Posted by John Taylor on September 15, 2014, 9:09 AM EDT
UMass’ tough loss to Vanderbilt Saturday is looking even tougher in the rear-view mirror.
In the first quarter of what would turn into a 34-31 loss, running back went Jamal Wilson down with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Wilson was taken off the field on a cart for X-rays, and didn’t return.
Whipple didn’t specify the specific nature of the injury, but it’s believed Wilson broke his ankle.
Through a little over two games, Wilson leads the Minutemen with 88 yards rushing. With Wilson out and true freshman J.T. Blyden not healthy enough to return to the playing field, UMass will likely turn to Lorenzo Woodley as the bell cow in the running game.
Posted by Zach Barnett on September 14, 2014, 11:34 PM EDT
We’re still more than 10 days shy of the Pac-12 South Division showdown featuring No. 12 UCLA and No. 15 Arizona State, but the outlook already looks dismal for Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly.
Kelly left Arizona State’s 38-24 win over Colorado on Saturday during during the third quarter after injuring his right foot while moving outside the pocket. He returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter using crutches and in the company of Anikar Chhabra, the team’s orthopedic surgeon, according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.
Head coach Todd Graham has stated he will not discuss the health of Kelly or linebacker Viliami “Laiu” Moeakiola, who left the game with right arm injury, just that the pair “will be absolutely fine.”
That may be true, eventually, but initial word does not look good regarding Kelly’s availability for the UCLA game. According to Joe Schad of ESPN.com, Arizona State will be without its quarterback of 30 starts and 63 touchdown passes. Kelly had thrown for 195 yards and three touchdowns while adding 70 rushing yards and an additional touchdown before exiting the game.
Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly (foot) is not expected to play against UCLA on Sept. 25 due to a foot injury, per source.
Schad went on to say that “best case” involves Kelly returning for No. 17 USC on Oct. 4.
Arizona State is entering an absolutely crucial stretch where it faces UCLA, USC and No. 16 Stanford in consecutive games. For better or for worse, the Sun Devils’ season will be set on course following this stretch of upcoming games. The good news? Arizona State (somehow) only plays three games between now and Oct. 18, with two byes in the next four weeks.
There’s no denying, though, that the Sun Devils are a different bunch with Kelly on the sideline. Junior backup Mike Bercovicicompleted 2-of-4 passes for eight yards in limited action on Saturday night in relief of Kelly. A native of Calabasas, Calif., Bercovici has thrown 24 career passes, completing 14 for 112 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He has a career high of 65 passing yards.
No offense to Bercovici, but Arizona State needs Kelly in the lineup if it wants to defend its Pac-12 South championship.
Posted by Zach Barnett on September 14, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Thursday night offers a delicious appetizer to college football’s weekend menu: No. 5 Auburn at No. 20 Kansas State. It’s a game that provides an interesting and unique challenge for the defending SEC champions, and an opportunity for Kansas State to leap from the fringes to the thick of the College Football Playoff race.
There’s a chance Auburn will be without one of the parts that makes its engine run: big-play wideout Sammie Coates. Coates missed the Tigers’ 59-13 win over San Jose State on Sept. 6.
“Sammie is progressing very well,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We’re still very optimistic he’ll be ready to roll.”
Head coach Gus Malzahn said last week they expect Coates to be ready to play on Thursday.
Coates has one reception for 13 yards in one game this season, but ranked third nationally in yards per reception a year ago after hauling in 42 grabs for 902 yards (21.5 yards per reception) and seven touchdown in Auburn’s run to the BCS title game. He came up big in the Tigers’ biggest games last season, catching four balls for 139 yards against LSU, nabbing five receptions for 104 yards and a score in an important win over Texas A&M, hauling in the game-tying 39-yard touchdown reception against Alabama (better known as the score that set up the score), and caught six passes for 94 yards and a score in the SEC championship defeat of Missouri.
Auburn and Kansas State will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN.
Rather than facing a fourth-and-12 with the game on the line, Florida ran the play, and Jeff Driskelhit Demarcus Robinsonfor a game-extending touchdown. The Gators would go on to win the contest 36-30 in triple overtime.
The SEC reviewed the play and, in a statement released on Sunday, found nothing wrong with back judge Scott Vaughan’s decision making:
“At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called,” the league said.
When reading an explanation like that, the protocol makes sense. Football is not basketball, where buzzers and red lights can notify officials and everyone inside an arena when the clock has expired. Without the ability to watch the play clock and the ball simultaneously, giving the center those fractions of a second it takes the back judge to alter his gaze from the play clock to the ball to snap the ball makes sense.
If I’m Mark Stoops today, my real frustration is the policy that a potential play clock violation is somehow not reviewable. If millions of dopes on Twitter can see a play did not get off in time, a replay official can as well.
Posted by Zach Barnett on September 14, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
Nicholls State, located in Thibodaux, La., and a member of the FCS’s Southland Conference, is off to an 0-3 start this season, but that’s not the reason the school says head coach Charlie Stubbs resigned on Sunday. Citing unspecified “major health reasons”, Nicholls State president Bruce Murphy has accepted Stubbs’ resignation.
“For more than four years I have given my best effort to create the climate of change needed to support a winning football program here at Nicholls,” Stubbs said in a statement. “During the past year I have been diagnosed with major health issues, and I know that now is the time to step aside and focus my efforts on my health.”
The school had planned to wait until Monday to make the announcement, but word leaked out early through Mike Detillier of WWL in New Orleans.
Sadly, Stubbs waited 54 years to get his first head job and was forced to walk away after only four years at age 58. The longtime assistant was 10-38 as the head coach of the Colonels. The high point of Stubbs’ tenure had to be the 27-23 win over Western Michigan on Sept. 7, 2013, the school’s third win over an FBS opponent.
Posted by Zach Barnett on September 14, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT
A smash-mouth defense, a physical, downhill running game and… professional quarterbacks who come through in the clutch? For one Sunday, that third point is a hallmark of Michigan State football as three former Spartans quarterbacked their professional clubs to victory.
Let’s start with the day’s most unlikely hero, Drew Stanton. Michigan State’s signal caller from 2003-06, Stanton hadn’t recorded a statistic since 2010 until earning a pinch-hit start for the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at the New York Giants. Shaking off the rust quickly and smoothly, Stanton’s first drive in a full World Cup cycle traveled 80 yards in seven plays and put his Cardinals up 7-0. After falling behind 14-10 through three quarters, engineered another lengthy march (13 plays, 74 yards) to pull Arizona to within 14-13. For the day, Stanton completed 14-of-29 passes for 167 yards in a 29-14 win.
Finally, the afternoon concluded with a winning effort by the quarterback sandwiched between Stanton and Cousins on the Spartans’ timeline, Brian Hoyer. The quarterback who refuses to cede his job to Johnny Manzielcompleted 24-of-40 throws for 204 yards and a touchdown. Hoyer was great when he had to be, finding Miles Austin for a three-yard touchdown to give his Cleveland Browns a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and then closed the game by guiding the Browns from their own four yard-line to the visiting New Orleans Saints’ 14 in 3:31 (Hoyer hit 8-of-11 passes for 78 yards on the march), setting up a Billy Cundiff 29-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to give Cleveland a 26-24 win. It was Cleveland’s second win in a home-opener since the franchise’s 1999 rebirth.
When informed of his former pupils’ 3-0 afternoon, rumor has it Mark Dantonio allowed observers a faint glimpse of something resembling a human smile before returning to preparation for Saturday’s tilt with Eastern Michigan.
Posted by Kevin McGuire on September 14, 2014, 4:31 PM EDT
Notre Dame got a little more of a fight from Purdue than most had expected early on in Indianapolis on Saturday, and the game also cost the Irish a safety for the rest of the 2014 season. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced today junior safety Nicky Baratti will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury suffered during the win over the Boilermakers.
Baratti’s injury was suffered after entering the game to replace Max Redfield. Redfield had been ejected for targeting. After just one play, Baratti was injured. Of course, a shoulder injury is nothing new for Baratti. Baratti also missed the 2013 season due to a shoulder injury and he suffered a dislocated shoulder in Notre Dame’s spring game.
Notre Dame’s depth in the secondary continues to be a concern for the Irish. Austin Collinsworth was lost with an MCL sprain and Eilar Hardy is currently suspended from team activities while an investigation into academic irregularities continues in South Bend. Notre Dame has a bye week to figure some things out and will hope to have some problems solved by the time their next game against Syracuse in MetLife Stadium comes around in two weeks.
Helmet sticker to College Football Talk contributor JJ Stankevitz via CSN Chicago.
Posted by Kevin McGuire on September 14, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT
For the second week in a row BYU found its football program ranked in the AP Top 25 and the Cougars finally cracked the coaches poll this week. BYU has reached a quick 3-0 record with relative ease thanks to the play of quarterback ranked in the AP Top 25 and the Cougars finally cracked the coaches poll this week. BYU has reached a quick 3-0 record with relative ease thanks to the play of quarterback Taysom Hill and one of the hardest hitting defenses in the country. There is still plenty of football to be played, but BYU is starting to already show signs of a team capable of stringing together a 10 or 11-win season. But what would happen if the Cougars went 12-0?
BYU going undefeated is certainly a realistic possibility, but will not come easy. BYU will host a Virginia team that has already shut down UCLA’s and Louisville’s offenses this season, but the Cavaliers may come up short on offense on the road against the Cougars this weekend. After Virginia, Chuckie Keeton and Utah State visit Provo. Keeton may not be quite 100 percent but BYU holds the edge over he and the Aggies anyway the last few years.
BYU’s biggest road games the rest of the season will be played at UCF (Thursday, October 9) and at Boise State (Friday, October 24). The regular season concludes on the road at California. To most, the strength of schedule for BYU lacks much to stack up compared to teams from other conferences, so it may take some convincing even to get a 12-0 BYU team into the College Football Playoff. BYU’s case would be given some legs to stand on if an unblemished record included wins over a Mountain West Conference champion (Boise State, Utah State or Nevada) and an American Athletic Conference champion (UCF), but even that might not prove to be enough to make a push into the playoff. Not in the eyes of the selection committee, that is.
When BYU left the Mountain West Conference to pursue football independence, it did so knowing it faced a challenge to crack the grand stages of the postseason format in the BCS era. The formula has not changed under the new playoff era, but the Cougars have another obstacle to even get to one of the big revenue bowl games at the end of the season. Even without receiving a spot in a four-team playoff, BYU will have to wait until all power conference champions or alternates are slated in the playoff and big bowl line-up. Then BYU must wait for the highest ranked conference champion from a Group of Five conference to be given a bowl game. BYU then must hope the selection committee extends an invite to BYU over attractive and qualified options from the rest of the field, most likely coming from the power conferences. Then it all comes down to who has done the most and (likely) who will draw the most attractive match-up and crowd in the stands and on TV. If that becomes the case, then BYU’s best bet may be to rely on a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
But hey, there is plenty of football to be played. If you are BYU, the only thing to do now is the same as what schools like Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma are doing and just win all the games you can. Nobody knows how the selection committee will handle the postseason, so the best thing BYU can do is simply make it impossible for the selection committee not to include them somewhere in the field.
Posted by Kevin McGuire on September 14, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
The latest Associated Press Top 25 ranking this week somehow managed to keep Georgia ahead of South Carolina and Stanford ahead of USC. This after Georgia lost at South Carolina this weekend and Stanford was edged by USC the previous week. Good luck figuring that all out. The top five remain the same as last week, with No. 1 Florida State receiving 37 first-place votes. No. 2 Oregon received 17 first-place votes, followed by Alabama (1 first-place vote), Oklahoma (2 first-place votes) and Auburn.
No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 7 Baylor each moved up one spot in this week’s AP poll, followed by LSU and Notre Dame each moving up two spots. No. 10 Ole Miss rounds out this week’s top 10 after moving up four spots following a blowout win over Louisiana-Lafayette. The Rebels leaped over No. 11 Michigan State (up two spots), No. 12 UCLA and past No. 13 Georgia. Georgia dropped seven spots in the AP ranking but finished 11 points higher than No. 14 South Carolina. Arizona State moved up a spot to No. 15 this week, swapping places with Stanford. USC dropped eight spots in the AP poll after losing at Boston College Saturday night, to No. 17.
No. 18 Missouri moved up two spots following a win against UCF and No. 19 Wisconsin dropped a spot during their bye week. Kansas State also dropped a spot in a bye week down to No. 20.
After debuting in the AP Top 25 last week, BYU moved up four spots to No. 21 this week after beating Houston at home Thursday night. BYU is followed by No. 22 Clemson (up one spot) and Ohio State (down one spot). Nebraska returns to the top 25 this week at No. 24. The Huskers are followed by Oklahoma State to complete the top 25. The Cowboys are making their first appearance in the AP poll this season.
Posted by Kevin McGuire on September 14, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT
Despite Oklahoma winning at home against an SEC opponent this weekend, the Sooners were passed by Oregon in the latest Amway Coaches Poll, released Sunday afternoon. Florida State remains atop the coaches poll with 50 first-place votes, followed by Alabama with one first-place vote. Oregon received six first-place votes and Oklahoma received four. Auburn remains ranked fifth by the coaches.
Baylor (No. 6), Texas A&M and LSU all moved up a spot in the coaches poll in that order, followed by Notre Dame and UCLA. The Irish and Bruins each moved up two spots to round out the top 10 in this week’s coaches poll.
No. 11 Michigan State moved up two spots from No. 13 in their bye week after losing at Oregon. The defending Big Ten champions are followed by Ole Miss (up three spots) and Arizona State. Georgia took a big drop from No. 6 down to No. 14 after losing on the road at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are ranked two spots lower in the coaches poll at No. 16 despite winning the head-to-head competition. Stanford sits between the two SEC schools at No. 15 after moving up one spot.
No. 17 Wisconsin and No. 18 Ohio State stood firm in their positions this week, but Missouri moved up three spots to No. 19. Kansas State is ranked 20th for the second straight week.
USC took the biggest drop in the coaches poll this week after losing on the road at Boston College Saturday night. The Trojans, a week after edging Stanford, dropped 11 spots from No. 10 down to No. 21. They are followed by Nebraska. The Huskers dropped a spot to make room for USC despite winning on the road at Fresno State late Saturday night to go 3-0. BYU makes its first appearance in the coaches poll this week after moving up four spots in the coaches voting to debut at No. 23. Clemson and North Carolina complete the coaches top 25 for a second straight week, respectively.
Virgina Tech was the only team to be dropped from the coaches top 25 this week after losing at home to East Carolina.
Posted by Kevin McGuire on September 14, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT
Penn State pulled one out of a magic hat Saturday night. When you have a quarterback as talented and composed as Christian Hackenberg, good things and good plays eventually happen even on a night like Saturday night. Penn State’s offensive line was once again a near-complete wreck. The running game for the Nittany Lions was virtually non-existent. Hackenberg once again had too many moments when he had to force plays that just were not there. Rutgers was in Hackenberg’s face all night, knocking him off-balanced at times and forcing him to move. In the end though, Hackenberg showed great poise and leadership in leading Penn State to a late rally and victory.
