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Predictions 101 — Outback Bowl

South Carolina v Clemson Getty Images

No. 11 South Carolina vs. No. 19 Michigan
Jan. 1 – 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tampa, Fla. – Raymond James Stadium

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier (207-77-2 career) is one of the game’s legends. But he is just 8-10 in bowl games, so this one is meaningful.

Especially against Michigan.

Spurrier, one of the traditionalists, was waxing about what it meant to play Michigan, one of college football’s iconic programs, the winged helmets, “Hail to the Victors,’’ all of that. Even though South Carolina’s year (10-2) imploded with back-to-back defeats against LSU and Florida – not to mention the season-ending loss of RB Marcus Lattimore – beating the Wolverines would finish things on a high note.

Michigan (8-4) had designs on so much more. Wolverine fans were talking national championship – yes, unrealistically. The losses were against the national-championship opponents (Alabama, Notre Dame), a Big Ten division titlist (Nebraska) and an unbeaten rival (Ohio State).

This matchup features two of the game’s most electrifying talents – South Carolina sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney, basically unblockable, and Michigan QB/RB/WR Denard Robinson, who could line up anywhere.

Opening point spread: South Carolina by 4 1/2

The pick: South Carolina 27, Michigan 17

Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.

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Texas player apologizes for coin-flip error

Mack Brown, Desmond Jackson

Saturday night got off to a weird start for the Texas Longhorns when a slip in managing the coin toss resulted in UCLA getting to receive the football first in both halves. Texas captain Desmond Jackson inexplicably told the ref Texas wanted to kick off to start the game, after UCLA had won the coin flip and deferred to the second half. This resulted in Texas having to kick off to the Bruins at the start of the first and second half. The bizarre coin flip sequence quickly became a point of ridicule for the Longhorns, and Jackson felt a need to apologize for the error in football judgement. He did so by issuing a public apology via his Twitter account on Tuesday.

UCLA won the football game, 20-17. Would Texas getting one of the half-opening possessions have changed the outcome? It is impossible to guess how things might have been different. The game still went down to the wire. The only time a mistake in the coin flip may have taken a costly toll on the Longhorns might have been if the mistake had taken place in overtime, with Texas choosing to play defense second rather than the more traditional option of playing defense first.

Mistakes happen, but mistakes are bigger in Texas.

Helmet sticker to The Oklahoman.

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Michigan State d-line could receive boost for B1G schedule

Michigan State v Notre Dame

Michigan State is set to officially begin defending their Big Ten championship reign at the beginning of October, at home against Nebraska. By then, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio believes his defensive line will be ready to go with the returns of a pair of linemen to the depth chart. The head coach of the Spartans said on Tuesday he expects defensive tackles Damon Knox and James Kittredge to be ready to go by the time conference play starts.

“We’re going to get Kittredge back, we’re going to get Damon Knox back, that gives us six defensive tackles to play once we get into Big Ten season,” Dantonio said, per MLive.com.

Knox underwent surgery for an undisclosed injury at the beginning of August. At the time, Dantonio told reporters the defensive lineman would miss some playing time but a timetable for a return was not specified. Knox was projected to be a starter on the Michigan State defensive line this season.

Kittredge transferred to Michigan State from Vanderbilt in 2011. He was injured in the season opener against Jacksonville State.

Michigan State has two more games to play before opening the Big Ten portion of the 2014 against Nebraska on October 4. This weekend the Spartans host in-state MAC foe Eastern Michigan. Next week Michigan State will welcome Wyoming to Spartan Stadium. These are games Michigan State should win without much concern, but the hope will continue to be to avoid further injuries before conference play.

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FBS receiving yards leader among dozen added to Biletnikoff watch list

KD Cannon, Fred Thomas AP

This right here is Exhibit No. 3,456 why preseason watch lists are brutally unnecessary.

Tuesday morning, the Biletnikoff Award announced that 12 players have been added to its watch list.  Among those added were the nation’s top two in receiving yards — Baylor’s KD Cannon (471) and West Virginia’s Kevin White (460) — three games into the 2014 season.  In fact, every single one of the dozen players added are in the Top 14 in the country in that category.

The only two players among the 14 receiving yards leaders that weren’t added — Alabama’s Amari Cooper (third) and Northern Illinois’ Da’Ron Brown (ninth) — were already included in the award’s preseason watch list.

With the inclusion of Cannon, a true freshman, the Bears now have three receivers in the running for the Biletnikoff, the other two being Antwan Goodly and Levi Norwood.  Neither one of those two have caught a pass this season due to injury, but that didn’t stop a BU assistant from touting the new “WideReceiverU.”

Below is the list of the 12 receivers added to the Biletnikoff watch list.

KD Cannon, Baylor
Travin Dural, LSU
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Geno Lewis, Penn State
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Isiah Myers, Washington State
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Kevin White, West Virginia

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Report: injury will sideline A&M’s Speedy Noil for 3-5 weeks

Lamar v Texas A&M

Yes, yes, yes.  Let’s hope he has a speedy recovery.  Now, with that out of the way, we can move on.

According to 247Sports.com, and citing unnamed sources, Texas A&M wide receiver Speedy Noil sustained an injury to the MCL in his left knee during the win over Rice Saturday.  Because of the injury, Noil will miss 3-5 weeks.

At the short end of the prognosis, Noil would miss games against SMU (Sept. 20), Arkansas (Sept. 27) and Mississippi State (Oct. 4).  Also in jeopardy for Noil are matchups with Ole Miss (Oct. 11) and Alabama (Oct. 18).

Head coach Kevin Sumlin would only state that Noil likely won’t play this weekend.  He also took to task the report of Noil being out for upwards of a month.

Through three games, Noil, a five-star member of A&M’s most recent recruiting class, is third on the team in receptions (12) and second in receiving yards (197).  He’s also the team’s leading punt returner — three returns for 74 yards, with a long of 67 — and has returned one kickoff for 53.

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One of Iowa State’s top WRs could be done for year

P.J. Harris, Darian Cotton

When it comes to the passing game — and thanks to one very significant injury — Iowa State likes to spread the wealth. Moving forward, there will be one less recipient of that offensive generosity.

Monday, Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads confirmed that P.J. Harris has a broken leg and will be out for the foreseeable future. Harris suffered the injury during ISU’s win over in-state rival Iowa this past weekend.

Rhoads stopped short of proclaiming Harris out for the season, saying instead that “P.J. may be able to be back later” this year. That, though, doesn’t sound promising.

Through three games, Harris is tied for second — with two other players — on the team with nine receptions. Harris, a three-star member of ISU’s 2012 recruiting class, caught seven passes as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

Rhoads did, though, confirm that backup offensive tackle Jacob Dunning suffered a ruptured patella tendon in the win over the Hawkeyes.

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Kevin Olsen ‘no longer a student at Miami’

Kevin Olsen

And just like that, Kevin Olsen‘s very brief career as a Miami Hurricane football player has come to an end.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Miami confirmed the expected by announcing that the erstwhile UM quarterback no longer a part of either the football team or the university. “Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami. We wish him the very best in the future,” a statement from the school read.

The separation, needless to say, was far from a mutual decision by both parties.

Olsen was arrested very early Monday morning and charged with driving under the influence and possession of a stolen or fictitious driver’s license following a traffic stop. That off-field misstep came a month and a half after it was reported Olsen would be suspended for the opener, reportedly for failing a drug test.

Olsen had been involved in the Hurricanes’ quarterback competition throughout the offseason, which was eventually whittled down to Kansas transfer Jake Heaps and true freshman Brad Kaaya.  The latter ultimately won the job.

A four-star member of Miami’s 2013 recruiting class, Olsen was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country.  He’s the younger brother of former Hurricanes standout Greg Olsen.

During his two years with the ‘Canes, Olsen did not attempt a pass.

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Touted 2015 QB charged with assault hours after release from jail

Jayru Campbell

Forget about getting his football career back on track; the life of a touted 2015 quarterback prospect is hurtling straight toward years and years worth of incarceration.

Detroit Cass Tech (Mich.) High School’s Jayru Campbell is — or at least was — given a four-star rating by Rivals.com, rated as the No. 9 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2015.  He had been a Michigan State verbal before, ahem, “decommitting” from the Spartans back in June.

Late last week, the 17-year-old Campbell was arrested and charged after allegedly assaulting his 17-year-old girlfriend at Cass Tech. Campbell has officially been charged with unarmed robbery, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and misdemeanor domestic violence assault and battery.

