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The Fifth Quarter: Week 7 Rewind

LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles celebrates with his team after winning their NCAA football game against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana AP

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

WINNERS

Not geauxing away quite yet
Left for dead by some following a 14-6 loss to then-No. 8 Florida last weekend, LSU faced an equally stiff test in unbeaten and third-ranked South Carolina… and passed with the gritty flair only a Les Miles-coached team can muster.  Down 14-10 in the fourth quarter and struggling again points-wise on offense, the Tigers “exploded” for 13 unanswered points to get themselves right back in the SEC West picture with a 23-21 win.  The math for LSU is simple: win out, and the Tigers will, for the second straight year, represent the West in the SEC championship game.  While the math is simple, the actual execution is a tad more difficult as, in the next three weeks, the Tigers will face No. 22 Texas A&M in College Station, and No. 1 Alabama and No. 19 Mississippi State at home.  Given where the Tigers were just a week ago this morning, however, I think Miles feels good about his team having the ability successfully navigate that daunting scheduling gauntlet.

Tide rolls… again
And the beat goes on for the 2012 edition of the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide.  With their 42-10 woodshedding of Missouri, the Tide has now outscored its opponents this season 243-45 in their six wins.  In the win over Mizzou, the Tide’s defense gave up 152 yards of total offense — the Tigers had been averaging 356 per game — and allowed a miserly .9 yards per carry (26 yards on 28 attempts).  Alabama has conference games the next two weeks against Tennessee (away) and No. 19 Mississippi State (away) — WARNING TIDE: DANGER AHEAD — before heading to Death Valley for its highly-anticipated re-rematch with No. 9 LSU. Based on how the first half of the regular season has gone, and especially based on Gary Pinkel‘s postgame comments (see below), those may be little more than bumps in the road on the Tide’s way to, first, Atlanta and then south to Miami.

Niiice Beaaavers
Coming off a win over Washington State that propelled them into the Top 10 for the first time in several seasons, No. 10 Oregon State was brought back to earth with news that star quarterback Sean Mannion would miss several weeks due to injury.  While some thought this weekend’s game against a BYU team that had given up just 10 points the last three games made the Beavers ripe for an upset, Cody Vaz would have none of that.  All the junior did in place of Mannion was throw for 332 yards and three touchdowns — and no interceptions — in a 42-24 win over the Cougars that marked Vaz’s first career start at the collegiate level and assured yet another stop at In-N-Out.  Vaz proved the top-10 stage was not too big for him, which is a good thing for the Beavers as he’s expected to be under center for an extended period of time.

Pluck of the Irish
Yes, it was ugly, old school (old man?) football played in the rain.  Yes, it wasn’t without a controversial ending (writer’s note: it should’ve been touchdown, Stanford).  Yes, in non-italics, it was a bad call on the part of the Pac-12 officials working the game.  Despite all of that, No. 7 Notre Dame’s 20-13 overtime win over Stanford was yet another data point heavily intimating that, by gosh, the Irish may indeed be back.  Three of Notre Dame’s six wins have come against teams that were, at game time, ranked inside the Top 20, including the No. 17 Cardinal.  Certainly to some degree the luster is off wins over Michigan and Michigan State given their recent performances, particularly the latter, but it doesn’t change the fact that all the Irish continue to do is find a way to grind out a win week after week after week.  Are they BcS-worthy?  That’s for coaches, Harris voters and computers to decide.  What’s not up for debate is the fact that Brian Kelly has the Irish, at minimum, ready to turn a corner that will lead them back toward the national discussion.

Badger Up!
Thanks to NCAA sanctions levied on Ohio State and Penn State — the only unbeatens amongst the Leaders in Big Ten play — the Wisconsin-Purdue game set up as a battle for first place in the division.  Thanks to Montee Ball, it was a Grenada-style battle for the Badgers.  The senior rushed for a season- and career-high 249 yards — the Badgers as a team rushed for a season-high 467 yards — and three touchdowns, setting a Big Ten career mark in the process.  Even as Wisconsin is just 2-1 in conference play with five games left, they are firmly in control of their own Indianapolis destiny as the other three post-season-eligible teams in the division — Purdue (0-2), Illinois (0-3) and Indiana (0-3) — are winless and, most importantly, largely hapless.  The season began with UW widely expected to easily punch its ticket to the Big Ten championship game in early December; while it’s been rougher than expected, that’s exactly the tack on which the Badgers currently find themselves.

One if by air… x3
Navy came into Friday night’s game with Central Michigan tied for dead last among the 124 FBS teams — Army and New Mexico being the others — with just one touchdown pass through five games.  So, of course, Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds went out and tossed three touchdowns in the 31-13 win over the Chips.  Reynolds, making his first collegiate start no less, became the the first Navy signal caller to accomplish that feat since Chris McCoy against Colgate in 1997, and was just one of the school record set by Tom Forrestal way back in 1957.

LOSERS

The defense rests, as does WVU’s title hopes
You just knew that, at some point this season, No. 5 West Virginia’s “defense” would cost the Mountaineers at least one game.  That point came Saturday in Lubbock, although the much-maligned defense had some help from an unexpected source.  Yes, the Mountaineers gave up 676 yards to Texas Tech in the humiliating 49-14 loss, but it was the play of Geno Smith that was the most surprising aspect of the upset that effectively ends WVU’s BcS title hopes.  Coming into the game as far and away the Heisman favorite, Smith, simply put, imploded in the Lubbock winds.  Smith was held to just 275 yards passing, his second-lowest total of the season (268 against Texas last week), and he misfired on 26 of his 55 attempts; coming into the game, he had just 38 incompletions combined the first five games of the season.  Yes, he went without interception yet again, but, whatever part of the blame for the loss that isn’t put on the defense needs to be placed squarely on Smith’s right arm.  And that object sitting atop his neck.

Red River Blowout
For all the talk through the first few weeks of the season that Texas is “back” after a couple of non-UT-like years, the Longhorns have answered in resounding fashion the past two weeks that “hell no we ain’t,” at least against top-flight competition.  In back-to-back games against West Virginia and Oklahoma, a defense that was expected to be the linchpin of UT’s return has instead been eviscerated to the tune of 111 points and 1,137 yards of total offense.  The Sooners’ offense accounted for 63 of those points and 677 of the yards in the iconic rivalry game that wasn’t even as close as the 63-21 final score would indicate.  After starting the 2012 season 4-0 and reaching as high as No. 9 in the coaches’ poll, the Longhorns have all but officially been eliminated from any shot at its first Big 12 championship since 2009.

Reversal of misfortunes
Needing just one win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994, Duke jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Virginia Tech with 3:12 left in the first quarter.  In the final 48:12, however, the Blue Devils were outscored 41-0 as the Hokies came roaring back to slightly spoil one of the cooler stories of the 2012 season.  While the Blue Devils could still very well become bowl eligible at some point prior to the end of the season, their remaining schedule — home games with North Carolina, Clemson and Miami, road trips to Florida State and Georgia Tech — says that could be easier said than done; in the past eight years, Duke is 1-31 against those five schools, with the lone win coming against Clemson in 2004.

LaTech bandwagon
Numerous, numerous media types, and also people such as myself, had been pushing for what we saw as an underappreciated Louisiana Tech squad to be included in the Top 25 rankings.  When the Lil’ School That Could actually landed in the latest set of rankings, we all did a little nerdy happy dance.  A week later?  Yeah, not so much, although it wasn’t for a lack of effort on the scrappy Bulldogs part.  After digging themselves a 27-0 hole late in the second quarter, Tech came back to within a two-point conversion of tying the game at 59-all with :38 seconds left in the game.  A failed conversion and unsuccessful onside kick, though, ended any hope of a miraculous comeback and an upset win over the No. 22 team in the country.  Even in the loss, though, Tech head coach Sonny Dykes likely made himself a hell of a lot of future money, whether it be at his current school or when the next spinning of the coaching carousel comes to an end.

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

— No. 4 Florida 31, Vanderbilt 17: With 2:35 left in the fourth quarter, the Gators led the Commodores 24-17.  A 70-yard Jeff Driskel touchdown run 15 seconds later, however, iced the game for UF.

— No. 6 Kansas State 27, Iowa State 21: Taking down the giant-slaying Cyclones, in Ames no less, was no small feat for Bill Snyder‘s Wildcats.  If anything, this game should show voters that K-State is indeed the real deal and in this title chase — Big 12 and otherwise — for the long haul.

– No. 8 Ohio State 52, Indiana 49: The Buckeyes twice held 18-point fourth-quarter leads, but two touchdowns by the Hoosiers in a span of 35 seconds with under two minutes remaining closed the gap to three.  An IU attempt at a second straight onside kick recovery was unsuccessful and OSU held on for a very strange, odd win.

— No. 10 Oregon State 42, BYU 28: The Beavers were actually down by four with just under nine minutes left in the game before a pair of touchdowns effectively put the game out of reach.

— No. 11 USC 24, Washington 14: Twice in the past three seasons, the Huskies have handed the Trojans losses.  A 24-point first half ensured it wouldn’t happen three times in four years.

— No. 18 Louisville 45, Pittsburgh 35: While the final tally indicates a somewhat comfortable double-digit win, the Cardinals actually trailed at halftime before pulling away with four unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

— No. 19 Mississippi State 41, Tennessee 31: After the Vols had gotten back to within three with under six minutes left, the Bulldogs threw the final knockout punch with :09 seconds left to maintain its unblemished record.

— No. 20 Rutgers 23, Syracuse 15: It was far from pretty, but the Scarlet Knights were able to remain unbeaten with a gritty Big East win over the Orange.

— No. 24 Boise State 20, Fresno State 10: The Broncos are this week’s winner of our “win is a win is a win” award.

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’s 42-10 throttling of hapless, in-over-their-heads-in-the-SEC Mizzou in the Columbia rain will do nothing to curb the sense that UA’s on an inexorable march toward back-to-back BcS titles and three in four years. (Last 5Q: No. 1)
Up next: at Tennessee

2. Oregon: The Ducks’ bye weekend did nothing to sour just about anyone on their standing in the polls. (Last 5Q: No. 2)
Up next: at Arizona State

3. Florida: The win over LSU last weekend looks even more impressive after viewing it through the prism of the Tigers’ win over South Carolina this weekend. (Last 5Q: unranked)
Up next: vs. No. 3 South Carolina

4. Kansas State: Any team that can go into Ames as a highly-ranked team and beats a Paul Rhoads-coached squad deserves high praise, regardless of the margin of victory. (Last 5Q: No. 4)
Up next: at No. 5 West Virginia

5. Oregon State: Surprised?  Just watch where the BcS computers place the Beavers Sunday night.  (Last 5Q: unranked)
Up next: vs. Utah

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.

— Auburn’s Gene Chizik: 14-0 with Cam Newton, 22-34 without the Heisman winner in his collegiate coaching career.  A 1-5 start to this season has included back-to-back laughably embarrassing losses to moribund SEC West teams Arkansas and Ole Miss.  Chizik was also infamously 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State; his replacement, Paul Rhoads, has gone 22-22 in three-plus seasons.  Buyout or not, and barring an abrupt turnaround that’s seemingly not in the cards, it would defy logic for Chizik to make it to 2013.

— Kentucky’s Joker Phillips: 1-5 on the season, 12-19 in his two-plus seasons in Lexington.  And the loss to Arkansas may have been the low point; not only did the Wildcats surrender 533 yards of offense in the 49-7 loss, they did so in less than three full quarters of play as the game was called with 5:03 left in the third quarter due to weather.  Out of all the ones who may be on the proverbial hot seat, there appears to be a very significant chance that Phillips, as nice a guy as he is, will be among the first — if not the first — FBS head coach to get the ax in 2012.

HE SAID IT
“That is maybe the best football team I’ve ever seen. We will see, but I watched the film and couldn’t find a weakness.” — Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, talking after Alabama’s 42-10 dismantling of his Tigers.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“This is truly a place where opponents’ dreams go to die.” — LSU head coach Les Miles, following the Tigers win over South Carolina in Death Valley.

YOU DON’T SAY?
With 72 career touchdowns, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball now trails just Ricky Williams of Texas (75) and Travis Prentice of Miami of Ohio (78) for the most in FBS history.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— After Week 7 of the 2012 season, there are 16 teams that are bowl eligible — 10 from BcS conferences, five from non-BcS conferences.  The 16th?  Football-independent Notre Dame.

— The Texas A&M-Louisiana Tech game featured several spectacular individual performances as one could expect from a 59-57 shootout.  Aggies’ freshman quarterback Johnny “Johnny Football” Manziel accounted for 577 yards of total offense and six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing), the former breaking his own school and SEC marks set earlier this year.  In a losing effort, Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton caught 21 passes — yes, 21 — for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

— In that game, A&M and Tech combined for 1,306 yards of total offense — 690 for the former, 616 for the latter.  The Aggies were also penalized a whopping 19 times for 175 yards.

— With Texas Tech’s upset win over No. 5 West Virginia, Tommy Tuberville is now 6-2 in his career in games vs. teams ranked in the Top 5.

– In that win, Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege threw for 499 yards and six touchdowns.  Doege now has 21 touchdowns on the season, 49 in his last 18 games.

Eddie Lacy ran for a career-high 177 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns in Alabama’s win over Missouri.

Jeremy Hill‘s seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of the game against South Carolina was LSU’s first against an SEC foe since the fourth quarter of last year’s SEC championship game.  That’s a span of 14 quarters and 315 days, incidentally.

— In the first two games of the season, Mark Weisman rushed for eight yards on two carries.  In the four games since, the Iowa running back has rushed for 507 yards and seven touchdowns.  His 116 yards — his fourth straight 100-yard game — helped the Hawkeyes to an double-overtime win over Michigan State.

— Oklahoma running back Damien Williams‘ 95-yard touchdown run vs. Texas was the longest in the storied history of the Red River Shootout.

— In their game against Kentucky, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns in the first half.  For the weather-shortened game, Wilson finished with 372 yards and five touchdowns in the 49-7 win.

— In a literal homecoming game against Miami, Giovani Bernard rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns in North Carolina’s 18-14 win over the Hurricanes.

EJ Manuel threw for a career-high 439 yards and four touchdowns in No. 12 Florida State’s 51-7 waxing of Boston College.

Silas Redd, a transfer from Penn State, rushed for a season-high 155 yards in USC’s win over Washington.

— With 149 yards in the close win over Indiana, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has now rushed for 100-plus yards in all three Big Ten games and in five of the Buckeyes’ seven wins this season.  He’s also just 88 yards away from eclipsing the 1,000-yard plateau for the season.

— Arizona State sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly (no relation) tossed five touchdown passes in the Sun Devils’ 51-17 thumping of woeful Colorado Thursday night.  Kelly now has 11 touchdown passes the last three games after starting the season with just three in his first three games.

— The 402 points career points for Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins are the most in ACC and fifth in NCAA history.

— Utah State’s defense was credited with a school-record 13 sacks in the Aggies’ dominating 49-21 win over San Jose State.  USU had just 14 sacks entering the game.

— The attendance for the Kansas State-Iowa State game officially announced at 56,800, making it the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game in Ames.

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Through seven weeks of the season, Maryland (2-0) is the only ACC team without a loss in conference play.  Yep, the Mayans were right…

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Texas loses CB Sheroid Evans for spring ball

Texas v UCLA

All the eyes of Texas are currently focused on the Longhorns’ ongoing basketball search, but Charlie Strong held an availability Wednesday evening where he confirmed an earlier report from Orangebloods.com that cornerback Sheroid Evans would miss the rest of the spring with a knee injury.

The injury occurred on a non-contact play during Saturday’s practice. Strong declined to offer further detail.

A four-star recruit out of Sugar Land, Texas, Evans has forever been on the cusp of real playing time before succumbing to injury. Evans suffered an ACL injury in October of 2013 and redshirted the entire 2014 season. He’s appeared in 27 career games but started none of them. A decorated track athlete, Evans has a 10.39 100-meter dash on his resume.

Redshirt freshmen John Bonney and Jermaine Roberts figure to see increased reps in Evans’ absence.

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Conference USA announces a number of date changes

Rice-North Texas football

New football schedules are always subject to change after television approval as Conference USA learned Wednesday.

The conference announced changes to nine games, all due to TV. The changes go as follows:

– Sunday, Sept. 6: Purdue at Marshall
– Thursday, Sept. 10: Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky
– Friday, Sept. 11: Miami at Florida Atlantic
– Friday, Oct. 2: Temple at Charlotte
– Friday, Oct. 9: Southern Miss at Marshall
– Thursday, Oct. 15: Western Kentucky at North Texas
– Friday, Oct. 30: Louisiana Tech at Rice
– Friday, Nov. 6: Rice at UTEP
– Friday, Nov. 27: Marshall at Western Kentucky

While the league has not yet announced its official television slate, look for these games to be shown on either Fox Sports 1 or CBS Sports Network.

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Four new bowls apply for 2015-16 certifications, potentially bringing total to 43

It’s kind of funny, really. The reason given for so long that a College Football Playoff could not exist – eventual bracket creep that would inevitably ruin bowl season – has already consumed the bowl industry.

According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy – the Edward R. Murrow of the bowl industry – the 2015-16 bowl season could have as many as 43 games after Orlando, Fla., Austin, Tex., Tucson, Ariz., and Little Rock, Ark., applied for certifications ahead of the NCAA deadline.

Forty-three bowl games equates to 86 teams. That’s more than two-thirds of FBS membership and well above the number of annual eligible teams based on current qualification standards. “Wednesday was the deadline for cities seeking to add a new bowl. The NCAA will make a decision in a few weeks whether to approve the games,” McMurphy notes.

Added an anonymous source: “As long as the standard to go to a bowl remains 6-6, commissioners will be pressured to have bowl games for all their conference teams to play in. That’s why you keep seeing more and more bowls added.”

The American Athletic Conference is the main source for the push. If each of the new games is approved, McMurphy notes, the AAC will have slots for nine of its 12 teams. So what we’re talking about is games between a 6-6 Temple and a a 6-6 Middle Tennessee.

Two things to note here:

1. Assuming all four games achieve certification that doesn’t necessarily mean there will actually be 43 bowl games following this season. Who’s to say fledgling bowl games in Birmingham or the like are actually coming back?

2. Ultimately, bowl games are exhibitions designed to draw television audiences. They’re TV shows. Those who care will watch and those who don’t will find something else to do. No one’s pointing a gun at anyone’s head here. If you complain about new bowl games while at the same time are not planning on watching the games your complaints are lobbied toward, one can only assume you also gather pitchforks and poster board every time Bravo announces its fall lineup.

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NFL Draft will be without both eligible Heisman Trophy winners

2015 NFL Scouting Combine

There have been years that have seen the NFL Draft have no Heisman Trophy winners attending, but never quite like this.

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has decided he will stay home in Hawaii for the NFL Draft, kindly turning down his invitation to travel to Chicago for the league’s grand event on the offseason calendar. Mariota’s decision comes not too long after Florida State’s Jameis Winston confirmed his intention to stay home in Alabama to watch the NFL Draft near his grandmother, who is unable to travel.

My memory may be a tad foggy at times, but I cannot recall any other year the NFL Draft has seen two Heisman Trophy winners voluntarily skip the draft festivities entirely. Has this ever happened? It is one thing to have no Heisman Trophy winners on hand because the player chose to return to school the following season (or was prevented from turning pro due to league requirements).

The last time a Heisman Trophy winner was not on hand for the NFL Draft was the 2007 NFL Draft when Ohio State’s Troy Smith ended up being drafted in the fifth round. In Smith’s case, the decision may not have been under his control entirely. His stock had dropped significantly following Ohio State’s BCS Championship Game drubbing at the hands of Urban Meyer and his Florida Gators at the end of the 2006 season. Not being invited and passing on an invite are two different things.

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Cincinnati Reds to honor national champion Ohio State

Urban Meyer, Eva Parziale

Baseball season starts up next week, which is one way to pass the time until the start of the new college football season for most around these parts. The Cincinnati Reds have some plans to honor the College Football Playoff national champions from Ohio State. The National League squad will honor the Buckeyes with the first ever Reds Country Athletic Achievement Award during pregame ceremonies at Great American Ball Park and head coach Urban Meyer will toss out the ceremonial first pitch.

In addition to Meyer throwing out the first pitch, members of the team will be on the field to hold a giant American flag during the singing of the National Anthem (which should probably just be performed by The Best Damn Band In The Land). Players and coaches will meet with fans during the first inning of the game and the national championship trophy will make an appearance along with Brutus Buckeye.

This must be a bit of a tough pill to swallow for Cincinnati Bearcat fans looking to enjoy an evening of baseball against the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates, but this is also a good way for Ohio State to continue to establish a presence in Cincinnati. Ohio State may dominate around the state of Ohio, but Cincinnati is still an area that is believed to need some work. But the night will have a charitable cause attached to it as well.

