|Saturday, October 21, 2017|
|Kansas||vs.||TCU||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
No. 4 TCU faces Kansas as last unbeaten Big 12 team
Tuesday, October 17 at 10:39 PM (EDT)
TCU has gone from unranked in the preseason to No. 4 in the country and the only unbeaten team in the Big 12.
The Horned Frogs' rise has mirrored that of senior quarterback Kenny Hill. The Texas A&M transfer was uneven last season in his first year of eligibility at TCU, throwing a conference-high 13 interceptions and not getting a lot of help from a slippery-fingered receiving corps.
But things have fallen into place nicely for TCU (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) this season as it heads into Saturday's home game against Kansas (1-5, 0-3).
Hill's 69.8 completion percentage (127 of 182) ranks sixth in the nation and is on pace to shatter the TCU season record.
He also has been clutch, completing 70.6 percent (24 of 34) of his third-down passes. He was 9 of 11 for 144 yards in those situations last week in TCU's 26-6 win at Kansas State.
TCU's 133 receptions have been spread among 18 players, which is tied for the second most nationally, one behind Clemson. The Horned Frogs are tied for first nationally with 10 players having a touchdown catch.
"Honestly, no," Hill said when asked whether he thought TCU would be the Big 12's lone unbeaten team at the halfway point of the season. "To get to this point, I wasn't expecting that at all. I mean, it's a good feeling, but you've got to keep pushing, keep plugging away and keep trying to get another win."
That shouldn't be too hard against Kansas. Jayhawks coach David Beaty has 27 losses in 28 tries against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. One of those was a 45-0 setback at Iowa State last week.
First-year starting quarterback Peyton Bender began the season with three 300-yard passing performances, and running back Khalil Herbert had a 291-yard rushing performance in a loss to West Virginia.
Against Iowa State, however, Herbert was sidelined with a hamstring injury and Bender threw an interception on the Jayhawks' first snap. The offense never got any better, averaging 1.8 yards per play on 106 total yards as the defeat stretched Kansas' road losing streak to 43 games, one short of the all-time record set by Western (Colo.) State from 1926 to 1936.
"Last week's offensive performance is unacceptable," Beaty said. "There is just no other way to say it. We all shoulder that burden -- myself, our staff, all of our players -- and we have to do a good job of looking inside. Really, our entire team does.
"Some of the issues that you run into, it's just real easy to say, man, can you believe that happened? But that's not how you deal with it. There is a reason why some of those things can be happening, and it forced us as a team to really look inside and really go back to the very foundation of how we're building this program. And it starts with being entitled to nothing and grateful for everything."
Herbert, who had limped off the field after a 45-yard carry against Texas Tech on Oct. 7, figures to be a game-time decision this week, Beaty said Tuesday. So, too, will starting center Mesa Ribordy, who missed last week's game with an undisclosed injury.
Either way, it figures to be tough sledding against TCU, which leads the Big 12 in scoring defense (17.3 points per game), total defense (336.3 yards per game) and rushing defense (98.3 yards per game).
Defensive end Ben Banogu has been dominant with 25 tackles, including eight for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles. The Louisiana-Monroe transfer is making a name for himself as the next great TCU defensive end.
In addition to Hill's skill on offense, TCU's running backs have been solid through six games. Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua have six rushing touchdowns apiece, with Anderson leading the team in carries (79) and yards (470).
Anderson's dynamic play in the big win at Oklahoma State (160 yards and three touchdowns) was his coming-out party, but he has been a little quieter in recent games after the return of Kyle Hicks to the rotation as he works his way back from injury.
Hicks, who rushed for 1,042 yards last season, might still be the Horned Frogs' best overall runner. The three have combined for 163 carries, 884 yards and 13 touchdowns.
TCU already has equaled its number of wins from 2016, when it went 6-7.
"All I know is, we're bowl eligible," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "That's my first goal, is to get to six, and now it's going to be to get to seven. But you got to have six first."
|West Virginia||vs.||Baylor||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Grier leads No. 23 West Virginia into winless Baylor
Tuesday, October 17 at 5:30 PM (EDT)
WACO, Texas -- West Virginia prides itself on its running game, although it managed just 44 yards on the ground against Texas Tech last week.
Florida transfer quarterback Will Grier is turning the Mountaineers' offense into a pass-first attack. He threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns in the comeback win over the Red Raiders, and he has quality receivers to throw to, including David Sills V, whose 12 touchdown catches are three more than anybody else has nationally.
No. 23 West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) will be looking for more when it travels to play Baylor (0-6, 0-3) on Saturday evening.
"They have great receivers, just like Oklahoma State has great receivers," Baylor coach Matt Rhule said of the Mountaineers. "They run the football and are rugged up front. This is another one that's going to take what you give them."
West Virginia running back Justin Crawford is averaging 101.5 rushing yards per game, with seven touchdowns, but it is Grier that has taken the lead role.
He has thrown for at least 300 yards in every game, having completed 151 of 230 passes (65.6 percent) for 2,092 yards, with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Baylor, meanwhile, is sinking to the bottom of the college football total defense rankings -- it stands 125th out of 129 teams, allowing 517.7 yards per game. The Bears are on a 12-game regular-season losing streak after falling to Oklahoma State by 43 points and allowing 747 yards last week.
The potential worry for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is that his team takes Baylor too lightly.
During his weekly press conference, Holgorsen pointed to the fact that the Mountaineers are seeing a Baylor program under Rhule for the first time, which might make Saturday's game difficult to navigate.
"First time in six years that this is a little more challenging week with Baylor, based on my experiences with what I have known Baylor to be and what they currently are," Holgorsen said. "There's a lot more unknowns than what there has been."
But instead of traveling to play a Baylor team that is capable of competing for a Big 12 title -- as the Mountaineers did in 2013 and 2015 (both 30-point losses) -- West Virginia will be trying win a game in which it is a heavy favorite.
That doesn't matter, Holgorsen said.
"For nine straight weeks and hopefully 10 (if the Mountaineers make the Big 12 championship game), you better play really good or you're going to get beat," Holgorsen said. "That makes it hard, I don't care if you're playing a 1-1 Tech team or an 0-3 Baylor team in conference. I don't view it any differently."
It will help that Holgorsen is able to point to Baylor's last home game.
Although Oklahoma defeated the Bears, 49-41, Baylor battled the then-No. 3 Sooners for longer than most expected. Holgorsen said Baylor should have beaten Oklahoma, which is debatable, considering the Sooners trailed for less than two minutes in the second half and had an 18-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
But then again, Holgorsen's team used a 29-point rally in the second half to defeat Texas Tech last week, so the Mountaineers have a fresh memory of how influential momentum can be on a team's home field.
"There's a confidence that tends to exist when stuff like that happens," Holgorsen said. "The momentum got going in the fourth quarter and I couldn't be prouder of our guys. I would hope that would carry over, and I think that's going to give us confidence going forward."
Baylor sophomore QB Zach Smith struggled against Oklahoma State as he completed just 11 of 28 passes for 127 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He was briefly replaced by freshman Charlie Brewer, who didn't fare much better.
Rhule is tasked with continually getting his team up off the mat this season.
"I said it after the game, these kids are unbelievably mentally tough," Rhule said during his Tuesday press conference. "They've been through a lot, and they continue to fight and scratch and claw, and I'm proud of those guys that go out and represent us on Saturdays. I hope our fans come out and cheer for our kids.
"And my message to our kids is simple. It hasn't worked yet on the scoreboard but there are a lot of guys playing significantly better football."
|Weber State||vs.||Cal Poly||9:05 (EDT)|
|Wyoming||vs.||Boise State||10:15 (EDT)|
|Fresno State||vs.||San Diego State||10:30 (EDT)|
|Colorado||vs.||Washington State||10:45 (EDT) Preview|
No. 15 Washington State tries to be less 'sorry' vs. Colorado
Tuesday, October 17 at 10:40 PM (EDT)
Colorado is coming off its first Pac-12 victory while No. 15 Washington State is trying to bounce back after suffering its first overall loss, a humbling 37-3 setback at California last week.
