NCAA Football

Ohio State's Darron Lee Destroys Navy QB Keenan Reynolds

Though the college football season just began this week, we already have a nominee for one of the biggest hits of the year.

On Saturday, Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee plowed his way into the Navy backfield and completely leveled junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds. You can see another angle of the hit below.

As a redshirt freshman, that's one way for Lee to prove himself to his team.

[Instagram]

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Rice vs. Notre Dame: Live Score and Highlights

Notre Dame 31, Rice 10—Late 3rd Quarter

Football is back, and Notre Dame hosts Rice in a Week 1 matchup that has more storylines than one would have expected when this game was scheduled a few years ago.

This is the fifth meeting between these two teams, and the first since 1988.  Rice is 0-4 all-time against Notre Dame.  Can the Owls change their fortunes against the Irish today?

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Appalachian State's Simms McElfresh Makes Acrobatic Touchdown Catch vs. Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines have easily handled Appalachian State so far Saturday, but the Mountaineers were finally able to get on the board with this fantastic catch.

In the third quarter, wide receiver Simms McElfresh made this terrific acrobatic grab in the end zone for a touchdown, giving his team its first points of the game. 

The touchdown didn't make much of a difference, however, as the Wolverines still led 42-7.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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West Virginia vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

The Alabama Crimson Tide and West Virginia Mountaineers will soon take the field at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Last season, Alabama fell just shy of another national championship appearance, so Nick Saban and the Tide look to open 2014 on a winning note.

West Virginia crawled to a 4-8 finish in 2013, but quarterback Clint Trickett leads a hopeful Mountaineers squad under fourth-year head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Depending on your local listings, ABC or ESPN2 will carry the nonconference bout, which is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Bleacher Report will provide live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Arkansas vs. Auburn: Live Score and Highlights

The college football season in finally upon us, and the defending SEC champion Auburn Tigers are set to square off against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This will be the second Saturday game on the SEC Network, and kickoff time will be at 4 p.m.

Arkansas will look to bounce back from a disappointing season where it went 3-9, including a 0-8 mark in the SEC. The Razorbacks will be led by the running tandem of Johnathan Williams and Alex Collins.

Auburn lost key players Tre Mason, Greg Robinson and Dee Ford, but quarterback Nick Marshall returns and is coming off a season where he threw for nearly 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards.

Be sure to check back here when the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates, highlights and analysis.

 

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Cold Hard Fact for Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fact: Underdogs have won five of the last six games ESPN's College GameDay has attended. The only favorite to win? Florida St. in the national title game.

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

 

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

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UCF Skydiver Completely Misses Stadium Before Game vs. Penn State in Ireland

The Penn State Nittany Lions and UCF Knights got the unique opportunity to play at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday, but things didn't get off to a great start for Central Florida.

Before the game, both teams had skydivers land on the field. Unfortunately, UCF's skydiver completely missed the stadium. Things didn't get any better from there, as the Knights ended up losing 26-24 to Penn State.

[Instagram, h/t SB Nation]

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Kentucky's A.J. Stamps Grabs Impressive 1-Handed Interception

Kentucky opens up its 2014 season against University of Tennessee at Martin, and it looks like the Wildcats already have their first candidate for play of the year.

With UT-Martin quarterback Jarod Neal attempting to go deep, safety A.J. Stamps ran from across the field to knock it down with one hand for an interception. 

Stamps moved from cornerback to safety when he transferred to Kentucky. With ball-hawking skills like this, you can see why.

[via gifdsports]

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Christian Hackenberg Sets Penn State Passing Record in Epic Victory vs. UCF

Four Thousand miles from home, under intense pressure, Christian Hackenberg showed why he should be considered one of college football’s elite young quarterbacks.

Few will forget head coach James Franklin’s Penn State debut, a heart-stopping 26-25 win over Central Florida in Dublin, Ireland. Hackenberg made sure Nittany Lion fans will remember it with pride.

The sophomore quarterback set a PSU single-game passing record with 454 yards passing, becoming the first Nittany Lion quarterback ever to throw for over 400 yards. And none were more important than the 47 he piled up on the Nittany Lions’ final drive.

Hackenberg and the Penn State offense got the ball back at their own 26 with 1:13 left in the game, trailing Central Florida 24-23. 

Golden Knights quarterback Justin Holman had just given UCF the lead with a scintillating eight-play, 75-yard drive, keyed by a 37-yard strike to Josh Reese on 4th-and-10 from the PSU 43 that set up Holman’s go-ahead touchdown run.

How would Hackenberg and Co. respond on an international stage, with the college football world watching before the day’s slate began stateside?

No pressure. No matter.

Facing a 4th-and-3 at his own 33, Hackenberg scrambled eight yards for a first down. Consecutive completions moved the ball to the UCF 37 with 17 seconds left. Following a timeout, Hackenberg tossed an 18-yard strike to Geno Lewis to the Golden Knights’ 19, allowing Sam Ficken to calmly boot a 36-yard game-winning field goal on the final play.

Hackenberg completed 32 of 47 passes on the day. While he wasn’t perfect (he had two interceptions and one touchdown), he showed grit and moxie while putting up his first career 400-yard passing game (he had four 300-yard games as a freshman).

This fall, Hackenberg has been widely expected to build on a great freshman year (2,955 yards passing with 20 touchdowns against 10 interceptions).

At 6'4", 193 pounds, he has excellent size and arm strength, and in Franklin's offense, he could also become a more mobile quarterback (although he had just two yards on five carries Saturday). With Ohio State's Braxton Miller sidelined by shoulder surgery, Hackenberg could become the Big Ten's top quarterback this fall.

If Saturday is any indication, he could be in for a special season in Happy Valley.

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Best Signs from ESPN's 'College GameDay' Week 1

The ESPN College GameDay crew kicked off the 2014 season in Fort Worth, Texas, before No. 1 Florida State's showdown against unranked Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

Below are our favorite signs, including some that didn't make it to air.

Of course, any game against Jameis Winston will include some crab-leg jokes. These actually accounted for roughly two-thirds of all the visible signs.

Not all of the signs were about Jameis or crabs, however. Some took shots at Kirk Herbstreit, University of Texas head coach Charlie Strong, USC cornerback Josh Shaw and former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel, too.

[Busted Coverage, SB Nation]

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Penn State vs. UCF: Game Grades, Analysis for the Nittany Lions

The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Central Florida Knights 26-24 after Sam Ficken drilled a 36-yard field goal as time expired.

As the dust settles in Dublin, it's time to pass out grades for Penn State's performance in the 2014 season opener.

 

Pass Offense

Christian Hackenberg tossed two interceptions and made a few more questionable throws, but he was otherwise spectacular. The sophomore set a school record with 454 passing yards, connecting with Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton a combined 19 times for 338 yards and one touchdown.

Jesse James added seven catches and 60 yards, giving Hackenberg a reliable target in the middle of the field.

Run Offense

Bad, bad, bad. The Penn State offensive line struggled to control the line of scrimmage, and the running backs found few open lanes. Between Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton, the Nittany Lions managed just 48 yards on 22 attempts.

With a total of three yards, Hackenberg was the team's leading rusher at halftime. Yeah, it was that bad.

Pass Defense

Penn State's secondary started well, holding UCF to just 18 passing yards throughout the first 30 minutes. However, some of that success can be attributed to Pete DiNovo's less-than-stellar play, and he was subsequently replaced by Justin Holman.

During the second half, Holman made a few tough throws and engineered three scoring drives largely by his arm.

Run Defense

Central Florida was without powerful back Will Stanback, but the Nittany Lions proved strong in the trenches. Penn State held the Knights to 24 yards on 29 attempts.

Ultimately, the biggest negative was Holman's go-ahead touchdown via a well-timed quarterback draw.

Special Teams

Saved by the boot. Ficken connected on all four field goals, with his longest being the game-winning 36-yarder. He also converted on a pair of extra points.

Grant Haley averaged 28.8 yards per kick return, and Chris Gulla's lone punt traveled 41 yards.

Coaching

James Franklin's debut was not crisp, making a few strange decisions highlighted by poor clock management that nearly cost Penn State a chance to win. Defensively, Bob Shoop had a decent gameplan, limiting UCF to 246 offensive yards.

Offensive coordinator John Donovan repeatedly gave his quarterback an excellent opportunity to succeed. Both interceptions were Hackenberg's mistakes and not a result of questionable plays.

 

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

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Lee Corso Fires Fake Gun, Drinks with Stone Cold Steve Austin

College GameDay has returned, and it looks like Lee Corso hasn't lost a step.

Corso, a Florida State graduate, picked the Seminoles for the 17th time in his career for their matchup against Oklahoma State by putting on a helmet and firing a fake gun in the air.

Perhaps his celebration with Stone Cold Steve Austin beforehand had something to do with this.

[via SB Nation, Twit]

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College Football Week 1: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction

College football is back!

South Carolina and Texas A&M kicked things off Thursday, but now the real fun begins.

Saturday’s slate of games is jam-packed with great storylines. From first-year head coaches getting a chance to prove themselves to new quarterbacks starting for powerhouse teams to freshmen phenoms taking the field, Week 1 is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Nick Saban and Alabama will look to avenge last year’s late-season debacle when the Tide square off against West Virginia in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff in the Georgia Dome at 3:30 p.m ET on ABC.

Georgia will host Clemson at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, hoping to get revenge for last season’s Week 1 loss to the Tigers.

At 8 p.m. ET on ABC, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will lead the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles against a hungry Oklahoma State Cowboys team looking to prove its worth in the national spotlight.

And the final marquee prime-time matchup will pit LSU vs. Wisconsin at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN in a battle of power-run teams.

Keep it locked with Bleacher Report as we provide live score updates, highlights and much more throughout the night!

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Top College Coaches Read Mean Tweets About Themselves on 'College GameDay'

The 2014 college football season picked up in full swing Saturday, and College GameDay took the opportunity to show the humorous side of the head coaches from Alabama, Michigan, Florida and Mississippi State by having them read mean tweets about themselves.

The highlight comes from Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, who recites Cousin Eddie's famous line from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation in response to his mean tweet. 

(via The Big Lead)

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Ohio State vs. Navy: Live Score and Highlights

The fifth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes entered the season with expectations of making a run at the inaugural College Football Playoff, but those aspirations took a huge hit when quarterback Braxton Miller—a Heisman Trophy hopeful—suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

At noon ET in Baltimore, Maryland, the Buckeyes will take the field against Navy and its Heisman dark-horse candidate—quarterback Keenan Reynolds—in the season opener.

Ohio State will try to limit Navy’s vaunted triple-option attack with its remade defense. The Midshipmen will try to fluster redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett in his first collegiate start.

Will Urban Meyer and Ohio State hold up as the 14 point favorites? Tune into CBS Sports Network to find out, or follow along here.

We’ll be watching the matchup, providing live analysis as the action unfolds.

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Appalachian State vs. Michigan: Live Score and Highlights

UM 49, ASU 7 (Late 3rd)

This one's going as planned for the Wolverines. De'Veon Smith's 13-yard touchdown is the icing on the cake. But more is probably on the way. 

Stay tuned for all the updates, analysis and whatever else comes my way during the Wolverines' season-opener. 

 

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

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UCLA vs. Virginia: Live Score and Highlights

The No. 7 UCLA Bruins look to start their potential championship run Saturday against the upstart Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Jim Mora's UCLA squad will be buoyed by the likes of linebacker Myles Jack and quarterback Brett Hundley. The Bruins will be looking for their third straight year with at least nine wins. 

Virgina head coach Mike London is on the proverbial hot seat. He'll surely have to improve on a 2-10 mark from a season ago. The Cavs will be led by running back Kevin Parks and safety Anthony Harris. 

A full box score can be found at NCAA.com.

Today's game will begin at 12:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN. 

 

Bleacher Report appreciates you tuning in with us. Stay here for score updates, social media, analysis and much more! 

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UCLA vs. Virginia: Live Score and Highlights

The No. 7 UCLA Bruins look to start their potential championship run Saturday against the upstart Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

College Football Rankings 2014: Last-Minute Look at Preseason Polls

Saturday marks the first full day of action for the new season of college football. The addition of the College Football Playoff, which replaces the highly controversial BCS rankings, has created an extra layer of intrigue at the outset.

One notable result is already in the books, as Texas A&M, led by Kenny Hill, upset South Carolina on Thursday night. It's the first of several games likely to make a noticeable impact on the new rankings once the dust settles following Week 1.

Knowing that, let's take one more look at the preseason polls before Saturday's action starts to shake things up for teams around the nation. The chart is followed by a closer look at the top contests to keep an eye on throughout the day.

 

2014 Preseason Polls

Full Polls: Associated Press, USA Today and Bleacher Report

 

Saturday's Top Games

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State

The reigning champion Seminoles don't have a gimme in their opener. Although the Cowboys aren't as highly touted as they have been in recent years, they feature a dangerous offensive scheme with a starting defensive group laden with upperclassmen.

Of course, all eyes will be on Jameis Winston. Last season's Heisman Trophy winner is going to face an immense amount of scrutiny on a weekly basis. As noted by Dan Wolken of USA Today, the Florida State star talks like he's ready for the challenge.

"I know I'm in the spotlight and I know I've got these guys depending on me, coach (Jimbo) Fisher depending on me and the most important thing I have my family depending on me," he said. "That comes from me maturing, seeing the real world, seeing how people have different perspectives about me as a person. I know I have to be able to live up to that hype everywhere I go. I have a certain standard I have to hold myself up to, and if I even go an inch below that standard it's going to be chaos."

One thing the Seminoles offense must do in order to reach the same heights as last season is figure out who's going to replace Kelvin Benjamin in the red zone. The current Carolina Panthers rookie was a key target for Winston, who doesn't have a comparable option with the same combination of size and athleticism.

For Oklahoma State to put the nation's top-ranked team on upset alert the defensive line must get a major push all game long. It starts with James Castleman and Ofa Hautau in the middle, who have the ability to make life difficult on Winston and the Florida State ground game.

 

Clemson vs. Georgia

This game features two players NFL scouts will be watching extremely closely over the next four months. For Clemson, it's edge-rusher Vic Beasley, who opted to return despite being a potential first-round pick. For Georgia, it's dual-threat running back Todd Gurley.

More importantly, this is the type of contest the selection committee is likely going to weigh heavily at season's end. Beating up on a low-level opponent isn't going to carry much clout. But wins over top-25 opponents could very well be the difference in the end.

It's an immediate test for Tigers quarterback Cole Stoudt, who showed well (five touchdowns, no interceptions) in limited action behind Tajh Boyd last season. He can expect to see a lot of varied looks from a Georgia defense that's coming off a frustratingly inconsistent campaign.

Georgia is also going through a QB change, as Hutson Mason will be assuming the reins in place of Aaron Murray. Gurley's presence should make that transition a little smoother, though. It also helps that the new signal-caller gets to work with an experienced group of receivers, including top target Chris Conley.

 

Wisconsin vs. LSU

It's never ideal to enter a season without a definitive starting quarterback. The delicate balancing act of rotating them based on the hot hand usually backfires eventually. But that's the situation LSU needs to manage, at least until either Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris locks down the job.

Wisconsin must take advantage of the situation by being in all-out attack mode on defense. It's a unit that returns several key pieces after finishing seventh in yards allowed last season. That's not enough to give the Badgers an edge, however, at least according to ESPN Stats & Info:

With the questions under center, the Tigers' staples of running and defense must be even stronger. Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue are gone, but Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard should provide a dangerous one-two punch on the ground.

