Feed aggregator

Is LSU a Serious College Football Playoff Contender?

It wasn't always pretty, but LSU improved to 5-0 with a 45-24 win over South Carolina, restating its claim as a serious College Football Playoff contender.

The Tigers look weaker than previous LSU contenders and feel more like dark horses than favorites, but their record, pedigree and potential to improve make them a threat that all opponents must take seriously.

Running back Leonard Fournette has been the best player in the country, continuing his dominance with 158 yards against the Gamecocks, and the passing game showed tangible signs of improvement.

Sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris can't lead LSU to the playoff, but at this point he doesn't really need to.

Performances like Saturday's are enough.

The opponent left much to be desired, but Harris completed 18 of 28 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns.

Even if he left yards on the field, that's a major improvement on LSU's previous passing numbers, which according to ESPN's Peter Burns ranked last in the FBS among non-triple-option offenses.

"Brandon threw the ball well," head coach Les Miles said after the game, per Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He couched that by saying there are "some things we can improve upon," but omitting that would have been dishonest.

And then, of course, there's the running game. The Heisman Trophy is Fournette's to lose, as Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee wrote Saturday, but he's not alone in making this unit tick.

The offensive line is a snowplow, and true freshman scatback Derrius Guice, a top-50 player on 247Sports' composite rankings, rushed 17 times for 164 yards against the Gamecocks.

One run in particular ranked right up there with Fournette's greatest hits:

LSU is not a slam-dunk favorite, which is true for multiple reasons, especially when you look at its schedule.

The Tigers' best win to date came at Mississippi State—a game they nearly blew in the fourth quarter—but the Bulldogs are worse than each of their remaining six opponents, per Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings:

Despite that, the pre-Week 6 S&P+ projections had LSU winning 10 of 11 games. Its only projected loss comes at Alabama, the No. 1 team by S&P+ standards, so that's as quality as quality losses come.

And yes, I know there are flaws in that logic. Despite projecting the Tigers to win all but one of their games, the system above calls for toss-ups against Florida and Ole Miss. They're favorites in five of their next six games, but the chances of them winning all five, per the above numbers, land at only 13 percent.

Still, this is one of those cases where the numbers don't relay the whole picture. If you crunched advanced stats after six weeks two seasons ago, where do you think Auburn would have ranked?

Teams with experienced coaches and blue-chip talent have higher ceilings than teams without them. They can (and often do) make drastic improvements as fall ices over to winter.

Like 2013 Auburn, this Tigers team can run the ball on anyone, conjure timely defensive stops and (hopefully) improve in the passing game. Harris showed flashes on Saturday, and receivers Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre—respective current and future NFL draft prospects—combined for 10 catches, 183 yards and two scores.

This roster is oozing with talent, and Miles has taken multiple oozing-with-talent teams to national championship games despite shaky quarterback play.

With a running game that might be his strongest ever, a defense that typically gets the job done and a topsy-turvy conference lacking obvious, established favorites, who's to say he can't take one more?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Scores 2015: Key Players from Top 25 Teams' Week 6 Results

Top-rated Ohio State appeared to have more than a bit of trouble with Maryland. A week after narrowly defeating Indiana, the Buckeyes had their hands filled with the Terrapins.

The Terps were heavy underdogs at Columbus, yet when Perry Hills ran into the end zone 3:43 into the third quarter, Maryland had forged a 21-21 tie with the Buckeyes. It was Hills' second touchdown run of the game, and he had already passed for a touchdown.

Buckeyes fans were left wondering if their team was going to get pushed to the limit once again. However, that's when the Buckeyes got their game together. They would outscore Maryland 28-7 the rest of the way as their stars shined in the second half.

Quarterback Cardale Jones completed 21 of 28 passes for 291 yards with two TDs, and he did not throw an interception. Backup J.T. Barrett showed off his athletic ability as he rushed 12 times for 62 yards, and three of those running plays produced touchdowns.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who ran himself into the Heisman conversation in last week's win over Indiana, carried 21 times for 106 yards. Quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.

The 49-28 victory should allow the Buckeyes to hold on to the No. 1 spot in the nation, but they could get pushed hard for the top spot by Baylor. The Bears simply rolled over winless Kansas by a 66-7 margin.

The Bears were 46-point road favorites in this game, according to ESPN.com, but it was simply not enough as Baylor rolled to a 52-7 lead before they rested their starters in the second half. 

Baylor running back Shock Linwood carried 13 times for 135 yards and one touchdown, while quarterback Seth Russell completed 18 of 27 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns.



Stars of the Week

QB Chad Kelly, Ole Miss

The Rebels figured to have an easy time with winless New Mexico State, and they rolled over the Aggies by a 52-3 margin.

It was an important game for No. 14 Ole Miss because the Rebels were coming off a 38-10 loss against Florida last week. Ole Miss was back on its game early in the first quarter, and Kelly was the main reason.

He completed 24-of-33 passes for 384 yards with three touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception. Kelly's first TD pass was a 66-yarder to Markell Pack early in the second quarter that helped give the Rebels a 24-3 lead. He also threw two scoring passes to Laquon Treadwell in the third quarter. Ole Miss Spirit's Ben Garrett shared Kelly's comments regarding Treadwell's "one-handed grab":

Chad Kelly, on Laquon Treadwell's one-handed grab: “That’s Laquon Treadwell for you. He’s a Top 5 pick next year in the NFL Draft.”

— Ben Garrett (@SpiritBen) October 10, 2015


RB Jordan Canzeri, Iowa

The 22nd-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes continue to open eyes around the Big Ten as they pulled out a 29-20 victory over Illinois.

The Illini was quite competitive in Iowa City as quarterback Wes Lunt threw for 317 yards to help keep his team in the game. However, Hawkeye running back Jordan Canzeri was not about to let the Illini steal his thunder.

The 5'9", 192-pound running back showed off his strength as he dominated the game with a school-record 43 carries for 256 yards and a touchdown.

Canzeri had 11 consecutive carries in the fourth quarter when the Hawkeyes were chewing up the clock and attempting to put the game away. 

