NCAA Football

Florida Atlantic vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

Alabama 31, Florida Atlantic 0—Early 3rd Quarter

The Alabama Crimson Tide were somewhat less than impressive in their Week 1 meeting with West Virginia.  Consequently, Alabama dropped in the B/R Top 25 Poll from preseason No. 3 to No. 7 this week.

How well will the Tide recover today against FAU?

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Akron vs. Penn State: Live Score and Highlights

Penn State 7, Akron 0 — Early 3rd quarter

Game action is now underway between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Akron Zips. ABC and ESPN2 is televising the matchup from State College, Pennsylvania.

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

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College Football Rankings 2014: Last-Minute Look at Week 2 Polls

Catch the Week 2 college football polls while you still can.

With games like Michigan State at Oregon, USC at Stanford and Virginia Tech at Ohio State on tap, there are sure to be plenty of significant changes in the polls between now and Week 3. With that in mind, here is a look at the Week 2 polls before the games officially kick off.

 

Most Important Week 2 Game for the Polls: Michigan State at Oregon

There is a lot at stake in the showdown between Michigan State and Oregon.

The winner will get a coveted, marquee nonconference victory in the first season of the College Football Playoff when strength of schedule is likely to be very important to the selection committee. 

Plus, there is the general assumption that the SEC is the best league, so every other conference is trying to pick up head-turning victories to improve their reputation. Along those fronts, Michigan State already beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl last season, so there is an opportunity for the Spartans to be a real thorn in the Pac-12’s side.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News discussed the significance of this game from the conference angle:

The matchup is loaded with significance for both participants and both conferences.

The winning team has a star on its resume to show the playoff selection committee, while the loser likely enters run-the-table mode. The losing conference could have trouble in the committee room, as well.

Officially, there are four playoff berths. Realistically, two are already taken — by the SEC champ and Florida State.

In the only Pac-12/Big Ten matchup of elite teams this season … and given the significance of head-to-head results … the losing conference could be left behind in the playoff race.

Michigan State’s offense should be strong this season with the return of Connor Cook at quarterback and Jeremy Langford at running back. What’s more, the Spartans have plenty of experience in raucous atmospheres, as head coach Mark Dantonio suggested, via Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press:

“We don’t really worry about that. We’ve played big games and won in every stadium in this conference. ... I’m more concerned about getting the job done. I don’t think we’re gonna go in there and be intimidated.”

Still, defense is the king for Michigan State, thanks to the pedigrees of Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, but it is breaking in seven new defensive starters. Oregon’s fast-tempo offense is not exactly the ideal opponent to face early in the season with a young and inexperienced defense leading the way.

The thought here is that Michigan State eventually bounces back from a loss to challenge for a postseason spot with Cook and Langford on offense and the young defense developing over the course of the year under Narduzzi. It also helps that showdowns against Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska are all at home.

That strong finish for the Spartans would be critical for Oregon as well because its victory would look more impressive.

It would be easy to get a bit macro with this and point out that the Ducks have lost to physically imposing defenses like Stanford, LSU, Ohio State and others over the past few years. However, Marcus Mariota’s presence alone will be enough to win this contest against the physical Spartans.

Mariota may just be the Heisman front-runner for the time being after Jameis Winston threw multiple interceptions in the season opener and can beat defenses with his arm and legs. He will find any weaknesses on the Michigan State side and exploit them constantly.

The Oregon up-tempo attack is about more than just Mariota, though.

Royce Freeman rushed for two touchdowns in the opener, but it was Byron Marshall who put on a show. Marshall averaged 11.3 yards a carry on his 90 rushing yards and exploded in the passing game for 138 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Oregon had 11 people with a reception, so look for Mariota to spread the ball around yet again. It will be enough to beat a Michigan State squad that will be much better in November than it is now. 

Prediction: Oregon 31, Michigan State 20

 

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NCAA Football Playoff 2014: Exploring Championship Implications of Week 2 Games

Just one week into the college season, the College Football Playoff landscape already has an entirely different look.

Sure, programs like Florida State and Alabama are still at the top, but both struggled in Week 1. Each team remains a favorite to reach the postseason at the end, but have question marks moving forward.

As for early talks about South Carolina and UCLA potentially contending for a spot, both dropped off after disappointing performances. The Gamecocks were blown out by Texas A&M, 52-28, while Brett Hundley and the Bruins was underwhelming against lowly Virginia.

