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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.

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Reports: key LSU DB lost for season with torn ACL

Dwayne Thomas, Dak Prescott

It appears LSU won’t have a key piece of its secondary puzzle at its disposal moving forward.

Both the Baton Rouge Advocate and the New Orleans Times-Picayune have reported over the past 24 hours that Dwayne Thomas has a torn ACL and, as a result, will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.  The defensive back suffered the injury in the second quarter of this past Saturday’s blowout win over New Mexico State.

The football program has yet to address Thomas’ status.

The loss, if it comes to fruition, would be a significant one as Thomas is the Tigers’ starting nickel cornerback and sees extensive action.  Through five games, Thomas is fifth on the team with 24 tackles and is tied for second with 2.5 tackles for loss.

As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Thomas played in 11 games.  Thomas was a four-star member of LSU’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 14 corner in the country.

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Cincinnati staff member fired after disturbing sex-abuse arrest

Antrione Archer

The latest incident that sets the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker back to double zeroes doesn’t involve a college football player… and does involve some very disturbing allegations.

First things first: Cincinnati announced in a press release Tuesday that Antrione Archer had been terminated from his position as Tommy Tuberville‘s Director of Player Welfare & Development, a position he had held since 2011. Archer was arrested in Kentucky in June, but the school didn’t find out until last Friday. Within hours, the school stated, Archer was placed on administrative leave before he was fired four days later.

The school did not detail either the arrest or the charge Archer is facing. WKRC-TV did, however, and let’s just say it’s not a topic that’s ever come up before here at CFT.

From the television station’s website regarding the incident, which occurred in a grocery store pharmacy:

According to court records, police said Archer was in the Fort Mitchell Kroger May 27 and asked a 73-year-old employee for help finding some vitamins. Police said while she was helping him, Archer quote, “pulled his penis from his pants,” and also, “placed his exposed penis against her backside.” Police said he did this several times at different locations throughout the store.

The incident was caught on store surveillance cameras. Two weeks later, after police had identified Archer as a suspect, he was interviewed and confessed.

Archer was officially charged with third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor. The station wrote that “Archer’s attorney told Local 12 they were close to having the situation resolved through the legal system.”

(Photo credit: Cincinnati athletics)

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Taylor Kelly ‘pretty questionable’ for USC game

UCLA v Arizona State Getty Images

It appears that Taylor Kelly‘s absence from the playing field will indeed bleed into the month of October.

According to Todd Graham, the quarterback is “pretty questionable” for Arizona State’s game Saturday against USC.  After the quarterback initially suffered an unspecified foot injury in the Sept. 13 win over Colorado, the ASU head coach had downplayed the severity of the injury and the length of time Kelly would be sidelined.

Kelly is still walking with the aid of crutches and remains in a protective boot.

“Taylor has the boot on and stuff, but it’s precautionary,” Graham said Monday. “He is running in the pool, he is exercising in the pool and has no pain, so he’s doing really well.”

The good news for the Sun Devils is that the injury could cost Kelly just two games. ASU was on a bye the week after Kelly suffered the injury, and have another bye coming up next weekend. If he comes back for the Oct. 18 game against Stanford as previously reported, he’ll have missed only the UCLA and USC games.

If Kelly is sidelined as expected, Mike Bercovici would get the call. In his first career start, Bercovici threw for 488 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout loss to the Bruins. He did, though, toss a pair of interceptions.

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Michigan prez expresses ‘extreme disappointment’ over injury handling

Minnesota v Michigan Getty Images

With whispers and rumors beginning to grow that Brady Hoke could find himself on the coaching unemployment line as early as today, Michigan remains in full-blown CYA mode three days removed from its medical ineptness.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, UM president Mark Schlissel said that he wants “to express my extreme disappointment in the events surrounding the handling of an on-field injury to one of our football players, Shane Morris.” Morris was reinserted into the loss to Minnesota after suffering what was later determined to be a concussion, leading some to call for both Hoke and athletic director Dave Brandon to be fired.

Hoke was not mentioned in the statement, although Schlissel did state that he has “been in regular discussion regarding this incident and its aftermath with Athletic Director David Brandon and the Board of Regents” and that he supports the initial concussion protocol changes the athletic department has identified.

What those specifics are weren’t detailed by the president.

“Despite having one of the finest levels of team medical expertise in the country, our system failed on Saturday,” Schlissel wrote in the statement. “We did not get this right and for this I apologize to Shane, his family, his teammates, and the entire Michigan family.”

Moving forward, Schlissel said he and the regents will receive “a thorough review of our in-game player safety procedures, particularly those involving head injuries” from the athletic department. That department, at Schlissel’s behest, will also consult with university health experts in reworking the protocols for head injuries.

“Our communications going forward will be direct, transparent and timely,” a portion of the statement seemingly directed at the fan base read. “The University of Michigan stands for the highest level of excellence in everything we do, on and off the field. That standard will guide my review of this situation and all the University’s future actions.”

Hoke released a statement through the university Sunday defending his actions.

Shortly before the president’s statement was released, the school’s sports information department sent out a link to the department’s current concussion policy.  You can view that by clicking HERE.

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Backup Ole Miss DB to pursue pro baseball career

Alonzo Harris, Anthony Alford

Ahead of its huge matchup with Alabama Saturday, Ole Miss has seen its depth in the secondary take a bit of a hit.

Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze announced Tuesday that Anthony Alford has decided to leave the football team and pursue a career in professional baseball. Since being drafted in the third round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, the defensive back had participated in the club’s extended spring training program before reporting for summer camp.

The contract Alford signed with the Blue Jays had permitted him to play football for the Rebels, although that will not be an issue moving forward.

“We wish him the best. He’s a great kid.,” Freeze said in a part of his statement.

Alford actually began his collegiate career as a quarterback at Southern Miss, starting five games as a true freshman in 2012. In January of 2013, Alford transferred to Ole Miss and moved to the defensive secondary, although there had been plans to use him as a Wildcat quarterback.

After sitting out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Alford had played in all four games for the Rebels at safety in 2014. He was credited with six tackles as well as returning two punts for eight yards.

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Alabama’s Bovada title odds shorten; Mariota, Gurley Heisman faves

Todd Gurley

Thanks to the reigning champ’s struggles in a pair of victories the past couple of weeks, there continues to be a non-Florida State betting favorite to claim the first-ever College Football Playoff title.

In the latest odds released by Bovada.lv Tuesday, Alabama comes in as the title favorite at 6/1. Those odds are slightly shorter than the 13/2 odds on Sept. 23 for the Tide.

FSU and Oklahoma are at 15/2, the same as they were a week ago.

Auburn (8/1, from 15/2), Texas A&M (14/1, from 12/1), USC (33/1, from 25/1) and Wisconsin (50/1, from 40/1)all saw their odds lengthen. Among those with shorter odds than a week are Oregon (8/1, up from 9/1), UCLA (12/1, up from 18/1) and Baylor (14/1, up from 18/1).

The best odds for a one-loss team are the 14/1 for both Georgia and Michigan State.

On the Heisman side of the Bovada wagering equation, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (7/4) and Georgia running back Todd Gurley (7/2) remain the prohibitive favorites. Those are shorter odds than the 2/1 and 10/1, respectively, from seven days ago.

Ameer Abdullah has also seen a meteoric rise the last week. The Nebraska running back was 25/1 last week, but comes in today at 9/1 along with A&M quarterback Kenny Hill.

Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston has seen his odds lengthen even further, moving from 20/1 to 22/1. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, at 50/1, has the best odds of a Group of Five player. In fact, Cato is the only player from one of those conference to be listed by Bovada.

Below are the complete set of odds for both the College Football Playoff title and Heisman Trophy, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

September 30 Bovada CFP Odds

September 30 Bovada Heisman Odds I

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ACC announces priorities for new autonomy structure

Over the summer the 65 schools making up the power conferences voted in favor to form a new structure of autonomy. Now that this major step was behind them, conferences were tasked with coming up with the details for this new structure. The ACC has taken that step by submitting its initial priorities for consideration under the new power structure. Among the items listed by the ACC are scholarship protection for student-athletes, meeting the cost-of-attendance and the ability an institution can provide for educational support for former student-athletes. The deadline to send these priorities to the NCAA offices is tomorrow, October 1.

“The ACC has consistently been a leader in appropriately balancing academics and athletics,” said Donna Shalala, Chair of the ACC Council of Presidents and President of the University of Miami, in a statement released by the ACC. “The list of priorities that we are submitting to the NCAA reflects our determination to continue improving our student-athletes’ experience as an integral part of the educational missions of our world-class universities.”

Per a release from the ACC, the initial priorities being sent forward by the ACC include:

  • Examination of scholarship protections for student-athletes;
  • Meeting a student-athlete’s cost of attendance;
  • Ensuring institutional flexibility to provide educational support for former student-athletes;
  • Examination of career-related insurance options for student-athletes; and
  • Ensuring that nutritional needs of student-athletes are met in a reasonable way

Most of this is rather straightforward at this point in the development of the autonomy structure. Cost-of-attendance has been discussed for a long time now, and the opportunities to expand on assisting former student-athletes looks like a nice benefit as well for players who may turn pro and return to school to finish their education.

It is somewhat expected the other power conferences — Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — will echo these priorities in some form.

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New Jersey congressman asks Big Ten to review concussion policies

Bill Pascrell, Joe Crowley

It was only a matter of time before some government official decided to toss his name into the unfolding saga in Ann Arbor focusing on the handling of quarterback Shane Morris and his concussion. Enter New Jersey congressman Shane Morris and his concussion. Enter New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, who has sent a letter to the Big Ten offices asking for the conference to re-evaluate policies related to head injuries.

Morris was on the receiving end of a hit Saturday afternoon that is believed to lead to a concussion. By now you know the story of how this was handled, with head coach Brady Hoke apparently being left in the dark about the whole process and athletics director Dave Brandon admitting there was a system failure in the line of communication. Rep. Pascrell took notice of what was happening, which is to be expected. Pascrell is the co-founder and co-chair for the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

Pascrell’s letter to the Big Ten offices, which can be read in its entirety here, addresses the seemingly confusing statements made by Hoke during his Monday press conference regarding the status of Morris. Hoke was unaware Morris has suffered a concussion on Monday and said Morris would have practiced Sunday night if not for a high ankle sprain. Brandon’s statement raised a caution flag on the timeline of this news by admitting Morris had been diagnosed with a mild concussion on Sunday.

“Allowing a possibly concussed player to determine whether or not he is fit to return to play not only violates common sense, but is also an egregious violation of standard concussion protocol, including protocol set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Big Ten Conference,” the letter from Pascrell claims. Again, if Brandon’s statement is to be taken at its word, it is plausible to believe Hoke really did have no idea a concussion was in play, as the medical staff cleared Morris to return to the field despite an ankle injury and nothing more known at the time.

Pascrell has previously contacted FIFA about concussion management and treatment as well, so sending a letter to the Big Ten in light of this recent development stays in line with his track record.

The entire response to this incident at Michigan has been a bit of a mess, and it may be time for the Big Ten to weigh on this issue on their own and cooperate with the requests from the congressman.

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Why a buyout of AD Brandon’s contract may not be likely at Michigan

Shane Morris

This Michigan mess is just that, and it does not appear to be getting any cleaner.

The students are uniting in a stand against Michigan athletics director Dave Brandon. Brandon’s job has been scrutinized from every angle. Brady Hoke may be destined to be hitting the unemployment line at the end of the year, but Brandon is a different situation. Michigan could, in theory, buyout the remainder of Brandon’s contract as AD for a reported $3 million.

As reported by MLive.com this afternoon, Michigan would owe Brandon $3 million if they fire him before the end of the year. The contract Brandon has as AD calls for a payout equal to the remaining total under the contract if he is removed from his position prior to July 1, 2016.

For a program that has been looking for ways to save a few bucks and fill a few seats, a decision to buyout the remaining contract of Brandon on top of a potential coaching change may not be the most desirable direction.

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Texas A&M completes installation of new turf

Kyle Field

Texas A&M has played just one home game so far this season at Kyle Field, and it was a hot mess when it came to the playing conditions of the field. While the Aggies have been taking their show on the road in recent weeks, Texas A&M paid $300,000 to bring in a brand new playing surface from North Carolina. The installation of the new field is complete and ready for the next home game, on October 11 against Ole Miss.

Here’s hoping the weather holds up and allows Texas A&M to keep their turf in good shape.

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Michigan student petition for firing of AD Brandon has 3,167 signatures and counting

Notre Dame v Michigan

Michigan students are doing their part to have their voices heard this week with regard to the handling of the football program. On Monday the student newspaper called for head coach Brady Hoke to lose his job. Today a petition demanding the athletics director Dave Brandon to be relieved of duties is gaining traction as well. As of this posting, over 3,100 students had signed the petition.

As summarized by the online petition, Brandon stated “athletic programs play [a role] in helping to shape the culture and image of our university community.” The petition then states the following;

“Unfortunately, under Mr. Brandon’s tenure, the football program, one of the most prominent programs at the University of Michigan and in the nation, has become a black eye for the University of Michigan. Instead of adding to the image and prestige of the university, the state of the athletic department has hurt the connection shared between alumni, fans, and the university. Furthermore, policies and decisions of the athletic department have alienated the current student body. As a result, the university risks producing a generation of alumni that are disinterested and disengaged. Finally, President Mark Schlissel previously stated that one draw of the athletic program is to provide an avenue for “public attention on to the other wonderful things that are happening on campus…” When the athletic department produces overwhelmingly negative media attention, it distracts from the main mission of the university.”

Brandon released a statement in the middle of the night addressing the handling and response to the injury to quarterback Shane Morris. It raised some questions while providing reason for the mishandling of the situation from the top down on the sidelines.

It is probably not likely Brandon will lose his job over this, but the reaction is fair for the most part. There is no question this has been mismanaged from all angles, but will ultimately take responsibility for the actions or lack thereof?

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Doeren issues apology to Fisher for faking injury accusation

Jimbo Fisher, Dave Doeren

NC State head coach Dave Doeren took a shot at Florida State following Saturday’s defeat to the top-ranked team in the nation. Doeren made the accusation Florida State players were faking injuries in an attempt to slow down the tempo of the game, which saw the Wolfpack give Florida State’s defense all it could handle. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher took exception to those remarks and responded by suggesting took exception to those remarks and responded by suggesting Doeren had no clue what he was talking about, and that he should worry about coaching NC State instead.

On Tuesday Doeren issued a public statement saying he has apologized to Fisher for his remarks. The statement was released via Twitter.

As suggested yesterday, it is rare to see one of the top teams in the country accused of faking injuries to slow down the opponent’s momentum. Florida State was already facing some injury depth concerns on the defensive line, so it is reasonable to expect some players slowing down at some point, but there is not much evidence to suggest Florida State was faking any injuries along the way.

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Texas Tech QB Webb is day-to-day

Davis Webb

Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb is day-to-day for the Red Raiders heading into this weekend’s game against Kansas State. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury provided that update Monday during a Big 12 coaches conference call. Webb injured his left shoulder in a Thursday night loss at Oklahoma State last week, but Kingsbury is not ruling out his possible return this weekend on the road in Manhattan.

“Just make sure he can protect himself, really, and operate at a level we need him to operate,” Kingsbury said, according to The Dallas Morning News,  when asked what needed to happen for Webb to return to the field to play this weekend. “But more than anything, that he can handle taking a hit and protect himself.”

Webb was sacked just once by Oklahoma State on Thursday night, but he did take a beating at times. Webb had 54 passing attempts and three rushes. He was intercepted twice and fumbled once, but the fumble was recovered by Texas Tech. Ball protection will be important for Webb moving forward.

“That’s two weeks in a row we’ve given a very good football team the ball inside our own 15, and they’ve scored on all four of those chances, so that’s the biggest deal,” Kingsbury said Monday. “We’re not protecting the ball against quality opponents. You’ve got to do that to win.”

Kansas State enters this weekend’s game with Texas Tech with a -2 turnover margin. The only two teams in the Big 12 with a worse turnover margin are Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Red Raiders and Mountaineers each have a -5 turnover margin.

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Urban Meyer says Braxton Miller will be back in 2015

Wisconsin v Ohio State

Ohio State looks like they are going to survive the 20145 season without Braxton Miller at quarterback. After a rough start to the season with a tough test at Navy and a home loss to Virginia Tech, tough test at Navy and a home loss to Virginia Tech, J.T. Barrett has grown and the Buckeyes offense has been playing well. Ohio State still looks like a team capable of winning the Big Ten this season, if they can get by Michigan State later in the season. Whatever happens this season, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer remains confident he will have Miller back under center in 2015.

“Braxton is our quarterback,” Meyer said Monday, per ESPN.com. “To be fair to Braxton, Big Ten Player of the Year. But it’s good to know we’ve got both of them.”

Miller was lost for the season with a right shoulder (his throwing shoulder) injury in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season. The shoulder was initially hurt during Ohio State’s Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. Miller had surgery that went well and could be on track to return for Ohio State in 2015, which he has stated is his plan. The NFL could also come calling for Miller, but with a shoulder injury it may be better to come back in 2015 and show the shoulder is healed and good to go. Otherwise, Miller would be considered a huge draft risk for any franchise looking for a quarterback. A healthy 2015 season could move Miller up the big boards.

And if Miller returns for 2015, Ohio State could once again start the year with playoff expectations.

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Michigan AD admits lack of communication regarding Shane Morris concussion, but statement raises more questions

Brady Hoke, Devin Gardner, Shane Morris

Michigan’s lack of communication on the sideline led to the mishandling of a head injury to quarterback Shane Morris on Saturday. As it turns out, Morris did suffer a concussion to go with a high ankle sprain. Michigan athletics director Dave Brandon says he has been thoroughly reviewing the situation the past few days and admits to a “serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline.”

“Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes,” Brandon said in the Michigan statement released overnight. “I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made. We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first.”

Morris was on the receiving end of a big hit from Minnesota defensive end Theiren Cockran. The hit appeared to leave Morris wobbly, but the quarterback appeared to wave off trainers for assistance and remained on the field. During his Monday press conference, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke suggested that “tells you something” about the competitive nature of the player. Hoke said he did not see the hit and believed Morris was playing through pain in his ankle, which was injured earlier in the game. He was cleared to play through the ankle injury by medical staff at the time. The statement from Michigan released overnight states nobody on the Michigan sideline saw the hit to Morris, which led to the lack of response for care for possible head trauma.

“We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes’ well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly,” Brandon said. “From the field level and without the benefit of replays, medical and coaching staffs did not see the hit. Because they did not see the hit, the athletic training staff believed Shane stumbled because of his ankle injury.”

Brandon said a team neurologist did not see the hit on Morris but did not notice the stumbling on the field. He determined Morris needed to be evaluated but because he did not see the hit he was unaware of the severity of the possible injury. Because he did not see the hit, the medical trainer cleared Morris to return to the field after just one play, which is what led to the whole mess blowing up in Michigan’s face the past few days.

Michigan’s statement does have some clarity and does explain how something like this could happen. If legit, it also raises some more questions. How did Brady Hoke not become aware of any of this internal reviewing when he went out for his Monday press conference? During his press conference on Monday Hoke said if not for the high ankle injury, Morris would have practiced with the team Sunday night. According to the Michigan statement, Morris was diagnosed with a mild concussion on Sunday. Did Hoke know that? If not, then why not? Hoke is still responsible for the actions of the football staff, including to a certain degree the medical staff. This does not clear Hoke entirely from guilt, but if we are to take this Michigan statement as the full and accurate explanation for what unfolded, Michigan left Hoke out to dry.

You can read the full statement from Brandon on Michigan’s website.

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