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CFT Predicts: the SEC

Nick Saban AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the SEC. 

And while we’re at it, check out our other conference previews: Big Ten, Pac-12

SEC East

1.  South Carolina (Last year: 11-2; beat Michigan in Outback Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Gamecocks put together an 11-2 season for the second straight year — the first time in school history the program has accomplished such a feat. Yet, Steve Spurrier‘s team still didn’t make it to the SEC championship game despite handing it to SEC champ Georgia 35-7 in Columbia. Also, this happened. You may have seen it before on SportsCenter. 

So why are they ranked here?
South Carolina and Georgia have taken their respective turns representing the East division in the SEC title for the past three years, and it looks like 2013 will be two-team race between these two once again. The Gamecocks get the edge this time because of their defense, which features preseason Heisman candidate Jadeveon Clowney. But it’s not just the projected No. 1 NFL draft pick that makes this defense so good. Cornerback Victor Hampton and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles also return.

Anything else?
That’s a Clowney question, bro. But for real, the offense loses wide receiver Ace Sanders. However, the Gamecocks have a solid wide receiver group led by Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd. 

2. Georgia (Last year: 12-2; beat Nebraska in Capital One Bowl) 
What happened last season?
If only Chris Conley had been a few yards further, Georgia would have been playing in the BCS championship game. Still, 12-2 and a January bowl win aren’t too shabby. Despite getting blasted by South Carolina midway through the season, UGA still won the East division for the second year in a row.

So why are they ranked here?
The Bulldogs’ offense returns so many key players, including seventh-year senior quarterback Aaron Murray and running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. But conversely, it’s the defense that loses just about everyone. There’s plenty of talent on that side of the ball and Todd Grantham is considered one of the best in the business at defense coordinator, but there’s enough turnover to cost the Bulldogs the top spot in the East.

Anything else?
Georgia is the media’s favorite to win the SEC East this year, but the month of September could get the Bulldogs off to a slow start. Georgia faces four tough opponents to start the season: Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas* and LSU.

(*Kidding, obviously. But seriously #GoMeanGreen.) 

3. Florida (Last year: 11-2; lost to Louisville in Sugar Bowl)
What happened last season?
It wasn’t always pretty, but Florida won 11 regular season games with arguably one of the tougher schedules in college football. However, the Gators’ season ended in a Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, something only our favorite Cardinals fan Mark Ennis could have foreseen.

So why are they ranked here?
This is where the Gators fit. The East will continue to be dominated by Georgia and South Carolina at least for another season, and there are some injury concerns on offense for Florida with wide receiver Andre Debose out for the year and running back Matt Jones out indefinitely with a viral infection. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is now a junior and should be a bigger part of this offense. On defense, this team needs to replace stars Matt Elam, Jelani Jenkins and Sharrif Floyd.

Anything else?
It doesn’t affect SEC records, but the Gators have two meaty non-conference games: the annual rivalry with Florida State and an early season game against Miami, a team some feel are flying under the radar.

4. Vanderbilt (Last year: 9-4; beat NC State in the Music City Bowl)
What happened last season?
Seven straight wins to end 2012 gave Vanderbilt its first nine-win season since 1915. James Franklin continues to do an outstanding job building the Commodores’ brand and is now quickly becoming one of the most intriguing coaches in the game.

So why are they ranked here?
That nine-win season? Yeah, Vandy returns 17 starters from that team a year ago. Leading receiver Jordan Matthews is back, but Chris Boydthe team’s second-leading receiver, is currently dealing with a legal issue related to a horrific rape allegation involving four former VU players. Still there should be plenty of firepower on offense and the defensive front seven should be a strength.

Anything else?
Vanderbilt’s next step is to knock off a SEC favorite. This team will have four opportunities to do so against South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M. A season-opener against Ole Miss could also build some early momentum for the ‘Dores.

5. Missouri (Last year: 5-7) 
What happened last season?
Missouri’s first year in the SEC was, shall we say, eye-opening. The Tigers suffered their first losing season under Gary Pinkel in eight years thanks, at least in part, to the fact that quarterback James Franklin couldn’t stay healthy. Missouri’s only two conference wins came against Kentucky and Tennessee.

So why are they ranked here?
It’s not a stretch to think Mizzou can have, say, a two-game swing in the win column this season. The Tigers don’t have to play Alabama or LSU out of the West and there are about four winnable conference games on the schedule. Franklin has to stay healthy, which could again be an issue if the offensive line doesn’t come through. Running back Henry Josey returns after missing last season with a significant knee injury and one-time five-star wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is a sophomore who needs to have a big year. A lot of previously unknown names are going to have to emerge as playmakers.

Anything else?
Pinkel has been the head coach of Mizzou for 13 years if you can believe it. And, if nothing else, the Tigers have been fairly consistent with winning records. But a new conference and a disappointing 2012 campaign has made the seat beneath Pinkel’s keister a little warm. If there’s not at least a little bit of a turnaround, or some reason to be excited about the future, Mizzou could be looking for another direction by year’s end.

6. Tennessee (Last year: 5-7)
What happened last season?
The Vols suffered their third straight losing season and Derek Dooley was punished by being demoted to the wide receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

So why are they ranked here?
Butch Jones is a good coach and he should be the guy to finally get things turned around for Tennessee. He’s a natural with young people and players love him. That said, Neyland Stadium wasn’t built in a day — neither were UT’s shiny new facilities — and the Vols took a solid gut punch in the passing game with the departures of wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Defense has been bad too. There’s a lot to fix and not a lot to work with right away.

Anything else?
The stretch between Sept. 21 (at Florida) and Oct. 26 (at Alabama) is ruthless and unkind. But winning one game against either the Gators, Georgia or South Carolina would go a long way for Jones no matter the final record.

7. Kentucky (Last year: 2-10)
What happened last season?
The Wildcats beat Samford and Kent State, the latter of which almost had a chance to make a BCS bowl appearance. Strange, indeed. Either way, Joker Phillips got canned.

So why are they ranked here?
If Tennessee is building things “brick by brick”, then Kentucky’s going to need some heavier materials. UK made an interesting hire with former Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who is recruiting extremely well early. Signing Day 2014 is still a ways off and it’s yet to be seen if those efforts will pay dividends down the road. For now, the Wildcats have too much to improve upon to make a real dent.

Anything else?
The schedule the Wildcats go through doesn’t help. Road games against South Carolina and Georgia aren’t even the worst games — that distinction would belong to hosting Alabama on Oct. 12.

SEC West

1. Alabama (Last year: 13-1; beat Notre Dame in BCS championship)
What happened last season?
Oh, not much. The Tide won the SEC and then mercilessly beat Notre Dame in the BCS championship, giving Nick Saban his third national title in four years with Alabama. Of course, it wasn’t all perfect. Texas A&M came into Tuscaloosa in November and stunned the top-ranked team in the country 29-24. Saban has since been playing that game on loop around the football facilities because money isn’t the root of all evil — satisfaction is.

So why are they ranked here?
Unless the wheels inexplicably fall off or Saban takes his coaching talents to the pros, Alabama is in rolling along (see what we did–ah forget it) and there’s nothing anybody can do to stop it. We could talk about returning starters like A.J. McCarron or C.J. Moseley, or how the Tide’s schedule doesn’t feature any of the SEC East teams expected to finish at or near the top of that respective division. Those are all fine and well, but as long as Saban is wearing crimson, this program is going to be a perennial favorite.

Anything else?
Because college football black magic is very, very real, it should be pointed out again that Alabama has never have won a BCS title when ranked atop the preseason coaches poll. Guess where they’re ranked this year.

2. LSU (last year: 10-3; lost to Clemson in Chick-fil-A Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Tigers shocked the college football world by beating up on a much more talented North Texas team* to open the year and came thisclose to beating Alabama at home (tailback screen FTW!) on their way to a 10-win season. LSU lost by one point to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl as Tajh Boyd pulled off the toughest individual postseason performance of the year.

(*Kidding, obviously. But seriously #GoMeanGreen.) 

So why are they ranked here?
LSU is an interesting team who’s getting overshadowed by two other SEC West teams. Understandably, Alabama is the overwhelming favorite not only to win the West division, but to win the SEC and get back to another national championship. But the Tigers shouldn’t be counted out so quickly. Defense will always be a staple and Zach Mettenberger has all the tools to be an elite quarterback, he just has to put it all together. Ironically, perhaps his best game last season came in that agonizing loss to Alabama.

Anything else?
Les Miles‘ team has some big games this year, including road games against Georgia and Alabama, and a season-opener against TCU. This is a program that’s thrived in those environments over the last few years (sans a BCS title loss to Alabama in 2012). They’ll need to again if they want to knock off the preseason favorite.

3. Texas A&M (last year: 11-2; beat Oklahoma in Cotton Bowl)
What happened last season?
Kevin Sumlin started Johnny Manziel at quarterback and all of us — defenses, media members, all of us — looked like idiots. Also, Manziel won the Heisman as a redshirt freshman. Just as a reminder.

So why are they ranked here?
Manziel is back… maybe. In fact, this is probably one of the few predictions that actually deserves an asterisk next to it. With the NCAA reportedly investigating whether Manziel improperly received money for signing thousands of pieces of memorabilia, it’s possible he could face suspension. If he does, and depending when and for how long, the Aggies’ win total could dip tremendously. There are a lot of questions defensively even with Manziel in the lineup, and while I personally don’t believe the offseason “controversies” will affect Manziel’s play on the field, he still has a lot of growing to do as a quarterback.

Anything else?
Wide receiver Mike Evans burst on to the scene last year with over 1,100 yards as a freshman. All the talk is about Manziel, but Evans provides an athletic, big target to throw to in this offense. He could have an even bigger year as a sophomore.

4. Ole Miss (Last year: 7-6; beat Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Hugh Freeze made one of the bigger first-season splashes by leading the Rebels to a seven-win season and then pulling in one of the most impressive recruiting classes for 2013.

So why are they ranked here?
The Rebels are considered to be on the upswing, but the first half of their ’13 schedule is bordering on unfair. Ole Miss travels to Vanderbilt, to Texas in non-conference play, to Alabama, and to Auburn before finally catching a break and hosting Texas A&M and LSU. It seems impossible to get through that stretch unscathed, but if quarterback Bo Wallace cuts down on his mistakes (17 interceptions a year ago) and the defense can clamp down even a little (the Rebels gave up an average of 36 points in five losses to the aforementioned six opponents last season thanks in part to 66 points from the Longhorns), then this team should find itself with some quality wins headed into an easier second half of the schedule.

Anything else?
If you think Ole Miss has broken any recruiting rules, Freeze asks that you email compliance@olemiss.edu. Thanks and hotty toddy!

5. Auburn (Last year: 3-9)
What happened last season?
The Tigers failed to win a conference game and Gene Chizik, two years removed from winning a BCS championship, was fired.

So why are they ranked here?
Gus Malzahn, who was the offensive coordinator for Auburn when it won that national title over Oregon in 2011, returns to The Plains as head coach hoping to turn things around. There are plenty of guys returning on both sides of the ball… it’s just that neither side played particularly well. It’s not like there’s a lack of talent at Auburn, so if Malzahn and his coaching staff, which features veteran defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, can get the production out of their players in a way Chizik couldn’t, then there’s no reason this team can’t go bowling this year.

Anything else?
Nick Marshall, a former Georgia defensive back, will be the starting quarterback for the Tigers. Meanwhile, Kiehl Frazier, Auburn’s former starting quarterback, has moved to defensive back.

6. Mississippi State (Last year: 8-5; lost to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Things were looking good for Dan Mullen‘s team, which was 7-0 headed into a late October game against Alabama. That’s when it fell apart and the schedule got significantly harder. The Bulldogs lost 38-7 in Tuscaloosa and went on to drop five of their last six games, including a bowl loss to Northwestern.

So why are they ranked here?
Because the SEC West is arguably the deepest division in college football. It’s quite possible that six teams could be bowl eligible here. Quarterback Tyler Russell is back, but there will be plenty of new faces at wide receiver. Six starters return on defense, but in all, this is a relatively young team that will be tested when it faces South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama in consecutive weeks.

Anything else?
If Bulldogs center Dillon Day plays as well as he bowls, then MSU should have a spectacular season.

7. Arkansas (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Bobby Petrino drove his motorcycle off a road. John L. Smith then drove the BCS-ready Razorbacks into the ground. Hog fans didn’t take either particularly well.

So why are they ranked here?
Arkansas brings in a new coach in Bret Bielema, but loses quarterback Tyler Wilson, its top two leading rushers and receivers from a year ago. Defense was a major liability last season and will have to improve significantly if the offense doesn’t get going. And that schedule? Brutal. The Hogs may not win a game past September.

Anything else?
Freshman running back Alex Collins had some drama trying to Fayetteville, but in Bielema’s run-heavy offense, he could make a huge impact right away.

—————————————-

John Taylor‘s prediction:

East
1. Georgia
2. South Carolina
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Vanderbilt
6. Kentucky
7. Missouri

West
1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Texas A&M
4. Ole Miss
5. Mississippi State
6. Arkansas
7. Auburn
Ben’s SEC champ: Alabama
John’s SEC champ: Alabama
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FSU loses starting defensive tackle Lawrence-Stample for year

Brandon Ross, Niles Lawrence-Stample

Florida State lost a key piece to the defensive line on Tuesday. Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed the los of defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample for the remainder of the 2014 season. Lawrence-Stample was the victim of a torn pectoral muscle in Saturday’s overtime victory a home against Clemson.

The 6′ 1″, 314-pound junior reportedly played through the injury after initially suffering it in the ACC Atlantic Division contest, but the severity of the injury was only just discovered. Through three games, Lawrence-Stample led all Florida State interior defensive linemen with nine tackles.

As noted by Warchant, the Rivals affiliate covering Florida State, Fisher expects to be able to give some playing time to senior Desmond Hollin or freshmen Demarcus Christmas and Derrick Nnadi.

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NIU loses WR for the season

Tommylee Lewis

Northern Illinois wide receiver Tommylee Lewis will be out for the remainder of the 2014 season due to a lower-body injury suffered in the game. Head coach Rod Carey confirmed the injury report via a statement issued by Northern Illinois athletics Tuesday evening.

Lewis played wide receiver for the Huskies but also played a role on special teams. His versatility was recognized by the Paul Hornung Award committee after playing in the first two weeks of the season before being sidelined. Northern Illinois says the school will apply for a medical redshirt for the senior through the MAC, supposing that is what Lewis will wish to do. Lewis has never redshirted but because he has already played this season he would lose the normal redshirt option.

Lewis has accounted for 3,617 all-purpose yards for Northern Illinois in 39 career games.

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Three top receivers not named Amari Cooper

Alvin Hill, Kevin White

By now everybody seems to know all about Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Crimson Tide receiver has been one of the best in the country and has some thinking he should be in the early Heisman Trophy conversation. But what about some other receivers that have a vital role to their team’s offense that you may have been missing this season?

West Virginia receiver Kevin White has gotten off on the right foot as West Virginia’s offense appears to be ticking for the first time since guys like Geno Smith and Tavon Austin were in Morgantown. White is second in the nation (behind Cooper) in receiving yards per game (158.3 ypg) and receiving yards (633 receiving yards) through the first four games of the season. Staying in the Big 12, Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett may not be piling up huge numbers, piling role in Bill Snyder‘s offense is still important. He still brings big-play ability at times and he fits the mold for Kansas State just fine.

White and Lockett are two wide receivers Josh Norris of Rotoworld is keeping his eyes on this season as potential draft picks that could be considered a bargain. Who else does he like? Watch this video to find out. potential draft picks that could be considered a bargain. Who else does he like? Watch this video to find out.

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Suspended Notre Dame players to have hearings soon

DaVaris Daniels, Taylor Richards

Five Notre Dame football players who have served suspensions for their ties to an ongoing investigation into academic conduct will soon have their hearings. Head coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday the hearings for wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive backs KeiVarae Russell and Eilar Hardy, defensive end Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore will be held by the end of next week.

Daniels, Moore, Russell and Williams were initially suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the university on August 15. Hardy was added to the suspension list for the season opener later in the month. A committee will now be formed by Notre Dame to determine if any of the players in question were guilty of violating the school’s academic misconduct policy. Because the hearings will not be held until next week, all players will be expected to miss this week’s game against Syracuse in MetLife Stadium, their fourth of the season.

“It’s a very complicated situation, obviously,” Kelly said, according to a report from ESPN.com. “There are a lot of pieces here. There are NCAA implications, certainly. We’re probably going down a path that [we've] never gone before, so there are things there.”

Kelly has suggested he is in touch with Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick to make sure everyone is on the same page with regards to the situation, and the process is moving as swiftly and thoroughly as possible. It may hurt Notre Dame’s depth in the short run, but getting to the bottom of the situation is more important.

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Former Michigan QB sounds off on state of program

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Michigan v Virginia Tech

Former Michigan quarterback Michael Taylor was among the last four-year players to play solely for Bo Schembechler in Ann Arbor, so his old school roots with the program are worth mentioning when discussing the state of the Wolverines. In a radio interview on Wednesday, Taylor pulled back no punches when asked for his opinions on today’s Michigan football program and its leadership.

“Michigan football is not going in the right direction,” Taylor said on the “Ryan and Rico” show on WMGC-FM (105.1), according to USA Today. “The leadership is bad, there are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It’s just sad.”according to USA Today. “The leadership is bad, there are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It’s just sad.”

He was just getting started. Taylor had some thoughts about Michigan hiring Brady Hoke as head coach, and they were not favorable.

“We didn’t get the coach who should have been our coach here (referring to San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh) because we insulted him in the first place,” Taylor explained. “So then look who we get. It’s nothing personal; Brady’s a nice guy, I’m sure all you guys agree. I’ll agree to that. Really nice guy, very personable guy. However, his pedigree did not deserve to be a $4-million coach here at Michigan.”

Hoke’s performance since arriving at Michigan has been coming under fire as the Wolverines struggle to beat other power conference opponents and fail to be a viable threat in a Big Ten conference that has been down compared to other conferences. To make things worse, Michigan State now has the upper hand in the state of Michigan when it comes to on-field performance.

“What we’ve become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we’re mediocre,” Taylor explained. “When, in your last 12 games, you’ve only got victories over Northwestern, [Appalachian] State, Indiana and Miami of Ohio, that is not good. That is not good. We’re mediocre right now. Will it stay that way? I don’t know. I don’t work there. I don’t have the say-so. But I do know this: I know a few hundred players who are not happy with what is going on and definitely think changes need to be made.”

Taylor may be right. Michigan does need to make some changes, and fast.

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Charlie Weis challenges Kansas fans to show up for Texas game

Charlie Weis

It is not very often Kansas has a better record than Texas when they play in football, but that is the case this weekend in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks are 2-1 following a win at home against Central Michigan this past weekend. Texas is coming off two straight losses to BYU and UCLA as the Longhorns enter Big 12 play for the first time with Charlie Strong at the helm. Kansas head coach Charlie Weis hopes that encourages fans to come out and support the Jayhawks Saturday afternoon, and he is challenging fans to show up Saturday afternoon for the nationally televised game.

As noted by The Dallas Morning News, Kansas had the worst attendance in the Big 12 in 2013 with an average of just 37,884 fans per game. Memorial Stadium in Kansas has a listed seating capacity of just over 50,000 fans. When Texas visited Kansas in late October 2012 a total of just over 40,000 fans were reported to attend the game. The 2011 season finale between Kansas and Missouri welcomed slightly over 47,000 fans for the final game in the series before Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC. The 2008 game against the Longhorns welcomed 51,930 fans to Memorial Stadium, most of them being Texas fans cheering on the then fourth-ranked team in the country.

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Swinney says Clemson center threatened on social media for bad snap vs. FSU

Discover Orange Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State

Clemson’s chances to knock off Florida State in Tallahassee Saturday night could come down to any number of miscues or missed opportunities for the Tigers. One of those such instances occurred when center Ryan Norton sailed a snap over the head of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, resulting in a loss of 23 yards after being just half a yard from the end zone. Because of that play, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says Norton has received threats over social media

“Coach [Chad Morris] told me [about the threats] last night,” Swinney told reporters, according to an ESPN report. “That’s disappointing. I think he deleted his account. It’s a shame that young people have to deal with that kind of stuff. Nobody wants to make a bad snap.”

As is typically the case for any athlete on Twitter or Facebook, they will quickly become the target of misguided fans venting their frustrations over a bad play or game. Sadly, this happens all too often with college players. In Norton’s case, Clemson ended up missing out on some likely points in regulation, which may have been needed to avoid losing in overtime to the top-ranked team in the country. Kicker Ammon Lakip missed a 40-yard field goal on the imploded drive. Clemson had a number of other opportunities to pick up a win on the road though, so singling out Norton’s bad snap is not fair at all.

“I think most of it was people mad and venting, but it was threatening to Ryan is what I was told,” Swinney said. “Those aren’t fans — those are people with issues.”

There is a fine line between allowing college football to be a part of your life and running your life. If you fall on the side where you feel better about yourself sending threats and derogatory remarks to a college student following a bad game, perhaps you should spend some time re-evaluating your priorities in general.

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Holgorsen says CB Travis Bell has ‘retired’

West Virginia v Maryland

The up-and-down career of Travis Bell in Morgantown has apparently come to an end.

After taking the week off and not dressing for the Oklahoma loss this past Saturday, Bell has “retired,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday.  Whether Holgorsen meant that the defensive back retired from the Mountaineers or the game of football entirely is not clear.

We wish him well,” the coach said.

In a span of 10 months last year, the cornerback was arrested and charged twice.  In mid-February, Bell was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery following an incident involving his girlfriend.  10 months later, in early December, Bell was charged with driving under the influence.

Because of the second arrest, Bell was suspended for all of spring practice earlier this year.  He was reinstated in time for summer camp and played in the first three games of the year, albeit sparingly.

In 2013, Bell started nine of the 12 games in which he played.

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Indiana loses two key defensive reserves to season-ending injuries

Indiana v Ohio State Getty Images

Indiana’s upset win over Missouri came at a big cost personnel-wise.

During a press conference Monday, head coach Kevin Wilson confirmed that cornerback Kenny Mullen and linebacker Marcus Oliver will not play again during the 2014 season due to injuries incurred in the Mizzou win. Both players suffered unspecified knee injuries that will sideline them for the last nine regular season games and a bowl game if IU qualifies.

Both players should qualify for a medical hardship waiver and another season of eligibility, which is especially important for the senior Mullen.

“Unfortunately, they’re two of our better backups and special team guys,” Wilson said. “It’s unfortunate for Kenny and Marcus. They’re two great kids and great players, but we gotta move on. We need those guys to continue to be great leaders for us and bring energy because they’re veterans.”

Mullen was the Hoosiers’ top backup cornerback, and had played in 38 games the past three-plus years. He started five of those contests.

Oliver was a backup linebacker who saw extensive action the first three games this season

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SEC suspends Miss. St. player for stomping LSU players

Mississippi State v Arkansas

During Saturday’s Mississippi State-LSU game, television replays seemed to indicate that Bulldogs offensive lineman Dillon Day, on two separate occasions, had stomped on a pair of Tiger football players.

Three days later, the lineman’s conference agreed.

In a statement, the SEC announced that Day has been slapped with a one-game suspension for what it described as “multiple flagrant and unsportsmanlike acts” during the win in Death Valley. Because MSU is on a bye this weekend, Day will be sidelined for the Oct. 4 game against Texas A&M.

Here’s the SEC’s statement, in its entirety.

Upon review of game video from the contest between LSU and Mississippi State on Sept. 20 in Baton Rouge, La., SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has announced that Mississippi State senior center Dillon Day is suspended for the Bulldog’s next game, which is scheduled for Oct. 4 in Starkville.

This action is the result of multiple flagrant and unsportsmanlike acts during the game, as well as previous disciplinary action for similar behavior.

This action is taken in accordance with Southeastern Conference Constitution, Article 4.4.2 (d) which states that a student-athlete may be suspended if it is determined that the student-athlete has committed a flagrant or unsportsmanlike act.

In a letter posted on social media Monday, Day vehemently denied that he had intentionally stomped on any LSU player.  Below is Day’s tweet, which contains a photo of the letter:

Day’s protests notwithstanding, the video clips of the two incidents appear to indicate that the stomps were very much intentional and could’ve easily been avoided.  Suffice to say, the SEC agrees with that stance.

Also, as noted by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger earlier this week, Day was suspended for a half game last season for stomping on an Auburn player.

The clip below shows the two most recent incidents, and puts into doubt Day’s recollection of the events that ultimately led to his latest suspension.

 

Day will be eligible to return to the starting lineup for the Oct. 11 game against Auburn.

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Statistical adjustment nets Blake Sims a record-setting game

Florida Atlantc v Alabama

Blake Simsmonster game Saturday, as it turns out, will officially go in the Alabama record books as a historic performance all on its own.

The Tide quarterback’s 445 yards passing and 457 yards of total offense in the win over Florida were, at the time, the second-most and tied for most totals in school history, respectively.  That remains the case for the former.  The latter, though, has been tweaked to Sims’ benefit.

What happened was, 27 yards have been added to Sims rushing total.  That pushed his total offense to 484 yards, a single-game UA record ahead of the 457 yards at which he and Scott Hunter (1969) had been tied.

The additional yardage was connected to a second-quarter fumble.  From al.com:

On his second-quarter fumble, Sims was inaccurately docked 33 rushing yards — the distance between the line of scrimmage (Florida’s 32-yard line) and where Florida ultimately finished with it (Alabama’s 35). Sims, though, should only have been docked 6 — the distance between the line of scrimmage and where it was recovered (Florida’s 38).

The decision also moves Sims from 24th nationally in total offense per game (301.3) to 22nd (308.0).  That total is fifth among SEC quarterbacks.

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Orange to be without leading receiver for ‘a couple weeks’

Ashton Broyld, Steele Divitto

With its first conference game in its second season as a member of the ACC on the horizon, it appears Syracuse could make its 2014 league debut without its top threat in the passing game.

During the first half of ‘Cuse’s loss to Maryland last Saturday, Ashton Broyld suffered what’s only being described as a lower-leg injury.  Head coach Scott Shafer confirmed Monday that the wide receiver will be “a couple [of] weeks” because of the injury.

Such a timeline means he won’t play in the prime-time game against Notre Dame this weekend, and all but guarantees he won’t be on the field for the conference opener against Louisville the following Friday.

“He’s really done a nice job growing as a young man this past year and a half,” Shafer said. “Disappointing, but it’ll be a great challenge for him to learn from.

“I know he’ll be working hard on the rehab.”

Broyld is currently tops on the team with 11 receptions and is second with 125 receiving yards. Broyld led the team last year in both categories (52-452).

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Broken hand costs Hawaii its No. 2 QB for rest of 2014

Jeremy Higgins AP

Moving forward, Hawaii won’t have Jeremy Higgins as a quarterback security blanket.

UH athletics has announced that the senior will miss the remainder of the 2014 season due to a fracture in his left (throwing) hand.  Higgins suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss to Colorado.

Head coach Norm Chow had yanked ineffective starter Ikaika Woolsey (10-24, 64 yards) at halftime in favor of Higgins. The replacement wasn’t much more effective as Higgins went 4-of-17 for 66 yards before being injured.

Higgins was replaced by former Ohio State transfer Taylor Graham.

Chow said that while the injury essentially ends Higgins’ playing career, it’ll allow him to get a jumpstart on the next phase of his career: coaching.

“It’s really a tough deal and we feel really badly for Jeremy,” the coach said in a statement. “He’s the consummate teammate and team leader who worked really hard in his career to get where he’s at. It’s very unfortunate but Jeremy will still be around the team, serving as a student assistant. He wants to get into coaching and this will be a good start for his career.”

Over his three-year career at UH, he appeared in nine games, with one start, and completed 41-of-82 attempts for 489 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for one touchdown in 2012.

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Jameis Winston’s, FSU’s Bovada odds take precipitous drop

Jameis Winston AP

It was understood that, because of his one-game suspension, Jameis Winston‘s hopes of becoming just the second player ever to claim back-to-back Heismans had nearly been extinguished,

Today, we have some unofficial data to back up that contention.  And the contention that his team is no longer the favorite to claim back-to-back titles.

Entering the 2014 season, Winston was a 9/2 favorite to win the 2014 Heisman per Bovada.lv.  Two weeks later, those odds dropped to 15/2, and then 10/1 a week ago.  After another week of tumult?  The FSU quarterback is now at 20/1, tied with Baylor’s Bryce Petty and behind nine other players.

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is the prohibitive favorite at the moment at 2/1; the Ducks quarterback was at 11/2 a week ago.  The next three all saw there odds drop from where they were a week ago: Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, 10/1 (15/2 a week ago); Georgia running back Todd Gurley, 10/1 (7/1); and Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, 12/1 (10/1).

Amari Cooper made the most noteworthy jump of the week, with the standout Alabama wide receiver going from 33/1 to 18/1.

On the College Football Playoff side of the wagering equation, Florida State, coming off the narrow and Jameis-less overtime win against Clemson, saw its odd dip to 15/2 from 5/1.  After spending the entire offseason as well as the first four weeks as the betting favorite, FSU now finds itself behind Alabama (13/2, up slightly from 7/1) and on par with Auburn (15/2, 9/1) and Oklahoma (the same 15/2 as a week ago).

Somewhat surprisingly, it was a pair of Big Ten teams with two of the biggest upward movers.  Coming off a bye weekend, Ohio State went from 33/1 to 20/1.  Michigan State, fresh off the boot stomp of Eastern Michigan, went from 33/1 to 20/1 as well.

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

Week 5 Bovada Heisman Odds

Week 5 Bovada CFP Odds

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Auburn’s Jermaine Whitehead remains indefinitely suspended

Arkansas v Auburn Getty Images

For those looking for some clarity on Jermaine Whitehead‘s playing status moving forward, you’ll have to wait a while longer.

On his Monday night radio show, head coach Gus Malzahn said “[n]othing’s changed at this point” when asked about Whitehead’s suspension. The defensive back was indefinitely suspended last week by Malzahn, reportedly after getting into a verbal altercation with an assistant coach.

Malzahn followed that up with a teleconference Tuesday in which he stated Whitehead won’t be on the sidelines for this weekend’s game.  He’s already missed last Thursday’s narrow road win over Kansas State.

The good news for the Tigers is they already have a quality player in place. Starting in place of Whitehead, Josh Holsey was credited with a career-high 11 tackles in the win over the Wildcats. For that effort, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

That said, Holsey moved over from cornerback, so getting the talented Whitehead back sooner than later would be optimal.

Prior to his suspension, Whitehead started the last 26 games at safety, and currently leads the Tigers in interceptions with two. One of those picks was returned for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Arkansas.

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