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Rutgers announces 2013 recruiting class

Rutgers Scarlet Knights v Arkansas Razorbacks

(Below is Rutgers’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 6, 2013) – Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood announced Wednesday that 17 student-athletes have signed to play football for the Scarlet Knights beginning in the fall of 2013. In addition, Rutgers already secured commitments from five mid-year enrollees, to bring the signing class total to 22.

The 2013 recruiting class features 11 players from New Jersey, four from Florida, two from Pennsylvania, two from New York and one from Maryland, Delaware and Michigan. In all total, 21 of the 22 student-athletes reside in the “State of Rutgers.”

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 22 members of Rutgers’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Nick Arcidiacono
Tight End • 6-5 • 230
Holland, Pa. • Archbishop Wood High School

Two-way standout who played for head coach Steve Devlin at Archbishop Wood High School … younger brother of current Scarlet Knight Brandon Arcidiacono … third Archbishop Wood standout in the Rutgers program along with Brandon and Desmon Peoples … led team to state championship game as a senior and part of the school’s first state title squad his junior season … three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com, ESPN.com and 247Sports … No. 60 defensive end nationally by Scout.com … rated the No. 33 tight end nationally and the No. 41 prospect in Pennsylvania by ESPN.com … No. 21 prospect in Pennsylvania by SuperPrep Magazine … rated the No. 37 weakside defensive end nationally and Pennsylvania’s No. 24 recruit by 247Sports … eight receptions for 137 yards as a senior … Philadelphia Inquirer All-City selection … selected to play in the prestigious Big 33 game … Second Team All-Southeastern Pennsylvania selection by the Philadelphia Inquirer … No. 20 prospect in Pennsylvania by PennLive.com … played on the offensive line as a junior for a team that scored a school-record 699 points, a single-season standard among Pennsylvania’s AAA and AAAA teams.

Dontea Ayres
Running Back • 5-9 • 205
Salisbury, Md. • Wicomico High School

Mid-year enrollee who will practice in the spring … suffered a knee injury as a senior at Middletown High School in Middletown, Del., and missed the entire season … began his high school career at Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Md., the same school as former RU defensive back Wayne Warren … totaled 3,370 yards and averaged 9.4 yards per carry in three seasons of high school football … rushed for 1,471 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior … averaged 11.9 yards per carry his junior season … versatile back who also caught 13 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns his junior year … rated the No. 26 prospect and No. 2 running back by SuperPrep in its Mid-Atlantic preseason preview … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and the nation’s No. 82 running back … three-star recruit and the No. 3 player in Delaware by Rivals.com … listed as the No. 48 running back nationally and a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … rushed for 1,196 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Indians … averaged 8.7 yards per carry and 119.6 yards per game … finished freshman season with 703 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Nadir Barnwell
Defensive Back • 5-11 • 190
Piscataway, N.J. • Piscataway High School

Mid-year enrollee who will practice in the spring … four-year standout at Piscataway High School for head coach Dan Higgins … started three seasons at quarterback and defensive back for the Chiefs … led squad to a 30-5 record over the last three years … recovered from a shoulder injury to lead Piscataway to the 2012 NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 championship … finished with 30 tackles as a senior … completed 61 of 111 passes for 913 yards and eight touchdowns … also rushed 50 times for 298 yards and four scores … ranks second all-time at Piscataway with 3,239 passing yards and 202 completions … 34 career touchdown passes are the most in school history … led the Chiefs to back-to-back group state titles as a sophomore and junior … threw for 1,364 yards, rushed for 452 yards and scored 18 combined touchdowns as a junior … 40 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions as a junior … Preseason All-America selection by SuperPrep … rated the No. 22 defensive back nationally by SuperPrep … No. 6 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep … four-star prospect according to Scout.com … rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 11 athlete in the nation … No. 7 Garden State recruit by Rivals.com … four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 21 athlete by ESPN.com … four-star recruit and the No. 9 athlete in the nation and the No. 10 prospect in New Jersey by 247Sports … named the MVP of the Semper Fi Bowl as he led the East squad to a 17-14 win over the West … Third Team All-State selection by the Star-Ledger … two-time Home News Tribune and Courier News All-Area selection.

Devan Carter
Running Back • 6-2 • 230
Rochester, N.Y. • Brighton High School

Two-way performer for head coach Steve Lian at Brighton High School … led Brighton to its best record in a decade … senior season was cut short by injury, but still managed to rush for 987 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games (7.4 yards per carry) … rushed for 1,440 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com … rated the No. 6 prospect in New York by ESPN.com … rated the No. 77 inside linebacker nationally and New York’s 17th-best player by 247Sports … SuperPrep’s No. 4 player in New York who totaled 35 tackles and five sacks as a junior in limited action on defense.

Anthony Cioffi
Defensive Back • 6-0 • 180
Springfield, N.J. • Jonathan Dayton High School

Versatile performer who excelled on both sides of the football for head coach Joseph Goerge at Jonathan Dayton High School … Star-Ledger Second Team All-State honoree … 80 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and two sacks on defense … outstanding returner who had seven kick/punt returns of 60 yards or more … rushed for 896 yards and five touchdowns (11.5 yards per carry) at quarterback … threw for 694 yards and five touchdowns … one of the top single-game performances in New Jersey against Pingry … passed for 94 yards and a touchdown, rushed 16 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown and recovered two fumbles and forced one fumble in the 34-20 victory … Star-Ledger All-Union County … rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … No. 31 safety prospect nationally and the No. 18 player in New Jersey by Rivals.com … three-star recruit by Scout.com and the No. 86 safety in the nation … ESPN.com three-star selection.

Justin Goodwin
Running Back • 6-0 • 180
Summit, N.J. • Madison High School

Running back for head coach Chris Kubik at Madison High School … Star-Ledger First Team All-State honoree … rushed for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior … averaged 10.6 yards per carry … caught 12 passes for 439 yards and six scores … returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to help guide the Dodgers to their third-straight section title … sixth in the state of New Jersey in scoring as a senior (174 points) … rushed for a season-high 292 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 carries in a 36-6 victory over Dover … Star-Ledger Morris County Player of the Year as a junior and a senior … finished his high school career by winning his last 37 games … ran for 124 yards and a touchdown and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass in a 13-0 victory over previously unbeaten Mountain Lakes in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 final … rushed for 1,789 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior … returned three kickoffs for touchdowns his junior season … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and Rivals.com … ESPN.com’s No. 17 player in New Jersey and a three-star recruit … rated the No. 72 athlete nationally by ESPN.com … three-star recruit by 247Sports.

