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The Fifth Quarter: Week 4 Rewind

Kansas State v Texas 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

Mack’s back?
At least for the time being, the Longhorn Nation mob can put away its pitchforks and torches.  After a week that saw even more speculation about his job and the confirmation of rumors that Texas was indeed very interested in Nick Saban, Mack Brown was staring square in the face of Texas’ first 1-3 start since 1954.  Instead, the Longhorn players stepped above the ineptness of the past couple of weeks and moved to 2-2 with a 31-21 win over Kansas State.  Whether it was the increased heat on their coach or just the fact that the Wildcats aren’t that good, the players seemed to play with a spark, an enthusiasm, a sense of urgency that hasn’t been seen at all in 2013  Certainly one win doesn’t change all that’s gone wrong over the past three-plus years, and K-State 2013 is not the K-State of recent years, but it’s definitely a baby step in the right direction.

Hilluva football player
Forget about whether or not Jeremy Hill should even be on a football field; that’s another argument for another day.  When he is on the playing surface, the LSU running back is one helluva football player.  Hill rushed for a career-high 151 yards… and then headed back onto the field for the start of the third quarter.  Hill finished with 183 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 35-21 win over previously unbeaten Auburn.  The Bayou Bengals certainly have a stable full of high-quality runners, but Hill is clearly the class of the backfield and will continue to serve as an important piece of the offensive puzzle as LSU continues its run toward what should be another epic showdown with Alabama.

Johnny be good at football
If someone other than Johnny Manziel is going to win the 2013 Heisman, they’re going to have to rip it from his cold, dead hands.  Or something.  In less than three-and-a-half quarters of playing time against SMU, Manziel passed for 244 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another 102 and two more scores.  Through four games this season, Manziel has accounted for 1,483 yards of total offense (1,228 passing, 255 rushing) and 15 touchdowns; in the first four games of the 2012 season, the numbers were 1,460 (1,094 passing, 466 rushing) and 16 touchdowns.  Whether or not voters, given the Texas A&M’s rocky offseason, give him serious consideration again this December remains to be seen.  Based on his play on the field this year, though, he damn well should be given just that.

Arizona State v StanfordCardinal rules
Stanford got off to a rather ho-hum start to the 2013 season, beating San Jose State by 21 in the opener and then getting by Army by 14 in Week 2.  In its first true test of the year, however, Stanford got back to real Cardinal football in building up a 29-0 halftime lead before pushing it to 39-7 and ultimately cruising, relatively speaking, to a 42-28 win over No. 23 Arizona State.  As is ofttimes the case, the Cardinal did most of their damage on the ground in rushing for a season-high 238 yards, with three of their touchdowns on the day coming on the ground.  Stanford is nothing if not consistent as they’ve rushed for 197, 205 and now 238 yards in their first three games.  We’re still six weeks away from their colossal showdown with Oregon down on The Farm, and yes Stanford allowed ASU to make it closer than what it could’ve/should’ve been, but it appears the trajectory of both the Cardinal and the Ducks is pointing straight toward an instant classic.

Plow on, Badgers
If anyone thought Wisconsin would turn its back on its running ways under Gary Andersen, you couldn’t have been more wrong.  In the Badgers’ 41-10 win over Purdue in their Big Ten opener, UW ran for 388 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry.  UW came into the game fifth in the country averaging 337 yards per game, rushing for 393 and 387 yards in the first two games under Andersen; their low-water mark for the season has been 210 in the controversial loss to Arizona State last weekend.  The Badgers are now averaging eight yards per carry, a figure that’s third in the country behind a pair of teams that are in an offensive league of their own: Oregon (9.3) and Baylor (9.2).

Non-offensive fireworks
Iowa put up a season-high 59 points on the board in a romp over Western Michigan, and the offense was responsible for just 31 of them.  B.J. Lowery returned two interceptions for a touchdown, becoming the first player in Hawkeye history to perform that feat.  Not to be outdone, Kevonte Martin-Manley became the first Iowa player ever to return two punts for a touchdown in a single game.  Martin-Manley is just the third player in the long history of the Big Ten to do that.  Iowa is now 3-1 on the year, the fifth time in the last six seasons it has started a season at 3-1 or better.

Spunky punter
We here at CFT don’t normally refer to punters as “real” football players.  San Jose State’s Harrison Waid, though, might consider such a label fightin’ words… literally.  Waid took exception to being blocked by a Minnesota player following one of his punts and, in very non-punter-like fashion, went after the Gopher that laid him out.  While the SJSU coaching staff likely appreciated the fire shown by Waid, they probably didn’t like the fact that he was ejected from the game as a result of what was closer to a cat fight than actual fisticuffs.

BCS buster still alive
Thanks to losses through the first three weeks of the 2013 season by, among others, Boise State and Utah State, Fresno State was looking like the lone non-AQ school left that could crash the BCS’ postseason party.  The hopes of BCS busters across the country were looking even more dire Friday night as the Bulldogs sat at their own 13-yard line with just over seven minutes left and trailing the Broncos by six.  Five minutes and 87 yards later, Fresno State put a game-winning touchdown on the board that kept their perfect record — and BCS hopes — intact.  While there are still potential stumbling blocks along the way, such as back-to-back games against San Diego State and Nevada in a month as well as a possible conference championship game appearance — rematch with Boise? — Fresno State is looking like as good a bet as any of the non-AQ schools to finish the season unbeaten and put themselves in a position for a BCS bowl bid.

LOSERS

The Devin’s in the detailsMichigan v Connecticut
Devin Gardner has been in a very giving mood of late for Michigan.  Off the field, that’s a positive; on it, it’s a decidedly negative trait.  Through four games this season, the Wolverines’ starting quarterback has thrown eight interceptions in 92 attempts, including two more against UConn.  Last season, in his first year as a starter, Gardner tossed five picks in 126 attempts.  Gardner also coughed up a fumble early in the third quarter, one that was returned for a touchdown in the too-close-for-comfort win over the winless Huskies.  A bye week could be coming at the perfect time for UM in general and Gardner specifically.  As a team, the Wolverines must clean-up whatever has gone wrong in two very unimpressive and uninspiring wins the past two weeks.  As a player, Gardner needs to some how, some way extract his cranium from his rectum and start playing smart football, especially with the start of Big Ten play on the horizon.

This could leave a mark
Miami had little problem in dispatching heavy underdog Savannah State, but the cupcake win could have come at a steep cost.  In the middle of the first quarter, starting quarterback Stephen Morris suffered what was initially described as a lower-leg injury.  Morris did not return to the game, and it was later revealed that the initial diagnosis is a sprained ankle.  It’ unclear if that would be the dreaded high-ankle type of sprain, although head coach Al Golden sounded decidedly optimistic in his postgame talk.  What’s also unclear is whether Morris will be available for the USF game next week or, more importantly, the ACC opener against Georgia Tech the week after.  The only good news for the ‘Canes if Morris were to miss any playing time is that they have an experienced backup in Ryan Williams.

DOH!gorsen
What in the name of Red Bull shooters is going on in Morgantown?  While the Mountaineers started 2013 2-1, their two wins came against FCS programs, while they scored just seven points in a loss to Oklahoma.  That downward offensive trend spiraled further out of control after WVU was shutout in an embarrassing 37-point road loss to Maryland.  It was the first time a Mountaineers team had been shutout since 2001, Rich Rodriguez‘s first season at WVU.  The Mountaineers recorded the same number of turnovers (six) as first downs, and they completed a grand total of one pass to a wide receiver.  Yes, replacing a quarterback like Geno Smith and a playmaker like Tavon Austin is a tall task, but there’s no excuse for a Dana Holgorsen-coached team to get shut out.  It may not be on the national radar quite yet, but the howls from the locals around me here in the middle of WV calling for Holgorsen’s head are growing in frequency and intensity.  Holgorsen’s built his reputation on offense; his players had better start playing up to that résumé.

Marshall, Marshall, Marshall
Staying in God’s Country, what could have been for Doc Holliday‘s football program.  A pass that could’ve went the other way for a pick-six instead slipped through the hands of a Marshall defender and into the arms of a Virginia Tech receiver, tying the game at 21-all with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter.  After Tech missed a pair of field goal attempts in the first two overtimes — and after the Herd had one of its FGs blocked in the second overtime — the Herd was in position to tie the game in the third overtime — the Hokies had scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion on their third possession of extra time — only to watch a blatant pass interference in the end zone go uncalled.  Add it all up and it was a heartbreaking 29-21, triple-overtime loss for the 2-2 Herd… and a huge escape for a very average Hokies football team.

Florida International v LouisvilleFIUBAR
In December of this year, FIU stunned most college football observers by firing head coach Mario Cristobal.  At the time, athletic director Pete Garcia defended the indefensible by claiming the program had “gone backwards over the last year and a half.”  So, how have the Panthers fared in their first season under new head coach Ron Turner?  FIU has lost their first four games by a combined score of 187-23, including the 72-0 whipping Saturday at the hands of Louisville.  Even more embarrassing for the Panthers is the fact that the officiating crew ordered a running clock in the second half in an effort to speed up the embarrassment.  Excellent work, Mr. Garcia.  You’ve turned around this FBS football program in much the same way you and Butch Davis turned around my Cleveland Browns early last decade.  You should be proud.

$avannah $tate
Over the past two seasons, Savannah State has been 60-point-plus underdogs to three FBS teams: Miami (Sept. 21, 2013), Oklahoma State (Sept. 1, 2012) and Florida State (Sept. 8, 2012).  The FCS program lost those three games by a combined score of 216-7… and that was with the FSU game featuring a running clock in the second half and weather ending the game in the third quarter as well as the Miami game Saturday having the fourth quarter shortened to 12 minutes.  For that trio of eviscerations, Savannah State added $1.235 million to its athletic department’s coffers; in 2010-11, the department’s total athletic budget across all sports was $5.1 million.  Sometimes when you lose, get a beatdown even, you win and win big.

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

– No. 3 Clemson 26, North Carolina State: Thanks to some very questionable officiating, the Tigers were able to get out of Raleigh with its fourth consecutive win to start the 2013 season.

– No. 9 Georgia 45, North Texas 21: The Bulldogs may have won going away thanks to ripping off 24 unanswered points, but they were actually tied with the Conference USA program at 21-all midway through the third quarter.

– No. 15 Michigan 24, UConn 21 — For the second straight week, the Wolverines not only allowed an inferior opponent hang with them, they were actually outplay for the better part of 60 minutes.  UM may be unbeaten at 4-0, but it’s as wobbly a 4-0 that you’ll ever see.

– No. 19 Northwestern 35, Maine 21: You beat an FCS team, even a previously unbeaten one like the Black Bears, by a mere two touchdowns when you’re ranked inside the Top 25, you deserve a mention for escaping.

– No. 22 Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13: Were it not for an inexplicable trick play late in the third quarter by the Spartans, the Irish could’ve very easily been on the receiving end of its second loss of the season.

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.Colorado State v Alabama

1. Alabama — Call it a letdown coming off a huge win last week or having some pity on a former coordinator, but the Tide looked rather meh-ish in the 25-point win over Colorado State in their home opener.  Expect a much different Tide team as it faces a ranked SEC foe. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. No. 21 Ole Miss

2. Oregon — Despite a bye week, I believe the Ducks still somehow managed to put up 56 points with just 15 minutes of time of possession. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up:  vs. Cal

3. Clemson — You could feel and almost see the Clemsoning hanging in the Raleigh air Thursday night, but it never transpired.  Is this year different for the Tigers?  It’s certainly looking that way and holy hell I just jinxed it. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Wake Forest

4. Ohio State — After four wins over creampuffs by an average score of 52-15, the Buckeyes have seen the preseason officially come to an end and will face its first real test of the regular season by opening up Big Ten play at home next Saturday. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. No. 24 Wisconsin

5. Stanford — I was very tempted to put LSU here following their win over previously-unbeaten Auburn, but the Cardinal’s win over an unbeaten and ranked Arizona State was enough to trump that in my mind. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at Washington State

(Dropped out: No. 5 Louisville)

HE SAID IT
“I can talk about our crowd today for probably an hour in terms of the energy that they brought to the game, getting in there at an earlier time I think than we usually do; staying even when the game seemed very hard at times, and as disruptive a crowd as we’ve had here probably since the 2006 Louisville game. It was deafening loud.” — Kyle Flood, following Rutgers’ come-from-behind win over Arkansas.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Obviously, I appreciate our fans. I’ve said it and I’ll say it again. We have great fans. I think everybody involved knows that what came out is not indicative of how I felt or how I feel about them. I think our fans understand that. They’re great fans. They’ve been around me for five years. I think they know who I am as a person.” — Bo Pelini, following a rather rough week for him and his Nebraska football program.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“That was a bizarre game.” — David Cutcliffe, after watching his Duke team lose a 58-55 first-round ACC hoops tourney game to Pittsburgh.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“We exposed them at times.” — Earnest Wilson III, after watching his Savannah State team get shellacked 77-7 by Miami.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
“If not, a stiff dew was out there.” — The LSU head coach’s response to someone who asked him if it rained in Tiger Stadium.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK
As a loyal follower of everything and anything Duck Dynasty, I’m fascinated by how far the reach of that family-centric show has grown over the past year.  The latest example?  In the run-up to their game against Louisiana-Monroe — Duck Dynasty‘s Robertson clan hails from West Monroe La., with the elder statesman Phil a former starting quarterback at Louisiana Tech — Baylor posted the following photo on their Twitter account earlier this week:

Baylor Duck Dynasty

RGIII and Art Briles — looking eerily and creepily similar to Uncle Si sans eyeglasses, incidentally — sporting a flowing and glorious redneck face mullet?  Outstanding work, Baylor.  Outstanding.

SAY WHAT?
College football teams one-upping each other when it comes to helmet designs has officially jumped the shark.  Here’s a photo (via the Roanoke TimesAndy Bitter) of a future Virginia Tech helmet that’s currently in the design stage:

Virginia Tech Helmet Design

There’s no word yet on if the Flintstones and/or the Rubbles will serve as the honorary captains when/if those things debut.

TRUE STORY
Ohio State’s 76 points in the Week 4 scrimmage against FAMU were the most for the Buckeyes since an 83-21 win over Iowa in 1950.  The 76-point margin of victory was the largest for an OSU since downing Drake, 85-7, in 1935.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– Through four weeks, there are 29 teams at the FBS level with perfect records, with six of them coming from the Pac-12 and four each from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC.  Missouri, incidentally, is the lone SEC East team with no losses.  On the opposite end, 14 teams have yet to win a game.  Three of those hail from the American Athletic Conference: Temple, UConn and USF.  Iowa State is the only team from the so-called Big Five conferences that’s yet to win a game.

Pittsburgh v DukeTom Savage‘s six touchdown passes in Pittsburgh’s wild 58-55 win over Duke was the most for a Panthers’ quarterback since Tyler Palko tossed five way back in 2004 and tied an ACC record.  It was also the most since Pete Gonzalez set a school record with seven in 1997.  The 113 points scored by both teams was the highest total ever in a game involving Pitt.

– The 98-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Reggie Davis in the win over North Texas was not only the 100th of Murray’s career, but it was also the longest pass play in Georgia history.  It’s also tied for the third-longest passing touchdown in SEC history.  Murray’s 445 yards of offense — 408 passing, 37 rushing — moved the senior to No. 3 on the all-time SEC list for total offense with 11,352 yards.

Kenny Guiton set a single-game Ohio State record with six touchdown passes, and the senior did that in just the first two quarters.  It was the first time an OSU quarterback had thrown at least five scoring passes in a single game since Bobby Hoying in 1995.  Guiton has now tossed 10 touchdown passes the past two weeks; he had five career touchdown passes prior to his first career start against Cal last Saturday.

Derek Carr‘s 460 yards passing in Fresno State’s 41-40 win over Boise State Friday night was the fifth 400-yard-plus performance of his career, setting both the school and Mountain West records in the process.

– Nebraska’s Stanley-Jean Baptiste has intercepted a pass in four straight games, becoming the first Cornhusker player since Josh Bullocks in 2003 to accomplish that feat.  Baptiste’s 140 return yards on his picks are 47 shy of NU’s single-season record.

– In a losing effort to Minnesota, San Jose State’s David Fales threw for 439 yards and three TDs.  He had 296 in the first half alone.

–BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is completing just 35.1 percent (40-114) of his passes this season.   An 18-of-48 performance in the loss to Utah actually upped his completion percentage by nearly two percent.

– This is just weird: Alabama did not convert its first third-down try until there were three minutes left in the fourth quarter of their 31-6 win over Colorado State.  Up to that point, the Tide had been 0-8 on third down.

– Baylor is the first FBS team since Ohio State in 1996 to score 70-plus points in back-to-back games.  Baylor has scored 209 points through three games, the most to start a season at this level in the past 10 years.  They are also the first FBS/Div. 1-A team to score at least 60 points the first three games of the season since LSU in 1930.

– Unbelievably, Texas’ win over Kansas State was its first over the Wildcats since Oct. 3 of 2003.De'Onte Arnett

– Maryland has started a season 4-0 for the first time since 2001.  The Terps had won a total of six games in Randy Edsall‘s first two seasons at the school.

– Including the 17-14 loss to USC Saturday, Utah State’s last five losses have been by a combined total of 13 points.

– UCLA’s 692 yards of total offense in the 59-13 win over New Mexico State was a new school record.

– Kansas’ 13-10 home win over Louisiana Tech on a field goal as time expired was the Jayhawks’ first over an FBS team since Sept. 10, 2011, a streak of 21 straight games.  KU has not beaten a member of an AQ conference since dropping Colorado in November of 2010.  That was also the Jayhawks’ last Big 12 win; they haven’t beaten a current member of the Big 12, however, since defeating Iowa State in October of 2009.

– In its 35-point win over Tulane, Syracuse’s special teams blocked three kicks — two punts and a field goal attempt — and recovered a fumbled punt.

– In the first half of their pasting of Florida A&M, Ohio State ran 47 plays and scored 55 points; FAMU had fewer yards of total offense (54) than the Buckeyes had points, and was able to manage just a single first down in the first two quarters.  OSU was leading the FCS Rattlers 48-0 before FAMU was able to muster its initial first down.

– Minnesota totaled 14 rushing touchdowns in 12 games last season; after six in the 43-17 win over San Jose State, the Gophers have 16 rushing touchdowns in four games this season.

– Prior to their loss to Clemson Thursday night, North Carolina State had beaten the last three teams ranked inside the Top 20 that had ventured into Carter-Finley Stadium: No. 3 Florida State (17-16 on Oct. 6, 2012), No. 7 Clemson (37-13 on Nov. 19, 2011) and No. 16 FSU (28-24 on Oct. 28, 2010).

– The game against Rutgers in Piscataway Saturday was Arkansas’ first in the Northeast since 1940, a 27-7 loss to Fordham.

– Cincinnati and Miami (OH) were scoreless through more than 55 minutes of clock time before the Bearcats scored two touchdowns in the last 4:55 to claim the non-conference win.

Lee Corso BisonIN CLOSING…
Yes, it spoke volumes about the level of games across the country, but kudos to not only ESPN for taking their College GameDay show on the road to Fargo, but to the thousands of Fargoites in attendance who created such a tremendous atmosphere for a national television audience.  It was a great scene and great exposure for an FCS program like North Dakota State, which remains unbeaten and is coming off back-to-back national championships.  Well done by everyone involved.  Hopefully it won’t take another five years to get back to a lower-level campus.

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Vols’ WR Josh Smith to miss second straight game

Tennessee v Alabama Getty Images

For the second consecutive game, Tennessee’s receiving corps won’t be at full strength.

Ahead of Saturday’s game against Florida, Josh Smith has already been ruled out because of the dreaded high-ankle sprain.  Smith originally suffered the injury in the Oklahoma loss and didn’t play in the loss to Georgia.

It has previously been reported that Smith could miss up to six weeks, which would sideline him until the Nov. 1 game against South Carolina.

Through three games, Smith was second on the team in catches (10) and receiving yards (135).  He’s still tied for second in the latter category and tied for fourth in the former.

Another receiver dealing with a high-ankle sprain, Von Pearson, “practice a little bit” Tuesday.  His status for the Gator game is up in the air.

Pearson, who has seven catches for 98 yards in two games, has already missed the Oklahoma and Georgia games.

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Michigan not expected to face B1G sanctions

Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison AP

The Shane Morris flap may ultimately play a role on some level in the firing of Brady Hoke, or even his boss, but Michigan’s not expected to garner any punitive action from its conference.

A Big Ten spokesperson confirmed to mlive.com that commissioner Jim Delany, the website wrote, “has been in contact with the university athletic department regarding the football program’s shortcomings in dealing with Morris’ concussion.” Hoke and AD Dave Brandon specifically and the football program and athletic department in general have come under fire ever since the quarterback was put back into the Minnesota game shortly after he sustained what was later determined to be a concussion.

In a statement Tuesday evening, UM president Mark Schlissel admitted that the university “did not get this right and for this I apologize to Shane, his family, his teammates, and the entire Michigan family.”

That said, it doesn’t appear there will be any type of sanctions forthcoming from the conference.

According to [Big Ten associate commissioner of communications Scott] Chipman, no review process exists that enables the league to issue any penalty upon the athletic department or football program.

While the individuals involved have come under significant scrutiny, Hoke has at least one defender in former Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson.

Tuesday night, nearly a 1,000 protesters marched on Schlissel’s home calling for the firing of Brandon.  One UM fan, a law school student, was seen holding a “Fire Brandon” sign while wearing an Ohio State sweatshirt.  Schlissel had released his statement approximately a half-hour before the demonstration landed on his front lawn.

On the other hand, UM’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee — an organization representing all 931 of the school’s student-athletes — issued a statement of support for Brandon.

“As student-athletes, we are confident that each member of the Athletic Department acts with our best interests in mind,” the statement read in part. “We applaud Dave Brandon for upholding the tradition and values of Michigan to the highest standard, encouraging us to be leaders and best in all aspects of life. As such, we fully support our Athletic Director and trust his ability to make decisions for our success and wellbeing.”

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Memphis’ leading rusher lost to season-ending injury

Doroland Dorceus AP

If Memphis is going to make any noise in AAC play this season, it’ll have to do so without the most productive member of its rushing attack.

At his regular Monday press conference, Justin Fuente confirmed the Tigers’ worst fears: running back Doroland Dorceus “will not be with us for the rest of the season.” Dorceus sustained an injury to his right leg in the second quarter of this past weekend’s 24-3 loss to Ole Miss.

Dorceus would not specify the exact nature of the injury, although the speculation is that it’s an ACL issue.

Through four games, Dorceus leads the Tigers with 237 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

With Dorceus sidelined for the final eight games, a heavy portion of the ground game load is expected to fall onto the shoulders of the starter and one of his main backups. Brandon Hayes, who’s started all four games this season, is second on the team with 197 yards, but averages just 4.6 yards per carry, while Jarvis Cooper is third with 130 yards on just 15 carries.

Hayes led the Tigers in 2013 with 860 yards and five touchdowns.

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Thanks to USC’s ‘questionable’ tactics, Beavers down a pair of DTs

Cody Kessler, Jalen Grimble

At Miami, the offensive right tackles have taken a hit.  For Oregon State, it’s the position on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage.

Jalen Grimble, the starter at left defensive tackle for the Beavers, sustained a knee injury in the loss to USC this past Saturday.  Grimble is scheduled to undergo surgery next Monday to repair the damage and will be sidelined for a period of 3-4 weeks.

Because of a bye after this Saturday’s game, he could miss just the Colorado (Oct. 4) and Utah (Oct. 16) contests.  If he’s out the full four weeks, he could miss the Oct. 25 Stanford game as well.

The news is not so good for Grimble’s backup, however.

Noke Tago incurred a knee injury in the same game as the starter. Unfortunately, it appears his injury is more serious as defensive coordinator Mark Banker stated it’s likely Tago will be lost for the remainder of the season.

Both of the injuries occurred on chop blocks that weren’t called penalties against the Trojans. USC’s technique was called into question by Banker.

“You don’t know if it was done on purpose or not,” Banker said, “but I just think the technique was questionable. …

“I just hope it wasn’t intended to be an injury.”

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Only a setback will keep UGA’s Malcolm Mitchell from making 2014 debut Sat.

Georgia v Florida Getty Images

Finally, after weeks of speculation and false starts, one of the most talented and experienced members of Georgia’s receiving corps is set to return.  Probably.

Head coach Mark Richt said Tuesday that Malcolm Mitchellwould have to have a setback to not play” in Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. The wide receiver has been sidelined since undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean up some cartilage damage in mid-August.

He’s missed all of UGA’s four games this season.

This latest health issue, which occurred running routes during summer workouts and dragged on far longer than originally anticipated, continues what’s been a long line of injury setbacks for Mitchell, particularly as it relates to the knees.

Mitchell suffered a torn ACL — celebrating a touchdown, no less — in the season-opening loss to Clemson last year.  He was cleared and had been participating — in non-contact fashion — in UGA’s spring practice earlier this year before another leg injury in the first session knocked him out for the remainder of the spring.

Prior to that, he suffered a torn meniscus and had his knee ‘scoped in April of 2013.  But wait, there’s more: he didn’t play in the 2012 opener because of an ankle injury, with a hamstring issue costing him three games the year before.

When healthy, Mitchell is productive, as evidenced by his career totals of 85 catches for 1,237 yards and eight touchdowns.  It’s also evidenced by the fact that, despite missing essentially the entire 2013 season, he was named second-team All-SEC over the summer.

Mitchell’s return is not the only positive receiving news for the Bulldogs as Justin Scott-Wesley is expected to make his 2014 debut against Vandy as well.  In October of last year, Scott-Wesley suffered a torn ACL.  At the time of the injury, he was UGA’s second-leading receiver with 16 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

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Miami down top two right tackles vs. Georgia Tech

Taylor Gadbois

When Miami takes the field for its next game, the Hurricanes will have a rather significant issue on the right side of the offensive line.

Tuesday, Al Golden confirmed that both Taylor Gadbois and Kc McDermott will not play in this Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech because of injury. Both linemen suffered left knee injuries in the win over Duke in Week 5.

Gadbois is the ‘Canes’ starting right tackle, while McDermott is his backup. Some combination of Trevor Darling, Hunter Wells and Sunny Odogwu will take that twosome’s place.

After playing in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2013, Gadbois had started the first five games this year.  McDermott played in three games as a true freshman last year.

(Photo credit: Miami athletics)

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Reports: key LSU DB lost for season with torn ACL

Dwayne Thomas, Dak Prescott

It appears LSU won’t have a key piece of its secondary puzzle at its disposal moving forward.

Both the Baton Rouge Advocate and the New Orleans Times-Picayune have reported over the past 24 hours that Dwayne Thomas has a torn ACL and, as a result, will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.  The defensive back suffered the injury in the second quarter of this past Saturday’s blowout win over New Mexico State.

The football program has yet to address Thomas’ status.

The loss, if it comes to fruition, would be a significant one as Thomas is the Tigers’ starting nickel cornerback and sees extensive action.  Through five games, Thomas is fifth on the team with 24 tackles and is tied for second with 2.5 tackles for loss.

As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Thomas played in 11 games.  Thomas was a four-star member of LSU’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 14 corner in the country.

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Cincinnati staff member fired after disturbing sex-abuse arrest

Antrione Archer

The latest incident that sets the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker back to double zeroes doesn’t involve a college football player… and does involve some very disturbing allegations.

First things first: Cincinnati announced in a press release Tuesday that Antrione Archer had been terminated from his position as Tommy Tuberville‘s Director of Player Welfare & Development, a position he had held since 2011. Archer was arrested in Kentucky in June, but the school didn’t find out until last Friday. Within hours, the school stated, Archer was placed on administrative leave before he was fired four days later.

The school did not detail either the arrest or the charge Archer is facing. WKRC-TV did, however, and let’s just say it’s not a topic that’s ever come up before here at CFT.

From the television station’s website regarding the incident, which occurred in a grocery store pharmacy:

According to court records, police said Archer was in the Fort Mitchell Kroger May 27 and asked a 73-year-old employee for help finding some vitamins. Police said while she was helping him, Archer quote, “pulled his penis from his pants,” and also, “placed his exposed penis against her backside.” Police said he did this several times at different locations throughout the store.

The incident was caught on store surveillance cameras. Two weeks later, after police had identified Archer as a suspect, he was interviewed and confessed.

Archer was officially charged with third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor. The station wrote that “Archer’s attorney told Local 12 they were close to having the situation resolved through the legal system.”

(Photo credit: Cincinnati athletics)

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Taylor Kelly ‘pretty questionable’ for USC game

UCLA v Arizona State Getty Images

It appears that Taylor Kelly‘s absence from the playing field will indeed bleed into the month of October.

According to Todd Graham, the quarterback is “pretty questionable” for Arizona State’s game Saturday against USC.  After the quarterback initially suffered an unspecified foot injury in the Sept. 13 win over Colorado, the ASU head coach had downplayed the severity of the injury and the length of time Kelly would be sidelined.

Kelly is still walking with the aid of crutches and remains in a protective boot.

“Taylor has the boot on and stuff, but it’s precautionary,” Graham said Monday. “He is running in the pool, he is exercising in the pool and has no pain, so he’s doing really well.”

The good news for the Sun Devils is that the injury could cost Kelly just two games. ASU was on a bye the week after Kelly suffered the injury, and have another bye coming up next weekend. If he comes back for the Oct. 18 game against Stanford as previously reported, he’ll have missed only the UCLA and USC games.

If Kelly is sidelined as expected, Mike Bercovici would get the call. In his first career start, Bercovici threw for 488 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout loss to the Bruins. He did, though, toss a pair of interceptions.

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Michigan prez expresses ‘extreme disappointment’ over injury handling

Minnesota v Michigan Getty Images

With whispers and rumors beginning to grow that Brady Hoke could find himself on the coaching unemployment line as early as today, Michigan remains in full-blown CYA mode three days removed from its medical ineptness.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, UM president Mark Schlissel said that he wants “to express my extreme disappointment in the events surrounding the handling of an on-field injury to one of our football players, Shane Morris.” Morris was reinserted into the loss to Minnesota after suffering what was later determined to be a concussion, leading some to call for both Hoke and athletic director Dave Brandon to be fired.

Hoke was not mentioned in the statement, although Schlissel did state that he has “been in regular discussion regarding this incident and its aftermath with Athletic Director David Brandon and the Board of Regents” and that he supports the initial concussion protocol changes the athletic department has identified.

What those specifics are weren’t detailed by the president.

“Despite having one of the finest levels of team medical expertise in the country, our system failed on Saturday,” Schlissel wrote in the statement. “We did not get this right and for this I apologize to Shane, his family, his teammates, and the entire Michigan family.”

Moving forward, Schlissel said he and the regents will receive “a thorough review of our in-game player safety procedures, particularly those involving head injuries” from the athletic department. That department, at Schlissel’s behest, will also consult with university health experts in reworking the protocols for head injuries.

“Our communications going forward will be direct, transparent and timely,” a portion of the statement seemingly directed at the fan base read. “The University of Michigan stands for the highest level of excellence in everything we do, on and off the field. That standard will guide my review of this situation and all the University’s future actions.”

Hoke released a statement through the university Sunday defending his actions.

Shortly before the president’s statement was released, the school’s sports information department sent out a link to the department’s current concussion policy.  You can view that by clicking HERE.

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Backup Ole Miss DB to pursue pro baseball career

Alonzo Harris, Anthony Alford

Ahead of its huge matchup with Alabama Saturday, Ole Miss has seen its depth in the secondary take a bit of a hit.

Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze announced Tuesday that Anthony Alford has decided to leave the football team and pursue a career in professional baseball. Since being drafted in the third round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, the defensive back had participated in the club’s extended spring training program before reporting for summer camp.

The contract Alford signed with the Blue Jays had permitted him to play football for the Rebels, although that will not be an issue moving forward.

“We wish him the best. He’s a great kid.,” Freeze said in a part of his statement.

Alford actually began his collegiate career as a quarterback at Southern Miss, starting five games as a true freshman in 2012. In January of 2013, Alford transferred to Ole Miss and moved to the defensive secondary, although there had been plans to use him as a Wildcat quarterback.

After sitting out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Alford had played in all four games for the Rebels at safety in 2014. He was credited with six tackles as well as returning two punts for eight yards.

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Alabama’s Bovada title odds shorten; Mariota, Gurley Heisman faves

Todd Gurley

Thanks to the reigning champ’s struggles in a pair of victories the past couple of weeks, there continues to be a non-Florida State betting favorite to claim the first-ever College Football Playoff title.

In the latest odds released by Bovada.lv Tuesday, Alabama comes in as the title favorite at 6/1. Those odds are slightly shorter than the 13/2 odds on Sept. 23 for the Tide.

FSU and Oklahoma are at 15/2, the same as they were a week ago.

Auburn (8/1, from 15/2), Texas A&M (14/1, from 12/1), USC (33/1, from 25/1) and Wisconsin (50/1, from 40/1)all saw their odds lengthen. Among those with shorter odds than a week are Oregon (8/1, up from 9/1), UCLA (12/1, up from 18/1) and Baylor (14/1, up from 18/1).

The best odds for a one-loss team are the 14/1 for both Georgia and Michigan State.

On the Heisman side of the Bovada wagering equation, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (7/4) and Georgia running back Todd Gurley (7/2) remain the prohibitive favorites. Those are shorter odds than the 2/1 and 10/1, respectively, from seven days ago.

Ameer Abdullah has also seen a meteoric rise the last week. The Nebraska running back was 25/1 last week, but comes in today at 9/1 along with A&M quarterback Kenny Hill.

Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston has seen his odds lengthen even further, moving from 20/1 to 22/1. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, at 50/1, has the best odds of a Group of Five player. In fact, Cato is the only player from one of those conference to be listed by Bovada.

Below are the complete set of odds for both the College Football Playoff title and Heisman Trophy, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

September 30 Bovada CFP Odds

September 30 Bovada Heisman Odds I

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ACC announces priorities for new autonomy structure

Over the summer the 65 schools making up the power conferences voted in favor to form a new structure of autonomy. Now that this major step was behind them, conferences were tasked with coming up with the details for this new structure. The ACC has taken that step by submitting its initial priorities for consideration under the new power structure. Among the items listed by the ACC are scholarship protection for student-athletes, meeting the cost-of-attendance and the ability an institution can provide for educational support for former student-athletes. The deadline to send these priorities to the NCAA offices is tomorrow, October 1.

“The ACC has consistently been a leader in appropriately balancing academics and athletics,” said Donna Shalala, Chair of the ACC Council of Presidents and President of the University of Miami, in a statement released by the ACC. “The list of priorities that we are submitting to the NCAA reflects our determination to continue improving our student-athletes’ experience as an integral part of the educational missions of our world-class universities.”

Per a release from the ACC, the initial priorities being sent forward by the ACC include:

  • Examination of scholarship protections for student-athletes;
  • Meeting a student-athlete’s cost of attendance;
  • Ensuring institutional flexibility to provide educational support for former student-athletes;
  • Examination of career-related insurance options for student-athletes; and
  • Ensuring that nutritional needs of student-athletes are met in a reasonable way

Most of this is rather straightforward at this point in the development of the autonomy structure. Cost-of-attendance has been discussed for a long time now, and the opportunities to expand on assisting former student-athletes looks like a nice benefit as well for players who may turn pro and return to school to finish their education.

It is somewhat expected the other power conferences — Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — will echo these priorities in some form.

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New Jersey congressman asks Big Ten to review concussion policies

Bill Pascrell, Joe Crowley

It was only a matter of time before some government official decided to toss his name into the unfolding saga in Ann Arbor focusing on the handling of quarterback Shane Morris and his concussion. Enter New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, who has sent a letter to the Big Ten offices asking for the conference to re-evaluate policies related to head injuries.

Morris was on the receiving end of a hit Saturday afternoon that is believed to lead to a concussion. By now you know the story of how this was handled, with head coach Brady Hoke apparently being left in the dark about the whole process and athletics director Dave Brandon admitting there was a system failure in the line of communication. Rep. Pascrell took notice of what was happening, which is to be expected. Pascrell is the co-founder and co-chair for the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

Pascrell’s letter to the Big Ten offices, which can be read in its entirety here, addresses the seemingly confusing statements made by Hoke during his Monday press conference regarding the status of Morris. Hoke was unaware Morris has suffered a concussion on Monday and said Morris would have practiced Sunday night if not for a high ankle sprain. Brandon’s statement raised a caution flag on the timeline of this news by admitting Morris had been diagnosed with a mild concussion on Sunday.

“Allowing a possibly concussed player to determine whether or not he is fit to return to play not only violates common sense, but is also an egregious violation of standard concussion protocol, including protocol set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Big Ten Conference,” the letter from Pascrell claims. Again, if Brandon’s statement is to be taken at its word, it is plausible to believe Hoke really did have no idea a concussion was in play, as the medical staff cleared Morris to return to the field despite an ankle injury and nothing more known at the time.

Pascrell has previously contacted FIFA about concussion management and treatment as well, so sending a letter to the Big Ten in light of this recent development stays in line with his track record.

The entire response to this incident at Michigan has been a bit of a mess, and it may be time for the Big Ten to weigh on this issue on their own and cooperate with the requests from the congressman.

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Why a buyout of AD Brandon’s contract may not be likely at Michigan

Shane Morris

This Michigan mess is just that, and it does not appear to be getting any cleaner.

The students are uniting in a stand against Michigan athletics director Dave Brandon. Brandon’s job has been scrutinized from every angle. Brady Hoke may be destined to be hitting the unemployment line at the end of the year, but Brandon is a different situation. Michigan could, in theory, buyout the remainder of Brandon’s contract as AD for a reported $3 million.

As reported by MLive.com this afternoon, Michigan would owe Brandon $3 million if they fire him before the end of the year. The contract Brandon has as AD calls for a payout equal to the remaining total under the contract if he is removed from his position prior to July 1, 2016.

For a program that has been looking for ways to save a few bucks and fill a few seats, a decision to buyout the remaining contract of Brandon on top of a potential coaching change may not be the most desirable direction.

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