On Saturday the long wait was finally over for this college football writer. A copy of Phil Steele’s College Football Preview had made its way to the mailbox, ending weeks of anticipation. While many will take a good book to the beach for a day of sun in the sand, a copy of Phil Steele’s preview magazine is likely to accompany the hardcore college fans. As you might expect this season, Florida State and quarterback Jameis Winston are getting some good exposure and hype from all angles.
The game has changed over the years with the coveted covers of preview magazines. Instead of featuring one top player or school on the cover for all, regional covers give something for all fans to look forward to. Landing on the cover still carries some meaning for some, but the national bragging rights and the reward for appearing on a cover are slightly diminished. Even Sports Illustrated has realized this over the years with their various regional covers for preview editions for all sports. Winston appears on two separate regional covers of the national previews published by Athlon Sports. The national edition published by Lindy’s has Winston on just one regional cover. Sporting News also only has one regional cover featuring Winston. Steele’s preview cover also features Winston, along with Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller.
It really should come as no surprise the defending national champions, led by a sophomore quarterback who just so happens to be the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, get such exposure on the covers of these preview magazines. The question is, will Florida State be able to make a run at a repeat in the first year under the College Football Playoff model?
Athlon Sports, Lindy’s, Sporting News and Phil Steele each have made Florida State, Alabama and Oklahoma consensus CFB Playoff favorites. Athlon Sports and Steele have predicted Ohio State to be the fourth team in the playoff mix, while Sporting News and Lindy’s believe Oregon will emerge for the other playoff spot. Whatever the case, the playoff picture seems to have a pretty established set of favorites for this upcoming season’s playoff push, and none predict multiple SEC teams to appear in the playoffs.
Which four teams do you think will be playing for it all at the end of the 2014 season?
The playoff field is set for the FCS Playoffs. Defending national champion and No. 1 North Dakota State took the top seed overall but will face a challenging bracket if the Bison are to claim another national title this year.
As the top seed, North Dakota State will own home-field advantage in the Fargo Dome for as long as they are in the playoffs, with the exception of a possible national title game appearance, which will be played in Frisco, Texas on January 5. North Dakota State’s portion of the bracket includes No. 4 seed Kennesaw State (who was the No. 2 team in the FCS top 25) and last year’s national title runners-up from James Madison. The Dukes were not seeded in this year’s tournament with a record of 8-3, but they are always to be considered a dangerous opponent this time of year.
A handful of teams ended playoff droughts with this year’s bracket. East Tennessee State is making its first playoff appearance since 1996, ending the longest drought among this year’s playoff teams. Delaware and Southeast Missouri State are each back in the playoff for the first time since 2010. The field also includes three first-time playoff teams; Incarnate Word, Lamar, and UC Davis.
The FCS Playoffs begin next weekend.
Michigan running back and special teams player Berkley Edwards was carted off the field on a stretcher in the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium on Saturday in a scary scene that paused the game for roughly 10 minutes. The morning after the Wolverines beat Indiana, however, there is good news to report on Edwards. Edwards shared an update on his Twitter account to tell his followers and Michigan fans he has been released from the hospital and he is OK.
“Just got out the hospital,” Edwards said. “[E]verything is good!”
Edwards followed that up to say he did not see the Indiana player who hit him (Cam Jones, who was ejected for the hit) and his head is still hurting a bit.
It is unknown at this time what the status of Edwards will be for Michigan’s regular-season finale at Ohio State this week. The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game will play in the Big Ten Championship Game as the East Division champion.
Send another coach through the coaching carousel. Multiple reports on Sunday say Texas State will move on from Everett Withers after this season. Football Scoop and The Athletic each reported news of the coaching change for the program.
According to Football Scoop, as reported by College Football Talk contributor Zach Barnett, Withers will not coach for Texas State this week in the regular season finale against Arkansas State.
Withers was hired by Texas State prior to the 2016 season to replace Dennis Franchione. Texas State had back-to-back 2-10 seasons in his first two years on the job and the Bobcats are just 3-8 this season with one game remaining. This will be the fourth straight season Texas State has had no more than four wins (and it could be a fourth straight year with no more than three wins).
The former James Madison head coach will likely manage to find a job somewhere on a coaching staff, even if not as a head coach. Texas State is now looking for its third head coach since jumping up from the FCS to the FBS in 2012.
After arguably the biggest weekend in UCF football history, the Knights are now enjoying their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 of the season and second-highest ranking in program history. UCF moved up to No. 8 in this week’s AP Top 25 poll as they finally managed to jump ahead fo a couple of power conference programs that have been standing in the way the past few weeks.
Alabama claimed all 61 first-place votes from the AP voters this week. The top-ranked Crimson Tide are followed by Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, and Oklahoma as there were no changes in the top six. No. 7 Washington State, UCF, and LSU all took advantage of No. 12 West Virginia falling five spots after a loss at Oklahoma State.
UCF moved into a tie with LSU for the No. 8 spot in the ranking this week, but the Knights have officially moved ahead of Ohio State. The Buckeyes slipped to No. 10, dropping one spot.
Army is also making some headlines in the AP Top 25 by appearing in the ranking for the first time since 1996. Army cracked the Ap Top 25 at No. 23 to be in the AP Top 25 for just the third time since 1985.
Here is this week’s AP Top 25:
1. Alabama (61)
3. Notre Dame
7. Washington State
8. (tie) UCF
8. (tie) LSU
10. Ohio State
12. West Virginia
14. Utah State
15. Penn State
21. Boise State
22. Mississippi State
25. Iowa State