NCAA Football

ESPN College GameDay 2015: Week 8 Location Hosts, TV Schedule and Predictions

The SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 can wait—the marquee game on Week 8 of the college football slate takes place in the Colonial Athletic Association in the Football Championship Subdivision.

The Richmond Spiders take their 5-1 overall record and perfect 3-0 mark in the conference on the road to battle the 7-0 James Madison Dukes for conference supremacy. The winner will be in complete control of the CAA standings and have the inside track for a postseason spot. 

As if there wasn’t already enough at stake, ESPN’s traveling pregame show, College GameDay, decided to set the stage in person. The show shared its decision to head to Harrisonburg:

College GameDay typically hits the road for power conference clashes that directly impact the College Football Playoff race, so this is a deviation from the norm. ESPN’s Sam Ponder, who is part of the show, shared her excitement for the switch:

Here is everything you need to know for the Week 8 version of College GameDay, as well as a prediction for the showdown on the field.

 

ESPN College GameDay: Week 8 Info

Date: Saturday, Oct. 24

Time (ET): 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia

Watch: ESPN  

Live Stream: WatchESPN

 

Preview and Prediction

The presence of College GameDay isn’t the only reason this is such an important battle. The Spiders and Dukes sit atop the CAA standings with undefeated conference records. The last time either program won the outright conference title in the regular season was in 2008, when James Madison took it, and Saturday’s winner will be in firm control of this year’s race.

Richmond holds the 17-15 historical advantage, but the Dukes won the past two meetings, including last year’s 55-20 blowout at Richmond. The battle shifts to James Madison for homecoming this year, and the crowd is planning a “purple out.”

The Spiders may be on the road, but they have plenty of momentum on their side.

They lost at Maryland to start the season but are undefeated since, with the last four wins coming by a combined 101 points. Quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw for a career-high 312 yards in Richmond’s 37-12 victory over Rhode Island in his last game, and wide receiver Reggie Diggs tallied 142 receiving yards.

Lauletta is the leader of the offense with 1,510 passing yards and 10 touchdowns, but the rushing combination of Seth Fisher and Jacobi Green is also dangerous. The two runners combined for 720 rushing yards and 10 scores this season and will test James Madison’s defense Saturday.

Richmond’s offense has been impressive, but it doesn’t hold up against James Madison’s. The Dukes are 7-0 for the first time ever and boast a 48-45 win at SMU on their resume. The other six wins came by a combined 191 points (an average winning margin of 31.83 points a game).

The Dukes don’t just win, they win big. They scored more than 50 points four times already, and their lowest point total was 38 against the Stony Brook Seawolves. They also topped 600 yards of total offense five different times, thanks largely to the presence of quarterback Vad Lee.

Lee was a highly regarded recruit who initially attended Georgia Tech, but he is now the favorite to win the Walter Payton Trophy as the best player in the FCS. Against SMU, he threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 276 more yards and two additional scores.

Matt Walks of ESPN.com described the superstar:

Through seven games this year, they have one of the best and most efficient offenses in college football, regardless of division, and Lee keeps pillaging the record books. In JMU's 48-45 upset win over SMU, he set single-game marks for total offense (565) and rushing yards (276, to which he added 275 passing yards). Against Towson, he went 24-for-32 with five passing touchdowns. Last week, JMU blew out Elon 51-0, the biggest margin of victory in program history. At the midseason mark, he looks like a lock for the STATS National Player of the Year, essentially the MVP of the FCS.

Even if Richmond somehow finds a way to stop Lee, James Madison has three of the top four rushers in the CAA. Lee is one, but tailbacks Khalid Abdullah and Cardon Johnson are dominant forces as well. The Dukes ran for 440 yards against SMU behind an uptempo offense that has an FCS-high 220 first downs.

Richmond cornerback Jarriel Jordan discussed facing the potent James Madison offense, per John O’Connor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Wrap up. That’s the big thing. We need to tackle and get them down. Watching film, they break a lot of tackles. They keep their feet moving. They’re determined to get to the end zone every time they get the ball.”

Jordan has the right idea, but recognizing the need to wrap up and actually doing it against the three-headed attack of the Dukes are two separate things. Richmond’s offense will keep it within striking distance throughout the game, but the defense will not be able to slow down Lee and company for all four quarters on the road.

Look for James Madison to pull away at the end with another explosive offensive performance.

Prediction: James Madison 51, Richmond 34

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Alvin Kamara's Return to Alabama Promises to Be Emotional on Many Levels

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen.

Sure, former University of Alabama running back Alvin Kamara was looking forward to finally playing a game in Bryant-Denny Stadium, but not like this. Not with his former teammates and himself mourning the loss of a friend.

Kamara has been trying to treat this week like it was any other, even though it clearly isn't, but that became impossible after the death of Altee Tenpenny, one the running backs he practiced alongside for a year.

When asked about his former Crimson Tide colleague who died in a car accident on Tuesday, Kamara teared up.

"What was so sad is I talked to him actually yesterday," Kamara told reporters in Knoxville on Wednesday. "Just to wake up and get that news was heartbreaking. I know those guys over there are hurting, but it hurts me a lot, but I know he's resting easy now."

Regardless of the outcome, Saturday’s game against Tennessee figures to be an emotional one on many levels. The Volunteers are desperate for a big win while the No. 8 Crimson Tide can’t afford another loss in their pursuit of both the Southeastern Conference and national titles, and now a lot of the key participants are also dealing with a tragedy.

That’s all on top of it being the “Third Saturday in October” rivalry. It’s a lot for anyone to take in.

