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No offensive drop in Baylor’s blowout win over SMU

SMU v Baylor Getty Images

It’s not that Baylor just lost Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The Bears are moving forward without leading rusher Terrance Ganaway and leading receiver Kendall Wright. Add in Baylor’s defensive woes last season and we thought Art Biles was going to have a rebuilding year in Waco.

That might still be the case — it’s just Week 1 — but Baylor showed no signs of slowing down from a 10-win season last year in a 59-24 debut over SMU Sunday night.

Nick Florence, RGIII’s successor, was sharp against the Mustangs, throwing for 341 yards and four touchdowns. And what about the departures of Ganaway and Wright? Say hello to Jared Salubi and Tarrence Williams. Depth at the running back and wide receiver position is a luxury for the Bears this year, especially with the arrivals of Darryl Stonum and Lache Seastrunk from Michigan and Oregon, respectively.

Baylor’s defense still gave up some yards to SMU and Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert (34-of-59, 286 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions), but was able to force enough turnovers to get the game out of hand early. The Big 12 isn’t a conference that plays great defense so it’s not necessary to win a league title, but if the Bears can continue to force turnovers like they did tonight, they can be a an upper-tier Big 12 team.

This game was never in doubt in terms of the better team, but Baylor was impressive and could be the most underrated team in the Big 12 this season.

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Hokies hit new low with 6-3 OT loss at Wake Forest

Frank Beamer

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech played an ACC game this afternoon. I watched it so you didn’t have to. With neither team bringing any offense to the field, the Hokies and Demon Deacons needed to play an overtime before either team could put a point on the scoreboard. In the second overtime, Wake Forest kicker Mike Weaver connected on his second field goal of  post-regulation time, from 39 yards, to win the game for the home team, 6-3. It was Wake Forest’s first ACC win since October 19, 2013 against Maryland.

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech combined to convert eight third down conversions out of 35 attempts. Virginia Tech put together 254 yards and held Wake Forest to 234 yards of total offense. The Hokies also had three turnovers and the teams combined for 18 punts. Wake FOrest also missed three field goal attempts in regulation. Perhaps there is something to be said about the grittiness of each team’s defense to refuse to give the opposing offense a spark, but there was some poor offensive play to go along with respected defensive play. This is typically a bad combination for all watching, but Wake Forest will not care. A win is a win for Dave Clawson’s team right now.

Virginia Tech will end the regular season next weekend against in-state rival Virginia. The Hokies will have to win the game in order to go to a bowl game this season. Virginia will need a win at home tonight against Miami to set-up a winner-goes-bowling game with the Hokies next week.

This may be viewed as one of the worst losses for Virginia Tech in some time, and perhaps is a new low for Frank Beamer as head coach. Not being able to score any points on Wake Forest, a team allowing an average of 27.3 points per game, is never a good sign. The Hokies were playing through some depth challenges, but Saturday’s loss may be another example of how far Virginia Tech has fallen as the season has progressed, and where the program is situated overall today.

This is a Virginia Tech team that won at Ohio State, before the Buckeyes really found their stride with an inexperienced J.T. Barrett under center. This is a Hokies team that was blown out at home by Miami. There were close losses to Georgia Tech and Boston College and Pittsburgh, and they did beat Duke. But going into the final week of the season, Virginia Tech is in an ultimate struggle to play a 13th game. Virginia Tech has played in a bowl game every season since 1993.

Wake Forest will play on the road in Durham next week against Duke. Duke let the ACC Coastal slip away from them earlier this week with a Thursday night loss to North Carolina. The Duke loss gave Georgia Tech the division crown, but Duke will look to go out with a rebound win at home before preparing for the bowl season. Wake Forest, of course, will not be playing in a bowl game this season, but will at least look to build on a win against Virginia Tech moving forward.

