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Weekend Preview: Championship races coming down to the wire

Florida State v Clemson Getty Images

It’s time to get prepared for another critical weekend around college football. Division and conference races are coming down the home stretch and postseason eligibility is still on the line for a number of teams. Here’s a rundown of what to pay attention to this weekend.

Alabama, Florida State on collision course

If you go by what the national narrative is, we are all set for No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) vs. No. 2 Florida State (9-0, 7-0 ACC) in the final BCS Championship game. That would be a rather fitting match-up of course, with Florida Sate having played in the first three BCS title games under the new format and Alabama having won three of the last four. It really would be a fitting way to close the book on the BCS, but we still have some games to get through before really digging in to that theme. This week should end with both picking up another win.

Alabama will have the more difficult task this weekend though, going on the road to take on a Mississippi State team that is in real need of a win. While Alabama continues to pound SEC competition, Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4 SEC) has given up 85 points in their last two games while sinking below .500. Mississippi State is coming off losses to ranked South Carolina and Texas A&M, so a home game against Alabama will wrap up a rough three-game stretch. A loss means Mississippi State needs to win their final two games of the year to become bowl eligible. The pressure for Dan Mullen really is mounting. And Nick Saban thinks he has pressure with his job.

In Tallahassee the Seminoles will wrap up their ACC schedule with a home game against Syracuse (5-4, 3-2 ACC). Florida State is already heading to the ACC Championship Game regardless of the outcome, but another big win should be enough to keep Florida State comfortably in the top two of the BCS standings. After a week that saw Heisman front-runner Jameis Winston thrown in to a potentially negative spotlight this week, how he handles the situation should be interesting. Winston has answered every challenge thrown his way this season. There should be no reason he does not answer this one either.

Auburn hosting Georgia

The biggest threat to Alabama in the SEC is likely Auburn (9-1, 5-1 SEC). Before we start making plans for one of the biggest Iron Bowls in history though, Auburn must get by Georgia (6-3, 4-2 SEC) this weekend. The Bulldogs may have been roughed up and beat up this season, but Georgia has won two straight games and is capable of playing spoiler. Heck, a win for Georgia even gives the defending SEC East champs an outside shot at returning to Atlanta although the odds are still not very good. Auburn has been thriving on the running game and has not had to rely much on the passing game. If the Tigers can continue to break big plays on the ground, Auburn will continue to have Alabama’s attention.

All eyes on Durham, North Carolina, of course

Maybe Duke (7-2, 3-2 ACC) going to a bowl game last year wasn’t exactly a fluke. The Blue Devils are now in position to make a run to take on Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. In football. Seriously.

A bit of a tangled mess in the ACC Coastal Division could start to sort itself out a little more this weekend after Georgia Tech concluded their ACC schedule with a loss Thursday night at Clemson. Duke can keep pace with Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC) if they can pick up a home win against a Miami (7-2, 3-2 ACC) team that is all of a sudden sinking. A win for Duke will also clinch the most wins in a single season (eight) since winning eight games in 1994. Virginia Tech will be playing Maryland, which should result in a win unless the offense implodes.

B1G Game in the Big Ten

Ohio State is all but locked in to the Big Ten championship game, but the Legends Division is still a little more open. That could change this weekend with No. 16 Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) travels to Nebraska (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten). The winner will control the fate of the division with time running out in the Big Ten, but the loser will not necessarily be eliminated. The Spartans have been playing the best defense this season int he conference and should be able to control Nebraska’s offense, which will be tested by Ameer Abdullah. If the Spartans shut down Abdullah, it could be a long day for the home team.

Stanford looks to keep Pac 12 edge against revived Trojans

No. 4 Stanford (8-1, 6-1)is coming off the biggest win of the year but must continue the momentum this weekend on the road against one of the hottest teams in the country, if not just the Pac 12. USC (7-3, 4-2) is actually in position for a potential shot at playing for a Pac 12 title, although they need a little help while taking care of their own schedule in front of them. Stanford has won three straight on the strength of their defense that was able to shut down Oregon for three and a half quarters last week. This week they take on a USC team that has won three straight games and is playing quite well on both sides of the football, especially in the running game. USC won’t have Silas Redd but Javorious Allen has burst on the scene the last couple of games. USC may be trying to chop down a red wood with inadequate gear, but they aren’t trying to do so with a butter knife either. A win keeps USC in the Pac 12 South conversation and reopens the path to the Pac 12 championship game (and Rose Bowl?) for Oregon.

You would not want to be Utah today

If there is one team you might feel sorry for this weekend it might just be Utah (4-5, 1-5 Pac 12). The Utes only have one win in Pac 12 play this season, and ironically enough it came against Stanford. This weekend Utah heads to No. 6 Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac 12). The Ducks, of course, are returning home after getting trounced by Stanford last week. You have to think Oregon is going to get back on track with their offense rather quickly. Utah is 1-3 on the road this season and has lost three straight Pac 12 games. Utah has been a pesky team this season though. In addition to defeating Stanford, Utah has also topped BYU, taken Oregon State to overtime, lost to UCLA by a touchdown and lost to Arizona State by one. Utah needs two wins to become eligible for a postseason berth, but winning in a place they haven’t won since 1994 is not going to be easy.

Other Conference Races to Watch

American: No. 17 Central Florida (7-1, 4-0 AAC) is in Philadelphia Saturday to take on Temple (1-8, 0-5 AAC). They should leave town with a win against the Owls, putting the Knights one step closer to clinching the conference’s automatic BCS berth. Central Florida has a one-game lead on No. 20 Louisville, Cincinnati and Houston in the loss column and head-to-head tie-breakers against Louisville and Houston, who play each other this weekend. Cincinnati is at Rutgers.

Central Florida does not need to worry about No. 14 Fresno State or No. 15 Northern Illinois, but each of those BCS busting hopefuls will be keeping a close eye on the Knights for BCS standings purposes.

Big 12: No. 24 Texas (7-2, 6-0 Big 12) and No. 5 Baylor (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) could collide in a de facto Big 12 championship in the final week of the season, but let;s see if they get through this weekend first. Texas takes on No. 12 Oklahoma State (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) and Baylor faces Texas Tech (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) in Cowboys Stadium.

Conference USA: North Texas is closing in on a Conference USA division championship in the west. North Texas is battling Rice for the top spot in the division, with each owning one conference loss and North Texas owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. UTSA can become eligible for their first bowl game in program history with just one more win.

SEC: No. 9 Missouri (9-1, 5-1 SEC) needs to avoid any head-to-head tie-breakers with No. 10 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) in the SEC East, so a win this weekend at Ole Miss would be huge before hosting Texas A&M in the regular season finale. Missouri enters the weekend one game ahead of the Gamecocks in the loss column. South Carolina owns the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to an overtime victory a few weeks back at Missouri.

Bowl Eligibility Update

The following teams in action this weekend are one win shy of bowl eligibility:

Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Kansas State, UTSA, Navy, San Diego State, San Jose State, Colorado State, Vanderbilt, Arkansas State, Troy

Conversely, the following teams can be eliminated from postseason considerations with a loss this weekend:

South Florida, Memphis, NC State, West Virginia, TCU, Illinois, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan, New Mexico

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Barring ‘something unusual,’ Deshaun Watson is starter when healthy

FBC-T25 Clemson Watson AP

And, in other breaking news, water is wet and the sky is blue.

Deshaun Watson underwent surgery earlier this month to repair the hand injury he suffered in Clemson’s Oct. 11 win over Louisville and is expected to be sidelined for up to five weeks.  Most (rightly) assumed that Cole Stoudt would merely be keeping the quarterbacking seat warm before turning the job back over to Watson once healthy.

Tuesday, Watson’s head coach confirmed as much.

“Yeah. Yeah. Deshaun’s the starter. Whenever he’s healthy, he’ll be back out there,” Dabo Swinney said. “Guys don’t lose their jobs because they get hurt. Something unusual would have to happen for that to be the case.

“But we’ll worry about all that when the time comes.”

Swinney’s declaration is a no-brainer as the Tigers’ offense is simply a more explosive and lethal with Watson on the field.

In the two full games the true freshman started — North Carolina Sept. 27, North Carolina State Oct. 4 — the Tigers averaged 45.5 points per game; the last two games against Louisville and Boston College, which includes the one Watson left very early due to injury, the Tigers are averaging 20 points per game.

Watson is currently second in the country in passing efficiency, behind only Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.  Stoudt, meanwhile, is 99th in the same category as he has thrown just one touchdown and two interceptions in his 147 attempts.

Based on the current timeline, Watson will definitely be back no later than the Nov. 15 game against Georgia Tech, the 10th game of the season.  There’s also the chance he could return for the Nov. 6 game against Wake Forest, which comes after the Tigers second and last bye of the season.

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Rutgers WR Ruhann Peele arrested on assault charge back in August

Ruhann Peele, Andrew Adams AP

Nearly two months after it happened, the arrest of a Rutgers football player has surfaced publicly.

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Ruhann Peele was arrested following an incident Aug. 30.  The wide receiver was subsequently charged with simple assault.  No details of what preceded the arrest and charge have been revealed.

“We are aware of the situation involving Ruhann,” a statement from RU head coach Kyle Flood read. “Due to the fact he has a pending court date, we will not comment until the legal process is complete.”

Peele has not played at all this season due to what’s only been described as an upper-body injury sustained in early August. The Star-Ledger writes that “[h]is absence from football activities, including practice, is 100 percent medically-related at this point, a source familiar with the situation said.”

Whether he heals up in time to play this season and would then face sanctions from the football program for the off-field incident is unknown.

Peele finished fifth on the team last season with 28 catches for 478 yards. He was third on the team when, due to injuries, he was moved from receiver to cornerback in late October for a handful of games.

Entering summer camp, it was expected Peele would be a significant contributor in the passing game in 2014.

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Following arrest, Cincinnati suspends backup QB

players names AP

An off-field incident will likely cost one of Cincinnati’s quarterbacks some game time.

Early Sunday morning, Bearcats backup Jarred Evans was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge shortly after returning from a road win over SMU.  Evans allegedly knocked a man to the ground with a punch, with the alleged victim suffering a concussion and needing stitches.

Evans spent Sunday night in jail before bail was posted Monday.

While Tommy Tuberville said there’s a “[g]ood chance he’s not guilty,” the UC head coach has still indefinitely suspended the player.

“It’s just hard to get through their heads that you are different than everybody else,” Tuberville said according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “You can’t even think about making a mistake or even being close to a mistake. Even if it’s not your fault, you’re still implicated. So, that’s how we handle it and I hope our players on the team see that and understand that and we’ll go from there. …

“I talk to these guys every day about you being a lot more responsible than any other person on campus. They understand that right or wrong, football players, basketball players, athletes across the country are guilty until proven innocent, even in my eyes, because you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Until this season, the JUCO transfer Evans had totaled no stats at the FBS level. In the win over the Mustangs, the 22-year-old Evans rushed for a team-high 67 yards and a touchdown, while also completing both of his pass attempts for 10 yards.

It’s unclear if Evans will be available for Friday’s game against USF.

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Texas could pay student-athletes $10K annually

money AP

Everyone knew there was a new day dawning for collegiate athletics, thanks to autonomy for Power Five conferences and the O’Bannon lawsuit and the like. Part of the change called for increased benefits for all student-athletes in elite conferences specifically, including football players.

Tuesday, one university put a price tag on that change.

At a Big 12 sports forum yesterday, Texas athletic director Steve Patterson revealed that his university will soon begin paying its student-athletes in every sport, male and female. UT expects to spend $6 million annually on the endeavor, which works out to roughly $10,000 per athlete per year.

The Dallas Morning News writes that “[t]he money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by a traditional full scholarship and give each player $5,000 in compensation for the university’s use of his image.” The latter is in connection to the O’Bannon suit.

While an athletic department like Texas, the most profitable in the country, can merely reach into its couches to cover the added expense, there are others at the forum who intimated that cuts in sports could be one casualty of the payments.

“If we begin to [further] remunerate the participants, that’s going to break that model,” UT women’s sports athletic director Chris Plonsky warned.

“We’re in for a period of dynamic change,” said former Maryland basketball All-American and U.S. Representative Tom McMillen. “The system has to change. The money needs to be handled differently.”

Texas, incidentally, becomes the first school to announce specific payments to student-athletes.  It had previously been thought that, with the autonomy legislation, athletes would receive an additional $2,000 to $5,000 to cover the true cost of attendance.

Just when UT will begin paying the five-figure sum is unclear.

(Tip O’ the Cap: our very own Zach Barnett, over at his other job at FootballScoop.com)

UPDATED 4:28 p.m. ET: And now we have a little more clarity to the lack of a timeline.

To further clarify, the $5,000 “image use” to which the Morning News alluded would be placed in a trust fund.  Also, UT and other schools would wait until autonomy is officially approved in January.

Additionally, the $5,000/$5,000 split, should the O’Bannon suit be successful for the plaintiffs, is expected to be a similar range for other Power Five schools.

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Georgia fan Evander Holyfield happy his son received UGA offer

Evander Holyfield Photo Session

Evander Holyfield is a boxing legend. He also played some football in his younger days before embarking on his path to boxing fame. Now he is the father to one of the top football recruits in his home state of Georgia. Running back Elijah Holyfield is a four-star prospect in the Class of 2016 according to Rivals. The younger Holyfield has been drawing interest from plenty of schools out there including Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, South Carolina and many more form the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. It is one of the most recent offers to come his son’s way that has the former heavyweight champ smiling the most. Georgia is among the recent schools to extend an offer to Elijah Holyfield.

“I was happy about that offer because I’m a Georgia fan,” Evander said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And then I found out that he liked Georgia, so that offer was a good thing.”

Elijah Holyfield is reportedly considering Michigan as a top choice, but as of now the recruiting for the Class of 2016 is in the very early stages. Holyfield still has his senior year in front of him after this season, so plenty can change between now and National Signing Day in 2016.

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Will Muschamp turns to QB Treon Harris to save season (and job?)

Missouri v Florida Getty Images

After a horrendous loss at home at the hands of Missouri, Florida head coach Will Muschamp is finally handing the offense over to freshman quarterback Treon Harris. The question is whether or not the damage has already been done in Gainesville.

Harris will replace Jeff Driskel as the starting quarterback for the Gators. Florida is off this week, but the Gators take on a red-hot Georgia team next week in Jacksonville (and the Bulldogs are hoping to have running back Todd Gurley back on the field). Harris would have started in place of Driskel two weeks ago against LSU, but a university investigation connecting Harris to an alleged sexual assault held him out of practice. Harris was later cleared to play after the accuser dropped her complaint, but Harris had already missed a week of practice and Florida was forced to go with Driskel once more at quarterback.

Harris first saw the field this season in a win against Tennessee. Trailing when he entered the game, Harris provided juts enough of a spark to help lead Florida to a road win at Tennessee. Harris did not play against LSU, but he did enter last weekend’s game against Missouri. He completed eight of 12 pass attempts for 98 yards and a touchdown and he added another 26 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.

Muschamp is without question sitting on a hot seat at Florida, and AD Jeremy Foley has said the evaluation of Muschamp will be done at the end of the season before making any decisions on the future of the program. Muschamp really needs Harris to lead Florida to some wins in the SEC, otherwise he may be updating his résumé for prospective employers this offseason.

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Michigan State gets All-Big Ten center back for Wolverines

Michigan State v Oregon

Michigan State’s offensive line is about to get stronger this week as the Spartans prepare for Michigan. Jack Allen, an All-Big Ten player, will be back in the middle of the offensive line this weekend.

Allen was injured two weeks ago in a victory against Purdue. Allen is believed to have injured his ankle, which caused him to miss last week’s game against Indiana. Head coach Mark Dantonio rarely sheds any light on injuries, so the exact details of Allen’s injury are unconfirmed. As reported by MLive.com, Allen appeared to have his left ankle stepped on by Michigan State running back Nick Hill during a running play. The injury occurred in the fourth quarter and he did not return.

Connor Kruse filled in for Allen in the middle of the offensive line last week against the Hoosiers. This week Kruse will remain on the offensive line’s starting unit, but he will slide to right guard. This season the defending Big Ten champion Spartans rank fourth in the Big Ten in rushing offense with an average of 261.43 yards per game on the ground. The Michigan State offensive line has allowed just four sacks this season, tied for best in the Big Ten with Wisconsin.

Michigan State hosts Michigan on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. eastern.

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New report says UNC academic fraud more widespread than initially thought

Kenneth Wainstein, US Attorney for the D

The academic fraud that took place at the University of North Carolina may have been more wide-spread than initially thought. According to information released in a brand new report released by Kenneth Wainstein, a former U.S. Justice Department official, more than 3,100 students enrolled in classes they did not have to show up for to receive credit. This took place over a span of approximately two decades, and according to the report, nearly half of those enrolled in the classes were student-athletes.

According to the findings of the investigation, about 47 percent of the enrollment in 188 classes were student-athletes. Of that percentage, 51 percent were football players. It does look as though any of these problems happened under the tenure of current football head coach Larry Fedora, but the investigation does cover the tenures of Butch Davis and Mack Brown. Many of the student-athletes enrolled in the fraudulent classes were “steered” toward enrolling by academic counselors. One thing that the investigation did say is there is no evidence the university tried to obscure the facts of the scandal. Some students were enrolled in the classes without their knowledge, and the report says at least one counselor would present a list of grades needed to keep a player eligible to an office administrator.

In 2012 the NCAA hit UNC’s football program with a one-year postseason ban and reduced the number of available scholarships that could be used. Those sanctions came following an investigation into alleged academic issues related to tutors helping players against NCAA rules. The NCAA has reopened an investigation into the program in light of newly discovered evidence. Much of that information is likely to be pulled from this report’s findings. Wainstein has met with the NCAA at least three times to review the findings of his investigation. How the NCAA will address this new information remains to be seen. The NCAA may also have to explain how it failed to uncover at least some of the information discovered in this investigation.

The NCAA has issued a statement on the findings of this new investigation.

One question that pops up now is whether or not this was an academic or an athletics problem. The university had gone on record suggesting this was not an athletics issue in the past, but now it may want you to believe it is just that.

Of course, it may be both.

The university has set-up a website with all of the details and documents related to the Wainstein investigation’s findings.

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WVU player cited for excessive celebration in weekend riots

West Virginia v Alabama Getty Images

Following West Virginia’s big victory over Baylor on Saturday, students and fans took to the streets in destructive fashion. This resulted in 32 street fires and seven more dumpster fires being ignited that would require a response from the local fire department. A total of 114 emergency calls, 135 non-emergency calls and 126 other incidents were called to 911. The city of Morgantown continues to review the extent of the damage done over the weekend.

Among those cited for celebrating the victory in such fashion happened to be one member of the West Virginia football team. Redshirt freshman tight end and fullback Elijah Wellman, was charged with disorderly conduct. Seeing as how the game itself saw penalty flag after penalty flag, perhaps it should not be a surprise a player was later called for a foul in the aftermath.

West Virginia president Gordon Gee spoke out against the actions of those involved with the celebratory rioting.

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Bill Snyder, three Heisman winners on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

Texas Tech v Kansas State

The ballots for the College Football Hall of Fame have been released. A total of 75 FBS players and six FBS coaches appear on the ballot, as well as 87 players and 25 coaches from all other divisions of football. Some of the notable names on the ballot includes three Heisman Trophy winners (Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam, Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch and Texas running back Ricky Williams). Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder also appears on this year’s ballot. Ballots will be submitted by members of the National Football Foundation and current College Football Hall of Famers. Voting will be done electronically this year and the announcement of this yera’s class will be made Friday, January 9 at the media hotel leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The class will be inducted on December 8, 2015.

“Having a ballot and a voice in the selection of the inductees is one of the most cherished NFF member benefits,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Ole Miss. “There is no group more knowledgeable or passionate about college football than our membership, and the tradition of the ballot helps us engage them in the lofty responsibility of selecting those who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in our sport.”

To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate’s post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.

Here are the names of players and coaches appearing on the FBS portion of the ballot. You cans ee the full release and name son the ballot via the National Football Foundation.

2015 FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISON PLAYER CANDIDATES

Trev Alberts, Nebraska-Linebacker

Eric Bieniemy, Colorado-Running Back

Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma-Linebacker

Bob Breunig, Arizona State-Linebacker

Jerome Brown, Miami (Fla.)-Defensive Tackle

Ruben Brown, Pittsburgh-Offensive Tackle

Steve Brown, Oregon State-Linebacker

Brandon Burlsworth, Arkansas-Offensive Guard

Larry Burton, Purdue-Split End

Keith Byars, Ohio State-Running Back

Freddie Carr, Texas-El Paso-Linebacker

Mark Carrier, Southern California-Safety

Wes Chandler, Florida-Split End

Tim Couch, Kentucky-Quarterback

Tom Cousineau, Ohio State-Linebacker

Bob Crable, Notre Dame-Linebacker

Paul Crane, Alabama-Center/Linebacker

Eric Crouch, Nebraska-Quarterback

Randall Cunningham, Nevada-Las Vegas

Troy Davis, Iowa State-Tailback

Eric Dickerson, Southern Methodist

John Didion, Oregon State

Mike Dirks, Wyoming-Defensive Tackle

D.J. Dozier, Penn State-Running Back

Tim Dwight, Iowa-Kick Returner/Wide Receiver

Jumbo Elliott, Michigan-Offensive Tackle

Tony Franklin, Texas A&M-Plackekicker

William Fuller, North Carolina-Defensive Tackle

Moe Gardner, Illinois-Defensive Tackle

Thom Gatewood, Notre Dame-Split End

Willie Gault, Tennessee-Wide Receiver

Kirk Gibson, Michigan State-Wide Receiver

Charlie Gogolak, Princeton-Placekicker

Jacob Green, Texas A&M-Defensive Lineman

Byron Hanspard, Texas Tech-Running Back

Al Harris, Arizona State

Dana Howard, Illinois-Linebacker

Randy Hughes, Oklahoma-Defensive Back

Bobby Humphrey, Alabama-Running Back

Raghib Ismail, Notre Dame-Wide Receiver

Dick Jauron, Yale-Running Back

Ernie Jennings, Air Force-Wide Receiver

Keyshawn Johnson, Southern California

Clinton Jones, Michigan State-Halfback

Lincoln Kennedy, Washington-Offensive Tackle

Tim Krumrie, Wisconsin-Defensive Tackle

Greg Lewis, Washington-Running Back-

Jess Lewis, Oregon State-Defensive Tackle

Ray Lewis, Miami (Fla.)-Linebacker

Robert Lytle, Michigan-Running Back

Buddy McClinton, Auburn-Defensive Back

Duncan McColl, Stanford-Defensive End

Bob McKay, Texas-Offensive Tackle

Cade McNown, UCLA-Quarterback

Mark Messner, Michigan-Defensive Tackle

Ken Norton, Jr., UCLA-Linebacker-

Herb Orvis, Colorado-Defensive EndJim Otis, Ohio State-Fullback-Named consensus First Team All-American in 1969…Member of the 1968 National Championship team…Named First Team All-Big Ten conference in 1969 and led the Buckeyes to two conference titles…Led the team in rushing three times.

Jim Otis, Ohio State-Fullback

Paul Palmer, Temple-Running Back

Antwaan Randle El, Indiana-Quarterback

Simeon Rice, Illinois-Linebacker

Ron Rivera, California-Linebacker

Mike Ruth, Boston College-Nose Guard

Rashaan Salaam, Colorado-Tailback

Warren Sapp, Miami (Fla.)-Defensive Tackle

Larry Seivers, Tennessee-Wide Receiver

Art Still, Kentucky-Defensive End

Zach Thomas, Texas Tech-Linebacker

Dennis Thurman, Southern California-Defensive Back

Andre Tippett, Iowa-Defensive End

Jackie Walker, Tennessee-Linebacker

Lorenzo White, Michigan State-Running Back

Ricky Williams, Texas-Running Back-Two

Steve Wisniewski, Penn State-Offensive Guard

Scott Woerner, Georgia-Defensive Back

2015 FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION COACH CANDIDATES

Jim Carlen-West Virginia (1966-69), Texas Tech (1970-74), South Carolina (1975-1981)

Pete Cawthon Sr.-Austin College (Texas) (1923-27), Texas Tech (1930-40)

Danny Ford-Clemson (1978-1989), Arkansas (1993-97)

Billy Jack Murphy-Memphis (1958-71)

Darryl Rogers-Cal State-Hayward (1965), Fresno State (1966-72), San Jose State (1973-75), Michigan State (1976-79), Arizona State (1980-84)

Bill Snyder-Kansas State (1985-05, 2009-present)

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NCAA removes Pa. governor from lawsuit over PSU fine

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett Speaks On The Penn State Football Scandal Getty Images

The NCAA continues to move forward with a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over the distribution of fine money to be paid by Penn State. In doing so, the NCAA has removed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale from the lawsuit.

According to an Associated Press report, the NCAA believes Corbett and DePasquale are no longer significant in the lawsuit. This is different from a previous report in September that suggested the NCAA was willing to comply with the Pennsylvania state law. The NCAA, Corbett and DePasquale reportedly came to an agreement allowing the two defendants to be dropped from the lawsuit. Corbett is in the midst of a campaign to keep his seat as governor, and polls show he is trailing by a wide margin.

The lawsuit filed by the NCAA challenges a Pennsylvania law that requires fine money to be paid by Penn State be kept within the borders of Pennsylvania. The NCAA believes that money should be spread beyond Pennsylvania to raise child abuse awareness.

The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million as part of the sanction terms dropped on the university in the summer of 2012. Although the NCAA has since scaled back segments of the sanction terms (postseason ban lifted and recruiting restrictions eliminated), the remainder of the $60 million fine is still required to be paid. To date, Penn State has paid two installments toward the total sum of the fine. Penn State was given five years to pay off the fine and has paid two $12 million installments.

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Georgia will apply for reinstatement of Todd Gurley today

Todd Gurley

Georgia running back Todd Gurley was suspended earlier this month while an investigation commenced regarding the alleged autograph signings for compensation. The university has stood by their student-athlete and is now prepared to apply for his reinstatement. Georgia will formally apply for a reinstatement later today, the school said in a statement released on the university’s athletics website.

“I want to thank the University, coaches, teammates, and the Bulldog Nation for their patience and support,” Gurley said.  “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made, and I can’t thank the University, my coaches, and teammates enough for supporting me throughout this process.  I’m looking forward to getting back on the field with my teammates.”

It is Georgia’s hope a decision on the reinstatement application will be made quickly. Georgia is off this week but travels to Jacksonville next week to face Florida. Georgia has won two games without Gurley on the field, both in impressive fashion. Despite how good Georgia has looked the past tow weeks, it is clear Gurley remains one of the best players in college football. Having Gurley on the field only makes Georgia more of a threat to win the SEC and possibly wiggle into the College Football Playoff.

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TCU to mix up signals vs. Texas Tech

Texas Tech v Oklahoma Getty Images

TCU is looking to keep its hopes at winning the Big 12 alive this weekend when the No. 10 Horned Frogs host in-state rival Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have struggled to a 3-4 record (1-3 in Big 12 play), but TCU will be cautious with its offensive calling this weekend. TCU will be changing up its usual hand signals this week, knowing that Texas Tech may have a little insight to how the TCU coaches and players relay plays.

TCU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie is a former Texas Tech quarterback. He joined the TCU staff last December after four seasons as an assistant coach at Texas Tech, so Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his staff and team should be aware of how Cumbie operates. TCU head coach Gary Patterson told reporters Tuesday his staff will do what they can to change things up from the sideline to keep texas Tech guessing.

“Everybody has everybody’s signals,” Patterson said. “We’ll change what we have to change. There will have to be some tweaks.”

As with most Big 12 games, Patterson expects points to be scored this week, but he says the game plan is always to stay grounded on defense. In this conference, that does not always hold true for very long. A couple of weeks ago TCU got caught failing to protect a 21-point lead on the road at Baylor. Patterson said playing with a lead does lead to a change in a play calling mindset.

“It makes a difference in how you call a ballgame. Whether people believe it or not, I’m just about winning,” Patterson explained. “How do I need to call a game where we’re winning? We’re going to try to put a game plan together that is zero points. That hardly ever happens. Our game plan is zero and hopefully we get them to 17 or 21. So, how can you be aggressive but still do the things you need to defensively against a fast-paced offense. That’ll be our challenge again this week.”

Texas Tech enters this week averaging 30.9 points per game, which is seventh best in the Big 12. TCU has averaged 45.2 points per game, only trailing Baylor in that category (49.0 ppg). TCU leads the Big 12 in scoring defense with 20.7 ppg allowed, while Texas Tech is last in the 10-team Big 12 with an average of 36.9 ppg allowed. Patterson may be found playing with the lead once again this week.

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Travis Wilson starting again at Utah, but Whittingham still evaluating options

Travis Wilson

Utah is off to a solid start this season thanks in large part to the play of the defense and the production of the running game. Those two areas have helped to overcome some quarterback indecision for the Utes. After just one week, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has decided to hand the offense back to Travis Wilson under center. Kendal Thompson will return to the back-up position when No. 19 Utah hosts No. 20 USC this weekend.

“We think Travis’ performance is a little bit better so far this season than Kendal overall,” Whittingham said this week. “When you look at the numbers, it’s very close. It’s no different than when we came out of fall camp, with it being a tight race. Kendal has run the ball a little bit better than Travis has so far this season, Travis has thrown the ball a little bit better than Kendal. It’s very tight.”

Whittingham may be giving the starting job back to Wilson, but the head coach of the Utes also suggested Thompson will still see some playing time. This is far from a concrete answer for the quarterback solution at Utah.

“There is a very strong possibility that you’ll see Kendal in the game this week as well,” Whittingham said. “It’s still not what I term a two-quarterback system. People say ‘you’re playing two quarterbacks so it’s a two quarterback system’ – no it’s not, as far as my definition where both guys know they are going to play X amount of time or X amount of plays, whatever the case may be. We’re waiting for some separation to occur. Ideally we’d like some separation to occur, and one guy to take charge and settle in and be the guy, but that hasn’t happened yet, so they’re both going to get opportunities until that does happen.”

Utah’s passing offense ranks 11th in the Pac-12, just ahead of Washington. The Utes quarterbacks have combined for 1,151 passing yards in six games, an average of 191.8 yards per game. Combined, Wilson and Thompson have nine touchdown passes and two interceptions that have come through inconsistent play. Fortunately for Utah, the running game has excelled so far this season and the defense has kept games within reach.

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Candidates for governor of Florida debate FSU, of course

Jameis Winston

There has been plenty of conversation about Florida State and its handling of the Jameis Winston investigation and so much more. At this point, I am not going to delve into that conversation now, but it is interesting to note just how important the image of Florida State football is in the state of Florida.

On Tuesday night a debate for the governor’s seat in the state of Florida was held between Governor Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist, who is challenging Scott for his seat in office. Among the topics that popped up for debate…

Politics and football. What a combo.

Of course, with Florida State being such a huge part of the community, it is fair to question if there are larger concerns that can be addressed by the governor. This is true of any state institution, not just Florida State.

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