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SEC reveals 2014 conference schedule

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Just in time for the start of the 2013 season, the SEC has looked ahead to next year and unveiled its slate of games for the 2014 season.

Highlighting that schedule release are several cross-division matchups, beginning with Texas A&M traveling to South Carolina Aug. 28 to open the 2014 regular season.  Another must-see game includes the Aggies, with LSU taking a trip into College Station Thanksgiving weekend.  That Thursday night matchup will  be the first football game televised on the new SEC Network.

The final crossover games to note — aside from the protected ones — next season involve Florida, and it’s brutal: Alabama hosting the Gators Sept. 20, with UF hosting LSU three weeks later.

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors have committed to a review of football scheduling to be completed in time for preparation of the 2016 schedule,” commissioner Mike Slive said at the spring meetings. “The objective of this review is to develop a scheduling format for the 2016 season and beyond, which will be in the best interests of the conference. The conference’s current 6-1-1 scheduling format will continue until a new format is approved by the conference membership.”

Other notes from the schedule  release before getting to the full slate of games:

— A&M will have just three conference games in College Station in 2014 (Ole Miss, Missouri and LSU).  The fourth will be played in Dallas against Arkansas.

–For the first time in over two decades, Tennessee and Florida won’t meet on the third Saturday in September.  In 2014, the Vols-Gator matchup will take place Oct. 4 in Knoxville.

— Georgia will avoid playing Alabama in the regular season — the teams squared off in the 2012 SEC championship game — for the sixth year in a row, having last played the Tide in 2008 (41-30 loss).

— A&M-USC and Missouri-Arkansas are the other permanent crossover games beginning with this schedule release.

— The in-state Kentucky-Louisville rivalry game will be played on the final weekend of the regular season beginning in 2014.  That will be the Cardinals first year in the ACC.

After the jump is the complete list of 2014 conferences games, both week-to-week and team-by-team.

Week-by-Week

Aug. 28
Texas A&M at South Carolina

Aug. 30
Arkansas at Auburn

Sept. 6
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Sept. 13
Kentucky at Florida
Georgia at South Carolina

Sept. 20
Florida at Alabama
Mississippi State at LSU
South Carolina at Vanderbilt

Sept. 27
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Dallas)
Tennessee at Georgia
Vanderbilt at Kentucky
Missouri at South Carolina

Oct. 4
Alabama at Ole Miss
LSU at Auburn
Florida at Tennessee
Vanderbilt at Georgia
South Carolina at Kentucky
Texas A&M at Mississippi State

Oct. 11
Alabama at Arkansas
Auburn at Mississippi State
LSU at Florida
Georgia at Missouri
Ole Miss at Texas A&M

Oct. 18
Texas A&M at Alabama
Georgia at Arkansas
Missouri at Florida
Kentucky at LSU
Tennessee at Ole Miss

Oct. 25
Alabama at Tennessee
South Carolina at Auburn
Mississippi State at Kentucky
Ole Miss at LSU
Vanderbilt at Missouri

Nov. 1
Arkansas at Mississippi State
Auburn at Ole Miss
Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Kentucky at Missouri
Tennessee at South Carolina

Nov. 8
Alabama at LSU
Texas A&M at Auburn
Florida at Vanderbilt
Georgia at Kentucky

Nov. 15
Mississippi State at Alabama
LSU at Arkansas
Auburn at Georgia
South Carolina at Florida
Kentucky at Tennessee
Missouri at Texas A&M

Nov. 22
Ole Miss at Arkansas
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State
Missouri at Tennessee

Nov. 27
LSU at Texas A&M

Nov. 29
Auburn at Alabama
Arkansas at Missouri
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
Tennessee at Vanderbilt

2014 SEC Football Schedule (Conference Games Only)
Team-By-Team

ALABAMA
Sept. 20 – FLORIDA
Oct. 4 – at Ole Miss
Oct. 11 – at Arkansas
Oct. 18 – TEXAS A&M
Oct. 25 – at Tennessee
Nov. 8 – at LSU
Nov. 15 – MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 29 – AUBURN

ARKANSAS
Aug. 30 – at Auburn
Sept. 27 – vs. Texas A&M (Dallas)
Oct. 11 – ALABAMA
Oct. 18 – GEORGIA
Nov. 1 – at Mississippi State
Nov. 15 – LSU
Nov. 22 – OLE MISS
Nov. 29 – at Missouri

AUBURN
Aug. 30 – ARKANSAS
Oct. 4 – LSU
Oct. 11 – at Mississippi State
Oct. 25 – SOUTH CAROLINA
Nov. 1 – at Ole Miss
Nov. 8 – TEXAS A&M
Nov. 15 – at Georgia
Nov. 29 – at Alabama

FLORIDA
Sept. 13 – KENTUCKY
Sept. 20 – at Alabama
Oct. 4 – at Tennessee
Oct. 11 – LSU
Oct. 18 – MISSOURI
Nov. 1 – vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 8 – at Vanderbilt
Nov. 15 – SOUTH CAROLINA

GEORGIA
Sept. 13 – at South Carolina
Sept. 27 – TENNESSEE
Oct. 4 – VANDERBILT
Oct. 11 – at Missouri
Oct. 18 – at Arkansas
Nov. 1 – vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
Nov. 8 – at Kentucky
Nov. 15 – AUBURN

KENTUCKY
Sept. 13 – at Florida
Sept. 27 – VANDERBILT
Oct. 4 – SOUTH CAROLINA
Oct. 18 – at LSU
Oct. 25 – MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 1 – at Missouri
Nov. 8 – GEORGIA
Nov. 15 – at Tennessee

LSU
Sept. 20 – MISSISSIPPI STATE
Oct. 4 – at Auburn
Oct. 11 – at Florida
Oct. 18 – KENTUCKY
Oct. 25 – OLE MISS
Nov. 8 – ALABAMA
Nov. 15 – at Arkansas
Nov. 27 – at Texas A&M

OLE MISS
Sept. 6 – at Vanderbilt
Oct. 4 – ALABAMA
Oct. 11 – at Texas A&M
Oct. 18 – TENNESSEE
Oct. 25 – at LSU
Nov. 1 – AUBURN
Nov. 22 – at Arkansas
Nov. 29 – MISSISSIPPI STATE

MISSISSIPPI STATE
Sept. 20 – at LSU
Oct. 4 – TEXAS A&M
Oct. 11 – AUBURN
Oct. 25 – at Kentucky
Nov. 1 – ARKANSAS
Nov. 15 – at Alabama
Nov. 22 – VANDERBILT
Nov. 29 – at Ole Miss

MISSOURI
Sept. 27 – at South Carolina
Oct. 11 – GEORGIA
Oct. 18 – at Florida
Oct. 25 – VANDERBILT
Nov. 1 – KENTUCKY
Nov. 15 – at Texas A&M
Nov. 22 – at Tennessee
Nov. 29 – ARKANSAS

SOUTH CAROLINA
Aug. 28 – TEXAS A&M
Sept. 13 – GEORGIA
Sept. 20 – at Vanderbilt
Sept. 27 – MISSOURI
Oct. 4 – at Kentucky
Oct. 25 – at Auburn
Nov. 1 – TENNESSEE
Nov. 15 – at Florida

TENNESSEE
Sept. 27 – at Georgia
Oct. 4 – FLORIDA
Oct. 18 – at Ole Miss
Oct. 25 – ALABAMA
Nov. 1 – at South Carolina
Nov. 15 – KENTUCKY
Nov. 22 – MISSOURI
Nov. 29 – at Vanderbilt

TEXAS A&M
Aug. 28 – at South Carolina
Sept. 27 – vs. Arkansas (Dallas)
Oct. 4 – at Mississippi State
Oct. 11 – OLE MISS
Oct. 18 – at Alabama
Nov. 8 – at Auburn
Nov. 15 – MISSOURI
Nov. 27 – LSU

VANDERBILT
Sept. 6 – OLE MISS
Sept. 20 – SOUTH CAROLINA
Sept. 27 – at Kentucky
Oct. 4 – at Georgia
Oct. 25 – at Missouri
Nov. 8 – FLORIDA
Nov. 22 – at Mississippi State
Nov. 29 – TENNESSEE

Greg Ward Jr., to Heisman voters: ‘Psssttt, I’m still here, don’t forget’

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs past Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi, left, en route to a 30-yard touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.

Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.

In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.

On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.

The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.

While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well.  In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.

Report: Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel undergoes surgery, out as long as a month

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Sojourn Shelton #8 of the Wisconsin Badgers, Vince Biegel #47 of the Wisconsin Badgers, T.J. Edwards #53 of the Wisconsin Badgers react to a interception during the second half of a game against the USC Trojans in the National University Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Just in time for their toughest stretch of the season, No. 8 Wisconsin may be without one of the team’s most important defensive players.

Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is set to miss the next several weeks after undergoing surgery to insert a screw in his cracked foot.

“He’s been playing on it for the last couple weeks, and it was bothering him a little bit,” Biegel’s father Rocky told ESPN. “He had X-rays last night and confirmed it was cracked. He either plays on it, and then if he breaks it, then he’s going to be out for eight weeks. Either way, he’s got to have surgery on it. So he can keep playing until it breaks or try to go through the season with it and try to fix it. At any time, he could break it all the way through. It was just a crack and they’re just putting a screw in it. It’s a very, very minor crack.”

No matter how minor it is, losing Biegel for as long as a month is a huge blow to a defense that has been among the best in the country this season. Wisconsin does have a bye week after traveling to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday but also have to play No. 2 Ohio State and division rivals Iowa and Nebraska to close out October.

Biegel has nine tackles on the year and a sack but is among the most experienced players on the team having played in 46 games at Wisconsin, including 32 starts. Redshirt freshman Zack Baun is expected to take his place.

If there is one bright spot for head coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox however, it’s that the Badgers’ linebacking corp is one of the best in the country. Still, as good as Jack Cichy, T.J. Edwards and T.J. Watt have been this year, they’ll have to step up their games with an imposing schedule coming up.

Houston missing four starters for AAC matchup against UConn

SAN MARCOS, TX - SEPTEMBER 24: Duke Catalon #2 of the Houston Cougars runs against Brandon McDowell #6 of the Texas State Bobcats at Bobcat Stadium on September 24, 2016 in San Marcos, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Houston is looking to avenge their only loss of the 2015 season on Thursday night against Connecticut but the Cougars will have to do so a little short-handed.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the team is down a whopping four starters and a key backup against the Huskies: starting linebackers Tyus Bowser (head injury) and Matthew Adams (coaches’ decision), running back Duke Catalon (head injury), cornerback Brandon Wilson (lower leg) plus backup tight end Alex Leslie (ankle injury).

Catalon has already missed a game this season and is arguably the biggest loss for the team as that will force them to rely on quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (who missed last year’s game) even more against UConn. The transfer from Texas is averaging 4.7 yards a carry on the year and had a big game against Oklahoma in the opener.

Coach Tom Herman and the sixth-ranked Cougars still should be able handle their business at home against a conference foe but the mounting injuries this early in the season are starting to get a little concerning if you’re a Houston fan.

Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett officially withdraws from school

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Despite the wishes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide depth chart officially became a little thinner on Thursday.

After nearly a day of speculation, Alabama announced that quarterback Blake Barnett is no longer a part of the Crimson Tide football team.

“We received word this afternoon that Blake Barnett has officially withdrawn from school and is no longer with our program,” Saban said in a statement. “The quarterback position is a very unique position where only one player can play. We are very disappointed any time a player leaves the program who feels he can compete for a starting position elsewhere, rather than here at Alabama. We wish Blake the very best of luck in the future.”

Barnett started the opener against USC and has thrown for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the year. However the redshirt freshman lost the starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts and has only played sparingly in the first month of the season.

Saban recently said he wanted Barnett to remain with the program but it seems pretty obvious that playing time would be limited as the team’s backup signal-caller and a transfer would be forthcoming. Now it appears the only question is where to for the former five-star recruit, who is a Southern California native and was recruited by nearly everybody coming out of high school.