"I thought what he did was really special," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said after the game (h/t ESPN). "Certainly in the fourth quarter. That was just a special effort." ESPN's Matt Bowen was impressed by Canzeri's performance:

What a day for #Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri...256 yards on 43 carries. That's putting in work. Love his vision with the ball.

— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) October 10, 2015


RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

Powerful LSU running back Leonard Fournette looked nearly unstoppable as the Tigers rolled past weather-weary South Carolina 45-24.

Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks were supposed to play LSU at home, but brutal floods forced South Carolina to play this game in Baton Rouge. Fournette ran with authority throughout the game and probably would have dominated no matter where the game was played.

Fournette did most of his damage in the first three quarters as he carried 20 times for 158 yards, and that included an 87-yard TD run less than one minute into the second half.

The Heisman Trophy contender was not the only Tigers running back to cause big problems for the Gamecocks. Derrius Guice carried 16 times for 161 yards and a touchdown, and Darrel Williams had 10 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns.


Michigan defense

The 18th-ranked Michigan Wolverines were supposed to get tested as the undefeated and 13th-ranked Northwestern visited Ann Arbor. But instead of a knock-down, drag-out battle between two defensive titans, it was basically a one-punch knockout. 

The Wolverines scored on Jehu Chesson's 96-yard kickoff return to open the game, and they imposed their will on the Wildcats throughout the game and rolled to a 38-0 victory. It was the Wolverines' third consecutive shutout, something that Michigan had not accomplished since 1980.

In addition to shutting down Northwestern's offense, defensive back Jourdan Lewis picked off a pass late in the second quarter and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. Bob Wojnowski highlighted Jabrill Peppers' presence on the Michigan defense as a significant "difference" from last year:

Michigan defense is punishing. One big difference from last year: Jabrill Peppers, as physical as a DB can be.

— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) October 10, 2015 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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

Navy was able to keep things close through the entire first half, but Notre Dame used some great defensive adjustments in the second half to secure an impressive victory against the Midshipmen.

Navy scored just three points in the second half as the Fighting Irish added 17 points en route to a 41-24 victory.

C.J. Prosise put together another great performance in both the running and receiving game, and quarterback DeShone Kizer was efficient throughout the game.  With the Irish putting together a complete team victory, Notre Dame heads into its matchup with USC next week full of confidence.

Let's break down each facet of today's win in our report card for the Fighting Irish.

Here is the box score from today's game, per NCAA.com.


Pass Offense

Last week, DeShone Kizer came out against Clemson and consistently missed his receivers high.  Today, Kizer made some nice adjustments, even after missing his first few throws low.

By the end of the first half, Kizer had found 15 of his 23 targets for 204 yards and a touchdown.  In the end, he finished 22-of-30 for 281 yards as the Irish shifted to the run game pretty heavily as the lead increased after halftime.

The Irish also got C.J. Prosise into the passing game a little more, showing us some of what made him such a great target in the past.  Prosise translated his four receptions into 56 yards.


Run Offense

Prosise was also back to his spectacular ways in the running game, carrying the ball 21 times for 129 yards and three touchdowns.

After struggling last week in the rain against Clemson, Prosise rebounded with solid running and his usual elusive agility that gave the Navy defense fits all afternoon.  Even when he was hit, Prosise continued to show that he's one of the most difficult players to tackle in the nation.

Josh Adams also had a number of nice runs today, showing that the Irish running game doesn't have to be "all Prosise, all the time."  Adams had 38 yards on eight carries.


Pass Defense

It's hard to give a pass defense much of a grade when the opposition only throws the ball six times.  However, one of those six passes was picked off by Elijah Shumate.

There's not much to go over here, but we're not going to penalize the secondary for doing a nice job on the few occasions they were called upon this afternoon.


Run Defense

Navy ran 55 offensive plays today, and 49 of them were run plays (or credited as running plays).

We knew coming in that Navy was a running team, and we knew that this game would hinge on Notre Dame's ability to shut down Navy's triple-option attack.  Through two quarters, Navy had already racked up 239 yards and three touchdowns via the option attack.

Luckily for Irish fans, Notre Dame was able to make some solid adjustments after halftime.  Sheldon Day made multiple plays in the Navy backfield to put the Midshipmen behind the chains, and Navy was forced into uncomfortable situations for most of the second half.

The Irish limited Navy to 79 second-half rushing yards and just three points.  That will doom Navy every single time, as it did today.


Special Teams

Notre Dame hasn't always had the world's greatest kicking game, but today, Justin Yoon showed us some of the great abilities he has.  Yoon kicked the third-longest field goal in Notre Dame history, knocking through a 52-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give Notre Dame a slim 24-21 halftime lead.

Yoon added another field goal in the second half, and was perfect on his five extra-point attempts.



As previously mentioned, Notre Dame made some great halftime adjustments to turn this game into a tale of two halves.  In a close, hard-fought first half, Notre Dame gave up 21 points and 245 yards to the Midshipmen.

After halftime, however, the Irish defense came out and absolutely shut down Navy's attack.  The Midshipmen found just 95 yards and three points.

Brian Kelly and Brian VanGorder did something that all great and successful coaches can do: make game-winning adjustments on the fly to turn a tight game into a comfortable victory.

We were hard on the Irish coaching staff following some questionable decisions in last week's loss to Clemson.  It's only fair that we reward them for great decisions today.


Unless otherwise noted, quotes or references to quotes were obtained first-hand by the writer.

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Leonard Fournette vs. South Carolina: Stats, Highlights and Reaction

Use whatever word you would like. Whether it be mastery, command, domination or superiority, there's no denying that LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette has taken college football by storm this season. 

Entering his fifth contest of the year Saturday against the South Carolina Gamecocks, the sophomore had recorded three consecutive games in which he rushed for over 200 yards. 

The Gamecocks proved to be Fournette's next victim. Here's a look at his stats from LSU's 45-24 win Saturday:

It was a slow start for Fournette, who recorded just 59 yards in the first half. Of course, if he had replicated that output in the second half, he would have finished the day with 118 rushing yards, a number many running backs would take.

But when speaking about Fournette, who has been bruising his way through defenses all season, that number seems low. Luckily for college football fans, he didn't stay quiet for long. 

On his second touch of the second half, Fournette came alive, as ESPN showed:

The 87-yard score not only put LSU up 24-10, but it also put Fournette over the 1,000-yard mark for the season in less than five full games. According to LSU's official Twitter account, he is the fastest Tigers player to reach 1,000 yards in school history and officially has 1,022 through five complete games.

Also catching passes out of the backfield, Fournette had 183 total yards, compared to South Carolina's 189, by the end of the third quarter. His performance had Bleacher Report's Matt Miller on the cusp of breaking his personal rules:

As a sophomore, Fournette is not eligible for the NFL draft until 2017, something that Newsweek's John Walters called "un-American."

Fournette did not see much time on the field after the third quarter as LSU's win was in hand. As a result, he was unable to reach the 200-yard mark for the fourth consecutive game. He would've been the first FBS player to do so since Matt Forte at Tulane in 2007, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Fournette's time on the sideline also ensured that he wouldn't end the game as LSU's leading rusher. Freshman Derrius Guice came in and recorded 164 yards on 17 carries. 

Even though it's just Week 6 of the college football season, it already seems like we are watching the coronation of Fournette's Heisman Trophy-winning year. With six games remaining on LSU's schedule, it might not be far-fetched to start thinking about Barry Sanders' single-season rushing record of 2,628 yards in 1988.


Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Northwestern vs. Michigan: Game Grades, Analysis for the Wolverines

Jehu Chesson returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, and the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines proceeded to whip the No. 13 Northwestern Wildcats 38-0 on Saturday.

Drake Johnson, Jake Rudock and Derrick Green each tallied a rushing score. Jourdan Lewis added a pick-six, and the Wolverines rolled to a dominating win.

Pass Offense: Although Rudock didn't need to do much behind center, the senior avoided a mistake for only the second time all season. He finished 17-of-23 overall, connecting with A.J. Williams four times for 48 yards as well as Jake Butt thrice for 40 yards.

Run Offense: The running game didn't have an explosive outing, but the ball-carriers notched 11 first downs and 4.4 yards per carry. De'Veon Smith, who returned after missing the Maryland game because of injury, led the team with 59 yards. Michigan burned Karan Higdon's redshirt, so the freshman could occupy a small yet regular role moving forward.

Pass Defense: Once again, the secondary locked down the opposing receivers. No Wildcat managed more than two catches, and Northwestern's trio of quarterbacks combined for 3.9 yards per attempt. Lewis continued his All-American-caliber season with an interception and a couple of pass breakups. Michigan also tallied four sacks.

Run Defense: The Wildcats' Justin Jackson entered the day boasting an average of 127.2 yards per game, but the Wolverines limited the oft-bruising back to a meager 25 yards. Michigan eliminated Northwestern's speed-option looks en route to ceding an average gain of 1.5 yards on 25 carries. The defense should be ranked in the top three nationally against the run following the weekend.

Special Teams: Chesson exploded for the 96-yarder on his first kick return of the season, and his touchdown sparked a stellar—and eye-opening—performance from the Wolverines. Kenny Allen drilled a career-long 47-yard field goal as well as five extra points. Blake O'Neill placed three punts inside the 20.

Coaching: Writers might run out of superlatives for head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin throughout the upcoming week. The defense recorded its third consecutive shutout, which hadn't happened at the program in 35 years. Harbaugh has turned Michigan into a team that nobody looks forward to playing. Already.


Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Northwestern vs. Michigan: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The Michigan Wolverines' ascent under head coach Jim Harbaugh continued in a huge way Saturday at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as the No. 18 Wolverines handed the No. 13 Northwestern Wildcats their first loss of the season in a 38-0 blowout.

The Wildcats entered the game with a 5-0 record and the best scoring defense in the nation among FBS teams, allowing seven points per contest, but Michigan's defense took center stage as it registered its third consecutive shutout, per Michigan Football on Twitter:

According to Michael Spath of TheWolverine.com, this marks the first time since 1980 that the Wolverines have accomplished the feat. Also, per SportsCenter, no FBS team has posted three straight shutouts since the dominant Alabama defense of 2012:

Michigan improved to 5-1 on the year and 2-0 in Big Ten play, which allowed it to keep pace with No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan State in the East Division.

Michigan outgained Northwestern 380-168 in terms of total yardage and forced the Wildcats to punt eight times. Also, while he didn't need to do much, Michigan senior quarterback Jake Rudock was efficient to the tune of 17-of-23 passing for 179 yards.

The Wolverines had reeled off four dominant wins in a row ahead of Saturday's game, and it became apparent from the start that they were in line to score another one against the Wildcats.

Northwestern's opening kickoff was four yards short of the end zone, and senior wide receiver Jehu Chesson made the Wildcats pay by taking it 96 yards to the house, helping put Michigan on top 7-0 just 13 seconds into the game. Michigan on BTN shared the footage:

After forcing the Wildcats into a quick three-and-out, Michigan struck again on its first offensive possession as senior running back Drake Johnson finished off a seven-play drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge.

As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, Northwestern was likely shell-shocked after its defensive success in the previous five games:

Northwestern junior kicker Jack Mitchell missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt on the next drive, which put the ball back in the hands of Rudock and Michigan.

The Wolverines made the Wildcats pay once again with a six-play, 75-yard drive in just over three minutes that resulted in Rudock keeping the ball for a one-yard touchdown run with 2:35 remaining in the first quarter.

Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports put Michigan's 21-0 advantage into perspective:

Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press pointed out another accolade the Wolverines picked up against the previously impenetrable Northwestern defense:

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports couldn't help but marvel at how much of a difference Harbaugh has made at his alma mater in such a short period of time:

Northwestern desperately tried to get things going late in the first half with the 21-point deficit still in place, but that led to a miscue deep in its own territory.

Freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson attempted to find junior wide receiver Mike McHugh down the sidelines and initially appeared to have a completion, but it was wrestled away by junior cornerback Jourdan Lewis and returned 37 yards for a score, helping Michigan take a 28-0 lead.

As seen in this video from Michigan on BTN, Lewis made a remarkable play to come away with the football:

Perhaps it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, though, since Lewis ranks as the No. 1 cornerback in college football, per Pro Football Focus.

The Wildcats were already facing an uphill climb, but that pick-six sealed their fate ahead of halftime.

Here is a look at the first-half statistical breakdown, courtesy of the Big Ten Network on Twitter:

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald's locker-room pep talk didn't seem to work as the Wildcats again punted on their first drive, while Michigan answered with a 47-yard field goal from senior kicker Kenny Allen to make it 31-0 less than five minutes into the third quarter.

Ever the perfectionist, Harbaugh was into the game even with his team ahead by an insurmountable margin, as seen in this Vine, courtesy of Barstool Sports:

While Michigan's performance was nearly perfect Saturday, there was one negative in the third quarter, as senior linebacker James Ross was flagged for targeting and ejected from the game after a hit on Northwestern senior fullback Dan Vitale.

Per Larry Lage of the Associated Press, that means Ross will have to sit out for the first half of next week's game against rival Michigan State.

The Wolverines pressed on without Ross, though, and put an exclamation point on their victory with just 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter when junior running back Derrick Green rushed for the team's fifth and final touchdown of the day to help make it 38-0.

That allowed Michigan's defense to finish off the shutout and preserve an emphatic victory over a Big Ten rival.

ESPN's Mike Greenberg doesn't believe Harbaugh can possibly be given enough credit for what the Michigan football program has become in 2015:

Michigan entered the season with the expectation of improvement under Harbaugh, but few figured the Wolverines would become major players in the Big Ten immediately.

After catching wind of what happened in Ann Arbor, however, New York Times bestselling sports author John U. Bacon speculated that Ohio State and Michigan State may have started to take notice:

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network believes those three teams could be in for a long run of success, largely because of the men who are in charge on the sidelines:

There were plenty of question marks surrounding Michigan following its season-opening 24-17 loss to Utah, but now that the Utes look to be a great team and the Wolverines are rolling, that defeat isn't anything to be embarrassed about.

Michigan conquered its first major challenge in the Big Ten on Saturday, but things will get tougher moving forward as it will play the Spartans next week and face off against Penn State and Ohio State in its final two games of the regular season.

The Wolverines have been dominant defensively and efficient offensively, which gives them a chance to potentially vie for a spot in the College Football Playoff, although the road ahead will be a difficult one.

They handled what was supposed to be a strong Northwestern team with relative ease, and while the Wildcats' viability is now in question, there is little doubt that Michigan is a force to be reckoned with in major college football.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The 2015 Heisman Trophy Is Leonard Fournette's to Lose

Ho hum, just another typical effort from LSU star running back Leonard Fournette in the Tigers' 45-24 win over South Carolina on Saturday afternoon in Death Valley.

And by "typical," I mean another huge game, a terrifying display of skills and another stamp on the race to win the Heisman Trophy.

The sophomore stud for the Tigers rushed for 158 yards and a score, and added three catches for 25 yards on the afternoon.

That stamp came on the second play of the second half, when Fournette took off up the middle. He ran 87 yards and away from the South Carolina defense and into the college football record books.

"Just couldn't get caught," he said of his 87-yard scamper on ESPN's broadcast. "That was the only thing on my mind. Just don't get caught from behind."

He's also running away from the pack in the race for the 2015 Heisman Trophy.

With apologies to Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Baylor signal-caller Seth Russell and TCU's Trevone Boykin, Fournette is on the brink of bucking the trend and becoming just the third non-quarterback since the turn of the century to take home college football's most prestigious award.

As CBSSports.com's Tom Fornelli noted on Twitter, Fournette's biggest Heisman enemy could be the fact that he peaked too early.

That's assuming, though, that he's reached his peak through five games. While the insane rushing total suggests that the ceiling is near, there's not much to suggest he'll slow down even if SEC defenses are almost forced to bring everybody up in the box at all times. 

It takes an incredibly special season for a running back to mount a legitimate challenge for the Heisman—which typically goes to quarterbacks who put up video game numbers for teams that, at the very least, are contenders for their conference titles.

At 5-0, LSU satisfies that last part of the equation. 

The first two parts, though, are happening all around college football.

It doesn't matter, because Fournette won't let it matter.

His fifth-straight sensational performance on the ground on a team that's decidedly one-dimensional by necessity cancels out anything those quarterbacks are doing and has Fournette on the brink of legend status.

Breaking the 1,000-yard mark in four-and-a-half games isn't just video game good, it's video game glitch good. The entire South Carolina defense—and every defense that has faced and will face the Tigers this year—know No. 7 is getting the ball, and it just doesn't matter.

On top of that, he has established himself as one of the most humble players in college football. 

The New Orleans-native lived through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and knows the pain the people of South Carolina are going through following the flooding that occurred this week in the Palmetto State and forced this game to move from Columbia, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As a result, he read a heartfelt message to the people of the state on ESPN after the game, and announced that his game jersey will be auctioned off to raise money for South Carolina flood victims.

That's who Fournette is—one of the good guys on the field and off it.

He was the Heisman front-runner prior to his sprint over, around and through South Carolina. After, he should be considered the de facto winner barring an unforeseen circumstance that keeps him out of action.

College football's most prestigious award is his to lose, and there's no sign that he's going to lose it.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami vs. Florida State: Live Score and Highlights

Rivals are set to collide Saturday night as No. 12 Florida State (4-0) hosts Miami (3-1) under the lights in Doak Campbell Stadium.

The Seminoles are looking for a win to maintain their step ahead of Clemson in the Atlantic Division while the Hurricanes are hoping to kick off their conference slate with a win.

Game action is set to kick off in Tallahassee, Florida, at approximately 8:15 p.m. ET on ABC.

We’ll be watching the matchup, providing live analysis as the action unfolds:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida vs. Missouri: Live Score and Highlights

Looking to break into the Associated Press Top 10, the No. 11 Florida Gators hit the road to take on the scrappy Missouri Tigers on Saturday.

Fresh off a big win over the Ole Miss Rebels, the Gators now have to live up to lofty expectations. Quarterback Will Grier was fantastic in the win over the Rebels, and the redshirt freshman's ability to keep a steady hand will dictate Florida's place in the big picture.

If Grier can do that in this one, it should be a breeze for the Gators. With true freshman Drew Lock now running the show, the Tigers offense has struggled early in the season. He'll need the defense to step up; otherwise, this game could get ugly.

Coverage of Saturday's matchup begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. Follow this page throughout for live updates and analysis. Then be sure to stick around for game grades for both teams' positional units.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Leonard Fournette 10th RB in FBS History to Run for 1,000 Yards in 5 Games

LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette rushed his way into the history books in Saturday’s matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks, becoming the 10th running back in FBS history to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in the first five games of the season, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Fournette, the current Heisman Trophy favorite on Odds Shark, also became the fastest player in school history to reach the benchmark, according to Ross Dellenger of the Advocate

In distinctive fashion, the standout sophomore set the record on an 87-yard touchdown run with 14 minutes and 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter, as shown by Michael Shamburger of The Big Lead:

Fournette has catapulted undefeated LSU into the Top 10 and has it poised for a run at the College Football Playoff. Entering Saturday, the No. 7 Tigers ranked first in the Southeastern Conference in rushing (334.0 yards per game) but dead last in passing (95.5 yards per game). 

As a highly touted freshman, Fournette needed a combined 289 yards over the Tigers’ final two games to eclipse 1,000 yards, according to Sports-Reference.com. However, Scott Rabalais of the Advocate highlighted just how rapid Fournette’s ascension has been.

What’s scary for the rest of the SEC is that this prodigy has at least one more year in Baton Rouge before he is eligible for the NFL draft. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arkansas vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

Alabama 3, Arkansas 0 — Early 1st quarter

The Alabama Crimson Tide have welcomed a SEC West foe to Bryant-Denny Stadium for a Saturday night battle, facing the surging Arkansas Razorbacks.

Take a look below for live updates from Alabama-Arkansas.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Drew Ott Injury: Updates on Iowa DE's Torn ACL and Recovery

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive end Drew Ott suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in Saturday’s 29-20 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini, according to Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  

Continue for updates.  

Ott Reportedly Tore ACL in Win Over IllinoisSaturday, October 10

Ott suffered the injury on a non-contact occurrence late in the third quarter, according to Steven Elonich of the Omaha World-Herald, and had to be helped off the field following an Illinois punt. 

Elonich reported that upon returning to the sideline, Ott was on crutches with his right knee taped with ice. Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register said that the injury didn’t prevent the senior from maintaining his role as one of Iowa’s team leaders.

Ott hyperextended his elbow earlier in the season, according to Elonich, but returned to full strength in Week 5’s 10-6 win over the Wisconsin Badgers.

With Ott likely lost for the year, No. 22 Iowa will have to look for others on the defensive line to fill the void of leadership and athleticism that he offered. He posted four sacks and three forced fumbles, according to the school’s athletic site

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oklahoma Football: Did Loss to Texas Crush the Sooners' Playoff Dreams?

Oklahoma had authored one of the best stories of the 2015 college football season, turning 2014’s 8-5 disappointment into a 4-0 record and Top 10 ranking entering Saturday’s Red River Rivalry showdown against Texas.

The Sooners can still have a special season with quarterback Baker Mayfield at the helm, but the disappointing 24-17 loss to the Longhorns ends the Sooners’ hopes of making a run at the College Football Playoff.

College football is topsy-turvy, and this season has shown that anything can happen (as proven by the four Top 10 teams that fell in Week 5), but the difficult, nine-game Big 12 slate leaves no room for error.

League rivals Baylor and TCU can attest to that. A year ago, both teams finished with one loss (Baylor defeated TCU 61-58 and West Virginia dealt the Bears a 41-27 defeat), but both were left on the outside looking in when the dust settled on the four-team College Football Playoff field.

While we only have one year of history to draw on with the CFP selection committee, recent history doesn’t smile kindly on multiple-loss teams. Since 2010, when the final regular-season poll featured three undefeated teams (Auburn, Oregon and TCU, then of the Mountain West Conference), the final poll has featured exactly one undefeated team entering the postseason, and no two-loss teams in the top four.

Oklahoma’s remaining schedule is unforgiving, too. Next week brings a trip to a gritty Kansas State team, followed by a visit from Mayfield’s old team, high-powered Texas Tech. And the Sooners still have a pair of Top 5 teams with Baylor (Nov. 14) and TCU (Nov. 28) left on the schedule.

Mayfield has been a revelation as the Sooners’ new starting quarterback. Entering Saturday, he had 1,382 yards passing with 13 touchdowns against three interceptions, completing 65.2 percent of his passes. Even while struggling at times against the Longhorns, he was efficient, completing 20 of 28 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown.

He showed grit leading the Sooners from a 24-10 deficit to within a touchdown with eight minutes left, but it wasn’t enough. Texas’ defense also contained dynamic backfield duo Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, holding them to 60 combined yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

That kind of offensive production just won’t be enough against the high-octane Baylor, Texas Tech or TCU offenses. A year ago, the Bears and Horned Frogs combined to put up 85 points on the Sooner defense.

Oklahoma’s pass defense held Texas to 55 passing yards Saturday, but the Sooner secondary has been a liability. While it is improved from a year ago, OU entered this week allowing 203.3 passing yards per game, No. 51 nationally.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech entered this week with the nation’s top passing offense, rolling up 423.4 yards per game. TCU was No. 4 with 396.4 yards, and Baylor was No. 8 with 368.5 yards. The Bears, Horned Frogs and Red Raiders were 1-2-3 in national scoring offense, piling up 63.8, 50.8 and 50 points per game, respectively.

That’s a huge warning sign for OU’s defense.

The Sooners have the talent to threaten for the Big 12 title, and they should be taken seriously by every opponent. But a College Football Playoff run doesn’t seem to be in the cards this season, given the tough slate ahead and historical precedent.


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

TCU vs. Kansas State: Live Score and Highlights

No. 2 TCU Horned Frogs vs. Kansas State Wildcats

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET


The No. 2 TCU Horned Frogs, led by Heisman contender Trevone Boykin, are coming off their rout of the Texas Longhorns, the perfect response to a near disaster of a letdown at the hands of Texas Tech two weeks ago. 

Now, Boykin and Co. are tasked with heading to the Little Apple, where they hope to upend the always-pesky Kansas State Wildcats, helmed by the wizard himself, Bill Snyder. 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas, Charlie Strong's Future Riding on the Legs and Arm of Jerrod Heard

The hot seat rumors around Charlie Strong quieted down this week, even after a blowout loss to TCU and some Twitter controversies.

On Saturday, his Texas team flat-out silenced that chatter with a 24-17 upset victory over undefeated No. 10 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. 

The huge rivalry win was led by the two figures that will ultimately determine Strong's future successes with the Longhorns—an aggressive young defense and redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard.

With the defense clamping down on a high-powered Sooners attack, Heard paved the way for Texas on offense with strong running and efficiency on his few chances through the air.

The freshman was second on the team in rushing attempts and yardage Saturday, finishing with 115 yards. Ten of his 21 carries against the Sooners went for first downs.

Heard combined with former starter Tyrone Swoopes, who scored two touchdowns in a highly successful power package, to create a deadly rushing attack against Oklahoma.

According to Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World, Heard and his teammates had a more successful performance on the ground Saturday than Vince Young had 10 years ago against a young Oklahoma defense:

For Heard, the win over Oklahoma showcased the improvement he's made in just a few games. 

He had already played in a few high-profile games for Texas, but none was bigger than the matchup against Oklahoma—the early kickoff between college football blue-bloods that always commands national attention.

And even though it was only his second victory as the Longhorns starting quarterback, Heard played like the winner Texas knew it was getting when he signed with the program last year.

After all, the former 4-star won back-to-back state championships in high school. On Saturday, Heard did what an in-state star quarterback is supposed to do in Texas—lead the Longhorns to big wins.

Heard didn't get rattled and didn't turn the ball over against an attacking Oklahoma defense. Although his biggest pass of the day was essentially a forward handoff to Marcus Johnson that went for a touchdown, Heard had his best performance in terms of pass accuracy all season with eight completions on 11 attempts.

The freshman's final passing stat line won't blow anyone away on first glance, but it did the job as he and the Longhorns excelled on the ground.

More importantly, it showed tremendous calm and leadership for a young quarterback playing in his first rivalry game against Oklahoma. As Wescott Eberts of Burnt Orange Nation noted, Heard especially came through for Texas on the final drive of the game.

"Heard managed the game beautifully down the stretch and iced the game with a key 14-yard run to help run the final 3:33 off the clock, setting off a wild and deserved celebration that featured a Gatorade bath for Strong and a brief stint crowd surfing on the shoulders of his ecstatic players," Eberts wrote.

Over the last few weeks, through all the challenges and frustrations facing this Texas program, Heard has become an emotional leader for a team that needed one.

He's improving week by week as a starting quarterback and a key figure for this transitioning Longhorn offense. By doing just that, he's proving that Strong and his staff made the right choice by hitching their collective wagons to Heard.

"Saturday provided the most resounding, positive answer of Strong's tenure, going well beyond the final score," Sports on Earth's Kyle Kensing wrote. "Look at which Longhorns stepped up: one underclassmen after another... Heard, a redshirt freshman, ran the offense with veteran poise."

The move to Heard wasn't necessarily the easier decision for Texas, as Swoopes had the experience edge a young team could lean on in 2015.

But the Longhorns went with the exciting potential of Heard and still found a way to keep Swoopes involved in the offense.

As a freshman, Heard will continue to improve in several areas throughout the rest of the season and lead the Longhorns in the fight to get to a bowl game that the senior class desperately wants.

Saturday's performance for Heard was something the entire Texas program can build on for the rest of 2015 and beyond. 

One big game in an upset performance doesn't define an entire season, but it should turn a lot of things around for Strong.


Game statistics courtesy of StatBroadcast. Unless otherwise noted, other statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Did Urban Meyer Finally Figure out His QB Conundrum in Win over Maryland?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It may have taken six games to do so, but Urban Meyer finally appeared to find an answer for Ohio State's quarterback conundrum in the Buckeyes' 49-28 win over Maryland on Saturday.

And it doesn't involve choosing one guy over the other.

After stating earlier in the week that he had spent an "inordinate" amount of time debating situationally subbing backup J.T. Barrett for starter Cardale Jones to help cure the Buckeyes' recent red-zone woes, Meyer wasted little time putting words into action. Upon reaching the Terrapins' 25-yard line on Ohio State's second offensive drive, the Buckeyes head coach pulled Jones in favor of Barrett, who found wide receiver Michael Thomas for a 20-yard pass before capping off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run.

Barrett ultimately accounted for 88 yards and three touchdowns on the day, but Meyer's decision to sprinkle him into the game plan didn't only seem to benefit the reigning Big Ten Quarterback of the Year. Jones responded to his reduction in playing time with the best statistical day of his career, completing 21 of his 28 attempts for a career best 291 yards and two touchdowns—and perhaps most importantly, no interceptions.

After five weeks of uncertainty—which included a couple of in-game benchings of Jones—Meyer appears to have settled on a system that will involve both of his high-profile quarterbacks, even if he's not willing to call it a final solution just yet.

"Sure. Until next week," Meyer answered with a smile when asked if Jones and Barrett will each continue to play for the remainder of the season. "The attention to this thing, I'm exhausted from it."

It wasn't quite the Chris Leak-Tim Tebow combination that Meyer used during his 2006 national championship season at Florida, but the Buckeyes' version of a two-QB system still managed to highlight both Jones and Barrett in different capacities. While Jones connected downfield with touchdown tosses of 19 and 48 yards, Barrett cleaned up inside the red zone, rushing for three touchdowns on the day.

After entering the weekend with the nation's 108th-ranked red-zone offense, Ohio State converted each of its six opportunities inside of Maryland's 20-yard line—all six scores coming by way of touchdown.

That was perhaps the biggest factor that went into Meyer's decision to give increased playing time to Barrett, who offers more dual-threat ability than the 6'5", 250-pound Jones.

"We've been having some red zone issues and the [QB] run—everything condenses so much in there. Either you have to be extremely accurate, which we're going to continue to work at that in the throwing game—or the run game, you have to somehow find an extra hat. That's only done a couple of ways, that's option football or Q run to equate numbers," Meyer said. "[Barrett] provided an obvious spark for us in there."

Jones, for his part, said he didn't have an issue with the quarterback playing time being divided, even though both he and Barrett said in the preseason that they had concerns with a potential two-quarterback system messing with their respective rhythms. That didn't seem to be the case on Saturday, however, as both players contributed to the Buckeyes' cause.

"It was all in the coaches' plan to win. He felt like J.T. would bring an extra element to the game down in the red zone and with certain things in the run game," Jones said. "He proved to be right."

It wasn't the only wrinkle that Ohio State had in its game plan for the Terrapins, as the Buckeyes reimplemented the uptempo "turbo" pace that had been missing from their offense for the better part of the first five weeks of the season. That was particularly evident on Jones' first touchdown throw of the game, a 19-yard strike to Braxton Miller that came mere moments after he found Miller for a 33-yard throw in the second quarter.

After the game, Meyer revealed that he decided to speed his team's pace back up after watching former OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman's Houston team beat SMU on Thursday night with an offensive approach that looked like everything the Buckeyes had been missing in recent weeks.

"It was a little old school," Meyer said. "I watched Houston play the other night and they had that tempo."

But as it usually does, the conversation about the Ohio State offense came back to the quarterbacks, with Meyer explaining that a signal-caller playing at that pace would ideally possess more of a threat with his legs than Jones does. That doesn't mean he's not capable of running the same offense, but it does help to have a player who can move the chains multiple ways like Barrett can on call.

"Cardale can, that's not his niche, but we kind of had him going there for a little bit with the tempo, going as fast as we can," Meyer said. "And we have a nice set of little plays that are built kind of for Braxton and J.T. I know J.T. obviously can throw it well too. So we're going to keep tinkering with that thing."

So far, so good, at least as far as Saturday's version of Meyer's two-quarterback system is concerned. The defending national champion's toughest stretch of the season is still ahead of it, but the Buckeyes seem to have found their first successful solution for a quarterback controversy that's lasted nearly 10 months.

Until next week, that is.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jake Fromm to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 4-Star QB Prospect

Alabama head coach Nick Saban already has added another key piece to his 2017 recruiting class, landing star quarterback Jake Fromm to his list of incoming talent. 

According to Hank South of BamaOnline.com, Fromm announced his decision Saturday while on an unofficial visit for the Crimson Tide's game against Arkansas. 

Fromm is the Tide’s first quarterback taken in the cycle and the eighth overall commitment in the class. Fromm was recruited by offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. The Peach State quarterback was offered by the staff in April after an unofficial visit and recently visited campus for the Ole Miss game.

Fromm described the environment at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Mississippi-Alabama game as "incredible" in the report. 

According to 247Sports' official scouting report, he is listed at 6'3" and 220 pounds, is rated a 4-star pro-style quarterback and is the No. 9 player at the position in the 2017 recruiting class. 

Per 247Sports' team rankings, the addition of Fromm moves Alabama into the second spot, behind Ohio State, with eight commitments all rated 4-stars or better thus far. 

The addition of Fromm is also significant for the Crimson Tide because they have questions at quarterback right now. Jake Coker has been erratic this season after taking over for Blake Sims. The team does have dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts arriving next year, but Saban's offense has traditionally favored a pocket passer. 

While Fromm's arrival is off in the distance for Alabama fans, few head coaches in the country are better at building future depth than Saban. He's been able to address a key position early and can use that to sell other high-profile skill position players on what this offense will look like soon. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oklahoma vs. Texas: Game Grades, Analysis for Sooners and Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns finally found some life.

Down and counted out all week, Charlie Strong's team was all over the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners, taking the Red River Rivalry crown by a 24-17 margin.

Texas' defense, which gave up 50 points to TCU last week, was the story of this one. The Horns pounded Baker Mayfield all afternoon, sacking the Sooner quarterback six times. Mayfield showed well with 211 passing yards and a touchdown, but he had to work for every inch.

On offense, it was all about the run game for Texas. The Horns threw only 12 passes; instead, they ran right at the Sooners 58 times for 313 yards. D'Onta Foreman and quarterback Jerrod Heard led the way, combining for 232 yards on 30 carries.

This team has a lot of work to do, but Strong's seat just got a lot cooler in Austin.


Grade Analysis for the Sooners

Passing Offense

Mayfield played a really tough game, shaking off multiple big hits to keep the Sooners in the game. However, his offensive line was terrible from the start and was actually tipping plays for most of the day. This group can expect to see a lot of blitzes moving forward. SB Nation CFB posed a "play-at-home" question for fans, asking whether the Sooners would run or pass during the rivalry matchup: 


Rushing Offense

Samaje Perine was good when he got a chance, which wasn't often. His 14-yard scamper on a fourth-quarter 3rd-and-11 saved the team from a double-digit loss. He and Joe Mixon should never combine for less than 20 carries.

Overall, the 37 rushes for 67 yards was a brutal showing due to Mayfield's sack yardage. 


Passing Defense

Texas stayed away from the pass all day, but this group did a decent job pressuring Heard when he did try to throw. When they didn't get to him, he easily broke contain and broke off big chunks of yardage.


Rushing Defense

When you give up 313 yards on 58 carries, you fail. Texas came out and punched the Sooners in the mouth from the onset, never letting up. This defense just didn't feel like tackling all day.


Special Teams

Alex Ross' fumble, the game's only turnover, after Texas' first score is probably the difference in this game. The Longhorns turned that into a touchdown to grab a 14-point lead, which allowed them to stick to the run and play with a lead all game.



You're kidding right, Bob Stoops? Prior to this game, Texas had scored seven points in five quarters and recorded seven sacks all year. The Horns put up 14 in the first frame alone and piled on six sacks in this one, in large part due to the fact that the linemen were tipping plays. Coach Stoops admitted that the Longhorns simply outplayed his team (via Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman):

When you're much more talented than your opponent, which the Sooners still are, you have to get the job done. This team wasn't interested in doing that, and this coaching staff shoulders the blame for that failure.


Grade Analysis for the Longhorns

Passing Offense

Nothing really to judge here, as the big "pass" of the day was a forward handoff to Marcus Johnson for the touchdown. Tyrone Swoopes also lobbed an easy touchdown to Caleb Bluiett to help put the Horns up 24-10.


Rushing Offense

This was a complete effort from the Longhorns. The running backs ran tough, Heard did a great job finding space and the blocking was outstanding. Speaking of great job, Foreman had an impressive 81-yard run, his longest of the day, which the Big 12 Conference highlighted:

Heard and Foreman were both over 100 yards, each for the second time this season. Foreman's 81-yarder from inside the Texas 10-yard line should go down as the play of the season, as it set up the touchdown that wound up being the deciding score.


Passing Defense

Where has this been? The Longhorns almost doubled their season-long total with six sacks of Baker Mayfield, including freshman Malik Jefferson's two-sack performance. The two takedowns on Oklahoma's final drive sealed the Horns upset. Courtesy of ESPN, Lone Star Radio noted the Horns' six-sack performance, breaking down the individual sack stats:

Coverage continues to be spotty, especially from the upperclassmen, but it got the job done.


Rushing Defense

The Sooners bailed out the Horns by refusing to run Perine and Mixon, especially when Hassan Ridgeway left the game. To give credit where it's due, the entire team stepped it up in the tackling department, playing with a real edge all day.


Special Teams

Kevin Vaccaro's forced fumble on Ross ended up being the difference in the game, and coverage was excellent. DeShon Elliott delivered some big hits in his debut.

The kicking game was the best it's been in weeks, though Nick Rose looked really shaky on his 27-yard field goal. Perhaps freshman punter Michael Dickson is finally figuring it out.



You can't say enough about the job this staff did. With the youth, locker-room issues and outside noise pointing toward a blowout, Strong got his team ready to fight. The Longhorns delivered and got him the signature win he needed over a Top 10 team. Malik Jefferson commented on the "special relationship" Coach Strong has with his players (via Sean Adams of InsideTexas.com):

It never should have been in serious question, but this victory will keep Strong safe for the rest of the year. His guys laid it out there for him, and the young players looked really good once again. He deserved a win like this.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Fumbles at the Goal Line, Georgia Returns It 96 Yards for TD

Tennessee was in business. The Vols had the ball inside the 1-yard line and, barring a catastrophe, were going to punch in an easy first-quarter touchdown.

A catastrophe happened.

Georgia’s Davin Bellamy popped the ball out, and junior linebacker Leonard Floyd scooped it up and returned it for a 96-yard score.

That’s tough for Tennessee, and its fans, to swallow:

[Twitter, Vine]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Charlie Strong Saves Job, Shows He's on the Right Track with Win over Oklahoma

Saturday afternoon, Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong sent a message to his critics: Don’t clean out my office just yet.

Following a week of speculation surrounding his job security, Texas’ second-year coach ended it, emphatically so, with a 24-17 upset of No. 10 Oklahoma.

Was 1-4 Texas playing poorly entering the Red River Rivalry? Sure. Nobody who watched TCU’s 50-7 demolition of the Longhorns or Notre Dame’s 38-3 season-opening smackdown could deny Strong’s group looked ugly.

Strong is only in his second season of cleaning up the malaise created by the end of Mack Brown’s tenure, but that didn’t stop some pundits, like Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman, from suggesting that Strong’s seat couldn’t be hotter and insinuating that he could be fired if Texas put up a poor effort against the Sooners. FoxSports.com's Bruce Feldman wrote that Strong was "living his nightmare" at Texas. 

Consider that seat cooled. The win over the Sooners was the most important of Strong’s Texas tenure by far, and it showed he’s the right man for the job.  

The Longhorns have a long way left to go before returning to national elite status, but reports of his demise at Texas are certainly premature. He told ABC's Todd McShay afterward on the national telecast that he was incredibly happy for his team:

I feel proud of our players. They came out and competed. Look at it, all week we heard so much about how they didn’t have any pride, but they battled back.  I’ve been saying it, I truly believe we have a good football team. We’ve lost some, we don’t have an answer for last week, but we came back this week.

Little has gone right for Texas this season.

The Notre Dame and TCU blowouts were sandwiched by painful losses to Cal and Oklahoma State sealed by late special teams miscues. And this week, Strong’s players sniped at each other on Twitter, as CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli chronicled. Even Bevo, Texas’ mascot, missed the trip to Dallas this week while being treated for a “life-threatening illness," according to UT officials (via Fox Sports).

So naturally, the Longhorns put together their best performance of the season. They built an early 14-0 lead and held on after Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield closed to within 24-17 in the fourth quarter, pushing the Sooners back to a 4th-and-36 at their own 12-yard line before forcing a punt.

Afterward, Strong and his players showed raw emotion. Strong got a Gatorade bath, then celebrated with his team on the field as if they’d won a Big 12 title. And it was almost as important.  

Following a week of turmoil surrounding the program, they needed this one badly, and they got it, showing the toughness Strong promised when he replaced Brown almost two years ago.

“We came together,” Strong told McShay. “I said to them, ‘At some point, you’ve got to go, guys. We’ve got to play up to our ability.’”

The Longhorns defense held Mayfield to 211 yards passing and limited potent tailback duo Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine to 60 yards and a touchdown on 16 combined carries.

Strong’s best teams at Louisville were built with strong defenses and acceptable offenses, and that’s a model he’s using at Texas. If freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard (who had 53 yards passing but 115 yards rushing Saturday) can develop into a real threat, the Longhorns will be dangerous.

At 2-4 with Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Baylor left on the schedule, projecting a bowl trip this season is still difficult, but there’s no question that, given patience, Strong will make real progress at Texas—and quickly. His job is safe, as it should be.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com