Sneak Peek: 2014 Orange Bowl

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WHO: 10-2 Clemson vs. 12-1 Ohio State

WHAT: The Orange Bowl (80th year)

WHERE: Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida

WHEN: Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET

WHY: While it may be simplistic — and I’m nothing if not simple — the key to the outcome of this game could very well come down to the answer to a singular question: can Ohio State’s beleaguered secondary even remotely slow down Clemson’s high-powered passing game? That’s going to be a helluva lot easier said than done.

The Tigers, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins under the leadership of offensive coordinator Chad Morris, boast an aerial attack that averages nearly 330 yards per game, a total that’s currently 11th in the country.  The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are 103rd in passing yards allowed, giving up an average of 259.5 yards per game.  Over the past four games, OSU has given up a total of 1,267 yards (317 ypg) to the likes of Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld, Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase, Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, none of whom will ever be confused with Tajh Boyd.

Adding to OSU’s secondary woes is Bradley, the Buckeyes’ top cover corner who will likely miss the Orange Bowl due to a knee injury.  Not only that, but Noah Spence will be sidelined due to a three-game suspension.  The defensive lineman leads Ohio State in sacks and would’ve been expected to help apply pressure on Boyd in the hopes of forcing the senior into mistakes.

The good news for the Buckeyes is they have the offensive firepower to at least match the Tigers’ explosiveness.  Quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde have combined 2,441 yards on the ground and 4 rushing touchdowns despite missing multiple games due to injury (the former) and suspension (the latter).  When it comes to defending the run, Clemson shades toward the middle of the pack (50th at 152.6 ypg).

Miller could also test the Tigers’ stingy 16th-ranked pass defense with his arm, having completed more than 63 percent of his passes in 2013 and throwing 22 touchdowns in what amounts to 10 games.

The only previous meeting between the two programs came in the 1978 Gator Bowl when, well, this happened.  Wayne Woodrow Hayes, you will always be The Man despite the misguided emotion that connected with Charlie Bauman‘s throat.

Both teams are coming off tough double-digit losses to end their “regular” seasons, with the Buckeyes falling 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game — snapping OSU’s 24-game winning streak — and the Tigers getting dropped 31-17 by in-state rival South Carolina.

As important as the game is to each program individually, its crucial for the battered images of their respective conferences.  Thus far this postseason, current members of the ACC are 3-6 while the Big Ten is 2-4.

The Orange Bowl is the final 2013-14 postseason game for the Big Ten, while the ACC has Florida State in the BCS title game Monday night remaining.

PREDICTION: Clemson 48, Ohio State 42

Oregon State’s defensive lineman Conner Warick enters transfer portal

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Oregon State, step on up as the subject of the next installment of “The Days of Our Portal Lives.”

According to 247Sports.com, Conner Warick has taken the first step in leaving Oregon State by entering his name into the transfer database. An Oregon State football official subsequently confirmed that the defensive lineman is in the portal.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Coming out of high school, Warick was a three-star signee as part of the Class of 2018 for Oregon State. He was rated as the No. 25 player regardless of position in the state of Washington.

In his two seasons at OSU, Warick didn’t make an appearance for the Beavers. The search for a better shot at playing time triggered the lineman’s decision.

Oregon State is coming off a five-win 2019 campaign in Jonathan Smith‘s second season as head football coach. That marked the program’s most wins since hitting that same number in 2014 in Mike Riley’s last season. Earlier this offseason, it was reported that OSU is working on a contract extension for Smith, who has gone 7-17 in his two seasons.

Ex-Houston safety Earl Foster killed in shooting

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Houston is the latest college football program to be hit with a tragedy involving a current or former player.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle has reported that Earl Foster (pictured, right) was killed in an East Houston shooting Tuesday night. According to the report, Foster was found dead outside of a gas station.

Duarte also wrote that “[a] female companion was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.”

The shooting reportedly happened somewhere other than the gas station. “The vehicle arrived at the gas station and asked for help,” the report stated.

As of this posting, no arrests have been made. The shooting remains under investigation by the Houston Police Department.

Foster, a three-star prospect coming out of Lamar High School in Houston, was a safety for the Houston football team from 2012-15. He appeared in 49 games for the Cougars. All of his action came in a reserve role or on special teams.

The Houston football program expressed sadness over Foster’s death.

Craig Naivar, who was Foster’s position coach in 2015, posted on Twitter his sadness over the development.

“The relationships & bonds built thru competition, the grind & fellowship last forever,” the new USC safeties coach wrote. Very saddened today to hear of the loss of one of our brothers. Please keep Earl & his family close you your hearts, in your thoughts & prayers, Love you buddy.”

Oregon expected to land Boston College grad transfer QB Anthony Brown

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A very experienced player who could replace Justin Herbert has been added to the Oregon football roster.  Reportedly.

In mid-December, Anthony Brown took the first step in leaving Boston College by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database.  Four months later, the quarterback is ready to take the next step as Yahoo Sports! is reporting that Brown is set to be added to the Oregon football roster.

As a graduate transfer, Brown would be eligible to play for the Oregon football team in 2020.  The upcoming season would serve as his final year of eligibility.

In mid-October, Brown suffered a knee injury that was serious enough to sideline him for the remainder of the 2019 season.  He also saw his redshirt freshman season in 2017 cut short because of a knee injury.

In between the twin knee injuries, Brown had started 18 straight games under center for the Eagles — 12 in 2018, six in 2019.  All told, he started 28 games during his time with the ACC school.

Brown, whose decision to transfer came a week or so after head coach Steve Addazio was fired, will apparently finish his time at BC with 4,738 yards, 40 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in completing nearly 55 percent of his 680 pass attempts.  he also ran for 421 yards and another four touchdowns.

Oregon currently has three quarterbacks on its football roster.  Those are redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough, redshirt freshman Cale Millen and true freshman Jay Butterfield.  Shough is the only one in that group who has actually attempted a pass at the collegiate level.  As Herbert’s primary backup in 2019, Shough completed 12-of-15 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

Butterfield was a four-star member of the Oregon football Class of 2020.  The California high schooler was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country in this year’s class.  He’s widely viewed as as the quarterback of the future for the Ducks.

Iowa State announces one-year, temporary reductions in pay, bonuses for coaches

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Iowa State is the first FBS athletic department to address the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  They certainly, though, won’t be the last.

Because of the crisis, there are growing fears that the 2020 college football season could be canceled.  While all options are being considered, a complete cancellation of the season would have a steep impact on the financial bottom line of most FBS schools, especially those in the Group of Five.

Because of previous revenue streams in the tens of millions, a Power Five program would be better equipped to handle such a development.  One Power Five school, though, is getting ahead of the cash-cow spigot that is college football potentially being shut off.  In a letter posted Wednesday night, Iowa State athletic director Scott Pollard unveiled “several initiatives that we are implementing in the athletics department to best prepare for, both the known and the unknown, financial challenges that we will be facing soon.”

For our audience, the most noteworthy initiative involves coaches’ pay.  That one-year reduction will save the athletic department — Pollard made sure to note the department “is funded almost entirely by external sources” — in excess of $3 million.  Additionally, bonuses for coaches have been suspended.  That move will save in the neighborhood of $1 million

From the release:

  1. A one-year, temporary pay reduction for athletics department coaches and certain staff. This comprehensive plan will reduce total payroll by more than $3M.
  2. A one-year, temporary suspension of all bonuses/incentives for all coaches. This decision will save the department $1M.
  3. Delaying (from January 2021 to January 2022) a previously announced increase in Cyclone Club annual giving levels. The delay will save donors approximately $2.5M for required seating donations.
  4. A freeze on season / individual game ticket prices for all sports.
  5. An extension to the deadline for this year’s Cyclone Club donations and football season ticket renewals to May 29, 2020.
  6. Providing multiple payment options for season tickets and donations. Those required payments can be made monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.

In December of last year, and amidst rumors of other job opportunities, Iowa State announced a contract extension for head football coach Matt Campbell.  His $3.6 million in salary was sixth among Big 12 head coaches in 2019.

At this point, it’s unclear how much Campbell’s pay will be reduced.