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South Carolina beats Clemson for fifth-straight time

Connor Shaw, AP

Whatever chance No. 6 Clemson had of making an at-large BCS bowl was probably ended tonight as in-state nemesis No. 10 South Carolina beat the Tigers for the fifth-straight time, 31-17, in Columbia.

With the win, the Gamecocks improved to 10-2 while Clemson fell to 10-2. South Carolina’s regular season is now over as Missouri’s victory over Texas A&M gives the Tigers the SEC East title.

As has usually been the case with South Carolina this year, Connor Shaw was The Man. The senior quarterback continued his fine season, throwing for 152 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 94 yards and a score. The Gamecocks didn’t gain a lot of yards — just 318 in all — but they took advantage of Tiger turnovers to win in solid fashion.

For Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, it was a rough ending to a fine career. He finished with 225 yards passing and rushed for one touchdown but he threw two fourth quarter interceptions that squelched any chance the Tigers had of coming back.

Can Clemson ever get over the hump? The Boyd Era was a very successful one, with three 10-win seasons, but until Dabo Swinney figures out how to beat South Carolina, the program will be seen as going sideways rather than progressing.

As for South Carolina, it can get to three-straight 11-win seasons with a victory in its bowl game, the first time that has happened in school history.

 

 

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Seeing writing on QB wall, SDSU’s Nick Bawden shifting to FB

Bawden

After the first couple of spring practice earlier this year, Nick Bawden was third in San Diego State’s quarterback pecking order.  Exiting spring, he was at least fourth.

Now, as the Aztecs are about to embark on the start of summer camp, Bawden is off the quarterback depth chart completely.

Head coach Rocky Long confirmed to the San Diego Union-Tribune that, following the conclusion of spring practice, he gave Bawden a choice: switch positions or transfer somewhere else if he wanted to continue playing quarterback.  The 6-3, 220-pound Bawden decided to take one for his current team and agreed to move to fullback/H-back moving forward.

While Long’s not really certain about the fullback part of the equation, he praised Bawden for his selflessness in making the move.

“There are very few of those guys left,” Long told the Union-Tribune. “You appreciate those guys. I don’t know if he can play fullback. He’s a good athlete; he weighs 230 (officially, 220) pounds. Just the attitude … ‘I want to be on this team. Tell me where I can play and I’ll do the best I can.’ That’s great stuff.”

Bawden began the spring behind Kentucky graduate transfer Maxwell Smith and Oregon transfer Jake Rodrigues. He left behind those two as well freshman Christian Chapman.

As a true freshman last season, Bawden started two games in place of the injured Quinn Kaehler.  In those two games — one win, one loss — he completed 13 of 37 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  He also ran the ball 11 times for 43 yards.

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UCF wants DB recovering from gunshot wounds to sit this season

Tulsa v Central Florida

If George O’Leary gets his way, Chris Williams won’t see the playing field this coming season.

Earlier this month, Williams was shot twice the arm at a bar near the UF campus.  While the injuries weren’t life-threatening, the recovery time is sufficient that O’Leary wants to see the defensive back sit this one out — athletically and academically — instead of missing a month or more of the 2015 season.

“With that injury alone, [it] was a eight- to-10 week injury, so I would say, again, I’m leaning more toward medical withdrawal to stop his eligibility so he doesn’t have this year count and bring him back in January,” O’Leary said regarding Williams’ status. “The police are involved with what took place there, so it’s really their response, not mine as far as what transpired.”

Williams spent last season as a member of UCF’s scout team, using a redshirt year as a true freshman. In UCF’s spring game, Williams recorded 10 tackles and an interception, which was returned for 52 yards. Based on that performance, and the fact that the Knights are replacing all four secondary starters, Williams was being looked upon a likely starter.

Additionally, O’Leary acknowledged that wide receiver Taylor Oldham likely won’t return until October after sustaining a significant ankle injury during the spring. Oldham caught three passes for 35 yards as a redshirt sophomore in 2014, but, like Williams, was expected to be more of a contributor due to attrition at the position.

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Dismissed Auburn DE Elijah Daniel won’t play for Bo Pelini after all

South Carolina v Auburn

Back in mid-June, it was reported with 100-percent certainty that Elijah Daniel would be continuing his collegiate playing career for Bo Pelini at Youngstown State.  Monday, the first-year YSU coached said the odds of Daniel playing for the Penguins were “50-50.”

One day later, those odds were “0-100.”

Murray State announced in a press release that Daniel will attempt to revive his career Mitch Stewart‘s squad.  Because the Racers play at the FCS level, the defensive lineman will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 and have two years of eligibility remaining.

Daniel was dismissed by Auburn in early may following his late-April arrest on four counts each of theft of property and four counts of burglary.  One of the victims of the alleged crimes is current AU wide receiver Stanton Truitt.

According to Stewart, he’s being given his one and only chance with the program.

“I believe in second chances and last chances,” Stewart’s statement began. “I have told Elijah that we are willing to give him this opportunity, because I believe, large or small, everyone makes mistakes and most people are deserving of a second chance.

“But I also made it clear to him, that this is his last chance and that any further incidents like the one at Auburn would be met with an immediate dismissal from the team.”

Last season, Daniel played in all 13 games for the Tigers, making two starts.  His 17 quarterback hurries led the team.

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Mike Leach continues stumping for 64-team playoff

Mike Leach

Along with eccentric, Mike Leach is nothing if not consistent.

Even before a four-team playoff was approved in June of 2012 and implemented for the 2014 season, Leach was espousing the virtues of a 64-team playoff field, labeling such a size as “ideal.”  As part of the Pac-12 coaches turn through the ESPN car wash Wednesday, Leach stated, as he has one more than one occasion, that he’d like to see the playoff expanded beyond its current four teams.

And, yet again, Leach made the case for a 64-team field.

I don’t know why you don’t have 64 teams,” the Washington State coach said according to the World Wide Leader. “The notion of pinpointing and selecting four perfectly, well that’s not going to happen. That can’t happen effectively. …

“It’s remarkably easy. If you’ve got 64, there wouldn’t be a lot of debate. … It would be indisputable that it was settled on the field and somebody that wins playoff games accordingly deserves to be champion and there’s no debate. It would be great fun to watch — just like it is at all the other levels.”

The closest any level of football gets to Leach’s number is the FCS with 24 teams qualifying, up from 20 just a few years ago. The former Div. 1-AA, though, only plays 11 regular season games, with last year’s champion, North Dakota State, playing 15 games counting the playoffs.

For Leach’s proposal to work and garner any type of support, you’d have to get the most powerful conferences in the country to roll back the regular season even further, to 10 games, which would keep any team that made the title game in that size field at just 16 games played; Ohio State and Oregon, the two College Football Playoff championship game qualifiers, played 15 games and even that amount raised a bit of a ruckus from those concerned over player safety.

And even getting to that number, the 10 regular season games, is not as simple as waving a magic wand and getting all on board with wiping out two potentially lucrative regular season games as well as a lucrative conference championship game that benefits all league members.

Despite the CFP’s protestations to the contrary, the field will expand, sooner than later, from four to eight teams, and possibly even 16 on down the road.  Getting to Leach’s ideal number?  You never say never, but that will never happen in my lifetime.  Or the lifetime of my children, for that matter.

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Victim asks that charges against LSU QB, teammates be dropped

Anthony Jennings

At the SEC Media days earlier this month, head coach Les Miles was confident that a handful of his LSU players, including potential starting quarterback Anthony Jennings, would be back with the football team soon as their off-field issues were “approaching a resolution.”

As it turns out, the coach was potentially very prescient when it comes to this situation.

Wednesday afternoon, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore confirmed to a group of reporters covering a speech at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that the victim in a case involving the LSU football players have asked that the preliminary charges against the trio be dropped. Moore, who has yet to formally charge the trio — Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dwayne Thomas — stated that, if the case didn’t involve football players, it would likely be over and done with.

“If this was a regular case, take football out of it, if it just involved a regular LSU student, you wouldn’t have known it happened. It would routinely be dismissed,” the DA said. “I’m taking my time to get it right.”

Moore added “possibly next week” when asked when a resolution can be expected.

The three players were arrested in the middle of last month for unauthorized entry of an inhabited building. Essentially, it’s being alleged that the three went into the open apartment of another LSU student to retrieve items they claim were stolen the week before.

