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The Fifth Quarter: Week 4 Rewind

Clemson v Florida State Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

Guess who’s back… Back again…
Earlier this week on this lil’ ol’ website, the question was posed asking whether Florida State was back after years of keeping the national stage at arm’s length.  Consider that question answered in the affirmative.  And with (late-game) authority.  Early on, though, the Seminoles were staggering, with No. 10 Clemson holding a 28-14 lead early in the third quarter and seemingly having the No. 4 team in the country on the ropes.  Then, all offensive hell broke loose for the ‘Noles.  In a span of just under 17 minutes, FSU exploded for 35 points to send the crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium into a frenzy and, ultimately, home ecstatic with a resounding 49-37 thumping.  The win puts the Seminoles in the ACC driver’s seat — FSU will be significant favorites every single conference game the remainder of the season — and, depending on how things shake out above them, could find themselves in the same seat when it comes to the chase for the BcS title chase.  Of course, there are still several obstacles to navigate, none more obvious than themselves and shooting their own foot.  For now, though, every sign points to the Seminoles very much being back.

A RB graveyard in Corvallis
Apparently, Oregon State is the place where top-flight running backs go to die.  In two games this season, OSU has limited Wisconsin’s Montee Ball — third in the country last season in rushing yards — to 61 yards on 15 carries and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin — the nation’s leading rusher entering this weekend’s game — to 45 yards on 12 carries.  Neither player scored a touchdown.  The Beavers turnaround in that phase of the game is nothing short of astounding.  Last season, OSU ranked 101st in the country, allowing 193.8 rushing yards per game in winning just three games; this season, OSU, 2-0 after their win over the No. 19 Bruins, is giving up just 53.5 yards per game.

Here he comes to Stave the day
The most notable change at the quarterback position this weekend came courtesy of Wisconsin, with the Badgers taking the reins of their offense out of the hands of Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien and handing them to Joel Stave.  And, at least for one game, the redshirt freshman made the UW coaching staff look like a bunch of Norman Einsteins.  In his first collegiate start, Stave threw for 147 yards — in the first half; the Badgers came into the game with UTEP averaging 156.3, a total “good” for 117th out of 124 FBS programs.  For the game, Stave threw for 210 yards — the return of wide receiver Jared Abbrederis certainly helped the first-time starter — as the Badgers held off the Miners 37-26.

Red-hot, dead sexy MACtion
MAC football: it’s not just for Wednesdays any more.  On Saturday, The Little Midwest Conference That Could finished the day with a 6-3 record in non-conference games.  It was the victories, however, that were the story of the day as four of those wins came against members of BcS conferences — Kansas, 30-23 losers to Northern Illinois; USF, 30-27 losers to Ball State; Iowa, 32-31 losers to Central Michigan; and UConn, 30-24 losers to Western Michigan.  Not only that, but Eastern Michigan hung with a ranked Michigan State team through three and a half quarters, as did Akron vs. Tennessee; in fact, the only blowout in MAC vs. BcS matchups Saturday was Virginia Tech’s 37-0 drubbing of Bowling Green.  Add in a 4-0 Ohio University team that should be ranked somewhere inside the Top 25, and it’s shaping up like the MAC could be the best football conference in that area of the country and yes I’m looking directly at you B1G.

AIRBHG on sabbatical?
You have no doubt heard of the curse of the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God, with the Hawkeyes losing somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 players at the position to on-field injuries and/or off-field “issues” the past several years.  The fullback position is another animal entirely, as Mark Weisman proved Saturday afternoon.  The former walk-on rushed for a career-high 217 yards — the Hawkeyes as a team rushed for 215 — and scored three of Iowa’s four touchdowns.  In the end, however, the AIRBHG had the last laugh as Central Michigan, after recovering an onside kick with less than a minute left, kicked a 47-yard field goal with three seconds left to give the Chips a stunning 32-31 win over the Hawkeyes.

LOSERS

Mizzou’s rude welcome to SEC continues
Well, that’s no way to treat the new guy, is it?  After Georgia spoiled Missouri’s SEC coming-out party two weeks ago in a physical 21-point beatdown, South Carolina dominated the Tigers in every phase of the game, pushing and bullying its way to an easy 31-10 win.  That leaves Mizzou 0-2 in conference play, with games against old-man football teams such as Alabama and Florida among others remaining.  Granted, Mizzou has faced the two preseason favorites in the SEC East, but the Tigers had been hoping to send an early-season message to rest of the league.  They’ve actually done that, but it’s not the message they would’ve preferred: simply put, the Tigers aren’t nearly ready to compete with the best the East has to offer, let alone the best that the conference serves up annually.

The forward pass in South Bend
This all you need to know about the aerial circus, replete with clowns and a bearded lady, that reared its ugly head in South Bend Saturday: the last five passes Michigan attempted in the first half were all intercepted by Notre Dame — four by Denard Robinson, one by Vincent Smith.  All told, seven were intercepted between the two teams; the two by the Irish were courtesy of starter Everett Golson, who was promptly yanked in favor of Tommy Rees.  Fortunately for the Wolverines, that was the last of the picks, although Robinson was kind enough to lose a fumble on the first possession of the third quarter.  Unfortunately, the combination of the turnovers and the Irish defense was too much to overcome as the Wolverines fell to 2-2 with the 13-6 loss.

Ramblin’ Wrecked
For the second time in four weeks, Georgia Tech has lost an ACC heartbreaker, with this one likely costing the Yellow Jackets any slim hopes they’d entertained of making a trip to the conference championship game.  In today’s loss to Miami, Tech fell behind 19-0… only to score the next 36 points… only to see The U score the final 23 points, including a touchdown in overtime that gave Miami a 42-36 win.  That game-winning touchdown came after Tech, with the initial possession of the extra session and eschewing a chippie field goal attempt, failed to convert a fourth-and-one from the two-yard line.  Combine that with a three-point overtime loss to Virginia Tech in the season opener, and the Miami game was the back-end of a fatal one-two conference sucker punch to Tech’s gut.

No Moore equals much less for Boise
With the losses of Kellen Moore, Doug Martin and a whole host of other veteran starters, it was widely assumed that Boise State would struggle, especially on offense and early on in the season.  The struggles on that side of the ball, however, have been of a magnitude that no one could’ve reasonably predicted.  During the last three years with Moore under center, the Broncos never finished fifth in scoring and didn’t average less than 42 points a season.  Prior to the ugly win over BYU, BSU was 83rd in the country averaging 26 points per game, totals that will no doubt drop following their seven-point output against the Cougars.  Chris Petersen‘s track record says he will right the Broncos’ listing offensive ship; how soon that happens will determine whether the Broncos can once again crash the BcS postseason party.

Straight up the Wazzu
The highly-anticipated Mike Leach era at Washington State has been one long and  resounding thud.  A 24-point loss to BYU to open the season, then wins over FCS-level Eastern Washington and winless UNLV by a combined total of 12 points.  And then the biggest thud of all: a home loss to Colorado, a “football team” with an under-fire head coach and had just the week before given up 55 points and over 500 yards of total offense in the first half to Fresno State.  And had lost to Colorado State and FCS-level Sacramento State.  For Wazzu to lose a game against a team like that after leading by 17 in the fourth quarter is inexcusable and unacceptable, as explained by CFT correspondent Max Cady:

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

– No. 2 LSU 12, Auburn 10: Facing a road game against an opponent whose lone 2012 win came against Louisiana-Monroe in overtime, the Tigers escaped with win over Auburn.  It wasn’t pretty, but in the big conference picture, a win is a win is a win.  I wouldn’t think the Tigers would drop more than a spot in the polls, but you can never really tell which way the shifting voter winds will blow.

– No. 8 West Virginia 31, Maryland 21: I was on the fence about including this one, but the woeful state of Terrapin football proved to be the tipping point.  The Terps were actually tied with the Mountaineers in Morgantown midway through the second quarter and had outgained the explosive WVU offense by 70 yards.  WVU, as expected, pulled away for a double-digit win, but the fact that the Terps hung around for so long was eyebrow raising to say the least.

– No. 16 Ohio State 29, UAB 15: Trailing 9-0 late in the first half, and leading just 21-16 late in the fourth, Braxton Miller‘s second touchdown of the game — he now has 16 scores (seven passing, nine rushing) in four games — put the game away for the Buckeyes.  A perfect 4-0 in the first season under Urban Meyer, OSU will face its first real test of the season as they travel to East Lansing to face No. 21 Michigan State.

– No. 20 Louisville 28, FIU 20: The Cardinals trailed for the first time this season — 14-7 in the middle of the second quarter — before pulling away with 21 unanswered points in its fourth win to start the season.

– No. 21 Michigan State 16, Eastern Michigan 7: Like the Buckeyes, the Spartans were trailing a lesser opponent in the first half, with MSU actually trailing the Eagles late into the third quarter.  Based on this game and the overall start to the season, if MSU is the best the Big Ten has to offer then the conference is in for a very long, extremely embarrassing 2012 bowl season.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — The Tide has outscored its opponents 168-21 in four games and likely won’t be tested for the first time this season — hello, Michigan!!! — until Oct. 27 against No. 23 Mississippi State.  Or the following weekend at No. 2 LSU. (Last week: No. 1)
Up next: vs. Ole Miss

2. Florida State — An emphatic statement win indeed, one that’s been a long-time coming for the storied football program. (Last week: No. 4)
Up next: at USF

3. Oregon — Take a Top-25 team to the woodshed?  Stay right where you are, courtesy of FSU’s own woodshedding of a ranked foe. (Last week: No. 3)
Up next: at Washington State

4. LSU — Win by two points over an unranked team, regardless of whether it’s on the road against a conference foe?  Take two steps back, please. (Last week: No. 2)
Up next: vs. Towson

5. Kansas State —  Go on the road and beat the No. 6 team in the country?  Go ahead and leapfrog numerous teams and right into this lil’ Top Five. (Last week: unranked)
Up next: vs. Kansas

COACHING HOT SEAT
A weekly look at some of the current head coaches who could most likely be an ex-head coaches by season’s end — if not sooner.

– Arkansas’ John L. Smith: The past three weeks, Smith’s Razorbacks have lost to the Sun Belt’s Louisiana-Monroe; were woodshedded by Alabama in a shutout loss; and, Saturday, lost to Rutgers.  All of those losses came at home.  For all intents and purposes, Smith was a one-year rental to bridge the gap between the dismissed Bobby Petrino and a permanent replacement.  Based on the past three games, Smith has all but assured that will indeed be the case.  And will likely burn the bridge down in the process.

– Kentucky’s Joker Phillips: An ugly loss to Florida — which included Phillips sticking with in-over-his-head quarterback Morgan Newton, he of the three first-half interceptions — dropped the Wildcats to 1-3 on the season.  Phillips will be lucky to survive the entire season, let alone making it to 2013 on the Wildcats sideline.

– Auburn’s Gene Chizik: For the first time since 1998, the Tigers have started a season 1-3.  For the first time since 1980, AU’s started SEC play 0-2.  We’ll reiterate a stat that says it all about Chizik’s tenure at AU.  With Cam Newton as his quarterback, Chizik is 14-0; without Newton, Chizik is 17-13 overall and 7-11 in SEC play.  In his career, Chizik is 22-30 as a head coach when he’s Cam-less.  If there is such a thing, a two-point setback to the No. 2 team in the country would qualify as a good loss.  For a program like AU and in a conference like the SEC, claiming moral victories is a sure sign you’re headed in the wrong direction.

HE SAID IT
“I don’t need any questions today.” — South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, channeling his inner Lane Kiffin, after giving his opening statement and promptly walking out of his postgame press conference.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
Tennessee has always had beautiful athletes.” — Akron head coach Terry Bowden, following the Zips loss to the Vols.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– After missing on his first throw of the day, Connor Shaw completed the final 20 passes he attempted in South Carolina’s taming of Missouri.  The FBS single-game record, incidentally, is 26 in a row set by East Carolina’s Dominique Davis in 2011.  Shaw can break Davis’ record of 36 straight completions over two games next week against Kentucky.

EJ Manuel and Chris Thompson combined to account for 585 of Florida State’s 667 yards of total offense — 380 yards passing for Manuel; 103 yards rushing for Thompson; and 102 yards rushing for Manuel.

– Oregon State’s Sean Mannion set a career-high in passing with 379 yards in the Beavers upset of UCLA.

– Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 253 yards in the win over Eastern Michigan.

– West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, second in the country in receptions per game entering today’s tilt with Maryland, caught 13 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the Mountaineers’ 31-21 win over the Terps.

– A first-quarter fumble in the game against UTEP was the first fumble Montee Ball had lost during his career at Wisconsin.  The fumble came on his 655th carry as a Badger.  Ball ultimately left the game with a head injury in the first half and did not return.

Dustin Harris set a Texas A&M and SEC record with 246 yards worth of punt returns in the Aggies’ 70-14 win over South Carolina State.  He averaged nearly 31 yards on his eight returns, which included a 96-yarder for a touchdown.

– A first-half reception gave Syracuse’s Alec Lemon 140 for his career, breaking the school record of 139 previously held by Scott Schwedes (1983-86) and Shelby Hill (1990-93).

– Arizona took six trips into the red zone in its loss to Oregon, and failed to come away with any points on any of those visits.

– It took a little over 182 minutes of play this season for Iowa to record its first touchdown pass, a 10-yard toss from James Vandenberg to Kevonte Martin-Manley.  Army and UConn also threw their first touchdown passes of the season, leaving Air Force as the lone FBS team with no scoring plays through the air.

– Wake Forest’s run defense has given up a staggering 814 yards rushing the past two weeks — 385 in a loss to Florida State last weekend, 429 in a win over Army this weekend.  Last season, Alabama gave up just 938 yards in 13 games.  Speaking of which…

– An FAU touchdown with 2:46 left in the game was the first points No. 1 Alabama’s defense had given up since the third quarter of the season-opening win over Michigan, a span of 192:28.  This season, the Tide has outscored its four opponents 168-21.

– Nebraska scored 45 points and rolled up 362 yards of total offense in the first half alone of its blowout win over FCS-level Idaho State.  That number represented the most the Cornhuskers have scored in two quarters since scoring 52 points against Baylor in the first half in October of 2000.

– In Georgia’s 48-3 win over Vanderbilt, the 2012 Bulldogs became the first team in the program’s history to score 40-plus points in consecutive games.

– Ohio State’s win over UAB was the 400th for the Buckeyes in the history of Ohio Stadium.

– Florida’s win over Kentucky was the school’s 26th straight over the Mildcats.  In other streak news, Penn State has now won 30 consecutive games it’s played against Temple.

– On the strength of its 17-10 win over Syracuse, Minnesota has started a season 4-0 for the first time since 2008.  And, if you want to talk about the state of the Big Ten, digest this little nugget: the Gophers and Northwestern are the conference’s only unbeaten teams that are eligible for the 2012 postseason.  Ouch.  The good news for the Big Ten?  Conference play begins next weekend, so the league is guaranteed to win half its games nearly every weekend.

– With a 31-19 win over Colorado State, Utah State has started a season 3-1 for the first time since 1978.  Senior running back Kerwynn Williams rushed for a career-high 205 yards and scored two touchdowns in the victory.

– North Carolina’s seven sacks in a win over East Carolina was the most for a Tar Heels team since 2000.

– Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke (no relation) threw for 730 yards and accounted for 791 yards of total offense in a 64-61 win over New Hampshire.  Those totals are the most ever in a single game at the Div. 1 level — FBS and FCS — and the third-most at any level.

– Derrick Henry, the No. 1 “athlete” in the Class of 2012, set a state of Florida record with 502 yards rushing in his high school football game Friday night.  Henry, who decommitted from Georgia earlier this year and is now believed to be leaning toward Alabama, broke the record of 501 yards set by Shawn Smith of Tampa Bay Tech back in 1985.

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Major Applewhite reportedly applies for SMU job

Texas v Texas Tech Getty Images

If SMU is looking for a permanent head coach with deep Texas roots, this reported candidate would certainly qualify.  There could be, though, at least a little controversy over his potential candidacy.

In his weekly “Nine Things and One Crazy Prediction” column, the Austin American-Statesman‘s Kirk Bohls writes that “I’m told former Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has applied at SMU, but he couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.” And that was the extent of the mini-report.

The Mustangs are currently searching for a replacement for June Jones, who abruptly resigned earlier this month. The athletic department is expected to cast a wide net in looking for a successor, and the 36-year-old Applewhite, if the school wants to go the “first-time head coach with Texas ties” route, could certainly be in play.

Applewhite was a Texas Longhorn quarterback from 1998-2001, then served the next three years as a UT grad assistant. In between stints at Syracuse (2005) and Alabama (2007), Applewhite was the offensive coordinator at Rice. Then, from 2008-14, he served on Mack Brown‘s staff in various capacities: co-offensive coordinator, assistant head coach, running backs coach and quarterbacks coach.

Applewhite, though, would come to SMU with some, well, major baggage.

In January of 2013, Texas acknowledged in a press release that “Applewhite [had] engaged in inappropriate, albeit consensual, [sexual] behavior with an adult student during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl trip.” Applewhite acknowledged in a statement at the time that “[s]everal years ago, I made a regretful decision resulting in behavior that was totally inappropriate.”

Despite the controversy, Applewhite remained on staff for the 2013 season.  Upon the hiring of head coach Charlie Strong, however, Applewhite was given a one-year severance.

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Ex-USC player suing Kiffin, Trojans

USC v Arizona State Getty Images

With new coordinator Lane Kiffin on board, Alabama’s offense is off to a prolific and potentially historic start.

Thanks to Kiffin’s past, however, an issue has popped up that’ll serve as at least a minor inconvenience, if not an outright distraction.

Multiple media outlets reported late Monday night that Brian Baucham filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday in which Kiffin and his former employer, USC, are named as defendants. The Los Angeles Times writes that the former Trojan football player claimed in the suit that Kiffin and the school “were negligent by forcing him to play in a game when he was ill and that they did not follow the school’s injury-plan guidelines, leaving Baucham with cardiopulmonary damage and brain injury.”

On September 22 of 2012, nearly a year to the day prior to Kiffin being fired as USC’s head coach, Baucham fell ill during a game against Cal and was taken from the stadium to a local hospital via ambulance. He remained in the intensive care unit on a ventilator for two days before being released a short time later. He never played another down of football.

The lawsuit also claims that USC medical personnel told the player he was in no condition to play, but that the coaching staff played him anyway. “USC and head coach Kiffin were clearly negligent and acted with conscious disregard for Brian’s welfare and safety by forcing him to play … despite his verified medical history and seriously ill condition,” one of Baucham’s lawyers, Bruce M. Brusavich, told the Associated Press.

The suit is seeking unspecified damages for the former cornerback, who just recently received his degree from the university.

Kiffin has declined to comment on the suit, while USC’s athletic director offered the Times a very generic statement.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on this lawsuit, and due to privacy laws we cannot comment on the specifics of this case,” Pat Haden said. “I will say that I am confident that we provide excellent medical treatment to our student athletes and that their health is always our primary concern ahead of any athletic competition.”

This isn’t the first time USC is facing a lawsuit over an ex-player’s medical claims. In a lawsuit filed in late August of 2012, former USC defensive tackle Armond Armstead claimed that “team doctors repeatedly administered a painkiller to him that gave him a heart attack, and that after he recovered the school blocked his attempts to transfer and cost him a shot at the National Football League.”

Armstead wasn’t selected in the 2012 NFL draft, nor did he sign as an undrafted rookie that year.  After brief stints with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts (2012) and the New England Patriots (2013), Armstead retired from football in July of this year.

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UW Huskies lose RB Callier to another season-ending injury

Jesse Callier

For the second time in three seasons, Jesse Callier will see a season come to a premature end thanks to an injury.

According to both the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune, the running back has a ruptured Achilles tendon and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.  Callier suffered the injury on the opening kickoff of Washington’s win over Georgia State Saturday.

“That’s a hard one to take, just a guy that’s a senior and some of the things that he’s been through,” head coach Chris Petersen said. “He’s doing such a great job for us. So that’s hard.”

Callier also missed most of the 2012 season with a torn ACL suffered in the first quarter of the season opener, so the fifth-year senior would seemingly be eligible for a sixth season from the NCAA. However, both the Times and News Tribune wrote that the injury effectively ends his collegiate career.

Thus, Callier will apparently end his collegiate career with 997 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He also caught 36 passes coming out of the backfield.

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Texas may get TE Greg Daniels back in time for Kansas on Saturday

Valero Alamo Bowl - Oregon v Texas Getty Images

In what was a fairly newsy news conference Monday in Austin, Charlie Strong announced that suspended players Daje JohnsonDemsond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle will remain suspended, and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes pulled a Joe Namath and said that his 1-2 Longhorns had their sights set on the College Football Playoff.

There was a bit of tangible, realistic, good news for the Longhorns on Monday, that tight end/glorified offensive lineman Greg Daniels is progressing toward seeing the field for the first time this season.

Daniels has not seen the field this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in August. The time table at that point pointed toward an Oct 11 return against Oklahoma, so he appears to be ahead of schedule.

The senior has mostly been used as an extra blocker in his 25 career games after beginning his career on the defensive line. He has eight career catches for 118 yards; Daniels’ claim to fame was catching a 47-yard pass on Texas’ first play from scrimmage during UT’s 33-7 win over Iowa State way back in 2012, a play the Longhorns ran out of the Wishbone in tribute of the recently-passed Darrell Royal. That play was called by then-Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who has taken two jobs since then. So, yeah, it’s been a while since Daniels contributed anything of substance in the passing game.

But Daniels’ return to the field would still be an upgrade. Tight ends M.J. McFarland and Geoff Swaim have combined to produce five receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown thus far this season, so it’s not as if that position is a major portion of the passing game in the first place. Pairing Swaim with Daniels would give the ‘Horns two above-average blocking tight ends and, considering the state of the offensive line, that would be a sorely needed advantage.

Texas travels to Kansas on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).

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UMass reportedly close to adding games with Tennessee, BYU and Army

Massachusetts v Vanderbilt Getty Images

After getting kicked out of the nest by the Mid-American Conference, Massachusetts football is currently falling to the ground at a rapid rate, hoping it can flap its wings and fly on its own before its body meets the dirt. The Minutemen will play their final season as a football-only member of the MAC in 2015, and will compete as an independent in 2016 and 2017, with anything beyond that still to be determined.

Considering the Minutemen are 2-26 since moving to FBS in 2012, getting back down to FCS as fast as possible should be on the table for 2018 and beyond, but a discussion for another time.

For now, athletics director John McCutcheon has the unenviable task of building a schedule as an FBS independent without the established history of Notre Dame, BYU or Army (Navy is dropping out of the independent game after this season.)

One of the challenges of filling a full, 12-game schedule is finding November games, when most of college football is knee-deep in conference races. But UMass has found an unlikely ally: the Southeastern Conference. SEC teams usually take a week off of conference play in November, and McCutcheon is poised to take advantage of that by securing a game and a paycheck in lining up a game at Tennessee for a game in November 2017.

The game between the Volunteers and Minutemen would be the first.

According to Matt Vautor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, UMass is set to announce games against fellow opponents BYU and Army past part of announcement for 2016-17 that will include as many as 10 games.

UMass currently has games lined up against Florida, Connecticut, Boston College, Rhoad Island and Old Dominion for 2016, and dates with Connecticut, Old Dominion, Temple and Indiana for 2017, according to scheduling tracker FBSchedules.com.

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Vanderbilt suspends RB Brian Kimbrow indefinitely

Brian Kimbrow

Vanderbilt running back Brian Kimbrow has rushed just once this season, a six-yard loss that resulted in a fumble. Sadly, that may be his only quote-unquote contribution to the team this fall, as head coach Derek Mason announced Monday that is his junior running back has been suspended indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

“No one player is bigger than the team. We’re not going to comment on anything else. It’s always about team,” Mason said Monday evening on his call-in radio show, according to The Tennessean.

Vanderbilt (1-2) ranks 105th nationally with 477 rushing yards, averaging 119.3 yards per game and 3.85 yards per carry. Redshirt freshman leads the ‘Dores in rushing with 77 carries for 377 yards.

Kimbrow has 748 career rushing yards with six touchdowns. A heralded pick up out of Memphis for former coach James Franklin, Kimbrow rushed for 413 yards as a freshman and 314 as a sophomore. Considering he may be stuck at minus-6 for his junior campaign, and that’s a pretty telling statement about the direction Kimbrow’s career is headed.

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Photo: Michigan giving away two free tickets to Minnesota game (with purchase of Coke products!)

Brady Hoke

You know it’s bad when the student newspaper is printing headlines like “Clock’s Ticking, Brady.” But perhaps the most accurate depiction of where Michigan football sits under Brady Hoke is this picture being passed around social media on Monday.

The Wolverines have drawn more than 100,000 to the Big House for 254 consecutive games – a streak the maize and blue protects more ferociously than a mother cougar guards its young. And with enthusiasm and confidence in the program sinking to Rich Rod-era lows (or worse?), Michigan brass has apparently decided to link up with Coca-Cola in hopes of filling Michigan Stadium.

Of course, by counting season ticket holders, media members, peanut vendors, janitors and anyone else who happens to wander inside the gates, Michigan will announce more than 100,000 no matter how many bleachers go untouched.

With Hoke waiting until Tuesday to make a decision on Saturday’s starter, it’s apparent now he needs to make the right decision. He needs to beat Minnesota.

Update: Michigan is pulling the promotion immediately. Whether it really was an unauthorized promotion, that somehow surely passed by a number of desks before the material above saw the light of day, or if this is the result of NFL-style “reaction is bad, so let’s change direction” public relations remains to be seen.

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Despite report of immediate eligibility, OU QB Mayfield remains in college football purgatory

Baker Mayfield

There was a report Monday from KWTV-TV sports director Dean Blevins that Oklahoma transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s appeal to the NCAA has been granted, giving the former Texas Tech gunslinger the chance to play immediately.

“Baker Mayfield finally caught a break. And so did the Oklahoma Sooners,” Blevins reported. “The talented Texas Tech transfer won his appeal with the NCAA and has been granted a third year of eligibility. He is thus is immediately eligible to play for the No. 4/No. 3-ranked Sooners.”

But it’s not that simple, reports Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman. Nothing is inside the jungle that is NCAA eligibility.

According to Aber, Mayfield’s status has been something of a collective bargaining discussion between Oklahoma, Texas Tech and the Big 12. Big 12 rules require players lose a year of eligibility for intra-conference transfers.

Even if Mayfield does not play this season, there is the possibility of Mayfield keeping his extra year of eligibility in exchange for sitting out 2014. “Sources close to the situation said there have been discussions between OU, Texas Tech and the Big 12 about the possibility of Mayfield retaining a year of eligibility if he doesn’t play this season,” Aber writes.

Mayfield met with the NCAA on Friday and, citing sources close to the quarterback, Aber writes that Oklahoma may at least win the right to put Mayfield on scholarship retroactive to the beginning of the fall semester.

Texas Tech has denied Mayfield’s transfer, and maintained that stance ever since the move was announced in December.

As a true freshman in 2013, Mayfield paid for the privilege of tossing a dozen touchdowns and 218 completions for 2,315 yards in eight games.

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Virginia K Ian Frye went 4-for-4 while his dad suffered heart attack in the stands

Ian Frye, Rob Burns, Zachary Swanson

Virginia kicker Ian Frye made all seven of his kicks Saturday, three extra points and field goals from 23, 41, 22 and 46 yards, during the Cavaliers’ 41-33 loss at No. 20 BYU on Saturday. Turns out, his day was much more impressive than any of us realized.

In a story that was told during the team’s Monday press conference and relayed over the Cavs’ official Twitter account, Frye’s father Mark suffered a heart attack inside the LaVell Edwards Stadium during the game.

Frye was notified while coming off the field for halftime – moments after he knocked in a 22-yarder to give Virginia a 16-13 lead – and was notified of the situation. Outside the locker room, Frye witnessed his father, clearly in pain, and being attended to by paramedics.

