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  • STAT WATCH: Rashaad Penny next up as Aztecs' do-it-all man
    September 11, 2017

    Now it's Rashaad Penny's turn in the spotlight for San Diego State.

    Penny was a 1,000-yard rusher and the Mountain West Conference special teams player of the year in 2016, but he was overshadowed as teammate Donnel Pumphrey became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher.

    Pumphrey is with the Philadelphia Eagles now, and Penny has stepped into his role as the Aztecs' main attraction. In a 30-20 win at Arizona State on Saturday, Penny broke a 95-yard run for his team's first touchdown and finished with a career-high 216 yards on 18 carries.

    SDSU's second TD came on Penny's sixth career kick return for a TD, this one a 99-yarder. Penny later caught a 33-yard scoring from Christian Chapman.

    Penny's 353 all-purpose yards were a national-high and third-most in a game by an SDSU player, behind Marshall Faulk's 422 against Pacific in 1991 and Darnay Scott's 354 against UTEP in 1992.

    Other notable statistical feats:


    200-YARD CLUB

    Joining Penny in the 200-yard rushing club were Tulsa's D'Angelo Brewer and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor.

    Brewer ran 38 times for a career and national season-high 262 yards and three touchdowns in the Hurricane's 66-42 win over Louisiana. Brewer's 50-yard run for his first TD was the longest run of his career until he went 60 yards to set up a score.

    Taylor, Wisconsin's first true freshman to start at running back since Zach Brown in 2007, ran for 223 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Florida Atlantic.


    Clemson's 11 sacks against Auburn matched the most in an FBS game in five years and were the Tigers' most since recording 11 against Utah State in 2004. Austin Bryant's four sacks matched the program record set by Keith Adams in 1999. Clemson recorded no sacks against Kent State in its opener.


    New Mexico's Corey Bojorquez boomed a 77-yard punt in the second quarter against New Mexico State, the longest in the nation this season. Last year Bojorquez had an 80-yarder against Colorado State. There were four other punts of 70 yards or longer in the FBS on Saturday.


    East Carolina's Gardner Minshew threw a 95-yard touchdown to Trevon Brown in a 56-20 loss to West Virginia, matching the season's longest play from scrimmage in the FBS. It was Brown's first touchdown since 2015. He was ineligible last season.


    Illinois, which went into its home game against Western Kentucky of Conference USA as an underdog, held the Hilltoppers to 6 yards rushing on 16 attempts in a 20-7 win. It was Western Kentucky's lowest output on the ground since at least 2000. The Illini did it with two true freshman defensive line starters for the first time since 1980.


    Nebraska and California, both moving to 3-4 defenses under new coordinators, are the only power-five conference teams allowing more than 500 yards a game. Coordinator Bob Diaco's Cornhuskers surrendered an average of 531.5 yards against Arkansas State and Oregon; coordinator Tim DeRuyter's Bears gave up an average of 505.5 yards to North Carolina and Weber State.


    • PICK SIX: Longhorns are among teams facing QB quandaries
      September 11, 2017

      Nothing raises the antennas of college football fans more than uncertainty at the quarterback position, and there's plenty of that at about a half-dozen Power Five schools after the second week of the season.

      The most high-profile situation is Texas, which visits No. 4 Southern California this week. The Longhorns don't have an all-out controversy, mind you, but first-year coach Tom Herman does have a quandary.

      Shane Buechele, who has started all 13 games in his career, still hasn't recovered from the bruised shoulder he got against Maryland. First-time freshman starter Sam Ehlinger was more than solid in a 56-0 win against overmatched San Jose State on Saturday. Jerrod Heard, who moved from quarterback to receiver last season, also took some snaps in short-yardage situation and in the red zone and ran for two touchdowns.

      If Buechele isn't fully healed, how close to 100 percent does he need to be?

      ''We've got to make sure that Shane can do everything he's capable of doing and doing it at an elite level before we throw him back in there because, A, you don't want a setback from a health standpoint from him,'' Herman said. ''And, B, you don't want the pride of getting him in to inhibit the offense's production.''

      A look at some other tenuous quarterback situations:


      The Bears are 0-2 for the first time since 2003, and Arizona transfer Anu Solomon was not sharp at all in a 17-10 loss to Texas-San Antonio. Zach Smith started the last four games in 2016 and put up good numbers. He certainly would not be overwhelmed by playing in a road environment against Duke this week.


      Three interceptions got Anthony Brown the hook in the third quarter of a 34-10 loss to Wake Forest and Darius Wade finished up. Brown, a redshirt freshman, won the job in the preseason and was decent in a 23-20 opening win over Northern Illinois. He clearly has the greater upside compared with Wade, a backup since 2014.


      Peyton Bender beat out Carter Stanley in the preseason, and he won over FCS Southeast Missouri State in the opener. But Bender had difficulty handling Central Michigan's pressure in a 45-27 loss, needed a school-record 62 attempts to complete 32 passes for 323 yards, and he threw two interceptions that led to CMU touchdowns.


      Coach Pat Narduzzi said Max Browne is still his starter after a 33-14 loss to Penn State, but the firmness of Browne's grip on the job is unknown. Browne was picked off twice and victimized by dropped passes. Ben DiNucci ran for a 3-yard TD on his only play of a series after Browne got his helmet knocked off, and he was in for Pitt's final possession and was 5 for 9 for 49 yards. Narduzzi said DiNucci gave the Panthers a spark.

      TEXAS A&M

      Nick Starkel broke his ankle in the opener against UCLA and might be out the rest of the season. Freshman Kellen Mond started against Nicholls State and was replaced in the second half by senior Jake Hubenak, who threw for two touchdowns and helped the Aggies win 24-20. Coach Kevin Sumlin said the QB situation is still sorting itself out. Who starts against Louisiana this week is anyone's guess.


      • McGlinchey takes blame for Irish loss
        September 10, 2017

        SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning following Georgia's 20-19 victory over Notre Dame, Fighting Irish offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey took the blame.

        ''It's awful, absolutely awful ... it came down to execution at the end and I blew it,'' said McGlinchey, a 6-foot-8 1/4, 315-pound left tackle who turned down the NFL to try to help Notre Dame rebound from a 4-8 season.

        McGlinchey held himself responsible for missing the block that led to Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy's sack of quarterback Brandon Wimbush and linebacker Lorenzo Carter's fumble recovery that ended Notre Dame's chance of rallying past the No. 13 Bulldogs. The loss dropped the Irish (1-1) out of the Associated Press Top 25 rankings. Notre Dame is at Boston College next week.

        ''Our defense played its heart out. Everyone had their doubts about them and they stepped up,'' McGlinchey said. ''That last play was my fault. We played our hearts out in the fourth quarter.''

        Coach Brian Kelly, who was brusque in ending his postgame conference, insisting things won't ''snowball'' as they did in 2016 when Notre Dame lost seven of its eight games by eight points or fewer, was in a better mood Sunday and didn't fault McGlinchey.

        ''I've never felt like there's one play that determines a game,'' Kelly said. ''It was just a one-on-one scenario. That's a guy (Bellamy) that's going to be playing in the NFL.''

        After rushing for 422 yards and five touchdowns on 44 carries against Tempe in the opener, Notre Dame had 55 yards on 37 carries and one touchdown, a 1-yard run by redshirt junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who managed 1 net yard rushing on 16 attempts but completed 20 of 40 passes for 210 yards.

