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CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Pac-12 Predictions

Washington v Arizona State Getty Images

As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the Pac-12. 

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

PAC-12 NORTH

1. Oregon (Last year: 11-2; beat Texas at Alamo Bowl)
The Ducks have been on the cusp of elite status as a program for the past four seasons. It’s time for the program to get over the hump and win a national title. This year’s squad may have the best chance to capture the school’s first national championship. It all starts with the quarterback position. Marcus Mariota is the best signal caller currently playing collegiate football. Yes, that includes Florida State’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston. Mariota may have hoisted the trophy last year if he didn’t suffer a knee injury late in the season which hampered his style of play. Mariota is extremely efficient as a passer, highly intelligent with his decision-making and a deadly athlete when he decides to run with the football. The Ducks also return key starters at vital positions. Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and center Hroniss Grasu may have been the top players selected at their position in May’s NFL draft. Yet, they decided to return to Eugene.  The team’s leading rusher (Byron Marshall), tackler (Derrick Malone) and sack artist (Tony Washington) return as well. As Mark Helfrich enters his second year as head coach, there aren’t any excuses for the Ducks this season. It’s a national championship or bust. This is the year for Oregon to prove its more than a flashy offense and uniform trendsetters.

2. Stanford (Last year: 11-3; lost to Michigan State in Rose Bowl)
Cardinal faithful will almost certainly remind anyone who will listen that their team beat Oregon the past two seasons and claimed Pac-12 conference titles. However, the Cardinal simply aren’t as talented from top to bottom as the Ducks. The key players Oregon retained; the Cardinal lost. The team lost it’s leading rusher, tackler, sack artist and four of its starting offensive linemen. While Senior quarterback Kevin Hogan may be entering his second full season as the team’s starter, he’s a notch below the elite quarterbacks in the Pac-12 conference.David Shaw is one of the best coaches in college football. This team will continue it’s winning ways. But Stanford will likely take a slight step backwards as the Ducks reclaim the honor as the best team in the Pac-12 Conference.

3. Oregon State (Last year: 7-6; beat Boise State in Hawai’i Bowl)
College football’s leading-returning passer resides in Corvallis, Oregon. Quarterback Sean Mannion returns for his senior campaign after throwing for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns. But Mannion won’t have Biletnikoff Trophy winner Brandin Cooks to throw to anymore. And that ‘s a good thing. Mannion’s experience behind center is a major positive for the Beavers, but Oregon State head coach Mike Riley admitted the coaching staff became enamored with throwing the football due to their dynamic duo at quarterback and wide receiver. This season, the Beavers will be more balanced on offense and more closely resemble the team that went 9-4 in 2012 instead of the one that was 7-6 last season. Senior Terran Ward and junior Storm Woods combined for 1,060 rushing yards last season. They should receive bigger workloads. With a more balanced attack, the Beavers hope to avoid another five-game losing streak in Pac-12 play. The team seen during its 38-23 victory over Boise State in the Hawai’i Bowl is the one Pac-12 opponents should expect to face Saturdays this fall.

4. Washington (Last year: 9-4; beat BYU in Fight Hunger Bowl)
The University of Washington did the impossible; they pried Chris Petersen out of Boise and made him their new head coach. Petersen inherits a talented roster built slowly over time by previous head coach Steve Sarkisian. After three straight 7-6 seasons, the Huskies finally broke through with an 9-4 campaign in 2013. The team then lost it’s head coach, quarterback and workhorse running back. Change of that degree will likely cause the Huskies to take a small step back during the upcoming season. While Peterson was ultra-successful during his eight seasons at Boise State, his team stumbled last year and lost four games for the first time in eight years. The last coach to have that type of success at Boise then finish with a four-loss team before moving to the Pac-12 was Dan Hawkins. Furthermore, there are still questions at quarterback for the Huskies. Cyler Miles hasn’t shown he’s ready to take over the team. Until one of the quarterbacks does, the Huskies will have to rely on a talented defense, particularly a defensive line that features nose tackle Danny Shelton and defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha.

5. Washington State (Last year: 6-7; lost to Colorado State in New Mexico Bowl)
This will be Mike Leach‘s third year in Pullman, Washington. It was in Leach’s third year at Texas Tech he was able to lead the Red Raiders to a nine-win season. He won’t be as lucky with the Cougars. It’s taken Leach some time to implement the “Air Raid” offense that far north. This should be the first season in which it’s fully functional with senior Connor Halliday as the trigger-man behind center. However, the team’s defense struggled mightily in 2013 and finished 102nd overall. Leach’s run at Texas Tech was special, because he could out-scheme nearly everyone in the Big 12. But he could always rely on the talent he recruited in the state of Texas. The state of Washington doesn’t present the same level of talent. In three recruiting classes, only one former four-star recruit, wide receiver Gabe Marks, is expected to contribute for the Cougars this season. And that talent disparity will keep Wazzu toward the bottom of the Pac-12.

6. Cal (Last year: 1-11)
The hiring of Sonny Dykes as Cal’s head coach was an absolute disaster. The Golden Bears finished 1-11. They didn’t play any defense whatsoever. Players were leaving the program as soon as possible once the season ended. The only expectation for the team this season is to improve on last year’s record and actually win a conference game. Cal should be able to move the ball in Dykes’ version of the “Air Raid” offense. Quarterback Jared Goff enters his second season as starter after he put together a solid season as a true freshman. Plus, four of Goff’s top five receivers return. The Golden Bears will be able to throw the football, but the question is whether or not the defense will be able to stop anyone. History says no. Art Kaufman was hired as the team’s defensive coordinator this off season, and he has an uphill battle in front of him. Even when Dykes led Louisiana Tech to a 9-3 record, a national ranking and nearly defeated a Texas A&M team led by Johnny Manzielthe Bulldogs were the worst defensive team in college football. Dykes’ emphasis falls on the offensive side of the ball, and that is not going to change. It’s only a matter of time before Cal is looking for another head coach once the school’s new athletic director is named.

PAC-12 SOUTH

1. UCLA (Last year: 10-3; beat Virginia Tech in Sun Bowl)
Expectations are sky high at UCLA. And they should be. In two short years, Jim Mora has completely rebuilt the culture in Westwood. Plus, the Bruins are fortunate to have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Brett Hundley. If Hundley declared for the NFL draft this year, he would have been a first-round selection. He’s projected to be a Top 10 pick for next May. The quarterback is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to talent on this roster. Senior Jordan James and sophomore Paul Perkins return in the backfield after combining for 1,107 rushing yards in 2013. Devin Fuller is a dynamic play maker out of the slot. And the defense may be even more talented. The two-way superstar Myles Jacks is one of college football’s top linebackers and a pretty good running back too. Erik Kendricks is highly instinctive and a tackling machine. Sophomores Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes will be one year better and impossible to move along the defensive interior. And the secondary is experienced with Anthony Jefferson and Ishmael Adams returning. The No. 1 one goal for the Bruins will be to claim a Pac-12 championship, but this team has legitimate national championship potential. They simply have to get past Oregon and Stanford to prove they’re worthy of a berth in the College Football Playoff.

2. USC (Last year: 10-4; beat Fresno State in Las Vegas Bowl)
It’s hard to maintain momentum from one season to another. Although, USC appeared to regain its confidence and swagger as a program when it won six of its last seven games under the direction of interim head coach Ed Oregeron. Despite the team’s late season success, Oregeron wasn’t hired to become the team’s permanent head coach. Enter Steve Sarkisian, a former co-offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll. Despite sub-par seasons by USC’s standards in recent years, the team has two things in its favor. First, the talent from the top of the roster to the bottom is always among the best in college football. Second, the team’s depth will continue to improve as the bottom of the roster is rebuilt after being previously hamstrung by NCAA sanctions. The Trojans will be led by a strong defense which features the potential No. 1 overall pick in May’s NFL draft, defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The unit finished 13th overall in total defense last season. The offense, meanwhile, will continue to grow under the direction of offensive coordinator Clay Helton and junior quarterback Cody Kessler. The offense played at a much higher level once Lane Kiffin was fired and Helton became the primary play-caller. It was a smart decision by Sarkisian to retain Helton on his staff.  All the pieces are in place for the Trojans to become a factor in the Pac-12 again. USC faithful has to hope Sarkisian was the right hire to keep them in the national conversation.

3. Arizona State (Last year: 10-4; lost to Texas Tech in Holiday Bowl)
Since the Pac-12 South is generally considered the weaker division in the conference, it’s been somewhat overlooked that the Sun Devils played in the league’s championship game last year. Head coach Todd Graham has built a team that is known for its fast-pace offense and aggressive defense. In fact, Arizona State features the best quarterback-wide receiver tandem in the Pac-12 with Taylor Kelly behind center and Jaelen Strong creating mismatches for defenses. Kelly, in particular, has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the Pac-12 the past two seasons. And running back D.J. Foster is a dangerous weapon out of the backfield. Arizona State may even be able to challenge UCLA and USC atop the Pac-12 South, but the team’s previously devastating defensive front is being completely rebuilt. The team lost it’s top tackler, sack artist and two-time Pac-12 Defense Player of the Year Will Sutton to the NFL. Graham will continue to blitz every chance he gets, but he no longer has the talent to win individual match-ups on a regular basis. The offense will score points, but the defense will have trouble stopping anyone. 

4.  Arizona (Last year: 8-5; beat Boston College in AdvoCare V100 Bowl)
Is the year the Wildcats are ready to take the next step under head coach Rich Rodriguez? During his first two seasons with the program, Arizona finished with an 8-5 record. The problem with Rodriguez is the passing game and defense suffer from the coach’s insistence to implement his offensive scheme, which is a zone-read heavy. The x-factor this season will be whomever Rodriguez’s names as his starting quarterback. Last season, B.J. Denker didn’t provide any consistency throwing the football. It will either be redshirt freshman Anu Solomon or senior transfer Jesse Scroggins which takes over the offense. Solomon reportedly has a slight lead in the competition during fall camp. These two will have to be better dual-threats out of the backfield than Denker was. And the defense has to be better after surrendering 401.1 yards per game last season. If these two things happen, the Wildcats will finish higher in the standings than CFT currently projects. But, it’s unlikely.

5. Colorado (Last year: 4-8)
A 4-8 record for any other program would be a disappointment. Colorado, however, isn’t just any program. It’s a school that went through an ugly divorce with previous head coach Jon Embree. Four wins by first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre was actually a three-game improvement. MacIntyre has a history of rebuilding a program in a similar fashion. He took San Jose State from a one-win team to 10 wins in three seasons. While the growth at Colorado should be far more incremental, the Buffaloes will continue to improve under the current coaching staff. The team returns 16 starters, including quarterback Sefo Liufau, and has a manageable non-conference schedule. There are at least five games the Buffaloes could be considered the favorites to win. It will be up to the coaching staff and players to steal one or two more wins from Pac-12 opponents.

6.  Utah (Last year: 5-7)
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham enters his 10th season with the program, and it could be his last if the Utes fall to the basement of the Pac-12 South. The problems start on the offensive side of the football. Whittingham used numerous different play-callers in recent years, but the Utes’ offense continued to sputter. Utah finished 76th overall in total offense during the 2013 campaign. Last season the defense wasn’t the team’s saving grace either. The Utes finished 60th overall in total defense. Whittingham will need key players to step up this season if the team has any hope of consistently competing in the Pac-12. Quarterback Travis Wilson has to improve after throwing 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions as a sophomore. Another 5-7 season or worse will likely signal change within the program.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTION
Oregon over UCLA

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Fortunate calls allow No. 12 Kansas State to build 17-3 lead against WVU

Kansas State v West Virginia

The ball bounced in favor of the No. 12 Kansas State Wildcats during the first half of play against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

A suspect touchdown call and another touchdown being called back proved to be the biggest difference for the Wildcats, who hold a 17-3 lead at halftime.

The fortunate calls in Kansas State’s favor started on the team’s initial drive.

After a 23-yard punt return from Tyler Lockett — and his presence on special teams will come up again — the Wildcats started their initial drive from West Virginia’s 49-yard line. Seven plays later, Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters drove his offense to the 7-yard line. On third-and-goal, Waters scrambled in the pocket and found running back Demarcus Robinson open for a touchdown pass.

However, Robinson dropped the football during the follow through of the catch. Despite the bobbled ball, the referees ruled he had possession before he went to the ground and the touchdown call stood. Kansas State gained an early 7-0 lead.

After the team’s traded field goals, the Mountaineers finally found the end zone on one of the wackiest touchdown catches of the season. Or so they thought.

Kevin White, the nation’s third-leading receiver, came up with an amazing tipped pass for the unlikely score (see: below).

The catch was eventually ruled incomplete upon review. One angle appeared to show the ball hitting the ground before it flipped into the air toward White. The situation was compounded by the fact West Virginia kicker Josh Lambert missed the ensuing field goal attempt.

Locket extended Kansas State’s lead with a 43-yard punt return for a touchdown. The All-American returner averaged 33 yards per punt return through two quarters of play.

As the teams enter the second half, Kansas State wants to return to playing sound football after a sloppy first half. West Virginia, meanwhile, needs to capitalize on its opportunities and find ways to get its vertical passing attack on track.

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Steve Sarkisian: CB Josh Shaw will have ‘some role’ against UCLA

Josh Shaw

What a long and strange trip it has been for USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw.

After a perplexing story of heroism turned fraud, Shaw was indefinitely suspended from the team until Tuesday when he was officially reinstated by the program. No charges were filed in the domestic incident between Shaw and his girlfriend, and the senior returned to practice after the school was notified.

Shaw practiced with the team for the second time Thursday, according to the the Orange County Register’s Michael Lev, and his return to the lineup appears imminent.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian told Lev after Thursday’s practice that Shaw will have “some role” against the No. 9 UCLA Bruins. The exact nature of Shaw’s role has yet to be determined.

Shaw’s return to the Trojans secondary will be a welcome addition for the naton’s 102nd-ranked pass defense. The senior started 21 games in his career before this season, and it should allow him to adjust quickly to the team’s new defensive scheme.

“He’s played a lot of football,” Sarkisian said. “He’s very bright. He’s able to grasp things quickly.

“Obviously, on game day, things change for a variety of reasons. But I feel good that he’ll have some role to contribute in the ballgame.”

Shaw may have proved to be a distraction for a large portion of this season, but his inclusion to the team can’t come at a better time as the Trojans prepare for the rival Bruins and quarterback Brett Hundley.

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Michigan officially anoints Jim Hackett interim AD

Jim Hackett

Nearly three weeks after former Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon resigned his position, the school’s Board of Regents finally approved Jim Hackett as the university’s interim athletic director.

Once Hackett was officially approved, the meeting was “disrupted by a protest” and concluded early for  “safety reasons.”

However, the protest wasn’t due to athletic standards. According to the The Detroit News, the meeting was halted by “protesters demanding greater minority enrollment at the University of Michigan.”

Brandon’s resignation was prompted by multiple factors, but they revolved primarily around the disappointment of the football program. The Wolverines are currently 5-5 with contests against the Maryland Terrapins and the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes remaining. It’s not difficult to envision Michigan finishing 6-6 this season to become bowl eligible.

Will it be enough for head coach Brady Hoke to retain his position?

With dwindling student attendance plus the Shane Morris incident and Frank Clark situation still lingering, it’s difficult to believe Hoke will last beyond this season.

No timetable has been given by the University of Michigan as it pertains to naming a permanent athletic director. Hackett, a Michigan graduate, will remain in his current role until the new athletic director is hired.

Depending on the outcome of the search for a new athletic director, Hackett could be the guiding force behind the hire of Michigan’s next head football coach.

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Shaq Thompson one of five Hornung Award finalists

Shaq Thompson AP

Five of the most versatile college football players in the country are being recognized for their, well, versatility.

Thursday morning, the Paul Hornung Award announced its list of five finalists for the 2014 trophy.  One of those five is the player most would consider is far and away the front-runner.

Washington’s Shaq Thompson has scored four touchdowns defensively this season — three fumble returns for scores, one interception return.  Additionally, he’s second on the team in rushing yards after being pressed into service due to injuries.

The other four finalists are Nebraska running back/return specialist Ameer Abdullah, TCU running back/return specialist B.J. Catalon, Stanford wide receiver/return specialist Ty Montgomery and Missouri running back/return specialist Marcus Murphy.

Last year’s winner was LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr.

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Utes lose leading picker Gionni Paul for what’s left of season

Gionni Paul AP

An injury delayed the start of Gionni Paul‘s 2014 season.  Unfortunately, another one bookends it.

Wednesday, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed that there’s been “a setback” with Paul’s foot.  As a result, the linebacker will miss the last two games of the Utes’ regular season (Arizona, Colorado) as well as the bowl game.

The good news is that a full recovery is expected for the junior.

Paul initially suffered the injury during spring practice and, months later, it caused him to miss the first two games of the year.  Despite that, he leads the Utes with four interceptions, a total that’s second in the Pac-12.

In early January of 2013, it was confirmed that Paul was no longer a part of the Miami (Fla.) football team.  A short time later, Paul landed with the Utes and was idle all last season because of transfer rules.  Despite never playing a down for the Utes, Paul was voted a team captain in the spring.

He will still have one season of eligibility remaining.

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Stefon Diggs (kidney) out rest of regular season; bowl still possible

Maryland v Penn State

Rumored to be out for this weekend’s game, one of Maryland’s top offensive playmakers will be out a little bit longer than that.

Thursday afternoon, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall announced that wide receiver Stefon Diggs will miss the last two games of the regular season due to injury.  Diggs sustained a kidney injury in the Nov. 1 win over Penn State – he also received a one-game suspension stemming from his pregame antics the same day — and, following a bye week, did not play in last Saturday’s loss to Maryland.

Edsall’s announcement means Diggs will also miss Saturday’s game against Michigan and the regular-season finale against Rutgers.  Edsall did allow that Diggs could return for the Terps’ bowl game, and he’s expected to be cleared for contact Dec. 1.

As the Terps look to climb up the Big Ten’s bowl game pecking order, the loss of Diggs is a substantial one.

Despite missing one complete game and part of another, Diggs is easily the team’s leader in receptions (52), receiving yards (654) and receiving touchdowns (five).  Not only will it hurt in the passing game but his absence will leave a mark on special teams as well as he’s the Terps’ leading kick returner.

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A.D. releases statement on FSU shooting tragedy

Shooting on the Florida State Universaity campus in Tallahassee AP

Sadly, tragedy struck the Florida State University campus overnight as a lone gunman wounded three people in a shooting at the Strozier Library. Police officers responding to the scene shot and killed the suspect, who has been identified as an FSU alum who received his law degree from Texas Tech.

According to reports, hundreds of students were in the library at the time of the shooting studying for final exams, one of whom was reportedly saved from a bullet by his textbooks.

One of the victims is in critical condition while another is listed in stable condition. The third victim was treated at the scene after being grazed by a bullet.

It’s unclear how many if any FSU athletes in general and Seminole football players specifically were in the area or at the library at the time of the shooting. There was an on-campus prayer vigil held this morning, though, with the most recognizable face on campus offering up his prayers and support.

This afternoon, athletic director Stan Wilcox released a statement addressing the tragedy. While offering up thoughts and prayers, Wilcox also confirmed that all athletic events, including FSU’s home football game against Boston College, will be played as scheduled.

We are deeply saddened by the early morning events on campus. The entire Florida State family and surrounding community are affected. Our university administration has increased security measures and is providing a strong law enforcement presence on and around campus. We have been assured there is no further threat.

Classes have been canceled today, but campus is open. This weekend’s athletic events, including those planned for tomorrow, will take place as scheduled.

Following tragic times like we experienced today, athletic events can help in unifying both the student body and community. That is our hope in moving forward with these events.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those directly affected by this tragedy.

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Five finalists for Nagurski Award announced

Aaron Donald

Forget semifinalist appetizers; the award that honors a Minnesota college football legend has gone straight for the main course.

The Bronko Nagurski Award announced Thursday the five finalists for the 2014 version of the award.  Two of the finalists hail from the SEC, while there is one each the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12.

Three of the five, interestingly, are defensive backs.

The finalists for the award, given annually to the nation’s best player on the defensive side of the ball, appear below.

  • Texas defensive tackle Malcolm Brown
  • Alabama defensive back Landon Collins
  • Ole Miss defensive back Senquez Golson
  • Louisville defensive back Gerod Holliman
  • Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright

The 2013 winner of the Nagurski Award was Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

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Beavers announce another home-and-home with Boise

Hawaii Bowl: Boise State v. Oregon State

Already scheduled to play Boise State in the back-end of one future series, Oregon State has decided to double-up on the blue-field love.

In a press release sent out Thursday, OSU announced that it his reached an agreement with BSU on another future home-and-home series.  The Beavers will play host to the first game of the new matchup on Sept. 3, 2022, in Corvallis, while the Broncos get their home game in Boise on Sept. 2 the following year.

The two teams are still scheduled to play Sept. 24, 2016, in Corvallis.  The first game of that home-and-home was played in Boise in 2010, a 30-27 win for the Beavers.

There have been a total of six meetings between the two programs, with the series tied at three wins apiece.  The last meeting came in the 2013 Hawaii Bowl, a 38-23 OSU win.

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All-defensive look to Lombardi Award’s four finalists

Aaron Donald AP

A parade of finalist announcements made on Thursday begins with an award that’s handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding lineman on either side of the ball — or a linebacker who lines up no more than five yards off the ball.

While the Lombardi Award is for linemen on either side of the ball, this year’s finalists are decidedly defensive as there are no offensive linemen among the four final finalists.  Instead, there are two defensive linemen and one linebackers.

All are first-time finalists, with two being seniors and two being sophomores.

  • Clemson senior defensive end Vic Beasley
  • Ohio State sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa
  • Washington senior linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha
  • Arizona sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright

The individuals who vote for the Lombardi were obviously enamored by the stats that defensive linemen could put up as opposed to the non-stats for offensive linemen.

Kikaha, Wright and Bosa are all in the Top Five nationally in sacks per game, and are in the Top Seven in tackles per loss.  Beasley this season became Clemson’s all-time leading sacker, and is in the Top 15 among FBS players this season in sacks and tackles for loss.

Last season’s winner was Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald.  And, for those who are wondering, the last offensive lineman to win the award was Ohio State’s Orlando Pace in 1996.  Pace actually won it the year before as well, and is the only two-time winner of the prestigious trophy.

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Snowed-out MACtion forces league to shuffle pair of games

Record Snowstorm Pummels Buffalo Getty Images

A winter storm that impacted one MAC game this week will do the same to another next week.

First things first: the Kent State-Buffalo game, scheduled for Wednesday night but postponed due to extreme weather conditions, has been tentatively rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 21.  Instead of a night kickoff, however, the game will begin at 1 p.m. ET tomorrow afternoon.

Television information is to be announced later.

The MAC made sure to insert the word “tentatively” into the release. A severe winter snowstorm, which has been blamed for eight deaths, has dumped upwards of six feet of snow in the Buffalo area, with another 2-3 feet possible throughout the rest of Thursday and on into Friday.

Additionally,the conference announced that, due to this schedule change, next week’s Akron-Kent State game at Kent’s Dix Stadium will be rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m. ET. That game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. ET.

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Bowden on unbeaten FSU’s ranking? ‘Don’t care for it one dadgum bit’

Eric Barron, Molly Barron, Bobby Bowden

Even as it’s been four years since he stepped off the sidelines, Bobby Bowden‘s patented “dadgum” is still relevant.  Well, it’s still relevant in my eyes, at least.

Shortly after the latest College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, the legendary former Florida State head coach took to Facebook– yes, the 85-year-old Facebooks — to decry the undefeated Seminoles’ placement at No. 3, behind a pair of one-loss teams.

How many times have you heard a Coach say,” We didn’t finish”? Coaches harp on it continuously, finish, finish, finish! Coaches emphasize each practice,”finish your block”, Finish your tackle, finish your run, finish the last quarter. Every team in the Top Ten failed to ‘finish’ their game at least one time, but not Florida State. One thing they have done is ‘finish’ the game. They have ‘finished’ 10 straight times this season and the last 26 games in a row. All the Polls now are just speculation and opinions. 26 finishes in a row is not an opinion!

A day later, the slotting of a team that’s won 26 straight games still wasn’t sitting well with the Hall of Famer.

“I don’t care for it one bit,” Bowden told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I really don’t care for it one dadgum bit.

“But that’s what they’ve decided to do and I’ll be pulling for it to work. But just think of all the scrutiny you see nowadays. This team or that team or this team or that team. Why don’t they vote like they did last year, they end up with two and that decides it?”

The reasons for Bowden lashing out at the rankings is likely twofold, aside from his obvious loyalties.

One, he, as a coach, places more value on wins and losses. The committee, obviously, places more importance on résumés and contrived “game control” stats than they do the loss side of the ledger.

And, two, he’s simply not a fan of the new system that will determine a national champion.

“I always thought they got one and two right. Really people don’t care about three and four,” Bowden said back in late August. “It’s going to give more teams an opportunity to play for the national championship, but I like it the way it was. I’m not sure it’s going to work. Maybe it will turn out better. …

“Now No. 5 is really upset. No. 5 says we should have been in that dadgum top four. That’s what three said. You get the same debate going on down the line.”

I don’t agree one bit, but keep railing, dadgummit.  Keep railing.

(Photo credit: ACC’s Facebook page)

(Also, thoughts out to the FSU community on the tragedy that hit the campus overnight.)

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A&M AD on possible bowl matchup with Texas: ‘it’s out of our control’

Texas v Texas A&M AP

Quite the pot was stirred this week when a report surfaced that the SEC — or the SEC on Texas A&M’s behalf — would nix any potential A&M-Texas bowl matchup this season.  Aggie fans were, of course, up in arms over the suggestion, while Longhorn Nation took great joy in the perception that their former conference mates were ducking a postseason renewal of the bitter rivalry.

One current Longhorn piled on later in the day, saying in no uncertain terms that “[a]nybody on this team would love a chance to play A&M,” the insinuation being the other side would loathe a chance.

According to A&M’s athletic director, however, it’s not a matter of want when it comes to a postseason game with UT. Instead, it’s something that’s out of his hands.

In a chat with Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle, Eric Hyman explained the process in which the SEC finds postseason destinations for its schools. In summation, and at the very bottom of the bottom line, the SEC decides which teams play where, not vice versa.  And, apparently, that decision comes without a whole lot of input from the individual schools.

“Quite frankly, that’s a decision made by the conference,” Hyman told Zwerneman. “The configuration is so different than it’s been in the past. They ask us to rank the bowls, and they ask the bowls to rank us. The (SEC) then ranks all the different teams from that, and that’s how the selection will be made.

“It doesn’t matter if I speculate about playing this team or that team in a bowl. It’s out of our control. … Wherever they tee us up, we’ll play.”

In talking about “how the bowl selection has changed dramatically from the past,” Hyman reiterated that A&M doesn’t “really have a lot of say, the conference office picks who they want.”

Left unsaid was what would happen if A&M approached the SEC and strenuously argued for a bowl game against UT this year. Would the conference, as they reportedly are, remain strident against such a matchup out of fear that it could hurt either its or its member institution’s brand?

In his initial report that triggered this whole mini-maelstrom, Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com wrote that the SEC “won’t support a Texas vs Texas A&M postseason matchup [because] A&M has too much to lose from a potential loss.” Oddly enough, both the SEC and A&M are seemingly taking a loss in the here and now from the appearance that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

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Vandy gives boot to another RB, this one 2013′s leading rusher

Jerron Seymour, Peter Angeh

For the second time this season, Derek Mason has whittled down his depth in the offensive backfield due to a non-football issue.

Wednesday evening, the first-year head coach announced that Jerron Seymour has been dismissed from the football program.  As expected, the only reason given was the ever-present “unspecified violation of team rules.”

Seymour had been listed on the depth chart released ahead of the Mississippi State game this Saturday.  He didn’t, however, practice Wednesday, ahead of the announcement of his forced departure from the team.

The dismissal punctuated a season rife with turmoil for the senior.

He was suspended for a mid-October non-conference game, and missed two games early on in the season because of injury.  Since carrying the ball nine times in an early-October loss to Georgia, Seymour totaled just two carries the past four games.

Last season, Seymour led the Commodores in rushing yards (716) and rushing touchdowns (14).  This season, he was third in the former (123) and had none of the latter.

Seymour remains in school and is on track to graduate in May.

In mid-October, fellow running back Brian Kimbrow was tossed from the squad.  He was the team’s third-leading rushing in 2013.

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Toledo still in (Kareem) Hunt for MAC West title

Kareem Hunt

Toledo (7-4, 6-1 MAC) kept pace with Northern Illinois in the MAC West Wednesday night with a cross-division victory against Bowling Green (7-4, 5-2 MAC). Kareem Hunt carried the Rockets to a win with 265 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 27-20 victory. One run went 91 yards for a touchdown, the third longest touchdown run in Toledo history. The Rockets managed to win despite losing the turnover battle with three turnovers to Bowling Green’s zero.

With the win, Toledo remains tied for first place with Northern Illinois, after the Huskies won Tuesday night. NIU holds a head-to-head tiebreaker with Toledo, so the Rockets will need some help from Western Michigan. If Toledo wins its final game against Eastern Michigan on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a Western Michigan win over NIU would send Toledo to the MAC Championship Game. If NIU wins at Western Michigan, the Huskies will win the division. Western Michigan can win the division with wins against Central Michigan and NIU and if Toledo loses to Eastern Michigan.

Bowling Green has already wrapped up the MAC East, so the Falcons will have a chance to defend it’s MAC Championship from last season.

Buffalo and Kent State snowed in

Buffalo and Kent State were also scheduled to play Wednesday night, but the game was postponed due to severe weather in Buffalo dumping massive amounts of snow. MAC and school officials are scheduled to meet Thursday morning to determine when or if the game can be rescheduled.

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