NCAA Football News

Introducing Notre Dame's New Hero, Sophomore QB DeShone Kizer

From a hat to a helmet to a heave, DeShone Kizer rescued Notre Dame football from itself and the perils of early-season inadequacy.

The sophomore signal-caller stepped in with an emergency relief appearance that lifted the No. 9 Irish past Virginia, 34-27, on Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Standing on the sideline at Scott Stadium in his red camouflage baseball cap with the Notre Dame monogram, Kizer went about his backup quarterback duties as a redshirt sophomore, and starting quarterback Malik Zaire struggled to find his rhythm in the second half against Virginia.

But when Zaire’s right ankle got caught between a pair of Cavalier defenders and turned eyeballs away from screens across ND nation, Kizer, who grabbed the No. 2 quarterback job over highly touted true freshman Brandon Wimbush in the fall, shed the hat of the “Red Army” and readied for duty.

Kizer, who hails from Toledo, Ohio, and earned his first game experience with the Irish in the fourth quarter of Notre Dame's Week 1 drubbing of Texas, was needed.

Nearly a full quarter later, after Cavaliers quarterback Matt Johns picked apart Notre Dame’s defense and orchestrated a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that handed Virginia the 27-26 lead with a minute and 54 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, Kizer stood on the sideline, helmet by his side, shook hands with right tackle Mike McGlinchey and spoke to his offensive line before taking the field.

With three timeouts, 80 yards and a season of high expectations in play, Kizer went to work. He found Will Fuller on a comeback pattern for eight yards. Two incompletions later, he plunged four yards up the middle on 4th-and-2 and kept the Irish alive.

With the ball at Notre Dame’s 32, Kizer zipped a throw on a crossing route to Corey Robinson for 11 yards. Then, the big redshirt sophomore scrambled to his right, prolonged the play and dumped off an if-all-else-fails checkdown to C.J. Prosise across his body for 17 yards and legitimate hope.

Then, on 2nd-and-9 from Virginia’s 39-yard line with 20 seconds remaining, Kizer took the snap, and with his heels at midfield, he launched a gorgeous high-arcing throw down the left sideline into the waiting mitts of Fuller at the goal line for the go-ahead score.

Kizer streaked down the field, arms stretched high, to meet his teammates in the end zone. A few minutes later, Notre Dame cemented the 34-27 win over the Cavaliers to improve to 2-0.

As Zaire’s then-uncertain injury loomed—head coach Brian Kelly announced after the game that Zaire is out for the season with a fractured ankle—and Notre Dame’s defense lapsed, Kizer, along with Fuller, pulled through. The Irish fended off Virginia’s upset bid and escaped Charlottesville.

Of course, Kizer is now tasked with being more than a one-hit hero for Notre Dame. He’ll step into the starting role and direct the Irish in upcoming matchups against Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC and Stanford.

If Notre Dame is to stick true to its preseason script and chase a chance at the playoffs, Kizer will need to rise to the occasion—again.

The Irish have been down this road before. In 2012, some redshirt freshman starter named Everett Golson quarterbacked Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. Golson, though, wasn’t rushed into duty. And Kelly, when he was at Cincinnati in 2008, was forced to use five quarterbacks. All the Bearcats did was win 11 games and reach the Orange Bowl, setting the stage for Kelly's jump to South Bend a year later.

Those stories ended with trips to marquee games at the end of the season. Maybe Notre Dame's trek will end similarly in 2015. Maybe it won't.

But the story starts with a heroic heave by Kizer.


All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Alabama vs. Middle Tennessee: Game Grades, Analysis for the Crimson Tide

The No. 2 Crimson Tide made quick work of Middle Tennessee, shaking off a slow start to blow out the Blue Raiders by a 37-10 margin.

Led by its elite running backs and a defense that forced four turnovers, head coach Nick Saban's team mostly looked ready for next week's showdown with Ole Miss. However, the quarterbacks' performance should worry Saban heading into the toughest part of the season.

Passing Offense: Jacob Coker and Cooper Bateman were both unimpressive in this one. Coker's stats were greatly padded by a 68-yard shovel pass to Kenyan Drake, and his field vision left much to be desired. The same goes for Bateman, who also benefited from Drake's elusiveness and threw an interception that would've been returned 100 yards by an SEC defensive back. This grade is made mostly by Drake and tight end O.J. Howard.

Rushing Offense: It was a painfully slow start for Drake and Derrick Henry on the ground, but both picked it up considerably. Henry turned in his second-straight, three-touchdown performance, breaking loose in the second half to turn it into a blowout. Freshman Damien Harris showed off his vast array of tools in mop-up duty.

Passing Defense: Marlon Humphrey and Eddie Jackson each forced fumbles, and Cyrus Jones picked off a pass when the Tide began to surge in the second quarter. This group also started slow but asserted its will in frustrating MTSU quarterback Brent Stockstill into 4.1 yards per attempt.

Rushing Defense: The Blue Raiders averaged less than three yards per carry, and no player on the team ran for more than 30 yards. This group isn't 2011-good, but it'll get the job done.

Special Teams: The group blocked a punt for a safety, and the return game was solid throughout the afternoon. Calvin Ridley committed a catch interference, and Adam Griffith somehow managed to miss two more field goals.

Coaching: You would have liked to see the team come out a little faster. Once the second quarter hit, Saban got his guys playing sound football, and they predictably dominated. He has his hands full at quarterback, though, and might want to think about just committing to one guy to instill some confidence.

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LSU vs. Mississippi State: Live Score and Highlights

LSU 14, Mississippi State 6—Mid-3rd Quarter

No. 25 Mississippi State hosts 14th-ranked LSU in Starkville on Saturday night. 

You can watch the game live on ESPN, but make sure to stay right here for live scoring updates, detailed analysis and the best postgame coverage around.

You can find the official box score at

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Malik Zaire Injury Update: Notre Dame QB Out for Season with Fractured Ankle

Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire suffered a fractured ankle in the third quarter of the team's 34-27 win over Virginia on Saturday.

Continue for updates.

Injured Ankle Puts Zaire Out for Year Saturday, September 12

Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated reported Zaire's status, which will lead the Irish to lean on DeShone Kizer to run their offense.   

Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel alluded to how Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has dealt with a similar situation before:

Kizer was thrust into duty when Zaire went down and didn't provide an immediate spark. He did lead a game-winning drive and tossed a 39-yard touchdown strike to Will Fuller with 12 seconds left to secure the victory.

Based on how well Kizer performed in crunch time, it stands to reason he can get the job done under center. The quality of competition won't do Kizer any favors as the Irish return to South Bend, Indiana, next week to take on Georgia Tech.

The concept seems self-explanatory to a degree, but it will be key for Kizer to protect the football. Per Fighting Irish assistant PR representative Leigh Torbin, Notre Dame is a perfect 18-0 under Kelly when it doesn't commit a turnover.

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College Football Scores 2015: Key Players from Top 25 Teams' Week 2 Results

The second week of the college football season is not often associated with huge, season-changing upsets. Many teams are still establishing themselves, and the power teams that are often in the upper region of the AP Top 25 often schedule lesser teams that usually can't keep up with a top-tier opponent for 60 minutes.

That was supposed to be the case for No. 6 Auburn as it hosted the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. But the Tigers must not have forwarded the script to the visitors, because Jacksonville State held a 20-13 edge until the final minute of the fourth quarter.

That's when Auburn's Melvin Ray made a leaping 10-yard touchdown reception that allowed the Tigers to tie the score and send the game into overtime. Peyton Barber scored the winning touchdown on a four-yard run in overtime, ending the FCS opponent's bid for an upset.

Few expected No. 9 Notre Dame to have any issues when the Fighting Irish traveled to Virginia to play the Cavaliers. However, the Irish found themselves trailing 27-26 with 1:54 remaining when running back Albert Reid pounded into the end zone from one yard out.

It looked bleak for Notre Dame, especially with quarterback Malik Zaire out of the game after he was carted off with an ankle injury in the third quarter. On the final drive, Notre Dame pulled out a 34-27 triumph when backup quarterback DeShone Kizer threw a 39-yard TD pass to Will Fuller with 12 seconds remaining.

After the game, Irish coach Brian Kelly revealed that Zaire had fractured his ankle and would be out for the season.

Top-rated Ohio State had an easy time of it against Hawaii. The Buckeyes hosted and overpowered the Rainbow Warriors 38-0. Quarterback Cardale Jones made his first start at Ohio Stadium and was ordinary (12-of-18 for 111 yards), but Heisman Trophy candidate Ezekiel Elliott dazzled with 27 carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 2 Alabama had little trouble in its 37-10 triumph over Middle Tennessee. While a 27-point win over the Blue Raiders won't impress head coach Nick Saban, running back Derrick Henry gained 96 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns.

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: 18-of-27, 285 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

There were no dramatics in TCU's 70-7 rout of Stephen F. Austin. However, the victory was notable because Trevone Boykin showed off his powerful arm and quick release in throwing for 285 yards and four touchdowns. 

The Horned Frogs jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and that's when Boykin took over. He fired three TD passes in a span of five minutes, 23 seconds bridging the first and second quarters.

While Boykin won't win the Heisman Trophy in one-sided victories against overmatched opponents, he showed off his ability to string touchdowns together quickly, and that's one of the reasons he is likely to be a major factor in the award race throughout the season.

Trevone Boykin: 60 career passing touchdowns, joining Andy Dalton (71) as the only players to reach that threshold in TCU history. #SFAvsTCU

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 12, 2015


Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: 19 carries for 189 yards

The Georgia Bulldogs went on the road to play their first SEC opponent of the season and rolled to a 31-14 victory.

The 10th-ranked Bulldogs may have some work to do with their passing game if they are going to climb higher in the rankings, but it's difficult to find fault with their running attack. Nick Chubb is the best of their stable, and he torched the Commodores with his power and agility.

Chubb finished the game with an average of 9.9 yards per carry, and he had a long run of 68 yards. While he did not make it into the end zone, Vanderbilt had no way to control his explosive running.

68-yard run by Nick Chubb gets Dogs into Vandy territory. stepped out on 23.

— AJC UGA (@ChipTowersAJC) September 12, 2015


Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss: 20-of-25, 346 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT

The Rebels wasted no time in letting Fresno State know there was no chance for an upset as they jumped out to a huge first-quarter lead before running away to a 73-21 victory.

Ole Miss broke 70 points for the second consecutive week, and Chad Kelly was razor-sharp in leading the offense. He won a close three-man race for the No. 1 quarterback position, and head coach Hugh Freeze has apparently made the correct decision.

Kelly has been decisive, consistent and explosive in the pocket for the Rebels. He is the nephew of former Buffalo Bill quarterback Jim Kelly.

Chad Kelly becomes 1st SEC QB since Johnny Manziel in 2012 to be responsible for five touchdowns in a half.

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 12, 2015

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Notre Dame vs. Virginia: Game Grades, Analysis for the Fighting Irish

Notre Dame escaped the upset bid by Virginia thanks to a touchdown reception by Will Fuller with just 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.  But it was the quarterback who threw the ball—DeShone Kizer—who was the surprise of the day in the 34-27 win.

Starting quarterback Malik Zaire was lost in the third quarter to what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.  While the Notre Dame faithful held its collective breath, Virginia continued to put pressure on the Irish, eventually retaking the lead with just less than two minutes remaining in the game.

It was the inexperienced sophomore Kizer who led the Irish down the field for the game-winning touchdown, and he's just one piece in Saturday's puzzle of Notre Dame's game grades.

Here is the box score, via

Notre Dame Pass Offense

Zaire put together a middling performance—at best—in the first half, completing just five of his 13 passes for 45 yards.  We hate to hand out such a low first-half grade to a guy who may have seen his last action of the season, but a C-minus might be as generous as we can be, all things considered.

Things picked up—both for Zaire, until his injury, and for his replacement Kizer—in the second half, and combined, the two Irish slingers finished with 207 yards and three passing touchdowns on a 15-of-30 performance.

Fuller continued to showcase his amazing speed and catching ability, hauling in five receptions for a whopping 124 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 39-yard grab in the waning seconds.


Notre Dame Run Offense

If you though last week's loss of starting rusher Tarean Folston spelled doom for the Notre Dame running attack, you obviously weren't considering what C.J. Prosise brings to the table at halfback.

Prosise gashed the UVA defense to the tune of 155 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.  The team as a whole finished with 253 yards on the ground.

While we were definitely impressed with Prosise, we do still have some concerns with Notre Dame's ability to pick up short yardage on the ground on third down.  Notre Dame was 0-of-10 on third-down conversions, many of them four yards or fewer.  Moving forward, those conversions will be a required part of any path to victory.


Notre Dame Pass Defense

It's hard to look at Virginia quarterback Matt Johns' passing performance (26-of-38 for 289 yards and two touchdowns) and get excited if you're a Notre Dame fan.  Despite absolutely shutting down Texas, the Irish looked completely lost, at times, in the secondary.  Johns was efficient at picking apart the defense, at one point completing 10 straight throws during the second and third quarters.

The Irish did a nice job of limiting yards after catch, but allowing a whole range of intermediate passes over the middle is definitely going to upset the defensive coaching staff when they review film of this outing.

A bring spot in the passing game was, not surprisingly, the pass rush. Notre Dame's front seven is capable of matching up against any offensive front in the nation, and not every quarterback will be as capable under constant pressure as Johns was on Saturday.

Still, an impressive effort from the front seven isn't enough to inspire us to hand out any awards.


Notre Dame Run Defense

Somewhat surprisingly, Virginia had a much easier time running on the Notre Dame defense than Texas did a week ago.

After limiting the Longhorns to just 60 ground yards, Notre Dame gave up 127 on 30 UVA attempts (a not-so-good 4.2 yards-per-carry average).

As mentioned, Notre Dame's front seven is stout.  The run defense doesn't appear to be a weak link in the team's armor.  And with playmakers such as Sheldon Day continuing to prowl the opposition's backfield, Notre Dame's run defense remains in good hands.


Notre Dame Special Teams

From a Notre Dame standpoint, Saturday was a good day for the special teams.  The unreliable kicking game came through with a 2-of-3 performance from Justin Yoon on field goals, and C.J. Sanders delivered in the punt-return department (including a nice 30-yard return in the second half).

The Irish also averaged better than 55 yards per punt on Tyler Newsome's four punts.


Notre Dame Coaching

It's hard to lean on a guy who has just been thrown into the starting role at any position but particularly when that position is running back.  That being said, Prosise appears to have all of the tools necessary to come up with big plays when called upon.

So why didn't Brian Kelly call upon him more often in critical 3rd-and-short situations?

Kelly clearly didn't have a problem leaning on Kizer for a game-winning drive (not that Kelly had much of a choice).

All things considered, Kelly did a fine job of keeping his team in the game after the loss of its leader, Zaire—even if it took better than a quarter to shake it off.  Good coaches find a way to win, regardless of the situation, and Kelly reached deep into his tool chest to find the right combination of players and play calls to eke out a victory.

Further down the line, that could present problems.  But for Saturday, it resulted in a win.


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

Follow Bleacher Report's National College Football Featured Columnist David Luther on Twitter.

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There's No Doubt TCU QB Trevone Boykin Is 2015 Heisman Front-Runner

Last year's biggest snub from the Heisman Trophy presentation in the Big Apple is undoubtedly this season's early Heisman candidate. 

TCU Horned Frogs gunslinger Trevone Boykin had a monstrous day against Stephen F. Austin in Week 2 with 285 yards and four touchdowns on 18-of-27 passing. Keep in mind, he was removed midway through the third quarter as the Horned Frogs had the game well in hand. They eventually won 70-7.

That performance is fresh off a Week 1 victory against a pesky Minnesota squad in which Boykin racked up 246 yards, added 92 more on the ground and scored two total touchdowns. 

Boykin is the most electrifying playmaker of any team in the Top Five. And yes, that includes the roster full of joystick stars on Ohio State's roster. 

On Saturday, he joined a club only accompanied by Andy Dalton by becoming the second player in TCU history to throw for 60 touchdowns, per ESPN Stats and Info:

What makes Boykin so dynamic is his versatility. Not only is he so athletic that the Horned Frogs once had him listed as a wide receiver on their depth chart, but he is also comfortable in the pocket and can be the traditional, pro-style quarterback when called upon. That was on full display with Boykin's third touchdown pass of the day against Stephen F. Austin:

What's working in Boykin's favor so far is essentially the lack of a developed field, although he would likely deserve to be at the head of the pack regardless. 

Among the other early Heisman contenders are Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, his receiver Braxton Miller, Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire, Georgia running back Nick Chubb and Baylor quarterback Seth Russell. 

The constant on that list is that none of those guys is proven throughout the course of a full season. Yes, Jones won a national title last year, which puts him at No. 2 behind Boykin. But with the 2015 campaign still in its infancy, experience and past successes over the course of entire seasons still carry a bit of weight. 

To add context to that argument, Boykin broke 9,000 career yards of total offense on Saturday and is the nation's leader in that category:

Looking deeper at the other candidates, let's say we live in a world where all those players end up in New York City. Miller and Jones could steal votes away from each other. Chubb's Bulldogs likely won't be contenders in the jam-packed SEC, which hurts his chances. 

Finally, and unfortunately, Zaire could be dealing with a serious injury after being carted off in Notre Dame's Week 2 contest against Virginia. 

On the flip side, Boykin is a healthy signal-caller in a Power Five conference that is known for its high-flying offenses (see Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State). 

The only true competition he might have is Baylor's Russell, and voters have shied away from Baylor gunslingers recently, as they're starting to be perceived as "system quarterbacks." 

There will also be a litmus test—a head-to-head matchup on Friday, Nov. 27—to settle that argument. 

Boykin has become almost stoic in his approach week in and week out. He shows up, shows out and gets out. Most times with a win. 

According to Frogs O' War, that's exactly what TCU head coach Gary Patterson took away from Saturday's blowout win:

The true Heisman field has yet to settle itself, as the season is still young. But for now, Boykin is head and shoulders above the competition as the current Heisman favorite. 

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Ole Miss Offense on Fire Right Now, but How Will It Fare vs. Alabama Next Week?

Someone forgot to tell Ole Miss that it was "Sluggish Saturday" in college football—especially in the SEC.

On the same Week 2 afternoon that saw Auburn narrowly avoid a devastating loss to FCS foe Jacksonville State and a handful of league teams get off to slow starts, the Rebels played their best offensive ball in school history.

Ole Miss' 73-21 beatdown of Fresno State in Oxford was a direct carryover from last week's 76-3 trouncing of UT-Martin. Forget about another slow start for a SEC team. The Rebels broke program records Saturday.

The Rebels had 608 total yards against Fresno State, a team that went to a bowl game last season and played in the Mountain West Championship Game. Six different players found the end zone on offense, including do-it-all defensive star Robert Nkemdiche.

Hey, when you're firing on all cylinders offensively, everyone wants to get involved.

And Ole Miss' best-ever offensive groove couldn't come at a better time—leading right into next Saturday's road game against No. 2 Alabama.

The Crimson Tide will be an exponentially tougher defensive matchup than the ones from UT-Martin and Fresno State, of course.

But any preseason question one had about the Ole Miss offense has been answered emphatically in the first two games of the season.

In his first two career starts at Ole Miss, quarterback Chad Kelly has been a confident and extremely efficient replacement for Bo Wallace.

The Rebels saw both "Good Bo" and "Bad Bo" heading into the upset win over Alabama last season. He had 11 touchdown passes against Boise State, Vanderbilt, UL-Lafayette and Memphis, but he also had six interceptions.

Aside from an interception against UT-Martin, they've seen "Excellent Chad."

Kelly was on the money against Fresno State on Saturday, completing 20 of his 25 pass attempts for 346 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown, putting himself in elite SEC company at quarterback:

ESPN's Danny Kanell, a former quarterback himself, seemed impressed by the play of Ole Miss' offense Saturday with Kelly leading the way.

An in-form Kelly and a deep group of talented targets—nine players recorded receptions Saturday—will be key for the Rebels as they attack an Alabama defense that has its biggest question marks in the secondary.

An inconsistent Wallace threw for three touchdowns against the Tide last season after a shaky performance against Memphis the week before.

Even without star left tackle Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss hasn't allowed an opponent to sack Kelly yet. If that experienced line, with or without Tunsil's talents, can continue to keep Kelly upright as it heads into Tuscaloosa, the Rebels should be in fantastic shape.

The front five has also paved the way for some much-needed rushing success in the first two games of 2015.

Ole Miss averaged 9.39 yards per carry in the rout of UT-Martin last week. On Saturday, it averaged 6.3 yards against Fresno State.

Again, those two opponents can't even compare to Alabama's defensive front.

But it's worth noting that those two rushing performances have been some of Ole Miss' best in almost three years. According to, Ole Miss hasn't averaged more than six yards per carry in back-to-back games since 2007.

These first two games have been complete routs, but they've also served as momentum builders for an Ole Miss rushing attack that has averaged fewer than five yards per carry in each of the last four seasons.

On Nkemidche's one-yard touchdown rumble, Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal noted how strong the Ole Miss offensive line looked up front:

The Rebels will need to be able to move the chains on the ground away from home against Alabama. So far this season, they've shown excellent improvement in that category.

Next Saturday's epic rematch in Bryant-Denny Stadium will pit a pair of SEC West powerhouses that have recorded back-to-back emphatic victories to start the season as others have been less-than-impressive.

Alabama will be motivated in another one of Nick Saban's patented revenge games, and the defense will most likely be the best Kelly and the Rebels will face all season—especially after the Tide's strong performance against MTSU.

Playing in a hostile environment against the defending SEC champion is completely different from two massive nonconference routs inside the comfort of your own stadium.

But it's hard to head into Tuscaloosa with more momentum and more confidence than the Rebels offense.

With the way its uptempo offense is clicking and with the matchup problems it can cause Alabama once again, Ole Miss will be a trendy upset pick next Saturday.


All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Notre Dame vs. Virginia: Score, Highlights, Twitter Reaction for Near-Upset

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish's football season was nearly turned upside down Saturday, but they overcame a two-point halftime deficit to top Virginia in a gritty 34-27 victory.

Cavaliers quarterback Matt Johns orchestrated a 13-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Albert Reid's one-yard touchdown run with one minute and 54 seconds left in the game. That put Virginia up 27-26 and appeared to secure an upset in Charlottesville.

But Johns' counterpart, DeShone Kizer, stole the show. Filling in for an injured Malik Zaire, Kizer took a while to get acclimated to the high-stakes situation, but he saved his best for last in tossing a remarkable 39-yard TD pass to Will Fuller with 12 seconds on the clock.

Elite 11 had the footage of Kizer's magnificent throw:

ESPN Stats & Info highlighted how tremendous Fuller was as he also had a 59-yard trip to paydirt off a Zaire bomb at the 7:04 mark of the third quarter:     

CBS Sports CFB captured a perfect fan reaction to the Kizer-to-Fuller connection:

"We made a play when we needed to late. ... We made one more play at the end," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly to ABC afterward (h/t Bleacher Report's Mike Monaco), adding, "If Malik can't go, DeShone's gonna be the guy we're gonna rally around."

Zaire was in the process of leading a second-half surge for Notre Dame, which trailed 14-12 at the half. Unfortunately, he went down with a severe ankle injury toward the end of the third quarter. Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports weighed in on the situation as Zaire was carted off:

Although C.J. Prosise took a handoff and scored a 24-yard TD the play after Zaire went down to put Notre Dame up 26-14 with 54 seconds left in the third, the quarterback's absence deflated the Irish offense initially.

Zaire's replacement, Kizer, was hardly utilized prior to the final drive. The Irish had no choice but to hope he would turn it on—and he did. Kizer extended plays with his feet and made the timely TD pass to save Notre Dame's year for now.

ESPN's Trent Dilfer had kind things to say regarding how composed Kizer remained under the extraordinary circumstances:

Prosise did well taking over feature back duties, gashing Virginia for 155 yards rushing on 17 carries.

After a season-opening 38-3 romp over the Texas Longhorns to move up to No. 9 in the Associated Press poll, Notre Dame saved itself from being bounced from the College Football Playoff picture. If Zaire is unable to return reasonably soon, the Irish will have to count on Kizer to build on his late-game heroics at Scott Stadium.

To Virginia's credit, it bounced back from a loss to another tough opponent in UCLA to start its 2015 campaign and could have easily won this contest. Johns held up well under intense pressure down the stretch and looks to be coming into his own in his second year under center for the Cavaliers.

A tough home matchup against Georgia Tech looms next for Notre Dame. The Irish had enough trouble against an unranked opponent Saturday and will face the unenviable challenge of stopping the Yellow Jackets' prolific rushing attack while dealing with an uncertain situation under center.

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Oregon vs. Michigan State: Live Score and Highlights

The first game of the season with significant College Football Playoff implications is set to take place in Spartan Stadium as No. 5 Michigan State hosts No. 7 Oregon in a prime-time showdown.

The Spartans are looking for revenge after last year’s disappointing loss, when they traveled to Eugene and got bulldozed by Oregon in the second half before falling 46-27. The Spartans are the more experienced team this time around, returning 14 starters to Oregon’s 12, and they’ll have the benefit of home-field advantage tonight.

Will Michigan State get even, or will Oregon once again be too much to handle? We’ll find out when game action kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

We’ll be watching the matchup, providing live analysis as the action unfolds.

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Vernon Hargreaves III Injury: Updates on Florida Star's Knee and Return

Head coach Jim McElwain hopes to spur a major turnaround for the Florida Gators in 2015. His job got a little harder after an injury to Vernon Hargreaves III.

Continue for updates.

Hargreaves to Miss Saturday's Game Saturday, Sept. 12

According to Mark Long of the Associated Press, the standout cornerback will be unavailable for the Gators as he deals with a knee injury. Florida subsequently confirmed the injury, announcing Hargreaves picked up the issue during practice on Thursday.

Over the past couple of years, Hargreaves has grown into one of Florida's most important defensive players. He intercepted three passes in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He also led the SEC in pass breakups (13) in 2014.     

Hargreaves is the kind of defensive back who indirectly impacts a game when he isn't directly impacting it. Opposing quarterbacks shy away from throwing toward his side of the field to avoid courting disaster.

Losing Hargreaves is a blow to the Gators secondary and the defense as a whole.

His absence shouldn't severely damage Florida's chances of beating the East Carolina Pirates on Saturday, but the team will certainly need him when SEC play begins next week against the Kentucky Wildcats.

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Malik Zaire Injury: Updates on Notre Dame QB's Ankle and Return

Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire suffered a fractured ankle against Virginia, ending his season.

Continue for updates.

Zaire Out for Season After Injuring Ankle Saturday, Sept. 12

Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated reported the news on Zaire's ankle. 

Brett McMurphy of ESPN noted Zaire's status when he got hurt, saying he was unable to put weight on his injured ankle as he left the field. 

This is a serious blow for the Fighting Irish if Zaire is forced to miss extensive time. He started the Music City Bowl last season and led Notre Dame to a surprising 31-28 victory over LSU behind 12-of-15 passing for 96 yards, 96 rushing yards and two total touchdowns.

That ability to make plays with his arm and legs had Notre Dame fans thinking College Football Playoff entering the 2015 season. His speed alone puts pressure on opposing defenses, and he proved capable of beating secondaries with his arm during that bowl win.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports gave added context as to what Zaire's absence would mean:

Notre Dame currently sits at No. 9 in the Associated Press poll, and Keith Arnold of pointed out how imperative Zaire’s performance is to keeping this team among the nation’s best:

Ultimately, it’s probably unfair to say it, but Zaire will be the main factor in the Irish’s ability to make it to the four-team playoff. If he’s able to limit mistakes and trigger the running game, this team will be hard to stop. But if he plays like a first-year starter and struggles to get the passing attack started, it’ll be an opportunity lost.

Alas, the Fighting Irish will likely turn to DeShone Kizer until Zaire is ready to return to the field.

Kizer has the size at 6’5” and the athleticism to make plays with his legs and escape pressure in the pocket, and he boasts a strong arm when looking downfield. What’s more, Notre Dame has a loaded offensive line and a set of skill players who should take the pressure off of the backup.

C.J. Prosise and Tarean Folston figure to carry the load at running back, and few teams in the country can match the depth at wide receiver. Will Fuller tallied 1,094 receiving yards in 2014, and Corey Robinson, Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle are veteran playmakers who should give Kizer options if Fuller is covered.

Notre Dame has a number of impressive players on its offense, and Kizer boasts solid upside. But this is a team that had national championship aspirations at the start of the year largely because of Zaire’s potential.

They may stay afloat and finish with a solid record, but it is difficult to envision the Fighting Irish making the College Football Playoff without their starting quarterback if he misses significant time.

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Kentucky vs. South Carolina: Live Score and Highlights

South Carolina 7 Kentucky 7 - Early First Quarter

The Gamecocks are taking on the Wildcats on the SEC Network, so stay tuned for more updates, commentary and analysis throughout this divisional clash, and check out the box score on NCAA

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Oklahoma vs. Tennessee: Live Score and Highlights

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 19 Oklahoma and No. 23 Tennessee crash for a huge out-of-conference showdown in Neyland Stadium on Saturday. 

Check back here for all the live blogging action.


TENNESSEE 17, OKLAHOMA 3 3rd Quarter

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Michigan Offense Slowly but Surely Taking Shape Under Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh can check the "first win" box off his list of goals for his debut campaign with Michigan, as the Wolverines dispatched Oregon State 35-7 on Saturday in Ann Arbor. 

Michigan's offense didn't put up gaudy numbers, but it certainly found its rhythm as the game progressed. The Wolverines slowly and methodically broke down the Beavers, running for 225 yards and four touchdowns. De'Veon Smith led the charge with 126 yards and three scores on 23 attempts (5.5 yards per carry).

Smith was the unquestioned workhorse for Michigan in its home opener, and his patience encapsulated the Wolverines' effort, per Geno Green of College Sports Overload: 

Michigan still experienced growing pains, though. Quarterback Jake Rudock finished with 180 yards and one interception on 18-of-26 passing. Harbaugh, however, blamed himself for the pick, as Michael Spath of reported: 

Perhaps the biggest sign of improvement came from Michigan's offensive line. Not only did the unit pave the way for Smith and Co., but Rudock was sacked just once. 

In the Wolverines' Week 1 loss to Utah, they had just 76 yards on the ground. 

Nick Baumgardner of MLive Media Group illustrated why stiffening up the front line of the offense was such a critical step for Michigan to take in Week 2: 

Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press noted that the offensive line and Smith fed off each other throughout the contest:

As a team, the Wolverines averaged 4.7 yards per carry against Oregon State, a far cry from the 2.6 they averaged against Utah. 

While Rudock didn't have a touchdown pass against the Beavers, he was far more poised under center. Against Utah, he had two scores but three picks. On Saturday, it was just the one interception—which Harbaugh didn't even blame on his signal-caller. 

Nearly every facet of Michigan's play in Week 2 was an upgrade from Week 1. The Wolverines improved their third-down efficiency from 37.5 percent (6-of-16) to 46.2 percent (6-of-13). They had one less turnover (two instead of three), and they won the game. 

Michigan, like it or not, is rebuilding. Saturday's win against Oregon State was a step toward a return to respectable status in the Big Ten. 

The Wolverines, however, also left points on the board early in the game. A slow start won't cut it against teams like Ohio State and Michigan State, two squads that ramp things up early and don't ever turn the pressure gauge down a notch.

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Vanderbilt Punter Can't Handle Snap, Puts on Jets and Gets 1st Down

Bad snaps often result in disaster for offenses, but on this play, Vanderbilt will live with the bad snap.

On 4th-and-10 from the Vanderbilt 37-yard line in Saturday's game against Georgia, Commodores punter Tommy Openshaw was unable to handle a low snap. So instead of trying to frantically punt the ball once he got control of it, he took off running—and got the first down.

Openshaw picked up 13 yards on the broken play and kept the drive alive. However, he would wind up having to punt the football later in the drive. 

[SEC on CBS]

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Auburn 1st 2015 Team to Show It's a Playoff Pretender

There's an old cliche in football that a team improves most between Weeks 1 and 2 of the season.

That's bad news for Auburn, because it didn't improve at all during its second game—a 27-20 overtime win over FCS Jacksonville State on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The same problems Auburn found out about itself in the 31-24 season-opening win over Louisville were present in the home opener on the Plains. Those issues nearly cost the No. 6 Tigers a loss and surely will knock them way down the Top 25 rankings—if they're even included at all.

As head coach Gus Malzahn noted, per James Crepea of, Auburn has a perfect sense of self now.

That's a bad thing.

Auburn is a team that has a quarterback in Jeremy Johnson who throws into coverage far too much, especially when he comes off his primary receiver and looks to option Nos. 2 and 3. He finished the afternoon 21-of-32 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. But his incompletions were awful, and the two interceptions he tossed were two of the worst decisions a quarterback can make.

Did Malzahn think about going to backup quarterback Sean White? No, according to Crepea:

Whether that was the right call during the game is up for debate, but there's no doubt it's the right call heading into the road trip to Baton Rouge next Saturday.

How much of a chance would White stand if he took his first career snaps in Death Valley in front of all of those raucous LSU fans?

Not much, especially since Johnson has been receiving first-team snaps since the conclusion of spring practice. If Malzahn is going to make a change, his best option is to wait until Auburn faces San Jose State on Oct. 3.

Defensively, Gamecock quarterback Eli Jenkins gashed the Tigers on the zone read. And they let him throw for 277 yards and a score after he threw for just 113 last week in a win over Chattanooga. 

Sure, the absence of starting safety Tray Matthews due to a shoulder injury and early ejection of starting nickel Blake Countess on a targeting call didn't help matters, and neither did the absence of starting "Buck" linebacker Carl Lawson.

But these Tigers looked exactly like they did last year at the back end of the defense. They weren't physical, didn't get their heads turned around when the ball was in the air and routinely gave up passing plays in chunks.

Auburn is a playoff pretender, plain and simple.

The defense should get better when some of its stars return to 100 percent, and that could happen as early as next week.

That won't be enough, though.

The beauty of the marriage between Malzahn and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp existed—yes, past tense—because Muschamp was supposed to be able to at least get Auburn's defense back on a competitive level with the rest of the SEC and provide a nice margin for error for Malzahn's typically potent offense.

The ingredients to that recipe simply aren't there right now.

Johnson is a liability, not a strength. The defense is banged up and can't stop even the most obvious zone-read plays when everybody knows what's coming. The secondary is susceptible to quarterbacks who aren't known as downfield threats.

That's not going to cut it in the push for the College Football Playoff, especially with a road trip to LSU and a home tilt with Mississippi State looming.

Until further notice, Auburn is the nation's first to prove that it's a playoff pretender.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Auburn vs. Jacksonville State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Tigers

The Auburn Tigers escaped one of the biggest upsets in college football history Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium, coming back to beat Jacksonville State 27-20 in an overtime thriller that has Auburn licking its wounds entering the SEC slate.

It took miraculous late-game plays from guys on both sides of the ball to get the victory over an FCS opponent, which is a bare indication of just how poorly Auburn performed overall. Let's look at the squad unit by unit and rate how things went. It's not pretty.

Pass Offense: The Tigers better hope quarterback Jeremy Johnson is getting the interceptions out of the way early this season. He threw two Saturday to up his tally to five, both of which were shockingly bad reads. He did enough to force overtime by hitting Melvin Ray with 39 seconds left, but the magnifying glass is directly on Johnson entering SEC play.

Run Offense: Peyton Barber looks like the guy for the early part of this season. With Kerryon Johnson getting two carries and Roc Thomas completely ineffective, Barber carried 23 times for 125 yards and the game-winning touchdown. His runs were the only thing that kept the Auburn offense going through its key touchdown drives.

Pass Defense: Where do we begin? JSU quarterback Eli Jenkins threw for 185 first-half yards and finished with 277, while Ruben Gonzalez (eight catches, 101 yards) and Josh Barge (14 catches, 132 yards) had field days on simple jump balls and tight separations. Save for Johnathan "Rudy" Ford's big game, this was an atrocious outing.

Run Defense: Not to be outdone by the terrible secondary play was the withering away of Auburn's run defense, which allowed 161 yards on the ground. The Tigers' push up front flustered Jenkins at times, but running back Troymaine Pope (85 yards) still found room to roam.

Special Teams: Ford's 46-yard kickoff return showcased his ability but didn't result in points. Kicker Daniel Carson might be the team's best player through two games, hitting two field goals (including a 49-yarder). But head coach Gus Malzahn wasn't happy with a shank from Kevin Phillips that put pressure on Auburn's defense.

Coaching: Credit JSU's offense for drawing up a spectacular game plan, but it's head-scratching that big-money defensive coordinator Will Muschamp couldn't find a solution at halftime. More of the offensive woes came from lack of execution than bad coaching, and Malzahn made good on a poor game of offense by drawing up the game-tying drive.

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Florida State vs. South Florida: Game Grades, Analysis for Seminoles

Despite a nervous first half, Florida State broke through during the second to secure a 34-14 victory over in-state foe South Florida on Saturday afternoon at Doak Campbell Stadium. 