If the Badgers defense lives up to expectations, the onus will be on Joel Stave to limit his mistakes. The junior quarterback threw 13 interceptions last season. In a game where one possession could make the difference, an untimely error could change the entire season outlook for Wisconsin.

 

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NCAA Football Playoff 2014: Exploring Championship Implications of Week 1 Games

Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs!

Jim Mora may not have liked early postseason discussion, but that's what makes Week 1 of the 2014 college football season even more intriguing. With the new format, four teams—voted on by a selection committee—have the opportunity to play on the year's biggest stage. That means College Football Playoff (CFP) implications start now.

This year's Top 25 teams have already been established, per the AP Poll, but those rankings are set to change quickly, as some squads will be upset early and others will surge up the standings—simply take a look at the result of No. 9 South Carolina against No. 21 Texas A&M as a prime example.

The nation's top-four teams will qualify for the CFP at season's end, and based on their Week 1 matchups, they are all expected to begin the season with wins. However, could strength of victory be enough to shift the rankings before Week 2? Let's discuss.

No. 1 Florida State is looking for a successful title defense and kicks off the season against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were once known for a prolific offense, but uncertainty at the quarterback position may have changed that.

Head coach Mike Gundy told ESPN Radio (via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN.com) junior signal-caller J.W. Walsh will get the start against the Seminoles in Week 1.

Said Gundy, "J.W. has taken the majority of the [first-team] reps and will be the guy that goes out there and starts for us."

Walsh had a bit or a roller-coaster showing last season, completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions. While those numbers aren't terrible, it will certainly be a tall task to keep up with reigning Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston and Florida State's vaunted defense.

Here's a look at a great comparison for the impending contest, via ESPN College Football:

Expect Florida State to roll here.

No. 2 Alabama has a quarterback quandary of its own. According to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com, the team will start Blake Sims against West Virginia. However, another report noted the Crimson Tide could utilize Jacob Coker in a two-quarterback system as well.

Regardless of this situation, the matchup is simple: We have Alabama's fifth-ranked defense from a year ago facing a team that won only four games in 2013. Still, the Crimson Tide can't sleep on West Virginia, as the Mountaineers did upset No. 11 Oklahoma State in September last season.

Both of these teams have undergone significant changes from the 2013 season, and in this case, it's very difficult to bet against Nick Saban's very strong recruiting classes—and a potential feud with a certain quarterback, via this tweet from USA Today Sports:

No. 3 Oregon is set to face a South Dakota team that gave up a slew of points last season—the Coyotes were defeated by North Dakota State 42-0 in their season finale. Taking that into consideration, imagine what the Marcus Mariota-led Ducks offense will do.

Oregon had the nation's second-ranked offense one season ago, averaging an astounding 565 yards per game. Mariota is expected to be in the Heisman running this year, and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal to make a strong statement out of the gate.

Mariota already finds himself in some elite company, per SportsCenter:

Alabama may need to start looking over its shoulder in short order.

No. 4 Oklahoma finished the 2013 season in style, defeating No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Alabama in consecutive games. Quarterback Trevor Knight was a big part in the team's late success, throwing for four touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

Now a sophomore, Knight can be expected to take a significant step forward. He's a dual-threat player who can beat defenses with his arm and his legs. Louisiana Tech's defense ranked 94th in the nation last season and shouldn't be a formidable threat for the signal-caller.

Bryan Fischer of NFL.com noted coach Bob Stoops' prowess with many quarterbacks in the Big 12:

The Sooners will easily maintain their No. 4 ranking when the dust settles after Week 1.

With all four of the top-ranked teams expected to win by significant margins on Saturday, don't expect to see any shifts in the updated CFP rankings. If you're looking to see these standings shaken up, waiting at least another week will be necessary.

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