NCAA Football News

Leonard Fournette Busts out the Heisman Pose After Touchdown Run

LSU running back Leonard Fournette hit the Heisman pose after his touchdown run vs. Sam Houston State.

How well do you think this freshman will do this year?

Watch the video to see Fournette's touchdown and celebration

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Is Michigan HC Brady Hoke on Hot Seat After Embarrassing Loss to Notre Dame?

Head coach Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines took a 31-0 beating by Notre Dame. Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss how worried Brady Hoke should be.

Do you think he is on the hot seat?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Winners and Losers from Week 2 of College Football

Week 2 of the college football season is underway. And shame on anyone who thought this slate of games, though poor on paper, would mean a lack of excitement.

[Glances around nervously.]

There's already a lot that's happened across the country. That's why we have a weekly "Winners and Losers" recap to capture all that was good—and all that was painful—during another week of college football action. 

As you have probably noticed, Winners and Losers is live before all the games have ended. Fear not, as this post will be updated as events warrant. 

So let's get the conversation going. Which teams, players, coaches and/or moments were the best from Week 2? Which ones were the worst?

The answers are in the following slides.

Begin Slideshow

Everett Golson vs. Michigan: Stat Line, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson put on quite a show in the Fighting Irish's 37-0 demolition of the Michigan Wolverines. The senior signal-caller ran his team's offense to near perfection on the night, putting up an incredible final stat line and providing the South Bend, Indiana faithful with a night to remember.

Head coach Brian Kelly didn't name him the starter until mid-August, but Golson has taken the designation and run with it. Golson got off to a fine start in Week 1 with 295 passing yards and two touchdowns against Rice. He did well to build on that performance Saturday night against a much higher-profile opponent.

Golson tossed his first touchdown pass early in the second quarter, a quick-hitter one-yard throw to Amir Carlisle. His leadership ability was on full display throughout the contest, something that Kelly noted was vital to his capturing of the starting position.

"Generally when you look at making that decision, I'm using from January through right now as the basis of that decision, so winter workouts, how he handled himself with the team, our workouts, his spring practice and then his leadership in the summer and in camp here," said Kelly, via ESPN.com's Matt Fortuna.

Take a look at Golson's second touchdown pass of the game, a 24-yard screamer to William Fuller as an example of his poise, accuracy and command of the offense, via the official Twitter profile of Fighting Irish athletics:

SportsCenter liked the way he had the offense rolling in the first half:

Bleacher Report's own Adam Kramer noted that Golson looked like a much different quarterback than the one who would occasionally frustrate Fighting Irish fans with erratic play last season:

The second half was more of the same, with the Notre Dame defense capitalizing on Michigan mistakes and feeding the ball to Golson and company.

Although Golson finished with minus-14 rushing yards, he still showed off his mobility on several plays. His ability to make key passes both in and outside of the pocket will be crucial to his team's success as the season moves along.

Golson's second-half touchdown pass to Carlisle was a thing of beauty, per the Fighting Irish:

Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News praised Golson but did note that Michigan was working with a depleted secondary:

Bleacher Report's own Michael Schottey used the lopsided scoreline to praise Golson, essentially calling him a complete quarterback when compared to Michigan's Devin Gardner:

Notre Dame is in good hands with Golson performing like this. As an independent school, they need standout victories against big programs to establish themselves as playoff or major bowl contenders. It is a very promising start on both sides of the ball for this squad; it will look to continue that success in Week 3 against an intrastate foe in Purdue University.

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San Jose State vs. Auburn: Game Grades, Analysis for the Tigers

It may have taken them nearly half a quarter, but once the Auburn Tigers got scoring they never stopped.

Backed by a superior rushing attack, the Tigers made beating San Jose State look easy. It was such a dominant effort, the final score of 59-13 doesn’t even do it enough justice.

Check out the game’s final stats here and take a look at first- and second-half game grades as well as analysis below.

 

Pass Offense

This was never going to be a strong suit for Auburn. But when you have such a talented rushing attack, who could blame you?

Quarterback Nick Marshall only threw for 101 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-19 passing. Sure, he rarely had to pass, but when he did, it was typically off target. Backup Jeremy Johnson looked like a more comfortable passer in his short cameo in garbage time.

 

Rush Offense

What more could be said about this unit?

The Tigers racked up a whopping 358 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground on 50 carries. Cameron Artis-Payne (16 CAR, 112 YDS, 3 TD), Marshall (11 CAR, 102 YDS, 1 TD) and Corey Grant (10 CAR, 89 YDS) all topped 80 yards rushing. Even true freshman Roc Thomas looked strong in his collegiate debut, finishing with 51 yards on nine carries, including a touchdown on his first touch.

This is a unit that truly can’t be stopped. 

 

Pass Defense

Overall, the secondary was very solid. 

Yes, the unit had its rough patches early in the first quarter and early in the second half. But when all was said and done, Auburn held the Spartans to just 254 yards and one touchdown on 19-of-32 passing while intercepting three passes.

Quarterback Blake Jurich was pressured all night and spent a lot of time on his back.

 

Rush Defense

Who said the Tigers struggled on the defensive line?

The unit stifled San Jose State all night, leaving running lanes nearly impossible to find. The Spartans only managed 65 rushing yards on 45 attempts (1.4 YPC). It was so tough to run that only once did a running back manage to crack a rush for over 10 yards, and it only went for 13.

This is a unit that will surprise a lot of people.

 

Special Teams

After dominating last season on special teams, Auburn was back to its old tricks. 

This time, Quan Bray returned a punt, juked several defenders and took it back to the house for a cool 55 yards. It wasn’t a play that will be replayed on ESPN for weeks, but it was impressive in its own right.

Place kicker/punter Daniel Carlson connected on his only field goal and kicked two punts for a total of 80 yards.

 

Coaching

The Tigers appeared out of it from the beginning, but that quickly changed. 

Head coach Gus Malzahn refocused his troops, and Auburn never looked back. Defensively, Ellis Johnson had his defense step up to make key stops in pivotal moments.

The unit bent on several plays, but it made the big plays that snuffed out the Spartans’ drives.

 

All stats courtesy of NCAA.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Game Grades for Wolverines and Fighting Irish

Notre Dame showed no mercy during its final scheduled meeting with Michigan, handing its familiar foe a shelling Saturday night in South Bend. 

During the first half, Michigan showed signs that it would compete and mark the ending of an era with a spirited performance. That wasn't the case during the second half, which was dominated by the No. 16-ranked Irish in every shape, form and fashion imaginable. 

Get the complete box score at NCAA.com. 

 

Pass Offense

UM: Pass offense? Well, in the first half, it appeared that Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess would again be the heroes of the day. They connected for a quick three strikes before halftime but were capped in the second. 

Gardner finished with 188 yards. 

Funchess finished with 106. 

ND: Everett Golson completed 12 of his first 16 passes before really sinking his teeth into Michigan's uncharacteristically lethargic secondary. And to think, the DBs were supposed to be a strength for the Wolverines, who were embarrassed in front of 80,000 (and Touchdown Jesus). 

Golson finished with 225 yards and three touchdowns. 

 

Run Offense

UM: Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith's slow starts are due to a faulty O-line that refuses to live up to its "improved" reputation. Neither sophomore stood out Saturday. They combined for 31 yards in the first half. 

ND: The Irish didn't have to run the ball much. But when they did, Cam McDaniel (who scored a TD in the first half), Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston made them count. Their carries sustained drives and frustrated the Wolverines' D-line, which bent but didn't snap in half. 

 

Pass Defense

UM: It was pretty much nonexistent, especially in the second half. Again, the trouncing at the hands of the Irish was a tale of two halves: one competitive, one not so much. It's going to be a long week for Michigan's players and coaches...a really long week. 

Notre Dame had 217 passing yards by the beginning of the fourth quarter.