Because the NCAA has lifted the remaining two seasons of a postseason ban on the football program, Penn State is now eligible to participate in the bowl season, the College Football Playoff and Big Ten Championship Game, as long as they qualify for any of those three. As a result of last night’s victory, Penn State is now out in front of the Big Ten championship race, sitting in first place with a 1-0 conference record before any other Big Ten teams (besides Rutgers) play a conference game. It is a good situation, and the schedule is as favorable as it can possibly be with a bye week before heading to Michigan, followed by a bye week before hosting Ohio State. Penn State also gets Michigan State at home in the final week of the regular season. While Saturday night’s come-from-behind thrill in New Jersey is plenty reason to celebrate, it is clear there is much that needs to improve in State College for Penn State to truly become a legitimate Big Ten contender.
It starts up front with the offensive line. Hackenberg needs protection and the running game cannot get going until the offensive line starts to improve. Depth on the line is a problem and a result of the sanctions the past couple of years, so just how much can improve between now and the next game or month may be limited. That does not mean Penn State and the coaching staff will not try. Perhaps what should be more of a breather next Saturday at home against UMass will be a good week to show some progress.
Once the offensive line does improve, the running game should follow. Mixing things up between Zach Zwinak for power running situations, spreading things out with Bill Belton and adding in Akeel Lynch to the mix still has potential for a good running game to help take some pressure off Hackenberg. Hackenberg has not had the cleanest first three games of the year despite some terrific passing numbers, and the thought he can actually get better is pretty remarkable. Receivers holding on to more passes would help as well. Penn State has shown potential to have receivers ready to step up after Allen Robinson moved to the NFL, but there have been a number of dropped passes the first few weeks as well.
Can Penn State realistically contend for a Big Ten championship? Given the way the Big Ten has been playing thus far, sure, why not. But before Penn State fans start making plans for Indianapolis, there is still a long uphill battle for the Nittany Lions. But for right now, they are in control of the Big Ten East, and that should feel pretty good.
Posted by John Taylor on September 14, 2014, 2:24 AM EDT
As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.
(Writer’s note: I’m “playing” very severely under the weather this weekend, so I apologize in advance for any errors and/or typos you may come across. Well any more than normal I should say. Thanks in advance.)
Turn that Top Dozen upside down
Heading into Week 3, the schedule wasn’t looking too promising on paper. Exiting it? To steal from the imitable Ron Burgandy, boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast — especially in the Top 12 of the rankings. Two teams in that rarefied air lost outright — No. 6 Georgia, to South Carolina; No. 9 USC, to Boston College — while No. 12 UCLA barely escaped against a fair-to-middlin’ Texas team and looked unimpressive for a third straight game. The first two will certainly tumble out of the Top 10, while the Bruins could slip a bit as well despite the win. So, which teams will replace UGA and USC? No. 11 Notre Dame is a mortal lock. The second is murky as No. 12 is, of course, UCLA while No. 13 is one-loss Michigan State. My guess would be No. 14 Ole Miss slides into the Top 10, just ahead of the Spartans.
Livin’ the hug life
Instead of another one of the bigger stories in Week 3 appearing above the cyber fold, how about we toss in a really cool example of sportsmanship*? Yeah, didn’t think you’d mind. UMass, 2-27 since early November of 2011, jumped out to a quick 14-o lead on Vanderbilt in Nashville and took a 31-20 lead into the fourth quarter. Two Commodore touchdowns, however, gave them the lead with just over a minute to play. The Minutemen would roar back, driving into position to kick a game-tying field goal and send the non-conference contest into overtime. As time expired, though, UMass kicker Blake Lucas missed the chippy 22-yard attempt. Then, this happened.
Yes, that would be Vandy defensive lineman Adam Butler giving Lucas a brief hug — and pat on the back — after the really bad miss. Bravo, young man, for your short but welcome show of sportsmanship.
Loss puts UGA in SEC East driver’s seat?
If those in and around the Georgia football program aren’t nearly as upset and distraught over a divisional loss as you think they should be, don’t worry. There’s a method to the apparent madness. Yes, UGA was out-physicaled in its loss to South Carolina. Yes, USC and UGA are now tied atop the SEC East at 1-1, with the former holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. However, based on recent precedent, the Bulldogs have the rest of the division right where they want ‘em. You see, the last two times UGA has qualified for the SEC championship game as the East’s winner (2011 and 2012), the Bulldogs lost to the Gamecocks the first month of the season. Yep, the Dawgs have ‘em right where they want ‘em.
Posted by John Taylor on September 14, 2014, 1:20 AM EDT
Arizona State may very well have suffered an early-morning loss even as it was in the process of easily handling Colorado.
Late in the third quarter of the ASU-CU game, Taylor Kelly went down with an injury to his lower right leg. The starting quarterback was taken into the locker room and, a short time later, returned to the sidelines.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, he returned on crutches with a walking boot on his right foot.
During the telecast, it was reported that the school would only say that the injury was to Kelly’s right foot and that he wouldn’t return. An update after the game is expected from head coach Todd Graham.
Kelly has started every game for the Sun Devils the past two-plus seasons. One slight bit of good news for Kelly and ASU is that they are on a bye this coming weekend, and won’t take the field again until Thursday, Sept. 25 against UCLA.
Junior Mike Bercovici has taken over for Kelly in the Buffs game, and would do the same moving forward if the starter misses any time.
Posted by Zach Barnett on September 14, 2014, 1:10 AM EDT
Here’s what you need to know about No. 7 Texas A&M’s 38-10 win over Rice Saturday night in College Station: The most interesting aspects of this game were a playing surface ripped to shreds after a torrential rain on Friday…
… and a wild end-of-half sequence that saw scores for both teams wiped off the board due to penalties in the final four seconds of the second quarter. Rice kicked a field goal to bring the score to 21-10 at the half taken off the board due to an illegal substitution call against Texas A&M. The ensuing kick was blocked; Armani Watts picked up the loose ball and ran it back for an apparent touchdown before the Aggies were then hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct call for having players stand too close to the field.
Beyond that, it was a game where Rice somehow outgained the Aggies but somehow never truly felt in the game. The Owls had almost perfect balance, completing 24-of-36 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, and ran the ball 55 times for 240 yards for a respectable 4.4 yards per carry.
Seriously, how do you outgain your opponent (481-477), achieve more first downs (28-23), decidedly win third down (10-of-20 vs. 3-of-8), win the turnover battle (1-0), dominate time of possession (43:17 vs. 16:43), and lose 38-10? How does that happen?
Well, one team has Kenny Hill, Speedy Noil, Ricky Seals-Jones, Myles Garrett, and company, and it’s the opponent. Hill completed a workmanlike – you could call it a trill – day at the office with 300 passing yards, four touchdowns and 38 rushing yards while barely breaking a sweat. Noil caught three passes for 71 yards, Seals-Jones hauled in five passes for 42 yards and a touchdown, and Josh Reynolds nabbed two scoring passes for 68 yards.
Texas A&M travels next week to Dallas to face a downtrodden SMU bunch in a game that will not be suitable for children, while Rice opens Conference USA play against league newcomer Old Dominion.
Posted by Zach Barnett on September 14, 2014, 12:24 AM EDT
The Brett HundleyHeisman train has reportedly taken just a short pit stop, rather than a complete derailment.
According to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, Hundley suffered a “slight” hyper-extension of his left elbow and is not expected to miss extended time. “They say he will be fine by the end of next week,” Feldman reported on Fox Sports Live.
Brett Hundley update: Slight hyper extension of left elbow he is expected to be fine by end of week, source tells @FOXSports#UCLA
Hundley departed No. 12 UCLA’s 20-17 win over Texas midway through the first quarter. He completed all four of his passes for 48 yards, and was then replaced by Jerry Neuheisel for the rest of the night. Neuheisel threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in leading the come-from-behind win.
UCLA is off this coming Saturday, and then travels to No. 16 Arizona State on Thursday, Sept. 25.
For the season, Hundley has completed 53-of-77 passes for 638 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, while adding 65 rushing yards and an additional score.