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Kickoff fair catches not catching on

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The new college football rule rewarding teams for making fair catches on kickoffs has not caught on like officiating supervisors expected and more changes could be made in 2019 to further reduce kick returns or make them safer.

If a fair catch is made on a kickoff anywhere between the goal line and 25 this season, it is ruled a touchback and the ball is marked at the 25. The goal was to have fewer kick returns, which have a higher injury rate compared with other types of plays because of the likelihood of high-speed player collisions.

Fair catches were made on just 11.2 percent of kickoffs in the Football Bowl Subdivision through games of Oct. 13 or approximately half the season. There were touchbacks in the end zone on 45 percent of kickoffs while 40.6 percent were returned (compared with 51 percent returned for the entire 2017 season). The remaining 3.2 percent of kickoffs were either out of bounds or onside attempts.


Michigan, MSU cordial before big matchup

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio began his news conference this week by talking about how well Michigan is playing, and how the No. 6 Wolverines certainly deserve a lofty ranking.

He later pointed out that recent matchups between the Spartans and Wolverines have been played in good spirit.


Clemson, NC State vie for Atlantic lead

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) The Clemson-North Carolina State football series has been one of the most competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

It has also been one of the oddest.


Rypien throws 4 TDs, Boise rolls by Rams

BOISE, Idaho (AP) Brett Rypien threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns to lead Boise State over Colorado State 56-28 on Friday night.

Boise State (5-2, 3-1 Mountain West), which had to rally from a 35-10 halftime deficit last season against the Rams, flipped the script this time in racing out to a 35-7 halftime lead and never looked back.


Stakes high as No. 12 Oregon visits WSU

No. 25 Washington State hosting No. 12 Oregon has more significance than many may have expected early in the season.

The game will be key in determining which program stays alive in the hunt for the Pac-12 North title, which appeared to be a race between Washington and Stanford when the season began. All four programs now seem to be very much in it at the halfway mark.


Indiana's Ellison permanently dismissed

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Morgan Ellison has been suspended for 2 1/2 years from Indiana University in a sexual assault case, dismissing him permanently from the football team.

The university announced the suspension Friday, saying the ban from all university-related activities resulted in the running back's permanent dismissal from the team.


Tide a big favorite over Vols once again

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Alabama's last obstacle before a Western Division showdown with No. 5 LSU is a longtime Southeastern Conference rival it has treated as little more than a speed bump for over a decade.

Yet the top-ranked Crimson Tide say they're taking nothing for granted heading into Saturday's matchup at Neyland Stadium. They have too much understanding of this rivalry and too much respect for the familiar face who has taken over Tennessee's program.


No. 9 Sooners visit TCU seeking rebound

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Kyler Murray has had nearly two weeks to stew over his first loss as Oklahoma's starting quarterback.

"After the game I probably said about six words," Murray said. "But I think losing that game is definitely a learning lesson. ... I can only learn from it and get better from it."


No. 2 Buckeyes still seeking improvement

Jeff Brohm sees all sorts of challenges in No. 2 Ohio State.

Purdue's coach knows the Buckeyes are big and strong, capable of scoring dozens of points and of making life miserable for opponents.


Ole Miss latest test for reeling Auburn

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Auburn's season has turned sour after three losses in the past five weeks ended any talk of a Southeastern Conference title.

Now the Tigers are trying to finish the regular season strong, starting with Saturday's game at Mississippi.

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