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UCLA vs. Virginia: Live Score and Highlights

The No. 7 UCLA Bruins look to start their potential championship run Saturday against the upstart Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia...

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College Football Rankings 2014: Last-Minute Look at Preseason Polls

Saturday marks the first full day of action for the new season of college football. The addition of the College Football Playoff, which replaces the highly controversial BCS rankings, has created an extra layer of intrigue at the outset.

One notable result is already in the books, as Texas A&M, led by Kenny Hill, upset South Carolina on Thursday night. It's the first of several games likely to make a noticeable impact on the new rankings once the dust settles following Week 1.

Knowing that, let's take one more look at the preseason polls before Saturday's action starts to shake things up for teams around the nation. The chart is followed by a closer look at the top contests to keep an eye on throughout the day.


2014 Preseason Polls

Full Polls: Associated Press, USA Today and Bleacher Report


Saturday's Top Games

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State

The reigning champion Seminoles don't have a gimme in their opener. Although the Cowboys aren't as highly touted as they have been in recent years, they feature a dangerous offensive scheme with a starting defensive group laden with upperclassmen.

Of course, all eyes will be on Jameis Winston. Last season's Heisman Trophy winner is going to face an immense amount of scrutiny on a weekly basis. As noted by Dan Wolken of USA Today, the Florida State star talks like he's ready for the challenge.

"I know I'm in the spotlight and I know I've got these guys depending on me, coach (Jimbo) Fisher depending on me and the most important thing I have my family depending on me," he said. "That comes from me maturing, seeing the real world, seeing how people have different perspectives about me as a person. I know I have to be able to live up to that hype everywhere I go. I have a certain standard I have to hold myself up to, and if I even go an inch below that standard it's going to be chaos."

One thing the Seminoles offense must do in order to reach the same heights as last season is figure out who's going to replace Kelvin Benjamin in the red zone. The current Carolina Panthers rookie was a key target for Winston, who doesn't have a comparable option with the same combination of size and athleticism.

For Oklahoma State to put the nation's top-ranked team on upset alert the defensive line must get a major push all game long. It starts with James Castleman and Ofa Hautau in the middle, who have the ability to make life difficult on Winston and the Florida State ground game.


Clemson vs. Georgia

This game features two players NFL scouts will be watching extremely closely over the next four months. For Clemson, it's edge-rusher Vic Beasley, who opted to return despite being a potential first-round pick. For Georgia, it's dual-threat running back Todd Gurley.

More importantly, this is the type of contest the selection committee is likely going to weigh heavily at season's end. Beating up on a low-level opponent isn't going to carry much clout. But wins over top-25 opponents could very well be the difference in the end.

It's an immediate test for Tigers quarterback Cole Stoudt, who showed well (five touchdowns, no interceptions) in limited action behind Tajh Boyd last season. He can expect to see a lot of varied looks from a Georgia defense that's coming off a frustratingly inconsistent campaign.

Georgia is also going through a QB change, as Hutson Mason will be assuming the reins in place of Aaron Murray. Gurley's presence should make that transition a little smoother, though. It also helps that the new signal-caller gets to work with an experienced group of receivers, including top target Chris Conley.


Wisconsin vs. LSU

It's never ideal to enter a season without a definitive starting quarterback. The delicate balancing act of rotating them based on the hot hand usually backfires eventually. But that's the situation LSU needs to manage, at least until either Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris locks down the job.

Wisconsin must take advantage of the situation by being in all-out attack mode on defense. It's a unit that returns several key pieces after finishing seventh in yards allowed last season. That's not enough to give the Badgers an edge, however, at least according to ESPN Stats & Info:

With the questions under center, the Tigers' staples of running and defense must be even stronger. Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue are gone, but Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard should provide a dangerous one-two punch on the ground.

If the Badgers defense lives up to expectations, the onus will be on Joel Stave to limit his mistakes. The junior quarterback threw 13 interceptions last season. In a game where one possession could make the difference, an untimely error could change the entire season outlook for Wisconsin.


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NCAA Football Playoff 2014: Exploring Championship Implications of Week 1 Games

Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs!

Jim Mora may not have liked early postseason discussion, but that's what makes Week 1 of the 2014 college football season even more intriguing. With the new format, four teams—voted on by a selection committee—have the opportunity to play on the year's biggest stage. That means College Football Playoff (CFP) implications start now.

This year's Top 25 teams have already been established, per the AP Poll, but those rankings are set to change quickly, as some squads will be upset early and others will surge up the standings—simply take a look at the result of No. 9 South Carolina against No. 21 Texas A&M as a prime example.

The nation's top-four teams will qualify for the CFP at season's end, and based on their Week 1 matchups, they are all expected to begin the season with wins. However, could strength of victory be enough to shift the rankings before Week 2? Let's discuss.

No. 1 Florida State is looking for a successful title defense and kicks off the season against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were once known for a prolific offense, but uncertainty at the quarterback position may have changed that.

Head coach Mike Gundy told ESPN Radio (via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN.com) junior signal-caller J.W. Walsh will get the start against the Seminoles in Week 1.

Said Gundy, "J.W. has taken the majority of the [first-team] reps and will be the guy that goes out there and starts for us."

Walsh had a bit or a roller-coaster showing last season, completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions. While those numbers aren't terrible, it will certainly be a tall task to keep up with reigning Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston and Florida State's vaunted defense.

Here's a look at a great comparison for the impending contest, via ESPN College Football:

Expect Florida State to roll here.

No. 2 Alabama has a quarterback quandary of its own. According to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com, the team will start Blake Sims against West Virginia. However, another report noted the Crimson Tide could utilize Jacob Coker in a two-quarterback system as well.

Regardless of this situation, the matchup is simple: We have Alabama's fifth-ranked defense from a year ago facing a team that won only four games in 2013. Still, the Crimson Tide can't sleep on West Virginia, as the Mountaineers did upset No. 11 Oklahoma State in September last season.

Both of these teams have undergone significant changes from the 2013 season, and in this case, it's very difficult to bet against Nick Saban's very strong recruiting classes—and a potential feud with a certain quarterback, via this tweet from USA Today Sports:

No. 3 Oregon is set to face a South Dakota team that gave up a slew of points last season—the Coyotes were defeated by North Dakota State 42-0 in their season finale. Taking that into consideration, imagine what the Marcus Mariota-led Ducks offense will do.

Oregon had the nation's second-ranked offense one season ago, averaging an astounding 565 yards per game. Mariota is expected to be in the Heisman running this year, and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal to make a strong statement out of the gate.

Mariota already finds himself in some elite company, per SportsCenter:

Alabama may need to start looking over its shoulder in short order.

No. 4 Oklahoma finished the 2013 season in style, defeating No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Alabama in consecutive games. Quarterback Trevor Knight was a big part in the team's late success, throwing for four touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

Now a sophomore, Knight can be expected to take a significant step forward. He's a dual-threat player who can beat defenses with his arm and his legs. Louisiana Tech's defense ranked 94th in the nation last season and shouldn't be a formidable threat for the signal-caller.

Bryan Fischer of NFL.com noted coach Bob Stoops' prowess with many quarterbacks in the Big 12:

The Sooners will easily maintain their No. 4 ranking when the dust settles after Week 1.

With all four of the top-ranked teams expected to win by significant margins on Saturday, don't expect to see any shifts in the updated CFP rankings. If you're looking to see these standings shaken up, waiting at least another week will be necessary.

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College Football Playoff 2014: Final Outlook Before Saturday's Week 1 Games

Since January 6, there has been a void in the hearts of college football fans across the country. While a few notable teams like Texas A&M and Michigan State have already gotten off to a great start, a full slate awaits on the first Saturday of the season.

Most matchups include a ranked team that is looking to overpower a lower program. Of those, Ohio State will get a chance to see frosh quarterback J.T. Barrett against Navy, while Alabama will take on West Virginia with two quarterbacks likely under center.

Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports notes the current signal-caller situation for the team:

As for the more intriguing matchups, two games include ranked teams facing off for supremacy. No. 16 Clemson vs. No. 12 Georgia, along with No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU, all have new quarterbacks. Much like Kenny Hill for the Aggies, all four teams hope to have a breakout star.

Along with those contests, top programs like Florida State and the Crimson Tide will look to start off the season on the right note. With 60 games on tap for the opening Saturday, here's a look at predictions for each game and a breakdown of some of the most pivotal matchups.


Breakdown of Top Matchups

West Virginia vs. No. 2 Alabama

With Fowler reporting that Bama will start Blake Sims, the quarterback now holds the reins to the No. 2 program. Along with that, he'll be following in the footsteps of A.J. McCarron, who started two national championship games in Tuscaloosa.

Sims may be the starter, but both quarterbacks will see the field. Coach Nick Saban spoke about the situation earlier in the week, per ESPN.com: "We're going to continue to rep both guys. We feel like both guys have done a good job. Obviously, someone has to start the game, so we'll make that decision sometime this week. Whatever pitcher starts the game isn't necessarily going to pitch nine innings."

Needless to say, fans can expect to see a heavy dose of Jacob Coker as well.

The Florida State transfer is another huge storyline to watch, but the team around him will need to be great to remain near the top of the rankings. Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus offers his take on another young player who is looking to emerge:

As for West Virginia, the team faces a tall task in taking down Saban and the Bama program. Since 2008, Saban has dropped just one game following seasons with multiple losses and never lost a season opener with Alabama.


No. 1 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State

Following an undefeated season for Florida State, the team retains many of the top players for another run to a national championship.

Jameis Winston is still at the helm and looking for a second consecutive Heisman Trophy. Along with all the hype surrounding him, Winston is also one of the top quarterbacks heading into the 2015 NFL draft.

SportsCenter provides a look at the early big board from draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.:

Coming in as the No. 1 team and favorites to win the national championship, per OddsShark.com, much will be expected of the Seminoles. Oklahoma State is a worthy adversary, and the Big 12 team will be looking to pull off the biggest upset of the year on Week 1.

But the Cowboys won't be the only team the Noles are battling this weekend. Paul Myerberg of USA Today gives some insight on the pressure for FSU this season:

FSU is playing against history ... That's the barometer: Florida State is competing not against Clemson, Notre Dame and others – they are, but only in here and now – but rather against all the other great teams to come before, from the West Coast, the East Coast, the South, the Midwest and all points in between.

Looking to measure up to great programs of the past, Jimbo Fisher and Co. are tasked with a massive undertaking. While the likes of either Alabama or Oregon could be awaiting them in the first College Football Playoff later this season, taking care of Oklahoma State will be priority No. 1 on Saturday night.


No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU

As is the case with several programs across the country, LSU will be trotting out at a new starting quarterback. For Wisconsin, the job is still up in the air even though Joel Stave enjoyed success last season.

Heading into the opener, Jeff Potrykus of the Journal Sentinel reports the Badgers will be starting Tanner McEvoy under center. Despite the report, McEvoy remained modest about the situation, per Jesse Temple of Fox Sports:

We're not sure who's playing upcoming this weekend. I hope I'm in. That's a coach Lud answer. Whatever he wants us to do. I've got to be ready for if my number's called. I know if it's not called, Joel will be ready, too. He's been doing it for a while. He's a great quarterback, so whatever they ask.

Regardless of who's at quarterback, there is a true star in the backfield in Melvin Gordon. The running back compiled 1,609 rushing yards, a 7.8 yards-per-carry average and 12 touchdowns during the 2013 season.

But even with his dynamic ability, Tigers linebacker Lamar Louis isn't worried about limiting his production. Louis spoke about facing Gordon earlier this week, per Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com:

He's a good back, speedy back. He makes good cuts, good decisions. I think he's up for the Heisman Trophy.

But I'm going to say what Chief said, tells us all the time, he's not someone we haven't faced in these past years. He's not someone we don't practice against (like) Terrence Magge, Leonard Fournette, Jeremy Hill.

LSU comes into the season with hopes of a national title and plenty of reasons for those aspirations. While the LSU quarterback situation is still undecided, the young talent coming in means the program will be competitive in the SEC.

If college football fans need another reason to watch, getting to see Leonard Fournette is all the more reason to tune in. As the No. 1 player in the 2014 247Sports' composite rankings gets his career started, the college football world will be watching.


No. 5 Ohio State at Navy

This early matchup doesn't bring a lot of intrigue, but getting a look at Barrett makes it worth watching.

The freshman quarterback is taking over after shoulder surgery ended the season for Braxton Miller. Barrett's learning curve will have to be short with Virginia Tech coming to Columbus in Week 2 of the season.

Facing a disciplined team like Navy, Barrett will need to be on top of his game. The No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 247Sports' composite rankings, Barrett will need to flourish to keep the Buckeyes ranked.

As he gets his career started in the noon contest, look for Barrett and Ohio State to make a splash against the Midshipmen.


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Penn State vs. UCF: Live Score and Highlights

Penn State 13, UCF 10—Early 4th Quarter

Penn State and Central Florida are meeting in Dublin, Ireland at the Croke Park Classic.

Stay locked in with Bleacher Report for live scoring updates and in-game analysis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Final Overview of Preseason NCAA Polls

It hasn't taken long for college football to regain its spot on the country's sports radar. Things have gotten off to a fast and fun-filled start.

The No. 9-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks have already been upset, and it's just the first week of a brand new college football season. The No. 21-ranked Texas A&M Aggies don't look to be missing a beat after Johnny Manziel made the jump to the NFL.

Sophomore Kenny Hill went bananas on the Gamecocks on Thursday night with a school-record 511 passing yards in a 52-28 Aggies' win. No. 18 Mississippi, No. 19 Arizona State and No. 8 Michigan State all won in early Week 1 action.

Here's one final look at the preseason polls before the first in-season update on Monday, per ESPN.com.


AP Top 25 Rank Team Record Points 1 Florida State (57) 0-0 1496 2 Alabama (1) 0-0 1361 3 Oregon (1) 0-0 1334 4 Oklahoma (1) 0-0 1324 5 Ohio State 0-0 1207 6 Auburn 0-0 1198 7 UCLA 0-0 1106 8 Michigan State 1-0 1080 9 South Carolina 0-1 1015 10 Baylor 0-0 966 11 Stanford 0-0 885 12 Georgia 0-0 843 13 LSU 0-0 776 14 Wisconsin 0-0 637 15 USC 0-0 626 16 Clemson 0-0 536 17 Notre Dame 0-0 445 18 Ole Miss 1-0 424 19 Arizona State 1-0 357 20 Kansas State 0-0 242 21 Texas A&M 1-0 238 22 Nebraska 0-0 226 23 North Carolina 0-0 194 24 Missouri 0-0 134 25 Washington 0-0 130


Other Teams That Could Lose to Lower or Unseeded Squads in Week 1

No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs

The Georgia Bulldogs and No. 16 Clemson Tigers renew season-opening acquaintances this year without a few familiar faces. 

Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd are no longer the men under center, and Sammy Watkins won't be dazzling fans of college football this year.

Even with the departures of those outstanding players, both the Bulldogs and Tigers have a good sum of returning talent. Georgia is returning 15 of its 22 starters from last season, and that includes preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley.

Clemson only has 11 returning starters, but four of them are on the defensive line.

The team will be without Corey Crawford. The defensive end was suspended for a game for infractions earlier in the year.

Even without him, the Tigers D-line could give Gurley and the Bulldogs offensive line a problem. Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley are a handful, and if they can help win the battle upfront, the Tigers have a good chance to pull the upset.

Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt finally has the chance to step out of Boyd's shadow, and he and his teammates seem prepared to make a name for themselves.

Per Associated Press (h/t Fox News), Stoudt talked about the mentality of his teammates on the offensive side of the ball:

"They came into fall camp with different edge because nobody was talking about the guys that are here." 

With a spirited performance from Stoudt and Co., Clemson could grab a huge win on the road in Week 1.


No. 13 LSU Tigers

Normally losing to a team ranked just one notch below wouldn't be that big of a deal, but because LSU hasn't lost a regular-season non-conference game in 12 years, a loss to No. 14 Wisconsin would be noteworthy.

The game will be held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Tigers' fans figure to travel well, but it still won't be the same as playing in Baton Rouge.

LSU is returning only 13 starters from last year's squad, and more importantly, there's a lack of experience at quarterback. Sophomore Anthony Jennings is the man for LSU, but is he prepared to be thrown into the fire this early in the season? 

The Badgers won't exactly have a wealth of experience at quarterback themselves. Converted safety/wide receiver Tanner McEvoy will get the nod for Wisconsin.

Because of the lack of experience at quarterback, the winner of this game could be determined by the squad that is best able to establish the run.

There are two very good running backs in this one. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon could be considered a dark horse for the Heisman. He was second in the Big Ten last season in rushing.

Gordon figures to be the focal point of Wisconsin's attack. Highly touted freshman Leonard Fournette is set to get his first college carries for LSU. This should be a good, old-fashioned competition between two storied programs.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Picks Week 1: Final Predictions on Odds for Top 25 Matchups

The long summer lull has finally ended with the start of college football in 2014. There have been a few games already, but everyone knows that Saturday is the day to sit in front of your television from noon until you fall asleep in the middle of the night with West Coast games on. 

It's also the first opportunity we have to evaluate the early-season favorites against competition. As is always the case, some Top 25 teams have opted to take a matchup that is a glorified preseason game. Others are giving themselves an early challenge to see how far along they are. 

Whatever the games may look like, the excitement will be off the charts simply because football season has started. We have some more excitement to offer with odds and predictions for the Top 25 teams in Week 1. 


Favorites on Upset Alert

No. 5 Ohio State (at Navy)

Even with the absence of Braxton Miller, Ohio State is still a big favorite going on the road against Navy. It's not a surprise because Urban Meyer has been able to recruit a lot of talent to the Buckeyes. 

However, the oddsmakers are underselling what Navy has become as a program. The Midshipmen have won at least eight games in 10 of the last 11 years and have averaged more than 300 rushing yards per game two of the last three seasons. 

Not surprisingly, the key to this game will be Ohio State finding a rhythm in the passing game with redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett playing in his first game since high school two years ago. 

Barrett certainly isn't acting like a freshman around his teammates, according to Austin Ward of ESPN.com:

While the Buckeyes haven’t yet heard him in a game or seen what he can do on the field for a team with College Football Playoff aspirations, they’ve had the better part of a year to get used to him in Miller’s place on the practice field and also had plenty of time during his redshirt season to learn how Barrett carries himself. And to a man, the entire program has come away raving about his leadership skills, maturity -- and when it’s time to stop talking, his physical tools. 

All of the talk about what Barrett is like off the field is nice, but performance between the lines on Saturday is what matters most. He's going to endure some growing pains early, which could allow Navy to sneak in and get the win. 

Ultimately, because the Buckeyes have more talent and a huge defensive line anchored by star defensive tackle Michael Bennett that will contain Navy's rushing attack, it's hard to predict an upset. 

But if Barrett struggles out of the gate and allows the Midshipmen to jump out to an early lead and control the clock, things will get very interesting. 


No. 12 Georgia (vs. No. 16 Clemson)

While it doesn't seem like going out on a limb to project an upset in a game between two teams ranked in the Top 20, keep in mind that Clemson is replacing its starting quarterback (Tajh Boyd), top two receivers (Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant) and best cornerback (Bashaud Breeland). 

Georgia, meanwhile, stands to benefit from last year's rash of injuries that doomed its season, because all of those young players and backups got valuable experience to prepare for this year. 

Where Clemson shines, though, is on defense. Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com talked about Dabo Swinney's returning group, led by All-American defensive end Vic Beasley, in a preview for this game:

But it is impossible to overlook this defense, which should be the strength of this team going into the season. 

That means advantage Clemson. Think about it. If you had to open the season on the road against a Top 25 team, would you want a stronger offense or stronger defense? 

Georgia running back Todd Gurley is generating a lot of preseason Heisman buzz and torched Clemson for 154 yards on just 12 carries last year, but the passing game is a question mark for the Bulldogs. Aaron Murray graduated, transferring power to senior Hutson Mason. He did appear in four games last year, starting the last two after Murray tore his ACL. 

However, the difference between Georgia Tech's and Nebraska's defense last season and Clemson right now is stark. The Tigers have the impact pass-rusher off the edge to make life miserable for Mason. 


No. 13 LSU (vs. No. 14 Wisconsin)

In another case where two ranked teams doesn't necessarily make for a sexy upset pick, Wisconsin will be carrying the torch for the often-mocked Big Ten against the traditional SEC powerhouse, LSU. 

The Tigers are five-point favorites, but Les Miles' group has a lot of questions to answer and a really good team on the other side of the field to do it against. Their biggest dilemma is trying to figure out the quarterback position.

Miles is going with a two-quarterback system in the opener, giving Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris opportunities to play. However, per CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, the LSU head coach didn't sound ecstatic about either player: "Right now, if there was a quarterback who gave us all the advantages to play, then at some point in time that would be our starter." 

Wisconsin is going to break in a new quarterback as well. Gary Andersen is going into his second season as head coach with transfer Tanner McEvoy as his signal-caller. It's a bold risk to take with Joel Stave returning after starting every game for the Badgers last year. 

The Badgers may not have a proven quarterback, but at least they have enough confidence in one to make a call. In a game between two teams that are otherwise evenly matched, the difference under center is huge. 


If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2014: Teams That'll Validate Hype in Week 1

Experts think they know which teams will dominate college football on a yearly basis, but nothing is for certain until they actually take the field.

The season is now officially underway, and the bulk of the teams ranked in the Top 25 will have an opportunity to show what they can do on Saturday.

Some ranked teams are bound to lose, but others will definitively prove that they are forces to be reckoned with. Conference titles and bowls can't be won in the first week of the season; however, they can often be lost.

Here are three teams in particular that will validate the preseason hype and get the year started in ideal fashion.


College Football Rankings


Teams to Watch in Week 1

Florida State

On the heels of an undefeated season in which it won the national championship, expectations for Florida State are through the roof. Although the Seminoles did lose some key players to the NFL, there is still a great deal of talent in place for head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston tops the list at quarterback, and he will likely be the biggest key to Florida State's success once again in 2014. The Seminoles' first test in terms of establishing themselves as title favorites will come on Saturday night against Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys aren't ranked in the top 25, but they have consistently been among the nation's best teams in recent years, and they aren't to be taken lightly.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Florida State will be to avoid complacency. Almost every win came easily for the 'Noles last year, as evidenced by this statistic courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info:

Being that dominant probably isn't sustainable over the course of two seasons. Florida State should certainly strive to reach that level, but the players have to understand that there will be some major challenges along the way.

Oklahoma State is an ideal team to start with since it went 10-3 last year but isn't necessarily among the elites in 2014. Florida State will look to make a statement in its first game since winning the national championship, and it will do so by beating the Pokes in fairly convincing fashion.



After shocking Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl to cap off last season, Oklahoma is very much in the College Football Playoff mix. The Sooners are favored to win the Big 12, and they have the horses on both sides of the ball to vie for a national title.

Few gave Oklahoma a chance to beat the Crimson Tide last season, but quarterback Trevor Knight came of age in that game. In just the fifth start of his career, he passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns against one of the country's most dominant defenses.

Asking Knight to put up those numbers on a weekly basis is a bit too much, but he is looking forward to the challenges that 2014 will present, per Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (h/t NCAA.com):

It was fun to play like that and get a big win. But now, the Sugar Bowl is a baseline for us. That's the foundation. You want to build off that and get better every game. ... We're back on top, preseason No. 1 in the Big 12, and that's where we want to be. You come to Oklahoma to play in big games and have those predictions and to live up to them.

Oklahoma's season will begin Saturday with what should amount to a tune-up game against Louisiana Tech. The Sooners can afford to take their opponent lightly, but there isn't much of an upset threat present in this contest.

Sooner fans will essentially look for Knight and the offense to find a rhythm, and for the defense to be stout as it traditionally is. As long as those things happen, there will be plenty of excitement surrounding the Sooners after the opening week.



There is no question that UCLA is among the most intriguing teams in the country this season. The Bruins are coming off a 10-win season, and they are possibly the biggest threat to knock Oregon from its perch atop the Pac-12.

Potential first-round NFL draft pick Brett Hundley is UCLA's biggest weapon. The dual-threat quarterback racked up over 3,800 total yards and 35 touchdowns for the Bruins in 2013. If his steady improvement continues in 2014, he will clearly be among the top Heisman Trophy candidates in the nation.

Along with Hundley, Myles Jack is bound to make life miserable for the opposition. Jack is primarily a linebacker, but he also lined up at running back last season and scored seven touchdowns in the process. No player in the country has as big of an impact on both sides of the ball as Jack does, which makes him a Heisman dark horse in his own right.

The one thing working against UCLA is that it hasn't proved to be a dominant team over multiple seasons. In fact, 2013 marked the Bruins' first double-digit win campaign since 2005. With so little winning experience on the team, Dan Wolken of USA Today views them as a somewhat unprecedented entity:

UCLA will have a chance to prove that it is for real in Week 1 against a tricky Virginia team. The Cavaliers were extremely poor last year in going 2-10, but they have a lot of talent on defense and are bound to improve.

Even so, this figures to be a showcase game for Hundley and the Bruins, and it will establish them as College Football Playoff contenders.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Braxton Miller Injury Update: Latest Comments, Recovery Notes Before OSU v Navy

When Ohio State takes the field Saturday for the first time this season against Navy, it will do so without quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller.

The explosive signal-caller suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder during practice on Aug. 18, and it was determined that he will miss the entire 2014 campaign, according to ESPN.com.

That is obviously a huge blow to the Buckeyes as they enter the season as the No. 5 team in the country with national championship aspirations as well. Those dreams aren't crushed yet, but they will unquestionably be far more difficult to attain.

On the plus side, Miller has since undergone surgery and started his recovery in hopes of getting back to full health for the 2015 slate. Per ESPN Big Ten on Twitter, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer revealed that the surgery went as expected:

Following the procedure, Miller posted a photo of himself with Dr. James Andrews on his Instagram account and relayed a positive message as well:

"Me & the best to do it , Dr. Andrews after surgery today! So happy this man said everything went well!" 

Despite the fact that Miller is on the shelf, he was still voted one of the Buckeyes' team captains for 2014, according to Meyer:

Per ESPN.com's Austin Ward, Meyer plans to use Miller as a captain throughout the season, although he won't be present for the opener at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore against the Midshipmen.

"He'll be one of the 70 (on the travel roster this season) if he can go," Meyer said. "He won't be able to go this time, but there will be times where we'll have to make that decision."

It would be easy for someone in Miller's position to pout and have a woe-is-me attitude, but that seemingly hasn't been the case at all. Miller has said all the right things and even shared an inspirational message on his Twitter account:

Even though a return in 2014 is out of the question, Miller is excited about his future prospects at Ohio State. Since his red shirt is still in play, Miller currently plans to return to the program next season in an attempt to lead the Buckeyes to a title, according to Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch.

I love Ohio State and Buckeye Nation, and my goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever. I am on course to graduate in December and I want to attend graduate school, and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season. ... In the meantime, I want to give all the support I can to my coaches and teammates as they chase a championship this season.

It remains to be seen how quickly Miller will be able to recover from surgery, but he will be afforded plenty of time to do so. Since he has already been shut down for the season, his sole focus can now be on rehabilitation and playing in 2015.

Being without Miller this year is obviously unfortunate for Buckeyes fans, but it gives them something to get excited about for next season. Ohio State's window of opportunity will stay open for an extra year, and it still has a chance to compete for a Big Ten crown in 2014 as well.

With Miller out of the picture for now, red-shirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett will take the reins. He has big expectations to live up to, but he is also surrounded by a strong supporting cast.

The pressure of being compared to an elite talent like Miller won't be easy, however, it hasn't been uncommon for red-shirt freshman quarterbacks to make a big splash in recent years.

Miller won't be on the field this season, but he could be a valuable commodity in terms of helping Barrett understand what it means to be Ohio State's quarterback.

Barrett will be on his own this weekend against Navy, though, and it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first career start.


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BYU vs. UConn: Game Grades, Analysis for Cougars

Is it too early to start the Taysom Hill Heisman Trophy campaign?

The BYU signal-caller was absolutely surgical in the 35-10 victory over the UConn Huskies on Friday night in East Hartford, Connecticut. Hill threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns. It was a career-high five touchdowns in one game for the Idaho native.

There were considerable questions heading into the game for Bronco Mendenhall's team. 

The suspensions of Jamaal Williams, Devon Blackmon, Jordan Johnson and Robertson Daniel did not make the long trip to Connecticut easy. Williams is the team's best running back, and the duo of Daniel and Johnson start as the corners in the Cougars' secondary.

However, the combination of Hill and Alge Brown led a dominating rush attack. BYU also relinquished only 282 yards through the air versus the quarterback tandem of Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer. 

BYU will look to use this game as a launching pad forward with the hopes of playing in a big bowl game. 

Final stats from the game can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

Check out our first-half and final game grades for the Cougars. Additional analysis for different position units will also be addressed. 


BYU Cougars Game Analysis

Pass Offense: Hill was clicking on all cylinders from the start of the contest. He went a sizzling 17-of-20 in the first half, making decisive throws and smart decisions. 

The talented signal-caller finished 28-of-36 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Although he sputtered a bit in the third quarter, it was patently apparent Hill has improved in his mechanics throwing the football. He certainly looked more comfortable in the pocket as opposed to a year ago. If he continues on this trajectory, he'll be in the hunt for postseason honors. 


Run Offense: Unsurprisingly, a large chunk of the rush attack fell on the shoulders (and legs) of the aforementioned quarterback. He led the team with 97 yards on the ground. Alge Brown and Paul Lasike also contributed with a combined 76 yards on the ground. 

In the absence of Jamaal Williams, the group rushed for 197 yards on 35 carries. The 5.6 yards per carry average was buoyed by a strong effort of the offensive line. 


Pass Defense: Without its two starting corners, BYU did do an admirable job. It only allowed 282 yards through the air on the evening. 

There were a few busted coverages, but the unit didn't allow many big plays. If anything, Mendenhall has to be pleased with the possibility of building depth within the unit. This game will give experience to some of the younger members of the secondary. 


Run Defense: The BYU defensive front led by Bronson Kaufusi did a very nice job against the beleaguered UConn front. The Cougars held UConn to 72 yards on 32 carries. This equates out to a 2.3 yards per carry average. 

BYU did a fantastic job of plugging the holes up front. Gap integrity was sound, as was the tackling of the ball carriers across the board. 


Special Teams: The effort was decent for the most part. Mitchell Juergens looked explosive and dangerous as a returner. He gives BYU a nice element in that capacity. 

Kicker Trevor Samson missed a chip shot 33-yard field goal in the second half. Punter Scott Arellano looked good with his rugby style punting. He had a long of 51 yards. 


Coaching: Mendenhall called a very good first half. The offense looked dynamic, and the defense held UConn to seven points. In the third quarter, the staff got a bit too conservative with the play-calling. 

If one considers penalties a sign of coaching, Mendenhall's grade could be significantly lower. BYU was victimized by 15 penalties for an eye-popping 150 yards. There's simply no excuse for this lack of maturity and discipline. 

Mendenhall's team did win by 25 points. It'd be difficult to give him a grade worse than a "B."

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Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt Ejected from Game vs. Villanova for Throwing Punch

A basketball game between Syracuse and Villanova would theoretically turn more heads than a football game, but Friday night’s showdown created a stir nonetheless. Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com indicates Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt was ejected after punching an opponent:

Josh Sanchez, an editor at Fansided, captured the play:

Before the ejection, Hunt was 10-of-17 for 94 passing yards and added 25 yards on the ground. The defender that he punched came in from behind as the Orange’s quarterback was going down and made contact with his facemask, but the punch was clearly an overreaction.

Simply put, the Orange needed a win in this contest if we look at the rest of their schedule.

This is Syracuse’s second season in the ACC, and there are plenty of difficult games on the horizon. In fact, the Orange have to play defending champion Florida State, Notre Dame, Maryland and Clemson, among others, so picking up a victory over Villanova could prove critical in terms of becoming bowl eligible.

Winning would have been much easier with Hunt in the lineup, although he probably wasn’t thinking about that in the heat of the moment. He was the Texas Bowl MVP against Minnesota in December and entered the 2014 campaign with plenty of momentum.

Hunt commented on the improvements he hoped to make this year before the game, via Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com:

I think I played mediocre last year. Some people may say it was successful, some may not. But I think I played mediocre. It wasn't to where I set my goals.

Being able to come in with your head held high, rather than not knowing who the starter is going to be, that's going to make a big difference.

It will be intriguing to see if this punch results in a suspension going forward.

Syracuse plays at Central Michigan and then faces former ACC foe Maryland in the next two games. Hunt could use that time to improve his craft before conference play starts, although it remains to be seen whether he will be on the field.

Stay tuned for updates as they develop.

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Jacksonville State Football Player Caleb Lawrence Needs a New Jersey

Jacksonville State football opened their season against No. 8 Michigan State, and it looks like one of their linemen could use a larger jersey. 

As Caleb Lawrence entered the game, he had quite a bit of bare midriff that was clearly the result of a jersey that was not the appropriate size.

Judging from his team photo, however, he's OK with this look.

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