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The Fifth Quarter: Week 9 Rewind

Chaos Theory

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

WINNERS

Chaos in the offing?
Don’t look now, but we could be in for an unprecedented controversy in the second-to-last year of existence for the BcS.  With five weeks left in the regular season, including conference championship game weekend in early December, there exists the very real possibility there could be four unbeaten teams from so-called BcS conferences left standing as No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 4 Kansas State and No. 5 Notre Dame all held serve and remained unbeaten this weekend — and, yes, I’m discounting Louisville from title talk at the moment.  While the chance for an upset is always right around the corner — hello Oklahoma State and Oregon State circa 2011 and 2012, respectively — the schedules for all four teams suggest the worst-case scenario before a four-team playoff is implemented in 2014 could very well become a reality:

Alabama: at LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn
Oregon: at USC, at Cal, Stanford, Oregon State
Kansas State: Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, Texas
Notre Dame: Pittsburgh, at Boston College, Wake Forest, at USC

Again, there are plenty of late-season speed bumps for all five teams in the apocalyptic scenario for it to never fully come to fruition.  However, as an ardent anti-BcS proponent and even as I’d hate it for the teams and players involved, I would love nothing more than for that very thing to happen and further embarrass the sham that is the current system for determining a national champion, whether it’s in its last days or not.

Little Manhattan, big-time football
One of the best storylines in college football this season has been Kansas State’s ascension to the national stage, and in Week 9 K-State continued rolling right along.  Literally.  After falling behind No. 15 Texas Tech 10-3 early in the second quarter, the Wildcats scored on eight straight possessions, with the seventh of those possessions punctuated a minute later by an interception return for a touchdown.  That 52-14 run lifted K-State to its eighth consecutive win in 2012.  And further buttressed the case for Bill Snyder as it relates to national honors.  While there has been talk about the job Penn State’s Bill O’Brien has been doing in scandal-ridden Happy Valley, there’s only one logical choice for Coach of the Year honors all across the board.  What Snyder has done in Manhattan is nothing short of staggering and should be duly recognized for the masterpiece that it is.  Of course, having the presumptive Heisman front-runner — Collin Klein, two passing and two rushing touchdowns vs. Tech — doesn’t hurt, but it should take nothing away from the totality of Snyder’s 2012 work.

Can’t spell “Heisman Trophy” without “Manti Te’o”
Ben did an excellent job recapping the they’re-real-and-they’re-spectacular Notre Dame win over Oklahoma, so we’ll just touch on one angle of the fascinating 2012 story that is the Irish: linebacker Manti Te’o.  Simply put, the senior heart and soul of the Irish defense is, on a weekly basis, putting on the most dominating defensive display since Ndamukong Suh in 2009.  That year, the Nebraska defensive lineman terrorized opponents throughout the season and earned a trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist.  Based on his play thus far, Te’o deserves at least that much.  If Collin Klein, the presumptive front-runner at this point, were to stub his toe at some point, though, Te’o and the combination of his dominating play plus the poignant story attached to his 2012 season could become (gasp!) the first purely defensive player to take home the stiff-armed trophy.

Classy Vols
The heartbreaking injury suffered by Marcus Lattimore in South Carolina’s win over Tennessee did have one endearing moment, at least as much as could be had in such a devastating situation.  As Lattimore was being placed onto a cart to be taken into the locker room for further treatment, the running back was, understandably, surrounded by the entire Gamecocks squad.  In one of the classier moves you’ll ever see on a football field, though, the entire Volunteer team came across from their sidelines and did the same, with some offering personal “keep your head up” messages to the injured player.  “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything like that,” head coach Steve Spurrier said of what UT did post-injury.  Top notch, Vols.  Top notch.  And, if you ever want to know what kind of player college football may have lost for good, that gesture from the opposing sideline spoke volumes.

Huskers: They are Legends
For the moment, at least.  Thanks to Nebraska’s 23-9 win over Michigan, the Cornhuskers and Wolverines are tied for first place atop the Big Ten’s Legends division at 3-1.  As the Huskers hold the head-to-head advantage, however, they tentatively sit in the driver’s seat with four conference games remaining — at Michigan State and Iowa and home games versus Penn State and Minnesota.  On the other side of the conference, and despite their overtime loss to Michigan State, Wisconsin is firmly in control of the Leaders division at 3-2; the next-best eligible team is Indiana at 1-3 and oh my goodness is the B1G just sad this season.

Buckeyes hoist IneligiBowl trophy
Thanks to NCAA sanctions, neither Ohio State nor Penn State are eligible for the 2012 postseason, turning the Week 9 matchup of the top two teams in the Big Ten’s Leaders division into a de facto bowl game for both programs.  And, thanks to a dominating second-half performance, the Buckeyes can continue to stake its unofficial claim as the best team in the Big Ten.  With the score tied at seven coming out of halftime, OSU scored 21 third-quarter points to effectively put the game out of reach for a Nittany Lions’ offense whose NASCAR package was the equivalent of Danica Patrick on this Saturday afternoon.  The 35-23 win pushes the Buckeyes to 9-0 in the first season under Urban Meyer and keeps them on track for the only thing other than pride they still have to play for: the Leaders’ division trophy, for which they are still eligible even as they are ineligible for the Big Ten title game.

Marquise performer
Based on God-given ability, there’s likely not a better or more naturally-gifted player than Marquise Lee at the wide receiver position in all of college football.  Never was that more evident than in USC’s game against Arizona.  The true sophomore caught 12 passes for 255 yards… then decided to come out and play in the second half.  Lee finished with 16 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns, with the yardage total representing new school and conference records.  Lee actually totaled 469 yards as he returned three kicks for 123 yards and rushed once for one yard.  It was all for naught, however, the No. 10 Trojans dropped a 39-36 decision to Arizona,

Sammy no longer MIA
— In 2011, Sammy Watkins caught 12 touchdown passes and accounted for 1,219 receiving yards en route to an All-American season as a true freshman. This season? Yeah, not so much. Through Clemson’s first nine games last season, the wide receiver had hauled in 10 touchdowns; Thursday night, in the Tigers’ ninth game of the season, Watkins caught his first touchdown of the season. Entering the 42-13 dismantling of Wake Forest, Watkins had 202 yards receiving on the season; he matched his season total in the game. Yes, there was the suspension for the first two games of the season due to an offseason arrest, and yes there was the missed late-September game against Boston College due to illness, but the fact that we’re deep into October and a talent such as Watkins has crossed the goal line for the first time and matched his seasonal yardage total in a single game is one of the more under-the-radar developments of the 2012 season.

Off the SEChnide
Coming into Week 9, Missouri was one of just two teams in the country — lowly Hawaii being the other — that switched conferences for the 2012 season and had yet to win a game in league play.  Thanks to the gift that is Kentucky football, that’s no longer the case.  A 33-14 win over the hapless MWildcats gave Mizzou its first-ever win in SEC play and lifted the Tigers out of the East division cellar.  Despite the win, Mizzou showed that it still has a ways to go before it’s able to compete with the middleweights of the SEC, let alone the heavyweights like Alabama, Florida and LSU.

LOSERS

World’s Largest Penalty-Ridden Turnover Party
In the Florida-Georgia game, the two teams combined for nearly as many penalties (22) as points (26).  There were five interceptions and four fumbles lost for both teams, with the Gators committing six of those miscues — four fumbles, two interceptions.  The Bulldogs converted just one of 11 third downs in the 17-9 win, while the Gators averaged a paltry 1.7 yards on its 40 rushing attempts.  The two teams totaled 526 yards of offense, or 89 yards less than Oregon had in their win over Colorado.  Simply put, no amount of lipstick could mask this pig of a game… and as far as UGA’s concerned, it matters not a single bit.  Georgia, with wins over Ole Miss and Auburn the next two weeks, will clinch a second straight trip to the SEC championship game.  That qualifies this game as a thing of beauty to Bulldog Nation.

Beavers pelted from ranks of unbeatens
With another Upset Saturday in full effect, the final game of the night was the cherry on top of a ridiculously chaotic sundae.  Oregon State entered their game with unranked Washington as the No. 7 team in the country, the Beavers outgained the Huskies 427-293… but coughed the ball up four times in a stunning 20-17 road loss to UW.  Likely off the table?  OSU’s dreams of a spot in the Pac-12 title game and a seat at the BcS big-boy table.  A for-the-ages Civil War game against Oregon at the end of November.  While the season’s certainly not lost — a win over the Ducks could still lead to a division title — but the loss did put a significant dent in the feel-good story.  The loss is not exactly a surprise, however, as the Beavers had won their previous six games by a total of 58 points, including three by seven points or less and two by three points apiece.

Big East bushMACked again
Two weeks ago, the Little Conference That Couldn’t was one of the surprises of the 2012 season, boasting more undefeated teams — Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers — than any other conference not initialed “SEC.”  After Week 9?   Yeah, not so much.  One week after the Bearcats dropped their first game of the season to Toledo, the No. 15 Scarlet Knights served as the conference’s latest MACrificial lamb, with Kent State — they of the 7-1 Golden Flashes — traveling to Piscataway and heading back to Ohio with a 35-23 win.  Kent State forced seven turnovers in beating a ranked team for the first time in the program’s history, ending a losing streak of 22 straight games against ranked opponents.

Reverse MACtion
The Midwestern conference’s lone shot at playing BcS buster is no more.  Ohio University, which was ranked last weekend in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since 1968, came into their game with conference rival Miami of Ohio sporting an unblemished 7-0 record and ranked as the No. 23 team in the country.  The Bobcats’ dream season came to end, however, as the RedHawks found itself on the winning end of a 23-20 score. The loss dropped the Bobcats into a third-place tie in the MAC East, behind Kent State and Bowling Green.

Wolfpack special teams not so special
It’s one thing to lose late to a bitter in-state rival.  It’s another animal entirely to do so on account of a collective special teams gaffe.  With under 30 seconds remaining and the game tied at 35 — and surely headed to overtime — the Wolfpack punted to the Tar Heels’ Giovani Bernard.  73 yards later, and with just :13 left, UNC had a 43-35 lead and the ballgame firmly stuffed into its back pocket.  The game-winning return capped a wild day for the Tar Heels as they jumped out to a 25-7 lead, then fell behind 35-25 before scoring 18 unanswered fourth-quarter points.

Southern aMiss
Last season, Southern Miss finished the year at 12-2, claiming the Conference USA championship and a bowl win.  Head coach Larry Fedora subsequently left for North Carolina… and the Golden Eagles have completely unraveled under first-year coach Ellis Johnson.  The 44-17 loss to Rice was the eighth straight to open the 2012 season, with the losses coming by an average of 20 points per game.  USM and UMass, in its first year at the FBS level, are the lone winless teams in major college football.  It’s unlikely Johnson is in any type of danger of losing his job after just one season, but, if the losing continues through the end of 2012, he’ll enter 2013 squarely on the hot seat.

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

– No. 6 Oregon State , Washington :

– No. 16 Louisville 34, Cincinnati 31: This was not your ordinary ranked-vs.-unranked matchup Friday night as the Bearcats, up until last weekend, were one of three undefeated Big East teams.  That fact showed as UC extended the Cardinals into overtime before the ‘Ville both snapped its four-game losing streak to this Big East foe and stayed unbeaten on the season.  This close shave continued a 2012 trend for the Cardinals; after winning the first two games by a combined 46 points, they’ve won the last six by a total of 31, including five by seven points or less.

– No. 17 South Carolina 38, Tennessee 35: Despite the loss of its top running back, the Gamecocks were able to hold off a game Volunteers squad and put a halt to a two-game losing streak.

– No. 19 Stanford 24, Washington State 17: Tied at the half at 10-all, the Cardinal hung on for a closer-than-expected win over the two-win Cougars.

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 — First real test of the 2012 season?  Passed with flying colors.  Next weekend, though, is the test for the Tide.(Last week: No. 1)
Up next: at No. 6 LSU

2. Oregon — The Ducks buffaloed (see what I did there?) their way to 56 points and 447 yards of total offense in the first half in a resounding evisceration of Colorado.  The relative cakewalk the 2012 season has been for UO comes to a halt next week as the Ducks travel to USC, followed by back-to-back games against ranked teams (Stanford and Oregon State) to close out the regular season. (Last week: No. 2)
Up next: at USC

3. Kansas State — Road wins over then-No. 6 Oklahoma and then-No.13 West Virginia added to the thrashing of No. 15 Texas Tech is enough for me to push the Wildcats into the No. 3 hole.  Well, that and the Gators’ loss, of course. (Last week: No. 4)
Up next: vs. Oklahoma State

4. Notre Dame — For the first time this season, the Irish enter my little corner of the rankings world.  The win over Oklahoma pushed the Domers to 8-0 for the first time since 2002, and they won’t be truly tested again until the season-finale against USC. (Last week: unranked)
Up next: vs. Pittsburgh

5. (blank as no one is worthy)

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: The latest data point that Chizik’s not long for The Plains?  At Jordan-Hare Saturday, the Tigers were down to Texas A&M 42-7 at the half, trailing in total yards by a staggering 464-91 count.  The most damning part of the evening, however, was the fact that the stadium was less than half full before the gun sounded on the second quarter.  There’s only one thing worse than a pissed-off fan base, and that’s an apathetic one.  If that’s indeed where the Tiger faithful are at the moment, Chizik is in deeper trouble than his president’s letter earlier in the week suggested.

– Tennessee’s Derek Dooley: The Vols are just 4-17 in SEC play in two-plus seasons under Dooley, 1-12 since the start of the 2011 season.  UT’s last conference win came in overtime against Vanderbilt Nov. 19.  The Knoxville natives are restless and are no longer drinking the Dool-Aid, and the clock is certainly ticking on coach’s time on Rocky Top.

– Kentucky’s Joker Phillips: Phillips has actually out-Dooley’d the coach he beat last year, going 4-18 in the SEC the past two-plus seasons.  The Wildcats could be one of four SEC programs in search of a new head coach at season’s end, joining UA (probably), UT (probably) and Arkansas (definitely).

HE SAID IT
“There’s a lot at stake down the stretch and we could still have a really good season.” — UT head coach Derek Dooley, presumably stated with a straight face and everything.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I still can’t believe it. I’m still shaking right now. After that I started crying. I couldn’t hold my emotions back.” — North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard following his game-winning punt return for a touchdown.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“He told us to kick ass.” — SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, when asked what former President George W. Bush said to the Mustangs in his pregame speech prior the Memphis game.

PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is a photo of Jordan-Hare Stadium, snapped by al.com just as halftime of the A&M-Auburn game commenced:

Yeah, Chizik might be in a bit of trouble.

YOU DON’T SAY?
Braxton Miller became the third different Big Ten quarterback and the first Ohio State quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El and Michigan’s Denard Robinson (twice) are the other two.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– During a stretch of 65 seasons — 1927-1988, 2006-08 — Kansas State won 168 games.  In 21 seasons under Bill Snyder, K-State has won 167 games.  Snyder has led the Wildcats to 14 winning seasons; in the 80 non-Snyder years, KSU has had 16 plus-.500 seasons.  And one more note on arguably the most underrated head coach in college football history: K-State has been to 15 bowl games in their history, with 13 of those appearances coming on Snyder’s watch.

– You might as well go ahead and write Jarvis Jones‘ name in Sharpie as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week: in the upset win over Florida, the Georgia linebacker was credited with a career-high 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

– Auburn’s 63-21 loss to Texas A&M was the worst home loss in school history, and the points were the most given up by the Tigers since 1917.  The 671 yards allowed were also the most ever surrendered by AU in a single game.

– In the past five games — two of them of them losses — Texas has given up 1,299 yards rushing.  That’s more than what nine teams gave up all last season.

– Kansas has now lost 16 consecutive Big 12 games.  Their last win in conference play came Nov. 6, 2010, against Colorado, which is now a member of the Pac-12.  Their last win against a team still in the Big 12?  Oct. 10, 2009, over Iowa State.

– With the 31-17 win over Illinois, Indiana snapped its 11-game Big Ten losing streak.  Still, the Hoosiers are just 4-32 in conference play since 2008.

– Playing in just his third game at Oklahoma since being cleared by the NCAA, Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders set school records for most receptions in a game (15) and a quarter (eight).

– It was a record-setting Thursday night all around for Clemson as Watkins’ 202 receiving yards broke the school mark that was just set earlier this year by DeAndre Hopkins (197), while Tajh Boyd‘s 428 yards passing surpassed Charlie Whitehurst‘s 420 yards in 2002.

– North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns against North Carolina… in the first half alone.  Glennon finished with 467 yards and five touchdowns in the 43-35 loss to the Tar Heels.

– In the above game, UNC running back Giovani Bernard accounted for 304 total yards: 135 rushing, 95 receiving and 74 on punt returns.

Connor Shaw threw for a career-high 356 yards in the win over Tennessee.

– The 70 points by Oregon in its 56-point throttling of Colorado set the school record for a conference game.

– Steele Jantz set career highs with 381 yards passing and five touchdowns in Iowa State’s 35-21 win over Baylor.

Max Tuerk became the first true freshman to start a game at left tackle in the storied history of the USC football program, protecting Matt Barkley‘s blind side in the loss to Arizona.

–- SID Stat of the Day, Thursday Night Edition: Clemson did not score in the third quarter of the win over Wake, marking just the second quarter all year in which the Tigers did not score.

– Tweet Stat of the Day, from Mark Story of Kentucky.com: “With loss to Missouri, UK all-time record is 579-580-44. Last time UK under .500 (44-45-6) was after falling to Transy in 1902 finale.”

– Navy rushed for 512 yards in a 56-28 win over East Carolina.

FINAL THOUGHT
If the rumors concerning the severity of Lattimore’s injury are true — we’re not going to touch on them until the situation is confirmed by South Carolina — it would be one of the most devastating injuries a football player can suffer.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the classy young man as he works his way through a situation that’s rough physically, mentally and emotionally.

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

Valero Alamo Bowl - Oregon v Texas

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

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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Surgeries on both shoulders ends UCLA’s Randall Goforth’s season

UCLA v Virginia

One of the top returning members of UCLA’s defense has seen his season come to a premature end.

According to the Los Angeles Times, safety Randall Goforth will undergo surgeries on both of his shoulders, with the first procedure expected to be performed at some point this week.  Because of the twin surgeries, Goforth will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

Goforth had separated his left shoulder during summer camp but returned for the opener.  In Week 2, he separated his right shoulder against Memphis.

Not only will Goforth miss the remainder of the 2014 season, it appears likely he’ll be unavailable for spring practice as well.  The Bruins, for what it’s worth, have yet to officially announce the player’s status moving forward, although head coach Jim Mora hinted recently this could be the case.

The good news is that Goforth will be eligible for a medical hardship waiver.  A successful appeal would leave the junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

Goforth started all 13 games in 2013, finishing second on the team with three interceptions and fourth with 78 tackles.  In the opener against Virginia this year, he returned a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown as one of three second-quarter defensive scores for the Bruins.

He started five games as a true freshman in 2012.

With Goforth sidelined for the remainder of the year, it’s expected sophomore Tahaan Goodman will remain the starter at safety.

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Urban Meyer opens up about time at Florida: ‘Mentally, I was broke’

Florida v Alabama Getty Images

Urban Meyer coached Florida to two BCS title games in his six years at Florida and amassed a 65-15 record, but did so at a cost.

The now-Ohio State coach opened up to HBO Real Sports’ Andrea Kramer about the stress that came with his dedication to winning, which ultimately led to chest pains and him losing 37 pounds during the 2009 season. He said he had to take two Ambien and drink a beer to fall asleep, too.

The full interview will air Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO. Below is a preview:

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Louisville will wear some interesting uniforms vs. Florida State

Miami v Louisville Getty Images

Everybody prepare your #HotUniformTakes, since Louisville has a bold/controversial/awesome/ugly new design for its Oct. 30 home game against Florida State.

The Thursday night game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium already had all the makings of a trap for the Seminoles. Florida State will come off a bye week, and also could be coming off an Oct. 18 home win over a Notre Dame team that very well may head to Tallahassee at 6-0. The first College Football Playoff poll comes out Oct. 28 and you’d figure the stadium will have a rowdy atmosphere the day before Halloween.

Now add these uniforms to the mix, and maybe they’ll somehow give Louisville a bit of a boost, too:

It’s worth noting recruits love these bold uniform designs and so do current players, too. So with that in mind…what do you think of this look?

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