NCAA Football News

Oregon vs. Michigan State: Ticket Info, Date, TV Schedule and Live Stream

It's Week 2 rematch time when the No. 7 Oregon Ducks travel across the country to clash with the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing on Saturday.

Both programs haven't forgotten last year's epic Week 2 showdown in which the Ducks rattled off 28 unanswered points over the final 20 minutes to seize a 46-27 victory. The classic pushed Marcus Mariota further into the Heisman Trophy conversation and was a major talking point on Oregon's resume for the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Mariota is gone, and both programs appear in transition, though. Oregon just got by Eastern Washington last week, 61-42, while Michigan State put on an odd show in a 37-24 win against Western Michigan.

Provided the issues on both sides get ironed out, this one might also wind up a classic. Here are the details to know.


Plugging the Holes

This year is all about moving into a new era for the Ducks—hence why oddsmakers have penned them the underdog for the first time since 2011, per Odds Shark.

Vernon Adams Jr. is the man Oregon's pegged to replace Mariota, and last week he posted 246 yards and two scores before taking a hit to the head—a hit that got the defender ejected—and leaving the game.

Adams will suit up Saturday and look to build on his encouraging performance, but it sure helps that running back Royce Freeman went for 180 yards and three scores.

Of course, Oregon's offense isn't a concern. It's the defense, which allowed the Eagles to go 6-of-14 on third downs, 3-of-4 on fourth downs and tally 549 total yards. Coach Mark Helfrich spoke with Rob Moseley of about the issues:

"A lot of guys made mistakes," he said. "They weren’t all defensive backs. Everyone on offense made mistakes; everyone on defense made mistakes. The beauty of it was, most of it was guys playing their first time ever in that stadium, and they were correctable."

Replacing an elite collegiate corner such as Ifo Ekpre-Olomu hasn't received enough attention when it comes to the Ducks, but it's the focal point for the team entering a battle with a seasoned quarterback such as Connor Cook.


Stealing the Limelight 

It should go without saying, but the Spartans weren't too happy with last year's loss to the Ducks. 

In fact, it seems the Spartans don't enjoy their overlooked status. There's some merit to the chip-on-shoulder posture of the program too, given its wild amount of success over the years.

For coach Mark Dantonio, Saturday is a chance for his team to prove to the globe it belongs in the top-program conversation. Per

We've lost three games out of the last 30, and we know the teams we've lost to. Our M.O. was to try to reach higher, and to do that, right now, it runs through Oregon. I also think that if you look at last year's football team, if we win that football game, you're talking beyond, and you just keep trying to move your program forward.

Logic says the Spartans will need to perform better on the offensive side of the ball to keep up with the Ducks. Last week, they turned the ball over once, lost the time-of-possession battle, and Cook looked sluggish with a 15-of-31 line with 256 yards and two scores.

Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press captured Dantonio's thoughts on Cook:

Call it two birds with one stone—Cook can get back into rhythm and fix the team's biggest weakness against a rebuilding secondary under the national spotlight, proving to everyone the Spartans belong.

If it all goes according to plan, of course.


Viewing Info

When: Saturday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan

Television: ABC

Live Stream: WatchESPN


Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 67
  • Spread: Michigan State (-3.5)


Team Injury Reports

Injury reports courtesy of USA Today.



This one feels ripe for a bit of role reversal. 

It's Oregon making the trip across the country this time into hostile territory, which will have a negative impact on an offense still learning to play with one another. Freeman should have a decent game, but the passing offense won't have the usual Oregon whip to it.

On the flip side, Cook should look better than he did one week ago with the rust shaken off, especially against an Oregon defense with some clear issues to fix. In the confines of home, expect it to be him this year who uses this prestigious matchup to make a Heisman statement with a big win.

Prediction: Michigan State 42, Oregon 38


Statistics courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.

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Oklahoma vs. Tennessee: Ticket Info, Date, TV Schedule and Live Stream

On-the-rise programs collide in one of Saturday's top showdowns when the No. 19 Oklahoma Sooners hit the road for an encounter with the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville.

Both programs got off on the right foot with Week 1 victories, although both came away with obvious areas of improvement to focus on if they are to contend in their respective conferences. 

For Oklahoma, a 41-3 thumping of Akron looks good, but coach Bob Stoops remains adamant there are issues to correct. It's much of the same for Tennessee coach Butch Jones after a 59-30 victory against Bowling Green.

In what figures to be one of the week's most physical and entertaining encounters, there is much at stake. Here's everything to know about the collision.


Correcting the Little Things 

What Oklahoma's rout of Akron doesn't say outright is just how much the Sooners struggled out of the gates.

Over Oklahoma's first six drives, the offense managed just a single field goal against a sluggish Zips defense out of the MAC. Things improved when the flags stopped, and Baker Mayfield wound up throwing for 388 yards and three scores.

Oklahoma did most of its damage in the second and third frames. Stoops wants the performances there to stretch for the course of all four, per "For a period of time, we executed really well and avoided penalties that hurt us and operated like we feel we can."

It wasn't just the passing game, though. Starting back Samaje Perine managed just 33 yards and a score on 11 totes, while the team as a whole rushed for just 100 yards and 3.0 yards per carry.

The potential of Oklahoma's offense seems obvious. The trick now is taking lessons learned a week ago into hostile territory and escaping with a win.


Preventing An Air-Raid

The story around the Volunteers happens to be the exact opposite.

Tennessee's final score against Bowling Green doesn't hide anything. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs threw for 205 yards and a pair of scores, and, well, the ground game didn't have any issues:

The problems for the Volunteers came on defense, especially in the secondary. Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson threw for an eye-popping 424 yards and two scores, while wideout Gehrig Dieter ran wild with seven catches for 133 yards and a score. Five Bowling Green receivers averaged at least 15 yards per catch.

"We had too many mental errors and to play winning football you can't have the amount of mental errors that we had," Jones said, per "Again, first game, going fast, a lot of things happening, but that's inexcusable."

If the Tennessee defense is to stop Mayfield and Co. from taking the proverbial next step at its expense in front of a home crowd, the unit needs to better prevent big plays.

Of course, this is easier said than done, especially under the bright lights of a highly anticipated matchup.


Viewing Info

When: Saturday, September 12, 6 p.m. ET

Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Television: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN


Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 64
  • Spread: Oklahoma (-1)


Team Injury Reports

No listed injuries for Oklahoma.

Injury reports via USAToday.



There's a reason Las Vegas won't commit to one side or the other here—it could go one of two ways as easy as a flip of the coin. 

Tennessee could grind up Oklahoma on the ground, or Oklahoma could run roughshod on the shaky Tennessee secondary with big play after big play.

Bank on the former. This affair goes down at Neyland Stadium, and the noise level is sure to have an effect on the Sooners' passing game, which should help the secondary, a unit with a week of mistakes to digest and improve upon.

On the ground, Alvin Kamara and Co. should be able to control the pace of the game and keep the Oklahoma offense off the field anyway, so look for the Volunteers to pull out a close one.

Prediction: Tennessee 24, Oklahoma 21


Statistics courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.


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Georgia Bulldogs vs. Vanderbilt Commodores: Complete Game Preview

After a dominating performance against Louisiana-Monroe, the Georgia Bulldogs look to keep the momentum going as they face the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs beat ULM on a lighting-shortened game 51-14 last Saturday. They did it with a strong rushing attack (243 yards) and a stingy defense (255 total yards allowed). The Bulldogs are facing a Vanderbilt team that is coming off a 14-12 loss to Western Kentucky.

Georgia may be the heavy favorites, but head coach Mark Richt knows that it’s going to be a very physical game.

“Defensively, I know it's early in league play, but they are No. 1 in the league in rush defense, No. 3 in first downs allowed and No. 4 in the league in total defense,” Richt said in his Tuesday press conference. "So like I said, going on the road for the first time, playing SEC, Eastern Division opponent for the first time, is something that we all work towards and are looking forward to.”

The last time these two teams faced each other in Nashville, Vandy was the one that came out on top 31-27. So the Bulldogs know it’s not going to be a walk in the park on Saturday.


Date: Saturday, Sept. 12

Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

Place: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.


Radio: Bulldogs Radio Network, Sirius XM 83/190

Spread: Georgia is favored by 20.5 points according to Odds Shark


When Georgia Has the Ball

Greyson Lambert had a solid debut against ULM on Saturday as he went 8-of-12 for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He threw zero interceptions and did not get sacked.

Lambert did not do anything special, but he was smart with the football. Part of the reason for his stability was the success of the running attack. Nick Chubb rushed for 120 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Keith Marshall also had a strong performance with 10 carries for 73 yards and two scores.

Georgia will try to do the same thing with Vanderbilt. They will try to attack the defense with the run, then throw off of play action.

That will not be an easy task, because the Commodores are looking to build off a performance where they only allowed 38 rushing yards against Western Kentucky. Cornerback Torren McGaster, linebacker Darreon Herring and safety Andrew Williamson each had six tackles in the loss against the Hilltoppers.

Also, when the Bulldogs decide to throw the ball, they may want to stay away from safety Oren Burks because he had two passes defended to go along with his four tackles last week.


When Vanderbilt Has the Ball

The Commodores had a difficult time scoring against Western Kentucky last week. They could not convert in the red zone, and quarterback Jonathan McCrary's two interceptions thrown did not do them any favors.

However, McCrary did have a solid game, as he threw for 217 yards and one score. He was also able to hit nine different receivers in the game, so he’s learning how to see the entire field.

Running back Ralph Webb is another player who was strong on offense last week, rushing for 76 yards and recording 23 receiving yards. He will be the go-to guy on offense.

The Bulldogs defense only allowed 245 yards of offense last week. They were led by Quincy Mauger, who had eight tackles, half a sack and one pass defended. Aaron Davis had an interception, and the duo of Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd had a combined 15 tackles.

The Bulldogs defense played with a lot of speed last week, and it will not change on Saturday.


Player to Watch for Georgia: RB Keith Marshall

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are two guys who could make up one of the best running back duos on the country when it’s all said and done. But Keith Marshall proved that he should not be forgotten in the running back rotation.

Welcome back Keith Marshall.

— Brian L Jones (@Brian_L_Jones) September 5, 2015

Marshall who has been dealing with an ACL injury since 2013, rushed for 73 yards on 10 carries and scored twice last Saturday. He showed the speed that he had in 2012 and was also able to run between the tackles.

Chubb and Michel will get the bulk of the carries because they are No. 1 and No. 2 on the depth chart. But because of how he played last week, Marshall will see plenty of action, and he will have a chance to do some big things against Vanderbilt because he can do a little bit of everything.


Player to Watch for Vanderbilt: RB Ralph Webb

In order for the Commodores to be efficient on offense, Webb will need to have a big day.

The sophomore running back made an impression last year. He rushed for 907 yards on 212 attempts. Webb was the second freshman-leading rusher in the SEC behind Chubb, and he made the All-SEC Freshman team.

.@VandyFootball OL 'rather have Ralph Webb than Nick Chubb any day'

— Adam Sparks (@AdamSparks) September 8, 2015

As it was mentioned earlier, Webb had a strong game against Western Kentucky, but the offense made too many mistakes for Webb to be an impact player. Vanderbilt will do more on Saturday to be sure they put Webb in the best positions to make plays.


Prediction: Georgia 35, Vanderbilt 10

Georgia was able to do what it wanted to on offense last week against an experienced ULM defense. However, Vanderbilt’s defense will be ready for the task at hand, especially as nine returning starters will be on the field from last season.

That doesn’t mean the Commodores will have enough to stop the Bulldogs rushing attack. The three-headed monster of Chubb, Michel and Marshall will be too much for Vandy to handle. Then add the fact that the Commodores offense has issues scoring; the Bulldogs defense will be licking its chops to have an even better performance this week.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Vanderbilt is able to keep it close early. But the Bulldogs have too much depth and talent on both sides of the ball for Derek Mason’s group to keep it close for four quarters.

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College Football Picks: Week 2 Predictions for Every Game

The opening week of the 2015 college football season featured a lot of very predictable results, thanks to the presence of a whopping 48 games pitting FBS schools against FCS opponents. Even with that many lopsided matchups, we still saw a handful of the little guys (Fordham, North Dakota, Portland State and South Dakota State) rise up and beat some of the low-hanging big boys (Army, Wyoming, Washington State and Kansas, respectively).

There were some other notable upsets, such as BYU using divine intervention (and a great catch at the goal line) to win at Nebraska, while Temple notched its first win against Penn State in 74 years and Northwestern contributed to the Pac-12 Conference's rough opening week.

We also had two games canceled because of weather, another pushed back a day due to inclement conditions and two schools spending an extra week in the offseason before getting underway.

What's in store for Week 2? While overall it might not seem like a very enticing slate thanks to another 25 FBS-FCS pairings, there are three games featuring a pair of ranked teams. And those are among the 10 clashes of power-conference schools, including some early SEC tilts that highlight the start of conference play across the country.

Check out our predictions for all 76 games, starting with Thursday's intriguing Conference USA matchup, then give us your picks in the comments section. 


NOTE: Rankings are from the Associated Press Top 25. 

Last week: 76-9 (.894)

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Texas Football: What to Expect from Longhorns' New Play-Caller Jay Norvell

Push finally came to shove for Charlie Strong, who has named Jay Norvell the new play-caller for the Texas Longhorns.

What that means for the rest of the season remains to be seen.

Ranking in the nation's bottom three in scoring offense, total offense and yards per play (per, it was obvious that Texas had to replace Shawn Watson. During his 14 games as the play-caller, the Longhorns have scored 10 points or less six times, losing by 20-plus points each time. 

Now Strong's tied his future at Texas to Norvell, who was hired this spring to coach the wide receivers. The former Oklahoma, UCLA, Nebraska and NFL assistant will finally take this offense back to the spread in hopes of riding Texas' team athleticism to some points.

Charlie Strong on Jay Norvell: "We talk about an up-tempo offense. That's what everyone wants to see."

@BDavisAAS, 8 Sep 2015

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time to implement the revamped attack, and the pending schedule makes a 1-5 bye-week record all too possible. The change can only make this team better, but will it be enough to stave off disaster?

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Diddy Reportedly Won't Be Charged for Alleged Fight with UCLA Coach Sal Alosi

Diddy will reportedly not face charges for an alleged fight he had on June 22 with UCLA football strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi.

TMZ reported the latest development in the case on Wednesday, adding that a hearing will be held on Oct. 15 with Diddy—also known as Sean Combs—his lawyer, Mark Geragos, and others involved in the alleged altercation.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office had previously rejected the case. Diddy had been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of battery and one count of making terrorist threats. He allegedly used a kettle bell as the weapon.

Bruins defensive back Justin Combs is Diddy's son. According to TMZ Sports, during a practice Diddy was attending, Alosi chewed Justin Combs out, leading Diddy to spring into action and confront Alosi in the coach's office.      

After the informal hearing takes place next month, it stands to reason Diddy's case will officially go without any legal consequences.

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Former Rutgers Football Players Plead Not Guilty to Home Invasion Charges

Two former Rutgers football players, defensive back Dre Boggs and wide receiver Tejay Johnson, pleaded not guilty to home invasion charges in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reported the news on 20-year-old Boggs, 23-year-old Johnson and another student, Jianan Chen, 19, who allegedly planned the robberies. Jim Donohue, Boggs' attorney, stated that the alleged victims were drug dealers, and he is also seeking to reduce his client's current $600,000 bail.

Assistant Middlesex County prosecutor Christopher Kuberiet claimed that knives, a hammer, a baseball bat and a revolver were used by the ex-football players to carry out the robberies. One of the victim's cellphones allegedly had Johnson's fingerprints on it.

"These were brutal, violent and aggressive home invasions where people should be sacrosanct," said Kuberiet.

In all there were allegedly three home invasions and an attack on a 19-year-old student that left him with a broken jaw, per's Ryan Dunleavy. Johnson is thought to be involved in all three home invasions, while Boggs is suspected in two of them.

According to the prosecution, per the AP, the players are also said to have taken photos of the crimes they committed and sent incriminating text messages.      

Boggs and Johnson are being charged with weapons offenses in addition to robbery and conspiracy. The Scarlet Knights dismissed those two along with three other players last week, all of whom were previously suspended.

Johnson's career was already cut short by injuries, but Boggs is a rising sophomore who made one start and appeared in 10 games last season.

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A Season with Notre Dame Football: Preview, TV Schedule for Showtime Show

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish competed for the BCS National Championship as recently as 2012, but it feels like only now is head coach Brian Kelly seriously building the program up to be a true title contender.

As a result, Showtime's A Season with Notre Dame Football series should offer a nice look at how Kelly is going about making the Irish a national powerhouse once again.

You can view the schedule for the first eight episodes below:    

Unlike with Hard Knocks, the HBO series that follows NFL teams, Showtime will follow Notre Dame throughout the season rather than just spring practices and additional stages of the preseason.

Of course, the series is part documentary, part recruiting tool, so A Season with Notre Dame Football isn't going to be a no-holds barred, hyper-critical look at the program. Plus, Kelly won't want to lend any sort of advantage to the Fighting Irish's opponents by giving cameras carte blanche to practices and meetings in the film room.   

Kelly said in August he wants the show to strike a balance between being a public relations piece and giving fans an idea of what truly happens behind the scenes, per JJ Stankevitz of

I think anytime that you’re putting together a weekly show, you want to make sure that you’re real and it’s not, you know, a public service announcement each week. We get that, and Showtime and their production people want something that is certainly indicative of what goes on here on a day-to-day basis. Having said that, we never want to embarrass any players, coaches, or the university. I think we’re pretty clear on how we’ll collaborate in getting that to that end.

A Season with Notre Dame Football will be entertaining for fans of the Fighting Irish or simply those who follow college football in general. It's always interesting to see how head coaches interact with their players.

Plus, Showtime will also follow the players through their everyday lives as a students as well, which surely makes for quite the spectacle for those walking across Notre Dame's campus, per Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated:

The trailer for the series premiere offered a brief look of what to expect in the first episode and beyond:

One of the more fascinating aspects of A Season with Notre Dame Football will be watching the progression of Malik Zaire as the season goes on. It's one thing to watch the junior quarterback improve on the field during games. But the series should offer a better understanding of what he's doing on the practice field to become a better passer each and every week.  

Zaire certainly got the year off to a great start, going 19-of-22 for 313 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-3 win over the Texas Longhorns last Saturday.

It's still a little early to call the Fighting Irish favorites for the College Football Playoff, but if Zaire proves to be the real deal, a top-four spot isn't out of the question for Notre Dame.

Given everything that is going on with the team, Showtime couldn't have picked a better time to follow Kelly and his players as they navigate the campaign ahead.


Note: All episodes of A Season with Notre Dame Football are available on demand on Showtime Anytime. You can see view times and dates for additional airings of the series on Showtime's website.

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Reputation as College Football Elite on the Line in Michigan State vs. Oregon

Figuring out college football’s elite teams this year should be as simple as looking up who occupies the top spots in the AP Top 25 poll.

Team A is ranked No. 1, Team B is No. 2 and so on. Those at the top are far superior to everyone else—no need to even look beyond the top couple of programs to figure out who’s good and who qualifies as great.

Things just are not quite that simple, especially early into the 2015 cycle. That’s particularly true given today’s poll mentality that dictates teams drop significantly after losses but barely move up with wins.

Ohio State is a known quantity at this point. Alabama appeared to be in its select company based on the Tide’s opener against Wisconsin. TCU and Baylor, on paper, will be right there until their clash after Thanksgiving creates separation. But who else can join the ranks of the few and the destination of the many?

On Saturday in East Lansing, at least one team will. Week 2’s clash of the titans—it’s the first Top 10 matchup at Spartan Stadium since the Game of the Century with No. 1 Notre Dame in 1966—figures to be our early opportunity to christen a new team among the cream of the crop. That it comes between two squads who sport a handful of questions to go with their abundance of talent only serves to make things that much juicier.

As the home team, there is plenty of pressure on Michigan State to make up for last year’s second-half falter in a 46-27 loss. The final score was not indicative as to how close the contest was, and a lot of the momentum on Sparty (they’re 10-11 favorites on Odds Shark) stems from the return of seasoned veteran Connor Cook and defenders on NFL radars like end Shilique Calhoun.

Those two will certainly have to come up big if they’re to keep pace with the Ducks, who face their first major test without Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. But they do sport a wealth of talent, which is enough to keep the MSU coaches up late at night.

Quarterback Vernon Adams will draw most of the attention on him this week. But that would overlook key contributors like tailback Royce Freeman, all-purpose threat Byron Marshall, potential first-round defensive end DeForest Buckner, plus 2013’s leading receiver, Bralon Addison, and veteran left tackle Tyler Johnstone all being in the fold.

In short, these are two talented teams. Each has a few question marks, especially defensively after shaky openers. But both are more than capable of earning an early slot in the College Football Playoff field.

Entering that discussion among this year’s elite means a little more to the Spartans than it does to the Ducks, who have been in the conversation for several years. Michigan State under Mark Dantonio has won a Rose Bowl, upended Baylor in the Cotton Bowl and is the only the second Big Ten team that Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has ever lost to in his career.

It has been a top-notch program in recent memory and is certainly among the best to not have made it to the national title game. Its excellence isn’t being debated, and it is in many ways a model team and program.

It’s just that, well…it has never been looked at as an elite team. A very good one, yes, but one that appears to have a glass ceiling in a world where the national title looks like it will make several more stops in Columbus. Combined with the perception of the Big Ten outside of the region, and it’s not a stretch to say that Dantonio’s bunch can rightfully play Rodney Dangerfield and claim no respect. 

In more ways than one, this year’s motto for Michigan State—“reach higher”—is apt. That can start this weekend. 

Oregon can go on to have a fantastic season if it loses on Saturday, possibly even making a run at the playoff based on the strength of the Pac-12 slate it has to face. The same could be said of Michigan State, who could make a loss disappear from everybody's minds with a huge upset of Ohio State in late November.

But for now, a place at the table among college football’s elite programs for this season is at stake on Saturday, and only one team can emerge to claim it.

Who will step up? That remains to be seen, but it certainly should be plenty of fun to see who does.


You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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5-Star Alabama Legacy Ben Davis Details the Latest in His Recruitment

Auburn secured a significant recruiting victory Sept. 4 when top-ranked in-state defensive end Marlon Davidson committed to the Tigers, catching attention from a fellow 5-star Alabama standout.

"Knowing that he's going to play down there definitely bumps Auburn up for me," linebacker Ben Davis told Bleacher Report. "Marlon and me are best friends. We're like brothers. Auburn was already one of my top schools, but that's a big deal."

Davidson, a 6'4", 260-pound prospect from Greenville High School, is already putting in recruiting work with his buddy.

"We've been talking and texting back and forth since Marlon committed. He definitely wants me there too, but I'm not picking a school anytime soon. I'm focused on setting up visits," Davis said.

The Gordo High School senior, rated 17th overall and No. 1 among inside linebackers in 2016 composite rankings, expects to utilize all five official visits. Davis, considering dozens of scholarship offers, is entering a pivotal stretch of a high-profile recruiting process.

"I'm going to sit down with my family during the next few weeks and decide what's best for me. I'll put together a top-five list, and those are the schools I'm going to visit," he said.

Davis identified Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Alabama and Auburn as his strongest contenders at this stage, though he admits it's a very fluid situation.

