NCAA Football News

Close Games, Trial by Fire Just What Young Notre Dame Defense Needs

Looking for style points? Hoping to impress the selection committee? 

You've come to the wrong place. 

On Saturday night, Notre Dame did everything it could to be a hospitable foe to the Naval Academy. Everett Golson's gift-wrapped interception before halftime kept the Midshipmen alive. A lackluster third quarter gave the Irish a scare and pushed Navy ahead. And Notre Dame blew two fourth-quarter scoring opportunities when even getting a field goal would've finally buried the Midshipmen. 

But while a 49-39 victory over Navy won't do anything to impress the selection committee, it did move the Irish forward this season. Giving up 39 points and 336 yards on the ground is a funny way to show improvement on the defensive side of the ball, but there's a silver lining after watching the Irish's battered and bruised defense compete in the fourth quarter. 

Many wondered how Brian VanGorder planned on attacking the Navy triple option. And if you were the one that predicted Greer Martini, Nyles Morgan and James Onwualu being critical pieces, run to 7-Eleven a pick up some lotto tickets. 

We took a time machine into the future of Notre Dame's defense Saturday night. And it revealed some really impressive play by the next generation of VanGorder's troops.

There were plenty of mistakes. And assignment football certainly took a beating against Keenan Reynolds and Ken Niumatalolo's triple-option attack. But when push came to shove, a defense filled with kids and afterthoughts took Navy's best punch down the stretch and came out a victor. 

Earlier this week, most thought Brian Kelly's admiration of Navy was lip service or spin control after an underwhelming initial ranking in the first College Football Playoff poll. But after rolling to 215 yards in the first quarter and jumping out to a 28-7 lead, the Irish gave Navy the one break they needed. And when they came up for breath, Notre Dame was losing 31-28. 

Things looked bleak. Nose tackle Jarron Jones was on and off the field all night with injuries. Sheldon Day and James Onwualu went down after a nasty collision chasing Reynolds. And most serious of all, the Irish are looking at life without Joe Schmidt, with the heart of the Irish defense suffering an ankle injury that looks to be significant—Schmidt had an air cast on and needed crutches on the sideline.

But blue-chipper Nyles Morgan went in at middle linebacker and immediately showed the kind of promise that made him a critical recruit in February. While it forced the Irish to simplify their defensive attack, the true freshman flashed some incredible athleticism and made some bone-crunching collisions as he made four key tackles, including one TFL down the stretch.

He certainly made some mistakes—with Navy's late touchdown and two-point conversion likely blown assignments for the young linebacker. But after playing exclusively special teams this season, Morgan showed a comfort level making plays that give you a glimpse at his promising future. 

If Morgan's performance was a surprise, Martini's was a shocker. With Jaylon Smith moved outside to the edge, it was Martini who played inside from the start. His nine tackles led the Irish and confirmed Kelly's praise for the heady nature of the unheralded linebacker. 

Looking for another reason to trust Brian Kelly's recruiting acumen? Martini may have been one of the lowest-ranked recruits in last year's class, but he was the Irish staff's first commitment. Coupled with 3-star safety Drue Tranquill, who made five tackles, Kelly's ability to get production out of both Army All-Americans and afterthoughts explains quite a bit. 

The glass-half-empty crew will get plenty of ammo from Saturday night's roller coaster. After looking solid as tacklers early, safeties Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate struggled with assignment football, flashing late and struggling to get to the pitch man. Even though job No. 1 is stopping the fullback, Noah Copeland ran for 138 yards on just 16 carries. 

The Irish pass coverage also had its failures, with Keenan Reynolds able to hit an early touchdown pass and keep drives alive through the air as well as the run. And Navy just missed a potential game changer when Reynolds could reel in Copeland's pass that could've served as a dagger.  

But on a night when the Irish could've seen their playoff hopes go up in flames, they got out of FedExField alive. And they called on some unlikely heroes to get the job done.

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Can J.T. Barrett Put Struggles Against Good Teams Behind Him vs. Michigan State?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the one half that he did play on Saturday, J.T. Barrett looked like his old self. Pinpointing passes and taking what the defense gave him on the ground, you would have never known that the Ohio State quarterback was nursing a sprained MCL while leading the Buckeyes to a 55-14 blowout victory over Illinois.

But while Barrett bounced back from his uninspiring outing in Happy Valley last weekend, there's no telling what that means for next week's mega matchup with Michigan State. That's because a large part of the freshman signal-caller's success on Saturday stemmed from the incompetence of the Fighting Illini, who put up less of a fight than any opponent that the Buckeyes have played so far this year.

That's saying something when you look at the opponents that Barrett has faced thus far this season, which has seen him light up lesser opponents and struggle against the stouter ones. Against Navy, Kent State, Cincinnati, Maryland, Rutgers and Illinois, Barrett has totaled 1,914 total yards and 24 touchdowns, numbers that at one point placed him in discussion for the Heisman Trophy.

But in Barrett's only two true tests, he's been significantly less impressive, completing just nine of 29 pass attempts in Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech and throwing for just 74 yards in last weekend's double-overtime win against Penn State. And there won't be a bigger test that Barrett takes this season than next Saturday, heading on the road for a prime-time showdown against the Spartans' top-five defense.

"It's a real one. This is why you come to Ohio State," Barrett said. "To go play Michigan State at Michigan State."

No, Barrett won't be able to get away with playing just a half as he did on Saturday, totaling 205 yards and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes jumped out to a 31-0 first-half lead over the undermanned Illini. Rather, Ohio State is going to need the Wichita Falls, Texas, native's best effort in East Lansing, in a contest that will serve as a de facto Big Ten East Championship Game.

That, of course, will be easier said than done against a Michigan State squad that has only surrendered an average of 284.4 yards per game to opponents and will be well-rested and well-prepared coming off of a bye.

The Spartans may not be as strong defensively as they were a season ago when they beat the Buckeyes in the Big Ten title game, but they are the best opponent on Ohio State's schedule this season, which doesn't bode well for the Buckeyes given Barrett's inconsistencies against the Hokies and Nittany Lions.

Only next Saturday will give Barrett the opportunity to change that narrative, in a game that will be billed as a battle between the Big Ten's two best. Ever since last year's conference championship outcome, all roads in Columbus have led to East Lansing, a chance for revenge against the team that thwarted Ohio State's national title chances a season ago.

"Obviously, the dream was ripped away from us," said OSU head coach Urban Meyer. "This is a motivated team."

And although losses on Sept. 6 by both teams may have threatened the importance of next Saturday, both the Spartans and Buckeyes have bounced back with six straight wins apiece. With MSU ranked eighth and Ohio State 16th in last week's College Football Playoff committee poll, there will be plenty on the line in Spartan Stadium next Saturday beyond a likely second straight trip to Indianapolis.

"Whoever wins this game is probably going to go on and play for the Big Ten championship," Barrett admitted. "It's a big game."

Having blown out five of their past six opponents with an evidently improved defense and a plethora of emerging playmakers, the Buckeyes look like a team that's firing on all cylinders just at the right time. But make no mistake about it, Ohio State's success next Saturday will come down to Barrett, who insists that he's prepared for the most important game of his young college career.

