Feed aggregator

Stanford vs. Notre Dame: Game Grades, Analysis for the Fighting Irish

In yet another thriller against Stanford, Notre Dame used a late field goal and very late touchdown to come from behind and remain undefeated.

The Irish are now squarely in the College Football Playoff conversation, but there's still plenty to work on moving forward. We'll break it all down in our Notre Dame game grades, following a 17-14 Irish victory over Stanford.

Box score via NCAA.com.

 

  

Pass Offense

After a first half that saw Everett Golson turn the ball over twice—once via an interception—we weren't quite sure how things would turn out. Despite having 101 passing yards and a touchdown through the air in the first half, the Irish were still locked in a 7-7 tie.

The second half, particularly late, is what turned things around. Golson finished 20-of-43 passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns—the last one coming with a minute left to give the Irish the game.

Oh, yeah. It was on fourth down, too.

Chris Brown and Corey Robinson each had four receptions for 60 and 46 yards, respectively.

 

Run Offense

This was probably the most surprising aspect for Notre Dame. We know the Irish are capable of running the football, but against Stanford, we didn't expect 129 yards on 32 attempts.

The Irish averaged over six yards per carry in the first half and finished with an average of four yards per carry against a Cardinal defense that has traditionally been very good against the run.

 

Pass Defense

The Fighting Irish pass defense had a lot going its way today. The blustery, cold and rainy conditions limited passing, and receivers were hard-pressed to catch the football on both sides.

The Irish secondary limited Kevin Hogan to 18-of-36 passing for 158 yards, no touchdowns and two picks.  

The biggest play came on the last play of the game, however, as the pass rush forced Hogan to ground the ball, resulting in a 10-second run-off with only six seconds showing on the clock. That's worth some extra credit, don't you think?

 

Run Defense

Stanford's only touchdowns on the day came on the ground, and it was Hogan who scrambled for one of them. Beyond that, the Irish limited Stanford to just 63 yards on 31 attempts.

Remound Wright led all Cardinal rushers with just 29 yards, 11 of which came on his touchdown run.

It doesn't matter who you are, that's a solid day of defending the run.

 

Special Teams

Here's the ugly part of the Irish's performance today. The Irish were 1-of-3 on field goals, and both of the misses were due to bad holds (after pretty decent snaps, too).

Sure, the weather affected a lot, and we can't pin much, or really any, of this on kicker Kyle Brindza, but given the pitiful performance, the Irish are lucky to escape with a passing D+ here.

 

Coaching

Brian Kelly continues to do anything and everything to find ways to win football games.

Just when it looked dire for the Irish, Kelly put the game in the hands of his junior quarterback and let him loft up a pass on 4th-and-long into the end zone. Result? Notre Dame wins.

Kelly and his staff developed the perfect game plan to defeat a very good Stanford club, and despite some miscues both on offense and special teams, Kelly's squad was prepared well enough to pull out the win.

 

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

Follow Bleacher Report's National College Football Featured Columnist David Luther on Twitter!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Wake Forest vs. Florida State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Seminoles

Another week, another win for the No. 1 Florida State football team. But just as it has been all season, it wasn't always easy for the reigning national champions.

FSU’s 43-3 triumph over Wake Forest Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee, Florida, was another example of a talented team unable to string together a completely dominant performance in all phases—offense, defense and special teams—at the same time.

A week ago in the come-from-behind victory at North Carolina State, the offense set the tone, while the defense struggled. This week against the Demon Deacons (2-4, 0-2 ACC), the offense struggled, while the defense did its job. Sooner or later, FSU (5-0, 3-0) will need to put together a complete game if it wants to remain in the College Football Playoff picture.

But, hey, the Seminoles are still undefeated for a reason; they make plays when they have to and have done a terrific job of dealing with myriad injury issues so far this season—a trend that continued against the Demon Deacons.

As for this week’s grades, I thought the FSU defense did a great job of bouncing back from some subpar tackling in the opening quarter. Wake Forest is so bad offensively that the only knock on the ‘Noles defense would have been its inability to bring ball-carriers to the turf, but Florida State fixed that early.

FSU also survived without starting linebacker Terrance Smith and starting defensive tackle Derrick Mitchell Jr.

Offensively, FSU was out of sync all day in the passing game, as Jameis Winston wasn’t his typical super-accurate self. It didn't help that star Rashad Greene left the game in the first half with concussion-like symptoms. Luckily for the ‘Noles, though, rookie receivers Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane showed tremendous progress, and that is reflected in the grades as listed below.

 

Pass Offense

Winston threw for 297 yards in this contest, so his statistics won’t give anyone pause when glancing at the box score, but he was off all game.

Wake Forest deserves a ton of credit for playing good defense, but Winston missed throws that he almost always makes. Even before Greene left the game for good in the opening half, Winston’s typically accurate passes were just a hair off. He finished 23-of-39.

It also didn’t help that starting center Austin Barron broke his hand during the game. His replacement, Ryan Hoefeld, snapped the ball high to Winston several times. The timing was thrown off on those snaps, and the passing game felt the effects.

True freshmen Lane and Rudolph had impressive showings in the contest, and the "B-minus" grade takes into account the importance of their successful, increased roles without Greene in the lineup.


