NCAA Football News

Belk Bowl 2014: Live Score, Highlights for Georgia vs. Louisville

The Georgia Bulldogs and the Louisville Cardinals are getting ready to do battle in the Belk Bowl, which is being played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The game will kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET, and it will air on ESPN.

Georgia comes into the game with a 9-3 record and was just one game shy of reaching the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs will look to finish the season strong with a strong running game led by Nick Chubb and a defense anchored by Amarlo Herrera that was fifth in the SEC in total yards per game.

Louisville also has a 9-3 record and was only a few plays away from being 10-1. The Cardinals come into the game with a very strong defense (second in the ACC) led by Gerod Holliman and Lorenzo Mauldin.  

Be sure to come back to this blog as soon as the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates, highlights and analysis.

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Texas Football: Fixing Inept Offense Must Be Longhorns' Top Offseason Priority

HOUSTON, Texas—The Longhorns had the chance to end Charlie Strong's first year as the Texas head coach on a high note but fell short in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Advocare Texas Bowl.

Texas somewhat had home field advantage with an in-state bowl game but played as if the team was in a different country with everyone rooting against them.

"It’s been a season that’s been up and down. You go out here tonight and you play against a good Arkansas team. You would have thought that we would have come out and just been better prepared," Strong said following the loss. "It falls on the head coach and the coaches, but at some point too, we’ve got to develop and we’ve got to get the pride back in this program."

The blame of this loss can be spread out to various positions, but the majority of it is on the offense.

Texas was held to 25 total offensive yards until the final offensive drive in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Longhorns had given up 29 penalty yards leading into the last drive. And that is not a typo.

"We didn’t execute on offense," said Strong. "What happens if you’re watching so much, when we have one bad play it leads to another bad play. It’s like we can’t retain our focus. We can’t get back on track. Nobody’s making a play. We’re not blocking anybody. We’re not running the ball. We’re not protecting the quarterback. There are no playmakers.”

Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is going to receive a lot of the blame for the loss and rightfully so. The sophomore looked like a fish out of water most of the game and struggled to lead his offense.

The unit's performance is without doubt the reason Texas has ended its season with a losing record.

There are a number of instances that led to the offensive struggles in year one of Strong's career in Austin. Texas suffered injuries to its starting quarterback and center in Week 1 of the season and had an offensive line with limited experience, which led to the Longhorns run game being non-existent in various games this season.

The most important thing for the coaches to do is find a way to formulate an effective offense if the Longhorns are planning on winning games in 2015.

But putting together an effective offense may require having a new quarterback under center.

This may come off as harsh but there's no reason for anyone to believe Swoopes should be the automatic starter in 2015.

Can he change that statement during the offseason? Absolutely, but he will need to make significant progress in order to prove the starting role should be his.

Nobody expected Texas to be good in year one of the Strong era. And if any Texas fans expected the Longhorns to be in contention for the College Football Playoff then they had their expectations set way too high.

It will take time for a coach to turn around a program and it will take special players to help make it happen. Strong and his staff need to get their guys at Texas, most importantly, offensive players who can put up more than 59 total yards against a 6-6 opponent.

Can it be done? Sure, but the jobs of the offensive assistant coaches could be on the line if significant steps are not made in 2015.

"Texas has got to mean something," Strong said. "Right now, it doesn’t mean much. We have to play with passion. We got to play with energy. You have to have an edge to you. We don’t have that right now."

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Texas Bowl 2014: Game Grades, Analysis for Arkansas vs. Texas

Arkansas pounded, punished and flat-out ran over the Texas Longhorns en route to a dominant 31-7 victory in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl.

Aside from a couple mental lapses, one could argue that Bret Bielema's team played a perfect game against the Horns. Quarterback Brandon Allen was sharp, the running backs did their thing, and the defense smothered the opposition at every level of the field.

As for Charlie Strong's team, well, the hope is that better days are coming.

 

Game Grades for the Razorbacks

Passing Offense

Allen completed only one of his last seven passes, and it didn't matter. The junior hit 11 of his first 16 for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Most of all, he made Texas think twice about completely selling out for the run, putting points up while the backs wore down the Longhorns front.

 

Rushing Offense

Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins took their sweet time in slowly dismantling Texas' front seven then took over in the second half. In all, these two finished with 181 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries. Even if it was a little less than what we're used to, they were as good as advertised.

 

Passing Defense

Texas' offensive line just had no chance. Trey Flowers, Darius Philon and Martrell Spaight lived in the backfield, getting into quarterback Tyrone Swoopes' head early. You can't complain about 57 passing yards.

