College Football
NCAAF News Wire
  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Memphis suspends six bowl brawlers
    By The Sports Xchange

    Memphis suspended six players on Tuesday for their roles in an on-field brawl during last season's Miami Beach Bowl.

    • Starting linebacker Leonard Pegues will miss the first 1 1/2 games of the 2015 season, which includes the opener on Saturday against Missouri State and the first half of the second game against Kansas.

      Defensive tackle Isadore Outing was suspended for the opener. Defensive tackle Chauncey Lanier and offensive linemen Michael Stannard, Trevon Tate and Nick Thomas were suspended for one half each. Lanier is the only starter in that group.

      Fuente said the players performed an additional 326 hours of community service, which was more than the 220 hours the university required as part of their penalty.

      "The (American Athletic Conference) looked at the video for a long time," Fuente said. "We looked at it for a long time. We tried to do our best to come up with the appropriate punishments."

      The fight took place after Memphis wrapped up a 55-48 double-overtime victory over BYU on Dec. 22.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    OU's Mayfield ready to live childhood dream
    By The Sports Xchange

    NORMAN, Okla. -- Baker Mayfield's journey to become a starting quarterback has been one of the most remarkable in college football. He's done it twice.

    • When Mayfield arrived on the Oklahoma campus as a walk-on nearly two seasons ago, the Sooners were coming off a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama with a quarterback who appeared to solidified his spot for the next few seasons.

      But Trevor Knight struggled last season and after the season Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops brought in Lincoln Riley — a Texas Tech Air Raid offensive coordinator — to bring the Sooners offense back to what it was under Mike Leach.

      Mayfield ran the offense at Texas Tech, where he became the Red Raiders starting quarterback to start his true freshman season in 2013, and in high school growing up in the Austin, Texas, area.

      And even growing in the shadow of the University of Texas, Mayfield always wanted to be a Sooner.

      He'll make his OU debut at home against Akron on Saturday.

      "I wouldn't say I have butterflies," Mayfield said. "I don't usually get nervous. But it's going to be pretty exciting to run out of that tunnel and realize that I'm playing. It will be a dream come true, but I've got to realize I'm still playing football. I've just gotta relax and have fun."

      Mayfield's ascension comes with Riley's debut.

      The Sooners struggled to an 8-5 record last season and Stoops fired co-offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell in favor of bringing in Riley's up-tempo system.

      "Whereas last year the offense was, ‘You want to get a certain play into a certain look. If the defense was to bring a certain blitzer or run a certain coverage, you would want to check out of it.' The offense we have now, we're able to run all of our plays against different things," Mayfield said. "We don't have to have the perfect play called every time. We can roll with what Coach Riley calls from the sideline. And if we need to make an adjustment I can make it out there pretty quick."


      --WR Dede Westbrook, one of the top junior college wide receivers last season, is expected to be a big part of Lincoln Riley's Air Raid offense. Westbrook showed ability to go over the middle at Blinn Community College. That's a dynamic the Sooners lacked a year ago.

      --LT Orlando Brown, a redshirt freshman and son of the former NFL lineman of the same name, was named the starter on the left side late in camp. Brown replaces Daryl Williams, who is now in the NFL.

      --RB Semaje Perine set an NCAA single-game record with 427 rushing yards last season against Kansas. With Lincoln Riley's offense, there was concern about how Perine would fit in but both Riley and Bob Stoops have stressed that the running game wouldn't drop off even with the offensive shift.

      --RB Joe Mixon missed last season after being suspended as a true freshman last season. Mixon has drawn rave reviews for his performance since returning to the team and even with Perine as a returning star, figures to play a huge role for the Sooners this season, both in the backfield and possibly in the slot.

      --DT Matt Romar will be one of the players to fill the hole in the middle of the defensive line after Jordan Phillips' departure. Romar played 12 games last season and steadily improved through the season.

      SERIES HISTORY: This is the first meeting between Oklahoma and Akron.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "Lincoln Riley has a great playbook. He likes to do the up-tempo stuff, so that gets us better prepared for the Baylors and the TCUs. It also conditions us. We get into those long games and overtime if it comes to that and we'll be ready to do." -- Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas on Riley's Air Raid offense preparing the Sooners' defense for the top offenses in the Big 12.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    UCLA suspends CB Adams
    By The Sports Xchange

    UCLA will be without an all-conference defender when it plays Virginia in its season opener on Saturday because of off-the-field transgressions.

    • UCLA head coach Jim Mora said Tuesday that All-Pac-12 cornerback Ishmael Adams was suspended indefinitely from the team.

      The suspension come a day after reports surfaced that Adams had been arrested for an alleged robbery.

      Adams allegedly took a cellphone from an Uber driver early Sunday morning, the UCLA police department told He was arrested and his bail was set at $100,000.

      It's unclear how long Adams will sidelined. Mora said Adams will remain suspended until more facts are gathered.

      After facing Virginia, the 13th-ranked Bruins play UNLV before a tough four-game stretch against BYU, No. 22 Arizona, No. 15 Arizona State and No. 21 Stanford.

      Not only was Adams a first-team all-conference defensive back last season, but he was the Bruins' top punt and kick returner in 2014. He averaged 9.4 yards per punt return last year, which ranked fourth in the conference.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    All eyes on Lambert in Georgia opener
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt took his time before naming his starting quarterback, and in the end it sounded more like he ran out of time than declared an undisputed winner of the ongoing competition.

    • Richt waited until the final day of August before choosing Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert to start the opener Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.

      It was a surprise choice by Richt, who didn't commit to Lambert beyond the first game and said the quarterback competition is not over.

      "Lambert is going to start the game," Richt said. "There may be others that get in the game, but he's the starter. It's been a very, very close competition and it's still being contested. But at this point, we felt it was wise to name the starter and get him the reps with the No. 1 unit."

      At 6-5, 220 pounds, Lambert is a pocket-passer, who started nine games for Virginia last season as a sophomore, throwing 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He arrived on campus in Athens in the middle of the summer and didn't practice with the Bulldogs until the beginning of August. Yet, he did enough in just a few weeks to get the nod against a Louisiana-Monroe team projected to be in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt Conference.

      Lambert beat out Brice Ramsey, considered to be the favorite heading into August, and junior Faton Bauta. But don't be surprised to see two or even all three get playing time Saturday.

      On the official depth chart, Ramsey and Bauto are listed as co-second-stringers.

      Despite a question mark at quarterback, Georgia is picked to win the SEC East and be in the College Football Playoff race. That's how talented the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball. Lambert won't be asked to lead victories through all-out passing attacks, not with Heisman Trophy candidate Nick Chubb at running back and a pair of projected high NFL draft picks on the offensive line in guard Greg Pyke and tackle John Theus.

      The Bulldogs' defense should be dynamicin defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's second season in Athens. Linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins have next-level talent, and keep an eye on talented defensive end/outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter. The No. 1 recruit in the nation in the Class of 2014, Carter made an impact as a freshman and is poised to take the next step this year.

      Georgia has a lot of the pieces to have a special season. Do the Bulldogs have the quarterback? That's the biggest question, and even Richt did sound convinced he has the answer.


      --RB Nick Chubb: Last season, as a true freshman, Chubb quickly made Georgia fans feel better about first-round draft pick Todd Gurley's injury-plagued season in Athens. Chubb rushed for 1,594 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman, despite splitting carries with Gurley when the current St. Louis Rams rookie was healthy. Chubb is considered a top-tier Heisman Trophy candidate.

      --QB Greyson Lambert: A graduate transfer from Virginia, Lambert is a 6-5, 220-pound pocket passer, who started eight games for the Cavaliers last season, before losing his starting job. He arrived at Georgia in July and didn't practice with the Bulldogs until early August. But in just four weeks, he was able to earn the starting nod in the opener against Louisana-Monroe.

      --LBs Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins: The duo of future NFL draft picks combined for 11 sacks last season. Now, entering their second season in defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's scheme, Floyd and Jenkins are expected to anchor a vastly improved Georgia D.

      SERIES HISTORY: Georgia is 2-0 against Louisiana-Monroe, with the Bulldogs winning 44-7 in their last meeting in 2005.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: “Anything that happened at Virginia had nothing to do with the decision for him to start. It might have had something to do with the decision to have him come on our campus because that's what we had on him to go by. We didn't invite him blindly. We watched his film and felt like he could function and do the things that we're going to ask the quarterback to do here at Georgia. But we didn't say: ‘He's gonna come in and be our starter' by any means. We told him he would compete for that job and legitimately have a shot to compete for that job.” –Georgia coach Mark Richt to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Michigan State poised for playoff appearance
    By The Sports Xchange

    EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has been hammering home one point since the Spartans rallied to beat Baylor in the Cotton Bowl – his team is selling results.

    • No longer is it hope, like it was in November of 2006 when Dantonio, then the coach at Cincinnati, took over a Michigan State program that hadn't sniffed any level of consistent success in more than a decade.

      The years of mediocrity and inconsistency had left the program with no direction. However, what Dantonio has done in his eight seasons has been nothing short of remarkable, winning 11 or more games in four of the last five seasons.

      The Spartans have played in a bowl game in each of those eight season, winning the last four, including the Rose Bowl. They've captured two Big Ten titles and handed Ohio State coach Urban Meyer his only loss against a conference opponent in the 2013 Big Ten title game.

      After two straight top-five finishes in the national rankings, Michigan State is among the elite. The Spartans are ranked No. 5 in the preseason Associated Press poll, the same spot they finished last season.

      Needless to say, the results speak for themselves.

      However, that doesn't mean the Spartans are resting on their laurels. They understand they didn't reach their goals last season, losing to Oregon and Ohio State.

      And it doesn't make them feel any better that those were the teams playing in the national title game. They know how good they are, but the want more.

      "We're here but we need to go farther," Dantonio said. "We're already up there. We're competing at a very high level. But we need to go a little bit higher to get where we want to be.

      "There's no guarantees in any season. You get evaluated at the end of the season and we have our first challenge as we go over to Western Michigan. We'll come ready to play and we'll come fresh."

      With a rematch coming next week against Oregon, Dantonio is convinced his team's focus and maturity will be on display when it faces a Western Michigan team that won eight games a year ago.

      "Our football team has always done a great job in terms of focusing on the present, focusing on the moment," Dantonio said. "But especially in your first game, I don't think people look too far in advance. Pretty much everybody concentrates on that first game. Our focus is entirely on Western. It has been here since probably late last week. We're looking forward to the moment."



      --QB Connor Cook enters his senior season with a 23-3 mark as a starter and has led the Spartans to wins in the Big Ten Championship game as well as Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl victories. However, he has played in the shadow of the quarterback crew at Ohio State, and might again this season. But that doesn't mean he won't get noticed. After throwing for more than 3,000 yards last season, he is a darkhorse in the Heisman Trophy race and could end up being a high draft pick in the spring. He has a veteran offensive line protecting him and if he has a standout year it could lead the Spartans to a playoff spot.

      --RB Madre London has taken control of the running race through preseason camp, bettering sophomore Gerald Holmes and freshman LJ Scott, as well as junior Delton Williams. It's been a tight race to replace Jeremy Langford and it could still end up being a group effort, but at 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, London has shown the size and speed to be effective and will get the first shot to be the Spartans' main ball carrier.

      --S Montae Nicholson started three games last season as a true freshman and has been the talk of preseason camp as he takes over as a full-time starter. At 6-2 and nearly 220 pounds, he certainly has the size but he's also one of the fastest players on the team. He placed in the long jump in the Big Ten indoor track meet last spring and is on the verge of becoming a star in the Michigan State secondary. He's also dabbled on the offensive side of the ball, and a few plays at receiver wouldn't be out of the question.

      SERIES HISTORY: Michigan State leads 11-2 (Michigan State won, 26-13, in 2013)

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "To me, as long as it's packed, it's all the same. No difference to me. If it's packed, it's all the same. I'm sure it will be packed and there will be a lot of green there. Be exciting." – Dantonio on opening the season at Western Michigan's Waldo Stadium

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Coastal Carolina joins Sun Belt Conference
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Sun Belt Conference officially added Coastal Carolina as a new member on Tuesday.

    • The announcement came after the Chanticleers accepted the conference's invitation to join for football in 2017 while the other sports come in a year earlier during the 2016-17 academic year. The school is currently a member of the Big South Conference.

      Coastal Carolina's football program is at the Football Championship Subdivision level and and will move up to FBS by 2018. The Chanticleers will be eligible for contend for a conference championship in 2017 but not for a bowl game until 2018.

      "On behalf of all of us at Coastal Carolina University, I'm honored to accept the invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference," Coastal Carolina president David A. DeCenzo said in a statement. "I am grateful to Sun Belt Commissioner, Mr. Karl Benson, for his steadfast support of CCU, and to the Sun Belt presidents and chancellors, who honored CCU by selecting their 12th member school."

      Coast Carolina will boost the Sun Belt to 12 members in 2017 and will be split into two divisions based on geography.

      Other members of the conference are Appalachian State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Troy, Arkansas State, Little Rock, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, Texas Arlington and Texas State. Idaho and New Mexico State are football-playing schools only.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Question linger for LSU entering opener
    By The Sports Xchange

    BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU's questions about its quarterback and defense briefly shared center stage with concerns about head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron leading up to the Tigers season opener against McNeese State on Saturday in Tiger Stadium.

    • The Tigers revealed that Cameron has been treated for prostate cancer and received a "clean bill of health" in mid-August. He's expected to maintain all of his responsibilities.

      Miles missed his first Monday news conference of the season and drove himself to a hospital for a brief visit after feeling "under the weather." He was back in his office and at practice later in the day. He later said he simply didn't feel well when he decided to go to the hospital and attributed that to drinking too much coffee.

      With the coaches' health issues apparently under control, LSU was able to turn its attention back to the team.

      Shortly after finishing practice Monday night, Miles announced that Brandon Harris will start the opener at quarterback.

      "Absolutely, you betcha," Miles said when asked if Harris would start. "Unless something immaculate for some reason takes place this week. Right now, it seems like a foregone conclusion."

      Miles wouldn't say if incumbent Anthony Jennings would also play, but indicated it was a strong possibility.

      "Brandon Harris, he's throwing the ball more accurately," Miles said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do."

      Harris and Jennings are listed as sharing the starting quarterback condition on the initial depth chart.

      As for the defense, the Tigers are optimistic about a talented unit, but there is uncertainty about what to expect with a new coordinator (Kevin Steele) and a need for a stronger pass rush and more takeaways than LSU had last season under former coordinator John Chavis.

      McNeese, which is located about a two-hour rive west of the LSU campus, provides a tune-up before the Tigers begin SEC play at Mississippi State and play their conference home opener against Auburn.



      --QB Brandon Harris will start the opener, but the competition between him and Anthony Jennings is ongoing. Harris took the lead during the summer while Jennings was suspended because of an arrest, though he was reinstated after charges weren't filed. Erratic quarterback play was a significant liability last season and unless Harris or Jennings shows marked improvement, this will likely remain a two-man job.

      --RB Leonard Fournette is unquestionably the Tigers most important player. He has the talent to be one of the most dynamic players in the country. LSU is not only counting on him to make life easier for the quarterbacks, but he'll also be a factor on kickoff returns.

      --S Rickey Jefferson was thrust into the starting lineup late in preseason camp when Jalen Mills suffered a sprained ankle that is expected to sideline him for at least the first two games of the season. Jefferson, younger brother of former Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson, has impressed with his talent but has been unable to earn a significant role in his previous two seasons. He now has an opportunity to change that.

      SERIES HISTORY: LSU won the only other meeting with its in-state FCS rival, 32-10 in 2010.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated." -- LSU Coach Les Miles on his brief, precautionary trip to a hospital after feeling "under the weather."

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Gophers play protection game vs. TCU
    By The Sports Xchange

    It's hard enough to beat elite teams, even when you're playing your best football.

    • Last year in Fort Worth, the University of Minnesota played nowhere near the vicinity of its best football in a 30-7 loss to Texas Christian University last Sept. 13.

      The Golden Gophers turned the ball over five times in the loss, accounting for 20 of TCU's points, including a pair of touchdowns in the decisive first half, which gave the Horned Frogs a 24-0 lead at the break.

      Minnesota hopes to turn the tables this time around when the two teams open the season in a nationally televised game at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday night. TCU comes to town ranked No. 2 in the country, giving this one plenty of buzz around the Twin Cities.

      "About everywhere I go, I think the people are excited," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. "I think the state is excited. I don't know how you couldn't be. You're going to go first game out of the gate against a great opponent, first game live, 8 p.m. For a player and a fan and for our state, they get that recognition, you can't put a price on it."

      Kill acknowledged his team's penchant for giving away the ball against TCU last season and said that must change if the Gophers hope to spring the first upset of the 2015 college football season.

      "You turn the ball over five times, you're not beating anybody," Kill said. "There's a lot of things that we can do on our own to take care of business to be able to have a good outing."

      In addition to protecting the football, the Gophers defense will be charged with finding a way to slow TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. Boykin passed for 258 yards and two scores and also ran for 96 yards against the Gophers a year ago.

      A preseason favorite for the Heisman Trophy, Boykin will present Minnesota's stingy defense with perhaps its biggest test of the season right off the bat.

      "Boykin is a guy that's got a very strong arm and he can throw bee-bees out there, gets the ball out quick so he's hard to sack, and he can run it as well as throw it," Kill said. "That's probably the toughest thing is being able to keep him locked in the pocket and don't let him get out of there and start running around everywhere."



      --QB Mitch Leidner was near the bottom of the Big Ten in many passing categories a year ago, but is coming into this season with confidence after a good offseason of work, including a standout performance at a Manning Passing Camp. The Gophers offense will need a big-time performance from him if it hopes to knock off the No. 2 Horned Frogs. Gophers coach Jerry Kill said he believes it could happen. "The last two weeks, he's been unbelievably sharp," Kill said. "It's the best I've seen him look since I've been here. He's done a really, really good job."

      --CB Eric Murray could be a high pick in next spring's NFL Draft, and with one of the most explosive offenses in the country coming to town on Thursday, the Gophers need him to be at his best. TCU's receivers are some of the quickest in the country, which will provide Murray and the entire Minnesota secondary with a good test. "We ran with them a year ago," Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. "A couple of the fades, we were right there and their receivers made great catches. You're going to lose a jump ball every now and then. You go through all the film and they didn't outrun us."

      --DE Theiren Cockran led all returning Gophers with four sacks a year ago and will need to provide plenty of heat on TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, who carved up Minnesota to the tune of 354 total yards in their meeting last season.

      SERIES HISTORY: The series is tied, 1-1. TCU defeated Minnesota 30-7 in Fort Worth last season. Minnesota won 9-7 in the only other meeting in 1974.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "Somebody said (we are) 17-point underdogs or something like that. What have we got to lose? We just go out there and have some fun and play hard and see what happens." -- Gophers coach Jerry Kill.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    High goal for Tide: regain identity
    By The Sports Xchange

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Throughout the offseason, Alabama coach Nick Saban and some of the Crimson Tide's players have talked about regaining the program's identity.

    • But what does that mean exactly?

      "We want to be a team that no one wants to play," Tide linebacker Dillon Lee said. "We want people to hate playing us, and really just be a nightmare for our opponents."

      Alabama built its dynasty around that mantra from 2009-12, but that hasn't been the case in the last two seasons. But the Tide will get a chance to take a step toward changing that perception against Wisconsin on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

      While No. 3 Alabama is a double-digit favorite against the Wisconsin, Saban isn't looking past the 20th-ranked Badgers.

      "This is obviously a very, very good team that we're playing," Saban said. "They won 11 games last year and they've got a significant number of starters back -- five or six on offense, five or six on defense. They have their quarterback back. They have a very good runner, even thought that wasn't their starter, he gained almost 1,000 yards a year ago. ... One of the top defensive teams in the country. They're very well coached.

      "They do a really, really good job of executing and playing together on defense and play with a tremendous amount of toughness and really, really play with a lot of energy and effort."



      --RB Derrick Henry. Henry was Alabama's leading rusher last season with 990 yards and 11 touchdowns. He'll be the centerpiece of the Tide's offense this season.

      --LB Reggie Ragland. After totaling 95 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss as a junior, Ragland turned down the NFL to return for his senior year. He'll be the Tide's defensive leader.

      --RB Kenyan Drake. Drake is a wild-card on the offense. He'll see a lot of time at both wide receiver and running back. If he can stay healthy and hold onto the ball, Drake could replace some of Amari Cooper's production.

      SERIES HISTORY: Wisconsin leads the series 1-0. The last meeting came on Nov. 3, 1928. (Wisconsin 15, Alabama 0)

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "In some kind of way, I feel like we've gotten away from that -- playing with more effort, playing with more toughness, getting more turnovers sometimes have resulted from that. Some of the things we have to improve on go right back to that core of, this is the kind of team we want to be. I think that may have more to do with the success of this team than maybe anything else. And I've been pleased with the progress that we've made in that and the commitment that we have. But the challenge is always, can you sustain it?" -- Alabama coach Nick Saban

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Ducks QB Adams earns job, trust quickly
    By The Sports Xchange

    EUGENE, Ore. -- Vernon Adams took just two weeks to earn a starting spot at Oregon.

    • The senior graduate transfer from Eastern Washington joined the Ducks late for fall camp on Aug. 14 and on Aug. 28 he was named the starting quarterback when Oregon opens the season against his former team on Saturday. Adams was picked over redshirt junior Jeff Lockie, who has been Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota's backup the past three seasons.

      "There are a ton of factors and it is not a drastic deal," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "It's a little bit here, a little bit there. When you get into those things it's not like it is 100 percent to 80 percent, but just enough in a lot of categories to create separation."

      The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Adams threw for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns with 31 interceptions and completed 64.8 percent of his passes during three seasons at Eastern Washington while winning 28 of 34 starts. In two games against Pac-12 schools, Adams combined to throw 11 touchdowns passes in a win over Oregon State and a loss to Washington.

      Now Adams is making the move from FCS to FBS for one season and his new teammates think he is ready for the advanced level.

      "Vernon has been doing a great job," wide receiver Dwayne Stanford said. "He can push the ball down the field and he has a great arm. He likes to take shots and he is really accurate with the deep ball. I feel very comfortable with him."

      Adams inherits a talented offense including sophomore Royce Freeman, who ran for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Oregon also returns its top two receivers as Byron Marshall had 74 catches for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns while Stanford had 43 catches for 639 yards and six touchdowns.

      "Vernon has a good arm, he's mobile in the pocket and he knows the plays," Marshall said. "He is getting more used to the playbook and he has played before."

      Adams, who has not been made available to the media since joining the Ducks, quickly gained the confidence of his new teammates.

      "I trust the coaches to put the best guy out there and in our offense we know that we have a lot of guys capable at that position," Freeman said.

      In an ironic twist, Adams will make his debut against his former team, but Helfrich said he would not seek a scouting report from the quarterback.

      "That's not something we've talked about or will talk about," Helfrich said. "We're going to watch their film, which we've already done, and all those things and look at their scheme, and then it's all about us and how we can execute."



      --WR Byron Marshall ran for 1,038 yards as a sophomore before being moved to wide receiver last season and totaling 1,003 receiving yards. He is back at wide receiver this season, but with backup running back Thomas Tyner out for the season due to a shoulder injury, Marshall could be needed to line up at running back in a couple series.

      --WR Charles Nelson spent most of the spring at defensive back as the Ducks considered using the multi-dimensional sophomore to help out an inexperienced defensive backfield, but he was moved back to wide receiver in the fall. Nelson had 23 catches for 327 yards and five touchdowns last season while running 11 times for 101 yards.

      --CB Chris Seisay is a full-time starter for the first time as a redshirt sophomore and the most experienced cornerback in a young secondary. Seisay started three games last year and had a career-high seven tackles in a loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff national championship game while filling in for injured Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

      SERIES HISTORY: This is the first meeting between Oregon and Eastern Washington.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "Vernon has just done a lot of good things as have the other guys. I think our quarterback position is a lot better now than it was last spring or even early fall because all the guys competed better." -- Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, talking about new quarterback Vernon Adams.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Meyer mum on Ohio State QB
    By The Sports Xchange

    One of the great mysteries in college football during the 2015 preseason remains a secret.

    • Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Monday during his weekly news conference that the question on everyone's mind -- Will J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones start at quarterback in the opener next Monday night at Virginia Tech? -- won't be answered publicly until game time (8 p.m. on ESPN).

      "We'll announce the starter when the first guy takes the snap," Meyer said. "It's still very close. Both guys are performing well."

      Meyer praised both quarterbacks and said he has seen little separation between the two since the start of fall camp. But he hinted that the coaching staff would likely zero in on a starter by Wednesday when the top-ranked Buckeyes begin game preparation for the Hokies.

      "I imagine if one of them was way ahead I probably would announce it, but they're not, and it's more for our team than who we're playing," Meyer said.

      Meyer also raised the possibility that both quarterbacks could play against Virginia Tech and that the competition could continue into the season.

      "I'd like to see both guys involved," Meyer said.

      It's a good problem to have for the Buckeyes. Both quarterbacks have sterling credentials.

      Barrett was thrust into the starting job last August when Braxton Miller went down with a shoulder injury in preseason and proceeded to lead Ohio State to an 11-1 record during the regular season until he suffered a broken ankle against Michigan in late November.

      Barrett was named one of six team captains by his peers last week, but Meyer said that doesn't mean he has an edge in the quarterback competition.

      The strong-armed Jones stepped in and took control of the offense after Barrett went down without the Buckeyes missing a beat, calmly helping direct Ohio State to the Big Ten and College Football Playoff national championships. A top NFL prospect, Jones decided against entering the draft to return to school.

      "I don't know J.T.'s record, but it's pretty good. Cardale, I believe, is 3-0. So who gives us at that moment a chance to win," Meyer said.

      There's also a lot of interest in the guy they replaced at quarterback. Miller, the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, has spent the summer and fall camp transitioning to wide receiver/H-back and is starting to get the hang of playing the position.

      "Braxton has really the last two days has been outstanding," Meyer said. "He's the whole idea of his body getting used to basically a track practice every day is taking root."

      The Buckeyes will be counting on Miller and experienced wide receiver Michael Thomas to shoulder much of the load on the outside after losing returning wideouts/H-backs Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson for the opener because of one-game suspensions for a violation of team rules during the offseason.

      The Buckeyes also will be missing All-American defensive end Joey Bosa, who was suspended for the opener with the others. But they won't be lacking motivation after Virginia Tech put the only blemish on their record last year with an upset in Ohio Stadium.

      "There is a little nudge around here because they beat us, and really the way they beat us," Meyer said. "Offensively, right now there is a lot of distaste for the way that thing happened, and that's not taking away from their personnel, because I think they have excellent personnel, especially on defense. But the way that happened, it was not -- a lot of it was lack of preparation."



      --QB J.T. Barrett had a record-setting first season as a starter for Ohio State in 2014 before he sustained a broken ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan. He's fully recovered and contending with Cardale Jones to be the starter for the opener against Virginia Tech. Barrett, a redshirt sophomore, was named a team captain last week, an indication of the players' respect for him. Even if Jones is named the starter, Barrett is likely to see playing time.

      --QB Cardale Jones had barely played when he was thrust into service at the end of last season when starting quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with injury, but all he did was lead Ohio State to a Big Ten and national championship. His performance didn't guarantee a starting job this year. Jones and Barrett were battling throughout fall camp. Coach Urban Meyer and his staff are charged with the difficult decision to choose Jones or Barrett. The good news for the Buckeyes is both have similar skill sets and are highly gifted.

      --RB Ezekiel Elliott is listed as one of the early favorites for the Heisman Trophy after his romp through the postseason last year with 696 yards rushing on 76 carries and eight touchdowns in three games that netted a Big Ten and national championship. Elliott is primed for a new season and could reach the 2,000-yard plateau behind an experienced and talented offensive line.

      --LB Joshua Perry is one of six team captains and a leader on defense of a strong linebacking corps. Perry's 124 tackles last season led the team and ranked second in the Big Ten and 19th nationally. He had a career-best 18 tackles against Penn State.

      SERIES HISTORY: Virginia Tech leads Ohio State, 1-0, after winning 35-21 last season in Ohio Stadium.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not deciding between average and good. We're deciding between good and good. We're pretty good at both spots. So we're trying to decide because, obviously, they've executed in games, big games, at a high level. So that's the thing that makes it tough and makes it the most intriguing story going." -- Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner on the quarterback battle between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Huskers happy to begin anew under Riley
    By The Sports Xchange

    LINCOLN, Neb. -- Mike Riley enters his first game as Nebraska's football coach fully embracing the fan and media attention.

    • Of course, that could change if Riley, the former Oregon State and San Diego Chargers head coach, loses Nebraska's first season-opening football game since 1985, when Bobby Bowden and Florida State won on a blazing hot afternoon in Lincoln.

      For now, though, Riley remains appreciative, if not in awe, of the many lights, cameras and notepads.

      "It might not be comparable to anywhere," Riley said Monday. "It's exceedingly good. The one thing I have noted about Nebraska in general is that the people care. And they care in a lot of different ways, but one of the ways is obvious -- the interest in the program.

      "People care about it, they're interested in it and you don't really want it the other way. This would, I would say, be at the highest level and that's a good thing. We in this business understand expectations."

      Riley was 9-5 in season openers at Oregon State, including losses to Sacramento State in 2011 and Eastern Washington in 2013. He also beat No. 13 Wisconsin to begin 2012 and lost by one in overtime at No. 3 LSU in 2004.

      Riley, for the record, said this Nebraska team would've beaten his best Oregon State team, for what that's worth.

      Riley, though, wouldn't commit to a win total he foresees for the coming season. Nine wins has been the absolute least that's been expected around Lincoln for more than 40 years. And Bo Pelini was fired after six seasons in which he never won fewer than nine games.

      "I'm not going to put any parameters on it nor make any predictions about it," Riley said. "What we really want to do is win this week and grow from there. That has got to be the recipe for a good season all the time.

      "We obviously understand that we want to win the championship and all that, but there's a long road to go down and things to do before we can make that relevant. We just want to play our best football, find out a lot about our team in the first game and then get better from there."



      --LB Josh Banderas has solidified a starting position after, quite frankly, getting yanked around by the previous coaching staff to the point a lost Banderas lacked confidence. That's not a problem anymore, and now the junior will have a significant role Saturday in keeping an eye on BYU quarterback and running threat Taysom Hill.

      --WR Jordan Westerkamp enters Saturday as Nebraska's most experienced and most accomplished receiver. Can the junior make a big play or two in the passing game? Also, Westerkamp and his sure hands are in charge of fielding -- and, ideally, returning -- punts against a rugby style punter, with regular return man DeMornay Pierson-El sidelined with a foot injury.

      --QB Tommy Armstrong enters his junior season intent on improving his 52.9 percent career passing percentage. That's a significant task for a quarterback who's adjusting to an offense with more West Coast principles than what Armstrong's been accustomed to running. Most important for Armstrong against BYU -- don't commit turnovers.

      SERIES HISTORY: This is the first meeting between Nebraska and BYU.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have some head-buttin' mother-fathers in there." -- Nebraska senior defensive tackle Jack Gangwish, emphasizing how ready Husker players are to begin the season.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Baylor expects to be headline material
    By The Sports Xchange

    WACO, Texas -- Baylor coach Art Briles claimed it's been a rough off-season for the Bears because of the way their 2014 campaign ended.

    • There's a lot to back up his statement. After being left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff, Baylor let a 20-point lead over Michigan State slip away and lost the Cotton Bowl, 42-41. As a result, Briles claimed the whole program has had a collective sour taste in its mouth since January.

      The Bears will have a chance to change that starting Friday when they travel to Dallas to open the season at SMU.

      Off the field, Baylor has had more than a sour taste in its mouth. The Bears preseason camp has been overshadowed by the sexual assault conviction of Sam Ukwuachu in August. Ukwuachu transferred to Baylor from Boise State, sat out the 2013 season and didn't play in 2014 due to the sexual assault charge. Regardless of the fact that Ukwuachu never actually played for Baylor, the Bears have been criticized for bringing the player to campus and how they handled their investigation after charges were levied.

      Then last week Baylor President Ken Starr announced the school would hire independent investigators to evaluate how the case was handled within the athletic department. Faced with a question about the investigation at his Monday press conference, Briles said he was happy to hear it would take place, though he said he had not evaluated the school's current report on how the case was handled. Asked pointedly how he felt about the criticism the school has received, Briles diplomatically said he thinks everyone is entitled to their opinion.

      As for how his team has handled the controversy, Briles indicated focusing on the players on the field has made that part easy.

      "Honestly, I haven't felt anything," Briles said. "The thing about youth that keeps me going is that they're so resilient first and foremost, forgiving, nonjudgmental, just have good spirits and high hopes. That part of it has been, I don't want to say refreshing, but just encouraging."



      --QB Seth Russell sits down in the driver's seat of one of the most dynamic offensive vehicles in college football. However, he's not exactly new to the role. Through one start and lots of mop-up duty over the last two seasons, Russell should be comfortable in the role. If the Bears miss a beat this season, it's doubtful it will be Russell's fault. The question is whether or not Russell can surpass his predecessors.

      --When DE Jamal Palmer last played a full season, he held his own in most stat columns with his more heralded teammate Shawn Oakman. Palmer posted 11 tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks in 2013 and had 2.5 sacks in a little more than four games before a season-ending injury in 2014. While Oakman was block-able for huge chunks of last season, a healthy Palmer could present really worries for Bears opponents.

      --RB Shock Linwood rushed for 1,293 yards and 16 TDs while sharing the spotlight with a dynamic passing game full of big, fast receivers, not to mention a couple of other productive running backs. With a new quarterback lining up in the shotgun, Linwood could be primed for a Heisman-candidate type of season.

      SERIES HISTORY: Baylor leads SMU, 37-36-7.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're still in pain from the Cotton Bowl. We've lived for seven months with a really, really bad taste in our mouth. This an opportunity to let food taste good and music sound good again because it hasn't for seven months in our football lives." -- Baylor coach Art Briles on the Bears' offseason after losing a 20-point lead and falling to Michigan State, 42-41, in the Cotton Bowl.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Sly Harbaugh leaning toward Rudock for Michigan's opener
    By The Sports Xchange

    New coach Jim Harbaugh is playing sly and not releasing the name of his starting quarterback, but all indications point to senior Jake Rudock taking the first offensive snap of Michigan's season-opening contest at Utah.

    • Rudock, a two-year starter at Iowa who transferred to Michigan during the offseason, has the overall game experience that competitor Shane Morris lacks. And Harbaugh wants to come in with a bang when the Wolverines face the Utes on Thursday.

      Harbaugh said Tuesday that the two quarterbacks know which one will start the opener, but he wasn't ready to reveal a name.

      "I feel like I want both of them to prepare that they're going to be the starter, I want both of them going into this game with the mindset that they're one play away or starting, that's the mindset I always want our quarterback and backup quarterback (to have)," Harbaugh said. "They know (who will start). ...

      "We know who's going to start, we know who's going to go in second or who is going to go in next. We want them both to prepare like they're going to be the starter. I don't know how to make it any more clear than that. (Keeping Utah from knowing) is another positive or byproduct of it, then we'll take that as well."

      Rudock passed for 16 touchdowns against five interceptions last season and his ability to avoid turnovers will be key if Michigan is to win Harbaugh's debut. He is an adept short passer but struggles when he attempts to stretch the field.

      Morris has thrown five interceptions and zero touchdown passes in 87 career passes. He has progressed under Harbaugh's tutelage but starting him against the Utes -- who dominated the Wolverines 26-10 last season -- doesn't appear to be a solid option.

      Regardless of the quarterback situation, the expectation is that Michigan will field a much better team than it did last season when it floundered to a 5-7 record under fired Brady Hoke.

      Harbaugh's arrival has created plenty of buzz and his debut as coach makes the Michigan-Utah game one of the more intriguing contests of college football's opening week.

      "Our expectations are very high," Harbaugh told reporters during one of the few times he met with them in August. "It will come through work but we have no predictions or crystal ball seeing into the future, not do we went it to be that way.

      "We embrace the fact that there will be great competition and we have to get ourselves prepared for that."



      --MLB Joe Bolden is the defense's emotional leader as well as being the unit's top player. He recorded 102 tackles last season as a junior and is primed to deliver big as a senior. He had five double-digit tackle outings last season, including a career-best 14 versus Maryland. The 6-foot-3, 237-pound Bolden has 12 tackles for loss and five sacks in his career.

      --TE Jake Butt has shown glimpses of stardom over his first two seasons and could flourish this season. Coach Jim Harbaugh emphasized utilizing the tight end when he was leading Stanford's program and the philosophy will present Butt with the opportunity to take a step forward. The 6-foot-6, 248-pound Butt has started 13 games and caught 41 passes over the last two campaigns.

      --SS Jabrill Peppers arrived on campus with a lot of hype but his 2014 season ended after just three games because of knee and ankle injuries. He later received a medical redshirt and had a strong fall camp and the Wolverines are expecting him to make a huge impact in the back end. Peppers will also be used in the return game and there's a chance he will see some time on offense.

      SERIES HISTORY: Utah leads Michigan, 2-1, and posted a 26-10 victory last season in Ann Arbor.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015
    Report: O'Leary seeks permanent UCF AD job
    By The Sports Xchange

    George O'Leary wants to become the permanent athletic director at Central Florida and step away from coaching after this season, according to a report.

    • O'Leary was named the school's interim AD in June after former athletic director Todd Stansbury left for Oregon State and has expressed interest in the full-time job with the Golden Knights, USA Today reported Tuesday.

      According to the report, UCF has put its national search for a new AD on hold while school officials determine whether O'Leary is a viable candidate.

      The 69-year-old O'Leary has no athletic department administrative experience beyond football, leaving school officials reportedly concerns about has the ability to handle the position.

      O'Leary took the head coaching job at UCF in 2004 and has compiled a 81-49 record with seven bowl appearances in 10 seasons. The Golden Knights are coming off back-to-back championships in the American Athletic Conference in 2013 and 2014.

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    Lambert named Georgia's starting QB
    By The Sports Xchange

    Greyson Lambert, a transfer from Virginia, will be the starting quarterback for Georgia's opener, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt announced Monday.

    • Lambert won the job over sophomore Brice Ramsey and junior Faton Bauta. Ramsey was the backup last season to Hutson Mason and is the No. 2 quarterback this season.

      Lambert started nine games for the Cavaliers last season and completed 59 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Virginia finished 5-7.

      Ramsey and Bauta have combined for only 44 pass attempts in their college careers, but they came out of Georgia's spring practice as the leaders for the quarterback job.

      Lambert was added to the competition after losing his starting job at Virginia during the spring and transferring to Georgia. Because he already graduated, Lambert could enroll at Georgia and be eligible to play immediately.

      Richt did not specify what separated Lambert from the other two quarterbacks, saying only, "It was just a cumulative grade so to speak, a cumulative performance."

      The No. 9 Bulldogs open their season Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    Golson will start at QB for Florida State
    By The Sports Xchange

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- At 1 p.m. on the Monday of game week, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher could only smile when he heard the question he knew was coming.

    • "So ... have you decided on a starting quarterback?" was the inevitable inquiry from the media just five days before the No. 10 Seminoles were scheduled to open the 2015 season at home against Texas State.

      To which Fisher grinned and replied: "I have a good idea of where we're going with things. You'll all know very soon."

      Some five hours later, Seminole fans finally had their answer when Fisher made the announcement after practice.

      Leading Florida State in 2015 will be graduate transfer Everett Golson, the former Notre Dame quarterback who came to Tallahassee this offseason seeking a shot at redemption -- and another shot at glory. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior was chosen over Sean Maguire, a 6-3, 221-pound redshirt junior who had just one start to his credit coming into the season.

      Golson, meanwhile, brings loads of experience to the position, having led the Fighting Irish to the BCS National Championship game as a freshman in 2012 before sitting out the following season (academic suspension) and eventually returning to Notre Dame, where he struggled with inconsistency last year. He opted to leave South Bend for his final season under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule that allows players who have already fulfilled their undergrad requirements to play for another school immediately without sitting out a season.

      Golson has the chore of replacing Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, who led the Seminoles to the national championship in 2013 and to the four-team national playoff last season.

      While the dual-threat Golson -- who last season passed for 3,445 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 283 yards and eight more scores -- was the clear fan favorite in Tallahassee, Fisher said this year's competition was closer than expected.

      "(It was) very close (in camp). Just like (two years ago) between Jacob (Coker) and Jameis (Winston), when everyone said Jameis took off, both of those guys played tremendously well and both of these guys did, too," Fisher said of Golson and Maguire, whose lone start and win came last season when he filled in for a suspended Winston against Clemson. "Both (Everett and Sean) had their moments where they shined and both improved in a lot of the areas where they had weaknesses. I really feel confident with either guy playing ... I really do."

      But rather than use a two-quarterback system -- "I don't coach like that, where one guy's always looking over to the sideline every mistake he makes," Fisher said Monday -- Golson will now be leading the team he almost single-handedly beat last season in Tallahassee as Notre Dame's starting quarterback. What would have been the Fighting Irish's go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to play was negated by a penalty for offensive pass interference, and the Seminoles prevailed, 31-27.

      "Where we're at right now, it's best for the team," Fisher said after Monday's practice. "But we're definitely going to need both guys throughout the year, so I'm glad it was a tough decision and both guys are playing so well.

      Neither Golson nor Maguire was made available to the media after practice. But several of their teammates were, and they seemed pleased by Fisher's decision.

      "I guess y'all figured out who the quarterback is," linebacker Terrance Smith said with a smile. "We support whatever decision they make. We like Everett -- when the play breaks down, he has the ability to use his feet to extend the play a little bit. And, if necessary, he can bring the ball down and run. Just having that x-factor, that probably gave him the edge (over Sean)."

      Added starting linebacker Jacob Pugh: "Both of them are real good quarterbacks. And it was a great competition. I really didn't know which one was going to be the quarterback. Both of them are great."

      So with a quarterback officially named, now the Seminoles can truly focus only on Saturday's season opener against the Bobcats, who are coached by former Dennis Franchione. Franchione's 210 career wins rank fourth all-time among active FBS coaches, and he's in his second stint at Texas State, which transitioned to Division I in 2011 under the coach's watchful eye.

      And while this will be the first meeting in school history between the two programs, the Bobcats have their work cut out for them: Florida State is 31-1 in its last 32 games against unranked opponents and 12-0 at home against unranked opponents since Fisher took over in 2010.

      Florida State hasn't played a team from the Lone Star State since 2006, when it beat Rice 55-7, while Texas State hasn't played in Florida in 12 years, last facing Florida Atlantic in 2003. The Bobcats play in the Sun Belt Conference, which the Seminoles have owned in recent history, winning 10 straight games against Sun Belt opponents.

      Fisher, however, thinks Texas State presents some concerns for the Seminoles and a new starting quarterback just learning the offensive system.

      "I think their versatility and experience they have in their coaching staff. They're very diverse on offense; they're very diverse on defense," said Fisher, who has twice met Franchione during their coaching careers, splitting a pair of wins while Fisher was an assistant. "They present a lot of different problems. They're aggressive. They're very well coached. They've got good players. I know that sounds cliche, but that's a fact. This is a good program."

      The Bobcats return their leading rusher (Robert Lowe, 1,091 yards, 12 TDs in 2014), starting quarterback Tyler Jones (2,670 yards passing, 22 TDs) and top defender in defensive back David Mims, who picked off five passes last season, returning one for a score.

      FSU, meanwhile, has some questions marks coming in.

      The offensive line sent four of its five starters to the NFL, with only left tackle Roderick Johnson, a sophomore, returning. Elsewhere on offense, FSU has to replace starting tight end and John Mackey Award winner Nick O'Leary, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, and starting wideout Rashad Greene -- Florida State's all-time leading receiver, who was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

      Florida State also lost four defensive starters to the NFL, and its second-year defensive coordinator Charles Kelly may be on the hot seat if the big dropoff the unit saw from 2013 to 2014 doesn't improve.

      Still, all things considered, Florida State is a 35-point favorite entering Saturday's game against Texas State at Doak Campbell Stadium, where Florida State has won 14 straight dating back to last season. And no one has forgotten that Florida State is an NCAA-best 29-1 record over the last three seasons, with that one loss coming to Oregon in the semifinals of last year's inaugural College Football Playoffs.

      "We're going to have to play our best and we're going to have to make a lot fewer mistakes then they make -- and we're going to have to force some mistakes to happen," Franchione said when asked what it would take to upset the Seminoles. "But it's a big challenge. They've got five bona fide NFL prospects I hear, and 16 more possibles. They've won 29 out of their last 30 and three straight conference championships in the ACC, played for the national championship and won it two years ago and in the final four last year.

      "We're not playing a good team. We're playing a great program."


      --RB Dalvin Cook, a sophomore and the Seminoles' leading returning running back, is "full-go" for Saturday's game against the Bobcats, Fisher said Monday. Cook's status with the team is no longer in question after he was acquitted on misdemeanor battery charges last week by a Tallahassee jury. However, the number of plays he'd split in Saturday's opener with backup Mario Pender was unclear considering Cook missed more than half of preseason camp on suspension as he awaited the outcome of his legal issue. But after less than a week of full-contact practice, Fisher said he wouldn't limit last season's breakout star -- who set the Seminoles' rushing record for a freshman with 1,008 yards -- in the season opener Saturday. "He kept himself in tremendous condition (during his suspension)," Fisher said Monday. "He's still got that burst. Only thing I was worried about was his feel to run the holes and not be over-anxious. A great back ... you only see his speed when speed's needed. Great backs know tempo running -- they know how to take the handoff and know if it's half-speed, or three-quarters speed you need to go. And sometimes it takes reps in practice to get back in the groove. But not him. He just walked back out there with a natural feel to run the ball."

      -- WR Travis Rudolph, a sophomore, was last season's second most pleasant surprise behind Cook, finishing as the team's fourth-leading wideout with 38 catches for 555 yards and four TDs. He was one of two five-star freshman receivers who stood out last year for the Seminoles, with the other being Ermon Lane. And while Lane was a nice complement to the offense last season (13 catches, 267 yards, 1 TD), it was Rudolph who had the knack for making the big play or extra move to break a long run after the catch. When asked about his receivers Monday, including juniors Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield and Lane, a sophomore, Fisher said it's the one part of his offense he feels best about at the moment. "I've been very pleased. Just like I said, the blitzes, the sights, the routes, we're being healthy back with consistency," he said. "I've been extremely pleased these last six, seven days. They have responded in a very good manner."

      --CB Jalen Ramsey, a junior captain of the FSU defense and unquestioned leader of the entire Florida State team, is one of two near-consensus preseason All-Americans for the Seminoles (the other being kicker Roberto Aguayo). He's moving from safety this season back at his natural position of cornerback, where he became the first true freshman to start at the position since Deion Sanders in 1985. Ramsey, who is also an All-American long-jumper in track and field, will make his 29th consecutive start for Florida State on Saturday during the Seminoles' season opener against Texas State. He's recorded 128 tackles, three interceptions, forced three fumbles and broken up 13 passes in two seasons for Florida State.

      --LB Reggie Northrup, a 6-1, 231-pound senior used to be known around Tallahassee for his awesome robot dance after big tackles. But in the last two years, Northrup has endeared himself to Seminoles fans as something else: a heck of a player. He led the team in tackles last season with a staggering 122 tackles in just 14 games. He missed the Seminoles' final game, the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon, with a knee injury he's since recovered from. He became the first Florida State player to record more than 100 tackles in a single season since Buster Davis in 2006 and if he crosses the century mark again this season, he'll become the first Seminole defender to post back-to-back 100-plus-tackle seasons since Peter Boulware in 2002.

      SERIES HISTORY: This is the first meeting between Florida State and Texas State.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't thank (Texas State) enough. They do not to have to do that. (Head coach Dennis Franchione) is a class guy, a great guy. I thank them for that. That happens to be our charity. Anytime we can help any childhood charities or any charity at all, we want to be that way. As an athlete, you can have a huge impact in the large window in which you're seen. I think for him to do that that's a huge gesture and I (know our school) would very willingly do (that for another program if they asked), whatever it is." -- FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher, on Texas State agreeing to wear a decal for Fisher's charity during Saturday's game in honor of the head coach's continued fight against Fanconi Anemia, a disease which afflicts his youngest son, Ethan. The decal will read, "I Fight Fanconi."

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    College football notebook: Golson named Florida State starting QB
    By The Sports Xchange

    Everett Golson, a senior transfer from Notre Dame, will start for Florida State in the season opener against Texas State on Sept. 5.

    • Coach Jimbo Fisher chose Golson over junior Sean Maguire, who led FSU to a win over Clemson last season as starter Jameis Winston was suspended.

      That is the only game Maguire has started in his career. Meanwhile, Golson has 25 starts under his belt, including the 2012 BCS National Championship game, which the Irish lost to Alabama.

      --Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has not made a final decision on his starting quarterback and isn't ruling out playing both stars in the Buckeyes' season opener.

      J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones have been battling in training camp to determine the No. 1 quarterback to lead the defending national champions.

      The Buckeyes open the 2015 season at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., next Monday night.

      -- UCLA cornerback Ishmael Adams, an All-Pac-12 player last season, reportedly remained in jail on a robbery charge.

      Adams allegedly took a cellphone from an Uber driver early Sunday morning, the UCLA police department told He was arrested, and his bail was set at $100,000, reported.

      The school said it was aware of the arrest and will not comment further. The 13th-ranked Bruins open the season Saturday against Virginia.

      --LSU head coach Les Miles visited the hospital after feeling ill in the morning, but he was back at the football operations building by Monday afternoon.

      Miles, who turns 62 in November, was scheduled to attend his weekly media conference at 12:30 p.m., but when Miles did not appear for about 40 minutes, athletic director Joe Alleva made a brief statement, saying Miles was not feeling well and was advised to go to the hospital by LSU trainers.

      Alleva said Miles went to the hospital "on a precautionary basis," and expected Miles to return for Monday afternoon's practice.

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    LSU coach Miles visits hospital, returns for practice
    By The Sports Xchange

    LSU head coach Les Miles visited the hospital on Monday after feeling ill in the morning, but he was back at the football operations building by Monday afternoon.

    • Miles, who turns 62 in November, was scheduled to attend his weekly media conference at 12:30 p.m., but when Miles did not appear for about 40 minutes, athletic director Joe Alleva made a brief statement, saying Miles was not feeling well and was advised to go to the hospital by LSU trainers.

      Alleva said Miles went to the hospital "on a precautionary basis," and expected Miles to return for Monday afternoon's practice.

      When Miles returned, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune, he joked, "I OD'ed on coffee."

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    UCLA CB Adams reportedly arrested for robbery
    By The Sports Xchange

    UCLA cornerback Ishmael Adams, an All-Pac-12 player last season, reportedly remained in jail Monday on a robbery charge.

    • Adams allegedly took a cellphone from an Uber driver early Sunday morning, the UCLA police department told He was arrested, and his bail was set at $100,000, reported.

      The school said it was aware of the arrest and will not comment further.

      The 13th-ranked Bruins open the season Saturday against Virginia.

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    Upset-minded again, Hokies hunting for No. 1 win
    By The Sports Xchange

    BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer opened his Monday press conference by reeling off some of the school's biggest football wins. He mentioned bowl victories over Texas and Alabama and significant road triumphs over Clemson, Nebraska and Texas A&M.

    • "But the one thing we've never had is beating a No. 1 team in the country. And we've had our chances," said Beamer, who will begin his 29th season at Virginia Tech on Monday night when the Hokies host No. 1 Ohio State at Lane Stadium.

      "We've played like eight times maybe (against top-ranked opponents), but we haven't gotten it done. So certainly there's a challenge, and I don't know that there's ever been a No. 1 team in the country that is as far No. 1 as this crowd is."

      The Hokies are 0-8 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in Associated Press poll and 0-7 with Beamer as head coach.

      "I think our players look forward to the challenge, but what an undertaking this is," Beamer said. "To play No. 1, but a unanimous No. 1, that's pretty significant."

      The Buckeyes are certainly stout, but the Hokies beat them last season in Columbus, Ohio. Virginia Tech went 7-6 last year and closed the season out with a Military Bowl victory over Cincinnati. After losing to the Hokies, the Buckeyes won 13 straight en route to the national championship.

      Ohio State makes its first trip ever to Blacksburg in what figures to be a charged atmosphere. Beamer said it might be the most anticipated game ever at Virginia Tech's home stadium. It’ll be only the third time the Hokies have faced a No. 1 team at home (Miami in 1992 and '01).

      "How often do you have the No. 1 team in the country by far, unanimous, coming to your place on national TV and the only game on? How many times does that happen? It's not very often," Beamer said.

      The Hokies encountered a spectacle at Ohio Stadium last season, and the players are looking forward to getting a chance to play the Buckeyes in front of their own fans on the national stage.

      "I can't even put into words what it's going to be like, because I've never seen Blacksburg like this," said quarterback Michael Brewer. "I don't know that many people have. It really is going to be college football at its best."


      --Before QB Michael Brewer was much maligned for his struggles last season, he led the Hokies to their biggest win in recent history at eventual national champion Ohio State. With a better understanding of the playbook and more experience in the offense under his belt, Brewer could be in for a strong senior season.

      --TE Bucky Hodges had quite the breakout season last year with 45 catches for 526 yards and seven touchdowns. The converted quarterback has a better understanding of the position now that he has a year of experience, so even bigger production could be in store for 2015.

      --LB Deon Clarke was one of the catalysts in the Hokies’ strong effort in last year’s win at Ohio State. He had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack in the win at the Horseshoe and finished the season with 74 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss.

      --SS Desmond Frye steps into a starting role this season, and he’ll be put to the test right off the bat. Frye’s predecessor, Washington Redskins rookie Kyshoen Jarrett, was put in a position to make plays last season at Ohio State, and he responded with two interceptions. Can Frye be a similar playmaker against the Buckeyes this season?

      SERIES HISTORY: This is the second meeting between Virginia Tech and Ohio State. The Hokies won 35-21 last season in Columbus, Ohio.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: “I worry about the people around Michael. And if those people uphold their end of the deal, Michael will be just fine.” -- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer on quarterback Michael Brewer

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    Young 'Horns long on opportunity
    By The Sports Xchange

    AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas coach Charlie Strong has a talented freshman class and he's not afraid to use them.

    • Almost a third of the Longhorns' game-week depth chart is either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Most notably, Texas plans to start true freshman Malik Jefferson at middle linebacker and redshirt freshman Edwin Freeman at weak-side linebacker. And redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard will get a chance to show what he can do running the Longhorns offense, though sophomore Tyrone Swoopes will start.

      No big deal, though, Texas only begins the season with a trip to 11th-ranked Notre Dame.

      Since this will be the first time Texas has played Notre Dame since its current players were toddlers, Strong said he has prepared the team by showing them pictures portraying some of the Fighting Irish traditions. The Longhorns won't get a walk-through on Friday before the game, so the idea behind the pictures is to prepare them for the Notre Dame mystique.

      Ultimately, though, Strong will be more focused on the players wearing burnt orange rather than the ones in gold-dome helmets. The second-year Longhorn coach said he won't hesitate to use a lot of freshmen and he'll be most focused on what they can do.

      "It's not about who we're going to play, but how we're going to play," Strong said in his Monday press conference.

      For those outside the locker room, it definitely matters who the Longhorns will be playing. Notre Dame is second all-time in wins with 882 in its history, one ahead of Texas in third at 881. The Fighting Irish lead the series, 8-2, and die-hard Texas fans are probably well aware that the Longhorns haven’t defeated Notre Dame since the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 1969 season.


      —QB Tyrone Swoopes was named as the Longhorns starting quarterback with about two weeks remaining before the season-opener at Notre Dame. Despite an uneven first season as the starter in 2014, Swoopes held off redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard to keep his starting role. However, Strong has emphasized that Heard will play at Notre Dame.

      —MLB Malik Jefferson enrolled early and went through spring practice, helping him earn a starting role in his first game as a true freshman. The Longhorns will need Jefferson to play above his classification as they have almost no experience returning at linebacker.

      —CB Duke Thomas leads the team with 23 career starts, seven more than defensive tackle Desmond Jackson, the next most experience player on the roster. Thomas picked off three passes last season and one tackle for loss. He’ll have to up his production as the Longhorns attempt to replace departed defensive back Quandre Diggs.

      SERIES HISTORY: Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 8-2.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not a lot to ask. When you’re at University of Texas, this is what you sign up for. You sign on to play in big games and this is a big game for us. If you’re talented enough and you can get on the field, let's put em on the field." -- Texas coach Charlie Strong on starting freshmen in the season opener at Notre Dame.

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    Meyer says QBs Barrett, Jones may play in Buckeyes' opener
    By The Sports Xchange

    Ohio State coach Urban Meyer hasn't made a final decision on his starting quarterback and isn't ruling out playing both stars in the Buckeyes' season opener.

    • J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones have been battling in training camp to determine the No. 1 quarterback to lead the defending national champions.

      The Buckeyes open the 2015 season at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., next Monday night.

      "We'll announce the starter when the first guy takes the snap," Meyer said during his Monday news conference. "It's still very close, both guys are performing very well.

      "If it was different skill sets, we probably would (need to decide), but they're not. If you look at J.T.'s game plan when he was our quarterback and Cardale's, it was very similar. There's a chance they'll both play, as well, so that hasn't really (been a factor) with our mindset with a game plan on offense."

      Barrett and Jones said recently that they are opposed to a rotating system to run the Buckeyes' spread attack.

      Barrett was named Ohio State's starting quarterback about a week before the 2014 season began after Braxton Miller was declared out for the year with a shoulder injury. Barrett had a Heisman-caliber season, leading the Buckeyes to a 10-1 record before fracturing his ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan.

      Jones took over and in his first start led Ohio State to a 59-0 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. He followed that up with a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and a national championship victory over Oregon.

      "If you're not going to (start), get ready," Meyer said. "I'd like to see both guys involved. It could be in-game; it could be weekly.

      "They're pros. J.T. has always been a pro and I'm amazing at how Cardale has handled himself."

      Miller, a two-time All-Big Ten quarterback and player of the year, decided this summer to move to wide receiver to allow more time for his shoulder to heal.

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    Eager Razorbacks hungry for momentum-builder
    By The Sports Xchange

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas is back in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2012 and looks to pick up right where a successful end to the 2014 season left off Saturday against Texas-El Paso.

    • The 18th-ranked Razorbacks return 16 starters, including nine on an offense that will rely on improvements from senior quarterback Brandon Allen under new offensive coordinator Dan Enos and its physical, pounding run game.

      "(Allen) has been very confident and assertive in practice," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said going into Saturday's opener. "He's had a detailed camp and has been fun to watch."

      While the Razorbacks likely won't know how good they really are until a Week 4 against Texas A&M, Arkansas will need to use the nonconference slate to help develop a young, but vital, receiver's corps as it continues to balance its run-heavy offense.

      The Miners, under third year coach Sean Kugler, like to blitz and should provide a good opening test for Allen and the Arkansas offense.

      "With the multiplicity of what they do on defense and what they're capable of doing, it certainly gets our attention," Enos said. "Their defensive line is active and their linebackers are really good."

      Defensively, the Razorbacks look to keep going what was a dominant finish to 2014. Arkansas won 4 of its final 6 games of 2014, including shutout victories over LSU (17-0) and Ole Miss (30-0) and a 31-7 victory over Texas in the Texas Bowl.

      The Razorbacks' defense gave up an average 10.3 points per game in the final six games a year ago, and might be even better in 2015.

      And it all starts with the defensive line.

      "I think our defensive line depth up front is as good as it's been since I've been here," Bielema said.

      The Razorbacks have plenty of experience up front and in the secondary and solid linebackers in juniors Brooks Ellis and Jared Collins, but the success of the defense all starts with junior defensive end JaMichael Winston, Smith said.

      "We hang our hat on JaMichael Winston," Smith said. "He's great at stopping the run and transitions well into the passing game. He is the leader of our defense."

      Running back Aaron Jones led the Miners offensively in 2014, rushing for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns on 242 carries.



      --QB Brandon Allen has the most starts of any quarterback in the Southeastern Conference and one of three returning FBS quarterbacks to throw for 20 touchdowns and less than five interceptions last year.

      -- Arkansas' offensive line is the largest of any NFL of FBS team for the second consecutive year, averaging 327.6 pounds.

      --RB Alex Collins, begins his junior season ranked 11th among Arkansas' all-time career leaders at 5.40 yards per rush. He is the second Arkansas running back to rush for 1,000 yards in his first two seasons. The only other player to do it was Darren McFadden in 2006 and 2007.

      --LBs Brooks Ellis and Josh Williams have shined in fall camp and will likely be the team's top tacklers in 2015.

      SERIES HISTORY: Arkansas leads to the series 2-0. The Razorbacks beat UTEP 39-7 in Little Rock, Ark., in 1989 and 58-21 in their last meeting in Fayetteville in 2010.

      QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to execute well in the fourth quarter. If we believe in one thing, we should be more effective in the second half than the first half." – Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema on improving last season's second-half offensive woes.

  • Monday, August 31, 2015
    CFB First and 20: Buckeyes, Jimmy Football set stage for B1G revival
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Big Ten eulogies have turned into revival meetings.

    • The league has the defending national champion (Ohio State), the unanimous preseason No. 1 (also those Buckeyes) and is ready to launch into 2015 after presiding over college football's most juicy offseason storylines.

      The Big Ten, that aging Midwestern league with the leaky roof and the peeling paint, is looking fresh again. The conference is actually looking a bit sexy ... well, as sexy as a pair of khakis can be.

      While Ohio State -- which received all 61 first-place votes in the Associated Press' preseason media poll -- does seem to the logical place to start this discussion, it's That School up North that has provided the rocket booster on this trip to the stars, thanks to the hiring of Jim Harbaugh.

      Jimmy Football -- love him, hate him, bemoan his sideline fashion sense -- is the right Michigan man at the right time. His body of work at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers suggests he'll rouse the slumbering Maize and Blue, which has gone a decade without a conference title while the Buckeyes in that span won a national title and played for two more in the BCS era.

      There has been nothing so wrong with the Big Ten that the right coaches couldn't fix, and that's what the league now has with its bellwether franchises. Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Harbaugh are two of the game's biggest names, with recruiting reach that extends far beyond the dwindling population bases within the league's footprint.

      The SEC is still rightly king. The Pac-12 is surging right behind. Meyer, with his three-year head start on Harbaugh, is the rising tide that will lift all Big Ten boats.

      While those two coaches provide the most compelling theater -- can't wait until the postgame handshake Nov. 28 -- it's worth noting that Harbaugh's rebuilding won't happen overnight, and that Michigan State is already sitting in Michigan's big-boy chair.

      The Spartans, with four seasons of double-digit wins in the past five years, remain the biggest threat to Ohio State's grand plans. Mark Dantonio's crew features a potential top-10 draft pick in quarterback Connor Cook, one of the nation's finest pair of Jacks (left tackle Jack Conklin and center Jack Allen) and a top pass-rushing freak (end Shilique Calhoun).

      Wisconsin, with its endless torrent of running backs, has 98 wins in the past 10 seasons and a coach (Paul Chryst) who looks like he actually wants to be there long term. Penn State, emerging from scandal-induced sanctions, is steady at the helm with coach James Franklin, while junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg gets ready to obliterate the school's passing records this season.

      What the Big Ten has lacked -- is lacking -- is the depth of the SEC and, now, the Pac-12. Nebraska has been right there, but seven consecutive seasons with four losses led the administration to take a bigger swing, so they fired cranky Bo Pelini and hired his figurative grandfather, Mike Riley. Iowa needs to shake its malaise and get back in the business of being Top 25 timber. Minnesota could be sneaky good, and its season-opener -- Thursday at home vs. No. 2 TCU -- is a potentially big at-bat for the league's image.

      Another good sign for the Big Ten: It had a top 10 NFL draft pick this summer (Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff) for the first time since 2008.

      Momentum, right?

      The Buckeyes, with Braxton Miller moving to receiver to simplify their unprecedented talent at quarterback, remain the bandleader to this Big Ten pep rally. But now they're joined by one really loud voice (Harbaugh) and a chorus of teams ready to drown out years of the same old song -- that the Big Ten has underachieved.

      Five key injuries

      Even before the games begin, some key teams ran into tough luck during camp. Here are five season-long injuries that will affect conference races and the chase for the College Football Playoff.

      1. Ed Davis, LB, Michigan State (knee) -- The potential All-American was entering his senior season with 16.5 career tackles for loss. Now, the Spartans have a big question at linebacker to pair with concerns at cornerback.

      2. Jarron Jones, DT, Notre Dame (knee) -- A potentially salty Irish defense will miss his 300-plus pounds next to Sheldon Day in the middle of the line. Jones' injury accelerates the development of early-enrolled true freshman Jerry Tillery.

      3. Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas (foot) -- The power-built Hogs will miss Williams' production (1,190 yards and 12 TDs last season) in the hyper-competitive SEC West. Tag-team partner Alex Collins will have carry a bigger load.

      4. Marcus Jackson, OG, Tennessee (arm) -- No team has been hit harder by injuries than the Vols, seemingly on the verge of a breakthrough under coach Butch Jones. Jackson and backup Austin Sanders are out on the line, while defensive backs Rashaan Gaulden and LaDarrell McNeil are likely to miss the season, too.

      5. Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State (broken leg). The sophomore was earning rave reviews during camp at a position that looms as the Buckeyes' biggest question mark.

      Five most intriguing players

      1. Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State -- Call it the biggest position switch of a generation (or three). We'll see if the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as a quarterback has the hands and wiggle to be a star as a slot receiver.

      2. Whoever ends up playing quarterback for the Buckeyes -- Urban Meyer says he could end up using both J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, at least early. Tune in Monday night to see who starts.

      3. Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon -- The Eastern Washington graduate transfer didn't get eligible until after camp began but beat out Jeff Lockie in a couple of weeks. Will Adams' dual-threat skills translate to the FBS?

      4. LaQuan McGowan, TE, Baylor -- He's 6-foot-7, 410 pounds, and he caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the Cotton Bowl. Just needs a chef and a reality show, and he's good to go.

      5. Adoree' Jackson, CB/WR/RET, USC -- The sophomore is the nation's most exciting player, good enough to be All-American at corner and all-conference at three spots.

      Five hot-seat coaches

      Illinois has already relieved Tim Beckman of his hot seat, firing him last week because of off-field issues. Here are five others who need to win now:

      1. Mike London, Virginia -- He enters the opener at UCLA with a 23-38 record in five seasons, unable to turn recruiting success into scoreboard triumphs.

      2. Norm Chow, Hawaii -- Chow turns to USC transfer quarterback Max Wittek in hopes of erasing memories of an 8-29 record in his first three seasons.

      3. Al Golden, Miami -- He inherited a mess and has done reasonably well, but he'll have to do more than keep treading water in the ACC. Although the Canes sent seven players into the 2015 NFL Draft, they went just 6-7 last season.

      4. Willie Taggart, USF -- He's just 6-18 in two seasons and cleaned out his coordinators after last season. The team's experience level doesn't suggest a miracle turnaround in 2015.

      5. Kevin Wilson, Indiana -- Perhaps all he needs is a full season of health out of quarterback Nate Sudfeld. But the security blanket that was running back Tevin Coleman is gone to the NFL.

      Five best week 1 games

      1. Ohio State at Virginia Tech, Monday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN). The first step back to the College Football Playoff for the Buckeyes has to go through the Hokies' excellent defensive front in a rockin' Lane Stadium. It's a whopper of a topper on the first week of college football, as Tech looks to repeat its 2014 upset of Ohio State.

      2. Arizona State vs. Texas A&M, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN). This won't settle the "who's better?" conference debate, but this rare treat between the SEC and Pac-12 will provide ammunition for one group of fans.

      3. Texas at Notre Dame, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC). Malik Zaire takes over full time as the Irish quarterback in what could be a special season in South Bend. Meanwhile, the Longhorns will show how much progress -- if any -- they've made in coach Charlie Strong's second season.

      4. Wisconsin at Alabama, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ABC). While the Crimson Tide fiddles with its quarterback position, its defensive front -- a potential holy terror -- tries to bottle up Wisconsin's new front man in the backfield, Corey Clement.

      5. Michigan at Utah, Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). Get your college football week started off right. Come for Jim Harbaugh's Big Blue debut, stay for the running of Utah's Devontae Booker.