"Guys have been asking me about the mood over there or, more specifically, about certain guys, matchup-wise, kind of the demeanor of those guys as far as playing," Kamara said. "So, I've been kind of an insider, being able to give [Tennessee] some information about them. It comes down to Saturday, we've got to keep having great practices and put it on the field on Saturday."

Alabama is all too familiar with facing former teammates, including former Auburn running back Corey Grant—who is now one of T.J. Yeldon’s backups and a kick returner with the Jacksonville Jaguars but was placed on injured reserve this week due to a hip flexor tear—and tight end Corey McCarron at Middle Tennessee earlier this season.

Kamara was part of Alabama's 2013 recruiting class that was hailed by many as the nation’s best. It was especially notable for its additions in the backfield. Due to depleted numbers at the position, the Crimson Tide added four top recruits: Derrick Henry, Kamara, Tenpenny and Tyren Jones.

“When he was here he was cool,” said junior defensive end Jonathan Allen, who was also in that class. “Great guy to be around, great team player. I love the guy.”

The idea was that they would push each other only it didn’t quite work out that way. While Kamara redshirted, the others all played as freshmen, and it was Henry who established himself behind Yeldon on the depth chart during bowl practices.

One of the bright spots in the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, Henry had 100 rushing yards on eight carries and took his first reception for a 61-yard touchdown. The others either had to be patient and wait their turns or look elsewhere.

Some off-the-field factors came into play as well. Tenpenny transferred (initially to UNLV then to Nicholls State this season), Jones was eventually dismissed from his scholarship and Kamara spent a season at the “Hutch”—Hutchinson Community College in Kansas—before making his SEC return with Tennessee.

“There was no question about the fact that he was an outstanding player,” Saban said. “What happened here was he was doing extremely well for us and was probably going to play as a freshman, and he got his knee scoped and missed three or four weeks and really couldn't catch up. He was really frustrated with the fact that he wasn't playing, and it was difficult for him at that time in his career. 

“I've seen him play this year, and he's done extremely well, and we're happy for him.”

Kamara wasted no time in establishing himself with the Volunteers. As part of a dangerous backfield combination with running back Jalen Hurd and quarterback Joshua Dobbs, he’s tallied 255 rushing yards (42.5 per game), 15 receptions for 108 yards, and five punt returns for 84 yards (16.8 average).

He’s seen the end zone six times already in the same number of games for Tennessee (3-3, 1-2 SEC), and he's even completed a pass.

"This is a tough league, and for anyone to take a pounding as a running back play after play—and I'm not just talking about running the ball, I'm talking about pass-protection and things like that—it's tough," Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said at a press conference on Tuesday. "Alvin has obviously come in and given us great depth at that position, great production."

Even though his future lay elsewhere, Kamara has kept in touch with a lot of his former teammates, and even more have continued to follow his career. Once the game starts he’ll just be No. 6, although senior linebacker Reggie Ragland has already said that he’ll make a point to say hello the first time they collide on the field.

“I ain’t talked to Alvin in a while,” Ragland said. “That’s my little brother. I can’t wait to see him.”

Henry said he’ll wait to “speak to him after the game.”

Regardless, Saturday will be an exercise in containing a wide range of emotions for both Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) and Kamara. From the joy of reconnecting to the shared grief they’ll feel, there will be a lot more going on than a football game played roughly three hours after Tenpenny’s funeral in Arkansas. 

"When he was here, we played against him a lot on the scout team,” linebacker Denzel Devall said, “So it's gonna be interesting to be back out there with Alvin and competing against him.

“It's gonna be fun. I'm looking forward to it."

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Josh Rosen's Continued Growth Evident in UCLA's Dominating Win vs. Cal

PASADENA, Calif. – Every college football game is filled with a litany of small moments that can send momentum in a specific direction no matter what sideline you’re standing on.

Sometimes those plays happen early. Sometimes, as we all saw last week in Ann Arbor between Michigan and Michigan State, they can come on the very last snap.

That’s simply college football nowadays, and while it may seem like an easy-to-digest, macro concept, many players, coaches, fans and media members often overlook the fact that even amid blowouts there’s some spark buried deep inside a game that can prove to be the difference between being an upset and a runaway.

UCLA’s 40-24 thrashing of No. 19 Cal was merely quarterback Josh Rosen’s seventh game of his promising college career, but that notion was one of the key things the true freshman hit upon when diagnosing his 399-yard, three-score effort on Thursday night that was as close to flawless as one could be.

“There are so many instances that make the media or fans say that was a good game or that was a bad game,” Rosen said. “I almost threw a pick on that first drive when I threw the fade to (Jordan Payton), and I short-armed it. That could have changed how everybody is looking at this game. But it was just a few inches on a few certain plays that make people say you had a good or bad game.

“The cards fell in our favor. We executed.”

Few fifth-year seniors would be savvy enough to note an incomplete pass on a nine-play scoring drive that occurred nearly four hours ago. That Rosen did so, and labeled it as a turning point in an otherwise routine contest, was yet another reminder that he is no ordinary first-year starter nor your typical 18-year-old freshman.

“Josh is a lot like (Cal quarterback Jared Goff). He’s very mature, he has tremendous poise, he prepares well and he’s smart,” Bruins coach Jim Mora remarked. “Like all great performers, they are able to let go of what just happened and move on to the next event. Josh has been able to do that now for seven games, in spring ball and in our summer camp. He’s a rare kid.”

Goff is considered by most to be a first-round pick when he eventually declares for the NFL draft and even a 295-yard outing against a depleted UCLA defense in which he had three touchdowns but five sacks would dissuade few teams from making him the face of their franchise. Rosen may be fresh out of high school but his continued progression on the field has made him look far more like an elder statesman for the Bruins than a freshman.

“(This win) feels as good as BYU when I threw three picks and had a hundred something yards,” Rosen said matter of factly. “I feel like I’ve played five great games in five great wins.”

That fifth one may have been a season-saver for the team too.

UCLA’s division hopes remain on life support but another season finishing with double-digit wins remains on the table. That may not be what a fanbase longing to turn the corner wants to hear, but it’s not bad at all in the big picture considering the youth behind center and a host of devastating injuries.

After all, a big reason why Rosen was front and center leading the offense on a picturesque evening at the Rose Bowl was due to the absence of star tailback Paul Perkins. The underrated slasher took a helmet to his leg in the first half and failed to return to the game after limping off.

The redshirt junior led the Pac-12 in rushing last season and appeared well on his way to doing that again in 2015 but may find himself on the sidelines for the foreseeable future with several other starters after Mora said his prognosis was “not good at all.”

In other words, expect UCLA to do exactly what it did for most of the game against a woeful Cal defense: lean on Rosen.

“I have to give UCLA a lot of credit, they had lost two straight. They came out and played a very aggressive physical brand of football,” Bears coach Sonny Dykes said. “We got pressure on Rosen, but we didn’t do a good job of keeping him hemmed in.”

Welcome to the club, coach.

With the meat of the Bruins schedule behind them until trips to Utah and USC to end the year, it’s unlikely Cal will be the last to say the same about the continually improving signal-caller.

Rosen led seven straight scoring drives to open the contest against Cal and put the game out of reach just after halftime. By the end of the night, he held or tied eight school records.

Not bad for his seventh game.

The Bruins don’t just have their quarterback of the future, they clearly have a good one for the present.

Rosen has been wise beyond his years during his short tenure so far in Westwood and his maturing under fire certainly gives the team plenty of hope after another dominating win that may just have saved the season.

 

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Josh Rosen's Continued Growth Evident in UCLA's Dominating Win vs. Cal

PASADENA, Calif. – Every college football game is filled with a litany of small moments that can send momentum in a specific direction no matter what sideline you’re standing on...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Cal vs. UCLA: Game Grades, Analysis for Bears and Bruins

In another Thursday night shocker, No. 20 California limped out of the Rose Bowl following a 40-24 beatdown from rival UCLA, who reignited its conference title hopes behind the victory. True freshman quarterback Josh Rosen impressed throughout, snapping a school record for completions while totaling 399 yards passing with three scores.

Up next, the Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) host division opponent Colorado next week at the Rose Bowl while the stumbling Golden Bears (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) return to Berkeley to face USC at home. For more details on the Cal-UCLA game, check out the NCAA box score here.

Pass Offense: Put simply, Rosen was prolific. After a brilliant first half in which the true freshman completed 24-of-33 passes for 238 yards and two scores, Rosen followed up with a 161-yard, one-touchdown performance en route to breaking the school's single-game record for completions with 34. 

Rush Offense: Considering how Rosen was driving the passing game, it's safe to assume Jim Mora and the coaching staff saw no need to put much pressure on the rush attack. However, Paul Perkins and Soso Jamabo combined for 152 yards on 29 carries for one touchdown, removing any focus on Rosen by a not-so-impressive Cal defense.

Pass Defense: Quarterback Jared Goff's numbers may have been statistically solid at the final whistle, but the tape will show UCLA's defensive front harassing him all night. On top of that, tight coverage forced out-of-sync throws and a multitude of dropped passes. 

Rush Defense: The Cal rushing game was a joke in the first half, mainly because UCLA controlled the line of scrimmage. The second half was, for the most part, similar, as the Golden Bears abandoned their ground game to try and put quick scores on the board. On the day, Cal racked up 131 yards, but most came during garbage time and failed to impact the course of the matchup. 

Special Teams: Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn drilled a school-record 60-yard field goal to close the half for UCLA, which set the tone for the Bruins in the second. Prior to that bomb, though, Fairbairn nailed three (much) shorter kicks to help UCLA establish a commanding lead. 

Coaching: After the away loss to Stanford last week, many questioned the "get-up" of UCLA. However, Mora and his staff composed an almost perfect game plan for Cal, as consistent pressure and faith in Rosen pushed the Bruins to a clean victory. Further, another slew of injuries plagued the team, but an unmatched resolve by the coaches helped UCLA over the hump of its past two losses. 

 

Pass Offense: After closing the first half with a long drive and impressive score to Kenny Lawler, most thought quarterback Jared Goff might recover for an impressive second. Unfortunately for Cal, the junior was unable to craft a comeback, as despite solid numbers (32 of 53 for 295 yards and three scores), his offensive line could not shut down the pass rush and Cal could not establish a running game. 

Rush Offense: The first half featured a dismal 35 total yards, and even though the second half was better with 97 yards, most came in garbage time late in the fourth. There's not much else to say, except the Golden Bears need more balance to stand a chance as the season progresses. 

Pass Defense: The Josh Rosen show of the first half, which ended with 238 yards for two scores, continued into the second, as the freshman quarterback broke a completion record while racking up more yards and another touchdown. The Cal defense struggled to put any pressure on the young signal-caller, and receivers were constantly open. 

Rush Defense: Despite losing Perkins to injury, the UCLA rushing attack still found its legs in its 174-yard, one-touchdown performance. Jamabo stepped in when needed, while Rosen was able to take pressure off the offensive line with his strong passing attack. 

