attempt, fumbling away a mishandled snap and throwing a pair of equally ill-advised interceptions.

The first (alluded to below by Rotoworld's Josh Norris) was a telegraph that safety Chris Hackett leaped in front of, and the second (alluded to below by Sporting News' Matt Hayes) was a lazy attempt at a throwaway that linebacker Paul Dawson clawed out of the air:

Holgorsen will be questioned for his conservative game plan on WVU's final three possessions, during which he called seven rushing plays and two passing plays for a grand total of minus-seven yards.

But one of those two passing plays was a sack that Trickett fumbled, and West Virginia was lucky to recover. It's hard not to empathize with Holgorsen's reluctance on a day in which his offense had five turnovers and easily could have had seven or eight.

The problem was not that Holgorsen didn't trust his offense.

The problem was that he couldn't.

And therein lies the difference between the West Virginia teams that routinely played in BCS bowls and the West Virginia team that routinely loses close games against Top 10 opponents. The former was a dogged offensive machine that kept its foot on the pedal and turned small leads into big leads and big leads into huge ones.

The latter only plays that well on occasion.

"I take responsibility for what happened out there offensively," said Holgorsen after the game. "It was bad. It was not acceptable, and it's not gonna win football games. To turn the ball over five times and average what we averaged per play is completely unacceptable.

"We'll get back to work on that tomorrow."

When they do, however, the Mountaineers will no longer be working toward a Big 12 championship or a pipe-dream shot of making the College Football Playoff. Instead, they'll be working toward a nine-win regular season and a shot of ruining Kansas State's CFP hopes.

There is no shame in working toward those goals on the heels of a 4-8 season, especially for a team that entered 2014 with deflated expectations. Making a bowl game of any sort is a small step in the right direction. Flirting with a 10-win season is a huge one.

It's just not the step this team has shown flashes of having taken. It's not the step that allowed the 'Eers to upset Baylor in Week 8. It's not the step that lured College GameDay to Morgantown, West Virginia, for the first time since the Orange Bowl season of 2011.

That next step is learning how to finish.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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USC vs. Washington State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Trojans and Cougars

The USC Trojans got back to their winning ways on Saturday in Pullman, Washington, against the Washington State Cougars, winning a Pac-12 road affair by the score of 44-17.

The injury of Connor Halliday took all the wind out of the Washington State sails on Saturday, but the offense admirably bounced back in his absence and still found some success. However, there was no stopping USC as it had plenty of good things going in its lopsided win.

Take a look below at game grades for both teams.

Pass offense: Cody Kessler was magnificent in the passing game, going 21-of-32 with 400 yards and five touchdowns. Averaging 12.5 yards per attempt was a huge step up as well, and Nelson Agholor had the best game of his career on the outside. The junior wideout finished with eight grabs for 220 yards and a receiving score among his two touchdowns.

Run offense: USC’s inability to establish the run played a part in the Trojans’ early shortcomings, but things somewhat turned around. They finished with 127 yards on 32 attempts, but the Trojans would have liked to set more of a tone there after getting the early 14-0 lead. Still, Javorius “Buck” Allen finished with more than 100 yards for the sixth straight game. 

Pass defense: The Trojans secondary started Saturday’s game outside of the top 75 in passing yards allowed per game and faced a tough test in Washington State’s Air Raid attack. USC made some big plays early including an interception from Hayes Pullard, but freshman Luke Falk’s success allowed the Cougars to finish with more first downs than USC. 

Run defense: USC’s run defense on Saturday inevitably boiled down to a pass rush, with Washington State almost never running the ball. But with Halliday going down early, the Cougars took it to the ground, and the Trojans had no trouble keeping them below two yards per carry as a unit.

Special teams: Agholor’s punt-return touchdown early in the game set the tone, and without it, the Trojans would have been in much more of a fight early on. Agholor made his mark all over the game but especially in the return game. 

Coaching: The lack of a pass rush was somewhat confusing, but it also allowed for USC to keep the Air Raid in front of it and stay in control. That’s exactly what the Trojans did, and the coaches also did a solid job of getting the ball in Agholor’s hands as much as possible.

