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The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

And, yes I’m well aware of the fact that there are still games left to be played. Sorry, fans of Louisville, Florida State, et al…

WINNERS

Tajh throws Braxton a stiff-arm
Braxton Miller may have entered the season as the favorite to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy, but Tajh Boyd showed he will likely be a (big) part of the discussion all the way into December. In Clemson’s impressive 38-35 win over Georgia Saturday night, Boyd accounted for all five of the Tigers’ touchdown — three passing, two rushing. On a team level, it was one of the biggest wins of Dabo Swinney‘s tenure. On a personal level, it was Boyd shining on a national stage against a very, very, very good football team in the Bulldogs and a coming-out party for a player who, at least as far as this corner is concerned, doesn’t get the respect he deserves. After that virtuoso performance, there’s no longer an excuse for any lack of respect.

Moneybadger don’t give a %$#! either
All hail the new troll god!!! Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel makes college football a better — and immensely more interesting — game when he’s part of it. While he wasn’t a part of it in the first-half thanks to a suspension, he returned in the second half of Texas A&M’s win over Rice, and not once but twice trolled the NCAA overlords over his recent off-field “issues.” In the first instance, Manziel seemed to indicate a Rice defender would not be getting the reigning Heisman winner’s Herbie Hancock anytime soon…

Manziel Signing GIF

 

… then seemed to make a money gesture to the sky following his first touchdown pass of the season…

Manziel Money GIF

 

Manziel, of course, was investigated by the NCAA after it was alleged that he was paid tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for his signature on photos, memorabilia, etc.

Don’t change, JFF. Don’t ever change. Well, mostly don’t change (see a little further below).

No Bret, no problem
There were some people — myself included — who felt that Wisconsin wouldn’t be the old Wisconsin we’ve become accustomed to in the first year of the post-Bret Bielema era in Madison. While that may or may not ultimately be the case, the Badgers put on one helluva ground show in the first game of the Gary Andersen era. UW had a trio of running backs — James White (11-143), Melvin Gordon (13-144), Corey Clement (16-101) — who each rushed for more than 100 yards, just the third time in school history that’s happened. Clement, incidentally, became the first true freshman at UW since P.J. Hill in 2006 to top 100 yards in his first game as a Badger. Yes, the opposition was “just” UMass, but Andersen and his Badgers showed that anyone who sleeps on UW does so at their own peril.

Butch JonesThank you, Lord
How thankful is the Tennessee fan base that Derek Dooley is no longer their head football coach? So thankful that they are offering up hallelujahs to the Big College Football Fan Upstairs for it. Literally. “Pregame prayer in Neyland [Stadium] thanked God for a new coach,” a tweet from govols247.com‘s Wes Rucker read. Butch Jones then proceeded to reward that faith as the Vols pounded overmatched Austin Peay 45-0. Yes, it was just a win over an FCS school, but it was also the Vols’ largest margin of victory since a 50-0 win over Tennessee-Martin in 2010 — the first game under Dooley, so maybe that’s not as good of omen upon further review. Still, it was a much-needed win for the fans on Rocky Top, one they will gladly take after three years of misery.

Right in his Scheelhaase
Normally when Illinois is mentioned in the Fifth Quarter, it’s part of the section right below this one. Not today, though. All Illini starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase did was throw for a career-high 416 yards — 340 in the first half — and two touchdowns in the 42-34 win over Southern Illinois. The win was satisfying for Scheelhaase personally as the quarterback has fought back from an injury-plagued 2012 season. It was also a critical one for the program. Even as the win was over an FCS opponent, it was a critical one as second-year head coach Tim Beckman has come under fire for a two-win 2012 season, with some saying this is a make-or-break season for the coach.

All hail your FCS conquerors

Scheduled as a guaranteed “W” in exchange for high six-figure or even low seven-figure payouts, most FBS teams feast on a steady early-season diet of FCS foes. Not in Week One, not this year. All told, a whopping eight FBS teams went down in flames over the past three days: No. 25 Oregon State (Eastern Washington), Kansas State (North Dakota State), San Diego State (Eastern Illinois; UConn (Towson), USF (McNeese State), Iowa State (Northern Iowa), South Alabama (Southern Utah) and Georgia State (Samford). We’ll let the latter two slide somewhat as they have just climbed from the FCS level to FBS status recently. The others? There’s no excuse for USF to lose by 32 points or San Diego State by 21. There’s no reason a ranked team like Oregon State should lose to a lower-level team, regardless of how good they are at that level. K-State? C’mon, I understand that NDSU is an FBS slayer, but there should still be no excuses in Little Manhattan. That said, and as was shown this weekend, there are some quality programs at that level. Schedule some of the upper-echelon teams at your own peril. And potential embarrassment.

Villanova, the Harlem Globetrotters of the FCS level
Villanova may not have been one of the FCS teams to pull off an upset, but they did have one of the plays of the year thus far. Facing a fourth down in their game against Boston College, ‘Nova lined up in punt formation… and proceeded to perform the ol’ double-snap fake-punt trick to score a touchdown. And, yes, it was as real and as spectacular as it sounds:

Villanova

 

49ers strike winning gold quickly
Since we’re on an FCS roll, let’s turn our attention to the Eastern part of the United States. In 2008, UNC-Charlotte announced that it would, for the first time ever, field a football team. Five years later, the 49ers made their debut… and it was smashing, with the 49ers putting a 52-7 woodshedding on visiting Campbell. The 49ers nearly doubled the opposition’s offensive production — 488 to 287 — and rolled to a 35-7 halftime lead. While an FCS team at the moment, the 49ers will move to the FBS level in 2015 as a member of Conference USA. While there may be many bumps in the road ahead, congratulations to head coach Brad Lambert and his coaching staff on such a scintillating start to the program.

LOSERS

Johnny Screwball?
As much as I really, really enjoy Johnny Manziel, the on-field preening and self-aggrandizing that costs his team needs to stop. And that comes from his head coach as well. In addition to his creative ways of taunting the NCAA noted above, Manziel was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following his third touchdown pass of the second half, costing the Aggies 15 yards. He was removed from the game and didn’t return. “That was just a foolish penalty at the end. … I hoped that at this point he’d have learned something,” Kevin Sumlin said afterwards. “That wasn’t very smart. That’s why he wasn’t going back in the game, no matter what happened.” A&M declined to make Manziel available to the media following the win, likely a wise decision based on the fact that Manziel appeared to take out a whole offseason of frustration in his limited time on the field Saturday.

An offensive line, literallyAlabama head coach Saban questions a call from the referee in the second half of play against Virginia Tech at the Chick-fil-A  Kick-Off college NCAA football game in Atlanta
Having to replace three talented and veteran starters, it was a given that Alabama’s offensive line might take some time to gel as a unit. The fact that the Tide’s interior struggled as much as it did against a battered and beleaguered Virginia Tech squad, though, was surprising to say the least. In the first half, the Tide carried the ball 17 times — and gained just 30 yards. Toss in a pair of holding penalties and one sack of quarterback AJ McCarron, and it was a far from stellar effort from the line. For the game, the Tide rushed for just 96 yards on 38 carries, a paltry average of 2.5 yards per carry in the 35-10 win; last season, Alabama’s 5.6 ypc was tied for fourth in the country. It’s not a time to panic, but it is a little worrisome for Nick Saban and his offensive coaching staff with a road trip to College Station looming in a couple of weeks.

TC… you blew it
OK, maybe that’s a little strong, but why would Gary Patterson decide to punt the ball back to LSU, down 10, instead of trying to convert a fourth-and-2 with five minutes left? Yes, TCU was at its own 33-yard line, but when you’re down two scores you need to take the chance; miss it, game over. Punt it, game over. Go for it and make it, you still have life and plenty of time to extend the game and find some way to get the requisite two scores to either tie or win the game. As it played out, TCU simply couldn’t stop LSU post-punt as the Tigers put together three first downs in the final five minutes to seal a 37-27 win. A head-scratching end to what was a very good football game and a huge win for the Tigers, who very well could’ve just beaten the best the Big 12 has to offer.

Boy oh Boise
This very easily could’ve gone in the Winners section for Washington… but it won’t. Coming into the game ranked No. 19 in the country, Boise State proceeded to trip, stumble and bumble all over its junk in getting blown out by the Huskies 38-6. It was the Broncos’ largest margin of defeat since the first game of the 2005 season (48-13 to Georgia) and the fewest points scored since being shutout by another Pac-12 school (Washington State) in 1997. It was also just the third time since that Wazzu whitewash that the Broncos failed to reach double digits (2005, Fresno State; 2012, BYU). So, certainly, it was an epic beatdown for The Lil’ Program That Could, even as it came at the hands of a very focused and talented Huskies squad.

FCS foe hard on the Beaver
While we touched on this briefly up above, Oregon State deserves its own special calling out. In the Beavers’ embarrassing 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington, OSU became just the fourth ranked team ever to lose to an FCS team, joining Virginia Tech (James Madison, 2010), Michigan (2007) and Penn State (Cincinnati, 1983). Expected to possess a vastly improved defense, the Beavers surrendered an astounding 625 yards of total offense — 448 passing, 177 rushing. The Beavers can’t even blame turnovers as neither team coughed up the ball via either a fumble or an interception. No, this was simply an FBS team being outplayed at home by a squad from a lower level of football. And, whatever grief comes their way, it will be well-deserved.

Stoops, there it ain’t
Since being hired as Kentucky’s new head coach, Mark Stoops has made several big splashes along the recruiting trail. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, those splashes have yet to make an impact in the here and now. In Stoops’ head-coaching debut, the Wildcats traveled to in-state “rival” Western Kentucky and dropped a 35-26 decision to the Hilltoppers. And, in reality, the game wasn’t even that close as WKU held an 18-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Eventually, the hiring of Stoops will pay big dividends on the field; for now, people around the country will simply lament the same ol’ UK football woes.

Kirk Ferentz, Money Fleecer Extraordinaire
This season, Kirk Ferentz will make nearly $4 million as Iowa’s head coach. He has a contract that runs through the 2020 season and would cost the university tens of millions to buy him out of. The past three seasons, the Hawkeyes win total has gone from eight to seven to four in 2012, the lowest number for a Ferentz-coached team since his second season in 2000 (3-9). So, with the heat rising from the outside, what do the Hawkeyes do? Go out and lose the opener at home to Northern Illinois on a last-second field goal, of course. Don’t fret for Ferentz, however; he possesses the type of job security that 99 percent of coaches can only dream of. Whether he deserves that type of security, though, is another matter entirely.

First-year head coaches
Just barely, new head coaches at their respective schools fall into this category. During the offseason, there were 31 coaching changes; through the first three days, 29 have already made their debuts, with 15 of them coming out sans a “W”: Cal, FIU, Georgia State, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, Purdue, USF, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Temple, Utah State and Western Michigan. Of course, that also means 14 came out with the coveted “W”: Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Boston College, Cincinnati, Kent State, North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Oregon, San Jose State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Western Kentucky and Wisconsin. Both Kentucky (WKU) and Louisiana Tech (NCSU) lost to teams in its first season under a new head coach. Colorado and UTEP can add to either side in the coming days, with the former opening the season against hated rival Colorado while the latter must wait until next weekend to open its season.

Oh, Pelini
With FAU trailing Miami 34-6 Friday and with just seconds left in the game, the Owls were facing a fourth-and-four at the Miami 25-yard line. At that point, FAU head coach Carl Pelini did, well, this:

 

[/facepalm]

Yes, Pelini called for his quarterback to spike the ball on fourth down. And, yes, Pelini was mortified upon realizing that he had called for a spike on fourth down. And, no, the gaffe had no impact on the game whatsoever, but it did add some embarrassment to a program that could use less of that, not more.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

– No. 18 Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34: Last year, the Cowboys were ranked 70th in the country in total offense (390.6 yards per game); Saturday, the Cornhuskers allowed the Cowboys to roll up 602 yards. The Huskers led this one by 16 early in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys scored a pair of touchdowns — off NU turnovers — in less than five minutes, the final coming with 1:32 left. A failed onside kick, however, kept Nebraska from suffering its first season-opening loss in 29 years.

– No. 22 Northwestern 44, Cal 30: The Wildcats didn’t grab the lead for good until the middle of the fourth quarter against a surprisingly spry Bears team playing its first game under head coach Sonny Dykes. The closeness of the contest should catch the eye of Ohio State, which travels to Berkeley two weeks from yesterday.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — The two-time defending BCS champions looked positively subpar on offense but, thanks to stellar defense and special teams, easily held off an injury-ravaged Virginia Tech. Especially along the offensive line, The Tide has some issues that need shoring up prior to the Sept. 14 road trip to College Station. (Preseason: No. 1)
Next up: bye weekend

2. Clemson — You beat a Top-Five opponent, you shoot up quite a few spots. Is this the year that Clemson (finally) stops Clemsoning itself? The win over Georgia was a solid sign it may indeed be. Or they stub their toes against The Citadel. One of the two. (Preseason: No. 8)
Next up: vs. South Carolina State

Buffalo v Ohio State3. Ohio State — A rather uninspiring 20-point win over Buffalo and Clemson’s showing drops the Buckeyes down a spot. (Preseason: No. 2)
Next up: vs. San Diego State

4. Stanford — The Cardinal sat out opening weekend and won’t open their 2013 season until next Saturday. (Preseason ranking: No. 3)
Next up: vs. San Jose State

5. Louisville — The Cardinals don’t open their season until later on today against Ohio at home. While Mark Ennis might punch me in the tentacles for doing so, I’m just going to go ahead and chalk this one up as an impressive “W” for Charlie Strong‘s charges. (Preseason: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Eastern Kentucky

HE SAID IT
“I was overcome with emotion. I think my son made me soft. I bawled my eyes out.” — Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, whose infant son was released from the hospital two days before the opener Thursday after spending the first three weeks of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“That’s how he is. He’s a fiery guy and that’s what we love about him. He’s not quiet. He’s not shy. He’s going to be loud and aggressive, and that’s what makes him Johnny Football. We love it.” — A&M offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi, on the ongoing circus that is Johnny Manziel.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I don’t care how quick the offense scores. They could score on one play every time. As long as they’re scoring, I’m all for that.” — Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, on the Buckeyes’ up-tempo offense.

YOU DON’T SAY?
Courtesy of the Ohio State sports information department: With 77 rushing yards, Braxton Miller eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark in his career and now sits at 2,063. He is now 17 yards shy of Cornelius Greene’s Ohio State record of 2,080 yards rushing by a quarterback.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– Clemson became the first non-SEC team ever to beat two Top-10 SEC teams in consecutive games, with the wins coming over No. 5 Georgia Saturday night and No. 8 LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last New Year’s Eve.

– Northwestern linebacker Collin Lewis returned two interceptions for touchdowns (52, 40 yards) in the road win over Cal. Both of the pick-sixes came off deflections.

– Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams accounted for 518 yards of total offense (411 passing, 107 rushing) and six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) in the upset of Oregon State.

– McNeese State’s 53-21 win over USF was the largest margin of victory for an FCS program over an FBS program since Sam Houston State beat Louisiana-Monroe 44-12 back in 2001.

– In a wild 52-51 win over Rutgers Thursday night, Fresno State’s Derek Carr completed 52-of-73 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns. His counterpart in that game, Gary Nova, threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns as well.

Virginia Tech v Alabama– Alabama’s Christion Jones became the first player at the FBS level since North Carolina’s Brandon Tate in 2006 to return both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game. According to the Alabama record books, which date back to 1944 the school stated, Jones is the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.

– Starting in place of ex-/future Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Tommy Rees passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the Irish’s 28-6 win over Temple.

– In Marshall’s 52-14 win over Miami (Ohio), quarterback Rakeem Cato tossed five touchdown passes to four different receivers.

– SID Stat of the Day: Wisconsin has now won 16 consecutive season openers. That is tied with USC for the third-longest active streak in the country behind only Nebraska (28) and Florida (24).

– (First half) Johnny Manziel-less Texas A&M had its streak of scoring first in 17 straight games snapped in the win against Rice.

– In its first game with Bret Bielema on the sidelines, Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in the same game (Jonathan Williams 151, Alex Collins 131) for the first time since 2007, when Darren McFadden rushed for 321 yards and Felix Jones rushed for 163 vs. South Carolina.

– Baylor outgained Wofford 692-233 in the Bears’ 69-3 win. Running back Lache Seastrunk rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries.

– Maryland had 399 yards of total offense in the first half of their game with FIU. Last season, the Terps accounted for 400 yards or more of total offense in just two of their games.

Duke Johnson rushed for a career-high 189 yards — on just 19 carries — in Miami’s 28-point win over FAU. Miami rushed for 303 yards as a team; the Hurricanes high-water mark last season was 248.

– Speaking of Duke, the Blue Devils posted the football program’s first shutout in 24 years with its 45-0 win over North Carolina Central.

Blake Bortles passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns in UCF’s 38-7 win over Akron Thursday.

– The 73 points Indiana scored in Thursday’s win over Indiana State was the second-most in school history (76). The 45 first-half points were the most ever for the program.

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Former Texas A&M DE heading to Houston

SMU v Texas A&M

The search for a new football home did not take long for former Texas A&M defensive end Gavin Stansbury. Stansbury plans to join the Houston Cougars of the American Athletic Conference and will be eligible to play immediately this fall. The news was first reported by Joseph Duarte The Houston Chronicle and followed  up by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports via Twitter.

Just last week Texas A&M confirmed Stansbury decided to leave the program. This decision was made following an arrest after a traffic stop. There was a warrant for Stansbury’s arrest stemming from an altercation at a party at Rice University in April. Stansbury was faced with a misdemeanor charge for assault. Stansbury was suspended from team activities but had returned following the arrest.

As far as football is concerned, this is a nice addition for Houston. Stansbury was a three-star prospect at defensive end according to Rivals.com. The Cougars were picked third in the AAC this season, behind Cincinnati and defending champion UCF. Stansbury appeared in 10 games last season for Texas A&M and finished seventh on the team with 47 tackles and tied for the team-high with three sacks. He is ready to step right in and see some significant playing time for the Cougars.

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Playbooks on iPads are not quite as exciting for kickers

iPad

One of the perks of playing college football at a big program is getting an iPad loaded with the playbook on it every season. Today many players started getting their digital playbooks as camps start opening up. This tends to be a pretty exciting time for college football players, and they are surely advised not to share any of the information through public forums like Facebook or Twitter.

Sometimes players can get away with it. Kickers, for example, have a pretty simple role on a college football team. Kick the ball far on kickoffs and between the poles on extra point and field goal attempts.

Here is the playbook’s instructions to Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt.

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Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon “not reporting at this time”

Joe Mixon

As a legal investigation continues to cloud the future of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, the university has issued a statement stating the five-stare Class of 2014 addition is not currently reporting to team activities. That is about as close as we have gotten to any word of a possible indefinite suspension for the talented running back expected to contribute right away for the Sooners.

Mixon was reportedly involved in a serious altercation over the weekend, with a 20-year old female reportedly being the other party involved and injured in the incident in question. Mixon’s attorney has stated his client’s innocence, but police continue to work the investigation to determine the next steps. The timeline for the police investigation is unknown just yet, but is expected to continue into next week and perhaps longer.

It is typical for schools to indefinitely suspend players tied to any ongoing legal investigations, so it was probably only a matter of time before Oklahoma released this type of statement, with summer camps set to open.

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Season tickets at Iowa could net you free tuition

Michigan v Iowa

Iowa is going to offer free tuition to five students, chosen at random, who have purchased season tickets for the upcoming 2014 season. If nothing else, it is one way to battle the downward trend in college football attendance.

“The fans in the stadium really feed off the energy from students, so we’d like to have a full student section,” Lisa Pearson, director of marketing for Iowa said to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “We’re trying to get as many students into the stadium as possible.”

Iowa typically reserves 10,000 tickets for students, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, but only about 7,300 were sold last season. Overall season ticket sales have also dipped at Iowa with 52,000 tickets sold last season for Kinnick Stadium, which holds more than 70,000 on game day.

Students at Iowa might want to take the gamble on free tuition. Iowa should be a pretty good team this season and could easily play into the Big Ten West along with Wisconsin and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes always seem to have a year that comes out of nowhere and that appears to be what many are thinking this season. Iowa was picked second in the unofficial Big Ten media poll last week.

UPDATED (8:21 PM ET): It seems there may be a concern over this whole plan now. Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta released the following statement, as shared by KWWL;

“This afternoon we learned of concerns related to a student football promotion,” Barta said in a written statement. “A question has been raised whether the promotion is compliant with state raffle laws. I have suspended the promotion temporarily as we determine how to make sure that this promotion is in complete compliance.

“In the end, our goal is to do everything possible to make sure that the student experience at Hawkeye football games is as fun and exciting as possible,” he added.

So now there is a waiting game to find out if Iowa will be able to follow trough on this plan.

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Coaches at Penn State and Pitt trying to reignite the rivalry

James Franklin

Penn State and Pittsburgh used to play every season, but once the two programs went their separate ways by joining the Big East (Pitt) and Big Ten (Penn State), it has been a struggle to get the two programs to see eye-to-eye when it came to scheduling any future games. Much of the tension stemmed from the days of Joe Paterno leading the Penn State program and demanding an extra home game in any scheduling arrangement with Pittsburgh, but that is best left for historians to dig deeper into today. Penn State and Pittsburgh have a four-game series lined up for 2016 through 2019. If it was up to the head coaches of both programs today, the series would continue on an annual basis.

The topic of power conference opponents scheduling other power conference opponents has become an increasingly relevant topic with the emphasis shifting on strength of schedule in the College Football Playoff era. With Pitt also needing to fulfill a non-conference scheduling requirement to schedule an opponent from another power conference opponent each season under the ACC’s new guidelines, it would seem only natural for the Panthers to explore the revival of past annual rivalries against either West Virginia or Penn State.

Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst was asked about historic and regional rivals Penn State and West Virginia this week while moving through the ESPN car wash. In what may come as a bit of a surprise, Chryst told Brett McMurphy of ESPN he would prefer to see an annual match-up with Penn State instead of West Virginia if he had to choose between the two. Penn State head coach James Franklin appears to be on the same page, telling McMurphy today on his run through the ESPN media gauntlet he would support seeing an annual series with the Panthers.

What needs to happen before this can actually become an annual tradition in the Keystone State? There may not be a whole lot that needs to fall into place, although Penn State playign a nine-game schedule in the Big Ten moving forward while the ACC sticks to an eight-game schedule will present many of the same problems faced with reviving the Backyard Brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia. In the end, Penn State’s desire to assure an extra home game on the schedule could resurface in a different capacity by ensuring Penn State has seven home games at a minimum for years to come.

With new leadership in place at both schools compared to the late 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps getting these two in-state rivals back together for the long term could be a more realistic possibility.

Penn State and Pittsburgh last played in 2000. The two schools agreed to a two-game series in 2016 and 2017 and later agreed to extend the series by two more games through 2019. Penn State leads the all-time series, 44-41-4.

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Pac-12 QBs set pace for Unitas Award watch list

Marcus Mariota

For those who thought — or were hoping — they’d seen the last of these types of posts this year, you are sadly mistaken.

The latest to release its preseason watch list is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the nation’s top senior (eligibility-wise or academically) quarterback.  In other words, don’t freak out because Florida State’s Jameis Winston or the like aren’t included.

Among those who are included are three semifinalists for last year’s award, with all three hailing from the Pac-12: Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly (no relation), Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Speaking of the Pac-12, they paced all conferences with seven quarterbacks on the watch list.  The Big Ten was next with six, followed by the SEC (five), Big 12 (three), Mountain West (two) and one each from the AAC, ACC and Conference USA.  Prairie View A&M’s Jerry Lovelocke was the only non-FBS player to make the initial cut.

AJ McCarron of Alabama was the 2013 recipient of the award.

Below is the complete list of 27 players:

2014 Unitas Award Preseason Watch List

 

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Reports: Josh Turner has dismissal reversed, still with ‘Horns

Mississippi v Texas

Hold the phone on at least one of the players reportedly booted past the Austin city limits.

Both Rivals.com and 24/7Sports.com are reporting that Josh Turner is once again a member of the Texas football team.  Per the latter recruiting website, Turner was set to transfer when, “just prior to Turner finalizing his plans, head coach Charlie Strong allowed Turner to appeal to the decision of his dismissal.”

A meeting with head coach Charlie Strong was held Tuesday night that went well enough that Turner was placed back on the team, albeit with what 247Sports termed as “severe restrictions.” What those restrictions entail wasn’t divulged.

Turner has started five games in the secondary during his 37-game UT career.  He will be a senior in 2014.

Running back Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet along with defensive end Chevoski Collins remain on the outside of the program looking in and are not expected to see their dismissals reversed. Bergeron is seeking to be released from his scholarship so he can transfer to a Div. II school in the state.

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Stanford’s Ty Montgomery ‘ahead of schedule’ in shoulder rehab

Ty Montgomery, Kameron Jackson

Maybe the situation’s not as dire as it appeared at first blush.

Ty Montgomery is in the midst of recovering from shoulder surgery, with Stanford’s David Shaw acknowledging this weekend that the star wide receiver might not miss just the opener against UC-Davis but the following Saturday’s conference opener against USC as well.  While there’s certainly the possibility that Montgomery could be held out of the opener — see: competition, level of — there appears to be more optimism regarding the game against the Trojans.

“Ty’s ahead of schedule. He’s ahead of schedule. He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Shaw said Wednesday.

As for holding out Montgomery for the opener even if he’s healthy enough? At least in the here and now, the Cardinal head coach doesn’t want to hear that kind of talk.

“f he’s ready to go Game 1 and the doctors say, `You know what, he’s at limited risk for re-injury, let’s let him go play,’ I’m all for it,” Shaw said. “There’s no babying football players. If Ty’s ready to go, he’s returning kickoffs, he’s playing the game. If he’s not, we’ll hold him off. I don’t have an issue with that.”

For his part, Montgomery said today that “[w]henever they can tell me I can play, I’m ready to play.”

Montgomery was easily the Cardinal’s top pass-catcher in 2013, leading the team with 61 catches for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns.  The next closest was Devon Cajuste‘s 28-642-5.

For good measure, Montgomery was third in the nation in kick return average (30.3) and was one of just seven players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown (New Mexico’s Carlos Wiggins returned three for scores).

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Report: Chris Gallon, one of BGSU’s top WRs, could miss season

Kent State v Bowling Green Getty Images

If it weren’t for bad injury luck, Chris Gallon wouldn’t have any luck at all.

Speculation has surfaced recently that the Bowling Green wide receiver either suffered a significant new injury or had reinjured his knee.  While the school has yet to address what if any injury issue the wide receiver may be facing, the whispers are growing louder.  And sounding season-ending-ish before the season even gets started.

From the Twitter account of WTOL-TV’s Jordan Strack:

The loss of Gallon certainly wouldn’t be optimal for BGSU’s offense.

In 2012, Gallon led all Falcon receivers in catches (54), yards (720) and receiving touchdowns (six).  He was second in all three categories last year (24-232-2) when he went down with what turned out to be a season-ending injury.

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After putting arm through window, LSU’s Lealaimatafao likely lost for year

LSU Trey

In a move not even remotely unexpected, it appears LSU won’t have one member of its 2014 recruiting class at its disposal.

In a tweet, Ross Dellenger of the Baton Rouge Advocate confirmed that, according to head coach Les Miles, “Trey Lealaimatafao will ‘probably not‘ play this season after arm injury.”

Last week, Lealaimatafao suffered what was initially feared to be an amputation-level injury to his arm after punching through a weight-room window. Fortunately for Lealaimatafao, the physical damage wasn’t as severe as initially reported and the defensive tackle was released from the hospital two days later.

One day after his release, was Lealaimatafao was arrested for allegedly stealing a bicycle from an on-campus library.

Lealaimatafao was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 26 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 43 player in the state of Texas at any position.

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After transferring from Tide, Josh Magee now leaving S. Alabama

Josh Magee

Josh Magee has already left one FBS football program, and is set on doing the same a second time.

South Alabama head coach Joey Jones confirmed to al.com that Magee has decided to leave the Jaguars due to family reasons.  The website wrote that “Magee will look to play elsewhere, probably closer to his home in Hoover (Ala.).”

The move came as a surprise as Magee had a solid spring practice, with Jones saying that “obviously, we had high expectations for Josh.”

Magee was a member of the Tide’s 2012 recruiting class, but took a redshirt his true freshman season. After one season in Tuscaloosa, he decided to transfer to USA, sitting out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws.

He exited spring this year as one of the Jaguars’ No. 2 wide receivers.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Starting Lobo lineman arrested on pair of charges

Jamal Price

Yes, yes, another post, another arrest.

The latest college football player to run afoul of the law is New Mexico’s Jamal Price, who the Albuquerque Journal is reporting was arrested following a domestic incidence Monday.  Specifically, the offensive lineman was charged with breaking & entering and conspiracy to commit a fourth-degree felony.

The paper wrote that “[a] criminal complaint says he pushed his girlfriend and Lobo basketball player Khadijah Shumpert at her apartment on Monday night in a dispute over an ‘Apple’ television.”

Because of the arrest and subsequent charges, Price has been indefinitely suspended from the team.

“I do think there is a level of frustration that’s shared by the coaches and the players,” Lobos head coach Bob Davie said. “In fact, I know that. I know guys want to make the right decision. They understand what it takes to make the right decision and they are hurt by this. I know our football team is hurt by this.”

Price started 10 games for the Lobos in 2013.  He was listed as the starting right guard on UNM’s depth chart heading into summer camp.

(Tip O the Cap: ArrestNation.com)

(Photo credit: New Mexico athletics)

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Family issues cost Fresno St. likely DB contributor

Randon Knotts

Unfortunately, a situation off the field will cost Fresno State a potential defensive contributor on it.

Bulldogs head coach Tim DeRuyter confirmed to the Fresno Bee that Randon Knotts has decided to leave his football program. While no specifics were given, the coach pointed to the general “family issues” as the impetus for the departure.

“We like the progress he was making. He’s a really outstanding young man, but he has some family issues back home that he needs to go home and take care of,” DeRuyter told the Bee.

There was no indication that Knotts would be returning at any point in the near future, if at all.

Knotts was a two-star member of Fresno’s 2013 recruiting class and took a redshirt as a true freshman. The paper wrote that “Knotts in the spring got reps at safety as well as the nickel position.”

(Photo credit: Fresno State athletics)

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Baseball player rejoins LaTech football team

Taylor Burch QB (16)©Louisiana Tech Universityphoto by Donny Crowe

An LSU stick-and-baller did it earlier this month. Now, another FBS football program in that state will be the beneficiary of a similar move.

Earlier this week, Louisiana Tech announced that Taylor Burch (no relation) has joined the football program. And, actually, it’s rejoined; in 2010 and 2011, Burch was on the football Bulldogs roster.

Burch left the football team following the 2011 season and concentrated on baseball full-time the past two seasons after splitting his time between the sports. His baseball eligibility is expired, and he will be entering his final season of football eligibility.

While Burch served as the holder on field goal and extra point attempts, he will enter summer camp listed as a quarterback. During the last season of his first go-around with the football Bulldogs, the school noted Burch completed a 12-yard pass to on a fourth-and-four fake field goal against Houston.

(Photo credit: Louisiana Tech athletics)

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Police probe involving OU’s Mixon to extend into next week

Joe Mixon

For Oklahoma fans anxiously looking for the Joe Mixon situation to take its next step, you’re going to have to wait.

According to Tulsa World, a police investigation into the incident involving the highly-touted 2014 signee is expected to continue into next week, with an intimation that perhaps it could extend even further.  Once the investigation is wrapped up, the results will be sent to the district attorney, who will make a determination on whether charges will be filed.

We are not closer to making an arrest,” Norman Police Department captain Todd Gibson told the World. “and would anticipate having documentation to the Cleveland County District Attorney sometime late next week.”

Late last week it was reported that Mixon was involved in an altercation at a cafe just outside of campus. It was alleged that Mixon punched a 20-year-old woman in the face, breaking four bones.

In a statement released by his attorney a couple of days later. it was claimed that Mixon was merely acting in self-defense.

“This past Friday morning Joe Mixon found himself in a situation where he was subjected to both verbal and physical attacks from a very intoxicated and troubled young woman. As a result of these physical attacks, Joe instinctually defended himself against further harm.”

The release ended by stating “[a]s we have always maintained, Joe has done nothing wrong.”

Mixon was a five-star member of the Sooners’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 1 running back in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the country.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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