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AP Top 25: SEC, ACC lead the way with six ranked teams

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The Alabama Crimson Tide remain firmly in first place after the votes from the AP voters were tabulated this weekend. No. 1 Alabama received 53 first-place votes to stay comfy on top of this week’s AP poll. They are followed by No. 2 Ohio State, with six first-place votes, and No. 3 Clemson, with one first-place vote. Michigan also received a first-place vote once again this week and is fourth in the latest AP ranking. Following a dominating victory over Stanford, Washington jumped up five spots to crack this week’s top five at No. 5.

No. 6 Houston remained in the same spot this week, but No. 7 Louisville fell just behind them following a road loss at Clemson Saturday night. No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 10 Miami all moved up this week to round out the top 10 in the AP poll.

No. 11 Wisconsin fell just three spots following a defensive battle in Ann Arbor. This is mildly interesting, as Louisville fell four spots following a different kind of back-and-forth game on the road against Clemson, whom the voters rank higher than Michigan this week.

No. 14 Ole Miss moved up two spots following a win at home against Memphis. At 3-2, the Rebels remain nine spots ahead of 3-2 Florida State (No. 23). The Seminoles won a head-to-head matchup with Ole Miss but the voters appear to be crushing FSU for a last-second loss at home to No. 17 North Carolina and a blowout loss at Louisville more than Ole Miss giving up double-digit leads to Alabama and FSU in losses. Polls can be funny sometimes.

There is nothing funny about Colorado, though. The Buffs return to the AP Top 25 this week and debut at No. 21. It is the first time since 2005 the Buffs are ranked by the AP voters, and they also made a return to the coaches poll today. North Carolina, No. 22 West Virginia and No. 25 Virginia Tech also make their first appearance sin the AP poll this season, and No. 22 Oklahoma makes its return after falling out after a 1-2 start.

Here is the AP Top 25 breakdown by conference:

  1. SEC – 6 (Alabama, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Florida)
    ACC – 6 (Clemson, Louisville, Miami, UNC, Florida State, Virginia Tech)
  2. Big Ten – 4 (Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska)
    Pac-12 – 4 (Washington, Stanford, Colorado, Utah)
  3. Big 12 – 3 (Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia)
  4. American Athletic Conference – 1 (Houston)
    Mountain West Conference – 1 (Boise State)

Here is this week’s AP Top 25, with first-place votes noted:

  1. Alabama (53)
  2. Ohio state (6)
  3. Clemson (1)
  4. Michigan (1)
  5. Washington
  6. Houston
  7. Louisville
  8. Texas A&M
  9. Tennessee
  10. Miami
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Nebraska
  13. Baylor
  14. Ole Miss
  15. Stanford
  16. Arkansas
  17. North Carolina
  18. Florida
  19. Boise State
  20. Oklahoma
  21. Colorado
  22. West Virginia
  23. Florida State
  24. Utah
  25. Virginia Tech

Ken Sparks, fifth-winningest coach at any level in college football history, dies at age 73

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College football has lost a coaching legend of the sport that you may never have heard of.

Carson-Newman announced Wednesday morning that its legendary former head football coach, Ken Sparks, passed away earlier in the day at the age of 73.  Sparks had been battling prostate cancer since being diagnosed in 2012, but doctors stopped treating him in January of this year.

According to WBIR-TV, Sparks had been in hospice care for the last several weeks.

Sparks was the head coach at Carson-Newman from 1980 through November of 2016, when he stepped down because of health concerns. During his time at the Div. II program — the first baker’s dozen years they were an NAIA school — the Eagles went 338-99-2. Sparks laid claim to five NAIA national championships and qualified for the Div. II playoffs 15 times in 24 years, although they failed to win a title at that latter level.

The 338 wins for Sparks are the fifth-most at any level of college football, behind only John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409), Eddie Robinson (408) and Bobby Bowden (377).

Alabama won’t be rushing Bo Scarbrough back this spring

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Not surprisingly, Alabama is going to err on the side of caution when it comes to one the most productive horses in its backfield stable.

On a second-down carry late in the third quarter of the national championship game loss to Clemson, Bo Scarbrough went down with an injury that turned out to be a fractured bone in his lower right leg.  The rising sophomore running back has recovered enough to be a participant in the Crimson Tide’s spring practice during some drills, albeit in non-contact mode.

Following the fourth practice of the spring Tuesday, Nick Saban made it clear made it clear that, while Scarbrough is getting some work in, the football program won’t be pushing him.

“Bo is doing more and more every day,” the head coach said according to al.com. “He did quite a bit today in practice, non-contact stuff, but he’s sort of gaining confidence. Our goal for Bo is by the end of spring, he’s fully confident that he can do everything he needs to do. Whether he ever scrimmages or is really something that we’re not that concerned about.”

It’s expected Scarbrough, barring a setback between now and then, will be fully recovered well ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

Scarbrough’s 812 yards rushing year was second amongst Tide backs, while his 11 rushing touchdowns were second on the team.  He ran for 180 of those yards and two of the touchdowns in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Washington, then had 93 yards and two more touchdowns before going down with the injury in the title game.

Western Kentucky hoops star to give Hilltoppers football a try

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Coming off a season in which he was the best player on Western Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, Justin Johnson is going to try his hand at another sport.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Johnson will practice with the Hilltoppers football team for the remainder of spring practice. The 6-7 forward will, not surprisingly, spend his time at tight end.

At the end of practices this spring, a WKU official told CFT, both sides will determine what if any future Johnson has in the sport.

Johnson admitted in one interview earlier this basketball season that he grew up wanting to play linebacker for Ohio State, and he did play two years of football at his Kentucky high school. Despite the fact that both Kentucky and Louisville had interest in him as a tight end, he ended up signing with WKU’s hoops team in 2014.

That decision has worked out well for both parties as Johnson has led the team in scoring and rebounding each of the past two seasons. He led Conference USA in the latter category as well as double-doubles, and was named second-team all-conference after his junior season.

Victim of alleged WKU football attack plans to file charges

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A former Western Kentucky fraternity member says he was attacked by a group of Hilltoppers football players and plans to file charges.

Jerald Armfield, an alum of WKU’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, told WBKO-TV he was caught in an ongoing feud between the fraternity and the football team:

“I went to the house in the best interest of the fraternity and Western as a whole to prevent any type of violence from occurring. We got up there and realized they were all hiding behind garbage cans, trees, and buildings.”

“I never in my wildest dreams thought they would attack me in the manner that they did. They all started surrounding me. One of them threw a rock at me. It was within a few seconds that one of them punched me in the face.”

“I fell down. I was kicked several times. The whole time they were beating me, I was begging them to stop, telling them I wasn’t here the night before, I had nothing to to do with it, like please stop, please stop, and they didn’t.”

Armfield said between nine and 10 people ultimately attacked him; it isn’t known for sure how many of that group are on the football team, though the program’s involvement in the incident is being investigated.

“We are aware of the allegations involving a few members of our football team,” the program said in the statement when word of the altercation broke three weeks ago. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities. However, at this time, we have not received a police report and cannot provide further comment.”

While the status of the investigation is currently unknown, Armfield told WBKO he would like it to end with multiple charges. “I made it very clear that night when the police arrived on the scene that I wanted charges pressed,” he said. “As far as I know a detective from Bowling Green Police Department has it. As it stands right now, I still want charges pressed. They need to be held accountable for what they did not only as citizens but as students at Western.”