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BCS on the line for Clemson but South Carolina hoping for SEC title shot

Jadeveon Clowney, Talh Boyd AP

Clemson has lost four straight games to South Carolina. It is the longest streak without a win against their in-state rivals since going 0-5-1 between 1949 and 1954. It has not been pretty at times during this more recent skid for the Tigers. Clemson has been held to fewer than 20 points in each of the four losses to the Gamecocks and each has loss has come by double digits. This weekend No. 6 Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC) hopes to bring an end to this streak of futility against their rivals from the SEC, scoring a major win for the ACC in the process while also boosting the BCS profile. No. 10 South Carolina (9-2, 6-2 SEC) is also sniffing around for a BCS spot but could have other things in mind Saturday night when they take the field.

If Clemson is going to pick up a win to improve to 12-1 on the season, they will need Tajh Boyd to have a good game. The senior has thrown for 3,248 yards, 29 touchdowns and has been intercepted seven times. He remains one of the top players in the sport at his position but most casual fans will remember are the losses. The stain from an Orange Bowl blowout at the hands of West Virginia two years ago were beginning to fade this season but then Florida State rolled in to Death Valley and decimated Boyd and the Tigers. Boyd completed 17 of 37 passes for a season-low 156 yards and one touchdown while being intercepted twice. Boyd will once again be thrown under  a microscope against South Carolina, a team he has struggled against each of the past three seasons.

In three career games against the Gamecocks, Boyd has completed 32 of 71 attempts (45.0 completion percentage, just one game with more than half of his attempts completed n 2010) for 339 yards (113 passing yards per game), two touchdowns and three interceptions. Is Boyd afraid of South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney? Well, no, but the Gamecocks have held all the tools needed to disrupt a player like Boyd and limit the production of the supporting cast from Clemson. That includes Sammy Watkins, who has been a virtual non-factor in each of the last two meetings (combining for 76 receiving yards). Clemson has the offensive firepower to overcome some of the trends of the past few meetings, but South Carolina could easily have the same sort of defensive success Florida State enjoyed against the Tigers earlier this season.

But do the Gamecocks have the offensive weaponry to blow this one wide open? The answer is both yes and no. South Carolina can take control of this game with their offense. Connor Shaw has been a rock all year long for the Gamecocks. In 11 games this year Shaw has completed 20 touchdown passes to just one interception. He is not likely to make mistakes and that will be key against Clemson. Having Mike Davis, the SEC’s leading rusher, back in the fold will always help as well. Davis had been banged up recently but is getting back on track. Davis will enter the weekend with 1,112 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

One of the biggest problems for Clemson when facing South Carolina has been holding on to the football. The Tigers have had six turnovers in the past three games, while the Gamecocks have lost just one turnover in that span. This season Clemson has a turnover margin of +10, which is on track to be the best margin since having a +13 in 2007.

While South Carolina is battling Clemson for in-state bragging rights for the next year, the focus of fans may be  split between what is happening right in front of them and another game taking place roughly 870 miles away in another Columbia. In Columbia, Missouri, about 45 minutes after the Gamecocks and Tigers kick off, the Missouri Tigers will be taking on Texas A&M. If Missouri should win that game the Tigers will move on to face either Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship Game next week. However, if Texas A&M can go on the road and defeat Missouri, then it will be South Carolina making reservations for the SEC Championship game as the top team in the SEC East. To put it simply, it could be a wild night in Columbia, South Carolina.

If Missouri does win, a South Carolina win will keep the Gamecocks in the running for a BCS at-large invite. The same can be said for Clemson as well. The Tigers have already been locked out of the ACC Championship Game with Florida State making a run for the BCS championship game by way of a stop in Charlotte but a win by Clemson would make them a very attractive back-up option out of the ACC for a BCS bowl.

If you have not figured it out yet, there is a lot on the line in this year’s rivalry game between Clemson and South Carolina.

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Photo: Michigan giving away two free tickets to Minnesota game (with purchase of Coke products!)

Brady Hoke

You know it’s bad when the student newspaper is printing headlines like “Clock’s Ticking, Brady.” But perhaps the most accurate depiction of where Michigan football sits under Brady Hoke is this picture being passed around social media on Monday.

The Wolverines have drawn more than 100,000 to the Big House for 254 consecutive games – a streak the maize and blue protects more ferociously than a mother cougar guards its young. And with enthusiasm and confidence in the program sinking to Rich Rod-era lows (or worse?), Michigan brass has apparently decided to link up with Coca-Cola in hopes of filling Michigan Stadium.

