College Football
NCAAF News Wire
  • No. 3 Clemson names Lawrence starting QB
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 24, 2018

    Highly touted freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence will start for No. 3 Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC) on Saturday when the Tigers face Syracuse (4-0, 1-0 ACC) at home.

    • The team made the announcement Monday.

      In last Saturday's game 49-21 win over Georgia Tech, Lawrence came off the bench to replace starter Kelly Bryant and led the Tigers to five touchdowns in six drives.

      Lawrence finished Saturday's game 13-of-18 passing for 176 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception.

      Four games into the season, Lawrence is 39 of 60 passing for 600 yards. He has nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

      On Saturday, reporters asked coach Dabo Swinney if it was time to replace Bryant, who started last season after starter Deshaun Watson left for the NFL.

      "Well (Lawrence) certainly played great," Swinney said. "I thought Kelly (Bryant) came back in and did a good job, too. We're going to enjoy it tonight. We're not going to set the depth chart here in the postgame press conference. We're going to celebrate a win, enjoy it and as coaches, we'll get back in the office tomorrow, evaluate and watch all the tape and go from there, just like we do every week."

      Last week, Swinney had this to say: "If it changes and one (quarterback) separates, it'll be obvious and we'll all know it."

      Apparently, it became obvious against Georgia Tech.

      The 6-foot-6 Lawrence was ranked as the nation's top-ranked player by many recruiting services last year in high school in Cartersville, Ga. He turns 19 on Oct. 6.

      --Field Level Media

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      "He really played well. It was certainly his best game. He was very poised and I think the game has slowed down for him," Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's making good decisions; he's decisive with the ball... He made some beautiful throws."

      So far this season Lawrence is 39 of 60 passing for 600 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

      Bryant is 36-for-54 passing for 461 yards with two touchdowns and one pick.

  • Nebraska coach Frost: 'We're not giving up'
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 24, 2018

    Optimism abounded for Nebraska football fans when former Cornhuskers quarterback Scott Frost was hired to replace the fired Mike Riley as head coach.

    • The start has been rocky, to say the least.

      The first game of the season, against Akron, was canceled because of weather. And that has been the highlight of the year.

      After a 56-10 to No. 19 Michigan on Saturday, the Huskers (0-3, 0-1 Big Ten) are off to the worst start in program history since George "Potsy" Clark team began the season 0-5 in 1945.

      Dating back to the 2017 season, the Huskers have lost seven consecutive games, tying the longest consecutive losing streak in program history.

      But Frost, hired in December after leading Central Florida to an undefeated 2017 season, said his team has hit bottom and is looking up.

      Next up for the Huskers is Purdue on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

      "We've got a chance to get reset next week," Frost told reporters. "This is a really good (Michigan) team we played. We get a game that we can win next week.

      "We've got to find a way to get better. We're not ready to beat a team like (Michigan) yet, but the key word is yet. Because I know where it's going. Certainly it isn't happening as quickly as I would like, but I'm kind of excited because it's not going to get worse than this. It's only up from here."

      The Huskers stand near the bottom of the Big Ten in three of four major offensive categories, and in three of the four defensive categories.

      Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez returned from injury on Saturday against Michigan and completed seven passes for just 22 yards in the first half. They produced just 132 yards of total offense on the day. Special teams also struggled in punt coverage and with penalties.

      "More than a few breakdowns," Frost said. "We're a team, so it's on all of us. There's some things that just keep happening and that means guys either can't do it or won't do it right. We can't keep kicking the ball down the middle of the field 50 yards and give athletes like they had back deep a chance to return it. We got to be able to field a punt when it's bouncing on the ground and not muff it and give it to them. We can't have penalties."

      Against Purdue (1-3, 0-1), Nebraska will be trying to win its first game in 336 days.

      "We're not giving up, we're going to get this thing right," Frost said. "They brought us in here to get it right; we're going to get it right. We knew it was a big job because there's just so much that needed to be fixed and changed. We're not there yet."

      --Field Level Media

  • Wake Forest dismisses defensive coordinator
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 23, 2018

    Wake Forest fired defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel on Sunday, despite holding a 2-2 record.

    • "This was a difficult decision and not a spur-of-the-moment decision," coach Dave Clawson said in a news release. "I want to thank Coach Sawvel for all his hard work with our football program over the last two years. Coach Sawvel is a very good person and a good football coach."

      The Demon Deacons are No. 114 in total defense and No. 106 in scoring defense this season. They lost to Notre Dame on Saturday at home 56-27.

      He is the first coordinator fired by a Power 5 conference school this season. Wake Forest did not immediately name a replacement but promoted defensive analyst Tom Gilmore to a full-time coaching position.

      The Demon Deacons will host Rice next Saturday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kentucky cracks Top 25 for first time since 2007
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 23, 2018

    The SEC has three teams among the top five in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, but it is the conference mate at No. 17 that is sticking out most.

    • Kentucky cracked the rankings on Sunday for the first time since the 2007 season. The Wildcats reached as high as No. 8 that year.

      Kentucky moved into the rankings after dominating then-No. 14 Mississippi State 28-7 on Saturday.

      "There's nothing cocky about this team, but they absolutely expected to play like this and that's the way they prepared and that's the way they're going about their business and that's what I love about this team," Wildcats coach Mark Stoops said after the program achieved its first 4-0 start since 2008.

      The rankings looked more familiar at the top as Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State remain as the top four. Alabama received 60 first-place votes and Clemson received one.

      LSU moved up a spot to No. 5, joining SEC rivals Alabama and Georgia in the upper tier of the rankings. Oklahoma dropped one place to No. 6 after requiring overtime to defeat Army.

      Stanford and Notre Dame remained at No. 7 and 8, respectively. Penn State and Auburn switched places with the Nittany Lions now at No. 9.

      The Top 10 faces some movement in next week's poll as Ohio State visits Penn State and Stanford plays at Notre Dame.

      Washington is at No. 11, followed by West Virginia, Central Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Miami.

      Texas jumped back into the rankings at No. 18 after beating then-No. 17 TCU. Oregon is No. 19 and BYU moved up five spots to No. 20.

      Michigan State is No. 21, followed by Duke breaking into the rankings at No. 22. Mississippi State dropped to No. 23 after the loss to Kentucky.

      New entrants California and Texas Tech are Nos. 24 and 25, respectively.

      Among the teams to fall out of the rankings is Virginia Tech as the then-No. 13 Hokies lost to previously winless FCS program Old Dominion. Also falling out were Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas A&M and Boston College.

      Boston College cracked the rankings last Sunday for the first since 2008 but lost to Purdue.

      --Field Level Media

  • Virginia Tech dismisses DE Hill
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 23, 2018

    Virginia Tech dismissed standout defensive end Trevon Hill from the program for not upholding school standards, the school announced Sunday.

    • The dismissal comes one day after the Hokies suffered an embarrassing 49-35 loss to Old Dominion.

      "After consultation with our coaching staff and administration at Virginia Tech, Trevon Hill has been dismissed from the football team effective immediately for not upholding the high standards that we have for our student-athletes at Virginia Tech," coach Justin Fuente said in a statement. "I will always put the interests of Virginia Tech and our team first no matter how difficult those decisions may be."

      Prior to the release of Virginia Tech's statement, Hill retweeted a tweet from the Virginian-Pilot sports account, which stated "Old Dominion's 632 total yards were the most given up by Virginia Tech in Bud Foster's 24 seasons as the Hokies' defensive coordinator"

      Hill, a junior, had a team-best 3.5 sacks this season and 11.5 for his career. He had 1.5 sacks in the loss to previously winless Old Dominion.

