NCAA Football News

Southern Cal vs. Utah: Live Score and Highlights

Southern Cal 14, Utah 10 ; Mid 3rd Quarter

A massive Pac-12 South Division clash takes place Saturday night in Salt Lake City, as the No. 19 Utah Utes play host to the No. 20 Southern Cal Trojans. 

The game will begin at 10 p.m. ET. It can be seen on Fox Sports 1. 

Odds Shark has Southern Cal as a one-point favorite. A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com. 

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Trevone Boykin vs. Texas Tech: Stat Line, Heisman Impact and Reaction

Anyone who wasn't taking Trevone Boykin's Heisman candidacy seriously better start now.

The TCU quarterback continued his renaissance Saturday against Texas Tech, throwing for 433 passing yards and seven touchdowns through the air. In addition to setting a school record, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info, those seven scores matched his season output as a sophomore:

He didn't even need the entire game to produce those eye-popping numbers. After posting all those stats and 68 points through three quarters, Boykin basked in the glory from the sideline during the final period.

Following the 82-27 onslaught, the Horned Frogs are now 6-1, with their lone loss coming in a 61-58 shootout against Big 12 rival Baylor. Both schools are now fighting for positioning inside the Top 10 and for one of the four playoff spots.

Boykin capitalized on a feeble Texas Tech defense that has now surrendered 45 or more points four times this season. Still, 82 is a lot more 45. This game will teleport him into the heart of the Heisman race. How strong is his case, and can he remain at the forefront of the top contenders throughout the season?

Through seven games, the junior has 21 passing touchdowns and three interceptions, compiling consecutive 400-yard performances. The Dallas Morning News' Ryan Gerbosi analyzed the game's impact on Boykin's national outlook.

"Any whispers you heard about Trevone Boykin being considered for major awards in the last few weeks are about to turn into screams," Gerbosi said.

Nobody would have given the TCU signal-caller any thought to begin the season, but he has already tripled his touchdown tally from last year with five games left to go. Just last season, Boykin had to avoid a slew of criticism, per College GameDay's Chris Fowler:

Two weeks ago, before the peak of his breakout, Boykin described his progress to The Associated Press' Stephen Hawkins, via NCAA.com.

"I guess you can say I'm going in with a lot more confidence," Boykin said. "We're going in on a roll as a team, not just an offense. Right now we just have to click on all three phases, and my performance will be based on what the other 10 guys without the ball do, and my decision-making."

While he needs to be mentioned as a prominent threat, he's still not the favorite despite Saturday's outburst. As great as he's been, his 58.7 completion percentage is actually a slight downgrade from last season. Maybe it's picking hairs, but lofty standards are necessary when comparing him to the nation's top college football standouts.

While Dak Prescott didn't hurt his chances with 304 total yards and three touchdowns against Kentucky, he didn't bolster them either as it was one of his worst passing days of the season. Whether it's fair, Mississippi State's success will sway voters in Prescott's direction.

Unfortunately for both men, Marcus Mariota is still operating at another stratosphere. On Friday night, the junior tallied 362 total yards along with five passing touchdowns during a 59-41 victory over California.

Aside from his sterling 24-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Oregon's star also beats the other contenders in key efficiency measures, making him the most deserving quarterback by a sizable margin.

Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper, however, are also contenders in a stacked field. So one scintillating effort doesn't guarantee Boykin can remain in the discussion. But he's certainly a part of it right now, even though he still has ground to make up. 

Two stark tests await him over the next two weeks. First he'll face West Virginia, which limited Baylor to a season-low 27 points in an upset last weekend. After that, Kansas State awaits, averaging 29.3 points allowed per game after shutting out Texas.

Given his previous two seasons under center, simply emerging as one of the Heisman finalists would be considered a huge success story for Boykin. With a strong finish, that's a feasible goal.

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Josh Robinson Shows Mississippi State Offense Is More Than Just Dak Prescott

During Mississippi State’s unlikely rise to the top of the college football polls, junior quarterback Dak Prescott has become the face of the Bulldogs offense and one of the faces of college football.

With good reason too: Prescott is one of the game’s most dynamic players and a strong contender for the Heisman Trophy. But Saturday afternoon, junior tailback Josh Robinson showed that Prescott isn't the only one capable of carrying the offensive load for the Bulldogs.

While No. 1 Mississippi State was pushed by Kentucky in a 45-31 win, Robinson put together a career-high 198 rushing yards, including two of the best runs we’ve seen this season.

While Prescott had another solid game (216 passing yards on 18 of 33 attempts, one touchdown and one interception, plus 88 rushing yards and two rushing scores), he was clearly banged up after taking a helmet to his knee. That knock made him limp to the sidelines several times.

Saturday was a sign that Prescott doesn’t have to propel State’s offense forward all by himself.

Robinson entered as State’s leading rusher, and this marked his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. He had 197 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in the Bulldogs’ breakthrough 34-29 win at LSU.

On Saturday, the 5’9”, 215-pounder showed national viewers just what he can do if given the opportunity.

With the Bulldogs holding a 24-17 third-quarter lead and backed up inside their own 20, Robinson provided a spark. He was met in the backfield by a host of Kentucky defenders but cut back right and broke at least seven tackles on his way to a 22-yard gain. That sparked a quick drive that helped MSU push its lead back to two touchdowns.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had again cut the lead to a touchdown when Robinson struck once more, taking a 3rd-and-1 at the MSU 27 for a rumbling, demoralizing 73-yard touchdown run.

Robinson is a powerful, physical runner who is very tough for opposing linebackers to bring down—the perfect complement to Prescott’s power-running style, he told Gary Graves of the Associated Press. 

"It helps the offense so much,'' Prescott said. "It helps out the run game with myself and the passing game. They have to respect Josh on the run because I can potentially run as well.''

The Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0 SEC) still have games left at Top Five teams Alabama and Ole Miss. They’ll need a balanced, productive offense to survive those games and push for a College Football Playoff bid.
With Robinson in the fold, they have the running game necessary to do just that.

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Kentucky vs. Mississippi State: Game Grades, Analysis for Bulldogs and Wildcats

On the legs of Josh Robinson, the Mississippi Bulldogs were able to avoid the upset and defeat the upstart Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 45-31 on Saturday. 

The talented back rushed for 198 yards on only 23 carries. His ability to break tackles and make people miss in space was truly spectacular. He and Dak Prescott combined for 286 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. 

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles played exceptionally well in the losing effort. He went 24-of-43 for 390 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the Wildcats with 76 yards on the ground, in addition to two rushing touchdowns. 

A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com. Check out first-half and final game grades for the Bulldogs and Wildcats. Additional analysis for positional units will also be addressed. 

Mississippi State Bulldogs Analysis

Passing Offense

After starting 5-of-5, Prescott had some issues with accuracy. Credit Kentucky's defensive line for creating pressure. The presence of Bud Dupree did force an errant throw that led to an interception. Outside of a long completion to Robert Johnson, there wasn't much of an attempt to stretch the field vertically. 

On the day, Prescott finished an efficient 18-of-33 for 216 yards and a touchdown. 

 

Pass Defense

It wasn't a banner day for the unit. Heading into this contest, Mississippi State ranked dead last in defending against the pass. On Saturday, the secondary allowed 401 yards through the air. 

Two missed tackles led to a 67-yard touchdown. Kentucky also accrued pass plays of 55 and 58 yards. MSU attempted to press its corners up against the young UK receivers, but this didn't prove to be too effective. Simply put, it was a struggle. 

 

Rushing Offense

Mississippi State dominated the line of scrimmage up front on run plays. As a whole, the Bulldogs rushed for 326 yards on 51 carries. As mentioned above, Robinson was absolutely brilliant. Before the hit to Prescott's knee, the quarterback also had an impact rushing the football. He finished with 88 yards on the ground. 

The unit did have some problems in pass protection. Credit the staff for making some adjustments—which included chipping Dupree with a running back or tight end in order to slow down the elite defender. 

 

Rush Defense

The Mississippi State defensive line was dominant at times. Towles was sacked seven times on the afternoon. In terms of bottling up the Kentucky running backs, the Bulldogs held the group to only 27 yards on nine carries. 

MSU did get gashed at times by Kentucky's quarterback. The signal-caller picked up yards on both draws and scrambles. Outside of a 48-yard run by Towles, it was a great afternoon by the defensive front seven. 

 

Special Teams

A 42-yard miss by Logan Cooke was the only real blemish on the afternoon. It was a peculiar choice by the coaching staff to insert Cooke, after fellow kicker Evan Sobiesk nailed a 26-yard kick earlier in the game. 

The 61-yard onside kick return for touchdown by linebacker Christian Holmes iced the game for the Bulldogs. 

 

Coaching

Initially, the play-calling was a bit perplexing. MSU opted to throw the football to set up the run, and as a result, Prescott wasn't overly effective. However, the ground game became the focus in the second half. Unsurprisingly, the Bulldogs began to gain traction. 

It was a simple change in philosophy but one that was highly productive nonetheless. The decision to switch kickers was also a bit strange. 

In a statistic that can't be measured, the team demonstrated terrific resolve in winning the contest. The immense and newfound expectations placed on this team never became a burden. Similar to Dan Mullen's personality, the team remained calm, loose and determined.  

Kentucky Wildcats Analysis

Passing Offense

In terms of quarterback play, Towles was fantastic. He displayed not only great arm strength and accuracy but also toughness, grit and precision. Throwing for 390 yards against the No. 1 team in the country is no easy feat by any stretch.

Heading into next year, don't be surprised if Towles is considered one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC. 

The receivers had a mixed day—and Ryan Timmons was a great example. After making a big 55-yard reception late in the game, he followed the play up with two consecutive drops on the same drive. Towles' numbers would have been even more impressive, had it not been for four to five drops from his receivers. 

 

Pass Defense

For the most part, the unit was solid. MSU didn't look to pepper UK's secondary with throws down the field, but Kentucky also didn't allow a passing play longer than 36 yards. 

It did a good job of pressing the Bulldogs receivers at the line of scrimmage and also tackled relatively well. Elite receiver De'Runnya Wilson was held to only two catches for 30 yards. 

 

Rushing Offense

It was an anemic effort by the corps of running backs. Without Boom Williams, UK lacked an explosive athlete in the backfield. Braylon Heard and Jojo Kemp combined for only 27 yards on eight carries. Heard also fumbled deep in UK territory.

Towles was the most effective runner on the afternoon. He led the team with 76 yards on 23 carries. However, Kentucky's offensive line was manhandled up front for the majority of the afternoon. It wasn't able to adequately open up holes necessary for yardage outside of Towles calling his own number and scrambling.

 

Rush Defense

The unit gave up 326 yards of rushing. Any way one slices it, this simply wasn't good enough. Tackling (or lack thereof) was the biggest issue when defending versus Robinson and Prescott. MSU's dynamic duo broke myriad arm tackles. Kentucky didn't wrap up nearly well enough. 

Against the pass, it did get a decent rush. Dupree flashed his immense ability at times, and UK did an adequate job of initially getting after the quarterback. Once MSU prioritized the run game, Kentucky's front seven began to tire. 

 

Special Teams

The coverage was solid across the board. However, the kicking game left a lot to be desired. Kicker Austin MacGinnis missed one of his two field-goal attempts. He also had a poor onside kick attempt—which was returned 61 yards for a touchdown. 

Against the No. 1 team in the nation, these types of mistakes cannot happen if an underdog is to pull off the upset. 

 

Coaching

Credit Mark Stoops and his staff for devising a very good scheme. In this contest, it was a matter of MSU being the more talented, experienced and deeper football team. 

Offensively, the team was explosive. Outside of a few dropped passes, this game could have gone down to the wire. Defensively, the staff did a great job of mixing up looks and making things difficult for Prescott in the pocket.

It's plainly evident this program is on the right track. With its franchise quarterback in tow, there's no telling how good this team can be heading into the next two years—especially if Stoops continues to recruit at a high level.  

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Michigan vs. Michigan State: Game Grades, Analysis for Wolverines and Spartans

Brady Hoke has long praised his players' work ethic, practice habits and attitudes. He says that the Wolverines "work hard every day," but he's disappointed that they're not being rewarded for their labor. 

"We made some progress during the week, we thought, but we've got to go back to work," he said following Michigan's (3-5, 1-3) 35-11 loss to Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. 

The loss marked the sixth in the past seven series meetings. Hoke's 1-3 versus the Spartans. 

Long story short: Michigan State executed at the right times; Michigan did not. 

Let's take a look at the game grades on both sides. 

 

 

Passing Offense

UM: This section gets a "D" for Devin, both Gardner, the quarterback, and Funchess, the No. 1 receiver. 

Gardner avoided being sacked at every turn, but he completed just 15 of 30 passes for 121 yards and zero touchdowns. He threw two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six by Spartans DB R.J. Williamson. 

Funchess, Michigan's top weapon, had five catches for 64 yards, but none of them seemed to make much of a difference. 

MSU: In an effort to coordinate grades with initials, let's give Connor Cook a "C." OK, so it's not to match initials. That was a bad joke. However, Cook was indeed average Saturday. He didn't erupt for huge numbers, throwing for a modest 227 yards, a stat heavily aided by his 70-yard touchdown toss to Tony Lippett. 

 

Rushing Offense

UM: Same story, different week. There is no rushing game at Michigan. None. It gets a "D-" since its leading back was De'Veon Smith, who scored the Wolverines' first offensive touchdown versus Michigan State since 2011. The sophomore finished with a team-high 39 yards. 

MSU: Jeremy Langford's three touchdowns sunk Michigan. Like last year, he delivered a dagger late in the game that deflated any hopes of a Michigan comeback. He finished with 183 yards, the same total as Minnesota's David Cobb, who gashed the Wolverine defense earlier this year.

But more impressively, Langford's riding a streak of 12 consecutive 100-yard Big Ten games, breaking Curtis Enis' record set at Penn State in 1996 and 1997. 

The Spartans will get an "A" for running wild, but not too wild, over the Wolverines. It was a subtle take-down to the ground. 

 

Passing Defense

UM: Cook was decent, so that means the Wolverines weren't exactly on their A-game. But Jarrod Wilson and Jeremy Clark made a couple of key stops. Wilson recovered a fumble. Lippett was the only Spartans receiver to really do damage. 

But all things considered, the Wolverine secondary has now become a weakness. Forget about it being a strength. Michigan's corners, safeties and overall pass defense get a "D," which has been a common grade for the entire team this season. 

MSU: A pick-six by Williamson, holding Funchess to crumbs and not allowing Gardner to do much at all—Michigan State's DBs get a "B+" for the evening. 

 

Rushing Defense

UM: You know the score, just flip things around. Michigan State rushed very well, meaning that Michigan didn't defend very well. During his postgame presser, Hoke said that tackling was an issue that he plans to address this week in practice. 

Team 135's run defense had stood up to most before it met Langford...and then it cracked. It gets a "D."

MSU: The Spartans deserve an "A-" for holding Michigan to 65 net yards rushing. Doug Nussumeier, Michigan's offensive coordinator, may want to start checking the want ads. 

His offense is worse than that of Al Borges, who was fired after the 2013 season for having an offense that was better than this year's group. 

 

Special Teams

UM: Matt Wile made a 48-yard field goal. Dennis Norfleet danced a little bit, which now figures into the game grades, and the Will Hagerup punted well. A grade of "C" seems just fine. 

MSU: Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger hasn't been perfect. The Spartans are used to having kickers who are pretty close to that. Geiger missed his only attempt, a 36-yarder. Mike Sadler averaged 37.5 yards per punt and kept Michigan with a long field. 

The Spartans will get a "B" for special teams. 

 

Coaching

UM: Again, and this can't be stressed enough: Hoke's staff is failing the players, at least when you use winning football games as the standard from which to measure. He's gets an F for Saturday. 

MSU: Mark Dantonio's game plans work wonders versus the Big Ten, especially the Wolverines. He gets an A- for Saturday, but also for the fact that he owns Michigan. 

 

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

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Michigan State Destroys Michigan, but Are Spartans Ready for Ohio State?

Michigan State was not at its best against Michigan. But in 2014, "not-its-best" is good enough to beat the Spartans' in-state rival by 24 points, as they did, 35-11, on Saturday.

The Wolverines didn't score their first touchdown until the 3:40 mark of the fourth quarter, ending a touchdown-less streak against MSU that dated back to 2011. The streak spanned roughly 186 minutes of game time, per Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press:

"Now [our younger players] know what we talk about," said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio of the culture he's created for this rivalry, per Rexrode. "Now they know."

But let's be honest: The obvious personal factors aside—revenge, spite, little-brother syndrome, schadenfreude, etc.—Saturday's win was less about what Michigan State did to Michigan and more about what it might do for the rest of the Big Ten season.

Specifically, it was about whether MSU is ready for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes come to East Lansing Nov. 8 for a rematch of last year's Big Ten title game. And when they do, it's a fair bet to say that the Big Ten East will be on the line. If the winner of that game finishes the season with one loss, it will have either a decent, good or great argument for inclusion in the College Football Playoff, depending on what happens with the highly ranked teams in other conferences.

Despite the final score/stats from Saturday's win against Michigan, the Spartans have some work to do before the biggest game of their season in two weeks—or, at least one player has some work to do.

MSU won't beat the Buckeyes unless its quarterback, Connor Cook, can snap out of his moderate funk.

Cook's final stats from Saturday look decent (12 of 22 completions for 227 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions) but belie how much he struggled for the majority of the game.

His leadership was manifest when he plowed through safety Delano Hill on the Spartans' first possession—a hit that Bleacher Report's Michael Felder called a "baptism"—but his footwork, decision-making and accuracy lagged behind his intangible will to win.

Yes, the wind was a factor. But that doesn't excuse some of Cook's poorer throws. He overshot Tony Lippett across the middle on the first drive of the game and Aaron Burbridge on a deep ball that should have been a touchdown a few drives later. The wide-open misses continued well into the second half.

Against Michigan, Sparty could afford for Cook to leave points on the board.

Against Ohio State, it needs every single point it can get.

Cook made his name at the end of last season by playing his two best games in Michigan State's biggest: the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl. He followed suit with a gutsy performance at Oregon earlier this season, playing well in a 46-27 defeat.

But in MSU's two biggest games since the Oregon loss (home tilts with Nebraska and Michigan), Cook has been up-and-down. Not bad, but definitely not good. And definitely, definitely not great.

Cook was great when Michigan State beat Ohio State in Lucas Oil Stadium last season. On that day, he finished with 304 yards and three touchdowns. His 33-yard touchdown pass to Lippett looked a lot like what he was trying to do when he overshot Burbridge on Saturday:

Cook doesn't have a "get right" game between now and Nov. 8. He will take his first snap against Ohio State on the heels of his worst stretch of football since the early part of last season. He has not looked this bad for this long since he first "made the leap" for MSU.

The Spartans defense looked ready for Ohio State against Michigan, as it fed off strong performances from Marcus Rush, Shilique Calhoun, Taiwan Jones, Ed Davis, Darian Hicks and Kurtis Drummond to give Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner an appropriate East Lansing send-off.

The offense—for the most part—looked ready for the Buckeyes as well, supported by a road-grating offensive line and a great game from running back Jeremy Langford to finish with 446 total yards.

There are more positives than negatives to take away from Saturday's game, but that doesn't change the fact that the Spartan who looked the least ready for OSU is the most important player on the team.

So, is Michigan State ready for the Buckeyes? On aggregate, the answer is yes. And it just took a clear step in the right direction. But it can't afford to rest on its laurels during this upcoming bye week.

The Spartans need to get their leader back in sync.

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Vanderbilt vs. Missouri: Game Grades, Analysis for Commodores and Tigers

The Missouri Tigers defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 24-14 at Faurot Field Saturday evening. 

Both offenses played lethargic, and Missouri was called for an incredible 14 penalties for 100 yards, according to NCAA.com statistics

Despite the penalties and anemic offense, the Tigers did just enough to contain Vanderbilt's similarly ineffective offense, allowing only two sustained drives for the entire game. 

With the win, Missouri improves to 6-2 on the season, while the Commodores fall to 2-6. Nevertheless, Vanderbilt can take away some positives from the game—namely, that redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny McCrary looks like he may be the quarterback of the future in West End.

Here are the first-half and final game grades and analysis for both teams.

 

Vanderbilt Commodores Game Grades

Position UnitsFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade Passing Offense C- B- Pass Defense A B+ Rushing Offense D D Rush Defense F F Special Teams B B Coaching C D

Passing Offense

After a shaky start, redshirt freshman McCrary put together some solid drives for the Commodores and threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 17 of 31 attempts.

His first full game under center for the Commodores went well, and he may have locked up the starting position for the rest of the season based on his performance Saturday. 

 

Pass Defense

Maty Mauk was made almost completely ineffective in the first half by the Vanderbilt defense. He improved in the second half, but the Missouri passing threat never really took off despite Mauk throwing two touchdowns.

The Commodores started to allow more yards late in the game, but much of that was due to the defense simply tiring over the course of a long game where Missouri controlled the clock. 

 

Rushing Offense

It's hard to win football games in the SEC when teams rush for less than 50 positive yards, but that was the reality for the Commodores. In fact, Vanderbilt's ineffectiveness on the ground has been a prevailing theme for much of the season.

 

Rush Defense

Just as the Commodores couldn't get a rushing attack of their own going, the defense also couldn't stop Missouri's attack. The Tigers ran the ball at will all game, controlling the clock and piling up 244 total yards, including 58 from quarterback Mauk.

 

Special Teams

Vanderbilt never attempted a field goal, but the punting left a bit to be desired, with Colby Cooke averaging just 41.5 yards per punt. 

 

Coaching

Derek Mason and offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell had a good game plan to keep the Commodores within striking distance for much of the game, but Mason's decision to punt out of Vanderbilt's own end zone at the end of the game was questionable.

Yes, it was unlikely the Commodores would convert, but it showed a serious lack of confidence in McCrary and appeared to be a move designed to save face in terms of the final score. 

 

Missouri Tigers Game Grades

Position UnitsFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade Passing Offense D C+ Pass Defense B C+ Rushing Offense B A Rush Defense A A Special Teams C C Coaching D D

Passing Offense

Mauk was held in check through the air for most of the first half before starting to connect with his receivers in the second half.

However, it wasn't all to blame on Mauk, as he hit several wide open receivers who dropped would-be completions.

 

Pass Defense

After holding McCrary to few yards in the first half, the Tigers defense let up a bit in the second half as he passed for nearly 200 yards on the day.

The Missouri defensive backs couldn't contain tight end Steven Scheu, who caught six passes for 81 yards. 

 

Rushing Offense

Totaling 244 yards on the ground, including 58 by the quarterback, is an impressive stat no matter which defense a team is facing.

Overall, the Tigers' dominant running game helped the team control the clock and limit Vandy's chances at putting points on the board. 

 

Rush Defense

Vanderbilt's offensive line has struggled this year, and Missouri took advantage of it by limiting big runs and stuffing most attempts at the line of scrimmage. 

With less than 50 yards total rushing, the Commodores were forced to rely on their inexperienced quarterback to gain yards through the air.

 

Special Teams

A missed field goal and low punt average (40.5 yards) hurt this score for the Tigers.

Although Missouri was never truly threatened, the missed field goal was a bad shank that can't happen against better teams.

 

Coaching

It's hard to give a bad grade for a win, but committing 14 penalties is at least partially on the coaches.

That's an exceptionally high number of mental mistakes, and Gary Pinkel will have to address that in practice this week before the Tigers start to close out the season with their eyes on the SEC East crown. 

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West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State: Game Grades, Analysis for WVU and Cowboys

The final score wasn't very telling of how this game actually played out, as Oklahoma State had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys made great adjustments after getting down early 14-0, but they ultimately did not have enough offense in a 34-10 loss.

West Virginia is usually known for its passing attack, but it was the ground game that got going Saturday. The Mountaineers, led by Wendell Smallwood's 132 yards, rushed for 210 yards and one touchdown as a team.

The run game allowed them to control the ball for 33 minutes, 39 seconds of the game and helped them sustain drives with timely third-down conversions.

Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman looked good when he was in rhythm, but he was inaccurate in the second half.

You can find the full box score here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

 

Game Grades and Analysis for the West Virginia Mountaineers

Passing Offense

Saturday's game showed a national audience that West Virginia isn't your typical spread attack. The Mountaineers proved that they can run the ball effectively, but the passing offense played well also.

Clint Trickett finished the game 21-of-30 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin White, one of the nation's top receivers, was held to just 27 yards, but that didn't stop Trickett from having a good day.

 

Rushing Offense

Anyone who watched the performance by West Virginia's rushing attack Saturday had to be impressed. The Mountaineers went for 210 yards on 44 carries and controlled the line of scrimmage.

The effectiveness of the run game allowed the Mountaineers to control the ball for more than 33 minutes in this game and gave them balance on offense. West Virginia can be a dangerous team moving forward if the run game continues to be this productive.

 

Pass Defense

Oklahoma State was successful at times through the air, but the Mountaineers made plays when they had to. Garman threw for 242 yards and a touchdown, but the Cowboys also forced him into two interceptions.

 

Run Defense

The Cowboys had a few long runs and ended the day with 194 total yards on the ground. West Virginia could have done better against the run, but it received an average grade because it didn't allow Oklahoma State to consistently pound the ball on the ground.

Although the Cowboys finished with nearly 200 rushing yards, Oklahoma State didn't get a rushing touchdown in this game.

 

Special Teams

Josh Lambert was 2-of-2 on his kicks, and the punting was solid on Saturday. Punter Nick O'Toole averaged 41.1 yards per punt, and he pinned the Cowboys within the 20-yard line five times.

 

Coaching

West Virginia received an average grade for the first half because the coaches didn't make adjustments when Oklahoma State did. The Cowboys found a way to get pressure on Trickett, and the Mountaineers stalled out in the second quarter.

After halftime, however, the staff stuck with the running game, and it resulted in the offense controlling the ball for a big chunk of the second half. 

 

Game Grades and Analysis for the Oklahoma State Cowboys

Pass Offense

An array of short passes helped Oklahoma State move the ball through the air in the first half. The Cowboys looked well passing the ball on some drives, but Garman couldn't get much going in the second half.

 

Rushing Offense

West Virginia's success on the ground seemed to overshadow the positive things the Cowboys did running the ball.

Tyreek Hill finished with 78 yards despite playing through cramps, and Desmond Roland had 37 yards on 12 carries.

 

Pass Defense

In one aspect, one could applaud the effort by Oklahoma State's secondary in shutting down White, but overall, West Virginia wound up with good passing numbers.

Trickett threw for 238 yards, and the Cowboys secondary didn't force any interceptions.

 

Run Defense

The Mountaineers had their way on the ground, and the Cowboys couldn't get off the field on third down. West Virginia controlled the game because of the ability to run the ball, so the Cowboys didn't receive a good grade.

Oklahoma State's offense could have used some stops from its defense on third down, but that unit just couldn't get the ball back.

 

Special Teams

The punting in this game was phenomenal on both sides. Oklahoma State punter Kip Smith averaged 52.6 yards per punt and pinned four of those punts inside the 20-yard line. Ben Grogan missed a field goal, but the punting numbers still gave this team a solid grade.

 

Coaching

The coaching staff did an excellent job of slowing down West Virginia's offense in the second quarter, but ultimately the Mountaineers found ways to score points.

It's hard to blame a lot on coaching when a team has inexperienced players, so this staff deserved an average grade for the day.

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Justin Worley Injury: Updates on Tennessee QB's Shoulder and Return

Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley was ruled out shortly before the Volunteers' game against Alabama on Saturday after being a game-time decision all week with a shoulder injury.

Steve Peake of InsideTennessee.com reported the news, also adding Nathan Peterman got the start as expected. But after the Crimson Tide took an early 13-0 lead, the Vols wasted no time inserting sophomore dual-threat QB Joshua Dobbs on the team's third series.

Worley has been beaten and bruised all season behind an inexperienced Tennessee offensive line, which had given up 30 sacks in 2014 heading into Saturday. The next worst allowed in the SEC is 16.

The Vols burned Dobbs' redshirt on Saturday, and he could persuade Butch Jones to roll with him if he looks decent against Alabama for the second straight year. But it's unquestionable that the senior Worley—who has thrown for 1,579 yards and 12 touchdowns—gives the Vols the best chance to win when he's healthy. 

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College Football Scores 2014: Week 9 Results and Top Stars for Top 25 Teams

For the second straight week, Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott got a ton of help from his teammates. The No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs turned back a game Kentucky Wildcats squad on the road for a 45-31 win. The Bulldogs improved their record to 7-0 this season.

Prescott had a decent game with 216 passing yards, 88 on the ground and three total touchdowns, but his feature back stole the show.

Junior running back Josh Robinson ran for 198 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns to pace the Bulldogs' attack. Kentucky kept it close throughout. Mississippi State held only a 31-24 lead through three quarters, but a 73-yard touchdown run from Robinson broke it open in the fourth quarter.

Kentucky answered with a score with less than two minutes remaining in the game, but Mississippi State's Christian Holmes returned a disastrous onside kick attempt 61 yards to put the game away with a minute remaining.

The Bulldogs will remain No. 1 heading into a Week 10 battle with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

 

Ole Miss Falls

A stifling LSU Tigers defense shut down Bo Wallace and the Ole Miss offense. It wasn't pretty, but LSU pulled off the biggest upset of the day by defeating the No. 3 team in the nation 10-7.

Wallace was absolutely dreadful all night. He completed just 14 of 33 pass attempts for 176 yards, one touchdown and a very bad interception. With an opportunity to gain better field position for a potential game-tying field goal, Wallace fired an errant pass down the sidelines that was picked off.

From the reaction of head coach Hugh Freeze, it seemed obvious Wallace was supposed to throw the ball away or to a place where only his receiver could catch it. To make matters worse, Wallace left the field before the game was over.

Ole Miss will still have an opportunity to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff, but Saturday night was a tough evening. Here's a look at how all of the Top 25 teams did in the final game before the first official College Football Playoff rankings are revealed.

*Final scores will be included as games are completed on Saturday night.

 

Top Stars

Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks: 326 passing yards, 5 TDs

A five-touchdown performance is sure to keep Marcus Mariota at the forefront of the Heisman Trophy conversation. A continued rise back up the rankings doesn't hurt either. On Friday, Oregon knocked off the California Golden Bears 59-41 to move to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12.

Without major upsets this week, it's unlikely the Ducks will move up from No. 6, but there's still time for Mariota and Oregon to rise to the top.

Friday night's torching of the California Bears defense wasn't Mariota's most efficient game of the year. He only completed 18 of 30 attempts, but he did eclipse the 300-yard mark to accompany his handful of touchdown strikes.

With a showdown looming against rival Stanford next week, Mariota looks ready to help his team make a statement.

 

Justin Hardy, East Carolina Pirates: 14 receptions, 186 yards, TD

Quarterback Shane Carden did throw for 445 yards and two scores on Thursday night against the Connecticut Huskies, but his primary target was the real star. Hardy's 14 receptions gave him 327 in his career. The senior is just 23 receptions away from becoming the NCAA's all-time leader in catches.

That's a big deal. The Pirates defeated the Huskies 31-21 and continue to solidify their position as a Top 25 team.

The team is getting some deserved respect, but its star wideout is turning heads as well. Look for Hardy to become a hot name as the NFL draft approaches.

 

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska Cornhuskers: 19 rushes, 225 yards, 3 TD

The Cornhuskers star has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season, and he just keeps chugging along. On Saturday, Abdullah lit up the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for his fourth 200-yard rushing game of the season and his third game with at least three touchdowns.

He's had just two games all year without at least 100 yards rushing and only one without at least 150 yards of total offense. He's also found the end zone in every contest.

To go along with his 225 yards rushing, Abdullah also had 26 yards receiving and 90 in the return game. 

Heisman voters must take note of Abdullah's consistency and versatility.

 

Devon Johnson, Marshall Thundering Herd: 24 rushes, 272 yards, 4 TD

Usually quarterback Rakeem Cato gets the attention, but it was Johnson's dominant run performance on Sunday that helped Marshall push its record to 8-0. 

Johnson's 272 yards set a single-game rushing record for the school, and it proved Marshall can lean on its rushing attack to beat teams.

Against a Florida Atlantic defense hell bent on slowing the Thundering Herd's potent passing game, Johnson stepped up and delivered a huge game.

 

Jeremy Langford, Michigan State Spartans: 35 rushes, 177 yards, 3 TD

Talk about a workhorse back...Langford was just that on Saturday against the rival Michigan Wolverines. The 177 yards on the ground were a career high for Langford as the Spartans pounded the reeling Wolverines.

On the strength of the offensive line and Langford's legs, Michigan State outrushed Michigan 219-65 in the 35-11 rout.

 

Trevone Boykin, TCU Horned Frogs: 433 passing yards and 7 TD

It's not every day a kid throws seven touchdown passes in a game. In fact, it had never happened in the history of TCU football before Saturday.

Boykin absolutely torched the Texas Tech Red Raiders defense in a record-breaking performance in the Horned Frogs' 82-27 win. Coming into the game, Boykin had only 14 touchdown passes on the season. 

He grew that total by 50 percent in just one game.

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Kentucky Football: Wildcats May Have Found Gem in Patrick Towles

The Mississippi State-Kentucky game was destined to be a good one.  ESPN’s College GameDay traveled to Lexington for its renowned pregame show, and Dak Prescott, arguably the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, got all the headlines.

However, Kentucky showed on national television that its quarterback is pretty good too.  Patrick Towles made a big statement against the top-ranked team in the country, turning in a very productive outing against the stout MSU defense.

He outplayed Prescott, passing for 390 yards, rushing for 76 yards and accounting for four touchdowns as the Wildcats’ upset bid fell just short.  Playing from behind for most of the game, Towles put on a show.  He threw the ball with nearly pinpoint accuracy and surprisingly made terrific contributions on the ground.  He kept the Wildcats in the game all afternoon, but Mississippi State prevailed 45-21.

Towles averaged only about 18 rushing yards per game in the team’s first seven games of the season, but he took the team on his back in that regard against the Bulldogs.  He carried the ball a career-high 23 times, and the Kentucky running backs combined for only nine carries.

