NCAA Football

Ameer Abdullah Saves Nebraska from Disaster, Further Boosts Heisman Stock

It could have ended badly for Nebraska. Instead, Ameer Abdullah and his legs decided otherwise.

With 20 seconds left in the game, Nebraska was tied 24-24 with McNeese State. Overtime seemed likely until quarterback Tommy Armstrong connected with Abdullah and the rest became history.

Abdullah managed to break five tackles on his 58-yard touchdown sprint, securing a victory for the Huskers when it mattered most.

"He is a big-time player," McNeese State head coach Matt Viator said. "You don’t come back as a leading rusher in the nation unless you can make plays. Give him credit, he made a great play.”

In that moment, Abdullah not only made his case as a Heisman candidate greater, but he also saved Nebraska from a major disaster.

"Ameer put the team on his back and won the game," head coach Bo Pelini said. "I mean, with the kickoff return, too. Thank God for Ameer today."

While it's only the second week of college football, Abdullah is well on his way to breaking records. His 54 rushing yards against McNeese State increased his career rushing total to 3,263 rushing yards, which is only 66 yards from landing him in the top five on the Nebraska career-rushing list.

It's beyond just his performance, though. Abdullah is proving week after week that he's the leader of this Nebraska team.

"First thing he did was address the team in the locker room," Pelini said. "He knows. He's been around long enough and he gets it. That's why he's a tremendous leader. Not just a tremendous player, but a tremendous leader."

It's that attitude that truly carries onto the field. When asked what was going through his head when he got the ball on that touchdown play, Abdullah had a simple answer. "I wanted to score."

And that's exactly what he did. Teammate Josh Mitchell understands. "There's a reason why he is one of the best players in the nation. It's just Ameer being Ameer," he said.

Yet, Abdullah is still climbing his way up the list of other running backs across the country. Those who often get mentioned before him as potential Heisman candidates include Alabama's T.J. Yeldon, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley.

Armstrong credits Abdullah as a playmaker. Pelini wishes he could put the ball in his hands every time if he could. As for Abdullah, his goal is simple and that is to win.

In the process of winning, he managed to save Nebraska's 2014 season from disaster, while also making his Heisman stock rise.

As Mitchell said, that's just Ameer being Ameer.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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USC Kick Returner Nelson Agholor Has No Idea Where He's Going

USC Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor is set to have a big junior season, but this was one of those rare players where he simply messed up.

During a kick return against the Stanford Cardinal, Agholor ended up running into two consecutive teammates before going down.

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After Week 2, QB Blake Sims Is the Answer for Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide took care of business during the second week of the season by defeating the Florida Atlantic Owls 41-0. Both Jacob Coker and Blake Sims saw significant time in this matchup.

Bleacher Report college football analyst Michael Felder discusses both quarterbacks' performances. Who do you think is the better QB?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Oklahoma Gives Walk-on LB Caleb Gastelum Scholarship After Career Performance

Oklahoma linebacker Caleb Gastelum, a walk-on senior, was already having the best day of his career at Tulsa, shirking his normal role as a special-teamer to make eight tackles, record a sack and intercept a pass in a 52-7 win. But what happened during the game did not compare with what happened after it.

According to the Sooners' official Twitter account, head coach Bob Stoops awarded Gastelum with both a game ball and, more importantly, a scholarship after the team's dominant win:

Gastelum entered the year with just five career tackles, both coming in 2013. His three tackles against Louisiana Tech last week tied his single-game career high, but that number was doubled and almost tripled during his extended action Saturday.

Here's a look at his interception, which, admittedly, came in the final minute of the contest, when the outcome was well beyond dispute. But that didn't appear to dampen the experience in the slightest:

Gastelum had never intercepted a pass before that one. The sack he recorded against Tulsa was also the first of his career.

It's a heartwarming story to see this happen for Gastelum—even as late as his senior year—because he didn't even play real high school football. He was home-schooled as a teenager and played in the North Oklahoma Association of Homeschools, per Eric Bailey of Tulsa World.

"Do what your heart desires," he said in August, a message to all home-schooled football players. "If you have the desire to play at a big level, believe in that and strive to make the steps to get there."

Unless Oklahoma's linebacker depth gets ravaged at some point this season, it's unlikely Gastelum will ever see the field enough on defense to repeat Saturday's stat line. But he will remain a key special teams player on a team with national title aspirations, and starting this weekend, he will do so as a scholarship athlete.

And that is pretty darn cool.

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Brandon Scherff Injury: Updates on Iowa Star's Leg and Return

The Iowa Hawkeyes' sturdy offensive line took a blow in Week 2 against Ball State.

Star left tackle Brandon Scherff reportedly suffered a leg injury during the second quarter of his team's contest against the Cardinals.

Marc Morehouse of The Cedar Rapids Gazette first reported the news:

Morehouse had more after the game:

The 320-pound senior will be hoping for a quick recovery, as he could be a top NFL draft pick in 2015. However, he does have plenty of excellent game tape to show scouts after a junior season that saw him make the All-Big Ten first team, per ESPN.com.

Morehouse noted that the Hawkeyes were forced to use an intriguing replacement for Scherff:

However, all may not be lost, as Scherff was apparently able to make it to the locker room under his own power, per Morehouse:

Scherff's injury could expose the lack of depth at offensive line, and quarterback Jake Rudock will certainly miss the comfort and security of a top-tier tackle protecting his blindside. The Hawkeyes offense looked solid in a 31-23 win over the Northern Iowa Panthers in Week 1, but a long-term injury to Scherff could diminish the team's ability to consistently move the ball both through the air and on the ground.

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Why SEC Needs to Fear Tennessee's Justin Worley, Marquez North Connection

With his receiving weapons falling and offensive line collapsing all around him, Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley always found solace looking North—as in receiver Marquez North.

The 6'4", 221-pound sophomore wideout doubled his touchdown production from a season ago on Saturday, hauling in two scores on his way to 68 yards on four catches.

The performance helped the Vols get past a pesky Arkansas State team 34-19 in Neyland Stadium in a win that could prove extremely costly.

Starting receiver Von Pearson and tight end Ethan Wolf went down with lower-leg injuries that both looked nasty. That's two newcomers who have been major cogs to UT's power-spread offense so far. 

While the speculation festers until official news on the injuries comes, Vols fans can at least breathe a sigh of relief with the Worley-to-North connection.

The senior quarterback and his big target are getting into a rhythm, and the rest of the SEC should be concerned.

That hookup was the biggest positive on a shaky, worrisome day for a young team. Through the struggles, Worley's senior leadership was vitally important in a game that kept looking like it may get close.

Despite all that youth, Worley and North are entering their second season as a tandem, and the Vols must lean on them moving forward. Both are getting much more comfortable and consistent on a down-to-down basis.

With three weeks until the SEC schedule kicks off for UT, the duo will only continue to marinate. They'll get thrown into the pressure cooker in Norman, Oklahoma, next week against the Sooners.

Though he had a couple of late hiccups with ball security—throwing an interception on an acrobatic pick by Money Hunter and dropping a fumble that was recovered by UT—Worley shone. It's obvious he is growing in coordinator Mike Bajakian's offense.

His growth through two games from a season ago is impressive. The interception was his first in 70 attempts.

With UT's defense getting hit in the mouth with an early score, the offense took over. Worley hit his first 10 passes and took over the game.

The senior quarterback finished with 247 passing yards, the third-highest total in his career, completing 22 of 38 passes. On a highlight-reel day, though, the biggest play came when he found North for his second touchdown.

From the 14-yard line, Worley stepped into his throw to a streaking North. With a defender running alongside his target, Worley made the pass to North's back shoulder, a location where only the receiver could make a play on the ball. The huge receiver used his size to muscle into position to make the catch and got his foot down for a score.

It was a NFL-caliber play and could be a glimpse of things to come this season.

North's athleticism was on full display, but defenses will be able to show him a little extra attention if Wolf and Pearson are sidelined for some time.

Another big concern for UT is that revamped offensive line. Along with another mediocre day rushing, Worley also was often under duress.

His calmness under pressure was another reason why Worley's maturation was evident. The numbers would have been even better had the senior had more time to read through his progressions and let plays develop downfield, but that may not be a luxury the Vols get this season.

Instead, Worley meticulously took what the Red Wolves gave him, hitting nine different receivers. He led four scoring drives over 70 yards, and UT was 6-of-7 in red-zone attempts with Worley at the helm.

Still, UT has to get its offensive line situation straightened out in a hurry. At one point midway through the third quarter, Worley was hit throwing the ball and got up hobbling.

He came back into the game, but that's something UT can't have happen, especially now that it looks like the Vols are going to be finding other weapons while Wolf and Pearson recover.

Worley's calm command of the offense kept things level.

North also came down awkwardly on the sideline in the third quarter and wasn't as much of a factor afterward.

The Vols have to get several things corrected offensively, but they've also got to keep looking in North's direction. A year ago, he led the team in receiving yards as a freshman, and it's obvious he knows much more what he's doing now.

As the worries mount, Tennessee has to focus on the playmakers it does have. Running back Jalen Hurd looked capable of moving the chains, getting most of his 83 rushing yards late. Josh Smith and Josh Malone need to step up and take some pressure off Worley.

But North is the bell cow. He had one of the biggest days of his career, and though the numbers weren't gaudy, the the results were impressive.

When the Vols needed touchdowns, they went to North.

It's something that should become a trend this season. North is special, and his big-play knack is becoming more and more evident—even to former Vols who played in the NFL.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics gathered from UTSports.comBrad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter here:

@Brad_Shepard

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USC's Hayes Pullard Lights Up Barry Sanders Jr.

The Stanford Cardinal and USC Trojans are locking horns in an early and crucial Pac-12 matchup during Week 2 of the college football season, so both sides came to play with plenty of energy.

In the first quarter, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan tried to find running back Barry Sanders Jr. on a shovel pass. However, USC senior linebacker Hayes Pullard sniffed the play out perfectly, lighting up Sanders before he could complete the catch.  

[Vine]

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Oklahoma vs. Tulsa: Game Grades, Analysis for the Sooners

The result was never in doubt, as the Oklahoma Sooners dominated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane from the opening kickoff on their way to a 52-7 victory. 

Whether it was on offense or defense, Oklahoma appeared to be the far superior team. The scoreboard certainly displayed as much.

Check out the game’s final stats here and take a look at first- and second-half game grades as well as analysis below. 

 

Pass Offense

The Sooners came in wanting to assert the passing attack, throwing on eight of their first 12 plays to open the game.

Quarterback Trevor Knight had himself a solid showing, throwing for 299 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-34 passing. However, it’s his accuracy that leaves a lot to be desired—through two games, he’s only completed 58.8 percent of his passes.

As far as receivers go, Sterling Shepard had himself a career day. He set personal bests for receptions (eight) and yards (177) along with finding the end zone once.

But the story in that department has to be junior Durron Neal, who after stepping into the starting position this season showed off his potential. He finished with six receptions for 70 yards.

 

Rush Offense

The three-headed rushing attack of Oklahoma continued its strong start.

After a shaky performance in Week 1, Alex Ross led the team in rushing with 90 yards and a touchdown on five carries. However, it should be noted that 82 of those yards came on one run.

Keith Ford had himself another great day, rushing for 87 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Don’t look now, but the sophomore has found the end zone four times already this season.

Meanwhile, last week’s darling, Samaje Perine, struggled a bit. On 10 carries, the true freshman only managed 33 yards.

As a whole, the unit put up 261 yards on the ground for four touchdowns.

 

Pass Defense

Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans could just never get into a rhythm.

After throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1, the sophomore was a shell of himself on Saturday. Evans only mustered 204 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on 23-of-43 passing.

The secondary was lights out in the first half before letting up a bit in the final two quarters. However, a little of that could be due to the lopsided score and the absence of Zack Sanchez, who left the game late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

 

Rush Defense

The Golden Hurricane rush offense was practically nonexistent.

Whether it was James Flanders, D’Angelo Brewer or Zack Langer, the holes were just not there on Saturday. Tulsa finished the game with just 94 yards on 34 carries (2.8 yards per carry). 

Coming into the season, the Sooners front seven was considered its strength. On Saturday, we found out why.

 

Special Teams

An area of concern in recent years, special teams were on point on Saturday for Oklahoma.

Of nine kickoffs, the Golden Hurricane only returned four. Of those returns, only one return went for more than 20 yards—a 24-yard return from D’Angelo Brewer. The Sooners were quick and on the return men before they had any space to make something happen.

As far as the kickers, Michael Hunnicutt made the most of his only field-goal attempt, drilling it through the uprights from 38 yards out. Punter Jed Barnett had a decent afternoon, blasting six kicks for an average of 39.3 yards with just one touchback.

 

Coaching

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel put on a clinic.

His aggressive play-calling paid dividends early on. The up-tempo attack left the Tulsa defense panting and had Oklahoma putting points on the board in bunches. Not to mention, the team didn’t have a single turnover.

Defensively, Mike Stoops had his boys ready to play. The unit was all over the field, forcing the Golden Hurricane into four turnovers.

 

All stats courtesy of NCAA.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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

James Franklin and the Penn State Nittany Lions secured their second victory of the season Saturday afternoon, beating the Akron Zips 21-3 in their home opener.

The game was as sloppy as the score would indicate. Penn State turned the ball over three times and struggled through long lapses of offensive inefficiency. 

But on an afternoon when the Big Ten struggled—Nebraska was nearly upset by McNeese State, Illinois barely outlasted Western Kentucky and Purdue got bulldozed by Central Michigan—Penn State can take comfort in their 18-point victory.

Here's how the Nittany Lions graded out against the Zips.

 

 

Penn State Nittany Lions Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: Penn State's pass offense can almost be considered its only offense at this point. Christian Hackenberg showed why he's considered one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country, completing 61 percent of his passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns. Five consecutive incompletions in the first half and two costly interceptions in the red zone prevented the pass offense from grading out better, though.

Run Offense: Penn State's offensive line struggled to open lanes for a trio of decent running backs in Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch. That's certainly concerning for the Nittany Lions, who were going up against an overmatched Akron defense. Penn State found some decent success in the second half, gaining 85 of its 108 rushing yards running primarily out of the wildcat formation.

Pass Defense: It looked like it was going to be a long day for the Penn State secondary early, when Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl completed his first four passes for 56 yards. Led by outstanding cornerback Jordan Lucas, the Nittany Lions only gave up 152 passing yards after Akron's opening drive. The Zips failed to complete a single pass over 25 yards.

Run Defense: Just like the passing game, Akron had a very hard time running against Penn State's active defensive front. The Zips only gained 69 yards from 25 carries, averaging just 2.8 yards per rush. More than a third of those yards came on a pair of 13-yard runs from Jawon Chisholm and Hakeem Lawrence.

Special Teams: It was a quiet day on special teams for the Nittany Lions, which is both good and bad. Penn State's coverage units were excellent and Kicker Sam Ficken was a perfect 3-of-3 on extra point attempts. With the offense struggling, though, the Nittany Lions could have used some impact plays in the return game.

Coaching: Continuing a trend that developed against UCF last week, James Franklin and the Penn State coaching staff made some mystifying time-management decisions throughout the game. The Nittany Lions misused some timeouts early and wasted a couple throughout the game. It took Franklin a bit too long to utilize the wildcat as well, but once he did, it proved to be a nice adjustment. The coaching staff will want to tighten things up before Big Ten play kicks off in a few weeks.

 

All stats via NCAA.com.

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JW Walsh Injury: Updates on Oklahoma State QB's Status and Return

Oklahoma State might be one of the happiest teams to come away from Week 1 with a loss after going toe-to-toe with the No. 1-ranked Florida State Seminoles, but the early-season hope could very well be short lived.

Starting quarterback J.W. Walsh left the Cowboy's Week 2 game against Missouri State with an apparent leg injury and is unlikely to return to action anytime soon.

Fox23's Andrew Carter reported Walsh leaving the field with his team ahead 10-0 in the first quarter:

While John Klein of the Tulsa World reported Walsh left the game to take x-rays:

ESPN's Jake Trotter noticed Walsh emerged from the locker room using crutches, leaving his short-term status in serious doubt.

Walsh wasn't expected to light up too many teams in a tough Big 12 conference this season, but his injury jeopardizes the Cowboys' surprising start to the season.

Oklahoma State managed to push Florida State to the brink in Week 1, eventually losing by a final score of 37-31.

Walsh didn't do much damage with his arm in that game, completing 15 of 27 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown against one interception. However, it was his scrambling ability and poise under pressure that made fans sit up and take notice.

Walsh ran the ball 11 times for 51 yards and two touchdowns, providing the Cowboy offense with a much-needed jolt and keeping the Seminoles defenders off balance for long stretches of the game. 

He's a dynamic athlete, although Trotter noted in Week 1 he does limit the Cowboys offense in certain respects:

Hopefully, the team can pull out a win against Missouri State and give head coach Mike Gundy time to regroup and reassess his roster. Should they drop to 0-2, a once promising season could end up being a difficult slog the rest of the way, especially if Walsh is out for an extended period of time.

 

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Cal Bears' Kenny Lawler Leaps and Makes 1-Handed Catch in End Zone

The California Golden Bears are blowing out the Sacramento State Hornets, and Kenny Lawler is having a terrific game so far.

During the second quarter, Jared Goff found Lawler for their second touchdown connection of the game, only this time Lawler made a one-handed catch with a defender right on him.

Here's the complete play that put the Golden Bears up 28-0, as well as a GIF of the impressive throw and catch.

[Vine, ESPN.com]


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No Matter Who Plays QB, Alabama Must Get Amari Cooper the Ball Early and Often

Alabama fans probably have plenty of opinions after Saturday’s 41-0 win over Florida Atlantic—a game that was cut short due to lightning.

Blake Sims and Jake Coker both took meaningful snaps in a game for the first time this season, and each had their ups and downs. Plenty of conclusions will undoubtedly be drawn from their performances. And both will probably get another crack at it next week when Alabama hosts Southern Miss.

But there’s one aspect of the offense that is pretty crystal clear at this point, with no room for debate: Amari Cooper is a good wide receiver. Keep getting him the ball.

Cooper caught 13 passes for 189 yards and a score on Saturday, propelling the Crimson Tide to a big win against the overmatched Owls. His 13 catches tied an Alabama school record set by D.J. Hall against Tennessee in 2007.

Cooper has been a major factor in both of Alabama’s games in this young 2014 season. New offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has clearly put an emphasis on getting the ball to Cooper for multiple reasons.

His plan to get Cooper involved has helped out the new quarterbacks immensely.

Cooper has been the go-to wide receiver for both Sims and Coker early on. Kiffin has set up the quarterbacks with quick screens and slants his way, throws that can help a young quarterback get into a rhythm early in a game.

Almost 75 percent of Cooper’s yards Saturday came on screens, swing passes or slants. The first play against West Virginia was a screen to Cooper. On Saturday's opening drive, Cooper came in motion on a reverse that he ran for 20 yards.

Cooper described his mentality when he catches a screen pass last week.

“When you get the ball, as soon as you catch it, you want to run full speed and react off of instinct,” he said. “You don't want to look for any defenders like that. That's what I try to do.”

He did plenty of that on Saturday. FAU defenders frequently gave Alabama’s receivers six- or eight-yard cushions, and the Crimson Tide took advantage. All Cooper had to do was make a man miss—which he did several times—and he was off to the races.

His presence gives this offense a workhorse to go through, an asset that has been vital with a new signal-caller under center.

Even following an up-and-down 2013, during which he had play through a foot injury, Cooper still brought along a lot of hype into this season. He lit up defenses his freshman year to the tune of 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. But last season, the nagging foot injury slowed him down for much of the season. Cooper finished strong with 100-plus-yard performances in Alabama’s last two games of the season.

There will be no doubting this year, though, whether Cooper is one of the elite receivers in college football. He’s touched the ball 26 times already this season for 339 yards. That pace doesn’t figure to be slowing up any time soon as Alabama continues to work Sims and Coker into its offense.

There's no debating that the game plan of utilizing Cooper as much as possible sets up Alabama for plenty of success on offense.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Despite Early Struggles, Penn State Will Be a Force in Big Ten Conference Play

It hasn’t been pretty. Anything but, in fact.

They needed a field goal on the game’s final play to defeat Central Florida. And Saturday’s home opener against Akron was marked by sluggishness and turnovers in a 21-3 victory.

But make no mistake: Penn State will make waves in the Big Ten this fall. 

Due to the ongoing sanctions associated with the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Nittany Lions are not eligible for postseason play. But James Franklin’s bunch has enough talent to make life miserable for the league’s deeper, more experienced teams and win a game or two that it wasn’t expected to entering 2014.

On Saturday, sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg followed up his program single-game passing record against Central Florida by going 22-for-36 with 319 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions. It was his sixth career game with 300-plus yards, tying a Penn State career record.

Hackenberg must improve his decision-making: a fourth-quarter red-zone interception thrown off his back foot drew the ire of ESPN color analyst Ed Cunningham.

“You can’t make that throw,” Cunningham said on the ESPN2 telecast. “Not in the fourth quarter. Not when you’re up 11.”

But his arm strength and mobility are impressive, and he has a pair of talented receiving targets in sophomore Geno Lewis and redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton.

Against Central Florida, the pair combined for 338 yards receiving. According to Mark Wogenrich of The Morning Call they became the first pair of Penn State receivers to finish a game with more than 150 yards receiving apiece.

They had solid follow-ups Saturday: Lewis had six catches for 98 yards, while Hamilton had seven receptions for 69 yards as Penn State pulled away late from an improving Terry Bowden-coached Akron team. In addition, junior tight end Jesse James had 57 yards and two touchdowns. 

An improving Nittany Lion defense held the Zips to three points while forcing a pair of turnovers. While the Lions’ linebacker corps has some questions outside of senior Mike Hull (who had 11 tackles and a sack Saturday) and sophomore Nyeem Wartman, the defensive line and secondary are improving.

With Rutgers, UMass and Northwestern on the schedule next, the Lions could easily be 5-0 entering an Oct. 11 visit to Michigan.

The Lions will avoid Big Ten West contenders like Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin and will also host Ohio State (on Oct. 25) and Michigan State (in the Nov. 29 regular-season finale).

With Ohio State starting freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, Happy Valley should be very hostile. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Lions’ defense give Barrett and the Buckeyes a major challenge.

And after taking Vanderbilt to three consecutive nine-win seasons, Franklin has proven his mettle in difficult situations.

Penn State can’t go to a bowl this season. But that doesn’t mean you won’t hear from the Nittany Lions this fall.

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Sam Houston State vs. LSU: Live Score and Highlights

After an emotional win against Wisconsin last week, LSU opens its home schedule Saturday night when it faces Sam Houston State. The game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET and will air live on the SEC Network.

The Tigers currently have the nation's longest regular-season nonconference winning streak at 46. They are also playing in an expanded Tiger Stadium that now holds 102,321 fans.

Sam Houston State comes in the game as the No. 13 team in the FCS. The Bearkats are coming off a 51-20 win against Alabama State last week.

Be sure to come back to this live blog as soon as the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates and highlights.

 

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Arkansas State Players Have Terrific Unintentional Jersey Name Combination

The Arkansas State Red Wolves were lining up on offense against the Tennessee Volunteers when two of their players were standing side-by-side and gave us this terrific jersey-name combination.

The two players are Jemar Clark and Darion Griswold, and together their last names are "Clark Griswold," the main character from "National Lampoon's Vacation."

[Twitter]

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Jake Coker's Upside Is Obvious in Week 2, but He Is Still Not Ready

Jake Coker will be Alabama's starting quarterback. It's just a matter of "when."

The much-discussed transfer from Florida State finally got meaningful snaps in Alabama's 41-0 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa.

Splitting time with starter Blake Sims, Coker completed 15 of 24 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Sims, a senior who is familiar with what head coach Nick Saban wants to do, completed 11 of 13 passes for 214 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

Is it fair to compare statistics between the two signal-callers?

Not at all.

Measuring how each grasps the game is more important.

Alabama's coaches know that Sims can manage a game successfully, and most of his completions were short passes where the receivers broke free for yards after the catch.

It was clear from Coker's appearance and, more importantly, the game offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin called for him, that the staff wants to find out what Coker can do that Sims can't, specifically consistently stretch the field. 

The verdict?

The jury is still out. 

Coker overthrew a couple of deep passes early and forced some throws into double coverage, but then tossed a touchdown pass to fullback Jalston Fowler and threaded the needle through two defenders to tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith down near the goal line that went off of Flournoy-Smith's fingertips as the rain began to come down.

ESPN.com insider Travis Haney puts into perspective Coker's performance against the Owls.

You can def see arm strength/command of huddle for Coker, but also obvious he's pressing at times. Trying to hit tiny windows, overthrowing.

— Travis Haney (@TravHaneyESPN) September 6, 2014

It's clear that Coker has the potential and is Alabama's quarterback of the future, but the future isn't now. This is Sims' job because he is smart with the football and delivers the ball on time and on target. He also has the added benefit of athleticism not only to be a threat as a runner, but to create time behind the line of scrimmage while keeping his eyes downfield.

Sims is a winner. He did it last week against West Virginia and did it again on Saturday afternoon. If Alabama plays defense like it did against the Owls, that may be enough for the Crimson Tide to remain a contender for the College Football Playoff.

If, however, Coker can prove to the staff that he can do the same while also providing the deep threat that Sims lacks, he's going to be the guy.

When will that be?

Saban was reluctant to name a starter after the game.

It could be next week against Southern Miss, or it could be next year after Sims graduates.

Coker has the potential but just has to click. With Sims moving the offense and Coker still struggling with inconsistencies, the latter's time isn't now.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report and 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 @BarrettSallee

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McNeese State vs. Nebraska: Score and Twitter Reaction

Nebraska avoided what could have been one of the biggest upsets of the 2014 college football season, surviving a 31-24 battle against McNeese State.

Ameer Abdullah made the big play for the No. 19 team in the country, totaling 150 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns, including the game-winning 58-yard catch-and-run with 20 seconds remaining.

Tommy Armstrong also had a big game with 242 passing yards and 131 rushing yards, but Nebraska was not able to pull away from the No. 6 team in the FCS rankings.

As ESPN Stats and Info noted, this game was not supposed to even be close:

Darren Rovell of ESPN compared the financial difference for the two programs:

Despite this advantage added to a massive home crowd, McNeese State hung around.

Derrick Milton got the Cowboys on the board first with a nine-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Cornhuskers scored 14 unanswered points and looked ready for more in the red zone, but a huge play by the McNeese State defense tied it up, as described by Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

Nebraska pulled ahead 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but the visiting team did not give up. McNeese State cut the lead to three when Tyler Bolfing turned a quarterback sneak into a one-yard touchdown with 13:45 remaining. 

CBS Sports then pointed out McNeese State had a chance to take the lead:

However, the Huskers held the underdogs to just a field goal, keeping it 24-24 with time running out. After the two sides traded punts, Nebraska turned to Abdullah with the game on the line. He ended up coming through with a 58-yard touchdown reception that could go down as one of the best plays of the year.

Everyone seemed to be impressed with the individual effort on the play:

This gave the home team the lead with 20 seconds left, and the defense took care of the rest to hold on for the narrow win.

While Nebraska is likely not thrilled with the close score, improving to 2-0 on the season was the most important thing.

On the other hand, there is no shame for McNeese State in this loss. The Cowboys fought hard and will clearly become one of the top teams in the nation at the FCS level this season.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Watch Tennessee's Josh Smith Hurdle Defender for Big Gain

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Watch the video to see the sophomore wideout embarrass Arkansas State defensive back Rocky Hayes.

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Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah Scores Game-Winning 58-Yard TD vs. McNeese State

Senior running back Ameer Abdullah has been a huge part of the Nebraska Cornhuskers offense over the years, so it's only appropriate that he stepped up for his team on Saturday when needed most.

With his team tied against McNeese State late in the fourth quarter, Abdullah danced, juked and swerved his way to a 58-yard game-winning touchdown. Here's the entire play that ended in the huge score.

Will Brinson from CBS Sports tweeted a picture to show just how close Abdullah was to going down.

[Vine, Twitter]

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Watch Blake Sims Break Two Defenders' Ankles on This Sick Run

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Is Sims the real deal? Watch the video and let us know!

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