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College Football Picks Week 3: Predictions and Odds for Top 25 Schedule

Through two weeks of the 2014 college football season, we've already seen a bevy of unexpected results. Some teams that received significant hype over the offseason proved to have very little substance, while some underappreciated squads made names for themselves with big wins.

In the aftermath of Week 2 contests, the AP released its new Top 25 poll, which included plenty of movement. After some ugly performances from a few top teams—Ohio State tops that short list—a couple of new teams find themselves on this week's list.

Vegas oddsmakers have already released the opening lines for Week 3 of the college football season, so let's go ahead and decide the outcome of each Top 25 squad's impending contest based on those odds.

All game odds courtesy of Odds Shark.

The AP poll can be viewed at CollegeFootball.AP.org.

 

Pick Analysis

(24) South Carolina vs. (6) Georgia

Georgia is only giving three points to South Carolina on Saturday. It's time to break out your wallet, because the Gamecocks haven't given us any reason to believe they can keep up with the Bulldogs.

In Week 1, Georgia's win over Clemson was a thing of beauty. The Bulldogs clicked in all phases of the game, racking up 459 yards of offense while pummeling the Tigers by a score of 45-21. Hutson Mason managed the game nicely from the quarterback position, and Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns.

The SEC's Twitter account received quite a reaction when it asked if Gurley is the Heisman front-runner:

It's not as if Clemson was a no-name team, either. In Week 2, the Tigers took out their pent-up aggression on South Carolina State, winning by a score of 73-7.

As for South Carolina, it allowed Texas A&M to accumulate 52 points in Week 1 and made quarterback Kenny Hill a household name. You'd think the team would rebound against East Carolina in Week 2; however, that wasn't the case at all.

While the Gamecocks notched their first win of the season, they won by just seven points with 12 minutes remaining in the game. Once again, South Carolina's defense faltered, allowing 453 yards of offense to the Pirates.

Now, just imagine what the Bulldogs will be able to do.

 

Texas vs. (12) UCLA

Don't look now, but the UCLA Bruins may not be as good as advertised. Sure, they currently hold a 2-0 record; however, those two wins came in close contests against unranked teams. Expect that trend to continue in Week 3.

The Bruins have yet to find an identity. In Week 1, Virginia's defense absolutely tortured quarterback Brett Hundley. His offensive line just couldn't hold up against the pressure, and the end result was a dismal 43.2 passer rating. The offense couldn't get anything done, and the defense had to bail out the team.

It was completely different in Week 2 against Memphis. Hundley looked much better, completing 33 of his 44 passing attempts for 396 yards, three touchdowns and one interception; however, there was no running game to speak of—the Bruins averaged just 3.5 yards per carry as a team. Making matters worse, the defense didn't show up at all, allowing 469 yards of offense and 35 points to the Tigers.

UCLA was lucky to escape with another win. SportsCenter tweeted exactly how close the game was in the fourth quarter:

Texas is also an up-and-down team this season. The Longhorns looked decent in Week 1, defeating North Texas by a score of 38-7. The offense wasn't overwhelmingly impressive, but the defense allowed a grand total of just 94 yards to the Mean Green.

Things didn't quite go according to plan against BYU in Week 2. While the Texas defense looked good at times—Taysom Hill struggled through the air, completing 18 of his 27 attempts for 181 yards and a pick—it gave up five rushing touchdowns, losing 41-7.

The Longhorns aren't coming off a particularly favorable performance, but they play at home against a UCLA team that hasn't exactly found its groove yet this season. Expect a close one here.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Trojans Have Swagger Back, and It Appears It May Be Here to Stay

Gone was the sense of entitlement.

Gone was the swagger that came from matching what those around the program said to what the program did every Saturday.

Gone was the aura that emanated from the Song Girls, the marching band and Traveler galloping across the field.

After a two-year bowl ban, 17 losses since the start of 2010 and a coaching reign that saw fans chanting for a firing, a glimpse of what USC was and may be again was evident Saturday in a 13-10 victory at Stanford. The win gave the Trojans a major boost in their quest to re-establish themselves as not only a Pac-12 power but a playoff contender for the national championship.

"It's been a long four years," USC athletic director Pat Haden admitted to the Los Angeles TimesBill Plaschke. "We've been through a lot. We're finally coming out of it."

On Sunday, the polls reflected increased respect for the Trojans as they jumped (from No. 14) to No. 9 in the AP poll and to No. 10 in the coaches poll.

USC is back.

But it was more than kicker Andre Heidari's game-winning 53-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining in the game or running back Javorius Allen's career-high 154 yards that rekindled memories of the Student Body Left, Student Body Right days, when Heisman Trophy candidates and All-American running backs seemed part of the program's DNA.

It was also the sight of USC coach Steve Sarkisian going ballistic with the officials, and Haden (a former All-American QB and Rhodes Scholar) coming out of the press box to argue with them on the sidelines after receiving a text message from the USC sideline. 

It was good football and good theatre.

It was the attitude that said, "We are USC."

Yes, they are. And while this season is only in its preliminary stages, it isn't a stretch to suggest that when the campaign wraps up in January with its first-ever College Football Playoff, USC will be part of the show.

Beating Stanford—which became a Pac-12 force in the power vacuum created when USC tumbled because of the severe sanctions levied against it by the NCAA—for the second consecutive year has set the table for USC to return among the game's elite. 

Oregon isn't on the regular-season schedule, and a potential conference title game meeting would be at the neutral site of Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. That leaves two major threats in the Pac-12 South: Arizona State, which must travel to L.A., and UCLA, which has looked less than overpowering in two wins over Virginia and Memphis.

Sarkisian, who arrived in December from Washington and was once a longtime assistant under former coach Pete Carroll, hinted as much after the game Saturday.

"No telling what might happen now," he told reporters. "We might just see these guys again in a few months [in the Pac-12 title game in December]."

There was a time not all that long ago when such confident chatter was a staple of USC conversation.

After the program had grown dormant in the years after John McKay, and John Robinson had directed the school to five national championships between 1962-78, Pete Carroll arrived and, in short order, turned the Trojans forward.

