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The Fifth Quarter: Week 9 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

CRYSTAL BALLING INITIAL CFP TOP FOUR
With nine weeks of the 2015 season tucked neatly into bed, we’re on the cusp of the initial set of rankings that will ultimately produce the four teams that will play for a national championship.

On Tuesday, the College Football Playoff committee will release its first Top 25 of the new football year.  After Tuesday, four more sets of rankings will be released before the final one in early December that seats the four semifinalists at the playoff table.

So, how will the initial top four look a couple of days from now?  Before getting to that, let’s take a look back at the first year of the CFP and its inaugural set of rankings — and the major polls that came out around that time as well.

488830428For the Week 10 polls in 2014, the Associated Press and coaches had the exact same first four in the same order: Mississippi State, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn.  The CFP had the same top two as the polls, with Auburn initially slotted at No. 3.  The committee’s fourth?  Ole Miss.  The Rebels were No. 7 according to the AP, No. 9 per the coaches.  While it doesn’t mean the committee will follow a similar pattern this year, it should mean there will be little deviation from the polls to the first CFP rankings this year or any other.

As it stands now, the AP and coaches’ poll have the same teams at No. 1 (Ohio State), No. 2 (Baylor) and No. 4 (LSU).  The media has Clemson, TCU and Michigan State at Nos. 3, 5 and 6, respectively, while the coaches have it TCU, Michigan State and Clemson at the same spots.  CFP translation?  Ohio State, Baylor and LSU will be in the initial first four, and many would probably get to that same conclusion without the aid of inconsequential polls.

For the final spot, and realizing that more than three may/will be considered by the actual committee, let’s go to the résumés:

Clemson
— six wins vs. Power Five teams
— one win vs. currently ranked teams
— three P5 road wins
— current record of P5 opponents: 27-23 (.540)
— average margin of victory vs. P5 opponents: 17.5 ppg (skewed significantly by 58-0 win over Miami)

Michigan State
— five wins vs. P5 teams
— one win vs. currently ranked teams
— two P5 road wins
— current record of P5 opponents: 20-20 (.500)
— average margin of victory vs. P5 opponents: 8.6 ppg

TCU
— six wins vs. P5 teams
— zero wins vs. currently ranked teams
— four P5 road wins
— current record of P5 opponents: 21-26 (.447)
— average margin of victory vs. P5 opponents: 18.8 ppg

The verdict?  It’s close between all three of those listed, but I think, maybe, the committee would go with the Tigers in this scenario.  The first four order?  I’m going to go with LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Baylor.  Again, that’s my guesstimation as to the committee’s order, not my personal opinion.

At this time last year, there were two undefeated Power Five teams.  This year, there are a whopping eight from the P5s, and another three from the Group of Five for good measure.  That sheer number is one reason I believe, right or wrong, one-loss teams like Alabama and Stanford won’t yet be considered by the committee for one of the top four spots.  The nature of the schedule will naturally whittle the list of unbeatens down to a half dozen or less in the coming weeks, though, allowing teams like the Tide and Cardinal to make their way into playoff consideration — especially if it’s a team like the Tide that can help whittle down the list of undefeated teams beginning this coming weekend.

One final note: the eventual national champion, the Ohio State Buckeyes, was 16th in the first CFP rankings.  Just remember that when the initial rankings this year are released.

SATURDAY RESET
Below is a list of links for all of the Week 9 gamers posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. LSU — I think this is the best team in the country, but even I can’t say exactly how good the Tigers truly are.  After a Week 10 trip to Tuscaloosa, we all will be able to tell a whole hell of a lot more about the Bayou Bengals — and their opponents, for that matter. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: at No. 8 Alabama, Nov. 7

2. Baylor — Even as they’ve steamrolled the competition, the Bears are still looking for a signature win against a quality opponent.  After this Thursday, they’ll get the opportunity to rectify that as they’ll face No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 5 TCU in back-to-back-to-back weeks. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: at Kansas State, Nov. 5

3. Ohio State — Were it not for J.T. Barrett‘s off-field situation, I would’ve moved the Buckeyes above the Bears and behind the Tigers.  Now, I almost dropped them out of the Top Five.  The Barrett-led Buckeyes are a national title contender; the Cardale Jones-led Buckeyes are an upset loss waiting to happen. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. Minnesota, Nov. 7

4. TCU — The Horned Frogs are getting healthier, especially on defense, which is bad news for the rest of the playoff contenders.  The Thursday night win over West Virginia may have been their most solid all-around performance since Week 1. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: at Oklahoma State, Nov. 7

5. Clemson — I spent waaayyy too much time trying to decide on the fifth team in a meaningless Top Five, vacillating endlessly between undefeated Clemson and one-loss Stanford.  I ultimately went with the Tigers because the résumés were close enough that the Cardinal’s loss tipped the scales toward the team from the ACC. (Last week: No. NR)
Next up: at Colorado, Nov. 7

(Dropped out: Stanford)
(Others considered: Stanford)

2014 Heisman Trophy PresentationHEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at how the top contenders for this year’s stiff-armed trophy fared this past week.

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU (8-0, No. 5)
Thursday: 32-47 (68.1%), 388 yards, three touchdowns; 11 carries for 84 yards (7.7 ypc), one touchdown
Season: 198-297 (66.7%), 2,927 yards, 28 touchdowns, five interceptions; 88 carries for 524 yards (5.9 ypc), five touchdowns

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (7-0, No. 1)
Saturday: did not play (bye)
Season: 47 receptions for 962 yards, 18 touchdowns; 11 carries for 49 rushing yards

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (7-1, No. 17)
Saturday: did not play (injured)
Season: 127 carries for 1,037 yards (8.2 ypc), 11 touchdowns; 15 receptions for 181 yards, one touchdown

Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (8-0, No. 5)
Thursday: 11 receptions for 183 yards, one touchdown; one carry for one yard
Season: 71 receptions for 1,250 yards, 14 touchdowns; two carries for seven yards

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (8-0, No. 1)
Saturday: did not play (bye)
Season: 167 carries for 1,130 yards (6.8 ypc), 13 touchdowns; 23 receptions for 160 yards

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (7-0, No. 4)
Saturday: did not play (bye)
Season: 176 carries for 1,352 yards (7.7 ypc), 15 touchdowns; seven receptions for 58 yards

Matt Johnson, QB, Bowling Green (7-2, NR)
Saturday: did not play (bye)
Season: 242-345 (70.1%), 3,321 yards, 29 touchdowns, three interceptions; 74 carries for 152 yards, three touchdowns

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (7-1, No. 8)
Saturday: 22 carries for 107 yards (5.7 ypc); four receptions for 26 yards; one punt return for three yards
Season: 175 carries for 1,060 yards (6.1 ypc), six touchdowns; 25 receptions for 310 yards, two touchdowns; 19 kick returns for 559 yards; nine punt returns for 25 yards

(Dropped out: None)
(Added: None)

JT’s Personal Top Fivesman
1. Fournette — The sophomore back has been the front-runner for most of the season, and for good reason: he’s the best player in college football playing for one of the best teams in the game.  It’ll take a superhuman effort over the next month to unseat him as the favorite.
2. Boykin — As an individual who plays the preferred position of voters, the only senior in the group has what it takes to put up a superhuman effort over the next month to “catch” Fournette.  The fact that he still has three high-profile games left (unbeaten Baylor and Oklahoma State, plus Oklahoma) leaves him with the best chance of overtaking the front-runner.
3. Elliott — The lone junior on my list, Elliott has rushed for 100 or more yards in a nation’s best 13 straight games.  There may be uncertainty at the quarterback position in Columbus, but Elliott’s the one constant, sure thing on that side of the ball.
4. Cook — Entering Week 9, the sophomore was responsible for 85 percent of FSU’s rushing yards and rushing touchdowns even as he’s accounted for just 55 percent of the Seminoles’ carries.  That screams MVP if not Heisman.
5. McCaffrey — If you haven’t noticed, the sophomore is the only player west of the Rockies on most if not all of these types of Heisman lists.  That could greatly aid the multi-purpose star’s efforts to at least get a mid-December trip to New York City.

STATE OF NEBRASKA FOOTBALL
There was much joy in Lincoln when Bo Pelini and his volatility — and his nine-win seasons — were replaced by nice-guy Mike Riley.  After losing five of the first seven games of the Riley era by a total of 15 points, NU was embarrassed by a woeful Purdue football team that came into the game at 1-6 — and that lone win came against FCS Indiana State.

The final score?  Purdue 55, Nebraska 45.  The current record?  3-6, and in danger of going bowl-less for the first time since Bill Callahan‘s last season in 2007.  The current state of Husker Nation?  This pretty much sums it up.

POOP HAPPENS
Kentucky’s Cory Johnson is a 300-pound defensive lineman who is nicknamed “Poop” as he has an issue keeping his weight up because (warning! medical jargon ahead!he poops too much.  Gastrointestinal issues or not, Johnson proved Saturday night that he can still run a sizable distance to earn himself a fat-man touchdown.

BTW, the loss to Tennessee still leaves Kentucky two wins away from going boweling errrrrr bowling this postseason.  Sorry, had to go there, so to speak.

ARE YOU SPITTIN’ ME?
This will serve as one of the greatest non-scoring run-after-catches you’ll ever see in college football.  And one of the longest, too.

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
After Kenny Hill tore up South Carolina’s defense to start the 2014 season, the hype machine went into overdrive for the Texas A&M quarterback before ultimately dropping its transmission and blowing up before the end of the year.  Fast-forward a year, and A&M’s Kyler Murray carved up the defense from the same team in his first career start.  As the hype machine knows no bounds…

AIN’T NO HURDLE HIGH ENOUGH
Apparently, Penn State’s super freshman, Saquon Barkley, decided to dress up for Halloween as Edwin Moses.  Or Ezekiel Elliott.  One of the two.

PICK UP YOUR JOCKS, MANHOOD ON THE WAY OUT, PLEASE
What Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph did to the hapless Syracuse defense on this play is borderline criminal.

AN ALL-TIMER
With his 260th career catch, Colorado’s Nelson Spruce surpassed Arizona’s Mike Thomas as the all-time leader in Pac-12 history in receptions.  Below is Catch No. 260.

HELMET OF THE DAY
I’m not a huge fan, at all, of the alternate uniform craze that’s swept through college football the past few years, but these Halloween-themed helmets Boise State wore Saturday are pretty damn spectacular.

JUMPING THE LANDSHARK
From the soon-to-be-released movie “White Men Can’t Dance”…

TOMMY BOY SIGNAGE
You incorporate one of the greatest movies ever in your College GameDay sign, you will always merit a mention in ye olde Fifth Quarter.

I PICKED A BAD WEEK TO QUIT…
In the same vein as above, you reference “Airplane!”, you get mentioned.

Shirley

HALLOWEEN COSTUME OF THE DAY
This really needs no explanation whatsoever.  Well done, young man, dressing as an ACC official.

HE SAID IT
“I don’t mean this in a disingenuous — I really don’t care. I’m not worried about the playoffs. We’re still four games from the end of the Big Ten season. We’re going to enjoy this one. We’ll worry about our next opponent starting tomorrow afternoon.” — Kirk Ferentz, when asked about his 8-0 Iowa team’s standing in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Well guys, that was painful to say the least. I apologize for that but the end result was awesome.” — Jim McElwain, following Florida’s ugly 27-3 shredding of rival Georgia.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“Not good. We lost, and all that counts are wins and losses. It’s not a good feeling. It is something you wish you never have to experience.” — Georgia quarterback Faton Bauta, when was asked how he felt he played following a four-pick performance in his first collegiate start.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“I think we are all frustrated. We should be playing better, and there’s no question about it, we’ve got to get it figured out and play better. There’s no doubt about that.” — Cal head coach Sonny Dykes, whose Bears have lost three straight after opening 2015 with five straight wins.

HE SAID IT, THE FINAL ONE
“There were all sorts of issues that the conference has to resolve. That’s not my job. Call the ACC, they should have answers.” — David Cutcliffe, on the shoddy officiating (on both sides) in Duke’s wild last-second loss to Miami.

Meads Cup Final - North Otago v WanganuiSTREAKING
Eight wins to start the 2015 season pushed on-a-bye Ohio State’s nation’s best winning streak to 21 straight last Saturday.  Up next are TCU (16), Memphis (15), Michigan State (12), Clemson (11) and Toledo (10).

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, New Mexico State’s win in overtime over Idaho ended the nation’s longest losing streak at 17 in a row.  With that, Kansas is now the not-so-proud owners of the country’s longest at 11 straight, followed by UCF (10), Miami of Ohio (eight) and Eastern Michigan (seven).

GOING BOWLING
Entering Week 9, there were 33 teams that had secured bowl eligibility.  Exiting the weekend, there are now 40 teams eligible for the postseason with five weeks left in the regular season.  The newest additions totaled seven: Georgia Southern, Louisiana Tech, Navy, San Diego State, Southern Miss, Texas A&M and UCLA.

There are 41 bowl games this season — counting the two College Football Playoff semifinals — meaning 82 teams will need to reach the six-win threshold in order for teams with sub-.500 records to remain where they belong: at home during the postseason.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK I
Daniel Carlson has five 50-yard-plus field goals in his last eight games, exceeding the total of 50-yard field goals by all Auburn kickers in the previous 150 games combined (four), dating back to 2003.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
Of Wake Forest’s 168 points scored this season, 160 have been by true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK III
Wisconsin has attempted 35 or more passes six times this season, posting a 4-2 record in those games. From 1990 to 2014, the Badgers were 0-23-1 in games in which they passed the ball 35 or more times.

S.I.D NOTE OF THE WEEK IV
The win over then-No. 3 Utah was the first time an Associated Press unranked USC team beat an AP Top-Three-ranked team since the Trojans defeated No. 2 Texas A&M, 20-0, in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 22, 1975.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK V
No program in the nation has a higher graduation rate over the past four years than Stanford (99%). Furthermore, no Pac-12 Conference team has had more draftees over the past four years than Stanford (19).

OFF THE CHARTS
Courtesy of the Toledo sports information department, and entering Week 9

Current Receptions Streaks

OFF THE CHARTS, PART II
Courtesy of the Duke sports information department, and entering Week 9

Career Tackles

OFF THE CHARTS, PART III
Courtesy of the Air Force sports information department, and entering Week 9

Longest Active Scoring Streaks

 

SAY WHAT?
With two more today, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds now has 77 rushing touchdowns in his career, tying him with Wisconsin’s Montee Ball for the all-time FBS record.  Ball gathered his in 924 career rushes, Reynolds in 863.

YOU DON’T SAY
There are only eight females in the 128-team FBS in charge of the athletic training function of their football programs. Jennifer Brodeur (UMass), Ariko Iso (Oregon State), Sally Nogle (Michigan State) and Kelli Pugh (Virginia) are head football athletic trainers while Jennifer Brown (Eastern Michigan), Brandy Clouse (Georgia Southern), Mary Vander Heiden (UCF) and Dawn Hearn (UTEP) are sports medicine department heads.

DULY NOTED
In Week 8, Duke and Virginia Tech played the longest game in ACC history with a four-overtime affair. Prior to the Blue Devils’ 45-43 win over the Hokies, the longest game involving at least one ACC team was three overtimes (six occasions).

A DAY IN THE LIFE
Have you ever wondered what a typical in-season day is like for a football player at the Air Force Academy?  If so, today’s your lucky day.

Air Force Typical Day

461635158DID YOU KNOW THAT…

… Boise State’s Darian Thompson now has 19 career interceptions, breaking Utah’s Eric Weddle‘s Mountain West record of 18?  Thompson’s teammate, Donte Deayon, has 17 career picks.

… Arizona State’s D.J. Foster‘s streak of 48 straight games with a reception ties the Pac-12 record held by USC’s Kareem Kelly (1999-2002)?  Central Michigan’s Bryan Anderson (2006-09) holds the FBS record at 54 in a row.  Foster could actually tie that mark should 4-4 ASU reach the Pac-12 title game, although that seems unlikely.

… with 472 yards Thursday night, TCU’s Trevone Boykin became the 40th player in FBS history to top 12,000 yards of total offense?  The Horned Frogs quarterback now has 12,041 in his career.

… Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner has thrown for 300-plus yards in back-to-back games after not having a 300-yard game in the first 28 games of his career?  The Gophers, incidentally, are 0-2 these last two games.

… Blake Anderson became the first head coach in Arkansas State history with 12 or more wins in his first two seasons?  Gene Harlow (1955-56) and Steve Roberts (2002-03) won 11 each in their first two seasons.

Iowa v Illinois… Iowa is 8-0 for just the second time in the program’s history?  The first came in 2009, when the Hawkeyes started out 9-0 before losing in their 10th game.

… Clemson has won 17 of 18 games for the first time since the 1938-40 era?

… Temple’s game against Notre Dame Saturday was the Owls’ first playing a ranked team while they too were ranked?

… Washington State is the only team in the country with seven players who have caught 20 or more passes this season? They have nine players with at least 15 receptions.

… Air Force and Toledo are the only teams through nine weeks that have not given up a sack this season.  The Falcons have attempted 85 passes, the Rockets 253.

… UCF running backs did not have a rushing touchdown this season until its Week 9 loss to Cincinnati Saturday?  The Knights now have three touchdowns on the ground in 2015, the first two of which were scored by wide receiver Nick Patti.

… Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium is the oldest on-campus football facility in the FBS, having opened in 1913?  Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium (1914) is a year younger.

 

Academics will push 2017 four-star Auburn signee to a JUCO

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Until he gets his academic house in order, Alaric Williams‘ debut on The Plains will, at minimum, be delayed.

The 2017 signee confirmed via his Twitter account that, because he “came up short academically,” he will not play for Auburn this season.  Instead, the running back has signed with Garden City Community College and will play for the junior college in 2017.

In his tweet, Robinson intimated that, after his stint at the JUCO level, he’ll make his way to AU; whether that ultimately happens over the next several months remains to be seen.  The highly-touted signee also had a message for “the young recruits who are being highly recruited.”

“School is not something you play with,” the Alabama product wrote, adding, “I wish I would’ve realized that from the day I started high school.”

A four-star member of the Tigers’ most recent recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Alabama. In addition to running back, the 6-0, 195-athlete was also being looked at as a slot receiver in AU’s offense.

Ex-Rutgers QB officially enrolls at San Diego State

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Three months after it was initially indicated, Chris Laviano officially has a new college football home.

According to a press release, Laviano has signed an offer-in-aid and is enrolled in classes for the summer session at San Diego State.  The move paves the way for the quarterback to join the Aztecs football team for the upcoming season.

As Laviano is moving on to SDSU as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017.  This will be Laviano’s final season of eligibility.

In late November of last year, Laviano opted to transfer from Rutgers.  Prior to that, Laviano had started 18 consecutive games for the Scarlet Knights until he was benched in October of last year.

In 2015, Laviano completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 2,247 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The completion percentage was the best for an RU player since 2008, while the yardage was good for eighth in school history.

Overall, he tossed 21 touchdowns and 15 picks during his time in Piscataway.

At SDSU, Laviano will compete with, among others, the incumbent Christian Chapman for the starting job. The 2016 starter missed spring practice this year as he recovered surgery on his thumb he underwent this offseason.

In his first full season as the starter, Chapman completed 153-of-251 passes for 1,994 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.  His 149.2 pass efficiency was second among Mountain West signal-callers.

Highest-rated signee in TCU’s 2015 recruiting class to transfer

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Ratings-wise, Deshawn Raymond was the crown jewel of TCU’s 2015 recruiting class.  Two years later, he’s gone.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Raymond announced that he has decided to transfer from the Horned Frogs and continue his collegiate playing career at an undetermined elsewhere. “I want to thank [head coach Gary Patterson] for giving me this golden opportunity and allowing me to be apart [sic] of something special,” the cornerback wrote. “I appreciate everything y’all did for me.”

A four-star 2015 signee, Raymond was rated as the No. 27 corner in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Louisiana. According to 247Sports.com‘s ratings, no player in the Horned Frogs class was rated higher than Raymond.

In addition to TCU, he held offers from, among others, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Nebraska and Texas A&M. He took official visits to Nebraska and MSU, and a handful of unofficial visits to LSU.

After playing in 11 games as a true freshman, Raymond didn’t see the field at all in 2016. Should the defensive back land at another FBS program, he’d be forced to sit out the 2017 season. He would then have two seasons of eligibility to use beginning in 2018.

North Carolina approves contract extension for Larry Fedora

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Heading into his sixth season at North Carolina, Larry Fedora will do so armed with a revamped deal.

Early Thursday afternoon, the university announced that a contract extension for Fedora has been formally approved by the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.  Fedora is now under contract through the 2022 season.

“We are pleased that the Board of Trustees has approved the terms of Coach Fedora’s contract, which will allow him to continue our football program’s success into the next decade,” said UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham in a statement. “Under his leadership, our student-athletes are succeeding in the classroom, contributing positively to our community – and competing for championships. We know this was a lengthy process, but we wanted to make sure the terms were appropriate for both Coach Fedora and the University.”

Fedora’s 2016 compensation of just under $2 million was 11th out of the 11 ACC head coaches listed in USA Today‘s salary database.  The new deal will pay Fedora $2.29 million in 2017, which would’ve been ninth among conference coaches last season.

Below are the salary breakdowns for each year of the new contract:

In his five seasons with the Tar Heels, Fedora has gone 40-25 overall and 26-14 in ACC play. His wins are already fifth in school history, while his .615 winning percentage is second since UNC joined the ACC in 1953.

In 2015, the Tar Heels played in their first-ever conference championship game en route to an 11-win season that was the program’s best since Mack Brown’s last year in Chapel Hill and tied for the most in school history.

“I enjoy coaching at the University of North Carolina and I appreciate the trust Chancellor Folt and Bubba Cunningham have shown in the leadership of our program,” Fedora said. “Our staff and players have worked diligently over the last five years to build a program that encompasses all aspects of the student-athlete experience, while simultaneously achieving success on the field.”