"Now it's here. Now it's time to talk about it," Barrett said. "They got us last year in the Big Ten Championship Game. Now it's kind of time for revenge."

 

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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College Football Playoff Rankings: Biggest Takeaways from Week 10

How many SEC teams will be in the inaugural College Football Playoff? One? Two?

How about zero?

After Saturday, that prospect is becoming a possibility. To be sure, it's a long shot, but that scenario can no longer be ruled out completely.

Georgia's shocking blowout loss to Florida at the annual Cocktail Party brings home the stark reality that the SEC East is filled with second-rate also-rans. For all the talk that the SEC West might be the best division in football, the SEC can't be credibly called the best conference when half of it is but a sad clown show.

And the clowns might very well make more mess of it if they pull out a miracle win under the big top of the Georgia Dome. Missouri, a loser to Big Ten bottom feeder Indiana at home, now leads the SEC East. What if the Tigers shock a one-loss SEC West champ in the conference title game?

Or a two-loss SEC West champ. With Ole Miss' gut-wrenching loss to Auburn, a plausible scenario exists for a five-way tie in the SEC West with each team tagged with two losses. All that takes is this: Mississippi State loses to Alabama and Ole Miss, plus Alabama loses to LSU but beats Auburn—if all five teams involved here win their other remaining games.

That being the case, Ole Miss and LSU are still alive in the playoff chase, along with 11 other one-loss teams and, of course, undefeated Mississippi State and Florida State.

 

Teams That Moved Up

TCU

Jaden Oberkrom's 37-yard field goal as time expired gave the Horned Frogs a 31-30 win at West Virginia and kept them in the playoff chase. As of now, TCU should be in the four-team playoff field if it can win its remaining games, beginning with next week's showdown against Kansas State.

Alabama

Auburn's dramatic win over Ole Miss was good for the Tigers, but great for their cross-state rival Alabama. The Crimson Tide now control their own fate in the SEC West as they will claim the division title if they win out. But they should take nothing for granted as they'll visit Death Valley for a dreaded night game next Saturday.

Oregon

The Ducks got their cathartic win over the kryptonite that kept them from the Pac-12 title game the past two seasons. Oregon's pasting of Stanford put it another step closer to the Pac-12 North title and kept it on track for a playoff berth.

Florida State

The Seminoles' furious comeback win Thursday night against Louisville will be good enough to keep them at No. 2. Now that we know how the committee operates, the defending national champs just need to win out and should be no worse than the No. 2 seed. Style points are now irrelevant for FSU.

 

Teams That Moved Down

SEC East

Georgia's loss not only finished the Bulldogs' hopes of landing a surprise playoff spot, it completely discredited the entire division. Missouri is now the division leader, but it still needs to beat two SEC West teams—even if they're bottom feeders Texas A&M and Arkansas—to repeat as the SEC East champion.

Notre Dame

The Irish did hold on to beat Navy after giving up 24 consecutive points to fall behind briefly. But with the committee already not holding it in the highest esteem, Notre Dame's close win will not help its cause much. Given what's left on their schedule, the Irish need quite a bit of help to get into the playoff field.

The American

In the span of two early-afternoon games, the American played itself right out of contention for a spot in a New Year's Six bowl game. East Carolina was dismal in its loss to Temple and then Central Florida was beaten by a UConn team that had one win entering the game. Now neither team is in the hunt.

Pac-12

There were six Pac-12 games on Saturday, three started after 10 p.m. ET, when most of the East Coast fans have gone to bed. Two others were televised on the Pac-12 Network, which is available to scant few people outside of the Pac-12 footprint (and not carried by DirecTV three years running). For a conference constantly griping about lack of respect, its TV deal is not helping its teams' cause.

 

Group-of-Five Team in the Best Position

East Carolina's loss now puts two teams vying for a spot in the committee's next rankings. Marshall is one of three undefeated teams, but its weak schedule isn't impressing the selection committee. Colorado State has two wins over power-five opponents (Boston College and Colorado) but doesn't control its own fate in the Mountain West race.

The only other team currently in the conversation is Boise State, which has beaten Colorado State and can claim the Mountain Division by winning out. The Broncos have a far better strength of schedule than the other two contenders, but they're being held back by having two losses (to Ole Miss and Air Force).

 

Projected Conference Championship Matchups

ACC: Florida State vs. Duke

Big Ten: Michigan State vs. Wisconsin

Pac-12: Oregon vs. Arizona State

SEC: Mississippi State vs. Missouri

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Oregon Gets Stanford Monkey off Its Back, Can Ducks Avoid Late-Season Letdown?

Three possessions. Three 75-yard touchdown drives. That’s all it took for the Oregon Ducks to rid themselves of the “Stanford Problem."

The Oregon Ducks (8-1, 5-1) took two years of frustration out on the Stanford Cardinal (5-4, 3-3), to the tune of 45-16, and firmly planted themselves in the top four of the College Football Playoff poll. However, the Ducks toughest test of the season may lie ahead.

The Ducks rode a strong running game and the arm of Marcus Mariota all night long as they gained 545 total yards on Stanford. Coming into the night the Cardinal were ranked No. 1 in the country in total defense and had allowed an average of only 250.6 yards per game. The Cardinal were also ranked No. 2 in the country in scoring defense having allowed only 12.5 points per game this season.

Well, Oregon dispelled the idea that Stanford’s D was infallible. The Ducks outpaced Stanford’s average points allowed in the first 8:43 of the first quarter.

While the Oregon offense stalled at times against Washington State and Arizona, they’ve been absolutely unstoppable since left tackle Jake Fisher returned from injury. In four conference games since Fisher returned, the Ducks are averaging 47.7 points per game, and their average margin of victory is 21 points.

The question coming into this game was whether or not Oregon’s offense could finally do damage against a Stanford defense that had dominated them the previous two seasons. They answered that question and a few more with their 45-point performance.

This was the second time that the Ducks have faced a top-five ranked defense this season—the other being Michigan State on Sept. 6. Against the Spartans, who are ranked No. 5 in total defense, the Ducks scored 46 points and gained 491 yards. The Ducks average offensive output against Stanford and Michigan State was 45.5 points and 518 yards of offense. Those are some gaudy offensive statistics for a team that has folded against top-ranked defenses the past couple of seasons.

Ultimately, the Ducks offense finally figured out a way beat Stanford with the running game, and the Oregon defense stepped up when it needed to.

Let’s start with the running game because, quite frankly, the Ducks have underperformed on the ground against Stanford over the past two seasons. True freshman Royce Freeman, Oregon’s starting running back, once again proved that he’s a difference-maker for the Ducks.

Andy Staples of Sport Illustrated described Royce Freeman as a ‘Theatre of Pain.” Freeman isn’t afraid to terrorize opposing defenses with a physicality that Oregon’s running game has lacked in previous years. On the night, Freeman ran for 98 yards on 19 carries.

While Freeman has been Oregon’s most consistent runner this season, he wasn’t the star of the show tonight, despite his 98-yard performance. Thomas Tyner, who has struggled for a significant part of the season, finally broke out against the Cardinal. Tyner, who rushed for 63 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns, not only was a stabilizing force for Oregon’s offense, but he also capped the victory with a beautiful 21-yard touchdown run that gave the Ducks a 31-16 lead and effectively put the game out of reach. 

And, of course, there’s the performance of quarterback Marcus Mariota. Last year against the Cardinal, Mariota had a sprained MCL, which limited his ability to escape the pocket and do what he does best: make something out of nothing.

Despite the fact that Mariota threw an interception for the second consecutive game, he made play after play and led the Ducks offense up and down the field versus one of the nations finest defensive units. Mariota threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns; however, it was his ability to escape the pocket and make plays with his legs that was special against Stanford. Mariota ran the ball nine times for 85 yards and also scored two touchdowns, while also escaping the pocket with regularity in order to make plays downfield with his arm. 

Coming into the game, the Stanford defense had allowed only four rushing touchdowns all season. The Ducks scored four rushing touchdowns all by themselves. Moreover, the Cardinal had allowed just 11 touchdowns through eight games. The Ducks scored six touchdowns on the night against Stanford, which accounts for 35.3-percent of the touchdowns Stanford has allowed this entire season.

All in all, the Ducks rushed for 267 yards on 46 carries. Compare that to Oregon’s rushing performances against Stanford in 2012 and 2013, and it becomes clear how impressive of a performance this was for the Ducks. In Oregon’s previous two losses to the Cardinal, the Ducks rushed for a combined total of 260—including a 62-yard performance in 2013. The Ducks exceeded that two-year total against Stanford on Saturday night.

To say this was a masterful performance by the Ducks offense may be an understatement. However, the Ducks don’t have much time to celebrate this win, nor do they get bonus points for beating Stanford. When asked if there was any special significance to beating Stanford, head coach Mark Helfrich said, “If there’s any added significance it’s mental. We don’t get extra credit for winning this game.”

He's right. The Ducks have to keep moving forward because Oregon's next opponent, the Utah Utes, may prove to be Oregon’s biggest roadblock to a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Not only is Utah—ranked No. 17 by the College Football Playoff committee—a much-improved team this season, they possess one of the best home-field advantages in the entire country. When asked about the Ducks win over Stanford, Helfrich quipped, “Our reward is a tough opponent in a great venue.”

Indeed, Utah’s home field, Rice-Eccles Stadium, sits 4,657 feet above sea level, and the Utes pose a serious threat to Oregon’s postseason aspirations. The Utes will challenge the Ducks with a very competent defense, great running game and one of the best special teams unit in the entire nation.

The Utes are led by outstanding junior running back Devontae Booker, whom a NFL scout has compared favorably to Houston Texans’ star Arian Foster. Through his first eight games this season, Booker has rushed for 844 yards and eight touchdowns on 146 carries.

Utah’s defense, which is ranked No. 29 in the country in scoring and No. 55 in total yards allowed, will present similar challenges to those posed by Stanford’s defense. While the Utes' D may not be as highly ranked as that as Stanford in terms of statistics, it is legitimate enough that the Ducks should be concerned.

Lastly, Utah’s special teams have been absolutely deadly so far this season. While the Ducks did a good job of containing Stanford’s Ty Montgomery—one of the best special teams players in the entire country—they’ll be hard pressed to totally stop Utah’s special teams units on Nov. 8.

The Utes are No. 2 in kickoff returns, No. 3 in punt returns, No. 3 in punting and may have the best kicker in the country in sophomore sensation Andy Phillips.

It’s going to be difficult for the Ducks to put this victory over Stanford behind them and immediately move on to preparing for Utah. However, if they Ducks want to earn a bid into a College Football Playoff semifinal, they’re going to need to win out. It all starts with Utah.

The Ducks have three more regular-season games—Utah, Colorado and Oregon State—and must impress the committee in each and every game. If they are able to win their next three games, they’ll be rewarded with a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. If they win the Pac-12 title and finish the season at 12-1, they’ll undoubtedly earn a spot into the College Football Playoff.

Oregon made a loud statement against Stanford, and the program should be taken as a very viable playoff candidate. However, the Ducks would be wise not to overlook any opponent at this point in the year.

For the Ducks it’s simple: You win and you’re in. That’s easier said than done.

 

Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise stated. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated.

Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheSportsGuy33.

 

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Heisman Watch 2014: Top 5 Rankings for Week 10

Major matchups between top programs in Week 10 had a huge effect on much of the Heisman race. Many of the top contenders remain in the running, but other dark horses continue to emerge.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee gives his updated Heisman contenders after Week 10. 

Who will win the Heisman Trophy?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Mississippi State Shows Championship Heart in Survival Win over Arkansas

When you're the top-ranked team in the nation, every opponent on your schedule will try to find your Kryptonite.

On Saturday night, the Arkansas Razorbacks did all they could to uncover Mississippi State's weakness.

But in the end, Dak Prescott added to his Heisman reel, and the Bulldogs showed that they can take a punch the way Sylvester Stallone did in the Rocky saga. 

With the game tied at 10-10 early in the fourth quarter, following a missed Arkansas field goal, momentum was up for grabs.

The Bulldogs were 69 yards away from the end zone and looked like they were about to give the ball back to the Razorbacks, who were slowly but surely eating away at the Bulldogs' defensive front.

Prescott, who threw two picks on the night, rolled out to his left with pressure behind him. He saw his man, Fred Ross, wide open on the left sideline and, with defenders inches from pulling him town, hoisted the ball up.

It was a perfect strike, and Ross took it the rest of the way to give the Bulldogs a 17-10 lead.

On the very next drive for Arkansas, the Razorbacks went 72 yards in a massive 17-play drive.

But Mississippi State stuffed them at the goal line to give Prescott the ball back.

The Bulldogs punted away with 2:29 left in the game, and again Arkansas mounted a last-ditch effort to tie to the game.

This time, a 10-play, 66-yard drive for the Razorbacks ended with an interception by Will Redmond to effectively end the game.

Each time the Bulldogs were tested on Saturday night against Arkansas, the official Peskiest Team in the SEC, they rose to the occasion.

That's what good teams do. That's what true No. 1s do.

As Alex Scarborough of ESPN points out, Dan Mullen knows that.

Prescott had a career day throwing the ball with his mobility shut down by a ball-hawking Razorback defense, racking up 331 yards through the air.

But the unquestioned winner of the game ball is Josh Robinson. A running back who's spent most of this season in the shadows of Prescott, he had 64 yards rushing, 110 yards receiving on just six catches and a touchdown.

Heisman contenders will have off days, that's a fact. While Prescott had a career high in passing yards, there was still the matter of those two interceptions. His 61 yards on the ground were also his second lowest of the season—he ran for just 23 in Week 1 against Southern Miss, a 49-0 win.

When Heisman contenders have less-than-invincible outings, it's all about who the next man up is. For the Bulldogs, that was Robinson against Arkansas.