After stumbling out of the gate in 2001 with a 2-5 start, USC went 67-7 over the next 74 games. It won 34 straight during one stretch and captured back-to-back AP national championships in '03 and '04. The Trojans finished in the top four of the final AP rankings seven times, and they lost a total of nine games from '02-08.

USC games became must-see events. Average attendance jumped from fewer than 60,000 per game to more than 85,000. Celebrities such as Will Ferrell mingled with former Heisman winners and All-Americans on the sidelines at home games.

It was a stretch of success that came with a huge cost, however.

The NCAA hit the program with a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships after an investigation found that former tailback Reggie Bush had received improper benefits from marketing agents. Fourteen victories were crossed out of the record book, an '05 national title vacated.

Carroll, while not directly implicated, was the man in charge at the time. Six months before the penalties were handed to the school, Carroll left to return to the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.

It has been a tough trip since, characterized by missteps, mistakes and, at times, chaos. It seemed to peak last season when Haden fired coach Lane Kiffin midseason. That left the team in the hands of assistant Ed Orgeron, who soon quit (upon Sarkisian's hiring), leaving the program in the hands of assistant Clay Helton for the team's visit to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Counting Sarkisian, the Trojans cycled through four coaches in four months. Remarkably, they still won 10 games.

Once a longtime assistant under Carroll, Sarkisian has been forced to expect the unexpected in his short tenure running the show at USC.

Before the season started, he faced internal strife when he suspended team captain Josh Shaw for fabricating a story about saving his nephew from drowning in a swimming pool. Sarkisian had to deal with charges from running back Anthony Brown that Brown was quitting because he felt Sarkisian was a racist (an accusation Sarkisian called "ridiculous" and Brown deleted from his Instagram account).   

Despite the problems of the last few weeks, Sarkisian has brought stability to the football offices after the last few years of turmoil under Kiffin. And then there is the talent level. Rivals has ranked USC's 2015 recruiting class as the best in the conference (and No. 10 nationally), which has bolstered a roster with talent returning at all of the offensive skill positions and seven starters back on defense.

With a 2-0 start, it would appear USC is indeed "coming out of it," as Haden suggested. The program has always had the first-line talent to compete with anyone, including crosstown rival UCLA, which has also re-emerged as a Pac-12 and national force under the guidance of coach Jim Mora.

The Trojans are sitting in prime position, with a schedule that seems manageable, starting with a prime-time road game Saturday night at Boston College on and back-to-back home contests against Oregon State and Arizona State.

After that, the biggest obstacles appear to be a road game at Arizona on Oct. 11, the annual meeting with UCLA (in the Rose Bowl) on Nov. 22 and a regular-season finale with Notre Dame a week later. Then could come the rematch with Stanford that Sarkisian hinted at or a date with No. 3 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.

With the early self-destruct button hit by the Big Ten in terms of its national championship hopes, USC might need to reserve some space on the sidelines for a Will Ferrell sequel soon.

 

Mark Blaudschun covers college football as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has more than three decades of experience covering sports at a variety of newspapers in New Jersey, The Dallas Morning News and The Boston Globe.

Follow him on Twitter @blauds.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Trojans Have Swagger Back, and It Appears It May Be Here to Stay

Gone was the sense of entitlement. Gone was the swagger that came from matching what those around the program said to what the program did every Saturday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

College Football Rankings 2014: Latest Standings and Predictions for Week 3

There are going to be better weeks of action in college football than the slate of games on tap for Week 3. Let's just call a spade a spade in that regard. Still, there are enough juicy games and marquee teams in action to keep things interesting. 

Below, we'll take a look at the rankings and make a few predictions for the top squads in the country. Spoiler alert: Don't expect a ton of upsets this week.
 

Standings

 

Georgia at South Carolina

In a week largely devoid of top-notch matchups, this SEC clash is the cream of the crop. Coming into the season, it was expected the SEC East would come down to one of these two teams, and with South Carolina already losing to Texas A&M, its season will be on the line here. 

Of course, slowing down Todd Gurley won't be easy. The Heisman candidate absolutely shredded Clemson in Week 1, rushing 15 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Oh, and he took a kick to the house, too, giving him four scores already on the season. 

So good has Gurley looked on the season, a former college star, Herschel Walker, has already been heaping the praise on him this year, per Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel of SI.com:

'Every time he touches the ball,' Walker said, 'you’re looking for something to happen.'

Walker didn’t get a chance to talk with Gurley after Georgia’s 45-21 victory over Clemson on Saturday, a game in which he set a school record with 293 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns. But Walker said Gurley knows 'how special he is to me.'

'Todd is the best running back in college football,' Walker said. 'Right now, you can’t argue that point.'

Walker might be a bit biased—he's a Georgia alum, after all—but it's hard to argue with his assessment of Gurley. 

Of course, when South Carolina was blitzkrieged by Texas A&M, it wasn't the running game that killed them. Yes, it gave up 169 yards on the ground and a rushing score, but it was the 511 passing yards and three touchdowns it gave up to Kenny Hill and Co. in the passing game that really did the Gamecocks in during the 52-28 loss.

It will be interesting to see if they can slow down the very different attack Georgia will bring into Williams-Brice Stadium. If South Carolina can contain Gurley, it'll likely win this game at home. But if Gurley gives the Heisman voters another marquee performance, Georgia's going to come away with the vital victory.

Prediction: Georgia wins

 

Tennessee at Oklahoma 

Let's be clear right up front: Oklahoma is probably going to roll Tennessee. Trevor Knight has been brilliant thus far (553 passing yards, three touchdowns), the Sooners have allowed just 23 total points in two games, and the talent on this team is really impressive. They have one of the truly balanced offenses in college football (286.0 passing yards and 222.0 rushing yards per game).

Knight will be the difference, of course. If he's consistently a stud, Oklahoma will be tough to top. Thus far, Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports has been impressed:

But Tennessee is no pushover. Despite a pretty weak schedule to start—to be fair, Oklahoma hasn't been tested either—the Vols have been impressive in their 2-0 star, as quarterback Justin Worley has been excellent (520 passing yards, five touchdowns).

