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Ole Miss strikes first, but No. 1 Alabama buries Rebels in Oxford

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From the very first snap, Ole Miss showed this wasn’t going to be like other games No. 1 Alabama plays. Behind its strong-armed Hawaiian quarterback, these Rebels were going to hit the Tide’s inexperienced secondary right in the mouth, as Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown grab.

And right from its very first snap, Alabama showed Ole Miss that this wasn’t other Alabama teams. These Crimson Tide have their own big-armed quarterback from the islands, and they can deliver haymakers with the best of them.

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) needed only three plays to tie the game, a 43-yard Damien Harris rumble. And then, after a pair of Ole Miss (2-1, 0-1 SEC) three-and-outs and an Alabama fumble, Tua Tagovailoa had his equalizer, a 79-yard scoring strike to Jerry Jeudy, and the Tide were off to the races. After a 10-yard Najee Harris run and a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama had a 28-7 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Tide expanded on that 28-7 first quarter lead into a 49-7 halftime edge and a 62-7 final.

While Alabama’s offense was obviously the story of the half, Ole Miss’s unit failed to keep them in the game after the opening score. The Rebels went three-and-out after Alabama’s first score, then did the same upon taking over at the Alabama 47 after a Henry Ruggs III fumble. Trailing 14-7, Ole Miss again moved to the Alabama 47 when Ta’amu fumbled away what would have been a 3rd and 1 situation. The Rebels’ next possession, trailing 21-7, Ta’amu threw an interception that Deionte Thompson returned to the Rebels’ 15 and the game was all but over.

In the second quarter, Alabama scored on a 4-yard Josh Jacobs run, a 22-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeudy and a 13-yard pass from Hurts to Ruggs.

All told, the Tide rolled up 418 yards of total offense and 20 first downs on 41 first half snaps. Tagovailoa hit 11-of-15 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while Hurts was 7-of-10 for 85 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Nine Alabama players combined to carry 44 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

Ta’amu, meanwhile, after starting 1-of-1 for 75 yards and a touchdown, finished 6-of-21 for 58 yards with two interceptions.

Alabama running away from Ole Miss

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From the very first snap, Ole Miss showed this wasn’t going to be like other games No. 1 Alabama plays. Behind its strong-armed Hawaiian quarterback, these Rebels were going to hit the Tide’s inexperienced secondary right in the mouth, as Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown grab.

And right from its very first snap, Alabama showed Ole Miss that this wasn’t other Alabama teams. These Crimson Tide have their own big-armed quarterback from the islands, and they can deliver haymakers with the best of them.

Alabama needed only three plays to tie the game, a 43-yard Damien Harris rumble. And then, after a pair of Ole Miss three-and-outs and an Alabama fumble, Tua Tagovailoa had his equalizer, a 79-yard scoring strike to Jerry Jeudy, and the Tide were off to the races. After a 10-yard Najee Harris run and a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Irv Smith, Alabama had a 28-7 lead by the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Tide tacked on tree more scores in the second quarter to take a 49-7 lead into the locker room.

While Alabama’s offense was obviously the story of the half, Ole Miss’s unit failed to keep them in the game after the opening score. The Rebels went three-and-out after Alabama’s first score, then did the same upon taking over at the Alabama 47 after a Henry Ruggs III fumble. Trailing 14-7, Ole Miss again moved to the Alabama 47 when Ta’amu fumbled away what would have been a 3rd and 1 situation. The Rebels’ next possession, trailing 21-7, Ta’amu threw an interception that Deionte Thompson returned to the Rebels’ 15 and the game was all but over.

In the second quarter, Alabama scored on a 4-yard Josh Jacobs run, a 22-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeudy and a 13-yard pass from Hurts to Ruggs.

All told, the Tide rolled up 418 yards of total offense and 20 first downs on 41 snaps. Tide passers were 16-of-21 for 248 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while Alabama runners carried 20 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns.

As if that isn’t enough, Alabama will receive to open the second half.

No. 21 UCF routs UConn behind McKenzie Milton’s 5 TDs

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No. 21 UCF (1-0, 1-0 AAC) had little trouble turning the page on a new season with a new head coach. Quarterback Mckenzie Milton opened the season by throwing for 346 yards and five touchdowns as the defending AAC champions blasted UConn (0-1, 0-1 AAC) by a score of 56-17 on Thursday night.

UCF head coach Josh Heupel saw his team score two touchdowns in each quarter to earn his first head coaching victory as the Huskies were simply no match for the Knights. UCF’s offense rolled up over 600 yards on their hosts, including 272 yards on the ground as a team.

UConn quarterback David Pindell was intercepted once, but had a solid enough effort to suggest he could be a fun player to watch this season. Pindell completed 27-of-41 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown and he rushed for 157 yards and a score. Pindell will likely be picking up some big numbers as the season continues, and not every opponent UConn faces will be as stacked as UCF.

UCF wide receiver Tre Nixon caught five passes from Milton for 101 yards and two scores. In all, 10 UCF players caught a pass from either Milton or backup Darriel Mack Jr.

UCF’s defense did give up 486 yards, but the Knights also forced three turnovers while the offense never let go of the football.

The game actually got started on a somber note, when UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson was injured on the opening kickoff of the game. He was attended to by medics and trainers on the field for about 10 minutes before being carted off on a stretcher. There has been no update on his status, but he did have motion in his legs and gave a thumbs up as he came off the field on the cart.

UCF will play their home opener next week with a game against FCS South Carolina State. UConn will be on the road in Week 2 to take on another Group of Five heavyweight, No. 22 Boise State.

McKenzie Milton’s 3 TDs help UCF build 28-10 halftime lead at UConn

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After a scary moment on the opening kickoff, it has been business as usual for UCF in the first half of the season. McKenzie Milton has thrown three touchdowns and the defending AAC champions are up 28-10 on the road at UConn at halftime.

Special teams player and backup cornerback Aaron Robinson was carted off the field on a stretcher after suffering a severe injury on the game’s opening kickoff. He did have movement in his legs and managed to give a thumbs up as he was taken off the field, but the game was forced to pause for about 10 minutes just after it got started in order to properly take care of the injured Robinson.

Milton has completed 13 of 16 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns. He is also UCF’s leading rusher with 50 yards on the ground.

UCF scored touchdowns on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. UConn fumbled away the opening possession on the sixth play of the game, and the Huskies were held to a three-and-out on their second offensive series. After UConn kicked a field goal to put some points on the board, UCF answered with a four-play, 76-yard touchdown drive capped by Milton’s second touchdown pass of the night, this one to Gabriel Davis from 10 yards out.

Earlier, Milton threw a 34-yard pass to Tre Nixon while rolling to his right to put the Knights up 14-0.

Down 21-3, UConn strung together a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a David Pindell pass to Tyler Davis for five yards and a score. Pindell is the game’s leading rusher with 92 yards on 12 carries. The Huskies just have not been able to keep up the pace against UCF through one half. They have quite an uphill battle to climb at home in the second half if UConn is going to give UCF a fight.

Bryce Love, Ed Oliver headline Walter Camp Award preseason watch list

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What is arguably the second-most prestigious award in college football has officially joined in on the watch listing fun.

The Walter Camp Foundation became the last (?) of the major awards to release its preseason watch list, with a total of 50 individuals making the cut as the players to watch for its 2018 Player of the Year Award.  Headling that half-century group is a pair of 2017 Camp All-Americans — Stanford running back Bryce Love and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver.

All FBS conferences are represented, led by nine each for both the Big Ten and ACC.  The ACC (eight) and Big 12 (seven) are next, followed by the Pac-12 (five), AAC (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (one), Mountain West (one) and Sun Belt (one).  Two football independents, Army and Notre Dame, made the initial cut as well.

A total of nine schools placed two players each on the watch list: Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, TCU, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Of the 50 watch listers, 38 come from the offensive side of the ball.  The breakdown of that group goes 17 quarterbacks, 15 running backs, five wide receivers and one tight end.  An even dozen are, obviously, defensive players — seven defensive linemen, three linebackers, two defensive backs.

Breaking down the group by classes, there are 17 seniors, 25 juniors and eight sophomores.

Cam Akers, RB, Sophomore, Florida State
Darius Anderson, RB, Junior, TCU
Rodney Anderson, RB, Junior, Oklahoma
Ben Banogu, DE, Sophomore, TCU
Nick Bosa, DL, Junior, Ohio State #
Spencer Brown, RB, Sophomore, UAB
Jake Bentley, QB, Junior, University of South Carolina
A.J. Brown, WR, Junior, Ole Miss
Jake Browning, QB, Senior, Washington
Devin Bush, LB, Junior, Michigan #
Raekwon Davis, DL, Junior, Alabama
AJ Dillon, RB, Sophomore, Boston College
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Sophomore, Ohio State
T.J. Edwards, LB, Senior, Wisconsin #
Noah Fant, TE, Junior, Iowa
Mason Fine, QB, Junior, North Texas
Ryan Finley, QB, Senior, North Carolina State
Rashan Gary, DE, Junior, Michigan
Myles Gaskin, RB, Senior, Washington
Joe Gilles-Harris, LB, Junior, Duke #
Will Grier, QB, Senior, West Virginia
Justice Hansen, QB, Senior, Arkansas State
Damien Harris, RB, Senior, Alabama
Darrell Henderson, RB, Junior Memphis
Justice Hill, RB, Sophomore, Oklahoma State
Collin Johnson, WR, Junior, Texas
Diontae Johnson, WR, Junior, Toledo
Jaquan Johnson, DB, Senior, Miami (Fla.)
Dexter Lawrence, DL, Junior, Clemson
Brian Lewerke, QB, Junior, Michigan State
Drew Lock, QB, Senior, Missouri
Bryce Love, RB, Senior, Stanford *
Trace McSorley, QB, Senior, Penn State
McKenzie Milton, QB, Junior, UCF
Steven Montez, QB, Junior, Colorado
Ed Oliver, DL, Junior, Houston *
Malcolm Perry, QB, Junior, Navy
Ahmmon Richards, WR, Junior, Miami (Fla.)
Brett Rypien, QB, Senior, Boise State
Kyle Shurmur, QB, Senior, Vanderbilt
David Sills, WR, Senior, West Virginia #
Devin Singletary, RB, Junior, Florida Atlantic
Benny Snell, RB, Junior, Kentucky
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Junior, Auburn
Khalil Tate, QB, Junior, Arizona
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Sophomore, Wisconsin #
Christian Wilkins, DL, Senior, Clemson #
Greedy Williams, DB, Sophomore, LSU
Brandon Wimbush, QB, Senior, University of Notre Dame
Darnell Woolfolk, RB, Senior, Army-West Point

* 2017 Walter Camp All-America First-Team selection
# – 2017 Walter Camp All-America Second-Team selection