And on Saturday night, it was Robinson and the Bulldogs' grit that showed up with the game on the line, particularly with that goal-line stand, that will keep the Bulldogs atop the rankings for another week.

 

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College Football Playoff Projections After Crazy Weekend

After a wild Week 10, the College Football Playoff seems to be taking a better shape. With top teams competing against each other, shakeups are sure to follow this intense Saturday.

Bleacher college football analyst Adam Kramer tells you who he thinks is in and out of the CFP.

Who is in your top four for college football?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Nick Marshall's Clutch Factor Should Make Him a Heisman Finalist

Auburn won a high-profile game against a ranked opponent in dramatic fashion on Saturday, continuing the trend it started last season with a 35-31 road victory over Ole Miss.

The Tigers appeared to have lost the lead when Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell took a screen pass toward the end zone in the final minutes, but linebacker Kris Frost hustled to catch Treadwell from behind, tackled him on the goal line and jarred the bar loose in regrettably gruesome fashion.

Treadwell rolled over his ankle and had to be carted off the field, but the fumble—which was recovered in the end zone by Auburn—was confirmed by a video replay.

While the defense—for once—made the customary "miracle" play in Auburn's win, it wasn't the defense that won the Tigers this game. It was the offense. Namely, it was quarterback Nick Marshall.

Playing against a defense that entered first in the country in points allowed per game (10.5), Marshall gained more than 300 total yards, scored four touchdowns and navigated Auburn to three long touchdown drives on consecutive possessions in the second half.

And he deserves to be a Heisman Trophy finalist because of that.

Marshall completed 15 of 22 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and rushed 10 times for 50 yards and another two scores. He beat the Rebels with his ever-improving arm and legs, which are almost without parallel—sometimes using both in the same, unearthly jolt.

Take, for example, this 57-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates at the end of the second quarter, before which Marshall sidestepped a rushing defender in the backfield:

Auburn punted on its first possession of the second half but scored touchdowns on its next three after that. Combined with the touchdown above, that means it scored touchdowns on four of five possessions against the "Landsharks" on their own field.

Before Week 10, Ole Miss had allowed eight touchdowns all season.

The second-half touchdown drives Marshall orchestrated went 73 yards in seven plays, 96 yards in 11 plays and 75 yards in nine plays, respectively.

The first got Auburn within three points after an Ole Miss touchdown, the second gave Auburn a four-point lead after an Ole Miss punt and the third gave Auburn a four-point lead—for the eventual 35-31 margin—after another Ole Miss touchdown.

Every time Ole Miss threw a punch, Marshall responded with a counter.

It was one thing when he was countering against South Carolina—a team that now officially has a losing record—but it's another thing to counter against one of the best defenses in the country.

"If Marshall can get things cooking this week and keep it up against the stingy 'Landsharks' defense at Ole Miss, he'd be back in the Heisman mix with the porous Texas A&M defense coming to The Plains on Nov. 8," wrote Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee before Marshall dominated South Carolina last weekend.

"Hello, Heisman."

"If It's close, our guys believe they're going to win," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told reporters after the victory. "And we've done it in some of the most bizarre ways."

That belief in the most trying moments is an extension of Marshall, which is what makes him one of the most valuable players in college football. Only Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston—one of three quarterbacks Marshall has ever lost to—does it better.

Presently, Marshall's case for the Heisman falls behind those of Dak Prescott (another one of the quarterbacks who has beaten Marshall) and Marcus Mariota (whose stats far exceed those of Marshall) but lands on the tier right behind them alongside players such as Winston and Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson.

If Auburn continues winning, and if Marshall continues catalyzing those wins, there's a chance he could sneak into the front-runner conversation. He would need to get some help, but it's possible. 

Either way, though, he will deserve to make the trip to New York.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter @BLeighDAT.

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Was Breaking Oregon's 'Stanford Curse' Marcus Mariota's Heisman Moment?

Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks rolled over the Stanford Cardinal 45-16 in Week 10 action.

The junior threw for 258 yards while accounting for four total touchdowns. More importantly, it was his first career win over Stanford.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Mariota's big game and his chances at the Heisman Trophy.

Did this victory make Mariota the Heisman front-runner? Check out the video and let us know!

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Illinois vs. Ohio State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Buckeyes

After an uneven showing on the road against Penn State last week, No. 16 Ohio State (7-1) got back on track in a big way with a 55-14 rout of Illinois (4-5) Saturday night.

The Buckeyes dominated in all three phases of the game, outgaining the Illini by 302 total yards. In fact, Ohio State had a shutout going for much of the game, but Tim Beckman's squad put together two touchdown drives against the Buckeyes' second-team defense. 

How did Ohio State grade out from its convincing 41-point victory?

 

Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense 

J.T. Barrett saw just two quarters of action, but he made the most of his limited time by completing 15 of 24 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Cardale Jones closed things out in the second half as the Buckeyes totaled 249 passing yards and four touchdowns against no interceptions.

Devin Smith paced the receivers, hauling in three catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes spread it around, though, as nine different pass-catchers hauled in receptions.

 

Run Offense 

The Buckeyes churned out yards on the ground at a high rate against the Illini. Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel led the way, combining for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, but Jalin Marshall was a surprising star. The H-back saw time as a wildcat quarterback and ran for 42 yards and a touchdown on five carries.

Those three highlighted a Buckeyes rushing attack that totaled 296 yards and 6.7 yards per carry.

 

Pass Defense

Ohio State’s pass defense continues to improve under co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, and against Illinois, the unit was dominant. The Buckeyes surrendered just 58 passing yards in the first half—56 of which came on one pass.

Starting quarterback Reilly O’Toole was benched midway through the second quarter, but backup Aaron Bailey didn’t have much success either. The Illini finished with just 137 passing yards and one touchdown. Ohio State's defense came up with two interceptions, both of which came in the first half against O'Toole.

 

Run Defense

The Buckeyes were just as dominant against the run, allowing a meager 106 rushing yards to the Illini. Bailey provided a spark when he came in for O’Toole, running for a team-high 39 yards from the quarterback position. But the Illini had a hard time getting anything going on the ground, as the team averaged just 2.5 yards per carry against Joey Bosa and a surging linebacker unit.

 

Special Teams

Freshman kicker Sean Nuernberger wasn’t called on very often, but he did drill two field goals of 44 and 26 yards and was a perfect 7-of-7 on extra-point attempts. The Buckeyes had a quiet night in the return game, but Dontre Wilson flashed in the fourth quarter, taking a kickoff 43 yards to midfield.

 

Coaching 

Urban Meyer and Tom Herman did an excellent job managing Barrett, who will be desperately needed next week when the Buckeyes travel to East Lansing for a prime-time matchup against Michigan State. Barrett showed that he's still dangerous, but the coaching staff did a great job keeping him on his feet without further injuring his sprained knee. 

The defensive staff called an outstanding game as well, limiting the Illinois offense to just 243 total yards and a season-low 14 points.

 

All stats via NCAA.com.  

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

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Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Game Grades, Analysis for Razorbacks & Bulldogs

Mississippi State remains undefeated, as they got past Arkansas 17-10. The final box score can be found here, thanks to NCAA.com.

The Bulldogs did not play their best game, but they found a way to win, which is why they are the No. 1 team in the country. As for Arkansas, it was another tough loss for the Hogs, as they could not make that one play to get them over the hump.

It was a well-played game by both teams, but they will have a few things they need to work on as the season winds down.

Here are game grades and analysis for the Razorbacks and the Bulldogs.

 

Passing Offense

The Hogs aren’t really known for throwing the ball downfield, but Brandon Allen made some big throws, especially in the fourth quarter. The problem was that Allen was not accurate and was constantly flushed out of the pocket. When a team like Arkansas has to throw over 40 times, that means the run game is not where it needs to be.

 

Running Offense

And that was exactly the case, as the Razorbacks only rushed for 163 yards on 38 carries. Alex Collins was the only running back that could do anything for the Hogs, rushing for 93 yards and one score.

Jonathan Williams did not have any big runs, and the same goes for Kody Walker. The Bulldogs defense did a great job maintaining their gaps and tackling at the point of attack. If the Hogs don’t run the ball for more than 200 yards, that’s a big problem.

 

Passing Defense

The Razorbacks defense knew that Dak Prescott could make plays with his arm and legs, but they did not expect him to go completely off in the passing game. Prescott threw for more than 330 yards because the secondary for Arkansas had miscommunication, which led to blown coverages. But then again, the front-seven for Arkansas didn't apply any pressure on Prescott, either.

 

Running Defense

One of the things the Hogs did well is not let the Bulldogs run wild. Prescott had a bum ankle, so he was not going to have a big night running the ball. But led by linebacker Martrell Spaight, Robinson only had 64 yards and one touchdown.  That was one of the biggest reasons the Razorbacks were in the game until the end.  The front seven never let Prescott and Robinson run over them.

 

Special Teams

The special teams could have been better for the Hogs. Adam McFain missed a key field goal in the second half, the punting game did not make a big impact and the return game did not make any big plays. This was a game when special teams needed to be a key factor. But while the group did not make any mistakes, they needed to make plays to help the offense.

 

Coaching

Brett Bielema has done a great job preparing his team each week. But they seem to be missing that one play, and that’s why they have not won an SEC game in their last 16 tries. The coaching staff had a great game plan, and they made all the right decisions. It’s up to the players to go out there and execute.

 

Passing Offense

Prescott had his best game through the air as Bulldog. He threw for a career-high 331 yards and one score. However, he did throw two interceptions in the second half, which is another reason why the Razorbacks were able to hang with the No. 1 team in the country. Prescott was fighting an ankle injury all game long, but he looked really comfortable in the second half and was able to lead the Bulldogs to a win.

 

Running Offense

It was not the best of nights for the run game for the Bulldogs, as they had only 128 yards on 35 carries. Prescott had 61 yards while Robinson had 64. Both players were able to get off a couple of big runs, but the Razorbacks defense kept them bottled up most of the game.

 

Passing Defense

The Bulldogs had to force Allen to throw 43 times in the game, but the secondary did give up some big throws towards the end of the game. However, the Bulldogs did intercept Allen on the last play of the game to seal the victory. Mississippi State normally gives  up a lot of yards in the air, but the group played well Saturday, as they kept everything in front of them and there was no breakdown in coverage.

 

Running Defense

The Hogs can run the ball, but they did not do a great job of it on Saturday night because Benardrick McKinney and company kept Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams bottled up. Collins did have 93 yards, but 42 of those yards came on one play. The Hogs rushed for more than 260 yards per game, but they did not come close to that because the front seven won the battle of the line of scrimmage.

 

Special Teams

Devon Bell was solid in the punt game, Evan Sobiesk made his lone field goal, and the return specialist did not have any big returns but did not put the Bulldogs in bad field position. So the special teams had a strong effort against the Razorbacks. But like Arkansas, the Bulldogs would have loved to have a big return or two, because that would help them get more points and not have to worry about a fourth-quarter rally.

 

Coaching

Despite the rally, Dan Mullen had a good game plan for the Bulldogs. One of the best things Mullen did was let Prescott continue to throw in the second half, even though he threw two picks in the first half. Mullen let Prescott do his thing, and it worked out in the end. But the coaching staff will need to learn from the mistakes they made in this game and come up with a better game plan, because Alabama and Ole Miss are right around the corner.

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Winners and Losers from Week 10 of College Football

November is here and the conference games across college football are growing ever more important. There have already been wild finishes and upsets that promise to shake up the College Football Playoff picture. 

From TCU's game-winning field goal on the road against West Virginia to Florida's stunning beatdown over Georgia, November has already come through in providing some great games. Oregon finally took care of Stanford, and Auburn survived a shootout with Ole Miss. 

From those games and much, much more, we have it all covered. As you'll notice, Winners and Losers is live while other games are ongoing. Not to worry, as this post will be updated throughout the night as events warrant. 

Which teams, players and moments came away as winners? Which ones didn't? The answers are in the following slides. 

Begin Slideshow

Stanford vs. Oregon: Game Grades, Analysis for Ducks

On the arm and legs of Marcus Mariota, the Oregon Ducks were able to handily defeat Pac-12 North Division rival Stanford on Saturday by a score of 45-16. 

Mariota totaled nearly 350 yards of total offense. The elite signal-caller also contributed two touchdowns on the ground in addition to throwing for two more scores.

The vaunted Stanford defense simply had no answers for the quick-attack Oregon offense. Only allowing 12.5 points per game heading into the contest, David Shaw's unit relinquished its highest point total of the season. The Ducks also rolled up an impressive (and perhaps surprising) 526 yards of total offense. 

A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com. Check out first-half game grades and final grades for the Oregon Ducks. Additional analysis for position units will also be addressed. 

 

 

Oregon Ducks Analysis

Passing Offense

Oregon didn't look to test Stanford often on deep throws, but Mariota was superb on intermediate strikes. The signal-caller finished an efficient 19-of-30 for 258 yards and two touchdowns. 

His productive running of the football forced Stanford to commit more defenders up in the box. As a result, Mariota was able to exploit one-on-one matchups down the field with his receivers.

 

Pass Defense

There were some breakdowns in the back end. Stanford had the majority of its success on throws over the middle of the field. Devon Cajuste and Austin Hooper in particular were unaccounted for on multiple occasions.

The lack of a consistent pass rush also enabled Hogan to scan the field and throw with much accuracy. Hogan finished 21-of-29 for 237 yards. The highlight of the night for the Oregon secondary was an Erick Dargan interception late in the third quarter on a poorly thrown ball by Hogan. Dargan also forced a fumble on Hogan later in the game.

 

 

Rushing Offense

Oregon was simply sensational Saturday night running the football. The offensive line protected Mariota exceptionally well by not only giving him time to sit in the pocket and make throws, but also by opening up running lanes for the elite quarterback to exploit with his legs. 

