College Football
NCAAF News Wire
  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014
    Wisconsin QB Stave shut down
    By The Sports Xchange

    Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave has been shut down indefinitely due to lingering "issues with his shoulder."

    • Stave started for the Badgers last season, but Tanner McEvoy was given the nod in Houston last week against LSU.

      Head coach Gary Andersen disclosed Stave's status Tuesday.

      "Obviously, Tanner's a good player," Stave said last week before Andersen's announcement that McEvoy would start.

      Stave started every game and completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,494 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2013. He left the Capital One Bowl with a clavicle injury and Andersen announced before spring practice that there would be a competition at the position.

  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014
    Strong: Texas can 'function' without Ash
    By The Sports Xchange

    AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas coach Charlie Strong invites Longhorns fans not to panic despite the uncertainty Texas now faces at the quarterback position.

    • Longhorns starting quarterback David Ash, the player Texas was depending on to manage the offense with an experienced hand, will not play this week as he suffered concussion-like symptoms following Texas’ 38-7 victory over North Texas. Ash, who missed most of last season with a concussion, might be on the shelf long term and there's speculation he could even call it a career. He was injured on the first hit he took in the win over UNT.

      For the moment, Texas hands the offense to sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, who will start against BYU on Saturday. Strong's take on the situation moving forward is that the quarterback position is less important than it's almost always made out to be.

      "If you get the defense to play well like we played the other night and you have two good running backs, your offensive line protects well, we can function," Strong said. "It's not like it's the end of the world here guys. We know we have to play a football game and that's what we’re going to do."

      Swoopes became the backup quarterback last season when Case McCoy took over the offense after Ash was initially sidelined with a concussion. Swoopes played in six games, but only attempted 13 passes. He completed five for 26 yards. He also rushed 20 times for 79 yards, all in mop-up duty.

      Strong has been stressing team since he arrived at Texas in January and it won't be a hard sell now. The Longhorns have to be even better everywhere else as the passing game seems a long way from being dangerous.

      The first-year Longhorns coach's list of requirements for the team apparently extends to non-playing members of the team on the sideline. Strong said he will watch film to make sure everyone on the team is engaged in the game.

      "If you don't yell on the sideline, you won't get an opportunity to stand on the sideline next week," Strong said. "I'm going to watch the tape from above so I'll be able to point guys out."

  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014
    Backbreaker? Baylor QB Petty day-to-day
    By The Sports Xchange

    Losing quarterback Bryce Petty would be a backbreaker for the Bears, but the record-setting passer said he plans to play with two cracked bones in his back.

    • Petty was diagnosed with fractures in the transverses processes -- tiny bones in the back -- but is listed as day-to-day, and might play in Saturday's game against Northwestern State.

      Petty, considered a preseason contender to win the Heisman Trophy, left at halftime of Baylor's 45-0 victory over SMU on Saturday. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 161 yards. When Petty left, he was grabbing his left hip.

      "Every time I planted, I could feel it," said Petty, who said he could have stayed in the game.

      "It's nothing that serious," he said. "Everything's good."

      An MRI revealed the two cracks on Monday

      He could sit out this week but the injury is typically more about managing pain. The tranverse process fractures heal on their own, but the Bears could protect him from taking any hits to cause setbacks.

      Petty was the Big 12 player of the year in 2013. He threw for 4,200 yards with 32 touchdowns and three interceptions last season, when he completed 62 percent of his passes.

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    Report: Baylor QB Petty has cracks in his back
    By The Sports Xchange

    Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was diagnosed with having two cracks in the transverses processes of his back, CBSSports.com reported.

    • Despite the injury, Bryce is listed as day-to-day, and might play in Saturday's game against Northwestern State.

      Petty, considered a preseason contender to win the Heisman Trophy, left at halftime of Baylor's 45-0 victory over SMU on Saturday. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 161 yards. When Petty left, he was grabbing his left hip.

      An MRI revealed the two cracks on Monday

      "I'm bummed out because it's never fun being hurt," Petty told CBSSports.com. "Bummed out because I just watched tape and everything is off. You never want to make any excuses. When you're throwing and I can't torque [it's frustrating]. Every time I went to throw it would jolt. It felt like somebody was punching me in my side."

      FOXSports.com reported that Petty's injury is the kind that heals on its own. It becomes a matter of whether he can handle the pain in determining whether he can play.

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    CFB roundup: Texas QB Ash to miss BYU game
    By The Sports Xchange

    Texas Longhorns quarterback David Ash experienced more concussion-related symptoms following the season opener and will miss this week's game against BYU.

    • Head coach Charlie Strong told reporters Monday that Ash took a hit during the first quarter of Texas' 38-7 win over North Texas, and appeared fine. Texas trainers then received a call from Ash in the middle of the night. Strong said that some of the post-game symptoms Ash exhibited were headaches and dizziness.

      Ash missed 10 games last season and received a medical redshirt after suffering a concussion at BYU last season.

      Strong said no official determination has been made about how long Ash will be sidelined or if he will play again this season.

      "Anytime you have that number of concussions, you have to be concerned," Strong said. "You're always concerned about a young man's health, and we would never jeopardize a young man's health just for this football team. Players' health is always first."

      Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes will start for Texas (1-0) against BYU (1-0) on Saturday. Swoopes, who was beat out by Ash in camp, played six games as a true freshman in 2013, completing five passes for 26 yards and running 20 times for 79 yards. True freshman Jerrod Heard will be his backup.

      Strong also announced Monday that center Dominic Espinosa, a 40-game starter, fractured a bone in his right ankle and would have season-ending surgery Wednesday.

      Espinosa went down in the third quarter Saturday and had to be carted to the locker room. Redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson, who replaced Espinosa in the game, is expected to become the starter.

      ---Alabama defeated West Virginia in a hard-fought 33-23 victory at Atlanta, but the win came at a cost, coach Nick Saban said.

      Senior defensive back Jarrick Williams fractured his foot and will miss at least four weeks. Williams has started 10 games in his career.

      Another senior, wide receiver DeAndrew White, has a separated shoulder and is expected to miss two weeks. White made six receptions for 73 yards.

      Saban also said he isn't sure which of his quarterbacks will get the start or how they will share the reps Saturday against Florida Atlantic. But he did commit to playing both players.

      "When I figure it out, I won't tell you," Saban said with a smile.

      ---Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher lifted wide receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson's indefinite suspension.

      Wilson missed the Seminoles' season-opening 37-31 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night, although he traveled with the team and dressed for the game.

      Wilson will be eligible to play against The Citadel this Saturday.

      ---Iowa State receiver Quenton Bundrage's season lasted all of four plays.

      The school announced that the Cyclones' top receiver from last season tore an ACL in Saturday's loss to North Dakota State and will miss the rest of this season.

      Bundrage led the Cyclones in receiving in 2013 with 676 yards and nine touchdowns.

      ---Nebraska most likely will be without their best defensive player when the Cornhuskers play FCS McNeese State on Saturday.

      Coach Bo Pelini told the Lincoln Journal Star that preseason All-Big Ten defensive end Randy Gregory likely will miss the game because an "old injury flared up" to Gregory's knee in Saturday's 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic. He played in only one series Saturday.

      Gregory had a minor procedure on the knee Sunday morning, and Pelini said Gregory was "doubtful" for the game against the Cowboys. Pelini said Gregory's chances of returning the following week at Fresno State were "probable."

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    FSU's Wilson to return from suspension
    By The Sports Xchange

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher lifted wide receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson's indefinite suspension on Monday.

    • Wilson missed the Seminoles' season-opening 37-31 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night, although he traveled with the team and dressed for the game.

      Wilson will be eligible to play against The Citadel this Saturday.

      "We'll get Bobo back in the mix this week," Fisher said. "I'm hopeful (it'll help), we'll see, he had a great camp.

      "We had no plans on playing him before, but he did everything we asked him to do. He's been very mature in how he's handled things. I think sometimes taking a guy to a game, having him sit there, is worse than leaving him at home."

      The sophomore was originally charged with a third-degree grand motor theft, a felony, in connection with stealing a scooter in June. Wilson admitted to police he took the scooter when he saw the keys ignition and crashed it while driving.

      In July, Wilson pleaded down to two misdemeanors, his attorney, Tim Jansen, told ESPN.com. Jansen said Wilson had the initial felony charge reduced to misdemeanor petty theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief. Wilson already has paid $1,074 in restitution to the scooter owner, and was sentenced to spend 30 days on a jail work camp and two years' probation. The probation can be reduced to one year if he completes the work camp.

      As a freshman, the 5-foot-9, 177-pound Miami native had three receptions for 23 yards in limited action.

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    Texas QB Ash ruled out vs. BYU
    By The Sports Xchange

    Texas Longhorns quarterback David Ash experienced more concussion-related symptoms following the season opener and will miss this week's game against BYU.

    • Head coach Charlie Strong told reporters Monday that Ash took a hit during the first quarter of Texas' 38-7 win over North Texas, and appeared fine. Texas trainers then received a call from Ash in the middle of the night. Strong said that some of the post-game symptoms Ash exhibited were headaches and dizziness.

      Ash missed 10 games last season and received a medical redshirt after suffering a concussion at BYU last season.

      Strong said no official determination has been made about how long Ash will be sidelined or if he will play again this season.

      "Anytime you have that number of concussions, you have to be concerned," Strong said. "You're always concerned about a young man's health, and we would never jeopardize a young man's health just for this football team. Players' health is always first."

      Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes will start for Texas (1-0) against BYU (1-0) on Saturday. Swoopes, who was beat out by Ash in camp, played six games as a true freshman in 2013, completing five passes for 26 yards and running 20 times for 79 yards. True freshman Jerrod Heard will be his backup.

      Strong also announced Monday that center Dominic Espinosa, a 40-game starter, fractured a bone in his right ankle and would have season-ending surgery Wednesday.

      Espinosa went down in the third quarter Saturday and had to be carted to the locker room. Redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson, who replaced Espinosa in the game, is expected to become the starter.

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    Crimson Tide lose two starters to injuries
    By The Sports Xchange

    Alabama defeated West Virginia with a hard-fought 33-23 at Atlanta, but the win came at a cost, coach Nick Saban said Monday.

    • Senior defensive back Jarrick Williams fractured his foot and will miss at least four weeks. Williams has started 10 games in his career.

      Another senior, wide receiver DeAndrew White, has a separated shoulder and is expected to miss two weeks. White made six receptions for 73 yards.

      Saban also said he isn't sure which of his quarterbacks will get the start or how they will share the reps Saturday against Florida Atlantic. But he did commit to playing both players.

      "When I figure it out, I won't tell you," Saban said with a smile.

      Blake Sims started and completed more than 70 percent of his passes against the Mountaineers while playing most of the game.

      The fifth-year senior went 24-for-33 for 250 yard and added another 42 rushing yards.

      Jake Coker played toward the end of the game and handed the ball off.

