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2011: A look ahead

Carnac

What’s that you say?  It’s barely stopped raining confetti following Auburn’s BcS title game win over Oregon and we’re already talking about a 2011 season that won’t start for another eight months?

You damn right we are.  And you know why?  ‘Cause that’s how we roll.  Or something.

Anyway, here’s a brief look at how at how things may play out in 2011.  And, based on our look ahead to the 2010 season, you don’t have much to worry about if there’s anything negative about your school below.

FIVE COMPELLING STORYLINES

1. The Conference Shuffle
You may have forgotten, but several schools will be ditching long-time conference homes for some new league digs in the coming months.  Nebraska to the Big Ten from the Big 12.  Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12 from the Big 12 and Mountain West, respectively.  Boise State from the WAC to the Mountain West.  Perhaps the most intriguing angles will come from the two BcS conferences with new additions; specifically, how will the split into two six-team divisions and the addition of a conference title games affect the leagues as it pertains to the BcS?   It’s hard to say at this point in time how this mini-expansion apocalypse will impact the various conferences, but it’s certainly a new frontier these leagues will be plowing.  And something that bears watching as conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 continue to sniff around adding even more schools in the coming years.

2. Can the Big Ten Recover From New Year’s Day Bowl Embarrassment?
Last year at this time, we were asking if the Big Ten had displayed earnest growth based on their performance during the 2009-2010 bowl season or if it was merely just a one-year blip.  The 0-5 massacre on the first day of 2011 suggests the latter is the case.  We all know — or at least should know — that bowl performance is not indicative of conference strength one way or the other.  However, it’s a number that’s used to fuel national perceptions, and right now the Big Ten is back nationally to where they were two years ago: a sloth-like, middle-of-the-road conference that has a long ways to go before they climb even with the likes of the SEC.

3. Can Texas Two-Step Back to Their Rightful Place?
Any way you parse it, the 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster for the Longhorns.  Not only was UT 5-7 overall, but they finished an unsightly 2-5 at home — including losses to UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor.  Again, at home.  Following that disaster, Mack Brown overhauled most of his coaching staff either of his own volition or out of necessity, including bringing in new coordinators on both sides of the ball.  There’s simply too much talent on that roster for yet another disastrous year in what could very well be Brown’s swan song.  Oops, did we type that out loud?

4. Last Call for JoePa-hol… Maybe?
Despite rumors that were running rampant that Joe Paterno would be forced to step down due to health concerns, the legendary head coach will be back for his 147th season as Penn State’s head coach in 2011.  But, will it be his last?  Paterno is entering the final year of a three-year contract, and administration stated after a meeting with Paterno this past weekend that his future won’t be discussed until after the ’11 season.  He’s gotta go at some point; will this be the year?

5. The NFL Labor Issue
Based on the rhetoric coming from both sides of the NFL’s labor issue, there seems to be a very good chance that the players will face a lockout at the hands of the owners.  There’s also a very real possibility that the lockout could drag into the regular season, costing the NFL games… and leaving college football as the only “major” game in town.  We’ve heard from a couple of members of athletic departments that filling that football vacuum and sliding some games to Sunday “is something that has been talked about and will continue to be talked about if (the labor projections) continue” to look gloomy.  The NFL will always be king; college football, though, could very well be a big beneficiary of that league’s stupidity.

WAY-TOO-EARLY HEISMAN ROLL CALL

1. Andrew Luck, Stanford — The quarterback surprised some by returning to the Cardinal for another season.  It would be no surprise at all if he winds up in New York City in December holding the same stiff-armed trophy he finished runner-up for late last year.  With the coaching change at Stanford, this could be a dicey player to stick at the top of the Heisman list, especially if athletic director Bob Bowlsby decides to eschew the in-house approach for a replacement.

2. Darron Thomas, Oregon — The Ducks quarterback should’ve received more Heisman attention than he did in 2010.  That will be rectified in 2011 as the junior-to-be is too talented as a runner/passer to ignore much longer, the spotty play in the national title game notwithstanding.

3. Cam Newton, Auburn — After the way the quarterback dominated SEC defenses in 2010 on his way to winning the Heisman, why would he not start at the top of the 2011 list?  Simple: only one player has won back-to-back Heismans, and that happened way back in the seventies.  Of course, any inclusion of Newton is predicated on Newton returning — BIG if — instead of leaping to the NFL after just one full season as a starter at this level, which we will know no later than Saturday.

4. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina — We believe it’s a federal law to throw a curve ball into the middle of these lists, so why not toss the talented soon-to-be sophomore running back into the early mix?  Lattimore rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman.  Logic would dictate that Lattimore will receive even more of the workload after proving himself to head coach Steve Spurrier to be a reliable cog in the offense.  Logic would further dictate that, with a year of seasoning and three-fifths of a solid offensive line returning, Lattimore will be able to improve his 4.8 yards per carry from this past season.

5. Kellen Moore, Boise State — Based on Moore’s first three years with the Broncos, he would appear to be a mortal lock for at least another trip to New York City, provided he can remain healthy and the wheels don’t fall of the BSU freight train.  The senior-to-be has averaged 3,600 yards, 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his three years as a starter, all the while completing just over 68 percent of his passes.

6. LaMichael James, Oregon — The nation’s leading rusher in 2010, James, like Luck, decided to eschew a shot at NFL riches for another season of college ball.  For whatever reason, despite his productivity, James does not receive the hype and/or love from the media that he seemingly deserves.  Is he being viewed as a “system back”?  We’ve gotten that impression from some and, although we believe it to be unfair, it’s not likely to abate at any point in the near future.

Bonus Pick: Matt Barkley, USC — Call this one a serious hunch, but we feel that the USC quarterback is on the precipice of fulfilling all of his immense high school hype and throwing some serious numbers out onto the Heisman table.  Plus, it will make NBC Sports.com‘s college football editor very happy, and could potentially help curb his incessant whining over the state of the Trojans.

RICH RODRIGUEZ MEMORIAL COACHING HOT SEAT

1. Paul Wulff, Washington State
The man is 5-32 in three years with the Cougars and barely made it to a fourth.  If he doesn’t show marked improvement in the won-loss ledger, you can bet he won’t get a fifth year and will instead be thrown out on his Wazzu.

2. Mark Richt, Georgia
During his 10 years in Athens, Richt has only finished a season with a winning percentage below .667 twice.  Oddly enough, both of those seasons have come in the past two seasons.  The native Dawgs are getting restless and, with a new boss sitting in the athletic director’s office with a winning mandate for the football program, Richt had better win this season.  Or else.

3. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
Slick Rick returned to his alma mater with great fanfare… and has proceeded to defecate all over the bed.  All Neuheisel has done is wrap a pair of 4-8 seasons around a 7-6 second year during his three seasons with the Bruins.  Perhaps most disturbing is an utterly inept offense that spits and sputters despite the presence of a former quarterback in Neuheisel and an offensive genius in Norm Chow.  What it will take for Neuheisel to remain at UCLA beyond 2011 remains to be seen, but it sure as hell will have to be more than what Slick Rick has done thus far.

4. Ron Zook, Illinois
No coaching hot seat would be complete without the perpetually on-fire backside of The Zookster.  Zook bought himself a little bit of time with a seven-win season that included a bowl win, but he’s still just 28-45 in six years in Champaign.  Even more unacceptable is the fact that he’s 16-32 in the Big Ten and has finished above .500 in conference play just once — the Illini’s Rose Bowl season waaay back in 2007.  It appears Zook will get one more season to show the program is taking significant strides.  Then again, dude has the same number of lives as a couple of felines, so we’ll see.

5. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
The fourth-year coach was thiiis close to getting the axe following the 2010 season, but received a reprieve.  Based on what we’ve been told, it will be his one and only commutation, especially since the Sun Devils are the early pick by some to win the Pac-12 South.  In other words, Erickson might want to consider winning post-haste.

FIVE RISERS
1. Alabama
C’mon, this might be the biggest no-brainer of the bunch.  Is there really any explanation needed as to why the Tide, which finished No. 10 following the blowout of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, is very likely to find their way back into the Top 5 for the vast majority of the upcoming season?  Then again, the quarterback position…

2. Syracuse
Oh yeah; I went there.  Consider this my one flyer in this category.  And, no, I don’t see the Orange as a Top 10 team at any point during the ’11 season, but, given the strength — or lack thereof — in the Big East, Doug Marrone has the opportunity to do something special as early as this coming year.  Hell, UConn made a BcS bowl; why can’t the ‘Cuse?

3. Texas
Almost as big a no-brainer as ‘Bama.  Again, too much talent on that 85-man roster, and Mack Brown is too good of a coach, to allow yet another debacle to take place.

4. Mississippi State
OK, I lied; there’ll be two flyers in this category.  A 9-4 season that included close losses to Auburn and Arkansas, and a big blowout win in the Gator Bowl has the Bulldogs set up for a leap from perennial also-ran to legitimate contender in Dan Mullen’s third year in Starkville.

5. Florida/Florida State
A new head coach at UF seems to have reinvigorated the entire Gator football program, something we fully expect to carry over into a rebound ’11 season.  A first-year head coach at FSU has no doubt brought new life to Seminole Nation, as evidenced by a recruiting class that could easily finish in the top three in the country.  It’s a better sport when programs like these two are relevant.  Expect that to be the case in 2011.

FIVE TUMBLERS
1. Virginia Tech
Yes, Frank Beamer & Company seem to reload year after year, but losing one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country in Tyrod Taylor (no relation) as well as two of your top running backs to early entry is not exactly the optimal recipe for sustaining success.

2. Missouri
Blame this hunch solely on attrition.  When you lose your best player on the offensive side of the ball, especially when it’s at the quarterback position, and one of your best on the defensive side of the ball, there’s a very good chance for at least a brief step back for the Mizzou program.

3. Ohio State
Shocked at this one?  You shouldn’t be.  Four offensive starters suspended for, barring a successful appeal that results in a reduction, the first five games of the season does not portend well regardless of the schedule.  Down one-third of your starting offense, suddenly games against Miami (Fla.) and Colorado don’t look like such gimmes, and the game against Big Ten co-champ Michigan State gets that much tougher.

4. UConn
Randy Edsall was Huskies football.  As much as we didn’t like the hire for Maryland, we think his departure will have a very negative impact on UConn, which go only eight votes in the final AP Top 25 poll, at least for the short-term.  Then again, they do still reside in the Big East…

5. Michigan State
Personally, I thought the Spartans’ magical 11-2 run was a mirage.  They will prove me correct in 2011 as they have to go on the road to face Notre Dame — a team I nearly put in the Five Risers — Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa, as well as take on Wisconsin at home.

EARLY-BIRD TOP FIVE*

1. Oklahoma: I didn’t buy into the preseason Sooner hype last offseason; I’m ready to this year.  Wholeheartedly and unequivocally.

2. Oregon: Darron Thomas, LaMichael James & Company returning?  Something tells me that No. 2 might end up being too low.

3. TCU: Sure, the Horned Frogs lose some key performers — chief among them quarterback Andy Dalton — but the combination of a likely Top Five placement in the preseason polls, a “favorable” schedule and a helluva football program built by Gary Patterson has the private school poised to remain on the fringes of title contention for years to come.  Especially when their schedule really gets easy with the move to the Big East.

4. Stanford: Jim Harbaugh left a helluva foundation for whoever it is that takes over, especially if the Cardinal stays in-house — which they should — for a replacement.  Oh, and Andrew Luck somewhat unexpectedly returning for another year?  That’s enough to at least start them off inside the Top Five.

5. Boise State: The move to the Mountain West should help the Broncos’ “street cred”, even just a little and even with the loss of Utah from the conference.  Chris Petersen reaffirmed his commitment to BSU, and Kellen Moore returns for one more season on the blue turf.  What’s not to like about their chances of competing yet again for a BcS slot… and maybe a spot in the national title game in New Orleans a year from now.

(*With this Top Five, and unlike the early Heisman Roll Call, I’m going with the assumption that Newton will leave early; if he doesn’t, Auburn would be my No. 2)

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Michigan State QB Cook says he took a bad cheap shot

Connor Cook

Michigan State’s chances for repeating as Big Ten champions this year were nearly nixed in the season opener against FCS opponent Jacksonville State. A hit from Folo Johnson landed on the lower left leg of Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. Cook’s pass went for a touchdown to Tony Lippett in the easy win, but Johnson was flagged 15 yards for the low hit on the quarterback. After reviewing the hit on film this week, Cook left no gray area with his feelings about the hit.

To say Cook did not appreciate it would be putting it kindly.

“I thought it was a pretty bad cheap shot,” Cook told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “I’ve seen a lot of hits, growing up, watching TV and stuff like that. I’ve never seen a hit like that, so low and so late. I thought it was a really dirty hit. But I’m glad things aren’t as bad as it looked.”

Cook could have been seriously injured and really is fortunate to have been able to get up and walk (or limp) off the field on the play. Whether the hit was truly intentional or not may still be up for debate — it did look extremely suspicious — but the important thing here is Cook was able to return to the field and keep playing. Cook is ready to go for this weekend’s big game on the west coast at Oregon.

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Equipment failure may have been to blame for Northwestern’s loss

Pat Fitzgerald

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald took a shot at bloggers and reporters for their coverage of California, but maybe he should direct some disgust at his own equipment staff. IT appears Northwestern’s defensive players were wearing the wrong wristbands in the first half, as Cal was building a lead against a scrambling Northwestern defense.

Inside Northwestern reports information from an undisclosed source close to the team confirming Wildcats players had to switch out wristbands with plays inside of them during the game. If Northwestern’s defense looked to be in bad coverage, perhaps this would be a reason why.

The Northwestern site on the SB Nation network alluded to a possible breakdown in communication while breaking down the game film against California. Switching out wristbands so players had the right plays to refer to would seem to explain how a miscommunication could happen in the game. Perhaps it is not a coincidence Northwestern managed to make a comeback in the game as well.

Whatever the reason for Saturday’s shortcomings against the Bears, Northwestern might want to double-check those wristbands before hosting Northern Illinois this weekend.

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Oregon State and Hawaii extend series through 2021

Oregon State is making a trip to Hawaii for a game this weekend, but the Beavers are already lining up another trip to the island. Oregon State and Hawaii announced today plans to extend the series with two additional game sin 2019 and 2021.

Oregon State is scheduled to make a trip to Hawaii on September 7, 2019. Hawaii will travel to Oregon State two years later on September 11, 2021.

“It’s been a competitive and entertaining series over the years,” Beaver head coach Mike Riley said in a statement released by Oregon State. “The fans enjoy the trip as do our players and coaches; it makes a lot of sense to continue the series with all the local ties that this University has with the state of Hawai’i.”

Oregon State leads the all-time series, 6-3.

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Bryce Petty believes he will play Saturday, broken back and all

Bryce Petty

I don’t know about you, but I have a rough enough time getting out of bed some days if I slept funny and my back is a little achy. Back injuries are nothing to mess around with, or so you would think. Despite being listed as day-to-day with two cracked bones in his spine, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty says he thinks he will be playing again this weekend when Baylor takes on Northwestern State.

“That’s my goal towards the rest of the week,” Petty said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “You can’t do anything worse to it, so if it’s bearable, I’ll do it.”

Well, you could do something worse to the back, no? Petty does not seem too concerned.

“It’s like a pinkie,” Petty said. “You can’t do much except just brace it up and wait for it to heal. Football is football, you have pain. Might as well get rewarded for it.”

Well, that’s one way to look at it, I guess.

Baylor head coach Art Briles has said backup Seth Russell will direct the offense if Petty is not available. With Northwestern State as the opponent this weekend, it might be wise to go easy on Petty this week and give him the week off. Baylor will still put up 50 points, or at least they should with or without Petty under center.

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Indicted for attempted rape, BGSU RB William Houston suspended

MAC Championship - Bowling Green v Northern Illinois Getty Images

A rather serious incident, or at least allegations of a serious incident, has triggered a suspension for one Bowling Green Falcon.

According to the Toledo Blade, running back William Houston was indicted by a Wood County (Ohio) grand jury in August for attempted rape.  The alleged attempted rape occurred July 20 and had previously been reported.

From the Blade:

Bowling Green police were called to a home in the 200 block of Manville Avenue where the victim told police she’d fallen asleep and awoke when a man “tried to force himself on her.” Mr. Houston was identified by others who were also at the home as the suspect, and he was arrested in an on-campus residence hall.

BGSU independently investigated the allegations, finding Houston responsible for “sexual contact without permission.” As a result, Houston was suspended from the football team for a period of two years.

Why he wasn’t banned permanently from both the team and the university pending the outcome of a trial is unknown.

A three-star member of the Falcons’ 2013 recruiting, Houston rushed for 211 yards as a true freshman last season.  He also led the team with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Obviously, Houston didn’t play in the season-opening loss to Western Kentucky.

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ACC will not punish Syracuse QB Hunt for punching Villanova player

Terrel Hunt

Syracuse got by FCS power Villanova in a Friday night season-opener, but had to do so following the ejection of starting quarterback Terrel Hunt. Hunt was ejected from the football game after throwing a punch on the ground to Villanova linebacker Dillon Lucas, who had tackled the quarterback in the second quarter.

According to Section 6.1 of the NCAA rule book, a player disqualified from a game due to a flagrant personal foul will have the incident reviewed by his team’s conference to determine if any extra punishment is deemed necessary. That review is to be completed before the team’s next game on the schedule. Citing information from an ACC spokesperson, Syracuse.com reports the ACC has reviewed the play and will not hand out any extra punishment.

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer released a statement through the Syracuse athletics department to say he and Hunt discussed the incident and are now moving forward.

“Terrel and I have talked regarding his flagrant penalty (vs. Villanova) and he fully understands the behavior is not condoned and regrets his action,” the statement read, according to Syracuse.com.

Syracuse’s next game is not until September 13, when the Orange visit Central Michigan.

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Cody Kessler undergoes procedure, expected to start vs. Stanford

Fresno State v USC Getty Images

A lower leg issue is not expected to keep USC’s starting quarterback out of what will be a huge conference matchup this weekend, head coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday.

According to the head coach, Cody Kessler underwent a medical procedure on one of his toes earlier in the day.  While Sarkisian wouldn’t specify the nature of the medical issue, the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Kessler was hospitalized with a staph infection in the toe.

Regardless of the specific nature of the issue, Sarkisian said Kessler is expected to start Saturday’s game against Stanford.

Kessler, who has started 15 straight games for the Trojans, passed for a career-high 394 yards and four touchdowns in the season-opening win over Fresno State.  He was named the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Week for that performance.

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Movement aplenty in first in-season AP Top 25

Texas A&M v South Carolina Getty Images

Thanks to some upsets — and a couple of high-profile near-misses– shakeup was the name of the game as the Associated Press released its first poll of the 2014 season Tuesday afternoon.

In that Top 25 poll, Florida State, coming off a closer-than-expected win over unranked Oklahoma State, remained No. 1, although the defending FBS champs did see an erosion in their support.  After receiving 57 first-place votes in the AP‘s preseason poll, the Seminoles claimed just 46 in Week 1.

A whopping six teams were on the receiving end of first-place votes from the media: No. 2 Alabama (one), No. 3 Oregon (five), No. 4 Oklahoma (two), No. 6 Georgia (two), No. 9 Texas A&M (two) and No. 12 LSU (one).

While the top four teams remained the same from a week ago, every position but No. 10 (Baylor), No. 20 (Kansas State) and No. 24 changed.

Below are the four biggest movers, of the week, both up and down:

UP
No. 9 Texas A&M (No. 21 last week)
No. 6 Georgia (No. 12)
No. 15 Ole Miss (No. 18)
No. 19 Nebraska (No. 22)
No. 25 Louisville (No. 31 last week)

DOWN
No. 21 South Carolina (No. 9)
No. 23 Clemson (No. 16)
No. 11 UCLA (No. 7)
No. 18 Wisconsin (No. 14)
No. 8 Ohio State (No. 5)

The only team to fall out the Top 25 this week was Washington, which was ranked 25th entering Week 1.

AP Top 25 Week 1

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Spurrier on Mike Davis: ‘good chance he’ll play’

Texas A&M v South Carolina Getty Images

Apparently it was a false alarm when it came to Mike Davis.  Again.

Monday, Steve Spurrier said his star running back is “sort of doubtful” for South Carolina’s game Saturday against East Carolina because of a lingering rib issue.  That issue limited the All-SEC back to just four carries, none after the midway point of the second quarter in the season-opening loss to Texas A&M.

During a press conference Tuesday, however, Spurrier sounded decidedly optimistic about Davis’ availability compared to 24 hours ago.

Because of Davis’ issues, Brandon Wilds led all USC backs with 45 yards on nine carries.

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Vols lose starting LT to torn ACL

Jacob Gilliam, Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson

Thanks to injuries, the game of football can be a cruel mistress.  The latest example?  Tennessee’s Jacob Gilliam.

After four years as a walk-on, the offensive lineman was rewarded with a scholarship this past May.  Then, Saturday, Gilliam started his first game at the collegiate level in the Vols’ win over Utah State.

That, though, will be Gilliam’s last start for a while — or ever — as head coach Butch Jones confirmed Tuesday that the player sustained a torn ACL in the opener.  Because of the injury, Gilliam (pictured, left) will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

“It’s very, very unfortunate,” Jones said. “I feel for him. I feel for his family. Here’s a young man, I love him to death. Walk-on who earned a scholarship. He earned it. … I just feel for Jacob just because he’s earned the respect of his peers and he’s worked so hard to put himself in position to be our starting left tackle.”

The Knoxville News wrote that “Jones said Tennessee is exploring the possibility of applying for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, but it’s unlikely that will be granted.” If that waiver is denied, it would mean the end to Gilliam’s collegiate career.

The injury is especially damaging for a Vols squad that came into the 2014 season with five new starting offensive linemen.

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FSU still sits atop coaches’ poll

Oklahoma State v Florida State Getty Images

With Week 1 officially in the books, the first wave of Top 25 polls has commenced in earnest, with the newly-dubbed Amway Coaches’ Poll the first to do the in-season 2014 honors.

Not so unexpectedly, preseason No. 1 Florida State remains at the top of the coaching poll.  The Seminoles also stretched its lead on No. 2 Alabama, going from 88 points up on the Tide to 109 as well as picking up a first-place vote.

FSU now has 57 of the 62 first-place votes.

Three other teams received first-place votes: No. 3 Oklahoma (two), No. 4 Oregon (two) and No. 8 Georgia (one), which was ranked No. 12 in the initial preseason poll.  The other team that received a first-place vote in the poll released last month, South Carolina, lost to Texas A&M and tumbled all the way to No. 21 from No. 9.

UCLA, with a sloppy road win over Virginia, also fell out of the Top 10, from No. 7 to No. 11.  Replacing the Bruins in the Top 10 was Stanford at No. 10.

Ohio State also dropped despite a win, moving down two from No. 6 to No. 8.  Michigan State, on the other hand, moved into the No. 6 hole vacated by their Big Ten foe after entering Week 1 No. 7.

The Top 10 was rounded out by Auburn (No. 5, same as last week) and Baylor (No. 9, No. 10 last week).

Thanks to its dominating win over South Carolina Thursday night, A&M made the biggest move up in the coaches’ Top 25.  Ranked No. 20 entering Week 1, the Aggies climbed all the way up to No. 13 entering Week 2.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, dropped five spots to No. 19 following its loss to LSU.  The Tigers, though, moved up just one spot to No. 12.

Oklahoma State, which nearly knocked off FSU, is the first team in the “Others Receiving Votes” with 106 points; in the preseason poll, the Cowboys totaled just 37.

Unlike in the past with the BCS, and as we will remind you every week moving forward, neither the coaches’ poll or the Associated Press rankings, which will be released this afternoon, will have any bearing on which teams qualify for the College Football Playoff.

1. Florida State 1,541
2. Alabama 1,432
3. Oklahoma 1,407
4. Oregon 1,358
5. Auburn 1,289
6. Michigan State 1,141
7. Ohio State 1,114
8. Georgia 1,108
9. Baylor 1,018
10. Stanford 999
11. UCLA 964
12. LSU 912
13. Texas A&M 895
14. USC 713
15. Notre Dame 605
16. Arizona State 502
17. Ole Miss 438
18. Nebraska 384
19. Wisconsin 373
20. Kansas State 370
21. South Carolina 272
22. Missouri 189
23. North Carolina 189
24. Clemson 155
25. Texas 150

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Badgers to shut Joel Stave down, ‘give him some rest’

Joel Stave

After watching Tanner McEvoy put up some horrific numbers in Wisconsin’s loss to LSU — 8-of-24 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions — many were calling for backup Joel Stave to come in and save the quarterbacking day.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, that’s simply not possible.  At least, not at the moment.

UW announced Tuesday that Stave will miss some time due to a lingering shoulder issue, which was a point of concern for the coaching staff throughout spring practice.  It’s unclear how long the senior will be sidelined.

“Joel has been dealing with some issues with his throwing shoulder for the last couple of weeks and we have come to a decision, after talking with Joel, that the best thing for him right now is to shut it down and give him some rest,” head coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. “It was a tough decision because Joel is a great competitor and has a tremendous desire to help this team. We will continue to monitor his progress but we’re not putting a timetable on his return at this time.”

Putting Stave on the shelf also explains why McEvoy wasn’t yanked in the midst of his subpar performance.

Stave started all 13 games for the Badgers last season, while the 6-6, 222-pound McEvoy was moved to safety — played in 10 games, started three — before returning to quarterback in the spring. The naming of McEvoy as the starter for the opener came as a surprise given the experience on both sides, including McEvoy’s lack of it.

With Stave out for the foreseeable future, however, the Badgers’ fortunes will rest with McEvoy. Redshirt sophomore Bart Houston will now serve as McEvoy’s primary backup.

In addition to the Stave news, Anderson also announced that tight end T.J. Watt will “miss an extended amount of time” because of injury.  Anderson said the younger brother of UW legend J.J. Watt “suffered a right knee injury during camp which required surgery.”

“[W]e hope to have him back on the practice field at some point during the conference season,” the coach said of Watt.

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Terps lose WR Taivon Jacobs to season-ending knee injury

C.J. Brown, Andrew Isaacs, Taivon Jacobs, Silvano Altamirano AP

It’s not been a good past few days for Maryland’s pass-catching Jacobs brothers.

Friday, Levern Jacobs was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the school’s code of student conduct.  Two days later, head coach Randy Edsall announced that Taivon Jacobs (pictured, No. 12) has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.

Jacobs suffered the injury on the second drive of the Terps’ season-opening win against James Madison Saturday.

As a true freshman in 2013, Jacobs took a redshirt as a torn ACL suffered during his senior year in high school limited his availability.  Jacobs, who was one of three starting Terp receivers, didn’t record a catch prior to going down with the injury.

The loss of the Jacobs brothers continues an attrition trend at the position over the past year.  In 2013, both of Maryland’s top receivers, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, went down with season-ending injuries in the same mid-October game.  Shortly before the start of summer camp this year, Nigel King, the team’s third-leading receiver last year, left the football team and ultimately landed at Kansas earlier this month.

 

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Brother of Miss. St. WR Jameon Lewis shot, killed

Alabama v Mississippi State Getty Images

Sadly, real life has found a way to impact one of the top returning wide receivers in the SEC.

According to WJTV, Tyriunce Lewis, the brother of Mississippi State Bulldog Jameon Lewis, was shot and killed late Sunday morning at an apartment complex in Tylertown, Miss. The website wrote that “a disagreement between Tyriunce Lewis and Kendall Magee escalated into gunfire.”

Lewis was shot once in the head with a handgun, the sheriff told the television station.

Tyriunce Lewis was in attendance at the Bulldogs 49-0 season-opening win over Southern Miss Saturday, a fact the receiver relayed in an Instagram post Monday.

It’s crazy how life works at time… Just saw my lil brother last night, he came to my game to support me!!! Who knew that was gonna be my last time seeing my blood brother!!! Life is unpredictable #RipToot I love ya lil bra!!! I promise ya, your lil ones would be in good hands & have a bright future!!! #FlyHighBra #MuchLoveTubby

Jameon Lewis is the leading returning receiver in the SEC. He had three catches for 25 yards in the opener.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Biloxi Sun Herald)

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Louisville downs Miami, now owns ACC record for all-time winning percentage

Miami v Louisville Getty Images

Tomorrow morning, Miami will wake up in south Florida and begin preparation for an opponent other than Louisville. That’s a wonderful thing for Al Golden and his football program. In closing the 2013 season and opening this season with losses to these Cardinals (36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, 31-13 tonight), Miami watched its offense score two total touchdowns in 23 possessions. That may sound bad – okay, it is bad – but the ‘Canes have been better at scoring touchdowns than converting third downs. They went a combined 1-for-23 there.

True freshman Brad Kaaya earned the start, playing about as well as you could reasonably expect an 18-year-old making his first start in a conference road game could play, hitting 17-of-29 throws for 174 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Duke Johnson contributed a workmanlike 20 carries for 90 yards.

Missed opportunities will be the story for Miami after the Hurricanes twice inherited the ball inside Louisville’s 10 yard line and came away with a total of three points. But perhaps the biggest blown chance of the night came early in the fourth quarter, when Kaaya hit Johnson on a wheel route that would have given Miami a first-and-goal at the 5 and a chance to pull within one score, but offensive lineman Danny Isidora was hit with an ineligible receiver downfield penalty, negating the entire play. Two plays later Kaaya was sacked for a loss of 11 yards, and two plays after that Miami turned the ball over on downs.

Louisville then took over at its own 33, leisurely marched 67 yards in 14 plays, ate up an oh-so-valuable 7:47 off the clock, and pushed the score to 31-13.

Ball, meet game.

In the re-debut of Bobby Petrino at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, it was the Cardinal running game that powered his highly-respected offense. Dominique Brown rushed 33 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Will Gardner added 206 passing yards and two touchdowns (plus two lost fumbles) in his first start. The win moves Petrino to 42-9 at Louisville, and an impressive 23-1 at home.

Most importantly, the win moves Louisville to 1-0 all-time in ACC play, thereby placing the Cardinals atop the conference record books for all-time winning percentage.

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