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No. 23 Nebraska fumbles away a win against No. 25 Gophers

Mitch Leidner, Lincoln Plsek, Zaire Anderson

Sometimes it can be a little too cliché to say a team let a game slip through their fingers, but no other phrase may explain how No. 23 Nebraska (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) lost to No. 25 Minnesota (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) better than such a phrase. Nebraska fumbled away two balls around the Minnesota end zone and the Gophers managed to escape Lincoln with a 28-24 victory to remain in the running for the Big Ten West Division.

With Nebraska leading 21-7, De’Mornay Pierson-El caught a pass for a 25-yard gain inside the red zone before fumbling away the football in the second quarter. Minnesota recovered the loose football and returned it 24 yards. Minnesota was unable to do anything with it late in the first half, but it prevented Nebraska for tacking on a few more points. Pierson-El again lost control of the football in the fourth quarter, this time at the two-yard line with Nebraska trailing 28-24. The fumble was again recovered by Minnesota, and one first down later the Gophers were able to run the clock out on Nebraska.

Those fumbles were the only two turnovers in the game, and it proved costly for the Huskers, who now once again are starting to stare right in the face of another nine-win season to keep some pressure on Bo Pelini as head coach. Nebraska was unable to keep wraps on Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner, who had a terrific afternoon. Leidner was not particularly accurate, but he passed for 135 yards and led the team running for 110 yards and two touchdowns. David Cobb added 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown. Abdullah and a handful of Huskers had to be treated for medical attention at various points during the game. It was a rough afternoon for Nebraska.

Now, Minnesota is in a winner-take-all situation next week against rival Wisconsin. Minnesota will hit the road once more to take on the Badgers for Paul Bunyan’s Ax and a share of the Big Ten West championship. Wisconsin still has a game to play, but the result of that game will not matter, at least in terms of the Big Ten West. No matter how next week plays out, Jerry Kill has to be gaining some consideration for coach of the year recognition.

Nebraska will play its final game of the regular season next Friday, after Thanksgiving, at Iowa. The Huskers cannot win the Big Ten West, but Iowa is still alive with a win over Wisconsin.

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The Marshall Plan: Buckeyes regroup, stake claim to B1G East title

Indiana v Ohio State

It was far from pretty, and featured very little (ahem) “game control” on the favorite’s part throughout most of it, but a win is a win is a win.

Thanks in large part to an embattled and beleaguered special teams until, No. 6 Ohio State, anywhere from 32- to 35-point favorites coming in, was able to flip momentum midway through the third quarter and rode it to a closer-than-expected 42-27 win over 3-8 Indiana in Columbus.  IU now has a 22-game winless streak against OSU dating back to 1988.

The win clinches the Big Ten East for the 10-1 Buckeyes, and sends them to the Big Ten championship game next month.  Were it not for a pair of plays from the special teams, however, OSU very well could’ve been forced to wait until Week 14 to clinch.

Trailing 14-13 at the half, the Hoosiers stunned the Ohio Stadium crowd with 7:17 left in the third quarter as Tevin Coleman raced 90 yards for a touchdown to put IU up 20-14.  While the Buckeyes were forced to punt on the ensuing possession, Ray Guy Award candidate Cameron Johnson pinned the Hoosiers on their own one-yard line.  The Buckeyes’ defense stiffened in forcing a three-and-out and a punt, which was promptly returned 54 yards for a touchdown by Jalin Marshall.

Up 21-20 with just over two minutes left in the third, OSU gradually pulled away as Marshall scored a second touchdown — a six-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett that was the quarterback’s 31st of the season, breaking Troy Smith school record — very early in the fourth quarter… and then a third, a one-handed scoring catch from 15 yards out… and then a fourth on a short “pass” he took 54 yards to the end zone to account for the final score on the OSU side of the ledger.

