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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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Venric Mark transfers to (West) Texas A&M

Vanderbilt v Northwestern

A mere 10 days after he and Northwestern “parted ways,” Venric Mark has found a new college football home.

Speaking to ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, Mark confirmed that he will use his final season of eligibility at West Texas A&M.  That was one of two Div. II schools Mark had considered, along with Northwest Missouri State.  He had also considered walking on at Texas Tech.

However, the latter option would’ve required him to file an appeal for a waiver that would grant him immediate eligibility as he’s one class short of graduating.  There were FBS programs willing to file the waiver, “[b]ut I couldn’t gamble with my last year with no guarantees,” Mark told Schad.

Mark, who is already practicing with his new teammates, mentioned Baylor, Texas State, Houston, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, SMU and Kansas as programs he looked into. Whether the interest was reciprocated is unclear.

As for choosing the D-II A&M, Mark said the proximity to his mom and an ailing grandmother proved to be a significant factor.

“This is an hour and half from my Mom. It’s the best fit,” Mark said.

In the middle of last week, it was announced that Mark had abruptly and surprisingly decided to withdraw from classes and transfer from Northwestern for “personal reasons.” That decision came a handful of days after it was announced the running back had been suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Mark, a redshirt senior, missed all but three games in 2013 due to injury and received a medical hardship waiver for the 2014 season.  In 2012, he led the Wildcats in rushing with 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns.

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Bobby Bowden not a fan of the dadgum College Football Playoff

Bobby Bowden AP

A couple of years ago, prior to the formation of the College Football Playoff, Bobby Bowden enthusiastically stated that he would be willing to serve on a hypothetical committee that would hypothetically determine the hypothetical playoff participants.

I would be willing to serve on it,” the Florida State coaching legend said in June of 2012. “I think ex-coaches have a lot of wisdom. I watch the games. And I watch the game films on my iPad.”

Fast-forward 26 months. The CFP is entering its first season, replete with a 13-member committee that will select the four playoff teams at season’s end. Bowden, though, is not a part of it. In fact, there are just three former FBS head coaches (Barry Alvarez, Tom Osborne, Tyrone Whittingham) who will serve on the committee.

Coincidentally enough or not, Bowden is now voicing fear and trepidation over the playoff system as it’s currently constituted.

“I always thought they got one and two right. Really people don’t care about three and four,” Bowden said while attending the kickoff luncheon in Akron, where his son, Terry Bowden, is the Zips head coach. “It’s going to give more teams an opportunity to play for the national championship, but I like it the way it was. I’m not sure it’s going to work. Maybe it will turn out better. …

“Now No. 5 is really upset. No. 5 says we should have been in that dadgum top four. That’s what three said. You get the same debate going on down the line.”

(Writer’s note: I’ve said it before and I’ll continuing beating it into the ground for as long as it takes: it’s progress that we will be arguing over the Nos. 4 and 5 teams instead of the Nos. 2 and 3. Just like it’ll be progress when — not if — the field is expanded to eight teams and we’re arguing over Nos. 8 and 9 and not Nos. 4 and 5.)

Bowden also expressed concern over access for the Non-Power Five conferences — the AAC, Conference USA, MAC (his son’s current conference), MWC and Sun Belt.

“I don’t like that. I liked it where Boise State had a chance, where smaller schools have a chance.” Bowden said. “Now they’re just [favoring] the rich people, the schools that have it all.”

OK, two things Coach Bowden.

One, no Non-Power Five school ever played for the BCS championship, so there’ll be no difference under the new system if it never happens. Two, with the CFP, the highest-ranked Non-Power Five team is guaranteed a spot in a marquee — think old BCS — bowl game. That was not the case under the old system. In fact, during the 16 years of the old system, just seven Non-Power Five teams qualified for a BCS bowl berth. And those came in six seasons (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 (2), 2010, 2012). By the end of the 2021 season, more Non-Power Five teams will have played in CFP bowls in eight years than did in the entire 16-year history of the BCS.

Additionally, the Non-Power Five conferences will receive five times as much in revenue from the CFP than they did from the BCS.

In other words, the financial benefits and access are much greater and better, respectively, in a new vs. old comparison. Yes, it’s not a level playing field; thing is, it never was in the past, won’t be in the present and never will be in the future.

That said, a team like Boise State stands a better chance of winning a national championship now than under the BCS, if for nothing more than the fact that there are four slots open now on the road to a title instead of just two. Bump that field to eight and the little guys can once again be a yearly factor.

The CFP is far from perfect, but it’s a far piece better than the BCS.

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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 6 UCLA

Washington v UCLA Getty Images

2013 record: 10-3 overall, 6-3 in Pac-12 Conference (2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Sun Bowl vs. Virginia Tech (42-12 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 16/No. 16
Head coach: Jim Mora (19-8 overall; 19-8 in three years at UCLA)
Offensive coordinator: Noel Mazzone (3rd year at UCLA)
2013 offensive rankings: 35th rushing offense (196.6 ypg); 43rd passing offense (251.8 ypg); 38th total offense (448.5 ypg); 2oth scoring offense (36.9 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: nine
Defensive coordinator: Jeff Ulbrich (3rd year at UCLA)
2013 defensive rankings: 71st rushing defense (169.5 ypg); 40th passing defense (217.6 ypg);  54th total defense (387.1 ypg); 35th scoring defense (23.2 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: eight
Location: Los Angeles
Stadium: Rose Bowl (92,542; grass)
Last conference title: 1998

THE GOOD
The talent on UCLA’s roster makes the Bruins contenders in the Pac-12 Conference. The play of quarterback Brett Hundley can place the team in national title contention. Hundley is among the Top 3 quarterbacks in college football along with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Like Mariota, Hundley would have a first-round pick in May’s NFL draft if he decided to declare early. But he decided to stay in Westwood. The Bruins will gladly continue to build around their talented quarterback. Hundley is an impressive athlete at 6-3 and 226 pounds. Last season. Hundley threw for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also led the team with 748 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. One of the reasons Hundley returned to UCLA for his redshirt junior campaign is to become a better overall quarterback. Hundley did improve his decision making through the final six games of last season. He only threw one of his nine interceptions after Oct. 26. As Hundley continues to develop his overall game, the Bruins will be the biggest beneficiary. And top-notch quarterback play is a key ingredient for any program ready to make the jump from being good to great.

THE BAD
UCLA head coach Jim Mora is a defensive coach by nature. It had to drive him crazy to see the Bruins play as poorly on defense as they did last seson. The Bruins actually finished fifth overall in the Pac-12 in total defense, but that is more an indictment of the overall defensive play around the league. The country’s 71st overall rushing defense simply isn’t good enough. UCLA wants to be able to compete with any team in the country. And it has to be better on defense. The team relied heavily on two talented freshmen, Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark, along the defensive line last season. Both should naturally improve during their sophomore campaigns. While the team’s starting front is talented, the depth is questionable beyond Ellis McCarthy. Players such as junior Kevin McReynolds, need to provide quality reps as part of the team’s defensive line rotation for them to improve significantly against the run. Isaako Savaiinaea will also be inserted into the starting lineup to replace Jordan Zumwalt at inside linebacker. UCLA knows what to expect of senior linebacker Eric Kendricks, but Savaiinaea’s play could prove to be the difference in the Bruins’ defense as a whole. The Bruins’ progression on the defensive side of the football should be the primary indicator how far the team can go this season.

THE UNKNOWN
UCLA’s offense line was in constant flux in 2013. The team used four different offensive line combinations throughout the season. The team actually changed its starting lineup in six of its last seven games. A lack of continuity up front will have a drastic effect throughout the rest of the offense. While this shouldn’t be a concern which lingers between seasons, the Bruins have already started off on the wrong foot with at least one significant injury along this year’s offensive line. Left tackle Simon Goines will miss at least the first two games of the season after he had bone spurs removed in his ankle Aug. 9. Malcolm Bunche, a Miami transfer, has 13 career starts at left tackle, and he is expected to slide into the spot vacated by Goines. Once Goines returns, the coaching staff will have shuffle the starting lineup. How many times will they have to do so this season? Will Bunche slide inside to guard once Goines is healthy or he remain on the blindside? The fact of the matter is UCLA won’t have their top offensive line on the field until week three of the season with very little practice time as an entire unit. Goines is expected to return just in time for one of the Bruins’ biggest games of the season against Texas. However, he won’t have much time to build a rapport with the rest of the unit. The only ones who will suffer if the offensive can’t gel quickly are Hundley and the rest of UCLA’s skill positions.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Stanford
It’s been six years since UCLA defeated Stanford. To put that time frame into context, the 2008 season was Rick Neuheisel’s first at UCLA. It was Jim Harbaugh‘s second with the Cardinal. Stanford has gone on to become one of the most successful and intimidating teams in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins, meanwhile, have searched for an identity and found one under head coach Jim Mora. This game will be Mora’s opportunity to truly put his stamp on the program. It’s the last game of the regular season. Both UCLA and Stanford are expected to be battling for an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game. Since the game falls on a Friday, both teams will have short practice weeks. The Bruins want to prove they’re among the Pac-12’s elite and a potential national championship contender. Stanford is as tough a team as the Bruins will face all season.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: linebacker/running back Myles Jack
Hundley is the obvious choice here. There is, however, a natural curiosity that will draw college football fans and Heisman voters to Jack. On one hand, Jack is one of the best young linebackers in college football. On the other, he is a dynamic runner when the Bruins decide to hand him the football. Last season, Jack was third on the Bruins’ defense with 49 tackles. He also added seven tackles for loss and 13 deflected passes while dropping in coverage. On offense, Jack led the team with an average of 7.0 yards per carry. He only ran the ball 38 times, yet he was second on the team with seven rushing touchdowns. And Jack accomplished these numbers as a true freshman. The “runningbacker” simply brings a completely different dynamic to both sides of the football. He’ll be expected to make the big play on defense in crucial parts of the game. And the team clearly favors him when they’re around the goal line on offense. The novelty of Jack playing both ways will draw interest from fans around the country. It’s his talent and ability to play at a high level on both sides of the football that will make him a legitimate Heisman contender.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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USC’s Tre Madden a ‘game-time decision’

Tre Madden AP

The latest update on one of USC’s top options in the running game is not a positive one.

Tre Madden has been dealing with a lingering toe injury he suffered early on in summer camp.  Head coach Steve Sarkisian said after practice Thursday that “[w]e’re taking every precautionary action we can to make sure that Tre is great and ready to go when his time is called again.”

Madden’s time doesn’t appear to be the opener against Fresno State in a week as Sarkisian said the running back is “probably a game-time decision.”  The coach’s declaration came after Madden, who has been wearing a walking boot on his right foot, missed yet another practice session.

The player hasn’t practiced with his teammates since a scrimmage Monday night, and visited foot specialists Thursday and Friday in an attempt to speed up the recovery process..

“When you start messing with a running back and his feet or his toes, his ability to push off, they just don’t overnight, all of a sudden, get better,” Sarkisian said. “We’re trying to maximize his rest. We’re trying to keep him off his feet as best we can to get him as healthy as quickly as we can and hopefully have him ready to go for next Saturday.”

The injury bug has dogged Madden throughout his Trojans career.

During the first five games last season, Madden rushed for 583 yards and three touchdowns.  The last eight, three of which he didn’t record a carry as he battled a hamstring issue, Madden totaled just 120 yards and didn’t find the end zone.  His 703 yards were second on the team to the 785 yards for Javorius Allen, who figures to be the Trojans’ bell cow in the running game this year.

During spring practice in 2012, Madden tore an ACL and missed the entire season.

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‘Failure to monitor’ adds two years to GaTech’s probation

Paul Johnson AP

Thank goodness we still have the NCAA on the lookout for the well-being of the sport.

The latest example?  Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “Georgia Tech has been censured by the NCAA for… failure to monitor” because of “a failure to keep records of phone calls and the rogue actions of a former football assistant coach.” That rogue coach is Todd Spence, who left the Yellow Jackets in January of 2012 after serving a one-game suspension for making impermissible phone calls to recruits.

While there was a “rogue coach” involved, it appears an incompetent — and former — compliance director is at the root of the latest NCAA issue.  Well, that and a broken and busted system, but that’s another topic for another day.

The NCAA’s two-year investigation, conducted with Tech’s cooperation, found multiple Level II violations, which are defined as a significant breach of conduct, committed in 2011 and 2012. Many stemmed from coaches on the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams unknowingly making impermissible phone calls to prospects. Coaches told the NCAA that they were acting under the incorrect instruction from a former Tech compliance director that they did not need to do so. Calls were often rendered impermissible due to a failure to follow a call-logging protocol.

In July of 2011, Tech was placed on four year’s probation and forced to vacate its 2009 ACC title in connection to impermissible benefits given to former star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas — and the school’s failure to cooperate with the NCAA investigation. This latest “egregious” act will tack on two more years of probation for Yellow Jacket football, which means the program will be sitting in the corner until the summer of 2017.  The school self-imposed the additional two years of probation.

“That is not something that sits well with me or with any of us here,” GT athletic director Mike Bobinski told the Journal-Constitution regarding the “failure to monitor” reprimand. “That’s not a good-sounding or good-feeling term. It’s not one we want to wear beyond this. As I told you before, it is clearly our intention this the last time we ever go down this road.”

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UofL’s DeVante Parker injures foot, to see specialist; WR tweets ‘I’m fine’

DeVante Parker, Jordan Streeter AP

This one has the potential to be a very significant blow to one of the most talented players in the country.

Late Friday night, Louisville sent out a press release announcing that DeVante Parker had suffered an injury to his left foot earlier in the day.  The release stated that the star wide receiver was examined by UofL team physicians, but will be sent to Charlotte “in the next couple of days” for further evaluation by Dr. Bob Anderson.

Dr. Anderson is a renowned orthopedic surgeon who specializes in ankle and foot injuries.  According to SBNation.com, “Anderson has recently seen and/or operated on Derek Jeter, Matt Schaub, Cam Newton and Julio Jones for their serious ankle or foot injuries.”

For his part, Parker attempted to downplay the growing gloom and doom hovering over Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

That’s all well and good, but a football program doesn’t send their star receiver out of state to see a foot specialist for a stubbed toe or athlete’s foot.

Perhaps the only silver lining in all of the uncertainty swirling around Parker is that, if he is sidelined for any length of time, the receiving corps is arguably the deepest unit the Cardinals have.  Then again, none of them will answer if you call out the name “Devante Parker.”

Last season, the 6-3, 211-pound Parker ended the year with 55 receptions for 885 yards and a school-record-tying 12 touchdowns. The last three years, Parker’s led the UofL in touchdown receptions. The last two, he’s led the team in both receptions and yards as well.

He’s widely regarded as one of the top receivers in the country entering 2014 after eschewing early entry into the NFL draft and returning for his senior season.

Louisville opens the season against Miami on Labor Day.

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NCAA denies Dorial Green-Beckham’s appeal

Dorial Green-Beckham

The fate of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has been decided by the NCAA.

Green-Beckham transferred to Oklahoma in July after Missouri dismissed the talented receiver due to multiple off-the-field incidents. Oklahoma filed an appeal on Green-Beckham’s behalf last week. The NCAA officially denied the appeal Friday.

Oklahoma released a statement after the NCAA announced its decision:

“The University of Oklahoma has learned that the waiver request it entered on behalf of Dorial Green-Beckham has been denied by the NCAA. The University accepts that decision and will continue to provide the appropriate assistance to Dorial, just as it does with other students, in helping him grow personally from the many opportunities available to him at OU.”

Of course the University “accepts that decision.” It shouldn’t even be surprised by the outcome due to recent incidents with other members of its football team.

The tipping point for Green-Beckham at Missouri was an incident where he allegedly pushed a woman down a flight of stairs.

It’s the type of incident the University of Oklahoma publicly stated “takes very seriously its obligation in cases like this…”

The school suspended its leading tackler, Frank Shannon, for the season after sexual assault allegations.  The school did the same to running back Joe Mixon after he allegedly punched a woman in the face and caused four broken bones.

If the Sooners found a loophole — in this case, the run off rule — to allow Green-Beckham to play this season, the school’s actions would have been seen as highly hypocritical. Instead, all three players won’t be allowed to play during the upcoming campaign.

Make no mistake about it — the Sooners were hopeful Green-Beckham could play this season. He’s mega-talent at wide receiver. Instead, the team will have to rely heavily on Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and Derrick Woods.

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Maryland’s leading receiver, senior linebacker arrested

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman - Marshall v Maryland

The Maryland Terrapins may be without the team’s leading receiver from last season and a major contributor on special teams for an undetermined amount of time.

Junior wide receiver Levern Jacobs and senior linebacker Alex Twine were arrested Thursday on charges of second-degree assault. The original charges stem from an April 19 incident.

“We are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more information” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall told the Baltimore Sun‘s Matt Zentiz. “We take these matters very seriously. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Last season, Jacobs led the team with 47 receptions for 640 yards. Although, Jacobs wasn’t expected to start for the Terrapins this season due to Maryland’s depth at wide receiver.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do at the receiver position,” Edsall told InsideMDSports.com’s Josh Stirn at the start of fall camp. “We’ve got to step it up a bit. We’re not looking for receivers that can just catch the ball around here. This isn’t flag football. This isn’t a 7 on 7. We’ve got to have complete receivers. We’ve got to get our receivers to do that and our receivers have got to make sure that they listen to Keenan [McCardell] and do exactly what they ask them to do. If they do that with the talent they have, they can be very good. But we’re not there yet and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Jacobs current predicament will create more opportunities for his younger brother, Tavion Jacobs, who impressed the coaching staff this summer.

Twine, meanwhile, made 12 starts and played in 34 games since becoming a member of the Terrapins. Twine provides critical depth at linebacker while serving as Maryland’s special teams ace.

Due to Edsall’s reaction to the their arrests, both will likely face suspensions from the team.

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Five-star RB plans to stay at Oklahoma

Photo credit: Rivals

Joe Mixon isn’t leaving the University of Oklahoma.

Mixon was suspended from all football activities for a year Monday after the Cleveland County (Oklahoma) District Attorney’s office charged him with one misdemeanor count of an act resulting in gross injury.

The running back maintains his innocence in the matter, and the automatic question asked was whether or not he would remain at the school after its decision.

Mixon emphatically answered the question via twitter.

As part of the suspension, Mixon will not be allowed to participate in team activities and he will be excluded from the team’s roster. But Mixon can remain a student at the university and eligible for financial aid under the “appropriate conditions.”

Mixon’s presence would have been a boost to this year’s backfield. The Sooners, however, are not devoid of talent at running back. Sophomores Keith Ford and Alex Ross will be relied upon this fall, and Mixon will join the team’s stable of running backs in 2015.

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Ohio State’s plan to replace QB Braxton Miller

Urban Meyer

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is the answer to nearly every football question posed in today’s game.

Who did New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick consult to make his team more efficient during practice? Chip Kelly. How did the Oregon Ducks go from a unique team with flashy uniforms to a national title contender? Chip Kelly. Who is turning the NFL upside down with how he approaches every aspect of the game? Chip Kelly.

We could go on and on, but we won’t.

When Ohio State lost Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller for the season after re-injuring his throwing shoulder, head coach Urban Meyer was forced to reconsider his options on offense. The answer was simple. Chip Kelly.

Meyer has always been at the forefront of offensive innovation with his spread offense, but his goal is to be more like Kelly this season.

According to SI.com, the Buckeyes’ staff and players are often overheard saying, “We want to be the Philadelphia Eagles of college football.”

When asked directly whether or not Meyer will increase the team’s offensive tempo, the coach remained noncommittal.

“That’s a good question,” Meyer told SI.com. “That’s also to be determined. We’re prepared more than in the last two years. It’s the third year in the system.”

Traditional thinking says playing fast means an athlete is not thinking about what he’s doing. He’s just reacting. The Buckeyes operating at a faster pace with redshirt freshmen J.T. Barrett at quarterback instead of Miller would seem to be counterintuitive. That’s not actually the case.

While a faster tempo requires quicker decisions from the quarterback position, it also simplifies his reads and wears down defenses that can’t substitute and forces them into basic schemes.

Barrett has yet to be officially named the team’s starter, but he worked his way to No. 2 on the depth chart prior to Miller re-injuring his shoulder. Barrett he may be the perfect quarterback to play in this style of offense even if he’s not as physically talented as Miller.

“The best quarterbacks are great distributors, and I watch Peyton Manning and I’m in awe of the way he distributes the ball,” Meyer told ESPN.com‘s Austin Ward. “I thought (former Ohio State quarterback) Kenny Guiton was one of the best I’ve been around as far as getting the ball out quickly and distributing to playmakers and letting them run with the ball, let them make plays. That’s what my initial evaluation of J.T. is, he’s very good at that.”

Meyer should be able to devise an offense to get the ball out of Barrett’s hand quickly and allow the play makers around the quarterback to take over the game.

“In my 10 years here, this is the most explosive offensive talent, depth wise, that we’ve ever had,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told SI.com. “The 2006 team had a lot of offensive weapons. But depth wise, you just have to get the ball to the players and get out of the way.”

Kelly would certainly approve of this approach.

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ACC coach: Half league’s teams don’t have player that can start for FSU

Jimbo Fisher

How talented is Florida State’s team?

It’s talented enough to help build an inferiority complex around the rest of the ACC.

“According to one ACC coach, FSU is so stocked with talent across its depth chart that he believes about half the league’s teams do not have one player who would start for Florida State this year based on what he’s seen on film,” Bruce Feldman and Pete Thamel of FoxSports.com reported.

The Seminoles are absolutely loaded on both sides of the football. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jameis Winston, is back for his redshirt sophomore season. The team also returns eight players named to one of the All-ACC teams in 2013. And the 11 starters Florida State has to replace from last year’s squad will be filled with former highly-touted recruits that simply need an opportunity to showcase their talent.

The unnamed coach was right about half the league. A quick look at the preseason All-ACC team proves his point. Players from seven teams other than Florida State were bestowed with the honor.

Teams that didn’t have a representative were the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Pittsburgh Panthers, Virginia Cavaliers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Arguments could be made for Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd, North Carolina linebacker Norkeithus Otis, Virginia safety Anthony Harris and Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson but the coach’s point still stands.

The underlying theme of the comment is simple. Florida State will be favored to win every game it plays this season, and only one or two teams in the ACC even have a chance to upset the Seminoles as they attempt a second run to the national championship game.

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Brady Hoke: ‘I feel terrible for Braxton Miller’

Ohio State v Michigan Getty Images

I don’t know that I’ve ever done this before — well, maybe once or twice — but I’m going to utilize a reader’s comment in a post.  Specifically, an unnamed reader’s comment in the post from yesterday on Mark Dantonio‘s reaction to Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller‘s season-ending shoulder injury:

The real question would be Hoke’s reaction to this. I’m sure he wouldn’t take the high road about the injury.

Of course, that was, even for one of our readers, an absurd assumption to make. Head coaches simply don’t and wouldn’t do that, especially publicly.  In fact, in my experience, the vast majority of coaches care about players and their well-being whether they’re on their own team or on the opposing sideline.

Case in point? The object of the commenter’s attempted barb, Brady Hoke.

“I feel terrible for Braxton Miller and his family,” the Michigan head coach said during a radio interview Friday morning by way of mlive.com. “He’s been a class act any time I’ve been around him.

You never want a kid to get hurt.”

In other words, Hoke is a human being and reacted the exact way everyone — well, most everyone — thought he would: with class and genuine empathy.  One of the greatest rivalries on the field, The Game more times than not gives way to humanity off of it.

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Syracuse’s starting TE out for up to a month

Syracuse v Maryland

At least now there’s some sort of timeline for the return of a key piece of Syracuse’s offensive puzzle, even if it is a little vague.

Earlier this week, head coach Scott Shafer confirmed that starting tight end Josh Parris will be sidelined for a period of 2-4 weeks.  Parris underwent surgery Wednesday to repair what was only described as a lower-body injury.

At bare minimum, Parris will miss the opener against Villanova (Aug. 29).  The earliest Parris will return is the next game against Central Michigan (Sept. 13), although that falls within the long end of the timeline.  The Sept. 20 game against Maryland would appear to be a safe bet for a return if he hasn’t already.

Parris caught 13 passes for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2013. The 6-2, 252-pound redshirt sophomore would’ve entered the 2014 season as the Orange’s starting tight end.

Instead, some combination of sophomore Kendall Moore, freshman Jamal Custis and redshirt freshman Tyler Provo will attempt to hold down the job during Parris’ absence.

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UW Huskies to go with Jeff Lindquist at QB in opener

Boise State v Washington Getty Images

With Cyler Miles suspended for the opener, Washington knew it would go with someone other than the offseason favorite for the job in the first game of the year.  Now, we officially know the identity of that someone.

According to head coach Chris Petersen, sophomore Jeff Lindquist will get the nod at quarterback for the Aug. 30 season opener against Hawaii.  Petersen opted for Lindquist over redshirt freshman Troy Williams.

According to Petersen, fewer mistakes from Lindquist compared to his compatriot was the biggest factor in the decision.  Neither of the two main players for what’s expected to be a temporary assignment has thrown a pass at the collegiate level.

Petersen did add that Miles will be a factor for the job once he serves the suspension.

Miles was allegedly involved in a pair of assaults in early February, suspended from the team but never charged.  He was reinstated in mid-May, prior to his one-game suspension being announced two months later.

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Report: McEvoy, not Stave, to start for Badgers vs. LSU

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This one probably qualifies as the biggest surprise in all of the quarterback competitions waged throughout various summer camps this month.

Citing three sources, Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Tanner McEvoy will start at quarterback in Wisconsin’s season opener against LSU in Houston.  McEvoy and the incumbent, Joel Stave, have been fighting for the starting job throughout spring practice and on into camp.

Stave started all 13 games for the Badgers last season, while the 6-6, 222-pound McEvoy was moved to safety — played in 10 games, started three — before returning to quarterback in the spring.  Stave is the dictionary-definition of a pocket-passer, while McEvoy possess the ability to beat a team with both his arm and his legs.  It was likely that dual-threat ability that played a significant role in the reported decision.

If the report comes to fruition — UW coaches have been very tight-lipped about the starter and don’t plan on announcing one prior to the opener — it would continue what’s been a very strange football odyssey for McEvoy.

In early August of 2012, South Carolina announced that McEvoy had decided to transfer from the Gamecocks.  The announcement came a week or so after the player was arrested on alcohol-related charges.

After spending the 2012 season at the JUCO level, McEvoy signed with Wisconsin in February of 2013.  Prior to being moved to the other side of the ball, McEvoy was the victim of an on-campus mugging last July.

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