Mangum Miracle at Memorial: BYU stuns Nebraska on last-second Hail Mary


Nebraska (0-1) fans had to feel concerned when one second was left on the clock as BYU’s (1-0) last offensive possession was running out of time. Just as it did in 2009 in the Big 12 championship game against Texas, that last second came back to haunt Nebraska. BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, in relief of an injured Taysom Hill, unloaded a Hail Mary pass to the end zone, and Mitch Matthews somehow came down with it across the goal line for a wild 33-28 lead and the win. The officials needed to review the final play, but it did not take long to confirm the call on the field for the game-winning touchdown. It was Mangum’s only touchdown pass of the game.

After the game BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hill is done for the season. The quarterback was roughed up at times and needed to leave the game twice for medical attention. That will put the offense in the hands of Mangum moving forward, and that is a tough blow to BYU.

BYU established some dominance in the first half by taking a 24-14 lead into halftime, but the Cornhuskers roared back in the second half to take a 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter. But BYU clamped down and prevented Nebraska from tacking on any more points. Meanwhile, the offense chipped away and moved into position to pull the stunner on Nebraska.

Hill ended his day with 268 passing yards and a touchdown pass to go with his 72 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. His counterpart, Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, had 318 passing yards and three touchdowns, while the running game split contributions in the post-Ameer Abdullah era.

For Nebraska, at least it wasn’t the worst loss of the day suffered by a Big Ten team (that distinction belongs to Penn State). It did, however, do nothing to help boost the Big Ten’s sluggish start to the season’s non-conference action. Michigan and Minnesota each lost to power conference teams on Thursday night. Penn State just went down to Temple. Now Nebraska had a setback against BYU. These are the types of games the Big Ten could not afford to lose to carry over momentum gained from a nice postseason run last year. But hey, at least Northwestern topped Stanford today, so it’s not all bad for the Big Ten and Big Ten West (Wisconsin vs. Alabama pending).

For BYU, this is a great start to a very challenging September. The Cougars have Boise State, UCLA and Michigan still to play, but breaking even with a 2-2 record was always viewed as a realistic possibility and a positive start to the season. That’s still in the fold for BYU. Heck, a winning record may not be impossible to grab.

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: Top 25


Yes, I know — another meaningless preseason poll tossed atop the overflowing pile of myriad other meaningless preseason polls. Hey, but at least this one isn’t SEC-heavy, so we have that going for us, which is nice.

OK, technically it’s not as SEC-heavy as others as this one contains “just” six teams from that conference and just two in the Top 10, the same number that comes from the Pac-12 for the former and one less than that league’s three in the latter.  For comparison’s sake, the preseason coaches’ poll included eight teams from the SEC (three in the Top 10), while the FWAA Super 16 poll saw five teams man those 16 spots (three Top 10 as well).

The Big 12 and Big Ten are also well-represented here, with four teams apiece making the cut.  The ACC brought up the Power Five rear with three teams included.

Rounding up the Top 25 conference-wise was one from the football independents (guess who!) and just one, Boise State, from the Group of Five.

Below is the entire Top 25, which was a consensus of polls cobbled together by myself, Kevin McGuire and three other individuals who would prefer to remain nameless.  Below that is where you may complain and/or whine and/or moan about how disrespected your team and/or your conference is.

Enjoy.  And complain/whine/moan.

1. Ohio State
With all due respect to those who think otherwise, how could any other be team be slotted in this spot? Not only are they the defending national champions who topped the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country to end the season — not to mention putting a 59-0 Big Ten title game pasting on a Wisconsin team that finished the season ranked 13th — but the Buckeyes return 15 starters from that squad. And then there’s the schedule. After a season-opening road trip to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech, the only team to leave a blemish on last year’s 14-1 mark, OSU will be double-digit favorites in every game leading up to the Nov. 21 home game against Michigan State. A repeat is far from a given, but given the combination of returning talent and schedule, it’s a given the Buckeyes will have a realistic shot at going back-to-back.

2. TCU
With Trevone Boykin back leading the offense as a Heisman Trophy favorite, you know the Horned Frogs should have plenty of sizzle on offense. TCU returns 10 starters on offense, and Gary Patterson should manage to keep the defense up to par to live up to Big 12 favorite hype. TCU could very well run the table this season, assuring the Big 12 of not being left out of the playoff this season.

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwu4ntgznjrlzde2ndvmzdaxndvhmmy1nwrlywu3ymq13. Auburn
As detailed in the Six-Pack of Storylines, the SEC’s hope for a return to Title Land could very well hinge on the Tigers.  And the Tigers return to prominence could very well hinge on Will Muschamp, the fired Florida head coach who was brought in by Gus Malzahn to revamp and rebuild an AU defense that spewed water and oil all over the field in 2014.  The run-heavy spread offense should be in capable hands, even with new triggerman Jeremy Johnson under center; how the defense fares with Muschamp as its general will determine just how far Malzahn’s troops will go in 2015.

4. Oregon
The Ducks may still be the team to beat in the Pac-12, but the gap could be closing between Oregon and other Pac-12 contenders. Gone is Marcus Mariota but the offense should continue to pile up big numbers with FCS transfer Vernon Adams likely stepping in. There could be a bit of an adjustment, and an early road contest at Michigan State could be trouble, but Oregon should still manage to be among the best out west.

5. Michigan State
The Spartans have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Connor Cook, a stout offensive line and, despite the loss of coordinator Pat Narduzzi and all four “No Fly Zone” starters in the secondary, one of the top defensive in the Big Ten, but could still find themselves anywhere from a one-loss team to one with three or more.  Why the latter projection?  One, they have to replace their top two running backs.  Two, their schedule includes road trips to Ohio State, in-state rival Michigan and Nebraska, as well as a home game against an Oregon team in Week 2 that will be a consensus Top-Five squad.

6. Arizona State
In a conference with plenty of quarterback talent, Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici could be one of the best. With a sturdy offensive line in front of him, Bercovici will still have to build some new chemistry with his receivers, but D.J. Foster is back and he can provide some options in Todd Graham’s offense. Defensively the Sun Devils bring back seven starters and should be one of the more stable defensive units outside of Utah and Stanford.


FCS-to-Ducks transfer one of 30 QBs on Unitas Award watch list


Even as one high-profile FCS transfer has yet to be officially added to his new Power Five program’s roster, he’s still highly thought of by at least one major award.

Tuesday, the fine folks at the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award released its preseason watch list, with the annual award given to the best college senior or fourth-year junior quarterback recognizing 30 players who meet the qualifications.  And, again, those qualifications are that they are, one, a quarterback and, two, are a college senior or fourth-year junior.

Included in that group of 30 is Vernon Adams, one of the most decorated players in the Football Championship Series who announced in February of this year that he would be transferring from Eastern Washington to Oregon for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  In early July it was reported that Adams had been admitted to UO and ruled eligible to enroll in classes at the university.  However, Adams will likely miss at least the first three days of the Ducks’ summer camp that begins Aug. 10 as he cleans up one final class that will allow him formal admission and his inclusion on his new squad’s roster.

There’s also one current FCS quarterback in the group: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

In addition to Adams and Wentz, 2014 Unitas finalists Cody Kessler of USC and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State are included in the initial watch list.   Last year’s winner was the man Adams will attempt to replace, Marcus Mariota.

Below is the complete list of preseason Unitas Award watch listers.  And, again, those eligible are college senior or fourth-year junior quarterbacks.

Vernon Adams, Oregon
Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Mike Bercovici, Arizona State
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Blake Frohnapfel, UMass
Everett Golson, Florida State
Taysom Hill, BYU
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Driphus Jackson, Rice
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Cody Kessler, USC
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
Joe Licata, Buffalo
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Maty Mauk, Missouri
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah

Ole Miss’ upset of ‘Bama, Marcus Mariota claim ESPYs


In somewhat of an upset given the others in its category, it was a 2014 college football game that claimed one of the numerous honors handed out at Wednesday night’s ESPY awards show.

And, fittingly enough, it was Ole Miss’ shocking of Alabama last year that claimed the ESPY for Best Upset. The others in the category were Georgia State stunning Baylor in March Madness this past spring and the Kansas City Royals sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series last fall.

Heading into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in early October last year, the Tide was cruising through the first half of its slate at 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country in the coaches’ poll. An hour of game time after kickoff, however, the goalposts came tumbling down as the Rebels claimed a 23-17 win over the Tide.

That win provided a couple of firsts for the Rebels football program: first win over the Tide since 2003, and its first-ever over a team ranked No. 1 in the country.  As the season wore on, though, it looked less and less like an upset as the Rebels finished the regular season at 9-3 and ranked ninth in the final College Football Playoff rankings. The fact that the ESPYs were voted on via online fan voting, though, may have something to do with this SEC team coming out on top in its category.

Additionally, former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was named the Best Male College Athlete.  The 2014 Heisman winner — as well as the winner of the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Unitas awards — Mariota left the Ducks as the all-time passing leader in nearly every major statistical categories and led Oregon to the brink of the first national championship in the program’s history.  This past April, Mariota was the second overall pick of the Tennessee Titans in the NFL draft.

The other male college athletes up for the award were Boston University hockey player Jack Eichel, Wisconsin basketball player Frank Kaminsky, Ohio State wrestler Logan Stieber and Vanderbilt baseball player Dansby Swanson.

There were five college football individuals/teams up for four other awards, but they didn’t fare as well as Ole Miss and Mariota.

Ohio State’s Cardale Jones was up for Best Breakthrough Athlete; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer for Best Coach/Manager; the entire Ohio State squad for Best Team; and Central Michigan’s Hail Mary in the Bahamas Bowl and Ameer Abdullah‘s touchdown run vs. McNeese State in the tournament-style Best Play.  The awards instead went to Little League sensation Mo’ne Davis, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the U.S. Women’s World Cup title team and former LSU and New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr.‘s ridiculous one-handed catch, respectively.

The night may or may not have been a total loss for Jones, though, depending on the response he received to the Twitter request sent out to a fellow ESPY nominee.

Big Ten latest P5 to announce media days attendees

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The SEC has done it this week.  So has the ACC.  Now, it’s the Big Ten’s turn to do it.

The “it,” of course, is a Power Five conference releasing its list of player who will represent their respective schools at the annual preseason media event.  And that’s just what the Big Ten did, with the Midwestern conference revealing the 42 players who’ll represent the league’s 14 member institutions at the B1G Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago July 30-31.

From the conference’s press release:

The list of students scheduled to attend features 27 returning all-conference selections, including first-team honorees in Maryland’s Brad Craddock and William Likely, Michigan State’s Jack Allen and Shilique Calhoun, Minnesota’s Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Penn State’s Anthony Zettel and Rutgers’ Leonte Carroo.

Just five of the 14 teams in attendance will send quarterbacks, with none of those being QB-rich Ohio State: Indiana (Nate Sudfeld), Michigan State (Connor Cook), Minnesota (Mitch Leidner), Nebraska (Tommy Armstrong Jr.) and Wisconsin (Joel Stave).

This is, though, a conference that greatly respects veteran leadership as 36 of the 42 players are classified as seniors. The other six players are juniors.

Below is the complete list of Big Ten players attending football media days.


Adarius Rayner, Sr., DL
Jason Spriggs, Sr., OL*
Nate Sudfeld, Sr., QB

Brad Craddock, Sr., PK*
William Likely, Jr., DB*
Andrew Zeller, Sr., OL

Joe Bolden, Sr., LB
Jehu Chesson, Sr., WR
James Ross III, Sr., LB

Jack Allen, Sr., C*
Shilique Calhoun, Sr., DE*
Connor Cook, Sr., QB*

Taylor Decker, Sr., OT*
Joshua Perry, Sr., LB*
Adolphus Washington, Sr., DT*

Jordan Lucas, Sr., S*
Angelo Mangiro, Sr., C/G*
Anthony Zettel, Sr., DT*

Leonte Carroo, Sr., WR*
Darius Hamilton, Sr., DT*
Keith Lumpkin, Sr., OL


Josh Ferguson, Sr., RB
Ted Karras, Sr., OG*
Mason Monheim, Sr., LB*

Austin Blythe, Sr., C*
Jordan Lomax, Sr., DB*
Drew Ott, Sr., DE*

Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Sr., DB*
Theiren Cockran, Sr., DE*
Mitch Leidner, Jr., QB

Tommy Armstrong Jr., Jr., QB
Nate Gerry, Jr., S*
Jordan Westerkamp, Jr., WR

Traveon Henry, Sr., S
Christian Jones, Sr., WR
Dan Vitale, Sr., SB*

Danny Anthrop, Sr., WR
Robert Kugler, Sr., C*
Frankie Williams, Sr., CB*

Michael Caputo, Sr., S*
Corey Clement, Jr., RB
Joel Stave, Sr., QB*

* indicates previous all-conference selection