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Oklahoma remains in front of Ohio State in latest AP poll

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After weeks of, frankly speaking, boring poll watching, Ohio State’s blowout of Michigan on Saturday has finally added some intrigue to the College Football Playoff hunt. With Alabama and Georgia squaring off Saturday (and with Alabama widely expected to win), a debate has now opened as to who deserves the No. 4 spot, probable Big 12 champion Oklahoma or probable Big Ten champion Ohio State.

While we’re still two days away from finding out how the CFP selection committee views the recent developments and a week away from Selection Sunday, we got our first data point in the Playoff Debate of 2018 when the AP poll came out. The Buckeyes rocketed forward four spots in the poll, but remained behind Oklahoma. With No. 4 Georgia expected to lose on Saturday, it seems the AP’s version of the Playoff would lift the Sooners, who expects to avenge its only loss to No. 9 Texas on Saturday, into the field over Ohio State, who plays No. 21 Northwestern on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, Washington State and LSU fell from the top 10 into a tie for 12th, replaced by Texas and Washington, who was this week’s biggest climber from No. 16 to No. 10.

Texas A&M, Army and Fresno State joined the poll, meaning the Mountain West championship will be a matchup of ranked teams, pitting No. 25 Fresno State against No. 19 Boise State.

But, of course, the AP doesn’t get to decide this stuff anymore.

The full poll:

1. Alabama — 1,525 total points (61 first-place votes)
2. Clemson — 1,458
3. Notre Dame — 1,409
4. Georgia — 1,336
5. Oklahoma — 1,266
6. Ohio State — 1,229
7. UCF — 1,146
8. Michigan — 1,058
9. Texas — 959
10. Washington — 897
11. Florida — 876
12. Washington State — 818
12. LSU — 818
14. Penn State — 751
15. West Virginia — 672
16. Kentucky — 602
17. Utah — 536
18. Syracuse — 475
19. Boise State — 409
20. Mississippi State — 324
21. Northwestern — 322
22. Texas A&M — 283
23. Army — 169
24. Iowa State — 116
25. Fresno State — 102

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

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When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah State OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

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For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet Football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

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One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.

Justin Fields’ family says QB ‘hasn’t made a decision’ to transfer from Georgia

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Maybe the future quarterback situation in Athens isn’t as straightforward and black and white as it seemed earlier in the evening.

Monday night, it was reported that Justin Fields has notified Georgia of his intent to transfer.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Fields is exploring the possibility of transferring, though he hasn’t yet told the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that he’s leaving.”

Additionally, at least one member of Fields’ family told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a decision hasn’t been made one way or the other.

Asked if she could confirm reports that her son intends to transfer from Georgia, Fields’ stepmother said she could not. But she also didn’t deny them.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.

Fields’ mother also told the Journal-Constitution to talk to the quarterback’s father, Ivant Fields, as “[h]e handles everything involving football.”

If the transfer were to come to fruition, ESPN reported that Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma would be potential landing spots.  That website also reports that Fields is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs.

Fields was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 player regardless of position in the Class of 2018.  He spent his true freshman season as the primary backup to sophomore starter Jake Fromm.