All-SEC First Team led by eight from Alabama

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Alabama was picked by the media as the conference favorite in 2014 for good reason. The amount of talent on Alabama’s roster is in a class of its own, which is put on display by the preseason all-SEC teams released on th final day of SEC Media Week. Alabama led the conference with eight players on the All-SEC First Team.

Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper received the most voting points of any offensive player in the media poll, with 282 points. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall was named to the first team with 241 points. Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon received 281 points for the top spot on the first team offense, but Georgia running back Todd Gurley received 280 points to receive first team honors as well.

Two defensive players from Alabama also received the highest voting totals for the defensive first team. Defensive back Landon Collins received 274 points, followed by linebacker Trey DePriest (253). Christion Jones received first team honors for special teams, giving Alabama eight total first team All-SEC players.

Here is the full breakdown of the preseason All-SEC teams, courtesy of TideSports.com;

2014 PRE-SEASON MEDIA DAYS ALL-SEC TEAM

(Total points earned in parenthesis)

OFFENSE

First-Team
QB Nick Marshall, Auburn (241)

RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (281)
RB Todd Gurley, Georgia (280)

WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (282)

WR Sammie Coates, Auburn (207)

TE O.J. Howard, Alabama (188)

OL La’el Collins, LSU (231)

OL Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (188)

OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (183)

OL Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (174)

C Reese Dismukes, Auburn (226)

Second-Team

QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (118)

RB Mike Davis, South Carolina (240)

RB Alex Collins, Arkansas (126)

WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (182)

WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (71)

TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn (141)

OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina (166)

OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (112)

OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (112)

OL Corey Robinson, South Carolina (107)

C Ryan Kelly, Alabama (126)

Third-Team

QB Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (94)

RB Corey Grant, Auburn (52)

RB Keith Marshall, Georgia (44)

WR Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State (67)

WR Marquez North, Tennessee (66)

TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas (72)

OL Austin Shepherd, Alabama (106)

OL Chad Slade, Auburn (101)

OL John Theus, Georgia (96)

OL Chaz Green, Florida (94)

C Evan Boehm, Missouri (77)

DEFENSE

First-Team

DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (239)

DL Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida (212)

DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (208)

DL Gabe Wright, Auburn (192)

LB Trey DePriest, Alabama (253)

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (186)

LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia (147)

DB Landon Collins, Alabama (274)

DB Vernon Hargreaves, III, Florida (243)

DB Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss (210)

DB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M (183)

Second-Team

DL Trey Flowers, Arkansas (181)

DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State (150)

DL Alvin “Bud” Dupree, Kentucky (134)

DL Markus Golden, Missouri (125)

LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State (143)

LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (137)

LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (116)

DB Robenson Therezie, Auburn (144)

DB Tre’Davious White, LSU (141)

DB Damian Swann, Georgia (127)

DB Tony Conner, Ole Miss (116)

Third-Team

DL Ray Drew, Georgia (102)

DL Montravius Adams, Auburn (94)

DL Carl Lawson, Auburn (87)

DL Jermauria Rasco, LSU (79)

LB Kwon Alexander, LSU (112)

LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (82)

LB Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss (76)

DB Jon Mincy, Auburn (99)

DB Corey Thompson, LSU (86)

DB Rashard Robinson, LSU (84)

DB Brison Williams, South Carolina (81)

SPECIALISTS

First-Team

P Drew Kaser, Texas A&M (221)

PK Marshall Morgan, Georgia (224)

RS Christion Jones, Alabama (262)

AP Christion Jones, Alabama (130)

Second-Team

P Sam Irwin-Hill, Arkansas (136)

PK Colby Delahoussaye, LSU (142)

RS Andre Debose, Florida (97)

AP Terrence Magee, LSU (111)

Third-Team
P Jamie Keehn, LSU (81)

PK Andrew Baggett, Missouri (103)

RS Marcus Murphy, Missouri (72)

AP Trey Williams, Texas A&M (89)

No. 25 Virginia Tech defeats Virginia for 14th straight year

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It’s been a long time since the last time Virginia handed their in-state rivals from Blacksburg a loss, and it will be at least another year more until they do so again. No. 25 Virginia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC) extended their winning streak against Virginia (6-6, 3-5 ACC) to 14 with a 10-0 win in Charlottesville on Friday night.

Josh Jackson‘s eight-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cunningham was the only touchdown scored in the game and padded a lead to 10-0 for Virginia Tech in the third quarter. A week after making big plays for a half against Miami, Virginia’s offense was finding little opportunity with the football. Virginia Tech held the hosts to fewer than 200 yards of offense.

The last time Virginia Tech lost to Virginia was in 2003. The Cavaliers upset the No. 21 Hokies 35-21 with a 28-7 advantage in the second half. Virgina Tech’s shutout of Virginia was the third shutout victory in the series for the Hokies since 2006, all with Bud Foster as defensive coordinator.

Both Virginia Tech and Virginia will be participating in the bowl season this year. What bowl games that are heading to remains to be determined.

Iowa clobbers Nebraska in what appears to be end of the road for Mike Riley

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The Iowa Hawkeyes have been one of the weirdest teams to figure out this season. On Friday, the Hawkeye faithful were thankful the good Iowa showed up in Lincoln. Iowa (7-5, 4-5 Big Ten) blasted Nebraska (4-8, 306 Big Ten) on the strength of a 28-point outburst in the third quarter of a 56-14 victory over the Huskers. For Nebraska, it was a fitting end to a disappointing season and perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the Mike Riley era in Lincoln.

