NCAA Football News

Tennessee Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

Team 118 of the Tennessee Volunteers kicked off the 2014 season with a resounding 38-7 win over the Utah State Aggies Sunday night. 

The Vols had no problem limiting quarterback Chuckie Keeton and completely shutting down the Utah State offense. In fact, they were well on their way toward a shutout before a busted coverage in the fourth quarter allowed the Aggies to finally put seven points on the board. 

What makes the blowout all the more impressive is the fact that Tennessee started an incredible 15 newcomers on offense, defense and special teams.

In a night with that many newcomers, there are bound to be serious mistakes. However, Tennessee's coaches did a fantastic job of managing their young players, keeping their emotions in check and limiting penalties and mental mistakes.

Here's a report card breakdown of every new Tennessee starter who took the field Sunday night. 

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Is USC Finally Ready to Take Back the Pac-12?

Southern California’s season-opening thrashing of Fresno State was a great coming-out party for new coach Steve Sarkisian, but now the real work starts.

If 14th-ranked USC truly is headed back to the top of the Pac-12, the proof will come on the road Saturday against No. 13 Stanford, the conference's two-time defending champion.

But for the Trojans this isn’t just about positioning themselves for a run at a playoff spot.

It’s also about avenging two defeats to Stanford that epitomized USC’s downward spiral in recent years: the 55-21 embarrassment in 2009 that included then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh going for a two-point pile-on conversion in the late going and an early-season defeat in Matt Barkley’s senior year of 2012 that exposed USC as a fraudulent preseason No. 1.

Clearly, the Trojans now have the weapons they need to accomplish exactly that against a Stanford team that has won five of the last seven meetings in a rivalry that dates back to 1905.

USC’s offensive attack is no Trojan horse this season, operating on the sly with a hidden plan. Instead, it’s an overt stampede, a nonstop no-huddle system that makes football’s traditional breaks for communication look vastly overrated.

It’s also really fun stuff that should help grow USC’s already dominant brand around the nation and make it even easier to get marquee players at a school that has always had plenty of them.

In the 52-13 dismantling of Fresno State, the Trojans rattled off a Pac-12 record 105 plays from scrimmage. But the test of whether the hurry-up Trojans are as potent as they seem will come against Stanford, which in recent years has owned a formula for killing tempo by dominating in the trenches.

USC didn’t huddle once during its first three possessions while racking up 21 points and 238 yards. But Sarkisian says it’s a mistake to think the game will hinge entirely on whether his guys can maintain their helter-skelter pace.

Instead, Sarkisian said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters, this early-season showdown likely will be decided by three key components:

“Which team can really run the ball, which team can utilize that running game to create some explosive plays in the passing game and who can convert on third down to extend drives. Because as fast as we want to go, if we don’t convert third downs then we’re standing on the sidelines and not going very fast, and the same can be said for Stanford.”

Besides the fast start, USC’s other gaudy numbers included 37 first downs and 701 yards of total offense. The main cog in all that production was quarterback Cody Kessler, who was 24-of-37 for 394 yards and four touchdowns while connecting with 10 different receivers.

On the Tuesday conference call Sarkisian said he liked everything he saw from his quarterback:

"I loved the way Cody played Saturday. Cody I thought played really tough, gritty, smart … He really handled the game, playing in a new system, really well. I don’t know if we could have asked any more from him."

Kessler also served notice he’s capable of running as strong of a Heisman Trophy campaign as the player who was widely believed to be the strongest candidate in Los Angeles—UCLA QB Brett Hundley. But just as importantly for the launch of the Sarkisian era, the Trojans showcased a stable of young talent that should be able to restore their dynastic ways in the Pac-12.

USC played 11 freshmen against Fresno State, the most by any Pac-12 team in this season’s openers. And most of those frosh performances were the real deal, not just cameo mop-up appearances in a blowout.

Both starting offensive guard spots were manned by freshmen, with Damien Mama on the right side and Toa Lobendahn on the left. When Mama needed a break, the understudy who came on was another freshman, Viane Talamaivao.

It was the first time since World War II (when such records became official) that USC started a pair of freshmen on the O-line in an opener, according to

USC freshmen had an equally big impact as Kessler’s targets. JuJu Smith caught four passes for a game-high 123 receiving yards. Tight end Bryce Dixon appeared to present a solution to USC’s woes at tight end, where Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick has been ruled academically ineligible, and Chris Willson suffered a broken foot Saturday.

But it was Adoree’ Jackson who set himself apart as USC’s most exciting and versatile newcomer. The combination receiver-cornerback-returner wounded Fresno State in all three phases of the game while appearing on 13 offensive plays, 25 defensive ones and 14 on special teams.

Jackson’s three catches included an 18-yard score, and Sarkisian said he’d like to see even more of him.

"I'd like to see his role increased more," on offense and defense Sarkisian said during a Sunday teleconference with reporters (via the Los Angeles Times). "I think he can handle it. He showed he can handle doing all three phases."

And though the final score made Saturday’s outcome look easy, the Fresno State game also demonstrated this crew can maintain focus if USC continues to be a lightning rod for distractions and controversy.

The fast start erased any notion that USC would be affected by the Josh Shaw fiasco that saw the cornerback suspended because of his fable about injuring his ankles while rescuing a nephew from drowning. Also pushed aside was the Instagram rant from running back Anthony Brown, in which the ex-Trojan accused Sarkisian of being a racist.

Maybe such disruptions are old hat at a school where Reggie Bush handed back his Heisman and Lane Kiffin was fired around midnight in midseason. Or maybe Sarkisian simply has an unyielding grasp on a program on the rise.

After the win Sarkisian acknowledged the week’s difficulty but didn’t gloat about overcoming it.

"There's nowhere in the coaching manual where you go to section 13.2 and it tells you how to handle what we went through this week," Sarkisian told reporters. "We handled it the way we handled it, then we went out and played a football game, and it went well."

And if it goes equally well on Saturday, one guesses that USC will have plenty to say about how nice the view is, back atop the Pac-12.

Tom Weir covered college football as a columnist for USA Today.

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NCAA College Football Picks: Week 2 Against the Spread

It was a first week of college football which provided several spread surprises, with a handful of ranked teams either losing or forced to sweat out a narrow victory. That may not be the case this time around, as there are not many games in Week 2 of the college season between top-25 teams—but the two that are have major BCS implications.

The marquee matchup of the week is Oregon hosting Michigan State, both 1-0 and both residing in the top 10. In another key game out west, one team will go 0-1 in Pac 12 play when Stanford plays host to its old rival USC.

A few ranked teams have big tests this weekend with Notre Dame hosting Michigan, Oklahoma hitting the road to play Tulsa, Ohio State hosting Virginia Tech, and South Carolina looking to avoid going 0-2 facing East Carolina.

Without further ado, let's get to the picks, with the lines again courtesy of  


Pittsburgh (-4.5) vs. Boston College

In an ESPN Friday night contest, there is an early-season ACC battle between a couple of 1-0 teams with Boston College playing host to Pitt. Both teams had easy wins last week and the Panthers were especially impressive on both sides of the ball, rushing for 410 yards and not giving up any points on D.

Pick Against the Spread: Pitt is the better all-around team and will win while easily covering the spread.


No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Oregon (-13)

Both teams played cream puffs in their openers and both won in blowouts. Michigan State does have a good defense, but they will not be able to keep up with a Ducks offense that had 380 passing yards and 293 rushing yards in their first game. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will add to his Heisman buzz in this game after his great start last week when his stats read 14/20 for 267 yards with 3 TD and 0 INT.


Pick Against the Spread: Take Oregon in this one at home while ignoring that it has only covered in one of its last five home games. In their openers, Oregon covered and MSU did not.


No. 4 Oklahoma (-24.5) vs. Tulsa

Oklahoma is on the road, but a big betting favorite facing a squad that did win its opener against Tulane, but took OT to do so. The Sooner pass defense will tame a Tulsa team that had 438 passing yards in its first game. On top of that, there are just too many weapons on offense that should rain golden showers on top of the Golden Hurricanes' sketchy defense.

Pick Against the Spread: Feel comfortable going with OU in this one, as it has legit championship aspirations and have covered the spread in four of its past five.


Virginia Tech (+12) vs. No. 8 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are legit at home, but it's a different story when taking the spread into account, covering in just one of their last five in their house. Meanwhile, the Hokies have a lot of young talent that looked solid in their blowout opener win. Last week, Freshman Shai McKenzie rushed for over 100 yards on only nine carries and should have another solid game in Columbus.

Pick Against the Spread: Take Tech in this one to at least cover the spread, and maybe even pull off the upset. The betting trends for them do not point to it, but the budding young talent will give the Buckeyes a game.


East Carolina vs. South Carolina (-13.5)

South Carolina (as well as many oddsmakers) was embarrassed at home in its season opener, giving up 52 points in the loss to Texas A&M. However, you have to think of these games as an investment—not a gamble—when the season is so early. East Carolina also put up 52 points in its season opener facing North Carolina Central, but they will be facing a Gamecocks team that will take out their frustrations on them. This game may get ugly with South Carolina easily winning in a blowout. 

Pick Against the Spread: No way USC will start the season 0-2, crushing ECU at home.


No. 14 USC vs. No. 13 Stanford (-3)

The Pac 12 rivalry starts early this season, with Stanford the betting favorite taking on USC in a matchup of two top-25 teams. Both teams were impressive on both sides of the ball in their opening-game blowouts; maybe more so the Trojans, who played a better opponent in Fresno State. But now they face a legit Stanford defense.

Pick Against the Spread: While USC won and covered last season beating the Cardinal, they will not be so fortunate this season. With the luxury of home field advantage, Stanford will prevail.


Michigan (+4.5) vs. No. 16 Notre Dame

Both teams easily won their openers, but the big question is, can Notre Dame and its D deal with a Michigan squad that had 350 rushing yards in their first game? Michigan should be able to continue its rushing success against the Irish, which gave up 141 yards on the ground to Rice in Week 1. 

Pick Against the Spread: The Wolverines are unranked, but perhaps not for long. They head to South Bend with confidence and will cover this one.


Last Week's Picks : 2-5-1

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Nebraska Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

Nebraska football fans got to see their Cornhuskers get off to a good start, beating Florida Atlantic 55-7 in Lincoln. In that game, a number of starters got their first chance to shine under the spotlight.

A first game is always a scary time for a player, as live-game conditions are a very different thing than practice. So a player's performance in that first game can tell you a lot.

On a classic A-F grading scale, here’s how Bo Pelini's new starters graded out.

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Michigan State vs. Oregon Preview: NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

Michigan State travels to Oregon in one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the college football season. 

While the game will have significant national title implications, the stadium will also be filled with NFL scouts checking out a wide range of talent on both sidelines. 

The following slideshow highlights 10 of the most highly touted prospects who will be featured in this game, and details how they will have a chance to impact their draft stock in Saturday's showdown in Eugene.

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What Georgia Can Learn from Texas A&M on How to Beat South Carolina

Undeniably, Week 1 was kind to the Georgia Bulldogs. A 45-21 win over the Clemson Tigers showcased a much improved defense, vaulted star running back Todd Gurley into the Heisman conversation and propelled the Dawgs up the polls.

But not all the good news came out of the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium. Texas A&M's thrashing of the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina, was also cause for optimism for Georgia.

As the Aggies proved in Week 1, South Carolina can be beaten, and here's what Georgia can learn from that game.


Conquering the Crowd

The fans in Williams-Brice Stadium are so rabid that they respond to Darude's 1999 hit "Sandstorm" like it's brand new every time it comes on. The scene is equal parts maddening and dizzying, and for opposing teams it can be downright intimidating. And that's before kickoff.

Prior to last Thursday, the Gamecocks had ridden the wave of that raucous crowd to 18 consecutive home wins, the longest such streak in the nation.  

To be sure, the loss to Texas A&M won't dull the enthusiasm of the crowd when the Bulldogs come to town on September 13, and it would be a disservice to the South Carolina faithful to expect anything short of deafening volume, "Sandstorm" and all. But for a young Georgia team, it helps to know that Williams-Brice Stadium can be conquered.

The last time Georgia traveled to Columbia (in 2012), the Dawgs were overwhelmed by a ferocious defense, the magnitude of the game (both teams were ranked in the Top 10) and the hostile environment. The end result: South Carolina 35, Georgia 7.

Just knowing that South Carolina can be defeated at home—even by a team plagued with question marks early in the season, like Texas A&M—should be a confidence booster.


Spreading the Football

Watching Gurley run against Clemson was a beautiful sight. Every time he touched the ball, he was a threat. More than half of his runs resulted in first downs or touchdowns.

But Gurley is always good. What made him great on Saturday (in addition to incredible offensive line play) was offensive coordinator Mike Bobo's patience and game-planning. Those qualities may vest themselves in different ways next Saturday.

As Texas A&M and new star quarterback Kenny Hill demonstrated clearly last week, South Carolina's defensive backs and linebackers are not adept at covering one-on-one in isolated space. Hill's 511 passing yards against the Gamecocks was a testament to his ability to get the ball out quickly and accurately. However, the fact that five of the Aggie receivers accounted for at least four catches and more than 50 receiving yards is a testament to South Carolina's inability to cover in space.

Georgia showed glimpses of the short passing game on Saturday against Clemson as well, but expect that facet of the game to be utilized more regularly against the Gamecocks. In particular, look for shifty playmakers like Reggie Davis, Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie to turn relatively short routes into big gains.

On Saturday, Georgia relied on a number of big offensive sets. It was not uncommon to see a tight end (often freshman Jeb Blazevich), a true fullback (Taylor Maxey) and an H-back (Quayvon Hicks) on the field at the same time as Gurley, Keith Marshall or Nick Chubb in the backfield. That formation will likely be less prevalent against a Gamecock defense that has such a demonstrably established weakness against the passing attack.

Georgia won't ignore its powerful running game, but the Dawgs would be foolish not to exploit South Carolina's coverage deficiencies. 


Setting Up the Run

Georgia's offense won't run away from the run. If anything, the short passing game will keep any defense honest and in doing so open up the running game. Though less spoken of, Texas A&M also had success running the football against South Carolina as the Aggies racked up 169 yards on the ground to go with four rushing touchdowns. Trey Williams and Brandon Williams each accounted for over 50 yards and more than five yards per carry.

And neither of those backs are Gurley. As the Heisman candidate showed on Saturday, he doesn't need tons of carries to take over the game. Expect Gurley to be Gurley when he gets his opportunities.

Some well-timed draws and continued reliance on the toss sweep should keep the Georgia running game in a good position to finish the game late—especially if the passing game can take the wind out of the Gamecock defense early.


Defensive Confusion

South Carolina running back Mike Davis was a non-factor in the season opener as he continued to battle back from injury. If he's not back fully healthy in time for the Georgia game, the South Carolina offense could be in trouble.

For Georgia, putting pressure on the quarterback must remain a point of emphasis. Gamecock receivers like Nick Jones, Pharoh Cooper and Damiere Byrd are more than capable of making big plays and quarterback Dylan Thompson is an experienced passer who won't go down easily in such a big game. But it's hard to complete passes with Leonard Floyd and Amarlo Herrera in the backfield all day—just ask Clemson.

As defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt continues to develop his youthful defensive backfield, a premium will be placed on pressuring the quarterback. If Thompson struggles to get comfortable and fails to find a rhythm, the secondary will likely acquit itself quite nicely and overcome small miscues. However, if a strong Gamecock offensive line controls the battle in the trenches, Georgia's cornerbacks and safeties may be depended on to make some big plays.


Embrace the Moment

This Georgia team seemed keenly aware of the opportunity a win against Clemson presented. Accordingly, that same mentality should be carried over to the South Carolina game, which is even more important given SEC East implications. Players and coaches alike need to feed off of the game's magnitude and not shy away from it.

South Carolina is the team with its back in the corner. For the Gamecocks, a loss to Georgia means two conference losses and a setback against the prohibitive favorite in the division. Losing to the Bulldogs all but eliminates South Carolina from clear division contention just three games into the season. It's Steve Spurrier's squad that should be tense coming into this game, not Mark Richt's.

On Monday, Richt confessed to Tim Tucker of the Albany Herald, "You're probably never as good as you think after a win and never as bad as you think after a loss."

That sentiment translates to both Georgia and South Carolina in very different ways at this juncture. Georgia needs to prepare for a Gamecock squad that is much better than its season-opening loss may have implied. Similarly, the Dawgs need to focus on their own weaknesses. Fortunately, Georgia has an extra week to do so.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of

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USC Football: How Steve Sarkisian's History vs. Stanford Will Help Trojans

No. 13 Stanford and No. 14 USC do not have much time to study game film on the other in preparation for Saturday's Pac-12 contest at Stanford Stadium. 

But one need not refer to the game tape to know what to anticipate. 

"Two really good football teams with playmakers...and great defenses, too," Stanford head coach David Shaw said on Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference call. "The games are tight and exciting and are fun to watch." 

When the Cardinal and Trojans get together, the result is a competitive game. Each of the last four outcomes were decided by single digits. 

The same has been true when Shaw and first-year USC head coach Steve Sarkisian meet. In their last two encounters while Sarkisian was at Washington, each claimed a single-digit-point decision. 

In fact, losses to Sarkisian and USC account for two of the Cardinal's three Pac-12 blemishes over the course of their two-year reign as conference champions. 

USC ended a four-game losing skid to Stanford last November in a 20-17 thriller at the Coliseum. In 2012, Sarkisian's Huskies beat the Cardinal in a similar defensive struggle, 17-13. 

Stanford is a team known for its defensive prowess, and low-scoring contests would seemingly be right in the Cardinal's wheelhouse. However, the last few seasons proves Stanford is at its most vulnerable when scoring is dragged down into the teens. 

The Cardinal may not run a spread system, and they will huddle after most plays. But Tuesday, Sarkisian described an offense that is anything but vanilla. 

"The one thing that makes Stanford difficult [to prepare for] is that I think they're a little bit more multiple [in their formations] than people give them credit for," he said. "Everyone wants to focus on the makeup of their big package and they bring in the [extra] offensive linemen. 

"But they still do the traditional pro-set. They do stuff out of two-tight end sets. They do stuff out of three-wide receiver sets. They give you a lot of different looks and they execute well." 


Turnover Battle 

On his Sunday conference call, Sarkisian discussed a "simple formula" to game-planning for an opponent of Stanford's caliber. Execution was one part of his equation, and that's been plainly evident in the history both the coach and his new team have with the Cardinal. 

More specifically, lack of execution has opened windows of opportunity that both Sarkisian and USC have successfully exploited against the two-time Pac-12 champions. 

Mistakes were critical in each of the last four combined meetings between USC and Stanford, and Sarkisian and Stanford. 

The 2013 classic between USC and Stanford saw the Trojans defense intercept Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan twice, including once in the red zone. USC also recovered a Stanford fumble. 

Winning the turnover battle proved equally key to Sarkisian's teams efforts against the Cardinal as well.

With Josh Nunes playing quarterback, the Cardinal failed to score an offensive touchdown and coughed up two turnovers against the Huskies in 2012. 

"The challenge this week is prominent," Shaw said. "We can't make mistakes." 

Landing on the other side of the turnover coin plays into Stanford's game plan, and Sarkisian has experienced it firsthand. 

In Washington's visit to Stanford last October, the Huskies gave up just one turnover, but it proved costly in a 31-28 loss.

Quarterback Keith Price's fourth-quarter interception was the unceremonious end to an 18-play, five-minute-and-37-second drive that led Washington to the Stanford 7-yard line.

Washington was also plagued by special teams mishaps in that game, allowing a 99-yard touchdown return from Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery. Montgomery set up another Cardinal score with a 68-yard return. 

The Trojans will see Montgomery on Saturday.  

Containing the speedy Montgomery is paramount for the Trojans special teams, and generating pressure is key to the Trojans defense forcing Stanford into mistakes. 

USC's kickoff return team accomplished the former last season, holding Montgomery to 17.8 yards per return. 

As for the latter, former Washington and current USC coordinator Justin Wilcox's defenses have applied more pressure to Stanford's quarterbacks in the last two years than most Cardinal opponents. The Huskies recorded two sacks in each of the two meetings. 

USC's ability to apply pressure on Hogan Saturday will play a crucial role in the outcome. 


Line vs. Line

Perhaps no other Pac-12 contest will attract quite as much attention for its line play. USC's defensive front against the Stanford offensive line takes top billing—specifically, defensive lineman Leonard Williams and offensive tackle Andrus Peat. 

Shaw praised Williams as "a difference-maker," while Sarkisian credited both Peat's individual talent as well as Stanford's recent tradition of line play. 

"[The Stanford coaches] continued to develop him, like they have with lineman in the past," Sarkisian said. "If [he is] not the leader, then [he'ls one of the leaders of that offensive unit, and it shows in his play." 

The two may not see much of each other head-to-head—Williams will often line up on the interior—but their individual performances will set the tone in one of the game's most crucial elements. 

"They're two of the better players in our conference," Sarkisian said. 


Picking Up the Pace

Outstanding line play is nothing new for either program. The significant, new dynamic USC brings to The Farm for this year's installment in the series is its implementation of a no-huddle offense. 

Last season was Sarkisian's first in such a system, and Washington had success with it against Stanford's ballyhooed defense. 

The Huskies accrued 489 yards of total offense with 350 through the air. 

That's promising for USC quarterback Cody Kessler's outlook on Saturday, particularly given how comfortable he looked operating in the new scheme against Fresno State.

Kessler won the first Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week nomination of 2014 for his career-high 394-yard, four-passing touchdown performance against Fresno State. 

Shaw said some offenses excel in their efficiency and others in their explosiveness, but USC showed both qualities.  

Stanford's staked its claim to the Pac-12 championship each of the last two years at the expense of uptempo offensive foes, however. 

Breaking the near-stalemate between these teams is exceedingly difficult, no matter how much time Sarkisian or Shaw had to game plan. 

But Shaw did express confidence in one component of this matchup—where it falls on the schedule, on Week 2. 

"I don't think either of us would have chosen this," he said. 


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics compiled via

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Steven Manfro Injury: Updates on UCLA RB's Knee and Return

A mere days removed from a scare against unranked Virginia to start their 2014 college football season, the No. 11 UCLA Bruins lost a critical rotational player when running back Steven Manfro went down with a knee injury in practice.     

According to Jack Wang of the L.A. Daily News, the redshirt junior's injury is of the "serious" variety upon first analysis by head coach Jim Mora:

Manfro was set to see an uptick in usage this year for the Bruins, having only recorded 32 total carries over the course of his first two years with the team.

Last year he took 24 of those and looked promising as they translated to 107 yards and a touchdown. Two of his eight attempts in 2012 went for touchdowns.

In the aforementioned scare against the Cavaliers, Manfro dropped a pass and took just two carries for negative yardage, although that sort of output was to be expected against a school that annually touts a defensive powerhouse.

Mora had big plans for Manfro in a committee approach, as one can glean from his response to being asked who he wants to see lead the team in rushing, as captured by Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times:

"'Jordon James, Paul Perkins, Steven Manfro,' Mora said. He even mentions, with a smirk, linebacker Myles Jack, a part-timer on offense."

Notice the lack of quarterback Brett Hundley there, which is surely Mora's goal with the committee approach. With Manfro out an unknown amount of time, the offense will lean on the other two names for production.

Senior Jordon James took five carries for three yards against Virginia, while sophomore Paul Perkins led the team in rushing with 16 carries for 80 yards. The latter figures to see an uptick in usage one season removed from taking 134 carries for 573 yards and six touchdowns.

Manfro is a major loss for the time being that restricts the former strategy Mora sought to employ, but the good news is that the Bruins will not encounter the Cavaliers again on their hunt to make the College Football Playoff.


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Kenny Hill Destroys South Carolina for College Football's Top Performance

Texas A&M's starting quarterback, Kenny Hill, put on a performance like no other against South Carolina this past week. Completing 44 of his 60 passes for 511 yards and three touchdowns, Hill absolutely dominated during his first career start. How well do you think this stud will do in the future?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Florida A&M vs. Miami: Complete Game Preview

The Miami Hurricanes (0-1) will look to rebound from an 18-point loss when they host in-state Football Championship Subdivision opponent Florida A&M (0-1) at Sun Life Stadium on Sept. 6.

Last week, the Rattlers fell to Jackson State 22-17 on a 50-yard prayer as time expired, starting the 2014 season on a rather deflating note.

Miami leads the series 8-1, winning each of the last eight meetings—including a 45-0 victory in 2010.

The game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be streamed on ESPN3.

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Todd Gurley's Impressive Performance vs. Clemson Spawns Commemorative Graffiti

Georgia running back Todd Gurley put on a show against Clemson on Saturday, and his performance inspired an interesting work of art.

Gurley ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries against the Tigers, and he also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the game.

It's those types of numbers that have Bulldogs fans believing Gurley could take home the Heisman Trophy this season. With this graffiti art, the "Gurley for Heisman" campaign has begun.

[Instagram, h/t Dr. Saturday and Todd Gurley]

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2015 Recruits Who Could Start on College Football Teams Right Now

College programs are already counting down the days for premier 2015 prospects to arrive on campus. Though early enrollees are still four months away from making the leap, several standouts certainly seem capable of contributing this season if given an opportunity to forgo their senior campaigns.

No, we won't see top-ranked defensive end Josh Sweat chase down reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston or coveted California quarterback Josh Rosen carve up Pac-12 opponents this fall. Still, it's interesting to imagine college football's stars of tomorrow making an impact beyond high school fields today.

The transition requires polished fundamentals, a motivated mindset and refined physical tools. We examined eight members of the 2015 class who already appear to be college-ready at this stage of their careers.

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College Football Rankings 2014: Power Ranking All 128 Teams for Week 2

One week of the 2014 college football season is in the books. Though a single game doesn't dictate how the entire year will go, we are able to make some early assessments of the top teams. As a result, a lot of movement has taken place in the Bleacher Report power rankings since the preseason list was published.

Several high-profile opening-week games left us with some perceived powers already saddled with a loss, while some big names that came out victorious didn't fare as well as expected. That is reflected in their current standing.

Our power rankings are comprised of an average of five ratings: the Associated Press media and Amway coaches polls, Bleacher Report's Top 25, ratings guru Jeff Sagarin's computer ledger and my personal ranking.

Scroll through to find where your favorite (and most hated) teams sit, then let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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Rapper Bun B Thinks Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill Should Earn 'Kenny Trill' Nickname

Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill has made only one start, but he put up such sensational numbers in it that he has earned himself quite a few nicknames already.

Shortly after Hill threw for 511 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-28 victory over South Carolina on Thursday, he started getting a lot of hype. Former Aggies quarterback—and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner—Johnny Manziel quickly dubbed Hill "Kenny Football" after the impressive performance. 

Another nickname that is out there is "Kenny Trill." It has a natural sound to it, but not everyone believes the nickname should be thrown out there so quickly. Former UGK member Bun B, aka "Trill OG," needs to see more of the quarterback before he is ready to get on board with the nickname.

It was a very good game by Hill, but he needs more than just one great game to show everyone he is for real.

[Twitter, h/t Black Sports Online]

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UCLA Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

In UCLA's 28-20 victory over Virginia, nine players assumed new roles as starters. 

Some of those appointments were due to injuries suffered by other members of the team. The others were based on both overall development and strong play during fall camp.

The sluggish effort by the team this past Saturday definitely permeated throughout the roster. As a result, it was a general mixed bag when it came to potential report card grades.  

This piece will include the statistical output for the following players, as well as speaking to the impact each athlete had during the game. A final grade will follow. 

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College Football Polls 2014: Comparing Week 2 AP and Coaches Polls

The Week 2 editions of the Associated Press and Amway Coaches Polls dropped Tuesday afternoon, and despite closer-than-expected games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, respectively, Florida State and Alabama remained the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 teams in America.

There was plenty of movement behind the top two, however, especially as a result of Texas A&M's 52-28 win at South Carolina. The Aggies started outside the Top 20 of both polls, and the Gamecocks started inside the Top 10 of both polls, but now those spots have largely reversed.

I say "largely," though, because they have not reversed entirely. In one poll, they have; in the other, they have not. But deciding what to do with Texas A&M was just one of many variations between the media poll and the Coaches poll, which always seem to deviate from each other in minor but notable ways.

Let's look at how they contrast from start to finish.

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Jacob Gilliam's Injury Exacerbates Tennessee's Run Game Issues

As if the Tennessee Volunteers offensive line wasn't already riddled with question marks after some season-opener struggles, head coach Butch Jones delivered a round of gut-shot news Tuesday:

Starting left tackle Jacob Gilliam will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered against Utah State.

Gilliam's injury only worsens issues UT knows it must address immediately along the offensive front. Despite a rousing 38-7 domination of Utah State, the Vols' line performance—particularly in the run game—was a big, hairy mole on an otherwise supermodel start to the season.

Senior quarterback Justin Worley was sacked twice and pressured on numerous other occasions. Most glaring was the run game inefficiency, however. Tennessee averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, finishing with 110 yards on 39 rushes.

Though UT continued to run throughout the game, offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian leaned heavily on the short passing game to cover the blemishes.

It's the kind of start that wasn't difficult to predict, considering UT lost all five of its starting linemen.

Jones didn't bother sugarcoating the line's performance at his weekly press conference Tuesday. Though he noted he doesn't really look at the yards-per-carry metric, it was clear the Vols' revamped group didn't pass its first test. 

There were about eight incidences where we were running the football, and we were one block away from a big play. A lot of times it's your backside cutoffs, your lineman not being on the proper defender. You have to be disciplined and stay low with your pad level. It's not just the offensive line. Sometimes, it may be the tight end on a combination block. It could be the back not making the proper read or the quarterback keeping it. There were a lot of single breakdowns. We are working to get that corrected.

The good news for UT is the issue is common for young lines learning to play together. The bad news is the Vols don't have a lot of time to get it fixed with a road trip to Oklahoma looming in two weeks, followed by an SEC gauntlet.

Now, they must correct those miscues without Gilliam, a hardworking, former walk-on, fifth-year senior who earned a scholarship for the first time this summer. The lineman from nearby Farragut High School went from feel-good story to line anchor when he solidified his starting role during camp.

With Gilliam gone, UT most likely will turn to redshirt freshman Brett Kendrick, another Knoxville product who reportedly came on toward the end of camp and more than held his own in Gilliam's stead Sunday.

At 6'6", 316 pounds, Kendrick has the ideal size for a tackle in Jones' power-spread system, but the athleticism is a work in progress.

Jones told's John Brice and Brent Hubbs (subscription required) that Kendrick would battle true freshman Coleman Thomas and Blair for the job:

[Kendrick has] continued to develop. He's done a good job of it. Now it's for real. He's taking coaching. He's listening to [offensive line coach Don] Mahoney. I'm starting to see a different mentality with them. He's not there yet, but I'm excited to see where he can take this. It's a concern from an overall depth standpoint, but the great thing is Brett Kendrick, Coleman Thomas and Dontavius Blair all have gotten some first-team reps.

The fallout from the Gilliam injury might not be as bad as it seems on the surface.

Though the Vols get much younger, they don't lose a lot in the way of experience or athleticism. Gilliam won the job for a reason, and that's his hard work and consistency—attributes that will be difficult to replace.

Kendrick has plenty of ability, as do Thomas and Blair. The latter two of the trio were the tackle starters on the first day of spring drills.

But Blair struggled to adjust to the offensive scheme and tempo, and Thomas' grasp on the starting job loosened when fellow freshman Jashon Robertson's play demanded his insertion into the first team, bumping guard Kyler Kerbyson to Thomas' spot.

In an ideal world, Thomas and Blair would be able to develop throughout a redshirt season. Tennessee's offensive line situation is anything but ideal.

One positive, Jones told GoVols247's Wes Rucker (subscription required) is whoever wins the job will be starting alongside UT left guard Marcus Jackson.

Despite the positive spin, Rucker told Bleacher Report there's no denying losing Gilliam stings.

"This definitely is a big blow for Tennessee, but it hurts the Vols more from a consistency and chemistry standpoint than it does from a pure talent standpoint, and more than anything, it really hurts their depth," Rucker said.

"They just don't have a lot of numbers there, and Gilliam had earned that position fair and square."

Football isn't fair, and now all Gilliam worked for was shredded with the twist of a knee. But, as Jones said, "that is football." Now, the Vols are forced to move on.

A bunch of star veterans are not going to run through the "T" in Neyland Stadium on Saturday. Jones and Mahoney have to patch-work that group and find a group of five that can get the job done.

With Gilliam a glorified cheerleader for the remainder of the season, that task just became a whole lot more difficult.


Unless otherwise noted, all statistics gathered from and quotes as well as observations obtained firsthand.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter here:


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Big 12 Football: 5 Head-to-Head Matchups to Watch for in Week 2

Week 1 of the new college football season is in the books, and there have already been some huge developments in and around the Big 12.

The biggest news surrounds the Texas Longhorns. Quarterback David Ash's career could now be in jeopardy after it was announced that he will miss the team's Week 2 contest against BYU with a concussion.

Other developments include the emergence of West Virginia after hanging in against Alabama, as well as the fall of Iowa State following its embarrassing loss to North Dakota State.

The only Big 12 matchup in Week 2 features Kansas State traveling to Ames to face the Cyclones. TCU has a bye week, while the rest of the conference faces opponents outside the league.

With so many intriguing games, from BYU-Texas to the lone Big 12 contest, there are sure to be some interesting head-to-head matchups on the field. Let's check out the top five in Week 2.

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Oklahoma vs. Tulsa Complete Game Preview

The Oklahoma Sooners are hoping this Saturday’s contest against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will be a perfect opportunity to build some momentum heading into a key September showdown.

If there was any doubt that the Sooners were true national title contenders, they certainly put that talk to rest following their win in the season opener. Conversely, the team’s opponent—the Golden Hurricane—also proved they’re a tough out, rallying from a two-touchdown deficit to win in two overtimes.

Although a pivotal matchup against Tennessee on September 13 awaits Oklahoma, this is no time to look ahead.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s matchup.


Where: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

When: Saturday, September 6 at noon ET

Watch: ABC/ESPN2

Live Stream: Sooner Sports

Listen: Sooner Sports Radio Network

Betting Line: Oklahoma (-24), per Vegas Insider

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Ted's Takes on the Pac-12: Cal Overshadows USC and UCLA in Week 1

USC had the most impressive win of the first Pac-12 weekend, while UCLA wracked the most nerves. 

But the most important win belonged to California. A program not far removed from Aaron Rodgers and DeSean Jackson was buried under a landslide last year.

The fallout from low football player graduation rates that then-athletic director Sandy Barbour (now at Penn State) cited upon firing coach Jeff Tedford, wobbly recruiting and player defections resulted in a disastrous 2013: 1-11, 551 points allowed.

Nothing helps Cal's financial battle to pay off refurbished Memorial Stadium more than football success. In this area in 2013, a coach hired for his offense fielded a woeful defense.

No coach in America needed a win more than Sonny Dykes.

Cal delivered. On defense, it allowed only one play of over 25 yards and made a final stand in the closing minutes.

There wasn't one moment last season when you looked at the Bears and envisioned their defense making any stand, anywhere, at any time.

New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman is the star conference assistant of Week 1.

No coach in America enjoyed a win more than Dykes.

Was anyone shocked to see Steve Sarkisian on College GameDay Saturday morning? Hours before his first USC game, Sark did a satellite interview that, to no one's surprise, had nothing to do with the game.

Trojans supporters had to smile as Sark calmly answered the ritual questions about Josh Shaw and Anthony Brown. Who among us could be so poised when addressing being labeled a racist on Twitter?

Later that afternoon, the Trojans mimicked Sark. They hammered Fresno State, showing not one sign of "distraction."

USC operated at a fierce tempo and, most importantly, looked like it loved playing, something that's been missing the last few years.

Depth issues will continue to hover over USC this fall, but positive first impressions of the Sarkisian era will linger.

UCLA, meanwhile, needs an eraser. The Bruins couldn't protect Brett Hundley. And Hundley did not react well to pressure.

The 2014 hype has focused on Hundley more so than Oregon's Marcus Mariota. It is Hundley on the SI cover. It is Hundley, calmly but firmly, telling an ESPN interviewer recently on SportsCenter that he believes himself to be the country’s best QB.

At Virginia, Hundley tucked the ball and fled the pocket at first pressure. The Cavaliers fed on that and ramped up their rush. Bruins fans had to have memories of Arizona State sacking Hundley nine times last year.

ESPN's Matt Millen zeroed in on Hundley's lack of pocket presence during the TV broadcast. Not until the third quarter did Hundley step into the pocket and deliver a pass with pressure in his face.

For Hundley and UCLA to reach their goals, he must deliver on the very QB trait he worked on most to improve.

More notes from around the Pac-12:


Five "New" Impact Faces

ASU's Jaelen Strong could be this year's impact receiver in the conference. He was good last year (1,122 YDS) despite not having a full offseason to prepare. His 2014 start is more impressive given he only played the first half.

Arizona's Austin Hill missed 2013, but his return gives freshman quarterback Anu Solomon an experienced wideout.

Utah's Travis Wilson, a medical question after last year, was accurate and consistent. USC's Cody Kessler looked as if he had been born to run the fast-paced offense.

The Bruins' Eric Kendricks is a rock for this year's UCLA defense, which needs to replace Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh and Jordan Zumwalt in the front seven.


Continuing Trend

The Pac-12 ran the most plays per game in 2013. Week 1 shows that is unlikely to change:

Also of note: Stanford ran the fewest plays in the conference last year and in Week 1 of 2014 (62).

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