The unit as a whole rushed for more than 250 yards. Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner combined for over 150 yards on the ground. Tyner had the play of the game with his spin-move in the open field, leading to one of his two touchdowns. 

 

Run Defense

The run defense did a very nice job, holding a run-heavy team to a paltry 3.4 yards-per-carry average. Most of Stanford's success running the football came on scrambles and designed runs by Hogan. He led Stanford on the night with 42 yards rushing on 11 carries. 

Both Danny Mattingly and Joe Walker were impressive against the run. Each had tackles for loss, darting into the backfield and wrapping up the ball-carrier. 

 

Special Teams

The unit was solid across the board. Freshman kicker Aidan Schneider connected on his only attempt of the night. Perhaps the biggest development was the job the kickoff and punt cover team did on Ty Montgomery. Although Stanford's lethal returner did have decent gains on kickoffs, Oregon corralled him and never allowed a return for a touchdown.  

 

Coaching 

Offensively, Mark Helfrich opted to place more of an emphasis on Mariota running the football. Stanford had no answer for this development. As the game wore on, the success on the ground opened up things in the passing game. This epitomizes what Oregon's offense is, dating back to the Chip Kelly era. When functioning at this level, it's incredibly difficult to stop. 

Don Pellum's defense neutralized Stanford's ground game and forced Hogan to make plays with his arm. While accurate and efficient, he never seriously threatened Oregon with any big plays. 

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Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones Flips Out on Assistant Coach on Sideline

Butch Jones is angry. And he's taking it out on this poor assistant coach. 

During Tennessee's game vs. South Carolina, the Volunteers defense gave up a 70-yard touchdown run to fall to 42-28 in the fourth quarter.

So Butch Jones railed on this assistant coach and then came back for more. Stressed out much? 

But it's all good, as Tennessee went on to beat South Carolina 45-42 in overtime. 

[Saturday Down South]

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Auburn vs. Ole Miss: How Tigers' Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

In the space of two weeks, the Ole Miss Rebels went from being one of the best teams in the country to finding themselves on the periphery of the College Football Playoff. A 35-31 loss to the Auburn Tigers all but sealed their postseason fate.

Head coach Gus Malzahn said after the game that so many nail-biting finishes has instilled in his players a kind of confidence that they'll win no matter the circumstances, which will undoubtedly serve them well down the stretch, per ESPN.com's Travis Haney:

The Rebels nearly pulled off a miracle with 90 seconds remaining, but Laquon Treadwell fumbled at the goal line on what would've been the go-ahead touchdown, and Auburn recovered. Ole Miss's chance for a potential national championship was decided by mere inches.

Ethan Levine of Saturday Down South couldn't believe how quickly the team's fortunes changed:

ESPN's Paul Finebaum also felt for the Rebels but gave Auburn full credit for its victory:

Looking back at Saturday's results and forecasting how the next few weeks will unfold, these teams look like the best bet to make the four-team playoff.

It's very likely that a one-loss SEC West team will get into the playoff. With the dearth of exceptional teams across the college landscape, the door is open for one conference to send two representatives.

However, two losses would all but eliminate a team from the playoff discussion. Losing once and failing to win your conference but still getting in is already a bit of a stretch. The selection committee couldn't possibly consider a two-loss team without asking for massive ridicule.

Last week's defeat to LSU was far from the final nail in the Rebels' coffin. Ole Miss still had a chance to crack the top four as long as it won out for the rest of the season, which is of course much easier said than done. Beating Auburn would've been a great way to impress the selection committee all over again.

Instead, the Tigers reigned supreme and picked up a massive road win to supplant Ole Miss as the favorite to grab that second SEC bid. Some might put Alabama as the SEC West 1a team, but the Crimson Tide fell to Ole Miss in Oxford, so Auburn should get the slight edge.

The Tigers are basically in a "win and you're in" situation. Junior linebacker Kris Frost made sure his teammates know how much is on the line in these final few games, per Auburn Gold Mine:

Taking a look at Auburn's schedule for the rest of the regular season, there's a good chance—at least as good of a chance as anybody could have under the circumstances—that the Tigers win out.

Texas A&M's stock has dropped precipitously over the last few weeks, and the Aggies will be without the suspended Kenny Hill, per ESPN.com's Sam Khan Jr. The No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs also don't look nearly as daunting after their 38-20 loss to Florida.

As long as Auburn gets past those two games, the Tigers will head into the Iron Bowl still in pole position for the playoff.

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Auburn vs. Ole Miss: Score and Twitter Reaction

No. 3 Auburn defeated No. 4 Ole Miss on the road in a thrilling 35-31 affair fraught with implications for the SEC West and the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Auburn was able to hold on for a win in a truly bizarre and devastating fashion. Down 35-31 late in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace hit wideout Laquon Treadwell with a crisp pass.

Treadwell appeared to take the ball across the goal line, but a vicious tackle twisted his leg and he let go of the ball. Auburn recovered the resulting fumble and would go on to close out the game.

The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre summarized the unfortunate turn of events:

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

Both teams came into the game with just one loss each in conference play. With so many great one-loss teams hanging around in other conferences, it was clear from the start that the losing side would have virtually no shot at reaching the College Football Playoff.

The contest truly lived up to the pregame hype, as the Tigers and Rebels spent the majority of the contest trading haymaker blows.

Auburn jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, with dual-threat quarterback Nick Marshall capping off a 73-yard drive by calling his own number on a two-yard touchdown run.

The Rebels tied the game on an I'Tavius Mathers run with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, setting the tone for the back-and-forth affair.

Marshall started off the second quarter with an ugly interception, one of his only true mistakes on the night, but Ole Miss couldn't take advantage and were forced to punt after a three-and-out.

Treadwell—who finished the game with 10 receptions for 103 yards—put the Rebels out in front 14-7 with a 10-yard touchdown catch, but Auburn answered right back with a huge play. Marshall hit wideout Sammie Coates for a 57-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14 apiece.

Coates flashed great speed on the play, and Auburn Tigers provided a look at the big score:

Ole Miss would add a field goal just before halftime to go into the locker room with a 17-14 lead.

The Rebels offense was clearly in much better sync than it was in their 10-7 loss to LSU in Week 9. However, USA Today's Dan Wolken noted the offensive line wasn't of great help in this one, although credit should also go to the Tigers' aggressive, hard-hitting defense:

Wallace did well to bounce back from a disastrous performance against LSU, and he finished this contest with 341 passing yards, three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and no interceptions.

The Rebels would add to their advantage on just their second drive of the third quarter. Wallace hit wideout Evan Engram for a 50-yard bomb, extending Ole Miss' lead to 24-14 and whipping the home crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium into a frenzy.

Marshall was having none of it, leading the Tigers to two straight scoring drives to take a 28-24 advantage heading into the final frame.

He notched his second rushing touchdown of the day on yet another plunge from the 2-yard line and then engineered a 96-yard clock-eater of a drive that ended in a 17-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Davis.

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that the Rebels' vaunted defense hadn't suffered this much abuse in quite some time:

Auburn's official Twitter account, via ESPN, provided a look at the thrilling go-ahead score:

Wallace would return the lead to the Rebels with a three-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the 31-28 lead was not long for this world. Running back Cameron Artis-Payne delivered a 35-31 advantage to the Tigers with a bulldozing six-yard touchdown run.

The high-scoring game was certainly a surprise to those expecting a classic defensive battle between two SEC powerhouses. 

With time running out, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze put his faith in Wallace. The senior quarterback marched his team into the red zone, completing several passes to Treadwell.

On 2nd-and-1 from the Auburn 6-yard line, Wallace would drop back to pass but felt pressure immediately. He stepped up and made a break for the line of scrimmage, but he would have the ball jarred loose as a pair of Auburn defenders brought him to the turf.

SportsCenter relayed the play, while ESPN Insider Travis Haney gave his take:

Neither team would be able to capitalize on its next drive, setting the stage for Ole Miss' bizarre finish. Wallace had done well to connect with Treadwell all game long, so it made sense he would go to his favorite target in crunch time.

With just over two minutes remaining, Wallace found Treadwell streaking toward the end zone. However, a crushing tackle forced a fumble and sent Treadwell to the locker room with a severe leg injury. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler noted the gruesome nature of the play:

The Associated Press' John Zenor added how Treadwell was taken off the field:

The Tigers would recover the fumble, but the offense couldn't seal the deal. A quick punt gave Ole Miss one last chance to pull off the win. Wallace couldn't come up with the big play at midfield, throwing three straight incompletions before a last-ditch lateral play fell well short as the clock hit double zeroes.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was well aware of his team's penchant for pulling out unlikely victories, per Haney:

Auburn now appears to have an inside track at a playoff spot, but that is far from a foregone conclusion with a brutal schedule in the coming weeks. Auburn still has to play Georgia and Alabama on the road this season, not to mention a potential trap game at home against Texas A&M on Nov. 8.

Should they somehow escape from that gauntlet unscathed, the playoff committee would be hard-pressed to find a reason to exclude the Tigers from getting a shot at the national title.

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Arik Armstead Injury: Updates on Oregon Star's Ankle and Return

Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a promising talent with a bright future, but before he captures that potential, he's going to have to stay on the field.

Andrew Greif of The Oregonian reports Armstead suffered a leg injury Saturday night against Stanford:

Kristin MacDougald of Comcast Sports Northwest showed Armstead in a brace walking off the field after the game:

While the multiple injuries won't help the draft stock of Armstead, who is expected to declare after this season, it's also a blow to Oregon's defensive line. ESPN's Jesse Palmer put it simply back when Armstead went down with his first injury this season:

An argument can be made for either Armstead or DeForest Buckner as the Ducks' best defensive lineman, but there's no denying the former's massive impact in the trenches.

Literally. At 6'8" and 290 pounds, Armstead is a towering force who sheds blocks and clogs running lanes, while also possessing the speed to hurry the quarterback.

Although he had a solid sophomore campaign, racking up three tackles for loss and a sack, the Pleasant Grove, California native has come into his own, beginning to show glimpses of that tantalizing potential in 2014. In particular, he tallied five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and a QB hurry against Michigan State earlier in the year, proving Oregon can compete with more physical teams.

The Oregonian's Jason Quick gave his assessment after that transcendent performance:

"The beast was finally released'' linebacker Tony Washington said, via Quick.

Unfortunately, the beast has once again been tamed, at least for now. Oregon has impressive depth in T.J. Daniel and Sam Kamp, but Helfrich and the Ducks will still be hoping not to be without their game-changing lineman for too long.

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Stanford vs. Oregon: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Stanford Cardinal traveled to Eugene and put on a solid performance early on, but the high-octane Oregon Ducks were too much to handle for a full 60 minutes. In the end, the home team emerged victorious by a score of 45-16.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota kicked things off with a methodical 14-play drive that lasted over four minutes and went 75 yards en route to a six-yard touchdown pass to Charles Nelson. Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com noted exactly how long it was since Oregon struck first when facing Stanford:

ESPN Stats & Info noted the significance of Mariota's touchdown pass:

Quarterback Kevin Hogan and the rest of Stanford's offense took the field thereafter, and the signal-caller led his team to the Oregon 30-yard line. The drive stalled, however, and the team settled for a Jordan Williamson 47-yard field goal.

While the drive cut into Oregon's lead, touchdowns would be needed from the Cardinal to compete in this Pac-12 clash.

Mariota picked up right where he left off on the ensuing drive. He picked up chunks of yards by completing passes to Byron Marshall and Devon Allen to quickly march down to the Stanford 22-yard line. From there, the quarterback showed what he can do with his legs, scrambling for the score.

Once again, Stanford drove down the field, but the team's drive stalled deep in Ducks territory. An incomplete pass intended for wide receiver Ty Montgomery on 3rd-and-12 resulted in another Williamson field goal, this time from 43 yards out.

The second quarter began with another long Oregon drive. Mariota remained efficient as a passer, and Royce Freeman showed off his wheels with a couple of nice runs. Twelve plays later, the Ducks found themselves at Stanford's 1-yard line.

Running back Thomas Tyner capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge. CSNNW tweeted the game's updated score:

A failed fourth-down attempt by Stanford on the following drive gave possession right back to the Ducks. Once again, Oregon drove inside the Cardinal 10-yard line, but an offensive pass interference penalty thwarted the team's bid at another touchdown. Oregon settled for an Aidan Schneider 40-yard field goal, increasing its lead to 24-6.

Hogan finally engineered a touchdown drive soon after, ensuring the game wouldn't get too far out of hand. He completed eight passes to four different receivers to move his team down to the Ducks 1-yard line. Patrick Skov took it from there, bulldozing his way into the end zone for the team's first touchdown.

Eye on College Football tweeted its thoughts on the score:

After a failed Oregon drive, the game entered halftime. CSNNW tweeted the teams' comparison at the break:

The third quarter ended in ominous fashion for the Cardinal. The team drove down to the Ducks 32-yard line, but a poor throw from Hogan resulted in an Erick Dargan interception. However, the results weren't disastrous, as Mariota threw a pick on the following drive.

Alex Carter's interception of Mariota marked the first time the quarterback had tossed a pick at home in a long time, according to College GameDay:

Stanford took advantage of the mishap but could only muster another field goal on the ensuing drive. Still, the 25-yarder got the Cardinal within eight points of the Ducks, making this a one-score game.

That wouldn't last long.

Oregon's ground game took over on the following drive, with Tyner putting an exclamation mark on the seventh play with a spinning 21-yard touchdown scamper. Here's Jerry Allen's call on the amazing run, via Oregon's radio color analyst Mike Jorgensen:

The score gave the Ducks 31 points on the day, ending Stanford's 31-game streak of allowing less than 30 points, according to ESPN's Kyle Bonagura:

We entered the fourth quarter soon after, and Oregon just continued to pour it on.

