Skip to content

The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind

Notre Dame v USC Getty Images

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

BCS A MESS NO MORE
Thanks to some expected results, the muddled mess that had been the BcS and the chase for the crystal football the past couple of glorious weekends cleared itself up immensely in Week 13:

– No. 1 Notre Dame’s win over unranked USC
— No. 2 Alabama’s humiliation of in-state rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl
— No. 3 Georgia’s cruise over non-conference rival Georgia Tech.

With the confluence of those three events, the following is now known: the Fighting Irish have claimed one of the two spots in the BcS championship game, maintaining their position as the only eligible unbeaten left and putting themselves in line for the football program’s first national title since 1988.

And the Golden Domers’ opponent?

That’s crystal clear as well.  Well, more than likely it is.  The Tide will square off against the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game next Saturday.  As UA and UGA are ranked 2-3, respectively, in the latest BcS ratings, and barring an unexpected development of epic proportions, the winner of the SEC title game will face Notre Dame for the right hoist the title trophy.

If the early BcS projections come to fruition, there’s a chance that Florida, not Georgia, would sit at No. 3 in the set of rankings released Sunday night, behind both Notre Dame and Alabama.  However, even if that’s actually the case, a Georgia win over Alabama would very likely erase any type of deficit the Bulldogs may have between themselves and the Gators at the moment.

In other words, we’re right back to where we started: Notre Dame vs. Alabama/Georgia for all the crystal footballs.  Probably.

WEEK 13 CLINCHINGS

Conference USA East
Thanks to East Carolina’s stunning double overtime win over Marshall Friday, UCF needed a win over three-win UAB to clinch its fourth Conference USA East title in eight years.  The Knights did just that, and a victory wasn’t even remotely in jeopardy or in doubt as UCF rolled to 49-24 win.  Next up for the Knights is the conference championship game on the road against Tulsa, which beat UCF 23-21 a week ago.  It will also mark the third time the two have faced each other in the title game, with the Golden Hurricane winning 44-27 in 2005 and the Knights exacting revenge in 2007 with a 44-25 decision.

Pac-12 North
Lather, rinse, repeat.  Stanford’s win over UCLA Saturday clinched the Pac-12 North, sending the Cardinal into the conference championship game next Friday against… you guessed it, the Bruins at Stanford Stadium.  Stanford and Oregon actually finished tied for the North lead at 8-1; the Cardinal’s 17-14 overtime win over the Ducks last weekend, however, gave the Trees the tiebreaker.  A Cardinal loss coupled with the Ducks’ win over Oregon State would’ve sent UO to the conference title game against UCLA.  Speaking of the Bruins, this will mark their second straight appearance in the championship game.

SEC West
All that was needed for Alabama to claim its third West title in five years was to handle a woeful Auburn squad in the Iron Bowl.  Suffice to say, mission accomplished.  The Tide now turns its attention to the SEC championship game against Georgia, with the winner charged with pushing the conference’s streak of BcS titles to seven in a row.

WAC
On the strength of its 48-9 drubbing of Idaho Saturday afternoon, Utah State claimed its first outright conference championship of any kind since 1936.  This season also marked the first time in school history the Aggies have won 10 games.  Following the win, USU accepted an invitation to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and yes that’s a real thing so shut-up.

STILL TO BE DETERMINED

Big East
Even with losses by both Rutgers (5-1 in conference play) and Louisville (4-2) in Week 13, the game between the Scarlet Knights and the Cardinals this coming Thursday will still (likely) decide which team will grab the Big East’s BcS berth.  The loss to Pittsburgh was a particularly damaging one to Rutgers, however, as, with UConn’s overtime win over Louisville, the Scarlet Knights could’ve clinched the conference Saturday regardless of what happened this week.  The scenarios moving forward are relatively simple, though: if Rutgers beats Louisville, they will win the Big East outright and earn the conference’s BcS bowl game slot.  If Louisville beats Rutgers and Cincinnati wins as well, it would create a four-way logjam at 5-2 atop the standings as Syracuse has already completed the season with that conference mark.  At that point, the tiebreaker would, in a roundabout way, revert to the team ranked highest in the BcS standings.  That would very likely heavily favor the Cardinals.

Big 12
As above, figuring out the Big 12 doesn’t exactly take a rocket surgeon.  If Kansas State beats Texas in Week 14, the Wildcats will claim the conference’s BcS berth.  If K-State loses and Oklahoma beats TCU, it’s the Sooners that claim the prize.  If both teams win or both teams lose?  The Wildcats will be BcS bowling based on their win over the Sooners earlier this season.  See how simple that was?

Mountain West
Wins by Fresno State (over Air Force) and San Diego State (over Wyoming) in their season finales leave the two teams at 7-1 in MWC play.  Boise State at 6-1 still has Nevada left in Week 14, meaning it’s entirely conceivable that there could be a three-way tie for the MWC lead after next week.  As the conference has no championship game and thus no tiebreakers, the title pie would be split three ways if the Broncos win their finale.  Incidentally, how even has this conference been at the top?  Boise State beat Fresno State, which beat San Diego State, which beat Boise State.  Two of those three teams (BSU, SDSU) are playing their final seasons in the MWC before moving on to the Big East.  Probably.

Sun Belt
Middle Tennessee State’s 24-21 win over Troy, which snapped a six-game losing streak against the Trojans, leaves MTSU and Arkansas State at 6-1 in the conference.  And, as the two teams play in the regular-season finale next Saturday, the winner of that game will stake its claim to the outright SBC crown.

WINNERS

HeisManziel indeed
The gambling types this past week installed Johnny Manziel as the Heisman favorite heading into Week 14.  A few days later, the Texas A&M quarterback did nothing to hurt that front-runner status.  In fact, Johnny Football may have all but locked up the 2012 version of the stiff-armed trophy.  In the Aggies’ romp over Missouri, Manziel accounted for 439 yards of total offense (372 passing, 67 rushing) and five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing).  Manziel broke the SEC total offense record set during the Heisman-winning season of Cam Newton, who broke the record of Tim Tebow set during his Heisman-winning season.  While Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o certainly deserves consideration, it appears very likely that the freshman glass ceiling will be broken ahead of the solely defensive one.

Bedlam? Try BedHAM
As is ofttimes the case, the annual Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game lived up to its Bedlam nickname.  In a game that saw the Cowboys jump out to a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter, the Sooners came back… and back… and back… and back again, tying their rivals on four separate occasions but never actually taking a lead.  Never taking a lead, that is, until it mattered most.  The fourth of those mini-comebacks came with four seconds left in the fourth quarter as a Blake Bell touchdown run knotted the game at 45-all and sent it into overtime.  Following a Quinn Sharp field goal on OSU’s first extra-session possession, Brennan Clay romped 18 yards on OU’s first overtime shot to give the Sooners a wild 51-48 win.  As noted above, the win keeps alive Oklahoma’s hopes for both a Big 12 title and the BcS bowl bid that comes with it.

Urban renewal indeed
Thanks to the combination of NCAA sanctions and a six-win 2011 season, the first year under Urban Meyer was widely viewed as a rebuilding one at Ohio State.  If that was indeed rebuilding, I’d guess the Big Ten’s going to hate what the finished product looks like.  A mere 12 games into the Meyer era, the Buckeyes are a perfect 12-0, capping off its unbeaten season with a win over hated Michigan.  There will be no bowl or even a spot in the BcS title game thanks to the sanctions wrought by a Sweatervest, but there is hope and a quiet confidence in Columbus that the best may be yet to come.

Husker do
Unbelievably, it has been 13 years since Nebraska has won a conference championship.  While that drought continues, the Cornhuskers are halfway to ending that streak of futility.  In its second season in the Big Ten, the Huskers have claimed their first-ever Legends division title, eliminating Michigan from contention on the strength of its win over Iowa Friday.  That means the Big Ten title game is officially set and will be a rematch from earlier in the year as Nebraska will take on Wisconsin next Saturday in Indianapolis.  In late September, the Cornhuskers came back from a 17-point second-half deficit to drop the Badgers 30-27.

W-V-phew
On the morning of Oct. 13, West Virginia was sitting at or near the top of the college football world, with the 5-0 Mountaineers ranked fifth in the country and possessing far and away the front-runner for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.  Five games and five straight losses later, the Mountaineers were reeling and in very real danger of failing to become bowl eligible in its first season in the Big 12.  A 31-24 win over Iowa State Friday, however, made the losing streak — the program’s longest since 1986 — a thing of the past and pushed the Mountaineers into postseason eligibility.  One win doesn’t completely heal all that ails Dana Holgorsen‘s squad, but it does take a monkey that had morphed into a gorilla off WVU’s back.  It also keeps alive the hopes of the program winning at least eight games in a season for the 11th straight year.

For all the apples… and some pride
The past three seasons, Washington had claimed the Apple Cup by beating Washington State by an average of 18 points per game.  With Wazzu staggering through a two-win season in its first year under Mike Leach, a fourth straight win seemed well within reach.  Only it wasn’t.  Thanks to a 27-yard field goal in overtime, which was preceded by an ill-advised Keith Price pass that turned into an interception and nearly a defensive touchdown on the Huskies’ first possession in the extra session, the Cougars were able to topple their hated in-state rivals by the score of 31-28.  For a team dealing with both on-field woes and off-field imbroglios, it was the perfect season-ending elixir.  Leach has promised this will be an offseason for the ages as he attempts to turn the flailing program around; the win over UW should make that rough time between now and the 2013 a little more palatable for the players.

Streakers
Thanks to the stumbles recently of some of the top teams in the country, Notre Dame and Ohio State currently own the nation’s longest winning streak at 12 games apiece.  Just two other FBS schools have double-digit streaks going, and they both come from the MAC — Northern Illinois (11) and Kent State (10).  Both of those marks are the longest in the history of the respective programs, but one will come to an end in short order; the Golden Flashes and Huskies will face each other in the conference championship game this coming Friday at Detroit’s Ford Field.  There are eight other teams currently in ownership of a winning streak stretching six games or better: Arkansas State and San Diego State (seven each); and Ball State, Georgia, Nebraska, San Jose State, Utah State and Vanderbilt (six each).

LOSERS

Big Ten title game
Outside of Georgia Tech, no team backdoored its way into a conference championship more than Wisconsin.  Thanks to NCAA sanctions levied on Ohio State and Penn State, the Leaders division of the Big Ten will send its third-best team to the title game next weekend, a team that has lost three of its last four games — the last two to the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions — in backing into a trip to Indianapolis at 7-5 overall and 4-4 in conference play.  The lone saving grace for the B1G?  The Badgers’ opponent as Nebraska comes into the game as winners of six straight, with their only loss in the last 10 coming at Ohio State.

Later Gator
Florida’s not dropped into this category because of a loss per se, but because of events that transpired that were completely out of its control.  On the strength of its come-from-behind blowout win over in-state rival Florida State, the Gators were a Notre Dame loss away from likely playing the winner of the SEC championship in the BcS title game. “Fight on. I’ve always been a real big Lane Kiffin fan,” UF head coach Will Muschamp said after the win, referring to the USC head coach still reviled in the South for his time at Tennessee.  Alas, it was all for naught as the Irish took out the Trojans and clinched its spot in the title game.  It was not all bad news on the night for the Gators as UF is all but guaranteed an at-large BcS berth, especially if they remain in the top four of the BcS standings.

Beatdown between the hedges
The annual Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry game featured two teams that will represent their divisions in the SEC and ACC championship games, respectively, next weekend.  The game itself turned into something that didn’t even remotely resemble such lofty résumés, at least on one end.  The Bulldogs, with their sights set on much loftier goals than a “mere” conference title, jumped out to a 28-3 halftime lead and didn’t look back, cruising to a 42-10 win in what amounted to a scrimmage leading into the SEC title game.  The Yellow Jackets, on the other hand, are emblematic of the ACC’s 2012 football woes.  Gifted a divisional title thanks to Miami’s decision to self-impose a second consecutive bowl ban, Tech will stumble and stagger into the ACC title game with a UCLA-esque 6-6 record.  If Florida State Nation wants to understand why their Seminoles were not a part of the BcS title game discussion — well, aside from their own on-field indiscretions — all they need to do is look across the line of scrimmage next weekend to see Exhibit A for their computer woes.  Speaking of which…

The ACC
South Carolina 27, Clemson 17.  Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 10.  Vanderbilt 55, Wake Forest 21.  Florida  37, Florida State 26.  Four ACC-SEC matchups, four wins for the SEC by a combined score of 161-74.  If there was ever a microcosm for the gap between the two conferences, especially with the top two teams going down in double-digit fashion, today was it.  And, for some reason, I don’t think the additions of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and, possibly, UConn will close said gap at any point in the near future.

The Big lEast
After a few years of being the poster child for redheaded football stepchildren everywhere, the Big East has achieved a modicum of respect this season.  Cincinnati, Louisville and Rutgers were all unbeaten through the first seven weeks of the season, with the latter two teams still ranked and carrying just one loss apiece headed into Week 13.  And then, unfortunately, Week 13 happened.  A week ahead of what is in effect a de facto Big East championship game, both the Scarlet Knights and Cardinals  dropped contests against a pair of teams — Pittsburgh for the former, UConn for the latter — that came into the weekend a combined 4-8 in conference play.  Yes, Rutgers and Louisville will play later this week for the right to claim the Big East’s BcS bowl berth, but a significant amount of luster was lost this weekend thanks to a pair of losses that will, in all likelihood, result in both dropping out of the polls.

Oh, Buffs…
How bad has this season gone for Colorado?  In Friday’s season finale, the Buffaloes outgained Utah (419-336)… totaled more first downs (25-18)… led in time of possession (31:33-2827)… and still managed to lose.  Of course, when you commit five turnovers, and those turnovers are turned into 24 points, it’s easy to see how the Buffs could come out on the wrong end of 42-35 score.  The loss drops Colorado to 1-11 on the season, the school’s worst record winning percentage-wise since a winless 1890 season.  It’s also the first time CU has been winless at home since 1920.  Additionally, it puts the future of head coach Jon Embree in even further jeopardy, even as he publicly claims his athletic director has his back.  Embree is just 4-21 overall and 3-15 in Pac-12 play in two seasons at the school, and there have been rumblings coming out of the area that some in and close to the athletic department is ready to pull the plug on the experiment post-haste.

The 2012 Ty Willingham Excellence in Futility Award goes to…
Southern Miss!  That’s right, thanks to a 42-24 loss to Memphis Saturday afternoon, the Golden Eagles capped off their anti-perfect season at 0-12.  USM becomes the first to throw a season-long 0’fer on the board since both Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky did the deed back in 2009.  The circumstances surrounding this particular goose egg, however, are head-scratching on at least a couple of levels.  Last year at this time, USM was sitting at 10-2 on its way to a 12-2 season and wins in the Conference USA championship game — over then-No. 19 and unbeaten Houston — and Hawaii Bowl.  Yes, Larry Fedora bolted for the North Carolina head coaching job in the offseason, but to go from 12 wins to 12 losses in the span of a single season defies all logic.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT

How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

– No. 1 Notre Dame 22, USC 13: With nothing to lose, the Trojans gave the Irish its best shot.  As they have all season long, though, Notre Dame took the punches and stepped out of the ring battered but unbeaten.  Still.

– No. 8 LSU 20, Arkansas 13: The Tigers escaped Fayetteville with the win after Tyler Wilson‘s pass with no time left on the clock fell incomplete.  While the Tigers won’t defend their SEC championship, the Bayou Bengals are once again in line for another prime bowl game.

– No. 17 Nebraska 13, Iowa 7: It may have been the kind of win that only a mother of a football program could love, but it was also a win that sent the Cornhuskers to its first Big Ten championship game appearance.

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. Notre Dame — The Fighting Irish have taken the field 12 times, walked off a winner all 12 times.  Are they SEC-good?  We’ll find out in a little over six weeks in Miami (Last week: No. 1)
Up next: idle

2. Alabama — The SEC championship game will serve as a de facto playoff semifinal, affording the Tide the opportunity to continue its run at a third BcS title in four years. (Last week: No. 2)
Up next: vs. Georgia

3. Oregon — Allow me to quote myself from last week: “The Ducks are still a damn good team and would still be worthy of a title-game appearance, backdoor or not.”  While that backdoor was slammed shut this weekend, the overall sentiment still applies. (Last week: No. 3)
Up next: idle

4. Ohio State — The Buckeyes are one of two remaining undefeated teams, and could claim the Associated Press poll title depending on how the remainder of the season, which will be played without them, shakes out and what kind of mood the voters are in at year’s end. (Last week: No. 4)
Up next: vs. the offseason

5. Georgia — One-loss Florida boasts wins over Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State.  The Gators’ lone loss?  To the Bulldogs.  Advantage, one-loss UGA. (Last week: unranked)
Up next: vs. Alabama

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: Yeah, this one is fairly self-explanatory.  The last time Auburn won three games in a season was 1998; Terry Bowden “resigned” midseason and was ultimately replaced by Tommy Tuberville.  Seemingly the only questions remaining now is when Chizik will be officially dismissed and who will replace him after the program’s most recent three-win embarrassment.

– USF’s Skip Holtz: In his three seasons with the Bulls, Holtz has seen his record get progressively worse, going from eight wins in 2010 to five wins last season to three wins this year following a 27-10 loss to Cincinnati Friday night.  If USF loses its season finale next Saturday, the 3-9 record would serve as the worst record in the Bulls’ 13-year history as an FBS program, surpassing the 4-7 mark in 2004.  If that happens?  The Son of Lou could find himself as the latest football boss to find himself on the coaching unemployment line.

–Boston College’s Frank Spaziani: After winning 15 games his first two seasons, Spaziani has won just six games the past two years, including two in 2012.  This season is the worst winning percentage for BC since a winless 1978 season, and puts the long-time Eagles coach square in the offseason crosshairs.

HE SAID IT
“I’d say at this point in time Ohio State could go play with anybody in America.” — OSU head coach Urban Meyer, when asked how good he thinks his Buckeyes are following the Michigan win.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I’ve never had so much fun in my life.” — Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, after his Sooners gave up 48 points in a three-point Bedlam win over Oklahoma State.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“You can’t block Jadeveon one-on-one. We’ve got him one more year. Then we’ll shake his hand and say ‘thank you.'” — South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, speaking of pass-rushing terror Jadeveon Clowney.

YOU DON’T SAY?
In Darrell Hazell‘s first two seasons at Kent State, the Golden Flashes have won 16 games, including a school-record 11 this season and its first-ever MAC divisional title.  In the four previous seasons, the Flashes had won a total of 17 games and hadn’t finished better than fourth in the MAC East.  In other words, expected to hear the name Hazell, a former Ohio State assistant, as the latest spinning of the coaching carousel ramps up into high gear.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– A week after tying Miami of Ohio’s Travis Prentice‘s record of 78 career total touchdowns, Montee Ball‘s 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Wisconsin’s overtime loss to Penn State gave the running back the record all to himself at 79.

Kenjon Barner rushed for 198 of Oregon’s 430 yards in the Ducks’ 48-24 Civil War romp over Oregon State.

– Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones became the first player in FBS history to have 3,000-plus passing yards and 26-plus touchdown passes in each of his four seasons.

Jadeveon Clowney was credited with 4.5 sacks in South Carolina’s win over Clemson.  And I’ll just go ahead and say it now: when it comes time to do my way-too-early look at the 2013 season in early January, Clowney will be one of the way-too-early Heisman front-runners.

– In Michigan State’s 26-10 win over Minnesota that pushed the Spartans into bowl eligibility, Le’Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 266 yards.

– During the course of Utah’s season-ending win over Colorado, John White topped the 1,000-yard plateau for the second straight season.  The running back is the first player in the Utes’ history to go over that mark in back-to-back seasons; Eddie Johnson also did it twice, although in non-consecutive season (1984, 1986).

– Wide receiver Tavon Austin accounted for 261 yards in West Virginia’s win over Iowa State: 74 rushing, 99 receiving, 46 on kick returns and 42 on punt returns.  Austin also broke his own school record for receptions in a season he set last year; the senior had 101 in 2011 and now has 106 with two games left.  Additionally, fellow receiver Stedman Bailey now has 1,342 yards receiving, breaking the school record of 1,279 yards he set last year as well.

– BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman set a school record with five touchdown catches in the Cougars’ win over New Mexico State.

– The 105,899 fans in attendance for the 108th edition of The Game set an Ohio Stadium attendance record for a Michigan-Ohio State matchup.

– Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines lost four games this season.  The combined records of those four teams?  45-3: Notre Dame and Ohio State, 12-0; Alabama 11-1; and Nebraska 10-2.  Three of those games were on the road, while the other, against the Tide, was played on a neutral field.

– Miami and Duke combined for 1,229 yards of offense (646 for the former, 583 for the latter) in the Hurricanes’ 52-45 win.  Blue Devils quarterback Sean Renfree threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns, while Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson rushed for 176 yards — on just 16 carries — and three touchdowns.

– TCU’s 20-13 Thanksgiving Day win over Texas snapped a 15-game road losing streak to the Longhorns.  The Horned Frogs had not won in Austin since 1967 when both schools were members of the now-defunct Southwestern Conference.

– North Carolina’s 8-4 record gives the Tar Heels their best winning percentage (.667) in a season since 1997 (11-1, .917).

– Arkansas outgained LSU 462-306 in yards of total offense and still found a way to lose in a game that proved to be John L. Smith‘s final game as the Razorbacks’ head coach.  If that doesn’t perfectly describe the very brief John L era in Fayetteville, I don’t know what does.

– Since a one-point loss to Iowa in the season opener, Northern Illinois has won 11 straight by an average of 25.1 ppg.

– Kent State’s 11 wins not only set a school record, but it is two more than the previous mark of nine set back in 1973.  The Golden Flashes’ 10-game winning streak is also the longest in the football program’s history.

– In the double overtime game Friday evening, East Carolina and Marshall combined for 124 points and 1,188 yards of total offense in the Pirates’ wild 65-59 win that, at least temporarily, kept them in the chase for the Conference USA East title.  Quarterback Shane Carden threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns while adding three more scores on the ground, the last in the second overtime that sent the Pirates home with a win.

SID NOTE OF THE WEEK
From UGA media relations: With a 42-10 victory, Georgia now has set a school record for points in a season with 456 in 12 games. The old mark was 450 by the 2002 team in 14 games.

SID NOTE OF THE WEEK, RUNNER-UP
From USC media relations: With the win over Clemson, head coach Steve Spurrier became the winningest coach in South Carolina football history.  Coach Spurrier is now 65-37 in his career at South Carolina; he surpassed Rex Enright, who had 64 career wins at South Carolina.

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Notre Dame began the season unranked.  The last team to begin a season unranked and finish No. 1 in the Associated Press poll was BYU in 1984.  Want more?  The last four coaches at Notre Dame who won their first national titles with the Irish did so in their third seasons at the school; Brian Kelly is in his third season at the school.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, Top Posts

NCAA denies Dorial Green-Beckham’s appeal

Dorial Green-Beckham

The fate of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has been decided by the NCAA.

Green-Beckham transferred to Oklahoma in July after Missouri dismissed the talented receiver due to multiple off-the-field incidents. Oklahoma filed an appeal on Green-Beckham’s behalf last week. The NCAA officially denied the appeal Friday.

Oklahoma released a statement after the NCAA announced its decision:

“The University of Oklahoma has learned that the waiver request it entered on behalf of Dorial Green-Beckham has been denied by the NCAA. The University accepts that decision and will continue to provide the appropriate assistance to Dorial, just as it does with other students, in helping him grow personally from the many opportunities available to him at OU.”

Of course the University “accepts that decision.” It shouldn’t even be surprised by the outcome due to recent incidents with other members of its football team.

The tipping point for Green-Beckham at Missouri was an incident where he allegedly pushed a woman down a flight of stairs.

It’s the type of incident the University of Oklahoma publicly stated “takes very seriously its obligation in cases like this…”

The school suspended its leading tackler, Frank Shannon, for the season after sexual assault allegations.  The school did the same to running back Joe Mixon after he allegedly punched a woman in the face and caused four broken bones.

If the Sooners found a loophole — in this case, the run off rule — to allow Green-Beckham to play this season, the school’s actions would have been seen as highly hypocritical. Instead, all three players won’t be allowed to play during the upcoming campaign.

Make no mistake about it — the Sooners were hopeful Green-Beckham could play this season. He’s mega-talent at wide receiver. Instead, the team will have to rely heavily on Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and Derrick Woods.

Permalink 5 Comments Back to top

Maryland’s leading receiver, senior linebacker arrested

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman - Marshall v Maryland

The Maryland Terrapins may be without the team’s leading receiver from last season and a major contributor on special teams for an undetermined amount of time.

Junior wide receiver Levern Jacobs and senior linebacker Alex Twine were arrested Thursday on charges of second-degree assault. The original charges stem from an April 19 incident.

“We are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more information” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall told the Baltimore Sun‘s Matt Zentiz. “We take these matters very seriously. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Last season, Jacobs led the team with 47 receptions for 640 yards. Although, Jacobs wasn’t expected to start for the Terrapins this season due to Maryland’s depth at wide receiver.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do at the receiver position,” Edsall told InsideMDSports.com’s Josh Stirn at the start of fall camp. “We’ve got to step it up a bit. We’re not looking for receivers that can just catch the ball around here. This isn’t flag football. This isn’t a 7 on 7. We’ve got to have complete receivers. We’ve got to get our receivers to do that and our receivers have got to make sure that they listen to Keenan [McCardell] and do exactly what they ask them to do. If they do that with the talent they have, they can be very good. But we’re not there yet and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Jacobs current predicament will create more opportunities for his younger brother, Tavion Jacobs, who impressed the coaching staff this summer.

Twine, meanwhile, made 12 starts and played in 34 games since becoming a member of the Terrapins. Twine provides critical depth at linebacker while serving as Maryland’s special teams ace.

Due to Edsall’s reaction to the their arrests, both will likely face suspensions from the team.

Permalink 4 Comments Back to top

Five-star RB plans to stay at Oklahoma

Photo credit: Rivals

Joe Mixon isn’t leaving the University of Oklahoma.

Mixon was suspended from all football activities for a year Monday after the Cleveland County (Oklahoma) District Attorney’s office charged him with one misdemeanor count of an act resulting in gross injury.

The running back maintains his innocence in the matter, and the automatic question asked was whether or not he would remain at the school after its decision.

Mixon emphatically answered the question via twitter.

As part of the suspension, Mixon will not be allowed to participate in team activities and he will be excluded from the team’s roster. But Mixon can remain a student at the university and eligible for financial aid under the “appropriate conditions.”

Mixon’s presence would have been a boost to this year’s backfield. The Sooners, however, are not devoid of talent at running back. Sophomores Keith Ford and Alex Ross will be relied upon this fall, and Mixon will join the team’s stable of running backs in 2015.

Permalink 8 Comments Back to top

Ohio State’s plan to replace QB Braxton Miller

Urban Meyer

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is the answer to nearly every football question posed in today’s game.

Who did New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick consult to make his team more efficient during practice? Chip Kelly. How did the Oregon Ducks go from a unique team with flashy uniforms to a national title contender? Chip Kelly. Who is turning the NFL upside down with how he approaches every aspect of the game? Chip Kelly.

We could go on and on, but we won’t.

When Ohio State lost Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller for the season after re-injuring his throwing shoulder, head coach Urban Meyer was forced to reconsider his options on offense. The answer was simple. Chip Kelly.

Meyer has always been at the forefront of offensive innovation with his spread offense, but his goal is to be more like Kelly this season.

According to SI.com, the Buckeyes’ staff and players are often overheard saying, “We want to be the Philadelphia Eagles of college football.”

When asked directly whether or not Meyer will increase the team’s offensive tempo, the coach remained noncommittal.

“That’s a good question,” Meyer told SI.com. “That’s also to be determined. We’re prepared more than in the last two years. It’s the third year in the system.”

Traditional thinking says playing fast means an athlete is not thinking about what he’s doing. He’s just reacting. The Buckeyes operating at a faster pace with redshirt freshmen J.T. Barrett at quarterback instead of Miller would seem to be counterintuitive. That’s not actually the case.

While a faster tempo requires quicker decisions from the quarterback position, it also simplifies his reads and wears down defenses that can’t substitute and forces them into basic schemes.

Barrett has yet to be officially named the team’s starter, but he worked his way to No. 2 on the depth chart prior to Miller re-injuring his shoulder. Barrett he may be the perfect quarterback to play in this style of offense even if he’s not as physically talented as Miller.

“The best quarterbacks are great distributors, and I watch Peyton Manning and I’m in awe of the way he distributes the ball,” Meyer told ESPN.com‘s Austin Ward. “I thought (former Ohio State quarterback) Kenny Guiton was one of the best I’ve been around as far as getting the ball out quickly and distributing to playmakers and letting them run with the ball, let them make plays. That’s what my initial evaluation of J.T. is, he’s very good at that.”

Meyer should be able to devise an offense to get the ball out of Barrett’s hand quickly and allow the play makers around the quarterback to take over the game.

“In my 10 years here, this is the most explosive offensive talent, depth wise, that we’ve ever had,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told SI.com. “The 2006 team had a lot of offensive weapons. But depth wise, you just have to get the ball to the players and get out of the way.”

Kelly would certainly approve of this approach.

Permalink 11 Comments Back to top

ACC coach: Half league’s teams don’t have player that can start for FSU

Jimbo Fisher

How talented is Florida State’s team?

It’s talented enough to help build an inferiority complex around the rest of the ACC.

“According to one ACC coach, FSU is so stocked with talent across its depth chart that he believes about half the league’s teams do not have one player who would start for Florida State this year based on what he’s seen on film,” Bruce Feldman and Pete Thamel of FoxSports.com reported.

The Seminoles are absolutely loaded on both sides of the football. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jameis Winston, is back for his redshirt sophomore season. The team also returns eight players named to one of the All-ACC teams in 2013. And the 11 starters Florida State has to replace from last year’s squad will be filled with former highly-touted recruits that simply need an opportunity to showcase their talent.

The unnamed coach was right about half the league. A quick look at the preseason All-ACC team proves his point. Players from seven teams other than Florida State were bestowed with the honor.

Teams that didn’t have a representative were the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Pittsburgh Panthers, Virginia Cavaliers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Arguments could be made for Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd, North Carolina linebacker Norkeithus Otis, Virginia safety Anthony Harris and Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson but the coach’s point still stands.

The underlying theme of the comment is simple. Florida State will be favored to win every game it plays this season, and only one or two teams in the ACC even have a chance to upset the Seminoles as they attempt a second run to the national championship game.

Permalink 9 Comments Back to top

Brady Hoke: ‘I feel terrible for Braxton Miller’

Ohio State v Michigan Getty Images

I don’t know that I’ve ever done this before — well, maybe once or twice — but I’m going to utilize a reader’s comment in a post.  Specifically, an unnamed reader’s comment in the post from yesterday on Mark Dantonio‘s reaction to Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller‘s season-ending shoulder injury:

The real question would be Hoke’s reaction to this. I’m sure he wouldn’t take the high road about the injury.

Of course, that was, even for one of our readers, an absurd assumption to make. Head coaches simply don’t and wouldn’t do that, especially publicly.  In fact, in my experience, the vast majority of coaches care about players and their well-being whether they’re on their own team or on the opposing sideline.

Case in point? The object of the commenter’s attempted barb, Brady Hoke.

“I feel terrible for Braxton Miller and his family,” the Michigan head coach said during a radio interview Friday morning by way of mlive.com. “He’s been a class act any time I’ve been around him.

You never want a kid to get hurt.”

In other words, Hoke is a human being and reacted the exact way everyone — well, most everyone — thought he would: with class and genuine empathy.  One of the greatest rivalries on the field, The Game more times than not gives way to humanity off of it.

Permalink 7 Comments Back to top

Syracuse’s starting TE out for up to a month

Syracuse v Maryland

At least now there’s some sort of timeline for the return of a key piece of Syracuse’s offensive puzzle, even if it is a little vague.

Earlier this week, head coach Scott Shafer confirmed that starting tight end Josh Parris will be sidelined for a period of 2-4 weeks.  Parris underwent surgery Wednesday to repair what was only described as a lower-body injury.

At bare minimum, Parris will miss the opener against Villanova (Aug. 29).  The earliest Parris will return is the next game against Central Michigan (Sept. 13), although that falls within the long end of the timeline.  The Sept. 20 game against Maryland would appear to be a safe bet for a return if he hasn’t already.

Parris caught 13 passes for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2013. The 6-2, 252-pound redshirt sophomore would’ve entered the 2014 season as the Orange’s starting tight end.

Instead, some combination of sophomore Kendall Moore, freshman Jamal Custis and redshirt freshman Tyler Provo will attempt to hold down the job during Parris’ absence.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

UW Huskies to go with Jeff Lindquist at QB in opener

Boise State v Washington Getty Images

With Cyler Miles suspended for the opener, Washington knew it would go with someone other than the offseason favorite for the job in the first game of the year.  Now, we officially know the identity of that someone.

According to head coach Chris Petersen, sophomore Jeff Lindquist will get the nod at quarterback for the Aug. 30 season opener against Hawaii.  Petersen opted for Lindquist over redshirt freshman Troy Williams.

According to Petersen, fewer mistakes from Lindquist compared to his compatriot was the biggest factor in the decision.  Neither of the two main players for what’s expected to be a temporary assignment has thrown a pass at the collegiate level.

Petersen did add that Miles will be a factor for the job once he serves the suspension.

Miles was allegedly involved in a pair of assaults in early February, suspended from the team but never charged.  He was reinstated in mid-May, prior to his one-game suspension being announced two months later.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Report: McEvoy, not Stave, to start for Badgers vs. LSU

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzizjm5zdiwntljymmymdrjzja4mzywodnjmmzhn2i4 AP

This one probably qualifies as the biggest surprise in all of the quarterback competitions waged throughout various summer camps this month.

Citing three sources, Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Tanner McEvoy will start at quarterback in Wisconsin’s season opener against LSU in Houston.  McEvoy and the incumbent, Joel Stave, have been fighting for the starting job throughout spring practice and on into camp.

Stave started all 13 games for the Badgers last season, while the 6-6, 222-pound McEvoy was moved to safety — played in 10 games, started three — before returning to quarterback in the spring.  Stave is the dictionary-definition of a pocket-passer, while McEvoy possess the ability to beat a team with both his arm and his legs.  It was likely that dual-threat ability that played a significant role in the reported decision.

If the report comes to fruition — UW coaches have been very tight-lipped about the starter and don’t plan on announcing one prior to the opener — it would continue what’s been a very strange football odyssey for McEvoy.

In early August of 2012, South Carolina announced that McEvoy had decided to transfer from the Gamecocks.  The announcement came a week or so after the player was arrested on alcohol-related charges.

After spending the 2012 season at the JUCO level, McEvoy signed with Wisconsin in February of 2013.  Prior to being moved to the other side of the ball, McEvoy was the victim of an on-campus mugging last July.

Permalink 10 Comments Back to top

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 7 South Carolina

Steve Spurrier

2013 record: 11-2 overall, 6-2 in SEC (2nd in SEC East)
2013 postseason: Capital One Bowl vs. Wisconsin (34-24 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 4/No. 4
Head coach: Steve Spurrier (219-79-2 overall; 77-39 in nine years at South Carolina)
Offensive coordinator: Steve Spurrier Jr. (third season as co-coordinator); Shawn Elliott (third season as co-coordinator)
2013 offensive rankings: 32nd rushing offense (198.5 ypg); 40th passing offense (253.8 ypg); 36th total offense (452.3 ypg); 32nd scoring offense (34.1 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: Eight
Defensive coordinator: Lorenzo Ward (third season)
2013 defensive rankings: 50th rushing defense (153.8 ypg); 12th passing defense (196.2 ypg); 19th total defense (350 ypg); 12th scoring defense (20.3 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: Six
Location: Columbia, SC
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250; Grass)
Last conference title: 1969 (ACC)

THE GOOD
Sure, there were a couple of key departures on one of the best defenses in the conference, and the starting quarterback, the winningest of all-time at the school, needs replaced.  That said, this should still be arguably the most talented and deepest squad Spurrier & Company have put on the field since the OBC came to Columbia a decade ago.    Returning are two of the best skill position players in the passing game in the SEC to go along with four starting offensive lineman.  The former will help the new starter under center, while the latter will greatly aid said starter as well as the underrated Mike Davis in the backfield.  The schedule also sets up nicely, with just a pair of what could even remotely be considered formidable road trips: at Auburn and at in-state rival Clemson.  The Gamecocks have owned the ACC Tigers — won five straight — of late, with CU needing to reload at several important positions, so calling that game formidable might be a stretch at this early juncture.

THE BAD
The cornerbacks.  And, actually, that’s way too harsh and not even remotely accurate; the corners aren’t “bad.”  Rather, they’re extremely raw and very inexperienced — only one player at the position has played in a game at the collegiate level.  The good news for the Gamecocks is that they have significant returning experience at both safety positions, which should help as at least two, possibly three, true freshmen will be needed to contribute immediately.  Another negative from the same unit that somewhat relates to the secondary?  USC’s top two pass rushers left for the NFL, meaning any help the young corners could get from a significant pass rush during their transition is somewhat mitigated.  Certainly there’s talent to replace what was lost, but it may take some time..

THE UNKNOWN
With Connor Shaw gone, USC will be breaking in a new first-time full-time starting quarterback.  Dylan Thompson‘s different than a lot of first-time starters, however, as he at least has some experience in that capacity — he’s 3-0 in his career as a starter replacing an injured Shaw and has thrown passes in 20 of the games in which he’s played the past three years.  Still, there’s additional pressure being the everyday, every-down man under center, although Thompson appears to have the kind of poise and personality where the stage won’t even remotely be too big for him.  He won’t have time to ease into that role, either, as USC’s first three games are against Texas A&M, East Carolina (a 10-3 team in 2013) and Georgia.  The good news is that all three of those games are in Columbia, with the first road test coming Sept. 20 against Vanderbilt.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs, Georgia, Sept. 13
As I stated in No. 12 Georgia’s preview, and as both Georgia and South Carolina are expected to be the cream of the crop in the SEC East, it would stand to reason that this game, played the third weekend of the season, could prove to be the SEC title game ticket-puncher for the winning side.  While UGA won last year’s game, USC has owned the series of late by winning the previous three by a combined 42 points.  The fact that the game is in Columbia bodes well for the Gamecocks.  Well, that and the fact that, at least on paper, they’ll be the more talented of the two teams.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: running back Mike Davis
One of the most underrated players in the country at any position, Davis will get the opportunity, especially early on, to carry more of the offensive workload as Thompson establishes his footing as the Gamecocks’ full-time starter for the first time.  While Davis — very quietly — rushed for nearly 1,200 yards last season, his work in the passing game (34-352) is an ofttimes overlooked facet that provides an extra dimension for his offense — and another consideration for voters.  If the Gamecocks can have the type of team success they had in 2013 and Davis can increase his production — especially in high-profile games — then come late November and early December he could very well be in the midst of the discussion.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Permalink 12 Comments Back to top

Tulsa hoops player denied opportunity to play football

Pat Swilling Jr., Zach Hanson, Devin Brooks, D'Andre Wright AP

So much for that plan.

In mid-June, Pat Swilling Jr., the son of Georgia Tech and NFL standout Pat Swilling, revealed that he planned to walk-on to the Tulsa football team.  Swilling was no ordinary walk-on, though, as he had recently completed his four years of eligibility as a Golden Hurricane basketball player.  There was the also the suspension that cost him the final 11 games of his collegiate career, a suspension born out of allegations of rape.

Earlier this week, Swilling took to Twitter to explain that the NCAA denied his appeal for a waiver that would’ve permitted him to play football in 2014.

Under normal circumstances, a player in one sport who has not used his redshirt season can use a loophole in NCAA bylaws to play an “extra” season in another sport.  However, Swilling had incomplete grades for the spring semester that have been attributed to the rape investigation.

No charges were ever filed against Swilling, and a protective order that had been issued against him was dropped in April.  However, on Monday, the alleged victim filed a federal lawsuit against the university, with Tulsa World writing that the suit states “TU was negligent and failed to protect a female student’s rights under federal Title IX laws by not properly investigating multiple rape allegations against Swilling.”

Swilling fired back at his accuser in a letter, calling her a “cleat chaser” and denying any type of sexual assault took place.

“I have been verbally abused, harassed, constantly sent harsh things on social media and even received death threats on multiple occasions. While I understand the backlash, your opinions of myself have been created by reading material that portrays me in a negative light. Nothing written has been in my favor and nothing negating my accuser’s stories has been written either.”

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

USC RB Tre Madden iffy for opener

Washington State v USC Getty Images

Last year it was a hamstring issue that limited Tre Madden for the last half of the season.  Heading into the 2014 season, it’s an issue a couple of feet south that could limit the running back.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Madden has been dealing with a toe injury he suffered earlier in summer camp.  The Times writes that the injury could make him questionable for the opener against Fresno State a week from Saturday.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian wasn’t prepared to go that far, at least not yet.

“We’re taking every precautionary action we can to make sure that Tre is great and ready to go when his time is called again,” Sarkisian said.

During the first five games last season, Madden rushed for 583 yards and three touchdowns.  The last eight, three of which he didn’t record a carry, Madden totaled just 120 yards and didn’t find the end zone.  His 703 yards were second on the team to the 785 yards for Javorius Allen, who figures to be the Trojans’ bell cow in the running game this year.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Report: Braxton Miller surgery tentatively slated for Tuesday

Braxton Miller AP

Braxton Miller‘s road to recovery appears to have a semi-official start date.

Citing a source close to the Ohio State quarterback, the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Miller is tentatively scheduled to undergo surgery next Tuesday.  The procedure will be performed by world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

Initial reports had the injury labeled as a dislocated shoulder, which later morphed into a torn labrum.  Instead, the Dispatch reports, Miller suffered a partially torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder.

The injury, similar to the one he suffered during the Orange Bowl and for which he underwent February surgery, occurred during practice Monday as Miller was making a short throw to the sidelines.  There was no contact on the play.

Head coach Urban Meyer said earlier in the week that a timeline for a return would be 9-12 months, which means Miller could return as early as summer workouts in 2015 or as late as the end of summer camp.  Or, obviously, somewhere in between.

In a statement confirming his injury, Miller stated his intentions are to return to Ohio State next season and play for the Buckeyes.

With Miller out for the season, the Buckeyes are expected to turn to redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett under center.  At the very least, Barrett will get the start in the opener against Navy, although backup Cardale Jones is expected to see some action as well.

Permalink 8 Comments Back to top

Neal Burcham holds off A&M transfer, named SMU’s starter

Central Florida v SMU

The official successor to Garrett Gilbert has been anointed, and it’s just who most expected it to be.

Following practice Thursday, June Jones announced that Neal Burcham has been tapped as SMU’s starting quarterback.  The Mustangs’ quarterback competition technically involved multiple players, but it essentially came down to Burcham and Texas A&M transfer Matt Davis.

“He has been waiting his turn to get in there,” Jones said. “I have been impressed watching him the last couple of years. He’s prepared himself, he’s worked hard. It’s just getting familiar with the offense and knowing where to go with the ball quickly and knowing your reads.”

The redshirt sophomore started the last two games in place of an injured Gilbert last season and went through spring practice, which Davis didn’t take part in, as the No. 1 quarterback. Jones cited Burcham’s experience in the offense as the deciding factor.

Burcham, a three-star member of the Mustangs’ 2012 recruiting class, completed 64-of-106 passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions in 2013.  Davis isn’t going away anytime soon, however, as the four-star 2012 signee still has three years of eligibility remaining counting this season.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: ACC Predictions

Navy v Duke

As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the ACC. 

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

1. Florida State (Last year: 14-0; beat Auburn in BCS Championship Game)
It is easy to make the Seminoles the chalk favorite when evaluating the rest of the ACC. Despite losing some key players from a national championship roster, Florida State returns Heisman Trophy winning Jameis Winston and a deep roster that has benefitted and prepared for this moment since the day Jimbo Fisher took over as head coach. The depth is there with loads of quality all around. Karlos Williams should have a big year at running back and Winston’s top targets in the open field will be Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary. The defense has a few holes to plug, but that should not be of much concern. Florida State looks to have the top unit or second-best unit in the entire ACC at every position on the field. There is not one game on the 2014 schedule Florida State should not be the favorite in, and they could keep this winning streak going into the playoffs. This team is clearly in College Football Playoff or bust mode with this amount of talent and the level of expectations in Tallahassee. Of all teams around the country, Florida State looks to be the most likely to be able to afford a blip in the loss column and still be invited to the playoff. But who can beat them? Anybody?

2. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat Ohio State in Orange Bowl)
The distance between Clemson and Florida State at the top of the Atlantic Division is not as widespread as last season’s meeting might suggest, but it did widen a bit heading into 2014 with the loss of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. Having Vic Beasley back on defense is rather nice. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris could have his work cut out for him in 2014 and Clemson could fall behind early if adjustments are not made. Getting to October with a winning record is not exactly a given with road trips to Georgia and Florida State lined up. Clemson should be a better team by the end of the season once they go through some growing pains early on.

3. Louisville (Last year: 12-1; beat Miami in Russell Athletic Bowl as member of AAC)
This Louisville team may be a far cry from the team we saw a year ago, but they could have a better debut season lined up compared to last year’s ACC rookies at Syracuse and Pittsburgh (and they both went to a bowl game and returned home with a win). The question is what does Bobby Petrino to get the Cardinals off on the right foot and can he continue to work some quarterback magic as the Cardinals enter the post-Teddy Bridgewater era? For starters, he feeds Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer on the ground and gets the ball to DeVante Parker through the air. Will Gardner will be the likely heir to Bridgewater’s throne under center, with just 12 pass attempts last season. The defense should be prepared for an adjustment period after returning juts four starters from last season.

4. Syracuse (Last year: 7-6; beat Minnesota in Texas Bowl)
Syracuse turned out to be a nice little surprise last season, but running back Terrell Hunt is no longer a secret. The Orange will let him carry the offense with his legs and his arm once again. If he can cut down on the interceptions and tack on a few more touchdowns through the air he will give defenses a little something extra to think about. With 15 starters back, the Orange look to have a good amount of experience on both sides of the football. They are not at a level ready to compete for a top spot in the division, but Syracuse could make a push for a third place finish if some pieces come together. The Orange have a schedule that could set up for a great start, but a challenging October will see Syracuse go through some rough spots. How they play through it will tell how their season will end.

5. Boston College (Last year: 7-6; lost to Arizona in Advocare V100 Bowl)
Steve Addazio has already breathed new life into this program, but what happens this season could be crucial. Boston College only brings back a handful of players from last season’s 7-6 squad, and they must find a way to replace 2,000-yard rusher and Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams. The primary running duties will likely be handed off to Myles Willis, and quarterback transfer Tyler Murphy from Florida should embrace a fresh opportunity with a head coach who knows all about him. The spring showed Boston College will once again be likely to rely on the running game, but help could be on the way in the passing game with some receivers getting into the mix.

6. North Carolina State (Last year: 3-9)
The 2013 season was a painful one for the Wolfpack, somewhat literally. With a rash of injuries across the roster, NC State hardly got a chance to see what it could do with new head coach Dave Doeren on the sideline. With any luck that should change this season, with 14 starters due to return this season. There is plenty of work to be done on offense and defense in Raleigh, but having a steady quarterback situation with the transfer of Jacoby Brisset from Florida could help.

7. Wake Forest (Last year: 4-8)
New head coach Dave Clawson will have to be patient as he takes over a Wake Forest team in need of improvement across the field. The offense has averaged fewer than 19 points per game each of the past two seasons. Can that possibly go one more year? Competing in this division does not make anything easier for the Demon Deacons. They could jump out to a promising start (3-1 is not completely unrealistic), but once ACC play opens it could be a long fall.

COASTAL DIVISION

1. North Carolina (Last year: 7-6; beat Cincinnati in Belk Bowl)
The biggest thing going for North Carolina is momentum. After getting off to a rough start in 2013 (1-5), the Tar Heels kicked things in gear and ended the season winning six of the final seven games of the year, including a bowl victory. Larry Fedora finally seems to have things in order for a potential run to a division title, and he does so with 15 starters coming back this season. Marquise Williams will keep the dual-threat going for the Tar Heels after leading the team in rushing in 2013 and second to Bryn Renner in passing, but getting running back TJ Logan more involved should be in the plans. North Carolina may be a little in development on the defensive line, but the linebackers and secondary are in really good shape this fall.

2. Miami (Last year: 9-4; lost to Louisville in Russell Athletic Bowl)

It is hard to believe but Miami is entering its 11th season as a member of the ACC and is still searching for a trip to the ACC Championship Game. Could this finally be the year for the Hurricanes? Al Golden certainly has a running back to lead his offense there with Duke Johnson and the defense did put up some better numbers in 2013 compared to 2012 by knocking off roughly four points and 60 yards per game. And for the first time in a while Miami posted back-to-back seasons with a positive turnover margin. Want more? The offense has increased its average scoring each season Golden has been in Miami. Yet, they can’t seem to take a firm grasp on the Coastal Division. Why? Inconsistent play. Miami will be challenged early with road games at Louisville and Nebraska and a home date against Arkansas State is no guarantee. Miami also catches Florida State on the schedule, which could hurt their chances in the division race when other possible contenders skip FSU (and Clemson).

3. Virginia Tech (Last year: 8-5; lost to UCLA in Sun Bowl)
Virginia Tech returns nine starters on offense, but the Hokies break in a new starting quarterback. Fortunately, transfer Michael Brewer is not without experience and could be ready to step right into action in Blacksburg. The offensive line has just one hold to fill as well, so stability and uniformity should not be a concern. Virginia Tech’s biggest concern will just be scoring points after averaging just 22.5 points per game last season. And that’s the catch. Virginia Tech only allowed 19.3 points per game last season, so the Hokies probably should have won more than eight games. There is a chance to get off to a good start too, because the road trip at Ohio State looks much more manageable now with Braxton Miller out for the season.

4. Pittsburgh (Last year: 7-6; beat Bowling Green in Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)
Pittsburgh loses a monster on the defensive line with Aaron Donald now in the NFL, and the secondary is extremely thin in light of some offseason news, so to say the defense is a concern is putting it nicely for the Panthers. The Panthers also allowed more points per game than they scored, which tends to be a rarity for a team with a winning record.  If the defense can clamp down just a bit more, Pittsburgh could easily play their way to a Coastal title, although they will win ugly at times. Pittsburgh has young receiver Tyler Boyd, already one of the top receivers in the ACC, and a steady running stable of James Conner and Isaac Bennett. The schedule is also extremely favorable for Pittsburgh, with no Florida State or Clemson and home games against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke.

5. Duke (Last year: 10-4; lost to Texas A&M in Chick-fil-A Bowl)
Let us not attempt to take anything away from the great work done in Durham by David Cutcliffe and his Blue Devils the last two seasons. Duke going to back-to-back bowl games was something that could once only be dreamed of. Can they get back to the postseason for a third straight year? Absolutely, but will the rest of the division and the typical football powers rebound a little to block a return trip to the ACC Championship? Duke was set to return 14 starters, but injuries have already taken a toll with an ACL tear to All-ACC linebacker Kelby Brown and another to tight end Braxton Deaver. On top of that, Duke lost quarterback Brandon Connette to a transfer to Fresno State. All is not lost though. Duke still has receiver Jamison Crowder, one of the best in the ACC, and the schedule avoids Florida State and Clemson once again. No school in the country will have an easier October either.

6. Georgia Tech (Last year: 7-6; lost to Mississippi in Music City Bowl)
Georgia Tech’s strategy will be the same as it has always been under head coach Paul Johnson; Run, run, option run. Will the Yellow Jackets be able to use that offensive style effectively enough to take the heat off of Johnson? The depth on offense is not great, although six starters return from 2013. One starter not back this season is quarterback Vad Lee, who decided to transfer this offseason. That opens the door for sophomore Justin Thomas under center, and he played sparingly last season. The big concern will be the defense. Georgia Tech allowed just 22.8 points per game last season, the lowest average since 2008, but just four starters return for the new year. Georgia Tech may still have enough to make a run at the wide-open Coastal Division (avoiding Florida State on the schedule helps, and they get Clemson at home).

7. Virginia (Last year: 2-10)
If there is one coach that is latched into the hot seat in the ACC, it may just be Virginia’s Mike London. The head coach of the Cavaliers. Virginia lost their top offensive player in tight end Jake McGee (he went to Florida), so the need for returning players to step up in 2014 cannot be overstated. Virginia does return eight starters on offense, with a handful of young players scattered throughout. Running back Kevin Parks should be the focus of the offense after a 1,000-yard season with 11 touchdowns. The defense returns nine starters from 2013, and the hope is playing experience last season will help slow down a trend in allowing more points per game each of the past three seasons. The defense was gashed for 404 yards per game last season, the highest per-game average dating back to 2007. One positive might be the number of sacks (28) was the highest sack total for Virginia since recording 29 in 2008. But Virginia has a long way to go to improve on two wins from last season.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top