The Reds will donate $1 from each ticket sold to the game to the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research. A check for the total raised from ticket sales between now and April 7 will be presented to the Meyers before the start of the game.

Ohio State’s national championship team has already been honored in the state by a professional sports franchise. The Cleveland Cavaliers, with Ohio State fan LeBron James, honored the Buckeyes earlier this offseason. Have the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL done something similar for their college football neighbors?

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NCAA grants Maryland QB Caleb Rowe and 7 Terps medical hardship

Caleb Rowe

Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe was one of eight Terrapins players to receive an extra year of eligibility through a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall announced the eligibility updates on Wednesday.

Others on Maryland’s roster receiving an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA in addition to Rowe, according to The Washington Post, include defensive back Daniel Ezeagwu and Alvin Hill, tight end Andrew Isaacs, defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, wide receiver Taivon Jacobs, running back Albert Reid and linebacker Cavon Walker.

Rowe tore an ACL last October to bring his 2014 regular season to an early end. Before going down for the year after appearing in four games, Rowe passed for 489 yards and five touchdowns. Rowe will be Maryland’s most experienced quarterback returning in 2015 after C.J. Brown graduated. Maryland went to file for a medical hardship waiver in February for Rowe and other Maryland players.

Rowe is sitting out of spring practices. Running back Wes Brown is also taking it easy this spring while rehabbing from surgery on his torn labrum.

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With Big Ten approval, Jake Rudock takes another step toward Michigan

Jake Rudock

It has long been expected that quarterback Jake Rudock will transfer from Iowa to Michigan. That appears to be moving forward smoothly with reports the Big Ten has approved a waiver to allow Rudock to transfer and play immediately for the Wolverines.

Following up on a previous report that Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz had confirmed Iowa was allowing Rudock a chance to move without hassle, Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reported this morning (via Twitter) the Big Ten had approved a waiver request from Rudock. Rudock is a grad transfer so typical NCAA transfer rules would not normally come into play for him, but moving to another Big Ten institution tends to be a slightly different story. This will allow Rudock to transfer to another school within the conference and compete right away. Dan Murphy of EPSN later reported (via Twitter) the pending Rudock to Michigan move was coming together and Rudock will be available to play in Ann Arbor this fall.

Rudock visited Michigan earlier this offseason to get a sense of the program, adding a bit more fuel to the rumors he was considering a transfer to Michigan. He has lost his job at Iowa but will be given a fresh chance to compete for a role at Michigan as soon as he transfers. Michigan is searching for a new starting quarterback under new head coach Jim Harbaugh, and Rudock could have as good a chance as any currently enrolled option to win the starting job. It is a wide open competition right now and that should continue into the summer practices leading up to the start of the 2015 season.

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Hawaii does a schedule shuffle with Wisconsin, adds Army

UNLV v Hawaii

Hawaii recently added some new games to the non-conference line-up in the future years down the road, and that required making a few changes to existing contests on the books. The good people of FBSchedules.com (seriously, follow this site for all of your scheduling news) came across a few updates to Hawaii’s future scheduling. Among them was a change in date for a future game against Wisconsin and some additional games.

A game between Hawaii and Wisconsin originally scheduled for September 4, 2021 has been pushed back three years to August 31, 2024. The game will be played in Honolulu, as previously agreed upon. A game in Madison scheduled for September 17, 2022 has not changed.

Hawaii is also adding Army to the schedule with a home-and-home deal in 2022 and 2024. Army will host Hawaii on November 19, 2022. Army will travel to Hawaii on November 30, 2024 to complete the home-and-home arrangement. These games are in addition to a pair of games previously announced for 2018 and 2019.

Earlier this week Hawaii announced a home-and-home deal with Arizona.

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Charges against Alabama’s Jonathan Taylor to be reviewed as accuser jailed for lies to police

Jonathan Taylor

The accuser of Jonathan Taylor, the now former Alabama defensive lineman, has reportedly recanted her story, which will prompt the charges to be reviewed by authorities. Taylor was arrested Saturday on a domestic violence charge, which led to Alabama dismissing the player from the program the following day.

