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  • Top 25 roundup: No. 13 Wisconsin pummels No. 11 Michigan
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 21, 2019

    Running back Jonathan Taylor scored two first-quarter touchdowns, and quarterback Jack Coan rushed for two more scores as No. 13 Wisconsin routed No. 11 Michigan on Saturday in the Big Ten opener for both teams in Madison, Wis.

    • Taylor had 12 carries for 143 yards and two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter. He left midway through the second with cramps and returned in the third quarter for the Badgers (3-0), who have won five straight games against the Wolverines (2-1) at Camp Randall Stadium.

      Taylor finished with 23 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Wisconsin ran for 359 yards and went up 35-0 before Michigan scored at the 2:08 mark of the third quarter. The Wolverines gained 299 yards, including 40 rushing yards.

      Coan completed 13 of 16 passes for 128 yards and the two rushing scores, both coming in the second quarter.

      No. 1 Clemson 52, Charlotte 10

      The undefeated Tigers got touchdowns from seven different players in a rout of the visiting 49ers.

      Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw two touchdown passes in only a quarter of playing time as Clemson moved to 4-0.

      The victory was the 19th in a row for the Tigers, extending the nation's longest active winning streak. The streak is the longest in school history and the second-longest in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

      No. 2 Alabama 49, Southern Mississippi 7

      Junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa matched a career-high in touchdown passes for a second consecutive week as the Crimson Tide jumped on the Golden Eagles early and rolled to victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

      Tagovailoa threw five touchdown passes before turning the game over to backup Mac Jones late in the third quarter with the Crimson Tide (4-0) leading 42-7. Tagovailoa was an efficient 17-of-21 passing for 293 yards, just missing what would have been a ninth career 300-yard passing game. His younger brother, freshman Taulia Tagovailoa, later guided the Tide to their final touchdown.

      Quarterback Jack Abraham started slowly but was 3-of-3 passing for 55 yards to spark a 74-yard second-quarter scoring drive for the Golden Eagles (2-2). He finished the day 17 of 26 for 174 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception.

      No. 3 Georgia 23, No. 7 Notre Dame 17

      The Bulldogs used a strong second half in Athens, Ga., to send the Fighting Irish to their 10th straight defeat against a ranked opponent.

      Georgia's defense made the evening miserable for Notre Dame (2-1), while the Bulldogs, who had won their first three games by a margin of 148-23, improved to 4-0.

      After completing just 11 of 12 passes for just 59 yards in the first half, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm completed 9 of 14 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown after the break. Running back D'Andre Swift rushed 18 times for 98 yards and a score.

      No. 4 LSU 66, Vanderbilt 38

      Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 398 yards and six touchdowns as the Tigers scored their most points in a non-overtime game since 1977, smashing the Commodores in Nashville, Tenn.

      Burrow was 25 of 34 for 398 yards, with no interceptions. Ja'Marr Chase caught 10 passes for 229 yards and four scores, three in the first half as LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) racked up 419 yards before the break, when it led 38-17.

      Vanderbilt running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn rushed for 130 yards and two scores. Vandy (0-3, 0-2) got defensive touchdowns from outside linebacker Elijah McAllister and cornerback Randall Haynie.

      No. 6 Ohio State 76, Miami (Ohio) 5

      Quarterback Justin Fields accounted for six first-half touchdowns as the Buckeyes scored 76 unanswered points to rout the RedHawks.

      Ohio State (4-0) trailed 5-0 after 7:25 of the first quarter but had four scoring drives of less than a minute and another of 73 seconds en route to a 49-5 halftime lead. The Buckeyes' offense was aided by a blocked punt, an interception and two fumble recoveries.

      The game was called with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter because of inclement weather.

      No. 8 Auburn 28, No. 17 Texas A&M 20

      The Tigers' defense stifled the Aggies until late in the game, and their offense did just enough to earn a victory in a matchup of Southeastern Conference West Division title hopefuls in College Station, Texas.

      Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC) managed only 299 yards in total offense and gave up 391 to Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1), but only 56 of that total came on the ground.

      Quarterback Bo Nix was 12-of-20 passing for only 100 yards and got a big first down that allowed the Tigers to run out the clock after the Aggies got within one score. A&M quarterback Kellen Mond directed the Aggies to two touchdowns and a field goal in the fourth quarter. He finished 11-for-15 passing in the quarter and finished 31 of 49 for 335 yards.

      No. 9 Florida 34, Tennessee 3

      Florida quarterback Kyle Trask made the most of his first start in seven years, passing for 293 yards and two touchdowns as the Gators rolled to an easy win over the Volunteers in Gainesville, Fla.

      Trask, a redshirt junior whose last start was as a freshman at Texas' Manvel High School in 2012, finished 20-of-28 passing and threw scores to tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Freddie Swain.

      The Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) forced four turnovers against their SEC East foe -- three interceptions and a fumble. Florida has won three straight over Tennessee (1-3, 0-1) and 14 of the past 15 meetings.

      No. 12 Texas 36, Oklahoma State 30

      Sam Ehlinger passed for 281 yards and four touchdowns, and Keaontay Ingram ran for a career-high 114 yards as the Longhorns ended a five-game home losing streak to the Cowboys, winning the Big 12 opener for both teams.

      Ehlinger hit on 20 of 28 passes for Longhorns (3-1, 1-0), with Devin Duvernay leading a group of seven Texas receivers with a career-high-tying 12 catches for 108 yards. Ehlinger's 29-yard scramble of third down with 1:02 to play cemented the game for Texas. He had 70 rushing yards on 10 carries.

      Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders threw for 268 yards and ran for 109 more, while the Cowboys' Chuba Hubbard, who entered the game as the nation's leading runner, managed 121 on 37 carries. Wideout Tylan Wallace, the nation's leading receiver, was held to 83 yards on five catches for Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1).

      Pittsburgh 35, No. 15 UCF 34

      Quarterback Kenny Pickett caught the winning touchdown pass on a trick play with 59 seconds remaining as the host Panthers ended the Knights' 27-game regular-season winning streak.

      Trailing 34-28 on fourth-and-2 at the UCF 3, Pitt (2-2) snapped the ball to running back A.J. Davis, who handed the ball on an end around to wide receiver Aaron Mathews. Mathews then tossed a short, game-tying score to Pickett, who had gone in motion and ran into the end zone. Alex Kessman's point-after capped the 12-play, 79-yard drive.

      Pitt's defense forced two sacks on the ensuing series, and the clock ran out on UCF (3-1), which had rallied from a 21-0 deficit to lead 31-21 in the third quarter.

      No. 16 Oregon 21, Stanford 6

      Justin Herbert threw for three touchdowns while the Ducks' defense shut down the Cardinal to grind out a win at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.

      Herbert completed 19 of 24 passes for 259 yards in an efficient performance as Oregon (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) won its conference opener while sending reeling Stanford (1-3, 0-2) to its third straight loss. The Ducks played a near-flawless game, committing no turnovers and only two penalties for 30 yards.

      The Cardinal managed just 234 total yards and 13 first downs against a defense that has ceded only 15 points over the last three games. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello, who injured his right thumb in the first half, stayed in the game but completed only 16 of 30 passes for 120 yards with an interception.

      UCLA 67, No. 19 Washington State 63

      The Bruins rallied from a 32-point, second-half deficit behind 564 total yards and seven total touchdowns from quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to stun the Cougars in Pullman, Wash.

      UCLA (1-3, 1-0 Pac-12) fell behind 49-17 at the 6:52 mark of the third quarter on the seventh of Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon's program-record nine touchdown passes. That set the scene for an incredible flurry that saw the Bruins take the lead, relinquish it, then regain it for good in the final minutes.

      UCLA scored four touchdowns in a span of 4:20 to get within three, then fell behind by 10 again before scoring consecutive touchdowns to take a 60-56 lead. The Cougars and Bruins then traded touchdowns, the latter a 15-yarder to Demetric Felton with 1:07 left that proved to be the game winner. Washington State fumbled on its final two drives, setting up Felton's score and then sealing its fate.

      No. 21 Virginia 28, Old Dominion 17

      The Cavaliers rallied from an early 17-point deficit against the upset-minded Monarchs to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2004 with a victory in a non-conference game at Charlottesville, Va.

      Arizona State transfer Bryce Perkins completed 15 of 24 passes for 175 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown strike to Joe Reed with 7:33 left in regulation, to lead the Cavaliers to the comeback win. Perkins ran for 35 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown.

      Virginia's defense also came on strong in the second half, limiting Old Dominion to 46 total yards. The Cavaliers had 11 tackles for loss, including six sacks, in the game. Linebacker Charles Snowden finished with a career-high 15 tackles with 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks.

      No. 22 Washington 45, BYU 19

      Jacob Eason completed 24 of 28 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns as the Huskies passed their first road test of the season in a non-conference game in Provo, Utah.

      Washington (3-1) was without leading rusher Salvon Ahmed, who didn't make the trip because of a lower leg injury. Sean McGrew and Richard Newton split the carries in Ahmed's absence, with McGrew rushing for a game-high 103 yards on 18 attempts and Newton adding 80 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushes.

      BYU (2-2), which upset the Pac-12's Southern California in overtime last week, was led by Zach Wilson, who completed 26 of 42 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars managed just 79 rushing yards.

      No. 23 California 28, Ole Miss 20

      Quarterback Chase Garbers set career highs with 357 yards passing and four touchdown passes, and the Golden Bears held off a late Rebels comeback engineered by true freshman John Rhys Plumlee in Oxford, Miss.

      Garbers completed 23 of 35 passes with one interception while leading Cal (4-0) to four touchdown drives of 70 yards or longer and 433 yards of total offense. Linebacker Evan Weaver recorded 22 tackles, including a key one on the final play.

      Plumlee's completion to Elijah Moore moved the ball six inches from the goal line with nine seconds left. But the Rebels (2-2) were out of timeouts, and Plumlee was stopped short of the goal line by Weaver on a hurried final play as time expired.

      Colorado 34, No. 24 Arizona State 31

      Quarterback Steven Montez passed for 337 yards and three touchdowns, all three scores to wide receiver Tony Brown, and James Stefanou made a 44-yard field goal with 2:03 remaining as the Buffaloes upset the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 opener for both teams in Tempe, Ariz.

      Brown had nine receptions for 150 yards, career highs, as were the three touchdowns. Alex Fontenot rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown for the Buffaloes (3-1), who scored three more points in the first half (24) than Arizona State had given up in its first three games.

      True freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels completed 24 of 39 passes for 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Eno Benjamin rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils (3-1), who have lost three of the last four in the series. Daniels set career highs in attempts, completions and yards.

      SMU 41, No. 25 TCU 38

      Shane Buechele passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score as the Mustangs held on for the upset in the Battle for the Iron Skillet in Fort Worth, Texas.

      TCU (2-1) took over at the SMU 41 with 2:35 left in the game, but the Horned Frogs turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass from Max Duggan on fourth-and-3. Duggan, a true freshman who made his first start, was 16 of 36 for 188 yards and three TDs, all in the second half.

      SMU is 4-0 for the first time since 1984 and snapped a seven-game losing streak to TCU. Buechele was 23 of 34 with an interception. Reggie Roberson Jr. caught four passes for 122 yards.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ole Miss AD criticizes Pac-12 officiating after loss
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 21, 2019

    Ole Miss interim athletic director Keith Carter said he was "extremely disappointed" with a Pac-12 officiating crew after the Rebels came up inches short of the goal line in a 28-20 home loss to No. 23 California on Saturday.

    • Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee completed a 41-yard pass to Demarcus Gregory to put the ball on the Cal 10-yard line in the final minute, and Plumlee's third-down completion to Elijah Moore moved the ball six inches from the goal line with nine seconds left.

      The Rebels were out of timeouts, and Plumlee was stopped short of the goal line by linebacker Evan Weaver on a hurried final play as time expired. A replay upheld the ruling.

      Carter contended that the third-down play should have been reviewed.

      "We are extremely disappointed with the officiating at the end of the game and are expecting a full explanation from the PAC-12 regarding the call and subsequent non-review of the 3rd down play," he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

      "We feel strongly that the play should been reviewed by the PAC-12 officials in the review booth. Even if the play didn't result in a touchdown, the spot of the ball on 4th down was questionable."

      The Pac-12 admitted an officiating error at the end of Arizona State's 10-7 victory at Michigan State last week.

      With new transparency policies put in place this summer, the league last Sunday released a statement and three-minute video, narrated by Pac-12's Vice President of Officiating David Coleman, pointing out that Arizona State should have been penalized when a player illegally leaped over the line of scrimmage to try to block a last-second field-goal attempt, which missed.

      --Field Level Media

  • Indiana LT Cronk carted off with leg injury
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 21, 2019

    Indiana senior left tackle Coy Cronk was carted off the field Saturday during the first quarter against Connecticut with an apparent leg injury.

    • Cronk has made 39 career starts for the Hoosiers, dating back to his freshman season.

      With Cronk out, redshirt sophomore Caleb Jones moved from right tackle to left tackle with redshirt senior DaVondre Love taking over at right tackle.

      --Field Level Media

  • LSU reinstates RG Ingram after charges dismissed
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 21, 2019

    Suspended LSU right guard Ed Ingram has been reinstated to the team after two counts of aggravated sexual assault were dismissed in Texas on Friday.

    • "Our whole team and our LSU family welcomes Ed Ingram back," said head coach Ed Orgeron in a statement.

      "He is an outstanding football player, an integral part of our football team and family and we are excited to have him back with us."

      Ingram was arrested on Aug. 2 on warrants issued by police in his hometown of DeSoto, Texas, according to the Dallas County Sheriff's office. He was suspended by LSU the following day.

      He was released from jail after posting $40,000 bond.

      According to multiple reports, Ingram had been reported to police in August 2017 by Child Protective Services for alleged incidents that occurred while he was a juvenile, and the victim in the case was a minor.

      Ingram started the final 12 games of last season as a freshman.

      He won't play for the Tigers at Vanderbilt on Saturday but will be available to return after the upcoming bye week. LSU's next game is against Utah State on Oct. 5.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ex-Buckeyes great 'Hopalong' Cassady dies at 85
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    Former Ohio State star Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, the 1955 Heisman Trophy winner, died Friday morning in Tampa, Fla., the school announced. He was 85.

    • Cassady played halfback for the Buckeyes from 1952-55. He also played baseball for the Buckeyes and later worked 40 years for the New York Yankees.

      The Columbus, Ohio, native left Ohio State as the school's career leader in rushing yardage, all-purpose yardage and scoring. Primarily a defensive back, Cassady played nine NFL seasons, seven with the Detroit Lions, with whom he won the 1957 league championship.

      Legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes said Cassady was "the most inspirational player I've ever seen."

      Cassady earned his nickname as a freshman in 1952, when he came off the bench to score three touchdowns against Indiana. Ohio sportswriters labeled him in a reference to fictional performing cowboy Hopalong Cassidy.

      Cassady, whose No. 40 was retired by Ohio State in 2000, scored 37 touchdowns in 36 games with the Buckeyes and was named All-America in 1954 and 1955. He finished third in the Heisman voting as a junior, when he led Ohio State to Hayes' first national title.

      After meeting former Yankees owner and fellow Ohioan George Steinbrenner through their association with the U.S. Air Force, Cassady worked as a conditioning coach, scout and special instructor for the Yankees. At one time, he even coached with the team's Triple-A affiliate in Columbus.

      Cassidy was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He and his wife, Barbara, retired near Tampa, the Yankees' spring training home.

      --Field Level Media

  • Houston QB King runs, passes past Tebow into record book
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 20, 2019

    The Tulane Green Wave scored a last-second touchdown to knock off visiting Houston 38-31 in New Orleans on Thursday night, but not before Cougars quarterback D'Eriq King etched his name into the FBS record book.

    • King, a senior, threw for two touchdowns within the game's first 15:17, and then scored one of his own less than a minute and a half later, giving him 15 straight games with both rushing and passing touchdowns in the same game.

      The previous record was 14, which he shared with Tim Tebow, who as a sophomore won a Heisman Trophy for the Florida Gators in 2007.

      King's first passing touchdown came on the game's first play from scrimmage, a 75-yard pass play to wide receiver Marquez Stevenson. Just 17 seconds into the second quarter, King hooked up with Keith Corbin for a 28-yard touchdown pass.

      A Tulane fumble gave Houston the ball back on the Green Wave's 35-yard line, and after King threw a pair of incomplete passes, he went the distance for the record-setting touchdown run.

      King finished with 116 yards rushing on 17 carries, and 229 yards passing on 16 of 33 completions with one interception.

      Tebow began his streak in the final game of the 2006 season, and encompassed all 13 games of the 2007 season.

      --Field Level Media

  • A&M RB Jackson (neck) unlikely to play again
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    Texas A&M running back Vernon Jackson's neck injury likely will keep him from playing football again, coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed.

    • Jackson's diagnosis hasn't been released, but he shared on social media in April that the injury occurred in practice and was career-threatening. The Aggies announced over the summer that Jackson would miss the 2019 season.

      Speaking Wednedsday night on his radio show, Fisher said Jackson will remain on scholarship and serve as a student assistant.

      "He wanted to be in coaching," Fisher said per The Dallas Morning News. "He's a tremendous human being. We wanted him to be a part of our team. He's become a student coach and learning all the things you got to be to do that."

      Jackson, a sophomore, was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2018. He appeared in 12 games for the Aggies last season, primarily on special teams, and gained 49 yards on seven carries.

      --Field Level Media

  • UCLA AD Guerrero to retire in June 2020
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero will retire in June, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

    • Guerrero, 68, has been the AD at his alma mater since 2002.

      The Bruins have won 32 NCAA championships in his tenure, but have struggled lately in the marquee programs of football and men's basketball. UCLA has missed two of the last four NCAA Tournaments in basketball and hasn't posted a winning season in football since 2015.

      The University of California Regents voted Thursday to extend Guerrero's contract from December 2019 until his retirement on June 30, 2020, the newspaper reported.

      --Field Level Media

  • Saban: 5-star recruit 'basically quit' on Alabama
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 19, 2019

    Alabama's Nick Saban says former five-star recruit Antonio Alfano "basically quit" on the Crimson Tide.

    • "I just know that the guy basically quit. He quit going to class, he quit coming here (football complex)," the coach said Wednesday. "We tried to encourage him, we tried to help him. We set up counseling sessions with him to help him every way we could, and all those things are still available to him if he wants them. But he didn't respond to any of the things. So until he responds, you have to assume the guy quit."

      A true freshman, Alfano has not practiced with the team since Sept. 3, two days before Alabama's 62-10 win against New Mexico State.

      The Colonia, N.J., native was suspended for an undisclosed reason for that game and was not on the sideline.

      Last week, Alfano's parents posted a series of tweets to clarify their son's situation and announced that he had requested to enter the NCAA transfer portal.

      "Antonio's grandmother recently fell very ill and is still fighting on life support. He is very close with her. Since this illness took effect, Antonio has taken it very hard. He has not attended classes and practices," read one tweet.

      The 247Sports composite listed the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Alfano as the No. 5 player in the 2019 recruiting class and the No. 1 strongside defensive end. The Crimson Tide's 2019 class was ranked No. 1 overall.

      --Field Level Media

  • HBO tabs 4 schools for new all-access series
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 18, 2019

    Arizona State, Florida, Penn State and Washington State will be featured in a Hard Knocks-style college football four-part series on HBO beginning in October, the network announced Wednesday.

    • The series, called 24/7 College Football, will focus on the school's head coaches -- Arizona State's Herm Edwards, Florida's Dan Mullen, Penn State's James Franklin and Washington State's Mike Leach, but will also include their assistants and players throughout a week during the regular season.

      "For many years, we have been enamored with the storylines and unrivaled traditions of college football, and we're excited for the opportunity to expand the 24/7 franchise into the realm of college sports," HBO Sports executive producer Rick Bernstein said, in part, in a statement. "Viewers will feel the tremendous electricity of some of the best atmospheres in the country, and see the meticulous preparation and challenges facing these programs in the build-up to gameday and during the game action."

      Washington State confirmed the relationship in mid-August on Twitter, writing, "This should be fun! Coming Soon: The Cougs on HBO."

      The colorful Leach told his players to do their best to pretend the cameras weren't rolling when HBO crews were reportedly in Pullman, Wash., in August.

      "It's all right. Just ignore them," he said, via the team's YouTube channel. "They want a genuine look and we're not going to get our work done unless we effectively ignore one another."

      Florida will open what is described as an "all-access college football series" on Oct. 2, ahead of its Sept. 28 game against Towson. The Gators will be followed by Penn State (Oct. 9), before a game against Purdue; Arizona State (Oct. 16) prior to the Sun Devils facing Washington State; and the Cougars (Oct. 23) before their matchup with Colorado.

      Actor Liev Schreiber will narrate the series.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Alabama DL Ray could return in November
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 18, 2019

    Alabama starting defensive end LaBryan Ray, who underwent surgery Tuesday for an ankle/foot injury, could return later in the season, perhaps in time to play against LSU, AL.com reported.

    • Coach Nick Saban said Monday that Ray would be out for an "undetermined" period.

      If Ray were to be ready for the Nov. 9 showdown against LSU that would mean he would miss five games, starting Saturday against visiting Southern Miss. The second-ranked Crimson Tide then play Ole Miss, at Texas A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas.

      Ray, a junior and first-year starter, suffered the injury during Saturday's win at South Carolina. He has nine tackles, including 1 1/2 for loss, and a sack this season.

      True freshman Justin Eboigbe has been listed as Ray's backup. He could become the second true freshman on the Alabama defensive front, joining nose guard DJ Dale.

      --Field Level Media

  • Colorado State QB Hill tears ACL for third time
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    Colorado State quarterback Collin Hill has suffered a torn left ACL for the third time since 2016 and is out for the rest of the season, coach Mike Bobo said Tuesday.

