The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind

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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

A righteous salute
Daniel Rodriguez earned a Purple Heart and was awarded the Bronze Star for his military service in Afghanistan several years ago.  Rodriguez moved on to become  a wide receiver at Clemson, walking on to the Tigers football team after serving two tours of duty.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with his heartwarming story, you should be.  For those who are, there’s another chapter to add to it.  In the Tigers’ home finale Saturday, Rodriguez caught the first touchdown of his career, a two-yarder from backup Cole Stoudt less than a minute into the fourth quarter.  The best part?  The touchdown came on a Senior Day that also doubled as Military Appreciation Day.  A bona-fide war hero scores a touchdown on a day that honors the military?  It doesn’t get much better than that.  And, dammit, it got dusty in here when that highlight came across my television screen.  God bless Rodriguez for his service.  And God bless Dabo Swinney for not only giving Rodriguez the opportunity to write this story, but for allowing him to add this on-field chapter to it.

OSU wins, as does OSU
Thanks to a team with the same acronym, Ohio State can stuff the phrase “style points” back in the closet for at least another year.  With Oklahoma State’s win over Baylor, the Buckeyes are now the clear-cut No. 3 team in the country, perched just outside of the Top Two and awaiting a stumble — either on the field or off — by Alabama or Florida State to clear a spot in the BCS title game — provided they remain perfect, of course.  The Bears had been poised to leapfrog the Buckeyes in the BCS rankings with a win over the No. 10 Cowboys, standing just .0013 percentage points behind OSU entering Week 13.  Now, not only has BU lost out on what most certainly would’ve been a No. 3 slotting in this week’s BCS rankings, but they’ve given up control of the conference as well.  That honor, of course, now falls to the “other” OSU.  If the Cowboys can upend Oklahoma in the annual Bedlam matchup Dec. 7, they would claim the Big 12’s automatic BCS bid.  If the Cowboys loses, the winner of the Texas-Baylor game the same weekend — if the Longhorns handle Texas Tech on Thanksgiving and the Bears do the same with TCU two days later — would claim the conference title and the BCS berth.  And if there were a three-way tie?  Oklahoma State, on the strength of head-to-head wins over Baylor and Texas, would win the tiebreaker and the conference title.

Rodney HardrickRose Bowl hot potato
The first nine weeks of the season, Oregon appeared in charge of both the Pac-12 North and No. 2 spot in the country behind Alabama before losing to Stanford in Week 10.  In full control of the North, the Cardinal promptly handed it back to the Ducks a week later with a loss to USC.  A week later?  The hot potato’s back on The Farm… and won’t be leaving.  In a stunning turn of events, Oregon was beaten about the neck and head by Arizona in a 42-16 loss in the desert.  That loss coupled with Stanford’s romp in the Big Game against Cal hands the North division and a spot in the Pac-12 championship game to the Cardinal.  Stanford closed out conference play at 7-2 — they close out the regular season against Notre Dame — while Oregon sits at 6-2.  Even if the Ducks win the Civil War over Oregon State and get to 7-2, the division would go to the Cardinal thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.  Stanford also learned its opponent in the conference title game later on in the day: Arizona State, which held off UCLA to wrap-up its first-ever Pac-12 South title.  The two teams met in Week 4, with the Cardinal claiming a 14-point home win.  The Sun Devils have subsequently won seven of eight, with the lone loss coming by three points to Notre Dame.  If ASU beats in-state rival Arizona next weekend, the Sun Devils would host the Cardinal in the Pac-12 title game by virtue of having the best conference record.

Tobacco Road magic continues
Known more for its hardwood success, Duke Saturday continued what’s been a magical and magnificently unexpected season on the gridiron.  After falling behind Wake Forest by 14 early, the Blue Devils fought back for a 28-21 win that maintained their control of the ACC Coastal.  If Duke handles Tobacco Road rival North Carolina next weekend, the Blue Devils will clinch the football program’s first-ever division title and a spot in the conference title game against Florida State.  Already clinched?  Duke’s first nine-win season since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president in 1941.  If the Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels in the regular-season finale, they would reach double digits in wins for the first time since the school began playing football way back in 1888.  With apologies to Art Briles and Gus Malzahn and a handful of other deserving candidates, David Cutcliffe would get my vote for Coach of the Year.  In fact, in the unnamed COTY award for which I do vote, he will get my nod.  What an outstanding job he’s done.