Frye checked on his father multiple times throughout the break, but remained with the team at Mark’s insistence. While receiving updates throughout the second half, Frye only informed three of his teammates, fellow kickers Dylan Sims and Alec Vozelinik and long snapper Tyler Shirley. Despite that weighing heavily on his mind, Frye knocked in a 46-yard field goal to keep Virginia within 27-19, and extra points to pull the Cavs within 34-26 and 41-33. Following the game, Frye was shuttled to the hospital, where he discovered his father, recovering from surgery and watching college football.

Frye was very complimentary of the BYU staff, especially athletics director Tom Holmoe, who visited Mark at the hospital and even brought him food.

Thankfully, with dad Mark’s health secure, the story can end on a happy note that brings everything full circle.

Considering the circumstances, I would say Frye certainly deserves it.

(Helmet sticker to Vanquish the Foe)

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Vols dismiss freshman RB Treyvon Paulk after domestic incident

KNOXVILLE, TN - Football Headshots

Somewhat abruptly, Tennessee’s present and future depth at the running back position has taken a bit of a hit.

According to Wes Rucker of GoVols247.com, head coach Butch Jones announced Monday afternoon that true freshman Treyvon Paulk has been summarily dismissed from the football team.  The dismissal was triggered by what Jones described as a “personal conduct” issue.

While Jones refused to elaborate on what led to the dismissal, it appears it was triggered by a rather significant off-field incident.  From Rucker’s post on the dismissal:

Paulk… struck his ex-girlfriend at a party over the weekend, according to a release from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Paulk “became agitated and struck her in the mouth with his fist” at the party, according to the KCSO release, which cited the incident report.

Paulk’s girlfriend — noted in the report as 18-year-old Chelsea Reece — had multiple cuts to her lips but refused medical assistance, according to the report.

The alleged victim declined to press charges.

Paulk was a three-star member of the Vols’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 12 all-purpose running back in the country and the No. 37 player at any position in the state of Georgia.  He didn’t play in any games this season as he continues recovering from a torn ACL he sustained his senior year of high school.

(Photo credit: Tennessee athletics)

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‘Miscommunication’ led to Jameis Winston dressing for Clemson game

Clemson v Florida State Getty Images

Jameis Winston was highly criticized in numerous corners, including here, for an “incident” over the weekend.

The Florida State quarterback was suspended for the Clemson game because of a vulgar and obscene incident earlier in the week. Winston dressed out in full football gear for pregame warmups, much to the chagrin of an incredulous Jimbo Fisher, who sent his starting quarterback to the locker room to change into street clothes.

Monday, Fisher was asked about the situation. In falling on the sword, the head coach took the blame for what he called the “miscommunication” that led to the brouhaha.

“That was a miscommunication between us and the locker room,” the head coach said Monday. “He was scheduled to dress the next day and the stuff was in the locker. He assumed he was going to dress in warmups and he went out. It got miscommunicated from our part. We should have never had (his uniform) in the locker. We saw it, corrected it. He was great about it. He went in and came back out.

“That was one part that slipped through the cracks getting that communication to the equipment people.”

That said, Fisher continued taking Winston for his decision-making and judgments that have led to situations like the one that got him suspended in the first place.

“He’s got to be smarter about these decisions and the things he says and does,” Fisher said. “You can have fun but you can’t do it at the expense of others or circumstance or situations. There’s an example and a respect you have to have for your organization and your family.

“Jameis is not a bad individual. He makes some poor choices on spontaneous situations to make people laugh. He does like interacting with students (to show) that he’s not a guy that can’t relate with (the students because he’s a high-profile athlete). He needs to continue to do that but he needs to do it with better judgment.”

Winston was replaced by Sean Maguire for the Clemson game, with the first-time starter helping the Seminoles pull off the overtime win.  In the first extended action of his career, Maguire completed 21-of-39 passes for 304 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.  The redshirt sophomore’s scoring toss was a 74-yarder to Rashad Greene with 6:04 remaining in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 17-all and essentially forced overtime.

As expected, though, Winston will be back under center for this Saturday’s game against North Carolina State after serving his one-game penance.

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Three suspended Texas starters will remain that way

Daje Johnson AP

For those Texas fans looking for some offensive help to return this week, and as it looks to continue its run to the College Football Playoff, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer.

At his weekly Monday press conference, head coach Charlie Strong confirmed that any player who is currently suspended will remain that way.  That means wide receiver Daje Johnson as well as offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle will not play in Saturday’s game against Kansas.

Harrison and Johnson were two of three Longhorn players — the other safety Josh Turnersuspended indefinitely in early August by Strong for violating unspecified team rules.

Turner has since dug his way out of Strong’s doghouse, while Estelle, Harrison and Johnson have yet to play in a game this year.

Getting Johnson back would certainly help the Longhorns’ offense — provided he stayed on the straight and narrow, which has proved to be elusive during his time in Austin.

Last year, Johnson missed two different late-season games because of off-field issues. He and teammate Chet Moss were suspended for the Thanksgiving gameagainst Texas Tech, then he was declared academically ineligible for the Alamo Bowl against Oregon.

