College Football
NCAAF News Wire
  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Students petition for Brandon's ouster at Michigan
    By The Sports Xchange

    Michigan students started a petition this week calling for the ouster of athletic director Dave Brandon in the wake of the football team's missteps.

    • By Tuesday afternoon, the online petition, organized by the Central Student Government, had more than 7,000 signatures from faculty, students and staff.

      They are frustrated not only with the team's performance on the field but with the handling of quarterback Shane Morris' concussion this past weekend.

      Morris sustained a concussion during the Wolverines' 30-14 loss to Minnesota and was sent back into the game after he was examined on the sideline. Coach Brady Hoke and the athletic department didn't acknowledge Morris had suffered a concussion until releasing at statement at 1 a.m. Tuesday apologizing for their mishandling of the situation.

      The athletic department called Morris' return to the field with a head injury a serious lack of communication between the medical and coaching staff.

      Michigan fans also are upset with the team's 2-3 record this season. Students are expressing their dissatisfaction by not attending games.

      An on-campus rally was planned for Tuesday night that will call for Brandon's resignation. The Michigan Daily, the campus newspaper, called for Hoke's dismissal on Monday.

      University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told ESPN that there are no current plans for the board of regents to meet to discuss the matter. The board's next scheduled meeting is Oct. 16.

      Michigan also is taking heat from outside the university. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) called on the Big Ten to investigate the Morris incident. He serves as co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

      "Allowing a possibly concussed player to determine whether or not he is fit to return to play not only violates common sense but is also an egregious violation of standard concussion protocol, including protocol set forth by the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference," Rep. Pascrell told Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany in a letter.

      "I strongly urge you to investigate the circumstances surrounding Shane Morris's injury and the decision to return him to play. Additionally, I ask that you re-examine the protocols in place and determine what changes can be made to improve them. I also urge you to establish penalties for violations of concussion protocols. Every concussion is brain damage and must be diagnosed and treated by appropriate medical personnel, who prioritize players' health, safety, and well-being."

  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Spartans set sights on Big Ten supremacy
    By The Sports Xchange

    EAST LANSING, Mich. -- While there is plenty of focus in the state around issues off the field -- namely rival Michigan's handling of injured quarterback Shane Morris in Saturday's loss -- on the field things are ready to get pretty interesting at Michigan State.

    • With the non-conference portion of the season out of the way, No. 10 Michigan State finally gets down to business in the Big Ten by hosting No. 19 Nebraska. It might be a preview of the conference championship game and will be a chance for the Cornhuskers to atone for what they think was an example of giving away a game last season when the Spartans came away with a 41-28 victory at Nebraska.

      "We saw ourselves beat ourselves, honestly," said Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong, whose only career loss in a game he started came against MSU. "I feel like this year is going to be totally different. We have to take care of the football, run our offense and make sure we make plays."

      Nebraska turned the ball over five times in that game, and multiple giveaways by Armstrong.

      It led to Michigan State's first victory ever over Nebraska, but Huskers coach Bo Pelini didn't want to pin it all on his team’s mistakes.

      "What happened happened," Pelini said. "You can look at it two ways: you can look at it that we gave it to them, or you can look at it from their standpoint that they took it. We need to play better, cleaner, to have a chance to win the football game. I don't want to take away and say we should have won the football game, that's sort of a cop out. They won the football game, we lost, it does not matter how it happened."

      Michigan State will be tasked with slowing the Nebraska running attack which has had its share of success against the Spartans. Last season, Ameer Abdullah ran for 123 yards against Michigan State

      This season, Abdullah has ran for more than 200 yards three times while the usually stiff Michigan State defense has had its share of breakdowns.

      "Our defense is not broke," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "I know that we gave up 14 whopping points last week, but our defense is not broke. We have been spoiled by some of the things from last year. There's gonna be breakdowns, there's gonna be things that happen. What's important is that we get them fixed and that it's not happening on a consistent basis where we lose a football game and give up 400-500 yards of offense."

      That defense has a clear priority -- containing running back Ameer Abdullah, one of three players to run for more than 100 yards against Michigan State last season. Abdullah took his first carry eight yards up the gut in last season's game and had regular success. He likely would have been more involved in the outcome in 2013 if not for the turnover issues.

      The run early, run often mantra Pelini is taking on is not new on Dantonio.

      "I have to tell you that I was at Kansas before I came here, so we just referred to it as the Big Red Machine in my house at that point in time," he said.

      NOTES: Junior C Jack Allen did not play last week because of an undisclosed injury but is back on the depth chart this week and is expected to play. ... Senior OL Connor Kruse played for the first time last week and saw time at both guard positions and center. ... DTs Damon Knox and James Kittredge are expected to play Saturday. Knox dressed last week for the first time but did not play while Kittredge last played in the opener against Jacksonville State.

  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Haze and blue: Michigan facing heavy criticism
    By The Sports Xchange

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With fourth-year head coach Brady Hoke under fire for Michigan's on-field performance and the handling of sophomore Shane Morris following a helmet-to-helmet hit in last week's loss to Minnesota, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that yes, Michigan has a Big Ten Conference game on Saturday at Rutgers.

    • Hoke said Morris was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and did not practice Sunday, but early Tuesday morning, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon released a statement saying that Morris sustained a "probable, mild concussion."

      "Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game," Brandon said in the statement. "As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again."

      Brandon said he and Darryl Conway, UM's associate athletic director for student-athlete health, reviewed the situation and plan to have athletic medical personnel in the press box, and will examine communication processes between medical teams and coaches.

      "We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes' well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly," Brandon said in the statement.

      Devin Gardner is in line to resume as Michigan's starting quarterback.

      However, Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier would not commit to Gardner as the Wolverines' starting quarterback for Saturday.

      Gardner had started 21 of 22 games before he was supplanted by Morris, who started Saturday's loss to the Golden Gophers.

      Morris made his first start since a 31-14 loss to Kansas State in December in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and finished 7-for-19 passing for 49 yards and was intercepted once, and had negative-8 yards on four carries against the Golden Gophers.

      Gardner replaced Morris in the fourth quarter, after Morris was hit by Minnesota defensive end Thieren Cockran and appeared wobbly as he came up from the ground and had to be steadied by teammate Ben Braden. Gardner replaced Morris on the next snap and then Morris returned after Gardner lost his helmet, before he was removed from the game.

      Against Minnesota, Gardner was 3-for-6 passing for 39 yards and rushed for 23 yards on five carries, including a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. In five games, Gardner is 62-for-98 passing for 733 yards and five touchdowns, and has been intercepted six times.

      In addition to the scrutiny of Morris' injury, speculation continues to surround Hoke's job status, as Michigan lost three games in September and its Big Ten opener.

      "His job being under scrutiny, that's what people see," defensive end Frank Clark said. "No one really controls that but the people within the program.

      "We're not giving up on Coach Hoke. We don't see him going anywhere, no time soon."

      Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison also came to Hoke's defense.

      "Anybody that attacks his character doesn't know what they're talking about," said Mattison. "If somebody ever attacks that man's character, they're totally off base. I don't even want to talk about it. It's such a joke. It's ridiculous."

      --CB Raymon Taylor played in his first game since Sept. 6. Taylor did not play in three games because of an apparent knee injury. Taylor dressed for Michigan's 34-10 win over Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 20 but did not play.

