NCAA Football News

Florida vs. FSU: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Florida Cup

The Florida State Seminoles overcame an early 9-0 deficit and three first-quarter interceptions from Jameis Winston to defeat in-state rival Florida, 24-19, in the 2014 Florida Cup at home in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Winston's performance was perhaps the worst of his career, as he completed just 12 of 24 passes for 125 yards, two touchdowns and four total picks. It's not often teams overcome a disastrous performance like the one Winston had on Saturday night, per ESPN Stats and Info:

True freshman running back Dalvin Cook did most of the dirty work on offense for the 'Noles, picking up 144 rushing yards on 24 carries. He took on the lead back role after Karlos Williams left the game with a concussion, per ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach:

The Gators stayed in the game thanks to cornerback Brian Poole, who picked off Winston twice, and kicker Austin Hardin, who made four of six field goals, although both of his two misfires prevented Florida from taking a late lead. 

Here is a look at the quarter-by-quarter score from the contest:

This year's edition of the Florida Cup wasn't the titanic contest of seasons past. The Gators, playing with a lame-duck coach in Will Muschamp, have waded through a disappointing campaign that saw a competent defense get routinely undone by a fitful, error-prone offense.

The Seminoles once again played down to their competition—a nasty trend that should have some fans on edge heading into the ACC title game against Georgia Tech Dec. 6, which could very well be a must-win game for Florida State after a less-than-convincing run to the College Football Playoff. 

Winston was out of sorts right from the beginning. He threw his first interception on just the fourth play of the game from scrimmage. Florida safety Jabari Gorman jumped a slant route and made a tumbling catch to procure the turnover.

The Gators couldn't move the ball, but Hardin split the uprights for what would be his first of four made field goals on the night. 

Winston was just getting started with the charitable throws. He short-circuited the Seminoles' very next drive, with Quincy Wilson coming up with a stellar, bobbling interception, as shown by Bleacher Report:

The Gators managed just 26 yards on 10 plays and ended up with another Hardin field goal for an early 6-0 lead.

Florida State punted on its next possession, and Gators quarterback Treon Harris would finally get some offense going by hitting Brandon Powell for a 42-yard gain. However, the drive would stall out yet again and end in, say it with me now, a Hardin field goal.

Winston threw his third pick of the quarter on the ensuing possession, this one going to Poole. Gatorzone.com's Scott Carter encapsulated the quarterback's forgettable first quarter:

This time, however, the interception would lead directly to points for Florida State. Defensive back Terrance Smith picked off Harris on the very next play and returned it 94 yards for an interception. ESPN provided a look:

Winston got his act together in the second quarter. He tossed two touchdown passes to tight end Nick O'Leary in the frame, giving the Seminoles a 21-9 lead with just more than two minutes to go until the half.

Cook did well to get the running game going and provided Winston with a solid foundation from which he could run the offense and calm his own nerves. ESPN's Danny Kanell came up with an apt comparison for Cook's shifty moves:

Florida's offense found it tough to move the ball either through the air or on the ground in the second quarter. Harris' second interception of the night was sandwiched between Winston's two touchdown throws, and running back Matt Jones had little room to gallop.

The Gators would get a nice stroke of luck just before the half, as Seminoles punter Cason Beatty had to scramble on a punt play and coughed up the football. Harris would complete a 15-yard pass to Clay Burton to make the score 21-16 at the half.

Florida started off the second half with an 11-play, 44-yard drive that ended in a Hardin field goal, cutting the Seminoles' lead to just two points.

After an exchange of punts, Florida State found itself in good position to extend its lead after driving to midfield. Unfortunately, Winston fired a low, off-target pass right into Poole's path, giving a flash of hope to the Gators.

The Cauldron's Andy Glockner summed up Winston's erratic play perfectly:

Hardin, who had been so reliable up to this point in the game, would miss his field-goal chance just before the start of the fourth quarter. The Seminoles' next drive ended on a disastrous fake-punt call, which put the Gators in excellent field position on their opponent's 34-yard line.

Alas, the offense couldn't come up with a touchdown drive, and Hardin would miss once again, which drew a fist pump of relief from Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher.

The Seminoles would go on a 55-yard, clock-killing drive, capped off by a 37-yard Roberto Aguayo field goal for a 24-19 lead they would not relinquish.

Harris was off the mark on the Gators' last-ditch drive, missing on all six of his pass attempts. The Seminoles got the ball back with 1:42 remaining and ran out the clock on a Beatty punt at the death. CBS Sports' Damon Amendolara summed up Harris' incompetence:

The Seminoles have done little to inspire confidence in most observers this season, but their ability to stay composed late in games is one of the few things about this team that is not in question.

Of course, Coach Fisher doesn't understand the need for anyone to doubt his team's bona fides.

"We're undefeated. We finish every game. Everybody else in the country has not finished at least one game. We've finished every one of them. Isn't that the object?" he said prior to Saturday, via the Orlando Sentinel's Brendan Sonnone.

He has a point. As the only undefeated team from a Power Five conference, the Seminoles don't really have to answer to anyone, even if the shaky win over the Gators left plenty of questions surrounding this team unanswered. Like it or not, this team is playoff-bound with a win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title contest.

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Minnesota vs. Wisconsin: Game Grades, Analysis for the Badgers

The No. 14 University of Wisconsin Badgers punched their ticket to the Big Ten title game with an inspiring 34-24 comeback against No. 18 University of Minnesota at home Saturday afternoon.

After falling into a 17-3 hole, the Badgers battled back to make it a four-point deficit before halftime. Then, timely chunk-yardage runs by Melvin Gordon and over-the-top throws from Joel Stave led Wisconsin to a tight victory down the stretch.

