Skip to content

CFT Predicts: the Big Ten

Urban Meyer 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 Big Ten.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SEC, Pac-12

Leaders Division

1. Ohio State (Last year: 12-0)
What happened last season?
Urban Meyer‘s first year with the Buckeyes was flawless, at least as far as things go in the win-loss column. Though Ohio State had no postseason to look forward to thanks to NCAA sanctions, it went undefeated during the regular season. That’s propelled OSU to become one of the preseason favorites to appear in the final BCS championship.

So why are they ranked here?
The more appropriate question would be why wouldn’t the Buckeyes be ranked here? Meyer is easily one of the best in the game and quarterback Braxton Miller is now the betting favorite to win the Heisman. There are some concerns along the defensive front for this team, but it doesn’t have the appearance of something that will be an insurmountable problem.

Anything else?
The Game against Michigan can go either way, but there’s really only one spot I can potentially see Ohio State slipping. That would be an Oct. 5 game at Northwestern. The Wildcats enter 2013 with some hype (there’s something you don’t type everyday) after winning 10 games last year.

2. Wisconsin (Last year: 8-6; lost to Stanford in Rose Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Badgers can thank the NCAA for getting to the Big Ten title game as both Ohio State and Penn State watched from home. The Badgers struggled with offensive consistency throughout the year even though Montee Ball was among the leading rushers in the country. 

So why are they ranked here?
Gary Andersen takes over for the departed Bret Bielema. Though Ball is gone and the quarterback situation needs to be figured out, this is a veteran team with some recognizable names still around like running back James White and receiver Jared Abbrederis. The bigger concern lies on defense, which will be moving to more of a 3-4 this year.

Anything else?
The Badgers avoid Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska this season. It may not help Andersen win the Leaders Division in his first year, but it should help with a few more W’s. Also, QB Tanner McEvoy has started getting some looks at receiver and should help in that department.

3. Penn State (Last year: 8-4)
What happened last season?
Bill O’Brien took over what felt like an impossible situation and won eight games with the Nittany Lions. The crowning achievement of a season that surpassed many expectations was the development of quarterback Matt McGloin, who is now getting some buzz in the pros with the Oakland Raiders.

So why are they ranked here?
Penn State is a little bit of a wildcard this year. Christian Hackenberg and Tyler Ferguson are battling it out for the starting quarterback job, and this defense loses some key leaders from a year ago including linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges. What we’re banking on is some more O’Brien magic with a quarterback who was not on last year’s roster.

Anything else?
There are some young defenders that Penn State fans should be excited about. Defensive end Deion Barnes was the conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2012.

4. Purdue (Last year: 6-7; lost to Oklahoma State in Heart of Dallas Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Getting to the postseason wasn’t enough for Danny Hope, who was let go last November ["Hope-less" pun goes here] [hates self for it]. Alas, the mustache just wasn’t good enough.

So why are they ranked here?
Darrell Hazell was considered a good hire for the Boilermakers, but he has a lot of work ahead of him in 2013. Rob Henrya veteran guy, has been named the starting quarterback, but he last played meaningful snaps in 2010. The rest of the offense should feature a lot of newer faces, though there is talent there.

Anything else?
Things could get off to a rocky start for Hazell. Looking at the schedule, there are only a couple games the Boilermakers figure to have a chance to win. Things ease up at the end of the season, which could pave the way for some momentum heading into 2014.

5. Indiana (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Kevin Wilson got the Hoosiers to four wins. The offense showed consistent ability to score points and Indiana almost knocked off Ohio State in a shootout. 

So why are they ranked here?
It doesn’t appear offense is going to be a concern for IU, and Wilson has three capable quarterbacks from which to choose in Cameron Coffman, Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld. The defense returns many of its starters from a year ago. The problem is that unit finished among the worst in rushing defense and scoring defense last year. The Hoosiers can score with most, so if they can make some stops and force some turnovers they’ll be in a position for an outside shot at a bowl game.

Anything else?
Roberson didn’t have much of a chance to showcase his athletic potential after going down with a season-ending leg injury early in the year. He’s a valuable weapon though, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how Wilson utilizes him if he doesn’t regain the starting job.

6. Illinois (Last year: 2-10) 
What happened last season?
Tim Beckman‘s first year with Illinois went poorly as the Illini won just two games and had a few brutal losses to Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern.

So why are they ranked here?
There are a lot of players returning on offense, including quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, but this was also a group that barely scored more than two touchdowns a game last year. Beckman hopes that hiring former Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit as offensive coordinator will help in that department. Still, a brutal schedule from start to finish may be too much for the Illini to see any real improvement in the win-loss column.

Anything else?
Beckman took a veiled shot at former Illini coach Ron Zook earlier this summer by suggesting he left the cupboard bare when he was fired two seasons ago. Still, there’s already mounting pressure to win in Beckman’s second year.

Legends Division

1. Nebraska (Last year: 10-4; lost to Georgia in Capital One Bowl)
What happened last season?
Like every other year under Bo Pelini, Nebraska was good. But, like most years, the Cornhuskers couldn’t get over the conference championship hump. Instead, Wisconsin founds its mojo and hung a cool 70 points on the blackshirts on their way to Pasadena.

So why are they ranked here?
Good question. There’s been no indication so far that Nebraska can take the next step under Pelini and get to a BCS bowl. Yet, somehow, here I am giving them another chance because I can’t quit ‘em. The offense should be one of the best in the Big Ten with a core group of playmakers coming back, including Taylor Martinez, running back Ameer Abdullah, and receiver Kenny Bell. The defense will be young, but if it can just play well enough, Nebraska will be back in the Big Ten championship.

Anything else?
The Legends Division may not take form until November. Nebraska plays Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State in consecutive weeks.

2. Michigan (Last year: 8-5; lost to South Carolina in Outback Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Wolverines’ win total dipped and there were some cringeworthy losses to Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska. And, yes, to point it out again, Ohio State beat Michigan. Though Denard Robinson got hurt and finished the season as a running back, fans got a glimpse of what the Devin Gardner era may look like.

So why are they ranked here?
There are plenty of quality players for the Wolverines — Gardner, Fitz Toussaint, and Jeremy Gallon just to name a few. But depth is definitely a concern, especially at quarterback. Linebacker Jake Ryan is currently trying to make his way back from a knee injury and is projected to return around midseason.

Anything else?
Brady Hoke has yet to lose a home game in Ann Arbor, so conversely a majority of his seven losses have come on the road. And there will be some tough road games for the Wolverines: at Penn State and at Michigan State. Trips to Northwestern and Iowa could be tricky as well.

3. Michigan State (Last year: 7-6; beat TCU in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
What happened last season?
Sparty went 6-6 in the regular season, primarily because of the team’s inability to win close games.  Five of MSU’s six losses came in games decided by a touchdown or less.

So why are they ranked here?
While we certainly hope Mark Dantonio goes #B1G and plays four quarterbacks at the same time, Andrew Maxwell is likely the starter — for now, at least. The offense has some some good wide receivers returning, but tight end Dion Sims and running back Le’Veon Bell are gone. If it can’t find any sort of constancy, the defense will be relied upon once again to keep the Spartans in a position to win. That’s certainly possible, but Sparty’s O can’t be “Sparty No!” again and reasonably expect to win the division.

Anything else?
Like the other Legends Division favorites, November is an important month for the Sparans, who do not have to play Ohio State, Penn State or Wisconsin. If the offense can get going, this can be a dangerous team with one of the highest ceilings in the conference.

4. Northwestern (Last year: 10-3; beat Mississippi State in Gator Bowl) 
What happened last season?
As crazy as it may sound, Northwestern was three combined quarters away from being undefeated in the regular season. Still, 10-3 and a January Bowl win is always respectable. And it’s Northwestern. 

So why are they ranked here?
For the first time since the invention of the forward pass, the Wildcats have some legitimate preseason hype. That can only be attributed to what an incredible Job Pat Fitzgerald has done at not only building the program, but maintaining continuity among staff and players. Offensive line is a concern this year, but Kain Colter returns as the centerpiece of the Wildcats offense.

Anything else?
Northwestern gets Ohio State and Wisconsin in back-to-back weeks in October. As mentioned above, this is a team that could knock off the Buckeyes. The divisional schedule is difficult too and there’s some question as to whether Northwestern can take the next step as a program. This would be the year to do it though.

5. Iowa (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Kirk Ferentz suffered his first losing season since 2006 and the Hawkeyes dropped their last six in a row.

So why are they ranked here?
Scoring points has been difficult for Iowa recently and keeping a healthy running back has been even harder. Quarterback James Vandenberg is gone and there are questions at that position. Defense should be fine with a solid linebacker unit returning. The most important objective (besides win) is for offensive coordinator Greg Davis to get more out of this offense, which ranked among the worst scoring units in the country a year ago.

Anything else?
Kirk Ferentz has an enormous buyout, but another losing season — and Iowa’s schedule isn’t very forgiving — could have the program thinking harder about a change anyway.

6. Minnesota (Last year: 6-7; lost to Texas Tech in Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas) 
What happened last season?
Jerry Kill‘s team saw a three-game turnaround that got the Gophers back to a bowl game — and Minnesota almost won. But Texas Tech came from behind to beat UM in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

So why are they ranked this year?
The Gophers went through three quarterbacks last year and still won six games. The last one to starting time, sophomore Phillip Nelson, should take the field first for Minnesota this season. Chemistry in the passing game could be a question with A.J. Barker gone and Andre McDonald missing part of preseason camp due to suspension.

Anything else?
Getting back to a bowl isn’t out of the question for Minnesota, especially with a favorable out of conference schedule. Climbing up the Legends Division ladder is another story, but there are a few opportunities late in the year to steal a win at home from what will likely be a favored opponent when Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin come to Minneapolis.

————————————

John Taylor‘s prediction:

Leaders
1. Ohio State
2. Wisconsin
3. Penn State
4. Indiana
5. Purdue
6. Illinois

Legends
1. Michigan
2. Nebraska
3. Northwestern
4. Michigan State
5. Iowa
6. Minnesota

Ben’s Big Ten champ: Ohio State
John’s Big Ten champ: Ohio State 

Permalink 21 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Articles, Big Ten Conference, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Rumor Mill, Top Posts, Wisconsin Badgers
yo

Tom Rossley returns, hopes to fix SMU’s offensive woes

Tom Rossley

The ship may be sinking, and this could be akin to rearranging the deck chairs, but SMU is not going down without an effort to turn things around in the here and now.

Earlier this week SMU interim head coach Tom Mason announced that he has added Tim Davis to his Mustangs coaching staff, with Davis’ job being to help with a porous offensive line.  While this next move is not yet officially official, it’s also directed at helping an inept offense.

Pending school approval, Mason has decided to add Tom Rossley as an offensive consultant.  Despite the addition not being official, the 68-year-old Rossley is already working with the coaching staff — and already causing some extra homework for the Mustangs’ upcoming opponent.

I’m investigating Rossley a little bit,” Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, whose Aggies play the Mustangs Saturday, said according to the Dallas Morning News. “I know he’s been put on staff, so there’ll be some adjusting going on in the first quarter, no doubt about that. Who knows what we’re going to get; we’ve got no idea.”

Interestingly, Rossley’s last job was at Texas A&M as quarterbacks coach from 2008-11.

Rossley’s name should be a very familiar one to SMU fans, too. From 1991-96, Rossley served as the Mustangs’ head coach and compiled a record of 15-48-3.

He’s proficient in spread-style offense, which was a significant reason for the decision to bring him back.

Aside from the SMU and A&M years, a sizable chunk of Rossley’s recent coaching career came at the NFL level at the quarterbacks coach of the Atlanta Falcons (1990); wide receivers and tight ends for the Chicago Bears (1997-98); Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach (1999); and offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers (2000-05).

(Photo credit: SMU athletics)

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

USF expects to get one starter back as another remains sidelined

South Florida v Central Florida Getty Images

There’s good news and not-so-good news when it comes to a pair of USF offensive starters.

First, the good.  According to offensive coordinator Paul Wulff, offensive lineman Thor Jozwiak — could he have played any other position with that name? — will very likely play in the Bulls’ AAC opener Friday against UConn.  Jozwiak suffered an injury in the season opener and hasn’t played since.

He did, though, return to practice this week and would be a welcome addition to a unit that’s struggled mightily without him.

“He does bring some leadership and vocal qualities,” Wulff said according to the Tampa Tribune. “We don’t have a lot of that on the offensive line. We need more of those veteran players to step up that have been here. Thor can give us some of those attributes we’ve been missing there on the offensive front.”

Jozwiak started five games in 2012 and was in line to start the entire 2013 season before being sidelined for the year because of a heart condition.

On the not-so-bright personnel side, head coach Willie Taggart confirmed that star wide receiver Andre Davis will remain sidelined for the foreseeable future. Davis suffered a sternum injury in the opener, and it doesn’t seem like he’s close to returning to the playing field.

“It’s going to take some time to get him right,” Taggart said. “We want Andre to come back when he’s 100-percent healthy. That’s the only way he’s going to help our football team and he’s not 100 percent right now.”

Davis is 14 receptions and 162 yards away from becoming the school’s all-time leader in both categories, surpassing Hugh Smith (131, 1999-2002) and Carlton Mitchell (1,648, 2007-09).

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Report: starting Auburn DB suspended after verbal confrontation with coach

Arkansas v Auburn Getty Images

It appears No. 5 Auburn will go into its nationally-televised prime-time affair Thursday night without an experienced member of its secondary.

An AU official, Ryan Black of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer tweeted, confirmed that Jermaine Whitehead did not travel with his teammates to No. 20Kansas State earlier today.  Because of that, Whitehead will not play in the game against the Wildcats, al.com also confirmed.

While neither of those papers gave a reason for the decision, AuburnUndercover.com wrote that “[a]ccording to knowledgeable sources, Whitehead had a verbal confrontation with an Auburn assistant coach, resulting in his suspension.”

His future beyond Thursday’s game is unclear as well, the website reported.

The loss of Whitehead for even one game is a significant one.  He’s started the last 26 games at safety, and currently leads the Tigers in interceptions with two. One of those picks was returned for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Arkansas.

As for a replacement, al.com writes that while “freshman Stephen Roberts is listed as Whitehead’s backup on Auburn’s depth chart… it’s possible cornerback Josh Holsey could move to free safety after playing in the boundary last season.”

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

UofL QB Bonnafon mourning dad’s death, won’t be available Sat.

Miami v Louisville

The latest example of many things being more important than a game of football is Louisville’s Reggie Bonnafon.

The backup quarterback will not travel with his teammates for the Cardinals’ game against FIU Saturday because his father, Wallace Bonnafon, died unexpectedly Monday of heart failure.  The player didn’t practice Tuesday as he left the school to go home and be with his family.

“We won’t have Reggie this week,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “It’s a very tough situation for him and his family, something that caught him a little bit off guard.

“The plans are they’re going to have the showing on Friday and the funeral on Saturday, so he’s just going to focus on helping his mom and the rest of his family.”

Despite being listed as the No. 2 quarterback, Bonnafon has seen significant action this season. He’s thrown attempted 20 passes the past two games, throwing for 151 yards and a touchdown. In the UofL’s upset loss to Virginia Saturday, he briefly replaced benched starter Will Gardner.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Bonnafon and his family for their loss.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Jim Mora playing coy with Brett Hundley’s status for ASU game

UCLA v Texas Getty Images

UCLA already knows it won’t face Arizona State’s starting quarterback, Taylor Kelly, in a huge Pac-12 matchup a week from Thursday.  There are also question marks surrounding the Bruins’ starter at the position, but their head coach has decided to play things close to the vest for the time being.

Brett Hundley suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter of the Week 3 win over Texas and didn’t return.  The bye this weekend should certainly help Hundley’s availability for the ASU game as he rehabs what’s described as a slight hyper extension of his left (non-throwing) elbow.

“No,” the head coach said when asked about the the injury. “They work every day with the medical staff to get back out there as quick as they can and when they’re ready to go they put them back out there and they’re ready to go.

“So, that’s about it.”

If Hundley is unable to go against the Sun Devils, logic would suggest that Jerry Neuheisel would get the start.  After replacing injured starter, the son of former Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns, the second one a 33-yarder with three minutes left that proved to be the game-winner.  For that performance, Neuheisel was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

Mora, though, wouldn’t even commit to Neuheisel as the starter if Hundley is sidelined.

“Just because Jerry went in that game doesn’t mean that’s our backup quarterback,” said Mora after practice. “We’ve never determined who’s No. 2, 3, 4. We’ve got a whole bunch of guys. Next time someone has to go in, it could be Asiantii (Woulard). Heck, Asiantii might start the Arizona State game. Who knows?”

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

David Ash retires from football; UT loses DT to season-ending injury

David Ash, Jarrian Roberts AP

It was bad news all around on the personnel front for Texas Wednesday.

During a press conference this evening, head coach Charlie Strong revealed that quarterback David Ash has decided to retire from the game of football due to multiple concussions.  Ash suffered yet another head injury in the season opener against North Texas and hasn’t played since.

Strong stated that it was Ash who “actually came up to me and approached me” about retiring from the sport. The decision came after consultation with the UT medical staff, and it was likely the wisest course of action given Ash’s history.

In addition to the issue this year, he also missed most of last year due to a concussion suffered early on in the season.  After incurring the original injury Sept. 7, Ash returned two weeks later only to see the concussion symptoms recur and sideline him yet again.  In late November, Ash was officially shut down for what little was left of the season.  In mid-January, he was cleared by the UT medical staff to resume football activities.

In mid-April this year, Ash broke a bone in his left foot and missed the remainder of spring practice.

“‘There was no way we were going to let you back out on the field,'” Strong said he told Ash.

Tyrone Swoopes, who took over for Ash the past two games, will be the starter still moving forward. As Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman tweeted, “[i]t doesn’t appear they want to play freshman Jerrod Heard at all.” Heard was a prized member of Strong’s first Longhorn recruiting class, a four-star signee rated as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

In addition to the news on Ash, Strong also announced that defensive tackle Desmond Jackson will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.  Jackson, you may recall, was the player responsible for the coin toss kerfuffle prior to the UCLA loss this past Saturday.

 

Jackson started 13 games the past two-plus seasons at UT.

Permalink 5 Comments Back to top

D.J. Morgan leaves USC football, still has eyes on NFL

D.J. Morgan

The star-crossed and injury-plagued USC football career of D.J. Morgan has officially come to an end.

Tuesday, the running back-turned-defensive back as well as head coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed the player is no longer a part of the team.  Morgan will remain in school, however, as he wants to run track for the Trojans this spring.

“We’re wishing him the best of luck,” Sarkisian said.

Morgan also stated that he’s not retiring from the game of football, and that he still holds NFL aspirations.  Instead, he wants to give his body time to heal before pursuing that dream.

I realize I still have a lot left in me,” Morgan said of his football skills. “I haven’t played in a while and I just want to get my body back.”

Morgan was a four-star member of USC’s 2010 recruiting class, rated as the No. 3 all-purpose running back in the country and the No. 68 player at any position in the country. That recruiting résumé, however, never translated to much on-field success.

Thanks to injuries that cost him all of the 2013 season and half of 2012, he finishes his Trojan career with 364 yards rushing and a touchdown.

During summer camp, and in an effort to jump-start his career, Morgan was moved from the offensive backfield to the defensive secondary. The move came at Morgan’s request.

(Photo credit: USC athletics)

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

WR Joshua Stanford taking leave of absence from Hokies

Virginia Tech v Ohio State Getty Images

Virginia Tech’s experience and depth at the wide receiver position has taken at least a short-term hit.  Whether it will turn into a long-term issue remains to be seen.

Tuesday, Tech head coach Frank Beamer  announced that Joshua Stanford has been granted a leave of absence from the football team.  Other than to deal with a personal issue, no reason was given for the sabbatical.

It’s also not related to any type of school-mandated disciplinary action.

Stanford has started 13 of the Hokies’ 16 games the past two seasons, including two of three in 2014.  He was third on the team in 2013 with 40 catches for 640 yards.  This season he has just five catches for 35 yards, totals that rank seventh and eight, respectively.

As noted by Norm Wood of the Newport News Daily Press, “Stanford is the second Virginia Tech receiver to leave the team for a period of time this season due to personal reasons. Sophomore Carlis Parker was also absent from the team for the first two games, but he returned to practice last Tuesday.”

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Report: Ed Orgeron turned down Nicholls State job

Ed Orgeron

Earlier this month, out-of-work coach Ed Orgeron told 247Sports.com in an interview that while he “love[s] being at home with my kids, my wife and my family… it’s been special,” he also “can’t wait to get back to football.”

As it turns out, Orgeron had the opportunity to do just that recently — and passed.

Sunday, Charlie Stubbs stepped down as the head coach at 0-3 Nicholls State due to what was described as “major health reasons.” Steve Axman was subsequently named as the interim head coach for the remainder of the year, but he wasn’t the first choice of Rob Bernardi.

The Nicholls State athletic director confirmed to CoachingSearch.com that he had approached Orgeron about taking over the job for the remainder of the season. Citing a “commitment he made to his wife and family for this season,” Pete Roussel wrote, Orgeron declined.

Orgeron lives in Mandeville, La., a short distance from the Nicholls State campus.

In September of last year, Orgeron took over as USC’s interim head coach after Lane Kiffin was fired. Orgeron — and others — openly pursued the permanent job that ultimately went to Steve Sarkisian, and, even as the new coach wanted him, eventually decided to part ways with the Trojans when he didn’t get the job even as.

Orgeron was also the head coach at Ole Miss, and will likely be looking for a job at the FBS level once the spinning of the 2014 Coaching Carousel commences.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

With appeal denied by NCAA, Michigan RB Ty Isaac will sit out 2014

Ty Isaac

The chance for transfer running back Ty Isaac to see the field was already slim after the running back’s initial request for a medical hardship waiver was denied back in August, but that chance has slipped down to none after his appeal was denied by the NCAA this week.

Head coach Brady Hoke confirmed the news on Wednesday.

“He’s handled it great,” Hoke told the Detroit Free-Press. “He’s our scout running back, one of the two guys who fill that role and he had a great day yesterday. From an attitude standpoint and everything, he’s been awesome.”

Isaac originally enrolled at USC and rushed for 236 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries as a freshman in 2013. He moved closer to his home near the Chicagoland area after his mother underwent hearing loss surgery.

Without Issac, Michigan ranks 30th nationally in rushing at 242 yards per game in this young season, and averages a 14th-best 6.26 yards per carry. Derrick Green leads the club with 50 carries for 332 yards and three touchdowns, and fellow sophomore De’Veon Smith has added 24 attempts for 189 yards and two additional scores. With the addition of Isaac, Michigan should have a formidable stable of runners for the next couple years.

Isaac will have three years of eligibility remaining when his career resumes in 2015.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Alright, now how does Jameis Winston’s half-suspension affect the gambling line?

Jameis Winston

We’ve covered how Jameis Winston’s have-fun-explaining-this-one-to-your-grandmother half-game suspension affects Saturday night’s tilt between No. 1 Florida State and No. 22 Clemson on the field, and how it alters his chase for a second Heisman Trophy. Now it’s time for the important stuff: how does this affect the line?

According to TomahawkNation.com proprietor/SB Nation gambling expert Bud Elliott: not that much. The defending champion ‘Noles are still favorites, just not quite as heavy as before.

After hovering around three touchdowns before Wednesday morning’s news, Florida State is a consensus 16.5 or 17-point favorite. With an over/under at 60.5 points, Las Vegas expects a Florida State win hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of 38-21.

Oddly enough, this game has a very recent doppleganger. A year ago, the reigning Heisman winner was suspended for one half, and replaced by a little-used back-up. Back then, Matt Joeckel completed 14-of-19 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown in leading No. 7 Texas A&M to a 28-21 halftime lead over visiting and future Conference USA champion Rice. Johnny Manziel came on in relief, threw for 94 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another 19 yards, leading the Aggies to a 52-31 win. The spread was 28. Make of that what you will.

Florida State has beaten Clemson in two straight games, rallying from a 31-21 third quarter deficit to score four unanswered touchdowns in route to a 49-37 win on Sept. 22, 2012, and absolutely ripping the Tigers for a 51-14 final on Oct. 19, 2013. Both times, Clemson was undefeated and ranked in the top 10 nationally. This time around, Clemson is hanging on to its Top 25 status after falling 45-21 to then-No. 12 Georgia on Aug. 30.

While Brent Venables and the Clemson defense figure to throw the book (and everything else they can grab) at backup-turned-emergency-starter Sean Maguire and his 26 career passes, the Florida State defense is still intact and facing the nation’s No. 66 rated passer, Cole Stoudt (and freshman phenom Deshaun Watson, whenever Dabo Swinney and Chad Morris decide to play him.)

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

Kevin Sumlin confirms WR Speedy Noil will miss SMU game

Speedy Noil, Carl Harris

With reports stating wide receiver Speedy Noil would miss 3-5 weeks with an MCL sprain, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin responded with the temperament you would great a cockroach in your cereal bowl.

Simply put, Sumlin despises divulging any information he does not absolutely have to with the press, so A&M scribes should consider themselves thankful that Noil would miss the Aggies’ trip to SMU on Saturday.

“He won’t play this weekend,” Sumlin said. And, about that 3-5 week prognosis, Coach? What’s his status for next week’s date with Arkansas?

“I’ll update you next week.”

Well, okay then. By simply ignoring an issue he clearly finds annoying in hopes that it goes away, Sumlin simply prolongs his agony. Maybe he secretly enjoys getting in passive-aggressive tussles with the press.

For this week at least, Texas A&M should be fine without Noil. Though the freshman has snagged 12 passes for 197 yards and stands as the Aggies’ leading punt returner, No. 6 Texas A&M would be fine against SMU even with Speedy’s less-gifted cousin at wideout, Moderately Sluggish Noil.

SMU has been outscored 88-6 this season and still hasn’t scored with time remaining on the clock, notching its only score in a 43-6 beatdown at North Texas on a 33-yard heave as time expired. The Aggies are listed as 33-point favorites in most books.

Texas A&M is expected to start sophomore Edward Pope, a Rivals 250 prospect in his own right, in Noil’s place.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

WVU CB Worley charged with battery following altercation with female

West Virginia v Kansas Getty Images

Just days after word broke West Virginia had suspended starting defensive back Daryl Worley for a violation of team rules, a warrant for his arrest has been issued by Morgantown police.

As reported by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a warrant was issued Wednesday afternoon. Worley has been charged with battery as a result of an altercation with a female outside a nightclub early Sunday morning. As the sports world is constantly reacting to various headlines regarding physical abuse of women by football players, West Virginia suspending Worley was an easy decision to make while the legal process plays out. As reported, citing information from police reports, Worley allegedly put his hands around the neck of a woman and pushed her down. There is no report on any serious injuries, but the incident as described is certainly not a good luck.

West Virginia is set to host Oklahoma this weekend. The loss of Worley is a hit to the Mountaineers on defense, but this issue is clearly more important than football.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

Former TCE DE Fields plans on FBS return before NFL

Devonte Fields, Wes Lunt

If you think Devonte Fields is going to play football this fall at a junior college and get set to enter the NFL Draft in 2015, that may not quite be the plan. The former TCU defensive star is currently playing his college football at Trinity Valley Community College but his plan appears to be going through the recruiting process with the intent of playing at least one more season at the FBS level before taking a chance at the NFL Draft.

“Everything he has said to me and everything his family has said to me is the plan is for him to get his (Associate’s Degree) and to play Division I again,” Trinity Valley CC head coach Brad Smiley said to The Dallas Morning News this week. “He is excited about going through that process and playing Division I again. He has not said anything about coming out to play in the NFL.”Brad Smiley said to said to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram this week. “He is excited about going through that process and playing Division I again. He has not said anything about coming out to play in the NFL. He is excited about going through that process and playing Division I again. He has not said anything about coming out to play in the NFL.”

Fields was forced to relocate to the junior college level this fall after a promising career at TCU spiraled out of control. The former defensive freshman of the year in the Big 12 was involved in an incident reportedly involving pointing a gun and making a threat to an ex-girlfriend. That led to an investigation over the summer and TCU removed Fields from the football program. Fields later surrendered after a warrant for his arrest had been issued and it looked as though Fields would drop down to the FCS to play at Stephen F. Austin. TCU blocked the transfer and then officially separated from any association with Fields.

As noted by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fields currently has 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one tackle for a loss through the first three games of the season. This comes with double team coverage routinely as Fields is a superstar on the junior college playing field.

“Everybody he sees knows who he is,” Smiley said. “He is their Super Bowl.”

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

The long countdown to Michigan-Texas is officially on

91st Rose Bowl Game: Texas Longhorns v Michigan Wolverines Getty Images

Get ready to make your plans well in advance, Michigan and Texas fans. The Wolverines and Longhorns have made official a home-and-home series that had been in the works.

As confirmed today, Michigan will host Texas in Michigan Stadium on August 31, 2024. Texas will host the Wolverines three years later on September 4, 2027. Plan accordingly.

“A match-up of this magnitude doesn’t come along all that often, and when it does it’s special for both programs and the great fans that support each institution,” said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said in a released statement about the series. “This also is a special series for all fans of college football, and I anticipate great games just like the first contest played between the two programs.”

These two legendary programs may be playing through some hard times right now, but in 10 years Michigan and Texas could be a huge match-up, as it should. Unless the two collide in a postseason game in the next 10 years, the series will mark just the second and third times Michigan and Texas have met on the playing field. The only other meeting in the series history took place in the 2005 Rose Bowl, with Texas taking a 38-37 victory.

Who knows what the college football postseason will look like a decade and 13 years from now, but under the current format for the College Football Playoff it would seem Michigan and Texas are making an effort to increase the attractiveness of the non-conference schedule. Texas is already playing a nine-game conference schedule and by then Michigan will be fully engrained in a nine-game Big Ten schedule. As it is currently set-up, Michigan will play either Texas or Oklahoma annually between 2024 and 2027 with a home-and-home series with the Sooners sandwiched between the Texas games. Texas will be coming off a home-and-home with Michigan’s rival, Ohio State, as the Longhorns head into the series with the Wolverines. Texas and Ohio State have a home-and-home series set for 2022 and 2023.

As of now, Texas has no non-conference games scheduled for 2025 or 2026. Perhaps another Big Ten school could fill that void. If so, how about Nebraska? It would be nice, but unlikely. Nebraska is already locked into a home-and-home those seasons with Tennessee. Wisconsin? Penn State? Both are available if Texas is interested.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top