And while Prescott is known for his short-yardage prowess, Towles showed on Saturday that he is not too shabby in that facet of the game.  His two rushing touchdowns both came from inside the 10-yard line, and he displayed tough running on several occasions.

Towles also caught a pass on a trick play for good measure.  He is more athletic than he looks, and he is only a sophomore.  Another year and an offseason to develop and he could blossom into one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.

Kentucky continues to get better as well.  Mark Stoops has recruited very well in his first two seasons at the helm, and the Wildcats have already showed vast improvement despite being so bad for so long.  The players have grasped offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s schemes well, and Kentucky may be one of the league’s most productive offenses in the very near future.

If they do indeed take the next step, it will be thanks in large part to Towles.  This was his coming-out party, and if he can sustain this success, he has the necessary athletes around him to strike fear into opposing SEC defenses.

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Michigan vs. Michigan State: Score and Twitter Reaction

The little brother is all grown up now. And boy, does he keep beating up on the big brother.

For the sixth time in the past seven years, Michigan State defeated Michigan, hammering the Wolverines in the 2014 edition of the rivalry, 35-11. The Wolverines finally ended a streak of 11 quarters without a touchdown against the Spartans in garbage time, but the damage was long done by then. 

ESPN Stats and Information passes along a stat that will be beloved in East Lansing and loathed in Ann Arbor:

Behind a brilliant defensive effort (Michigan State forced three turnovers and held Michigan to 186 total yards), running back Jeremy Langford's huge afternoon (35 carries for 177 rushing yards and three touchdowns) and a steady performance from Connor Cook (12-of-22 with 227 passing yards, a passing touchdown and no turnovers), the Spartans dominated from the start and never looked back.

Michigan State set the tone early, receiving the opening kickoff and marching down the field. Langford capped off the eight-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge to give Sparty the lead. 

Much of the first half was a defensive struggle, but things heated up late. Michigan was finally able to get on the board with just over four minutes remaining in the half, as Jarrod Wilson forced a Josiah Price fumble at Michigan State's 31-yard line. Michigan couldn't gain a single yard on the subsequent drive, but Matt Wile bailed out the Wolverines, hitting a 48-yard field goal.

Michigan State wasn't about to offer Michigan a sliver of momentum, however. The Spartans promptly ripped off a nine-play, 73-yard drive capped by another Langford touchdown to take a 14-3 lead into the half. 

Suffice to say, the first 30 minutes were a Sparty-dominated affair. Just consider this stat from Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

Michigan's sputtering offense didn't provide a very entertaining product for the neutral fan, as Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network noted:

Michigan State's defense would continue its dominance in the third quarter. RJ Williamson would return a Devin Gardner interception 279 yards for a score, and the Spartans would shut down Michigan on its next drive.

That would set up Cook and the Spartans offense to deal the finishing blow. On the first play of Michigan State's drive, the quarterback connected with Tony Lippett on a 70-yard touchdown strike, giving the Spartans a 28-3 lead.

Game, set and match. 

Or was it? Michigan finally awoke on offense after that, putting together a seven-play, 69-yard drive that put the Wolverines in scoring range. But the Spartans tightened, and Gardner was stuffed a yard short on fourth down from Michigan State's 10-yard line, which killed another drive.

It was a rough afternoon for Gardner. He finished 13-of-28 with 121 passing yards and two interceptions, and the low point came when he threw the following interception to Taiwan Jones at the Michigan State 35-yard line. Teddy Mitrosilis of Fox Sports passes along the play that very well might define this Michigan squad:

De'Veon Smith's one-yard touchdown run would end Michigan's touchdown drought against Michigan State, but Sparty couldn't even let the Wolverines have that moment, as they promptly drove down the field and scored again, with Langford reaching the end zone for a third time. The rout was complete.

SportsCenter on Twitter passed along the score:

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports thinks Michigan fans upset by the late touchdown might just be missing the point:

Not surprisingly, one of the themes in the aftermath of this loss will be Brady Hoke's job security or, perhaps more accurately, lack thereof. Albert Breer of NFL.com is among those who think the coach's time is up:

It's hard to see Hoke surviving this season. It might be a bit jarring on the team to cut him loose now, but it's become pretty clear that the program needs a change. 

But hey, misery loves company, and as Bleacher Report's Matt Miller noted, the Wolverines are far from the only prominent program to have fallen on hard times:

For Michigan State, meanwhile, a November 8 meeting against Ohio State now looms large. The winner of that game not only all but buys its ticket to the Big Ten Championship Game but also keeps its playoff hopes alive.

The Michigan vs. Ohio State game once was the highlight of the Big Ten season. These days, it's the Spartans and Buckeyes who are doing battle for all the marbles. It's just another reminder that the balance of power in the state of Michigan has started to trend toward the green side. 

Perhaps KC Joyner of ESPN put it best:

More than a few folks would argue that such a transformation has already occurred. 

 

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Mississippi State vs. Kentucky: Score and Twitter Reaction

Kentucky gave No. 1 Mississippi State all it could handle, but running back Josh Robinson had a huge day to help the Bulldogs survive with a 45-31 win on the road.

Robinson led the way for Mississippi State with 198 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a dominant showing for the junior. Heisman candidate Dak Prescott had a big day as well with 216 passing yards and 88 rushing yards, including three scores.

Quarterback Patrick Towles had a great effort for Kentucky with four total touchdowns, 390 passing yards, 76 rushing yards and even 11 receiving yards. Unfortunately, he didn't get enough help as the Wildcats fell to 5-3 on the season.

Both teams topped 500 total yards of offense in the game, but the Bulldogs had more balance to come away with the win and remain undefeated.

