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UConn QB Casey Cochran Gives Up Football Due to History of Concussions

Connecticut Huskies redshirt sophomore quarterback Casey Cochran is hanging up his cleats and pursuing a coaching career due to several concussions suffered over the course of his playing career.    

ESPN's Brett McMurphy revealed the news on Twitter Monday following a statement from the school:

Cochran, who was named the starter over senior Chandler Whitmer by head coach Bob Diaco back in August, completed 63.4 percent of his passes last season for 1,293 yards and 11 touchdowns to four interceptions.

Against BYU to start the year, Cochran threw for 171 yards and an interception and left with an injury before the eventual 35-10 loss. Whitmer will take over the reins full time for the 1-1 Huskies moving forward.

Cochran's decision to place an emphasis on his health was applauded by many, including Huskies play-by-play announcer Joe D'Ambrosio:

Now, Cochran can move forward with what many figured he would do after his collegiate football career concluded—coach the game to others, as his father Jack does at the high school level in Connecticut.

"A silver lining in this matter is that Casey has an interest in pursuing a career in coaching," said Diaco, per the press release on the team's website. "We can now accelerate his development in that area as he transitions from a player role to a mentor role as he continues to serve the team."

As Sean Patrick Bowley of GameTimeCT muses, the role is something that seems to suit Casey well moving forward:

As well as pursue the next step in his football career, Cochran will also surely continue his stellar academic record one season removed from being named to the 2013 American Athletic Conference All-Academic team.

After making one of the most difficult decisions a player inevitably experiences, Cochran gets to continue working around the sport he loves in a nurturing environment. Really, this premature end seems to be just the beginning for Cochran and his future pursuits.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Picks: East Carolina Pirates vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Odds

The AAC’s East Carolina Pirates will try to cool down the red-hot Virginia Tech Hokies out of the ACC this Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg. This game is set to kick off at noon ET, and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

The Pirates started the season with a routine 52-7 victory over NC Central as 39.5-point home favorites, and last week, they hung tough in a 33-23 loss to South Carolina as 14-point road underdogs. They are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games, and the total has gone “over” in six of their last eight contests.

Virginia Tech closed out the 2013 season with a straight-up record of 2-4 in its last six games, and it was 1-5 ATS. This season, the Hokies have burst out of the gates with a 2-0 start both SU and ATS, including a huge 35-21 victory over then-No. 8 Ohio State as 10-point underdogs on the road this past Saturday. The total went over the 46-point closing line in that game.

 

East Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Storylines

This is the Pirates' first season in the AAC after coming over from Conference USA. They opened up a 13-7 lead on the Gamecocks in this past Saturday’s loss, but in the end, they turned the ball over twice and could not get their defense off the field in an 11-minute, fourth-quarter drive, which led directly to the 10-point loss. Those kinds of things prove to be costly when you step up your level of competition as a mid-major program.

Give credit to East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden and wide receiver Justin Hardy for solid performances in the loss. Carden threw for 321 yards while completing 70 percent of his 46 passes, but he was picked off twice. Hardy was on the receiving end of 11 balls for 133 yards, which averaged out to be a healthy 12.1 yards per catch.

Virginia Tech was near the top of the list in regard to futures odds to win the ACC this season, but that small group of teams that the Hokies were a part of was well behind No. 1-ranked Florida State.

The win over the Buckeyes has to make the football experts across the country take notice, even if Braxton Miller is out of Ohio State’s lineup at quarterback. The Hokies defense held the Big Ten power to 327 total yards, and Virginia Tech had a seven-minute edge in time of possession.

Known for its shutdown defense, Virginia Tech got a big day from Kyshoen Jarrett with two interceptions, and Donovan Riley returned another pick 63 yards for a score with less than a minute to play to seal the win. Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer put the ball up 36 times and completed 23 passes for 199 yards and two scores, but he was intercepted two times on the day.

 

East Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Odds and Trends by Doc’s Sports

Point Spread: Virginia Tech -10

Total Line: OFF

According to Covers’ betting trends, the Pirates are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a SU loss, and they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven nonconference games. The total has gone over in six of their last eight games against a team with a winning record.                                               

The Hokies are 8-19 ATS in their last 27 games following a SU win, and they are 4-11-2 ATS in their last 17 games played outside the ACC. The total has stayed under in six of their last nine home games.

Head-to-head in this matchup, Virginia Tech is 4-0 SU in the last four meetings, but the series is tied 2-2 ATS. The total has stayed under in three of the four games.

 

College Football Picks: East Carolina at Virginia Tech Betting Predictions

This is a dangerous situation for the Hokies, who have gained a reputation for crushing letdowns following a big win, but I believe that things will be different this Saturday against the Pirates. Virginia Tech will not take this game lightly given the recent tight battles between these two programs, and this will be reflected in a final score that covers the 10-point spread.

 

Take: No. 126 Virginia Tech (-10) over East Carolina

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles Complete Game Preview

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In the middle of a two-week stretch of less-than-stellar competition, Alabama coach Nick Saban is preaching “focus stamina” to his No. 3 Crimson Tide.

“To get better one thing at a time, one day at a time, one play at a time,” Saban said. “If each individual improves, then we have a chance to improve collectively as a team.”

After a 41-0 lightning-shortened drubbing of Florida Atlantic, Alabama will take the field against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The competition isn’t exactly getting steeper either. Southern Miss is 2-24 dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, with its only wins coming against UAB in 2013 and FCS Alcorn State on Saturday.

So for Alabama it’s another week to fine-tune some things, get younger players more reps and of course watch the quarterbacks again before Florida comes to Tuscaloosa next weekend to open SEC play.

