NCAA Football

Nebraska's Failure to Make Adjustments Cost Huskers Playoff, Big Ten Title Shot

Football is pretty simple. At least that's what Bo Pelini thinks.

After the University of Wisconsin's 59-24 victory over the University of Nebraska, it felt anything but that. Yet, that's exactly what Pelini said in his postgame press conference.

Maybe football is simple. It hasn't been for the Huskers, though. After what was projected to be a big season for Pelini and his team, Nebraska has now lost its control at winning the Big Ten West and competing for a Big Ten championship title. Instead, Wisconsin holds the honor.

Badgers running back Melvin Gordon played a big part in that. Against Nebraska, he rushed 25 times for a total of 408 yards, which became the most rushing yards in school history against Nebraska.

"Melvin Gordon is a hell of a back, but we played a part in that as well," Pelini said.

And he's right. Gordon is a talented player all on his own. There is no denying that. However, the Nebraska defense did itself no favors in its performance against Gordon.

"I thought it was substandard as the game went on," Pelini said. "That was disappointing."

Most disappointing? Not only did Nebraska lose control of the Big Ten West, but it seems unlikely the Huskers will head to the championship game at this point. Additionally, the outside shot at the College Football Playoffs is gone.

"At the end of the day, I take responsibility for this football team and how we played, and it wasn’t good enough," Pelini confirmed.

It definitely was not good enough. Wisconsin rushed for 581 total yards, which is the most ever against Nebraska. The previous record, believe it or not, belonged to Wisconsin from the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game with 539 yards.

It would seem that Wisconsin has Nebraska's number. Now that the two are on the same side of the Big Ten conference, the Huskers need to adjust. Yet, failure to do so is exactly what plagued Nebraska once again.

In Pelini's seven years as head coach, the Huskers have often failed to adjust as a game went on. Another example of this would be the 2013 UCLA game. While the Huskers led 21-10 in the first half, UCLA ultimately came back to win 41-21. While the Bruins clearly adjusted throughout the game, Nebraska did not.

Against Wisconsin, it happened once again. When asked how exactly Gordon could be allowed to run for so many yards, Pelini didn't have a good answer.

"I have no idea," he said.

That should be alarming. It's the lack of understanding that cost the Huskers a shot at the playoffs and likely a trip to Indianapolis. Failure to adjust was clearly a big part of the overall outcome of this game.

Wisconsin, like UCLA did last year, made the needed adjustments. After all, Gordon only had 49 yards in the first quarter. To go from that to a total of 408 yards proves the Badgers adjusted as the game went on. Nebraska, on the other hand, did not.

If Pelini really has no idea how the Blackshirts could allow that to happen, red flags should be raised. It speaks volumes about the program and the mentality that ultimately goes into each and every game.

Pelini doesn't seem to buy into that idea, though. At least, he didn't during his postgame press conference.

"I don't get into this big picture stuff," he said. "It was one football game. This program has won a lot of games."

It was one football game that meant much more, though. And that ultimately requires getting into the big picture stuff, whether Pelini wants to or not.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand via the Huskers' postgame press conference, unless otherwise noted.

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Northwestern vs. Notre Dame: Score and Twitter Reaction

In a game riddled with costly blunders, Notre Dame dropped its second consecutive loss, falling to Northwestern in a 43-40 epic overtime upset.

During a contest stuffed with little defensive resistance outside of turnovers,  each school moved the ball easily in a game with four giveaways apiece. The last one gave the Wildcats a second life to tie up the game.

After a late fumble sent the game past regulation, a second missed field goal cost Notre Dame dearly in a grave upset. Following a game-winning field goal from Jack Mitchell, ESPNU is just as shocked as everyone else.

Rachel Terlep of The Elkhart Truth had Brian Kelly's thoughts after the game:

Last week, a 55-31 loss to Arizona State vanished the Fighting Irish from the College Football Playoff discussion. Although no longer in the championship picture, they were eager to redeem an ugly loss hampered by four Everett Golson interceptions.

The junior quarterback wasted no time getting to business, taking a 61-yard run to the house within the game's opening minute. Per Michael Bertsch, the school's Director of Football Media Relations, it marked Notre Dame's quickest touchdown strike in three years.

Had someone said Notre Dame would score 20 points in the opening quarter, everyone would have immediately ruled the game over. Northwestern entered Saturday afternoon's clash with 50 combined points produced through its past four games, all losses.

Yet the Wildcats engaged in an early shootout, generating a nine-play, 74-yard opening drive culminating in a Matt Alviti touchdown run. They returned to work with another 75-yard series resulting in a touchdown grab from Kyle Prater to open the second quarter.

Early in the game, Northwestern was on pace to shatter its recent offensive production, according to the South Bend Tribune's Eric Hansen.

Yet drops plagued its receivers throughout a cold Saturday in Indiana. During the opening quarter, Garrett Dickerson got stripped after a seven-yard catch, and Austin Collinsworth took the recovered ball into the end zone. 

Tony Jones continued a brutal first half by dropping a potential touchdown. WSBT-TV Pete Byrne chronicled the senior's struggles.

Later in the same drive, Austin Carr dropped a spot-on throw on fourth down. Even in their best offensive performance of the season, the Wildcats left plenty of opportunities on the table.

Deadspin's Rohan Nadkarni captured the odd, hot-and-cold outing from the underdogs.

Golson extended his streak of games with at least one interception to seven, but it came on a fluke play. Pressured in the pocket during the second quarter, Golson threw a hurried pass that deflected off his offensive lineman's helmet and into Anthony Walker's hands for an interception and 65-yard return.

