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

Kansas fans will be able to buy alcohol at Memorial Stadium this year

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Les Miles isn’t the only big addition to Kansas football for the 2019 season.

No, the school has something much better that will help pass the time during Jayhawks losses in the form of expanded beer and alcohol sales to general seating areas of Memorial Stadium.

“In consultation with the University, Kansas Athletics has introduced the sale of beer and wine at selected venues on a trial basis to help assess the viability of a broader offering of alcoholic beverages,” athletic director Jeff Long said in a release. “That program has been very successful, and with the support and collaboration of on-campus entities, we are now prepared to expand it. Fans have told us that one of the best ways to enhance their experience at Kansas Athletics events is for them to have the ability to enjoy beer and wine, and we are pleased to provide this opportunity.”

We’re not sure if by “enhance their experience” the fans of KU football mean forget what they’re seeing on the field by we digress.

The school notes that the Jayhawks will be the sixth Big 12 school (along with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas and Texas Tech) to allow such sales in the general seating areas. That should make the conference the first with a majority of its programs selling beer and alcohol to the public during football games this upcoming season.

It also makes Kansas one of some 50 total FBS schools who have opened up the taps officially. Something says the new head coach is no stranger to just such an environment either so good news all around for KU fans during a week where negative headlines were more closely associated with the program.

Rutgers WR Zihir Lacewell transferring to junior college to play DB

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We’re in the final stages of the offseason in college football with training camps across the country starting as early as next week but it’s never too late for a player to transfer elsewhere for 2019.

One such case comes in the form of Rutgers wide receiver Zihir Lacewell, who NJ.com reports is transferring to Garden City Community College in Kansas. While a backup player leaving the Scarlet Knights from time-to-time isn’t all that interesting, the fact that Lacewell is departing to flip sides and play defensive back is.

The Staten Island, NY native did see action last season at Rutgers but played in only four games to preserve his redshirt. He was not expected to crack the starting rotation on offense in 2019.

Rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports, Lacewell was one of the program’s highest-rated recruits in the class of 2018 and held offers from a host of Power Five programs in the Northeast.

Wisconsin launches early Heisman campaign for RB Jonathan Taylor

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The Heisman Trophy has generally been synonymous with the best quarterback on one of the best teams in recent years but there have been a few running backs who have broken through to win the most prestigious award in all of college football.

Hoping to become the next tailback to break the signal-callers’ grip on the stiff arm? That would be Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who appears to have a budding campaign for the trophy that was launched by the school on Thursday:

Herschel Walker. Ron Dayne. Ricky Williams. Adrian Peterson. LaDainian Tomlinson. Dominant running backs. Legendary names. Unrivaled production … until now,” one tagline reads. “There’s a new kid on the block and he’s “Bringing Running Back,” back into the spotlight, just like those that came before him. And his name is Jonathan Taylor.”

The website goes through all of the notable stats that Taylor has piled up in just two seasons in Madison and while it doesn’t explicitly say everything is designed to raise the junior’s awareness ahead of Big Ten Media Days and the upcoming 2019 campaign, it does note that his fellow Wisconsin Doak Walker Award winners have all been finalists in New York at some point in their career.

i.e. hint, hint media this guy is pretty good.

And nobody is debating that after he has set numerous records during his first two years on campus. Key to actually making it to New York though might be how Taylor’s team does around him. If the Badgers can get back to being in contention for the Big Ten title once again in 2019, chances are high that the tailback’s play will play a bigger part in getting him the attention he deserves than a website and a hashtag.

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy headlines 2019 Biletnikoff Award Watch List

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Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.

Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:

Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)

Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)

Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)

Damonte Coxie (Memphis)

Gabriel Davis (UCF)

Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

Aaron Fuller (Washington)

Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)

KJ Hamler (Penn State)

Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)

Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)

Tee Higgins (Clemson)

K.J. Hill (Ohio State)

Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)

Justin Jefferson (LSU)

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)

Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)

Collin Johnson (Texas)

CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)

Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)

McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)

Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)

Riley Miller (Ball State)

Denzel Mims (Baylor)

Darnell Mooney (Tulane)

Rondale Moore (Purdue)

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)

K.J. Osborn (Miami)

Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)

Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)

James Proche (SMU)

Jalen Reagor (TCU)

Jared Rice (Fresno State)

Sean Riley (Syracuse)

Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)

Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)

JD Spielman (Nebraska)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

Marquez Stevenson (Houston)

Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)

JoJo Ward (Hawaii)

Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)