One game in, Florida State already learning title defense is different than a title chase

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Florida State has not been tested like that since, well, the last time they took the field. Aside from the BCS National Championship barn burner, Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles were not seriously tested at any point during the 2013 regular season, unless you want to count a four-point third-quarter lead versus Boston College being seriously tested.

One game into their title defense, though, and these 2014 Seminoles have been seriously tested. Florida State built a 17-0 second-quarter lead, but was never able to shake the pesky Pokes. Oklahoma State pulled within 17-10 at the half, 20-17 in the third quarter, 27-24 in the fourth quarter, and had the ball with a chance for the lead with under five minutes to play in the game.

Unranked Oklahoma State proved every bit No. 1 Florida State’s athletic equal at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night, outrushing the Seminoles 161-106 and sacking Jameis Winston twice. More seriously, Pokes quarterback J.W. Walsh kept a zone read and raced around the left side with 50 yards of green artificial turf ahead of him, and opportunity that would have given Oklahoma State the lead with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, until Florida State defensive back P.J. Williams forced and then recovered a fumble. Walsh completed 15-of-27 passes for 203 yards with a touchdown and a back-breaking pick six, and added 11 rushes for 51 yards and a career-best two touchdowns.

Winston hit Rashad Greene with a 50-yard catch-and-run two plays later to put Florida State up 37-24 with 3:58 to play. Greene had a career night, collecting 11 receptions and 203 of Winston’s 370 passing yards.

Though Walsh would notch a three-yard scoring burst two minutes later, Oklahoma State never again had the ball with a chance to take the lead. Final score: Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31.

Saturday night’s extravaganza showcased the absolute best of these made-for-TV neutral site match-ups. Each team will be better for the opportunity, and the nation got to see the defending national champion pushed by a rebuilding program that appears to be better than anyone – perhaps including its own coaching staff – ever anticipated.

Florida State hosts The Citadel and then takes a week off before opening its ACC schedule against No. 16 Clemson in Tallahassee. Oklahoma State returns to Stillwater to face Missouri State next week and, though there are plenty of land mines throughout, does not face another team currently ranked in the AP Top 25 until Nov. 1.

Bronco Mendenhall puts up $500,000 toward new Virginia football facility

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Ask any football coach what one of their top requests of their administration is and, outside of perhaps an increase in the staff salary pool, just about every one of them will reply with better facilities.

It seems Bronco Mendenhall is helping out his own cause on that front as the school announced that he and his wife Holly have pledged $500,000 that will go building the Cavaliers’ new football operations building.

“Holly and I are excited to be a part of the process that transforms Virginia football,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “We love developing young people through football and the new Football Operations Center will provide our young men a home where they can develop into exceptional football players, students and leaders.”

“I am very thankful that Bronco and Holly have further demonstrated their commitment to the University of Virginia with this gift,” added Virginia AD Carla Williams.” Bronco’s vision for the impact this facility will have on the football program is inspiring and I hope his and Holly’s gift will motivate others to invest in the future of Virginia student-athletes.”

The gift, the largest ever by a UVA head coach back to the school, is the first public pledge toward the Hoos’ $180 million master plan campaign that will see a complete revitalization of the campus’ athletic facilities. This includes a new football building located next to the team’s indoor practice facility/outdoor fields and will also include a full renovation to the existing McCue Center that the program currently calls home. Construction of the vast majority of the plan is expected to start in 2020.

The half-million dollar gift to the school won’t put a huge damper on Mendenhall’s wallet despite being a very nice gesture for the program. According to the USA Today salary database, the head coach will take home nearly $3.55 million in 2018 and seems firmly tied to the Cavs for the foreseeable future given his whopping $18 million buyout.

Auburn WR Anthony Schwartz challenges Tyreek Hill to race, Kansas City Chiefs star seems up for it

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There’s long been a debate in scouting circles about how much track speed can translate into football speed but, if we’re lucky, we might be able to add another data point to the discussion.

On Tuesday, Auburn wide receiver Anthony Schwartz tweeted at Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill and wondered when the two could race. While both are in the middle of the respective seasons on the gridiron, it seems the two speedsters are at least open to squaring off in the near future to figure out just who might be the fastest man in all of football based on Hill’s response on Thursday.

Now, this isn’t just some crazy college kid challenging one of the NFL’s fastest receivers to a race, there’s enough intrigue here for fans at both levels of football to get excited.

Schwartz, a freshman wideout who has 12 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns with Auburn this year, was named 2018 Gatorade national boys’ track and field athlete of the year coming out of high school and took home a silver in the 100m at the IAAF U20 world championships in July. Hill has been running away from defenders for years now at just about every level of football but was quite the track star of his own back in high school and, briefly, at Oklahoma State.

No details were given on the surface or timing of any potential race but it’s safe to say it could be a close one if the two do indeed lace ’em up. Hill’s best 100m time was 10.19 back in 2014 while Schwartz posted a personal best of 10.09 in June and got his silver medal in Finland at the IAAF world championships with a 10.22.

Michigan State finds ‘Blue M’ painted near Sparty statue ahead of rivalry game, police open investigation

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It’s Michigan-Michigan State week in college football which means hijinks are bound to happen around the region between supporters of Big Blue and the Spartans.

Case in point came on Thursday as police opened an investigation into an incident near MSU’s Sparty statue on campus after a bit of vandalism occurred yesterday morning that had many blaming their cross-state rivals. Per the Lansing State Journal: 

Michigan State University Police were called Tuesday just before 4 a.m. to the area of the Sparty statue for a report of vandalism, Capt. Doug Monette said. They found a blue “M” spray painted on the sidewalk near the statue, likely in support of the University of Michigan. Monette said the investigation is open and ongoing.

Yeah, going to go out on a limb there and confirm the ‘blue M’ was the handiwork of somebody who roots for the Wolverines on Saturday.

The story didn’t specify where the spray-painted logo was in relation to the Sparty statue but it couldn’t have been too close because it appears that students typically sit around the statue during rivalry week to protect it from vandalism just like this. Head coach Mark Dantonio was caught delivering pizzas to those watching over the statue by Big Ten Network just hours before the reported spray painting took place as luck would have it.

Next year it appears as though Michigan State will have to expand their perimeter of student onlookers so as to discourage such hijinks in the future after this latest incident in East Lansing.

LSU unveils new uniform to pay respect to 1918 season, including new color-shifting helmet

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No. 5 LSU hosts No. 22 Mississippi State this weekend in Death Valley for a big game within the SEC West that also holds some significant national implications as well. This contest between the Tigers and Bulldogs has been an underrated game the past few years and you can bet the night game atmosphere on Saturday will only add to that.

LSU is ramping things up a bit more however with a surprising new uniform for the game however. The new look, unveiled on Twitter Thursday afternoon, is designed to pay homage to the 1918 “Silent Season” at the school where students and players left campus to fight in World War I instead of clashing on the gridiron.

The video below details everything that goes into the all-white uniform thanks to a pretty epic voice over that is sure to fire up Tigers fans about the clean, yet sharp look the team will take the field in. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the entire thing is the helmet, which is called “color-shifting” from gold to purple depending on how you look at it in the lights — similar to a set of Mardi Gras beads.

LSU generally has a pretty slick set of uniforms when they use their home whites but this is a nice step up while also doubling as a good history lesson for those not too familiar with the school’s past. We’ll have to see just how good that helmet looks under the lights in Death Valley but the early returns are pretty good based on what we’ve seen so far in the video above.