AP Photo/David Goldman

Everything looking peachy for Houston after dominant first half vs. FSU

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Nothing seemed to go right for Florida State in the first half of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta. Everything seemed to go righ for their opponents, AAC champion Houston. Houston has forced two turnovers and quarterback Greg Ward Jr. has rushed for two touchdowns to help Houston jump out to a 21-3 lead on the Seminoles after one half of play in the Peach Bowl.

The first quarter was a complete mess for Florida State. Run blocking for Dalvin Cook was non existent (10 carries, 11 rushing yards in first half). Kicker Roberto Aguayo missed a 52-yard field goal try. Starting quarterback Sean Maguire was lost (temporarily) to a leg injury, and with Everett Golson not with the team due to a death in the family, that left the Seminoles to go with J.J. Cosentino under center. Cosentino was not even listed on the depth chart for the game. Maguire went to the locker room but returned with his leg wrapped up.

Ward opened the scoring this afternoon with a seven-yard touchdown run at the end of an 11-play drive midway through the first quarter. Houston dug into the bag of tricks for its second touchdown midway through the second quarter when Demarcus Ayers took a handoff off a reverse and chucked it 20 yards to the end zone to a wide open Chance Allen.

Ward rushed for his second touchdown of the game shortly after that after Houston’s defense forced a fumble from Dalvin Cook at the Florida State 16-yard line.

Still one half to play, but Houston appears to have a solid upper hand in Atlanta.

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

Defense the story of the half for Seminoles and Gators

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No. 12 Florida is already locked into playing for the SEC championship next week, but any thought of potentially playing in the College Football Playoff could be in some serious danger at home. At halftime in Gainesville, the Gators are trailing rival No. 13 Florida State 10-0 and struggling to keep drives alive.

Both teams have played well on defense, as demonstrated by the combined third-down conversion success between the two offenses. Florida has converted just three of 10 third-down attempts, while Florida State has gone without a third-down conversion despite having seven tries. The Seminoles did convert a fourth down play, and it was a big one.

Sean Maguire had one of those “no, no, no, yes!” moments midway through the first quarter. On fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Maguire rolled right and looked for an open receiver. As he ran out of room on the right side of the field, he threw against his body to a covered Jeremy Kerr in the end zone and somehow managed to thread a needle for a touchdown. The score lifted the Seminoles to a 10-0 lead.

Florida  was dealt a scare in the final minutes of the half. Running back Kelvin Taylor needed to be helped off the field after appearing to injure his left ankle. He returned after missing just a couple of plays for the Gators.

Dalvin Cook helps No. 11 FSU overcome sloppy performance vs. USF

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Florida State running back Dalvin Cook was the star of the day for the No. 11 Seminoles (2-0) in a 34-14 win over visiting USF (1-1). Cook rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns to lead the ACC contenders past a sluggish first half and sloppy play all around.

Cook’s rushing total was the second most yards ever by a Florida State running back in a single game. Florida State should be thankful for having him on the field today. Florida State’s offense did nothing in the first half of the game. Quarterback Everett Golson completed just one of his nine first half attempts, but he, along with the rest of the team, seemed to turn things around after halftime. Golson ended his afternoon with 163 yards and a touchdown while completing 14 of 26 passes. Golson made some bad decisions at times but managed to avoid having a mistake cost him too much.

Florida State came out of the halftime break with three scores in the third quarter. Cook ran once for a 24-yard score, kicker Roberto Aguayo nailed a 3-yard field goal and Golson completed a touchdown pass to Jesus Wilson from 23 yards out. That was enough to pretty much seal the victory heading into the fourth quarter. USF would trim the lead down to 10-points early in the fourth quarter with a Quinton Flowers touchdown pass to D’Ernest Johnson for a quick 71-yard score, but the Seminoles tacked on more points tokeep the game out of reach.

Florida State will jump into ACC play next week when they head north to play at Boston College. The primetime match-up could be a tricky one for the Seminoles, as Steve Adazio has his Eagles at 2-0 out of the gates. Of course, those two wins have come at the expense of two FCS opponents, so how well will Boston College really be ready to step things up next week in terms of level of competition?

USF will be back on the road against a power conference opponent next week. The Bulls head to Maryland of the Big Ten for the second game in a home-and-home series. Maryland won a 24-17 game last season in Tampa between the two schools.

Clemson paces All-ACC preseason team; Miami shut out

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Clemson was tapped by the media as the preseason favorite to win the ACC title, so it’s not surprising that the Tigers have fared well individually as well.

The ACC released its preseason all-conference team Thursday morning, with Clemson leading the way with five players landing on the first and only team.  Deshaun Watson was voted as the preseason Player of the Year, and received the expected All-ACC nod as well as 100 of the 163 voters selected the true sophomore as their first-team quarterback.  The next quarterback, Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas, was named on 33 ballots.

Watson wasn’t the leading vote-getter, though, as that nod belongs to Pittsburgh running back James Connor, who received 148 of a possible 163 votes.  Others receiving the most votes at their position include one of Connor’s teammates, wide receiver Tyler Boyd (141), and one of the top placekickers in the history of the game, Florida State’s Robert Aguayo (141).

After Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech were next up with four players each selected.  Three of the 14 ACC teams went without representation: Boston College, Miami and Syracuse.  The interesting school in the latter group is, of course, The U.

Not only did the Hurricanes get shut out of the first team, the closest they got to landing a player on the squad was Deon Bush, whose 20 votes left him fourth amongst the safeties.  Other than Bush, Stacey Coley (21 votes, eight amongst wide receivers) Rafael Kirby (19, eighth amongst linebackers) Danny Isidora (18, ninth amongst offensive guards) KC McDermott (12, seventh amongst offensive tackles) and Brad Kaaya (10, fourth amongst quarterbacks) were the Hurricanes receiving double-digit votes.

It’s that lack of talent, or perception thereof, that will have Al Golden heading into the 2015 season on one of the hottest coaching seats in America.

2015 All-ACC Preseason Football Team

Offense
WR – Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt
WR – Mike Williams, Jr., Clemson
WR – Artavis Scott, So. Clemson
TE – Bucky Hodges, r-So., Virginia Tech
OT – Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State
OT – Adam Bisnowaty, r-Jr., Pitt
OG – Landon Turner, r-Sr., North Carolina
OG – Eric Mac Lain, Gr., Clemson
C – Matt Skura, r-Sr., Duke
QB – Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson
RB – James Conner, Jr., Pitt
RB – Shadrach Thornton, Sr., NC State

Defense
DE – Dadi Lhomme Nicolas. r-Sr., Virginia Tech
DE – Shaq Lawson, Jr., Clemson
DE – Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville
DT – Adam Gotsis, Sr., Georgia Tech
DT – Luther Maddy, r-Sr., Virginia Tech
LB – Terrance Smith, r-Sr., Florida State
LB – Brandon Chubb, r-Sr., Wake Forest
LB – James Burgess, Sr., Louisville
CB – Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State
CB – Kendall Fuller, Jr., Virginia Tech
S – Jeremy Cash, r-Sr., Duke
S – Quin Blanding, So., Virginia

Special Teams
PK – Roberto Aguayo, r-Jr., Florida State
P – Alex Kinal, r-Sr., Wake Forest
KR – Ryan Switzer, So., North Carolina