NCAA Football News

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.

[Vine]

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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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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.

[Vine]


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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.

[Instagram]

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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 NCAA.com.

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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Sweet Revenge, Doug Nussmeier's New Offense Exactly What Michigan Fans Needed

It’s been seven long years since the sky fell, and Michigan lost to Appalachian State. After last year’s 7-6 finish, the last thing many Michigan fans wanted was a reminder of when their program started its slide into mediocrity.

But Doug Nussmeier’s offense made sure there would be no replay of the 2007 debacle, rolling out to a 35-0 halftime lead behind the running attack of Derrick Green (15 carries for 174 yards, one touchdown), De’Veon Smith (eight carries for 115 yards, two touchdowns) and the passing tandem of Devin Gardner (13-of-14 for 173 yards and three touchdowns) and Devin Funchess (seven receptions for 95 yards, three touchdowns).

Michigan coasted during the second half, winning 52-14 and exacting a measure of revenge for the program’s 2007 loss to Appalachian State.

Green and Smith had dueled for the top spot at running back during camp but both played well, gashing Appalachian State for long gains while Devin Funchess showed himself worthy of his new No. 1 jersey

Nussmeier was hired to rebuild the Michigan offense around a dominant running game and Saturday that’s exactly what Michigan showed rolling for over 560 total yards (350 rushing, 210 passing).

The offense showed a lethal balance between the running and passing that it lacked last season, allowing quarterback Devin Gardner to distribute the ball among multiple teammates while not exposing himself to unnecessary hits from the defense.

“Devin managed the game and took care of the football,” said Hoke. “He played locked in.”

Last season, Michigan opened with a 59-9 thumping of Central Michigan, but the offense was overly dependent on Devin Gardner. Nussmeier’s new scheme proved too much for Appalachian State.

Hoke was reluctant to gush about his team’s new offense.

“We won the football game, we got in the end zone, and now we play Notre Dame.”

It’s only one game but after seven years of hearing about the program’s epic defeat at the hands of Appalachian State, Saturday’s win, and most importantly the way Michigan won, is a welcome relief to Wolverines fans.

 

All season statistics from MGoBlue.com, official University of Michigan athletic department website.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.

Follow @PSCallihan.

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How Much Trouble Is Ohio State In?

The Ohio State Buckeyes started their 2014 season with a 34-17 win vs. Navy in Baltimore, Maryland, but the game wasn't pretty.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Michael Felder discuss how worried Ohio State should be after its shaky start in Week 1.

How well do you think the Buckeyes will do in 2014? Watch the video and let us know.

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Clemson vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

Early First Quarter

Clemson 7, Georgia 0

Clemson marched 70 yards for a touchdown on the game's opening possession.  How will Georgia respond?

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Grading J.T. Barrett's Debut Performance vs. Navy

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett had his first career start in a 34-17 win vs. Navy today in Baltimore, MD. Bleacher Report's college football analyst Michael Felder breaks down his first performance of the 2014 season. How well do you think Barrett will do as the season progresses?

 

Watch the video and let us know.

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Youngstown State's Joey Cejudo Punts Ball Right at Lineman's Backside

This probably could have gone better.

During Saturday's game against the Illinois Fighting Illini, Youngstown State punter Joey Cejudo appeared to be trying to scramble for a first down.

Cejudo then changed his mind at the last minute and decided to punt, but the ball hit his lineman straight in the backside before rolling out of bounds. The Penguins ended up losing the game 28-17.

Mark Sanchez had the "butt fumble," but Cejudo now owns the "butt punt."

[Twitter]

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JT Barrett Debuts for Ohio State: Final Stat Line, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

J.T. Barrett made his first start for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday against Navy. The team was able to power through a tough Midshipmen group, winning 34-17, but the growing pains for the freshman quarterback were obvious and will take time to be worked out.  

Given Barrett's youth and inexperience, head coach Urban Meyer certainly wasn't expecting to see Braxton Miller 2.0. The good news is the defense and running game were able to carry Ohio State early, allowing the youngster to get his feet under him and make big plays when the team needed it. 

Here's a look at Barrett's full stat line from the game, along with highlights and reaction from around the Internet. 

Before the game started, Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer noted that former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce was predicting big things for Barrett:

While Bruce may have been wrong about how effective Barrett was going to be, the game got much better for him and the Buckeyes. Some of the problems early were on the rebuilt offensive line, as noted by Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer Ben Axelrod:

The Ohio State fan group known as Eleven Warriors certainly came out of the game with no complaints under the circumstances:

Barrett's biggest mistake came in the second quarter. Ohio State was trailing 7-3 and sitting deep in Navy territory. The Buckeyes got down to the 8-yard line following a 30-yard completion to Dontre Wilson, but it was followed by an interception on a poor decision from the freshman quarterback.

The good news is that would be the only mistake that cost the Buckeyes, as Barrett came out strong in the second half. He exploited Navy's defense in the third quarter, hitting Devin Smith for an 80-yard touchdown against busted coverage to give Ohio State a 20-14 lead. 

According to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, that was the longest touchdown Navy has allowed in a long time:

Passes like that are one reason Meyer felt comfortable giving the reins to a young quarterback. Even former Ohio State players like Eddie George like the way the team has eased Barrett into his role. George told Cleveland.com:

Barrett has gotten a ton of throws through the spring and now the fall. He's the guy and they can really tailor the game plan around him. J.T. is probably going to run a more conservative game plan and not put it on his shoulders to win the games. ...

... Ohio State has a ton of talent around (Barrett). There are explosive playmakers at every position on the offensive side of the ball, but defense will have to carry the brunt of the load and they can definitely do that with probably the best front seven in the entire country.

That was certainly the case against Navy. With the exception of the long touchdown pass, Meyer called a very conservative game, with just 15 pass attempts against 40 runs. As Barrett gains more experience, the playbook will open up and the offense may take off. 

For now, the best thing Ohio State and Barrett can say is they got the first week is behind them and the defense was able to lead the charge against a good Navy team.

It will be interesting to see how things change next week, if at all, with the Buckeyes playing Virginia Tech in prime time. That game is in Columbus, so Barrett will have the crowd in his corner. 

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Ohio State's Darron Lee Destroys Navy QB Keenan Reynolds

Though the college football season just began this week, we already have a nominee for one of the biggest hits of the year.

On Saturday, Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee plowed his way into the Navy backfield and completely leveled junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds. You can see another angle of the hit below.

As a redshirt freshman, that's one way for Lee to prove himself to his team.

[Instagram]

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Rice vs. Notre Dame: Live Score and Highlights

Notre Dame 31, Rice 10—Late 3rd Quarter

Football is back, and Notre Dame hosts Rice in a Week 1 matchup that has more storylines than one would have expected when this game was scheduled a few years ago.

This is the fifth meeting between these two teams, and the first since 1988.  Rice is 0-4 all-time against Notre Dame.  Can the Owls change their fortunes against the Irish today?

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Appalachian State's Simms McElfresh Makes Acrobatic Touchdown Catch vs. Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines have easily handled Appalachian State so far Saturday, but the Mountaineers were finally able to get on the board with this fantastic catch.

In the third quarter, wide receiver Simms McElfresh made this terrific acrobatic grab in the end zone for a touchdown, giving his team its first points of the game. 

The touchdown didn't make much of a difference, however, as the Wolverines still led 42-7.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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West Virginia vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

The Alabama Crimson Tide and West Virginia Mountaineers will soon take the field at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Last season, Alabama fell just shy of another national championship appearance, so Nick Saban and the Tide look to open 2014 on a winning note.

West Virginia crawled to a 4-8 finish in 2013, but quarterback Clint Trickett leads a hopeful Mountaineers squad under fourth-year head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Depending on your local listings, ABC or ESPN2 will carry the nonconference bout, which is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Bleacher Report will provide live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Arkansas vs. Auburn: Live Score and Highlights

The college football season in finally upon us, and the defending SEC champion Auburn Tigers are set to square off against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This will be the second Saturday game on the SEC Network, and kickoff time will be at 4 p.m.

Arkansas will look to bounce back from a disappointing season where it went 3-9, including a 0-8 mark in the SEC. The Razorbacks will be led by the running tandem of Johnathan Williams and Alex Collins.

Auburn lost key players Tre Mason, Greg Robinson and Dee Ford, but quarterback Nick Marshall returns and is coming off a season where he threw for nearly 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards.

Be sure to check back here when the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates, highlights and analysis.

 

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Cold Hard Fact for Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fact: Underdogs have won five of the last six games ESPN's College GameDay has attended. The only favorite to win? Florida St. in the national title game.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

 

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

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UCF Skydiver Completely Misses Stadium Before Game vs. Penn State in Ireland

The Penn State Nittany Lions and UCF Knights got the unique opportunity to play at Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday, but things didn't get off to a great start for Central Florida.

Before the game, both teams had skydivers land on the field. Unfortunately, UCF's skydiver completely missed the stadium. Things didn't get any better from there, as the Knights ended up losing 26-24 to Penn State.

[Instagram, h/t SB Nation]

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