'Saturday Storylines' — Debuts for Barkley and Paulus

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In the game of the day, how will Virginia Tech’s young trio of running backs do when facing Alabama’s staunch run defense led by nose guard Terrence “Mount” Cody? Freshman Ryan Williams will start in place of injured Darren Evans, but he’ll be fighting for carries with fellow freshman David Wilson and sophomore Josh Oglesby.

While Georgia head coach Mark Richt puts his 10-2 road record versus ranked teams on the line at No. 9 Oklahoma State, two of the nation’s best wide receivers will be on display. Cowboy junior Dez Bryant deservingly gets a lot of love, but there aren’t many out there with more potential than Bulldog sophomore A.J. Green.

Will Michigan be able to leave its troubles behind (at least for three and a half hours) and find solace on the field at the Big House? Perhaps, but it would be a lot easier if they didn’t find Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller and the rest of the Broncos out there waiting for them.

The Syracuse football program doesn’t deserve any or our attention, but former Duke point guard Greg Paulus’ debut as a one-and-done starting quarterback will be fascinating. One thing’s for sure, Minnesota is more than happy to see him back there taking snaps.

Just like Paulus, Matt Barkley hasn’t played in a real football game since high school . . . but he’ll turn 19 on Tuesday. For the first time in USC’s storied football history, a true freshman starts at quarterback. Trojan boss Pete Carroll certainly has figured out a way for us to care about a game involving San Jose State.

After seeing Boise State basically go 13-0 on Thursday night (yes, they’ve got that many regular season games), No. 20 Brigham Young knows it must beat Oklahoma to keep pace with the Broncos in the hunt for a BCS berth. Both teams have four new starters along the offensive line to protect their prized passers. Max Hall figures to be in more jeopardy than Sam Bradford, but all of it will make for good TV.

Although denying any involvement (yeah, right), Notre Dame got that pesky billboard taken down. Supporters hope that isn’t the only defensive action taken by the Irish this week. Self preservation while facing Nevada’s pistol offense could prove to be much tougher than practicing censorship.

There are several new quarterbacks taking over the reigns at high profiles programs in Week 1. Most notably they are: Jarrett Brown (West Virginia), Joe Cox (Georgia), Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Greg McElroy (Alabama) and Dom Natale or Tom Savage (Rutgers). In some cases, they’re filling the cleats of an all-timer at their school. That’s never an easy assignment, no matter who you line up against.

Is Ole Miss ready for its close-up? Much has changed in the last year for the Rebels. Are they ready for the spotlight that comes along with a target? Sunday’s short drive up to underrated and over-motivated Memphis will provide the initial indication.

Labor Day finds a pair of programs that have been working overtime to get back to national prominence. The Florida State-Miami series used to reside at the top of the college football pantheon. The Seminoles and Hurricanes are both on the climb back up and will eventually get there, but the one that uses the other as a stepping stone earns a crucial recruiting advantage in the region.

Following arrest, Minnesota RB Shannon Brooks’ status ‘evolving’

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A knee injury sidelined Shannon Brooks for the first half of 2018, but he’s been medically cleared to make his debut this season Saturday against Nebraska.  However, an off-field incident has left his status for the weekend up in the air.

Over the weekend, Brooks was arrested on one count of suspected domestic assault stemming from an incident involving his male roommate.  Monday, Brooks was released from jail after the city attorney’s office declined, for now, to press charges.  The St. Paul Pioneer Press, though, writes that “[i]t doesn’t appear Brooks will practice until the city attorney’s office comes to some resolution in its investigation.”

Head coach P.J. Fleck stated Tuesday that the running back’s status is evolving every day.

“One thing that we are always going to make sure is that we have every bit of information that we possibly can before we make decisions,” the head coach said. “Shannon understands that, and I know our administration understands that as well.”

Brooks suffered what was initially thought to be a season-ending knee injury during spring practice this offseason. In six games last season, Brooks rushed for 369 yards and five touchdowns.

Texas’ Jeffrey McCulloch involved in single-car accident after hydroplaning, hitting pole

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One member of the Texas Longhorns football program was involved in an off-field incident this week that, thankfully, sounds a little scarier than it (hopefully) turned out to be.

Tom Herman revealed Tuesday that Jeffrey McCulloch was involved in a single-car accident Tuesday.  Per the head coach, the linebacker hydroplaned on a wet, slick Austin road and hit a light pole.

McCulloch was treated at the scene and then went to a local hospital before eventually being released, the Dallas News reported.

However, the Austin American Statesman writes that “[a]fter complaining about neck soreness, McCulloch was expected to have a CT scan.”

“All early indications is that he should be OK,” Herman said. “Just want to make sure everything is good to go.”

On Twitter Tuesday night, McCulloch also indicated that he’s fine.

McCulloch, a junior, has played in all seven games this season, starting one of those contests.  He’s listed as the starting B-backer on the Longhorns’ most recent depth chart.

Suspect arrested in shooting of two FIU football players

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There’s been a rather significant development in an off-field incident involving a pair of Florida International football players.

According to WPLG-TV among other outlets, 29-year-old Lorenzo Shine has been arrested in connection to the Sept. 6 drive-by shooting of running back Anthony Jones (pictured) and offensive lineman Mershawn Miller.  Shine, who admitted to driving his girlfriend’s car at the time of the shooting, is facing two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

From the CBS affiliate in Miami:

Anthony Jones and Mershawn Miller were visiting Miller’s brother at his home in the 2400 block of NW 140th Street when a car pulled up and shots were fired from within the vehicle, according to police.

At least 16 shots were fired at those sitting on the porch. Surveillance video from a nearby home shows bullets flying, as two men run to the back of the house.

Using the surveillance video, police tracked down the owner of the car. The owner of the car said she didn’t remember driving it on the day of the drive-by. Lorenzo Shine, 29, then came out of the woman’s house and retrieved two bags and something from the car’s glove box which he put in one of the bags. He took both bags inside the house.

The homeowner consented to a police search of the residence for guns. Inside one of the bags that Shine had removed from the car was a 40 caliber pistol.

Shine had been released from prison in late June after serving time for armed robbery and burglary.  Police have been unable to unearth a motive in the shooting.

Jones was shot in the face and the back during the incident, while Miller, his high school teammate in Miami, was shot in the arm.  The latter was released from the hospital shortly after the incident, while the former required a lengthier stay, although he was released after a two-week hospital stay.

Jones, the nephew of former Florida State star Dalvin Cook, ran for a team-high 88 yards in FIU’s season-opening loss to Indiana.  He also accounted for a career-high two rushing touchdowns in the same game.  Miller saw his first career action in the opener after redshirting as a true freshman last season.

Neither player has played since being shot.

Status of nation’s leading receiver up in the air for Colorado vs. Washington

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One of the nation’s most prolific players on the offensive side of the ball may not be available this weekend.  Or he may be.  One of the two.

Late in the third quarter of then-undefeated Colorado’s loss to USC, Laviska Shenault went down with a toe injury and didn’t return.  With Washington, also reeling from a tough overtime loss to Oregon, on tap this coming weekend, Shenault’s status is decidedly up in the air.

“We haven’t found out anything on it yet,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said by way of the Boulder Daily Camera. “They’re still evaluating everything. We haven’t found out any total results or anything. He still has a sore toe, but we’ll see.”

Per the Daily Camera, the wide receiver didn’t practice Monday and was seen wearing a walking boot.  As of Tuesday, he’s still considered day-to-day.

Shenault currently leads the country in receptions per game (10) and receiving yards per game (130).  His six receiving touchdowns are second in the Pac-12 and tied for 14th nationally.