Then there were teams that blossomed into contenders such as Georgia and Texas A&M. The aforementioned blowout of the Gamecocks helped the Aggies while the Bulldogs rolled over Clemson in prime time.

With the full slate of Week 2 games set to being on Saturday afternoon, here's a look at the standings and a breakdown of the games with championship implications.

 

Breakdown of Week 2 Championship Implications

Following a surprising Week 1 that saw several contenders rise and fall, the second weekend promises to be equally as enthralling.

The Seminoles and Crimson Tide have cupcakes on the schedule, so both will likely remain at the top of the rankings. But when it comes to huge matchups, it doesn't get any bigger than Michigan State vs. Oregon.

Michigan State go on the road to test its dominant defense against a high-powered offense. As for the Spartans' starting quarterback, Connor Cook believes he'll be ready to go, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:

While much of the focus will be on Marcus Mariota—for good reason—it will be Cook that has more to prove coming in. The Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl MVP in 2013, Cook is 14-1 as Sparty's signal-caller during his career.

Both programs come in with aspirations of making the College Football Playoff, but the Ducks are currently ranked higher. Going into the matchup, Oregon has the higher percentage chance to win, per ESPN College Football:

Apart from the huge Big Ten-Pac-12 showdown, another matchup on the West Coast might have championship implications.

Currently, USC and Stanford are neither inside the top five and near contention for the playoff. But with the Cardinal cracking the top 10 in the Amway poll, they are clearly creating buzz with their play.

Heading into the huge conference clash, Stanford clearly holds the upper hand in the last several seasons, as ESPN notes:

With both teams hoping to make noise this season, this is a crucial matchup. And after early controversy for Steve Sarkisian and the USC program, a win over Stanford would help turn the corner.

The likes of Kenny Trill and other Heisman contenders will make their cases against lesser opponents, but the real competition will be in Oregon and California. As the West Coast prepares for all eyes to be firmly focused on it, all four teams in those matchups have hopes for a playoff appearance.

 

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College Football Playoff 2014: Final Outlook Before Saturday's Week 2 Games

The college football playoff system is the best thing to happen to the game in a while. The closer we get to the end of the season, the more apparent that will be.

After just one week, not much has materialized.

Despite a close call against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the defending national champion Florida St. Seminoles are still considered the top team in the land. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston helped will his team to a 37-31 win in Week 1.

Winston had 370 yards passing and one spectacular run, but he did throw two interceptions.

The No. 2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide had to hold off a determined West Virginia team 33-23. The No. 3 Oregon Ducks and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners had much easier matchups against the South Dakota Coyotes and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, respectively.

With all four teams winning, it's hard to suggest any of them lost or gained ground. However, that could certainly happen in Week 2. 

 

Top Four Team With Best Chance to Make a Statement: No. 3 Oregon

In the unquestioned game of the week, Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota and the Ducks will host the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans.

The Spartans defense was downright nasty in 2013, but it did lose seven key defensive players from last year's team—including Denicos Allen and Darqueze Dennard.

Last week, the Spartans beat Jacksonville State 45-7, but they did allow 254 yards of total offense. It's safe to say the Ducks' attack will be a little more formidable.

Based on this and the fact that the Ducks haven't lost a non-conference game at Autzen Stadium since 2008, you have to like their chances at home. If the Ducks win, a victory over a Top 10 team would have to at least make some of the voters from the playoff committee think about putting them ahead of Alabama.

 

Team Outside of Top Four With Chance to Make a Move: No. 7 Michigan State

The game of the week is a double-edged sword. If the Spartans can go into Oregon and win, it would make an even bigger statement than a Ducks victory.

There are real questions as to whether the Spartans defense is as good as it was last season after losing so many key players. If the team can rally behind junior quarterback Connor Cook and find a way to slow the Ducks offense down, it may have a chance to pull a pretty big upset while making a quantum leap up the rankings.

 

Easiest Week 2 Matchup: No. 1 Florida State vs. Citadel

The Seminoles will be happy to see The Citadel Bulldogs coming after last week. I'm sure the Bulldogs will give it their all, but don't expect to see Winston and many of the starters past halftime.

The Southern Conference squad was 5-7 last season. The Clemson Tigers were the only ranked team it played, and the Bulldogs lost that game 52-6.

Last week, they lost to Coastal Carolina 31-16. It's going to be a long day for those kids on Saturday.

 

All stats per CFBStats.com

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College Football Rankings 2014: Final Overview of Week 2 Standings

Preseason college football rankings are always to be taken with a grain of salt, and that is never more apparent than the moment that Week 2 standings are released.

All it takes is one game for certain top-10 schools to prove that the hype might be unwarranted. Meanwhile, an upset victory for a team near the end of the Top 25 can propel them all the way near the front of the rankings.

I'm looking at you, South Carolina and Texas A&M. 

Although the Top 25 in Week 2 looks significantly different from how things will stand at the end of the season, it's still a much more accurate measuring point after seeing—almost—all of college football's best teams play their opening 60 minutes.

But with top-10 matchups on the slate for the weekend, we're only a few days away from another big shakeup.

Here's a final look at the Top 25 as Week 2 gets ready to unfold.

 

Associated Press poll found at AP.org, USA Today coaches' poll found at USAToday.com.

 

Top 25 Overview

It didn't involve No. 1 falling, but Week 1 showed just how vulnerable the top dogs are in college football entering the season.

Few expected anything other than another Florida State blowout when Jameis Winston's crew took to the AT&T Stadium field to face an unranked Oklahoma State team. Instead, last year's Heisman Trophy winner got all he could handle as he threw more interceptions than touchdowns in a close 37-31 victory.

Not as noticeable as Winston's struggles but even more alarming were the defensive lapses. The Seminoles gave up 364 total yards, and they conceded more points than they did throughout a portion of last season as ESPN Stats and Information noted:

Florida State wasn't the only powerhouse to struggle to an opening win. Alabama faced an early deficit to West Virginia and struggled on defense, before pulling out a 33-23 win that was closer than expected.

Of course, neither of the close wins did anything to deter Florida State and Alabama's status as the top two teams in the rankings. But don't think for a second that the reset of college football didn't notice their vulnerability.

Elsewhere, many less proven teams made huge statements in Week 1. Most notably were two SEC heavyweights—Georgia and Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs started the season off with a marquee matchup against Clemson, and a tight affair at halftime was blown open thanks to Todd Gurley's massive day—15 carries, 198 yards and four total touchdowns, including a kickoff return to the house.

From a team lurking outside of the top 10 entering the season, that performance wasn't too shocking. The Aggies' domination of South Carolina, however, was just that as freshman Kenny Hill dazzled with more than 500 yards of offense. 

Both were rewarded in Week 2 with huge boosts in the rankings, but with Georgia facing South Carolina this upcoming weekend, don't be surprised if things get shaken up again.

The movement was far and wide across the Top 25, including Louisville sneaking in after dominating Miami. CampusInsiders.com's Russ Mitchell added more schools to keep an eye on as potential sleepers:

Week 2 guarantees more movement across the board. ESPN's College GameDay will be at a game with College Football Playoff implications as No. 3 Oregon hosts No. 7 Michigan State, USC battles Stanford and Notre Dame hosts Michigan.

Most of the top schools can ease into the season with easy matchups on Week 1, but Week 2 begins the true season for those who start with a cupcake team.

There will be few strolls in the park for the nation's marquee teams from here on out. 

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College Football Picks Week 2: Final Predictions on Odds for Top 25 Matchups

After one week of the 2014 college football season, the AP Top 25 Poll was shaken up in a big way thanks to some unexpected performances—both good and bad—from the nation's top squads. With some highly contested matchups in store on Saturday, we're left asking one question: Which teams will survive Week 2?

Vegas oddsmakers have already been hard at work deciphering which teams deserve to be favorites and which should be underdogs in Week 2. Odds have been established, and point spreads have shifted due to early betting—now it's time for some final predictions.

Based on what we saw from the nation's Top 25 teams in Week 1, let's project how they'll fare—both against their opponents and against the spread—on Saturday.

Game odds courtesy of OddsShark.com.

 

Notable Matchups

(3) Oregon vs. (7) Michigan State

We only had to wait until Week 2 to witness a clash of heavyweights. These two teams are built in complete opposite fashions, and that's what makes this contest so compelling.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is absolutely part of the early Heisman Trophy discussion. A dual-threat signal-caller, Mariota has the ability to torch defenses with his arm and his legs. In the team's 62-13 Week 1 victory over South Dakota, Mariota completed 14 of his 20 passing attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns while rushing six times for 43 yards and another score.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports tweeted exactly how fast and athletic Mariota really is:

What makes Mariota even more dangerous is Oregon's high-octane offense full of speedy playmakers. Byron Marshall is predominantly a running back with good hands; however, the team experimented with him in the slot in Week 1. It was a huge success. Marshall accumulated 228 yards from scrimmage and two scores on a mix of eight carries and eight receptions.

On the flip side, Michigan State owns one of the most feared defenses in the nation. In Week 1, the Spartans held Jacksonville State to just seven points and a total of 244 yards of offense.

The Gamecocks put three different quarterbacks in the game, and only Max Shortell produced any kind of offense, completing 10 of 18 attempts for 117 yards and a score. The other two signal-callers were intercepted a combined three times.

On the ground, Jacksonville State didn't fare any better. The team rushed 25 times for 22 yards—that's an average of 0.9 yards per carry.

Here's a telling stat from ESPN College Football regarding Michigan State's fierce run defense:

A matchup between one of the nation's most prolific offenses and one of the most stout defenses is just around the corner. This leads us to one question: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

 

(13) Stanford vs. (14) USC

Stanford didn't have much of a contest in Week 1 against UC Davis, and while the team won in decisive fashion by a score of 45-0, it didn't go as swimmingly as it probably should have.

Kevin Hogan had his moments under center, but against an average Aggies defense, he had a nice chance to shine. Instead, he completed 12 of his 16 attempts for 204 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Not bad numbers by any stretch, but not great.

While Hogan didn't light up the scoreboard, he's fared nicely against top teams, via ESPN College Football:

As for the Cardinal running game, the loss of Tyler Gaffney was a big one. It appears as though the team is replacing the workhorse with a committee approach featuring Barry Sanders and Kelsey Young. Both backs were solid but couldn't find enough room to break a run longer than 17 yards.

USC had a bit more of a challenge in Week 1 against Fresno State. The offense didn't seem to miss a beat, and quarterback Cody Kessler really looked the part. The junior completed 25 of 37 attempts for 394 yards and four touchdowns without throwing a pick. He also added a one-yard touchdown scamper on the ground.

According to Eye on College Football, Kessler is on track to play again Saturday after an injury scare in Week 1:

The quarterback isn't at a loss for weapons, either. Javorius Allen looked to be every bit the part of a workhorse running back, carrying 22 times for 133 yards and a score. JuJu Smith torched Fresno State's secondary for 123 yards on four receptions. Nelson Agholor proved to be a solid red-zone target, reeling in five receptions for 57 yards and two touchdowns.

Needless to say, the Trojans are boasting a very well-rounded offense.

However, USC did allow 157 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries to Fresno State, which could prove to be the team's Achilles' heel. If Stanford is to earn the win, getting its running game going should be priority No. 1.

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College Football Week 2: Previews and Predictions for the Top 5 Games

There was excitement in Week 1 of the 2014 college football season, but Week 2 will be even better. 

The game of the week, as well as the best nonconference game of the 2014 season, will be between Top 10 teams Michigan State and Oregon. Both programs will battle it out in the Pacific Northwest to stay in the running for a spot in the College Football Playoff.  

While much of the focus will be on the Ducks and Sparty, Michigan and Notre Dame will play their final game against each other for the foreseeable future. The Wolverines need a big road win to gain momentum after a rough 2013 campaign. 

The other two games in the national spotlight will be USC at Stanford, as well as Virginia Tech at Ohio State. Steve Sarkisian and his Trojans will try to make it two straight against the Cardinal, while the Hokies look to earn a win over a ranked nonconference opponent for the first time since 2009.

With a lot of anticipation heading into Week 2, here are the top five games to watch Saturday.    

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Butch Jones Must Find Senior Leadership on Young Tennessee Volunteers Team

After Tennessee cruised past the Utah State Aggies Sunday evening, fans and media pundits alike raised their expectations for the Volunteers' 2014 season.

And while the team certainly looks improved over last season—particularly on defense—it's up to second-year head coach Butch Jones to find a solid group of veteran leaders who can keep the team focused, particularly once they hit the meat of one of the toughest schedules in college football.

 

Looking Ahead at Tennessee's SEC East Schedule

It's still too early to determine if Tennessee is one of the most improved teams in the SEC or if Utah State simply regressed since posting a 9-5 record in 2013. Regardless, the Vols' blowout win against the Aggies was one of the most impressive Week 1 performances in the SEC East. 

South Carolina and Missouri looked vulnerable in their debuts, while hapless Vanderbilt may be headed back toward the dark ages under first-year head coach Derek Mason. 

