Clemson, Auburn benefit from Top-Five losses in coaches’ poll

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Baylor and Oregon’s on-field losses turned into Clemson and Auburn’s poll gain.

Clemson and Auburn each moved up two spots and into the Top Five of the USA Today coaches’ poll, the former to No. 4 and the latter to No. 5.  The ACC Tigers are back in the Top Five for the first time since their Week 8 loss to Florida State, while the SEC Tigers are back in that group for the first time since winning the BCS title following the 2010 season.

Those two teams were on a bye (Auburn) and beat an FCS team (Citadel) and moved up a pair of spots apiece.  Oklahoma State beat the No. 3 team in the country by 32 points and moved up the same two spots, from No. 9 to No. 7.  For a reason why such a win didn’t carry more weight than a weekend off and a glorified scrimmage, you’d have to ask the football support staff sports information department coaches.

The slotting of the Cowboys is particularly curious when you consider the team they blew out, Baylor, dropped just five and into the No. 8 spot right behind OSU.  Oregon, though, took a serious hit for the egg they laid against Arizona, exiting Week 13 at No. 12 after entering it No. 5.

The first three teams remain unchanged from a week ago: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State.  The first-place votes remained the same from last week as well, with the Tide claiming 56 and the Seminoles the other six.  The Buckeyes actually gained ground on the ‘Noles, closing the gap between second and third from 83 points after Week 12 to 60 after Week 13.  Barring an FSU loss, however, it’s inconceivable OSU would leapfrog them into the No. 2 hole prior to the release of the final BCS standings early next month.

The remainder of the Top 10 consists of No. 6 Missouri, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 Stanford, all up two positions from their standing a week ago.

Fresno State received a boost to its BCS-busting hopes, climbing deeper into the Top 16 to No. 13 (from No. 16) and on the verge of a Top-12 spot that, if it’s mirrored by the final BCS rankings, would guarantee the Bulldogs a BCS bowl.  Fellow BCS buster hopeful Northern Illinois inched up a spot to No. 20.  Along with the top three teams in the coaches’ poll, those two teams are the only remaining unbeatens at the FBS level.

UCF is No. 19, the lowest-ranked of the projected winners of the six automatic-qualifying conferences.  If UCF remains outside the Top 16, the highest-ranked non-AQ school inside that number would receive a BCS berth without having to worry about a Top-12 placement.

LSU and Arizona State are the biggest upward movers of the week, with each climbing four positions.  The Tigers are now at No. 15 and the Sun Devils at No. 18.

LSU is also the highest-ranked three-loss team, while South Carolina is the highest-ranked two-loss squad.

An SEC team, though, also took the biggest hit of the week.  Texas A&M, No. 10 a week ago, took a precipitous drop to No. 21.  UCLA was another big rankings loser, going from No. 14 to No. 22.

Cincinnati is the only new addition to the coaches’ Top 25, coming in at No. 25.  Minnesota, which debuted last week at No. 23, dropped out.

Coaches' Poll Week 13

Alabama enters Early Signing Day with nation’s top-ranked class, could add at least two five-star undecideds

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It appears very likely the 2018 cycle will indeed be but a hiccup for the recruiting machine that is the Alabama Crimson Tide.

From 2011-17, Nick Saban pulled in the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class to Tuscaloosa.  Last year, however, Georgia and former UA defensive coordinator Kirby Smart knocked Saban off his recruiting perch and claimed the top class in 2018.

As we head into the second Early National Signing Day, Alabama once again sits atop 247Sports.com‘s team rankings with 304.52 points (24 commits, including two five-stars and 21 four-stars).  The Tide is also poised to add to their recruiting riches as they are in play for five uncommitted five-star prospects:

  • Florida running back Trey Sanders — No. 5 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • Louisiana defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher — No. 9 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • West Virginia offensive tackle Darnell Wright — No. 10 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • Mississippi linebacker Nakobe Dean — No. 14 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board
  • Florida offensive tackle Evan Neal — No. 20 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board

Of the five, though, Alabama is only currently projected to corral two of them (Sanders, Neal).  LSU is in line to land Sopsher (per 247 crystal ball projections), who is expected to wait until the February signing period to put pen to paper, while Tennessee is an overwhelming favorite for Wright.  Dean is viewed to be a near tossup between UA and Georgia, with a slight lean toward UGA but also with other SEC schools (Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss) in the mix.

After Alabama, the rest of the current Top 10 consists of, in order from Nos. 2-10, Georgia (287.38), Texas A&M (282.55), LSU (274.12), Oregon (272.07), Clemson (269.57), Texas (268.18), Oklahoma (263.03), Michigan (262.36) and Ohio State (255.99).

Those last two rivals, incidentally, could make a big early splash as both are in the mix for the top uncommitted 2019 prospect, Ohio defensive end Zach Harrison (No. 4 on 247′s composite board).  While Penn State is also a finalist, the home-state Buckeyes are the projected front-runners for Harrison, who will tweet his school of choice around 12:30 ET this afternoon.

And that’s it.  A tweet.  No dog-and-pony show, no elaborate signing ceremony.  Just a tweet to announce where he will spend at least the next three years.  Refreshing.

Oklahoma losing WR A.D. Miller to transfer

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As Oklahoma is set to add players as part of the Early Signing Period later on today, it appears the Sooners will also see one leave its roster as well.

According to a tweet from Brett McMurphy of WatchStadium.com, A.D. Miller has decided to transfer from Lincoln Riley‘s OU football program.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed that “Miller is looking to transfer and has entered his name into the NCAA transfer pool.”

No specific reason for the departure was given.

A three-star 2015 signee, Miller started 10 games during his time with the Sooners.  The wide receiver made four of those starts during his redshirt junior season this past year.

The Dallas native will finish his time in Norman with 236 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns on 21 catches during his 27 appearances with the Sooners.

UAB caps best season in school history with first bowl win

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Sometimes the first play from scrimmage is a mirage for what’s to come, like Ted Ginn, Jr.’s opening kickoff touchdown in the 2007 BCS National Championship. Other times, it tells the entire story.

When Tyler Johnston hit Xavier Ubosi for a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of Tuesday night’s Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, it told you pretty much all you needed to know. Johnston would hook up with Ubosi for two more long touchdown passes throughout the night, and UAB blasted Northern Illinois, 37-13.

The win bolstered what was already the best season in school history for Bill Clark‘s Blazers. Just two years back from the dead, UAB had already secured its first conference championship and its first 10-win season; now, the program has its first bowl win to boot.

The Boca Raton Bowl was one of just three bowl games pitting conference champions against each other, the others being the Orange (SEC vs. Big 12) and Rose (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) bowls.

UAB (11-3) came into the game averaging less than 200 passing yards per game, but the redshirt freshman Johnston went off for easily the best game of his young career, hitting 17-of-28 passes for 373 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. The bulk of the damage went to Ubosi, who snared seven passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Ubosi entered the game with 28 grabs for 610 yards and five touchdowns, including four catches for 24 yards in his two most recent games.

After the 70-yard score put UAB up 7-0 (and, it turns out, for good), the Johnston-to-Ubosi connection put the game away for good with 5:11 to go in the second quarter with a 46-yard strike that gave the Blazers a 24-10 lead.

A 66-yard bomb at the 5:15 mark of the third quarter concluded Ubosi’s night and gave UAB a 34-13 lead. Johnston’s other touchdown pass was a 3-yard shovel to running back Spencer Brown at the 12:08 mark of the second quarter, turning a 10-7 UAB lead back into a comfortable 10-point spread.

As the score indicates, Northern Illinois (8-6) struggled to get anything going offensively. Marcus Childers completed 22 of his 29 passes but gained just 179 yards on those completions. NIU entered the night with the nation’s 118th most efficient passing attack, so a 6.2 yards per attempt average wouldn’t necessarily spell doom as long as the Huskies managed to run the ball, but that was a struggle as well. Against UAB’s top-20 rushing defense, NIU mustered just 108 yards on 44 carries. Tre Harbison tied Childers for the team lead with 35 yards (he had a team-high six yards at halftime) and scored the Huskies’ lone touchdown, a 1-yarder to pull them within 10-7 in the final minute of the first quarter.

Given a chance to add a cosmetic score midway through the fourth quarter, Jordan Nettles fumbled a 4th-and-goal run out the side of the end zone.

Ex-TCU QB Shawn Robinson headed to Missouri

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Oklahoma is presently the king of the quarterback transfer market. It’s literally impossible to improve upon turning two transfers into two Heisman Trophy winners. But if the Sooners are the gold medal winners of that particular competition, Missouri definitely wins silver.

After beating out a host of competitors to land Clemson graduate transfer Kelly Bryant, the Tigers have now landed Bryant’s successor in TCU transfer Shawn Robinson.

Mizzou announced Robinson’s arrival on Tuesday night, a Christmas Eve present to Tigers fans before Recruiting Santa drops his presents on Wednesday morning.

As an undergraduate transfer, Robinson will sit out the 2019 season, which works perfectly for Missouri as Bryant will be a one-and-done in Columbia. Robinson will then take over for Bryant in 2020 as a redshirt junior.

While Robinson flashed rare ability during his half-ish season as TCU’s starter this fall, he also showed why he would benefit from the opportunity to sit and learn. Robinson completed 60.8 percent of his passes, but for just 6.5 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns against eight picks.

He tossed two interceptions in the Frogs’ September loss to Ohio State and then coughed up three turnovers in a loss at Texas a week later, essentially eliminating TCU from national title contention. After throwing two more picks in a loss to Texas Tech and then completing just three of eight passes against Oklahoma a week after that, Robinson was shut down for the year to have season-ending shoulder surgery.

Missouri will be Robinson’s fifth different school since entering high school. He played at two different Dallas-Fort Worth area schools before leading DeSoto to a state championship as a senior in 2016, and will now play for his second college starting in 2020.