The teams play Saturday in Pullman, Wash., with the Cougars (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) hoping to get back on track toward a league title and a big bowl game.
"We played sorry and got what we deserved," coach Mike Leach said of the loss to the Golden Bears. "The team is pretty determined to improve, pretty determined to focus in."
The loss to Cal included five interceptions from senior quarterback Luke Falk, who was sacked nine times.
NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Dane Brugler noted: "When in a rhythm, Falk is one of the best touch passers I've ever scouted. But when defenses crowd his first read and put pressure on the pocket, he often wilts and makes mistakes. That was the case against the Bears as he was stubborn with his reads and forced throws instead of reading the coverage, coming off his preferred target and finding the open man."
Falk and the Air Raid offense, which ranks third nationally with 380.9 passing yards per game, will face a less-demanding challenge defensively against Colorado (4-3, 1-3).
Last week, Colorado allowed 33 points to Oregon State, which had only reached 30 points once before this season. The Beavers gained 569 yards in total offense.
"We're going to have to be all over him," Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said of Falk. "He's going to make some plays. Hopefully, we can slow him down enough and cause enough turnovers to make a difference.
"That's really how you stop them -- you cause a few turnovers and make them kick some field goals."
Colorado's defense ranks fifth in the conference against the pass and the run.
"They're pretty good. They fly around. They're aggressive," Leach said.
"They're big, strong, aggressive guys that bat around everything they see. We have to stay away from them. We have to knock them down, run around them or throw over the top of them."
How Colorado defends against Falk is one aspect to watch; another is how Washington State will try to contain Buffaloes running back Phillip Lindsay.
The senior has carried 69 times for 466 yards and five touchdowns in his last two games, against Arizona and Oregon State. He has been a focal point of long, time-consuming drives for the Buffaloes.
Lindsay had a 74-yard burst for a touchdown against the Beavers, but a majority of his carries have been consistent, short runs that have kept the chains moving.
"It helps the defense stay off the field and try to stay fresh," MacIntyre said after Monday's practice. "We're not playing a ton of guys on defense and we've had some injuries, especially on the D-line."
The Buffaloes are one of only two programs in the country with four scoring drives of at least 15 plays. That kind of ball control will be essential against Washington State to keep Falk and the Cougars' potent passing game off the field.
"That's ball control and that's being efficient on offense," Colorado co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. "The last couple of games we've been a lot more efficient. We've wasted a couple of drives here and there, but I think we had four drives in the second half against Oregon State and we scored on three of them.
"We had two in the fourth quarter and scored on both of them. That's being efficient and playing to your strengths."
Washington State will combat Colorado's will to run behind Lindsay -- mixing in play-action passes from quarterback Steve Montez -- with an aggressive front seven.
The Cougars rank fourth in the Pac-12, allowing only 125.9 yards a game on the ground.
Defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa has been selected to multiple midseason All-America teams. He leads the conference with 12 tackles for loss. He had two of those -- occurring on sacks --against the Golden Bears.
He leads active Pac-12 players with 36.5 career tackles for loss and 18.5 career sacks.
Teammates Dale Hunter and Frankie Luvu are among the conference's leaders in tackles for loss -- Hunter with seven and Luvu with 6.5.
Despite Washington State's productive defense, Cal outgained the Cougars in total yards 365-337. Cal sophomore quarterback Ross Bowers threw for 259 yards while completing 21 of 38 passes with one touchdown and no interceptions.
"Washington State is excellent on offense," MacIntyre said.
"They had an anomaly last week. On defense, they're stemming and moving everywhere. They played good defense last year, too. They're a very good football team and I think they're better than they were last year (when the Cougars won nine games)."
|Bryant||vs.||Central Connecticut State||12:00 (EDT)|
|Louisville||vs.||Florida State||12:00 (EDT)|
|Oklahoma State||vs.||Texas||12:00 (EDT) Preview|
No. 10 Oklahoma State takes on hard-playing Texas
Tuesday, October 17 at 2:09 PM (EDT)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Oklahoma State will bring the nation's top-ranked offense into its Big 12 Conference showdown against Texas on Saturday, but the No. 10 Cowboys' juggernaut won't be a surprise for the Longhorns.
After all, Texas just played, and lost 29-24, to an Oklahoma team that was ranked No. 1 in offense last week, so the Longhorns understand what they are up against.
There is a lot more than pride on the line for both teams.
Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) began the season as one of the nation's most ballyhooed teams but lost a bit of luster with a home defeat to surging TCU, which is now the No. 4 team in the nation.
The Cowboys have since defeated Texas Tech and Baylor and are back in the hunt for a spot atop the league standings, part of a pack of five teams (that includes Texas) with just one league loss looking up at the undefeated Horned Frogs.
"We need a great week of preparation for Texas," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "They are, in my opinion at least, the most athletic team from top to bottom in this league."
Oklahoma State's 59-16 win over Baylor last week featured sterling performances from quarterback Mason Rudolph (459 passing yards, four total touchdowns, no interceptions), wide receivers James Washington (235 yards receiving) and Marcell Ateman (119 yards receiving), and running back Justice Hill, who had a 117-yard outing on the ground.
Washington and Ateman are the only FBS duo since at least 1996 to post four consecutive games in which two players surpassed 100 yards receiving.
Oklahoma State leads the country with an average of 610.7 yards per game. The Cowboys are second in scoring 48.8 points per game.
"We've got to take care of the football," Gundy said.
"When we've been really good around here, we don't turn the ball over much and that's going to be something we're going to continue to stress. When two teams are even, it really comes down to special teams play, penalties and turnovers, for the most part. We can't give Texas any easy scores or short fields."
Texas is a couple of defensive breakdowns away from being 5-1 rather than 3-3.
The Longhorns couldn't hold a late lead at USC, losing in double overtime. Against Oklahoma, Texas fought back from a 20-0 deficit early in the second quarter to take a 24-23 lead with 8:01 to play. Alas, the Sooners and Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Baker Mayfield engineered a final touchdown drive that clinched the win.
"We understand that losing to Oklahoma is never fun -- it's never easy," coach Tom Herman said. "It stings worse than most losses do. But we also understand that we're one of a bunch of one-loss teams in this conference and for us to maintain that level and status within our conference, we've got to win this week. We've got to go 1-0 this week."
With the Longhorns at the halfway point of their season, Herman said his team has proven itself with its continued effort and physicality but still has plenty to address.
"I told our assistant coaches when we started training camp that if we can get the players to play hard and play physical, we'll have a chance to be in every game," Herman said. "We've got the playing hard and playing physical parts figured out."
For the first time this season, Herman was not asked during his Monday media availability who his starting quarterback would be -- freshman Sam Ehlinger has grabbed the position and won't let go, even though he's listed as the "or" starter on Texas' depth chart along with sophomore Shane Buechele.
Instead, Herman was queried about the punishment that Ehlinger is taking week to week. Ehlinger is the Longhorns' second-leading rusher with 271 yards despite not playing in two games.
"I worry about it -- we don't want our quarterback carrying 20, 22 times," Herman said. "Now if you've got to have it to win the game, you know, we're going to do whatever it takes to win the game."
The Longhorns hold a 24-7 series lead over Oklahoma State and a 15-5 advantage in Austin, but the Cowboys have put their mark on the series by winning five of the past seven meetings.
Even more noteworthy, Oklahoma State has won the past four games in Austin, marking the longest winning streak against Texas at home by one team.
|Iowa State||vs.||Texas Tech||12:00 (EDT)|
|Temple||vs.||Army West Point||12:00 (EDT)|
|Elon||vs.||Rhode Island||12:00 (EDT)|
|Sacred Heart||vs.||Robert Morris||12:00 (EDT)|
|Saint Francis U||vs.||Duquesne||12:00 (EDT)|
|Maryland||vs.||Wisconsin||12:00 (EDT) Preview|
No. 5 Wisconsin aims for clean game vs. Maryland
Tuesday, October 17 at 9:47 PM (EDT)
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin junior left tackle Michael Deiter dwells on improvement, even after the Badgers rose to No. 5 in this week's rankings.
He looks at the statistics following Wisconsin's 17-9 win over Purdue in which the Badgers committed eight penalties, had three turnovers and had a punt blocked.
"Turnovers, penalties, it makes for a sloppy game," Deiter said. "It's uphill sledding, and it's something we have to fix. It's too many. We've got to get better."
Wisconsin (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) will attempt to get better and maintain its unblemished record on Saturday against Maryland (3-3, 1-2) at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers are seeking their first 7-0 mark since 2004.
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said the mistakes are fixable.
"I think a lot of the negatives come from indecision," Chryst said. "So if you can make sure that your players know what they're doing, how to do it, understand it, then they go out and play. So I think there's a lot you can do during the week, and need to do."
The Badgers have persevered despite some inconsistent play from sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who completed 13 of 18 passes for 199 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Boilermakers.
For the season, Hornibrook has completed 82 of 125 passes (65.60 percent) for 1,210 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The Saturday game will pit two young quarterbacks against each other in Hornibrook and Terrapins sophomore Max Bortenschlager, who has completed 54 of 109 passes (51 percent) for 561 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Because of injuries, Bortenschlager is the third Maryland starter in six games. Maryland coach DJ Durkin said not forcing things and making the right decisions are keys to Bortenschlager's success.
Bortenschlager, in his third start last week, completed 17 of 38 passes for 255 yards and three scores in a 37-21 home loss to Northwestern. He has yet to throw an interception in his three starts and has thrown 83 consecutive passes without a pick, the school's longest streak since Chris Turner went 132 consecutive passes without an interception in 2008.
"Whether that's him delivering the ball down the field or handing the ball off or getting us into the right run -- when he's done that, he's done well, which in turn our offense has done well," Durkin said. "When he hasn't, well, we've seen how that goes. That's really what it comes down to with Max."
Players on defense will have their hands full with two standouts, Maryland junior wide receiver D.J. Moore and Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor.
Moore posted career highs with 12 catches and 210 receiving yards in the Northwestern setback. He paces the Big Ten in touchdown catches (seven), receiving yards (624), receiving yards per game (104) and receptions per game (7.3).
Taylor had 30 carries for 219 yards and a touchdown in the win over Purdue to earn his third Big Ten Freshman of the Week award.
Taylor, a true freshman, has accumulated 986 rushing yards in six games. He ranks first in the Big Ten -- and third among FBS players -- with an average of 164.3 rushing yards per game. Taylor is the Big Ten leader with 10 rushing touchdowns.
"He's a freak. It's pretty ridiculous to see some of the runs that he makes," Hornibrook said. "We see him do that every day in practice; we don't always expect him to make it, but we're not always surprised when he does it."
Durkin said he is particularly impressed with the Badgers' tenacity on the line of scrimmage.
"Whether it was right away in some of the (games), or as the game wore on eventually, that's what they did -- they took over at the line of scrimmage," Durkin said. "It will be a great challenge for our guys, on both the offense and defensive line. We've got to be great tacklers on defense.
"They're a tough team to prepare for, and they're good at what they do, obviously. Our guys get it, they understand it, it's a big challenge. I think they'll step up and respond to it."
Maryland didn't respond in the past two games. Ohio State and Northwestern gashed the Terrapins, rushing for 281 and 238 yards, respectively. Central Florida, the other team that defeated Maryland, rushed for 250 yards.
The Saturday game marks the second meeting between Maryland and Wisconsin. The Badgers upended the Terrapins 52-7 in 2014 at Madison.
|San Diego||vs.||Jacksonville||12:00 (EDT)|
|Colgate||vs.||Holy Cross||12:05 (EDT)|
|Boston College||vs.||Virginia||12:30 (EDT)|
|Morgan State||vs.||Howard||1:00 (EDT)|
|Shaw||vs.||Johnson C. Smith||1:00 (EDT)|
|Stetson||vs.||Morehead State||1:00 (EDT)|
|Virginia Union||vs.||Bowie State||1:00 (EDT)|
|Virginia State||vs.||Lincoln University (PA)||1:00 (EDT)|
|Fort Valley State||vs.||Central State||1:00 (EDT)|
|Bethune-Cookman||vs.||North Carolina A&T||1:00 (EDT)|
|Western Carolina||vs.||VMI||1:30 (EDT)|
|Tuskegee||vs.||Kentucky State||1:30 (EDT)|
|Sacramento State||vs.||North Dakota||1:30 (EDT)|
|Elizabeth City State||vs.||Chowan||1:30 (EDT)|
|Western Michigan||vs.||Eastern Michigan||2:00 (EDT)|
|South Carolina State||vs.||Delaware State||2:00 (EDT)|
|St. Augustine's College||vs.||Fayetteville State||2:00 (EDT)|
|Kent State||vs.||Ohio||2:00 (EDT)|
|Albany State||vs.||Clark Atlanta||2:00 (EDT)|
|Northern Illinois||vs.||Bowling Green||2:00 (EDT)|
|Youngstown State||vs.||UNI||2:00 (EDT)|
|Florida A&M||vs.||Hampton||2:00 (EDT)|
|Norfolk State||vs.||North Carolina Central||2:00 (EDT)|
|Towson||vs.||New Hampshire||2:00 (EDT)|
|Troy||vs.||Georgia State||2:00 (EDT)|
|Montana State||vs.||Northern Colorado||2:30 (EDT)|
|Buffalo||vs.||Miami (OH)||2:30 (EDT)|
|Alcorn State||vs.||Grambling State||3:00 (EDT)|
|Central Michigan||vs.||Ball State||3:00 (EDT)|
|South Dakota||vs.||Illinois State||3:00 (EDT)|
|Virginia-Lynchburg||vs.||Mississippi Valley State||3:00 (EDT)|
|Jacksonville State||vs.||Eastern Illinois||3:00 (EDT)|
|South Dakota State||vs.||Missouri State||3:00 (EDT)|
|Southern Illinois||vs.||Indiana State||3:00 (EDT)|
|UT Martin||vs.||Eastern Kentucky||3:00 (EDT)|
|Coastal Carolina||vs.||Appalachian State||3:30 (EDT)|
|James Madison||vs.||William & Mary||3:30 (EDT)|
|Georgia Southern||vs.||Massachusetts||3:30 (EDT)|
|Indiana||vs.||Michigan State||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
No. 18 Michigan State surges into home game vs. Indiana
Tuesday, October 17 at 5:19 PM (EDT)
Circumstances certainly are a lot different for Michigan State this week than they were the last time the Spartans prepared for a home game.
Three weeks ago, Michigan State was getting ready to host Iowa following a lopsided 38-18 home loss to Notre Dame, and some felt the wounded Spartans were staring at a 2-4 record, given their upcoming schedule.
The Spartans had to gear up for a stretch of games against a typically solid Iowa team that nearly upset No. 2 Penn State a week earlier, play at rival and top-10 foe Michigan and then travel to Minnesota for a night game.
Michigan State raised a lot of eyebrows by not only surviving that stretch, but thriving with three consecutive victories.
Now, No. 18 Michigan State (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) returns home for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Indiana (3-3, 0-3) as a contender for the conference title.
What a difference three weeks makes, especially on the heels of a 3-9 record last season and a roster full of freshmen and sophomore starters.
"It speaks to tradition that we have here," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.
"2015 was not, 'Oh hey, they won a (Big Ten) championship in 2015. How did they do that?' We had won others. We have won a lot of football games here. The expectation and foundation was to win football games and go to bowl games. We have had double-digit wins here five times. Those are the expectations."
Indiana is coming off a 27-20 overtime home loss to Michigan on Saturday.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey made his first start, replacing Richard Lagow, after recently sharing time. Ramsey was 20 of 41 for 178 yards, with two interceptions and a touchdown, against the stout Wolverines defense.
The Hoosiers scored 10 points in the final 3:27 of the regulation but gave up a 25-yard touchdown run on the first play of overtime and never recovered to remain winless in conference play. In fairness to Indiana, those three conference losses have come to Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan.
"I look at where we are at in our schedule and we are the only Big Ten team that in our first seven games is playing four Top 20 teams," Indiana coach Tom Allen said. "That's been a great challenge for us and a great opportunity to compete against really good programs right out of the gate. It has really been good for our guys to be locked in and focused."
Unlike in past years where a pass-happy offense was Indiana's strength, the Hoosiers this year have relied more on their defense. Indiana is seventh in the Big Ten in total defense and fourth in pass defense, despite playing the heavyweights of the conference. Linebacker Tegray Scales, a preseason All-American, has a team-high 48 tackles, including 3 1/2 sacks. Rashard Fant is rated the ninth-best senior cornerback by NFLDraftScout.com.
"I have been very impressed with how they have played the games," Dantonio said. "They play hard, they come get you on defense and tackle effectively. On offense, they give you a variety of problems."
Michigan State is coming off a 30-27 win last Saturday night at Minnesota, a game in which the Spartans were in control of until a late Minnesota rally made the game interesting. Michigan State led 30-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Running back LJ Scott finally broke out last week with career-highs in carries (25) and rushing yards (194) while scoring two touchdowns. Michigan State had been getting decent rushing numbers overall this season, but much of that production was coming from sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke and receivers on jet sweeps.
Although the Spartans allowed the Gophers to score touchdowns on their last three possessions, defense has also been a strength for Michigan State.
The Spartans are second in the Big Ten in total defense. One two opponents have scored more than 14 points.
"They are playing good football on that side of the ball, for sure," Allen said. "There are not a lot of superstar guys. Maybe they are a better team that plays well together and complements each other well."
This will also be a trophy game, with the winner claiming the Old Brass Spittoon.
Indiana broke a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry last year, reclaiming the trophy with a 24-21 win in overtime. The Hoosiers haven't beaten Michigan State in consecutive years since the 1993 and 1994 seasons.
|UCF||vs.||Navy||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
No. 20 UCF, Navy set for high-scoring AAC clash
Tuesday, October 17 at 1:40 PM (EDT)
The power that keeps the scoreboard buzzing at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis figures to be tested Saturday.
High-scoring and No. 20 ranked Central Florida (6-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) of the East division visits Annapolis, Md., to play West division foe Navy (5-1, 3-1), whose option-oriented offense is enough to create plenty of sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators.
In this case, the week will be a long one for Erik Chinander, a former Iowa offensive lineman who is the defensive coordinator for UCF.
The Midshipmen, under 10th-year coach Ken Niumatalolo, are averaging 6.2 yards per carry and lead the nation with an average of 397.5 rushing yards.
"Navy is an unique challenge," UCF head coach Scott Frost said Monday in a media conference call. "Everyone that plays them knows that. I have a lot of respect for Ken and the Naval Academy and what they stand for."
Central Florida is averaging a nation's best 50.6 points per game and is coming off a 63-21 home win over East Carolina on Saturday.
Improving quarterback McKenzie Milton completed 21 of 27 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns, while Greg McCrae ran six times for 67 yards. Another key has been Mike Hughes, who returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown against ECU. Milton's passing efficiency rating of 203.6 ranks second nationally behind Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.
The last visit to Maryland certainly went well for the Knights, who won 38-10 at the University of Maryland on September 23.
The Midshipmen are averaging 35.5 points per game. Navy was ranked No. 25 last week before falling 30-27 on Saturday at Memphis as quarterback Zach Abey lost three fumbles and had two passes intercepted.
"We're not going to beat anybody with five turnovers. I mean, you lose five drives," Niumatalolo said after the game. "I can't remember the last time we had five turnovers. I'm surprised we were still in the game."
It was the most turnovers for Navy since making six against Boston College nearly 15 years ago.
But Abey is a threat on the ground as he has carried 183 times for 1,016 yards and 12 scores.
How do you prepare for the Navy offense?
"It is still football. (But) it is still a limited number or practices you have to get for ready for it," Frost said. "It is going to be a really good football game. They are playing very good this year."
Central Florida was 0-12 in 2015 and then went 6-7 in the first year under Frost last season.
"I think hard work and preparation," Frost said of the turnaround.
"This offense has come a long way in a year and a half. We have filled some holes with a lot of dynamic football players. These guys really went to work on the offense. We look different than we did a year ago."
Frost, who is a Nebraska native and a former Cornhuskers quarterback, is being mentioned as a possible replacement for Nebraska's embattled third-year coach Mike Riley. Frost was asked if his Knights are ahead of schedule.
"I just think everything has gone as planned," he said.
"I took over this place and (the team) was 0-12. When I met with the players that were they were confident they could accomplish a lot more than that. They are having fun playing football. I took this job because I knew we could build something special. There are so many good players around here that love the game (in Florida). I have a great staff and these kids are playing for each other."
UCF and the AAC's South Florida -- 6-0 and ranked 16th -- are the leading contenders to land a berth in a New Year's Six bowl as the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences. Navy and the AAC's Memphis are other top possibilities.
"This is a very good league," Frost said.
"You have to be at your best to beat the teams in this league. There seems to be a different team or two at the top of this league every year. There is really good coaching in this league, and talent. You have to prepare for (different) things every week. You have to have your guys ready."
UCF beat Memphis 40-13 on September 30 in Orlando.
"We recognize this will be a tough challenge because we know how good Memphis is and this team beat Memphis," Niumatalolo told reporters Monday. "We're going to have our hands full stopping them and we're going to have our hands full moving the ball. They're undefeated for a reason."
|Western Illinois||vs.||North Dakota State||3:30 (EDT)|
|Southeastern Louisiana||vs.||Abilene Christian||3:30 (EDT)|
|Syracuse||vs.||Miami (FL)||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
No. 10 Miami has eyes wide open against Syracuse
Tuesday, October 17 at 11:41 PM (EDT)
MIAMI -- What once looked like a setup win for Miami took on a much different look after last week's results.
Syracuse's 27-24 upset of then-No. 2 Clemson got the attention of the 10th-ranked Hurricanes (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who look to stretch their winning streak to 11 games when they host the Orange (4-3, 2-1) Saturday afternoon.
As is their custom, Miami's players were gathered in a local hotel last Friday night before their next day's game with Georgia Tech and watched the Orange's impressive showing against the Tigers.
"Our guys were watching it live and saw for themselves what was about to come up this weekend," Miami coach Mark Richt said. "I didn't have to really explain much of anything."
What the Hurricanes saw was an impressive offensive show led by Orange quarterback Eric Dungey, who passed for 278 yards. Six of his completions went to wide receiver Steve Ishmael for 73 yards and a touchdown, and four went to Ervin Phillips for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Ishmael ranks second in the nation in receptions per game (8.9) and third in receiving yards (802). Phillips is tied for fifth in receptions per game (8.0).
"It's amazing what they've done," Richt said. "Philips actually caught 17 catches in one game."
That came in a 33-25 loss to North Carolina State that put the Orange in a 2-3 hole overall and got them off to an 0-1 start in league play. The Orange got back to even for the season with a win over Pittsburgh the next week, then stunned Clemson.
As key as the offense was to the win over the Tigers, it was the Orange's defense that may have been the difference. It gave up only 17 points -- one of the Tigers' touchdowns came on a fumble recovery by the Clemson defense -- and 113 rushing yards. Syracuse recorded four sacks while shutting out the Tigers in the fourth quarter.
"The momentum kept changing," Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. "We'd go ahead and they'd come back. The guys never put their heads down and never had any doubt. That's the part that I am most proud about. We kept fighting back."
Babers singled out junior defensive tackle Chris Slayton for his play. Slayton had one of the four sacks among his three tackles, all solo efforts.
"He plays his position like a grown man in a grown man's league," Babers said. "He is the key to what we do on defense, and he is going to be a professional football player."
