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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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Oregon State and Hawaii extend series through 2021

Oregon State is making a trip to Hawaii for a game this weekend, but the Beavers are already lining up another trip to the island. Oregon State and Hawaii announced today plans to extend the series with two additional game sin 2019 and 2021.

Oregon State is scheduled to make a trip to Hawaii on September 7, 2019. Hawaii will travel to Oregon State two years later on September 11, 2021.

“It’s been a competitive and entertaining series over the years,” Beaver head coach Mike Riley said in a statement released by Oregon State. “The fans enjoy the trip as do our players and coaches; it makes a lot of sense to continue the series with all the local ties that this University has with the state of Hawai’i.”

Oregon State leads the all-time series, 6-3.

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Bryce Petty believes he will play Saturday, broken back and all

Bryce Petty

I don’t know about you, but I have a rough enough time getting out of bed some days if I slept funny and my back is a little achy. Back injuries are nothing to mess around with, or so you would think. Despite being listed as day-to-day with two cracked bones in his spine, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty says he thinks he will be playing again this weekend when Baylor takes on Northwestern State.

“That’s my goal towards the rest of the week,” Petty said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “You can’t do anything worse to it, so if it’s bearable, I’ll do it.”

Well, you could do something worse to the back, no? Petty does not seem too concerned.

“It’s like a pinkie,” Petty said. “You can’t do much except just brace it up and wait for it to heal. Football is football, you have pain. Might as well get rewarded for it.”

Well, that’s one way to look at it, I guess.

Baylor head coach Art Briles has said backup Seth Russell will direct the offense if Petty is not available. With Northwestern State as the opponent this weekend, it might be wise to go easy on Petty this week and give him the week off. Baylor will still put up 50 points, or at least they should with or without Petty under center.

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Indicted for attempted rape, BGSU RB William Houston suspended

MAC Championship - Bowling Green v Northern Illinois Getty Images

A rather serious incident, or at least allegations of a serious incident, has triggered a suspension for one Bowling Green Falcon.

According to the Toledo Blade, running back William Houston was indicted by a Wood County (Ohio) grand jury in August for attempted rape.  The alleged attempted rape occurred July 20 and had previously been reported.

From the Blade:

Bowling Green police were called to a home in the 200 block of Manville Avenue where the victim told police she’d fallen asleep and awoke when a man “tried to force himself on her.” Mr. Houston was identified by others who were also at the home as the suspect, and he was arrested in an on-campus residence hall.

BGSU independently investigated the allegations, finding Houston responsible for “sexual contact without permission.” As a result, Houston was suspended from the football team for a period of two years.

Why he wasn’t banned permanently from both the team and the university pending the outcome of a trial is unknown.

A three-star member of the Falcons’ 2013 recruiting, Houston rushed for 211 yards as a true freshman last season.  He also led the team with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Obviously, Houston didn’t play in the season-opening loss to Western Kentucky.

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ACC will not punish Syracuse QB Hunt for punching Villanova player

Terrel Hunt

Syracuse got by FCS power Villanova in a Friday night season-opener, but had to do so following the ejection of starting quarterback Terrel Hunt. Hunt was ejected from the football game after throwing a punch on the ground to Villanova linebacker Dillon Lucas, who had tackled the quarterback in the second quarter.

According to Section 6.1 of the NCAA rule book, a player disqualified from a game due to a flagrant personal foul will have the incident reviewed by his team’s conference to determine if any extra punishment is deemed necessary. That review is to be completed before the team’s next game on the schedule. Citing information from an ACC spokesperson, Syracuse.com reports the ACC has reviewed the play and will not hand out any extra punishment.

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer released a statement through the Syracuse athletics department to say he and Hunt discussed the incident and are now moving forward.

“Terrel and I have talked regarding his flagrant penalty (vs. Villanova) and he fully understands the behavior is not condoned and regrets his action,” the statement read, according to Syracuse.com.

Syracuse’s next game is not until September 13, when the Orange visit Central Michigan.

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Cody Kessler undergoes procedure, expected to start vs. Stanford

Fresno State v USC Getty Images

A lower leg issue is not expected to keep USC’s starting quarterback out of what will be a huge conference matchup this weekend, head coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday.

According to the head coach, Cody Kessler underwent a medical procedure on one of his toes earlier in the day.  While Sarkisian wouldn’t specify the nature of the medical issue, the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Kessler was hospitalized with a staph infection in the toe.

Regardless of the specific nature of the issue, Sarkisian said Kessler is expected to start Saturday’s game against Stanford.

Kessler, who has started 15 straight games for the Trojans, passed for a career-high 394 yards and four touchdowns in the season-opening win over Fresno State.  He was named the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Week for that performance.

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Movement aplenty in first in-season AP Top 25

Texas A&M v South Carolina Getty Images

Thanks to some upsets — and a couple of high-profile near-misses– shakeup was the name of the game as the Associated Press released its first poll of the 2014 season Tuesday afternoon.

In that Top 25 poll, Florida State, coming off a closer-than-expected win over unranked Oklahoma State, remained No. 1, although the defending FBS champs did see an erosion in their support.  After receiving 57 first-place votes in the AP‘s preseason poll, the Seminoles claimed just 46 in Week 1.

A whopping six teams were on the receiving end of first-place votes from the media: No. 2 Alabama (one), No. 3 Oregon (five), No. 4 Oklahoma (two), No. 6 Georgia (two), No. 9 Texas A&M (two) and No. 12 LSU (one).

While the top four teams remained the same from a week ago, every position but No. 10 (Baylor), No. 20 (Kansas State) and No. 24 changed.

Below are the four biggest movers, of the week, both up and down:

UP
No. 9 Texas A&M (No. 21 last week)
No. 6 Georgia (No. 12)
No. 15 Ole Miss (No. 18)
No. 19 Nebraska (No. 22)
No. 25 Louisville (No. 31 last week)

DOWN
No. 21 South Carolina (No. 9)
No. 23 Clemson (No. 16)
No. 11 UCLA (No. 7)
No. 18 Wisconsin (No. 14)
No. 8 Ohio State (No. 5)

The only team to fall out the Top 25 this week was Washington, which was ranked 25th entering Week 1.

AP Top 25 Week 1

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Spurrier on Mike Davis: ‘good chance he’ll play’

Texas A&M v South Carolina Getty Images

Apparently it was a false alarm when it came to Mike Davis.  Again.

Monday, Steve Spurrier said his star running back is “sort of doubtful” for South Carolina’s game Saturday against East Carolina because of a lingering rib issue.  That issue limited the All-SEC back to just four carries, none after the midway point of the second quarter in the season-opening loss to Texas A&M.

During a press conference Tuesday, however, Spurrier sounded decidedly optimistic about Davis’ availability compared to 24 hours ago.

Because of Davis’ issues, Brandon Wilds led all USC backs with 45 yards on nine carries.

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Vols lose starting LT to torn ACL

Jacob Gilliam, Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson

Thanks to injuries, the game of football can be a cruel mistress.  The latest example?  Tennessee’s Jacob Gilliam.

After four years as a walk-on, the offensive lineman was rewarded with a scholarship this past May.  Then, Saturday, Gilliam started his first game at the collegiate level in the Vols’ win over Utah State.

That, though, will be Gilliam’s last start for a while — or ever — as head coach Butch Jones confirmed Tuesday that the player sustained a torn ACL in the opener.  Because of the injury, Gilliam (pictured, left) will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

“It’s very, very unfortunate,” Jones said. “I feel for him. I feel for his family. Here’s a young man, I love him to death. Walk-on who earned a scholarship. He earned it. … I just feel for Jacob just because he’s earned the respect of his peers and he’s worked so hard to put himself in position to be our starting left tackle.”

The Knoxville News wrote that “Jones said Tennessee is exploring the possibility of applying for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, but it’s unlikely that will be granted.” If that waiver is denied, it would mean the end to Gilliam’s collegiate career.

The injury is especially damaging for a Vols squad that came into the 2014 season with five new starting offensive linemen.

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FSU still sits atop coaches’ poll

Oklahoma State v Florida State Getty Images

With Week 1 officially in the books, the first wave of Top 25 polls has commenced in earnest, with the newly-dubbed Amway Coaches’ Poll the first to do the in-season 2014 honors.

Not so unexpectedly, preseason No. 1 Florida State remains at the top of the coaching poll.  The Seminoles also stretched its lead on No. 2 Alabama, going from 88 points up on the Tide to 109 as well as picking up a first-place vote.

FSU now has 57 of the 62 first-place votes.

Three other teams received first-place votes: No. 3 Oklahoma (two), No. 4 Oregon (two) and No. 8 Georgia (one), which was ranked No. 12 in the initial preseason poll.  The other team that received a first-place vote in the poll released last month, South Carolina, lost to Texas A&M and tumbled all the way to No. 21 from No. 9.

UCLA, with a sloppy road win over Virginia, also fell out of the Top 10, from No. 7 to No. 11.  Replacing the Bruins in the Top 10 was Stanford at No. 10.

Ohio State also dropped despite a win, moving down two from No. 6 to No. 8.  Michigan State, on the other hand, moved into the No. 6 hole vacated by their Big Ten foe after entering Week 1 No. 7.

The Top 10 was rounded out by Auburn (No. 5, same as last week) and Baylor (No. 9, No. 10 last week).

Thanks to its dominating win over South Carolina Thursday night, A&M made the biggest move up in the coaches’ Top 25.  Ranked No. 20 entering Week 1, the Aggies climbed all the way up to No. 13 entering Week 2.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, dropped five spots to No. 19 following its loss to LSU.  The Tigers, though, moved up just one spot to No. 12.

Oklahoma State, which nearly knocked off FSU, is the first team in the “Others Receiving Votes” with 106 points; in the preseason poll, the Cowboys totaled just 37.

Unlike in the past with the BCS, and as we will remind you every week moving forward, neither the coaches’ poll or the Associated Press rankings, which will be released this afternoon, will have any bearing on which teams qualify for the College Football Playoff.

1. Florida State 1,541
2. Alabama 1,432
3. Oklahoma 1,407
4. Oregon 1,358
5. Auburn 1,289
6. Michigan State 1,141
7. Ohio State 1,114
8. Georgia 1,108
9. Baylor 1,018
10. Stanford 999
11. UCLA 964
12. LSU 912
13. Texas A&M 895
14. USC 713
15. Notre Dame 605
16. Arizona State 502
17. Ole Miss 438
18. Nebraska 384
19. Wisconsin 373
20. Kansas State 370
21. South Carolina 272
22. Missouri 189
23. North Carolina 189
24. Clemson 155
25. Texas 150

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Badgers to shut Joel Stave down, ‘give him some rest’

Joel Stave

After watching Tanner McEvoy put up some horrific numbers in Wisconsin’s loss to LSU — 8-of-24 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions — many were calling for backup Joel Stave to come in and save the quarterbacking day.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, that’s simply not possible.  At least, not at the moment.

UW announced Tuesday that Stave will miss some time due to a lingering shoulder issue, which was a point of concern for the coaching staff throughout spring practice.  It’s unclear how long the senior will be sidelined.

“Joel has been dealing with some issues with his throwing shoulder for the last couple of weeks and we have come to a decision, after talking with Joel, that the best thing for him right now is to shut it down and give him some rest,” head coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. “It was a tough decision because Joel is a great competitor and has a tremendous desire to help this team. We will continue to monitor his progress but we’re not putting a timetable on his return at this time.”

Putting Stave on the shelf also explains why McEvoy wasn’t yanked in the midst of his subpar performance.

Stave started all 13 games for the Badgers last season, while the 6-6, 222-pound McEvoy was moved to safety — played in 10 games, started three — before returning to quarterback in the spring. The naming of McEvoy as the starter for the opener came as a surprise given the experience on both sides, including McEvoy’s lack of it.

With Stave out for the foreseeable future, however, the Badgers’ fortunes will rest with McEvoy. Redshirt sophomore Bart Houston will now serve as McEvoy’s primary backup.

In addition to the Stave news, Anderson also announced that tight end T.J. Watt will “miss an extended amount of time” because of injury.  Anderson said the younger brother of UW legend J.J. Watt “suffered a right knee injury during camp which required surgery.”

“[W]e hope to have him back on the practice field at some point during the conference season,” the coach said of Watt.

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Terps lose WR Taivon Jacobs to season-ending knee injury

C.J. Brown, Andrew Isaacs, Taivon Jacobs, Silvano Altamirano AP

It’s not been a good past few days for Maryland’s pass-catching Jacobs brothers.

Friday, Levern Jacobs was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the school’s code of student conduct.  Two days later, head coach Randy Edsall announced that Taivon Jacobs (pictured, No. 12) has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.

Jacobs suffered the injury on the second drive of the Terps’ season-opening win against James Madison Saturday.

As a true freshman in 2013, Jacobs took a redshirt as a torn ACL suffered during his senior year in high school limited his availability.  Jacobs, who was one of three starting Terp receivers, didn’t record a catch prior to going down with the injury.

The loss of the Jacobs brothers continues an attrition trend at the position over the past year.  In 2013, both of Maryland’s top receivers, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, went down with season-ending injuries in the same mid-October game.  Shortly before the start of summer camp this year, Nigel King, the team’s third-leading receiver last year, left the football team and ultimately landed at Kansas earlier this month.

 

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Brother of Miss. St. WR Jameon Lewis shot, killed

Alabama v Mississippi State Getty Images

Sadly, real life has found a way to impact one of the top returning wide receivers in the SEC.

According to WJTV, Tyriunce Lewis, the brother of Mississippi State Bulldog Jameon Lewis, was shot and killed late Sunday morning at an apartment complex in Tylertown, Miss. The website wrote that “a disagreement between Tyriunce Lewis and Kendall Magee escalated into gunfire.”

Lewis was shot once in the head with a handgun, the sheriff told the television station.

Tyriunce Lewis was in attendance at the Bulldogs 49-0 season-opening win over Southern Miss Saturday, a fact the receiver relayed in an Instagram post Monday.

It’s crazy how life works at time… Just saw my lil brother last night, he came to my game to support me!!! Who knew that was gonna be my last time seeing my blood brother!!! Life is unpredictable #RipToot I love ya lil bra!!! I promise ya, your lil ones would be in good hands & have a bright future!!! #FlyHighBra #MuchLoveTubby

Jameon Lewis is the leading returning receiver in the SEC. He had three catches for 25 yards in the opener.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Biloxi Sun Herald)

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Louisville downs Miami, now owns ACC record for all-time winning percentage

Miami v Louisville Getty Images

Tomorrow morning, Miami will wake up in south Florida and begin preparation for an opponent other than Louisville. That’s a wonderful thing for Al Golden and his football program. In closing the 2013 season and opening this season with losses to these Cardinals (36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, 31-13 tonight), Miami watched its offense score two total touchdowns in 23 possessions. That may sound bad – okay, it is bad – but the ‘Canes have been better at scoring touchdowns than converting third downs. They went a combined 1-for-23 there.

True freshman Brad Kaaya earned the start, playing about as well as you could reasonably expect an 18-year-old making his first start in a conference road game could play, hitting 17-of-29 throws for 174 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Duke Johnson contributed a workmanlike 20 carries for 90 yards.

Missed opportunities will be the story for Miami after the Hurricanes twice inherited the ball inside Louisville’s 10 yard line and came away with a total of three points. But perhaps the biggest blown chance of the night came early in the fourth quarter, when Kaaya hit Johnson on a wheel route that would have given Miami a first-and-goal at the 5 and a chance to pull within one score, but offensive lineman Danny Isidora was hit with an ineligible receiver downfield penalty, negating the entire play. Two plays later Kaaya was sacked for a loss of 11 yards, and two plays after that Miami turned the ball over on downs.

Louisville then took over at its own 33, leisurely marched 67 yards in 14 plays, ate up an oh-so-valuable 7:47 off the clock, and pushed the score to 31-13.

Ball, meet game.

In the re-debut of Bobby Petrino at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, it was the Cardinal running game that powered his highly-respected offense. Dominique Brown rushed 33 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Will Gardner added 206 passing yards and two touchdowns (plus two lost fumbles) in his first start. The win moves Petrino to 42-9 at Louisville, and an impressive 23-1 at home.

Most importantly, the win moves Louisville to 1-0 all-time in ACC play, thereby placing the Cardinals atop the conference record books for all-time winning percentage.

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Standout Nebraska DE Randy Gregory doubtful for McNeese State game

Randy Gregory, Nathan Scheelhaase

An old basketball injury could cost Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory the first two games of his 2014 season – at least.

Gregory left the Cornhuskers’ 55-7 defeat of Florida Atlantic after the first defensive series, and is now doubtful for Saturday’s game with McNeese State. According to head coach Bo Pelini, a non-contact play aggravated an old injury that caused a clicking sensation inside Gregory’s knee.

Considering Nebraska was able to beat Florida Atlantic 55-7 without him, and with McNeese State and Fresno State (52-13 losers to USC on Saturday) on the docket before Miami visits Lincoln on Sept. 20, the Huskers can afford to be patient with Gregory. And that’s exactly how they plan to proceed.

“We’re not looking to rush him back right now,” Pelini told the Associated Press. “Make sure he’s 100 percent, feels good, and when that time frame is, we’ll see.”

Gregory earned preseason All-Big Ten honors after leading the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks as a sophomore. He earned consensus First Team All-Big Ten honors in 2013 after collecting 66 tackles and 19.5 tackles for loss in addition to registering a double-digit sack number.

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Louisville-Miami a beautiful mess through one half, Cards lead 14-10

Al Golden

Though it is the final game of extended Week 1 of the 2014 college football season, we must remember tonight is indeed still Week 1 for everyone. Because all three teams on the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium field tonight – Louisville, Miami and the officials – have been sloppy as all get out. Louisville leads Miami 14-10 at the break.

The most entertaining – and infuriating – sequence came at the top of the second quarter. ‘Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya hit Clive Waiford for a two-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, Will Gardner was sacked and fumbled on first down, handing the ‘Canes the ball again at the Louisville seven. One snap later, Kaaya snapped a pass to Stacy Coley, which he dropped. Keith Kelsey scooped the free pigskin and raced toward his own end zone, but the play was blown dead even though it was clearly a backward pass. To top it all off, Louisville had 13 players on the field at the snap.

Louisville started its first five possessions inside its own 20 thanks to some atrocious special teams play, and then took the lead with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Corvin LambBobby Petrino’s offense has been mostly inconsistent through the night with four drives of three plays or less, but opened the scoring with a 12-play, 93-yard drive capped by a two-yard touchdown toss from Gardner to Charles Standberry

Kaaya has been as good as you can reasonably expect for an 18-year-old true freshman making his first start in a road conference game. He’s hit 8-of-12 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions – though he did under-throw that lateral to Coley that ended a golden opportunity for the Hurricanes.

Miami gets the ball to open the second half.

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