NCAA Football News

Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips Celebrates 1st Sack of 2014 Season with Shmoney Dance

After getting his first sack of the season against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips decided to show off some moves by doing the Shmoney dance.

The sack was a big one on third down, forcing the Volunteers to punt the ball away. According to Oklahoma's Twitter account, the sack now gives Phillips 2.5 for his career.

[Vine, Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Tech Football: Why Justin Stockton Is Crucial to the Red Raiders' Success

In early January 2013, Texas Tech football coach Kliff Kingsbury made an addition to his coaching staff that didn't make many headlines or create much buzz around the country.  On that day, he hired former high school coach Mike Jinks to coach the Red Raiders running backs in Lubbock.

Jinks was in the later stages of building a high school juggernaut in a San Antonio suburb.  Before Jinks’ departure, the Steele Knights were one of the best teams in the country, with a roster loaded with Division 1-caliber talent. 

While Kingsbury’s decision to hire Jinks as running backs coach didn't look like a game-changing move on paper, the move paid dividends only 10 days later.

Then, Steele running back Justin Stockton committed to Texas Tech.  He was the most highly touted recruit of the Kingsbury era to that point.  Whether or not Stockton’s commitment was based solely on Jink’s presence is unknown, but it had to have helped.

He was a 4-star recruit, according to ESPN Recruiting Nation, and had a very productive high school career.  As a senior, he rushed for 2,159 yards and scored 38 touchdowns.  For his career, he amassed over 6,000 yards on the ground and averaged a phenomenal 11 yards per carry.  He was rewarded for his terrific senior season, as he was one of the running backs named to the Associated Press Class 5A All-State first team.

Stockton showed up on the High Plains with several other backs ahead of him, but after Kenny Williams moved to linebacker and Stockton showed his explosive big-play ability, he found himself in line for a decent number of touches as a true freshman.

In the Red Raiders’ opening game against Central Arkansas, Stockton rushed for 38 yards on six carries.  He also recorded his first collegiate touchdown, a six-yard run, to give Tech a 21-16 lead before the end of the first half.

If you think that was pressure, it gets better.  Just a week later, in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, the Red Raiders found themselves locked in a dogfight against heavy underdog UTEP. 

After the Miners churned out a long 11-play, 88-yard touchdown drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock, Kingsbury’s squad had only five minutes, five seconds left in the game and needed a touchdown. 

The blustery winds of the Sun Bowl had thrown off Davis Webb’s passing a little bit, so they needed Stockton to lead them down the field.  Stockton broke off long runs of 24 and 20 yards to get the Red Raiders into position to win the game.  Webb promptly found Bradley Marquez in the end zone for his third receiving touchdown of the game, but they wouldn't have been in position to do that if not for Stockton.

The 5’9” true freshman has an impressive and diverse skill set.  He can run the ball between the tackles, catch passes out of the backfield as well as effectively return kicks and punts.  An example of his explosiveness and wide array of talents came in the San Antonio All-Star Game, when Stockton scored five touchdowns, three of those on kickoff returns.

After Kenny Williams moved over to linebacker in an attempt to solidify a defense that couldn't stop the run last year, it put a lot of pressure on the other running backs.  Junior DeAndre Washington has the most experience of the running back core and also was a 4-star recruit, but Stockton is the dynamic change-of-pace back that gives yet another option for the Red Raiders.

For Tech’s offense to start firing on all cylinders, they need Stockton to break off more runs like he did on that last drive against UTEP.   

The Red Raiders have struggled a bit of late, but they still have the necessary weapons to have one of the most prolific offenses in the nation.  They have a quarterback, Davis Webb, who has all the tools to engineer Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense, three talented running backs who have the ability to rotate and keep their legs fresh and a slew of receivers with big-play ability.

However, they had plenty of firepower last season when they went 8-5.  One of the biggest differences this year, though, is Stockton.  He adds a kind of offensive presence that you don’t see very often.  Texas Tech has had several solid running backs this century, but Stockton has the potential to be better than any of them.

He has breakaway speed, as he was a decorated track star in high school, and his outstanding vision and elusiveness make him a threat to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball.

Expect Kingsbury to incorporate Stockton into the offense as much as possible.  He can line up in the backfield or as a slot receiver, and that kind of versatility is an offensive play-caller’s dream.  He will probably be the second option to get carries in his freshman year, but as he gets more familiar with the offense and grows a bit, he should develop into one of the most productive backs in the Big 12.

The Red Raiders still have huge question marks on the defensive side of the ball, which is why they need all of their young skill players to blossom into terrific college players if they hope to compete with the other high-powered offensive attacks in their conference.

Stockton will be a vital part of the offense this season, and as he goes, so will Texas Tech.  It might seem odd that a backup running back has such a vital role in the team’s success, but he has the talent to serve as a tremendous complement to Washington. He might even match Washington’s touches as he works his way into different packages and personnel groups.

If Stockton continues to run wild when the Red Raiders face better defenses in the heart of their schedule, the offense will thrive and might even be a dark horse for the Big 12 championship.

If not this year, then definitely before Stockton uses up his eligibility. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The Game That Broke the SEC East Wide Open

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina had to let it ride in its game Saturday afternoon against Georgia if it wanted to have any hope of winning the SEC East, and head coach Steve Spurrier's crew hit the jackpot, albeit with a lot of help from Mark Richt and the Bulldogs.

With the 38-35 win, the Gamecocks broke the SEC East wide open.

Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan set an SEC record by hitting his 20th consecutive field goal early in the game, and then missed his final two—including a 28-yarder that would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter.

If play-calling issues hadn't popped up, he probably wouldn't have been in that position to begin with.

After a pick by Damian Swann set the Bulldogs up in the Gamecocks red zone, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and head coach Mark Richt chose to pass on first down rather than hand off to Heisman Trophy contender Todd Gurley—who had already racked up 131 yards on the night.

Georgia's seemingly annual flaw was exposed on Saturday, as the Bulldogs defense was lit up to the tune of 447 yards—271 through the air—and routinely left South Carolina wide receivers running free with nary a defender in sight.

"The whole game, coach called some great stuff," Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson said. "Guys were open."

They were open all day, especially early. Thompson connected on 10 of his first 11 passes, including several over the middle to receivers who were running free. That got him into a groove, as South Carolina built a 24-13 lead at halftime.

A win for Georgia would have further fueled the Dawgs' early-season hype train and put them two games ahead of South Carolina—with the head-to-head tiebreaker—for the coveted trip to the SEC championship game in Atlanta. But, that would have been way too clean for the topsy-turvy SEC East. 

So who's the favorite now? 

Not South Carolina, according to Spurrier.

"Nahhhhh," he exclaimed in the postgame press conference. "We're just happy to get the win."

Thompson took the same stance as the Head Ball Coach regarding the landscape of the division.

"I don't know," he said. "We always want to win the one against Georgia. There's so much running through my mind right now."

The truth is, nobody knows.  

South Carolina certainly has a puncher's chance, Florida has the defense to stay in virtually every game and defending champ Missouri hasn't missed a beat despite significant roster turnover.

In one night, and perhaps with one missed kick or ill-advised play-call, the entire landscape of the SEC East changed. 

In 60 short minutes, the favorite came back and said "we're not dead yet," and kept the SEC East wide open for everybody—itself included.

Buckle up.

It's going to be a wild ride.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report and co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia vs. South Carolina: How Bulldogs' Loss Will Shake Up Week 4 Rankings

No team emerges from an SEC battle unscathed.

That line of thought was amplified in Saturday's meeting between No. 6 Georgia and No. 24 South Carolina, which the Gamecocks won 38-35, as it was the week's lone showdown between ranked opponents.

With widespread implications as to how the Week 4 rankings would look—not to mention playoff resumes down the line—it seemed only right that the game was decided by a fourth down that measured out like this, per CBSSports.com's Chip Patterson:

Here is a look at how The Associated Press Top 25 stacked before Saturday's SEC showdown:

Obviously, all of that goes up in flames.

After a thrilling proclamation to everyone that a playoff berth might be a reality, thanks to an opening-week win over then-ranked No. 16 Clemson 45-21, Georgia coach Mark Richt certainly looks something akin to a prophet now. Before the trip to Columbia, he had cast a gloomy outlook on the heavyweight battle.

“I got a feeling this game could get a little bloody,” Richt said, per ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough. “I think both teams are tough, physically. … Before it’s over, it may get down to a bit of a fistfight.”

Indeed.

Hutson Mason, despite throwing for 191 yards and a pair of scores, made a litany of costly mistakes in a hostile environment, which did much to nullify the efforts of back Todd Gurley, who gained 131 yards and a score on the ground.

A missed field goal in the final frame with just minutes left on the clock by Georgia's Marshall Morgan, right after an interception by his defense, kept things at the final score. The Bulldogs then failed to stop the aforementioned fourth-and-short conversion to see their rank and playoff chances take a serious hit.

As Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com noted before the spot, the playoff implications, above all else, were most important:

When it comes to ranks, the Bulldogs seem sure to fall to No. 12 at the very least. Right below them in the current ranks, Baylor took care of Buffalo 63-21, and others such as USC and LSU seemed sure to follow suit and get a promotion.

For South Carolina, the season-defining win sets up nicely. The schedule after Georgia has always been quite soft thanks to a visit to Vanderbilt, a home stand against Missouri and a trip to Kentucky before a bye and a visit from Furman.

Clearly, the rank that just shot up the charts right along with rejuvenated playoff chances will only continue to swell and make up for that season-opening 52-28 loss to Texas A&M.

Further helping the Gamecocks' surge up the charts is a slew of upsets on the weekend, including Virginia Tech suffering a letdown a week removed from upsetting Ohio State, losing to East Carolina 28-21.

No. 21 Louisville looked uncomfortable at best at Virginia, as it continues to pick up the pieces after Teddy Bridgewater's departure, losing 23-21.

Outside of the unexpected loss to what is clearly a very good Aggies team, Gamecocks fans can go ahead and claim this is all going according to plan.

Next week, the Bulldogs return home and welcome a winless Troy squad to town, which should allow the team to suffer any inevitable hangover and still emerge with a win. Even better, Knox Bardeen of FoxSports.com offers some encouraging news:

The Gamecocks, surely riding high, hit the road for yet another SEC encounter, albeit one that seems a bit easier than Saturday's game, with the opponent being 1-3 Vanderbilt—barring a letdown, of course.

In what was a down week from a mile away, the polls needed a major upset to go down in order to pique interest on the path to Week 4.

South Carolina served up the biggest of all.

 

Stats via ESPN.com. AP poll via The Associated Press.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Longhorns Mess Up Coin Toss vs. UCLA, Coach Charlie Strong Is Furious

Considering this is college football, the UCLA Bruins probably weren't prepared to throw the Texas Longhorns off guard by choosing to defer after winning the coin toss.

Apparently, no one told the Longhorns captains that deferring means they have the option to receive in the second half, so they elected to kick.

According to Bruin Report Online, the referee even tried explaining the situation to the Texas captain, but he still wanted to kick.

Brian Davis from the Austin American-Statesman tweeted that head coach Charlie Strong was furious at Tank Jackson, the player who apparently made the call.

UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. was apparently quite surprised about the decision, according to Bruin Report Online.

[Twitter, YouTube, h/t For The Win]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia vs. South Carolina: Game Grades, Analysis for Bulldogs and Gamecocks

The meeting between the Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks was well worth the wait.  After a 90-minute delay due to weather, things started early with lots of points and very little defense.

That proved to be the case throughout the evening, but ultimately coach Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks prevailed and put themselves in pole position in the SEC East. 

Here are positional game grades and analysis for both teams.

 

Georgia Bulldogs Grade Analysis

 

Passing Offense

Hutson Mason threw the ball extremely well in the first half, but it was odd that Georgia didn't go back to the passing game more often—particularly in the red zone.  In the second half, the emphasis was more on the running game, but Mason was still more than serviceable.  A few throws were late and/or high, but it's hard to put the loss squarely on Mason.

 

Rushing Offense

In the first half, holding penalties wiped out several long Todd Gurley runs.  Things opened up more advantageously in the final two quarters.  The Bulldogs finished the evening with 217 rushing yards, which is certainly hard to argue with.

 

Pass Defense

Georgia's pass defense was nonexistent in the first half.  The Dawgs struggled to pressure quarterback Dylan Thompson and as a result he picked apart a mostly unimpressive secondary.  The second-half effort was aided by some improvements in pressure, but any strides made against the pass were largely because South Carolina placed an emphasis on running the ball later in the game.

 

Run Defense

Georgia contained Mike Davis and the Gamecocks' ground attack in the first half, but the Gamecocks didn't need to run the ball.  Oddly enough, South Carolina's running game got stronger after Davis tweaked an ankle.  Brandon Wilds and Davis found just enough holes to make Georgia pay.

 

Special Teams

A missed field goal late in the first half hurt Georgia, but a missed attempt in the waning moments of the contest cost Georgia the game.  Kickoff coverage was poor in the second half, but those missed opportunities—six combined points were left off the board on missed field goals—proved insurmountable.

 

Coaching

For the first half, Georgia seemed to play it very safe. This approach was not in and of itself discouraging, given the second half turnaround the Dawgs pulled off in the season opener against Clemson.  The plan for the second half was sound, but this South Carolina team was more than Georgia could overcome—especially with Georgia having problems with execution.

 

 

South Carolina Gamecocks Grade Analysis

 

Passing Offense

Quarterback Thompson had himself a game on Saturday.  He struck early and often.  He let up some in the second half but mainly because South Carolina committed to eating the clock and running the football.  Georgia was unable to stop the Gamecocks passing attack.

 

Rushing Offense

South Carolina didn't run the ball especially well in the first half, but with Thompson on fire, the Gamecocks didn't need to.  In the second half, Wilds and Davis picked up yardage at critical times. They didn't dominate the entirety of the game's final 30 minutes, but they did enough to crush Georgia's spirits.

 

Pass Defense

The Gamecocks looked susceptible in the secondary, but South Carolina put pressure on Mason in the first half.  The second half followed a similar tone, but Georgia's failure to commit to the pass bailed out a poor South Carolina secondary.

 

Run Defense

South Carolina gave up yards in chunks throughout the afternoon.  The Gamecocks did a nice job of limiting yardage on the ground on first downs, but far too often Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel broke tackles for meaningful gains.

 

Special Teams

No news is often good news on the special teams front, and that was certainly the case for the Gamecocks on Saturday.

 

Coaching

Spurrier and his coaching staff dealt with the long delay extremely well.  The Gamecocks came out fired up and ready to make plays.  The opening drive was a thing of beauty.  In the second half, they showed true resiliency and enough discipline to hold off a charging Georgia team.  

Great win for this coaching staff.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia vs. South Carolina: Score and Twitter Reaction

No. 24 South Carolina pulled off a 38-35 upset win over No. 6 Georgia on Saturday in a game that was literally decided by inches.

Holding a three-point lead in the final minutes, the Gamecocks converted a fourth-down quarterback sneak that was ruled a first down by the smallest of margins. The home team was able to run out the clock from there.

Paul Finebaum of ESPN gave his impression of the South Carolina win:

Dylan Thompson threw for 271 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for the Gamecocks, while Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds combined for 159 yards on the ground.

Todd Gurley led the way for the Bulldogs, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Quarterback Hutson Mason also added two passing touchdowns. 

Before the game, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was well aware of the stakes for the SEC East battle. 

"It’s pretty much a must for the division if we’re going to have a shot. It would be very helpful," he explained, via John Boyette of the Athens Banner-Herald.

His squad responded well, and the team is now back in good position for a division title after losing the opening game of the year to Texas A&M. 

Saturday's matchup took a long time to get started due to some inclement weather, as Prim Siripipat of ESPN described:

After the lightning subsided, the teams were able to take the field, although the rain continued throughout much of the game.

South Carolina was the first to strike and built up an early double-digit lead thanks to some strong play by Thompson in the first half. Josh Kendall of The State provided a look at the quarterback's stats early on:

ESPN's Danny Kanell gave his analysis of the senior quarterback:

The biggest moment for Georgia in the first half was a 33-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Sony Michel on an incredibly quick drive, as noted by SportsCenter:

Other than that, the Bulldogs had to be happy going into halftime down 24-13 considering Gurley was still on the field (and not ejected). This was in doubt due to a scuffle in the second quarter, which CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler described:

Gurley made a big impact throughout the second half with a number of long rushes. He scored a two-yard touchdown early in the third quarter and was quite impressive whenever he got the ball, as Kevin Weidl of ESPN explained:

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee joked about the running back's ability:

One of his most impressive runs came on a 3rd-and-16 where he changed direction and got the first down. CBS Sports provided a view of the change of events:

The run extended a drive that led to a Jay Rome five-yard touchdown catch. With the score and two-point conversion, the Bulldogs had cut the Gamecocks' lead to three.

South Carolina answered right back, though, with some strong running of its own. Davis and Wilds led a four-play touchdown drive all on the ground, capped off by an impressive 24-yard run by Wilds. 

College GameDay could not resist the opportunity for a pun:

When Georgia countered to get the score back to 38-35, ESPN's Stuart Scott explained how good the game was:

Later in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs had a chance to tie with a 28-yard field-goal attempt, but Marshall Morgan missed the chip shot. ESPN Stats and Info explained why this was such a shock:

South Carolina then got a few first downs to seal the victory, including a big fourth-down conversion on a quarterback sneak that was very close. Former college football coach Pete Roussel provided an image of the final measurement:

The play was reviewed and confirmed, and South Carolina came away with the win.

Both of these teams entered the year with high expectations, not only for an SEC title but also for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Gamecocks got a big boost for both of these scenarios, although there is still a lot of football to be played.

Things get much easier for the Bulldogs from here as they return home for a game against Troy. This will be the first of three winnable games at home, with Tennessee and Vanderbilt also coming up. This could be a good chance to build some momentum for the rest of the year.

South Carolina continues its SEC schedule with a road game against Vanderbilt and a tough home game against Missouri in two weeks.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Safety Quincy Mauger Destroys South Carolina WR Nick Jones

Georgia safety Quincy Mauger made a huge hit on South Carolina wide receiver Nick Jones during this heated SEC battle. Is this the biggest hit of the 2014 college football season so far?

Watch the video and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Scores 2014: Week 3 Results and Top Stars for Top 25 Teams

The clashes between elite teams were much less common than in the previous two weeks, but Week 3 of the college football slate featured everything from upsets of top-25 teams to dominating performances from the nation's elite.

College football results can be incredibly different from week to week. Just look at South Carolina, who emerged from the brink of becoming unranked to posting a 38-35 home win over sixth-ranked Georgia.

Bleacher Report summed up the result:

As per usual, Todd Gurley was a force for Georgia, but he couldn't play defense and South Carolina gashed the Bulldogs defense for 451 total yards. After coming out flat to start the season against Texas A&M, the Gamecocks got right back into the SEC East hunt with the win.

The upsets continued on Saturday in Blacksburg, Virginia to a team familiar with upsets this season. No. 17 Virginia Tech couldn't continue the momentum from its victory the previous week over Ohio State, falling to East Carolina, 28-21, in the weekend's biggest upset.

ESPN SportsCenter broke down that game:

The Pirates took a commanding 21-0 lead, before Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer led his team back to a tie the game with a minute left. But Shane Carden took over at that point, marching East Carolina down the field on a game-winning TD drive.

The loss continued a painful trend for Frank Beamer's crew, as ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported:

Louisville joined Virginia Tech as the top-25 schools that were upset Saturday. The Cardinals were beaten 23-21 by Virginia in Louisville's first conference game on the road as a member of the ACC. 

Bobby Petrino's 21st-ranked Cardinals were turning heads in their new conference early on, but they couldn't handle a Cavaliers team that now looks impressive after a close loss to UCLA to open the season. 

Like those teams, Oregon found some trouble early, trailing Wyoming 7-0 after one quarter. But the Ducks eventually clicked on offense, with Marcus Mariota leading his second-ranked team to a dominating 48-14 win.

Mariota made this spectacular play for one of his four total touchdowns, per ESPN SportsCenter:

As for teams looking to bounce back, Ohio State washed the bad taste out of its mouth from last weekend's home loss to Virginia Tech with a 66-0 win over Kent State.

J.T. Barrett threw six touchdown passes in a little over two quarters, and the Buckeyes cruised to their most lopsided victory in nearly 20 years, per OhioStateBuckeyes.com's Jerry Emig:

Stanford, like Ohio State, rarely finds itself having to bounce back, but the Cardinal were in that position Saturday. They shut out Army, 35-0, just one weekend after a gut-wrenching loss at home to USC.

While the SEC slate was dominated by the Georgia-South Carolina thriller, a pair of top-25 standouts from the conference also stood out, most notably the Missouri Tigers.

The 20th-ranked Tigers beat Central Florida 38-10 at home on Saturday behind four Maty Mauk touchdown tosses and a stout defensive effort. The Knights notched more first downs than Missouri, but the Tigers defense stiffened when it mattered.

As for Ole Miss, it had no trouble at all dominating Louisiana-Lafayette in the Rebels home opener, winning 56-15. Bo Wallace threw four touchdowns, and the 14th-ranked Rebels scored three more times on the ground to move to 3-0 on the season.

Take a look below at all the finals involving top-25 teams and a list of the best performances in those games. 

 

Shane Carden, East Carolina: 23-of-47, 427 Yards, four Total TDs

Shane Carden, world. World, Shane Carden. 

The East Carolina quarterback burst onto the scene with a dominating performance against Virginia Tech, throwing for more than 400 yards against a secondary that caused fits for Ohio State the week prior. 

His performance was unlike the others listed in that it wasn't for a ranked team. Rather, it came at the expense of one, as his huge game led ECU to a 28-21 upset over the 17th-ranked Hokies.

ESPN College Football noted his insane stat line:

Carden's play Hokies ranks as one of the all-time best performances against the Hokies, per ESPN Stats and Information:

The senior has been a starter for the Pirates since 2012, and he has been putting up big numbers pretty much since then. But such production never before came against such a talented and respected defense. Carden gashed Virginia Tech early on and came up in the clutch with the game-winning scramble with 16 seconds left to secure the victory.

 

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: 23-of-30, 312 Yards, Six TDs, INT

To say that J.T. Barrett would like to forget last weekend's debacle at home against Virginia Tech would be an understatement. Saturday was the first step in erasing that memory.

Ohio State and Barrett showed no mercy in a 66-0 drubbing of Kent State. The freshman quarterback completed 23 of 30 passes for 312 yards and a whopping six touchdowns.

Here's one of his touchdown passes, per ESPN College Football:

Barrett threw three interceptions last weekend against the Hokies and squandered opportunity after opportunity to get the Buckeyes back in it. But if he keeps up his play from Saturday, Ohio State will be just fine—you know, other than already having a loss. 

 

Marcus Mariota, Oregon: 19-of-23, 221 Yards; Five Carries, 71 Yards (Four Total TDs)

Oregon Heisman Trophy contender Marcus Mariota played only just past halftime of the Ducks' 48-14 win over Wyoming, but he certainly made the most of it. He finished with a strong 19-of-23 passing performance for 221 yards. He added 71 more on the ground and scored four total touchdowns.

Mariota even laid out for a somersault touchdown in the front corner of the end zone, which prompted USA Today's George Schroeder to wonder if that's worth the risk:

After dominating the second half last weekend against Michigan State, Mariota has gained some serious steam in the Heisman conversation. While a performance against Wyoming won't be his crowning moment, he padded his stats and brought his best for the short time he was in the game. 

 

Vince Sanders, Ole Miss: Eight Receptions, 125 Yards, Two TDs

Ole Miss has a few members of its receiver corps who can go off any given game. On Saturday, it was Vince Sanders.

The senior wideout caught eight receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns, leading the way for a 56-15 Ole Miss victory. Oh, and he posted that stat line before halftime:

The Rebels' offense—and the whole team, really—is primarily filled with young, budding talent. But a team doesn't get to Ole Miss' caliber without key contributions from the seniors, such as Sanders' big game Saturday.

 

Maty Mauk, Missouri: 14-of-24, 144 Yards, four TDs, INT (six Carries, 30 yards)

If you haven't already heard, Maty Mauk is quickly establishing himself as one of the SEC's top quarterbacks, and he made another big statement on Saturday.

The Tigers dominated UCF to the tune of 38-10, and Mauk was a huge reason why. He didn't air it out a ton—he had 144 yards passing—but he was efficient in and around the red zone with four touchdown tosses. 

The dual-threat passer also made his impact on the ground, turning six carries into 30 yards.

Per David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Mauk's start to the season is one of the best in school history:

Missouri now has three of its four season-opening nonconference games out of the way, and the Tigers will face Indiana at home on Saturday. If Mauk continues to play at this level, they could tear through the SEC East and repeat as division champions after all.

 

Todd Gurley, Georgia: 20 Carries, 131 Yards, TD

It came in a losing effort, but Todd Gurley didn't do much to squander his Heisman Trophy campaign at South Carolina.

Gurley ran for 131 yards on 20 carries and took it to the Gamecocks defense. The Bulldogs were down virtually all game, but it didn't matter—they ran the ball, and Gurley came through.

In fact, the worst decision the Bulldogs made was to not give the ball to Gurley near the goal line when Georgia trailed. The Bulldogs ended up missing a field goal that would have tied the game:

Gurley looks so dominant this season that he's a bright spot even in Georgia's worst moments.

 

Follow Steven Cook on Twitter for more breaking news and analysis on all things sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Brett Hundley Injury: Updates on UCLA Star's Elbow and Return

With a Heisman Trophy and early selection in the NFL draft potentially in his sights, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley must now overcome adversity in the form of an elbow injury suffered against Texas, according to David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest:

Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated reveals Hundley's replacement:

Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times has more detail:

After two productive seasons as the Bruins' starting quarterback, Hundley decided to return for his red-shirt junior season. That came as a surprise to some since many assume that he would have been a first-round selection along with Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.

While there were obvious risks involved with returning to school, UCLA head coach Jim Mora revealed prior to the 2014 season that he though Hundley made the right decision, per NFL.com's Bryan Fischer.

"In Brett's case, it was the best thing for him to come back. It will make him a better player in the long run," Mora said. "His dream is not going anywhere. His dream is to play in the NFL and his dream could become more vivid. Maybe he wins the Heisman. Maybe he's the first pick."

Mora laid out the best-case scenarios, but failed to mention what an injury could potentially do to his draft stock. It remains to be seen if Hundley's injury will have any long-term implications as far as the rest of the college football season and his draft status go, but it is disconcerting nonetheless.

This isn't the first time that Hundley has suffered an injury in the collegiate ranks. He tore his meniscus as a freshman in 2011, which resulted in him getting medically red-shirted. Hundley bounced back and became an elite signal-caller in 2012 and 2013, but that injury likely remained in the back of everyone's mind.

Hundley certainly didn't forget it as Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register reported prior to the season that Hundley took out an insurance policy:

That means Hundley is covered if this injury puts his NFL career in jeopardy, but Hundley and his supporters certainly hope that he won't have to collect on it.

If this ends up being little more than a scare, then Hundley still has a great opportunity to be taken early in the 2015 NFL draft. Mora had no doubts about his ability to transition to the NFL entering the 2014 campaign, per Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports:

Hundley certainly has an excellent skill set, ideal size and the production that NFL teams look for. After racking up over 4,000 total yards and 38 touchdowns as a freshman in 2012, Hundley's numbers dipped a bit in 2013, but they were still excellent.