"Their defense has improved by 14 points per game to this point in the season to where they were a year ago, which is a monster change," he said. "You can see why. They're super-fast, physical -- they bring it to you.
"They don't sit back. They rush hard, they pressure the quarterback, they outnumber the run game and play a bunch of lockdown coverage and do it extremely well. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
Miami running back Travis Homer had a spectacular debut as a starter in replacing the injured Mark Walton against Georgia Tech. He showed a toughness in rushing for 170 yards on just 20 carries, carrying would-be tacklers for extra yards inside.
The Hurricanes are coming off two emotional, heart-stopping wins that came down to the final seconds. A touchdown pass to little-used wide receiver Darrell Langham provided the deciding score in a 24-20 win at Florida State, and another long pass to Langham set up the game-winning field goal in a 25-24 decision over Georgia Tech.
Quarterback Malik Rosier is a hot-and-cold passer who has been hot at the right times in engineering those come-from-behind wins. He has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 274 yards per game, even though his potential top target, receiver Ahmmon Richards, has played in only one game while coping with a hamstring issue. He is considered day-to-day.
Miami is in the Top 10 for the first time since last season, when they started the year by winning their first four games. Richt demurred, however, when asked if the rise from No. 18 in the preseason was an indication he was ahead of schedule in his rebuilding project with the Hurricanes.
"First of all, you're not a Top-10 program unless at the end of the year you're a Top-10 program," he said. "We were ranked 10th last year and lost four in a row, so we became unranked. We were happy to be ranked at the end of the year."
The Hurricanes finished No. 20 in the final postseason poll after beating West Virginia 31-14 in their bowl game.
"We were at least a little bit relevant," Richt said. "We finished with five wins and a bowl win, which was big. But we're not at the point where we can just line up and impose our will on people."
|Arizona State||vs.||Utah||3:30 (EDT)|
|North Carolina||vs.||Virginia Tech||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
No. 14 Virginia Tech healthy, rested for struggling UNC
Tuesday, October 17 at 2:43 PM (EDT)
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech and North Carolina have combined to win five of the past seven ACC Coastal Division titles.
The 14th-ranked Hokies hope to continue that trend. The Tar Heels need a miraculous finish to even become bowl eligible.
The teams square off Saturday afternoon at Lane Stadium.
The Hokies (5-1, 1-1 ACC) are coming off a bye week and will be playing the first of six consecutive games against divisional opponents.
Tech plays North Carolina and Duke at home the next two Saturdays before the schedule, presumably, takes a harder turn with back-to-back road trips to Miami and Georgia Tech.
After losing to defending ACC and national champion Clemson on Sept. 30, the Hokies have little room for error over this final six-game stretch if they want to return to the title game.
"I think anything can happen," said Hokies coach Justin Fuente.
"To me, it's going to be about our ability to grind it out every single week. I don't think there's going to be anybody that's that much better than anybody else. As we go through time, that may be proved different. There may be a team that's quite a bit better than everybody else. I don't know yet.
"But every single week is going to be hard. And we've got to have enough grit and determination to do the little things we can to give ourselves a chance to win."
The Tar Heels (1-6, 0-4) have fared poorly this season, with their only win coming against Old Dominion.
North Carolina has struggled on offense in the wake of the departure of standout quarterback Mitch Trubisky, now the starter for the Chicago Bears. The Heels lost much of their production at running back and wide receiver from last season, too.
Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora has led his program to its top two offensive seasons in school history during his six seasons in Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels are among the worst offenses in the country this year, ranking 98th in yards per game (356.9) and 97th in points per game (23.7).
North Carolina saw a seven-game winning streak over Virginia come to an end Saturday with a 20-14 loss in Chapel Hill.
There were bright spots, like freshman running back Michael Carter rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start, but there were also some not-so-bright ones, like only 46 passing yards, UNC's lowest output since throwing for 42 against Maryland in 2000.
Carter, a 5-foot-9, 195-pound freshman, has 388 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season. He figures to be a focal point of the offense going forward.
"Every rep is valuable for all these young guys," Fedora said. "(Carter is) growing in the offense. He's growing in his understanding of what he needs to do and the speed of it and the intensity of it. He's just coming on. He's growing up before your eyes. He's making plays and I'm proud of him. I really am."
Fedora said he will continue to split quarterback reps in practice between redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt, who has passed for 1,167 yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions, and grad transfer Brandon Harris, who started against the Cavaliers. Harris has thrown for just one touchdown while being intercepted six times.
The Hokies should have their full complement of offensive playmakers.
Wide receiver Cam Phillips, who is among the nation's best in catches (42), receiving yards (608) and receiving touchdowns (five), is expected back after suffering a right foot sprain in the first quarter of Tech's last game at Boston College on Oct. 7.
Fuente said he also expects starting receiver C.J. Carroll (foot) and running back Steven Peoples (ankle) to return to the lineup. Carroll missed one game. Peoples missed two.
Virginia Tech has won 10 of 13 meetings against UNC since joining the ACC in 2004, but the Hokies are only 2-2 against the Heels in Blacksburg since 2009.
North Carolina took the last meeting at Lane Stadium 30-27 in 2015 in the final home game of former Hokies coach Frank Beamer's career. The Tar Heels won in overtime en route to claiming the Coastal Division championship.
The Tar Heels have found winning those close games much more difficult this year than in seasons past.
"We're just not making enough plays to come out on top," Fedora said. "I think there have been some games where our defense has put us in a position to win a football game and offensively we haven't been able to get it done."
|Tennessee||vs.||Alabama||3:30 (EDT) Preview|
No. 1 Alabama looks for annual win over Vols
Tuesday, October 17 at 11:38 PM (EDT)
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The question was simple, but Alabama coach Nick Saban took offense.
Is a rivalry still a rivalry if only one team is winning?
Alabama has not lost to Tennessee during Saban's tenure, giving the Crimson Tide a 10-game winning streak in the series.
The top-ranked Tide (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) enters Saturday's matchup against the Volunteers as about a 35-point favorite, the largest point spread in the history of the rivalry.
While it is one of the more lopsided rivalries for Alabama, Saban maintains Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) is a tough matchup.
"It's been very competitive," Saban said. "I can remember two games we had here -- one when we won the national championship -- we had to block a field goal to win the game at the end of the game. The last time we played here, we had like a seven-point game or whatever. A very close game, right down to the end.
"So I think players get up for games because of the competition and maybe because of the games they've had with them in the past."
In 2009, Alabama needed a blocked field goal to hold off the Vols. The Crimson Tide went on to win the national title that season. That was almost a decade ago.
Tennessee's last trip to Tuscaloosa produced a close matchup. The Crimson Tide needed a late touchdown from Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, plus a strip-sack from the defense to defeat the Vols 19-14 in 2015.
Those are the only two close meetings during Saban's tenure. Alabama has outscored Tennessee 351-119 during Saban's time in Tuscaloosa.
Speaking of scoring, the Vols haven't been doing much of that lately.
Tennessee was shut out by Georgia two games ago, then lost 15-9 to South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols haven't scored a touchdown in 10 quarters, dating to the second half against Massachusetts.
Tennessee is last in the SEC when it comes to big plays. The Vols have registered just 19 plays of more than 20 yards. Alabama has 39 plays of 20 yards or more.
"We are missing plays," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Not just on offense, but on defense and in special teams. It's overall one of the missing elements is the big plays."
The same story can be told through turnover margin, where Tennessee is a minus-4 on the year. Alabama is plus-11.
"Alabama is maybe the most complete team I've seen in years," Jones said.
The Tide is rolling on offense. Alabama leads the SEC in rushing yards per game (302.57), yards per carry (6.54) and total rushing touchdowns (24). Damien Harris has been Alabama's best running back, averaging 9.2 yards per carry.
Harris leads the Tide with 625 rushing yards and nine TDs on the ground. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has 558 rushing yards and hasn't had to do much heavy lifting in the passing game, where he has thrown eight touchdown passes with just one interception.
On defense, the Crimson Tide lead the nation against the run, allowing 66.7 yards. Alabama is second in scoring defense, yielding an average of 10.1 points.
Tennessee redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano made his first career start last week, throwing for 133 yards in the Vols' loss to the Gamecocks. He faces an Alabama secondary that leads the SEC with 10 interceptions.
Tennessee running back John Kelly has 552 rushing yards and six touchdowns, but the Vols often have stalled in the red zone. They have an SEC-worst 73.7 scoring percentage inside opponent's 20-yard line.
Tennessee's Evan Berry was back at practice this week. The speedy return man has been sidelined since the season opener, in which he returned a pair of kicks for 86 yards. While Jones said he was encouraged about Berry's return to practice, there was still uncertainty early in the week whether or not Berry would suit up against Alabama.
Saban said there is a case to be made for Tennessee potentially being 5-1 on the season, given close losses to Florida and South Carolina. Of course, there is also a case to be made for the Vols to be 1-5. Tennessee needed double overtime to beat Georgia Tech in the opener and narrowly downed UMass in a 17-13 home win.
Saban took reporters to task for even suggesting that the rivalry isn't competitive.
"I think you all, like always, you're always looking for all these assumptions because they have issues, they have problems some kind of way," Saban said. "Why can't that be a motivating factor for them and they play their best game of the year? Y'all ever think about that?"
|Lamar||vs.||Sam Houston State||4:00 (EDT)|
|Houston Baptist||vs.||Stephen F. Austin||4:00 (EDT)|
|Oklahoma||vs.||Kansas State||4:00 (EDT) Preview|
No. 9 Oklahoma can't afford a slip at Kansas State
Tuesday, October 17 at 6:34 PM (EDT)
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Neither team is where it expected to be at this point, just for different reasons, as No. 9 Oklahoma heads on the road to face Kansas State in a crucial matchup for both clubs on Saturday.
The Sooners (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) still have a shot at the College Football Playoff, although a home loss to unranked Iowa State took away much of the margin of error. Running the table might be necessary for a playoff berth.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2) are facing the possibility of struggling to scrape together enough wins for bowl eligibility when they, too, came into the 2017 season with conference title aspirations and even an outside shot at the playoff. There is only one game left on the schedule -- at Kansas -- in which they will be clear favorites, with several toss-ups and some probable losses filling out the slate.
Oklahoma entered the season ranked No. 7 and got to as high as No. 2 after a win at Ohio State, but the loss to Iowa State undid that progress. An emotional 29-24 victory over rival Texas last week seems to have corrected the course, but coach Lincoln Riley knows Saturday's game won't be easy.
"(The Wildcats) bring great effort," Riley said.
"They bring toughness. Manhattan is always a tough place to play. And I think they're a prideful group, I'm sure they're feeling like we did a week ago, that they didn't put their best foot forward. I don't want to put words into their mouth, but I know they'll be a very motivated and hungry team to play.
"(They're) a very well-coached team. You know what you're gonna get with Kansas State. You get it every single time. It's always a challenge, certainly going up there is. So we're expecting a four-quarter fight with them, and that's something we've got to be ready for."
Not much has gone right for Kansas State. Following season-opening blowout wins against weaker non-conference opponents, K-State has lost three of its last four games. The Wildcats have seemed ill-prepared for their past two opponents, something K-State fans are not used to with Bill Snyder-coached teams.
"There are a lot of things that aren't taking place, and that falls in my lap," Snyder said following the latest loss, a 26-6 defeat at the hands of unbeaten TCU last week. "We were 0-for-7 or 0-for-8 on third down in the first half."
Kansas State is averaging 208 yards per game on the ground and 186.2 yards per game through the air. Their receivers are dropping way too many catchable passes. A position considered a strength in the offseason sees walk-on Dalton Schoen leading in receiving yards (286) and touchdowns (three). He is second in catches (13).
Quarterback Jesse Ertz started strong, but he was replaced in a 40-34 double-overtime loss at Texas by Alex Delton because of an undisclosed injury. Ertz, who did not play against TCU, is completing just 55 percent of his passes. He's still the team's leading rusher (336 yards), but not for long, as running back Alex Barnes should pass him this game if Ertz doesn't play.
Delton, a redshirt sophomore, started his first career game against TCU and could not get untracked. He was 11 of 29 for 146 yards and no touchdowns. A run-first quarterback, he ran for 39 yards on 19 carries.
"Alex really struggled, but he had a lot of help in that respect," Snyder said. "It wasn't all his fault."
Despite the struggles, the Wildcats insist they have not lost confidence.
"We just try to stay focused," senior defensive tackle Will Geary said. "Coach Snyder told us that he was going to do his best to get us ready for next week. It's up to us to buy in and give it our all."
The Sooners, led by Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield, are averaging 377.7 yards per game through the air and 197.8 on the ground. They have scored an average of 42 points per game.
Building big leads hasn't been a recent issue. In the first half of their past three games, the Sooners have jumped ahead 28-10 on Baylor, 14-0 on Iowa State and 20-0 on Texas. Each time, the other team came back to take a fourth-quarter lead.
"If we can get the mentality right, which I think we made some strides on, and get the execution along with it, then that's when you start to knock people out," Riley said.
|Kentucky||vs.||Mississippi State||4:00 (EDT)|
|Portland State||vs.||Idaho State||4:30 (EDT)|
|North Texas||vs.||Florida Atlantic||5:00 (EDT)|
|Southeast Missouri State||vs.||Austin Peay||5:00 (EDT)|
|Louisiana-Monroe||vs.||South Alabama||5:00 (EDT)|
|Utah State||vs.||UNLV||6:00 (EDT)|
|Savannah State||vs.||Charleston Southern||6:00 (EDT)|
|UC Davis||vs.||Northern Arizona||7:00 (EDT)|
|Central Arkansas||vs.||Northwestern State||7:00 (EDT)|
|South Florida||vs.||Tulane||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
No. 16 USF rides Bull market into Tulane territory
Tuesday, October 17 at 10:25 PM (EDT)
NEW ORLEANS -- University of South Florida coach Charlie Strong has been around great football programs before, so comparisons come rather easily for a man who has seen his share of undefeated starts.
The No. 16 Bulls (6-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) will put their nation-leading 11-game winning streak on the line against improved Tulane (3-3, 1-1) on Saturday night in Yulman Stadium, but Strong isn't afraid to tell the world how good his team is.
A victory over Tulane would give USF its best start in school history and continue the Bulls' search for national affirmation.
"We're good enough to go and compete with anyone," Strong said Tuesday after his Bulls garnered their highest poll ranking since 2008. "We have a good football team. I've seen some of these (other) teams play, and I wouldn't be afraid to play them."
The Bulls have done much more than win 11 straight games. During their last 23 contests, USF has scored at least 30 points, matching a mark set by Chip Kelly's 2011-12 Oregon teams for the longest such streak in NCAA history.
The streak opened with a 44-23 victory over Temple on Nov. 14, 2015, and USF has averaged 42.6 points in those games. The Bulls are averaging 42.8 points this season, but Strong is concerned about his defense stopping Tulane's rejuvenated option offense.
"We know this, whenever you go on the road, you've got to play your best and you've got to be at your best," Strong said. "We're going to get their best. Tulane has a really explosive offense."
Strong's calling card has always been defense, and that's been the case in his first year with USF. The Bulls rank No. 3 in the nation in rushing defense (77.8 yards per game) and No. 8 in rushing offense (293 yards). Top-ranked Alabama and No. 3 Georgia are the only other teams that rank in the top 10 in both categories.
USF also ranks first in the nation in interceptions (15) and turnover margin (plus-13).
Making the offense go for USF is senior quarterback Quinton Flowers, who surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards in a 33-3 romp over Cincinnati last week. He has rushed for more yards as a quarterback than Florida's Tim Tebow.
"I came here to do what I'm doing now, make my family proud, make my mom proud, just be a difference maker on the team," Flowers said. "I've just got to continue doing it."