ND: Considering that the Funchess Show was put on hold, the Irish did pretty well. Other receivers had catches, such as Jehu Chesson, who had a pair of nice grabs, but not one did significant damage—not even Funchess, who cracked 100 yards early in the fourth quarter. 

 

Run Defense

UM: Notre Dame's Cam McDaniel exposed Michigan's weakness, defending the run up the middle. Well, that's one weakness. Although the Irish didn't put up crazy stats in the rushing column, they were effective and did what they wanted on the ground. 

And that was to set up Golson's pass, which was the obvious key to Notre Dame's win. 

ND: Brian VanGorder's defense was relentless. Because of its effort, it led the way for the team's first shutout of Michigan, per NBC. 

 

Special Teams

UM: Matt Wile missed two field goals in the first half. One of them, the latter 48-yard attempt, was due to bad footing. 

ND: Job completed. 

 

Coaching

UM: Well, I wasn't on the sidelines (didn't even make the trip to South Bend, actually), so I can't speak about the communication/game-planning in the trenches. But the fact that Michigan didn't show up says a lot about preparation. I'm not saying Michigan didn't prepare, because I know it did. But it didn't prepare enough. 

That's on everyone, all the way up to Hoke and down to the trainers. Win together, lose together. 

ND: I'd say Brian Kelly's game plan worked well. He let Golson dictate the pace. Considering the outcome, that was the correct choice. 

 

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

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Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Score and Twitter Reaction

In the final matchup of a long rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish got the last laugh with a 31-0 win.

Everett Golson led the way with 226 passing yards and three touchdowns in one of the better performances of his young career. Meanwhile, the defense was fantastic, forcing four Devin Gardner turnovers and holding the Wolverines to just 2.9 yards per carry in the shutout.

Ryan Field of Fox Sports 1 provided this interesting note at the end of the game:

Devin Funchess was a lone bright spot for the visiting team with nine catches for 107 receiving yards, but he appeared to injure his knee in the fourth quarter, creating a full nightmare scenario for the Wolverines. 

Michigan seemed ready to score early on, but a pair of missed field goals in the first few drives killed that opportunity. Notre Dame was then able to strike first thanks to two pass-interference penalties, setting the ball up at the 1-yard line. Cam McDaniel punched it in to go up 7-0.

From that point on it was Golson's time to shine, as he continued to make big plays to keep putting points on the board, like this series to make it 14-0:

Those watching along could not help but be impressed by the improvements of the young quarterback:

The defense deserved a lot of credit as well, keeping the Wolverines off the scoreboard. Ralph Russo of The Associated Press provided his look at that side of the ball:

Notre Dame was able to add another touchdown right before the half on a great throw and catch from Golson to William Fuller:

Adam Shear of Fox 28 liked what he saw in this final play as the home team was able to go up 21 at halftime:

Things did not change much in the second half as Michigan once again struggled to get anything going offensively. Golson added a third touchdown with a pass to Amir Carlisle, his second receiving touchdown of the day, making it 28-0 in favor of the Irish.

At this point, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports was embarrassed for the Wolverines:

A few more turnovers by Gardner, and Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey was able to provide a simple analysis of the game:

While Gardner did give his team a few more chances, Notre Dame held tough to secure the 31-point victory to close out this series in style.

College GameDay explained before the game that Michigan had gotten the better of this matchup in the past:

The series goes back over 100 years, although the two programs did not start playing regularly until the late 1970s. Still, this has been considered one of the more entertaining matchups each season as it features two of the most popular football teams in the nation.

Unfortunately, there are no more games between the two sides currently on the schedule.

According to Matt Fortuna of ESPN, Michigan coach Brady Hoke left the door open for a return in the future, saying, "Who knows when is going to be the last game? We just know we aren't going to play them in the near future."

Of course, the Wolverines now have bigger problems than figuring out whom they will play next season and beyond. They have to figure out a way to bounce back from this loss before the year gets any worse.

Michigan will return home next week to face Miami (Ohio), which has started the year 0-2. If the Big Ten school cannot get a win in this one, this could be a long year.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame will play its next game at Lucas Oil Stadium against Purdue. The Irish have a tough schedule throughout the season, but this could be a chance to relax with an easy matchup and tweak some things before it gets much more difficult later in the year.

Until then, Brian Kelly's squad will remain a team on the rise in the next few polls.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Leonard Fournette vs. Sam Houston State: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

Much of college football expected Leonard Fournette to steal the headlines during LSU's Week 1 affair against Wisconsin. Instead, he waited until a week later. 

The Tigers' infinitely hyped true freshman running back was unleashed against Sam Houston State on Saturday, carrying the ball 13 times for 92 yards and a touchdown in LSU's 56-0 win. He also caught one pass for 15 yards. 

Fournette failed to make a positive impression on August 30 against the Badgers with his eight carries going for just 18 yards, but he made those struggles a distant memory on Saturday in the span of just two plays.

He escaped for a 40-yard rush in the first quarter, and one play later plunged into the end zone from four yards out for his first collegiate touchdown.

Head coach Les Miles again opted for the more seasoned Kenny Hilliard to start at running back, but Fournette wasted little time making his impact felt on the Tigers' second possession of the game. His first three rushes were a combined two yards before the 40-yard rush and resulting score.

Then, with one ill-timed celebration, he put the target on his back for criticism by striking the Heisman pose in the endzone.

It's not like Fournette striking the Heisman pose is the first time that the true freshman has been linked to the prestigious trophy. After all, Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman went as far as to pick him to win this year's Heisman and is one of many who entered 2014 all-in on the Fournette hype. 

But needless to say, many weren't amused by the antics, including his own coach. As USA Today's Glenn Guilbeau noted, Miles pulled Fournette aside for some words when he came off the field:

Scott Rabalais of The Baton Rouge Advocate added the following:

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit was also among the critics, posting some harsh criticism of the freshman:

Ivan Maisel of ESPN noted that he's acting new on the scene, and well, he is:

Guilbeau later wondered whether he was foreshadowing a somewhat smaller award in his future:

The critics of Fournette came out in droves, and that wasn't really a surprise. Many were pumping the brakes on him after minimal impact in Week 1, and despite all of the hype that has been created for him, it was still his first career touchdown—against Sam Houston State, seemingly as the team's second-string running back.

But even though many people disliked Fournette's move, others didn't see the problem in it, including ESPN's Alex Scarborough and Sam Khan Jr.:

There may have been some overreactions to Fournette's antics, but given the way Miles reacted, he didn't take it lightly. 

Will Weathers added a quote from the head coach at halftime:

Fournette's performance on Saturday was largely defined by his touchdown celebration, but otherwise it was a solid outing for the youngster. He showed his breakaway speed on a 40-yard rush, got some tough yards between the tackles and even made a reception.

As LSU Football noted, he also made an impact on a kickoff return:

If anything, Miles and his coaching staff opted to give Fournette even more burn in the second half after his gesture rather than bench him. He nearly scored for a second time in the fourth quarter with a 27-yard rush that set up Hilliard's two-yard score to put LSU up 56-0 late. 

Fournette was one of many freshmen showing up in the second half, as ESPN's Travis Haney noted:

He may have made the wrong headlines with his celebration, but everything else from Fournette was impressive on Saturday. The freshman was hitting holes with power and made himself useful in passing and in special teams.

And when he finally made it into the open field like many Tigers fans were holding their breath for, he didn't disappoint.

His near 100-yard performance on Saturday was much more encouraging than the 18 yards he posted against Wisconsin the week prior, and he certainly showed that he won't be an afterthought on the Tigers offense. But considering the opponent they faced and the impact Hilliard continues to have, the sky-high expectations for Fournette's freshman season should still be tempered. 

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Marcus Mariota vs. Michigan State: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

With the Oregon Ducks' 46-27 win over the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday, Marcus Mariota took a big step forward toward booking his place in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation.

The junior quarterback finished 17-of-28 passing with 318 yards and three touchdowns. He added 42 yards on the ground.

Chris Huston of HeismanPundit.com believes that Mariota has jumped to the top of the Heisman race after the victory:

Following the game, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich had one word to explain why Mariota did what he did on Saturday, per John Canzano of The Oregonian:

It wasn't the most impressive performance of his career, but rarely has the player's importance to the Oregon offense been more glaring. The Ducks offense didn't look itself on Saturday, especially in the first half.

Mariota's 70-yard touchdown pass to Devon Allen in the second quarter was one of the few big plays for the unit through the first two frames, via ESPN College Football:

NFL.com's Bryan Fischer was surprised at how poorly the home team was executing, especially with Mariota at 100 percent:

Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde thought that Oregon was far too reliant on Mariota's play-making ability and resourcefulness:

One of the biggest reasons the Ducks were struggling was the constant pressure on Mariota from the Michigan State front seven. The obvious way to stop a mobile dual-threat quarterback is hitting him in the pocket before he can get going, and that's exactly what the Spartans were doing in the first half, per ESPN Stats and Info:

Making matters worse was Andre Yruretagoyena's exit with an injury, per Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated:

Michigan State led 24-18 going into halftime.

In the second half, Oregon was a completely different team. Smart Football's Chris B. Brown felt that the Ducks needed somebody to be the spark offensively, and Mariota answered the call:

Oregon punted on its first two possessions of the second half before reeling off four touchdowns on their final five drives. Mariota was responsible for two of those touchdowns, first hitting Allen for a 24-yard TD pass and then connecting with Keanon Lowe for six points, which gave the Ducks the lead back.

From there, Michigan State was unable to mount a comeback.

It's still very early in the season, but you have to agree with Huston that Mariota has vaulted to the top of the Heisman Trophy chase, if he wasn't already there. He might have had some trouble early on, but you expect your best players to respond when handed adversity, and that's exactly what Mariota did.

You can't discount the strength of the Michigan State defense, either. According to Forde, the Spartans hadn't surrendered 30 or more points since 2011:

Every Heisman winner in the past has had that one signature performance that voters can look at when they make their final selection. Saturday may well have been that game for Mariota.

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Jameis Winston vs. Citadel: Stats, Highlights, Twitter Reaction

If you're a player hoping to woo the Heisman voters, then you better be pretty close to perfect when you go up against the mighty Citadel Bulldogs (sorry, Citadel). 

Jameis Winston did just that on Saturday night. 

The polarizing sophomore quarterback, who is looking to repeat as Heisman, played a little less than three full quarters during FSU's easy 37-12 win, completing 22 of his 27 throws for 256 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

He was on the field for six offensive drives. The first four went for touchdowns, while the last two resulted in field goals. As College Football Talk noted, he had an unbelievable stat line at the half:

The one incompletion? An attempted shovel pass to Kermit Whitfield that was originally ruled as a fumble, which ESPN's Jared Shanker pointed out:

Part of the reason for Winston's success was his willingness to share the love. As the Orlando Sentinel's Dustin Tackett noted, he did well to move through his progressions and spread the ball around:

Winston finished with completions to eight different receivers. His longest went to star Rashad Greene for 46 yards. Winston and Greene, who had 11 receptions for 203 yards in last week's opener, have an unstoppable connection right now, and the QB recently talked about his WR's importance, via the Tallahassee Democrat's Natalie Pierre:

Tomahawk Nation put it simply after one of Winston's best throws of the night:

Of course, it wasn't a perfect night. 

According to Shanker and thetriangleoffense.net's Joshua Flanagan, the sophomore quarterback clashed with head coach Jimbo Fisher on multiple occasions: 

Don't overreact, though. Patrik Nohe of ChopChat.com explained why the shouting matches aren't a big deal:

Overall, it's about as much as you could ask for in limited action against an overmatched opponent. 