    • Hill was hit on the knee in the third quarter of Saturday's 55-34 loss at Arkansas. Nebraska transfer Patrick O'Brien replaced Hill and completed 7 of 10 passes for 106 yards and one touchdown.

      O'Brien is likely to start for the Rams (1-2) when they host Toledo on Saturday, with sophomore Justice McCoy also competing in practice.

      Hill, a redshirt junior, suffered a torn ACL midway through his freshman season in 2016, when he played in five games, starting four. He redshirted in 2017, then sustained the same injury in March 2018 while playing basketball.

      He returned in time to play in the second game of last season and eventually started the final four games. He completed 119 of 202 passes for 1,387 yards, with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, for the season.

      Hill was off to a good start this year, with 840 passing yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.

      "It's tough. It's tough," Bobo said after Saturday's game. "The kid is special ... you know, special. Got his knee hurt, he comes back out there, he's got a headset on, he's encouraging. I mean, he's a special kid. He's made up of the right stuff."

      --Field Level Media

  • Perfect thus far, No. 19 Washington State hosts winless UCLA
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    UCLA visits No. 19 Washington State on Saturday at Martin Stadium in Pullman for the Pac-12 opener for both teams, and the contrast in their current trajectories couldn't be starker.

    • The host Cougars (3-0) came into 2019 fresh off their best season in history, winning a program-best 11 games in 2018. They lost some key pieces from that outstanding team, most notably quarterback Gardner Minshew and offensive tackle Andre Dillard -- both of whom made their NFL debuts in the past two weeks -- but Washington State continues to roll.

      The Cougars finished a perfect nonconference slate last Friday with a 31-24 win at Houston that played out more dominantly than the final score indicated. In a game played in NRG Stadium -- home of the Houston Texans -- Washington State held the opposing Cougars to just a field goal for the first 28 minutes of the second half, building a two-touchdown lead behind the play of quarterback Anthony Gordon.

      A longtime reserve, Gordon won the quarterback job in fall camp. His 36-of-48 passing performance that accounted for 440 yards and three touchdowns paced the win. At 1,324 yards through three games, Gordon leads the nation in passing -- and continues the program's string of standout quarterbacks, following Minshew and Luke Falk, both of whom made their NFL debuts this season.

      "There's always room for improvement," Gordon said in his news conference following the Houston win. "Gotta eliminate the negative plays. Houston was a great opponent, and we've got a lot more great opponents coming down the road."

      The Cougars' next opponent, UCLA (0-3), travels to Pullman for the first time since 2016. It's the first meeting between the two programs since Chip Kelly arrived as Bruins head coach before last season.

      Kelly's second nonconference season concluded last week in the same fashion as his first -- with UCLA going 0-3. The Bruins trailed wire-to-wire in a 48-14 rout to No. 5 Oklahoma.

      In a previous Pac-12 stint at Oregon, Kelly's offenses ranked among the most potent in the nation -- if not the most prolific. But the Week 3 loss marked the third straight game this season in which UCLA scored just 14 points.

      "There are times where we've put together some pretty good drives, where we've gone up and down the field," Kelly said following the Oklahoma game. "But we are just too inconsistent as a group to sustain, and that is what we've got to work on."

      While Washington State hums along at 49.3 points per game through the first three contests -- ninth-best in the nation -- UCLA's 14-point per game average ranks No. 127 out of 130 FBS programs.

      "The first three weeks being against three tough opponents, and they all gave us a really good test and really good looks," quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said. "That will prepare us to go into next week against a really good Washington State team."

      In an interesting twist, Alex Grinch coordinated the Oklahoma defense that UCLA saw in Week 3. Grinch was at Washington State from 2015-17, implementing a speed-over-size approach that transformed the Cougars from one of the Pac-12's worst defenses to one of its best.

      His successor, Tracy Claeys, brought on his own tweaks. The fundamental principles of frequent shifts on the line and stunts from linebackers and defensive backs are similar, however.

      Versatile linebacker Jahad Woods keys a Cougars defense holding opponents to 16 points per game through the first three outings.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 23 Cal brings stout defense to Ole Miss
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    No. 23 California has ridden an aggressive defense to its highest national ranking in four seasons.

    • The question now facing the Bears is this: Can they generate enough offense to improve to 4-0 for the first time in five years when they play at Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford?

      "Our guys play hard, the effort is really good, and we've set a standard for how hard and tough we have to play," said California coach Justin Wilcox, in his third season. "Now the level of execution has to match that for us to do what we want to do.

      "That's the biggest thing, because we are not there yet."

      Cal has played its best against the best this season, scoring 17 points in the second half of a 20-19 victory over then-No. 14 Washington in Seattle two weeks ago, a win that could have a big impact when sorting out the Pac-12 North.

      The Bears rank 14th in the FBS passing efficiency defense with a group that includes linebacker Evan Weaver and a secondary that returned four starters from a defense that had 21 interceptions -- second in the nation -- a year ago. Weaver has double-digit tackles in each of the past 10 games.

      The offense has yet to take off, however. The Bears are averaging 23.3 points a game, which ranks 95th among the 130 FBS programs. Their 350.7 yards of total offense ranks 99th.

      "We have to play a lot better. It starts with me," said Cal quarterback Chase Garbers. "I have to put balls in the right spot."

      Garbers completed 9 of 22 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a team-high 70 yards in a 23-17 victory over North Texas last week, when Cal scored the first 20 points and held on. Christopher Brown Jr. had a career-high 197 rushing yards in the season opener against UC Davis, but he was unavailable in the fourth quarter last week.

      Ole Miss (2-1) has scored 71 points while winning two in a row after a season-opening 15-10 loss to Memphis, and it might have found another weapon to go with quarterback Matt Corral and running back Scottie Phillips.

      That would be freshman halfback Jerrion Ealy, who had 95 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine carries and also returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in last week's 40-29 victory over Southeastern Louisiana.

      "He showed up on returns. He showed up running the football," said Ole Miss coach Matt Luke.

      Corral has completed 46 of 73 passes for 578 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception. Phillips has 308 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

      "Excited about this opportunity, a chance to have a Top 25 team come in," Luke said. "When you watch them on tape, the first thing that jumps out is how good and physical they are on defense."

      The game will have a somewhat familiar feel. Luke hired a pair of Pac-12 veterans in former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and former Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre after last season to coordinate the offense and defense, respectively.

      Ole Miss has gone back to basics on offense and has run the ball 65 percent of the time under Rodriguez, and the defense is allowing 16 fewer points and 117 fewer yards per game than last season.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 24 Arizona State looks to stay humble against Colorado
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    No. 24 Arizona State was here a year ago, earning a Top 25 ranking after an upset victory over Michigan State in its previous game.

    • This time, the Sun Devils know better than to get overconfident.

      Losses in the next two games and four of five followed, and coach Herm Edwards plans to emphasize the lessons learned from that skid as the Sun Devils prepare to host Colorado in the Pac-12 opener for both teams Saturday night.

      "Last year, similar spot -- had some success, got our nose punched in," Edwards said. "All the warning signs are there. We'll find out. Last year, we didn't listen to it. It went to deaf ears."

      Arizona State (3-0) has built its early-season success on mistake-free play from true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels and a stifling defense that has limited opponents to 21 points, one touchdown in each game, which ranks second in the FBS in average points per game.

      Colorado (2-1) is attempting to bounce back from a 30-23 overtime loss to Air Force, its second consecutive overtime game. Colorado scored 14 points in the final 6:09 to send the Air Force game into overtime but could not convert a fourth-down pass play on the final possession.

      The Buffaloes have been outscored 37-10 in the first half of the last two games, when the offense behind quarterback Steven Montez did not click until late. They scored 24 points in the fourth quarter of a 34-31 overtime victory over Nebraska two weeks ago, tying the game on a Montez touchdown pass with 46 seconds remaining.

      "Not to get into specifics, but we need more consistency in our performance and we need better execution," Colorado coach Mel Tucker said. "It really drills down to details."

      Montez has completed 67 of 104 passes for 827 yards, with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Top target Laviska Shenault Jr. has 16 receptions for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He scored all four touchdowns in the Buffs' 28-21 victory over Arizona State in Boulder last season, two rushing and two receiving.

      "You better be ready for him," Edwards said. "You know in big moments, they are going to find a way to get him the ball."

      Daniels, the first true freshman to start the season opener for the Sun Devils since freshman were granted eligibility in 1972, has completed 47 of 77 passes for three touchdowns without an interception. He also has rushed for 75 yards and a score, and his 15-yard run on fourth-and-13 set up halfback Eno Benjamin's game-winning 1-yard scoring run with 50 seconds left for a 7-3 victory at Michigan State last week.

      Benjamin, who rushed for 1,642 yards last season, has 209 yards on 57 carries this season, a 3.7-yard average. Arizona State reconfigured its offensive line last week to include two freshmen.

      Michigan State had 404 yards total offense to Arizona State's 216, but the Spartans missed three field goals, the last a 47-yarder in the final seconds. The Pac-12 later admitted its officiating crew missed what would have been a leaping penalty on ASU's Cam Phillips on the last kick, which would have given the Spartans one more chance.

      "We need to start scoring points if we are going to be competitive going through this Pac-12 gauntlet of teams we are going to play," Edwards said.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 3 Georgia expects madhouse when No. 7 Notre Dame visits
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    There have been countless big games hosted over the years in the long, storied history of Sanford Stadium, home of the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs.

    • However, it's difficult to find one anticipated more than Saturday night's contest, when No. 7 Notre Dame comes to Athens for the first time.

      Not only does the contest feature a matchup of Top 10 teams, but it's a game that has grabbed the attention of the college football world.

      ESPN's College GameDay will be in attendance while Georgia officials are bracing for record crowds, with some projections calling for as many fans showing up without tickets as will be inside the 95,000-seat-plus Sanford Stadium.

      For Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, keeping his team focused is job No. 1.

      "We don't really get into the exterior forces," Smart said. "What's going on outside, I mean you can think it's going to affect our guys, but it's really not supposed to. We're really playing the opponent that lines up across from us, and we even talk about playing ourselves more than anything.

      "I know our guys will be excited to play. I know it will be an awesome atmosphere. Our fans never fail when it comes to support and being there. It'll be a record crowd with the additional seats. But after that it's going to come down to football, and that's what it always boils down to, who can block and tackle."

      For Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly, it's an opportunity to rid some recent demons. Despite last season's trip to the College Football Playoffs, the Irish have not beaten a Top 10 team away from South Bend since beating No. 8 Oklahoma on the road 30-13 in 2012.

      However, it's not the atmosphere that has Kelly concerned. Rather, it's the talent his Notre Dame squad (2-0) will be facing -- on both sides of the ball.

      And it all starts with Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm.

      "He's efficient," Kelly said. " =He's unflappable. You can pressure him, and he doesn't panic. He makes great decisions. He's sound with the ball.

      "Generally, look, when you get down to the really great teams, you're going to get Trevor Lawrence. You're going to get, you know, you're going to get the great quarterbacks that are the reason why they start to separate. Fromm is one of those guys that gets you to start to separate."

      Defensively, Georgia (3-0) has Kelly's attention, as well.

      The Bulldogs have allowed just one touchdown to opposing offenses in three games, although Notre Dame is certainly a step up from the Bulldogs' three opponents thus far of Vanderbilt, Murray State and Arkansas State.

      "Again, probably not telling anybody here what you haven't seen. It is all true. It is all true," Kelly said. "We have seen some really great defenses over the last three years but haven't had the kind of depth that they have."

      Smart said his team is ready for the challenge that the Irish will present.

      "There's been a lot of big games and I think that's what is great for the kids," Smart said. "You don't have a ton of Top-10 matchups maybe the caliber of this one, but there's a lot of Top 25 matches we've played in this stadium.

      "So, it's a great opportunity for our program to be on the national stage. It's a great opportunity."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 12 Texas looks to exorcise Oklahoma State demons
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    If you are looking for offensive fireworks in your college football diet on Saturday night, the dustup between No. 12 Texas and unbeaten Oklahoma State should be whetting your appetite.

    • The teams will square off in Austin, Texas, in the Big 12 opener for both, and there will be plenty on the line -- even this early in the season.

      Texas hasn't defeated the Cowboys at home since 2008, losing five straight in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and seven of the past nine games overall against Oklahoma State.

      And despite the fact that the Longhorns (2-1) are the team that's ranked in The Associated Press poll, their return to being one of the nation's elite teams is still in question.

      The Longhorns shellacked Rice 48-13 last Saturday in Houston, producing a nearly perfect game through the first three quarters in building a 38-0 lead. Still, Texas coach Tom Herman was quick to point out that there was plenty to be addressed from that win.

      "You don't always have to learn from mistakes; you can learn from things that you did well," Herman said.

      "You know, if you're good at something, enhance it, if you're not good at something, figure out a way to fix it. The good thing is I haven't seen the same mistake over and over again; we just need to keep coaching every technique and scenario."

      The Cowboys (3-0) are locked and loaded, with the nation's leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard (173.3 yards per game), a preseason All-America wide receiver in Tylan Wallace (the only wideout in the nation with three catches for 60 yards or more this season) and dual-threat quarterback Spencer Sanders, a redshirt freshman.

      Herman, with a grin, compared dealing with Oklahoma State's offense to the dire, end-of-the-world situation in the movie "Armageddon."

      "Scariest environment imaginable. That's all you have to say: Scariest environment imaginable," Herman said, quoting a line from the movie. "It's going to be a challenge, for sure, but you can't sell your soul, I guess, to stop one, because they're so proficient in the other that you've got to be sound."

      Oklahoma State has won four consecutive games dating to last season, the latest being a 40-21 victory over Tulsa last Saturday.

      Hubbard was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after gaining 256 yards on 32 carries against Tulsa. He had a 75-yard touchdown run on the first snap of the game and later added scores from 30 and 33 yards.

      Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said the Cowboys' supporting cast has helped Sanders immensely. He is 43 of 64 passing for 622 yards, with seven touchdowns and one interception. Sanders also has 219 yards on the ground.

      "It helps that we've got guys who can support Spencer -- huge for a young quarterback, we all know that," Gundy said.

      "If you go out with an immature, young offensive line, you get beat around a little bit. If you don't have skills to go to on the perimeter, it makes it even more difficult. Spencer just needs to stay in his world, play his game and distribute the ball based on what our coaches think is best."

      Gundy said it's a battle to keep players on an even keel heading into big games like the one against Texas, but that goal is helped by sticking to the same approach each week.

      "Our approach has to be the same," Gundy said. "With 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23-year-olds, we are trying to keep them focused on the task at hand. There are other distractions going on more so than ever in society today. We try to get better every day and try to get better every week."

