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The Fifth Quarter: Week 12 Rewind

Auburn Georgia 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.

THUMBS UP

War Damn Miracle… and the Mother of All Iron Bowls
For a short period of time, it appeared that the Alabama-Auburn game for all of the SEC West Tostitos would be nothing but a distant memory thanks to the fourth-quarter heroics of Aaron Murray and his Georgia teammates.  And then, the Dawg Gone Miracle went and happened and the Mother of All Iron Bowls was back on.  While there’s still the little matter of Alabama getting past its scrimmage against FCS-level Chattanooga next weekend — after it struggled with Mississippi State this weekend — Nov. 30 is set for an epic in-state showdown: the  7-0 (in SEC play) Tide versus the 6-1 Tigers, with the winner staking its claim to the SEC West and earning a berth in the conference title game the following weekend.  In the 21 years since the SEC went to divisional play, the Iron Bowl has never served as a winner-take-all affair for the SEC West.  Hide the women, children and Udykes, y’all; this one’s gonna be huge.

SEC East clarity
Meanwhile, on the redheaded stepchild side of the SEC, the chase for a spot in the conference championship game is nearly as simple as it is in the West.  With South Carolina’s escape against Florida, the Gamecocks finish league play at 6-2.  Missouri, which was idle this weekend, is at 5-1.  If the Tigers win their last two games on the road against Ole Miss and at home against Texas A&M, Mizzou will face the winner of the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl the first Saturday in December in Atlanta.  If Mizzou stumbles once either week?  The Gamecocks, based on their Oct. 26 overtime win over the Tigers, will represent the East division in the league title game.  If Mizzou can get past an up-and-down Rebels squad, both the SEC East and West will be decided on the final week of the regular season.  That, I would think, would be kind of cool.

Ed OrgeronOregon for Orgeron
Nov. 7, the bottom dropped out of Oregon’s football world.  Not only did the Ducks lose its stranglehold on a potential spot in the BCS title game, they lost control of their own division with the loss to Stanford.  10 days later, their world’s looking a bit brighter.  Thanks to USC’s stunning upset of Stanford, Oregon now merely needs to take care of business against Arizona and Oregon State the next two weeks and it will claim the Pac-12 North’s spot in the conference title game.  Just who the opposition would be remains to be seen.  Arizona State, at 6-1 in the conference, needs to “simply” beat UCLA (5-2) next weekend on the road to win the South division, regardless of what happens in the regular season finale against Arizona and regardless of what USC (5-2) does in its last two games (ASU 62, USC 41 the day prior to Lane Kiffin‘s firing).  The Sun Devils, though, aren’t the only ones that control its own divisional fate; the Bruins can win the South if they wins their last two (ASU, USC).  Unbelievably, the Trojans also have a (slim) shot at a South crown.  If USC wins its last two, and if ASU loses its last two, the Trojans would be the South’s representative in the Pac-12 title game.  To boil it down: the South will have much more clarity after the ASU-UCLA game next Saturday.  Probably.

Nerd slipper still fits
I’m a sucker for a good Cinderella sports story, especially when it comes to football.  And this season, it doesn’t get any more Cinderella than Duke.  Not only have the Blue Devils become bowl-eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the program’s history, they are in control of the ACC Coastal division thanks to the 48-30 pounding of Miami.  To repeat, Duke, a program that hasn’t won an outright ACC championship since 1962 and last shared one in 1989, is in the driver’s seat to represent the Coastal in the conference championship game.  If Duke is able to go on the road the next two weeks and beat Wake Forest (4-6 overall, 2-5 in ACC) and North Carolina (5-5, 4-3), the Blue Devils will face Florida State for the league title and a BCS berth.  Yes, that’s a blowout waiting to happen, but the fact that Duke is even in the discussion let alone the divisional driver’s seat  makes it one of the best stories of the year.

For all the rushing yards
When you think of Wisconsin football, whether it be under Barry Alvarez or Bret Bielema or Gary Andersen, you think ground game.  As if to drive home that point, the Badgers decided to run the ball right down the throats of Indiana Saturday afternoon.  UW rushed for 323 yards… then came back out for the second half, finishing with a season-high 554 yards that was 10 yards shy of the school’s single-game record and the most by an FBS team this season.  Three different Badger backs ran for over 100 yards: James White, 20-205; Melvin Gordon, 13-146; Corey Clement, 11-108.  This was the third time this season that trio of backs had each gained 100-plus yards in a single game.  A fourth player, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, just missed the 100-yard mark with 86 — and two touchdowns — on just three carries.  The Badgers averaged a staggering 11.1 yards on their fifty carries and, well, you get the point.

Probe, schmobe
Jameis Winston may or may not be facing some rather serious charges in the next week or two, but, if he’s concerned about the investigation into an alleged sexual assault, he didn’t show it on the field Saturday afternoon.  In the first half of Florida State’s drubbing of Syracuse, the presumptive Heisman front-runner completed 19-of-21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.  That would be the extent of Winston’s work for the day as the redshirt freshman spent the rest of the game holding the proverbial clipboard as the reserves closed out yet another dominating win.  It was a virtuoso performance in a situation that, given the off-field circumstances, would’ve sent most people most people cowering anywhere but the very public spotlight of a football field.  I don’t know if Winston should or shouldn’t be charged, or is guilty or not guilty.  What I do know is that, for the sake of a young man with such a bright future, I hope he’s not.  Even more so, I hope that, if a crime was indeed committed, the alleged victim gets the justice she deserves — regardless of who the perpetrator may be.

I’m still here
It took approximately a nanosecond after Oregon lost to Stanford two Thursdays ago for Marcus Mariota to be all but eliminated, by the general public at least, from the Heisman race.  Saturday, the quarterback showed exactly why he’s still one of the best football players in the country despite a blemish on his team’s résumé.  Mariota passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a little over three quarters of work in the bounce-back win over Utah.  This season, Mariota has thrown 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 285 pass attempts.  He is the only FBS quarterback in the Top 100 in passing efficiency who has yet to throw a pick.  It’s a shame that one subpar game — in which he was playing hurt, no less — has overshadowed what’s been a magnificent season for a player who’s done more than enough to be in the thick of the stiff-armed discussion.

Andre 300Andre Williams
Unbeknownst to some (most?), Andre Williams of Boston College came into today’s game with North Carolina State leading the nation in rushing.  Suffice to say, he did absolutely nothing to hurt that standing.  All the senior did was rush for 339 yards — on “just” 42 carries — in the Eagles’ win over the Wolfpack.  The total is the most ever in ACC history — the FBS record is 409 by TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson — and breaks the school record Williams set a week ago.  His 634 yards the past two weeks is second in FBS history in back-to-back games, surpassed only by Texas’ Ricky Williams‘ 668 in 1998.

You down with OHP? Yes, yes you are Mr. Fan
Every home game, Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer Brian Orr is assigned to protect the blindside, and every other side for that matter, of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.  Orr is a rather large man who has, based on the size of his biceps, been to many a gun show.  During the Sooners’ win over Iowa State Saturday, an overexuberant fan decided to take to the field and begin celebrating another OU win over the Cyclones a little early.  Showing SEC speed to go along with his size, Orr left his post as Stoops’ protector and, well, did this:

L

Officer Orr, there’s a Vince McMahon on Line 1 for you…

It was also good form on the part of Orr as he avoided being flagged for targeting a defenseless fan.

Myles and Myles of two-way talent
In the week after linebacker Myles Jack ran for 120 yards in UCLA’s win last Saturday, head coach Jim Mora was asked about the true freshman’s role on offense moving forward. “He’s a linebacker,” the Bruins coach said.  We doubted the one-way sincerity at the time; Mora, though, was kind of enough to remove all doubt Friday night.  All Jack did for an encore in the win over Washington was rush for four touchdowns on just 13 carries while adding five tackles on the other side of the ball.  Likening the balance of Jack’s time on offense and defense to “a dance,” Mora called him “an outstanding linebacker”… but at the same time said “we are going to continue to use him” in the backfield.  For his part, Jack prefers to be the hitter instead of the hittee. “I’m still defense all the way,” the linebacker said after the Bruins’ win over the Huskies.  Whatever, just get the talented kid on the field as much as possible.

THUMBS DOWN

Sack Mack back in vogue
Judging by my emails and the reaction on Twitter, all of the goodwill Mack Brown had gained over the past few weeks is gone.  Evaporated.  Vanished.  The 25-point loss to Oklahoma State, at home and after the Longhorns had just reentered the rankings no less, snapped UT’s six-game winning streak and wrested control of the Big 12 out of their hands.  After fading to the background, and fair or not, the calls for UT and its new athletic director to make a change at head coach will return and will be as loud as ever.  And, yes, that means the tiresome Saban-to-UT speculation will be an ever-present reminder to Brown and everyone else that many, many people want that change.  Whether those who actually hold the power to make such a thing happen agree, however, remains to be seen.

Will MuschampBowl-less in Gainesville
No, it’s not official but it might as well be.  Thanks to the five-point loss to South Carolina, 4-6 Florida will now have to beat Georgia Southern next week and… No. 2 Florida State the following week to become bowl-eligible.  In other words, the Gators won’t be bowl-eligible in 2013.  When the final gun sounds on the loss to the Seminoles, the Gators will have been shut out of the postseason for the first time since 1990, the first season with Steve Spurrier as head coach.  While they were 9-2 that season, they were ineligible for a bowl due to NCAA sanctions.  The last time UF played its way to a bowl-less season?  The 6-5 1986 squad.  Athletic director Jeremy Foley issued an unequivocal, no-gray-area-here declaration of public support for Will Muschamp earlier in the week.  We’ll take the straight-shooting Foley at his word.  When it comes to the offensive assistants on Muschamp’s staff?  Don’t buy any green bananas.  And do month-to-month leases, if possible.

Singing the Big Offensive Blues
Yes, Michigan was able to end its two-game skid, but all is most decidedly not right in the Land of Big Blue.  In the three-overtime win over conference-winless Northwestern, the Wolverines managed just three field goals in regulation.  The offense barely cracked 300 yards the first four quarters despite not committing a turnover and being penalized just once the entire game — and doing it against a defense that was 80th in the country in total defense at 417.9 yards per game coming in.  On ESPN‘s College GameDay show, former Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard called out Al Borges, challenging the fourth-highest paid offensive coordinator to earn his salary.  It’s highly unlikely Brady Hoke would do something as drastic as make a change at coordinator in the offseason.  Whether he should, though, is another matter entirely.

Seat as hot as a burning couch
If it wasn’t before, the honeymoon in Morgantown is officially over.  West Virginia became Kansas’ first Big 12 victim in three years, suffering an embarrassing 12-point loss to a team that had won twice in 2013 coming in.  The loss dropped the Mountaineers to 4-7 on the season and officially knocked them out of bowl contention.  In two-plus seasons at WVU, Holgorsen is 21-16 overall and 6-11 in Big 12 play.  While this sobering stat is unrelated to the latest miserable loss, it bears repeating: in 37 games under Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia has lost nine of them by 21-plus points.  In 126 games under Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart, which spanned a 10-year period, the Mountaineers were beaten by 21 or more points a total of eight times.  In other words, the Mountaineers simply aren’t competitive on a consistent basis under Holgorsen.  With the move from the Big East to the more competitive Big 12, that’s a coaching death waiting to happen.  And, based on the people in my area, there are plenty of fans eager to line up and pull the plug.

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

– No. 1 Alabama 20, Mississippi State 7: As best as I can recall, this is the first time since I began doing this feature four years ago that the top-ranked team in the country has appeared in this category.  Four turnovers on the road, however, will do that to a team.  While it’s highly unlikely that enough voters would flip based solely on this performance, there’s a very good likelihood that Florida State will pick up quite a few first-place poll votes and chip into the Tide’s commanding rankings lead.

– No. 11 South Carolina 19, Florida 14: With all of the injuries the Gators have incurred this season, I have no clue how they did it.  Baling wire and duct tape were involved, I assume.  Regardless, the Gamecocks, which finished off the SEC portion of its slate with the win, remain within shouting distance of first-place Missouri.  And will be the biggest Ole Miss/Texas A&M fans the next two weeks.

– No. 15 UCF 39, Temple 36:   It took a miraculous touchdown catch — and that catch was the dictionary definition of an athletic miracle — and a field goal with no time on the clock, but the Knights were able to finally subdue the one-win Owls, maintaining a firm stranglehold on their AAC lead and continuing to close in on the first-ever BCS berth in the program’s history.

– No. 19 Louisville 20, Houston 13: Trailing the Cougars by three at halftime, the Cardinals put 10 points on the board in the third quarter while holding the potent UH offense to no points in the second half to win its third straight game after losing its first game of the season.

– No. 21 Arizona State 30, Oregon State 17: The Sun Devils led the reeling Beavers 20-10 entering the fourth quarter before finally putting OSU away for good with an interception return for a touchdown with just over five minutes left.  With 10 games in the books, ASU’s year essentially comes down to a one-game season: next Saturday against UCLA, with the opportunity to clinch the Pac-12 South on the line.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Florida State — Yep, I finally pulled the trigger.  Here’s what you need to know about the Seminoles: the past six games against teams that are currently a combined 34-26, FSU has outscored those opponents 322-51.  From my vantage point in this corner of my mom’s basement, the ‘Noles are simply the best and most talented team in the game. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. Idaho

2. Alabama — Dropping the Tide was something I had been considering for the past three weeks, based solely on how FSU was playing.  Alabama’s sloppy 13-point win over Mississippi State added to how FSU continues to play allowed me to justify such a move in my own head. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Chattanooga

3. Ohio State — When the polls come out this later this morning/early this afternoon, it would serve as a major shock if Baylor didn’t leapfrog the Buckeyes in all three of the major polls, including the two that are part of the BCS standings.  I won’t do that here, although watching the Buckeyes muddle through what should’ve been a game-long cakewalk against a really bad Illinois team had me at least considering it. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Indiana

4. Baylor — The Bears’ idea of a close game is spotting its opponents the first 14 points, then outscoring them 63-20 the rest of the way to turn an upset alert into a blowout.  BU will likely face its stiffest of the season this weekend as they travel to Stillwater.  Maybe then we can all get a handle on just how good this team really is. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: at No. 12 Oklahoma State

5. Missouri — Yes, you could’ve made the case for Auburn or Oregon or Clemson or Michigan State or Oklahoma State here, but the quality of the Tigers’ lone loss trumps every other team’s.  Auburn lost by double digits to three-loss LSU.  Oregon was dropped rather handily and easily by a Stanford team that’s lost to 4-6 Utah and USC, which fired its head coach before the first month of the season was in the books.  Clemson was taken to the woodshed by FSU.  Michigan State lost to a Notre Dame squad that’s currently unranked.  Oklahoma State lost to West Virginia, which lost in Week 12 to a Kansas team that hadn’t won a Big 12 games in three years.  Mizzou’s lone loss came in overtime to a ranked South Carolina and after it had taken a 17-0 lead into the fourth quarter before getting Connor Shaw‘d. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at Ole Miss

(Dropped out: No. 5 Stanford)

HE SAID IT
“This team has the ‘It’ factor. That’s just the bottom line. … I told them a minute ago that I think we’re in the midst of something special.” — Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, following the miraculous win over Georgia.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I think most teams would have folded or found a reason to quit but they didn’t do that. … I talked about being disciplined on and off the field. If your goal is to live a disciplined life, you’ll probably have a blessed life.” — Mark Richt, when asked what he said to his Georgia players following the heartbreaking loss to Auburn.

HELMET OF THE DAY
This may not be the most “hip” helmet in an era where the Oregons and Baylors of the college football world look to one-up each other on a seemingly weekly basis, but it’s certainly the most meaningful.  For its game against Ohio State Saturday, the Illinois players wore an understated tribute on their heads: a silhouette of the state of Illinois with 10 stars arranged in the shape of an “I” inside of it.  Those 10 stars represent the 10 football players who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country in the armed forces, giving their lives in combat for our freedom.

Illini Tribute Helmet

Illini Combat Heroes

Well done, Illini.  Well done.

SAY WHAT?
As embarrassing as the loss was for West Virginia, it was an even bigger relief for Kansas.  The Jayhawks’ 31-19 win over the Mountaineers snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak that was the longest negative league streak among AQ schools.  Prior to Saturday afternoon, KU’s last conference win came on Nov. 6, 2010 against Colorado.  You had to go all the way back to Oct. 10, 2009 (Iowa State) for the Jayhawks’ last win over a current member of the conference.  Since playing in the Orange Bowl following the 2007 season and prior to the WVU win, KU had gone 6-42 in Big 12 play, with four of those wins coming in 2008.

TRUE STORY
Oklahoma’s 48-10 win over Iowa State was the 157th of Bob Stoops‘ career with the Sooners, tying Barry Switzer for the most wins in school history.  In 15 seasons, Stoops has gone 156-39 (.796); Switzer went 157-29-4 (.837) in 15 seasons.  In those 15 seasons under Switzer, the Sooners collected three national championships and won or shared 12 Big 8 titles.  In his 16 seasons, Stoops has laid claim to one BCS title and eight won or shared Big 12 championships.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– The number of undefeated teams remained static from a week ago: Alabama, Florida State, Northern Illinois and Ohio State at 10-0, Baylor and Fresno State at 9-0.  The same held true on the other side of the won-loss ledger, with Georgia State, Hawaii, Miami of Ohio and Southern Miss at 0-10, and UConn at 0-9.  It should be noted that the Rainbow Warriors took San Diego State to overtime before remaining winless.

– While Andre Williams was impressive in rushing for 339 yards, he wasn’t the top ground performer in college football this weekend.  Not even close, actually.  D-III running back Cartel Brooks rushed for 465 yards, setting an all-division NCAA record in the process.  That record had been 455 yards… and was set just three weeks ago by D-III Western Connecticut’s Octavias McKoy.

Kapri Bibbs– Coming off a 312-yard, four-touchdown performance last weekend, Colorado State’s Kapri Bibbs ran for 291 yards and a program-record six touchdowns in the win over New Mexico.

Carlos Hyde ran for a career-high 246 yards and score five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) as Ohio State remained unbeaten on the season with a win over Illinois.

– The day of the running back continues as Kansas’ James Sims‘ 211 yards and three touchdowns helped the Jayhawks snap their lengthy Big 12 skid.

AJ McCarron set one Alabama record and tied another in the win over Mississippi State.  The senior now has 8,146 yards of total offense in his career, surpassing John Parker Wilson‘s 8,099 yards from 2005-08.  The win was also the 35th of his career, tying him with Jay Barker (1991-94) in that category.

– Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay threw for a career-best 405 yards and four TDs in the Bearcats’ 52-17 thumping of Rutgers.

Allen Robinson now has 78 catches on the season, breaking the Penn State record of 77 he set in 2012.

– Texas Tech began the 2013 season by winning its first seven games.  The last four games, all losses, the Red Raiders have been outscored 202-124.

– Alabama streak of seven straight wins by at least 21 points was snapped Saturday night.  The SEC record for consecutive wins by 21-plus points still belongs to Florida alone, which won eight straight such games in 2008.

James Franklin– Vanderbilt is bowl-eligible for the third straight season, the first time that’s happened in the football program’s history.

– Ole Miss totaled a school-record 751 yards of offense (382 passing, 369 rushing) as the Rebels waylaid Troy 51-21.

– In Clemson’s 55-31 throttling of Georgia Tech Thursday night, Tajh Boyd completed 20 of his 26 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns.  The senior also added a rushing touchdown.  Boyd now has 97 career touchdown passes, breaking the mark of 95 previously held by North Carolina State’s Philip Rivers.

– For the fourth time in his career, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato passed for more than 400 yards (456) in a single game as the Herd got past Tulsa Thursday night, 45-34, to remain tied atop the Conference USA East standings with East Carolina.  The junior passed for 400 yards-plus three times in the first five games last season.

Jordan Lynch passed for 345 yards, ran for 123 more, tossed two touchdown passes and scored two on the ground as Northern Illinois remained unbeaten with their 48-27 win over Ball State Wednesday night.  It was the first time this season and third time in his career he’s passed for 300-plus and rushed for 100-plus in the same game, with one of those being a 400/100 game.

– Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata also passed for a career high 497 yards in the Bulls’ 51-41 loss to Toledo Tuesday night.  The sophomore’s previous career-high was 285 yards in a win over Western Michigan last November.

–  A dozen different Yellow Jackets were credited with at least one rushing attempt in the loss to Clemson, the seventh time in 10 contests this season run-heavy Georgia Tech has used double-digit ball carriers in a single game.

Marshall 75 HelmetIN CLOSING…
Say what you want about the negative headlines some college football players make for off-field escapades, but the vast majority of young men at this level of the game are good folk and quality people.  Case in point: the Marshall Thundering Herd.  Thursday night, Marshall debuted helmets that featured the number “75” on the left side, with that number honoring the 75 souls lost in the tragic plane crash on Nov. 14, 1970.  The plan was for the special helmet to be a one-shot deal.  However, the school announced via a press release Saturday that a decision has been made to wear the helmets for the remainder of the season… because the players requested that the tribute continue. “Remembering those 75 people isn’t about one day; it’s about a mentality here,” head coach Doc Holliday said.  More than anything, those Herd players showed that the memories of those who perished in that tragedy will not fade away with the passing of time.  And that the word “respect” still means something.

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Indicted for attempted rape, BGSU RB William Houston suspended

MAC Championship - Bowling Green v Northern Illinois Getty Images

A rather serious incident, or at least allegations of a serious incident, has triggered a suspension for one Bowling Green Falcon.

According to the Toledo Blade, running back William Houston was indicted by a Wood County (Ohio) grand jury in August for attempted rape.  The alleged attempted rape occurred July 20 and had previously been reported.

From the Blade:

Bowling Green police were called to a home in the 200 block of Manville Avenue where the victim told police she’d fallen asleep and awoke when a man “tried to force himself on her.” Mr. Houston was identified by others who were also at the home as the suspect, and he was arrested in an on-campus residence hall.

BGSU independently investigated the allegations, finding Houston responsible for “sexual contact without permission.” As a result, Houston was suspended from the football team for a period of two years.

Why he wasn’t banned permanently from both the team and the university pending the outcome of a trial is unknown.

A three-star member of the Falcons’ 2013 recruiting, Houston rushed for 211 yards as a true freshman last season.  He also led the team with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Obviously, Houston didn’t play in the season-opening loss to Western Kentucky.

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ACC will not punish Syracuse QB Hunt for punching Villanova player

Terrel Hunt

Syracuse got by FCS power Villanova in a Friday night season-opener, but had to do so following the ejection of starting quarterback Terrel Hunt. Hunt was ejected from the football game after throwing a punch on the ground to Villanova linebacker Dillon Lucas, who had tackled the quarterback in the second quarter.

According to Section 6.1 of the NCAA rule book, a player disqualified from a game due to a flagrant personal foul will have the incident reviewed by his team’s conference to determine if any extra punishment is deemed necessary. That review is to be completed before the team’s next game on the schedule. Citing information from an ACC spokesperson, Syracuse.com reports the ACC has reviewed the play and will not hand out any extra punishment.

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer released a statement through the Syracuse athletics department to say he and Hunt discussed the incident and are now moving forward.

“Terrel and I have talked regarding his flagrant penalty (vs. Villanova) and he fully understands the behavior is not condoned and regrets his action,” the statement read, according to Syracuse.com.

Syracuse’s next game is not until September 13, when the Orange visit Central Michigan.

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Cody Kessler undergoes procedure, expected to start vs. Stanford

Fresno State v USC Getty Images

A lower leg issue is not expected to keep USC’s starting quarterback out of what will be a huge conference matchup this weekend, head coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday.

According to the head coach, Cody Kessler underwent a medical procedure on one of his toes earlier in the day.  While Sarkisian wouldn’t specify the nature of the medical issue, the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Kessler was hospitalized with a staph infection in the toe.

Regardless of the specific nature of the issue, Sarkisian said Kessler is expected to start Saturday’s game against Stanford.

Kessler, who has started 15 straight games for the Trojans, passed for a career-high 394 yards and four touchdowns in the season-opening win over Fresno State.  He was named the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Week for that performance.

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Movement aplenty in first in-season AP Top 25

Texas A&M v South Carolina Getty Images

Thanks to some upsets — and a couple of high-profile near-misses– shakeup was the name of the game as the Associated Press released its first poll of the 2014 season Tuesday afternoon.

In that Top 25 poll, Florida State, coming off a closer-than-expected win over unranked Oklahoma State, remained No. 1, although the defending FBS champs did see an erosion in their support.  After receiving 57 first-place votes in the AP‘s preseason poll, the Seminoles claimed just 46 in Week 1.

A whopping six teams were on the receiving end of first-place votes from the media: No. 2 Alabama (one), No. 3 Oregon (five), No. 4 Oklahoma (two), No. 6 Georgia (two), No. 9 Texas A&M (two) and No. 12 LSU (one).

While the top four teams remained the same from a week ago, every position but No. 10 (Baylor), No. 20 (Kansas State) and No. 24 changed.

Below are the four biggest movers, of the week, both up and down:

UP
No. 9 Texas A&M (No. 21 last week)
No. 6 Georgia (No. 12)
No. 15 Ole Miss (No. 18)
No. 19 Nebraska (No. 22)
No. 25 Louisville (No. 31 last week)

DOWN
No. 21 South Carolina (No. 9)
No. 23 Clemson (No. 16)
No. 11 UCLA (No. 7)
No. 18 Wisconsin (No. 14)
No. 8 Ohio State (No. 5)

The only team to fall out the Top 25 this week was Washington, which was ranked 25th entering Week 1.

AP Top 25 Week 1

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Spurrier on Mike Davis: ‘good chance he’ll play’

Texas A&M v South Carolina Getty Images

Apparently it was a false alarm when it came to Mike Davis.  Again.

Monday, Steve Spurrier said his star running back is “sort of doubtful” for South Carolina’s game Saturday against East Carolina because of a lingering rib issue.  That issue limited the All-SEC back to just four carries, none after the midway point of the second quarter in the season-opening loss to Texas A&M.

During a press conference Tuesday, however, Spurrier sounded decidedly optimistic about Davis’ availability compared to 24 hours ago.

Because of Davis’ issues, Brandon Wilds led all USC backs with 45 yards on nine carries.

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Vols lose starting LT to torn ACL

Jacob Gilliam, Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson

Thanks to injuries, the game of football can be a cruel mistress.  The latest example?  Tennessee’s Jacob Gilliam.

After four years as a walk-on, the offensive lineman was rewarded with a scholarship this past May.  Then, Saturday, Gilliam started his first game at the collegiate level in the Vols’ win over Utah State.

That, though, will be Gilliam’s last start for a while — or ever — as head coach Butch Jones confirmed Tuesday that the player sustained a torn ACL in the opener.  Because of the injury, Gilliam (pictured, left) will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

“It’s very, very unfortunate,” Jones said. “I feel for him. I feel for his family. Here’s a young man, I love him to death. Walk-on who earned a scholarship. He earned it. … I just feel for Jacob just because he’s earned the respect of his peers and he’s worked so hard to put himself in position to be our starting left tackle.”

The Knoxville News wrote that “Jones said Tennessee is exploring the possibility of applying for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, but it’s unlikely that will be granted.” If that waiver is denied, it would mean the end to Gilliam’s collegiate career.

The injury is especially damaging for a Vols squad that came into the 2014 season with five new starting offensive linemen.

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FSU still sits atop coaches’ poll

Oklahoma State v Florida State Getty Images

With Week 1 officially in the books, the first wave of Top 25 polls has commenced in earnest, with the newly-dubbed Amway Coaches’ Poll the first to do the in-season 2014 honors.

Not so unexpectedly, preseason No. 1 Florida State remains at the top of the coaching poll.  The Seminoles also stretched its lead on No. 2 Alabama, going from 88 points up on the Tide to 109 as well as picking up a first-place vote.

FSU now has 57 of the 62 first-place votes.

Three other teams received first-place votes: No. 3 Oklahoma (two), No. 4 Oregon (two) and No. 8 Georgia (one), which was ranked No. 12 in the initial preseason poll.  The other team that received a first-place vote in the poll released last month, South Carolina, lost to Texas A&M and tumbled all the way to No. 21 from No. 9.

UCLA, with a sloppy road win over Virginia, also fell out of the Top 10, from No. 7 to No. 11.  Replacing the Bruins in the Top 10 was Stanford at No. 10.

Ohio State also dropped despite a win, moving down two from No. 6 to No. 8.  Michigan State, on the other hand, moved into the No. 6 hole vacated by their Big Ten foe after entering Week 1 No. 7.

The Top 10 was rounded out by Auburn (No. 5, same as last week) and Baylor (No. 9, No. 10 last week).

Thanks to its dominating win over South Carolina Thursday night, A&M made the biggest move up in the coaches’ Top 25.  Ranked No. 20 entering Week 1, the Aggies climbed all the way up to No. 13 entering Week 2.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, dropped five spots to No. 19 following its loss to LSU.  The Tigers, though, moved up just one spot to No. 12.

Oklahoma State, which nearly knocked off FSU, is the first team in the “Others Receiving Votes” with 106 points; in the preseason poll, the Cowboys totaled just 37.

Unlike in the past with the BCS, and as we will remind you every week moving forward, neither the coaches’ poll or the Associated Press rankings, which will be released this afternoon, will have any bearing on which teams qualify for the College Football Playoff.

1. Florida State 1,541
2. Alabama 1,432
3. Oklahoma 1,407
4. Oregon 1,358
5. Auburn 1,289
6. Michigan State 1,141
7. Ohio State 1,114
8. Georgia 1,108
9. Baylor 1,018
10. Stanford 999
11. UCLA 964
12. LSU 912
13. Texas A&M 895
14. USC 713
15. Notre Dame 605
16. Arizona State 502
17. Ole Miss 438
18. Nebraska 384
19. Wisconsin 373
20. Kansas State 370
21. South Carolina 272
22. Missouri 189
23. North Carolina 189
24. Clemson 155
25. Texas 150

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Badgers to shut Joel Stave down, ‘give him some rest’

Joel Stave

After watching Tanner McEvoy put up some horrific numbers in Wisconsin’s loss to LSU — 8-of-24 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions — many were calling for backup Joel Stave to come in and save the quarterbacking day.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, that’s simply not possible.  At least, not at the moment.

UW announced Tuesday that Stave will miss some time due to a lingering shoulder issue, which was a point of concern for the coaching staff throughout spring practice.  It’s unclear how long the senior will be sidelined.

“Joel has been dealing with some issues with his throwing shoulder for the last couple of weeks and we have come to a decision, after talking with Joel, that the best thing for him right now is to shut it down and give him some rest,” head coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. “It was a tough decision because Joel is a great competitor and has a tremendous desire to help this team. We will continue to monitor his progress but we’re not putting a timetable on his return at this time.”

Putting Stave on the shelf also explains why McEvoy wasn’t yanked in the midst of his subpar performance.

Stave started all 13 games for the Badgers last season, while the 6-6, 222-pound McEvoy was moved to safety — played in 10 games, started three — before returning to quarterback in the spring. The naming of McEvoy as the starter for the opener came as a surprise given the experience on both sides, including McEvoy’s lack of it.

With Stave out for the foreseeable future, however, the Badgers’ fortunes will rest with McEvoy. Redshirt sophomore Bart Houston will now serve as McEvoy’s primary backup.

In addition to the Stave news, Anderson also announced that tight end T.J. Watt will “miss an extended amount of time” because of injury.  Anderson said the younger brother of UW legend J.J. Watt “suffered a right knee injury during camp which required surgery.”

“[W]e hope to have him back on the practice field at some point during the conference season,” the coach said of Watt.

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Terps lose WR Taivon Jacobs to season-ending knee injury

C.J. Brown, Andrew Isaacs, Taivon Jacobs, Silvano Altamirano AP

It’s not been a good past few days for Maryland’s pass-catching Jacobs brothers.

Friday, Levern Jacobs was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the school’s code of student conduct.  Two days later, head coach Randy Edsall announced that Taivon Jacobs (pictured, No. 12) has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t detailed.

Jacobs suffered the injury on the second drive of the Terps’ season-opening win against James Madison Saturday.

As a true freshman in 2013, Jacobs took a redshirt as a torn ACL suffered during his senior year in high school limited his availability.  Jacobs, who was one of three starting Terp receivers, didn’t record a catch prior to going down with the injury.

The loss of the Jacobs brothers continues an attrition trend at the position over the past year.  In 2013, both of Maryland’s top receivers, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, went down with season-ending injuries in the same mid-October game.  Shortly before the start of summer camp this year, Nigel King, the team’s third-leading receiver last year, left the football team and ultimately landed at Kansas earlier this month.

 

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Brother of Miss. St. WR Jameon Lewis shot, killed

Alabama v Mississippi State Getty Images

Sadly, real life has found a way to impact one of the top returning wide receivers in the SEC.

According to WJTV, Tyriunce Lewis, the brother of Mississippi State Bulldog Jameon Lewis, was shot and killed late Sunday morning at an apartment complex in Tylertown, Miss. The website wrote that “a disagreement between Tyriunce Lewis and Kendall Magee escalated into gunfire.”

Lewis was shot once in the head with a handgun, the sheriff told the television station.

Tyriunce Lewis was in attendance at the Bulldogs 49-0 season-opening win over Southern Miss Saturday, a fact the receiver relayed in an Instagram post Monday.

It’s crazy how life works at time… Just saw my lil brother last night, he came to my game to support me!!! Who knew that was gonna be my last time seeing my blood brother!!! Life is unpredictable #RipToot I love ya lil bra!!! I promise ya, your lil ones would be in good hands & have a bright future!!! #FlyHighBra #MuchLoveTubby

Jameon Lewis is the leading returning receiver in the SEC. He had three catches for 25 yards in the opener.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Biloxi Sun Herald)

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Louisville downs Miami, now owns ACC record for all-time winning percentage

Miami v Louisville Getty Images

Tomorrow morning, Miami will wake up in south Florida and begin preparation for an opponent other than Louisville. That’s a wonderful thing for Al Golden and his football program. In closing the 2013 season and opening this season with losses to these Cardinals (36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, 31-13 tonight), Miami watched its offense score two total touchdowns in 23 possessions. That may sound bad – okay, it is bad – but the ‘Canes have been better at scoring touchdowns than converting third downs. They went a combined 1-for-23 there.

True freshman Brad Kaaya earned the start, playing about as well as you could reasonably expect an 18-year-old making his first start in a conference road game could play, hitting 17-of-29 throws for 174 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Duke Johnson contributed a workmanlike 20 carries for 90 yards.

Missed opportunities will be the story for Miami after the Hurricanes twice inherited the ball inside Louisville’s 10 yard line and came away with a total of three points. But perhaps the biggest blown chance of the night came early in the fourth quarter, when Kaaya hit Johnson on a wheel route that would have given Miami a first-and-goal at the 5 and a chance to pull within one score, but offensive lineman Danny Isidora was hit with an ineligible receiver downfield penalty, negating the entire play. Two plays later Kaaya was sacked for a loss of 11 yards, and two plays after that Miami turned the ball over on downs.

Louisville then took over at its own 33, leisurely marched 67 yards in 14 plays, ate up an oh-so-valuable 7:47 off the clock, and pushed the score to 31-13.

Ball, meet game.

In the re-debut of Bobby Petrino at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, it was the Cardinal running game that powered his highly-respected offense. Dominique Brown rushed 33 times for 143 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Will Gardner added 206 passing yards and two touchdowns (plus two lost fumbles) in his first start. The win moves Petrino to 42-9 at Louisville, and an impressive 23-1 at home.

Most importantly, the win moves Louisville to 1-0 all-time in ACC play, thereby placing the Cardinals atop the conference record books for all-time winning percentage.

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Standout Nebraska DE Randy Gregory doubtful for McNeese State game

Randy Gregory, Nathan Scheelhaase

An old basketball injury could cost Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory the first two games of his 2014 season – at least.

Gregory left the Cornhuskers’ 55-7 defeat of Florida Atlantic after the first defensive series, and is now doubtful for Saturday’s game with McNeese State. According to head coach Bo Pelini, a non-contact play aggravated an old injury that caused a clicking sensation inside Gregory’s knee.

Considering Nebraska was able to beat Florida Atlantic 55-7 without him, and with McNeese State and Fresno State (52-13 losers to USC on Saturday) on the docket before Miami visits Lincoln on Sept. 20, the Huskers can afford to be patient with Gregory. And that’s exactly how they plan to proceed.

“We’re not looking to rush him back right now,” Pelini told the Associated Press. “Make sure he’s 100 percent, feels good, and when that time frame is, we’ll see.”

Gregory earned preseason All-Big Ten honors after leading the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks as a sophomore. He earned consensus First Team All-Big Ten honors in 2013 after collecting 66 tackles and 19.5 tackles for loss in addition to registering a double-digit sack number.

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Louisville-Miami a beautiful mess through one half, Cards lead 14-10

Al Golden

Though it is the final game of extended Week 1 of the 2014 college football season, we must remember tonight is indeed still Week 1 for everyone. Because all three teams on the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium field tonight – Louisville, Miami and the officials – have been sloppy as all get out. Louisville leads Miami 14-10 at the break.

The most entertaining – and infuriating – sequence came at the top of the second quarter. ‘Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya hit Clive Waiford for a two-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, Will Gardner was sacked and fumbled on first down, handing the ‘Canes the ball again at the Louisville seven. One snap later, Kaaya snapped a pass to Stacy Coley, which he dropped. Keith Kelsey scooped the free pigskin and raced toward his own end zone, but the play was blown dead even though it was clearly a backward pass. To top it all off, Louisville had 13 players on the field at the snap.

Louisville started its first five possessions inside its own 20 thanks to some atrocious special teams play, and then took the lead with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Corvin LambBobby Petrino’s offense has been mostly inconsistent through the night with four drives of three plays or less, but opened the scoring with a 12-play, 93-yard drive capped by a two-yard touchdown toss from Gardner to Charles Standberry

Kaaya has been as good as you can reasonably expect for an 18-year-old true freshman making his first start in a road conference game. He’s hit 8-of-12 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions – though he did under-throw that lateral to Coley that ended a golden opportunity for the Hurricanes.

Miami gets the ball to open the second half.

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Time served: Suspensions for three Gators washed away with the rain

Darious Cummings

Florida’s season-opening game with Idaho wasn’t the only thing that washed away in downpour that pelted Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday that defensive tackle Darious Cummings, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick had satisfied their suspensions and would be eligible to play against Eastern Michigan this week despite the fact that they, you know, didn’t actually miss any time.

“They will be back this week with us,” Muschamp told ESPN.com. “Not just as far as the suspension of a game, but they’ve handled a lot of other things for me, as well as Demarcus Robinson, who had a university sanction that’s been resolved.”

Considering the suspensions weren’t even announced until Saturday afternoon, the Gators trio has to have set some sort of record for shortest time spent in the timeout corner.

Cummings and Bostwick were suspended for unspecified violations of team rules, while Robinson was cited for the equally vague “university sanctions”.

Cummings and Bostwick were listed as the top two nose tackles on Florida’s Week 1 depth chart. The former started six of the 11 games he appeared in a year ago, while Bostwick was set to appear in his first career game after redshirting his freshman season in 2013. Robinson played in seven games and nabbed five receptions for 23 yards as a true freshman a year ago.

No decision has been made as to whether or not to reschedule the Gators-Vandals tilt. Florida and Idaho share an off week on Oct. 25, but neither side seems interested in playing on that date. Probably has something to do with the fact that it’d be a one-sided, cross-country non-conference game during the middle of the season. Idaho head coach Paul Petrino broached the idea today of rescheduling for early December provided, obviously, that Florida does not reach the SEC title game.

If the game does indeed get rescheduled, we know where Florida’s Wrist Slap Three will be – on the field.

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Citing “stuff”, Urban Meyer suspends Ohio State TE for two games

MarcusBaugh

Ohio State tight end Marcus Baugh did not play in the Buckeyes’ 34-17 win over Navy, and he will not play against Virginia Tech this Saturday, either. In meeting with the media Monday, head coach Urban Meyer provided what has to be the least informative answer of all time in explaining the reason for Baugh’s two-game suspension.

“Stuff.”

That’s what the third-year Buckeyes coach told the assembled scribes, according to Cleveland.com.

Baugh was cited for underage consumption of alcohol back in mid-July, and then again in January. Ergo, two underage drinking citations equals two games lost to Baugh’s 2014 season. The good news here is that Baugh’s father, Frank, confirmed to the paper that no new issues have popped up in the past eight months. Baugh was simply being punished for his past misdeeds.

“(My past) definitely opened my eyes,” Baugh told Cleveland.com in April. “I am out of chances and I have to do this … I (feared I wouldn’t be on the team) after my second incident. I thought I was gone. But now I am learning the offense and trying to go hard.”

A four-star prospect out of John W. North High School in Riverside, Calif., Baugh caught 30 passes for 610 yards and three touchdowns during his senior season of 2012 before redshirting in 2013. He was rated the No. 6 tight end in the nation and the No. 18 overall player in the state of California.

(Photo Credit: Ohio State Athletics)
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