The stats probably won't drop anyone's jaw—especially those of Heisman voters—but don't expect Florida State fans to worry too much about that. Winston is being asked to win games, and he continues to do just that in Tallahassee. 

He'll get a stiffer test at home against No. 23 Clemson in two weeks, but judging by Saturday's "warm-up" (again, sorry Citadel), he looks prepared and in-sync with the offense. 

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Auburn Football: Nick Marshall Not Sharp, but Still the Man at QB

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall sat out the first half of the season, as Jeremy Johnson—his backup—lit up the stat sheet with 243 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-21 win over Arkansas.

Quarterback controversy?

No. 

Marshall is the man at Auburn, but it's clear from his performance in the Tigers' 59-13 win over San Jose State on Saturday night that he still has some work to do through the air. The senior completed 10 of 19 passes for 101 yards, one touchdown and no picks.

He sailed several passes, lost accuracy when he needed to put more touch on throws and generally looked like the same raw quarterback he was last season, despite being the first second-year starting quarterback in head coach Gus Malzahn's career as either a college head coach or assistant.

Malzahn commented on Marshall's night in the postgame press conference, according to Ryan Black of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. 

Make no mistake, despite the inefficiency, Marshall is still the man for Malzahn.

He rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Spartans and is still what makes Auburn's offense tick. 

Sure, Auburn would like Marshall to be more consistent through the air. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said this spring that he would like Marshall to complete "between 65 and 70 percent" of his passes on the season, according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com.

"It’s a goal. It should be a goal," Marshall told Marcello. "The expectations for us are high this year. I’m just going to do what they tell me and complete the passes like they want me to. I’ll go through all my progressions and not turn the ball over."

He isn't quite there on the season yet—he's at 56 percent (14-of-25) after two games—but Marshall routinely makes the right decision on zone reads, forces defenders to maintain eye discipline and takes advantage through the air when safeties creep up and peek in the backfield.

What more does he need to do?

Sure, the coaching staff would like him to progress as a passer, and if Marshall wants to make a career as a quarterback at the next level, it'd probably be a good idea. For this particular team, though, Marshall can follow the same script as last year and win a whole bunch of ballgames for Malzahn.

Isn't that the goal?

The offensive line has shown no signs of a letdown after losing first-round draft pick Greg Robinson at left tackle and left guard Alex Kozan to a season-ending injury. The running game is in good hands with Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne—who's gone over the century mark in both of Auburn's games—and speedster Corey Grant.

Sure, Auburn is one-dimensional by choice and necessity with Marshall in the game, but that one dimension clicks at an elite level, so there's no reason to mess with success.

"Marshall 2.0" would be a luxury for the Auburn coaching staff, but the original version isn't too shabby and has proven during his career as the starting quarterback that what he does works, even if it doesn't always look pretty through the air.

Isn't that the point?

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report and 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.

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Devon Allen Catches, Spins for 70-Yard TD

Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen made a great catch and spin move on his way to the end zone in the Ducks' 46-27 win over Michigan State.

Allen proving himself as a playmaker provides another weapon for quarterback Marcus Mariota to target.

How well do you think the Ducks will do this year?

Watch the video to see Devon Allen's highlight touchdown catch.

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Michigan State vs. Oregon: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Oregon Ducks pulled out a a thrilling come-from-behind 46-27 victory over the Michigan State Spartans in a titanic early-season contest between two Top 10 college football squads.

The Spartans definitely put a scare into the Ducks, who look primed for a run at the national title, but they just couldn't keep up with their Nike-clad foes in the second half.

