NCAA Football

How Penn State's Loss to Maryland Impacts Nittany Lions' Quest to Make Bowl Game

When the NCAA eliminated the final two years of Penn State’s postseason ban connected to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it was viewed as a major victory for James Franklin and the Nittany Lions program.

An improving Penn State team could be rewarded for its play with a bowl trip two years early. Win-win, right?

That, of course, was predicated on Penn State putting together the six wins required to qualify for postseason play. What once looked like a fait accompli—the Nittany Lions started the year with four straight victories—suddenly doesn’t look so easy as we roll into the final month of the Big Ten regular season.

Saturday’s ugly 20-19 loss to border rival Maryland dropped the Nittany Lions to 4-4, meaning they must win at least two of their final four games to become bowl eligible.

Penn State’s schedule offers opportunities to do just that, but it is by no means a given.

Next week, the Nitanny Lions travel to play an Indiana team that entered this week’s game against Michigan reeling from blowout losses to Iowa and Michigan State while starting freshman quarterback Zander Diamont.

A home game against Temple follows on Nov. 15, and the Owls should not be taken lightly. Matt Rhule’s team blasted Vanderbilt in its season opener and is coming off a 20-10 upset of East Carolina, ranked No. 23 in the initial College Football Playoff Top 25.

A trip to Illinois follows, and while the Illini have been up and down this season, they did beat a good Minnesota team in Champaign.

Penn State closes the regular season against No. 8 Michigan State, which looks like the Big Ten’s best program.

If the Nittany Lions enter that game needing a win for bowl eligibility, they’re in serious, serious trouble.

On paper, Penn State looks like a safe bet to get at least two wins and make a bowl. But the Lions need far better play from their offense and sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Hackenberg had his worst game of the season Saturday, completing just 18 of 42 passes for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Penn State’s rebuilt offensive line has given him no time to work; Hackenberg was sacked four times Saturday. Through eight games, he has been sacked 29 times after being sacked just 21 times all of last season.

Saturday could have been worse, too: Maryland had a touchdown return of a Hackenberg interception nullified following a roughing-the-passer penalty on a Terrapin defender.

Penn State had just one offensive touchdown and managed only 42 yards rushing. The Nittany Lions offense has been one-dimensional, as it entered the game averaging only 82.1 yards per game rushing, sixth-worst in the FBS.

Even if the Lions make a bowl game, they’d love to roll in with some momentum. To do so, the offense and Hackenberg must carry their weight going forward.

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Ameer Abdullah Injury: Updates on Nebraska Star's Knee and Return

Ameer Abdullah is arguably the most important player on the Nebraska offense, which is why the latest development from the Cornhuskers is concerning.

The senior running back suffered a knee on a fumble recovery against Purdue in the first half. Matt Coatney of provided an update on his status:

ESPN's Brian Bennett revealed the diagnosis:

Nebraska had more from Bo Pelini after the game:

This is worrisome for Nebraska because of how productive Abdullah has been the last couple of years. During the 2013 season, he ran for 1,690 yards and nine touchdowns and added 232 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the passing game. He ran for 1,137 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 and tallied 178 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air.

He has also been incredibly durable for the Cornhuskers, which is why this injury is somewhat surprising. He played in all 27 games the past two years for Nebraska, which helped him put up those big numbers.

Abdullah has been an even bigger piece of the offense in 2014. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is only a sophomore, and though he's improved this season, he's still leaned heavily on Abdullah. The tailback entered Saturday with 1,418 total yards and 19 touchdowns. 

Abdullah also had All-Big Ten aspirations heading into the season, and Ralph D. Brown of Channel 8 ABC believed that Braxton Miller’s injury opened the door for Abdullah to win some impressive hardware:

Remember, Ohio State's Miller won the past two Silver Footballs as the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player, so the award was up for grabs heading into the 2014 campaign. One of Abdullah’s biggest competitors is Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, and he had nothing but positive things to say about Abdullah, via Sam McKewon of

“He’s so shifty, he’s so quick, he’s explosive and he’s stronger than most people think," Gordon said. "His cuts, they’re so on point. He’s exciting.”

Nebraska, which entered Saturday 7-1 and tied atop the Big Ten West Division, hopes to see some more of those cuts this season after this latest injury.

The Cornhuskers knocked off Georgia in the Gator Bowl last year and had eyes on carrying that momentum into this season. What’s more, they lost in the Big Ten Championship Game in 2012 to Wisconsin and have yet to win a conference title since coming to the league.

To get that proverbial monkey off their back this year, they'll likely need a healthy Abdullah on the field.

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Florida Gators Run Fake Field Goal for a Touchdown vs. Georgia

The Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs always come to play in their yearly rivalry game, and they're not afraid to call some gutsy plays.

Down 7-0 in the second quarter, the Gators ran a fake field goal, and it paid off. Instead of holding for the kicker, Michael McNeely cradled the ball and sprinted to the right for a 21-yard touchdown.

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Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Live Score and Highlights

Arkansas 3, Mississippi State 0 - Start 2nd Qtr

The Arkansas Razorbacks and the Mississippi State Bulldogs have kicked things off at Davis Wade Stadium. The game is currently airing on ESPN 2. 

Arkansas is coming off a big win against UAB, while Miss State looks to remain undefeated and stay on top of the College Football Playoff Rankings. 

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

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Louisiana-Monroe vs. Texas A&M: Game Grades, Analysis for the Aggies

It was not a pretty game to say the least, but the Texas A&M University Aggies slipped past the University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) 21-16. The final box score can be found here thanks to

The Aggies were looking for a bounce-back game against ULM after losing their last three consecutive games. And even though they won the game, they struggled doing it. They could not get anything going on offense, and the defense still has some things that need to be corrected.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin played more young players than normal, but there is really no excuse for only scoring 21 points against a Sun Belt team. But the schedule will not get any easier, so the Aggies need to move on and get ready for the rest of their SEC schedule.

Here are game grades and analysis for the Aggies.


Passing Offense

It was Kyle Allen’s debut, and the true freshman did not have the best first showing, completing 13 of 28 passes for 106 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It was clear the nerves were getting to Allen, and he could never get into a rhythm. But then again, the Aggies were rarely on the field in the second half, and Allen had to force a lot more throws than he should have had to. He’ll get better as time goes on, and he will need to because the passing offense is the Aggies' strength.


Running Offense

One of the things the Aggies wanted to do to take the pressure off Allen was run the ball with Brandon Williams and Tra Carson. The Aggies rushed for 137 yards on 41 carries, which is not something to brag about. Like the passing game, the run game was inconsistent. The Aggies ran the ball well in the first half but got away from it in the second half. Williams and Carson are two good backs that can make an impact. But the Aggies need to make a better effort to run the ball moving forward.


Passing  Defense

The Warhawks threw for 269 yards, but they attempted 48 passes. While the Aggies aren’t great defensively, they should not have let ULM throw all over the field. The one good thing for the Aggies is the Warhawks were only 7-of-17 on third down conversions because the defensive line was able to generate pressure. But the secondary needs to get better because ULM quarterback Pete Thomas found holes in the zone on a consistent basis.


Running Defense

ULM only had 78 rushing yards because the Aggies' defensive line was able to beat the Warhawks' offensive line consistently. Myles Garrett did have three sacks on the day, but he also was effective in the run game with six tackles. Hardreck Walker also had a strong game with six tackles. The defensive line is a talented group that can get after skill players. If they can get the back seven right, the Aggies can be a strong defensive unit.


Special Teams

The kicking game and return game were solid for the Aggies. Speedy Noil averaged 15.2 yards per punt return, and Drew Kaser averaged 42 yards per punt. One of the reasons the Aggies were able to hold onto the win was the play of the special teams. Noil is a dangerous return specialist that helped the Aggies jump to a 21-7 lead late in the second half with a big punt return. And Kaser’s punts were able to pin the Warhawks back to where they could not finish drives.



There’s no doubt Sumlin is a great coach. But Sumlin and the coaching staff did not do a great job getting the players mentally ready to play against ULM. The players did not look very enthusiastic about being back on the field, and it showed, as the Warhawks were always in the ball game. Also, there were some questionable calls toward the end of the game. The Aggies did not run out the clock late in the game because the coaches decided to have Allen throw twice, and he did not complete either one of them. It looked like the coaches had the players ready for a scrimmage and not a regular-season non-conference game.

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Tennessee vs. South Carolina: Live Score and Highlights

Tennessee 0, South Carolina 7, Middle of 1st Quarter

The Tennessee Volunteers (3-5, 0-4 SEC) vs. the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-4, 2-4 SEC) is underway at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Vols are still looking for their first SEC win of the season under second-year head coach Butch Jones. Tennessee defeated South Carolina 23-21 last season with a short field goal as time expired. 

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks are looking for revenge and to get back on track in the SEC East in the midst of a disappointing season and a string of three straight conference losses. 

Can Tennessee sophomore quarterback Joshua Dobbs replicate the success he had throwing and rushing against Alabama last week, or will South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier find a way to fix his team's porous defense in time for tonight's matchup?

Stay tuned right here for live updates and analysis as the game progresses. 

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Oklahoma vs. Iowa State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Sooners

The No. 18 University of Oklahoma Sooners hammered the Iowa State University Cyclones for 751 offensive yards en route to a dominant 59-14 Big 12 conference victory.

Oklahoma scored the first 21 points of the game and relied on its rushing attack to overpower the Cyclones, which it did in convincing fashion.

Pass Offense: Trevor Knight is certainly electric with his feet, but his decision-making under center can be questionable at times. He completed 22 of 35 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns, but he stared down receivers multiple times, tossing two interceptions.

After high-pointing a 46-yard bomb on Oklahoma's first offensive play, Sterling Shepard exited the game due to a groin injury. His absence was definitely felt, but Durron Neal and Michiah Quick combined to make 13 receptions for 116 yards. Blake Bell caught two scores, while K.J. Young reeled in his first career touchdown.

Run Offense: The Sooners essentially provided the definition of "dominant" on the ground. Behind a powerful offensive line, Oklahoma racked up 510 yards and 29 first downs, picking up an average of 8.6 yards per carry.

Knight was excellent in the read-option and on counter runs, finishing with 146 yards and three touchdowns. Alex Ross added 144 yards, while Samaje Perine contributed 110 and a score. David Smith chipped in 76 yards and found the end zone once.

Pass Defense: Other than being fried on a double-move by D'Vario Montgomery, the Sooners contained an Iowa State passing attack that had topped 300 yards in consecutive games. Eric Striker registered a sack, and Charles Tapper recorded a sack-fumble that set up his team's seventh touchdown.

The Cyclones managed just 5.5 yards per pass and went only 3-of-15 on third down when attempting to pass.

Run Defense: Sam Richardson was a dual-threat quarterback to be respected, and Oklahoma didn't have a letdown against him. The front seven contained Richardson and Co., limiting Iowa State's backfield to 87 yards on 31 attempts.

Aaron Wimberly, who was coming off a 110-yard performance two weeks ago, found no running room and tallied just 25 yards. The Cyclones moved the chains just five times on the ground.

Special Teams: Michael Hunnicutt nailed a 44-yard field goal and became the Big 12's career record holder for made attempts. He drilled all eight extra points. Jed Barnett pinned Iowa State inside its own 10-yard line with a 32-yard punt during an otherwise uneventful day for the senior.

Coaching: In a blowout like this, the offensive game plan wasn't difficult to grasp from the beginning. Oklahoma ran the ball 59 times, relying on its bulk to control the line of scrimmage—something at which the unit excelled.

Defensively, the Sooners mixed pressure and coverage well, forcing checkdowns, hurried throws and contested passes all game long. Iowa State quarterbacks completed just 17 of 45 passes.


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

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ECU Loss to Temple Means Group-of-5 Conferences Won't Be Crashing Playoff

We, as sports fans, love the underdog. The Kansas City Royals captured a nation’s attention with their incredible run before falling in Game 7 of the World Series. Every March, we’re captivated by the directional schools of the world who push heavily favored teams to the brink and beyond in the NCAA tournament.

But if you were looking for an underdog in the College Football Playoff, well, you’re going to be disappointed.

East Carolina’s ugly 20-10 loss at Temple ended any slim chance that a group-of-five representative would crash the four-team playoff.

The Pirates were ranked No. 23 in the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings, giving them a slim opportunity at making a run at the playoffs should they keep winning handily with chaos happening ahead of them.

They do own two wins over power-five programs, beating ACC foes Virginia Tech and North Carolina in consecutive weeks (although neither the Hokies nor Tar Heels have distinguished themselves in league play this season). Luke DeCock of the News & Observer predicted Pirates' fans are cancelling their New Year's Eve plans:

Saturday was the Pirates’ worst offensive performance of the season, by far. ECU entered averaging 39.6 points per game (No. 14 nationally) but could only manage a field goal through three-plus quarters before adding a late touchdown. Senior quarterback Shane Carden was 24-of-41 for 217 yards passing, the first time he was held under 250 passing yards this season.

East Carolina was the only group-of-five team with anything approximating a chance at a College Football Playoff run.

Marshall is 8-0 and was ranked No. 23 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today polls but was not ranked in the initial College Football Playoff poll—a sign of the respect (or lack thereof) the committee has for the Thundering Herd.

Marshall is a strong favorite to win Conference USA and finish the regular season unbeaten, but its schedule is a major concern. The Herd have not played a power-five program this season and will not play one the rest of the regular season. Its nonconference games came against Miami (Ohio), FCS program Rhode Island, Ohio and Akron.

With strength of schedule noted as an important factor in the playoff committee’s deliberations, that slate spells death for the Herd’s playoff chances. TV play-by-play announcer Mark Followill highlighted Marshall's "pretty big result" from Saturday: 

Colorado State entered this week 7-1 and owns wins over power-five foes Boston College and Colorado, but the Rams are also not serious College Football Playoff contenders. They aren't ranked in any of the major polls.

At this point, the most interesting race will be for the group-of-five spot in the College Football Playoff-affiliated-access bowls; one of the group’s teams is guaranteed access. Dennis Dodd of noted Marshall's previously assessed "weak sked" suddenly becoming a "stronger" one:

Will an unbeaten Marshall team be impressive enough to garner respect? Will East Carolina’s wins over power-five teams carry weight? Or can Colorado State make an appearance if it runs the table and wins the Mountain West?

It’ll be an interesting story to follow, but one thing is for sure: We won’t see an underdog in the actual College Football Playoff this season.

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Pittsburgh's Chris Blewitt Misses Game-Winning Field Goal vs. Duke

The Pittsburgh Panthers had a chance to take down the Duke Blue Devils with a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, but Pitt's kicker missed the easy 26-yard attempt, sending the game into overtime.

To make things even worse for the kicker, his name is Chris Blewitt, so there will be plenty of jokes made at his expense.

Pittsburgh lost 51-48 in double overtime.


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USC vs. Washington State: Live Score and Highlights

USC's quest to get back into the Top 25 begins in Pullman, Washington, on Saturday afternoon as the Trojans take on Mike Leach's Washington State Cougars.

A late touchdown spurned USC (5-3) the last time out in a loss to then-No. 19 Utah, knocking the Trojans from the Associated Press rankings altogether for just the second time this season. But with the second-most votes in Week 10 among non-ranked teams, the Trojans could sneak their way back in with a convincing win in Martin Stadium.

The Cougars (2-6) pose more of a test than their 1-4 Pac-12 record indicates, with Connor Halliday and the Air Raid attack, but Steve Sarkisian's Trojans are still seven-point favorites entering the game, according to Odds Shark

There could be an offensive shootout in the works, with Washington State averaging almost 65 pass attempts per game—over 15 more than the second-most in the nation—and USC's Cody Kessler tossing for 20 scores and 2,148 yards on the year. 

Kickoff is slated for 4:30 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network. But if you can't catch it for whatever reason, we'll be recapping the action as it happens below.

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USC vs. Washington State: Live Score and Highlights

USC's quest to get back into the Top 25 begins in Pullman, Washington, on Saturday afternoon as the Trojans take on Mike Leach's Washington State Cougars. A late touchdown spurned USC (5-3) the last time out in a loss to then-No...

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Oregon Football Unveils Black-on-Black Uniforms for Game vs. Stanford

The Oregon Ducks have another big Pac-12 matchup Saturday against the Stanford Cardinal, and as always, they'll be wearing some fresh threads for the game.

This week, the Ducks will be wearing these all-black uniforms with yellow details. With a win Saturday night, they'll likely be in the Top Four of the College Football Playoff rankings, but they still have a few more weeks before they can secure a Playoff spot.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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Oregon Football Unveils Black-on-Black Uniforms for Game vs. Stanford

The Oregon Ducks have another big Pac-12 matchup Saturday against the Stanford Cardinal, and as always, they'll be wearing some fresh threads for the game. This week, the Ducks will be wearing these all-black uniforms with yellow details...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Pitt's James Conner Abuses Duke Defender with Stiff-Arm on Career Day

Pittsburgh Panthers running back James Conner had the game of his life on Saturday against the Duke Blue Devils. One play in the fourth quarter encapsulated his dominance perfectly.

With just over seven minutes remaining in the game, Conner abused a Duke defender with a vicious stiff-arm, pushing him over on his way to a first down. Conner later scored on a one-yard touchdown to tie the game at 38 apiece.

At that point, Conner had already run for 236 yards and two touchdowns, setting a new career high in terms of rushing yardage. He finished the day with 263 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries.


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Army Band Performs in Halloween Costumes During Game vs. Air Force

The Army Black Knights band got in the Halloween spirit for Saturday's football game against Air Force.

One member of the band dressed up as a ghoul playing a severed leg.

Another dressed as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters while playing a marshmallow.

The creativity with the instruments is an added bonus, but the costumes were great regardless.

[SB Nation]

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Georgia vs. Florida: Live Score and Highlights

Early Second Quarter

Georgia 7, Florida 0

Nick Chubb put Georgia on the scoreboard first.  How will Florida respond?

Follow along for analysis and updates.

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Northwestern's Mike McHugh Makes Absurd Leaping Catch vs. Iowa

Not a lot went right for the Northwestern Wildcats against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, this play notwithstanding. 

Down 38-7 in the third quarter, sophomore wide receiver Mike McHugh made an absurd leaping catch while tapping a foot inbounds to give the Wildcats a 1st-and-goal. He somehow managed to tip the ball with his right arm and snag it as it fell, despite having a defender right on his tail.

Unfortunately, the Wildcats didn't end up scoring on the drive, as quarterback Trevor Siemian threw an incompletion on 4th-and-1.


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Indiana vs. Michigan: Live Score and Highlights

Michigan 10, Indiana 0 (Early 2nd Quarter)

Keith Heitzman, who's in for the suspended Jake Butt, just reeled in a six-yard catch for a touchdown--his first in college.

Michigan's offense has life today.  

Keep your browser locked to this live blog for the latest commentary, analysis, goodies from the Web and more as the Wolverines (3-5, 1-3) and the Hoosiers (3-4, 0-3) settle the score on this brisk fall day. 


Homecoming notes

Michigan is 3-0 on homecoming under coach Brady Hoke

The Wolverines are 11-1 vs. Indiana on homecoming. 


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

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Miami's Duke Johnson Runs Free on 90-Yard Touchdown vs. UNC

Miami Hurricanes junior running back Duke Johnson exploded for his longest career run against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday.

In the second quarter against UNC, Johnson broke free on this 90-yard touchdown, with no one coming close enough to bring him down. According to the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro, that run tied the record for the longest in school history:

That wasn't Johnson's only major accomplishment on Saturday. He also moved past Edgerrin James for the second-most career rushing yards in school history, according to ESPN Stats & Info:  

It was Johnson's second touchdown run on the day, after having scored on a one-yard plunge in the first quarter. At halftime, he already had 17 rushes for 172 yards and two scores, with Miami holding a 30-6 lead over UNC.  


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TCU vs. West Virginia: Live Score and Highlights

West Virginia 13, TCU 7, Early 2nd Quarter

We are underway in Morgantown, as TCU and West Virginia will battle it out this afternoon. This top-25 matchup should see plenty of offense, and the winner of this game will likely be the team that can make a big stop defensively.

You can watch the game on ABC/ESPN2, but stay right here for live updates and analysis.


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