NCAA Football News

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State: Score, Highlights and Reaction for 2015 Egg Bowl

Behind Chad Kelly's 310 total yards and a big first half, the No. 18 Ole Miss Rebels defeated the No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs 38-27 in the Egg Bowl on Saturday night. 

The Egg Bowl hasn't always been highly contested. In the 112-year history of the rivalry, Saturday night was just the sixth time that both teams were nationally ranked. 

The game would have been even bigger had the Alabama Crimson Tide lost to the Auburn Tigers earlier on Saturday. That would have given Ole Miss an opportunity to win the SEC West and play the Florida Gators for the conference title next week, but the Crimson Tide's win dispelled any of those hopes. 

Kelly threw two touchdown passes, both to Damore'ea Stringfellow, and rushed for another one, picking up 74 yards on the ground against the Bulldogs defense.

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, who cited this game as a reason why he came back for his senior season, per Marcus Hunter of WAPT News, didn't have his best day, throwing for 254 yards with an interception and a fumble.

His bad night started early, as he fumbled the ball away on the Bulldogs' first drive of the game. 

Kelly made Prescott pay for his turnover and drove down the field to score the game's first points with a 27-yard touchdown run.

It was Kelly's 10th rushing touchdown of the season, the most by a Rebels quarterback since Archie Manning in 1969, according to Ole Miss' official Twitter account.

The Rebels offense continually threw different looks at Mississippi State and moved the ball with ease, as's Bob Carskadon noted:

Kelly hit Stringfellow with a lob in the corner of the end zone to put the Rebels up by two touchdowns with five minutes, 10 seconds left to play in the first quarter. 

ESPN shared the replay (via Clay Bess):

Prescott's night went from bad to worse when he forced a pass under pressure. Tony Bridges picked it off and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to help put Ole Miss up 21-0. 

ESPN showed Bridges' pick-six (via the Blue Pennant):

The Ole Miss Spirit's Ben Garrett knew Rebels fans loved what they were seeing:

After a Mississippi State field goal, it got better for Ole Miss when Kelly hooked up with Stringfellow again for a 36-yard touchdown pass.

ESPN shared the replay of Stringfellow's second score of the game (via the Blue Pennant):

Down by 25 points, Mississippi State was up against it, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out:

The SEC Network's Anthony McFarland was watching the beatdown:

Mississippi State finally arrived in the second half. After forcing an Ole Miss three-and-out, the Bulldogs scored their first touchdown of the game when Prescott smartly extended the football over the goal line while being taken down to the turf.

Even after the poor first half, ESPN's Robert Smith still had confidence in Prescott:

After the teams traded field goals, Jordan Wilkins put the game out of reach at the beginning of the fourth quarter with a 38-yard run to help put the Rebels up 38-13. 

It came just one play after Kelly fumbled during a scramble but managed to pick the ball up after a Bulldogs defender missed it.

Mississippi State attempted to mount a comeback but didn't have enough time to do so after scoring a pair of touchdowns, both on receptions by Malik Dear. 

While it won't play for the SEC title, Ole Miss ended its regular season on a high note with a convincing win over its in-state rival.

That kind of performance will sit well with the committee when it comes to the final rankings and could help the Rebels when it comes to bowl selections.


Stats courtesy of

Read more College Football news on

Alabama RB Derrick Henry Locks Up Heisman in Record Breaking Night vs. Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. — Every time Derrick Henry came off the field in the fourth quarter, Nick Saban was there to check on him. As carries mounted up and started approaching previously unseen levels at the University of Alabama, the conversation kept repeating itself.

“Are you good? Are you tired?” the head coach kept asking.

“I’m good,” was always Henry’s response.

Actually, he was great as No. 2 Alabama wrapped up the Southeastern Conference’s West Division title and will face Florida next week in Atlanta.

With a record-setting performance, Henry finished with 46 carries for 271 rushing yards and one touchdown as Alabama won its annual showdown with Auburn 29-13 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The junior running back earned every bit of it.

The carries were a single-game record at Alabama. The yards were an Iron Bowl rushing record, and it was the 17th straight game in which he’d reached the end zone.

Moreover, with potentially thee games to go, Henry became the Crimson Tide’s all-time leader for rushing yards in a season with 1,797, topping Trent Richardson’s 1,679 yards in 2011.

“It means a lot to me, my teammates, the offensive line—everyone on the offense that worked hard to get here, to accomplish something so big,” Henry said. “We just had to stay locked in and focused.”

While Henry averaged 5.9 yards per carry, his longest gain was just 30 yards—which was a testament to how tough those yards were.

Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) executed 21 plays in the fourth quarter, and all but two were handoffs to Henry. Auburn knew he was getting the ball every time, and he still churned out 114 rushing yards over the final 15 minutes.

“I didn’t realize it because we didn’t have any long runs, but that shows how durable he is—and how strong he is to be able to pound it nonstop,” senior quarterback Jake Coker said. “He’s like a machine.”

Had the game been played in Tuscaloosa, the home fans would have been cheering “Heis—man,” but Henry almost certainly ended the chase here.

He’s now one of only three backs in Southeastern Conference history with four games of 200 yards or more in a season, joining Herschel Walker (Georgia) and Bo Jackson (Auburn). LSU’s Leonard Fournette had three earlier this season against Auburn (19 carries for 228 yards), Syracuse and Eastern Michigan.

“We’d really like for somebody else to run the ball, but it got tough to take him out, and he seemed to get stronger as the game goes on,” Saban said. “It’s hard to take him out at the end though."

“He’s the go-to guy, and he didn’t want to come out. My hat’s off to him as a competitor. He really inspires everyone on our team—the way he competes and the way he plays, the toughness that he runs with. What a spirit.”

Henry’s performance was also despite poor field conditions as numerous players on both sides slipped when trying to make cuts. Consequently, the first half turned into Punt, Pass and Kick competition only without the first two parts.

Instead, with Henry gaining 102 rushing yards on 16 carries in the first half and Coker, connecting with freshman Calvin Ridley for a 46-yard-deep pass, junior kicker Adam Griffith appeared to vanquish whatever demons might still be lingering from the Kick-Six here two years ago with four of his five field goals.

They were—in order—from 26, 40, 26 and 50 yards when Auburn (6-6, 2-6 SEC) put someone in the end zone for a possible return.

“I didn’t think I had a monkey on my back,” Griffith said. Yet he still had a lot of teammates congratulate him after making it with room to spare (and later hit a fifth field goal in the second half, from 47 yards).

Meanwhile, his counterpart, Daniel Carlson, connected from 24 and 44 yards but missed from 48. Auburn’s passing game was essentially held to two completions to running backs as Melvin Ray’s 8-yard catch on 3rd-and-10 was the lone catch by a receiver.

Consequently, Alabama came very close to putting the game out of reach early in the third quarter when it finally reached the end zone.

Shortly after a Coker scramble, ArDarius Stewart—who had dropped a pass in the end zone and run the wrong route on a third down—had man coverage wide, and the quarterback saw it. After avoiding two pass rushers, he threw a dart to the wide receiver for a 34-yard touchdown.

“Amazing,” Coker said about playing in the Iron Bowl. “Indescribable.”

Facing 3rd-and-12 at its own 23-yard line, Auburn may have been a play away from essentially waving the white flag when wide receiver Jason Smith did his own version of the miracle catch against Georgia in 2013, tipping the ball twice to himself for a 77-yard touchdown.

With the Auburn marching band playing “Livin’ on a Prayer” from Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, Auburn had new life—only to get trampled by Henry down the stretch. With senior Kenyan Drake (arm fracture) still on the mend—the only other Crimson Tide running back to have a carry was freshman Damien Harris with one.

“What Derrick has done for this team—because this team has needed him to do what he does—he’s made as significant impact on his team as any player we’ve ever had,” said Saban, who coached the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram Jr.

The most carries Ingram had in a game that season was 28, and he only had one 200-yard rushing performance (South Carolina, 246).

“The guy never gets tired,” senior center Ryan Kelly said about Henry. “We ran the ball a lot, and it was good to see him get the touchdown.”

Maybe the question should be: Can anyone stop him? You can’t ask that about anyone else in college football this season.

“I don’t know,” Henry said. “I’m just trying to make plays.”


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

Read more College Football news on

Helmet-to-Helmet Hit Chips Paint off Oklahoma's Alex Ross' Helmet

Although this hit could have resulted in a serious injury, it instead led to an incredible video.

On a kickoff during the first quarter of Saturday night's game at Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State Cowboys linebacker Devante Averette met Oklahoma Sooners running back Alex Ross at the Oklahoma 23-yard line.

It was a physical encounter.

The helmet-to-helmet hit resulted in paint getting chipped off Ross' helmet. And thanks to the power of slow motion, we get a great look at the action.

Ross lost control of the football but was ruled down. He was not injured on the play.


Read more College Football news on

Christian McCaffrey Breaks Pac-12 Single-Season All-Purpose-Yards Record

The accolades continue to pile up for Christian McCaffrey.

The Stanford Cardinal's star running back and kick returner broke the Pac-12 single-season record for all-purpose yards in Saturday's game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the school announced.

McCaffrey broke Reggie Bush's previous record of 2,890 yards, which he set in 2005. That year, Bush won the Heisman Trophy as a junior.

While it may be difficult for McCaffrey to win the Heisman this year, considering Stanford has multiple losses on its record and Alabama running back Derrick Henry seems to be the front-runner, it's been nothing short of a magnificent season for McCaffrey.

He came into Saturday's all-important matchup with Notre Dame with 2,835 all-purpose yards. He was also third in the nation in rushing with 1,546 yards, trailing only LSU's Leonard Fournette and Oregon's Royce Freeman.

NFL Network's Albert Breer shared some thoughts on McCaffrey's playing style:

McCaffrey is the main reason why Stanford will be playing for the Pac-12 title with a chance to go back to the Rose Bowl.

Read more College Football news on

Bayou Classic 2015: Score and Twitter Reaction to Grambling vs. Southern

The Grambling State Tigers overcame a hefty first-half deficit and scored 28 unanswered points to defeat the Southern Jaguars 34-23 in the 2015 Bayou Classic at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Grambling State is headed to the Southwestern Athletic Conference title game undefeated in conference play and will take on the reigning champion Alcorn State Braves.

Southern jumped out to a 20-3 lead with touchdowns on its first three drives from receiver Willie Quinn, quarterback Austin Howard and star running back Lenard Tillery.

But after a slow start, the Tigers bounced back, scoring 28 unanswered and cruising to victory.

Tigers quarterback Johnathan Williams led the way as the game's MVP. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, spreading the ball to seven different receivers.

KSLA News 12 Sports shared Williams’ most flashy highlight:

Southern was marred by four turnovers—including an interception, two fumbles and a turnover on downs—that directly led to seven Tigers points.

Grambling State lost last year’s meeting by a half-yard when time expired with the Tigers trailing 52-45 at the goal line. Williams was stopped on a last-ditch effort with the SWAC West Division title on the line.

Grambling State coach Broderick Fobbs told the Associated Press’ Darrell Williams earlier this week that the gut-wrenching loss lurked on the Tigers’ minds all year.

The halftime show by the school bands is usually on par with the actual football in this rivalry, and Saturday was another great showing.

The Grambling State band formed a rendering of the No. 33 to honor Southern’s Devon Gales, who suffered a gruesome neck injury against Georgia earlier this season. Sportswriter Mike Gegenheimer tweeted a picture of the honorary formation:

Gales tweeted that he was cheering on the Jaguars from his hospital bed as he continues to recover:

The 2015 story of this great rivalry was one of redemption. Grambling State successfully fueled its resolve after last year’s defeat and tied the overall series at 31 wins apiece, also evening the series at 21-21 since it officially became the Bayou Classic.

The Tigers were already headed to the SWAC Championship Game, but exacting revenge for last year’s heartbreak makes it sweeter.


Postgame Reaction

Fobbs, in his second year, earned his first win in the Bayou Classic and probably appreciated the win more than anyone, per WAFB 9 Sports:

Grambling State celebrated in style following the win, as the school’s athletic department showed:

The victory marked the Tigers’ first in the rivalry since 2011, steering the rivalry back to balance.

Read more College Football news on

FCS Playoffs 2015: 1st-Round Results, Round 2 Schedule and Bracket Update

The first round of the 2015 FCS playoffs featured a little bit of everything. There were high-scoring affairs, low-scoring contests and some drama in between. Let's take a look at the day's action:


Craine's 159 yards power Chattanooga over Fordham

Chattanooga running back Derrick Craine ran for 159 yards, and quarterback Jacob Huesman threw for three scores as the Mocs won 50-20 over Fordham.

Huesman also ran for 130 yards as Chattanooga combined for 355 rushing yards and jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead. James Stovall caught three passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

The win for the Mocs set up a rematch with top-seeded Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks won 23-20 in Week 1 behind 173 rushing yards from Troymaine Pope.

Burgess-Snow Field will be the site of the rematch, and the game is slated for next Saturday at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN3.


The Citadel wins first playoff game since 1992 on game-winning kick

Eric Goins' 43-yard field goal with no time remaining gave The Citadel a 41-38 win over the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers for the school's first playoff win since 1992.

The Citadel had three 100-yard rushers on the day, including 174 yards from quarterback Dominique Allen and two touchdowns.

After pulling off the upset win over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Nov. 21, The Citadel expected to come into the matchup with Coastal Carolina with some momentum. However, the odds were not in its favor, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:

The Citadel will face Charleston Southern on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN3 and will look to get revenge after losing 33-20 on Sept. 26.


Colgate nearly blows 21-point lead, survives against New Hampshire

Colgate saw a 21-point fourth-quarter lead nearly evaporate, but the Raiders forced a fumble with less than a minute to go to seal a 27-20 win over New Hampshire.

Turnovers were the story of the day for the Wildcats. If not for the two fumbles and interception, New Hampshire could have been in better position to tie, or even win the game.

Colgate running back James Holland scored all four touchdowns for the Raiders, to go along with 95 yards on 23 carries.

