NCAA Football News

LSU vs. Arkansas: Live Score and Highlights

ARK 3, LSU (Early 1st Quarter)

The No. 17-ranked LSU Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks are under way at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark. 

Les Miles' team (7-3, 3-3 SEC) is coming off a 20-13 overtime loss to Alabama, while Bret Bielema's squad (4-5, 0-5) is in search of its first SEC win. 

Be sure to keep your browser locked to this live blog for updates, stats and commentary as the sixth-placed Tigers take on the seventh-placed Razorbacks. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Florida State vs. Miami: Live Score and Highlights

Florida State 0, Miami 0 — Early 1st quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 3 Florida State (9-0) and Miami (6-3). ABC is televising the matchup nationally from Sun Life Stadium.

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

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TCU vs. Kansas: Score and Twitter Reaction

In the space of a little over a minute, everything unraveled for the Kansas Jayhawks. A 27-17 lead over the fourth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs quickly turned into a 31-27 deficit near the end of the third quarter.

Kansas never recovered, and the Horned Frogs locked it down in the final frame to close out the 34-30 win in Lawrence.

Things were going well for the home team after a 78-yard touchdown pass from Michael Cummings to Nigel King gave the Jayhawks a 27-17 lead with 8:27 left in the third quarter. Cummings' pass was tipped up in the air, and King hauled it down with one hand before scampering to pay dirt.

Fox College Football's Twitter account posted video of the incredible catch-and-run:

That play pretty much summed up how the night was unfolding for Kansas. Fox Sports Southwest's David Ubben felt that catch was one of a few different plays throughout the game that signaled a Jayhawks upset:

TCU running back Aaron Green trimmed the deficit to three points, 27-24, with a 24-yard touchdown run. With 3:48 still remaining in the third quarter, Sports On Earth's Matt Brown felt that the Horned Frogs had more than enough time to get in a position for the win:

His tweet was incredibly prescient just moments later.

Fortunes took a turn toward disastrous for Kansas on the very next drive, as Cameron Echols-Luper returned a Jayhawks punt 69 yards for the go-ahead score. Echols-Luper's touchdown came a mere 70 seconds after Green's run, noted by Fox College Football:

Jaden Oberkrom added a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give TCU a 34-27 lead.

Kansas had a great chance to tie the game after Horned Frogs return man Trevorris Johnson fumbled a punt inside the red zone. The Jayhawks recovered the ball on the away team's 10-yard line. The TCU defense held strong, however, and limited Kansas to a 23-yard Matthew Wyman field goal.

The Jayhawks had one last chance for a potential game-winning drive with 4:09 to play after getting the ball on their own 11-yard line. But they only managed one first down before TCU safety Chris Hackett intercepted Cummings to secure the victory.

While he wasn't great, Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin likely bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy following the win. He threw for 330 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 26-of-36 passing.

Boykin is now the first QB in school history to have six career 300-yard passing games, per TCU Football:

Green also played extremely well for the Horned Frogs in place of the injured B.J. Catalon, carrying the ball 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

On the other side, the lack of a steady running game was one of the Jayhawks' biggest problems. They gained just 76 yards on the ground as a team. As a result, Cummings didn't have much offensive support and his 332-yard passing performance wasn't enough.

Despite the disappointing result, there's no question that this Kansas team was miles better than the one that lost 41-3 to Duke and 23-0 to Texas earlier in the year.

Before the game, Cummings talked about the impact interim head coach Clint Bowen had on the program. 

"When he initially took over, the atmosphere around the facility changed; the mojo of the team changed," the junior QB said, per ESPN.com's Brandon Chatmon. "It was like a 180, in a positive direction."

The old Jayhawks likely would've folded after surrendering a touchdown a little under 2:30 into the game.

TCU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after Boykin found Ty Slanina in the end zone from 27 yards out. Kansas made it 7-6 after a two-yard touchdown run from Corey Avery. The Horned Frogs blocked the point-after attempt to retain a slim advantage.