Here is the quarter-by-quarter score from the contest: 

SportsCenter posted a snapshot of the raucous fans preparing to take in the game:

Early, embarrassing miscues from the Ducks quickly quieted the crowd, per Scout.com's Mike Wilson:

The errors were minor and didn't prevent Oregon from jumping out to a quick lead. Thomas Tyner scored on a one-yard plunge toward the end of the first quarter and Oregon took an 8-0 lead after an easy two-point conversion.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio wasn't happy about the two-point conversion attempt, per SB Nation:

He should have expected the attempt, as his squad didn't cover the unorthodox formation and allowed the opposition to take the advantage. The play and Dantonio's reaction led to this quip from ESPN's Bomani Jones:

At this point, watching Oregon's offense at work might double as a remedy for claustrophobia. The high-powered offense led by quarterback Marcus Mariota routinely makes big plays, with wide receivers finding acres of lush green space between puzzled safeties and cornerbacks.

Wide receiver Devon Allen's 70-yard catch and run touchdown in the second quarter is a prime example of this.

However, the Ducks could have used a few more of those plays during the first half as the running game stalled and Michigan State did well to control the ball and time of possession.

The Spartans defense held about as tough as 11 men can against the vaunted Ducks attack. It gave their own offense, led by quarterback Connor Cook, the opportunities needed to catch fire in the first half.

The Spartans racked up 24 points in the second quarter alone. Jeremy Langford kicked off the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown run and Cook tossed a pair of touchdowns after a Michael Geiger field goal to give his team a surprising 24-18 lead going into the halftime break.

Cook was superb, but wasn't entirely error-free early on. He threw an ugly interception right after making a beautiful toss down the right sideline, but didn't let it affect his play during the contest. Chris Solari of The Lansing State Journal noted this was par for the course for the signal-caller:

Few expected the Spartans to take a lead into the second half. The defense's work against Oregon's rushing attack was particularly noteworthy, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:

Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde liked the way the Spartans responded to the early 11-0 deficit: 

The unlikely advantage held well into the third quarter. Michigan State padded their slim lead with a 42 yard field goal from Geiger just over four minutes into the second half.

But Oregon's aerial attack wouldn't stay grounded for long, as Mariota found Allen in the back of the end zone for the wideout's second touchdown in as many catches, cutting the deficit to two points.

This play seemed to break a confident Spartan side, as the Ducks would score two more unanswered touchdowns to take a 39-27 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Mariota, who finished with 318 yards passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions, did a fantastic job of waiting for the Spartans defense to break down, despite running few plays in the first half and having limited opportunities to establish a rhythm.

Forde noted Mariota did a fine job of taking advantage of busted coverage on his 37-yard touchdown pass to Keanon Lowe, which put his team back in front in the third quarter:

 The pressure of keeping up with the Ducks offense regularly breaks teams down.

Down by 12 and with approximately eight minutes left to go in the game, Cook tried force a long pass down the middle. The ball got tipped into the air and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu made a sensational diving interception, which snuffed out the Spartans last solid opportunity to get back into the game.

The Oregonian's Andrew Grief recapped the play:

Oregon would eventually wind down the clock and put the game away on a Royce Freeman touchdown run with just over a minute to go, leaving the home team with a deserving 46-27 final scoreline.

The result of this game should have major implications for the College Football Playoff. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany believes these big-time matchups will be an important barometer for judging a team's success at the end of the year.

"Everyone is gonna have 10 more games to play, so if you don't continue to play well, it doesn't matter," said Delaney, via USA Today's George Schroeder. "But if you continue to play well and you're in a cluster of teams (under consideration for the playoff at the end of the season), it's something from which people will draw conclusions."

The Spartans played well enough, but they are in danger of missing out on the playoff if there are a smattering of undefeated teams from the major conferences hanging around at the end of the season. They will need to remain perfect from here on out and focus on capturing a Big Ten championship. If they can run the table against the remaining competition and a few other college football titans topple, this team could find it's way into the discussion.

Oregon is in fine position to continue its offensive assault on unfortunate college football defenses. With Mariota running the offense to near perfection at times, this team might be nearly impossible to keep up with as the season goes along. There is some budding NFL talent on this roster, and a run at the national title will do just fine for the standouts on this squad.

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Pac-12 to Investigate Pat Haden Sideline Incident in USC-Stanford Game

Pat Haden's trip to the sideline during USC's 13-10 win over Stanford may come at a steep cost. Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel reported that the Pac-12 will take a deeper look at an incident involving the Trojans athletic director and game officials:

The Pac-12 will review the incident in which USC athletic director Pat Haden engaged with officials on the sidelines during his program's 13-10 victory at Stanford on Saturday. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the league will be "reviewing the situation" in a text message to SI.com. 

A Pac-12 spokesman said the league will not comment further until it reviews the situation with officials, which is in accordance with league protocol.

You can see video of the incident here, via The Big Lead's Michael Shamburger.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian explained after the game that he had wanted Haden to come down to the field to discuss an issue with the referees because he was afraid of incurring further punishment. Sarkisian had already been penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I didn't feel like I was in position to continue to discuss that with the officiating crew in risk of getting a second penalty," he said, via Thamel. "I felt I was better off getting Pat in between, talk it through to make sure everybody understood and moved on."

Many were surprised and appalled that Haden would actually cross what is the accepted line for ADs during game action—inserting himself or herself unprompted in the game itself. Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk believes that both the NCAA and Pac-12 should bring the hammer down on Haden:

What adds another layer of intrigue to the situation is that Haden is a member of the panel that selects the four teams in the postseason playoff, per Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer:

USA Today's Dan Wolken argued that Haden should lose his place on the selection committee:

The 13 people selected to pick the participants in college football's first playoff were done so because of their integrity, their ability to be impartial and their level-headedness in a high-pressure job with tremendous public scrutiny.

An athletics director running down to argue penalties and making a spectacle of himself on national television does not exactly scream impartiality and level-headedness.

Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel took the opposite view, feeling that Haden's outburst doesn't speak to his ability to accurately judge a team's playoff credentials:

The outcome of the Pac-12's review will likely have a large say on whether Haden's place on the committee is truly under threat.

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Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Picks off Michigan State's Connor Cook to Help Seal Win

No. 3-ranked Oregon hosted No. 7 Michigan State Saturday in what most would call the marquee game of the weekend.

The contest was full of electrifying plays, but the play that sealed the win for the Ducks might have been the most spectacular.

Late in the fourth quarter, with Oregon up by 12, defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu laid out for a tipped pass and hauled in an amazing interception.

The Ducks went on to beat the Spartans 46-27.

[Vine]

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BYU Quarterback Taysom Hill Hurdles Texas Defender for 30-Yard Touchdown

We've already seen one impressive hurdle today, but this one might top it.

In the third quarter of the BYU-Texas game, Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill got loose for a long run.

Hill leaped over the final Longhorns defender to complete the 30-yard score.

Here's another look at the play:

[Vine]

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Barry Sanders Jr. Gets Absolutely Crushed by USC's Hayes Pullard

Stanford running back Barry Sanders Jr. is lit up during this Pac-12 showdown. How well do you think these two teams will do the rest of the year?

Watch the video to see a monster hit on Barry Sanders Jr.

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Ohio State's Dontre Wilson Makes Incredible Catch over VA Tech Defender

The Ohio State Buckeyes are in an early deficit against the Virginia Tech Hokies, but running back Dontre Wilson is trying to keep them in the game.

In the first half, the sophomore from Texas made this incredible catch over the back of a Virginia Tech defender.

[Vine, Twitter]

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Why Win over Stanford Puts USC in Driver's Seat for Pac-12 Title

The USC Trojans took down the Stanford Cardinal, 13-10, in a battle to the end. Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss what this win means for the Trojans' future.

How far do you think they will go in 2014?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Michigan's Khalid Hill Levels Notre Dame's Andrew Trumbetti on Block

With this being the last time the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Michigan Wolverines are schedule to play, both sides haven't been afraid to play aggressively.

During the first quarter, Michigan's Khalid Hill was extremely aggressive on this block, leveling Notre Dame defensive lineman Andrew Trumbetti.

[Vine]

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