Tuscaloosa Police Department arrested Taylor after an accuser claimed a verbal confrontation between she and Taylor turned physical, which allegedly caused physical harm to the accuser’s neck and apartment property. Per Al.com, the accuser contacted police on Monday to recant her claims and told authorities she lied about some of the details regarding the incident. Police have charged her with false reporting to law enforcement and placed her in a county jail.

Taylor had been dismissed by Georgia last summer following an alleged domestic violence incident. Nick Saban decided to give Taylor a second chance and brought him into the Alabama program in January. Now, Saban has been forced to apologize for the situation. But if the charges are dropped, might there be a possible return to Alabama in the end? Alabama has already come down hard on Taylor, which would seem to make it difficult from a public relations perspective to welcome Taylor back. And that is assuming Taylor would want to return to Alabama.

For now it is simply best to let the legal process play itself out before making any guesses one way or the other.

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ACL injury is second for Arkansas RB Juan Day

Bret Bielema

Coming back from one ACL injury for a running back can be extremely difficult to do. Doing so a second time can be even tougher. Arkansas running back Juan Day will have to do just that.

Yesterday, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema announced Day suffered a torn ACL during the team’s last spring practice prior to spring break. Bielema said Day underwent surgery on Monday and is already focusing on recovery. This is the second time Day has injured his ACL, now with one ACL injury in each knee. His previous injury came in high school and forced him to sit out his senior season.

Due to the injury, Day will be out for the remainder of the spring. It is currently unknown what his status for the 2015 season will be. If rehab goes well, he could be available in time for the fall, but Bielema has a track record of looking out for the best health conditions of his players. This might suggest Day should not be expected to be rushed back to the field if it poses any legitimate threat to his knee.

Arkansas should still be in good shape in the running department without Day, although the depth will take a hit. Last season’s leading rushers, Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, are each back after separate 1,000-yard seasons and 24 combined touchdowns. Day was expected to be the third running back in the offense.

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BYU currently the biggest spring game draw, but not for long

The thick of the college football spring game activity is about to get going in the next few weeks, so these numbers will look much different in a short period of time. But for now, BYU reigns supreme in the world of spring football game attendance.

BYU reported an estimated turnout of 14,000 fans to its recent spring scrimmage. That is more than double what BYU saw for the 2014 spring game, which attracted a reported an estimated 6,500 fans. This also makes BYU the first school to break the 10,000-fan mark this spring, but they will not be the last. BYU more than doubled the turnout for Baylor’s rainy spring scrimmage (5,610) and Vanderbilt’s recent spring scrimmage (5,000). BYU also outdid a couple of other power conference programs; Colorado and Miami.

Here are the updated numbers from schools reporting a spring game attendance.

  1. BYU: 14,000
  2. Baylor: 5,610
  3. Vanderbilt: 5,000
  4. Colorado: 4,100
  5. Miami FL: 3,500
  6. USF: 3,200
  7. Fresno State: 1,500
  8. San Jose State: 500

San Diego State has not replied to a request for an attendance figure or estimate. Texas Tech did not track attendance after moving its scrimmage to another site due to stadium renovations. It is also important to remember these figures are all estimated totals. The odds each of these schools pulled in a total ending in a zero on the nearest hundred or thousand would be pretty unforgiving. We should also remind you each school handles its spring scrimmage differently, with some making more of a big deal of it than others. We will really see that come into play when we start getting totals from schools like Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama and Auburn in the coming weeks.

Navy and North Carolina did not hold a spring game. Duke and Air Force each held a closed scrimmage.

You can view the updated attendance records as they come in and are updated on this Google Doc, which will also break down the spring attendance by conference.

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Former USC Trojan Armstead gets his day in court against school next week

Oregon State v USC

Next week in Los Angeles will mark the beginning of a lawsuit between Armond Armstead against his former university, USC. Armstead accused the school of fraud, concealment and negligence at which he claims deprived him of a chance to play in the NFL.

The lawsuit was filed back in August 2012, but is just now getting ready to head to trial. The Sacramento Bee reports the case is scheduled to begin on April 6.

You may remember Armstead suffered a heart attack back in the spring of 2011. As the season got underway, Armstead’s status was still up in the air and word got out he was considering a transfer after he was given a redshirt for the season. Armstead is accusing the university’s staff of giving him painkillers that led to heart problems and of blocking possible transfers that prevented him from having a chance to play in the NFL.

Of course, Armstead did get his chance to play in the NFL. He was most recently on the roster of the New England Patriots. He was forced to retire from the game last July, well before the Patriots went on their latest Super Bowl run. The reason? More heart problems that surfaced in 2014.

If USC is to blame for Armstead’s health issues, the school will cut a nice check to Armstead. It should also raise awareness of how the medical staff today is handling the health of players, especially when it concerns prescribing and offering pain medication. With schools and conferences taking on more responsibility for player health, issues like this will continue to be a priority. Avoiding future lawsuits of this fashion should be the case as we move forward, whether USC is to blame for Armstead’s heart issues or not.

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Torn ACL sends Auburn cornerback to surgery

Outback Bowl - Auburn v Wisconsin

Auburn’s depth in the defensive backfield took a minor hit on Tuesday. T.J. Davis, who was expected to be competing for a starting job this spring, underwent surgery on a torn ACL.

According to Al.com, Davis suffered the torn ACL two weeks ago.

For now, all that is known is Davis will be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices. His status for the fall is to be determined. It used to be that a torn ACL could keep a player out for a whole year, although sometimes a player can battle back and rehab enough to have a shot to play in the fall if the injury is suffered early enough.

The timeline for Davis and his potential return to the field is far from confirmed at this moment.

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MAC takes stand vs. Indiana religious freedom law, will Big Ten follow?

Indianapolis Reacts To Indiana's Controversial Religious Freedom Act

The state of Indiana is being criticized left and right (well, mostly from the left) for the recent passing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The act would allow a business to refuse service to anyone person based solely on religious beliefs, which has been seen as giving the ability to refuse to provide business services to a member of the LGBT community. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s final games being played in Indianapolis this weekend has forced the NCAA to speak out about the act, and now the MAC has joined the chorus of critics of the new state law.

MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher says his conference will not hold any meetings or conference championships in the state of Indiana until the law is amended or repealed.

“The Mid-American Conference will not schedule any more meetings or championships in Indiana until this current matter is brought to a sensible and appropriate conclusion,” Steinbrecher said to ESPN.

As far as football is concerned, not much is at stake. The conference typically holds its football conference championship game in Detroit, Michigan. The same goes for the conference’s football media day event. Ball State is the only member of the conference residing in the state of Indiana, which effectively means the school cannot host any other conference championship event sin other sports. This statement will not prevent Ball State from hosting MAC schools in conference competition as part of the regular season scheduling.

As of now, the only thing scheduled by the MAC to take place in Indiana is the annual presidents meetings in January or February of 2016. Those meetings will be held elsewhere if no changes are made to the state laws.

It is good to see the MAC make this statement, but it remains to be seen if the Big Ten will take a similar stand. If it does, the Big Ten could lend an even stronger voice for change to the law considering the financial impact that is attached to the Big Ten’s investment in Indiana, more specifically in Indianapolis. The Big Ten hosts its conference championship game in Indianapolis as well as the men’s basketball tournament on a fairly regular basis (nine times since 2002 and scheduled to return in 2016). The Big Ten also has two members inside the state of Indiana, with plenty of alumni attached to them.

For now the Big Ten has gone so far to publicly state it is reviewing the situation. It has not made any hard decisions one way or the other at this time. All things considered, this is not a terrible decision to make when so much is at stake for the conference and the state. It can sometimes be best to wait to find out all of the information before making any major decisions regarding the future of the conference.

In a world that can be influenced heavily by the opinions and demands of big corporate names and brands, Indiana could be forced to rethink some things if the Big Ten hops aboard with a threat to pull out of the state.

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Following arrest, Alabama dismisses RB Tyren Jones

Florida Atlantc v Alabama

Alabama has dismissed Tyren Jones from the football program after being arrested earlier in the day. The university announced the dismissal early Tuesday evening.

The dismissal of Jones comes just hours after an earlier report of his arrest on Tuesday. Jones was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana. Jones was already serving a team suspension by head coach Nick Saban, who himself has come under fire for some of the decisions revolving around his program’s roster lately.

As previously reported, cornerback Geno Smith was arrested for driving under the influence. This was his second offense in under two years. In addition, defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, a transfer from Georgia following a similar offense, was arrested following yet a domestic violence incident. Taylor was also removed from the roster by Alabama.

As a freshman in 2014, Jones rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns for Alabama.

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