Still, Tennessee is a young team, and the trip to Memorial Stadium might be a taller task than it's ready for at the moment. Oklahoma looks, once again, like one of the most talented and balanced squads in the country. It'll prove it Saturday night.

Prediction: Oklahoma wins

 

Other Marquee Teams in Action

Look folks, there just aren't a ton of prime-time matchups this week, so let's buzz through a few of the bigger contests.

Baylor should cruise against Buffalo. UCF might give Missouri a headache or two, but it couldn't pull off the win over Penn State, and it won't take down the Tigers, either. Louisville should squeak by a tough Virginia team that played UCLA really tough.

Oregon will demolish Wyoming. Stanford will recover in style against Army, while Notre Dame will handle Purdue without any issue. UCLA will make BYU's rout against Texas look like a paper cut when the Bruins face the Longhorns.

USC's defense will shut down Boston College. Texas A&M will breeze past Rice, and Arizona State won't be troubled by Colorado. Perhaps Nebraska will have learned from its scare this weekend and take Fresno State seriously. If it does, it'll win big.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Mississippi State Bulldogs Broadcast Legend Jack Cristil Passes Away at 88

In what is a sad moment for college football and America in general, Mississippi State has announced that one of the greatest broadcasters of our time or any time, Jack Cristil, has passed away at the age of 88.

Jack will be remembered as the iron man behind the microphone—636 total football games, which accounts for over 60 percent of the total games in Mississippi State history.

MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin took to Twitter to address the sad news.

Very sad to share this: Mississippi State lost it’s Voice tonight, Jack Cristil. #HailState#WrapItInMaroonAndWhitehttp://t.co/erQU8oAc8v

— Scott Stricklin (@stricklinMSU) September 8, 2014

MSU President Mark E. Keenum also offered words about Cristil in the school's announcement: 

As a lifelong Bulldog, my heart is heavy at learning of the passing of legendary MSU broadcaster Jack Cristil. Jack's deep love of this university was always evident in his words and in his deeds. He was a tireless ambassador for Mississippi State and he brought great honor and distinction to our university as one of the most revered radio announcers in American history.

Funeral arrangements weren't immediately known, but all communication about such events will come from the MSU Office of Public Affairs.

Fan groups are calling for respects to be paid at the family's commemorative brick.

If you wish to pay your respects to Jack Cristil in person, his brick is found in section I-2. pic.twitter.com/AOyAbKEFvA

— M&WN (@mandwnation) September 8, 2014

Cristil was a recipient of the Ronald Reagan Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, given by the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters, and won the Mississippi Broadcaster of the Year Award a record 21 times. Perhaps no one in any sport will ever be as well-known for who they called games for as much as Cristil was with Mississippi State football.

In addition to his football games, Cristil called roughly 55 percent of all of the school's basketball games. He did football for 58 seasons and basketball for 54.

Fittingly, Cristil's last football game called was one of the most memorable in recent times, as it was the 52-14 Gator Bowl win over the Michigan Wolverines in 2011.

Follow Dan Irwin on Twitter @irwinsports or on Facebook.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big Ten Football: Ranking the 10 Best Under-the-Radar Players After Week 2

The 2014 college football season is now two weeks old, and we certainly have our list of superstars and playmakers.  But the Big Ten is full of top-tier athletes making a difference for their teams, and despite a lack of attention, these under-the-radar players are making big impacts in the Big Ten.

Every great quarterback needs great wide receivers, and every great running back needs great offensive linemen.  There are even quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs that are overlooked because of their team's overall lack of success.

These players are some of the best Big Ten players in 2014, so it's a bit strange we haven't heard more about them.  We'll remedy that right now.

 

Unless otherwise noted, quotes or references to quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.

 

Begin Slideshow

Week 2 College Football Superlatives from Kramer's Korner

College football is a cruel, ruthless game, one that regularly rips the hearts out of unflappable grown men and raises it to the sky for the world to see. 

Enter McNeese State coach Matt Viator, who watched his team come up seconds short of pulling an upset so large it would have been difficult to grasp. Following the game, just a short while after the Nebraska scoreboard read 31-24 in favor of the Cornhuskers, Viator reacted exactly how anyone in his position would have reacted while waiting to address the media.

McNeese State coach Matt Viator. The agony of defeat pic.twitter.com/izr6o2wKKE

— Dirk Chatelain (@dirkchatelain) September 6, 2014

Now, we don’t have the full context of this image, which is noteworthy. Nonetheless, it does its part in summarizing the emotional toll that comes with excitement followed by the harsh reality of crushing disappointment. 

When you’re an FCS program assumed to be there for a paycheck—and that’s exactly what you’re doing, no matter how we try to spin it—we assume defeat is just all in a day’s work. Not for these coaches, though. The paycheck theory never applies, particularly when the stigmas are long dead deep in the fourth quarter. 

McNeese State was close, so close that it took a monumental effort from one of the nation’s best players—more on that in a bit—to secure a victory. 

There is no comfort in being paid a large sum of money to come to a stadium and nearly pull off the unthinkable. In the end, a loss is still a loss, and you can feel the hurt without truly understanding this kind of emotional burn. 

College football is an amazing game; college football is a cruel, alliance-less monster.

Given the weekend that was, particularly for a certain conference that will remain nameless (for now), this sentiment can be shared in plenty of cities. As for other awards and observations from Week 2, including the best fan of the college football season, here they are.

 

Offensive Player of the Week: Vernon Adams Jr., Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. had himself a day against a Top 25 team. Adams completed 31 of 46 passes for 475 yards and seven—yes, seven—touchdowns on the road against Washington. He also ran for 17 yards, which, well, somehow feels far less significant than the other numbers listed. 

What’s even more impressive is that this performance came against one of the most experienced defenses in the country. And while his team was unable to pull the monster upset—losing 59-52—his work should be lauded. 

It’s also worth highlighting that through two games, only 11 teams have thrown for seven touchdowns. (No big deal, it took him 60 minutes.)

 

Dominant Defender: Danny Shelton, Washington

How can the Offensive Player of the Week and the Dominant Defender come from the same game and two different teams? Allow me to explain this peculiar circumstance. 