Freshman Justin Jackson, who ran for 149 yards, punched it in on the first play, giving Northwestern a surprising 23-20 lead that suddenly made an upset look feasible. 

Golson has now thrown 12 picks over that stretch. ESPN's College GameDay broke down his turnover woes before Saturday's game. 

Yet he settled down after the blunder, reclaiming the lead with a touchdown pass to William Fuller. Trevor Siemian threatened to retaliate before halftime, but Matthias Farley picked him off in the end zone, giving the Irish a great chance to turn the tides before entering the locker room. Instead, Kyle Brindza missed a 38-yard field goal.

Considering a routine extra-point attempt turned into two points for the other side, it's easy in hindsight to wonder if Brian Kelly should have kept his offense on the field to convert a 4th-and-2. After all, Notre Dame entered the half with 152 rushing yards on 23 attempts.

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune had Kelly's thoughts after the game:

The scoring subsided during the second half, but the mistakes did not. After zooming down the field, Jackson coughed up the ball deep in Northwestern's own territory. On the second play, Golson lost a fumble on a read-option, gifting the ball right back.

A smarter coaching choice, however, led to Fighting Irish points. Given another fourth-down decision during the third quarter, Kelly kept his offense on the field this time, and his confidence—or lack thereof in his kicker—was rewarded with a 4th-and-7 conversion at the 36.

Two plays later, Fuller went 23 yards on a screen pass to extend Notre Dame's lead to 34-26.

The two teams again traded turnovers in short succession. After Chris Brown fumbled reaching for the end zone, Cole Luke returned the ball to Notre Dame with an interception. Golson and Fuller then hooked up for the game's third touchdown, increasing the sophomore's season total to 13. 

Rachel Terlep of The Elkhart Truth wondered how he's not considered one of college football's best wide receivers.

After a late score and two-point conversion closed the gap to three with four minutes left, the Wildcats received no life on yet another turnover, this time a Cam McDaniel fumble as the Fighting Irish were running down the clock.

Jack Mitchell, who hit a 46-yard field goal earlier in the game, nailed a 45-yard attempt with 20 seconds left, sending the thriller into overtime.

Sports Illustrated's Brian Hamilton described this unnerving matchup heading into extra play.

While Notre Dame missed a field-goal attempt, Mitchell booted home the winning shot to stun the world and solidify a disastrous set of games for the Fighting Irish, whose defense surrendered 547 total yards.

Notre Dame's deteriorating defense has now yielded 211 points through the past five games. Traditionally a proud staple for the prestigious school, the team now must claw out victories in shootouts, which hasn't worked so well in recent weeks.

Before the game, linebacker Jaylon Smith talked the about the young unit's struggles to the Associated Press' Tom Coyne.

"We understood coming into this year that we were a developmental group," Smith said "We're so young and really just trying to get better. We're not surprised by the outcomes of the last four or five games of teams scoring 30 points. It's just about how can eliminate that?"

Once a title contender, the Fighting Irish are now likely to lose their Top-25 ranking after two consecutive losses. As for Northwestern, they have now shocked Wisconsin and Notre Dame in an otherwise disappointing season.

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College Football Scores 2014: Week 12 Results and Top Stars for Top 25 Teams

Week 12 brought more clarity and confusion to the College Football Playoff landscape. The No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide proved they indeed do deserve to be one of the top four teams in the next CFP ranking. Their 25-20 win over the previously unbeaten and No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs was the biggest victory of the day.

It could land Bama as high as the top spot in Tuesday's ranking.

We won't know for sure for a few days, but one has to suspect that Bama will get a ton of respect for becoming the first team to hand the Bulldogs a loss this season. 

That's the top story from a team perspective, but no individual had a better single-game performance than the Wisconsin Badgers Melvin Gordon. The junior came into Week 12's matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers as the nation's leading rusher with 1,501 yards.

By the time he and the Badgers offensive line were finished with Nebraska, Gordon nearly hit the 2,000-yard mark. With 408 yards rushing, Gordon broke LaDainian Tomlinson's FBS single-game rushing record and led Wisconsin to the 59-24 win.

The official Twitter account of the Wisconsin football program is already pushing for Gordon's invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Tomlinson chimed in to show his respect.

Gordon now has 1,909 yards on the season. He found the end zone four times on Saturday to run his season total to 23. That puts Gordon No. 1 in that category as well. With Mississippi State's Dak Prescott struggling mightily against Bama, it would appear that Gordon and the Oregon Ducks Marcus Mariota are in a two-man race for the Heisman Trophy.

Here's a look at the rest of the scores from teams in the Top 25 and two more standout individual performances.

 

Top Individual Perfomances

David Cobb, Minnesota Golden Gophers, 27 rushes, 145 yards and 3 TDs

OK, so he didn't run for 400 yards and his team didn't win, but Cobb did find pay dirt three times. Minnesota pushed Ohio State on Saturday, and Cobb's effectiveness had a lot to do with that.

He scored twice in the second quarter and once in the fourth to draw Minnesota within 10 points. Cobb has 1,305 rushing yards this season.

 

Everett Golson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 363 total yards and 4 TDs

Northwestern pulled out the overtime victory, but Golson did his part. His all-purpose dominance led Notre Dame's offense to 498 total yards. Golson isn't likely to be invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but the junior is still having a noteworthy season.

The senior has 35 total TDs on the year. He rebounded well from a troubled junior season and has likely raised his stock for the upcoming NFL draft.

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Will the CFP Committee Rank Alabama No. 1 After Win vs. Mississippi State?

