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  #326  
Old 09-25-2017, 06:02 PM
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Injury list grows at UNC ahead of G-Tech
September 25, 2017


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina's injury list keeps growing.

Senior receiver Austin Proehl, senior defensive tackle Tyler Powell and redshirt freshman receiver Rontavius Groves were hurt during Saturday's loss to Duke.

Proehl had his left arm was in a sling on the sideline. Powell crumpled to the turf grabbing his right knee before being helped to the sideline. And Groves' right leg gave out as he turned for a pass in his college debut, prompting trainers to immediately put his knee in a brace and cart him away.

None appear on the depth chart for this weekend's trip to Georgia Tech.

Nine of 19 players on UNC's pre-Duke injury report are lost for the season. Asked Monday whether UNC has more season-ending injuries, coach Larry Fedora said: ''I don't know yet.''

************************

Hogs' WR Jared Cornelius out for season
September 25, 2017


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas wide receiver Jared Cornelius will undergo surgery following an injury to his left Achilles and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Cornelius was hurt early in the second half of the overtime loss to Texas A&M on Saturday. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema says a redshirt year is possible for the senior - as well as potentially entering the NFL draft.

Cornelius entered the season as Arkansas' top leading returning wide receiver, finishing with 32 catches for 515 yards a season ago. The 5-foot-11, 212-pound senior missed much of the preseason with a hamstring injury and was fully healthy for the first time this year during the game against the Aggies.

The Razorbacks (1-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) host New Mexico State (2-2) on Saturday.

*************************

Rutgers loses cornerback Austin for season with knee injury
September 25, 2017


PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers has lost top cornerback Blessuan Austin for the season with a knee injury.

Coach Chris Ash announced Monday that Austin tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the second half of Saturday's 27-16 loss in Nebraska.

Ash called the injury a blow for the Scarlet Knights (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten). The junior had started in each of his three seasons. He earned honorable mention in the conference's awards after last season.

Damon Hayes is expected to replace Austin in the lineup.

Ash says Hayes needs to improve and develop, but he's excited he'll have the opportunity to start.
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:10 PM
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Harbaugh: Hit on QB was 'egregious'
September 25, 2017


Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said starting quarterback Wilton Speight would not be available this week if the Wolverines had a game, adding that the hit that knocked him out last week was "egregious."

"If I had a stronger word to use, I would use it," Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference.

Speight sustained a head injury in the first quarter of a 28-10 win at Purdue on Saturday. Senior John O'Korn came in and completed 18 of 26 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown.

Speight was taken to a local hospital for tests during the game but did return to Ross-Ade Stadium. Harbaugh didn't express strong feelings after the game about the hit that knocked out Speight, saying he didn't see it, but then he reviewed the game.

"After having seen it now, I thought it was egregious," he said.

"With all the emphasis on protecting defenseless players, it appeared that the player knew what he was doing, targeted the head and neck area when the player was on the ground and accelerated into it. Surprised they had two officials standing back there that were both looking at it, plus a review in the press box, that that wasn't targeting, that that wasn't a personal foul."

No. 8 Michigan (4-0) is off this week before hosting Michigan State on Oct. 7. As for Speight's status for the rivalry game, Harbaugh said, "We'll assess it as we go."
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:12 PM
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IU gets 2nd chance to upset top 10 team
September 25, 2017


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana gets a second chance to knock off a top-10 opponent.

Are the Hoosiers (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) better prepared to do to No. 4 Penn State (4-0, 1-0) what they couldn't do against then-No. 2 Ohio State in the season opener?

Coach Tom Allen believes.

''Going into Ohio State and game one, there were a lot of things you think are a certain way, a certain impression you have, and now you know,'' Allen said. ''We had questions about some positions.''

One question was answered this past Saturday when freshman tailback Morgan Ellison rushed for 186 yards in a 52-17 victory over Georgia Southern. Ellison has a team-leading 257 rushing yards and averages 5.8 yards a carry.

''We thought Morgan was a good a player and he's proven he can be a very good running back at this level,'' Allen said. ''We are a much better team today because we have a better sense of who we are and what our strengths are. We know what to focus on. That gives you confidence.''

That confidence jumped with a win at Virginia, a team that is now 3-1 with a victory at Boise State, and then again by dominating Georgia Southern with a rushing attack that had been missing the first two games.

This Saturday's challenge at Penn State is much more formidable. Indiana is 0-9 at Beaver Stadium, and 1-19 against the Nittany Lions. The Hoosiers' only win came in 2013.

Allen said this is a tougher-minded Indiana team.

''I look at the way this team has prepared, focused and finished,'' he said. ''That wasn't always the case around here. That's a big step.''

The status is unknown for injured starters such as cornerbacks Rashard Fant and A'Shon Riggins and safety Marcelino Ball.

Notes: Ellison was named the Big Ten's freshman of the week. Returner J-Shun Harris won his second Big Ten special teams player of the week honors. Harris returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown against Georgia Southern. It was the second straight game he'd scored on a punt return. Only Rob Turner has done that in school history. Harris leads the Big Ten and ranks third nationally by averaging 26.1 yards per punt return.
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  #329  
Old 09-25-2017, 06:20 PM
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Washington WR McClatcher out with broken ankle
September 25, 2017


Washington junior wide receiver Chico McClatcher will miss the rest of the season because of a broken ankle, Huskies coach Chris Petersen said at his Monday press conference.

McClatcher is the team's second-leading receiver with 10 catches for 128 yards.

He suffered the injury in a 37-10 victory at Colorado on Saturday, when a defender rolled into McClatcher's left leg as he was blocking on a run play.

No. 6 Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) plays at Oregon State on Saturday.

"I just feel really bad, like we all do, for Chico," Petersen said. "That's hard for guys who are playing well and work so hard ... but that's part of football.

"Nobody feels sorry for us, at all, outside of this building. Everybody else is throwing a party when they see Chico is not going to be out there. So the next guy better step up and that is going to come from multiple guys."

McClatcher, a 5-foot-7 slot receiver who never redshirted, has played in three games this season and would fit the criteria for receiving a medical redshirt for 2017, restoring his year of eligibility.

He caught 34 passes for 574 yards and five touchdowns last season.

***********************

Ozigbo's breakout game puts him back in RB mix for Huskers
September 25, 2017


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Devine Ozigbo's re-emergence at running back has prompted Nebraska to re-think its ground game.

The Cornhuskers entered the season planning to have one back get most of the carries, and Tre Bryant had consecutive 100-yard games before injuring his knee and missing the last two games.

Ozigbo ran a career-high 24 times for 101 yards as the backup to Mikale Wilbon in the 27-17 win over Rutgers on Saturday. Coach Mike Riley said Monday if Bryant can't play Friday night at Illinois, Wilbon will be the starter again and share equal playing time with Ozigbo and freshman Jaylin Bradley.

Ozigbo came out of preseason practice No. 3 on the depth chart behind Bryant and Wilbon even though he was the most experienced back. The junior from Sachse, Texas, didn't appear in the first two games and carried just twice against Northern Illinois.

He broke out against Rutgers, gaining 86 of his 101 yards in the second half as the Huskers pounded away at a tiring defense. Afterward, Ozigbo campaigned for the by-committee approach.

''We definitely have the guys in the room who are all worthy of playing, so I feel like to keep them from playing would be a detriment to the team instead of helping it,'' he said.

The 6-foot, 230-pound Ozigbo carried on 14 of Nebraska's 17 plays after it took a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

''He has got to be tough to tackle. I'm glad I don't have to,'' quarterback Tanner Lee said. ''He is just so consistent, just a bruising back and it's huge to have that on your team, especially in games where you can kind of milk the clock a little bit and just give the ball to him and pick up first downs and get the tough yards.''

Ozigbo, who ran for 412 yards and five touchdowns in 2016 and for 209 yards and a TD as a freshman, appeared to be a top contender to be the starter after the departure of Terrell Newby. It was difficult for Ozigbo to accept not winning the job, and he was confused when he didn't get on the field the first two games.

''I know I wear my emotion on my face,'' he said. ''It didn't really hurt my practice or my play, but you could just tell I wasn't in a good headspace. But, talking to my teammates, talking to my family back home, to my friends back home, it definitely got me right.''

Riley said he had told Ozigbo a couple weeks ago that he would get an opportunity and that he needed to be ready for it.

''I was really proud of him for how he approached it because, like I told the team yesterday, he played like he's been practicing,'' Riley said. ''We've seen those situations where a guy gets disappointed and he focuses on the disappointment. If it was my own kid, I would call it pouting. But he never did that. He practiced hard, prepared himself and he played a good football game the other day.''

***************************

Lopsided loss to Georgia humbles No. 24 Mississippi State
September 25, 2017


STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State's last two games have produced dramatically different results.

Now the program gets its third opportunity in three weeks to knock off a nationally ranked team to prove whether it's among the Southeastern Conference's best.

The Bulldogs looked nearly unstoppable in a dominant 37-7 win over LSU less than two weeks ago , spawning chatter among fans and analysts that they might be the second-best team in the SEC. But the success was short lived - they couldn't do anything right in a sobering 31-3 loss to Georgia last weekend .

No. 24 Mississippi State (3-1, 1-1 SEC) is preparing for another difficult challenge when it travels to face No. 13 Auburn (3-1, 1-0) on Saturday. The Tigers are coming off an impressive 51-14 win over Missouri last weekend.

For Mississippi State, the LSU and Georgia games are proof that a wide variety of outcomes are possible.

''If we play really, really well, we've got a great chance to win,'' Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. ''If we play poorly, we've got a great chance to lose. That's kind of the message to the guys - it's not a panic.''

Mississippi State's offense sputtered against Georgia, especially in the passing game. Nick Fitzgerald completed just 14 of 29 passes for 83 yards and two interceptions.

The Bulldogs aren't a team that needs big passing numbers to win games, but the complete lack of a vertical passing game made the offense one-dimensional and ineffective.

In the LSU win, Fitzgerald completed 15 of 23 passes for 180 yards, including two touchdown passes that went for 45 and 20 yards. That was enough passing production to open up space for a running game that earned 285 yards.

Fitzgerald said the LSU game is a blueprint for future success.

''We didn't have to get huge chunks at a time, we were consistently moving the ball five or 10 yards,'' Fitzgerald said.

Mississippi State has a pretty good idea of its on-field formula for success. Now the Bulldogs are trying to deal with the mental whiplash from the past two weeks.

Mullen said it's important for his team to establish some equilibrium and understand that things are never as good or bad as they seem after a big win or loss.

''You're somewhere in the middle and you're honestly just trying to improve and get better from week to week,'' Mullen said. ''You're really as good as your last play or going to be as good as your next play.''

Fitzgerald said the team didn't have a great week of practice before the Georgia game and needs to get back to its demeanor before the LSU game, when the team was hungry and feeling disrespected after being picked to finish near the bottom of the league.

''Maybe we thought we were a little bit better than we were,'' Fitzgerald said. ''Maybe we got lackadaisical at times. I felt we weren't really mentally locked in at practice. That's going to change.''
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:23 PM
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No. 16 Okla. St. not panicking, getting ready for next game
September 25, 2017


STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Following a disappointing loss that dealt a serious blow to its Big 12 Championship dreams, not to mention the possibility of landing in the College Football Playoff, No. 15 Oklahoma State is not going to panic or make sweeping changes.

Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) plummeted from No. 6 in the rankings after falling 44-31 at home last Saturday to TCU, which moved up to No. 9. The Cowboys are trying to keep their emotions in check as they prepare for their next game, this Saturday at Texas Tech (3-0, 0-0).

''The outside world takes wins and losses different than we do,'' OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday. ''We try to stay level-headed, even with the wins. People outside of the program celebrate the wins and go crazy, but we know, in our world, we have a body of work that we have to get accomplished every week. I hope that our guys understand that from the history of this program, and I think they do.''

Gundy said he will be looking to ensure his players are engaged and determined in practice throughout the week as they prepare for Texas Tech, which is coming off a 27-24 road win over Houston.

''(I look at) their intensity and focus in practice, which last week was excellent,'' Gundy said. ''So I don't know if I'm looking for the right tools. But last week, their focus in practice was awesome. That's the thing that we can hang our hat on. The only thing we can ever ask is preparation and focus, avoid distractions. Before the Pitt game (a 59-21 victory on the road Sept. 16), we had a ton of distractions. Before last week, we didn't have any distractions.''

Gundy also addressed some of the issues that contributed to the defeat, such as four turnovers (two in the fourth quarter), allowing TCU to convert 10 of 14 third downs through the first three quarters and losing the time of possession battle, 39:04 to 20:56.

He was also disappointed that the Cowboys gained just 101 yards rushing, especially when TCU's defense was deliberately keeping its safeties deep to protect against the pass. He did note that ''we were just a step away five or six times from a 5-yard run being a 15- or 20-yard run.''

Oklahoma State's third-down defense is ranked 112th in the nation out of 130 teams after four games.

''It was something different each play, and we have to continue to work at it,'' Gundy said. ''Those are key downs that you've got to get off the field, because time of possession here doesn't mean much in our (high-tempo) offense, but the first three-and-out we had on defense was in the fourth quarter. We let them extend on third-and-medium and third-and-longs, which are generally 33 percent or less - we let them extend multiple times. And we didn't run the ball as effectively this time, so when you tie all that up, we were crushed in the time of possession.''

Ultimately, Gundy said his team will make a few adjustments, but no wholesale, dramatic changes.

''You lose a game that you feel like you could have won if you'd played better, but certainly, we didn't give them the game,'' Gundy said. ''We made mistakes, but they played well enough to win. So you don't sell the farm and change what you're doing, like a lot of people would like. You make minor corrections that are actually feasible to manage within a two- or three-day period to get ready to play again. And we played some young players. We try to coach them up and try to get them ready to go play again. That's really what you do. You don't have any other options in that scenario.

''Some of it was self-inflicted. TCU was a big factor in some of it, and sometimes we couldn't get the dang ball to bounce where we wanted it to.''

******************************

Brohm hoping Boilermakers learn lesson after Michigan loss
September 25, 2017


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Jeff Brohm expects the Purdue Boilermakers to be confident, play well and win.

The first-year coach also needs his players to understand it's not a good idea to speak that way in public. If they didn't understand that lesson before losing Saturday's Big Ten opener to No. 8 Michigan, he's making it perfectly clear now.

''We were a little too confident after a good SEC win on the road,'' Brohm said after the 28-10 loss. ''We have to earn our stripes. The Big Ten schedule is not going to get any easier.''

Brohm was alluding to last week's bold prediction by receiver Gregory Phillips, who told ESPN.com that people would be surprised when Purdue pulled the upset. Had Phillips stopped there, perhaps Brohm could have chalked it up to an overly exuberant guy in a re-energized program who is eager to prove to the rest of the world that the Boilermakers, finally, are back.

Instead, Phillips continued.

''I wish we played Ohio State too, because nobody can stop us right now except ourselves,'' he said. ''If we don't beat Purdue and turn the ball over, we win every game.''

The Buckeyes are not on Purdue's schedule this season and Phillips' comments came three days after Brohm told reporters he wasn't sure how the Boilermakers (2-2, 0-1) could score a point against Michigan's stingy defense.

In fact, the Boilermakers were shut out in a dismal second half when they produced just 10 yards in offense.

With a bye week up next, Brohm has some pressing matters to deal with. First, he must sort out the quarterback situation before facing Minnesota on Oct. 7.

Elijah Sindelar and David Blough have played a roughly equal amount of snaps through the first third of the season, but Blough left Saturday's game after re-injuring his throwing shoulder. It's unclear how much time - if any - he'll miss.

The Boilermakers also will be without two key defensive starters, safety Jacob Thieneman and linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, for the first half of next week's game after both were ejected on targeting calls last weekend.

So from that standpoint, the timing of the bye couldn't be better.

But it's a good bet Brohm will use the extra time to reinforce his principles on speaking out.

''We need to keep our mouths shut and just play football,'' Brohm said. ''I want us to be confident and I want that. I think we need to tone it down a little bit.''
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:26 PM
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Florida State looking to get back on track after 0-2 start
September 25, 2017


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) The road doesn't get any easier for Florida State after its worst start in 28 years.

The 0-2 Seminoles' next four games are against teams with a combined record of 13-1. That stretch starts on Saturday on the road against Wake Forest (4-0). Coach Jimbo Fisher is hoping that history can repeat itself: The last time the Seminoles got off to an 0-2 start, they didn't lose again and finished 10-2 in 1989.

Fisher, whose team is unranked for the first time since 2011, said during his Monday news conference that he still likes the makeup of his team. His players, though, were more direct in assessing the upcoming task at hand.

''We need to make a statement in order to show everyone that we're not just some scrub team,'' guard Cole Minshew said.

The Seminoles' recent struggles have garnered more attention after last Saturday's 27-21 loss to North Carolina State. Since winning 33 of 34 games from 2013 to 2015, Florida State is 14-8 in its last 22 - with two of those wins against Football Championship Subdivision schools - and 7-6 in Atlantic Coast Conference games.

''I don't think it's anything that Jimbo has done differently,'' Minshew said. ''It's us as players, maybe we're not executing as those other guys were or we don't take to coaching as well or something. I don't know.''

If the Seminoles are going to bounce back, they need to quickly make adjustments on both sides of the ball. The offense has scored only two touchdowns and has struggled in the red zone.

Fisher was happy with freshman quarterback James Blackman's first start (22 of 39 for 279 yards and a TD).

''He did some things I was really, really happy with,'' Fisher said. ''He did a lot of little detail things, was accurate, and gave us a chance to be successful in the game.''

The passing game could face a new challenge with wide receiver Auden Tate questionable this week. Tate injured his shoulder in the second half of last Saturday's game. The running game has also not been able to get in sync as the Seminoles have played mostly from behind.

Defensively, the Seminoles haven't been able to generate much of a pass rush, with only three sacks in two games. They also couldn't get off the field against N.C. State as the Wolfpack was 5 of 12 on third-down conversions.

''I think we've got to get started faster on defense a little bit better,'' Fisher said. ''Hopefully, we can shut guys down and not get behind in that area (third downs).''

FSU has been challenged the past two times against the Demon Deacons. Two years ago, it needed a late interception to hold on for a 24-16 victory. Last season, the Seminoles won 17-6 in a game in which both defenses played well.

FSU's next three games after Wake are against No. 14 Miami (2-0) on Oct. 7, at Duke (4-0) on Oct. 14 and hosting No. 17 Louisville (3-1) on Oct. 21.

''It's seemed like the last couple years we've started off slow, and we just hit our groove by midseason and played lights out,'' Minshew said. ''I think everyone needs to figure out that one thing that separates us from other teams toward the end of the season.''

**************************

No. 10 Wisconsin rested after bye, focused on Northwestern
September 25, 2017


MADISON, Wis. (AP) No. 10 Wisconsin is back from a bye week, rested after a nonconference schedule that provided few tests, especially on defense.

That should change with the Big Ten opener this weekend against Northwestern.

''We got a lot out of the bye, what we wanted to get out of the bye week. The kids are excited to get going this week,'' coach Paul Chryst said on Monday.

Wisconsin (3-0) outscored its opponents 130-30 through its first three games. The average margin of victory of 33.3 points is the best by a Power Five team so far this season, ahead of Washington (32.8), Penn State (32.3) and Alabama (31.3).

Wisconsin also ranks in a tie for fourth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 10.0 points per game and has yet to allow a point in the second half of a game this season.

''We do a good job of cleaning things up at halftime and everyone settling down, and we move forward from there,'' linebacker T.J. Edwards said.

The Badgers have also limited big plays, having allowed just seven plays of 20-plus yards, which is tied for the fifth-fewest in the FBS.

Safety D'Cota Dixon said those statistics won't matter much heading into Big Ten play.

''We haven't played our best game yet and we know it,'' he said. ''We'll see if we can execute going into the Big Ten. It will be a good test for us.''

That begins with Northwestern, which has proven to be a formidable foe for the Badgers. The Wildcats have won six of the last 11 games and two of the last three between the teams.

''They're tough and they're physical. They try to match our intensity and physicality. They'll come out and hit you. They're not afraid,'' senior tight end Troy Fumagalli said. ''They always play us tough.''

Wisconsin prevailed 21-7 in Evanston last year, but Northwestern escaped with a 13-7 victory in their last appearance at Camp Randall Stadium two years ago.

Edwards said the familiarity of conference opponents, though, does make preparation easier compared to non-conference play.

''It's nice to be able to go back and look at the past couple of years' film, especially if a team uses the same type of scheme,'' said Edwards, who has a team-high two interceptions.

''But you have to bring more physicality to practice because it's Big Ten football. Teams are going to be more physical, and we have to match it.''

NOTES: DE Chikwe Obasih (left leg), a key member of the defensive line rotation, will miss a third straight game. Starting OG Jon Dietzen (right leg) is also listed as questionable on the injury report.
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:28 PM
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Clemson prepares for next test, V-Tech
September 25, 2017


CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) The tests just keep coming for No. 2 Clemson. The Tigers will face its third top-15 opponent in four weeks when it heads to 12th-ranked Virginia Tech this weekend.

The Tigers (2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are off to their third straight 4-0 start and are brimming with confidence after defeating Boston College 34-7. Next up are the Hokies (4-0), who open their league season attempting to end a four game losing streak against the Tigers.

''I definitely think our best football is in front of us,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. ''Especially if we'll keep bringing the right mindset and just learning from mistakes.''

They made plenty of them the first three quarters against Boston College as Kelly Bryant threw two interceptions and the Eagles kept the Tigers pinned deep in their territory in a game that was tied at seven entering the final period. But Clemson took control in the fourth quarter with four rushing touchdowns .

Swinney said there were several things to improve on offense, a task that he expects his players to quickly lock into given the stakes of Saturday night's game.

''It presents a challenge,'' said Adam Choice, a junior tailback who's scored touchdowns in the past two games. ''It seems in my mind, it tests us mentally to see if we can stick together. We pride ourselves in staying calm and cool and not getting frustrated. If we can figure that out and stick to our game plan, I know we'll have a chance.''

Clemson's excelled in its early prime-time showdowns, holding then No. 13 Auburn to two field goals in a 14-6 victory on Sept. 9. Clemson followed that up the next week with its 47-21 dismantling of then No. 14 Louisville and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

Clemson safety Tanner Muse said the team is accustomed to the spotlight after playing the national title game the past two seasons.

''Being in these big games, it's what we come here for,'' he said. ''You enjoy them. You don't take anything for granted and come with the same mentality as any week's game.''

Clemson has had much experience playing and excelling in big moments. It started in earnest under Swinney in 2011 when the Tigers topped defending national champ Auburn, defending ACC Atlantic Division champion Florida State and league champ Virginia Tech in three straight weeks.

The Tigers have gone 20-9 against ranked opponents the past seven seasons - and an eye-popping 12-1 in their last 13. The lone loss was the 45-40 defeat to Alabama in the national title game two seasons ago.

''We knew when the schedule came out this was going to be a challenging start,'' Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. ''I think we're in a good position.''

Clemson has somewhat switched its offensive identity behind first-year starter in quarterback Kelly Bryant. Instead of dazzling opponents through the air, the Tigers are grinding them down on the ground. They've gained 297 yards or more in three of their four games so far and have scored 17 of 20 touchdowns on the ground.

No matter what Clemson has done on offense, it's rock-solid defense - third nationally in overall and scoring defense - has kept opponents in check. Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente knows the Hokies will have their hands full attempting to keep Clemson out of its backfield.

''It's not a read and react situation,'' Fuente said. ''It's a pin your ears back and try to create havoc.''

Bryant believes Clemson's winning experience against ranked opponents, both this season and over the past few years, serves them well in preparation and attitude.

''We know what we have to do and we're ready to do it,'' he said.
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Old 09-25-2017, 10:56 PM
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Opening Line Report - Week 5
September 25, 2017


A pair of unbeaten Pac-12 teams meet Friday night at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington as USC visits Washington State (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Trojans opened -5.5 on Sunday at the Wynn Las Vegas, a number that drew immediate action on the home underdog. By Monday, the Wynn was dealing USC -4, and other shops, including the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and CG Technology, hung -3.5 as their original numbers.

Westgate oddsmaker Ed Salmons understands the early move on the Cougars, a team he was high on coming into the season.

“This game seems to be set up for Washington State,” Salmons said. “For USC, it’s back-to-back road games (the Trojans won at Cal on Saturday, 30-20), and it’s a short week, and USC is very banged up on the defensive side of the ball. It’s a game Washington State has to win, and I’d be shocked if they didn’t win.

“It’s really a good spot (for Washington State), and they’re a solid team and USC was really fortunate last week and they were really fortunate against Texas (in a 27-24 win two weeks ago).”

Jason Simbal, vice president of risk at CG Technology, agrees USC hasn’t been all that impressive, but victories over Western Michigan, Stanford, Texas and Cal make for a solid early-season resume.

“Every team that they’ve faced is probably going to a bowl game,” Simbal said.

He added that while the wiseguys are on Washington State early, the public will come late with money on the chalk.

”I think we’ll still see the majority of the action on USC in this game, because considering the proximities, they’re kind of the hometown college team here,” Simbal said. ‘We’ll probably need the underdog in this one.”

Here’s a quick look at three key Saturday games:

Georgia (-7.5) at Tennessee - (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET)


The Wynn opened Georgia -6.5, a price gamblers found to their liking, as the book adjusted to -8 in one flash in a matter of minutes. On Monday, 24 hours after the Wynn posted Vegas’ first college football lines, there was an even mix of 7.5s and 8s being dealt around town.

The road team laying more touchdown in this SEC rivalry game feels like a tall order, as five straight games in this series have been decided by one score.

Salmons’ personal ratings make Georgia, which is coming off a 31-3 whitewashing of Mississippi State, a touchdown favorite in this spot.

“Tennessee struggled to beat a crappy UMass team, but you don’t know if they were looking ahead or whatever,” he said. “I’m not quite understanding Tennessee anymore. Go back to that Georgia Tech game (a 42-41 win in overtime by the Vols in Week 1). Georgia Tech really deserved to win that game. They were winning the whole way and Tennessee wound up coming back at the end. Tennessee was fortunate against Florida to come back (two weeks ago). They were down a bunch of points and came back before they gave up the Hail Mary at the end.”

Both Salmons and Simbal believe the public will back Georgia on the road this week.

“I imagine Tennessee is going to be one of the bigger decisions for us based on the way Georgia has looked,” Simbal said.

“I think 7’s a solid number,” Salmons said, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if the public bet it up.”

Mississippi State at Auburn (-9.5) - (ESPN, 6:00 p.m. ET)


For the third straight week, Mississippi State is priced as a substantial underdog against a conference opponent. And their Jekyll-and-Hyde act over the past two weeks doesn’t give bettors much help in deciding whether to take those points or lay them. The Bulldogs followed their 37-7 win at LSU two weeks ago with the aforementioned dud in Athens.

Early sharp money, though, did back Miss State at the Wynn’s opening line of +10.5, as the spread sits at 9.5 across town Monday night.

Miss State was the rare underdog backed by casual bettors on Saturday, according to Simbal, which helped Vegas books to their hugely profitable weekend that we’re sure you’ve heard about by now.

“This weekend was such a good one that even the favorites that covered were the favorites we needed, and the biggest example of that was Georgia because everybody was in love with Mississippi State coming off the big LSU game,” Simbal said.

As for Auburn, Miss State provides the Tigers’ biggest test since their 14-6 loss to Clemson in Week 2.

“It will be interesting to see how Auburn does against the first real team they’ve played since the Clemson loss, when they weren’t able to do anything on offense,” said Simbal. “The one thing you can gather is their defense is legit because Clemson’s been able to go up and down the field against pretty much everybody except them.”

Still, Simbal said, “I’m not sold on Auburn, but you know what you get with Mississippi State, which is a steady team, and as long as they don’t have any turnovers, they’re at least going to hang around. I would lean toward the underdog in this one, but thankfully, I don’t have to bet to make money.”

Clemson (-7) at Virginia Tech - (ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET)


Clemson was bet from -6.5 to as high as -8 at the Wynn, but the line settled back to -7.5 at that joint and to -7 at most others.

CG opened -7.5, the high end of the market, but didn’t draw any wiseguy money with that number.

“It hasn’t come yet,” Simbal said when we spoke Monday evening, about five hours after his book opened wagering. “You figure with a lot of 7s out there and a few 7.5s, if the sharper players wanted to take 7.5, they’d do it. So it tells us one of two things: Either Virginia Tech is not the side, but more so, they think this number is going to go only one way, so why take it at 7.5 when they can take it later at 8.”

Salmons, meanwhile, agreed with the notion that a road game at Virginia Tech may be Clemson’s stiffest test of the season so far and said that if he was on our side of the counter, he’d be leaning toward the dog.

“At 7, I’d bet Virginia Tech. I’d definitely take 7,” Salmons said. “I was thinking this game would be anywhere between 3.5 and 6.5. …

“Virginia Tech has a young quarterback, but so does Clemson. Everything went right for Clemson against Louisville. I give Virginia Tech a good chance in this game. I think they’ll keep it close and have a shot to win.”

Who the sharps are on early

According to Simbal, early sharp money at CG came in on:

Navy -5 vs. Tulsa, moving the line to -6…

East Carolina +24 vs. South Florida, with a move to 23.5…

Akron -3 vs. Bowling Green, prompting an adjustment to -3 (-120)…

Kentucky -13.5 and -14 vs. East Michigan, the line moving north to -14.5...
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Gaskin re-emerges as weapon for No. 6 Washington
September 25, 2017


Myles Gaskin was often an afterthought while the Washington running attack was practically invisible through the first three games of the season.

But toss in a career-best rushing performance in Game 4, and Gaskin and the Huskies' ground game looks significantly better entering Saturday's game at Oregon State (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12).

Gaskin rushed for a career-best 202 yards in last Saturday's 37-10 victory over Colorado. The junior entered with just 153 yards in three games.

"Myles always gets better the more you give him the ball," Washington coach Chris Petersen said. "He'll get into a rhythm if you can give him a little bit of space. I think we took a step forward in the run game."

Call it multiple steps now that the reliable Gaskin was able to get into the flow.

Gaskin topped 1,300 rushing yards in each of his first two college seasons. But the No. 6 Huskies (4-0, 1-0) only gave him 24 carries over the first three games.

He received 27 attempts in less than ideal conditions against the Buffaloes and suddenly looked like the highly productive back of the past two seasons.

"The guys up front we're doing their job, they were making it easy for me," Gaskin said of an offensive line that enjoyed its best overall game of the season. "The rain and everything kind of factored in so we were sticking to the run and it worked out how it did."

Going from the sparse workload to a bell-cow level certainly was fine with Gaskin, but it also spurred questions for why the drop in usage.

Petersen insists there was no plan in place to keep Gaskin leashed up until the start of Pac-12 play.

"No, I don't think we were that specific. I mean, we are trying to come out, and we always want to run the ball," Petersen said.

"We are disappointed from Game 1 if it doesn't look like we want it to. It is not like some, 'OK, get him ready for the league.' We come out trying to do the best we can from the very start. But we do know it takes a minute. It's not ready made."

Washington did receive a dose of bad news in the win over Colorado -- junior receiver Chico McClatcher broke his left ankle and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

--QB Jake Browning has passed for 958 yards and nine touchdowns against two interceptions but experienced his second straight subpar performance against Colorado, including last season's Pac-12 title game. The junior completed just 11 of 21 attempts for 160 yards and one touchdown but did avoid key mistakes. Browning's completion percentage dipped to 69.7 percent, which ranks 14th nationally, but he could be in line for a nice rebound against an Oregon State team that has already allowed 12 passing touchdowns.

--CB Jordan Miller is coming off a solid effort against Colorado in which he recorded his first two interceptions of the season. The junior will be counted on even more moving forward with redshirt freshman Byron Murphy out with a broken foot. "He's an athletic guy. He's another guy that's kind of been lurking in the shadows so to speak," coach Chris Petersen said. "I think we saw that he could do some really good things out there at a really tough position on the island."

--DT Vita Vea displayed his rare form of athleticism by blocking a punt against Colorado in addition to his typical style of tying up blockers in the trenches. "Thought Vita Vea was playing at a really, really high level," coach Chris Petersen said. "Not only on special teams but on defense." The 6-foot-5, 340-pound junior has 13 tackles and one sack this season with room to elevate his performance.

*****************************

Utah QB Huntley injured, senior backup Williams stayed ready
September 25, 2017


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) It's not clear when Utah will get starting quarterback Tyler Huntley back, but the Utes have a more than capable backup.

Huntley left the field in the second quarter of last Friday's 30-24 win over Arizona and later returned with his right arm in a sling. Coach Kyle Whittingham said no season-ending injuries were suffered in the game but declined to provide more details. Utah typically does not disclose injuries unless they end a player's season.

The Utes are on a bye week. They host Stanford on Oct. 7.

''We're going to be optimistic and hope everybody's ready in two weeks,'' Whittingham said. ''Maybe that's wishful thinking, but we'll have to see what happens.''

Senior captain Troy Williams replaced Huntley and threw for 131 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Williams started all 13 games in 2016 but lost the job to Huntley during preseason camp. Whittingham doesn't anticipate any significant changes in the new spread offense run by first-year coordinator Troy Taylor if Williams has to play more.

''We tweak a little bit, there's not a wholesale change,'' Whittingham said. ''(Williams is) a very capable runner. He's good in the pocket. Troy Taylor will tailor the game plan to fit his specific skill set. There's not a great deal of difference of things that we need to change or do. Troy is fully capable of running this offense just as is.''

Both Whittingham and Williams said there wasn't any need for the team to rally around the quarterback when he entered the game. Williams has continued his routine of being one of the last players on the practice field long after the session has ended. That's what he did as a starter, and he wanted to do the same despite losing the job.

''That just made me realize that I had to work even harder,'' Williams said. ''Whatever I did, I had to multiply it by three, by four. Whatever it was I was doing, I put extra on it and made sure when my number is called, I had to be ready.

''I didn't want to be that guy that, I didn't get the spot, so now I'm not doing extra things to make myself better. I didn't want to be that guy that guys look over and say he's pouting.''

The decision to go with the sophomore Huntley over Williams was a surprise at the time. Williams won nine games as a starter last season. He was voted a captain again this year before he lost the starting job.

Huntley quickly took control, leading the team to a perfect start. He has accounted for 66 percent of the Utes' total offense. His 293.5 yards of total offense per game ranks No. 27 in the nation, and his 73.3 completion percentage ranks No. 7. He's the first Utah quarterback to record back-to-back 300-yard passing games since Brian Johnson in 2008.

There was some worry that Huntley would be vulnerable to injury since he's a bit slight (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) and is the team's second leading rusher. He was injured on a passing play.

Williams said his family and his faith helped keep him in the right frame of mind. He knew all eyes were on him as a team captain and wanted to continue to set an example for others.

''You've got to understand it's a business, even in college,'' running back Zack Moss said. ''He's a great role model of how to continue to work hard even when things aren't going your way. Sometimes you've got to keep working.

''It would have been easy for him to just say, `I lost the job,' and take a seat back and let things happen. But he kept fighting.''

NOTES: Running back Armand Shyne will redshirt, Whittingham said. The junior was in the mix to start before suffering a lower arm injury during camp. Whittingham said there won't be enough time left in the season by the time Shyne is healthy to warrant using a year of eligibility. ... Starting defensive end Kylie Fitts left the Arizona game with an injury and returned to the sideline on crutches. He is tied for the team lead with two sacks. Whittingham did not detail Fitts' injury either.

**************************

Winless 'Noles look to bounce back at 4-0 Wake Forest
September 25, 2017


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Here's a sentence Florida State fans didn't think they'd hear: 4-0 Wake Forest will host an 0-2 Seminoles team that's still looking for its first win of the season.

Unusual, to say the least.

Florida State, which started with a preseason No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press poll, has come crashing down in the matter of two games.

A season-opening 24-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta -- and then last Saturday's stunning 27-21 defeat to visiting North Carolina State -- quickly changed the mind of poll voters. Florida State dropped from No. 12 last week to unranked, ending a streak of Top 25 appearances that had stretched for 89 weeks and was second in the nation behind the Crimson Tide.

The Seminoles (0-2, 0-1 ACC) did lose two weeks of games due to Hurricane Irma. But when head coach Jimbo Fisher open his press conference Monday to discuss the rough start, he wasn't about to use that as an excuse.

"After looking at the film at the N.C. State game, again, credit to N.C. State. They have a very good football team, did a great job," Fisher said.

"There's some areas that we'll get our guys in and coach them up better ... and that's on us as coaches. And that's me as a head coach to make sure that gets done."

The Seminoles are averaging 14 points, 75 yards rushing and 316 yards of total offense through two games.

Those numbers are very un-Florida State-like, and the Seminoles don't have a lot of time in between games to fix the issues.

Due to Hurricane Irma -- and the Seminoles having to move their Sept. 16 game against Miami to their open date Oct. 7 -- last Saturday against N.C. State marked the first of nine straight games for Florida State. And it may even be 10.

On Monday, ESPN.com reported that the Seminoles are in talks with Week 2 opponent Louisiana-Monroe to reschedule their Sept. 9 game that was canceled due to the storm. The only possible date that could happen would be following the Seminoles' final regular-season game of the year Nov. 25 against Florida. The game would be made up for bowl eligibility purposes, Seminoles associate athletic director Rob Wilson said.

Florida State receiver George Campbell said it doesn't matter how many games the Seminoles have to play in a row, the needed corrections are not only doable on the fly, but easier than most might think.

"It's about execution. Nothing crazy," said Campbell, who had a solid game in the loss to the Wolfpack with three catches for 85 yards.

"We beat ourselves. It's about execution on special teams and making sure we step up and make the plays. We have to make sure we block the right person and make the right reads. There's nothing special to it. Just making sure that we execute everything."

That execution may have to come this weekend without two of Florida State's best players.

Linebacker Matthew Thomas, last year's leading tackler and also the leading tackler in Week 1 against Alabama, left the game before halftime against N.C. State with a lower back injury and did not return. Later in the game, leading receiver Auden Tate injured his left shoulder on the Seminoles' first drive of the second half and did not return.

Fisher said Monday that neither player suffered a season-ending injury; their status was officially "day to day."

The Seminoles will also be without starting linebacker Jacob Pugh for the first half because of a targeting penalty in the second half against N.C. State.

There is one bright spot, though, about the 0-2 start. The last time this happened was 1989. That year, the Seminoles won 10 in a row and finished 10-2, defeating Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl and finishing No. 3 in the final AP poll.
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