Yes, Washington gave up 52 points to Eastern Washington (see above), but that was through no fault of Danny Shelton’s. The senior defensive tackle finished the game with 12 tackles and four—yes, four—sacks in the 59-52 victory. 

Through two games, the 339-pounder has six sacks overall. He is currently first in the nation and out in front by a wide margin; the next-closest player has three-and-a-half sacks through two games.

His image above pretty much sums up Washington's current season rather perfectly.

 

Video Game Box Score

— Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen completed only four passes in the Hogs' 73-7 win against Nicholls State. These passes totaled 117 yards. On paper, this isn’t all that impressive. But when you consider that all four of these completions resulted in touchdowns, you enter a bizarre world of offensive production.

— To say College of Faith struggled against the Tusculum defense would be a gross understatement. Yes, these are the names actual Division II programs, and they made history on Thursday night. The Tusculum defense held College of Faith to minus-100 total yards and minus-124 yards rushing in a 71-0 victory, both NCAA records. Burn the film, College of Faith. Burn it and never look back.

 

Anti-Video Game Box Score

— Well, I suppose we have to include the College of Faith offense here. Not your week, College of Faith.

 — Oh, SMU. We’re going to be saying this a lot this season, aren’t we? After getting obliterated by Baylor in Week 1—which is understandable—the Mustangs fell to North Texas by the score of 43-6. Worst of all, however, is that the Mean Green finished with 15 penalties for 139 yards and still cruised. Oh, and SMU finished 1-of-11 on third downs, turned the ball over five times and rushed for eight yards.

 

Biggest Surprise: Pat Haden’s Sideline Cameo

During a football game, an athletic director of a major college football program received a text message from a staff member, requesting he come down to the field. He did. That’s weird as is, but let’s get weirder.

From there, USC’s Pat Haden—also known as College Football Playoff Committee member Pat Haden—argued with officials on the sideline. This encounter prompted a flood of columns and tweets requesting that Haden resign from the committee immediately.

The response was unexpected but not at all surprising.

Should a committee member be pleading for his team during a game? Probably not.

Should an athletic director suddenly transform into a mascot? Probably not.

Should an athletic director be on the committee that decides a college football postseason in the first place? Probably not.

Should Haden give up his seat? No. Let's just relax and find something else to be unexplainably mad about.

 

Best Moment 

Disclaimer: If you’re a McNeese State fan, please skip to the next section or throw your computer through the nearest window. 

Nebraska running Ameer Abdullah delivered a play that will be analyzed by football scientists for years to come. Tied with McNeese State with less than a minute remaining, Abdullah caught the ball in space and then turned into a superhero for 58 yards.

His touchdown gave Nebraska a victory—and maybe did a bit more for his head coach.

Watch it again. And again. And again. It still won’t seem real.

 

For the Highlight Reel 

With Michigan State driving, poised to close the gap on Oregon, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu—the Ducks’ best defensive player—delivered the spectacular. 

The All-American’s acrobatic leap proved to be one the key moments in Oregon’s 46-27 win over Sparty. It also deserves multiple viewings, because 99.9 percent of us would tear everything in our bodies attempting such a dive.

Take it away, Gus.

You can’t have him yet, NFL. He’s ours for a little while longer.

 

If the College Football Playoff Started Today... (or Why I Hate Your Team)

It’s that time again; time to make fanbases mad with rankings that carry absolutely no bearing on what the College Football Playoff will look like. I promise, Pat Haden did not campaign for USC’s inclusion below; this was my own doing. 

  1. Oregon
  2. USC
  3. Georgia
  4. Florida State

 

Fan of the Week: Shirtless, Hatless, Disgusted Vanderbilt Fan

What do you do when your team is 0-2 and was outscored 78-10 in the first two weeks at home? Well, you do the reasonable thing: You rip off your shirt and hat, toss them with the utmost disdain from the stands and walk out sans your dignity (and the necessary attire to be served in most restaurants).

Vandy fan so upset he just took off his hat and shirt, threw them on the field and walked out. #vandy#olemisspic.twitter.com/C3tFqFpjfv

— Audra Martin (@Audra_Martin) September 6, 2014

Bless you, sir. Keep fighting the good fight.

 

Five Leftovers to Chew on

1. Let's just forget that weekend ever happened, Big Ten. I promise not to bring it up if you won't. In fact, I've already forgotten about it. No, I'm not crying. OK, maybe I'm crying just a little bit. I need a moment.

2. What an impressive win for Oregon, and what a game overall. Marcus Mariota is truly spectacular, and Michigan State (to me) is still a Top 10 team. It'll be fascinating to see where these teams go from here and the playoff implications that will follow.

3. Even without Bryce Petty, the Baylor offense is machine-like. You could throw for 300 yards. Yes, you. And on the topic of offense, how good is wideout KD Cannon going to be? Heck, how good is he now? The true freshman caught six passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns against Northwestern State…in the first half.

4. Everett Golson is a different quarterback, and I say that knowing that tougher cornerbacks and competition are still to come. With that necessary disclaimer out of the way, it would seem he’s on the verge of a pretty special season after what we saw against Michigan. He’s must-see TV at the moment. 

5. As good as business is for college football—and business is very, very good—the infusion of money and conference-hopping has killed some of the most important games, which are the roots of our enjoyment. The fact that Michigan and Notre Dame are ending their rivalry is a gut-punch to us all.

 

How to Not Start a Game, Starring Western Illinois

When receiving the opening kickoff, here is a short list of things one should not do.

1. Fumble

2. Fall Asleep

3. Get Caught Texting

4. Vomit

5. Do This…

Kyle Hammonds of Western Illinois found himself in kickoff purgatory after dropping the ball. The result was an early 2-0 lead for Wisconsin after only one second of play. This will win you bar trivia at some point; bank on it.

 

This Week in Large Man Greatness

Hello, Preston Smith.

The Mississippi State defensive end picked off his second pass of the season, and he did so in spectacular fashion.

The 270-pounder followed up the one-handed snag by taking it back for a touchdown. He remains the Bulldogs' best defensive back. I'm kidding, sort of.

 

This Guy

Winner at life. pic.twitter.com/JsVldZPNP0

— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) September 6, 2014

It’s the Dri-FIT bandana, the gas station sunglasses, the 14-pound headphones and that amazing blonde mane that make Brock Hekking a football treasure. 

The Nevada defensive end has a look about him that is unique from any player in college football. It’s the mullet, certainly, but it’s so much more than that. The image above was taken as Hekking warmed up for Washington State on Friday evening, and it creates an accurate representation of the most interesting college football player on the planet. 

 

And This Guy

We see your breathtaking mullet and raise you this gentleman’s mustache-beard hybrid, which belongs in some sort of facial hair museum. (If one doesn’t exist, let’s build one, just for this.)

You probably take your job very seriously, but I doubt you look as serious as this man did while waiting to escort Nevada head coach Brian Polian to the locker room.

That mustache-beard actually is a third-degree black belt and carries mace. Proceed with caution.

 

Mascot Nightmare Fuel

The Stanford Tree is here, mutant tongue exposed, ready to find you while you sleep for the rest of time. Never has such a huggable, cartoon piece of fabricated wood been so utterly horrifying.

 

Mascot Nightmare Fuel: Part 2

Speaking of mutants, I propose we start testing Maryland mascots for HGH and other performance-enhancing substances. Terrifying.

 

From the Peanut Gallery (Best Tweets of the Weekend)

I wonder if Arkansas State did this on purpose pic.twitter.com/fKkFMPzRhr

— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 6, 2014

You’re losing to a bed and breakfast, UConn. pic.twitter.com/9HpmPS7Nn6

— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) September 6, 2014

Looked familiar. https://t.co/4hdzMw3bxY#WarEagle

— Auburn Tigers (@AuburnTigers) September 5, 2014

Waiting for Michigan to score pic.twitter.com/Q3a27Zcw5A

— Kevin (@KevinJamal7) September 7, 2014

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M vs. Rice Complete Game Preview

The Texas A&M football team will take on the Rice Owls at Kyle Field on Saturday in a contest between two former Southwest Conference teams. Rice is 0-1 and coming off a bye week after opening the season with a 48-17 loss at Notre Dame.

The Aggies are 2-0 and ranked No. 7 in the latest AP poll. Texas A&M is coming off a 73-3 win over Lamar. The Aggies will be looking to improve their record to 3-0 and get their young team some more experience against the Owls. 

Texas A&M has played 14 true freshmen during the first two games of the season. Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff need to continue to give those young players snaps in order to prepare them for the upcoming conference schedule.

The Rice game will be another opportunity for the Aggies to improve before they enter the meat of their conference schedule. This is a look at how the two teams match up with each other.   

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Football: What You Should Be Concerned About

The Ohio State Buckeyes suffered their first home and regular-season loss under Urban Meyer Saturday night, getting blasted by Virginia Tech in a 35-21 upset.

It was a crushing defeat for a team that was hoping to rely on a strong defense and an upgraded group of skill-position players in the wake of Braxton Miller's season-ending shoulder injury.

As Ohio State tries to refocus for a run at a Big Ten title, what should Buckeyes fans be most concerned about? 

Begin Slideshow

Mizzou Football Preview: Tigers Host Central Florida in Week 3

In what may be their toughest nonconference game remaining, Mizzou gears up to host the defending Fiesta Bowl champions, Central Florida. UCF opened the year with a historic contest in Dublin, Ireland against Penn State, but never looked the better team and fell to the Nittany Lions, 26-24, after a furious comeback wasn't enough for Penn State's late field goal.

But if you think that the Knights are coming into Columbia with their heads down, think again. This team thrives on playing in tough situations and sees nothing but opportunity with their visit to Columbia this weekend.

Mizzou comes into Week 3 with a 2-0 record as expected and has done so while looking decent on offense and questionable on defense. Russell Hansbrough has been able to essentially become that primary back who may have an amazing season. Marcus Murphy has been critical as a multi-functional player. Darius White and Bud Sasser have made themselves big targets for quarterback Maty Mauk.

Players have stepped up on the defensive side of the ball but have let opponents gash them in the running game. So how will Mizzou fare against UCF? We examine all aspects.

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College Football's All Week 2 First-Team: Top Performers at Every Position

College football's second week taught us a familiar lesson that we can't seem to retain: that the weakest slates of games on paper will always be the best on the field.

Despite featuring just two all-ranked matchups, Saturday provided rigorous entertainment from noon until the wee hours of Sunday morning, starting with an FCS team taking a ranked team to the brink during the noon games and ending with UTEP doing the same to Texas Tech around 3 a.m. ET.

In the end, the weekend gave us a number of standout players who did well to earn their helmet stickers. Some were already household names, and others came from relative nowhere, but all of them left Week 2 feeling good about their lot moving forward.

In putting together this list and recognizing these players, statistics were relied upon but not adhered to. A player can dominate without showing up on the box score—especially if he plays defense—and the quality of opponent was also taken into account.

Sound of below and let me know whom else you would add.

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USC Football: An Ugly Win at Stanford May Set Up a Beautiful Season

As victories go, USC's 13-10 win at Stanford was anything but pretty.

An offense that spent most of Saturday sputtering was propped up by a bend-but-don't-break defense that did just enough to keep the Cardinal frustrated when a multitude of opportunities presented themselves to quarterback Kevin Hogan and company.

But given that the Trojans played far from their best game in Palo Alto and still found a way to win portends of great things for the men of Troy as they go forward, and for those who follow USC, it is likely that a win such as this might be the best thing that could happen to them.

After all, did anyone really expect that the Trojans would go for 100-plus plays and 700 yards against a tough Stanford defense like they did against the hapless Bulldogs of Fresno State?

Of course, that answer is "no," but to be fair, few would have predicted that USC would be held to 59 plays either.

Yet that is what happened, and despite the stumbles by the offense, the Trojans still found a way to come up with a "W" along with a No. 9 ranking in the latest AP poll.

What should be remembered is that this win came against a very good Cardinal team on the road and for a team in only its second game under a new coach and an even newer offense.

And while things did not go as planned, it probably could not have gone better for a team that now is entertaining notions of a special season in 2014.

