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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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Reserve GaTech QB transfers to Oregon

Ty Griffin

This offseason has seen Oregon lose two reserve quarterbacks to transfers.  With today’s development, that net loss at the position has been cut in half.

In a tweet posted to his Twitter account, Ty Griffin announced that he is officially transferring into the Ducks football program.  Griffin will have to sit out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Griffin serve as a backup to the backup in his lone season at Georgia Tech.  He was a two-star member of the Yellow Jackets’ 2013 class coming out of high school in Georgia.

Griffin also happens to be the older brother of Taj Griffin, a four-star 2015 recruit rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the country.  Coincidentally or not, the younger Griffin verbally committed to the Ducks in April.

(Photo credit: Georgia Tech athletics)

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Report: ex-Wazzu QB headed to Louisville

Tyler Bruggman

Less than two weeks ago, it was reported that Tyler Bruggman was leaving Washington State. At the time, Bruggman was rumored to have been released from his Wazzu scholarship to Arkansas, Duke, Indiana and Louisville.

As it turns out, it appears the latter ACC school has won out.

According to 247Sports.com, Bruggman has decided to transfer to Louisville to continue his collegiate playing career. The UofL has yet to announce the player’s addition to the roster.

More than likely, Bruggman will be forced to sit out the 2014 season. He would, though, have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Bruggman was a four-star member of Mike Leach‘s first Wazzu recruiting class in 2013, rated as the No. 18 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Arizona. He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Shortly before national Signing Day in 2013, he flipped to Wazzu from Arizona State. He also held offers from, among others, Arizona, Arkansas, BYU, Duke, Michigan State and Ole Miss.

(Photo credit: Washington State athletics)

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Injured LSU frosh released from hospital

Trey Lealaimatafao

The news regarding an incoming freshman keeps getting better and better.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, LSU defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was released from a local hospital Wednesday. Two days earlier, Lealaimatafao was rushed to the hospital after reportedly punching a glass window in LSU’s weight room.  The player was reportedly upset following an argument with his girlfriend.

Initial reports that Lealaimatafao was facing an amputation of his arm proved incorrect.

“He’s recovering and the family has asked that no other details be released,” a school spokesperson told the Times-Picayune. “They appreciate all the concern and outpouring of support but have nothing further to say.”

Lealaimatafao, a three-star member of the Tigers’ most recent recruiting class, is expected to miss the entire 2014 season because of the injury.

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James Franklin opens up about daughter’s sickle-cell

James Franklin AP

Since taking over at Penn State, and even dating back to his time at Vanderbilt, James Franklin may have ruffled a feather or two or 50.  The following story, however, might soften some of those rough edges.

Wednesday, the new Nittany Lions head coach and some of his players visited a children’s hospital in Hershey, Pa.  During the course of a meeting with the media, Franklin dropped some 411 on something that, as far as we can ascertain, has never been made public.

“You know, this (hospital visit) is important to us, too, because our youngest daughter has sickle-cell disease, the full-blown disease,” Franklin said according to PennLive.com.

Five-year-old Addy, the coach revealed, was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia shortly after her birth. As the website notes, the disease affects 100,000 people, most of whom are black.

Franklin also acknowledged that the presence of experts in the blood disorder’s field in the state played a role, at least on some level, in him leaving Vanderbilt for Penn State.

“It was a big factor in us coming to Penn State, making sure that we were going to have the right type of support,” said the coach. “We’re fortunate, our daughter’s doing great but I know then when they come, we’re going to come and have a trip down here and sit down and talk to the doctors.

“And then fortunately, the person that used to run the sickle-cell branch here at the (Hershey) hospital now is in State College. So it’s a tremendous blessing.”

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher revealed back in August of 2011 that his young son was battling a rare blood disorder, and subsequently announced a foundation that would raise money to research and combat the illness. Franklin said during his visit to the hospital today that they talked “about possibly getting my wife involved in, and fundraising at the hospital or starting a foundation” to raise money for sickle-cell research.

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January the estimated ETA for ex-Vols QB in Charlotte

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptcyzdfhode2nwjlnwq4nwiynmzknwuwyjzmmjkzntyx AP

Earlier this month it was reported that erstwhile Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson would be transferring to Charlotte.

While that still appears to be the case, it won’t happen for a little bit further down the road.

Josh Ward of Knoxville radio station WNML tweeted earlier this evening that Ferguson will enroll at Charlotte in January of next year.  Ward confirmed the development with the player’s father. Ferguson’s brother Zach is a redshirt sophomore on the football team, which likely played a role on some level in his move to the school.

UT head coach Butch Jones confirmed in late May that it was very likely Ferguson would be leaving the Vols.

Because he will sit out the 2014 season, Ferguson will be eligible to play for the 49ers in 2015, when the current FCS program makes its official transition to the FBS as a Conference USA member.

A three-star member of the Vols’ 2013 recruiting class, Ferguson was rated as the No. 23 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in North Carolina. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

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Dave Wannstedt back in college football — as TV analyst

Dave Wannstedt AP

For those college football fans who’ve yearned for the return of the mustachioed Camaro man, today’s your lucky day.

Since “resigning” — winkwinknudgenudge — as Pittsburgh’s head coach December of 2011, Dave Wannstedt has served as an assistant at the professional level, spending two years with the Buffalo Bills and 2013 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Now, however, he’s back in college football, albeit in a slightly different capacity.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wannstedt revealed that he will serve as a television analyst for the 2014 season.  The long-time coach will be a part of FOX Sports’ college football pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with co-hosting a weekly show on the Big Ten Network.

“I guess I am moving to the dark side, so to speak,” the coach told the Post-Gazette. “I reached out to several media outlets to see if I could get into the TV side of things and Fox offered me this job after several discussions.

“I have always had it in the back of my mind that this is what I wanted to do and now I have the opportunity and it should be really a lot of fun and I think it is something that will be a challenge but that I’m really looking forward to.”

The paper writes that Wannstedt “will be based in Chicago but will fly to Los Angeles for the Fox Shows each weekend.”

The 62-year-old Wannstedt didn’t state either way whether he’d like to continue his coaching career.

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Five-star recruit facing felony ‘denies the charges’

Darnell Salomon

There’s been yet another development in a situation involving a highly-rated member of the Class of 2016.

Earlier today it was reported that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of 17-year-old Darnell Salomon.  The five-star wide receiver has been accused of stealing items — iPhone 5, credit cards, cash — from a dorm room on the Georgia campus while he attended an UGA football camp.

In a statement sent to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Salomon’s attorney did the expected and proclaimed his client’s innocence.  He also said he is working with authorities in Georgia to have his client, who lives in Florida, turn himself in on the warrant.

“Darnell and his family were informed of the issuance of a warrant for his arrest earlier today. Since that time our office has been in contact with the Athens-Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s Office. We are currently working in cooperation with these officials to arrange his surrender. Our client denies the charges presented against him. Darnell and his family wish to thank those who have offered words of encouragement and support during this difficult time.”

I should also point out that I received some bad information earlier today — the charge Salomon is facing is a felony, not a misdemeanor as I had previously been told.

It’s unclear how this incident and the charge will impact the recruitment of Salomon, who holds more than a dozen offers from high-profile schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Tennessee and USC.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Bearcats, Hoosiers make future home-and-home official

Football vs. Bowling Green State University, 09/14/13_Mike Dickbernd

A short time after it was first reported, the two football parties made it official.

In twin press releases, Cincinnati and Indiana confirmed that the two football programs will square off in a future home-and-home series. The Hoosiers will host the Bearcats on Sept. 18, 2021, with UC returning the hosting favor Sept. 24, 2022.

The Bearcats have future games scheduled against Ohio State (2014, 2019), Miami (Fla.) (2015), Michigan (2017) and Boise State (2019, 2020) while the Hoosiers have, well, nothing even remotely resembling that level of non-conference competition.

“Facing Cincinnati reinforces our commitment to adding strong non-conference programs to our future schedules,” IU athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement. “It is a great opportunity for our large alumni base in the Greater Cincinnati Area to come out and watch the Hoosiers. Along with the addition of UConn (2019, 2020), we are set up to reach our goal of playing seven home games every season and are consistent with the Big Ten’s policy that each school play at least one major conference opponent in the non-conference each year.”

The two teams have met on a football field 14 times, with Indiana holding a 9-3-2 advantage that includes wins in the last five games played. The last time they squared off was in 1998.

(Photo credit: Indiana athletics)

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Future Stanford-SJSU games might be at 49ers’ new home

Levi's Stadium

Earlier this offseason, the Pac-12 announced that Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, would host its conference championship game for the next three years.

Depending how things shake out in the coming months, the NFL stadium could be seeing some regular season college football action as well.

San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News Wednesday that talks have been initiated between his school and Stanford about renewing their series.  If that series returns, the coach also confirmed, it would likely take place at a neutral site, Levi’s Stadium.

There’s some fringe talk about it,” Caragher said about playing a neutral site game/games with the Cardinal. “Has anything been finalized? Not necessarily. But I think it’d be great.”

SJSU and Stanford have met on a football field 67 times since the first game was played in 1900.  However, last year’s game — a 34-13 Cardinal win in Stanford Stadium in the season opener — was the final game between the two programs until a new contract is signed.

Stanford comfortably leads the in-state series 52-14-1, with San Jose State’s last win coming in 2006.

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Larry Scott’s the anti-Bowlsby, optimistic on future of college sports

Alfred E. Neuman

In leading off the Big 12 media Days Monday, commissioner Bob Bowlsby painted a bleak picture of the future of athletics at the collegiate level, stating that, because of the O’Bannon lawsuit and the like, both men’s and women’s Olympic sports could be eliminated.

His Pac-12 counterpart, on the other hand, has taken the Alfred E. Neuman approach to the sports horizon on the college front.

Speaking as he kicked off his conference’s media days Wednesday, Larry Scott (pictured) acknowledged the gloom and doom some have espoused as of late.    For his part, however, the future’s so bright he might as well wear shades.

“While we’ve heard some doomsday and some threats over the last week, I am very confident and optimistic about where college sports is going,” the commissioner said during his address to the media. “We know there are some significant challenges out there, and we know it’s time to make significant changes. Today requires that we do more for student-athletes who work so hard to find balance for their passions for their sport while still wanting to get an education.”

It wasn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows from Scott as the commissioner warned that going to the professional model — i.e. paying athletes as employees of the universities — for football and perhaps basketball could make Bowlsby’s comments very prescient.

“We need to make necessary reforms, and we will,” he said. “But radically changing the model into a professional model or trying to reinvent the construct where student-athletes are treated as employees would threaten the existence of many women’s sports (and) Olympic sports.”

Our best guess? The future of college sports will fall somewhere closer to Scott’s optimism than Bowlsby’s dire pessimism. There’s too much money at stake, and too many smart individuals like Scott involved, for it to not work itself out in the end. Certainly collegiate athletics will have a different look even just a decade down the road, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Change is necessary, whether it’s forced through the courts or voluntarily with the universities and the NCAA coming to their collective senses and realizing the current system is broke and in dire need of a major renovation.

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Warrant issued for five-star WR implicated in UGA dorm theft

iPhone theft

A couple of days later, we now have a name to go with the accusation.

Monday it was reported that an unidentified 2016 football recruit was the prime suspect in the burglary of a Georgia dorm. The player, who was staying with a pair of Bulldog football players during a camp, allegedly stole a wallet with cash and a pair of credit cards in it as well as an iPhone 5 out of the room of two female Bulldog athletes.

It was initially reported that the player likely wasn’t facing an arrest or extradition because he was a juvenile from out of state. That turned out to not be the case as multiple media outlets Wednesday reported that Darnell Salomon, the recruit in question, has a warrant out for his arrest in connection to the incident.

It’s believed the charge will be of the misdemeanor variety.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

It’s unclear at this point whether Salomon plans to turn himself in to fight the charges. According to the police report, UGA Police Sgt. Dale Parrish of the notified Salomon’s mother that a warrant had been taken and the procedure for turning himself into the Athens-Clarke County Sherriff’s Office.

The 17-year-old Salomon’s high school football coach proclaimed his player’s innocence.

“When the facts in the case come out we’re all sure Darnell Salomon will be cleared of all charges,” Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic Mike Tunsil told 247Sports.com in a statement.

That same recruiting website lists Salomon as a five-star prospect and the No. 3 wide receiver in the Class of 2016. The same holds true for Scout.com.

The 6-2, 186-pound high schooler holds scholarship offers from a veritable who’s who of the college football elite: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina Tennessee and USC just to name a few.

Salomon has yet to verbally commit to any school, although he still has two seasons worth of high school football to get through. Well, that and this legal hiccup.

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Aggravated assault arrest leads to Georgia dismissing DT Taylor

Georgia Bulldogs logo

Following an arrest for aggravated assault earlier this week, Georgia has dismissed defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor. As reported yesterday, Taylor was arrested for the second time this offseason, this time being charged for aggravated assault on a female.

According to The Telegraph, Taylor was released from jail after 28 hours. Soon after his release from jail, the University of Georgia athletics department released a brief statement confirming his dismissal from the football program. Taylor is now the third player on Georgia’s defense to be given the boot this offseason.

Taylor was arrested in March following theft by deception charges against he and three other Georgia players. To avoid a suspension by the team at that time, Taylor entered a pre-trial intervention program. Unfortunately, it appears Taylor was unable to stay out of trouble and will now have bigger problems to worry about. Any arrest or citation is considered a violation of the program.

As far as football is concerned, which really is trivial at best when discussing a player accused of strangling a woman, Georgia should be able to survive the depth concern on the defensive line. The Bulldogs return five players with experience and have recruited well at the position, but now the focus on recruiting for the future will have to shift a bit more on the defensive front than initially expected.

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West Virginia, NC State announce 2018-2019 series

Dana Holgorsen

West Virginia has not been shy on scheduling news this week. In addition to plans to play Tennessee in Charlotte to open the 2018 season and head coach Dana Holgorsen suggesting a revival of The Backyard Brawl with Pittsburgh, the Mountaineers rolled out plans for a home-and-home series with a different ACC opponent, North Carolina State. West Virginia and North Carolina State will square off in 2018 and 2019, according to a West Virginia statement.

West Virginia will host NC State on September 15, 2018. North Carolina State will host the second game the following season on September 14, 2019. This scheduling agreement will satisfy NC State’s non-conference scheduling requirement in the ACC, which requires each member to schedule a power conference opponent each season in non-conference play. NC State now has the non-conference scheduling requirement fulfilled from 2017 through 2021 (at Notre Dame in 2017, WVU in 2018 and 2019, Mississippi State home-and-home in 2020 and 2021).

As noted above, West Virginia is scheduled to open the 2018 season in Charlotte against Tennessee, giving the Mountaineers two non-conference games against power conference opponents in 2018 with one game to fill. As it stands now, there is no scheduling requirement in the Big 12 to schedule non-conference opponents from other power conferences (although it is certainly encouraged by Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops).

“I am excited about this series, because it gives our football program and our fans an outstanding home-and-home series with a team from the ACC,” West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck said in the released statement. “WVU has a lot of alumni living in North Carolina, especially in the triangle region, so it gives our fans a game that is close. We have had a competitive games over the years with NC State, and this is a chance to restart the series.”

In all, the two schools have faced each other 10 times on the football field, with the most recent meeting coming in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. Each school has won five games in the series that dates back to 1914.

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Did Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops criticize Texas A&M’s scheduling? YESSIR!

Bob Stoops

Bob Stoops has been making the rounds through the ESPN Car Wash today and he has been throwing out a couple nuggets worth digesting. Aside from his latest jab at Alabama head coach Nick Saban‘s thoughts on the Sugar Bowl, Stoops took aim at non-conference scheduling by a former Big 12 foe, Texas A&M.

Texas A&M opens the regular season on the road in SEC play against South Carolina, the favorite to come out of the SEC East this fall, but after that the Aggies have home games against Lamar (and FCS school) and Rice. After that is a road game at SMU. On November 1 Texas A&M will host UL Monroe in College Station the week before a road game at Auburn. Looking at the non-conference schedule for the Aggies leaves Stoops unimpressed.

Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule is anything but a murderer’s row, that much is for sure. Lamar is coming off a 5-6 season at the FCS level last season. Rice made a surprise run to a Conference USA West Division championship and ended the season with a record of 10-4, but the Owls are hardly considered among the elite of the Group of Five at this point. SMU filed to meet eligibility for postseason play with a 5-7 record and ULM broke even at 6-6 but was not invited to a bowl game.

To be fair, Oklahoma has rarely gone out and put together one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country on an annual basis, but the Sooners have lined up some marquee non-conference opponents for home-and-home opportunities. Recent seasons have seen Oklahoma play Notre Dame and Florida State while future seasons will see Ohio State, UCLA and historic rival Nebraska. But the Sooners have a share of games against programs like Tulsa and UTEP littered throughout as well. Texas A&M will have future games against Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon coming up as well.

The other part of the argument is how difficult Texas A&M’s conference schedule will be compared to that of Oklahoma over the course of time as well. The Sooners may have to battle a resurgent Texas in due time, and Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor have their moments, but the Aggies are pit in the same division as Alabama, Auburn and LSU.

Is Stoops fair to criticize the difficulty of Texas A&M’s schedule?

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Win The Pac-12: Oregon Ducks picked as preseason media favorite

Marcus Mariota

Stanford has ruled supreme in the Pac-12 each of the past two seasons, but Oregon is picked to return to the top of the Pac-12 mountain in 2014. Oregon has been picked to finish first in the Pac-12 North Division, receiving 37 first-place votes in a media poll, and to win the Pac-12, receiving 24 out of a possible 39 votes.

Oregon ran away with first-place votes in the division voting. Two-time defending Pac-12 champion Stanford received just two first-place votes in the north. Washington, Oregon State, Washington State and California followed in the Pac-12 North Division predictions, respectively. UCLA ended up running away with the Pac-12 South Division votes as well. The Bruins, among the more trendy College Football Playoff contenders this offseason, received 37 of 39 first-place votes in the South. USC and defending division champion Arizona State each received one. The Trojans are predicted to finish in second place in the south, followed by Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

In a rematch of the first Pac-12 Championship Game in conference history, Oregon is predicted to once again top UCLA, receiving 24 votes to UCLA’s 13. Stanford and USC each received one Pac-12 championship vote from the media at Pac-12 media day. Oregon is also widely considered one of the top contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Here are the Pac-12 predictions, as released by the Pac-12 Wednesday.

NORTH DIVISION

1. Oregon (37) 232

2. Stanford (2) 192

3. Washington 142

4. Oregon State 125

5. Washington State 87

6. California 41

SOUTH DIVISION

1. UCLA (37) 231

2. USC (1) 181

3. Arizona State (1) 163

4. Arizona 119

5. Utah 82

6. Colorado 43

PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: Oregon (24 votes)

Others receiving votes:  UCLA (13), Stanford (1), USC (1)

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