Andre 2000
As the Heisman stage has seemingly been reset with just two weeks left in the regular/conference championship game season, it’s about time another player from ACC is added to the mix.  In Boston College’s last-second win over Maryland, Andre Williams rushed for 263 yards; over the past three games, Williams has rushed for 897 yards.  That’s the second-best three-game stretch in FBS history, behind only the great Barry Sanders‘ 937 yards.  This hot streak also leaves Williams in hot pursuit of another of Sanders’ records.  Williams is currently averaging 188.5 yards per game, putting him on pace for 2,450 yards on the season; Sanders holds the single-season mark with 2,628 yards, albeit in just 11 games and before stats in postseason games were officially counted by the NCAA.  While Williams would need to average a little over 275 yards in the Eagles’ last two games (regular-season finale, bowl game) to break the official standard, anytime you’re in the same book as Sanders let alone the same paragraph you deserve to be mentioned among the best today’s game has to offer.

Tip of the iceberg?
In Navy’s three-overtime win over San Jose State, Kennan Reynolds rushed for seven touchdowns, breaking by one the single-game FBS record for quarterbacks last set in 2002.  His 26 rushing touchdowns in 2013 are just one shy of the season record of 27, and the Midshipmen still have the regular-season finale against Army plus a bowl game in which Reynolds can shatter that mark.  Reynolds has now rushed for 36 touchdowns in 24 career games; the FBS career mark is 59 by Nebraska’s Eric Crouch (43 games) and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick (51 games).  The best part about Reynold’s meteoric rise for the service academy and the worst part for future opponents?  Reynolds is just a true sophomore.  Yeah, good luck with that.

No stiff-arm love, but…
For whatever reason — with that reason being he plays in the MAC — Jordan Lynch gets little or no run when it comes to Heisman contenders.  Suffice to say, his stats and his team’s play say he should.  In helping Northern Illinois remain one of six undefeated teams at the FBS level with a division-clinching win over Toledo Wednesday night, the quarterback completed 17-of-22 passes for 202 yards while also rushing for 161 and scoring three touchdowns on the ground.  Lynch has accounted for 38 touchdowns this season — 21 rushing and 17 passing — which leaves him fifth in the country in points responsible for per game at 21.3.  The senior’s also fifth in total offense.  At the very least, Lynch is deserving of a trip to New York in mid-December as he truly is one of the most outstanding players in the country.

THUMBS DOWN

Mike Gundy Art BrilesNovember and the Big 12
In the future, the Big 12 may want to petition to have the month of November scrubbed from the schedule.  Or, at the very least, have November road games involved their unbeatens scrubbed.  On Nov. 18, 2011, 10-0 Oklahoma State went into Ames and lost to Iowa State.  On Nov. 17, 2012, 10-0 Kansas State went into Waco and lost to Baylor.  Now, on Nov. 23 of this year, 9-0 Baylor goes into Stillwater and loses to Oklahoma State.  Three years, three road losses within a week on the calendar that took the Big 12 as a conference out of a shot at a spot in the BCS title game.  That’s simply amazing.  And quite creepy, to be honest.

Lowering the Boom on Muschamp’s tenure
If Will Muschamp somehow survives this, he’ll be the proverbial cat hurtling toward double-digit lives.  Losing to Vanderbilt at home for the first time since 1945 is one thing.  Failing to qualify for a bowl for the first time since 1986 is another.  Posting the football program’s worst record since 1979 is another, as is a six-game losing streak that’s the longest since that same season.  Losing to an average FCS team in The Swamp?  That’s another matter entirely, and a wholly fireable offense if athletic director Jeremy Foley can backtrack from his infamous “thousand-percent” support stance less than a week ago.  Combining everything leading up to and including the loss to Georgia Southern, it’s incomprehensible that a program of UF’s stature would allow whatever it is that’s going on with Muschamp’s Gators to continue on into the 2014 season.  Better to admit the mistake now rather than allowing it to cost you another season.  Just ask Tennessee what that does for you.