The Alabama Crimson Tide gained a huge, decisive victory over the previously No. 1-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs. Alabama was ranked No. 5 in the last College Football Playoff Committee, but the committee may look at it differently after Saturday's big victory. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee debate whether Alabama should be the No. 1 team for the CFP.

Who should be the new No. 1 team in the CFP?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Blake Sims Is Not Stereotypical Alabama QB, but He Is Perfect for This Team

Remember when Blake Sims was a liability and Jake Coker was the next big thing? 

Ah, the offseason.

All Sims has done in his one and only year as the starting quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide is lead the program in positioning it to earn a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff, managing games like a seasoned veteran as the Tide have surged to 9-1 (6-1 SEC).

Sims completed 19 of 31 passes for 211 yards, one touchdown pass, zero interceptions and rushed four times for 18 yards in the 25-20 win over No. 1 Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa.

Sims—who once played running back for head coach Nick Saban—isn't the prototypical drop-back passer like many of his predecessors who have thrived at the Capstone, and he doesn't have the arm strength of a gunslinger. What he does possess is the ability to extend plays with his legs, find the hole at the right time and run away from defenders.

He isn't necessarily the quarterback Saban wants, but he's the quarterback this team needs.

Sims was particularly clutch for his team in the forth quarter. With his team up 19-13 midway through the fourth quarter, Sims scrambled for first down two separate occasions on 3rd-and-long and also completed a pass on third down to Yeldon to keep the drive alive. That drive ultimately led to the touchdown that put the game away.

It wasn't the exception; it was the rule.

He had completed 45 of his 65 passes on third down coming in, with 41 of those going for a first down. Eleven of his 19 rushing attempts on third down have also moved the chains. Saban was particularly impressed with Alabama's fourth-quarter TD run, per AL.com's Andrew Gribble:

Simply put, he's clutch in a way that's new to Alabama.

Newer is always better.

What Sims has done this season has been nothing short of spectacular and has ushered in a new era of Alabama quarterbacks.

Do quarterbacks have to be statues in the pocket? Not anymore. 

Not at Alabama.

Sims' ability to help stabilize the offense for first-year coordinator Lane Kiffin sets the tone for future Alabama quarterbacks. That future should include commit Blake Barnett—the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2015.

The combination of Sims' play this year and Barnett's loyalty to Athens opens the door for more quarterbacks down the road to sign on the dotted line with the Crimson Tide. 

What used to be an old-school approach to offense has evolved into a system that can produce results for dual-threat quarterbacks who can play within the pro-style system that Kiffin and Saban employ. In the past, dual-threat prospects and Saban's program didn't seem like a match made in heaven.

Now it does, and the Crimson Tide have Sims to thank.

If Barnett takes that torch and runs with it next season, the possibilities for the Tide offense are endless.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Nebraska vs. Wisconsin: Game Grades, Analysis for Huskers and Badgers

Melvin Gordon may have run all the way to New York City on Saturday afternoon as he set the single-game FBS record with 408 yards rushing en route to the University of Wisconsin's 59-24 win over the University of Nebraska. The box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

The Badgers actually trailed 17-3 early after several miscues. But Gordon took over, and Wisconsin never looked back as the snow started to fall at Camp Randall Stadium.

Here are the game grades for both the Badgers and Cornhuskers.

 

Wisconsin

Pass offense: Joel Stave was the only guy to attempt a pass for Wisconsin, and he was 7-of-11 for 46 yards and a touchdown. When Gordon is breaking NCAA records on the ground and you're up by half a dozen possessions, you don't necessarily need a good pass offense. Then again, Wisconsin is never known to air it out. 

Rush offense: Melvin Gordon! Melvin Gordon! My kingdom for Melvin Gordon! It's no secret that the Badgers aced this category. Not only did Gordon set the FBS single-game rushing record, but he also scored four touchdowns. As a team, the Badgers ran for 581 yards and seven touchdowns and had five rushers with 20 or more yards.

Pass defense: Even as Nebraska began to hoist the ball in desperation, the Badgers secondary never gave in. It walked away with an interception and held Tommy Armstrong to just 6-of-18 passing for 62 yards.

Rush defense: This game had been marketed as the battle between perhaps the nation's two best running backs in Gordon and Ameer Abdullah. While Gordon put on a show, Abdullah looked like a shell of himself. He was limited to 69 yards on 18 carries and also fumbled twice. As a team, Nebraska averaged just 2.6 yards on the ground.

Special teams: Not much to complain about and not much to get hyped about in the special teams department. There was the shanked punt early. But besides that, Wisconsin took care of business on special teams. There were no return miscues, nor were there any missed kicks.

Coaching: Gordon offset so many categories this week, and coaching was one of them. When you have a guy rush for 408 yards and you're leading 59-17 in the fourth quarter, there's only so much a coach can do. However, Gary Anderson made the smart move in removing Gordon after the third quarter, and he also made sure his team didn't fall apart after falling down 17-3 early.

 

Nebraska

Pass offense: Armstrong looked horrendous on Saturday despite a decent start that included a first-quarter touchdown pass to Kenny Bell. It's a quarterback's job to lead a team, and Armstrong led the Huskers to a 17-3 lead, only to see everything hit the fan. He finished with just 62 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception.

Rush offense: The Huskers go as far as Abdullah carries them. On Saturday, that wasn't very far. The guy who was supposed to go toe-to-toe with Gordon instead rushed for just 69 yards on 18 carries. His longest carry of the day was just 13 yards. As a team, the Huskers averaged just 2.6 yards per carry.