But hey, last time these two teams played, this happened.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 13

Time: 5 p.m. CT

Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

TV: ESPN2

Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Southern Miss IMG Sports Network

Spread: Alabama by 47-48, according to OddsShark.com.

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1 Improvement Every SEC Team Needs

"Talkin' season," as South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said, is over. Now there are actual games to analyze.

For every team, though, that also means there's clear room for improvement in certain areas of the roster.

Alabama and South Carolina have each displayed some issues in pass defense, LSU's quarterbacks have progressed on the fly, and Ole Miss is still sort of figuring itself out offensively.

So what's the most pressing issue for every SEC team?

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Purdue Boilermakers Complete Game Preview

Just one week after ending a rivalry with a Big Ten opponent, Notre Dame says goodbye (for now) to another one Saturday night against Purdue.

For all the attention the end of the Michigan series got, the in-state rivalry with Purdue will end a battle for the Shillelagh Trophy, a game that's been played every year since 1946. While athletic directors Jack Swarbrick and Morgan Burke have a date set for 2020, Saturday night's Shamrock Series game is the end of a 68-year streak, the fourth-longest uninterrupted series in college football history. 

With 24 hours come and gone after the shutout victory over Michigan, the Irish need to turn their attention to Purdue. While the Boilermakers had a disappointing performance in their loss to Central Michigan, they've played Notre Dame tight the last two seasons and will be motivated in this team's final opportunity to beat the Irish. 

Here's all the info you need to get you ready for Saturday night's game. 

Date: Saturday, Sept. 13

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Place: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

TV: NBC

Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129

Spread: Notre Dame by 29.5, according to Odds Shark.

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Why Dabo Swinney Doesn't Have a Quarterback Controversy in Clemson

While some may think there is a quarterback controversy developing in Clemson, it’s actually the furthest thing from it.

Senior Cole Stoudt and true freshman Deshaun Watson have both received significant playing time through the first two games, but Scout.com indicates some are calling (subscription required) for Watson to be the starter over Stoudt.

Let’s look at the reasons why this is the least of the Tigers' worries.

 

Stoudt Hasn’t Done Anything That Warrants Less Playing Time

Having to replace a legend like Tajh Boyd, many analysts—such as College Football Talk's Kevin McGuire—weren't sold on this Stoudt-led offense, but Stoudt has clearly shown he is capable of leading this unit.

While he did miss a couple of passes against Georgia—and even a couple in Saturday’s matchup with South Carolina State—he has looked poised and confident as the leader of this offense. What else would you expect from a senior that has been in the system learning from one of the best?

In the second half of the Georgia game, field position and sometimes questionable play-calling kept the Clemson offense from getting anything going.

By the numbers—15-of-28, 130 yards—the senior didn’t have the best day, but he made some sharp throws in the first half against the Bulldogs.

Watson’s solid performance on Saturday has caused some people to forget that Stoudt threw for over 300 yards in that game. He missed a couple of passes early on but never looked overwhelmed in the pocket, and he didn’t make any major mistakes.

 

Watson Can Help This Team as a Backup

While I will argue that Stoudt should be the unquestioned starter of this team, I’m not going to overlook the fact that Watson can really help this team as the backup.

We saw against Georgia how putting Watson in early helped energize the offense.

He gives you an element that Stoudt just can’t, and that’s running the zone read. Stoudt has proven he is more mobile than he’s given credit for, but he will never be able to run the zone read as effectively as Watson does.

Running that play forces the defense to make adjustments and can also afford the running back more room up the middle when the defense goes after the quarterback.

Another thing to look at is the amount of playing time Watson receives in preparation for next season. The future looks very bright for this Tigers squad because of the recruiting successes under Dabo Swinney, so getting Watson prepared for next season’s challenges is also important.

Getting him reps against Georgia in the season opener—in one of college football’s toughest places to play—will pay off next season when he faces pressure situations.

Unlike Stoudt entering this season, Watson will have meaningful snaps under his belt when he takes over as the starter. Letting him play early against Florida State and South Carolina would only add to the experience for the young quarterback.

 

Coach Swinney Is Not Buying Into the So-Called Controversy

Swinney has made it clear that there is no quarterback controversy.

According to TigerNet.com’s David Hood, Swinney pointed that out to the media on Monday:

We're not going to have a controversy. The best player is going to play.

Cole Stoudt is our starter and that's just the way it is. If something changes, then it will change on the field through performance. It has not changed to this point. We knew coming in that at some point this would be all anyone wanted to talk about. All anyone ever wants to talk about is the backup quarterback. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are, that’s the story. Cole Stoudt has played well for us. We know what we’re looking at and we know what we’re asking him to do. He hasn’t played perfect, but he’s played very well as the starter. It’s frustrating when people don’t want to recognize that.

Swinney also noted that he wasn't happy with how the fans handled the quarterback rotation Saturday against South Carolina State. "We don't listen to the fans. I do think it's sad when you have fans boo a player. I think that's really sad," he said.

Also, TigerNet.com points out which quarterback Swinney feels gives them the best chance to win against Florida State:

 

Making Watson the Starter Wouldn’t Change Anything in the Win Column

Just suppose Clemson makes Watson the starter. Would that change anything in the win column?

The answer is no. Making Watson the starter wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the Georgia game, and it won’t change the outcome of the matchup in two weeks with the Seminoles.

Going into an environment like the Tigers will see in Tallahassee, Florida, the offense will have to play without mistakes. While Watson hasn’t showed any signs of making mistakes yet, we have to remember that he was sitting in a high school classroom at this time last year.

In my opinion, Watson will go on to break all of Boyd’s passing records and will have a great career at Clemson, but putting him out there as the starter now is out of the question.

By the end of the season, maybe Watson will show that he deserves the job, but for now, there’s no quarterback controversy in Clemson.

Fans have opinions—and rightfully so—but the coaches have been around these two quarterbacks since the spring. They know the strengths and weaknesses of both guys, so fans have to trust that Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris will do what is in the best interest of the team moving forward.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA vs. Texas Complete Game Preview

When: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas

TV: Fox

No. 12 UCLA vs. Texas has taken on a new look since the preseason, when pundits such as NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread ranked it one of the top nonconference games of the 2014 campaign.

UCLA invades the Lone Star State Saturday with a 2-0 record but has struggled in each of its first two wins.

Meanwhile, Texas limps into AT&T Stadium shorthanded and trying to avoid a sub-.500 start for the second time in as many seasons. The Longhorns were blasted by Brigham Young in Week 2, 41-7.

As Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News notes, the 34-point margin of defeat was the most any Texas team has lost at home by since 1997, when the Longhorns sustained a 66-3 thrashing. Coincidentally, that loss came against UCLA.

Seventeen years after the infamous “Rout 66,” both the Bruins and Longhorns aim to inject life back into their seasons before each embarks on conference play. This is the last tuneup UCLA gets in preparation for the Pac-12 Conference slate, while Texas begins its Big 12 schedule.

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UCLA vs. Texas Complete Game Preview

When: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET Where: AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas TV: Fox No. 12 UCLA vs. Texas has taken on a new look since the preseason, when pundits such as NFL...

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Penn State Sanctions Lifted: How Big Is the Recruiting Impact for Nittany Lions?

The NCAA announced it has restored the Penn State Nittany Lions' eligibility for postseason play immediately while awarding them all 85 scholarships for the 2015 season. Bleacher Report college football analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss what this means for the program as a whole. How much of an impact will this have on its future?

Watch the video and let us know what you think.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rating Each Top 25 College Football Team as Contender or Pretender

If anything is certain after two weeks of the 2014 college football season, it's this: There's a lot of uncertainty.

Defending national champion Florida State has gone from a near-unanimous No. 1 in the preseason to one of six teams garnering first-place votes in the latest Associated Press poll after just two weeks of play. And that's without losing.

The short sample we have to work with has muddied up the playoff and national title picture more than cleared it up. With a few exceptions, most of the top teams are still in contention for big things, but how real are those chances? Are they just based on statistical probability or because that team truly has what it takes to be the champs?

We take a look at every team in the latest AP Top 25 and rate each as a pretender or contender and do our best to explain why. Think we're right, or way off base? Add your thoughts in the comment section.

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LSU Tigers vs. UL-Monroe Warhawks Complete Game Preview

LSU's welcome-back party in Tiger Stadium went spectacularly against Sam Houston State on Saturday night. 

The Tigers destroyed the Bearkats 56-0. The game featured three touchdowns from receiver Travin Dural and debut scores from true freshmen Leonard Fournette, Darrel Williams, Brandon Harris and Malachi Dupre. 

The shutout of Sam Houston State was LSU's first since 2010. The opponent, UL-Monroe, just happens to be the Tigers' next foe. 

The Warhawks are 2-0 and have already beaten a power-five conference team this season in Wake Forest. But defeating one of the SEC's juggernauts is completely different than defeating a cellar dweller ACC team. 

LSU is looking to move to 3-0 before welcoming its first SEC opponent, Mississippi State, to Tiger Stadium. Here is a preview for this week's matchup. 

 

What You Need to Know

Time: 6:00 p.m. CT 

Place: Tiger Stadium; Baton Rouge, Louisiana

TV: ESPNU

Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network, Warhawk Radio Network 

Spread: LSU by 28, via Oddsshark.com 

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USC vs. Boston College Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET

WHERE: Alumni Stadium; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

TV: ABC

At stake in the Week 3 USC vs. Boston College matchup in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, is the No. 9-ranked Trojans’ first 3-0 start since 2011.

USC comes into this cross-country affair off an impressive defensive showing against No. 15 Stanford on the road. The Trojans held the Cardinal to just 10 points despite six Stanford red-zone opportunities.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian described the win as emotional on his Sunday conference call but said USC cannot allow the high of beating the two-time defending Pac-12 champions interfere from preparation for this week.

"Our opponent, whether it's a perceived rival or not, or nonconference or not. ...The way we prepare, the way we practice shouldn't change based on opponent," he said. 

This week, the opponent is Boston College, which USC beat at home last season 35-7. The Trojans must avoid the potential apathy with this kind of matchup if they are to return to Pac-12 Conference play undefeated. 

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USC vs. Boston College Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. ET WHERE: Alumni Stadium; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts TV: ABC At stake in the Week 3 USC vs. Boston College matchup in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, is the No...

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Time for Texas QB David Ash to Walk Away from Game After Repeated Concussions

What's happening to Texas quarterback David Ash is incredibly unfair. 

In his Monday press conference, head coach Charlie Strong announced what could already have been assumed: that Ash is out indefinitely as he continues to recover from a concussion. Ash already missed Texas' Week 2 loss to BYU. 

The news brought about another tough moment in the discussion over whether Ash and Texas need to move in separate directions. Regardless of whether Ash is deemed healthy enough to return at some point this season, the painful reality should be addressed now:

It is in Texas' best interest, as much as it is in Ash's best interest, to move on.

Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes is the starting quarterback, according to Strong. Little went right in the 41-7 rout on Saturday, but Swoopes showed progress from his limited play in 2013 with a 20-of-31 passing performance for 176 yards, a touchdown and an interception. 

The bigger issue regarding Texas' offense lies up front with the absences of center Dominic Espinosa (ankle) and tackles Kennedy Estelle (suspension) and Desmond Harrison (suspension). Per Strong, Estelle and Harrison are still facing disciplinary action. 

The Horns' offense could be a liability all year because of that attrition. Rushing Ash back won't fix that. Strong knows this as well as anyone. 

"You have to be concerned, any time you have that number of concussions," Strong said about Ash (via FoxSports.com). "We will never jeopardize a young man's health for the sake of this football team. That will always be the case."

If we're being honest, how many people realistically expected Ash to return for the Longhorns' Week 3 game against UCLA? His concussion, believed to be sustained on the hit featured below against North Texas in Week 1, already cost him one game. 

It looked like a common tackle, and Ash apparently didn't display symptoms until later, but that matters not. The hit former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy took to his shoulder in the 2010 BCS national championship, which knocked McCoy out for the game, wasn't exactly a decleater, either. 

A player just has to be hit the right way. 

This is not Ash's first concussion. He missed practically all of last season because of one he sustained against BYU in the second game of the year. Keep in mind that it was an injury so bad that doctors wouldn't let him stand on the sidelines during games out of concern for what bright lights and loud sounds may do to him. 

The sensible response is that Ash should retire from football. It was the sensible response last year, too. Brain injuries are a hot-button topic in football and the future of the sport may very well depend on how they are dealt with going forward. 

Ash's future may depend on it. 

As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated wrote, Ash needs to be to tough enough to walk away: 

Ash’s situation encapsulates the complexity of the concussion issue in football. The game teaches a lot of qualities that serve players well on and off the field. It teaches them to persevere through discomfort, to sacrifice for teammates, to mentally push through physical obstacles. Unfortunately, these same traits work against players when it comes to concussions. A player can see a bone sticking through his skin. He knows to stop trying to get up and play. He can’t see a bruise on his brain. 

But Ash wanted to come back this year after being cleared by doctors in the offseason. His teammates wanted him back. Ash is a competitor and doesn't want to let anyone down, even though he would be doing nothing of the sort. It's the same reason why Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty played through two cracks in his spine against SMU even though he clearly didn't have to. 

Injuries are part of this violent sport. Yet we unreasonably hope that they will never cost a player his career. As safe as the powers-that-be can make this game—and they should exhaust all efforts to make it as safe as possible—stepping out on to the field each and every time is an assumed gamble. 

If Ash wants to take that gamble, is it Texas' prerogative to take that away from him? David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest explains the predicament

However, is that fair if doctors say he's cleared to play (while also warning of the high probability of future head injuries) and Texas holds him out? I probably would, but is it Texas' responsibility to do what's best for Ash even if he won't do it himself? Or do his coaches and the school ultimately have to let him take a risk considering it's not an immediate life or death situation? 

For folks watching this situation from afar, the decision for both Ash and Texas seems obvious. When you're emotionally invested, however, viewpoints change. That's what makes the decision to move on so difficult. But some of life's hardest choices are the correct ones. 

If Ash won't remove himself from playing, assuming he'll be able to play at all, Strong has indicated he could do it for him. And that will be the most painful decision of all for everyone involved. 

That's not fair, either. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The 10 Most Unexpected Developments from the Start of College Football Season

It doesn't matter how much research we embark on or how many numbers we crunch: When studying for a college football season, there is no way to see everything coming.

We learn this again each September, when, after only a couple of weeks, certain teams and players come from nowhere to defy expectations, both good and bad, reminding us how little we know.

This year, it started right from the opening whistle, when the first major game of the season featured a Top 10 team getting pummeled on its home field. From there, things have continued to spiral in a direction that we all did not expect.

It's soothing to know that, in this regard, the College Football Playoff era will be a lot like that of the Bowl Championship Series: predictable in its unpredictability. The only thing we know is that we do not know anything.

Here are 10 vivid reminders of that from the start of 2014.

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Florida State Football: What You Should and Shouldn't Be Concerned About

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher likes the early bye weeks. Following a grueling three weeks of preseason camp and a 2-0 start with wins over Oklahoma State and The Citadel, the Seminoles get a break to rest up and prepare for the ACC opener on Sept. 20 at home against Clemson.

And FSU could also use an extra week off following injuries to three defensive tackles—Eddie Goldman, Nile Lawrence-Stample and Justin Shanks.

"With the couple of injuries we had, I'd say it's a pretty good thing (to have a bye) so we can try to get guys healthy if we can," Fisher said. "You get to regroup. Preseason is over. You're going into your conference schedule. And you've got a big-time opponent coming in."

After FSU's first two weeks, here are a few things that you should be concerned about and a few you shouldn't be concerned about.

 

Be Concerned

Injuries at Defensive Tackle

The Citadel uses a triple-option offense, so it's tough enough to figure out where the ball may be going. But the job is more challenging because offensive linemen cut block, hitting defensive linemen at the knees. And one Bulldogs linemen said they were trying to injure FSU players, according to Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation.

The Seminoles lost starting defensive tackles Eddie Goldman and Nile Lawrence-Stample as well as backup Justin Shanks to cut blocks in the game. Losing Goldman, Lawrence-Stample or Shanks for any length of time would be difficult for FSU. The prospect of being shorthanded on the defensive line when FSU faces Clemson is a concern.

Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said he took exception to the cut blocks. "I kind of took it personally," Edwards said. "I felt like they were playing a little dirty, taking cheap shots, doing a little high-low (blocks) and things like that. So it kind of got the rest of the guys a little angry and made us want to play more."

 

Punting

Cason Beatty has punted six times for a 36.5-yard average. His longest punt has been just 40 yards. And the hang time on Beatty's punts haven't been great.

Fisher said that Beatty had a good preseason camp and that he was more consistent than walk-on punter Jonathan Hernandez. But if Fisher wants to open up the punting competition, a bye week is a good time.

 

Missed Tackles

It's tough to prepare for The Citadel, a triple-option team that is very similar to what Georgia Tech runs on offense. Scout teams can't replicate it well in practice, so FSU's first- and second-team defenses are learning more through film study and adjusting on the fly during the game.

Still, FSU missed too many tackles on Saturday, and that led to The Citadel converting 11 of 17 third-down opportunities. Cornerback Nick Waisome (who started in place of the injured P.J. Williams) and safety Tyler Hunter were among the players who struggled to wrap up Bulldogs running backs.

Noles247's Chris Nee writes that FSU allowed nine plays of 10 or more rushing yards and 15 or more passing yards, and that seven of those came in the first or fourth quarter. It's understandable when those plays happen late in a blowout against reserves and walk-ons. But it can't happen against the first- and second-team defense.

 

Don't Worry

The Offense Should Have Scored More

FSU was 4-of-14 on third-down conversions vs. Oklahoma State. Fisher said that was because the offense wasn't efficient enough on first and second down. But that only underscores the point: FSU wasn't good enough on first, second and third down.

The Seminoles were more efficient on offense vs. The Citadel. They scored touchdowns on all four first-half possessions and on all six of Jameis Winston's possessions. And there was much more run-pass balance in Week 2.

FSU has scored 30 or more points in 17 straight games. If the defense cleans up the missed tackles, FSU will put points on the board and win games.

 

The OL Could Be More Physical

FSU was often pushed around by an Oklahoma State defensive front in the opener. The Seminoles managed just 106 yards on 31 carries. On the flip side, the blocking was good for Mario Pender's 11-yard touchdown run, and while Jameis Winston's scrambling, leaping 28-yard touchdown run was impressive, he received some good downfield blocks to get to the end zone.

FSU had little trouble against The Citadel's defensive front. While that's to be expected, even the second-team offensive line played well. FSU didn't allow a sack and paved the way for 210 rushing yards on 35 carries (an average of six yards per carry).

 

FSU Isn't Dominating Teams (Yet)

The 2014 Seminoles will be compared to the 2013 team. Last year, FSU won 12 of 14 games by 30 or more points. This year, FSU escaped in the opener and beat The Citadel 37-12.

Neither win purely from a score standpoint looks overly impressive. But the win over Oklahoma State was gritty, and a few players said it was a good early wake-up call. Against The Citadel, FSU scored on all of Winston's possessions and kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter.

Media and fans need to avoid comparing the national championship team to the 2014 team. FSU is replacing 10 starters and clearly going through some growing pains. But the Seminoles are 2-0 and nobody should be too concerned about style points.

But the missed tackles and punting? Yes, those are two areas of concern. And the injuries at defensive tackle could be minor or significant. It's just too soon to tell—but FSU needs the three back to ensure a strong defense.

 

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pat Haden Fined $25,000 for Actions During USC vs. Stanford

Pat Haden, the USC Athletics Director and a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, was fined $25,000 by the Pac-12 for running onto the field to confront an official.

The actions occurred during a 13-10 Trojans win over Stanford on Saturday. ESPN's Brett McMurphy initially reported the news Monday. The Pac-12 Conference then released an official report on the punishment, along with comments from commissioner Larry Scott:

"The conduct by USC Athletics Director Pat Haden was inappropriate," Scott said. "Such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated."

Here's a look at the confrontation, via SportsCenter:

Scott went on to mention Haden, 61, has issued an apology, which was passed along by Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. But that wasn't enough to avoid the punishment. 

College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock also issued a statement on the situation, per George Schroeder of USA Today:

One of the most notable components to Hancock's response was pointed out by Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:

In fact, following the disciplinary action, Dan Wolken of USA Today noted he believes the embattled should resign from the committee:

USC athletics director Pat Haden should resign from the College Football Playoff selection committee, and he should do it today. If he refuses, CFP executive director Bill Hancock should nudge him in that direction. And if Hancock doesn't want to go down that road, the 10 commissioners of the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences should intervene and demand a change.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see the public reaction to both the fine and Haden remaining on the committee. With this being the first season for the new system, it is already under fire just two weeks into the season thanks to Haden's on-field incident.

As for USC, the team is now 2-0 and dealing with even more controversy. While it is proving it can be a force in the Pac-12, it will have to battle through even more negative headlines to remain in the running.

The Trojans face off against Boston College (1-1, 0-1 ACC) Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.

 

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Kynon's Korner: Marcus Mariota's Possible Heir, Lebron James & the No. 1 Recruit

Class of 2016 quarterback Seth Green was in Eugene, Ore. for the Ducks impressive 46-27 win over Michigan State at Autzen Stadium. It was Green's second visit to Eugene as the 4-star attended Oregon's summer camp over the summer. This time he got to see Marcus Mariota at his best as the Heisman Trophy contender threw for 318 yards and two scores on 17-of-28 passing. 

Green told me, "Yes. Oregon made me feel very at home. I'm very close with Coach (Erik) Chinander and Coach (Scott) Frost. The win did help them with me. Oregon is my leader."

According to 247Sports Director of Recruiting, Steve Wiltfong, the St. Paul (Minn.) East Ridge signal caller (subscription required) almost committed on his visit

When asked if Green can see himself doing the same thing as Mariota? Green responded, "Yes, but I'd like to be better."

Green added he doesn't have any other visits set up at this time. Alabama, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota are showing heavy interest in the dual-threat passer.

LeBron James Attends Ohio State's Huge Recruiting Weekend

Ohio State hosted a plethora of top ranked prospects for the ACC-Big Ten primetime showdown. Top 100 players, Josh SweatDamien Harris, and Jacques Patrick were among biggest names in attendance. Of course it didn't hurt to have Akron native, LeBron James, on the sidelines to show recruits the mega presence of the Ohio State brand. Head coach Urban Meyer said James is always welcomed and you can bet recruits took notice. Last year, Travis Rudolph got a chance to meet James on his official visit to The Shoe. 

Unfortunately Ohio State fans, the Buckeyes loss combined with the Big Ten's reputation for not being able to win big games will give schools from the ACC and SEC more ammo on the recruiting trail. 

One name to keep an eye on is Sweat, the No. 1 rated player in the 247Sports Composite. The 6'5", 240-pound weakside defensive end has the Hokies firmly in his top five and Virginia Tech's dominate defensive effort in Columbus will help the Hokies' pursuit of the in-state prospect. 

 

Former NFL veteran and LSU defensive lineman, Chuck Wiley, feels Sweat has barely tapped his potential. Wiley coached Sweat at Nike Football’s “The Opening” in July. Sweat's style of play has drawn comparisons to Jadaveon Clowney per Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue

Wiley told me directly, “Sweat is physically gifted, but he is coachable too. He reminds of former LSU defensive lineman Barkevious Mingo. The Clowney comparisons are there and I see that. Both are elite pass rushers. Josh will need to fill out his upper body and increase lower leg drive to help in run support at the next level."

Florida State is also making a big push with Sweat and they’ve had success recruiting out of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) area in recent years landing notables Ronald DarbyAlec EberleEddie Goldman, and EJ Levenberry among others.

Wiley added, "Scheme wise I feel like he would do well at Florida State. He has the speed and lateral ability to drop into pass coverage. FSU likes those type of defensive ends. I can see Virginia Tech being a major factor too. When he was at The Opening he mentioned the chance to stay close to home, so his family could see him play. Watch out for Georgia, too. Defensive end Lorenzo Carter  signed there a year ago. Sweat and Carter have similar body types. The two of them coming off the edge could be scary in the SEC."

Perhaps most importantly, Virginia Tech's location could be a factor with the hard-hitting defender. His mom didn't accompany him to Columbus, Ohio. I wouldn't count out Ohio State yet in the race for Sweat especially with the selling power of James and reach of Ohio State's athletic department, but Virginia Tech certainly helped their chances over the weekend. 

4-star RB Soso Jamabo Takes Family to South Bend  

 

Plano (Texas) West running back Soso Jamabo was in South Bend with his parents for Notre Dame's 31-0 rout of Michigan. Recruiting insiders feel Jamabo could be committed by the time he returns home from his official visit. I caught up with Jamabo's trainer, David Underwood, to vet those rumors and get the latest on his recruitment.

"Soso was at Notre Dame this weekend with his parents. He likes the Irish, but I don't think he has a leader at this point," Underwood told Bleacher Report. "I know Arizona State is talking to him. UCLA is trying to get him for a visit. I think UCLA is next (visit) for him. He wants to go out west during the season. Baylor and Oregon are up there too." 

When I asked if he thinks Jamabo will commit early to Notre Dame? Underwood replied, "I don't think so. I know he wants to take his time with the process. It's not just about football. It's a life decision. He is comfortable heading out of state, so that won't be a problem. I could see him making a choice down the road. It could be on Signing Day or whenever he finds the right fit. His style of running would be great for the Irish or any other program." 

Underwood played running back at Michigan from 2001-2004. He has been helping Jamabo with the recruiting process since his sophomore year. 

Decision Time for 4-star Drew Richmond

On Tuesday, Sept. 9, Memphis (Tenn.) University School offensive lineman Drew Richmond will make his college decision. Richmond's finalists include Alabama, Ole Miss, Ohio State, and Tennessee. The mammoth tackle posted this message on Aug. 11:

Ole Miss received an unofficial visit from Richmond just five days after the tweet mentioned above which is a great sign for head coach Hugh Freeze. The Rebels recruit the Memphis area hard, but the Vols are working to keep him in state. I reached out to 247Sports director of recruiting, Barton Simmons, get his take on the situation. 

"Ole Miss is making a huge push for him right now. I think it was crucial for them to get him on campus with his parents in August," said Simmons. "He is a kid that's close to his family and Ole Miss is right down the road. Also, with the way they've been playing you have to like Ole Miss' chances heading into Tuesday." 

Even with the planned announcement Simmons noted that Richmond will likely take other visits. The Vols have done a sensational job recruiting under head coach Butch Jones. If they miss on the in-state prospect it could be considered a blow for the time being, but expect them to keep pressing. 

Simmons added, "Its hard because as effective as Butch Jones has been recruiting, Memphis is still six hours away from Knoxville. It would be a huge win for Ole Miss. They had a great recruiting cycle the year they got Robert Nkemdiche, but they still need the kind of response regularly to be able to land a kid with Alabama and Ohio State among a list of favorites. This has the opportunity to be a real statement get for Ole Miss."

Stay tuned as Richmond will make his verbal commitment on Tues., Sept. 9 at 10 AM CT. 

Peach State 'Backer Roquan Smith Talks 'Dawgs

4-star linebacker Roquan Smith took an unofficial visit to Athens on Aug. 30 for Georgia's 45-21 win over Clemson. Last Friday, the 'Dawgs returned the favor as UGA assistant coach John Lilly watched Smith lead his team to a win over Veterans (Ga.) 

"Coach Lilly is a cool guy. It was big having him at my game not only for me, but giving my teammates a chance to get looked at," Smith told Bleacher Report. "That was big for me." 

Smith said he definitely enjoyed his trip to the Classic City because of the way he was treated by fans and the staff. 

"The best part about the visit was just atmosphere. They made me feel at home and like I was a priority for their program," said Smith.

When asked if Georgia is recruiting him the hardest? Smith replied, "Yes they are. Trent (Thompson) wants me in Athens with him too."

The No. 4 outside 'backer in the 247Sports Composite said he will make an announcement after the season. 

5-star DL Daron Payne Takes Unofficial Visit to Alabama 

Birmingham (Ala.) Shades Valley defensive tackle Daron Payne has been busy over the last couple of weekends. Payne was at Auburn for the Tigers home opener on Aug. 30. This Saturday, the 5-star run-stuffer went down the road to Tuscaloosa for the Tide's contest against Florida Atlantic. 

"It was a nice visit. I got a chance to talk to Coach (Nick) Saban. He was cool, not that intimidating," joked Payne to Bleacher Report. "My parents grew up Alabama fans and they try to get me to go there, but I try not to listen to it. I have a great relationship with Coach (Mario) Cristobal. He treats me like a son." 

Payne enjoyed his trip to The Plains as well. He said the game was much closer, so he got a better chance to see what the defense was all about. The Yellowhammer State standout is planning to make his college announcement at the Under Armour All-America game in January. 

He told me, "I grew up an Auburn fan as a kid. However, I'm going to make my decision based on the depth chart and where I feel at home."

Mississippi State is also in the mix for Payne. His teammate Keith Mixon is committed to the Bulldogs. Payne said Hail State has done a great job recruiting him and they are one of his finalists along with Alabama and Auburn. 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Baylor Bears vs. Buffalo Bulls Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Baylor Bears have been a great bet over recent seasons, except from one angle. They are just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games as a road favorite.

Baylor is a big road favorite once again as it heads north for a rematch with the Buffalo Bulls on Friday night.

 

Point spread: Bears opened as 27-point favorites, but the number was climbing quickly, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

Why the Baylor Bears can cover the spread

The Bears are off to a 2-0 start, and they've covered two big spreads already. Baylor opened this season by shutting out SMU 45-0, holding the Mustangs to 67 total yards, covering the number at -31. The Bears then demolished Northwestern State 70-6, racking up 720 yards of offense, covering at -47. And they did it all without Heisman candidate quarterback Bryce Petty, who missed the game with a back injury.

In his place, sophomore Seth Russell threw for 438 yards and five touchdowns. Baylor beat Buffalo last September down in Waco 70-13, easily covering as four-touchdown favorites.

 

Why the Buffalo Bulls can cover the spread

The Bulls are off to a 1-1 straight up, 0-2 ATS start, and while they're coming off a loss to Army, at least they went down fighting. Buffalo trailed by 30 early in the fourth quarter but rallied to pull within one score with three minutes to go. The Bulls actually outgained the Black Knights 549-466 but couldn't quite overcome three turnovers or cover as three-point road dogs.

Buffalo returned seven starters on offense from a unit that averaged 30 points per game last year and has put up 38 and 39 points in two games, respectively, this season. So perhaps the Bulls have enough firepower to keep Friday's game close.

Finally, Buffalo is 3-1 ATS in its last four games as a home dog, according to the Odds Shark college football database.

 

Smart Pick

Baylor is probably going to win this game—it's just a matter of by how much. Even if Petty can't play (as of early this week he was listed as questionable), this game is a talent mismatch.

But if Buffalo can put up three touchdowns on a Bears defense that only returned four starters from last year, it would have a good chance to cover this large spread. And that isn't all that far-fetched.

So in this spot, the pick goes with the home dog, plus all those points.

 

Trends:

  • The total has gone OVER in 10 of Baylor's last 15 games on the road.
  • Buffalo is 8-1 SU in its last nine games at home.
  • Buffalo is 3-1 ATS in its last four games as a home underdog.
  • The UNDER is 10-2 in Buffalo’s last 12 games as a home underdog.

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates and get the free odds-tracker app.

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College Football Recruiting Offers of the Week

September 1 marked the beginning of a period when college coaches could reach out to prospective recruits who are entering their junior year of high school.

Labor Day came with a flurry of offers to some of the nation’s top 2016 prospects.

Four juniors who have earned a coveted 5-star rating were among the players receiving the most attention.

The nation’s top corner, Virginia standout Levonta Taylor, was a player in high demand. Georgia is his latest offer, but the Bulldogs joined Arizona State, Duke, Kentucky and USC in tendering the 5’10”, 170-pound Taylor, per Jamie Oakes of Wahoos247.

Alabama commitment Demetrius Robertson made headlines last weekend when he visited fellow SEC power Georgia for the Bulldogs’ season-opener. Upon returning from Athens, the nation’s top athlete was offered by Miami, Michigan and North Carolina.

Fellow Georgia native Isaac Nauta, the nation’s top tight end in the 2016 class, picked up offers from Pac-12 powers USC, Stanford and Arizona State. Virginia also joined the chase for the 6’5”, 240-pounder.

In Lyndell Wilson and Ben Davis, the state of Alabama is home to two of the nation’s premier outside linebacker prospects in the 2016 class. Davis had a busy week, as three SEC teams—Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee—offered the 6’4”, 225-pounder. Miami also offered Davis, who, as John Talty of AL.com notes, is the son of former Alabama standout Wayne Davis. 

While the battles for 2015 prospects are winding down, the race to land the nation's top prep juniors is just heating up. 

 

Ohio State, Alabama Raid Texas

Texas is annually one of the nation’s top breeding grounds for prep talent. While the Lone Star State has its share of in-state college powers, many of the nation’s top programs aggressively recruit in a territory as fertile as any in the country.

Recruiting powerhouses Alabama and Ohio State were among the heavyweights who were active last week in Texas in pursuing the state’s top juniors. 

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide offered a pair of 4-stars in defensive tackle Ed Oliver and receiver Dee Anderson. The 6’2”, 285-pound Oliver is ranked as the nation’s fourth-best defensive tackle and the No. 31 player overall in the 2016 class. Anderson, who is committed to LSU, has caught 12 passes for 242 yards and six touchdowns in his first two games this season, according to Sonny Shipp of Geaux247.

A trio of 4-star prospects—quarterback Tristen Wallace, wide receiver Devin Duvernay and defensive end Justin Madubuike—earned offers from Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

Duvernay, who also picked up an offer from Washington last week, is the nation’s fifth-best receiver and the No. 38 player overall in the 2016 class. Texas A&M and TCU also offered Madubuike, who recorded 69 tackles and five sacks as a sophomore. Wallace racked up 518 yards of total offense and seven total touchdowns in his debut as the quarterback of Dallas area powerhouse DeSoto High School.

Both schools have had success in Texas in recent years, and both schools are increasing their efforts there in the 2016 cycle.

 

Michigan State after 2016 QBs

With Connor Cook entering his junior season, Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State Spartans are searching for a signal-caller in their 2016 class who could potentially be the quarterback of the future in East Lansing. 

Dantonio and his staff offered a pair of the nation’s top signal-callers in the 2016 class in 4-star talents Jake Zembiec and Seth Green.

“I was really excited because that’s one of the places I really wanted to get an offer from. I went over there over the summer and did really well at their camp,” Zembiec told SpartanTailgate (subscription required). “I also got along with coach (Brad) Salem really well.”

The 6’3”, 220-pounder, who threw for 1,926 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore, is the top player in the state of New York for 2016.

Meanwhile, Green represents the top talent from Minnesota’s class of juniors, with the Spartans representing his latest offer, according to SpartanTailgate.

The 6’3”, 210-pounder holds offers from Oregon, Wisconsin, Louisville and Minnesota—among others.

Both players are familiar with the Spartans, as each were participants in Dantonio’s summer camp in June.

 

Ole Miss Trying to Start Fast in 2016

Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels are likely to sign a smaller class in 2015 due to a small number of upperclassmen on this year’s squad. However, he and his staff were one of the most aggressive schools to tender offers last week.

The Rebels offered top 2016 prospects in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas.

In addition to their tender to Davis, the Rebels also offered the top corner in Alabama in 4-star John Broussard.

Staying in the south, 4-star quarterback Jawon Pass—the nation’s second-best dual-threat passer—was offered by Freeze. The 6’5”, 225-pounder holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others. 

New Jersey natives Ahmir Mitchell and Jovani Haskins also received offers from Freeze. Mitchell is a 4-star athlete who could play receiver or safety at the next level, while Haskins is a 3-star tight end whose recruitment is in its infant stage.

Another tight end to net an offer from the Rebels is 4-star Ohio product Jake Hausmann. The 6’5”, 235-pounder is rated as the nation’s second-best tight end and the No. 71 player overall in the 2016 class.

Given their numbers situation in the current cycle, expect the Rebels to continue to burn up the recruiting trail in the 2016 class.

 

2016 Florida OL Piling Up Offers

Included in the Rebels’ offer spree was 3-star Florida offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux

However, Ole Miss was hardly alone in its interest in the 6’4”, 282-pounder.

Boston College, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Temple entered the race for Boudreaux, who is now up to 45 offers. 

As Andrew Kulha of Voice of The Hawkeyes notes (subscription required), there’s one school he hopes hops on board sooner than later. 

"I'm hoping they offer soon," Boudreaux said of Iowa. "Coach Wallace really likes me and loves my film, and I love that they put lots of offensive lineman in the NFL."

With the lengthy list of teams after him, Boudreaux seems like an early candidate to rise in the next batch of rankings released by sites such as 247Sports, Rivals, Scout and ESPN.

 

Best of the Rest

  • Another 2016 offensive lineman who was greeted with multiple offers last weekend is 4-star Virginia native Clark Yarbrough. Jamie Oakes of Wahoos247 reported that Arkansas, West Virginia and Arizona State are the latest offers for the 6’5”, 255-pound tackle.
  • Pennsylvania 4-star tight end Nasier Upshur picked up a pair of offers from ACC schools. FSU and Virginia are the latest offers for the 6’3”, 233-pound junior.
  • Tennessee native and 2016 4-star safety Joejuan Williams earned offers from Nebraska, Temple and Arkansas.
  • Staying in Florida, 2016 4-star corner Trayvon Mullen was offered by Florida State, Florida and Mississippi State last week.
  • 4-star athlete and Texas standout D’Eriq King earned offers from Rutgers and TCU.

  

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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