Run Offense

FSU racked up 171 yards on the ground—its second-most of the season—but 56 of those came in garbage time on a long Mario Pender run.

I gave Florida State a “B” for the running game because it was average against Wake Forest—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a team that was desperate in the first few weeks of the season to have anything positive happen in the ground frame.

But FSU has to keep improving. Take away the 56-yard run, and the Seminoles’ yards-per-carry average dips from 4.5 to 3.5 for the game. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher wants better production than that.

 

Pass Defense

The Seminoles were dominant defending the pass, allowing Wake Forest to throw for just 86 yards and a ridiculously low 3.9 yards per completion. FSU also hauled in its second interception of the season on P.J. Williams’ takeaway.

What else can you say except that deserves an “A-plus” grade?


Run Defense

If the pass defense gets an “A-plus,” then the run defense has to get an equally impressive grade.

FSU held Wake Forest to just one yard per carry and 40 total rushing yards in the victory. Equally impressive is the fact that throughout much of the game, three true freshmen were playing on the defensive line (Lorenzo Featherston, Demarcus Christmas and Derrick Nnadi) and another (Jacob Pugh) was rushing the passer.

Not much analysis is needed for that type of performance.


Special Teams

FSU gets an “A-plus” for good reason: The best kicker in the country looked like the best kicker in the country.

Roberto Aguayo drained five field goals as he continues to be automatic each and every game.

 

Coaching

Fisher is the master of halftime adjustments, and Saturday was no different. FSU struggled in the first half despite taking a lead into the break but came out in the second half and ran away with the victory.

 

Brandon Mellor is a Florida State writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of Seminoles.com. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow @BrandonMellor on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama vs. Ole Miss: Score and Twitter Reaction

A furious second-half rally keyed by quarterback Bo Wallace helped No. 11 Ole Miss pull off a stunning, 23-17 upset over the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday in a hard-fought SEC showdown.

Ole Miss Football brought up a pertinent fact in the immediate aftermath:

Stuart Scott of ESPN noted how long it has been since the Rebels last got off to a 5-0 start:

After an excessive celebration penalty threatened to harm the Rebels after they had just tied the game at 17, Alabama kick returner Christion Jones fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving it right back to the home team.

An ill-advised gadget play on 2nd-and-goal was redeemed by Wallace's eventual game-winning 10-yard touchdown toss to running back Jaylen Walton, who slipped past safety Landon Collins to haul it in.

Wallace's will matched the words he spoke before the game, per ESPN.com's Greg Ostendorf:

Honestly, I'm just going into it like any other week. I've been here for two years. I've played against top-10 teams -- never with the opportunity that we have right now and being undefeated -- but I can't think about that too much, especially being the quarterback. I have to be the one that's even-keeled the whole time and when guys get riled up, settle them down.

Former Alabama QB Joe Namath summarized the day well for his alma mater:

Fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims did what he could to lead a late Crimson Tide comeback attempt. A desperate heave into double coverage was picked off by Rebels defensive back Senquez Golson with less than one minute remaining.

Alabama linebacker Cyrus Jones appeared to grab the facemask of Rebels ball-carrier I'Tavius Mathers before punching the ball out, picking it up and racing down the sidelines to stretch Alabama's lead to 14-3 just before halftime. The referees didn't catch the apparent penalty, much to the chagrin of the Ole Miss fans at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

NFL.com's Chase Goodbread weighed in on the play that gave the visitors a big edge:

The Tide looked flat early on and trailed 3-0 after the first quarter. John Middlekauff of Comcast SportsNet used an interesting political analogy to describe offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's game plan:

Sims helped the Tide get rolling in bold fashion on a 12-play, 68-yard drive, capping it off with a one-yard touchdown scamper on a nice play fake.

It appeared Sims and Co. would go on cruise control when Alabama possessed the ball for more than seven minutes to start the second half. However, two ill-advised forays on the perimeter caused Sims to lose yards on the final first and third downs of the drive, leading to a missed field-goal attempt.

That opened up a window for the hosts to get back into it, which the Rebels took advantage of. Wallace hit Evan Engram on a 50-yard strike before finding Laquon Treadwell for a 14-yard TD to cut the lead to 14-10.

ESPN's College GameDay noted how significant the trip to paydirt was, as it had to be quite the morale boost for the home underdogs:

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah had high praise for Treadwell after the sophomore shook off multiple tackles before arriving in the end zone:

Sims and Alabama quickly responded. With coverage bracketed over to star wideout Amari Cooper, O.J. Howard broke free deep on the near side of the field, where Sims hit him in stride for a gain of 53 yards.

But another negative run to the outside, this time by Derrick Henry, put Alabama in a tough third-down situation. The play was compounded by an injury to center Ryan Kelly. A false start followed, but a play-it-safe carry by Henry led to Adam Griffith converting a 44-yard field goal.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports weighed in on how the Tide were making mistakes at inopportune times:

A 17-10 lead entering the fourth quarter—not to mention a big stop to deny Ole Miss a chance to answer Alabama's field goal—was likely all head coach Nick Saban could have asked for, given the quality of football wasn't up to his high standards.

History suggested Alabama would hold on, given the success under the circumstances during Saban's tenure:

Wallace rifled a pass to Engram down the seam with less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth, but the tight end dropped what could have been the equalizing touchdown. Engram redeemed himself later on the drive with a third-down catch that preceded Wallace hitting Vince Sanders for the tying 34-yard score.

Alex Scarborough of ESPN was critical of the Crimson Tide secondary following that play:

Alabama will hope to dig deep and get back on track as it is on the road again next week for a matchup with Arkansas.

The Razorbacks have lost to Auburn and in overtime to Texas A&M this year, but they can run the football (316.6 yards rushing per game this season). It figures to be an interesting matchup if Arkansas can get going on the ground early.

Saturday marked a massive triumph for Ole Miss, yet it must put it in the past quickly to avoid a letdown on the road next week against the Aggies. With Texas A&M coming off a defeat, it will be interesting to see whether Ole Miss can continue setting the pace in the SEC West division.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Stanford vs. Notre Dame: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish weathered the damp conditions in South Bend, Indiana, and overcame the Stanford Cardinal, winning by a score of 17-14 and improving to a blemish-free 5-0 on the season. However, as the final score indicated, it wasn't easy for the home team.

A steady rain helped each squad's defense to dominate the early portion of Saturday's contest. Notre Dame's defense forced a three-and-out to begin the game, and although quarterback Everett Golson led the Fighting Irish into Stanford territory on the ensuing drive, the Cardinal defense remained stout, forcing a turnover on downs.

Following a punt from each team, the Notre Dame defense finally came up with a big play. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was pressured by Elijah Shumate, and Cole Luke intercepted the poorly thrown pass deep in Irish territory.

John Heisler of Notre Dame's media and broadcast relations tweeted how the pick affected all parties involved:

But as quickly as the momentum appeared to sway in Notre Dame's favor, it shifted right back to Stanford on the following play. Golson decided to tuck the ball away and scramble on first down, and his ball-security issues came back to haunt him, as a fumble was recovered by the Stanford defense.

Two plays later, Hogan made the Irish pay for their mistake, taking a keeper 10 yards for the game's first touchdown. College GameDay tweeted the end result:

Another two punts saw the first quarter come to a close, and the second quarter didn't begin any better for the Irish.

Golson successfully drove Notre Dame's offense down to the Stanford 6-yard line; however, on a crucial 3rd-and-5, the quarterback was intercepted by Jordan Richards. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News tweeted his reaction to the play:

The two early turnovers were very concerning for Notre Dame with the team coming off a five-turnover performance against Syracuse in Week 5.

The team's ensuing offensive possession only continued to add to the early woes of the Irish. After driving down to the Stanford 24-yard line, kicker Kyle Brindza got a great look at a field goal. Unfortunately, a bad snap led to an attempt that sailed wide right, and Notre Dame remained scoreless.

However, the Irish defense continued to show great resilience on the following drive. A bend-don't-break attitude allowed Stanford to drive into Notre Dame territory but held the Cardinal without a score. Former NFL scout Greg Gabriel tweeted his opinion on the Irish defense:

Golson returned to the field, and this time, he wouldn't be denied. After two consecutive incomplete passes, the Notre Dame offense faced a 3rd-and-10. Using great vision, Golson broke loose for a 33-yard run—the longest of his career—and an Irish first down. Two plays later, the quarterback connected with Chris Brown for a 17-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at 7-7.

Ashley Adamson of Pac-12.com, tweeted the successive plays:

After another punt from each team, the game entered halftime.

The official Twitter account of Notre Dame Athletics displayed a nice graphic that compared both schools at the break:

Midway through the third quarter, Notre Dame appeared ready to keep momentum in its favor. A blocked punt by Drue Tranquill gave the Irish great field position; however, head coach Brian Kelly opted to run Cam McDaniel right into the teeth of a very good Stanford defense.

An exchange of punts ensued, and the contest entered the fourth quarter knotted at seven.

The Irish defense continued to come up big, as Luke intercepted Hogan on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving Notre Dame fantastic field position deep in Cardinal territory.

Here's a look at the celebration that followed the pick, via Observer Sports:

Despite an apparent shift in momentum, Stanford's defense held strong once again, forcing another Notre Dame field-goal attempt. Brindza trotted on the field and came away empty-handed once again after his kick was blocked.

Angelo Di Carlo of WNDU tweeted the occurrence:

Yet, another strong stand by Notre Dame's defense gave the Irish the ball—and a big chance to finally get on the board once more. A couple nice connections between Golson and Corey Robinson put the Irish back into field-goal range.

This time, Brindza earned his redemption, nailing a 45-yarder to give Notre Dame the 10-7 lead. Di Carlo tweeted what the score meant for the kicker:

Stanford's offense returned to the field shortly after, and with Hogan at the helm, a comeback was well within reach.

Hogan orchestrated a near-flawless drive, connecting with Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector to bring his offense to the Notre Dame 11-yard line. Remound Wright took it from there, pounding his way up the middle for a touchdown and a 14-10 lead.

ABC57News tweeted the end result of the drive:

Needing a touchdown to notch a much-needed home win, Golson and the Irish offense took the field at the 35-yard line after Jordan Williamson's kickoff sailed out of bounds. The quarterback took the drive into his own hands, completing passes to William Fuller and Robinson for consecutive first downs.

Robinson nearly struck again, when he found himself wide open in the end zone after double move torched the Stanford secondary. However, the pass from Golson was late, but Notre Dame did come away with a 15-yard gain due to pass interference.

After three plays, it was do or die for Golson and the Irish, as they faced a 4th-and-11 at the Stanford 23-yard line. What happened next was simply unbelievable, as Ben Koyack stood alone in the end zone due to busted coverage from the Cardinal. Golson found him for a touchdown and the 17-14 lead.

SportsCenter tweeted how the game stood following the score:

Hogan and the Stanford offense still had some time to do work, as they only needed a field goal to force overtime. The quarterback put his team in great position to strike, moving quickly to the Irish 49-yard line, but Notre Dame's defense came through once more, pressuring Hogan and forcing an intentional grounding call that ended the game.

Stanford put up a great road performance in a hostile environment against a very good football team. The Cardinal certainly proved worthy of the nation's No. 14 ranking, and the team's loss shouldn't drop it out of the AP Poll's Top 25.

Head coach David Shaw praised the efforts of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after the game, via JJ Stankevitz of CSNChicago:

The Cardinal have a difficult schedule ahead, as they will face Washington State, Arizona State and Oregon State before taking on Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks. However, after the way Stanford played on Saturday, it's not far-fetched to think they have a solid chance to get through that stretch unscathed.

Notre Dame may have just produced its biggest win of the season. The team moves to 5-0 on the year, and thanks to losses by No. 2 Oregon, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma in Week 6, the Irish could quickly find themselves in great position to participate in this year's College Football Playoff.

During a post-game press conference, Kelly was asked about the team's current top-10 standing. Here's his response, via Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com:

Fortuna relayed another comment from the coach—this time, a witty comment about the team's decision to put gloves on the hands of its holder:

October 18 will be a highly difficult challenge for Notre Dame, as the team hits the road to take on No. 1 Florida State. The Irish proved they can win games in the face of adversity over the past two weeks, and we'll see if they can keep up that trend against the best in the nation.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ole Miss DB Senquez Golson Intercepts Alabama Pass in End Zone to Seal Upset

No. 11 Ole Miss held on to upset No. 3 Alabama on Saturday thanks to a game-sealing interception in the end zone by senior defensive back Senquez Golson.

On 2nd-and-13 from the Ole Miss 32-yard line with less than a minute remaining, Golson picked off Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims' pass in the end zone.

It was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but after review, it was determined that Golson caught the ball and got a foot down in bounds.

The interception sealed the game for Ole Miss, as it was able to run out the clock and hold on for a 23-17 victory.

[gifdsports]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern: Score and Twitter Reaction

Northwestern stunned No. 17 Wisconsin on Saturday in a 20-14 upset that will jeopardize the Badgers' spot in the college football rankings.

Badgers running back Melvin Gordon delivered his usual brilliant outing, turning 27 carries into 259 yards and a touchdown. He bolted out of the starting gate for a huge carry to begin a day that quickly became bleak for Wisconsin. ESPN College Football shared a significant achievement Gordon has already accomplished on the field in 2014:

Despite Gordon's best efforts, his team could not generate enough offense behind an abysmal passing attack. During the first half, Tanner McEvoy went 4-of-10 with 24 passing yards and an interception. 

Excluding his 283 passing yards and three touchdowns against Western Illinois earlier in the season, the junior has struggled against stiffer competition. Per WisSports' Travis Wilson: 

With no aerial assault to speak of, head coach Gary Andersen made the switch to junior Joel Stave, a decision reported in a Badger Football tweet:

Andersen foreshadowed such a switch early in the week, when he hinted at the swap, The Associated Press reported (via ESPN.com).

"If there's an opportunity to get Joel in the game in the right setting, it will be a possibility," Andersen said. "I think he's continued to progress, handled some more team activities in a solid way this week."

When things aren't going well, there's no player more popular than the backup quarterback, even if he can't right the ship. According to 247Sports' Evan Flood, the Wisconsin faithful at Ryan Field warmly welcomed the change:

Chuck Freimund of 1250 WSSP was also initially thrilled to see the team's former starter take the helm again:

Stave, however, produced much of the same. He completed eight passes in 19 attempts, registering 114 yards, a touchdown and three costly interceptions.

Anyone happy to see Stave quickly realized that Wisconsin can't deliver much through the air either way. Now it's time for an embarrassing tweet relaying his futility, courtesy of Fox Sports Wisconsin's Dave Heller:

But at least he has nailed down a big part of his job description, a sentiment echoed by Heller:

Any chance of a late comeback dissipated with six minutes left in the fourth quarter when Stave threw a pick in the end zone. They scored minutes later, but another interception with less than a minute left sealed the deal, bringing both squads to 3-2 on the season. 

Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian didn't light up Wisconsin's secondary, but his so-so stat line looks masterful in comparison to his opposing quarterbacks. The senior, who entered Saturday with two touchdowns and four interceptions, went 15-of-29 for 182 yards and a passing touchdown.

In a matchup dominated by both ground games, Justin Jackson gained 162 rushing yards on 33 carries for the Wildcats. Playing in Gordon's shadow, the freshman 4-star recruit made quite an impression by exceeding 100 rushing yards for the first time in his young career.

