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No. 19 USF stumbles early, but turns things around for big win at San Jose State

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In Charlie Strong’s debut with No. 19 South Florida, just about everything that could go wrong for the Bulls in the first quarter, did.

Kickoffs out-of-bounds? Check. Punt blocked and later turned into a touchdown? Definitely. Three-and-outs? Several.

Luckily for Strong and his team though, the second quarter amounted to a flipping of the switch and keyed a 42-point unanswered run that allowed USF to escape from the left coast with a 42-22 victory over San Jose State that was far from the impressive debut the team wanted.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers entered the season as a dark horse Heisman candidate but was not quite as sharp as many expected to open his campaign, needing that first quarter to get warmed up along with his teammates. Despite that, he still was quite efficient on the night and finished with 212 yards and two scores through the air while rushing for another 70 yards on the ground and finding the end zone once with his feet.

D’Ernest Johnson also took a while to get going but looked like a solid replacement for Marlon Mack at tailback by rushing for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while Darius Tice also chipped in with another 94 yards and a score.  Marquez Scantling led the way for the receiving corps and posted six catches for 91 yards but left the scoring to two of his teammates. Just as impressive was the Bulls’ defense, which clamped down after some early confusion and recorded five tackles for loss, a sack and three interceptions on the night.

While the initial flourish was nice, the final three quarters was not exactly what SJSU’s new coaching staff was hoping to get out the Spartans in a big early test. QB Josh Love was forced out the pocket constantly and pressured into three turnovers after two first half touchdown passes. Perhaps the biggest issue for the rebuilding Mountain West team was the lack of a running game (a paltry 2.9 yards per rush) and kicking issues with two blocked extra points.

We’re used to teams having a few kinks to work out at the beginning of the season and that is certainly the case for these teams. At least for USF, that long flight back to Tampa will come after a win that was the beginning of a new era for the Bulls under Strong and company.

Alabama remains unanimous No. 1 in Super 16 Poll; UCF cracks top 10

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After a somewhat quiet week of college football for the top teams in the Super 16 poll, there was minimal change to the top 10 this week. The Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation once again sees Alabama claiming the top spot with all 51 first-place votes from the collective voters this week.

Alabama is followed by the same teams in the same order they were last week with Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, and Oklahoma not moving this week. At No. 7, Washington State moved up one spot. West Virginia fell from the seventh spot down to No. 11 after a road loss at Oklahoma State last weekend. The Mountaineers dropping allowed No. 8 LSU and No. 9 UCF to move up two spots. No. 10 Ohio State dropped one spot after having to survive an overtime shootout at Maryland over the weekend.

No. 16 Washington returned to the Super 16 this week to round out the poll. The Huskies trail Texas, Florida, and Penn State, who all moved up this week. No. 15 Utah State fell one spot after escaping an upset bid at Colorado State on a Hail Mary that didn’t count because the receiver stepped out of bounds on the final play of the game.

Here is this week’s full Super 16 Poll, with first-place votes noted.

  1. Alabama (51)
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Michigan
  5. Georgia
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Washington State
  8. LSU
  9. UCF
  10. Ohio State
  11. West Virginia
  12. Texas
  13. Florida
  14. Penn State
  15. Utah State
  16. Washington

As a regular disclaimer, three contributors to College Football Talk are Super 16 voters; Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, and myself (Kevin McGuire).

Charlotte relieves Brad Lambert, will look for second coach in program history

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The only man to fill the role of head coach of the Charlotte 49ers football program will not return to coach the 49ers after the 2018 season. Brad Lambert will not be retained by the university, a statement from Charlotte Athletic Director Mike Hill said on Sunday. A national search for a new head coach is now underway for the young Charlotte program.

“We’ve decided to make a change in our football program,” Hill said in a released statement. “It is a decision I made after an opportunity to assess my first football season here. It’s about the trajectory of the program and putting us in the best position for the future. We elected to make this decision now so that we could begin the search immediately.”

A former assistant with Georgia and Wake Forest, Lambert was hired to be the head coach of the new Charlotte program in 2011, two years before the football program officially stepped foot on a football field for a game. Lambert coached Charlotte to back-to-back years with 5-6 records in the FCS for the first two years of the program’s existence. Charlotte moved up to the FBS in 2015 as a member of Conference USA but the program has yet to record a winning season. Charlotte has gone 21-48 under Lambert since 2013, and the 49ers will once again finish below .500 this week regardless of the outcome of a final regular season game against Florida Atlantic.

Lambert will coach Charlotte’s final game of the season this weekend against FAU.

North Dakota State takes No. 1 seed in FCS Playoffs

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The playoff field is set for the FCS Playoffs. Defending national champion and No. 1 North Dakota State took the top seed overall but will face a challenging bracket if the Bison are to claim another national title this year.

As the top seed, North Dakota State will own home-field advantage in the Fargo Dome for as long as they are in the playoffs, with the exception of a possible national title game appearance, which will be played in Frisco, Texas on January 5. North Dakota State’s portion of the bracket includes No. 4 seed Kennesaw State (who was the No. 2 team in the FCS top 25) and last year’s national title runners-up from James Madison. The Dukes were not seeded in this year’s tournament with a record of 8-3, but they are always to be considered a dangerous opponent this time of year.

A handful of teams ended playoff droughts with this year’s bracket. East Tennessee State is making its first playoff appearance since 1996, ending the longest drought among this year’s playoff teams. Delaware and Southeast Missouri State are each back in the playoff for the first time since 2010. The field also includes three first-time playoff teams; Incarnate Word, Lamar, and UC Davis.

The FCS Playoffs begin next weekend.

Michigan’s Berkley Edwards tweets he has been released from hospital after nasty hit

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Michigan running back and special teams player Berkley Edwards was carted off the field on a stretcher in the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium on Saturday in a scary scene that paused the game for roughly 10 minutes. The morning after the Wolverines beat Indiana, however, there is good news to report on Edwards. Edwards shared an update on his Twitter account to tell his followers and Michigan fans he has been released from the hospital and he is OK.

“Just got out the hospital,” Edwards said. “[E]verything is good!”

Edwards followed that up to say he did not see the Indiana player who hit him (Cam Jones, who was ejected for the hit) and his head is still hurting a bit.

It is unknown at this time what the status of Edwards will be for Michigan’s regular-season finale at Ohio State this week. The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game will play in the Big Ten Championship Game as the East Division champion.