Pass offense: Halliday’s injury could have been a deathblow to Washington State’s offensive game plan, but Falk stepped in admirably. He went for 370 yards through the air, and his only interception was an end-of-half heave. Early struggles set the tone for a low-scoring game for the Cougars, but other than that there were positives to be found through the air.

Run offense: The Cougars ran it 24 times to their 66 pass attempts, which is actually staggering for a team that almost exclusively passes it. To say it didn’t work would be an understatement. Washington State averaged 1.3 yards per carry as a team, rushing for just 34 yards. 

Pass defense: The Washington State secondary made some plays early in the game but was no match for Agholor and JuJu Smith. The former constantly got to the outside for big yardage, while the latter caught three touchdowns. A whopping 400 yards through the air for USC isn’t a good look for Washington State. 

Run defense: The running lanes were nowhere to be found for USC early on, but with Kessler’s emergence through the air came gaping holes for the Trojans backs. Late in the game, Allen reached the 100-yard plateau and turned a decent game for the Cougars’ defensive front into a poor one.

Special teams: The only positive special teams contributions from Washington State were seven punts from Jordan Dascalo, three of which went inside the 20. But when seven punts are your best special teams plays, is it even a positive at all?

Coaching: Mike Leach tried to lean a bit more on the run game when Halliday went down, but it just didn’t work. He simply had to stick to the aerial assault with the freshman Falk in, and the coach avoided an even uglier finish by keeping Falk slinging as he started to find a lot of success late.

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USC vs. Washington State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Trojans and Cougars

The USC Trojans got back to their winning ways on Saturday in Pullman, Washington, against the Washington State Cougars, winning a Pac-12 road affair by the score of 44-17...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

TCU vs. West Virginia: Game Grades, Analysis for the Mountaineers

This was a game that West Virginia University will definitely want back. The Mountaineers led by nine in the fourth quarter, but TCU stormed back and kicked a game-winning field goal to win 31-30.

West Virginia really hurt its defense by turning the ball over in the first half, but the Horned Frogs were unable to capitalize on the mistakes. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin played his worst game of the season—throwing for only 166 yards—but he made plays down the stretch when it mattered.

It was a combination of sloppy offensive performances and exciting defensive plays. TCU defensive back Chris Hackett forced a fumble and also recorded an interception.

You can find the box score here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

 

Game Grades for the West Virginia Mountaineers

 

Passing Offense

Clint Trickett finished this game 15-of-26 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was often off-target with his throws, and he seemed to stare down receivers on certain plays. Star wide receiver Kevin White was also shut down, only totaling three catches for 28 yards.

With the double coverages on White, it seems that West Virginia should have been able to find another target to consistently throw to.

 

Rushing Offense

The Mountaineers came out with a game plan to run the ball and control the line of scrimmage. This was successful in the first half and led to a huge difference in time of possession. It was another solid day for the rushing attack, finishing with 195 yards.

Dreamius Smith had a 50-yard run that really got the crowd going, and Wendell Smallwood added 64 yards.

 

Pass Defense

Although it gave up some plays in the fourth quarter, it was a great day for the West Virginia secondary. Boykin was on fire coming into this game, and he was held to only 166 yards and one passing touchdown.

 

Run Defense

The run defense was shaky at times, allowing TCU to rush for 223 yards. B.J. Catalon averaged 5.3 yards per carry and ended the day with 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Boykin used his legs and was able to rush for 49 yards, and Aaron Green also added 63 yards.

 

Coaching

There was a lot to look back on and ask “what if” in this game. The play-calling in the fourth quarter was very conservative, and it allowed TCU to stay in rhythm and build momentum.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen’s play-calling was very questionable at times, and the decision to hold the timeouts at the end was also debatable. TCU was already in field-goal range, and West Virginia had three timeouts to use.

 

Special Teams

Josh Lambert was great in this game, going 3-of-3 on his kicks. He has been solid all year long, and he made some big kicks in this game.

Punter Nick O’Toole also averaged 45.4 yards per punt in this game, adding one inside the 20-yard line.

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