When healthy — and staying out of trouble — Johnson totaled 757 all-purpose yards in 2013 and started six games in 2013. Johnson scored three touchdowns — one each rushing, receiving and on a punt return — along with being one of the team’s top return specialists.

An ankle injury cost Johnson playing time early last season as well.

Estelle and Kennedy were the projected starters at both tackle positions prior whatever issue it was that led to their suspensions.

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Beavers lose leading receiver for at least a game

Oregon State v Hawaii

Thanks to an injury, Oregon State’s receiving corps will be missing a key component for the Pac-12 opener this coming weekend.

Sunday night, head coach Mike Riley revealed that Victor Bolden will be out for a period of 10-14 days with a finger injury.  Bolden suffered the injury in the first half of the win over San Diego State last Saturday night.

The timeline means the receiver will definitely be sidelined for the USC game this Saturday.  He could also miss the Colorado game the following weekend as well.

The injury news is a significant blow to the Beavers’ offense.

Bolden currently leads the team with 18 for 192 yards.  Because of Bolden’s injury, The Oregonian writes, “OSU coaches are considering burning true freshman Xavier Hawkins‘ redshirt.”

Bolden’s backup, Rahmel Dockery, suffered a hip injury in the same game but is expected to practice this week and, barring a setback, play against the Trojans. Dockery has one catch for 49 yards this season.

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QB decision coming Tuesday for Michigan

Michigan v Connecticut Getty Images

Will Michigan have a new starter under center when it takes the field this weekend?  In 24 hours or so, UM Nation should know for sure.

Tuesday, head coach Brady Hoke said Monday, he and his offensive coaching staff will decide whether Devin Gardner, the incumbent, or Shane Morris, the people’s choice, will start Saturday’s game against Minnesota.  Gardner was yanked in the fourth quarter of the 26-10 home loss to Utah in favor of Morris, laying the groundwork for this development.

Gardner has been a lightning rod for criticism for the past year and a half, with his play on the field giving critics plenty of ammunition.

In 16 starts the past two seasons, Gardner has thrown 17 interceptions versus just 26 touchdown passes.  He’s also been sacked a whopping 43 times, and while that’s a byproduct of a porous offensive line it’s also an indicator that Gardner struggles in the pocket with his reads and progressions and the like.

Gardner started every game last season before a foot injury he suffered in the loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale sidelined him for the Wolverines’ bowl game.  In his first career start, and as a true freshman no less, Morris completed 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards and an interception as UM dropped a 31-14 decision to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

While Gardner was at one time quoted as saying that “it was amazing how much better [quarterback competition this spring] made me,” the incumbent at the position –despite his pre-spring proclamation— exited the 15 practice sessions without a firm grasp on the starting job.  That thought was buttressed as, at the end of spring practice in mid-April, Hoke acknowledged that Morris had narrowed the gap on Gardner.

While Gardner ultimately “won” the starting job, he’s had a tenuous hold on it as he’s thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five) through four games.

As for how Round 2 of the competition will be decided?

Efficiency, that’s part of it,” Hoke said when asked what will go into the decision-making process. “Competing and challenging. Who comes out of the week with the best practices and who gives us the best chance to go in and win the football game.

“There’s also the leadership end of it, too. Who commands the offense (better)? And they’ve both done a really good job all year with that, I don’t expect any of that to change.”

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Tyrone Swoopes expects Texas to make playoffs… this year

UCLA v Texas Getty Images

Charlie Strong raised some eyebrows earlier this year when he stated the obvious by saying that Texas “will not be in the national championship game” this year.

That made sense on multiple levels, including the fact that the Longhorns have a 30-21 record over the last four years and simply don’t have the talent yet to compete with the game’s heavyweights. Don’t, though, tell that to UT’s starting quarterback.

Despite the 1-2 start to the season that includes a 37-point blowout loss at home to BYU, Tyrone Swoopes maintains very, very lofty goals for the Longhorns in 2014. A goal that most, even those wearing burnt orange-colored glasses, would find irrational and downright laughable.

OK then.  Are we sure the right Texas quarterback retired from the game because of concussion issues?

Either Swoopes doesn’t understand how the new system of determining a national champion or how many teams are involved, or he’s transferring because there is no way in hell UT is qualifying for this year’s College Football Playoff. Well, I guess there’s a chance the Longhorns could run the table on the remainder of their schedule, which includes Top 10-ranked Oklahoma and Baylor, and Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, Auburn, Texas A&M, etc. could all stumble twice each, clearing the way for Swoopes to make a liar out of Strong’s preseason proclamation… sorry, couldn’t finish typing that sentence with a straight face.

It’s one thing to be confidant in yourself and your teammates; it’s another to turn a blind eye to the reality of your situation. Or, as Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News put it…

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