NCAA Football

Devin Funchess Gives Michigan Hope for Strong 2014 Season

It might have been just one game against Appalachian State, but Devin Funchess—the wide receiver—looks like one of the most dynamic players in the college game.

The former tight end for Michigan has made the full-time switch to wideout and exploded on Saturday. With seven receptions against the Mountaineers, Funchess collected 95 yards and three touchdowns for the Maize and Blue.

In a game that the Wolverines needed to win, Funchess came up huge, as SportsCenter notes:

As for the significance of Funchess' performance, it was the first time he was wearing the No. 1 on the field. ESPN Stats & Info notes the history behind the number for the program:

Maybe it was the switch to receiver. Or maybe it was the change to jersey number No. 1 for the 2014 season. Whatever it was that caused it, it's clear that a switch has been on for Funchess heading into his junior season.

As a sophomore, Funchess contributed with 49 catches for 748 yards, six touchdowns and an average of 15.6 yards per catch as a tight end. In one game as a receiver, he's proved why the switch was made.

Following the season opener, Funchess spoke confidently about his ability, per Brendan F. Quinn of

His size certainly makes him a matchup nightmare. But as a tight end last season, the most receptions he had were capped at seven—a mark he already eclipsed on Saturday.

But Saturday's might not be the only stage where Funchess plays in the future. After breaking out as a tight end last season, his name is already coming up on the list of wide receivers with NFL potential.

Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News and Michael Schottey of Bleacher Report pass along their thoughts on the wideout:

Now that his abilities have been spread out on the field, it's clear that he can become a much more explosive player for Michigan. Unfortunately, a wide receiver is only as good as his quarterback in most situations.

Luckily, the connection between Funchess and quarterback Devin Gardner is working, as Mike Huguenin of notes:

Funchess will be Michigan's go-to receiver this fall, and he and Gardner -- who was 13-of-14 for 173 yards and the three TDs -- looked in sync against App State, whose secondary was an issue heading into the season. It also helped Gardner that the running game, which was an embarrassment last season, came up huge Saturday: 350 yards, with two tailbacks (sophomores Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith) reaching the 100-yard plateau.

Here's the kicker: All of that production came against App State. Sure, it was a notable game because of the history between the two programs, but similar production will be a necessity in Week 2 for the Wolverines.

While the Mountaineers head off to face Campbell, Michigan's next destination is in South Bend to face Notre Dame. With the huge game on tap, Funchess will be the go-to receiver and have heightened expectations.

By his post-game remarks, it's clear that Funchess believes he will be a massive factor in Michigan's success. As his potential and production finally start to match up, the 2014 season might be a special one for the Wolverines if Funchess continues to shine.


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North Carolina's Elijah Hood Uses Truck Stick on Liberty's Justin Guillory

North Carolina running back Elijah Hood wasn't going to let a defensive back stop him in the open field.

During the first half, Hood used the truck stick to blow through Liberty cornerback Justin Guillory. The Tar Heels held a 21-15 lead at halftime.


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Ameer Abdullah vs. FAU: Final Stat Line, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

A Heisman Trophy can't be won in the opening game of the season, but Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah did about as much as a Heisman contender could possibly do to strengthen his campaign against Florida Atlantic.

The senior running back rushed for 227 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries in the Cornhuskers' 55-7 win over the Owls on Saturday.

It was the 18th time Abdullah passed the century mark, which ranks him first among active players in FBS and third in school history, per the Omaha World-Herald:

This game was largely over by halftime, with Nebraska carrying a 31-7 into the third quarter. Much of the Cornhuskers' offensive success could be attributed to Abdullah. Through the first two quarters, he had a whopping 178 yards on 16 carries, per Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star:

That total was the second-highest for Abdullah in a single game, and he still had two more quarters to go. He eventually beat out his previous single-game best, which was 225 yards against Illinois on Oct. 5, 2013:

Also worth noting is that Abdullah passed 3,000 career yards rushing, becoming the eighth player in school history to do so, per Eric Olson of The Associated Press:

He is now seventh in Nebraska's record books, per Dan Hoppen of Husker Online:

Abdullah didn't warrant mention on ESPN's Heisman Watch before Week 1 got underway, but that could change by next week. Chad Withrow of 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Tennessee, thinks that the Nebraska star could slowly get voters on his side as the year goes on:

You'd think that a player couldn't do much for his Heisman chances when playing FAU. The Owls went 6-6 last year and gave up 162.2 yards per game.

However, the way Abdullah dominated the FAU defense can't be ignored. He averaged a first down every time he ran the ball. That's astounding when you have 20-plus carries. You couldn't help but to watch that game and begin picturing Abdullah in New York City for the Heisman presentation:

Keeping up a pace like this is nearly impossible for Abdullah, but Saturday was a small taste of what he can do in 2014. Expectations were big coming into the season, and so far, he's well on pace.

Before the season, the senior spoke about what he wants to accomplish in Lincoln, per USA Today's Paul Myerberg:

I know it sounds stupid, but a lot of people envision it but they don't believe that they can go out and be an Academic All-American, be one of the top backs in the country and be a shining example for the Big Ten. It means a lot. You never know what kind of history you're writing. You never know who's going to tell your story. Just the fact that my story is maybe a story that may be told, you know, in the future.

With Nebraska playing McNeese State next week, Abdullah has the chance to drop another massive rushing performance. After that, the real test will begin.

If he averages 100-plus yards per game and Nebraska either wins the Big Ten or comes close to winning the conference, then Abdullah could very well transition from Heisman outsider to Heisman favorite.

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Blake Sims Debuts for Alabama: Final Stat Line, Analysis and Twitter Reaction

It's rare for a national title contender to trot out a first-time starter at quarterback in Week 1, but that's exactly what Alabama head coach Nick Saban opted for when he named Blake Sims the starting signal-caller prior to the Crimson Tide's opening salvo against West Virginia.

Sims, who came into the game with just 39 pass attempts despite his status as a fifth-year senior, performed admirably in a surprisingly tough 33-23 victory. Here is the final stat line for Sims, whose role as the starter figures to be a major point of contention for 'Bama as long as he has the job:

Saban gave Sims the nod over Florida State University transfer Jacob Coker, who's battled Sims for the starting job throughout the summer and is still very much in contention for the starting job.

Saban offered an explanation for the surprise choice of Sims at starter via's Alex Scarborough, citing his experience and comfort in the offensive system:

Both guys have done really well in fall camp and there’s still a quarterback competition on our team, I don’t think there’s any question about that. But we needed to get our team ready to play this game with the most knowledge and experience, which Blake Sims has been in the system longer, is a little more comfortable and plays with a little better rhythm.

Alabama, of course, has national title aspirations once again, which puts the pressure on Sims to perform right out of the gate if he wants to keep the starting job. Saban will have no reservations if he thinks Coker gives the team a better chance of winning.

Sims wasn't spectacular, but he did just enough for his team to win.

Bleacher Report's own Marc Torrence noted that former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron showed Sims some love before the game began:

Marquavius Bennett of The Anniston Star liked the way Sims took control of his players, which doubles as a referendum on his knowledge of the offense:

Despite a few egregious misses, Sims was solid in the first half, completing 15 of 19 passes for 165 yards after two quarters of play. However, the majority of those completions came on short, simple passes that didn't do anything toward stretching the Mountaineer's defense.

ESPN's Edward Aschoff couldn't find a good reason for Sims to not play into the second half:

Sims continued to move the ball efficiently in the third quarter by stringing together short- to medium-length passes, although it was clear that running backs Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon were the real stars of the show. Of course, Sims adds an extra dimension to the offense with his legs.

His bruising running did manage to (perhaps unfairly) get West Virginia in trouble in the third quarter, as SB Nation points out:

Despite the solid stat-line, Sims was still a very polarizing figure among 'Bama fans:

This tweet from C.J. Fogler sums it up best:

It should be noted that Sims often honed in on wide receiver Amari Cooper, who finished with 12 catches for 130 yards. In fact, only three 'Bama players caught multiple passes on the day. For the Crimson Tide to have continued success on offense, Sims will have to do a better job of spreading the ball around and making defenses regard every skill player as a potential threat.

Football writer Christopher Walsh noted in the third quarter that Sims had yet to hook up with highly-regarded tight end O.J. Howard:

When he did finally target Howard, it didn't end well, per Torrence:

Coker did eventually get into the game, but it was just a cameo appearance to kneel the ball and wind down the clock.

It's not a dream start for Sims, but recent history shows it's something Alabama can work with for now.

McCarron himself started off the 2013 season for 'Bama going 10-of-23 for 110 yards, one touchdown and one pick—and that was with a couple years of starting experience under his belt. The Crimson Tide beat Virginia Tech comfortably in that contest, and McCarron followed up the shaky start with a fantastic four-touchdown game against Texas A&M.

It may take a similar leap in production against Florida Atlantic for Sims to gain a stranglehold on the starting job, but recent history shows that the Crimson Tide can pull out victories without extraordinary quarterback play. He doesn't have the same amount of job security as McCarron, and that pick definitely hurt him. But expect Sims to see the majority of snaps in Week 2.

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Georgia's Todd Gurley Takes Kickoff Return 100 Yards for Touchdown vs. Clemson

Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley is known best for his work on offense, but it was his play in the return game that stood out on Saturday against the Clemson Tigers.

In the first half, Gurley returned this 100-yard kickoff all the way to the house for the touchdown, helping the Bulldogs tie the game at 21-21.

[Instagram, h/t The Big Lead]

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Everett Golson vs. Rice: Final Stat Line, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

After an entire year off, Everett Golson showed the college football world exactly what they missed in his return under center for Notre Dame. Unfortunately, Rice was on the other end of his explosive showing.

Golson made his first start for the Fighting Irish after being suspended for the 2013 season due to a violation of the honor code. In Notre Dame's season opener, Golson broke out for 295 passing yards, 41 rushing yards and five total touchdowns—three rushing and two passing.

After missing his presence on the field last year, coach Brian Kelly was pleased with his quarterback on Saturday. Kelly spoke about his performance, per Adam Shear of Fox 28:

Golson was also awarded the game ball following the contest, via Notre Dame Football:

The result was a 48-17 demolishing of Rice, one that was highlighted by a 75-yard passing touchdown in the first half. Notre Dame Football and Tyler James of Notre Dame Insider break down the pass to Will Fuller:

SportsCenter also let the young quarterback know he was sorely missed by the sports world:

Along with his arm, Golson also showed off the wheels that helped the Irish reach the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.

After rushing for 298 yards during his lone season at quarterback for Notre Dame, Golson proved he can still roll outside of the pocket. With his 41 yards, he compiled three crucial touchdowns with his legs to separate from Rice.

The Fighting Irish shared one of the rushing scores on Twitter that gave the team an 11-point lead in the second quarter:

Golson's production also put him in elite company in the history of the program, as Michael Bertsch of Notre Dame Insider points out:

While it wasn't entirely the Everett Golson Show on Saturday afternoon, the Irish faithful were certainly happy to see him back. Following a 9-4 season that saw the team go 1-3 against ranked opponents, having Golson in the backfield makes the team much more complete.

Fans were not the only ones coming away impressed with Golson's showing against Rice. Several analysts shared their thoughts on the performance, including Matt Fortuna of ESPN and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:

As for Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports, he was happy to see the young man getting a second chance:

Golson has clearly made the most of that second chance and is putting Notre Dame on his back. While it is still early in the season, the Irish look like a much more complete team with him under center.

For now, the Irish are still ranked No. 17 in both the Associated Press and Amway polls. If Golson and the entire team continue to put together performances like the one against Rice, this could be another special season for the fans in South Bend.


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WVU vs. Alabama: Score and Twitter Reaction

Alabama survived a tough challenge from West Virginia and escaped with a 33-23 win in the Georgia Dome.

The Mountaineers did a good job moving the ball as quarterback Clint Trickett impressed with 365 passing yards against a normally stout defense. Receiver Kevin White also helped out with nine receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. 

This caused problems for the Crimson Tide defense, but the offense picked up the slack thanks to 538 yards of total offense. Alabama had the ground game working in this one as T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry combined for 239 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Blake Sims was solid in his first start at quarterback, going 24-of-33 for 250 yards and an interception. Amari Cooper was clearly the go-to option on the day with 130 receiving yards on 12 catches in the winning effort.

Few expected this game to be even close, especially considering this graphic by ESPN Stats and Info:

However, defense ruled the first quarter as the two teams were only able to come through with a field goal each to stay tied 3-3 through the first 15 minutes of game time.

Alabama was able to get its first touchdown of the season on an impressive run by Yeldon from 15 yards out, as described by Patrick Claybon of WIAT 42 in Alabama:

This capped off a 14-play, 95-yard drive to get the first lead of the game. Most expected the Crimson Tide to start getting on a roll and pull away from there, but it simply did not happen.

The Mountaineers were able to answer right back on the next drive, going 75 yards in just two minutes and 13 seconds. They were able to tie the game at 10-10 thanks to an impressive catch by Kevin White in the end zone. Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee was impressed:

At this point, ESPN's Paul Finebaum was one of many surprised by the close score:

After Yeldon got on the board for the second time in the game with a one-yard touchdown run, West Virginia was once again able to answer immediately, this time on the ensuing kickoff. Mario Alford took it back 100 yards to tie the score at 17-17:

Alabama ended the half with a 41-yard field goal to take a 20-17 lead and controlled possession for much of the game to that point, but the team was still disappointed. Head coach Nick Saban discussed his thoughts going into intermission:

Instead of switching to Jacob Coker at halftime, Saban stuck with Sims at quarterback. Edward Aschoff of ESPN provided his thoughts on the senior's performance:

This did not matter too much early in the third quarter as the running game was able to take care of business. This time it was Henry, who came through with an impressive 19-yard run to get into the end zone and take a 27-17 lead.

Bryan Fischer of and College GameDay each provided their thoughts on the impressive run by the 6'3", 241-pound running back:

West Virginia hung around with some long drives in the second half orchestrated by Trickett. As Kevin Weidl of ESPN noted, the quarterback performed well all game:

Unfortunately, the Mountaineers had to keep settling for field-goal attempts and remained behind on the scoreboard. Even with a few more chances late, they could never tie the game and ended up with the narrow loss.

The effort certainly will not go unnoticed, as Lost Letterman was one of many impressed by the Mountaineers:

They fought hard but could not get enough points to pull of the massive upset over the No. 2 team in the country.

After a disappointing end to last season, Alabama is hoping it can bring home another national championship with a loaded roster on both sides of the ball. The problem is the SEC West is just as good as ever, and teams like Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M are all capable of beating the Tide when playing well.

Saban was once again short with his words after the game:

If this squad wants to play itself into the inaugural College Football Playoff, it will have to perform better than it did in this opening game. This will hopefully begin next week with a home game against Florida Atlantic.

On the other hand, this defeat could be considered a moral victory for unranked West Virginia. The Mountaineers will try to keep the momentum going against Towson next week before what could be a good year in the Big 12.


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

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Rice vs. Notre Dame: Score and Twitter Reaction

Everett Golson picked up where he left off—scoring big touchdowns with his arm and his feet and leading Notre Dame to victory.

The 17th-ranked Fighting Irish resumed the Golson era with a bang on Saturday night, topping the Rice Owls by the score of 48-17 at Notre Dame Stadium for the team's 2014 opener.

The Irish held a 28-10 halftime lead and blew it open in the second half en route to 576 total yards—281 of which came on the ground. 

Returning to the field for the first time since missing the entire 2013 season, Golson showed no signs of rust and made big play after big play to lead Notre Dame to an easy win against an overmatched opponent. He finished 14-of-22 passing, accumulating 295 yards through the air and scoring five total touchdowns.

In what was Golson's first game action since the 2013 BCS title game, Notre Dame planned on easing the senior quarterback back into the fold.

“We need to get him into the game, have some success early on with him and get him into the flow of the game,” coach Brian Kelly said, per Lamond Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think once he starts to get comfortable playing the game at a fast pace, then we’ll just call the game like we normally would.”

They eased him in, all right. Golson's first two series were short three-and-outs. But on the third drive, the quarterback took it upon himself.

He orchestrated a 47-yard drive that was capped off by his 11-yard scamper into the end zone that put Notre Dame up 7-0. That began an offensive surge that would push the Irish to a big first-half lead.

Rice generated much more offensive success than its final score would indicate, and much of the Owls' success came early. In fact, the only first-half touchdown for Rice came immediately after Golson's touchdown.

Junior Owls quarterback Driphus Johnson, who finished 13-of-24 for 163 yards, led his team down the field for a 26-yard touchdown to Zach Wright to tie things up at seven apiece.

Some 12 seconds later with one throw, Golson got the Irish's lead back, per Notre Dame Football:

Golson connected with Will Fuller for the longest pass of his career, a 75-yard bomb as the wide receiver shed a tackler while dancing into the end zone. 

Rice had no immediate answer for Notre Dame's score this time, and the Irish smelled blood as the second quarter wound down. Although the Owls cut the lead to 14-10 midway through the second, that just got the Irish going again. Golson wound up capping off an 86-yard drive with another rushing touchdown. 

When Jackson was intercepted on the very next drive and Golson answered with a 53-yard touchdown bomb to C.J. Prosise, it was 28-10 before halftime, and Rice was on the ropes. 

Dave Miller of National Football Post was impressed with Golson's return:

Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated had fun with the quarterback's success:

Golson was nearly perfect on the day, but it was surprising to see his receivers fail to come up with a few of his passes, as CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli noted:

As important as it was for Irish fans to see Golson making his usual athletic plays in the pocket, throwing downfield and escaping for rushing gains, it was even more crucial to see how he came out in the second half.

And the senior came out as you would expect. Golson orchestrated a six-minute drive early in the third to add another Kyle Brindza field goal. Quickly thereafter, the quarterback turned a short field into another rushing touchdown.

Suddenly, it was 38-10 late in the third quarter—time for his night to come to an end and for the backups to get some playing time.

Golson's three rushing touchdowns put him in the history books, per Michael Bertsch of Notre Dame:

Rice didn't get much of anything going in the second half offensively—Notre Dame dominated the line of scrimmage and sent blitz packages at the Owls backfield to thwart their attack as the game wore on. 

The Owls did score a long, 53-yard touchdown late from quarterback Tyler Stehling to wideout James Mayden to cut the deficit to 41-17, but Notre Dame's second-teamers soon answered with a touchdown drive.

By the end of the second half with Notre Dame wrapping up a win, the story of the noticeable artificial turf was generating as much attention as anything else, per's Albert Breer:

But the players didn't mind the turf as much as the scoreboard, which showed a resounding Notre Dame victory. It wasn't one of the team's tougher tests on its upcoming schedule, but the Irish still came out with a lopsided victory and had plenty of success on both sides of the ball.

Any Notre Dame fans who worried about Golson not returning to his form of old can rest easy. In fact, he may never return to that level, because so far in 2014, he's playing even better than in 2012.

Alongside that, it was a strong performance overall from Notre Dame as it looks to build momentum heading into a brutal schedule.

The tests start coming quickly for the Irish, who host Michigan on Saturday at home. With a win over the rival Wolverines, Notre Dame could start generating some serious talk just as it did two seasons ago. 

Things don't get any easier for the Owls, either. They travel to face Texas A&M, who were big winners over South Carolina on Thursday. 

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Ohio State Football: How Buckeyes Offense Must Adjust After Struggles vs. Navy

After throwing the first interception of his college career, J.T. Barrett decided to have a conversation with himself.

"I was like, 'J.T., you knew you shouldn't have thrown it. But you still threw it,'" the Ohio State quarterback recalled. "'Now you gotta make up for it.'"

And while Barrett did just that in the first start of his college career, throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns—and yes, one interception—in Ohio State's 34-17 victory over Navy on Saturday, a self-induced pep talk won't be enough to save the Buckeyes in Week 2.

Because while the Midshipmen made for more of a headache than anything else in a game that was closer than the final score indicated, Virginia Tech won't be as forgiving to an inexperienced OSU offense when the Hokies come to Columbus next week.

A young quarterback thrust into the spotlight and an offensive line still searching for its starters both contributed to a Buckeyes offense that Urban Meyer admitted was still without an identity in Ohio State's season opener. Whether the Buckeyes will be able to find one by next Saturday remains to be seen, but Meyer at least now knows what he's working with in what unexpectedly has become one of the biggest challenges of his coaching career.


Breaking Down Barrett

It was tough to grade Barrett after the first start of the redshirt freshman's college career, considering that as expected he wasn't asked to do anything too demanding. But nevertheless, Meyer attempted to, giving Braxton Miller's replacement a passing, albeit unspectacular, mark.

"J.T., I thought, did OK. I'd grade him a B," Meyer said after the game. "Every new player's going to have a certain amount of mistakes."

That sounds about right, considering that the majority of Barrett's pass attempts were of the shorter, safer variety. He did hit an 80-yard touchdown to a wide-open Devin Smith toward the end of the third quarter giving Ohio State the final lead of the game, but his one big play on the day was essentially negated by his one big mistake—the aforementioned interception that gave Navy the ball back as the Buckeyes were threatening from the Midshipmen 8-yard line in the second quarter.

Starting the first game of his college career on less than two weeks notice, you couldn't have asked for much more from Barrett than the 12-for-15, 226-yard, two-touchdown, one-interception stat line that he posted to go along with his team-high 50 rushing yards. But what the box score didn't show—and what everybody inside of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore saw on Saturday—was the reality of the Buckeyes' quarterback situation for the now ongoing season.

Unlike in his first two seasons in Columbus, when all Meyer needed was a quick quarterback counter play to escape most jams, Ohio State no longer has that luxury as Barrett is admittedly not the freak athlete who made Miller the two-time reigning Big Ten MVP. Nor does he have the body of a Tim Tebow or experience of Chris Leak or Alex Smith, putting Meyer in a nearly unprecedented situation for his 13-year head coaching career.

The only other time that the two-time national champion head coach found himself starting a freshman at quarterback came in 2010, when a Florida team in flux was forced to play tight end Jordan Reed and running back Trey Burton behind center. The results weren't pretty, either, with the Gators amassing an 8-5 record in what was ultimately Meyer's final season in Gainesville.

That doesn't mean much for Barrett, who obviously has more ability as a passer than both Reed and Burton, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still just one week into the official start of his college career. Nor does it change that while he may be effective with his intermediate throws, Barrett is not the dynamic runner Miller was, nor will he be able to bail the Buckeyes out with the cannon-of-an-arm possessed by his predecessor.

So without the physical tools or experience of Miller, how can Barrett make the most of his opportunity? The answer likely lies in building up enough trust with his short throws that his coaching staff will be comfortable calling for more long ones, hoping that they result in plays like the touchdown to Smith and not the one big blemish on Barrett's college debut.


Lingering Line Questions

Compounding the complication when it comes to evaluating Barrett's first start was the less-than-stellar play of an offensive line, which is still clearly trying to find its footing as it replaces four multi-year starters. Only one sack allowed and one penalty showed up in the box score, but Meyer didn't pull punches when he expressed frustration with the revamped unit's unspectacular debut.

"I was very disappointed," Meyer said of his offensive line. "There's been a standard set for the offensive line play for many years, and it's really been enhanced by our offensive line coach, Ed Warinner, the last two years. It didn't resemble an offensive line at Ohio State."

That's not all that surprising, considering that of the four players called upon to replace Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall on the Buckeyes' front five, only sophomore right guard Pat Elflein has seen significant snaps in his college career. Center Jacoby Boren and Darryl Baldwin have both only been backups up until this season, while left guard Billy Price is a redshirt freshman who was still a defensive lineman this time a year ago.

Even more so than Barrett, the Ohio State offensive line's inexperience was apparent on Saturday, as it left little time for the freshman quarterback to search down the field for open targets. Barrett's lone interception came on play when he was forced to quickly avoid an oncoming defender, before he floated a bad pass into the hands of Midshipmen safety Parrish Gaines.

"We made some mistakes and didn't play as well as we would've liked," Warinner said of his unit. "A lot of young guys and some things happened."

For the better part of the first 45 minutes of the game, there wasn't a lot of cohesion to be found, and Ohio State opted to spend the second quarter rotating Price with converted defensive lineman Joel Hale. Unsurprisingly, the Buckeyes offensive line did appear to click right around the time that Barrett found Smith with 4:10 left on the clock in the third quarter, which was a big reason why Ohio State scored 28 of its 34 points in the second half.

"We settled in and I thought we played really well in the second half," Warinner said. "We started to control the line of scrimmage better. We went back to the starting lineup in the second half, and I thought they did a great job."


Where To Now?

Although Navy gave the Buckeyes a solid scare, the talent mismatch between the two teams ultimately proved to be too much for the Midshipmen to handle. That won't be something that Ohio State can fall back on next week, however, as Virginia Tech is as good as anybody on the Buckeyes' schedule, outside of defending Big Ten champion Michigan State.

That could prove especially problematic on offense for OSU, which now finds itself without Miller's big-play ability to bail it out of sticky situations. At the very least, the Buckeyes can take solace in knowing that Barrett knows that he's not the next Miller, and he's not trying to be as he attempts to put his own spin on the Ohio State offense.

"You come in after Braxton, people expect you to do some crazy stuff," Barrett said. "I'm not Braxton. I'm J.T. I just need to go out there and play my game."

And as for the offensive line, its success could ultimately be what matters most to the Buckeyes—not just next week, but for the rest of the 2014 season. While Barrett may not have amazed in his debut, his line could have made him look a lot better, which it may need to do against the Hokies if 1-0 Ohio State is going to move to 2-0 on the season.

"We wanted to open it up a little bit more in the first half, and we didn't. It wasn't because of [Barrett], it was because with our offensive line, we had a couple of mistakes in there, some penalties, a sack. We just can't do that," Meyer said. "Obviously with the team we have playing next, we have a lot of work to do."


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Florida State vs. Oklahoma State: Live Score and Highlights

Florida State 17, Oklahoma State 7 -- 3:57 2nd Quarter

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Appalachian State vs. Michigan: Game Grades, Analysis for the Wolverines

Brady Hoke passed. 

Doug Nussmeier's offense passed. 

Greg Mattison's defense passed. 

OK, so the entire Michigan football team passed the first day of school by pummeling visiting Appalachian State 52-14 in front of 106,811 at The Big House on Saturday. 

Here are the marks for before and after recess. 

Class is in session for Team 135. 

Box score via


Pass Offense

During the first half, Devin Gardner could do no wrong. Well, he did wrong once; his single incomplete pass was his only mistake, if that's what you want to call it. The fifth-year senior hooked up with Devin Funchess thrice for touchdowns in the first half and finished the day 13-of-14 with 173 yards and a rating of 267.4, per the UM athletic department stats. 

Funchess, now donning the coveted No. 1 jersey, became the first Wolverines wide receiver to have a trio of six-pointers in the season opener. That's something Anthony Carter and Braylon Edwards never did. 

Shane Morris completed a great pass to Keith Heitzman late in the third quarter, but then he turned around and threw a pick. He finished 3-of-5 with 37 yards. His performance only slightly dings the overall grade. 

But as a whole, a high grade is absolutely appropriate. 


Run Offense

This one is kind of tricky. Sure, the Wolverines ran wild over the Mountaineers, putting up a combined 350 yards on the day. However, it took a few moments before things really got started. The final two quarters were all Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith, who combined for 285 yards. 

Smith had a pair of touchdowns, while Green had one. Green had a 62-yard trot; Smith had one for 61. 

But, the first half wasn't great. There's work to be done all around, but Green and Smith became the first running back duo to go for 100-plus each since 2007. That deserves a gold star or something like that. 


Pass Defense

Appalachian State's Kameron Bryant met Desmond Morgan once, which had to hurt. That knock pretty much set the tone for the defense, which allowed just 52 yards through the air during the first half. With depth players in the mix, the Wolverines gave up a touchdown to Simms McElfresh, who has one of the best names in college football. 

During his post-game presser, coach Brady Hoke said that he and the defense want that one back. Who can blame them? Other than the one score and a total of 127 yards surrendered, Team 135's pass defense looked stout. 

But again, one must consider the competition. It wasn't Ohio State, Notre Dame or Michigan State. We'll see what these guys are really made of next Saturday when they battle the Irish—and then later against the Spartans and Buckeyes. 


Run Defense

Giving up 153 yards on the ground to anyone is a no-no, especially when that "anyone" is one year removed from FCS play. The Wolverines were solid in the first half, allowing former 1,000-yard rusher Marcus Cox just 19 yards. 

The second half wasn't so great, but that was due to rotation. Hoke made sure to give reps to plenty of guys. You can bet that Mattison will have a talk with his defenders, who were gouged up the middle. 


Special Teams

Nothing special. But it's worth noting that Jabrill Peppers limped off the field after returning a punt. He'll be ready to go this week, says Hoke, who emphasized the non-serious nature of his star frosh's ankle injury. 



Give these guys some credit—they've had to answer questions about 2007 for weeks. They put together a solid game plan that would have beaten a lot of Big Ten teams. Nothing is perfect, but Michigan's coaching staff was on the same page Saturday. 


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

Unless otherwise noted, quotes or references to quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer. 

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Randy Gregory Injury: Updates on Nebraska Star's Knee and Return

Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory has exited the Cornhuskers' game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday with what appears to be a left knee injury.

KETV Omaha's Andy Kendeigh reported that Gregory was on the sideline with his knee in a brace in the first half:

In the second half, the star junior was in street clothes. Alex Lantz of the Lincoln Journal Star did feel that Gregory was moving around well:

After the game,'s Mitch Sherman had an update:

It's entirely possible that Nebraska was simply being extra cautious with the player. At the time of writing, the Cornhuskers were up, 38-7, in the third quarter against the Owls. The team could afford to leave Gregory on the bench and feel confident about the result.

There's little doubt as to Gregory's importance for Nebraska. One of the best defensive ends in the country, he recorded 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season. That was enough to get him on ESPN's and USA Today's preseason All-American teams ahead of the 2014 campaign.

In order for the Cornhuskers to be contenders in the Big Ten West Division, they'll need Gregory healthy and back on the field.

Considering how Nebraska already had Saturday's game in control, it's a bit too early to begin panicking too much as to the extent of his injury.

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Nebraska's Jordan Westerkamp Makes Terrific Behind-the-Back Catch vs. FAU

The college football season just started, but Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp has already put himself in the running for the best catch of the year.

During Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic, Westerkamp was running a route toward the sideline. After a defender tipped the throw from Tommy Armstrong Jr., Westerkamp improvised and somehow made the grab behind his back before tiptoeing out of bounds.


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Fresno State vs. USC: Live Score and Highlights

USC 31, Fresno State 7 — HALFTIME

USC has begun the Steve Sarkisian era, opening the 2014 season at home against Fresno State in dominating fashion by racing out to a 24-0 lead.

Stick with us for real-time updates and analysis, including some of the best pictures, videos, GIFS and tweets from this Golden State nonconference tilt.


Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Fresno State vs. USC: Live Score and Highlights

USC 31, Fresno State 13 — Early 3rd quarter USC has begun the Steve Sarkisian era, opening the 2014 season at home against Fresno State in dominating fashion by racing out to a 24-0 lead...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Auburn Ball Boy Shows off Blazing Speed vs. Arkansas

The Auburn Tigers are looking to make another run at the national championship this season, and they might want to consider adding one of their ball boys to the roster.

During Saturday's game against Arkansas, one Auburn ball boy showed off his blazing speed, keeping up with wide receiver Melvin Ray as he sprinted down the sideline.


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Alabama's DeAndrew White Jukes Multiple Defenders for First Down vs. WVU

The Alabama Crimson Tide may not have AJ McCarron anymore, but they still have plenty of talent at wide receiver.

During the second quarter of Saturday's game against the West Virginia Mountaineers, senior receiver DeAndrew White showed just how talented he is.

On third and long, White turned a short pass into a 38-yard gain thanks to a few jukes that left a number of West Virginia defenders grasping at air.

[Vine, h/t College Spun]

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WVU's Mario Alford Returns Kickoff 100 Yards for Touchdown vs. Alabama

The Alabama Crimson Tide enter this season as the No. 2 team in the country, but they're having some trouble in their first game against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Late in the second quarter, Mario Alford turned on the jets and helped get the Mountaineers back in the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 

That return tied it up at 17. The Mountaineers now trail just 20-17 at halftime.


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Ohio State vs. Navy: Game Grades, Analysis for the Buckeyes

It took a little while for No. 5 Ohio State to gain its bearings offensively, but the Buckeyes found their groove in the second half, surging late for a closer-than-it-looked 34-17 victory over Navy.

Early struggles were expected without Heisman Trophy hopeful Braxton Miller at quarterback. The Buckeyes also faced a tough challenge in defending Navy and its vaunted triple-option attack.

How does Ohio State grade out after its season-opening 17-point victory?


Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: J.T. Barrett completed 12 of 15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. The redshirt freshman made good decisions with the football, completing 80 percent of his throws and averaging 18.8 yards per completion. A bad interception and poor pass protection in the first half hurt the Buckeyes early, but a strong second-half performance salvaged a nice outing.

Run Offense: Much like the passing offense, it took a little while for the rushing attack to get going. The Buckeyes managed only 66 rushing yards in the first half, and starting running back Ezekiel Elliott struggled, carrying the ball just three times for five yards. Things clicked in the fourth quarter, when Ohio State piled up 122 rushing yards.

Pass Defense: It's easy to look good in pass defense against Navy. Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds threw just four passes, completing two of them for 20 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. But Ohio State's pass defense looked fierce, registering two sacks despite Navy dropping back for a pass just six times.

Run Defense: The Buckeyes did a good job limiting Navy's offense in the first half. Reynolds and the Midshipmen went into the locker room at halftime with 138 rushing yards—a modest number for Ken Niumatalolo's squad. Navy exploded in the third quarter, though, rushing for 196 yards in a single quarter. Defensive tackles Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington were really impressive, but giving up 370 rushing yards—even to Navy—is never good.

Special Teams: Dontre Wilson had a solid day returning punts and kicks, and Cameron Johnston looked to be in midseason form in the first quarter when he pinned Navy at the 1-yard line with a 53-yard punt. True freshman kicker Sean Nuernberger stole the show, though, connecting on 46- and 28-yard field goals in his first collegiate action.

Coaching: The Buckeyes offense struggled mightily in the first half, and a lot of that was due to poor play-calling from offensive coordinator Tom Herman. The worst call of the game came in the second quarter when Ohio State needed just two yards inside Navy's 5-yard line for a first down. Instead of pounding the ball inside, the Buckeyes went wide with an option, resulting in a seven-yard loss for Elliott. The play-calling improved greatly in the second half, which produced much better results for the offense.


All stats via

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Why the Big 12 Should Extend Invite to Top FCS Team North Dakota State

If the Big 12 is looking for expansion prospects, perhaps the league should look north. North of Kansas. North, toward Fargo, N.D., and North Dakota State.

Last month, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn't completely close the door on Big 12 expansion. With the league sitting at 10 teams—and needing 12 to hold a lucrative league title game—the topic came up at Big 12 Media Days.

The Big 12 commissioner said, per Keith Whitmire of the Deseret News, that expansion was possible only if the school brings "more than pro-rata value."

Between last year and this year, our distribution per school goes up $3.2 million per school. If you do that 12 ways instead of 10 ways, it goes up $2.5 million per school. You've got to have somebody that brings at least pro rata value, and that's a real short list.

I’m not sure about pro-rata value, but North Dakota State has certainly proved its value as a potential Big 12 member on the gridiron.

Saturday’s 34-14 thumping of Iowa State marked the program’s second consecutive win over a Big 12 North foe, and third in the last five years. It was the Bison’s eighth win over an FBS foe in the last nine years, and NDSU extended its win streak to 25 games. Per USA Today's Paul Myerberg, the Bison has the nation's fourth-longest win streak against FBS competition. 

North Dakota State has built something truly special in Fargo, with three consecutive FCS national titles. As Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval  noted, the Bison’s program DNA is hard-nosed defense and all-out effort. That hasn’t changed this season, although there was reason to believe NDSU might take a step back this fall.

Head coach Craig Bohl, the architect of the recent success, was hired away last December by Mountain West team Wyoming. And 24 seniors at the roster’s core graduated, finishing their eligibility following last season’s FCS national title win over Towson.

Defensive coordinator Chris Klieman was promoted to replace Bohl. And while Iowa State (3-9 in 2013) is nowhere near as impressive a conquest as beating defending Big 12 champion Kansas State with an 18-play, 80-yard, 8:30 touchdown drive, the Bison were solid Saturday regardless.

After spotting Iowa State a 14-0 lead, NDSU scored the game’s final 34 points, with first-time starting quarterback Carson Wentz completing 18 of 28 passes for 204 yards with no interceptions.

It’s unclear if North Dakota State could compete consistently with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor, but at the very least, the Bison have proven worthy of inclusion in the Big 12’s middle class, finding success against FBS teams while competing with the FCS-mandated 63 scholarship limit.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has campaigned for his team as a Big 12 expansion target. But if the Big 12 wants a passionate program that has proven it can hold its own with current league members, Bowlsby and Co. could certainly do a lot worse than North Dakota State.

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