NCAA Football News

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

Baylor third-string quarterback Chris Johnson threw for 138 yards and two touchdowns in relief for the injured Jarrett Stidham, as the No. 10 Bears (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) handed the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) their first loss on the year, 45-35, Saturday night in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

It was the Bears’ first win at Oklahoma State since 1939, per the team's game guide, and Baylor has now won back-to-back games against the Cowboys for the first time since it won nine straight from 1915 to 1942.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, had a chance to start 11-0 for the first time in school history but saw its 12-game winning streak—dating back to last year—snapped by the Bears’ backup to the backup. This loss also put a damper on Oklahoma State’s chances at not only making the College Football Playoff but also its Big 12 title hopes, as well.

In the first Top 10 matchup held at Boone Pickens Stadium since 1985, it was nothing but a scoreboard tilt in the beginning.

The first eight minutes and 20 seconds saw nothing but fireworks. Baylor scored on its first two possessions—which took 2:09 combined—to take a 14-0 lead with 11:56 remaining in the first quarter. Stidham found a wide-open KD Cannon for a 59-yard touchdown on the second score, and the rout seemed to be on.

Coming into the contest, Baylor led the nation in points per game, but it can be surprising at times to see the Bears put up points in such a hurry, as CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd pointed out:

But the Cowboys began to counter the Bears by playing at their tempo.

Oklahoma State responded with a quick 10-play, 77-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from J.W. Walsh to Jalen McCleskey to get the Cowboys on the board. Less than two minutes later, the Cowboys only needed two plays to tie the game. Mason Rudolph hit James Washington down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14, but it took a bit of luck to make that happen. The Big 12 Conference provided a clip of the insane catch:

After the fireworks settled, it became a rare Big 12 chess match. The tempo slowed and both defenses settled down, but it was Baylor that took advantage of its opportunities on both sides of the ball. Bears running back Devin Chafin capped a 13-play, 83-yard drive three seconds into the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown.

Baylor's defense began to silence the high-scoring Oklahoma State offense. After tying the game early in the first quarter, the Cowboys ended their next seven possessions with punts—five of the drives were three-and-outs. The Bears outgained Oklahoma State 439-188 in the first half.

Things got interesting at the start of the second half. Stidham did not start the second half due to back issues and a heavily-taped right ankle. The third-string quarterback, Johnson, came in, and the Baylor offense didn't miss a beat. It took 11 plays for Baylor to take a 31-14 lead, but Johnson delivered a perfect pass to Jay Lee for a 39-yard touchdown.

On the next drive, Johnson delivered a 71-yard touchdown pass to Cannon with 6:24 to go in the third quarter that made a potential Oklahoma State comeback nearly impossible.

B/R's Adam Kramer had this to say on Baylor's quarterback situation:

It didn't seem to matter who was throwing the ball for Baylor on Saturday night. Both Stidham and Johnson carved up the Oklahoma State defense. Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel thought a random person off the street could do what they did:

The Big 12 is a topsy-turvy conference that could be decided on the very last week of the regular season. Oklahoma State had a chance to make it a two-team race, but the Big 12 is wide-open once again.

Postgame Reaction

This is how the Big 12 can be won.

Baylor has found life in this race. Albeit those two final games are certainly winnable, asking Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma may be a tall task considering the deflating loss the Bears just handed the Cowboys.

But for the first time all season, a Big 12 defense showed up at the perfect time. Baylor's once-24-point lead with a third-string quarterback was more than comfortable enough of a lead to prevent any magical Oklahoma State comeback.

Paul Myerberg of USA Today thinks that Baylor did more than enough today to play its way back into the College Football Playoff discussion, given things go their way:

Baylor can now imagine its Playoff scenario. Beat reeling TCU and Texas to end the regular season. Have Oklahoma State beat rival Oklahoma. It wouldn't hurt to have Stanford defeat Notre Dame. It's not too far out of the realm of possibility: Baylor is right in the mix. The Bears might even be in good shape, in fact.

Myerberg is definitely right. When Seth Russell went down with his neck injury that ended his season, asking Stidham to carry the passing attack seemed too much of a task for a freshman quarterback.

After Saturday, the lesson is clear: It doesn't matter who Baylor puts at quarterback. Whether it be Stidham or Johnson starting at TCU on Saturday, the Bears have shown there are enough pieces in place on that roster to win any big game. Just ask Baylor head coach Art Briles, per Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News:

Oklahoma State made a habit of making comebacks this year. The Cowboys' luck ran out when they couldn't run the ball. Oklahoma State ran for eight combined yards against Baylor's defense. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph had -38 rushing yards, due in large part to being sacked six times.

While throwing for 430 yards and three touchdowns would be more than enough for Oklahoma State, the lack of a running game proved crucial for the Cowboys, according to head coach Mike Gundy per Carson Cunningham of KOCO 5:

In the end, it came down to the backup to the backup quarterback that did more than enough in relief of Stidham to get the win. Had Johnson come in and struggled, the thought of a Baylor win on Saturday wouldn't even exist.

The two long touchdown passes that Johnson threw came at opportune times when Oklahoma State's offense was struggling. Had the Bears not scored on those two possessions, the game could've very easily swung in the direction of Oklahoma State. 

For at least one night, Johnson is the big man on campus, per David Ubben of Sports on Earth:

When Russell went down, Baylor wasn't expected to be in this situation. The Bears have had to play resilient football over the last three weeks to be in this position. All they need is two more wins, along with some help, and Baylor could be playing for more than just a Big 12 title.

Read more College Football news on

Winners and Losers from Week 12 of the 2015 College Football Season

The race for the College Football Playoff just got more interesting. Or less clear. Probably both. But, that's college football for you. 

In a matter of minutes, two undefeated teams, Ohio State and Houston, lost to Michigan State and UConn, respectively. Hours later, a third undefeated team, Oklahoma State, suffered its first loss of the season to Baylor, re-opening the Big 12 race. That means Iowa and Clemson are the lone remaining undefeated teams. Just like we all thought. 

From fall of the undefeated teams to the SEC's nonconference struggles and Oregon's big win over USC, we break down all that happened this weekend in college football. 


As a reminder, Winners and Losers is live while evening games are being played. Fear not, as this post will be updated throughout the night as events warrant. 

Begin Slideshow

Jarrett Stidham Injury: Updates on Baylor QB's Ankle and Return

Baylor Bears quarterback Jarrett Stidham left Saturday's game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at halftime after suffering an ankle injury, per Sports Illustrated.

Continue for updates.

Chris Johnson Replaces Stidham in 2nd Half Against Cowboys Saturday, Nov. 21

Stidham entered the weekend at less than 100 percent, with a back injury continuing to dog him. Baylor was unsure if he would be able to start Saturday's contest.

Opening-week starter Seth Russell has missed the last three games after suffering a neck injury that required season-ending surgery. Baylor was 7-0 in the games Russell started, and the team was seemingly on a path to the College Football Playoff.

Stidham, while an efficient passer, hasn't brought the same level of explosiveness on the ground. The Bears lost to Oklahoma in large part because of their inability to control the tempo with their running game, which had been a huge part of their offense during the season's first half.

Chris Johnson is an imposing figure at 6'5" and 225 pounds, but he has limited experience. He's received more work in 2015 as a receiver than as a quarterback, so it's hard to imagine the Bears offense making a seamless transition with its third-string signal-caller. Johnson started well Saturday, but his flaws may be exposed over time.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on

Baker Mayfield Injury: Updates on Oklahoma QB's Possible Concussion and Return

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield left Saturday's game against the TCU Horned Frogs with a head injury after taking a vicious shot to the head in the first half.

Continue for updates.

Stoops Comments on Mayfield's Status Saturday, Nov. 21

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said Mayfield's status for next week's matchup with Oklahoma State would be determined by the doctors, according to Bleacher Report's Bryan D. Fischer

Mayfield Crucial Cog for Sooners 

After a transfer from Texas Tech, Mayfield taken his play to another level in 2015, even pushing himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Injuries have been an issue for him in his college career, though. He missed time after suffering a knee injury during his stay with the Red Raiders, which muddled his status and led to his transferring. Then, earlier this year, he dealt with some shoulder fatigue.

Mayfield should re-assume his starting spot when healthy. He's an important piece of the puzzle for the Sooners, who are fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff.


Read more College Football news on

C.J. Prosise Injury: Updates on Notre Dame Star's Ankle and Return

Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise has been bitten by the injury bug for the second time in three weeks, suffering a sprained ankle Saturday night against the Boston College Eagles. 

Continue for updates.

Prosise to Miss Rest of Game Saturday, Nov. 21

During the first half of Saturday night's game against Boston College, Prosise's left ankle was caught under a defender, according to WSBT's Adam Derengowski

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told NBC Sports (via Adam Shear of Fox28 News) that Prosise had X-rays on his leg to determine the severity of the injury. 

This was Prosise's first game back after he suffered a concussion in Week 10 against Pittsburgh.

Prosise is Notre Dame's leading rusher, with 975 yards entering Saturday's matchup against Boston College. The injury comes just days after he was named a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation's top running back.

In his place, freshman Josh Adams stepped in, as he had in the prior two weeks. While he rushed for 289 yards combined in those two games, he had eight carries for 19 yards and a fumble through two-plus quarters Saturday night.

If Prosise misses a considerable amount of time, it could doom Notre Dame's College Football Playoff chances. The Irish will finish the season against No. 11 Stanford, who will bring a run defense that allows over 130 yards per game. Notre Dame will need to earn a victory over the Cardinal to hang on to the No. 4 spot in the CFP rankings.


Stats courtesy of

Read more College Football news on

Ezekiel Elliott's Rant Shows Urban Meyer Has Lost His Team

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger's 41-year field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired Saturday, it gave Ohio State its first defeat of the 2015 season.

By the time postgame interviews had concluded, a lot more than a single game seemed to be lost for the Buckeyes.

Embarking on a rant not commonly seen in the college ranks, star running back Ezekiel Elliott tore into the Ohio State coaching staff, questioning the play-calling in the Buckeyes' 17-14 loss to the Spartans. On the cusp of Heisman Trophy contention heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, Elliott totaled just 12 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown, snapping what had been a 15-game streak of 100-yard games.

"I'm disappointed in the play-calling," an emotional Elliott said. "I feel like we just weren't put in the right opportunity to win this game. We weren't put in the right situations to win this game."

Asked to clarify who he was speaking about, Elliott responded, "I'm talking about the play-calling. So whoever calls the plays," a duty that is shared between head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Ed Warinner and co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck.

A true junior, Elliott ended his interview session by declaring for the 2016 NFL draft, stating "there's no way I'm coming back next year." The projected first-round pick's cutting comments came just moments after backup quarterback and redshirt junior Cardale Jones posted a tweet indicating Saturday would also be his final home game played in Ohio Stadium.

Add in star defensive end Joey Bosa saying earlier this week the only thing that could bring him back to Ohio State in 2016 would be the chance to play with his younger brother, an incoming 5-star prospect—and even then, it would be a long shot—and you have three Buckeye underclassmen who have essentially declared for the NFL draft before OSU's regular season has ended.

The actions aren't surprising—many expected a mass exodus of pro-ready talent from Ohio State when the 2015 season came to an end. However, the timing has been the focal point, as it's coincided with the Buckeyes' first loss in 23 games.

Given the concerning signs that have been apparent in Columbus, the only real shock might be that Ohio State's winning streak lasted that long.

After a relatively young roster spent the offseason being celebrated for its run through the first-ever College Football Playoff, the Buckeyes entered the season with no shortage of expectations, as the only team to ever be named a unanimous preseason No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Ohio State possessed a favorable, albeit backloaded, schedule and returned a combined 15 starters from last year's national title team.

But after a season-opening prime-time win over Virginia Tech, something seemed to be off with this Buckeyes team. It was still winning, sometimes relying on talent alone, even though its quarterback situation became muddled as Jones—who turned down the opportunity to enter last spring's draft and be a potential second- or third-round pick—was moved to the bench in favor of J.T. Barrett.

Elliott still got his touches, and his 100-yard streak continued, but it was hard not to notice an apparent effort to force the ball into quarterback-turned-wideout Braxton Miller's hands. That may have been what Elliott was alluding to when he criticized his coaches' play-calling for being too "cute."

"It's kind of something we've seen all season, honestly," he said. "We'll have some momentum, we'll call some plays that work and then we'll try to get away from it and try to get cute and run some other stuff."

Despite any criticisms of the Buckeyes' play-calling—and they existed earlier in the year too—Ohio State arrived at Saturday's game undefeated and controlling its own fate when it came to the Big Ten Championship Game and beyond.

In a post-practice interview session Wednesday, which Elliott started by announcing to reporters that they would only be getting five minutes with him, the reigning College Football Playoff MVP put those goals first when asked about what appeared to be increasing momentum in his Heisman Trophy hopes.

"I think about Big Ten championships," he said.

His actions Saturday told another story.

His criticism may not have been wrong—Meyer admitted he, too, was unsatisfied with his team's play selection—but rare is it that a player steps to the plate and takes his coaching staff to task. The same goes for declaring for the draft in the emphatic fashion in which Elliott did, with the Buckeyes' regular-season finale with Michigan still looming.

Elliott, who applied for five personal trademarks over the offseason, will be the story—his rant went viral as the words left his lips—but he's not alone on the Ohio State roster when it comes to looking ahead to the draft. Aside from Jones and Bosa, underclassmen Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, Darron Lee, Eli Apple and Pat Elflein are all thought of as NFL prospects, as are seniors Taylor Decker, Joshua Perry, Adolphus Washington and Miller.

Some have handled it better than others, and at least until Saturday, most have been politically correct publicly. Elliott's criticisms, however, gave a peek into a locker room focused on more than just team goals; it's one that appears to have been infected by what legendary NBA coach Pat Riley once termed "The Disease of More" when it comes to young teams experiencing success so soon.

Having defended two national titles before, Meyer may have seen this coming. In the hours after the Buckeyes' playoff championship win last season, he called "complacency" Ohio State's greatest upcoming enemy.

As of Saturday, that enemy appears to have won, not completely killing, but striking a major blow to any hopes the Buckeyes had of defending their crown.

They were expected to just because they had a roster full of NFL talent.

As it turns out, that also might be what prevents them from doing so.


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.

Read more College Football news on

Scooby Wright Injury: Updates on Arizona Star's Foot and Recovery

Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright III has missed all but two games during the 2015 season while recovering from a foot injury but hopes to make it back onto the field one more time in his junior season. 

Continue for updates.

Wright Eyes Bowl Return Saturday, Nov. 21

Wright told Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports on Saturday that he has begun running and expects to play in Arizona's bowl game.

The junior has been battling a sprained right foot after recovering from meniscus surgery.

This year has hardly been the follow-up season he envisioned after a 164-tackle, 15-sack campaign in which he won the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award and Chuck Bednarik Award. This season, Wright has just eight tackles, but he told Feldman that he's "feeling a lot better." 

Wright's injury is just one of five at the linebacker position that the Wildcats defense has had to overcome this year. Starting the season ranked 22nd in the Associated Press Top 25, Arizona is 6-6, allowing an average of 34.2 points per game, 105th in the nation.

Getting Wright back in the lineup should give Arizona a lift during the bowl season, but it could be the last game of his collegiate career as he may decide to enter the 2016 NFL draft.

If he does go, a big performance in a bowl game would be a lasting image for NFL scouts.


Stats courtesy of

Read more College Football news on

Ole Miss on Track for Best-Ever Finish Under Hugh Freeze After Big Win over LSU

The month of November hasn't always been kind to Ole Miss under head coach Hugh Freeze.

In his first season, back in 2012, the Rebels dropped three straight SEC games to open the month—including a 41-35 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge. In 2013, Ole Miss only scored 10 points in back-to-back late November losses to Missouri and rival Mississippi State.

And last year, the Rebels lost a heartbreaker to Auburn on November 1, followed by a 30-0 blowout defeat at the hands of Arkansas two weeks later. 

Earlier this month, Arkansas knocked off Ole Miss again, this time in a wild overtime shootout that featured a pair of incredible breaks for the Razorbacks.

But instead of dropping another game in yet another November slump, the Rebels left no doubt that things are going to be different this time around with a 38-17 takedown of rival LSU.

One of the biggest differences between this year's Rebels and Freeze's three other teams at Ole Miss has been the offensive production behind quarterback Chad Kelly.

Kelly had 361 yards of total offense and four touchdowns—two passing and two rushing—and broke a couple of school records in the process, as Ole Miss Football pointed out:

And the Ole Miss offense's efficiency with Kelly at the helm Saturday was somehow even more impressive than the signal-caller's big individual numbers.

Against LSU, Ole Miss averaged 6.6 yards per play and was a perfect 5-of-5 in scoring on trips to the red zone. After throwing an interception in six straight games earlier this season, Kelly was pick-free Saturday, just like he was against Arkansas.

Ole Miss' only turnover of the game came on special teams, when Jaylen Walton fumbled a third-quarter kickoff return.

That level of ball control is a far cry from what the Rebels had at the end of last season, when they turned the ball over a combined 12 times against Auburn, Arkansas and Peach Bowl opponent TCU.

Kelly also played a key role in settling down some Ole Miss nervousness in the second half.

When LSU rattled off 17 unanswered points midway through the contest, Ole Miss only had a touchdown lead early in the third quarter.

The quarterback simply got the Rebels back on track with a seven-play, 83-yard scoring drive that only took 2:25 off the clock. Kelly was responsible for all 83 of those yards, including the 11 that came on this hard-earned rushing touchdown (h/t Campus Insiders):

From that point on, Ole Miss stayed strong on defense, even without the likes of linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, defensive end Fadol Brown and safety CJ Hampton, as USA Today's LSU Beat Writer Glenn Guibeau noted:

The Tigers racked up more yards than the Rebels, thanks to some big passing gains when the game was already out of reach, but total yardage can be an overrated stat.

More importantly, Ole Miss forced three turnovers and stopped LSU on fourth down three different times—including a fourth-quarter stand that started with a 1st-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line.

Ole Miss nearly had another turnover and another goal-line stand in the third quarter, but Leonard Fournette's fumble somehow squirted into the hands of LSU offensive lineman Will Clapp in the end zone. Coach Freeze was proud of his defense's performance, as his comments, courtesy of Ole Miss Spirit's Ben Garrett, illustrated: 

Fournette, the former Heisman front-runner, had 4.3 yards per carry against Ole Miss, which was his second-lowest count of the season.

The Rebels contained the LSU rushing threat and forced Brandon Harris to go to the air often. The LSU sophomore completed just 26 of his 51 passing attempts and threw a pair of interceptions.

The complete team win against LSU will give Ole Miss a huge boost heading into next week's Egg Bowl matchup with Mississippi State.

Dan Mullen's Bulldogs will be a much-stiffer test on offense than what Ole Miss got from reeling LSU on Saturday, but their defense has allowed at least 31 points in back-to-back games against Alabama and Arkansas. The Rebels speed and variety of weapons will be huge away from home.

And if the Rebels win in Starkville and get some major help from Auburn against red-hot Alabama, they'll be playing in the SEC Championship Game in two weeks. Neal McCready discussed the Rebels need for Auburn to beat Alabama in the upcoming Iron Bowl:

But even if Auburn can't pull off the miracle, another rivalry win over the Bulldogs and a strong finish in whatever bowl game Ole Miss draws will be huge for the program.

Ole Miss honored a large group of impact seniors Saturday afternoon, and several star underclassmen will probably follow them out the door and into the NFL. 

As Gary Danielson said on the CBS broadcast Saturday, Freeze will be able to point to the amount of talent the Rebels will put into the NFL draft and use it to bolster recruiting this offseason.

A winning streak to end the 2015 campaign instead of another losing skid would give the Rebels who will stay on campus for the 2016 season some much-needed momentum.

Combined, those two advantages would put Ole Miss in a great spot for 2016.

Disappointing losses earlier in the season may have knocked Ole Miss out of contention for every team's ultimate goal—the national championship—but the Rebels' foundation for the future with Freeze strengthened Saturday afternoon with a three-touchdown win over LSU.

With this win, Ole Miss will have a chance to finish 2015 with something more than those coveted bragging rights.


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

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

Read more College Football news on

Alabama's Focused Domination Proves It Has Tunnel Vision on National Title

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It will forever be known as the tin-horn game because that’s the way the University of Alabama went through Charleston Southern on Saturday afternoon.

Four days after head coach Nick Saban made it clear that he wasn’t going to accept any sort of a letdown against a Football Championship Series opponent, the Crimson Tide lived up to his expectations and absolutely destroyed the Buccaneers 56-6 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“We heard it all right before you heard it,” senior linebacker Reggie Ragland said about the Saban rant during a press conference. “We couldn’t take anything for granted, we had to play hard. That’s all they talked about all week.”

Considering what No. 2 Alabama (10-1) is still playing for, including a shot at the playoffs if it can beat Auburn next week and Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 5, Saban wasn’t going to take any chances—especially the way his team is playing down the stretch.

So on Wednesday, when asked about Charleston Southern quarterback Austin Brown he brought up how the 2011 Crimson Tide defense that finished first in all four major statistical categories (total, scoring, rushing and pass-efficiency defense) struggled against Georgia Southern’s option attack: 

"You all may be taking the week off this week, but I'm not. A lot of people take a lot of things for granted, and I get asked questions like 'Well, how important is it for the young guys to get to play this week?' Well how in the hell do you know they're gonna get to play? What makes you think that you can just assume that they're gonna get to play? Because you're assuming that the other team isn't very good? They do have a Division I quarterback, he plays like Division I quarterbacks. They're very, very productive on offense, and they do a great job of executing what they, and if we don't play good against them—y'all don't remember the [2011] Georgia Southern game, do you?

"I don't think we had a guy on that field that didn't play in the NFL and about four or five of them were first-round draft picks, and I think that team won a national championship, but I'm not sure. And they ran through our [expletive] like [expletive] through a tin horn, man, and we could not stop them. We could not stop them. Could not stop them. Because we couldn't get a look in practice we didn't practice it right and everybody said the same thing in that game. Y'all took a week off. This wasn't important, so it's not important to anybody else. It's gotta be important to the players, and it's gotta be important to us.

"Everybody gets all excited about the beginning of the season. You get so excited about getting married, but after you're married for a while, you gotta have a process to make it work, and no matter what happens we need to have a process to make it work in every game that we play. You can't assume anything. I don't even know what you asked me, but I just wanted to say that.

"Did anybody see (the Georgia Southern) game? You saw that game? I think we'd given up like 300 yards rushing the whole season in 10 games. That's like 30 yards a game. And all anybody wanted to talk about was how dominant the front was and how nobody could run against us. They got 300 yards rushing in one game."

However, Saturday’s game gave him another motivational tool as senior cornerback Cyrus Jones demonstrated how someone should play in his last home game.

Not only did he return two punts for touchdowns, making him the first Crimson Tide player to do so since Alabama started keeping records on returns in 1944, but he also deflected an option pitch to himself for a fumble recovery. Jones subsequently returned it 18 yards to set up Alabama’s seventh touchdown of the first half.

“I was saying all game I was going to jump his option,” Jones said.

The punt returns were just as impressive, of 43 and 72 yards, the first after the ball deflected off teammate Maurice Smith and into open field.

“Coming in we knew that that punter was going to do a rugby-style punt, a lot of line drives and you had to play them off the bounce,” Jones said. “I actually thought it was going to take a big hop only it hit Mo in the foot. I just tried to pick it up and make a play.”

It was that kind of day for the overmatched visitors, who at the break had 31 total yards of offense compared to Alabama’s 49 points.

“Well, the outcome was probably what we expected,” Charleston Southern coach Jamey Chadwell said.

“They’re obviously as good as anybody we’ve seen. I don’t know if you could combine all of the teams we played and [equal] all of their best players. I do think we had more yards rushing than Leonard Fournette did, though, so you can check that. But we couldn’t run up inside.”

LSU’s Fournette rushed for 31 yards on 19 carries against the Alabama defense on Nov. 7, for an average of 1.6 yards. CSU had 31 yards on 21 carries at halftime, and zero passing, with the Crimson Tide already inserting reserves.

The Bucs (9-2 FCS) finished with 85 rushing yards on 36 carries and barely avoided the shutout.

On the flip side, Alabama running back Derrick Henry could have all but called his rushing numbers for the day. He had just nine carries for 68 rushing yards, a 28-yard reception and two touchdowns.

The first extended his streak of games with a rushing touchdown to 16, and the second tied Trent Richardson’s record for rushing touchdowns in a single season with 21. Henry also went over the 1,500-yard mark for the season, and despite his limited use, he might have only tightened his grip on the Heisman Trophy.

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, arguably Henry’s most serious challenger, only had 33 rushing yards on 12 carries during the 17-14 loss to Michigan State.

Like starting quarterback Jake Coker, who completed 11 of 13 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, Henry was pulled in the second quarter.

“We did what we needed to do and were real efficient,” Coker said.

Otherwise, Saturday was a day for the seniors and the players who don’t get on the field too much, with Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris getting turns at quarterback, cornerback Bradley Sylve leading the Crimson Tide in solo tackles with four and Jabriel Washington making an interception.

“It was great,” Washington said. “I saw the end zone too. I was one person away.”

Overall, the senior class has compiled a 46-5 record over the past four years, but everyone knows that Alabama teams are remembered for their ring collections. This group already has at least one national championship (2012), along with two Southeastern Conference titles (2012 and 2014), and is showing that it wants more. 

“I’m glad I went out the way I did,” Jones said.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

Read more College Football news on

Ezekiel Elliott Criticizes Ohio State Coaching Staff After Michigan State Loss

Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott called out the team's coaching staff after carrying the ball only 12 times in Ohio State's 17-14 loss to the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday.

Elliott, who came into the matchup having eclipsed the 100-yard mark in every game this season, was held to a season-low 33 yards and one touchdown in the Buckeyes' first loss since Sept. 6, 2014.

Elliott told reporters after the contest that this had been his last home game in Columbus, Ohio. He said he will declare for the NFL draft, per WSYX, and had some choice words for the Ohio State coaching staff, per Dan Wolken of USA Today:

Elliott said the coaching staff "didn't put us in position to win," and Michigan State was a "team we should beat," per Rick Pizzo of the Big Ten Network.

SportsCenter provided more of Elliott's postgame comments:

Elliott has reason to be upset. Not only did he carry the ball only 12 times, but he also didn't even have the most attempts on his team. Quarterback J.T. Barrett had a team-high 15 carries for only 44 yards.

Compare that to Michigan State running the ball 51 times for 203 yards, which was the difference in the game. The Spartans controlled the line of scrimmage and made sure to keep the ball out of backup quarterback Tyler O'Connor's hands.

O'Connor completed seven of 12 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in place of starter Connor Cook, who was out after suffering a right shoulder injury

Elliott was a worthy Heisman Trophy contender coming into Saturday, and he could have strengthened his case with a solid showing against Michigan State. But those chances are now all but gone.

Read more College Football news on

Charleston Southern vs. Alabama: Game Grades, Analysis for the Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Charleston Southern Buccaneers 56-6 in the penultimate game of the regular season for Alabama. On a day that several SEC teams were the victims of letdowns against mid-major opponents, the Crimson Tide overwhelmed the Buccaneers from start to finish.

Alabama jumped out to a 49-0 lead in the first half and was dominant in all three phases of the game in the opening act. In the first half, the Crimson Tide scored on each offensive possession, notched two touchdowns on special teams and didn't surrender a point.

Ultimately, Alabama accomplished each of its three primary goals in this game: take care of business early, rest the starters and get plenty of reps for the reserves and younger players. 

Here are some game grades for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Rushing Offense 

Alabama moved the ball consistently on the ground throughout the day, but more importantly the Crimson Tide were able to get a plethora of ball-carriers involved. Heisman Trophy front-runner Derrick Henry took care of business early on, rushing for 68 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries in the first half. 

Once Henry's day was over, Alabama turned to true freshmen Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, who will be called upon to fill the void of Kenyan Drake for the remainder of the regular season. Scarbrough and Harris also had success, rushing for 69 and 44 yards, respectively, as both backs scored the first touchdown of their collegiate careers. It was important for Alabama to distribute the carries in this game, and the Crimson Tide accomplished that task. 


Passing Offense 

There weren't many explosive plays through the air against Charleston Southern, but both Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman were efficient while operating the offense. Coker started the game hot, completing 11 of his 13 passing attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns to Richard Mullaney and Calvin Ridley in the first half.

Bateman received most of his work in mop-up duty once the game was well in hand and connected on seven of his 11 throws. Alec Morris also completed his lone pass attempt of the day. 

Most importantly, the Alabama quarterbacks led the offense without turning the ball over. Alabama didn't need much from the passing game to dominate this one, but the quarterbacks and receivers did a nice job of making plays without committing some of the careless mistakes that have plagued the team this season.


Rushing Defense 

No team in the country has been able to run the ball on Alabama effectively this season, so it comes as no surprise that the the Alabama defensive line shut down the Charleston Southern rushing attack. The Buccaneers ran an option-based attack that Alabama hadn't seen this season, but it didn't faze the Crimson Tide at all.

The Crimson Tide held the Bucs to 85 yards on 36 rushing attempts, and many of those yards came against the second unit. Still, 85 yards by Charleston Southern is still more than Alabama has surrendered on average this season, which is more of a credit to how dominant the defensive front has been this season. 

Charleston Southern found a few running lanes in this game, but it was never enough to pose a serious threat to the Alabama defense. As usual, there was no room to run against the defensive line. 


Passing Defense 

Charleston Southern didn't test Alabama through the air often, attempting only 10 passes in this game. But when the Buccaneers did go to the air, the Alabama secondary consistently made plays. The Tide gave up only 49 yards through the air, the majority of which came on one 35-yard completion from Kyle Copeland to Kelan Fraise in the second half. 

The secondary was also responsible for both of the defense's turnovers: Jabriel Washington intercepted Copeland on the first drive of the second half, and Cyrus Jones made one of several highlight plays by intercepting a pitch late in the second quarter. As an option team, Charleston Southern never had much of chance to give Alabama problems with the passing game. 


Special Teams 

Special teams seemed like a weakness for this Alabama team early in the season but have evolved into a strength in the past few games. The star of the special teams units in this game was undoubtedly Cyrus Jones. In his final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, he made plays all over the field, including two punt returns for touchdowns. Jones has now returned three punts for touchdowns in the last two games, and he became the first player in Alabama history with multiple touchdown returns in a game. 

Alabama was also 8-of-8 on extra points and never had any problems containing Charleston Southern on kick coverage. The only mistake of the day on special teams was a missed field goal by backup kicker and starting punter J.K. Scott. If Alabama can continue to produce points in the return game, the Crimson Tide will be even more difficult to beat down the stretch of the 2015 season. 



Nick Sabanmade headlines (warning: NSFW language) earlier this week by preaching the importance of staying focused against an FCS opponent. His team clearly heeded his words. There was no hint of a letdown from Alabama against the Buccaneers. The Crimson Tide came out and dominated from the opening kick, allowing the starters to rest up for the Iron Bowl and the backups to get beneficial game experience.  

A lot of the credit has to go to Saban and his coaching staff for keeping the team focused and hungry when it would have been easy for the Crimson Tide to look forward to next week's Iron Bowl and the subsequent SEC Championship Game. Alabama is now prepared to dive head-first into a run at the SEC and national championship. 

Read more College Football news on

Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott Confirm This Will Be Last Season at Ohio State

Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott were instrumental in the Ohio State Buckeyes' run to the national title last year but are unlikely to get another shot to repeat their College Football Playoff heroics.

The Buckeyes’ title aspirations took a serious blow with Saturday’s 17-14 loss to the No. 9 Michigan State Spartans, and both Jones and Elliott indicated they won’t be back next year.

Jones announced his plans on Twitter, while Elliott revealed his intentions to’s Austin Ward:

The untimely announcements appear to have come out of frustration following the Buckeyes’ first loss since Sept. 6, 2014, which came against Virginia Tech. It’s rare to see underclassmen declare their departures following a contest, even after bowl games.

But Elliott was apparently upset with Ohio State coaches, according to Dan Wolken of USA Today and Rick Pizzo of the Big Ten Network:

Elliott had just 12 attempts for 33 yards against Michigan State—his lowest output since the Buckeyes’ last loss. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports indicated Elliott’s argument may be warranted:

Elliott is in the midst of another remarkable season. He has 1,458 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 232 attempts with one regular-season game remaining. At 6'0" and 225 pounds with an impressive track record, Elliott should thrive at the next level.

Jones, however, remains a mystery. He went from being backup to leading the Buckeyes to last year’s national title and returned instead of entering the NFL draft, hoping to repeat—this time as the full-time starter.

But Jones struggled to find his 2014 form and eventually lost his job to J.T. Barrett, whom he replaced last year when the incumbent went down after suffering a season-ending injury.

Jones didn’t play a snap Saturday—which was perhaps the push he needed to indicate his days in Columbus are numbered.

Angst is expected when a champion goes down, but the Buckeyes weren’t mathematically eliminated from the Big Ten Championship Game. If Penn State upsets Michigan State next week and the Buckeyes beat Michigan, Ohio State could return to controlling its destiny.

But taking internal resentment public in the wake of adversity is alarming, especially for a defending champion.

Read more College Football news on

Katy Perry Leads 'Hot Toddy' Cheer, Continues to Troll LSU with Corn Dogs

New season, same Katy Perry.

Last year, the singer was a huge hit when she appeared on ESPN's College GameDay. It was during that appearance that she referred to LSU as "LS-pew" and made sure to use a corn dog as a prop to take a shot at the Tigers. 

When her Ole Miss Rebels hosted the Tigers on Saturday, Perry did her part to get the crowd fired up—and once again troll LSU.

Perry led Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in the "Hot Toddy" cheer and finished the video by taking a bite out of a corn dog (h/t OleMissPix):

The Rebels handled the Tigers, 38-17.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on

Is Michigan State a True Playoff Threat After Upsetting Ohio State?

The Michigan State Spartans upset the Ohio State Buckeyes on a last-second field goal, but in truth, they should have won by multiple scores.

The Spartans held the Buckeyes to 132 yards of offense, dominated the trenches, overcame a pair of costly turnovers and snapped the nation's longest winning streak (23 games) despite an injury to star quarterback Connor Cook, which forced backup Tyler O'Connor into his first career start and made OSU an even heavier favorite than it had been all week.

In the process, Sparty vaulted to the top of the Big Ten East standings, which means it now controls its conference fate. If it beats Penn State in East Lansing next Saturday, it will face undefeated Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game with a chance to finish 12-1.

But would that be enough to make the College Football Playoff?

Depending on how the chips fall, it might.

First things first, though. MSU must take care of its own hand before it worries about players at other tables.

The Spartans can make a strong case for playoff inclusion by beating Penn State and Iowa. Both of those games will be difficult, especially if Cook's shoulder remains a problem. But the defense that showed up in Columbus—a healthier, angrier, more inspired unit than MSU had seen all season—raises the ceiling of what this team can be.

Ohio State's two scoring drives went 38 yards combined. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who entered the game a Heisman candidate, ran 12 times for 33 yards. Star quarterback J.T. Barrett, who shredded the Spartans in East Lansing last season, created nothing through the air.

A secondary beleaguered for much of the season—and with good reason—looked sound with the return of multiple players, with veterans playing safety instead of lightly recruited true freshmen.

The defense as a whole looked unstoppable.

The offensive line enjoyed a bounce-back game, also. After earning preseason love as one of the best units in the country, Sparty's blockers have been plagued by inconsistency, in part because of injury, and the running game has suffered in turn.

On Saturday, however, the line lived up to August expectations. It plowed through a blue-chip Ohio State front seven that knew—or at least should have known—the Spartans wanted to run.

O'Connor managed the offense and made occasional plays with his arm. But a couple of plays he made with his legs, along with early contributions from Gerald Holmes and late contributions from LJ Scott, were the difference between two struggling offenses.

"First thing we had to do was win up front on both sides of the ball and I thought we did that," head coach Mark Dantonio said after the game, per Justin Dacey of "Second thing we had to do was allow no explosive plays. We gave away two turnovers—big turnovers—but we rallied back and that's just an attitude.

"We rallied back."

So now what does Sparty have to root for?

The short answer: Chaos whenever possible.

The key is getting losses from the group of one-loss teams from power conferences—plus, quite importantly, Notre Dame. It also needs to root against Clemson, the undefeated leader of the ACC, although the Tigers and one-loss North Carolina are zero-sum.

The key teams to root against are Notre Dame, Alabama, and the pack of ranked Big 12 teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU).

That second point will gain more clarity after Saturday's late games, when it becomes clear which teams are true threats, but Oklahoma and Oklahoma State hold a current advantage. Both are ranked ahead of Michigan State in the Week 11 CFP rankings, and either could hold off Sparty behind Clemson, Notre Dame and Alabama.

But because the Pac-12 is "eliminated" with no more one-loss teams, only one of those above teams needs to falter. One more break would give MSU a great shot at making the playoff. If Stanford, for example, beats Notre Dame next week, Sparty controls its fate.

Not bad for a team that "lost" to Nebraska two weeks ago.

This season might still have a pulse!

Read more College Football news on

Will Loss to Oregon Ruin Clay Helton's Shot at USC Head Coaching Job?

Southern California has the most attractive job currently open in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks, a distinction that could be hard to top even if another 15 jobs open this offseason. The Trojans have facilities. They have money. A great recruiting base and amazing tradition. It’s the total package.

So does interim head coach Clay Helton have a chance at the full-time head coaching job, even after Saturday’s 48-28 loss at Oregon? Absolutely. There’s something to be said for stability, and Helton has provided that in a huge way following Steve Sarkisian’s firing for alcohol-related issues.

Helton’s steady hand, and everything that remains on the table for the Trojans, gives him a legit shot at the big chair full time, even though athletic director Pat Haden could attract a much bigger name. The consistency he has brought to an unstable situation speaks volumes, and it’s reflected in Southern California’s recent success.

When Sarkisian was fired in early October, the Trojans were 2-3, including an ugly 17-12 home loss to a young Washington team. Helton lost his first game as interim coach, a hard-fought 41-31 defeat at now-No. 4 Notre Dame, but the Trojans won their next four games, beating then-No. 3 Utah, Cal, Arizona and Colorado, the last three coming by eight points or less. 

This week, Mark Whicker of the Los Angeles Daily News argued that the Trojans already had their head coach. 

Saturday, the Trojans showed some serious fight. Oregon broke away from a 14-14 second-quarter tie with 24 consecutive points, taking a 38-14 lead. On the road, down three scores? This would be the point where some teams would pack it in for the day, but that wasn’t the case with Helton’s group.

The Trojans scored a pair of touchdowns and went into the fourth quarter down 38-28 with the ball. Cody Kessler’s lost fumble turned into an Oregon touchdown, and the Ducks never looked back. But the effort was unquestionably there, and that’s well worth noting.

Despite the defeat, Southern California still has a chance to win the Pac-12 South and the Pac-12 title. UCLA’s 17-9 upset at Utah created a three-way tie atop the South with one week remaining, with all three teams at 5-3 in league play. However, UCLA and USC both own wins over the Utes, making their rivalry meeting next week a de facto division title game.

A win would give the Trojans a trip to the Pac-12 title game, most likely against Stanford, which defeated them 41-31 on Sept. 19. A win there and a victory in a New Year’s Six bowl game would give USC a 10-4 record with a league title, which would be an exceptional accomplishment given the shambles that Sarkisian left behind last month.

Interim coaches earning full-time roles are rare but not unheard of. Dabo Swinney turned his opportunity at Clemson into a full-time gig and has led the Tigers to an 11-0 record and the nation’s No.1 ranking. And just last week, Minnesota promoted Tracy Claeys into the big seat after Jerry Kill retired for health-related reasons.

Helton also has the support of his players, who have embraced his hiring on Twitter, using the #Helton2016 hashtag. More importantly, he has the support of Trojan insiders, as this tweet from Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News shows.

If Helton can keep winning, his familiarity with the program and the stability he can provide should give him a legit chance at the full-time position, regardless of which big names would jump at the chance to move to Troy.

Read more College Football news on

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

"That was a very poor performance."

That's what Urban Meyer could manage, via Ryan Ginn of Buckeye Sports Bulletin, after No. 9 Michigan State (10-1) invaded Ohio Stadium as a 13-point underdog and came away with a stunning 17-14 win over No. 3 Ohio State (10-1).

The Buckeyes were thwarted by Michigan State all evening, gaining a season-low 132 total yards against the inspired Spartans. They managed the win without starting quarterback Connor Cook, who was sidelined with the shoulder injury he suffered against Maryland last week. 

Here are the game grades from Michigan State's stunning three-point win. 


Michigan State Spartans Grade Analysis

Pass Offense

With Cook sidelined for the game, it was evident that Michigan State would go with a conservative game plan against the Buckeyes. The Spartans rotated Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry at quarterback and got safe, effective play out of them. The two combined for 85 yards and one touchdown on 7-of-12 passing through two quarters, and the Spartans only called four passes in the second half.


Run Offense

Michigan State's rushing attack was the difference in the game.

The Spartans knew they were in a dogfight and looked like the hungrier team, especially in the second half. After rushing for a meager 37 yards in the first half, Michigan State flexed its muscle and bullied its way to 163 yards in the final two quarters. Eight different ball-carriers dashed around, through and over a Buckeyes front seven that knew the run was coming.  


Pass Defense

Michigan State's secondary has been gashed consistently this season, but it completely shut down Ohio State's passing attack. J.T. Barrett completed just five of nine passes for 29 yards in the first half, and it didn't get much better in the second half. He finished with 46 passing yards on 9-of-16 passing with a long of 16 yards.


Run Defense

Ohio State's run offense came into the game ranked 11th nationally with 244.8 yards per game, but Michigan State made it look pedestrian. The Buckeyes gained just 46 yards on 19 carries through two quarters with a long of seven yards.

It was more of the same in the second half as Ohio State finished with a season-low 86 yards on 29 carries. 


Special Teams

Michigan State's special teams almost blew the game but ended up being the difference in the winning effort.

In the first half, Michael Geiger missed a 43-yard field goal that would have given the Spartans an early lead. In the second half, Macgarrett Kings Jr. muffed a punt at Michigan State's 6-yard line that allowed the Buckeyes to take a 14-7 lead. But Geiger came through at the end of the game, drilling a 41-yard field goal as time expired to seal the win. 



Simply put, Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State coaching staff called the perfect game Saturday night.

The Spartans had no business even being competitive in the game as a near two-touchdown underdog, and that was when the oddsmakers thought Cook was in line to play. That Michigan State overcame the injury and a hostile crowd to seal the upset is even more impressive. The Spartans loaded the box defensively and dared Ohio State to beat them over the top, and that gamble paid off huge. 


Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense

Nothing Ohio State did on offense worked, and that was especially true in the passing game.

Barrett threw just 16 passes (for a total of 46 yards) despite facing an absolutely loaded Michigan State box. There were one-on-one matchups on the perimeter all night long, and Ohio State consistently failed to exploit or even challenge them. Leading receiver Michael Thomas had a couple of bad drops and was held to a season-low eight receiving yards on two receptions. 

This didn't look like the same quarterback and offense that gashed Michigan State for 300 passing yards last season. 


Run Offense

The most surprising element of the game was Ohio State's inability to run the ball and its refusal to feature Ezekiel Elliott.

The Buckeyes came into the game averaging 244.8 yards but managed just 86 yards on three yards per carry against the Spartans. Elliott accounted for just 33 of those yards—snapping the nation's longest streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing performances at 15. After getting nine carries in Ohio State's first three drives of the game, Elliott got just three in the final 40 minutes. 

It was a baffling performance from Ohio State on many levels, but this was the most confusing aspect of the team's losing performance. 


Pass Defense

Michigan State didn't challenge Ohio State's secondary.

The Spartans only dialed up 16 passes against the Buckeyes, 12 of which came in the first half. Eli Apple allowed Aaron Burbridge to get free on a huge 36-yard gain that set up Michigan State's first score, and fullback Trevon Pendleton's 12-yard touchdown catch fooled the secondary later in the drive. 


Run Defense

Ohio State lost the battle in the trenches, and as soon as Michigan State saw that it had the advantage, it rode it to victory. Michigan State's run offense gashed the Buckeyes defense for 200 yards, using eight different ball-carriers to keep the defense off balance. Of those 200 rushing yards, 163 came in the final two quarters as the Spartans imposed their will down the stretch. 


Special Teams

Cameron Johnston has been one of the best and most consistent punters in the country, but he got off to a horrendous start against the Spartans. After the Buckeyes had surrendered a long touchdown drive to the Spartans in the first half, they went three and out, and Johnston shanked a horrendous five-yard punt. 

That punt didn't cost Ohio State any points, but his final effort—a 37-yard boot that dribbled to the 48-yard line—set Michigan State up in scoring position with just over four minutes to play. 



A year after putting together one of the best coaching jobs in college football history, Meyer has managed this team poorly this year, and things completely fell apart against the Spartans. Elliott getting just three carries in the final 40 minutes was a laughable gaffe on the part of the coaching staff, and it cost Ohio State a chance of winning the game and keeping its playoff hopes alive. 


David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on

Ezekiel Elliott Hospitalized Week Prior to Michigan State Game

As questions about the Ohio State Buckeyes' play-calling in Saturday's loss against the Michigan State Spartans continue, at least one answer has emerged. Running back Ezekiel Elliott may have been marginalized in the offense because of a brief hospital stay earlier in the week.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, Elliott's father said his son was hospitalized with some type of infection. According to Tim Moody of, Ohio State's star running back said he was in the hospital from Monday through Wednesday and "didn't even think he was going to play."

Ohio State's undefeated season and likely its national title hopes ended in a 17-14 defeat at the Spartans' hands. The Buckeyes ran just 45 plays on offense, with Elliott carrying the ball only 12 times for 33 yards. 

After the game, per Moody, Elliott said the team wasn't "put in the right situations to win." It's unclear how much, if at all, the infection hindered the star. Saturday marked the first time since Nov. 15, 2014, that he failed to break the 100-yard mark. 

Regardless of whether Elliott should have been a bigger part of the offense against Michigan State, his limited availability in practice before the huge conference showdown must have impacted head coach Urban Meyer's game plan.

That doesn't excuse Ohio State's offensive showing, but it does shed light on Elliott's performance.

Read more College Football news on

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

Behind quarterback Chad Kelly, the No. 22 Ole Miss Rebels defeated the No. 15 LSU Tigers 38-17 on Saturday in Oxford, Mississippi. The junior quarterback recorded 361 total yards and four touchdowns as the Rebels (8-3, 5-2 SEC) bounced back in convincing fashion after a loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The free fall continues for LSU. Just three weeks ago, it was undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings before consecutive losses to the Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas and Ole Miss. 

The Advocate's Scott Rabalais had some questions for the committee:

LSU running back Leonard Fournette had been slowed down in his last two games, recording a combined 122 yards on the ground, including a 31-yard night against Alabama. Before Week 10, the Heisman Trophy candidate had not recorded fewer than 150 yards in a single game. 

He fared better Saturday than he had in the two weeks before, rushing for 110 yards.

Ole Miss went for the jugular to start, setting the tone. On the first play from scrimmage, Kelly hit Quincy Adeboyejo for 51 yards, though the Rebels could come up with only a field goal on the drive. 

The Tigers offense had a slow start, and a sloppy one at that, committing four penalties on its first drive. Fournette didn't do much on the ground early, but he found a way to make a big play with a one-handed catch on a screen pass that went for 46 yards. 

Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel needed a reminder of Fournette's prowess:

Fournette's catch put LSU in field goal range, but kicker Trent Domingue missed his first field goal of the season from 27 yards out. He was 10-of-10 entering Saturday. 

Photographer Brianna Paciorka wasn't happy with the sequence of events as she watched the CBS broadcast put on a classic jinx:

Ole Miss took advantage of LSU's miscues, punching in the first touchdown of the day on a two-yard run from Jaylen Walton that helped the Rebels go up 10-0. 

Rabalais' description of LSU was grim, to say the least:

After forcing another LSU punt, Ole Miss went up by 17 thanks to a five-yard rush from Kelly. The SEC on CBS showed Kelly's touchdown:

With LSU head coach Les Miles on the hot seat, Mandel questioned how long he'd stick around on the Tigers sideline:

LSU's offense couldn't get anything going. With Ole Miss keying in on Fournette, quarterback Brandon Harris wasn't cutting it in the passing game. An interception with less than four minutes left in the first half gave Ole Miss the ball on the LSU 11-yard line.

Country music superstar Charlie Daniels kept it short and simple while describing Ole Miss' performance through the game's first 25-plus minutes:

On the first play of the drive, Kelly hit wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to help put the Rebels up 24-0. One of the top wide receiver prospects for the 2016 NFL draft, Treadwell showed off his physicality and strength while muscling his way into the end zone, as the SEC on CBS showed:

But LSU, out of nowhere, finally got on the board in big fashion when Harris hit Tyron Johnson for a 39-yard touchdown pass.

Ole Miss fans such as's Alex McDaniel began to get uneasy, even though the team was still up 24-7 at halftime:

Rebels fans grew more uneasy when the team fumbled the kick return after a Domingue field goal and gave the ball back to LSU to start the third quarter.

Fournette settled into a groove, gaining as many yards in the first four minutes of the second half than he did in the entire first half.

Helping the Tigers drive down to the Rebels' goal line after the fumble, Fournette took a handoff on 3rd-and-goal but fumbled it into the end zone. Offensive lineman William Clapp recovered the fumble, though, to help pull LSU within a score at 24-17.

The SEC on CBS showed the touchdown:

ESPN's Dick Vitale couldn't believe what he was watching:

Once Ole Miss got the ball back in Kelly's hands, the Rebels expanded their lead. After five completions and two rushes, Kelly scrambled for 11 yards, flipping into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. 

NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. loved what he was seeing from the Rebels quarterback:

With three minutes left in the third quarter, the lead was back to 21 points after Evan Engram took a screen pass 36 yards for the touchdown. The SEC on CBS showed the replay:

It also caught a shot of Fournette after the score:

LSU's season is all but over, and the attention might start shifting solely to Miles, who went from possibly coaching for the national championship to perhaps losing his job in the span of three weeks. 

Ole Miss kept its slim chances in the SEC West alive entering the final week of the season. At 5-2, the Rebels sit a game behind Alabama, a team they've beaten this season. If Ole Miss defeats Mississippi State in its final game of the regular season and Alabama loses to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Ole miss will play Florida for the SEC title.

Post-Game Reaction

It didn't take long for Miles to start receiving questions about his job status, according to the Advocate's Ross Dellenger:

But coaching for a program that demands success year in and year out, three-straight losses is something that LSU doesn't encounter often, as Miles addressed his team's recent form per Dellenger:

For Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, Saturday night's win meant much more than a tally in the win column, per the Ole Miss Spirit's Ben Garret:

For him, it was the play of the defense that sealed the deal for the Rebels:

Freeze will need that defense and a little bit of luck if the Rebels want a chance to play for the SEC title. They have a stiff test to end the regular season with in-state rival Mississippi State and the always dangerous Dak Prescott. 

But they will be rooting hard for Auburn to take down Alabama. However, if Alabama does lose, it will be difficult for an SEC team to make the college football playoff. Ole Miss would have to jump 18 spots in two weeks and Florida currently sits at No. 8. They would have to leapfrog the likes of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Michigan State for a shot at the top-four.  

Stats courtesy of

Read more College Football news on

College Football Scores 2015: Top 25 Teams' Week 12 Results, Key Stats and Stars

No. 9 Michigan State delivered one of the shock results of the year Saturday, beating No. 3 Ohio State 17-14 on a Michael Geiger field goal as time expired.

ESPN's College GameDay provided a look at the winning kick:

The loss ends Ohio State's win streak at 23 games and deals a near-fatal blow to the Buckeyes' chances at another national championship. The Spartans are very much in the College Football Playoff hunt with the win. The defense put in a monstrous effort, holding Ohio State to just 132 yards of total offense.

CFB on ESPN Radio passed along an optimistic comment from Michigan State quarterback Tyler O'Connor after the win:

The result also opens the door for the likes of No. 5 Iowa, who won big over Purdue, and perhaps even No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Oklahoma, pending their results later Saturday against No. 10 Baylor and No. 18 TCU, respectively.

Several games involving Top 25 teams came down to the wire, including overtime wins for No. 8 Florida and No. 17 North Carolina.

Here are the scores, key stats and top players from each Top 25 game as of 8 p.m. ET. Rankings are based on the College Football Playoff poll from November 17.

Top Stars from Early Saturday Games

Vernon Adams Jr., QB, Oregon

Senior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. put together what was easily his best performance of the season Saturday, tossing six touchdown passes in the Ducks' 48-28 win over Pac-12 rival USC. No quarterback has ever been so prolific against USC, per SportsCenter

Adams' accuracy was truly stunning. He threw just five incompletions as he carved up the Trojans secondary. SB Nation's Dan Rubenstein was a particularly big fan of his downfield efforts: 

Check out one of Adams' swoon-worthy touchdown passes, courtesy of the team's official Twitter account: 

Adams has really made his mark in the latter half of the season after recovering from early injuries. He threw four touchdowns apiece against Arizona State and Cal in Weeks 9 and 10. Thanks to his efforts, Oregon is on a five-game win streak and in great shape for yet another Top 25 finish. With performances like these, Ducks fans might be left wondering "what if?" at the end of the season.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Deshaun Watson burnished his Heisman trophy credentials in Week 12, accounting for four touchdowns in Clemson's somewhat pedestrian but entirely predictable 33-13 win over Wake Forest.

As the team's official Twitter account noted, he picked up a good chunk of his numbers in the first quarter:

Watson cooled off after the first quarter, having already dealt the damage necessary to defeat the Demon Deacons. He did throw two interceptions in the game, but they hardly hurt his side. 

With a few other high-profile Heisman contenders doing little to stand out Saturday, the winning, prolific performance from Watson could prove to be a major bump for the sophomore in the race for the stiff-arming prize. He already has at least one high-profile endorsement, per Steve Reed of the Associated Press: 

Derrick Henry had just 68 yards and two touchdowns as Alabama gave everyone time to breathe in a romping win over Charleston Southern. Heisman voters might forgive this game for Henry as his team hardly needed him against a cupcake opponent, but it will limit his year-end totals.

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott managed just 33 yards and one score Saturday, while LSU's Leonard Fournette went scoreless against Ole Miss, although he did pick up 182 all-purpose yards.

The trophy is still very much up in the air. There is hardly a true front-runner in this race. However, Watson's team is undefeated, and he has done most of his best work in the latter half of the season. If recency bias takes hold, Watson could emerge as the Heisman winner when all is said and done.

Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

Let's round this out with another top-drawer display from a quarterback. Chad Kelly trounced the LSU Tigers Saturday, throwing for two touchdowns while picking up two more with his feet in a resounding 38-17 Rebels win. Per the SEC Network, Kelly broke a legendary Rebels single-season record on the day:

Ole Miss Football also noted that Kelly now has the single-season record for total yards with 3,713.

He had little trouble moving the chains against an LSU squad that came into the game ranked 28th in total defense. He did well to spread the ball around, with eight different Rebels catching passes. Evan Engram ranked sixth on Ole Miss in receptions coming into the game, but he led the team with five catches for 58 yards and one touchdown.

Standout wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was a major beneficiary of Kelly's passing excellence (no surprise there), picking up 58 yards and a score of his own to match Engram. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller commented on Kelly's play:

Kelly may not be an NFL talent, but he's almost certainly the best quarterback in the SEC. With their gunner in fine form, the Rebels have to like their chances next week against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.

Read more College Football news on

Will LSU RB Leonard Fournette Be a 2015 Heisman Finalist?

In a crowded Heisman Trophy field, November momentum matters most. 

LSU running back Leonard Fournette is stuck in neutral and could even be going in reverse.

The superstar sophomore, who was not only the front-runner for the most prestigious individual award in the sport but the shoo-in, has suffered a November fade and allowed other contenders to jump into the conversation.

At this point, he's no longer a lock for the Heisman and isn't even necessarily a lock to make the trip to New York as a finalist for the award.

Fournette finished the day with a decent stat line—25 carries for 108 yards, along with 72 receiving yards—but was rendered as an afterthought due to Ole Miss jumping out to a 24-0 lead in the first half, which led to the 38-17 win.

For the third straight week, a defense came in with the specific game plan of slowing Fournette down, doing just enough to force LSU into a shootout, and the Tigers couldn't hang.

As Ben Love of 103.7 The Game in Lafayette, Louisiana, noted on Twitter, Fournette simply can't carry the Tigers on his back for a full season:

That's enough to knock him out of the top spot on the Heisman rankings, and considering the field that's also in the mix, it will make it difficult for the New Orleans native to get an invite as a finalist.

The ability to vote online allows people to wait until the bitter end to cast their votes for the Heisman, and even a stellar outing next weekend against a hit-and-miss Texas A&M defense won't be enough to reignite Fournette's Heisman flame.

Especially not with Alabama's Derrick Henry getting a national stage during the Iron Bowl against Auburn next week—and perhaps an even bigger stage the following week in the SEC Championship Game—and the emergence of Florida State's Dalvin Cook on the Heisman scene.

Cook ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's 52-13 win over Chattanooga, which bumps him up to 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. Henry is likely going to get the majority of the running back love from voters down the stretch due to his production and exposure, with Fournette and Cook likely splitting the leftovers.

There's only so much running back love to go around, and that doesn't even factor in the Midwest vote—some of which will go to Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott, who had his streak of 15 straight 100-yard games snapped in the 17-14 loss to Michigan State.

With Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson a near-lock to go to New York, the resurgence and feel-good story of Oklahoma quarterback and two-time walk-on Baker Mayfield, and the ridiculous season Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman is putting together, there simply won't be enough room for Fournette. 

The number of people invited to New York as Heisman finalists varies from year to year. Last year, only three people were invited to New York—Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. That's half as many as were invited the previous year, when Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston took home the trophy over the other five finalists.

Fournette is now the underdog who's not only going to split running back votes but regional votes with Henry, Cook and Watson.

That's a no-win situation.

At this point, simply getting an invitation to New York would be a surprise for Fournette based on how this year's Heisman race has evolved over the final month of the season.


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

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

Read more College Football news on