Lukewarm Hoke seat?
“Michigan is lackluster in a horrid sense.”  Lather, rinse, repeat.  What’s quickly becoming a lost season for the Wolverines has found a way to dig a new rock-bottom, with UM able to muster just 158 yards of offense in a 24-21 loss to Iowa — and that was with four Hawkeye turnovers attempting to aid the cause.  Averaging 2.1 yards a carry won’t cut it against fair-to-middlin’ Iowa, and it certainly won’t cut it in The Game against Ohio State next Saturday.  I don’t know what needs to be done about UM’s Pop Warner offense; I do know, though, that something must be done.  Losing three of their last five games the way they have screams for coaching heads to roll, especially given the fact that the offense looks light years away from even approaching respectable.  Among the myriad coaching decisions that will be made over the next month or so, the one in Ann Arbor — head, offensive or otherwise — will be among the more fascinating to watch.

John Defense > Johnny Football
If Johnny Manziel were forced to play every game against a John Chavis-coached defense, we never would’ve been able to refer to the Texas A&M quarterback as “the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.”  Manziel’s two worst games as an Aggie read like a quarterbacking horror story: a completion percentage of just over 46 percent, with just one touchdown pass versus five interceptions.  Manziel’s legs were mitigated in those two games as well, with the All-American averaging just 2.8 yards on 29 carries and being shut out of the end zone.  Both of those games came against LSU, including last night’s 34-10 humbling at the hands of Chavis and the Tigers defense.  Manziel’s performance — completing 39 percent of his passes and tossing two picks — in the loss likely put a dent in his hopes for back-to-back Heismans, hopes that had been buoyed by Jameis Winston‘s off-field situation.

Mercy rule
How bad was North Carolina’s 80-20 evisceration of Old Dominion?  Here’s the tweet the former sent out prior to the start of the fourth quarter, explaining how the final period would play out:

I don’t care how bad you’re getting beat, ODU should be embarrassed for either agreeing to a shorter quarter or suggesting it in the first place.  Either way, it was the wrong message to send to the team, regardless of how in over their head they may have been.

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

— No. 21 Louisville 24, Memphis 17: The Cardinals were cruising, leading the Tigers 24-7, before two fourth-quarter touchdowns turned a comfortable win into one that was closer than it should’ve been.

— No. 22 Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 31:  Up just 27-24 entering the fourth quarter, the Sooners used a pair of touchdowns just 1:08 apart to put enough distance between themselves and the upset-minded Wildcats to hand Bob Stoops a record-setting win.

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 — The damage from the past seven games: Seminoles 402, Opponents 65.  I’d say that’s borderline criminal, but that might not be the best choice of words at the moment. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Idaho

2. Alabama — With the final scrimmage out of the way, the stage is officially set for the Mother of All Iron Bowls. All that’s on the line for the Tide is the West’s slot in the SEC championship game, a continued inside track to the BCS title game and state bragging rights for another year.  Nothing major.  (Last week: No. 2)
Next up:

Braxton Miller3. Ohio State — Depending on how things play out the next two weekends, there may not have been a bigger winner in Week 13 than the Buckeyes.  OSU, OSU thanks you. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: 

4. Missouri — Of the Tigers’ 10 wins, every single one of them has come by at least 14 points.  Their lone loss was by three points in double overtime to No. 12 South Carolina.  With one more win, Mizzou will achieve something fellow SEC newcomer and media darling Texas A&M hasn’t: a spot in the conference championship game. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up:

