Florida pushed around by Louisville in Sugar Bowl

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With a 14.5 point spread, the Sugar Bowl between Florida and Louisville wasn’t projected to be all that competitive. That turned out to pretty much be the case, but it was the Cardinals, not the Gators, dominating in shocking fashion.

From the first play from scrimmage — literally, a pick-six by Louisvlle’s Terell Floyd — the Cardinals had Florida out of its comfort zone and trying to play catch-up. That’s not exactly what the Gators are designed to do and No. 22 Louisville handed a 33-23 loss to No. 4 Florida for the biggest win in program history and one of the biggest upsets in a BCS game.

The loss drops the SEC to 3-3 this bowl season with Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi still left to play. None of the three should be considered massive favorites to win their bowls, either.

The Gators have been known for its top-10 defense all season. It’s what’s saved them a time or four in close games. But Florida was mostly unable to stop Teddy Bridgewater, who threw for 266 yards and a pair of scores. That’s the most yardage a Florida defense has given up since Nov. 5 of last year.

Leading up to the Sugar Bowl, Florida safety Matt Elam (pictured) said Bridgewater was the best quarterback his team would face this season. Better than Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Better than Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M.  That’s high praise, but Bridgewater didn’t do anything to suggest Elam wasn’t right.

It helps that he usually had all day to throw. Louisville’s offensive line didn’t always run block well — the Cardinals continued to struggle in the run game with just 70 yards — but did they ever pass protect, and in crucial spots too. Louisville was 9-of-14 on third down conversions against the mighty Gator defense and punted just once all night. When Louisville didn’t score, it was because the Cardinals stopped themselves with a missed field goal or interception.

While Louisville and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson deserve all the credit for a solid offensive showing, Florida’s defense deserves at least a little of the blame for being off. Florida was college football’s only defense from a BCS conference that hadn’t allowed a touchdown pass of 15 yards or longer all season, yet Bridgewater’s scores were from 15 and 19 yards.

But Will Muschamp failed to put the defense in better situations. The offense, which has been a liability all year, had three turnovers and couldn’t do much outside of picking apart a prevent defense. A failed onside kick with two personal foul penalties tacked on gave Louisville the ball at the Gators 19-yard line to start the second half. Bridgewater tossed a touchdown pass to Damian Copeland on the next play.

Speaking of penalties, Florida had a lot of ’em — nine for 98 yards to be exact. It was an all around bad night for a team that had the most impressive body of work this season. To end it a sour note against a team that will be getting a lot of preseason hype in 2013 will have Muschamp looking for answers this spring, especially on offense.

Georgia Tech’s No. 2 QB tweets he underwent surgery, very likely ending his season

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Georgia Tech at Duke
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It appears Georgia Tech will have to turn to option No. 3 for its No. 2 quarterback.

Earlier this week, Paul Johnson indicated that Lucas Johnson would meet with the team’s medical staff to determine whether or not he would have to undergo season-ending surgery for an unspecified injury to his lower right leg. While there’s been no official word yet from the team, Johnson posted on Twitter Thursday afternoon that “[s]urgery went well!!”

The assumption now is that the redshirt sophomore quarterback will be sidelined for the entire 2018 season.

Johnson suffered the injury during a scrimmage this past Saturday.

“It’s frustrating,” head coach Paul Johnson said Wednesday. “That’s the second time in three years that we’ve lost a quarterback to a non-contact injury.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Johnson served as the primary backup to starter TaQuon Marshall in 2017, although he didn’t attempt a pass and ran the ball just once for one yard. Throughout spring practice and then on into summer camp, Johnson had been running with the Yellow Jackets’ second-team offense.

With Johnson’s injury, Tobias Oliver will now serve as Marshall’s backup. Oliver, a three-star 2017 signee, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Broken leg to sideline Mizzou WR Richaud Floyd for 4-6 weeks

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The injury bug has claimed yet another victim shortly before the start of the 2018 season.

According to Rivals.com, Richaud Floyd broke a bone in his right leg during Missouri’s practice Wednesday. As a result, the wide receiver is expected to be sidelined for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the short end of that timeline, Floyd would miss the opener against FCS Tennessee-Martin Sept. 1 as well as the Wyoming game in Week 2. At the long end, he’d be sidelined for the first road game of the year (at Purdue Sept. 15) as well as the SEC opener against Georgia in Columbia Sept. 22. At least at the moment, it appears that, at the latest, Floyd would be able to return for the Oct. 6 game against South Carolina.

Last season as a redshirt sophomore, Floyd caught 14 passes for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns — on just 11 attempts — which tied him for second at the FBS level with seven other players. The punt return scores went for 74 and 85 yards, playing a huge role in his 19.8 yards per return that would’ve been second nationally if he had enough returns to qualify.

UCLA’s Octavius Spencer granted release to transfer from Bruins with no restrictions

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For roughly the dozenth time since Chip Kelly took over in Westwood, a player has left his UCLA football program.

Wednesday evening, 247Sports.com reported that Octavius Spencer “has been let go by the program due to a violation of team rules.” Wednesday night, Spencer wrote on his personal Twitter account that “it’s time to move on to another chapter and I will now be looking for a new place to call home.”

In the same tweet, the defensive back posted a letter, signed by athletic director Dan Guerrero, that indicates the university “hereby provides permission for you to discuss a possible transfer in the sport of football with any university.”

Spencer was a three-star member of the Bruins’ 2015 recruiting class. The fourth-year senior played in 35 games the past three years, including 13 last season. All three of his career starts came during what turned out to be his final go-around at UCLA.

The Los Angeles Daily News provided a rundown of all of the players, in addition to Spencer, who have left the team since Kelly took the reins:

… defensive linemen Greg Rogers and Ainuu Taua, defensive back Denzel Fisher, offensive linemen Alex Akingbulu, Paco Perez, Stephan Zabie and Sean Seawards, punter Austin Kent, and linebackers Brandon Burton and DeChaun Holiday. Additional players, including tight end Jimmy Jaggers and offensive lineman Jax Wacaser, announced medical retirements due to concussions.

Manning Award features 30 QBs on its preseason watch list

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Don’t quote me on it, but I do believe we have come to the final preseason watch list of the 2018 offseason. Maybe?

Thursday, the Manning Award released its initial list of the top 30 quarterbacks in the country to watch for the upcoming season, although a player not on this initial list is not necessarily precluded from winning the award. This is the only major award, it should be noted, that is handed out after the bowls, and is named in honor of the quarterbacking triumvirate of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Highlighting this latest watch list are four of the finalists for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield — Penn State’s Trace McSorely, UCF’s McKenzie Milton, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Arizona’s Khalil Tate.

All 10 FBS conferences are represented, led by the SEC’s five and four each from the ACC and Big Ten. The Pac-12 is next with three, while the remaining leagues — the AAC, Big 12, Conference USA, MAC Mountain West and Sun Belt — come in with two apiece. A pair of football independents, Notre Dame and UMass, are also represented.

Of the 30 watch listers, 17 are seniors and 12 are juniors. The lone sophomore is Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson.

Below is the complete 2018 Manning Award preseason watch list:

Jake Bentley, Jr., South Carolina
Jake Browning, Sr., Washington
A.J. Erdely, Sr., UAB
Caleb Evans, Jr. UL-Monroe
Mason Fine, Jr., North Texas
Ryan Finley, Sr., N.C. State
Nick Fitzgerald, Sr., Mississippi State
Andrew Ford, Sr., Massachusetts
Ty Gangi, Sr., Nevada
Will Grier, Sr., West Virginia
Justice Hansen, Sr., Arkansas State
Ben Hicks, Jr., SMU
Alex Hornibrook, Jr., Wisconsin
Josh Jackson, Soph., Virginia Tech
Daniel Jones, Jr., Duke
Kyle Kempt, Sr., Iowa State
Brian Lewerke, Jr., Michigan State
Drew Lock, Sr., Missouri
Trace McSorley, Sr., Penn State
McKenzie Milton, Jr., Central Florida
Gus Ragland, Sr., Miami (Ohio)
Malik Rosier, Sr., Miami
Nathan Rourke, Jr., Ohio
Brett Rypien, Sr., Boise State
Kyle Shurmur, Sr., Vanderbilt
Nathan Stanley, Jr., Iowa
Jarrett Stidham, Sr., Auburn
Khalil Tate, Jr., Arizona
Manny Wilkins, Sr., Arizona State
Brandon Wimbush, Jr., Notre Dame