Scout.com's Nick Medline liked what he saw:

Given the national spotlight, Jackson enjoyed a coming-out party against a ranked opponent and potent Big Ten defense. Wisconsin's loss will seize the spotlight over Northwestern's victory, but Jackson's breakout performance is worth celebrating for the Wildcats.

After opening the season with a pair of losses, Northwestern has won three consecutive games to soar over the .500 mark. The squad has surrendered a combined 27 points in the last three games. This win at least puts them in the discussion for a national rank, even if it takes another triumph over Minnesota next weekend.

Wisconsin's quarterback woes will persist into the upcoming weeks. It remains to be seen who takes the snaps against Illinois next week, but the "give the ball to Gordon and hope for the best" strategy will likely be heavily utilized once again.

Even in a subpar outing, Stave showed more ability than McEvoy, so he'll likely vault up to QB No. 1.

As good as Gordon is, he needs some help. After declining to 3-2, don't expect the Badgers to remain in the Associated Press Top 25 next week.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska vs. Michigan State: Live Score and Highlights

Michigan State 17, Nebraska 0—Late 2nd Quarter

Who says there aren't any big games in the Big Ten any more?  Tonight, No. 10 Michigan State hosts undefeated and No. 19-ranked Nebraska for supremacy in the Big Ten and an inside track to a possible College Football Playoff berth.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona State vs. USC: Live Score and Highlights

Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1) vs. USC Trojans (3-1)

7:30 p.m. ET, Fox

With Oregon's loss to Arizona on Thursday, the path to winning the Pac-12 South just got a lot tougher as the Wildcats now control the division. 

USC, at 1-0 in the Pac-12, has a chance to keep pace with Arizona this week but will have to do so against the Sun Devils. 

Arizona State, which played in the Pac-12 Championship Game last year, is reeling from a massive 62-27 loss at the hands of UCLA, so the Sun Devils will be looking to upset the Trojans to get back on track.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona State vs. USC: Live Score and Highlights

Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1) vs. USC Trojans (3-1) 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox With Oregon's loss to Arizona on Thursday, the path to winning the Pac -12 South just got a lot tougher as the Wildcats now control the division...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

TCU Has Player Lie Down in End Zone on Kick Return, Penalty Wipes out Trick Play

No. 25 TCU is pulling out all of its tricks as it tries to upset No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday.

After the Sooners tied the game at 21-all with a touchdown in the second quarter, the Horned Frogs attempted a trick play on the ensuing kickoff.

TCU running back B.J. Catalon lay down in the middle of the "O" in "Frogs" in the end zone on the kickoff. That allowed him to hide from the Sooners. Then, he set himself up to receive a lateral and pick up yards.

Catalon took the football to near midfield, but a holding call brought the ball back to the TCU 30-yard line.

Of course, this play brings back memories of the time the Philadelphia Eagles tried to pull it off against the New Orleans Saints back in 2012. Unfortunately, a penalty negated that play as well.

Hopefully, one day this play will be run without the team committing a penalty.

[YouTube]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan vs. Rutgers: Live Score and Highlights

Rutgers 19, Michigan 17 (Early 3rd Quarter)

Michigan's woes on third downs could lead to another loss. If its defense gets on par with the offense, Rutgers has a good shot in this one. 

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia RB Todd Gurley Throws 50-Yard Pass Against Vanderbilt

Georgia running back Todd Gurley can just add this clip to his Heisman resume.

The Bulldogs running back has already proven that he can run the football, catch out of the backfield and return kicks. On Saturday against Vanderbilt, he proved that he can also throw the football.

In the second quarter, Gurley hit tight end Jeb Blazevich for a 50-yard gain. It was a very good pass under pressure. The only way that this could have been better is if Blazevich had scored.

Georgia capped off the drive by scoring a touchdown.

[SB Nation]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Heartbreaking Loss to Florida Shows Tennessee Is Still O-Line Away from Return

As much blame as Tennessee senior quarterback Justin Worley should shoulder for Saturday's inexcusable 10-9 loss to Florida, one fact became even more painfully clear: The Volunteers can't win in the SEC without better offensive line play.

Despite the positive buzz surrounding a young team that looks close in some areas, the biggest hole remains one of the most important to fielding a respectable offense.

They've got to fix the issues up front first.

It's reared its ugly head all season, and against the Gators, it was no different. Worley was sacked six times, the Vols mustered just 28 rushing yards on 29 carries and UT's one-dimensional offense failed to score a touchdown.

Worley had been gutsy and come up huge for the Vols prior to the pivotal SEC East showdown. But he proved again that he simply isn't a good enough quarterback to carry the offense by himself.

A poor offensive line forces Worley to be perfect and try to make elite plays that he can't consistently.

UT's signal-caller posted arguably his worst performance since last year's game at Oregon. Worley finished a respectable 26-of-39 for 205 yards, but he made three critical blunders that lost the game.

His momentum-swinging fumble can be directly attributed to the five players charged to protect him.

With the third quarter winding down and with UT clinging to a 9-0 lead, Worley was sacked by blitzing Gators freshman defensive back Jalen Tabor.

As Worley hit the deck again and the ball hit the ground, 102,455 fans in a jacked-up Neyland Stadium could have told you what would happen next. The sack-fumble gave the Gators the football at UT's 30-yard line.

Newly inserted freshman quarterback Treon Harris led a drive that resulted in the game's only touchdown. From the moment of the sack, a nine-point Volunteers lead flipped to a heartbreaking loss.

Should Worley have seen Tabor? He hung onto the ball too long on the play and should have thrown it away, but the bottom line is he was blindsided by a defender yet again—a sight all too familiar for the Vols this season. 

With the six times Worley was sacked against UF, that makes 18 on the season.

Worley made enough miscues on his own, throwing an interception immediately following UT linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin's to start the second half.

Then, with UT down by a point late and after Pig Howard had just made a great, diving catch on 4th-and-10 to extend the drive, Worley rushed a throw into double coverage downfield that was picked off to end the Vols' hopes.

So much blame can go around in an offense that wasted a brilliant defensive performance against a bad Florida team Tennessee had no business losing to. But all of it can be traced back to line play.

Since the Vols can't muster anything on the ground, they're forced to try to move the football in the short passing game. Defenses don't have to stay honest when that's the case.

The high-percentage passes may lead to a lot of completions, but there's no sizzle in those stats because UT can't do anything downfield.

On Saturday, Florida's defenders pinned back their ears and came after Worley. By the end of the game, folks should have been selling "Honk if you sacked Worley" bumper stickers back in Gainesville.

When Worley does drop back and try to hang in the pocket to let plays develop, he winds up taking sacks or getting hit. He just doesn't have enough time to let things happen.

Worley regressed without question against Florida, but the Vols are forced to put the game in his hands, and he has rarely proven he can win the big game. The one time he did, it took a miraculous, one-handed catch by Marquez North last year to upset South Carolina.

There would be no miracles Saturday as head coach Butch Jones was forced to answer questions about one that Tennessee simply let get away. It slipped through UT's fingers like Florida's defenders through the Vols' porous offensive line.

Unfortunately for UT, there are no clear-cut fixes in sight, either.

Senior left tackle Jacob Gilliam practiced this week in pads, according to GoVols247's Wes Rucker (subscription required), just more than a month removed from tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against Utah State. But even if he completes an unbelievable return, he won't be enough to fix the issues.

Jones has commitments from four offensive linemen in the 2015 recruiting class, but freshmen routinely struggle to adapt to life in the SEC trenches. The Vols are playing with two—Jashon Robertson and Coleman Thomas—this year, and see how that's working out.

Even if all four can play, they won't be able until next year, and the Vols need to make a bowl game this season. It looks like they'll have to in spite of their offensive line.

The Vols answered that question resoundingly against Florida: You lose.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics gathered from UTSports.com. All recruiting information gathered from 247Sports.com.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Scores Controversial TD at End of Half on Fumble Return Against Ole Miss

With a 7-3 lead over Ole Miss near the end of the first half of Saturday's game, Alabama gained some breathing room on a controversial touchdown.

It looked like the Rebels were going to be content to run out the final 53 seconds of the first half. On the first play of the drive from the Ole Miss 18-yard line, Rebels running back I'Tavius Mathers received a handoff. That's when a controversial—and potentially game-changing—play occurred.

Crimson Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones poked the ball loose, scooped up the fumble and ran it into the end zone for the score. The touchdown gave Alabama a 14-3 lead in the final minute of the first half.

However, replays showed that Jones appeared to grab Mathers' facemask during the play. If the referees had seen it, the touchdown would not have counted and Ole Miss would have maintained possession.

It was an important no-call in a big showdown, especially considering Alabama gets the ball to start the second half.

[CBS Sports]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rashad Greene Injury: Updates on FSU Star's Concussion and Return

Florida State has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but the offense could end up being short-handed without top receiver Rashad Greene.

According to Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat, the senior picked up a concussion in the team's matchup with Wake Forest:

Kelvin Benjamin received more publicity in the Seminoles' national title run, but Greene led the team with 76 receptions and 1,128 yards in 2013. With a strong start to the 2014 season, he is considered one of the best players in the country at his position.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. called him the top senior receiver in the class, via College GameDay:

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has been impressed watching the player this season:

Florida State came into the year favorites to repeat for a title, but Greene spoke about comparing the two squads, via the Associated Press (h/t USA Today):

You have to let us have our own identity. The result may be the same, but we may not beat teams by 30 or 40 like we were last year. But we're winning and getting better and playing good football is the most important thing. People can't compare us to that team. That was definitely a dominant team and nothing had been seen like that in years in college football, period.

Unfortunately, simply getting to the College Football Playoff could be a challenge if Greene's injury turns out to be serious. The Seminoles will need increased production out of Kermit Whitfield and Christian Green as well as tight end Nick O'Leary in order to keep the passing attack at an elite level.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson Hurdles N.C. State Defender on His Way into End Zone

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson put an exclamation point on his team's first quarter against N.C. State on Saturday with a very athletic rushing touchdown.

The Tigers put up 21 points against the Wolfpack in the opening quarter, with the final seven points coming on a five-yard touchdown run in which the freshman quarterback hurdled a defender on his way into the end zone.

[YouTube]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State vs. Maryland: Game Grades, Analysis for the Buckeyes

The No. 20 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1) continued to roll Saturday afternoon, blasting the Maryland Terrapins (4-2) in a 52-24 rout at College Park. 

Urban Meyer's Buckeyes piled up 533 total yards against the Terrapins—their third straight game with at least 500 yards. Maryland's offense struggled, gaining just 310 total yards while producing a season-low 24 points.

How did Ohio State grade out after its convincing 28-point victory?

 

Ohio State Buckeyes Grade Analysis

Passing Offense

J.T. Barrett came into the game on an absolute tear, and that continued against the Terrapins. The redshirt-freshman completed 18 of 23 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. Michael Thomas had another great performance as well, catching four passes for 75 yards, highlighted by a fantastic 25-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Those two have the Buckeyes pass offense operating at a high level right now.

 

Rushing Offense

After a slow start to the year, Ohio State's ground game is starting to kick into gear. A big reason for that is the maturation of the offensive line, which is breaking in four new starters.

That unit is opening up big holes for Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for 139 yards on 24 carries Saturday afternoon. He led the team to 269 rushing yards, and the Buckeyes averaged five yards per carry in a solid outing against the Terps.

Two failed fourth-down conversions at Maryland's goal line in the second half hurt the Buckeyes' final grade, though.

 

Pass Defense

After giving up 352 passing yards to Gunner Kiel and the Cincinnati Bearcats last week, Meyer was concerned about Maryland and its dynamic group of playmakers on offense.

Those concerns proved to be unfounded, though, as the Buckeyes held the Terps' passing attack in check. Dangerous receiver Stefon Diggs only recorded 52 receiving yards, and no pass-catcher had more than 80 yards. The Buckeyes got three sacks and picked off four passes, one of which Raekwon McMillan returned 19 yards for a touchdown.

 

Run Defense

Maryland had a tough time getting anything going on the ground. The Terrapins finished with just 66 rushing yards, averaging 2.8 yards per carry. Brandon Ross had some success, running for 38 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Those numbers were inflated by one run of 23 yards. Outside of that, the Buckeyes were once again stout against the run.

 

Special Teams

Place-kicker Sean Nuernberger's struggles continued against Maryland. The freshman was called upon midway through the first quarter, and with the wind at his back, he missed badly on a 48-yard field goal. He redeemed himself slightly two drives later when he connected on a 28-yard attempt. The Buckeyes did make a few plays fielding kicks, though, as Dontre Wilson had a nice 32-yard punt return and Jalin Marshall spun his way to a solid 30-yard kickoff return.

 

Coaching

The coaching staff established they're game plans on both sides of the ball effectively. On offense, the Buckeyes kept the Terrapins guessing with a good mix of running and passing. Ohio State rushed for 269 yards and threw for 264. Defensively, the Buckeyes made Maryland one dimensional by taking away the running game. That forced the Terps into making some bad decisions, including a horrendous interception at the end of the half. That turnover allowed the Buckeyes to take a 31-10 lead into halftime, which essentially ended the game.

 

All stats via NCAA.com

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Dak Prescott and Mississippi State Are 2nd Coming of Tim Tebow's Florida Teams

While at Florida, Dan Mullen made a name for himself by helping develop a young quarterback named Tim Tebow into a Heisman Trophy winner and one of the most talked-about players in recent memory.

Six years into his Mississippi State tenure, he might have finally found himself a reasonable facsimile—and the Bulldogs look like SEC and national contenders as a result.

Saturday’s 48-31 demolition of No. 6 Texas A&M only confirmed what those who have been watching closely know: Junior quarterback Dak Prescott is the real deal and an impressive dual-threat in the mode of Tebow, who helped Florida to two BCS National Championships during his Florida career.

He's perhaps even better, if you ask NFL general managers

Prescott completed 19 of 25 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, adding 77 rushing yards and three scores on the ground. He even went wide and caught a pass in the Texas A&M red zone.

“Dak Prescott walks right into the Heisman discussion!” ESPN’s Dave Pasch exulted as Prescott scored an easy 11-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. “If you didn’t know who Dak Prescott was coming into his afternoon, you certainly now know he’s one of the best players in college football.”

Prescott is an athletic quarterback who is a physical, tough runner, and at 6’2”, 235 pounds, he is built to punish opposing tacklers, much like Tebow was.

He has also shown steady improvement this season. A year ago, Prescott threw for 1,940 yards with 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions, completing 58.4 percent of his passes and averaging 7.3 yards per attempt.

After Saturday, he has thrown for 1,223 yards with 13 touchdowns against two interceptions, completing 63.6 percent of his passes. His average per attempt is up significantly as well, at 10.1 yards.

Most impressive was how he backed up his breakout effort in MSU’s 34-29 upset of LSU, which saw him account for 373 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs defense showed its mettle as well. The Aggies offense, led by sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill, entered as one of the nation’s most explosive attacks, averaging 51.2 points per game (second nationally) and 401.2 yards passing per game (fifth nationally).

But Mississippi State’s brutish, tough defensive line consistently harassed Hill. He threw for 365 yards and four scores but was intercepted three times and looked nothing like the quarterback who set an A&M single-game passing record in his first start at South Carolina. Prescott and Mississippi State had the dominant offense, scoring almost at will against a young A&M defense.

 There was no doubt that Mississippi State looked like one of the SEC’s best teams.

While Mullen’s former team struggles, his current squad looks a lot like the Gators of old: a nasty defense and a multifaceted offense led by a quarterback who can beat you in a number of different ways.

“Finally, the Bulldogs have a quarterback you can win because of, not in spite of,” ESPN sideline reporter Tom Luginbill said late in the telecast.

The road ahead isn’t easy. No. 5 Auburn comes to Starkville next week, and a trip to No. 3 Alabama looms Nov. 15, as well as the traditional Egg Bowl season finale against No. 11 Ole Miss on Nov. 29. The Rebels stunned Alabama later Saturday, meaning the Egg Bowl could be a Top 10 matchup. 

But this much is clear: Mississippi State has turned a corner to become an SEC contender, and it has Prescott and Mullen’s construction to thank.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

J.T. Barrett Finally Ready to Lead Ohio State on Big Ten Title Run

Between the northeast location and opponent across the field, Ohio State's trip to College Park on Saturday hardly seemed like a traditional Big Ten opener for the Buckeyes.

But what was familiar for Ohio State was the outcome—a 52-24 mashing of Maryland—and its feeling afterward, as the Buckeyes reestablished their status as the conference favorite heading into the heart of the 2014 campaign.

A big part of that was the play of redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, who for the third consecutive game showed steady improvement following Ohio State's Sept. 6 loss to Virginia Tech.

In just three quarters and one drive in the fourth quarter, Barrett compiled 338 total yards and five touchdowns, engineering a Buckeyes offense that tallied 533 yards against the overmatched Terrapins.

"He's a very good quarterback. He had some nice throws," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer told ESPN sideline reporter Todd McShay after the game. "J.T.'s one of our strong points right now."

No, Barrett isn't Braxton Miller, the two-time Big Ten MVP whom he replaced due to injury just two weeks prior to the start of the season.

But what Barrett has accomplished in the weeks following OSU's defeat at the hands of the Hokies has been as much as anyone could have asked from the Wichita Falls, Texas, native, who is likely on his way to being named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week for the fourth time in five games this season.

"A young guy like that on the road," Meyer said as he set the scene for the Ohio State radio network in a postgame interview. "He's just growing up so fast."

Efficiency has been the norm for the Buckeyes under the direction of Barrett, both in the air and on the ground. Attempting 23 passes on the day, Barrett completed 18 throws for 267 yards and four scores, adding 71 rushing yards and a touchdown to complement Ezekiel Elliott's team-high 139 rushing yards.

That brings Barrett's post-Virginia Tech loss three-game combined totals to 909 passing yards, 156 rushing yards, 15 total touchdowns (14 passing, 1 rushing) and just one interception.

To say that the freshman's improvement in the last 28 days has been dramatic would be an understatement, as it's no coincidence that Ohio State hasn't scored fewer than 50 points in its last three games.

And while the Buckeyes may be used to a record-setting pace with Meyer's spread attack, it didn't seem so simple four weeks ago when the Hokies stifled the Ohio State offense with a Bear, cover-zero approach on defense.

But as ensuing opponents have attempted to emulate what at the time appeared to be a blueprint for beating the Buckeyes, they've found themselves picked apart by Barrett and an evidently improving offense.

"The Virginia Tech game, I think everybody's looking at that," Meyer said. "They're putting a lot of pressure on our quarterback, and he's answering."

Maryland was no different on Saturday, loading the box in an attempt to take away Elliott and force the ball into the hands of Ohio State's freshman signal-caller.

Barrett responded by completing passes to nine different receivers at varying lengths down the field, opening lanes for both himself and Elliott when he wasn't otherwise finding the end zone.

"We have a lot of confidence right now in our quarterback and our skill positions," Meyer said. "There's a lot of opportunities to make plays because we're confident. We weren't that way in the first game because we didn't show it in practice enough. Now they're starting to practice that way."

That's bad news for the rest of the Big Ten, at least in the East Division, which once again appears to be on a collision course to have its champion decided on Nov. 8 in East Lansing, Michigan. 

With Ohio State playing as well as it has in the past month, only Michigan State can match the momentum of the Buckeyes, who are headed into a bye week before tuneup games against Rutgers, Penn State and Illinois before their showdown with the Spartans.

Of course, a lot can happen for both teams before then—starting with tonight's prime-time matchup between Michigan State and Nebraska.

And while no defense Ohio State has seen—or will see—can stack up to the Spartans, the play of Barrett has created a cause for optimism, which couldn't have otherwise been found in Columbus a month ago.

"He's playing very well," Meyer said of his emerging star signal-caller. "The neat thing is, we can still get better."

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Kenyan Drake Injury: Updates on Alabama RB's Leg and Recovery

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Kenyan Drake suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury in Saturday's game against Ole Miss.

CBS Sports' Eye on College Football shared some observations regarding Drake's injury:

The Tide have a deep backfield that already features T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry as the main ball-carriers. However, heading into the game against Ole Miss, Drake paced all Alabama ball-carriers with four rushing scores on the year.

The presumptive severity of Drake's injury casts aside most implications from a football standpoint for now. The primary concern is that the junior isn't as severely hurt as it appeared.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages