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The Fifth Quarter: Week 2 Rewind

Florida v Miami 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.

WINNERS

A-C-C! A-C-C! A-C-C!
Well would you look at what basketball conference has done a little bit of football growing up the first two weeks of the season.  And what football program grabbed a signature win by the throat after years of NCAA turmoil.  It was far from pretty offensively — most games involving the team from Gainesville are — but unranked (for now) Miami was able to punch its way to a 21-16 win over No. 12 Florida, the biggest win for The U since, what, Ohio State in 2011?  Florida State or Oklahoma in 2009?  Regardless, it was Al Golden‘s biggest win in his two-plus years with the Hurricanes, and a clear signal that, while they might not be there yet, The U is certainly pointed in the direction of the national stage.  It’s also a sign that, after Clemson’s win over then-No. 5 Georgia opening weekend, the ACC will no longer be a pushover at the top.  Or that the SEC East is vastly overrated.  One of the two.

Big OBC monkey, be gone!
For both No. 11 Georgia in general and Aaron Murray specifically, there has been a mountain-sized monkey on their respective backs, a South Carolina one for the former and a big-game one for the latter.  In one fell swoop, the simian has left the building thanks to the Bulldogs’ highly-entertaining 41-30 win over the No. 6 Gamecocks.  For UGA it snapped a three-game losing streak against the ‘Cocks, made even sweeter coming off the tough three-point loss to Clemson.  For Murray, it was just his second win — versus four losses — against a team ranked in the Top Ten.  With the Bulldogs defense (again) struggling, Murray turned in a career-like performance, throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns.  Here’s to guessing Murray’s home won’t get TP’d and/or egged this year.

Teddy Heisman?
Tabbed as the gambling Heisman Trophy frontrunner earlier this week, Teddy Bridgewater did little to break that momentum this weekend.  In No. 8 Louisville’s thumping of  FCS-level Eastern Kentucky, the quarterback completed 23-of-32 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns.  On the season, Bridgewater has completed 77 percent of his passes for 752 yards, nine touchdowns and an interception.  Granted, the competition has been a MAC school and one from the FCS — and the schedule doesn’t get much tougher moving forward — but the junior is doing what he has to do: putting up big numbers when he’s supposed to, all the while hoping that some teams from the AAC step up their level of play.

Bryce PettyRG Who? Nick Florence what?
Over the past two seasons, No. 23 Baylor has been forced to replace Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, who passed for 4,300 yards and 33 touchdowns in his lone season as the Bears’ starting quarterback.  Some thought that the BU offensive machine may have to throttle down with a first-year starter in control.  Um, yeah, not even close.  Coming off a season-opening win in which they rolled up 69 points and 692 yards of offense, Baylor stuffed 56 points and 501 yards of offense in the stat sheet… in the first half alone.  For the game, the Bears totaled a school-record 781 yards of offense in the 70-13 walk over Buffalo.  The first-year starter, Bryce Petty, has completed 84 percent of his 38 passes for 650 yards and four touchdowns in what’s essentially a total of five quarters worth of playing time.  The takeaway from BU’s start?  Never, ever underestimate the genius that is Art Briles when it comes to the quarterback position.

The 100-plus trio, x2
Last week, for just the third time in school history, No. 21 Wisconsin saw three different players rush for over one hundred yards in a single game.  Seven days later, it’s lather, rinse, repeat for the Badgers’ ground game.  This week against Tennessee Tech, it was true freshman Corey Clement with 149 yards; Melvin Gordon with 140; and James White with 109.  Last week it was Gordon with 144; White with 143; and Clement with 101.  Thus far this season, the Badgers have rushed for 780 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging an obscene 8.2 yards per carry.  Those gaudy numbers all came against UMass and an FCS school, though; next week will be a better gauge of where UW stands in its first year under Gary Andersen as the Badgers travel to Arizona State.

Zach attack
It was thought that, given the number of losses the defense had incurred throughout the offseason, No. 9 LSU’s offense might have to carry the other side of the ball, at least for the early portion of the season.  In Game 2, mission accomplished.  Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, somewhat maligned throughout the 2012 season, passed for 282 yards and, more impressively, a school-record five touchdown passes in a 56-17 romp over UAB.  Not only that, the Tigers rushed for 152 yards and added two touchdowns on the ground.  While the Bayou Bengals will certainly face stiffer tests defensively on down the road, Les Miles and his offensive coaching staff — including new coordinator Cam Cameron — have to be privately hopeful that Mettenberger has turned the corner as a quarterback.

No Goff-ing off for true frosh
To say that Jared Goff has taken well to the game of college football would be a massive understatement.  A four-star member of Cal’s 2013 recruiting class, the true freshman has started the first two games of the Sonny Dykes era and passed for 930 yards.  That number is the most passing yards in a team’s first two games of a season since Colt Brennan in 2007 (964).  485 of Dykes’ yards came in the win over Portland State Saturday.  Even more impressive?  415 of them came against a very good Northwestern defense in Week 1.  It may take some time to turn Cal around, but it appears the Berkeley bunch will be set at the quarterback position for at least the next two-plus years.

‘Merica
Why did the whole of the United States of America win Saturday night?  Because we were all witnesses to this:

Eminem

Eminem on a college football broadcast talking NFL point spreads with Brent Musburger.  I can now, finally, die a happy man.

LOSERS

Austin, we have a prob… [/gets run over by large Mormons]
After placing Texas No. 23 in my preseason Top 25 and writing that I’m not buying into a Longhorn resurgence, I received quite a few, shall I say, not-so-nice emails blasting both my intelligence and manhood.  Burnt Orange Nation, here’s your sign.  In Saturday night’s loss , BYU racked up 348 yards rushing… and then the two teams came out and played the second half.   In the end, the carnage was about as bad as you’d expect as the Cougars rolled over, through, around and back over the No. 15 (chuckle) ‘Horns for good measure to the tune of 550 yards on the ground in UT’s 40-21 loss.  That number was, obviously, a school record for both teams.  Following the game, I received the following text from a long-time, diehard UT buddy, which has been cleaned up somewhat because this is kind of a family-friendly website: “[Bad word} that [mother-related bad word] Mack Brown. [Bad word] his coaching staff, [bad word] DeLoss, [bad word] the whole lot of ‘em.  Never been more [bad word] embarrassed to be a ‘Horn. [Bad word] my life.” At bare minimum, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz had better pray long and hard tonight that he has a job come Sunday afternoon.  Long-term, the UT athletic department had better think long and hard about Mack Brown and how much he’s humiliating and embarrassing a proud and iconic football program.  Is Brown the 2013 version of Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno?  For the future of the program, the administration had better figure it out and figure it out quick.

Lane duck?
This was the scene at the Coliseum midway through the fourth quarter, with No. 25 USC and Washington State tied at 7-all:

USC

And that was before the Trojans went on to an embarrassing 10-7 loss to Wazzu.  And before the “FIRE KIFFIN” chants from the smattering of fans who remained washed over the historic stadium.

Pat Haden, you’ve been put on notice.  With a sea of empty seats in a close game, the customers are voicing their opinions of Lane Kiffin loud and clear.

Patently offensive
In an attempt to shakeup an offense that’s been in a year-plus lull, Mark Dantonio benched starter Andrew Maxwell in favor of Connor Cook for the game against USF.  The result?  The Spartans could muster just 264 yards of total offense — just 94 passing — and one touchdown in the 21-6 win.  On the season, MSU’s offense has scored two touchdowns; the defense has scored four.  Yes, the Spartans are 2-0 for the fourth straight season, but the offense is light years away from even being average let alone competitive in the Big Ten.

Hilldroppers
When you’re a “mid-major” football program facing an SEC school on the road, the last thing you can afford to do is turn the ball over.  So, of course, that’s exactly what Western Kentucky did Saturday.  Boy, did they ever do it.  In a span of six plays in the first quarter of the loss to Tennessee, the Hilltoppers turned the ball over five times.  Quarterback Brandon Doughty tossed three interceptions, while WKU backs coughed up a pair of fumbles.  Two of Doughty’s picks were returned for touchdowns, while the Vols converted the other three turnovers into 17 points.  After that the Hilltoppers settled down on the turnover front — just two more the rest of the game, all in the first half — but it was too little, too late as the Vols cruised to a 52-20 win, its second consecutive win in the first season under Butch Jones.

Blow that Bridgford up
Coming to Southern Miss from Cal, Allan Bridgford was expected to provide veteran leadership at the quarterback position for a team coming off a winless 2012 campaign.  While that may ultimately end up being the case, it’s not in the here and now.  In Bridgford’s first two starts — both losses — he’s thrown five interceptions.  Included in that turnover tally were three picks Saturday, with two of those returned for touchdowns by Nebraska in the Cornhuskers’ 56-13 blowout.

Fashion faux pas on The Plains
Following the opening kickoff of the Arkansas State-Auburn, the Red Wolves were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.  While such a penalty is not unusual, even in the opening seconds of a game, the reason for the unsportsmanlike call is: failure to wear contrasting colors.  That’s right, ASU was penalized because AU wore blue jerseys while they came out with grey tops.  Technically speaking, the Red Wolves would’ve needed to wear white in order to avoid a flag.  For those curious, via Jon Solomon of al.com, here’s what the egregious act looked like:

Arkansas State

In fairness to ASU, you’re really not supposed to wear white after Labor Day anyway…

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

— No. 16 Oklahoma 16, West Virginia 7: Not only did the Sooners narrowly escape with a nine-point win over a mediocre Mountaineers squad, but OU could have a quarterback controversy on its hands as Blake Bell replaced an ineffective Trevor Knight (119 yards, two third-quarter interceptions)  in the fourth quarter.  In an ominous sign, head coach Bob Stoops said afterwards that he and his staff would evaluate the position further.

— No. 24 TCU 38, Southeastern Louisiana 17: While the final spread was three touchdowns, the Horned Frogs led the FCS school by just three points at halftime.  To make matters worse, starting quarterback Casey Pachall has been lost for the foreseeable future to injury.

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 bye weekend came at a fortuitous time for the Tide as it gave the coaching staff a chance to tinker with the offense in general and the offensive line specifically ahead of the mammoth rematch in College Station. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: at Texas A&M

2. Clemson — The Tigers’ Week 1 win over Georgia was even more impressive in light of the Bulldogs’ win over No. 6 South Carolina in Week 2.  The 52-13 win over FCS-level South Carolina State merely served as an early-season scrimmage as the Tigers prepare for the ACC opener a week from this coming Thursday against North Carolina State.
Next up: bye weekend

San Diego State v Ohio State3. Ohio State — The Buckeyes made San Diego State pay for its uneven performance in the opener against Buffalo, totaling 445 yards of offense (263 rushing, 182 passing) en route to an easy 42-7 win over the Aztecs.  Making it even more impressive is that they did it in large part without star quarterback Braxton Miller, who suffered a knee injury but should return for the road trip to Berkeley next week. OSU still owns the nation’s longest winning streak, now at 14 straight. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: at Cal

4. Oregon — In two games thus far this season against Nicholls State and Virginia, the Ducks have possessed the ball for a total of 41:11… and scored 125 points, an average of over three points per minute.  Damn, that makes me tired typing it let alone defending it. (Last week No. 4)
Up next: Tennessee

5. Louisville — Get used to variations of this if the Cardinals keep winning: thanks to a cupcake slate, the U of L cruised to an easy 44-7 win over overmatched Eastern Kentucky.  The Cardinals can only control how they look against an underwhelming schedule, and they’ve done that thus far by winning their first two games by an average of nearly 35 points per game.  One slip though — even a close win against a vastly inferior opponent — and Louisville will go tumbling out of this poll and, more importantly, down the polls that actually count. (Last week: No. 5)
Up next: at Kentucky

HE SAID IT
“We’ve been through so much. It was almost cathartic, to be honest with you. It was 26 months just unleashed there in the last four or five seconds.” — Al Golden, following Miami’s win over in-state rival Florida.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I take pride in the fact the offense almost does not skip a beat when I come into the game. I just do my best to be a leader in that way. I let the team know everything is going to be okay.” — Ohio State quarterback Kenny Guiton, who led a seamless transition from an injured Braxton Miller in the Buckeyes’ win.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“The team that loses this game is waiting for the other’s bus to break down. We’ve been chasing them the last thee years. South Carolina has a very good team, and this year, we get a chance to sit in the driver’s seat. … We haven’t been 1-0 in the league in awhile because South Carolina’s been getting us. Today, we got them, and I’m so thankful.” — Mark Richt following Georgia’s huge win over the albatross that had become South Carolina.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Our job as a team was to try to destroy this team early.” — Art Briles, following Baylor’s 57-point evisceration of Buffalo.

GAMEDAY SIGN OF THE DAY
This sign, from the Notre Dame-Michigan pregame festivities, needs no explanation whatsoever:

GameDay Sign

Well-played, UM fans.  Well-played.

SAY WHAT?
No. 3 Ohio State scored 42 points in its 35-point win over San Diego State Saturday afternoon.  That pushes the Buckeyes’ all-time record when scoring at least 35 points in a game to an astounding 277-0-1.

TRUE STORY
Once three weeks of the 2013 season are officially in the books next Saturday night, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and either Alabama or Texas A&M will have at least one loss apiece.  Chew on that for a minute.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

Central Arkansas v Colorado– In the first two games of the season, in his first two games back since a significant knee injury last year, Colorado’s Paul Richardson has caught 21 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns.  Included in that total was an 11-catch, 209-yard, two-touchdown performance in a win over Central Arkansas.

— In BYU’s embarrassment of Texas, Cougars starting quarterback — quarterback!!! — Taysom Hill rushed for 259 yards and three touchdowns.  Hill had 334 yards and four rushing in six games last season.

J.W. Walsh completed 24-of-27 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns in No. 13 Oklahoma State’s win over UT-San Antonio.  His 88.9 completion percentage broke the school record set by Brandon Weeden in 2011 (85.7%).

Cole Stoudt, playing in place of Tajh Boyd during Clemson’s blowout win over South Carolina State, set a school record by completing 95 percent (19-20) of his passes. The previous record was 94.1 percent when Woodrow Dantzler went 16-for-17 against Citadel in 2000.

— In less than three quarters of work, Johnny Manziel threw for 426 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score in No. 7 Texas A&M’s 65-28 win over Sam Houston State.

— In just a little over a half of work, Boise State’s Joe Southwick threw five touchdowns in the Broncos’ 63-14 win over Tennessee-Martin.

— In the loss to Georgia, South Carolina’s Mike Davis rushed for 149 yards on just 16 carries.

Chuckie Keaton totaled 433 yards of offense (360 passing, 77 rushing) as Utah State bounced back from the loss to Utah in Week 1 by dropping Air Force 52-20.

— Thanks to an injury to Casey Pachall late in the second quarter, Trevone Boykin led No. 24 TCU in passing yards (133) and tied for the team lead in receptions (three).  He added 35 yards rushing, which was third best on the team on the day.

Christian Hackenberg set a Penn State record for most passing yards by a freshman with 311 in the Nittany Lions’ rout of Eastern Michigan.  The five-star 2013 recruit broke the record of 280 set by Zach Mills, who hit that number twice in 2001.

— In his school’s season opener Thursday night, Taylor Kelly (no relation) passed for 300 yards and five touchdowns — to five different receivers — in Arizona State’s 55-0 romp over Sacramento State.

— In two games this season, Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase has thrown for 728 yard, six touchdowns and one interception.  In 10 games last season, he had four touchdowns and eight interceptions.

— On the first carry of his collegiate career, five-star 2013 Oregon recruit Thomas Tyner scored on a three-yard in the third quarter of the Ducks win over Virginia.Fellonte Misher, Stefon Diggs

— Speaking of former five-star recruits, Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs had six receptions for a career-high 179 yards and a touchdown in the Terps’ win over Old Dominion.  His previous high-water yardage mark was 152 against Boston College last October.

— Coming off a one-game suspension, Arizona Ka’Deem Carey, the nation’s leading rusher in 2012, rushed for 171 yards on 16 carries in a win over UNLV.

— USC totaled just 193 yards in its loss to Washington State.  Their longest pass play?  Eight yards.  Their longest run?  19 yards.

— Kentucky rolled up 675 yards of total offense in the 41-7 win over Miami (OH), the third-most in program history and the most since 1998.  The Wildcats had 410 in the first half; they topped that mark in an entire game just twice in 2012.

— In a 38-0 win Friday night, UCF allowed FIU just 31 yards on 29 carries (1.1 yards per carry).  Of course, a team rush for minus-29 yards in the third quarter didn’t help the Panthers’ rushing efforts.

— On the opposite end of the running-game spectrum, Navy rushed for 444 yards in a six-point win over Indiana.

— A crowd of 115,109 people packed the stands of the Big House in Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame-Michigan game.  That’s the largest crowd to ever witness a college football game.  The previous record was 114,804 for the 2011 ND-UM game.

— Speaking of attendance records, and known mainly for no-shows over the past handful of years, Miami’s home game against Florida drew a crowd of 76,869 Saturday afternoon.  That’s the most fans to ever take in a Hurricanes game at Sun Life Stadium.

— With the easy skate past Virginia, No. 2 Oregon has now won 16 straight road games.  That’s the longest such current streak in the nation.

— Wisconsin has recorded back-to-back shutouts to open the season for the first time since 1958.

— Texas A&M tied a school record, first set in 1986, with 38 first downs.

— Duke is now 2-0 on the young season after its win over Memphis.  It marks the first time in 15 years since the Blue Devils started a season with two straight wins.

IN CLOSING…
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Munchie Legaux, who suffered a gruesome lower-leg injury in Cincinnati’s loss to Illinois.  Not only does the UC quarterback possess one of the greatest names in college football history, he’s also by all accounts one of the nicest, classiest kids in the game today.  A statement from the school said that Legaux will remain hospitalized overnight as doctors continue to evaluate his medical situation.  Here’s to hoping Legaux comes back from this devastating injury sooner rather than later.

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UW Huskies add 2017 game against Fresno State

Paul Williams

It’s not exactly Colorado adding TCU and Texas A&M or Stanford adding TCU and Vanderbilt, but another Pac-12 school has added a game to its future schedule against a very respectable Group of Five team.

In twin press releases, Washington and Fresno State announced that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a 2017 game.  Not surprisingly, that game will be played at Husky Stadium and will take place Sept. 16.

The two teams have played just three times previously, the last coming in 2006.

“This is a great opportunity for us to stay on the west coast and play a highly competitive Pac-12 program,” Fresno athletic director Jim Bartko said in a statement. “This game will provide us with great exposure and is an easy trip for both our team and our fans to get to and from Seattle.”

UW had previously announced two other non-conference games for the 2017 season, a home game against FCS Montana and a road trip to Rutgers. There are also future home-and-homes scheduled against BYU (2018,2019) and Michigan (2020, 2021).

The Bulldogs have played teams from the Pac-12 17 of the last 20 seasons, and have schools from that conference on schedules in four of the next five years: Utah (2015), UW (2017), UCLA (2018) and Colorado (2019).

(Photo credit: Fresno State athletics)

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Louisville has a new WR… sort of

Alphonso Carter

As part of Louisville’s 2015 recruiting class, the Cardinals announced the addition of Paul Harris this past December.

Paul Harris is no longer with the team, but the player is.  Wait, what?

It’s actually very simple, even as its something that leans toward the rare side: Harris, you see, has changed his name.  The U of L unveiled the name change in a tweet posted to the football program’s Twitter account, although they didn’t get into the why of the situation.

Harris… errr Carter came to the U of L from the JUCO ranks, but actually began his collegiate career at Tennessee.  A four-star member of UT’s 2013 recruiting class, Carter was rated as the No. 40 wide receiver in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Maryland.

Playing in five games in his one and only season with the Vols, Carter had one catch for 15 yards.  After transferring to Iowa Western Community College, Carter missed the 2014 season with a broken leg.

In addition to Louisville, Carter also held offers from Nebraska and East Carolina in his second recruiting go ’round.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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UNC grad assistant busted for DWI resigns

Gerald McRath

It’s not just college football players who set back our “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

According to WRAL-TV, North Carolina graduate assistant Gerald McRath was arrested early Monday morning and charged with driving while impaired.  According to the television station’s website, McGrath was found asleep at the wheel by police with his vehicle running.

He was released on a $1,500 bond a short time later.

A few hours later, McRath also relieved himself of his duties at UNC as he announced in a statement that he has decided to, ahem, “resign” his post.

“I apologize for my actions and for bringing negative publicity and attention to the University of North Carolina and the football program,” McRath wrote. “I have decided to resign my position as a graduate assistant coach at UNC and move forward with my career.”

McRath was just added to Larry Fedora‘s staff earlier this year as a defensive grad assistant. He played a portion of his college football career for Fedora at Southern Miss during the latter’s first year in Hattiesburg (2008) before embarking on a four-year NFL career with the Tennessee Titans.

His first coaching job was in 2014 as a defensive quality control coach at his alma mater.

(Photo credit: North Carolina athletics)

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Wake Forest announces six-game series with Army, other non-conference games

Duke v Wake Forest

Wake Forest announced a season’s worth of non-conference games in one fell swoop Monday as athletics director Ron Wellman revealed 13 new games in a column on the Demon Deacons’ website.

Headlining the list of games is a six-game series with Army beginning in 2016 and then occurring occasionally through the next decade. The Deacons will host the Black Knights in 2016, 2022 and 2025 and visit West Point in 2021, 2024 and 2026. The schools have met 14 times previously, most recently a 24-21 Wake Forest win last fall, with the Deacons taking 10 of those affairs.

Wake Forest also announced a home-and-home with Vanderbilt (in Nashville in 2022, in Winston-Salem in ’23), as well as a 2022 home game with Air Force and guarantee games with Presbyterian (2017), Elon (2018) and Elon (2019). Wellman wrote to his constituents to expect more road non-conference games due to the college football underclass raising the prices of guarantee games. “Our goal of playing seven home games each season is becoming more challenging in today’s economic environment. The financial guarantees that non-conference opponents are receiving today for ‘buy games’ have doubled and tripled from just a few years ago,” he wrote. “Therefore, it is more realistic to play a home- and- away series against quality opponents than to ‘buy’ one-time games.”

Wellman also broke a little news, confirming that the ACC will indeed require a Power Five non-conference foe for each of its schools moving forward and that BYU will be counted among that group. “The ACC athletic directors have agreed that each ACC school will play a football non-conference opponent from the SEC, Big 10, PAC 12, Big 12 or Notre Dame or BYU annually,” he wrote.

As it stands today, Wake Forest has non-conference dates with the likes of Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Tulane, Air Force, Ole Miss, Purdue and North Carolina lined up through 2026. Ah, yes, the North Carolina non-conference series. You remember that, right? Yeah, Wellman told you that you can take your criticisms and your snark for that unorthodox piece of scheduling and shove it.

“The overwhelming feedback from Wake Foresters has been extremely positive, as they want to play UNC as often as possible,” he wrote.

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More games set to be added to postseason bowl platter?

Portland Trail Blazers v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

If you’re of the mindset that the more bowls the better, you might just be in for a treat.  If you’re not?  Well, you might throw up a little bit in your mouth over the following possibility.

ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy is reporting that the cities of Tucson and Little Rock are wanting a piece of the postseason pie, tweeting that both are expected to apply for new bowl games for the 2015 season.  The proposed Tucson game would pit the Mountain West against Conference USA, while the Little Rock matchup would find the AAC squaring off with the Sun Belt.

According to McMurphy, the bowl in Little Rock will likely be televised by either NBC Sports Network or CBS Sports Network.  There is no indication from McMurphy who would televise the other, which will likely be called the Arizona Bowl.

Last year, not counting the College Football Playoff game, there were 38 bowl games.  If these two games are added, it would bring the total to a whopping 41 bowls for the 2015 season — the Cure Bowl in Orlando was announced last April and will debut following the upcoming season.  At that number, a full 65 percent of FBS programs would “earn” a bowl bid.

In 2014, there were 84 teams — counting UAB, which disbanded its football program prior to the start of the postseason — who were bowl-eligible with at least six wins.  That’s enough to fill the spots for 42 bowl games.  The year before that, 82 schools reached the requisite six wins; in 2012, there were only 77 bowl-eligible teams, which means that there could very well be years where not enough teams reach six wins and bowls would have to take a look at 5-7 teams to fill all of the slots.

And, if you’re anti-bowl expansion, that’s enough to make your skin crawl.  But wait, there’s more…

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Harbaugh, staff add ‘guest coach’ stops at Florida, PA, Cali camps

Jim Harbaugh AP

Last week it was reported that Jim Harbaugh was going the way of James Franklin and Brian Kelly, with he and his Michigan coaching staff appearing as guest coaches at football camps in Alabama and Texas.

It appears that Harbaugh’s summer road show won’t be limited to just those two states.  And one of the new additions may not sit very well with one of UM’s Big Ten rivals.

According to mlive.com, Harbaugh & Company are planning on “guest coaching” at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania June 7.  Lafayette is located less than three hours away from Big Ten member Penn State, so that could ruffle the feathers of Franklin and his Nittany Lion associates.

Additionally, Harbaugh will invade Pac-12 country at an undisclosed location in California (June 10) as well as one in Tampa, Florida (June 6).

Finally, the UM staff will make an appearance at a June 8 camp in Houston, Texas.  One day later, they’ll “guest coach” at a previously-announced camp in Dallas.

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Buckeyes tops in combined Final Fours/major bowls in BCS/CFP era

Urban Meyer Billy Donovan

This past weekend, the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was set, with Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Duke punching their tickets to Indianapolis.  While the two Big Ten teams in that foursome bolstered their two-sport résumés, it still wasn’t enough to catch one of its conference rivals.

Since the advent of the Bowl Championship Series for the 1998 college football season, and bleeding into the College Football Playoff established for the 2014 season, Ohio State has played in 11 so-called major bowl games.  Additionally, the hoops version of the Buckeyes has qualified for three Final Fours in that span; that total of 14 BCS/CFP/New Year’s Six/Final Four appearances since the 1998-99 season is the most of any FBS program in general and Power Five conferences specifically.

(Writer’s note: Yes, I’m including the “vacated” Sugar Bowl appearance following the 2010 season.)

Behind OSU is Florida, which has four Final Fours and seven major bowls since the 1998 college football season for a total of 11.  The only other school in double figures is Oklahoma, which comes in with a total of 10 that decidedly favors the gridiron — nine on the football side of the ledger, to be exact.

After that it’s the two B1G teams mentioned in the lede, with MSU totaling nine (seven hoops, two football) and UW eight (three and five).

Speaking of the B1G, a total of six of its current members have pulled off this particular “double-double,” with the others being Michigan (one hoops, five football), Illinois (one, two) and Maryland (two, one).  And in fairness, yes, none of the latter’s came while it was a part of the Big Ten; in fact, all three came while the Terps were members of the ACC..

As far as the rest of the Power Five conferences go, the Big 12 has had five teams pull it off, followed by the ACC with three and the Pac-12 and SEC with two each.

Other than the schools already mentioned, just one other has multiple appearances in the Final Four and major bowls since 1998: Louisville.  The Cardinals have appeared in three Final Fours and two BCS bowl games.  Those appearances came while the U of L was a member of  Conference USA and the Big East.

There has also been exactly one major college that has won a national championship in both basketball and football in this time period: Florida.  And, actually, and more impressively, they won multiple titles in each, with the football Gators laying claim to the crystal following the 2006 and 2008 seasons, and the hoops Gators hoisting the trophy after the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.

Of course, the head coach of Florida for their two football championships is now the head coach at Ohio State, with Urban Meyer adding the first CFP title to his illustrious résumé in his third year with the Buckeyes.

Below is the complete list of 18 teams that have earned a spot in the Final Four and qualified for a major bowl berth since the 1998-1999 season:

Ohio State, 14 (three basketball, 11 football)
Florida, 11 (four, seven)
Oklahoma, 10 (one, nine)
Michigan State, nine (seven, two)
Wisconsin, eight (three, five)
LSU, six (one, five)
Michigan, six (one, five)
Kansas, five (four, one)
Louisville, five (three, two)
Texas, five (one, four)
UCLA, four (three, one)
West Virginia, four (one, three)
Illinois, three (one, two)
Maryland, three (two, one)
Syracuse, three (two, one)
Arizona, two (one, one)
Georgia Tech, two (one, one)
Oklahoma State, two (one, one)

For all of your college hoops needs, hit up CollegeBasketballTalk HERE or follow them on Twitter HERE.  Or do both.  You know you want to.

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Urban on Braxton’s potential violation: ‘Everything is fine. No issue’

Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller AP

It’s been nearly a week since reports surfaced that Ohio State was looking into a potential NCAA violation committed by Braxton Miller.

Since then, OSU has been mum on the issue — until now.  Sort of.

According to a tweet from Todd Porter of the Canton Repository, head coach Urban Meyer was asked about the potential for NCAA issues when it comes to the quarterback’s situation.  At least publicly, Meyer has taken the Lt. Drebin tack and stated, essentially, move on, there’s nothing to see here.

Whether Meyer is correct in his assessment remains to be seen.

As for the issue at hand, a school spokesperson last Wednesday confirmed to The Lantern, OSU’s student newspaper, that the university is looking into a potential NCAA rules violation committed by Miller.  ElevenWarriors.com wrote at the time that “Miller… had a bit of a lapse in judgement [Tuesday] night when he appeared to endorse Advocare, a weight-loss and nutrition multi-level marketing firm that some people consider a pyramid scheme.”

The apparent endorsement came in the form of a post made to Instagram, which was subsequently taken down when the mini-controversy began to grow.

Braxton Miller

Student-athletes are permitted to hold jobs and even be self-employed, which appears to be the case in Miller’s association with the Amway-like AdvoCare group.  However, as Texas A&M compliance director Brad Barnes explained to SBNation‘s Steven Godfrey in an excellent Q&A on the issue, a player’s earnings “may not include any remuneration for value or utility that the student-athlete may have for the employer because of the publicity, reputation, fame or personal following that he or she has obtained because of athletics ability.”

That will be the decision that OSU, and potentially the NCAA, has to make: whether Miller’s Instagram post constitutes using his “reputation, fame or personal following” for financial gain (whether it should be that way is another matter entirely).

Meyer doesn’t seemed concerned at all over the issue, although until the school officially reaches a decision and issues a public statement, it’s a situation that bears watching.

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Sooners indefinitely suspend RB Keith Ford

Keith Ford AP

With rumors and speculation swirling that there was some type of an issue with Keith Ford, Bob Stoops confirmed as much Monday morning.

According to Oklahoma’s Twitter account, the head coach acknowledged that Ford has been indefinitely suspended from the OU football program.  Stoops stated that the running back’s suspension is related to “academic and team rules violations.”

While true sophomore Samaje Perine is certainly the bell cow in the running game, Ford is still an important part of that aspect of the offense.

Last season, Ford’s 392 yards rushing were good for third on the team, while his five rushing touchdowns were tied for second.  The junior added 11 receptions for 140 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

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Cincy QB says racial slurs preceded punch that KOd victim

Cincinnati v Miami Getty Images

Back in late October, backup Cincinnati quarterback Jarred Evans was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge and suspended a short time later, even as head coach Tommy Tuberville said “there’s a good chance he’s not guilty.”

While Tuberville’s player is not denying there was a punch thrown, he is saying there was something that triggered it.

Testifying in court Friday in connection to the charge, Evans alleged that the victim, 20-year-old UC student Ryan Smith, was part of a group of males who began harassing him and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Jennifer Dunlap.  According to Evans, the group, or someone in the group, was directing “n****r lover” comments at him and his girlfriend; Evans is black, his girlfriend is white.  Evans said in his testimony that he tried to ignore the epithets, but the situation ultimately escalated.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Eventually, Evans responded: “I told them, ‘I will f**k all of you up if you come after me.”

Soon after, he testified, one of the men stood in front of them, blocking their path.

“He flinched at me with his hands up,” Evans testified, “and I just reacted with a punch, a jab.”

The individual who was on the receiving end of the jab was Smith, who sustained a concussion and lacerations that required stitches. Smith had previously testified that he wasn’t with the group of men who were harassing Evans and Dunlap. Oddly enough, Dunlap’s roommate, Courtney Gravett, backed up Smith’s account, testifying that the victim was not a part of the harassing group and that she tried to stop Evans from confronting them.

“For no obvious reason,” the Enquirer said Gravett testified, “Evans struck Smith, who had his head down and his hands in his pockets.”

According to the paper, closing arguments and jury deliberations are expected Monday.

Evans, incidentally, remains suspended from the football program.

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Syracuse’s Luke Arciniega granted two additional years of eligibility

Chris James, Luke Arciniega AP

It appears the NCAA was feeling particularly benevolent this past week.

On Instagram Saturday, Syracuse’s Luke Arciniega revealed that he has been granted two additional seasons of eligibility by The Association.  One of the years came from Arciniega missing all but the first four games of the 2014 season due to what was only described as a lower-body injury.  The second year is a bit murkier, although the Syracuse Post-Standard has an idea from where it came.

He finished his career at Spanish Springs (Sparks, Nev.) High School in 2009 before initially attending Nevada. He spent three semesters there, but was only on scholarship for the first year as a disagreement with the coaching staff regarding his concussion history left him on the sideline for each game that first year.

It’s possible that the second season in which Arciniega was not part of the program merited another year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Regardless of where the additional season came from, the NCAA’s decision means that he’ll be eligible to play in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

“College career hasn’t gone as planned with all the injuries but patience and faith [have] kept me on track,” Arciniega wrote on the social media site. “After few months of waiting, found out that I was granted 2 years of eligibility back when I was only hoping for one. Feeling blessed.”

Arciniega came to the Orange in 2013 from the JUCO ranks, playing in all 13 games that initial season.  This offseason, he’s transitioning from linebacker to defensive end.

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Fourth-most votes for Jim Harbaugh in UM student president election

Jim Harbaugh AP

Earlier this month, Nick Saban finished third in the student government’s presidential election.  A couple of weeks later, another high-profile college football coach is making political waves as a write-in candidate.

According to the Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan’s student newspaper, first-year head football coach Jim Harbaugh received 115 votes in the Central Student Government’s election for president.  That equates to 1.26 percent of the vote, which is not bad for a fledgling campaign that was, one, not launched until January of this year and, two, never actually launched to begin with.

And, for those into the comparison thing, Harbaugh’s 115 votes vastly surpassed Saban’s six; what percentage of the vote the latter received is not something that’s at my disposal.  Nor is it something that I’m interested in concretely knowing as it’ll be a lot funnier seeing the B1G/UM fans tout Harbaugh trouncing Saban in unrelated elections.

One of the best parts of Harbaugh’s vote total is the breakdown, which per the Daily is thus: 82 votes for “Jim Harbaugh;” another 18 simply for “Harbaugh;” four for the joint ticket of “Jim Harbaugh and Diag Squirrel;” and one vote each for “Jim Harbaugh and Jabrill Peppers,” “Jim Harbaugh and His Khakis” and “Jim Harbaugh and Jesus Shuttlesworth”. For a primer on the squirrel who was part of the joint ticket, click HERE; for a primer on Jesus Shuttlesworth, click… nah, don’t click anything.  Broaden your horizons as everyone should know that particular basketball Jesus.

(Writer’s note: I have no clue where the other eight unaccounted for votes came from or how they were designated on the ballot.)

UPDATED March 30 at 11:44 a.m. ET: The competitive juices obviously flowing, Jim Harbaugh took to Twitter to not only express his disappointment over the fourth-place finish but to also throw his hat in the ring for the 2016 race.

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Report: Tide WR Cam Sims tore ACL at practice Saturday

Western Carolina v Alabama Getty Images

It’s not been a good couple of days for Alabama football off the field, what with a pair of arrests involving player with previous legal issues.  Now, that storm cloud has drifted into the on-field arena as well.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Matt Zenitz of al.com is reporting that Cam Sims sustained some type of a torn ACL during a spring practice session Saturday.  Given the timing of the injury, Sims could conceivably return at some time around the midway point of the 2015 season, if not slightly sooner.  Or, the true sophomore could take a redshirt.

While the football program has not yet addressed the player’s health and his status for the upcoming season, Sims intimated on Twitter that he has some type of significant issue he needs to overcome.

And, based on one of his retweets, it is indeed an ACL issue he’ll be forced to overcome.

As noted by Zenitz, Sims was being looked upon as a player who could potentially help replace the production lost by the departures of the Tide’s top three receivers.  In 2014, the departed ones, Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones, combined for 183 receptions for 2,495 yards and 21 touchdowns, although Cooper was responsible for roughly two-thirds of that production.

Sims, a four-star member of UA’s 2014 recruiting class, caught seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman.

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Gamecocks offer scholarship to Atlanta-area eighth-grader

Chris Hansen

Hey, if it’s good enough for Nick Saban, Les Miles, Jim Mora and, especially, Lane Kiffin, along with a handful of other FBS head coaches, it’s good enough for the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Continuing a trend in college football that was seemingly patented by Kiffin around 2010 — and Bobby Knight in college basketball two decades before — the stepfather of Dominick Blaylock confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his stepson was offered a scholarship by South Carolina after he attended a Junior Day event at the school Saturday. What makes the offer to Blaylock, the son of former NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock, is that he’s a 14-year-old eighth-grader from the Atlanta area.

Blaylock himself told the Journal-Constitution he was “shocked that when I met the coaches, they went straight to the point with the offer.” And, according to the stepfather, this wasn’t just some whimsical move on the part of the Gamecocks — and that he thinks this is the first offer domino that will tumble in the coming weeks for his 5-11, 165-pound stepson.

“They said this was a firm offer, and they felt like it was important that South Carolina was Dominick’s first offer,” John Woods told the paper.

“I am happy for Dominick. I know there are more eighth-graders getting offered now. It seems like it’s happening with more eighth-graders every year. Dominick got invited to five Junior Days, so I think other offers are coming.”

As creepy as it is FBS programs scoping out kids still in middle school — Blaylock will be a Class of 2019 signee — the Gamecocks, as the stepdad alluded to, certainly aren’t alone in this trend.  And they aren’t alone amongst SEC teams with this specific recruiting interest as the AJC notes that Blaylock has also been invited to visit Florida, Auburn and Alabama this spring.

But this trend goes back much further than just Blaylock.

In February of 2010, Kiffin, then the head coach at USC, offered seventh-grade — seventh!!! — quarterback phenom David Sills a scholarship. Somewhat surprisingly, Sills remained a Trojan commit even through Kiffin’s firing in September of 2013, even attending quarterbacks meetings with coaches at one point, although he ultimately ended up decommitting from USC in June of last year and signing with West Virginia in February of this year.

Kiffin was also involved in a middle-school tug-of-war with cross-town rival UCLA in June of 2013, with both the Trojans and the Bruins offering to California middle schooler and Class of 2017 recruit Nathan Tilford. Both Alabama and LSU, among others, offered 14-year-old 2017 recruit Dylan Moses back in July of 2012 and February of 2013, respectively.

Some of the more recent examples of this (my words) disturbingly upward trend include LSU accepting a commitment from then 14-year-old eighth-grade quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann last year and Florida offering eighth-grader Blake Hinson earlier this month.

And somewhere, even though he’s still alive, Chris Hansen is rolling over in his grave…

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After another arrest, Alabama gives Jonathan Taylor the boot

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

Not so unexpectedly, Alabama’s roster is a little lighter this Sunday afternoon.

In a statement sent out by the school just a short time ago, head coach Nick Saban announced that Jonathan Taylor has been dismissed from his football program.  Taylor was arrested Saturday evening on domestic violence charges.

The defensive lineman was dismissed by Georgia last July after he was arrested on similar charges.

“Jonathan Taylor has been dismissed from the team and is no longer a part of our program,” Saban’s statement began. “This will still need to go through the legal process, but when he was given an opportunity here, it was under strict guidelines and we made it clear there was a zero tolerance policy.”

It was the right move by Saban and, really, the only move he could’ve made.  The fact that he did it so swiftly, though, should not be overlooked — while Saban’s a man all in favor of second chances, don’t screw him over and embarrass him when you’re given what at the time was considered a controversial opportunity.

Taylor did just that, and paid the price for putting his hands on a woman again.  Allegedly.

There’s still no word on the fate of cornerback Geno Smith, who was arrested late Friday night for the second time in less than two years on a drunk-driving charge.

UPDATED 3:03 p.m. ET: Shortly after Taylor’s dismissal was announced, UA athletic director Bill Battle released the following statement:

Representing this University is a privilege that none of us can take for granted. As I noted in my comments when the decision was made to allow Jonathan Taylor to attend the University on a football scholarship, I believe in second chances. I still do. However, being successful in that second chance requires responsibility and accountability. In Jonathan’s situation, the University and the Department of Athletics set forth very clear standards of accountability and expectations of conduct. Jonathan was afforded a chance to successfully overcome the difficulties that resulted in his departure from the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, it appears that he was unable to do so, in spite of extensive efforts to assist him. All of us hope that Jonathan and the young lady involved can deal constructively with the issues that led to this situation, and their aftermath, so that both of them can have productive, healthy futures. Violent conduct by any representative of the University of Alabama athletics department will not be tolerated. More than ever, we take seriously the responsibility that all of us have to represent our University and our state in the best way possible – in competition and in daily life.

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