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    Cyclones lose leading WR for season
    By The Sports Xchange

    Iowa State receiver Quenton Bundrage's season lasted all of four plays.

    • The school announced Monday that the Cyclones' top receiver from last season tore an ACL in Saturday's lost to North Dakota State and will miss the rest of this season.

      Bundrage led the Cyclones in receiving in 2013 with 676 yards and nine touchdowns.

      Head coach Paul Rhoades said Bundrage took the news hard, but implored his team to step up and make up for his star receiver's loss.

      "Time for others to step up," said Rhoads, whose team travels to Manhattan, Kan., to play Kansas State in the Big 12 season-opener.

      The Cyclones now will turn to true freshman wideout Allen Lazard and transfer D'Vario Montgomery.

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    Nebraska DE Gregory likely to miss McNeese State game
    By The Sports Xchange

    Nebraska most likely will be without their best defensive player when the Cornhuskers play FCS McNeese State on Saturday.

    • Coach Bo Pelini told the Lincoln Journal Star that preseason All-Big Ten defensive end Randy Gregory likely will miss the game because an "old injury flared up" to Gregory's knee in Saturday's 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic. He played in only one series Saturday.

      Gregory had a minor procedure on the knee Sunday morning, and Pelini said Gregory was "doubtful" for the game against the Cowboys. Pelini said Gregory's chances of returning the following week at Fresno State were "probable."

      "We're not looking to rush him back right now," Pelini told the Journal Star.

      Gregory, a junior, led the Big Ten with 9 1/2 sacks last season.

  • Monday, September 1, 2014
    No. 10 Baylor blanks, blasts SMU
    By The Sports Xchange

    WACO, Texas -- Baylor debuted its new home, McLane Stadium, on the north bank of the Brazos River in Central Texas, and the venue made a shining impression in Sunday night prime time.

    • The team that will call it home was pretty impressive, too.

      The Baylor defense suffocated SMU as the 10th-ranked Bears continued their trend of mauling early-season opponents, slamming the Mustangs 45-0 in front of a crowd of 45,733.

      Baylor dusted its three nonconference opponents by an average margin of 62 points last season, launching a season in which the Bears claimed their first Big 12 championship.

      The Bears moved addresses to a fancy new stadium, and nothing much changed on the field. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty passed for 161 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score, and the Baylor offense totaled 574 yards. Petty completed 13 of 23 passes.

      SMU managed just 67 total yards.

      The Bears' defense showed the scariest set of teeth, sacking SMU quarterbacks six times in the first half and holding the Mustangs to 10 total yards before halftime. Bears junior defensive end Shawn Oakman, in his first career start, made life miserable for the Mustangs quarterbacks with two first-half sacks and six total tackles.

      "I didn't expect us not to be able to block them at all," SMU coach June Jones said. "It's hard to quarterback and go back to throw or do anything when he doesn't have time."

      Baylor's offense mostly just took advantage of the opportunities its defense presented.

      "I didn't think we were that effective offensively," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "Really, we had no fluidness or cohesiveness or really any dynamic quality. We were hit and miss on some things. But defensively, that's just what made the game.

      "That's what allowed the game to be won tonight was the way we dominated defensively."

      By surging ahead 31-0 at halftime, and with SMU showing no signs that it could make a move against the relentless Baylor defense, the sell-out crowd had the entire second half to bask in the glow of the new park. Briles said he didn't enjoy the scenery until the school song was played at the end, but he was blown away by the new facility.

      "The first time I got over here, I said 'Shoot, I don't dream big enough, don't think big enough and don't foresee big enough,'" Briles said. "Because it was just unbelievable, and the atmosphere today was everything we hoped it could be."

      Baylor (1-0) began to overwhelm SMU (0-1) with impact plays on defense and special teams midway through the first quarter.

      Bears middle linebacker Bryce Hager popped the ball out of the hands of Mustangs wide receiver Stephen Nelson at the SMU 17. Baylor outside linebacker Aiavion Edwards scooped the loose ball, returning it to the 6.

      From there, it took Baylor two plays to score its first touchdown, as running back Shock Linwood powered over the goal line from 4 yards out.

      The Bears' defense continued to enforce its will on SMU during the Mustangs' ensuing possession. The Bears dropped SMU backs for losses on three consecutive plays, capped by Oakman's sack of backup quarterback Matt Davis for 9 yards to the SMU 3.

      Jones said he planned to play Davis, who entered midway through the first quarter in place of starter Neal Burcham. However, it didn't really matter which quarterback was in the game with Baylor applying pressure throughout.

      "When protection broke down, I could tell (Davis) wasn't sure of what he was doing," Jones said. "He didn't have a chance."

      Oakman's sack set up Baylor punt returner Levi Norwood to run downhill with the following punt. Norwood found a seam and brought the kick back 45 yards to the Mustangs' 4.

      Petty tossed his first touchdown pass of the season on third-and-goal from the 3, finding tight end Tre'von Armstead wide open for the score.

      However, Petty sustained a lower back bruise while diving at the end of a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. He played the rest of the second quarter, then sat out the second half.

      "Without question it affected him," Briles said. "The extent of the injury, they said it wasn't structural. We were real protective of him, except for one play."

      SMU kick returner Deion Sanders Jr. gave the Mustangs a glimmer of hope with a 58-yard kick return to the Baylor 33. However, Baylor stuffed SMU for minus-3 yards on four plays, and it was time for Petty to go to work again.

      Petty threw a haymaker at staggering SMU, hitting freshman wide receiver KD Cannon over the top of the Mustangs' defense for a 46-yard touchdown and a 24-0 lead.

      NOTES: As part of the inaugural pregame ceremonies at McLane Stadium, Baylor unveiled a bronze statue of 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III near the south entrance to the stadium. ... Baylor won its 11th straight in the series against SMU to take the all-time series lead at 37-36-7. Baylor and SMU were members of the Southwest Conference together from 1918-1996. ... SMU has not won a season opener on the road since 1986.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Week One Review: Sumlin makes the difference at Texas A&M
    By The Sports Xchange

    College football is mostly about two things. Quarterbacks. And the Southeastern Conference.

    • Nowhere did those two themes intersect better than in the first game of the season -- Texas A&M at South Carolina.

      College football moved on from the Johnny Manziel era, leaving his every off-field move and on-field gesture as a concern for the NFL. But he still had the gravitational pull of a black hole in the offseason, pulling every question about Texas A&M into this singularity: How could the Aggies possibly replace Johnny Football and still be relevant?

      It was the wrong question.

      Give Manziel his due, but the immediate success of Texas A&M in the SEC had less to do with his improvisational skills and more to do with the man in charge of it all -- coach Kevin Sumlin. The question should have been: Have SEC foes figured out how to stop Sumlin?

      Lesson No. 1 from the opening weekend of college football: Never doubt Sumlin's scheme.

      He created a just-add-water Heisman candidate in sophomore Kenny Hill, who completed 44 of 60 passes for 511 yards, breaking the school single-game passing record of Johnny ... uh, what was that guy's name again?

      Hill also threw for three touchdowns as he and the Aggies carved up the No. 9 Gamecocks 52-28.

      Now, the opening weekend of the season always comes with a caveat -- avoid drawing too many conclusions based off one game. But the first impression screams that A&M's impressive performance wasn't a fluke.

      Hill showed poise in the face of South Carolina's blitz. He is working behind an experienced offensive line, led by the team's next first-round left tackle -- Cedric Ogbuehi. Hill worked fast in the hurry-up offense and got the ball out quickly to an array of talented wideouts, including senior Malcome Kennedy and fab freshmen Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil. What we're saying is that the first-game numbers are sustainable.

      Get used to the Aggies being back in the discussion in the wild SEC West and beyond. Their next four games are against Lamar, Rice, at SMU, and Arkansas. A&M should be 5-0 heading into an Oct. 4 game at Mississippi State, which is most definitely a team you don't want to sleep on.

      Until then, just don't call the new quarterback Kenny Football. Perhaps Heis-Ken will do.

      Five things we learned in week one

      1. This is a corollary to the Kevin Sumlin clause: Never, ever, underestimate a Rich Rodriguez offense. He lost All-American running back Ka'Deem Carey and quarterback B.J. Denker, returning a Pac-12-low 23.6 percent of his offense. In Arizona's first game, a 58-13 win over UNLV, the Wildcats rolled up a school-record 787 total yards, 425 coming off the arm of redshirt freshman Anu Solomon. This Thursday's game at UTSA, which opened with a 27-7 win at Houston, could be better than you think.

      2. Oklahoma State's defensive front is not good, it's great. Going against Florida State's best-in-the-nation offensive line, the Cowboys allowed just 106 rushing yards and had five tackles for loss, including two sacks from emerging sophomore star lineman Emmanuel Ogbah. After its close-call loss to No. 1 Florida State, young Oklahoma State has time to build before taking on a back-loaded schedule.

      3. UCLA's 2014 potential problem is its 2013 Achilles' heel. Playing without two injured starters on the offensive line, the Bruins scored only one offensive touchdown in a 28-20 win at Virginia. The Cavs overwhelmed UCLA with their blitzes, coming up with 11 tackles for loss, including five sacks. Good news: UCLA might get back center Jake Brendel (knee) and left tackle Simon Goines (ankle) very soon. "I know that there is going to be a lot of concern about our offensive line, and it's warranted at this point," coach Jim Mora said. "Those of us that know we have a good group know that we just need to play better."

      4. Senior quarterback Blake Sims got more than a courtesy start at Alabama. Everyone expected Florida State transfer Jacob Coker to win the job, but Sims' four years in the system trumped Coker's three months on campus. Sims was 24-for-33 for 250 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, in a 33-23 win over West Virginia. It was a respectable effort that should earn encores in the next two games against weaklings Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss.

      5. It's going to be a wild ride in 2014. OK, we already knew that. But when the two teams most favored to get to the first title game of the College Football Playoff era -- Florida State and Alabama -- each struggle in openers against unranked opponents ... it's a clear sign that crazy twists and turns, and breathtaking freefalls, await.

      Five important returns

      1. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Returning from academic exile, Golson looked as good as the new FieldTurf in Notre Dame Stadium, passing for 295 yards and running for 41. He had two long on-the-mark touchdown passes that each traveled about 60 yards in the air. It's in the DNA of coach Brian Kelly to fling the ball all over the yard, and Golson's arm and experience give him a chance to get back to those roots.

      2. Texas quarterback David Ash. Last season's concussion problems, followed by a spring foot injury, put Ash on the long road back. If the Longhorns are to have any success in coach Charlie Strong's debut, Ash has to stay healthy and be effective. He was sporadic in a 38-7 win over North Texas, completing 19 of 34 passes for 190 yards, and taking a couple of big hits that had Burnt Orange Nation holding its breath. Honorable mention: Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks, coming off an Achilles injury, made his first career interception. He is the glue guy of the defense.

      3. Arizona receiver Austin Hill. The senior, who missed all of last season because of an ACL injury, came back in style with a 92-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on the first play of the second half against UNLV. He stiff-armed a defender after the catch to gain the separation he needed to race in untouched the rest of the way. Hill leads one of the deepest groups of receivers in the country.

      4. Maryland receivers Stefon Diggs/Deon Long. The Terps should have one of the best receiving corps in the conference -- that's now the Big Ten, remember -- led by Diggs and Long, who returned to the starting lineup in a rout of James Madison after rehabbing together from broken legs suffered at midseason last year. Diggs had five catches for 53 yards and returned a kickoff 59 yards. Long made two catches for 48 yards, including a 41-yard score.

      5. Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Fired as USC's head coach during last season, Kiffin was back on the sideline, calling plays under the watchful eye of Nick Saban. The Tide gained 538 yards against West Virginia, which is good, but Bama can do better. Alabama must stop embracing the "Dinosaur Age" of offense -- Saban's words -- and use more of the fast-paced, no-huddle attack that sparked the Tide late in the second half and helped get quarterback Blake Sims in rhythm.

      Five players to watch

      1. Georgia running back Todd Gurley. The junior had 198 yards rushing and a 100-yard kickoff return in a win over 12th-ranked Clemson. He'll end the two-year drought of no running back in the first round of the NFL Draft.

      2. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The sophomore threw for 454 yards and directed the game-winning drive that ended in a field goal in a 26-24 win over UCF in Dublin. Your No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft ...

      3. Michigan receiver Devin Funchess. Now wearing Michigan's famed No. 1 jersey and no longer mis-labeled as a tight end, Funchess (6-5, 230) is still a matchup nightmare. He caught seven passes for 95 yards and three scores vs. Appalachian State.

      4. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. He ran for 1,344 yards last season, the question being whether he could improve his 53.9 completion percentage. Well, he was 28-for-36 in the opening win over UConn. This week: At Texas.

      5. Oklahoma State all-purpose back Tyreek Hill. It took one game to make the junior college transfer the nation's most exhilarating player. The fastest man in college football posted 278 all-purpose yards, and his value as a decoy made the Cowboys' offense all the more unpredictable.

      Five best Week 2 games

      1. Michigan State at Oregon, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET., FOX. Thanks to its backfield depth, Oregon moved Byron Marshall to an all-purpose role in the opener, and he responded with 89 yards rushing and 138 yards on eight receptions over South Dakota. His versatility is worth watching against the Spartans' stout defense in a game with major College Football Playoff implications.

      2. USC at Stanford, USC at Stanford, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. Steve Sarkisian's new-to-USC up-tempo offense was an instant success, with the Trojans running a school-record 105 plays en route to 701 yards in a laugher against Fresno State. Stanford yawns. If the Cardinal can handle Oregon's attack, it won't be awed by USC's.

      3. Michigan at Notre Dame, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET., NBC. A night game in South Bend wraps up this historic series until at least 2020 -- probably much longer, given the rhetoric on both sides. Enjoy while you can.

      4. Virginia Tech at Ohio State, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. The Buckeyes could end up being just fine with redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett at quarterback, although his inexperience and shaky play from the offensive line led to conservative play-calling against Navy. A fast, physical Hokies defense, led by defensive tackle Luther Maddy, cornerback Kendall Fuller and safety Kyshoen Jarrett, will require more creativity from Urban Meyer.

      5. East Carolina at South Carolina, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU. The Gamecocks have to show resiliency after the humbling loss to A&M, while the Pirates are looking for big-bowl legitimacy, fueled by the prolific pass-catch combo of Shane Carden and Justin Hardy.

      NFLDraftScout.com: Film Room Review

      Senior Analyst Rob Rang's five takeaways on how prospects performed in their season openers. Players listed chronologically by game time this week, including position, school, year (Height, weight and current NFLDraftScout.com overall rating and by position).

      1. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State (6-4, 235, #6/#2)

      Winston's stats in Saturday night's victory over Oklahoma State included two interceptions, but that doesn't tell the full story. Both picks were thrown into single coverage, with defenders making spectacular plays on the ball. While Winston did stare down his targets, he generally makes excellent decisions with the ball and did so throughout this game, peppering the Cowboys with well-thrown short and intermediate routes and driving strikes down the alleys. He showed good touch on traditional deep balls, including a pair of 50-plus-yard completions in the first half.

      2. WR Kevin White, West Virginia (6-3, 209, #296/#36)

      White matched Alabama's preseason All-American Amari Cooper catch for catch, showing impressive hand-eye coordination and leaping ability to haul in several contested throws. The 6-foot-3, 209 pound White possesses a legitimate NFL frame with broad shoulders and good overall musculature. White used his size to overpower defenders on occasion, breaking tackles to gain yardage after the catch. He also showed agility and strength to gain a free release, smooth acceleration to push corners deep and the burst out of his breaks to gain separation.

      3. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA (6-3, 227, #19/#3))

      Hundley was held without a touchdown pass against Virginia. He did score on a six-yard scamper and completed 20 of 33 passes for 242 yards and showed composure down the stretch, rifling deep passes to the sidelines. And when protected, Hundley generally threw the ball well. He showed improved poise in the pocket from a year ago, scanning the field and occasionally stepping up in the pocket before delivering confident passes. He failed to look off defenders, at times, which contributed to three of his passes being deflected at the line of scrimmage.

      4. RB Paul James, Rutgers (6-0, 210, #16 RB in 2016)

      James, a 6-foot, 210-pound junior, routinely ran through arm tackles in Rutgers' victory over Washington State in Seattle, showing impressive leg drive, forward lean and enough burst to gain yardage in chunks. He lowers his shoulders on contact and spins off hits, keeping his feet moving and eyes searching for daylight. He showed better acceleration than his frame would indicate, breaking free for a 56-yard gain.

      5. LT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (6-5, 300, #3/#1)

      A boisterous crowd at South Carolina on Thursday seemed to contribute to Ogbuehi getting an occasional late start. Rather than panic and lunge at his opponent, Ogbuehi showed off his rare skill set, accelerating while turning his shoulders to remain square to the pass rusher before extending his vine-like arms to latch on. Ogbuehi's agility and reach make him reliable in pass protection. He also showed quickness and agility in the running game and drove his assignment off the ball to clear the lane for A&M's first touchdown of the season, a 1-yard plunge off left tackle by Tra Carson.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Wisconsin lineman out of hospital
    By The Sports Xchange

    Wisconsin defensive end Konrad Zagzebski was released from the hospital Saturday night and the school announced he would travel home with the team after being taken off the field on a stretcher during the Badgers' 28-24 loss to LSU in Houston.

    • Zagzebski stayed on the ground following a collision with LSU running back Kenny Hilliard, but gave a thumbs-up to the crowd as he was taken off the field and transported to Methodist Hospital in Houston for further evaluation.

      Shortly before midnight, Badger Football announced via Twitter: "Happy to report that senior DL Konrad Zagzebski has been released from the hospital & will travel home with us on the plane. #Badgers."

      Zagzebski's status for Wisconsin's next game against Western Illinois on Saturday is unknown.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Oregon, Mariota crank out 62-13 win
    By The Sports Xchange

    EUGENE, Ore. -- Junior quarterback Marcus Mariota made an impressive opening statement as one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy.

    • Mariota had 310 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns to lead No. 3 Oregon to a season-opening 62-13 win over South Dakota in front of 57,388 Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.

      "They're really special with Mariota at the wheel. He's what I thought he was. He's really good," South Dakota coach Joe Glenn said. "He's special and time will bear that out. He's a really good player. And a good person. I like that too."

      Mariota completed 14-of-20 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns while also running for 43 yards and a touchdown on six carries while playing only the first half. He led Oregon on six touchdown drives during that time as the Ducks built a 41-13 lead before sitting their star quarterback out for the second half.

      "Offensively, we got off to a great start," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "Defensively, we did not get off to as good of a start, but we will make corrections to that. I was very pleased with the victory."

      Oregon padded its lead early in the second half when true freshman Charles Nelson returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown that gave the Ducks a 48-13 lead.

      Quarterback Jeff Lockie followed Mariota and tossed his first career touchdown pass, a 4-yarder to tight end Pharoah Brown as Oregon went ahead 55-13.

      Senior running back Kenny Bassett scored on a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the Ducks ahead 62-13.

      Oregon's Byron Marshall ran eight times for 90 yards and had seven catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

      "That was fun," Marshall said. "I had a lot more ways to get the ball and that was cool. It just kind of happened, we have had some injuries."

      Sophomore running back Thomas Tyner ran 11 times for 64 yards and freshman running back Royce Freeman ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

      "Byron did a great job, he took some huge shots," Helfrich said. "We will look to expand those guys and fit packages to how they come about in the game plan."

      The only concern for the Ducks was an ankle injury to All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The senior left the game in the first half and did not return but said after the game that he was fine.

      South Dakota quarterback Kevin Earl was 13-for-26 for 136 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hand injury.

      Oregon gets a tougher test next week when No. 8 Michigan State arrives at Autzen.

      "They are an extremely talented team," Helfrich said. "That is a great program. We will go home, sleep and get after it."

      Oregon scored on its fourth play from scrimmage when Mariota threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dwayne Stanford less than two minutes into the game. Holder Taylor Alie ran in the two-point conversion to put the Ducks ahead 8-0.

      South Dakota moved to the Oregon 30-yard line on its first drive before kicker Miles Bergner drilled a 47-yard field goal to get the Coyotes within 8-3 with 9:02 left in the first quarter.

      Oregon needed just three plays to score on its second possession as Mariota found Marshall for a 41-yard touchdown to put Oregon ahead 14-3.

      Oregon started its next drive at its own 3-yard line but went 97 yards in nine plays to score on a 1-yard touchdown run by Freeman to take a 21-3 lead late in the first quarter.

      The Ducks had 239 yards of offense on 16 plays, including 10 first downs in the first quarter.

      Bergner added a 25-yard field goal for South Dakota early in the second quarter as the Coyotes cut the lead to 21-6.

      The Ducks answered with Freeman's second touchdown run of the game, a 26-yard run to the right, that put Oregon ahead 28-6 with 7:41 left in the first half.

      Oregon looked to pad the lead when Marshall was ruled to have scored on a 54-yard run, but after review it was determined that he let the ball go short of the goal line for a touchback.

      However, South Dakota fumbled on its next play and Oregon cornerback Dior Mathis recovered. Five plays later, Mariota found Marshall for an 11-yard touchdown pass as Oregon went ahead 35-6.

      South Dakota drove for its first touchdown in the final two minutes of the half when running back Trevor Bouma scored on a 3-yard run to cut Oregon's lead to 35-13.

      However, the Coyotes left 1:31 on the clock and that was more than enough time for the Ducks to score again as Mariota ran in for a 1-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left before halftime to put Oregon ahead 41-13 at halftime.

      "They were just a little too much for us, that's for sure," Glenn said. "I was really, really impressed with their team. I was impressed with their coaching. They knew what they wanted to do and came in and got it done."

      NOTES: Oregon won its 10th straight home opener and has scored at least 38 points in each of those games. ... Marcus Mariota's first touchdown passes in the first quarter gave him 79 at Oregon, breaking the school record of 78 set by Joey Harrington. ... South Dakota played a FBS school for the seventh time in five seasons but faced a Pac-12 Conference school for the first time.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    CFB game roundup: Winston, No. 1 FSU hold off Oklahoma State
    By The Sports Xchange

    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 370 yards with a touchdown passing and rushing in top-ranked Florida State's 37-31 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night.

    • The victory marked the defending national champion Seminoles' 17th consecutive triumph.

      Winston's 50-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rashad Greene with 3:58 left sealed the Seminoles' victory.

      Robert Aguayo kicked three field goals for Florida State, among them a 37-yarder with 5:13 left.

      Defensive back Nate Andrews' scored the Seminoles' first touchdown, a 9-yard interception return midway through the first quarter. Running back Mario Pender also had a rushing touchdown for Florida State.

      Quarterback J.W. Walsh, a junior from Denton Guyer, had 203 yards passing and a touchdown -- 55 yards to David Glidden -- and two rushing touchdowns for Oklahoma State.

      Florida State entered as a heavy favorite with 15 starters returning from 2013's 14-0 national championship team, while Oklahoma State was starting anew after losing 28 seniors off a 10-3 team.

      No. 2 Alabama 33, West Virginia 23

      ATLANTA -- The Crimson Tide took the underdog Mountaineers' best shot and survived to win their season opener at the Georgia Dome.

      Quarterback Blake Sims got the start and played well for Alabama, and running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry led a rushing attack that racked up 288 yards and helped put the game away in the fourth quarter. But it wasn't easy.

      West Virginia, an underdog by more than three touchdowns, moved the ball against Alabama's defense behind quarterback Clint Trickett. The Mountaineers trailed by only seven, 30-23, early in the fourth quarter. It could have been even closer, but West Virginia hurt itself with dropped passes and twice settled for field goals inside the Alabama 10-yard line.

      No. 3 Oregon 62, South Dakota 13

      EUGENE, Ore. -- Marcus Mariota kicked off his Heisman Trophy campaign with 310 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns to lead Oregon over South Dakota at Autzen Stadium.

      Mariota completed 14-of-20 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns while also running for 43 yards and a score on six carries while playing only the first half. He led Oregon on six touchdown drives during that time as the Ducks built a 41-13 lead before sitting their star quarterback out for the second half.

      Oregon padded its lead early in the second half when Charles Nelson returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown that gave the Ducks a 48-13 lead. Jeff Lockie followed Mariota and tossed his first career touchdown pass, a 4-yarder to Pharoah Brown as Oregon went ahead 55-13. Kenny Bassett scored on a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the Ducks ahead 62-13.

      No. 4 Oklahoma 48, Louisiana Tech 16

      NORMAN, Okla. -- Quarterback Trevor Knight showed some consistency and maturity and the Sooners easily beat Louisiana Tech in front of 85,063 fans.

      Knight, who capped the 2013 season with four touchdown passes in the Sooners' Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, threw for 253 yards and a touchdown in his first start of 2014.

      The performance certainly can't be considered a surprise, considering Louisiana Tech was completely overmatched by the deeper, more talented Sooners, but Knight doesn't have an established track record of success. He beat Alabama, but the redshirt sophomore finished just three games he started a season ago and was benched twice.

      No. 5 Ohio State 34, Navy 17

      BALTIMORE -- In his college debut, quarterback J.T. Barnett completed 12 of 15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Buckeyes past Navy at M&T Bank Stadium.

      Ezekiel Elliott added a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Darron Lee had a 61-yard fumble return for a touchdown as Ohio State overcame 370 rushing yards by Navy's triple-option offense.

      Navy led 14-13 late in the third quarter, but Barrett put Ohio State in front for good with an 80-yard touchdown bomb to Devin Smith. Then in the closing minutes, he clinched it with a 9-yard scoring pass to sophomore Michael Thomas.

      Ryan Williams-Jenkins rushed seven times for 118 yards to lead Navy. But Ohio State did well to contain quarterback Keenan Reynolds, holding the junior to 42 yards on 23 carries and two completions on four attempts for 20 yards.

      No. 6 Auburn, 45, Arkansas 21

      AUBURN, Ala. -- The Razorbacks' recent run of good luck against the Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium ran out as the reigning SEC champions cruised to victory thanks to a huge second half that was keyed by the return of quarterback Nick Marshall from a brief suspension.

      In the season opener for both teams, the Razorbacks came in having won three of the last four games played in Auburn, but the national championship runner-up Tigers rebounded well from their crushing last-second loss to No. 1 Florida State in college football's final BCS title game last season.

      Auburn piled up 595 yards of total offense. After going to halftime tied 21-21, the Tigers outscored the Razorbacks 24-0 in the second half, keyed by a 32-yard interception return for a TD by defensive back Jermaine Whitehead, who also led the Tigers' defense with seven tackles.

      The game also featured a 1-hour and 15-minute weather delay because of lightning. It finally resumed under a heavy downpour.

      No. 7 UCLA 28, Virginia 20

      CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- On a day when Brett Hundley didn't look like a Heisman Trophy contender, his defensive teammates did the scoring. UCLA returned three second-quarter Virginia turnovers for touchdowns in a season-opening victory.

      Ishmael Adams and Eric Kendricks ran back interceptions for scores and Randall Goforth sprinted 75 yards with a fumble as UCLA exploited the Cavaliers' carelessness with the ball. That made up for an underwhelming performance by Hundley, who was held without a touchdown pass for only the third time in 28 career games.

      No. 11 Stanford 45, UC Davis 0

      STANFORD, Calif. -- The Cardinal warmed up for next week's Pac-12 opener against USC by crushing UC Davis in the teams' season opener at Stanford Stadium.

      UC Davis, an FCS school, had upset Stanford 21-17 the last time the teams met in 2005, but the Cardinal erased any thought of another embarrassing result, scoring less than three minutes into the game and taking a 38-0 lead at halftime.

      Kevin Hogan was 12-for-15 passing for 204 yards, three touchdowns and one interception before halftime.

      No. 12 Georgia 45, No. 16 Clemson 21

      ATHENS, Ga. -- Todd Gurley rushed for 198 yards and scored four touchdowns, including one on a 100-yard kickoff return, and the Bulldogs rolled to a victory over the Tigers at Sanford Stadium.

      Gurley, a junior tailback, who had just four carries at the half, was unstoppable in the second half, rushing for 154 yards on 15 carries to spark a Georgia offense that scored 24 straight points and turned a 21-21 game into a rout.

      Gurley finished with a school-record 293 all-purpose yards.

      No. 13 LSU 28, No. 14 Wisconsin 24

      HOUSTON -- The Tigers reeled off 21 consecutive points and staged a riveting comeback to defeat the Badgers in the season-opening Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium.

      LSU extended its regular-season non-conference winning streak to 46 games by erasing a 17-point second-half deficit. Wisconsin grabbed a 24-7 lead when Corey Clement pounded his way into the end zone with 12:24 remaining in the third quarter. LSU responded by scoring on four consecutive possessions to seize the win.

      Fittingly for Les Miles-coached LSU, momentum swung on a trick play. Facing fourth down at their 43-yard line on the drive immediately following the Clement touchdown, linebacker Kendell Beckwith gained five yards on a fake punt to kick-start the rally. The Tigers cashed in with a 30-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal, added a 47-yard field goal on their ensuing possession, and then found the end zone twice.

      LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings completed on a 36-yard touchdown pass to John Diarse with 12:08 remaining, with Jennings and Trey Quinn connecting on the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 24-21. Diarse broke three tackles en route to the end zone after LSU picked up the Wisconsin blitz on third down. After LSU safety Jalen Mills picked off Badgers quarterback Tanner McEvoy, the Tigers briskly covered 53 yards in three plays, all runs up the gut by running back Kenny Hilliard.

      No. 15 USC 52, Fresno State 13

      LOS ANGELES -- Using new coach Steve Sarkisian's up-tempo offense, the 15th-ranked Trojans scored touchdowns on their first three drives and seemed to do whatever they wanted offensively throughout the game.

      Sarkisian, who had been offensive coordinator for USC before leaving to become Washington's head coach for five years, returned promising to instill the no-huddle, fast-paced offense he had used up north.

      The sideline must have been a welcome respite for Sarkisian, who spent the week answering questions about suspended USC cornerback Josh Shaw's bogus story about injuring his ankles while saving a drowning child and then had to react by being called a "racist" by a former player.

      Any concerns that it would have an effect on his team were dispelled almost immediately as the Trojans scored touchdowns early and often. USC quarterback Cody Kessler ran Sarkisian's offense as if he had been doing it his entire career, throwing for four touchdowns and a career-high 394 yards.

      No. 17 Notre Dame 48, Rice 17

      SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Quarterback Everett Golson waited more than a year and a half to return to the field and when his opportunity arrived, he took full advantage to lead the Fighting Irish past Rice.

      Golson threw for two long touchdowns and rushed for three more scores as Notre Dame averaged 9.0 yards per play and finished with 576 yards.

      Rice kept the score within four points until late in the first half, but they could not keep pace in the second half as the Irish built a 31-point lead. A heavy rainfall early in the second half complicated the comeback effort for the Owls, who returned 10 starters from their Conference USA championship team a year ago.

      No. 20 Kansas State 55, Stephen F. Austin 16

      MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The Wildcats scored on almost every offensive drive to pummel Stephen F. Austin before 52,830 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

      The Wildcats were held scoreless on only three of their offensive possessions, one of which was the last drive of the first half when they missed a 45-yard field goal attempt on the final play.

      Quarterback Jake Waters was 19-of-28 passing for 223 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Wildcats.

      Stephen F. Austin was held to 95 total yards in the second half.

      No. 22 Nebraska 55, Florida Atlantic 7

      LINCOLN, Neb. -- Ameer Abdullah ran 21 times for a career-high 232 yards and the Cornhuskers collected 784 yards of total offense in defeating the Owls at Memorial Stadium.

      Abdullah, a senior running back, displayed shifty moves and elusive speed while running for 178 yards on 16 carries in the first half, helping Nebraska take a commanding 31-7 halftime lead. He eclipsed his previous career high of 223 yards, set last year against Illinois, with a 9-yard run midway through the third quarter.

      Nebraska sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong was 15-for-29 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran seven times for 62 yards.

      No. 23 North Carolina 56, Liberty 29

      CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Tar Heels scored on back-to-back plays from scrimmage in the third quarter to help avoid a season-opening upset at Kenan Stadium.

      Marquise Williams threw his second touchdown pass of the game to put the Tar Heels ahead and linebacker Jeff Schoettmer returned an interception for a score on the next snap.

      North Carolina racked up 28 unanswered points in less than four minutes, aided by Liberty's three third-quarter turnovers.

      No. 24 Missouri 38, South Dakota State 18

      COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Marcus Murphy's 102-yard kick return created Missouri's only points of the second and third quarter, and a fourth-quarter 30-yard touchdown pass from Maty Mauk to Bud Sasser provided breathing room for Missouri in a closer-than-expected game.

      The Tigers' retooled starting offense started strong, with touchdowns on three of its first four drives of the game. That included two long scoring passes from Mauk to Darius White, for 44 and 39 yards.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    LSU wipes out deficit, sinks Wisconsin
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON – New season, same LSU.

    • No. 13 LSU scored on four consecutive possessions and staged a riveting second-half comeback to rally past 14th-ranked Wisconsin 28-24 on Saturday night in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium.

      The Tigers (1-0) extended their regular-season nonconference winning streak to 46 games by erasing a 17-point deficit. Wisconsin took a 24-7 lead when running back Corey Clement pounded his way into the end zone with 12:24 left in the third quarter.

      LSU responded by doing what it has done repeatedly under coach Les Miles, improving to an FBS-best 22-21 since 2005 when trailing in the fourth quarter.

      "There's a resiliency and a competitiveness that says, 'We've dug ourselves a nice little hole. Now let's get it done,'" Miles said.

      Fittingly for the Miles-coached Tigers, momentum swung on a trick play. Facing fourth down at their 43-yard line on the possession immediately after the Clement touchdown, LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith gained 5 yards on a fake punt to kick start the comeback. LSU cashed in with a 30-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal and then added a 47-yard Delahoussaye field goal on their ensuing possession.

      "The momentum change at that point was significant," Miles said. "I think our guys started feeling it and our opponent realized that we're not going anywhere and they're going to have to play to the bitter end.”

      With momentum firmly in hand, LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings completed a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Diarse with 12:08 left to play, with Jennings and receiver Trey Quinn connecting on the subsequent two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 24-21.

      Diarse broke three tackles en route to the end zone after LSU picked up the Wisconsin third-down blitz. After LSU safety Jalen Mills picked off Badgers quarterback Tanner McEvoy, LSU converted again.

      The Tigers briskly covered 53 yards in three plays, 45 on runs up the gut by running back Kenny Hilliard. The final gash carried Hilliard into the end zone from 28 yards, pushing LSU in front for the first time and punctuating the vulnerability of the Badgers after they lost defensive linemen Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring to injury.

      After averaging just 1.1 yards per attempt on 15 rushes in the first half, the Tigers amassed 110 rushing yards after the intermission.

      "They went to some read zone scenarios and they're good coaches and made some adjustments," Badgers coach Gary Andersen said. "I thought we adjusted back to it pretty well and at the end of the day they ran the ball well and they made a gigantic play on the last touchdown they got that broke the game open. The kid (Hilliard) made a tremendous play."

      Hilliard rushed for 110 yards and a score. LSU receiver Travin Duval caught three passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

      LSU extended its school record of season-opening victories to 12 consecutive games.

      Running back Melvin Gordon led the Badgers with 140 yards on 16 carries but somewhat mysteriously had just four carries after the break.

      "They went with Corey ... which is OK," Gordon said. "Corey is a great player. He could have got the job done. When I got back in (after LSU secured the lead), we were trying to pass the ball and get the ball down the field because it was limited time, obviously, so we had to score."

      Wisconsin (0-1) had its streak of 16 consecutive season-opening victories snapped and dropped to 0-3 all time against the Tigers.

      Save for Jennings' 80-yard touchdown pass to Dural that came on a broken play, LSU mustered next to nothing offensively in the first half. The Tigers produced more punts (seven) than first downs (six) and, subtracting the Dural catch-and-run, managed just 56 yards on 29 plays.

      "I got more comfortable in the pocket, more comfortable with what the defense they were running," Jennings said after passing for 239 yards and two touchdowns. "My teammates calmed me down and got me in the groove of things."

      The Badgers scuffled, too, but their conversion of an LSU turnover early in the second quarter proved critical, with linebacker Joe Schobert forcing the fumble and free safety Michael Caputo pouncing on the loose ball at the LSU 31. Five plays later, Gordon darted through a gaping hole before diving into the end zone, bumping the Wisconsin lead to 17-7 with 7:36 left in the half via his 14-yard run.

      NOTES: Tigers QB Anthony Jennings became the first sophomore to start at quarterback for LSU in a season opener since Jordan Jefferson against Washington in 2009. ... Badgers DE Konrad Zagzebski was immobilized and taken off the field on a gurney following a first-quarter collision with Tigers RB Kenny Hilliard. Zagzebski appeared to motion with his hand as he was removed from the field. He was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. ... With his 12th and final carry of the first half, Badgers RB Melvin Gordon became eligible to break the Big Team career rushing average record of 7.27 yards per carry set by Ki-Jana Carter (Penn State, 1992-94). Gordon is averaging 8.12 yards per carry.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Winston, No. 1 FSU hold off Oklahoma State
    By The Sports Xchange

    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Florida State's season-opening victory wasn't nearly as easy as forecast.

    • But in the end, the Seminoles' ambition of back-to-back national titles remained alive after a triumphant, albeit hard-fought, season opener against Oklahoma State.

      Quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 370 yards with a touchdown passing and rushing in Florida State's 37-31 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night.

      The victory marked the defending national champion Seminoles' 17th consecutive triumph.

      Winston's 50-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rashad Greene with 3:58 left sealed the Seminoles' victory. Greene had 11 catches for 2013 yards and a touchdown, a 50-yard catch-and-run that ultimately sealed the victory.

      "Any time you get challenged (it's good)," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We didn't play well and that's a credit to Oklahoma State, but we still made critical plays when we had to make critical plays.

      "I hope this is a lesson to our guys you have to play great. Not be great. Play great."

      The Seminoles avoided becoming the first defending national champion to lose a season opener since Michigan in 1998.

      Winston starred, though he wasn't at his best while finishing 25-of-40 passing and racking up better than three-quarters of Florida State's 476 total.

      Winston, a sophomore who passed for 4,057 yards last season, also had a rushing touchdown, though he threw two interceptions that kept the Cowboys' head above water in the first half.

      Oklahoma State also helped its cause by holding Florida State to field goals in the early going.

      Florida State's Robert Aguayo kicked three field goals, among them a 37-yarder with 5:13 left that, coupled with Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh's fumble on the ensuing drive, essentially sealed shut the Cowboys' upset hopes.

      "We have to get more hungry," Winston said. "There's no reason to get upset. Oklahoma State was outstanding. They never gave up. They played their tails off.

      "We had a couple of opportunities to put the game away. We have to get better."

      Defensive back Nate Andrews scored the Seminoles' first touchdown, a 9-yard interception return midway through the first quarter. Running back Mario Pender also had a rushing touchdown for Florida State.

      Quarterback J.W. Walsh had 203 yards passing and a touchdown -- 55 yards to wide receiver David Glidden -- and two rushing touchdowns for Oklahoma State.

      Oklahoma State running back Desmond Roland had a rushing touchdown.

      Junior college transfer Tyreek Hill had 106 total yards in his first game for the Cowboys.

      "I thought he played pretty good," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of Walsh. "Both quarterbacks made some plays and some mistakes.

      "When you're playing in a game like this, there's going to be some good plays and some bad plays."

      Florida State entered a heavy favorite with 15 starters returning from 2013's 14-0 national-championship team, while Oklahoma State was starting anew after losing 28 seniors off a 10-3 team.

      A mismatch it appeared to be as the Seminoles showed early why prognosticators believed the preseason consensus No. 1 team in the nation would return here in January and play for a second consecutive national championship after Florida State's all-white uniforms flashed across the stadium's carpet in racing to a 17-0 lead.

      The Cowboys didn't help themselves with two mistakes early.

      Oklahoma State began its second drive from their own 2 after bungling the ensuing kickoff after the Seminoles' 36-yard field goal by Aguayo on their opening drive.

      On the first play from scrimmage, Walsh's pass attempt was intercepted by Andrews, who trotted in from 9 yards and a Seminoles 10-0 lead.

      After holding Florida State to a punt, Oklahoma State wide receiver Tyreek Hill returned the ball 28 yards to near midfield. The gain, though, was cut by 15 yards because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

      The Cowboys could have used those yards after moving the ball into Florida State territory but missing on a 42-yard field-goal attempt.

      Oklahoma State's defense kept the Cowboys in the game early even after Pender's 11-yard scoring run increased Florida State's lead to 17-0.

      Roland's 1-yard touchdown was much-needed for Oklahoma State, which intercepted Winston twice in the first half.

      The second by Ashton Lampkin at midfield resulted in Ben Grogan's 37-yard field goal at the end of the half that cut the Seminoles' lead to 17-10.

      "You don't ever know what to expect with so many young players on the field," Gundy said. "They played hard. They made mistakes but made them going full speed.

      "I think the one thing we proved is these young players won't back down from anybody."

      NOTES: Florida State sophomore LB Chris Casher, who did not participate in the Seminoles' final practice before leaving for Texas, was scratched from the starting lineup and did not play. Casher, who played in 13 games as a redshirt freshman a season ago, has an academic issue waiting to be cleared up, according to the university. He was replaced by sophomore DeMarcus Walker. ... The game was the sixth in the Cowboys Classic series. ... This is the fifth matchup between the teams, dating to the 1958 Bluegrass Bowl in Louisville, Ky. ... Florida State QB Jameis Winston became the second Heisman Trophy winner to play in the Cowboys Classic. Sam Bradford was the first in the inaugural year of 2009.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    USC opens Sarkisian era with rout of Fresno State
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Having endured a week that ran the gamut of soap opera ("As The Ankle Turns") and reality mess, USC did its own very convincing impression of a video game on Saturday night, soundly beating Fresno State 52-13 in the season opener for both teams at the L.A. Coliseum.

    • Using new coach Steve Sarkisian's up-tempo offense, the 15th-ranked Trojans scored touchdowns on their first three drives and seemed to do whatever they wanted offensively throughout the game.

      "That was fun," said Sarkisian, who had been offensive coordinator for USC before leaving to become Washington's head coach for five years, and returned promising to instill the no-huddle, fast-paced offense he had used up north.

      But before he could, stuff happened. Weird stuff. The sideline must have been a welcome respite for Sarkisian, who spent the week answering questions about suspended USC cornerback Josh Shaw's bogus story about injuring his ankles while saving a drowning child and then had to react by being called a "racist" by a former player.

      "Nowhere in the coaching manual is there a section that tells you how to deal with what we had to deal with this week," Sarkisian said.

      But any concerns anyone had that the week's events would have an effect on USC were dispelled almost immediately as the Trojans scored touchdowns early and often. USC quarterback Cody Kessler ran Sarkisian's offense as if he had been doing it his entire career, throwing for four touchdowns and a career-high 394 yards.

      "I always thought (Kessler) would be a good fit in the system," Sarkisian said. "His athleticism, his ability to buy time and then throw an accurate ball; he drove the car really well tonight."

      Kessler and USC's impressive performance came against a quality opponent. Frenso State is a two-time defending Mountain West champion that played USC in the Las Vegas Bowl last year. But the Bulldogs seemed not only to have no answer for USC but to be knocked a bit back on its heels by the Trojans' pace. Midway through the first quarter, Bulldogs defensive linemen already appeared to be gassed with hands on hips.

      "We couldn't get off the field in the first half," said Fresno State safety Derron Smith. "There were lots of times where we just couldn't make a tackle or get a stop."

      Sarkisian said he was aiming for 85 offensive plays in the game, but the Trojans were even faster than that. They had run 97 plays -- the most by a Trojans team since 1972 -- midway through the fourth quarter.

      The Trojans gained 430 yards on 62 plays in the first half. Not only were they fast, but they were balanced, throwing 31 passes and running the ball 31 times in the first 30 minutes.

      Things got off to a fast start on USC's first possession. Starting at their own 10 after the opening kickoff, the Trojans went on a 17-play, 90-yard drive resulting in a touchdown on Kessler's 1-yard run.

      USC went on to score touchdowns on its first three drives and Kessler threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns in the half, including an 18-yard strike to prized recruit Adoree Jackson with less than a minute left in the second quarter.

      Fresno State's quarterbacks struggled. Starter Brian Burrell couldn't move his team and was replaced in the second quarter by Brandon Connette, who seemed to spark the Bulldogs, taking them on a 75-yard TD drive, with Marteze Waller scoring from the 1 on fourth down.

      But Connette struggled himself, completing just 4 of 13 passes and throwing two interceptions.

      "At times we got into a really good rhythm," said Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter. "But we just couldn't sustain it."

      Kessler said he and his teammates are hoping they can sustain what they did Saturday next week when they travel north to play Stanford in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. Kessler said he's never concerned about what his team has gone through or what they face, given that they all went through a baptism by fire last season when they managed to win 10 games despite playing under three head coaches.

      "We went through so much last year," he said. "Nothing can affect us."

      NOTES: Perhaps a sign that USC is almost recovered from NCAA scholarship sanctions, the Trojans played nine true freshmen in the first quarter. ... Though it came in as a three-touchdown underdog, Fresno State didn't figure to be intimidated by USC, which it beat in a bowl game in 1992. In fact, besides USC, Fresno State has beaten five other Pac-12 programs, including Oregon State and UCLA twice each. ... USC DE Leonard Williams, already projected by some as the top pick in next year's NFL draft, intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned it for 10 yards. It was Williams' second career interception.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    No. 20 Kansas State rolls in opener
    By The Sports Xchange

    MANHATTAN, Kan. -- When a ranked FBS team plays an opponent from the FCS, a victory is assumed and a blowout is always a possibility. The No. 20 Kansas State Wildcats made sure they were not the exception by mixing up their offense and pummeling Stephen F. Austin 55-16 on Saturday night before 52,830 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

    • "We have so much," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said when asked why his squad showed so many looks against an overmatched opponent. "We showed just a very minimal portion of what we actually have available. At best, that might be 40 percent of what we have the ability to do."

      That may be alarming for Iowa State, which hosts Kansas State next Saturday after losing 34-14 to three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State on Saturday.

      Quarterback Jake Waters was 19-of-28 passing for 223 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Wildcats (1-0). He also had two touchdowns on the ground. Waters was pleased with all the options he had at his discretion.

      "I was saying all along that I was excited to see those dudes get out there and play," he said. "They made some great plays. The running backs were seeing the holes great. The receivers were stepping up when we needed them to. That's a great sign.

      "We want to have balance on offense. We don't want to tip what we're going to do. We want to get in manageable downs where we can pass or run."

      The Wildcats were held scoreless on only three of their offensive possessions, one of which was the last drive of the first half when they missed a 45-yard field goal attempt on the final play.

      Stephen F. Austin (0-1) was held to 95 total yards in the second half.

      Snyder, who is well-known for finding a cloud with every silver lining, was generally pleased with his team's effort.

      "I don't want to take away from the positive things our guys did, but I'll probably dwell on the things that weren't so good," he said. "I thought we played reasonably well offensively. We scored on our first four possessions. Defensively, we still have work to do."

      K-State put the game away early in the second half. After a three-and-out to open the half, the Wildcats held SFA on downs just past midfield. The offense responded with a six-play, 59-yard drive for a 35-10 lead. Waters had his second touchdown pass of the game, a 22-yarder to receiver Kody Cook.

      On the ensuing drive, linebacker Will Davis forced and recovered a fumble by Lumberjacks running back Gus Johnson, setting up another score, and the rout was on.

      Kansas State relied heavily on the inexperienced running game, especially in the second half. The Wildcats had 38 plays from scrimmage after intermission and 28 of them were runs. The Wildcats returned just 11 carries and 45 yards from last season in their backfield, but the running backs gained 168 yards on the ground.

      "I felt like my performance was pretty good, especially for my first game," said Charles Jones, who gained 55 yards and scored twice on eight carries. "There's always room for improvement."

      DeMarcus Robinson, who started at running back, added, "When (Jones) is getting off and I'm getting off, it's going to be fun."

      The Wildcats, who lost their home opener last year to North Dakota State, wasted little time in asserting their dominance over the Lumberjacks. They scored on their first drive of the season, an 11-play, 69-yard march capped by a 9-yard pass from Waters to preseason All-American receiver Tyler Lockett. They followed with three more drives of 60, 60 and 50 yards.

      "I have to give credit to Kansas State," SFA coach Clint Conque said. "They are a great, physical football team. Any time you play against a dual-threat quarterback -- and they do have talented young backs -- you make yourself susceptible to the quarterback run and the play-action pass. That hurt us defensively.

      "We knew it was a tremendous challenge coming in here. We will certainly take some positives."

      Waters was 15-of-20 for 174 yards and one touchdown in the first half. He also was Kansas State's leading rusher with 44 yards on 12 carries, including two touchdowns. The Wildcats ran 42 plays, split almost evenly among running (22) and passing (20) plays.

      The Wildcats did give up 199 yards of offense to the Lumberjacks in the first half. There were some busted coverages in the secondary, and backup quarterback Joe Minden's 18-yard touchdown run exposed some flaws in the defense.

      NOTES: The game was the first matchup of the two programs. It was the eighth time (0-8) that Stephen F. Austin has played a team currently in the Big 12 Conference. ... K-State's No. 20 ranking is the second-highest all-time among SFA opponents, bettered by No. 19 Baylor in 2011. ... Kansas State improved to 21-2 in season-opening games under head coach Bill Snyder. Snyder lost his first game as head coach at K-State in 1989. In 2013, Kansas State lost at home to North Dakota State.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Knight directs No. 4 Sooners to opening win
    By The Sports Xchange

    NORMAN, Okla. -- Trevor Knight wrapped up 2013 with a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama.

    • Knight's start to 2014 wasn't quite as glorious, but it was pretty good.

      "It felt good to get the first one under our belt," Knight said.

      The Oklahoma quarterback showed some consistency and maturity and the No. 4 Sooners opened their season with a convincing 48-16 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday night at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in front of 85,063 fans.

      Knight, who capped the 2013 season with four touchdown passes in the Sooners' Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, threw for 253 yards and a touchdown in his first start of 2014.

      The performance certainly can't be considered a surprise, considering Louisiana Tech was completely overmatched by the deeper, more talented Sooners. But Knight doesn't have an established track record of success. He beat Alabama, but the redshirt sophomore finished just three games he started a season ago and was benched twice.

      Unlike a season ago, when Knight struggled as the starter against Louisiana Monroe, scoring no points in the first quarter, Knight completed 6 of 7 passes for 76 yards on Saturday and led the Sooners to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Oklahoma averaged 7.2 yards per play in the quarter while holding Tech to 28 yards.

      After forcing a punt on the Bulldogs' first possession, Oklahoma needed just 3:36 to go ahead 7-0. The final 22 yards of the 70-yard drive came on a run from sophomore running back Keith Ford.

      "He was real good early," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said of Knight. "I thought he managed the game really well and was decisive."

      On the next possession, receiver Sterling Shepard caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Knight to conclude a five-play, 54-yard drive.

      Ford added another touchdown, a 5-yard run with 33 seconds left in the first quarter, and running back Alex Ross scored a second-quarter touchdown, capping an 11-play, 72-yard drive that put the Sooners up 31-0.

      "Our priority was to start fast," Knight said. "I think we did that. We had a great first quarter then we missed a few things. It was our first game in several months. That happens."

      Oklahoma gained 270 yards in the first half and Knight completed 11 of 16 passes for 142 yards. He finished 19 of 34.

      Knight completed passes to seven receivers, including four each to Shepard and Ford. And while Knight returned with some experience, there wasn't a lot coming back at receiver and running back.

      "It was a great experience," Louisiana Tech defensive back Kentrell Brice said. "It taught us where our defense is and what we need to work on."

      Newcomer Samaje Perine had a team-best 77 yards rushing and a touchdown. Ford finished with 51 yards on nine carries and Ross had 36 yards on 11 carries. Ford led all receivers with 65 yards.

      Oklahoma needed just 1:29 to score in the second half as Ross went in from 8 yards. The Sooners finished with 436 yards -- 183 on the ground.

      Louisiana Tech got its final score with 37 seconds left on a 22-yard pass from Cody Sokol to sophomore receiver Trent Taylor. Sokol was 22 of 36 for 191 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

      "That was a good team," Sokol said. "I think we did a lot of good things, but we have a lot of things that we need to improve on going into next week. I feel like that was a good game for us to play. Going against a good team like that, number four in the nation. You want to put together good things, good drives, and I think we handled it pretty well."

      Oklahoma plays at Tulsa next Saturday. Tulsa won in overtime against Tulane on Thursday night.

      NOTES: Oklahoma blocked a field goal attempt for the first time since 2004 when Zack Sanchez blocked a first-quarter attempt. ... Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said DB Cortez Johnson has not been with the team the past few days and also said he didn't know where DT Quincy Russell was. Stoops said both may have quit the team. ... Sterling Griffin had seven catches for 74 yards for the Bulldogs. ... Oklahoma was just 5-of-13 on third-down conversions but was 4-of-4 on fourth-down conversions. ... Starting MLB Jordan Evans was ejected in the first quarter after being penalized for targeting.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Gurley leads No. 12 Georgia past No. 16 Clemson
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia running back Todd Gurley was injured in last year's season-opening loss at Clemson and didn't impact the game as much as he had hoped.

    • He more than made amends Saturday night.

      Gurley rushed for 198 yards and scored four touchdowns, including one on a 100-yard kickoff return, as 12th-ranked Georgia rolled to a 45-21 victory against No. 16 Clemson in the season-opener for both teams.

      "I had a lot more energy than I usually do," Gurley said.

      Apparently. On a hot and humid night at Sanford Stadium, Gurley heated up as the night wore on, gaining 154 of his yards in the second half.

      The junior tailback, who had just four carries at the half, was relentless in the second half, delighting a Sanford Stadium crowd of 92,746 by sparking a Georgia offense that scored 24 straight points and turned a 21-21 game into a rout.

      Gurley finished with a school-record 293 all-purpose yards and made an early statement for Heisman Trophy voters.

      "Gurley is as good as it gets," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "All their backs ran hard, but Gurley was special tonight.

      "Eventually, when you're tackling a horse like Gurley, you miss a tackle. We missed some tackles. Give him some credit. He broke some tackles."

      Georgia's defense also stepped up in the second half, allowing Clemson just one first down and 15 total yards in the final 30 minutes.

      "We took a little pressure off our corners by not playing as much man coverage," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "And we challenged our men inside to keep them from running the football."

      It worked. Clemson's longest play of the second half was 14 yards and quarterbacks Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson were under constant duress thanks to a Georgia defense that notched nine tackles for loss, including five sacks.

      It also helped that Georgia kept Clemson pinned deep in its own territory -- the Tigers' average starting field position was its own 19-yard line while Georgia's average starting spot was its own 43.

      "We were right there in it, in a tough environment," Swinney said. "It was a three-point game in the fourth quarter, but we just couldn't get the field position flipped. You cannot keep giving a good offense the ball in great field position like we did.

      "For us, it was three-and-out, three-and-out, and we just could not get any rhythm. They eventually just wore us down."

      Clemson outgained Georgia 276-113 in the first half but still found itself in a 21-21 tie.

      The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards in 12 plays, with D.J. Howard capping the drive with a 1-yard plunge.

      But Georgia struck back, scoring twice in the first quarter for a 14-7 lead on Gurley's 23-yard run and a 2-yard run by quarterback Hutson Mason, a fifth-year senior who was making his first start.

      After three consecutive three-and-outs by Clemson, Swinney inserted highly touted freshman Watson at quarterback, and he promptly guided the Tigers on a six-play, 78-yard drive. Watson connected on two big throws, hitting Mike Williams for a 29-yard gain on third-and-4, then throwing a 30-yard touchdown strike to Charone Peake for a touchdown on the next play.

      Clemson scored again on its next possession, this time under Stoudt's guidance, driving 68 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a 1-yard run by C.J. Davidson.

      But Gurley returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to tie the game for a third time with 7:15 left in the first half, and it was all downhill for Clemson after that.

      "By far the biggest play was the kickoff return for a touchdown," Richt said. "It just got us right back in it. We made a commitment this week that even if it was three, four, five, even six yards deep, we were coming out of there."

      Gurley did just that, gathering the kickoff four yards deep and streaking untouched up the middle of the field.

      Clemson kicker Ammon Lakip missed a 34-yard field goal attempt with 48 seconds left in the half following a drive that would turn out to be the Tigers' last real threat of the game.

      NOTES: Georgia improved to 53-10 under coach Mark Richt against teams outside the Southeastern Conference, including 37-1 at home since 2006. ... Georgia RB Todd Gurley's 293 all-purpose yards broke the Georgia record of 290 yards set by Rodney Hampton in 1987. ... Clemson WR Charone Peake's 30-yard touchdown catch in the first half was his first reception and first touchdown since last year's second game against South Carolina State. Peake missed the Tigers' remaining 11 games last season with a torn ACL. ... Clemson fell to 45-7 under Dabo Swinney when leading or tied at the half.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    Morgan State falls short at Eastern Michigan
    By The Sports Xchange

    YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Morgan State couldn't quite win one for Marquese on Saturday night, but they plan to play for him all season.

    • The Bears played with heavy hearts in their opener after the death of freshman defensive lineman Marquese Meadow on Sunday. They fought back from a 14-point deficit, only to fall 31-28 to Eastern Michigan on Saturday night at Rynearson Stadium.

      "It was an emotional roller coaster all week," said Lee Hull, who lost his head coaching debut. "The guys really wanted this game for Marquese, that's why it hurt so bad that we lost the way we lost. But they did a good job of trying to stay focused so they could come out here and perform and try to get the win for Marquese."

      Meadow collapsed in practice on Aug. 10 and never recovered. An autopsy determined that Meadow died of complications from heat stroke. A moment of silence was observed before the kickoff.

      "We just know who we're doing it for now," said Lamont Brown III, who had 174 all-purpose yards and scored twice. "At first, we already had fuel in our fire, being picked to finish last in the MEAC, but now we have somebody we're really playing for. We're playing for his mother, we're playing for his family and we're playing for ourselves, so that we stay strong the rest of the season."

      The Bears may have found their quarterback the rest of the way after a season-long competition last year. Robert Council passed for 269 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 71 yards in Hull's spread attack.

      "The way our coaches have it set up, whatever the defense does, we've got more than one option for that play," said Council, who completed 18 of 28 passes. "We've got three plays in one, so I feel we're ready."

      Council, who threw two touchdown passes in nine games last season, completed a 46-yard scoring pass to Brown and a 34-yarder to Landen Malbrough to erase an early 21-7 deficit by halftime. He also found Thomas Martin on a 75-yard scoring strike to put the Bears up 28-21 in the third quarter.

      What Morgan State couldn't do was stop the run in the second half. It gave up 200 yards on the ground after halftime and 292 overall.

      "Eastern Michigan did a good job. They're big up front and they decided that they were just going to try to run the ball on us, pound us," said Hull, who was the University of Maryland's wide receivers coach the last six seasons. "We've got to hold up better, get off the field and get some stops on defense."

      The Eagles moved back in front 31-28 on Ryan Brumfield's 14-yard run late in the third quarter and Dylan Mulder's 42-yard field goal with 13:41 remaining.

      The game was delayed 57 minutes by rain with 9:13 remaining in regulation. Brown fumbled at his own 44 with 5:21 left, but Mulder missed a 27-yard field-goal try to give the Bears new life. They drove as far as the Eagles' 38, but Chris Moller missed a desperation 60-yard field-goal try as time expired.

      "We had some first-game jitters," Brown said. "At some point in the game, everybody had a misstep, a miscommunication or something. We've just got to be much better the rest of the season."

      The new spread attack looked potent in the opening series, as the Bears drove 75 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. Council accounted for 77 yards on the drive, including three passes to slot receiver Ricky Fisk and a 23-yard run. Brown finished it off with a 3-yard run.

      Eastern Michigan scored the next 21 points with the aid of some Morgan State special teams breakdown. The Eagles recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown and also blocked a field-goal attempt.

      "That's 10 points right there," Hull said. "We've got to find out where those breakdowns were and we've got to get that fixed for next week."

      NOTES: The medical waiver application by Bears senior TE Nate Ingram was denied by the NCAA, thus ending his career. Senior Erne Akonawe replaced him at that position. ... The Bears had a 1-5 record against Mid-American Conference opponents, with the lone victory coming against Buffalo (45-27) on Oct. 3, 1992. Eastern Michigan had a 4-0 record against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference teams. ... Morgan State true freshmen Ehijele Ubuane and Matthew Thompson played at RT in place of junior Daniel Onwuegbu, who did not make the trip for undisclosed reasons. ... Morgan State had never previously played Eastern Michigan or in the state of Michigan.

  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
    No. 23 North Carolina holds off Liberty
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- For all the talk about the quarterback competition for No. 23 North Carolina, it was the defense that turned the tide in the season opener.

    • The Tar Heels scored on back-to-back plays from scrimmage in the third quarter to help avoid an upset, defeating Liberty 56-29 on Saturday night at Kenan Stadium.

      "The defense starts creating turnovers left and right," North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. "It was just a change in attitude, really. It was the energy level of the guys."

      North Carolina racked up 28 unanswered points in a 3-minute, 49-second span, aided by Liberty's three third-quarter turnovers.

      Quarterback Marquise Williams threw his second touchdown pass of the game to put the Tar Heels ahead and linebacker Jeff Schoettmer returned an interception for a score on the next snap.

      Williams and Mitch Trubisky shared the quarterback role, but the defense shined the most at a crucial juncture.

      "You've got to have that groove, that rhythm," Williams said. "We lacked that some, but we picked that up."

      The momentum shift began when Williams' swing pass to wide receiver Mack Hollins turned into a 33-yard touchdown play. Hollins, a sophomore, scored his first career touchdown on his second catch -- and the first reception came one play earlier.

      Schoettmer's 19-yard return with an interception was the junior's first career pick-off.

      "It felt great," Schoettmer said. "It had been a long time since I'd been in the end zone (since as a high school freshman). It was better to give a spark to my team."

      Liberty's next play resulted in cornerback Kedrick Davis' fumble recovery for the Tar Heels, who turned that into Williams' 15-yard touchdown scramble as their lead grew to 42-22.

      "We still left some plays out there that we should have made, but again I thought we made enough plays to be in the ball game," Liberty coach Turner Gill said. "Obviously in the third quarter we kind of fell apart."

      Trubisky's 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jack Tabb came four plays after North Carolina safety Dominique Greene returned a fumble to the Liberty 23.

      "We've got a long way to go," Fedora said. "There's nothing pretty about that game when you get outside of that four minutes."

      The Tar Heels tacked on running back Charles Brunson's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:16 to play.

      North Carolina's ambush came after the Flames went ahead. Liberty safety Jacob Hagen returned receiver Quinshad Davis' fumble 27 yards for a touchdown as the Flames claimed a 22-21 lead with 9:25 left in the third quarter.

      "We got it together," Schoettmer said. "We got it together and got stops."

      Williams finished 19-for-29 for 169 yards with two interceptions.

      Running back Todd Macon had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs for Liberty, which committed six turnovers.

      Quarterback Josh Woodrum completed 16 of 33 passes for 189 yards for Liberty.

      "You learn from it and you stay together as a team," Gill said. "You just keep going to work."

      North Carolina led 21-15 at halftime after Williams scored on a 3-yard keeper with 28 seconds remaining in the half. That came barely a minute following Liberty's go-ahead score.

      Liberty outgained North Carolina 240-214 in the first half.

      The Flames claimed a 15-14 edge on running back D.J. Abnar's 1-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion pass failed.

      North Carolina scored on its first possession, with wide receiver Bug Howard catching Williams' 7-yard touchdown pass capping an eight-play, 61-yard drive.

      Liberty pulled even on Macon's 1-yard run with 4:44 left in the opening quarter.

      North Carolina responded six plays later on running back Romar Morris' 1-yard touchdown run. That marked the first series with Trubisky at the helm.

      A wild snap with the Tar Heels in punt formation gave Liberty a safety. That marked the first safety for a North Carolina opponent since 2010.

      NOTES: These schools had never met in football. It's the first time Liberty faced a nationally ranked Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. ... North Carolina played without DBs Des Lawrence, Donnie Miles, M.J. Stewart and Brian Walker because of one-game suspension handed down stemming from a violation of team rules. This came amid allegations of a preseason hazing incident, though the university has declined to connect the suspensions to a specific case. ... North Carolina DT Ethan Farmer was cleared to play three days before the opener when the school received notice from the NCAA that an eligibility issue was resolved. He's the only returning starter on the Tar Heels' defensive line. ... Liberty tied for first place in each of the first two seasons in the Big South Conference under third-year coach Turner Gill.

  • Saturday, August 30, 2014
    Johnson, Marshall lead No. 6 Auburn past Arkansas
    By The Sports Xchange

    AUBURN, Ala. -- No. 6 Auburn faced some early adversity Saturday in its season opener against Arkansas, and in the process the Tigers found out three very important things about their new team.

    • The defense has improved. Senior quarterback Nick Marshall is still the unquestioned leader. And the program is in terrific hands with sophomore Jeremy Johnson in the years to come.

      With Marshall suspended the first half, Johnson helped fuel 21 early points with 243 yards passing and two touchdowns, then Marshall came in and helped finished the Razorbacks off to the tune of a 45-21 win in both teams' season opener.

      It didn't hurt that the Tigers' defense also pitched a second-half shutout.

      "(The defensive adjustments) changed the whole tone of the game," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Our defense made the right adjustments. We started playing physical ball."

      Marshall's final stats -- 50 yards passing and 18 yards rushing -- don't tell the whole story of what his entry into the game to start the second half meant. The Tigers' offense was sputtering some after 21 quick points, and their defense had given up 21 points of its own as the two teams went to halftime tied 21-21.

      "It was a good feeling. The guys wanted to come out swinging hard," said Arkansas safety Alan Turner, who led the team with nine tackles.

      But Marshall drove Auburn down the field in his first series of the second half, capping it with a 19-yard touchdown run that put the Tigers ahead 28-21.

      And Auburn (1-0 overall, 1-0 in the SEC) never looked back.

      Auburn's defense was led by a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown and seven tackles from defensive back Jermaine Whitehead. Auburn defensive back Jonathon Mincy, who didn't start the game after serving the same half-game suspension as Marshall, tied Whitehead for the team lead with seven tackles. Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy added six stops, including two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

      "I was able to make a play on the ball. I had some good pressure from the up-front guys," Whitehead said of his pick-6. "It was in the air so long that I had plenty of time to think about it."

      Arkansas lost its 12th consecutive conference game dating to the 2012 season. The Razorbacks, however, looked vastly improved for at least a half -- especially junior quarterback Brandon Allen, who tallied 175 yards passing and threw two touchdowns in the loss.

      "Overall, obviously, two quarters of football we can live with, and two that we can't," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. "We thought at halftime coming in if we could go back out and match that effort in the second half. Give Auburn the credit, they were able to do it, we weren't."

      The Razorbacks had won three of the last four games at Auburn, but the national championship runner-up Tigers rebounded well in this season opener from their crushing last-second loss to No. 1 Florida State in college football's final BCS title game last season.

      This season marks the beginning of the NCAA's first four-team playoff format to decide the national champ, and Auburn's 595 yards -- plus a 1-0 start in the nation's toughest conference -- were a good place to begin Saturday.

      "It was a good game. We had a good game plan. They gave us the looks that we worked on in practice and we just came out and executed well," said Auburn senior starting running back Cameron Artis-Payne, who led the rushing attack -- which ranked No. 1 in the nation a season ago at an average of 328 yards a game -- with 26 carries for 178 yards, scoring on a 1-yard dive on Auburn's second drive to put the Tigers ahead 14-7. "The first half was a little slow but we picked it up toward the end."

      The game featured a 1-hour and 15-minute weather delay in the fourth quarter because of lightning. It finally resumed under a heavy downpour with Auburn ahead, 38-21.

      "I'm very proud that our fans hung in there with us," Malzahn said. "They helped us finish the game."

      With Marshall suspended for misdemeanor marijuana possession during the offseason, Johnson got the start. Johnson, a 6-foot-5 former Mr. Alabama Football, made sure the Tigers' offense remained a well-oiled machine. Johnson completed 7 of 7 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown in the first quarter and finished 12 of 16 for 243 yards and two TDs before giving way to Marshall to open the second half.

      The sophomore led the Tigers to a score on their opening drive of the game, finding junior wideout Melvin Ray for a 49-yard catch-and-run just five minutes in.

      The Arkansas rushing attack plowed through Auburn's defense on its second possession and answered with a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive in under three minutes. It was capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Allen to wideout Hunter Henry that made it 7-7 with 6:44 left in the quarter.

      One possession later -- after a long touchdown run by Artis-Payne was nullified by a Tigers penalty -- Johnson propelled Auburn to a 21-7 lead with an 18-yard TD strike to junior wideout D'haquille Williams.

      "Nick is still our quarterback, but Jeremy will have a role (this year)," Malzahn said. "I'm very proud of Johnson. We have two outstanding quarterbacks."

      Williams was the nation's No. 1 junior college prospect this offseason, and he didn't disappoint in his Auburn debut, finishing with nine catches for 154 yards.

      Arkansas didn't go away, rallying from a 14-point hole and tying the game at 21-21 just before halftime. First, Allen finished off a six-play, 75-yard drive with a 17-yard TD pass to senior tight end AJ Derby.

      Then the Arkansas defense forced its first stop and the offense responded with a 10-play, 93-yard drive that was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Williams.

      Auburn missed a chance to take a lead into halftime when kicker Daniel Carlson missed a 42-yard field goal as time expired.

      After the weather delay, Auburn drove 85 yards in eight plays, effectively sealing it when backup running back Corey Grant, a senior, capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run to make it 45-21.

      Alex Collins led Arkansas with 68 yards rushing and Demetrius Wilson finished with a team-high four catches and 55 yards. Junior safety Rohan Gaines and sophomore linebacker Brooks Ellis each tallied eight tackles in the loss.

      NOTES: There was a moment of silence before kickoff as the Tigers honored the memory of former stars Philip Lutzenkirchen and David Langer. The 23-year-old Lutzenkirchen, an NFL draft prospect who played on the Tigers' 2010 national title team, died in a car crash earlier this year, while Langer, 62, recently lost his battle with cancer. ... Arkansas QB Brandon Allen, who shined Saturday, deserved some good fortune after having a tough last week. Allen's truck was set on fire and destroyed Monday in an incident being investigated as a potential case of arson. Reports speculated the fire may have been due to Allen's rough end to last season, coupled with some displeasure among the fan base after he was named the starter for this game. Allen's teammates, however, seemed to be in his corner. "The whole team has (your) back and we all know you're the guy to take us to the promised land," tweeted TE AJ Derby after the incident. ... Auburn leads the series with Arkansas 13-10-1. The Tigers won last year's meeting 35-17 in Fayetteville. ... Auburn OL Shon Coleman started his first game since beating Leukemia. "It was great just being back out there with my teammates," Coleman said.

  • Saturday, August 30, 2014
    Abdullah, Nebraska run over Florida Atlantic
    By The Sports Xchange

    LINCOLN, Neb. -- If Ameer Abdullah wasn't a Heisman Trophy candidate before the season began, he probably put his name in early-season conversation after his career day in Nebraska's season opener.

    • Abdullah ran 21 times for a career-high 232 yards, and No. 22 Nebraska amassed 784 yards in defeating Florida Atlantic 55-7 on Saturday before 91,441 fans at Memorial Stadium.

      Abdullah, a senior running back, displayed shifty moves and elusive speed in running for 178 yards on 16 carries in the first half, helping Nebraska (1-0) take a commanding 31-7 halftime lead. He eclipsed his previous career high of 223 yards, set last year against Illinois, with a 9-yard run midway through the third quarter.

      That was his last play, as Nebraska scored two plays later for a 45-7 lead, and Abdullah watched the rest of the game from the sideline. He didn't speak with the media after the game.

      "He's special. I've been saying it. He's really good," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "He can run inside, he can run outside. He's a special player. He's a really good back. I think we showed we have some other guys who can tote the ball, too, and do a pretty good job."

      Among them was sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who was 15-of-29 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns and ran seven times for 62 yards.

      "I thought he got better as camp went on," Pelini said. "I thought that showed today. He put some balls on the money. There were a couple of throws he'd like back, but overall I thought he threw the ball well and really managed the offense well. He had a good command that way. It has to be that way."

      Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp caught seven passes for 125 yards, including his second career touchdown and a highlight-reel, behind-the back catch along the sideline on third-and-6 that kept alive a touchdown drive.

      The only down spot for Nebraska was the loss of junior defensive end Randy Gregory, another All-American candidate, after only one series. Gregory, last year's Big Ten Conference sacks leader, remained on the sideline with what looked like a leg injury.

      Pelini wouldn't elaborate, only to say that Gregory probably could have returned if needed, and is day-to-day.

      Florida Atlantic (0-1) scored on its opening series -- an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a game-tying touchdown -- but advanced into Nebraska territory only one other time in the first half.

      That resulted in a missed 45-yard field goal from Greg Joseph, and the Owls then went three-and-out on seven straight possessions, a streak that lasted until FAU's first series of the fourth quarter. The Owls were held to 200 yards.

      "We just need to keep getting better as a fundamental football team," said first-year FAU coach Charlie Partridge, who took over a team that went 6-6 last season and won its final four games under interim coach Brian Wright.

      "That starts with me, us as coaches, and as we continue to take this journey together, we will embrace every challenge and work to do a better job of stopping the run and running the football -- the ultimate backbone of our football program."

      Owls quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who kept Nebraska's aggressive defensive line off balance with a series of short passes and screens on that opening drive, left with a left shoulder injury in the second quarter.

      Johnson, who rushed four times for 19 yards and threw for 61 yards, didn't return, and his replacement Greg Hankerson, completed 5 of 18 passes for 34 yards.

      "There was consideration of him coming back, but as we work our way through a long season we made the decision to go with Greg and give him a chance to show what he can do at this point," Partridge said. "We feel very confident Quez will be back next week."

      Abdullah ran six times in Nebraska's game-opening drive, a 13-play, 86-yard touchdown march that Armstrong capped with a 4-yard run off a draw play. The Huskers overcame 20 yards of penalties on the drive.

      Abdullah broke away on a 47-yard touchdown that gave Nebraska a 24-7 lead in the second quarter. He sidestepped a tackle attempt by cornerback Cre'von LeBlanc at the 38-yard line and had an open lane to the end zone.

      Westerkamp, whose wide-open 36-yard touchdown catch on a post route gave Nebraska 14-7 lead, hauled in a 33-yard pass that helped set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Imani Cross for a 31-7 lead.

      NOTES: Nebraska won its 30 straight season opener, the longest current streak in the nation. The Huskers' last season-opening loss came at home to Florida State in 1985. ... Florida Atlantic DL Brandin Bryant, an Omaha, Neb., native, is the grandson of the late Charles Bryant, who played in the 1950s and was the first African-American in the modern day to letter for Nebraska. ... Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards and 5,000 all-purpose yards in the first half.