5. Oklahoma State — You could stump for Auburn or Clemson or Michigan State in this spot and would hear nary a peep from me.  When a team did what the Cowboys did Saturday night, holding the most prolific offense in college football history to 17 points — Baylor came in averaging just over 61 per game — while scoring 49 of their own, that’s enough for me.  Your mileage, of course, may vary. (Last week: unranked)
Next up:

(Dropped out: No. 4 Baylor)

MY HEISMAN BALLOT
If I actually had a Heisman vote, this is what my ballot would look like if it were submitted after Week 13:

1. Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State
2. Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh
3. Andre Williams, running back, Boston College

(Writer’s note: it was tough leaving off players like Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch, Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, which is why I don’t envy the job the actual voters have.  At all.)

HE SAID IT
“Ask me a different question.” — Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio upon being asked by an ESPN sideline reporter if his Spartans had mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half of their game against Northwestern.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“It’s embarrassing. … It’s all disappointing.” — Will Muschamp following Florida’s laughable home loss to FCS-level Georgia Southern.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“We got punched in the mouth today and it wasn’t fun.” — Johnny Manziel following Texas A&M’s 34-point loss to LSU.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“I’m expecting That Team Up North to bring their A game, and we are certainly going to bring ours. It is going to be an exciting game, my last against them. I’m looking forward to it.” — Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, on The Game next Saturday against Michigan.

PHOTO/GIF OF THE DAY
Lee Corso.  Giant mascot head.  Firearms of multiple calibers.  Firing said firearms and nearly deafening Kirk Herbstreit.  Need I say more?

Lee Corso Firearms

Lee Corso Firearm 2

The only thing keeping this from being the ultimate headgear selection?  Corso dropping a muffled f-bomb on live TV.

SAY WHAT?
Some quick hits, Larry King-style: A pair of ACC schools, Florida State and North Carolina, set school single-game records by scoring 80 points apiece in blowout wins Saturday… Texas A&M’s four SEC losses the past two seasons had come by a combined total of 19 points; the Aggies lost by 24 to LSU Saturday afternoon… Stanford’s 63-13 win over Cal in the Big Game was the most lopsided Cardinal victory ever in the rivalry, surpassing the 41-0 drubbing in 1930…Three of the five double-digit win seasons Michigan State has recorded in its history have come with Mark Dantonio as head coach… Oregon’s 42-16 loss to Arizona was the Ducks’ worst since 2008, a 44-10 loss to USC… Vanderbilt has beaten Tennessee in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1925-26… Baylor has not beaten Oklahoma State in Stillwater since 1939 and has not beaten a ranked team on the road since 1991 (Arkansas)… Illinois snapped its 20-game Big Ten losing streak against Purdue, picking up its first conference win since Oct. 8, 2011… Kansas, which halted its 27-game Big 12 streak last week, extended its road losing streak to 24 with the loss to Iowa State; the Jayhawks haven’t won on the road since beating UTEP in 2009.

TRUE STORY
Bob Stoops recorded his 158th career win to take sole possession of the all-time Oklahoma coaching wins record, surpassing the great Barry Switzer.  The former is in his 15th season (197 games) at OU, while the latter set the original mark during his 16 seasons (190 games) in Norman.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLYBrett Smith

— In a weekend full of stat-stuffing performances, Brett Smith‘s might’ve been the stuffiest.  All the Wyoming quarterback did was pass for 498 yards and run for another 142 in a wild 59-56 win over Hawaii, a staggering total of 640 yards of offense.  And, for good measure, Smith accounted for eight touchdowns: seven passing, one rushing.  The offensive yards and touchdowns, suffice to say, set school records.

Derek Carr passed for 527 yards (his high-water mark is 536, set last year) and set a career-high with seven touchdown passes as Fresno State remained unbeaten with a 41-point win over New Mexico.  It was the 18th time in his career he’s topped 300 yards in a single game and the ninth time he’s gone over 400.

— Three Washington running backs topped 100 yards rushing as the Huskies rushed for 530 yards in the 69-27 romp over reeling Oregon State: Bishop Sankey (23-179-3), Deontae Cooper (11-166-2) and Dwayne Washington (11-141-2).  UW averaged 9.1 yards per run on its 58 carries.

—  Washington State’s Connor Halliday threw for 488 yards and four touchdowns as Wazzu beat Utah 49-37 to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2006.

— North Carolina’s Marquise Williams passed for 409 yards and ran for another 60, setting a school single-game record for most yards of total offense, as the Tar Heels dropped Old Dominion 80-20.  Williams gained just 44 of his 469 yards after the halftime.

Clint Chelf threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns as Oklahoma State upset Baylor and grabbed control of the Big 12 race.  Chelf added a rushing touchdown for good measure as well.

— The first four times Stanford’s Ty Montgomery touched the ball on a play from scrimmage, he scored: three receiving touchdowns and one rushing.  The wide receiver finished the win over Cal with five touchdowns as he added another receiving score.

— Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, another one I could’ve easily added to my Heisman list, ran for 206 yards and four touchdowns as the Wildcats shocked Oregon 42-16.

— Brennan Clay rushed for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma pulled away from Kansas State.  The 200 yards were the most by an OU back since DeMarco Murray‘s 208 yards in September of 2010.  Speaking of the first two quarters of that game…

Tyler Lockett— In the first half alone, Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett had six receptions for 206 yards and three touchdowns.  Those scoring receptions went for 48, 30 and 90 yards as the Sooners busted out the highly-controversial “coverage optional” defense.  Lockett finished the game with 440 all-purpose yards: 278 receiving, 162 on kickoff returns.

— Speaking of first halves, Tajh Boyd tossed five touchdown passes in the first two quarters of Clemson’s scrimmage vs. Citadel.  Boyd played into the third quarter, mainly handing the ball off, of what was the senior’s final home game of his prolific Tigers career.  With 102 touchdown passes for his career, Boyd became the 18th player in NCAA history to reach the century mark and the first player in ACC history to do so.

— Iowa’s game against Michigan set a record for coldest kickoff temperature in the program’s history: 18 degrees, according to the Des Moines Register.  The previous low-temp mark was 23 degrees for a Nov. 20, 1926, game against Northwestern.

— With 440 yards passing and five touchdowns in San Jose State’s triple-overtime loss to Navy, David Fales set school career records for passing yards (Adam Tafralis, 7,548) and touchdowns (Steve Clarkson, 56).  He came into the game needing 154 yards to break the former mark and two touchdowns to break the latter.

Blake Bortles passed for 335 yards as UCF moved one step closer to clinching both the AAC title and the conference’s automatic BCS berth with the Thursday night win over Rutgers.  If the Knights beat USF next Friday, UCF will stake claim to its first BCS bowl regardless of what transpires in the regular-season finale against SMU Dec. 7.

Tim Cornett rushed for a career-high 220 yards as UNLV became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2000 with the win over Air Force.  Cornett’s previous career-high was 179 in a late-September game against New Mexico.

Dri Archer rushed for a season-high 138 yards and three touchdowns — on just 15 carries –in Kent State’s win over Ohio.

—  In winless Miami of Ohio’s loss to Buffalo, Austin Gearing completed 5-of-19 passes for 65 yards, no touchdowns and an interception for a pass efficiency rating of 44.5.

CFT 2017 Preseason Previews: Coaching Hot Seat

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Like death and taxes, another certainty in life is that, somewhere, a college coach’s backside is feeling a little toasty.  Or a lot.

Such is the case as we get set to embark on yet another new college football season, with a handful of coaches feeling the heat from folks off the field for their collective failures on it. Fair or not, it’s a fact of life in the coaching profession: win or you’re gone, ofttimes with a multi-million buyout serving as a very lucrative parachute that provides a cushiony-soft financial landing.

So, just who is possibly looking at a spot in the coaching unemployment line at season’s end, or even sooner in some cases? Recent history suggests that anywhere from 15 to upwards of 25 of the 130 head coaches who are on the FBS sidelines when the season begins won’t be there when the calendar flips to 2018.

Last year around this time, our Hot Seat preview listed six head coaches feeling the heat; just two of them, Charlie Strong and Darrell Hazell, lost their jobs. The year before, though, five of the six on our list received their athletic director’s — or prominent boosters’ — boot.

Below are but a few of the coaches who could be entering a make-or-break season at their respective schools, in order from hottest to slightly less hot. And leading off? The man who was on our hottest seat nearly a year ago.

KEVIN SUMLIN, TEXAS A&M
2016 RECORD: 8-5 overall, 4-4 in SEC
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 44-21, 21-19
“Coach knows he has to win and he has to win this year. We have to do better than we’ve done in the past.”

Those were the no-gray-area-here words of A&M athletic director Scott Woodward in late May of this year. When your boss very publicly puts you on notice that you have to win now or else, and you coach in the hyper-competitive SEC, you deserve the top spot on any coaching hot seat list.

In 2012, the first season for both Sumlin in College Station and the Aggies in the SEC, A&M went 11-2 overall and 6-2 in conference play. Since then, they’ve gone a middling 33-19 and, more importantly, just 15-17 in the league. More to the point, the Aggies have finished fourth, sixth, fifth and fourth the past four seasons in the even-more hyper-competitive SEC West. An even finer point? They are 9-15 against divisional foes in the same span.

Given that track record, and the AD’s public pronouncement, there’s really not much else to say.

RICH RODRIGUEZ, ARIZONA
2016 RECORD: 3-9 overall, 1-8 in Pac-12
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 36-29, 18-26
In 2014, Rodriguez was the toast of the Pac-12, or close to it. After a 10-3 regular season that saw the Wildcats win the South Division, that record earned them a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl the first season of the College Football Playoffs.

After 2014? He might be toast if he has another year like his last.

In 2016, the Wildcats (seemingly) bottomed out in going 3-9, the program’s worst winning percentage since 2003. It was just the second time 60 years the team finished the season with a winning percentage of .250 or less. Even more distressing, just one of their wins came in conference play a mere two years removed from playing for the league championship.

Anything close to a repeat of the 2016 season will very likely end with RichRod not seeing the 2018 season on the sidelines in the desert.

BRIAN KELLY, NOTRE DAME
2016 RECORD: 4-8
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 59-31
Where to start? Last season’s 4-8 record was the Fighting Irish’s worst since Charlie Weis went 3-9 in 2007. And it wasn’t just the record on the field as Kelly — by force on one and by a departure for the other — changed out both coordinators for good measure, not long after throwing his players under the bus for lacking “fire and grit.”

Kelly’s boss, Jack Swarbrick, gave his head football coach a vote of confidence in October… leading Kelly to express his disappointment over the athletic director having to publicly endorse his continuing employment.

Weis got two more seasons after that three-win year, ultimately getting canned after back-to-back six-loss seasons. At bare minimum, Kelly will need to get the Irish to seven or so wins for Swarbrick to justify bringing him back for an eighth season in South Bend.

TODD GRAHAM, ARIZONA STATE
2016 RECORD: 5-7 overall, 2-7 in Pac-12
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 39-26, 25-20
Like Sumlin, Graham was on the receiving end of an offseason message from his boss regarding his standing with the university.

In June, Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson revealed that he would not be extending Graham’s contract out another season. Every year that Graham had been at ASU previously, he’s received a one-year contract extension that kept him with five years left on his contract.

In his first three seasons with the Sun Devils, Graham guided ASU to a combined record of 28-12, a total that included a pair of bowl wins as well as a Pac-12 South title in 2013. The 10 wins in 2013 and 2014 was the first time the program had done that in back-to-back seasons since a four-year stretch from 1970-73.

However, a 6-7 2015 season gave way to a 5-7 2016 mark that led to talk of Graham possibly entering the 2017 season on the hot seat. With the decision to eschew the annual contract extension, feel free to remove the word “possibly” from the previous sentence.

GUS MALZAHN, AUBURN
2016 RECORD: 8-5 overall, 5-3 in SEC
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 35-18, 18-14
I very nearly went with another SEC coach, Tennessee’s Butch Jones, before deciding to include the second alum from the 2016 Coaching Hot Seat list.

A loss in the national championship game in Malzahn’s first season in 2013 raised the bar, perhaps too high given the fact that AU’s hated in-state rival, Alabama, has qualified for the first three editions of the College Football Playoff in running roughshod over and through the conference. There are also three-straight double-digit losses to the Crimson Tide machine in the Iron Bowl for the Tigers.

Meanwhile, during Nick Saban‘s continued run of dominance, Malzahn has watched as his Tigers have plateaued in the neighborhood of seven or eight wins the past three seasons. That’s not exactly slumming it, but it’s far from the uber-rich estate on which the Crimson Tide currently resides.

Right or wrong, Malzahn’s fate is likely very much intertwined with Alabama — and whether or not the perception is that he has, or even can, close the gap with the college football monolith that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. At all.

DOC HOLLIDAY, MARSHALL
2016 RECORD: 3-9 overall, 2-6 in Conference USA
OVERALL RECORD AT SCHOOL: 53-37, 35-21
West Virginia’s new governor, Democrat-turned-Republican Jim Justice, has reportedly spent at least a portion of his first term in office attempting to oust Holliday and replace him with Justice’s buddy Bobby Pruett. When the sitting governor, an alum of the university no less, is pushing to have you removed, you’re automatically placed on the hot seat, right?

The 2016 season did no favors for the coach entering his eighth season in Huntington as the Thundering Herd went 3-9. It was easily the worst season of Holliday’s tenure — they went 5-7 in both 2010, his first season, and 2012 — and the program’s worst since hitting the same mark in 2007.

The three years prior to 2016, however, saw the Herd win 10 or more games in back-to-back-to-back seasons. In 2014, they tied a school record with 13 wins, and won their first-ever Conference USA championship and first conference title overall since claiming the MAC in 2002.

So, was last season just a fluke? Whether it was or the portending of a continuing downward spiral will likely determine whether Holliday survives. Well, that and the state’s governor’s whims.

Reports: Ex-Clemson, Florida OL Jake Fruhmorgen transfers to Baylor

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This a slightly unexpected turn of events.

In late-June of this year, Florida announced that Jake Fruhmorgen, a transfer from Clemson, had officially joined the Gators. Four days later, it was reported that Fruhmorgen had decided to step away from football, at least in Gainesville.

Nearly seven weeks later, he’s reportedly stepped back in as both TigerNet.com and SicEm360.com are reporting that Fruhmorgen has enrolled at Baylor and will continue his collegiate football playing career with the Bears. The latter website noted that the lineman is scheduled to arrive in Waco at some point Thursday.

Fruhmorgen will have to sit out the 2017 season, but will then have two years of eligibility he can use, presumably at BU.

Fruhmorgen didn’t play another game for Clemson last season after suffering a shoulder injury in late October. While the injury kept him out of a couple of games, he missed the latter quarter of the regular season, as well as the postseason, dealing with unspecified personal issues that kept him away from the team. He decided to transfer from the Tigers in mid-January.

Prior to all of that, the true sophomore had started the first eight games of the 2016 season at right tackle.

A four-star 2015 signee, Fruhmorgen was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida. As a true freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound lineman played in 11 games, starting one of those contests.

Day after leaving TCU, Isaiah Chambers transfers to Houston

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Because of a family situation, Isaiah Chambers announced on Twitter Tuesday that he would be transferring from TCU in order to be closer to home. Less than 24 hours later, the defensive lineman, a native of Houston, did just that as he took to the same social media website to announce the Houston Cougars as his new college football home.

Chambers’ mother passed away when he was in eighth grade and his dad isn’t involved in his life, with his aunt, his legal guardian, raising him after his mom’s passing. His aunt “is currently sick and her condition is getting worse” according to Chambers, which was the trigger for his decision to transfer.

Normally, Chambers would have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. Given the situation with his aunt/legal guardian, it’ll be interesting to see if UH pursues an expedited waiver that would give him immediate eligibility.

If no waiver is sought and/or granted, Chambers would have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Chambers was a four-star member of the Horned Frogs’ 2016 recruiting class. He was rated as the No. 7 strongside defensive end in the country; the No. 23 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 136 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Only one player in TCU’s class that year was rated higher than Chambers.

As a true freshman last season, Chambers took a redshirt. He had been expected to play a role in TCU’s defensive line rotation this season prior to the transfer.

CFT 2017 Preseason Previews: College Football Players to Fall in Love With

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A new college football season is nearing, and it will feature some terrific playmakers you should be well aware of. Odds are you are familiar with some of the players you should know, but now is a good a time as any to introduce the experienced and the brand new fans of college football to some of the top players to keep you entertained in 2017. You will have a blast watching these players do their thing this season and you will want to watch every game they play for the chance to witness greatness.

Without any further adieu, here are the players that will keep you most entertained this fall.

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
In a season that has a number of good running backs around the country, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley may be the best there is. Penn State’s offense may be the best in the Big Ten, and Barkley is one of the reasons why. Barkley has shined in big games for the Nittany Lions the past two seasons, including in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin and Rose Bowl against USC, and he will have his opportunities to lead Penn State to some big wins this season with his moves.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Leonard Fournette
may have been the star attraction out of LSU’s backfield the past few years, but Derrius Guice made a name for himself last season as one of the top running backs in the SEC. Now, Guice steps into the leading role without any question and he should be the main cog in LSU’s offense this fall while the Tigers try to get a passing game figured out.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Keeping with the running back theme (and there are a number of others that could have been mentioned), we stay in the SEC to remind you that Georgia still has Nick Chubb ready to carry the ball. Chubb should be a key player in Georgia’s season, even though he will be splitting running calls with Sony Michel. But Chubb’s ability to burst through the line and get downfield with authority will be an essential ingredient to Georgia’s offensive game plan.

Derwin James, S, Florida State
Some will argue Florida State’s best player may actually be the best player in the nation. Derwin James is ready to make plays on every snap, and after missing the bulk of the 2016 season due to a knee surgery, James is ready to make up for some lost time. Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles will have James lining up all over the field, and he will be a key player in the highly-anticipated Week 1 matchup with Alabama.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Ed Oliver’s recruiting to Houston took the recruiting world by storm, and he has had quite the impact in his young career at Houston. Expect more of the big man to destroy the line of scrimmage this fall. Oliver would be a beast to contain in any conference, but do not look past his performance in the AAC this fall. Oliver will continue to show just how much fun watching a defensive tackle can be this fall.

Quinton Flowers, QB, USF
If there was one thing Charlie Strong really needed to be successful at Texas, it was his Longhorn version of Teddy Bridgewater. Now at USF, Strong has his quarterback in Quinton Flowers. Flowers is among the top players from the Group of Five and will give the Bulls as good a chance as any to not only win the AAC, but also guide the Bulls to a New Years Six bowl game.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Louisville’s quarterback may have won the Heisman Trophy last season, but a brutal finish to the season has left the reigning Heisman Trophy winner laying in the shadows this offseason it seems. Expect that love affair with the dynamic quarterback to be rekindled quickly as Jackson looks to pile up big numbers to start the season once more to remind us all why he captured the nation a year ago. History may be against Jackson’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy again this season, but do not be surprised if he manages to return to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Honorable mentions: Sam Darnold (QB, USC), Justin Jackson (RB, Northwestern), Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma), Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State), Mike Weber (RB, Ohio State), J.T. Barrett (QB, Ohio State), Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA), Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon), Jordan Whitehead (S, Pittsburgh), Da’Shawn Hand (DE, Alabama), Myles Gaskin (RB, Washington)