College Football News

Report: Texas A&M QB Max Johnson has broken hand

Report: Texas A&M QB Max Johnson has broken hand

Texas A&M starting quarterback Max Johnson has a broken bone in his throwing hand and could miss the rest of the season, ESPN reported Thursday.

Johnson sustained the injury in last week's loss to Mississippi State.

Johnson took over as the starter from Haynes King on Sept. 17 against Miami. King replaced Johnson last week and could replace Johnson moving forward. Freshman Conner Weigman is also in the mix.

Johnson completed 19 of 26 passes for 203 yards against the Bulldogs before leaving in the fourth quarter. He also lost a fumble. King went 6 of 13 for 49 yards and two interceptions the rest of the way.

A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday that Johnson "banged his hand."

Johnson, the son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson, transferred from LSU following the 2021 season. He has thrown for 517 yards and three touchdowns in three games this season.

The Aggies (3-2, 1-1 SEC) visit No. 1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0) in prime time Saturday night.

Reports: Texas QB Quinn Ewers to play vs. Oklahoma

Reports: Texas QB Quinn Ewers to play vs. Oklahoma

Quarterback Quinn Ewers is set to return from injury to start against Oklahoma on Saturday in the annual Red River Shootout affair, ESPN reported Thursday.

Ewers has been a full participant in practice all week with no limitations, per the report.

Ewers has missed the past month with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, sustained in the loss to No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 10.

He sustained a sprained SC joint (sternoclavicular) in his non-throwing shoulder when he was hit by Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner, who was flagged for roughing the passer.

Ewers was 9 of 12 passing for 134 yards against Alabama before exiting in the first quarter. He has completed 25 of 36 passes for 359 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in two games.

Hudson Card filled in as the starter at QB. Ewers has dressed for every game since the injury and been on the sideline.

Ewers, who transferred to Texas after one semester (and no games) at Ohio State, was the top quarterback recruit in the country in 2022 before reclassifying to the 2021 class.

The Longhorns (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) and Sooners (3-2, 0-2) will tangle in Dallas.

Tulsa, after consecutive losses, aims to bounce back at Navy

Tulsa, after consecutive losses, aims to bounce back at Navy

Tulsa will try to avoid a third straight defeat when it meets Navy in an American Athletic Conference matchup on Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

Tulsa (2-3, 0-1 AAC) fell 31-21 at home to Cincinnati in its conference opener last week, one game after taking a 35-27 loss at then-No. 16 Ole Miss. Cincinnati is now back in the AP poll at No. 24 while undefeated Ole Miss has soared to No. 9.

The Golden Hurricane managed just 36 rushing yards on 45 carries against Cincinnati. Tulsa quarterbacks Davis Brin and Braylon Braxton lost a combined 72 yards as the Bearcats racked up 11 sacks.

One bright spot for Tulsa was the season debut of Deneric Prince, who missed September due to an undisclosed injury. Prince rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns on 18 attempts.

"First game back, so (he's) got to knock a little rust off, but it was obviously good to have him back and I think his presence is gonna help us tremendously throughout the rest of the year as long as we continue to keep growing," Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said.

Brin, a senior, played through an undisclosed injury to complete 18 of 36 passes for 237 yards with two interceptions. Montgomery said Brin remains day-to-day, adding the QB was "not any worse for wear" than last week.

Navy (1-3, 1-1) couldn't build on the success of a 23-20, double-overtime win over East Carolina on Sept. 24. The Midshipmen lost 13-10 at Air Force last Saturday and are ranked 129th of 131 teams in scoring offense (13.3 points per game).

"What I told our guys is we're not far off," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "We've got some resilient kids, and we're looking forward to bouncing back against Tulsa."

In a rarity for the service academy, Navy gained more yards through the air (129) than on the ground (114) last week. Quarterback Tai Lavatai has gone 26-for-50 passing through four games after attempting 61 passes last season. He already has thrown for 515 yards, eclipsing last year's total of 449.

"I don't see us throwing the ball 35 times or stuff like that, but we've definitely got to take advantage of his arm," Niumatalolo said. "Maybe if there's one bright spot, the pass protection's been decent for us. (But) we don't want to make a living off throwing the ball a ton. That's not who we are."

Navy leads the all-time series 7-2, including a 20-17 win last year at Tulsa. Both of the Golden Hurricanes' victories came in Annapolis.

Bret Bielema, Illinois face Iowa in old-fashioned Big Ten matchup

Bret Bielema, Illinois face Iowa in old-fashioned Big Ten matchup

Last week, Bret Bielema led Illinois against Wisconsin in his first trip to Madison since giving up the Badgers' head coaching gig to take over at Arkansas in 2012.

Arguably, though, Bielema identifies more with his 11 years at Iowa than his seven seasons at Wisconsin -- and he's had a Hawkeye tattoo on his left calf since 1990 to prove it.

"Hell of an idea when you're 19," joked Bielema, who played on Iowa's defensive line for four years, coached under Hayden Fry for four years and then spent Kirk Ferentz's first three seasons at Iowa as his linebackers coach.

Ferentz brings his Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) to Champaign, Ill. Saturday night at a time when Illinois (4-1, 1-1) is riding its best start since 2015 and threatening to earn its first Associated Press Top 25 poll appearance since 2011.

Of course, that would require Illinois to beat Iowa for the first time since 2008 -- and this one could develop into an old-school Big Ten clash where points are at a premium.

Iowa, coming off a 27-14 loss to No. 4 Michigan, boasts the nation's third-best scoring defense (10.0 ppg) and stands eighth overall in total yards allowed. But Illinois trumps that as defensive coordinator Ryan Walters' unit ranks No. 1 in scoring defense (8.4 ppg) and No. 3 in yards allowed.

In Saturday' 34-10 win at Wisconsin, Illinois' multiple-look defense stacked up five sacks and two interceptions while holding the Badgers to 2 net rushing yards.

Iowa's offense ranks a distant last among Big Ten teams in points (16.4 per game) and yards (242.2 per game), which has Bielema on high alert.

"Because of (our success) there's a cousin that creeps in this world called complacency -- and you just think these (good) things are going to happen," Bielema said. "That brings victims out of all of us, right? So with our coaches, our players, anybody that speaks on it, that's our big challenge."

One of Iowa's biggest challenges will be slowing down Illinois senior Chase Brown, who leads the nation with 733 rushing yards and owns six consecutive 100-yard games dating back to last year's season finale against Northwestern.

"They've got an outstanding running back, not just a good running back," Ferentz said. "A lot of the same challenges (as last week against Michigan) because these guys are really balanced. They make you defend the entire field and then their back is not the same as last week, but similar. He's a really tough runner. He really runs hard and makes extra yards. We're going to have to do a better job of getting off blocks and hopefully getting to the ball a little bit better."

Miami quarterbacks in question against UNC, star Drake Maye

Miami quarterbacks in question against UNC, star Drake Maye

The quarterback matchup will be Drake Maye versus Tyler Van Dyke, and maybe Jake Garcia.

Maye, who leads the ACC in passing touchdowns (19), passing yards per game (318.8) and passing efficiency (187.6) will take his show on the road on Saturday afternoon, when his North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1, 1-0 ACC) visit the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami (2-2, 0-0 ACC) will start Van Dyke at quarterback. But Van Dyke, who in the preseason was projected as a first-round pick for the 2023 NFL draft, was benched in the third quarter of Miami's most recent game, a 45-31 upset home loss to Middle Tennessee State.

Garcia briefly lit a fire in Miami's offense against MTSU, and Canes coach Mario Cristobal made it clear he won't hesitate to call on his backup QB again.

"Jake gives us a world of confidence," Cristobal said of Garcia. "We feel we have two great quarterbacks."

Van Dyke has a 123.0 efficiency rate and 59.3 completion percentage in 118 passes this year. Garcia has a 149.5 efficiency rate and 67.9 completion percentage on 28 passes.

But despite the inferior numbers, Van Dyke has responded well in practices, according to Cristobal.

Van Dyke will need to be equally as good Saturday, because UNC has won three straight games against Miami, its longest streak in series history. The Tar Heels lead the series, 12-11, even though Miami has had the better program for the past 40 years.

Maye, if he stays hot, could make it four in a row for the Heels. He is the reigning ACC Quarterback and Freshman of the Week after passing for a career-high 363 yards in a 41-10 win over Virginia Tech. He completed 26-of-36 passes for three touchdowns and ran for a team-high 73 yards and two scores in a dominating performance.

"Drake continues to do some amazing things," UNC coach Mack Brown said. "Standing in the pocket or moving around to find an open receiver -- he's a special player."

UNC has gotten excellent production from its top three tight ends as Bryson Nesbit, Kamari Morales and John Copenhaver have combined this season for 33 catches and five touchdowns.

Brown was also impressed with his defense, which held Virginia Tech to just 273 yards, forcing two turnovers. That's a huge difference from the UNC defense that allowed 61 points to Appalachian State earlier this year.

"That's what I've been seeing in practice," Brown said of his defense's improvement.

ECU, Tulane with chance to gain traction in AAC play

ECU, Tulane with chance to gain traction in AAC play

East Carolina and Tulane had strong bounce-back performances a week ago. Up next, the Pirates will visit the Green Wave to continue their American Athletic Conference schedules on Saturday in New Orleans.

Two weeks ago, East Carolina (3-2, 1-1 AAC) lost its conference opener at home to Navy, 23-20 in double overtime. Then the Pirates went on the road and defeated South Florida 48-28 in a game moved from Tampa to Florida Atlantic's stadium in Boca Raton, Fla., because of Hurricane Ian.

Holton Ahlers passed for 465 yards and six touchdowns, and C.J. Johnson caught seven of Ahlers' passes for 197 yards and four touchdowns. Ahler's grandmother passed away days before the game.

"I think it was important for him and his family that he did play and what an incredible performance," East Carolina coach Mike Houston said. "I can't say enough positive things about it. Just so happy for him. What a great way to honor someone that was a huge part of his life in just doing that for her on Saturday."

Tulane (4-1, 1-0) lost at home to Southern Miss 27-24 two weeks ago before winning at Houston by the same score in overtime.

The Green Wave played without starting quarterback Michael Pratt, who has an unspecified injury to his throwing arm. Justin Ibieta started in Pratt's place but was sidelined for good during the first series when he suffered a shoulder injury.

Redshirt freshman Kai Horton stepped in and threw three touchdown passes, including a game-winner after the Cougars had kicked a field goal on the first possession of overtime.

"We feel like Michael's going to have the opportunity to play this week," Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. "He looked alright (in practice). I haven't had a chance to really talk to him, but we feel practice isn't the same as a game.

"We are being careful what we are throwing at him right now. Hopefully he's going to be fine Saturday."

East Carolina ranks fourth in the American in scoring offense and scoring defense. The Pirates are averaging 35.2 points and allowing 20.6 per game; Tulane is averaging 32.4 and allowing 14.2, the latter ranking second in the conference.

Pitt tries to straighten out up-and-down start vs. Virginia Tech

Pitt tries to straighten out up-and-down start vs. Virginia Tech

Through the first month of the season, Pitt experienced the euphoria of opening with a dramatic win in the "Backyard Brawl" over West Virginia, followed by a disappointing overtime loss to Tennessee.

Then came the frustration of last week when the Panthers could never get anything going and fell to visiting Georgia Tech, a program that just fired its coach.

The Panthers hope to rebound from the loss that knocked them out of the Top 25 when they host struggling Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Pitt (3-2, 0-1 ACC) remained No. 17 after its win over West Virginia and was ranked No. 24 when it went 2-for-12 on third downs and got whistled for 12 penalties in Saturday's 26-21 home loss to Georgia Tech.

Quarterback Kedon Slovis completed 26 of 45 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Two were in the final two minutes, when Pitt tried to overcome a 19-7 deficit. The Panthers struggled after running back Israel Abanikanda exited with an upper-body injury late in the first half.

"I don't know if there's ever a good loss because you can learn from a bad win, too. We've done that, as well," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. "We just got to keep getting better as a football team. We're going to learn regardless of a loss or a win. We're going to make our adjustments, regroup, start over again."

Abanikanda is the ACC's second-leading rusher behind Syracuse's Sean Tucker, and if he is out, Vincent Davis would get a bulk of the carries after gaining 80 yards Saturday.

Virginia Tech (2-3, 1-1) is off to an inconsistent start under first-year coach Brent Pry. The Hokies have scored the third-fewest points in the ACC.

Virginia Tech earned consecutive wins over Boston College and Wofford but followed it up by getting outscored 74-20 in losses to West Virginia and North Carolina.

Against West Virginia, the Hokies held the ball for just 21:16, committed 15 penalties and rushed for 35 yards. In last week's 41-10 loss to North Carolina, Virginia Tech improved slightly in those areas but allowed 527 yards to the Tar Heels.

"As a team and everybody individually, we know what we're capable of. We see it every day (at practice)," Hokies wideout Kaleb Smith said. "Just have to execute."

Pitt has won three of the past four meetings, including last year's 28-7 win in Blacksburg and a 47-14 rout at home two years ago when it racked up 556 yards on offense.

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