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Connor Cook serves up pick-six, but leads Spartans to late TD in first half in Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl AP

As most expected, the Rose Bowl is quite the display of defense between Michigan State and Stanford. At the half of the 100th Rose Bowl Game, Stanford holds a 17-14 lead on the Spartans, thanks in part to an interception returned for a touchdown by Stanford linebacker Kevin Anderson.

Anderson took advantage of the biggest mistake fo the first half. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook backed up in the pocket with a Stanford defender right in his face late in the first half. Perhaps trying too hard to make something happened, Cook tried to dump the football off over the defender but instead it fell in the hands of Anderson, who ran unchallenged 40 yards for the defensive touchdown.

Stanford jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Michigan State in the first quarter. Tyler Gaffney capped the game’s opening drive with a 16-yard touchdown run after bouncing to the outside after colliding with a Spartan defender head on straight ahead. Jordan Williamson added a 34-yard field goal later in the quarter for a 10-0 lead. Michigan State allowed an average of just 7.2 points in the first half of 13 games this season, including the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State.

Michigan State got things together after digging the early 10-0 hole. Jeremy Langford put the finishing touches on a 13-play drive with a short touchdown run to get the Spartans on the board and the defense continued to bring pressure on Stanford and forced the Cardinal to punt away on back-to-back drives. Late in the half Cook tossed the pick-six, but he shrugged it off and led the Spartans right back down field for a late score. This time, Cook drove the Spartans right down field and he tossed a touchdown pass to Trevon Pendleton.

Michigan State held Stanford to 168 yards of offense while racking up 229 yards when on offense. The Spartans know they could have had the lead at the half, but should feel good about what they have done so far against Stanford.

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East Carolina plunders Virginia Tech transfer RB

East Carolina v Virginia Tech

East Carolina had quite a day picking from and poking at their ACC opponents this season. In the past two weeks the Pirates have defeated Virginia Tech and North Carolina, and seen a billboard bragging about in-state dominance. Now the Pirates welcome the addition fo a former Hokies running back.

Chris Mangus, who left the Hokies in early August, will join the Pirates. Head coach Ruffin McNeil announced the new addition to the roster on Tuesday night. Mangus has been enrolled in classes at East Carolina since the start of the fall semester and will have two years remaining of NCAA eligibility after sitting out the remainder of the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Mangus joined Virginia Tech in the Class of 2012 as a three-star prospect. In 2013 Mangus rushed for 141 yards.

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Saban on Kiffin: We’re in love, out of love, fell back in love

Florida Atlantc v Alabama

It seems as though Alabama head coach Nick Saban has had to defend the hiring of Lane Kiffin since day one. Even with a quick 3-0 start to the 2014 season, with quarterback Blake Sims grabbing a hold of the starting job, and wide receiver Amari Cooper among the best receivers in the nation, there is still work to be done on offense. Saban stops short of suggesting there is any frustration with the way Kiffin is working out.

Alabama has the nation’s fifth highest offensive yards per game. The Crimson Tide are 23rd in the nation in rushing offense, 12th in passing offense, and the nation’s second highest third-down conversion rate.

“It’s never been bad,” Saban said when asked about the chemistry with Kiffin and its impact on the offense, as transcribed by Coaching Search. “Who ever said it was bad? Why does it need to get better? I thought something had to be bad before you needed to get better. Has it gotten better? That assumes it was bad, it was worse at one time. We’re in love, we’re out of love, we fell back in love. I don’t get it. … We communicate well together.”

“If I did what you all thought when I hired the guy, he wouldn’t even be here,” Saban explained. “Maybe that was the assumption, because nobody thought it was a good hire, that all of a sudden, it’s something bad. I thought it was a good hire. Nobody else did.”

That’s not exactly true, Saban. Back in January I shared my take on the hire being a good move for Alabama, and an even better move for Kiffin. It seemed clear Kiffin got in over his head as a head coach of a program, from the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to the Tennessee Volunteers and, most recently, at USC. Getting back in his element as offensive coordinator and doing so at a loaded program controlled by Saban took away much of the pressure and grind Kiffin was unable to master as  ahead coach. It was a clear win-win.

Helmet sticker to Coaching Search for the transcribed quotes.

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Michigan WR Nofleet defends Hoke against heated criticisms

Dennis Norfleet

Sometimes we forget how criticisms of  football coach affect the players on the team. For a number of players who chose to commit to a school in large part to their relationship with the head coach, criticisms about the coach can be taken somewhat personally. Take Michigan wide receiver Dennis Norfleet, for example. On Tuesday Norfleet acknowledged the increasing criticisms of his head coach, Brady Hoke. Norfleet’s response to that talk is a reminder there is much more to coaching than winning football games(or so they say).


“I took it to heart this morning, they were really talking down on coach Hoke, saying his time is coming,” Norfleet said. “Coach Hoke does a lot. For me and the team. There have been times when I needed to see my family at a critical time, or I needed to see my daughter and he was there by my side throughout the way. It’s more than (just) football. In life, he’s a good coach. And right now, the way people are talking about him I don’t feel — and the team doesn’t feel — that it’s right.

Norfleet then took aim at fans, specifically, that seem to have turned on Hoke. That image was painfully put on display Saturday when after a lengthy weather delay the vast majority of Michigan Stadium was left unfilled once the game resumed. There were more Utah fans remaining in Michigan Stadium than Michigan fans, it is estimated. Utah was leading comfortably at the time of the break in the fourth quarter, but the image was lasting regardless.

“If we lose, if you’re a Michigan fan you’re supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up,” Norfleet said. “We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot.”

This is not meant to be a pity party for Hoke. Hoke has many responsibilities in his role as head coach. Norfleet suggests Hoke does many things admirably, and that very well could be the case. Unfortunately, the bottom line is Michigan has failed to meet expectations on the field at a time when the Big Ten has more or less been there for the taking. Michigan has not played in a Big Ten championship game in the first three years it has bene in place and the win total has dipped each season since Hoke’s debut in Ann Arbor.

There is still time for Hoke to turn things around at Michigan. With Big Ten conference play opening up, it is as close to a clean slate as any coach or team can get in a regular season. What Hoke does with his clean slate could determine his fate at the end of the season.

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ECU fans add billboard victory over UNC too

Shane Carden

East Carolina may have just scored again on North Carolina. Just days after East Carolina blasted North Carolina by dropping 70 points on the Tar Heels, somebody took on the responsibility to put up a billboard sponsoring East Carolina football.

The billboard, as seen in the image below, shows the final score from the game (70-41) with a Twitter hashtag poking fun at any UNC fan who felt East Carolina was beneath them, as suggested by a UNC football player last week. The billboard is capped off with some written pirate speak declaring East Carolina owns the state of North Carolina. Keep in mind Duke has been enjoying a hot start after winning the ACC Coastal Division last season and NC State has yet to lose a game (the Wolfpack host Florida State this weekend).

It has reportedly been seen in Winterville, North Carolina, which is just about five or six miles from East Carolina’s campus in Greenville.

The 70 points allowed by North Carolina was a school record for most points allowed in program history. The win for ECU also sets the Pirates up well for a potential New Years Day bowl spot. The highest ranked conference champion from the Group of Five conferences will be guaranteed a seat at the big bow table. With wins against Virginia Tech and North Carolina, East Carolina appears to be in front of the Group of Five pack early on.

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CMU running back reaches plea and rejoins team


A week after being arrested on three felony charges, Central Michigan running back Thomas Rawls is back with the team. Rawls reached a plea deal.

Rawls was originally charged with one count of larceny and two counts for stealing credit cards. The charges came form an incident involving a stolen purse. As it turned out, Rawls agreed to enter a guilty plea to one count of attempted larceny in a building, which is a misdemeanor. A judge also allowed Rawls to travel with the Chippewa football program as long as he testifies against any other co-defendants in the case.

According to The Morning News, he did not take anything from the purse he did admit to stealing the purse. Although he has been reinstated by the team, it is unknown if he will be made available to play this weekend when Central Michigan takes on Toledo on the road.

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FSU loses starting defensive tackle Lawrence-Stample for year

Brandon Ross, Niles Lawrence-Stample

Florida State lost a key piece to the defensive line on Tuesday. Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed the los of defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample for the remainder of the 2014 season. Lawrence-Stample was the victim of a torn pectoral muscle in Saturday’s overtime victory a home against Clemson.

The 6′ 1″, 314-pound junior reportedly played through the injury after initially suffering it in the ACC Atlantic Division contest, but the severity of the injury was only just discovered. Through three games, Lawrence-Stample led all Florida State interior defensive linemen with nine tackles.

As noted by Warchant, the Rivals affiliate covering Florida State, Fisher expects to be able to give some playing time to senior Desmond Hollin or freshmen Demarcus Christmas and Derrick Nnadi.

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NIU loses WR for the season

Tommylee Lewis

Northern Illinois wide receiver Tommylee Lewis will be out for the remainder of the 2014 season due to a lower-body injury suffered in the game. Head coach Rod Carey confirmed the injury report via a statement issued by Northern Illinois athletics Tuesday evening.

Lewis played wide receiver for the Huskies but also played a role on special teams. His versatility was recognized by the Paul Hornung Award committee after playing in the first two weeks of the season before being sidelined. Northern Illinois says the school will apply for a medical redshirt for the senior through the MAC, supposing that is what Lewis will wish to do. Lewis has never redshirted but because he has already played this season he would lose the normal redshirt option.

Lewis has accounted for 3,617 all-purpose yards for Northern Illinois in 39 career games.

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Three top receivers not named Amari Cooper

Alvin Hill, Kevin White

By now everybody seems to know all about Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Crimson Tide receiver has been one of the best in the country and has some thinking he should be in the early Heisman Trophy conversation. But what about some other receivers that have a vital role to their team’s offense that you may have been missing this season?

West Virginia receiver Kevin White has gotten off on the right foot as West Virginia’s offense appears to be ticking for the first time since guys like Geno Smith and Tavon Austin were in Morgantown. White is second in the nation (behind Cooper) in receiving yards per game (158.3 ypg) and receiving yards (633 receiving yards) through the first four games of the season. Staying in the Big 12, Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett may not be piling up huge numbers, piling role in Bill Snyder‘s offense is still important. He still brings big-play ability at times and he fits the mold for Kansas State just fine.

White and Lockett are two wide receivers Josh Norris of Rotoworld is keeping his eyes on this season as potential draft picks that could be considered a bargain. Who else does he like? Watch this video to find out. potential draft picks that could be considered a bargain. Who else does he like? Watch this video to find out.

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Suspended Notre Dame players to have hearings soon

DaVaris Daniels, Taylor Richards

Five Notre Dame football players who have served suspensions for their ties to an ongoing investigation into academic conduct will soon have their hearings. Head coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday the hearings for wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive backs KeiVarae Russell and Eilar Hardy, defensive end Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore will be held by the end of next week.

Daniels, Moore, Russell and Williams were initially suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the university on August 15. Hardy was added to the suspension list for the season opener later in the month. A committee will now be formed by Notre Dame to determine if any of the players in question were guilty of violating the school’s academic misconduct policy. Because the hearings will not be held until next week, all players will be expected to miss this week’s game against Syracuse in MetLife Stadium, their fourth of the season.

“It’s a very complicated situation, obviously,” Kelly said, according to a report from “There are a lot of pieces here. There are NCAA implications, certainly. We’re probably going down a path that [we've] never gone before, so there are things there.”

Kelly has suggested he is in touch with Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick to make sure everyone is on the same page with regards to the situation, and the process is moving as swiftly and thoroughly as possible. It may hurt Notre Dame’s depth in the short run, but getting to the bottom of the situation is more important.

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Former Michigan QB sounds off on state of program

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Michigan v Virginia Tech

Former Michigan quarterback Michael Taylor was among the last four-year players to play solely for Bo Schembechler in Ann Arbor, so his old school roots with the program are worth mentioning when discussing the state of the Wolverines. In a radio interview on Wednesday, Taylor pulled back no punches when asked for his opinions on today’s Michigan football program and its leadership.

“Michigan football is not going in the right direction,” Taylor said on the “Ryan and Rico” show on WMGC-FM (105.1), according to USA Today. “The leadership is bad, there are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It’s just sad.”according to USA Today. “The leadership is bad, there are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It’s just sad.”

He was just getting started. Taylor had some thoughts about Michigan hiring Brady Hoke as head coach, and they were not favorable.

“We didn’t get the coach who should have been our coach here (referring to San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) because we insulted him in the first place,” Taylor explained. “So then look who we get. It’s nothing personal; Brady’s a nice guy, I’m sure all you guys agree. I’ll agree to that. Really nice guy, very personable guy. However, his pedigree did not deserve to be a $4-million coach here at Michigan.”

Hoke’s performance since arriving at Michigan has been coming under fire as the Wolverines struggle to beat other power conference opponents and fail to be a viable threat in a Big Ten conference that has been down compared to other conferences. To make things worse, Michigan State now has the upper hand in the state of Michigan when it comes to on-field performance.

“What we’ve become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we’re mediocre,” Taylor explained. “When, in your last 12 games, you’ve only got victories over Northwestern, [Appalachian] State, Indiana and Miami of Ohio, that is not good. That is not good. We’re mediocre right now. Will it stay that way? I don’t know. I don’t work there. I don’t have the say-so. But I do know this: I know a few hundred players who are not happy with what is going on and definitely think changes need to be made.”

Taylor may be right. Michigan does need to make some changes, and fast.

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Charlie Weis challenges Kansas fans to show up for Texas game

Charlie Weis

It is not very often Kansas has a better record than Texas when they play in football, but that is the case this weekend in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks are 2-1 following a win at home against Central Michigan this past weekend. Texas is coming off two straight losses to BYU and UCLA as the Longhorns enter Big 12 play for the first time with Charlie Strong at the helm. Kansas head coach Charlie Weis hopes that encourages fans to come out and support the Jayhawks Saturday afternoon, and he is challenging fans to show up Saturday afternoon for the nationally televised game.

As noted by The Dallas Morning News, Kansas had the worst attendance in the Big 12 in 2013 with an average of just 37,884 fans per game. Memorial Stadium in Kansas has a listed seating capacity of just over 50,000 fans. When Texas visited Kansas in late October 2012 a total of just over 40,000 fans were reported to attend the game. The 2011 season finale between Kansas and Missouri welcomed slightly over 47,000 fans for the final game in the series before Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC. The 2008 game against the Longhorns welcomed 51,930 fans to Memorial Stadium, most of them being Texas fans cheering on the then fourth-ranked team in the country.

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Swinney says Clemson center threatened on social media for bad snap vs. FSU

Discover Orange Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State

Clemson’s chances to knock off Florida State in Tallahassee Saturday night could come down to any number of miscues or missed opportunities for the Tigers. One of those such instances occurred when center Ryan Norton sailed a snap over the head of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, resulting in a loss of 23 yards after being just half a yard from the end zone. Because of that play, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says Norton has received threats over social media

“Coach [Chad Morris] told me [about the threats] last night,” Swinney told reporters, according to an ESPN report. “That’s disappointing. I think he deleted his account. It’s a shame that young people have to deal with that kind of stuff. Nobody wants to make a bad snap.”

As is typically the case for any athlete on Twitter or Facebook, they will quickly become the target of misguided fans venting their frustrations over a bad play or game. Sadly, this happens all too often with college players. In Norton’s case, Clemson ended up missing out on some likely points in regulation, which may have been needed to avoid losing in overtime to the top-ranked team in the country. Kicker Ammon Lakip missed a 40-yard field goal on the imploded drive. Clemson had a number of other opportunities to pick up a win on the road though, so singling out Norton’s bad snap is not fair at all.

“I think most of it was people mad and venting, but it was threatening to Ryan is what I was told,” Swinney said. “Those aren’t fans — those are people with issues.”

There is a fine line between allowing college football to be a part of your life and running your life. If you fall on the side where you feel better about yourself sending threats and derogatory remarks to a college student following a bad game, perhaps you should spend some time re-evaluating your priorities in general.

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Holgorsen says CB Travis Bell has ‘retired’

West Virginia v Maryland

The up-and-down career of Travis Bell in Morgantown has apparently come to an end.

After taking the week off and not dressing for the Oklahoma loss this past Saturday, Bell has “retired,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday.  Whether Holgorsen meant that the defensive back retired from the Mountaineers or the game of football entirely is not clear.

We wish him well,” the coach said.

In a span of 10 months last year, the cornerback was arrested and charged twice.  In mid-February, Bell was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery following an incident involving his girlfriend.  10 months later, in early December, Bell was charged with driving under the influence.

Because of the second arrest, Bell was suspended for all of spring practice earlier this year.  He was reinstated in time for summer camp and played in the first three games of the year, albeit sparingly.

In 2013, Bell started nine of the 12 games in which he played.

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Indiana loses two key defensive reserves to season-ending injuries

Indiana v Ohio State Getty Images

Indiana’s upset win over Missouri came at a big cost personnel-wise.

During a press conference Monday, head coach Kevin Wilson confirmed that cornerback Kenny Mullen and linebacker Marcus Oliver will not play again during the 2014 season due to injuries incurred in the Mizzou win. Both players suffered unspecified knee injuries that will sideline them for the last nine regular season games and a bowl game if IU qualifies.

Both players should qualify for a medical hardship waiver and another season of eligibility, which is especially important for the senior Mullen.

“Unfortunately, they’re two of our better backups and special team guys,” Wilson said. “It’s unfortunate for Kenny and Marcus. They’re two great kids and great players, but we gotta move on. We need those guys to continue to be great leaders for us and bring energy because they’re veterans.”

Mullen was the Hoosiers’ top backup cornerback, and had played in 38 games the past three-plus years. He started five of those contests.

Oliver was a backup linebacker who saw extensive action the first three games this season

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SEC suspends Miss. St. player for stomping LSU players

Mississippi State v Arkansas

During Saturday’s Mississippi State-LSU game, television replays seemed to indicate that Bulldogs offensive lineman Dillon Day, on two separate occasions, had stomped on a pair of Tiger football players.

Three days later, the lineman’s conference agreed.

In a statement, the SEC announced that Day has been slapped with a one-game suspension for what it described as “multiple flagrant and unsportsmanlike acts” during the win in Death Valley. Because MSU is on a bye this weekend, Day will be sidelined for the Oct. 4 game against Texas A&M.

Here’s the SEC’s statement, in its entirety.

Upon review of game video from the contest between LSU and Mississippi State on Sept. 20 in Baton Rouge, La., SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has announced that Mississippi State senior center Dillon Day is suspended for the Bulldog’s next game, which is scheduled for Oct. 4 in Starkville.

This action is the result of multiple flagrant and unsportsmanlike acts during the game, as well as previous disciplinary action for similar behavior.

This action is taken in accordance with Southeastern Conference Constitution, Article 4.4.2 (d) which states that a student-athlete may be suspended if it is determined that the student-athlete has committed a flagrant or unsportsmanlike act.

In a letter posted on social media Monday, Day vehemently denied that he had intentionally stomped on any LSU player.  Below is Day’s tweet, which contains a photo of the letter:

Day’s protests notwithstanding, the video clips of the two incidents appear to indicate that the stomps were very much intentional and could’ve easily been avoided.  Suffice to say, the SEC agrees with that stance.

Also, as noted by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger earlier this week, Day was suspended for a half game last season for stomping on an Auburn player.

The clip below shows the two most recent incidents, and puts into doubt Day’s recollection of the events that ultimately led to his latest suspension.


Day will be eligible to return to the starting lineup for the Oct. 11 game against Auburn.

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