Allstate Sugar Bowl - Oklahoma v Alabama

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 5 Oklahoma

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2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-2 in Big 12 Conference (tied 2nd in conference)
2013 postseason: Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama (45-31 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 6/No. 6
Head coach: Bob Stoops (160-39 overall; 160-39 in 15 years at Oklahoma)
Co-offensive coordinators: Josh Heupel (9th year at Oklahoma) and Jay Norvell (6th year)
2013 offensive rankings: 18th rushing offense (223.9 ypg); 90th passing offense (199.1 ypg); 52nd total offense (423 ypg); 40th scoring offense (32.8 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: five
Defensive coordinator: Mike Stoops (eight years at Oklahoma)
2013 defensive rankings: 25th rushing defense (137.6 ypg); 30th passing defense (212.5 ypg);  20th total defense (350.2 ypg); 22nd scoring defense (22.1 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: nine
Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Stadium: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (82,112; grass)
Last conference title: 2012 (co-champions with Kansas State)

THE GOOD
The Sooners lay claim to the best defense in the Big 12 conference. The unit finished 20th overall in total defense last season, which is an impressive feat considering the wide-open offenses seen during conference play. The defense is led by outside linebacker Eric Striker. Striker is one of the most intimidating defenders in the country. Not only is the linebacker one of the most explosive edge rushers in college football, but the Sooners move him around throughout the game to keep offenses on their heels. It’s nearly impossible for an offense to key on a specific defender and set their blocking schemes if they don’t know where he’s going to be lined up on a down-by-down basis. The team’s linebackers as a whole are very talented. Leading tackler Frank Shannon won’t play this season due to suspension, but senior Geneo Grissom showed how dangerous he can be opposite Striker with 2.5 sacks against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. And inside linebacker Dominique Alexander was named the 2013 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Both starting cornerbacks return as does strong safety Quentin Hayes. The defense will also get a boost when the massive (6-6, 334) Jordan Phillips returns to the lineup as the starting nose tackle after missing the final 10 weeks of the season due to a back injury. The Sooners defense is talented, aggressive and experienced. Even if Oklahoma’s offense struggles during stretches, the defense is good enough to win games for them this season.

THE BAD
If the Sooners are going to be earn a spot in the first College Football Playoff, the team absolutely has to be more consistent at the quarterback position. Expectations are sky high for Trevor Knight (see: below) after his surprising and dominant performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. Knight has to prove it wasn’t an one-game aberration. The most damning evidence against Oklahoma’s quarterbacks last year was finishing ninth (out of 10 teams) in the Big 12 in passing offense. The ability to stretch the field vertically opens up the rest of the offense, but Oklahoma was never able to do so last year until the bowl game. And for a quarterback to be able to open up the offense, he has to have reliable receivers. Junior wide receiver Sterling Shephard will have to develop into a No. 1 target after finishing second on the team last season with 51 receptions for 603 yards. The Sooners’ other projected starters at wide receiver, Durron Neal and Derrick Woods, combined to make 15 receptions for 205 yards. Consistency at quarterback and wide receiver will be the primary indicator of how successful the Sooners are in 2014.

THE UNKNOWN
The University of Oklahoma suspended two of the team’s most talented players in Shannon and running back Joe Mixon prior to the start of the season for the entirety of 2014 campaign. Plus, the team hoped Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham would be eligible to play this season. The NCAA denied Green-Beckam’s transfer waiver, and the wide receiver will have to wait until next year to make a mark with the Sooners…if he does at all. These are three very talented players that would have contributed plenty to the Sooners this season. Shannon was the team’s leading tackler in 2013. Sophomore Jordan Evans, who played in eight games last season as a true freshman, will take over for Shannon. The Sooners’ passing game will have to rely heavily on Shepard due to the lack of experience with the rest of the team’s wide receivers. Keith Ford and Alex Ross will split reps without the explosive Mixon being a part of the running back stable. Of the three, the junior linebacker’s suspension could prove to be the most problematic this season, while the team will simply have to wait another year to receive contributions from Mixon and Green-Beckham.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Tennessee
The scheduling within the Big 12 Conference is so underwhelming an one-loss Sooners’ squad might be the team on the outside looking in during the inaugural College Football Player. It’s quite possible Oklahoma will slip up at least once during Big 12 play. The reason the Tennessee game is so important is due to it being the team’s only non-conference game against a Power Five opponent. The Volunteers may have been 5-7 last season, but their affiliation with the SEC holds plenty of water. The game will be a test to see how Oklahoma stacks up against the best conference in college football. A resounding victory by Oklahoma will show the Sooners are superior to the SEC’s middle class. And it will leave a positive impression in the playoff committee’s collective mind as the Sooners attempt to navigate their treacherous conference schedule.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: QB Trevor Knight
Knight made it look easy against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. The ball effortlessly flew out of the quarterback’s hand as he broke a Sugar Bowl record with 32 completions for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Knight’s performance in the bowl game leaves a lasting impression on Heisman voters and provides momentum as he enters his first season as a full-time starter. The reality, though, is Knight didn’t play well during the regular season. Knight won the starting job in fall camp last year only to hand the spot back to Blake Bell. Knight’s highest output in a single game before his explosion against Alabama was 171 passing yards. In fact, Knight only passed for 471 yards and five touchdowns during his previous eight appearances. But Knight’s Heisman candidacy is based purely on potential. If Knight can play at the same level seen against Alabama throughout the 2014 campaign, the Sooners will be one of the best teams in college football and the quarterback will be sitting in New York City waiting to hear his name called as the latest Heisman Trophy winner.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Former 5-star Chris Casher no longer on Florida State roster

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Chris Casher #21 of the Florida State Seminoles runs in a fumble made by Terrel Hunt #10 of the Syracuse Orange during the Second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles beat the Orange 59-3.(Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images)
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It seemed clear by now Chris Casher would never fulfill the promise he arrived to Tallahassee with five seasons ago.

Rated the No. 3 defensive end in the class of 2012 by 247Sports, Casher suffered a season-ending injury two games into his 2012 campaign, then never accumulated more than 28 tackles in a season before moving to tight end before this season.

“He was a very, very good receiver out of high school,” ‘Noles head coach Jimbo Fisher told the Palm Beach Post this spring. “He is a really good basketball player. He has a lot of natural offensive skill. … catches the ball and has natural hands.

“When I played quarterback, I knew who I wanted to throw it to. And the guys that caught my eye. So our guys have been bragging about him. We’ll see what he does.”

But Fisher confirmed Friday Casher is no longer on the roster.

Casher was placed a one-year probation by Florida State for his involvement in the Jameis Winston sexual assault case and, according to USA Today, was briefly detained alongside Winston by FSU police for carrying a pellet gun on campus.

The reason for Casher’s departure was not known at press time.

Louisville LB Trevon Young to take medical redshirt

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 24:  Trevon Young #91 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates a defensive stop against the Boston College Eagles at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville linebacker Trevon Young will miss the 2016 season to continue recovering from a dislocated and fractured him suffered in the Cardinals’ Music City Bowl victory over Texas A&M. Head coach Bobby Petrino confirmed the news Friday at ACC media days.

“We’re going to miss Trevon,” Petrino said 93.9 The Ville, via Card Chronicle. “He’s very, very good player, particularly on third down. He put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, made some big plays to help us win games. He was really stressing out about trying to come back for this season, and he just got to a point where he didn’t better for a while. So I think it’s been a relief to him to know that he’s redshirting. His mother tells me that it’s really helped relieve some anxiety that he was going through. He still has a very bright future ahead of him.”

A senior out of Council Bluffs, Iowa, by way of Iowa Western Community College, Young finished the ’15 season with 32 tackles, 10 TFLs and ranked 33rd nationally with 8.5 sacks. He was an Honorable Mention All-ACC performer.

Young has not used a redshirt season yet, meaning he will be automatically eligible to return in 2017.

 

ACC has no immediate plans to move football title game out of Charlotte following HB2

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 05:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers runs the ball against Donnie Miles #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2nd half during the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The NBA moved its All-Star Game out of Charlotte earlier this week out of backlash to controversial law House Bill 2, but ACC commissioner John Swofford said at his conference’s media days there is no immediate plan to follow suit with the league’s football championship game.

“We had a long discussion about this issue in May at our spring meetings, and at that time made the determination as to where our championships would be held for the ’16-17 year,” Swofford told ESPN. “Whatever we do won’t be because of what the NBA does. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully. We’ll do what we think is right and best for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Right now what our schools want to do is to see how this plays out and where it ends up, because it’s still in process to one degree or another and the courts may well ultimately decide that.”

Many view the passing of HB2 as discriminatory to the transgender community. Others view it as a necessary law to protect women and children.

The ACC said in May it would monitor the situation and require “commitments to provide safe and inclusive environments from sites for which there are current commitments for ACC championships.” Swofford said Thursday the conference would revisit the topic at its meetings in October.

“The next time we’re together is October for our fall meetings and, depending on what’s happened at that point in time, I’m sure our schools will want to have some further discussion about it,” Swofford told the Charlotte Observer.

The ACC has held its football championship game at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium since 2010. The Charlotte championship games have been significantly better attended than their predecessors in Jacksonville and Tampa.

The ACC has agreed to hold its title game in Charlotte through 2019. The ACC’s men’s basketball tournament has commonly taken place in Greensboro, N.C., but moves to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center over the next two seasons before returning to Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020. The ACC is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.

UGA RB AJ Turman transferring to FAU

BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 31:  Florida Atlantic Owls players celebrate after defeating the FIU Golden Panthers in the game at FAU Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Boca Raton, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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You’re likely aware of the injury trouble beset upon Georgia’s running backs room in recent years. There was Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, each of whom spent his fair share of time on the shelf.

But also dealing with injuries over the past two seasons was A.J. Turman. Turman redshirted in 2014 and did not accumulate a carry in 2015.

In an odd way, Turman’s biggest mark on Georgia football didn’t pop up until he decided to leave. His case became the tempest for Kirby Smart‘s restrictive transfer policy. Initially, Smart released Turman to schools only in Florida but not Florida or Miami. He eventually relented, barring him only from SEC schools and Georgia Tech, but Turman has decided to move on to Florida Atlantic.

“It was hard at first, just leaving Georgia and everything, the fans and all my good friends. I love Georgia, I still do. I just feel like it’s the best thing for me,” Turman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I was blessed to have the opportunity that a lot of schools were still interested in me. I took a lot of visits.  … It’s been a long journey, but I’m just glad it’s at an end, and I can go on and play football.”

Turman will have to sit out 2016, but hopes to gain back a year through a medical redshirt. “And it’s looking like I should be able to get it,” he said.