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Pitt’s leading rusher out for today’s bowl game

Rutgers v Pittsburgh Getty Images

When Pittsburgh takes the field in less than an hour for their 378th consecutive appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl, it’ll do so without the services of the most productive member of its rushing attack.

Pitt declared late Saturday morning that running back Ray Graham has been ruled out of the bowl game against Ole Miss due to injury.  The senior suffered a pulled hamstring during one of the Panthers’ postseason practices in December.

With Graham out, freshman Rushel Shell, who is second on the team with 562 yards, will make his first collegiate start.

Graham leads Pitt in both rushing yards (1,042) and rushing touchdowns (11).  It’s the second straight season Graham has led the team in both categories.

Graham isn’t the only loss that will be felt by the Panthers’ ground game as it was announced earlier this week that starting guard Anthony Doakes had been suspended for the bowl.

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Auburn’s Robenson Therezie ruled eligible to play against Arkansas

Robenson Therezie, Brett Bartolone

One the eve of college football’s first Saturday of the season, the Auburn Tigers received very good news. The team’s “star” on defense, Robenson Therezie, will be eligible to play against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The news was announced Friday night on twitter by the school’s sports information director, Kirk Sampson.

There were concerns Therezie wouldn’t be able to play at the start of the season. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said two weeks ago Therezie was “working through some eligibility issues.”

The school never specified the issues, but Therezie was cleared just in time. The senior is a key cog in Ellis Johnson‘s defense. Not only is Therezie an opportunistic pass defender, but he is also a strong run defender. Last season, Therezie finished sixth on the team with 57 total tackles and led the team with four interceptions. His leadership in the secondary only adds to the team’s most experienced unit. Four of the five starters among the Tigers’ defensive backs are seniors. This level of experience will only help as the team attempts to repeat as SEC champions.

The addition of Therezie also helps build depth along the Tigers’ secondary. The senior isn’t guaranteed to start against the Razorbacks, though. The coaching staff prepared junior Justin Garrett to start over the course of two weeks. Garrett can now be counted upon when needed to provide quality reps in the defense. It will be up to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn to decide whether or not Therezie starts.

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Access denied: FIU doesn’t provide credential for only beat writer

Ron Turner, FIU

Exposure is everything in today’s college football landscape. Unfortunately, for the players at Florida International University, the school’s decision makers don’t feel the same way.

FIU and the Miami Herald are caught in a little tiff.

The Herald is the only news agency in the area which employs a beat writer to cover FIU athletics. In the infinite wisdom of those making decisions at FIU, they denied access to the Herald’s beat writer, David J. Neal, for the Panthers’ season-opener against Bethune-Cookman.

“It’s unprecedented for any local team to refuse to credential our beat reporter without reason,” Miami Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez said. “The team does not get to choose who covers the program.”

The newspaper decided not cover the game at all after FIU denied the credential.

“We’re very disappointed the Herald has decided on this course,” Sandra Gonzalez-Levy, FIU’s senior vice president for external relations, said. “Credentials were given to other reporters. We regret that this is the Herald’s choice.”

FIU never provided a reason why Neal’s credential was denied.

It’s simply another misstep for a football program has been in a downward spiral since it fired Mario Cristobal. During Cristobal’s tenure, the coach led the Panthers to two bowl games before he was unceremoniously dismissed. The team then struggled to find any coaching candidates that were interested in the vacant position. The team eventually hired Ron Turner, who finished with an 1-11 record during his first season.

Furthermore, the people hurt by this decision are the players. They don’t get the exposure they deserve for the work they’ve done. And the community doesn’t have the opportunity to read about a program the newspaper is willing to support.

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Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury receives contract extension

Kliff Kingsbury

An 8-5 record for a first-time coach was impressive enough for Texas Tech’s brass to pony up more cash. On the eve of the college football season, Texas Tech announced a three-year contract extenstion with head coach Kliff Kingsbury. 

“The new deal, which will run through the 2020 season, has a guaranteed total base of $24.2 million. Including this season Tech will pay Kingsbury an average of $3.5 million per year,” sources told FOX Sports‘ Bruce Feldman.

Kingsbury’s original contract was slated to end in 2017.

According to Feldman, Kingsbury signed the deal Friday, and it makes him the fourth highest-paid head coach in the Big 12 Conference behind Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Baylor’s Art Briles and Texas’ Charlie Strong.

“The deal also affords the charismatic 35-year-old to earn as much as an extra $1.5 million in bonuses each year,” Feldman reported. “Kingsbury can max $34.7 million over the length of the contract.”

Bottom line:  This is a preventative measure by Texas Tech.

The school is investing heavily in Kingsbury to keep him in Lubbock long term. Kingsbury is one of the youngest and most exciting coaches in college football. Despite graduating from Texas Tech, there was continued whispers Kingsbury would eventually leave the program for a higher profile program or the NFL. But Kingsbury put those rumors to rest.

“This is where I want to be and I couldn’t be happier,” Kingsbury said in the statement.  “I can’t wait to take this thing to the next level.”

A potential departure will be difficult anyhow.

Texas Tech isn’t simply investing to keep a popular young coach in town. The university is setting up the athletic department for success in the future.

Earlier Friday, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt updated numbers to promote the school’s “Campaign for Fearless Champions.” The school has already raised $75 million, but the number is far short of its goal of $185 million.

The school also unveiled plans Friday to continue to fund improvements in 17 sports.

“We want to move as quickly as we can, but we are dependent upon having the funding streams and revenue in place,” Hocutt told the Lubbock Avalanche’s Don Williams. “We will continue to visit with folks about investing into these facilities, and as the opportunity presents itself — from a funding mechanism, from fundraising success — we will move forward.”

As part of the campaign, Texas Tech plans to build onto Jones AT&T Stadium by adding a “three-level south end zone building that can house 30 suites — 15 each on levels two and three — and a Hall of Fame, stadium club and athlete dining hall on the lower level.”

In order to make money, a program has to spend money.

An investment in a talented young coach like Kingsbury is a legitimate step in the school realizing its vision. Kingsbury, meanwhile, must continue to prepare his team for Saturday’s opponent, Central Arkansas. Kingsbury’s extension is certainly a good start to the Reds Raiders’ season.

“There has never been a more exciting time within our football program than now,” Hocutt said. “I am very proud of the program Coach Kingsbury is building and I know our fans are as well. We can’t wait to kick off the season tomorrow night at Jones AT&T Stadium and are looking forward to a bright future.”

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Report: Les Miles picks Anthony Jennings to start at QB

Anthony Jennings

The LSU Tigers have a difficult match-up against the Wisconsin Badgers to open the season, and sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings will be the man responsible to lead the Tigers onto the field.

“… Jennings will start at quarterback for the Tigers in their season opening game against Wisconsin here Saturday,” a source told The Times-Picayune‘s Jim Kleinpeter.

Jennings is in a competition with fellow sophomore Brandon Harris to earn the spot vacated by Zach Mettenberger. Last season, Jennings served as Mettenberger’s backup. Jennings played in nine games and started the Outback Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes. In limited playing time, Jennings was 13-of-29 passing for 181 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Due to his role last year, Jennings was projected as the favorite to win the starting position. However, he struggled mightily in the bowl game. LSU won the contest despite his play. And Harris was a highly-regarded four-star recruit.

While Jennings is on the verge of opening the season as the Tigers’ starting quarterback, this competition likely isn’t over. LSU head coach Les Miles has been very secretive of the play of his quarterbacks during fall practice. Jennings might have the slight edge due to experience, but a slight dip in his play may cause Miles to go in a different direction at quarterback.

Miles said earlier this month he would name a starter when “it’s appropriate or when it’s right or two quarterbacks aren’t going to play, we’ll name a starter.”

The head coach has yet to officially name Jennings the starter, which means Harris may even have a chance of playing at some point against the Badgers.

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Suspended LB claims Oklahoma made him a ‘scapegoat’

Texas v Oklahoma

Oklahoma linebacker Frank Shannon isn’t pulling any punches after being suspended by the university for a year due to an accusation of sexual assault.

Shannon’s attorney, Aletia Timmons, spoke with the media Friday. Timmons painted a completely different picture than the one that was originally given regarding Shannon’s status.

The most pertinent statement made to the media was Shannon’s claim of innocence.

Shannon and his representation took the linebacker’s claims a step further.

The university reportedly conducted an internal investigation before it handed down it’s punishment. In doing so, Shannon claims the school “failed” him and made him into a “scapegoat.” Shannon even submitted to a polygraph test to clear his name.

Shannon never considered the possibility of transferring from the University of Oklahoma.

“I’m not running,” Shannon told Timmons during their initial meeting, according to The Oklahoman. “I’m not going to be branded as a rapist.”

Instead, Shannon plans to publicly protest the university’s decision to have him suspended.

Shannon’s adamant views make this a compelling case. The university and its football team have to err on the side of caution. Whereas, Shannon obviously feels like his name is being dragged through the mud.

The only thing that bring some finality to this case is the results of the ongoing investigation by the police department. The university can’t budge on its current stance after stating it “takes very seriously its obligation in cases like this.” And Shannon shouldn’t back down if he’s innocent.

Shannon, who was Oklahoma’s leading tackler a year ago, still has the “ability to appeal any decision reached by the University to a district court.” Until then, he’ll have to wait on the sidelines until some type of decision is made.

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UCF unveils new helmet for Croke Park Classic

George O'Leary

Head coach George O’Leary and the UCF Knights are fully immersing themselves into the pageantry which comes along with playing the team’s first game in Dublin, Ireland against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The team is taking in the culture and loving the cooler temperatures of the Emerald Isle.

“This is football weather,” O’Leary told the Orlando Sentinel.

We can’t forget about the tweak to the uniforms. The Knights will have a little bit of luck on their side with their logo for the special game.

Penn State, of course, won’t be making any changes to their classic uniforms.

It also appears Ireland readily accepted O’Leary and his Knights.

Reminder: The game begins 8 a.m. EST to kick off the first Saturday of college football with the right combination of rolling green field and talented football teams.

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Report: Josh Shaw being investigated for possible domestic violence

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC

The Josh Shaw story has taken a turn for the worse.

Not only did Shaw fabricate a story about saving his drowning nephew, which made the USC cornerback appear to be a hero, the reality of the situation may be more unfortunate than initially believed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Friday it is investigating a potential domestic abuse situation between Shaw and his girlfriend. The incident in question occurred last weekend.

In the earlier police report, officers responded to a call in an downtown Los Angeles apartment building after a “a report of a woman’s screams from a third-floor unit.”

“A neighbor reported seeing a man run across or scale a balcony, and gave a general description of the individual.”

The man fit the Shaw’s description, but he hasn’t been identified as the one exiting the building through a pried window.

The police would like to question Shaw further, but his attorney has declined the opportunity to do so.

“We would have like to hear from Mr. Shaw to provide some clarity about the situation, but that is not going to happen,” Capt. John McMahon, head of Central Division patrol, said. “In light of that, our investigation into a possible domestic dispute will continue.”

Donald Etra, Shaw’s attorney, said his client “has already spoken to the LAPD twice. We believe that is enough. The matter is over and there is no need to talk to them further. … Enough is enough.”

Shaw is indefinitely suspended from USC’s football. A return this season will likely depend on the outcome of the investigation and whether or not his teammates will accept him back. USC head coach Steve Sarkisian released a statement upon making the decision to suspend Shaw.

“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” Sarkisian said in a statement. “He let us all down.  As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.”

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Both BYU starting CBS don’t make trip, won’t play vs. UConn

Georgia Tech v BYU

Heading into his first full season as the starting quarterback, Casey Cochran’s opening-day task may have just gotten a tad bit less difficult.

According to the Deseret News, senior cornerbacks Jordan Johnson and Robertson Daniel (picturedhave both been suspended for the season opener against UConn Friday night. The two players didn’t even make the trip with the their teammates to Storrs.

No reason for the disciplinary measures were given.

The losses, though, would serve as significant blows to the Cougars’ secondary as each was listed as a starter on the most recent depth chart. Instead of the two veterans, redshirt freshman Jordan Preator and sophomore Michael Davis will likely get the starting nods.

After starting 12 games in 2012, Johnson missed all of the 2013 season with an ACL injury.  Daniel started 12 games last season after transferring to the Cougars from the JUCO ranks.

The two become the third and fourth Cougar players to be suspended for the opener, joining star running back Jamaal Williams (underage drinking arrest) and backup wide receiver Devon Blackmon (earrings).

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Report: starting LSU CB Rashard Robinson won’t play vs. Badgers

Florida v LSU

When LSU takes to the field for its season opener Saturday, it’ll do so without the services of one its top players in the defensive secondary.

Citing a source close to the situation, the Daily Reveille is reporting that Rashard Robinson is not making the trip with his Tiger teammates to Houston and will not play in tomorrow night’s game against Wisconsin.  The source declined to confirm why the starting cornerback would not be playing or even traveling with the team.

The football program has not yet addressed Robinson’s status for the game, although head coach Les Miles is expected to do so prior to the non-conference matchup with the Badgers.

Robinson, a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, started two of the 12 games in which he played as a true freshman last season.  With Robinson apparently out, he’ll likely be replaced by junior Jalen Collins in the starting lineup.

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Kevin Sumlin looks like he’s worth the money for Texas A&M

Kevin Sumlin AP

Kevin Sumlin is one of a handful of college football coaches being paid a $5 million annual salary — and based on Thursday night’s thrashing of South Carolina he’s worth the money.

Texas A&M ran 99 plays — 99! — in its 52-28 win, and did so with a first-time starter in Kenny Hill at quarterback. But, as Yahoo’s Pat Forde argues, maybe last night’s win was just as much about Hill as it was about Sumlin’s system:

Clearly, the pony has plenty of tricks. Sumlin acknowledged a “chip on the shoulder” after reading media predictions calling for the Aggies’ demise.

“Let’s see if they can coach now that the best player in college football is gone,” he said. “… Probably had some coaches, including myself, who took some comments personal in the offseason.”

Sumlin knew what his offense had done before Manziel – when Case Keenum became the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions at Houston. So he knew what his offense could do after Manziel as well.

Namely, churn out yards and put up points with spectacular ease. And speed. The Aggies clicked off a staggering 99 plays Thursday, exhausting and bewildering the Gamecocks.

This isn’t to say Texas A&M can win with any quarterback in there. But Sumlin has found three quarterbacks in Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel and Hill who can run his offense to perfection.

Armed with the right quarterback, Sumlin’s offense is incredibly difficult to stop. And make no mistake, Hill deserves a ton of credit for going into Columbia and playing as well as he did in his first career start. He completed 44 of 60 passes for 511 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

But if Sumlin can get that kind of game out of a first-time starter in a hostile environment…then yeah, maybe that $5 million price tag is worth it.

It’s the same $5 million price tag Spurrier poked fun at over the summer.

“A&M has recruited well, I know that. I read those rankings every year,” Spurrier said. “Kevin Sumlin has an excellent record as a coach. He’s a good negotiator, we know that also.”

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CFB after dark: Rutgers’ Kyle Flood gets big win, Vandy’s Derek Mason dealt big loss

Paul James AP

In case you fell asleep early last night (or at a reasonable hour, depending on your time zone)…

Rutgers running back Paul James rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Scarlet Knights to a 41-38 win over Washington State at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, a hugely important win for Kyle Flood as he ushers his program into the Big Ten. Rutgers, roundly picked to finish last in the Big Ten East, looked like a team capable of bowl eligibility Thursday night in the Pacific Northwest.

On Rutgers’ first play from scrimmage as a Big Ten team, Gary Nova hit Leonte Carroo for a 78-yard touchdown. But it was James who took over, rushing six times on Rutgers’ game-winning drive (that was teed up when Washington State’s River Cracraft fumbled a punt) and scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

Granted, Washington State’s defense didn’t look good, but the Cougs were a bowl team a year ago and quarterback Connor Halliday threw for 532 yards and five touchdowns. Make no mistake, this was a good win for a Rutgers program that’ll be scrapping for bowl eligibility come November.

And over in Nashville, Derek Mason’s Vanderbilt debut was a disaster. In a game that didn’t kick off until 10:50 p.m. ET due to thunderstorms in the area, Temple embarrassed the ‘Dores 37-7.

It wasn’t necessarily that Temple played well — the Owls converted two of 17 third down chances and only gained 352 yards of total offense — but it was moreso that Vanderbilt played some awful, awful football Thursday night and into Friday morning. Vanderbilt players fumbled four times while Mason cycled through three quarterbacks, who combined to throw three interceptions.

Between the 30-point loss, shocking string of turnovers, storm-delayed game and the “ANCHOR DOWN” mess, things probably couldn’t have gone worse for Mason in his first game at Vanderbilt.

Oh yeah, and this game featured the first fat guy touchdown of the year.

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No. 18 Ole Miss pulls away from Boise in ugly game

Boise State v Mississippi Getty Images

It wasn’t pretty, but No. 18 Ole Miss (1-0) will take it. A fourth quarter interception of Boise State (0-1) quarterback Grant Hedrick was quickly capitalized on when Bo Wallace connected with Quincy Adeboyejo for a 31-yard touchdown play, aided by some missed tackles by Boise State defenders. The score midway through the fourth quarter gave Ole Miss a double-digit lead and Boise state was unable to make a late dent in the deficit. A 76-yard touchdown pass to Cody Core served as the dagger to Boise State’s hopes for a victory in Atlanta. Ole Miss won the first game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, 35-13.

Wallace had his ups and downs with four touchdowns and three interceptions, but managed to make some nice throws in the fourth quarter to help lead his team to victory. The go-to target of the night was Laquon Treadwell, who got into some feisty verbal and physical exchanges during the night but ended up letting his play do most of the talking. Treadwell was the go-to receiver, but Core was the big play receiver. Core and Treadwell each put together a 100-yard night.

Bryan Harsin‘s debut as Boise State head coach will see him return to Boise with plenty to work on moving forward. The defense was worn down but performed well for the most part. The Broncos intercepted three passes and put the clamps down on the Ole Miss running game. The offense though, was up against a wall for most of the night. Credit to the Ole Miss defensive line, but Hedrick was intercepted four times and the Broncos were unable to take advantage of opportunities. One interception came in the end zone and Boise State had to settle for a field goal when a drive stalled just yards shy of the end zone. Running back Jay Ajayi never had much room to do much on the ground, accounting for 88 rushing yards and the only touchdown of the night for Boise State.

Ole Miss will play on the road next week in a SEC contest. The Rebels visit Vanderbilt, who saw their Thursday night opener against Temple pushed back late into the night due to severe weather. Ole Miss showed some very good things on defense but obviously needs to find a way to get on track offensively if the Rebels are going to be any legitimate threat in the SEC West, or at least to cause some trouble for programs like Alabama, Auburn or LSU (or Texas A&M).

Boise State likely loses a shot to get out in front of the race for a guaranteed spot in the College Football Playoff bowl line-up. The highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt gets a spot in one of the big revenue bowl games. Boise State could have used a win over a top 25 SEC team to crack the top 25 rankings next week and get out in front of the pack.

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Kenny Hill given Heisman odds, Texas A&M title odds updated

Kenny Hill

It took just one masterful performance in the season opener for Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill to be recognized as a Heisman Trophy contender. Not only was Jesse Palmer quick to draw comparisons to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston‘s debut lasts season at Pittsburgh, but one sports book (Sportsbook.com, actually) has already put Hill on the board, and with very respectable odds.

We live in a reactionary world when it comes to sports, so it should come as no surprise Hill was added to the Heisman odds. But there was more to the Vegas lines as well, with Texas A&M moving from 100/1 odds to 40/1 (this despite lacking much on defense).

Hill etched his name in the Texas A&M history books in leading the Aggies to a season-opening road win at South Carolina Thursday night. Hill passed or 511 yards and three touchdowns, and completed 44 of 60 pass attempts in his debut as the new starting quarterback.

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Halftime: Ole Miss, Boise State combine for six interceptions

Bo Wallace

Boise State is showing to be a program that will not be intimidated by a rising program in the SEC, but the Broncos are trailing Ole Miss at the half in Atlanta in the first game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. Ole Miss is leading a defensive (and at times ugly) showdown, 7-3.

The Rebels have forced a trio of turnovers by intercepting three passes from Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick, and the defense has been pressuring the Boise State signal-caller for much of the half. This is to be expected with the talent Ole Miss has on the defensive line. The Broncos have also been managing to run the football against Ole Miss but cannot break many big plays. Fortunately for Boise State, the Broncos have a defense that is holding Ole Miss down and not allowing the game to get away from them.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has also been intercepted twice in the first half and the Rebels have failed to convert a third down attempt (they did convert one fourth down attempt). Ole Miss took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to Cody Core. The Broncos had a chance to tie things up but the Ole Miss defense stuffed Boise running back Jay Ajayi a couple of yards from the end zone on the corner. The Broncos settled for a field goal.

There were a number of bad penalties by both sides in the first half, but Ole Miss really racked up the penalty yardage. Both teams took some bad penalties in the first half, including Serderius Bryant of Old Miss for his hit on Hedrick. The targeting ejection was upheld following the mandatory video review, giving us the second targeting ejection of the season. The Rebels have also jumped to a false start more times than any team probably should.

This should be a good defensive battle in the second half as well. If Ole Miss cannot start flexing some muscle on offense, then Boise State will continue to hang around, and that would not be advisable for the Rebels.

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Texas A&M snaps South Carolina’s 18-game home winning streak

Kenny Hill

No. 21 Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 SEC) has a motto saying they run the state of Texas. On Thursday night, Texas A&M ran the state of South Carolina.

The Aggies went to Columbia, South Carolina confident in what they could do, and it showed. Texas A&M snapped No. 9 South Carolina’s (0-1, 0-1 SEC) 18-game home winning streak in dominating fashion, running away from the Gamecocks 52-28.

The star of the night was without a doubt Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, who dazzled in his debut as the Aggies starter looking to fill the shoes left by Johnny Manziel. All he did was throw for a school record 511 yards and three touchdowns. He did so by spreading the football around very well form start to finish. In all, Texas A&M got the football into the hands of 11 different receivers and four different runners. The pace and ability to spread the ball around proved too much for South Carolina to handle as the Gamecocks were left catching their breath on the field and on the sideline early and often.

Texas A&M and South Carolina played a close first quarter, but the Aggies started to pull away in the second quarter and never looked back. Texas A&M took a 31-14 lead into the half and continued the onslaught with an answer any time South Carolina looked to grab the momentum.

The Gamecocks were mostly without their top offensive player, running back Mike Davis. Davis did not start the game and was given an early rest with a rib bruise as the game was well in hand. Davis carried the football six times for just 15 yards before being given a rest. But that was not the reason South Carolina lost this one.

South Carolina will host a dangerous East Carolina team next weekend, before hosting SEC East rival Georgia in what has become one of the top game sin the division the last few years. The Gamecocks clearly have more hole son defense than many may have been counting on this season, but there may not be another team with quite as potent an offense the rest of the season than the one South Carolina faced Wednesday night.

Texas A&M should continue to put up some big offensive numbers the next couple of weeks. The Aggies will host FCS Lamar in the home opener in Kyle Field next week, followed by a home game against Rice. The next SEC game for Texas A&M will come on September 27 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Arkansas in SEC West play. Moving forward, Texas A&M will have to be given more respect as a threat in the wide-open SEC. This Aggies team is not going to sneak up any one in conference play, especially Alabama, LSU and Auburn.

Watch out SEC. Texas A&M is going to put up some points once again.

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