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The Fifth Quarter: Week 8 Rewind

Florida State v Clemson Getty Images

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

WINNERS

BChaoS
For those looking for a slate of games that would really shake the hell out of things, Week 8 would certainly be a good start.  No. 3 Clemson falls from the ranks of the unbeaten.  No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 8 Louisville and No. 9 UCLA stumbled mightily, the latter two suffering their first losses of the season.  And that’s without even mentioning the utter chaos from the preseason favorites in the SEC East.  When the polls are released later today, there should be an entirely new and utterly strange feel to the middle to the latter half of the Top 10.  Alabama and Oregon, of course, will remain 1-2.  Florida State will likely take over Clemson’s spot in the No. 3 hole, leapfrogging No. 4 Ohio State.  After that?  How about No. 10 Miami or No. 12 Baylor or No. 14 Missouri climbing into the Top Five?  Or Fresno State and Texas Tech moving into the Top 10?  Of course, all of this chaos occurs on the eve of the first release of the BCS standings… and with still seven weeks until the final rankings set the two teams that will play in the title game.  This is going to be one helluva ride over the next month and a half.  Color me giddy over the prospects.

No stage too big, no light too bright
If you saw Jameis Winston walking into the Tigers’ den known as Death Valley, you never would’ve guessed he’s in his first year as a starter and about to play in the biggest game of his life.  If you saw him in the pregame locker room video clip shown on the broadcast, you never would’ve guessed he had just five starts under his belt.  If you saw him on the field against the Tigers?  You knew you were looking at a redshirt freshman who was the most talented player on a field full of them and one who could very well be the Heisman front-runner when it’s all said and done.  The 444 yards and three touchdowns he put on Clemson in the 51-14 waxing only told part of the story; at no point during the game, even after his lone interception, did you get the sense Winston was not in complete and total control of both himself and his team.  The coolness he displays, the grip he has on whatever the situation may be, would be stunning for a 10-year NFL vet let alone a “kid” a year and a half removed from high school.  If there’s such a thing as “it,” Winston has it.

Manziel Malzahn’d
What a turnaround they have going on down on The Plains.  Exactly one year ago today, Auburn was sitting at 1-6 and was a week away from a 42-point woodshedding at the hands of Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel.  Fast forward 365 days, and the Tigers are sitting at 6-1… with a huge revenge win over Texas A&M stuffed firmly into its résumé.  The difference between last year and this one, and between Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn, is stunning in its starkness.  In 2012, AU was winless in SEC play; this year, the Tigers are alone at 3-1 and behind only in-state rival Alabama in the SEC West.  If you’re looking for one of the midseason front-runners for Coach of the Year, look no further than Malzahn.  Not only has he brought hope for a bright future to the Tigers, he’s brought results in the here and now.  Just absolutely brilliant, what Malzahn is doing with what’s essentially Chizik’s players.

Florida v MIssouriMizzou? Who knew?
As we’ve gotten just past the midway point of October, the SEC East’s representative in the conference championship game has been all but locked down.  And, no, it’s not Florida or Georgia or South Carolina; those three preseason favorites each have two league losses, with every member of that trio falling in Week 8.  Instead, it’s Missouri that stands alone atop the SEC East with a 3-0 record.  Not only that, but the Tigers own the head-to-head tiebreakers with both the Gators and Bulldogs should they trip coming down the stretch.  Mizzou’s win over UF Saturday was part of a three-game stretch that began with UGA and will be bookended with the Gamecocks this coming Saturday in Columbia.  Perhaps, though, I should hold off on crowning Mizzou; after USC, the Tigers still have to host games against Tennessee — which knocked off the Gamecocks — and Texas A&M, while also traveling to Ole Miss in between.  That said, who would’ve thought that, after eight weeks of the season, we’d be talking about Mizzou needing to simply not trip over itself over the last month and a half in order to secure an early-December date in Atlanta?  Not me, that’s for sure.

Rebound on The Farm
A week later, and with all due respect to the Utes, I still have nary an idea how Stanford fell to Utah.  The Cardinal didn’t have much time to shake off the inexplicable, however, as unbeaten UCLA came to town.  60 minutes later, the Cardinal had indeed shaken it off by pounding the previously unbeaten Bruins into submission.  In the 24-10 win, the Cardinal defense held the potent Bruins offense to a season-low 266 yards and just a lone fourth-quarter touchdown.  UCLA had averaged nearly 46 points per game entering the contest,  with their previous low-water mark being 34 in a win over Utah.  While the loss a week ago will (likely) continue to sting nationally, the road to the Pac-12 championship game is still crystal clear: win out, including the titanic Nov. 7 showdown with Oregon, the Cardinal would likely be headed to a conference title game appearance — and perhaps a rematch with the Bruins.

Jordamn Lynch
It was one for the record books for one of the most unheralded players in the country Saturday.  In Northern Illinois’ win Central Michigan, Jordan Lynch rushed for a staggering 316 yards.  While that number is impressive enough in and of itself, the fact that Lynch is a quarterback takes the total to a whole other level.  The 316 yards is an FBS record for a quarterback, breaking Stacey Robinson‘s 308 set way back in 1990.  Robinson, incidentally, played for NIU.

55-Gallon drums of yards
To borrow from myself from yesterday, normally, the words “Michigan” and “receiving records” aren’t seen in the same sentence, unless the words “not” and “setting” are included.  For at least one game, that all changed in a big way.  Wolverines wide receiver Jeremy Gallon absolutely lit up an admittedly bad Indiana defense, totaling 369 receiving yards in UM’s 63-47 win over the Hoosiers.  The yardage set not only a school record but a Big Ten mark as well, with the total serving as the second-most in FBS history behind Stanford’s Troy Edwards‘ 405 yards.  Perhaps the most staggering aspect of Gallon’s for-the-ages performance is that the senior came into the game with 462 yards — total — in six games this season.

Be like MikeAuburn v Texas A&M
While not exactly Gallon-esque, Mike Evans wasn’t too shabby himself.  In Texas A&M’s loss to Auburn, the unfairly talented wide receiver caught 11 Johnny Manziel passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns.  The four scores tied Ryan Swope‘s school record.  Interestingly, Evans now has 19 receptions for 566 yards and five touchdowns against teams from the state of Alabama this season.  Even more interestingly, both of those performances came in losing efforts, the other being against the Crimson Tide earlier this season.

One Hill of a game
After a rough start to the season, Taysom Hill began to turn things around a couple of weeks ago.  Saturday afternoon, he really turned it around.  Sort of.  In a wild 47-46 win over Houston, Hill passed for 417 yards and rushed for another 128, becoming the first player in FBS history to throw for 400-plus and rush for 100-plus in a single game.  While the three interceptions will likely be a topic of discussion during positional meetings this week, it appears the Cougars may have indeed found its quarterback of the future in the sophomore.

BCS 4 UCF
Somewhat lost amidst No. 8 Louisville’s first loss of the season, which effectively wiped out what little sliver of BCS title hope it held, is the fact that the team that knocked off the Cardinals is now sitting pretty when it comes to the BCS picture.  UCF had come into the UofL game with just one a loss, a three-point decision to No. 12 South Carolina late last month.  All of a sudden, though, the Golden Knights are in the driver’s seat for the AAC’s BCS berth.  With games left against one-loss Houston in two weeks and one against 4-2 Rutgers the week after, the road isn’t exactly a cakewalk.  However, the fact that UCF gets both those teams at home, and the fact that the Knights are a quality football team despite the lack of respect nationally, bodes well for the program’s shot at its first-ever BCS game appearance.

LOSERS

O-H!  UH-OH!!!
Ohio State may have extended its winning streak to 19 straight, but it suffered a pair of losses perception-wise on the day.  The Buckeyes were less than impressive in a win over Iowa that pushed their winning streak to 19 consecutive games.  It was hardly the kind of performance, however, that wins points with the voters.  Another damaging development for OSU?  Northwestern.  The Wildcats, viewed a couple of weeks ago as one of the few chances for a quality win for the Buckeyes, lost their third straight game Saturday, this time to Minnesota.  Again, that won’t help the perception of OSU’s schedule.  While it goes against what’s in their blood, Buckeye fans need to root like hell for Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan to win out,  Well, that and root like hell for the Buckeyes to stretch the winning streak to a school-record 24 straight.

Florida State v ClemsonBoy oh Boyd
I thought Florida State would win, but I never thought they would win.  And I certainly never imagined Tajh Boyd would lay the egg he did.  Granted, the Seminoles’ defense was as ferocious as advertised, but Boyd had arguably his worst game in his three years as a starter — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.  FSU rattled the veteran into a stat line that included 17-of-37 passing for a 156 yards and two costly interceptions.  The loss could very well cost Clemson a shot at a BCS title; the performance almost certainly has cost Boyd any shot he had at a Heisman.

Bad Zach’s briefly back?
Through the first seven games of the season, Zach Mettenberger was one of the most improved players in the country at any position.  In the eighth week, the LSU quarterback decided to party like it’s 2012.  Mettenberger entered the Ole Miss game having thrown two interceptions in 174 pass attempts; in the loss to the Rebels, Mettenberger tossed three in his first 11 attempts.  While the trio of picks led to just three points, the second one came in the red zone and cost the Tigers at least three points of their own that they really could’ve used in the end.  Mettenberger bounced back after that inauspicious start to throw for 274 yards and a touchdown.  Alas it wasn’t enough as the Tigers simply couldn’t overcome the 17-0 hole they dug themselves, suffering their second loss of the season in the 27-24, last-second defeat at the hands of the Rebels.

SEC East QB piñatas
The inexplicable wave of injuries that’s slammed into teams from the SEC’s East division has hit the quarterback position especially hard.  Florida lost Jeff Driskel to a season-ending injury earlier in the year, with Missouri’s James Franklin and Kentucky’s Jalen Whitlow sidelined for various lengths of time with injuries incurred last weekend. This weekend, another pair of East quarterbacks have joined the division’s M*A*S*H unit.  South Carolina’s Connor Shaw injured his knee in the loss to Tennessee and did not return, while Vanderbilt’s Austyn Carta-Samuels suffered a leg injury and also didn’t return.  My only suggestion to that division would be to shroud them in bubble wrap before you send your quarterbacks out there next time.  Or something as the spate of injuries at the position is unprecedented.  Well, actually, it’s not…

Snakebit Terps
Last year it was quarterbacks.  This year, it’s linebackers… and now wide receivers.  In the span of less than two quarters, Maryland lost its No. 1 and No. 2 receivers to what could very well be season-ending leg injuries.  Devon Long, the Terps’ leader in receptions coming into the Wake Forest loss, broke the tibula and fibula in his leg.  A short time later, Stephon Diggs, tops in receiving yards, broke the fibula in his right leg.  Both injuries will require surgery to repair, and no timetable has been given for a return, if at all, during the regular season.  It’s the latest blow to a Terps team that won their first four games, but have lost two of the last three by a combined 87 points.

Awash in misery
With four straight wins to start the season, Washington was one of a handful of first-month media darlings.  That early-season sheen has lost most if not all of its luster the past three weeks, however.  While the first two losses, to No. 2 Oregon and then-No. 5 Stanford, were defensible, the 53-24 loss to Arizona State Saturday wasn’t.  Simply put, the Huskies were beaten up and pushed around by the Sun Devils.  No stat exemplified the bullying more so than this: 25 UW rushes for minus-five yards.  Bishop Sankey, who came into the game leading the nation in rushing yards per game at 149.8, was held to just 22 yards on 13 carries by an ASU defense that was 75th against the run (168.8 ypg) coming in.  Following the loss, head coach Steve Sarkisian called the performance “embarrassing”; who am I to argue?

Bert DerpNick Saban, Bret Bielema
Upon his hiring at Arkansas, Bret Bielema was very frank about what his goal was in leaving the Big Ten for the SEC. “The reason the SEC is talked about all the time is one team, because of their dominance. But I didn’t come here to play Alabama. I came here to beat Alabama.” Yeah, about that.  Beating the two-time defending BCS champions wasn’t even remotely in the cards on this night, with the Tide cruising to a 52-0 win over the Razorbacks that wasn’t even as close as the final score might indicate.  The loss to the Tide is the Hogs’ fourth straight in SEC play, and comes one week after they were embarrassed 52-7 by South Carolina.  The road doesn’t get any easier as UA closes out the season against Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU.  Yeah, good luck with that.

Things still aMiss
At some point, you’d have to think that Southern Miss would trip over a win some way or another, right?  Maybe at some point that’ll be the case, but it wasn’t on this Saturday as the Golden Eagles bumbled and stumbled its way to a 55-14 beatdown at the hands of East Carolina.  The loss is USM’s 18th straight dating back to the 2012 opener.  They haven’t tasted victory since Dec. 24, 2011, the final game before Larry Fedora took himself — and, apparently, the ability to win — to North Carolina.  In a season full of low points, the 41-point blowout wasn’t even the lowest; a 43-point loss to Nebraska in Week 2 was trumped two weeks later by a 53-point pasting at the hands of Boise State.

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

— No. 4 Ohio State 34, Iowa 24: I already had my say on the Buckeyes above.  Button it up, Urb.  It may not be right, but style points matter if a spot in the BCS championship game is your team’s ultimate goal.

— No. 10 Miami 27, North Carolina 23: The Hurricanes nearly saw their unbeaten season ripped from them Thursday night, trailing the Tar Heels by 10 early in the fourth quarter.  Two Dallas Crawford touchdown runs in the final quarter, including one with just over a minute left, as well as a costly delay-of-game penalty pushed The U over UNC and nudged its record to a perfect 6-0.

Kliff Kingsbury— No. 16 Texas Tech 37, West Virginia 27: The Red Raiders entered the fourth quarter down 27-24 to an improving Mountaineers team before a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns allowed Tech to keep its record unblemished at 7-0.

— No. 18 Oklahoma 34, Kansas 19: Bob Stoops is now 15-0 all-time in the next game after the Red River Shootout, but it wasn’t as easy as most expected.  The Jayhawks jumped out to a 13-0 lead before the Sooners scored the next 25 points.  KU then got back to within six early in the fourth quarter before OU pulled away late.

No. 21 Oklahoma State 24, TCU 10: It may have taken a change at quarterback, but it was enough for the Cowboys to overcome an utterly inept Horned Frogs offense.

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 — Since beating Texas A&M 49-42 in Week 3, the Tide has outscored its opponents 201-16.  Chew on that bit of statistical dominance for a while. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Tennessee

2. Oregon — A close call for Oregon would be something akin to the Ducks leading Washington State just 34-24 at halftime… and then outscoring Wazzu 28-14 in the second half to win going away.  The Ducks have won five of their seven games by 38 or more points.  Their “closest” win was by 21 points over Washington last Saturday. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. No. 9 UCLA

Florida State v Clemson3. Florida State — When you put a 38-point beatdown on the team previously sitting in this spot, you probably deserve to climb higher.  For now, though, we’ll slot the Seminoles here and see how the remainder of the season plays out. (Last week: No. 5)
Up next: vs. North Carolina State

4. Ohio State — All the Buckeyes do is win, and sometimes in ugly duckling fashion.  Then again, though, so did OSU circa 2002.  Hmmm… (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Penn State

5. Missouri/Miami/Baylor — Yes, I’m copping out on this one.  You think I’m going to attempt to figure out, after all of the carnage this weekend and at two in the morning, which team deserves to move into the No. 5 hole?  OK, sit a hefty member of the female persuasion on my chest and I’d say the Tigers’ wins over Vanderbilt, Georgia and Florida trumps the Hurricanes’ wins over Florida and Georgia Tech.  Add in the fact that the Tigers have won every game by at least 15 points, and they probably deserve the slot.  The Bears can make their statement the first three games of November against Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: vs. South Carolina/vs. Wake Forest/at Kansas

HE SAID IT
“I promised myself I wouldn’t say anything horrendous about the officiating today so I’m not going to do that.” — Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who will likely get a call from the league office for his non-comments on the officiating during the loss to Vanderbilt.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We played without a lot of our guys, and everyone stepped up and raised their level. I like our team.” — an understated Gus Malzahn after Auburn’s biggest win since the BCS title game following the 2010 season.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“Obviously this is getting a little old.” — Bret Bielema, after Arkansas’ fifth straight loss.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Maybe the only guy on the team I’m taller than. I have to tell him about that every day. Hate to tell him that’s why he got recruited because I’ve got to be taller than somebody.” — Nick Saban talking about 5-9 running back Dee Hart.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
“I did a piss-poor job preparing this football team to play in this game.” — the Mad Hatter taking the loss to Ole Miss and placing it squarely on his shoulders.

PHOTO(SHOP) OF THE WEEK
There are simply no words to describe this photo that bounced across Twitter late this past week.  So, and as I duck in anticipation of the reaction, here goes nothing…

oBAMA

#oBAMA

Twitter is simply one of the greatest.  Inventions.  Ever.

SAY WHAT?
Saturday’s game against Missouri was the furthest north Florida has traveled for a game since a 1991 contest against Syracuse.  In a dome.  The last time they played outdoors at a more northerly locale than Columbia?  You have to go back to 1986, the year the Gators traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey, to take on Rutgers in a mid-October non-conference matchup.

TRUE STORY
Missouri is not just winning but they are winning handily: all seven of their victories this season have been by at least 15 points.  The Tigers’ “closest” calls?  A pair of 15-point wins over Toledo (38-23) and Georgia (41-26).  All told, the Tigers have exactly doubled their opponents in points this season: 310-155.

Sean MannionFOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— What Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are doing to defenses this season is borderline criminal.  The former passed for 493 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Cal, while the latter caught 13 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown.  Mannion has now passed for at least 367 yards in all seven games, and has thrown for at least 400 yards in five of them.  Coming into Week 8, Mannion was leading the nation in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns, while Cooks was doing the same in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns; here’s to guessing that won’t change much if at all when the statistics are updated later on today.

— With four teams (Clemson, Houston, Louisville, UCLA) suffering their first losses of the season Saturday (and Thursday), there are now 10 undefeated programs left at the FBS level.  The Big 12 (Baylor, Texas Tech), ACC (Florida State, Miami) and SEC (Alabama, Missouri) are the only conferences with more than one.  On the other end of the spectrum, Temple, over Army, was the only team to pick up its first win of the year in Week 8.  That leaves seven teams (Georgia State, Hawaii, Miami of Ohio, New Mexico State, Southern Miss, UConn, Western Michigan) winless through the first two months of the year.

Jeremy Gallon wasn’t the Michigan player setting records Saturday as Devin Gardner threw for a school-record 503 yards on just 21 completions and 29 attempts.  And Gardner absolutely obliterated the old standard of 389 yards set by John Navarre.  The best development for the Wolverines, though, was that the interception-prone Gardner didn’t throw a pick.

— Team-wise, Michigan set a school record with 751 yards of total offense, besting the old high of 727 yards set against Delaware State in 2009.

Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 89 pass attempts in Washington State’s loss to Oregon, breaking Drew Brees‘ record of 83.  His 58 completions tied an FBS record.  For good measure, he threw for 557 yards and four touchdowns… and lost by 24 points.

— Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has now thrown 265 consecutive passes without an interception, extending the Pac-12 record he set last week.

— In the loss to Auburn (still can’t believe I’m typing that), Johnny Manziel totaled 502 yards of offense (454 passing, 48 rushing) and accounted for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing).

— For the second game in a row, Alabama had a pair of 100-yard rushers: Derrick Henry with 111 yards and a touchdown, Kenyon Drake with 104 yards and two touchdowns.

Cody Hoffman— It was a heck of a day for BYU’s Cody Hoffman: the wide receiver broke the school record for career receptions he had shared with Dennis Pita (221, now 231); tied the school record for most career touchdown receptions (Austin Collie, 30); and moved to within 72 yards of breaking Collie’s record for most career receiving yards.

— Both Melvin Gordon and James White accounted for three touchdowns apiece as Wisconsin whipped Illinois 56-32.

— In his first career start, Maty Mauk threw for 295 yards and a touchdown in Missouri’s huge win over Florida.

— Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart caught 10 passes for 141 yards and returned two punts for another 124 in the Cowboys’ win over TCU.  Stewart took one of his returns back 95 yards for a touchdown.

— A one-yard touchdown run by Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde in the third quarter of Iowa’s loss was the first rushing touchdown the Hawkeyes had allowed all season (six-plus games).

— Baylor passed for 423 yards and ran for another 291 in a 71-7 win over Iowa State.  The game also marked the fifth time in six games the Bears have scored at least 69 points.

— BYU ran 115 plays in its 47-46 win over previously unbeaten Houston, tying the NCAA record set by Northwestern in 2010.

— Akron’s 24-17 win over Miami of Ohio snapped a streak of 28 losses to FBS teams, with the last win for the Zips against a program from that level coming in November of 2010 against Buffalo.

IN CLOSING…
The loss of any life is tragic, but the passing of someone with their whole lives ahead of them just adds to the gut-punch.  Sadly, the world of college football has seemingly dealt with more than its fair share of tragedies the past month and a half.  A Texas A&M defensive lineman burying his two-month daughter just days before the Alabama game.  The stunt pilot father of Tulane’s kicker killed in an airplane crash.  A UCLA wide receiver struck and killed by a vehicle, while a Cincinnati offensive lineman was killed and another Bearcat still hospitalized with injuries incurred in a one-vehicle accident just two weeks later.  Sadly, tragedy hit the college football world yet again, with Eastern Michigan wide receiver Demarius Reed shot dead in an apparent homicide Friday morning.  Way too many, and way, way, way too young.  Hug ’em if you’ve got ’em, every single chance you get.

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Boykin not sharp, but No. 2 TCU gets by Gophers

Trevone Boykin, Matt Leidner

All that matters is getting a win, and it rarely matters how you get it. No. 2 TCU (1-0) opened the season on the road Thursday night, but they did so with quarterback Trevone Boykin having some off moments that helped allow Minnesota (0-1) to hang around. Fortunately, TCU’s defense was up to the task, holding their Big Ten hosts to fewer than 300 yards of offense until late in the game in a 23-17 win.

It was not the cleanest effort from TCU, with a pair of turnovers, Boykin’s pass completion percentage leaving room for improvement, and eight penalties. One thing to take from this game is TCU head coach Gary Patterson now knows what he needs to work on. Still, TCU went on the road and shut down a team some feel is capable of making things interesting in the Big Ten West Division this season. The Gophers have plenty of time this season to help boost TCU’s body of work in the long run, and Jerry Kill has now seen how much work he still needs to do.

Boykin completed 26 of 42 pass attempts for 246 yards and a touchdown. He also added 86 rushing yards and a touchdown to help make his night look a little more productive. His lone touchdown pass came in the first quarter on an 11-yard pass to Josh Doctson, putting TCU up 10-0 after one quarter of play. Minnesota was left playing catch-up the rest fo the night and never cut the lead down to fewer than seven points. Boykin ran 19 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to put the Horned Frogs up 17-3.

Minnesota’s offensive leaders had little to show. Mitch Leidner completed 16 of 30 attempts for 158 yards. Rodney Smith led the ground game with 88 yards and a touchdown.

Next week Minnesota will head to Fort Collins, Colorado to take on Colorado State. The Rams are coming off one of the more successful seasons in program history but could have a much different look this season. Jim McElwain left the program to coach Florida, which opened a spot for former Georgia assistant Mike Bobo to take the helm. Colorado State lost a number of key players. Minnesota’s secondary should be tested by Rams receiver Rashard Higgins, who accumulated 1,750 yards and 17 touchdowns last fall. Colorado State opens the season at home against Savannah State, so they should be 1-0 when the Gophers come to town.

TCU will return home to open the home schedule next week against Stephen F. Austin. things should be pretty easy going for the Horned Frogs next week and thew week after at home against SMU. TCU opens Big 12 play later this month on the road against Texas Tech.

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Baylor suspends starters DE Oakman and DB Stewart

Kansas v Baylor Getty Images

On the eve of a season opener, the Big 12 champion Baylor Bears have one last piece of negative news to sort through. Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman and defensive back Orion Stewart have each been suspended for the season opener against SMU.

Both have been suspended for a violation of team rules, and each will be eligible to return to the team in Week 2. Oakman and Stewart are both starters for Baylor’s defense, but the Bears should manage to get by their first game of the year even without them.

Not that losing a guy who recorded 11 sacks last season is insignificant, but Baylor’s offense should put up big numbers against a team that has a total rebuild underway with a new head coach. SMU was blanked by Baylor last season, 45-0. Even with a new quarterback, Baylor’s offense should be tough for the Mustangs to slow down Friday night.

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Utah pours salt on Harbaugh’s Michigan debut, 24-17

Travis Wilson

The long-term future looks to be in good shape for as long as Jim Harbaugh sticks around Ann Arbor. The short-term future, on the other hand, suggests there could be some tough roads ahead. The Harbaugh era at Michigan got off to a losing start Thursday night in Salt Lake City. Utah’s (1-0) defense held firm in the fourth quarter with Justin Thomas picking off a pass from Michigan (0-1) quarterback Jake Rudock and returning it for a 55-yard touchdown and later stuffing the Wolverines on a fourth and short with 5:13 to play. For a second straight season, Utah flexed its muscle against Michigan, winning this year by a final score of 24-17.

Kyle Whittingham had his Utes ready to play typical Utah football, which is to say Utah played well on defense, forced some turnovers and managed to avoid having Travis Wilson implode. Utah’s quarterback was picked off once, but he completed 24 of his 33 pass attempts as Utah kept to mostly safe plays to wear down Michigan’s defense. That meant putting the ball on the ground with Devontae Booker leading the rushing attack and Wilson taking off as well. Each had a rushing touchdown in the victory.

While Michigan will fly home with a loss, there were some bright spots worth noting. Tight end Jake Butt proved to be a reliable target for Rudock as the two connected eight times for 93 yards and a touchdown. Amara Darboh also had a good game with seven catches for 91 yards. Jabrill Peppers had a good evening, making some key plays in the second half. He also had a kick return for 36 yards. And it was encouraging to see Rudock put together some plays late in the game to at least give Michigan a chance, if they had just recovered an onside kick.

This game alone should not go far in assessing the overall strength of the Pac-12 or the Big Ten against any other conference. Those arguments will continue to play out in games to come. However, the Big Ten could have benefitted from Michigan winning this one to carry over momentum gained from last year’s postseason. Now, the Pac-12 claims another notable victory to its profile. These types of wins can end up playing a deciding factor when it comes time to weighing playoff teams against one another, even if it does not involve Utah or Michigan. So point for the Pac-12 (and Pac-12 South), and no points for the Big Ten.

Michigan will welcome Harbaugh home in Ann arbor next weekend as the Wolverines once again play a Pac-12 opponent. This time it will be Oregon State, with former Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen making his way back to Big Ten territory almost as quickly as he left it. Michigan will have some time to work out some kinks, but BYU will offer another stiff defensive test at the end of the month before Harbaugh’s Wolverines jump into Big Ten play.

Utah will stay home next week to play Utah State. The Aggies were in a real tough battle with FCS Southern Utah, losing 9-5 at the conclusion of the Utah-Michigan game), with Chuckie Keeton having an ineffective night. Maybe Utah State wasn’t showing much to refrain from giving Utah much film? Or maybe this game will be a tad easier than initially expected for the Utes.

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Arizona’s Scooby Wright III leaves game with apparent knee injury

Scooby Wright III

Arizona has opened up a 21-10 lead on UTSA in the season opener in Tucson, and Anu Solomon is having a nice season debut with a pair of touchdown throws, but all eyes have shifted on one of Arizona’s top defensive players instead. Scooby Wright III, one fo the top defensive players in the nation, has left the game with an apparent left knee injury.

Early reports say Wright will be out for the remainder of the game, and given the photo share din the Twitter message below, it is easy to see why. Wright was on the bench with ice wrapped around his left knee, and he does not look too happy about it.

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Harbaugh Era at Michigan begins with Rudock at QB; Utah leads 10-3

Jim Harbaugh

The headline here should just about sum up the national reaction to this game. Michigan entered the game with all of the hype, much of it justified with Jim Harbaugh returning to his alma mater, and the continued question of which quarterback would get the start (Iowa transfer Jake Rudock got the call). Once you get past all of the Michigan fluff, you discover Utah had the upper hand. That’s how the first half played out at least.

Utah opened the game by marching down the field in 10 plays on Michigan’s defense, but the Utes could only settle for a field goal after pushing into the red zone. Andy Phillips booted a 30-yard field goal to give the Utes the first points of the night. Then stepped Rudock out on to the field to lead the Michigan offense for the first time. Despite what looked to be a promising drive, that ended after 10 plays when Rudock was picked off by Cory Butler-Byrd at the Utah 14-yard line. Michigan would later add a field goal after the teams exchanged a few punts, tying the game at 3-3 in the second quarter.

Utah regained the lead on the ensuing possession, working its way 75 yards for a Devontae Booker touchdown run from the one-yard line. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson mixed in some runs and passes on the drive to help keep things moving. Utah missed an opportunity to build the lead when a late first half field goal attempt by Phillips from 48 yards out was no good.

That’s where we stand now after one half of play. Neither team has thrived on third downs, and Michigan has been the team with the turnover issues (Rudock has been picked off twice). Utah’s defense has been difficult to find room to run on, with Michigan being held to an average of 1.9 yards per rushing attempt. Utah has done only marginally better, averaging 2.2 yards per rushing attempt.

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Gamecocks cash in on UNC’s red zone blunders for Belk Kickoff victory

Skai Moore

Few things seemed to be going well for South Carolina in the Belk Kickoff, but early in the fourth quarter Shon Carson ripped off a 48-yard run down the right sideline to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the young season, 17-13. The defense took care of things from there, with Skai Moore picking off a pass in the end zone as the Tar Heels went for a touchdown on fourth down. The interception essentially shut the door on the Tar Heels in Charlotte, as South Carolina’s offense was able to work the clock for the final three minutes and change.

UNC outgained South Carolina, 439-395, but it was the Gamecocks offense that ended up wearing down the Tar Heels. South Carolina held on to the football for roughly 35 minutes, which in part was because UNC attempted to go up-tempo at times. But it was the turnovers that did UNC in. North Carolina lost the football three times, and South Carolina never lost the football.

Faced with the chance to serve a knockout blow with the ball inside the red zone, South Carolina was stuffed short on third down. Rather than take what should have been an easy three points to build an seven-point lead, Spurrier opted to try to push forward for one yard to pick up a first down at the UNC 11-yard line.

Nope. UNC’s defense came up with the stop to give the Tar Heel offense a chance to seize the momentum. And seize it they did. Well, until they got inside the red zone that is. For the second time of the game, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams was picked off in the end zone. Both passes were read and picked off by Moore. Leaving points on the board was the big crutch for the Tar Heels in this game. Three times UNC was picked off in the red zone, and another red zone trip ended with just three points.

Neither team was particularly sharp, which is to be expected in the first game of the season. Neither was too disciplined either. UNC was called for six penalties, and South Carolina was flagged eight times.

North Carolina opens up its home schedule next weekend against North Carolina A&T, an FCS program. UNC actually plays two FCS opponents this season. Delaware visits Chapel Hill on September 26. Wake Forest was already booked.

South Carolina will jump right into SEC East play next week at home in Columbia. The Gamecocks welcome Kentucky to Williams-Brice Stadium on September 12. The Wildcats scored a 45-38 victory over Spurrier’s team last season in Lexington, so chalk this one up as a revenge game for the Gamecocks.

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UNC takes 13-10 lead into halftime of Belk Kickoff

Marquise Williams

North Carolina has had one red zone opportunity end with an interception, another with a sack leading to a longer field goal. Regardless of a couple of missed opportunities inside the South Carolina 20-yard line, the Tar Heels find themselves leading 13-10 after the second first half of FBS college football this season (UCF and FIU beat the Belk Kickoff to the punch; UCF leading FIU 14-3).

It looked as though North Carolina was going to have a big night if the first two offensive possessions of the ballgame were any indication. The Tar Heel defense, with Gene Chizik at the helm as defensive coordinator, forced a three-and-out on the Gamecocks’ opening possession and then the offense went to work by driving right inside the red zone. Looking for six, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams threw a poor pass over the middle that was picked off by Skai Moore in the end zone.

How did Williams respond? By completing his next pass attempt for a 40-yard gain following a South Carolina punt. The long pass to Bug Howard set the pace for an up-tempo drive, which continued with a 23-yard strike to Quinshad Davis and concluded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Howard, who broke away from a defender to make his way to the end zone. Howard’s touchdown was the first touchdown of the FBS season.

South Carolina had an answer though, driving 75 yards on seven plays to even the score at 7-7. Connor Mitch completed three of his four pass attempts and finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pharaoh Cooper. Cooper would later walk off the field to receive medical treatment for minor cramping. Mitch would also leave the game late in the first half for cramping issues. Perry Orth took over and moved the Gamecocks into range for a long field goal try at the end of the half, but the 50+ try fell shy of the bar.

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Mike Riley announces which five Huskers are suspended

Michael Rose-Ivey

It was not all that long ago Nebraska head coach Mike Riley confirmed a report stating five players will miss the season opener against BYU due to suspensions. He did not name the specific players at the time, but now he has.

Linebacker Michael Rose Ivey, defensive back Jonathan Rose, offensive lineman Robby Painter, tight end Cethan Carter and defensive end Joe Keels will all sit out of the season opener for violations of team rules. Rose Ivey was listed on Nebraska’s depth chart this week as a starter. That will obviously no longer be the case.

All five players will be suspended for the season opener but it appears all will be eligible to return in Week 2. Nebraska opens the 2015 season at home against BYU on Saturday afternoon. Nebraska’s home schedule continues in Week 2 against South Alabama.

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Report: Jim Harbaugh’s summer camp tour cost $211,948

Jim Harbaugh

The Jim Harbaugh effect has already shown its worth in ticket sales in Ann arbor as the season is about to get underway, but Harbaugh is also racking up quite a bill in Michigan’s athletics office as well. Harbaugh’s summer camp tour around the nation — you remember, the one coaches in the ACC and SEC disliked — cost Michigan $211,948. Worth every penny? Probably.

According to a report from MLive.com, the sum of the bill exceeded the total recruiting budgets of as many as 40 different FBS programs during the 2012-13 athletic year. The large bulk of the costs came from airfare, which racked up over $198,000 to fly Harbaugh and members of the staff around the country. Keep in mind these coaches are not simply getting tickets on the most convenient Southwest Airlines flight. They’re flying a plane owned by Michigan. That costs some big money. The coaches also spent over $4,000 on food and nearly $10,000 on lodging. Again, these guys are not staying in a Motel 6 or picking up something from the McDonald’s drive-thru. This stuff adds up quickly.

In the big picture, Michigan can afford to spend so much money on a summer camp tour, and it almost has to spend the extra bucks if the intent is to give Harbaugh and his staff every opportunity to regain a recruiting footing to catch up with programs like Ohio State. According to the latest team rankings from Rivals, Michigan has the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, with nine four-star players in the 23-members Class of 2016.

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Vandy adds in-state FCS opponent to 2016, 2018 schedule

A new season may be upon us, but scheduling news has no sign of stopping. Vanderbilt has added a pair of non-conference games against an in-state FCS program for 2016 and 2018.

Vanderbilt will host Tennessee State on October 22, 2016 and again on September 29, 2018. The additions of Tennessee State to the schedule brings Vanderbilt one game closer to completing the 2016 non-conference schedule.

The SEC will start requiring all conference members to have at least one game scheduled against another power conference opponent in 2016, and Vanderbilt has that covered with a game at Georgia Tech. Tennessee State joins Middle Tennessee on Vanderbilt’s non-conference schedule in 2018, leaving two spots to fill that season. One of those two vacant spots will have to be played against another power conference opponent.

The last time Vanderbilt faced Tennessee State was in 2006, with Vandy picking up a decisive 38-9 win.

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Report: Multiple Rutgers players arrested for assault

Deontay Greenberry, Nadir Barnwell

Well, I suppose now we know what all the commotion was about at Rutgers practice today.

Of the four Rutgers students and two former students charged today with assaulting a group of individuals, five are Rutgers football players and another is a former player. The assault left one student with a broken jaw and the attack was reportedly unprovoked. A total of nine defendants were arrested today, and one more is still to be arrested. Five players confirmed to have been charged are defensive backs Ruhann Peele, Nadir Barnwell, Dre Boggs and Delon Stephenson and fullback Razohnn Gross. Barnwell is the player linked to the separate ongoing university investigation of head coach Kyle Flood, who was allegedly contacting a professor about Barnwell’s eligibility status. Boggs and Stephenson were projected starters for Rutgers this weekend. All five of the current players have been suspended from the program while the legal process develops.

The former player arrested was Tejay Johnson, who was charged with robbery, criminal restraint, theft, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Johnson’s career was cut short due to injury in 2014 prior to Big Ten media days.

According to a report from NJ.com, the arrests come as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department. The investigation commenced in the spring following a reported home invasion in New Brunswick. Per the report, three men wearing masks forced their way into the home and left with an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana as five students were held at gunpoint.

At this point there has been no statement from Rutgers regarding this latest news, although this post will be updated as soon as there is a statement to share.

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Kyle Flood says he is coaching Rutgers on Saturday

Kyle Flood

It was a bit of a bizarre scene at Rutgers football practice Thursday morning. Police showed up, as did athletics director Julie Herman. Given the recent headlines involving head football coach Kyle Flood, you could be forgiven for expecting something bad to go down. That was not the case, however, as Flood announced to the media he was still planning on coaching the Scarlet Knights on Saturday against Norfolk State in the season opener.

“I will be coaching the game on Saturday,” Rutgers football coach said with conviction after Thursday’s practice. “It’s always great to have the support of your administration. I think when the players come out to practice and they see that your athletic director is here, I think that speaks to it.”

It is not every day the AD at Rutgers makes her way to football practice, and her reason for attending was unconfirmed publicly. Herman declined to field questions from the members of the media on hand for Rutgers practice.

Flood is being investigated by the university for alleged direct contact of a professor regarding the eligibility of one of his players. According to a report published on Wednesday, the Flood allegedly disobeyed a direct order from the academic support staff with regard to the eligibility. Flood expressed anger in that information being relayed to the media. If guilty of violating university protocol the punishment to Flood could range from as little as a reprimand to as extreme as the termination of his contract.

If nothing else, Flood feels confident he is not going anywhere and facing a similar fate as ex-Illinois head coach Tim Beckman.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): No sooner than hitting the publish button on this post, news breaks multiple Rutgers players have been arrested for an alleged assault. That would likely explain the police presence.

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Cardale Jones doing fine after release from hospital

Cardale Jones

Any time a player is rushed to a hospital it is cause for concern. Fortunately for Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, there is no need to be too worried about his health. After being rushed to a hospital late Wednesday night for treatment of severe headaches, Jones has been released and is back with the team.

“Cardale Jones was examined last night at the OSU Wexner Medical Center,” a statement from Ohio State’s athletics department said Thursday morning. “He was released from the center following the examination and he is doing fine today.”

Headaches are always a cause for some alarm, especially with the increased awareness of concussions and concussion symptoms in football. Head trauma treatment has improved in great strides over the years, but detecting possible concussions can still be tricky. From the information released so far though, a concussion does not appear to be a concern for Jones, who led the Buckeyes on an improbable postseason run last season to win the Big Ten and national championships.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has not confirmed publicly who his starting quarterback will be Monday night when the Buckeyes open the 2015 season on the road at Virginia Tech. Jones and J.T. Barrett are the last two options standing after Braxton Miller switched positions this offseason.

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CFT 2015 Preseason Preview Repository

books in library room AP

As you may have noticed, we’re getting very, very close to the start of yet another college football season, one that’s set to be one of the most wide-open and eventful as any in the last handful of decades. As you may have also noticed throughout the month, two of us — myself and Kevin — are the midst of offering up, and actually finishing up, myriad preview material for said college football season.

With the FBS season opener at hand just a few hours from now, and as a service to you, our dear and loyal readers, we’ve created this page for all of y’all’s convenience, with all of our previews linked out from this one handy, dandy spot.

Enjoy, come back often and, most importantly, click away like your life depended on it.  Or drink beer and watch actual football instead of just reading about it.  One of the two.

Aug. 17 — Six-Pack of Storylines
Aug. 18 — Top 25
Aug. 19 — Impact Freshmen
Aug. 20 — Key Transfers
Aug. 21 — Heisman Watch List
Aug. 24 — Coaching Hot Seat
Aug. 25 — 10-Pack of Top Games
Aug. 26 — Playoff Predictions
Aug. 26 — Playoff Darkhorses

CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

Aug. 27 — ACC
Aug. 28 — Big 12
Aug. 31 — Big Ten
Sept. 1 — Pac-12
Sept. 2 — SEC

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Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut is an awfully hot ticket

USC v Utah Getty Images

The eyes of college football will train toward Salt Lake City tonight, but if you want to get a last-minute ticket to Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut against Utah, you’ll have to pay up.

Granted, there are only 39 tickets left on StubHub.com as of this sentence being written, but the cheapest way to get into Rice-Eccles Stadium is to pay $245 for a standing room ticket. That makes it one of opening weekend’s priciest tickets, coming in at No. 2 in the week’s top five (with the cheapest ticket listed):

Notre Dame-Texas: $264
Utah-Michigan: $245
Virginia Tech-Ohio State: $170
Western Michigan-Michigan State: $125
Louisville-Auburn: $92 (Georgia Dome)

(Worth noting, if you buy a last-minute ticket to Notre Dame-Texas, good luck finding a reasonably-priced hotel in the South Bend/Michiana area).

The Utah-Michigan game is the only one on this list that doesn’t feature a ranked team. Everybody must be pretty psyched to see Harbaugh pair some khakis with a maize and blue shirt/sweater.

Looking for value? Head to Texas and get in the door for what could be a sparsely-attended neutral site game between Alabama and Wisconsin for $60 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That only about 40,000 tickets have been sold for that game makes it even more disappointing we’ll never get a shot of Nick Saban standing on the sidelines while Camp Randall jumps around.

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