 

Rushing Defense

The Razorbacks gave up two rushing yards. That's all you need to know.

 

Special Teams

This unit was the only reason Texas even stayed somewhat in the game, giving up a big return to set up Texas' only score of the night. Kicker Adam McFain was shaky in everything he was asked to do while punter Sam Irwin-Hill consistently pinned Texas in its own territory.

 

Coaching

Bielema and his staff pitched a perfect game, unleashing their vicious defense and trusting Allen to take the Longhorns defense off-balance. Bielema was even classy enough not to punch in one last touchdown with three minutes to play.

 

Game Grades for the Longhorns

Passing Offense

Swoopes has started his last game as Texas' quarterback. He had to play well after coughing it up five times against TCU. He instead mustered only 57 passing yards and committed two more turnovers.

You feel for Swoopes because his blockers worked more like a runway for the Arkansas front seven. But one or two big plays were there, and he missed them badly. Between the body language and lack of overall improvement, it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen anymore.

 

Rushing Offense

Two rushing yards. That's all Texas could muster, mostly because Swoopes lost 32 yards trying to avoid sacks. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray weren't much better, but few ball-carriers can make up for bad blocking against a stacked box.

 

Passing Defense

Allen completed 11 passes in the first half, and they were all too easy. The pass rush made him work early then wore down as the offense regressed in the second half. 

Specifically, cornerback Duke Thomas played a mostly awful game. He was burned on Allen's 36-yard touchdown and repeatedly lost his man in coverage. Without a stud recruit currently in the 2015 class, he might be Texas' top corner next season.

 

Rushing Defense

You have to feel sorry for Malcom Brown and Hassan Ridgeway, who battled the whole game and got pounded because of it. There was just nothing these guys could do, as the offense literally moved backwards in the second half.

 

Special Teams

For once, it was the special teams keeping the Horns in a game. Jacorey Warrick's 30-yard kick return took Arkansas completely by surprise, setting up the Horns' only score of the game. Michael Davidson averaged over 40 yards per punt despite punting from under his own goal post for most of the night.

 

Coaching

There's not much you can do when your offensive line can't block and your quarterback can't hit open receivers. The defense will inevitably get tired, taking your team to a point where it will do nothing particularly well.

Still, you can't afford to play this poorly after a month of free practice. This is a team lacking depth and pure talent, but Strong and his staff have to figure out how to prevent performances like this from ever taking place again under their watch.

They have an excuse now. It'll have run its course in nine months, though.

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Bowl Win Caps Turnaround Season, but Arkansas Still Can't Hang with SEC's Elite

Enjoy this one, Arkansas fans. In fact, treat the dominant Texas Bowl victory for what it is, the crowning achievement of a season that shows Bret Bielema was the right choice to turn around the Razorbacks program.

But despite what you hear during the offseason, remember this: There's still a long way to go before Arkansas is a legitimate contender in the SEC West.

By winning, 31-7, on Monday against Texas, Arkansas finished with a winning record for the first time since 2011. It helps provide momentum on the recruiting trail and gives the many integral players returning in 2015 a huge confidence boost in facing what lies ahead. NFL.com's Bryan Fischer thinks watching the game film from this win will also be a boost for the Arkansas coaches:

Just don't be fooled into thinking that the Hogs will be competing for a division title or anything so glamorous—at least not yet.

That defense that the Hogs unleashed on a helpless Texas team has been rising up since mid-October, when a blocked extra point (and not enough offensive punch) kept the team from upsetting Alabama. Since then, it has enabled the Razorbacks to end a long SEC losing streak by thoroughly dominating LSU and Ole Miss with back-to-back shutouts, earning the necessary conference wins to get into a bowl game.

It's a foundation that Arkansas can build on, but defense alone isn't going to get it done against the talent that resides in the SEC. The Razorbacks will need to become as good—if not better—on offense than what they've shown they can do defensively, and that's going to mean not being one-dimensional.

There's been a noticeable push in that direction as the season wore on, with quarterback Brandon Allen becoming a more integral part of the game plan, while dual 1,000-yard rushers Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams saw their touches remain relatively constant. Nearly every relevant offensive player should be back in 2015, so the expectation of further improvement isn't outlandish.

Yet Arkansas still seems at least a year away, especially when you look at the schedule it faces next season, particularly the conference portion.

Road games against Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee will make for tough sledding at every stop, not to mention another matchup with Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas. Having two-time East Division champ Missouri as its permanent crossover rival doesn't help, either.

The Razorbacks can actually look to those ahead of them in the West standings for examples of what can potentially happen in the near future, depending on how they progress. Mississippi State and Ole Miss both finished below .500 in division play last season, with the former needing to beat the latter just to make a bowl. Each won its bowl game and headed into this fall with momentum and increased hope.

Both got off to great starts, yet each eventually ran into a wall when its main deficiency was exposed.

Mississippi State had an exciting quarterback in Dak Prescott, a Heisman contender for much of the year, but when he began to struggle, the lack of a consistent defense became the Bulldogs' downfall; Ole Miss had the defense, which allowed an FBS-low 13.8 points per game, according to cfbstats.com, but without a matching offense that could be relied on to do its part every week, that defense couldn't carry the team.

Those teams now know what it will take to keep on improving and make the next step. Arkansas needs to be strong and balanced on both sides of the ball, not just one. It can be that team, but it's a process.

Instead, the Razorbacks figure to get better gradually, which will have to do. Bielema had to know this was going to be the case when he chose to leave the good thing he had going at Wisconsin—where he could annually compete for at least a Rose Bowl spot—for this major challenge.

He saw that gradual improvement this year, not just in the seven wins but also by virtue of four losses by seven points or less (after losing by an average of 21 points in SEC play the season before). The turnaround actually began late in 2013, when Arkansas' final three losses were by 10, seven and four points.

That might mean next year—when opening SEC play against A&M—instead of a narrow loss, it will result in a hard-fought victory.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Arkansas vs. Texas: Score and Twitter Reaction for 2014 AdvoCare Texas Bowl

For the first time in over a decade, Arkansas owns the bragging rights in one of college football's oldest rivalries. 

The Razorbacks throttled former Southwest Conference foe Texas on Monday night, rolling to a dominant 31-7 win in the Texas Bowl and earning their first win in the rivalry since 2003. 

Texas coach Charlie Strong didn't sugarcoat anything after the game, via ESPN's Max Olson:

ESPN Stats & Info provided the one stat that summed up the game:

It was a matchup that figured to be a defensive struggle, a revival of the old-school battles between the two longtime adversaries. But Arkansas' offense didn't cooperate with the narrative. Brandon Allen threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns, Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins combined for 181 yards on the ground, and the Razorbacks finished with 351 total yards and their highest point total since an October win over UAB. 

Allen was named MVP:

Of course, the defense still wasn't to be outdone. 

Texas' offensive line struggled immensely to contain Trey Flowers and a relentless Arkansas pass rush, and the roller-coaster season of Tyrone Swoopes hit a new low. The sophomore QB was sacked three times, completing 13 of 25 throws for 57 yards and an interception. 

The running game also had zero success, and the Longhorns finished with 59 yards on 43 offensive plays. USA Today's Paul Myerberg put the historically woeful offensive performance into humorous perspective:

After a field goal from Razorbacks kicker Adam McFain served as the only points of the first quarter, Arkansas began the second by finding the end zone in spectacular fashion, courtesy of Demetrius Wilson:

Things quickly piled on for Texas. Midway through the second quarter, the Hogs downed a punt at the 4-yard line, and on the next play, Swoopes botched a handoff to Johnathan Gray, resulting in a fumble recovery for Taiwan Johnson in the end zone. 

As Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman noted, it was a recurring theme for the Longhorns:

Texas responded right away with a quick scoring drive, as Swoopes scrambled for a nine-yard touchdown to make it 17-7 and seemingly give the Longhorns some hope heading into the locker room.

That hope was instantly crushed, though. Collins returned the ensuing kick 39 yards, and Allen orchestrated a nine-play, 61-yard drive culminating in a five-yard toss to Keon Hatcher to push the lead back to 17 points just 24 seconds before halftime. 

One Texas fan's body language summed up the game thus far, via CJ Fogler:

Things didn't get any better after the break. Texas had five possessions in the second half. The first four of those all went for negative yardage and ended in three-and-outs. Their first first down didn't come until there were less than six minutes left in the game. 

Swoopes completed a few more passes on that drive (a noteworthy accomplishment on a forgettable night for the Longhorns) but was eventually picked off by Henre' Toliver in an appropriate ending to a game the Razorbacks controlled from start to finish. 

CBS Sports' Jon Solomon put it simply:

Texas and Arkansas will now turn their focus toward the offseason and the final month of the 2015 recruiting period. Each program features a top-25 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings, and despite how this game played out, both teams are certainly on the rise under their relatively new head coaches. 

That doesn't make them equal in the rebuilding process, though.

Strong has shown encouraging glimpses but must quickly fix this offense, while Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks appear to be much further along in their ascent back to the nation's elite.

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