Pass defense: Wisconsin didn't exactly air it out on Nebraska, but Stave still had an efficient game by some standards, as he had just four incomplete passes, a touchdown and no picks. But the Badgers finished with just 46 yards passing, so the secondary can take that silver lining home with it to Nebraska.

Rush defense: Gordon finished with 408 yards—a number no defense has ever allowed one person before. As a team, the Badgers racked up 581 yards and averaged 11 yards per carry. Enough said. The Huskers' rush defense was awful, just awful.

Special team: Like Wisconsin, Nebraska didn't have any special teams blunders to worry about. It made its extra points, had punts of good distances and didn't give up any returns.

Coaching: After Saturday's game, you wonder if Bo Pelini had ever heard of Gordon before the game. Wisconsin dared Nebraska to stop its best and, at times, only option, and it couldn't. That means Nebraska wasn't prepared, and that's on the coach.

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Mississippi State vs. Alabama: How Crimson Tide's Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

Like so many expected, No. 1 Mississippi State's unbeaten season came to a screeching halt Saturday in Tuscaloosa as No. 5 Alabama ground out a 25-20 win over the Bulldogs.

With a chance to make a statement against the nation's top-ranked team on their home soil, the Crimson Tide pounced early. Alabama led from its early safety all the way to the final whistle, leaving little question that the Tide are still on top of the SEC.

After falling behind 19-0, however, Mississippi State mounted a champions' response and pulled as close as 19-13 early in the fourth quarter. But when T.J. Yeldon scampered for a touchdown to make it 25-13 with eight minutes to go, the Bulldogs could only muster a last-minute touchdown to cut the deficit before a failed onside kick ended the game.

Any game between two Top Five foes is going to shake up the College Football Playoff rankings drastically. And despite both of these teams still having enough games left to either play themselves in our out, Saturday's game carries far-reaching implications.

Here's how it should impact the CFP rankings entering Week 13: 

Some early-season struggles and the loss at Ole Miss will prevent Alabama from jumping all the way to No. 1, but quite frankly, it doesn't need to. 

Now, the Tide are in control of the SEC West. A win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl will clinch that, and whichever SEC East team they pummel in the title game will only help their stock among the committee.

ESPN's Paul Finebaum believes the win should catapult the Tide to No. 1 in the land:

Nick Saban has his signature win of the season that will give Alabama the nod in the CFP hunt, but the loss shouldn't do anything to crush Mississippi State. Dan Mullen and Co. will remain around the Top Five, and a win over Ole Miss would most likely push them into the Top Four regardless of Alabama's performances.

And while losing undeniably feels distasteful for Mississippi State, keeping it at a five-point defeat and battling back into the game should give the Bulldogs a bit of leeway in the rankings. Just as well, winning out—which would include a victory over Ole Miss—could catapult Mississippi State over the likes of TCU even if the Horned Frogs don't lose.

Either way, the debate of whether Mississippi State belongs with one loss will take place plenty down the stretch, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted:

General SEC fans should be elated after the outcome. It means that should both Alabama and Mississippi State win out, the two will be almost guaranteed to both make the CFP (sorry, TCU). 

The most intriguing aspect of this final score, however, is how unimportant it could end up in a few weeks. 

If Alabama loses to Auburn and Mississippi State beats Ole Miss in the final week of the season, the Bulldogs will make the SEC title game and remain very much in the CFP with one loss on the year. Should that happen, it will be like Saturday's game never took place.

But after Alabama showed what it did through 60 minutes of play against the nation's top-ranked team, that would be considered a massive shock.

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Myles Garrett Injury: Updates on Texas A&M Star's Status and Return

Texas A&M defensive lineman Myles Garrett has experienced a breakout freshman season. That stellar campaign might have hit a setback, as the star pass-rusher will miss the Aggies' Week 12 game vs. the University of Missouri.

Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reported the latest on Garrett's injury:

During his first season with the Aggies, Garrett has already compiled over 10 sacks and made his presence felt in the SEC West. Though Texas A&M has taken a step back from its hot start, Garrett has played well all season.

Earlier this year, Garrett eclipsed Jadeveon Clowney's freshman record of eight sacks and continued to climb the ladder. His play also earned respect from University of Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, per Charlie Potter of 247Sports:

They have a young guy. He’s really fast off the ball. ...

He can be very disruptive. He’s very quick. He’s a true freshman, but he has great ball skills. He hustles very hard to the ball, even if it’s not going his way. We’ve just got to stay on him forever. We’ve got to block him forever, no matter what. If it’s backside or frontside, just block him the whole time.

Garrett signed with the Aggies as the No. 1 weak-side defensive end, per 247Sports, and he has more than lived up to the billing. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports and Michael Felder of Bleacher Report offered their takes on Garrett:

If he's forced to miss time, the Aggies would be without one of the most disruptive pass-rushers in the country. Missing time would also stunt the growth of what appears to be one of the brightest young stars.

The defense has already struggled, so the loss would be a critical one for Kevin Sumlin. Kyle Allen—and the offense as a whole—will have to carry the team in order to compete the rest of the way.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Nebraska vs. Wisconsin: Score and Twitter Reaction

If Saturday's showdown between No. 16 Nebraska and No. 20 Wisconsin was a Heisman Trophy elimination contest for contenders Ameer Abullah and Melvin Gordon, it's safe to say Gordon's campaign is more alive than ever after the Badgers' 59-24 victory.

On a snowy field, the Wisconsin rusher set an FBS record for rushing yards in a game. He amassed a whopping 408 yards on 25 carries and added four touchdowns to blow the lid off a one-score game at halftime.

