NCAA Football News

Hawaii vs. Ohio State: Live Score and Highlights

Ohio State 7, Hawaii 0 — Early 2nd quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 1 Ohio State (1-0) and Hawaii (1-0). The Big Ten Network is televising the matchup live from Ohio Stadium.

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

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Georgia vs. Vanderbilt: Live Score and Highlights

Georgia 7, Vanderbilt 3. Currently in the Second Quarter.

Georgia leads Vanderbilt after a returning a punt for a score as the Commodores welcome the Bulldogs for the conference opener on CBS at 3:30 p.m. ET. 

Stay here for updates and live reaction throughout this contest. Feel free to join the discussion in the comments section below.

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Jim Harbaugh Throws Tantrum on Sideline over Roughing the Kicker Penalty

Different team, same Jim Harbaugh.

Late in the second quarter of Saturday's game against Oregon State, Michigan was called for roughing the kicker on a Beavers punt. That penalty gave Oregon State a chance to continue its drive rather than give Michigan the ball.

Harbaugh apparently didn't agree with the call, because he absolutely lost it on the sideline.

Just six quarters into his Wolverines gig, Harbaugh already has one memorable tantrum. Fortunately for the Michigan coach's health, the Beavers did not wind up scoring after getting a new life on the drive.

[Twitter, Vine]

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Vernon Adams Injury: Updates on Oregon QB's Finger and Return

University of Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. has sustained a finger injury that will leave him less than 100 percent heading into Saturday night's showdown with Michigan State. 

Continue for updates.

Adams Suffered Injury on Throwing Hand Saturday, Sept. 12

According to, Adams sustained an injury to the index finger on his right (throwing) hand during last week's win against Eastern Washington. 

The report also notes that Adams "has been icing his hand" throughout the week and plans to be on the field for Oregon in tonight's game at East Lansing, Michigan. 

Adams was originally injured in Week 1 after taking a nasty hit while sliding, though this is the first report of an injury to his finger coming from that particular hit. 

This is a tough pill to swallow for the Ducks, who are playing a huge road game against a top-five team and need to have Adams able to perform at the top of his game.

A dual threat with a strong arm and great speed, Adams' legs add another threat to an already solid Oregon running game that includes Royce Freeman and Kani Benoit in the backfield. 

Jeff Lockie, who relieved Adams when he left against Eastern Washington, could take over some of the duties while the Ducks' new quarterback recovers. 

The redshirt junior has come off the bench for the last two seasons and was prepared to do so again with Adams getting the starting job. Yet the perennial backup had the confidence of offensive coordinator Scott Frost even before Adams went down, per Tyson Alger of the Oregonian.

"Jeff's done an unbelievable job and I think he's more than capable of leading our football team to wherever we want to go," Frost said.

Adams is still in line to run this high-powered offense, but Lockie will be waiting in the wings if things don't go well. It could be much worse for Oregon, but Lockie has been with the program for a number of years and knows the system as well as any player.  

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Laremy Tunsil: Latest on Ole Miss LT's Investigation by NCAA, Potential Return

Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil will miss Saturday's game against Fresno State due to an ongoing NCAA investigation into his eligibility.

Continue for updates.

Rebels without Star Tackle for 2nd Straight Game Saturday, Sept. 12

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze confirmed Tunsil will sit out to Edward Aschoff of The Local Voice later posted an image of a joint statement made by Freeze and Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork:

The junior sat out the Rebels' 76-3 win over UT Martin last week as the governing body looks into claims Tunsil violated rules by meeting with agents.

Tunsil was arrested this summer on charges of domestic violence after an incident with his stepfather. Those charges have since been dismissed, but claims made by Lindsey Miller in the aftermath of the incident are at the heart of the NCAA's investigation. Miller made allegations that Tunsil's academic records were falsified by Ole Miss and that he received impermissible benefits from potential representatives

Freeze has said Tunsil will likely not play until he's cleared by the NCAA. 

"Whew, I don't know. That probably...I would have to be made to feel very comfortable about that, that our program is not at risk," Freeze said of potentially playing Tunsil, per Parrish Alford of the Sun Herald. "That would have to come from our administration above me."

Tunsil is considered one of college football's best offensive tackles and a surefire first-round draft pick. CBS Sports currently ranks him as the fifth-best player in the 2016 class. Obviously, the Rebels would be in a much better spot if he were in the lineup.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Jacksonville State vs. Auburn: Live Score and Highlights

Auburn 6, Jacksonville State 3 — Early 2nd Quarter

The sixth-ranked Auburn Tigers have taken to the Jordan-Hare Stadium field for the first time in 2015 hoping to set the tone for their upcoming SEC grind, as they face FCS foe Jacksonville State in an early afternoon contest.

As the Tigers hope to improve to 2-0 against the visiting Gamecocks in the two programs' first meeting on SEC Network, follow along below for live updates.

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South Florida vs. Florida State: Live Score and Highlights

Florida State 7 South Florida 7 - Halftime

The Seminoles are battling in-state foe South Florida on ESPN to kickoff the second Saturday of the college football season. Stay tuned for updates, commentary and analysis throughout the game.  

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Michigan vs. Oregon State: Live Score and Highlights

Oregon State 7, Michigan 3—Early 2nd Quarter

The Michigan Wolverines are hosting the Oregon State Beavers in a Saturday matinee.

ABC is broadcasting the matchup. Bleacher Report is providing scoring updates and analysis. Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section.

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Daily Fantasy College Football Week 2: DraftKings Last-Minute Picks and Advice

It's getting down to the wire, and your DraftKings college football lineup isn't set for Week 2.

Maybe you're late to the party and trying to finalize your first lineup, or perhaps you're tinkering before kickoff. Either way, you've sought out some last-minute advice—and you've come to the right place.

The following five players are scattered among the early, afternoon and night slates, and each one is entering a favorable situation to produce on Saturday.


Quarterback: Lamar Jackson, Louisville ($6,100)

When Louisville took the field for the season-opening showdown against Auburn, only Bobby Petrino and a select few were aware who would be the starting quarterback. Lamar Jackson threw an interception on the first play of the game and was quickly escorted to the bench.

But after Reggie Bonnafon struggled, Jackson entered and turned a few heads opposite a stout Auburn defense.

The true freshman led four scoring drives in the second half, finishing with 106 rushing yards and one touchdown as well as 100 passing yards.

Louisville takes on Houston this weekend, and Jackson is the unquestioned starter. At $6,100, the dual-threat quarterback is a terrific value play who boasts appealing upside.


Running Back: C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame ($5,200)

Notre Dame obliterated Texas last week, but the Irish suffered the biggest loss of the outing, too. Star running back Tarean Folston tore the ACL in his right knee and is out for the season. C.J. Prosise, who stepped in and tallied 98 yards on 20 attempts, is the clear-cut replacement.

He'll run behind a stellar offensive line—a unit that shouldn't have much trouble opening more running lanes against Virginia. The Cavaliers surrendered an even six yards per carry to Soso Jamabo and Paul Perkins last week.

Prosise's value will never be more appealing than at $5,200 on Saturday.


Running Back: Darik Dillard, Rice ($4,300)

Texas fans hope the defense comes out with something to prove, but Darik Dillard won't make it easy on the Longhorns.

Dillard started the year strong, picking up 93 yards and scoring twice while essentially only playing the first half. The junior running back enters the nonconference clash well-rested and ready to frustrate Texas.

Additionally, dual-threat quarterback Driphus Jackson will take some pressure off of Dillard, so the Longhorns cannot focus solely on the running back. Dillard will achieve necessary value with a mere 13 points—70 yards and one touchdown.


Wide Receiver: Courtland Sutton, SMU ($5,100)

Believe it or not, SMU has an offense. Yes, the Mustangs displayed a formidable attack in their season opener and put a decent scare into College Football Playoff contender Baylor.

While much of that credit goes to new head coach Chad Morris and versatile quarterback Matt Davis, redshirt freshman Courtland Sutton is a key to SMU's potential success. Sutton snagged a pair of touchdowns and was regularly targeted downfield.

At 6'4" and 215 pounds, Sutton is built to dominate lower-level opponents. Plus, though North Texas ranked 35th against the pass last season, the Mean Green must replace four key contributors in the secondary.

Morris wants SMU to play fast, and lots of snaps means a fair number of targets heading Sutton's away against a mediocre-at-best defensive backfield.


Wide Receiver: Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State ($5,000)

Oregon's offense is a force to be reckoned with, but the flashy uniforms won't stop Michigan State from lighting up the scoreboard. Eastern Washington, a Football Championship Subdivision program, shredded the Ducks for 438 yards and five touchdowns through the air.

Michigan State loves to pound the running game, and Madre London should have another strong outing. However, the Spartans receivers are certainly as talented as Eastern Washington's unit, while Connor Cook is easily a better quarterback than anything the Eagles have to offer. 

Who is Cook's favorite target? Well, that honor is headed in Aaron Burbridge's direction. The senior wideout snared four passes for 117 yards in MSU's opening game of 2015.

Burbridge is capable of repeating those numbers, and considering the combination of a weak defense and the amount of points expected Saturday night—67.5, per Odds Shark—he's in great position to add a touchdown, too.


Head over to DraftKings and sign up for daily fantasy college football today. Assemble your lineup to participate in contests with big cash prizes.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB and DFS Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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College Football Rankings 2015: Reviewing NCAA Week 2 Standings Before Saturday

Week 1 of the college football season was fun, but the second week will be when the really intriguing matchups start to roll out. Below, we'll take a final look back at the rankings after Week 1, along with previewing the top Week 2 matchups.





This weekend is going to be fun.

No. 5 Michigan State hosting No. 7 Oregon is the premier matchup, but we'll also get No. 14 LSU taking on No. 25 Mississippi State, and No. 19 Oklahoma visiting No. 23 Tennessee. Those three games stand out in a week when most of the top teams have pretty easy matchups.

No. 1 Ohio State shouldn't have any issues against Hawaii, while Alabama, TCU and Baylor all have soft opponents on deck. It's unlikely that the top four teams will change in next week's rankings.


No. 7 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan State

That fifth team could change, however. Michigan State holds on to the spot for now, but an explosive Oregon team that scored 61 points in its season debut against Eastern Washington represents a major test.

Oregon's defense looked shaky in its debut, however, giving up 42 points and 438 passing yards to an inferior opponent. Michigan State's defense, on the other hand, should be quite strong again this season, led by an excellent defensive line.

“Their base defense is not gonna change,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich told Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press, talking about the Spartans' aggressive press defense. “They’re unbelievable at how good they are at their base defense.”

Of course, offense is the bread and butter of Oregon, and new quarterback Vernon Adams will have his first major test in the place of last season's Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota. He'll lead a dangerous Oregon side, but it won't be enough, as Michigan State is the more balanced team, and the Spartans will have their revenge from a 46-27 loss against Oregon a year ago.


No. 14 LSU at No. 25 Mississippi State

LSU will be looking for some revenge against Mississippi State after the Bulldogs broke a 14-game losing streak against the Tigers last season. LSU has more talent overall, while the Bulldogs have both the talented Dak Prescott running the offense and home-field advantage in this contest. 

Prescott is the key. If he's allowed to rack up 373 yards of total offense like he did a year ago, the Tigers are going to have a hard time winning this game. But if the defense under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele can contain and frustrate Prescott, LSU should escape with a win.

For Mississippi State's defense, slowing down talented LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be vital. If Fournette is able to dominate on the ground, LSU will control this contest. Look for the Tigers to have their revenge.


No. 19 Oklahoma at No. 23 Tennessee

Finally, Oklahoma and Tennessee will clash, with the Volunteers looking to rebound from last season's 34-10 loss to the Sooners. 

This is a big game for Tennessee. It's an opportunity for a program that has really struggled in recent years to reassert itself on the national scene. This is a chance for the team to put the SEC East on notice, and it could be a transformative moment for the Vols.

"We're building our identity as a football team, and that's every day," Tennessee corner Cameron Sutton told Chris Low of "We respect and want to honor all those who came before us here and all those who made Tennessee what it is, and the way to do that is getting Tennessee back to where Tennessee should be."

Beating Oklahoma would be a big step in the right direction. Look for the Vols to make a major statement and pull out the win.


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Big Ten Football: Power Ranking Starting QBs Ahead of Week 2 Matchups

With one week of the college football season in the books, teams have gotten an idea what type of talent, leadership and upside they'll be getting from the starting quarterback position.

In the Big Ten, Week 1 performances told us there are both Heisman hopefuls (Cardale Jones) and dogs on a short leash (Perry Hills) heading into Week 2 matchups on Saturday. 

We ranked all 14 of the B1G's starting signal-callers—taking into consideration season-debut stats, opponents in the second week of games and any incoming expectations based on past performances. 

Keep in mind these rankings may not reflect where a quarterback's team stands in the conference as whole—but the talent, support and offensive contributors around each are important in determining where the passer ranks among his peers. 

So, without further ado, let's get to the rankings. 

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Travis Wilson Injury: Updates on Utah QB's Shoulder and Return

Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson suffered a shoulder injury during the team's game against the Utah State Aggies on Friday night.

Continue for updates.

Wilson Out for the Second Half Friday, September 11

Wilson injured his left shoulder while scrambling down the left sideline Friday night. After being hit low, the senior landed directly on his left shoulder and immediately showed that he was in pain.

ESPN 700's Bill Riley reported that Wilson would miss the second half. No timetable for a return has been announced.

KSL's Dave Noriega shared the replay of Wilson's injury:

The Pac-12 Networks showed Wilson returning to the sideline at the beginning of the third quarter:

A dual threat who can run as well as pass, Wilson has proved in the first two games of the season that he can be efficient. On the year, he is 33-of-45 for 284 yards through the air while adding another 102 yards rushing.

ESPN's David Lombardi noted that the timing of the injury was unfortunate, considering how well Wilson had been playing:

Wilson helped Utah make its way into the AP Top 25 in Week 2, nabbing the No. 24 spot after defeating Michigan 24-17 in the season opener. Now, Utah will have to rely on Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson to captain the offense.

Thompson has shown he can be an efficient quarterback and is capable of making some nice plays. He scrambled for a six-yard touchdown run to put Utah up 21-14 in the third quarter and will have to maintain a high level of play if he wants to continue the Utes' ascension among the nation's best teams. 


Stats courtesy of

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Baylor OC Kendal Briles, WR Coach Tate Wallis Suspended for NCAA Violation

The Baylor Bears will be without two coaches for Saturday's game against the Lamar Cardinals as offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and wide receivers coach Tate Wallis serve a suspension for violating NCAA rules. 

Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press reported the sanctions against Briles and Wallis, while Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports provided details behind the punishment:

Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated noted the investigation stemmed from a period in May when Briles and Wallis were accused of "impermissible contact with recruits at spring games and a track meet" near Dallas. 

Briles, who is the son of Baylor head coach Art Briles, is in his first season as the team's offensive coordinator after spending seven seasons with the program as an assistant. Wallis has been with the program for six seasons, with 2015 marking his first as wide receivers coach.

Baylor is ranked fourth in both the AP and coaches polls. The Bears have high expectations this season after going 11-2 last year, so finding a way to eliminate all distractions from the locker room now will benefit them in the long run.

Lamar, which is part of the Football Championship Subdivision, doesn't figure to provide a huge test for the Bears. Briles and Wallis will be able to accept their punishments and return to help Baylor possibly make a run at the national title.  

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SMU Football Coach Chad Morris Offers Students Free Rides to Class

SMU football coach Chad Morris was on the prowl for students in need of a lift to class—he offered handshakes and selfies, too.

Morris passed out Mustangs gear to the kids as they were chauffeured around the Dallas campus by way of a golf cart. The first-year head coach will repeat the gesture next week.


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SEC Football: Biggest Problem Facing Each Team in Week 2

This week the SEC set a record by having 10 schools ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, including the entire SEC West. One week into college football season, and outside of Ohio State, it looks as though the SEC will produce the nation’s best shot at a national title.

But not everything is made of gold in the Southeast. Our goal in this article is to outline each team’s biggest issue heading into Week 2.

Some of these issues may be nitpicking, while others might be significant concerns. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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Pac-12 Football: Top Social Buzz Ahead of Week 2 Action

The Pac-12 Conference had a less-than-stellar outing last week, at least in terms of typical Pac-12 success. 

That could change this week as the conference battles teams from the Mountain West and Big Ten.

Leading the hype train is No. 7 Oregon traveling to East Lansing to take on the No. 5-ranked Michigan State Spartans. This is a high-intensity matchup between two teams that are expected to make deep playoff runs. 

The game should be fun, indeed. But in order for the Spartans to stay alive in this game, they'll have to hold Oregon's offense to less—far less—than last week's team total of 485 rushing yards. Running back Royce Freeman's 180-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 1 certainly caught the attention of Bleacher Report NFL Analyst Matt Miller:

On the flip side, the Ducks did allow Eastern Washington to post 42 points. That may be why Oregon isn't favored in a game for the first time in years, as noted by's Kyle Austin:

Keep in mind, however, that the Spartans were anything but flawless last week against the Western Michigan Broncos. Michigan State gave up 365 yards through the air but held strong in its run defense, holding the Broncos to 18 total rushing yards. It's key for MSU to continue that effort against the Ducks. 

The Spartans offense, meanwhile, cruised to 452 total yards in the 37-24 victory. The unit will prove to be a stout challenge for Oregon, which is widely perceived as a one-dimensional, offensive powerhouse. 

Here are five keys to victory for both squads, as laid out by MSU alumnus Richard Mullen:

While Oregon and Michigan State in Saturday's prime-time slot is an electrifying game, many of this weekend's other matchups for Pac-12 teams are less compelling. 

The University of Idaho travels to the West Coast to take on USC in a game that's predicted to be a complete blowout. A note on the game's 43-point—yes, 43-point—spread, per USC Trojans Daily:

The UCLA Bruins will take on the UNLV Rebels of the Mountain West Conference Saturday, which shouldn't be too much trouble. The Bruins posted more than 500 total yards against Virginia last week, while the Rebels defense allowed even more than that against the Northern Illinois Huskies. This game shouldn't be close.

Among the more intriguing games between the Pac-12 and Mountain West teams is the San Diego State Aztecs taking on the Cal Golden Bears. 

Cal quarterback Jared Goff started the season hot last week against Grambling State, posting a 180.8 QB rating as he threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns in a 73-14 victory. Many experts are beginning to believe Goff is the next great NFL quarterback prospect, as captured by GoldenBlogs:

Goff's heralded decision-making, arm strength and footwork will go up against a Rocky Long-coached Aztecs defense which likes to employ various defensive fronts throughout the game. It relies heavily on confusion created by hybrid linebackers that can also act as pure defensive linemen. 

Whether or not that defense stands a chance against Goff remains to be seen, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Cal quarterback ends up with a second straight 300-yard passing performance. 

Five Pac-12 teams lost in Week 1, but considering an overall easier Week 2 schedule, it would be realistic to think only two or three will lose this weekend.

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Ole Miss' Best Recruiter: 5-Star QB Commit Shea Patterson

As good of a quarterback as he is, Shea Patterson may have a future in persuasive speaking.

When it comes to selling the Ole Miss program, few in the 2016 class have done it better than Patterson, the Rebels' 5-star commit and the nation's top-ranked overall quarterback. He was the ultimate salesman at The Opening, and he's continuing to give his pitches at IMG Academy to a long list of talented players.

For Patterson, it's all about selling the dream.

"I'm just telling them this is going to be a journey," said Patterson, ranked No. 4 overall in the 2016 class. "I think we can do something really special at Ole Miss and bring something back that hasn't been done."

Ole Miss claims three national championships in its 122-year history, the last coming in 1962. Patterson would love to be a part of the class that brings a national title back to Oxford after five decades.

The 2016 class, on paper, has potential to get it done. Ole Miss, with 19 commitments, currently has a top-10 national class with eight players who are at least 4-star caliber. Patterson is the only 5-star prospect, but he is very high on athletes such as wide receiver DeKaylin Metcalf, tight end Octavious Cooley, offensive tackle Bryce Mathews and running back Justin Connor on offense.

The Rebels still have room to add elite-level talent, and Patterson has been targeting a few players. Among them are 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta and 5-star offensive tackle Greg Little. Nauta, the nation's top-ranked tight end and Patterson's teammate at IMG, has schools like Georgia, Michigan, USC and TCU high on his list, but Patterson feels Ole Miss is a team in the running.

"I'm really close with him. I know he has so many options, but we have a great relationship," Patterson said of Nauta. "I think it's a good possibility with him."

Little has Ole Miss as one of his top-five schools. Deontay Anderson, 4-star safety, and 4-star athlete Devin White also have the Rebels high on their short lists.

One player to watch is 4-star wide receiver Drake Davis. A high school teammate of Patterson's, Davis—who has Ole Miss in the lead of his recruiting, ahead of LSU and Texas A&M—will always have a special connection with Patterson, as the two linked up in Texas last week to record Patterson's 100th career touchdown pass against DeSoto High School.

"That was awesome. I actually didn't even know I had two more to 100 until my dad reminded me [last Friday]," said Patterson, who started his high school career playing in south Texas. "To get [No. 100] and being back in Texas was awesome. To throw it to Drake made it that much more special. Every time we click, it's an envision of the future."

Davis would be a great fit in that offense because of his chemistry with Patterson. He's also an outstanding athlete, and he showed that athleticism against DeSoto with one of the best plays of the early 2015 high school season.

Patterson said he's not the kind of recruit who will pressure any athlete, but he knows who he wants and who can help the program in the future.

Now it's just a matter of doing his part to help seal the deal for those considered targets.

"I know they love Ole Miss, but I know they've all got a lot of options," Patterson said. "I can see all of them in the red and blue the next few years, though."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter @DamonSayles.


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LSU Football: New DC Kevin Steele Faces Tough Situation

He grew up in a football family that originally hailed from Prattville, Alabama, just north of Montgomery.

His father, Pete, was a football coach. Older brother Dale is now the director of football administration at East Carolina, and younger brother Jeff is an associate athletic director at Auburn.

But defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Kevin Steele’s long path to LSU really started in Dillon, South Carolina, where the family moved and where he met John Chavis.

They were high school teammates and later college roommates at Tennessee. Seemingly joined at the hip, they played for Johnny Majors and began their coaching careers with the coach as well, while developing a relationship between them that has been widely described as “like brothers.”

They still regularly talk on the phone and hang out together whenever possible, in addition to sharing family trips and vacations.

So when Chavis decided that it was time to move on to Texas A&M after six seasons at LSU, he pushed for Steele to be his replacement.

“They’re very similar,” LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith said, although he has yet to see the full transformation that Steele goes through on game days.

Meet the coach away from the football field, and it’s easy to see why he was once named Recruiter of the Year by Rivals (2005). Personable, friendly and sociable, Steele's the kind of person with whom you want to go fishing or maybe play a round of golf.

“He’s very outgoing,” said Vadal Alexander, with whom Steele made a point to talk every day during spring practices, even though the offensive lineman wasn’t one of his position players.

“He’s always optimistic, always upbeat.”

On the sideline, though, he’s as intense as it comes, and Steele has the resume to back it up.

He’s been a head coach (Baylor 1999-2002), worked in the NFL (Carolina Panthers 1995-98), and has been an assistant for legends like Bobby Bowden, Tom Osborne and Dom Capers.

You name a defensive scheme, and Steele has probably run it in some shape or form, and by moving around so much he’s developed a bit of reputation—albeit a bit unfairly—as a guy who always likes the next opportunity. 

Yet while Steele’s record as an assistant coach is considered top-notch, the same can't be said for his time as a coordinator or head coach. His teams at Baylor went just 9-36. When he was Alabama’s defensive coordinator, Steele was reassigned after a year to associate head coach and linebackers coach to make way for Kirby Smart.

In his time at Clemson, the Tigers were 13th in the nation in scoring defense in 2010, but that dropped to 81st the following season. In total defense, they went from 12th to 19th to 71st.

What essentially did him in was the 2012 Orange Bowl. Clemson had won its first Atlantic Coast Conference title in 20 years and earned its first major bowl appearance since 1981, only to be dismantled by West Virginia, 70-33.

The defense was torched for 589 yards and 63 points.

That led to the first time Steele tried to work for Les Miles at LSU, where his son Gordon was a graduate assistant (he’s now the offensive line coach and run-game coordinator at Murray State), but the move wasn’t allowed, according to the contract he signed with Clemson.

So Steele went back to Alabama, and for $200,000 became Nick Saban’s director of player personnel, which meant that he was responsible for organizing all recruiting efforts and assisting in the day-to-day administration of the football program.

In some ways it was a great fit, even if just a temporary one. Steele had already worked for Saban and not only understood his system and how he recruited but also how he wanted things done. Alabama was still trying to find a suitable replacement for Ed Marynowitz (2008-11, now the vice president of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles), and above all else, Steele is highly organized.

Actually, that’s an understatement. He’s known for being a meticulous, write-everything-down, attention-to-detail freak. Steele doesn’t just take extensive notes but color-coordinates his vast assortment of notebooks by subject.

Only Steele still had the coaching bug, and when Louisville called about becoming Bobby Petrino’s defensive coordinator last year, he listened but instead became the Crimson Tide’s interior linebackers coach for $700,000 a year.

That was until Chavis urged his friend to go after his old job.

“They’re getting a good coach who knows football and will coach the heck of the guys around him. A good guy,” said Alabama interior linebacker Reggie Ragland, who still regularly calls Steele. “I knew it was a business decision.”

LSU gave Steele a two-year contract paying him $1 million annually, which was a significant raise but also $300,000 less than what Chavis made in 2014. Steele is only signed through March 2017, while his predecessor had a three-year deal.

Steele's expected to run a similar defensive scheme, a flexible 4-3 base that should ease the transition for the players. So far, they say the changes aren’t too extreme, just some different checkdowns and terminology.

But last year LSU led the Southeastern Conference in pass defense and total defense and was second in scoring defense. Nationally, it was third, ninth and fifth, respectively.

That’s the standard Steele is being held to, and even he says, "They didn't bring me here to fix something."

“I can tell you that we've had some really talented teams in the last seven years or so and guys that have gone on to the NFL and played great,” Miles said. “... What I'm saying is that we would expect that that talent would continue and that we would have great defense—period.”

Should there be a drop-off, Steele will be blamed, pure and simple. If there’s not, a lot of credit will go to Chavis and new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.

That’s a tough situation for any coach to be in, even one with a good reputation.

“Overall, he’s a great man,” Beckwith said. “I’ve learned a lot in a short period of time, and it’s special working with him.

“He’s the real deal.”


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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How Michigan State Can Shut Down Oregon's Playmakers

Last year's Michigan State defense was led by the reigning Broyles Award winner at coordinator (Pat Narduzzi), a future first-round draft pick at cornerback (Trae Waynes) and an All-Big Ten first-teamer at safety (Kurtis Drummond), and yet it still allowed 46 points in a humbling loss at Oregon.

This year's defense loses all three of those leaders, and although it returns talent along the defensive line, it still has to play over its head—and way over how it played in Week 1—to win the rematch when the Ducks arrive in East Lansing this Saturday.

Sparty's most pressing issue is the depth of Oregon's playmakers. The Ducks lost Heisman quarterback Marcus Mariota to the NFL and running back Thomas Tyner to a knee injury, but Vernon Adams, Royce Freeman, Byron Marshall, Bralon Addison, Charles Nelson, Dwayne Stanford and potentially Devon Allen, along with a deep cast of younger players, will challenge the defense at every level.

Michigan State looked vulnerable in a 37-24 win at Western Michigan, allowing more than 360 passing yards, but it still has the talent to stop Oregon with the right execution of a game plan.

Here are three areas of focus.


Tackle in the Open Field

On paper, converted running back Riley Bullough, the younger brother of former inside linebacker Max Bullough, enjoyed a breakout first start at his brother's old position. The younger Bullough recorded nine tackles and three sacks against Western Michigan, earning Player of the Game honors from fans who voted online.

But a closer look at Saturday's game shows that Bullough, along with multiple Michigan State defenders, struggled to break down and tackle in the open field. The Spartans made plays in the backfield but allowed too many short gains to become medium gains and medium gains to become long ones.

"We just have to focus on each drive, where we are staying intense and we are staying confident," Bullough said, per Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press. "Myself, I missed a few tackles that I want back."

"[The tackles] will definitely be looked at more in depth in practice this week," safety RJ Williamson added, per quotes released by the school. "The key to doing all that is just leverage. You need to be out there focused and the way we play ball here at Michigan State if you miss a tackle there are 10 other guys running to the ball.

"You can’t be afraid to make a mistake."

Against most teams, that willingness to make mistakes forms a refreshing attitude. It's a big part of what makes this defense so great. But it's also what makes Oregon so nightmarish to prepare for.

The Ducks run an offense based on abusing teams who can't tackle. They isolate freak athletes on one defender, feed them in open space and punish the defense for big chunks of yardage. Those bubble screens and tunnel screens they're so famous for running would stop if those things didn't work.

MSU needs to rectify its tackling issues, and fast. Especially with Adams playing his first FBS defense since replacing Mariota, Oregon will depend early on short, high-percentage throws.

A young group of Spartan linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks needs to keep those receptions in front of them, maintain concentration as a gaggle of linemen pull into space and then finish plays with authority. If Bullough and his teammates leave as much laundry on the field as they did in Kalamazoo, they won't hold the Ducks under 40.


Control the Clock on Offense

The best way to slow Oregon's offense is to exert preventative measures. It can't score if it doesn't have the ball!

However, it is almost guaranteed to score if it gets the ball too quickly. Opponents can't afford to go three-and-out.

Michigan State learned this the hard way in the second half of last year's game at Autzen, when the Ducks scored touchdowns on three straight and four of five possessions to pull close, take the lead and eventually run away with the win. Here is the pattern of Oregon's offensive possessions matched with MSU's offensive possessions; see if you can spot the trend:

Michigan State scored on four straight possessions, three times forcing a punt immediately afterward. The one time it didn't came right before halftime, so that shouldn't be held against it.

Then, after one measly Oregon touchdown drive, the wheels unhinged, and the car hit the pavement. It went three-and-out in 69 seconds, followed by an Oregon touchdown, and then three-and-out in 105 seconds, followed another Oregon touchdown.

This is not a coincidence, nor is it by accident. It's how Oregon likes to attack. The beauty of playing at such a high tempo is the pressure forced on opponents to keep the ball. The last thing a tired defense needs is to come back on the field in five minutes.

Early down rushing efficiency from Madre London and true freshman LJ Scott will be pivotal. If the running backs gain decent chunks of yardage on first and second down, it will keep the offense out of 3rd-and-longs, which in turn will keep quarterback Connor Cook from having to do too much, which in turn will lead to more first downs, which in turn will lead to longer possessions, which in turn will keep the defense off of the field, which in turn will throw a wrench in Oregon's offense.