      --Field Level Media

  • Top 25 roundup: Old Dominion stuns No. 13 Virginia Tech
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 23, 2018

    Blake LaRussa came off the bench to throw four touchdown passes and run for a fifth score as previously winless Old Dominion pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the college football season with a 49-35 triumph over 13th-ranked Virginia Tech in Norfolk, Va.

    • LaRussa entered the game on Monarchs' second offensive series and completed 30 of 49 passes for 495 yards and threw three touchdowns to Jonathan Duhart (nine catches, 142 yards) and one to Travis Fulgham (nine catches, 188 yards).

      Old Dominion (1-3) prevailed in its first-ever game against a team ranked in the AP Top 25 despite being four-touchdown underdogs. The Hokies (2-1) were playing for the first time in two weeks after their game against East Carolina was canceled due to Hurricane Florence last week.

      Virginia Tech (2-1) lost starting quarterback Josh Jackson to injury early in the fourth quarter. He was replaced by Ryan Willis, who threw a tying touchdown pass but couldn't keep pace with LaRussa. The score was tied at 28 when Jackson, who had passed for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 58 yards, injured his lower left leg.

      No. 1 Alabama 45, No. 22 Texas A&M 23

      Tua Tagovailoa completed 22 of 30 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for one more, and the Crimson Tide cruised over the Aggies in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

      Alabama tight end Hale Hentges hauled in two touchdowns while wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III caught one apiece. Tagovailoa and Josh Jacobs scored on the ground as Alabama (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) beat the Aggies for the sixth meeting in a row.

      Kellen Mond completed 16 of 33 passes for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1). The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for a team-high 98 yards and a touchdown. Alabama showed few flaws in its first matchup against a ranked program. The Crimson Tide have outscored opponents 215-51 on the season.

      No. 2 Georgia 43, Missouri 29

      The Bulldogs remained unbeaten, but the Tigers certainly made them sweat in Columbia, Mo.

      After quarterback Drew Lock scored from 11 yards out to cut the lead to 40-29 with just under 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Missouri (3-1, 0-1 SEC) got a chance to draw closer as the Tigers blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt by Rodrigo Blankenship with 6:08 to play.

      Georgia (4-0, 2-0) was able to thwart the comeback attempt with a fourth-down stop and added a 40-yard Blankenship field goal with 1:41 left for the final margin.

      No. 3 Clemson 49, Georgia Tech 21

      Trevor Lawrence threw four touchdown passes as the Tigers cruised past Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. The freshman, who is from nearby Cartersville, Ga., completed 13 of 18 passes for 176 yards, adding an interception, in his collegiate debut in his home state.

      Clemson (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) improved to 4-0 for a fourth consecutive season and for the fifth time in six years. Georgia Tech (1-3, 0-2) is off to its worst start under 10th-year coach Paul Johnson.

      Lawrence replaced starter Kelly Bryant early in the second quarter and promptly produced touchdown passes of 17 yards to Hunter Renfrow, 53 yards to Justyn Ross and 3 yards to Travis Etienne before the half to awaken a sluggish Clemson offense and give the Tigers a 28-7 halftime lead.

      No. 4 Ohio State 49, Tulane 6

      Dwayne Haskins Jr. threw five touchdown passes in a near-perfect first half to lead the Buckeyes past Green Wave in Columbus, Ohio. The sophomore, in his fourth career start, completed 18 of his first 19 passes for 265 yards and four scores.

      After two incompletions, he completed two more, including a 14-yard TD to Austin Mack to make it 42-6 at the half for the Buckeyes (4-0). Haskins, who did not play in the second half, was 21 of 24 for 304 yards with five TDs. For the season, he has passed for 1,194 yards and 16 touchdowns with one interception.

      Ohio State used the game as a tune-up for its Big Ten matchup at No. 10 Penn State next Saturday. The Buckeyes totaled 570 yards, including 419 through the air, and 32 first downs. Tulane (1-3) had 256 total yards.

      No. 5 Oklahoma 28, Army 21 (OT)

      The Sooners' defense finally came up with two big stops of the Black Knights' triple-option offense, and Kyler Murray shined in overtime as Oklahoma squeaked out a win in Norman, Okla. Murray -- who threw just three passes in the second half -- came up with two big completions in OT, the second being his 10-yard touchdown strike to CeeDee Lamb.

      Oklahoma (4-0) then held the Black Knights on fourth-and-7, with Kenneth Mann hitting Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. and Parnell Motley coming down with the interception to seal the victory.

      The Sooners had a chance to win it in regulation, but Austin Seibert missed a 33-yard field goal attempt as time expired in regulation to send the game to overtime. Murray completed 11 of 15 passes for 165 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Army (2-2) rushed for 339 yards, including 102 yards and a touchdown by Hopkins on 25 carries.

      No. 6 LSU 38, Louisiana Tech 21

      Nick Brossette scored on three short touchdown runs, including a 2-yard dive with 8:06 left, to blunt a 21-point Bulldogs rally and lead the Tigers to a victory at Baton Rouge, La.

      Brossette scored on a pair of 1-yard runs as LSU burst to a 24-0 first-half lead. After Louisiana Tech closed within 24-21, Brossette extended LSU's lead to 31-21 with his 2-yard score.

      Louisiana Tech quarterback J'Mar Smith, who completed 27 of 50 passes for 331 yards and three scores and an interception, threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second half.

      No. 7 Stanford 38, No. 20 Oregon 31 (OT)

      The Cardinal rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final four minutes to defeat the Ducks in overtime at Eugene, Ore.

      Oregon went ahead 31-21 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Cyrus Habibi-Likio with 4:39 to play in the game. Stanford (4-0, 2-0 Pac 12) needed just three plays to score on a 15-yard pass from K.J. Costello to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to get within 31-28 with 3:10 to play.

      After Oregon's C.J. Verdell fumbled with 54 seconds left to go, Stanford drove for a 32-yard field goal by Jet Toner as time expired. On the second play of overtime, Costello threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Colby Parkinson to put Stanford ahead 38-31. Oregon (3-1, 0-1) drove to Stanford's 10-yard line before Justin Herbert threw four consecutive incomplete passes.

      No. 8 Notre Dame 56, Wake Forest 27

      Quarterback Ian Book, starting in place of Brandon Wimbush, orchestrated a high-powered offense as the Fighting Irish steamrolled past the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, N.C.

      Book completed 25 of 34 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for three touchdowns. Notre Dame racked up 566 yards of total offense in its first road game of the season. The Irish posted 28 points in the first 25 minutes, eclipsing their totals from each of their first three games.

      Notre Dame (4-0) broke open the game on Wake Forest (2-2) in the second quarter. Book threw 3 yards to Brock Wright for a touchdown to give the Irish a 14-6 lead. Tony Jones ran in from 4 yards out two plays after Chris Finke's 52-yard punt return, stretching the Irish to a 21-6 lead.

      No. 9 Auburn 34, Arkansas 3

      Another lackluster offensive performance by the Tigers was overshadowed by outstanding defense and special teams, propelling the hosts to a win at Auburn, Ala. Auburn blocked two punts, had two long punt returns, returned a fumble recovery to set up an easy field goal, and added a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Noah Igbinoghene in the third quarter.

      The defense dominated Arkansas (1-3, 0-1 SEC), holding the Razorbacks to 290 total yards and one field goal. Arkansas' defense kept the game reasonably close for a while, limiting the Tigers to 160 yards through the first three quarters before running out of gas.