      --LB Desmond Morgan has not played in Michigan's past four games and was on the sidelines against Minnesota. Hoke has not commented on Morgan's injury. Morgan had six tackles in Michigan's season opener.

  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Four Kentucky players suspended
    By The Sports Xchange

    Four Kentucky freshmen were suspended for Saturday's game against South Carolina after a pellet gun incident Saturday on campus in Lexington, Ky., the school announced Tuesday.

    • Running back Stanley "Boom' Williams, wide receiver Dorian Baker, quarterback Drew Barker and defensive end Tymere Dubose will not play Saturday while serving a one-game suspension.

      The four also face additional internal discipline for a violation of team rules.

      "Proper conduct is emphasized as a core value of our program," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "If we have a situation in which someone who does not act according to our standards, we hold him accountable."

      According to campus police, a call was received reporting shots being fired about 9:30 p.m. Sunday night. After a two-hour campus lockdown, police found the pellet gun and three BB guns.

      Williams leads the Wildcats in all-purpose yards this season with 99 yards rushing, 79 receiving and 105 on kickoff returns. Baker is fourth on the team in receptions with 11 catches for 122 yards.

      Barker and Dubose are expected to be reshirted this year.

  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    NC State's Doeren offers apology to Florida State
    By The Sports Xchange

    North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren apologized Tuesday for implying that Florida State faked injuries during the Seminoles' 56-41 victory over the Wolfpack on Saturday.

    • Doeren said after the game that he thought the No. 1 Seminoles tried to slow the game down. North Carolina State built a 24-7 lead before Florida State rallied in the second half to remain unbeaten this season.

      In a statement released on Twitter, Doeren said, "I have apologized to Jimbo Fisher & want to apologize to his staff, players & FSU fans for my comments that took away from a tremendous football game. I left an emotional locker room & took those emotions w/ me to the press conference.

      "It was a great college football game with tremendous plays made by both teams. That is where the focus deserves to be. I have the utmost respect for Jimbo, his staff and players. FSU played a great game and earned the win."

      After the game, Doeren had said, "The tempo we had was working until all the crazy fall-down things were going on and the clock kept stopping. You know the refs can't do anything about that, but it's horrible the way the tempo gets slowed down by these injuries. We went fast in the first quarter; I guess there were no fake injuries."

      It wasn't the first time Doeren complained about an opponent's tactics. He offered similar comments about Georgia Southern after NC State's 24-23 win in the season opener.

      Asked Monday about Doeren's comments, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher responded by saying, "I accuse him of not knowing what he's talking about. They're not fake injuries. No one faked injuries, and we wouldn't do that. We'll coach Florida State, and he can coach North Carolina State."

  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Nebraska getting nostalgic '6' sense
    By The Sports Xchange

    LINCOLN -- For Nebraska football, 6-0 starts to seasons used to be commonplace. For instance, the Huskers won their first six football games 10 of 14 times from 1989 to 2001.

    • And since 2001, the last time Nebraska played for a national championship and produced a Heisman Trophy winner, the Huskers have never begun a season 6-0.

      That would change if No. 19 Nebraska can upend No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.

      Of course, the historical perspective of being 6-0 doesn't mean as much to Nebraska coach Bo Pelini as does his team staying on course for a Big Ten Conference championship, while also trying to butt its name into the College Football Playoff discussion.

      "It's important because I want to go 6-0. Historically it doesn't really mean that much to me," Pelini said. "This is about this team and what we're trying to accomplish. Obviously it's extremely important, but every game we play is going to be. I'm not going to make any more of it than what it is."

      A loss for Nebraska (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) wouldn't squash the Huskers' chances in conference championship discussion because for the first time since divisions were formed in the Big Ten in 2011, Nebraska (West Division) and Michigan State (East Division) aren't divisional foes.

      But this is a key game for the Big Ten in regards to the league's seemingly small chances of having one of the four teams in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

      Michigan State (3-1, 0-0) has a respectable loss to Oregon, but a two-loss Big Ten team wouldn't likely garner much attention. Nebraska, meanwhile, has yet to play a ranked team, the reason the Huskers, while unbeaten, aren't regarded as a playoff contender.

      That could change with a victory in East Lansing, but that only happens if the Huskers learn from last year's loss to Michigan State in Lincoln, when Nebraska committed five turnovers -- all in Husker territory, and two inside the 10-yard line -- in a 41-28 loss.

      "We need to play better, cleaner, to give ourselves a chance to win the football game," Pelini said. "But I don't want to take away (and say), 'We should have won the football game.' That's kind of a cop-out, to a certain extent. That's not giving Michigan State credit. They won the football game, we lost, no matter how it happened."

      Nebraska has overcome four turnovers over its last two games to defeat Miami (41-31) and Illinois (45-14).

      "It's easy to say: Just take care of yourself," Pelini said. "And that's never taking away from what an opponent does. If someone makes a play, they make a play. But you've got to make them earn it. And that's what you have to constantly fight against, is being your own worst enemy. And, at times, we are. And that’s what we've got to fix."

      Quarterback Tommy Armstrong is 12-1 as a starter, his lone loss coming to Michigan State last season. He had two of the team's five turnovers.

      "I'm a lot different (now)," Armstrong said. "I'm trying to make smarter decision and stuff like that, just putting my offense in the right position."

  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Michigan AD admits 'mistakes' handling Morris injury
    By The Sports Xchange

    Contradicting comments from head coach Brady Hoke the day before, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in a statement sent at 12:50 a.m. Tuesday that mistakes were made in handling quarterback Shane Morris' "probable, minor concussion."

    • "Shane came off the field after the following play and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury," Brandon said. "Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play."

      Morris was diagnosed Sunday with a concussion. Hoke said Monday that the quarterback aggravated a leg injury he suffered earlier in Saturday's game against Minnesota that dropped his team to 2-3.

      Morris said via Twitter Tuesday "I just want to play football."

      Hoke, on the Big Ten media teleconference at 12:15 p.m. ET Tuesday, was non-committal when discussing his quarterback. "We'll see how everything works out. We're not going to talk about any injuries further.

      "I just feel bad that Shane's had to go through this situation and been put in the middle of it."

      Brandon pointed to a "serious lack of communication" between the Wolverines' coaching staff and medical personnel. Morris absorbed multiple hits in Saturday's game, but the helmet-to-helmet hit that left his staggered and unable to stand upright was not seen by medical staff, Brandon claimed.

      "The neurologist and other team physicians were not aware that Shane was being asked to return to the field," Brandon said, "and Shane left the bench when he heard his name called and went back into the game. Under these circumstances, a player should not be allowed to re-enter the game before being cleared by the team physician. This clearly identifies the need for improvements in our sideline and communication processes."

      Brandon said two immediate changes will be put into place based on Saturday's controversy.

      "We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes' well being," said Brandon, "the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly.

      A medical professional will be in the press box or video booth with "the ability to communicate with medical personnel on the sidelines" and Brandon said he will examine Michigan's "sideline communication processes."

      Hoke does not wear a headset and said Monday that would not change.

      "We have learned from this experience, and will continue to improve ways to keep our student-athletes' health and safety our number one priority," Brandon said.

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    Georgia's Gurley falsely accused of assault
    By The Sports Xchange

    Heisman Trophy candidate University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley was falsely accused of assaulting a man early Sunday in a downtown Athens bar, local police said Monday.

    • A 20-year-old Georgia student told police that Gurley had punched him after he took a selfie of himself with Gurley in the background, police told the Athens Banner-Herald.

      But after police watched surveillance video, they determined the accuser was had been punched by a white male.

      Gurley, the Banner-Herald said, cooperated with police. He said he didn’t see the accuser get hit, but he did see some pushing and shoving.

      Gurley told police that the student had lost his hat and when he reached to pick it up for him, the student approached and used a racial slur. That's the time someone punched the student, who was kicked out of the bar, police said.

      The investigating officer released the following statement:

      "In consideration of all the information, to include statements and video recordings from the incident location, Todd Gurley's involvement in this report is unfounded. Based also on the information ... I was able to see clearly that Todd Gurley had no involvement in this case other than trying to give an individual his hat back."

      Gurley rushed for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's 35-32 win over Tennessee.

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    Kentucky suspends four for gun incident
    By The Sports Xchange

    Four University of Kentucky players will miss Saturday's game against South Carolina following an incident with an airsoft pellet gun on Sunday caused the Kentucky campus to go on lock down.

    • Wide receiver Dorian Baker, running back Stanley "Boom" Williams, quarterback Drew Barker and defensive end Tymere Dubose have been suspended for the game. They still could face other charges or further discipline.

      According to multiple report, police shut down the campus after shots were reported being fired outside of residence hall on Sunday night. The police recovered an airsoft pistol and re-opened the campus approximately two hours later.

      "Proper conduct is emphasized as a core value of our program," coach Mark Stoops said in a release on Monday. "If we have a situation in which someone who does not act according to our standards, we hold him accountable."

      It is not clear why shots were fired, but university police said all of those involved have been identified, thanks to surveillance pictures. Police also say one air soft pellet gun and two BB guns were recovered after the incident.

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    College football roundup: Hoke claims QB did not have concussion
    By The Sports Xchange

    Michigan coach Brady Hoke, still facing questions and criticism for his handling of Shane Morris' health, said Monday that the sophomore quarterback sustained a high-ankle sprain in Saturday's loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

    • Furthermore, Hoke maintained that Morris did not sustain a concussion, and that if he had suffered any kind of traumatic injury, he would err on the side of caution.

      "I would never put a kid in that situation," Hoke said. "Never have and never will."

      When asked if a concussion has been ruled out, Hoke said a statement from Michigan's medical department regarding Morris' health will be released later Monday.

      Morris was hit by Minnesota's Thieren Cockran and appeared wobbly as he came up from the ground and had to be steadied by teammate Ben Braden. Morris was replaced by Devin Gardner on the next snap and then returned after Gardner lost his helmet before he was removed from the game.

      The play and the coaching staff's handling of Morris following Cockran's hit has received national attention and national scrutiny.

      --LSU freshman quarterback Brandon Harris will make his first college start in Saturday's road game against No. 5 Auburn.

      LSU coach Les Miles made the announcement.

      Harris had been battling sophomore Anthony Jennings for the job and Harris' performance against New Mexico State provided evidence that Harris should start. Harris was 11-for-14 for 178 yards and three touchdowns in that game.

      --Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher refuted accusations of North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren, who accused the Seminoles of faking injuries in Saturday's game in Raleigh, N.C.

      "The tempo we had (in the first quarter) was working until all the crazy fall down things were going on and the clock kept stopping," Doeren said, according to the Rocky Mountain Telegram. "You know the refs can't do anything about that, but it's horrible the way the tempo gets slow downed by these injuries. We went fast in the first-quarter, I guess there were no fake injuries."

      On Monday, Fisher responded by saying, according to the Orlando Sentinel, "I accuse him of not knowing what he's talking about. We did not fake injuries, no one fakes injuries. We'll coach Florida State, he can coach North Carolina State."

      --The NCAA and Big 12 Conference both denied Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield's appeal for immediate eligibility, the Daily Oklahoman reported.

      Mayfield was the Big 12 offensive freshman of the year last season when he played in eight games as a walk-on for Texas Tech. Despite his success on the field, Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury said Mayfield would not be granted a scholarship.

      Mayfield decided to transfer to Oklahoma and was given immediate eligibility. But Texas Tech blocked Mayfield's transfer.

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    Strong: Colleges need to prepare players better
    By The Sports Xchange

    Character.

    • If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell learned just one thing during his meeting on Sunday with Texas coach Charlie Strong, it's how highly Strong values character.

      And college programs are not doing a good enough job of molding players' character for them to be responsible adults, Strong said Monday.

      The first-year Longhorns coach has raised eyebrows among Texas faithful and around college football after kicking nine players off the team less than nine months since taking over for Mack Brown. Some of those who have been disciplined are star players expected to contribute to the Longhorns' success this year.

      Strong has become renowned for his five core values that all players must live by: honesty, treating women with respect, no drugs, no guns and no stealing.

      Goodell, who has been criticized for his handling of the Ray Rice incident and other domestic issues met with Strong to discuss a variety of issues that is troubling both the college and pro game.

      "(It) was not so much about our core values, but also we just talked about the character of athletes," Strong told the Dallas Morning News. "I said to him what is happening in the NFL is we're sending you some players that have questionable character, and I said you’re giving them a lot of money.

      "You give somebody who has bad character a lot of money, that's a situation probably you want to avoid," Strong said. "We have to do a better job in college of just preparing young men and doing a better job with their character."

      Strong said he emphasizes trust as well as character to his players.

      "When a young man knows you care about him and he can trust you, you can get a lot of things done with him," Strong said. "When you have 95 percent doing it right, and 5 percent who aren't, they're looking like what are you going to do about it?"

      League officials hope by creating a better football culture at the collegiate level, future domestic violence incidents will be avoided.

      Goodell met with almost a dozen former players last week and came away with an urgent recommendation that the league needs to act swiftly when dealing with those accused of domestic violence.

      On Sunday, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent also indicated that the discussion with Strong might be the first of many meetings between NFL officials and college coaches as they attempt to develop a stronger relationship with colleges and universities.

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    NCAA, Big 12 deny Oklahoma transfer's appeal
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NCAA and Big 12 Conference have both denied Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield's appeal for immediate eligibility, the Daily Oklahoman reported Monday.

    • Mayfield was the Big 12 offensive freshman of the year last season when he played in eight games as a walk-on for Texas Tech. Despite his success on the field, Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury said Mayfield would not be granted a scholarship.

      Mayfield decided to transfer to Oklahoma and was given immediate eligibility. But Texas Tech blocked Mayfield's transfer.

      Kingsbury had said the transfer was being contested because it is taking place within the conference.

      Big 12 transfer rules for players moving from one Big 12 school to the other actually means Mayfield will have one less year of eligibility.

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    Report: Fisher denies Florida State faked injuries
    By The Sports Xchange

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher fired back at North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren, who accused Florida State of faking injuries in Saturday's game in Raleigh, N.C.

    • "The tempo we had (in the first quarter) was working until all the crazy fall down things were going on and the clock kept stopping," Doeren said, according to the Rocky Mountain Telegram. "You know the refs can't do anything about that, but it's horrible the way the tempo gets slow downed by these injuries. We went fast in the first-quarter, I guess there were no fake injuries."

      On Monday, Fisher responded by saying, according to the Orlando Sentinel, "I accuse him of not knowing what he's talking about. We did not fake injuries, no one fakes injuries. We'll coach Florida State, he can coach North Carolina State."

      Florida State won the game 56-41.

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    LSU to start freshman QB Harris
    By The Sports Xchange

    LSU freshman quarterback Brandon Harris will make his first college start in Saturday's road game against No. 5 Auburn.

    • LSU coach Les Miles made the announcement on Monday.

      "It wasn't a difficult decision," Miles said.

      Harris had been battling sophomore Anthony Jennings for the job and Harris' performance against New Mexico State provided evidence that Harris should start.

      Harris has completed 73.3 percent of his passes for 394 yards and six touchdowns with one interception. He played well coming off the bench in the final four minutes of a 34-29 loss to Mississippi State , throwing for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

      He was 11-for-14 for 178 yards and three touchdowns in a 63-7 victory against New Mexico State on Saturday.

      "It stands to reason he will get the first snaps in the game, but we'll need both quarterbacks," Miles said. "Anthony Jennings is a fine young man busting his behind, proven and is certainly going to continue to compete."

  • Monday, September 29, 2014
    Hoke maintains QB did not suffer concussion
    By The Sports Xchange

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan coach Brady Hoke, still facing questions and criticism for his handling of Shane Morris' health, said Monday that the sophomore quarterback sustained a high-ankle sprain in Saturday's loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

    • Furthermore, Hoke maintained that Morris did not sustain a concussion, and that if he had suffered any kind of traumatic injury, he would err on the side of caution.

      "I would never put a kid in that situation," Hoke said. "Never have and never will."

      When asked if a concussion has been ruled out, Hoke said a statement from Michigan's medical department regarding Morris' health will be released later Monday.

      Morris was hit by Minnesota's Thieren Cockran and appeared wobbly as he came up from the ground and had to be steadied by teammate Ben Braden. Morris was replaced by Devin Gardner on the next snap and then returned after Gardner lost his helmet before he was removed from the game.

      "I can tell you, being on the sideline, my perspective and what I know," Hoke said. "During the course of the game, Devin's helmet comes off. My intention is to go out and get the referee's attention and I want to buy him back with a timeout. I've talked to the Big Ten and to (Big Ten director of officiating) Bill Carollo about this and was told I couldn't buy it back.

      "The linesman comes up and I say, 'I want to buy it back.' The referee says you can't do that. The miscommunication, whatever, the head linesman says yes you can.

      "By that time, I know Shane's on the field, taking one more snap and handing the ball off. Devin gets his helmet back on. That's how that sequence went. What I can tell you is that we would never, ever, put a guy on the field when there's a possibility of head trauma. We don't do that. Guys play beat up every day. If they're not beat up a little bit, if they're never 100 percent, then they're not doing much."

      The play and the coaching staff's handling of Morris following Cockran's hit has received national attention and national scrutiny.

      Hoke said after the loss that he did not know whether or not Morris had a concussion, but Hoke said it was his decision to leave Morris in after he was hit by Cockran. Furthermore, Hoke said Monday that he did not see the hit on Morris when it happened, and said Morris' stumbling after the play was related to the ankle injury.

      In a statement released Sunday night, Hoke defended the program's handling of Morris and said that Morris aggravated an injury to his leg, that he sustained earlier in the 30-14 loss to the Golden Gophers, and that athletic trainers and team physicians evaluated Morris.

      Hoke said after the loss that he did not know whether or not Morris had a concussion, but Hoke said it was his decision to leave Morris in after he was hit by Cockran.

      "I don't know if he might have had a concussion or not," Hoke said Saturday. "I don't know that.

      "Shane's a pretty competitive tough kid. Shane wanted to be the quarterback. So believe me, if he didn't want to be, he would have come to the sideline or stayed down."

      Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison defended Hoke in the wake of Michigan's poor start this season and after the loss to Minnesota.

      "Anybody that attacks his character doesn't know what they're talking about," Mattison said. "If somebody ever attacks that man's character, they're totally off-base. I don't even want to talk about it. It's such a joke. It's ridiculous. Anything else on football?"

      Michigan (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) plays at Rutgers at 7 p.m. ET Saturday.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Michigan's Hoke: QB Morris left with leg injury
    By The Sports Xchange

    Michigan quarterback Shane Morris might have returned to the field Saturday in the Wolverines' 30-14 loss to Minnesota with a concussion.

    • Hoke issued a statement late Sunday after a groundswell of questions about the handling of the injury.

      "The safety of our student-athletes is always our top priority," Hoke's statement read.

      "We generally never discuss the specifics of a student-athlete's medical care, but Shane Morris was removed from (Saturday's) game against Minnesota after further aggravating an injury to his leg that he sustained earlier in the contest. He was evaluated by our experienced athletic trainers and team physicians, and we're confident proper medical decisions were made. The University of Michigan has a distinguished group of Certified Athletic Trainers and team physicians who are responsible for determining whether or not a player is physically able to play. Our coaches have no influence or authority to make determinations if or when an injured player returns to competition. The health and wellness of our student-athletes will continue to be a top priority."

      It appeared Morris somehow sidestepped medical staff and went back on the field when Devin Gardner had to come to the sideline when his own helmet popped off.

      "Well, you know, I don't know," Hoke said Saturday. "I don't know if he might've had a concussion or not. I don't know that and that wasn't something ... Shane's a pretty competitive, tough kid and Shane wanted to be the quarterback and so believe me, if he didn't want to be he would've come to the sideline or stayed down."

      Hoke is under heavy criticism as Michigan (2-3) stockpiles losses. The potential that his staff was not decisive with a player's head injury could add fuel to that flame.

      Cameras captured backup Russell Bellomy getting ready with a helmet as if he was coming into the game, but someone called him back toward the bench.

      With 11:24 left Morris took perhaps the biggest shot of the day in a series of significant blows from Minnesota defenders. He wobbled to his feet and needed offensive tackle Ben Braden to stand upright.

      "I did not see it," Hoke said. "I can only answer for me."

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    College football roundup: Kansas fires Weis
    By The Sports Xchange

    Kansas fired coach Charlie Weis a day after the Jayhawks were shut out by Texas on Saturday.

    • Athletic director Sheahon Zenger announced the firing Sunday morning in a statement.

      "I normally do not favor changing coaches mid-season," Zenger said. "But I believe we have talented coaches and players in this program, and I think this decision gives our players the best chance to begin making progress right away."

      Weis was in his third season as the Jayhawks' coach. He finished 6-22 overall and 1-18 against Big 12 opponents. Kansas is 2-2 this season. Kansas lost to Texas 23-0 on Saturday.

      Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen was named interim coach.

      Kansas will pay Weis $5.625 in buyout money between now and December 31, 2016. According to USA Today, Weis will be paid about $2.5 million per year by Kansas per the buyout terms of his contract.

      Weis is also still being paid by Notre Dame.

      --Florida State is still No. 1 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll, but it slipped to No. 2 behind Alabama in the USA Today coaches poll.

      Oregon is No. 2 and Alabama No. 3 in the AP media poll, and Florida State is No. 2, with Oklahoma No. 3 in the coaches poll.

      --Virginia Tech freshman running back Shai McKenzie will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in Saturday's 35-17 victory over Western Michigan.

      He left the game with 87 rushing yards and a touchdown. He has 269 rushing yards and three touchdowns for the season.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Hokies RB McKenzie out for season
    By The Sports Xchange

    Virginia Tech Hokies running back Shai McKenzie will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in Saturday's 35-17 victory over Western Michigan.

    • The freshman suffered the same injury as a high school senior last fall. McKenzie was injured during the fourth quarter Saturday, and left the game with 87 rushing yards and a touchdown.

      "I am done for the season with another ACL injury. I trust that god will not let me down," McKenzie wrote on his Twitter page shortly before the team announced the injury Sunday.

      McKenzie, from Washington, Pa., and fellow freshman Marshawn Williams had been splitting carries since the season opener.

      Williams leads the team with 290 rushing yards, although McKenzie paced the offense with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. McKenzie is expected to undergo surgery next month after swelling in his knee subsides, but he will not be able to apply for a medical redshirt waiver from the NCAA since he has already appeared in more than 30 percent of the team's games this season.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Florida State still No. 1 in poll
    By The Sports Xchange

    Florida State is still No. 1 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll, but is losing ground in the voting.

    • After trailing North Carolina State 24-7 in the first quarter, the Seminoles had to come from behind to win 56-41.

      Florida State received 27 first-place votes after getting 34 last week. No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Alabama each got 13 first-place votes and No. 4 Oklahoma received the remaining seven votes.

      The top seven teams stayed in their spots from last week, including No. 5 Auburn, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 7 Baylor. The rest of the top 10 was UCLA, Notre Dame and Michigan State.

      No. 24 Missouri and No. 25 TCU replaced South Carolina and Arizona State in the poll.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    First and 20: Spotlight swings to ... Ole Miss?
    By The Sports Xchange

    The college football world now turns its attention to ... Mississippi.

    • Wait. Mississippi?

      After a weekend in which some top teams received scares, but survived, this is the college football Saturday you've been waiting for, overflowing with marquee matchups in what promises to be a crazy day in the state of Mississippi.

      ESPN's "College Football GameDay" will be in Oxford, Miss., for the first time ever for a top 11 battle between Ole Miss and Alabama. Meanwhile, Texas A&M goes to Starkville for a top 12 clash with fast-rising Mississippi State.

      "We are going to prepare for them like we do everybody else," Rebels' All-American defensive back Cody Prewitt said about Alabama. "They are coming into our house so we are not going to be intimidated. They are going to be the ones climbing up the hill."

      Almost forgot. LSU plays at Auburn on Saturday, too.

      There will be much more clarity in the SEC West -- college football's version of the Group of Death -- after the weekend of intra-divisional play that excludes only Arkansas. Sounds about right.

      It wasn't difficult to see Ole Miss coming this season. The Rebels, in their third season under coach Hugh Freeze, had the leading returner passer in the SEC (Bo Wallace) and emerging sophomore stars from Freeze's excellent recruiting, including receiver Laquon Treadwell, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche and defensive back Tony Conner.

      Ole Miss, which is 4-0 for the first time since 1970, is third nationally in scoring defense, allowing 8.5 points per game. The Rebels have beaten Boise State, Vanderbilt, Louisiana and Memphis -- not a murders' row, but several top teams have similar resumes at this point.

      Not so for state rival Mississippi State, which already announced its arrival by winning at LSU on Sept. 20. The Bulldogs were off Saturday, giving them more time to prepare for the Aggies, who emerged with their record intact after a miracle comeback against Arkansas in Arlington, Texas.

      The Bulldogs, who were was 7-6 last season, has caught many by surprise. They shouldn't have. Mississippi State has the two things every coach wants -- a playmaking quarterback in Dak Prescott and one of the best defensive fronts in the nation. Sophomore defensive tackle Chris Jones is a beast; junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney projects as a second-round pick if he comes out early.

      With savvy quarterbacks and salty defenses, the Mississippi schools look like legit SEC teams.

      It's prove-it time. The spotlight has rarely been brighter.

      Five Heisman candidates through September

      1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. His knee was bothering him late last season when the Ducks were ambushed by Arizona, which won 42-16 in Tucson to scuttle Oregon's hopes of a BCS bowl. Mariota gets a chance to serve up revenge Thursday night in Autzen against the 4-0 Wildcats.

      2. Ameer Abudullah, RB, Nebraska. Second nationally in rushing (166.6 yards per game), with three 200-yard efforts in five games.

      3. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia. He rushed for a career-best 208 yards against Tennessee, including a 49-yard touchdown, and put the game away with a physical 4-yard run on fourth-and-3 in the final minute to run out the clock on a 35-32 win.

      4. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama. Unleashed by the faster tempo of first-year Tide coordinator Lane Kiffin, Cooper's stats now much his talent -- 43 catches for 655 yards and five touchdowns in four games.

      5. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame. The Irish are 4-0 and Golson has opened the offense with his running skills and big arm that attacks defenses vertically. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns, with only two interceptions.

      Five things we learned in week 5

      1. We should have listened to Bo Pelini. Remember when he said after a 38-17 loss to Iowa late last season: "If they want to fire me, go ahead. I believe in what I've done. I don't apologize to you. I don't apologize to anybody, myself or this staff. My record, our record since I've been here, speaks for itself. And this program is heading in a good direction." Since then, the Huskers beat Georgia in a bowl game and reeled off five victories in a row to start 2014. They are the only undefeated team in the Big Ten.

      2. Something's not quite right with Florida State. The 'Noles don't have to apologize for its 56-41 comeback win at North Carolina State -- Carter-Finley Stadium has been a nightmare for FSU in the past -- but what's up with the 41 points allowed? The culprit is a defensive line that is getting younger and thinner, and defensive tackle Niles Lawrence-Stample isn't coming back this season from injury.

      3. Michigan coach Brady Hoke is tone deaf. The Wolverines have won only four of their past 13 games, have been outscored 56-24 at home by Utah and Minnesota in the past two weeks, and Hoke says this: "I think this team can still win the championship. I really do." Worse, after Shane Morris stayed in the game after taking a shot to the head, Hoke said he didn't know if his quarterback had suffered a concussion. "Didn't know" isn't the right answer for a potential concussion in today's football world.

      4. Baylor is getting better. All-American receiver Antwan Goodley, who barely played in the opener because of a quad injury, returned Saturday at Iowa State with six catches for 114 yards. Wide receiver Corey Coleman (hamstring) made his season debut with 12 catches for 154 yards. "I've got my toys back," said quarterback Bryce Petty. And just in time for a game at Texas this Saturday.

      5. The SEC East is too confounding to figure out. Georgia can ride Todd Gurley only so far; it needs QB Hutson Mason to step up. Missouri loses to Indiana then wins at South Carolina. The Gamecocks already have two league losses. Florida needs to win quickly, starting Saturday at Tennessee, to be a factor and to save coach Will Muschamp. Who emerges? Bet on Missouri, which gets Georgia at home on Oct. 11.

      Bonus: One thing we already knew -- Charlie Weis wasn't long for Kansas. He was fired four games into his third season with the Jayhawks. KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger has Ed Orgeron on speed dial, right?

      Five players to watch

      1. Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington. He scored on a rip-and-strip fumble return against Stanford, giving him four touchdowns this season, including one as a running back.

      2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. In his first start, the true freshman went 27 of 36 for 435 yards, with six touchdowns and one interception, in a 50-35 victory over North Carolina.

      3. Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado. Losing Paul Richardson was supposed to be a big deal for the Buffs, but Spruce has emerged as a superstar, including a 19-catch performance in a double-overtime loss to Cal. That total is the best for a player from a Big 5 conference school since 2004.

      4. Daxx Garman, QB, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are taking advantage of Garman's strong arm. The Arizona transfer, an injury replacement for J.W. Walsh, completed eight passes of 20-plus yards in Thursday night's win over Texas Tech. OSU is going to have a lot to say about the Big 12 race.

      5. Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M. He made all the throws that mattered late in the comeback against Arkansas -- touchdown passes of 86 and 59 yards near the end of regulation and a 25-yard scoring pass to win it.

      Five best Week 6 games

      1. No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS. The hungry Rebels haven't beaten Alabama since Eli Manning was slinging the football, back in 2003. It's totally into the fire for Ole Miss, whose next month is Bama, at Texas A&M, Tennessee, at LSU and Auburn.

      2. No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi State, Saturday, noon ET, ESPN. Aggies QB Kenny Hill vs. Bulldogs QB Dak Prescott. Who said this was a down year for SEC signal-callers?

      3. No. 14 Stanford at No. 9 Notre Dame, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC. The Irish have scored at least 30 points in each of their first four games, marking the first time that has happened since 1943. Stanford has successfully replaced key pieces on defense (ranking first nationally in total defense and scoring defense) but is waiting on its power running game to re-emerge in the red zone.

      4. No. 15 LSU at No. 5 Auburn, Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN. Big quarterback edge to Auburn with magician Nick Marshall, but the LSU defense could have the last laugh. Bigger picture question: Can Auburn survive a schedule that still has LSU, at Mississippi State, South Carolina, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M, at Georgia and at Alabama?

      5. No. 19 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State, Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC. Nebraska's Ameer Abudullah against the nation's fourth-best rushing defense? Yes, please. And we'd like another in the Big Ten title game.

      High honorable mention: Arizona at Oregon (Thursday), Oklahoma at TCU, Arizona State at USC, Baylor at Texas.

      NFLDraftScout.com: Film Room Review

      Analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler provide five takeaways on how prospects performed in Week 5. Players listed including position, school, year (Height, weight and current NFLDraftScout.com overall rating and by position).

      1. OLB Shaq Thompson, Washington, Jr. (6-2, 230, #34/#3): One of several Huskies defenders to stand out despite a loss to Stanford, Thompson recorded several impressive open-field tackles, forced a fumble and returned a fumble for a touchdown. Despite an undersized frame, Thompson doesn't shy from contact as a whole and can deliver explosive hits.

      2. CB Marcus Peters, Washington, Jr. (6-0, 198, #40/#5): Peters had one interception and nearly intercepted Stanford QB Kevin Hogan in the end zone for another. Peters demonstrates athleticism, ball-skills and competitiveness. Scouts like Peters because his physicality shows up in run support, as well as in coverage.

      3. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia, Jr. (6-1, 232, #18/#1): Gurley rushed for a career-high 208 yards, scoring twice, against Tennessee. Similar to the Clemson game opening weekend, most of Gurley's yards and big runs came in the second half when the Bulldogs needed a jolt of energy. With less than nine minutes remaining, Gurley took a hand-off up the middle, eliminated defender's angles and outran defenders on a 51-yard touchdown run, giving Georgia a 28-17 lead.

      4. MLB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, Sr. (6-2, 242, #100/#3): The SEC's active leader in career tackles racked up 17 more, but he had too many wild angles, waste steps and missed tackles that contributed to Gurley's performance. Johnson lacks the strength to disengage blocks and he isn't a sure-fire starter at the next level many thought he could be earlier in his career.

      5. QB Todd Hundley, UCLA, RJr. (6-3, 227, #19/#3): Much of the country was asleep as Hundley racked up 355 passing yards and four touchdowns against Arizona State on Thursday night. Despite wearing a bulky brace on his left (non-throwing) elbow, Hundley showed flashes of improvement Thursday night with his eye-discipline and poise, two areas in which he'd previously struggled.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Kansas fires Weis
    By The Sports Xchange

    Kansas fired coach Charlie Weis a day after the Jayhawks were shut out by Texas on Saturday.

    • Athletic director Sheahon Zenger announced the firing Sunday morning in a statement.

      "I normally do not favor changing coaches mid-season," Zenger said. "But I believe we have talented coaches and players in this program, and I think this decision gives our players the best chance to begin making progress right away.

      "I appreciate what Coach Weis did with several facets of our football program. But we have not made the on-the-field progress we believe we should. I believe new leadership gives our coaches and players the best chance to make a fresh start."

      Weis was in his third season as the Jayhawks' coach. He finished 6-22 overall and 1-18 against Big 12 opponents. Kansas is 2-2 this season. Kansas lost to Texas 23-0 on Saturday.

      Weis originally signed a five-year deal. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, the school owes him $7 million.

      "As we continue to elevate the national stature of the University of Kansas, our pursuit of excellence extends beyond our research and instructional missions," Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in the announcement. "KU alumni, students, fans and supporters expect that Kansas Football will match the other areas in which we excel as a university. After consulting with Dr. Zenger, I am in agreement that it is time for new leadership of our football program."

      Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen was named interim coach.

      Before coming to Kansas, Weis was 35-27 in five seasons as Notre Dame's coach. He also spent one season as Florida's offensive coordinator. Weis was offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs for one year and spent several other seasons as an assistant in the NFL, most notably with the New England Patriots.

      Kansas will pay Weis $5.625 in buyout money between now and December 31, 2016. According to USA Today, Weis will be paid about $2.5 million per year by Kansas per the buyout terms of his contract.

      Weis is also still being paid by Notre Dame. That school paid Weis $2.1 million in 2012 and it is expected to pay the same amount through the end of his contract buyout at the end of 2015.

      Combined, Weis will be paid about $4.6 million per year through 2015 by schools that fired him.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    USC eases past Oregon State
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Buck Allen and Justin Davis combined for 197 rushing yards and each scored in the fourth quarter as USC pulled away from Oregon State for a 35-10 victory Saturday night in a Pac-12 game at the L.A. Coliseum.

    • It was the 23rd straight victory by USC over Oregon State in Los Angeles, where the Beavers have not won since 1960.

      The USC defense held Oregon State to 181 yards -- including 58 rushing on 21 carries. But the Trojans had their own troubles moving the ball until the fourth quarter.

      The Trojans, who rushed for just 20 yards in a loss to Boston College two weeks ago, gained just 13 yards on the ground in the first half Saturday.

      But Allen and Davis got it going late in the second half.

      After the Trojans led 21-10 at halftime thanks to a 48-yard Hail Mary, Allen's 17-yard run up the middle gave the Trojans a 28-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. The run capped a 12-play, 87-yard drive in which USC held the ball for nearly five minutes.

      The Trojans were able to establish the run on the drive, something they had struggled to do most of the game.

      When Davis scored on a 21-yard run with about five minutes to go, it gave the Trojans an insurmountable 35-10 lead.

      "The story of the game was we never really responded by scoring points or controlling the ball," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "And our defense wore out. We couldn't put any points on the board. Had we done that, our defense could have maintained a better game."

      Neither team could sustain much offense in the first quarter. USC's touchdown came on sophomore safety Su'a Cravens' 31-yard interception return off a pass from Sean Mannion.

      "We knew they wanted to get the ball out in the flats to their tight ends," Cravens said. "I just happened to make a play on the ball."

      The Beavers answered on the following kickoff when Ryan Murphy fielded the ball on the 3-yard line, ran left and continued virtually untouched for the tying score.

      The Beavers came up with the first sustained drive of the game, helped by two spectacular leaping catches by junior receiver Richard Mullaney. But the 74-yard drive stalled at the USC 22 and Trevor Romaine made a 38-yard field goal to give Oregon State a 10-7 lead.

      USC followed with a drive of its own, taking the ball down to the Oregon State 16. Quarterback Cody Kessler completed a pass in the flat to Davis, who streaked into the end zone. The extra point gave USC a 14-10 lead with 7:16 left in the half.

      The sloppy first half, lowlighted by the teams combining for 17 penalties, was capped by a spectacular ending.

      On the last play, Kessler heaved a pass from midfield into the end zone and a waiting gaggle of receivers and defensive backs. Trojans receiver Darreus Rogers shot out of the crowd, caught the ball just outside the end zone, turned quickly and ran back in for the score, allowing USC to take a 21-10 lead into the locker room.

      "We wanted to run the clock down so it was either going to be a touchdown or an interception," said Kessler, who did a good job of avoiding two tacklers to keep the play alive. "Darreus made a great play on the ball. I think that sparked us for the second half and got the crowd pumped up."

      Kessler finished the game with 261 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-32 passing.

      Mannion, who came into the game needing 989 yards to become the Pac-12's career passing yards leader, completed 15 of 32 passes for 123 yards and threw two interceptions.

      "It was a sloppy game on my part," Mannion said. "I expect more from myself and I'm certainly not satisfied in any way with the way I played and the way the offense played as a whole."

      NOTES: A sloppy half started with a sloppy first quarter. The two teams combined for nine penalties. Perhaps most embarrassing was a series that saw USC flagged for three straight false starts on offense. ... Oregon State has lost 23 straight games to USC in L.A. dating to a 14-0 Beavers in the Coliseum in 1960. ... USC's Su'a Cravens' interception return was his first touchdown as a collegian.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Abdullah, Nebraska rumble over Illinois
    By The Sports Xchange

    LINCOLN, Neb. -- Ameer Abdullah got his work in early to help Nebraska establish an early lead, then he rested while his backups did the rest.

    • Abdullah ran 22 times for 208 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and No. 21 Nebraska used a punishing ground attack to defeat Illinois 45-14 on Saturday night in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams at Memorial Stadium.

      Abdullah, a senior running back, collected his fourth career 200-yard rushing game, with three coming this season. He did the brunt of his work in the first half, as Nebraska (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) took a commanding second-quarter lead and never let up.

      Nebraska, which entered the game averaging 329 rushing yards to rank No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 5 in the nation, ran for 458 yards. Reserve running back Imani Cross carried 22 times for 109 yards.

      Abdullah ran only twice in the second half, with both carries coming in the third quarter. He was icing his knee on the sideline, although Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Abdullah was fine.

      “I thought we really came out well running the football,” Pelini said. “You know, 190 yards, some teams are happy to do that in the game. We did that in the first quarter. That changes a football game. That wears on people. It takes the wind out of people’s sails. There’s nothing more demoralizing than when you can’t stop the run.”

      Nebraska opened the second half with an 11-play, 68-yard touchdown drive to open a 38-14 lead, and the Huskers tacked on a fourth-quarter touchdown after quarterback Tommy Armstrong converted fourth-and-22 on a run.

      Illinois (3-2, 0-1) played without sophomore starting quarterback Wes Lunt, the Oklahoma State transfer who was sidelined with an injury. Lunt had thrown for 1,237 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 65.8 percent of his passes over the Illini's first four games.

      Illinois coach Tim Beckman said Lunt didn’t practice Tuesday, but did on Wednesday and Thursday.

      “We just did not feel like he was ready to be 100 percent, especially at quarterback,” Beckman said. “I am not going to play a guy obviously. He is like my son. I am going to make sure what is best for him. Right now it was not to play tonight."

      Senior backup Reilly O'Toole, making his third career start and his first since 2012, kept the Illini in the game early, but he threw two costly interceptions in the first half that swung momentum Nebraska's direction.

      O'Toole completed 17 of 38 passes for 261 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions, in his second game this season. His first action came in a loss at Washington on Sept. 13, when he was 4 of 5 for 49 yards off the bench.

      “I think he came in and did some things for us at quarterback,” Beckman said. “The interception kind of was the same thing that happened to us up in Washington. We had an interception that was returned for a touchdown and then you have an interception that happens, then a penalty on that play to get the ball on the 3- or 4-yard line. You just can’t do those types of things when you are playing a Top 25 football team."

      Nebraska led 31-14 at halftime after pounding Illinois with 288 rushing yards, including 196 by Abdullah, who had 20 carries.

      Abdullah had 127 rushing yards in the first quarter, including 60 on the Huskers' opening drive. He busted a 21-yard run on the first play and finished the series with a 12-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.

      Illinois answered quickly as O'Toole hit junior wide receiver Geronimo Allison on a 36-yard pass down the sideline, and running back Josh Ferguson scored on the next play, running 41 yards untouched up the middle to force a 7-7 tie.

      The Illini had a chance to take the lead after linebacker T.J. Neal intercepted a pass by Armstrong at midfield. O'Toole led Illinois to the Nebraska 1-yard line, but Ferguson lost three yards on second-and-goal, and junior cornerback Daniel Davie intercepted O'Toole's pass in the end zone.

      Nebraska went on to expand its lead to 28-7.

      Abdullah and Cross took turns gashing the Illini on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by Abdullah's 8-yard run up the middle.

      Sophomore safety Nate Gerry returned an interception 54 yards to set up Abdullah's 2-yard touchdown run, and Armstrong hit senior wide receiver Kenny Bell on a 63-yard pass for a one-play scoring drive.

      Illinois got on the board again midway through the second quarter when O'Toole hit Allison for a 58-yard touchdown.

      NOTES: For just the second time in the past 19 seasons, Nebraska has scored 30 or more points in the first five games. ... In all four home games, Nebraska has allowed a touchdown on the opponent's opening drive. Illinois went 70 yards in three plays. ... Illinois sophomore LB T.J. Neal came up with his first career interception in the first quarter, and he nearly picked off QB Tommy Armstrong again late in the second quarter.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Golson has career day as Notre Dame tops Syracuse
    By The Sports Xchange

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Everett Golson threw for a career-best 362 yards and four touchdown passes while leading No. 8 Notre Dame to a 31-15 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.

    • Golson also set the school record for consecutive completions, although there is some disagreement about whether it was 25 or 26. The school says he equaled the Football Bowl Subdivision record with 26, although the play-by-play and other reports indicate it was 25.