A Hogan fumble was scooped up by Tony Washington and returned 21 yards down to the Stanford 30. Following a Stanford holding penalty, Mariota showed his ability to make plays with his legs once again, rushing for a seven-yard score.

SportsCenter tweeted an update on the quarterback's performance to that point in the game:

The quarterback was at it again after another Stanford punt. This time Mariota favored Darren Carrington, hitting him for 17 yards to move deep inside Cardinal territory, and then again for a 25-yard touchdown strike. Tony Di Francisco of CFBMatrix.com tweeted his feelings on the signal-caller:

Stanford's offense gave a great effort on the ensuing drive. Evan Crower came in at quarterback with the game out of hand and led the offense down to the Oregon 1-yard line. Unfortunately, this time Skov couldn't punch it in and the team turned the ball over on downs.

From there, Oregon's offense was able to run out the clock and secure the victory.

Vic Lombardi of CBSDenver.com tweeted his thoughts on the team following the game:

This was an unfortunate loss for Stanford. The Cardinal are clinging to a 5-4 overall record and fall to 3-3 in Pac-12 play. The team still needs to notch another win to gain bowl eligibility, but it has a difficult road ahead with contests against Utah, California and UCLA remaining.

Stanford entered Saturday's contest with the nation's top-ranked scoring defense, and while that standing isn't likely to hold following the game against Oregon, this is still a talented team on both sides of the ball. Expect to see the Cardinal make a bowl appearance later this season.

Oregon produced a huge home win. The game's result keeps the team strongly in the running to participate in this year's College Football Playoff, and given the dominant offensive showing against such a strong defense, the Ducks will be a team to be reckoned with.

While Oregon does have to contend with Utah on November 8, with contests against Colorado and Oregon State to close out the regular season, there's no reason to think this team stands to lose another contest for the remainder of the year.

The Ducks are firmly solidified among the nation's elite.

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Arkansas vs. Mississippi State: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Arkansas Razorbacks continue to be a thorn in the sides of the SEC West elite, as they pushed the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs to the brink in what proved to be a 17-10 victory for Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday night.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Mississippi State is now 8-0 for the first time in over a decade:

Earlier in the year, the Razorbacks should've beaten the then-No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies, only to fall in overtime. Two weeks after that, Arkansas had a fourth-quarter lead over the Alabama Crimson Tide, but eventually lost 14-13.

Saturday's game was the fifth SEC contest in a row that Bret Bielema's team played an opponent ranked in the Top 10. Heading into the weekend, he said his aim wasn't simply to play talented opponents, but to beat them.

"We're setting all kinds of record for us as far as people that we’re playing, but we came here to set records for wins," Bielema said, per Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau. "There's no better opportunity than this week against a very, very talented football team."

Arkansas' rushing attack, when it's on, is enough to dominate the stingiest defenses in the nation. Mississippi State had the 23rd-best rushing defense in the country before Saturday, so that strength-on-strength battle was bound to decide the game.

In the end, Arkansas rushed for 163 yards as a team, which is about 100 yards below its season average. The Bulldogs defense wasn't lights-out, but it did just enough.

The Razorbacks gave Mississippi State fits for three-fourths of the game, until one defensive breakdown gifted the Bulldogs their first lead. Sophomore wideout Fred Ross was left wide open, and junior quarterback Dak Prescott found him for a 69-yard touchdown pass that put Mississippi State ahead 17-10 with 13:21 left in the fourth quarter:

On their next drive, the Razorbacks marched down the field and earned a 1st-and-goal at the Mississippi State 9-yard line. However, Bielema had a dilemma after his team failed to get in the end zone after their first three downs: Take the easy three points or go for the touchdown.

He opted to go for all the points, but sophomore running back Alex Collins was stuffed for no gain at the Bulldogs' 3-yard line.

Mississippi State couldn't kill the clock completely on their next drive, but it ate up 2:36. A long third-down conversion helped to extend the drive and take more precious seconds off the clock:

Arkansas got the ball back with 2:29 to play but couldn't get the game-tying score. Bulldogs defensive back Will Redmond intercepted Brandon Allen in the end zone with 15 seconds left to seal the victory.

It was Allen's only big mistake of the game. The junior QB threw for 238 yards on 22-of-43 passing. Collins was the team's leading rusher, with 93 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Prescott didn't have a great game, but he did little to hurt his Heisman Trophy chances. He wound up with 331 yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions in addition to 61 yards on the ground.

Mississippi State dodged a major bullet, but the best teams find a way to win even they aren't performing their best. For Arkansas, it's yet another heart-breaking defeat.

Bielema couldn't have asked for a better start from his team.

Arkansas took an early 3-0 lead with 9:50 left in the first quarter after a 36-yard field goal from sophomore Adam McFain.

The Razorbacks carried that slim advantage into the second quarter, which was the first time they'd done so in the SEC since last year's game against Mississippi State, per ESPN Stats & Info. Coincidentally, they lost that game, too:

Collins made it a double-digit game in the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown run. The key to any upset is capitalizing on mistakes, and that's what Arkansas did with the scoring drive. The Razorbacks had a short field after Bulldogs return man Jamoral Graham muffed a punt.

With the score, the top-ranked Bulldogs found themselves in a position foreign to them in 2014, per the SEC Network:

Arkansas' euphoria was short-lived, however, as Robinson barreled his way into the end zone from three yards out to cut the Bulldogs' deficit to three points, 10-7, with 7:30 until halftime. Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger credited Robinson and Prescott for their roles in helping Mississippi State score its first points:

Although the Razorbacks carried their 10-7 lead into the second half, there was a sense that the Bulldogs' best football was yet to come. Wess Moore of Fox 16 in Little Rock also wondered if Mississippi State's superior depth would play a role as the game went on:

Sophomore kicker Evan Sobiesk tied the game at 10-10 with a 37-yard field goal late in the third quarter. That set the stage for Prescott's go-ahead TD pass that proved decisive and kept the Bulldogs alive in the playoff hunt.

Mississippi State gets a bit of a warm-up game against Tennessee-Martin before taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Egg Bowl on Nov. 29 also looms large on the horizon.

Arkansas may have to wait for that first SEC win a little while longer. The Razorbacks play No. 19 LSU two weeks from today and follow that with a meeting against No. 4 Ole Miss.

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Laquon Treadwell Injury: Updates on Mississippi Star's Ankle and Recovery

Ole Miss star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was carted off the field in the fourth quarter of the team's game against the Auburn Tigers Saturday night with an apparent leg injury.

CBS Sports' Dane Brugler reported the injury:

John Zenor of the Associated Press reports how Treadwell left the field:

Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger had more detail:

Patrick Magee of the Sun Herald had more from Hugh Freeze after the game:

Treadwell appeared to injure his left ankle when his leg got caught under a defender. Ty Duffy of The Big Lead shows the play here. (Warning: Due to graphic nature of injury, video is NSFW).

The sophomore from Crete, Illinois, was in obvious pain as he went down with his team trailing 35-31 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

Treadwell was having a phenomenal game before being injured, hauling in 10 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. On the season, Treadwell has 48 catches for 632 yards and five touchdowns.

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