The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind


As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

The Pac-12 came into the 2015 season looking to challenge the SEC for conference football supremacy.  While that may end up still being the case, it was a rough Week 1 in myriad regards for the Left Coast league, particularly its northern division.

First and foremost, No. 21 Stanford went into Evanston as heavy favorites only to be upended and upset by Northwestern.  And it wasn’t just that one of the preseason favorites in the North was beaten, it was that they were roughed up by the Wildcats and seemed to play timid on both sides of the ball.  More embarrassingly, a couple of hours later Washington State lost to FCS Portland State, which came into the game a 30-point underdog.

The South contributed to the first-week malaise as No. 15 Arizona State, viewed by some as a darkhorse playoff candidate (sheepishly raises hand), capped off the night with a 20-point loss to unranked Texas A&M.  At least that, though, was a loss to a Power Five school, and one from the stacked SEC West no less, in what was essentially a home game for the Aggies.

Add in Washington’s loss to Boise State — no shame in that — and Colorado’s loss to Hawaii Thursday night — a whole hell of a lot of shame in that — and it turned into a horrific lost weekend for the conference.  That said, remember how many were writing the Big Ten off a year ago at this time?  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise to repeat that history.

If you thought that the Week 1 schedule, especially Saturday, was especially lacking when it came to compelling on-paper matchups, you’re not alone.  In fact, the raw data is sitting right along side you.

Opening weekend, and including the two still remaining, there were/are 87 games involving FBS teams.  Of that, 11 pitted Power Five vs. Power Five (for this exercise, I’m considering BYU a P5); another 47 — more than half — featured FBS teams playing an FCS team.  There were 22 Power Five teams that opened their season against an FCS team, with the ACC far and away leading the cupcake way with seven.  The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had four apiece, while the pastry alley that is the late-season SEC lagged behind with three.

There were also 23 games played between Power Five and Group of Five teams.  The SEC accounted for eight of those games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 saw four each.  The FCS-heavy ACC had three such games.

It wasn’t just the Power Fives feeding on the FCS, though, as 25 Group of Five teams opened against the former Div. 1-AA.  The remaining six games saw Group of Five squads squaring off against each other.

While most of the FBS feasted on their FCS cupcakes, a handful choked on them.  Two that lost to FCS teams were Power Five members in the aforementioned Wazzu and Kansas (South Dakota State, more on that below) and two were Group of Five teams in Army (Fordham) and Wyoming (North Dakota).

Vernon Adams transferred from Eastern Washington to Oregon earlier this offseason and ultimately earned the Ducks’ starting quarterback job.  As luck would have it, Adams’ current and former teams squared off in the season opener in Autzen Saturday night, and there was one interesting development in UO’s 61-42 win.


KU latest Big 12 team to name QB starter, tapping Montell Cozart

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See, told you it was Name Your Starting Quarterback Day in the Big 12 today.

With Michael Cummings likely out for the season with a torn ACL sustained in spring practice, Montell Cozart was far and a way the favorite to be named the starting quarterback prior to Kansas’ season opener.  That expectation officially came to fruition Monday, with first-year KU head coach David Beaty confirming that Cozart is his starter.

The battle, such as it was, consisted of Cozart, a junior, and a pair of true freshmen, Carter Stanley and Ryan Willis.

Based on experience alone, Cozart was held and shoulders above his competition.

Cozart started the first five games of the season before being replaced by Cummings for the final seven. The reason for the midseason switch was a simple one: production, or lack thereof. In those five starts for the 3-9 Jayhawks, Cozart threw five touchdown passes versus seven interceptions while completing less than 50 percent of his passes.

Cozart’s first start this season will come in the opener against FCS South Dakota State.

Nearly 30 percent of early entries weren’t selected in NFL draft


Not surprisingly, some of the players who left eligibility on the table for an early shot at the pros were left without a chair when the draft music stopped Saturday.

By the deadline in mid-January, a total of 84 players with eligibility remaining filled out their paperwork to make themselves available for the 2015 NFL draft.  As noted by Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com, 24 of those 84 players went undrafted as the seven-round event concluded yesterday evening.

While that’s 28.6 percent, it’s actually a better rate than a year ago.  In 2014, 36.7 percent (36 of 98) of the early entrants went undrafted.  That total of 98 last year was a record number of draft-eligible players who left with eligibility remaining, which prompted the NFL to change its protocol in an attempt to roll back the number of players leaving early.

Getting back to this year, 16 of the 24 who weren’t selected came from Power Five football programs.  TCU was the only school with two early entrants who weren’t picked (running back B.J. Catalon, safety Chris Hackett), while two of the players came from non-FCS levels.

It should be noted that most if not all of the players in this group will sign as an undrafted free agent.

Below is the complete list of those who went undrafted.

SS Durell Eskridge, Syracuse
CB Jacoby Glenn, UCF
FS Chris Hackett, TCU
WR DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame
RB Trey Williams, Texas A&M
DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
TE Jean Sifrin, Massachusetts
DT David Irving, Iowa State
WR Deontay Greenberry, Houston
DT Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
RB B.J. Catalon, TCU
WR Chris Harper, California
LB Max Flores, Northern Colorado
RB Dee Hart, Colorado State
RB Braylon Heard, Kentucky
WR George Farmer, USC
WR Nigel King, Kansas
OT Patrick Miller, Auburn
WR Zach D’Orazio, Akron
WR Tacoi Sumler, Appalachian State
OG Tyler Moore, Florida
WR Jaquel Pitts, Trinity International
LS Easton Wahlstrom, Arizona State
OLB Darien Rankin, North Carolina

Oft-injured Brandon Bourbon leaving Jayhawks for Div. II

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The once-promising but injury-plagued career of Brandon Bourbon will end one a much lower rung of the college football ladder.

In a text message to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Bourbon confirmed that his playing career at Kansas has come to an end. The running back will use up his final season of eligibility at Div. II Washburn in Topeka, Kan.

Bourbon missed two complete seasons because of injury: 2010 with a broken leg — which he aggravated the following year — and 2014 with a torn ACL. Because of that, he received a sixth season of eligibility.

In 2013, Bourbon ran for 191 yards and was second on the team with three rushing touchdowns. His 20 receptions were tied for third on the team. Entering summer camp this past season and prior to the serious knee injury, Bourbon was considered the Jayhawks’ starting back.

Bourbon was a four-star member of KU’s 2010 recruiting class, one of only two four-star signees for the Jayhawks that year. Keeston Terry, the other, played just two seasons at KU before transferring to Pittsburg State to finish out his career.

WR Nigel King opts for NFL over another year at Kansas

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In August of 2014 Nigel King transferred into the Kansas football program.  Five months later?  He gone.

Friday, the wide receiver confirmed to both the Lawrence Journal-World and the Topeka Capital-Journal that he’s decided to forego his remaining two years of eligibility.  King, who’s already graduated, is hopeful of getting an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in February based off how he closed out his lone season with the Jayhawks.

“I didn’t start the season off as strong as I wanted,” King told the Journal-World. “But I felt good about the way I finished and it just came down to me feeling like I was ready for it and knowing in my heart that this is what I want to do.”

King transferred to KU from Maryland less than a month before the start of the 2014 season.  He was second on the team with 537 receiving yards and No. 3 in receptions with 30, although he was No. 1 on the highlight real.