It was far from a perfect performance from Wisconsin, especially in the first half. But there's plenty to build on as the Badgers prepare for Ohio State University. Let's take a look at their game grades.

 

Pass Offense: Neither Minnesota nor Wisconsin were known for quarterback play entering the game, but Stave made a name for himself. He went 11-of-18 with 215 yards and two touchdowns, with most of those passes coming in clutch moments when Wisconsin desperately needed to take momentum and the running game wasn't going.

Run Offense: Gordon was bottled up early by the Golden Gophers, but he ended with a serviceable 151 yards on 29 carries. The running lanes weren't there early, but they opened up in droves late. Corey Clement had a fantastic day in relief of Gordon, going for 89 yards on seven carries. Both had touchdown runs.

Pass Defense: Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner had a day to forget passing the football. He went 5-of-18 with 95 yards for the entire contest. To make matters worse, 53 of those yards came on a single pass—and it was a short screen that tight end Maxx Williams did most of the work on. Wisconsin's secondary had a pretty easy day.

Run Defense: The Badgers didn't have any answers early for Minnesota running back David Cobb, who was a game-time decision before bursting through for a 40-yard touchdown in the opening quarter. But with Minnesota unable to throw the ball, Wisconsin loaded the box and kept the Golden Gophers to four yards per carry. 

Special Teams: A fumbled punt return directly led to Minnesota's first touchdown, but that was early enough of a blunder for Wisconsin to be able to rebound. After losing the field-position battle for much of the first half, the Badgers constantly pinned the Gophers back.  

Coaching: Without much of a running game early from Gordon and Co., the Wisconsin coaching staff smartly put Stave in positions to make things happen with the play-action pass. That proved to be a big game-changer. Minnesota could no longer load the box with eight to nine men, and Gordon started to take advantage late.

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Notre Dame vs. USC: 2014 Jeweled Shillelagh Winner, Score and Twitter Reaction

 In the annual showdown between Notre Dame and USC for the Jeweled Shillelagh, the Trojans were all over the Fighting Irish with a 49-14 victory. It's the most lopsided victory by either side since a 38-3 win by USC in 2008. 

As is often the case in a blowout, there's a lot of credit that belongs to USC and a lot of blame to put on Notre Dame. The first victim of this loss for Notre Dame was quarterback Everett Golson, who continued his late-season struggles and was benched after USC went up 35-0 in the second quarter, via Gil Brandt of NFL.com:

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly had grown increasingly frustrated with Golson's erratic performance each week. Kelly's cup seemed to run over after a loss to Arizona State, as these comments to reporters indicate, via Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports:

There were absolutely no changes in what (Arizona State did defensively), which makes it even more maddening and frustrating. I guess that's what I'm most upset about because we could've moved the ball [Saturday] effectively. It's one of those deals where you take one step forward and two steps back and he comes back in the second half and does some really good things. He's got to strive for consistency. If (Golson) plays clean in the first half, who knows where we'd be right now.

It took a few weeks to make a move, but Kelly finally saw enough after Golson went 7-of-18 with 75 yards and one interception against USC. That interception extended Golson's streak of consecutive games with a pick to nine, per ESPN's College Gameday:

While blaming Golson is the easy thing to do, let's not exonerate Notre Dame's defense. The Fighting Irish have allowed in each of their last seven games. They also allowed USC quarterback Cody Kessler to set a record against them, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:

To rub a little more salt in the wound for Notre Dame, Kessler's sixth touchdown pass came less than four minutes into the third quarter. 

Notre Dame will just be happy to have this season end, especially the Pac-12 part of the schedule. According to Pac-12 Networks on Twitter, the Fighting Irish were basically doomed before halftime in their games against Stanford, Arizona State and USC:

On the bright side, Notre Dame did come back to win that game against Stanford on October 4. 

Moving back to the winning side, how good was Kessler today? Former USC quarterback and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Matt Leinart noted on Twitter the junior had more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four) in the first half:

This final score is more indicative of how far Notre Dame has fallen as the season has gone on. USC was coming off a loss against UCLA in which the Bruins dominated, so this wasn't like the mismatched games in the mid-2000s that USC controlled before the opening kickoff. 

All told, the Trojans racked up 577 yards of offense and controlled the ball for 37 minutes, 19 seconds. They finished the regular season 8-4 (6-3 in Pac-12). Notre Dame ends the year with four straight losses but will be in a bowl game with a 7-5 record. 

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Oregon vs. Oregon State: Live Score and Highlights

Oregon 16, Oregon State 0 ; Early 2nd Quarter

The Civil War takes place Saturday night in Corvallis, as the Oregon State Beavers (5-6) look to upset Marcus Mariota and the No. 2 Oregon Ducks (10-1). 

Stakes in this game are massive for both teams. An Oregon State win would make Mike Riley's team bowl-eligible.  As for Oregon, a loss would effectively knock it out of playoff contention. 

The game will begin at 8 p.m. ET. It can be seen on ABC. 

Odds Shark has Oregon as a 20.5-point favorite. A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

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Ole Miss RB Jaylen Walton Breaks Tackles, Scores 91-Yard TD

Running back Jaylen Walton gave the No. 19 Ole Miss Rebels a 24-10 lead over No. 4 Mississippi State with one of the best runs of the college football season. 

Walton started right, cut it back to the left and somehow wriggled free from a swarm of defenders. He went up the sideline 91 yards for the touchdown. 

Was this the best run of the day?

Check out the video and let us know!

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Auburn vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

Alabama 14, Auburn 9 — Early 2nd quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 15 Auburn (8-3) and No. 1 Alabama (10-1). ESPN is televising the matchup nationally from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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

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Bryce Petty Injury: Updates on Baylor Star's Concussion and Return

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty suffered his second injury of 2014 after going down with a head injury against Texas Tech.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach broke down the play:

Jake Trotter of ESPN.com would later provide an update in the fourth quarter: 

ESPN's Brett McMurphy had an update after the game:

Tim Griffin of MySA.com had Petty's thoughts after the game:

Mac Olson of ESPN.com added his thoughts:

Mike Pereira of Fox Sports believed there should have been a penalty on the play:

Expectations were high for the senior star. Petty wasn't considered the favorite for the Heisman Trophy, but he was on the shortlist for the trip to New York City at the end of the season.

His Heisman campaign hit a major snag shortly after it began, though, after Petty picked up a back injury against SMU in Baylor's season-opener. According to The Dallas Morning News, he had two cracked transverse processes.

While the problem wasn't debilitating, it was enough to limit him to 13-of-23 passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He then missed the Bears' next game against Northwestern State, and the problem continued to hamper him as the weeks wore on.

From a numbers perspective, Petty's season bottomed out in Baylor's 61-58 win over TCU. He completed just seven of his 22 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Two weeks later, he went 16-of-36 for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears' 41-27 loss to West Virginia.

For almost the entirety of the 2014 season, Petty has looked less than 100 percent, and this most recent ailment only worsens the situation.

Backup Seth Russell has filled in admirably at various points, but there's no question that Baylor's chances of winning the Big 12 hinge on Petty's health.

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Tennessee Volunteers Honor Former Player Eric Berry for Game vs. Vanderbilt

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry is out for the remainder of the season with what the medical staff believes is likely lymphoma, as Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star reported.  

His former college team is offering its support with a sticker on the players' helmets during its game vs. Vanderbilt.

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How Playoff Committee Should Look at Ohio State After J.T. Barrett Injury

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In football circles, the term "system quarterback" is somewhat of an insulting phrase, a backhanded way of discrediting one player in favor of the scheme in which he plays in.

But for Ohio State, its ability to produce such may be its only argument left for making the College Football Playoff.

The Buckeyes' playoff hopes took a significant hit on Saturday, when quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with a right ankle fracture in Ohio State's 42-28 win over Michigan. Head coach Urban Meyer confirmed that the Heisman Trophy candidate and star redshirt freshman quarterback will miss the remainder of the season, starting with next weekend's appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game.

That's significant in and of itself, as Ohio State will be without its best offensive player in a game against a Top 25 opponent in Wisconsin. More than that, the selection committee will take into account Barrett's absence when examining Ohio State's playoff candidacy.

That obviously doesn't bode well for the Buckeyes, as Barrett's play was a big reason why No. 6 Ohio State seemed to hold an edge over fellow one-loss playoff candidates TCU and Baylor. While the Buckeyes' Week 2 loss to 6-6 Virginia Tech was the "worst" of the bunch, that blow seemed to be lessened by the progress that Barrett had made since the second start of his college career.

That argument, however, has now gone out the window for Ohio State with the news of Barrett's season-ending injury. The fact of the matter is that the committee simply won't have a complete resume—good or bad—when it picks its final four one week from Sunday.

In this unprecedented playoff era, there's no telling exactly what that will mean for Ohio State. But ultimately, the Buckeyes will first have to win in Indianapolis next weekend—with their third-string quarterback—in order to keep the conversation a relevant one in Columbus.

"I didn't think of it until you said it," Meyer said when asked about OSU's playoff hopes following its win over the Wolverines. "I think it's all going to be how we play next week."

That might be wishful thinking on Meyer's part, but the Buckeyes would obviously benefit from a strong performance from new starting quarterback Cardale Jones in their upcoming conference championship game.

After all, while Barrett's gotten most of the credit, a plethora of playmakers have emerged for Ohio State this season, as the Buckeyes haven't been nearly as quarterback-reliant as they have been in years past.

That starts with running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has rushed for 1,182 yards through the first 12 games of his sophomore season. The Buckeyes pass-catchers have also been noticeably improved, with 10 players totaling double-digit reception numbers in an offense that entered Saturday's game ranked fifth in the nation in points per game (44.1).

"We're still headed in the right direction. I don't think one player really makes a whole team," Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman said. "Offensively, we have a lot of talented guys that have played a lot of football this year. They're just going to have to step up and make up for the lost ground."

Of course, the playoff committee is going to have to decide whether the production of those players was more the result of their own individual skill, or the precision passing of Barrett. And while he has been aided by his offense, there's no denying the importance of a player who in just 11 games managed to break the Buckeyes' single-season records for total yardage and touchdowns.

But although Barrett was putting up numbers that would have likely landed him in New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist in two weeks, Ohio State could—or will at least try to—make the case that he is mostly a product of Meyer's spread system.

While Braxton Miller managed to put up record-shattering numbers in his two seasons under Meyer, former backup Kenny Guiton also posted eye-popping statistics in his opportunities, despite having admittedly less talent than the player for whom he was the understudy for.

Enter Barrett, Meyer's third quarterback in Columbus and the third to put up nationally noticeable numbers. That can't completely be a coincidence at a storied school like Ohio State, although there's a reason why the redshirt freshman Barrett was able to pass the sophomore Jones on the Buckeyes depth chart this past offseason.

And even if Jones proves capable of running the OSU offense as efficiently as Barrett did, he won't have more than a one-game sample size to do so in front of the committee. Even with a potential conference championship and just one loss on their resume, that likely won't be enough for the committee to consider the Barrett-less Buckeyes one of the four best teams in America, which is its primary criteria.

After all, how can a team still be good when it's already on its third-string quarterback?

"The Buckeyes can be," Meyer insisted. "The Buckeyes certainly can be good. I've said this many times, the quarterback is a product of the guys around him and the guys around him are playing pretty good right now. The good thing is [Barrett and Jones] have a similar skill set, and so it's not like we're going to have to drastically change things."

Maybe not. But Barrett's injury does drastically change things. And fair or not, it will likely be the final blow in Ohio State's once-promising playoff campaign.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Should Dabo Swinney Have Allowed Deshaun Watson to Play with Torn ACL?

The Clemson Tigers (9-3) picked up a huge 35-17 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6) Saturday to round out the regular season. But the big story coming out of this game was Deshaun Watson's torn ACL and head coach Dabo Swinney's decision to keep the quarterback in the game. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee debate Swinney's decision to keep Watson in the contest.

Was this the right decision?

Check out the video and let us know! 

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Jalen Hurd Injury: Updates on Tennessee RB's Upper Body and Return

The University of Tennessee Volunteers will be without Jalen Hurd as they close out the 2014 regular season.

Vols head coach Butch Jones confirmed to Heather Mitts on the SEC Network that the freshman running back had an upper body injury and won't return against the Vanderbilt University Commodores:

Before exiting, Hurd rushed for 21 yards on five carries. He entered Saturday as the team's leading rusher, with 169 carries for 756 yards and three touchdowns.

Wes Rucker of GoVols247.com rued how much injuries are hindering Tennessee's offense:

The Volunteers need to beat Vandy in order to become bowl eligible. In the event they do travel to a postseason bowl, they could still be short-handed if Hurd's injury proves to be more serious.

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Bayou Classic 2014: Score and Twitter Reaction to Grambling vs. Southern

 Southern (9-3) scored its third consecutive Bayou Classic victory over Grambling State (7-5) with a wild 52-45 triumph on Saturday. The game featured nearly 1,000 yards of total offense.

The rivalry is one of the most hotly contested in the country highlighted by the Battle of the Bands that takes place at halftime of the annual clash. This year's game took on an even greater meaning with the winner earning a spot in the SWAC Championship Game as winners of the West Division.

Here's a look at how the latest battle played out from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans:

Despite the importance of the game, Southern head coach Dawson Odums tried to take some pressure off of his players by treating it as a normal week. He explained his philosophy to Chris Hagan of WAFB.

"[It's] business as usual," Odums said. "We don't get too tight. Our guys are going to be relaxed. We're going to have fun. This is what it's supposed to be."

The Jaguars seemed to heed that advice. They came out as the far more effect team on both side of the ball in the first quarter.

They proceeded to open the scoring about midway through the opening period. The drive went nine plays for 80 yards in under four minutes. It concluded with a terrific touch pass from Austin Howard to the dynamic Willie Quinn from 13 yards out for the touchdown.

HBCU Gameday provided a Vine of the score:

After a stop, Southern stretched the lead to 14 a couple minutes later. This time it was Howard finding Mike Jones for a 45-yard touchdown connection.

Grambling State finally came to life in the second quarter. It rattled off 10 points in just over a minute to get back in the game.

Cedric Skinner found the end zone from two yards out. Then the Tigers recovered a fumble deep in opposing territory on the ensuing kickoff. Although they couldn't turn it into another TD, Marc Orozco was true on a 39-yard field goal to make it 14-10.

Trenise Ferreira of the Pac-12 Networks noted the quick turnaround:

The Grambling defense failed to contain the big plays, though. On three straight drives Southern was able to push the ball downfield far too easily.

In turn, the Jaguars went on a 17-0 spurt of their own to open the lead back up. Lenard Tillery found pay dirt from a couple yards out, Greg Pittman made a short field goal and then Jones caught his second long touchdown of the half to complete the surge.

Box To Row Media pointed out the strong play of Howard for the Jags:

Grambling did respond right before halftime. Johnathan Williams led an efficient drive that seen him complete six of seven passes as the Tigers went 75 yards in 1:11 to get back within 14. Verlon Hunter made the TD grab with eight seconds left in the half.

GSU Sports Info passed along the halftime leaders:

A scoring spree opened the second half.

Southern struck first with a 52-yard run by Tillery. Once he got through the first wave of defenders he was off to the races. It was another example of the Grambling defense being unable to contain those game-changing plays.

The Tigers struck right back. On the ensuing kickoff, Ka'Jandre Domino showed some nice acceleration as he got to the corner and then seemed to find another gear. He was on cruise control from there for the 99-yard return touchdown.

The Gramblinite noted the special teams contribution:

It would have been a perfect time for the Grambling defense to get a stop to help turn the tide. That didn't happen. Southern drove right back down again with Howard and Jones linking up again, this time on a 30-yard play to get into the red zone.

Deonte Shorts eventually powered in from four yards out. Less than five minutes were gone from the third quarter and 21 more points were already on the scoreboard. The Southern Digest recapped the score after the dust settled:

The Tigers cut the lead back to 14 before the end of the third on a pass from Williams to Brandon Byrdsong. Every scoring drive in the quarter went at least 72 yards and none of them last longer than three minutes.

Grambling finally got a string of defensive stops. It paid off as a Nicholas Peoples interception set the Tigers up deep in Jaguars territory. Three plays later the tandem of Williams and Hunter hooked up for the second time to get them back within seven.

What happened next perhaps should have been expected. Another big play for Southern as Jaleel Richardson took the kickoff 79 yards the other way to immediately erase the progress made by Grambling.

That score allowed the game to set a new mark in the rivalry, as pointed out by Chris Lewis of Bronco Sports:

The Tigers responded in kind. A mere 20 seconds later a busted coverage by Southern allowed Chester Rogers to break free for one of the easiest 76-yard touchdowns you'll ever see.

Grambling did a quick onside kick despite there being plenty of time remaining and it worked. It failed to capitalize on the ensuring possession, though.

Southern drove down with a chance to put the game on ice. Alas, the field goal try was blocked giving Grambling another opportunity.

The Tigers drove all the way down to the one-yard line and went for the quarterback sneak on the final play. Southern stood tall to secure the victory. The SWAC noted the result:

Grambling finishes the regular season at 7-5, including a 7-2 mark in conference play. Although the Tigers weren't able to secure the division crown with a win on Saturday, it still marked a major bounce-back campaign after going 1-10 in 2013.

As for Southern, it heads to the SWAC Championship Game to face off with Alcorn State. The Jaguars will be looking for their second straight conference title after edging Jackson State last year. They will need to step up on the defensive side to make that happen.

 

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Karlos Williams Injury: Updates on FSU Star's Concussion and Return

Florida State leading rusher Karlos Williams was forced from Saturday's game against the Florida Gators after suffering a concussion. 

Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com has the news:

With Devonta Freeman off to the NFL, the former safety has stepped into the featured role in the Seminoles backfield. After averaging a ridiculous 8.0 yards per carry during Florida State's national championship season, he has continued to rip off big runs while also serving as a legitimate threat in the passing game. 

"He's 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, runs a 10.5 100-meters–can catch, can run, is very natural with the ball in his hand," said head coach Jimbo Fisher, via Fox Sports' Michael Jay Welch. "He can change numbers on a scoreboard."

He's an electrifying talent, and his presence on the field will be sorely missed. The fortunate news, though, is that if he is forced to miss a significant amount of time, the Seminoles have depth at the position, even with sophomore Ryan Green still recovering from his shoulder injury. 

Sophomore Mario Pender and true freshman Dalvin Cook certainly represent the future in Tallahassee, but they've both already proved they can play at this level right now. And like Williams, they each possess world-class speed that can change a game in an instant. 

The Tallahassee Democrat's Corey Clark touched on that after Cook impressed in his collegiate debut against the Citadel:

Neither player has a ton of experience, so Fisher may choose to lean a little more on quarterback Jameis Winston and the passing game, but either way, this offense has enough weapons all over the field to remain efficient if Williams' injury is serious. 

Still, the senior brings an extra dynamic. Fisher and his staff will be hoping he won't be out long. 

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Examining Devin Gardner's Legacy After Michigan's Loss to Ohio State

Devin Gardner’s—and Michigan’s—42-28 loss to Ohio State was the finale of what can only be described as an incredibly inconsistent run for a guy who had the talent but couldn’t put it together when it mattered most.

His tenure at Michigan is difficult, yet easy in some ways, to analyze. Simply put, his impact was felt just about everywhere within the university’s community—everywhere but on the football field.

A champion volunteer and local hero, Gardner could be often found at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, brightening the day of someone far less fortunate than he.

A friend and companion, the Wolverines' fifth-year senior quarterback spent hours reading to, playing with and being someone for kids who faced situations much bigger than anything he encountered on Saturday.

But it’s all over for No. 98. At least when it comes to football in Ann Arbor. 

Gardner will be remembered for losing games, throwing interceptions, getting sacked and buckling under pressure, but he’ll also be remembered for his sportsmanship, leadership and demeanor.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

There is no right or wrong way to view Gardner, who, for better or worse, played through several injuries and against mountains of adversity for nearly two straight seasons.

His legacy is full of gray area.

 

On the Field

Gardner didn’t beat Michigan State or Ohio State. He went 1-1 versus Notre Dame. This season, he threw for 106 yards and lost, 23-16, to Maryland on senior day. He also threw for 109 yards during a 10-9 road win over Northwestern.

But in 2013, Gardner set a program record with 503 passing yards during a 63-47 victory over Indiana. And despite a 42-41 loss to the Buckeyes, he strung together a memorable 451-yard performance that was oh-so close to something really special during the 2013 finale.

And he did it on a broken foot. 

He’s looked great, and he’s looked painfully mediocre.

If that’s not enough to drive someone crazy, then what is? Inconsistent doesn’t begin to describe Gardner, a 6’4”, 220-pounder with crazy amounts of athleticism but minimal amounts of execution.

However, he’s had some of his best moments in defeat, making it all the more difficult to knock what Gardner’s done between the lines for coach Brady Hoke.

Case in point: During “The Game,” Buckeyes star quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with an ankle injury.

In hindsight, that was a moment that Michigan knew it had to seize—doing so would turn the tides, and it did for a few minutes. However, before planning on how to pounce on a wounded team, Gardner took the time to speak with Barrett, who was on his back, writhing in pain.

“I’ve talked to him a little bit through the season, and you hate to see a player, especially a guy like him—a great guy, a high character guy, a hard worker [get injured],” Gardner said. “He’s been called upon and he didn’t know he was going to get a shot, and he’s executed and done it humbly. It’s like having a little brother out there get hurt.”

He referred to the other team’s star quarterback as a “brother.” Not a “foe.” Not an “adversary.” A “brother”—again displaying a level of class and sportsmanship that makes it difficult to knock him, even if he’s throwing interceptions at a nationally relevant rate. His 14 picks entering play on Saturday ranked No. 8 among FBS quarterbacks.

 

Off the Field

It took Gardner just three years to obtain a degree in Afro-American studies from one of the most prestigious institutions in the country. He could have stopped there, as a four-year piece of paper from Michigan is quite valuable—but he chose to get a Master’s in social work.

And considering his selfless nature, that’d be a perfect fit. It's not hard to imagine him devising a game plan for someone in need of a helping hand. 

College football is in the rear-view mirror, and at the end of the day, it’s just football—it’s 11 guys lining up for one common goal, and that’s to win. For some guys, that’s all they have. For others, those like Gardner, it’s a mere stepping stone for something bigger.

He may or may not play beyond Michigan. But he doesn't have to—he's already on his way to success in life. Looking back at his senior year, Gardner leaves knowing that he did what he could on the field. But he also leaves knowing that he did what he had to—what his heart told him to do—away from it.

“Everybody faces this point in their lives,” he said. “You do everything you’re supposed to do, you work hard, and what do you do once it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would?

You just continue to do the things you do: work hard and be a good guy, and these guys, I’m pretty sure they share the same sentiment. They’re going to continue to work hard and do the things they need to do.”

 

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

Quotes were obtained via Ohio State press release sent to the writer.

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Top NFL Draft Prospect Shawn Oakman Knees Opponent in Face After Big Hit

Boys and girls, don't do this.

Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman leveled Texas Tech freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes with a monster sack on Saturday, but it was what came afterward that got people talking.

Instead of walking away and celebrating with his teammates, the former Penn State Nittany Lion pushed his knee into the quarterback's face. This was especially nasty because Mahomes' helmet had come up and his face was partially exposed.

Here's another look at the hit:

He was not flagged for the knee.

Listed at 6'9" and 276 pounds, Oakman is seen as a potential first- or second-round selection in the upcoming NFL draft. Considering this is one of the final games of his collegiate career, he picked a bad time to give scouts something negative to talk about.

[Vine]

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Devin Chafin Injury: Updates on Baylor Star's Elbow and Return

Baylor University's potent offense took a hit against Texas Tech University, as star running back Devin Chafin was taken out in the first quarter with an elbow injury. 

According to John Werner of the Waco Tribune-Herald, Chafin dislocated his elbow and won't return to the field: 

David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest provided an update after the game:

Chafin entered Saturday's game third on the team with 76 carries and 368 rushing yards. His eight rushing touchdowns are second behind Shock Linwood's 13. The Bears have good depth at running back, but Chafin was a powerful runner who gave defenses a different look.

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

Urban Meyer and No. 6 Ohio State notched a big 42-28 victory over Michigan Saturday afternoon, but they suffered a huge loss when star quarterback J.T. Barrett suffered a serious ankle injury early in the fourth quarter. 

At that point, the Buckeyes (11-1) were clinging to a 28-21 lead, trying desperately to hold off the upset-minded Wolverines (5-7). Ohio State surged after its quarterback went down, getting big plays in the run game and from its defense to secure the 14-point victory.

How did the Wolverines and the Buckeyes grade out from the latest chapter in one of college football's greatest rivalries? 

 

Michigan Wolverines Grade Analysis

Pass Offense

It looked like Michigan’s pass offense was in for a rough day when the first four plays resulted in an interception, a four-yard loss and two sacks. But Devin Gardner bounced back, finishing the half with 129 yards and a touchdown through the air. His top target was Devin Funchess, who hauled in five receptions for 78 yards through two quarters.

The Wolverines didn't have as much success through the air in the second half. Gardner finished with just 233 passing yards and two touchdowns—and the offensive line that protected him so well in the first half ended up surrendering five total sacks. 

 

Run Offense

Michigan's run offense was fueled by Drake Johnson, who found lanes and pushed piles impressively in the first half. The Wolverines had 74 rushing yards at halftime, which was a big reason the game was tied at 14. 

But Johnson went down with a leg injury on a third-quarter touchdown run, and the running game wasn't the same without him. He finished with 74 yards and two touchdowns, but no other Wolverines ball-carrier finished with more than 21 yards. 

 

Pass Defense

The Wolverines' strength defensively is against the run, but it didn't look that way against the Buckeyes. Barrett had a hard time finding a groove early and missed on seven of his final 11 attempts in the first half. That changed in the third quarter, though, as Ohio State connected on big passes to Devin Smith (52 yards), Nick Vannett (22 yards) and Jeff Heuerman (13 yards) to trigger the Buckeyes offense. 

 

Run Defense

Michigan came into the game with the nation's No. 10 rushing defense, allowing an average of 107.2 yards per game. But the Buckeyes gashed the Wolverines—particularly in the second half—as they piled up 233 yards on the ground. The play of the game came late in the fourth quarter on a 4th-and-1 near midfield. Meyer opted to go for it, and Ezekiel Elliott broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run that sealed the victory for Ohio State.

 

Special Teams

As big underdogs, the Wolverines could have used a big play (or several big plays) on special teams. Those never came, though, as Dennis Norfleet averaged just 19.8 yards per kickoff return and failed to get loose for a single punt return. Michigan didn't attempt a single field goal, and Will Hagerup had a modest day punting the ball, averaging 41.2 yards on four attempts. 

 

Coaching

Despite Brady Hoke's shortcomings as Michigan's head coach, he always had his team ready to go when it faced Ohio State. The Wolverines entered the game as 21-point underdogs, but they didn't play like it in the first half as they battled the Buckeyes to a 14-14 halftime draw. But the second half revealed Michigan's flaws as it was outmanned and outgunned by Meyer and Ohio State. 

 

Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense

Barrett got off to a solid start, completing his first three passes with a touchdown on Ohio State’s first drive. That’s when Michigan turned up the pressure, and he finished the half completing just seven of 14 passes for 65 yards.

Barrett got going in the third quarter, completing four of five passes for 97 yards. He finished with 176 passing yards and a touchdown before going down early in the fourth quarter, and in his absence, Cardale Jones added just seven yards through the air to close out the game. The Buckeyes spread it around again, as nine different pass-catchers recorded a reception, but no player had more than 52 receiving yards. 

 

Run Offense

Fortunately for Meyer, the Buckeyes were able to move the ball on the ground. Elliott led the way with 121 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries. Barrett also came up big for the Buckeyes, running for a 25-yard touchdown run in the waning moments of the second quarter to tie the game at 14. He finished the day with 89 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, contributing to the Buckeyes' 5.9 yards per carry. 

