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2013 Pittsburgh football recruiting class

Paul Chryst AP

(Below are the bios released by Pittsburgh on the 27 members of its 2013 recruiting class.)

Carson Baker, OL, 6-5, 280, Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn
A three-year, two-way starter at tackle for Ohio Division I (largest classification) program…Southwest Ohio All-District…Dayton Daily News All-Area…first team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC)…two-time first team All-GWOC South Division…selected to play in the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic…named Fairborn’s Most Valuable Player, Power Award (top lineman) recipient and team captain…rated one of the top 90 prospects in Ohio by Scout…played under Coach Roy Thobe.

Chris Blewitt, PK, 5-9, 165, Alexandria, Va./West Potomac
Rated one of the nation’s top six placekickers by Scout…received his scholarship offer from Pitt after a standout performance at the Panthers’ specialist camp in June 2012…won the camp’s kickoff competition and a single-elimination field-goal contest, kicking a hurry-up 55-yarder…selected VirginiaPreps.com All-State Class AAA…first team All-Northern Region…first team All-Patriot District…kicked 18 field goals and 72 extra points over his final two seasons…his senior year, kicked eight field goals with a long of 51 yards and also averaged 43 yards on punts…rated one of the top 40 overall prospects in Virginia by Scout…played under Coach Jeremiah Davis.

Tyler Boyd, WR, 6-2, 185, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
One of the state’s most highly recruited players…finished his career ranking among the most productive performers in Western Pennsylvania history…set a WPIAL record with 117 career touchdowns…finished as the fifth-leading rusher in WPIAL annals with 5,755 yards…played diverse roles (running back, receiver, quarterback, defensive back and punt returner) for perennial power Clairton, which went 48-0 in his three years as a starter and 63-1 (.984) in his four varsity seasons under Coach Tom Nola…the Bears won four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles during his career…as a senior, rushed for 2,584 yards and 43 touchdowns, had 295 yards receiving on just 13 catches and led the WPIAL in scoring with 51 total TDs and 345 points…selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio’s Alamodome, where he announced his decision to attend Pitt during NBC’s live telecast…first team MaxPreps Small School All-American…two-time selection as the Class A Player of the Year by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pennsylvania Football News 2011 Class A Offensive Player of the Year…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2012 Player of the Year…named to the Rivals 250 (No. 103) and ESPN 300 (No. 165) national prospect lists…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 8 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 12 wide receiver by Rivals and the No. 12 safety by Scout…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Zach Challingsworth, WR, 6-2, 185, McDonald, Pa./South Fayette
Was a standout for South Fayette in all three phases of the game…was a starting wide receiver and defensive back, while also serving as the team’s punter and top kick returner…selected All-State Class AA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…rated one of the top 35 prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout…averaged 20.5 yards per catch as a senior, compiling 58 receptions for 1,190 yards and 15 touchdowns…also averaged 7.0 yards per rush (147 yards on 21 carries) with two TDs as a Wildcat quarterback…on defense had 29 tackles and four interceptions…averaged 18.7 yards per INT return, taking two back for touchdowns…averaged 33.3 yards per kick return and 15.4 yards per punt return…compiled career receiving totals of 147 catches for 2,759 yards (18.8 avg.) and 38 touchdowns…led team to a three-year record of 33-6 (.846) and berths in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs each season…his sophomore year, South Fayette went 15-1, winning the WPIAL championship and finishing as the PIAA Class AA runner-up…played under Coach Joe Rossi.

Tra’Von Chapman, QB, 6-2, 200, Kent, Ohio/Theodore Roosevelt
Enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation from Theodore Roosevelt…will participate in spring drills…rated the No. 2 quarterback and No. 15 overall prospect in Ohio by Rivals…rated the nation’s No. 12 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals and No. 20 overall QB by Scout…selected first team All-Ohio Division II by The Associated Press…Northeast Inland All-District…Portage Trail Conference Metro Division Offensive Player of the Year…threw for 5,736 yards and 62 touchdowns and rushed for 1,506 yards and 19 TDs over his junior and senior seasons…as a senior, set single-season school records for passing yards (2,901), touchdown passes (33) and total offense (3,650)…set school career records for passing yards (5,736) and total offense (7,246)…other records include single-game passing yards (454 vs. Hoban), passing touchdowns (seven vs. Springfield) and total offense (562 vs. Hoban)…led Theodore Roosevelt to back-to-back 10-2 seasons and consecutive trips to the Ohio Division II state playoffs…played under Coach John Nemec.

James Conner, RB, 6-2, 230, Erie, Pa./McDowell
Highly productive runner and pass rusher at McDowell, earning accolades for both roles…selected All-State Class AAAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers as a senior running back…named Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA at running back his senior year and as a defensive lineman his junior year…Erie Times-News All-District 10…led McDowell to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs as a senior after rushing for 1,680 yards and 21 touchdowns on 155 carries, an impressive average of 10.8 yards per rush…set a McDowell single-season record with 164 points, including 26 touchdowns (tied for the most in school history), three 2-point conversions and a safety…also set school records for sacks in a season (12) and career (17)…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…Conner averaged 7.1 yards per rush in the Chesapeake Bowl (71 yards on 10 carries) and scored a five-yard TD to help the North to a 38-13 win over the South…rated the No. 13 prospect in Pennsylvania and the nation’s No. 26 weakside defensive end by Rivals…rated one of the top 40 prospects in in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Mark Soboleski.

Devon Edwards, TE, 6-4, 255, Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Eastmoor Academy
Columbus City League product who was a three-year starter at tight end and defensive end for Eastmoor Academy…first team All-Central District…Special Mention All-Ohio Division III…The Columbus Dispatch All-Metro Team…helped Eastmoor to three Ohio Division III playoff berths in his four varsity seasons…rated one of the top 90 prospects in Ohio by Scout…played under Coach Jim Miranda…also a three-year starter in basketball.

Matt Galambos, LB, 6-2, 215, Collingdale, Pa./The Haverford School
One of the top defensive prospects in the Philadelphia area…selected All-State Class AAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAA….named the No. 1 linebacker in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Inquirer…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…a two-way first-team All-Inter-Academic League selection at running back and linebacker…first team All-Delaware County…first team All-Mainline…compiled 104 tackles and five sacks his senior year…also rushed for 818 yards and six touchdowns on 156 carries (5.2 avg.) and had 11 receptions for 152 yards (13.8 avg.)…moved from tight end to running back early in his senior season due to injuries and made his backfield debut with a 206-yard rushing effort on just 19 carries (10.8 avg.) in a victory over The Lawrenceville School…led team to a 7-4 record and runner-up finish in the Inter-Ac League…first player in Haverford School history to be selected for the Big 33 Football Classic…rated the No. 18 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 29 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 34 middle linebacker by Scout…played under Coach Mike Murphy.

Reggie Green, ATH, 6-2, 200, Cranford, N.J./Cranford
Considered one of the top “athletes” in New Jersey after starring at quarterback and defensive back for Cranford…first team New Jersey All-Group 3…first team All-Union County…rushed for 3,185 yards over his final two seasons…averaged 171.2 rushing yards per game as a senior, compiling 1,712 yards and 19 touchdowns on 234 attempts (7.3 yards per carry)…also threw for 681 yards and four TDs…had 22 tackles and three interceptions at defensive back…as a junior, rushed for 1,473 yards and passed for 804 in leading his team to a 10-1 record and the North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 championship, the first postseason title in school history…led Cranford to a 17-4 (.810) record his final two years…rated the No. 32 prospect in New Jersey by Scout…played under Coach Erik Rosenmeier.

Tony Harper, TE, 6-4, 200, Toledo, Ohio/St. John’s Jesuit
Two-year starter for St. John’s Jesuit, playing tight end and safety for the Ohio Division I (largest classification) program…Northwest All-District…All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC)… limited to only six games as a senior due to injury but still had 15 receptions for more than 200 yards…primarily a defensive player his junior year and compiled 64 tackles, four tackles for loss and two interceptions…a three-year letterman who helped St. John’s to a 22-11 record (.667) during his varsity career…played under Coach Doug Pearson.

Titus Howard, DB, 6-1, 180, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
A shutdown corner and big-play receiver for perennial Pennsylvania power Clairton…named the Class A Defensive Player of the Year by Pennsylvania Football News…All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…averaged 25.5 yards per catch with 20 receptions for 510 yards…member of a Clairton senior class that helped the Bears to a state-record 63 consecutive victories in addition to four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland)…also played in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 23 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Rachid Ibrahim (rah-sheed e-brah-heem), DB, 6-1, 185, Rockville, Md./Avalon
First-team Maryland Small School All-State performer…three-time Capital Area Football Conference (CAFC) Offensive Player of the Year…averaged 9.1 yards per carry for his three-year varsity career en route to a school-record 4,835 rushing yards…had seven career games with more than 200 rushing yards, including a school-record 370-yard effort his senior year against Riverdale Baptist…broke the Maryland single-game scoring record with 50 points (eight touchdowns and one 2-point conversion) in a 64-55 victory over Model…his eight TDs in the game tied the state mark as he rushed for 298 yards on just 29 carries (10.3 avg.)…led Avalon to three consecutive CAFC championships with a combined record of 25-8 (.758)…rated the No. 22 overall prospect in Maryland by Scout…selected to play in the Maryland Crab Bowl, a senior all-star game showcasing top players from Baltimore and Washington D.C.…speaks fluent French…played under Coach Tad Shields.

Tyrique Jarrett, DL, 6-3, 320, Pittsburgh, Pa./Taylor Allderdice/Milford Academy (N.Y.)
Enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 and will participate in spring drills…prepped during the 2012 season at Milford Academy and helped the Falcons to a 7-4 record against a schedule comprised largely of collegiate competition…totaled 26 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception (returned for a touchdown) and one blocked field goal under Milford coach Bill Chaplick…rated one of the country’s top 20 prep school prospects by Rivals…prior to Milford, earned status as the Pittsburgh City League’s top lineman in 2011 at Taylor Allderdice…was a two-way standout who led the Dragons to the City League title game as a senior…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…two-time first team All-City League…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…rated Pennsylvania’s No. 16 overall prospect and top defensive tackle by Scout as a senior…played under Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett.

Dorian Johnson, OL, 6-5, 290, Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon Area
Widely considered one of the nation’s top offensive linemen…rated a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle by Rivals….named to the Rivals 100 (No. 31) and ESPN 150 (No. 29) national prospect lists…greatly impressed at the Under Armour All-America Game, which showcased 90 of the top high school senior players at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla….first team MaxPreps Medium School All-American…selected All-State Class AAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AAA…rated the No. 2 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 7 by Scout…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…two-time first team All-Big Nine Conference…had 74 pancake blocks as a senior…had 25 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks on defense…was a four-year varsity player at Belle Vernon and three-year starter under Coach Aaron Krepps…helped BVA to four WPIAL Class AAA playoff berths…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Jaryd Jones-Smith, OL, 6-7, 295, Voorhees, N.J./West Catholic (Pa.)
Massive offensive line prospect who was selected All-State Class AA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…All-Southeastern Pennsylvania…All-Catholic League…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…two-way lineman who led West Catholic to a 7-4 record, the Catholic League Class AA championship and the PIAA playoffs as a senior…played under Coach Brian Fluck…rated the No. 27 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…also selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland).

Luke Maclean, DL, 6-3, 235, Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc
Rated the top defensive end prospect in the state of Michigan by Rivals…collected nearly 190 tackles over his final two seasons at Grand Blanc…two-time Flint Journal “Dream Team”…two-time first-team All-Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) selection…had 79 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery as a senior…his junior year, compiled a team-best 107 tackles, six TFLs, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception…a three-year starter, Grand Blanc advanced to the district playoffs three times, won one KLAA championship and compiled a 22-12 record (.647) during his varsity career…rated the No. 14 overall prospect in Michigan by Rivals and No. 17 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 27 weakside defensive end by Rivals…played under Coach Joe Delaney…also a standout discus thrower and set the school record with a throw of 163 feet, 8 inches.

Justin Moody, DL, 6-3, 265, Philadelphia, Pa./George Washington
Starred for Philadelphia Public League power George Washington on both sides of the ball…rated the No. 1 defensive end in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Inquirer…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the nation’s premier players at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles…first team All-Southeastern Pennsylvania…two-time Philadelphia All-Public League…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…in addition to defensive end, was a starter at offensive guard…compiled 65 tackles, 20.5 TFLs, 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries as a senior…led George Washington to two Public League championships…rated the No. 20 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 30 by Scout…rated the No. 34 strongside defensive end by Rivals…played under Coach Ron Cohen.

Alex Officer, OL, 6-4, 290, Rochester, N.Y./Eastridge
The top-rated offensive line prospect in New York according to Scout…was a force on both sides of the ball at Eastridge, collecting 40 tackles on the defensive line while paving the way for two 1,000-yard rushers on offense…New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) first team Class A All-State as an offensive lineman…his junior year, was an NYSSWA All-State pick on the defensive line…three-time All-Monroe County…two-time All-Greater Rochester…led Eastridge to a 17-2 record (.895) his final two seasons, including a 10-1 mark and the Section V Class A championship his senior year…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in New York by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Chad Green.

Scott Orndoff, TE, 6-5, 245, Waynesburg, Pa./Seton-LaSalle
Considered one of the nation’s top 20 tight end prospects by Rivals and Scout…enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation from Seton-LaSalle…will participate in spring drills…two-time All-State Class AA selection by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South “Fabulous 22”…averaged 17.9 yards per catch (35 receptions for 625 yards) over his junior and senior seasons…led Seton-LaSalle to a combined 20-3 record (.870) his final two years, including a pair of berths in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs…rated the No. 12 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 17 by Scout…played under Coach Greg Perry.

Jaymar Parrish, FB, 6-2, 230, Monroeville, Pa./Gateway
Rated one of the top four fullback prospects in the country by Scout…starred at tight end and linebacker for Gateway…team’s leading tackler as a senior with 83 stops…added nine TFLs, five sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown…averaged 19.2 yards per catch at tight end with 17 receptions for 326 yards and a TD…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class AAAA…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette East “Fabulous 22”…first team All-Foothills Conference…led Gateway to a 9-2 overall record, the Foothills Conference title with an 8-0 league mark and the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs as a senior…the Gators went 18-5 (.783) his final two seasons…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 25 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 33 by Scout…played under Coach Terry Smith.

Zach Poker, LB, 6-4, 220, Oconomowoc, Wis./Oconomowoc
Rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Wisconsin by Scout…caught 50 passes for 753 yards (15.1 avg.) and eight touchdowns as a senior tight end…over his final two seasons had 80 receptions for 1,106 yards (13.8 avg.) and 10 TDs…compiled 22 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery at outside linebacker…also contributed as a punter, kicker and return man…first team Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-State…two-time All-Wisconsin Little Ten selection…two-time WFCA All-South Central Region and all-district…named the top tight end at the National Underclassmen Combine in Chicago…played under Coach Ryan McMillen.

Aaron Reese, OL, 6-5, 300, Fayetteville, Pa./Chambersburg Area
One of the top offensive line prospects in Pennsylvania…three-year starter at offensive tackle for Chambersburg Area…also started at defensive tackle his final two seasons…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…All-Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division…Chambersburg Public Opinion All-Star…helped lead Chambersburg to the District 3 playoffs as a junior and senior…rated the No. 5 offensive lineman and 22 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Mark Saunders.

Shakir Soto, DL, 6-3, 230, Wilkes-Barre, Pa./G.A.R. Memorial
Decorated defensive lineman who compiled an astonishing 52 sacks during his career at G.A.R. Memorial…enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in January 2013 following his December graduation and will participate in spring drills…two-time All-State Class AA selection by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…two-time Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AA…Wyoming Valley Conference Football Coaches Association Small School Defensive Player of the Year (Class AA-Class A)…compiled 109 tackles, 13.5 sacks and six fumble recoveries as a senior…had 114 tackles and nine sacks as a junior…led team to an 18-6 record (.750), two district playoff berths and one PIAA Class AA playoff berth over his final two seasons…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia…rated the No. 24 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 28 by Scout…played under Coach Paul Wiedlich.