Of course, by counting season ticket holders, media members, peanut vendors, janitors and anyone else who happens to wander inside the gates, Michigan will announce more than 100,000 no matter how many bleachers go untouched.

With Hoke waiting until Tuesday to make a decision on Saturday’s starter, it’s apparent now he needs to make the right decision. He needs to beat Minnesota.

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Despite report of immediate eligibility, OU QB Mayfield remains in college football purgatory

Baker Mayfield

There was a report Monday from KWTV-TV sports director Dean Blevins that Oklahoma transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s appeal to the NCAA has been granted, giving the former Texas Tech gunslinger the chance to play immediately.

“Baker Mayfield finally caught a break. And so did the Oklahoma Sooners,” Blevins reported. “The talented Texas Tech transfer won his appeal with the NCAA and has been granted a third year of eligibility. He is thus is immediately eligible to play for the No. 4/No. 3-ranked Sooners.”

But it’s not that simple, reports Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman. Nothing is inside the jungle that is NCAA eligibility.

According to Aber, Mayfield’s status has been something of a collective bargaining discussion between Oklahoma, Texas Tech and the Big 12. Big 12 rules require players lose a year of eligibility for intra-conference transfers.

Even if Mayfield does not play this season, there is the possibility of Mayfield keeping his extra year of eligibility in exchange for sitting out 2014. “Sources close to the situation said there have been discussions between OU, Texas Tech and the Big 12 about the possibility of Mayfield retaining a year of eligibility if he doesn’t play this season,” Aber writes.

Mayfield met with the NCAA on Friday and, citing sources close to the quarterback, Aber writes that Oklahoma may at least win the right to put Mayfield on scholarship retroactive to the beginning of the fall semester.

Texas Tech has denied Mayfield’s transfer, and maintained that stance ever since the move was announced in December.

As a true freshman in 2013, Mayfield paid for the privilege of tossing a dozen touchdowns and 218 completions for 2,315 yards in eight games.

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Virginia K Ian Frye went 4-for-4 while his dad suffered heart attack in the stands

Ian Frye, Rob Burns, Zachary Swanson

Virginia kicker Ian Frye made all seven of his kicks Saturday, three extra points and field goals from 23, 41, 22 and 46 yards, during the Cavaliers’ 41-33 loss at No. 20 BYU on Saturday. Turns out, his day was much more impressive than any of us realized.

In a story that was told during the team’s Monday press conference and relayed over the Cavs’ official Twitter account, Frye’s father Mark suffered a heart attack inside the LaVell Edwards Stadium during the game.

Frye was notified while coming off the field for halftime – moments after he knocked in a 22-yarder to give Virginia a 16-13 lead – and was notified of the situation. Outside the locker room, Frye witnessed his father, clearly in pain, and being attended to by paramedics.

Frye checked on his father multiple times throughout the break, but remained with the team at Mark’s insistence. While receiving updates throughout the second half, Frye only informed three of his teammates, fellow kickers Dylan Sims and Alec Vozelinik and long snapper Tyler Shirley. Despite that weighing heavily on his mind, Frye knocked in a 46-yard field goal to keep Virginia within 27-19, and extra points to pull the Cavs within 34-26 and 41-33. Following the game, Frye was shuttled to the hospital, where he discovered his father, recovering from surgery and watching college football.

Frye was very complimentary of the BYU staff, especially athletics director Tom Holmoe, who visited Mark at the hospital and even brought him food.

Thankfully, with dad Mark’s health secure, the story can end on a happy note that brings everything full circle.

Considering the circumstances, I would say Frye certainly deserves it.

(Helmet sticker to Vanquish the Foe)

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Vols dismiss freshman RB Treyvon Paulk after domestic incident

KNOXVILLE, TN - Football Headshots

Somewhat abruptly, Tennessee’s present and future depth at the running back position has taken a bit of a hit.

According to Wes Rucker of GoVols247.com, head coach Butch Jones announced Monday afternoon that true freshman Treyvon Paulk has been summarily dismissed from the football team.  The dismissal was triggered by what Jones described as a “personal conduct” issue.

While Jones refused to elaborate on what led to the dismissal, it appears it was triggered by a rather significant off-field incident.  From Rucker’s post on the dismissal:

Paulk… struck his ex-girlfriend at a party over the weekend, according to a release from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Paulk “became agitated and struck her in the mouth with his fist” at the party, according to the KCSO release, which cited the incident report.

Paulk’s girlfriend — noted in the report as 18-year-old Chelsea Reece — had multiple cuts to her lips but refused medical assistance, according to the report.

The alleged victim declined to press charges.

Paulk was a three-star member of the Vols’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 12 all-purpose running back in the country and the No. 37 player at any position in the state of Georgia.  He didn’t play in any games this season as he continues recovering from a torn ACL he sustained his senior year of high school.

(Photo credit: Tennessee athletics)

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‘Miscommunication’ led to Jameis Winston dressing for Clemson game

Clemson v Florida State Getty Images

Jameis Winston was highly criticized in numerous corners, including here, for an “incident” over the weekend.

The Florida State quarterback was suspended for the Clemson game because of a vulgar and obscene incident earlier in the week. Winston dressed out in full football gear for pregame warmups, much to the chagrin of an incredulous Jimbo Fisher, who sent his starting quarterback to the locker room to change into street clothes.

Monday, Fisher was asked about the situation. In falling on the sword, the head coach took the blame for what he called the “miscommunication” that led to the brouhaha.

“That was a miscommunication between us and the locker room,” the head coach said Monday. “He was scheduled to dress the next day and the stuff was in the locker. He assumed he was going to dress in warmups and he went out. It got miscommunicated from our part. We should have never had (his uniform) in the locker. We saw it, corrected it. He was great about it. He went in and came back out.

“That was one part that slipped through the cracks getting that communication to the equipment people.”

That said, Fisher continued taking Winston for his decision-making and judgments that have led to situations like the one that got him suspended in the first place.

“He’s got to be smarter about these decisions and the things he says and does,” Fisher said. “You can have fun but you can’t do it at the expense of others or circumstance or situations. There’s an example and a respect you have to have for your organization and your family.

“Jameis is not a bad individual. He makes some poor choices on spontaneous situations to make people laugh. He does like interacting with students (to show) that he’s not a guy that can’t relate with (the students because he’s a high-profile athlete). He needs to continue to do that but he needs to do it with better judgment.”

Winston was replaced by Sean Maguire for the Clemson game, with the first-time starter helping the Seminoles pull off the overtime win.  In the first extended action of his career, Maguire completed 21-of-39 passes for 304 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.  The redshirt sophomore’s scoring toss was a 74-yarder to Rashad Greene with 6:04 remaining in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 17-all and essentially forced overtime.

As expected, though, Winston will be back under center for this Saturday’s game against North Carolina State after serving his one-game penance.

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Three suspended Texas starters will remain that way

Daje Johnson AP

For those Texas fans looking for some offensive help to return this week, and as it looks to continue its run to the College Football Playoff, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer.

At his weekly Monday press conference, head coach Charlie Strong confirmed that any player who is currently suspended will remain that way.  That means wide receiver Daje Johnson as well as offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle will not play in Saturday’s game against Kansas.

Harrison and Johnson were two of three Longhorn players — the other safety Josh Turnersuspended indefinitely in early August by Strong for violating unspecified team rules.

Turner has since dug his way out of Strong’s doghouse, while Estelle, Harrison and Johnson have yet to play in a game this year.

Getting Johnson back would certainly help the Longhorns’ offense — provided he stayed on the straight and narrow, which has proved to be elusive during his time in Austin.

Last year, Johnson missed two different late-season games because of off-field issues. He and teammate Chet Moss were suspended for the Thanksgiving gameagainst Texas Tech, then he was declared academically ineligible for the Alamo Bowl against Oregon.

When healthy — and staying out of trouble — Johnson totaled 757 all-purpose yards in 2013 and started six games in 2013. Johnson scored three touchdowns — one each rushing, receiving and on a punt return — along with being one of the team’s top return specialists.

An ankle injury cost Johnson playing time early last season as well.

Estelle and Kennedy were the projected starters at both tackle positions prior whatever issue it was that led to their suspensions.

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Beavers lose leading receiver for at least a game

Oregon State v Hawaii

Thanks to an injury, Oregon State’s receiving corps will be missing a key component for the Pac-12 opener this coming weekend.

Sunday night, head coach Mike Riley revealed that Victor Bolden will be out for a period of 10-14 days with a finger injury.  Bolden suffered the injury in the first half of the win over San Diego State last Saturday night.

The timeline means the receiver will definitely be sidelined for the USC game this Saturday.  He could also miss the Colorado game the following weekend as well.

The injury news is a significant blow to the Beavers’ offense.

Bolden currently leads the team with 18 for 192 yards.  Because of Bolden’s injury, The Oregonian writes, “OSU coaches are considering burning true freshman Xavier Hawkins‘ redshirt.”

Bolden’s backup, Rahmel Dockery, suffered a hip injury in the same game but is expected to practice this week and, barring a setback, play against the Trojans. Dockery has one catch for 49 yards this season.

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QB decision coming Tuesday for Michigan

Michigan v Connecticut Getty Images

Will Michigan have a new starter under center when it takes the field this weekend?  In 24 hours or so, UM Nation should know for sure.

Tuesday, head coach Brady Hoke said Monday, he and his offensive coaching staff will decide whether Devin Gardner, the incumbent, or Shane Morris, the people’s choice, will start Saturday’s game against Minnesota.  Gardner was yanked in the fourth quarter of the 26-10 home loss to Utah in favor of Morris, laying the groundwork for this development.

Gardner has been a lightning rod for criticism for the past year and a half, with his play on the field giving critics plenty of ammunition.

In 16 starts the past two seasons, Gardner has thrown 17 interceptions versus just 26 touchdown passes.  He’s also been sacked a whopping 43 times, and while that’s a byproduct of a porous offensive line it’s also an indicator that Gardner struggles in the pocket with his reads and progressions and the like.

Gardner started every game last season before a foot injury he suffered in the loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale sidelined him for the Wolverines’ bowl game.  In his first career start, and as a true freshman no less, Morris completed 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards and an interception as UM dropped a 31-14 decision to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

While Gardner was at one time quoted as saying that “it was amazing how much better [quarterback competition this spring] made me,” the incumbent at the position –despite his pre-spring proclamation— exited the 15 practice sessions without a firm grasp on the starting job.  That thought was buttressed as, at the end of spring practice in mid-April, Hoke acknowledged that Morris had narrowed the gap on Gardner.

While Gardner ultimately “won” the starting job, he’s had a tenuous hold on it as he’s thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five) through four games.

As for how Round 2 of the competition will be decided?

Efficiency, that’s part of it,” Hoke said when asked what will go into the decision-making process. “Competing and challenging. Who comes out of the week with the best practices and who gives us the best chance to go in and win the football game.

“There’s also the leadership end of it, too. Who commands the offense (better)? And they’ve both done a really good job all year with that, I don’t expect any of that to change.”

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Tyrone Swoopes expects Texas to make playoffs… this year

UCLA v Texas Getty Images

Charlie Strong raised some eyebrows earlier this year when he stated the obvious by saying that Texas “will not be in the national championship game” this year.

That made sense on multiple levels, including the fact that the Longhorns have a 30-21 record over the last four years and simply don’t have the talent yet to compete with the game’s heavyweights. Don’t, though, tell that to UT’s starting quarterback.

Despite the 1-2 start to the season that includes a 37-point blowout loss at home to BYU, Tyrone Swoopes maintains very, very lofty goals for the Longhorns in 2014. A goal that most, even those wearing burnt orange-colored glasses, would find irrational and downright laughable.

OK then.  Are we sure the right Texas quarterback retired from the game because of concussion issues?

Either Swoopes doesn’t understand how the new system of determining a national champion or how many teams are involved, or he’s transferring because there is no way in hell UT is qualifying for this year’s College Football Playoff. Well, I guess there’s a chance the Longhorns could run the table on the remainder of their schedule, which includes Top 10-ranked Oklahoma and Baylor, and Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, Auburn, Texas A&M, etc. could all stumble twice each, clearing the way for Swoopes to make a liar out of Strong’s preseason proclamation… sorry, couldn’t finish typing that sentence with a straight face.

It’s one thing to be confidant in yourself and your teammates; it’s another to turn a blind eye to the reality of your situation. Or, as Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News put it…

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Surgeries on both shoulders ends UCLA’s Randall Goforth’s season

UCLA v Virginia

One of the top returning members of UCLA’s defense has seen his season come to a premature end.

According to the Los Angeles Times, safety Randall Goforth will undergo surgeries on both of his shoulders, with the first procedure expected to be performed at some point this week.  Because of the twin surgeries, Goforth will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

Goforth had separated his left shoulder during summer camp but returned for the opener.  In Week 2, he separated his right shoulder against Memphis.

Not only will Goforth miss the remainder of the 2014 season, it appears likely he’ll be unavailable for spring practice as well.  The Bruins, for what it’s worth, have yet to officially announce the player’s status moving forward, although head coach Jim Mora hinted recently this could be the case.

The good news is that Goforth will be eligible for a medical hardship waiver.  A successful appeal would leave the junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

Goforth started all 13 games in 2013, finishing second on the team with three interceptions and fourth with 78 tackles.  In the opener against Virginia this year, he returned a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown as one of three second-quarter defensive scores for the Bruins.

He started five games as a true freshman in 2012.

With Goforth sidelined for the remainder of the year, it’s expected sophomore Tahaan Goodman will remain the starter at safety.

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Urban Meyer opens up about time at Florida: ‘Mentally, I was broke’

Florida v Alabama Getty Images

Urban Meyer coached Florida to two BCS title games in his six years at Florida and amassed a 65-15 record, but did so at a cost.

The now-Ohio State coach opened up to HBO Real Sports’ Andrea Kramer about the stress that came with his dedication to winning, which ultimately led to chest pains and him losing 37 pounds during the 2009 season. He said he had to take two Ambien and drink a beer to fall asleep, too.

The full interview will air Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO. Below is a preview:

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Louisville will wear some interesting uniforms vs. Florida State

Miami v Louisville Getty Images

Everybody prepare your #HotUniformTakes, since Louisville has a bold/controversial/awesome/ugly new design for its Oct. 30 home game against Florida State.

The Thursday night game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium already had all the makings of a trap for the Seminoles. Florida State will come off a bye week, and also could be coming off an Oct. 18 home win over a Notre Dame team that very well may head to Tallahassee at 6-0. The first College Football Playoff poll comes out Oct. 28 and you’d figure the stadium will have a rowdy atmosphere the day before Halloween.

Now add these uniforms to the mix, and maybe they’ll somehow give Louisville a bit of a boost, too:

It’s worth noting recruits love these bold uniform designs and so do current players, too. So with that in mind…what do you think of this look?

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The Orange Bowl has a new sponsor

MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic Getty Images

The Orange Bowl will be known as the Capital One Orange Bowl for the next six years.

On Monday morning — 100 days before kickoff of the Dec. 31, 2014 game — the Orange Bowl announced its new title sponsor, replacing a four-year deal with Discover. The Orange Bowl was first sponsored by FedEx, a deal which ran from 1989-2010.

The New Year’s Six bowl’s new logo:

The newly-minted Capital One Orange Bowl will host a College Football Playoff game in 2015 and 2018.

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Injuries to starting DT, reserve linebacker add to Virginia Tech’s tailspin

North Carolina v Virginia Tech Getty Images

Virginia Tech had some injury lopped on to insult: defensive tackle Luther Maddy and linebacker Dahman McKinnon will each undergo surgery for meniscus injuries and miss two to four weeks, the school announced Monday morning.

Maddy is the biggest loss for now, as the senior started all four games for the Hokies and tallied nine tackles. He actually tore his meniscus in Virginia Tech’s 28-21 loss to East Carolina Sept. 13, per the Roanoke Times’ Andy Bitter, but attempted to play through the injury as the Hokies fell to Georgia Tech, 27-24, on Saturday. As a general rule of thumb, it’s never a good idea to try to play through a knee injury against a cut-blocking triple option team.

McKinnon, a redshirt sophomore, appeared in three games this year and made one tackle.

Virginia Tech should have a good chance to right the ship this weekend against Western Michigan before beginning a critical three-game stretch against ACC coastal opponents North Carolina, Pitt and Miami. The two-to-four week timetable for Maddy and McKinnon could mean Frank Beamer could have them back for the Pitt game, which comes after a bye week and will be played Thursday, Oct. 16 at Heinz Field.

Additionally, freshman offensive lineman Colt Pettit will undergo season-ending surgery. The Deshler, Ohio native came to Virginia Tech as a three-star recruit.

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Maryland loses DE Quinton Jefferson for the season

Wake Forest v Maryland

As good as Saturday was for the Maryland Fighting Edsalls, defeating ever-so-brief ACC rival Syracuse, 34-20, it’s been an equally bad Sunday for the program.

The Terps already suffered the loss of tight end Andrew Isaacs for the year, and now they’ve lost Quinton Jefferson. The junior will undergo season-ending surgery after injuring his knee in last week’s loss to West Virginia, head coach Randy Edsall confirmed on Sunday.

Jefferson recorded eight tackles and a sack this season, and posted 47 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and three sacks as a sophomore in 2013.

Senior Keith Bowers started in Jefferson’s place during Maryland’s defeat of Syracuse and registered three tackles.

Maryland (3-1) begins life in the Big Ten Saturday at Indiana.

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