Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebackers Manti Te'O and Dan Fox celebrate after breaking up a touchdown pass against the USC Trojans during their NCAA college football game at the Coliseum in Los Angeles

As expected, Notre Dame keeps its top spot in coaches’ poll


Following its BCS championship-sealing win over USC on Saturday night, Notre Dame is not surprisingly atop both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls. However, whereas the Irish was the unanimous No. 1 team according to the media, the coaches feel a little bit differently.

Notre Dame received 56 of 59 first-place votes in the latest coaches’ poll with No. 2 Alabama receiving two first-place votes and No. 3 Georgia gaining one. Oregon and Florida, both coming off season-ending victories, came in at No. 4 and No. 5 respectively. LSU, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Stanford and South Carolina round out the USA Today top 10.

Oklahoma moves up two spots to No. 11 after beating Oklahoma State and Florida State drops seven spots to No. 12 after losing to Florida. The Seminoles will need to beat Georgia Tech next weekend to secure a BCS bowl berth as it doesn’t appear the ACC will be getting any at-large spots. Same with Nebraska at No. 13. The Cornhuskers will have a rematch against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.

Clemson drops five spots to No. 14 after losing to South Carolina and Boise State (???????) comes in at No. 15. This is where things get interesting. Seven BCS bowl spots will be secured (six AQ winners plus Notre Dame) and one would imagine Oregon and an SEC team (Florida, perhaps?) will be selected for at-large spots. That leaves one at-large spot available for a potential non-AQ team. Boise State, provided they beat Nevada next week, Northern Illinois (No. 18) and Kent State (No. 19) are all possible candidates to grab that last spot if they finish in the top 16 of the BCS rankings (the Big East’s champion will almost certainly finish lower in the BCS standings).

Not bad considering the non-AQ pool looked to be bone dry as of a couple weeks ago.

Northwestern, Utah State, Louisville, Michigan and Rutgers round out the top 25. Dropping out was Oklahoma State and Mississippi State.

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”

Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.

At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August.  The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”

Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.

Michigan’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
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Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5.  The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.

De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.  Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.

“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”

Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.

Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).

In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well.  The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury