Traditional recruiting powers in the ACC Clemson and Florida State are once again battling for the top recruiting class in the conference. Both the Tigers and Seminoles are also competing well against the rest of the country with top five classes already heading into National Signing Day on Wednesday. With a solid finish, either could move up into the second place spot behind Alabama, but regardless of what happens in the next few days it appears there is some breathing room between Clemson and Florida State and the rest of the conference.
The ACC has three more members currently ranked in the top 25 recruiting rankings, with Virginia Tech at No. 19, Miami and No. 22 and North Carolina chiming in at No. 25. But North Carolina State and Pittsburgh have generated some late buzz as well. For Pitt, the seeds for a solid 2016 are more the focus right now, but N.C. State is pulling some good, quality talent from the in-state pool.
Current Rivals Team Rankings (as of February 1, 2015)
2. Florida State
3. Virginia Tech
5. North Carolina
7. N.C. State
8. Georgia Tech
9. Boston College
11. Wake Forest
The Top Recruit
DB Derwin James (Haines City, FL): Florida State
Rivals ranks James the fifth best player overall in this year’s class, and he is currently the highest ranked player committed to an ACC school. Florida State has him locked in, but the Seminoles could have another player or two that could top James by signing day.
Recruiting Battle To Watch
Florida State has made a push for California cornerback Iman Marshall, the third-ranked player in the country per Rivals. Florida State is considered in the mix along with LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and traditional west coast recruiting powers USC, UCLA and Oregon. Florida State may come up short here.
No five-stars for Miami
For the second time in three years, Miami is in danger of not signing a single five-star player. The Hurricanes used to be a destination for five-star players, but this could be another season without a single one. Miami is still finishing ahead of a number of ACC rivals and still is adding some quality depth on the roster, but if Miami is going to ever make a run in the ACC then it is going to need to maximize the potential of its incoming talent and step back up to the top when it comes to elite talent.
Playing with a third-strong quarterback, USC is looking to make a statement at home against No. 10 Utah. The Pac-12 contest has been heated from the start with some chippiness and personal foul penalties, and a couple of notable injuries. At the halftime break in the Los Angeles Coliseum, USC leads Utah 14-10.
Utah blew a chance to trim the lead a little bit more or take the lead just before halftime, but a botched handoff by Tyler Huntley led to a fumble recovery by USC in the final 20 seconds of the half from inside the USC five-yard line.
On the second play of the game, USC quarterback Kedon Slovis was removed from the game and examined for a possible head injury. Matt Fink entered the game and led USC to two touchdown drives in the first quarter. Already with over 200 passing yards, Fink and the USC offense ran into a bit of a wall for the rest of the half. USC went three-and-out on their first possession after taking a 14-7 lead. A fumble by Stephen Carr after a 16-yard gain gave Utah possession at their 20-yard line. USC then went three-and-out on their next possession, after the Utes chipped away at the deficit with a field goal.
Later in the half, Utah wide receiver Zack Moss left the game and was being checked for a possible shoulder injury.
Penalties also became a major factor in the second quarter with a handful of questionable roughing the passer and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Utah has already committed nine penalties for 75 yards, while USC has done their part to have laundry thrown on the field with six penalties for 70 yards. The officials have certainly earned their paycheck tonight so far.
A matchup of undefeated Mountain West Conference teams has been everything it was supposed to be. Air Force is giving Boise State a good battle on the strength of their running game. The two teams are tied 10-10 at the break.
After a scoreless first quarter, Air Force and Boise State exchanged touchdown drives in the second quarter. The Falcons opened the scoring with Donald Hammond III running eight yards for a score. Boise State answered with Hank Bachmeier tossing a 36-yard pass to CT Thomas for a score.
After forcing Air Force to punt on the ensuing possession, the Broncos took their first lead of the game minutes later. Eric Sachse booted a 40-yard field goal to give the home team a 10-7 lead.
As expected, Air Force has thrived by chewing up yards on the ground, but a pass completion from Hammond III to Ben Peterson late in the second quarter moved the football to the Boise State 13-yard line and a first down. That late drive ended with a field goal by Jake Koehnke to send the teams to the locker rooms all squared up.
We should have a good finish coming up on the blue turf in the second half.
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis started Friday night’s game against Utah, but he may have been knocked out of the game after just two plays. Matt Fink has replaced Slovis, at least for now, after Slovis headed to the USC locker room early in the first quarter. According to a sideline report on the telecast, Slovis was being treated for a possible head injury.
Utah defensive tackle Leki Fatu came charging at Slovis on a 2nd-and-1 play on the second snap of the game. After Fink got the ball away, Fatu finished off a clean play in the college game (FS1 analyst Brock Huard correctly noted the follow-through to take the quarterback to the ground would be flagged in the NFL). Slovis struggled to get back on his feet as he attempted to get off the ground.
Fink, USC’s third-string quarterback behind Slovis and J.T. Daniels (who was injured and out for the year after the season opener), got right to work to finish off the opening drive. Fink missed on his first throw but then connected on his next three attempts, including a 29-yard pass to Tyler Vaughns for the early lead. Utah cruised down the field on the ensuing possession to tie it up.
This post will be updated with more information on Slovis once it becomes available.
Feel free to update your planner accordingly, because the ACC and Big 12 championship games now have confirmed start times.
The Big 12 Championship Game will kick off Championship Saturday on Dec. 7 with a noon eastern kickoff. The game will be televised on ABC and will share a time slot with the MAC Championship Game (on ESPN or ESPN2).
The ACC Championship Game will once again be played in primetime with a 7:30 p.m. eastern start time scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7 on ABC. It will once again go opposite the Big Ten Championship Game on FOX, although the ACC will get a half-hour jump on the Big Ten title game.
With the ACC and Big 12 now on the schedule, here is the updated look at the conference championship game schedule:
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6
- Pac-12: 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC (Santa Clara, CA)
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7
- Big 12: 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC (Arlington, TX)
- MAC: 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN 2 (Detroit, MI)
- Sun Belt: 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2 (TBD*)
- Conference USA: 1:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network (TBD*)
- American: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (TBD*)
- Mountain West: 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN (TBD*)
- SEC: 4:00 p.m. ET, CBS (Atlanta, GA)
- ACC: 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC (Charlotte, NC)
- Big Ten: 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Indianapolis, IN)
* = The highest-seeded team in the conference hosts the conference championship game