Barrett, in the running for a mid-December road trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony, rebounded from a miserable two-pick first half to put together a solid albeit unspectacular game, at least based on the high standards he’s set for himself since the Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech.  In completing 25-of-35 passes, Barrett threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns.  He’s now tied with Purdue’s Drew Brees for the Big Ten record of total touchdowns in a season (42) as the redshirt freshman now has 33 passing and nine rushing scores in his first year as a starter.

The breakout star of the game, however, was Marshall.  He accounted for four touchdowns, all in the last two quarters, after entering the game with four touchdowns in the first 42 quarters of the season.  The most remarkable aspect of Marshall’s scoring outburst?  He only touched the ball seven times all game, and ended up with 151 all-purpose yards.

Ezekiel Elliott paced the Buckeyes’ running attack with 107 yards, his fifth 100-yard effort of the season.  Coleman, one of the most underrated backs in the country, gashed the Buckeyes’ defense for 228 yards on 27 carries, his fourth 200-yard game of the season.  The last two weeks, both losses, Coleman totaled 535 yards on the ground.

Coleman also accounted for all three of the Hoosiers’ touchdowns, with two of them coming on runs of 90 yards and 52 in the second half to close out the scoring.

As stated earlier a win is a win is a win, but it’s a win that could very well spell trouble for the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff rankings.

After struggling on the road against woeful Kansas last week, TCU was dropped to No. 5 in the most recent rankings by the CFP committee.  OSU, sitting at No. 6 in those rankings, could very well suffer a similar fate and be leapfrogged by the likes of Baylor come Tuesday.  One thing is all but certain: barring upsets later today and even as the win over Minnesota last week looks even better today, the sixth-ranked Buckeyes won’t be moving up when the Top 25 is released in three days.

Another known is that OSU, which closes out the 2014 regular season next week in The Game against Michigan, will be playing in its second consecutive conference championship game.  Just who its opponent will be won’t be decided until next week as the winner of the Wisconsin-Minnesota game — in Madison — will claim the Big Ten West and a spot opposite OSU in Indianapolis.

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Spartans start and finish strong in efficient win over Rutgers

Jeremy Langford, Delon Stephenson

If you needed to see No. 11 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) play a complete game to remind you how good they can be, you got it. Connor Cook passed for 254 yards and two touchdowns and Jeremy Langford rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns as the Spartans finished up the home portion of its schedule with a 45-3 drubbing of Rutgers (6-5, 2-5 Big Ten).

Michigan State rolled out to a 35-0 lead in the first half before Rutgers could put three points on the board late in the third quarter. The Spartans were excellent on third down conversion attempts and were two-for-two on fourth downs. Michigan State piled up over 500 yards of offense and held Rutgers to roughly half of that total. It was just complete domination from start to finish for Michigan State.

Michigan State will play its final game of the regular season next week on the road at Penn State. The winner of the game will receive the Land Grant Trophy, which is currently possessed by the Spartans. One more win by Michigan State could very well make the Spartans an attractive at-large option, but that may only come into play if Ohio State is not in the College Football Playoff.

Rutgers will end the season on the road against Maryland. Both Rutgers and Maryland are already bowl eligible, but positioniong in the Big Ten East standings could be on the line.

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Michigan’s interim AD expects to make decision on Brady Hoke’s future

Jim Hackett

Jim Hackett‘s first major decision as interim athletic director at the University of Michigan may be to hire Brady Hoke‘s replacement.

Hackett was officially appointed the school’s interim athletic director Thursday, and he met with the media for the first time Saturday.

According to ESPN.com’s Dan Murphy, Hackett stated the school doesn’t plan on hiring a permanent athletic director before making a decision on Hoke’s future or potentially finding a replacement.

Hackett wouldn’t discuss Hoke’s status, though.

“We have a football coach who has had a long history of being a good coach,” Hackett said. “He knows we’re not where we need to be right now.”

With two regular season games remaining, including today’s contest against the Maryland Terrapins, the acting athletic director won’t make a snap judgement. He expects to let the regular season play itself out before a decision is made.

“I watch how people behave in adversity,” Hackett said. “These guys have shown up every week and played hard. I’m also proud of the coaches’ ability to work extremely hard during that situation.”

At 5-5 overall, Hoke still has an opportunity in front of him to make an impression. A win against Maryland will make the team bowl eligible. If the Wolverines can upset the rival Ohio State Buckeyes a week later, Hoke could be in position to retain his job.

It doesn’t seem likely, but Hackett appears willing to give Hoke a chance before he makes an official decision.

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Washington State overcomes late surge for halftime lead at ASU

Luke Falk

Arizona State looked to be in a great position to win the Pac-12 South and wiggle into the College Football Playoff with a couple of things going their way. Now the Sun Devils are just looking to find a way out of a home game against Washington State to stay alive in the Pac-12 South title hunt. The visiting Cougars looked to be dominating the game in the first half, but two turnovers have led to Arizona State storming back to tie things up at 21-21. A late field goal gave the Cougars a 24-21 lead at the break.

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk has passed for 256 yards and two touchdowns, with both touchdown scores coming in the second quarter. Falk also scored the first touchdown of the game with a one-yard run in the first quarter. But the quarterback has been picked off twice, and each time Arizona State has reached the end zone on the ensuing possession.

Arizona State may have picked up some life late in the first half with Taylor Kelly leading the offense downfield for a late touchdown. A 42-yard pass to Cameron Smith went for a touchdown and made it a one-score game. Perhaps that will be the play that changes the momentum of this game in the second half for the Sun Devils. Before the close of the half, Arizona State’s Marcus Hardison picked off a Falk pass at returned it 12 yards for a great scoring opportunity from the Washington State 13-yard line. Two plays later, Kelly connected with Frederick Gammage for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Here is something else to keep in mind as you figure out this Pac-12 South situation. If Arizona State does lose this game, USC can clinch the division later tonight with a win against UCLA.

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Virginia Tech and Wake Forest fail to dent scoreboard in first half

Michael Brewer

In what has been one of the ugliest games of the early Saturday afternoon slate, Virgina Tech and Wake Forest are locked in quite a defensive battle. Or rather, neither offense has looked particularly good in this ACC bout. At the half, we are still awaiting the first points of the game.

At the half, the Hokes and Demon Deacons have combined to convert three out of 15 third down conversions for first downs. Virginia Tech has put together 132 yards of offense, while Wake Forest has mustered just 79 yards. Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer has completed 12 of 17 passes for 99 yards, and the running game has struggled with a lack of depth this week. J.C. Coleman leads the team with seven rushes for 20 yards.

Wake Forest had a chance to put a dent on the scoreboard, but Mike Weaver‘s 42-yard field goal attempt was no good.

Wake Forest has been ineligible for postseason play for a few weeks now, but Virginia Tech’s postseason fate is still on the line coming down the stretch this season. The Hokies are one win shy of clinching bowl eligibility with today’s game and next week’s regular-season finale against Virginia left to play.

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Nebraska special teams comes up with big play for first half cushion

Tommy Armstrong Jr.

Nebraska football players may be struggling to stay on the field, but the Huskers are looking to bounce back after a bad loss at Wisconsin to remain in the Big Ten west title hunt. Minnesota is also looking to rebound off a loss to Ohio State, and the Gophers have done well in slowing down the Nebraska running game. But the Huskers own the 21-7 lead at the half, and they have the special teams to thank for padding the lead.

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah has not had much of an impact on the game so far, looking to be playing at under 100 percent. He did, however, open the scoring with a short touchdown run to finish off a quick five-play, 84-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. Minnesota responded later in the first quarter when Mitch Leidner picked up a short touchdown run from one yard out to cap a nine-play, 71-yard answer.

Nebraska took a lead on a catch by De’Mornay Pierson-El. Pierson-El caught a pass from Armstrong just shy of the end zone, reached for the goal line and barely got the ball to break the goal line before losing control of the football. Minnesota pounced on the loose ball, but Big Ten officials ruled the touchdown good and instant replay upheld the call on the field.

Minnesota had a chance to cut into the lead later in the second quarter, but a 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and returned by Nate Gerry for a touchdown. The play turned out to be a 10-point swing and turned a potential four-point game into a 14-point game. Adding to the impact of the play was the fact

Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell had to be taken off the field by medical trainers in the first quarter. Bell appeared to leave for a head injury at the end of a 73-yard pass play. Late in the first half, Abdullah needed assistance as well. Given his recent history, the concern has to be pretty high at the half.

Randy Gregory walked off the field with medical trainers late in the first quarter. He did return in the second quarter.

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Michigan State has terrific game control of Rutgers at the half

Michigan State v Maryland Getty Images

Still with a shot to win the Big Ten East Division, if it gets major help from Indiana and Michigan, the Michigan State Spartans are looking to finish the regular season on a strong note in Big Ten play. So far, in the home finale to the 2014 season, Michigan State is pummeling its new Big Ten division opponents from Rutgers. The Spartans have dominated from start to finish against the visiting Scarlet Knights and lead 21-0 at the half.

Spartans running back Jeremy Langford has rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns, including a 38-yard scoring run in the second quarter. Quarterback Connor Cook has played well in passing for 205 yards and two touchdowns. The Spartans have converted seven of eight third downs for first downs, and the one time they failed they picked it up on fourth down anyway.

Michigan State’s defense is looking the way you probably expect Michigan State’s defense to look. Rutgers has been held to 16 yards of offense and quarterback Gary Nova has been picked off twice. Rutgers has picked up just two third down conversions on eight attempts.

Marcus Rush went to the locker room with a right shoulder injury in the first quarter. Rush entered the game with 33 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks this season.

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Turnover-prone Buckeyes stumble way to first-half lead on Hoosiers

Urban Meyer AP

30 minutes — and cleaning up the ineptness — is all that stands between No. 6 Ohio State and an early-December working vacation in Indianapolis.  Whether they are making enough of a positive impression on the College Football Playoff committee to take an early-January trip to the semifinals is another matter entirely.

The game against 3-7 Indiana began with quite the impression, with OSU scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions allowing it to jump out to a quick 14-0 lead less than halfway through the first quarter.  An extended game of hot potato subsequently ensued, however, resulting in turnovers on three consecutive possessions — a Michael Thomas fumble followed by interceptions on back-to-back drives by J.T. Barrett.

The Hoosiers, which beat SEC East leader Missouri earlier this season, turned those three turnovers into six points and trailed 14-13 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.  The Buckeyes then proceeded to go three-and-out on its last two full possessions to put an exclamation point on a miserable last 23 or so minutes of the half.

To the surprise of just about everyone, the Buckeyes, up 14-13, took just a one-point lead into the locker room, a showing that will do little for its playoff standing if the shoddy play continues into the second half.

Barrett, who has quickly become a bigger part of the Heisman conversation of late, has seen the stiff-armed momentum at least temporarily slowed.  While the redshirt freshman completed 10-of-13 passes, and tied the single-season school record for touchdown passes (Troy Smith, 30, 2006), he had the two costly interceptions.

Both of those picks, incidentally, were by IU’s Antonio Allen.

If the Buckeyes hold onto the lead for the final two quarters, they will claim the Big Ten East and represent the division in the Dec. 6 Big Ten championship game.  OSU would also clinch the division today with a Michigan State loss, although MSU is currently up on Rutgers 35-0 late in the second quarter.

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Ohio State will honor Troy Smith before Michigan game

2007 BCS National Championship Game: Florida v Ohio State Getty Images

Ohio State will honor one of its greats from the Jim Tressel era of Buckeyes football. Prior to the regular season finale against Michigan, Ohio State will honor Troy Smith‘s No. 10 jersey number and display it in Ohio Stadium. The number will not be retired, but will be the eighth number put on display around Ohio Stadium.

Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, was 3-0 against Michigan, so honoring him before a game against the Wolverines seems appropriate. Smith was one of the bets players to play during Tressel’s career as Ohio State head coach, and he was the quarterback of some of Ohio State’s best teams of the past 15 years.

“It’s time to honor one of our all-time greats,” Gene Smith, university Vice President and Director of Athletics, said this week. “Troy’s playing days are over. His accomplishments and achievements as an Ohio State Buckeye are legendary. And we are so proud to be able to recognize this young man by honoring his name and number in Ohio Stadium.”

Smith’s uniform number is currently being worn by freshman defensive end Jalyn Holmes. Holmes will continue to wear the uniform number, as the number is not being retired.

“Being recognized like this from such a prestigious university like The Ohio State University usually doesn’t happen until later years down the line,” Smith said in  statement shared by Ohio State. “So this is a special time in my life and an important time.”

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After Texas Tech dismissal, former three-star safety expects to transfer

A month ago, the Texas Tech Red Raiders lost a key contributor to their secondary when junior safety Josh Keys was kicked out of the program.

Keys, who was a three-star recruit from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, finally discussed the reason behind his dismissal with WreckEm247.com.

The safety was eventually removed from the program after a second failed drug test.

“I don’t like the way it happened,” Keys told WreckEm247.com’s Daniel Paulling. “I want to learn from my mistakes.”

Prior to the dismissal, Keys registered 14 tackles in five games while serving as the team’s primary backup at both safety positions.

The junior defensive back wants to start over again with another program. He’s currently taking classes at Texas Tech and expects to transfer during the spring semester.

“I’m still looking around; see what’s out there for me,” Keys said.

Keys originally chose to play at Texas Tech over offers from the Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Baylor Bears, Georgia Bulldogs, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Ole Miss Rebels and Tennessee Volunteers. The safety held 20 total offers.

Whether or not those programs that were previously interested in Keys will remain so after his issues at Texas Tech isn’t known. However, it may be in Keys’ best interests to transfer to an FCS program in order to avoid the one-year transfer rule between FBS programs.

Although, his dismissal from Texas Tech’s program could allow him to be eligible next season based on the “run-off rule”, which allows an athlete to be immediately eligible if they’re still in good academic standing and the previous school files paperwork which confirms the athlete isn’t invited back to the program.

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Eight-team playoff system preferred by coaches

College Football Playoff Announces The College Football Playoff Selection Committee - News Conference Getty Images

With less than one year in the new College Football Playoff system, coaches and at least one commissioner are already breaking ranks and not fully supporting the new setup.

According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, 44 percent of 103 coaches who participated in a poll preferred an eight-team playoff structure. Only 29 percent preferred the current setup. While 17 percent want to expand the playoff to 16 teams.

“Most of the coaches who want an eight-team playoff believe it should consist of the conference champions from the Power 5 leagues plus the next three highest-ranked at-large teams, or the top-ranked Group of 5 champion and the two highest-ranked at-large teams,” McMurphy reported.

The poll comes on the heels of ACC commissioner John Swofford saying teams — and, by extension, conferences — will be unhappy once the final playoff rankings are released.

“I don’t think all the controversy’s going to go away,” Swofford told The Herald-Sun. “You have four teams that get a chance to play for the national championship, which is twice as many as before, but whoever’s fifth or sixth is not going to be happy. There will be some conferences that won’t have a team in the playoff.”

Commissioners are already preparing for the possibility of not having a team among college football’s final four. Currently, the Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences would be left out of the mix based on the current rankings.

However, change isn’t expected any time soon. The current agreement for a four-team playoff is in place for the next 12 years, and College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said that “there has been no discussion of expanding.”

Even though Swofford views an eight-team playoff as “ideal” and the majority of coaches currently support that notion, it’s not going to happen any time soon.