ESPN SportsCenter noted Gordon's historic performance:

Take a look at the quarter-by-quarter final score:

Nebraska shot out of a cannon early with a 17-3 lead, but Wisconsin quickly tightened up on defense and leaned on its unstoppable rushing attack to rattle off 56 unanswered points. The Badgers simply couldn't be stopped on the ground, rushing for 581 yards and only passing for 46 yards.

Saturday's showdown in Madison was undeniably huge with the Big Ten West's two top teams facing off in a game that could decide the division champion. But as far as storylines go, folks couldn't ignore the Abdullah vs. Gordon battle.

The two top Heisman Trophy running back contenders were all the hype heading into Saturday, but the focus for the players remained solely on winning, per Lincoln Journal Star's Brian Christopherson.

"Let’s say Ameer rushes for 100 yards and Gordon rushes for 300, and we win, I’d be much more happier with that result," Nebraska offensive tackle Jake Cotton told Christopherson. "We’re really just trying to go out and get a ‘W’ against a really good Wisconsin team."

The Cornhuskers' mind was certainly in the right place out of the get-go.

After forcing a fumble from Wisconsin receiver Kenzel Doe on the team's second play from scrimmage, Nebraska pushed through a 32-yard field goal by Drew Brown to take a 3-0 lead. 

One Wisconsin three-and-out later, the Badgers gave the ball back to Nebraska only for Abdullah to rush them down the field and set up a 12-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. to Kenny Bell. 

Wisconsin answered back to get on the board with a 26-yard field goal from Rafael Gaglianone, but Nebraska got right back to it. This time, it was an eight-play drive capped off by Armstrong's five-yard touchdown run aided by an earlier Gordon lost fumble.

USA Today's Nicole Auerbach was taken back by Nebraska's early success:

Meanwhile, CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli noted Wisconsin's shortcomings played a big role in those points:

Early in the second quarter and with their Big Ten hopes slipping away, Gordon took things into his own hands despite his early fumble.

He exploded for a 62-yard touchdown on the very next Wisconsin drive, abusing Nebraska's defenders who had solid angles and sprinting into the end zone. 

That made it 17-10, and Wisconsin forced a three-and-out followed by a fumble from Nebraska's Terrell Newby. On the resulting play, Gordon scampered for 39 yards before Corey Clement ran it in from 17 yards out to tie the game at 17-all.

After early struggles, Wisconsin's defense stood tall and shut out Nebraska for the rest of the first half. That allowed Gordon to continue doing his thing, en route to historic first-half numbers as Big Ten Stats Guys noted:

Behind Gordon's dominant first half, Wisconsin was able to add another score with less than four minutes to go. He had three rushes for 57 yards in a drive capped off by a touchdown pass from Joel Stave to Sam Arneson that made it 24-17 before half.

At that point, it was no contest between the two Heisman contenders, as Sports Illustrated's Zac Ellis demonstrated:

Armstrong had a first half to forget (1-of-10), and it didn't get much better to start the second. He threw an interception to Peniel Jean, but Nebraska's defense tightened up to force a three-and-out. 

With a chance to get back level, the Cornhuskers committed a crushing mistake and it was from their offensive juggernaut. Abdullah fumbled on his second touch of the second half, giving Wisconsin the ball near midfield.

Gordon did the rest, running 43 yards to the goal line before bursting into the end zone from one yard out. 

ESPNU said it best:

As the game wore on, Gordon's production didn't taper off—although at any point he could have called it a day and still finished with ridiculous numbers.

Instead, he only continued his dominance. As Tanner McEvoy scampered home for a 5-yard touchdown to make it 45-17 late in the third, Gordon's numbers continued to defy all realistic possibilities as Sports IllustratedCollege Football noted:

In the midst of a historically bad performance from their run defense, Nebraska saw an early 17-3 lead balloon into a 45-17 deficit. The Cornhuskers had allowed 42 unanswered points. 

Heading into the fourth quarter, few Nebraskans had reason for optimism but Fake Bo Pelini remained one:

But before the fourth quarter even came, Gordon effectively ended the contest with one final run. He burst forward for a 26-yard touchdown run that put him over 400 yards for the day and made it 52-17.

That made it official—in one day, Gordon had rushed for more yards than Wake Forest had as a team all year, per ESPN Stats and Info:

But as 247Sports' Ryan Bartow noticed, his rushing has as much to do with a dominant offensive line as anything else:

The continuing snowfall made for a white gridiron for the final 15 minutes of play, but it did nothing to change what had been brewing for three quarters. 

Wisconsin's dominance continued into the fourth with Gordon resting for the remainder of the contest. Dare Ogunbowale ran it in from eight yards out with 5:34 left to make it 59-17. That would prove to be the finishing touches on an unstoppable performance as a team from Wisconsin.

With the victory, Wisconsin moves to 5-1 in conference play and that makes the Badgers the top team in the division. They face Iowa and Minnesota down the stretch, who could both play their way into the conference title game but look to be no match for Wisconsin at the moment.

A 10-win season is still very much alive for Wisconsin, as it is with Nebraska—who can get to 11 wins with a bowl victory. The Cornhuskers have Minnesota and Iowa as well on the slate to finish out, but lost their control of the divisional race on Saturday.

There's still the opportunity for Nebraska to finish out 2014 on a high note, but Wisconsin made no mistake of its place atop the Big Ten West on Saturday.

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Mississippi State vs. Alabama: Score and Twitter Reaction

No. 5 Alabama (9-1) held off a second-half charge from No. 1 Mississippi State (9-1) to move atop the SEC West and greatly improve its playoff chances with a 25-20 victory.

Now the waiting game for the next set of rankings begins. Alabama should move safely into a playoff spot, but it's unknown how high it will rise. On the flip side, where Mississippi State will land after the loss will be a major talking point for next few days.

As expected, there was plenty of hype leading up to the marquee clash. Alabama also had some extra questions to answer after the College Football Playoff Selection Committee moved TCU past the Tide and into one of the coveted top-four positions for Week 12.

The tone from head coach Nick Saban remained the same, though. Michael Casagrande of AL.com passed along comments from the four-time national champion, who kept the focus of his players on taking care of their own business and not worrying about the current standings.

"We have to play really, really good teams in our league and we have a couple of really, really good teams that we have to play to finish the season, starting with the team that we play this week," Saban said. "The emphasis is, if you have success against the teams that you have to play, all those things are going to take care of themselves."

That said, Alabama certainly came out like a team looking to make a statement, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

There was some concern about how the Tide defense would handle the uptempo pace of the Bulldogs along with the dual-threat ability of quarterback Dak Prescott.

The Crimson Tide forced a punt on MSU's first drive. Then, after moving the ball into Mississippi State territory on offense, Alabama pinned the Bulldogs deep in their own end with a nice punt by JK Scott.

Two plays later Alabama was on the board first. Josh Robinson tried to bounce outside on a run up the middle but was swarmed by a group of Crimson Tide defenders in the end zone for a safety.

Yahoo's Dr. Saturday highlighted the effort by the Alabama defense:

The Tide also took advantage of the ensuing possession with a field goal to make it 5-0. Adam Griffith connected from 36 yards to continue his recent return to form, as noted by Ivan Maisel of ESPN:

Interestingly, Robinson, who heard about his mistake on the safety loud and clear on the sideline, didn't get a touch on the next possession for Mississippi State. The result was a three-and-out, but Alabama couldn't capitalize on good field position.

Skip Bayless of ESPN's First Take pointed out the absence of the team's leading rusher:

Following a string of defensive stands for both sides, Alabama scored the game's first touchdown midway through the second quarter.

Blake Sims was perfect on the drive, completing all four passes. It started with a 35-yard dart down the middle to Jalston Fowler and finished with a perfectly placed toss to Amari Cooper from four yards out to make it 12-0.

Chase Goodbread of NFL.com had some high praise for the junior wideout after the score:

Cooper lived up to that standard once again on the next drive. After another punt by the Bulldogs, Sims took a deep shot to his favorite target, and Cooper pulled it down in tight coverage at the 1-yard line.

Derrick Henry plunged into the end zone on the next play but not without some drama. The initial ruling was a Mississippi State fumble recovery, but further review showed the sophomore rusher had crossed the goal line before losing the ball.

Alabama Football celebrated the overturned call:

Mississippi State got on the scoreboard before halftime. Head coach Dan Mullen took a chance by going for it on 4th-and-3 from the Alabama 44. Prescott converted it with a run to the outside. The Bulldogs ended up getting the ball all the way down to the 1 but only came away with a field goal.

Colin Cowherd of ESPN clearly wasn't impressive with Prescott's work in the red zone:

Nevertheless the field goal kept Mississippi State within two scores at halftime, 19-3.

The Bulldogs received the ball to start the second half and put together a second straight solid drive. It was highlighted by a 30-yard connection from Prescott to Malcolm Johnson. They bogged down once again in scoring range, though, and had to settle for another field goal.

ESPN SEC stated what most people were probably thinking:

After Griffith missed a field goal for Alabama, Mississippi State embarked on another extended drive. The Tide defense toughened up once it reached the red zone, though.

This time it was Cyrus Jones who came up with the big play, an interception in the end zone after a poor decision and throw from Prescott.

The Bulldogs' defense stood tall after the turnover, forcing an extremely quick three-and-out by the Tide to get the ball back in good field position.

This time the MSU offense capitalized on it. A nice change-of-direction route by Fred Ross allowed him to get wide open, and Prescott found him for the four-yard score.

As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated wrote, at that point it was game on:

The score seemed to awaken what had become a dormant Alabama offense. It proceeded to put together a 15-play, 76-yard drive to answer the Bulldogs' score.

Sims came up with a trio of crucial third-down conversions to keep the drive alive. The first came on a completion to T.J. Yeldon, and then twice in a row on 3rd-and-long he escaped from the pocket to move the chains with his feet.

The end result, after eating up more than six minutes of clock, was a Yeldon seven-yard touchdown run.

Steve Layman of Newschannel 5 summed up the effort:

Mississippi State, which had little trouble moving the ball in the second half, got down to the Alabama 20 on the ensuing drive. But a tipped ball at the line turned to gold for the Tide, as Landon Collins picked it off to stop the drive in its tracks. It was Prescott's third interception.

After forcing a punt, the Bulldogs scored a touchdown to get back within one score with 15 seconds left, but they did not recover the onside kick to keep the comeback bid alive.

NBC Sports passed along word of the final score:

Looking ahead, Alabama faces off with what should be a completely overmatched Western Carolina squad next week. That's followed by another crucial SEC clash, however, as the Tide welcome Auburn to Tuscaloosa for the latest edition of the Iron Bowl.

It's a similar story for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs return home for a game with Vanderbilt they should win. Then they go back out on the road to face rival Ole Miss in a matchup that could have plenty of SEC and playoff implications.

In other words, there's still plenty to get decided as the regular season winds toward its conclusion.

