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The Fifth Quarter: Week 3 Rewind

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban shakes hands with Texas A&M Aggies Johnny Manziel after their NCAA SEC football game in College Station Reuters

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

One rolled, one to go
When it came to Alabama’s season, most outside observers felt their season would come down to a pair of games against highly-ranked teams.  Mission No. 1?  Accomplished, courtesy of a wildly entertaining shootout win over Texas A&M on the road that aged an old defensive soul like Nick Saban.  Thanks to a schedule that includes Colorado State, Georgia State and Kentucky — Ole Miss might have a puncher’s chance — the two-time defending BCS champions will be heavily favored in every game leading up to Mission No. 2:  Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa against LSU.  Certainly you never count your wins before they’re hatched, but the schedule couldn’t set up any better for Alabama prior to the game against the Bayou Bengals,  The path to Pasadena was cleared; now the Tide just has to traverse and avoid the little obstacles — and one big one — along the way.

Super Mariota
Thanks to the fact that Oregon plays on the West Coast and a sizable chunk of their games end after most of the country has fallen asleep and/or passed out, not a lot of people know — or even care to know — about Marcus Mariota.  Thanks to a certain game in College Station, a rare mid-afternoon start for the Ducks did little to raise the quarterback’s national profile.  Still, it should be raised and people should take notice.  In UO’s woodshedding of Tennessee, Mariota passed for 350 first-half yards, finished with a career-high 456 yards and accounted for five touchdowns — four passing, one rushing — in just three quarters of work.  Mariota’s one of the top players at his position in the country, and it’s a shame some fail to recognize it based on location and time zones.

The Manziel & Evans Show
It may have come in a losing cause, but Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans were about as good as it gets on the offensive side of the football.  The reigning Heisman winner — who should still be at the forefront of the discussion for this year’s award — threw for 464 yards and ran for another 98 for a total of 562 yards; the Aggies as a team had 628 yards.  Manziel also tossed five touchdown passes, one of which went to Evans, who caught seven balls for a staggering 279 yards.  The defense may have let A&M down, but the offense, headed by Manziel and Evans, certainly didn’t.

Jameis WinstonFamous Jameis
With just one game on his résumé, many people scoffed at the mere notion that Jameis Winston might already be part of the Heisman discussion.  While that may be the case, the redshirt freshman is making an awfully good case that those individuals are wrong.  In limited action thanks to Florida State’s 62-7 blowout of Nevada, Winston completed 12-of-15 passes — after misfiring on three of his first five passes — for 214 yards and two touchdowns.  On the season, Winston has completed 40-of-45 passes, meaning he has thrown more touchdown passes (six) than he has incompletions (five).  The fact that Winston has such a firm grasp of the offense and can deliver the ball accurately bodes well for FSU’s future at the position, regardless of if he’s part of any stiff-armed discussion or not.

Gentlemen, start… your… Belldozer
When Trevor Knight was announced as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback before the opener, there were more than a few eyebrows raised as Blake Bell, aka the Belldozer, had been viewed by some (most?) as the likely successor to Landry Jones.  Part of the reasoning behind pulling the trigger on Knight, the theory went, was that he was the more polished passer.  In the game against Tulsa, Bell said, essentially, “polish this.”  Against the Golden Hurricane, Bell passed for 281 yards… in the first half.  He finished the 51-20 win with 413 yards passing and four touchdowns, further solidifying his hold on the starting job in place of the injured Knight.

It can only be Jared
If Jared Goff were a fifth-year senior, the video game-like numbers would be impressive.  The fact that he’s doing it as a true freshman?  Off the charts unbelievable.  The Cal quarterback came into the game against Ohio State leading the nation with 935 yards passing through the first two games of the 2013 season.  Against the No. 4 Buckeyes, Goff continued making a mockery of opposing defenses by throwing for 371 yards in the loss.  If Goff continues at this pace — he likely won’t — the first-year player would throw for a freshman record of 5,224 yards in the regular season alone.  Again, it’s not very likely Goff can keep up this breakneck pace, but if he even sniffs that rarefied statistical air, it will be one of the more impressive accomplishments of the 2013 season that gets little or no notice due to Cal’s record.

