JuJu Smith

With Cody Kessler back in 2015, USC thinking about College Football Playoff

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Following a nailbiter of a win in the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska, USC quarterback Cody Kessler intends to return for his final season with the Trojans. Kessler announced his decision to return for the 2015 season when meeting with the media following the victory in San Diego.

Kessler passed for 3,826 yards and 39 touchdowns with just five interceptions during his junior season for USC. Those are typically numbers that throw a quarterback into the Heisman Trophy conversation, but Kessler could have used a couple of more wins on the year to make that a reality. However, if he is going to coming back in 2015 then he odds are very good he will be considered one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates next season with those kinds of numbers at USC.

Kessler also mentioned the chance to compete for a national championship, which USC could be in a position to compete for under Steve Sarkisian, his second season on the job. USC has plenty of first-team talent, and the roster will continue to get deeper now that the sanction phase is behind the program. That appeared to be the case for the Trojans this season; plenty of talent, but not enough depth.

Kessler will have an offensive line protecting him that was young this season. Another year to grow together as a unit could be beneficial. Kessler will also look to have the bulk of his supporting cast back next season as well, including wide receiver Juju Smith. Veteran wide receiver Nelson Agholor is receiving information regarding his NFL Draft stock before making his decision. Running back Javorius Allen is also awaiting NFL feedback before making his decision. If Agholor and Allen decide to come back to USC in 2015, the Trojans could be very dangerous on offense.

CFT Previews: The National University Holiday Bowl

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WHO: No. 24 USC (8-4) vs. Nebraska (9-3)

WHAT: The 37th National University Holiday Bowl

WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

WHEN: 8:00 p.m. ET Dec. 27 on ESPN

THE SKINNY: Nebraska goes into this postseason match-up with an interim coaching situation following the removal of Bo Pelini as head coach. The Huskers have since hired Mike Riley from Oregon State, although he will not coach this game. He should, however, be familiar with Nebraska’s opponent. The Huskers take on USC, with Nebraska looking for its first victory against the Trojans in the small history of the series.

Steve Sarkisian‘s offense will look to find success through the air. USC quarterback Cody Kessler passed for 3,505 yards and 36 touchdowns with just four interceptions this season. Nebraska’s pass defense ranks 27th in the nation with just 12 touchdown passes allowed and 12 interceptions. But they have not faced a passing offense like USC’s. Nelson Agholor and JuJu Smith are a solid 1-2 punch as targets, and running back Javorious Allen is a 1,300-yard rusher with the ability to catch and run as well.

Of course, Nebraska has a pretty good running back too. When healthy, Ameer Abdullah is one of the best running backs in the country. Injuries have slowed him down a bit this season, but Abdullah has had time to get ready for the game and should be expected to carry the bulk of the load on offense for Nebraska. The Huskers also bring Randy Gregory as a defensive force to be reckoned with.

THE PREDICTION: USC 31, Nebraska 23

Week 13, Statistically Speaking

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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.592 – Winning percentage of visiting teams in Pac-12 road games (29-20) this season. The six teams ranked in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and USC) have a combined overall road record of 23-6 (.793).

.815 — Ohio State’s winning percentage (97-22) in Big Ten play since 2000, the highest league winning percentage among all Power Five schools.  Oklahoma 99-24 is next at .805.

.933 — Career field-goal percentage for Florida State’s Robert Aguayo (42-45).  The all-time career mark, for at least 45 attempts per the 2014 FBS record book, was .900 (45-50) by Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer (2009-12). The career mark, for at least 55 attempts, is .895 (68-76) by Nebraska’s Alex Henery (2007-10).

0 — Touchbacks this season for Wake Forest punter Alex Kinal, the only player in the Top 25 in punting average who can make that claim.

1 — 400-yard passing games for Jake Waters in his career, the lone one coming in Kansas State’s win over West Virginia Thursday night (400 even).  Waters had only one previous 300-yard game, that coming in November of last year against Oklahoma (348).

Ohio State v Maryland
Brad Craddock

1 — Kickers at the FBS level who have yet to miss a field goal attempt (minimum eight attempts) this season: Maryland’s Brad Craddock (17-17).  Craddock has made 23 straight attempts dating back to 2013, the longest current streak at the FBS level and third-longest in Big Ten history.

1.2 — Yards per play Savannah State averaged in its 64-0 loss to BYU.  The Cougars limited the Tigers to 40 yards passing on 28 attempts and 23 yards rushing on the same number of attempts.

4 — FBS teams currently undefeated in conference play:

Florida State (ACC, 8-0)
Georgia Southern (Sun Belt, 7-0)
Marshall (Conference USA, 7-0)
Ohio State (Big Ten, 7-0)

5 — Consecutive games Auburn allowed 30 or more points prior to playing Samford, the first time that’s ever happened in the history of the football program.

5 — Number of undefeated home seasons in the history of Utah State football: 1968 (4-0), 1972 (5-0), 1982 (4-0), 2012 (6-0) and 2014 (6-0).

6 — Total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) for Colorado State’s Dee Hart in a win over New Mexico, the second-highest single-game total in Mountain West History.

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