      Ryan Davis set the tone for Auburn (3-1, 1-1) early in the game when he returned an Arkansas punt 48 yards to the 27-yard line to set up Auburn's first touchdown, a 5-yard run by JaTarvious "Boobie" Whitlow.

      No. 10 Washington 27, Arizona State 20

      Quarterback Jake Browning passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns, and the Huskies avenged an upset loss to the Sun Devils last season with a with win in Seattle. Browning completed 15 of 22 passes, and Myles Gaskin had 86 of Washington's 171 rushing yards.

      The Huskies (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) won for only the second time in the past 13 games in the series. Browning threw two touchdowns passes in the first quarter and hit Cade Otton on a 5-yard score with 10:59 remaining for a 27-13 lead.

      Quarterback Manny Wilkins scored on a 1-yard run to get Arizona State (2-2, 0-1) within seven with 2:54 remaining, capping a 55-yard drive set up by N'Keal Harry's 42-yard punt return after he fielded the ball on his 3-yard line. However, Washington got two first downs on its next possession and ran out the clock.

      No. 12 West Virginia 35, Kansas State 6

      The Mountaineers missed a few opportunities early, but Will Grier and his receivers found their rhythm during a romp over the Wildcats at Morgantown, W.Va. Grier finished with 356 yards passing and tied a personal best with five touchdowns -- three of them on 1-yarders to David Sills V -- as West Virginia (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) won its third straight game in the series.

      Marcus Simms produced 136 yards receiving, 82 coming on a first-quarter bomb that put the Mountaineers ahead to stay.

      Blake Lynch converted two field goals for Kansas State (2-2, 0-1), which replaced quarterback Skylar Thompson with Alex Delton late in the third quarter.

      Kentucky 28, No. 14 Mississippi State 7

      Benny Snell ran for four touchdowns, and the Wildcats' defense played one of its best games in the Mark Stoops era, holding the Bulldogs to 201 yards overall in a rout at Lexington, Ky.

      Snell topped Kentucky (4-0, 2-0 SEC) with 165 rushing yards, and he broke Randall Cobb's school career touchdown record (35). Snell finished the night with 39 total touchdowns. The victory came two weeks after Kentucky knocked off then-No. 25 Florida in Gainesville.

      One play after Wildcats freshman defensive back Tyrell Ajian intercepted a pass from Nick Fitzgerald in the middle of the fourth quarter, Snell delivered the knockout blow to the Bulldogs (3-1, 0-1) on a 36-yard run to give Kentucky a 21-7 lead. He added another touchdown from 23 yards out with 3:45 remaining.

      Texas Tech 41, No. 15 Oklahoma State 17

      After 17 years, it was going to take whatever visiting Red Raiders could muster on the ground offensively and all around on defense to leave Stillwater, Okla., with a win for the first time since 2001, and that's what they did to stun the Cowboys.

      There was plenty of gunslinging in the first half, with the Raiders grabbing a 24-17 halftime lead. That seemed to set the stage for a high-scoring-to-the-wire finish. Instead, Texas Tech (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) throttled the Cowboys after halftime and produced 17 unanswered points. Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1) managed only 91 total yards and four first downs over the final 30 minutes and went the last 39:20 without scoring after taking a 17-14 lead.

      Texas Tech freshman quarterback Alan Bowman completed 35 of 46 passes for 397 yards and a pair of touchdowns, shrugging off two interceptions. The Red Raiders ran for 224 yards, paced by senior DeMarcus Felton's 121 yards and two scores on 12 carries.

      Texas 31, No. 17 TCU 16

      Sam Ehlinger passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score and the Longhorns took advantage of four turnovers to defeat the Horned Frogs in Austin, Texas. Texas topped TCU for the first time since 2013 -- former coach Mack Brown's final season.

      Texas (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) did it by playing mistake-free football and scoring the game's final 21 points after trailing 16-10 in the waning seconds of the third quarter. It's the first time since 2014 that the Longhorns have won three games in a row.

      TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson threw for 197 yards and a touchdown and ran for 57 yards but threw two interceptions and had a fumble, with two of the turnovers resulting in Texas touchdowns. The loss denied the Horned Frogs (2-2, 0-1) a fifth consecutive win over Texas, something they still never have accomplished in 89 meetings between the Lone Star State rivals.

      No. 18 Wisconsin 28, Iowa 17

      Junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook took matters into his left arm late in the Badgers' game against the Hawkeyes at Iowa City after struggling to move the ball for the second half, tossing a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver A.J. Taylor with 57 seconds left to give Wisconsin the lead.

      Fullback Alec Ingold added a 33-yard TD run with 22 seconds remaining to seal Wisconsin's come-from-behind victory a week after the Badgers took a 24-21 upset loss to BYU in Madison.

      Hornibrook completed 17 of 22 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Jonathan Taylor carried the ball 25 times for 113 yards, as the Badgers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) secured the victory on T.J. Edwards' interception. Iowa (3-1, 0-1) got a solid effort from quarterback Nate Stanley, who hit on 13 of 22 passes for 229 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

      No. 19 Michigan 56, Nebraska 10

      Ben Mason rushed for three first-half touchdowns, Karan Higdon gained 136 yards and added a touchdown, as the Wolverines clobbered the Cornhuskers at Ann Arbor, Mich.

      Higdon, who missed Michigan's previous game with an undisclosed injury, did all of his damage on 12 first-half carries. Shea Patterson completed 15 of 22 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown for the Wolverines (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten).

      The two storied programs hadn't met since 2013. The rematch was one to forget for Nebraska (0-3. 0-1), who got a lone touchdown from Wyatt Mazour. Michigan outgained Nebraska 305-17 in the first half and roared to a 39-0 halftime lead.

      No. 21 Miami 31, Florida International 17

      Backup quarterback N'Kosi Perry passed for a career-high 224 yards and three touchdowns and the Hurricanes' defense took care of the rest as they whipped the Panthers in Miami Gardens, Fla. The redshirt freshman replaced starter Malik Rosier in the first quarter and wound up 17 of 25.

      Miami (3-1) finished the game with 488 yards of total offense while holding FIU (2-2) to just 187 yards and seven first downs.

      The Hurricanes lost their bid for a second shutout this season when FIU quarterback James Morgan found receiver C.J. Worton open down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

      Purdue 30, No. 23 Boston College 13

      Senior quarterback David Blough passed for 296 yards and three touchdowns as the Boilermakers rolled over the Eagles in West Lafayette, Ind., for their first victory over a ranked team since beating No. 23 Illinois in 2011.

      True freshman receiver Rondale Moore had eight catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns for the Boilermakers (1-3) while senior wideout Terry Wright also caught a scoring pass and senior running back D.J. Knox added a rushing touchdown.

      Sophomore quarterback Anthony Brown struggled for Boston College (3-1) and was intercepted a career-worst four times while completing 13 of 27 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown.

      No. 24 Michigan State 35, Indiana 21

      The Spartans did just enough to knock off the Hoosiers at Bloomington, Ind.

      The Hoosiers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) trailed 28-7 after three quarters, but two Indiana field goals sandwiching a touchdown cut the Spartans' lead to seven. However, Michigan State freshman Jalen Nailor took a jet sweep 75 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach with 3:17 to play.

      Brian Lewerke threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions for the Spartans (2-1, 1-0). Indiana's Whop Philyor caught 13 passes for 148 yards and a score.

      No. 25 BYU 30, McNeese State 3

      Tanner Mangum threw for 118 yards and a touchdown while Squally Canada and Lopini Katoa combined for 121 yards and a pair of scores in the backfield to lead the Cougars to an easy win over the Cowboys in Provo, Utah.

      McNeese had dominated the first quarter, limiting BYU to just 25 total yards, but the Cougars (3-1) eventually scored 13 points off four Cowboys turnovers. BYU also had one touchdown set up by a blocked field goal and another one by a long punt return.

      McNeese State (3-1) totaled just 207 yards and 10 first downs, going 0-for-10 on third down. Two Cowboys quarterbacks, James Tabary and Cody Orgeron, combined for 134 passing yards and a pair of interceptions.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Book will start at QB for Irish
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 22, 2018

    Ian Book will take over at quarterback for No. 8 Notre Dame's game at Wake Forest on Saturday, according to 247sports.com.

    • Irish coach Brian Kelly had been non-committal on who would start during practice this week.

      Book would be replacing Brandon Wimbush, who has thrown four interceptions with only one touchdown pass during the team's 3-0 start. Wimbush has completed 42 of 76 passes, but amassed just 489 yards.

      Book has just one previous start, going 17 for 31 for 146 yards against North Carolina in 2017, but led a comeback in relief of Wimbush against LSU in the 2017 Citrus Bowl.

      "They're both going to play," Kelly said after Thursday's practice. "I've said that all year. They're both prepared. They're both ready. We're going to need both of them."

      --Field Level Media

  • College football roundup: Penn State crushes Illinois late
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 22, 2018

    Junior Miles Sanders rushed for career bests of 200 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 10 Penn State to a 63-24 victory over host Illinois on Friday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.

    • Senior Trace McSorley passed for 160 yards and three touchdowns with one interception as the Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) scored the game's final 42 points and rolled up 591 yards of total offense. True freshman running back Ricky Slade had 94 yards and two scores, while true freshman tight end Pat Freiermuth, junior wideout Juwan Johnson and redshirt freshman receiver KJ Hamler caught touchdown passes.

      The Fighting Illini were very much in the game after they scored 17 consecutive points, taking a 24-21 lead on the first drive of the third quarter. The go-ahead touchdown occurred when junior wideout Trenard Davis took a handoff on the reverse and fired a 17-yard scoring pass to Ricky Smalling with 10:36 left.

      But two minutes later, Penn State was back ahead as Sanders exploded through the line en route to a 48-yard touchdown run. Then the Nittany Lions scored two touchdowns in a 44-second span of the fourth quarter to begin pulling away.

      Southern California 39, Washington State 36

      True freshman quarterback JT Daniels passed for 241 yards and three touchdowns, and Vavae Malepeai rushed for two scores as the Trojans rallied for a Pac-12 Conference victory over the visiting Cougars.

      Malepeai scored on a 2-yard run with 8:03 to play to put USC (2-2, 1-1 Pac-12) on top for good. Washington State (3-1, 0-1) attempted a 38-yard field goal to tie the game with just under two minutes remaining, but Blake Mazza's kick was blocked by 6-foot-6 USC freshman Jay Tufele.

      Daniels went 17 for 26 in his breakthrough game, connecting on scoring strikes of 9, 50 and 30 yards. He had just one TD pass in his first three games. Daniels' 50-yarder to Michael Pitman Jr. came in the third quarter, while the 30-yard TD pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown came 29 seconds into the fourth quarter.

      No. 16 Central Florida 56, Florida Atlantic 36

      Junior quarterback McKenzie Milton rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and passed for three others as UCF extended the nation's longest winning streak to 16 games with a victory over FAU in Orlando.

      Milton was 21-of-32 passing for 306 yards and rushed for 81 for the Knights (3-0). Leading by four at halftime, UCF came out of the locker room to score on their first three series of the second half to go up 42-23 entering the fourth quarter.

      The Owls (2-2) had their moments, taking a three-point lead in the second quarter, but their defense couldn't contain a Knights offense that amassed 545 total yards.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Maryland's McNair didn’t get proper treatment
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died June 13 from heatstroke, didn't receive a proper diagnosis or proper treatment from the school's athletic staff when he started suffering symptoms during a May 29 practice, a report released Friday indicated.

    • The report from Walters Inc. to the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents stated "there might have been the opportunity to reverse the patient's core temperature" had the athletic training staff provided adequate care.

      The report determined that there was a delay of 34 minutes between when the 19-year-old athlete first started cramping during the workout and when he was taken off the field. A 911 call was placed 1 hour, 7 minutes after the onset of symptoms. Then, 32 minutes later, McNair was taken in an ambulance to the hospital.

      Rod Walters, hired by Maryland to conduct the investigation, said, "Hindsight is 20/20. I think if we would have identified that earlier, it might have changed things."

      After a closed meeting of the Board of Regents, the results of the investigation were made public at Towson University. It has been more than three months since the investigation, one of two surrounding the football program, began. Walters, a nationally recognized sports medicine consultant, was hired by Maryland on June 19 to investigate what took place during McNair's workout and whether he had received the proper treatment.

      The outcome of the second investigation, involving eight people checking into the football program regarding allegations of verbal abuse and bullying, has not yet been presented to Maryland's Board of Regents, and there's no timetable for when the results will be made available.

      One Maryland football player who was not identified told investigators that head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson "yelled at the interns to drag (McNair) across the field. By then, the player said, McNair "could barely stand."

      "The coaches preach a 'no quit' mentality," the player added. "No one wants to go to the 'Pit' (area of practice for injured players). The 'Pit' is no joke, and players avoid this at all costs."

      Personnel decisions that could involve the coaching staff won't be made until after the conclusion of the second investigation, according to USM Board of Regents Chair James Brady. Head coach DJ Durkin was placed on leave in August following an ESPN report that alleged he fostered a culture of intimidation and humiliation.

      Matt Canada remains the team's interim coach, as the Terrapins have started 2-1.

      --Field Level Media

  • UCLA QB Modster chooses to transfer
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    UCLA redshirt sophomore quarterback Devon Modster announced Friday that he is transferring from UCLA.

    • Modster started the final two games for UCLA last season after Josh Rosen was injured and Jim Mora was the head coach. But Modster finished third in a training camp battle for the job this season under new coach Chip Kelly.

      Michigan transfer Wilton Speight -- sidelined with an injury -- won the job and Dorian Thompson-Robinson opened as the No. 2 quarterback. Thompson-Robinson is currently the starter.

      "First and foremost I would like to thank my teammates for always grinding with me day in and day out, creating memories that I will cherish for a lifetime," Modster wrote on Twitter. "I would like to thank Coach (Jim) Mora for giving me the opportunity to play and attend such a prestigious school! Also I'd like to thank Bruin Fans who continued to support my teammates an I thoughout these years.

      "I'd like to thank Coach (Chip) Kelly and the strength coaches for allowing me to continue to play the game I love, BUT I've decided to leave UCLA and pursue other opportunities. Best of luck to the Bruin Families!"

      Modster passed for 671 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in five games last season.

      Modster's departure comes just days after Thompson-Robinson's father sharply criticized Kelly for "lousy coaching" and not taking responsibility for the team's 0-3 start.

      --Field Level Media

  • Craig-Myers among 2 more to bolt Auburn program
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    Wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers and his half-brother, defensive back Jayvaughn Myers, have left the Auburn Tigers' football program, coach Guz Malzahn confirmed.

    • "We wish them nothing but the best," Malzahn said on his weekly radio appearance, per AL.com. "It's a new day, and I think you'll see more of that in the next week or so."

      A new NCAA rule this season allows players to participate in up to four games in a season and still be able to take a redshirt and preserve a year of eligibility.

      "There's a new day in college football with the rule and all that," Malzahn said.

      Rivals.com was first to report that the 6-foot-2, 214-pound Craig-Myers, who has just two catches for 39 yards this season, was planning to transfer. The former four-star recruit from Dade City, Fla., who chose Auburn over offers from Florida State, North Caroline and Ole Miss, has 22 catches for 394 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games over two-plus seasons.

      Jayvaughn Myers was a 2016 signee who has played sparingly through his first two-plus seasons. 247Sports.com first reported that he was not at Thursday's practice.

      A total of five players have now left the Auburn program since the start of the season, including tight end Jalen Harris earlier this week. Cornerback John Broussard Jr. and punter Aidan Marshall left earlier this month.

      --Field Level Media

  • Alabama sticking with dual-QB approach
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    Nick Saban is committed to the offensive plan he instituted to start the 2018 season: Play two quarterbacks.

    • Tua Tagovailoa started the first three games for the No. 1 Crimson Tide and is the betting favorite for the Heisman Trophy in Las Vegas.

      Alabama is first in the nation in scoring -- 56.7 points per game -- and has 14 touchdowns and one field goal in 20 possessions with Tagovailoa at the helm.

      For the season, he has completed 36 of 50 passes for 646 yards, throwing eight touchdown passes with no interceptions.

      Saban has found time for Jalen Hurts, the displaced starter who was competing for the starting job in camp, but whispers persist that Hurts might opt to transfer from Alabama. He is 19 of 28 for 248 yards and four touchdown passes after going 26-2 as Alabama's starter the previous two seasons.

      "I understand how unique a situation this is," Saban said in an ESPN interview. "I don't know of any other precedent at any time in college football where a guy started 28 games, won 26 of them and then somebody took his place. That's never happened. So that's hard for Jalen, and it's hard for me. I'm a loyal guy and loyal to the guys who get out there and lay it on the line for you. You want to be fair to all of your players, but you also want to be fair to your team.

      "We needed both quarterbacks last year, and we'll need them both again this year."

      Hurts is on track to graduate in December. He could decide to transfer without sitting out a year, per NCAA grad transfer rules.

      "Every time I've talked to Jalen since the season started, he's said, 'Coach, I want to play,' and has never said otherwise," Saban said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's never asked not to play in a game. He says he's ready to play and has practiced well and prepared well. Jalen's a competitor, and the kids on this team respect him. They respect both quarterbacks. And I think it says a lot about both kids that neither one of them has ever said a bad word about the other."

      --Field Level Media

  • Minnesota's Connelly dies at 22
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    Former Minnesota football player Nick Connelly died at age 22 after a three-month battle with cancer, his family announced Thursday.

    • Connelly retired from football in 2017 because of what he said was his fifth concussion. Connelly's father, Chuck, announced his son's death via Twitter.

      "On Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, Heaven needed a right tackle and Nick Connelly got the call,'' Chuck Connelly's statement read. "Nick was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma in June 2018. Burkitt's is a very rare, aggressive cancer. Nick was winning the battle through aggressive chemotherapy until the cancer became resistant to all chemo regimens. Nick was a beautiful big strong young athlete with a very kind heart and a great smile.''

      Nick Connelly started five games at offensive tackle in 2017 as a redshirt sophomore. He suffered a concussion on Oct. 7 at Purdue and did not play again. Connelly said that concussion was his third in two years, and doctors told him a sixth career concussion could be life-changing.

      Connelly was a high school star at Red Wing High School, about 60 miles southeast of Minneapolis.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ohio State DE Bosa undergoes surgery (core)
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa underwent surgery for a core muscle injury this week, Urban Meyer revealed on his radio show Thursday.

    • Bosa, projected as a top-five selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, suffered what had been identified as an abdominal/groin injury last weekend against TCU.

      Meyer said Bosa won't play against Tulane on Saturday, and he didn't have a projected return date.

      Ohio State (3-0) shouldn't need Bosa against Tulane (1-2), but the Buckeyes have a key Big Ten matchup on Sept. 29 at Penn State.

      "We hope to get him back as soon as possible. We're not sure when that will be," Meyer said Thursday on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus. "A lot of it is the recovery. He's obviously one of the best players in football."

      Bosa leads the Buckeyes with 14 tackles, including six for loss, and four sacks.

      With Bosa out, Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young will start at defensive end. Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday and Jashon Cornell also are available at defensive end.

      Following the Penn State game, the Buckeyes will host Indiana and Minnesota and travel to Purdue before their bye week the last week of October.

      --Field Level Media

  • Malzahn-Morris friendship highlights No. 9 Auburn vs. Arkansas
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    Gus Malzahn has considered Chad Morris a close friend for many years.

    • This week has presented a new twist to the friendship. Both men are spending the week trying to outwit one another as No. 9 Auburn (2-1) prepares to host Arkansas (1-2) on Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

      Malzahn is 47-23 at Auburn and is looking for his sixth straight winning season.

      "You know, he's one of my buddies," Malzahn said to reporters this week when asked about his bond with Morris. "The challenge we have now is we're in the same conference. In the past, we've shared ideas. He's helped me, too.

      "But now he's in competition. And we both understand that. He's a great competitor, and we'll compete. After the game, we'll shake hands, and everything will be great."

      Not everything has been great for Arkansas, which is undergoing a rebuild under Morris' guidance. The Razorbacks opened the season with a win over Eastern Illinois before dropping back-to-back games against Colorado State and North Texas.

      Arkansas named junior quarterback Ty Storey the starter against Auburn. He will replace sophomore Cole Kelley, who was picked off four times last week.

      "I think that when you look at it, you look at it as how this football team has just got to improve every day," Morris said to reporters this week. "Regardless, no one in that locker room wants to hear the word ‘rebuild,' especially if you're a senior that's invested time in this program.

      "You do want to hear that fact that you've got to get better and improve and find ways to improve. Whatever that means as far as getting players on that field that are going to make plays. I think (De'Jon) Harris had 12 tackles (last week). There are some guys that are playing especially hard. We've just got to continue to develop and, again, you've got to go back and look in the mirror."

      Meanwhile, Auburn is set at quarterback with Jarrett Stidham, who has completed 48 of 75 passes for 584 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions this season. Stidham has also rushed for 36 yards and a score.

      The Tigers are led on the ground by the one-two punch of JaTarvious Whitlow (254 yards, 2 TDs) and Shaun Shivers (149 yards, 2 TDs). Ryan Davis is the top receiving target with 13 catches for 109 yards, while Anthony Schwartz and Darius Slayton each have hauled in receiving touchdowns.

      Devwah Whaley leads Arkansas with 205 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. La'Michael Pettway is the team's top receiver with 11 catches for 173 yards and three scores.

      Malzahn said Auburn had a chance to start a run toward the College Football Playoff.

      "In my experience, the teams that are playing their best ball in the second half of the season, those are the teams that have a chance," he said. "We've kind of been set up that way, and I think we can do that again, but we got to take it one game at a time."

      --Field Level Media

  • Back in rankings, No. 25 BYU welcomes McNeese
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    Winning football has returned to BYU using a formula that feels polar opposite of what legendary coach LaVell Edwards once did to build the program.

    • The No. 25 Cougars, who play host to FCS team McNeese on Saturday, are employing smash-mouth football to topple opponents these days. BYU has turned from lighting up the scoreboard with dazzling passes to controlling the line of scrimmage and attacking with assorted run plays.

      No one can argue with the results the formula is producing. BYU (2-1) has roads wins over Arizona and Wisconsin and is back in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time in three seasons.

      The Cougars are determined to prevent opponents from pushing them around and wearing them down as often occurred a year ago.

      "The biggest thing is how tough we can be," defensive end Corbin Kaufusi said. "Everyone is tough, football is a tough sport, but it's coming back from last season and translating that into your work ethic."

      An ability to control the line of scrimmage helped BYU greatly in all three games. The Cougars allowed the Badgers to gain just 5.5 yards per play in their 24-21 victory. They previously held Arizona to a meager 4.7 yards per play in a 28-23, season-opening win.

      Even California, which beat BYU 21-18, only managed 5.5 yards and committed three turnovers.

      It has helped the Cougars bounce back from last year's 4-9 campaign where they ranked near the bottom among FBS teams in nearly every major offensive statistical category.

      "The culture of the team is taking form and the players believe," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. "We talked about developing a strong belief in what we're doing and how we play the game, and we're really pleased with the way the guys are doing it."

      McNeese (3-0) hopes to prove it has the tools to make a run through the FCS playoffs later this season. An upset win over the Cougars certainly would do the trick.

      The Cowboys are definitely no pushover. They have been dominating opponents on defense in opening with three straight wins for the fourth time in seven seasons. McNeese has allowed only 20 first-half points this season -- two touchdowns and two field goals.

      On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys have scored on their opening possession in each of their first three games.

      B.J. Blunt has been a leader in setting a disruptive defensive tone. He tops all FCS players with five sacks through his first three games. Blunt tallied nine tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery in McNeese's 20-10 win over Nicholls last week.

      "He just keeps getting better and better," McNeese coach Lance Guidry said. "He's the pulse of our entire team. I know he is of the defense. He rubs off on everybody with the way he practices and the way he carries himself."

      Guidry told American Press of Lake Charles, La., about facing an FBS-ranked opponent, "I don't ever worry about getting our guys up to play. Our guys think they're going to win. They really do. We as coaches think we're going to win. We think we're just as good of coaches as anybody else, and our players think they're just as good of players as anybody else."

      He added of the Cougars, "They have a good football team. They're hot right now, and they're not going to overlook us by any means. (Sitake) might be telling them about what we did to Nebraska years back. He'll get his team ready to play for us for sure."

      This is the first meeting between the two schools. BYU is 11-0 against FCS teams over the past 20 years and has not lost to a lower division opponent since 1960.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cancellation gives No. 12 WVU extra time for KSU
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Trends sure have shifted in the West Virginia-Kansas State football series.

    • Coach Dana Holgorsen's program went 0-4 against the Wildcats upon entering the Big 12, but have eked out victories the past two years. Even though the No. 12 Mountaineers (2-0) are 16-point favorites entering Saturday's conference opener at their home field, Milan Puskar Stadium, they haven't forgotten.

      "I don't know how we won the last two games," Holgorsen joked this week.

      In 2016, West Virginia rallied in the fourth quarter to pull ahead 17-16 and held on when Matt McCrane missed a 43-yard field goal.

      Last year in Manhattan, Kan., the Mountaineers were shut out during the second half yet survived 28-23.

      Despite throwing four touchdowns in that win, Will Grier also tossed two interceptions and was flummoxed by his offense enduring a string of three-and-outs. The Heisman Trophy contender pretended his finger was a guy and shot his head this week after reviewing the footage.

      "It was bad - we watched the tape," Grier said. "There's a lot of ways we could have improved in that game. They played a lot harder than us."

      Grier hasn't strained much this season, completing 77 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns against only one interception. He's averaging 380 yards per game passing.

      The Mountaineers are coming off an unexpected off week when Hurricane Florence canceled their game at N.C. State. That created some additional prep time for Kansas State (2-1), which handled UTSA 41-17 on Saturday.

      The Wildcats were starved for some positivity after edging FCS member South Dakota 27-24 in the season opener and losing to Mississippi State 31-10.

      With Skylar Thompson taking over as the quarterback last week, the sophomore threw for a career-best 213 yards. It marked only the ninth time in 29 games that the Wildcats compiled more passing yards than rushing.

      "I think that it was really good for our team. It gave a lot of confidence to our wide receiving corps and gave a lot of confidence to our quarterbacks," said All-Big 12 offensive tackle Dalton Risner. "You guys know how Kansas State football is -- we like to run the ball, everyone knows that. Teams like to bring their safeties down and play the run on us. One thing we maybe might not have had as much confidence in is our ability to throw that ball one-on-one with our wide receivers and beat the DBs on the other team, and that's what we did last Saturday."

      Thompson's first career start came last season against one of West Virginia's worst defenses, yet WVU stopped several K-State drives in plus-territory. This year's defense features more athleticism and has looked solid in beating Tennessee 40-14 and Youngstown State 52-17.

      "A lot of the stuff that Youngstown was doing, run game-wise, is a lot like what Kansas State does with a mobile quarterback that can run a little bit," said West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. "So, there's a lot of carryover for our guys right now.

      "They're going to run the ball first and try to take shots. They'll get you one-on-one outside with double moves and different things like that. A lot of that stuff is what we've been preparing for. It's totally different from the rest of the Big 12."

      --Field Level Media

  • On rise, No. 6 LSU faces in-state rival La. Tech
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    No team in the country other than No. 6 LSU has defeated two Top 10 teams in the first three weeks of the season, and the high-flying Tigers will try to remain grounded Saturday night when they host Louisiana Tech at Tiger Stadium (7 p.m. Eastern, ESPNU).

    • LSU (3-0) dispatched then-No. 8 Miami in the season opener and then went on the road last Saturday against then-No. 9 Auburn, jumping out to a 10-0 lead only to fall behind 21-10 and then rallying for a 22-21 victory on Cole Tracy's 42-yard field goal as time expired.

      LSU is the first team in 42 years to defeat a pair of Top 10 opponents in the first three weeks, and the surprising Tigers have moved up in the AP poll from No. 25 to No. 12 to No. 6. Now they have to get back to work, said coach Ed Orgeron.

      "We have to block out the noise," Orgeron said. "We have to be strong. Whether it's way up there or way down there, we can't let it affect us, and right now it hasn't."

      LSU has won by playing complementary football. Despite his 46.2 percent completion rate, transfer quarterback Joe Burrow has made savvy play-calling decisions, shown toughness in running the read option and protected the football, going without an interception in three games.

      LSU is the only FBS school without a turnover, and it has forced seven. The plus-seven margin ranks the Tigers fourth in the nation.

      The defense, coordinated by Dave Aranda, shut out Auburn in the final 25:38 on Saturday and has been fueled by strong play from cornerback Greedy Williams, safety Grant Delpit, linebacker Devin White and defensive end Rashard Lawrence.

      The kicking game, which was such a liability the last two seasons, has been outstanding. Tracy has made all 8 extra points and has gone 8-of-9 on field goal attempts, including 2 of 3 from beyond 50 yards, and Avery Atkins has 15 touchbacks on 18 kickoffs.

      Louisiana Tech (2-0) nipped South Alabama 30-26 to start the season and beat Southern 54-17 in Week 2 before having a bye week last Saturday.

      The game is personal for Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson, who was also recruited by LSU.

      "It's a huge game, not just for me, but for everyone on the team," Robertson said. "I probably wasn't the only person on my team that not only had an LSU offer, but LSU interest. LSU has passed up on a lot of players on this team, and they also have a point to prove. And not just proving to LSU but proving it to Louisiana Tech that we can play with anybody."

      LSU seems to be relatively healthy. Starting left cornerback Kristian Fulton was the only listed starter missing during the open portion of practice Tuesday afternoon. Starting left tackle Saahdiq Charles, defensive end Glen Logan and backup wide receiver Derrick Dillon all returned to practice after missing Monday's practice.

      --Field Level Media

  • Auburn TE Harris to redshirt, seek transfer
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Auburn tight end Jalen Harris intends to leave the Tigers as a graduate transfer starting next season.

    • Harris, a senior who graduated in August, has been used mostly as a blocker and on special teams three games into his fourth season. He will take advantage of the NCAA's new rule on redshirting, which allows a player to take part in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility.

      The school granted him his released from his scholarship, Harris said in a tweet.

      Harris joins offensive lineman Tyler Carr, cornerback John Broussard Jr. and walk-on punter Aidan Marshall as players who have left Auburn since fall camp began.

      In his four seasons at Auburn, Harris has four career receptions for 33 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came on trick plays during his sophomore season in 2016.

      As a junior, he started five games, primarily blocking for the Tigers' high-powered ground game. His one catch this season went for 12 yards in Saturday's 22-21 loss to LSU.

      Harris said his lack of use as a receiver went against what head coach Gus Malzahn promised him when he was a three-star recruit from St. James School in Montgomery, Ala.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 18 Wisconsin opens Big Ten play at unbeaten Iowa
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    This is not the time for another letdown for Wisconsin.

    • After BYU pulled off a 24-21 upset win against the Badgers last Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin's dreams of a landing a spot in the College Football Playoffs took a severe hit.

      The Badgers (2-1) dropped 12 spots to No. 18 heading into Saturday's Big Ten opener at Iowa (3-0).

      Wisconsin played its first three games at home, so traveling to Kinnick Stadium represents a tough challenge. Even tougher for a team with numerous question marks following a disappointing loss.

      "It was definitely tough," Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor said. "We're going to learn from this loss and take those lessons and bring them to practice. We're going to focus on things we need to correct to ensure we're ready to play Iowa."

      The conference opener is an odd time to put too much importance on one game, but the Big Ten West Division might hinge on the outcome of Saturday's game. The winner of the annual showdown between the Hawkeyes and Badgers has won the West Division in each of the last four seasons. Wisconsin has won four straight in Iowa City.

      "There's a lot to play for, but there is a lot to play for every week," Iowa safety Jake Gervase said. "Things didn't go the way we wanted last year up there, but we can't change that. What we can do is make sure that we are ready this week."

      The Badgers are all too familiar with an opponent motivated to avenge a defeat. A year ago, BYU suffered a 40-6 home loss to the Badgers. Iowa forced four turnovers against Wisconsin last season, but managed just 25 rushing yards and lost 38-14.

      "We need to be productive on first and second down and put ourselves in a position on third down where we can either run or pass," Iowa center Keegan Render said.

      The Hawkeyes' offense should receive a boost with the return of three key players, with running back Ivory Kelly-Martin, wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and offensive lineman Cole Barnwart all set to play after sitting out the Northern Iowa victory.

      The Badgers might be without linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (leg) and tight end Zander Neuville (leg).

      Both teams played relatively easy non-conference schedules, as Taylor enters the game ranked second nationally at 171.1 yards per game. Meanwhile, Iowa's defense is pretty stingy, limiting opponents to eight points and 42 yards rushing per game.

      "We know if we want to achieve our goals and go to the Big Ten championship, it goes through Wisconsin," Render said. "It's proven. It's not something you can debate."

      --Field Level Media

  • Unbeaten Indiana ready to test No. 24 Michigan State
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Michigan State hopes that an early off week provided a quick reset to the season. Indiana hopes to keep the early momentum rolling.

    • Which theory wins out will be determined Saturday night in Bloomington, Ind., as No. 24 Michigan State (1-1) and Indiana (3-0) open Big Ten play in prime time.

      While many expected the Spartans to contend in the Big Ten East -- something that is still possible -- their confidence took a hit with a Sept. 8 loss at Arizona State. It wasn't so much the loss as the fact the offense produced just 13 points, finding the end zone just once in four trips to the red zone.

      The Spartans believe the extra time to prepare for the Hoosiers will pay off.

      "Nobody likes to lose and when you lose, you want to get back on the other end -- the other side of things," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "I think our players have had an opportunity to sit on this and dwell on this a little bit and they have also had time to step away from football for a day or so.

      "I'm looking forward to watching our players play on Saturday night. That's all I can tell you."

      The Spartans will need to be much more effective, especially running the ball. They're last in the Big Ten, averaging 114 yards a game on the ground and just 3.3 yards per carry. The offensive line has struggled, with junior left tackle Cole Chewins and fifth-year senior left guard David Beedle battling injuries.

      Add in the difficulty Michigan State has had replacing Brian Allen at center and the front five have yet to come together.

      "Just coming back with the amount of starters we had gave us a little bit of confidence," sophomore center Matt Allen said. "But after the Arizona State game, it's definitely knocked us down. We really just want to prove to everybody this next game what we're about, and that's what we're planning on doing."

      As for Indiana, it knows what it's about to face.

      "They're really a complete team," Hoosiers coach Tom Allen said. "They don't have a weakness. They're very, very solid in all phases, special teams included. Their defense is maybe the strength of their team. When you watch them, there's a lot of similarities (to past teams). Obviously, the scheme always varies, they'll have wrinkles and things they're trying to give to us. A typical Michigan State, Coach Dantonio team -- physical, fundamental, tough. That's what they're going to be."

      It's a team Indiana has had success against. Two years ago, the Hoosiers won at home and last year they led in the fourth quarter in East Lansing before MSU rallied.

      Now, with a perfect non-conference record buoyed by an opportunistic defense and a revitalized running game behind freshman Stevie Scott, the Hoosiers are ready to take another step.

      "Win Big Ten games, period. That's what's next," Allen said. "We got to win Big Ten games. One at a time. That's the way I approach it. I told our team today, they understand how I think. This is the biggest game of the season, the most important game of the season for one reason: It's the next one."

      --Field Level Media

  • Texas guns for elusive win against No. 17 TCU
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Both No. 17 TCU and resurgent Texas, two of the top teams in the Big 12, look to put the immediate past behind them when they square off to open their conference seasons on Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin.

    • The Horned Frogs (2-1) are still smarting from mistakes made in a 40-28 loss to No. 4 Ohio State last week in a neutral site contest at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. They want desperately to clean that taste out of their mouths.

      TCU coach Gary Patterson was quick to say after the defeat that his team was already moving on to preparations for the Longhorns, and that he thought beating Texas would ultimately carry more weight since it's a league game.

      TCU defensive end Ben Banogu said he and his teammates quickly dispatched the loss to the Buckeyes and are only looking forward.

      "One of the things that coach preaches to us is that things are going to go good and things are going to go bad, but it's how we react from that," Banogu said.

      "For us, it's a new week and a new opponent and we are going to make sure that we are ready for this upcoming game. We are looking forward to playing [Texas] -- it's something I am excited about."

      Texas (2-1) upset No. 22 Southern California 37-14 at home last week behind a run of 34 unanswered points, but the Longhorns are determined not to let that victory go to their heads.

      Texas coach Tom Herman did say the win gave the Longhorns some much-needed swagger.

      "There's a lot of things that come from winning a game like that that are positive for your program and positive for the psychology of your players," Herman said. "We've been so close for so long that to finally break through the close barrier and actually finish gives us energy and some validation of the fact that the way we do things will and can lead to success."

      The fact that TCU has owned the Longhorns over the past four seasons -- beating them by an average of 30 points per game -- helped Texas forget about the Trojans and focus on the Frogs.

      Since Mack Brown's final year as coach in 2013, Texas has defeated every team in the Big 12 ... except TCU. Herman shrugged off the Horned Frogs' recent domination.

      "The motivation of the previous four -- it's inconsequential," Herman said. "I don't think there is a guy on this team (that thinks about that). They care about this year and they care about this week and they care about going 1-0 this week and that's all the motivation they need, really."

      Texas and TCU are meeting for the 89th time, with the Longhorns holding a 62-25-1 advantage. Texas owns a 33-14-1 all-time edge against the Horned Frogs in Austin, although the Longhorns' most recent victory there was in 2007.

      The Longhorns won 24 straight meetings from 1968-91, while the Horned Frogs' current four-game streak is tied for their longest ever against Texas.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 21 Miami expects emotional game with FIU
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Miami coach Mark Richt expects an emotional game when his No. 21 Hurricanes return home for their final non-conference outing of the season Saturday against Florida International.

    • He just hopes it's not quite as emotional as the first meeting of the two South Florida neighbors 12 years ago.

      Richt wasn't around for that 2006 meeting in the old Orange Bowl, a game that erupted into a huge, ugly brawl in the third quarter. Not only did fists fly, so did helmets and feet in a bench-clearing melee that resulted in the immediate ejections of 13 players -- eight for FIU, five for Miami -- and eventual suspensions of 31 players.

      Although this meeting of the Hurricanes (2-1) and Golden Panthers (2-1) at Hard Rock Stadium is meaningful, it should not approach that level of intensity.

      "There will be guys getting their blood pumping, which should happen in the game of football," Richt said. "It's a game of adrenaline and a game of guys physically getting after each other.

      "But everybody knows you do something stupid then you don't get to play. That's the way football is and the way it ought to be. I don't really anticipate anything foolish."

      Richt said he hasn't talked about the 2006 incident with his team.

      "I've not mentioned one thing," he said. "I remember watching it on TV, but that was a long time ago."

      FIU coach Butch Davis recognizes the extra level of excitement.

      "I think the last time they played, it was obviously embarrassing for both programs," he told the Miami Herald. "But you know, these kids, a lot of them know each other, they played against each other, maybe even played with each other and I'm sure there will be a lot of competition.

      "It's not too different when Miami plays Florida or Florida State. Any time you play people in your own backyard, there's some added excitement about it."

      Davis knows the Sunshine State rivalries quite well. He spent five years as the coach at Miami in the late 1990s before joining the Cleveland Browns, building the foundation for a Hurricanes team that won the 2001 national championship.

      Davis is in his second season with the Panthers, who have rebounded from a season-opening loss to Indiana with back-to-back wins against Old Dominion and Massachusetts.

      "They're fast," Richt said of the Panthers. "There's no doubt they're fast. When you're recruiting South Florida, you're going to get fast guys. They absolutely have great team speed. They'll match up well."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 3 Clemson ready for Georgia Tech's option attack
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    For more than a decade, Georgia Tech has boasted one of the nation's most productive running games. But rarely have the Yellow Jackets faced an opponent with as much defensive strength as No. 3 Clemson, which visits Atlanta's Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.

    • It's the conference home opener for Georgia Tech (1-2, 0-1 ACC). The Yellow Jackets are coming off back-to-back road losses, including last week's 24-19 setback to Pittsburgh.

      Clemson (3-0) plays its first ACC game of the season. The Tigers rolled over Georgia Southern 38-7 last week in Death Valley.

      Georgia Tech will once again feature a spread option offense, the same attack they introduced when coach Paul Johnson arrived at the school 11 years ago.

      The Yellow Jackets have a quarterback in TaQuon Marshall who would rather pass than throw. He leads the team with 293 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

      They have two B-backs -- their version of a fullback -- and Jordan Mason (274 yards) and Jerry Howard (90 yards) have been solid in replacing 1,000-yard rusher KirVonte Benson, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

      So which weapon in the Georgia Tech offense are the Tigers likely to face Saturday?

      "[Clemson] is going to determine who has the ball," Johnson said.

      Tech's task is daunting, particularly with a couple of their top offensive linemen either out or gimpy. And the job is even more difficult given the nature of Clemson's front four of Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell, who were all named preseason All-ACC.

      "They've got three or four guys who could be first-round draft picks," Johnson said.

      The Tigers have made it a mission to be ready for the Georgia Tech option, the only attack like it they'll see all season. They prepared for it during spring camp, summer camp and in regular intervals during practices.

      "Those little 5-, 10-minute periods go a long way in the grand scheme of things," Bryant said. "So I'd definitely say that helped a lot."

      Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney hasn't forgotten what happened when he was an assistant coach for the Tigers in 2008. Georgia Tech, then in its first season under Johnson, rushed for 207 yards and beat Clemson 21-17.

      "I learned real quick that if we're going to have a chance, we're going to have to make this a part of what we do," Swinney said. "If you don't, you're going to be behind the eight ball."

      The defense is elite, but Swinney said Clemson still has work to do on offense.

      Quarterback Kelly Bryant will start for the Tigers. He ranks first on the school's all-time list for fewest interceptions (2.17 percent) and second behind Deshaun Watson for the highest completion percentage (66.3 percent).

      His favorite target has been wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, who has caught passes in 31 straight games. Running back Travis Etienne has averaged 7.29 yards per carry for his career.

      "They've got a lot of weapons around him," Johnson said.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 5 Oklahoma stacks Air Raid against Army's triple option
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    On the surface, the Air Raid offense made popular by Hal Mumme and Mike Leach and the triple option don't have much in common.

    • Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said when he was at Texas Tech with Leach, the coaches often compared their offense to the scheme used by Army.

      "There were a lot of years when we thought, offensively, they were the team we were the most similar to in distributing the balls and not having a thousand different plays and just trying to get good at a few things," Riley said this week as his No. 5 Sooners prepare to face the Black Knights on Saturday. "It looks radically different, but the core beliefs are very similar."

      After facing pass-heavy offenses in the first three games of the season, Army's option will present a completely different challenge for the Sooners.

      "It's unique for anybody who doesn't face it," Army coach Jeff Monken said. "That's maybe one advantage that we have - having an offense they haven't seen."

      Oklahoma and Army haven't played since 1961 and the Sooners haven't faced a true triple option team since Air Force in 2010.

      "We think we have a pretty good plan with it," Riley said. "The good thing is when you play a team like this, what we do offensively is probably fairly difficult for them to simulate as well. Both teams are dealing with that."

      A big key in Oklahoma's offense -- which hasn't missed a beat with Kyler Murray taking over at quarterback this year -- has been the growth of receiver Marquise Brown.

      Brown is No. 6 nationally with 412 receiving yards through three games.

      "He's open a lot," Riley said. "He's just so fast, and he's really - on top of being so fast - he's really become a good player, too. He's running well after the catch."

      The Black Knights haven't beaten a ranked team since 1972 -- a streak of 45 such games -- and haven't beaten a top 10 team since 1963.

      "Every one of our guys in this room that plays football here are here because they want to play football at the highest level," Monken said. "When you think of football at the highest level, certainly a team like Oklahoma comes to mind. As long as these guys have been playing football, these are the kinds of teams you dream of playing. The opportunity to do that and measure themselves against the best teams and the best players in the nation -- Oklahoma is one of those teams."

      --Field Level Media