Special Teams: The early field goal was good for Cal's only lead, but a failed fake punt and a strange (but still no good) onside kick put this unit in the doghouse. Outside of those "big" plays, Cal was relatively quiet on special teams. 

Coaching: Coming off a bye week, much more was expected from Sonny Dykes' squad. The offense was sluggish and unresponsive while the defense failed to put any pressure on Rosen throughout the game. Against a UCLA team fresh off two losses, Dykes and his staff deserve most the blame for the mental shortcomings of Cal on Thursday night.

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Cal vs. UCLA: Game Grades, Analysis for Bears and Bruins

In another Thursday night shocker, No. 20 California limped out of the Rose Bowl following a 40-24 beatdown from rival UCLA, who reignited its conference title hopes behind the victory...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Cal vs. UCLA: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The UCLA Bruins kept their Pac-12 championship hopes alive with a convincing 40-24 win in Thursday’s Week 8 opener over the No. 20 California Bears, losers of two straight.

The win didn’t come without a bite from the injury bug. Already dealing with a slew of attrition, the Bruins lost leading rusher Paul Perkins (knee), leading tackler Isaako Savaiinaea (leg) and the game’s leading receiver, Devin Fuller (neck). ESPN.com's Ted Miller pointed out the team's unfortunate luck this year:

None of the three who left returned to the game Thursday, and five players left with injuries during the Bruins’ Week 7 loss to the No. 10 Stanford Cardinal. UCLA is still alive in the Pac-12 South and may have to limp its way to the conference title game, as ESPN.com's Travis Haney noted:

The Bruins' fate largely rests on freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, who was marvelous in Thursday’s win, completing a school record 34 passes on 47 attempts for a career-high 399 yards and three touchdowns. Bruins wide receiver Thomas Duarte also had career highs of 10 catches for 141 yards. 

Rosen outdueled highly touted Cal quarterback Jared Goff, who finished 32-of-53 for 295 yards with three touchdowns, extending his school record to 73. Rosen's performance impressed the Los Angeles Times' Eric Sondheimer:

The Bruins accounted for just one turnover—a fumble by running back Soso Jamabo well after the game had been decided—against a Cal defense that led the nation with 21 takeaways entering Week 8.

UCLA jumped out to a 23-3 lead before Cal finally reached the end zone on a one-yard fade from Goff to wide receiver Kenny Lawler with 51 seconds remaining in the first half. ESPN College Football shared the replay:

The Bruins marched downfield and extended their lead to 26-10 as time expired in the half on a school-record 60-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn—one of four that the senior booted in the win. Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday provided a replay:

UCLA fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 following a 56-35 loss to Stanford in Week 7 but will likely return to the rankings following Thursday’s win. 

The Bruins will need help to reach the conference title game, and they’re running out of time. With five games remaining, UCLA sits in a three-way tie for second in the Pac-12 South with the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State Sun Devils at 2-2 in conference play. The Bruins hold the tiebreaker against Arizona but lost in Week 5 to Arizona State.

The No. 3 Utah Utes sit atop the division undefeated but will play UCLA in Week 12. The Bruins need to win out and have Utah and Arizona State each lose at least one other game to reach their fourth conference title game in six years.

Nonetheless, Rosen spoke with conviction following the Bruins’ loss to Stanford and believes the Bruins will face the Cardinal again for the conference crown.

“It’s frustrating,” Rosen told Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register. “I really wanted to beat this team. I really wanted to make a statement. But we’ll face them again in the Pac-12 Championship Game.”

Cal also needs help in the Pac-12 North at 2-2 in the conference and two games behind Stanford, which it will play in Week 12. The Bears are capable of running the table until then, with games against USC, Oregon and Oregon State ahead, but they will need drastically improved play from their defense, which is allowing 26.7 points per game.

Postgame reaction

Things got chippy after the final whistle when the teams scrummed at midfield in the latest edition of this in-state conference rivalry:

ESPN broadcasters told Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter that no punches were thrown and that the skirmish never escalated to an all-out brawl.

As for the in-game contact, Bruins head coach Jim Mora was not optimistic about the alarming number of injuries that continue to dwindle the depth chart:

Given the sustained slew of injuries, Bleacher Report’s Bryan Fischer doesn’t like the Bruins’ chances of returning to the Pac-12 championship game.

On a positive note, Mora had high praise for Rosen, who has emerged as one of the game’s great young quarterbacks with seemingly limitless upside.

Meanwhile, Cal is also in trouble after losing its second straight. Third-year head coach Sonny Dykes is still seeking an elusive win against the Bears’ major rivals.

If they still hope to compete for the Pac-12 title, they’ll need a major boost on defense. As ESPN Stats & Info indicates, Thursday’s loss was Cal’s 24th in a row when scoring fewer than 30 points. Goff continues to be great, but he can’t do it alone.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Temple vs. East Carolina: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The Temple Owls secured their best start in history Thursday with a 24-14 road victory against the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina.   

The 10-point victory didn't come easy, as Temple trailed most of the game. They led 3-0 in the first quarter, but quarterback P.J. Walker and the offense were quiet most of the night. Trailing 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter, the junior came up big when it mattered most.   

Walker, facing a 2nd-and-24 from his own 15-yard line with 5:22 to go in the game, found wide receiver Robby Anderson streaking across the field. He hit him in stride around the Temple 33, and Anderson took it down to the ECU 34-yard line.

Even though it wasn't a score, it was probably the most important of the game. If they didn't complete that pass, the Owls were looking at 3rd-and-24 inside their own red zone and possibly punting down four.

Four plays after the big gain, Walker found Anderson again, this time for a 23-yard touchdown that proved to be the game-winner.

The Owls scored 10 points fewer than their season average of 34 points per game, but Walker finished 19-of-35 for 250 yards and the one touchdown. Running back Jahad Thomas rushed for 66 yards and two scores, his second coming with 2:18 left in the game following the Owls' second punt of the night.

ECU took a 14-10 lead with 18 seconds remaining in the first half, when junior quarterback Blake Kemp found Quay Walls in the end zone from seven yards out. The Pirates held that same lead until Anderson's score then fell apart in the final six minutes.

The victory should keep the Owls, who were ranked No. 22 coming into the game, in the Associated Press Top 25 poll next week. It has been 36 years since Temple was ranked, and in case you aren't sure exactly how long ago that is, ESPN CollegeFootball reminded everyone.

This was certainly a game to celebrate, and Temple did just that:

The Owls move to 4-0 in the and are the only in the conference's East Division. The Pirates could have moved into a first-place tie with a victory but instead are now 2-2 in the conference and in second place in the East.

Now, as Philadelphia-based AP reporter Dan Gelston described, the Owls have a pretty big game next week.

However, just because you in a big game, doesn't mean you are going to win it. Sports Illustrated's doesn't seem to have much faith in the underdog Owls.

If the Owls can get past the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Temple has winnable games at 1-5 SMU and 3-3 South Florida before the No. 18 undefeated . Then they would need to finish off 3-4 UConn at home the next week and then win the AAC on Dec. 5 to finish undefeated.

That is a ton of work still ahead of them, but if they can finish unscathed, the Owls will have made a great case to in a January .

Postgame Reaction

Temple head coach Matt Rhule wasn't exactly thrilled with the way his team played, but he was glad to leave Greenville with a win, per Joseph Santoliquito of CBS Philly.

“We overcame shooting ourselves in the foot, but I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” Rhule said. “We didn’t look like a very good football team at times tonight, but I couldn’t be prouder."

It didn't look good for a while, but during crunch time, the Owls showed they were the better team.

"For us to fight, hang in and come back, they showed a lot of heart and character," Rhule said. "We just have to get better at some things.”

It wasn't just the coach talking about the Owls after the game. 

Someone who probably didn't enjoy talking about the game was ECU's quarterback Kemp, who threw for 272 yards in the game, but was not happy to see this one slip away, per ECU's official athletics' site.

"We expected to win the game," Kemp said. "It's frustrating to see the game end like that."

It was certainly not pretty for the Pirates, who, in the final six minutes had two punts blocked, and gave up 14 points. 

Head coach Ruffin McNeil told ECU's official athletic's site he felt like the Priates gave the game away.

We stopped ourselves with the penalties. We can't have (nine) penalties, turnovers and the blocked punt. Temple did a lot of tonight, and we didn't. We didn't do the things we know we've got to do to win the game.

It no doubt felt like it was one that got away for some, but The New Bern Sun Journals' Jordan Honeycutt, think the Pirates can finish the season strong.

 If Temple finishes strong, it could mean big things for the Owls this season, but could it mean Rhule might move on to greener pastures?

For now the Owls can bask in the glory of their best start in season history, but they better not get too comfortable, because in three weeks the undefeated Memphis Tigers, who knocked off Ole Miss last weekend, come to town for what could be one of the biggest regular season games in Temple history.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Can Leonte Carroo and a Surging Rutgers Team Spoil Ohio State's Playoff Run?

The race for the College Football Playoff is past the midway point, and No. 1 Ohio State (7-0) seems to be hitting its stride after a dominant 38-10 victory over Penn State last Saturday.

After the offense struggled through an early-season slump, J.T. Barrett has emerged as the starting quarterback and has the Buckeyes trending up.

Ohio State is on the brink of hitting the home stretch of its regular season, where games against Michigan State and Michigan loom large. But a prime-time date with Rutgers is set for this Saturday, and the surging Scarlet Knights have a chance to derail the Buckeyes' playoff run.

Just a few short weeks ago, that seemed so improbable.

Rutgers got off to a rough start this season, as head coach Kyle Flood found himself in hot water when allegations arose that he tried to negotiate a grade change with a university professor to alter the eligibility for one of his players. Those allegations led to a three-game suspension and a $50,000 fine for Flood.

Things were deteriorating on the field in a similar fashion as the Scarlet Knights started the season 2-2, with their wins coming against FCS opponent Norfolk State and basement-dwelling Kansas.

The struggles were compounded by a suspension to All-Big Ten wideout Leonte Carroo, who missed two games after an arrest on simple assault charges in mid-September.

But since Carroo returned to the field, Rutgers has looked like a different—and much more dangerous—team.

The shift started under the lights in Piscataway, New Jersey, when the Scarlet Knights hosted No. 4 Michigan State two weeks ago. Carroo was unstoppable as he hauled in seven receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns, helping Rutgers knot up the game at 24 late in the fourth quarter.

The defense collapsed during Michigan State's second-last drive, allowing the Spartans to escape with a 31-24 win.

It would have been easy to let that deflating loss linger, and it looked to be happening last Saturday against Indiana, which built a 25-point lead with less than 18 minutes to go.

But Carroo sparked a rally with a 43-yard touchdown catch, his third of the afternoon, and the Scarlet Knight's scored the game's final 28 points to secure a stunning 55-52 win.

"We're relentless," quarterback Chris Laviano said, via ESPN.com." We'll never give up and we have a lot of fight in this team."

Will Rutgers put up a worthy fight against Ohio State, which enters Saturday's contest as a massive 21.5-point favorite, according to Odds Shark?

That's dependent upon the health of Carroo, who tweaked his ankle and has been limited in practice all week. The star pass-catcher is making progress every day, though, and Flood won't forecast his availability, saying he's a "game-time decision," according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com.

But the Buckeyes are preparing like they'll see the dangerous wideout, and cornerback Eli Apple is up for the challenge.

“As a defense, whatever you have to do to stop [Carroo], that’s what we’re going to have to do,” Apple said, according to Tim Shoemaker of Eleven Warriors. “It doesn’t really matter to me, I’ll do whatever the coaches tell me to do and I have great confidence in our abilities and I feel like we have a good game plan."

If the Buckeyes don't execute that game plan effectively, Rutgers has the ability to give Ohio State a big scare this Saturday.

 

David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Paul Perkins Injury: Updates on UCLA RB's Knee and Return

The UCLA Bruins still have Pac-12 title hopes in a daunting South Division, but that will be more difficult if running back Paul Perkins misses extensive time with the knee injury he suffered Thursday.

Continue for updates.

Perkins Ruled Out for Game Thursday, Oct. 22

Perkins was off to an impressive start against the California Golden Bears with 73 rushing yards on his first 11 carries, but Dane Brugler of CBS Sports noted the playmaker went to the ground and clutched his left knee in the first half. While Perkins walked off the field under his own power without help, Daily Cal Sports confirmed he was out for the remainder of the game.

The fact the running back walked off without any help seemed encouraging, but head coach Jim Mora said the injuries UCLA suffered during Thursday's game were "not good," per Dan Wolken of USA Today

A potential long-term injury to Perkins would be the latest blow for a UCLA team that has already lost star linebacker Myles Jack, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes and cornerback Fabian Moreau for the season, among others.

Perkins has 754 rushing yards, 125 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on the season and turned heads against BYU with 219 rushing yards in a comeback victory.

Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi handled the rushing duties after the starter left the game. Jamabo is a freshman who didn’t have more than nine carries in a single game coming into Thursday’s contest, and Olorunfunmi—who is also a freshman—didn’t have more than eight carries in a game this year before Thursday.

Both are high-upside youngsters who are physical enough to pick up tough yardage (Olorunfunmi is 220 pounds, and Jamabo is 210 pounds), but the Bruins need their rushing leader back if they hope to fulfill their goals for the rest of the season. 

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Paul Perkins Injury: Updates on UCLA RB's Knee and Return

The UCLA Bruins still have Pac-12 title hopes in a daunting South Division, but that will be more difficult if running back Paul Perkins misses extensive time with the knee injury he suffered Thursday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Massive Brawl Breaks out During Junior College Football Game in Mississippi

Football is a violent, intense sport. It shouldn’t get this violent, though.

During a junior college contest between East Mississippi Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College on Thursday night, a wild brawl broke out and forced referees to end the game.

East Mississippi had a 48-0 lead when the contest was called.

Scott Walters, a writer for the Commercial Dispatch, broke it down:

[h/t SB Nation]

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Shirtless Warrior Drills Field Goal While Performing Backflip at UCLA Game

If you woke up this morning expecting to see this, you’re lying.

During a timeout in the first half of UCLA’s showdown with California on Thursday night at the Rose Bowl, a shirtless warrior with flowing hair booted a ball through the uprights.

This legendary fella, who is actually a Cirque du Soleil performer, threw in some sort of backflip on his follow-through for good measure.

Don’t question it. Just enjoy it.

[Twitter]

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Cal vs. UCLA: Live Score and Highlights

UCLA 17, Cal 3 - Early Second Quarter

Stay tuned for breaking news, commentary and analysis throughout the game, as the No. 22 Golden Bears visit Los Angeles aiming to knock off the Bruins on ESPN. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Cal vs. UCLA: Live Score and Highlights

UCLA 20, Cal 3 - Early Second Quarter Stay tuned for breaking news, commentary and analysis throughout the game, as the No. 22 Golden Bears visit Los Angeles aiming to knock off the Bruins on ESPN...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Daily Fantasy College Football Week 8: DraftKings Optimum Lineup, Matchup Guide

As we inexplicably speed past the halfway mark of the 2015 college football regular season, more and more standout players are forging their way into "stud" territory. 

At this point in the year, the expected production level will likely match the result. There isn't a lot of deviation at this point. When selecting a fantasy roster, the player's opponent is arguably the biggest determiner as to whether you should select him. 

As is the case with DraftKings, fantasy players are allowed two quarterbacks, two running backs, three receivers and two flex players. All nine players must equal no more than $50,000. 

 

Optimum Lineup for Week 8

QB: Maxwell Smith (SDSU, $4,900), Brett Rypien (Boise State, $6,500)

RB: Zack Langer (Tulsa, $5,900), Stanley "Boom" Williams (Kentucky, $5,500) 

WR: Jordan Payton (UCLA, $5,800), Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss, $6,100), Demarcus Ayers (Houston, $6,200)

Flex: De'Runnya Wilson (Mississippi State, $5,500), Vic Enwere (Cal, $3,600) 

Budget: $50,000

Used: $50,000

 

QB Analysis

A Kentucky transfer, Smith has been a breath of fresh air for the San Diego State offense. 

The Aztecs are on a three-game winning streak, in large part due to Smith's effectiveness as a passer. He doesn't turn the ball over, as evidenced by throwing only two interceptions thus far.

In the last two weeks, he has completed more than 70 percent of his passes. With Utah State coming to town, one can expect the Aggies to put up plenty of points. As such, this could provide Smith with more opportunities in the passing game. 

Rypien has been effective since taking over the starting job for the Broncos. On the year, he's thrown seven touchdowns to only four interceptions. He's also completing passes at a 63.6 percent clip. 

This weekend, Boise State will host a struggling 1-6 Wyoming team. Rypien has already demonstrated the ability to feast on cupcakes this season (Virginia, Hawaii). There's no reason why he can't do the same to the Cowboys. 

 

RB Analysis

Tulsa running back Zack Langer has rushed for at least one touchdown in every game this year. The bruising tailback has accrued 596 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. 

He won't necessarily be a home run threat to break a long run, but he appears to be good for at least one score. Langer rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown earlier this year against Oklahoma. 

Kentucky back Stanley "Boom" Williams is running to the tune of a 7.2 yards-per-carry average. In some respects, he's the antithesis of Langer. 

While he's not going to be a grind-it-out type of running back, his slashing style works perfectly with the upstart Wildcats offense. Williams is at his best when he can utilize his speed in space. On the year, he's rushed for 456 yards on only 63 carries.

He's also coming off one of his better games of the season, running for 113 yards and two touchdowns versus Auburn. 

 

WR Analysis

Treadwell's money total is curiously low, considering he leads the SEC in catches (49) and receiving yards (654). He's unquestionably Chad Kelly's favorite target and more often than not impacts the game in a big way. 

Against a sometimes-shaky Texas A&M team this weekend, Treadwell should accumulate big numbers. Don't be surprised if this contest ends up being a shootout down in Oxford, Mississippi. 

Like Treadwell, Payton is UCLA's top receiver in both yards and receptions. Josh Rosen had his second-best game statistically last week versus Stanford and appears to be hitting his stride as a passer. 

With Cal allowing a considerable amount of passing yards per contest, Payton could be in line for a big day. 

Ayers and the explosive Houston offense are salivating at the thought of playing an 0-7 UCF team this weekend. The diminutive receiver (5'10", 178 lbs) out of Texas is lightning-quick, has legitimate deep-threat speed and is without a doubt the most dynamic skill player on Houston's roster.

Ayers has double the amount of catches (46) as the next-best statistical output on the roster. He should be good for at least one touchdown in this expected blowout. 

 

Flex Analysis

Wilson has caught four touchdowns in the past four games, including two last week in the win over Louisiana Tech. 

With his combination of size and speed, he's a terror on any jump-ball scenario down the sidelines. Signal-caller Dak Prescott makes him an obvious focal point of the offense. Wilson leads the team in receiving yards (433) and touchdown catches (five). 

Wilson's smallish money total also makes him an attractive play this week. 

Enwere is a big wild card this week. Cal is playing UCLA, which has been absolutely horrid against the run in 2015. The Bruins gave up 310 yards on the ground last week in the loss to Stanford.

Since the injury to Eddie Vanderdoes, Jim Mora's team hasn't displayed the ability to play even adequately against any sort of effective rushing attack. 

The big back (6'1", 230 lbs) out of Texas has been sharing time with Daniel Lasco. He has been injured for the majority of the year but will try to give it a go against the Bruins. If Lasco gets nicked in the game (which is a distinct possibility), Enwere would assume the role as the lead back. Regardless, he might be the goal-line option as a means to keep Lasco healthy. 

Costing only $3,600, he could be a huge steal in Week 8 play. 

Enter the DraftKings $1.25 M Play-Action contest this weekend. Use promo code BLEACHER REPORT when you sign up. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting Where 'College GameDay' Should Go for Rest of 2015 Season

ESPN's College GameDay remains the gold standard of college football pregame shows, and where it goes each week is almost as big a deal as the game it's there to preview.

The decision to send the show to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to highlight the FCS rivalry between the Richmond Spiders and the James Madison Dukes continues the trend the last few years of making an occasional foray away off the beaten path to highlight lesser-known schools. In 2014 the show went to North Dakota State and Harvard, and this season's trips to Salt Lake City and Tucson have added to the normal rotation of ACC and SEC schools.

Where will GameDay end up the rest of this season? Some weeks have several great potential locales, and it's likely going to come down to how the teams are playing right before then to determine where it goes.

We've weighed in with our predictions for the rest of the year, along with a list of the other possible candidates each week.

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After Throwing It All Away, Steve Sarkisian's Redemption Story Has to Start Now

Last week, Steve Sarkisian was fired as USC's head football coach and suffered his deepest embarrassment in public. Now comes the hard part: the part done in private.       

The noise of the scandal at USC may have softened and the spotlight on Sarkisian dimmed, but what about the man now fighting his sickness? How do we gain perspective on what Sarkisian might be going through as he battles a drinking problem and reportedly enters rehab?     

We do just what he's doing: lean on the experience of those who have been through it and those who are experts in treating it.

Kevin Mackey has been through it. Mackey was called the King of Cleveland after his little Cleveland State basketball team beat legendary Bobby Knight and Indiana in the 1986 NCAA tournament. Mackey became a local hero—until his alcohol addiction became public when he was arrested and fired for driving under the influence in 1990.

What was Mackey going through immediately after? What might Sarkisian be feeling today?

"How did I throw it all away?" Mackey said. "That is what I was thinking."

Even now, it's a feeling that haunts him. "Thank God it is 25 years ago in the rearview mirror," Mackey said.

When seeking treatment, that regret comes mixed with the awful physical effects of withdrawal.

Dr. Damon Raskin, doctor at the Cliffside Malibu treatment center specializing in addiction, described that side of it.

"You can be susceptible to seizures, severe tremors, dehydration," Raskin said. "Detox involves medication to help get the alcohol safely out of your body. Especially with alcohol, if you abruptly stop drinking when you're a regular drinker, that can be medically dangerous. He'll be seeing a medical doctor, like myself, and you'll usually be seen by a psychiatrist as well as a therapist. Individual therapy, group therapy to delve not into the drinking but the underlying issue.

"I'm hopeful he's in rehab; I assume he is. He clearly reached a new bottom, and that's what happens especially to well-known people or celebrities: They really have to reach bottom to get the help they should have gotten a long time ago."

Why does it reach this point? Why did those around Sarkisian—or Mackey—ignore clear warning signs along the way to "rock bottom"? We don't know all the specifics there, but we saw the tip of the iceberg. When USC athletic director Pat Haden had to pull Sarkisian away from a microphone at a preseason rally because he was drunkenly using bad language, why did he not see that that was a cry for help?

"I think that's the classic example of not wanting to deal with it, of enabling the person," Raskin said, speaking theoretically and without knowledge of what might have been done behind the scenes at USC. "The bottom line is…the athletic director felt pressure publicly to just excuse the behavior. "

Firing Sarkisian might have been the best thing Haden did for him, but it was too late. Knowing that he needed help, knowing he was going through a messy divorce, Haden left Sarkisian in one of the most pressure-packed jobs in the country and enabled him to continue his descent.

Why didn't Haden take Sarkisian away from the team right then?

Is it because doing so would have risked his football season—and the chance to reach the pot of gold that is the College Football Playoff? Maybe he had to determine if Sarkisian's health was worth risking that.

Mackey comes from a sports background and can somewhat understand the decision Haden was facing. That doesn't mean he thinks Haden shouldn't have sent Sarkisian right to therapy, and away from football, before the season started.

He just understood.

"A number of things enter into it," Mackey said. "It's a big-time program. A lot of people's livelihoods depend on all of that. That's all part of it.

"[And] sometimes when people aren't educated about the disease, when they try to help you, they just enable you."

You wonder if Sarkisian will be saying these same things in 25 years, if Mackey is his voice from the past.

Mackey is now a scout for the Indiana Pacers. After his arrest, he never coached again.

Of course, Mackey remembers the high point of his coaching career. He was a hero in Cleveland after his team beat Bobby Knight's. "Oh yeah," Mackey said. "Now, afterward, believe me, I celebrated pretty good."

The city celebrated with him. What people didn't know at the time was that Mackey's celebration was also a symptom: He was an alcoholic. He hadn't even admitted it to himself yet.

That's why Mackey identifies with Sarkisian, even though he doesn't know him. Mackey has seen it before. He has been it before. He sees so many of the same symptoms from Sarkisian that he experienced nearly 25 years ago.

"A big-time coach has a problem, a big-time player has a problem, and it comes to the forefront of the discussion," Mackey said. "It's a tragic situation, and God forbid anyone have to go through it.

"In 1990 when I was going through everything, I said, 'The disease is alive and well and thriving out there.' Well, it's true today, and it's only getting stronger. What happens—and this is with all addictions, whether alcohol, drugs, whatever—you lose your job, you lose your family, you get arrested. And if you keep going, you lose your life."

You'd think the message is already out there. It's hard to see why anyone let Sarkisian goes as far as he did without help.

Raskin explained that people with substance abuse issues, particularly famous people and athletes, are able to surround themselves with "people who are enablers, people who may lose their job or lose their friendship [if they try to help the addicted person]. They want to hang on to that spotlight.

"A lot of them know, but they aren't willing to help. Alcoholics and drug addicts are very good at hiding it. That's part of the disease."

Mackey said he used to hide it by moving around, never staying at the same bar more than two hours. He also said that he never drank before work or at work. Only after.

"I waited," Mackey said. "I could wait until my workday was done. Now, on Saturdays and Sundays, if I had morning practice, the cocktail hour would begin at 11:30, 12."

Mackey said he has been sober for 25 years. He believes that addiction affects everyone's life either directly or indirectly—whether it be over alcohol, drugs, gambling, even eating—and that kids should be taught about it.

He also says that despite all the enablers, the person who picked up the alcohol or drugs is the person who is responsible.

But that person needs help. No matter how painful it is.

We can only hope that that's what Sarkisian is getting now.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Power Ranking the Top 15 Quarterbacks Through 7 Weeks

Quarterback play remains a key factor in evaluating team success in college football. Without a good player at the position, it's often hard to consider a team a legitimate contender for a national title, and in cases like Ohio State not settling on one QB, it can also alter perception.

Earlier this season we power-ranked the country's top 15 quarterbacks, using a formula that takes into account several factors: total offense (and the percent of a team's output they're responsible for), completion percentage, yards per pass attempt, touchdown and interception rate and quarterback rating as well as how well their team is performing in 2015.

The season is halfway over, so it's time for an update to this ranking. Check it out and then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 8

Another action-packed weekend of college football is nearly upon us and, as usual, there's plenty to monitor beyond the playing field. Prospects throughout the nation have set travel plans, hoping to push their respective recruitments closer to a conclusion.

Top-ranked tight end Isaac Nauta and dynamic California playmaker Melquise Stovall headline this latest group of athletes on the move. It's imperative for host programs to make a positive impression during a limited time frame.

Here's a closer look at key campus visits to monitor during the days to come.

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