Those charges came hours — literally — after Campbell had been released from jail after serving a 60-day sentence connected to an earlier assault on a school security officer. This latest assault will result in a probation violation, which in and of itself could trigger significant jail time for the troubled teen. And that doesn’t even take into account the potential sentences for his latest charges: assault to do great bodily harm, a felony that could lead to up to 10 years in jail; unarmed robbery, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail; and domestic violence, a misdemeanor worth up to 93 days in jail.

As for the details of what led to those potentially serious charges, this from the Detroit News HERE and HERE pretty much sums it up:

He reportedly grabbed his girlfriend’s phone, saw whom she was texting when he was in jail, went into a rage and began choking her.

According to the prosecutor’s office, “during school hours it is alleged that Campbell was at Cass Tech when he assaulted his girlfriend in front of other students over a dispute over a phone.”

Again, that alleged assault came just 3-4 hours after he had been released from jail at noon for an earlier assault.

Campbell missed the start of the 2014 season, his senior year, because he was in jail serving 47 of the 60 days to which he was sentenced. This latest incident all but assures his high school career is over, although that’s not the least bit surprising given the player’s propensity for violence.

In late May, Campbell was sentenced to, among other things, 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to misdemeanor aggravated assault.  The quarterback had originally been charged with felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm after he body slammed a school security guard who had the audacity to tell him to remove a hood; that charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors.

 

The school security guard incident wasn’t the first instance of violence involving Campbell, however.

Last November, Campbell was again (somewhat) caught on video, this time punching a Detroit Catholic Central player in the handshake line following a Cass Tech playoff loss. The Detroit News reported Campbell was suspended for 3-5 days by the school immediately following that incident. He was also suspended for the 2014 season opener, a suspension he served while behind bars.

In the video below, you don’t see the actual punch that was acknowledged by the player’s own coach, but you do see the aftermath — including, ironically enough, Campbell being put to the ground by another man:

 

“I’m not a thug,” Campbell said during a June TV interview, prior to serving his jail term. “I would not consider myself as a criminal. I would consider myself as a natural-born leader and someone that likes to help others. …

“I just learned that violence is not the answer. There’s different ways that you can solve a problem. … Learn to forgive. It took some time but I would say I definitely got to the point where I’m thinking before I react.”

What’s the old axiom, actions speak louder than words? Yeah, that pretty much sums up this whole sordid situation.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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USU gets good news on Chuckie Keeton injury front

Chuckie Keeton AP

Thanks to what transpired in 2013, Utah State and its fan are rather cognizant of any type of injury scare when it comes to Chuckie Keeton.

Fortunately for USU and its followers, this latest one’s just that, a scare. Probably.

In the first half of USU’s win over Wake Forest Saturday, Keeton suffered an injury to his left knee — the same knee in which significant ligaments were torn asunder last year. While the quarterback finished out the half, he didn’t play the last two quarters because of the issue and instead spent the second half on the sidelines and on crutches.

The bad news is Keeton will not play in this weekend’s game against Arkansas State. The good news? Following the bye in Week 5, Keeton is expected to be back for the Oct. 3 game against BYU. Maybe.

“Chuckie is fine from a health standpoint,” head coach Matt Wells said. “The ACL is all intact; everything’s good. But it’s banged up, guys, and that’s the bottom line.

“So, we’re going to sit him out this week, and we’re going to sit him out next week. Then we’re going to re-evaluate him during the BYU week.”

In the first half of the game against the Demon Deacons, Keeton was 20-of-27 for 166 yards passing and a touchdown. And it won’t be his last on-field action as Wells was emphatic that “he’s not out for the year.”

With Keeton out for the ASU game at bare minimum, though, Darrell Garretson will get the start. After replacing Keeton in the road win over the ACC school, Garretson completed 11-of-16 passes for 121 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The fact that USU may be erring on the side of caution when it comes to one of the most underrated players in the country is not the least bit surprising.

Keeton suffered a tear of both the ACL and MCL in his knee during an early-October loss to BYU last season and was held out of the 15 spring practice sessions as a precaution.  In May, just four months ago, Keeton was medically cleared to resume football activities seven months after the injury.

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UW Huskies get starting corner back from suspension

Washington v Hawaii

Marcus Peters sat out Washington’s win over Illinois this past Saturday because of what was essentially a toddler-level temper tantrum on the sidelines the week before.

After serving that timeout, it appears the cornerback is set for a return. Probably.

We got him back,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said after Peters had returned to practice. “He’s back with us. We’ll just take it one day at a time.”

Petersen was non-committal, at least for now, when it comes to Peters reassuming his starting roll.  When asked if Peters has been doing well since his eviction from the doghouse, Petersen quipped, “for the first six hours, yes.”

Not counting the Illini game, Peters has started 22 of the last 23 games at cornerback for the Huskies. He was named second-team All-Pac-12 following the 2013 season.

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WVU CB Daryl Worley suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules

West Virginia v Alabama Getty Images

Well, this isn’t what you want to happen five days before No. 4 Oklahoma comes to town.

West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley has been suspended indefinitely for the ubiquitous “violation of team rules”, head coach Dana Holgorsen announced Monday night.

Worley registered 45 tackles and an interception in five starts a year ago as a freshman. The Philadelphia native was one of three Mountaineers selected to represent the club at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas this summer, if you’re looking for an idea of where he stood on the team. Through three games this season, Worley has posted 17 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a team-best two interceptions.

The good news here is that West Virginia’s secondary won’t be totally depleted. As Worley moves off the active roster, senior cornerback Ishmael Banks replaces him. Banks’ three-game, NCAA-mandated suspension for academic issues is now over. Banks started all 12 games at cornerback in 2013, and posted two interceptions.

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Todd Graham, AD Ray Anderson pledge a combined $1 million for Sun Devil Stadium renovation

Weber State v Arizona State Getty Images

Arizona State’s leadership is serious about renovating Sun Devil Stadium. So serious, in fact, that two major figures inside the athletics department have pledged a cool $1 million to get it done.

Head coach Todd Graham and athletics director Ray Anderson, along with their wives, have each pledged $500,000 to the $50 million fundraising campaign to renovate the 56-year-old stadium. They are the largest gifts in the history of the Arizona State athletics department made by ASU employees.

“Pick the cliche, skin in the game, put your money where your mouth is, you’ve got to walk the walk,” Anderson told the Arizona Republic on Monday. “I think intuitively the four of us understood we needed to step up and be able to answer those challenges, and we believe we have in a significant way to the extent our circumstances allow. Now Todd and I can go out much more credibly and much more comfortably to ask others to say, ‘Join us in this transformational experience.’ We can do it much more emphatically, because in fact we put skin in the game.”

Graham earns $2.4 million in his third year as the Sun Devils’ head coach. Anderson earns $600,000, but can afford to pledge more than 80 percent of his salary after multiple decades in high-paying positions within the sports business. Anderson spent many years as an agent before working as a labor lawyer in Atlanta, then executive vice president and chief administration officer for the Atlanta Falcons, and then as executive vice president of football operations for the NFL before joining the Sun Devils’ athletics department. He reportedly made $1.69 million with the NFL.

“We’re not following anybody else’s model,” Graham said. “It’s the Arizona State model. We have an opportunity to do something great. It’s a family decision for us, but it wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. It was a no-brainer because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we wanted to step up and say, ‘The Grahams are committed.'”

So committed is Anderson to getting this project done that he hired Greg McElroy Sr. away from the Dallas Cowboys to serve as associate vice president and chief business development officer.

All told, the project is slated to cost $225 million, with construction beginning next year.

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Army announces 2015 schedule, includes trip to Happy Valley, date with Rutgers at Yankee Stadium

Jeff Monken

Army is but two games into its 2014 season, but its 2015 schedule is already set.

The Black Knights unveiled their 2015 slate on Monday, highlighted by a trip to Penn State, a home date with Duke, a return to Yankee Stadium to face Rutgers, and the traditional finale versus Navy. Army will also face Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy rival Air Force on Nov. 7 in Colorado Springs; the Black Knights have not claimed the trophy since 1996, and have posted a combined 4-34 record against their service academy rivals since then.

The Rutgers game will be Army’s third appearance in the new Yankee Stadium. The Black Knights fell to Notre Dame 27-3 on Nov. 20, 2010, and will face Connecticut in the House That Jeter Built on Nov. 8 of this season.

The date with Penn State represents the 26th all-time meeting between the Black Knights and Nittany Lions, but first since 1979. Penn State holds a 13-10-2 lead, and has claimed the last nine meetings.

Army will be one just three FBS Independents next season, as Navy begins is maiden voyage in the American Athletic Conference.

Army is 1-1 in the debut campaign of head coach Jeff Monken.

The full schedule:

Sept. 5 – vs. Fordham
Sept. 12 – at Connecticut
Sept. 19 – vs. Wake Forest
Sept. 26 – at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 3 – at Penn State
Oct. 10 – vs. Duke
Oct. 17 – vs. Bucknell
Oct. 24 – at Rice
Nov. 7 – at Air Force
Nov. 14 – vs. Tulane
Nov. 21 – vs. Rutgers (at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.)
Dec. 12 – vs. Navy (at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia)

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UCLA announces signing of top-ranked QB Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen

With Brett HundleyMyles Jack and company on the field, the present state of UCLA football looks pretty good. And with today’s news, the future looks pretty dang sunny as well.

The Bruins formally announced the signing of quarterback recruit Josh Rosen on Monday afternoon. A five-star recruit if there ever was one, Rosen is the No. 2 ranked player among the Class of 2015 according to Rivals.com, and the nation’s highest rated quarterback. Hailing from St. John Bosco High School and Bellflower, Calif., Rosen has 5,287 career passing yards and 61 touchdowns to his credit. As a junior, the 6-foot-4, pro style signal caller completed nearly 70 percent of his throws for 3,200 yards with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

Rosen guided St. John Bosco to a 16-0 record and a CIF State Open Division Bowl title a year ago, and has his club ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today. But other than that, the kid has nothing going for him.

Rosen is set to join the Bruins at the beginning of the winter quarter, which starts Jan. 2.

With redshirt junior quarterback Brett Hundley figured to accept the riches some NFL team will bestow upon him this spring, Rosen will compete with the blonde locks and late-game heroics of Jerry NeuheiselAsiantii WoulardMike Fafaul and a host of others for the staring role in 2015.

The Bruins also added four-star junior college outside linebacker Takk McKinley on Monday.

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Georgia RB Nick Chubb undergoes thumb surgery

Clemson v Georgia Getty Images

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will have even fewer excuses for not getting the ball to Todd Gurley for the next week or so. Freshman running back Nick Chubb underwent thumb surgery on Monday after suffering an injury during practice last week.

Playing with his left thumb under extra glove and protective wrapping, Chubb toted the rock four times for 34 yards in the 13th-ranked Bulldogs’ 38-35 loss to No. 14 South Carolina.

Chubb’s availability for Saturday’s date with Troy figures to be in doubt, but nothing has been finalized.

“They said they would see how he’s doing (Tuesday) before they make that decision,” his mother, Lavelle Chub, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Possibly this week but they’re not really sure (how long he’ll be out).”

The freshman has splashed on the scene in a loaded backfield through two games, rushing eight times for 104 yards and a touchdown. His 13 yards per carry average places him second nationally.

Georgia hosts Troy on Saturday, and then re-opens SEC play with consecutive home dates against Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

 

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Iowa State OL Jacob Gannon rejoins team after battling anxiety

Jacob Gannon, Christian Dudzik

One of the strangest stories of this young 2014 season has come full-circle in a positive way.

After abruptly leaving the team under uncertain circumstances 11 days ago, Iowa State offensive tackle Jacob Gannon rejoined the team on Monday.

The reason for Gannon’s departure was anxiety, and thankfully his condition is well enough under control that he can return to the club immediately.“I have been recently diagnosed with anxiety,” Gannon said in a statement. “I am receiving treatment for my condition and I am looking forward to being a part of the football team. I want to thank Coach Rhoads and my teammates for their support.”

“We are glad Jacob is back with the Cyclone football family,” added head coach Paul Rhoads. “We are behind Jacob 100 percent and will continue to support him throughout the process.”

Kudos to Gannon for realizing he had an issue, and credit to Iowa State for creating an environment where he can get treatment for an unseen ailment. That’s not always the case in the rah-rah, macho football culture.

Gannon started 13 of his 36 career appearances before leaving the club in the aftermath of the Cyclones’ 34-14 season-opening loss to North Dakota State. He was replaced at right tackle by redshirt freshman Jake Campos.

A three-year letterwinner, Gannon is also a two-time Academic All-Big 12 performer and was honored with a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete award.

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