Colgate will face James Madison on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on ESPN3.


Sam Houston State survives shootout against Southern Utah

After 58 combined first-half points, the difference for Sam Houston State came on a fumble.

Southern Utah receiver Justin Brown fumbled with 47 seconds to go, and Sam Houston State advanced to the next round with a 42-39 win over the Thunderbirds. 

Ridgeway Frank led the Bearkats with 137 yards and two touchdowns. Jeremiah Briscoe threw for 211 yards and the game-winning 55-yard touchdown to Yedidiah Louis with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Bearkats will take on undefeated McNeese State on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, also on ESPN3.


Montana defense stifles Christion, Grizzlies advance

Montana quarterback Brady Gustafson threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns as the Grizzlies advanced with a 27-20 win over South Dakota State.

But the work of the Montana defense against Jackrabbits quarterback Taryn Christion was the difference. He threw for 230 yards and a touchdown but completed only 18 of 43 pass attempts to get those yards.

Christion got the start in place of Zach Lujan, who was nursing an ankle injury. Christion wore a redshirt for most of the year but had to take it off after Lujan suffered the injury in last week's loss to North Dakota State, per Matt Zimmer of the Argus Leader.

Instead of South Dakota State getting a rematch, the Grizzlies will get another shot at the Bison. The Grizzlies upset North Dakota State back in Week 1, when the Bison were the No. 1-ranked team in the FCS. The game is set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.


Northern Iowa handles Eastern Illinois

Northern Iowa quarterback Aaron Bailey totaled 234 yards and threw for three touchdowns as the Panthers took care of business against Eastern Illinois, 53-17.

Eastern Illinois jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first quarter, but Northern Iowa outscored Eastern Illinois 43-10 over the next two quarters. Tyvis Smith ran for 147 yards and a touchdown for NIU.

The Panthers will face Portland State on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN3. 


Big day from Buechel not enough, William & Mary outlasts Duquesne

Duquesne quarterback Dillon Buechel threw for 423 yards and six touchdowns, but William & Mary got 137 rushing yards from Kendell Anderson as the Tribe won 52-49 over the Dukes. 

Buechel got off to a hot start, throwing a 71-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris King on the first play of the first playoff game ever for Duquesne. The Dukes' start was more than they could ask for:

But the Tribe accumulated 229 rushing yards and got a nearly perfect passing day from quarterback Steve Cluley, who completed 11 of 15 attempts for 251 yards and three touchdowns despite two interceptions.

William & Mary will play the Richmond Spiders at noon ET, also on ESPN3.


Western Illinois scores 24 unanswered, beats Dayton

After the Dayton Flyers scored the first touchdown of the game, the Western Illinois Leathernecks took control.

Western Illinois scored 24 unanswered points after being shut out in the first quarter, beating the Flyers 24-7. Dayton quarterback Alex Jeske threw for 124 yards with three interceptions and also accounted for the Flyers' only rushing touchdown.

The Leathernecks got 152 rushing yards from Nikko Watson and will meet Illinois State on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN3.

Read more College Football news on

ACC Championship Game 2015: Date, Start Time for Clemson vs. North Carolina

After a hard-fought 37-32 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, the last impediment in the No. 1-ranked Clemson Tigers' path to the College Football Playoff will be the No. 14 North Carolina Tar Heels.

While 13 spots separate the two teams on the CFP rankings, there's still hope for both heading into the ACC Championship Game.


When: Saturday, December 5 at 8 p.m. ET



For Clemson, it's very simple: win the conference title game and they're in the CFP.

For the Tar Heels, matters aren't as clear. They destroyed the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Saturday, but the odds are still against them reaching the CFP. Would a victory over Clemson be enough to have them leap 10 spots in the CFP rankings into the Top Four?

We'll likely know more after the CFP rankings are released on Tuesday.


Players to Watch

DeShaun Watson

Clemson's sophomore quarterback is terribly underrated. His numbers aren't spectacular, but he has expertly commanded the nation's top team all season. Rarely has he flinched under the pressure.

On Saturday when the Gamecocks tried to play spoiler, Watson took his game to another level. He had this third contest of the season with more than 200 yards passing and 100 rushing.'s Andrea Adelson tweeted about Watson's dynamic game and season:

He didn't get the Heisman Trophy buzz he deserved this season, but he might just settle for a national championship.


Elijah Hood

The Tar Heels don't have a ton of explosive players on their offense, but Elijah Hood is easily the most dangerous weapon. He doesn't log 20-plus carries per game like some of the nation's top backs, but he makes the most of his opportunities.

Against NC State on Saturday, Hood ran for 220 yards and two touchdowns. The final score was 45-34, but the game wasn't really that close. The Tar Heels had a 35-7 lead after the first quarter. North Carolina took its foot off the gas to save something in reserve for the conference title game.

The Tar Heels will need it.



North Carolina is a nice team that figures to be even better in 2016 with players like Hood returning, but the Tar Heels will be no match for Clemson. The Tigers look to be on a mission to do what past Clemson teams could not. That's take advantage of a talented roster and ride it to a national championship.

Look for the Tigers to mount tons of pressure from their front four. North Carolina's sometimes-shaky senior QB Marquise Lewis will be rattled, and that will lead to turnovers.

Lewis' lack of ball security will lead to Clemson's decisive win.

Read more College Football news on

Les Miles Salutes Fans After Getting Huge Ovation from Tiger Stadium Crowd

It remains to be seen whether Saturday's matchup with the Texas A&M Aggies will be Les Miles' final game at Tiger Stadium as LSU's head coach.

If it is, he at least got a chance to thank the fans for all of their support.

As reports about Miles' job security continue to swirl, Tigers fans showered the coach with cheers before Saturday's regular-season finale. Appreciating the love, Miles saluted the crowd.

There was even a "Les Miles" chant on this night, via Lyons Yellin of WWL-TV:

Miles has been in Baton Rouge since 2005 and won the 2007 BCS National Championship.

[ESPN College Football]

Read more College Football news on

College Football Scores 2015: Final Results, Box Scores for Week 13 Top 25 Games

There were no major upsets in the early Saturday games; therefore, everything atop the College Football Playoff rankings could remain the same. That said, the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys are in the middle of Bedlam.

A loss by the Sooners could open the floodgates for a scramble for one of the top four spots. Here's a look at the scores from every game in the Top 25 on Saturday. Click the link to see the box score at

  • No. 1. Clemson 37, South Carolina 32
  • No. 2. Alabama 29, Auburn 13
  • No. 3. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
  • No. 4. Iowa 28, Nebraska 20
  • No. 5. Michigan State 55, Penn State 16
  • No. 6. Notre Dame at No. 9 Stanford
  • No. 7. Baylor 21, No. 19 TCU 28
  • No. 8. Ohio State 42, No. 10 Michigan 13
  • No. 12. Florida vs. No. 13 Florida State
  • No. 14. North Carolina 45, N.C. State 34
  • No. 15. Navy 31, Houston 52
  • No. 16. Northwestern 24, Illinois 14
  • No. 17. Oregon 52, Oregon State 42
  • No. 18. Ole Miss at No. 21 Mississippi State
  • No. 20. Washington State 10, Washington 45
  • No. 22. UCLA 21, USC 40
  • No. 23. Utah 20, Colorado 14
  • No. 24. Toledo 30, Western Michigan 35
  • No. 25. Temple vs. Connecticut


Clemson Guts It Out

The top-ranked Clemson Tigers got a serious challenge from their in-state rivals the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday. In the end, Deshaun Watson took his game to another level with 393 total yards and four touchdowns.

The sophomore quarterback didn't get much Heisman Trophy buzz through the season, but he has been up to the task of leading the nation's best team. Check out this outstanding touchdown run from Saturday's game:

His next test will come in the ACC Championship Game against the North Carolina Tar Heels.


North Carolina Keeps Hope Alive

The Tar Heels' CFP hopes aren't encouraging, but they could make a case for one of the spots if they knock off the Tigers in the ACC title game. With a convincing 45-34 win over the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Heels moved to 11-1, as sophomore running back Elijah Hood amassed 220 rushing yards and two scores.

The Heels haven't lost since their 17-13 Week 1 defeat at home to the Gamecocks, but they must beat Clemson to have even a remote chance of making the CFP. 

If they somehow upset Clemson, that bad Week 1 loss could still come back to bite them.


Alabama Staves off Auburn

Early on, it looked as if the Auburn Tigers might be working on another Iron Bowl upset like the one they pulled off in 2013. The Alabama Crimson Tide led Auburn just 12-6 at the half but pulled away for a 29-13 win.

Derrick Henry ran the ball an ungodly 46 times for 271 yards and a score. It was a grind-it-out game, and no team in the country plays that style better than Bama does.

It will face the Florida Gators in the SEC title game. With a win, Bama will likely lock down the No. 2 spot in the CFP—assuming Clemson wins. If the Tigers lose, Bama would probably be No. 1 and the odds-on favorite to win the national championship.


Ohio State Rebounds

The Ohio State Buckeyes' dreams of getting to the CFP were probably dashed when they lost at home to the Michigan State Spartans last week. On Saturday, the Buckeyes did their part to stay CFP-eligible by trouncing the Michigan Wolverines 42-13.

Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball 30 times for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He talked about his effort on Twitter after the game:

The Buckeyes will need plenty of help if they hope to reach the CFP. Perhaps the easiest route to the playoff might be behind losses by Clemson and Alabama in their respective title games. Even the most optimistic Ohio State fan would tell you that is difficult to fathom.

Read more College Football news on

Should Alabama Be No. 1 Team in College Football?

No. 2 Alabama capped off the 2015 SEC West title with a 29-13 win over intrastate rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it didn't exactly earn any style points.

Sure, the 16-point win makes the bettors who took the Tide in Las Vegas happy, but a late touchdown aided that margin once the game was out of reach.

The Crimson Tide converted just five of their 16 third-down opportunities, allowed Auburn to hang around far too long thanks to red-zone struggles and polished off the Tigers late thanks to running back Derrick Henry's 271 rushing yards on a career-high 46 carries.

Will it be enough to propel the Crimson Tide to the top spot in the penultimate College Football Playoff poll Tuesday night?

SEC Network's Paul Finebaum thinks so.

Any win over an in-state rival is nice, but let's be real: There's no reason to jump Alabama over Clemson based on Saturday's performances.

College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Jeff Long commented on how close the second-ranked Tide were to top-ranked Clemson after last week's standings release on ESPN—and it isn't exactly looking like a photo finish at this point.

"We certainly looked in detail at Clemson and Alabama, but I would say that Clemson was solidly in that No. 1 spot, and there was no real indication that Alabama was going to challenge them for that No. 1 spot in this week's rankings," he said during the post-show teleconference Tuesday.

Make no mistake: Alabama struggled with its in-state rival Saturday afternoon—just as Clemson did in its 37-32 win over South Carolina, which featured a late touchdown with one second left that made the Gamecocks appear closer than they really were.

Keep in mind, though: Being the team playing its best football right now is not the same as being the team that deserves to be ranked No. 1. You could make the case that Alabama is playing the best football in the country at the moment, but it does not deserve to be ranked No. 1.

Losses matter, especially those at home to three-loss teams—which is exactly what happened to Alabama in its only defeat of the season, a Week 3 heartbreaker to Ole Miss.

Plus, when discussing resumes, it's not like Alabama's road to glory in the SEC is tough enough to negate a loss.

The Tide entered rivalry weekend with the toughest schedule in the nation, according to, but Clemson wasn't too far behind at No. 21. Alabama's only win over a team in the current Top 25 came against No. 21 Mississippi State (which will likely fall out of the top 25 after getting worked by Ole Miss), while Clemson topped No. 6 Notre Dame in October and No. 13 Florida State in November.

Sure, Alabama beat four teams that were ranked in the Top 10 at the time of the game—Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M and LSU. But those teams have proved to be vastly overrated as the season has gone on. All Alabama did was expose that the Bulldogs don't have a quarterback, the Aggies are way too inconsistent and the Tigers in Baton Rouge were one-trick ponies.

Losses matter, and that loss to Ole Miss in September should prevent Alabama from jumping Clemson in this week's College Football Playoff rankings.

That doesn't mean Clemson is better than Alabama right now, though.

The Tigers struggled with Syracuse on Nov. 14, didn't exactly look like world-beaters against Wake Forest and were pushed by South Carolina—one of the worst teams in the SEC.

That should have the world doubting Clemson's ability to polish off the perfect season and win the national title, but that isn't anywhere close enough to call into question its No. 1 ranking.

That should be solid, as Long said it was last week. Unless, of course, the committee decides it wants to mess with the college football world this week.

Stay tuned.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on

2015 Iron Bowl: Game Grades, Analysis for Alabama vs. Auburn

The second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide tamed the Auburn Tigers 29-13 to win the 2015 Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

Alabama used a 10-point fourth quarter to pull away from its rival and improve to 11-1. The Crimson Tide will face the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game.

Pass Offense: Lane Kiffin kept things simple for Jake Coker, who assembled an efficient game and should have had two touchdowns. Coker finished 17-of-26 for 179 yards, while ArDarius Stewart grabbed seven passes for 79 yards, including this 34-yard score.

Run Offense: Derrick Henry carried the ball a school-record 46 times and scored once, setting a new program mark with 22 touchdowns in a season. The physical running back accumulated a career-best 271 yards. He recorded more first downs on the ground than Auburn managed as a team.

Pass Defense: Maurice Smith and Tim Williams each recorded a sack, and A'Shawn Robinson's presence forced Jeremy Johnson to the ground once. The secondary's lone blemish was a borderline-miraculous touchdown.

Run Defense: Alabama's run defense didn't have a dominant opening half, but that changed during the latter periods. The Crimson Tide surrendered just 91 yards on 37 carries, holding their opponent below the century mark for the 10th time this season.

Special Teams: Adam Griffith was the star of the game. He drilled field goals from 26, 40, 26, 50 and 47 yards out. Although JK Scott tallied 48.3 yards per punt, two resulted in touchbacks, and Auburn used some deception to return the other 21 yards.

Coaching: Kiffin had an outstanding game until 4th-and-1 with less than three minutes remaining. Instead of using Henry as the deep back as Alabama had done all game, Kiffin called a shotgun run that failed and gave Auburn a fighting chance at a comeback. If playing to your strengths fails, so be it.


Pass Offense: Jeremy Johnson received the start over an injured Sean White but struggled throughout the game, connecting on 10 of 23 passes for 170 yards. Alabama loaded the box and dared the Tigers to throw, but Johnson didn't take advantage. Granted, Jason Smith had an amazing 77-yard score.

Run Offense: Jovon Robinson raced his way to 53 yards on 12 carries during the first half. However, the coaching staff only gave him two touches after halftime, which was a questionable plan of attack at best. Peyton Barber contributed 29 yards.

Pass Defense: Coker didn't have much trouble picking apart Auburn. Among other issues, the Tigers didn't have any answers when Alabama rolled the pocket.

Run Defense: Auburn's run defense wasn't perfect early on but stood tall, caused an eight-yard loss on 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard line and forced a field goal. That's where the good things ended. Alabama's 286 rushing yards were the second-most against the Tigers in 2015.

Special Teams: Daniel Carlson buried two field goals to set a school record with his 16th straight made three-pointer, but he missed a 48-yard attempt shortly before halftime that could have evened the score. Kevin Phillips managed 40.4 yards per punt, putting three inside the 'Bama 20.

Coaching: Gus Malzahn shouldn't be on the hot seat, but Auburn needs to make some significant changes on offense. His play-calling has seen better days, and some of the Tigers' personnel choices—for example, not using their best player—were strange.


Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

Read more College Football news on

USC Trojans Get Revenge over Rival UCLA, Are Viable Threat to Win Pac 12 Title

In early October, Southern California was a team in serious crisis. Following a 17-12 home loss to a very average Washington team, the Trojans, a sexy preseason College Football Playoff pick, were 3-2 and had looked ugly doing so.

Knowing what we know now, athletic director Pat Haden's decision to fire Steve Sarkisian in the wake of the former coach's personal alcohol-related issues was the best thing that could have happened to the program. Under interim head coach Clay Helton’s guidance, the Trojans have looked like one of the Pac-12’s best teams. Saturday’s 40-21 whipping of the cross-town rival UCLA Bruins was the Trojans’ fifth win in seven games since Sarkisian’s departure.

And if you think the Trojans aren’t a serious threat to win the Pac-12 title, you simply haven’t been paying attention.

Helton has brought much-needed stability to Southern California’s roster, and Saturday was just the latest sign that his team has bought into what he’s selling.

Under Jim Mora Jr.’s watch, UCLA had owned the Trojans, winning the past three meetings by an average of 16.3 points. Two of those defeats eliminated USC from contention for the Pac-12 South title.

Saturday, the Trojans finally got some revenge by completely controlling the second half. UCLA led 21-20 following Paul Perkins’ one-yard touchdown run with 8:58 remaining, but the Bruins wouldn’t score again.

Rasheem Green’s 31-yard return of a Josh Rosen fumble for a touchdown gave Southern California the lead for good, and they ground out the rest with defense and a solid mix of Cody Kessler passing and Justin Davis running.

Following Perkins’ touchdown, Southern California outscored the Bruins 20-0 the rest of the way. Perkins had 95 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, but Davis was far better, carrying 25 times for 130 yards and setting up the Trojans’ final two scores.

For a program that has struggled to recover from NCAA sanctions connected to the Pete Carroll era and instability on the sideline (UCLA players faced their fourth different USC head coach in as many years Saturday), it was a special night.

“Imagine what these kids have gone through the last five years with sanctions and changing coaches,” Helton told ESPN’s Todd McShay afterward on the national telecast. “For them to be named Pac-12 South champions, I can’t tell you how proud I am of them. They’re not only great players but great people.”

Now, the Trojans get another chance at revenge on their way to a Pac-12 title. Pac-12 North champion Stanford stands in the way at Levi’s Stadium. The Cardinal won league titles in 2012 and 2013 and has re-taken its place as a league power this fall, led by Heisman candidate and national all-purpose yardage leader Christian McCaffrey.

Stanford defeated the Trojans 41-31 on Sept. 19, and McCaffrey rushed for 115 yards on 26 carries and added three receptions for 37 yards. USC’s front seven must prove it can contain him as well as it contained Perkins in the second half Saturday while also limiting steady senior quarterback Kevin Hogan.

That team that struggled against the Cardinal in mid-September is significantly improved, however. Its only losses are a 10-point defeat on the road at Notre Dame and a 48-28 defeat to an Oregon team that also defeated Stanford, 38-36.

The Trojans have the offensive talent with Kessler, Davis, wideout JuJu Schuster-Smith and do-everything cornerback/receiver Adoree’ Jackson to hang with Stanford and score plenty of points.

And they’ll certainly be motivated to play for Helton, who still hopes to convince Haden and SC officials that he’s worthy of taking over the head-coaching role full-time.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the Trojans over the past two months, now would be a good time to change that. They’re ready to make some noise.

Read more College Football news on

Michigan State vs. Iowa for Big Ten Title Should Be a Playoff Play-in Game

Michigan State took care of business against Penn State, beating the Nittany Lions 55-16 and setting up what should be—and probably will be—a College Football Playoff quarterfinal against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Spartans scored eight touchdowns (six offensive, two defensive) against a team that held its previous opponents to 18.6 points per game. The key was a strong performance from quarterback Connor Cook, who missed last week's win at Ohio State but played through an injured shoulder on Saturday and balled out in his final career home game.

The same goes for wide receiver Aaron Burbridge:

And, of course, for center-turned-running back Jack Allen:

The blowout win made Sparty look impressive before the penultimate release of the CFP rankings next Tuesday.

The same can be said of Ohio State's rout at Michigan, which took place three hours earlier. One week after gaining only 132 yards against Sparty, the Buckeyes gained 482 yards and won by 29 points in the Big House.

A road win over the 10-0 national champions already looked good on MSU's resume. What Ohio State did at Michigan made it look better.

Iowa, meanwhile, held on to beat Nebraska on Friday, advancing to 12-0 on the season. Its resume lacks quality wins, but there's no way it misses the playoff at 13-0. If the Hawkeyes beat Michigan State, they are going to the playoff. There's no two ways about it.

Sparty's case is slightly more contentious. It lost to the 5-7 Huskers that Iowa just beat. Despite quality wins over Ohio State (with Cook on the sideline), Oregon and Michigan, that one loss shines a negative light on its playoff resume.

That's why Week 13 was so important. The way MSU beat Penn State and Ohio State beat Michigan leaves no doubt about Sparty's quality. Adding a neutral-field win over Iowa would suppress those doubts even further, which is important with Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all lurking as potential one-loss teams.

Chris Vannini of put it succinctly:

It's hard to overstate how well the offense played Saturday, especially with Cook missing most of the week of practice. Head coach Mark Dantonio said Cook only practiced Thursday, but he completed 19 of 26 passes for 248 yards and three scores.