Although Florida has yet to play and Georgia may have one of the strongest offenses in the conference, the 2014 season still presents the Vols with their best chance to finish in the top half of the SEC East since 2009. 

Leading the charge for Jones and Tennessee are two key senior players: Justin Worley and A.J. Johnson.

 

Worley's Leadership Under Center

Although he may not have the arm strength and natural talent of Tyler Bray, there's a good chance Justin Worley will leave Tennessee with a greater legacy than his predecessor at quarterback. 

Looking back at the 2013 season, Worley leading the Vols to a last-second win over No. 11 South Carolina may have been the biggest SEC upset of the year. 

Much of that win was due to Worley playing the best football of his career against the Gamecocks. 

However, his excellent performance against Utah State—27-of-38 for 273 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions—shows that he still hasn't peaked as a quarterback. 

One of Worley's biggest assets is his overall command of the offense. ESPN.com's Chris Low reports that Worley's teammates, including senior tailback Marlin Lane, have great confidence in his ability to call the right plays and keep everyone on the same page:

We have a new offensive line, other new players, but he did a great job of communicating and getting everything going. I love Justin.

 

A.J. Johnson: Tennessee's Best Overall Player

With a career stat sheet as loaded as A.J. Johnson's, it's hard to pick any glaring deficiencies in his game—although lack of speed in pursuit is his biggest drawback. Or maybe the right word is "was."

If Sunday night's game is any indication, Johnson shaved a few milliseconds off his 40-yard dash time during the offseason, as he seemed to be everywhere on defense and special teams for the Vols.

Not only did he have nine tackles and an interception on defense, but he also helped strip the ball from Utah State's kickoff return man, setting Tennessee up for a quick touchdown to take a two-score lead.

Placing Johnson on special teams when he's such a valuable player on Tennessee's defense may seem risky, but Jones told Lauren Moore of The Leaf-Chronicle that Johnson was ready for the opportunity: 

We need to improve our kickoff coverage from last year, and Johnson has a great sense of getting to the ball. We thought with the youth and inexperience on this football team that he needed to be on that football team and he wanted to do it.

Johnson's decision to return to Tennessee was pivotal for the team's chances of making the postseason in 2014. With so many young faces on defense, his leadership, aggressive play and knowledge of defensive coordinator John Jancek's playbook will be invaluable for his inexperienced teammates taking the field beside him. 

 

Other Seniors Must Step Up

While Worley and Johnson are certainly the leaders of the Vols' offense and defense, the other seniors on the team, rare as they may be, also must become vocal presences on the field and in the locker room.

Lane struggled running the ball against the Aggies during Week 1, and he needs to quickly find his groove as the season continues to give freshman Jalen Hurd time to adjust to playing in the SEC.

Fellow senior Jordan Williams may be on the verge of a breakout senior season as a defensive lineman, and his 4th-and-1 stop against the Aggies helped establish Tennessee's defensive dominance for four quarters.

The Vols' 2014 class may be the largest stockpile of talent on the roster, but it's up to Jones and a handful of seniors he inherited to push Tennessee toward another big upset win on their way to a bowl berth.

If they can pull it off this season and prove to the nation and potential recruits that the Vols are on the rise, Jones' rebuilding project in Knoxville may finish ahead of schedule. 

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Nevada Linebacker Brock Hekking Has the Best Mullet in College Football

Nevada defensive end Brock Hekking has the best hair in College Football, and it's not even close. 

He went full '80s with his headband during pregame warmups Friday. It's undeniable, Hekking is business up front and party in the back.  

Even Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton bows down to the mullet: 

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee put it best: Brock Hekking is a winner at life. 

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Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Missouri State Bears: Complete Game Preview

In their game against the Florida State Seminoles, the Oklahoma State Cowboys played better than anyone could've expected them to against the defending national champions. Though the Pokes lost 37-31, they showed the nation that, even in a rebuilding year, this is a program that plans to win a lot of football games.

Now, the Pokes get to go back home to Stillwater and play a Missouri State Bears team that looks very overmatched after what we saw from the Cowboys last weekend.

However, could everyone be overlooking the Bears, just like they did Oklahoma State last week? Does Missouri State have a chance at a shocking upset? Read on to find out.

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Matthew Thomas Suspended: Latest Updates on FSU LB's Status and Return

Florida State redshirt freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas has reportedly been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

Warchant.com reported the news:

According to Warchant.com, reasoning for the suspension has not been disclosed but it's only expected to keep him out for about half of the season. The report specifically mentions October 18—the day that the Seminoles host Notre Dame—as the date he could return by.

The rumblings on Thomas have been conflicting. He has missed practice since August 16, with coaches stating an ankle injury to media while others, including WJXL's Rick Ballou, hinted on Twitter about concern of a NCAA investigation as the reason why Thomas was being held out.

As the eighth-ranked player in his national recruiting class and a five-star prospect per 247 Sports composite rankings, Thomas figured to play a big role in the Seminoles' offense in 2013 before only playing just three games with a nagging shoulder injury. He ended up redshirting last season, but was a full go coming into this season.

It's not an ideal time for Jimbo Fisher's crew to go down another linebacker. Delvin Purifoy and Kain Daub are already both out an extended amount of time, and the Seminoles host No. 23 Clemson on Sept. 20. The defensive unit will want to improve as a whole after allowing 31 points and 364 total yards to Oklahoma State in Week 1. 

 

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8 Pairs of College Football Recruits Who Could Dominate Together in College

College football brings together elite athletes from across the country, creating lifelong friendships and prolific teammates. The 2015 recruiting class features plenty of potential dynamic duos who could partner up for years to come and alter the fortunes of their team.

Whether it's a quarterback and receiver routinely torching opposing backfields or bookend defensive linemen wreaking havoc, there are several intriguing possible pairings in this cycle. Some of them already appear to be in place with both players committed, while others remain a work in progress and require crucial decisions before national signing day.

We explored possible prospect matchups that could excel at the next level. Program fanbases should be tantalized by the realistic chances of these future tandems coming to fruition.

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Maryland Terrapins Transform Mascot into Muscle-Bound Monster in New Team Video

Call NATO, scramble the Blue Angels and get the Justice League on the horn.

Actually, don’t call NATO. It's next to worthless in a rush, and we need decisive, scorched earth action if we’re going to bring down the monster the University of Maryland just unleashed on the world.

The Terrapins posted their new, team intro video to Facebook on Friday, pumping up fans with football highlights, eye-pummeling uniforms and an AC/DC soundtrack.

It’s your run-of-the-mill, college football hype video—except for the overly vascular reptile smashing stones and leering deeply into your soul.

That’s Testudo—the Terrapins’ trusty mascot—who appears to have dedicated himself to a heavy schedule of weightlifting and turtle-enhancing drugs since last fall.


Testudo is no longer messing around. He might not even be a mascot anymore, as he looks primed to climb out of the briny deep and destroy a seaside village.

Just so we're clear, this is what Testudo looked like in 2013:

Now the turtle has teeth. We are all dead.

You can’t protect your house against a bipedal turtle with fangs and moisture-wicking technology. It’s just not possible.

Big Ten beware. The Terrapins are now Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a decidedly malevolent bend.

 

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Alabama Football: Why Tide Don't Need Former Clemson QB Chad Kelly

The Alabama Crimson Tide may have somewhat of a quarterback dilemma.

No, we’re not talking about the up-and-down play of current starter Blake Sims in Week 1. Instead, it’s the prospect of a current JUCO quarterback coming to town, per his Twitter (H/t College Football Talk), which has since been deleted:

If you recall, Chad Kelly was a 4-star recruit out of Buffalo, New York, and was listed as the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the nation. After backing up Tajh Boyd at Clemson, the 6'3", 205-pounder is currently putting up video game numbers at top-ranked JUCO school East Mississippi.

Since the Tweet has since been deleted, one has to wonder whether he will still be making the trip. But regardless, no matter how talented Kelly may be, there really is no need for him at Tuscaloosa.

 

Unnecessary Distraction

There was absolutely no reason for Kelly not to be a serious contender to start for Clemson this season.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go his way during the spring. But instead of working through the issues, Kelly chose to lash out at the coaching staff. That includes an incident where he had to be escorted off the field by Clemson police.

It didn’t take long for head coach Dabo Swinney to declare enough was enough, as he soon after announced Kelly’s dismissal from the team, via a released statement:

I have dismissed Chad Kelly for conduct detrimental to our program. He has had a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program. I hope he will mature and grow from this and become the man and player I know he can be. I wish him nothing but the best in the future academically and athletically.

Nick Saban runs a pretty tight ship at Alabama. 

Kelly had an issue sitting on the bench during a spring game. Do you think his attitude will be any better when he’s sitting on the sidelines for a year or more?

It’s a distraction the team doesn’t need.

 

Too Crowded at the Top

The Tide could field a baseball team with the quarterbacks on their depth chart.

Well, not really. But saying the team has plenty of options under center is an understatement

While Sims would be gone if Kelly were to arrive in 2015, Jacob Coker looks like a safe bet to be the front-runner for the job next season. A 3-star recruit out of Mobile, Alabama, Coker backed up Jameis Winston at Florida State last season. He has shown potential thus far in spring practices, per NFL.com's Mike Huguenin

Then of course you need to consider Alabama’s crop of young guns at the position.

From the 2013 class, there’s hope that 4-star Cooper Bateman and 3-star Alec Morris can develop into talented quarterbacks. After redshirting in 2013, Bateman will only be a sophomore come next season.

David Cornwell is the only quarterback from the 2014 class. A 4-star prospect out of Norman, Oklahoma, the 6'5", 241-pounder was ranked as the No. 4 quarterback in the country. 

Finally, there’s 5-star commit Blake Barnett from the 2015 class. The No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country—and No. 17-ranked prospect—Barnett should make a strong push for playing time. He was also named the Elite 11 MBP:

There’s just too much talent already on the Tide to bring on Kelly.

 

All recruiting information and rankings used in this article are courtesy of 247Sports.

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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Wisconsin Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

During Week 1, the Wisconsin football team held a 24-7 lead early in the third quarter.  From that point, the Badgers totally fell apart, going on to lose 28-24 after untimely injuries coupled with hyper-conservative turned hyper-aggressive play-calling led to their demise.

With a brand-new quarterback, new receivers on the outside and a pair of new tight ends, the Badgers passing offense sputtered badly.  Technically, Melvin Gordon wasn't a starter last season, but he played as much as anyone and thus wasn't included in this.  Furthermore, both Dan Voltz and Dallas Lewallen started numerous games last season and weren't included in here either.

On defense, the Badgers looked really good for the first 35 or so minutes, save one first-half blown coverage, which led to an 80-yard pass.  The Badgers are breaking in a brand-new front seven to go with a new free safety in true freshman Lubern Figaro.

On special teams, the Badgers trotted out a true freshman kicker, who may have been the most impressive player on the field for either team—or at least his dance moves were.

Let's take a look at all 14 new starters for the Badgers with grades on their performance against LSU and a breakdown of how they've played so far this season.

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Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Wolverines Run Game Key to Victory over Fighting Irish

The Michigan Wolverines put on an offensive demo against an Appalachian State Mountaineers team that was woefully outmatched on both sides of the ball.

This week will be different, going up against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

Their program is ranked 16th in the nation and put on a similarly impressive showing in Week 2, defeating Rice 48-17. In that game, senior quarterback Everett Golson threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more, showcasing his ability both in the running and passing game.

The rivalry has historically produced a number of close games and dramatic finishes, in which the Wolverines have a 24-16 advantage.

Considering this is the last time the two teams will play each other for the foreseeable future (since Notre Dame has exercised its option to discontinue the rivalry) and that the Fighting Irish left Ann Arbor last year after coming up short 41-30, they're going to be extremely motivated.

The "Chicken Dance" song should still be fresh in their minds.

The Wolverines also come into Notre Dame stadium with an abysmal road record under head coach Brady Hoke, going 6-8 away from Michigan Stadium.

If the Wolverines are going to buck that trend, they'll need to continue doing what they did last week against Appalachian State: Run the football.


Michigan's Rushing Attack

Senior QB Devin Gardner threw only 14 passes, but completed 13 of them for three touchdowns to wide receiver Devin Funchess against Appalachian State. But what made Michigan's offense so strong was the sophomore rushing tandem of Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith.

The two running backs combined for 285 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

In total, the Wolverines put up 350 yards on the ground with 210 passing yards to complement. With such a strong tandem at running back, coach Hoke would do well to build his game plan around those two players and establish the running game as early as possible against Notre Dame.


Freeing Up the Passing Game

Once the running of Smith and Green has impacted head coach Brian Kelly's defensive game plan for the Fighting Irish, the Wolverines will have an opportunity to use play action and get Funchess open down the field.

Despite the fact that Notre Dame is going to be without cornerback KeiVarae Russell, it is still a far more skilled and versatile secondary than what Funchess and Gardner were dealing with when they played Appalachian State.

On the interior, Notre Dame will also be without defensive end Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore, making them more vulnerable to the running game.

The Wolverines will need to exploit that weakness before they let Gardner start chucking the ball down the field.

But if the success of their rushing attack continues, freeing up the passing game will be a quick process.


Sticking with the Rushing Attack

Even though the yards per attempt will be lower, the Wolverines should keep handing the ball off to their playmakers. The same rushing attack that allowed them to dominate an over-matched Appalachian State squad should allow them to keep pace with Notre Dame.

It'll also give them the opportunity to keep an already fractured Fighting Irish defense on the field with a possession-based game plan.

If they can keep the score close, the play of Gardner and Funchess will be enough to outscore a tired Fighting Irish defense in the second half of the game.

Bobby Kittleberger writes about fantasy football for The FF White Papers. You can get in touch with him via Twitter.

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Miami Football: 5 Key Reserves to Watch Against Florida A&M

When the Miami Hurricanes return to conference play later this month, top reserves will be asked to fill in seamlessly for starters.

Some backups are important than others, and those are key players to watch against Florida A&M on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. ET.

Despite a mediocre opening to the 2014 campaign, the Canes are clear favorites heading into the meeting. After all, the Rattlers are a subpar FCS team and cannot be expected to hang around for long.

Barring a completely unexpected result, Miami reserves will see significant playing time Saturday night, which is crucial for the Hurricanes moving forward.

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Washington State's Infamous 'Popcorn Guy' Gets a '30 for 30' Trailer

Nobody will ever forget about "Popcorn Guy" from last year's Stanford-Washington State game. His story is so invigorating that he now has his own ESPN 30 for 30 trailer.

There have been some interesting 30 for 30 documentaries in the past, but this feature seems like it would be an instant hit. That's why ESPN's Colin Cowherd has taken the first step in making it happen.

It's just a spoof, but we'd all love to hear what was going through Popcorn Guy's mind at the time.

[ESPN, h/t GameDayr]

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George Campbell Commits to FSU: Where LSU, Florida Turn After Missing on 4-Star

LSU and Florida’s pursuit of bringing in elite talent at wide receiver hit a snag on Friday afternoon.

After months of deliberation, 4-star wide receiver George Campbell announced his decision to commit to Florida State, per ESPN.com’s Derek Tyson. That left the Tigers and Gators—two teams strongly considered by the nation’s No. 7-ranked receiver—in a bit of a hole.

But while losing out on Campbell certainly hurts, all hope is not lost for these two SEC squads.

 

Where Does Florida Go Now?

With a class that includes just one receiver—3-star Kalif Jackson—the Gators are in desperate need to zero in on a couple of more targets at the position.

A name that immediately comes to mind is that of Ryan Davis. The 4-star athlete is currently ranked No. 26 at his position and has the chops to make a splash at receiver at the next level.

Already having made three trips to Gainesville since August, Davis is expected to make a fourth visit shortly, per 247Sports’ Luke Stampini. That can only be a good sign for Florida.

Bleacher Report’s Sanjay Kirpalani thinks Antonio Callaway should also be in the discussion:

A 3-star receiver out of Miami’s Booker T. Washington High School, Callaway is quickly gaining steam and would make a great addition for any team. What he may lack in size (5'11", 175 lbs) he more than makes up for with great ball skills and the ability to make plays in the open field.

He’s exactly the kind of receiver Florida needs to add.

 

Where Does LSU Go Now?

For head coach Les Miles and LSU, they now turn their attention toward bigger fish to fry.

Hometown product Tyron Johnson, a 5-star receiver out of New Orleans, should be the team’s top priority right now. The 6'1", 191-pounder is ranked as the No. 24 overall prospect and No. 3 among wide receivers.

An early Tigers lean, Johnson has since named Texas Tech a leader back in June, per 247Sports’ Taylor Hamm (subscription required). Still, LSU found itself included in his official top 10, per Johnson’s Twitter page:

The loss of Campbell only increases the pressure on the Tigers to snag the top receiver in the state. Failing to do so could be a significant blemish on the 2015 recruiting class.

Another name the team should focus in on is 4-star receiver Carlos Strickland.

Hailing from Dallas, the 6'5", 194-pounder has the size and hands that have impressed scouts across the country. He’s currently listed as the No. 15-ranked receiver in the country.

According to 247Sports’ Sonny Shipp, LSU already has its eye on Strickland: 

Strickland would give any quarterback a great target in the passing game and is a threat to take it the house any time he touches the ball.

 

All recruiting information and rankings used in this article are courtesy of 247Sports.

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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