      Either way, Golson's effort allowed him to overcome his four turnovers, including two interceptions.

      "What I take from the game is that I have to get better," the senior quarterback said. "(The completions record) is stuff that does not matter. The coaches did a good job of putting me in good situations, but I made some foolish mistakes and there is a lot to clean up."

      Two second-quarter touchdown passes from Golson to sophomore wide receiver Will Fuller on as many plays from scrimmage gave Notre Dame a 14-3 halftime lead.

      A 23-yard connection between Golson and Fuller with 10:56 remaining in the half opened the scoring. After the Orange went three-and-out, the pair struck again when Golson looked deep for Fuller, who outraced corner Corey Winfield to the ball for a 72-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 8:31 to play.

      "There was a lot for Everett to learn from tonight," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "Some of the things he did tonight he will learn from and will ultimately make him a better quarterback. We made some adjustments that allowed him to have 26 straight completions, but there were also mistakes."

      Fuller finished the game with six catches for a career-high 119 yards.

      Syracuse managed to get on the board when Cole Murphy nailed a 38-yard field goal with 3:07 left in the half.

      The Irish turned the ball over twice in the first quarter, but the Orange was unable to take advantage.

      "It was a learning experience tonight," Syracuse quarterback Terrell Hunt said. "We knew that Notre Dame was the No. 8 team in the country, but we knew we could play with them if we played our game. We cannot get discouraged by what happened tonight and we cannot hang our heads because we have to turn around and get ready for a big game Friday night against Louisville."

      The first half ended on an odd note.

      With 11 seconds remaining and Notre Dame at the Syracuse 15-yard line, Golson went to spike the ball but never had control. The Orange's Julian Whigham picked up the loose ball and went the distance, but it was ruled an incomplete pass by the officials. A review overturned the ruling, with Syracuse taking possession at the 25-yard line and running out the final 13 seconds.

      "I don't know whether it was a good call or bad call, but we're not going to lose any sleep over it," Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said.

      Notre Dame pushed the lead to 21-3 in the third quarter on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Golson to sophomore wide receiver Corey Robinson.

      Notre Dame was driving on its next possession when Greg Bryant fumbled at the Orange 28. Syracuse responded by driving 72 yards on seven plays, cutting the deficit to 21-9 when quarterback Terrell Hunt scored from seven yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter. The extra point was blocked.

      Golson's final scoring pass of the evening was a 13-yarder to Torii Hunter Jr. that made the score 28-9 with 10:19 to play.

      Hunter, son of the major league baseball player by the same name, was making his collegiate debut, and the touchdown reception was his first catch.

      Syracuse made it 28-15 with 5:09 to play when junior safety Durell Eskridge returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown. The Orange failed on a two-point conversion.

      "We did a great job getting the ball back and one of our keys every week is to get turnovers," Eskridge said. "That was a positive for the game, but it still didn't work out for us."

      The Irish, who got a 37-yard field goal from Kyle Brindza with 1:57 remaining to close the scoring, turned the ball over once in their first three games.

      NOTES: The FBS record of 26 consecutive completions was set by East Carolina's Dominique Davis against Navy in 2011. ... Notre Dame WR Corey Robinson closed the half with a career-best six receptions and finished with eight for 91 yards. He has helped pick up the slack for injured Amir Carlisle (MCL sprain). ... Notre Dame QB Everett Golson is 14-1. ... The Notre Dame record for consecutive completions was 14. It was held by Ron Powlus, Brady Quinn and Tommy Rees. ... This was the third New York's College Classic for host Syracuse. The Orange lost to USC in 2012 and Penn State last season.

  • Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Workmanlike Petty leads No. 7 Baylor to victory
    By The Sports Xchange

    AMES, Iowa -- Baylor doesn't need Bryce Petty to always throw touchdowns to win football games. The senior quarterback accounted for 383 yards of offense and running back Shock Linwood added three touchdowns on the ground as the No. 7 Bears defeated Iowa State 49-28 on Saturday night in a Big 12 game in Jack Trice Stadium.

    • Petty threw for a touchdown and ran for two, completed 30 of 44 passes for 336 yards and added 46 yards on the ground.

      "It's our job to win, and it's our job to dominate," Petty said. "We did what we needed to do. There are still some things we need to work on.

      "First conference game, road game, this environment, I thought we did really well."

      Petty threw his first interception of the season when Iowa State safety T.J. Mutcherson picked off a pass in the second quarter. Mutcherson fumbled on the return, but linebacker Jevohn Miller recovered to retain possession for the Cyclones.

      Linwood led the Bears in rushing with 82 yards on 15 carries. Running back Johnny Jefferson added 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Bears.

      Wide receiver Corey Coleman had 12 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown in his first action of the season for Baylor. Wide receiver Antwan Goodley, who also didn't have a reception in the first three games of the season, finished with six receptions for 114 yards for the Bears.

      "It's been a while since we've been out there," Coleman said. "It's just exciting to be back."

      Petty is happy to have more offensive weapons at his disposal.

      "It's like a little kid on Christmas," Petty said. "You know, I got my toys back. There's something about (Coleman and Goodley) when they're in there, it's an explosive play waiting to happen."

      Baylor (4-0, 1-0) scored on seven drives, six of which took 2:47 or less off the clock.

      "The key tonight I think undoubtedly was our O-line," said Baylor coach Art Briles. "I think they did a great job again. No sacks for Petty, who threw 35 times in the first half."

      Richardson was 17-for-39 passing for 212 yards, including touchdown passes to wide receivers Dondre Daley and Tad Ecby. Richardson led the Cyclones (1-3, 0-2) in rushing, running for 99 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

      "It's the bread and butter of a spread team run game," Richardson said. "(Baylor) blitzed off the back side of it. The scraper didn't scrape hard enough. You have to make them pay when those kind of plays happen."

      Richardson said when facing Baylor, a team can't worry about what the Bear offense is going to do.

      "As an offense, you don't have anything to lose," Richardson said. "You just go out there and play your game."

      True freshman wide receiver Allen Lazard added three catches for 47 yards, as his role increased for the Cyclones, who have lost multiple wide receivers to season ending injuries.

      "I just try to go out there and do the best for our team," Lazard said.

      Petty was 4 of 4 for 58 yards on Baylor's second possession, leading to sophomore running back Linwood's 2-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead for Baylor.

      On the next drive, Petty leapt over Iowa State safety Kamari Cotton-Moya on his way to a 16-yard touchdown run.

      Iowa State went three-and-out on its first three possessions but then put together a 92-yard drive, finishing it with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Richardson to Daley to trim Baylor's lead to 14-7.

      Richardson threw an interception on the first play of the second quarter and Baylor converted the turnover into a touchdown four plays later when Petty connected with Coleman from 25 yards.

      Linwood ran 24 yards for his second touchdown with 8:45 left in the second quarter.

      NOTES: Only two teams have held Baylor below 30 points in the last two seasons -- Iowa State (21 points) in 2012 and Oklahoma State (17 points) in 2013. ... Baylor QB Bryce Petty has thrown a touchdown pass in 16 straight games. ... Baylor defeated Iowa State 71-7 in Waco last season. The 64-point margin of victory was Iowa State's most-lopsided loss ever.