"[It was] like night and day," Cook said of his arm strength last week compared to this week, per Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News.

His accuracy looked pretty good too:

The defense still has holes, which was evident in the first half Saturday, but it made a couple big plays and bent without breaking. Even with those struggles, it is peaking, for the most part, in November.

Also of note: Starting safety RJ Williamson, who hasn't played since tearing his biceps against Purdue in the Big Ten opener, was dressed and on the sideline for senior day. He has inched toward returning the past two weeks and might take the field against Iowa.

His return would spark a domino effect in the secondary, potentially moving Demetrious Cox back to cornerback, where his coverage is badly needed and his tackling issues—a problem in the first half against Penn State—can be hidden.

MSU's season has been hard, at times, to make sense of. The secondary has been beaten up and porous. The linebackers have struggled to tackle. The team has underwhelmed against Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Air Force, Purdue, Rutgers, Indiana, et al.

But in a season with increasingly few "sure things," there are few safer bets than Michigan State and Iowa coming out and playing competent football. Both teams have done so on a weekly basis all year.

Whoever wins next weekend deserves a playoff berth.

It makes no difference what happens in other conferences.


Brian Leigh covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @BLeigh35

Read more College Football news on

Ezekiel Elliott Jokingly Posts Salty Tweet After Derrick Henry Gets 46 Carries

Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott saw an increased workload a week after criticizing the play-calling in a loss to the Michigan State Spartans, but the Buckeyes star still dreams about getting the ball every single play.

Elliott ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns against the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, leading to a 42-13 Ohio State victory. The junior running back bounced back from a tough game against the Spartans and took out his anger on "That Team Up North."

However, likely on the bus ride back to Columbus, Elliott was tweeting as other games were being played later Saturday. One tweet stood out above the rest:

That is referencing the 46 carries Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry got in the Crimson Tide's 29-13 victory over the Auburn Tigers in the 2015 Iron Bowl.

Elliott is obviously having some fun, but there's also probably some truth to this tweet. Every running back, even Henry, wishes he got the ball more. It's just the nature of the game.

Perhaps that tweet was Elliott's way of making his case for the 2015 Heisman Trophy. Both Henry and Elliott are among the top players in the country, but it is the Alabama star who is viewed as the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, per Odds Shark.

The two explosive running backs have put up similar numbers, but Henry has had 33 more carries to work with. At his 6.3 yards per carry, that's another 208 yards Elliott could have on his resume.

Elliott quickly realized the tweet was drawing some unwanted hate:

That's just what happens in this social media age.

Elliott is smart enough to have learned his lesson last week to not seriously call out the coaching staff again, especially after a win—a game in which he got 32 total touches. Knowing that, nobody should take this as him ripping the coaches.

Elliott is just having some fun, even if there might be a bit of legitimate jealousy in the tweet.

[Ezekiel Elliott]

Read more College Football news on

Alabama vs. Auburn: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction from 2015 Iron Bowl

The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama, with a 29-13 win over the rival Auburn Tigers in the 80th Iron Bowl.

Alabama was victorious in the Iron Bowl for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in five years. But more importantly, it improved to 11-1 in 2015 and clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game against the Florida Gators.

A win over Florida would almost certainly place the Tide in the CFP and give them a chance to win their fourth national title under head coach Nick Saban.

Alabama's victory also spoiled Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's return to Jordan-Hare Stadium, as he was on the Auburn sideline for the game. SportsCenter shared a photo:

Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry continued to bolster his Heisman Trophy candidacy with 271 yards and one touchdown on 46 carries. He also broke Trent Richardson's record for the most single-season rushing yards in Crimson Tide history, according to ESPN College Football:

In addition, Henry surpassed Richardson's single-season rushing-touchdown record with 22 and tied another Alabama mark with his fourth 200-yard game of the season, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Saturday's Iron Bowl was a far cry from last year's 99-point outburst, as both offenses struggled to find the end zone for much of the contest.

That was especially true in the first half, as the only scoring came courtesy of six field goals, four of which Alabama kicker Adam Griffith converted.

The Crimson Tide led 9-6 late in the second quarter when it looked as though quarterback Jake Coker had connected with ArDarius Stewart for a long touchdown, but Stewart dropped the ball when he hit the ground.

That forced Alabama to settle for a 50-yard field-goal attempt, and Griffith was true to make it 12-6 entering halftime.

Griffith has had an up-and-down career at Alabama, but as Kevin Scarbinsky of pointed out, the kicker has made major strides as the 2015 season has progressed:

Griffith was part of the famous "Kick Six" in the Iron Bowl two years ago as Auburn defensive back Chris Davis returned the kicker's missed 57-yard field-goal attempt 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game.

Griffith has come a long way since then, and his improvement was on full display Saturday.

Alabama's inability to separate from an Auburn team that entered the game at 6-5 was disconcerting, though, and it led to some criticism from NFL Network's Albert Breer:

The Crimson Tide's first-half performance couldn't have made Saban happy, either, as he stressed the importance of becoming a consistent team during the lead-up to Saturday's clash on ESPN (h/t Michael Casagrande of

I think consistency has always been the issue with our team. Being able to play at a high level on a consistent basis in this day in age, it doesn't matter what you did last week. You're only as good as your last play. You're only as good as your last game. So how you play this week is the most important thing.

One area that was consistent during the opening half was the running game, as Henry gained 102 yards on 16 carries. Unfortunately for Alabama fans, however, the offense sputtered when it had opportunities to find paydirt.

SportsCenter's Twitter account put the first half into perspective:

Even ESPN's Paul Finebaum found it difficult to muster complimentary words regarding the opening 30 minutes:

Alabama finally broke things open a bit with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter as Coker masterfully avoided a pair of would-be tacklers, rolled out to his right and fired a 34-yard scoring strike to Stewart, who atoned for his previous drop, per CBS Sports:

That helped put the Crimson Tide up 19-6 and shifted the pressure firmly onto the shoulders of quarterback Jeremy Johnson and the Auburn offense.

It didn't take them long to answer, as Johnson threw a 77-yard touchdown to wide receiver Jason Smith on a 3rd-and-12 on the ensuing drive that saw Smith tip the ball to himself and race past the Alabama secondary to help make the score 19-13, per CBS Sports:

Griffith added his fifth field goal of the game from 47 yards out nearly five minutes into the fourth quarter to put Alabama ahead by two scores at 22-13.

The Crimson Tide benefited from mental miscues on Auburn's part as a late hit out of bounds on Coker gave them 15 free yards, and then another 15 yards were tacked on after a personal foul on the Auburn sideline.

The flag appeared to be against Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, which prompted ESPN's Bomani Jones to chastise the former Florida head coach:

Auburn had an opportunity to stay in the game, but after the Tigers punted the ball away on their next possession, Henry took over.

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin dialed up 10 consecutive handoffs to Henry, and although the Crimson Tide turned the ball over on downs at Auburn's 31-yard line, the drive took more than five minutes off the clock and left the Tigers with just 2:46 to score twice.

Auburn could not move the ball, which allowed Alabama to put an exclamation point on the game with a 25-yard touchdown run by Henry on fourth down with just 26 seconds remaining.

Saturday's showing wasn't a dominant one for the Crimson Tide, but winning a rivalry game is rarely easy, especially when it is on the road.

Alabama's resume is impressive enough to excuse an unconvincing win, especially if it manages to close the SEC campaign out with a victory over the Gators next week.

The Tide are in the thick of things when it comes to the national championship hunt, but they will have to put together complete performances moving forward to end the season as the No. 1 team in the nation.


Postgame Reaction

The 2015 season has been a difficult one for Auburn, but the Tigers didn't make things easy for rival Alabama en route to the Tide's SEC West title and a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

Auburn kept the score close throughout, with Henry's late touchdown run making the win look easier than it actually was for the Crimson Tide.

According to Tom Green of the Opelika-Auburn News, Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn was happy with the way his players competed and performed:

Malzahn also pointed toward the consecutive 15-yard penalties incurred by the Tigers as a potential turning point that swung the momentum in Alabama's favor, per Green:

With that said, the Crimson Tide seized an opportunity when it presented itself, and Henry was a big reason for that.

'Bama fed the possible Heisman Trophy front-runner early and often, which led to heavy praise from Saban after the game, per Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News:

Henry showed remarkable stamina by answering the bell time and again throughout the game, and Saban revealed that the dominant workhorse wanted it that way, according to Rick Karle of

While Coker has held his own at quarterback this season, there is no question that Henry has been the biggest key to Alabama's offensive success.

Although the Tide wouldn't be in their current position without him, Henry needs to be at his best moving forward if they are going to win the SEC and compete for a national title.

Saban is well aware of Henry's importance to the team, and every indication is that he and the defense will continue to be the centerpiece of Alabama’s success.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on

UCLA vs. USC: Game Grades, Analysis for Bruins and Trojans

The USC Trojans routed the UCLA Bruins 40-21 in one of the most important matchups in the storied rivalry's history, with both teams in a win-or-go-home scenario, minus the bowl season. 

Now with USC headed to the Pac-12 title game, a fractured, tumultuous season can be turned into a story of salvation and preservation. 

Cody Kessler was efficient, Justin Davis rushed the ball with tenacity and the USC defense was relentless in their pursuit of Josh Rosen. 

With that, let's check out each team's positional unit game grades. 


USC Trojans

Rush Offense: A

The Trojans completely dominated the ground, particularly in the second half when they needed to milk the clock and preserve an ever-growing lead. Justin Davis ran for 130 of USC's 235 total rushing yards, with Ronald Jones II adding 63. Kessler scored the Trojans' only rushing touchdown on a 1-yard sneak. 


Pass Offense: B

Kessler only had 175 yards through the air, but his performance was still elite caliber against a solid Bruins defense. He was 15-of-26 passing for two touchdowns with no picks. That type of efficiency is perfect when your rushing attack is firing on all cylinders. 


Rush Defense: B-

The Trojans allowed 140 yards and two scores on the ground, a respectable showing considering Paul Perkins and Nate Starks are both elite backs. Both players broke off a run of 30-plus yards, but outside of those two gains the Bruins were mostly limited in terms of their ability to rush the ball. 


Pass Defense: B+

Josh Rosen, one of the best freshmen quarterbacks—if not the best—in the country, had a streak of 245 pass attempts without a pick broken on Saturday, throwing two to the Trojans' Iman Marshall. The secondary as a whole gave up just 227 yards through the air and one score. 


Special Teams: A+

Adoree' Jackson scored on a punt return and Alex Wood was 2-for-2 on field goals. Kris Albarado also averaged 40 yards per punt. No complaints at all lobbed at the special teams unit. 


Coaching: A+

Clay Helton's lobbying campaign to become the permanent coach at USC just got a huge boost to its resume. The win was perfect, as USC limited what UCLA does best while controlling the nature of the affair. Plus, a berth into the Pac-12 Championship is always a plus. 


UCLA Bruins

Rush Offense: B-

Perkins and Starks combined for 148 yards on the ground, with Perkins adding two scores. However, the Bruins ultimately couldn't set the tone of the game on the ground like they love to do with that two-headed monster in the backfield, which ended up being an insurmountable wrench in the Bruins' game plan. 


Pass Offense: C+

Rosen was pressured all afternoon and was forced into two picks against the Trojans. While saying a freshman didn't live up to expectations is a bit harsh, the gunslinger has looked far more competent throughout the season. 


Rush Defense: D

When the Bruins needed stops in the second half to try to get the ball back for a comeback attempt, they couldn't get them thanks to their atrocious run defense. The Trojans averaged four yards per carry, and that only grew in the second half as they burned precious time off the clock. 


Pass Defense: C-

Yes, the Bruins secondary held USC to just 175 yards through the air. But that was all complementary to the Trojans' rushing attack. USC still averaged 6.7 yards per pass attempt with Kessler completing 57 percent of his passes. 


Special Teams: D

Ka'imi Fairbairn missed his only field goal try, and the Bruins gave up a critical punt return for a touchdown to Adoree' Jackson. Both of those plays were huge momentum swings that ended up making too big a difference. 


Coaching: C

Jim Mora didn't exactly make any snafus on Saturday, he just got beat. The game plan clearly wasn't good enough to beat a tough USC team on the road, which squashed a Bruins' streak of three straight wins against their LA rivals. 

Read more College Football news on

UCLA vs. USC: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The USC Trojans outlasted the UCLA Bruins by a final score of 40-21 to capture the Victory Bell and set up a showdown against the Stanford Cardinal in the Pac-12 Championship Game next week. 

Per ESPN, this will be USC's first trip to the conference title game since its inception in 2011.

UCLA was its own worst enemy in the game, giving up a punt-return touchdown and fumble-return touchdown to give USC 13 points without having to take an offensive snap. The Bruins finished the game with three turnovers, while the Trojans held the ball for 40 minutes. 

Rasheem Green's 31-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery was huge for the Trojans' momentum, because it came less than 90 seconds after UCLA took a 21-20 lead. According to ESPN Stats & Info, with Green's score, USC tied Oklahoma State for the most defensive touchdowns (five) among Power Five schools. 

USC also forced a turnover on UCLA's next drive, when quarterback Josh Rosen threw an interception on a great play by Iman Marshall. shared the replay:

That turnover led to an eight-play, 52-yard touchdown drive by the Trojans, capped off by a 20-yard completion from Cody Kessler to Darreus Rogers.

Neither team dominated on offense in the game. Kessler was a conservative 15-of-26 for 175 yards with two touchdowns, but USC controlled the clock, thanks to 235 rushing yards on 59 carries, and took advantage of UCLA's mistakes.

The Trojans' final touchdown drive was indicative of how they wanted to wear down the UCLA defense, per

Limiting the number of times Kessler has to drop back and pass has been a pattern during USC's late-season surge. The senior quarterback has thrown the ball fewer than 30 times in four games since Oct. 24 against Utah. Prior to that game, he had attempted at least 29 passes in five straight games. 

USC sophomore playmaker extraordinaire Adoree' Jackson was fantastic in the game, returning a punt for 42 yards to help give the Trojans a 20-14 lead and nearly had an interception that went right through his hands.

Even with the one missed opportunity, his punt return was special because nothing about it should have worked, per USC Athletics:

UCLA was able to get a strong rushing performance from Paul Perkins, who finished with 95 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, but there wasn't enough around him to make up the difference. 

Rosen, who has faced many of the trials and tribulations most true freshmen go through, looked like a first-year player against USC. He went 19-of-37 for 227 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.'s Kevin Gemmell noted how painful the final weekend of the regular season has been for UCLA in the last two years:

The win was significant for USC interim head coach Clay Helton, with's Arash Markazi noting he did something all of the recent big-name head coaches for the Trojans couldn't do:

Helton took over following a loss against Washington and was able to pinpoint the night his team turned the corner, per Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News:

It’s a weird moment but when the start of the fourth quarter happened at Notre Dame and I looked up and it’s 31-24 and we were in the lead and we had come back from being down 24-10, I said right there ‘We’ve got something special.’ I really felt we could make a run. We put ourselves in a position to be a Pac-12 South champion.

Since losing to Notre Dame, USC has gone 5-1, with its lone blemish being a loss on the road against Oregon. Under the Radar speculated on what Saturday's victory could do for his resume:

USC will decide its coaching situation in the coming weeks, but Helton has earned the right to be considered for the job after getting the Trojans into the Pac-12 title game.

A win over Stanford, which holds a 41-31 win over the Trojans earlier in the season, could push Helton over the top. His team is firing on all cylinders, playing strong defense and living up to the potential everyone assumed it had back in August.

Read more College Football news on

Connor Cook Breaks Michigan State Record for Total Offense

On Saturday against the Penn State Nittany Lions, Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook broke the school's record for total offense, which was previously held by Kirk Cousins, per the Detroit News' Matt Charboneau.

Cook broke the record with an eight-yard completion to Gerald Holmes while the Spartans were leading 34-16 in the fourth quarter. With a win Saturday, Michigan State would clinch a place in the Big Ten Championship Game against the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes.

The completion put Cook at 9,008 career yards, four ahead of Cousins' career total. It wasn't the only record he broke Saturday, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out:

Cook entered the game with 8,765 yards in his career, with 8,535 of them coming through the air, before picking apart the Penn State secondary.

It hasn't been an easy senior season for the fifth-year Spartans signal-caller, who will be one of the top NFL draft prospects in 2016. On Nov. 14 against Maryland, Cook suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the Ohio State game, which Michigan State ended up winning, setting the Spartans up for a Big Ten title game berth.

While school records are wonderful achievements for any college athlete, the possibility of competing for a national championship will overshadow any individual record. A healthy Cook could cement his status as Michigan State's greatest quarterback ever by winning the Big Ten title and more during bowl season. 


Stats courtesy of

Read more College Football news on

Big Ten Championship Game 2015: Date, Start Time for Iowa vs. Michigan State

Undefeated Iowa (12-0, 8-0) and powerful Michigan State (11-1, 7-1) will be playing for the Big Ten championship—and a lot more when they meet at Lucas Oil Stadium Dec. 5.

The winner of this game is likely to end up with one of the four coveted spots in the College Football Playoff and try to give the Big Ten its second consecutive national championship. Ohio State defeated Alabama and Oregon last year to win college football's first-ever playoff.

Here is a look at the date, start time and viewing information for the Big Ten Championship Game.

Date: Saturday, Dec. 5

Kickoff Time (ET):  8:17 p.m.

Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

TV: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

While the Hawkeyes are undefeated, they will have their hands full competing with Michigan State for 60 minutes. The Spartans pulled off three signature wins this season, beating Oregon, Michigan and Ohio State.

The win at Ohio State was perhaps the most impressive, as the defense contained and shut down the powerful Buckeyes ground game and the Spartans came up with the 17-14 victory. That win was made even more impressive when Ohio State bounced back and overwhelmed Michigan 42-13.

Iowa did not face the same demanding schedule as the Spartans, but head coach Kirk Ferentz's team systematically took care of every opponent on the schedule en route to winning the Big Ten West.

The Hawkeyes have a powerful running game led by Jordan Canzeri, who carried the ball 176 times for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns. While he regularly runs between the tackles, he is capable of breaking big plays and getting to the outside. He has shown explosive speed from time to time.

Canzeri led the Hawkeyes with 17 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns in their regular-season-ending 28-20 win at Nebraska Friday.

Iowa is likely to need some explosive plays if it is going to keep pace with Michigan State. Quarterback Connor Cook has been a four-year starter and has a slew of excellent receivers in Aaron Burbridge, Macgarrett Kings and R.J. Shelton. That trio will be difficult to contain.

Cook, who had a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the Ohio State game, was back in the lineup in the regular-season finale against Penn State and threw the ball well. Michigan State routed the Nittany Lions 55-16, and Cook completed 19 of 26 passes for 248 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Nothing but green! Michigan State punches its ticket to Indianapolis to play No. 4 Iowa in the Big Ten title game.

— ESPN (@espn) November 28, 2015

Quarterback C.J. Beathard of Iowa doesn't have Cook's consistency, but he has had a fine season. Beathard completed 184 of 303 passes for 2,354 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.

He spread his passing game around, and wideout Matt VandeBerg was his leading receiver with 59 catches, 625 yards and three touchdowns.

Iowa wide receiver Tevaun Smith said the Hawkeyes have been able to put together their unbeaten record by trying to prove themselves every week. 

"We haven’t arrived," Smith told Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register. "We don’t want to be complacent. From Game 1 to Game 12, we’ve had a lot to prove. Especially going into this game. A lot of people doubted we could win this game. That’s what keeps the train moving."

Michigan State's depth, talent and experience may give the Spartans the advantage here, but if they struggle with turnovers and penalties, Iowa could steal the Big Ten title.

Read more College Football news on

Demarcus Robinson Suspended by Florida: Latest Details, Comments

The Florida Gators suspended star receiver Demarcus Robinson for a violation of team rules ahead of Saturday's regular-season finale against the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles.

Brett McMurphy of reported the news before kickoff at the Swamp in Gainesville, and Florida confirmed the suspension on Twitter.

Robinson ranks first on the Gators with 47 receptions this season. CBS Sports projects him to be a third-round pick, should he choose to enter the 2016 NFL draft. A discouraging pattern of behavior may diminish Robinson's pro prospects, though, as the Associated Press' Mark Long noted:

Gators head coach Jim McElwain has catalyzed an instant turnaround in his first year at the helm, leading his team to a 10-1 record and a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but he has endured multiple off-field episodes involving his players.

In October, the NCAA banned prior starting quarterback Will Grier for a year because of a positive performance-enhancing-drug test. The team also suspended cornerback Jalen Tabor and Treon Harris, who took over for Grier at quarterback, for its game against Tennessee on Sept. 26. It was Harris' second suspension in as many seasons.

Read more College Football news on