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Brian Kelly, Dabo Swinney latest to deny interest in Florida opening

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Florida v Cincinnati Getty Images

Since Will Muschamp was officially dismissed as Florida’s head coach — even though he’ll continue to coach the Gators for the rest of this season — multiple high-profile head coaches already denied any interest in the opening.

It started with Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. Stoops, who is the favorite in Las Vegas to eventually claim the job, quickly squashed any rumors a day after Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley made his decision.

“All I want to be is a candidate at Oklahoma,” Stoops said during a conference call Monday. “I’m not a candidate anywhere else. I’m finished with that question.”

A 69-year-old Steve Spurrier isn’t making a triumphant return to Gainesville either.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn followed suit Tuesday by saying he was “totally committed” to the Tigers program, per Al.com.

Two more denials came Friday.

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly joked about the possibility of leaving South Bend for sunny Florida.

“I’m going to Florida — in about two weeks to get some sun,” Kelly told WNDU.com. “I’m getting out of here with this weather. What are you, kidding me? So you can write that down. I’m going to Florida. Write it down now, get it out there get it on the news waves.”

When reporters followed Kelly’s sarcastic response with a direct question about the coach’s interest in Florida, the Notre Dame coach continued to lay it on thick.

“Oh yeah. I’ve been interested in the Florida job,” Kelly said. “What else am I up for anything else? Can I be up for the Notre Dame job? Because we are 7-3 right now, [and] I’m hoping to hold on to this job.”

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was more direct with his answer regarding any interest in the opening.

“The more you sit around and talk about that kind of stuff, the more of a distraction it is,” Swinney said. “I love my job. I just signed a long-term contract because of that. And this is a place that’s special to me. And I’ve invested a lot here. My focus is 100 percent on winning here.”

Two reasons prompt these blanket denials.

First, no coach is going to express interest in the middle of the season. It’s detrimental to his team’s progress on the field and recruiting off of it.

Second, Florida is no longer considered one of the elite jobs. It’s close, but it doesn’t fall in the same category as Alabama, Ohio State or Texas anymore.

“If those elite jobs are a 10, Florida is a 9.5,” a source told USA TODAY.

Despite being in a talent-rich state as one of the highest-profile programs in the nation, Florida has fallen behind in regards to facilities. It’s still a desirable job, but it’s not quite as enticing for these top coaches as it used to be.

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UPDATE: Weather forces kickoff shuffling in Houston but not in Waco

Thunderstorm Lightning

In Buffalo, it was massive snowstorm that first caused the postponement, then the rescheduling, and finally the cancellation of a MAC football game this week.  Saturday, it will be a different weather system affecting an AAC contest.  And, possibly, a Big 12 one as well.

Friday, Houston announced that the kickoff time for Saturday’s game against Tulsa has been moved up.  Instead of putting foot to pigskin at 2:00 p.m. ET, the start will come three hours earlier at 11 a.m. ET (10 a.m. local time).

From the UH’s press release:

Administration from the University of Houston Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has been in consultation with the National Weather Service, the American Athletic Conference and the University of Tulsa in making the decision to move Saturday’s game time.

Courtesy of the Weather Channel, here’s Saturday’s forecast:

Houston Forecast

It’s not just Houston, either, when it comes to the potential for severe weather in the state of Texas that could impact games.

Baylor and North Texas both play at home in Week 13. Especially when it comes to the former’s game against Oklahoma State tomorrow night, heavy rain — and perhaps thunderstorms — could be an issue during the contest, with talk that kickoff for BU-OSU could be moved as well.

According to ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy, not only is an adjustment of the kickoff time being discussed, but there’s also talk of moving the game to Sunday. That, though, would be “a last resort” a source told McMurphy.

UPDATE (5:45 p.m. ET):  Baylor University released a statement Friday that Saturday’s contest against the Oklahoma State Cowboys will proceed as planned.

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