Mississippi State started the game exactly the way it wanted to with a defensive stop and an easy first drive that went 82 yards and ended with a touchdown. However, Kentucky answered quickly with a huge play by wide receiver Demarco Robinson, who went 67 yards for his own touchdown:

Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal noted the impact of this play:

The Bulldogs kept moving the ball, though, scoring a field goal and then a touchdown to take a 17-7 lead. The score came on a Prescott rushing touchdown, which Sports Illustrated noted is not fun for the defense:

Jon Solomon of CBS Sports provided his overall analysis of the elite offense:

Still, Kentucky hung around and went into halftime only down 17-10. Matt Jones of Kentucky Radio was impressed despite the team not playing extremely well:

Meanwhile, head coach Mark Stoops believed his team had an upset bid at halftime, via Mark Story of Kentucky.com:

The second half continued with the back-and-forth style. Prescott scored an impressive rushing touchdown to put MSU up 24-10. That was followed by a great drive by Towles, who capped it off with his own 10-yard run into the end zone to bring the Wildcats back within one touchdown, at 24-17.

Tim Brando of Fox Sports discussed the excitement in the close game:

The problem was Kentucky's defense simply could not stop the Bulldogs from putting points on the board. Mississippi State went up 31-17 on a three-play, 81-yard drive that included an incredible 22-yard run by Robinson:

Once again, Kentucky answered with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Towles to Javess Blue.

After a few defensive stops, it was Robinson again who came through for Mississippi State. On a big 3rd-and-1, the running back got the ball up the middle and took it to the house for a 73-yard touchdown run to put his team up 38-24. 

ESPN's Travis Haney was impressed with the play:

The Wildcats did eventually cut the lead in half with another Towles rushing touchdown with 2:31 remaining in regulation. With a successful onside kick, Kentucky would have had the ball with a chance to tie. Unfortunately, Mississippi State's Christian Holmes returned the onside kick attempt all the way for a touchdown to extend the lead to 45-31. 

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports gave his opinion on Kentucky's final chance:

The game was a lot closer than the final score would indicate, but Mississippi State survived and moved to 7-0 on the season. 

Kentucky will now try to remain competitive in the SEC East with consecutive battles at Missouri and then against Georgia at home. Even after a couple of slip-ups this year, the Wildcats have a chance to play their way into the conference title game with a little help.

Playing the Bulldogs close didn't really seem possible after a 41-3 loss last week to LSU, but this squad can surprise people if it plays as well as it did Saturday. 

Mississippi State will return home next week to face Arkansas, which knows how to keep games close but still has not won a conference game in 16 tries. Despite this stat, Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins create a rushing attack the Bulldogs shouldn't overlook.

As the No. 1 team in the country, the Bulldogs have their sights on a national championship and will have to do whatever it takes to stay undefeated. They did that successfully against Kentucky.

 

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

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Mississippi State's Christian Holmes Returns Onside Kick for TD vs. Kentucky

The unranked Kentucky Wildcats were down just seven against the Mississippi State Bulldogs with a chance to recover an onside kick.

Any hope of upsetting the No. 1 team in the nation quickly faded away, though, with just under three minutes left in the game.

The Wildcats' onside kick attempt went right at Christian Holmes, who then returned the ball 61 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 45-31 lead.


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Ohio State vs. Penn State: Live Score and Highlights

Ohio State 17, Penn State 0 — Late 2nd quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 13 Ohio State (5-1) and Penn State (4-2). ABC is televising the matchup nationally from Beaver Stadium.

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

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Davis Webb Injury: Updates on Texas Tech QB's Leg and Return

Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb exited a matchup against TCU in the third quarter with a leg injury.

Max Olson of ESPN.com passed along news of the injury for the signal-caller:

Webb has gone through an up-and-down season for the Red Raiders, but has been a catalyst for the offense. The sophomore has 2,525 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season after leaving the game.

Olson also noted that Patrick Mahomes would assume Webb's role:

The contest was already lopsided prior to Webb's exit, so the focus now will be on the health of the quarterback. Mahomes was a 3-star quarterback, per 247Sports, but doesn't offer the same experience of Webb.

Even with the criticism that comes along with being a quarterback for the Red Raiders, Webb has found success, via Associate Director Scott Lacefield:

If Webb is forced to miss time, it will be up to Mahomes to step up and lead the offense against a tough upcoming slate. Facing the likes of Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor in the last four games, not having Webb on the field might be crippling for Texas Tech.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Michigan's Devin Gardner Throws Shovel Pass Directly to Michigan State Player

It's been a season to forget for the Michigan Wolverines, and plays like this are a big reason why.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner tried to improvise with a shovel pass on Saturday against the Michigan State Spartans.

The only problem was that there wasn't a Wolverines receiver in sight. Instead, the pass went straight to Michigan State's Taiwan Jones for the interception.

[Vine]

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Mississippi State's Josh Robinson Refuses to Go Down During Video Game Style Run

Mississippi State Bulldogs running back Josh Robinson knows jst how important it is to keep his legs moving during plays, as it goes a long way in breaking tackles.

In the third quarter of Saturday's game against the Kentucky Wildcats, Robinson broke multiple tackles and reversed field to pick up a big gain. 

Robinson's effort was a big reason the Bulldogs were able to drive down the field, eventually capping off the drive with a touchdown to go up 31-17.

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Alabama vs. Tennessee: Live Score and Highlights

Alabama 27, Tennessee 10—Halftime

The No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide are looking to continue their hot streak against the Tennessee Volunteers.

ESPN2 is carrying the conference meeting. Bleacher Report is providing live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Ole Miss vs. LSU: Live Score and Highlights

Ole Miss 7, LSU 3—Early 3rd Quarter

LSU may not have had the start to the 2014 season Tigers fans hoped to see, but Les Miles has his program on the upswing as the No. 24 Tigers host the No. 3-ranked Rebels from Ole Miss.  The last time these two teams met in such a pivotal game was that epic December 5, 1970 contest in which Archie Manning led the No. 16 Rebels to a 61-17 victory over the No. 8 Tigers.

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