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Power 5 conferences dominate Sweet 16 field

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Comparing college football and college basketball success can often be like comparing apples to oranges, but now that we have the Sweet 16 field set in Sharpie in men’s college basketball, we can see how the power conferences are stacking up on the hard court and compare that to what we witnessed on the gridiron last fall.

Of the 16 teams left standing in the men’s NCAA Basketball tournament, 14 come from a Power 5 conference. The ACC has two number one seeds still standing in North Carolina and Virginia and also has Miami, Duke, Notre Dame and Syracuse still competing. Not too shabby for the ACC, which also saw its football champion, Clemson, run the table last football season all the way to a spot in the College Football Playoff national championship game. Do not forget the ACC sent Florida State to the New Years Six, which may be as close as we have to an equivalent to the Sweet 16 in college basketball. The Sweet 16 will be a fun one for the ACC with matchups against Big East champion Villanova (Miami), top seed and Pac-12 champion Oregon (Duke), Big Ten blueblood Indiana (North Carolina), a second Big Ten opponent in Wisconsin (Notre Dame), Big 12 member Iowa State (Virginia) and born-again Cinderella Gonzaga (Syracuse). Could we see six teams from the ACC in the Elite Eight? Probably not, but there appear to be some favorable matchups in the bunch and you should never really count out Duke this time of year.

Despite some early exits in recent days, the Big 12 is still sitting in a decent position with three teams entering the second week of the tournament. Kansas (the complete polar opposite of its football program) is playing with its top seed in the south. Oklahoma is holding strong with its second seed in the west. Iowa State has prevailed as the four-seed in the Midwest.

The Big Ten took some big hits this weekend with Big Ten championship game participants Purdue and Michigan State bowing out early and Iowa getting rolled by Villanova on Sunday. The Spartans reached the College Football Playoff and NCAA tournament and never held a lead once in 100 minutes of combined competitive action. Wisconsin, a year after playing for the title, took down a strong Xavier team (Wisconsin would crush Xavier in football, a sport the Ohio-based school no longer plays). Indiana got by Kentucky and now prepares for the Tar Heels. Meanwhile, Maryland will look to take down Kansas in the South.

Texas A&M is the SEC’s last team standing after an improbable comeback in the final minute against Northern Iowa on Sunday. Should the Aggies make a title run for the first time in school history, it would give the SEC a championship double-dip in football and men’s basketball. The SEC was the last conference to pull off such a feat with Alabama winning the BCS national title in the 2012 season and Kentucky winning the men’s basketball tournament a few months later.

West No. 1 seed Oregon is the last team from the Pac-12 to continue playing. The Ducks may face the toughest challenges with Duke and the winner of Texas A&M-Oklahoma coming up this week.

Be sure to stay on top of all of the tournament madness with our friends over on College Basketball Talk.

Lott IMPACT Trophy announces semifinalists

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You know we are getting close to award season in college football because it seems this week has been filled with announcements about semifinalists for every award possible. Welcome to the party, Lott IMPACT Trophy. A total of nine semifinalists were announced by the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player with a focus on success on and off the field, integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.

The nine semifinalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy are:

  • Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
  • Cole Christiansen, LB, Army
  • Jordan Fuller, DB, Ohio State
  • Brandon Jones, DB, Texas
  • Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
  • Chris Orr, LB, Wisconsin
  • Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
  • Curtis Weaver, DL, Boise State
  • Evan Weaver, LB, Cal

Linebacker remains a strong position for the Lott IMPACT Trophy this season, with five of the nine semifinalists playing a linebacker position.

This year’s recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy will be announced on Dec. 15 at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach. This list of nine semifinalists will be trimmed down to four finalists prior to the announcement.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen took home the award last season.

Class of 2019 four-star Baylor commit says he’s heading to Utah

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Former Baylor quarterback Peyton Powell has a new football home in the Pac-12. Powell announced on Thursday he is heading to Utah to join the Utes program.

“It’s time for me to clear the air and I WILL be doing that at THE University of Utah,” Powell said in a statement share don his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon.

Powell came to Baylor with the hopes of being able to compete and play quarterback for the Bears. That opportunity was one of the reasons Baylor ended up winning his commitment out of high school, while many schools hoping to sign the four-star athlete could find ways to use his athleticism at different positions. Powell, a member of the Baylor Class of 2019, has not played this season and will have four years of eligibility remaining. NCAA rules would force Powell to sit out the 2010 season before being ruled eligible to play, but he may be given a chance to play right away considering he did not play during his freshman year at Baylor.

Arizona continues shaking up coaching staff with reported firing of defensive line coach

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As a year of disappointing results comes down the final stretch for the Arizona Wildcats, changes are already in the air for Kevin Sumlin and the program. On Thursday, Arizona continued to go through the process of overhauling its defensive coaching staff with the firing of defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei.

News of the coaching change was first reported by Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority. According to that same report, defensive analyst Greg Patrick will be moved into the position of defensive line coach, at least for the remainder of the current season.

Arizona ranks 73rd nationally in rushing defense, 113th in sacks, and 119th in tackles for a loss. These are all stats most commonly used to evaluate the performance of the defensive line, and the results this late in the season just simply aren’t good any way you look at it.

A month ago, Arizona parted ways with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing. Uiagalelei is the third defensive coach to be removed from the staff during the 2019 season.

Jonathan Taylor, Chuba Hubbard among semifinalists for Doak Walker Award

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Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is attempting to do something that has only been done twice before by winning the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons. Taylor was one of the 10 semifinalists revealed by the Doak Walker Award on Thursday, putting last year’s top running back one step closer to pulling off the rare feat on the college football award circuit.

Taylor will have some stiff competition for the award this season. Among the other semifinalists for the award include Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s rushing leader with 1,726 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (Taylor has 1,463 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in the same number of games as Hubbard).

Darren McFadden of Arkansas is the most recent player to win the Doak  Walker Award in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2006 and 2007. The only other player to win the award in consecutive seasons, and the only other two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award, is Ricky Williams of Texas. Williams won the award in 1997 and 1998. Taylor joined former Wisconsin running backs Melvin Gordon (2014), Montee Ball (2012) and Ron Dayne (1999) to move Wisconsin into first place for most all-time Doak Walker Award winners. Texas also has four awards won, but by three players (Ricky Williams twice, Cedric Benson in 2004 and D’Onta Foreman in 2016).

The other semi-finalists for the Doak Walker Award this year include LeVante Bellamy of Western Michigan (21 touchdowns leads the nation), AJ Dillon of Boston College, JK Dobbins of Ohio State, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU, Travis Etienne of Clemson, Kenneth Gainwell of Memphis, Xavier Jones of SMU, Zack Moss of Utah.