 

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LSU vs. Arkansas: Live Score and Highlights

ARK 3, LSU (Early 1st Quarter)

The No. 17-ranked LSU Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks are under way at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark. 

Les Miles' team (7-3, 3-3 SEC) is coming off a 20-13 overtime loss to Alabama, while Bret Bielema's squad (4-5, 0-5) is in search of its first SEC win. 

Be sure to keep your browser locked to this live blog for updates, stats and commentary as the sixth-placed Tigers take on the seventh-placed Razorbacks. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Florida State vs. Miami: Live Score and Highlights

Florida State 0, Miami 0 — Early 1st quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 3 Florida State (9-0) and Miami (6-3). ABC is televising the matchup nationally from Sun Life Stadium.

We are watching the game, providing live analysis as the action unfolds:

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TCU vs. Kansas: Score and Twitter Reaction

In the space of a little over a minute, everything unraveled for the Kansas Jayhawks. A 27-17 lead over the fourth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs quickly turned into a 31-27 deficit near the end of the third quarter.

Kansas never recovered, and the Horned Frogs locked it down in the final frame to close out the 34-30 win in Lawrence.

Things were going well for the home team after a 78-yard touchdown pass from Michael Cummings to Nigel King gave the Jayhawks a 27-17 lead with 8:27 left in the third quarter. Cummings' pass was tipped up in the air, and King hauled it down with one hand before scampering to pay dirt.

Fox College Football's Twitter account posted video of the incredible catch-and-run:

That play pretty much summed up how the night was unfolding for Kansas. Fox Sports Southwest's David Ubben felt that catch was one of a few different plays throughout the game that signaled a Jayhawks upset:

TCU running back Aaron Green trimmed the deficit to three points, 27-24, with a 24-yard touchdown run. With 3:48 still remaining in the third quarter, Sports On Earth's Matt Brown felt that the Horned Frogs had more than enough time to get in a position for the win:

His tweet was incredibly prescient just moments later.

Fortunes took a turn toward disastrous for Kansas on the very next drive, as Cameron Echols-Luper returned a Jayhawks punt 69 yards for the go-ahead score. Echols-Luper's touchdown came a mere 70 seconds after Green's run, noted by Fox College Football:

Jaden Oberkrom added a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give TCU a 34-27 lead.

Kansas had a great chance to tie the game after Horned Frogs return man Trevorris Johnson fumbled a punt inside the red zone. The Jayhawks recovered the ball on the away team's 10-yard line. The TCU defense held strong, however, and limited Kansas to a 23-yard Matthew Wyman field goal.

The Jayhawks had one last chance for a potential game-winning drive with 4:09 to play after getting the ball on their own 11-yard line. But they only managed one first down before TCU safety Chris Hackett intercepted Cummings to secure the victory.

While he wasn't great, Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin likely bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy following the win. He threw for 330 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 26-of-36 passing.

Boykin is now the first QB in school history to have six career 300-yard passing games, per TCU Football:

Green also played extremely well for the Horned Frogs in place of the injured B.J. Catalon, carrying the ball 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

On the other side, the lack of a steady running game was one of the Jayhawks' biggest problems. They gained just 76 yards on the ground as a team. As a result, Cummings didn't have much offensive support and his 332-yard passing performance wasn't enough.

Despite the disappointing result, there's no question that this Kansas team was miles better than the one that lost 41-3 to Duke and 23-0 to Texas earlier in the year.

Before the game, Cummings talked about the impact interim head coach Clint Bowen had on the program. 

"When he initially took over, the atmosphere around the facility changed; the mojo of the team changed," the junior QB said, per ESPN.com's Brandon Chatmon. "It was like a 180, in a positive direction."

The old Jayhawks likely would've folded after surrendering a touchdown a little under 2:30 into the game.

TCU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after Boykin found Ty Slanina in the end zone from 27 yards out. Kansas made it 7-6 after a two-yard touchdown run from Corey Avery. The Horned Frogs blocked the point-after attempt to retain a slim advantage.

With 12:02 left until halftime, Kansas took its first lead following a TD pass from Cummings. A field goal from Oberkrom made it a three-point game, 13-10, heading into the second half. The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter before Green sparked TCU's comeback attempt.

Considering how badly this season's gone for the Jayhawks, a win over a Top Five team would've provided some much-needed joy to the Kansas fanbase.

Still, the fans should be encouraged by the team's performance, and Bowen took a major step toward shedding his interim tag, an assessment Andrew Baker of 6News-TV agrees with:

With the win, TCU keeps itself firmly in the playoff picture. A loss almost certainly would've eliminated the Horned Frogs from contention. It also still remains unclear as to what will happen in the event both Baylor and TCU finish with one loss.

The Bears own the head-to-head advantage, which would position them, according to ESPN's Jake Trotter, as the conference champion for playoff purposes in the event of a tie. However, the Horned Frogs have a slightly tougher nonconference schedule, which could sway the selection committee their way when the four-team playoff is announced.

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TCU vs. Kansas: How Horned Frogs' Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

For so much of No. 4 TCU's trip to Kansas on Saturday, the score turned heads around the country as the Horned Frogs' College Football Playoff hopes grew more and more remote. 

Shockingly enough, TCU trailed to one of the Big 12's worst teams by 10 points multiple times in the second half. But Trevone Boykin and Co. stepped up to the task late and pulled out a 34-30 victory.

Despite improving to 9-1 and 6-1 in conference play, the Horned Frogs gave critics plenty of reason to worry about TCU's championship aspirations. A win is a win, and TCU again added to its lofty total in that department—but style points are at at a premium at this point in the season, and the Horned Frogs certainly lost some on Saturday.

The pressure was on TCU after being put in the top four of the CFP rankings for the first time entering Week 12, and it showed as they struggled mightily against an opponent that the Big 12 elite have all throttled.

TCU remained very much in the mix for one of those four spots after avoiding a terrible upset, but teams like Arizona State, Alabama and even Baylor have the opportunity to jump the Horned Frogs even without them faltering on their own.

But the question surrounding TCU heading into Week 13 revolves around just how much this ugly victory will haunt them, as per ESPN's Brett McMurphy:

With some of those elite SEC and Pac-12 teams having better chances for quality wins down the stretch, TCU must get back to winning in impressive fashion to stay in the top four. Here's a look at the current CFP projections after the TCU game:

Saturday's result wasn't convincing like so many of TCU's games thus far, but continuing to win should be the Horned Frogs' chief concern. 

Gary Patterson's squad still remains ahead of Baylor, the only team to top them this season, and the Bears have upcoming games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State that prove tougher than TCU's remaining road. It wouldn't be wrong to assume Baylor will have a harder time winning out.

Without a loss from Baylor in one of those final games, however, the Bears will win the Big 12—which doesn't have a championship game—over TCU thanks to the tiebreaker. With that said, nothing would help TCU's chances more than a Baylor loss down the stretch.

It doesn't help TCU, either, that Baylor dominated this very same Kansas team, per Sporting News' Matt Hayes:

Another result that could doom the Horned Frogs was Alabama's win over Mississippi State. Should the Bulldogs win out and finish with one loss, it's more than likely that they would jump TCU due to more quality wins.

But first things first—TCU likely has to be the top Big 12 team to stay in the CFP conversation, and that means holding off Baylor.

If the Bears can pick up some style points in their final three games and hold off TCU for the conference title, the Horned Frogs might be left on the outside looking in. But with Oregon and Arizona State destined to play in the Pac-12 title and the SEC continuing to knock each other off, TCU remains very much in the hunt.

TCU will be keeping a close eye on its rivals from Waco, but convincing wins over Texas and Iowa State to close out the season would give the Horned Frogs a convincing case for one of the top four CFP spots.

But barely squeaking out a win against a team that Baylor absolutely throttled isn't a great look. 

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Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon Breaks Single Game FBS Rush Record with 26-Yard Run

Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon made history on Saturday against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, possibly having the greatest rushing performance in NCAA history.

On the final play of the third quarter, Gordon ran in this 26-yard touchdown, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson's 1999 record of 406 rushing yards in a single game. Through three quarters, Gordon had 408 yards and four touchdowns on just 25 carries.

The Badgers tweeted at the Heisman Trophy just to make sure that the voters were paying attention to the historic performance:

Tomlinson also tweeted to congratulate Gordon on breaking his record:

Former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball pointed out that a number of Badgers hold NCAA rushing records:

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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Melvin Gordon Breaks FBS Single-Game Rushing Record vs. Nebraska

Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon's case to win the Heisman Trophy got a major boost on Saturday. In an epic performance against Nebraska, the nation's leading rusher ran for an FBS single-game record 408 yards.

The previous record of 406 yards was set by LaDainian Tomlinson in 1999 while playing for the TCU Horned Frogs. Tomlinson congratulated Gordon on the record-breaking day:

Former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had his thoughts as well:

How big was Gordon's performance? Paul Myerberg of USA Today put the single-game tally in perspective: 

Coming into the game, Gordon already had 1,501 yards. At this point, a 2,000-yard season is a foregone conclusion.

Gordon blew by last season's year-end total of 1,609 yards in the first half on Saturday and kept pounding the Cornhuskers defense. Wisconsin still has two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, and the victory over Nebraska puts the team in the driver's seat for a berth in the Big Ten title game.

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2015 NFL Draft: 5 Lesser-Known Prospects Who Will Be 1st Rounders

Now that we're more than halfway through the 2014 college football season, it's time to start analyzing the prospects for the 2015 NFL draft.

With an ample body of work from players to go on, the assessments made at this stage in mid-November are going to be a lot more useful than ones from earlier in the fall. 

There are always a bunch of prospects who start to rise up the boards and make names for themselves this time of year, and this list focuses on them.

Here are five lesser-known prospects who will end up being first-round picks next May.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com taken before games on November 15.

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Texas vs. Oklahoma State: Live Score and Highlights

Texas 16, Oklahoma State 0—2nd Quarter

Nick Rose caps off Texas' third-straight scoring drive with a 51-yard field goal. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray have run the ball 11 times for 66 yards to pace the Longhorn offense.

You can catch tonight's action on FOX, and be sure to follow the box score at NCAA.com.

Keep up with this page for live updates, highlights and analysis of the action, then be sure to stick around to see game grades for both the Horns and Pokes.

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Auburn vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

Late Second Quarter

Georgia 14, Auburn 7

Georgia's offense is clicking on cylinders and the Bulldog defense has tightened up since allowing an opening-drive score.  How will Auburn respond before half-time?

Follow along here for live updates and analysis.

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Kansas WR Nigel King Scores on 78-Yard Tip-Drill TD Catch vs. TCU

Kansas wide receiver Nigel King was definitely focused, tipping a ball to himself multiple times before securing it and running it in for a 78-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

The score put the Jayhawks up 27-17, placing TCU in danger of dropping out of contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff with a loss. However, the Horned Frogs scored two quick touchdowns late in the third quarter, giving themselves a 31-27 lead heading into the fourth.

The Horned Frogs went on to win 34-30.

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