Star running back Dalvin Cook proved to be the game-changer many predicted, as he accounted for 266 yards and three touchdowns—including a tone-setting 74-yard score—setting the second highest mark in school history for rushing yards gained. 

Pass Offense: After starting 1-for-9 for six yards in the first half, QB transfer Everett Golson took command in the second as he put together consistent drives. For the day, he finished 14-for-26 for 163 yards and a top-tier score, threading the needle through two defenders. The poor start, however, contributed to South Florida's early scare, as containing Golson proved easy and allowed the Bulls' confidence. 

Rush Offense: From Florida State's perspective, the rush attack saved this game for the Seminoles as Cook accounted for a large majority of the offense in both halves, putting together multiple rushes over 20 yards and allowing the offensive line to wear down the upstart defense throughout the game. 

This is a great run by Cook of #FSU but this shouldn't have been a touchdown. POOR tackling by the Bulls #USFvsFSU

— Kyle Battle (@KayBeeSports) September 12, 2015

Pass Defense: Outside of a few broken coverages, including one for the Bulls' second touchdown, the pass defense played relatively well, allowing 125 yards on 12-for-24 passing with one interception by USF's Flowers. On the whole, the defense as a unit played well, giving the offense continuous chances while even earning a crucial red-zone turnover in the first half. 

Rush Defense: Despite South Florida RB Marlon Mack's reputation, the "landshark" FSU defense diligently worked to contain the USF ground attack to just 149 yards and no scores on the day. Outside of a few broken tackles and the like, the defense forced USF outside of its comfort zone as it threw the ball downfield toward the talented FSU defensive backs. 

Special Teams: Unlike any other day, FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo was perfect with two field goals and multiple extra points. However, with the breaking of the ACC record for most consecutive extra points, Aguayo deserves some extra credit. Combined with a tone-setting 56-yard kickoff return to start the second half, the FSU special teams performed well above par for the win. 

Roberto Aguayo has now tied the ACC record with 160 consecutive extra points made.

— FSU Football (@FSU_Football) September 12, 2015

Coaching: Even with the first half's disappointing play, head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff performed on an unprecedented level in the second, resulting in a solid win against a quality in-state opponent. All credit goes to Fisher for creating the second half that allowed Florida State to pull away, but partial blame for the poor opening must fall into his lap as well. 

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Jacksonville State vs. Auburn: Score, Highlights, Reaction for Near-Upset

That heavy wind you are feeling is coming from fans in Jordan-Hare Stadium after watching the sixth-ranked Auburn Tigers steal a 27-20 overtime win over Jacksonville State. 

Even in victory, Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel noted how bad this looks for the once-mighty SEC West:

However, while doing it in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, Clay Travis of Fox Sports 1 was not so quick to dismiss this win for Auburn:

If miracles do exist, Auburn certainly benefited from one Saturday, because Jacksonville State had this game won. The Gamecocks led 20-13 and had the ball deep in its own territory with less than three minutes to play.

After Jacksonville State running back Troymaine Pope could muster only seven yards on three carries, punter Hamish MacInnes gave Auburn hope with a 17-yard kick that put the ball at the Gamecocks' 31-yard line. 

Even though Jacksonville State's defense was unable to hold Auburn on its next two drives—one in regulation, one in overtime—that one punt will be the defining moment of this game. 

ESPN's Anish Shroff tweeted out what everyone was feeling for MacInnes in the moments after his punt:

Auburn tied the game on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeremy Johnson to Melvin Ray and took the lead for good in overtime on Peyton Barber's four-yard run.  

On Jacksonville State's ensuing drive in overtime, the team got the ball down to Auburn's 5-yard line before Eli Jenkins was sacked and the day was saved, via ESPN:

To understand the magnitude of what would have happened if Auburn lost to Jacksonville State, let's turn to ESPN Stats & Info's football power index:

The last upset of this kind was Appalachian State going into Ann Arbor and knocking off a fifth-ranked Michigan team in 2007. 

Similar to that game from eight years ago, Jacksonville State fully earned the near-win. It was not handed to the Gamecocks by Auburn, though there were certainly mistakes made by the Tigers that will haunt them looking back on this season. 

To further illustrate the historical perspective of this near-upset, R.J. Bell of noted Jacksonville State was getting nearly five times the odds Buster Douglas got against Mike Tyson in 1990:

One hallmark of games involving schools from Power Five conferences and schools from smaller conferences or FCS schools is how much money is paid for the smaller school to essentially play the sacrificial lamb role. 

According to's Darren Rovell, Auburn gave Jacksonville State $525,000 to nearly end its chances at competing for a national championship. 

Some voters in the Top 25 polls, like Fox Sports' Joel Klatt, think Auburn has a lot of work to do if it wants to be back in the title picture after Saturday's performance:

Klatt's stance is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Tigers' game this week. They struggled last week in a 31-24 win over unranked Louisville, and LSU is on the schedule next week. 

Per ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said after Saturday's win his team has to fix things in a hurry:

While the story will be about Auburn nearly losing, give Jacksonville State credit for going into a game no one expected it to win and fighting as hard as it could. The Gamecocks just played perfectly for 58 minutes and needed two more to pull off the win. 

If nothing else, Auburn's near-loss continues to show the ridiculous nature of preseason polls. The Tigers may end the season as a Top 10 team, but nothing in their performance thus far warrants being among the elite teams in the country. 

With LSU and Mississippi State waiting in the wings, this season looks like it will fall apart before October for Malzahn's team. 

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