All of the players involved have been indefinitely suspended.

Moore was in attendance to the speech at the Rotary Club, with the keynote speaker being, of course, Miles. During the course of that speech, Miles jokingly directed a message involving his current players at the DA, which he quickly noted to the scribes covering wasn’t suitable for publication.

“I’m right with you. You hear me? As we have always operated, I’m on your schedule, Miles said as he pointed at Moore. “You tell me what you need to tell me, and I will operate accordingly. I promise you.”

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C.J. Reavis loses appeal, remains dismissed by Hokies

It appears that Virginia Tech’s secondary will indeed be without a likely starter heading into its season opener against defending national champion Ohio State.

In a series of tweets Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times confirmed that “safety C.J. Reavis lost his appeal of a student conduct hearing decision” on Tuesday and “remains dismissed from Virginia Tech.” Earlier this month it was reported that Reavis was no longer enrolled at the university following the completion of a student-conduct hearing.

There still has been no reason given for the student-conduct hearing, although Reavis’ attorney is far from pleased with the outcome of the appeal, intimating that his client may take legal action against Tech.

Reavis played in 12 games as a true freshman last season, mainly on special teams. After a strong spring, he was viewed as a likely starter at safety for the Hokies.

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Ex-Buckeye Jayme Thompson tweets he’ll continue career at Indiana

Jayme Thompson

Jayme Thompson may have left Ohio State, but, as it turns out, he hasn’t permanently left the Big Ten.

The former Buckeye defensive back posted a tweet to his personal Twitter account in which he revealed that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at Indiana.  As Thompson spent the 2014 season at Iowa Western Community College, he will be eligible to play immediately for the Hoosiers in 2015.

And he will play against his former team as well as the Hoosiers will play host to the Buckeyes Oct. 3.

The Toledo, OH, high schooler was a four-star member of OSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 29 safety in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  He missed all of his true freshman season due to a broken ankle, but had participated in spring practice the following year before deciding to transfer in mid-April of last year.

Prior to landing at IU, Kentucky, Louisville, Penn State, Rutgers and West Virginia — Thompson verbally committed to WVU before flipping to OSU — were rumored as potential destinations as well.

(Photo credit: Ohio State athletics)

UPDATED 7:01 p.m. ET: As it turns out, Thompson will be a part of IU’s 2016 recruiting class and will not play for the Hoosiers until next season.  He will spend the 2015 season at a JUCO.

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Chris Petersen ‘not looking forward to’ Boise game ‘because I recruited so many of those kids’

chrispetersen Getty Images

One of the best storylines heading into Week 1 of the 2015 season will be Washington’s road trip to Boise State, and not necessarily for what will happen on the field during those 60 minutes.

UW is coached by Chris Petersen, who is heading into his second year with the Huskies.  Petersen, of course, was the long-time — and very successful — head coach at Boise who had turned down multiple offers from more “prestigious” programs before finally pulling the trigger on a move from the Broncos to the Huskies in December of 2013.

While everybody else in the college football world is eagerly anticipating his return to Boise for the Sept. 4 Friday night game, the coach himself isn’t.

“I’m not looking forward to it because I recruited so many of those kids,” Petersen said during his time running through the ESPN car wash, adding that, when it comes to the kind of reception he’ll get for his homecoming, he understands the boo birds will be out.

“They’re fans, they’re gonna boo me,” said the coach. “But it’s such a great place.”

Petersen did dip his toes into the controversy over the Broncos’ Smurf Turf, all with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

The game itself is likely causing as much or more trepidation for Petersen than the homecoming angle, though.

While both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks, UW will be breaking in a new signal-caller behind an offensive line that returns just one starter from 2014.  Boise, meanwhile, returns all five line starters.

Combine that with eight returning starters from a Broncos defense that was above average in nearly every major statistical category — the Huskies return four on that side of the ball — and the game being played in Boise, and it could add up to a very long night for Petersen’s homecoming in more ways than one.

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After leaving Buckeyes to focus on med school dream, Frank Epitropoulos to walk-on at Mich. St.

Frankie Williams, Frank Epitropoulos AP

If you remember back to August of last year, Ohio State revealed that Frank Epitropoulos has decided to give up football to focus on academics. Specifically, the little-used wide receiver was leaving to “concentrate entirely on his biology and pre-med/pre-dental academic program.”

Nearly one year later, Epitropoulos is returning to play football — for one of OSU’s Big Ten East rivals.

Epitropoulos, whose father and uncle played for OSU, confirmed via Twitter on Tuesday that he has decided to resume his collegiate playing career for Michigan State.  Epitropoulos will be a walk-on for the Spartans who will be eligible to play in 2015 because he sat out the 2014 season.

Epitropoulos’ father confirmed to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the receiver is still a pre-med student.  According to the dad, his son “got most of his hard stuff out of the way” during his brief sabbatical from the sport.

“To do how he did in school, and take the kind of classes that he took, I highly doubt that he’d been able to get the grades he needed,” John Epitropoulos told the Plain Dealer. “To try to go to medical school, you’ve gotta put yourself in a position to do that. There’s some minimal things you’ve gotta do, and that doesn’t guarantee you anything. I’m confident, and he said too, that he would not have been able to get the grades that he needed.

“That (football) part of his life slowed down so he would have a chance, because there’s no guarantee obviously. It’s very competitive. If you want to put yourself in a spot to do that, then that’s what you gotta do. I can tell you as a father, I’m fairly confident he wouldn’t have been able, or he would’ve had to switch his major out. To his betterment, he didn’t want to do that. That’s the right call for him.”

On the football field, Epitropoulos played in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2013. He had one career catch for six yards — vs. Purdue in early November

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Uncle Luke, coach trade Twitter barbs over 5-star FSU decommit

Isaac Nauta

On the field the Florida State-Miami rivalry is a shadow of its former self, with the Seminoles winning five straight; six of seven; and nine of 11.  The last time the Hurricanes won at least two in a row in the series was the end of a six-game winning streak that ran from 2000-2004.

Off the field and in the social media arena?  The rivalry is alive and well.

Late Tuesday morning, five-star 2016 tight end Isaac Nauta, the highest-rated offensive commit, along with quarterback Malik Henry, in FSU’s class next year, announced via Twitter that he had decided to decommit from FSU and reopen his recruitment.  In his tweet missive, he took what some took to be a vague slap at the current “culture” around the FSU football program, writing that “I have decommitted to make sure that I make the best possible decision for my future in becoming a man and developing as a student-athlete.”

To add insult to injury, Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, an unabashed and very public supporter of Miami football, took to the same social media website to take a jab at the FSU assistant who would’ve been/will be Nauta’s position coach, tight ends coach Tim Brewster.

Brewster, of course, responded with a reference to the date of the next meeting between the in-state rivals.

FSU, incidentally, is still ranked third for the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com.  The U, meanwhile, is ranked seventh.

As for 6-4, 235-pound Florida native Nauta’s future?  Florida, Georgia, Michigan and USC are all schools that are listed as “High” in the interest category.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Academic reasons cost USF its leading 2014 sacker

Derrick Calloway

USF released its updated depth chart ahead of the start of summer camp, and there’s one very noticeable absence.

Derrick Calloway is no longer listed as a member of Willie Taggart‘s squad.  According to the school, the defensive tackle has withdrawn from the university because of academic reasons.

It was noted by the school itself that Calloway could return to USF after 2015.

In 2014, Calloway’s three sacks led all Bull defensive linemen, as did his two quarterback hurries.  The Tampa Bay Times notes that, with Calloway’s departure, USF has just one defensive tackle on the roster with starting experience — Deadrin Senat, who has just two starts on his résumé.  Calloway himself had just three starts, all of which came last season as a sophomore.

(Photo credit: USF athletics)

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ECU gives projected starting guard Larry Williams the boot

Larry Williams

On yet another day of additional player movement, we’ll close shop for the night with one final departure.

East Carolina announced in a press release that Larry Williams has been dismissed by head coach Ruffin McNeill.  The dismissal comes after Williams was accused of violating unspecified team rules.

“It is always disappointing when someone is dismissed from the program, but there comes a time when an individual’s actions force the loss of a privilege, which in this case is being a part of our team,” McNeill said in a statement. “We all have the responsibility of being accountable.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2013, Williams played in all 13 games. Most of that action came on special teams.

However, the 6-4, 331-pound lineman was expected to head into summer camp as the projected starter at right guard.

(Photo credit: East Carolina athletics)

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Dismissed by Wazzu, Daquawn Brown expected to land at Fresno

Washington State v Stanford Getty Images

Nearly seven months to the day he was dismissed by Washington State, it appears that Daquawn Brown has found a landing spot.

According to FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Brown “is expected to be cleared to transfer to Fresno State.”  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Brown will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

He would have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Back in late December, Brown was kicked off Mike Leach‘s football team.  While Wazzu never confirmed the dismissal, it was reported that it had involved, of course, a violation of unspecified team rules.

Brown started 11 of 12 games at cornerback in 2014, with the only start missed due to a second-half targeting penalty against Oregon State that kept him out of the first half of the Arizona State game.  He led the team in tackles with 82, and was named honorable mention Pac-12 following the regular season.

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QB Donovan Isom takes to Twitter to announce transfer from Utah

Isom_Donovan, Utah Football August 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo / Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah)

Utah’s quarterback meeting room will be one lighter when it enters summer camp than when it exited spring practice.

On Twitter Saturday evening, Donovan Isom tweeted out a photo of him wearing a Southeastern Louisiana uniform and helmet.  The quarterback confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that he decided to transfer from Utah to be closer to his family in Louisiana.

Last month, his family’s home was destroyed by fire, which triggered his decision to leave the Utes.

Another factor in the decision could very well have been the depth chart at his position.  Not counting Isom, the Utes’ roster is littered with five quarterbacks, including the incumbent Travis Wilson as well as well as former Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson.

Isom was a three-star member of Utah’s 2014 recruiting class who took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He took part in the spring game, rushing for 42 yards on 11 carries and completing seven passes for 15 yards.

Because Southeastern Louisiana is an FCS school, Isom will be eligible to play in 2015.  Including this year, he’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Utah athletics)

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Michigan ditching ‘Legends’ jerseys, will re-retire iconic numbers

Appalachian v Michigan

One of the more controversial and clunky decisions of the Dave Brandon era at Michigan will officially come to an end this season.

Tuesday afternoon, UM announced that it plans on re-retiring the uniform numbers of seven of its football legends: Gerald Ford (#48), Tom Harmon (#98), Ron Kramer (#87), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47) and the Wistert brothers (#11) — Albert, Alvin and Whitey.  The jerseys associated with what are dubbed the Michigan Football Legends will be taken out of circulation as well.

The re-retirement ceremony will take place Nov. 28 prior to the annual grudge match with rival Ohio State.

Additionally, the No. 21 worn by Desmond Howard in a career that included a Heisman Trophy will be officially retired during the same ceremony. The initial decision to begin unretiring the jersey numbers began nearly four years ago under Brandon, as mlive.com explained:

Brandon started the Legends program during Howard’s Hall of Fame ceremony in early 2011. At the time, Howard’s No. 21 was the only number to receive the “Michigan Football Legend” distinction. Any player wearing the No. 21 during this time (Junior Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon were the only two) donned a commemorative patch on their uniform and sat in a specialized locker honoring the “Legend” player.

However, over the next four years, Michigan slowly began to bring all of its previous five retired uniforms back out of circulation, handing them to individual players who were selected by then coach Brady Hoke.

Following Brandon’s ouster and under interim athletic Jim Hackett, momentum grew for the jersey numbers to be tucked back in their rightful places.

“During the search process for our new football coach, I had a meeting with the Michigan Football team, and they expressed their feelings associated with wearing these legendary jerseys,” Hackett said in a statement. “At one end of the spectrum they are awed by the legacy of the men that wore them, and at the other end of the spectrum, and as part of a team sport, they wondered why we would call attention to one of our team members. I brought this issue to our new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He agreed with me that it needed a review. I then talked to the families of these great Michigan players. I called them directly and laid out the paradox of seeing players as a team and the due respect to these individual great players.

“The right plan is to retire them and display them in Towsley Museum which is connected to Schembechler Hall. Because we don’t have the display area inside the stadium, we have found a high-profile area on the concourse where fans can see and honor these retired jerseys.”

The only current player who will be impacted by the move is Desmond Morgan, who has worn No. 48 since 2012.

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