Ranking the Heisman candidates

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There’s one month to go before ballots are due from the country’s 925 Heisman voters. Here’s a look at the top five candidates and how they did over the weekend:

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — Winston had a rather ordinary game against Wake Forest, passing for 159 yards and two touchdowns (with one interception) on 17 of 28 passing. But the Seminoles crushed the Demon Deacons, 59-3, so he wasn’t really needed. On the year, he has 2,661 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His passer efficiency rating is a sterling 192.23, which is second nationally. While his remaining schedule doesn’t hold much appeal, with matchups against Syracuse, Idaho, Florida and whoever FSU plays in the ACC title game, he should win the Heisman if he finishes strong.

2. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — Petty accounted for five touchdowns — three passing, two rushing — in Baylor’s 41-12 victory over No. 12 Oklahoma. On the year, he has 2,657 yards and 21 touchdown passes with just one interception. He also has eight rushing touchdowns. With games remaining against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas, he has a chance to raise his profile considerably if he continues to perform well and Baylor remains undefeated. Working in his favor is his 210.64 passer rating, which would shatter the NCAA record if the season ended today.

3. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama — McCarron moved another step closer to becoming the first quarterback to win three-consecutive national titles as he threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns in Alabama’s 38-17 win over No. 13 LSU. On the year he now has 2,041 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Games against Auburn and whoever Bama plays in the SEC title game should boost his candidacy just as Heisman voters receive their ballots.

4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — Mariota was knocked off his front runner’s perch after No. 5 Stanford beat No. 2 Oregon, 26-20. The sophomore threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 20 of 34 passing, but he was ineffective for much of the game. On the year, he’s got 2,531 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and no interceptions, with 495 rushing yards and nine scores. If he goes on a tear in Oregon’s final three games against Utah, Arizona and Oregon State, he has a chance to sneak back into the top spot if none of the other candidates finish strong.

5. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — Johnny Football threw for 446 yards and five touchdown passes in A&M’s 51-41 win over Mississippi State. But he also threw three interceptions. On the season, he now has 3,313 passing yards with 31 touchdown passes and 11 picks, to go with 611 rushing yards and 8 scores. Remaining games at LSU and Missouri will give him a chance to make a final push at the trophy, but becoming the second-ever two-time winner is going to be a difficult proposition.

Report: Lane Kiffin would like to be Tennessee’s head coach again

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Lane Kiffin says he’s happy at Florida Atlantic, but everyone suspects that happiness has an expiration date. A coach with his talents and pedigree — and remember, Kiffin is just 42 — is destined to return to the big time at some point.

And according to a reporter at ESPN, Kiffin would like “some point” to be “right now.” Chris Low spent a week in Boca Raton shadowing Kiffin, and came away believing Kiffin would be open to a reunion with Tennessee.

“Lane is definitely on board if Tennessee gives him a call,” Low told the Orange and White Report radio show in Knoxville. “That’s not going to happen, but as he told me, ‘People break up all the time and get back together.’”

As we know, Kiffin spent one 7-6 season as Tennessee’s head coach in 2009 before darting off in the middle of the night to return to USC, and Kiffin was persona non grata in Knoxville for years afterwards.

But it seems feelings have softened toward him sense then. Kiffin has made a habit of trolling Vols fans on Twitter, but he trolls because he loves. “I don’t really think before I tweet,” Kiffin told AL.com last week. “I like to get a reaction. I like to make people laugh.”

While the idea of Kiffin returning to Knoxville may be a bridge too far for Vols AD John Currie, he does fit the mold of someone Tennessee should consider. A 42-year-old coach that lived and learned through two Power 5 head coaching jobs, is fresh off an ultra-successful run as an SEC coordinator and is now on the verge of winning Conference USA in his first season?

Perhaps Kiffin and Currie can negotiate over Twitter direct messages.

Update: Kiffin has denied the report.

Arkansas to host Ole Miss in Little Rock in 2018

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Ole Miss will put the finishing touches on its 2017 season with the annual Egg Bowl Thanksgiving night, but there’s a bit of 2018 scheduling news involving the Rebels to touch on first.

Wednesday, Arkansas announced that its 2018 game against Ole Miss will be played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock instead of their on-campus home in Fayetteville. Next season will mark the 70th anniversary of the opening of War Memorial Stadium.

“We look forward to our return to Central Arkansas to take on Ole Miss at War Memorial Stadium in October 2018,” interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples said in a statement. “I know Razorback fans will be excited and ready to cheer on our team in a key Southeastern Conference Western Division matchup.

“Arkansas and Ole Miss first met on the football field more than a century ago and we look forward to the next chapter in this rivalry, in a venue that has hosted so many important games in this series.”

In fact, the game next season will mark the 110th anniversary of the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.

The Razorbacks and Rebels last played in Little Rock in 2012. Their only other matchup at War Memorial Stadium as conference foes came in 1992.

UCLA, UNLV announce future home-and-home

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Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! And, as you get set for your Turkey Day feast, here’s a little future scheduling news on which to nibble.

Just a handful of days after dumping its head coach, UCLA, along with UNLV, announced that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series. The Bruins will play host to the Rebels on Sept. 7, 2024, at the Rose Bowl. The following season, on Sept. 6, 2025, the two teams will meet up once again in Las Vegas.

“This is another series that bolsters our future schedules and is beneficial for both sides geographically,” a statement from Desiree Reed-Francois began. “Our fans enjoy seeing traditional powers come to town, it enhances our football program’s efforts in the recruiting hotbed of Southern California and partnering with prestigious institutions in the Pac-12 only helps our development as a University.”

The schools have met twice previously, in 2015 and 2016, with the Bruins winning both by a combined score of 79-24.

This scheduling news comes three weeks after UNLV announced a future four-game series with Cal. The MWC program also has future games against Pac-12 members USC (2018 season opener) and Arizona State (home-and-home in 2020 and 2021) on the scheduling docket.

Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings dismissed after Instagram tirade against Vols coaching staff

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The 2017 season just can’t end quick enough for Tennessee.

Proving that there have been much better days on Rocky Top, the school has reportedly and unexpectedly dismissed wide receiver Jauan Jennings from the team on Wednesday evening — just hours after the junior went on a tirade against the current coaching staff and posted it to his social media accounts.

Jennings reportedly went off earlier in the day at the staff and called them several choice, NSFW names in videos posted to his private Instagram account.

The receiver was somewhat of a surprise return to practice recently as it was expected he was going to miss the rest of the season after being injured in season opener against Georgia Tech. Jennings enter the year as an All-SEC third team selection in the preseason but was limited to just three catches for 17 yards the first half of the Vols’ first game.

Jennings could transfer to another school as he has a redshirt year available and likely would be able to receive a medical redshirt as well. Declaring for the NFL Draft seems the more likely scenario however but one thing is for certain: a return to Tennessee doesn’t look like it’s in the cards after Wednesday’s actions on both sides.