Having now won a tough game under difficult circumstances, head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff can go to sleep at night knowing their charges can win big games when the chips aren't falling their way.

And what is even more heartening for this staff is the knowledge that the Trojans will just keep getting better with an offense finding its way in the hurry-up and a strong defense that should keep improving under new coordinator Justin Wilcox.

Now the Trojans hit the road once again, but this time to meet an underwhelming Boston College team. The biggest fear here is a letdown, although that isn't likely under Sark and his aggressive staff.

And at 2-0 in this young season, the Trojans can look forward to a bye after the Boston College game, and if things go right, God help the Beavers of Oregon State the following week.

So while winning by 20-plus points and rolling up 500 or so yards against the Cardinal might have been nice, winning the way they did should put a lot of smiles on their fans' faces when and if the chips are down for the cardinal and gold later in the season.

Who says you can't put lipstick on a pig?

 

Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan

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USC Football: An Ugly Win at Stanford May Set Up a Beautiful Season

As victories go, USC's 13-10 win at Stanford was anything but pretty. An offense that spent most of Saturday sputtering was propped up by a bend-but-don't-break defense that did ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Freshmen Power Rankings of the Week: Top 5

Another week of college football is behind us. It was another opportunity for freshmen across the country to make an impact for their team.

That's why the B/R freshman power rankings rumble on.  

The freshmen on this list didn't technically have to start—as in, they didn't have to be the first player on the field at their respective position—but they did have to play at least a complementary or rotational role with at least one recordable stat. 

These rankings can also change dramatically from week to week depending on who shines. As the season progresses, power rankings should even out more. 

So which freshmen stood out in Week 2? Which ones had the most jaw-dropping highlights? Which ones underwhelmed? The answers are in the list below. 

 

The Standout

Yes, it was against Northwestern State, but how about Baylor wide receiver KD Cannon? The true freshman had six catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears have wide receiver talent for days, and Cannon is going to be a star. 

We'll see how Cannon does against better competition, but he does appear to be the deep threat capable of replacing former receiver Tevin Reese. 

 

Best Highlight

Go figure, but LSU running back Leonard Fournette's stats against Sam Houston State were much better than they were in Week 1 against Wisconsin. 

Fournette had 13 carries for 92 yards and a score, leading all rushers in the game. After his first touchdown, Fournette struck a familiar pose.

Too much, too soon? It's just good to see Fournette out there having fun. 

Speaking of LSU, freshman quarterback Brandon Harris completed four of five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, adding another 53 yards rushing. 

 

Who’s Rising?

Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell has had some nice moments in his first two games of the season. Against Oregon, McDowell registered three tackles, two of which were solo, and a half-sack for a loss of three yards. He was part of a Spartans defensive line that actually got some pressure on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and stuffed the Ducks' running attack for the first half.

Box score purists will look at the big plays Michigan State gave up in the second half, but the defensive line played well enough. So did McDowell. 

 

Who’s Falling?

Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers. The touted freshman has been banged up since the season opener. According to Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com, Peppers dressed for the Wolverines' Week 2 game against Notre Dame but didn't play. 

"If he could have played, we'd have played him," head coach Brady Hoke said, via Baumgardner. "We evaluated all those guys before the game, we were evaluating him before the game (and he couldn't play)."

Peppers is big-time talent, but he hasn't been able to have the immediate impact one might have projected because of injuries. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. 

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Oklahoma State vs. Missouri State : Winners and Losers from Cowboys Win

The Oklahoma State Cowboys were able to overcome injury and a lack of intensity this weekend and take care of business against the Missouri State Bears.

The Pokes didn't look like the near-world-beaters they were against Florida State a week ago, but that's too be expected when you have a young team coming off an emotionally draining opening weekend.

Add in injuries to the starting quarterback and running back, and you have a team that could've easily been upset.

Oklahoma State was able to pull it out, though, and now they have a week to get themselves back together before UTSA comes to town.

Outside of the final score, who won and who lost in this contest? Read on to find out.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Hits and Misses from Week 3 Polls

Week 2 is in the books, and it's time to release the polls...and the hounds champing at the bit to scrutinize said polls. 

The latest Associated Press and Amway coaches polls are out, as is the Bleacher Report Top 25. Peruse them with great passion—and, likely, utter disbelief. Some of the rankings are major head-scratchers. 

Most teams have played, at max, two games, so now is still the time when rankings can be dramatically shuffled from the week before. It's OK to overreact. It's OK to put Oregon at No. 1, keep Virginia Tech in or near the Top 10 or drop Ohio State and/or UCLA. 

Things will be sorted out eventually, and polls will get less crazy from week to week. For now, voters should go off what they see and throw out any preconceived notions about preseason rankings. 

With that in mind, here are the hits and misses from the polls after Week 2. 

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College Football Rankings 2014: Twitter Reacts to AP and Amway Week 3 Polls

Both the Amway Coaches poll and Associated Press poll were released in college football on Sunday, and it's safe to say the reaction to each was quite different. Let's just say a few of the coaches may not have read the paper or checked any of the scores on Saturday night.     

Below, we'll take a look at each poll and find out how folks online reacted to the polls. Spoiler alert: The Coaches poll wasn't popular.

 

Associated Press Poll

 

Amway Poll

 

Reaction

Suffice to say, more than a few folks thought the Amway Poll was, shall we say, a bit misguided. Another way of saying it would be that many people thought it was an absolute joke.

And frankly, it probably deserved that level of scrutiny.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports pointed out the most egregious decision in the Week 3 poll:

It truly boggles the mind. Ohio State just got smoked by Virginia Tech and it lost its star quarterback for the season. You could make a very strong argument that the Buckeyes don't deserve to be ranked at all, or at least should have dipped as low as they did in the AP Poll (from No. 8 to No. 22).

Feldman wasn't done pointing out the questionable calls in the Coaches poll:

Indeed, in the Associated Press version, Louisville was ranked No. 21 and BYU came in at No. 25. Both proved they belonged.

It gets worse, as Dan Wolken of USA Today tweeted:

Just to review, Texas Tech just barely got by UTEP and Iowa squeaked past Ball State, while Michigan lost to Notre Dame by a 31-0 margin. At least, thankfully, they weren't ranked. 

Joe Schad of ESPN pretty much summed up everyone's thoughts after seeing the Coaches poll:

Amen. 

The AP Poll, on the other hand, seemed a more accurate reflection on the week's action. The always entertaining Fake Bo Pelini on Twitter noticed:

One team in the rankings that will look around and see some familiar faces is Notre Dame, as Matt Fortuna of ESPN noted:

Notre Dame plays Stanford on Oct. 4, Florida State on Oct. 18 and finishes their year at USC. Oh, and North Carolina, Louisville and Arizona State are squeezed into the mix, too. Suffice to say, Notre Dame is going to have quite a fight on its hands to maintain its ranking. 

Then again, after the shellacking the Fighting Irish just put on Michigan, they seem up to the challenge. 

Another riser was Oregon after its impressive win over Michigan State. Of course, that should come as no surprise, as Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com pointed out:

Even with Florida State and Oregon ranked at the top, the Top 10 in the AP Poll again has an SEC flavor, with five of the 10 teams from that conference. At some point many of those teams will beat up on one another, but it will be intriguing to see where they all end up when the final rankings are released.

Will the SEC regain its perch atop college football once again? Teams like Florida State, Oregon and Oklahoma will certainly have something to say about that.

 

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Big Ten's Nightmare Opens Door for 2 SEC Teams in College Football Playoff

With Michigan State traveling to Oregon in Week 2, it was already a certainty that at least one College Football Playoff contender would exit the weekend with an uphill battle to make the inaugural four-team postseason event.

We didn't know, however, that an entire conference would be fighting that same battle.

Michigan fell to Notre Dame and was shut out for the first time since 1984. Ohio State got run out of its own building by previously unranked Virginia Tech.

Nebraska "scored" a last-minute win over McNeese State, Purdue and Northwestern lost at home to MAC teams and Iowa needed 14 fourth-quarter points to top Ball State.

It was one of the darkest days in Big Ten history.

My colleague Adam Kramer called it "The Death of the Big Ten."

OK, it's not literally dead.

It will play games in Week 3 and beyond. Sad, depressing and somewhat meaningless games, but games nonetheless. In terms of the CFP, the Big Ten is on life support.

That means the door is open for the SEC to sneak a second team into the CFP. The SEC Logo wouldn't mind that:

Of the four Big Ten teams in the new Amway Coaches Poll, three already have losses, and the fourth—Nebraska—has been far from impressive.

A one-loss SEC champ would certainly get the benefit of the doubt over any of those teams. A one-loss SEC team without the SEC title would almost certainly get the benefit of the doubt over any of those teams.

A two-loss SEC team with or without a conference title could make a case if the selection committee sticks to its "four best teams" mantra, which, as I've written before, is easier said than done.

That's a huge development not just for the SEC, but for the entire country.

An entire conference is now fighting an uphill battle in Week 2 in the win-loss column and in the arena of public perception, which is even more of an issue now than it was in the old BCS system. 

It's a beauty contest, and the Big Ten didn't even make it to the pageant. 

SEC Network's Paul Finebaum added to the misery:

One of the selection committee's stated points of emphasis is conference championships, and some members of the committee will place more importance on that than others. Will that cancel out the perception problem?

The margin for error for the Big Ten is razor-thin right now, and there's still 12 weeks of football to be played.

January 1, 2011 was one of the darkest days in Big Ten history, when the conference went "0-for-New Year's." The silver lining that day was that each of those teams got to turn the page for the new season the moment the wheels went up from their respective bowl sites.

Big Ten teams are going to be forced to live with Saturday's stumbles for the next three months, which could open the door for a second SEC team to crash the playoff party.

 

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

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

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College Football Playoff 2014: Updated Outlook After Release of Week 3 Rankings

After just two weeks of the 2014 college football season, we've already seen a bevy of movement among the top 25 teams. While some formerly underrated squads have surprised us with impressive performances, others have failed to live up to expectations and were sent spiraling down the rankings.

Several Week 2 contests were the biggest cause for shifts in the standings. J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes couldn't get out of their own way, falling to previously unranked Virginia Tech. The Michigan State Spartans collapsed in the second half, losing big to the Oregon Ducks. A close game between USC and Stanford sent the teams in opposite directions in this week's version of the Top 25.

With each contest now in the books, and another round of voting completed, the latest AP Poll has been released. Here's a look at the latest rankings followed by the current outlook for the first-ever College Football Playoff.

The AP Poll can be viewed at CollegeFootball.AP.org.

 

College Football Playoff Outlook

1. Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles clung to their No. 1 ranking following a close contest against Oklahoma State in Week 1. After a 37-12 rout of Citadel on Saturday, the team's standing atop the rankings is secure once again.

Jameis Winston looked closer to his Heisman-winning form against the Bulldogs, completing 22 of his 27 passing attempts for 256 yards and two touchdowns. He was helped tremendously by a receiving corps led by Rashad Green that hasn't lost a step since the departure of Kelvin Benjamin.

ESPN College Football highlighted Winston's performance:

Florida State complemented its passing attack with a solid ground game featuring a time share between Dalvin Cook, Karlos Williams and Mario Pender. As a team, the Seminoles rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries.

Stout on the defensive side of the ball as well, Citadel quarterbacks combined to complete five of their 14 passing attempts for 72 yards and a pair of late-game touchdowns. While the Bulldogs did rush for 250 yards as a team, it took 56 carries and quarterback scrambles to get there.

The Seminoles reaffirmed why they are the nation's top team, increasing their win streak to 18 games. Expect them to be well in the mix for the College Football Playoff for the remainder of the season.

 

2. Oregon Ducks

The Ducks were given the week's biggest challenge when Michigan State's stout defense rolled into town. The win didn't come easy for Oregon—it was down 24-18 at the half—but a surging Marcus Mariota led a brilliant second-half comeback to earn the 46-27 win and leapfrog Alabama to gain the No. 2 spot in the rankings.

Aside from a 70-yard touchdown strike to Devon Allen in the second quarter, Mariota took some time to figure out the Spartans defense. After some halftime adjustments, he lit up the scoreboard with four more touchdown drives.

Mariota continues to be well in the Heisman discussion after completing 17 of his 28 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns—while adding nine rushes for 42 yards—against one of the nation's most feared defensive units.

Here's a good look at what the Ducks accomplished on Saturday, via ESPN College Football:

While Oregon's offense looked as prolific as ever, its defense was just as impressive. Erick Dargan and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu each came away with an interception against a usually efficient Connor Cook. The Ducks limited running back Jeremy Langford to average just 3.6 yards per carry on the game.

This team proved it can compete with some of the best in the nation. There's every reason to expect the Ducks in the College Football Playoff.

 

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

It didn't even take Alabama a full 60 minutes of playing time to rout Florida Atlantic. The game was called off due to lightning in the fourth quarter with the Crimson Tide already leading 41-0. While Alabama dropped a spot in the poll due to Oregon's big win, it did appear to solve a quarterback controversy in the process.

Blake Sims started the game, and while most of his early passes were simply bubble screens, he showed a nice release which resulted in a good amount of velocity and accuracy on his passes. He finished the game completing 11 of his 13 passing attempts for 214 yards and two scores.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper had a hand in the quarterback's success, via ESPN College Football:

As for Jake Coker, his passes didn't have the zip produced by Sims. This caused several to find their targets late and others to sail high. He completed 15 of his 24 attempts for 202 yards and one score against Florida Atlantic.

Alabama's defense only allowed a total of 145 yards to the Owls offense. Quarterback Greg Hankerson comlpeted 12 of his 19 attempts for 88 yards, and the team's running game produced just 57 yards on 24 carries.

Once again, the Crimson Tide proved to be one of the nation's most well-rounded teams. Despite falling one spot, it certainly doesn't look like this squad will be leaving the top four any time soon.

 

4. Oklahoma Sooners

After destroying Louisiana Tech in Week 1, the Sooners continued the trend, defeating Tulsa by a score of 52-7 on Saturday. Oklahoma's combination of a balanced offensive attack and stout defense helped secure its spot within the top four teams in the nation.

Quarterback Trevor Knight had a far better showing in Week 2, completing 21 of his 34 passing attempts for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Sterling Shepard was one big factor in Knight's success against Tulsa. He proved to be the real deal, racking up 177 yards and a score on eight receptions.

The Sooners were efficient on the ground as well. The team continued its committee approach and combined to rush for 261 yards and four scores on 31 carries—an average of 8.4 yards per rush.

Knight's dual-threat ability was a factor in the team's success on the ground, via Eye on College Football:

Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans found little success through the air. He did throw one touchdown pass, but was also picked twice and completed just 23 of his 42 passing attempts. Tulsa didn't fare much better on the ground, rushing 34 times for 94 yards—an average of 2.8 yards per carry.

This Oklahoma team showed its capability of dominating a game in all phases on Saturday. With a relatively easy Big 12 schedule remaining, it would take a major upset to knock this well-rounded team out of the top four and the College Football Playoff.

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Texas Football: Longhorns Must Grow Up, and Fast

The levee broke around 8:20 p.m. CT Saturday night. What resulted was the worst home loss since "Route 66"—otherwise known as the 66-3 smack down UCLA put on Texas in 1997.

Texas' defense somehow shut down BYU's explosive offense throughout the first half, but the Longhorns offense did nothing to help.

The defense was on the field for more than 11 minutes in the second quarter alone. And when it was off, its breaks lasted an average 55 seconds.

But the floodgates opened in the third quarter when BYU scored 21 unanswered points. The team's contributions to the defense during the third quarter included two three-and-outs and a special team's fumble to give BYU the ball on Texas' 24-yard line.

It was apparent the defense was worn down, and the rest of the team struggled to do anything to help the tired unit. The outcome was a 41-7 loss to BYU.

The performance the Longhorns offense showed Saturday made it more evident than ever that there are serious issues on the depth chart.

"College football isn't like pro football. We can't go to a waiver wire," quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said. "We've got what we have got and we've got to work with it and find our way through it. There is a great life lesson, and there will be a championship down the road to look at that this had a lot to do with it. It builds character and that fire that you've got to go through."

The offense took a major step back when Texas announced offensive linemen Kennedy Estelle and Desmond Harrison would be suspended for Saturday's game for unspecified reasons. Add in the losses of quarterback David Ash (concussion) and center Dominic Espinosa (ankle), and the offense was basically pieced together with duct tape against BYU.

Texas started five offensive linemen with five career starts; three of those starts came in Week 1. First-time starting quarterback Tyrone Swoopes' playing experience from 2014 included kneeling twice to run out the clock in Texas' home opener Aug. 30.

When one factored in the losses to injury and suspensions, and the number of inexperienced players Texas would be forced to start, it was clear the Longhorns offense would struggle against the Cougars.

But what occurred Saturday night was shocking. 

Texas hasn't had an offensive lineman drafted since Tony Hills in 2008. And if Saturday's performance is any indication of the talent on the line, there's a possibility the Longhorns won't have an offensive lineman drafted for years to come.

The strength of the Texas offense is in running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown. But the duo cannot do their jobs effectively unless the offensive line opens up holes to run through, which is something the line did not do against BYU.

And putting a quarterback at third-and-long 10 times in his first career-start is not a recipe for success.

There's no pardon for what occurred Saturday night. BYU embarrassed Texas for the second-straight year, but this embarrassment happened in front of the its home crowd.

And the thousands of fans who left in the third quarter was proof of how shameful the performance was to Texas faithful.

The Longhorns have to grow up, and need to do it fast with the tough schedule ahead.

Texas will face No. 12 UCLA, No. 8 Baylor and No. 4 Oklahoma in three of the next four games. If the offense cannot stay on the field long enough to give its defense time to rest, there's a possibility Texas could lose all three of those games.

Bouncing back and upsetting UCLA would be huge for the Longhorns' confidence heading into conference play. But it will require the team to mature and step-up to the challenge—something it failed to do against the Cougars.

"We are going to bounce back," senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. "That’s what we’ve got to do and that’s what we will do. It’s game two. We’ve got another big one next week and we are just going to put our head down and continue to grind."

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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