Skip to content

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: 12-Pack of Top Games

The Swami AP

In 17 days — 16 if you’re a degenerate like me who counts Abilene Christian at Georgia State the day before — the 2014 college football season kicks off, with all eyes focused on Texas A&M, playing its first game without Johnny Manziel under center since 2011, traveling to Columbia to face what could very well be the best team Steve Spurrier‘s had in what will be his 10th season at South Carolina.

As we have been and will continue doing throughout the month of August, CFT trudges on with previews of the upcoming season, with the 12 games that could have the biggest impact on both key conference races and the national landscape.  Said national landscape will include, for the first-time ever, a College Football Playoff.  Of course, the reality once we get into the season can change greatly from the preseason perceptions — see: 2013 Auburn Tigers — but the following 12-pack should form some sort of solid guide through what’s certain to be yet another eventful season in the great game of college football.

So, without further ado and for your reading pleasure, here’s a sampling of some of the top games on the 2014 slate.  And, as always, you can whine/bitch/moan in the comment section that your team was snubbed…

TEXAS A&M AT SOUTH CAROLINA, AUG. 28
LAST MEETING: First meeting
SERIES RECORD: 0-0
THE SKINNY: This contest has a handful of firsts going for it.  Most importantly to the business side of the conference, it will be the first-ever football game televised on the fledgling SEC Network, a network that’s expected to drop tens of millions of dollars annually into the coffers of each conference member.  Additionally, as noted above, it’s the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.  And finally, both the Aggies and Gamecocks will be breaking in new starting quarterbacks for the first time in two and two-plus years, respectively, with the former going with (Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen) and the latter Dylan Thompson.  While neither Hill nor Allen have started a game at the collegiate level, Thompson at least has some experience in that capacity — he’s 3-0 in his career as a starter replacing Connor Shaw, and has thrown passes in 20 of the games in which he’s played the past three years.  Even as the Aggies will face a deficit in experience at the most important position on the field, it’s not their most pressing concern as Kevin Sumlin could probably throw you or I in at quarterback and still put up 30-plus per game.  Rather, it’s the defense that should cause the most consternation, especially facing a running back as talented as Mike Davis.  A defense that was suspect throughout 2013 is even more so in 2014, with attrition via dismissals, graduation, etc.  This game could be the beginning of an uneven season in College Station, which would be the first since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: South Carolina 41, Texas A&M 27

WISCONSIN VS. LSU IN HOUSTON, AUG. 30
LAST MEETING: Sept. 30, 1972, a 27-7 LSU win in Baton Rouge
SERIES RECORD: LSU leads 2-0
THE SKINNY: Any time teams from the Big Ten and SEC meet it’s a big deal, especially when it’s two programs that have been at or near the top of their respective conferences for the past few years.  At least football-wise, this game is the dictionary definition of unstoppable force vs. immovable object: the Tigers will bring their always-stout run defense ( 35th nationally, third in SEC in 2013) into the neutral site affair against a Badgers football that thrives on running the football (8th in rushing offense) and would much rather take a pair of steel-toed boots to the groin than pass it (93rd in passing offense).  Perhaps most importantly, especially as far as fans are concerned, this game will give the winning league bragging rights until bowl season as this marks the only marquee match-up between the Big Ten and SEC during the regular season.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: LSU 24, Wisconsin 17

MICHIGAN STATE AT OREGON, SEPT. 6
LAST MEETING: Sept. 2, 1999, a 27-20 Michigan State win in East Lansing
SERIES RECORD: Tied at 2-2
THE SKINNY: There might not be a game this season featuring a pair of teams that are such extreme polar opposites of one another.  The Spartans’ 2013 success was predicated on a physical, dominating defense complemented by a methodical and productive rushing attack, with the passing game managing games and putting up big numbers when necessary.  The Ducks are the antithesis of the Spartans.  UO is a balls-to-the-wall, pedal-mashed-to-the-floor offense that is equally adept — and deadly — at running or passing the football.  Oh, and the Ducks can play some defense as well, as evidenced by the fact that they finished 13th nationally in scoring defense last season (MSU was third).  This game has the potential to be one of the more fascinating matchups for the upcoming season, and it’s probably the non-conference game that I’m looking at with the most anticipation — even as I foresee a blowout in Eugene for the East Lansing boys.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Oregon 48, Michigan State 27