With 12:02 left until halftime, Kansas took its first lead following a TD pass from Cummings. A field goal from Oberkrom made it a three-point game, 13-10, heading into the second half. The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter before Green sparked TCU's comeback attempt.

Considering how badly this season's gone for the Jayhawks, a win over a Top Five team would've provided some much-needed joy to the Kansas fanbase.

Still, the fans should be encouraged by the team's performance, and Bowen took a major step toward shedding his interim tag, an assessment Andrew Baker of 6News-TV agrees with:

With the win, TCU keeps itself firmly in the playoff picture. A loss almost certainly would've eliminated the Horned Frogs from contention. It also still remains unclear as to what will happen in the event both Baylor and TCU finish with one loss.

The Bears own the head-to-head advantage, which would position them, according to ESPN's Jake Trotter, as the conference champion for playoff purposes in the event of a tie. However, the Horned Frogs have a slightly tougher nonconference schedule, which could sway the selection committee their way when the four-team playoff is announced.

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TCU vs. Kansas: How Horned Frogs' Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

For so much of No. 4 TCU's trip to Kansas on Saturday, the score turned heads around the country as the Horned Frogs' College Football Playoff hopes grew more and more remote. 

Shockingly enough, TCU trailed to one of the Big 12's worst teams by 10 points multiple times in the second half. But Trevone Boykin and Co. stepped up to the task late and pulled out a 34-30 victory.

Despite improving to 9-1 and 6-1 in conference play, the Horned Frogs gave critics plenty of reason to worry about TCU's championship aspirations. A win is a win, and TCU again added to its lofty total in that department—but style points are at at a premium at this point in the season, and the Horned Frogs certainly lost some on Saturday.

The pressure was on TCU after being put in the top four of the CFP rankings for the first time entering Week 12, and it showed as they struggled mightily against an opponent that the Big 12 elite have all throttled.

TCU remained very much in the mix for one of those four spots after avoiding a terrible upset, but teams like Arizona State, Alabama and even Baylor have the opportunity to jump the Horned Frogs even without them faltering on their own.

But the question surrounding TCU heading into Week 13 revolves around just how much this ugly victory will haunt them, as per ESPN's Brett McMurphy:

With some of those elite SEC and Pac-12 teams having better chances for quality wins down the stretch, TCU must get back to winning in impressive fashion to stay in the top four. Here's a look at the current CFP projections after the TCU game:

Saturday's result wasn't convincing like so many of TCU's games thus far, but continuing to win should be the Horned Frogs' chief concern. 

Gary Patterson's squad still remains ahead of Baylor, the only team to top them this season, and the Bears have upcoming games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State that prove tougher than TCU's remaining road. It wouldn't be wrong to assume Baylor will have a harder time winning out.

Without a loss from Baylor in one of those final games, however, the Bears will win the Big 12—which doesn't have a championship game—over TCU thanks to the tiebreaker. With that said, nothing would help TCU's chances more than a Baylor loss down the stretch.

It doesn't help TCU, either, that Baylor dominated this very same Kansas team, per Sporting News' Matt Hayes:

Another result that could doom the Horned Frogs was Alabama's win over Mississippi State. Should the Bulldogs win out and finish with one loss, it's more than likely that they would jump TCU due to more quality wins.

But first things first—TCU likely has to be the top Big 12 team to stay in the CFP conversation, and that means holding off Baylor.

If the Bears can pick up some style points in their final three games and hold off TCU for the conference title, the Horned Frogs might be left on the outside looking in. But with Oregon and Arizona State destined to play in the Pac-12 title and the SEC continuing to knock each other off, TCU remains very much in the hunt.

TCU will be keeping a close eye on its rivals from Waco, but convincing wins over Texas and Iowa State to close out the season would give the Horned Frogs a convincing case for one of the top four CFP spots.

But barely squeaking out a win against a team that Baylor absolutely throttled isn't a great look. 

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Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon Breaks Single Game FBS Rush Record with 26-Yard Run

Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon made history on Saturday against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, possibly having the greatest rushing performance in NCAA history.

On the final play of the third quarter, Gordon ran in this 26-yard touchdown, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson's 1999 record of 406 rushing yards in a single game. Through three quarters, Gordon had 408 yards and four touchdowns on just 25 carries.