LOSERS

WTF was that?
This is what I know about the bizarre ending in the Wisconsin-Arizona State game: yes, the officials jobbed the Badgers, but the Badgers put themselves in a position to be jobbed thanks to whatever the hell that was Joel Stave was attempting to accomplish at the end of the game and with the seconds ticking away.  Why in the name of, well, pretty much anything, did Stave not simply spike it?  Or why didn’t the Badgers, down 32-30 and sitting at the 13-yard line, just simply kick a game-winning field goal with :18 left?  I’ve been on this earth for 45 years, and have been watching college football for as far back as I can remember, and I simply can’t recall anything like what happened in those final 15 or so ticks of the clock in the desert.  We’ll have more on this later, once that game sobers up and gets some coffee in it.

Trojan Nation speaking loud and clear
The question is, will Pat Haden listen?  Yes, USC cruised to an easy 28-point win over Boston College, bouncing back from last Saturday’s debacle against Washington State.  In that loss to Wazzu, chants of “Fire Kiffin!” rang out across the Coliseum.  The collective anger at Lane Kiffin, however, has apparently turned to apathy toward the Trojans.  Check out the scene eight minutes before USC’s home game against BC, courtesy of @uscpsycho:

USC Coliseum

On some level anger’s good as it shows the fan base still cares.  Apathy manifesting itself in the form of empty seats?  That’s never good for the future of a head coach anywhere.

So Manny more problems
If Longhorn Nation thought dumping Manny Diaz in favor of Greg Robinson would magically cure all that ails their beloved Texas football team, the disappointment should be kicking in… right about now.  While the Longhorns offered a glimmer of hope in their loss to Ole Miss — they led 23-14 late in the first half — the defense again could do next to nothing to stop the other side of the ball.  The Rebels scored the final 30 points in the 44-23 win in Austin, thanks in large part due to a running game that produced 272 yards on the ground.  Yes, that’s half the total UT gave up to BYU in another home loss (to BYU) last weekend, but its’ still an embarrassing total for a defense that can’t do something as simple as wrap up on a tackle.  Understandably, the fan base is frustrated.  How frustrated?  They booed Mack Brown when he appeared on the stadium’s Jumbotron to deliver a PSA on helping at-risk students.  How many more opportunities the UT faithful will get to boo Brown remains to be seen, although a continued downward trajectory could make it sooner rather than later.

Starkville needs to be Mullen a change
For some reason or another, just about anyone who discusses Mississippi State football over the past couple of years speaks highly of the job Dan Mullen has done with the Bulldogs.  The stark reality, though, is that he hasn’t.  During his first four-plus seasons at MSU, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a 17-4 record in non-conference games as well as bowls.  In SEC play?  Mullen is an abysmal 13-20.  Included in that latter total is a 24-20 loss to Auburn this weekend.  At least as far as the conference goes, the Bulldogs have made little or no progress under Mullen.  If MSU hopes to fight its way from conference also-rans to contenders, a change at the top may be in order.  Unless they’re happy with seven- or eight-win seasons and Music City Bowl victories, of course.

Unhappy Valley
A 2-0 start to the 2013 season had the denizens of Happy Valley feeling that the Penn State football program had turned yet another corner in its climb from the Sandusky abyss.  While that’s still the case, the ascent took a bit of a detour Saturday night.  A 31-17 deficit early in the fourth quarter turned into an insurmountable one as the Nittany Lions dropped a 34-31 decision to UCF.  While there’s no shame in losing to the Knights, an underrated squad that’s now 3-0, it says a lot about the current state of the PSU program that hanging close to a team that was in Conference USA just a year ago is considered a type of moral victory.  Bill O’Brien is the right man for the job; patience, though, will be at a premium over the next couple of years,

Akron v MichiganThe Big (Near-Flop) House
Make no mistake: Michigan averted a disaster Saturday that would’ve trumped even the infamous loss to Appalachian State six years ago.  Saturday’s opponent in the Big House, Akron, had lost 27 straight road games… hadn’t beaten an FBS team since 2010… and totaled just four wins the past three-plus seasons.  The Zips are pictured next to “football ineptness” in many a dictionary, and yet the Wolverines allowed the MAC school to come within a failed fourth-and-goal attempt of stunning them in their own house.  Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (no relation) called the win “embarrassing” afterwards; he’s not far off, even as his team appears to be a long ways away from challenging the likes of hated rival Ohio State for Big Ten supremacy.

Taggart’s bus ripe for repo
In a promotional campaign utilized by USF in an attempt to drive up ticket sales, the athletic department urged fans to “get on the bus” with new head coach Willie Taggart.  That bus, unfortunately, has dropped its transmission and is in danger of blowing its motor just three games into Taggart’s tenure.  Including Saturday’s loss to FAU (previously winless), the Bulls have dropped all three games of the 2013 season by a combined score of 102-37.  Included in that was a season-opening loss to FCS-level McNeese State by 32 points at home.  Taggart did an outstanding job at his previous stop at Western Kentucky; how long he’ll get to rectify and undo the damage caused by the horrific recruiting of his predecessor, Skip Holtz, remains to be seen.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

– No. 5 Stanford 34, Army 20: Thanks to what was by all appearances a nasty case of jet lag, the Cardinal fell behind the Black Knights 6-0 on the road — and led just 20-13 at the half — before righting the ship and pulling away.

– No. 13 South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 23: A comfortable 25-point lead at the end of the third quarter for the Gamecocks was sliced to 10 after just a minute was played in the fourth.   That was as close as Vandy would get, however, as USC rebounded from its emotional loss last weekend.

– No. 19 Washington 34, Illinois 24:  The Illini made it interesting after falling behind 31-10 at Soldier Field, but the Huskies made enough plays on the defensive side of the ball to push their record to 2-0 on the young season.

– No. 21 Notre Dame 31, Purdue 27: Trailing 17-10 on the road entering the fourth quarter, the Irish ripped off 21 straight points to stave off the Boilermakers upset bid.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — Coming back from 14 down on the road against the No. 6 team in the country?  Yeah, that’ll keep you slotted comfortably in the top spot. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Colorado StateTennessee Oregon Football

2. Oregon — You eviscerate an SEC team, even a (being kind here) mid-level one like Tennessee, by 45 points, you deserve to move up a couple of spots. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: bye weekend

3. Clemson — With one of their two byes out of the way, the Tigers were able to get in a little extra prep work for the ACC opener this Thursday. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: at North Carolina State

4. Ohio State — The Buckeyes won by 18 or more points for the third time in three games this season against Cal, but the perceived weakness of their schedule will keep them from moving back closer to where they began the season in the polls at this point in time.
Next up: vs. Florida A&M

5. Louisville — The Cardinals looked lethargic and/or positively uninterested in leading in-state rival Kentucky just 10-3 at the half.  A 17-point second half, however, righted what had been a previously listing ship.  Even at a perfect 3-0, the UofL must tighten some things up or risk tumbling in the polls that really matter. (Last week: No. 5)
Up next: vs. FIU

HE SAID IT
“I am really proud of those kids. You can’t believe how tough it was on them. You just can’t. Unless you were at practice, in those meeting rooms, in that locker room, you just can’t. He had such an impact on our team.” — UCLA head coach Jim Mora, following his Bruins’ first game after the tragic death of wide receiver Nick Pasquale.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Look, it’s all gonna be about what we do on this little 53-yard by 100-yard triangle out here.” — Nick Saban, defying the laws of geometry prior to Alabama’s win.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I’m just sick for my players on how hard, how well and how long they played and not to come away with the W, a victory to stamp on the end of what I consider a great football game that they played. I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to get some big wins and that would have been the biggest.” — Head coach Terry Bowden, following Akron’s near-upset of Michigan.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“We’ll get all of this righted with a Big 12 championship.” — Mack Brown, presumably with a straight face and everything.

GAMEDAY SIGN OF THE DAY
This beauty comes courtesy of BustedCoverage.com and, as is normally is the case, needs no explanation:

Johnny Manziel GameDay Sign

SAY WHAT?
How negative is the perception of next week’s slate of games?  ESPN’s GameDay show will originate from Fargo for the Delaware State-North Dakota State FCS matchup.  Curious choice, though, given games such as Michigan State-Notre Dame, Tennessee-Florida and Arizona State-Stanford are among those on the admittedly weak Week 4 FBS schedule.

TRUE STORY
Oklahoma City Thunder great Kevin Durant served as the honorary captain for Texas’ game against Ole Miss and no Mack Brown didn’t recruit the NBA superstar as a safety.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– Arkansas’ Alec Collins became the first player in SEC history, including the great Herschel Walker, to rush for 100-plus yards in the first three games of his career.  The last player to accomplish that feat at the FBS level was Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson in 2004.

– Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keaton threw five first-half touchdowns in the 70-6 evisceration of Weber State.  The five scoring tosses ties the school record, which Keaton equaled last week as well.

– Cementing his hold on the starting job, Connor Cook passed for four first-half touchdowns as Michigan State easily got past Youngstown State 55-17.

Ford Childress– In his collegiate debut, Ford Childress (if that is his real name) threw for 359 yards in West Virginia’s 41-7 win over Georgia State.

– The 42 points given up by Alabama in the win over Texas A&M was the most under Nick Saban.  The 628 yards of total offense by the Aggies is the most the storied football program has ever allowed in a single game.

– Speaking of Saban, Purdue’s Drew Brees remains the last quarterback to beat the coach in back-to-back games at the collegiate level, performing that feat when the current Tide coach held the same job at Michigan State in the late nineties.

– Colorado State’s Shaq Barrett blocked a pair of field goals to help the Rams upend Cal Poly 34-17.

– Running back Jay Ajayi ran for four touchdowns in Boise State’s 42-20 win over Air Force Friday night.

– Nebraska coughing up a 21-3 lead to UCLA was the Cornhuskers’ largest since Washington came back from a 20-point deficit… in 1920.

– With a 32-21 win over UConn, Maryland has started a season 3-0 for the first time since 2001.

– In Indiana’s 42-10 win over Bowling Green, the Hoosiers punted once… and it was blocked and returned for the Falcons’ only touchdown of the game.

– The 92 points Navy has scored in its first two games this season are the service academy’s most since 1975.

– It took five overtimes, but Buffalo was able to secure its first win of the season by the score of 26-23 over FCS-level Stoney Brook.

– Thursday night, Louisiana Tech forced four turnovers, had 11 tackles and tallied five sacks — and still lost 24-15 to Tulane.  Of course, when you muster just 289 yards of offense, that tends to happen.

IN CLOSING…
Nebraska showed its class as a football program in the first game after the Jerry Sandusky scandal shattered the serenity in Happy Valley.  Today, the ‘Huskers did it again.  Prior to the game against UCLA, over 90,000 fans in attendance at Memorial Stadium stood and paid their respects with a moment of silence for Nick Pasquale, the Bruins wide receiver who was tragically killed last weekend after being struck by a vehicle.  When the Cornhuskers took the field, their helmets were adorned with Pasquale’s jersey number.  Pure class, Lincoln.  Pure class.

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Movement aplenty in first in-season AP Top 25

Texas A&M v South Carolina

Thanks to some upsets — and a couple of high-profile near-misses– shakeup was the name of the game as the Associated Press released its first poll of the 2014 season Tuesday afternoon.

In that Top 25 poll, Florida State, coming off a closer-than-expected win over unranked Oklahoma State, remained No. 1, although the defending FBS champs did see an erosion in their support.  After receiving 57 first-place votes in the AP‘s preseason poll, the Seminoles claimed just 46 in Week 1.

A whopping six teams were on the receiving end of first-place votes from the media: No. 2 Alabama (one), No. 3 Oregon (five), No. 4 Oklahoma (two), No. 6 Georgia (two), No. 9 Texas A&M (two) and No. 12 LSU (one).

While the top four teams remained the same from a week ago, every position but No. 10 (Baylor), No. 20 (Kansas State) and No. 24 changed.

Below are the four biggest movers, of the week, both up and down:

UP
No. 9 Texas A&M (No. 21 last week)
No. 6 Georgia (No. 12)
No. 15 Ole Miss (No. 18)
No. 19 Nebraska (No. 22)
No. 25 Louisville (No. 31 last week)

DOWN
No. 21 South Carolina (No. 9)
No. 23 Clemson (No. 16)
No. 11 UCLA (No. 7)
No. 18 Wisconsin (No. 14)
No. 8 Ohio State (No. 5)

The only team to fall out the Top 25 this week was Washington, which was ranked 25th entering Week 1.

AP Top 25 Week 1

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Spurrier on Mike Davis: ‘good chance he’ll play’

Texas A&M v South Carolina Getty Images

Apparently it was a false alarm when it came to Mike Davis.  Again.

Monday, Steve Spurrier said his star running back is “sort of doubtful” for South Carolina’s game Saturday against East Carolina because of a lingering rib issue.  That issue limited the All-SEC back to just four carries, none after the midway point of the second quarter in the season-opening loss to Texas A&M.

During a press conference Tuesday, however, Spurrier sounded decidedly optimistic about Davis’ availability compared to 24 hours ago.

Because of Davis’ issues, Brandon Wilds led all USC backs with 45 yards on nine carries.

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Vols lose starting LT to torn ACL

Jacob Gilliam, Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson

Thanks to injuries, the game of football can be a cruel mistress.  The latest example?  Tennessee’s Jacob Gilliam.

After four years as a walk-on, the offensive lineman was rewarded with a scholarship this past May.  Then, Saturday, Gilliam started his first game at the collegiate level in the Vols’ win over Utah State.

That, though, will be Gilliam’s last start for a while — or ever — as head coach Butch Jones confirmed Tuesday that the player sustained a torn ACL in the opener.  Because of the injury, Gilliam (pictured, left) will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

“It’s very, very unfortunate,” Jones said. “I feel for him. I feel for his family. Here’s a young man, I love him to death. Walk-on who earned a scholarship. He earned it. … I just feel for Jacob just because he’s earned the respect of his peers and he’s worked so hard to put himself in position to be our starting left tackle.”

The Knoxville News wrote that “Jones said Tennessee is exploring the possibility of applying for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, but it’s unlikely that will be granted.” If that waiver is denied, it would mean the end to Gilliam’s collegiate career.

The injury is especially damaging for a Vols squad that came into the 2014 season with five new starting offensive linemen.

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FSU still sits atop coaches’ poll

Oklahoma State v Florida State Getty Images

With Week 1 officially in the books, the first wave of Top 25 polls has commenced in earnest, with the newly-dubbed Amway Coaches’ Poll the first to do the in-season 2014 honors.

Not so unexpectedly, preseason No. 1 Florida State remains at the top of the coaching poll.  The Seminoles also stretched its lead on No. 2 Alabama, going from 88 points up on the Tide to 109 as well as picking up a first-place vote.

FSU now has 57 of the 62 first-place votes.

Three other teams received first-place votes: No. 3 Oklahoma (two), No. 4 Oregon (two) and No. 8 Georgia (one), which was ranked No. 12 in the initial preseason poll.  The other team that received a first-place vote in the poll released last month, South Carolina, lost to Texas A&M and tumbled all the way to No. 21 from No. 9.

UCLA, with a sloppy road win over Virginia, also fell out of the Top 10, from No. 7 to No. 11.  Replacing the Bruins in the Top 10 was Stanford at No. 10.

Ohio State also dropped despite a win, moving down two from No. 6 to No. 8.  Michigan State, on the other hand, moved into the No. 6 hole vacated by their Big Ten foe after entering Week 1 No. 7.

The Top 10 was rounded out by Auburn (No. 5, same as last week) and Baylor (No. 9, No. 10 last week).

Thanks to its dominating win over South Carolina Thursday night, A&M made the biggest move up in the coaches’ Top 25.  Ranked No. 20 entering Week 1, the Aggies climbed all the way up to No. 13 entering Week 2.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, dropped five spots to No. 19 following its loss to LSU.  The Tigers, though, moved up just one spot to No. 12.

Oklahoma State, which nearly knocked off FSU, is the first team in the “Others Receiving Votes” with 106 points; in the preseason poll, the Cowboys totaled just 37.

Unlike in the past with the BCS, and as we will remind you every week moving forward, neither the coaches’ poll or the Associated Press rankings, which will be released this afternoon, will have any bearing on which teams qualify for the College Football Playoff.

1. Florida State 1,541
2. Alabama 1,432
3. Oklahoma 1,407
4. Oregon 1,358
5. Auburn 1,289
6. Michigan State 1,141
7. Ohio State 1,114
8. Georgia 1,108
9. Baylor 1,018
10. Stanford 999
11. UCLA 964
12. LSU 912
13. Texas A&M 895
14. USC 713
15. Notre Dame 605
16. Arizona State 502
17. Ole Miss 438
18. Nebraska 384
19. Wisconsin 373
20. Kansas State 370
21. South Carolina 272
22. Missouri 189
23. North Carolina 189
24. Clemson 155
25. Texas 150

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Badgers to shut Joel Stave down, ‘give him some rest’

Joel Stave

After watching Tanner McEvoy put up some horrific numbers in Wisconsin’s loss to LSU — 8-of-24 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions — many were calling for backup Joel Stave to come in and save the quarterbacking day.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, that’s simply not possible.  At least, not at the moment.

UW announced Tuesday that Stave will miss some time due to a lingering shoulder issue, which was a point of concern for the coaching staff throughout spring practice.  It’s unclear how long the senior will be sidelined.

“Joel has been dealing with some issues with his throwing shoulder for the last couple of weeks and we have come to a decision, after talking with Joel, that the best thing for him right now is to shut it down and give him some rest,” head coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. “It was a tough decision because Joel is a great competitor and has a tremendous desire to help this team. We will continue to monitor his progress but we’re not putting a timetable on his return at this time.”

Putting Stave on the shelf also explains why McEvoy wasn’t yanked in the midst of his subpar performance.

Stave started all 13 games for the Badgers last season, while the 6-6, 222-pound McEvoy was moved to safety — played in 10 games, started three — before returning to quarterback in the spring. The naming of McEvoy as the starter for the opener came as a surprise given the experience on both sides, including McEvoy’s lack of it.

With Stave out for the foreseeable future, however, the Badgers’ fortunes will rest with McEvoy. Redshirt sophomore Bart Houston will now serve as McEvoy’s primary backup.

In addition to the Stave news, Anderson also announced that tight end T.J. Watt will “miss an extended amount of time” because of injury.  Anderson said the younger brother of UW legend J.J. Watt “suffered a right knee injury during camp which required surgery.”

“[W]e hope to have him back on the practice field at some point during the conference season,” the coach said of Watt.

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Terps lose WR Taivon Jacobs to season-ending knee injury

C.J. Brown, Andrew Isaacs, Taivon Jacobs, Silvano Altamirano AP

It’s not been a good past few days for Maryland’s pass-catching Jacobs brothers.

Friday, Levern Jacobs was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the school’s code of student conduct.  Two days later, head coach Randy Edsall announced that Taivon Jacobs (pictured, No. 12) has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.

Jacobs suffered the injury on the second drive of the Terps’ season-opening win against James Madison Saturday.

As a true freshman in 2013, Jacobs took a redshirt as a torn ACL suffered during his senior year in high school limited his availability.  Jacobs, who was one of three starting Terp receivers, didn’t record a catch prior to going down with the injury.

The loss of the Jacobs brothers continues an attrition trend at the position over the past year.  In 2013, both of Maryland’s top receivers, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, went down with season-ending injuries in the same mid-October game.  Shortly before the start of summer camp this year, Nigel King, the team’s third-leading receiver last year, left the football team and ultimately landed at Kansas earlier this month.

 

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Brother of Miss. St. WR Jameon Lewis shot, killed

Alabama v Mississippi State Getty Images

Sadly, real life has found a way to impact one of the top returning wide receivers in the SEC.

According to WJTV, Tyriunce Lewis, the brother of Mississippi State Bulldog Jameon Lewis, was shot and killed late Sunday morning at an apartment complex in Tylertown, Miss. The website wrote that “a disagreement between Tyriunce Lewis and Kendall Magee escalated into gunfire.”

Lewis was shot once in the head with a handgun, the sheriff told the television station.

Tyriunce Lewis was in attendance at the Bulldogs 49-0 season-opening win over Southern Miss Saturday, a fact the receiver relayed in an Instagram post Monday.

It’s crazy how life works at time… Just saw my lil brother last night, he came to my game to support me!!! Who knew that was gonna be my last time seeing my blood brother!!! Life is unpredictable #RipToot I love ya lil bra!!! I promise ya, your lil ones would be in good hands & have a bright future!!! #FlyHighBra #MuchLoveTubby

Jameon Lewis is the leading returning receiver in the SEC. He had three catches for 25 yards in the opener.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Biloxi Sun Herald)

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Louisville downs Miami, now owns ACC record for all-time winning percentage

Miami v Louisville Getty Images

Tomorrow morning, Miami will wake up in south Florida and begin preparation for an opponent other than Louisville. That’s a wonderful thing for Al Golden and his football program. In closing the 2013 season and opening this season with losses to these Cardinals (36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, 31-13 tonight), Miami watched its offense score two total touchdowns in 23 possessions. That may sound bad – okay, it is bad – but the ‘Canes have been better at scoring touchdowns than converting third downs. They went a combined 1-for-23 there.

True freshman Brad Kaaya earned the start, playing about as well as you could reasonably expect an 18-year-old making his first start in a conference road game could play, hitting 17-of-29 throws for 174 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Duke Johnson contributed a workmanlike 20 carries for 90 yards.

Missed opportunities will be the story for Miami after the Hurricanes twice inherited the ball inside Louisville’s 10 yard line and came away with a total of three points. But perhaps the biggest blown chance of the night came early in the fourth quarter, when Kaaya hit Johnson on a wheel route that would have given Miami a first-and-goal at the 5 and a chance to pull within one score, but offensive lineman Danny Isidora was hit with an ineligible receiver downfield penalty, negating the entire play. Two plays later Kaaya was sacked for a loss of 11 yards, and two plays after that Miami turned the ball over on downs.

Louisville then took over at its own 33, leisurely marched 67 yards in 14 plays, ate up an oh-so-valuable 7:47 off the clock, and pushed the score to 31-13.

Ball, meet game.

In the re-debut of Bobby Petrino at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, it was the Cardinal running game that powered his highly-respected offense. Dominique Brown rushed 33 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Will Gardner added 206 passing yards and two touchdowns (plus two lost fumbles) in his first start. The win moves Petrino to 42-9 at Louisville, and an impressive 23-1 at home.

Most importantly, the win moves Louisville to 1-0 all-time in ACC play, thereby placing the Cardinals atop the conference record books for all-time winning percentage.

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Standout Nebraska DE Randy Gregory doubtful for McNeese State game

Randy Gregory, Nathan Scheelhaase

An old basketball injury could cost Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory the first two games of his 2014 season – at least.

Gregory left the Cornhuskers’ 55-7 defeat of Florida Atlantic after the first defensive series, and is now doubtful for Saturday’s game with McNeese State. According to head coach Bo Pelini, a non-contact play aggravated an old injury that caused a clicking sensation inside Gregory’s knee.

Considering Nebraska was able to beat Florida Atlantic 55-7 without him, and with McNeese State and Fresno State (52-13 losers to USC on Saturday) on the docket before Miami visits Lincoln on Sept. 20, the Huskers can afford to be patient with Gregory. And that’s exactly how they plan to proceed.

“We’re not looking to rush him back right now,” Pelini told the Associated Press. “Make sure he’s 100 percent, feels good, and when that time frame is, we’ll see.”

Gregory earned preseason All-Big Ten honors after leading the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks as a sophomore. He earned consensus First Team All-Big Ten honors in 2013 after collecting 66 tackles and 19.5 tackles for loss in addition to registering a double-digit sack number.

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Louisville-Miami a beautiful mess through one half, Cards lead 14-10

Al Golden

Though it is the final game of extended Week 1 of the 2014 college football season, we must remember tonight is indeed still Week 1 for everyone. Because all three teams on the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium field tonight – Louisville, Miami and the officials – have been sloppy as all get out. Louisville leads Miami 14-10 at the break.

The most entertaining – and infuriating – sequence came at the top of the second quarter. ‘Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya hit Clive Waiford for a two-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, Will Gardner was sacked and fumbled on first down, handing the ‘Canes the ball again at the Louisville seven. One snap later, Kaaya snapped a pass to Stacy Coley, which he dropped. Keith Kelsey scooped the free pigskin and raced toward his own end zone, but the play was blown dead even though it was clearly a backward pass. To top it all off, Louisville had 13 players on the field at the snap.

Louisville started its first five possessions inside its own 20 thanks to some atrocious special teams play, and then took the lead with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Corvin LambBobby Petrino’s offense has been mostly inconsistent through the night with four drives of three plays or less, but opened the scoring with a 12-play, 93-yard drive capped by a two-yard touchdown toss from Gardner to Charles Standberry

Kaaya has been as good as you can reasonably expect for an 18-year-old true freshman making his first start in a road conference game. He’s hit 8-of-12 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions – though he did under-throw that lateral to Coley that ended a golden opportunity for the Hurricanes.

Miami gets the ball to open the second half.

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Time served: Suspensions for three Gators washed away with the rain

Darious Cummings

Florida’s season-opening game with Idaho wasn’t the only thing that washed away in downpour that pelted Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday that defensive tackle Darious Cummings, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick had satisfied their suspensions and would be eligible to play against Eastern Michigan this week despite the fact that they, you know, didn’t actually miss any time.

“They will be back this week with us,” Muschamp told ESPN.com. “Not just as far as the suspension of a game, but they’ve handled a lot of other things for me, as well as Demarcus Robinson, who had a university sanction that’s been resolved.”

Considering the suspensions weren’t even announced until Saturday afternoon, the Gators trio has to have set some sort of record for shortest time spent in the timeout corner.

Cummings and Bostwick were suspended for unspecified violations of team rules, while Robinson was cited for the equally vague “university sanctions”.

Cummings and Bostwick were listed as the top two nose tackles on Florida’s Week 1 depth chart. The former started six of the 11 games he appeared in a year ago, while Bostwick was set to appear in his first career game after redshirting his freshman season in 2013. Robinson played in seven games and nabbed five receptions for 23 yards as a true freshman a year ago.

No decision has been made as to whether or not to reschedule the Gators-Vandals tilt. Florida and Idaho share an off week on Oct. 25, but neither side seems interested in playing on that date. Probably has something to do with the fact that it’d be a one-sided, cross-country non-conference game during the middle of the season. Idaho head coach Paul Petrino broached the idea today of rescheduling for early December provided, obviously, that Florida does not reach the SEC title game.

If the game does indeed get rescheduled, we know where Florida’s Wrist Slap Three will be – on the field.

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Citing “stuff”, Urban Meyer suspends Ohio State TE for two games

MarcusBaugh

Ohio State tight end Marcus Baugh did not play in the Buckeyes’ 34-17 win over Navy, and he will not play against Virginia Tech this Saturday, either. In meeting with the media Monday, head coach Urban Meyer provided what has to be the least informative answer of all time in explaining the reason for Baugh’s two-game suspension.

“Stuff.”

That’s what the third-year Buckeyes coach told the assembled scribes, according to Cleveland.com.

Baugh was cited for underage consumption of alcohol back in mid-July, and then again in January. Ergo, two underage drinking citations equals two games lost to Baugh’s 2014 season. The good news here is that Baugh’s father, Frank, confirmed to the paper that no new issues have popped up in the past eight months. Baugh was simply being punished for his past misdeeds.

“(My past) definitely opened my eyes,” Baugh told Cleveland.com in April. “I am out of chances and I have to do this … I (feared I wouldn’t be on the team) after my second incident. I thought I was gone. But now I am learning the offense and trying to go hard.”

A four-star prospect out of John W. North High School in Riverside, Calif., Baugh caught 30 passes for 610 yards and three touchdowns during his senior season of 2012 before redshirting in 2013. He was rated the No. 6 tight end in the nation and the No. 18 overall player in the state of California.

(Photo Credit: Ohio State Athletics)
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With two cracked bones in his spine, Baylor QB Bryce Petty listed as day-to-day

Bryce Petty

The main story line to emerge from No. 10 Baylor’s 45-0 thumping of SMU on Sunday night was not the sharp teeth and elongated claws of the Bears’ defense, but the back of Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Bryce PettyPetty was lifted at halftime of a 31-0 game after grabbing his left hip and noticeably grimacing multiple times throughout the first half. The senior connected on 13-0f-23 throws for 161 yards and rushed twice for 21 yards and an additional score, but missed a handful of deep throws to open Bears receivers.

One day later, we officially know why.

After undergoing an MRI on Monday morning, Petty was diagnosed with two cracks in the transverse processes of his back, as first reported by Dennis Dodd CBSSports.com.

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

Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com also reported that Petty’s injury is one that heals on its own. If so, it just comes down to Petty finding a way to manage the pain.

Petty is listed as day-to-day and plans to play Saturday versus Northwestern State. Should it so choose, Baylor has both the time and the opportunity to rest its star gunslinger before the meat of the schedule arrives. The Bears visit Buffalo on Friday, Sept. 12 and then take a week off before opening Big 12 play at Iowa State on Sept. 27.

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Alabama starting DB Williams played on a broken foot

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Oklahoma v Alabama Getty Images

Alabama defensive back Jarrick Williams will be out of action for the next four games due to a broken foot.

Williams played the entire game Saturday in Atlanta against West Virginia. He reportedly felt he had a sore foot, but was able to keep playing for the Crimson Tide in the victory over West Virginia. He had three tackles in the game. It was not until getting x-rays done that the sore foot was sore for a reason. Nick Saban announced the injury news today.

Eddie Jackson was recently cleared by medical staff, so he could be moved into the starting job in the absence of Williams. Jackson was available to play Saturday if needed, but Saban was hoping to ease him back on to the field.

Alabama was already banged up after the West Virginia game. Wide receiver DeAndrew White suffered a separated shoulder in the game. Alabama prevailed after getting a challenge from West Virginia, and the depth on the roster is among the best in the country thanks to strong recruiting under Saban, but Alabama certainly hopes to get through week two of the season in better health than it will go into it.

Helmet sticker to AL.com.

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Iowa State’s best receiver is done for the year

Quenton Bundrage, Cassius Sendish

As if losing at home to North Dakota State was not enough of a rough way to start the 2014 season for Iowa state, Iowa State was dealt a bad hand again today. Head coach Paul Rhoades announced wide receiver Quenton Bundrage is out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.

Bundrage went down with an injury on just the fourth play of the game on Saturday. An MRI revealed a tear in his ACL. For many players the rehab work is not completed until a year later, although sometimes players come back earlier. Whatever the case, this is a big loss for Iowa State. Rhodes said freshman Allen Lazard and D’Vario Montgomery will likely see more playing time in the offense in Bundrage’s absence.

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

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