Jerry Kill

Jerry Kill’s return to sideline sparks Gophers but Syracuse pulls out Texas Bowl win


Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill returned to the sideline for the first time since September 28 and gave the Gophers an emotional boost, but Syracuse quarterback Terrell Hunt delivered the heroics with a late touchdown run up the middle with 1:14 to play. Hunt’s touchdown late in the fourth quarter gave Syracuse a 20-17 lead after being set up by a great punt return and the defense held on for the Teas Bowl victory by the same score.

Hunt passed for 188 yards and led the Orange with 74 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hunt’s second touchdown run of the game came on a third and long inside the red zone and took advantage of a Minnesota defense that was selling out on the pass and sucked in to coverage, leaving the middle of he field wide open. Advantage, Hunt.

Minnesota scored two touchdowns in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, both off the arm of quarterback Mitch Leidner, to turn a 14-3 deficit in to a 17-14 lead. Leidner’s first touchdown pass was a 20-yard pass to Maxx Williams and the second was a 55-yard strike down field to Drew Wolitarsky.

Syracuse had a chance to tie the game at 17-17 late in the fourth quarter, but a 44-yard field goal attempt by Riley Dixon sailed wide right. Minnesota’s ground game took over from there to run some clock, but Syracuse got one more chance and a great punt return by Brisly Estime put the Orange inside the red zone with time no longer a concern. Punter Peter Mortell did not get a great punt off his foot, but he did make what appeared to be a game-saving tackle. Minnesota’s defense came through with a defensive stand with their backs against the wall, but they could not keep Hunt from finding room right up the middle of the field as he ran in to the end zone for the late 20-17 lead.

Minnesota’s bowl losing streak extends to six games, with the last win coming in the 2004 Music City Bowl. Syracuse picked up their third straight bowl win over a four-year span. Syracuse had won two Pinstripe Bowls and joins ACC newcomer Pittsburgh by winning bowl game sin their first year in the ACC.

Despite the loss, Minnesota caps the most successful season under Kill by once again showing signs of improvement and a preview of things to come in 2014. The Gophers may not be a top Big Ten contender in 2014 but they will certainly not be a team that will be a pushover as they have been over the years for various programs. Next season the Gophers have a challenging Big Ten schedule with road games at Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin in addition to a home game against Michigan. Minnesota also returns to Texas for a road game against TCU in mid-September and they open at home against one of the top FCS programs this season, Eastern Illinois.

Syracuse will have some challenges coming their way in 2014 as well. The Orange will host Louisville and Florida State and Duke at home in ACC play and Syracuse travels to Clemson and Pittsburgh. In non-conference action Syracuse will play Notre Dame in MetLife Stadium and will host Maryland, who moves from the ACC to the Big Ten in 2014.

Gamecocks WR Pharoh Cooper turning pro, says father

Pharoh Cooper
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South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper will play his final collegiate game this Saturday against Clemson. The junior wide receiver will not return for his senior season in Columbia and will instead enter the 2016 NFL Draft, according to his father.

“He definitely appreciates the opportunity to play for South Carolina, and we as parents appreciate the opportunity they gave him,” Cooper’s father, Glen Cooper, said in a story for The Slate. “He wants to ride the wave at its high point.”

According to The Slate report, Cooper’s decision to turn pro was more about what kind of potential he is believed to have entering the NFL next season and not the coaching change underway with the Gamecocks. Steve Spurrier resigned as head coach during the season and South Carolina will have a new coach in 2016, which is still to be determined. And he does have the pro potential. Josh Norris of RotoWorld ranks Cooper as the eighth-best wide receiver in the NFL Draft Class of 2016. Cooper also wanted to avoid risking an injury in 2016 before taking the next step toward the NFL, which can tend to be a wise choice for so many players given the uncertainty revolving around the sport.

Cooper leads South Carolina with 887 yards and seven touchdowns this season. With South Carolina out of postseason contention, Cooper will likely fall shy of his 2014 total of 1,136 yards (if he matches that, good night to Clemson’s title hopes), but he could have a chance to tie his team-leading nine touchdown mark from a season ago.

Gary Patterson wants a six or eight-team playoff

Gary Patterson

Last year TCU’s Gary Patterson took the high road when his 11-1 Horned Frogs, declared co-champions of the Big 12 with Baylor, were passed over by Ohio State for the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff. While he may not have been happy about the end result of the first playoff selection process, TCU took care of sending a message by hammering Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. Fast forward to today. Patterson and TCU are nowhere close to being in the playoff discussion now with two losses, but the head coach in Fort Worth knows his conference is at risk of being left out of the playoff fun for a second straight season, and he is backing a call for expansion of the playoff field.

“I’m not going to be a person who’s going to be an advocate of the four after this season,” Patterson said (you can see video of Patterson’s full comments via The Star-Telegram). “I think you need to take the winner of all five [power conferences] and then you have an at-large or three more and have either a six or an eight [team playoff]. I think we need to take people’s opinions out of it and what you do during a season is what gives you the opportunity to play into it. Then I think it’s a lot easier. ThenI think a lot of people would be a lot happier.”

The playoff rankings will be updated later tonight, and one spot will open up after Ohio State was knocked down by Michigan State this past weekend. That spot may not go to the Big 12 as the season draws to a close however, as Iowa is undefeated and Michigan State has a pretty strong one-loss argument to make as well, leaving Oklahoma and Baylor wondering where exactly each will fall in the updated rankings (Oklahoma has a shot of sneaking into the top four, it should be recognized). We already knew one power conference was going to be left out with five power conferences and just four spots to fill. Notre Dame remaining in the playoff picture makes things a bit more nervous for conferences on the fringe like the Big 12 (and the Big Ten), and could also spark expansion of the playoff field sooner than the College Football Playoff would have you believe.

The bottom line is this. There is no perfect way of crowning a college football champion, and there likely never will be. However, if the Big 12 is left out once again while another one or two one-loss teams get a spot, then the Big 12 should start gathering support and finding allies to fight for playoff expansion as soon as possible.

Big 12 releases 2016 schedule; no byes for Texas, Texas Tech or Kansas

James Washington, Ryan Reid

After seeing its conference co-champs left out of the College Football Playoff last season, the Big 12 arranged the schedule to showcase what were to be its biggest contests of the 2015 season toward the back of the schedule this fall. That may end up paying off for Oklahoma, Baylor or Oklahoma State. Next year will be a bit of a different story though, as the Big 12’s 2016 schedule (released today) will spread out some of the expected marquee games. That will include having Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all in action on what will be championship Saturday in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

The Big 12 conference schedule will open on September 17 with TCU hosting Iowa State and continue the following week with a nice little matchup between Baylor and Oklahoma State in Waco. The Big 12 schedule starts to pick up the pace on October 1 with a full slate of conference games, including Oklahoma visiting TCU and Oklahoma State hosting Texas. The traditional Red River Shootout Rivalry in Dallas between Oklahoma and Texas is scheduled for October 8.

All Big 12 action will conclude on December 3 with three games, including the annual Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. This year that game will determine the Big 12 champion. Baylor and TCU will meet on November 5, and Baylor will visit Oklahoma the following week.

The Texas Longhorns will once again play on Thanksgiving when they host TCU for what should end up being a Thursday night game in Austin. Baylor and Texas Tech will face off in Arlington the following day, a day after the Dallas Cowboys host their traditional Thanksgiving football feast. Kansas State hosts Kansas and Iowa State will host West Virginia for the only two Big 12 games that Saturday.

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury may not be too happy with the schedule. Just like this season, the Red Raiders will not be given a bye week during Big 12 play. From October 1 against Kansas through November 26 against Baylor, Texas Tech gets no time off to prepare for a conference opponent. Neither does Kansas or Texas.

The Big 12 uses a nine-game conference schedule, which allows for every school to play every other team in the conference. Of course, there is no Big 12 championship game. You can see the full Big 12 conference schedule here.

One more year for Bill Snyder at Kansas State?

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It might be hard to imagine a college football world without Bill Snyder on the sidelines at Kansas State. In fact, Snyder made his return to the Wildcats in some of the earliest days of College Football Talk (we’ve grown up so much over that time). With the coaching carousel in full operation, including a retirement of Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, UCF’s George O’Leary and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, it does not appear Kansas State’s head coach will join the list of retired coaches just yet.

According to a report from Football Scoop on Tuesday afternoon, Snyder intends on returning to coach in 2016. The 76-year old head coach is not naive to not know his time in charge of the program will come to an end soon, but you have to admire his devotion to the program even in his older years. And you know what, he still can get the job done as a head coach even though Kansas State is not exactly a national championship contender or even a Big 12 contender this season.

Or is this a part of plan to keep the Snyder family in charge of the Wildcats football program? Dan Wolken of USA Today shared a thought about this news which noted one of the rumors regarding the future of the program that has been discussed before.

So we shall see what unfolds at Kansas State. The Wildcats have struggled a bit this season, and there may be a benefit to finding a successor to Snyder now if you are Kansas State. But every time Kansas State has been knocked down, Snyder seems to find a way to bounce back.