 

Pass Defense

Gardner came into this game with 14 interceptions, but even more incredibly, he hadn't thrown a touchdown pass on the road all year. The Buckeyes looked to be in good shape when Vonn Bell picked him off on Michigan's first drive, but the Wolverines came right back with touchdown drives of 80 and 95 yards to secure a 14-7 first-half lead.

But Gardner and the Wolverines had a hard time maintaining that success in the second half. They got creative with a trick play to set up a third-quarter touchdown, but outside of that, Michigan had a much harder time moving the ball through the air. 

 

Run Defense

Ohio State's run defense had been gashed in recent weeks as a trio of the Big Ten's best running backs—Jeremy Langford, David Cobb and Tevin Coleman—combined for 510 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Johnson was well on his way to posting big numbers against Ohio State before a knee injury sidelined him. He still managed to finish with 74 yards and two touchdowns, most of which came in the first half. Outside of him, the Buckeyes bottled up Michigan's ground attack, as it averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.

 

Special Teams

Much like Michigan, Ohio State failed to break a big play on special teams. A solid punt return from Jalin Marshall was negated by a holding penalty in the first quarter—but even with the flag, it was the biggest special teams play of the day. Cameron Johnston had another solid day, averaging 49 yards on four punts, but it was an otherwise forgettable outing for the Buckeyes. 

 

Coaching

Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman were conservative in the first half, and Michigan used that to build a seven-point lead. The Buckeyes finally got Barrett involved in the running game during the final drive of the first half, which triggered Ohio State's rally. The Buckeyes had no problem moving the ball from that point on, but the coaching staff's tentativeness kept things unnecessarily close early. 

 

All stats via NCAA.com.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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JT Barrett's Ankle Injury Puts Ohio State's Playoff Chances in Serious Jeopardy

Ohio State's College Football Playoff hopes now rest firmly on the shoulders of a sophomore quarterback with 19 career pass attempts to his name and whose role this season has pretty been that of human victory cigar and nothing more.

Cardale Jones entered the Buckeyes' fierce Big Ten rivalry game against the Michigan Wolverines in the fourth quarter after starter J.T. Barrett suffered a gruesome leg injury, per ESPN College Football:

The Big Lead's Michael Shamburger provided a look at the play, which saw Barrett's leg get caught under a defender and bend at a seemingly unnatural angle:

The injury will prematurely end Barrett's phenomenal season, per MLive.com's Brendan F. Quinn:

Jones came into the game with his team up, 28-21, and calmly commandeered his side for two drives—not including the perfunctory kneel downs to end the game—en route to a crucial 42-28 victory.

With a place in the Big Ten title game already guaranteed, Jones will likely have to lead the Buckeyes to a convincing win if they are to have any shot at making the inaugural College Football Playoff. This is a tall task for Jones, as following up Barrett is no easy feat.

Ohio State came into the Michigan game ranked sixth in the CFP rankings. Even with Barrett, the Buckeyes would have needed a strong finish to the season and perhaps a couple of upsets in other conferences. With Jones starting, the situation could be dire.

NBC 4's Matt Barnes believes the committee will be watching him closely:

Thanks to a big 44-yard scoring run from Ezekiel Elliot and an aggressive Buckeyes defense, Jones didn't have much to do on Saturday to wrap things up. He finished the game with two completions for seven yards and two carries for 18 yards. It was encouraging to say the least, but cooking up a win from scratch in a conference championship is another entity entirely.

As long as Florida State, Alabama and Oregon avoid choking during rivalry week and win their conference championships, the Buckeyes will be vying for a fourth and final playoff spot with the likes of TCU, Baylor and Mississippi State.

Heading into Saturday's slate, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver gave the Buckeyes a 42.2 percent chance of making the playoff, with TCU likely the biggest impediment due to their wildly successful offense.

However, an unheralded player like Jones stepping into a team's biggest game of the season would arguably be a more impressive achievement than anything TCU (or Baylor) can accomplish at this point, considering the Big 12 does not have a conference championship.

Barrett's story was already quite remarkable, as he wasn't named the starter until just a couple of weeks before the season began as it became clear Braxton Miller would be unable to play with his shoulder injury. Jones stepping in and stepping up is just an extension of Ohio State's wild ride.

ESPN 850's Bruce Hooley does see Jones having success in coach Urban Meyer's system:

Jones' best showing came in a 55-14 win over Illinois, when he completed five of nine passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 18 yards on the ground. Jones was in the game because Barrett was nursing a mild MCL sprain, per Cleveland.com's Bill Landis.

It wasn't a perfect performance by any means, but quarterbacks coach Tom Herman had a positive assessment of the untested signal-caller after the game.

"I don't know if I've learned anything earth-shattering, other than the confidence we have in him, that he instilled in us in practice, that's pretty real, save for the first few kind of jittery plays," he said, via Landis.

He also put up 69 total yards in short order against a lowly Kent State squad this season. It's not bad, but it's nothing like what Barrett has done this season for Ohio State.

His six touchdown passes against Kent State were marvelous, as were his four total touchdowns and 191 rushing yards against Minnesota on Nov. 15. That game elicited Heisman mentions from Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman:

The Buckeyes are slated to play the winner of the Minnesota-Wisconsin matchup. Both teams are currently ranked in the Top 25, so a strong performance from Jones would prove that Ohio State is indeed one of the more well-rounded teams in the country and wasn't relying solely on the magical exploits of Barrett. 

As College Football Talk's Kevin McGuire noted on Nov. 24, the Buckeyes have done plenty as a program to merit consideration:

Ohio State has won two games on the road against teams the College Football Playoff committee has ranked in their most recent playoff rankings, Michigan State and Minnesota. The Buckeyes are third best in the country in third-down conversions. Ohio State has a higher red zone touchdown percentage than any other team in the playoff discussion today. Only Alabama is ranked ahead of Ohio State in total defense among playoff contenders as well.

Even if Jones leads the Buckeyes to a big win, there is still no guarantee they make the playoff. The playoff committee will be splitting hairs no matter what, and they could be swayed by the SEC West's pedigree or the offensive success of Baylor and TCU.

There can be no drop-off for Ohio State, who have done well to put an embarrassing Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech well behind them. 

No matter how well or how poorly Jones plays this season, don't expect him to be in the running for a starting role next year. Barrett should have the inside edge on that assuming his injury isn't completely devastating, while Miller should be highly motivated to reclaim his starting role.

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Florida's Gerald Willis Sent to Locker Room for Cheap Shot on Jameis Winston

Florida's Gerald Willis was sent to the team's locker room during the Gators' rivalry game vs. Florida State after a blatant cheap shot on Jameis Winston, who had scrambled out of bounds to Florida's sideline.

The chain gang guy's face next to him says it all. 

[gifdsports, Vine]

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Georgia Football: Don't Blame Mark Richt for Loss to Georgia Tech

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt won't shun responsibility for his team's disappointing loss at home to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, but he should not be blamed for the setback.

According to Seth Emerson of The Telegraph, Richt confessed that his decision to kick a squib with just a few seconds remaining in the fourth quarter was a mistake.

But that kick didn't cost the Dawgs the game any more than the ensuing play, a 21-yard scramble by Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas, which set up a game-tying field goal from 53 yards out.

In some regards, that sequence of events was a microcosm of the game itself and the disconnect between what Rich should and should not be blamed for.

In hindsight, perhaps Richt should have kicked the ball into the end zone.  That's easy to see now.  But even in real time, Georgia's defense should have been prepared for Thomas, Georgia Tech's leading rusher by a long shot, to scramble on the next play.  After all, his big-play receiver was already out of the game.  

But the Bulldogs defense did not execute in that situation, which was a theme of the second half, and Thomas ran untouched up the middle of the field and jogged to the sideline for a long first down as Georgia defenders gasped for breath.

That's how things went for Georgia on Saturday, and while credit is certainly due to Georgia Tech for putting the Bulldogs in precarious positions time and time again, it was a lack of execution by players on the field that ultimately cost the Dawgs.

Richt's squib kick call will be questioned for months, but truth be told, it wasn't even the ugliest squib kick of the game for the Bulldogs.  A few moments prior to that, Georgia Tech kicked a short ball that fullback Quayvon Hicks watched without reacting to, and the Yellow Jackets recovered.  Hicks struggled fielding kicks against Kentucky a few weeks ago, but his lack of instinct in this instance was still stunning.

Freshman running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel showed brilliance at times, but both fumbled the football while approaching the goal line on critical first-half runs.  To blame Richt for those two mishaps is to assume that he and his staff have never told the talented halfbacks to protect the football.  Such a presumption is nothing short of ignorant.

Defensively, Georgia Tech wore out a Bulldogs defense that had proved to be susceptible against the run at times this season.  And yet it merits clarification that Georgia Tech's variation of the triple-option is a wrinkle that the Dawgs see just once per year.  So while the end-of-game rushing totals of the Yellow Jackets may seem reminiscent of the gashing the Florida Gators handed out to Jeremy Pruitt's defense, the yards were gained in a very different way.

Whether those defensive shortcomings were a reflection of poor coaching or poor discipline is debatable.  But the level of execution declined steadily for the Bulldog defense as the unit wore down physically after spending nearly two-thirds of the second half on the field.  That trend was in direct conflict with the late-game reputation Pruitt's defense had developed.  Accordingly, blaming Richt for the defense's inability to get off the field is a bit of a reach.

Even the final dagger, a Hutson Mason interception in overtime, seems more indicative of a miscue by a player than a shortcoming by the head coach.  At best, Mason's short throw was ill-advised, which is to say a coach would have advised against it.  Mason zeroed in on his target immediately and telegraphed a pass into double coverage.  As a result, Georgia Tech was able to make a play.

The loss to Georgia Tech is frustrating to fans, and in some regards, that frustration is understandable.  But this was never Georgia's year.  The ugly loss to South Carolina after a weather delay, atrocious officiating and missed chip-shot field goals should have told the Bulldog faithful as much.  The suspension of Todd Gurley and the injury that followed weren't positive omens for Georgia's 2014 campaign, either.  

In light of those events and the disappointing way in which Georgia missed out on the SEC Championship Game, the frustration of Bulldog loyalists is now amplified.  And as seasons wind down, fans have a tendency to seek resolution and closure.  The easy answer is to blame a coach, and the most satisfying answer is to extrapolate those feelings and to conjure up thematic problems.

But for Georgia fans, the easy answer is not the right one in this instance.  Mark Richt probably made some mistakes Saturday.  He probably makes some every week.  But when he says (as tweeted by Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald) that this particular loss is as upsetting as any in his career, that's not necessarily a self-indictment.

It was a collective effort that resulted in a Georgia loss Saturday.  But given the bevy of uncharacteristic shortcomings—a blocked field-goal attempt, 14 points left off the scoreboard due to fumbles, a defense that got worse as the game went on, a quarterback's first interception in 162 attempts, an unfielded squib kick—it's hard to blame Richt for the total sum of Georgia's broken parts.

And if history is any indicator, Richt, the most tenured coach in the Southeastern Conference, will be the man making repairs leading up to the bowl game and through the offseason.

Don't place your frustrations on Mark Richt.  Instead, express some confidence in his ability to further refine this team.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained first hand and all stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

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