        ''It's a combination of everybody doing their job,'' Kelly said, ''and, again, we've got to get better at it. We've got to coach it better, and we've got to play better, and we will next week.''

        Defensively, new coordinator Mike Elko's 4-2-5 scheme allowed Georgia 185 yards (73 on 13 carries by senior Sony Michel) but surrendered runs of 30 (senior Nick Chubb) and 40 yards (freshman D'Andre Swift). Notre Dame limited true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, who was making his first start, to 141 yards on 16-of-29 passing with two sacks and an interception.

        ''We're headed in the right direction,'' said Notre Dame senior linebacker Greer Martini, who had six stops. ''Last year in the fourth quarter we would have fallen apart. We came out and got the ball back for the offense.''


        • ONE-MAN JOB: Tre Bryant carrying RB load for Huskers so far
          September 11, 2017

          LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Nebraska coach Mike Riley meant it when he said in the preseason that he wanted one of his three top running backs to do most of the work.

          Tre Bryant has 51 carries in two games, Mikale Wilbon has five and Devine Ozigbo has none.

          Change might be coming for this week's game against Northern Illinois (1-1). Bryant aggravated his right knee against Oregon on Saturday, and Riley said Monday it would be mid-week until he knows whether the sophomore can play against the Huskies. Riley said Bryant's knee issue has more to do with wear-and-tear than a specific injury.

          ''His knee is older than his age,'' Riley said. ''We have from the beginning of camp managed Tre in a way we don't overwork him.''

          Bryant ran 31 times for a career-high 192 yards in the opener against Arkansas State , and Riley said in retrospect that number of carries ''might be at the high end of what he should do.'' Bryant had 20 carries for 107 yards against Oregon before leaving early in the fourth quarter of the 42-35 loss .

          If Bryant can't play, Wilbon would make his first career start and be backed up by Ozigbo. True freshman Jaylin Bradley will go into the week preparing as the No. 3 running back.

          The Huskers' decision to not play Ozigbo has been a bit of a mystery. Last year, he appeared in 11 games and had the third-most carries on the team, at 97. So far, he's yet to get on the field in any capacity.

          ''We're not into the rotation deal like we have been in the past,'' Riley said. ''We made a decision to play Tre and then we had to make a decision on who to spell him with, and we chose Wilbon. All three of the backs are improved players from a year ago. Our thought is that whenever Devine is called upon, he will play well, so we just keep coaching him and get him ready.''

          Riley, as coach at Oregon State for 14 years, typically relied on one back to get the vast majority of carries. He said he's found that backs tend to get stronger as the game continues.

          Bryant has been one of the early surprises for the Cornhuskers (1-1). Last year, he totaled 172 yards on 43 carries as the backup to Terrell Newby and Ozigbo. Bryant's two-game average of 149.5 yards ranks second behind Wisconsin freshman Jonathan Taylor's 155 yards a game and ninth nationally, and he's broken runs of 24, 35 and 25 yards so far.

          Riley said he knows not playing has been difficult for Ozigbo.

          ''He has played, he's a good player, he's worked hard, he's gotten better, (but) so has everybody else,'' Riley said. ''We made a decision. It's outside of anything he can do about it. So what are you going to do? Are you going to pout? If you pout, when your chance comes, chances are you won't be ready because you've been thinking about this instead of getting ready for that.

          ''It's one of those hard things in life. I know it's hard because he cares and he works hard and he's a great guy. But he'll be ready.''

          NOTES: Safety Joshua Kalu (hamstring) and offensive lineman David Knevel (ankle) are doubtful for the Northern Illinois game. ... After the loss to Oregon, Riley said, ''We should be so hungry to practice today. When they look at that film, they should just be sick, and they should want to get out there and work to be better than that.''


          • 4th Quarter Covers - Week 2
            September 11, 2017

            Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the second big college football weekend. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

            Oregon (-11) 42, Nebraska 35: The line on this Pac-12/Big Ten clash dropped from as high as -14 but it didn’t look like it mattered at halftime as Oregon led 42-14. Nebraska put together a good fight in the second half to climb within 14 in the first seven minutes before scoring halted on both sides with Oregon ending successive drives with an interception, a failed 4th-and-short, and a missed field goal. Nebraska wasn’t able to take advantage as it looked like Oregon would be able to run out the clock. With just over five minutes to go the Ducks fumbled in their own territory. Many watched with great interest as Nebraska went for it on 4th-and-4 from inside the Oregon 20-yard-line in the final minutes, converting and eventually finding the end zone for the backdoor cover. Nebraska actually got the ball back in decent field position with about two minutes to go but any hopes of tying the game ended quickly with an interception.

            Old Dominion (-3½) 17, Massachusetts 7: Old Dominion had a 10-0 lead at halftime but two offensive plays into the second half the Minutemen were within three and within the spread with a 60-yard passing touchdown. Seven consecutive punts followed before the Monarchs seemed ready to put the game away but a 16-play, 93-yard drive came up empty with Massachusetts getting three straight stops on the one-yard-line. Pinned deep the Minutemen couldn’t advance and in great field position after a short punt Old Dominion would find the end zone again, going up by 10 with just over six minutes to go in the game. Massachusetts entered Old Dominion territory on its final two possessions but could not add points, falling to 0-3 S/U and ATS on the season despite three competitive games.

            Michigan (-33) 36, Cincinnati 14 (49½): As a heavy favorite Michigan was never a threat to cover, leading by only three points well into the second half before pulling away. The total however brought some fourth quarter excitement with a number that fell from just above 50 to just below 50 by kickoff. There were just 24 points at halftime but 38 points through three quarters. Michigan settled for a very short field goal with about nine minutes to go and then scored twice on defense in the final seven minutes with a safety and the team’s second interception return touchdown of the game for the scoring to close right on 50.

            Louisville (-11½) 47, North Carolina 35: Louisville led by 13 early in the third quarter, past a road favorite spread that reached as high as -12½. That lead didn’t last long as the kickoff was returned for a touchdown to bring the Tar Heels within six and later in the third quarter North Carolina took a 28-27 lead. Louisville would score three touchdowns in a 10-minute span in the fourth quarter to lead by 19 with about three minutes to go but North Carolina scored a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining to make the final margin 12, right near the number.

            Iowa (-3½) 44, Iowa State 41: This rivalry game lived up to the billing with an exciting back-and-forth contest. Iowa had a 21-10 lead halfway through the third quarter but Iowa State scored three consecutive touchdowns to take a 31-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. Iowa tied the game with the help of the lone turnover in the game getting a short field goal to knot the game at 31-31 with about five minutes to go but Iowa State quickly hit a 74-yard pass play to go up by seven. With just over a minute to go Iowa hit a 46-yard pass to force overtime. The Cyclones went first in the extra session and had to settle for a field goal, Iowa was able to convert a big 3rd down play and hit for the game winning score, not needing the extra-point that those on the Hawkeyes needed for the closing line cover, though a push was certainly a common result.

            Colorado (-37) 37, Texas State 3: The Buffaloes were in command with a 31-3 edge through three quarters but they settled for a field goal with about 10 minutes remaining to sit short of the hefty favorite spread. A Texas State fumble handed Colorado the ball right back at the Texas State 24-yard-line but the Buffaloes again had to settle for a short kick, leaving them just short of the elevated spread. Colorado would get the ball back and opted to go for it on 4th-and-6 from deep field goal range, falling a yard short and winding up just short of the number.

            Penn State (-18½) 33, Pittsburgh 14: The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead but they couldn’t pull away from rival Pittsburgh, leading just 21-6 through three quarters before scoring early in the fourth quarter to get past the spread with a 28-6 edge. The line on this game reached as high a -20½ before dropping before kickoff and the timing wound up being rather critical as Pittsburgh closed the margin to 14 points with a touchdown and a two-point conversion before Penn State added a late safety and a short field goal to win by 19 despite posting only 312 total yards in the game. Pittsburgh had a chance to convincingly steal the cover on any price but in the final seconds Ben Dinucci was sacked and fumbled on 4th-and-goal from the 8-yard line.

            Navy (-8) 23, Tulane 21: This game featured a line as high as -14 before steadily falling all the way down to a closing number of -8. The middle was momentarily there with Navy leading by 10 heading into the fourth quarter after scoring nine points on defense in the third quarter. Tulane scored two minutes into the final frame and hit the two-point conversion for a two-point game having to play much of the way with a back-up quarterback. The Wave failed on a pair of fourth down attempts late in the game as Navy was able to run out the clock for the win.

            Tulsa (-14) 66, UL-Lafayette 42: Tulsa led by just three points late in the third quarter but wound up scoring four touchdowns in the final 19 minutes, including a rush with their starting quarterback with less than a minute to go for an eventual 24-point final margin, slipping past the favorite spread in a game where the yardage edge wasn’t dramatic with Tulsa posting 667 yards compared to 596 for the underdog Ragin’ Cajuns.

            Toledo (-11) 37, Nevada 24: Toledo led by 17 on three separate occasions but Nevada hit a 75-yard pass play late in the third quarter to climb within the spread trailing by 10 entering the fourth quarter. The Rockets missed a field goal but Nevada had turnovers on its next two possessions, allowing the Rockets to get three with a short drive with just over four minutes remaining. It looked like the favorite cover was in jeopardy as Nevada reached the red zone on its final possession but failed on 4th-and-2.

            Houston (-1½) 19, Arizona 16:
            Finally on the field for the first time this season Houston started strong at Arizona taking a 17-10 lead into halftime and adding an early third quarter safety to lead by nine as a very slight road favorite. Arizona had a great late third quarter drive but ultimately had to settle for a short field goal to trail by six. Midway through the fourth quarter an interception helped Arizona cut the margin in half with another field goal and the Wildcats had the ball back after forcing a quick Houston punt. With a fresh set of downs at the Houston 32-yard line Khalil Tate was intercepted with fewer than four minutes remaining and Houston was to pick up a first down and shift the field position to hold off the Wildcats for a narrow win and road favorite cover.


            • CFB notebook: Ga. Tech-Central Florida game canceled
              September 11, 2017

              Georgia Tech's game at Central Florida on Saturday has been canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the schools announced Monday.

              The schools discussed rescheduling the game later in the season but were unable to do so because the teams do not share a mutual bye week.

              "We are in complete agreement with the decision to cancel Saturday's game," Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said. "While we're disappointed for both teams' student-athletes, coaches and fans, recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma should be and is the top priority for UCF and the entire state of Florida at this time. We wish them the very best in their recovery efforts and look forward to meeting on the gridiron down the road."

              The UCF campus in Orlando, Fla., will remain closed through Wednesday, the school announced Sunday. The Knights canceled last week's home game against Memphis.

              UCF is hosting up to 1,000 National Guard members and 250 vehicles on its campus and using its stadium to stage recovery operations.

              "We're honored to host the National Guard and play a part in helping our community and state recover from Irma," Central Florida athletic director Danny White said. "On behalf of our student-athletes, athletics staff and fans, I promise the Knights will do everything we can to assist in recovery efforts."

              --Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield apologized for celebrating the 31-16 victory over Ohio State by planting a Sooners flag at midfield at Ohio Stadium.

              A year after hearing chants of "O-H, I-O" inside their own stadium, the Sooners got revenge on Saturday night as the Heisman Trophy hopeful threw for 386 yards and three second-half touchdowns.

              Mayfield sprinted around the field waving a Sooners flag before stopping to emphatically plant it in the middle of the huge block "O" logo at the 50-yard line as his teammates cheered.

              "I didn't mean for it to be disrespectful to any Ohio State people at all, especially the team or the players, because they're a great team and a great program," Mayfield told reporters Monday. "It was an emotional game. I knew that it was going to have a lot of implications on the playoffs. ... I got caught up in an emotional win. Yeah, it should've been something I did in the locker room. So I apologize for doing it in the middle of the field."

              --No. 12 LSU is expecting to have All-SEC outside linebacker Arden Key back from injury for its conference opener at Mississippi State on Saturday, coach Ed Orgeron said.

              Key, who set a school record with 12 sacks last season, underwent offseason shoulder surgery in early June. He was limited through camp and did not play in the Tigers' 2-0 start to the season.

              "Arden Key has been cleared to play this week," Orgeron said. "He's going to work hard all week in full contact, and we're going to play him as much as we can. We'll see during the week how much he can do."

              --The Southeastern Conference is discussing the effects of Hurricane Irma on the ability of No. 24 Florida to host No. 23 Tennessee on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.

              The game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.

              "Now that the storm has passed through Gainesville, the University of Florida is working with local authorities to assess the effect of the storm on the campus and the Gainesville community, at the same time ensuring the appropriate security and local officials are available to host a game," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement.

              --The Baylor Bears are making a quarterback change after starting out 0-2, including a shocking upset loss to Liberty.

              New coach Matt Rhule told reporters that sophomore Zach Smith will start Saturday at Duke.

              Smith will replace Anu Solomon, who Rhule said was "banged up" in Saturday night's 17-10 loss to UT-San Antonio. It was UTSA's first-ever win over a Power Five team.

              The Bears are 0-2 for the first time since 2003 and have lost eight consecutive regular-season games, including the 48-45 loss to FCS Liberty in the season opener.

              --Rutgers offensive coordinator Jerry Kill suffered a minor seizure Sunday and remained hospitalized, head coach Chris Ash said.

              "Coach Kill had a minor medical setback," Ash announced at his weekly press conference. "He is going to be fine. Saturday, early in the game after the first drive, he got tumbled up. He was really discombobulated in the first half from it and had some headaches Saturday night.

              "It hasn't been confirmed or identified as the reason yet, but he had a minor seizure (Sunday) morning. But he is fine. He is still waiting to be released from the hospital. He will be back here this afternoon or tomorrow whenever he feels up to the task."

              Ash said that Kill took a fall during Saturday's 16-13 loss to Eastern Michigan when a play reached the sideline and Rutgers quarterback Kyle Bolin took a late hit out of bounds.


              • QB Falk will start for Washington State
                September 11, 2017

                PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Luke Falk will remain the starting quarterback when No. 21 Washington State hosts Oregon State on Saturday.

                Falk struggled in the second half of Saturday's victory over Boise State and was removed from the game. He later came back but was knocked out of action by the Boise State defense.

                Tyler Hilinski led the Cougars to a 47-44 victory in triple overtime.

                Coach Mike Leach said Monday that Falk played slow and conservative last weekend. Leach also complained about poor play by the offensive line.

                Falk, a senior, holds numerous Washington State passing records. But the Washington State offense did not score a touchdown until the fourth quarter with Hilinski at quarterback.

                Hilinski threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns in erasing a 21-point deficit.


                Louisville loses RB Smith (foot) for season
                September 11, 2017

                Louisville reserve running back Jeremy Smith is done for the season due to a fractured bone in his right foot, Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino said Monday.

                Smith was injured in practice last week and sat out No. 14 Louisville's 47-35 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.

                "He is out for the year," Petrino said of Smith, who rushed for 382 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

                Malik Williams replaced Smith against North Carolina and rushed for a career-high 149 yards on 13 carries. Reggie Bonnafon, still listed as the starter, was limited to 22 yards on 10 carries.

                Colin Wilson, a highly touted freshman from Florida, also is close to joining the backfield as he nears a return from hand surgery.

                The Cardinals, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, host third-ranked and defending national champion Clemson on Saturday.


                California loses running back Tre Watson for rest of year
                September 11, 2017

                BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) California running back Tre Watson will miss the rest of the season because of an apparent right leg injury.

                The senior got hurt after catching a screen pass from Ross Bowers late in the first quarter of California's 33-20 win over Weber State on Saturday. Watson limped off the field but returned in the second quarter and carried once before going down again, this time for good.

                ''You feel for a guy like that that's put in so much time and effort into the program,'' Bears coach Justin Wilcox said Monday. ''We'll have his back. Now it's going to be the next man up at that positon. He'll bounce back from this but it's never easy going through that.''

                Watson wore a thick black brace on his right leg and used crutches Monday. He spoke briefly with Wilcox at the end of practice but did not stick around to talk to reporters.

                Wilcox declined to discuss specific details about Watson's injury or whether it would require surgery.

                Patrick Laird replaced Watson and rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries against Weber State and likely will continue to get the bulk of playing time.

                Watson was expected to be a centerpiece of California's offense after rushing for 709 yards and four touchdowns in 2016.

                A preseason candidate for the Doak Walker and Paul Hornung awards, Watson entered the season as Cal's active career leader in rushing and all-purpose yards. He ran for 52 yards and had another 32 yards receiving against North Carolina in the season opener.

                Watson got off to a decent start against Weber State with 31 yards on six carries before he got hurt.

                ''It's tough,'' Wilcox said. ''You put so much into it and you feel for a guy that goes through that. It's an unfortunate reality of this sport, that those things happen. He's a guy that will be able to come back from it, though. He's just got that about him. He'll be moving forward as soon as they start the process and then we'll be there for him.''


                • Opening Line Report - Week 3
                  September 11, 2017

                  Clemson, coming off a 14-6 win over Auburn, opened as a 3.5-point road favorite Sunday at the Wynn for its ACC showdown at Louisville, a 4.5-point swing from Louisville -1, the number the Westgate SuperBook was dealing on its Games of the Year lines this summer.

                  Bettors took Louisville +3.5 minutes after Week 3 college football lines were posted at the Wynn, prompting an adjustment to 3.

                  “I’m impressed with what I’ve seen from Clemson so far,” Wynn oddsmaker John Avello said of his opening number. “They didn’t score a lot of points (vs. Auburn), but they did win and their defense played real well. You miss a guy like (Deshaun) Watson, but the kid (junior Kelly Bryant) has stepped in and he’s capable of leading the team to a lot of wins.”

                  The Westgate’s Ed Salmons was surprised Clemson opened as the favorite of a field goal-plus and still believes his Game of the Year line was the better number.

                  “I think the line is going to close Louisville a favorite,” Salmons said. “I think Louisville will go off (-1). I don’t understand the line.”

                  Avello concedes Louisville has two big advantages in this contest (Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC) – Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and revenge. In one of the best games of last season, the Cardinals lost a heartbreaker at Clemson, 42-36.

                  “They probably should have won that game last year,” Avello said. “They’ve had this game circled on their schedule since then.”

                  Said Salmons, “Deshaun Watson is not at Clemson anymore. Last year, Louisville was every bit as good as Clemson. (Cardinals receiver James Quick) just misjudged where he was on the field and stepped out a yard before the first-down marker (on 4th-and-12 inside the 5-yard line with about 30 second left on the clock). If he didn’t, they would have won that game.”

                  Salmons believes Saturday’s matchup favors the Cardinals.

                  “The teams that give Louisville the most problems are teams that can overwhelm their defense – their defense isn’t the greatest, but I don’t think they’ll get overwhelmed with Clemson.”

                  Here are Avello’s and Salmons’ thoughts on three more key games on Saturday’s Week 3 card.

                  Oklahoma State (-14) at Pittsburgh - (ABC, 12:00 p.m. ET)

                  Highly-regarded Oklahoma State was bet from -11 to -14 by Monday morning at the Wynn against a Pittsburgh team that has failed to impress though two weeks.

                  The Cowboys’ two wins have come against non-Power 5 programs Tulsa and South Alabama, but Avello likes what he has seen from Mike Gundy’s group.

                  “They’ve certainly got a very potent offense, and we kind of new that coming in,” Avello said.

                  In fact, while Oklahoma State has yet to get into the meat of its schedule, Avello says it’s conceivable for this team to run the table.

                  Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has disappointed thus far. The Panthers struggled with Youngstown State in a 28-21 win at home in their season opener, and then lost at in-state rival Penn State, 33-14.

                  “Penn State could have won the game by more, but they knew they had the game under control so they just went through the motions,” Avello said.

                  “Maybe they’ll play better,” he added of Pitt ahead of their matchup against Okie State “They’re an 8-win team the last couple of years, they play pretty good football at home, so we’ll see if this team can get a little bit better here, because they’re going to have to facing this giant .”

                  Salmons is high on Oklahoma State as well, rating the Cowboys as the second best team in the Big 12, behind Oklahoma. Still, two touchdowns feels like an overlay to him.

                  “This one seems just a little bit on the high side,” he said of the 14-point spread.

                  Tennessee at Florida (-5.5) - (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET)

                  This line and any analysis that comes with it has asterisk attached, as there’s a chance the game will be moved because of Hurricane Irma, but Florida opened -4.5 at the Wynn and was bet up to -5.5 by Monday.

                  Florida’s football program has already been affected by Irma, as its Week 2 game against Northern Colorado was cancelled. That leaves the Gators’ Week 1 game against Michigan as the only true contest by which to measure them this season.

                  It wasn’t pretty. Florida lost 33-17, gained just 192 yards and nine first downs, was shutout in the second half and failed to score an offensive touchdown.

                  Avello and Salmons offered different takes on Florida’s showing against the Wolverines.

                  “Their offense just looked terrible,” Avello said. “They were lost at the quarterback position.”

                  Asked if that was a function of Florida’s offensive unit or Michigan’s defense, Avello said, “I wasn’t that impressed with the Michigan defense. I think they’ll get better as the year goes on. At the end of the year, who knows, they could be national championship contenders. But it looked to me that the Florida offense was struggling, that they were trying to find their way.”

                  Avello said he would have tended to open Florida a bigger favorite vs. Tennessee had it not been for that performance in addition to missing the chance to get things right vs. Northern Colorado.

                  Salmons noted two of Florida’s primary offensive weapons were suspended for the Michigan game – wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett – “not that it would have made a huge difference because they couldn’t block Michigan that game,” he said.

                  Salmons, though, expects a good performance from Florida this week.

                  “They’ve had huge success against Tennessee at home (six straight wins dating back to 2005), so I expect them to bounce back and win, and I think they’ll look much better this week,” Salmons said. “That (Michigan) game was really just a poor performance more than Florida being down. I think they’ll be above the level they’ve played the last couple of years.”

                  Texas at USC (-17) - (FOX, 8:30 p.m. ET)

                  While the Wynn and Westgate both hung 17 on this game, the line was as high as 17.5 elsewhere around town Monday, and as low as 15.5 Sunday. Whatever the iteration, it’s a big number – the Westgate was dealing 11.5 on its Games of the Year board – but the teams appear to be heading in opposite directions, and Longhorns QB Shane Buechele is questionable after missing last week’s game against San Jose State with a shoulder issue.

                  “The Southern Cal stock has certainly gone up,” Avello said. “Last week, they looked great offensively (in a 42-24 win against Stanford). Their quarterback (Sam Darnold), he’s good, isn’t he? I mean, he just looked really, really good.”

                  Avello said Texas’ Week 1 loss to Maryland “made their stock go down. It’s like two stocks going in different directions. This spread would have never been this high going into the season.”

                  Should Buechele be able to go, Salmons doesn’t believe there’s a large enough talent gap between USC and Texas to justify a spread this big.

                  “Provided the quarterback plays this week, I don’t see much of a difference between Texas and Stanford (USC closed -4 at home vs. Stanford). (Texas’) first game was just one of those crazy games. Sometimes, you’re just going to have a crazy game. There were so many weird things that happened to them that game, and I think they were confused by what Maryland was doing offensively. Tom Herman is too good of a coach to allow that to happen to them.

                  “It’s hard to judge last week because they played such a bad team (Texas beat San Jose State 56-0), but I don’t see a 15.5-point difference between the talent level of Texas and USC.”

                  Early lines moves

                  These games saw the point spread move 2 points or more in the favorite’s direction in the first 24 hours of wagering at the Wynn:

                  UMass vs. Temple
                  Open line: Temple -12
                  After 24 hours: Temple -14.5

                  Illinois vs. South Florida
                  Open line: USF -14
                  After 24 hours: USF -18

                  Kentucky vs. South Carolina
                  Open line: South Carolina -5
                  After 24 hours: South Carolina -7

                  Kent State vs. Marshall
                  Open line: Marshall -11.5
                  After 24 hours: Marshall -14.5

                  Oklahoma State vs. Pittsburgh
                  Open line: OSU -11
                  After 24 hours: OSU -14

                  Baylor vs. Duke
                  Open line: Duke -12
                  After 24 hours: Duke -14

                  Tulsa vs. Toledo
                  Open line: Toledo -7
                  After 24 hours: Toledo -9

                  Idaho vs. Western Michigan
                  Open line: WMU -14
                  After 24 hours: WMU -20.5

                  These games saw the point spread move 2 points or more in the underdog’s direction in the first 24 hours of wagering at the Wynn:

                  Notre Dame vs. Boston College
                  Open line: BC +15.5
                  After 24 hours: BC +13.5

                  Air Force vs. Michigan
                  Open line: Air Force +28.5
                  After 24 hours: Air Force +24.5

                  Middle Tennessee State vs. Minnesota
                  Open line: MTSU +12
                  After 24 hours: MTSU +8.5

                  Utah State vs. Wake Forest
                  Open line: Utah State +16
                  After 24 hours: Utah State +13.5

                  North Texas vs. Iowa
                  Open line: North Texas +24
                  After 24 hours: North Texas +22

                  SMU vs TCU
                  Open line: SMU +20
                  After 24 hours: SMU +18

                  Appalachian State vs. Texas State
                  Open line: Texas State +26
                  After 24 hours: Texas State +24

                  Rice vs. Houston
                  Open line: Rice +24.
                  After 24 hours: Rice +22

                  Odds Subject to Change


                  • Florida International-Indiana game called off
                    September 11, 2017

                    Indiana's home football game against Florida International on Saturday has been canceled, Hoosiers athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement Monday night.

                    Glass and FIU athletic director Pete Garcia had been in discussions since Sunday about whether to hold the game in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which has caused problems for the Golden Panthers because of travel concerns and a campus that could remain closed through the week, according to the university.

                    The Hoosiers are looking to find a replacement game on Oct. 7, its scheduled bye week.

                    Indiana and FIU plan to schedule a matchup in a future season at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, according to the release.

                    Indiana (1-1) will host Georgia Southern on Sept. 23. FIU (1-1) is scheduled to play at Rice on Sept. 23.


                    • No. 10 Badgers get Jonathan Taylor-made big plays from RB
                      September 11, 2017

                      MADISON, Wis. (AP) Running back Jonathan Taylor showed off his potential in preseason camp for No. 10 Wisconsin.

                      Two games into his college career, he looks more like a veteran than a freshman.

                      Taylor rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start in a 31-14 win in Week 2 over Florida Atlantic, becoming the fourth freshman in program history to rush for 200 yards in a game.

                      Fullback Austin Ramesh said Taylor's emergence during a simulation game in fall camp laid the groundwork for his spectacular debut.

                      ''Every year it seems like we've got a few freshmen coming in who can make an impact. But what he's done, it's impressive,'' the senior said of Taylor, who ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on nine carries in the season opener.

                      ''Having been in those shoes, trying to come in and play big-time football is quite the transition from high school,'' Ramesh said. ''He definitely stepped up and realized he could be a contributor this year.''

                      He has contributed a couple big plays already.

                      Taylor followed a 64-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes left in the first quarter against Florida Atlantic with a highlight-reel, 29-yarder less than four minutes later. He bowled over three would-be tacklers on that play.

                      Wisconsin (2-0) hits the road for the first time this weekend with a trip to Provo, Utah for a game against BYU. Taylor is again listed as a co-starter on the depth chart at running back along with junior Chris James and sophomore Bradrick Shaw, who missed the last game with a right leg injury.

                      ''We like Bradrick and I thought Chris took some steps forward in certain areas,'' coach Paul Chryst said. ''When you see Jonathan come in and do what he's doing, I think it gives us depth, and I think he's capable of being a good football player for us.''

                      Taylor leads all FBS true freshmen in rushing at 155.0 yards per game. Receiver Jazz Peavy said Taylor's emergence could benefit the Badgers' passing game, too.

                      ''He's been very impressive coming in as a true freshman, to be able to make explosive plays like that down the field and break tackles and score touchdowns,'' Peavy said. ''That's definitely huge and that's something defenses are going to have to account for and it opens it up for us on the outside.''

                      Chryst said Taylor's big plays have made an impact on his teammates in other ways.

                      ''Big plays, you love getting them. But big plays happen when everyone executes together whether it's a run or a pass,'' Chryst said. ''Everyone understands you've got to play through the whistle and then you've got to do your job. If we all do that, then big plays are the byproduct of everyone doing the right thing.''

                      NOTES: DE Chikwe Obasih (left leg), a key member of the defensive line rotation, will miss a second straight game. ... Shaw was questionable for a second straight week. ... Starting OGs Beau Benzschawel (right leg) and Jon Dietzen (right leg) were also listed as questionable on the injury report.


                      On defense, No. 7 Michigan is outscoring opposing offenses
                      September 11, 2017

                      ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) On defense, No. 7 Michigan has scored more points than it has given up.

                      The Wolverines (2-0) have scored three touchdowns on defense, tying Texas for the most in the nation. They have allowed opposing offenses to score just two TDs and a field goal.

                      ''I'm not aware of that, but that's a good statistic that we'll try to keep as long as possible,'' defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said.

                      It will be very difficult for a young and talented unit to maintain that pace.

                      Michigan hosts Air Force (1-0) on Saturday, a day the service academy will have had two weeks to prepare for since beating VMI 62-0.

                      The Falcons will bring their unique, triple-option offense to the Big House, where an attacking defense will aim to slow down another offense and perhaps score some more.

                      Michigan limited then-No. 17 Florida to only a field goal on offense in a 33-17 season-opening win.

                      The Wolverines' offense had a relatively lackluster showing in a 36-14 win over Cincinnati , but their defense did its part. Tyree Kinnel returned an interception 28 yards for a score in the first quarter against the Bearcats and Lavert Hill's 24-yard interception return for a TD in the fourth sealed the rout.

                      Kinnel, a junior from Ohio, was named the Big Ten's defensive player of the week. In addition to his interception for a touchdown, he led the team with nine tackles, including the first sack of his career.

                      Michigan returned only one starter from last year's highly touted defense. It looks like a lot of talented players were pining for an opportunity, and they're making the most of it. And when one of them gets their hands on the ball, they're trying to take it to the house.

                      ''We work on it in practice,'' Hill said. ''Every time we get a fumble recovery or something, we just pick it up and go to the end zone to get ready for Saturdays if that happens.''

                      Michigan has kept teams off balance defensive coordinator Don Brown orchestrating a scheme that has featured a three-man front with waves of blitzing linebackers in front of defensive backs fast enough to stay in one-on-one coverage. The defense has been able to shut down teams on the ground, ranking among the nation's best by allowing less than 40 yards rushing per game. That has allowed Brown to blitz, leading to the team ranking among the best in college football with five sacks a game.

                      Talent helps, too.

                      Hurst anchors a defensive line that has Rashan Gary, a top-rated recruit in 2016, on the outside. Linebacker Devin Bush has filled in well for Heisman Trophy finalist Jabrill Peppers, averaging nearly two tackles for losses a game. Even though teams have had to throw a lot, they're still not picking up many yards by averaging 157 yards passing per game.

                      ''A lot goes to coach (Don) Brown and how he coaches the defense, just getting all the playmakers on the field at one time,'' Hill said. ''He coach pretty aggressive. He knows what he's doing and you can see that on the field.''

                      Jim Harbaugh sees it, too. The coach knows his defense won't be able to outscore offenses all season long, but he likes it so far.

                      ''It's a good thing,'' Harbaugh said. ''Very good players and a good scheme. And, they work very hard at being good on defense.''


                      • Arizona State looking to regroup after disappointing loss
                        September 11, 2017

                        TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona State has gotten its sixth season under coach Todd Graham off to a shaky start.

                        The Sun Devils opened with a less-than-stellar win over New Mexico State and followed that up with a bad-in-all-phases home loss to San Diego State.

                        It's early in the season, so the Sun Devils still have time to turn things around, but they better do it soon. The schedule gets tougher from here, starting with Saturday's game at Texas Tech.

                        ''The message is simple: We've got to put what's behind us behind us and do a better job as coaches and players,'' Graham said during his weekly news conference Monday.

                        Arizona State has struggled, giving up big plays on defense the past two seasons. That's happening again this season, despite a new defensive coordinator and supposed upgrades.

                        Unlike the past two seasons, the Sun Devils are struggling to run the ball - thanks in part to injuries - and have been shaky on special teams.

                        Arizona State had problems with big plays against New Mexico State, but was able to overcome those for a 37-31 win.

                        The big plays reeled off by San Diego State were too much to overcome.

                        Aztecs running back Rashaad Penny had one early, racing off on a 95-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and later scored on a 33-yard pass. The Sun Devils also have struggled on third downs, allowing teams to convert more than 50 percent of the time.

                        Arizona State's running game was almost nonexistent against the Aztecs.

                        Demario Richard did not play against San Diego State after injuring his right leg early against New Mexico State and Kalen Ballage went out with an injury in the second half. Even so, Arizona State was struggling on the ground before Ballage got hurt and finished with 44 yards on 31 carries.

                        Arizona State also had multiple missed blocking assignments and receiver John Humphrey dropped what would have been a long touchdown pass with the Sun Devils trailing 20-14 in the third quarter.

                        ''We did a very, very poor job. We did a poor job of coaching and a poor job of executing and playing,'' Graham said.

                        Special teams had been a strong point the past few seasons, thanks to having two of the nation's best handling kicking duties.

                        Arizona State has been not-so-special so far.

                        Punter Michael Sleep-Dalton has been forced to kick exclusively left-footed - he can kick with either foot - the first two games due to a right leg injury and has struggled at times. He had a couple of short kicks against San Diego State, including a 12-yard shank late in the first half that set the Aztecs up for a field goal.

                        The Sun Devils also gave up a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second quarter, immediately after Ballage scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 7-all.

                        ''It was a disaster special teams-wise, which has not been the case,'' Graham said. ''We've usually done pretty well.''

                        The road only gets tougher from here.

                        Texas Tech has the nation's third-best offense, churning out 626 yards per game, and is second nationally with 449 yards passing per game. After that comes the Pac-12 opener against Oregon, second nationally with 634 yards of offense per game.

                        After that, the Sun Devils play at No. 19 Stanford, host No. 6 Washington, play at Utah and have No. 4 Southern California at home on Oct. 28.


                        No. 14 Louisville aims for different ending vs No. 3 Clemson
                        September 11, 2017

                        LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville's three losses to Clemson by a combined total of 15 points are just part of the frustration the Cardinals see as missed opportunities against the Tigers.

                        The most recent what-if was last October's thriller in Death Valley. Quarterback Lamar Jackson rallied the Cardinals from an 18-point deficit and Louisville led 36-28 with lead 7:50 remaining. Clemson answered with 14 consecutive points and stopped the Cardinals one yard shy of a first down at the 9 in a 42-36 Louisville loss that effectively ended the Cardinals' conference title quest.

                        Louisville's failure to close the deal against the Clemson is one of the multiple challenges the No. 14 Cardinals face in Saturday night's Atlantic Coast Conference showdown against the visiting third-ranked Tigers.

                        Said Louisville linebacker Jonathan Greenard, ''We haven't beaten these guys, so we definitely have some unfinished business.''

                        This matchup between the defending national champion Tigers (2-0, 1-0 ACC) and Louisville's reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jackson can establish an early favorite in the ACC's Atlantic Division and a berth in the college football playoffs.

                        ''We've had three really good battles with them, had our opportunities and come up short,'' coach Bobby Petrino said Monday. ''So, this is something I think is real important to our players that first of all, we should have confidence that we're there and can play.

                        ''But it is up to us to find a way to win the game.''

                        The Cardinals (2-0, 1-0) have had success in marquee games. Louisville's 63-20 pummeling of the Seminoles at home - a game that established Jackson as the Heisman favorite with a 372-yard, five-touchdown performance - was something of a breakthrough after two losses to FSU.

                        Now they need to solve the Clemson puzzle.

                        Petrino stressed the importance of moving on from the painful loss last season to the Tigers and thinking about what they could do the next time around.

                        ''It's not going to be the first time you feel that way,'' Petrino said coaches told the team. ''The important thing is what do we do about it: sit around and cry or come out and practice and get better.

                        ''We just tried to build on the fact that we came together as a team and competed extremely hard against a great football team.''

                        Petrino believes nothing has changed at Clemson, even with the departure of quarterback Deshaun Watson and receiver Mike Williams to the NFL.

                        Strong defense has carried the Tigers so far, though Petrino noted the toughness of first-year starting QB Kelly Bryant. He returned from a scary hit to lead Clemson's 14-6 victory over No. 13 Auburn , which the coach said showed a lot about his resilience.

                        Then again, Clemson comes in knowing some things remain the same at Louisville - particularly Jackson.

                        ''He's so dynamic with what he does,'' Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell said of Jackson. ''People said he's not a good passer. You're crazy because I don't know too many guys who can put zip on the ball like he can. ... Obviously, we know he can do it with his feet. He's as dynamic a runner as they come.''

                        Jackson has accounted for 1,010 yards of offense through two games and is coming off a 525-yard, five-TD performance that beat North Carolina 47-35 . That has the Tigers prepared for another battle against a Louisville team out to prove it can finish what it starts.


                        • Boston College to stick with frosh QB Brown for Notre Dame
                          September 11, 2017

                          BOSTON (AP) Boston College coach Steve Addazio says he will stick with freshman quarterback Anthony Brown to start this week's game against Notre Dame.

                          Brown was pulled from Saturday's 34-10 loss to Wake Forest in the third quarter after throwing his third interception. He was replaced by Darius Wade, a senior who's been a backup all four seasons.

                          Addazio noted on Monday that two of the interceptions were tipped by the receiver. The coach said: ''Anthony's ready to rock and roll. He's our quarterback, and we're looking to him to get going.''

                          Addazio had held off on announcing the starter for the Week 1 matchup with Northern Illinois until game time. Notre Dame arrives at the battle of Catholic schools having lost to No. 15 Georgia 20-19 and falling out of the rankings.


                          Baylor switching QBs after 0-2 start
                          September 11, 2017

                          The Baylor Bears are making a quarterback change after starting out 0-2, including a shocking upset loss to Liberty.

                          New coach Matt Rhule told reporters Monday that sophomore Zach Smith will start Saturday at Duke.

                          Smith will replace Anu Solomon, who Rhule said was "banged up" in Saturday night's 17-10 loss to UT-San Antonio. It was UTSA's first-ever win over a Power Five team.

                          The Bears are 0-2 for the first time since 2003 and have lost eight consecutive regular-season games, including the 48-45 loss to FCS Liberty in the season opener.

                          Solomon, a senior graduate transfer from Arizona, started Baylor's first two games and passed for 399 yards (completing 43.6 percent of his passes) with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

                          Smith was Baylor's starter as a true freshman in the final four games of last season, including a win in the Cactus Bowl.

                          "Zach will go and we'll rally around him and see what he can do for us," Rhule said of Smith.


                          Despite start, Browne still at QB for Pitt
                          September 11, 2017

                          PITTSBURGH (AP) Pat Narduzzi likes to play a game with the Pittsburgh depth chart. Most weeks the Panthers head coach will put an ''OR'' between two names at a given position. Sometimes the ''OR'' is simply a motivational tool to get a starter to snap out of a funk. Sometimes it's to reward a backup who is pushing for more playing time.

                          While there were ''ORs'' at defensive end, free safety and cornerback on the depth chart released Monday, there was not one at quarterback.

                          Max Browne is still running the show for the Panthers. And head coach Pat Narduzzi is in no rush to flip to sophomore Ben DiNucci with No. 9 Oklahoma State (2-0) coming to Heinz Field this weekend.

                          If anything, Narduzzi would like to see the guys surrounding Browne in the huddle to pick it up following a 33-14 loss to Penn State . Narduzzi pointed to protection problems and an inability for wide receivers to connect on big plays as major issues for Pitt (1-1) heading into its second showdown against a top 10 team in as many weeks.

                          The Panthers have allowed eight sacks in all through two weeks and the longest reception by a receiver through eight-plus quarters is just 22 yards. Browne watched the final minutes at Beaver Stadium from the sideline after taking a shot that left the Southern California graduate transfer with a sizable gash over his right eye.

                          ''We've given up too many sacks, period, so something has got to change there,'' Narduzzi said.

                          Just not, Narduzzi stressed, who is taking the snaps.

                          While Narduzzi will continue to look for opportunities to get DiNucci some playing time, Browne remains the starter. Browne completed 19 of 32 for 138 yards and two interceptions against Penn State, though Narduzzi spent Sunday poring over video trying to figure out how things went wrong. On balance, Pitt's issues in the passing game were a collaborative effort.

                          ''I was pretty happy after watching the tape with him more than I was maybe after the game, and I wasn't disappointed after the game at all because I told you how I felt after the game,'' Narduzzi said. ''You know, so does he have room for improvement? Yes. And so do I.''

                          Browne threw an interception on Pitt's first possession when he tried to hit Quadree Henderson down the Penn State sideline. Henderson was late getting out of his break and the ball sailed over his head and into the hands of Nittany Lions defensive back Grant Haley, who returned it 42 yards to set up a touchdown. Browne attributed the pick to an adjustment in coverage by Penn State while Narduzzi hinted Henderson's own effort on the play may have been an issue. Henderson tried to arm tackle Haley after the pick but the Penn State cornerback easily sped through it.

                          Asked if he sensed Henderson - an All-American as a return specialist last season - was getting ''frustrated'' after being held to 38 total yards on nine touches, Narduzzi laughed.

                          ''I'm getting frustrated with him, how about that?'' Narduzzi said.

                          The Panthers don't have much time to recover. They lost a 45-38 thriller at Oklahoma State last year, remarkable considering they allowed Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph to throw for 540 yards, including 296 to wide receiver James Washington. Both are back for more on Saturday. It was the low point of a difficult season for the Pitt secondary, which allowed the second-most yards in the FBS in 2016.

                          The group appears to have taken a step forward through two games even with safety Jordan Whitehead serving a three-game suspension. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley completed 15 of 28 for only 164 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers generated steady pressure.

                          It's a blueprint Pitt will need to follow against Oklahoma State if it wants to have any chance of quickly removing the sour taste left by a frustrating afternoon against its biggest rival. Narduzzi, however, is ready to move on. Asked for a reaction to Penn State coach James Franklin's postgame comment that beating the Panthers was akin to beating Akron (whom the Nittany Lions shut out in the 2017 opener, Narduzzi declined to stoke the fire.

                          ''They went low,'' Narduzzi said, ''and we went high.''


                          • INSIDE SLANT
                            September 12, 2017

                            Morgan State welcome sight for Knights

                            The good news for Rutgers is that the Scarlet Knights' 11-game losing streak is likely to come to an end when FCS Morgan State, scoreless in two games this season, comes calling this weekend.

                            The bad news is all that remains is Big Ten play -- and this team has a lot of work to do.

                            "We have to get better. I mean, that's what it is," coach Kyle Ash said at his regular Monday media conference. "We looked at that after game one and unfortunately we didn't do it in all phases but we have to get that done this week and next Saturday against Morgan State."

                            The Bears have lost by a combined 36-0 to FCS Towson and Albany and don't figure to cause the Knights much trouble -- Rutgers beating Morgan State 38-0 last year.

                            Week 2 saw Rutgers get as close as the Eastern Michigan 27 before a penalty pushed them out of field goal range in a 16-13 loss to the MAC squad, the second game of a season-opening three-game homestand that has been fruitless to this point.

                            "Encouraged by several things that did happen in that game," Ash said. "One, I think defensively, we continue to play pretty good defense. I think our rush defense has improved from last year. We're still playing really tight coverage, forcing the quarterback to make throws in tight windows and challenge receivers, and that's the style of defense we want to play and we'll continue to do so.

                            "We do have to start creating more turnovers and getting takeaways on defense. We did get the one with the fumble which was a timely fumble. But we need more than that and that's an area that we need to get better at."

                            Graduate senior Kyle Bolin was 17 of 37 for 198 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in his second RU start.

                            "I feel like we left some plays out on the field the whole entire game," Bolin said after the game. "There were plenty of opportunities where we could have scored or put points up on the board throughout the game that we missed out on."

                            Said Ash: "Offensively, we just struggled to get into a rhythm. We had some positive moments in the game. We'd get on a roll a little bit and then we'd lose it and we just couldn't consistently execute or perform the way that we want to. Disappointed in that, and that's something that we've got to get figured out on how to do that moving forward."

                            To complicate the Rutgers situation, new offensive coordinator Jerry Kill, who suffers from epilepsy, suffered what was called a "minor seizure" after taking a hit on the sideline against Eastern Michigan. He was due to be released from the hospital and the hope is he can quickly return to work.


                            • No. 2 Sooners try to avoid letdown
                              September 12, 2017

                              NORMAN, Okla. -- In the locker room after then-No. 5 Oklahoma finished off a 31-16 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State, Sooners coach Lincoln Riley had a very clear message for his players.

                              "Don't let this be the highlight of your season," Riley told them amid the celebration.

                              So much of Oklahoma's focus in the offseason was on starting quick -- starting games with success and starting the season quickly after last season's two non-conference losses quickly removed the Sooners from the College Football Playoff hunt.

                              Oklahoma has done both so far, first whipping up UTEP in the season opener and then plowing through the Buckeyes. Oklahoma has moved up to No. 2 in the rankings.

                              But where do the Sooners go from here? How do they handle things moving forward, beginning with Saturday's nonconference finale against Tulane?

                              "We've won two games, you know?" Riley said.

                              "We've had success in two games. That's great. We appreciate it. We're happy about it. But there's so much more to go. We've got some good leaders. We as a staff will do a good job of keeping it in perspective, and know we've got a long way to go to get where we want to go."

                              On the plane ride back from Columbus, Ohio, quarterback Baker Mayfield and some of the rest of the team leaders got together to discuss how to maintain focus moving forward.

                              "We need to treat every game like it's the last one we have, like we need it," Mayfield said. "That's a good mentality to have, just block everything else and prepare like nobody else believes in us. Just go to work."

                              Mayfield and several other veteran players said after the win over Ohio State that they credited the freshmen who have played a role early in the season with helping them maintain focus.

                              Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, tight end Grant Calcaterra, linebacker Kenneth Murray and safety Robert Barnes are among the signees from the 2017 class who have already made a big impact on the field.

                              "Even from the days they were coming on their official visits and they'd make sure to come together instead of spread it out -- they all came together at once," Mayfield said. "This team has a great group, team chemistry. But that group of freshmen is something special.

                              "They came here to do one thing. They put all their work in it. The older guys feed off that as well. It's not the younger guys feeding off us, we feel that energy and that excitement they bring to it."

                              --TE Mark Andrews is expected to play against Tulane after suffering a left knee injury against Ohio State that kept him out for the final three quarters.

                              --S Will Johnson is likely to miss the game after suffering an apparent head injury against the Buckeyes. Freshman Robert Barnes is likely to play in his place.


                              • All-America Watch: Penny cashes in; Oliver avoids soph slump
                                September 12, 2017

                                For many college football fans of a certain age, their introduction to The Associated Press All-America team came during Bob Hope's annual TV Christmas special.

                                We will pause now to allow younger fans to Google ''Bob Hope Christmas special.''

                                The AP has been honoring college football's best with an All-America team since 1925, and with the help of Hope introducing the first-team players on his show for years during the 1960s, `70s and `80s, it became the most recognized of the five teams used by the NCAA to determine a consensus All-America team for each season.

                                This season, the AP released a preseason All-America team and will also weigh-in with a midseason team before the full, three-team All-America selections are unveiled in December. Until then, our weekly watch begins this week:


                                Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State.

                                Penny had one of the quietest quality seasons in the country in 2016, running for more than 1,000 yards, with a 7.5-yard average per carry and 11 touchdowns. Playing behind NCAA career rushing leader and second-team AP All-America Donnel Pumphrey can do that to a running back. Penny is the man for the Aztecs now. In San Diego State's victory last Saturday against Arizona State, Penny ran for 216 yards and returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown .

                                What they are saying: ''You're seeing what we knew all along, that he's one of the best running backs in the country.'' - Aztecs coach Rocky Long after the Arizona State game.

                                Outlook: Penny leads the nation in all-purpose yards at 284 per game and will get a chance to take down another Pac-12 team on Saturday when No. 19 Stanford comes to San Diego.

                                WHO'S HOT?

                                Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville.

                                It certainly looked like the year of the quarterback last weekend, with high-profile stars from USC's Sam Darnold to Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield to UCLA's Josh Rosen all going off. But through two weeks of the season, it is still Jackson's world. The Heisman Trophy winner and All-American leads the nation in total offense at 505 yards per game heading into a showdown with No. 3 Clemson.

                                WHO'S NOT?

                                J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State.

                                Barrett is taking a lot of criticism after a poor performance against Oklahoma. The fifth-year senior has been one of the most productive players in Ohio State history, and the Buckeyes' offensive issues against high-end competition is not all on Barrett. But his limitations as a passer are not going away.

                                ON THE LINE

                                Identifying the top offensive linemen in college football is the most difficult part of putting together an All-America team. So we brought in an expert: Cole Cubelic played offensive line for Auburn from 1996-2001. He is currently a radio show host in Hunstville, Alabama, a sideline reporter for the SEC Network and a member of the committee that selects the winner of the Joe Moore Award, which goes to the nation's best offensive line unit. Cubelic will highlight an offensive lineman for All-America Watch each week and his choice this week:

                                Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame.

                                The Fighting Irish offense struggled against Georgia last Saturday, but don't blame Nelson.

                                ''He was as consistent as ever with movement at the point of attack and finding blocks in space,'' Cubelic said.

                                Nelson also made a blitz pickup that was the offensive lineman's version of a one-handed touchdown catch.

                                ''Nelson is as good as it gets nationally at guard,'' Cubelic said.

                                ISN'T THAT SPECIAL?

                                Utah has a tradition of good kickers and punters. That Salt Lake City altitude doesn't hurt. Matt Gay is trying to be the latest Utah specialist to make a run at All-American through the thin air.

                                Gay has made all seven of his field-goal attempts, including a 4-for-4 performance in Utah's 19-13 victory against BYU. Not bad for a former NAIA soccer player who made the team as a walk-on in preseason practice.


                                Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver made the All-America team as a freshman last season, and his first game of 2017 put him on the path to repeating that accomplishment as a sophomore. Oliver made 11 tackles, 1.5 behind the line, and forced a fumble as the Cougars limited Arizona to 152 yards rushing in a victory on Saturday.

                                ALL-AMERICA MATCHUP

                                Mississippi State LT Martinas Rankin vs. LSU OLB Arden Key.

                                Key, a preseason All-American, has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and missed the Tigers' first two games of the season. He was a force last year, setting a school record with 12 sacks. Rankins is a high-ceiling offensive lineman who has also played center and tackle.