Janarion Grant
Wide Receiver • 5-11 • 170
Trilby, Fla. • Pasco High School

All-purpose standout for head coach Tom McHugh at Pasco High School … missed the first six games of the season with a broken hand, but still managed to score 20 total touchdowns in seven games played … Class 5A First Team All-State selection on offense … racked up 591 yards rushing, 168 yards receiving, 104 total yards on interception returns … scored five touchdowns against Fivay as a senior (two rushing, one passing, one receiving and a 50-yard interception return for a score) … rated the No. 8 recruit by Bright House Sports Network … helped guide the Pirates to a combined 25-2 record over the past two seasons, including a trip to the 5A state final four in 2011 and a region final appearance in 2012 … set a Pasco County record with 77 career touchdowns … Tampa Tribune All-Pasco First Team selection on offense … lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punt/kickoff return and defensive back … accounted for more than 1,800 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior … totaled nearly 1,000 yards receiving and led the Tampa area with 18 touchdown receptions as a junior … scored four special teams touchdowns in 2011 … three-star recruit according to Scout.com and the nation’s No. 54 cornerback prospect … three-star Rivals.com recruit and the No. 69 wide receiver nationally … also tabbed by Rivals.com as the No. 90 prospect in Florida … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … a three-star recruit who was listed as the nation’s No. 43 athlete and rated as the 94th-best player in Florida by 247Sports.

Bryant Gross-Armiento
Defensive Back • 6-1 • 190
Sunrise, Fla. • American Heritage High School

Played safety and cornerback for coach Jeff Dellenbach at American Heritage High School … rated three stars by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … named the No. 54 safety prospect by Rivals.com … made 17 tackles, helping lead the Patriots to a 9-2 record as a senior … rated the No. 71 safety nationally by ESPN.com … team won their district and appeared in the Class 5A playoffs … picked up 25 tackles and one fumble recovery as a junior … has two brothers that play football at Colgate … recently added Armiento to his last name to honor his adopted family.

Nick Internicola
Defensive End • 6-3 • 230
Pembroke Pines, Fla. • University School

Played high school football for coach Roger Harriott at University School playing at linebacker and on the defensive line … rated three stars by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … picked as the No. 28 prospect at his position and No. 69 out of Florida by Rivals.com … named the 54th-best player out of Florida according to 247Sports … Class 3A Florida All-State selection … ranked No. 26 on the Sun-Sentinel’s 2013 Broward/Palm Beach Super60 list … led his team to a 13-0 record and Class 3A state championship as a senior … team presented the MaxPreps’ Minuteman Trophy after finishing the season as the website’s small-school national champion … totaled 62 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles-for-loss and two interceptions as the team’s top pass rusher … picked up six tackles and numerous quarterback pressures during the state title game, shutting out the opponent in the second half … totaled 33 tackles, four sacks and two pass deflections as a junior … born in Boston and moved to Florida at age of eight.

Sebastian Joseph
Defensive Tackle • 6-4 • 270
Stroudsburg, Pa. • Stroudsburg High School

Played high school football for Joe Bernard at Stroudsburg … rated as the No. 30 prospect out of the state of Pennsylvania by Rivals.com … ranked three stars by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … checks in as the No. 52 player on the East Coast and No. 39 at his position according to Scout.com … totaled 40 tackles – with 17 for loss – to go with two forced fumbles as a senior … helped lead the Mountaineers to back-to-back Mountain Valley Conference champions with a 10-2 record in his final season … accepted bid to play in the Chesapeake Bowl following the season … picked up 25 tackles and six sacks as a junior as part of a defensive unit that held opponents to an average of 13.4 points per game.

Josh Klecko
Defensive Tackle • 6-2 • 260
Colts Neck, N.J. • Red Bank Catholic High School

Played high school football at Red Bank Catholic for head coach Jim Portela … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com and the nation’s No. 67 defensive tackle recruit … All-Shore Defensive Player of the Year according to the Asbury Park Press after posting 48 tackles and 8.5 sacks as a senior … won honor despite missing four games with injury … 16 quarterback hurries and returned one interception 37 yards for a touchdown … Class A Central Defensive Player of the Year … helped lead the Caseys to three-straight divisional titles … recorded 69 tackles and five sacks as a junior … team finished with the No. 13 ranking in the final NJVarsity Top 25 … Star-Ledger All-Monmouth County selection … Asbury Park Press All-Shore First-Team performer … rated as a three-star recruit by Scout.com … son of New York Jet great Joe Klecko, who played 12 seasons in the NFL with four Pro Bowl appearances as a defensive tackle … brother Dan was a former BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year at Temple and played eight seasons in the NFL and won three Super Bowl rings.

Chris Laviano
Quarterback • 6-3 • 200
Glen Head, N.Y. • Holy Trinity High School

Four-year starter at quarterback for head coach Tony Mascia … joins former high school teammate Matt McBride at Rutgers … threw for 1,473 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior … junior season totals of 1,716 yards passing and 14 touchdowns … four-star prospect according to ESPN.com … listed as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com … rated the No. 8 prospect in New York by SuperPrep … three-star rated recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 3 player in New York … listed as the No. 34 pro-style quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com … three-star recruit by 247Sports and the No. 3 player in New York … also rated the No. 20 pro-style quarterback nationally by 247Sports … completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,716 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior … top game as a junior came against St. Joseph-by-the-Sea after finishing 13-of-15 passing for 205 yards and three touchdowns … also ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on four carries in the 49-7 victory.

Lester Liston
Linebacker • 6-2 • 235
Grand Blanc, Mich. • Grand Blanc High School (Hargrave Military Academy)

Prep school linebacker who played one season at Hargrave Military Academy … originally from Grand Blanc, Mich. and Grand Blanc High School … played for head coach Joe Delaney at Grand Blanc … second on the team as a senior with 98 tackles and led the Bobcats with 699 yards rushing and nine touchdowns … averaged 7.1 yards per carry as a senior … rated the No. 16 prep school player in the nation and the No. 3 prep school linebacker by Rivals.com … a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports … listed as the No. 3 prep school inside linebacker recruit nationally by 247Sports … totaled 87 tackles and two interceptions as a junior en route to KLAA all-conference honors … helped guide Grand Blanc to a 7-4 record and the district playoffs.

Taylor Marini
Tight End • 6-4 • 250
Oviedo, Fla. • Lake Mary Prep

Played high school football for coach Scott Perry at Lake Mary … three-star recruit according to Rivals.com and Scout.com … ranked as the No. 40 tight end prospect nationally by ESPN.com … rated No. 37 on the Orlando Sentinel’s 2013 Central Florida Super60 … helped the Rams to a 7-3 record as a senior … used primarily as a blocker and long snapper, adding 11 receptions for 143 yards receiving in his final prep season … father Tony played basketball for UCF in the 1980’s.

Dorian Miller
Offensive Line • 6-3 • 295
Metuchen, N.J. • Metuchen High School

Played high school football for Sal Mistretta at Metuchen … lined up on both sides of the ball as a guard … helped the Bulldogs rush for 3,941 yards and 48 touchdowns combined during his junior and senior seasons … more than 80 percent of Metuchen’s plays were rushes, running behind Miller approximately 90 percent of the time … made 122 tackles with 12 sacks on defensive in his final two prep seasons … four-star rating from ESPN.com and Scout.com … No. 21 prospect out of New Jersey with a three-star rating from Rivals.com … helped lead the North team to a 28-13 win at the Chesapeake Bowl … Star-Ledger First Team All-State selection … Miller never yielded a sack and Metuchen ran for over 7,000 yards during his four-year career … on defense vs. Spotswood, totaled 12 tackles, four for loss, three sacks, caused a fumble and stopped a two-point conversion in a 28-26 victory … brother Dejuan played 38 games at Oklahoma as a wide receiver with 75 receptions during his career.

Myles Nash
Linebacker • 6-5 • 205
Sicklerville, N.J. • Timber Creek High School

Part of back-to-back South Jersey Group 4 section championship teams for head coach Rob Hinson at Timber Creek High School … joins former Charger teammate Quanzell Lambert at Rutgers … led team to a 22-2 record over his junior and senior seasons … totaled 70 tackles, 14 sacks and eight tackles-for-loss his senior season … four-star recruit by ESPN.com … rated the No. 50 athlete nationally and the No. 16 prospect in New Jersey by ESPN.com … Star-Ledger All-Group 4 selection … one of several Rutgers commitments to play in the Chesapeake Bowl … 84 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior … rated a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 43 outside linebacker by Scout.com … three-star recruit, No. 15 player in New Jersey and the No. 46 athlete nationally by Rivals.com … listed as the nation’s No. 61 athlete and a three-star recruit by 247Sports.

Andre Patton
Wide Receiver • 6-4 • 195
Wilmington, Del. • St. Elizabeth High School

Two-way standout for head coach Joe Hemphill at St. Elizabeth High School … named the Delaware Defensive Player of the Year by voting media and the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association … finished the season with 68 tackles and three interceptions … will play wide receiver at Rutgers and totaled 48 receptions for 761 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior … rushed for 677 yards and another 14 touchdowns … also returned punts and kickoffs for the Vikings … his older brother Eric plays football at Delaware … junior season featured 28 receptions for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns … also totaled 37 tackles and three interceptions in 2011 … three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 67 wide receiver according to Scout.com … No. 1 prospect in Delaware by Rivals.com … a three-star Rivals.com recruit who was tabbed the country’s No. 81 wide receiver … three-star recruit by ESPN.com and 247Sports … rated the No. 1 player in Delaware by ESPN.com and 247Sports.

Delon Stephenson
Defensive Back • 5-11 • 190
Sayreville, N.J. • Sayreville High School (Milford Academy)

Spent the fall at Milford Academy and played for head coach Bill Chaplick … lined up at defensive back for Milford, finishing the season with 48 tackles, six pass breakups and a forced fumble … 2010 Home News Tribune Offensive Player of the Year … rated by Rivals.com the No. 21 prep player in the nation … three-year letterwinner for head coach George Najjar at Sayreville High School … younger brother of current Scarlet Knight defensive tackle Daryl Stephenson and also played with defensive end David Milewski at Sayreville … listed as the No. 12 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep in 2011 … combined 22 touchdowns as a senior, including 1,161 rushing yards and 370 yards receiving … game-winning 65-yard touchdown reception in the closing minute of the sectional semifinal … 59 tackles and six interceptions as a defensive back in 2011 … part of two state championship teams for the Bombers … registered 3,532 yards from scrimmage and 52 touchdowns for his career, including 15 interceptions on defense … scored 12 touchdowns in eight playoff games … Star-Ledger All-State First Team pick on defense … guided the Bombers to a 30-5 career record as a three-year starter … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

T.J. Taylor
Defensive Back • 6-3 • 190
Kendall Park, N.J. • South Brunswick High School

Played for head coach Joe George at South Brunswick High School … continues a strong tradition of Vikings to play at Rutgers, joining former high school teammate Jevon Tyree “On the Banks” and hails from the same high school of current Cincinnati Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu … Star-Ledger Second Team All-State on defense … finished senior season with 33 receptions for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns … led the Vikings to the Central Jersey Group 5 championship … recorded 48 tackles, 15 pass breakups and three interceptions at safety … finished year with 365 return yards … Star-Ledger All-Group 5 defensive selection … Home News Tribune All-Area as a junior and a senior … Star-Ledger All-Middlesex selection on defense … junior year featured 17 receptions for 468 yards and six touchdowns … three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 41 safety by Scout.com … No. 20 prospect in the Garden State, No. 47 athlete nationally and a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … rated the No. 77 athlete nationally, No. 20 recruit in New Jersey and a three-star recruit by ESPN.com … three-star prospect according to 247Sports.

John Tsimis
Wide Receiver • 6-0 • 175
Harrington Park, N.J. • Bergen Catholic High School

Played for coach Nunzio Campanile at Bergen Catholic … rated a three-star recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com … ranked as the No. 5 wide receiver out of the Garden State by NJVarsity.com … missed senior season due to injury … caught 50 passes for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior … three-star recruit according to ESPN.com … rated the No. 33 player in New Jersey by ESPN.com … rated No. 30 player in New Jersey and a three-star recruit by 247Sports … all-state honors his junior season … played in an offense that racked up more than 2,000 passing yards in 2011 … helped lead the Crusaders to an 8-3 record … leaves Bergen Catholic ranked in the top five in almost every receiving category … registered 10 catches, 152 yards and two touchdowns in win over Don Bosco Prep as a junior … totaled 15 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore … played high school basketball.

Kemoko Turay
Defensive End • 6-6 • 220
Newark, N.J. • Barringer High School

Played for coach Darnell Mangan at Barringer High School … Third-Team All-State selection by the Star-Ledger … led the state of New Jersey with 19 sacks as a senior … helped guide Barringer to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years … nine tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a safety in a 19-6 victory over Belleville … rated as a three-star recruit by Scout.com … recorded 105 tackles (28 for loss), 19 sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior … did not play football as a sophomore or junior … played the sport as a freshman at East Orange … … NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 spring track and field champion in the triple jump and long jump as a junior … noticed by coaches at Rutgers football camp … also played high school basketball.

Eric Wiafe
Defensive End • 6-5 • 260
Egg Harbor Township, N.J. • Egg Harbor Township High School

Played high school football for coach Tony DeRosa at Egg Harbor Township High School … former high school teammate of current Scarlet Knight defensive back Tejay Johnson … rated three stars by Scout.com … noted as the No. 79 defensive tackle nationally by Scout.com … played both defensive tackle and tight end in high school … recorded 44 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a senior … Press of Atlantic City All-Star selection … 10 tackles and one reception for 19 yards in limited action as a junior … rated as the No. 20 prospect in New Jersey according to SuperPrep Magazine.

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Maryland loses starting TE for rest of season with dislocated knee

Maryland v Syracuse

One of the more gruesome sounding and looking injuries in any sport is a dislocated knee cap.  Unfortunately for a starting member of Maryland’s offense, that very injury has befallen him.

In the win over Syracuse Saturday, Andrew Isaacs had his left leg rolled up on by his starting quarterback, C.J. Brown.  The collision triggered an injury that will cost the tight end the remainder of the 2014 season.

“It’s really difficult,” Brown said. “I made a cut inside. I heard him yell. I got up and I saw his knee and I just started waving for the training staff to come over. Dislocated knee, that’s bad.”

The Terps are hopeful that Isaacs didn’t suffer any type of nerve damage.

“My hats off to him,” head coach Randy Edsall said, “because that’s a tough injury. Just to see how he was responding out there. He was just more worried about how he was going to get back and how he was going to come back stronger, and more worried about his teammates than worried really about himself.”

Isaacs is the Terps’ starting tight end, but has just one catch on the season. The sophomore will likely be eligible for a medical redshirt season as the injury occurred in the fourth game of the year, meaning he’ll fall within the 20-percent threshold — the NCAA rounds up — of games played that triggers waiver eligibility.

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‘A little bruised’ and ‘sore,’ Blake Sims says shoulder’s ‘very fine’

Florida Atlantc v Alabama

It appears Alabama’s first bye week is coming at a most opportune time.

At the end of a third-quarter scramble in the Tide’s win over Florida, Blake Sims landed awkwardly and injured his right (throwing) shoulder.  The starting quarterback was taken to the locker room for further examination but subsequently returned to both the sidelines and the game.

Following the win, Sims attempted to downplay the severity of the injury.

“It’s very fine,” Sims said. “Just a little bruised. I’m going to get with the training staff and try to get better and let the team know I’m good. I’m going to come out against Ole Miss (Oct. 4) and try to win the game. …

“I’ll be all right. I’m going to get with the training staff and ice it, ice it, ice it.”

Sims’ head coach, though, said the off weekend will prove to be beneficial for Sims as it appears the player will be somewhat limited this week in practice.

“It will probably be something that’s sore for him for a while,” said Nick Saban. “Hopefully that second week he’ll be able to get back to normal in practice.”

Sims, incidentally, suffered the injury in the midst of one of the greatest passing performances in school history.

His 445 yards were the second-most in school history, behind only Scott Hunter’s 484 in a 1969 loss over Auburn.  It was also just the second 400-yard game ever for a Tide quarterback.

A whopping 272 yards of that total came in the first quarter alone, while 202 for the game — and three of his four passing touchdowns to boot — went to stud wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Speaking of Cooper, and while we’re here, Cooper had 45 receptions for 736 yards and four touchdowns last season in 12 games played.  This season, and through four games, Cooper has 43 catches for 655 yards and five touchdowns.

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Jimbo ‘hopes and believes Jameis will learn from this’

Jameis Winston

For the first time, Jameis Winston‘s off-field actions very nearly cost his football team on it as Florida State escaped with an overtime win over Clemson.

With the one-game suspension for the reigning Heisman winner in the books, and with the Seminoles’ nation’s best 19-game winning streak still intact, Winston’s head coach is hoping the young quarterback has — finally — learned his lesson.  And that this is the last issue for the duration of however much longer Winston stays in Tallahassee.

“At the end of the day we felt like the one game made the most sense, and I chose to keep that process internal,” Jimbo Fisher said according to USA Today‘s Dan Wolken. “Now he’s served that punishment and he’s ready to move forward.

“You never know the pace kids learn or why they make mistakes, but I hope and believe Jameis will learn from this and use better judgment and his language and decision-making and respect for everything will continue to grow.”

Based on the most recent evidence available, though, Fisher’s getting ahead of himself as his player’s still behind the learning curve.

During pregame warm-ups ahead of the game with the Tigers, the suspended Winston showed up in full football gear. Fisher was not impressed, or pleased, with that development as the perturbed head coach promptly punted the player’s arse back into the locker room and out of uniform.

Plain and simple, Winston just doesn’t get it. At least not yet and even with a suspension that could very well have extinguished the hopes FSU entertained in becoming back-to-back champs.

Hopefully at one point the light switch will come, but right now Winston’s completely in the dark from the neck up.

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No. 1 Florida State’s OT escape highlights a crazy Saturday

Deshaun Watson,Eddie Goldman

Week 4 of the 2014 college football season offered 55 games, and exactly one of them featured a ranked team taking on a fellow ranked team. If you thought that guaranteed a dull day, well, you don’t know college football.

NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE SURVIVES CLEMSON IN OT

Florida State looked every bit like a team playing without the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, as Sean Maguire was sacked five times and threw two interceptions. The Clemson defensive line dominated, limiting the Seminoles to minus-12 rushing yards in regulation (key phrase: in regulation), as the Tigers’ own backup Deshaun Watson (296 total yards, one touchdown, no turnovers) guided the Tigers to a 17-10 fourth-quarter lead. Florida State tied it when Rashad Greene caught a 74-yard catch-and-stroll touchdown after a Clemson defender fell down, but Clemson appeared headed toward the upset after Maguire’s interception gave the Tigers the ball at the FSU 24. But Clemson fumbled on its second play, opened overtime by getting stuffed on a 4th-and-1 (did we mention kicker Ammon Lakip missed 2-of-3 field goals) and closed the night by letting Karlos Williams move the required 25 yards in two plays to give Florida State the season-saving 23-17 win.

Have fun sleeping tonight, Clemson.

BUT NO. 2 WASN’T MUCH BETTER

Marcus Mariota completed 21-of-25 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns and added 58 rushing yards to lead No. 2 Oregon to a 38-31 win at Washington State. The rest of the Ducks’ offense? Fifteen touches for 15 yards. (All numbers approximate.) Oregon averaged an un-Duck-like 4.1 yards per carry, and allowed the Cougars to throw for 436 yards and rush for 63 more. And to top it off, it took the officials ruling this 3rd-and-13 pass  in Oregon territory on Washington State’s would-be tying drive as nothing but good, clean defense to clinch the win.

MISSISSIPPI STATE TAKES DOWN NO. 8 LSU

It’s not often you see a 34-29 decision described as a blowout, but that’s what this felt like. Mississippi State built a 34-10 lead over No. 8 LSU and outgained the Tigers by 140 yards – their 570 yards were the most LSU allowed an opponent since the pre-Nick Saban era – and generally whipped their hosts up front. But then LSU backup signal caller Brandon Harris caught fire, hitting 6-of-8 throws for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and all of a sudden a 24-point game saw LSU throwing into the end zone for a chance to win the game. It was intercepted, and Dan Mullen moved to 3-21 against ranked teams, snapping a 15-game losing streak, and Mississippi State became the first non-No. 1 ranked team to win a night game in Death Valley during the Les Miles era.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA BEATS WEST VIRGINIA, FINDS A RUNNING BACK

America, meet freshman running back Samaje Perine. Playing for an injured Keith Ford, Perine carried 32 times for 242 yards and four touchdowns to power No. 4 Oklahoma past West Virginia, 45-33. His touchdowns pulled OU into a 17-17 tie, gave the Sooners a 31-24 lead, and then a 38-27 lead, and then put the game away at 45-27.

NO. 2 ALABAMA BLASTS FLORIDA, 42-21

You get the feeling that if Alabama didn’t turn the ball over four times, this would have had a 40-point final margin. Florida took a 14-7 lead in the middle of the first quarter thanks to two early turnovers by the Tide, but Alabama erupted from there, ending the game on a 35-7 run and absolutely blowing the Gators off the stat sheet. Blake Sims threw for 445 yards and four touchdowns, Amari Cooper caught 10 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and Derrick Henry added 111 rushing yards and a score, as Alabama outgained Florida 645-200. Yep, Cooper outgained the Fighting Muschamps by himself, and nearly outscored them, too.

MISSOURI LOSES TO INDIANA, UNDOES SEVEN YEARS OF SEC DOMINANCE

Missouri left the Big 12 North, and then promptly turned the SEC East into the Big 12 North. The 18th-ranked Tigers lost to Indiana at home on Saturday, 31-27, after blowing a 27-24 lead on a D’Angelo Roberts touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining. It’s never a good thing for your SEC championship chances when you allow Indiana to throw for 252 yards while also outrushing you by 69 yards, right?

SPURRIER RIPS NO. 14 SOUTH CAROLINA’S 48-34 WIN OVER VANDY

Vanderbilt – 37-7 losers to Temple earlier this year – held a 14-0 lead over No. 14 South Carolina in the first quarter, and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Steve Spurrier was quite pleased.

THINGS GET TESTY IN LINCOLN AS NO. 24 NEBRASKA WINS REUNION WITH MIAMI You have to really piss off the locals to get booed off the field in Lincoln. Or, be the Miami Hurricanes. Ameer Abdullah rushed 35 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns as the Cornhuskers rallied from a 14-7 first half deficit and never trailed in the second half, but nine Miami penalties and a general touchy-feely nature led to the ‘Canes getting booed out of the most welcoming house in college football as Nebraska won, 41-31.

OFFENDED BY MICHIGAN’S OFFENSE, MOTHER NATURE FLOODS THE BIG HOUSE It’s clear by now that Brady Hoke has no idea how to construct an offense without Denard Robinson, and it’s also abundantly clear by now that Mother Nature is tired of sitting around and waiting for the Wolverines to get it together. Michigan accumulated 4.4 yards per pass, 3.3 yards per rush and a grand total of three points in a 26-10 loss to Utah. And then this happened during the fourth quarter:

HOW’S THIS FOR A NIGHTCAP? ARIZONA BEATS CAL ON HAIL MARY California led Arizona 31-13 entering the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough. The Wildcats launched a mad rally, but the Golden Bears’ lead appeared safe at 45-30 with five minutes remaining. The Wildcats notched two more touchdowns to pull within 45-43 after the Cal offense sputtered, but all they had to do to earn the first Pac-12 win of the Sonny Dykes era was stop a simple Hail Mary. Surely they could do that, right?

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Marcus Mariota near perfect in Oregon’s underwhelming defeat of Wazzu

Marcus Mariota

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota looked every bit the Heisman front-runner he is purported to be on Saturday night, and he had to be as No. 2 Oregon squeaked past Washingon State 38-31 in Pullman.

Mariota completed 21-of-25 passes, including every one of his last 14 throws, for 329 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions, while sprinkling in 13 rushes for 58 yards. It’s a good thing for the Ducks that their quarterback was as good as he was, because they would have lost otherwise. Mariota was sacked six times, and the Ducks ran for an un-Oregon-like 4.2 yards per carry on 42 tries. This was against a Washington State team that ranks 84th nationally in rushing defense.

Connor Halliday completed 43-of-63 passes for 436 yards and four touchdowns, and the Cougars pounded out 17 rushes for 63 yards. The Four Horsemen would be proud.

Washington State scored first and led 14-7 after one quarter, but the Fighting Mariotas took a 21-14 lead before Holliday notched an equalizer to tie it at 21 at the half. Oregon took a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter, and then broke serve by forcing a Washington State field goal to open the fourth quarter.

Washington State forced a 31-31 tie after Halliday hit River Cracraft from five yards out with 8:57 remaining, but Oregon pulled ahead again with Mariota’s fifth passing touchdown of the night, this one a six-yarder to Keanon Lowe. The Cougars were driving for a potential tie when facing a 3rd-and-13 at the Oregon 38 when this play you see below was ruled incomplete with no flag drawn. You be  the judge.

Halliday was sacked on the next play, and that would be that. Washington State never touched the ball again, and Oregon held on for the 38-31 win.

The Ducks take next week off before hosting a fellow 4-0 club in Arizona on Thurs., Oct. 2, while Washington State (1-3) is back in action at Utah on Saturday.

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No. 1 Florida State mounts improbable rally, stuns No. 22 Clemson in OT

Karlos Williams, Robert Smith, Tony Stewart

Let us recount the ways No. 22 Clemson could have beaten No. 1 Florida State Saturday night in Tallahassee:

  • Not under-throw a wide-open tight end on third-and-goal on the first drive of the game.
  • Not miss the ensuing field goal.
  • Not snap the ball over your quarterback’s head while knocking on the door of another touchdown, moving from the four-inch line to the 24.
  • Not missing that ensuing field goal.
  • Not having your defensive back fall down in front of Florida State’s best receiver, allowing an otherwise silent Rashad Greene to stroll in for a game-tying 74-yard touchdown grab.
  • Not fumbling the ball at the Florida State 14 with 1:36 to play, missing a chance at a game-winning touchdown or field goal.
  • Not running the ball on fourth-and-1 against a stacked box in overtime.

Clemson did every one of those things, and thereby turned a 17-10 fourth-quarter lead into a 23-17 overtime loss to Florida State.

The obvious story was the continued struggle of Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire, playing for the suspended Jameis Winston, and the corresponding dominant effort of the Clemson defensive front. Maguire completed 21-of-39 passes for 305 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Take away the 74-yard gift and add in the six sacks for 49 yards and you get a more accurate representation of Maguire’s first start: 182 yards on 43 called pass plays, good for 4.2 yards per attempt, with two interceptions. Oh, and Florida State also ran for minus-12 yards in regulation.

Cole Stoudt started the game for Clemson, played the first three series, and was not seen again. That was partly of his own doing – Clemson did not score in his time on the field – but mostly it was due to the play of his freshman backup Deshaun Watson. He accounted for 296 yards of total offense and one touchdown with no turnovers. Considering the play of the Clemson defensive line, there’s a chance he’d have been the best quarterback on the field even with a certain Heisman winner in action.

After trading field goals to open the game, D.J. Howard powered in from one-yard out to give the Tigers a 10-3 lead with 5:56 remaining in the first half, a lead it would take into halftime. Florida State opened the second half with the ball and put together without a doubt its best possession of the half, moving 68 yards in nine plays, setting up a Mario Pender one-yard run to tie the game with 11:05 remaining in the third quarter. Clearly buzzing after his halftime talk with the coaching staff, this drive was the only time Maguire looked the part of a major college starter, connecting on 6-of-7 throws for 53 yards. Again, take out this drive and the touchdown, and Maguire’s 36 other called passes registered a total of 129 yards.

Watson put Clemson on top again at 17-10 with a two-yard run four minutes into the second half, which Florida State equalized when Maguire found a wide open Greene for a 74-yard catch-and-jog.

Clemson appeared to be in perfect shape to win the game after Maguire airmailed a pass into the arms of Jadar Johnson, which he returned 24 yards to the Florida State 26.

And now we are into the portion of the game where Florida State defensive lineman Eddie Goldman wrecked everything in sight, including the hopes of every Clemson fan in existence. After an eight-yard run by Watson on first down, Goldman forced a Davidson fumble at the Seminoles’ 14, thereby doing just about the only thing possible to keep Florida State from losing.

On the opening possession of overtime, Goldman sacked Watson for a loss of four on second down, and then created the disruption that allowed a host of Seminoles to stuff Adam Choice for no gain on fourth-and-1 to end Clemson’s chance in overtime. Two plays later, Karlos Williams rumbled into the end zone for the game-winning score.

With the win, Florida Stats has obviously survived the Winston suspension, and seemingly will be more galvanized than ever in its drive to repeat. The Seminoles are now officially the clear favorites to win the ACC, and thus become the ACC’s representative in the College Football Playoff. There are hurdles to cleared between now and then, a home date with No. 9 Notre Dame on Oct. 18, and a Thursday night trip to Louisville on Oct. 30, and two six-point wins in its only two games against competent opponents suggest this is not the Florida State juggernaut of a year ago. But a betting man would say this is the closest Florida State and its 19-game winning streak come to defeat until January.

For Clemson, what can you even say? The Tigers will never have a better shot at their first win over an AP No. 1. The schedule gets breezy from here, but that feels like hollow consolation for a team that’s 1-2 and has seen any realistic hopes of a championship evaporate before the end of September. This was a loss every Clemson fan, player and coach will try – and fail – to forget.

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No. 2 Oregon in a dog fight with Washington State, tied 21-21 at the half

Marcus Mariota

No. 2 Oregon is at the Palouse tonight for a date with Washington State, and it’s got a problem on its hands. The Ducks and Cougars are tied 21-21 at the half, and this has every bit the feel of a game headed to the wire.

Oregon’s offensive line has struggled – mightily – to block Washington State and its 84th-ranked rush defense, producing an un-Oregon-like 45 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first half. The problem for Oregon is that when Marcus Mariota is not perfect, it has no chance. Mariota is 7-of-10 for 165 yards with three touchdowns while also leading the Ducks on the ground with eight carries for 24 yards.

Oregon has accumulated 150 yards on its three touchdown plays, and just 60 on the other 21.

Connor Holliday has thrown for 261 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-41 passing, and the Cougars have held their own on the ground with 37 yards on nine carries. Our astute readers will now note that Washington State has doubled up Oregon’s play count through one half, 50-24.

Oregon gets the ball to open the second half.

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No. 4 Oklahoma discovers stud RB during 45-33 victory over WVU

Samaje Perine

The Oklahoma Sooners haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2010 when DeMarco Murray eclipsed the benchmark. Freshman Samaje Perine looked like he could be the next Sooners running back to overtake the mark after his 242-yard performance Saturday against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Oklahoma rode Perine to a 45-33 victory in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Perine got the start due to a foot injury to sophomore Keith Ford. After Perine’s 34-carry, four-touchdown performance, Ford may not have a starting job to come back to once he’s fully healthy in a couple weeks.

Don’t look now but my OU Sooners just discovered another Heisman quality back, Samaje Perine, freshman tank. Welcome to national stage, kid.

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) September 21, 2014

Bob Stoops on Samaje Perine: "He’s gonna be special."

— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 21, 2014

The freshman running back helped establish an identity for the Sooners as the team sputtered on offense initially. The realization eventually came to the Sooners coaching staff that they had a 243-pound running back in the backfield who was gaining chunks of yards each time he was handed the ball. And once that realization was made, Perine took over the game.

Of course, any good running back has plenty of help from his offensive line. Oklahoma’s offensive line is highly talented and skilled. Three seniors — left guard Adam Shead, left tackle Tyrus Thompson and right tackle Daryl Williams — set the tone and dominated against West Virginia. Oklahoma ran for 301 total yards.

Perine has been outstanding tonight, but Oklahoma’s OL is bringing it, too. Making life a lot easier on him.

— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 21, 2014

As Perine ran wild, it developed into the same old story for West Virginia. The Mountaineers are good enough on offense to win against talented opponents, but their defense continually disappoints.

Whereas Oklahoma showed it doesn’t have to play its best game to still win a game easily against a conference opponent.

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No. 24 Cornhuskers overcome emotions to defeat rival Hurricanes 41-31

AMEER ABDULLAH

Tensions were running high when the Nebraska Cornhuskers hosted the Miami Hurricanes Saturday in Lincoln. It wasn’t exactly the 1984 Orange Bowl, but the energy between both teams invoked the famous meeting between these two teams.

Bo Pelini‘s squad stood tall and proved it was capable of overcoming their emotions to earn a 41-31 victory. The win was a statement by the Cornhuskers and the Big Ten Conference.

Miami may not be the Hurricanes of old, but it’s still quality win for the Cornhuskers as the Big Ten searches for a program to lead the way this season.

As the Cornhuskers prepare for Big Ten play, three areas seen during the game will translate as the season progresses.

Nebraska will be able to run the ball on any team in the conference. Senior Ameer Abduallah is a dominate running back. Abdullah ran the ball 35 times for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And along the way, he entered the annuls of Nebraska history:

In total, the Cornhuskers ran for 345 yards, and it’s often said a running game travels.

Abdullah isn’t the only superstar on Nebraska’s roster. Defensive end Randy Gregory, who is projected as a Top 10 pick in the 2015 NFL draft, was a terror off the edge. Gregory was a constant presence and got to Miami’s freshman quarterback, Brad Kaaya, multiple times throughout the game.

Gregory also brings attitude to the “Blackshirts.” Nebraska hasn’t had a player that dominated physically and mentally like Gregory since Ndamukong Suh left the program. Gregory was mixing it up with the Hurricanes all evening. His combination of talent, production and attitude influences the entire Nebraska defense.

While Nebraska established itself with a marquee win, Miami melted down. The attitude on the field is nothing new for this program, but its inability to compete with top problems continues to be a major problem for head coach Al Golden.

Nebraska and Miami are clearly going in different directions. The way theses two programs handled themselves Saturday night was a tell-tale sign of what they can achieve this season.

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Mississippi State’s 34-29 win over No. 8 LSU raises questions about both teams

Josh Robinson, Ronald Martin

There’s no other way to say this: this game was weird. Really, really weird. It was a game where Mississippi State legitimately blew out No. 8 LSU, but somehow there the Tigers were throwing into the end zone with a chance to win as time expired. The Bulldogs became the first non-No. 1 ranked team to win a night game at Tiger Stadium in the now 10-year Les Miles era of LSU, joining 2009 Florida and 2012 Alabama. And Mississippi State did it in an authoritative fashion those others couldn’t, building a 34-10 lead and 570 yards of offense before holding on to a 34-29 win.

How did LSU nearly crawl back and steal this thing? Mississippi State employed the ‘ol prevent offense, even passing on a field goal try that would have put them up 37-16, and backup quarterback Brandon Harris caught fire, completing 6-of-8 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns before throwing an interception at the goal line on a last gasp Hail Mary. Oh, and a snap that went over Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott’s head and into the arms of an LSU defender certainly helped, setting up LSU’s final touchdown as Mississippi State hoped to ice away what would have been a 34-23 win.

But despite the ugly ending, Mississippi State looked good tonight. Really good. Prescott looked every bit worthy of the offseason whispers entering him into the Heisman conversation, powering the Bulldogs’ running game with 22 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown and hitting 15-of-24 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Josh Robinson, a Louisiana native alongside his backfield mate, rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown – on 16 carries. It was shocking how many times Mississippi State got the ball in space.

The Bulldogs also contained LSU’s offense, limiting the Tigers to 89 rushing yards, and forcing starting quarterback Anthony Jennings out of the game after producing 157 yards on 26 attempts.

This game was not as close as the final score indicates. This was the Tigers’ worst home performance – especially on defense – since before Nick Saban came to town.

Which leads us to wonder: whom does tonight’s stunning result say more about, the winner or the loser?

On one hand, LSU could prove to be of the ilk of similar purple and gold teams in the past, the one that had never lost to a non-No. 1 ranked team at home under the lights in the past 10 seasons, and Mississippi State could prove to be a legitimate contender in the SEC West.

Or, there could prove to be a reason that LSU has now fallen behind 24-7 and 34-10 in the two games its played against Power Five competition, just as there could prove to be a reason the win moves Dan Mullen to 3-21 against Top 25 competition at Mississippi State.

Does this win prove how good Mississippi State really is, or how bad LSU might be?

The probable answer: it’s likely somewhere in between. One thing is certain, though. We’ll find out very soon. After taking next week off, the soon-to-be-ranked Bulldogs return to Starkville and host No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 5 Auburn.

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Clemson and its ferocious defense leading a battle of backup QBs at the half

Sean Maguire

Let’s go ahead and check in on backup quarterback-turned-emergency starter Sean Maguire‘s numbers through one half: 6-of-17 for 106 yards.

Well, why is Florida State throwing the ball 17 times with its backup quarterback? Let’s check the rushing stats, aaaand the ‘Noles have minus-22 rushing yards on 11 carries. Oh.

Considering Maguire has been sacked three times for a loss of 24 yards, Florida State’s 20 called passes have gained 82 yards, and its eight remaining rushes have produced a grand total of two yards. In short, Vic Beasley and the Clemson front are straight dominating No. 1 Florida State, and 22nd-ranked Clemson leads 10-3 at the half in Tallahassee.

Clemson has also turned to its backup quarterback, although in vastly different circumstances. After starter Cole Stoudt produced zero points in the first three drives of the game (including an unforgivable shortarm to an open tight end on third-and-goal), the Tigers rolled with freshman Deshaun Watson for the remainder of the first half, and he’s looked like the best quarterback on the field – at least the best one in shoulder pads. Watson has completed 8-of-12 passes for 132 yards, compared with Stoudt’s 40 passing yards and 24 rushing yards. C.J. Davidson has put in work for the Tigers on the ground, pounding out 37 yards on eight carries. Senior running back D.J. Howard has the game’s only touchdown, a one-yard plunge with 5:56 remaining in the half.

Meanwhile, Brent Venables’ defense has limited the opposition to 84 yards, four first downs, and 1-of-8 on third down. Florida State just can’t block them.

Florida State will receive the ball to start the second half, and needs an entirely new approach on offense or we’ll have a new No. 1 tomorrow morning.

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WVU’s Kevin White, OU’s Samaje Perine steal spotlight during first half

Oklahoma v West Virginia

When the Oklahoma Sooners meet the West Virginia Mountaineers, offensive fireworks are expected. Everyone still remembers the 50-49 shootout between the two teams during the 2012 season.

After a slow start, the teams are living up to expectations. West Virginia and Oklahoma are tied 24-24 after two quarters of play.

Two players proved to be the difference-makers for each team.

West Virginia’s Kevin White entered the contest as the nation’s second-leading receiver with 460 receiving yards during the first three games. White continues to add to his season total with a strong effort in the first half. The wide receiver already has four receptions for 111 yards. White also got the offensive fireworks started with a 68-yard touchdown reception to give West Virginia an early 7-3 lead.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, found its offensive groove during the second quarter once head coach Bob Stoops and his staff decided running the football with 243-pound freshman running back Samaje Perine was the team’s most effective strategy. Perine rumbled for 111 yards and exploited West Virginia’s soft defensive interior.

As impressive as White and Perine have been, there have been plenty of other explosive plays.

The Sooners scored their first touchdown courtesy of a reverse pass from wide receiver Durron Neal to quarterback Trevor Knight. And just when it looked like the Mountaineers would take a seven-point lead into halftime, Oklahoma’s Alex Ross returned a kick 100 yards for the tying score.

The teams combined to score five touchdowns in the final eight minutes and 58 seconds of the second quarter.

The second half game plan is simple for both teams — continue to score as much as possible. It’s a simple plan, but one defensive stop by either team may be enough to eventually claim the victory.

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Mississippi State nearly perfect over first half, leads No. 8 LSU 17-3

Dak Prescott

Through one half in Baton Rouge, it looks like Mississippi State may walk out of Death Valley alive. The Bulldogs put together what has to rank among the best halves they’ve ever played under Dan Mullen, and lead No. 8 LSU 17-3 at the break.

Mississippi State forced a three-and-out on its first possession, and swiftly moved 57 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead. After trading punts, LSU moved 52 yards to within three feet of Mississippi State’s goal line, but the Bulldogs mounted a goal line stand, stuffing LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings on an option play on fourth-and-goal. Mississippi State then raced down the field, moving 98 yards in five plays capped by a three-yard Josh Robinson run to take an unexpected and commanding 14-0 lead.

The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter to bring us to a 17-3 score.

Dak Prescott has played near flawless for Mississippi State, hitting 8-of-11 throws for 141 yards and a touchdown. He did, however, have one ill-advised shovel pass while in the grasp of an LSU defensive lineman that nearly turned into a pick-six, but LSU’s Tre White dropped it. That’s the kind of night it’s been for both teams.

Fellow Louisiana native Robinson has rushed six times for 111 yards and the aforementioned touchdown to pace the Bulldogs’ ground game.

Jennings has completed 7-of-12 passes for 78 yards, but he’s not the type of quarterback that can dig out of 14-point holes on the strength of his arm. LSU needs a touchdown early to get back into this one.

Mississippi State will receive the ball to open the second half.

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B1G redemption? Indiana stuns Mizzou in Columbia

Nate Sudfeld, Tevin Coleman AP

Rightfully so, the Big Ten has been kicked around for its poor and embarrassing performances in 2014, looking very much like the Power Five conference that won’t have a seat at the College Football Playoff table at season’s end.

At least for one weekend, however, the skies were bright and sunny across the Midwest in general and in Columbia in particular.

In a stunning turn of events, Indiana took homestanding and defending SEC East champion Missouri to the carpet and headed back to Bloomington with an impressive 31-27 win.  The game-winning score came with 22 seconds left on a three-yard touchdown run from D’Angelo Roberts.

It’s the Hoosiers’ first win over a ranked opponent since 2006, a 31-28 victory over No. 15 Iowa.  It was the Tigers’ first loss for the 2014 season.

The defeat was not well-received by arguably the SEC’s biggest media cheerleader.

Tevin Coleman, who came into the nonconference matchup leading the nation in rushing yards per game, ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for another 57 yards in the win.  Coleman has now scored a rushing touchdown in 12 straight games, tying the school record set by Anthony Thompson in 1988-89.

The two teams were nearly identical statistically, with No. 18 Mizzou holding a slight 506-493 advantage in total offense.

The IU win was a microcosm for what was a wildly successful Week 4 for the Big Ten, especially going by the very low standards set through the first three weeks of the season.  Of the nine games involving B1G teams that have been completed, that conference has won all nine.  A 10th team, Minnesota, is up on Fresno State 17-7 late in the third quarter.

It’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows for the league, however, as Michigan is getting embarrassed 26-10 by Utah in the Big House in a game that’s been delayed by weather while Illinois is losing to Texas State 21-19.

Still, after the rough start, this was just the elixir needed for the wounded and bleeding conference.

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Lane Kiffin gets last laugh as Alabama rolls past Florida

Lane Kiffin

Love him or hate him, Lane Kiffin is making a positive contribution to the Alabama Crimson Tide offense.

No. 3 Alabama rolled up 645 yards of total offense during its 42-21 victory over the Florida Gators.

While Alabama has been known as a run-first, methodical offense during head coach Nick Saban‘s tenure, the team’s new offensive coordinator has his unit rolling during Alabama’s 4-0.

The performance was impressive on many levels.

First, Kiffin added tempo which created explosive plays for the Crimson Tide. Alabama had two touchdown passes of 79 yards or longer in the first quarter.

Second, the offensive coordinator is doing exactly what a good coach does. He’s putting his quarterback in a position to succeed. The tempo and overall play calling helped first-year starter Blake Sims post a career day with 445 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Third, Kiffin is getting the ball to his play-makers. Amari Cooper is arguably the best wide receiver in college football. The junior wide receiver was targeted numerous times and finished the game with 10 receptions for 201 yards, which was third-best effort in Alabama history. Cooper would have broken Julio Jones‘ single-game receiving record if he didn’t have two big plays called back due to penalties.

The wide receiver shouldn’t expect his load to decrease as the season continues, though:

Finally, Alabama is still a balanced attack. Members of the Crimson Tide ran the ball 52 times. And Kiffin found a way to distribute the ball between multiple talented running backs. Derrick Henry led the team with 20 carries for 111 yards. T.J. Yeldon also had 18 carries.

All of this was accomplished against a very talented Gators defense. Excellent play calling simply exploited Florida’s weaknesses. After this drubbing at the hands of Alabama, the temperature of Florida head coach Will Muschamp‘s hot seat continues to rise.

Kiffin, meanwhile, makes Alabama’s offense as dangerous as it has ever been under Saban.

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