CFT Previews: Holiday Bowl

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WHO: No. 25 USC (8-5) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
WHAT: The 38th Holiday Bowl
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
WHEN: 10:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 30 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: At one point this season it looked as though USC could have imploded. The firing of Steve Sarkisian five weeks into the season could have made for a messy season, but Clay Helton has managed to keep the Trojans going and made sure they played for the Pac-12 championship they were chosen to win back during media days. It was quite a roller coaster to get there that saw back-to-back losses in a coaching transition, a blowout win of Utah, a blowout loss at Oregon and a dominating victory against UCLA to clinch the Pac-12 South. Although USC went 0-2 against Stanford this year, the Trojans proved to be a dangerous team with Cody Kessler throwing 28 touchdowns with just six interceptions thrown and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster racking up 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns. Junior linebacker Su’a Cravens and freshman linebacker Cameron Smith showed the legacy at the position should continue to thrive after the two led the team in tackles this fall.

USC will look for its third straight bowl victory, and second under Helton. To do that the Trojans must take out Wisconsin from the Big Ten. The Badgers have had a rough time in bowl games played in California since the turn of the century. Wisconsin lost three straight Rose Bowls from 2010 through 2013. Now they move to San Diego this postseason looking to buck that trend. In year one under Paul Chryst, the Badgers turned in a sneaky decent season with a 9-3 record on the strength of one of the top defensive showings this season. Wisconsin allowed just 97.9 yards per game on the ground and 169.2 passing yards per game. That helped fuel Wisconsin’s defense, anchored by senior linebacker Joe Schobert, allowing just 13.1 points per game to lead the nation.

Running the football tends to be the recipe for success in Madison, but the status of top running back Corey Clement is a concern. Clement is working through a sports hernia injury and hopes to play a key role in Wisconsin’s game plan against the Trojans. If Clement is not able to carry the football much, the Badgers still have Dare Ogunbowale to help out after rushing for 769 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Wisconsin may have won nine games, with close losses to Iowa and Northwestern, but what happens against one fo the most athletic teams they have faced this season? Alabama steamrolled Wisconsin in Week 1. USC won’t do that, but the Trojans may have a chance to make some plays even against this solid Wisconsin defense.

THE PREDICTION: USC 26, Wisconsin 23

Sporting News All-American Team headlined by Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey

AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and runner-up Christan McCaffrey were named First Team All-Americans by Sporting News on Tuesday. The Crimson Tide and Cardinal running backs nudged out Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and LSU’s Leonard Fournette for the first-team honors, while both Cook and Fournette filled the running back slots on the second team. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, landed on the second team from Sporting News, with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield winning first team honors.

The full Sporting News All-American teams are listed below. The Sporting News All-American team is the fourth All-American team to be revealed that is used to make up the NCAA’s consensus All-American team. The previous three are the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Associated Press and the Football Writers Association of America. Tomorrow, the American Football Coaches Association will release the fifth and final All-American list recognized by the NCAA for its consensus list.

FIRST TEAM

Offense

QB – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB – Derrick Henry, Alabama; Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
WR – Corey Coleman, Baylor; Josh Doctson, TCU
TE – Hunter Henry, Arkansas
OL – Joshua Garnett, Stanford; Spencer Drango Baylor; Ryan Kelly, Alabama; Jack Conklin, Michigan State; Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
K – Roberto Aguayo, Florida State
KR – Evan Berry, Tennessee

Defense

DE – Carl Nassib, Penn State; Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
DT – A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
LB – Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; Reggie Ragland, Alabama; Eric Striker, Oklahoma
CB – Desmond King, Iowa; Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
S – Jeremy Cash, Duke; Vonn Bell, Ohio State
P – Tom Hackett, Utah
PR – Cam Sutton, Tennessee

SECOND TEAM

Offense

QB – Deshaun Watson, Clemson
RB – Dalvin Cook, Florida State; Leonard Fournette, LSU
WR – Will Fuller, Notre Dame; JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
TE – Jake Butt, Michigan
OL – Vadal Alexander, LSU; Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas; Taylor Decker, Ohio State; Jason Spriggs, Indiana; Roderick Johnson, Florida State
K – Ka’lmi Fairbairn, UCLA
KR – Morgan Burns, Kansas State

Defense

DE – Joey Bosa, Ohio State; Shaq Lawson, Clemson
DT- Jonathan Bullard, Florida; Andrew Billings, Baylor
LB – Kentrell Brothers, Missouri;Tyler Matakevich, Temple; Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
CB – Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma; Jalen Tabor, Florida
S – Jabrill Peppers, Michigan; Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
P – Drew Kasar, Texas A&M
PR – Dante Pettis, Washington

Heisman winner Derrick Henry, finalists and more fill Football Writers All-American team

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson,file
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The bulk of the college football award season may be behind us, but the key All-American teams continue to be released in the coming days before the NCAA assembles this year’s list of consensus All-Americans. The Associated Press released its All-American list on Sunday. On Monday it was time for the Football Writers Association of American to release its annual list of All-Americans. Heisman Trophy winning running back from Alabama Derrick Henry was an easy pick for first team honors, as were fellow finalists Deshaun Watson of Clemson and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. McCaffrey did not make the cut at running back, but was given first team honors as a kick returner.

Joining Henrey as first team All-American running backs are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Leonard Fournette of LSU. Fournette and Henry each earned first-team honors from the AP as well, while Cook made the second team cut.

First Team Offense

  • QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
  • RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
  • RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
  • RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
  • WR Corey Coleman, Baylor
  • WR Josh Doctson, TCU
  • OL Spencer Drango, Baylor
  • OL Joshua Garnett, Stanford
  • OL Jason Springs, Indiana
  • OL Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
  • C Ryan Kelly, Alabama

First Team Defense

  • DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
  • DL Shaq Lawson, Clemson
  • DL Carl Nassib, Penn State
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
  • LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
  • LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
  • LB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
  • DB Jeremy Cash, Duke
  • DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
  • DB Desmond King, Iowa
  • DB Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois

First Team Special Teams

  • K Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA
  • P Tom Hackett, Utah
  • KR Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
  • PR William Likely, Maryland

Second Team All-America Team

Offense: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State; RB Royce Freeman, Oregon; WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame; WR Roger Lewis, Bowling Green; WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC; OL Jack Conklin, Michigan State; OL Taylor Decker, Ohio State; OL Tyler Johnstone, Oregon; OL Landon Turner, North Carolina; C Jack Allen, Michigan State. Defense: DL Andrew Billings, Baylor; DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon; DL Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; DL; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma; DB Eddie Jackson, Alabama; DB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan; DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State; DB Darian Thompson, Boise State. Specialists: K Jaden Oberkrom, TCU; P Michael Carrizosa, San José State; KR Evan Berry, Tennessee; PR Cameron Sutton, Tennessee.

Ezekiel Elliott wins Silver Football as Big Ten MVP

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
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While Alabama running back Derrick Henry was busy making room on his mantle for a plethora of awards Thursday night, including two player of the year awards (Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year) and the Doak Walker Award (best running back), Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott will be making room for a Big Ten honor. Elliott was named this year’s winner of the Silver Football, presented to the Big Ten’s best player by The Chicago Tribune.

The vote for the award is determined by ballots submitted by each head coach of a Big Ten football program. This year’s vote included 13 ballots, as Kyle Flood did not submit a vote after being fired by Rutgers. Elliott received eight first-place votes from the Big Ten coaches. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook received three first-place votes and four second-place votes to finish in second place. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard received a pair of first-place votes and finished in third.

Other players receiving votes for the Silver Football included Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib, Iowa defensive back Desmond King, Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa, Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock and Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert.

The Chicago Tribune has handed out a Silver Football every season since 1924. Elliott is the 18th player from Ohio State to win the award, which breaks a tie with Michigan for the most all-time Silver Football winners. Iowa is the only other program to have double-digit winners (10). Elliott is the second Ohio State player to win the award in the last four years, joining two-time Silver Football winner Braxton Miller (2012, 2013).

Big 12, Pac-12 lead Maxwell Award semifinalists; SEC leads Bednarik semifinalists

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The push for the College Football Playoff is not the only thing heating up in November. Award season is started to come closer and closer. On Monday, the Maxwell Football Club released its list of semifinalists for two of the top individual awards in college football, the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award. Every Power 5 conference is represented on the Maxwell Award semifinalist list with 2 from the ACC, 4 from the Big 12, 2 from the Big Ten, 4 from the Pac-12 and 2 from the SEC. The SEC led the power conferences with seven players named to the Chuck Bednarik Award semifinalists with four.

Last year’s winner for the two Maxwell Football Club awards were Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (Maxwell Award) and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright (Bednarik Award). A quarterback has won the Maxwell Award 13 times since 2000 and has included players like Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise gives the Irish a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the list of all-time winners by school. Notre Dame and Penn State each have seven Maxwell Award winners for the most of all-time. Navy, Ohio State and Texas each have four winners.

Penn State also has more Bednarik Award winners than any other school with four. LSU has a chance to come within one with linebacker Kendall Beckwith named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. Past winners of the Bednarik Award, first awarded in 1995, include Pat Fitzgerald, Charles Woodson, LaVar Arrington, Ndamukong Suh, Tyrann Mathieu, Manti Te’o and Aaron Donald.

The winners of the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award will be announced on December 10, 2015 during ESPN’s college football awards show. Three finalists will be announced for each award prior to that on November 24. A formal presentation for the awards will be held during the Maxwell Football CLub’s annual awards gala in Atlantic City, New Jersey, currently scheduled for March 11, 2016 at the Tropicana Resort & Casino.

2015 Maxwell Award Semifinalists

2015 Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalists

  • LB Kendall Beckwith, LSU
  • NT Andrew Billings, Baylor
  • DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
  • DE Jonathan Bullard, Florida
  • DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
  • S Jeremy Cash, Duke
  • LB Su’a Cravens, USC
  • DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
  • CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
  • DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson
  • CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
  • LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
  • DE Carl Nassib, Penn State
  • DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
  • DE Emmanueal Ogbah, Oklahoma State
  • LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
  • CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
  • LB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
  • LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame