NCAA Football News

USC vs. Cal: Game Grades, Analysis for the Trojans

The USC Trojans pulled out an impressive 27-21 road victory Saturday over the California Golden Bears. 

Running back Ronald Jones II, along with the USC defense, led the way as the Trojans overpowered California with their physical play, which has been an emphasis under interim head coach Clay Helton. 

The victory keeps USC very much alive in the Pac-12 South race, something that was not expected after the turbulent firing of Steve Sarkisian nearly a month ago. Here is a look at how the Trojans graded out by unit in Berkeley: 

Pass Offense

Despite his status as one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, Cody Kessler was more of a game manager Saturday. He attempted only eight passes in the second half as USC leaned on the running game to wear down the California defense. Kessler finished with 186 yards and no touchdowns on 18-of-22 passing. However, the reduced role did not seem to affect the senior after the game, per the Daily Trojan:

A reason for USC’s lack of a passing attack was the ineffectiveness of star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The sophomore was limited with an injury, recording just 55 yards through the air. Helton addressed the situation after the game: 

The passing game was still good enough to command some respect from the Cal defense, which in turn allowed the running game to continue to thrive. 

 

Run Offense

Jones totaled 80 yards and a touchdown on only 11 carries, and Tre Madden added 62 yards and a score to lead the Trojans offense. The team racked up 185 rushing yards in total. This unit sealed the game on its final drive, converting on multiple third downs to run out the clock. The critical play in the series came on a busted play that Madden turned outside for an 11-yard gain on fourth down.

Take a look at what Madden salvaged:

Kessler also noted the importance of the run game, according to Shotgun Spratling of the Los Angeles Times:

The unit would have earned an “A” grade, but logging only 3.7 yards per carry means there was definitely room for overall improvement. 

 

Pass Defense

Coming into the game, the unit that would decide whether or not USC prevailed was the secondary. California quarterback Jared Goff and his talented receiving group make up one of the nation’s best passing attacks. The Trojans secondary was inconsistent at times, particularly in the first half, but it came up with two huge interceptions, including this pick-six from Adoree’ Jackson:

This play was the difference in the game. USC held Goff to less than 300 yards passing, which is an accomplishment considering his past success. 

 

Run Defense

The return of Cal running back Daniel Lasco provided another challenge for the USC defense. However, California’s running game was not much of a factor. Lasco finished with 64 yards and a touchdown as his team totaled just 117 rush yards. This allowed USC to turn California into a one-dimensional offense and ultimately resulted in the victory. 

 

Special Teams

USC’s specialists did not particularly stand out Saturday, which means they did their jobs. Alex Wood connected on both of his field goals, including a career-long 43-yarder. Punter Kris Albarado was superb as well, averaging 42 yard on his four attempts. Wood’s field goals did not appear too significant at the time, but the six points were the difference on the scoreboard. 

 

Coaching

All eyes are on Helton to see how he would handle a difficult situation at USC, but he has been excellent so far. He and his staff made a few solid adjustments during Saturday’s tilt. The offense got away from excessive bubble passes and focused on the run, which made a huge impact on the outcome. USC also implemented a nice mix of man and zone coverages in the secondary to confuse Goff, which resulted in two picks.

An increased focus on the run game is something Helton has tried to establish this season, per USC football reporter Paolo Uggetti:

The third-down play-calling was mediocre as Cal stopped the Trojans multiple times on 3rd-and-short because of overly complicated plays. Regardless, Helton seems to have changed the culture at USC.

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Should USC Hire Clay Helton as Full-Time Head Coach If Trojans Keep Winning?

Interim head coach Clay Helton led USC to a 27-21 win over Cal, shoring up his bid to become the Trojans' full-time head coach.

The much-maligned USC defense held Cal to a season-low 398 yards, and the somehow-even-more-maligned offensive line, a constant source of frustration, owned the line of scrimmage on the last drive of the game, helping the Trojans run out the clock after Cal cut the lead to one score.

Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer praised Helton for the new brand of football:

For sure, Helton remains a long shot to win the full-time job. He's never led a team in the capacity. If USC let Ed Orgeron, a former SEC head coach who thrived after replacing Lane Kiffin two years ago, walk instead of giving him the real job, why would it promote the greener Helton?

That's a fair question.

But if USC keeps winning, the answer becomes, "why not?"

The Orgeron-Helton parallels are so obvious they smack you in the face.

Both, for example, replaced head coaches who flamed out in messy fashion. Kiffin was fired on the tarmac after returning from a 62-41 loss at Arizona State; Steve Sarkisian was fired after reportedly showing up to a meeting drunk and amid reports of his struggles with alcohol use, according to the Seattle Times' Adam Jude

Both also sparked immediate turnarounds. Orgeron led a 3-2 team to an 8-2 finish, losing to Notre Dame and UCLA but upsetting then-No. 5 Stanford. Helton has led a 3-2 team to two wins in three games, losing, like Orgeron, in a close game at Notre Dame but upsetting then-No. 3 Utah.

The way USC is playing, it's reasonable to think it can run the table. Arizona, Oregon and UCLA remain on the schedule, but all three have been worse this year than last year. If the Trojans win out and Utah drops one more game, they would also win the Pac-12 South.

If that happens, Helton becomes a favorite to win the job. How could he not? He said upfront he wants to be the eventual head coach, and turning Sarkisian's wreckage into a division (or conference) championship requires magic. If magic's not enough to win the job, what would be?

But even if Helton loses to UCLA, following the exact same template as Coach O, he should probably earn a serious interview. If the Trojans had a chance to do it over, would they not just hire Orgeron over Sark? Considering all the chaos that's happened since?

Would they really ignore such a clear chance for redemption?

After Coach O led the upset of Stanford, there was steam for him to earn the full-time job.

Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer wrote the following (emphasis my own):

This isn’t about beating UCLA in the final game of the season—although don’t think this won’t loom large in the decision. It's not about one-half of a season and the short-term buzz that has stretched well beyond the West Coast. It’s also not about past failures or how other interim coaches have done when handed the keys to the car. And it's not about landing the big name, the headline-grabbing hire that guarantees nothing but short-term press.

This is about fit, and at this point it’s becoming increasingly difficult to argue that anyone fits this program better than the sword-wielding coach making the most of his opportunity.

Pressure to "land the big name" is normal at USC. How could it not be when former head coach Pete Carroll, who led the Trojans to seven straight BCS bowl games, has since won a Super Bowl (and nearly won a second) with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks?

Trying to reproduce the Carroll years led USC to Kiffin. When that didn't work, it led them to Sarkisian. Both were offensive coordinators under Carroll in the mid- to late 2000s.

Athletic director Pat Haden wanted to thread one regime with another, to hire a coach he could sell for reasons outside of winning. Neither Kiffin nor Sark had ever coached a team to 10 wins. Haden hired them because they fit the story.

Helton would be the opposite: someone hired because of his record, not his resume. He's not the big name USC is looking for, but how many "big names" are even on the market?

Chip Kelly isn't coming, and neither is Brian Kelly. Kyle Whittingham is solid but unspectacular. Brian Harsin, Justin Fuente and Tom Herman remain mostly unproven. Even former Trojans linebacker Jack Del Rio, whose name pops up whenever USC runs a coaching search, seems settled as the Oakland Raiders' head coach.

This all becomes moot if USC falls back, but for now it has a good thing going. Why not ride the hot hand with Helton?

"I am getting more comfortable with each and every game," the interim coach said Saturday, per ATVN Sports.

How good might he be once he is comfortable?

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Florida's Defense, Run Game Make Gators Legit Playoff Contenders

Georgia entered the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party spinning its wheels offensively, and for 60 minutes inside EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday afternoon, Florida acted as an oil slick.

The Gators baffled Bulldogs starting quarterback Faton Bauta, who made his first career start after serving as the third-stringer for the first two months of the season, en route to a 27-3 win.

It wasn't as close as the score indicated.

Bauta completed just 15 of 33 passes for 154 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions and looked as lost as you'd expect a backup to look when making his first start in a key spot.

As Nick de la Torre of GatorCountry.com noted during the game, it was a snooze-fest early thanks to the work of head coach Jim McElwain and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins' crew:

Georgia's offense hardly had momentum, but Florida's defense again proved that it is one of the nation's best and is fully capable of leading the team to the SEC East title and squarely into playoff contention.

Up front, Jonathan Bullard has become a monster along the Gator defensive line. He finished the day with four total tackles, split a tackle for loss with Brian Poole and generally owned the middle of Georgia's offensive line all afternoon. As Chris Low of ESPN.com noted, that sound you hear is the NFL cash register:

Say what you will about Bauta and the decision of Bulldog Mark Richt to mix things up in the biggest game of the season, but Sony Michel and Keith Marshall are still super talented running backs, and Georgia's offensive line is supposed to be one of the best run-blocking units in the country.

There was no room for anything on Saturday, thanks to the Gators.

Michel finished with just 45 yards, Marshall managed just 16, the Bulldogs as a team gained just 69 on the ground and that allowed the Gators to tee off on Bauta once Florida built a lead.

Another important thing happened on Saturday afternoon along the First Coast—Florida found a running game.

Kelvin Taylor rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Treon Harris added 39 yards, freshman Jordan Scarlett racked up 96 and the Gators looked like a bona fide threat on the ground.

Not bad for a rushing attack that came into the day 13th in the SEC with 126.71 yards per game on the ground against a Bulldog rushing defense that had allowed just 21 for an entire game the last time out against Missouri.

Did Harris look great through the air? Not really. He started out 2-of-11 before settling in nicely and finishing with 155 passing yards and a score. But that's on the heels of a solid outing through the air two weeks ago versus LSU.

Now, though, he can fine-tune his game through the air down the stretch. 

South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida Atlantic don't exactly strike fear in opposing offenses (although Vandy isn't half-bad), which means the "Florida 2.0" offense under Harris has plenty of time to get right prior to the rivalry game with Florida State to end the regular season.

At that point, Florida will essentially be playing national playoff games.

Beat the Seminoles, and a trip to Atlanta should be for a College Football Playoff berth. 

It's crazy to think that Florida—a team that had to piece together its offensive line on the fly, adjust to a new coaching staff under McElwain and deal with the sudden suspension of starting quarterback Will Grier—could be a legit contender for the playoff

But that's where we are in college football in 2015.

Gators in the playoff discussion—get used to seeing quite a bit of that as the College Football Playoff rankings start getting released over the next month.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

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

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College Football Scores 2015: Week 9 Results, Twitter Reaction and Highlights

Florida State was not about to let Syracuse come to Doak Walker Stadium and even think about scoring an upset. At least that was the plan.

However, when the Orange scored the opening touchdown of the game on an Eric Dungey one-yard TD run, it raised some eyebrows. However, the Seminoles answered one play later when Travis Rudolph caught a 75-yard scoring pass from Sean Maguire, and that shocked the visitors.

Those two combined on a 45-yard TD pitch and catch later in the first quarter, which gave Florida State a lead that it would not relinquish. 

The game turned into a rout in the second quarter as Florida State continued to move the ball up and down the field with little resistance. Syracuse was trailing by 31 points in the fourth quarter when the Orange scored on a late punt return to make the game a bit closer.

Florida State's high-powered offense was the key factor in this game. The Seminoles gained 575 yards and had a 354-130 edge in passing yards.

No Dalvin Cook? No problem. Florida State gets 3 TD performances from 3 players to bounce back and beat Syracuse. pic.twitter.com/0nThImATse

— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 31, 2015

Syracuse had no answers for Rudolph, who caught five passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns. It couldn't do much with Jacques Patrick either, who rushed for 162 yards and three TDs.

Stars of the Week

QB Sean Maguire, Florida State

It's one thing to do the expected when you are the starter and a team you are supposed to beat comes to Tallahassee with little hope of winning.

It's quite another to meet the expectations of others when you have to step into the starting lineup and perform like a star.

That's just what Sean Maguire did for Florida State (7-1) in the Seminoles' victory over Syracuse (3-5). Starting quarterback Everett Golson couldn't play because of a concussion, although no announcement was made that Maguire would start until shortly before kickoff.

If Maguire was nervous, it did not show as he completed 23 of 35 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns—all to Rudolph. Maguire threw for 302 yards in the first half, and that's when the Seminoles took charge of their game.

Maguire did not promote himself in a potential quarterback duel/controversy with Golson, but Tim Linafelt of Seminoles.com reported that the quarterback was not averse to giving head coach Jimbo Fisher something to think about:

Sean Maguire joked about FSU’s QB race going forward: "That’s Coach Fisher’s problem. I can only cause him problems, I guess.”

— Tim Linafelt / FSU (@Tim_Linafelt) October 31, 2015

 

QB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

Ole Miss (7-2) knew it would have a tough battle going into Auburn to play the struggling Tigers.

This is a down year for Auburn (4-4), but the Tigers lost their previous game in four overtimes against Arkansas and were not about to go down for a second straight game without a fight.

Auburn battled hard, but Ole Miss came up with the 27-19 win, and quarterback Chad Kelly was on top of his game.

Now THIS is a thing of beauty. Chad Kelly drops a dime to Laqaon Treadwell for a TD! #OleMiss 27 #Auburn 19 4thQ pic.twitter.com/PrPEMp23Tb

— Rivals.com (@Rivals) October 31, 2015

He was under pressure from the Auburn defense and was hit hard throughout the game.

Kelly still managed to complete 33 of 51 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. His 21-yard TD pass to Laquon Treadwell in the fourth quarter allowed the Rebels to turn a one-point lead into an eight-point margin.

Ole Miss has SEC No. 1 passer and receiver. Auburn can't stop anybody. Ole Miss still controls destiny in SEC West

— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) October 31, 2015

 

WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma

Sterling Shepard did a lot of damage in the first half for the Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) as they dominated overmatched Kansas (0-8).

Shepard caught 11 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, as the Sooners simply ran away from the Jayhawks 62-7. Shepard was able to get open throughout the first half when Oklahoma built a 38-7 lead.

Oklahoma outscored Kansas 24-0 in the second half, but many of the starters had left the lineup by that time, and the Sooners cruised to an easy win. 

The 5'10", 191-pound Shepard has caught 43 passes for 732 yards and six touchdowns this season.

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Colorado vs. UCLA: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The Colorado Buffaloes (4-5) nearly earned their first road win over a ranked team in 13 years Saturday afternoon, but the No. 24 UCLA Bruins (6-2) withstood the Buffaloes' second-half push to emerge with a 35-31 win at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA led 21-6 at halftime and appeared to be on its way to a comfortable win a week after smoking Jared Goff and the California Golden Bears, 40-24. 

However, the Buffaloes' 43rd-ranked offense kept the Bruins defense on its heels. Colorado ran 114 plays, and as ESPN.com's Ted Miller observed, UCLA appeared to be winded down the stretch as Colorado attempted to take the lead with time ticking away: 

According to Bleacher Report's Brian Pedersen, Colorado tied the FBS record for offensive plays in a game. 

Colorado torched UCLA with its multipronged rushing attack throughout the afternoon, and the Bruins didn't have an answer as the Buffaloes mounted a second-half charge. Colorado outscored UCLA 25-14 in the second half, including a 15-point explosion in the fourth quarter.

Colorado rushed for 242 yards, including 100 from Patrick Carr, 62 from Donovan Lee and another 45 from quarterback Sefo Liufau, who also threw for 312 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. 

Carr punched in a go-ahead touchdown run with just over 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, per the Pac-12 Networks on Twitter, but UCLA responded minutes later:

Quarterback Josh Rosen marched the Bruins 69 yards down the field in just 27 seconds to help give UCLA a four-point lead with 8:28 remaining in the contest, but as Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer explained, the quick strike wasn't ideal, given the time-of-possession disparity: 

UCLA escaped with the win, but the way Colorado dominated the clock wasn't inspiring for a UCLA team that entered Saturday afternoon ranked 69th in yards allowed per game (397.0). When all was said and done, Colorado (36:25) nearly doubled UCLA's (18:55) time of possession.

SB Nation's Bill Connelly provided a graphic representation of Colorado's statistical domination: 

Despite the outrageous discrepancy, Rosen and the Bruins stood tall. The freshman completed 19 of 33 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown, marking the second straight game in which he didn't toss an interception. Rosen has also thrown for at least 250 yards in five straight contests.

Running back Paul Perkins added 12 carries for 118 yards, 82 of which came on a second-quarter touchdown rumble, per the Pac-12 Networks: 

As the Bruins displayed Saturday, they have the offensive talent to give opponents fits. The task for Rosen, Perkins and receivers such as Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte moving forward will be controlling the clock enough to give the defense breathers. 

A winnable matchup with Oregon State awaits, but Saturday showed UCLA can't take any Pac-12 foe for granted, according to the Orange County Register's Ryan Kartje:

It will be difficult for fans in Boulder, Colorado, to find sources of optimism. After opening the season 3-1, the Buffaloes have dropped four of their last five, with the lone win in that stretch coming over the Beavers. 

Colorado remained competitive against Oregon, Arizona, Hawaii and UCLA, but as ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg noted, that may not be enough:

Considering that the remainder of Colorado's regular-season schedule includes meetings with Stanford, USC, Washington State and Utah, Saturday may have represented the Buffaloes' last chance at a victory this season.

 

Post-Game Reaction

One of UCLA's key defensive cogs explained how the defense was able to survive against a Colorado offense that seemingly never left the field, per Pac-12 Networks: 

Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News relayed Mora's thoughts about his team's defense, as well as a take from a Bruins defensive lineman: 

"That was about a gritty a win as I’ve ever been around," head coach Jim Mora said, per the Daily Bruin's Claire Fahy. "It was one of the most rewarding wins as I’ve been here, three and a half years." 

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Notre Dame vs. Temple: Live Score and Highlights

No. 9 Notre Dame - 0

No. 21 Temple - 0

11:00 1st Quarter

TV: ABC

In the only battle of ranked teams this week, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish get an unexpected chance at a College Football Playoff resume builder as they square off against the Temple Owls. 

Stay plugged in below for continued updates, as this game looks to be a thriller. 

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Owners Dress Dog Up as Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh

Sometimes, people go overboard with their dogs on Halloween. Other times, the owners give that hound a legendary costume.

This would fall under the latter category.

It’s safe to say these owners are Michigan fans, and instead of dressing their pooch as a Wolverine (hashtag lame), they went all out.

Behold, the “Har-dog."

If the dog embraces the costume, it absolutely will go after the first referee it sees and even toss the nearest clipboard in disdain:


[Twitter, YouTube]

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USC vs. Cal: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The USC Trojans picked up their second win in a row under interim head coach Clay Helton, defeating the California Golden Bears 27-21 on Saturday in Berkeley, California.

While Helton's specialty is the offensive side of the ball, defense is quickly becoming the hallmark for his USC team, as the Trojans intercepted Jared Goff on two occasions and limited the high-powered Cal attack to 389 yards, down from its season average of 505 yards per game entering Saturday.

Goff went 23-of-31 for 272 yards, two touchdowns and two picks—the second game in a row in which he was held to under 300 yards through the air.

Defense played a big role for the Trojans in the win, but the running game was equally vital. Coming into the game, USC ranked 105th in time of possession (27.3 minutes per game). The Trojans held the ball for 35 minutes, eight seconds Saturday. 

USC gained 185 yards as a team on 50 carries. The trio of Ronald Jones II, Tre Madden and Justin Davis helped control the clock and keep the Golden Bears offense off the field.

The Trojans haven't started well in any of their last three games, but in what's becoming a trend under Helton, they have started to find their footing once the second quarter kicks off, per Reign of Troy:

Goff helped put the Golden Bears ahead 7-0 with a six-yard TD pass to wideout Bryce Treggs early in the first quarter, but USC reeled off 24 unanswered points to take control.

Jones got the Trojans on the board with a 13-yard touchdown run to help tie the game 1:33 into the second quarter. Alex Wood then gave USC a slim 10-7 lead with a 22-yard field goal as halftime approached.

Madden added to the lead at the 9:46 mark of the third quarter after finding the end zone on a two-yard run. USC did a great job of wearing down the Golden Bears defense, eating up 67 yards in a little over five minutes on 13 plays.

For Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times, the drive echoed the same trademarks that made the Trojans successful in the past:

While it wasn't a knockout blow for Cal, the next play from scrimmage was disastrous for the Golden Bears and potentially the biggest moment of the game.

Goff is one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2016 NFL draft, but the Golden Bears signal-caller did nothing to bolster his stock with this throw on Cal's first drive of the second half, per the Pac-12 Networks:

Goff gifted Adoree' Jackson the interception, but the star defensive back demonstrated his athleticism by weaving his way to the end zone. SB Nation's Brian Floyd noticed that Goff suffered further indignity on the play in addition to the pick-six:

Neon Tommy's Paolo Uggetti highlighted how the USC front seven played a big role in causing the turnover:

Goff rebounded after the interception and led Cal on a 10-play, 81-yard drive that culminated in a six-yard touchdown run by running back Daniel Lasco to help get the home side within two scores, 24-14.

But Wood nailed his second field goal of the game to provide USC with more breathing room. Then, as the Golden Bears looked poised to trim the deficit, Goff threw his second interception of the game. Goff was looking for Kenny Lawler on the sideline but only found Trojans defensive back Kevon Seymour.

SB Nation's Spencer Hall found the silver lining for the junior QB:

Not to be deterred, Goff completed a critical fourth-down throw on Cal's next drive, and the Golden Bears scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Stephen Anderson:

Cal head coach Sonny Dykes eschewed an onside kick, opting instead to rely on his defense. With 3:52 left in the game after Anderson's TD grab, you couldn't blame Dykes for his decision.

The strategy nearly paid off after the Golden Bears looked to stuff Madden on 3rd-and-1, but the senior somehow bounced outside and gained 14 yards. ESPN.com's Arash Markazi provided a great look at how the play was developing before Madden found the open field:

USC picked up another first down, which enabled the Trojans to run out the rest of the clock and secure the victory.

As bad as things looked for USC following its loss to Washington on Oct. 8, the Trojans' hopes of winning the Pac-12 South aren't dead. They're just a game behind Utah, which still has to play Arizona on the road and UCLA, both of which could be tricky games.

USC shouldn't book those tickets for Santa Clara, California, for the Pac-12 Championship Game yet; the Trojans still need some pieces to fall in their favor. Still, fans have to feel better about the team now than they did with former head coach Steve Sarkisian on the sidelines.

For Cal, the defeat all but eliminates the Golden Bears as contenders in the Pac-12 North. With a 2-3 conference record, they need too many teams ahead of them to slip up in order to secure first place.

 

Post-Game Reaction

"We're 2-0 in the second half of the season and dang proud of it," said Helton in his post-game interview with FS1's Molly McGrath (via Markazi).

An injury to playmaker JuJu Smith-Schuster put a small damper on the win for USC, though. According to Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News, Smith-Schuster has a fracture in his hand, which may require a cast for the immediate future.

On the other sideline, Dykes will have to deal with keeping his players in the right frame of mind after a third consecutive loss, with the defeats to USC and Utah coming by six points apiece.

"It's not good right now. We're disappointed," Dykes said of the mood in his locker room, per Cal football's Twitter account. "We've felt like we've played good enough to win two games. We certainly have played well enough against two teams that have at one time or another been in the top 10 this year. For us to go into the 4th quarter and be in it to win, we want to do it and that's the next step for us."

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Tennessee vs. Kentucky: Live Score and Highlights

The Tennessee Volunteers have gone to bed happy 29 of the past 30 game days against Kentucky, but the ramifications of slipping up against the Wildcats on Halloween night are scary.

Win out, and UT can get to eight wins and a strong bowl game. Lose, and the grumbles that echoed off Rocky Top during the early season will be loud and clear again. Kentucky needs a win to inch closer to bowl eligibility.

Keep it right here for all the live-blogging action!

 

KENTUCKY 7, TENNESSEE 7 2nd Quarter

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JuJu Smith-Schuster Injury: Updates on USC WR's Hand and Return

USC Trojans' playmaking wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a fractured hand during Saturday's game against California. His status going forward is unknown at this time.

Continue for updates.

Smith-Schuster, Helton Comment on Injury Saturday, Oct. 31

"It'll be a pain tolerance thing for him," USC head coach Clay Helton said of Smith-Schuster's fracture, per Dave Lombardi of ESPN.com.

Smith-Schuster said he expects to get a cast on his injured hand but thinks he can keep playing, per Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News. 

That right hand has been the stuff of legend recently, as ESPN College Football noted:

The sophomore wide receiver has developed into quarterback Cody Kessler's most productive target this season. He leads the Trojans with 52 receptions for 956 yards and boasts blazing speed and a reliable set of hands.

He and Kessler have been clicking on all cylinders, as Smith-Schuster has been a menace down the field. The Pac-12 Networks highlighted his 50-yard touchdown reception against Idaho earlier this season:

Other than Smith-Schuster, though, USC does not have much depth at wide receiver. While he has 52 receptions, the next leading receiver, Adoree' Jackson, had just 17 going into Saturday. 

Kessler will have to find a new favorite target if he wants his offense to continue to thrive. Losing a player of Smith-Schuster's caliber could be damaging to an already lost season. 

 

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.

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Michigan vs. Minnesota: Live Score and Highlights

Michigan 14, Minnesota 13—Late 2nd Quarter

The No. 15 Michigan Wolverines and Minnesota Golden Gophers are battling for the Little Brown Jug at TCF Bank Stadium.

ESPN is broadcasting the Big Ten tilt. Bleacher Report is providing scoring updates, highlights and analysis. Feel free to join the conversation in the comments.

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Texas vs. Iowa State: Live Score and Highlights

Iowa State 7, Texas 0—2nd Quarter

Freshman standout Mike Warren gives the Cyclones the early lead over the Longhorns.

Tonight's Big 12 action can be found on Fox Sports 1. Follow this page throughout for live updates and analysis. We'll also have grades for Texas' positional units after the game.

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Kyler Murray vs. South Carolina: Stats, Highlights and Reaction

Freshman Kyler Murray took full advantage of his first career start Saturday against South Carolina. 

Leading Texas A&M to a 35-28 victory over the Gamecocks, he went 20-of-28 for 223 yards and a touchdown through the air, adding 156 rushing yards and another touchdown on the ground. 

It was a history-making day for Murray, as SportsCenter pointed out:

His first touchdown of the game came with 6:42 left in the first quarter, a 10-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds, as ESPN College Football showed:

While he was efficient through the air, completing over 71 percent of his passes, Murray was a menace on the ground, carving apart the South Carolina defense. Corbett Smith of the Dallas Morning News highlighted one of his longest runs of the day, a 28-yard scramble for a first down that brought the Aggies into the red zone:

His second and final touchdown came on a 4th-and-1 in the third quarter with the game tied at 21. It was a big play call for the freshman, who all but walked in for the go-ahead score, as ESPN College Football showcased:

For Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, the coaching staff and Murray coexisted well Saturday, according to Battalion Sports:

This explosive start was just the kind of confidence boost both Murray and Texas A&M needed. The quarterback has been struggling to find playing time behind regular starter Kyle Allen, while the Aggies have struggled to stay inside the Top 25 rankings and in the hunt for the SEC West. 

If Allen can continue to bring this kind of dual threat to the Texas A&M offense, the Aggies are going to be a formidable group to play against for the next few years. 

 

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

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Gus Malzahn's Poor Play-Calling Limiting an Already Struggling Auburn Offense

Through all the offensive turnover Auburn had entering 2015, the Tigers still could feel confident in the strategic advantage of innovative head coach Gus Malzahn.

But on Saturday, in Auburn's 27-19 loss to Ole Miss, writers and fans alike were left wondering what exactly is going on inside Malzahn's patented visor. 

Auburn's offense went 2-of-15 on third downs against the Rebels. It turned three red-zone trips into a grand total of nine points. It also scored just three points off two interceptions from Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly.

Some of those woes come down to execution. Auburn's offensive line took a step back. The wide receivers have struggled with drops since the dismissal of the sure-handed Duke Williams.

Health became a factor Saturday, too. Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean White, who was a game-time decision due to a knee injury, played through obvious pain to deliver some clutch passes.

But a lot of Auburn's offensive troubles on Saturday purely came down to Malzahn's play-calling, which has regressed from brilliant to baffling this season. 

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee had a harsher word for it:

Granted, Malzahn dialed up a couple of successful deep passes to flip the field against the Rebels—including a gadget play in which backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson completed a risky bomb to Tony Stevens in double coverage.

But what happened after those big plays received plenty of valid criticism.

In the third quarter, with Auburn trailing by three points, White hit Melvin Ray for a 44-yard gain. Auburn followed that up with a 22-yard run and an 11-yard run from a now seemingly healthy Jovon Robinson.

But after Robinson was stuffed in the backfield on 1st-and-goal at the Ole Miss 4-yard line, the Tigers never went back to him. Johnson came in for a short quarterback draw, and White was sacked on third down on a play that started at the 3-yard line.

After a field goal, a similar scenario happened for Auburn on its next drive, when the Tigers were now down by seven points.

White connected on a long pass play to Ricardo Louis, and Robinson combined for 17 yards on back-to-back runs to get Auburn into the red zone. After Robinson went for no gain on the next play, the Tigers threw two incompletions, got called for a blatant holding call and settled for another short field goal.

When another scoring opportunity presented itself off a Kelly interception near midfield, Auburn did the same thing—long pass to get into the red zone, followed by a stopped run and back-to-back incompletions inside the Ole Miss 5-yard line.

To recap, Auburn only handed the ball off three times to its running backs on 10 offensive plays in the red zone. White went 1-of-5 through the air and was sacked on a third down.

Malzahn offenses of seasons past would have hammered the ball at its opponents deep in the red zone instead of abandoning the running game after one negative play.

Former Auburn lineman Chad Slade, who played on those offenses, voiced his frustrations on Twitter:

But this isn't the same kind of Malzahn offense this season—both in execution and play-calling.

In terms of turning red-zone conversions, Auburn is lining up more for field goals than extra points than it has in years past.

Outside of the 20s, Malzahn had a few more head-scratching decisions.

A few plays after Blake Countess picked off Kelly inside Auburn territory, Auburn surprisingly went to Johnson on an ill-advised running play with just before halftime.

"Johnson nearly fumbled the ball on a critical play with 11 seconds remaining in the first half that could have been returned for a touchdown by the Rebels," Brandon Marcello of AL.com wrote. "He was down on the play, but the decision to go with Johnson at quarterback was baffling in the first place."

Questions were also asked on Auburn's two failed fourth-down conversions. 

Malzahn elected to throw the ball on 4th-and-2 near midfield midway through the second quarter. While the aggressive decision to go for it would have been a welcome sight for Auburn fans, throwing the ball in a short-yardage situation with a banged-up quarterback couldn't have been one.

Ole Miss took advantage of the good field position by tying the game on the next drive.

Later, with Auburn trailing by eight points late in the fourth quarter, White chunked an aimless deep ball on fourth down when the Tigers just needed nine yards to keep the drive alive.

The bottom line is Auburn's offense was nowhere near the usual Malzahn standard Saturday against an Ole Miss team that, while putting up 558 yards of total offense, gave the Tigers opportunities to stay in and perhaps win the game.

A redshirt freshman quarterback whom no one expected to start this season had to take over the offense and now battle a knee injury. What was supposed to be a deep running back corps continues to struggle with nagging injuries.

Those backfield issues, combined with inconsistent play from the wide receivers and offensive line, are handicapping an offense for a team that already has one of the SEC's worst defenses. 

And on top of all that, Auburn's offensive guru of a head coach is making questionable at best decisions with his underwhelming offense.

As Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports tweeted, Saturday's SEC West game came down to which team could convert the most with their scoring opportunities:

Shaky decision-making from Malzahn played a huge role in that disadvantage for the Tigers, who missed yet another big-time opportunity in a season that increasingly looks like it will end with a losing record.

And that would be even more shocking for Auburn than a handful of baffling play calls.

 

Game statistics courtesy of StatBroadcast. Unless otherwise noted, other statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com.

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

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Kyler Murray Flashes Johnny Manziel Like Skills, Proves He's Texas A&M's Best QB

One year ago Sunday, the Texas A&M Aggies moved to address its future at quarterback.

Saturday afternoon, the Aggies and Kevin Sumlin finally got it right.

One day short of the one-year anniversary of Kyle Allen’s first start as the Aggies quarterback, Kevin Sumlin turned to true freshman Kyler Murray as A&M’s starter.

Given how the Aggies’ 35-28 victory over South Carolina unfolded, Sumlin and A&M should never look back.

The 5-star recruit was excellent in his first career start and simply looked like a better fit for Sumlin’s wide-open offense. With A&M out of the College Football Playoff picture, why wouldn’t Murray be the man the rest of the way for the 6-2 Aggies?

Murray looked like anything but a first-time starter against the Gamecocks. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 228 yards with a touchdown, and was A&M’s leading rusher, carrying 20 times for 156 yards with a touchdown.

He was the first A&M quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game since Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel did so in 2013 and the first to pass for 200-plus yards and rush for 150-plus yards in a game since Manziel. 

And perhaps even more importantly, he was a changeup from Allen. Allen seized the starting role entering this spring by performing well in A&M’s final six games, throwing for 2,649 yards with 23 touchdowns against eight interceptions after relieving inconsistent Kenny Hill.

But he simply hasn’t been the same quarterback this season. Through seven starts, Allen had thrown for 1,625 yards with 14 touchdowns against six interceptions, completing 56.8 percent of his passes.

He threw for just one touchdown against four interceptions in A&M’s last two games, losses to Alabama and Ole Miss, and he was particularly awful in the 23-3 loss at Ole Miss.

Allen completed just 12 of 34 passes for 88 yards with an interception, and eyebrows were raised when Jake Hubenak, not Murray, replaced him in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand.

Saturday, Murray looked poised, composed and played a controlled game while stretching South Carolina’s defense with his arm and legs, which Manziel did regularly in his two-year Aggie tenure.

“He was relaxed,” Sumlin told SEC Network’s Laura Rutledge on the game telecast. “I thought he ran smart, slid, got on the ground and made plays when they were there, really didn’t force anything. That’s the biggest thing with a young guy, let the game come to him.”

Sumlin was noncommittal when asked about his quarterback situation going forward, but he said Murray “let the game come to him and hopefully we can increase the offense.”

November will provide an opportunity for Murray to prove himself, with SEC games against Auburn, Vanderbilt and LSU ahead. If he keeps flashing Manziel-like skills, there’s no reason for Sumlin to use anyone else under center for the next three years.

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Ole Miss vs. Auburn: Game Grades, Analysis for Rebels and Tigers

It wasn't pretty, but the No. 19 Ole Miss Rebels escaped Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 27-19 victory over the Auburn Tigers on Saturday.

Auburn had a chance to launch a Hail Mary near midfield as time expired, but Ole Miss put enough pressure on strong-armed Jeremy Johnson and affected a throw that fell 25 yards short of the end zone.

Pass Offense: Chad Kelly shredded Auburn for 381 yards and two scores, throwing one bad interception and another pick that wasn't his fault. Damore'ea Stringfellow carried the receivers during the first half, but top NFL prospect Laquon Treadwell finished with seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Run Offense: The Rebels didn't have many explosive plays, but Jaylen Walton led the Rebels with 78 yards. Kelly picked up three first downs on the ground, while Akeem Judd tallied 54 yards, including a gorgeous 25-yard touchdown run.

Pass Defense: Although Auburn only completed 13 passes in 32 attempts, Ole Miss often surrendered chunk yardage. A breakdown in coverage led to Ricardo Louis' 47-yard score, and four receptions gained 40 yards or more. Tony Conner is dearly missed in the secondary.

Run Defense: Of all the offensive and defensive units, the run-stoppers were the Rebels' best group. Ole Miss limited the Tigers to an average gain fractionally above three yards. Additionally, Auburn had just eight yards on six red-zone carries.

Special Teams: Gary Wunderlich handled his responsibilities well, connecting on a pair of field goals and a trio of extra points. Will Gleeson's first punt was poorly executed, though it nearly resulted in a turnover. He recorded 40.8 yards per punt.

Coaching: According to Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Dan Werner called "80 percent" of the plays. Werner did an admirable job overall. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack had a decent day, but the coverage errors must be addressed.

Pass Offense: Starting quarterback Sean White was a game-time decision, and the knee injury evidently limited him. Nevertheless, the freshman capitalized on some gifted opportunities, ended with 258 yards on 12-of-28 passing and threw his first career touchdown pass in college.

Run Offense: Whether it was due to 37 carries last week or an odd game plan, Peyton Barber wasn't a big part of the offense and managed just 17 yards. While Jovon Robinson returned from injury and posted a career-high 91 yards, the inability to run in the red zone certainly hurt Auburn.

Pass Defense: Kris Frost made an excellent diving interception, Cassanova McKinzy registered a sack and Carl Lawson disrupted Kelly on multiple occasions. However, Lawson and the Tigers failed to finish a few sacks that could've ended drives.

Run Defense: Excluding Judd's 25-yard scamper for a touchdown, Auburn put together a respectable day against the run. The Tigers ceded an even four yards per carry and nine first downs, both of which were the third-lowest marks of the season.

Special Teams: Some people might think it's bad luck to say a kicker is automatic, so let's compromise: Daniel Carlson, one of the best kickers in Auburn history, was automatic on Saturday. He drilled four field goals, also burying his fourth attempt of 50 or longer. Kevin Phillips added 45.6 yards per punt.

Coaching: Red-zone and money-down woes are a reflection on the coaching staff, and the Tigers were horrendous at both against Ole Miss. Three red-zone trips resulted in field goals, while Auburn was a combined 2-of-17 on third and fourth down. Gus Malzahn needs playmakers, and Will Muschamp needs a secondary.

 

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Why Ole Miss Rebels Are Difficult Contender to Trust

Another week, another step closer to Ole Miss winning out, playing for the SEC title and potentially blocking the SEC from a College Football Playoff berth.

The Rebels (7-2, 4-1 SEC) survived a scare from Auburn in a 27-19 road win on the Plains.

Any road win in the SEC is a good win, but make no mistake, there were enough red flags for the Rebels in this game to fill the city of Oxford.

As Dan Wolken of USA Today noted on Twitter, head coach Hugh Freeze's play-calling was quite suspect.

This was an Auburn team that boasted a quarterback in Sean White who was a game-time decision after being knocked around last week in the four-overtime loss to Arkansas, was clearly slowed by a knee injury, suffered from perhaps the worst play-calling of head coach Gus Malzahn's career and has a defense like a sieve.

Despite that, Auburn had a chance at the end to potentially tie it up if Jeremy Johnson's Hail Mary connected and the Tigers converted the two-point conversion.

Why?

Standard Ole Miss football, which makes the Rebels difficult to trust.

Freeze's crew managed just 156 rushing yards against an Auburn defense that came into the game allowing 199.86 yards per game on the ground. It couldn't convert on several key 3rd- and 4th-and short yardage situations and struggled with an Auburn defensive line that, while better thanks to the return of "Buck" Carl Lawson, hardly strikes fear in the hearts of opposing offensive linemen.

As Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com noted on Twitter, that's the reason Freeze has been forced to get creative in short-yardage situations and put players like defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and offensive lineman Jeremy Liggins in at running back throughout the year.

That futility is par for the course for Ole Miss. 

It came in averaging 3.43 yards per rush against conference opponents, and that's after it ripped off 4.51 per carry last week in the win over Texas A&M.

Is Ole Miss really going to win out against Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State?

Not if it can't run the football, and certainly not if it hands the ball over as consistently as it has thus far. 

Quarterback Chad Kelly threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns but also tossed two interceptions, bringing his total to 12 on the year—the most in the conference.

Ole Miss is one-dimensional, and it makes consistent mistakes within that one dimension.

Kelly has thrown nine touchdowns and eight picks versus conference opponents, hasn't had a game without a pick since the win over Alabama in Week 3 and, while explosive, is far too mistake-prone.

Despite those issues, Ole Miss seems to find a way. That's commendable and what quality teams should do. 

But Freeze's crew is living dangerously this year, and those Rebels have to get better in those two areas if they are going to play in their first-ever SEC Championship Game.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

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

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Bigger Mistake for Nebraska: Firing Bo Pelini, or Hiring Mike Riley?

When Nebraska fired Bo Pelini following the 2014 season, NU athletic director Shawn Eichorst told reporters that “we weren’t good enough in the games that mattered.”

As Mike Riley’s first season as head coach hits the home stretch, the Cornhuskers simply aren’t good enough, period. An ugly 55-45 loss to Purdue dropped Nebraska to 3-6, and NU must win its last three games to avoid missing a bowl for the third time since 1969. Given that Top 10 foes Iowa and Michigan State are on the docket, spending Christmas at home is a real possibility.

While Nebraska wanted to take its program to a nationally elite level, the Huskers may have dealt themselves a serious blow by hiring Riley away from Oregon State. Eleven years ago, Nebraska fell into a funk after firing Frank Solich, Tom Osborne’s successor, despite a 58-19 record over six seasons, including a trio of seasons with at least 10 wins.

Since then, Nebraska has only three 10-win seasons and no national titles or BCS-level bowl berths, and firing Pelini seems to have only deepened that funk. Pelini was 66-27 at Nebraska and won at least nine games in each of his seven seasons (a streak that is tied with Oregon for second-longest in the FBS), with a pair of 10-win seasons.

Following his firing, emotional Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. tweeted that Pelini’s firing was "the biggest mistake" Nebraska ever made, which looks prophetic:

Pelini’s teams struggled against good teams (Nebraska was 8-17 against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 under his watch) and lost 10 games by 20 points or more, including an embarrassing 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the 2012 Big Ten title game.

Pelini’s volatile temper and sideline outbursts were negatives, and Deadspin leaked a recording(Warning: NSFW) of him ripping Nebraska fans before his weekly radio show when the Huskers struggled in September 2013. But there’s no mistaking his consistency—something that has been sorely missing under Riley’s watch.

When Nebraska hired Riley away from Oregon State, the move was hailed as a culture change. Riley is one of the nicest coaches in college football and is widely respected by news media. But he is 62 years old, hardly young by modern standards, and brought a 93-80 record from 14 combined years at Oregon State (1997-98 and 2003-14).

However, he had only one nine-win season and a pair of losing seasons in his final six seasons at Oregon State. Under Riley’s watch, the Huskers have simply been unable to close. BYU’s game-winning Hail Mary in the season opener set the tone for a year of frustrating defeats.

Before Saturday, each of Nebraska’s five losses have come by five points or less, including a 36-33 overtime loss at Miami and a 23-21 loss at Wisconsin that saw the Badgers kick the game-winning field goal with four seconds left.

Losing to Purdue was just the latest indignity.

The Boilermakers entered 1-6, with their only win over FCS foe Indiana State, and had largely been non-competitive. Injuries to key offensive cogs like quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. and wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El hurt, but there’s no excusing building a 42-16 hole against the Boilers or giving up 55 points to a team that had scored 41 points combined in losses to Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Firing Riley after one season would be harsh, and Nebraska has historically shown significant patience with its coaches. (Even Bill Callahan got four seasons.) But it’s clear that the Huskers have taken a significant step back in their first post-Pelini season. If this was the best they could do, firing him was a big mistake.

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Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant Weaves Through Oklahoma State Defense for 90-Yard Gain

After his team got pinned at its own 3-yard line by an Oklahoma State punt, Texas Tech receiver Jakeem Grant turned a short catch into a big gain with some incredible vision.

On a 1st-and-10 early in the first quarter, Grant caught a pass at the Red Raiders' 5-yard line and went to work. He made a defender miss almost immediately with a nice move before reversing course and running up the opposite sideline. With the help of some nice blocks by teammates, the 5'7" receiver managed to weave through the Cowboys defense and go back across the field, where he had a ton of open space.

Grant was not able to finish the play with a touchdown, as he was eventually brought down at the Oklahoma State 7-yard line. It's hard to blame him if he just ran out of gas. Not only did he run 90 yards down the field, but he also ran quite a bit from sideline to sideline.

Texas Tech scored a touchdown a couple of plays later to take a 14-0 lead just more than five minutes into the game.

About six minutes of game time later, Grant gave the Red Raiders a 24-7 lead with a 100-yard kickoff return:

Two plays, 190 yards. Not a bad quarter.

[Yahoo Dr. Saturday]

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Ole Miss vs. Auburn: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

No. 19 Ole Miss scored an important SEC road victory over Auburn, 27-19, at Jordan–Hare Stadium on Saturday.

The Rebels (7-2, 4-1) recovered from a sluggish start to put up 558 total yards of offense. Star receiver Laquon Treadwell led the charge with seven catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Ricardo Louis had four grabs for 137 yards and a score in a losing effort for the Tigers (4-4, 1-4).

Here's a look at the quarter-by-quarter scoring recap:

Although Auburn was off to a rocky start in conference play, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze fully expected to receive the Tigers' best shot, per Wesley Sinor of AL.com noted.

"Knowing Gus [Malzahn] like I know him, they'll be ready to go," Freeze said. "They'll have a great plan, and they'll be hungry for success at home. There's nothing like returning home in front of your people to help give you that boost of energy that you may need.

"I expect we're going to see the best Auburn team of the entire year."

It didn't take long for the Tigers to prove Freeze correct. Auburn came out flying on the defensive side of the ball, which made life difficult on Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly and Co.

The Tigers scored the game's first touchdown early in the second quarter after the sides traded field goals in the opening 15 minutes.

Sean White, who was battling an injury, made two key throws on the scoring drive. First, he connected with Roc Thomas for 23 yards, and then, on third down near midfield, he found Louis wide open for a 47-yard touchdown.

It marked the first touchdown of the freshman's collegiate career. John Zenor of the Associated Press noted the importance of getting that monkey off his back:

Ole Miss managed to level the score about four minutes before halftime after Malzahn decided to go for it on fourth down from his own 49-yard line. White's pass bounced off the hands of Marcus Davis, which gave the Rebels the ball in terrific position.

Six plays later, they were in the end zone. Kelly kept the drive alive with a fourth-down completion to Evan Engram. Two plays later, Akeem Judd scampered 25 yards to pay dirt.

ESPN passed along video of the touchdown:

Ole Miss' Gary Wunderlich and Auburn's Daniel Carlson again traded field goals in the third quarter.

But then the Rebels jumped ahead with a touchdown. Kelly found Derrick Jones between two Tigers with a nice deep ball, and the wideout did the rest, juking both defensive backs to complete the score from 45 yards out.

Jones' first touchdown of the year led Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee to comment on the state of the Mississippi offense:

Auburn clawed back within one point three minutes into the final quarter after two more field goals by Carlson. His fourth and last of the day came following Kelly's second interception. The quarterback has done a lot right this season, but his propensity to turn the ball over remains an issue.

Kelly responded in a major way, though. He led the Rebels on a six-play, 75-yard drive that took less than two minutes and put them up 27-19.

Treadwell notched a 33-yard reception early in the drive and then made an over-the-shoulder grab for a touchdown from 21 yards out.

ESPN showcased the scoring play:

Auburn couldn't rally again as it was forced to punt and then turned the ball over on downs with three minutes remaining.

Ole Miss Football provided a note about a first-time feat for the program:

Chris Fowler of ESPN explained the importance of the Rebels' win and lamented some missed opportunities by the Tigers:

Freeze expected to take Auburn's best shot, and for the most, part he got it. His team responded with a strong effort in the second half. The victory keeps Ole Miss in the mix for the SEC West crown with a Nov. 21 showdown against LSU looming. The Rebels can't overlook Arkansas next week, however.

The Tigers put up a serious fight for all four quarters. They just couldn't come up with the necessary plays in the final 10 minutes in order to pull off the upset. Next up is a clash with Texas A&M, and they still have a chance to shake up the SEC when they face Alabama on the last Saturday of the regular season.

 

Postgame Reaction

Freeze discussed the critical victory with ESPN:

Malzahn is still confident in his roster despite a .500 record. He said it comes down to getting over the hump, per Matthew Stevens of the Montgomery Advertiser:

Ultimately, it wasn't Ole Miss' best performance of the campaign, and it will need to play better down the stretch to win the division. That said, the Rebels earned a road victory to keep their season alive for at least another week.

 

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