NCAA Football News

Don't Look Now, but Georgia Might Be New Favorite in SEC

While the SEC West steals headlines, the Georgia Bulldogs are quietly positioning themselves for a run at their first SEC Championship since 2005.

The Dawgs may not receive the benefit of the doubt like resident powers Alabama and Auburn, and they certainly aren’t an inspirational Cinderella-like, fairy-tale-like Mississippi and Mississippi State, but head coach Mark Richt’s squad has flown under the radar to a 6-1 record and a 4-1 mark in conference play. 

And for Georgia, there’s no reason to expect its existing formula for success to expire over the coming weeks.  After all, a heavy dose of running and an ever-improving defense is hard to argue with—especially against one of the more manageable remaining schedules in the conference.

When junior running back Todd Gurley was suspended indefinitely before the Missouri game, fans assumed the worst about Georgia’s offense.  Quarterback Hutson Mason and the Bulldogs passing game had been solid but hardly spectacular, and the fear was that the offense would stall out without its workhorse. 

To the contrary, Gurley’s plight opened the door for a new star, true freshman Nick Chubb. Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph shared Chubb's stats thus far in comparison to Gurley's:

In two games as the starting tailback, Chubb has carried the football 68 times for 345 yards and three touchdowns.  Most importantly, however, the Georgia offense has rolled on.  Through seven games (all against FBS oppositions), Georgia is averaging more than 43 points per game. 

But if “more of the same” has been the testimony of Georgia’s offense as of late, “less of the same” has been the rallying cry for the defense.  And fewer old mistakes, broken plays and general mishaps is certainly a good look for coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s defense. Coach Mark Richt expressed how pleased he was with the Bulldogs' first-half performance, courtesy of the Athens Banner-Herald's Marc Weiszer:

Arkansas put together several late-scoring drives on Saturday afternoon, but it was too little too late, thanks to a stellar effort in the first half by the Georgia defense. 

And while Chubb’s steady onslaught of offensive production was hard to ignore, so was the Bulldogs defense, which held the Razorbacks to just six first-half points.  Though perhaps that type of production should have been expected immediately following a road shutout against the Missouri Tigers.

In the SEC parity is king, and this year is exemplary of that concept.  When chaos rules, however, consistency has a chance to prevail.  The two constants for Georgia—an unaltered ability to run the football and continual improvements on the defensive side of the ball—could make the Bulldogs the surprise of the season’s second half.

All but written off following a road loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks in Week 3, this Georgia team could turn its lurking into hot pursuit over its final five games, four of which will come against currently unranked opposition. 

With or without Gurley, it’s hard to deny the Bulldogs' path to the SEC Championship Game is relatively favorable.  A rivalry game with Florida is never an easy calling, but an extra week to prepare as well as the Gators’ generally haphazard state should bode well for the Bulldogs. 

Kentucky has impressed early, but the Wildcats seem unlikely to upset Georgia.  And even the matchup with Auburn, the defending conference champion, could shake out favorably, thanks to home-field advantage for the Red and Black.

That remaining slate is decidedly more navigable than the road ahead for other SEC contenders.  Mississippi State may have a No. 1 ranking, but it also has two remaining road games against Top 10 opponents (Alabama and Ole Miss). 

Ole Miss still has a trip to LSU and a home game against Auburn on its schedule, not to mention the Egg Bowl.  In addition to these games, Alabama and Auburn still have to play each other as well. 

And in a year in which no one team has looked consistently dominant, the gauntlet among the top half of the SEC West could be crippling—not just to one team but to all of them.

So while Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn steal headlines and trade punches, don’t be surprised to see another team slowly working up the polls, racking up wins and improving upon its already fortified strengths.  And don’t be stunned to see that team, the Georgia Bulldogs, sneak out as the top team in the conference.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all stats courtesy of

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Watch All 8 of Alabama's TDs vs. Texas A&M in Under 60 Seconds

Reports of the demise of the Alabama offense have been greatly exaggerated. On Saturday, the Crimson Tide offense was just as explosive and dominating as it has ever been in a 59-0 victory over Texas A&M.

Early on, Alabama extinguished any hopes the Aggies had with an all-out offensive blitz. The Tide scored on every one of their seven first-half possessions, recording six touchdowns and a field goal.

That attack naturally slowed down in the second half since the contest was essentially over, but Alabama still notched two more touchdowns to raise its tally to eight. Watch every one of those eight in the video above.

Was this Alabama's best game?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Arkansas Football: Will Razorbacks Win an SEC Game in 2014?

A week ago, it appeared that Arkansas had turned a corner —or was about to—in the SEC West.

The Razorbacks pushed No. 7 Alabama to the absolute brink in a 14-13 defeat, which came only two weeks after they dropped a 35-28 overtime decision to Texas A&M that saw them blow a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead. 

It was only a matter of time before they broke through and, at the very least, won an SEC game. Right?

But following Saturday’s 45-32 loss to No. 10 Georgia (in which the Bulldogs built a 32-point lead before a late rally), it’s fair to wonder: Will Arkansas win an SEC game this season?

The Razorbacks’ last SEC victory came on Oct. 13, 2012, a 49-7 win over Kentucky with interim coach John L. Smith at the helm.

Saturday’s defeat extended that string to 17 games, which will only enhance the pressure on second-year head coach Bret Bielema.

Arkansas has four SEC games remaining, with two of them against teams currently in the Top Three nationally (No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 3 Ole Miss).

Bielema’s team was competitive against both teams a year ago, dropping a 34-24 decision to Ole Miss and a 24-17 overtime loss to the Bulldogs.

The Rebels’ trip to Arkansas comes a week before what could be a titanic Egg Bowl showdown with Mississippi State that might have SEC title and College Football Playoff implications, and Ole Miss will surely be on upset alert in Fayetteville.

But it’s difficult to expect Bielema’s bunch to give either team a serious push.

That leaves two opportunities: Nov. 15 vs. LSU in Fayetteville and Nov. 28 at Missouri.

A year ago, Arkansas led a good LSU team 27-24 in Baton Rouge with one minute, 15 seconds remaining and the Tigers pinned inside their own 1-yard line. But backup quarterback Anthony Jennings led a 99-yard drive capped by a 49-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural for a 31-27 win.

The Tigers have taken a step back this season and are clearly the fifth- to sixth-best team in the SEC West. And this time, they’re coming to Razorback Stadium.

If Arkansas can get its potent ground game going against LSU’s defense and harass Jennings, there’s a decent chance the SEC losing streak could end there.

If not, it falls to a Black Friday regular-season finale at Missouri. The border rivals have not met since the 2008 Cotton Bowl, a 38-7 Mizzou win, and this game could carry particular meaning for Bielema.

The Tigers do not look like the same team that won the SEC East a year ago, losing to Big Ten doormat Indiana and suffering an ugly 34-0 defeat at Georgia’s hands. Sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk entered the Florida game with 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions, throwing four picks against the Bulldogs.

But Mizzou will not be an easy out at Faurot Field, especially if the Tigers are playing for postseason positioning.

If Bielema ends 2014 winless in SEC play, the program’s SEC losing streak will stand at 20 games entering 2015. In the nation’s most competitive division, that’s a difficult stat to stomach.

While it stands to reason that he’ll get a third season, if Arkansas finishes this season without any league success, the pressure on Bielema entering 2015 will be white-hot.

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Georgia vs. Arkansas: Score and Twitter Reaction

No Todd Gurley, no problem.

No. 10 University of Georgia rode a 31-point second-quarter outburst to a 45-32 win over SEC-rival Arkansas at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas. The win improves the Bulldogs' record to 6-1 overall (4-1 SEC), while Arkansas dips below .500 with a 3-4 record (0-4 SEC).

Running back Nick Chubb—the lead ballcarrier on the day with Gurley suspended indefinitely, per's Joe Schad—finished the game with 33 carries for 212 yards and two touchdowns. His performance bodes well for Georgia's ability to stay in control of a relatively weak SEC East division.

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

Arkansas came into the game boasting two straight standout performances against Texas A&M and Alabama that yes, resulted in losses, but had many considering them a dangerous opponent for a Georgia team forging ahead without it's best overall player in Gurley.

The Razorbacks did end up drawing first blood in this game, with running back Alex Collins plunging in from the 1-yard line midway through the first quarter to cap off a 13-play, 75-yard drive. Georgia blocked the ensuing PAT kick, although the missed opportunity would not matter much when all was said and done.

Bulldogs quarterback Hunter Mason answered right back with a rare rushing touchdown of his own to give Georgia a 7-6 lead they would hold until the end of the first quarter. A field goal extended the Bulldogs advantage to 10-7 early in the second, the first trickle before the floodgates opened.  

Chubb went to work, making his first headline-grabbing play with a 43-yard touchdown run. SEC Network provided a look at the play:

He scored on the Bulldogs next possession from three yards out, making the score 24-6 for the away side.'s Jake Rowe felt the Arkansas secondary wanted to be as far away from the hard-running Chubb as possible:

The Razorbacks could get nothing going on offense, and a Collins fumble led to a quick seven-yard scoring toss from Mason to senior wideout Michael Bennett.

The Georgia secondary put in a fine performance, forcing Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen to settle for checkdown routes and quick hitters. Allen would finish the game averaging just __ yards per attempt. 94.1 FM's Brandon Allbright assessed Allen's performance and deemed him unfit for SEC football:

All hope seemed lost when Georgia cornerback Dominick Sanders returned an Allen fumble 51 yards for a touchdown, gifting the Bulldogs a 38-6 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who put himself in great position to make plays all night, earned credited for the sack and forced fumble.

ESPN's Edward Aschoff considered the game a foregone conclusion at this point:

The Bulldogs defense deserved a ton of credit for their first half performance, limiting running back Jonathan Williams and company to their lowest first-half rushing total of the season, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Georgia indeed appeared to let up in the second half, but Arkansas head coach Brent Bielema deserves a ton of credit for getting his team to compete at a higher level despite the discouraging scoreline. Allen engineered a 12-play drive culminating in an eight-yard scoring toss to Keon Hatcher. Four minutes later, another Allen touchdown pass, this time to Hunter Henry, cut Georgia's lead to 38-19.

He would make a crucial mistake at the beginning of the fourth quarter, tossing an interception to sophomore safety Quincy Mauger that set up 36-yard touchdown pass from Mason to wideout Chris Conley.

Georgia's defense was relenting a bit in the second half, but ESPN's David Pollack took time to single out Jenkins for praise:

Allen, displaying an incredible amount of grit and toughness, tossed his third touchdown of the second half just three minutes later, this time to freshman wide receiver Kendrick Edwards. Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette noted it was the latest they had scored against an SEC team this season:

Allen then took his offense on a 90-yard drive that ended with another Collins score, cutting the Bulldogs once seemingly insurmountable lead to 13 with just five minutes remaining. The shocking touchdown drive put a jolt into this contest, but Chubb had other ideas.

The freshman tailback killed off the remaining time on the clock, carrying the ball eight times and picking up four first downs in the process.

Arkansas may very well be the best team in the FBS with a losing record. They have no chance of escaping the SEC West cellar at this point, but are well set up to win in the future with Bielema in charge.

The win proved Georgia will remain competitive without Gurley, and they should have the inside track on coming out on top in the SEC East, although the top team from the conference will likely emerge from a West division that features the likes of Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama.

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Oklahoma State vs. TCU: Score and Twitter Reaction

TCU took notice of the Big 12 breaking wide open early on Week 8 Saturday and took advantage, thrashing the Oklahoma State Cowboys at home, 42-9.

As usual, it was TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin leading the way offensively for the Horned Frogs. He had a career day through the air, going for 410 passing yards on 26-of-39 passing with three touchdowns and 41 more yards on the ground.

ESPN SportsCenter capped up the result:

Two touchdown tosses of over 75 yards in the first quarter set TCU up for a big offensive day, and three first-half field goals from the Cowboys weren't enough to stop the bleeding. The Horned Frogs kept piling it on in the second half, racking up 675 total yards in what was their third straight game against a top-15 foe.

Here's a look at the final box score:

Questions surrounded head coach Gary Patterson's defense after giving up a 21-point fourth-quarter lead at Baylor last weekend, and the defensive guru took blame for the performance per TCU's official site while acknowledging sometimes those games just happen.

"Obviously, I want to play great defense. You have to be able to even the playing field, and maybe we have to get used to winning 45-31. Sometimes you get into those ball games. I don't know how you prepare for that to happen. There's only one person you can blame, and that's me."

But it ultimately comes down to the players, and Patterson's defense had his back by setting the tone early.

TCU intercepted Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman—one of his two picks on the day—on Oklahoma State's second drive, and also forced three first-quarter punts. Nearly every time they gave the ball back to the offense early, it paid off.

B.J. Catalon turned the interception into a 34-yard touchdown the very next play, and Boykin connected with Josh Doctson for 77 yards before hitting Doctson again for an 84-yard score on the very next drive. 

Doctson was a star early, as ESPN's Adam Rittenberg noted:

On the team's first four drives, three went for touchdowns and the efficiency was even more impressive as SB Nation's Matt Hinton noted:

What's more, Boykin's banged-up wrist looked just fine, per ESPN's Jake Trotter:

Of course, it wasn't like TCU absolutely shut down Mike Gundy's team. The Cowboys did get into the red zone three times in the opening half.

But all three of those red zone opportunities ended with field goals, when touchdowns were needed to trim the gap. 

With the Cowboys going for field goal after field goal, the defense needed to tighten up. Instead, well, nothing changed other than TCU holding onto the ball a bit more before scoring. A seven-play, 85-yard drive ended with Catalon rushing in from 35 yards out.

Boykin's greatness was at the center of TCU's success, easily churning out first downs with his arms and legs. Ben Kercheval of Bleacher Report jumped on board:

A 28-9 halftime deficit allowed Oklahoma State to still hold a fighting chance, but that was quickly squashed on the opening drive of the second half. The Horned Frogs took it to their opponent via a 14-play, 79-yard drive that drained 5:11 off the clock and ended in a Deante Gray touchdown catch to make it 35-9.

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit liked what he saw from TCU in a bounce-back performance:

With the victory in hand, TCU's ridiculous offensive pace continued. The next time it got the ball, TCU ripped off another more than five-minute drive and took a 42-9 lead on Aaron Green's four-yard run.

Spectacularly, TCU could have blown it open even more late. The Horned Frogs entered the red zone twice in the fourth quarter, not scoring on either trip.

But it didn't much matter. By then, there was no doubt that the Horned Frogs were going to win big and the only question was how much of a blowout it would be. 

The victory spoke volumes for TCU's resume, but it also took some folks back who saw then-No. 1 Florida State struggle mightily against the Cowboys earlier this season, per James Crepea of The Montgomery Adviser:

The TCU bandwagon was abandoned after the Baylor defeat. But with the results around them in Saturday's Big 12 slate, TCU could be on the verge of a chance at the College Football Playoff after all. 

No. 4 Baylor was toppled by West Virginia on the road, dropping it from the unbeaten. Oklahoma was beat by Kansas State to fall to two Big 12 losses, leaving the Wildcats as the only team unbeaten in conference play. 

TCU will have a chance to beat Kansas State at home on Nov. 8. If the Horned Frogs win there and continue to win out, all they need is one more Baylor loss and they'll be in the Big 12 driver's seat. But first things first, the Horned Frogs face Texas Tech at home next weekend.

As for Oklahoma State, it still has plenty of chances to shake things up in the conference with meetings against Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma coming. The Cowboys could turn things around quickly against West Virginia next weekend, but they'll be licking their wounds after Saturday's beating.

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Should the Georgia Bulldogs Be a College Football Playoff Dark Horse?

The Georgia Bulldogs continued their strong play Saturday to win in impressive fashion over the Arkansas Razorbacks, 45-32.

Nick Chubb, who replaced suspended star RB Todd Gurley, had another big day. The freshman rushed for 202 yards and two scores to lead Georgia to its fifth straight win. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down Georgia's chances moving forward. 

With No. 6-ranked Auburn still looming on the schedule, are the Bulldogs a dark horse contender for the College Football Playoff?

Watch the video and let us know!

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

Urban Meyer and No. 13 Ohio State continued to roll on Saturday, blasting Rutgers in a 56-17 blowout in Ohio Stadium. 

The Buckeyes continued its surge offensively, piling up 585 yards of total offense. The defense, which is starting to click under new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, held Gary Nova and a dynamic Rutgers offense to just 348 total yards.

How did Ohio State grade out from the 39-point victory?


Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: J.T. Barrett got Ohio State’s passing attack off to a fast start, connecting on his first nine passes to five different receivers. He continued to spread around as nine different pass-catchers hauled in receptions on Saturday. Barrett finished the day completing 19 of 31 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns (against no interceptions).

Run Offense: Ohio State’s offensive line continued to open holes for the running backs, but most of the damage was done by Barrett. The Buckeyes quarterback piled up 107 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground—leading an attack that gained 324 total yards on the day. The Buckeyes averaged 8.1 yards per rush, continuing its surge of solid rushing performances.

Pass Defense: Buckeyes fans were nervous about Ohio State's pass defense after Cincinnati torched the secondary with three long touchdown passes. But since then, the Buckeyes have done a good job locking down opposing quarterbacks. Gary Nova, who was just two weeks removed from throwing for 404 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan, managed just 199 yards and no touchdowns against the Buckeyes. Doran Grant made the play of the game when he picked Nova off in Ohio State's end zone at the end of the second quarter.

Run Defense: After giving up 370 rushing yards to Navy and its vaunted triple-option attack in the season opener, the Buckeyes had been stout against the run, allowing an average of 77 rushing yards to the following four opponents. But Rutgers had success against the Buckeyes as the running backs piled up 170 yards on 31 carries. Desmon Peoples led the way, gaining 83 yards and 5.5 yards per carry while accounting for both of Rutgers’ touchdowns.

Special Teams: With the success of Ohio State's offense, freshman kicker Sean Nuernberger wasn't needed for any field-goal attempts, although he was a perfect eight for eight on extra points. Punter Cameron Johnston only had one punt—a 53-yard boot that pinned Rutgers inside its own 10, which set the defense up for its defensive touchdown midway through the second quarter. 

Coaching: Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman continue to find ways to maximize their bounty of weapons on the perimeter. Jalin Marshall—Dontre Wilson's backup—led the Buckeyes with 58 receiving yards and is emerging as a serious threat. The defense continues to grow under Ash and Luke Fickell, making the Buckeyes a serious threat to Michigan State and the rest of the Big Ten.


All stats via

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

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Oklahoma State vs. TCU: How Cowboys' Loss Will Shake Up Week 9 Rankings

The process of elimination in the Big 12 has begun.

Trevone Boykin and the electric Josh Doctson did their part to put on a show for fans in attendance in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday. They combined for two scores as the No. 12 TCU Horned Frogs defeated the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys 42-9. Boykin threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns. Doctson's scores went for 84 and 77 yards, and he had 225 receiving yards on the day.

The duo's efforts coupled with a standout performance from the defense led to the big conference win.

Looks like Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson got what he expected.

The Cowboys likely saw their faint College Football Playoff hopes go by the boards. The result was more of a confirmation than anything. Heading in, the Horned Frogs were obviously ranked higher and playing at home.

For all intents and purposes, they were supposed to win. The win keeps TCU's hopes of rising into the top four by season's end alive, though the Horned Frogs will certainly need some help. No. 11 Oklahoma lost to No. 15 Kansas State earlier in the day, so TCU could presumably move up a spot, but there's also the possibility that K-State will swap places with Oklahoma.

In any case, TCU doesn't stand to make a major power move on Sunday morning with the new rankings.

With only one game remaining against a team that is currently ranked in the AP Top 25, there aren't a great deal of statement-making games on the schedule.

Perhaps adding to the team's uphill battle is the fact that its one loss was made to look a little worse on Saturday. Baylor—the team TCU lost to 58-51 last week—was upset 41-27 by unranked West Virginia. We don't know how far Baylor will drop, but it would be a shock to see the Bears sink below a team they just beat a week ago.

As a one-loss squad, TCU will have to run the table and have multiple teams in front of it pick up a loss the rest of the way to gain strong consideration.

There simply isn't time or opportunity to vault teams on the strength of impressive wins.

As for Oklahoma State, it is probably playing for a berth in the Fiesta or Peach Bowl at this point. Those are likely the highest hopes for at-large bids in NCAA selection committee postseason games. In terms of conference affiliation bowls, the Cactus and Alamo Bowls might be even more realistic options.

Every week it seems another Big 12 team sees its chances of reaching the CFP get weaker. This week it was Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. TCU and Kansas State might be the conference's best bets, but they play each other on Nov. 8 in a game that will likely end one of the team's dreams—if both haven't already lost before the game arrives.

Stay tuned.

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Injured Alabama RB Kenyan Drake Made Sure He Had His Snack with Him During Game

Alabama running back Kenyan Drake is out for the season after breaking his leg a few weeks ago, so while he watches his teammates from the sideline, he makes sure he has something to snack on.

Drake carried a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies with him at all times during Saturday's game against Texas A&M. Thankfully, his scooter has a basket for him to put them in.

If these treats served as "touchdown pies," Drake may have needed more than one box. Alabama beat Texas A&M 59-0.

Maybe he kept the cookies with him to keep Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban—who admitted to GQ magazine last year that he eats the snack for breakfast—in a good mood during the game.


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Bryce Petty's Quiet Struggles Continue as Baylor Is Upset by West Virginia

In his first 15 meaningful college football games, Bryce Petty completed at least half of his pass attempts. If you want to get frisky and include the 12 meaningless appearances he made spelling Robert Griffin III as a freshman and sophomore, the message still applies.

Over his last three college football games—all very much meaningful—Petty has dropped below the 50 percent market twice. The second of those contests came Saturday, as the Heisman contender completed 16 of 36 passes for 223 yards and looked sloppy throughout Baylor's upset loss to West Virginia.

The Mountaineers put pressure on Petty throughout the contest, sacking him four times and hurrying a number of other throws. The outcome looked nothing like the last two meetings between these Big 12 teams, where Baylor scored a combined 133 points, including 73 in last year's 73-42 shellacking in Waco.

Instead, West Virginia did exactly what it said it'd do coming in: It took college football's highest-powered offense and rendered it fangless. Outside a 63-yard touchdown to Antwan Goodley and a 42-yard completion to Corey Coleman, Baylor's aerial attack never cleared for liftoff.

No other Petty pass went for longer than 14 yards, and the Bears went 3-of-16 on third-down conversions as West Virginia turned them into a dink-and-dunk attack.

"They loaded the box and pressed our receivers," Petty said after the game, per John Raby of The Associated Press. "I've got to get better at it. The (Baylor) defense put us in a lot of good chances to score touchdowns, and on the road you've got to score touchdowns."

It wasn't that sloppiness or uncharacteristic mistakes were confined to the passing game. Running back Shock Linwood had one run of 24 yards in the second quarter and 20 others for 45. With the officials calling the game as closely as I've ever seen, Baylor was whistled for pass interference seven times and committed 18 fouls overall for a Big 12-record 215 yards.

But the buck on any Art Briles-led team stops with the quarterback—especially a fringe first-round pick who was considered a Heisman favorite heading into the season.

We're now at three straight weeks with Petty turning in disconcerting performances. Last week's final line of 510 yards, six touchdowns and a statue-worthy comeback over TCU looks great in retrospect, but it was anything but as the game was ongoing.

Petty's performance fluctuated wildly against the Horned Frogs, ranging from nearly perfect, as the Bears came from 21 down, to cringe-worthy as he misfired wildly and gave the ball up twice.

The game that some were calling Petty's "Heisman moment" was much more uneven watching it on film.(Also uneven is a defense that's giving up 58 points and still expecting to win. But, hey, that's a conversation for another day.)

Over the last three weeks, Petty has completed 51 of his 113 passes (45.13 percent), averaging 7.47 yards per attempt. In his previous 15 starts, Petty completed nearly 63 percent of his passes and was averaging an otherworldly 10.14 yards per attempt. He was averaging an interception roughly once every 100 times he threw the ball.

So...what gives? Did Petty suddenly become terrible at football overnight? Is Briles' up-tempo system getting "exposed," as so many talking heads will tell you over the next 48 hours? Am I asking rhetorical questions simply to answer them all with a resounding "no"?

Yes, yes, I am.

There are a number of relatively simple explanations here, starting with Petty himself. The senior sat out Baylor's second game, a 70-6 romp over Northwestern State, while dealing with two cracks in his transverse processes (bones in the back area).

Petty was back in the lineup a week later and looked fine in wins over Buffalo and Iowa State, but it'd be naive to think he's playing without pain. A simple Google search shows that a typical healing time would be 4-6 weeks for this type of injury—and that is for people who are not getting drilled by 300-pound defensive linemen on a weekly basis. 

And therein may lie the root cause of Baylor's problems. Petty wasn't getting drilled by opposing defensive linemen before his injury or the two weeks after he came back. Baylor's offensive line did not allow a sack the first four weeks of the season due to a combination of talent, a weak schedule and Briles' systematic reliance on quick passes.

In the last three weeks, Petty has been sacked 11 times. For a team that runs as many screens, quick outs and simple throws into the flat, that's an astounding number. Petty was sacked 17 times all of last season. Briles' entire run with the Bears has been defined by his ability to keep his quarterbacks upright, despite a preponderance of passing plays.

Of course, where there are offensive line struggles there are usually offensive line injuries. Such is the case with Baylor. Offensive guard Desmine Hilliard will miss the remainder of the season due to a wrist injury, while David Smoak of ESPN Central Texas reported senior right tackle Troy Baker will be out the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Although those injuries are recent, they're instructive that perhaps Baylor's offensive inconsistency is here to stay. Petty has not looked good at all with defenders in his face over this recent stretch, which might be of concern to NFL evaluators when they get a chance to look at this tape.

Maybe the back injury is still tender, leading to Petty overcompensating and losing his mechanics. Maybe he's just bad under pressure. Or maybe this is a momentary blip we'll forget about in a couple of weeks.

The Bears have what amounts to a bye against Kansas on Nov. 1 after their actual bye next week, so Briles has time to figure it out. 

But Baylor closes its conference slate with a tough run of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State. If Briles can't find an offensive line that can protect Petty—or if his quarterback can't be better against pressure—Saturday's upset will not be Baylor's last loss.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Alabama vs. Texas A&M: How Crimson Tide's Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

The death of No. 7 Alabama's College Football Playoff hopes were greatly exaggerated. 

A game that has proven unforgettable each of the last two seasons, this year's Texas A&M-Alabama showdown was over before halftime. The Crimson Tide exploded for 45 before halftime and blanked the 21st-ranked Aggies en route to a 59-0 drubbing. 

It was a blowout no matter how you sliced it. The Tide outgained A&M on the ground, 298-31, held a 30-8 advantage in first downs and amassed 602 total yards to the Aggies' 172. 

It's safe to say Nick Saban's crew needed a statement win, if only as a confidence booster. A dark cloud of doubt was cast over Tuscaloosa when the Tide's 23-17 loss at Ole Miss was superseded by an ugly one-point victory at Arkansas, but now the sunshine has returned.

Although, Saturday's eye-popping and jaw-dropping result did a lot more than up the confidence levels. It created a massive wave of those buying back in to Alabama in 2014, when pondering the end of the Saban dynasty was the trendy move over the last two weekends.

As a one-loss team with so many huge games remaining, all Alabama needs to do is win out in order to get back in the CFP picture. But with Baylor's defeat to West Virginia alongside either Florida State or Notre Dame falling Saturday night, the Crimson Tide threaten to move back into the Top Four sooner rather than later.

With only a week separating us from the first polls, it's not surprising to see Saban having his team ready to play, as ESPN's Mitch Sherman noted:

Jim Dunaway of and's Chris Fedor gave their endorsement of Alabama entering the CFP after Saturday's results:

Clay Travis of Fox Sports thinks three SEC teams—seemingly Auburn and not Alabama—should crack the CFP, but he added as the score got more lopsided that he may have to reconsider:

Of course, it goes without saying that speculating which SEC teams are in and out is premature at best. While most of them have been able to make statement wins, the meat of the schedule lies ahead with the Egg Bowl and Iron Bowl—among many other showdowns—yet to come. 

However, the questions have pretty much been answered for Texas A&M. After jumping into the Top 10 early in the season, the Aggies have lost three straight by a combined 91 points—a total that could've been worse without late scores against Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

And to make matters even worse, Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde recounted Kevin Sumlin's early-season marquee win over then-No. 9 South Carolina now looks average at best:

A much tougher span of games in hindsight than once thought, the Aggies' last three games have been murderer's row with lopsided defeats to three Top Seven SEC West teams. But after starting the season on the cusp of the Top 25 anyway, Texas A&M is fortunate it took this long to completely fall out of the rankings.

As for Alabama, the CFP debate—at least for this week—is a familiar one. Mississippi State and Ole Miss are safe assuming the Rebels topple Tennessee, and the winner of Florida State and Notre Dame will maintain the third spot. That leaves Alabama and Auburn vying for the fourth spot, after Baylor's loss.

Here's how it should currently shake out:

There's no doubt Alabama looked like Alabama again Saturday, and a similar performance would probably beat any team in the nation. But Auburn's road win over Kansas State now looks much more impressive after the Wildcats beat Oklahoma—one of the last two teams to beat the Tide, in fact.

Regardless, debating which of the two teams has the better CFP resume is a moot point. Until one loses, both Alabama and Auburn will be neck-and-neck before the Iron Bowl decides their fates. 

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Washington vs. Oregon: Live Score and Highlights

No. 9 Oregon bounced back from its first loss of the season last week with an impressive win over then-No. 18 UCLA. 

The Ducks return home to Autzen Stadium on Saturday to host Pac-12 rival Washington. 

Both teams enter Saturday's game with identical 5-1 records. The Ducks are 2-1 in conference play, while the Huskies are 1-1. 

The Ducks have won the last 10 meetings.

You can watch Saturday's game live on Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, but make sure to stay right here with us at Bleacher Report for news, notes and analysis throughout the game.

You can find the official box score at

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Texas A&M vs. Alabama: Score and Twitter Reaction

No. 21 Texas A&M traveled to Tuscaloosa looking to right the ship after two consecutive losses. But it found a fired up No. 7 Alabama team waiting, and the result was a 59-0 blowout victory by the Crimson Tide. Nick Saban's squad showed what it can do when firing on all cylinders, and the rest of the nation is officially on notice.

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims began his day by completing four straight passes, and following two T.J. Yeldon runs, the Crimson Tide were deep in Aggies territory. The Texas A&M defense held strong, forcing a Adam Griffith 21-yard field goal, but that wouldn't be an ongoing trend.

Following a Texas A&M three-and-out, Sims and Yeldon picked up right where they left off. The Crimson Tide methodically moved down the field, utilizing the running game and short passes to pick apart the Aggies defense. Yeldon capped off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown scamper.

Alex Scarborough of was impressed by the running back's patience:

Another three-and-out by Kenny Hill and Co. gave Alabama the ball once again. Yeldon finished out the quarter with an explosive 31-yard run inside Texas A&M territory. Four plays later, he punched it in for another score on a 4th-and-goal run from the 1-yard line, increasing Alabama's lead to 17-0.

ESPN SEC reflected on the play and tweeted the word of the game—domination:

What followed was the first Texas A&M first down of the game—followed by its third punt. It only took Alabama four plays to extend its lead even further, as Sims rattled off a 43-yard touchdown run, putting the Crimson Tide up 24-0.

Here's a look at the quarterback's ankle-breaking run, via Bleacher Report:

An ominous trend continued for the Texas A&M offense, as Hill and Co. took the field again, gained a first down and then punted soon after. What followed was another methodical Crimson Tide touchdown drive, this time 80 yards on 11 plays. Derrick Henry finished it off with an eight-yard run.

Another quick outing from the Texas A&M offense, followed by a nice punt return by Christion Jones, paved the way for Sims and Co. to take the field again. This time, it only took one play to reach the end zone, as Sims found Amari Cooper for a 24-yard reception.

Even former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel couldn't handle the beatdown, via College Football 24/7:

The Crimson Tide weren't done there. On their next possession, Sims found Henry for a 41-yard catch and run for another score. Now up 45-0 with only seconds remaining in the half, Eye on College Football tweeted Alabama's gaudy numbers:

USA Today Sports tweeted the difference in numbers between the teams' playmakers during the break:

SportsNation followed that up with what the scoreboard probably should have looked like:

Things didn't get any better for the Aggies after the half.

Another three-and-out by the Texas A&M offense kicked off the third quarter, and once again, Alabama wasted little time putting more points on the board. Following two Henry runs, Sims found a wide-open Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown strike.

ESPN SEC tweeted the updated score:

The remainder of the third quarter was a closer contest, as neither offense moved into scoring position. What was the reason for Alabama's sudden decline in production? That would be the entrance of the team's second-string players.

Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News tweeted the switch at quarterback for Alabama:

Starting in the third quarter, Alabama began to give Jake Coker some target practice. In the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide went on a run-heavy drive, but they did mix in a few throws from the backup quarterback. His fourth pass attempt of the drive went to Ty Flournoy-Smith for a 14-yard touchdown.

Coker found his target in the back corner of the end zone with a perfectly thrown ball, and KBTX Sports tweeted the updated score:

Alabama ran down the clock on its next drive, and shortly after, the rout finally came to an end.

ESPN Stats & Info tweeted what the shutout loss means for Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin:

Texas A&M's devastating loss brings up plenty of questions and cause for concern going forward. Over the course of the season, the Aggies have regressed, and this team doesn't at all resemble the Week 1 squad that torched South Carolina for 52 points.

Expect the Aggies to fall out of the Top 25 for Week 9. In fact, this could be the last time we see this team ranked in 2014, as tough contests against Auburn, Missouri and LSU remain on the schedule. Just like that, Texas A&M went from a potential playoff contender to hoping for bowl eligibility.

This enormous win puts Alabama right back in the mix for a potential spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff. The Tide didn't exactly respond well to a loss at the hands of Ole Miss, following it up with a close call against Arkansas—a 14-13 win. However, on Saturday, this team was visibly ready to get back to its previous winning ways.

After No. 4 Baylor's loss to West Virginia, and a clash between No. 2 Florida State and No. 5 Notre Dame set for Saturday night, the Crimson Tide will suddenly be strongly considered for a Top Four ranking once more. The team's remaining schedule isn't easy with contests against Mississippi State and Auburn remaining, but after what we saw on Saturday, Alabama can't be ruled out against any opponent.

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Notre Dame vs. Florida State: Live Score and Highlights

Notre Dame 27, Florida State 31—Late 4th Quarter

For a third straight week, the top game in college football features a pair of undefeated teams.  Tonight, 6-0 Notre Dame heads to Tallahassee to take on 6-0 Florida State, and the College Football Playoff implications in this game could not be overstated.

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Iowa State vs. Texas: Live Score and Highlights

Fresh off a defeat in the Red River Rivalry, the Texas Longhorns look to jump-start a second-half surge when they host the Iowa State Cyclones.

Coverage begins on the Longhorn Network at 8 p.m. ET for those of you lucky enough to have access to the channel. No worries if not, because this page will be updated from pregame to postgame with updates, analysis and highlights.

Follow the box score at, and be sure to check back after the game for the grades for the Longhorns' positional units.

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Ohio State's Evan Spencer Makes Great 1-Handed TD Catch vs. Rutgers

Ohio State is wiping the floor with Rutgers, and receiver Evan Spencer put an exclamation point on the blowout with a great touchdown catch in the third quarter.

Spencer was able to haul in J.T. Barrett's pass with just one hand, never using his left hand at all during the catch. A catch like this is impressive no matter what the score is at the time.

The 11-yard touchdown gave the Buckeyes a 56-10 lead with just more than four minutes to play in the third quarter.

[Eleven Warriors]

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Greg Ward Jr. Breathes New Life into Houston Cougars' 2014 Season

The easiest way to put it is this: Greg Ward Jr. made a bad 2014 Houston offense good again, and a more experienced Ward should only make it better going forward.

“The more he plays, the more comfortable he’s going to get and the more comfortable his 10 teammates around him are going to be around him,” Levine told the media after the sophomore’s second start at quarterback.

The change breathed new life into Houston’s 2014 season.

Down 14 points on the road last week against Memphis, the Cougars appeared to be declawed for the year.

Despite having one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country and talented speedsters on offense who can take the ball to the end zone on any given play, Houston’s hopes appeared to be dashed.

But Ward, making his first start as the signal-caller after taking over for the wildly inconsistent John O’Korn late the previous week, isn’t the type to fret about such things.

Ward is calm under pressure, and when the pocket collapsed around him on first down from his own 36, Ward ducked, dodged and darted out of harm’s way, sprinted through defenders and scampered for a 64-yard touchdown run.

Ward’s run started the comeback, and his teammates responded by rallying around him to drop Memphis on the road 28-24 for their first conference win of the season.

Ward started at quarterback again on Friday night against Temple at TDECU Stadium in Houston, and after a 31-10 win, it’s hard to imagine him taking a backseat to anyone at quarterback ever again.

Ward was brilliant. He finished the outing 29-of-33 for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

Perhaps more importantly, what once appeared to be an anemic Houston offense now looks like a unit that can be both efficient and effective. With Ward taking snaps, Houston can move the ball down the field and score enough touchdowns to be considered a dangerous football team.

How dangerous? Don’t be surprised to see the Coogs win the rest of the their games to finish the season 9-3.

Ward is a playmaker.

His dazzling speed and accurate passing make him hard to handle. No, he does not have the size and stature of O’Korn. But Ward makes plays, and he seems be at his absolute best when he has to be.

But Ward isn’t just fast or a good athlete. He’s a good runner. He knows when to cut. He knows when to spin. He knows when to vary his pace.

He makes people miss—badly.

When the pocket breaks down, he zigzags through defenders like he’s a wide receiver and punt returner. And that’s exactly what he was before he was inserted behind center.

Ward carries a small frame, but he doesn’t run like it. He threw all 178 pounds of it into two Owl defenders at the goal line early in the first quarter to prove it.

Ward didn’t make it into the end zone. His helmet flew off his head to the collective gasp of Cougar fans. But if there were any lingering doubts among fans or players after the Memphis win whether Ward would be the quarterback going forward, that moment should have sealed the deal.  

This is his team now.

Ward gives Houston a pathway to 2014 football relevance. As good as the defense had been this year, Houston’s offense had been worse.

But things are different now.

There’s no indication Houston’s stalwart defense will do anything for the rest of the year but continue to play at an exceptionally high level.

As the Houston Chronicle’s Joseph Duarte pointed out on Friday night, the unit has been as opportunistic as any in the country under Tony Levine:

Houston led the nation in takeaways last year and has forced 23 turnovers in six games in 2014, the second-most in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

But Ward’s performance over the last two weeks points toward an offense that will change into something better. With Ward, Houston’s offense should continue to grow and evolve around his considerable skill set.

Fans caught a glimpse of it against Temple. Houston moved the ball down the field, controlled the clock and scored points. The Coogs ran 33 more offensive plays than Temple and held the ball for over 42 minutes.

That’s a winning formula.

Make no mistake. Ward has much to learn. Levine appears reluctant so far to let him chuck it down the field further than 15 yards with any regularity, something probably more attributable to his inexperience than his arm strength.

And he's not faced anyone yet who has forced him to stay in the pocket and pass. 

But Ward is already so much better than his predecessor; that patience won’t be something Cougar fans will need to develop over the rest of the year while they wait for him to improve. 

Because as long as Ward is starting at quarterback, Houston fans can expect their team to have a good chance at winning.

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Johnny Manziel Can Only Laugh at Alabama's Beatdown of Texas A&M

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, like many Aggies fans, is hoping that a mercy rule gets put into effect at some point during Saturday's Texas A&M-Alabama game.

After the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown right before half to go up 45-0 on the Aggies, the former Texas A&M quarterback sent out this tweet:

Manziel quickly deleted the tweet.

No. 7 Alabama outgained No. 21 Texas A&M 449-57 in the first half and scored on all seven of its first-half drives. Given those stats, this "showdown" between ranked teams may actually need a mercy rule, or at least a running clock.

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How Oklahoma, Baylor Losses Shake Up Big 12 Conference

The Big 12 began Saturday afternoon with a pair of legitimate College Football Playoff contenders.

It ended the afternoon with a muddled mess.

West Virginia’s 41-27 upset of No. 4 Baylor and No. 14 Kansas State’s 31-30 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma took down what were believed to be the league’s top two teams and created a logjam atop the Big 12 standings.

It also might have ended the league’s hopes of an entrant in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press shared his thoughts about the Big 12:

At 6-0, Baylor likely needed to run the table against its remaining schedule (which included Top 15 matchups against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas) for serious playoff consideration, given a nonconference schedule that included Buffalo, SMU and FCS Northwestern State.

Oklahoma certainly needed to run the table after a loss two weeks ago at TCU.

Both teams were done in by their own hand on Saturday.

Oklahoma was felled by poor defense against a K-State offense that, led by senior quarterback Jake Waters, was capable but not necessarily explosive. The Sooners allowed more than 30 points for the third time in four Big 12 games.

And don’t forget about kicker Michael Hunnicutt’s struggles. Hunnicutt, Oklahoma’s career scoring leader, suffered a blocked extra point and two missed field goals. That included a stunning 19-yard miss with 3:53 left and OU trailing by a point.

Meanwhile, Baylor simply couldn't contain West Virginia, and unlike last week (when a stunning 21-point fourth-quarter comeback muted the sting of giving up 58 points and 485 yards of total offense to TCU) there was no late-game magic. 

West Virginia’s offense, led by senior quarterback Clint Trickett (322 yards) and dynamic wideout Kevin White, did everything it wanted. On the other side of the ball, the Mountaineers defense consistently harassed Bryce Petty. He completed just 16 of 36 passes for 223 yards and two scores. 

With Oklahoma State and TCU facing off Saturday afternoon, the Big 12 is guaranteed to end Saturday with no unbeaten and three one-loss teams.

That might leave K-State as the league’s best potential College Football Playoff contender.

The Wildcats’ only loss was a hard-fought home defeat to Auburn, and they own a win at Oklahoma with Oklahoma State coming to Manhattan and Baylor and TCU remaining on the schedule.

However, the Wildcats’ playoff candidacy could be a stretch. The Kansas City Star's Kellis Robinett shared a quote from Bill Snyder:

One thing is clear: The top of the Big 12 is muddled, with the top teams apparently all capable of beating one another in any week. Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor or Kansas State could all wind up on top when the dust clears in early December.

The league's full round-robin, nine-game schedule means the likelihood of a true meat grinder in November and early December is high. A clearly dominant team is unlikely to emerge by the end of the regular season. Sportswriter Pat Forde highlighted the Big 12's situation:

That might make for exciting football, but it won’t enrich the league’s coffers when College Football Playoff teams are selected.

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Missouri vs. Florida: Live Score and Highlights

Missouri 14, Florida 0, Early 2nd Quarter

The Missouri Tigers and Florida Gators have started play as both teams look for an important conference win. Georgia and Kentucky lead the way in the SEC East, so the loser of this game could find themselves out of the race for the division title.

You can find the game on ESPN2, but stay right here with us for live updates and analysis.

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