The Badgers tweeted at the Heisman Trophy just to make sure that the voters were paying attention to the historic performance:

Tomlinson also tweeted to congratulate Gordon on breaking his record:

Former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball pointed out that a number of Badgers hold NCAA rushing records:

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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Melvin Gordon Breaks FBS Single-Game Rushing Record vs. Nebraska

Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon's case to win the Heisman Trophy got a major boost on Saturday. In an epic performance against Nebraska, the nation's leading rusher ran for an FBS single-game record 408 yards.

The previous record of 406 yards was set by LaDainian Tomlinson in 1999 while playing for the TCU Horned Frogs. Tomlinson congratulated Gordon on the record-breaking day:

Former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had his thoughts as well:

How big was Gordon's performance? Paul Myerberg of USA Today put the single-game tally in perspective: 

Coming into the game, Gordon already had 1,501 yards. At this point, a 2,000-yard season is a foregone conclusion.

Gordon blew by last season's year-end total of 1,609 yards in the first half on Saturday and kept pounding the Cornhuskers defense. Wisconsin still has two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, and the victory over Nebraska puts the team in the driver's seat for a berth in the Big Ten title game.

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2015 NFL Draft: 5 Lesser-Known Prospects Who Will Be 1st Rounders

Now that we're more than halfway through the 2014 college football season, it's time to start analyzing the prospects for the 2015 NFL draft.

With an ample body of work from players to go on, the assessments made at this stage in mid-November are going to be a lot more useful than ones from earlier in the fall. 

There are always a bunch of prospects who start to rise up the boards and make names for themselves this time of year, and this list focuses on them.

Here are five lesser-known prospects who will end up being first-round picks next May.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com taken before games on November 15.

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Texas vs. Oklahoma State: Live Score and Highlights

Texas 16, Oklahoma State 0—2nd Quarter

Nick Rose caps off Texas' third-straight scoring drive with a 51-yard field goal. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray have run the ball 11 times for 66 yards to pace the Longhorn offense.

You can catch tonight's action on FOX, and be sure to follow the box score at NCAA.com.

Keep up with this page for live updates, highlights and analysis of the action, then be sure to stick around to see game grades for both the Horns and Pokes.

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Auburn vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

Late Second Quarter

Georgia 14, Auburn 7

Georgia's offense is clicking on cylinders and the Bulldog defense has tightened up since allowing an opening-drive score.  How will Auburn respond before half-time?

Follow along here for live updates and analysis.

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Kansas WR Nigel King Scores on 78-Yard Tip-Drill TD Catch vs. TCU

Kansas wide receiver Nigel King was definitely focused, tipping a ball to himself multiple times before securing it and running it in for a 78-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

The score put the Jayhawks up 27-17, placing TCU in danger of dropping out of contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff with a loss. However, the Horned Frogs scored two quick touchdowns late in the third quarter, giving themselves a 31-27 lead heading into the fourth.

The Horned Frogs went on to win 34-30.

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Gus Johnson Goes Nuts During Arizona Fake Field Goal Against Washington

You're going to want to have the volume on for this.

Fox Sports announcer Gus Johnson was calling the game between the Washington Huskies and Arizona Wildcats on Saturday. In the second quarter, the Wildcats ran a fake field goal in for an 18-yard touchdown, with Johnson going crazy on the call.

The score helped Arizona draw to within three points of Washington, 17-14, with just over 90 seconds remaining in the first half. A late touchdown drive helped the Wildcats retake the lead, 21-17, right before halftime. 

[Vine, h/t The Big Lead]

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Ohio State Quickly Becoming Most Feared Dark Horse in CFB Playoff Chase

To quote former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora: Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?!

Yes, ever since Ohio State's monumental win over Michigan State a week ago, the first-ever College Football Playoff has been on everybody's mind in Columbus, with the Buckeyes climbing to eighth in the most recent selection committee poll.

And while Ohio State's 31-24 victory over No. 25 Minnesota on Saturday may have been a missed opportunity when it came to tacking on some style points, the Buckeyes continued to prove why they are one of college football's most dangerous teams.

"I'd like to see anybody in the country come up here and do this," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said following his team's win over the Golden Gophers. "Any team in the country that wants to schedule this one in November against a very good team: Have at it.

"That's our message."

No, the Buckeyes' margin of victory may not have been as impressive as some would have liked, but Ohio State still managed to score 31 points and compile 489 yards against not only Minnesota, but a steady stream of snow. The Buckeyes also had other opportunities to add to their total tally, but they were hampered by a pair of costly fumbles lost by redshirt freshman Jalin Marshall.

"He's too good of a player," Meyer said. "We've got to get that fixed."

But while Marshall—who led Ohio State in receiving with five catches for 95 yards and a touchdown—may have ultimately done more harm than good for the Buckeyes, his play was ultimately overshadowed by one of his more high-profile classmates.

J.T. Barrett firmly cemented his name as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender on Saturday, totaling 389 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in the Ohio State win. Barrett's 189 rushing yards were critical in the Buckeyes sustaining drives in the inclement weather and were also the most ever in a single game by an Ohio State quarterback.

"He's a tough guy," Meyer said of the redshirt freshman signal-caller. "In these kind of conditions, there's only a few people who you want to touch the ball...a great game by him."

Barrett's great game included a dazzling 86-yard touchdown run to give the the Buckeyes the first score of the game in the first quarter, as well as three touchdown throws, including a 57-yard toss to Marshall.

With his efforts, Barrett eclipsed Braxton Miller's single-season school record for touchdowns accounted for with four games likely left on Ohio State's schedule, as the Buckeyes quarterback is now on pace to tally 4,065 total yards and 49 touchdowns over the course of 13 games.

And while those numbers would more than likely land Barrett in New York City in the second weekend of December as a Heisman Trophy finalist, they speak just as much to the overall success that Ohio State has found since suffering its Week 2 defeat to Virginia Tech.

Despite navigating a choppy schedule that has included two byes in a four-week span and only two home games in seven weeks, the Buckeyes have become one of the hottest teams in the country, rattling off eight consecutive wins, including last weekend's statement over the Spartans.

Ohio State has jumped from 16th to 14th to eighth in the playoff rankings in the past three weeks and could be poised for another leap depending on the outcome of the remainder of Saturday's slate.

Yes, the Buckeyes are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff, based on a perceived soft schedule (ranked 43rd in the country as of Saturday) and the scarlet letter that's become their loss to the now 5-5 Hokies, who beat No. 21 Duke on Saturday.

But with games against Indiana and Michigan remaining, Ohio State is one inevitable win away from clinching a trip to Indianapolis, where the Buckeyes will have the opportunity to make one final case to the playoff committee in the Big Ten Championship Game.

But if the committee is selecting the four best teams and not the four best resumes, the Buckeyes should already be in that discussion. With an offense that could compete with any defense in the country—whether it be Alabama or Michigan State—Ohio State is hitting its stride at the right time and may be the team that no one wants to face by the end of the season.

"Outstanding," Meyer said of the current mood of his locker room. "Like we're one win away from winning the [Big Ten] East championship. That's what it's like."

Where that lands the Buckeyes in the eyes of the playoff committee won't be known until Tuesday, but anybody who's watched this Ohio State team since September knows one truth that was solidified a week ago in East Lansing and only furthered today in Minneapolis: It's for real. And it's only getting better.

 

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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Alabama's Amari Cooper Grabs 50-Yard Pass Between 2 Mississippi State Defenders

Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper has been a stud all season, and he certainly didn't slow down against the top-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday.

In the second quarter, Cooper snagged this throw from senior quarterback Blake Sims for 50 yards, putting the Crimson Tide at the 1-yard line. They scored a touchdown the next play to go up 19-0.

Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter recently compared Cooper to Randy Moss. After seeing him make a catch like that between two defenders, it's easy to understand why.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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South Carolina vs. Florida: Game Grades, Analysis for Gamecocks and Gators

The University of South Carolina was able to rally from seven points down late in the fourth quarter to defeat the University of Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The final box score can be found here, thanks to NCAA.com.

South Carolina was able to jump to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter. But the Gators responded with 17 unanswered points and looked as if they were going to secure the win in the fourth quarter. But due to special teams miscues, the Gators let the game slip away in overtime and are now eliminated from the SEC East race.

Here are my game grades and analysis for the Gamecocks and the Gators.

Passing Offense

Dylan Thompson started off strong with over 100 passing yards in the first quarter. But the Florida defense made adjustments after that, and Thompson could never get in a rhythm. He finished the game with 206 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, which is not a usual performance from him. But he was going up against a very aggressive Florida defensive line led by Dante Fowler and Bryan Cox Jr. It would have been surprising if he threw for over 270 yards.

 

Running Offense

It was not a great day for the Gamecocks when it came to the ground game. The team only rushed for 95 yards and averaged 2.5 yards per carry. But Mike Davis did run hard in the limited amount of carries that he got and scored the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Thompson scored the game-winning touchdown off a read option. So despite not racking up the rushing yards, the Gamecocks did score all their touchdowns on the ground.

 

Passing Defense

The Gamecocks did not have to do a lot when it came to pass defense because the Gators only threw the ball 11 times. Florida quarterback Treon Harris only had 60 passing yards because he was playing with an injured hand. The two things that were good to see were Sharrod Golightly getting half a sack and J.T. Surratt getting a quarterback hurry. The defense has struggled all season long, and getting any pressure on a guy like Harris is not easy to do.

 

Running Defense

Florida has really gotten the running game going over the last few weeks, and today was no different. The Gators ran for 218 yards, and Harris had about half of them. The Gamecocks did not let Matt Jones or Kelvin Taylor run wild, but the speed of Harris was too much for South Carolina. However, South Carolina was able to tighten things up in overtime, which led to a big win.

 

Special Teams

Kicker Elliott Fry was 1-of-2 on field-goal attempts, the punting game was solid and the coverage teams did their job. But the special teams get a high grade because they blocked a punt and blocked a field goal to get the team back in the game. It’s rare for a team to get one blocked kick in a game, but two in the same quarter is unheard of. And that’s why coaches preach good play in special teams all the time.

 

Coaching

Whenever Steve Spurrier wants to win a game badly, he will do whatever it takes to outcoach his opponent. And while the Gators would have won had it not been for the miscues on special teams, Spurrier was able to work his magic late in the fourth quarter and in overtime to win the contest. It has not been a good year for Spurrier, but the win today at his former school makes things a little sweeter moving forward.

Passing Offense

Because the Gators like to the run the ball, they are not going to pass the ball 20 times a game. However, only 11 passing attempts won't win a lot of ball games. Harris only threw for 60 yards and was 5-of-11. He was playing with an injured hand, but if the Gators want to win out the rest of the season, Harris will need to be more efficient when throwing the ball downfield.

 

Running Offense

It was another day at the office for the ground game, as the Gators rushed for 218 yards on 49 carries. Jones and Taylor were solid, but it was Harris that was the workhorse with 111 yards on 20 carries. The ground game could have been more dominant in the fourth quarter. If the Gators would have been able to burn the clock a little more with the ground game, they would have won.

 

Passing Defense

Credit goes to the Gators defense for not letting Thompson get into a rhythm. Led by Fowler, the Florida defensive line pressured Thompson all game long, and the South Carolina offense was dead until late in the game. Despite the team's record, the defense is one of the better ones in the conference because of how it can get after the quarterback and defend passes.

 

Running Defense

The run defense was no slouch either, as it allowed the Gamecocks to run for 95 yards. Linebacker Antonio Morrison was all over the place as he recorded 16 tackles, while Neiron Ball was right behind him with nine. The linebackers and the secondary were able to make their reads and not miss tackles at the point of attack. But the one thing they have to get better at is preventing rushing touchdowns, as the Gamecocks scored all three touchdowns on the ground.

 

Special Teams

It was not a bad day for the special teams—at least for three quarters. But the fourth quarter is what did them in, thanks to the blocked punt and blocked field goal in consecutive tries. Those miscues can’t happen once in a game because they can be very costly. But when two blocked kicks happen in the same quarter, it’s never a good sign. Those two incidents should be an area of focus when the Gators hit the practice field next week.

 

Coaching

Will Muschamp has been calling great games the last two weeks, and it was the same story against the Gamecocks. But he should have been more aggressive in the play-calling, especially in the fourth quarter. As good as the Gators looked the last two weeks, they looked just as bad in the final stages of this game. And it falls on the coaching staff. Muschamp needs to win out in order to have a chance to be back next year.

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Melvin Gordon Hurdles Defender on Sideline, Scores 62-Yard TD

Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon continues to help out his NFL draft stock with incredible runs like this one.

Gordon showed off his impressive acceleration by sprinting down the sideline, then hurdled to avoid a defender for a 62-yard touchdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The touchdown was Gordon's 20th on the ground this season, but the Badgers were still down 17-10 after the play.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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

A week after registering its best win of the season, No. 8 Ohio State University (9-1) looked a bit sloppy in a 31-24 victory over No. 25 University of Minnesota (7-3) Saturday afternoon.

The Buckeyes were able to overcome the frigid Minneapolis conditions to pile up 489 yards of total offense, but the Gophers turned three turnovers into 21 points in a closer-than-expected seven-point game.

Ohio State was still able to come out with an important road victory over a Top 25 team. Here's how the Buckeyes graded out. 

Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: J.T. Barrett struggled with his accuracy in the frigid Minneapolis cold, completing 15 of 25 passes against an experienced Gophers secondary. He was productive, though, throwing for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

A badly overthrown ball in the first quarter was picked off and gave Minnesota life in the first half, and a fumble from Jalin Marshall going into the end zone on a shovel pass took points off the board. Those were the only gaffes in an otherwise solid performance. Marshall is starting to emerge as a serious threat in the Buckeyes’ passing attack, as he caught five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Run Offense: It was safe to assume Ohio State would try to establish the run game in the cold conditions, and Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott did that in a big way. The two combined for 280 yards on 35 carries, but it was Barrett who owned the day. His 86-yard touchdown run in the first quarter set the tone, as the Buckeyes averaged an impressive 7.6 yards per carry.

Pass Defense: Minnesota’s passing attack came into the game as one of the worst in the country, ranking 120th nationally with 140.2 yards per game. The Buckeyes made the Gophers look even worse, allowing just 85 passing yards to Mitch Leidner while coming up with two interceptions. Leidner only completed 36.8 percent of his passes, and he couldn't get anything going as the Gophers tried to rally from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit. 

Run Defense: For the second straight week, Ohio State had trouble stopping a strong, bulldozing running back. Last week, it was Michigan State University's Jeremy Langford who dashed through the Buckeyes defense. On Saturday, David Cobb gashed Ohio State with 145 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 27 carries. The Buckeyes did a better job against Cobb in the second half, limiting him to 49 yards on the ground. But it didn't take away from his fantastic outing. 

Special Teams: Ohio State's struggles continued against Minnesota on Saturday. Sean Nuernberger connected on his only field-goal attempt from 22 yards out, but the usually solid Cameron Johnston had a tough day, averaging just 36.8 yards on four punts. Arguably the biggest mistake of the day came in the fourth quarter when Marshall muffed a punt inside Ohio State's 15-yard line. Minnesota pounced on it and cashed in with a Cobb touchdown run two plays later.

Coaching: Urban Meyer and the coaching staff came in with a solid game plan, and Ohio State executed it pretty well on Saturday. The Buckeyes got things going on the ground and pounded their way to nearly 300 yards, which was pivotal in the cold conditions. The Buckeyes have a solid defensive scheme as well, limiting the Gophers to just 303 total yards. It was the three turnovers that made this game appear closer than it really was. 

 

All stats via NCAA.com.

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

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J.T. Barrett Belongs in the Heisman Discussion After Record-Setting Game

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett had a record-breaking afternoon in the Buckeyes' gritty 31-24 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday. He set a new Ohio State quarterback rushing record with 189 yards.

With the huge performance, Barrett launched himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion.

Bleacher Report college football analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer brok Barrett's monster performance.

Should Barrett be in the Heisman discussion?

Check out the video and let us know!       

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With Little Help from QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State Is Now Bowl Eligible

Saturday afternoon, Penn State achieved a significant milestone given the program’s troubled recent history. The Nittany Lions’ 30-13 rout of Temple secured Penn State’s first bowl bid since the 2011 season, when they dropped a 30-14 decision to Houston in Dallas’ TicketCity Bowl.

But they did it with little help from one of their most important players, sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg. And if the Lions hope to end the season with their first bowl victory since a 19-17 win over LSU in the 2010 Capital One Bowl, they’ll need a stronger all-around effort, most notably from Hackenberg.

Following a strong freshman season that saw him throw for 2,955 yards with 20 touchdowns against 10 interceptions, the Nittany Lions’ sophomore quarterback has taken a major step backward in 2014.

Saturday, Hackenberg had his worst statistical game of the season, completing 12 of 26 passes for 112 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. On the season, he has thrown just seven touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

It was his worst passing-yardage game of the season and tied his season low for completions (set earlier in the season against Massachusetts and replicated last week against Indiana). After throwing for 454, 319 and 309 yards in the Lions’ first three games this season, Hackenberg hasn’t cracked the 225-yard barrier since, throwing for less than 200 yards five times in seven contests.

An inexperienced, leaky offensive line is partially to blame—Hackenberg has been sacked 39 times this season after being sacked just 21 times in 12 games last year—but he also must make better decisions, as his increased interception total suggests.

Penn State’s ground game gave Hackenberg help Saturday, as Akeel Lynch and Bill Belton combined for 222 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries.

The Lions defense was impressive, too, highlighted by Grant Haley’s pick-six interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

And senior kicker Sam Ficken has been strong all season, making 22 of 26 field-goal attempts. His final-play field goal won the season opener against Central Florida, and he has 87 points on the season, or 40.8 percent of the Lions' total points.

The Lions just need Hackenberg to be better and display the strong arm and confidence that he flashed in abundance last season. The NCAA’s decision to rescind the final two seasons of the postseason ban imposed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal restored some hope and excitement to Happy Valley.

Now that bowl eligibility is a reality, Penn State can focus on finishing the season strong. With hapless Illinois next on the schedule, a mid-range bowl bid is possible. To make the most of it, Hackenberg must find a way to improve quickly.

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How South Carolina's Comeback Win vs. Florida Impacts Will Muschamp's Job Status

Coming into Saturday's showdown with South Carolina, Florida hadn't had a three-game winning streak since it beat Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas in late September and early October 2013. 

Florida had the chance to change that Saturday, but special teams blunders and an unlucky bounce brought back the angst, animosity and frustration that has been building in Gainesville for nearly two seasons.

The Gators fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks 23-20 in overtime Saturday afternoon in The Swamp, dropping them to 5-4 (4-4 SEC) on the season and eliminating any outside chance they had at winning the SEC East via a three-team tiebreaker.

The loss once again fires up head coach Will Muschamp's hot seat, which had cooled off a bit in recent weeks after back-to-back wins. And Muschamp knows it, according to Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel.

It wasn't pretty.

Using a one-dimensional offense that featured 49 rushing attempts and only 11 pass plays, Florida was on the brink of extending its lead to make it a two-score game with 3:31 to go. But a 32-yard field goal from Francisco Velez was blocked by Brison Williams to give South Carolina a chance. 

The Gamecocks didn't capitalize. 

Florida stopped South Carolina on 4th-and-10 and got the ball back with a chance to drain the clock. But after a drive went nowhere, Kyle Christy's punt was blocked with 39 seconds left to give the Gamecocks another opportunity.

South Carolina punched it in on a speed option that featured a bad snap and a fumbled pitch to force overtime, before quarterback Dylan Thompson strolled into the end zone during the bottom of the first overtime to finish off the Gators.

Just how bad was it for Muschamp?

Even South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier—who came into the game with four straight conference losses himself—felt bad for him, via Josh Kendall of The State:

Not only did Spurrier finish off the Gators, he likely finished off Muschamp's Florida career—as the SEC Network's Paul Finebaum notes:

Muschamp needed to beat South Carolina and get help to win the SEC East, but now that's as probable as it is that Muschamp is Florida's head coach next year.

As in 0 percent.

Sure, the defense held the Gamecocks to just 301 total yards, but defense has never been the issue in Gainesville. Even last year, as the Gators were sputtering to a 4-8 record, they finished second in the SEC in total defense (314.3 yards per game).

After another year of a stagnant offense, Muschamp inserted quarterback Treon Harris into the lineup hoping that he could provide a spark. He hasn't been an interception machine, which is a marked improvement from his predecessor Jeff Driskel. But it's clear that the coaches don't trust him to stretch the field, and being one-dimensional in the SEC is a recipe for disaster. 

That's exactly what happened Saturday afternoon.

Florida's issues weren't fixed in the Gators' two previous victories, they were just masked in the Georgia and Vanderbilt games. 

The coaching staff is forced to coach not to lose when up late since the team isn't equipped to do anything else. Because of that, even South Carolina—which came in as the worst defense in the SEC—could load the box and shut down the run when it needed to. 

The margin for error was so small coming into the season, and the way Florida won and lost in 2014 was probably more important to athletics director Jeremy Foley than the win-loss record. Unfortunately for Muschamp, the hurry-up, no-huddle system of new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper hasn't done anything to kick-start the offense

As a result, the Gators are still left searching for answers—and possibly a new head coach.

After all, their current one is most known for coaching players who block each other.

 

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

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

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J.T. Barrett vs. Minnesota: Stat Line, Heisman Impact and Reaction

Ohio State's slim margin of victory against Minnesota in a snowy Saturday contest may not have done much for the team's College Football Playoff chances, but freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett's performance certainly looked Heisman worthy.

The Buckeyes signal-caller may be viewed as a long shot to claim the coveted trophy as long as players such as Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott continue to play at a high level; however, after completing 15 of his 25 passing attempts for 198 yards, three touchdowns and one interception while rushing 17 times for 189 yards and another score, Barrett may have slightly narrowed the gap.

Barrett has been a dangerous dual-threat quarterback throughout the season, and his prowess on the ground led to a new team record, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

That wasn't the only school record Barrett set Saturday. His total touchdowns this season are also a new team high, according to CBS Sports CFB:

Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod added that the quarterback is just one passing touchdown away from another impressive mark:

What's significant about that feat? Troy Smith won the Heisman in 2006 with the Buckeyes. Barrett is poised to blow Smith's performance out of the water. That's quite impressive for a quarterback who only started the season due to a devastating injury to Braxton Miller.

Analysts are already weighing in on Twitter with their thoughts on Barrett's potential to be a Heisman finalist. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports appears to think he's in line for a trip to New York:

Axelrod thinks Barrett is a name away from being a Heisman front-runner:

So, how far off from Heisman contention is the Ohio State quarterback?

Coming into Week 12 of the college football season, ESPN released its top Heisman candidates and their corresponding votes. Here's a look at the 10 players who made the list:

If Barrett is to move his way up the list, his numbers will need to reflect Mariota's. After all, Oregon's quarterback is currently the consensus front-runner and is setting the tone for this year's race.

Following Barrett's performance against Minnesota, the numbers are closer than you'd think:

Ohio State's offense is firing on all cylinders right now, and Barrett continues to show improvement with every passing game. That has become wildly apparent of late, as the quarterback orchestrated a total of 80 points over his last two contests against the stout defenses of Michigan State and Minnesota.

With two games remaining on the Buckeyes schedule, Barrett must make the most of his opportunities. A susceptible Indiana team is next on the slate, and Ohio State finishes off the regular season with a contest against Michigan.

He'll be afforded a chance to continue climbing up the Heisman ranks, and if he continues on his current pace, we could be hearing his name called in New York. 

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