Keep Vernon Adams in the Pocket

Another glaring aspect of why Oregon beat Michigan State last season: Mariota was the best player on the field.

"It was there for the taking last year for Michigan State," writes Chris Fallica of ESPN Chalk. "Oregon survived only because of the brilliance of Mariota, who made play after play on third downs."

Adams lacks Mariota's size and experience at Oregon, but he is every bit the athlete as his predecessor. He can replicate the Houdini escapes Mariota used to beat MSU last season. And if you're thinking, "I'll believe it when I see it," kindly watch the video below:

It's not like Adams can't throw the ball. He actually possesses nice touch. But running is still his security blanket, what he turns to when he plays on instinct.

He is more likely to struggle from the pocket—something MSU's home crowd should help with—than break from the pocket and create on his own, with his legs churning and his eyes downfield.

Sparty needs to make him one-dimensional.

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What Happens If Jim Harbaugh Starts 0-2 at Michigan?

The most anticipated home debut of the 2015 college football season won't even be the biggest event in the state of Michigan on Saturday. 

Jim Harbaugh will coach his first game for Michigan in the Big House against Oregon State. It'll be the first time Harbaugh has been on the Wolverines' home sideline since 1986, his senior year as the program's quarterback. What's at stake? Preventing an 0-2 start by beating a Beavers team that, in Week 1, had trouble putting away FCS Weber State. 

Meanwhile, about an hour or so northwest in East Lansing, Michigan State will host Oregon in a top-10 matchup meriting national attention and College Football Playoff discussions. Week 2 might be light on marquee games, but Oregon-Michigan State is more than worthy of getting the spotlight on ESPN's "College GameDay." 

Therein lies the biggest difference between Michigan and Michigan State. One is relevant because of its head coach. The other is relevant because it's a top-10 team. One of those situations can remain a talking point for only so long. The other has staying power. 

In short, Harbaugh has to win to make Michigan truly relevant again. It always has been and always will be that simple. He will win eventually, or so the general belief goes. How long it's expected to take, though, could depend on the Oregon State game. 

"There's a bad taste in our mouth when you lose a football game," Harbaugh said via Larry Lage of the Associated Press (h/t USA TODAY). "There's only one mouthwash for that, and that is winning a football game."

But what if Harbaugh, the miracle worker who turned Stanford into a national power and the San Francisco 49ers into a Super Bowl contender, starts 0-2?

Would there be panic? Probably some. A loss would mean Michigan might be beyond repair for 2015. 

Oregon State is nowhere near the toughest team on Michigan's schedule, not with BYU, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Ohio State and even Northwestern remaining. Few, if anyone, expected the Wolverines to make a Big Ten East title run in Year One under Harbaugh, but getting to a bowl game and securing an extra set of practices is both a reasonable and necessary goal. To achieve that, Michigan has to win games it's expected to win (or can win). As of Friday, Michigan is a two-touchdown favorite against the Beavers, according to If Michigan can't win games like these, what can it win?

Would there be a call for a change at quarterback? It depends on whether Jake Rudock shows any improvement from the Utah game in which he threw three picks. Nick Baumgardner of graded out Rudock side-by-side with Oregon State quarterback Seth Collins and gave Rudock the edge. In fact, Baumgardner gave Michigan the advantage in many of the position-by-position breakdowns. 

Would an 0-2 start cause people to question Harbaugh, though? Absolutely not. As desperate as Michigan's fanbase is for success, it also knows what it has on the sideline and that the program instantly got better the moment Harbaugh was hired. It would be extreme to call Year One a "throwaway season," but this also isn't really Harbaugh's team yet. The second recruiting class and season—2016, in this case—is when you begin to get a more accurate judgment of where things are headed. 

An 0-2 start would be uncharted territory for Harbaugh, however. Two consecutive losses to open a season has never happened in the 11 full years Harbaugh has been a head coach. For what it's worth, the consensus is that Michigan will win on Saturday. All of's staff, for example, is picking the Wolverines

The offense may be in need of an overhaul, but Michigan's defense is in a good place. And the cupboard is not completely bare. History shows Harbaugh is at his best from Week 1 to Week 2, and Oregon State is certainly beatable. Going 0-2 is possible, but the circumstances set up nicely for Harbaugh's Wolverines. 

Take it where you can get it. For Michigan, there will be more misery before there is none. That's just the state of the program. That's why a win over Oregon State, however routine it should be, would be so important. Even if for a day, it gives Michigan's fanbase a break from the torture. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes are cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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