Jeremiah Taleni, DL, 6-2, 300, Kaneohe, Hawaii/Kailua
The first Pitt football scholarship signee out of Hawaii in memory…recruitment originated with defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield’s relationship with the staff at Kailua High School, located on the island‘s east coast…a two-way standout who was selected O’ahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) All-Red East Division on both sides of the ball (defensive tackle and offensive guard)…also an All-Hawaii defensive selection…played under Coach Gary Rosolowich.

Jester Weah, WR, 6-3, 190, Madison, Wis./Madison Memorial
Rated the No. 2 wide receiver in Wisconsin by Rivals and Scout after averaging 20 yards per catch over his final two seasons at Madison Memorial…compiled 71 receptions for 1,436 yards (20.2 avg.) and 13 touchdowns over his junior and senior years…enjoyed a prolific and decorated prep career despite not playing organized football until his sophomore season…selected all-state by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) and Associated Press as a senior after catching 38 passes for 799 yards (21.0 avg.) and eight TDs…first team All-Big Eight Conference…also a standout in basketball and track…helped basketball team to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 (largest classification) state title his sophomore year…rated the No. 13 overall prospect in Wisconsin by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Mike Galindo.

Terrish Webb, DB, 5-11, 170, Clairton, Pa./Clairton
As a cornerback and wide receiver, Webb was instrumental in Pennsylvania power Clairton’s run to a fourth consecutive state championship…averaged an impressive 21.4 yards per catch as a senior, totaling 45 receptions for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns…was equally impactful in the secondary with eight interceptions…had a 102-yard interception return against Bishop Canevin…selected All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South “Fabulous 22”…member of a Clairton senior class that helped the Bears to a state-record 63 consecutive victories in addition to four WPIAL and four PIAA Class A titles…rated the No. 19 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Ryan Winslow, P, 6-5, 205, Ambler, Pa./La Salle College H.S.
Rated one of the country’s top four punters by Scout…first team All-EasternPAFootball.com Big School Team (Class AAAA-Class AAA)…Philadelphia Daily News All-City…All-Catholic League…in addition to his punting duties, also served as a placekicker and kickoff specialist for La Salle…averaged 40 yards per punt as a senior…also converted 15 of 16 placements (2-of-2 on field goals and 13-of-14 on PATs)…helped the Explorers to consecutive 12-2 seasons and a pair of trips to PIAA Class AAAA semifinals as a junior and senior…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Maryland)…also was invited to play in the Chesapeake Bowl all-star game but declined the offer as the game overlapped with basketball season…rated one of the top 40 overall prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout…played under Coach Drew Gordon…father, George Winslow, was the first scholarship punter at Wisconsin…George finished his collegiate career at Villanova and went on to punt in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns (1987) and New Orleans Saints (1989)…George and Ryan were both named to the Philadelphia Daily News 35-Year All-City Team (George was the first-team punter, while Ryan was a third-team pick).

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Sorting through the Group of Five conference title scenarios

Tiebreaker

Not surprisingly, most of the college football world’ attention is focused on the Power Five conference teams and the College Football Playoff heading into the last full weekend of the 2014 regular season.

There are, though, other goings on in the sport, namely conference races for the other five conferences dubbed the Group of Five.  All five of those leagues have yet to see an undisputed 2014 champion decided; four of those, though, will crown a champ — or co-champ — this weekend, with the AAC being the lone exception (possibly).

With that as a backdrop, here are those various clinching scenarios for the Group of Five leagues:

AAC
Memphis sits at 6-1 with one conference game remaining (vs. UConn), while Cincinnati and UCF are each 5-1 with two games each left (at Temple and vs. Houston for the former, at USF and at East Carolina for the latter).  This conference, however, does not have a championship game, so its method for determining its champ is laid out in the league’s weekly notes package:

In the event of a tie for the American Athletic Conference title, any tied teams would be declared co-champions. There is no formal conference tiebreaker policy for this season. The College Football Playoff committee would be able to select any of the tied teams for a New Year’s bowl game, based on the committee’s rankings.

Memphis is the only team that could claim the outright championship in Week 14, and that would happen if it won and Cincinnati and UCF lost.  Memphis, with a win, is also the only AAC team that can claim at least a co-championship this weekend.

CONFERENCE USA
EAST
At 7-0, Marshall has already clinched a spot in the conference championship game.

WEST
This division is nearly as simple as the winner of the Week 14 game between Louisiana Tech (6-1) and Rice (5-2) will face Marshall.

Another issue for the conference to be decided is where the title game will be played.  If Marshall beats Western Kentucky Saturday, the Herd will host the Louisiana Tech/Rice winner in Huntington.  If Marshall loses and Rice wins, Marshall would again host.  If Marshall loses and Louisiana Tech wins?  I’ll go ahead and allow the conference to lay out the particulars:

If Marshall loses to WKU on Friday and Louisiana Tech defeats Rice, both teams would have the same conference record (7-1). Marshall and Louisiana Tech do not play in the regular season, eliminating the head-to-head tie-breaker, the second tiebreaker after conference record. Therefore, the CFP ranking is the next tie-breaker. If neither team is in the top 25 of the CFP Rankings, average select computer ranking (Anderson and Hester, Billingsley, Colley Matrix and Wolfe) would be used to determine host.

MAC
EAST
At 5-2, Bowling Green has already clinched a spot in the conference championship game.

WEST
Three teams at 6-1 all remain alive in the divisional race: Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan.  NIU and WMU play late Friday morning, while Toledo faces Eastern Michigan a couple of hours later.  What follows are the scenarios for each to claim the West:

Northern Illinois wins the West if… It beats Western Michigan; NIU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Toledo.
Toledo wins the West if… It beats Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois loses; UT holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Western Michigan.
Western Michigan wins the West if… It beats Northern Illinois, Toledo loses.

MOUNTAIN WEST
MOUNTAIN
Boise State, Colorado State and Utah State are all 6-1 entering the last week of the regular season, with Boise State and Utah State playing late Saturday night and Colorado State traveling to Air Force.  Here are the clinching scenarios for each team:

Boise State wins the Mountain if… It beats Utah State; BSU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Colorado State.
Colorado State wins the Mountain if… It beats Air Force and Boise State loses to Utah State; CSU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Utah State
Utah State wins the Mountain if… It beats Boise State and Colorado State loses to Air Force.

WEST
With two teams at 4-3 (Fresno State, San Diego State) and two at 3-4 (Hawaii, Nevada), the West is a clusterf… well, you know.  So much so, in fact, that I’m just going to let the conference put this one into the barn:

  • Fresno State: wins the division with a win over Hawai‘i.
  • San Diego State: wins the division with a win over San José State and a Fresno State loss to Hawai‘i.
  • Hawai‘i: wins the division with a win at Fresno State and losses by Nevada (at UNLV) and San Diego State (vs. San José State).
  • In the event Fresno State loses to Hawai‘i, Nevada defeats UNLV and San Diego State falls to San José State, it will create a four-team tie atop the West Division standings at 4-4. In that scenario, Fresno State clinches the division based on the MW divisional tiebreaking procedures.

SUN BELT
As is the case with the AAC, there is no conference championship game in the SBC.  Georgia Southern (7-0) has already clinched a share of the 2014 title in its first season in the league, with a win over Louisiana Monroe Saturday giving them the undisputed title.  Louisiana-Lafayette can earn a co-championship with a win over Troy combined with a Georgia Southern loss.

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Ramifications 101: Setting the table for Week 14

Turkey AP

You may have already cleared your tables of all of the Thanksgiving fixings, but here at CFT we’re just setting ours up.

From rivalry games with little or nothing on the line but pride to matchups dripping with conference and College Football Playoff implications, the plates served up on Friday and Saturday will be a veritable smorgasbord on the final full week of the 2014 regular season. If storylines whet your appetite, be prepared to gorge yourself as these last two days are full of them.

With that in mind, here’s a portion of what we’ll be paying attention to Power Five-wise over the next 36 hours or so.

PLAYOFF PICTURE CLARIFIED?
In a simplistic and minimalist view, the answer to that is no, it won’t be clarified. It very likely will, however, come into sharper focus.

By most accounts, a two-loss team won’t be in the running for one of the four playoff spots. If that indeed comes to fruition, there are seven teams that still hold out viable playoff aspirations: unbeaten and third-ranked Florida State, as well as the one-loss sextet of No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 4 Mississippi State, No. 5 TCU, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Baylor.

All seven of those teams play this weekend, and all seven will, to some degree or another, be favored. However, five of those seven games involve rivalries; as we all now, though, when it comes to a rivalry game, point spreads and records are tossed out the window.

Especially in the case of the two SEC squads, the favored team would be wise to be on high alert.  So, on a scale of 0-10, with 0 representing “no chance in hell” and 10 being “DEFCON 1 COACH-SPEAK AHEAD,” here are the five rivalry games involving the seven highest-ranked teams:

Chris DavisAlabama-Auburn, 9
Were it not for Auburn entering the Iron Bowl having lost three of its last five games against SEC teams, and it being played in Tuscaloosa, this matchup would’ve rated a solid 10.  Not only is Alabama playing for an SEC title and the right to stay in the playoff mix, they are also looking to exact a little revenge for last year’s Kick-Six.  Even if they wanted to, don’t look for Nick Saban & Company to let his players look past The Plainsmen in any way, shape or form.

Oregon-Oregon State, 5
OSU comes into the Civil War reeling, dropping six of its eight Pac-12 games thus far.  Oregon, though, doesn’t have to look back any further than last year to realize they’d better not peek past their in-state rivals.  In 2013, the Beavers, losers of four straight coming in, put a scare into the 12th-ranked Ducks and came away one point shy, 36-35, from upsetting UO in Eugene.  With this edition of the rivalry being played in Corvallis, and the Beavers looking to snap a six-game losing streak in the series, the Ducks can’t afford to allow their collective minds to wander beyond Saturday night.

Florida State-Florida, 7
With a very quick glance, it all seems to favor FSU.  The Seminoles are riding a 27-game winning streak, while the Gators are about to launch a national search for a new head coach.  The thing is, the ‘Noles have escaped with a handful of wins over the last couple of months.  Meanwhile, the Gators have actually improved over the last month, and their defense (11th in scoring, 23rd in yards) will be one of the best the Seminoles have faced all season.  I’m not saying Florida will upset Florida State in Tallahassee; all I’m saying is that the conditions are ripe for one.  What’s the axiom, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?  2014 Seminoles, meet the 2004 Seminoles.  Enough said.

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No. 5 TCU makes Texas-sized playoff statement

Trevone Boykin

It was not a particularly good day for football teams from the state of Texas. The Dallas Cowboys were blown away by the Philadelphia Eagles in NFL action. Texas A&M was handled by LSU. At least No. 5 TCU (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) put together a huge win that is sure to create some discussion in the College Football Playoff conversation in the coming days. TCU was in a defensive battle with Texas (6-6, 5-4 Big 12) for a while, but the Horned Frogs pulled away in wild fashion for a resounding 48-10 victory.

TCU quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin threw for one touchdown and ran for another in the fourth quarter and Josh Carraway returned an interception 33 yards to put the final stamp on a blowout victory that took a while to feel so decisive. It was not Boykin’s best night, as he was under pressure from the Texas defense for much of the night. Boykin still managed to throw for 233 yards and two touchdowns and run for another 50 ards and flip into the end zone for another.

The biggest takeaway from this game may have been TCU’s ability to close out a win. They did so in fashion, holding the Texas offense to 290 yards and forcing six turnovers in the game. It was the kind of night that could be enough to help TCU move up a spot in the next College Football Playoff ranking even if Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State all win this weekend. It also helps to potentially create some breathing room ahead of Ohio State and, yes, Baylor.

Baylor still owns the head-to-head edge over TCU, but that has not helped the Bears in ranking ahead of the Horned Frogs in the playoff rankings. It is beginning to get to the point where the results against similar opponents are starting to move the needle more in TCU’s favor as well.

TCU beat Texas by 38 points. Baylor beat Texas by 21.

TCU beat Oklahoma State by 35. Baylor beat Oklahoma State by 21.

TCU beat Oklahoma by four. Baylor beat Oklahoma by 34.

TCU beat West Virginia. Baylor lost to West Virginia.

For Baylor, the best thing to do now would be to dominate and blowout Kansas State to level the playing field against teams not named Texas Tech or Kansas. Baylor plays Texas Tech this weekend and Kansas State to wrap up the regular season.

TCU has one final game to play, next week at home against Iowa State. Look for Boykin and the Horned Frogs to pile up points in one final chance for a closing statement while conference championship games are being played.

The regular season is over for Texas, but at 6-6 the Longhorns will be going to a bowl game.

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LSU breaks even in SEC with Thanksgiving win at Texas A&M

Leonard Fournette, Deshazor Everett

LSU (8-4, 4-4 SEC) may not have been a typical power in the SEC this week, but the Tigers managed to end the year with a 4-4 record in conference play. The Tigers needed to hang n for a 23-17 victory at Texas A&M (7-5, 3-5 SEC) to do it, but Les Miles and company will take it.

LSU chewed up big yards on the ground against Texas A&M’s defense. Freshman Leonard Fournette led the attack with 146 rushing yards and a touchdown and quarterback Anthony Jennings added 119 yards. It was a big night for the LSU offense, which racked up 492 yards against the Aggies.

Texas A&M managed to make a game of it in the second half. The Aggies scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to cut LSU’s lead down to 20-17, but LSU put the game away with a late field goal and an interception of Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen. Texas A&M managed just 228 yards of offense against the Tigers.

LSU will now head to the postseason for a 15th straight season. Texas A&M is also heading to the postseason, but will be limping into the bowl line-up out of the SEC. Texas A&M lost five of its final seven games this season, and the need to improve on defense is clear. You know, Will Muschamp is available. Kevin Sumlin can clearly recruit, but the Aggies are going to have to step up on defense in order to catch up with the rest of the conference and make a legitimate run in the SEC West.

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Reports say SMU will hire Clemson OC Chad Morris lead rebuilding of program

Chad Morris

The job search at SMU has reportedly come to a close, although there is no official word confirming this information at this time. According to multiple reports surfacing Thursday night, SMU will hire Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris to be its next head coach.

The news was first reported by Cemetery Hill. Chip Brown of Horns Digest later reported the same information.

Morris is the highest-paid assistant coach college football according to a recent database of coaching salaries in college football compiled by USA Today. Though the highest-paid assistant coach in the game, Morris has continued to be a potential head coaching option if the right job came along. Is SMU the best fit for Morris?

If this does come together as it is being reported, Morris could have a shot at building something at SMU. The program has nowhere to go but up, so he would need to be guaranteed some time to put his plans in motion. This means solid job security for Morris, a Texas native. Being a native of the state should help open some recruiting doors as well. Just because SMU is in Texas though, des not mean recruiting will come easy.

There is also the impact this would have on Clemson. Morris has been a terrific asset for Dabo Swinney’s coaching staff, and the offense has thrived at times under his sideline leadership. If Morris is leaving for SMU, when he would leave the Tigers is also unknown. Clemson plays South Carolina this weekend.

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TCU takes advantage of Texas miscues to build 20-3 halftime lead

Trevone Boykin

You might not think it by looking at the halftime score, but No. 5 TCU and Texas are locked in a solid defensive battle. The only difference has been Texas has lacked the ability to protect the football in the first half. The Longhorns have two turnovers, and TCU has slowly put together a 20-3 lead at the half.

Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has been intercepted once and lost a fumble once. The fumble was extra costly, as TCU’s Terrell Lathan returned it 40 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. That put TCU up 13-0 at the time and was the only touchdown until TCU’s David Porter caught a short pass from Trevone Boykin late in the second quarter. Boykin has completed 13 of 18 passes for 106 yards and the touchdown, and he has added 10 rushing yards.

TCU has not found much to work with on the ground, with just 31 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Texas has played well on defense and is the only reason this game is still somewhat within reach if the offense can start putting points on the board. Texas actually reached the halftime with more offensive yards than TCU (144-137), but that total was boosted by the final play of the half, when Swoopes scrambled for a 27-yard gain as the clock expired. That came after a 17-yard run by Swoopes just before it.

TCU looks to be in good position to pick up a win in Austin, which continues to put the pressure on Baylor in the Big 12 championship race. It also will help keep TCU in good position in the College Football Playoff, entering the week ranked fifth by the selection committee.

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LSU defense locks down Aggies for halftime lead

LSU v Texas A&M Getty Images

LSU’s offense has been on the field for over 20 minutes in the first half and has out-gained Texas A&M by over 200 yards. LSU is only winning at the half by a score of 17-7, but if the defense continues playing at this level that might be OK.

Texas A&M recorded the first big play of the half when Trey Williams rushed 41 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Aggies, there has not been much else to speak of on offense. Kyle Allen continues to start under center for Texas A&M. In the first half, Allen completed eight of 11 passes for 23 yards. Seven different Aggies have caught a pass, but no player has more than nine receiving yards. Texas A&M has just 80 yards of offense, compared to LSU’s 286 yards.

LSU tied the Aggies with a powerful 22-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Leonard Fournette in the second quarter. LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings has used his mobility to his advantage as well and leads the Tigers at the half with 94 rushing yards. Jennings also threw a touchdown pass to John Diarse late in the first half to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead. LSU added a 31-yard field goal off the leg of Trent Dominique in the final seconds of the half to pad the lead, 17-7.

 

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Jaxon Shipley out for Texas

Jaxon Shipley

The Texas Longhorns will be without wide receiver Jaxon Shipley tonight as the Longhorns look to upset No. 5 TCU in Austin. Shipley will be out of action due to a hamstring injury, which the school officially annoucned just minutes before the start of tonight’s Thanksgiving game.

Shipley is the second-leading receiver for the Longhorns this season with 571 yards and a touchdown in 11 games.

TCU will look to leave Austin with a huge victory to remain in the Big 12 title hunt. TCU is tied with Baylor for the Big 12 lead, but the head-to-head tiebreaker for the Big 12 belongs to Baylor. Texas has won three games in a row with three strong defensive efforts.

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Georgia apparently scheduled to get thumped by Georgia Tech

Clemson v Georgia Tech Getty Images

This week is rivalry week in college football, and that means trash talk, bets and good old-fashioned pranks. It appears some Georgia Tech fan or fans took to updating te University of Georgia calendar of events with something that was probably not approved by the school.

On Saturday, Georgia will host Georgia Tech in the final regular season football game of the year for each. Coincidentally, at the same time, there is an event for Georgia athletics that may or may not coincide with the game itself. According to the school’s calendar, Georgia Athletics is scheduled to get its @$$ kicked by Georgia Tech.

With this being discovered on Thanksgiving, it may take a little longer for someone to come and address this. Perhaps after and second helping of turkey or a slice of apple pie. Call that good timing by the culprit.

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Texas Tech lineman the personification of perseverance

Tony Morales

If there were a picture next to the word “perseverance” in the dictionary, it’d be that of Tony Morales.

The Texas Tech offensive lineman missed the 2011 season due to an injury sustained in summer camp. The same thing around the same time happened again in 2012. And again in 2013. And, unbelievably, again in 2014.

Even more unbelievable? Morales will be back at it for the Red Raiders next year as well. Wednesday, Tech offensive line coach Lee Hays confirmed that Morales will be a part of the team in 2015.

“He’ll be here in the spring,” Hays said. “Looking forward to him practicing.”

Kid’s got heart,” the position coach added in a monumental understatement.

Morales’ myriad health issues consisted of a torn labrum in his right shoulder (2011); a strained knee ligament (2012); a torn labrum in his left shoulder (2013); and another knee issue this season.

Morales, a four-star member of Tech’s 2011 class rated as the No. 5 center in the country, has yet to play in a game; as he’s a senior, and even as he could apply for a sixth season of eligibility and easily be granted it, here’s to hoping that he gets to see the field in 2015. More than just about anyone else who has ever played this game, he’s damn-well earned it.

(Photo credit: Texas Tech athletics)

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Vols’ receiving corps may have taken another hit

Jason Croom

When it comes to injury luck, Tennessee wide receivers have had little of it in 2014.  Josh Smith is out for the year with a severe ankle injury sustained in early September, while Marquez North (missed the Mizzou game last week) and Von Pearson (missed games earlier in the year) have battled health issues as well.

Tuesday, that unit may have taken yet another hit as Jason Croom went down with what appeared to be a knee injury.  The severity and specific nature, however, remains a matter of debate.

Head coach Butch Jones described it as a cramp in his hamstring and hip.  The Chattanooga Times Free-Press wrote “it looked much worse [than a hamstring] when he went down” after “grabbing his left knee,” while 247Sports.com‘s Wes Rucker noted that Croom grabbed his knee when he dropped to the turf in pain and that Jones’ injury reports are “a bit … shall we say … questionable from time to time” — with a video clip of the GEICO “Pinocchio is a bad motivational speaker” to drive home that latter point.

Regardless, Croom didn’t practice Wednesday and his availability for the in-state rivalry game against Vanderbilt Saturday is unknown.

Among receivers with 10 or more catches, Croom leads the team in yards per catch at 14.5, while he’s fourth in receiving yards (305) and tied for sixth in receptions (21).  His four receiving touchdowns are tied for first on the team, and he’s caught at least one scoring pass in each of the last three games.

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‘Canes to be without DB Bush, WR Waters for regular-season finale

Arkansas State v Miami Getty Images

As Miami looks to right a listing ship and snap a two-game losing streak, the Hurricanes will have to navigate one very key injury and another more-than-minor one to do so.

On its weekly injury report Thursday, UM confirmed that neither safety Deon Bush (pictured) nor wide receiver Herb Waters will play in the regular-season finale against Pittsburgh Saturday.  Bush will be missing his second consecutive game with a hamstring issue, while Waters is dealing with a neck injury.

Bush started all 10 games to start this season before missing the loss to Virginia Nov. 22.  He’s fourth on the team in tackles with 48, while his two interceptions are tied for the team lead.

Waters is fourth on the team in receiving yards (277) and fifth in receptions (20).  The junior has started four of the 11 games in which he’s played this season.

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FBI probing threats made against trees, shrubs at Ole Miss’ Grove

Auburn v Mississippi Getty Images

I’ll go ahead and answer your question right upfront: I have no earthly idea if anti-arborist Harvey Updyke was or wasn’t involved.

With that out of the way, and a couple of days before the annual Egg Bowl kicks off, Ole Miss has confirmed that the FBI is investigating threats made against the landscape at The Grove at the school.  A handwritten letter threatening damage to the trees and shrubs in The Grove was turned over to the Jackson (Miss.) office of the FBI.

The note was delivered to the campus on Tuesday and given to the FBI a day later:

“What’s going to happen to ya’ll on the field Saturday Aint nothing compared to what’s going to happen on your beautiful campus. You won’t be one of the most pretty campus’s Next year. A lot of shrubs and trees are going to die; especially in the grove. Can’t stop us” (signed) “Hail State Go to Hell TSUN.”

“Hail State,” of course, refers to Mississippi State while “TSUN” is not Michigan but rather Ole Miss, which MSU has taken to referring to “That School Up North” in the vein of Woody Hayes.  The release went on to note that “[l]aw enforcement authorities are taking the threat seriously and are encouraging fans to report suspicious behavior.”

The 111th edition of the Egg Bowl will be played in Oxford Saturday.  An MSU win and Alabama loss sends the Bulldogs to the SEC championship game against either Missouri or Georgia and, potentially, earns them a spot in the College Football Playoff.  The Rebels, meanwhile, could secure a New Year’s Day bowl bid with an upset.

The stakes are certainly high, as high football-wise as they’ve ever been in the rivalry, so authorities and school officials are doing their best to keep emotions down as much as possible.

“This longtime football rivalry has separated families and friends for generations, but while it’s spirited, our attention has been focused mostly on the football field,” Ole Miss police chief Calvin Sellers said. “We encourage everyone to remember that this is a game, after all, not a time for hate. We are hopeful that passions have not escalated to the point that someone is prepared to do damage to a landmark for which all Mississippians take great pride.”

“It has been a remarkable year for football in this state and we have much to be thankful for,” a joint statement from the university’s athletic directors, Ole Miss’ Ross Bjork and MSU’s Scott Stricklin, read. “Both programs and their student-athletes have been on the national stage throughout the year and have represented Mississippi in invaluable ways. We ask that you join us in enjoying the traditions of the Egg Bowl and events surrounding the game in a positive and respectful way.”

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Mom of OSU Buckeye Kosta Karageorge says son is missing

Kosta Karageorge

Thanksgiving is normally a day reserved for giving thanks and celebration, but for the family of one member of the Ohio State football program it’s full of dread and worry.

In a message posted to Facebook, Susan Karageorge said a missing person’s report has been filed for her son, reserve OSU defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge.  According to the mom, Karageorge has been missing since around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The mom added that family and friends have been searching all over campus for Karageorge to no avail, while also relaying where he may have last been seen.

There was also this message posted to what appears to be Kosta Karageorge’s Twitter account early Thursday morning:

OSU has yet to publicly address what if anything is going on with the player.

Karageorge is a former OSU wrestler who joined the Buckeyes as a walk-on earlier this year.  He’s played in one game this season, that coming in the win over Penn State.

Our thoughts go out to the family as they continue to search for their loved one.

(Photo credit: Ohio State athletics)

UPDATED 11:24 a.m. ET: The Columbus Police Department has confirmed that they are actively searching for Karageorge.  It’s also being reported that the player was not at practice Thursday morning.

UPDATED 12:19 p.m. ET: From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Karageorge’s sister, Sophia, told cleveland.com that her brother was upset about something Tuesday night. His roommates, who are also Ohio State wrestlers, said he went for a walk from their apartment on East 7th Avenue in Columbus around 2 a.m.

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Pair of Alabama receivers ‘very questionable’ for Iron Bowl

Western Carolina v Alabama Getty Images

Alabama could very well head into Saturday’s Iron Bowl at less than full strength in its passing game*.

In what was essentially a glorified scrimmage last Saturday, tight end Brian Vogler and receiver ArDarius Stewart sustained what head coach Nick Saban described as stretched knee ligaments in the romp over FCS-level Western Carolina. Neither player has practiced this week, leading Saban to continue to call the duo “very questionable” for Saturday evening’s game against Auburn.

Because neither has practiced, it would seem highly doubtful either will be available.

Stewart has started the past two games and has 12 receptions for 149 yards on the season. Nine of those receptions have come in the last five games.

While Vogler has started nine games this season, he has just three receptions for 13 yards as his forte is blocking. One of those catches, though, was a touchdown in the Week 3 win over Southern Miss.

(*With Amari Cooper on the field, they’re still at, what, 99 percent?)

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