Tulane, revived under second-year coach Willie Fritz, is coming off a disappointing 23-10 loss to Florida International on Saturday. Fritz said the Green Wave will have their hands full trying to stop the USF attack.
"Their quarterback (Flowers) is a Heisman Trophy candidate and they run the ball extremely well," Fritz said. "They've got big back and a big offensive line, but they also throw the ball very effectively. And, defensively, I don't think they get enough credit. They've got good corners and they play a lot of man coverage. They have a big defensive line."
After rolling up 653 yards in total offense in a 62-28 rout of Tulsa, Tulane couldn't make many offensive plays against FIU. Running back Dontrell Hilliard rushed for only 90 yards and junior quarterback Jonathan Banks was 5 of 16 passing for 36 yards.
"Dontrell didn't get enough touches last week," Fritz said.
USF's special teams have also been superb. Senior kicker Emilio Nadelman made all four field goal attempts against Cincinnati and is 14 of 15 this season.
|Incarnate Word||vs.||McNeese||7:00 (EDT)|
|BYU||vs.||East Carolina||7:00 (EDT)|
|Eastern Washington||vs.||Southern Utah||7:00 (EDT)|
|Southern Miss||vs.||Louisiana Tech||7:00 (EDT)|
|Southern University||vs.||Jackson State||7:00 (EDT)|
|Gardner-Webb||vs.||Kennesaw State||7:00 (EDT)|
|LSU||vs.||Ole Miss||7:15 (EDT) Preview|
No. 24 LSU tries to keep Ole Miss grounded
Tuesday, October 17 at 11:05 PM (EDT)
Ole Miss' passing offense is humming and No. 24 LSU is trying to get its rushing offense to do the same as these longtime rivals meet Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
The Rebels (3-3, 1-2 SEC) lead the conference in passing yards per game at 357.2 -- 70 more than the next-best passing offense (Missouri). LSU (5-2, 2-1) ranks sixth in rushing yards per game (191) and has a chance for a breakout game.
"They've got one of the best quarterbacks that we're going to face in the country in Shea Patterson," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said of Ole Miss. "Probably the best group of receivers we've seen."
Rebels wide receivers A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge have each caught six touchdown passes, and Brown is averaging 19.4 yards per catch and Lodge 18.2. Patterson completes 65.8 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Tigers cornerbacks Greedy Williams, Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II all played a big part in shutting out Auburn in the second half last week as LSU rallied from an early 20-0 deficit to prevail 27-23.
They're the main reasons LSU is second in the SEC in passes defensed (35). It's also second in sacks and fifth in passing yards allowed (170.6). Only one opponent (Syracuse) has passed for more than 180 yards against the Tigers.
"They know the stakes are high for us as a football team," Orgeron said of his cornerbacks. "They know the stakes are high for them as individuals, especially going against the great receivers that Ole Miss has."
The Tigers' ground game has been hampered by injuries to running backs Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, and tackles K.J. Malone and Toby Weathersby. Guice and Williams have been playing, though limited, but Malone and Weathersby missed the Auburn game. Malone is unlikely to play this week, but Weathersby has returned to practice and has a better chance of playing.
LSU has run the ball well enough the last two weeks to beat two ranked teams -- Florida, which was 20th, and Auburn, which was 10th.
In both games, the most explosive runs were made by wide receivers on speed sweeps.
"Obviously we want to get our running game better inside the tackles," Orgeron said.
The running backs and the receivers should be able to accumulate more than their average rushing totals against the Rebels, who are allowing the 13th-most rushing yards per game in the country (238.5).
"(Speed sweeps) have been working really well for us," center Will Clapp told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "We can't rely on that all season to win us games -- got to be more balanced with our run."
In order for the run game to be more consistently effective, Guice has to get back on track. He hasn't had a 100-yard game since Sept. 9.
"You've got to stop Guice. That's first," Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said. "They do a good job with their speed sweep motions to different people. If you load the box up, they'll hurt you with the speed sweeps. They've got some guys who can beat you on the perimeter. But the big focus is stopping Guice."
The Rebels ended a three-game losing streak with a 57-35 victory against Vanderbilt last week. Before that, they had been outscored by a combined 110-26 in SEC losses to Alabama and Auburn.
"I don't think everything is the way it needs to be," Luke said. "We still have a lot of improvements we need to make offensively and defensively. I think that's important to not let a win mask those things."
Orgeron coached Ole Miss from 2005-07 and was fired after compiling an overall record of 10-25, 3-21 in the SEC (including 0-8 in his final season).
"This game has nothing to do with me. This is about the team," Orgeron said. "I had a tremendous opportunity at Ole Miss. I didn't get it done. It was a stepping stone. It was something I needed, and I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for the mistakes that happened there. Hopefully I don't make them here."
Luke, who's an interim coach just as Orgeron was last season before being hired full time, was Orgeron's recruiting coordinator for one season (2005).
|Wake Forest||vs.||Georgia Tech||7:30 (EDT)|
|Auburn||vs.||Arkansas||7:30 (EDT) Preview|
No. 21 Auburn runs into vulnerable Arkansas' defense
Tuesday, October 17 at 10:40 PM (EDT)
Auburn is looking to bounce back from its second loss of the season, while Arkansas still searches for its first SEC victory when the teams collide Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.
The No. 21 Tigers (5-2, 3-1 SEC) plummeted 11 spots in the poll after last week's 27-23 loss at LSU, when Auburn blew a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Arkansas, meanwhile, is 0-3 in conference play and coming off a 41-9 road loss to No. 1 Alabama.
Both coaches were maintaining an optimistic outlook.
"It's our first SEC loss," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said of the setback to LSU.
"We still control our own destiny. We've got to win. We've got to win out. And that's what's on our mind. I'm frustrated, but it's not the end of the world. We're going to finish this season strong, and there's no doubt in my mind our players feel that same way."
Malzahn said the loss at LSU was his responsibility.
"Blowing a 20-point lead was tough to take, and I just want to say this," Malzahn said. "I've got good coaches, I've got good players, and any time that happens, that's on the head coach. That's on me. That can't happen again, it won't happen again, but I take full responsibility."
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema pointed out that the Razorbacks (2-4, 0-3) were 2-4 heading into their home game with Auburn in 2015. Arkansas won that game 54-46 in four overtimes to start a run in which the Razorbacks went 6-1 for an 8-5 finish.
"We battled back, kind of starting with this game against Auburn, so I'm excited," Bielema said.
Beating the Tigers in an offensive shootout might be more of a challenge for the Razorbacks this time around. Arkansas has scored a total of 31 points in its last two games and will likely be without senior quarterback Austin Allen for the second consecutive game.
Redshirt freshman Cole Kelley started in place of Allen against Alabama and completed 23 of 42 passes for 200 yards, with one touchdown pass and one interception.
Allen, who suffered an injured right shoulder in a loss at South Carolina on Oct. 7, hasn't been officially ruled out for the Auburn game, but Bielema said Monday that he is probably "a couple of weeks away" from returning.
Malzahn said he expects Arkansas to play hard.
"They're a team right now with their back against the wall," he said. "We know we're going to get their best."
Auburn sophomore quarterback Jarrett Stidham struggled in the loss to LSU, completing 9 of 26 attempts for 165 yards and a touchdown. For the season, however, Stidham has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,510 yards and eight touchdowns with two interceptions.
Stidham's passing complements a bruising Auburn running attack led by junior Kerryon Johnson. Johnson, who missed two games earlier this season with a hamstring injury, has run for 476 yards and seven touchdowns on 82 carries in the past three games.
"They're a good football team," Bielema said. "I think their quarterback is a very, very good player who throws a very good football. (Johnson) is a very explosive player."
Arkansas' defense has struggled against the run, allowing its four Power Five opponents to gain an average of 236.8 yards per game on the ground. In last season's meeting, Auburn rushed for 543 yards -- the most by an Arkansas opponent -- and beat the Razorbacks 56-3.
"It would be fair to say that from the time they walked off the field last year to where we are they've made themselves aware of it," Bielema said.
Arkansas' running attack, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. The Razorbacks rushed for 27 yards on 29 carries against Alabama behind a revamped offensive line that also allowed five sacks by the Crimson Tide.
Auburn has held four of its seven opponents to 100 yards or less rushing and no team has rushed for 200.
Arkansas quarterbacks have been sacked 18 times this season. Auburn's defense has been credited with 19 sacks, led by 6.5 from junior outside linebacker Jeff Holland.
|USC||vs.||Notre Dame||7:30 (EDT) Preview|
Stakes high for No. 11 USC, No. 13 Notre Dame
Tuesday, October 17 at 10:37 PM (EDT)
LOS ANGELES -- The rivalry between No. 11 USC and No. 13 Notre Dame stands as one of the most hallowed in college football, with a lineage that transcends individual season records.
"I think it's the best intersectional rivalry in college sports," USC head coach Clay Helton said.
With a combined 22 national championships and 14 Heisman Trophy winners between the programs, the USC-Notre Dame rivalry has the hardware to back up Helton's claim. Both teams enter Saturday's matchup at Notre Dame Stadium ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2009, and the game has College Football Playoff implications.
The 89th installment of the series looks to be more befitting its lofty history than recent editions.
Last year's rain-soaked 45-27 USC win at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ended with the future of Notre Dame football uncertain, as head coach Brian Kelly fielded questions afterward about his status.
"Last year, Coach Kelly was dealt a hard hand because of the injuries he had (on the roster), especially late in the season," Helton said. "Right now, they're a healthy club."
Playing with a complete lineup -- including quarterback Brandon Wimbush, whom Kelly said Tuesday was 100 percent coming out of a bye week -- Notre Dame has stormed to a 5-1 start. Its only loss came to currently third-ranked Georgia by one point on Sept. 9.
The Fighting Irish have relied on a multifaceted run game, paced by running back Josh Adams' 129.3 rushing yards per game -- seventh in the country -- and supplemented by the dual-threat playmaker Wimbush at 80.4 yards per game.
Combined with a defense that has allowed just one rushing touchdown, Notre Dame has already exceeded its 2016 win total. Talk of change has given way to championship aspirations.
USC, at 6-1, is also a viable national championship contender -- contingent on Saturday's result, anyway.
No team has advanced to college football's four-team playoff in the three years of its existence. That's a small sample size, but it indicates that Saturday's clash might a de facto elimination game, raising the stakes beyond one side taking home the Jeweled Shillelagh.
Notre Dame's fifth-ranked rushing offense (308.0 yards per game) takes aim at a USC defense that has been central to the Trojans' strong start. USC won in its last outing, 28-27 over conference opponent Utah, as quarterback Sam Darnold said the Trojans "wouldn't be able to win that game without (the defense)."
Linebacker Cameron Smith was critical to the win over Utah -- as he has been to USC's defense throughout the season. Notre Dame's Kelly described Smith as his "favorite player on the (Trojans) defense." The linebacker made 16 tackles against the Utes with an interception, and he figures to be pivotal in USC's efforts to slow Adams.
"He's all over the field," Kelly said. "He's smart. Great tackler in space, the ability to do a lot in coverage but plays well in the box."
Among Smith's contributions the last time out was an interception made in the red zone. USC's defense has been excellent with its back against the end zone, holding opponents to a 41.4 percent touchdown conversion rate inside the 20-yard line.
Only 11 defenses in the country are better. Notre Dame has one of them, allowing 35 percent.
"We've done a really good job of matching personnel there, and (stopping opponents on) first down," Kelly said. "Leverage has been with us in down-and-distance in the red zone, and leverage has been with us in matching personnel in the red zone."
Should Saturday's game come down to a red-zone play, it will call to mind the game at Notre Dame Stadium 12 years ago when Trojans running back Reggie Bush pushed quarterback Matt Leinart into the end zone for a winning touchdown.
USC played for a national championship that season; Notre Dame went to the Fiesta Bowl, finishing just outside of the BCS title picture. Such are the potential stakes this year -- for the first time between these programs since the 2006 season.
"It's great for college football when both teams are doing well, and there's so much excitement around the game on a national scope," Helton said. "It makes it fun for the players, the coaches and the fans."
|Michigan||vs.||Penn State||7:30 (EDT) Preview|
No. 2 Penn State begins brutal stretch vs. No. 19 Michigan
Tuesday, October 17 at 10:54 PM (EDT)
Second-ranked Penn State is well-rested, and needs to be.
The Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten), idle last week, begin a season-defining three-week stretch by hosting No. 19 Michigan (5-1, 2-1) on Saturday night.
The game is scheduled to be a "white-out" in 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium.
"The only thing I like more than Christmas is a white-out football game," Lions coach James Franklin said Tuesday.
It's probably safe to say he has far less affection for the Big Ten schedule-maker. After Saturday's test, Penn State travels to No. 6 Ohio State and No. 18 Michigan State.
For now, the Lions are focused on a Wolverines squad that blasted them 49-10 last Sept. 24 in Ann Arbor. PSU won nine straight games afterward en route to the Big Ten championship, and is 15-1 since. Its only loss was a 52-49 Rose Bowl thriller against USC.
Penn State linebacker Koa Farmer said the Lions are "a different team" than they were last season against the Wolverines, when in his estimation they "weren't ready to play."
"We have a different mindset," he said.
Cornerback Amani Oruwariye said the Lions don't view Saturday's rematch as a revenge game, but rather as "a platform to build from."
"The numbers speak for themselves -- 15-1 since the last time we played them," he said. "We told ourselves we're not going to prepare the way we did, we're not going to come out the way we did, we're not going to have the energy that ... we did. I think every team needs that kind of game, to just look at themselves in the face, look at each other in the face -- just, 'Let's get it done.'"
Franklin, a self-described "live-in-the-present guy," believes several factors beyond that loss have contributed to his team's hot streak. He listed player development, added maturity and improved chemistry as factors.
"I really don't think last season's game has a whole lot to do with this Saturday's game," he said. "I don't think past historical records have a lot of factor into this game Saturday."
Lions running back Saquon Barkley, the FBS leader in all-purpose yards per game (217.0), has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and quarterback Trace McSorley has also played well. Saturday's game, however, looms as a defensive struggle.
Penn State is atop the FBS in scoring defense (9.0 points per game), while Michigan leads the way in total defense (223.8 yards per game).
Franklin described Wolverines coordinator Don Brown, with whom he used to work at Maryland, as a "greedy" defensive boss -- i.e., a coach who tries to muffle every offensive strength of an opponent. During his film study, Franklin has been particularly impressed by defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who in his eyes "looks like a first-rounder" in next spring's NFL draft.
The Wolverines are also in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense, rush defense, pass defense and pass-efficiency defense.
"I think we are getting better each week," Hurst said of the defense. "I think we are really starting to create our own identity and are starting to really gain an understanding of who we are as a defense. I think that is really important.
"We kind of knew what we had last year, and this year has been a little more unknown, but I think we have really started to develop into our own."
The Wolverines followed up a loss to Michigan State with a 27-20 overtime victory at Indiana last Saturday, as junior Karan Higdon ran 25 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns -- all career highs. His 25-yard scoring run in the extra period proved to be the difference.
Quarterback John O'Korn was only 10 of 20 for 58 yards through the air, however, and said Monday that his outing was " definitely not up to my own goals and aspirations."
"I need to pick it up," he added. "Simple as that."
The Wolverines are eighth or worse in the Big Ten in every major offensive category except rushing, and have scored only six touchdowns on 18 visits to the red zone. As a result, coach Jim Harbaugh has not been eager to single out O'Korn for criticism.
"We're trying to get all 11 (guys) on offense playing more precise," Harbaugh said Tuesday. "That's what we're working on. That's what our preparations are."
|Friday, October 20, 2017|
|Colorado State||27||vs.||24||New Mexico|
|Western Kentucky||35||vs.||31||Old Dominion|