Nick Wilson

Ohio State, Ezekiel Elliott the betting favorites for national title and Heisman

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As we continue to inch toward the beginning of a new college football season, the odds continue to be updated. With quarterback Everett Golson transferring to Florida State was reason enough to take another look at some of the betting odds for the national championship and Heisman Trophy pictures, but it continues to be Ohio State and Buckeye running back Ezekiel Elliott at the top of the betting lines as the favorites in 2015.

Ohio State still has the best odds to win the national championship with Bovada listing the Buckeyes at 7/2 odds. With the loaded roster returning in 2015 that seems top make sense, however history would suggest it would be wiser to count on making money with another team. There have been just two back-to-back crowned national champions since 1990 and the last time a team from the Big Ten won consecutive national titles was in 1940 and 1941 (Minnesota). Alabama is always a top favorite, and the Crimson Tide are sitting ins second with 7/1 odds, followed by TCU (10/1), Auburn (12/1) and Florida State (12/1).

As for the Heisman Trophy, Elliott’s strong surge en route to a national championship has made him the betting favorite with 6/1 odds. LSU’s Leonard Fournette follows with 15/2 odds. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, Georgia running back Nick Chubb and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin each have 8/1 odds according to Bovada. Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones (12/1), Braxton Miller (25/1) and J.T. Barrett (28/1) each have listed Heisman odds as well if you want to place an early bet before knowing which of the three may be starting in the fall.

In honor of David Lettermen, remember this is for entertainment purposes only.

Bovada’s latest 2015 national championship odds:

Ohio State 7/2
Alabama 7/1
TCU 10/1
Auburn 12/1
Florida State 12/1
USC 18/1
Baylor 20/1
Notre Dame 20/1
Clemson 22/1
Oregon 22/1
Georgia 25/1
Michigan State 25/1
Oklahoma 25/1
LSU 28/1
UCLA 28/1
Stanford 33/1
Arkansas 40/1
Michigan 40/1
Mississippi 40/1
Texas A&M 40/1
Tennessee 50/1
Arizona State 66/1
Florida 66/1
Mississippi State 66/1
Nebraska 66/1
Oklahoma State 66/1
Texas 66/1
Miami 75/1
Wisconsin 75/1
Arizona 100/1
Georgia Tech 100/1
Louisville 100/1
Penn State 100/1
South Carolina 100/1
Utah 100/1
Virginia Tech 100/1
Washington 100/1
Missouri 150/1
Boise State 200/1
BYU 200/1
Kansas State 200/1
Texas Tech 200/1
West Virginia 250/1
North Carolina 300/1
Boston College 500/1
California 500/1
UCF 500/1
Cincinnati 500/1
Duke 500/1
Iowa 500/1
Marshall 500/1
Maryland 500/1
Minnesota 500/1
Northwestern 500/1
Oregon State 500/1
Pittsburgh 500/1
Rutgers 500/1
South Florida 500/1

Bovada’s Latest 2015 Heisman Trophy Odds

Ezekiel Elliott (RB Ohio State) 6/1
Leonard Fournette (RB LSU) 15/2
Trevone Boykin (QB TCU) 8/1
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia) 8/1
Dak Prescott (QB Mississippi State) 8/1
Cardale Jones (QB Ohio State) 12/1
Cody Kessler (QB USC) 12/1
Everett Golson (QB Florida State) 14/1
Derrick Henry (RB Alabama) 16/1
Paul Perkins (RB UCLA) 18/1
Connor Cook (QB Michigan State) 20/1
Jeremy Johnson (QB Auburn) 20/1
Samaje Perine (RB Oklahoma) 20/1
Deshaun Watson (QB Clemson) 20/1
Braxton Miller (QB Ohio State) 25/1
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State) 28/1
Corey Clement (RB Wisconsin) 33/1
J Royce Freeman (RB Oregon) 33/1
Seth Russell (QB Baylor) 33/1
Justin Thomas (QB Georgia Tech) 33/1
Dalvin Cook (RB Florida State) 40/1
James Connor (RB Pittsburgh) 40/1
D.J. Foster (RB Arizona State) 40/1
Taysom Hill (QB BYU) 40/1
Brad Kaaya (QB Miami) 40/1
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State) 40/1
Nick Wilson (RB Arizona) 40/1
Malik Zaire (QB Notre Dame) 40/1
Jared Goff (QB California) 50/1
Jacoby Brissett (QB North Carolina State) 66/1
Jalen Hurd (RB Tennessee) 66/1
Laquon Treadwell (WR Mississippi) 66/1
Marquise Williams (QB North Carolina) 66/1
Scooby Wright (LB Arizona) 66/1

2015 could be the year of the running back in college football

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College football has been a game for quarterbacks over the last decade or so, but the 2015 college football season could be a big one for the running backs. The young running backs that have taken the big stage during the 2014 season have shown glimpses of what could be one of the finest seasons for fans of the running game in quite some time.