"Things could change in the next few weeks," Davis said. "There's a lot to think about."

He mentioned Notre Dame and USC as possible destinations beyond the Southeast region, though most analysts expect him to end up in the SEC. Family ties near Georgia and a strong relationship with the LSU coaching staff are key factors among conference contenders.

His father, Wayne Davis, is the Crimson Tide's all-time tackles leader. Every prediction in 247Sports' Crystal Ball projects him to sign with Alabama.

Despite his status as a decorated program legacy, Davis maintains he doesn't feel immense pressure to attend college in Tuscaloosa.

"My parents tell me all the time, wherever I choose they're going to be behind me 100 percent," he said. "The most important thing is to find the best fit where I feel comfortable."

Davis, a 6'3", 240-pound playmaker, predominately lines up at middle linebacker in high school. That's exactly where LSU, Alabama and Florida State envision his future, while Auburn and Georgia have left the door open for a role along the outside edge. 

"I see myself as a team leader at the heart of a defense," Davis said. "I'm a guy who works every day to make my teammates better."

The same can be said for Lyndell "Mack" Wilson, another 5-star Alabama linebacker who holds offers from Auburn and the Crimson Tide. Davis explained he wants to be a "package deal" with Wilson on national signing day.

Throw in the fact that Wilson played alongside Davidson last season at Carver High School, and it becomes apparent how paramount the Tigers' latest commitment could ultimately become.

Davis calls them "The Trio" and continues to express serious interest in teaming up with both defenders for the next few years. He plans to attend the Iron Bowl at Auburn in November a year after heading to Tuscaloosa for the annual matchup.

His father's history at Alabama and a longstanding relationship with Nick Saban doesn't prevent Davis from imagining playing in the Iron Bowl as a Tiger.

"If I was with Auburn, I'd be pumped up for it more than any other game. But I'd feel the same way as an Alabama player too. It's one of the biggest rivalries in sports," he said.

Davis remains at least weeks away from trimming things down to five favorites, but the drama is already building between Alabama and Auburn for this homegrown recruit. Expect Davidson's decision to make a difference moving forward, but it's just one of several factors to monitor here in the months to come.


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Meet the Man Who Holds the Key to Dak Prescott's Heisman Campaign

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Rufus Warren is a marked man this season, and he knows it.

Wearing No. 77, the Mississippi State senior is a first-time starter—one of three on the offensive line—and playing a crucial role on the 2015 Bulldogs: left tackle.

That means his primary responsibility is to protect Dak Prescott’s blind side. With the quarterback who finished eighth in Heisman Trophy voting last year as the undeniable key to MSU’s success this season, one could argue that Warren is therefore the most important player on the roster.

If that doesn’t put enough pressure on his shoulders, consider that Warren is a converted tight end.

“When you got a guy like Dak behind you, yeah,” Warren said. “Every freaking snap you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I just have to make sure that my man doesn’t even get close to him.’ 

“That’s what makes it good and fun, but it’s also a lot of pressure. It’s a pressure that I want.”

Fittingly, when Warren was recruited out of Gentry High School in Indianola, Miss., it was more for his potential than anything else. Rated by 247Sports as the 40th-best prospect at tight end and 25th-best player in his home state, he arrived in Starkville as a 6’5”, 238-pound project.

After redshirting, he spent the next two years working his way up to playing maybe 10-15 plays a game—mostly on special teams—and caught the only pass thrown his way for a 23-yard gain.

The thing was, Warren was still growing and filling out. The scale continued to rise up to 240, 250, 260...

“He was underdeveloped when he got here as a recruit,” offensive line coach John Hevesy said. “I told him about three years ago if he keeps eating he’ll end up in my room and he was like, ‘No, I’m not.’”

When Warren got to the point that it was a challenge for him to keep his weight near 270 pounds, the coaches gave him a choice. He could continue to fight against his natural body size at tight end or try playing on the offensive line and probably have a better shot at eventually starting.

Knowing that Blaine Clausell’s third season starting at left tackle in 2014 would also be his last, Warren agreed to the switch and to serve as an understudy for a year.

“It just kind of became a situation for us where you’re almost fighting the inevitable,” head coach Dan Mullen said. “Instead of trying to make him lose this weight and stay as small as he can to remain at tight end, [we said] “Hey, go have another burger at lunch or eat a biscuit at breakfast and go play left tackle.”

Warren’s now listed at 6’7” and 299 pounds without looking heavy. He played in all 13 games as a reserve last season—including some at right tackle—and in addition to doing a lot of film study, he continues to pick the brains of his predecessors about what to look for and expect.

Like with most first-time starters, his debut was a bit of a mixed bag last Saturday against Southern Miss.

He had the key block on what should have been a 10-yard touchdown run by Ashton Shumpert, only the running back fumbled into the end zone for an early turnover.

When pulling, which is more typical of an interior lineman, Warren contributed to both a 35-yard run by Brandon Holloway and 49-yard carry by Prescott.

However, late in the second quarter on 3rd-and-11 at the MSU 10-yard line, he was bull-rushed by Ja'Boree Poole, a 6’2”, 250-pound defensive lineman who sacked Prescott from behind.

In the third quarter, he got beat on the outside by linebacker Darian Yancey, who subsequently flushed Prescott out of the pocket. The quarterback tried to force a bad pass over the middle that came very close to being a pick-six.

Mississippi State finished with 205 rushing yards and 237 passing yards, and the line was flagged just twice—both holding calls, but neither on Warren—despite being on the road. Prescott didn’t necessarily play like a top Heisman candidate during the 34-16 victory, but he also didn’t take too many hits.

“I think all them improved very alike during the course of the game,” Mullen said about the new starters. “Hopefully I’ll see huge improvement this week because now they’re used to what game situations are like, making adjustments, talking on the sideline and playing. A lot of times at practice you have a bad play, you can do it over if something goes wrong.”

“To be honest with you, from start to finish I thought all three of the starters handled the situation very well. We can play a lot better.”

It’s kind of crucial with the upcoming schedule. Although Warren is really looking forward to facing Missouri because of the Tigers’ reputation for having a strong defensive line in the past couple of years, next up on the schedule is LSU on Saturday (8:15 p.m. CT, ESPN).

Two weeks later, Mississippi State begins a nasty back-to-back road swing through Auburn and Texas A&M. The Tigers notched four sacks against Louisville and the Aggies had nine against Arizona State.

So junior Jamaal Clayborn may be new at center and junior Devon Desper has taken over at right guard, but there’s little doubt who will be challenged the most: the former tight end.

“To me, it’s much easier,” Warren said about his position change. “At tight end, I have to know what the receiver’s doing, what the running back is doing, while with the O-line it’s just strictly learning how to protect Dak and [my assignments]. It’d definitely easier and it’s fun.”


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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Meet Michigan State's Clown Princes of College Football

"All right, we’re going to do the reverse nae-nae on three, on three. OK, ready?"

Those are the unlikely words that in a way have come to define one of college football's unlikely success stories.

One of two teams in the nation to finish each of the past two seasons with an AP Top Five ranking, Michigan State has already established itself as one of college football's most consistent programs. From 2013-2014, the Spartans have compiled a 24-3 record, won two major bowl games and find themselves facing a potential program-altering matchup on Saturday as seventh-ranked Oregon comes to town.

Bright lights and big-name opponents. This is Michigan State football in 2015.

And with a recent track record that's proved itself both on the field and in the NFL draft, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Spartans practices are often filled with high school prospects who are considering spending their college careers in East Lansing. In an effort to give those recruits the most game-like experience allowed, head coach Mark Dantonio often invites them into the Michigan State huddle to witness quarterback Connor Cook direct the Spartans offense.

It's there that those prospects have witnessed an unexpected side of Cook and the Michigan State program.

"He’ll make up a play that’s not an actual play," Spartans center Jack Allen revealed at Big Ten media days in July. "He just starts saying like, 'All right, we’re going to do the reverse nae-nae on three, on three. OK, ready?' It’s pretty funny."

For the uninitiated, the "nae-nae" isn't an actual play. It's a dance popularized by many athletes, including NFL megastar J.J. Watt.

It's also perhaps the secret to a Spartans team that doesn't take itself as seriously as one might think from the outside looking in.


"You mean the nae-nae reverse?"

Talking to Cook, you'd never suspect he knows what the nae-nae is, let alone that he's capable of calling for one in the sacred practice huddle.

From his 6'4", 220-pound frame to the presidential tailored suit he wore while representing Michigan State at Big Ten media days, the Hinckley, Ohio, native certainly looks the part of franchise quarterback.

For the past two seasons, he's played it as well, compiling 5,969 passing yards, 46 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions while completing 58.4 percent of his passes.'s Todd McShay currently projects Cook to be the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

Forget #FailForCardale, Cook could be Cleveland football's hometown hero counterpart to LeBron James.

But while Cook has already mastered many of the traits that pro teams look for in a signal-caller—including the ability to say very little when being interviewed—his teammates paint the picture of a personality that it is anything but dull. Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun corroborated Allen's story of the faux play calls in practice, even revealing that it was something Cook had recently bragged to him about.

"Connor just told me a story like that," Calhoun said when the nae-nae tale was relayed to him. "He told me that when recruits come into the huddle, he'll specifically call a play that does not exist, just to see how crazy their eyes get."

According to Allen, the tactic usually elicits its intended response.

"You’re sitting there like, 'OK, here we go.' And then you hear it and you’re like, 'Did he really just say that?'" Allen said. "And everyone kind of giggles and he’s like, 'OK, OK, here we go.'"

Approached about his propensity to call fake plays, Cook, perhaps unintentionally, offered a look into the dry sense of humor that's hidden behind a wall of politically correct answers, built by two years in the spotlight and years of media training. 

"I don't know what you're talking about," Cook said with a knowing smile when asked about his calls for the reverse nae-nae. "You mean the nae-nae reverse?"

Quickly reverting back to quarterback form, Cook then insisted that his playful play calls only occur in practice.

"Never in games," he said adamantly.

And while Cook's antics may be limited to the practice field, it's hard to imagine his loose personality doesn't show up in some shape or form on Saturdays. He certainly has a way of infecting his teammates, as evidenced by Calhoun's response when pressed for more stories about his quarterback's sense of humor.

"We'll keep those in the huddle," Calhoun said. "I don't know if I can share too many of those."

Maybe that's because it wouldn't be difficult for Cook to get Calhoun back.


"I don't think I'm funny"

Calhoun may not be the prankster that Cook is, but the star defensive end's playful personality has hardly been kept quiet throughout his college career. At Big Ten media days in July, he drew the biggest crowd of reporters of any player in attendance, his new hairstyle—short dreadlocks—and customized bow tie serving as unlikely centerpieces of conversations.

"It was a gift from my mom," Calhoun, a self-described "big mama's boy," said of his accessory. "There is this guy in New York who makes different bow ties from different materials. You’ll never have the same bow tie as me. No two are the same."

The two-time All-Big Ten selection would talk some football too, working the occasional joke and a much more common laugh into his answers. Asked about Ohio State's quarterback competition between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, Calhoun responded by saying the best signal-caller he's ever faced is Cook, proclaiming his teammate the leader of "Offense University."

Eventually, Calhoun's energetic vibe became too much to ignore and was soon the subject of questions directed his way. Like Cook, Calhoun quickly came off as humble and unwilling to shine too much of a spotlight on himself.

"I just became comfortable with media, honestly," Calhoun said. "I've been outgoing with my friends and stuff, but over the years of watching guys like [former Spartans] Kirk Cousins, William Gholston, Jerel Worthy, it kind of made me more comfortable with media. I would stop from time to time just to listen to what they say, just check out how they interact with media to see how things would go if I was ever in their position."

With 17.5 career sacks to his credit, Calhoun has found himself standing in front of no shortage of microphones throughout his time in East Lansing. Based on the crowd he drew in Chicago as he represented the Spartans at media days for the second time in as many years, the Middletown, New Jersey, native has developed the reputation of one of the best talkers in the Big Ten.

Asked if there's something to the two faces of the Michigan State program being so like-minded in their respective lighthearted approaches, the 6'5", 250-pound potential first-round pick didn't disagree.

"I don't think I'm funny, but I think he's pretty funny," Calhoun said of Cook. "That funny personality where it's like, 'OK, I can go talk to him. He has a friendly face, we can make a conversation about anything and I can feel like we can relate.' I think Connor and I are two people that are able to do that."


"That’s what we do”

Having a team that likes to laugh is nothing new in college football—just look at the plethora of personalities that can be found on the Ohio State roster.

But in East Lansing, it does come as a bit of a surprise given the no-nonsense approach that Dantonio has taken since first accepting the Spartans head coaching job in 2007. Having fallen from both the coaching trees of Nick Saban and Jim Tressel, Dantonio's humor usually only comes in the form of any contrast from his usual dry demeanor.

"We do see the light side of Coach D," Calhoun said. "You may see a smile every five years, but we see a smile every three months. I ain't gonna give him too much."

Although the scarcity of Dantonio's smiles has become a symbol of the hard work Michigan State's recent success has been built on, the Spartans have also become one of college football's most outgoing programs. In 2013, MSU won the Big Ten championship before going on to win the Rose Bowl in a season during which guard Travis Jackson gained fame by impersonating WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan and the team adopted rapper Richie Homie Quan's "Some Type of Way" as its anthem.

With Cook and Calhoun having moved from sophomores to team leaders, the Spartans' personality became even more apparent in 2014. Despite regular-season losses to Oregon and Ohio State—the two teams that went on to play each other for the national title—keeping Michigan State out of the first College Football Playoff, the Spartans ended last season on a high note, beating Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.

The win over the Bears allowed Michigan State to maintain momentum heading into 2015—and was due in large part to the personalities of its star players.

Falling behind 41-21 heading into the fourth quarter, it appeared inevitable that the Spartans would close their campaign by losing their third game to a ranked opponent. Michigan State, however, would rally to score 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points against the nation's fifth-ranked team, with Cook's pass to Keith Mumphery with 17 seconds left on the clock giving the Spartans the improbable win and erasing two costly interceptions earlier in the game.

According to Allen, the Spartans' improbable comeback may not have been possible without Cook's laid-back demeanor.

"There’s some guys that are always tensed up and locked up and he always keeps it cool. One of the good things about Connor is if he makes a mistake, it may bother him and he may show it a little bit, but the next series he’s going to come to play," Allen said. "You’ve seen that the last couple of years where he makes a mistake, throws an interception, but he’s going to keep coming back and playing like nothing happened. That’s what makes him a great quarterback."

Hardworking but lighthearted. It's a paradox that has come to define not only Michigan State's quarterback, but also its entire program.

"When we’re off the field, we’re all relaxed and having fun," Allen said. "But when it comes time to work, we’re working. That’s what we do."

Whether the Spartans will once again need to rely on their players' personalities—or even the nae-nae reverse—against the Ducks on Saturday remains to be seen.

But by now, they know it's there if they need it.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Who Steps Up for Tennessee with Danny O'Brien Suspended vs. Oklahoma?

Tennessee's preseason hype this year was largely based on its high amount of returning experience.

Now, heading into just the second game of the season, that experience has taken a hit.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said Wednesday afternoon that junior defensive tackle Danny O'Brien is suspended for this Saturday's game against Oklahoma, according to Wes Rucker of GoVols247. O'Brien's suspension is for an unknown "violation of team rules."

"It’s disappointing anytime you have to do that," Jones said Wednesday, per Rucker. "It’s like disciplining your own kids. You hate to do it, but you have to do it. We have standards and expectations. … I feel for Danny. He’s done some very good things in our football program."

O'Brien is one of the leaders on Tennessee's defense. He had 23 tackles (3.5 for loss) and one sack in 12 starts last season for the Volunteers. The junior recorded a sack in Saturday's season-opener against Bowling Green.

According to Jones, there's no timetable for O'Brien's return yet.

"We’re working with him," Jones said. "We’ll see what happens down the road."

With O'Brien out, Tennessee now has a major hole to fill on the interior of its defense.

According to Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, senior Owen Williams will most likely slide into the starting lineup in place of O'Brien. Williams participated in Saturday's opener but did not record a tackle.

The bigger storyline, though, will be the use of Tennessee's highly touted freshmen in the defensive line rotation—Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle.

Tuttle got in the game during the first half against Bowling Green, while McKenzie only saw the field in the fourth quarter. Neither recorded a statistic, but they will have to step up and make plays this weekend against an offense that found its rhythm in Week 1.

Oklahoma got off to a painfully slow start on offense—five punts on the first six drives of the game against Akron—but it still managed to put up 539 yards and 41 points on overmatched Akron.

And while the Sooners didn't have a huge day on the ground against the Zips in the debut of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley's Air Raid system, they still have one of the deepest backfields in the country.

Last season, Oklahoma ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-10 victory over Tennessee. Samaje Perine, who broke out later in the season and smashed the FBS all-time single-game rushing record, went for 67 of those yards on just nine carries.

As Bleacher Report's Brad Shepard notes, losing an experienced member at defensive tackle and having to replace some of his production with newcomers is daunting:

Oklahoma was fine with letting its new starting quarterback, Baker Mayfield, sling the ball all over the field against lowly Akron last weekend. Riley's offense, as its name suggests, favors the pass.

But don't expect Oklahoma to base its offense on airing it out with a quarterback making his first career start on the road with his new team—even against a Tennessee defense that allowed 433 passing yards to Bowling Green.

Oklahoma is going to hit an interior line weakened by O'Brien's suspension with the likes of Perine, Joe Mixon and Alex Ross. Expect the Sooners to get Southern with it in their trip to Tennessee and run the dang ball.

"The Sooners simply can’t abandon the running game like they did against Akron: zero rushing yards in the first quarter, 22 at halftime and 100 in all," John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World wrote. "An offense that stays on the field and generates first downs and isn’t prone to quick, three-and-out possessions has a better chance of walking out of Knoxville alive."

In addition to the former JUCO transfer Williams, Tennessee will need both McKenzie and Tuttle to step up against Oklahoma.

Tuttle is a little more ahead right now than McKenzie, who Brown said had to miss a week of preseason practice. According to Ryan Callahan of GoVols247, Tuttle "received a significant number of snaps at defensive tackle."

"His body of work, and we’ve seen it in practice (earned him those snaps)," Jones said, per Austin Bornheim of the Daily Times. "Those repetitions he received will prove to be invaluable."

Jones and the rest of Tennessee will get to see how valuable those repetitions were worth this weekend, especially as the Volunteers continue to bring along the higher-rated McKenzie into the rotation.

Tennessee still has some experience on the interior of its defensive line, but the spotlight will shine brightest on McKenzie and Tuttle.

Jones and his staff have signed a great amount of blue-chip talent in the last couple of seasons. Now it's time for two of their star signings to prove their worth early.


All stats courtesy of Recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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

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How Week 2 AP Poll Would Look If There Wasn't a Preseason Poll

Preseason polls are meaningless, right?

That's the common complaint about releasing any top-25 ranking before a single college football game is played.

Sure, there's a small amount of truth to it. Ask 2012 Notre Dame, which went undefeated in the regular season and played Alabama for a national championship, about the value of preseason polls. After all, the Irish were unranked in the Associated Press poll to start the year.

At the same time, though, "meaningless" is such a strong word. For one, preseason rankings strike a nerve. They're nothing to get upset about, yet people gripe about them all the time. Thus, there's meaning on an individual level.

To put it one way: They're meaningless all the way up to the point where one team is overrated and another team—yours, probably—is being disrespected.

Furthermore, early-season rankings are largely an extension of their preseason counterparts. If you look at the AP poll following Week 1, you'll notice there's little change other than Texas A&M jumping to No. 16 after starting the season unranked.

Conversely, Arizona State, which lost to the Aggies, fell out of the Top 25. The same drop applies to Wisconsin and Stanford, which lost to Alabama and Northwestern, respectively.

But even if everybody wins—which was the case for many teams ranked in the preseason AP poll—there's still an opportunity to reshuffle because not all victories are created equally. This was seen with Alabama and TCU swapping spots at No. 2 and No. 3, and Notre Dame jumping two spots up to No. 11.

Overall, though, no news meant little to no change from Week 1 to Week 2.

This is an example of unintended bias. While some might insist such swapping is an overreaction, the reality is the scope of every team's body of work is extraordinarily small. And if that's what pollsters are using to rank teams—and not a preseason positioning—is it really an overreaction?

If the "get rid of preseason polls" crowd got its way, then, theoretically Week 2 rankings should be all over the place.

What would that look like this year after one weekend in the books? It would be all about first impressions, that's for sure.

As a general rule of thumb, convincingly beating a quality opponent like Virginia Tech, Wisconsin or Arizona State would hold more weight than taking a cupcake behind the woodshed. It would be all about what you did and who you did it against. Upsets (see: Northwestern, Temple) would gain some consideration as well.

If preseason polls were eliminated, we think the AP rankings would look like the ones above. Of course, they would be subject to change—perhaps extreme change—as the season progressed.


Ohio State

It's hard not to think of the Buckeyes as the "preseason No. 1 team" in this scenario. As the defending national champions, though, it's even harder to think Ohio State wouldn't get some sort of benefit of the doubt after one week.

This team is simply too talented and head coach Urban Meyer's reputation is too strong.

Beating Virginia Tech 42-24 wouldn't do much to dissuade voters, either. Yes, the Hokies had a 17-14 halftime lead, but the Buckeyes immediately responded and pulled away. With Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Braxton Miller and Curtis Samuel, there's too much to defend at once.

And Ohio State wasn't even at full strength with the suspension of defensive end Joey Bosa.

In his re-ranking of all 128 FBS teams, USA Today's Paul Myerberg spelled out what makes the Buckeyes the top team in the nation and why they'll be so hard to beat:

This will be the story of Ohio State's season: Teams will have moments of success against the Buckeyes, as did the Hokies during the second quarter in Blacksburg, but superior talent, confidence and execution will demand four quarters of excellence to unseat OSU's charge back toward the College Football Playoff.


Texas A&M

The Aggies had the most impressive win last weekend in terms of preseason ranking differential, though as head coach Kevin Sumlin noted, it didn't reflect the tone of the game. "We weren't ranked, but we were favored," Sumlin told the Associated Press (h/t

Even though preseason rankings have been thrown out here, that doesn't diminish what A&M did. The defense was aggressive and got to Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici nine times for sacks.

Already, we're seeing the influence of new defensive coordinator John Chavis.

With A&M's new-found defensive success, it would be difficult for pollsters not to buy a lot of stock. Arizona State has the tools to be a Pac-12 South contender, and on paper, this had all the makings of a shootout. Instead, A&M won with defense, and it's only a matter of time before the offense takes off as well.

For all the talk about Alabama and Auburn in the offseason, A&M is emerging as a sexy playoff pick after its win over the Sun Devils. Here's betting a fresh AP poll with no preconceived narratives would reflect that.



Remember when the words "as a general rule of thumb" about Week 1 opponents were uttered earlier in the piece? There's a reason. Oregon's season-opening win came against Eastern Washington, an FCS team.

However, can we go ahead and admit at this point that Eastern Washington would beat plenty of FBS—and possibly Power Five—teams? This is a program, after all, that beat Oregon State two years ago and gave Washington, which would have its top four defenders drafted, everything it could handle defensively.

Giving up 42 points, while a bit concerning, isn't unheard of when playing Eastern Washington. Meanwhile, former Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams was solid in his debut.

Did the Ducks have the most impressive victory in Week 1? No, but the consensus would still be that this is a top-10-caliber program.



One of the biggest beneficiaries of a reordered AP poll would be Northwestern.

Week 1 was light on upsets, which means the Wildcats' home win over Stanford takes the cake for the biggest surprise. It wasn't a blowout win by any stretch, but Northwestern dominated the Cardinal up front. That's something most people probably never thought they would say about this game.

The Big Ten West still appears to be the more wide-open division in the conference. But with Wisconsin getting pushed around by Alabama and Nebraska suffering a heartbreaking loss to BYU, there's room for other teams—like Minnesota and Northwestern—to potentially make some noise.

Certainly, the Wildcats had the most impressive win of the ones listed by's Brian Bennett:



Temple was a trendy American Athletic Conference title pick heading into the season. The Owls are among the most experienced teams in all of major college football, per Phil Steele, and have an outstanding defense.

That defense sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg not one, not two, not three, but 10 times in Week 1.

That probably says as much about Penn State as it does about Temple, but that's a "wow" performance if I've ever seen one. It certainly caught the attention of ESPN's Ivan Maisel, who has a similar Week 2 rankings philosophy. In short, what did you do?

I've adopted the College Football Playoff Selection Committee's philosophy of just-in-time ranking: how good are you right now? So that's why I put Temple, which beat Penn State at not really a neutral site, No. 13. That's why I put unranked Texas A&M at No. 4. And that's why I heavily discount games against FCS opponents.

With the opportunity to rack up more wins in the AAC, Temple could easily enter Week 2 as a Top 25 team...and stay there.


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

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Ineligible His Senior Year, 4-Star LSU Commit Dee Anderson Focused on Positives

DESOTO, Texas — The last thing Dee Anderson wants to be is a statistic.

The scenario isn't new in high school athletics, particularly with public schools in the state of Texas. Athlete gets into trouble, whether large or small. Athlete transfers to another school for a fresh start. Athlete meets with respective executive committee in a ruling to determine whether or not he can play with the new team.

And while the transfer is a go academically, the request to play sports for the new school is denied.

This is the position Anderson, the nation's No. 104 player and an LSU wide receiver commit, faces this season. But it's also a situation where he refuses to allow it to define him.

"You've got to keep going, man," said Anderson, who, despite not playing his senior season at DeSoto High School, is using the year to prepare for next-level competition—his freshman season at LSU. Anderson will graduate high school in December and will be in Baton Rouge in January in time for spring workouts at LSU.

You may not see Anderson playing on Friday nights, but he's with his DeSoto teammates in every practice during the week and wearing his No. 14 game jersey on the sidelines on Friday nights. He's working out intensely as if he's the starter, getting stronger in the weight room and running every conditioning drill on the field.

He's also the guy working with his team's defensive backs, getting them physically and mentally ready for competition.

"I can't be off the field," Anderson said. "That's just not me."

In short, Anderson doesn't want to be the guy with tons of athletic potential who didn't reach his pinnacle because of a noteworthy setback.

He doesn't want to be a statistic.


Working Hard, Helping Others

Before the summer, Anderson, a 4-star prospect, earned his stripes as a playmaking receiver for West Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas. In two varsity seasons, he caught 46 passes for 748 yards—an average of more than 16 yards per catch—and 14 touchdowns.

Life changed for Anderson right before West Mesquite's spring football game. He was dismissed from the team for what was dubbed "conduct detrimental to the team," and the then-6'4", 177-pound receiver was a notable piece missing in West Mesquite's spring game.

Now a shade below 6'5" and 194 pounds, Anderson hoped for a second chance on the field by transferring to DeSoto, a Texas powerhouse that features multiple FBS-caliber athletes each year. Although he was a member of the school, the district executive committee that oversees the University Interscholastic League's (UIL) District 8-6A—the district that DeSoto plays in—unanimously denied his request to play.

Anderson later attempted to appeal the committee's decision by taking his case to the UIL state executive committee. However, that committee denied his appeal and ruled that he transferred to DeSoto for athletic purposes.

He then went to social media to deliver the news to the masses:

"What was I thinking?" Anderson said, referring to the decision. "Oh my goodness. It was the hardest thing ever knowing I couldn't play."

Fortunately for Anderson, he has a huge backup plan to fall back on. Many seniors play to get college interest. Anderson already has his scholarship locked up—and several others if he chooses not to sign with LSU in February—so the objective now is to continue working as if he were preparing for his senior year.

And in this case, he's working to help his new team get better.

"He's going through all the individual drills and is continuing his growth as a receiver," DeSoto coach Todd Peterman said. "When the defense needs a good look at receiver, he'll give it to them. He's been nothing but a team player since he's been here. He's never taken first-team reps at DeSoto, but he's never had any issues with it. I've never seen one single issue with the kid."

Imagine that: The nation's No. 16 wide receiver and a 4-star athlete lining up as arguably the nation's most respected scout team receiver. And it's all his choice. It shows the humility and maturity of an athlete who said he's learned a lot since the spring.


Motivated, Not Devastated

A frustrated Anderson has watched DeSoto stumble to an 0-2 start, taking a nationally televised loss to Arlington (Texas) Martin and losing a Saturday showdown against Florida power IMG Academy. The loss to IMG was even tougher because it was three days prior that he received the news from the state executive committee.

But Anderson wouldn't allow frustration to turn into devastation. If anything, the decision has motivated him. He wants to show that even without a senior year of varsity football, he's ready to make a big splash in the SEC. He has all of the physical attributes coaches want in a tall, athletic wide receiver.

Academically, and perhaps most importantly in this case, Anderson has adhered to everything DeSoto's asked him to do. He gets weekly grade checks and recently met with academic counselors in preparation of the countdown to December.

"When he lost his UIL decision, I said we'd take care of him football-wise and academically," Peterman said. "We're making sure he gets what he needs from football. He's been grinding out in the classroom. We met with his counselors and the assistant principals [Tuesday], and he's going to graduate in December."

And then there's the work on and around the football field. Anderson doesn't miss voluntary weight room sessions. He's active in video sessions. He even attended a Labor Day practice.

For him, there's no off period—even though his season is on hiatus. That's one of the reasons why he and Peterman have both said LSU still wants him to sign in February.

"I talked to [LSU] once or twice a week, and they like that I'm still working," Anderson said. "That's what's driving me. I know I'm leaving early, and I know there's somebody still trying to get better than me as I try to get to the next level."

Peterman added, "He's done a spectacular job. There haven't been any issues with him. I talk to [wide receivers] Coach [Tony] Ball and let him know how Dee's doing. They know the work he's doing here. I think he's going to be just fine at LSU."


Goals to Achieve

Anderson is a part of a 2016 LSU class that includes 5-star athletes in cornerback Saivion Smith, safety Eric Monroe and defensive tackle Edwin Alexander. He is the team's only 4-star receiver pledge.

Anderson said he has a goal of getting bigger, faster and stronger before January. He doesn't want to be the freshman that sits on the bench because he's considered an athlete that's not ready for college football.

It's that attitude that makes him such a hot commodity, not only for LSU but for several other programs as well. He has 13 other reported offers, and he said one school in particular continued to stay in touch.

"I still hear from Texas," he said. "They said they're still very interested."

Whether he ultimately signs with LSU, Texas or any other program in February, Anderson is just elated that he's still in a position to sign with a university. One of the things that scared him about not playing his senior year was having teams back away.

Something else that made him apprehensive was fitting in at DeSoto. He had a feeling that some at the school would form their opinions of him based off hearsay. What he found instead was a family atmosphere and a group of coaches and teammates who embraced him.

It's a group who would go through a brick wall for him. And vice versa. That's one of the reasons why he works so hard during practices when he technically doesn't have to.

"All the conditioning drills, all the weekend workouts, that's important," he said. "Basically, I don't have my senior season, but I'm still a part of this team. I'm blessed, man; I'm blessed."

Peterman added, "We told him and his mother that no matter what happens, he's an Eagle. He's a part of us."

DeSoto will prepare for its third game this week and look to get its first victory of the year. Consider Anderson one of DeSoto's biggest supporters.

And when January comes, expect that support to reciprocate as he heads to Baton Rouge.

"Dee wants to graduate from college," Peterman said. "If the NFL comes, I know he'd love for that to be a part of his dream, but he wants to get that degree and go from there. His degree is Plan A; the NFL is Plan B, and we fully support him."


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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College Football Picks for Week 2: B/R Experts' Predictions for Top 5 Games

Week 1 of the college football season brought us a few surprises, but no real shockers. Will Week 2 be any different?

On the schedule are a pair of SEC payback games, a battle between two College Football Playoff hopefuls and an intriguing nonconference showdown between two tradition-rich programs. 

The marquee game for Saturday sees the Oregon Ducks take their high-powered offense to East Lansing to play Michigan State. The Spartans are looking to exact a bit of revenge on Oregon, who beat them last season in Eugene. Whoever comes out on top in this matchup between Top 10 schools will add a great resume-building win early in the season. 

Another intriguing game features the upstart Tennessee Volunteers hosting Oklahoma. Both teams are rich with talent on both sides of the ball. Will the Sooners be able to control Tennessee's rush offense, which racked up 399 yards on the ground last week? It's sure to be a raucous atmosphere in Neyland Stadium.

A battle of non-Power Five conference teams is also on the schedule, as Boise State travels to Provo to face BYU. The Cougars are fresh off their game-winning Hail Mary against Nebraska last week, and will now have to rely on freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum to lead the offense after do-everything star Taysom Hill is once again sidelined for the year with his third season-ending injury

Lastly, LSU and South Carolina will be looking for payback against Mississippi State and Kentucky, respectively, in two SEC showdown games. The Bayou Bengals lost at home last year against Dak Prescott and MSU, in what turned out to be the Bulldogs' "We're for real" game. The winner of this game will let the rest of the SEC West know it's not to be taken lightly this season. 

And Kentucky's fourth-quarter comeback against South Carolina in 2014 will be fresh on the mind of Steve Spurrier, as he readies his Gamecocks squad for what is sure to be another hard-fought game.

Ben Kercheval took an early lead for our experts, nailing each game from last week to start 5-0. Can he do it again? Sound off in the comments below on their picks and who you think will win in Week 2.

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12 Most Astonishing Stats from Week 1 of 2015 College Football Season

With a clean slate for every team and a full weekend of games, Week 1 of the college football season featured quite a number of eye-popping stats.

Some were more expected than others, like the nation's No. 1 offense in points and yardage two years running leading the nation in yards per play—or a back from a big-play rushing attack lighting up a FCS opponent with just a small number of carries.

But a lot of other numbers from the opening weekend were quite surprising. One of the biggest long shots in the last decade knocked off a Power Five opponent. Two of the nation's longest active winning streaks came to an end on the same day. Big names faltered on offense while a pair of little-known defenders recorded a rare feat.

Here are a dozen of the most astonishing stats from the first weekend of the college football season. These range from the record breaking to the head scratching, covering powerhouse schools and small-school underdogs.

Of course, there were more astonishing stats to be found in the box scores and the fresh national leaderboards in Week 1. Post your surprising statistical nuggets in the comments below.

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Ohio State vs. Hawaii: Complete Game Preview

Urban Meyer and No. 1 Ohio State (1-0) kicked off their title defense with a 42-24 victory over Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium, avenging the only loss it suffered during its championship run in 2015. With the Buckeyes getting their revenge, they're set to return to Columbus, Ohio, for their home opener against Hawaii.

With just five days to prepare, Ohio State will have a short week to prepare for a Rainbow Warriors team that's coming off a 28-20 upset victory over Colorado.  

Will the Buckeyes be ready for Hawaii, or are they bound for a letdown after an emotional outing against Virginia Tech?


Date: Saturday, Sept. 12

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Place: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: Ohio State Football Radio Network, Hawaii Radio Partner

Spread: Ohio State State (-40), via Odds Shark 

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Danny O'Brien Suspended: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction on Tennessee DT

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones announced Wednesday that defensive tackle Danny O'Brien has been suspended for one game for a violation of team rules.  

Wes Rucker of 247Sports reported the news and included what Jones had to say about O'Brien's ban for Saturday's upcoming matchup with Oklahoma:

It's disappointing anytime you have to do that...It's like [disciplining] your own kids. You hate to do it, but you have to do it. We have standards and expectations...I feel for Danny. He's done some very good things in our football program. We're working with him. We'll see what happens down the road.

Jones added that O'Brien made a "bad choice" as opposed to having poor character, though he didn't get into any further specifics on the matter.'s Charlie Burris weighed in on what O'Brien's absence means for Tennessee's rotation in the defensive trenches:

Most intriguing among those who can fill in for O'Brien for the time being is Kahlil McKenzie. The true freshman was a 5-star recruit and was rated by 247Sports' composite rankings as the No. 6 overall prospect in the country and the second-best defensive tackle.

O'Brien is a redshirt junior whose impact will have to be emulated by multiple players ahead of the Vols' Top 25 showdown with the Sooners. He had a sack in the season-opening win over Bowling Green and racked up 23 total tackles (4.5 TFL) last season, per

This Saturday is a golden opportunity for McKenzie to have a coming-out party of sorts and for Tennessee to shine on the national stage in an early crossroads clash of sorts for two marquee programs. As it stands now, O'Brien could be available to return for September 19's game against Western Carolina.

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Will No. 1 Overall Recruit Rashan Gary Commit to SEC or Big Ten?

The recruitment of 5-star defensive tackle and No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary is coming into focus less than five months before signing day.

While Gary has yet to officially trim his list, he did offer a nugget to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports that puts schools in two conferences squarely in the picture.

“When my (final) list comes out you’ll see the majority of my schools are either SEC or Big Ten,” Gary told Bartow.

Michigan, Ohio State and Rutgers are among the top contenders for Gary from the Big Ten, while SEC powers such as Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU are among his primary suitors located down south.

Which league will Gary ultimately be playing in next fall?

It’s still a little too early to tell, as schools in both leagues have held the momentum with him at various points in his recruitment.

Right now, as Bartow notes, the SEC seems to be trending with the 6’4”, 311-pounder.

A summer swing through the SEC saw schools such as Auburn, Georgia and LSU—which got him on campus twice within one-month period—surge with him.

LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is part of the reason why Gary is intrigued with heading to Baton Rouge.

“Just the people,” Gary told Bartow on what impressed him at LSU. “I had to have my mom see it because my mom is a big part of my decision. To see if she had the same vibe I had from it. (Orgeron) coaches the d-line. That’s what he’s known for. He coached Leonard Williams. That’s who I feel I play like. I have the same body type. Coach (Orgeron) is great and I feel I could maybe be one of his next (great defensive linemen).”

Also, he’s planning an official visit to Auburn for Nov. 28 when they host in-state rival Alabama.

However, Michigan is still the school that holds perhaps the most connections with Gary.

His former head coach at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey was Chris Partridge, who is now a recruiting operations assistant with the Wolverines.

That type of familiarity is a big plus for the Wolverines. 

“Coach Partridge is my [former] coach,” Gary said. “He knows the type of defensive scheme I like and do well in. He knows the type of people I like to be around. He would keep my mom updated.”

Additionally, the Wolverines have recruited the Garden State native hard in the 2016 cycle. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has been able to land commitments from three fellow New Jersey standouts already, which can only help them in their quest to lock up Gary.

Counting out a program with the recruiting clout that Ohio State has would also be unwise at this stage.

Heading down the stretch of his recruitment, his visit schedule will likely give an indication of where he is leaning.

While the SEC has more schools in the group of programs vying for his visits, expect all of the schools recruiting Gary—including his Big Ten favorites—to continue to push hard down to the wire in hopes of landing his commitment on signing day.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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