What the BCS title game means to the 2014 Heisman race

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It’s not unusual for bowl games to serve as launching pads for Heisman campaigns.

Matt Leinart’s MVP performance against Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl set the USC quarterback up as the 2004 Heisman favorite. Of course, he would go on to win the trophy.

Troy Smith’s running and passing explosion against Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl catapulted the Ohio State quarterback into the Heisman conversation the following season. He, too, would go on to win the award.

Even Tim Tebow’s goal-line proficiency against Smith’s Buckeye team in the 2007 BCS title game made him a known quantity heading into his Heisman-winning season.

So how will this year’s BCS title game shape the 2014 Heisman race?

Well, there’s one thing we can pretty much be sure of: No matter how well 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston plays against Auburn on Monday, the odds of him repeating as the Heisman winner in 2014 are remote.

There has been only one two-time winner in the history of the award, Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974-1975. The list of winners who have failed to repeat since Griffin reads like a Who’s Who of college football lore.

Billy Sims. Ty Detmer. Jason White. Matt Leinart. Tim Tebow. Sam Bradford. Mark Ingram. Johnny Manziel. None of them were able to win that second trophy.

Only Sims finished higher than third the year after winning the Heisman. You have to ask yourself: If recent legends like Leinart, Tebow and Manziel couldn’t repeat, what kind of season will Winston have to have to be any different?

Think about all that had to happen for Winston to win the award just once. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller — the preseason fave — had to get hurt early. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota had to lose to Stanford and Arizona in November. A whole combination of wins and losses and disappointing performances by a variety of players were necessary to clear the way for yet another freshman to take home the trophy (just like in 2012).

Things will be different next fall. Heisman voters will be looking for fresh faces…and reasons not to vote for the guy who already won the award.

That means the opportunity is there for Nick Marshall and 2013 Heisman finalist Tre Mason (assuming he returns) to set themselves up in the upper echelon of Heisman contenders heading into 2014.

The BCS title game is the biggest stage in college football. If Marshall and Mason play well in an upset of FSU, their roles in Auburn’s magical run will be the focus of the sport during the offseason. This will be to their benefit in the Heisman race, as it will increase their Q rating with voters. One can reasonably expect both players to improve their numbers in 2014, especially given that they’ll be in their second year in Gus Malzahn’s system — the same system that helped Cam Newton produce a Heisman in 2010. If Auburn once again has a successful season and either Marshall or Mason are seen as the key protagonists in helping the Tigers get there, one of them could run away with the bronze statue.

Even if FSU wins, Marshall and Mason should join Mariota, Miller, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and UCLA’s Brett Hundley (if he returns) among the main preseason contenders for the 2014 Heisman. And Winston? Make no mistake about it, he’ll be in the mix as well, just like Manziel was this past year and Tebow was in 2008 and 2009. But for him to win again will require lightning to strike the same spot twice.

And if you are looking for some names out of the blue who might make a run at the Heisman next fall, here’s a list of five players (so far) who’ve raised their national profile the most by virtue of their bowl performances:

Jake Waters, Kansas State — He threw for 271 yards and three scores and added another 42 rushing yards against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. He could be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 next fall.

Cody Kessler, USC — The sophomore’s 345 yards and four touchdown passes in USC’s route of Fresno State in the Vegas Bowl showed he has the potential to have a highly-productive junior season.

Davis Webb, Texas Tech — Webb, a freshman, threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ upset of Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. You know he’s going to put up huge yardage in the Tech system next year.

Trevor Knight, Oklahoma — The redshirt freshman had his best game as a Sooner, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns in Oklahoma’s upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He could be one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in 2014.

Derrick Henry, Alabama — Sure, the Crimson Tide lost to OU, but the freshman tailback was electric, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on eight carries while also adding a 61-yard touchdown catch. It’s going to be hard to deny Henry carries next fall, even if the Alabama backfield is crowded.

Dwayne Wallace, Cal’s starting right guard, no longer with team

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Just a little over a month before the start of summer camp, Cal’s offensive line has taken what some might consider a rather significant hit.

In a very short and terse press release, the football program announced that “Dwayne Wallace is no longer associated with the school’s football program.”  No reason was given for what could be best described as an eyebrow-raising departure.

The first two years of the 6-5, 330-pound Wallace’s collegiate playing career were spent at the junior college level in Riverside, California.  He transferred to Cal in January of 2016.

In his first and what turned out to be only season with the Golden Bears, Wallace started nine of the 12 games in which he played.  Exiting spring practice, Wallace was firmly entrenched as Cal’s starting right guard.

With Wallace’s departure, Cal’s offensive line will now have four new starters for the 2017 season.

Ole Miss, Texas Tech to open 2018 season in Houston

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As opening weekend of the 2017 season grows larger and larger on the horizon, there’s some news for the same weekend the following year that’s been confirmed.

As expected, both Ole Miss and Texas Tech announced Friday morning that the two football teams will open the 2018 season at Houston’s NRG Stadium, home of the NFL’s Texans.  The game that will be a part of the annual Advocare Texas Kickoff series does not yet have a specific date or time for its kickoff.

The two programs have met in football five times previously, the first coming in 1986 and the last in the 2009 Cotton Bowl.  The Rebels hold a slight 3-2 edge in the miniseries.

“We are excited to be part of this great event and play a tradition-rich opponent like Texas Tech,” said Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork in a statement. “In our scheduling process, we seek out marquee matchups at premier venues, and this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our program on a grand stage. Houston and the state of Texas have become quite the hot bed for Rebel Nation, and we know our fans will continue our stellar reputation of supporting our team and filling up NRG Stadium.”

“We’re excited to return to Houston and take part in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff,” Bjork’s Tech counterpart, Kirby Hocutt, said. “The support of Red Raider Nation helped set a new Texas Bowl attendance record in our last trip to Houston, so we look forward to NRG Stadium being filled with scarlet and black once again to kick off the 2018 season.”

This year’s Advocare Texas Kickoff will feature LSU squaring off against BYU in Houston.

Scholarship offer for a 9-year-old? Nevada says sure, why not

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OK, this might be getting a little bit ridiculous. Check that — this is getting ridiculous.

Earlier this year, Lane Kiffin, long the king of way-too-early offers, further buttressed that reputation earlier this month when, just weeks after offering the seventh-grade son of Tee Martin, the Florida Atlantic head coach offered a scholarship to a quarterback who had just completed the sixth grade.  Earlier this month, Hawaii one-upped Kiffin by offering an 11-year-old who just completed the fifth grade.

At the time, we wrote, “Surely there’s not an offer to a kid still in elementary school in the offing.”

Nevada football: Hold my beer…

Welp.

Assuming young Mr. Finney just completed the fourth grade — fourth grade!!! — that would make him a member of the Class of 2026.  And you all thought that scheduling way-into-the-future home-and-home series was getting out of hand.

If nothing else, it has people talking about Nevada’s program at a time when not many are talking about college football in general and Wolf Pack football specifically.  Besides, what possible harm could come from entitling pre-teens with scholarship offers, right?

(Tip O’ the Cap: SBNation.com)

Edgar Poe’s starting WR brother leaving Army football team

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Guess you can say he’ll play for the service academy, nevermore.

According to Sal Interdonato of HudsonValley.com, Christian Poe is no longer on the Army football team.  No reason was given for the unexpected and abrupt departure.

Exiting the spring, Poe was one of the Black Knights’ two starting wide receivers.

Last season as a sophomore, Poe started two of the games in which he played.  His 10 receptions for 133 yards were both second on the Black Knights.

Army’s leading receiver in 2016?  Edgar Poe, Christian’s brother, who as a senior had 16 receptions for 336 yards as well as three of the Black Knights’ seven touchdown receptions on the season.  The Poe brothers also accounted for nearly half of the decidedly run-heavy football team’s 54 receptions.