Although he scored five less touchdowns and passed for nearly 700 less yards, he ran for almost 400 more yards, which is something that will appeal to NFL teams with dual-threat quarterbacks becoming all the rage.

While Hundley's NFL future may very well be hanging in the balance as it relates to this injury, UCLA's present is impacted as well. The Bruins' Pac-12 hopes hinge largely on Hundley's broad shoulders since he accounts for the vast majority of UCLA's offense.

If he is forced to miss any time, then the Bruins are going to struggle to remain afloat in the Pac-12 South. High-powered offenses are needed to truly remain competitive within the conference and the Bruins won't have that without Hundley.

There is always a chance that the injury will be little more than a minor hindrance and many are hopeful that is the case for Hundley and UCLA.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

ACC's Upset Weekend Does Not Help FSU's College Football Playoff Chances

Outside of Boston College's upset win over USC, it was not a good Saturday for the ACC, and that’s probably putting it mildly.

One week after handing Ohio State its first home loss since 2011, No. 17 Virginia Tech took a big step back, suffering a 28-21 loss to AAC foe East Carolina. Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch provided coach Frank Beamer's comments on the game:

No. 21 Louisville, expected to be one of the best teams in the ACC Atlantic Division, was defeated 23-21 at Virginia, which was 2-10 a year ago. The Courier-Journal's Jeff Greer shared Bobby Petrino's thoughts on the game, via Twitter, as he took responsibility for not preparing his players:

Of course, the best showing for the conference occurred in Chestnut Hill, as Steve Adazzio’s Eagles shredded the ninth-ranked Trojans on the ground to the tune of 452 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Tyler Murphy ran the read-option to perfection as he dazzled with 191 rushing yards and a score. 

But others didn't fare so well. 

Wake Forest traveled to Utah and lost to Mountain West mainstay Utah State 36-24. And Georgia Tech needed a Justin Thomas touchdown pass to Deon Hill with 23 seconds remaining to survive new FBS member Georgia Southern 42-38 after blowing every bit of a 35-10 lead.

Virginia Tech and Louisville will likely both fall out of next week’s Top 25 rankings, which is bad news for a league that entered this week with four teams in The Associated Press Top 25 (Florida State and Clemson are off this week before playing each other next week).

And that’s bad news for the Seminoles, in particular. 

While the defending national champions remain in solid position for the first College Football Playoff, their margin of error just decreased dramatically.

Strength of schedule is a major consideration of the College Football Playoff selection committee: The College Football Playoff website lists it as the No. 2 protocol behind a conference title. A weaker ACC hurts the Seminoles.

Louisville was perhaps the toughest game left on FSU’s schedule. The Seminoles visit the Cardinals on Oct. 30 for an ESPN-televised Thursday night game.

And while the Hokies remain contenders in the wide-open ACC Coastal Division, a loss will hurt their overall perception should they face Florida State in the ACC title game.

The Seminoles host Clemson next week, but with an FSU win Clemson will be a two-loss team three weeks into the season.

No. 11 Notre Dame visits Tallahassee on Oct. 18, but it is entirely possible that the Fighting Irish will be the last ranked team that FSU faces this season, including the ACC title game.

November opponents Florida and Miami could climb into the rankings by the time they take on FSU, but that’s not a given.

An undefeated Florida State team would certainly qualify for the College Football Playoff, but should the Seminoles slip up, would they still be picked over, say, a one-loss SEC, Big 12 or Pac-12 team? We don’t know, but it’ll be an interesting quandary.

FSU’s best path to the College Football Playoff? Just win, baby. Anything less could lead to serious trouble come December.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami (OH) vs. Michigan: Game Grades, Analysis for the Wolverines

Michigan didn't bring its A-game Saturday, but it had enough to down Miami (Ohio), the Mid-American Conference's winningest program, 34-10, at The Big House in Ann Arbor. 

Derrick Green had 22 carries for a team-high 137 yards and two touchdowns. Five others saw action, contributing to a team average of 6.1 yards on 45 attempts. Considering last week's implosion versus Notre Dame, the running game's offering this week was a vast improvement. 

Devin Gardner continues to be consistently inconsistent. He couldn't get much going in the first half, but he maintained enough composure to complete 13 of 20 attempts for 184 yards, two scores and an interception. 

With Devin Funchess, the No. 1 receiver, on the sideline, Amara Darboh led Team 135 with six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. However, the Wolverines wideouts weren't as crisp as they should be, especially against a "lesser" opponent. 

Jake Butt chipped in with three catches for 59 yards and a touchdown, the most action he's had all season. 

Grades are determined by various factors, such as total production, frequency and opportunity. 

Official box score on NCAA.com

Pass Offense

This is a problem. A big problem. Michigan has the weapons at the receiver positions, but it lacks a starting quarterback who can deliver the ball on a regular basis. Gardner was lucky that he didn't throw three picks Saturday. He wasn't very effective, to say the least. 

The Wolverines managed just 184 passing yards. Given the competition, that total is worthy of a D+. With Doug Nussmeier's reputation and ability to push quarterbacks, Saturday's total production was a definite disappointment. 

 

Pass Defense

Jourdan Lewis rebounded from a rough Week 2 with an interception. The Wolverines, as a whole, defended the big play well. Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix never really appeared comfortable. 

The pass D gets a C+. 

 

Run Offense

Again, stats can be misleading, so don't get up in arms about Green's 137 yards. He was good but not great. There is room for improvement, but the fact that the sophomore eventually got his wheels going was a great sign for the Wolverines, who have rushed for more than 100 yards through each game. 