      Oklahoma State is the only college football team to win five straight games in Austin. Only one other squad has won four straight over Texas in Austin -- Notre Dame, which did so over a span of 83 years by picking up victories in 1913, 1915, 1952 and 1996.

      --Field Level Media

  • BYU eyes payback against No. 22 Washington
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    The Brigham Young football team hasn't forgotten its trip to Seattle last season.

    • The Cougars were ranked No. 20 at the time but suffered a 35-7 defeat to Washington and dropped out of the polls, never to return. The rematch is Saturday in Provo, Utah, with BYU having a chance to knock the No. 22 Huskies out of the rankings.

      "That was a great learning experience for us last year and we are looking to see how much we learned from that and how much we learned from last week's (30-27 overtime victory against No. 24 USC) and seeing how we match up," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.

      The Huskies graduated four-year starters in quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin from last year's squad, but they are 2-1.

      "I mean, there are a lot of returning players, but there are a lot of different pieces to it," Sitake said.

      "I have a lot of respect for coach (Chris) Petersen because he can get that group ready. That's what they do; guys graduate and get drafted, and then they bring more guys in and it is like they don't even miss a beat."

      Since a season-opening loss to rival Utah, the Cougars (2-1) have rebounded with victories at Tennessee and against USC.

      "That Tennessee game they came back out of nowhere and got it done. Little bit of the 'SC thing as well," Petersen said.

      Jake Oldroyd's 43-yard field goal in overtime gave BYU a 30-27 victory against the Trojans.

      Zach Wilson led the Cougars, completing 20 of 33 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown.

      Sophomore receiver Gunner Romney, who had three catches for 54 yards against USC, said last year's game against Washington provides "huge motivation."

      "I mean, you always want to prove yourself against everybody, but especially against the team that got the better of you the year before," Romney said. "You have that extra motivation to come out and work hard because you don't want to have it happen again. ... We want to be able to come out on top this year."

      Ty'Son Williams, who rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown against USC, said the Cougars practiced the "24-hour rule" after last Saturday's victory.

      "You celebrate it, you enjoy the victory, but once Monday comes around you are ready to get back to work," said Williams, a graduate transfer from South Carolina who has a team-best 236 yards. "College football is a one-week season."

      The Huskies know that feeling. After opening with a victory against Eastern Washington, they suffered a 20-19 loss at home against California in a game that didn't end until 1:30 a.m. because of a 2 1/2-hour weather delay.

      Washington bounced back with a 52-20 victory against Hawaii as Jacob Eason completed 18 of 25 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns, and Richard Newton added three short TD runs.

      Senior safety Myles Bryant had four tackles, two interceptions and a sack to be named the Pac-12 Conference's Defensive Player of the Week.

      The Huskies will be making their first road trip of the season.

      "There's no place like home for sure, but it'll be good," Petersen said. "It's exciting, first time to go on the road in a really cool venue, really good opponent, all those things. So we're excited."

      Petersen downplayed his team having to play at altitude -- Provo is 4,550 feet above sea level.

      "That's never bothered us," Petersen said. "Maybe kickers like it more. Other than that I don't think it impacts anything."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 15 UCF rolls into Pitt behind freshman QB
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    In its never-ending pursuit for national credibility, UCF and its electric offense made a major statement at home against Stanford last Saturday.

    • The Knights steamrolled the Cardinal, a consistent Pac-12 power, by scoring on six of their first seven possessions and easing to a 45-27 win in Orlando -- UCF's third win over a Power 5 foe in just over two seasons.

      The No. 15-ranked Knights will get another Power 5 test as they travel to play the Pitt Panthers at Heinz Field on Saturday.

      New starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel and the offense have made it easy for coach Josh Heupel, an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, Utah State and Missouri before taking over in 2018 after coach Scott Frost left for Nebraska.

      The Knights (3-0) have overwhelmed their opposition by a 155-41 margin and scored 30 points or more in 29 straight games -- the longest streak in the college football's top division since 1936.

      Gabriel, a true freshman, passed for 347 yards and four touchdowns last week as UCF led 38-7 at halftime. He is from Hawaii's Mililani High School, which also produced UCF senior quarterback McKenzie Milton, who is sitting out this season because of injury.

      Last season, UCF beat visiting Pitt 45-14 behind a six-touchdown output by Milton (four passing, two rushing) as the home side led 31-7 at the break.

      Through three games, Gabriel ranks fourth nationally in passing efficiency rating (206.6), trailing Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts, LSU's Joe Burrow and fellow Hawaiian Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama.

      "I think you can see the confidence in him from our offensive players and from our entire program, but he's obviously got a ton of confidence as well," Heupel said of Gabriel, who was named the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week.

      Pitt (1-2) has started off slowly in 2019, but the Panthers showed promise with an improved passing attack in last week's 17-10 loss at Penn State.

      The Panthers ranked among the worst passing offenses last season, averaging just 141.8 yards per game to slot them 120th out of 130 FBS schools.

      However, junior quarterback Kenny Pickett and new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple have helped change those numbers.

      Through three contests, Pitt's improved aerial assault has doubled 2018's numbers and then some. The Panthers are tied for 28th nationally in passing with high-powered Texas A&M, averaging 292.7 yards per game.

      Pickett has completed 82 of 129 attempts for 878 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Wide receivers Maurice Ffrench (24 receptions, 235 yards, TD) and Taysir Mack (21-215), and running back A.J. Davis (10-166), have accounted for 55 of Pickett's 82 completions.

      Much of the postgame chatter on Saturday surrounded Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi's decision-making late in the 100th meeting against Penn State.

      Trailing by a touchdown with less than five minutes remaining and the ball at the Penn State 1, Narduzzi opted to attempt a 19-yard field, but Alex Kessman's kicked clanked off the left upright and was no good.

      However, Narduzzi defended his decision at the 1 despite going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Pitt 43 three minutes earlier.

      "You need two scores to win the football game, unless you guys are playing for overtime. We're trying to win the football game," Narduzzi said.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 1 Clemson not taking Charlotte lightly
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    Top-ranked Clemson is a 41-point favorite Saturday in its first-ever game against Charlotte, but the 49ers are assured of being winners regardless of the outcome.

    • "It will be great publicity for our program," Charlotte coach Will Healy told reporters earlier this week. "Playing the No. 1 team in the country at their place at 7:30 on the ACC Network."

      Charlotte also has plenty of financial incentive: the 49ers will return home with a $1 million check in tow.

      As is his custom, Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney spent a good portion of his weekly news conference pumping up the 49ers, who are 2-1 and appear to be vastly improved from last season.

      "This is a team that could embarrass us if we don't have a good week of preparation," Swinney said. "This is a team that won't be overwhelmed. They've been in big stadiums."

      True enough. Charlotte, which is in its seventh season of football, has played a Power 5 opponent each of the last four seasons -- Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas State and Tennessee -- but the highest any of those teams was ranked at the time of the game was No. 19. So Clemson will provide a unique challenge.

      Not only are the Tigers ranked No. 1, they're heavy favorites to win a fifth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title, are the reigning national champions and own the nation's longest active winning streak at 18 games.

      Clemson (3-0) is coming off a 41-6 victory at Syracuse in which the offense rolled up 612 yards. The Tigers' defense was outstanding as well, limiting the Orange to 187 yards and recording 15 tackles for loss, including eight sacks.

      Charlotte, which plays in Conference USA, rolled past Massachusetts last week, 52-17 -- the most points Charlotte has ever scored against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.

      The 49ers have been sparked by running back Benny LeMay, who's averaging 7.6 yards per carry and reminds Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables of Maurice Jones-Drew. Quarterback Chris Reynolds is a dual threat, having passed for 196 yards per game and seven touchdowns while rushing for 141 yards and two scores.

      Defensively, Swinney is impressed by Charlotte end Alex Highsmith, a 6-foot-4, 242-pounder who has 5 1/2 tackles for loss, including four sacks.

      "He's probably the best player we've seen to this point," Swinney said. "He's on all the great player lists. He's disruptive."

      Clemson has been buoyed by the early return of junior wide receiver Amari Rodgers, who suffered a torn ACL in practice in March. He had four receptions for 121 yards against Syracuse, including touchdowns of 16 and 87 yards.

      "We've been explosive," Swinney said. "But we can be more efficient. I want to see us take that next step and be the team that I think we can be."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 21 Virginia meets state foe ODU for first time
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    Only about 160 miles of Interstate 64 separate the schools, but No. 21 Virginia and visiting Old Dominion will meet for the first time on the gridiron Saturday night in Charlottesville, Va.

    • The Cavaliers (3-0) enjoy their highest perch in the polls since 2007 and are seeking their first 4-0 start since 2004. The Monarchs (1-1) joined the FBS and Conference USA in 2014 and are searching for their first road win against a Power 5 opponent.

      This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of ODU's biggest victory to date, a 49-35 home upset of then-No. 13 Virginia Tech in Norfolk, Va.

      The Monarchs are coming off a bye week after putting another scare into the Hokies on Sept. 7. They got within seven points in the fourth quarter before falling 31-17 in Blacksburg, Va.

      Considering Virginia has lost 15 straight meetings to Virginia Tech dating to 2003, Old Dominion's superior success against the Hokies has captured the Cavs' attention. UVA should not be looking ahead to its Sept. 28 showdown at No. 7 Notre Dame.

      "I know there is intrigue because of the in-state matchup and the game versus Virginia Tech a year ago and this year. I think that's a fair assessment to say what this game could look like," said Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall. "That game was close and contested and competitive."

      The Cavaliers are coming off a close and contested 31-24 win over Florida State. Senior Bryce Perkins completed his first 16 passes in the second half and finished 30 of 40 for 295 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore Wayne Taulapapa rushed for three scores.

      Led by senior linebacker Jordan Mack's four sacks, Virginia is tied for second nationally with Clemson and Ohio State with 14 sacks. UVA is 16th in the nation in total defense (261.7 yards per game).

      "I was really hoping when we scheduled this game three years ago that they wouldn't be this good, if I'm being 100 percent truthful," said Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder. "This'll be a major challenge, but it is exciting to go play at UVA, a program I have tremendous respect for."

      Monarchs junior Stone Smartt completed 16 of 30 passes for 122 yards and rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns at Virginia Tech. A junior college All-American last year at California's Riverside City College, he has almost as many rushing attempts (29) as completions (33) this season.

      Practicing against the mobile Perkins in spring practice and fall camp prepared Virginia's defense for the slippery Smartt.

      "You identify (defensive) concepts you like and just simply hold on to those, and when appropriate you pull them back out for a quarterback that might be similar (to Perkins)," Mendenhall said. "I think it certainly helps."

      Virginia's No. 2 quarterback, redshirt freshman Brennan Armstrong, has missed all three games with an undisclosed injury and is day-to-day. Sophomore Lindell Stone and freshman RJ Harvey are the backups.

      The injured list for Old Dominion includes wide receiver Frederik Antoine, offensive lineman Jack Miller III and defensive ends O'Shea Jackson and Sam White Jr.

      --Field Level Media

  • SMU looking for statement win vs. No. 25 TCU
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    No. 25 TCU and Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex rival SMU meet on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas, for the 99th time in the Battle for the Iron Skillet.

    • And though the Horned Frogs have dominated the matchup over the past decade, it's the Mustangs who will sport the better record when the latest dustup kicks off at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

      SMU is 3-0 for the first time since 1984, but TCU has won 17 of the past 19 meetings and carries a seven-game victory streak against the Mustangs into its final non-conference game of the season.

      The Horned Frogs (who had an open date in Week 2) throttled Purdue 34-13 on the road last Saturday to move to 2-0. TCU racked up 346 yards on the ground, with the running back duo of Darius Anderson (a career-high 179 yards and two touchdowns) as "lightning" to Sewo Olonilua's (106 yards and a TD) "thunder."

      "(Darius) and Sewo have exactly what you want in two backs," TCU coach Gary Patterson told the media after the win over Purdue. "One's more the power guy, one's more the slasher, but they both ran really hard. We can do about everything we need to in our offense with both in the ballgame."

      "Two-headed monster," TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Anderson and Olonilua. "You can't stop them."

      Speaking of platooning skilled players, the Horned Frogs have been playing two quarterbacks as well, alternating between true freshman Max Duggan and Kansas State transfer Alex Delton through two games.

      Delton has started both of the Horned Frogs' games this season, but Duggan played the majority of snaps at Purdue.

      "We're still going to have two play," Patterson said. "They're both going to play. You guys ... you're not going to get an answer all year, so that we understand."

      The Horned Frogs are looking to go 3-0 for the 10th time in the Patterson era. TCU is second nationally in total defense, allowing just 209.5 yards per game, and has forced three-and-outs on 60.0 percent (18-of-30) of its opponents' series.

      SMU hasn't defeated the Horned Frogs since 2011, and just twice in 19 games since 1999, with TCU capturing the past six meetings by an average of 31 points. But the Mustangs, buoyed by the play of quarterback Shane Buechele, a transfer from Texas, should pose a much stiffer challenge than in recent years.

      The Mustangs dismantled Texas State 47-17 last week, in the process outgaining the Bobcats 639-241 in total yards. Buechele managed the Ponies' offense well but threw for just 219 yards on 14-of-18 passing and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

      SMU coach Sonny Dykes chose to see Buechele's middling stats as a positive since his senior signal-caller did all the other proper things to lead the Mustangs to the win.

      "It was good for him to kind of have an ugly ball game, know what I mean?" Dykes told reporters. "The quarterback's first job is to help his football team win. To me, 500 yards is a good game passing, and that's not always the best, the truth."

      The Ponies opened the season with wins over Arkansas State, 37-30, and North Texas, 49-27. They step up in class when they face TCU, and Buechele understands he'll have to play better, too.

      "It's important for us to just keep going week by week and try to go and get a win," Buechele said. "It's big for us a program to be 3-0, we like to go 1-0 on this game. If we win every week things will take of themselves."

      The Horned Frogs hold a 51-40-7 edge over the Mustangs in a series that began with a 43-0 TCU win in Fort Worth in 1915. TCU owns a 28-18-5 edge versus the Mustangs in games played in Fort Worth.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 6 Ohio State looks to push around Miami (Ohio)
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin is a realist when it comes to playing at heavily favored No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday.

    • "It's kind of like going to recess and they've got the first 85 picks," he said Monday during the Mid-American Conference teleconference. "None of the kids that were recruited to play for Ohio State were looking at Miami of Ohio, and vice versa.

      "Our kids are excited. Our Midwest kids, our Ohio kids, are excited they get to play in the Shoe (Ohio Stadium)."

      The Buckeyes (3-0) went on the road for the first time last Saturday and blasted Indiana 51-10 in their Big Ten opener. They return to conference play Sept. 28 at Nebraska, but Ohio State coach Ryan Day is not looking past this week's game in Columbus.

      "They've been to tough environments before, so they're not going to be intimidated coming into the Shoe," he said of the RedHawks. "There's several Ohio guys on that team who will be highly motivated coming in here."

      The RedHawks (1-2) can't afford to give up big plays like they did in a 35-13 loss at Cincinnati last Saturday.

      Cincinnati had touchdown passes of 27 and 51 yards and a TD run for 73 -- all in the third quarter.

      "Very frustrating," Martin said. "We gave up some chunk plays on defense that nobody can do, it doesn't matter who you're playing, let alone playing a good team."

      It's an area that the Buckeyes should be able to exploit based on all their speed and skill. Against Indiana, they had 14 plays of 14 yards or more, including a 37-yard TD pass, touchdown runs of 26 and 40 yards, and 96-yard pick-six by cornerback Damon Arnette.

      "They had so many chunk plays on plays that normal teams wouldn't get chunk plays," Martin said. "They turn 8 yards into 80 yards just because of their overall speed."

      Leading the way for Ohio State is sophomore quarterback Justin Fields, who has 13 touchdowns (nine passing and four rushing) in his first season as a Buckeye after transferring from Georgia. Fields said the coaches stressed to him not to be satisfied with what he's done so far.

      "Just because we are winning games don't get complacent, keep working," he said.

      Keying on Fields will be difficult because running back J.K. Dobbins is sixth in the nation with 141.7 rushing yards per game. Wide receivers Binjimen Victor and Chris Olave each average more than 18 yards per catch.

      The Ohio State defense will try to rattle true freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert, brother of Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert. The younger Gabbert was hampered by the loss of three offensive linemen due to injuries in the first half vs. Cincinnati. Martin said he was unsure of their status for this week.

      Despite completing his first six passes, Gabbert was 10 of 18 for 143 yards and was sacked five times. For the season, Gabbert is 37 of 62 for 481 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

      He will face Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who is tied for second nationally with five sacks. The Buckeyes have 14 sacks for 103 yards in losses. Their average of 4.67 sacks per game is tied for second nationally.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 8 Auburn opens SEC play at No. 17 Texas A&M
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    Freshman quarterback Bo Nix faces his first true road test when No. 8 Auburn opens SEC play Saturday at No. 17 Texas A&M.

    • Tigers coach Gus Malzahn hopes the experience Nix gained in a season-opening neutral-site win over Oregon prepared him for what he will experience at a packed Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

      "Although we had more fans than Oregon, it was still an exciting atmosphere and a big game," Malzahn said of the Aug. 31 win in Arlington, Texas. "He has that in his back pocket as far as experience on the road.

      "What we are going to see is us truly on the road at one of the loudest places in our league, so we are going to do a good job preparing for the crowd noise, and we have done that the last three weeks, even when playing at home."

      Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Nix's background could play in his favor. Nix is the son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix and also the grandson of a former coach.

      "I've known Bo for a long time," Fisher said. "Again, his father played for me and was one heck of a football player. Not only that, as a competitor and as a football mind, he's one of the best I've ever been associated with.

      "His dad's a winner. I mean he's a great coach -- he's coached in college, coached in high school -- so he'll have a lot of intangibles in his blood that some other freshmen may not, just from the experiences of being around those things."

      Nix has completed only 52.4 percent of his passes, but he had his most efficient outing last week when he completed 12 of 16 attempts for 161 yards and a touchdown against Kent State. And that was without his top deep threat, receiver Seth Williams.

      Backup quarterback Joey Gatewood was one of three players who ran for more than 100 yards against Kent State. Gatewood gained 102 on 12 carries.

      Williams (shoulder) and two other starters, left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho (leg) and defensive tackle Derrick Brown (upper-body contusion), could return. Williams, who made the catch for the deciding TD in the opening win over Oregon, and Wanogho missed last week's home win. Brown was injured on the opening drive and sat out the rest of that game.

      "We'll see how they're doing," Malzahn said. "I'm not ready to say -- it's still day-to-day -- but they'll be out there, and we'll be evaluating."

      The game between the Tigers (3-0) and Aggies (2-1), whose lone loss came at No. 1 Clemson, could decide who joins LSU as a challenger to SEC West Division favorite Alabama, although Fisher downplayed any "do-or-die" aspect to the matchup.

      "Well, I mean, you set a tone, but you got to reset that tone each and every week," Fisher said of the game's potential impact. "I mean, that's the thing about it. It doesn't matter. It's just one game at a time. It's a conference game, so it's an important game, and it's an intra-division game, so it's an important game.

      "It puts you in a great position if you can have success."

      Texas A&M is led offensively by quarterback Kellen Mond, who has completed 63 of 97 passes for 747 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked five times in last season's 28-24 loss to Auburn, which got the winning touchdown on a pass to Williams in the final two minutes.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 11 Michigan, No. 13 Wisconsin clash in Big Ten opener
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    No. 13 Wisconsin hasn't allowed a point in two games and has given up just 215 total yards.

    • The Badgers, who opened with routs of South Florida and Central Michigan, should get a much sterner test when they host No. 11 Michigan in the Big Ten opener for both teams on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

      "Ever since my time here, nobody really believes in what we do," said inside linebacker Chris Orr, who has eight tackles this season.

      "They downplay the big wins and up play the losses. I'm eager to show the whole nation what we can do (and) show how good we truly are, so we can get some type of respect."

      The Wolverines (2-0) will need to contain several Badgers who didn't compete in Michigan's 38-13 home victory last season, including junior quarterback Jack Coan and junior wide receiver Quintez Cephus.

      Coan ranks 10th nationally with a passing efficiency rating of 184.5, which was bolstered by his effort in Wisconsin's 61-0 win against Central Michigan on Sept. 7. He completed 26 of 33 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns -- all career highs.

      Coan took over this season for Alex Hornibrook, who played three games against Michigan during his Badgers career but transferred to Florida State for his final season of eligibility.

      Cephus was Coan's go-to player through the air during the Central Michigan rout, as Cephus posted career highs of six receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

      The university expelled Cephus last year after he was accused of two counts of sexual assault, but he was reinstated on Aug. 19 after he was found not guilty of the charges. Cephus returned to practice on Aug. 21, and was ruled academically eligible to play by the NCAA two days later.

      Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited Coan to play for the Wolverines, didn't need reminding that Michigan hasn't won in Madison in their past four tries, with its most recent victory coming in 2001.

      Wisconsin and Michigan are coming off bye weeks.

      "Challenge of this game is big," Harbaugh said. "They're just good every year. Seem to be every time you face them. A really talented, veteran well-coached football team.

      "And playing at Camp Randall is a tough venue; that's a tough win to get. Haven't won in four or five tries. This is a big game for us. Big challenge."

      Michigan senior quarterback Shea Patterson and true freshman running back Zach Charbonnet will garner a lot of attention from Wisconsin.

      Patterson, who helped lead Michigan to the 2018 win over Wisconsin, has completed 36 of 58 passes for 410 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions this season. Charbonnet has 41 carries for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Harbaugh said the youngster also has been remarkable in picking up pass protection.

      "It's eye-catching with Zach Charbonnet because it just looks like it comes easy to him. It's like difficult math equations that guys just get. And so it catches your attention," Harbaugh said. "Also, I've got to give the running backs coach, Jay Harbaugh, credit there to get it taught to all the backs."

      --Field Level Media