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Aaron Lynch leaving USF for the NFL

Aaron Lynch AP

After just one season playing at USF, Aaron Lynch has decided to take his game to the next level.

The school confirmed in a press release Tuesday that the defensive end will leave the Bulls and make himself available for the NFL draft next spring.  Speculation had been swirling since USF’s regular-season finale earlier this month that Lynch would indeed make the early leap to the NFL.

“We thank Aaron for his contributions to our program over the past two years and wish him all the best in his future,” USF head coach Willie Taggart said in a statement. “We look forward to Aaron representing USF well in the NFL.”

Lynch led the Bulls this season with four sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

In mid-April of 2012, Lynch announced he would be transferring from Notre Dame, signing with USF a week and a half later.  He sat out that season after having his appeal for immediate eligibility denied.

As a four-star member of the Irish’s 2011 recruiting class, Lynch was rated as the No. 3 defensive end and the No. 28 player in the country at any position.  In his one and only season in South Bend, Lynch totaled 33 tackles, 5.5 sacks, seven TFL, 14 pressures and a forced fumble and was  named a Freshman All-American.

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Orange to be without leading receiver for ‘a couple weeks’

Ashton Broyld, Steele Divitto

With its first conference game in its second season as a member of the ACC on the horizon, it appears Syracuse could make its 2014 league debut without its top threat in the passing game.

During the first half of ‘Cuse’s loss to Maryland last Saturday, Ashton Broyld suffered what’s only being described as a lower-leg injury.  Head coach Scott Shafer confirmed Monday that the wide receiver will be “a couple [of] weeks” because of the injury.

Such a timeline means he won’t play in the prime-time game against Notre Dame this weekend, and all but guarantees he won’t be on the field for the conference opener against Louisville the following Friday.

“He’s really done a nice job growing as a young man this past year and a half,” Shafer said. “Disappointing, but it’ll be a great challenge for him to learn from.

“I know he’ll be working hard on the rehab.”

Broyld is currently tops on the team with 11 receptions and is second with 125 receiving yards. Broyld led the team last year in both categories (52-452).

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Broken hand costs Hawaii its No. 2 QB for rest of 2014

Jeremy Higgins AP

Moving forward, Hawaii won’t have Jeremy Higgins as a quarterback security blanket.

UH athletics has announced that the senior will miss the remainder of the 2014 season due to a fracture in his left (throwing) hand.  Higgins suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss to Colorado.

Head coach Norm Chow had yanked ineffective starter Ikaika Woolsey (10-24, 64 yards) at halftime in favor of Higgins. The replacement wasn’t much more effective as Higgins went 4-of-17 for 66 yards before being injured.

Higgins was replaced by former Ohio State transfer Taylor Graham.

Chow said that while the injury essentially ends Higgins’ playing career, it’ll allow him to get a jumpstart on the next phase of his career: coaching.

“It’s really a tough deal and we feel really badly for Jeremy,” the coach said in a statement. “He’s the consummate teammate and team leader who worked really hard in his career to get where he’s at. It’s very unfortunate but Jeremy will still be around the team, serving as a student assistant. He wants to get into coaching and this will be a good start for his career.”

Over his three-year career at UH, he appeared in nine games, with one start, and completed 41-of-82 attempts for 489 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for one touchdown in 2012.

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Jameis Winston’s, FSU’s Bovada odds take precipitous drop

Jameis Winston AP

It was understood that, because of his one-game suspension, Jameis Winston‘s hopes of becoming just the second player ever to claim back-to-back Heismans had nearly been extinguished,

Today, we have some unofficial data to back up that contention.  And the contention that his team is no longer the favorite to claim back-to-back titles.

Entering the 2014 season, Winston was a 9/2 favorite to win the 2014 Heisman per Bovada.lv.  Two weeks later, those odds dropped to 15/2, and then 10/1 a week ago.  After another week of tumult?  The FSU quarterback is now at 20/1, tied with Baylor’s Bryce Petty and behind nine other players.

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is the prohibitive favorite at the moment at 2/1; the Ducks quarterback was at 11/2 a week ago.  The next three all saw there odds drop from where they were a week ago: Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, 10/1 (15/2 a week ago); Georgia running back Todd Gurley, 10/1 (7/1); and Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, 12/1 (10/1).

Amari Cooper made the most noteworthy jump of the week, with the standout Alabama wide receiver going from 33/1 to 18/1.

On the College Football Playoff side of the wagering equation, Florida State, coming off the narrow and Jameis-less overtime win against Clemson, saw its odd dip to 15/2 from 5/1.  After spending the entire offseason as well as the first four weeks as the betting favorite, FSU now finds itself behind Alabama (13/2, up slightly from 7/1) and on par with Auburn (15/2, 9/1) and Oklahoma (the same 15/2 as a week ago).

Somewhat surprisingly, it was a pair of Big Ten teams with two of the biggest upward movers.  Coming off a bye weekend, Ohio State went from 33/1 to 20/1.  Michigan State, fresh off the boot stomp of Eastern Michigan, went from 33/1 to 20/1 as well.

Below are the complete set of Heisman and College Football Playoff odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Week 5 Bovada Heisman Odds

Week 5 Bovada CFP Odds

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Auburn’s Jermaine Whitehead remains indefinitely suspended

Arkansas v Auburn Getty Images

For those looking for some clarity on Jermaine Whitehead‘s playing status moving forward, you’ll have to wait a while longer.

On his Monday night radio show, head coach Gus Malzahn said “[n]othing’s changed at this point” when asked about Whitehead’s suspension. The defensive back was indefinitely suspended last week by Malzahn, reportedly after getting into a verbal altercation with an assistant coach.

Malzahn followed that up with a teleconference Tuesday in which he stated Whitehead won’t be on the sidelines for this weekend’s game.  He’s already missed last Thursday’s narrow road win over Kansas State.

The good news for the Tigers is they already have a quality player in place. Starting in place of Whitehead, Josh Holsey was credited with a career-high 11 tackles in the win over the Wildcats. For that effort, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

That said, Holsey moved over from cornerback, so getting the talented Whitehead back sooner than later would be optimal.

Prior to his suspension, Whitehead started the last 26 games at safety, and currently leads the Tigers in interceptions with two. One of those picks was returned for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Arkansas.

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Hoke reverses course, won’t decide on starting QB today

Devin Gardner, Shane Morris

Monday, Brady Hoke stated that a decision on whether starter Devin Gardner or backup Shane Morris would be under center for Michigan’s game Saturday against Minnesota would be made Tuesday.

24 hours later?  Forget about it.  Pretend it never happened.

At least publicly, the Wolverines head coach reversed course during a teleconference very early this afternoon, stating that he and his coaching staff aren’t prepared to announce a starter right now.  Whether Hoke and his assistants know who will start and don’t want to divulge it publicly, and give the Gophers a heads up in the process, is unclear.

What is clear is that everybody outside of the football program will have to wait until later on in the week to see if Hoke pulls the trigger on a change and goes with Morris or sticks with the struggling Gardner.

The fact that Hoke isn’t deciding now would tend to make one think that he’s leaning toward the status quo with Gardner.  Or, at least, it’s making some think that way.

Regardless of who ultimately starts this weekend, it’s highly doubtful we’ve heard the last of the quarterback questions in Ann Arbor.

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Jameis Winston advisor tweets QB to cooperate with Title IX probe

Jameis Winston

Back in April, a lawyer for the alleged victim of an alleged 2012 sexual assault claimed that, because Jameis Winston had refused to cooperate, Florida State shuttered a federally-mandated Title IX investigation into the allegations.

It was reported five months later that FSU officials had spoken to the alleged victim for the first time a month before, even as the quarterback’s advisor, David Cornwell, released a scathing statement blaming the alleged victim for the delay in the probe.  While Winston had still not spoken to investigators looking into the allegations, that appears ready to change.

In a tweet posted to his Twitter account Tuesday morning, Cornwell wrote that Winston will cooperate with the Title IX investigation.  Cornwell was said to be informing FSU officials of his client’s intent today.

What level of cooperation to which Cornwell is alluding is unclear.

In early December of last year, following a three-week investigation, the Florida State’s Attorney office announced that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the sexual encounter between Winston and the alleged victim was not consensual, and that no charges would be filed against the player.  The state’s attorney in charge of that investigation, William Meggs, was highly critical of the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation into the alleged rape in a New York Times report earlier this week, a report in which the university subsequently expressed its disappointment.  The Tallahassee PD subsequently revised its policies when it came to handling sexual assault complaints in the wake of intense criticism it received.

In April it was reported that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.

Cornwell’s declaration comes one day after Winston was reinstated from his one-game suspension.  The reigning Heisman winner missed the narrow escape over Clemson because of a vulgar and obscene incident earlier in the week.

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A ninth one bites the dust as Texas boots OT Estelle

Mississippi v Texas

Monday brought word that the three indefinitely suspended Texas players would remain that way at least through the Kansas game this Saturday. As it turns out, one-third of that trio (likely) won’t ever play for the Longhorns again.

UT announced late Tuesday morning that Kennedy Estelle has been dismissed from the football team by head coach Charlie Strong. The only reason given was a “violation of team rules.”

The offensive tackle, projected to be a starter, had missed the last two games because of the suspension meted out after he played in the opener against North Texas.

What changed over the past 24 hours that brought about Estelle’s dismissal is unknown. What is known is that a new sheriff is most certainly in charge, and he’s brought a big ol’ broom to town with him.

Estelle had played in 16 games for the Longhorns, starting nine of those contests.

At least for now, the two remaining suspended players, wide receiver Daje Johnson and offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, are still on the team.  Both were projected starters entering summer camp.

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Auburn, LSU eyeing dismissed UGA DT

Gator Bowl Football AP

Despite a sketchy off-field résumé of late, it appears Jonathan Taylor could find his way back to the SEC after all.

According to a report from 247Sports.com ($), the former Georgia football player is drawing interest from both Auburn and LSU.  The defensive tackle already visited the latter this past weekend, and is expected to visit the former this coming weekend for their game against Louisiana Tech.

Louisville, led by former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, also reportedly has Taylor on its radar.

Taylor was arrested in March of this year following theft by deception charges against he and three other Georgia players.  Four months later, Taylor was arrested for the aggravated assault of a female and dismissed by UGA the following day.

A four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2012 recruiting class, Taylor was rate as the No. 7 defensive tackle in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Taylor played in 10 games in 2013 and was in line to be a significant part of UGA’s line rotation this season prior to his off-field escapades.

If Taylor lands at another FBS school for the 2015 season — he’s spending 2014 at a Mississippi JUCO — he’d be able to play immediately and have two years of eligibility.

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Major Applewhite reportedly applies for SMU job

Texas v Texas Tech Getty Images

If SMU is looking for a permanent head coach with deep Texas roots, this reported candidate would certainly qualify.  There could be, though, at least a little controversy over his potential candidacy.

In his weekly “Nine Things and One Crazy Prediction” column, the Austin American-Statesman‘s Kirk Bohls writes that “I’m told former Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has applied at SMU, but he couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.” And that was the extent of the mini-report.

The Mustangs are currently searching for a replacement for June Jones, who abruptly resigned earlier this month. The athletic department is expected to cast a wide net in looking for a successor, and the 36-year-old Applewhite, if the school wants to go the “first-time head coach with Texas ties” route, could certainly be in play.

Applewhite was a Texas Longhorn quarterback from 1998-2001, then served the next three years as a UT grad assistant. In between stints at Syracuse (2005) and Alabama (2007), Applewhite was the offensive coordinator at Rice. Then, from 2008-14, he served on Mack Brown‘s staff in various capacities: co-offensive coordinator, assistant head coach, running backs coach and quarterbacks coach.

Applewhite, though, would come to SMU with some, well, major baggage.

In January of 2013, Texas acknowledged in a press release that “Applewhite [had] engaged in inappropriate, albeit consensual, [sexual] behavior with an adult student during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl trip.” Applewhite acknowledged in a statement at the time that “[s]everal years ago, I made a regretful decision resulting in behavior that was totally inappropriate.”

Despite the controversy, Applewhite remained on staff for the 2013 season.  Upon the hiring of head coach Charlie Strong, however, Applewhite was given a one-year severance.

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Ex-USC player suing Kiffin, Trojans

USC v Arizona State Getty Images

With new coordinator Lane Kiffin on board, Alabama’s offense is off to a prolific and potentially historic start.

Thanks to Kiffin’s past, however, an issue has popped up that’ll serve as at least a minor inconvenience, if not an outright distraction.

Multiple media outlets reported late Monday night that Brian Baucham filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday in which Kiffin and his former employer, USC, are named as defendants. The Los Angeles Times writes that the former Trojan football player claimed in the suit that Kiffin and the school “were negligent by forcing him to play in a game when he was ill and that they did not follow the school’s injury-plan guidelines, leaving Baucham with cardiopulmonary damage and brain injury.”

On September 22 of 2012, nearly a year to the day prior to Kiffin being fired as USC’s head coach, Baucham fell ill during a game against Cal and was taken from the stadium to a local hospital via ambulance. He remained in the intensive care unit on a ventilator for two days before being released a short time later. He never played another down of football.

The lawsuit also claims that USC medical personnel told the player he was in no condition to play, but that the coaching staff played him anyway. “USC and head coach Kiffin were clearly negligent and acted with conscious disregard for Brian’s welfare and safety by forcing him to play … despite his verified medical history and seriously ill condition,” one of Baucham’s lawyers, Bruce M. Brusavich, told the Associated Press.

The suit is seeking unspecified damages for the former cornerback, who just recently received his degree from the university.

Kiffin has declined to comment on the suit, while USC’s athletic director offered the Times a very generic statement.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on this lawsuit, and due to privacy laws we cannot comment on the specifics of this case,” Pat Haden said. “I will say that I am confident that we provide excellent medical treatment to our student athletes and that their health is always our primary concern ahead of any athletic competition.”

This isn’t the first time USC is facing a lawsuit over an ex-player’s medical claims. In a lawsuit filed in late August of 2012, former USC defensive tackle Armond Armstead claimed that “team doctors repeatedly administered a painkiller to him that gave him a heart attack, and that after he recovered the school blocked his attempts to transfer and cost him a shot at the National Football League.”

Armstead wasn’t selected in the 2012 NFL draft, nor did he sign as an undrafted rookie that year.  After brief stints with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts (2012) and the New England Patriots (2013), Armstead retired from football in July of this year.

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UW Huskies lose RB Callier to another season-ending injury

Jesse Callier

For the second time in three seasons, Jesse Callier will see a season come to a premature end thanks to an injury.

According to both the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune, the running back has a ruptured Achilles tendon and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.  Callier suffered the injury on the opening kickoff of Washington’s win over Georgia State Saturday.

“That’s a hard one to take, just a guy that’s a senior and some of the things that he’s been through,” head coach Chris Petersen said. “He’s doing such a great job for us. So that’s hard.”

Callier also missed most of the 2012 season with a torn ACL suffered in the first quarter of the season opener, so the fifth-year senior would seemingly be eligible for a sixth season from the NCAA. However, both the Times and News Tribune wrote that the injury effectively ends his collegiate career.

Thus, Callier will apparently end his collegiate career with 997 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He also caught 36 passes coming out of the backfield.

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Texas may get TE Greg Daniels back in time for Kansas on Saturday

Valero Alamo Bowl - Oregon v Texas Getty Images

In what was a fairly newsy news conference Monday in Austin, Charlie Strong announced that suspended players Daje JohnsonDemsond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle will remain suspended, and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes pulled a Joe Namath and said that his 1-2 Longhorns had their sights set on the College Football Playoff.

There was a bit of tangible, realistic, good news for the Longhorns on Monday, that tight end/glorified offensive lineman Greg Daniels is progressing toward seeing the field for the first time this season.

Daniels has not seen the field this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in August. The time table at that point pointed toward an Oct 11 return against Oklahoma, so he appears to be ahead of schedule.

The senior has mostly been used as an extra blocker in his 25 career games after beginning his career on the defensive line. He has eight career catches for 118 yards; Daniels’ claim to fame was catching a 47-yard pass on Texas’ first play from scrimmage during UT’s 33-7 win over Iowa State way back in 2012, a play the Longhorns ran out of the Wishbone in tribute of the recently-passed Darrell Royal. That play was called by then-Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who has taken two jobs since then. So, yeah, it’s been a while since Daniels contributed anything of substance in the passing game.

But Daniels’ return to the field would still be an upgrade. Tight ends M.J. McFarland and Geoff Swaim have combined to produce five receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown thus far this season, so it’s not as if that position is a major portion of the passing game in the first place. Pairing Swaim with Daniels would give the ‘Horns two above-average blocking tight ends and, considering the state of the offensive line, that would be a sorely needed advantage.

Texas travels to Kansas on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).

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UMass reportedly close to adding games with Tennessee, BYU and Army

Massachusetts v Vanderbilt Getty Images

After getting kicked out of the nest by the Mid-American Conference, Massachusetts football is currently falling to the ground at a rapid rate, hoping it can flap its wings and fly on its own before its body meets the dirt. The Minutemen will play their final season as a football-only member of the MAC in 2015, and will compete as an independent in 2016 and 2017, with anything beyond that still to be determined.

Considering the Minutemen are 2-26 since moving to FBS in 2012, getting back down to FCS as fast as possible should be on the table for 2018 and beyond, but a discussion for another time.

For now, athletics director John McCutcheon has the unenviable task of building a schedule as an FBS independent without the established history of Notre Dame, BYU or Army (Navy is dropping out of the independent game after this season.)

One of the challenges of filling a full, 12-game schedule is finding November games, when most of college football is knee-deep in conference races. But UMass has found an unlikely ally: the Southeastern Conference. SEC teams usually take a week off of conference play in November, and McCutcheon is poised to take advantage of that by securing a game and a paycheck in lining up a game at Tennessee for a game in November 2017.

The game between the Volunteers and Minutemen would be the first.

According to Matt Vautor of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, UMass is set to announce games against fellow opponents BYU and Army past part of announcement for 2016-17 that will include as many as 10 games.

UMass currently has games lined up against Florida, Connecticut, Boston College, Rhoad Island and Old Dominion for 2016, and dates with Connecticut, Old Dominion, Temple and Indiana for 2017, according to scheduling tracker FBSchedules.com.

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Vanderbilt suspends RB Brian Kimbrow indefinitely

Brian Kimbrow

Vanderbilt running back Brian Kimbrow has rushed just once this season, a six-yard loss that resulted in a fumble. Sadly, that may be his only quote-unquote contribution to the team this fall, as head coach Derek Mason announced Monday that is his junior running back has been suspended indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

“No one player is bigger than the team. We’re not going to comment on anything else. It’s always about team,” Mason said Monday evening on his call-in radio show, according to The Tennessean.

Vanderbilt (1-2) ranks 105th nationally with 477 rushing yards, averaging 119.3 yards per game and 3.85 yards per carry. Redshirt freshman leads the ‘Dores in rushing with 77 carries for 377 yards.

Kimbrow has 748 career rushing yards with six touchdowns. A heralded pick up out of Memphis for former coach James Franklin, Kimbrow rushed for 413 yards as a freshman and 314 as a sophomore. Considering he may be stuck at minus-6 for his junior campaign, and that’s a pretty telling statement about the direction Kimbrow’s career is headed.

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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.

Update: Michigan is pulling the promotion immediately. Whether it really was an unauthorized promotion, that somehow surely passed by a number of desks before the material above saw the light of day, or if this is the result of NFL-style “reaction is bad, so let’s change direction” public relations remains to be seen.

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