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15 semifinalists unveiled for prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year Award

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One of the most prestigious awards in college football has whittled down the list of players who will be able to claim the famed hardware this season.

Wednesday, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 “Players to Watch,” essentially semifinalists, for its prestigious Player of the Year Award. The Camp Award is voted on by the 130 FBS head coaches/sports information directors and is the fourth-oldest award in the sport.

“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Foundation president Michael Madera said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”

Players on both sides of the ball are eligible, but just four defensive players made the cut — North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami defensive back Jaquan Johnson and Washington defensive end Hercules Mala’afa. Six of the 15 semifinalists are quarterbacks, the other five are running backs.

Only two players from a Group of Five program, Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton and San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, are included.

Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, last year’s Camp winner, is a semifinalist once again.

Below is the complete “Players to Watch” list:

Josh Adams, RB, Junior, Notre Dame
Saquon Barkley, RB, Junior, Penn State
Bradley Chubb, DE, Senior, North Carolina State
Sam Darnold, QB, Sophomore, USC
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Junior, Alabama
Baker Mayfield, QB, Senior, Oklahoma
Lamar Jackson, QB, Junior, Louisville
Jaquan Johnson, DB, Junior, Miami
Bryce Love, RB, Junior, Stanford
Hercules Mala’afa, DE, Junior, Washington State
McKenzie Milton, QB, Sophomore, UCF
Rashaad Penny, RB, Senior, San Diego State
Mason Rudolph, QB, Senior, Oklahoma State
Khalil Tate, QB, Sophomore, Arizona
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Freshman, Wisconsin

Alabama the new No. 1 in College Football Playoff ranking; Clemson moves to No. 2, Oklahoma and Miami crack top four

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After quite an active weekend in college football, the selection committee for the College Football Playoff had some work to do with their weekly rankings. Having the benefit of letting the dust settle from the flurry of activity seen over the weekend, the committee gathered as they do on a weekly basis, discussed their thoughts and cooked up a fresh batch of rankings, including a familiar name as this week’s new No. 1.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are back on top of the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time since the final rankings of the 2016 season. What may have been a bit surprising was the rise of Clemson to No. 2, ahead of No. 3 Miami and No. 4 Oklahoma. The committee appears to be giving Clemson credit for their earlier wins because the Tigers have not particularly have been as good as Oklahoma, or Miami. But Clemson was unquestionably going to be in the top four, and the rankings at this point really mean very little as far as the specific seeding is concerned, especially with Clemson locked into the ACC Championship Game against Miami.

What was questioned was how the committee would rank an unbeaten Wisconsin against a two-loss Auburn after last week. The Badgers stayed just ahead of the Tigers, and Wisconsin is the first team out at this point. If Wisconsin wins out, the Badgers will have the door left open with the assumption they would move past either Clemson or Miami after one takes a loss in the ACC Championship Game.

The committee also moved Ohio State and Penn State into the bottom fo the top 10 this week, providing a good path to a possible late playoff push for Wisconsin or Ohio State. USC is the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team at No. 11 this week, suggesting the Pac-12 still needs a good amount of help to get a team in the playoff this year.

UCF remains the highest-ranked team in the Group of Five hunt, but they continue to be joined by their conference allies from the AAC with Memphis moving up one spot this week. There is also a new Group of Five challenger on the selection committee’s radar with Boise State rounding out the top 25 this week.

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Miami
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Auburn
  7. Georgia
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Ohio State
  10. Penn State
  11. USC
  12. TCU
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. Washington State
  15. UCF
  16. Mississippi State
  17. Michigan State
  18. Washington
  19. NC State
  20. LSU
  21. Memphis
  22. Stanford
  23. Northwestern
  24. Michigan
  25. Boise State

 

Miami and Oklahoma move into top four of AP Top 25

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Georgia and Notre Dame each managed to stay in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 this week after getting blown out on the road, which has allowed both Miami and Oklahoma to move into the top four this week. Miami even picked up some first-place votes from the AP voters following their dominating performance against the Fighting Irish.

No. 1 Alabama remains on top of the poll with a sizable share of the first-place votes from the voters. Miami’s ranking at No. 2 is the highest Miami has been ranked in the AP poll since the 2003 season when they reached the same spot in the poll.

No. 3 Oklahoma moved past No. 4 Clemson and took advantage of No. 7 Georgia and No. 9 Notre Dame falling in the polls. The AP voters kept No. 5 Wisconsin ahead of No. 6 Auburn, and the Tigers did move ahead of the Georgia team they just demolished. No. 8 Ohio State and No. 10 Oklahoma State each jumped into the top 10 this week. No. 11 TCU fell three spots to fall out of the top 10, while No. 12 USC and No. 13 Penn State each moved up three spots to just on the outside of the top 10. The Trojans and Nittany Lions each moved ahead of No. 14 UCF, who remained in the same spot in the poll this week. No. 16 Washington also tumbled out of the top 10, falling five spots, yet they remain in front of the team that beat them Friday night, No. 20 Stanford.

No. 17 Mississippi State actually moved up one spot in the poll this week despite losing at home to Alabama. Meanwhile, No. 24 West Virgina won on the road and dropped one spot in the poll.

Here is this week’s AP Top 25:

  1. Alabama (57 first-place votes)
  2. Miami (4)
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Clemson
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Auburn
  7. Georgia
  8. Ohio State
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. TCU
  12. USC
  13. Penn State
  14. UCF
  15. Washington State
  16. Washington
  17. Mississippi State
  18. Memphis
  19. Michigan
  20. Stanford
  21. LSU
  22. Michigan State
  23. USF
  24. West Virginia
  25. NC State

Miami surges to No. 2 in coaches poll; Alabama sweeps first-place votes

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You knew there would be some drastic changes in this week’s Amway Coaches Poll after the way Week 11 went down, and there certainly was. Following a dismantling of Notre Dame, No. 2 Miami rocketed up four spots to trail only No. 1 Alabama. The Crimson Tide remain the only team to receive any first-place votes from the coaches this week.

No. 6 Auburn also made a worthy move up four spots in this week’s ranking and the coaches even do the correct thing in putting the two-loss Tigers just ahead of No. 7 Georgia. Had it been a closer result, Georgia may have managed to stay just ahead of Auburn given the ridiculous nature of the coaches poll at times, but this felt like the right call to anyone who watched Auburn’s performance against the Bulldogs.

No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Wisconsin swapped spots in the coaches poll this week, despite the Badgers remaining undefeated and Clemson struggling to put Florida State until late in the game on Saturday. No. 5 Oklahoma moved up two spots, and No. 8 Ohio State bumped up three spots to re-enter the top 10 this week. No. 9 Notre Dame fell four spots to remain in the top 10, while No. 10 USC moved up four spots to crack the top 10.

No. 12 UCF remains the highest-ranked Group of Five team in the coaches poll, as expected. But they were passed in the poll this week by USC and No. 11 Penn State. Other notable drops in the polls this week were experienced by No. 14 TCU (down five) and No. 15 Washington (down seven). No. 24 Michigan State took the hardest fall, dropping eight spots. No. 23 Stanford returned to the poll this week while Virginia Tech and Iowa State each fell out of the poll this week. No. 25 West Virginia filled the other remaining spot at the bottom of the poll as a result.

Here is this week’s full coaches poll, with first-place votes noted.

  1. Alabama (63 first-place votes)
  2. Miami
  3. Clemson
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Auburn
  7. Georgia
  8. Ohio State
  9. Notre Dame
  10. USC
  11. Penn State
  12. UCF
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. TCU
  15. Washington
  16. Washington State
  17. Memphis
  18. Michigan
  19. Mississippi State
  20. USF
  21. LSU
  22. NC State
  23. Stanford
  24. Michigan State
  25. West Virginia

Others receiving votes: Virginia Tech, Northwestern, Arizona, Boise State, South Carolina, Iowa, Kentucky, Army, San Diego State, Iowa State, Troy, Ohio

USC clinches Pac-12 South with win over Colorado, leaving three Power Five divisions unsettled

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Five down, three to go.

On the strength of Sam Darnold‘s right arm, USC eventually outlasted a feisty Colorado 20-0 in Boulder.  Darnold, who could be the overall No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft if he decides to forego his final season of eligibility, passed for 329 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He added a touchdown run for good measure.

Ronald Jones chipped in 132 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground, while the Trojans returned one interception — and nearly a second late — for a score as well.

USC is now 7-1 in conference play with one game, rival UCLS, remaining.  Two teams, Arizona and Arizona State, are at 4-2 entering Week 11 although only one could potentially tie USC as the in-state rivals square off in the regular-season finale, leaving one with at least three conference losses.  That doesn’t matter, though, as the Trojans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams.

As such, USC is headed to its first Pac-12 championship game since 2015 and its second ever since the game was first played in 2011.

Just who they will face remains very much up in the air as Stanford (6-2), Washington (5-2) and Washington State (5-2) are all still vying for the North’s spot.  The Cardinal beat the Huskies Friday night, but lost to the Cougars in Week 10.  Stanford will be hoping for a win over Cal next weekend and a Wazzu loss to UW in the Apple Cup two weeks from now to clinch.  If the Cougars win out, they will represent the division regardless of what happens with the Cardinal; the Huskies need to win their remaining two games and have the Cardinal trip up against the Bears.

The Pac-12 South is the fifth Power Five division to be decided, joining both the ACC Atlantic (today) and Coastal (also today), the Big Ten West (also today) and the SEC East.  That leaves, along with the Pac-12 North, the Big Ten East — Ohio State has essentially wrapped up that division, though — and the SEC West still without an official champion.