Tim Brown

Notre Dame catches USC in Pro Football Hall of Famers

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Saturday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its eight-man class that will be enshrined in Canton later this year.  Not so unexpectedly, the two most-represented colleges in that prestigious club coming in added to its respective totals.

Running back Jerome Bettis and wide receiver Tim Brown, from Notre Dame, as well as the late linebacker Junior Seau, from USC, are a part of the to-be-inducted octet.  Entering this weekend, the Trojans led all college football teams with 11 Hall of Famers; after today, the Men of Troy are tied with the Irish at 12 apiece.

The other 2015 first-year eligible inductees include former Dallas Cowboy and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Charles Haley (James Madison) and former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields (Nebraska). Seniors nominee Mick Tingelhoff (Nebraska) and contributors Bill Polian (New York University) and Ron Wolf (played college baseball at Maryville (Tenn.) College) are part of the newest class as well.

Behind the even dozen from ND and USC, Ohio State has nine Pro Football Hall of Famers, followed by Michigan and Pittsburgh (eight each) and Alabama and Syracuse (seven each).

The inclusion of Shields and Tingelhoff pushes Nebraska’s total to five, which ties them for 13th all-time with Arizona State, SMU and UCLA.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 14 Rewind

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

PROJECTING CFP TOP FOUR
As it turns out, there was some significant upheaval — and near-upheaval — around the top of the College Football Playoff rankings that will continue to reverberate for days to come.

First and foremost, obviously, was No. 4 Mississippi State suffering its second loss of the season and seemingly knocking itself out of playoff contention.  Additionally, No. 6 Ohio State suffered a loss (star quarterback J.T. Barrett to a season-ending injury) in a win that could (maybe) (possibly) do serious damage to its playoff hopes as well.

Toss in near-misses from No. 3 Florida State (five-point win over 6-5 Florida) and No. 7 Baylor (two-point win over 4-8 Texas Tech) against bad football teams, and there will be some very eager and attentive bystanders when the new rankings are released Tuesday.  Hell, No. 1 Alabama’s season was on the line as it trailed Auburn by 12 in the third quarter at home before going on a 34-3 run to put the game away.

The team that arguably gained the most this weekend?  TCU, and they were sitting at home on their couches watching the mayhem develop.

About the only certainty coming out of Week 14 is that four different conferences will grab the four available playoff spots.  Which four, and which order, won’t be determined until next Saturday’s play has ended.

Entering Week 14, the Top Four, in order, was Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State.  What will it look like when the rankings are released?  My best guess is…

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Florida State
4. TCU

The main wildcard in all of this — maybe not in this week’s rankings but certainly the final one — is the Buckeyes.  If OSU can beat a very good and 14th-ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, would the committee put the Buckeyes in ahead of what would presumably be a pair of one-loss teams, Baylor and TCU, that won’t play in a championship game, knowing that the player who helped get the Buckeyes to 11-1 won’t be available?  And, as asked earlier Saturday, would the committee’s view of OSU depend on how Barrett’s replacement, Cardale Jones, performed in his first career start on one of the biggest stages?  We simply don’t know the answers to any of those types of questions, and won’t begin to get answers until, at the earliest, Tuesday evening.

Of course, the Bears still have their own stiff test to pass, hosting No. 12 Kansas State in Week 15.  And then there are the Horned Frogs, who can do nothing to improve its résumé — but could potentially damage it if they struggle — as it closes out the regular season against 2-9 Iowa State.

And then there’s this: what if one of Alabama, Oregon or Florida State — or some combination of the three — lose in their respective conference championship games next weekend?  All hell breaks loose, that’s what happens.  The best thing is, at least for non-fans of those squads, it’s entirely possible.  FSU plays a Georgia Tech team that’s won five straight, including Saturday’s win on the road against ninth-ranked Georgia, and runs the hard-to-defend option offense; Arizona, which has dropped No. 25 Utah and No. 13 Arizona State in back-to-back weeks, will prove to be a stiff test for UO, especially seeing as the Wildcats beat the Ducks by seven in Eugene earlier this year; and Missouri, despite the faulty thinking of some, will not be a pushover for UA, especially with that ferocious Mizzou defensive line.

While one of the seven teams may have been “eliminated” in Week 14, there remains plenty of potential for mayhem and carnage in Week 15.  Yep, this playoff thing sure is hurting the best regular season in sports…

A-C-C!!! A-C-C!!!
I don’t know if you noticed or not, but the ACC had a very good day today… and very much at the expense of its big football brother, the SEC.

For those unaware, allow me to count the SEC carcasses left strewn about the South after getting trucked by ACC programs:

  • Clemson 35, South Carolina 17
  • Georgia Tech 30, Georgia 24
  • Louisville 44, Kentucky 40
  • Florida State 24, Florida 19

I don’t know if that’s happened before, especially of late, but I’m quite certain it wouldn’t take long to call the roll of the times it has.  Sure, all four wins came against the weak link in the SEC chain, the East, but it was still an impressive performance by a much-maligned conference.

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Heisman odds tab Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Braxton Miller among favorites

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There ha sonly been one two-time Heisman Trophy winner in the history of college football, but those responsible for setting the odds have tabbed Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston the favorite to pull off the rare feat in 2014. Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, was given the best odds (+350) to win the Heisman Trophy in 2014 according to the new batch of odds released by Sportsbook. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (+700) and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (+700) share the second best preseason odds.

Georgia running back Todd Gurley is the non-quarterback with the best odds (+900). A running back has won the Heisman Trophy just twice since 2000, and one of those was vacated. UCLA linebacker and part-time running back Myles Jack is the defensive player with the best odds on the board (+2800). Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (+2200) and BYU quarterback Taysom Hill (+4500) are the players not playing in a power conference (Notre Dame and BYU are each independent) with the best odds. The last player not competing in a power conference to win the Heisman Trophy, ironically enough perhaps, was BYU quarterback Ty Detmer in 1990.  Notre Dame’s last Heisman Trophy winner was Tim Brown in 1987.

Ohio State legend Archie Griffin is the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, pulling off the unprecedented accomplishment in 1974 and 1975. Recent attempts to duplicate the tremendous achievement have fallen well short of happening. 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, of USC, finished third in the 2005 Heisman voting behind his teammate Reggie Bush and Texas quarterback Vince Young. 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow finished third in the 2008 Heisman voting behind Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. Bradford suffered a shoulder injury in the 2009 season opener and never sniffed a repeat Heisman bid as a result. Alabama running back Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in 2009 but was not able to put together a solid enough season to even finish in the top ten in Heisman voting in 2010. The most recent Heisman repeat bid by Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, saw Manziel finish fifth in the 2013 Heisman Trophy voting. The historic trends are not in favor of Winston and a repeat bid, but the odds say otherwise heading into the 2014 season.

Will Winston once again make history this fall, or will a name from out of nowhere make a push as the season progresses? You can view the entire list of odds via Sportsbook.

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin stumps for his other Heisman hopeful

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Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last season and is still considered to be a strong candidate for this year’s trophy. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is now getting involved with stumping for one of his players to be considered for the Heisman, and it may not be who you think it is.

Sumlin thinks Aggies receiver Mike Evans should be receiving more consideration for the award and wonders why nobody seems to be mentioning it as a possibility.

“I’m puzzled why Mike Evans isn’t in the Heisman race,” Sumlin said in a report by the Associated Press. “I think he’s as good a player as there is in the country.”

“He’s second in the country in yards per game and everybody knows we’re going to throw him the ball,” Sumlin said. Evans is also third in the nation with 11 touchdowns and second in total receiving yards. Evans is also one of the game’s top big-play threats with the nation’s fifth best average yards per reception with 22.94 yards per play.

History is against Evans though. The last time a wide receiver won the Heisman Trophy was 1991 when Michigan’s Desmond Howard was named the Heisman Trophy winner. The only other two receivers to win the Heisman Trophy are Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers in 1972 and Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in 1987. Since 1998 a running back or quarterback has been named the Heisman Trophy winner each season.

At this point in the season the top Heisman candidates are probably pretty much set. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston appear to be locks, and Manziel could very well make the return trip to New York as a finalist. Other candidates still considered to be in the running include Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty.

Klein, Manziel and Te’o are this year’s Heisman finalists

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The year started with a handful of preseason Heisman favorites, including USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.

But, the football season is unpredictable and this year’s group of Heisman finalists looks nothing like most thought it would at the beginning of the season. There were plenty of worthy candidates this year, from USC receiver Marqise Lee to Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. In the end, only three were chosen to make the trip to New York City. They are:

Collin Klein, Sr. QB Kansas State
Johnny Manziel, Fr. QB Texas A&M
Manti Te’o, Sr. LB Notre Dame

Klein has totaled nearly 2,500 passing yards, 890 rushing yards and 37 total touchdowns. He’s directly accounted for 69 percent of all of K-State’s offense this year. He would be the first Kansas State player to win the award.

“I’m just honored with this opportunity that the Lord has provided me here at K-State,” Klein said in a statement. “I’m so proud to represent K-State in this because I feel like my road is very synonymous and in line with the K-State way. It has been a process, it has been a journey. There have been a lot of ups and downs, as well as a lot of hard times and growing pains through it. I’m just very proud to represent the K-State family and our heart and spirit in this environment.”

Manziel has been among the most exciting players in college football on one of the most surprising teams in college football. The redshirt freshman leads his team in rushing and passing and has 43 total touchdowns to his name this year. He would be the second A&M player to win the Heisman (John David Crow).

“I’m overwhelmed by this tremendous honor of representing Texas A&M, the 12th Man and all my teammates in New York,” Manziel said in a statement. “This is a dream come true for me, and I know it’s a credit to all my coaches and teammates. I definitely wouldn’t be a Heisman finalist without my teammates and coaches.”

Te’o has been the anchor for Notre Dame’s defense this season. He is tied for second nationally with seven interceptions and leads his team with 103 tackles. He can become the first defense-only player to win the Heisman and the first Notre Dame player to win since Tim Brown in 1987.

The Heisman presentation will be this Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. ET. For a complete list of past Heisman winners, click HERE.