GEORGIA AT SOUTH CAROLINA, SEPT. 13
LAST MEETING: Sept,. 7, 2013, a 41-30 Georgia win in Athens
SERIES RECORD: Georgia leads 47-17-2
THE SKINNY: After being unceremoniously shoved to the side by Missouri last season, the Bulldogs and Gamecocks are once again expected to be the cream of the SEC East crop.  And, because of that, this game will go a long way in determining just who will represent the division in the SEC championship game against their West counterparts.  USC has won three of the last four in the series, with the lone blemish being the 11-point loss in Athens last season.  This year, and as is the case throughout the conference, both teams will be breaking in new starting quarterbacks.  The Gamecocks’ situation is a little different from most, though, as Dylan Thompson is a very seasoned backup with nearly two dozen games played and three starts. Hutson Mason, meanwhile, got a taste of what it’s like to be a starter in the SEC as he took over under center for the injured Aaron Murray the last two and a half games and performed well, throwing for over 800 yards and four touchdowns in that stretch.  The good news for both is that they will have very talented and accomplished running backs at their disposal, Mike Davis for the Gamecocks and Todd Gurley for the Bulldogs.  How those two go, so should their respective teams as this game could be a rarity these days: one that’s determined in large part by the running game.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: South Carolina 34, Georgia 21

UCLA AT ARIZONA STATE, SEPT. 27
LAST MEETING: Nov. 23, 2013, a 38-33 Arizona State win in Tempe
SERIES RECORD: UCLA 18-11-1
THE SKINNY: For everything that Oregon-Stanford is as far as the Pac-12 North is concerned, Arizona State-UCLA is fast becoming the same for the South.  Like 2013 when ASU tripped up UCLA to help stake its claim to a spot in the conference championship game, 2014 should be no different.  Both teams will feature very experienced and extremely talented quarterbacks, Taylor Kelly for the Sun Devils and Brett Hundley.  Both could, or even should, be in the thick of the Heisman chase when this game rolls around, which would be a testament to both their individual performances and their team’s success.  The Bruins, though, easily return the most talent with 18 starters (eight each on offense and defense to go along with both kickers) coming back while the Sun Devils return just 10, including a paltry two on the defensive side of the ball.  Is that advantage, along with being at home this around, be enough to put the Bruins back in the title game?  Time will tell, although USC may have a little something to say about the latter before it’s all said and done.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: UCLA 48, Arizona State 38

OREGON AT UCLA, OCT. 11
LAST MEETING: Oct. 26, 2013, a 42-14 Oregon win in Eugene
SERIES RECORD: UCLA leads 39-27
THE SKINNY: Depending on how things play out, this very well could be a preview of the Pac-12 championship game.  The Bruins’ loss to the Ducks last year, the second of back-to-back conference losses, all but handed the South division to Arizona State.  Getting UO in Los Angeles should make the task a little less treacherous, but not much as the Ducks are expected to be the class of the league and the odds-on favorite to represent the Pac-12 in the College Football Playoff.  Last season’s win was Oregon’s fifth straight in the series; a sixth straight could further push the Ducks toward their ultimate postseason goal, while snapping that skein would go a long way in helping the Bruins get back to the top of the conference — and perhaps climbing back on to the national stage for the first time in a very, very long time.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Oregon 49, UCLA 31

STANFORD AT OREGON, NOV. 1
LAST MEETING: Nov. 7, 2013, a 26-20 Oregon win in Stanford
SERIES RECORD: Stanford leads 43-30-1
THE SKINNY: In all three years of the Pac-12 championship game, either the Cardinal or the Ducks have been the North’s representative — 2012 and 2013 for the former, 2011 for the latter.  That’s not expected to change in Year 4 as both teams are, once again, the class of the division.  UO, in fact, may end up being the class of college football at year’s end.  Both teams return a ton of starters, 15 (nine on offense) coming back for the Ducks and 14 (seven on defense) for the Cardinal.  Four of the starters who don’t return to The Farm, however, come from the offensive line, so David Shaw and his offensive staff have to hope the new players plugged in have gelled into a cohesive unit by the time this game rolls around.  Even if that happens, can the Cardinal keep pace with a high-powered offense triggered by Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota?  The answer was resounding “hell yes!!!” in 2013; whether that’s the case in 2014 will go a long way in determining which team takes this game — and which team likely punches its ticket to another conference championship game.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Oregon 41, Stanford 27

ALABAMA AT LSU, NOV. 8
LAST MEETING: Nov. 9, 2013, a 38-17 Alabama win in Tuscaloosa
SERIES RECORD: Alabama leads 48-25-5
THE SKINNY: This one of those games where, when the schedule comes out, you always check to see when it will be played.  For all of the hype it receives, however, it’s been a bit lopsided of sorts of late, at least results-wise.  The Tide was won three straight in the series, including the BCS title game following the 2012 season and a blowout win last year.  There are very few certainties in college football, but here’s one you can just about chisel in stone: there won’t be many points scored when the two teams clash in Tuscaloosa in early November.  Thanks to what’s ofttimes a pair of suffocating defenses, just once has a team scored more than 30 points — the Tide in its 38-17 win last year — in the last eight meetings.  In the last thirteen meetings, one or both of the teams failed to score at least 20 points a whopping 10 times.  The microcosm of the series?  The 9-6 Battle of the Kickers in 2011 that was the epitome of the defensive duels between the two SEC West programs.  As both teams reload their respective defenses the way most people change their underwear, and both offenses will be manned by first-year starters at quarterback, it should be lather, rinse, repeat on the defensive front once again.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Alabama 24, LSU 14

OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN STATE, NOV. 8
LAST MEETING: Dec. 7, 2013, a 34-24 Michigan State win in Indianapolis (Big Ten title game)
SERIES RECORD: Ohio State leads 28-14
THE SKINNY: This will easily be the most anticipated Big Ten game of the year, with the Buckeyes looking to avenge a double-digit “upset” loss to the Spartans in the Big Ten championship game.  A loss, incidentally, that both ended No. 2 OSU’s 24-game losing streak and knocked the Buckeyes out of a likely spot in the BCS title game against Florida State.  As was the case last season, one key in this year’s game will be MSU’s stifling defense’s ability to contain Braxton Miller.  While the OSU quarterback did rush for 142 and a pair of touchdowns, he was held to a paltry 8-of-21 passing for just 101 yards.  Connor Cook, on the other hand, riddled a porous Buckeyes pass defense for 304 yards and three touchdowns.  Throw in Jeremy Langford‘s 128 yards rushing, and MSU was able to flip a 24-17 deficit late in the third quarter to a 10-point win that propelled the Spartans into the Rose Bowl.  So, yes, “revenge” will be a key storyline heading into this game — along with MSU looking to prove yet again that it belongs on the national stage.  And one more tidbit: thanks to the additions of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten and subsequent shifts in the divisions, this game will now likely be a contest for East supremacy and a spot in the conference championship game.  Just a little bit on the line in this game, in other words.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Ohio State 27, Michigan State 24

BAYLOR AT OKLAHOMA, NOV. 8
LAST MEETING: Nov. 7, 2013, a 41-12 Baylor win in Waco
SERIES RECORD: Oklahoma leads 20-2
THE SKINNY: The Sooners have absolutely owned the Bears for the whole of the series, but the tide is certainly shifting.  After losing the first 17 meetings to OU — all but three by 12 points or more, and 11 by 20-plus points — BU has won two of the last three.  Included in that total was last year’s evisceration, a 29-point beatdown in early November that signaled the  Bears were the team to beat in the Big 12.  Can that trend continue?  If it does, it’ll do so with some new pieces in place.  The Bears must replace seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, including a pair of first-team All-Big 12 performers and three members of its secondary.  Bryce Petty is still Bryce Petty and Art Briles‘ offense is still Art Briles’ offense, so the Bears will maintain the ability to outscore most of the defensive liabilities it may possess.  On the flip side, the Sooners return 14 starters, including quarterback Trevor Knight.  Whether that’s a positive or a negative remains to be seen as no one knows which Knight will show up: the one who struggled to hold on to his job throughout the season or the one who strafed Alabama’s defense in the Sugar Bowl.  The answer to that question will go a long way in determining who wins this game and, as a result, who controls the Big 12 and a likely spot in the College Football Playoff.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Baylor 38, Oklahoma 35

AUBURN AT ALABAMA, NOV. 29
LAST MEETING: Nov. 30, 2013, a 34-28 Auburn win in Auburn
SERIES RECORD: Alabama leads 42-35-1
THE SKINNY: The annual Iron Bowl grudge/hate match would make this type of list year-in and year-out.  After last year?  This one comes in at or near the top of the 2014 version of these lists.  Of course, I’m referring to the most memorable play of the 2013 season, “The Kick-Six” at Jordan-Hare that stunned the Tide and propelled the Tigers into the SEC championship game and, ultimately, the BCS title game.  The questions entering the season for AU are twofold: one, can they replace 1,800-yard rusher Tre’ Mason and, two, how many more miracles does Gus Malzahn & Company have tucked into their hip pockets?  The Tide has its own questions to answer as well, not the least of which is just who will replace three-year starter AJ McCarron under center.  The knowns, though are that AU will have Nick Marshall, who’s expected to do nothing but get better in his second season as a starting quarterback, while UA will have what’s become an annual twin tradition under Nick Saban: a punishing rushing attack with its stable of backs to go along with a physical, suffocating defense.  This year’s version may not match the drama of last year’s, but it’s still compelling, must-see TV.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Alabama 38, Auburn 31

MICHIGAN AT OHIO STATE, NOV. 29
LAST MEETING: Nov. 30, 2013, a 42-41 Ohio State win in Ann Arbor
SERIES RECORD: Michigan leads 58-45-6
THE SKINNY: Regardless of the records or prospects of either or both teams, The Game is and always will be a destination event for college football viewers.  While the Wolverines have owned the overall series, it’s the Buckeyes who’ve owned That School Up North this century as OSU has won (on the field) nine of the last 10 and 11 of the last 13.  Both teams will enter the season with question marks littering the offensive line, with the Buckeyes needing to replace four starters while the Wolverines, which had significant issues in that group last year, must replace an All-American tackle and the starter on the other side as well.  Where this game may be won or lost is at the quarterback position, which bodes well for OSU.  Braxton Miller, the reigning two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, returns and looks to take his game to the next level as a senior, while the Wolverines will go with either the inconsistent, turnover-prone Devin Gardner or the unproven Shane Morris.  Decided advantage, OSU.  If the Buckeyes can cure its secondary woes, woes that are directly to blame for its two-game losing streak to end last season, they should have little problem in dispatching their bitter rivals and possibly continuing on a Big Ten/CFP title run.
THE WAY-TOO-EARLY PREDICTION: Ohio State 45, Michigan 31

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Alabama Crimson Tide, Arizona State Sun Devils, Articles, Auburn Tigers, Baylor Bears, Big 12 Conference, Big Ten Conference, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oregon Ducks, Pac-12 Conference, Rumor Mill, South Carolina Gamecocks, Southeastern Conference, Stanford Cardinal, Texas A&M Aggies, Top Posts, UCLA Bruins, Wisconsin Badgers
yo

TBDBITL set to invade London… on NFL’s dime

TBDBITL

For the first time ever, an audience abroad will get to witness firsthand the magnificence that is The Best Damn Band in the Land.

Thursday, it was announced that the Ohio State University Marching Band will perform prior to the Oct. 25 Buffalo-Jacksonville game at London’s Wembley Stadium.

“We’re fortunate to have an international reputation thanks to shows that have gone viral on video or received widespread media attention,” interim band director Christopher Hoch said in a statement. “It will be a real thrill to have a chance to perform for the people of London.

“The NFL has requested a London-themed show, but left the creative elements up to us. We are planning a very special and exciting performance.”

OSU also noted in its release that “[t]he NFL will cover all of the band’s travel costs for the London trip.” Not noted in the release is that the appearance of TBDBITL will at least give those American football fans in attendance something worthwhile on the field to watch… especially if “Script Ohio” is part of the program.

 

(Photo credit: NFL UK)

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

Renewing Backyard Brawl one of WVU AD’s ‘top priorities’

Just last week, new Pittsburgh athletic director Scott Barnes was labeling the continuation of the in-state rivalry with Penn State “a priority.”

For Barnes’ counterpart at West Virginia, the resumption of one of the most intense rivalries in college football sits at or near the top of his to-do list.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, WVU AD Shane Lyons confirmed that he and Barnes have resumed talks on possibly restarting the Backyard Brawl.  The Pitt-WVU series went on hiatus after the 2011 season when WVU moved from the Big East to the Big 12 and, a year later, Pitt from the same conference to the ACC.

It’s one of my top priorities in scheduling,” Lyons said in an interview Monday with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think it’s a great thing for us as a university, it’s a great thing for Pitt and it’s a great thing for college football as a whole.”

While its tremendous that the two rivals are talking about renewing the series, it’s extremely doubtful that any resumption would take place prior to the 2018 season as both Pitt’s and WVU’s non-conference schedules in 2016 and 2017 are filled.  It’s also possible that the 2022 season would be the first to see a revival.

Beyond the 2017 season, WVU, which plays just three non-conference games a year because of the nine-game Big 12 slate, already has two games annually scheduled against Power Five programs in 2018 (Tennessee, North Carolina State), 2019 (Missouri, North Carolina State) and 2021 (Maryland Virginia Tech). Pitt also has two non-conference games scheduled against Power Five teams in 2018 (Penn State, Notre Dame).

The 2020 season could be a possibility for a one-year resumption as both schools have just one Power Five game currently on the agenda, WVU vs. Maryland and Pitt vs. Notre Dame.  Outside of 2020, though, it could be at least seven years down the road before a resumption actually comes to fruition.

The good news for fans of the rivalry, though, is that both sides are at least willing to discuss the possibility of getting back together again.

“I’ll continue those conversations with Scott and see where it heads,” Lyons said. “Obviously, he’s only been on the job for a couple of weeks now, but we did have a preliminary discussion of saying ‘Hey, I’d like to talk to you about scheduling.’ He was open to talking about scheduling, so it’s just a matter of getting both schools to sit down and look at what we have and what they have open and trying to make something work.”

The Mountaineers and Panthers have squared off 104 times on the gridiron, with the first coming 1895.  The last came Nov. 25, 2011, a 21-20 WVU win in Morgantown.  Pitt, though, holds the all-time series lead at 61-40-3.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Reports: Braxton Miller to remain a Buckeye

150702_BraxtonMiller Getty Images

Following up on a non-story story, we have some unofficially official confirmation.  Or something.

Over the last 24 hours or so, quite the ruckus was kicked up after Braxton Miller, though the Columbus Dispatch, announced that he would be revealing his “immediate plans” for his football future at some point next week.  That kicked the rumor mill into overdrive again, with some taking the non-specific nature of the information to mean that the Ohio State quarterback could possibly be transferring.

ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad tossed the first bucket of cold water on the most recent round of speculation…

… before the Dispatch played fireman in a story posted online a short time later:

Quarterback Braxton Miller will not transfer from Ohio State, a source close to him told The Dispatch this afternoon.

Miller, who told The Dispatch yesterday that he will speak to the media soon, will simply address the progress of his rehabilitation and the upcoming season, the source said.

So there you have it. Of course, that won’t stop the speculation on his future from brewing — and growing — between now and whenever Miller releases an official proclamation.

Also, there’s this: all of the drama would go away if Miller revealed his “immediate plans,” ya know, right now. If he’s staying at OSU, why not just come out and state it right now?

Whatever the motive for the delay, all it does is provide additional fuel for those seeking to add to a transfer fire.  At the very least, it’s a news oasis in the midst of the offseason desert.  Woohoo?

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

Sooners attempt to put to rest Baker Mayfield rotator cuff rumors

Baker Mayfield

It appears that, in the end, it’s much ado about nothing.  Probably.

Earlier this week, a report surfaced that Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was not a participant in 7-on-7 offseason workouts because of “an apparent shoulder injury.”  Specifically, an OU-specific Football Sickness website reported by was of “two independent sources,” “Mayfield’s absence from recent workouts is in fact related to a rotator cuff injury with his throwing shoulder.

A short time later, Guerin Emig of Tulsa World tweeted that a “[w]ell-connected source says Sooners QB has sore shoulder, no rotator cuff damage.” Wednesday night, the Sooners took the same social media site to further put cold water on the speculation surrounding Mayfield’s health.

Mayfield, a transfer from Texas Tech who was forced to sit out the 2014 season, and Trevor Knight, the 2014 starter, are viewed as the front-runners to claim the starting job this season. Neither grabbed a hold of the position exiting spring, however, so the competition will extend into summer camp.

Four-star 2013 signee Cody Thomas, the No. 2 quarterback a year ago, is also at least on the periphery of the competition, and could find himself in the middle of the positional fray before all is said and done.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Braxton Miller to reveal plans for future next week

Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller AP

Here we go again.

Just yesterday, Urban Meyer was addressing the medical status of Braxton Miller moving forward.  Around the same time, Miller took to Twitter to give a positive update on the health of this throwing shoulder, the dinged wing that forced him to miss the entire 2014 season and opened the door for J.T. Barrett and, ultimately, Cardale Jones to shine.  And to create a three-man quarterback competition — or will it be a three-man?

First, Miller’s tweet that eventually got the rumor mill cranked up again:

That was fine, until the Columbus Dispatch asked via the social media website what that update meant for his future. “In response to a question from The Dispatch about what it means for his future, Miller wrote back that he expects to announce his immediate plans next week,” Tim May of the Columbus newspaper wrote.

And that was all it took to get the transfer speculation — some would label it ridiculous — renewed anew. The man connected to Alabama and Florida State and Oregon in transfer rumors months ago is now the subject of yet another round of speculation thanks to eight little words: “expects to announce his immediate plans next week.”

Miller himself stated in late January at a celebration for Ohio State’s 2014 national championship that “we’ve got another year.” His head coach, on more than one occasion, emphatically stated Miller will return for his senior season, as has his head coach and athletic director. The latter, in fact, reemphasized that stance just today.

If Miller did indeed decide to transfer from the Buckeyes for what will be his final season of college football, wouldn’t it have made sense for him to do it before spring practice? Sure, he couldn’t have participated because of the ongoing rehab to his injured shoulder, but he could’ve begun the process of absorbing an entirely new offense and get acclimated to his new situation. Now we’re supposed to believe that, a month before the start of summer camp, Miller would all of a sudden jump to another program?

That dog don’t hunt.

11Warriors.com is arguably the best and most comprehensive OSU website on the Internet; I’m going to go with their line of thinking on this latest Miller speculation.

UPDATED 2:06 p.m. ET: Instead of an entirely new post, I’ll just go ahead and and toss this latest piece of speculation in right here.

Permalink 10 Comments Back to top

The Pitts: T.J. Clemmings’ replacement out for all of 2015

Duke v Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh already knew that they would have to replace All-ACC offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings.  Now, the Panthers will have to find a replacement for the replacement.

According to a school press release. Jaryd Jones-Smith will miss the entire 2015 season with a significant injury to his right knee. The offensive tackle sustained the injury during an offseason conditioning session.

As Jones-Smith has already utilized his redshirt season, he will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

“We are incredibly disappointed for Jaryd,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “Our entire team will rally behind him as he works to overcome this challenge. Jaryd is a great young man and a tough competitor. Even though he is sidelined this year, he is going to remain an important member of our team this fall.”

A three-star member of Pitt’s 2013 recruiting class coming out of high school in Philadelphia, Jones-Smith took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He then started three of the 13 games he played in 2014, with that trio of starts coming at left tackle.

Prior to the injury, he was widely projected to be the Panthers’ starting right tackle.

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

Arrested Utah CB allegedly robbed man at knifepoint

Kyle Whittingham

And now we know (a little more) of the rest of the story.

Wednesday, reports surfaced that Utah defensive back Dominique Hatfield had been arrested for investigation of aggravated robbery.  At the time, there were no details of what led to the arrest.  Now, there are, and, suffice to say, it doesn’t paint Hatfield in a very positive light.  At all.

It’s alleged that Hatfield, under the alias “David Wilkins,” placed an ad online looking to sell an Xbox.  A man responded to the ad and met Hatfield/Wilkins at a Salt Lake City car wash when “the suspect produced a knife and demanded the victim’s money. The victim complied and gave the suspect cash. The suspect then fled on foot,” police stated according to the Deseret News.

Hatfield/Wilkins made off with $180.

But wait, there’s more (stupidity):

A short time later, the victim arranged for his wife to call Hatfield back and inquiry about buying a phone he was also selling, the report stated. They arranged to meet at the same place her husband was robbed, only this time Unified police officers were also there waiting. They watched as Hatfield walked from the apartment complex to the car wash, the jail report stated.

“UPD was present and when the suspect arrived he was taken into custody without incident. The victim positively identified Dominique Hatfield as the suspect who had robbed him earlier,” Hoyal said.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham, as well as the rest of his coaching staff, is currently on vacation and is unavailable for comment.  It’s highly likely, though, that the player will be indefinitely suspended pending the legal process playing itself out.

Hatfield/Wilkins started 10 games at cornerback for the Utes last season.

Permalink 5 Comments Back to top

Akron the new home for ex-Louisville WR Michaelee Harris

Central Florida v Louisville Getty Images

With his injury-plagues time at Louisville at an end, Michaelee Harris is hoping his move to the MAC will bring him better fortune.

Mark Blankenbaker of TheCrunchZone.com reported earlier this week that Harris has decided to continue his collegiate playing career for Terry Bowden at Akron.  And, because he will be a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately for the Zips in 2015.

Harris came to the Cardinals with much promises, but health issues — specifically, knee issues — mostly derailed the lofty expectations.

A four-star member of the UofL’s 2010 recruiting class, Harris was rated as the No. 16 receiver in the country; the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 121 player overall according to Rivals.com.  Harris, though, missed all of his true freshman season with a knee injury.  In March of 2011, he tore a PCL in his knee during winter workouts, although he returned to lead the Cardinals in receptions (37) and receiving yards (455) during the regular season.

However, he missed his team’s bowl game with a torn ACL.  Then, in August of 2012, he sustained another torn ACL during summer camp and missed that entire season.

He stayed relatively healthy the past two seasons, catching 15 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns before the production dipped to 9-113-1.

As he missed two full seasons because of injury, he was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Braxton, Barrett closing in on full health, Urban says

J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller

As each day passes, it appears more and more likely that, barring a setback, all three of the combatants in Ohio State’s much-discussed quarterback competition will be fully healthy for the start of summer camp a month from now.

The latest update on the health of Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett comes courtesy of the man who will pull the trigger on a final decision, Urban Meyer.  At an Ohio football camp Wednesday, and amidst questions on naming a starter that he wasn’t even going to remotely entertain, the OSU head coach indicated both players are moving toward 100-percent health.

“The only thing that’s different is Braxton is pretty close to full speed,” Meyer said of Miller according to the Columbus Dispatch.

“J.T., I’d probably say, is 95 percent,” Meyer said, adding, “[t]hat was the biggest thing, [getting] them all healthy and get them ready to go.”

While Meyer stopped short of firmly stating that both will be 100-percent healthy for the start of camp early next month, that appears to be the direction each is headed. If/when both rejoin the fray — Miller didn’t participate in spring practice because of the shoulder injury that cost him all of 2014, while Barrett was limited because of the leg injury that cost him the postseason run — they’ll join postseason hero Cardale Jones in a competition that the staff hopes will end somewhere around mid-August.

Unless they just decide to take the advice of Barrett’s dad, that is.

Permalink 5 Comments Back to top

Likely starting Utah CB arrested in connection to robbery

Utah v Washington State

A member of the Utah football program is the latest college player to hold the “honor” of resetting the “Days Without An Arrest” meter back to double zeroes.

While details are extremely scant at the moment, the Deseret News is reporting that Dominique Hatfield has been arrested for investigation of aggravated robbery. Other than for what he was arrested, no specifics have been made available.

A school spokesperson told the News that the entire coaching staff is out of town and she only knows what she’s seen reported by the media. The paper did write that “in matters like this she said the school typically will let the legal system run its course, and the U. may have more to say once head coach Kyle Whittingham returns from vacation.”

If this legal situation affects Hatfield’s ability to get on the field in 2015, it would have a significant impact on the Utes’ defense.

Hatfield actually began his Utah career as a wide receiver, spending all of 2013 (four receptions, 84 yards) and one game in 2014 (1-9) before moving to the secondary for the second game of the 2014 season.  From then on, Hatfield started 10 of the 13 games at cornerback.

He exited spring practice as one of the likely starting corners.

Permalink 4 Comments Back to top

PHOTOS: Vols new Nike duds are actually quite nice and classy

Nike Vols

One day after Phil Knight announced he will be stepping down as the chairman of Nike, the apparel giant added a new college to its expanding family.  And, unlike they have done with some other schools, they kept it classy for one of the most historical significant football programs in the country.

Following up on months of speculation on just what they would look like, Tennessee revealed Wednesday its new uniforms across the board after ditching long-time supplier adidas and signing a financially-hefty agreement with rival Nike.  The agreement, which will include Nike providing uniforms for all of UT’s men’s and women’s sports,  is said to be worth $24 million over the life of the eight-year contract.

Below are a few photos of the new home and away football uniforms.  While there are some (minor) changes, Nike still maintained (mostly) a traditional look…

… with one epically awesome exception:

Those are the “Smokey Gray” uniforms.  And, if you look closely at the helmet, you’ll see the silhouette of the Smokey Mountains.  That, my friends, is awesome.

Well-done, Nike.  And kudos to UT for (mostly) sticking with what has traditionally worked uniform-wise in the past, with one magnificent twist that the younger generation you’re attempting to recruit to the Vols will certainly be drawn to.

(Photo credit: Tennessee athletics)

Permalink 10 Comments Back to top

Awkward Harbaugh interview flames out in spectacular, epic fashion

Jim Harbaugh AP

If you’re a fan of awkward and hilariously uncomfortable radio moments, the following will serve as your Christmas in July.

While some view his personality as “off-putting” or even “crazy,” others view Jim Harbaugh as a chatty and engaging character — provided he’s in the mood.  This morning, the new Michigan head coach was decidedly not in the mood.  Or doesn’t particularly care for this particular ESPN interviewer.  Or both.

Either way, Colin Cowherd‘s interview with Harbaugh will go down as one of the epically bad interviews in the history of televised radio.  Enjoy.  And be prepared to cringe.

 

Afterwards, Cowherd called it “the worst interview I’ve done in 14 years.”  He then added this Ohio State-tinged shot across Harbaugh’s bow.

At least one member of the media now charged with dealing with Harbaugh on her beat stuck up for the coach.

If you’re a fan of UM, you likely thought the interview was hilarious and were giving your coach atta boys from afar.  If you’re a non-Michigan fan/Michigan hater, you likely saw it an unnecessarily uncomfortable and will use it as yet another reason to despise both the man and the program.

Me?  I thought it was utterly hilarious because it was so uncomfortable.  With enigmatic sports figures like Harbaugh, you take the good with the, well, that.  And that was epic regardless of which side of the fence you reside.

UPDATED 2:27 p.m. ET: Not surprisingly, Harbaugh has taken to Twitter to address the radio “controversy.”

Permalink 40 Comments Back to top

USF losing assistant to… Appalachian State?

Stu Holt

This is something you don’t really see every day, especially this close to the start of summer camp and a new season.

A month or so prior to the start of that camp, Thayer Evans of SI.com is reporting, USF head coach Willie Taggart has an unexpected hole on his coaching staff, with special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Stu Holt reportedly leaving for a job at Appalachian State.  Just what position Holt will assume for the Sun Belt Conference member has yet to be confirmed, although the Mountaineers do have a need for a running backs coach.

Neither USF nor ASU have announced any changes to their respective coaching staffs.

Holt has been with the Bulls the past two seasons, first as just the special teams coordinator before adding tight ends coach to his job description for this past season.  He also held the title of Director of Player Personnel in 2013.  For the two years prior to that, he was on Taggart’s staff at Western Kentucky.

Given how late in the offseason this occurred, it’s very likely Taggart, like Wyoming, will split up Holt’s responsibilities among those currently on his staff and search for a permanent repalcement at the end of the 2015 season.

Permalink 2 Comments Back to top

Dependence Day: Navy officially joins AAC

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwyyzmmwowmwmzbkytg2ndayzjywnguwnwq0oddhmzc2 Getty Images

For the first 135 years of its existence, Navy played as a football independent.  With Independence Day just three days away, the Midshipmen have officially shed that football independence for its first-ever conference home.

What has been known was going to transpire for a more than a year has now come to fruition as the American Athletic Conference officially introduced Navy as the league’s 12th member.  Along with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa, Navy will be a part of the AAC West.  The AAC East will consist of Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Temple, UCF and USF.

The conference will conduct its first-ever championship game in its third season of existence, which will take place a week before the annual Army-Navy game.

“”I am proud and delighted to take this opportunity to welcome the United States Naval Academy into the American Athletic Conference as a football-playing member,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “We extend a warm welcome to Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, athletic director Chet Gladchuk, head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, his team and all the Midshipmen and administrative personnel of the Naval Academy as well as to United States Naval and Marine Corps servicemen and women, friends and fans throughout the world.

“As I have said on many occasions, the Midshipmen represent the best this country has to offer. We are proud and grateful for the service they render to our country, and we are privileged to have them in our Conference.”

After a non-conference date with Colgate in the season opener, and following a bye week, Navy will open up league play by hosting East Carolina Sept. 19 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Their first AAC road trip will take place the following week as the service academy travels to UConn.

The Oct. 31 game against USF will mark the first-ever meeting between the two FBS programs, as will the following week’s game against Memphis.

At the opposite end of the historical spectrum is Tulane, 19 total games played, and SMU, which has squared off with Navy a total of 16 times.

“Joining the American Athletic Conference has given us another goal,” said Niumatalolo. “Now, not only do we have the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to play for, but a conference championship as well. I do know there are very good football teams in this league and it’s going to be a huge challenge for our program. Every week we will have a tough opponent to play.

Permalink 4 Comments Back to top

Jim Harbaugh: ‘We don’t run off players’

Brady Hoke, Ondre Pipkins

Late last week, Ondre Pipkins kicked up quite the ruckus by claiming he was essentially pushed out of the Michigan football program by new head coach Jim Harbaugh, athletic trainer Paul Schmidt and associate athletic director Jim Minick.  According to the transferring defensive lineman, Pipkins says he was pressured by those individuals to end his collegiate career by signing a medical scholarship form.

“After consulting with our medical team, we do not think it is in Ondre’s best interest as it relates to his health and welfare to play football, short or long-term,” a statement attributed to Harbaugh began. ” He remains on full scholarship and counts toward the 85-scholarship limit in pursuit of graduation from the University of Michigan.”

For the first time, Harbaugh addressed the situation with the media.  Not surprisingly, the coach’s view of how things transpired differed from his now-former player’s.

We don’t run off players,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com shortly after throwing out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game. “I’ll speak for myself personally. When it comes to the health and safety of the players, that argument trumps all other arguments.”

Pipkins has had at least two significant injuries during his time with the Wolverines to go along with concussion issues.

In August of 2012 he sustained a neck injury that required a brief hospital stay, but went on to play 13 games. In October of 2013, he suffered a torn ACL in a win over Minnesota. Last season, he played in five games.

Pipkin was a five-star member of UM’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as one of the top defensive tackles in the country and the No. 14 player overall.

Permalink 8 Comments Back to top