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The Fifth Quarter: Week 8 Rewind

Florida State v Clemson Getty Images

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

WINNERS

BChaoS
For those looking for a slate of games that would really shake the hell out of things, Week 8 would certainly be a good start.  No. 3 Clemson falls from the ranks of the unbeaten.  No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 8 Louisville and No. 9 UCLA stumbled mightily, the latter two suffering their first losses of the season.  And that’s without even mentioning the utter chaos from the preseason favorites in the SEC East.  When the polls are released later today, there should be an entirely new and utterly strange feel to the middle to the latter half of the Top 10.  Alabama and Oregon, of course, will remain 1-2.  Florida State will likely take over Clemson’s spot in the No. 3 hole, leapfrogging No. 4 Ohio State.  After that?  How about No. 10 Miami or No. 12 Baylor or No. 14 Missouri climbing into the Top Five?  Or Fresno State and Texas Tech moving into the Top 10?  Of course, all of this chaos occurs on the eve of the first release of the BCS standings… and with still seven weeks until the final rankings set the two teams that will play in the title game.  This is going to be one helluva ride over the next month and a half.  Color me giddy over the prospects.

No stage too big, no light too bright
If you saw Jameis Winston walking into the Tigers’ den known as Death Valley, you never would’ve guessed he’s in his first year as a starter and about to play in the biggest game of his life.  If you saw him in the pregame locker room video clip shown on the broadcast, you never would’ve guessed he had just five starts under his belt.  If you saw him on the field against the Tigers?  You knew you were looking at a redshirt freshman who was the most talented player on a field full of them and one who could very well be the Heisman front-runner when it’s all said and done.  The 444 yards and three touchdowns he put on Clemson in the 51-14 waxing only told part of the story; at no point during the game, even after his lone interception, did you get the sense Winston was not in complete and total control of both himself and his team.  The coolness he displays, the grip he has on whatever the situation may be, would be stunning for a 10-year NFL vet let alone a “kid” a year and a half removed from high school.  If there’s such a thing as “it,” Winston has it.

Manziel Malzahn’d
What a turnaround they have going on down on The Plains.  Exactly one year ago today, Auburn was sitting at 1-6 and was a week away from a 42-point woodshedding at the hands of Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel.  Fast forward 365 days, and the Tigers are sitting at 6-1… with a huge revenge win over Texas A&M stuffed firmly into its résumé.  The difference between last year and this one, and between Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn, is stunning in its starkness.  In 2012, AU was winless in SEC play; this year, the Tigers are alone at 3-1 and behind only in-state rival Alabama in the SEC West.  If you’re looking for one of the midseason front-runners for Coach of the Year, look no further than Malzahn.  Not only has he brought hope for a bright future to the Tigers, he’s brought results in the here and now.  Just absolutely brilliant, what Malzahn is doing with what’s essentially Chizik’s players.

Florida v MIssouriMizzou? Who knew?
As we’ve gotten just past the midway point of October, the SEC East’s representative in the conference championship game has been all but locked down.  And, no, it’s not Florida or Georgia or South Carolina; those three preseason favorites each have two league losses, with every member of that trio falling in Week 8.  Instead, it’s Missouri that stands alone atop the SEC East with a 3-0 record.  Not only that, but the Tigers own the head-to-head tiebreakers with both the Gators and Bulldogs should they trip coming down the stretch.  Mizzou’s win over UF Saturday was part of a three-game stretch that began with UGA and will be bookended with the Gamecocks this coming Saturday in Columbia.  Perhaps, though, I should hold off on crowning Mizzou; after USC, the Tigers still have to host games against Tennessee — which knocked off the Gamecocks — and Texas A&M, while also traveling to Ole Miss in between.  That said, who would’ve thought that, after eight weeks of the season, we’d be talking about Mizzou needing to simply not trip over itself over the last month and a half in order to secure an early-December date in Atlanta?  Not me, that’s for sure.

Rebound on The Farm
A week later, and with all due respect to the Utes, I still have nary an idea how Stanford fell to Utah.  The Cardinal didn’t have much time to shake off the inexplicable, however, as unbeaten UCLA came to town.  60 minutes later, the Cardinal had indeed shaken it off by pounding the previously unbeaten Bruins into submission.  In the 24-10 win, the Cardinal defense held the potent Bruins offense to a season-low 266 yards and just a lone fourth-quarter touchdown.  UCLA had averaged nearly 46 points per game entering the contest,  with their previous low-water mark being 34 in a win over Utah.  While the loss a week ago will (likely) continue to sting nationally, the road to the Pac-12 championship game is still crystal clear: win out, including the titanic Nov. 7 showdown with Oregon, the Cardinal would likely be headed to a conference title game appearance — and perhaps a rematch with the Bruins.

Jordamn Lynch
It was one for the record books for one of the most unheralded players in the country Saturday.  In Northern Illinois’ win Central Michigan, Jordan Lynch rushed for a staggering 316 yards.  While that number is impressive enough in and of itself, the fact that Lynch is a quarterback takes the total to a whole other level.  The 316 yards is an FBS record for a quarterback, breaking Stacey Robinson‘s 308 set way back in 1990.  Robinson, incidentally, played for NIU.

55-Gallon drums of yards
To borrow from myself from yesterday, normally, the words “Michigan” and “receiving records” aren’t seen in the same sentence, unless the words “not” and “setting” are included.  For at least one game, that all changed in a big way.  Wolverines wide receiver Jeremy Gallon absolutely lit up an admittedly bad Indiana defense, totaling 369 receiving yards in UM’s 63-47 win over the Hoosiers.  The yardage set not only a school record but a Big Ten mark as well, with the total serving as the second-most in FBS history behind Stanford’s Troy Edwards‘ 405 yards.  Perhaps the most staggering aspect of Gallon’s for-the-ages performance is that the senior came into the game with 462 yards — total — in six games this season.

Be like MikeAuburn v Texas A&M
While not exactly Gallon-esque, Mike Evans wasn’t too shabby himself.  In Texas A&M’s loss to Auburn, the unfairly talented wide receiver caught 11 Johnny Manziel passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns.  The four scores tied Ryan Swope‘s school record.  Interestingly, Evans now has 19 receptions for 566 yards and five touchdowns against teams from the state of Alabama this season.  Even more interestingly, both of those performances came in losing efforts, the other being against the Crimson Tide earlier this season.

One Hill of a game
After a rough start to the season, Taysom Hill began to turn things around a couple of weeks ago.  Saturday afternoon, he really turned it around.  Sort of.  In a wild 47-46 win over Houston, Hill passed for 417 yards and rushed for another 128, becoming the first player in FBS history to throw for 400-plus and rush for 100-plus in a single game.  While the three interceptions will likely be a topic of discussion during positional meetings this week, it appears the Cougars may have indeed found its quarterback of the future in the sophomore.

BCS 4 UCF
Somewhat lost amidst No. 8 Louisville’s first loss of the season, which effectively wiped out what little sliver of BCS title hope it held, is the fact that the team that knocked off the Cardinals is now sitting pretty when it comes to the BCS picture.  UCF had come into the UofL game with just one a loss, a three-point decision to No. 12 South Carolina late last month.  All of a sudden, though, the Golden Knights are in the driver’s seat for the AAC’s BCS berth.  With games left against one-loss Houston in two weeks and one against 4-2 Rutgers the week after, the road isn’t exactly a cakewalk.  However, the fact that UCF gets both those teams at home, and the fact that the Knights are a quality football team despite the lack of respect nationally, bodes well for the program’s shot at its first-ever BCS game appearance.

LOSERS

O-H!  UH-OH!!!
Ohio State may have extended its winning streak to 19 straight, but it suffered a pair of losses perception-wise on the day.  The Buckeyes were less than impressive in a win over Iowa that pushed their winning streak to 19 consecutive games.  It was hardly the kind of performance, however, that wins points with the voters.  Another damaging development for OSU?  Northwestern.  The Wildcats, viewed a couple of weeks ago as one of the few chances for a quality win for the Buckeyes, lost their third straight game Saturday, this time to Minnesota.  Again, that won’t help the perception of OSU’s schedule.  While it goes against what’s in their blood, Buckeye fans need to root like hell for Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan to win out,  Well, that and root like hell for the Buckeyes to stretch the winning streak to a school-record 24 straight.

Florida State v ClemsonBoy oh Boyd
I thought Florida State would win, but I never thought they would win.  And I certainly never imagined Tajh Boyd would lay the egg he did.  Granted, the Seminoles’ defense was as ferocious as advertised, but Boyd had arguably his worst game in his three years as a starter — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.  FSU rattled the veteran into a stat line that included 17-of-37 passing for a 156 yards and two costly interceptions.  The loss could very well cost Clemson a shot at a BCS title; the performance almost certainly has cost Boyd any shot he had at a Heisman.

Bad Zach’s briefly back?
Through the first seven games of the season, Zach Mettenberger was one of the most improved players in the country at any position.  In the eighth week, the LSU quarterback decided to party like it’s 2012.  Mettenberger entered the Ole Miss game having thrown two interceptions in 174 pass attempts; in the loss to the Rebels, Mettenberger tossed three in his first 11 attempts.  While the trio of picks led to just three points, the second one came in the red zone and cost the Tigers at least three points of their own that they really could’ve used in the end.  Mettenberger bounced back after that inauspicious start to throw for 274 yards and a touchdown.  Alas it wasn’t enough as the Tigers simply couldn’t overcome the 17-0 hole they dug themselves, suffering their second loss of the season in the 27-24, last-second defeat at the hands of the Rebels.

SEC East QB piñatas
The inexplicable wave of injuries that’s slammed into teams from the SEC’s East division has hit the quarterback position especially hard.  Florida lost Jeff Driskel to a season-ending injury earlier in the year, with Missouri’s James Franklin and Kentucky’s Jalen Whitlow sidelined for various lengths of time with injuries incurred last weekend. This weekend, another pair of East quarterbacks have joined the division’s M*A*S*H unit.  South Carolina’s Connor Shaw injured his knee in the loss to Tennessee and did not return, while Vanderbilt’s Austyn Carta-Samuels suffered a leg injury and also didn’t return.  My only suggestion to that division would be to shroud them in bubble wrap before you send your quarterbacks out there next time.  Or something as the spate of injuries at the position is unprecedented.  Well, actually, it’s not…

Snakebit Terps
Last year it was quarterbacks.  This year, it’s linebackers… and now wide receivers.  In the span of less than two quarters, Maryland lost its No. 1 and No. 2 receivers to what could very well be season-ending leg injuries.  Devon Long, the Terps’ leader in receptions coming into the Wake Forest loss, broke the tibula and fibula in his leg.  A short time later, Stephon Diggs, tops in receiving yards, broke the fibula in his right leg.  Both injuries will require surgery to repair, and no timetable has been given for a return, if at all, during the regular season.  It’s the latest blow to a Terps team that won their first four games, but have lost two of the last three by a combined 87 points.

Awash in misery
With four straight wins to start the season, Washington was one of a handful of first-month media darlings.  That early-season sheen has lost most if not all of its luster the past three weeks, however.  While the first two losses, to No. 2 Oregon and then-No. 5 Stanford, were defensible, the 53-24 loss to Arizona State Saturday wasn’t.  Simply put, the Huskies were beaten up and pushed around by the Sun Devils.  No stat exemplified the bullying more so than this: 25 UW rushes for minus-five yards.  Bishop Sankey, who came into the game leading the nation in rushing yards per game at 149.8, was held to just 22 yards on 13 carries by an ASU defense that was 75th against the run (168.8 ypg) coming in.  Following the loss, head coach Steve Sarkisian called the performance “embarrassing”; who am I to argue?

Bert DerpNick Saban, Bret Bielema
Upon his hiring at Arkansas, Bret Bielema was very frank about what his goal was in leaving the Big Ten for the SEC. “The reason the SEC is talked about all the time is one team, because of their dominance. But I didn’t come here to play Alabama. I came here to beat Alabama.” Yeah, about that.  Beating the two-time defending BCS champions wasn’t even remotely in the cards on this night, with the Tide cruising to a 52-0 win over the Razorbacks that wasn’t even as close as the final score might indicate.  The loss to the Tide is the Hogs’ fourth straight in SEC play, and comes one week after they were embarrassed 52-7 by South Carolina.  The road doesn’t get any easier as UA closes out the season against Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU.  Yeah, good luck with that.

Things still aMiss
At some point, you’d have to think that Southern Miss would trip over a win some way or another, right?  Maybe at some point that’ll be the case, but it wasn’t on this Saturday as the Golden Eagles bumbled and stumbled its way to a 55-14 beatdown at the hands of East Carolina.  The loss is USM’s 18th straight dating back to the 2012 opener.  They haven’t tasted victory since Dec. 24, 2011, the final game before Larry Fedora took himself — and, apparently, the ability to win — to North Carolina.  In a season full of low points, the 41-point blowout wasn’t even the lowest; a 43-point loss to Nebraska in Week 2 was trumped two weeks later by a 53-point pasting at the hands of Boise State.

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

— No. 4 Ohio State 34, Iowa 24: I already had my say on the Buckeyes above.  Button it up, Urb.  It may not be right, but style points matter if a spot in the BCS championship game is your team’s ultimate goal.

— No. 10 Miami 27, North Carolina 23: The Hurricanes nearly saw their unbeaten season ripped from them Thursday night, trailing the Tar Heels by 10 early in the fourth quarter.  Two Dallas Crawford touchdown runs in the final quarter, including one with just over a minute left, as well as a costly delay-of-game penalty pushed The U over UNC and nudged its record to a perfect 6-0.

Kliff Kingsbury– No. 16 Texas Tech 37, West Virginia 27: The Red Raiders entered the fourth quarter down 27-24 to an improving Mountaineers team before a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns allowed Tech to keep its record unblemished at 7-0.

— No. 18 Oklahoma 34, Kansas 19: Bob Stoops is now 15-0 all-time in the next game after the Red River Shootout, but it wasn’t as easy as most expected.  The Jayhawks jumped out to a 13-0 lead before the Sooners scored the next 25 points.  KU then got back to within six early in the fourth quarter before OU pulled away late.

No. 21 Oklahoma State 24, TCU 10: It may have taken a change at quarterback, but it was enough for the Cowboys to overcome an utterly inept Horned Frogs offense.

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 — Since beating Texas A&M 49-42 in Week 3, the Tide has outscored its opponents 201-16.  Chew on that bit of statistical dominance for a while. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Tennessee

2. Oregon — A close call for Oregon would be something akin to the Ducks leading Washington State just 34-24 at halftime… and then outscoring Wazzu 28-14 in the second half to win going away.  The Ducks have won five of their seven games by 38 or more points.  Their “closest” win was by 21 points over Washington last Saturday. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. No. 9 UCLA

Florida State v Clemson3. Florida State — When you put a 38-point beatdown on the team previously sitting in this spot, you probably deserve to climb higher.  For now, though, we’ll slot the Seminoles here and see how the remainder of the season plays out. (Last week: No. 5)
Up next: vs. North Carolina State

4. Ohio State — All the Buckeyes do is win, and sometimes in ugly duckling fashion.  Then again, though, so did OSU circa 2002.  Hmmm… (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Penn State

5. Missouri/Miami/Baylor — Yes, I’m copping out on this one.  You think I’m going to attempt to figure out, after all of the carnage this weekend and at two in the morning, which team deserves to move into the No. 5 hole?  OK, sit a hefty member of the female persuasion on my chest and I’d say the Tigers’ wins over Vanderbilt, Georgia and Florida trumps the Hurricanes’ wins over Florida and Georgia Tech.  Add in the fact that the Tigers have won every game by at least 15 points, and they probably deserve the slot.  The Bears can make their statement the first three games of November against Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: vs. South Carolina/vs. Wake Forest/at Kansas

HE SAID IT
“I promised myself I wouldn’t say anything horrendous about the officiating today so I’m not going to do that.” — Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who will likely get a call from the league office for his non-comments on the officiating during the loss to Vanderbilt.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We played without a lot of our guys, and everyone stepped up and raised their level. I like our team.” — an understated Gus Malzahn after Auburn’s biggest win since the BCS title game following the 2010 season.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“Obviously this is getting a little old.” — Bret Bielema, after Arkansas’ fifth straight loss.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Maybe the only guy on the team I’m taller than. I have to tell him about that every day. Hate to tell him that’s why he got recruited because I’ve got to be taller than somebody.” — Nick Saban talking about 5-9 running back Dee Hart.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
“I did a piss-poor job preparing this football team to play in this game.” — the Mad Hatter taking the loss to Ole Miss and placing it squarely on his shoulders.

PHOTO(SHOP) OF THE WEEK
There are simply no words to describe this photo that bounced across Twitter late this past week.  So, and as I duck in anticipation of the reaction, here goes nothing…

oBAMA

#oBAMA

Twitter is simply one of the greatest.  Inventions.  Ever.

SAY WHAT?
Saturday’s game against Missouri was the furthest north Florida has traveled for a game since a 1991 contest against Syracuse.  In a dome.  The last time they played outdoors at a more northerly locale than Columbia?  You have to go back to 1986, the year the Gators traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey, to take on Rutgers in a mid-October non-conference matchup.

TRUE STORY
Missouri is not just winning but they are winning handily: all seven of their victories this season have been by at least 15 points.  The Tigers’ “closest” calls?  A pair of 15-point wins over Toledo (38-23) and Georgia (41-26).  All told, the Tigers have exactly doubled their opponents in points this season: 310-155.

Sean MannionFOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— What Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are doing to defenses this season is borderline criminal.  The former passed for 493 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Cal, while the latter caught 13 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown.  Mannion has now passed for at least 367 yards in all seven games, and has thrown for at least 400 yards in five of them.  Coming into Week 8, Mannion was leading the nation in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns, while Cooks was doing the same in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns; here’s to guessing that won’t change much if at all when the statistics are updated later on today.

— With four teams (Clemson, Houston, Louisville, UCLA) suffering their first losses of the season Saturday (and Thursday), there are now 10 undefeated programs left at the FBS level.  The Big 12 (Baylor, Texas Tech), ACC (Florida State, Miami) and SEC (Alabama, Missouri) are the only conferences with more than one.  On the other end of the spectrum, Temple, over Army, was the only team to pick up its first win of the year in Week 8.  That leaves seven teams (Georgia State, Hawaii, Miami of Ohio, New Mexico State, Southern Miss, UConn, Western Michigan) winless through the first two months of the year.

Jeremy Gallon wasn’t the Michigan player setting records Saturday as Devin Gardner threw for a school-record 503 yards on just 21 completions and 29 attempts.  And Gardner absolutely obliterated the old standard of 389 yards set by John Navarre.  The best development for the Wolverines, though, was that the interception-prone Gardner didn’t throw a pick.

— Team-wise, Michigan set a school record with 751 yards of total offense, besting the old high of 727 yards set against Delaware State in 2009.

Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 89 pass attempts in Washington State’s loss to Oregon, breaking Drew Brees‘ record of 83.  His 58 completions tied an FBS record.  For good measure, he threw for 557 yards and four touchdowns… and lost by 24 points.

— Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has now thrown 265 consecutive passes without an interception, extending the Pac-12 record he set last week.

— In the loss to Auburn (still can’t believe I’m typing that), Johnny Manziel totaled 502 yards of offense (454 passing, 48 rushing) and accounted for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing).

— For the second game in a row, Alabama had a pair of 100-yard rushers: Derrick Henry with 111 yards and a touchdown, Kenyon Drake with 104 yards and two touchdowns.

Cody Hoffman– It was a heck of a day for BYU’s Cody Hoffman: the wide receiver broke the school record for career receptions he had shared with Dennis Pita (221, now 231); tied the school record for most career touchdown receptions (Austin Collie, 30); and moved to within 72 yards of breaking Collie’s record for most career receiving yards.

— Both Melvin Gordon and James White accounted for three touchdowns apiece as Wisconsin whipped Illinois 56-32.

— In his first career start, Maty Mauk threw for 295 yards and a touchdown in Missouri’s huge win over Florida.

— Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart caught 10 passes for 141 yards and returned two punts for another 124 in the Cowboys’ win over TCU.  Stewart took one of his returns back 95 yards for a touchdown.

— A one-yard touchdown run by Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde in the third quarter of Iowa’s loss was the first rushing touchdown the Hawkeyes had allowed all season (six-plus games).

— Baylor passed for 423 yards and ran for another 291 in a 71-7 win over Iowa State.  The game also marked the fifth time in six games the Bears have scored at least 69 points.

— BYU ran 115 plays in its 47-46 win over previously unbeaten Houston, tying the NCAA record set by Northwestern in 2010.

— Akron’s 24-17 win over Miami of Ohio snapped a streak of 28 losses to FBS teams, with the last win for the Zips against a program from that level coming in November of 2010 against Buffalo.

IN CLOSING…
The loss of any life is tragic, but the passing of someone with their whole lives ahead of them just adds to the gut-punch.  Sadly, the world of college football has seemingly dealt with more than its fair share of tragedies the past month and a half.  A Texas A&M defensive lineman burying his two-month daughter just days before the Alabama game.  The stunt pilot father of Tulane’s kicker killed in an airplane crash.  A UCLA wide receiver struck and killed by a vehicle, while a Cincinnati offensive lineman was killed and another Bearcat still hospitalized with injuries incurred in a one-vehicle accident just two weeks later.  Sadly, tragedy hit the college football world yet again, with Eastern Michigan wide receiver Demarius Reed shot dead in an apparent homicide Friday morning.  Way too many, and way, way, way too young.  Hug ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, every single chance you get.

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Four-star 2014 LB exiting FSU, entering JUCO

Kain Daub

One of the more talented defensive pieces of Florida State’s 2014 recruiting class has decided a change of scenery is in order.  “Probably.”

On Instagram Thursday, Kain Daub announced that he will be transferring to East Mississippi Community College.  When asked about the linebacker’s status, head coach Jimbo Fisher stated that Daub will “probably transfer” from the football program.

The Palm Beach Post wrote that Daub “was not practicing with the team on Thursday as the Seminoles went through their final day of offseason conditioning workouts.”  According to 247Sports.com, “Daub did not make the trip with the team back in January for the Rose Bowl,” with the belief being “he was suspended, but that was never confirmed.”

A four-star member of last year’s recruiting class — Scout.com had him listed as a five-star recruit — Daub was rated as the No. 9 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Florida. Only four of FSU’s 12 defensive signees held a higher Rivals.com rating than Daub.

Daub didn’t see the field his freshman season, taking a redshirt for 2014 instead.

An early enrollee last year, Daub was expected to take part in spring practice.  Eligibility issues pertaining to his high school transcripts, however, derailed those plans.

“It’s not anything that he did academically, it’s a [NCAA] Clearinghouse issue that he’s having to clear up with a class,” Fisher said exactly one year ago today. “So he’s not eligible to be out here right now, but he’ll get through this and hopefully he’ll be here in the summer. He won’t be here in the spring, he’ll be in the fall. …

“It had nothing to do with anything Kain has done. I don’t agree with it, but it’s crazy what they’re making him do.”

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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USC’s Adoree Jackson working on offense and defense this spring

Adoree' Jackson

First it was Stanford’s Owen Marecic. Then UCLA’s Myles Jack and Washington’s Shaq Thompson. Now it may be USC sophomore Adoree Jackson‘s turn to become the Pac-12’s next two-way star.

To be clear, working on both sides of the ball isn’t new to Jackson. He did it in his first game, in fact. In all, Jackson saw action as a cornerback, wide receiver and return man in eight games last season, catching 10 passes for 138 yards with three touchdowns to go with two kickoff return touchdowns and 49 tackles.

But the Trojans are being more intentional about splitting Jackson’s time this spring.

If that’s not enough, take it from Jackson’s 2015 bio on USC’s official site:

Jackson, the most exciting player in college football who is a candidate for major national awards and All-American honors, returns as a starting cornerback and a dangerous kickoff returner, plus he figures to again see significant action at wide receiver. USC’s first 3-way player in nearly 20 years, he has drawn comparisons with former Michigan Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson (they posted comparable statistics).

Well, at least they’re subtle about it.

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Oklahoma LB Dominique Alexander to miss spring ball following wrist surgery

Desmond Roland, Ahman Thomas, Steven Parker, Jordan Thomas, Dominique Alexander

The Oklahoma defense that takes the field in next month’s spring game will look much different than the one that was torn apart by Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery is gone for the NFL, replaced by Stanford’s Diron Reynolds. Kerry Cooks now coaches the defensive backs, and Mike Stoops may coach from the box.

But the changes don’t stop there. Head coach Bob Stoops revealed that Second Team All-Big 12 linebacker Dominique Alexander will miss spring ball after undergoing wrist surgery last week.

“It had healed up, looked like it was going to be ok,” Stoops told The Oklahoman. “Through the winter with all the different working out, the different everything they have to do with their wrist, it wore down. Doctors didn’t anticipate that. It happened.”

Frank Shannon still has not returned from a year-long suspension, which means a pair of redshirt freshmen (Tay Evans and Curtis Bolton) will get an increased workload this spring.

Alexander, a junior, notched 107 tackles, six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2014.

Stoops also revealed Thursday that redshirt freshman defensive tackle Courtney Garnett will miss spring ball after suffering a torn ACL in winter workouts, guard Nila Kasitati will miss the first half of the spring with an unspecified injury and wide receiver Sterling Shepard will ease back into action after playing with a groin injury for the latter half of last season.

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Report: Pac-12 could soon be way behind SEC, Big Ten TV money again

Larry Scott

Remember back in 2011 when the Pac-12 announced new TV deals with ESPN and Fox along with the creation of Pac-12 Enterprises and it seemed like the balance of power was going to shift out West?

In the world of television contracts, four years is a lifetime.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News, the man who would know this stuff better than anyone, has taken a peek behind the curtain of the Pac-12’s and found a picture that’s not so rosy as the conference would’ve had you believe back in 2011.

According to Wilner’s projections, the Pac-12 stands to distribute close to $23 million per school in 2017-18 – a figure that, to be fair, would’ve placed the conference at or near the top of the heap in 2011. Problem is, it’s not 2011 anymore and a lot has happened since then. SEC Network launched in August, and the Big Ten will take its first-tier rights to market soon. By 2017-18, Wilner writes the Big Ten could clear $33 million per school and the SEC should top $35 million. Sitting eight figures behind the Big Ten and SEC was why the conference hired Larry Scott in the first place.

The problem is the Pac-12 Networks. Where the SEC (quite successfully) partnered with ESPN and the Big Ten went in with Fox, the Pac-12 has financed its networks completely on its own. This would leave the conference to strike it rich if Pac-12 Networks somehow discovered the college sports version of The Walking Dead, but for now it’s only the first side of the risk/reward quandary.

For example, by 2017-18 Wilner projects the Pac-12 Networks to distribute $1 million a year, but the conference’s 12 schools will still have to cut a $750,000 check to buy back the content that the conference needed to start a network in the first place. All told, that leaves $250,000 per school on average, or the going rate for your typical linebackers coach these days.

Now you know why Scott has fought so bitterly with DirecTV these past few years.

“It could impact the competitive balance, the ability to hire top-notch coaches and manage the looming increase in expenses due to legislative changes and the O’Bannon lawsuit,” Wilner writes.

Anyone know if Keeping Up with the Kardashians is looking for a new home? I know a fledgling cable sports network that would like to talk.

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Watch: Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein as a 7-foot wide receiver

Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Robinson

Willie Cauley-Stein may be the best player in college basketball this year. The anchor of Kentucky’s asphyxiation-inducing defense, Cauley-Stein is a semifinalist for the Naismith Award as the nation’s top player and ranked No. 7 in the latest DraftExpress mock draft.

But there was a time when college basketball’s most fearsome rim protector was the most imposing figure on the gridiron. Hailing from Olathe, Kan., Cauley-Stein turned one year of varsity football into a scholarship offer from Kansas.

His highlights make Cauley-Stein look like a deer running through a field of rabbits.

“If Willie wanted to play in the NFL, I think there’s no doubt he could play in the NFL,” Cauley-Stein’s high school head coach Jay Novacek told The Sporting News. “That’s the kind of unique talent he is.”

NFL or no NFL, choosing Kentucky basketball over Kansas football qualifies as the best – and perhaps easiest – decision Cauley-Stein will ever make.

(Highlights courtesy The Sporting News)

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Surgery will KO favorite to start at QB for Army this spring

A.J. Schurr AP

Army headed into the offseason with just one quarterback who had any experience at the collegiate level.  Entering spring practice, that number is now down to zero.

Head coach Jeff Monken confirmed Thursday that A.J. Schurr will not participate in any of the service academy’s 15 spring practice sessions. Schurr underwent shoulder surgery shortly after the end of the 2014 season and still hasn’t sufficiently recovered.

As for a timeline for a return, Schurr should be available for the start of summer camp in August.

With Schurr sidelined, that leaves just three quarterbacks on the roster — sophomore Matt Kaufmann and freshmen Ahmad Bradshaw and Seth Gonzales — none of whom have played a down collegiately. HudsonValley.com’s Sal Interdonato explains the rather skimpy resumes of each player.

Kaufmann was the star of last year’s spring game. He left the team during the 2014 season but returned late to be a scout-team quarterback. Bradshaw missed a good portion of the 2014 season due to an administrative matter. Gonzalez was the jayvee quarterback in 2014.

That said, although it’s not like he has any other choice, Monken is looking forward to seeing how the trio handles the opportunity afforded them.

“We got a chance to see Matt be the scout-team quarterback and he’s such a great competitor and I don’t have any doubt that he will know what to do and he will compete,” Monken said. “Seth Gonzales got to play in jayvee games so he’s going to have a basis of the offense. I hope all three of those guys will compete and it will be interesting to see who comes out of that pack and then going into fall, we have a couple of guys coming in from the prep school and see how they will compete for the starting job.”

If experience means anything, though, Schurr will be the overwhelming favorite to win the job when he’s healthy.

Last season as a junior, Schurr started a pair of games for the Black Knights. He finished fourth on the team in rushing yards with 320 while his three rushing touchdowns were tied for third. In the passing game, such as it is with Army’s style of offense, Schurr passed for 242 yards and a touchdown on his 12 completions.

He entered summer camp last year as the favorite to win the starting job, but hamstring issues in large part derailed those aspirations.

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Buckeyes debut title game highlight video

It’s been days since Ohio State romped over Oregon to claim its first national title in more than a decade, but the Buckeye Nation can continue to revel in the unexpected run to the first-ever College Football Playoff championship.

Thursday, OSU debuted a video titled “Ohio State Football: National Championship Highlights.”  In the four-minute salute — which is really well done, incidentally — there are not only highlights of the decisive 42-20 win over the Ducks, but there are also some unique behind-the-scenes clips of the run-up to the game contained in the piece as well.

 

(I don’t know about you, but, after watching that video, I’m ready for the 2015 season to start now.  Right.  Now.)

Not so coincidentally, the CFP’s official Twitter account got in on the title remembrance fun as well, reminding everyone who follows them that the 2014 Buckeyes were the “undisputed” national champs.

http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/13/buckeyes-survive-turnover-storm-claim-first-crown-in-over-a-decade/

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REWIND: 18 years ago, Peyton Manning announced return to Vols

Peyton Manning

In somewhat of an odd coincidence, March 5 has been a pivotal date and the No. 18 a key number in the football career of Peyton Manning.

Earlier today the Denver Broncos announced that Manning had passed his required physical, which means the future NFL Hall of Famer will be returning for an 18th season at the professional level.  As noted by the football program’s official website, it was 18 years ago today that Manning, the wearer of the No. 18 jersey in the NFL, announced that he would be returning to the Tennessee Volunteers for his senior season.

There would be no storybook ending for Manning in Knoxville in 1997, though, as he finished runnerup to Charles Woodson in the Heisman voting and the Vols, thanks in large part to yet another loss to Manning nemesis Steve Spurrier of Florida — “I know why Peyton came back for his senior year: he wanted to be a three-time Citrus Bowl MVP” and “You can’t spell Citrus without UT” — failed to win a national championship for the third straight year with Manning as the season-long starter. To add insult to his title injury, the Vols, quarterbacked by Tee Martin, won the first-ever BCS championship the season after Manning left UT and was selected No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts.

On a completely unrelated note, yes, it’s a slow news day. And this post  shouldn’t have been your first clue, either.

(Photo credit: Tennessee athletics)

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Temple officially adds NFL experience to coaching staff

Glenn Thomas AP

An assistant who would be very familiar to Atlanta Falcons fans over the past half decade or so is one of two additions that have been made to the Temple coaching staff.

In a press release earlier this week, and as had been previously reported as a likelihood, head coach Matt Rhule announced that Glenn Thomas as well as Frisman Jackson have been hired as Owl assistants.  The former will serve as quarterbacks coach, the latter as wide receivers coach.

Adam DiMichele, the receivers coach last season, has been reassigned to director of player development, the school added

“I’m very excited to add such talent and diversity to our coaching staff,” Rhule said in a statement. “Frisman and Glenn have worked at the highest level and can lead our student-athletes to greater heights. I’m also excited about what each man brings to the table as a recruiter.”

Thomas had been on Mike Smith‘s Atlanta staff since 2008, the last three of which were as quarterbacks coach. Midwestern State (2001-07) was his last stop at the collegiate level, while he began his coaching career as a grad assistant at his alma mater Texas Tech (1998-2001).

Jackson was the receivers coach at North Carolina State the past two seasons. Last month, Jackson was let go by NCSU head coach Dave Doeren and replaced by George McDonald.

Following a six-year playing career, Jackson coached receivers at Northern Illinois (2012), Akron (2010-11), and Western Illinois (2008-09).

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LSU DB Jamal Adams takes Tiger hoops fans to task on Twitter

Kentucky v LSU

Memo to LSU basketball fans: step your game up and get with the program.

At least, that’s the message a member of the football team sent on social media Wednesday night after a double-digit home loss to Tennessee by the men’s hoops squad.  The Tigers and Vols were actually tied at halftime before the latter, which came into the game losers of five straight and nine of its last 11, stretched the lead to as many as 18 points in the second half.

Because of the deficit, LSU fans began leaving the Pete Maravich Assembly Center en masse before the final horn sounded on the 78-63 loss.  And because of that, LSU defensive back Jamal Adams took to Twitter to vent his frustration over the exodus.

Adams may take some heat from the LSU faithful, but he can take solace in knowing that, more than likely, Nick Saban has got his back on this front.

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Former BYU QB Christian Stewart rejoins team for spring ball

Christian Stewart

Christian Stewart played in 11 games in 2014, starting the final eight after Taysom Hill was lost for the season in October. The senior completed 199-of-348 passes for 2,621 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. After throwing only two passes in 2013, Stewart stepped up and shined when needed, throwing for 408 yards and four touchdowns against Nevada and 433 yards with five touchdowns in a shootout win over California to close the regular season.

He had a rough day in the Miami Beach Bowl loss to Memphis, hitting only 23-of-48 passes for 348 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, and that, supposedly, was that.

But Hill is not yet ready to return from injury and sophomore McCoy Hill injured his foot to open spring drills on Monday. Tanner Mangum is still on his church mission, and signee Beau Hoge has yet arrive on campus. Sophomore Hunter Moore is also on the roster, but not capable of properly testing the Cougars’ defense in an 11-on-11 setting, so BYU brought Stewart back for spring ball.

“I said, ‘You’re like gum on my shoe,'” head coach Bronco Mendenhall told the Associated Press. “‘I can’t get rid of you. No matter if I pull it, I stretch it, it just snaps back.’ So we laughed. Talk about a loyal alumni. I think he was maybe more excited than I was that he gets to play football again. Our team, they already loved him before, now he’s like idol status.”

BYU compliance cleared Stewart to practice in the spring, the AP noted, without penalizing the club. And it didn’t take much convincing to give Stewart one last shot at college football.

“I don’t necessarily feel any pressure, especially because what are the coaches going to do? Yell at me?” Stewart said. “They can’t really get on me because I’m the one doing them a favor. But myself, I demand a lot out of myself.”

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Michigan State WR Macgarrett Kings Jr. arrested over the weekend

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Michigan State v Baylor Getty Images

Nearly 11 months to the day after his first arrest, Michigan State wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. was again in handcuffs. The rising senior was arrested over the weekend for drunken and disorderly conduct and obstructing, resisting, hindering or assaulting a police officer, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press.

He was taken into custody at 2:36 on Saturday morning and released on $200 bail.

Kings missed spring ball last year for a violation of team rules. It was later revealed that a DUI arrest was the cause for the suspension.

A similar punishment could be in line here.

“We’re aware of the incident,” head coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “All of our student-athletes are held to a high standard, and individuals will be held accountable for their actions. We will manage this situation internally.”

The Free Press notes that Kings was sentenced to 13 months of probation last summer, but it was cut short in December. Part of that suspension he would still otherwise be subject to included avoiding alcohol and establishments where alcohol is served.

In 35 games, Kings has caught 76 career passes for 942 yards. With Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery lost for graduation, Kings’ 29 grabs for 404 yards and a touchdown qualifies him as the Spartans’ leading returning receiver. He was also the team’s punt returner in 2014.

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Gus Malzahn on downfield rule: “That’s part of the creativity of the game.”

Gus Malzahn

If you can’t beat ‘em, legislate ‘em.

That’s the way Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn sees it. One year after conference foes Nick Saban and Bret Bielema led the charge to institute a 10-second delay before snapping the ball, the NCAA is now considering reducing the space offensive linemen are permitted to roam downfield on pass plays from three yards to one.

“That’s part of the creativity of the game,” Malzahn told AL.com on Wednesday. “I’m not into anything that takes the creativity out of the game. You know, you see a lot of coaches around the country, specifically high school coaches that are coaching in college, that’s very important to them.”

Malzahn, like many of his offensive-minded peers, would rather see the existing rule enforced before creating a new one.

“You know, that’s been a rule that’s been in place for a while, and you see a lot of offenses utilizing that,” Malzahn said. “My whole deal is just make it a point of emphasis to start calling it if guys are downfield.”

The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel is slated to meet Thursday and decide on whether or not to implement the change.

The good news for Malzahn, though: if the rule does pass, there’s no one in college football better suited to find a new, creative way to drive his peers crazy.

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‘Incidents’ lead Syracuse DT Ryan Sloan to leave team

Ryan Sloan, L.J. Scott, Robert Welsh, Durell Eskridge AP

A player who would’ve been competing for playing time along Syracuse’s defensive line has instead decided to call it quits.

The Syracuse Post-Standard reported Tuesday that Ryan Sloan (pictured, top right) has decided to take his leave of the Orange football team.  The fifth-year senior lineman will not transfer, rather finish out his academic career at the ‘Cuse and earn his degree in child and family studies in May.

Sloan’s decision to quit the team came against the advice of his family.

“After multiple long conversations with my step parents (who strongly suggested that I stay a fifth year), I came to the decision that I didn’t want to come back,” Sloan said. “I didn’t feel like it was the right place for me anymore. There were a couple of incidents that happened over the past two years that made me realize ‘Cuse wasn’t the right place for me.”

The Post-Standard described those incidents, as relayed by the player it should be noted, thusly:

Sloan said he felt pressured to transfer by the Syracuse staff in 2013, was held out of summer workouts due to a weight requirement the following offseason and wasn’t guaranteed a fifth year of eligibility until late in his redshirt junior year.

Sloan played 14 games the past two seasons, including a career-high 10 in 2014.

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Ruptured Achilles sidelines UK QB Reese Phillips

Tennessee v. Kentucky AP

It hasn’t been a very good last couple of months for Kentucky at the quarterback position.

In early January, Maxwell Smith announced he was transferring from UK, ultimately ending up at San Diego State.  Three weeks later, Drew Barker, along with two Wildcat teammates, was allegedly involved in a bar dispute that ended with an Eastern Kentucky football player suffering from multiple facial fractures.

Now the football program has an injury at the position with which to deal.  The mother of Reese Phillips announced on Facebook Wednesday that her son had ruptured his Achilles tendon and she was on her way to Lexington to be with him.  The university subsequently confirmed that Phillips sustained the injury during team workouts earlier today.

Phillips will undergo surgery Thursday and won’t participate in spring practice, although there’s a chance he could be back for summer camp.

The injury and Smith’s transfer leaves the Wildcats painfully thin at quarterback, with just two scholarship players available this spring: Barker and last year’s starter, Patrick Towles.  As for Barker’s potential legal predicament that could potentially sideline him for at least part of the spring?

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