Just look at some of the names coming back to line up in the back field with authority in 2015.

Now a couple of years removed from the SEC’s best quarterback class in some time, the SEC should be heavy on the run in 2015. The SEC’s leading rusher returning in 2015 will be Georgia’s Nick Chubb for his sophomore season, and LSU freshman Leonard Fournette could also be worthy of striking his Heisman pose. Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and an SEC-leading 14 touchdowns this season, and most of that came while backing up Todd Gurley until he went down to injury. Fournette also rushed for over 1,000 yards, including 143 yards in a bowl game loss against Notre Dame. If you need more running power from the SEC, look no further than Arkansas with sophomore Alex Collins. Collins is coming off a 1,100-yard season with 12 touchdowns and should be a big piece of the offense for Bret Bielema in 2015. If there is one thing Bielema knows how to do, it is run the football. With Collins on the field, Arkansas will do just that. Alabama will look for a big year from  too. Henry was 10 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season but he did rush for 11 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

Up north, the Big Ten should continue to see plenty of production on the ground. In 2014 the Big Ten running game was the story with Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon earning a nod as Heisman finalist and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah a household name. But the Big Ten also saw great seasons from Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, Minnesota’s David Cobb and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford. The Big Ten will lose all of these players to the draft, but there are some talented running backs ready to pick up the steam. Right now there is no hotter name among young running backs than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, who turned in a postseason run worthy of Mr. January consideration. Wisconsin has Corey Clement ready to be the next running back in line in Madison. Two other sophomores to keep an eye on in the Big Ten will be Michigan’s Derrick Green, who could have a big impact if he bounces back healthy in 2015, and Penn State’s Akeel Lynch if the Nittany Lions firm up on offensive line.

Move just west of Penn State and you may find the best running back in the state with Pittsburgh’s James Conner. The sophomore led the ACC in rushing with 1,765 yards and his 26 touchdowns were twice more than the ACC’s next leading rushing touchdown leader, Boston College’s Jon Hilliman (a freshman). Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could have a huge role in 2015 as well.

Out west it is easy to get caught up in the quarterback action in the Pac-12. This year was certainly the case with players like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, but next year could see some big years from running backs as well. Paul Perkins of UCLA led the Pac-12 in rushing with 1,575 yards this season and will be back in 2015. So will Arizona’s Nick Wilson, the conference’s fourth-leading rusher as a freshman, and Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman did not have a great championship game against Ohio State, but he should take on a heavy load without Mariota leading the offense in 2015.

The pass-happy Big 12 is not without some impact running backs in 2015 either. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine led the Big 12 with 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014. Baylor’s Shock Linwood was second in the Big 12  as a sophomore with 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns. West Virginia’s Rushel Shell is also capable of doing some major damage if the Mountaineers have more faith in him.

Quarterbacks will likely remain the face of many programs, but the 2015 season could be a huge season for the running backs.

CFT Previews: The VIZIO Fiesta Bowl

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WHO: No. 10 Arizona (10-3) vs. No. 20 Boise State (11-2)

WHAT: The 44th VIZIO Fiesta Bowl

WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

WHEN: 4:00 p.m. ET Dec. 31 on ESPN

THE SKINNY: It may not be quite the same as the days of busting the BCS party, but Boise State is back in the Fiesta Bowl for a third time. The Broncos won the lucrative reservation to the New Years Six New Years Eve party by being the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion (sorry Marshall), and the Broncos look to take advantage of it.

Boise State is riding an eight-game winning streak, including a victory in the Mountain West Conference championship game to clinch its spot in the New Years Six line-up. The Broncos have come a long way since opening the season with a loss in Atlanta to Ole Miss and their turnover-filled setback at Air Force. Running back Jay Ajayi has rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 25 touchdowns and quarterback Grant Hedrick has started to protect the football much more confidently as the offense found its bread and butter down the stretch. The defense has held three straight opponents to fewer than 20 points, but that could be difficult to do in this bowl match-up.

The Broncos will face Arizona, champions of the Pac-12 South and the only team to beat Oregon this season. Rich Rodriguez, the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and his Wildcats were unable to take down te Ducks for a second time, but they look to be a tough test for Boise State. The star attraction will be middle linebacker Scooby Wright III, who received quite the haul of postseason awards (Bronko Nagurski Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award and multiple defensive player of the year and all-conference mentions) for his efforts this season. But there is more to Arizona than the phenomenal Wright. Arizona’s offensive nucleus has shown plenty of promise with freshman quarterback Anu Solomon (3,458 yards, 27 touchdowns), freshman running back Nick Wilson (1,289 yards, 15 touchdowns) and sophomore wide receiver Cayleb Jones (902 yards, 9 touchdowns).

This one has potential to open things up offensively. Can Boise State score a third Fiest Bowl memory, or will Arizona represent the PAc-12 admirably on the big bowl stage?

THE PREDICTION: Arizona 37, Boise State 30

Oregon’s D overwhelms Arizona’s O during first half of Pac-12 Championship Game

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Two of the nation’s most explosive offenses were set to meet at the Pac-12 Championship Game. Neither the No. 2 Oregon Ducks nor the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats have been able to get on track on a wet field at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco.

Despite sloppy play and a penalty-filled first half, the Ducks still lead 23-0 at halftime.

Usually Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota draws all of the attention. Mariota is only 14-of-27 throwing the football, but he also converted a pair of rushing touchdowns.

However, the leading Heisman Trophy candidate isn’t the primary story in this contest. Oregon’s defense has come to play, and the Ducks have absolutely dominated the Wildcats’ offense.

Mariota currently has more pass attempts (27) than Arizona has total yards of offense (25).

The Ducks shut down Arizona’s talented running back Nick Wilson, who had 14 yards on seven carries. This forced the ball into the hands of the Wildcats’ freshman quarterback, Anu Solomon. Solomon was 6-of-12 passing for 34 yards and gained minus-23 yards on his six carries.

Oregon’s defensive line — DeForest Buckner, Tony Washington, Alex Balducci and Arik Armstead — is playing its best game of the season.

The group is dominating at the point of attack against the run, and Solomon has been under pressure each time he drops back to pass.

As a result, Arizona was forced into a 3-and-out on six consecutive drives to end the half.

Oregon’s offense doesn’t even need to play at a high level in the second half if its defense continues to swarm Arizona’s offense. The Wildcats, though, will get the ball first at the start of the third quarter. It’s absolutely vital for Solomon and his surrounding cast to make something positive happen coming out of halftime. If they don’t, then Oregon could easily run away with their second Pac-12 championship in the past four years.

Oregon Ducks plan to rewrite recent history against Arizona Wildcats

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Friday’s Pac-12 Champoinship Game will have a familiar feel.

College football fans have already seen this movie before. The Arizona Wildcats faced the higher-ranked Oregon Ducks and emerged with the upset victory on Oct. 2. However, Mark Helfrich‘s squad hopes to rewrite recent history.

There are plenty of differences already entering the Pac-12 Championship Game, though.

First, the Wildcats are now ranked in the Top 25. Rich Rodriguez‘s program has risen to No. 7 overall. Its ascension began with the 31-24 victory in Eugene. Arizona is now the champion of the Pac-12 South. And they’ll face the Ducks on a neutral field during their second meeting.

Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco will host the Pac-12 Championship Game. It will be the first time a neutral site hosted the championship game since Pac-12 expanded its conference.

Despite losing in the previous meeting, the Ducks, who are ranked No. 2 overall, are still considered the favorite to win the second contest between these two teams.

If that were to happen, Oregon’s approach must vary significantly:

1. Keep Mariota clean

When the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy is leading your offense, the goal is to keep him upright and allow him to work his magic. This hasn’t been easy for Oregon this season. When these two teams previously met, the Wildcats sacked Mariota five times. Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III, who is third in the nation with 14 sacks, got to Mariota once, and he’ll find ways into the Ducks’ backfield if given the chance. Unfortunately Oregon shuffled its offensive line multiple times this season due to injuries, and Friday will be no different. Senior leader and starting center Hroniss Grasu has been ruled out for the game due to a left leg injury.

2. Limit turnovers

The one team in the Pac-12 Conference to confound Mariota over his career is Arizona. The Wildcats run an exotic 3-3-5 defense which allows them to bring pressure from anywhere. It also puts more athletes on the field with an extra defensive back. And Mariota has struggled to deal with the speed and confusion the defense presents. Mariota can’t make the same mistakes Friday for the Ducks to win, but his history suggests the quarterback may continue to struggle to some degree:

3. Hold Arizona’s rushing game in check

The Wildcats ran for 208 yards during the initial meeting. Senior Terris Jones-Grigsby led the way with 120 yards on 27 carries. Arizona’s rushing attack has only gotten better in recent weeks with freshman Nick Wilson developing into the team’s workhorse. Over the past four contests, Wilson averaged 163.2 yards per game. If the Ducks can slow the Wildcats’ rushing attack, the offense will then be placed in the hands of freshman quarterback Anu Solomon, who was previously sacked four times by the Ducks.

The outcome

While the Pac-12 Conference won’t admit publicly it has a rooting interest in either team, the league should be quietly supporting Oregon.

The Ducks are considered one of the nation’s elite teams. Mariota is on the precipice of winning this year’s Heisman Trophy. And a win by Arizona will likely lock the conference out of the inaugural College Football Playoff. A two-loss team is very unlikely to be named part of the final four.

Oregon is arguably the best team in the nation. The Ducks stumbled against the Wildcats earlier in the season. This is their opportunity to rectify the team’s only blemish.