 

Run Defense

The Red Hawks didn't run often, and that's because Michigan wouldn't let them. Greg Mattison's defense surrendered just 33 yards on the ground, an average of 1.4 per carry. Mattison's run D gets an A-. 

 

Special Teams

There weren't any missed field goals, but a lack of communication between Justice Hayes and Wyatt Shallman in the third quarter led to a turnover. 

 

Coaching

Overall, a win probably warrants at least a B. But it was Miami, and the Wolverines looked flat for most of the game. There were occasional spurts, but Team 135's coaching staff hasn't been able to get everyone on the same page at the same time. 

Hoke and his crew gets a C. 

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rice vs. Texas A&M: Live Score and Highlights

Texas A&M Aggies vs. Rice Owls, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN 2

At 2-0 and having scored 125 points, the Texas A&M Aggies under new signal-caller Kenny "Trill" Hill are looking to stay hot against the 0-1 Rice Owls. 

The Aggies have racked up their wins over South Carolina and Lamar, while Rice fell at Notre Dame to start its season. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bret Bielema's Arkansas Offense Finally Ready for SEC Play

You don't take an offense that likes to spread things out and chuck the ball around and turn it into one that slows things down, pounds the rock and maintains possession and expect it to be ready to compete in the SEC.

The experiment began for Bret Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2013 and as expected, the results weren't pretty. After opening last season with three straight victories, Arkansas lost its final nine games and eclipsed the 30-point mark just once, in a defeat to Texas A&M.

Fast-forward to the present day and Bielema's philosophy is starting to produce results. After a season-opening 45-21 loss at Auburn, the Razorbacks beat Nicholls State, 73-7, and followed it up with a 49-28 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.

Against the Colonels, starting quarterback Brandon Allen had just 117 yards passing, but the rushing attack, led by the two-headed monster of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, put up 495 yards. That would be impressive against a pile of sofa cushions let alone an actual football team.

Allen didn't need to do much more in the win over Kliff Kingsbury's Red Raiders either, throwing for just 61 yards. Collins and Williams, however, combined to rush for 357 yards and six scores on 49 carries.

No one will mistake the Red Raiders' defense for the one Alabama brings to the table, but being able to pile up big yards on the road against a power five opponent is impressive in itself. And when going up against teams with more talent, the Razorbacks will need to find a similar rhythm to stay close and pull off the upset.

Doing this on the road against Texas Tech is one thing, and following it up with the same type of effort effort on Sept. 20 against Northern Illinois will be another. But following the tilt with the Huskies will be a three-game stretch at home that could become a defining period in Bielema's tenure.

Texas A&M, Alabama and Georgia all come calling in the span of four weeks. One win should make fans happy, but two or three would make a major national statement.

With the offensive shift in college football toward a more up-tempo style that disregards time of possession and spreads things out both through the air and on the ground, it seemed crazy to think that Bielema could take a team without a wealth of talent and turn it into a contender in the best conference in college football using a physical, run-first brand of offense.

But that's exactly what's happening here, and it's time to give credit where it's due.

Given the talent in the trenches throughout the conference, being able to pass the ball is a must, and Allen will likely have to develop into a threat at some point, even if he doesn't transform into Ryan Mallett overnight. He probably isn't the next Russell Wilson, either, but he can learn a thing or two about how the former Badger ran Bielema's offense at Wisconsin.

In Wilson's only season as a Badger, he threw for over 3,100 yards and had 33 passing touchdowns. The biggest thing Allen can learn from, however, is Wilson's efficiency. He had just four interceptions and completed nearly 73 percent of his passes, and it's that ability to limit mistakes that could be huge when opposing defenses start stacking the box and forcing someone other than a running back to beat them.

But with those two backs averaging over six yards per carry behind an experienced offensive line, the Razorbacks finally appear ready for the grueling SEC slate that lies ahead.

The question now becomes, is the offense ready to simply compete, or can it score enough points to knock off a conference heavyweight or two? What happens in a close game late in the fourth quarter? Will Bielema's offense be able to throw the ball or can the rushing attack remain effective with the clock winding down?

Those questions have yet to be answered, but fans should be more confident in this group than they've been in quite some time because the offense finally looks capable of scoring points against some of the best programs in the country.

It wasn't that long ago that Arkansas didn't seem capable of doing that against anybody. In fact, you have to go back a long, long time to find the program's last win vs. an FBS program.

In order to keep piling up those wins, the defense will have to do its part, too. Stopping Auburn isn't easy, but you can't allow 45 points as the Razorbacks did in Week 1 and expect to win. Neither side of the ball playing well is what leads to seasons like 2013.

With the offense rolling, it should give the defense confidence and make the whole team better.

In today's world, you're either a contender in your conference or your not. Arkansas still falls into the latter category, but with a strong rushing game and a real identity for the first time in several years, the Razorbacks will likely play a major role in the SEC race, even if they aren't in the hunt themselves.

That's all due to an offense that is much improved from 2013. The scary part? If this is Bielema's program in year two, how good will things be in year three or four?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia's Todd Gurley Head-Butts South Carolina's Bryson Allen-Williams

The referees might have not seen it, but you can bet that someone will be talking to Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley after this boneheaded play.

After the play was over, Gurley walked up to South Carolina's Bryson Allen-Williams and head-butted him. The refs missed Gurley's act, but they did see Jordan Diggs retaliate and gave him a flag for doing so.

[Vine, h/t Sports Grid]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Safety Quincy Mauger Destroys South Carolina WR Nick Jones

The Georgia Bulldogs trailed the South Carolina Gamecocks 24-13 at halftime due to some defensive miscues, but this was one of their more impressive plays from the first half on that side of the ball.

After South Carolina wide receiver Nick Jones caught a pass down the sideline, Georgia safety Quincy Mauger laid him out with this huge hit.

Here's another angle of the play:

[Vine, h/t Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee vs. Oklahoma: Live Score and Highlights

Oklahoma 13, Tennessee 0 — Early 2nd quarter

Game action is now underway between Tennessee (2-0) and No. 4 Oklahoma (2-0). ABC is televising the matchup nationally from Norman.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Todd Gurley vs. South Carolina: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Georgia dropped a thriller against South Carolina Saturday, but that didn't stop Todd Gurley from looking every bit like a player who's going to be in the Heisman conversation all season long. 

In the 38-35 defeat, he finished with 20 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown, improving his numbers against a team he has struggled against in his career, per ESPN Stats & Info:

The Bulldogs' stud running back, who battled tight muscles and a crowded box, didn't exactly put up Gurley-esque numbers in the first half, entering the locker room with 44 yards on eight totes. Still, nearly every time he touched the ball, viewers such as ESPN's Kevin Weidl, were left in awe of his talent:

Even Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu was impressed: 

Dangerous weather delayed kickoff by nearly two hours, but Gurley showed few ill-effects from having to sit around, taking his first two carries for 17 yards on the way to a Georgia field goal. On the next drive, he went for 13 yards up the gut. And on his next touch, he exploded through the hole and accelerated away from everyone for a 54-yard touchdown. 

While the score was called back on holding, it was still yet another example of his jaw-dropping ability. Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer and Rotoworld's Josh Norris put it simply:

The second half was full of more "wow" plays. 

On one, he took a sweet to the left and galloped down the left sideline, shedding tackles and picking up 40 spectacular yards to set up a short TD run. On a 3-and-16 later in the game, he once again went left, but when he ran into a brick wall of defenders, cut it back to the middle of the field and carried defenders across the first-down line. 

Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples put it best:

When the junior steps onto the field, it usually sparks an interesting debate about his draft stock. His electrifying blend of size, speed, power and downhill running style have most in agreement that he will be a future star on Sundays. But teams have become hesitant about spending an early pick on a running back. 

As Bleacher Report's Cian Fahey argued, though, Gurley is worth it:

It's obviously going to depend on draft order, team need and other circumstances that we can't forecast right now. But Gurley is a dangerous playmaker, and if he continues to stay healthy, it's difficult to imagine him falling out of the first round. 

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah offered an intriguing comparison while Fahey painted a tantalizing picture:

Of course, no matter where he is eventually taken or what kind of player he becomes, Gurley will make college defensive coordinators across the country relieved not to see him on the field anymore. 

That's looking far down the line, though. For now, Gurley will continue to make life miserable for SEC defenses as he emphatically states his case as the best ball-carrier in the nation. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

ECU vs. Virginia Tech: How Hokies' Upset Loss Will Shake Up Week 4 Rankings

Virginia Tech surged up the AP Poll's rankings to No. 17 in the nation after its decisive 35-21 Week 2 victory over Ohio State. That didn't last very long, however, as the East Carolina Pirates rolled into Lane Stadium to defeat the Hokies 28-21 on Saturday.

The Pirates quickly got out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead after quarterback Shane Carden hit three different receivers for touchdowns within the game's first 13 minutes. This was more than concerning since Virginia Tech allowed only one touchdown during J.T. Barrett's dismal showing just one week prior.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports sarcastically tweeted how the Buckeyes must have been feeling at this point:

The Hokies did get back into the game, scoring three touchdowns while stifling the previously hot East Carolina offense to even the game at 21 with just 1:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. However, the defense allowed Carden and Co. to fly right back down the field, as Carden capped off a three-play, 65-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown scamper with just 16 seconds left in the game.

Virginia Tech produced only 389 yards of offense while Carden outgained the Hokies on his own, passing for 427 yards and three touchdowns. ESPN Stats & Info noted just how the quarterback's performance ranks in the history of Virginia Tech's defense:

This loss won't reflect well on the Hokies, and we can expect the rankings to shift in a big way heading into Week 4 of the 2014 college football season.

East Carolina was defeated by a score of 33-23 by South Carolina in Week 2. While the No. 24 Gamecocks have a difficult matchup against No. 6 Georgia on Saturday, anything but a blowout loss could propel them back up the rankings, passing Virginia Tech in the process.

To make matters worse for the Hokies, No. 25 BYU already defeated Houston on Thursday, No. 20 Missouri had a nice showing against UCF and No. 22 Ohio State rebounded in a big way over Kent State. We could speculate that inactive teams like No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Kansas State and No. 23 Clemson could move up as well following Virginia Tech's loss to an unranked opponent.

With at least seven teams poised to leapfrog the Hokies, perhaps this is what we'll be saying by next week, according to NFL Network's Albert Breer:

The only factors that appear to be in Virginia Tech's favor are the inactivity of North Carolina—the Tar Heels were ranked 27th in AP Poll points heading into Week 3—and the loss by No. 21 Louisville to Virginia. North Carolina may not have enough momentum to enter the Top 25, and Louisville should fall back out after its loss.

If the Hokies do maintain their standing in the Top 25, it will be close. Expect to see plenty of movement when the Week 4 rankings are released, as Virginia Tech drops down to No. 25 and possibly off the list altogether.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Kentucky vs. Florida: Live Score and Highlights

Midway Through the 2nd Quarter

The Gators and Wildcats have both played physical defense so far, leading to a scoreless tie as we are almost halfway through the second quarter.

The Gators have moved the ball well on the ground, but you have to give credit to Kentucky for coming out with a physical and inspired effort.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages