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USC vs. Stanford: How Trojans' Win Shakes Up CFB Rankings

No. 14 USC went on the road to take on in-state rival No. 13 Stanford on Saturday, and a 13-10 victory was the end result of an exciting, drama-filled, mishap-heavy, defensive battle. Rest assured, the CFB rankings will be shaken up in a big way following this clash of California juggernauts.

The Trojans move to 2-0 on the year, and earning a big road win in Stanford should weigh heavily with the voters—especially taking this statistic from SportsCenter into consideration:

Not only did USC prove it can win in a hostile environment, but it also proved it can win in multiple fashions. During the team's 52-13 victory against Fresno State in Week 1, it used offensive firepower to bulldoze its way to a win with 701 yards of offense.

On Saturday, against a stout Stanford defense, the Trojans only amassed 291 yards of offense, but their defense stepped up in a big way. Despite allowing 413 yards to Kevin Hogan and Co., the team gave up a total of just 10 points.

Bleacher Report tweeted the defense's biggest play of the game:

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports noted an impressive stat line and his take:

ESPN Stats & Info tweeted yet another telling statistic:

If USC's defense wasn't enough to admire, kicker Andre Heidari appeared to have ice water flowing through his veins, nailing a 53-yard field goal with just 2:30 remaining to give USC the lead for good.

This is a very well-rounded team.

The strength of victory should propel the Trojans up the standings prior to Week 3 should a top-12 team falter on Saturday evening. UCLA didn't look very impressive in Week 1, and if the Bruins don't fare better against Memphis, they could slide below USC—even with a win.

Assuming UCLA doesn't earn a decisive victory, the Trojans will at least move up to No. 11.

As for the Cardinal, it was a three-point home defeat. While the loss is a tough one to swallow, the team remained in contention until the bitter end against a strong opponent. Expect Stanford to slide in the standings—but just slightly. Due to the struggles of No. 19 Nebraska and No. 20 Kansas State on Saturday, there's no way Stanford drops out of the top 20.

On Saturday, the Trojans proved they are for real. With only three ranked teams remaining on their schedule—No. 17 Arizona State, No. 11 UCLA and No. 16 Notre Dame—it would not come as a surprise to see USC finish the season with an undefeated record. If that's the case, the team will warrant a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff.

USC's win over Stanford applies plenty of pressure on the nation's top teams. The Trojans proved they can compete with the FBS elite—now everyone else must prove the same.

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Florida Football: Why SEC Should Be Afraid of Gators' Defense

There'll be plenty of noise coming out of Gainesville this week surrounding Florida's offense, and with good reason.

The Gators' 65-0 win over Eastern Michigan marked the most points Florida has piled up since a 62-3 win over Florida International in November 2009, a validation of new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's hurry-up spread attack.

But Florida fans should be equally excited about what their defense showed Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Florida clipped the Eagles' wings, forced four turnovers and scored its first shutout since a 23-0 whitewashing of Jacksonville State on Nov. 17, 2012. A year ago, the Gators managed just 18 turnovers all season. 

The Gators consistently swarmed to the ball and didn't let Eastern Michigan get anything going, allowing just 121 yards of total offense, although Florida head coach Will Muschamp was noncommittal about it afterward with SEC Network's Heather Mitts.

"It's one game," he said. "We'll play better than this bunch. We need to improve." 

With seven starters back from a unit that allowed just 21.1 points per game a year ago (No. 15 nationally), the Gators' SEC foes should have reason for pause this fall.

Entering this season, the Gators sought a talented pass rusher to pair with junior "Buck" end Dante Fowler, and they might have found him in linebacker Neiron Ball.

Ball showed up in a big way Saturday, strip-sacking EMU quarterback Reginald Bell and forcing a fumble recovered by middle linebacker Antonio Marshall.

The Gators' defense features five senior starters, but its best player is a sophomore—cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III—a third-team Associated Press All-American as a freshman.

Hargreaves is an excellent, aggressive cover corner who anchors an already good secondary full of playmakers. Freshman corner Duke Dawson showed the unit's depth with a 37-yard interception return score late in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 51-0.

Florida's defense will get its first big test in two weeks when Alabama visits, although the Crimson Tide still haven't officially settled on a quarterback between Blake Sims and Jake Coker.

LSU and sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings visit Oct. 11, with Missouri and sophomore Maty Mauk following a week later.

The Gators must face off against Georgia's potent offense in their annual Jacksonville neutral-site game on Nov. 1,  and they host South Carolina on Nov. 15 before traveling to defending national champion Florida State on Nov. 29.

If this salty defense can continue its progress as the season unfolds, it'll truly be a unit to be reckoned with. If the offense can follow suit, that’s great news for Florida fans. The rest of the SEC? Not so much.

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Kansas State QB Jake Waters Proves He Has Skills to Beat Auburn

With a Thursday night matchup against the Auburn Tigers looming for Kansas State, Saturday’s contest against Iowa State had all the makings of the perfect trap game. 

And for most of the game, it looked as though the Cyclones, coming off a deflating loss to North Dakota State last week, would upend the Wildcats, who are projected as one of the front-runners in the Big 12. 

Instead, a stellar final drive by quarterback Jake Waters—who had a career day in his home state of Iowa—that capped off a 15-point comeback and set the stage for Waters to lead the Wildcats to a possible upset over the Tigers.

Waters, who's been under a mountain of pressure in the Little Apple since his backup last year, Daniel Sams, transferred to McNeese State, was the unquestioned superstar on Saturday. 

K-State's gunslinger had arguably the best game of his career against the Cyclones, accounting for two of the team's four touchdowns, both on the ground, and racking up 377 total yards. He also had a career rushing day, picking up 138 yards on mostly designed quarterback draws. 

It was Waters' game-winning touchdown run with 90 seconds left in the game that capped off a 32-28 win for the Wildcats. 

Waters looked like Collin Klein—who's now a graduate assistant with the Wildcats—out there in Ames. And that proves that Waters has what it takes to lead K-State to a win in what Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer called college football's "Game of 2014"—a September 18 tilt with Auburn. 

Last season, when the Wildcats started 0-3 in Big 12 play and just 2-5 overall, there was probably the biggest quarterback controversy in America happening in Manhattan. Waters and Sams couldn't separate from one another, and Snyder gave both guys ample opportunity throughout the course of the season. 

But the Wildcats finished 2014 on a 6-1 run—the only loss coming to the Oklahoma Sooners. During that stretch, Waters finally separated himself from Sams. 

By the time the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl rolled around, Waters was in full stride. The Wildcats beat the Michigan Wolverines in that game thanks largely in part to Waters' 271 yards and three touchdowns through the air. 

Because Waters had all but secured the starting job for the Wildcats, Sams tried a position change to wide receiver this spring. Sams failed to make any significant noise there, so he decided to transfer to FCS McNeese State, the team that just gave Nebraska a run for its money. 

But it's clear that the Wildcats got the better end of that deal, as Sams is still playing second fiddle behind McNeese State starting quarterback Tyler Bolfing. 

Meanwhile, Waters has a bowl win as a starter under his belt and is finding his stride at the FBS, Big 12 level. 

Now he'll truly be put to the test, as the Wildcats have just under two weeks before a Thursday night prime-time matchup against Auburn. 

Kevin Haskin of The Topeka Capital-Journal wrote after Saturday's win over Iowa State how Waters is becoming a bona fide leader for the Wildcats. 

“He was ready to compete,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said, according to Haskin. “There was no doubt in my mind, nor anyone else’s.”

Auburn's defense is menacing, as always. But against Arkansas in Week 1, Razorbacks gunslinger Brandon Allen found at least a small bit of success against the Tigers, throwing for two scores and completing 18 of his 31 passes. 

Even going back to last year's season, the teams that gave Auburn the most trouble had good quarterback play. Against Florida State, Alabama, Missouri, Georgia and Texas A&M, the Tigers were 4-1 but also gave up an average of 337 yards passing, with the Aggies and Bulldogs surpassing the 400-yard mark through the air. 

Auburn's weakness is its secondary, and K-State's strength is slowly but surely becoming Waters. 

On Saturday against Iowa State, in a game where seemingly everything went wrong for the Wildcats, Waters did most everything right. More importantly, he proved that he can carry the load for a Big 12 title contender and that he's capable of beating the defending SEC champions. 

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USC vs. Stanford: Score and Twitter Reaction

A late field goal and superb defensive play lifted the No. 14 USC Trojans over the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal Saturday, 13-10, to mercifully put an end to a messy contest.

Stanford had won five of its last seven encounters with USC, but a new Trojans era under the guidance of Steve Sarkisian got underway with the upset in hostile territory.

Trojans star running back Javorius Allen was the only consistent performer on the day, carrying the ball 23 times for 154 yards. Quarterback Cody Kessler finished with just 135 yards passing. Stanford's Kevin Hogan threw for 285 yards, but he fumbled away his team's chance to win it at the very end.

USC's defense stepped up in a major way, too, holding the Cardinal to 10 points despite their seven trips inside the Trojans' 35-yard line.

Even with all of the prestige of the two programs involved, Stanford and USC combined for 18 flags that totaled 155 yards, and the plans executed by the coaches were timid at best. USA Today's Paul Myerberg summed up the sloppy contest well:

The first conference game of the 2014 season between top-15 teams had plenty at stake, not to mention it featured the Pac-12's best cross-division rivalry.

Interestingly enough, the rivalry heated up this past offseason when USC hired Sarkisian away from Washington—a team that lost to the Cardinal last year, which spawned a public spat when the now-Trojans coach accused David Shaw's players of faking injury to slow his offense. Of course, it's an issue both men claim is in the past.

"It was over," Shaw said, via ESPN.com. "It was in the past. He and I sat together at lunch and breakfast a couple times and talked about a bunch of other things. Our wives are getting to become good friends; they know each other well so there's no animosity whatsoever."

As much as fans surely wanted to see a revival of the Jim Harbaugh-Pete Carroll drama from years past, they instead got an ugly affair in which the coaches caused more harm than good at times.

Shaw's team throughout most of the contest looked nothing like his rosters that won the Pac-12 title in each of the past two seasons. The early errors over the course of the first half were bountiful. A wealth of penalties killed the opening drive, which was capped off by a blocked field goal attempt.

The list continued throughout the half. Only nine players on the field on special teams. Too many in the huddle on a third down in the red zone. Then a delay of game on the very next play. As CBSSports.com's Jerry Hinnen points out, there were even questionable instances of conservative decisions:

But the biggest offender of all, bar none, in the eyes of observers, was Shaw's obsession with the Wildcat attack in the first half as a way to get senior wideout Ty Montgomery the ball as a rusher.

By halftime, Montgomery—who finished with nine catches for 83 yards to lead the team but had negative rushing yards—had rushed three times for minus-13 yards. Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer and reporter David Lombardi were miffed at Shaw's dedication to the approach:

It was an interesting strategy, to say the least, with Hogan—who entered with a 10-1 mark against Associated Press Top 25 teams—playing so well.

Despite the wealth of issues for Shaw's team, the Cardinal still entered the locker room at the half with a three-point advantage. Sarkisian's fabled offense was 5-of-7 on third downs, but Kessler mustered just 37 passing yards while Stanford controlled the clock. 

This is where the spotlight switches to Sarkisian for a tad. He simply refused to open up the playbook for his talented crop of players. Kessler failed to average even four yards per attempt in the first half en route to finishing with his mediocre line.

On a certain level, the lack of creativity makes sense against a Shaw-led defense on the road. But on another, USC doesn't reel in so many elite recruiting classes to run an attack similar to Lane Kiffin's, right? Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News certainly didn't think so:

No matter, though, as Shaw's squad continued its error-laden ways into the third frame. Stanford's first drive resulted in a missed field goal, the second saw the team get stuffed by Leonard Williams and the Trojans defense with one yard to go on fourth down.

It didn't exactly change the course of the game as it would any normal contest.

Not to be outdone, Sarkisian's side tied the game at 10 after the goal-line stand, but on the field goal, the Trojans were hit with a penalty. Sarkisian himself then got hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty for complaining. At the tail end of the subsequent return by Montgomery, the Trojans hit him out of bounds, drawing another flag and an ejection. 

That ejection comically drew Trojans' athletic director Pat Haden out of his press box and to the field so he could argue with officials. Take it away, Lindsey Thiry of the Los Angeles Times:

So hey, maybe the coaches weren't fibbing about their indifference toward one another—Stanford fumbled the ball away on the very next play.

Confusing? Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times has it in 140 characters or less:

Finally, when a team decided to play disciplined football and win the thing—Hogan hit a wide-open receiver for a touchdown with about eight minutes left—the Cardinal were called for a chop block.

So it went.

The hero for such a contest, as anyone could have predicted, wound up being a kicker. USC's Andre Heidari connected on a 53-yard attempt with under three minutes left to take the game to its final score, before Hogan was hit from behind and fumbled away Stanford's last chance.

The good news for Stanford is that the team gets to remain at The Farm for another week and recuperate, as a date with Army is on the schedule next before a conference matchup against Washington and then a trip to South Bend to encounter Notre Dame.

USC surely catapults into the Top 10 and announces itself as a serious contender for the inaugural playoff. The Trojans will travel to Boston College to encounter an Eagles team coming off a loss to Pittsburgh, which may prove a tougher test than most realize if the Trojans experience a hangover or overlook their opponent with major conference tests on the horizon.

 

Note: All stats and info courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.

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USC's J.R. Tavai Seals Win over Stanford After Strip-Sack of Kevin Hogan

The USC Trojans were able to beat the Stanford Cardinal for the second straight season on Saturday, and senior linebacker J.R. Tavai came up with the game-sealing play.

With Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal offense driving down the field and getting close to the end zone, Tavai got the strip-sack on the Stanford quarterback. The Trojans recovered and were able to come away with the huge 13-10 victory.

Now 2-0, the Trojans will try to remain undefeated next week against Boston College.

[Vine]

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Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State: Live Score and Highlights

Virginia Tech 7, Ohio State 0 — Early 1st quarter

Game action is now underway between No. 8 Ohio State (1-0) and Virginia Tech (1-0). ESPN is televising the matchup nationally from Columbus.

We are watching the game, providing live analysis as the action unfolds:

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USC's Pat Haden Runs onto Field, Complains to Referees About Sark Penalty

USC Trojans athletic director Pat Haden came down from the press box and ran onto the field to confront the referees during Saturday's game against the Stanford Cardinal.

As you can see in the Vine above, Haden didn't look very happy. Here's a GIF of the interaction.

Rotoworld's Josh Norris tweeted that Haden told ESPN he came down because head coach Steve Sarkisian texted him to, so it was likely about the 15-yard penalty he received after complaining to the officials.

Here's the full conversation Haden had with ESPN's Heather Cox on the sideline, according to Lindsey Thiry from the Los Angeles Times:

I got a text just to come down because Sark wanted to talk to me, he felt the penalty was unfair and the referee explained he had warned him, so that's why he got the penalty. It's been a really frustrating quarter with the penalties, believe me.

Most athletic directors and coaches are never happy with the explanations they get, but we got an answer and we have to move on and have a good fourth quarter.

Several people took to Twitter to joke about the interaction.

As Eric Sondheimer from the Los Angeles Times points out, Haden is on the Final Four selection committee this season.

[Instagram]

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Lamar vs. Texas A&M: Live Score and Highlights

Texas A&M 0, Lamar 0—WEATHER DELAY PRIOR TO KICKOFF

After a surprisingly dominant win over South Caroling last week, Texas A&M, led by phenom quarterback Kenny Hill, looks to keep the momentum going this week against FCS opponent Lamar.

The Aggies opened quite a few eyes to "life after Manziel," but Hill will be under the microscope of the nation this week as he looks to confirm everyone's suspicions: that he's the next great Aggie.

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Citadel vs. Florida State: Live Score and Highlights

Florida State 14, The Citadel 0 -- 13:20 2nd Quarter

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Michigan vs. Notre Dame: Live Score and Highlights

ND 7, UM (Early 2nd)

Scoring/action update: Cam McDaniel's one-yard touchdown gives the Irish the lead.

Michigan and Notre Dame are giving it one final go...for now. 

It's a somewhat sad day in college football. 

"Well, you know there's going to be some emotion, but you can't let that get in the way of good execution..." Irish coach Brian Kelly said, via NBC sideline report. 

Entering tonight, Notre Dame holds the best winning percentage in FBS at 73.32, just five-hundredths better than the Wolverines' 73.27.

Game coverage is live on NBC. 

Keep your browser locked to this live blog for the latest updates, analysis, commentary and more. And don't forget, game grades for each side will be available on Bleacher Report after the the pair of heavyweights settle the score. 

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

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East Carolina vs. South Carolina: Live Score and Highlights

East Carolina 13, South Carolina 10—Mid-2nd Quarter

We are underway in Columbia as South Carolina receives the opening kickoff.  

You can watch live on ESPNU, but make sure to stay with us here at Bleacher Report for news, notes and analysis of tonight's game between South Carolina and East Carolina.

You can find the box score here

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USC's Hayes Pullard Gets Ejected for Targeting vs. Stanford

The USC Trojans lost one of their captains on Saturday against the Stanford Cardinal due to a targeting penalty on a kickoff return.

During the third quarter, USC's Hayes Pullard led with his helmet while hitting Stanford's Ty Montgomery as he ran out of bounds. After review, the penalty stood and Pullard had to leave the game.

[Vine, Twitter]

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San Jose State vs. Auburn: Live Score and Highlights

Auburn 35 San Jose State 7 – Late 2nd Quarter

The Auburn Tigers and San Jose State Spartans are underway here at Jordan-Hare. We’ll be following along with the action all night long.

Keep it here for all the analysis, news and updates regarding this one

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Buckeyes Football Fans Grill Up Ohio-Shaped Burgers at Tailgate

Ohio State Buckeyes football fans are getting ready for Saturday night's game against the Virginia Tech Hokies with some tailgating outside of the stadium.

Some fans brought these Ohio-shaped patties to make some burgers at tailgate, and they look pretty good.

[Instagram, h/t College Spun]

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Michigan State vs. Oregon: Live Score and Highlights

Michigan State 24, Oregon 18 ; Start of 3rd Quarter

Perhaps the biggest game of the young college football season takes place Saturday night in Eugene, Oregon, as the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans take on the No. 3 Oregon Ducks. 

The game will take place at 6:30 p.m. ET. It can be seen on Fox. 

Per Odds Shark, Oregon is a 13.5-point favorite. 

A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com. 

 

Bleacher Report appreciates you tuning in with us. Stay here for scoring updates, social media, analysis and much more! 

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Ameer Abdullah Saves Nebraska from Disaster, Further Boosts Heisman Stock

It could have ended badly for Nebraska. Instead, Ameer Abdullah and his legs decided otherwise.

With 20 seconds left in the game, Nebraska was tied 24-24 with McNeese State. Overtime seemed likely until quarterback Tommy Armstrong connected with Abdullah and the rest became history.

Abdullah managed to break five tackles on his 58-yard touchdown sprint, securing a victory for the Huskers when it mattered most.

"He is a big-time player," McNeese State head coach Matt Viator said. "You don’t come back as a leading rusher in the nation unless you can make plays. Give him credit, he made a great play.”

In that moment, Abdullah not only made his case as a Heisman candidate greater, but he also saved Nebraska from a major disaster.

"Ameer put the team on his back and won the game," head coach Bo Pelini said. "I mean, with the kickoff return, too. Thank God for Ameer today."

While it's only the second week of college football, Abdullah is well on his way to breaking records. His 54 rushing yards against McNeese State increased his career rushing total to 3,263 rushing yards, which is only 66 yards from landing him in the top five on the Nebraska career-rushing list.

It's beyond just his performance, though. Abdullah is proving week after week that he's the leader of this Nebraska team.

"First thing he did was address the team in the locker room," Pelini said. "He knows. He's been around long enough and he gets it. That's why he's a tremendous leader. Not just a tremendous player, but a tremendous leader."

It's that attitude that truly carries onto the field. When asked what was going through his head when he got the ball on that touchdown play, Abdullah had a simple answer. "I wanted to score."

And that's exactly what he did. Teammate Josh Mitchell understands. "There's a reason why he is one of the best players in the nation. It's just Ameer being Ameer," he said.

Yet, Abdullah is still climbing his way up the list of other running backs across the country. Those who often get mentioned before him as potential Heisman candidates include Alabama's T.J. Yeldon, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley.

Armstrong credits Abdullah as a playmaker. Pelini wishes he could put the ball in his hands every time if he could. As for Abdullah, his goal is simple and that is to win.

In the process of winning, he managed to save Nebraska's 2014 season from disaster, while also making his Heisman stock rise.

As Mitchell said, that's just Ameer being Ameer.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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USC Kick Returner Nelson Agholor Has No Idea Where He's Going

USC Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor is set to have a big junior season, but this was one of those rare players where he simply messed up.

During a kick return against the Stanford Cardinal, Agholor ended up running into two consecutive teammates before going down.

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After Week 2, QB Blake Sims Is the Answer for Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide took care of business during the second week of the season by defeating the Florida Atlantic Owls 41-0. Both Jacob Coker and Blake Sims saw significant time in this matchup.

Bleacher Report college football analyst Michael Felder discusses both quarterbacks' performances. Who do you think is the better QB?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Oklahoma Gives Walk-on LB Caleb Gastelum Scholarship After Career Performance

Oklahoma linebacker Caleb Gastelum, a walk-on senior, was already having the best day of his career at Tulsa, shirking his normal role as a special-teamer to make eight tackles, record a sack and intercept a pass in a 52-7 win. But what happened during the game did not compare with what happened after it.

According to the Sooners' official Twitter account, head coach Bob Stoops awarded Gastelum with both a game ball and, more importantly, a scholarship after the team's dominant win:

Gastelum entered the year with just five career tackles, both coming in 2013. His three tackles against Louisiana Tech last week tied his single-game career high, but that number was doubled and almost tripled during his extended action Saturday.

Here's a look at his interception, which, admittedly, came in the final minute of the contest, when the outcome was well beyond dispute. But that didn't appear to dampen the experience in the slightest:

Gastelum had never intercepted a pass before that one. The sack he recorded against Tulsa was also the first of his career.

It's a heartwarming story to see this happen for Gastelum—even as late as his senior year—because he didn't even play real high school football. He was home-schooled as a teenager and played in the North Oklahoma Association of Homeschools, per Eric Bailey of Tulsa World.

"Do what your heart desires," he said in August, a message to all home-schooled football players. "If you have the desire to play at a big level, believe in that and strive to make the steps to get there."

Unless Oklahoma's linebacker depth gets ravaged at some point this season, it's unlikely Gastelum will ever see the field enough on defense to repeat Saturday's stat line. But he will remain a key special teams player on a team with national title aspirations, and starting this weekend, he will do so as a scholarship athlete.

And that is pretty darn cool.

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Brandon Scherff Injury: Updates on Iowa Star's Leg and Return

The Iowa Hawkeyes' sturdy offensive line took a blow in Week 2 against Ball State.

Star left tackle Brandon Scherff reportedly suffered a leg injury during the second quarter of his team's contest against the Cardinals.

Marc Morehouse of The Cedar Rapids Gazette first reported the news:

Morehouse had more after the game:

The 320-pound senior will be hoping for a quick recovery, as he could be a top NFL draft pick in 2015. However, he does have plenty of excellent game tape to show scouts after a junior season that saw him make the All-Big Ten first team, per ESPN.com.

Morehouse noted that the Hawkeyes were forced to use an intriguing replacement for Scherff:

However, all may not be lost, as Scherff was apparently able to make it to the locker room under his own power, per Morehouse:

Scherff's injury could expose the lack of depth at offensive line, and quarterback Jake Rudock will certainly miss the comfort and security of a top-tier tackle protecting his blindside. The Hawkeyes offense looked solid in a 31-23 win over the Northern Iowa Panthers in Week 1, but a long-term injury to Scherff could diminish the team's ability to consistently move the ball both through the air and on the ground.

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