Iowa became the third team to win three straight games played in Lincoln, Nebraska in the last 40 years. Oklahoma and Texas are the only two programs to pull off that once-unthinkable feat. But since Nebraska joined the Big Ten and paired up with Iowa for a regular season rivalry in the Big Ten schedule, the Hawkeyes have enjoyed their trips to Nebraska. This just happened to be the biggest blowout in the Big Ten series, and it came one year after Iowa blew out Nebraska by a 40-10 score the previous season. For those counting at home, Nebraska has now lost two straight games to Iowa by a combined score of 96-34.

Nebraska managed to show some fight late in their road game at Penn State last week, but Iowa was having none of that this week. The Hawkeyes out-gained Nebraska 505-267 in offensive yardage and Iowa forced three Nebraska turnovers while picking up 23 first downs and allowing just 12. Nebraska went the entire second half without scoring a point, while Iowa went on a roll. This game was tied 14-14 at halftime, believe it or not.

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley took over the game for the Hawkeyes. Wadley rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns, with two of those scores coming in the third quarter.

Iowa will now go to a bowl game, while Nebraska is tasked with figuring out what to do next. Unlike at Arkansas, where the plug was pulled on Bret Bielema minutes after losing a regular season finale at home, Mike Riley is still employed by Nebraska. But for how much longer? Rumors about where Nebraska is going next continue to swirl, with UCF head coach Scott Frost being a trendy name to attach to the Nebraska job (Frost just completed an undefeated 11-0 season at UCF), but there has been no official change just yet in Lincoln.

But with an AD change this year and the way this season devolved, Riley’s days are all but over in Lincoln.

No. 15 UCF remains perfect after wild win over USF clinches AAC East

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I’ll allow you to try catching your breath before we try to recap exactly what happened in the final minutes of the War on I-4 between two AAC championship contenders. No. 15 UCF (11-0, 8-0 AAC) came out on the positive end of a wild and crazy ending to keep the regular season spotless in the loss column. UCF scored a go-ahead touchdown, gave up a tying touchdown, scored the game-winning touchdown and recovered a late fumble to close the books on a 49-42 victory over rival USF (9-2, 6-2 AAC) in the span of just two minutes.

UCF and USF combined for over 1,100 yards of offense in the back-and-forth game, but UCF scored three touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters to get off to a fast start and find a way to grab the game by the horns and drive it home. McKinzie Milton passed for 373 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 56 yards and a score to help the Knights outlast a valiant effort from Quinton Flowers and a record-setting day for USF wide receiver Tyre McCants. Flowers passed for 503 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 102 yards and a score. McCants broke the USF record for most receiving yards in a game in the first half, but ended his day with 227 yards.

USF had their opportunities to win this game. The Bulls missed a field goal in the first half and Flowers threw his only interception late in the first half when it appeared the Bulls could have taken a lead into halftime. The fumble by Mitchell Wilcox came at the end of a play that was moving the ball across midfield in the final moments. USF, the preseason favorite in the AAC, will still be going to a bowl game and should be a threat to whomever they face, but two losses along the way prevented them from living up to the lofty expectations placed on them this season.

UCF will host Memphis in the AAC Championship Game next week. The winner of that game will be nearly guaranteed a spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up as both teams are currently the highest-ranked teams in the playoff selection committee’s weekly rankings. UCF defeated Memphis earlier in the season with a 40-13 victory in Orlando, but the Tigers have been playing much better since that game. The rematch should be much more competitive next week.

UCF wrapped up a perfect regular season on the same day No., 2 Miami suffered its first loss of the year. UCF is now the only undefeated team in the state of Florida this season.

Arkansas dismisses Bret Bielema as head coach

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Well, that didn’t take very long at all. Or, for some Arkansas fans, maybe it took too long.

Arkansas has officially parted ways with Bret Bielema as head coach of the Razorbacks. The official announcement was made minutes after Arkansas ended their regular season with a home loss to Missouri, with a press conference scheduled for Friday evening.

“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Razorback Football program,” interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples said in a statement. “During the course of the past five seasons, we have not been able to sustain the success on the field that is expected and required at the University of Arkansas.

“There is no question that Coach Bielema has been a valued and respected member of our department and has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes, including supporting them in their pursuit of graduation. We are grateful for his contributions to our program and most importantly his investment in the lives of our student-athletes. We wish him the very best both personally and professionally.

“Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally. I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nation’s best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”

Bielema came to Arkansas with as solid reputation as you could find at the time at the end of the 2012 season. After guiding Wisconsin to a third-straight Rose Bowl appearance (Bielema left Wisconsin prior to coaching the third Rose Bowl in that run), Bielema was expected to be able to bring a model of consistent winning to the Arkansas program. Bielema claimed he made the decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas because he would have a better chance to compete for a national championship with the Razorbacks, but the wins never piled up the way he and Arkansas leaders and fans envisioned.

In five years at Arkansas, Bielema was 29-24 with an even more lopsided result in SEC play over the years. In 2017, Arkansas finished the year with a second losing season under Bielema, and late in the season the school also fired the man who originally hired Bielema, former athletics director Jeff Long.

Arkansas joins Florida, Tennessee, and Ole Miss among SEC schools now looking for a new head coach.