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NCAA College Football Picks: Week 1 Against the Spread

The collegiate football season's kickoff has officially launched. And if two schools that I probably couldn't find even with a GPS can make the inaugural game thrilling, it can only mean that a fascinating fall awaits!

Adding to the excitement is the return of an occasion that we have not experienced since the madness of March: betting on games!

And there are indeed some killer matchups.

Although some top teams chose a creampuff dessert as their first meal, there are three games between ranked teams in Week 1: No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 21 Texas A&M, No. 12 Georgia vs. No. 16 Clemson and No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 LSU at a neutral site in Houston.

Earlier this week, I discussed Week 1's previews. Now let's take a look at these same matchups against the spread, as listed on CoopersPick.com.

 

No. 21 Texas A&M vs. No. 9 South Carolina

South Carolina (-10), Over/Under 58

Pick Against the Spread: The Gamecocks are home and will cover in their house in the season opener. Why? Their defense is simply too good, and Texas A&M has failed to cover the spread in its last four games on the road. And, well, it's South Carolina's house in a season opener. 

 

Boise State vs. No. 18 Ole Miss

Ole Miss (-10), Over/Under 54.5

Pick Against the Spread: Ole Miss will show who's the ranked team with a win and also cover. The offense has too many weapons, and the D will keep the Broncos from racking up the rushing yards. On top of that, Boise State is only 2-5 in its last seven games, while Ole Miss is a legit 19-7 in its last 26 nonconference games.

 

No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State

Florida State (-17.5), Over/Under 63 

Pick Against the Spread: Florida State wins big and covers, as it will dominate on both sides of the ball. In their last six nonconference games, the Seminoles have covered five times.

 

West Virginia vs. No. 2 Alabama

Alabama (-26.5), Over/Under 55.5

Pick Against the Spread: A spread of 26.5 points is a lot to give, but add T.J. Yeldon plus the Tide defense, and Alabama will win and cover. WVU has failed to do just that in its last six nonconference games.

 

Arkansas vs. No. 6 Auburn

Auburn (-21), Over/Under 57.5

Pick Against the Spread: Auburn will extend its streak of covering the spread in its last eight SEC games. Last season, the Tigers beat Arkansas by 18 points, and that game was on the road.

 

No. 16 Clemson vs. No. 12 Georgia

Clemson (+7.5), Over/Under 57.5

Pick Against the Spread: Interesting betting trends pick Clemson to win this game, which it will. The Tigers have covered the spread in eight of their last 11 road games, while Georgia is only 1-4-1 ATS in its last six home games. Vegas Insiders' conference betting odds for Georgia to win the SEC is 7/2 this year, but how it plays in the first four weeks will be telling to how the season will pan out for the Bulldogs.

 

No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU

LSU (-4), Over/Under 50

Pick Against the Spread: While it has only covered the spread in two of its last seven nonconference games, LSU's new talent will carry the squad to a win against Wisconsin and cover the narrow spread to boot.

 

SMU vs. No. 10 Baylor

SMU (+33), Over/Under 73

Pick Against the Spread: To the surprise of few, SMU will not win, but it will cover. The Mustangs are 0-4 ATS in their last four nonconference games, but last season they lost by 29 points against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. In perhaps a slight moral victory, expect a similar result against Baylor. 

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South Carolina's Dylan Thompson Finds Nick Jones for 69-Yard TD vs. Texas A&M

The South Carolina Gamecocks faced an early 10-0 deficit in the college football season opener against the Texas A&M Aggies on Thursday, but senior quarterback Dylan Thompson helped his team get back into the game.

With less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter, Thompson found senior wide receiver Nick Jones for this 69-yard bomb, pulling the Gamecocks within three points of the Aggies.

[YouTube, h/t Saturday Down South]

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Boise State vs. Ole Miss: Live Score and Highlights

 

Early Third Quarter

Ole Miss 7, Boise State 3

Turnovers have held both teams back thus far.  This game may come down to which team plays the cleaner second half.

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Jameis Winston Will Struggle to Repeat as Heisman Trophy Winner

Only one person in history has ever won the Heisman Trophy twice, and Jameis Winston will have a hard time becoming the second.

Since the award was first given out to the most outstanding college football player in the nation in 1935, only Archie Griffin has been fortunate enough to bring home the award in two different seasons. Winston can join this club after winning in 2013, but a number of factors will prevent this from happening.

Based on talent alone, it is clear the Florida State quarterback is one of the best players in the nation. He finished his redshirt freshman season with 4,057 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and the No. 1 passer efficiency in the country at 184.8.

ESPN's NFL draft guru Mel Kiper believes he is the best prospect available for 2015:

However, talent alone does not necessarily guarantee winning the most prestigious individual award in sports. 

One of the biggest problems Winston will face this season is increased expectations. While many had high hopes for the talented player coming into last year, no one thought he would become one of the best in the country right away. This changed in his first start when he went 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

As he continued to put up incredible numbers throughout the year, fans watching along could not help but be impressed.

The problem is this year the perception has changed. We have seen what Winston is capable of, and anything less would seem like a disappointment. Johnny Manziel actually posted better passing numbers last season but only finished fifth in the Heisman voting because voters were no longer impressed by his highlight-reel plays.

In reality, fans should expect a bit of a drop in production this season. Coaches have now had an entire offseason to study the sophomore and should be able to come up with ways to defend him. 

Additionally, Winston might have to be more conservative in his approach after losing a few major weapons like Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw and Devonta Freeman this offseason.

The quarterback also is putting the team first, saying, "I haven't set any individual goals. Just team goals. And the first goal is winning the national championship," via Danny Aller of Yahoo Sports.

This could mean a lot more running plays for Florida State to control possession, especially with the team likely having a lot of big leads in the second half.

However, this brings another problem heading into the season. Even though it was an individual award, voters care about how the team performs. This is another reason Manziel or Mark Ingram were unable to get legitimate consideration.

While Florida State comes into the year as the No. 1 team in the nation, even one loss could prevent the team from getting a bid to the first-ever playoffs. Losing seven NFL draft picks will certainly make things difficult.

If the Seminoles fail to be legitimate contenders for a national championship, voters will be happy picking someone else. With Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and others expecting big years, we will not be short on alternatives.

Fans are always looking for something new, which was good for Winston last year but will not help him this time around. He is expecting a great season, but winning the Heisman for a second time will be too difficult to accomplish.

 

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

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Texas Football: What to Expect from QB David Ash in 2014

The 2014 season is a chance for Texas quarterback David Ash to make up for 2013.

Ash entered last season with high expectations. He was named to multiple preseason watch lists and was poised to have a breakout junior year following the bumpy start of his college career.

But things took a turn when the Longhorns faced BYU on Sept. 7. Ash left the game in the fourth quarter after taking multiple, harrowing hits, which resulted in a concussion.

After sitting out the following week, Ash returned to the field in time to kick off Big 12 play, but his stay did not last long.

Ash suffered recurring concussion symptoms against Kansas State, and Texas fans did not see him under center for the rest of the season.

"It was hard," Ash said. "A concussion is something where nobody sees a cast, nobody really knows what is going on. It's a tough deal. But, that's past, and we are moving on to the future now."

 

Playing it Safe

The expectations for 2014 are nowhere near those of last season. But head coach Charlie Strong does expect Ash to protect his body and avoid contact as much as he can.

Strong put together a lowlight reel for all of his players. When he went through the film with his quarterback, he asked him what he was trying to prove in taking such hard hits.

"I don't need to see how tough you are. If you can outrun him, outrun him, but run out of bounds or slide or something. Just don't take a hit," Strong said of his conversation with Ash. "He took like three or four hits and I just stopped it and asked what he was trying to prove."

The redshirt junior has taken his coach's words to heart and plans on playing a smarter brand of football this season.

"He told me I have to get down. He's right. I have taken hits that were not necessary," Ash said of his talk with Strong. "Sometimes you are just trying to get that mojo going. But there are other ways rather than taking hits like that. He just made it clear that is not what I have to do or how I have to play. I'm going to start being smarter, doing a little baseball practice with sliding and getting out of bounds. I can't be taking those hits anymore."

 

Managing the New Offense

The Longhorns have installed a new offense under quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and offensive coordinator Joe Wickline. There was an obvious learning curve when the team was first taught the offense, but Ash has done consistently well throughout fall camp and has the confidence of his position coach.

"In what we do and what we ask him to do, to be honest with you, he's been outstanding. He's been awesome," Watson said. "Everything is done through the eyes of the quarterback. David has allowed our whole team to move fast because he's moved so fast."

Watson said the ideal situation is to be balanced on offense, but nobody is expecting Ash to win games by himself. The Longhorns have potential for a solid ground attack between running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, which will take a lot of pressure off of Ash from trying to make too many plays on his own. 

Strong has constantly said he doesn't need Ash to be a great player. What the coaches want to see is his ability to manage the game and get the offense in the right place to make plays.

"When you get a quarterback in a new offense, it's just how much he can press that offense and how much he's willing to learn and study," Strong said. "That's what he's been able to do, just learn the offense and study. I always tell him this, 'I don't need a great player, I just need you to manage and do what we ask you to do. I don't like to see the ball turned over.' He's been able to make the throws at practice, been able to get us in the right checks and get us in the right place."

Ash will likely experience some hiccups this season. When Texas takes the field against North Texas on Aug. 30, 342 days will have passed since Ash has seen contact. The concerns surrounding his frightening injury history will likely continue throughout the 2014 season, and a lot of Texas fans will cringe anytime he hits the ground.

But what's most important for the Longhorns, aside from his health, is for Ash to be the game manager his coaches expect him to be. 

As Ash told Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods.com (subscription required):

You have to manage the game. You have to be a general on the field. You have to be a coach on the field. You have to distribute the ball. You have to give your team the right play. You have to know when to take risks and when not to. Does that sell my talent short? No. I feel like I'm very talented at managing football games. That's why I play quarterback.

One area his teammates have commended Ash for is his increased leadership role. The quarterback has previously been labeled as a shy person who would not speak up in the huddle. He is also a man of few words in media settings.

But Ash has taken notice of the way great quarterbacks lead their teams and plans to do the same for the Longhorns. As he told Richardson:

Leadership, a large part of it is your teammates believing in you, but that belief they have in you comes in you showing up and making plays consistently in practice, and not rolling over in game situations. That's the reason you believe in most of the great quarterbacks you see because you see them execute. You see them execute in tough situations. You see Tom Brady execute consistently. His teammates believe in him. You see Aaron Rodgers execute consistently so his teammates believe in him.

It's all about your actions, and I think that's what shows up. Great play comes from great preparation. Great play comes from team effort. Great play comes from coaching. There's a lot of things that go into that, but that team togetherness and unity comes when we all believe in each other, we're all going to do our jobs, and it's all going to pay off. That's how good team ball works.

Comparing his style of play to Rodgers and Brady is a bit of a stretch, considering they are two of the most consistent and reliable quarterbacks in the NFL.

Ash's career has seen a lot of ups and downs. When he was up, he played very well. When he was down, it was the complete opposite.

Consistency is something Ash will need to prove early this season, especially since Texas will face three preseason AP Top 10 teams in its first six games.

But one thing nobody can question is the quarterback's determination.

There are a lot of people who would have considered giving up football after going through what he experienced in 2013.

For Ash, quitting was never an option.

He believes he is meant to be on the football field and is determined to prove that to his team and to all of his critics.

"He really wants to be a great player," Watson said. "I think he has unsettled affairs after the kind of year he went through last year. I respect that. He has worked really hard and has played very efficient football."

He obviously has the drive to be a great player, but only time will tell if he can show that greatness on a consistent basis.

His coaches have praised his work over the last eight months. Now is the time for him to prove it.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

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

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Tim Tebow Does His Best Steve Spurrier Impression While Telling Recruiting Story

While setting the stage for the Texas A&M-South Carolina game on Thursday, SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow shared an interesting tidbit from his past.

The story itself was interesting, but it was Tebow's impression of Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier that stole the show. Hopefully, he is able to show Spurrier his impression at some point during the season.

[Vine]

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8 Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 1

The arrival of college football season means anticipation for games rises among every team's fanbase. However, there's plenty more going on beyond the field during game-day festivities.

Recruiting departments spend the entire offseason coordinating plans for every matchup. Teams welcome recruits in an effort to show off program facilities and tradition and provide opportunities for personal interaction with the coaching staff. Each week, we'll take a look at top-tier prospects expected on campuses across the country and dissect how the development factors into their overall recruitment.

As the 2014 campaign kicks off across the country, here's a look at notable game attendees who will be taking in the action on opening weekend.

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Throwback Thursday: Nick Saban Gets Destroyed by a Block in High School

Alabama's Nick Saban is known for being a great defensive coach, but back when he was a high school football player, things didn't always go smoothly for him.

In the clip above, you will see Saban—playing for Monongah High School (West Virginia)—get destroyed by a block while on special teams. 

Below are some more clips of Saban's senior season. (The block above is in the video at around the 2:08 mark.)

[TideSports.com, Yahoo Sports, Rivals]

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UCLA Football: 3 Stars Who Will Break out in 2014

The UCLA football team has three players poised for breakout seasons in 2014.

A veteran wide receiver is now thrust into a starting role. Talent has never been an issue, but a lack of consistency hasn't allowed for a breakthrough season. Now seemingly matured, he will take the mantle of UCLA's top receiver.

The other two players in this piece are true sophomores. Both started last year as freshmen and played big roles.

This year, the duo will take the next steps in potentially becoming all-conference selections. In the process, each will become a known commodity in the Pac-12.

Here are three stars who will break out in 2014 for Jim Mora and the Bruins.

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UCLA Football: 3 Stars Who Will Break out in 2014

The UCLA football team has three players poised for breakout seasons in 2014. A veteran wide receiver is now thrust into a starting role. Talent has never been an issue, but a lack of consistency hasn't allowed for a breakthrough season...

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Biggest Question Facing Each Top 25 Team Heading into the 2014 Season

Ahem: Football's back! 

Technically, it was back last Saturday, when Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State faced off on the red field, but it's not real football unless the SEC is involved. 

(That's only half joking.) 

Digressing, Week 1 is upon us and each Associated Press Top 25 team has a silo of offseason questions just waiting to be answered. It's likely, if not guaranteed, that most of those questions won't be answered after one game.

But we can focus on the overriding storyline for each top-25 team as the season gets underway. What will Texas A&M look like in the post-Johnny Manziel era? Who will win Alabama's quarterback battle? Will Florida State win another national title?

Let's try to predict some answers. And not be horribly, horribly wrong in the process. 

 

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Cold Hard Fact for Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fact: Steve Spurrier seeks to be the third SEC coach with 200 wins tonight, joining Bear Bryant (292) and Vince Dooley (201).

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN Stats and Info

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Who Steps Up Alongside Marcus Mariota to Continue Oregon's Offensive Dominance?

The Oregon Ducks are looking to make a run for the national championship in 2014. With many of Marcus Mariota's top targets now in the NFL, the Ducks are looking to restock their weapons. Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson and The Oregonian's Andrew Greif discuss some potential stars ready to dominate. Who do you think will tear it up in 2014?

Watch the video and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Who Steps Up Alongside Marcus Mariota to Continue Oregon's Offensive Dominance?

The Oregon Ducks are looking to make a run for the national championship in 2014. With many of Marcus Mariota's top targets now in the NFL, the Ducks are looking to restock their weapons...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

JW Walsh's Keys to Success as Starting Oklahoma State QB in Matchup with FSU

Despite his experience and presumed edge over teammates Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph, the formal designation of J.W. Walsh as the Oklahoma State Cowboys starter puts some pressure on the rising junior to succeed in the team's season opener.

What's more, opening against the Florida State Seminoles could leave Walsh with a fairly limited capacity for doing so.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has confirmed that J.W. Walsh has been named the starting quarterback for the Cowboys, per NBC Sports' John Taylor, and will be first under center when they play the No. 1-ranked Seminoles on Saturday.

As a sophomore in 2013, Walsh played in eight games with mixed results.

His 1,333 yards passing, nine touchdowns and five interceptions to go along with three rushing touchdowns weren't enough to make him an "easy favorite" among the Cowboys coaching staff. Despite Walsh spending the majority of his time with the Cowboys' No. 1 offense, Gundy has been slow to publicly declare a starter until this Wednesday.

Going up against the nation's top-ranked team and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Jameis Winston gives Walsh a unique opportunity to prove himself and instill confidence among his teammates in Gundy's decision.

It also presents him with a challenging first test, as the Seminoles will be 17.5-point favorites, according to Odds Shark.

 

Make Plays Outside of the Pocket

Florida State brings back six starters from last year's team that held opponents to a meager 12.1 points per game. What is additionally concerning for Walsh and Oklahoma State's coaching staff is that the Seminoles were the fifth-best passing defense in the country last year and allowed only 14 touchdowns to 26 interceptions the entire season.

Where a player like Walsh could have a slight edge would be in his ability to scramble and make plays outside of the pocket, considering Florida State allowed nearly 125 rushing yards per game in 2013, good for 18th in the country. 

Luckily for the Cowboys, that's mysteriously high for such a talented defense and presents a possible chink in the armor that they could exploit with Walsh's skill set.

So if Walsh is going to beat the odds, or even stay competitive against the Seminoles, he's likely going to have to make plays with his feet and put running back Desmond Roland in position to score.

Whether it's through the air or on the ground, the 2012 Big 12's Offensive Freshman of the Year has his work cut out for him.

 

Keep the Game Close

To justify himself as the Cowboys' starting QB, Walsh doesn't necessarily have to defeat the Seminoles. Because, frankly, an Oklahoma State loss is more likely to fall at the feet of the Cowboys defense that is unlikely to be competitive against Winston's explosive offense.

If Walsh can keep Oklahoma State competitive and leave his team's mistakes to the defensive side of the ball, he should still come out on top in the eyes of his fans and coaching staff. Expectations are casually lowered.

And if you can keep your team from imploding on day one, it only gets easier as the schedule moves forward. If Walsh plays well and beats Florida State, consider him more than proven. It's one of the few advantages to opening the season against a team like the Seminoles.

 

Bobby Kittleberger writes about fantasy football for The FF White Papers. You can get in touch with him via Twitter.

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Tennessee Football: How Vols Can Stop Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton

Chuckie Keeton represents the most challenging, versatile quarterback the Tennessee Volunteers will face all season.

If he's healthy, Utah State's 6'2", 200-pound senior signal-caller may be the best all-around player on the Vols' schedule.

He can beat teams with his arm and legs, something Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper and Mike Davis can't do. Nimble on his feet, accurate, strong-armed, smart and seasoned, Keeton is blessed with numerous attributes.

He's good enough that he has been the recipient of dark-horse Heisman Trophy buzz, and one national writer—Grantland.com's Michael Weinreb—even picked him to win.

Keeton is more than capable of starring and leading the Aggies to a stirring win that could shell-shock the young Vols and extinguish the positive vibes surrounding the program.

So, how does the young UT defense keep that from happening?

 

Hit Him Early, Often

It's no secret that Keeton tore his anterior cruciate and medical collateral ligaments last Oct. 4 against BYU, normally a devastating injury that can take more than a year to heal.

Yet, according to the Deseret News' Jeff Hunter, teammates and coaches believe Keeton appears better than ever.

Those are scary words for Tennessee, considering how electric Keeton can be and how few mistakes he makes. He even shines on the biggest stages.

Regardless of how much lip service those around USU's program pay Keeton, there are always mental hurdles to get over when coming back from an injury of that magnitude.

The Vols have to do everything within the rules to keep Keeton from feeling comfortable.

USU returns just one starter on its offensive line, and the Vols must exploit that perceived fissure. A rusty quarterback—even one as skilled as Keeton—is more vulnerable behind a shaky line.

Rattling Keeton is easier said than done, especially considering UT's young, small and untested defensive line is the team's biggest question mark.

According to ESPN.com, UT hasn't cracked the league's top five in sacks since 2007. The past three years, Tennessee has finished last, last and next-to-last. Oh, and the Vols must replace all four starters from a season ago.

The Vols have gotten a surprising surge from freshman defensive end Derek Barnett, who earned a starting job with his relentless play. Curt Maggitt is healthy and moving well again, he told GoVols247's Wes Rucker (subscription required).

Corey Vereen was UT's best pass-rusher a season ago. The Vols also traded big, clunky defensive tackles for quicker starters—Danny O'Brien and Jordan Williams—and they both need to have a huge game.

UT's defensive front will attempt to use speed to counter speed. Williams told Volquest.com's Grant Ramey (subscription required):

Really, we have one true D-tackle in there, and that's [Danny O'Brien]. Everybody else is either an end or used to be a linebacker. I was a linebacker two years ago. [Corey] Vereen could've been one. So we have a lot of hybrid guys in there.

In theory, this approach seems like the right game plan. But when Sunday night comes, the Vols have got to get to Keeton and put him on the ground, something they've been historically bad at recently.

If he has time to throw, Keeton could have a field day.

 

Press Up Front, Shrink the Field

One of the most noticeable differences in Tennessee's fall camp with the infusion of so many defensive newcomers is the upgrade in team speed.

That was a major emphasis for coach Butch Jones in sculpting his first full recruiting class.

Now it's time for it to translate onto the field. Keeton provides a similar test to the one UT has failed so many times before.

A study of UT's official 2013 statistics shows opposing quarterbacks had 701 rushing yards by themselves against the Vols a season ago, running for nearly 6.1 yards per carry. Tennessee simply couldn't stop it.

Now, they play a guy in Keeton who looked extremely familiar to another UT opponent:

"[Keeton] can make something out of nothing; just a real explosive guy," Williams told Volquest.com's Grant Ramey. "We're going to get after him. He throws pretty good when he's outside the pocket. We just have to get somebody in his face."

Containing Keeton is dicey. While the Vols want to force him to move, he throws well on the run. Also, as the statistics against dual-threat quarterbacks show, UT routinely fails to stay disciplined in its rush lanes.

All week, the Vols have been attempting to simulate Keeton's threat, but that's impossible when few in the nation possess his skill set:

If the ends and secondary do their job, UT may even be able to use a linebacker spy such as athletic sophomore Jalen Reeves-Maybin to follow Keeton like a shadow.

Keeton is a master at sucking in secondaries who come up to tackle him before he reaches the line of scrimmage. When that happens, the senior quarterback's arm is strong and accurate enough to beat the Vols for huge gains downfield.

Keeton is tough for any defense to defend. With 11 to 13 newcomers expected to play for coordinator John Jancek, the coach told GoVols247's Rucker, those guys must play beyond their years.

 

Take Away His Support System

Finally, Keeton has plenty of moxie, but he can't beat an SEC team on his own.

That's why containing receivers JoJo Natson, Ronald Butler and especially running back Joe Hill is a necessity. If UT can limit the running game and make USU one-dimensional, all of the focus can be shifted squarely on Keeton.

Hill, too, is returning from torn knee ligaments suffered last season. He is talented enough to be included on the Doak Walker Award watch list, but he will likely take a while to get reacclimated.

As for the receivers, Natson is electric, but at 5'7", 151 pounds, he isn't going to beat UT cornerbacks Cameron Sutton (6'1"), Emmanuel Moseley (5'11"), Michael Williams (5'11") or nickelback Justin Coleman (5'10") too often. Those guys are fast, too.

If Tennessee's talented cornerbacks can lock down Natson and Butler, Keeton is going to start pressing, believing he has to do everything himself. That's when the Vols will gain an advantage.

But they've got to accomplish it first.

The test that looms for the Vols isn't lost on anybody in orange, as they've spent months preparing for Keeton as much as a team can when he's not staring back across the line of scrimmage.

The Vols are not going to be able to escape with a victory unless they can harass Keeton, limit the playmakers around him and force him into some uncharacteristic miscues.

Stopping Keeton is asking the young Vols to do something few teams have in his illustrious career. But slowing him down, keeping him from breaking free for long runs and negating big plays will result in a 1-0 record heading into the season's second week.

 

All statistics gathered from CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted. Quotes and observations were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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

@Brad_Shepard

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Who Will Be the Next Vernon Hargreaves for the Florida Gators in 2014?

The Florida Gators are starting the season with a chip on their shoulders. With a disappointing 4-8 record in 2013, Will Muschamp and Co. are looking to bounce back.

Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson and GatorCountry.com's Nick de la Torre discuss some things to watch on the defensive side of the ball. How well do you think the Gators will do this year?

Watch the video and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M vs. South Carolina: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis

Keep it locked right here as we bring you live coverage of the 2014 college football opener between No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 9 South Carolina!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Anthony Brown Quits USC Football Team, Claims Steve Sarkisian Is Racist

USC was already having a bizarre week in light of the Josh Shaw ordeal. Now things have only gotten worse for the school, as senior running back Anthony Brown has quit the team and alleged that head coach Steve Sarkisian is a racist.

In an Instagram post Brown has since removed from his account, he wrote, "Sark treated me like a slave in his Office...Can't play for a racist MAN!!!!! #Fighton." The message was posted alongside an image that simply said, "Couldn't play for a racist man!!!!"

Ryan Abraham of Scout.com took a screenshot of that image and has more on the story:

Steve Sarkisian just came into the media room to inform us that Anthony Brown has quit the football team. Brown went on Instagram and Facebook, accusing Sarkisian of being a racist. Sark said he was "shocked" at these allegations, called them "ridiculous" and welcomed us to talk to anyone in or around the program and they would tell us that it simply wasn't true.

Sark said they tried to accommodate Brown, moving him to running back. He was unfortunately hurt but Sark said they still tried to get him to stay on the team. Sark felt he could help the team. Brown refused, quit the team...

This certainly feels like a story with a lot of unanswered questions at the very least. Perhaps the most pertinent piece of unknown information was raised by Bomani Jones of ESPN:

On the other hand, at least one player, nose tackle Antwaun Woods, has already come to Sarkisian's defense.

It will be interesting to see how other players comment on their relationship with Sarkisian in the coming days.

It will also be interesting to see how USC recovers from two bombshells in the same week. On Wednesday, Shaw admitted that he fabricated the story about spraining both of his ankles while rescuing his nephew, per Tess Quinlan of USA Today.

His lawyer, Donald Etra, claimed he injured his ankles after falling from a balcony on Aug. 23. Shaw was promptly suspended indefinitely.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports pointed out the recent issues facing the program:

Not only does USC have to now put out the fires started by both of these situations and try to mitigate the distractions and media flurry they have now caused, but they also are now without two players and have some serious on-field concerns to address, as Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated notes:

Shaw was a captain, remember, while Brown started several games in his USC career at cornerback and had been moved to running back this season. Both were expected to contribute to the team this year in some capacity.

Now, however, USC is down two men and left dealing with the public spotlight that is currently shining brightly on the program. It certainly has not been an easy start to the Sarkisian-era this summer.

 

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Anthony Brown Quits USC Football Team, Claims Steve Sarkisian Is Racist

USC was already having a bizarre week in light of the Josh Shaw ordeal. Now things have only gotten worse for the school, as senior running back Anthony Brown has quit the team and alleged that head coach Steve Sarkisian is a racist...

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