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BYU goes bowling, clinches Fight Hunger Bowl bid with Boise State win

Ross Apo AP

For the first time in program history, BYU defeated Boise State. The Cougars topped the Broncos by a score of 37-20 Friday night in Provo. Taysom Hill passed for 339 yards, three touchdowns and rushed for 69 yards and another touchdown in the victory. With the win, BYU automatically qualifies to fill their previously arranged spot in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, so BYU is the first team to officially be going bowling this season.

BYU was in control from start to finish in this game, taking advantage of a more talented and deeper roster than a Boise State team that is in a bit of a rebuilding mode. BYU has put together some impressive wins this season and that is worth recalling. Aside from their blowout win over Texas and how they played against Boise State, BYU has played well in victories over Utah State (without Chuckie Keeton), Georgia Tech and previously undefeated Houston. If not for a the horrendous weather conditions in the season opener against Virginia, BYU has looked the part of a program worthy of consideration for a BCS at-large, in the same boat as Fresno State and Northern Illinois. You could even make an argument BYU has put together a better profile than Fresno State or Northern Illinois, but if nothing else we know BYU will be playing in the Fight Hunger Bowl. BYU will take on a team from the Pac 12 in the San Francisco-based bowl game played in the home of baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

Boise State is certainly not the same program they were in recent years. In addition to being without injured starting quarterback Joe Southwick, the Broncos lack the same kind of defensive talent they had during their BCS runs in recent seasons. Fortunately for the Broncos, the loss to BYU means nothing for the fate of this season. Boise State will still be sitting at the top of the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division after Saturday’s college football action, and the Broncos will still be in control of their potential path to a conference championship game. Having already lost two games this season, any shot at a BCS spot was lost a while ago, but a chance to play for the conference championship is still their’s to lose in their division.

Boise State’s Dillon Lukehart was ejected for a hit on BYU’s Cody Hoffman on a catch that looked like it would be good for a touchdown. But the hit jarred the football loose and a video review upheld the ejection. Because there was helmet to helmet contact, there was little to dispute with this particular targeting call. With the ejection taking place in the second half of the game, Lukehart will have to sit out the first half of Boise State’s game next week at Colorado State.

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Herd names Birdsong as Cato’s successor at QB

2015 0419 mu football AP

Now we officially know who’ll be charged with the unenviable task of replacing Rakeem Cato under center for Marshall.

Herd head coach Doc Holliday announced Monday that Michael Birdsong has been named as his starting quarterback exiting spring practice.  Birdsong, who sat out the 2014 season after transferring from James Madison of the FCS, had been engaged in a spring-long battle with three other players: junior Gunnar Holcombe and freshmen Chase Litton and Cole Garvin.

While Birdsong was named the starter in April, it appears his name was written in pencil and not pen on the team’s depth chart, and he’ll have to keep fighting to hold the same title in September.

“Michael Birdsong is our No. 1 quarterback,” Holliday said. “Now, it’s up to him to keep the job through the summer conditioning and August camp, but he’s shown us he can do what we want and what we need.”

If Birdsong is indeed the man who’ll replace Cato, he’ll have tremendously big shoes to fill.

Cato was a four-year starter for the Herd and left Huntington with most of the school’s passing records, including career yards (14,079), completions (1,153), attempts (1,838), touchdowns (131) and total offense (14,918). He also holds the FBS record for most consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass (46), breaking the record last season that was previously set by Russell Wilson (38, 2009-2011).

One advantage Birdsong will have, especially over the other three, is game experience, even as Holcombe served as Cato’s primary backup last season and attempted 21 passes in mop-up duty. In two seasons at James Madison, Birdsong started 14 games, including 12 in his final season with the FCS program in 2013.

Still, living up to the legacy left by Cato on and off the field will be a tall order for anyone, including the current front-runner.

“Birdsong (6-5, 242 pounds) is different than Cato (6-0, 176), because of his height, and his size and his physical presence,” Holliday explained. “Cato could beat people with his feet. His escapability was there; he always had his eyes down the field. I think Birdsong is very similar.

“Cato had that ‘it’ factor. Cato had a knack about him to make plays when things went bad, and we’re hoping Birdsong can do the same thing.”

(Photo credit: Marshall athletics)

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VIDEO: Urban Meyer says all signs point to Braxton Miller staying

Ohio State Buckeyes v Penn State Nittany Lions 10-26-2013

After a couple of months of relative quiet and calm on that front, the will-he-or-won’t-he questions returned in full force last week as rumors connected Braxton Miller to a potential transfer to Alabama.

The rehabbing Ohio State quarterback had indicated at a rally to celebrate the squad’s national championship that he will return to the Buckeyes for his senior season.  Head coach Urban Meyer has seemed fairly confident all along that he’ll have a three-man quarterback competition this summer that will include Miller.

Tuesday, the head coach’s stance was no different.  In an interview with Dan Patrick, Meyer was asked, among other things, about Miller’s status.  According to Meyer, all indications are that he will be coaching the player in 2015.

 

Meyer, as he has since spring practice started, gave Patrick no indication as to who the leader amongst Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett is or isn’t heading into the summer.  The coaching staff hopes to have a starter named by mid-August, which would leave roughly three weeks before the season opener on the road against Virginia Tech.

While a lot can happen between now and the start of camp in early August, it appears Meyer will have three players from which to choose.

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Fresno St. adds four-star UCLA commit as one of four late signees

L.J. Reed

National Signing Day has been in the rear-view mirror for pretty much everyone for the last couple of months — except for Fresno State, that is.

In a press release sent out Monday night, the Left Coast FSU announced that it has added four new signees to its 2015 recruiting class.  Included in that group is L.J. Reed (pictured).

Reed comes to the Bulldogs as a four-star prospect, rated as the No. 39 wide receiver in the country and the No. 51 player at any position in the state of California by Rivals.com.  Reed is the highest-rated member of FSU’s Class of 2015, whose ceiling prior to the receiver’s arrival was 10 three-star recruits.

Reed had been verbally committed to UCLA since April of last year but didn’t sign with the Bruins this past February.  Instead, he flipped his commitment to Fresno earlier this month before signing an athletic aid agreement with the school.

Prior to yesterday, FSU didn’t have a receiver in this year’s class; now they have three.  In addition to Reed, Josiah Blandin (three-star) and Kheenyon Woods (not listed in Rivals.com’s database) were players added to the position overnight.

The fourth late signee is defensive lineman Nick Kristofors, a JUCO transfer.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Marcquis Roberts lands with Jayhawks after leaving Gamecocks

For the second time in less than 24 hours, Kansas has been the beneficiary of a Power Five transfer.

Two months after leaving South Carolina, Marcquis Roberts announced Monday night that he has decided to transfer into the KU football program.  Roberts will have to sit out the 2015 season, and will then have one season of eligibility remaining for the 2016 season.

And, if Roberts can stay healthy, he’d be a significant addition to the Jayhawks’ defense.

Injuries, in fact, have been the hallmark of Roberts’ time with the Gamecocks. After coming to Columbia as a three-star member of USC’s 2011 recruiting class, he did not play as a true freshman due to a shoulder injury incurred during his high school playing days in Georgia. He then missed the following season with a torn ACL.

Following successful rehab, he returned to start nine games in 2013 and five in 2014.  Prior to his decision to transfer, it was revealed that Roberts would miss spring practice due to a torn labrum.

Sunday night, former Texas A&M wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez announced via Twitter that he’d be transferring to KU.

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WR Devin Lucien goes from Bruins to Sun Devils

UCLA v Washington Getty Images

As it happens, Devin Lucien‘s transfer will be an intraconference and an intradivision one.

Overnight, ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad first reported and the Arizona Republic‘s Doug Haller subsequently confirmed, Lucien revealed that he has decided transfer to Arizona State and finish out his collegiate career playing for the Sun Devils.  The move, which has yet to be confirmed by ASU, comes nearly a month after the wide receiver decided to leave UCLA.

According to the player, a current Sun Devil factored into his decision.

As noted in the tweet above, Lucien will enter ASU as a graduate transfer, which means he will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.  And, with the Sun Devils looking for help in replacing Jaelen Strong’s lost production (82-1,165-10) and losing Cameron Smith (41-596-6) to a March knee injury that will cost him the entire 2015 season, having Lucien onboard will certainly aid in that endeavor.

Last season, Lucien’s 29 receptions were second on the team, although he averaged just 7.8 yards per catch.  During summer camp leading up to the 2014 season, Lucien sustained a head injury in practice serious enough that he was taken to a local hospital via ambulance.  Released the following day, Lucien passed a concussion test and returned to practice less than a week later.

In 2013, Lucien overcame a back injury to start three of the 13 games in which he played, catching 10 passes for 208 yards. The year before, he was the team’s third-leading receiver (10-188) before a broken clavicle knocked him out for the remainder of the regular season.

Lucien’s loss to UCLA, on the other hand, will be a minimal one as, outside of him, the Bruins will return their top seven leading pass catchers.

The Bruins, incidentally, will host the Sun Devils Oct. 3 of this year.  Those two programs, UCLA in 2011 and 2012 and ASU in 2013, combined to win the first three Pac-12 South titles before Arizona wrested the the division crown away in 2014.

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Ex-Vol Dewayne Hendrix moves on to Pitt

Chattanooga v Tennessee

Four months after bolting Rocky Top, erstwhile Tennessee defensive lineman Dewayne Hendrix has found himself a new football home .

Monday evening, Hendrix announced that he has decided to transfer to Pittsburgh and continue his playing career with the Panthers.  In addition to Pitt, Hendrix had considered Illinois, Iowa State and Northern Illinois.  He had taken visits to the Panthers, Huskies and Cyclones.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Hendrix will have to sit out the 2015 season.  Beginning in 2016, however, the lineman will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Hendrix played his high school football in the state of Illinois, but apparently Hendrix felt more comfortable with the situation in Pittsburgh.  Certainly the Panthers’ new head coach, Pat Narduzzi, was pumped over the player’s decision, despite the official decision not having been made public at the time of his tweet.

Back in mid-December, UT head coach Butch Jones announced that Hendrix was one of two Vols planning to leave the program. A search for a greater opportunity at meaningful playing time was part of the impetus for the decision.

A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Hendrix was rated as the No. 5 strongside defensive end in the country; the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Illinois; and the No. 78 recruit over all by Rivals.com. He played in seven games as a true freshman last season.

Hendrix is the second former UT player to transfer to Pitt in the past two months, joining quarterback Nathan Peterman.

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Miss. St.’s Deshun Dixon arrested on drunk-driving charge

A young girl looks at a Danish fans drin AP

With another weekend in the books, another college football player has gotten the proverbial book thrown at him.

The Starkville Daily News is reporting that Mississippi State’s Deshun Dixon was arrested over the weekend and charged with driving under the influence.  The arrest occurred very early Sunday morning, although no further details have been made available.

MSU’s only comment on the development is no comment.

Dixon, the younger brother of MSU all-time leading rusher Anthony Dixon, spent three years playing minor league baseball (2010-12) before joining the Bulldogs as a walk-on this spring.  He’s currently listed as a freshman “athlete” on the program’s online roster.

In addition to Anthony Dixon, Deshun Dixon is also the brother of current MSU tight end Rashun Dixon.  That particular Dixon spent six years playing minor league baseball before joining the Bulldogs last July.

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VIDEO: Oregon athletes say thank you to Marcus Mariota

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On the field, no one did it better under center for Oregon than Marcus Mariota.

He was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection each of the last two years, and left the Ducks holding the all-time school record for, among others, total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns.  He stands as the conference’s all-time leader in total touchdowns and the league’s single-season leader for passing yards and passing touchdowns.  He staked his claim to a slew of awards including the Walter Camp, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, Manning and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm as well as being the first-ever UO player to be the recipient of the Heisman Trophy.

Off the field he may have been even more impressive as there might not have been a more likable or respected player in all of college football.

And, for all of that, the university is grateful.  In particular, his former fellow student-athletes at the school, who put together a “thank you” video and released a couple of days before Mariota is expected to be selected no lower than No. 2 in the NFL draft.

 

Simple and extremely well done.  Bravo, young men and women.

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SEC coaches won’t be permitted to accept Harbaugh’s camp invite

Michigan Football Spring Game

Not that we really expected any different outcome, but coaches in the Southern part of the country won’t be permitted to accept Jim Harbaugh‘s offer of Northern hospitality.

Late last week, in the midst of criticism from others in his profession over the controversial move of guest coaching at satellite camps across the country, Harbaugh took to Twitter to invite all college football coaches to a Michigan camp this summer.  Even as “guest coaches,” SEC coaches are barred by their conference from attending such camps more than 50 miles from their campus and, unfortunately, that will remain the case.

Well that’s a buzzkill.  The thought of Nick Saban or Les Miles or Steve Spurrier guest coaching in Ann Arbor is enough to make a grown man giddy.

Oh well, maybe next year — unless that loophole’s closed across the board as some are pushing for, that is.

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FSU gets Winston accuser’s lawsuit moved from Orlando to Tallahassee

Jameis Winston; David Cornwell AP

After seeking and failing to get a lawsuit filed against tossed, at least for now, Florida State has claimed one legal victory.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the lawsuit filed against the university by Erica Kinsman, the former FSU student who accused Jameis Winston of raping her, has been moved from a federal court in Orlando to one in Tallahassee.  The U.S. District Judge in Orlando, Gregory Presnell, agreed with FSU’s contention that he had no jurisdiction over the school.

Kinsman’s lawyers had argued against the change of venue, with the alleged victim claiming she fearful of her safety if the case was moved to Tallahassee.  She also feared she couldn’t get a fair trial in the same city in which Winston had starred for the Seminoles.

In January of this year, Kinsman filed the lawsuit, seeking a trial by jury and damages, against the university’s trustees.  In the suit, it was claimed that the university was responsible for Title IX violations because of a ‘clearly unreasonable response'” to the sexual assault allegations and “allowing a ‘hostile educational environment.'”

Winston was never charged criminally in connection to the allegations of sexual assault. The lawsuit was filed nearly three weeks after Winston was cleared in the school code of conduct hearing, which was also connected to the rape allegations.  The accuser appealed that ruling, but it was subsequently upheld.

In April of last year, attorney’s for the accuser blasted the university for either delaying or outright terminating a Title IX investigation into the allegations. Five months later, it was reported that the university had reopened the investigation.

Winston’s adviser subsequently released a scathing statement claiming that the accuser was the one dragging her feet when it came to the federally-mandated investigation.  That adviser, David Cornwell, also accused the alleged victim’s camp of seeking $7 million from Winston to keep quiet.

Also in April of last year, it was reported that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.

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Surgery in the offing for Jayhawk QB Michael Cummings

Michael Cummings (14)

The quarterback position at Kansas took a significant shot over the weekend.  Just how significant remains to be seen.

As previously reported, Michael Cummings sustained a knee injury in Saturday’s spring game.  Two days later, KU announced that Cummings will undergo surgery in the not-too-distant future to repair the damage.

The specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed, nor was a timeline for a return given.

“Michael sustained a left knee injury that is going to require surgery,” Jayhawk head coach David Beaty said in a statement. “Following his surgery he will work diligently, alongside our medical staff, to get back to the field as quickly as possible.”

While quarterbacks were off-limits for contact, Cummings was inadvertently tackled by a teammate on the play that led to the injury to his left knee.

“It was a complete freak accident,” said Cummings in his statement. “I have reviewed the film from Saturday and Michael Glatczak (the player who made the tackle) was being blocked down the field and had his back to the action for almost the entire play. At the last second he turned to make the tackle without having any idea who was carrying the ball. He is a great kid, a great teammate and again it was just a very unfortunate accident.”

Or maybe not.

Cummings started the last seven games at quarterback for the Jayhawks and accounted for a total of 13 of KU’s 25 offensive touchdowns — nine passing, four rushing. Provided he’s healthy, Cummings will enter summer camp as the front-runner for the starting job.

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After leaving A&M, LaQuvionte Gonzalez lands at Kansas

Chick-fil-A Bowl - Duke v Texas A&M Getty Images

Last Monday, LaQuvionte Gonzalez took to Twitter to announce he was transferring from Texas A&M. A week later, Gonzalez took to the same social media platform to announce where he will continue his collegiate playing career.

In a tweet, Gonzalez revealed that he has decided to transfer to “the University of Kansas.” After sitting out the 2015 season t satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws, the wide receiver will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

A big reason for Gonzalez’s decision to move on to the Jayhawks is David Beaty. In his first year as KU’s head coach, Beaty spent three years (2012-14) as A&M’s wide receivers coach and, in addition to serving as his position coach, helped recruit Gonzalez to the Aggies.

A four-star member of A&M’s 2013 recruiting class, Gonzalez was rated as the No. 30 player at any position in the state of Texas and the No. 234 player overall byRivals.com.

As a true freshman in 2013, Gonzalez was fifth on the team with 21 receptions and 240 receiving yards.  His production took a precipitous drop in 2014, however, as he finished with just five receptions for 77 yards.

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Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State big early favorites for Week 1

Nick Saban AP

Only a little over four months until college football. That’s practically nothing! It’s only one-third of the year!

Fortunately, we have some stuff to talk about this Monday morning involving that first week of the season. The 5dimes sportsbook released some fresh Week 1 odds, with the following highlights:

Ohio State – 20.5 @ Virginia Tech
TCU – 19.5 @ Minnesota
UCLA – 16 @ Virginia
Alabama – 12.5 vs. Wisconsin (Arlington, Texas)
Auburn – 12.5 vs. Louisville (Atlanta, Ga.)
Notre Dame -12.5 vs. Texas
South Carolina – 7.5 vs. North Carolina
Texas A&M – 5.5 vs. Arizona State
Utah – 3.5 vs. Michigan

There’s plenty of time for transfers, injuries and suspensions to affect these lines. Ohio State and Virginia Tech may have opposite trajectories right now, but the Buckeyes being nearly a three-touchdown favorite on the road against a Power Five opponent stands out.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jim Harbaugh certainly won’t have an easy debut heading to Salt Lake City. And while Texas is still grinding through a rebuild, Notre Dame only has beat two Power Five teams at home by more than 12 points in the last three years (Michigan 2014, Wake Forest 2012).

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Urban Meyer collects another Buckeye national title trophy

MacArthur Bowl

After being feted at the White House and showing off multiple title rings and myriad other events, one more celebratory festivity was held as Ohio State officially closes the book on the 2014 season and shifts its full focus to 2015.

At the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta Sunday, head coach Urban Meyer was officially presented with the MacArthur Bowl, handed out annually by the National Football Foundation to the FBS champion.  The Buckeyes, thanks to their 42-20 win over Oregon in the first-ever College Football Playoff title game this past January, are the 57th team to be presented the trophy since it was first handed out in 1959.

It also marked the fourth MacArthur Bowl for the OSU football program, joining the 2002, 1970 and 1968 teams.  Meyer also won two (2006, 2008) during his time at Florida.

“On behalf of the Ohio State University I want to thank Chick-fil-A… obviously the National Football Foundation and Steve [Hatchell] and then this beautiful Hall of Fame for having us here,” Meyer said in quotes sent out by the NFF. “It should be a tradition for the head coach to come celebrate at this incredible facility with fans. I want to thank our players, we had an incredible group and they should be here. They are part of history. We really try to develop a program where the players love each other and it’s a family atmosphere.

“The 2014 Buckeyes, that was a real team. How did they overcome adversity? Because they cared for each other. I’m honored to be here and on behalf of Ohio State, my football players and coaching staff to accept this incredible award. It has incredible history and we’ll forever be grateful to be on the side of this beautiful trophy.”

And, yes, this particular trophy is named in honor of the famed Army general.

Ohio State closed out the last of its spring practice sessions last weekend, setting an all-time spring game attendance record in the process.  OSU will open up its defense of the 2014 title with a road trip to Blacksburg against Virginia Tech, the only team to beat the Buckeyes in 2014.

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James Franklin to throw out first pitch at Yankees game

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Boston College v Penn State Getty Images

The head football coach at Penn State will offering his ceremonial services to a stick-and-ball sport in the near future, the school announced this past week.

In a press release, Penn State revealed that James Franklin will throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium Tuesday prior to the start of the New York Yankees-Tamp Bay Rays game. The contest will essentially serve as a Penn State night at the Bronx stadium, with Nittany Lions fans able to purchase tickets for up to 50-percent off.

This will actually serve as Franklin’s second on-field trip to that particular ballpark in less than four months.

In late December, Penn State squared off with Boston College in the fifth annual Pinstripes Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The Nittany Lions were able to claim an overtime win after the Eagles’ kicker misfired on an extra point attempt in the first overtime session.

“It’s such an awesome opportunity to throw out the first pitch and take in a Yankees game at such an iconic stadium,” Franklin said in a statement. “The Yankees’ staff was great to work with and hosted a first-class event in the Pinstripe Bowl. The experience our student-athletes, coaches and staff had at Yankee Stadium in December was second to none. I am looking forward to taking the mound, maybe I will try to get some pitching advice from Masahiro Tanaka or Michael Pineda.”

Franklin and his Nittany Lions concluded spring practice last weekend with the third-highest attendance total for a spring game this year, and will open the coach’s second season in Happy Valley Sept. 5 at Temple. The home opener comes a week later against Buffalo of the MAC.

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