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CFT Predicts: the ACC

ACC Championship - Virginia Tech v Clemson Getty Images

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 ACC.  

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

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Tigers shook their ‘Clemsoning’ curse and previous Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia by going 11-2 and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
Offense, offense, offense. And some offense sprinkled in. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a legitimate Heisman candidate and he’ll have Sammy Watkins to throw to for a third straight year. Watkins had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012 — at least by his standards — because of a variety of issues, from a suspension to injuries, but he still finished second on the team in receiving yards. His touchdown production should rise again after getting in the end zone just four times.

Anything else?
The defense improved under first-year coordinator Brent Venables. With as good as the Tigers offense projects to be, there’s more wiggle room on that side of the ball. Also, can Clemson finally beat South Carolina after dropping four straight games?

2. Florida State (Last year: 12-2; beat NIU in Orange Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The ‘Noles won the ACC and beat NIU in the Orange Bowl. They also pulled their annual head-scratcher by losing to North Carolina State. The circle never ends, it seems.

So why are they ranked here?
Talent isn’t a question Tallahassee, but there are a lot of new faces. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has a ton of upside at the quarterback spot, it just remains to be seen at this point how he handles his first year as starter. Wide receiver depth is becoming an issue too. The defensive line loses two pass rushers in Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, but that’s an area stacked — almost unfairly — with capable players.

Anything else?
Florida State had a whopping 11 NFL draft picks in April, but Jimbo Fisher also had to replace roughly half his coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover and it’ll be interesting to see how players and coaches jell this year.

3. Maryland (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Randy Edsall doubled his win total in year two with the Terps, but a linebacker was starting at quarterback by the end of the year because of injuries. Apparently, being a quarterback at Maryland can be equated to playing drums for Spinal Tap.

So why are they ranked here?
The quarterbacks are finally back with working knees and there is some talent on that side of the ball, namely wide receiver Sefon Diggs. Another running back will have to step up with Wes Brown being suspended for the year, though the running game in general needs to improve. The Terps also have to replace a sizable portion of their starting defensive front seven. Several of Maryland’s toughest games (Florida State, Virginia Tech) are on the road too.

Anything else?
It feels like wide receiver Deon Long has led the life of a traveled NFL veteran more than a college player, but he finally at Maryland. He was suspended this spring, but he should be a good addition to the passing game. He has the physical tools to make an impact, so he could be a player to watch.

4. Wake Forest (Last year: 5-7) 
What happened last season?
It was a tough season in hindsight for the Deacs when you consider they lost two games by an average of six points (against Maryland, Duke) that could have propelled them back into the postseason.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s some potential for this team, which returns a good portion of its starting 22 from a year ago. Tanner Price is a veteran quarterback and leading running back Josh Harris will be eligible to play in 2013. The problem is Wake Forest couldn’t find the end zone last year and were shut out twice. The defense wasn’t much better, but it does return eight guys from 2012.

Anything else?
There are plenty of manageable games on Wake’s schedule this year, including in the non-conference department. Getting back to a bowl is a realistic goal.

5. North Carolina State (Last year: 7-6; lost to Vanderbilt in Music City Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Though NC State hadn’t had a losing season since 2009, and despite upsetting Florida State, Tom O’Brien couldn’t keep his job. He’s replaced by former NIU coach Dave Doeren.

So why are they ranked here?
Turnover is rarely easy, and there’s a lot of it for the Wolfpack in 2013. In addition to a new coaching staff, this team loses quarterback Mike Glennon and, even though he had some disappointing moments in 2012, cornerback David Amerson. There’s plenty to be excited about with Doeren, but his first year could be rough.

Anything else?
If there’s one area of improvement to look for right away, it would be the ground game. NC State was among the worst rushing teams a year ago while NIU ranked 12th in the nation in that category. The offense does return its top two leading rushers from a year ago in Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy.

6. Syracuse (Last year: 8-5; beat West Virginia in Pinstripe Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Orange got off to a bit of a bumpy start, but won six of their final seven games in 2012. Two of those wins came in convincing fashion against Louisville and West Virginia.

So why are they ranked here?
The ‘Cuse lose coach Doug Marrone to the NFL and in comes Scott Shafer. The Orange are also entering a new conference with some key departures, including quarterback Ryan Nassib, wide receiver Alec Lemon and defensive back Shamarko Thomas — all leaders in their respective positions.

Anything else?
If there is one person to watch, it’s Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. Though Shafer doesn’t plan on announcing a QB until the last possible moment, Allen is believed to be in a position to win the starting job. He played sparingly for the Sooners, but could be a key member of the offense for the Orange.

7. Boston College (Last year: 2-10)
What happened last season?
The Eagles won two games and Frank Spaziani got the long-awaited boot.

So why are they ranked here?
Former Temple coach Steve Addazio takes over and has, by all accounts, injected some energy into a program that desperately needs some. Whether that energy will turn into wins remains to be seen. This was an offense that couldn’t run the ball or score a year ago, but the passing duo of quarterback Chase Rettig and wide receiver Alex Amidon do give experience and play making ability to the passing game.

Anything else?
The front part of BC’s schedule is brutal, but there’s some room for the Eagles to make some noise toward the end of the year and build some momentum heading into 2014. The final two games against Maryland and Syracuse are on the road, but those aren’t impossible games to win.

Coastal Division

1. Miami (Last year: 7-5)
What happened last season?
The Hurricanes actually won a share of the Coastal Division, but they also self-imposed a postseason ban for the second straight year because of the ongoing NCAA investigation of the program.

So why are they ranked here?
Miami figures to have one of the more potent offenses in the entire conference thanks to the return of quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnsonwith the latter considered to be among the most exciting players to watch in the game. It’s the defense that has all the question marks for the ‘Canes. This was a team that was simply pushed around up front and gave up at least 40 points four times last year.

Anything else?
Give Al Golden credit. He’s identified the weakness on defense (not that it was too difficult) and recruited some immediate help. David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow join the team from Wisconsin and Virginia, respectively, and add an immediate boost along the defensive line.

2. North Carolina (Last year: 8-4)
What happened last season?
Like Miami, North Carolina had to watch the postseason from home thanks to a postseason ban. Unlike the Hurricanes, this was NCAA-mandated. Still the Tar Heels won eight games under first-year coach Larry Fedora.

So why are they ranked here?
There are two major departures from last year’s team: running back Giovani Bernard and offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper. Bernard received a bulk of the carries in the run game and had over 1,200 yards. So whether it’s one player — perhaps A.J. Blue – or a committee, that production will have to be replaced. But there are plenty of other playmakers on offense, including veteran QB Bryn Renner. Defense returns its entire secondary and should be an overall improved unit that fared well enough in Year 1 under Fedora.

Anything else?
UNC’s key stretch comes in the middle of the season. It starts with a road game at divisional opponent Georgia Tech and ends with another road game at North Carolina State. Get through that and a bulk of the Coastal Divsion contenders should be behind them by that point.

3. Virginia Tech (Last year: 7-6; beat Rutgers in Russell Athletic Bowl) 
What happened last season?
2012 was a disappointment by Virginia Tech’s standards. The Hokies needed overtime three times to pull out wins and there were some tough losses to Pitt and Cincinnati mixed in.

So why are they ranked here?
Primarily because health and depth are already concerns for Virginia Tech before a single regular season snap has been taken. Star cornerback Antone Exum will miss the season opener against Alabama and perhaps longer. The knee injury he sustained early this year was serious and there are few guarantees when it comes to a timeline for return. There’s been some attrition on both sides of the ball with various injuries and departures. If this team can get healthy as the season goes on, maybe it can make a run for the divisional title late in the season.

Anything else?
Scot Loeffler takes over as offensive coordinator. Quarterback Logan Thomas was, to say the least, inconsistent last year with just over a 50 percent completion rate and 18 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He’s shown at times he can make tremendous throws, but he needs to be able to do it without a handful of bad throws and decisions in between. With Loeffler calling the plays, Thomas doesn’t need to throw for 4,000 yards — he just needs to play smarter.

4. Georgia Tech (Last year: 7-7; beat USC in the Sun Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Yellow Jackets backed their way into the ACC championship game, but embarrassed USC in the Sun Bowl. So, yeah. Georgia Tech came out ahead on that one.

So why are they ranked here?
Some key pieces of GT’s triple option are leaving, including Tevin Washington and Orwin Smith. But, Vad Lee moves in to take control of the offense, and he already saw plenty of game action last year. The defense ended up playing much better down the stretch last year after Al Groh was fired, so there’s definitely room to continue growing on that side of the ball.

Anything else?
Despite being a run-heavy offense, Georgia Tech has been known to have one big, physical receiver under Paul Johnson. Jeff Greene looked to be that guy until he left for Ohio State. Who will step up for the Yellow Jackets in that spot in 2013?

5. Pitt (Last year: 6-7; lost to Ole Miss in BBVA Compass Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Pitt got off to a tough start in Year 1 under Paul Chryst by losing to Youngstown State to start the season, but rebounded quickly by beating Virginia Tech in Week 3. The Panthers actually won and lost games in alternating pairs the entire way through the year before falling to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
After 14 years, 10 head coaches and 500 sacks, the Tino Sunseri era is finally over. Tom Savage, the former Rutgers quarterback who is also a veteran of the college game, enters 2013 as the starter. But there are a lot of concerns on offense, namely the running game. Ray Graham is gone and Rushel Shell, the running back figured to take bulk of the carries going forward, has moved on to West Virginia. Defense should be the strength of the team with defensive tackle Aaron Donald coming back along with a solid secondary that has safety Jason Hendricks, who led the team in tackles a year ago.

Anything else?
Pitt has the opportunity to make a huge first impression in the ACC if it can beat Florida State at home in Week 1. There are some tough games for the Panthers this season, including a road trip to Virginia Tech, and the Panthers are an unknown heading into ACC play.

6. Duke (Last year: 6-7; lost to Cincinnati in Belk Bowl)
What happened last season?
Duke became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 under coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils ultimately lost a close game to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, but there was a lot to be happy with in 2012.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s little concern on offense. Even though quarterback Sean Renfree is gone, there’s a lot of buzz on Anthony Boone. Boone is a mobile guy who gives Cutcliffe another dimension to add to the offensive attack. If the ground game can improve, this is a team that could be tough to stop. Defense is a concern as it ranked among the worst in the country a year ago. The Blue Devils will probably find themselves in more than a couple shootouts this fall.

Anything else?
No matter where Duke finishes in the ACC this season, there’s something to be said for what Cutcliffe is building there. He’s had other opportunities to leave, and he’s chosen to stay. He’s one of the most well-regarded X’s and O’s coaches in the game and the Blue Devils should be in a position at the end of the year to possibly make it to a second straight bowl game.

7. Virginia (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Virginia got an early season win against Penn State when the Nittany Lions were struggling, and a late-season win over Miami. In between was when things were rough.

So why are they ranked here?
Mike London went with a coaching overhaul that brings in former North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien and Jon Tenuta as defensive coordinator. Defense should be the greater strength for UVA this year with a seasoned secondary. It’s the offense that needs work. Two quarterbacks from 2012 — Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco — are gone, so this is a team that will probably have to rely on its run game.

Anything else?
It’ll be interesting to see if Virginia can make strides with a restructured coaching staff, but wins could still be hard to come by with a tough schedule. BYU, Oregon and even Ball State make up a difficult non-conference slate, and the last four games against Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech is a rough way to end the year.

———————————————

John Taylor’s Prediction:

ATLANTIC
1. Clemson
2. Florida State
3. North Carolina State
4. Wake Forest
5. Maryland
6. Syracuse
7. Boston College

COASTAL
1. Miami
2. North Carolina
3. Georgia Tech
4. Virginia Tech
5. Pittsburgh
6. Virginia
7. Duke

Ben’s ACC champ: Clemson
John’s ACC champ: Clemson

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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.

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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)

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Jameis Winston suspension may cost 2013 winner a shot at history

Jameis Winston

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is looking to make some college football history this season. Not only is he looking to lead Florida State to back-to-back national championships, but he is also the latest player to have a chance to win the Heisman Trophy in back-to-back seasons. That accomplishment has only been done once, and in light of Wednesday’s news about serving a suspension for the first half of this weekend’s game against Clemson, it looks like legendary Ohio State running back Archie Griffin will remain sitting at a table for one in New York City.

Winston may still be the best player in college football, but the Heisman Trust Mission Statement is held in high regard by some of the voters. Winston’s actions off the field carry more weight for some voters than others, but his recent outburst of vulgarity on campus may be enough for some voters to wipe Winston off their ballots starting today. Perhaps some voters were waiting for a reason to eliminate him from the conversation. That remains to be seen.

Winston was already fighting history enough as it is for a defending Heisman Trophy winner. With just one repeat Heisman winner in the history of college football’s highest individual honor, the odds may have been stacked against Winston from the start. A handful of other worthy contenders have also emerged in the early going of the season, like Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Georgia running back Todd GurleyAlabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall. And do not forget about Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill.

Winston winning a second straight Heisman Trophy may not be impossible, but the road to travel just became filled with additional potholes and was covered in ice. If Winston continues to win and make incredible plays, as he did in the opener against Oklahoma State, and other candidates take a hit or two along the way (two losses did in Mariota last season, for example), then Winston will remain in the hunt as a leading contender. Until then, at least Winston will be able to vote for himself.

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Jameis Winston’s suspension won’t cost Florida State a win vs. Clemson

Jameis Winston, Josh Furman

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for the first half of this weekend’s contest with Clemson. For the Seminoles to suspend their starting quarterback for the entire first half of a key division game against a top 25 team should send a message to Winston and anyone else watching that the bar is supposedly being set high for Florida State’s student-athletes. So, is one half enough of a message?

Considering the circumstances revolving around the reasoning for this suspension, it would seem appropriate enough. Winston was not in violation of any laws and he did not harm anybody in the process from the information reported at this point. He did, however, not act accordingly as a student-athlete, represent the football program or university in an expected manner and that is reason enough to issue some sort of punishment. Missing the first half of a game should be enough to deliver that message to any player on the football roster, even he just so happens to be one of the best

Critics are running wild suggesting Winston needs to grow up (and yes, he does), so hopefully this is the final straw for Winston and the off-field shenanigans. The time to know what is right and what is wrong or inappropriate in a public setting is now for Winston.

As for the game, Winston’s absence for one half should have an impact. Will it be enough for Clemson to take advantage and steal a win while they can? It is not as though Florida State is shallow on talent around the field. Redshirt sophomore Sean Maguire should be capable of handling things for one half even against Clemson, and it is not as though Jimbo Fisher will put Maguire in any position he feels uncomfortable with if it means risking the game. Florida State has too much to play for to put Maguire in a situation to blow it for one half before Winston takes the field at the start of the third quarter. It is not so much a suggestion Fisher will avoid trying anything pivotal with Maguire under center, but knowing Winston will be available in the second half means the urgency to force something with the back-up quarterback should never pop up even if things look bad.

Florida State can more than weather a storm for one half of football, even against Clemson. Now Winston just needs to show he can avoid creating a storm in the future.

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UPDATED: Florida State suspends Winston for first half vs. Clemson

Jimbo Fisher Jameis Winston

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston may be disciplined by Florida State for his behavior reported Tuesday, although the extent of any punishment to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is unknown. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said during the weekly conference call the school was considering some sort of punishment for Winston.

“It was not a good decision,” Fisher said, per USA Today. “You can’t make certain statements that are derogatory or inflammatory to any person, race or gender. You have to understand that.”

On Tuesday it was reported Winston had jumped on a table on campus and shouted out a sexually-explicit phrase in what by all accounts to date suggest was nothing more than a joke. Winston’s outburst mimicked an Internet meme and was not directed at any particular individual, but it was just the latest reason to roll your eyes at the actions of Winston over the past year. Fisher probably did just that upon learning about this specific incident.

“You have to be very intelligent about what you say, (because) it matters,” Fisher said.

Florida State takes on Clemson this weekend in a key ACC Atlantic Division match-up.

UPDATE: Winston has been suspended for the first half of this weekend’s game against Clemson.

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Alabama’s Amari Cooper in the spotlight this weekend vs. Gators

Amari Cooper, Quentin Hayes

The last time a wide receiver won the Heisman Trophy was 1991, with Michigan’s Desmond Howard striking his Heisman pose (inaccurately, mind you) three years before the TV series “Friends” hit the airwaves. Yeah, it was a long time ago. The Heisman Trophy may still be a quarterback’s to lose but Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is starting to receive some consideration as a candidate.

Cooper is third in the nation in receiving yards through the first three weeks of the season with 454 yards and he leads the nation with 11.0 receptions per game. The Florida recruit in the Class of 2012 will get a chance to show the Florida Gators what they missed out on. According to the offer sheet for Cooper reported by Rivals.com, the Gators did not extend an offer to the in-state four-star recruit. That is a shame, because if there is one thing the Gators could use it is a game-changing receiver. This weekend Florida heads to Alabama for a crossover SEC match-up, and Cooper should be ready to make a statement.

Is Cooper the best wide receiver in the country? He may be. What he does in one of this weekend’s spotlight games will tell us whether or not he will continue to be a player worth considering for the Heisman Trophy. Here is a look at a few of the spotlight games around college football this weekend.

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Rutgers QB Nova now all-time leader in 5 interception games

Gary Nova, Anthony Zettel

Rutgers gave Penn State a good fight on Saturday night in its first Big Ten conference game. If not for a five-interception night from quarterback Gary Nova, Rutgers may very well have been celebrating its first Big Ten conference victory as well, instead of looking to rebound from a 13-10 loss to the Nittany Lions. Nova’s awful stat line Saturday night put him in a league of his own, sort of.

Nova was intercepted five times in a game for the second time in his career. Since 2000, according to the play index on College Football Reference, six different quarterbacks have been intercepted five times in a single game. Nova is the only player appearing on the list twice.

Nova was intercepted six times by Kent State in a 2012 loss. That is tied for the most single-game interceptions since 2000 with Travis Wilson of Utah. Wilson was picked off six times by UCLA in a 44-22 loss last October. The other quarterbacks to throw five interceptions in a game since 2000 are Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty (2013, vs. Tennessee), SMU’s Garrett Gilbert (2012, vs TCU), Houston’s David Piland (2012, vs. UCLA) and Mississippi’s Zack Stoudt (2011, vs. Vanderbilt). (EDIT: As reminded on Twitter, Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin was intercepted five times in a bowl game against Florida. Because that game was not vacated by the NCAA, that should count as well.)

Nova’s five interceptions is misleading though. The fifth interception came in the final minute of the game with Rutgers in desperation mode. Two other interceptions may fairly be accredited to the shortcomings of Nova’s intended targets failing to bring in a pass. Nova will receive the bulk of the blame, a responsibility that comes with the territory of being a starting quarterback. There is no indication head coach Kyle Flood is ready to make a change under center though.

Helmet sticker to Reddit for the find.

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