Brett Hundley

Ranking the new college football match-ups of 2014

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According to the fine folks at FBSchedules.com, there will be six brand new college football match-ups debuting on the gridiron this fall. One of those will be a conference match-up and another will come as part of a conference scheduling agreement, while the other four are good, old-fashioned cross-regional games making for an attractive non-conference tilt. So, if you had to give them a power ranking, which would be the crème de la crème?

Here is my personal take, but feel free to rank these match-ups yourself in the comments below.

1. Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech (September 6)

Virginia Tech may not be quite the ACC power they once were, but the Hokies should be capable of giving Ohio State more than a good early test in non-conference play. The Buckeyes should be one of the favorites in the Big Ten and the boost from playing a solid Virginia Tech team could be a nice little boost in strength of schedule in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

2. Alabama vs. West Virginia (August 30, Chick-fil-A Kickoff)

Alabama returns to Atlanta, a city it has become very familiar with over the last few years. The Crimson Tide look to reload and establish a powerful presence against a West Virginia team looking to get the offense firing on all cylinders once again. Nick Saban vs. Dana Holgorsen is quite the contrast in coaching styles, and Saban’s Tide are looking to avoid losing a third straight game for the first time in a long time.

3. Notre Dame vs. Louisville (November 22)

Part of the ACC scheduling agreement with Notre Dame happens to land first-year member Louisville in South Bend in November. The Cardinals are a team that could get better as the season plays out in a year of transition, while Notre Dame could be looking to finish the season on a strong upswing. This one may not carry much influence in the playoff picture, but rankings could be at stake.

4. South Carolina vs. Texas A&M (August 28)

The lone conference match-up in this list will help kick off the entire college football season with a Thursday night game at South Carolina. It is a shame this game will not feature Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney, but Steve Spurrier‘s Gamecocks could get off to a strong start against a rebuilding Texas A&M team and take an early lead in the SEC East as a result.

5. Ole Miss vs. Boise State (August 28, Chick-fil-A Kickoff)

Boise State returns to Atlanta looking for another victory over an SEC team in the season opener. A couple of years ago it was Georgia, but now it is an Ole Miss team that appears to be moving upward in the world of college football. If the Rebels are going to be a legitimate force, a strong showing against a Boise State team under new leadership is certainly not a bad way to go.

6. Virginia vs. UCLA (August 30)

Last year Virginia was embarrassed at home by Oregon. This year another Pac-12 and potential playoff contender visits Charlottesville with UCLA coming across country to start the new season. This could quickly turn into a showcase for Brett Hundley and Myles Jack if Virginia does not come up with anything worth showing.

NCAA Division 1 Council turns down proposed June signing period

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 05:  A detail of giant NCAA logo is seen outside of the stadium on the practice day prior to the NCAA Men's Final Four at the Georgia Dome on April 5, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The fight for an early signing period will continue, but a proposed rule to open up a signing period in the month of June has been rejected by the NCAA’s Division 1 Council.

According to the Associated Press, the council modified the proposal for flexibility of the recruiting calendar. The June signing day proposal was removed after a recommendation from the NCAA’s football oversight committee. The stripping of the June signing period proposal was not to be unexpected, and the overall push for an early signing day continues with the focus shifting more to a period after the regular season but still before the typical February signing period.

While the proposed summer signing day may have been eliminated, the council will continue to leave the option of a possible December signing period on the table. A final vote on the December signing period is scheduled for April. The Collegiate Commissioners Association must approve the change before it can go into action. If the April vote allows for an early signing period, it could potentially be put in place for the Class of 2018, meaning high school players could begin signing with their desired college programs this December.

As a reminder, national signing day is the first Wednesday of each February, with this year’s signing day falling on February 1.

Northern Michigan OL Anthony Herbert passes away

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Northern Michigan offensive lineman Anthony Herbert has passed away following a workout Tuesday, the school has confirmed. He was 20.

Herbert is the second college football player to pass away in less than a week. His passing comes as Oregon has come under fire with three players hospitalized after a grueling workout, for which the Ducks’ strength coach has been suspended without pay for one month.

“Anthony’s passing is felt deeply by many,” NMU athletic director Forrest Karr said in a statement. “He made a positive impact on our campus and was everything we hope for in a student-athlete. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates, and we are focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”

Officials cited by ESPN state Herbert participated in a Tuesday workout, ate breakfast and returned to his dorm room, where he passed out. EMTs unsuccessfully attempted to revive him, and he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

“In my brief time with Anthony, I could tell that he was a great young man,” head coach Kyle Nystrom said. “He was well respected by his coaches and teammates and was a leader on the offensive line. We are devastated by this tragedy, and we are keeping his family in our prayers.”

A native of Lapeer, Mich., Herbert started every game at left guard as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. He was a member of the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.

Pac-12 announces 2017 schedule

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans scrambles prior to throwing a touchdown pass in the third quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Pac-12 announced its 2017 schedule on Wednesday, beginning with a New Mexico State-Arizona State/North Dakota-Utah double-header and ending with the conference title game, once again set for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on the first weekend of December.

The headliner is USC, the league’s presumed champion and best shot at snapping its 12-year streak without a national title, playing 12 consecutive games without a bye week. The Trojans open with home games against Western Michigan, Stanford and Texas, and play straight through their Nov. 18 finale against UCLA at the LA Coliseum.

Speaking of UCLA road games, the Bruins have a lot of them — and they’re all tough. They’ll go on the road to face Memphis, Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Utah (over a 6-day stretch) before their finale at USC. The Bruins also host Texas A&M and Oregon.

Washington’s title defense will begin with a trip to Colorado (after another pillow-soft non-conference schedule of Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State) along with a key stretch that requires a home game with Oregon followed by a trip to Stanford six days later.

For the full schedule, click here.

Washington QB Jake Browning reportedly undergoes surgery on throwing shoulder

PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 25:  Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies looks to pass against the Washington State Cougars in the first half of the 109th Apple Cup at Martin Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Pullman, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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Washington quarterback Jake Browning has undergone surgery on his throwing shoulder, according to a report from The Seattle Times.

The Times reports Browning injured his right shoulder during a 44-18 win over Arizona State on Nov. 18, though the exact nature of the injury is unknown. Washington kept the injury hidden during the season’s final stretch, as the Huskies claimed the Pac-12 championship and reached the College Football Playoff.

Browning played through the injury, hitting 21-of-29 passes for 292 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 45-17 drubbing of Washington State just six days later. Browning’s performance suffered from there, though. He hit only 9-of-24 passes for 118 yards (with two touchdowns and no picks) in a Pac-12 Championship win over Colorado, then completed 20-of-38 passes for 150 yards with a touchdown and two picks in a 24-7 loss to Alabama.

How much those subpar performances were caused by the injury or by the opponent — or, most likely, a combination of the two — will be left to mystery.

Browning was the nation’s second-most efficient passer in the month of September, No. 3 in October, No. 16 in November and No. 66 in December. He finished the year ranked seventh, hitting 62.1 percent of his tosses for 8.8 yards per attempt with 43 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

Huskies head coach Chris Petersen has a policy of not discussing injuries, but he let on to Brock Huard’s radio show earlier this month that Browning did not finish the season 100 percent.

“I do think he was fighting through some things as the season went on because he’s a tough guy,” Petersen told the show, via The Seattle Times. “We had to do some things. Let me say this: We’ve got some tough kids on our team. Those kids, they fight through some things, and we don’t talk about who’s hurt and all this stuff, but Jake’s a tough kid and I’ll just say that. He fought through some stuff.”

Browning’s recovery time is expected to be six weeks, the paper reports.