Bryce Petty

Sneak Peek: 2013 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl


WHO: 11-1 Baylor (Big-12) vs. 11-1 UCF (AAC)

WHAT: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (42nd year)

WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

WHEN: Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET

WHY: Head coach George O’Leary went 0-11 in his first season at UCF. Ten years later, the No. 15 Knights are 11-1 and have already secured their best season ever. This is a program that got its start back in 1979, which just so happens to be one year before the last time its opponent in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl — No. 6 Baylor — won a conference title.

Make no mistake: Neither team is used to playing in this rarefied air. The Bears are fresh off their first Big 12 title and, if not for a late-season loss to Oklahoma State, they would be playing in the BCS title game against Florida State, not Auburn.

UCF will have its hands full trying to stop one of the great offenses in college football history. Baylor averages 53.5 points and 624 yards per game. Quarterback Bryce Petty has thrown for 3,844 yards with 30 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The Bears are dangerous on the ground, too, with 1,000-yard rusher Lache Seastrunk and 862-yard rusher Shock Linwood.

Baylor is vastly improved on defense. The Bears finished 17th in total defense and 20th in total defense after finishing 113th and 123rd, respectively, in those categories last season.

So the odds are stacked a little bit against the Knights, but UCF is a very good team in its own right. Quarterback Blake Bortles is a first-round NFL prospect after throwing for 3,280 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushing for 179 yards and five scores. He’s a tough leader who has complete command of the UCF offense. Storm Johnson rushed for 1,015 yards and 11 scores to lead the ground game.

The Knights defense is also underrated, finishing in the national top 20 in both total and scoring defense. They’ll need to get some early stops if UCF is to have a shot in this one.

Baylor is the big favorite here and for good reason. The Bears offense is special and hasn’t really been stopped all season (though it has been slowed down). UCF will put up a battle, but Baylor will pull away by the third quarter and grab its first BCS bowl win.

PREDICTION: Baylor 48, UCF 31

Dalvin Cook returns to practice for FSU

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles runs the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida State defeated South Florida 34-14 as Cook rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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With each passing day, it appears Miami won’t be able to avoid one of the most talented and productive running backs in the country.

Thursday, Dalvin Cook returned to practice for the first time this week.  Cook suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, and had spent the previous two days of practice riding a bicycle while the rest of his teammates prepped for the in-state and conference rivalry game against The U this Saturday.

The Palm Beach Post wrote that Cook showed “no signs” of the hamstring injury that had some worried about his availability in Week 6.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher, who said Wednesday he doesn’t “ever count Dalvin out” because of his healing ability, will meet with reporters later this evening and could address Cook’s status for the weekend then.  Or, he could play to keep the Hurricanes guessing, even as most assume the All-ACC back will be on the field.

Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th.

Gophers down eight starters for game vs. Boilermakers

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 03: at Ryan Field on October 3, 2015 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Minnesota 27-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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It would be an understatement of significant proportions to say that the Minnesota football team is banged up.

How banged up?  On his radio show Thursday, head coach Jerry Kill, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, revealed his team will be down a whopping eight starters for Saturday’s game against Purdue.

Kill’s revelation comes one day after he confirmed a total of 20 players donned non-contact jerseys in practice earlier in the day.

The coach didn’t specifically identify which starters would be sidelined, with the Pioneer Press writing “[t]he known injuries to starters include safety Damarius Travis (hamstring), cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), tight end Lincoln Plsek (back) and tackle Ben Lauer (knee/hand).”

One injured starter who will play, Kill confirmed, is quarterback Mitch Leidner. While not detailing any specific injury, Kill said Wednesday that Leidner “hasn’t been healthy. He’s been beat up.”

Overall, though, the Gophers’ health, or lack thereof, is bordering on historic.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 32 years in coaching,” Kill said yesterday. “The toughest thing for me right now is all of these kids that work so hard, and when they get hurt, it kills me. … We are running out of people.”

Coming off an 8-5 season last year, the Gophers are struggling. While they stand at 3-2 after five games, the three wins came by a total of nine points over the likes of Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio. Their second loss — the first was by six to TCU in the opener — was a 27-0 shutout at the hands of Northwestern in the Big Ten opener last weekend.