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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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The 10 hottest – and 10 cheapest – tickets of the 2014-15 bowl season

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Rutgers v Notre Dame Getty Images

Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger did a wonderful thing. As the paper’s Ole Miss beat writer, he wondered how much the average price of a ticket to the Rebels’ Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against TCU was going for on the secondary market. He found his answer – $84.15 – and then wondered how that ranked against the other 37 bowl games.

So he looked it up.

He found that three bowls stand above the rest: the Rose and Sugar bowls, and the Pinstripe Bowl – pitting nearby and postseason-starved Penn State against nearby and excited-to-play-Penn-State Boston College. Kellenberger also found that three bowls were drawing so little interest that they didn’t show up at all on the secondary market: the New Mexico, Famous Idaho Potato  and Bahamas bowls.

Every other bowl game has tickets for sale on line, and the demand varies wildly.

Ten Hottest Tickets
1. Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Alabama – $239.25
2. Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Florida State – $149
3. Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State vs. Boston College – $132.12
4. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. USC – $98.84
5. GoDaddy Bowl: Toledo vs. Arkansas State – $97.68
6. Outback Bowl: Auburn vs. Wisconsin – $92.01
7. Peach Bowl: TCU vs. Ole Miss – $84.15
8. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy vs. San Diego State – $75.45
9. Boca Raton Bowl: Marshall vs. Northern Illinois – $72.45
10. Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Colorado State – $70.89

Ten Cheapest Tickets
1. Orange Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech – $5.25
2. Cactus Bowl: Washington vs. Oklahoma State – $9.25
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Clemson – $13.95
3. Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Rice – $13.95
5. Alamo Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA – $15.12
6. Citrus Bowl: Missouri vs. Minnesota – $16.29
7. Liberty Bowl: Texas A&M vs. West Virginia – $18.82
8. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Pittsburgh – $20
9. Camilia Bowl: South Alabama vs. Bowling Green – $22.14
10. Sun Bowl: Arizona State vs. Duke – $22.80

Seeing a so-called New Year’s Six Bowl like the Orange Bowl No. 1 on the list is shocking at first, but it does make some sense. Georgia Tech doesn’t travel well, sure. And, yeah, Mississippi State isn’t a short drive to Miami, and the Bulldogs must view the Orange Bowl as a consolation prize after heading into their last game in line for a semifinal berth.

But, still, worse than the Hawaii Bowl?

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P.J. Fleck signs six-year extension at Western Michigan, is now the MAC’s highest-paid coach

P.J. Fleck

Just a year after posting a 1-11 debut, P.J. Fleck is set to become the highest-paid coach in the Mid-American Conference.

The Broncos announced a six-year contract extension, keeping Fleck signed through the 2020 season, worth $800,000 annually, plus incentives. The new contract will make Fleck the MAC’s highest-paid coach, nearly 45 percent higher than second place Frank Solich ($554,500), according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

Fleck was mentioned as a possible candidate for openings imagined (Illinois) and real (Pittsburgh).

“This is a wonderful time to finalize this contract extension and thank Coach Fleck for his commitment to the Bronco program,” said WMU President John M. Dunn said in a statement. “Success on the playing field, achievement in the classroom and engagement with the community have been the team’s hallmarks over the past year. The pride and excitement generated by our scholar- athletes, their coach, assistant coaches and staff are reflective of the very best in collegiate athletics. Using any measure, this is a successful program and one we want to continue and build upon for years to come.”

Western Michigan posted a seven-win improvement in 2014, leaping from 1-11 to 8-4 and a berth in Saturday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl versus Air Force. The Broncos finished one game shy of sharing their third MAC West Division championship. Combined with a number of facilities updates, Western Michigan is making a significant investment to a program that still looking for its first bowl victory and has won just one MAC title in the last 44 years.

Fleck signed what has been called the highest-rated recruiting class in MAC history in 2014 and could be even better in 2015.

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WVU QB Clint Trickett returns to practice, will play vs. Texas A&M

Clint Trickett

West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett has returned to practice after leaving the Mountaineers’ 26-20 loss to Kansas State on Nov. 18.

“Clint’s done such a good job for us over the course of the year,” head coach Dana Holgorsen told the Associated Press. “He’s responsible for us being in a bowl game — did nothing to change what I think of him as far as the starting quarterback. We know what kind of kid he is, what kind of competitor he is.”

However, Trickett will not automatically resume his starting role upon his return. Sophomore Skyler Howard finished the K-State game strongly, hitting 15-of-23 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns, and led West Virginia to a 37-24 win over Iowa State in the regular season finale by throwing for 285 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 69 more yards.

“With that said, Skyler’s improving, he’s taking a lot of reps these last three weeks. I anticipate to have both ready to go and we’ll probably make a game-time decision on who starts and what the rotation will be.”

The most likely scenario is that both quarterbacks play in their Liberty Bowl date with Texas A&M depending on the situation. Trickett is the more accomplished passer, but Howard (12 rushes for 107 yards this season) is the greater threat to run the ball. Trickett completed 281-of-419 passes for 3,285 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season.

West Virginia will face Texas A&M at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 29 (ESPN).

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Mariota, Gordon headline Phil Steele All-America team

Marcus Mariota

Everyone has an All-America team these days. Heck, now that they’ve got some free time I hear the folks at Serial are going to pump out their own 2014 All-America team next week.

However, in crunching out their own list of 25-odd players, no one crunches more data than Phil Steele. The man is already a quarter of the way through his initial work for the 2015 season.

Anyway, on to current matters, the 2014 Phil Steele All-Americans can be found below. Second through 27th-team All-Americans can be found here.

Offense
QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
WR Rashad Greene, Florida State
TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota
C Reese Dismukes, Auburn
OL Spencer Drango, Baylor
OL Jake Fisher, Oregon
OL Tre’ Jackson, Florida State
OL Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Defense
LB Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
LB Bernardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
DB Landon Collins, Alabama
DB Gerod Holliman, Louisville
DB Senquez Golson, Ole Miss
DB Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
DL Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DL Malcom Brown, Texas
DL Nate Orchard, Utah
DL Shane Ray, Missouri

Specialists
K Brad Craddock, Maryland
P Tom Hackett, Utah
KR Mario Alford, West Virginia
PR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

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Jim Harbaugh declines to answer the Michigan question

Jim Harbaugh

With the stakes being raised in the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes and decision day looming, the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach will be asked about the Michigan job for as long as he remains the San Francisco 49ers head coach.

That’s the deal. Reporters know Harbaugh will decline to answer, and yet they ask anyway on the 0.0001% chance Harbaugh will reveal his destination to them at that precise moment. Or something like that.

Anyway, this time around it was San Jose Mercury-News columnist Tim Kawakami to ask the question. At first he charged right toward the subject at hand like a pole vaulter on approach.

Question: “Have you been offered a contract by the University of Michigan?”

Answer: “As you know, I only talk about the job that I have. We’ve been together a long time. Always been my policy.”

The second time around, Kawakami moseyed his way to the question the way a figure skater roams the ice while gearing up for his next move.

Question: “You have the history with Michigan. Is there a special affinity you have with that school that might supercede all other loyalties at this point?”

Answer: “Again, I really… I don’t talk any other job than the one I have. Or talk about anybody else’s process.”

And that was that.

In the event that Harbaugh becomes Michigan’s head coach, and Yahoo‘s Charles Robinson thinks it either happens by December 30 or doesn’t happen at all, he will likely only admit to being Michigan’s coach once he is wearing maize and blue and standing in Ann Arbor for his introductory press conference.

Until then, though, the 49ers have two games remaining, so get ready for two more weeks of this.

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Texas A&M and offensive line coach B.J. Anderson part ways

B.J. Anderson

Texas A&M dismissed offensive line coach B.J. Anderson on Thursday afternoon, the program announced.

Well, wait a minute. No, it was Anderson’s decision to leave a job that paid him $334,000 a year.

Semantics aside, the slide of Anderson’s offensive line typified the fate of the overall club under head coach Kevin Sumlin. Led by an offensive line featuring future first-round picks (and Mike Sherman recruits) Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, the Aggies started 11-2 in Sumlin’s first year, then slid to 9-4 without Joeckel, and then to 7-5 this season without Matthews, with offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi turning in an underperforming season.

Anderson spent six seasons working for Sumlin, three in College Station and three at Houston. Prior to that he coached the offensive line at Sam Houston State and Tarleton State, served as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M and coached at Stephen F. Austin prior to that.

Kansas feels like a natural landing spot for Anderson, considering the Jayhawks just hired another former Aggie assistant in David Beaty.

(Photo credit: Texas A&M athletics)
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Two years removed from USC, DeVante Wilson’s back in the Pac at Cal

DeVante Wilson

After a couple of years away from the FBS in general and the Pac-12 specifically, DeVante Wilson is officially back.

Wednesday night, Cal announced in a press release what Wilson, along with two other players, has been added to the football program. The defensive end comes to the Bears as a junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

“We had some obvious needs to address defensively,” head coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement. “It all begins with the pass rush and I feel like DeVante gives us an athletic, long and explosive pass rusher who is going to make us instantly better.”

Wilson was a three-star member of USC’s 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 20 weakside end in the country and the No. 38 player at any position in the state of California.  He tore an ACL prior to the start of his first summer camp, however, and never played a down for the Trojans.

The past two seasons, Wilson played at the JUCO level in California.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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BC extends Addazio’s contract through 2020

Steve Addazio

In the past week or two, Steve Addazio has seen his name connected to first the opening at Michigan and now Pittsburgh.  Apparently, though, he won’t be going anywhere.

Thursday afternoon, Boston College announced that it has reached an agreement on a new contract extension with Addazio.  With the extension, the head football coach is now signed through the 2020 season.

What if any financial bump Addazio may have received was not detailed.

“In just two years, Steve Addazio has done an amazing job with our football program,” athletic director Brad Bates said in a statement. “To lead a team to 14 wins and two consecutive bowl games during what was supposed to be a rebuilding process is a great accomplishment. Beyond winning, he has worked tirelessly to recruit top-notch student-athletes and develop lasting relationships with former players and the entire University community. He is one of the best motivators I’ve ever been around, and his enthusiasm is infectious. We are very fortunate to have him as our coach.”

In two seasons at BC under Addazio, the Eagles have won seven games each year and qualified for a pair of bowl games. In the two seasons prior to Addazio’s arrival, BC won a total of six games and didn’t qualify for a bowl game either year.

“I appreciate Fr. Leahy’s and Brad Bates’ support for our program and their confidence in me,” Addazio said. “I am also grateful to our student-athletes and our staff for their dedication and hard work. Boston College is a great, Jesuit Catholic education in a world-class city that competes in big-time college football and I am honored and humbled to be in this position.

“We have a lot more work to do, but I believe we are building the foundation for a great football program.”

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Vols’ leading rusher cited for underage consumption

Tennessee v South Carolina Getty Images

Unbelievably, there was a (gasp!) underage college student caught consuming alcohol a couple of weeks ago.  Even more unbelievable?  He was a football player!

That said, The Tennessean reported Wednesday night that Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd was cited Dec. 3 for underage drinking.  The 18-year-old Hurd, along with another male, were arrested by UT police, with one of the two transported to a local hospital.

Which one of the two was transported, though, is unknown.

Hurd, 18, and Hunter Rivait, who is listed as a student in a university student directory, were arrested by citation on Dec. 3 after police spotted a car with its lights on in a university dorm parking garage. Police found an unconscious male inside.

The initial University of Tennessee police report does not identify the unconscious male, who was later transported to a hospital.

UT officials said Hurd has been disciplined internally and will play against Iowa in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl.

As a true freshman in 2014, Hurd led the Vols with 777 yards rushing.  The next-closest back was Marlin Lane and his 279 yards.

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Oregon confirms Ifo Ekpre-Olomu won’t be available for playoffs

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Unfortunately, at least as far as the postseason is concerned, the worst has been confirmed when it comes to a key piece of Oregon’s defensive puzzle.

Wednesday, multiple media outlets reported that cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sustained what’s believed to be a serious knee injury during practice Tuesday.  It was heavily intimated that Ekpre-Olomu had sustained at least an ACL tear, and would be unavailable for the College Football Playoffs.

Thursday, head coach Mark Helfrich confirmed as much, although he hasn’t yet detailed the specific nature of the injury.

That means the senior will miss the CFP semifinal matchup in the Rose Bowl with Florida State, as well as, if the Ducks get past the Seminoles, the national championship game against the winner of the Alabama-Ohio State Sugar Bowl matchup.

Regardless of how you try to parse it, this is a significant loss for the Ducks.

Ekpre-Olomu was recently named first-team All-Pac-12, the third consecutive year he’s been accorded that honor, as well as a first-team Associated Press All-American. He’s started 40 straight games for the Ducks, and was viewed as a likely first- or second-round selection in next year’s NFL draft prior to the injury.

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Report: Jimbo Fisher set to be among five highest-paid head coaches

ACC Championship - Florida State v Georgia Tech

The most successful head football coach over the past three seasons isn’t even one of the 10 highest-paid at the FBS level.  That, though, could be about to change.

According to a report from Warchant.com, “Florida State officials and head coach Jimbo Fisher are expected to announce a new long-term agreement, which will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, before the Seminoles take on Oregon in the Rose Bowl.” Fisher earned just under $3.6 million in 2014, which placed him 14th in the USA Today coaches salary database.

Per the report, “[t]he new deal, which is still being finalized, likely will place him in the top five.” If that’s the case, Fisher’s new deal would average in excess of $5 million annually as Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops ($5.058 millin), Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin ($5.006 million) and Texas’ Charlie Strong ($5 million) sit at Nos. 3-5, respectively.

The new deal is also expected to be for eight years in length.

Since 2012, Fisher’s Seminoles have gone 39-2 and won three straight ACC titles. Riding a school-record 29-game winning streak, FSU will look to win back-to-back national championships, having claimed the final BCS title following the 2013 season.

The Seminoles and Ducks will square off in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl, with the winner facing the winner of the Alabama-Ohio State Sugar Bowl the same day in the first-ever College Football Playoff championship game.

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Starting QB, 2nd-leading rusher continue UAB exodus to S. Alabama

While one football program in the state of Alabama shuffled off this mortal coil, another has greatly benefited, personnel-wise, from its demise.

Wednesday, Cody Clements confirmed to al.com that he has decided to transfer to South Alabama for his final season of football.  The starting quarterback became the fourth former UAB football player to transfer to the the Sun Belt team since that university’s administration decided to kill off the Blazers football program.  A day later, running back D.J. Vinson, also entering his final season of eligibility, became the fifth.

All five of the UAB-to-USA transfers come from the offensive side of the ball.  The fact that offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent made the same move played a significant role in the mass migration to the Jaguars.

“Definitely I would say first of all, coach Vincent,” Clements said. “That was my main goal coming out of all this mess at UAB was to follow him if I could. He’s a great coach and I love playing for him.

“Then I got up there this past weekend and saw the facilities and housing and was able to hang out with the guys. I knew that was a good spot for me to go and to finish out my career.”

Clements started all 12 games for the Blazers in 2014, completing more than 65 percent of his passes for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’ll get the opportunity to start at his new school as the Jaguars’ starter last season, Brandon Bridge, is out of eligibility.

While Vinson finished second on the team in rushing with 670 yards, he told al.com in confirming his move to USA that he will play wide receiver. He had 15 receptions coming out of the backfield in 2014.

All five of the USA transfers, and every other former UAB football player for that matter, will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 thanks to a waiver from the NCAA.

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Justin Fuente, Memphis reach agreement on new deal

Temple v Memphis

One of the benefits usually associated with having your name mentioned as part of the annual spinning of the coaching carousel?  Ofttimes, a shiny new deal.

The latest to reap a reward from the spinning carousel is Justin Fuente, who has reached an agreement with Memphis on a contract extension, the school announced Thursday.  The financial particulars weren’t released, although the new deal very likely includes a raise.

In 2014, Fuente earned just over $1 million in total pay, eighth-highest among the head coaches in the AAC.

“Our football program has enjoyed unprecedented success under Coach Fuente’s leadership and we are excited to finalize this process and move forward,” said athletic director Tom Bowen in a statement. “The future of Tiger football is very bright and we look forward to the opportunity to build upon our success in the days and years ahead.”

Even it weren’t for outside interest, the fact that Memphis would reward Fuente is far from surprising.

In the three seasons immediately preceding Fuente’s arrival in 2012, the Tigers went 5-31. After winning seven games his first two seasons, Memphis went 9-3 in the regular season in claiming its first conference championship since the early seventies.

If Memphis wins its Miami Bowl matchup with BYU Dec. 22, it would mark the first time since the football program moved to the FBS/Div. 1-A level in 1960 that it finished a season with double-digit wins.

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Average cost of a national title game ticket? Nearly $1,700

American Money

We still don’t know yet who will square off in the College Football Playoff championship game.  What we do know is, if you want a ticket, it’ll cost you.  Plenty.

According to a report from The Oregonian, and based on prices available at Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket marketplace, the average price of a ticket for the Jan. 12 title game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas is $1,681. For the penny-pinchers in the crowd, the cheapest ticket to that game is $540 at the moment.

For comparison’s sake, the average price of a ticket for the final BCS title game, pitting Florida State against Auburn, was $1,907 based on a report from Forbes.com via Vivid Seats last Dec. 17. The cheapest ticket for that game at that time could hardly be labeled as cheap, with an end zone seat in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena setting you back $1,245.

Three weeks later, there, there were reports that the average ticket price for the BCS finale had dropped to $374 on the secondary ticket market, although that data was through TiqIQ.

As for the two CFP semifinal games that will be played New Year’s Day, the average price for a ticket to the Sugar Bowl (Alabama vs. Ohio State) comes in at $501, while the average for a ducat to the Rose Bowl (Oregon vs. Florida State) is $376.

TiqIQ reports that Sugar Bowl prices are 55.3% higher than for the 2014 game (Oklahoma vs. Alabama), while the Rose Bowl is down 33.3% compared to last season’s game (Michigan State vs, Stanford).

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BYU DB Dallin Leavitt transfers to Utah State

Houston v BYU Getty Images

Dallin Leavitt has decided to leave BYU but, as it turns out, he won’t have to leave the state.

Earlier this month it was reported that Leavitt would be transferring out of the BYU football program to an undetermined new location. Wednesday that new location was officially determined as both the player and his new head coach revealed via Twitter that he will continue his collegiate playing career at rival Utah State.

According to the Deseret News, Leavitt visited Logan last weekend before pulling the trigger on a transfer to USU.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Leavitt will be forced to sit out the 2015 season. Beginning in 2016, Leavitt will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Leavitt contributed immediately as a true freshman in 2013, playing in all 13 games with one start. In 2014, he played in 11 of 12 regular season games, and is currently fifth in tackles with 43. His 3.5 tackles for loss this season are second among defensive backs.

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