Mike Smith knew 2015 would be his final season with Texas Tech.
Smith was fired as Tech's co-defensive coordinator after the conclusion of the 2015 season. Smith told RedRaiders.com he was told about his firing before the season began. Seriously.
“This wasn’t a surprise to me,” Smith told the site. “Even way before the season started, it was known and I was told I would be fired after the season. So I chose to stay. I made a lot of promises to my guys and to my players. It wasn’t time for me to go somewhere else with (coming off) a bad season. I just love Texas Tech. Even if it’s one year, it’s worth one year.”
We have to believe Smith made a rare choice to stay. Can you imagine a lot of coaches sticking out a season knowing they were going to be dismissed when it was over? The revelation is another interesting one involving former Texas Tech defensive assistants. When the school parted ways with former assistant Matt Wallerstedt in 2014, Smith said Wallerstedt was giving away signals. Wallerstedt denied the allegations.
Smith first being told of his firing after the season wouldn't have been a surprise either. Texas Tech was 125th in the country in total defense. The average score of a Texas Tech game was 46-43 (the Red Raiders won!) and Tech gave up 50+ points four times.
Smith told the site he was relieved of his duties on Friday and conveyed the news to his players on Sunday. Tech beat Texas on Thanksgiving to finish the regular season 7-5.
“I’m OK with that,” he said. “I’m not mad. That’s just how it is. If somebody else helps this program win, I’m all for it. That’s how much I love this university and just want to them to be successful. It’s tough, but it’s part of the business. It’s not hard feelings. I still love Texas Tech as much now as I did a year ago and five years ago.
“Texas Tech has given me eight years of wonderful memories, playing and coaching. I hope I can come back and watch games and hang out. It was a fun ride.”
Smith, who was elevated from linebackers coach in 2014, shared defensive duties at Tech with defensive coordinator David Gibbs, who is still with the team. Smith was one of three assistants who are parting ways with the team. Tech announced Tuesday that outside linebackers coach Trey Haverty and defensive backs coach Kevin Curtis would not return.
For more Texas Tech news, visit RedRaiderSports.com.
- - - - - - -
Update: Dec. 1 - 12:15 p.m. ET
Texas Tech announced that three defensive assistants – co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith, defensive backs coach Kevin Curtis and outside linebackers coach Trey Haverty – will not return to the staff in 2016.
The changes are effective immediately, meaning they will not coach in the team's upcoming bowl game.
“We appreciate all that Mike, Kevin and Trey have done at Texas Tech over the last three seasons,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a statement. “All three are great Red Raiders and we wish them the very best.”
All three Kingsbury’s staff when he was hired as head coach in 2013.
- - - Original story - - -
Two of Texas Tech’s defensive coaches reportedly will not return for the 2016 season.
According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Dallas Morning News, Red Raiders co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith and defensive backs coach Kevin Curtis have been let go. The news was first reported by RedRaiderSports.com ($).
Both newspapers spoke with prospects who have verbally committed to Texas Tech in the 2016 class. Demarcus Fields, a three-star defensive back, told the Avalanche-Journal that Curtis told him the news in an in-person meeting.
“He told me face-to-face,” Fields said. “I know it’s a business, man. I’m still going to stay in contact with him though, I just know we’re going to get some coaches that will be top-notch and ready to go.”
“They both called me on Sunday after church and let me know that the decision had been made a few days ago and they were making it official,” Jackson said. “I was really surprised because I was so close to the both of them.”
Both Smith and Curtis joined head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s staff when he was hired as head coach in 2013. The Red Raiders had one of the worst defenses in the country in 2015 by allowing 540.2 yards per game – 125th in the nation. The defense was also ranked 125th in rush defense and 112th in pass defense.
Smith, a former TTU linebacker, started as Kingsbury’s linebackers coach in 2013, but was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2014 after the messy departure of former defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt. In 2015, he served as co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach alongside defensive coordinator David Gibbs.
Before his time as a Red Raiders assistant, Smith spent three seasons on the staff of the New York Jets and was also a graduate assistant at Hawaii.
Curtis, a former TTU safety, was in his third season as cornerbacks coach. He previously spent time at Louisiana Tech and Navarro Junior College.
The 7-5 Red Raiders are riding a two-game winning streak into postseason play after knocking off Kansas State and Texas in back-to-back weeks.
For more Texas Tech news, visit RedRaiderSports.com.
- - - - - - -
Jimbo Fisher is not heading to the SEC.
The Florida State coach was mentioned as a possible successor to LSU coach Les Miles. But LSU decided Saturday that Miles was staying as the team's coach. So when Georgia split with coach Mark Richt, Fisher, a former assistant at LSU and Auburn, got to be mentioned to replace Richt.
He's not going to be doing that. Fisher was asked by the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi if he was staying at FSU on Tuesday. Here's his straightforward answer:
"You're exactly right," Fisher said. "I'm staying right here at Florida State."
As we've mentioned before, Fisher would be silly to leave Florida State unless, well, unless he was heading for a job he had to have. And given that the Seminoles have been a consistent power and a national-title-winning team in his tenure, there aren't many jobs that seem incredibly more attractive than Florida State.
"There is no doubt I do (have one of the best jobs in America)," Fisher told me Tuesday. "This is a tremendous place. The Florida State people have been wonderful. This is a great place to live, a great place to coach; we've got great players, great tradition and great history. This is a tremendous job and a heckuva place. I love it here.
LSU wasn't one of those upgrades or have-to-have jobs. Georgia certainly isn't one of them either unless you're blinded by an SEC light that believes many SEC jobs are better than a top school in another Power Five conference.
The Bulldogs just got rid of a very successful former Florida State assistant after a 9-3 season. It was a very similar situation to LSU; it's just that Georgia officials pulled the trigger on getting rid of Richt. LSU apparently had cold feet after letting Miles twist in the public opinion wind for the past couple weeks.
Fisher is 68-13 in his Florida State tenure. Unless the NFL comes calling, expect that win total to increase significantly before the end of his Seminole career.
For more Florida State news, visit Warchant.com.
- - - - - - -
Three players – Marcus Outlow, Sherman Alston and Jordan Gowins – announced their decisions to transfer from Boston College on Monday.
Outlow, a sophomore running back, told the Norwich Bulletin that he wasn’t involved with the offense as much as he hoped. He was third among the team’s running backs with 241 yards and a touchdown on 53 carries, but had only nine carries over the final six games.
“I just want to move on, see where I can go and who has the best plan for me,” Outlow said. “I was just not given the opportunity that I was told I would receive.”
The 5-foot-10, 203-pound Outlow also had 243 yards rushing and 11 catches for 103 yards and touchdown as a true freshman in 2014.
Alston, a sophomore wide receiver, had seven catches for 77 yards in 2015 and was also the team’s main punt returner, gaining 180 yards on 23 attempts. In 2014, he caught 16 passes for 175 yards and two scores.
Per EagleAction.com, Alston shared the following sentiment on Instagram:
"I've learned a lot these past two years [not] only about my self but others. I'm thankful God put me through this time at BC. I look forward to what the future holds and wish all my BC brothers the best of luck. Go get that ACC Championship because ya deserve it."
Gowins, a running back, just finished his first season with the program. He gained 43 yards on 15 carries.
“After much thought and prayer, I have decided to transfer from Boston College. I thank BC for the opportunity & I thank God for guiding me,” Gowins wrote on Twitter.
After starting the season 3-1, Boston College lost its final eight games of the season – all ACC competition – to finish 3-9.
For more Boston College news, visit EagleAction.com.
- - - - - - -
The status of Florida wide receiver Demarcus Robinson for Saturday’s SEC Championship Game will be decided by his teammates.
According to the Gainesville Sun, Gators head coach Jim McElwain said Monday that the team’s seniors will decide whether Robinson should be allowed to return to the field. Robinson, the team’s leading receiver, was suspended for last week’s game against Florida State for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
“I’m going to visit with the seniors. They’ll determine which direction we’ll go,” McElwain said. “(Robinson) made a choice, OK. He made a choice. Our family needs to make this decision and those guys are the leaders of our family.”
Robinson, a junior, leads the team with 47 catches this season and is second with 505 yards. He also has two touchdowns. In 2014, Robinson caught 53 passes for 810 yards and seven scores.
Though he’s been productive during his time at Florida, Robinson also has had a handful of off-the-field issues. The Florida State game was the fourth game he’s missed in his career due to suspension. He has also been demoted to second string several times this season.
The Gators, now 10-2 after last weekend’s 27-2 loss to Florida State, face No. 2 Alabama in the SEC title game on Saturday in Atlanta.
For more Florida news, visit InsideTheGators.com.
- - - - - - -
Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost is moving across the country for a head coaching position.
First reported by UCFSports.com and CBS Sports' Ryan Bass, Frost, 40, will be the new coach at Central Florida. The former Nebraksa quarterback has served as Oregon's offensive coordinator for the past three seasons. He was promoted when Mark Helfrich took over as Oregon's head coach for Chip Kelly when Kelly went to the Eagles. The school made the hire official later Tuesday morning.
More: I am hearing Scott Frost will be officially announced by UCF later today. Press conference scheduled for tomorrow. Total surprise.— Brandon Helwig (@UCFSports) December 1, 2015
Scott Frost, Oregon's OC, will be named UCF's new head coach this morning, according to a source.— Ryan Bass (@Ry_Bass) December 1, 2015
Confirmed via multiple sources, both inside and outside UCF: Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost will be UCF's next head coach.— Brandon Helwig (@UCFSports) December 1, 2015
UCF was looking for a new coach because of the retirement of George O'Leary. The Knights went 0-12 in 2015 but were considered a better job than a winless team because of the location and recruiting base of the school. UCF won the Fiesta Bowl after the 2013 season.
The reports of Frost becoming the team's new coach are after Bowling Green coach Dino Babers was mentioned over the weekend as a possibility to be O'Leary's replacement. If Babers was a strong possibility, it's apparent the school wanted a new coach with an offensive background in an uptempo spread-type offense. Babers is a former Baylor assistant.
Frost played quarterback at Nebraska from 1995-1997 after he transferred from Stanford. After a brief NFL career he got in to coaching. He's been with Oregon since 2009 and was the team's wide receivers coach before he became the team's offensive coordinator.
Frost was also considered a strong candidate for the Syracuse job. The Orange are looking for a new coach after firing Scott Shafer.
For more UCF news, visit UCFSports.com.
- - - - - - -
Oregon State quarterback Nick Mitchell is leaving the team.
The Beavers announced Monday that Mitchell was one of four players departing.
"I want to thank Coach [Gary] Andersen for the opportunity at Oregon State and wish all of my teammates outstanding success in the future," Mitchell said in a team statement.
Malik Gilmore, Luke Hollingsworth and Chris Hayes are also transferring. Gilmore and Hollingsworth are juniors while Hayes is a sophomore.
"Change is not always easy, but these young men embraced it and made valuable contributions to help build the foundation of this program, and we thank them for that," Andersen said.
Mitchell was a starter for five games in 2015 for Oregon State and was the team’s second-leading passer. He was 51-113 passing for 571 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He first saw action in the Beavers’ loss to Colorado. He also started games against Utah, UCLA, Cal and Washington. He was 0-7 against the Huskies before he was pulled. Freshman Marcus McMaryion was the team’s starter vs. Oregon on Friday. Oregon State lost 52-42.
A redshirt freshman, Mitchell was a three-star recruit in the class of 2014 and the No. 27 pro-style QB in the country according to Rivals. If he transfers to another FBS school he'll have to sit out a season.
Gilmore had six tackles in 2015. Hollingsworth had two tackles while Hayes didn't record a statistic.
For more Oregon State news, visit BeaverBlitz.com.
- - - - - - -
The University of Missouri, one of 12 teams with a 5-7 record heading into the weekend, issued a statement Monday saying it would not petition the NCAA for bowl eligibility.
Since there are not enough 6-6 bowl eligible teams for the 80 bowl slots available, the NCAA default is to use 5-7 programs based on their Academic Progress Rates (APR). Heading into the final weekend, there are still three 5-6 programs yet to finish their seasons. At least two 5-7 teams will be used to fill bowl slots and as many as five could be selected.
Based on APR scores, Missouri would have been tied for second in APR with Kansas State, one of the 5-6 teams that will face West Virginia this weekend.
“Following this weekend’s football games, there have been significant discussions nationally concerning 5-7 teams participating in bowl games,” Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades said. “After careful consideration, we have decided it is not in the best interest of our football program to seek permission from the NCAA to participate in a bowl game. Our focus remains on identifying the right leader for our program and moving forward with the transition process.
The NCAA said it will provide bowls looking for entrants a pool of teams based on the top APR schools. Bowls can chose whichever team fits their criteria.
Missouri is currently looking for a football coach to replace Gary Pinkel, who recently announced he was resigning to battle cancer.
For more Missouri news, visit PowerMizzou.com.
- - - - - - -
And don’t forget to keep up with all of Graham’s thoughts, witty comments and college football discussions on Facebook
After putting up 13.5 sacks this year as a junior, Maryland defensive end Yannick Ngakoue announced Monday that he will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that is in anyway affiliated with the University of Maryland and its football program,” Ngakoue said. “For the last three years I have called College Park my home, and I can honestly say that everyone here will remain an integral part of my family. I am a better person for having chosen Maryland as my home, and I know that has allowed me to be prepared for what lies ahead.”
Ngakoue further expounded on his decision on Twitter.
Ngakoue’s 13.5 sacks were a Maryland single-season record and was second in the country behind Penn State’s Carl Nassib (15.5). Ngakoue also totaled 38 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and one forced fumble for the Terps this season.
“We are thrilled for Yannick and his family that he has made this decision to pursue his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL,” said interim head coach Mike Locksley. “After speaking with Yannick and his family, he feels that he is prepared to take this step in his football career and we support his decision. We wish him well and look forward to seeing him compete at the highest level.”
Ngakoue finishes his career fourth best in Maryland history with 21.5 sacks and eighth best with 33 tackles for loss.
Maryland went 3-9 this season.
For more Maryland news, visit TerrapinSportsReport.com.
- - - - - - -
Navy unveiled Monday new hand-painted position-by-position helmets for the Dec. 12 game against rival Army, and they might be the most spectacular helmets ever produced for game wear.
Each helmet pays homage to seven of the historic ships that make up the U.S. Naval Fleet. The players will wear the helmets according to position.
Here’s the position breakdown by navysports.com:
• Linebacker: Cruiser- Provides anti-air defense and packs the biggest punch of Naval surface ships representative of the linebackers on the Navy football team.
• Defensive Back: Destroyer- Known for significant fire power, speed, and anti-missile defense as are Navy’s defensive backs.
• Wide Receiver: Submarine- Predominantly utilized as blockers, wide receivers play a key role in driving the Navy rush attack, taking on a stealth-like persona as they blend into the rhythm of the offense but bring significant fire power when called upon, just like a Naval submarine.
• Lineman: Amphibious Assault Ships- Just as a lineman’s job is the create a hole for a running back or linebacker, these ships are utilized to establish the “beach head” that enables the invading force to gain access and ultimately accomplish their objective.
• Quarterback: Aircraft Carrier- The QB of the Naval Fleet, the aircraft carrier is the ultimate decision maker; the “quick strike” weapon of the Naval fleet.
• Running Back: Littoral Combat Ship- Like running backs, these fast and nimble ships can navigate through both crowded shallow and deep waters.
• Kicker/Special Teams: Minesweeper- Much like the specific task of the Navy special teams, this small ship has a unique mission of identifying and eliminating mines.
The uniforms, which are made by Under Armour, are blue with yellow trim and “the rally cry ‘damn the torpedoes!’ is featured on the uniform as a nod to Admiral Farragut’s historic Naval victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864.”
Navy and Army usually have special uniforms for their annual contest, but these are by far the most original and artistic we’ve ever seen. They don’t belong on a football field; they’re way too nice.
- - - - - - -
And don’t forget to keep up with all of Graham’s thoughts, witty comments and college football discussions on Facebook
Houston coach Tom Herman has agreed in principle to remaining the cougars head coach.
Herman was offered a $3-million deal to stay in Houston after he was considered one of the top targets for several of the current job openings.
Herman, who is in his first season with Houston, is 11-1 and his Cougars are playing in the American Athletic Conference title game against Temple this weekend.
Shortly after Georgia fired coach Mark Richt, Herman became the rumored frontrunner for the position.
Herman said Monday his talks with Houston are ongoing and while the two parties have agreed in principle, they still have several details to work out.
For more Houston news, visit CougarsDen.com.
- - - - - - -
And don’t forget to keep up with all of Graham’s thoughts, witty comments and college football discussions on Facebook
Each Monday, we’ll gather the best catches from the weekend (or the midweek games) and bring them here for you to vote on in a poll. There could be only a few nominees, or there could be five or six. It all depends on the weekend. If you have a catch you’d like to nominate, don’t hesitate to hit us up on Twitter (@YahooDrSaturday).
The voting remains open until Friday and the winner advances to a final, end of the year vote where the best catch of the season will be determined. And since we started this midway through the season, some of our favorite catches from the first half will re-surface at the end of the season as well. Don’t you worry.
After a two-week run from the MAC, the SEC finally took home our catch of the week honors. This awesome one-handed TD catch by Mississippi State junior Fred Ross was the top vote-getter in Week 12.
Ross won by a considerable margin by garnering 61 percent of the vote. Gehrig Dieter from Bowling Green finished second at 23 percent of the vote while Alabama's Richard Mullaney (14 percent) was third, Georgia's Terry Godwin was fourth (3 percent) and Cal's Trevor Davis (1 percent) in fifth.
Here are the Week 13 nominees:
Demarcus Ayers – Houston
As a junior, Houston's Demarcus Ayers has exploded for 89 catches after totaling only 44 in his first two seasons with the program. In Friday's big AAC West-sealing win over Navy, Ayers was all over the field. He had eight catches for a season-high 161 yards, including this crazy, leaping one-handed snag that he took 62 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Here's another look at the 5-foot-10 Ayers perfectly timing his jump to make the catch. He then avoided multiple Navy defenders and showed breakway speed for his sixth touchdown catch of the season.
Deon Watson – Idaho
This clutch fourth quarter catch by Idaho junior Deon Watson was a big reason the Vandals snapped a four-game losing streak in Saturday's season finale against Texas State. The Vandals and Bobcats were tied at 31 with just under two minutes to go when Matt Linehan found Watson down the left sideline. Watson somehow fought off a defender and brought the pass in with his right hand for a big gain.
As you can see, the Texas State defender was all over Watson, but he boxed out the defensive back and made the big catch to set up a game-winning touchdown run from Elijhaa Penny. Watson finished the season with 42 catches for 551 yards and seven touchdowns.
Michael Thomas – Southern Mississippi
Michael Thomas had a huge game on Saturday to help Southern Mississippi clinch the Conference USA West division. The senior wideout hauled in seven passes for 162 yards and made an Odell Beckham-like one-handed touchdown catch.
Thomas showed off his awesome leaping ability and body control and still managed to touch his right foot inbounds, all while maintaining possession all the way to the turf. Thomas' acrobatic catch came on a third-and-goal play in the second quarter and extended the Golden Eagles' lead to 21-3.
Tre’Quan Smith – UCF
UCF didn't win a single game this season, but the program found an impressive playmaker in redshirt freshman Tre'Quan Smith. Smith has been a huge bright spot for the Knights, and had another great game Thursday night against South Florida. Among his seven catches for 102 yards was this great individual effort. Smith had to leap to bring in this pass from Justin Holman. As the ball hit his hands, he was upended by a USF defender.
Smith did almost a full front flip after taking the hit, yet he still managed to hang on to the ball. That's not easy.
Cortez Lewis – Wake Forest
Like Tre'Quan Smith for UCF, Cortez Lewis has been a nice bright spot as a freshman for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons lost their sixth straight game Saturday against Duke to finish 3-9, but Lewis made a big play to hype up the fans at BB&T Field. Lewis had an awesome one-handed touchdown catch late in the game to cut Duke's lead to six points.
Lewis managed to work his way through tight coverage from Duke's DeVon Edwards, locate the ball and bring it in with his left hand while staying inbounds. That's an extremely impressive play.
Vote for your favorite catch in the poll below:
- - - - - - -
Before the final Friday night Syracuse team meeting of the season, recently fired Orange head coach Scott Shafer could not face his players. It would be too hard. Too emotional.
Instead of addressing the team, Shafer turned that duty over to his senior and gave fifth-year senior guard Rob Trudo, a team captain, a stack of papers. The pieces of paper were a letter from Shafer titled, “For The Love Of The Game.”
This Friday, though, Shafer didn't address the team. He couldn't. Around 7:30 p.m., he pulled redshirt senior guard Rob Trudo, a team captain, into an adjacent room and handed him a stack of papers.
"There's no f***ing way I'll be able to say this tonight without getting all emotional," Trudo recalls Shafer telling him. "I want the seniors to run the meeting."
Shafer hugged Trudo and cried on his shoulder for a moment. Then Trudo returned to the meeting room and waited for the rest of the team to file in.
"It changed my complete mood from relaxed and focused up to, 'OK, this is some serious s*** now,'" Trudo said. "You see Superman cry … you know what I mean?"
After the rest of the players filed into the meeting room, other seniors passed out copies of Shafer’s letter. Trudo then addressed the team.
"Look, I need 10 or 15 minutes for some serious s*** right here," Trudo announced, his mind unable to escape the thought of Shafer crying minutes earlier. "Shafer, whether you love him or you hate him, he dedicated the last seven years of his life to this community.
"The least you can do is show some respect in this meeting. Give me your silence and attention."
Trudo then began to read Shafer’s letter.
Via Syracuse.com, here is Shafer’s letter to the team, in full:
The next day, Syracuse finished out Shafer’s tenure on a positive note by beating Boston College 20-17 on a 35-yard field goal by Cole Murphy as time expired.
Trudo and fellow senior lineman Nick Robinson then carried Shafer off the field on their shoulders.
Shafer was emotional in his postgame press conference.
The Orange finished the season with a 4-8 record. In three seasons as head coach, Shafer, who previously served as Syracuse's defensive coordinator under Doug Marrone from 2009-2012, had a 14-23 overall record.
For more Syracuse news, visit CuseConfidential.com.
- - - - - - -
Bowling Green coach Dino Babers said Monday he has no intention of leaving Bowling Green despite rumors that linked him to the job opening at Central Florida.
Babers' full quote, "I have not signed anything. I am not going anywhere, OK. I have no secret deals, no above deals, no verbal deals."— Thomas Schmeltz (@Thomas_Schmeltz) November 30, 2015
"I will not lie to my guys. And they know that when I tell them something it's gospel. So everybody else can speculate..."— Thomas Schmeltz (@Thomas_Schmeltz) November 30, 2015
"But when I talked to senior leadership and when I talked to those young men last night and I told them why I told them, the story was done"— Thomas Schmeltz (@Thomas_Schmeltz) November 30, 2015
247Sports.com reported Sunday night that Central Florida was expected to hire Babers. However, that report was quickly refuted by other outlets and Babers himself, who sent a text to the Toledo Blade claiming the rumors were false.
Monday, Grant Heston, UCF vice president for communications and marketing, tweeted that UCF had not yet secured a new coach to replace George O’Leary.
Babers was adamant during his press conference Monday that his only focus was on Bowling Green and the Mid-American Conference title game on Friday. He said he wanted to set the record straight because the rumors were inaccurate and he didn’t want it to affect his team.
"I've turned down jobs because I want to play in the MAC championship game. I've lost jobs because I want to play in the MAC championship."— Thomas Schmeltz (@Thomas_Schmeltz) November 30, 2015
- - - - - - -
After playing what was likely his final game at Rice, senior running back Luke Turner took a moment to reflect on his time with the Owls.
While addressing the media, Turner was brought to tears when expressing his gratitude to Rice head coach David Bailiff. Turner suffered a broken leg as a high school senior and Rice was the only Division I school to offer him a scholarship.
“Everyone sold me off, but that man right there stuck with me,” Turner said while pointing at Bailiff. “I love him forever for it.”
Watch his full comments, which ended with an embrace with Bailiff, below:
Turner has been a versatile player for Rice during his four seasons with the program, finishing with 503 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing, 18 catches for 244 yards and three touchdowns receiving and 158 yards and five touchdowns as a passer. He’s also been a valuable asset on special teams.
Rice’s win over Charlotte on Saturday improved the team’s record to 5-7 on the season. Though the Owls have only five wins, they could still potentially earn an invitation to a bowl game.
Only 75 teams have reached six wins so far this season. With 80 bowl slots to fill and the possibility of only three more teams (Kansas State, South Alabama and Georgia State) reaching six wins, five-win teams will likely fill the remaining spots.
Various reports indicate that the NCAA could fill the void with teams by their APR. Among five-win teams, Rice, with its APR of 973, is tied with Illinois for the fourth-highest APR behind Nebraska (985), Missouri (976) and San Jose State and Minnesota (975 each).
So Turner may get the chance to wear his Rice uniform and play for Bailiff one last time.
The Owls have played in bowl games in each of Turner’s first three seasons with the program, winning the Armed Forces and Hawaii bowls and losing the Liberty Bowl.
For more Rice news, visit OwlsInsider.com.
- - - - - - -
USC has hired interim coach Clay Helton to be the team’s permanent head coach, the school confirmed Monday.
"Clay was not hired because his team defeated UCLA Saturday. He was not hired because many current and former players voiced their support for him. And he was not hired because he is a Trojan. He is our choice because we believe he can win Pac-12 and national championships here. Clay Helton is the right man at the right time for the USC football program."
Helton took over for Steve Sarkisian in October and has gone 5-2 in the seven games since. The Trojans rebounded from 3-2 start to finish the season as the Pac-12 South champion. It will play Stanford in the title game on Saturday.
Players had been championing Helton for the job for weeks and while Pat Haden had been mum on his coaching search — there were rumors he was courting Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles — it was clear the players' calls for Helton did not fall on deaf ears.
"We want Coach Helton, plain and simple, we don't need to meet with Pat Haden, he knows we want Coach Helton, the way he's got this team back together … everybody on this team would give an arm and a leg for Coach Helton," linebacker Su'a Cravens told the L.A. Times. "Now we take it personally, Helton's job being on the line is making us fight even harder."
Perhaps Helton’s biggest selling point was last week’s 40-21 win over UCLA, the Trojans’ first win against their rivals in four seasons.
Helton has served two interim head coaching stints with the Trojans and is 6-2 overall. His only two losses are to Notre Dame and an Oregon team that is playing as well as any program in the country.
USC has not yet announced the specifics of Helton deal.
For more USC news, visit TrojanSports.com.
- - - - - - -
If Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd was unsure about whether he would leave school early to declare for the NFL Draft, the school helped him reach a decision on Sunday.
After the school announced it was moving on from longtime head coach Mark Richt, Floyd told reporters he was following Richt out the door.
Leonard Floyd may have been turning pro anyway, but the news on Sunday hastened his departure.
Floyd, a junior outside linebacker and NFL prospect, was in a car leaving the athletic building’s parking lot on Sunday night when he yelled this out:
“I’m gone too, by the way!”
Floyd, a junior, then took to Twitter to share the same sentiment: he’s leaving Athens.
I'm leaving— L8F4➰➰ (@Floyd_XXXking) November 30, 2015
Coach Richt probably was the only one that could of convinced me to stay just a sad day for me as a Dawg— L8F4➰➰ (@Floyd_XXXking) November 30, 2015
Floyd led the Bulldogs with 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this season and was second in total tackles with 68.
The 6-foot-4, 231-pound Floyd also totaled 55 tackles, six sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in 2014 and 55 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in 2013.
Georgia finished the regular season at 9-3 following Saturday’s 13-7 win over Georgia Tech.
For more Georgia news, visit UGASports.com.
- - - - - - -
Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys has made some changes to his offensive staff.
Claeys, who was named the Gophers’ permanent head coach earlier this month, announced Sunday that offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and passing game coordinator Jim Zebrowski will “not have their contracts renewed.”
“Matt and Jim are both terrific people and coaches, but I have decided to make a change that will better fit my offensive philosophy, which is to have one coordinator calling the plays,” Claeys said in a statement. “They have been great representatives for the university and always put our student-athletes first, and I thank them for their contributions to our program and wish them well in the future.”
According to the Star-Tribune, Claeys informed the team of his decision during a meeting on Sunday evening.
Claeys was Minnesota’s defensive coordinator under Jerry Kill until Kill resigned on Oct. 28 because of health reasons. Claeys first took over as head coach on an interim basis but had the interim tag lifted on Nov. 11.
Claeys had been a defensive coordinator under Kill for 21 years at five different programs. Limegrover, who also coached the offensive line, had been with the two for much of the way, joining Kill’s staff at Division-II Emporia State in 1999.
Zebrowski was first hired by Kill when he was the head coach at Northern Illinois in 2010. He then joined the Gophers staff when UM hired Kill in 2011.
Minnesota, which finished the season at 5-7 after losing to Wisconsin on Saturday, was No. 103 out of 127 FBS teams in total offense (357.1 yards per game) and No. 104 nationally in scoring offense (22.6 points per game).
For more Minnesota news, GopherIllustrated.com.
- - - - - - -
Numbers and statistics are a huge part of college football. Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated, but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.
Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:
4: 200-Yard Rushing Performances by Alabama RB Derrick Henry in 2015
Alabama running back Derrick Henry added to his commanding lead in the Heisman race with a huge performance in Saturday’s 29-13 win over Auburn. A heavy workload (46 carries) was no problem for the junior, as he gashed the Tigers for 271 yards and one touchdown. Henry has rushed for at least 204 yards in each of Alabama’s last three SEC games and has four 200-yard games this year. The four 200-yard games tied Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Auburn’s Bo Jackson for the most in a season in SEC history.
4-0: Urban Meyer’s Record as Ohio State’s Head Coach Against Michigan
A week after losing to Michigan State in disappointing fashion, Ohio State took some of its frustration out on rival Michigan. The Buckeyes won 42-13 over the Wolverines on Saturday, improving coach Urban Meyer’s record to 4-0 against Michigan as the team’s head coach. In addition to Meyer’s 4-0 record against the Wolverines, the 29-point margin of victory is the third-largest total for Ohio State in Ann Arbor.
12-0: Clemson and Iowa Reach 12-0 After Wins in Week 13
Clemson and Iowa are the only remaining unbeaten teams in college football going into the final week of the regular season. With a 37-32 victory over South Carolina on Saturday, the Tigers improved to 12-0 and tied the school record for most wins in a season. For the Hawkeyes, Friday’s win over Nebraska moved coach Kirk Ferentz’s team to 12-0 for the first time in school history. The 12 wins are also the most in school history for Iowa.
37: Starters Used by Notre Dame in 2015
It’s no secret Notre Dame has been hit hard by injuries this year. Starting quarterback Malik Zaire, running back Tarean Folston, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and defensive tackle Jarron Jones are just a few of the players lost due to injury for the Fighting Irish this season. According to Notre Dame’s postgame notes following Saturday night’s loss at Stanford, coach Brian Kelly’s team has used 37 different starters this season. Considering how many starters this team has used, along with the loss of several key players due to injury, Brian Kelly should be in the mix for coach of the year honors after guiding this team to a 10-2 regular season.
23: Virginia Tech’s Bowl Streak Extends to 23 After Win Over Virginia
Virginia Tech’s 23-20 win over rival Virginia ensured long-time coach Frank Beamer would have one more game with the Hokies. Beamer announced his retirement in early November and entered Saturday’s game needing a win over the Cavaliers to extend a streak of 22 consecutive bowl appearances. The Hokies did just that, using a late field goal to take a 23-20 edge with less than two minutes remaining, followed by a defensive stand on Virginia’s final offensive drive to earn their sixth victory. The last time Virginia Tech did not play in a postseason game was in 1992.
4,000+/40+: WKU QB Brandon Doughty Again Throws for 4,000+ Yards and 40+ TDs
WKU’s Brandon Doughty is one of the nation’s most prolific quarterbacks, and the senior made history in Friday’s win over Marshall. In addition to helping the Hilltoppers clinch the Conference USA East Division title, Doughty threw for 370 yards and five passing touchdowns. The 370 passing yards pushed Doughty to 4,184 for the season, while the five touchdown tosses elevated his season total to 42. Doughty is just the third quarterback in FBS history to post consecutive seasons of at least 4,000 passing yards and 40 passing scores.
62: Baylor’s Passing Yardage Against TCU
Baylor’s late-November matchup at TCU was pegged as one of the best games of the college football season in August. However, due to injuries and losses by both teams, this matchup lost some of its appeal. And thanks to awful weather conditions, the offensive shootout most expected turned into a defensive struggle. Neither team had much success throwing the ball, as TCU ended with 148 yards on 18 completions and Baylor finished with 62 yards on seven completions. The 62 passing yards by Baylor was easily the lowest total under coach Art Briles and the fewest in a game since 2002 against New Mexico.
11-1: Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher’s Record Against Miami and Florida
Winning rivalry games is essential for the long-term outlook at a program for any coach. That’s especially true in the state of Florida with the bragging rights between the big three programs – Miami, Florida State and Florida – along with the recruiting trail battles. Since taking over Florida State in 2010, Jimbo Fisher has guided the Seminoles to an 11-1 mark against Miami and Florida. Additionally, Saturday night’s win over the Gators gave Florida State its fourth consecutive season of at least 10 wins.
7: TDs Thrown by Memphis QB Paxton Lynch in the First Half Against SMU
Memphis finished a solid 9-3 season with an easy 63-0 win over SMU on Saturday. The Tigers scored 56 of those 63 points in the first half, as quarterback Paxton Lynch threw seven touchdown passes in the first two quarters. Lynch’s seven touchdown tosses tied a FBS record for the most in a half. The junior ended the day with just nine completions on 14 attempts for 222 yards and seven scores.
2: Teams That Finished 2015 Without a Win
It’s going to be a long offseason at UCF and Kansas. The Knights and Jayhawks finished 2015 with a zero in the win column and an 0-12 mark overall. Both programs are in the midst of change, as David Beaty completed his first season at Kansas in 2015, and UCF is looking for a new coach after George O’Leary retired during the season.
More from Athlon Sports:
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell will have two new coordinators in 2016.
The school announced Sunday that it parted ways with defensive coordinator Greg Hudson, offensive coordinator John Shoop and defensive tackles coach Rubin Carter.
"I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years," coach Darrell Hazell said in a statement. "They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn't work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions."
Purdue was 2-10 in 2015. The Boilermakers gave up over 36 points per game and allowed 214 rushing yards per game. The offense wasn't much better. It was 94th in total offense and averaged 4.8 yards per play. Purdue quarterbacks Austin Appleby and David Blough split time throughout the season and each started a Boilermakers win.
It'll be interesting to see if Hazell considers promoting from within, possibly needing to dangle the coordinator carrot to keep coveted linebackers coach Marcus Freeman and already having an assistant on staff (Terry Malone) who has coordinator experience in the Big Ten. Also, up-and-coming receivers coach (and recruiting coordinator) Gerad Parker was a "passing game coordinator" for three seasons at UT-Martin.
Hazell is returning to the team in 2016 despite having a 6-30 record in his three seasons as the team's coach. The school is in the process of a $60 million upgrade to its football facilities and hasn't been to a bowl game since the Heart of Dallas Bowl in the season before Hazell became the coach.
For more Purdue news, visit GoldandBlack.com.
- - - - - - -
Another Saturday coaching report became official on Sunday as Iowa State announced the hiring of Toledo's Matt Campbell.
Campbell succeeds Paul Rhoads as the Cyclones coach. Toledo beat the Cyclones in Week 2 in 2015.
“I couldn’t be more excited to receive the opportunity to coach at Iowa State,” Campbell said in a team statement. “Two years ago after we played the Cyclones in Ames, I called my wife (Erica) and said you simply would not believe this place. Their fans, the game-day environment and facilities are all incredible. I could see us living in Ames and me coaching the Cyclones some day. My family and I are truly humbled.”
Toledo finished the 2015 regular season 9-2. The Rockets were in line to go to the MAC Championship Game but saw the opportunity slip away with a loss to Western Michigan on Friday.
Iowa State finished the season 3-9 after a 30-6 loss to West Virginia on Saturday. The Cyclones had conference wins over Texas and Kansas, the first winless Power Five conference team since 2008. Rhoads' dismissal was announced after the Cyclones blew a 35-14 lead to Kansas State and fell 38-35 to the Wildcats.
“Matt’s coaching and playing achievements are extraordinary, but we were even more impressed by his character, leadership and commitment to his family,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said. “I could not be more excited to welcome Matt, Erica and their children to the Cyclone Family. We are truly blessed to have one of the industry’s rising stars leading our football program.”
Campbell is 35-15 in his four seasons at Toledo. He turned 35 on Sunday.
For more Iowa State news, visit CycloneReport.com.
- - - - - - -
Virginia Tech announced the hiring of Justin Fuente on Sunday.
News broke Saturday that the Hokies were planning to hire the Memphis coach to replace Frank Beamer, who is retiring at the end of the season. Tech released a statement Sunday confirming the news.
We are thrilled to welcome Justin, Jenny and their three daughters into our Virginia Tech family,” Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a statement. “We identified Coach Fuente as a top candidate early in our process. As our conversations progressed, we then met in person and it became obvious he is the right person to lead our football program. He possesses wisdom beyond his years, as well as a refreshing sense of humility and a calm confidence.
“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”
Memphis is 9-3 in 2015 and was 10-3 in 2014. Virginia Tech continued its bowl streak with a win on Saturday against Virginia. It's the 23rd-straight season the Hokies are heading to a bowl game.
The school also confirmed that defensive coordinator Bud Foster would return in his same capacity. Foster has been the Hokies' longtime defensive coach.
“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”
Beamer is expected to coach the Hokies' bowl game for his final career game. He has a record of 237-121-1 and is the winningest active coach in FBS college football.
For more Virginia Tech news, visit HokieHaven.com.
- - - - - - -
Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will play at a different school in 2016. The QB said Sunday he would switch teams for his fifth year of eligibility.
I would like to thank the University of Kentucky for giving me the opportunity to achieve my childhood dream of playing quarterback for the WildCats. The last four years have been ones that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. Although I wish my time here in Lexington could have ended another way, I'm eternally grateful. I've decided to transfer to play my fifth year at another university. Thank you to Coach Stoops, Coach Dawson, Mitch Barnhart, my teammates, the Big Blue Nation and the entire Kentucky Athletics Department for allowing me to achieve my lifelong dream. I will truly bleed blue til the day I die.
Towles, a redshirt junior, played most of the 2015 season as Kentucky's starter. He was 183-326 passing for 2,148 yards, nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Drew Barker started the Wildcats' final two games of the season.
Kentucky, 5-7, could have gotten bowl eligibility with a win on Saturday against Louisville. Instead, the Wildcats squandered a 21-0 lead and lost 38-24 to the Cardinals. Barker was 6-22 passing for 128 yards while Towles was 3-4 passing for 71 yards and an interception.
For more Kentucky news, visit CatsIllustrated.com.
- - - - - - -
The revolving door of No. 3 teams continued in the post-Week 13 AP poll.
Oklahoma moved up to No. 3 after drubbing Oklahoma State Saturday night. The Sooners leapfrogged Iowa, who fell to No. 4 after beating Nebraska. The move is more about the Sooners and less about the Hawkeyes. Oklahoma has beaten Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State in November and is likely heading to the College Football Playoff.
Clemson stayed at No. 1 with its win over South Carolina and Alabama is at No. 2 again after beating Auburn.
Iowa is followed by two Big Ten teams in the poll. Michigan State is at No. 5 and Ohio State is at No. 6. The Spartans beat Penn State and Ohio State beat Michigan.
Stanford is at No. 7, North Carolina is at No. 8, Notre Dame is at No. 9 and Florida State is at No. 10.
Here's the entire AP poll:
1. Clemson [53 first place votes] (1)
2. Alabama  (2)
3. Oklahoma (5)
4. Iowa (3)
5. Michigan State (6)
6. Ohio State (8)
7. Stanford (13)
8. North Carolina (11)
9. Notre Dame (4)
10. Florida State (14)
11. TCU (15)
12. Baylor (7)
13. Northewestern (17)
14. Oklahoma State (9)
15. Oregon (18)
16. Ole Miss (19)
17. Houston (21)
18. Florida (10)
19. Michigan (12)
20. Temple (25)
21. Utah (26)
22. Navy (16)
23. LSU (NR)
24. USC (NR)
25. Wisconsin (NR)
- - - - - - -
Rutgers has fired head coach Kyle Flood and athletic director Julie Hermann, school president Robert Barchi announced Sunday.
In a letter addressed to the "Rutgers Community," Barchi said the athletic department needs a "fresh start."
"Today is a day of change for our Department of Athletics," Barchi wrote per NJ.com. "This afternoon, I spoke with Head Football Coach Kyle Flood and met with Director of Athletics Julie Hermann and informed them that I was exercising the university's right to terminate their contracts without cause and that I am relieving them of their duties effective immediately."
Flood just finished his fourth season leading the Scarlet Knights with a 46-41 loss to Maryland at home on Saturday. Rutgers lost to the Terps after blowing a 31-13 halftime lead. The loss gave the team a 4-8 record this season and Flood a 27-24 overall record.
Flood led the Scarlet Knights to bowl games in his first three seasons with the program (winning one), but the 2015 campaign was filled with off-the-field incidents.
Flood was suspended for three games and fined $50,000 after a university investigation determined that he had improper contact with a Rutgers faculty member concerning the grade of cornerback Nadir Barnwell.
On top of that, several Rutgers players were dismissed or suspended for various off-the-field incidents, including a home-invasion, an on-campus assault and an alleged incident of domestic violence involving star receiver Leonte Carroo (charges were later dropped and Carroo was reinstated to the team).
In all, seven Rutgers player were arrested this season.
"Kyle Flood has been a loyal and dedicated member of our community for more than a decade and our head football coach for four seasons, during which his teams won 26 games and played in three bowl games," Barchi wrote. "However, our continued struggles on the field combined with several off the field issues have convinced me that we need new leadership of our football program. I want to thank Kyle for his service to Rutgers and I also wish him and his family well in his next endeavor."
Running backs coach Norries Wilson will serve as the team's interim head coach to "lead the offseason program until a new head coach is hired," Barchi said.
Hermann was informed of the decision of her ouster when she met with Barchi on Sunday afternoon. Hermann’s “oversight over the football program,” was the main reason the university decided to part ways, according to NJ.com.
"Julie came to Rutgers in 2013, at a time when the program was in turmoil, with a vision at where she could take our Athletics Program. I believe, however, at this point, when major changes are being made in our football program, we need a fresh start," Barchi said. "Having reached that conclusion this past week, it would not have been fair to Julie, to Rutgers and our student athletes, or to potential football coaching candidates, for her to continue in her role. She is a capable administrator whose dedication and passion for Rutgers never waned and I wish her and her family all the best in the next step in her journey."
Hermann and Barchi met Sunday afternoon at Barchi’s home in Piscataway. From NJ.com:
Hermann met with Barchi at his Piscataway home neighboring the Rutgers practice fields on Sunday afternoon. Richard Edwards, chancellor of Rutgers-New Brunswick, who served as the co-chair of the committee that appointed Hermann as AD in May 2013, arrived at 12:10 p.m.
Hermann arrived at Barchi's home at 12:25 p.m. for the meeting. She left 11 minutes.
The Rutgers athletic department and football program have reportedly been under an internal investigation for “failed drug tests and other issues that could result in NCAA infractions and possible sanctions,” according to NJ.com.
Hermann’s tenure was full of controversy. After her hire, troubles from her tenure as women’s volleyball coach at Tennessee surfaced. Players accused Hermann of abusive tactics and an assistant coach said Hermann discouraged her from getting pregnant.
Additionally, after a Rutgers football player quit the team and accused an assistant of bullying, Hermann said she spoke twice with the player’s parents. The player’s father said those conversations never took place.
Other incidents with Hermann included her telling a Rutgers journalism class that it would be “great” if the Newark Star-Ledger went out of business. She also was accused of making a joke about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal during a staff meeting.
Hermann arrived at Rutgers in May 2013 (amidst the scandal involving men's basketball coach Mike Rice) after spending 16 years in the athletic department at Louisville.
With Hermann out of the picture, Rutgers and Barchi moved quickly to find her replacement: Patrick Hobbs, Dean Emeritus of the Seton Hall University School of Law. Hobbs served as the interim athletic director at Seton Hall from 2009-2011 and was offered the job on Friday -- two days before Hermann was fired.
"In my meetings and conversations with Pat, and also with Board Members Greg Brown and Ken Schmidt, it was clear to all of us that Pat had the attributes required for our next Director of Athletics," said Barchi "We offered Pat the permanent job on Friday and we are proud to welcome him as our new Director of Athletics."
Barchi said the search for a new head football coach will begin "immediately."
For more Rutgers news, visit ScarletNation.com.
- - - - - - -
Penn State offensive coordinator and tight ends coach John Donovan has been fired, the school announced Sunday.
Donovan had been a member of coach James Franklin’s staff for five seasons, including three at Vanderbilt, but came under fire this year after the Nittany Lions' offense ranked 82nd in the nation in passing, 106th in rushing and 108th nationally in total offense.
The Nittany Lions averaged 23.7 points per game this season, which ranked 101st nationally.
Donovan is the first Penn State assistant Franklin has let go in his two seasons with the program.
Penn State ended the regular season with a 55-16 loss to Michigan State. The Nittany Lions finished 7-5.
For more Penn State news, visit BlueWhiteIllustrated.com.
- - - - - - -
Georgia has fired coach Mark Richt, according to various reports.
ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach was the first to report the move.
Georgia will hold a press conference on Monday.
Richt was 145-51 in 15 seasons with the Bulldogs, including a 9-3 record this year. The Bulldogs defeated Georgia Tech on Saturday to end the regular season.
Richt won two SEC titles at Georgia, but the last came in 2005. Georgia hasn’t played for an SEC title since 2012. However, Richt has only had one season where he’s finished with fewer than eight wins (6-7 in 2010).
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity issued a statement Sunday thanking Richt for his service and offering him a chance to stay at the university in a lesser role.
Mark has the opportunity to remain on our staff at the University of Georgia, and would be heavily involved with outreach programs for our former football lettermen via the PO Network as well as other University and Athletic Association initiatives.
Rumors of Richt’s firing have been floating around all season, but many believed after a 9-3 campaign that included three straight wins to end the season, Richt would survive for at least another year. However, Georgia was under a bit of pressure to make a move, especially with Florida getting better in the first year under a new coach and other fellow SEC East opponents Missouri and South Carolina looking for new leadership as well.
Also, Richt’s 5-10 record against rival Florida has been a major sticking point with boosters and fans.
Georgia now enters a crowded coaching market with few high-level candidates. One would have to believe it at least had some feelers before putting Richt out otherwise this would be a stupid move. Similarly, Richt is going to have a lot of suitors calling, including some within his own former division. Don’t be surprised if Missouri and South Carolina both gauge Richt’s interest and Virginia also could be a potential fit.
For more Georgia news, visit UGASports.com.
- - - - - - -
The Mike London Era at Virginia is over.
Athletic director Craig Littlepage announced London’s resignation Sunday morning after meeting with the coach to discuss the future of the program. London is 27-46 as the head coach of the Cavaliers, including Saturday’s 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech, the 12th consecutive time the Cavaliers have lost to their in-state rivals.
"Mike London has been an outstanding representative of the University of Virginia,” Littlepage said in a statement. “During his tenure, Mike created a positive culture for our student-athletes to develop as young men, who improved each year in the classroom and represented us very well in the community. Mike was a tremendous mentor for his players and many of our coaches. His ability to inspire others helped our program establish great relationships among the high school football coaches in the state and he has been a tremendous ambassador for the University. We are thankful for Mike’s numerous contributions representing the University and Virginia athletics.”
London was named Al Groh’s replacement on Dec. 7, 2009, a year after winning a national title at the University of Richmond. However, that success was never able to translate to the FBS level. Virginia attended one bowl game under London — the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
London’s contract was set to expire following the 2016 season. The University will pay him approximately $2.7 million through 2016.
For more Virginia news, visit CavsCorner.com.
- - - - - - -
Toledo coach Matt Campbell is reportedly heading to Iowa State.
Per the Toledo Blade, Campbell accepted an offer to be the Cyclones' new head coach late Saturday night. Campbell would succeed Paul Rhoads as Iowa State's coach. Rhoads coached his final game with the Cyclones on Saturday in a loss to West Virginia.
Toledo had offered to make Campbell the highest-paid coach in the MAC.
“We think very highly of Matt Campbell and have made him a very generous offer to keep him as our head football coach,” O'Brien said in a text message.
The Rockets' offer was for more than $800,000 in total, a different source said, but ISU's offer "significantly" trumped Toledo's.
Iowa State will pay Campbell's $200,000 buyout, and the Rockets will begin the evaluation process for a new coach immediately.
Sports Illustrated had previously reported that a deal between Campbell and ISU could be consummated over the weekend. Campbell was considered a possible candidate at Missouri. The Tigers are looking for a new coach after the retirement of Gary Pinkel.
Toledo beat Iowa State 30-23 in Week 2.
Campbell, 36, is 35-15 as Toledo's head coach. He succeeded Tim Beckman after the former Illinois coach headed to the Big Ten and has led the Rockets to three nine-win seasons. The Rockets, 9-2 in 2015, lost to Western Michigan on Friday to lose a shot at the MAC West title and a rematch with Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game.
- - - - - - -
Oklahoma is the Big 12 champion and perhaps the first team to lock up a spot in this year’s College Football Playoff.
Oklahoma defeated rival Oklahoma State 58-23 in what ultimately became the de facto Big 12 title game in the final regular season contest for both teams.
However, Oklahoma had the most to lose since it had climbed to No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings and a loss to the Cowboys would not only have eliminated the Sooners from playoff contention, but probably eliminated the Big 12 as whole.
But Oklahoma left no doubt with a dominating performance against an Oklahoma State team that was undefeated up until a week ago. After falling behind 10-7, the Sooners scored on back-to-back runs of 68 and 66 yards by backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon to open up the game early in the second quarter and finished the first half with a 44-20 lead.
While Oklahoma State came out of the halftime fired up, all it was able to muster was field goal. Quarterback J.W. Walsh, who played in place of Mason Rudolph, was under pressure all night by the Oklahoma defense. He completed just 25 of 42 passes for 325 yards and two scores, but all of his damage was done early while the Sooners were adjusting to facing him instead of Rudolph, who sat out with an injury.
Once the Sooners started to understand the type of offense they were facing, Walsh became ineffective. Most of his passing yards came on underthrown passes that were misjudged by Oklahoma defenders. The Oklahoma State running game mustered just 132 yards against the Sooners stingy front four.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield continued his quest for a spot at the Heisman ceremony in New York by completing 17 of 25 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 77 yards and a score.
With rainy and slick weather, Oklahoma did most of its offensive damage on the ground against a tired Oklahoma State defense. Mixon had 136 yards and two scores and Perine added 131 yards and two scores.
The only thing left for Oklahoma to now do is wait. It seems implausible — especially with several key teams losing on Saturday — that the Sooners would fall out of the College Football Playoff. Next week’s championship games, however, will determine where the Sooners are ultimately seeded.
For more Oklahoma news, visit SoonerScoop.com.
For more Oklahoma State news, visit OStateIllustrated.com.
- - - - - - -
And then there were six. We think.
Thanks to Week 13 losses from Baylor and Notre Dame, it looks like the College Football Committee will be able to whittle its focus down to six contenders for the four-team playoff: Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Iowa, Michigan State and Stanford.
The committee’s top four teams from last week all took care of business this weekend, but Clemson, Alabama and Iowa can still slip up in their respective conference title games.
The lack of a league title game was a huge disadvantage to the Big 12 last year as Baylor and TCU ended up on the outside looking in. This time around, Oklahoma wrapping up the league with a convincing win over Oklahoma State on Saturday night appears to be a boon for third-ranked Sooners’ chances of making the playoff.
In the ACC and SEC, No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama will both be favorites in their conference championship games.
The top-ranked Tigers, who stayed undefeated Saturday with a 37-32 win over rival South Carolina in the Palmetto Bowl, now have a win-and-in scenario. No. 14 North Carolina (11-1) awaits the Tigers to decide the ACC. Clemson needs to step its game up to handle the Tar Heels, who are riding an 11-game winning streak.
Meanwhile, Alabama, which disposed of Auburn 29-13 in the Iron Bowl, will square off with offensively challenged Florida team in Atlanta. The No. 12 Gators were throttled 27-2 by No. 13 Florida State on Saturday night. The Tide should take care of business and lock up a playoff spot.
Following wins over Nebraska and Penn State respectively, No. 4 Iowa (12-0) and No. 5 Michigan State (11-1) will square off in a Big Ten title game that essentially is a College Football Playoff quarterfinal game: win and you’re in the final four.
Despite its undefeated record, there’s no way Iowa loses to MSU and cracks the top four – its schedule is just too weak. The same goes for the Spartans even though they may have the most impressive collection of wins (Oregon, Michigan and Ohio State) in the country. This one is a must-win. It makes things easier on the committee, too.
Losses from No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 7 Baylor further cleared things up for the committee. Baylor dropped out of the playoff by losing No. 19 TCU 28-21 in double overtime on a rainy, cold night in Fort Worth.
Saturday night’s Notre Dame at Stanford game lived up to its billing as a playoff elimination game. The sixth-ranked Irish came up on the wrong end as Stanford’s Conrad Ukropina drilled a 46-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cardinal a 38-36 win.
Notre Dame’s two losses (Clemson and Stanford) are to two of the country’s best teams, but the Irish’s lack of a signature win will be too much to overcome. The team’s lackluster play in recent weeks – especially a sluggish 19-16 win over lowly Boston College that dropped the Irish from No. 4 to No. 6 – will also come into play.
And though the Cardinal need help, Stanford still has a sliver of hope as it heads into the Pac-12 title game against USC. But with it looking like Oklahoma and the winner of the Big Ten title having a spot sealed up, Stanford likely needs losses from both Alabama and Clemson to sneak into the top four.
Crazier things have happened. Here are the rest of Week 13's winners and losers.
Ty Summers, TCU: For a year, the Horned Frogs stewed over 61-58. Head coach Gary Patterson fixated on beating Baylor and his personal nemesis Art Briles. TCU hoped for a big year, one ending somewhere in the College Football Playoff thanks to a springboard victory over the Bears. None of it went according to plan, and when the two teams finally met on Friday, most of the stars were on the sidelines or not playing at 100 percent, and a torrential, chilly downpour mired the respective offenses in a sloppy slugfest hardly reminiscent of that 2014 shootout. But on the final play, it was Ty Summers, a two-star recruit and former high school quarterback – a Patterson Special, if you will – who slipped by the Baylor offensive line to bring down Devin Chafin short of a first down. It was his 23rd tackle of the game, a school record, and the play that sealed redemption. He’ll probably remember this one.
Marquis Young, UMass: Hey, if it’s your last game of the year, you might as well play like it. Young ran all over Buffalo in a game Buffalo needed to win to get to bowl eligibility (but more on that later), racking up 240 yards and three scores. A stunning 215 of those yards came in the first half. It was a pretty sharp performance for the freshman, his best of the season, and something to build off of in 2016.
Brandon Doughty, WKU: The Hilltoppers’ senior quarterback had a huge day in a 49-28 win over Marshall. He threw for 370 yards and five touchdowns, but perhaps more significantly, put himself in the FBS record books, becoming the first quarterback to have consecutive seasons with 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns passing (he’s at 4,214 yards and 42 touchdowns thus far in 2015).
He'll add to those numbers in two more games this season too. WKU plays Southern Miss in the Conference USA title game on Saturday before it learns its bowl destination.
Brian Hill, Wyoming: Hill had 35 carries for 232 yards in the Cowboys' 35-28 win over UNLV. It was his fourth 200-yard game of the season, and temporarily put him in the lead for most 200-yard games of anyone in 2015.
Alabama RB Derrick Henry tied Hill later in the day with his fourth 200-yard game, but Hill's efforts have been a bright spot in a 2-10 season for Wyoming. Hill, a sophomore, finishes the season with 1,631 yards rushing and will be a sleeper candidate for preseason All-American honors in 2016.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: Beamer's bowl streak is continuing. With the Hokies' win over Virginia on Saturday, Beamer's team is heading to a 23rd-straight bowl game. The bowl game is a fitting sendoff for the legendary coach, who is retiring after the season.
It was also a victory for members of his staff, too. During the win, reports emerged that Memphis coach Justin Fuente would succeed Beamer as Hokies' head coach. Those reports also said defensive coordinator Bud Foster and assistant coach Shane Beamer, Frank's son, would remain with the team. The continuity should serve Virginia Tech well.
Rutgers: Let us paint you a picture. Rutgers and embattled coach Kyle Flood were leading Maryland 31-13 at halftime, en route to what surely appeared to be an easy win to close out a brutal, trying season. Then an extremely Rutgers thing happened: The Scarlet Knights surrendered 656 total yards and got outscored 33-10 in the second half to lose 46-41 at home. Just a complete disaster. Truly impressive.
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads got fired after his team gave up a huge lead to Kansas State the previous week. Will the same fate await Flood?
Buffalo: Lots of teams sitting at 5-6 heading into this weekend’s games lost, but most of them were underdogs. The Bulls struggled against a 3-8 UMass team, and while Buffalo’s run defense isn’t anything to get excited about (90th in FBS), it still has held opponents to 186 yards per game. As previously mentioned, Marquis Young and company ran for 295 yards. The Bulls had one fewer turnover, more time of possession, more first downs, and nearly the same number of total yards, and still found a way to lose.
Mississippi State: This was not the way to end Dak Prescott's career at home, Bulldogs. Mississippi State, well, laid an egg in the Egg Bowl. The Bulldogs were potentially playing for a New Year's Six bowl berth and fell down 21-0 to the Rebels before losing 38-23.
How did the Rebels do it? Well, they didn't let Prescott beat them deep. Prescott finished 31-of-42 passing for 254 yards, two scores and an interception. The win means Ole Miss finishes the season second in the SEC West while Mississippi State finishes in a tie with Texas A&M for fifth in the division.
Florida: Here's another team that absolutely lost any chance at a New Year's Six bowl. OK, OK, sure, Florida can get to one if it beats Alabama in the SEC championship game. But if you watched any of the Gators' 27-2 loss to Florida State on Saturday, you know there's no chance of that happening.
Florida's offense was impotent. The Gators averaged less than four yards per carry on the ground and just over four per pass. Yeah, not great. Meanwhile, the defense tried as much as it could, but there's only so much you can do when you play a losing game of time of possession and field position.
The Gators will likely finish the season 10-3. It's a good enough record for a top bowl, but not an elite one. And this team is clearly different with Treon Harris at quarterback than with Will Grier.
Kansas: Congratulations, Kansas. You're now infamous. The Jayhawks' 45-14 Sunflower Showdown loss to Kansas State on Saturday meant KU became the first Power 5 team since Washington in 2008 to go winless in an entire season.
The 0-12 Jayhawks were outscored 553-183 this season. If you don't want to do math, that's roughly an average of 46-15. Yuck. Things can only get better for Kansas and first-year coach David Beaty (we think) but we don't begrudge Kansas fans at all for mimicking the Jayhawk mascot.
Big Jay expressing how every KU fan feels right now pic.twitter.com/H5w3LNP3C4— Snyder's Windbreaker (@KSUWindbreaker) November 28, 2015
You can view the fan reaction during LSU's 19-7 win over Texas A&M as a tribute to Les Miles or a case for him to stay as the Tigers' coach.
It was likely both.
Before the game started, Miles was given a loud ovation.
As the Tigers had the game wrapped up, Miles was saluted by the crowd, which started chanting his name.
And then when the game was over, Miles was carried off the field.
Miles' future has been murky over the past two weeks. The win Saturday night snapped a three-game losing streak. Would he be the Tigers' coach moving forward? When asked about it after the game, he responded that he had "no idea."
If LSU administrators were paying attention on Saturday, they should have had a good idea of what to do. Athletic director Joe Alleva apparently was watching.
Alleva: "I want to make it very clear that Les Miles is our football coach and he'll continue to be our football coach." #LSU— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) November 29, 2015
Apparently Miles wasn't kidding when he said he didn't have any idea if he'd continue to be LSU's coach either.
Les Miles said he found out after the game that he'd continue to be #LSU's head coach.— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) November 29, 2015
If the school parted with Miles, it would owe him a $15 million buyout barring any negotiated settlement. The large number should've serve as a deterrent. And if it didn't, the fan reaction Saturday night was pretty strong.
When have you seen a team part with a successful coach so clearly revered by his fans and players? Star running back Leonard Fournette – who will be back for his junior season at LSU in 2016 – called Miles both a father and a brother following the game. A game in which he broke the LSU single-season rushing record.
But why did it take so long for Alleva to publicly support Miles? He hadn't said anything as reports about Miles' uncertain future multiplied. He could have put everything to rest with a simple statement a lot earlier. Instead, he waited until he knew he'd be cast as the bad guy by fans if he made the decision to cut Miles loose to say the coach was staying.
Was it an incredibly impressive performance against Texas A&M? No. But Fournette was a star, and LSU's defense held the Texas A&M offense to a sole touchdown. It was a fitting victory for a fourth-place finish in the SEC West and an 8-3 season. Sure, LSU has flaws, but so does nearly every other team in the country. And that includes Alabama, the team coached by Nick Saban, the man Miles will forever be compared against.
As of now, LSU has the No. 1 recruiting class in the country in 2016. With another season of quarterback Brandon Harris and Fournette, the offense should be better. If Harris improves as much as he did from 2014 to 2015, LSU may have legitimately competent quarterback play.
There are reasons to be optimistic as Miles continues to be the Tigers' coach. Did LSU have a good option if he didn't? Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher appeared to not be one. And were the Tigers convinced Chip Kelly would come to Baton Rouge if the Philadelphia Eagles let him go? Was there another candidate that no one is thinking of?
Sometimes the best plan is to stick with the one you already have. It appears LSU has realized that. And it's the right move.
For more LSU news, visit Tigerbait.com.
For more Texas A&M news, visit AggieYell.com.
- - - - - - -
As Notre Dame milked away the clock while it looked to take a lead over Stanford in the final minute, Cardinal head coach David Shaw curiously decided not to use his timeouts to give his offense more time.
The decision paid off.
After the Irish took a 36-35 lead with 30 seconds to go, Kevin Hogan and the Stanford offense quickly marched into Notre Dame territory – using all three of their timeouts in the process – to set up for a game-winning 46-yard field goal from Conrad Ukropina as time expired to give the Cardinal a dramatic 38-36 victory.
Ukropina’s clutch kick gave the No. 9 Cardinal its 10th win of the season and kept the team’s College Football Playoff hopes alive while simultaneously crushing No. 6 Notre Dame’s chances of reaching the final four.
While Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey got most of the hype coming into the game, it was Hogan – in his final game at Stanford Stadium – who stole the show. Hogan threw for 269 yards and four touchdowns while completing 17-of-21 throws. His favorite target was another senior, 6-foot-4 wideout Devon Cajuste, who put up a career-high 125 yards on five huge catches.
Hogan came out of the gates firing, and found Remound Wright for a 1-yard score to cap off Stanford’s first possession. Their first drive seemed effortless, but the Cardinal quickly found out that Notre Dame came to play as C.J. Sanders returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to tie things up.
Hogan went back to work on Stanford’s next drive. The Cardinal ate up another 7:24 off the clock and Hogan finished their drive by finding Cajuste for a 6-yard score.
The Notre Dame offense finally hit the field for the first time and quickly worked its way down the field, but it stalled inside the red zone. That would become a theme for the night for Notre Dame, as Justin Yoon hit what would be the first of his three chip-shot field goals of the game.
The Irish would settle for another Yoon field goal on its next drive. And instead of testing its red-zone offense again, Notre Dame opted for a big play instead when DeShone Kizer who found Will Fuller behind the Stanford defense for a 73-yard touchdown to give Notre Dame its first lead, 20-14, with 2:15 left in the half.
It looked like Notre Dame had all of the momentum, but Hogan and the Cardinal quickly responded. A 14-yard touchdown pass – Hogan’s third of the first half – to Michael Rector gave the Cardinal a 21-20 halftime lead.
Notre Dame put together another long drive to open up the second half, but came up short yet again as Yoon made a 29-yard FG to put the Irish back in front.
On the next three drives, the teams traded scores: a Remound Wright 1-yard run (28-23 Stanford), a 62-yard Josh Adams run (29-28 Notre Dame) and a Kevin Hogan 10-yard pass to Austin Hooper (35-29 Stanford) on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Both offenses then stalled (trading four punts) until Notre Dame then went on a very Stanford-like drive: 15 plays and 88 yards in 6:18 to take a 36-35 lead with 30 seconds to go. The score that put Notre Dame ahead – a two-yard Kizer run – was not without controversy. The play was ruled a touchdown on the field, but replay appeared to show Kizer’s knee hitting the turf just before the ball crossed the plane.
Nonetheless, the touchdown stood and Notre Dame was back in front.
That all set up for Ukropina’s heroics.
Notre Dame was flagged for a facemask penalty on the drive’s first play and then Hogan hit Cajuste for 27 yards, putting Stanford into Ukropina’s range.
The senior then calmly stepped up and drilled the game-winner right down the middle to keep the Cardinal’s playoff hopes alive.
Sure, Stanford will need to beat USC in the Pac-12 title game and hope for some chaos among the other top teams to reach the playoff, but there’s still a way to slide in thanks to Baylor's loss to TCU on Friday.
For Notre Dame, it’s a disappointing end to what was a remarkable season. The Irish overcame injuries to a bevy of star players, yet were in contention all the way to the end. A New Year’s Day bowl is certainly in the Irish’s future.
- - - - - - -
With bowl games in Orlando and Tucson added this season, there will be a record 41 bowl games played this season. That calls for 80 teams to fill all of those slots.
Coming into this weekend’s set of games, 71 teams already sealed bowl berths while 14 additional five-win teams had a chance to clinch bowl eligibility.
Only four teams – Washington, Tulsa, Indiana and Virginia Tech – were able to take advantage of that opportunity.
Here’s how it went down:
From Friday's games:
Nebraska (5-7): The Huskers hung tough with No. 4 Iowa, but were doomed by four interceptions from Tommy Armstrong in a 28-20 loss. Nebraska, at 5-7, still has a chance for postseason play. We’ll get to that later.
Washington (6-6): The Huskies blew out in-state rival Washington State (who played without starting quarterback Luke Falk) 45-10 in an impressive home win in the Apple Cup to improve to 6-6.
Missouri (5-7): In what was Missouri’s final regular season game under head coach Gary Pinkel, the Tigers failed to get much going offensively in a 28-3 loss to Arkansas in Fayetteville. Like Nebraska, Missouri dropped to 5-7, but still could find itself playing in the postseason.
San Jose State (5-7): The Spartans led the Broncos 10-9 at halftime, but could not keep the BSU offense out of the end zone for long. Boise scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to improve to 8-4 while SJSU dropped to 5-7.
Buffalo (5-7): This one was not good. The Bulls started the season 5-4 but dropped their final three games to miss out on a bowl. On Friday, Buffalo lost 31-26 at home to lowly UMass, who will finish with just three wins. UMass RB Marquis Young carved up the Buffalo D for 240 yards and three touchdowns. UB had most of the fourth quarter to take a lead, but could not move the ball whatsoever.
Tulsa (6-6): Tulsa looked like it would pull a Buffalo and blow its chance to reach six wins against three-win Tulane, but the Golden Hurricane scored three times in the final seven minutes – including two pick-sixes – to win 45-34.
From Saturday's games:
Kentucky (5-7): This one stings. The Wildcats stormed out to a 24-7 halftime lead over rival Louisville at home, but allowed the Cardinals to storm back in a big way. Louisville scored 31 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Wildcats 38-24. Kentucky could muster only 291 yards of offense in the loss. Not great.
East Carolina (5-7): East Carolina dropped a heartbreaker to Cincinnati when the Bearcats’ Andrew Gantz drilled a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give Cincy a win and spoil the bowl hopes of the Pirates.
Old Dominion (5-7): The Monarchs finished 6-6 in their first FBS season last year, but missed out on a bowl. With a bowl berth pretty much guaranteed with a win over Florida Atlantic, ODU laid an egg. FAU picked up just its third win of the year by beating ODU 33-31 in Norfolk. ODU actually came all the way back from a 24-3 deficit, but Owls kicker Greg Joseph hit a 29-yarder with 5:26 to go to pull out an upset win.
Virginia Tech (6-6): For the 23rd consecutive season, Virginia Tech will play in the postseason. In what was Frank Beamer’s final regular season game as Hokies head coach, Virginia Tech came from behind to beat in-state rival Virginia to win its sixth game of the season. Joey Slye’s 41-yard field goal with 1:38 to go was the deciding score in the 23-20 win.
Indiana (6-6): For the first time in the Kevin Wilson era, Indiana is headed to a bowl game. The Hoosiers used their high-powered offense to overwhelm Purdue, 54-36. The Hoosiers finished off the season with back-to-back road wins over Maryland and the Boilermakers to reach a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
Louisiana Lafayette (4-7): The Ragin’ Cajuns were clinging to life at 4-6 coming into Saturday’s game at Appalachian State, but had no answer against a nine-win App State team.
Illinois (5-7): On the same day the Illini named Bill Cubit it's full-time coach moving forward, Cubit's bunch couldn't overcome Northwestern at Soldier Field. Illinois scored first, but Northwestern controlled things for most of the game and cruised to a 24-14 win.
Minnesota (5-7): It's been a tough year for Minnesota with the resignation of head coach Jerry Kill due to health reasons, but the Gophers couldn't pull an upset in a rivalry game against Wisconsin that the Badgers won 31-21. The Gophers started the year 4-2, but dropped five of their last six to finish 5-7 and likely miss out on a bowl.
South Alabama (5-6): South Alabama was blown out 55-17 by Georgia Southern, but still have a chance to reach the six-win mark. That task won’t be easy, however. Next on the schedule for 5-6 USA? 9-2 Appalachian State. That would be a big upset.
Kansas State (5-6): The Wildcats improved to 5-6 on the year by knocking off winless Kansas. They didn’t have much trouble doing it, either, and cruised to a 45-14 victory. To reach six wins, the Wildcats have a tougher task — a home matchup next Saturday against a 7-4 West Virginia team that is riding a four-game winning streak.
Georgia State (5-6): Like its Sun Belt counterpart South Alabama, Georgia State has a tough task ahead to reach six wins. The Panthers, who won their third straight game in a 31-21 decision over Troy on Friday, will head to Statesboro to take on 8-3 Georgia Southern. Southern gave Georgia a big test (a 23-17 loss) last week and knocked off USA this week, so the Eagles are playing well and will be a tough task for GSU.
With wins from Washington, Tulsa, Indiana and Virginia Tech, 75 teams have guaranteed bowl spots, but there are still five to go. And since South Alabama, Kansas State and Georgia State are the only teams that can clinch automatic berths, the NCAA will have to step in to fill at least two slots.
Various reports have surfaced that indicate the NCAA could use Academic Progress Rate (APR) to fill the remaining spots. According to CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, Nebraska (985), Missouri (976), San Jose State (975), Minnesota (975) and Illinois and Rice (both have 973) have the best APRs among five-win teams that have completed their schedules. If Kansas State cannot beat West Virginia, the Wildcats jump toward the top with its 976 APR, which would tie Missouri.
As of now, it is unclear how the NCAA will differentiate, if necessary, between teams with the same APR.
- - - - - - -
USC is heading to its first Pac-12 title game courtesy of Saturday’s 40-21 win against rival UCLA.
Saturday’s game was a de facto Pac-12 South championship game with the winner of the contest heading to Santa Clara to play Stanford for the conference title. The game was close early, with the two teams trading points through much of the first half. However, a 42-yard punt return late in the second quarter gave the Trojans a 20-14 lead and momentum heading into the half.
UCLA tried to steal that momentum back early with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Paul Perkins, which gave the Bruins a 21-20 lead. It would be their last lead of the game.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen lost a fumble and threw an interception on the Bruins’ next two possessions and the Trojans turned both mistakes into touchdowns. Rasheem Green picked up the Rosen fumble and ran it 31 yards into the end zone. Darreus Rodgers hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass to complete an eight-play drive following the interception. Rosen’s interception marked his first in 245 passes. He actually threw two on the day and had a couple potential interceptions dropped.
Those two mistakes in the third quarter were all USC would need to tighten the screws against the Bruins and take control of the game. UCLA had trouble mounting any sort of offense and USC almost exclusively used its running game in the fourth quarter to whittle down the clock. Kessler threw three passes in the quarter, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Taylor McNamara. Otherwise, USC ran the ball 18 times in the quarter.
The win marked USC’s first against the Bruins in four straight seasons and the Trojans’ first-ever Pac-12 title game berth. USC last won a Pac-12 title in 2008, but has never won a divisional title since divisions were formed prior to the 2011 season.
The Trojans will meet up with Stanford, which defeated USC 41-31 in Los Angeles on Sept. 20. The Cardinal face Notre Dame on Saturday in what likely will be a College Football Playoff elimination game. If Stanford beats Notre Dame and USC — and some other teams lose — the Cardinal could find themselves in the top four.
For more USC news, visit TrojanSports.com.
For more UCLA news, visit BruinSportsReport.com.
- - - - - - -
Michigan State left no doubt.
The Spartans needed a win over Penn State Saturday to clinch the Big Ten East division and keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive. They did so emphatically.
Michigan State's defense forced four Penn State turnovers while the offense carved up an overmatched PSU defense in a blowout 55-16 win.
In the first half, it looked like the Spartans could be in for a tough one. MSU led 13-3, but Penn State was driving in the final minutes of the half. Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg hit tight end Kyle Carter for a first down to the MSU 23, but Carter was stripped. Spartans safety Demetrious Cox picked up the loose ball and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown to give the Spartans a 20-3 lead.
Penn State was able to cut the lead to 20-10 at halftime, but the second half was completely dominated by Michigan State.
Connor Cook, who returned after missing the Ohio State game with a shoulder issue, threw two third quarter touchdowns to increase the lead to 34-10. The offensive line completely wore down the undermanned Penn State defense the rest of the way and the Spartans cruised to a blowout victory.
The game was probably closer than the final score indicates, but the game entered blowout territory when standout defensive lineman Malik McDowell returned a tipped screen pass 13 yards for a score. And to put the cherry on top of the win, Cook handed off starting center – yes, starting center – Jack Allen for a nine-yard touchdown that put the bow on top of a division-clinching win.
Now that Michigan State took care of business with Penn State, another big test is ahead in next Saturday’s Big Ten title game against Iowa in Indianapolis.
That game will likely decide more than the Big Ten champion.
Iowa, which beat Nebraska on Friday to clinch a perfect 12-0 regular season, was No. 4 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, while Michigan State was No. 5. The winner of the game will undoubtedly seal a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff while the loser could be on the outside looking in.
For more Michigan State news, visit SpartanMag.com.
- - - - - - -
Michigan State had a comfortable lead over Penn State in the fourth quarter, so Mark Dantonio allowed a senior to have some fun in his final home game.
After Penn State fumbled on a kickoff, the Spartans, leading 48-16, had first-and-goal from the PSU nine-yard line and put an unusual ballcarrier in the backfield: offensive lineman Jack Allen.
Allen, a starting center who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 296 pounds, took the carry and showed that linemen are great athletes, too. Watch this:
BREAKING: JACK ALLEN HAS BEEN NAMED A FINALIST FOR THE DOAK WALKER AWARD pic.twitter.com/K8THJ6xWi1— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) November 28, 2015
Just look at that stiff arm!
This isn’t the first time Allen has found the end zone in his MSU career. In April’s Green-White spring game, Allen scored a four-yard touchdown.
Maybe Michigan State should get Allen involved in the gameplan for next weekend’s Big Ten Championship against Iowa.
For more Michigan State news, visit SpartanMag.com.
- - - - - - -
AUBURN, Ala.—The famed Toomer’s Corners oaks have been gone for more than two years now. The Auburn icons, poisoned by a way-too-enthusiastic Alabama fan in 2011, are now souvenir shards; in their place stand newer, tinier oaks protected by fences. “This is tradition,” reads a small sign on the fence. “This is worth the wait. This is Auburn.”
It’s a fine sentiment, patience, one that has little place in college football. And yet that’s exactly what Auburn fans will need: patience, and truckloads of it. Auburn lost Saturday’s Iron Bowl 29-13 to relentless rival Alabama thanks to Derrick Henry's 271 yards on 46 carries, but not before a healthy serving of the strangeness that always characterizes this rivalry.
This is how we got there. Start with a perfect college football day, 73 degrees and sunny, a light breeze keeping everyone in perfect comfort – it’s the kind of day that makes alumni wish they were still undergrads, and makes undergrads believe they’ll live forever.
Alabama needs a win to clinch the SEC West and level up one more notch en route to the College Football Playoff. There’s nothing really at stake here for Auburn but pride—not that pride is inconsequential, but for a man like Nick Saban, pride is what losers cling to when they can’t win on the field.
Still, this is a blood rivalry. Strange things happen when Auburn and Alabama meet. No one knows that better, or with more acute pain, than Saban himself.
“Let me tell you about Auburn,” the pregame hype video intones, and then comes the kicker: “It’ll only take a second.”
Kick Six looms large over this rivalry, as it always will. Saturday was the first time the Iron Bowl returned to the scene of one of the most spectacular plays in college football history, a night when one second, one missed kick, one improbable run to a touchdown altered the entire balance of power in this rivalry.
Echoes of Auburn’s Kick Six victory are everywhere. The Auburn crowd boos every Alabama starter save Adam Griffith, the kicker who missed that fateful 57-yard attempt. Another video in the instants before kickoff showed the entirety of the play—Griffith’s miss, Chris Davis’s catch, the run, the celebration—and the Auburn crowd cheered as loud as if it was happening live. On the Alabama sideline, a few players watched defiantly, but most turned away.
Alabama has more recent national championships, yes, but Auburn will always own a tiny corner of the Tide mind.
In his first field goal attempt at Jordan-Hare since Kick Six, Griffith doesn’t miss. Of course, he’s about 30 yards closer this time around, but it’s enough to put the Tide up 3-0 early in the game. Auburn reels off big gains on the ensuing possession, but stalls out at the Alabama 7 and ends up merely matching the Tide’s field goal. On the ensuing possession, Auburn again gouges deep into Alabama territory, and again comes away with only a field goal. You get the sense that Auburn doesn’t quite have Alabama’s full attention just yet.
Auburn entered the season with hope and a couple easy wins over out-of-conference opponents, but consecutive losses to LSU and Mississippi State knocked the life out of the Tigers’ season before September even ended.
But this is the Iron Bowl. This is blood. This is war. Outside Toomer’s Drugstore, within sight of the new oaks, scalpers aren’t even listening to offers of $100 a ticket. At Price’s Barbecue Shop a few blocks away, a few old-timers are discussing the provenance of the day’s ref’s—“One’s from south Alabama, down Route 43”—and trying to decide whether that bodes well or ill for the Tigers. Profiteers walking the crowd play both sides, hawking “BEAT AUBURN” and “BEAT BAMA” buttons, but they’re selling many more of the latter than the former.
Closer to the stadium, students and alumni alike gather under party tents along Roosevelt. The older fans hug in recognition as the students try hard to impress their significant others’ parents-slash-potential internship bosses. Signs adorning the tents feature every imaginable riff on “War Eagle,” including the hint-of-discord duo of “War Damn Fam Jam” and “Original War Damn Fam Jam” close to one another, but not too close.
Alabama ends the first half with, yes, a field goal – its fourth, the sixth overall, of the half. As Bama sets up for the 50-yard attempt, Auburn sends a man to stand deep in the end zone. You know, just in case.
Rivalry is everywhere. Auburn knows it’s outmanned and outgunned in this game, the “STATE OF AUBURN” and “HEY NICK, GOT A SECOND?” t-shirts notwithstanding. When the stadium’s public address announcer reveals that Auburn has out-charitied Alabama, gathering 211,625 pounds of canned goods to the Tide’s 116,370, the Auburn crowd offers up one of the louder cheers of the day. Any edge. Take any edge.
Over on the Alabama sideline, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin hobbles in a red-and-white oversized shoe, necessary protection for a broken toe. Kiffin claimed, apparently with a straight face, that his daughter broke his toe over the Thanksgiving holiday by jumping on his foot while dancing to “Sweet Home Alabama.” Kiffin has been leading a convincing Alabama offensive attack most of the year, but this game is as awkward as, yes, a man trying to dance with a broken toe.
Then, with 7 minutes left in the third quarter, the yellow hammer at last begins to pound. Coker scrambles like he’s fighting relatives for the last turkey leg, first keeping the drive alive during a critical third down, then eluding Tiger bodies to find ArDarius Stewart in the end zone for a how-the-hell-did-he-do-that 34-yard touchdown.
And then crazy happens, because crazy always happens in the Iron Bowl, even one as numbing and kick-heavy as this one. Johnson steps back and slings it deep to Jason Smith. Johnson has thrown it too far; Smith can only fingertip it. But he’s able to knock the ball up into the air, run underneath it, and outrun the Tide defenders who, quite reasonably, thought there was no way an overthrown ball would suddenly turn into six points.
Such things happen here.
Cam Newton, the former Auburn quarterback who’s now one of the finest players in the NFL, is in the house. So too is Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays, the reigning American League MVP. And, of course, Bo Jackson, probably the greatest all-around athlete in American sports history. Auburn’s got one hell of an alumni contingent.
The present doesn’t look quite as bright. The Tigers aren’t able to follow up their Tip-Six touchdown with anything approaching a meaningful series on either side of the ball. Meanwhile, Alabama is running Henry again, and again, and again ... 14 consecutive times over two series, hammering away at the fragmenting Auburn defense. Finally, with 26 seconds remaining in the game, the Tiger line crumbles, and Henry runs for a 25-yard touchdown that salts away the game and, perhaps, Henry's Heisman chances.
Moments later, Henry runs off the field, looking to hand his gloves to one of the many children in houndstooth and crimson. As Henry reaches forward, an overenthusiastic, and likely overserved, Auburn fan reaches out and grabs at Henry's hands. A cop shoves the Auburn fan back; Henry drops off the gloves and continues down the small tunnel that leads to the visitors' locker room.
"Should've arrested him," the cop mutters as the rowdy Auburn fan storms off.
Nick Saban, as usual, betrays absolutely nothing.
He opens his postgame press conference with a sampler platter of coaching cliches: "I couldn't be more proud of the guys" ... "I've got to give the Auburn players a lot of credit" ... "It was really a battle, and a tough one" ... and on and on. Saban is a brilliant football mind, and part of that brilliance is in stiff-arming any inquiry that cuts beneath the surface level. He visibly scowls when asked whether the Kick Six had any impact on tonight's game. "Discipline / Commitment / Effort / Toughness / Pride: The Process begins here," reads the banner on the side of an Alabama equipment truck parked out behind the stadium. It's a reference to "The Process," Saban's do-the-little-things-right philosophy on coaching and life, and it's served both him and the teams he leads so very well.
Every so often, Saban lets slip a look into the way he views the game, which is so very different from you and me. On discussing the tip-to-touchdown play, he notes, "We played cover two and they were in empty. We didn't make the right check on the empty side, because we usually check and the players were confused, so we busted. Geno (Matias-Smith, defensive back) still had a chance to make the play, but he sort of undercut the ball, and when the guy tipped the ball there was nobody left." You get the sense that Saban could proselytize like that on every play. His memory is that good.
Long after the game, a figure from Saban's past puts that memory to the test. Duane Marrow of Youngstown, Ohio is standing near the Alabama locker room, a borrowed Bo Jackson No. 34 Auburn jersey on. More than three decades ago, Saban, then an assistant coach at Michigan State, visited with Marrow and his family on multiple occasions, trying to recruit him to the Spartans. Marrow ultimately chose Wisconsin, and noted on Saturday night that he wished he'd chosen to go with Saban.
"I loved that man," Marrow said, "loved him! Looking back, I should have listened to him."On this night, Marrow gets a chance to visit with Saban once again. And Saban, after a moment's hesitation, remembers not only Marrow himself, but his entire family, many of whom Saban considered for his team. Saban agrees to pose for photos with a clearly elated Morrow, who wraps up the Alabama coach like he's going to take him home for Christmas.
At least one person wearing an Auburn jersey is going home happy.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Three years ago, Southern Miss failed to win a game.
On Saturday, the Golden Eagles became Conference USA West Division champions.
Southern Miss scored three touchdowns on three Louisiana Tech turnovers in the fourth quarter to blow out the Bulldogs 58-24 and earn a berth in the Conference USA title game. The Golden Eagles will play at Western Kentucky next weekend.
Southern Miss jumped out to a 24-3 lead late in the second quarter thanks to a balanced passing and rushing attack. But the Bulldogs cut the lead to 24-10 right before halftime to give themselves a chance.
Louisiana Tech scored first in the third quarter to cut the Golden Eagles lead to a touchdown, but Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens answered quickly with a one-yard touchdown pass to Korey Robertson. After that, the wheels fell off for Louisiana Tech.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over on three consecutive plays and Golden Eagles running back Ito Smith rushed for touchdowns on each subsequent possession. In less than a minute at the start of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs went from trailing by 14 points to 51-17 deficit.
The division title capped a dramatic turnaround for a Southern Miss team that had won four games in the previous three seasons.
In 2011, Southern Miss, behind coach Larry Fedora, won 12 games, including beating Houston in the C-USA title game and besting Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. But since Fedora left for North Carolina, the Golden Eagles have fallen on tough times. They went winless in 2012 and won just one game in 2013. But this year, coach Todd Monken finally had the right players in place to become competitive in C-USA again.
Next week’s game against Western Kentucky will not be easy. The Hilltoppers are undefeated in conference play and are averaging 44.2 points per game.
- - - - - - -
Ohio State's offense learns quickly.
A week after totaling just 132 yards against Michigan State in its first loss of the season, Ohio State ran for 370 yards in a 42-13 win over Michigan on Saturday.
And while the domination is a sign Ohio State's offense wasn't broken beyond repair against the Spartans, it's also going to make Buckeyes fans wonder if things would have been different had Ohio State's offense performed like this earlier in the season.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns, and J.T. Barrett ran for 138 and three touchdowns as the Buckeyes ran over, around and through the Wolverines. With Elliott and Barrett in the backfield, Ohio State made Michigan play gaps, and when the Wolverines overcommitted, one or the other would break a big gain.
Elliott got just 12 carries against the Spartans. The Ohio State coaching staff made sure he was safely past that mark Saturday as he finished with 30 carries. Both offensive coordinator Ed Warriner and co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck moved to the press box for the game. Did the move help? It's impossible to say it did or didn't, unless it was the catalyst for the Buckeyes to stick with the power running game.
Oh, by the way, Elliott was asked about the play-calling in Saturday's game by ESPN's Holly Rowe. He had no complaints.
Ohio State's rushing defense was pretty good too. The Buckeyes held the Wolverines to 55 rushing yards on 24 carries.
After taking a 14-10 halftime lead, Ohio State opened the second half with a touchdown drive. Following a defensive stop, the Buckeyes struck again with a drive that included 16 plays and spanned more than seven minutes. The final play was a Barrett touchdown run, his third of the day, to push the lead to 28-10. The 18-point lead was insurmountable for the Wolverines.
Michigan also lost quarterback Jake Rudock in the fourth quarter to an injury that could keep him out of a bowl game. Rudock was sacked by defensive end Joey Bosa and landed on his left shoulder with Ohio State leading 35-13. After he was attended to by Michigan's medical staff, he was helped to the sidelines and didn't return.
Rudock finished 19-of-32 passing for 263 yards and a touchdown. The Wolverines also utilized defensive back Jabrill Peppers more on offense. Peppers led the team in rushing yards and also had two catches.
At 11-1, Ohio State is undoubtedly going to a prestigious bowl game. The only question is which one. If Michigan State falls to Penn State, the Buckeyes could head to the College Football Playoff with a win in the Big Ten title game. If MSU wins Saturday afternoon, the more likely scenario is a New Year's Six bowl game, perhaps the Fiesta Bowl. And with the way the Buckeyes played on Saturday, there's no one who wants to face them.
- - - - - - -
It appears Memphis coach Justin Fuente has been tabbed as the man to replace Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech.
Multiple reports surfaced Saturday indicating an announcement would be made next week and that defensive coordinator Bud Foster and running backs coach Shane Beamer, the son of Frank Beamer, would remain on the Hokies’ staff.
Justin Fuente will be new coach at Virginia Tech. Bud Foster & Shane Beamer will remain on Hokies' staff, source told @espn— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 28, 2015
Yahoo Sports’ columnist Pat Forde speculated earlier this week that Fuente would be the Hokies’ choice and that he had been the favorite for awhile.
Virginia Tech (9) – Leaving: Frank Beamer. Arriving: The Dash is betting the mortgage on Memphis coach Justin Fuente, and betting that it happens quickly next week. Word is that athletic director Whit Babcock has his man, and has for a while now, and Fuente is that man. He’s done a remarkable job at previously moribund Memphis, going 18-6 over the past two seasons. It’s possible that tumbling dominoes at LSU and points elsewhere (namely Florida State) unspring this, but unlikely. A Fuente hiring would also keep Rich Rodriguez in place at Arizona.
Fuente has spent four seasons at Memphis. He won just seven games in his first two seasons before a breakout 10-win season a year ago. The Tigers are 9-3 this season.
Memphis did say it made a competitive offer to Fuente to get him to stay with the Tigers but did not specifically say how much that deal was worth. Reports did cite the number was more than $3 million.
For more Virginia Tech news, visit HokieHaven.com.
- - - - - - -
The Jimbo Fisher-to-LSU link may not be as strong as many LSU boosters think it is.
According to the Palm Beach Post, the Florida State coach has told FSU president John Thrasher he doesn't have a desire to leave the school. Fisher has been mentioned as a possible successor to Les Miles if LSU cuts ties with its longtime coach following the season. The Tigers have lost three straight games after starting the season 7-0.
From the Post:
Sources have told the Post that Fisher, whose name has been connected to the expected opening at LSU, has made it clear he is happy with the administration, the support he receives and the direction of the program, and has no intentions of leaving Florida State for another coaching job.
At Florida State, Fisher has become one of college football's most successful coaches . Since Fisher succeeded Bobby Bowden in 2010, Florida State is 67-13. The Seminoles won the final BCS Championship after the 2013 season and went to the College Football Playoff after 2014.
The Seminoles have two losses in 2015 (to Georgia Tech and Clemson) and with a win on Saturday against Florida, are likely heading to a New Year's Six bowl game.
Fisher is a former offensive coordinator at LSU. His ties to the university and his status as Florida State's coach have made him the most commonly mentioned name in the speculation surrounding Miles' future. Given LSU's track record with Miles and his recruiting prowess, there aren't too many coaches who would be considered an upgrade over the 11-year coach of the Tigers.
But it's always been curious as to why Fisher would want to leave the cushiness at Florida State for LSU. Sure, he may be the top target of LSU boosters, but given Miles' track record at the school, it doesn't take too much to make Tigers fans want a new coach apparently. And the SEC West is considerably tougher than the ACC. Fisher can continue to dominate the ACC at FSU with Clemson. In the West, he's got a lot of competition.
Plus, if Fisher is staying at Florida State, it makes the desire of many around the LSU program to get rid of Miles even more curious. Does the school have another replacement lined up? Was Fisher a smokescreen? Or is the school not sure who will be its next head coach if Miles is out the door? If it's the last question, the craziness at LSU could be getting even crazier.
For more Florida State news, visit Warchant.com.
- - - - - - -
Bill Cubit has dropped the interim title at Illinois.
Cubit and the university have agreed to a two-year deal pending approval by the U of I Board of Trustees.
The agreement extends Cubit’s current contract and will pay him $1.2 million per year.
Cubit was named interim coach on Aug. 28 after head coach Tim Beckman was fired. Cubit has led the Illini to a 5-6 record. Illinois plays Northwestern for bowl eligibility on Saturday.
Cubit's two-year deal is definitely a stopgap for the Illini, who are fighting public perception after several football players alleged verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of Beckman. Illinois also is looking for a new athletic director in the wake of those allegations.
“Bill has stepped in during an extremely difficult period and done an outstanding job in leading our football program since August,” Illinois interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk said. “Our student-athletes have responded in a positive manner and we feel he is the best person at this time to be the head coach. We wanted to allow Bill to make decisions regarding the program as the head coach without the interim title, and lead the Fighting Illini into Saturday’s game without speculation.”
For more Illinois news, visit OrangeandBlueNews.com.
- - - - - - -
It’s official: California and Hawaii will open the 2016 season in Australia.
Cal announced Saturday that the two teams will square off on Aug 27, 2016 at ANZ Stadium (capacity: 83,500) in Sydney. It will be the first college football game played in Australia since games were played in Melbourne in 1985 and 1987 and the first-ever college football game held in Sydney.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for our student-athletes and an excellent opportunity to see and learn about another culture,” Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a release. “We are proud to represent the University of California at this historic event. A great deal of hard work by many people has gone into making this a reality, and everyone associated with Cal Athletics is excited to take part in it.
“It is a great day for college football and all the fans of our sport. It shows the popularity college football is gaining, and we’re ready to help further introduce the sport to many more fans.”
Added Cal athletic director Mike Williams: “We are thrilled to open our 2016 football season in Sydney. This will be a tremendous cultural and educational experience for our student-athletes, our football program, our university, and our fan base around the world. We are a global university with global alumni and fans, and we are excited to be bringing college football to the great country of Australia.”
Cal and Hawaii have previously played four times with each side winning twice. The most recent matchup was a 21-7 Hawaii win in Berkeley in 1994. Hawaii won the first game between the two schools in 1934 while Cal was victorious in 1968 and 1993.
Cal previously had a home game against FCS South Dakota scheduled for Sept. 3, but this game will now take its place. After the Australia trip, the Bears won’t resume play until a road game against San Diego State on Sept. 10.
The game against Cal will be the first in the tenure of Nick Rolovich, who was announced as Hawaii’s new head coach on Friday. Rolovich, a former Hawaii quarterback, spent the past four seasons as the offensive coordinator at Nevada.
For more Cal news, visit GoldenBearReport.com.
- - - - - - -
We've got another college football coaching vacancy.
Tulane announced Saturday morning that it had fired coach Curtis Johnson after a loss to Tulsa on Friday ended a 3-9 season.
"I want to thank CJ for his hard work and his dedication to rebuilding the Green Wave football program. His efforts were rewarded in 2013 when Tulane reached its first bowl in 11 years. Since then, however, the program has not progressed to the level that we aspire to," Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson said in a school release.
Johnson has a 15-34 record in four seasons as the Green Wave's coach. The 2013 season was the lone bright spot as Tulane went 7-6 and lost in the New Orleans Bowl to Louisiana-Lafayette. Johnson's team was 2-10 in his debut season in 2012 and his coaching tenure with the school ends with consecutive 3-9 campaigns.
Tulane is also conducting a search for a new athletic director. Dickson is retiring over the summer. The school stated in the release that the coaching search would be "concluded as soon as possible" once Dickson's replacement is named.
Johnson came to the Green Wave from the NFL. He was previously the New Orleans Saints' wide receivers coach. Johnson was the 38th head coach in program history and the school's first black coach.
- - - - - - -
Baylor’s pursuit of a Big 12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff is officially over thanks to its rival TCU.
The Horned Frogs defeated the Bears 28-21 in a double overtime deluge after Baylor running back Devin Chaffin was stopped for no gain on fourth down to end the game.
Baylor came into the contest needing a win to keep pace with Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. The Bears lost to the Sooners a few weeks ago, but an Oklahoma loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday would have all but handed the Bears the Big 12 title. Now, the Big 12 title and possibly a spot in the College Football Playoff will come down to the Bedlam game Saturday night.
Baylor had its chances on Friday.
It scored 14 points on its first two possessions and took a 14-7 lead early. But then the offense became stagnant because of turnovers. Quarterback Chris Johnson, a third stringer who was playing in place of injured starter Jarrett Stidham, had two costly turnovers in the first half, including a fumble that was returned for what would ultimately be the score to force overtime.
After the first half, both offenses went ice cold thanks to the freezing temperatures and the pouring rain. Johnson missed all 10 of his passes in the second half and TCU quarterback Boykin wasn’t much better. Overall, the teams combined for seven turnovers, including five for Baylor. Thay also combined for 23 punts.
However, in the overtime, both quarterbacks shined.
Johnson threw a jump pass that got Baylor on the board first in the first overtime and Boykin had a nice misdirection play that saw him waltz into the end zone for the tying score. In the second overtime, TCU’s offensive line had little trouble holding off Baylor’s three-man rush while Boykin found KaVonte Turpin for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the end zone.
The rest was up to the TCU defense, which had played well all game and ultimately limited Baylor to 335 yards of total offense.
It was fitting that TCU was the one to spoil Baylor’s season simply because the loss to Baylor a year ago did the same thing for TCU. Now, all eyes will be on Stillwater, Okla., where the two Oklahoma schools will duke it out for conference superiority. Oklahoma State hasn’t won the conference since 2011 and Oklahoma hasn’t won it since 2010. Of the two teams, Oklahoma, which is currently No. 3 in the CFP rankings, likely has the only shot of making the playoff. If the Sooners lose, the Big 12 would be shut out of the coveted postseason for the second consecutive season.
Both Baylor and TCU started the season as the favorites in the conference but major injuries to key players altered those plans. TCU took the most injury hits, especially on defense (and to star receiver Josh Doctson) and still managed to win 10 games.
TCU’s regular season is over and the Horned Frogs will wait to learn their bowl destination. Baylor finishes its regular season against Texas next week.
For more Baylor news, visit SicEmSports.com.
For more TCU news, visit PurpleMenace.com.
- - - - - - -
Nick Rolovich has been named Hawaii’s new head coach.
Rolovich was a record-setting quarterback for the Warriors in 2000-01 and was an offensive coordinator under former coach Greg McMackin. He's spent the past four seasons as Nevada's offensive coordinator.
"I'm pleased to welcome back Nick Rolovich to the UH ohana," athletic director David Matlin said in a statement. "Nick is a Warrior at heart and someone I know our fans will support. He understands what it means to be a Warrior having played and coached here and what affect a winning program has with this community. I have no doubt we picked the right man for this job. The future is bright for Hawaii football."
Rolovich holds several passing records at Hawaii, including most touchdowns in a quarter (four against BYU, 2001) and in a game (eight against BY 2001). Rolovich, nicknamed “Rolo” as a player, replaced Timmy Chang in 2001 and went 8-1 as a starter. During that stretch, threw for 3,361 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2002 Hula Bowl.
- - - - - - -
Iowa is another step closer to a College Football Playoff berth.
The Hawkeyes used a strong defensive effort and a big game from senior running back Jordan Canzeri to cap off a perfect 12-0 regular season (the first in program history) in a 28-20 win over Nebraska.
The Iowa defense forced four Nebraska turnovers – all on interceptions from Tommy Armstrong Jr. – and Canzeri scored on second half runs of 29 and 68 yards to help the No. 4 Hawkeyes take care business Friday afternoon in Lincoln.
The Hawkeyes offense struggled, compiling only 250 total yards and going 0-of-9 on third down conversions, but the team’s defense picked up the slack.
The game was tied 7-7 late in the first half when the Iowa defense made perhaps its biggest play of the game. With Nebraska backed up deep in its own territory, Iowa brought a blitz. Feeling the pressure, Armstrong went to check the ball down, but Hawkeyes defensive end Parker Hesse got his hand on the ball and tipped it to himself for a pick-six.
After Hesse’s big play, which gave Iowa a 14-7 lead, the Hawkeyes would not trail for the rest of the game.
Canzeri broke off his first touchdown run early in the third to extend the lead to 21-10, but Nebraska responded when Imani Cross found the end zone for the second time in the game.
But on the first play of Iowa’s ensuing drive, Canzeri got great blocking from his line and exploded off the left side for a 68-yard score, bringing the lead to 28-17.
Nebraska had a chance to cut into the lead midway through the fourth, but an Armstrong pass on fourth-and-one from the Iowa 19 fell incomplete on what was a rather curious play call. The Huskers did tack on a field goal to cut Iowa’s lead to 28-20 with just over a minute to go, but an onside kick attempt failed and the Hawkeyes were able to register their school record 12th win.
Now Kirk Ferentz’s squad has just one final test – and it’s a big one – to reach the College Football Playoff. The Hawkeyes will head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game next Saturday against a to be determined opponent.
Iowa, the Big Ten West division champions, will face Michigan State if the Spartans beat Penn State at home. If the Spartans slip up, the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game will represent the Big Ten East in Indy.
A win in that title game – no matter the opponent – should lock up a spot in the four-team playoff for Iowa.
For more Iowa news, visit HawkeyeReport.com.
- - - - - - -
According to two outlets, LSU coach Les Miles reportedly told boosters he's departing as the head coach of the Tigers following Saturday's game against Texas A&M.
Per Tiger Rag and NOLA.com, Miles told people at the Gridiron Club meeting that he would not be LSU's coach after Saturday night. While he didn't directly say he was leaving, it was reportedly pretty clear. From NOLA.com:
"He said , 'We're a second family to him and he's going to miss us, he appreciates his real friends, and then he told us good bye,'" the source said. "It was very emotional but in control."
Another source said Miles told the group he "wouldn't be seeing them at the bowl game, he would "always be a Tiger" and "thanks for a great 11 years."
NOLA.com reported Miles, 62, did not stay to answer questions. LSU took to Twitter Friday afternoon to dispute the reports.
Contrary to media reports, #LSU coach Les Miles has not resigned nor did he indicate he was resigning when speaking to booster group today.— LSU Football (@LSUfball) November 27, 2015
The Baton Rouge Advocate also countered them.
Two sources who spoke directly to Les Miles say he in no way indicated today that this would be his last game. "Heck no," Miles said #LSU— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) November 27, 2015
Les Miles, unsure of his future, expressed that to Gridiron members, telling them thanks for everything if #LSU decides to part ways.— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) November 27, 2015
Speculation has mounted about Miles' future since a report emerged after the Tigers' loss to Arkansas that the outcome of LSU's final two games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M could determine his fate as coach. LSU lost 38-17 to Ole Miss for its third-straight loss last week.
If LSU decides to move on, Miles would be out despite a massive $15 million buyout. The buyout also doesn't include buyout clauses that would have to be paid to his assistant coaches. It's possible that LSU and Miles could negotiate a smaller, but still incredibly substantial, figure.
Miles has a 110-32 record at LSU in his 11 seasons. With a win on Saturday, LSU moves to 8-3 and could be a candidate for a New Year's Six bowl berth with some craziness among teams ahead of the Tigers in the College Football Playoff rankings.
If LSU parts with Miles, the Tigers won't be casting a wide net for its coaching search. A popular name for the job has been Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who is a former LSU offensive coordinator. But Fisher has himself a pretty good job with the Seminoles and would be moving from the ACC to the gauntlet that is the SEC West. Is the job appealing to him? We'll find out pretty quickly if LSU makes a Miles departure official over the weekend.
For more LSU news, visit Tigerbait.com.
- - - - - - -
No. 24 Toledo cost itself a shot to win the MAC and play in a New Year’s Six bowl in a brutal home loss to Western Michigan on Friday.
Ohio’s upset victory over Northern Illinois on Tuesday night opened the door for the Rockets to win the MAC’s West division with a win over WMU, but the Broncos played the role of spoiler in a 35-30 decision.
Things were back-and-forth to start, but late in the second quarter – on Zach Terrell’s second touchdown pass to Corey Davis of the quarter – the Broncos took a lead they would never relinquish.
WMU led 25-21 at halftime and opened up a two-score lead when freshman Jamauri Bogan punched it in on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, extending the lead to 32-21 midway through the third.
Toledo then put together a long drive, but stalled deep in WMU territory, settling for a Jameson Vest 19-yard field goal to cut the lead to eight, 32-24.
Toledo had other opportunities to cut into the lead, but, on a wet, rainy Ohio afternoon, crucial penalties and sloppy ball handling down the stretch doomed the Rockets, who ultimately fell short.
The loss for Toledo has implications beyond the MAC. With No. 15 Navy’s loss to Houston earlier in the day, Toledo had a huge opportunity to set itself up for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl by finishing as the highest-ranked Group of Five team by season’s end. Of course, Toledo would have needed to win the MAC title game against a tough Bowling Green team to make that a reality, but its win over Arkansas early in the season gave the Rockets a nice resume in the College Football Playoff committee’s eyes.
Instead, the 9-2 Rockets will settle for a trip to a mediocre bowl game while wondering what could have been. Western Michigan finishes with a 7-5 record.
- - - - - - -
In just its second season as a member of Conference USA, Western Kentucky will play for the league title.
Behind a huge performance from senior quarterback Brandon Doughty, the Hilltoppers’ offense trounced through the Marshall defense in a 49-28 win that clinched the C-USA’s East division.
Doughty made easy work of the Thundering Herd secondary, throwing for 370 yards and five touchdowns on the afternoon. Additionally, Doughty became the first quarterback in FBS history to throw for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in consecutive seasons.
Junior running back Anthony Wales also had a big game for WKU, totaling 131 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. In all, the WKU offense racked up 546 yards, while Marshall could only muster 273 yards against a tough Hilltoppers defense.
The Hilltoppers set the tone early by scoring on just their third play from scrimmage – a 35-yard touchdown pass from Doughty to Nicholas Norris – but the second quarter was when WKU really turned it up.
Wales opened the quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run and before the half came to a close, Doughty had thrown for three more scores – two to tight end Tyler Higbee and another to Taywan Taylor.
Marshall was able to reach the end zone twice in the second quarter, but WKU was firmly in control with a 35-14 lead at halftime.
Marshall’s defense was able to stop the barrage a bit in the second half, but its offense could not muster enough to get back in the game. Two Garrett Schwettman field goals and Doughty’s fifth touchdown of the game sealed things for WKU, setting a date in the Conference USA title game on Dec. 5 against either Louisiana Tech or Southern Mississippi. The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles play Saturday to decide the C-USA West.
The Hilltoppers finish the regular season with a 10-2 record and a perfect 8-0 record in C-USA play. If WKU goes on to win the league title, the team could receive some consideration from the College Football Playoff committee as the top Group of Five team in the country.
With Navy and Toledo unable to win their respective conferences, that spot in a New Year’s Six bowl is up for grabs. The team that emerges from the AAC (Houston will face either Temple or South Florida in the title game) will likely be the favorite, but WKU will definitely be in the conversation.
For more Western Kentucky news, InsideHilltopperSports.com.
For more Marshall news, visit HerdNation.com.
- - - - - - -
We won't have to wait six extra days for the final set of College Football Playoff rankings.
The Houston Cougars clinched a berth in the AAC Championship Game with a 52-31 win over Navy Friday afternoon. The game was a de facto West Division title game and the Cougars' offense was unstoppable.
The defense wasn't too bad either. While Navy did have four touchdowns, the Cougars forced Navy to use the passing game much more than the Midshipmen planned. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds' 312 passing yards were a season high. His previous season high? 134 yards against Tulane.
The Cougars had a 24-14 lead at halftime and took a 38-17 lead early in the second half thanks to this great Demarcus Ayers touchdown catch.
Holy Ayers! What a 62-yard TD catch. pic.twitter.com/aRiQy3uJGC— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) November 27, 2015
Ayers then made the game 45-24 with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Linell Bonner. The wide receiver pass capped off a 96-yard drive that asserted Houston's dominance. Navy had chances to get back into the game in the second half if the defense could prevent the Cougars from moving the ball. The prevention never happened.
Houston had 555 yards of total offense. The Midshipmen tried to keep up with 459, but many of those were second half passing yards for Reynolds. Navy ran for just 147 yards the entire game as Houston's weekly option defense had paid off. The Cougars spent time during every in-season Sunday practice working through Navy's offensive sets.
The Cougars, now 11-1 and 7-1 in the American, will face the winner of the Temple-South Florida game Saturday for the AAC Championship next week. And the winner of the title game will likely be the recipient of the New Year's Six bowl berth for the highest-ranked team outside of the Power Five conferences.
Had Navy won Friday and clinched the West, the Midshipmen would be playing in the AAC title game a week before finishing the season against Army. Because of the Army game, the playoff rankings would have been delayed until following the game on December 12 if Navy was the highest-ranked team in the rankings and had a shot at that New Year's Six slot.
But since the Midshipmen lost, Navy won't be in that position and are heading to the Military Bowl to play an ACC team.
Reynolds did tie another record in the loss. After breaking Montee Ball's record for career rushing touchdowns in FBS, he tied Ball's record of 83 total rushing and receiving touchdowns on Friday. Barring an unexpected shutout against Army, he'll set that record in two weeks.
- - - - - - -
Ohio is now requesting its residents not wear pants.
Given the craziness that is the state of Ohio, you're probably not entirely surprised. We regret to inform you the request does not cover all pants, but rather pleated khakis. Because, you know, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh wears pleated khakis.
Here's the resolution, which is in effect on Saturday, the day Ohio State plays Michigan. It's from Ohio governor John Kasich (R), who is also running for president.
You'll also notice that the letter "m" is crossed out in the resolution. Hating the letter in the week of the game is nothing new for Ohio.
We'd be more impressed with the ban if it was for style and common sense purposes rather than Michigan ones. It shouldn't take a football game to realize you shouldn't be wearing pleated khakis.
Michigan and Ohio State kick off at noon Saturday.
- - - - - - -
Terrel Hunt isn't able to return to the Syracuse football team in 2016.
Syracuse announced Friday that his appeal for a sixth year of eligibility was denied by the NCAA.
“Obviously, it’s very disappointing but I want to thank my teammates, coaches and all the Syracuse fans who have supported me through this process and during my time here,” Hunt said in a team statement. “Even though my career didn’t turn how I thought it would, I still have a lot of great memories that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
“Right now I’m focused on my rehab and on finishing graduate school. I’m getting better every day and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to continue my career at the professional level.”
Hunt, a senior in 2015, tore an Achilles' tendon in the Orange's first game of 2015 against Rhode Island. The injury put him on the bench for the rest of the year. He missed the final seven games of 2014 after he suffered a broken tibia. He'll be recognized during senior day activities against Boston College on Saturday.
Hunt finishes his career with over 2,600 passing yards and 24 total touchdowns.
The Orange, 3-8, have lost eight-straight games after starting the season 3-0. The school fired coach Scott Shafer on Monday.
For more Syracuse news, visit CuseConfidential.com.
- - - - - - -
A 6-4 week takes us to 60-54-6. Could be worse.
Missouri at Arkansas (Over 44.5), 2:30 p.m. ET FRIDAY: Taking the Tigers and an over pick seems crazy. But we're going to go with it. Arkansas' defense has given up a lot of points recently (Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State) and its offense has been piling up the points too. The Hogs are favored by two touchdowns and that line seems right. We just have a feeling it could end 30-20 or something.
Iowa at Nebraska (+2.5), 3:30 p.m. ET FRIDAY: Upset alert. After calling for the upset for the past six weeks, we have to stick with our guns here. It's nothing against Iowa at all. The Hawkeyes are a very good football team and worthy of consideration for the College Football Playoff with an undefeated season. But Nebraska is the master of playing teams close. Just ask Michigan State.
Washington State (+7.5) at Washington, 3:30 p.m. ET FRIDAY: The Cougars with more than a touchdown? Yes please. The line is inflated because of the status of Washington State QB Luke Falk. If Falk doesn't play, Peyton Bender will be the Cougars' quarterback. We trust coach Mike Leach's offensive system enough that no matter the QB, Washington State keeps rolling.
Oregon State (+35) at Oregon, 4 p.m. ET FRIDAY: A five-touchdown line in the Civil War doesn't seem right. Yeah, Oregon State is starting yet another freshman quarterback -- the third on the season. Marcus McMaryion is the Beavers' starter. But since this is a rivalry game, we're hesitant to take a team giving five touchdowns. Come on Oregon State, this is your bowl game.
UMass at Buffalo (-7), 4:30 p.m. ET FRIDAY: We like Buffalo's chances to get to six wins and a bowl berth. The Bulls are 5-6 heading into Friday's game and are in the midst of a two-game slide. After starting the season 1-4, Buffalo got to 5-4 before losses to NIU and Akron in back-to-back weeks. We like Joe Licata to have a big game.
Clemson (-17) at South Carolina, Noon ET: Just as we used the rivalry justification to pick Oregon State, we're taking Clemson giving a lot of points. The Tigers are much better than the Citadel (sorry, people who hate stating the obvious South Carolina) and in a position to blow teams out to stay at the top of the College Football Playoff.
Virginia Tech (-3.5) at Virginia, Noon ET: Different year, same situation for Frank Beamer and the Hokies. Virginia Tech needs to win to get to a bowl game. And will this be Mike London's last game at Virginia? If we were coaching the Cavaliers, London gets one more year. With the glut of coaching opportunities already available, Virginia isn't too desirable.
North Carolina (-5.5) at North Carolina State, 3:30 p.m. ET: Another road favorite. It'd be quite North Carolina for the Tar Heels to drop a game before playing Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. We're betting against it. And so is the ACC, which would like to have a matchup of top 10 teams for it's title game. And if UNC wins, the Tar Heels are eyeing a New Year's Six bowl berth.
Northwestern (-3.5) at Illinois, 3:30 p.m. ET: The Illini need to win to get to a bowl. And possibly to keep interim coach Bill Cubit in the running for the permanent job. No matter what happens, Cubit has done an admirable job as the coach this season after Tim Beckman was fired. And Northwestern has been one of the season's biggest surprises. Don't you think the Wildcats want that game against Iowa back?
Kansas State at Kansas (+20), 3:30 p.m. ET: Let's end this being nice to the Jayhawks. Kansas has shown flashes (ok, not against West Virginia) and Kansas State needed a miracle comeback to beat Iowa State. The Wildcats win the game, but it's going to be fairly close.
LOCKS OF THE WEEK:
Nick Bromberg: Florida State (-2.5) at Florida, 7:30 p.m. ET: It's time to take the better quarterback in this one. Treon Harris didn't have a good game against the Seminoles last year and while he'll have a better showing on Saturday, it won't be enough. FSU also has the best player on the field in Dalvin Cook.
Sam Cooper: UConn (+13) at Temple, 7 p.m. ET: Temple can clinch the AAC East with a win, but UConn is riding high after upsetting previously unbeaten Houston last week. The Huskies have been gradually improving under Bob Diaco and have a really solid defense. They will give the Owls a really tough game. Temple wins, but UConn covers the 13.
Graham Watson Miami at Pitt (-7), Noon ET FRIDAY: The Panthers have really hit their stride in the past couple weeks against conference opponents and will want to cap off its regular season and send its seniors off in style. Miami has been good against bad opponents and bad against good opponents. We’ll see more of the same in this contest. Pitt wins this one by a few scores.
- - - - - - -
When you really want to beat Texas, you pull out all the stops.
That’s what Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury did Thursday night when he called a fake victory formation with nearly three minutes remaining. The Red Raiders, who were up 41-38 at the point, pretended to kneel down while receiver Jakeem Grant, one of the team’s smallest players, emerged from the pile with the ball. He ran to the left side and down the sideline 40 yards untouched for the touchdown.
Texas Tech's victory formation trick play is something for which we can all be thankful. https://t.co/1YPyrRvgoq— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) November 27, 2015
What was most baffling about the play was Texas falling for it in the first place, especially with two timeouts remaining.
The score actually ended up being the game-winning points for Texas Tech, which allowed Texas to score on the next possession. The Red Raiders recovered an onside kick and then did a real kneel down to end the game.
The Red Raiders won the game 48-45 and finish the regular season with seven wins. Texas falls to 4-7 and still has a season finale against Baylor next week.
For more Texas news, visit Orangebloods.com.
For more Texas Tech news, visit RedRaiderSports.com.
- - - - - - -
We’re going to do a little different format this week simply because there are too many great games this weekend to pinpoint just three.
It is, as you all know, the weekend that decides several conference championship games and could decide whether teams are in or out of the college football playoff.
With that said, here’s what to watch in Week 13 (games are Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 15 Navy at Houston, noon ET, Friday: This game won’t only decide the West Division of the American Athletic Conference and home-field advantage in the conference title game, it likely will determine the Group of Five representative in the New Year’s Six Bowl. Navy has dominated the AAC in its first year in the league and one more victory would set the school record for wins and give the program its first 10-1 start since 1905. If it does so — and caps an undefeated regular season conference campaign — it also might earn quarterback Keenan Reynolds a trip to the Heisman ceremony in New York.
No. 4 Iowa at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET, Friday: Nebraska will attempt to spoil Iowa’s perfect season with an upset win. The Hawkeyes moved from fifth to fourth in the CFP rankings and is two wins away from securing its coveted spot in the postseason. Nebraska needs a win to earn bowl eligibility. The Cornhuskers haven’t missed a bowl berth since 2007. Nebraska already has one major upset under its belt, a controversial 39-38 win against Michigan State, but no one's been able to take down the Hawkeyes yet.
No. 7 Baylor at No. 19 TCU, 5 p.m. ET, Friday: Baylor is not out of the Big 12 or CFP race just yet, but Friday’s game against a severely hobbled TCU team doesn’t bring as much cachet as it might have earlier in the season. That said, Baylor has its own injuries with both its starting and backup quarterbacks out and its third stringer, Chris Johnson, starting his first career game. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, who missed last week’s game, would add a big boost for TCU, but without star receiver Josh Doctson, who is out for the season with a wrist injury, the Horned Frogs’ chances of keeping pace with Baylor’s high-powered offense are slim.
No. 8 Ohio State at No. 10 Michigan, noon ET : With Ohio State losing last week, this game isn’t nearly as interesting as it could have been. Still, Ohio State has a chance to play for the Big Ten title should it beat the Wolverines and Michigan State lose to Penn State. The most interesting thing about this contest might be how Ohio State responds to not only last week’s loss, but the comments made by running back Ezekiel Elliott following it. Elliott had issues with the playcalling and coach Urban Meyer said he would get more involved. The Buckeyes have had trouble finding continuity on offense all year and that could be a real problem against a Michigan defense that’s been tough all season.
Penn State at No. 5 Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. ET: The goal is simple for Michigan State — win and you’re in. Thanks to last week’s win against Ohio State, the Spartans are one win away from playing for the Big Ten title and perhaps two wins away from a spot in the College Football Playoff. There’s still a question whether quarterback Connor Cook will start Saturday’s game. Cook sat out with injury last week and Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry split snaps to lead the Spartans to victory. They’ll need to be even better this week against a tough Penn State defense.
No. 22 UCLA at USC, 3:30 ET: Many believed the Pac-12 South title would run through Los Angeles, but it took a circuitous route to get to this point. The winner of this game will face Stanford for the Pac-12 title. That’s really the only prize here, but it’s a significant one considering USC hasn’t won a conference title since 2008 and UCLA hasn’t won one since 1998. Both of these teams have beaten up defenses and USC star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was dealing with various injuries during last week's loss to Oregon. UCLA has won each of the last three contests in this series, but these teams are pretty even and this game could be closer than past contests.
No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 9 Stanford, 7:30 p.m. ET: Both of these teams are actually fighting for the College Football Playoff lives in this contest. Notre Dame slipped to No. 6 in the latest CFP rankings after a lackluster performance against Boston College. In that game, the Irish had three redzone turnovers (five overall), something that has plagued them at times this season. Defensively, Notre Dame has been hit and miss and will have trouble containing Stanford’s do-everything player Christian McCaffrey, who is inching closer to Barry Sanders’ all-purpose yards record. This is Notre Dame’s last chance to prove it belongs in the CFP, but it needs to dominate Stanford — and have some key teams lose — to even get a sniff at the top four.
No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State 8 p.m. ET: Oklahoma could be the first team to truly solidify its spot in the College Football Playoff with a win against rival Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Sooners jumped from No. 7 to No. 3 in the weekly rankings and a road win over the No. 11 team in the country would seemingly solidify their spot. This game will hinge on the Oklahoma defense and its ability to get pressure on quarterback Mason Rudolph, who was disrupted all game in the loss to Baylor. Sooners’ quarterback Baker Mayfield missed the second half of last week’s game against TCU with concussion symptoms, but will be back this week. The offense runs smoothly with him under center and the Sooners will need to score early and often to put this one away.
- - - - - - -
A Florida State official said in a deposition that 20 rape claims had been made against Seminole football players in the last nine years, according to the Associated Press.
Melissa Ashton, the director of FSU's victim advocate program, made the statement last summer during a deposition in the ongoing civil lawsuit filed by former student Erica Kinsman against the university. Kinsman said the university failed to respond to her allegations that former quarterback Jameis Winston raped her.
The deposition was released as part of an open records request by the Associated Press.
Ashton also asserted that she thought football players received special treatment at the school and that most of the alleged victims declined to press charges for fear of retaliation.
A Florida State spokesperson told the Associated Press that the school could not confirm the number of allegations because communications with victims in confidential through the victim advocate program.
For more Florida State news, visit Warchant.com.
- - - - - - -
Wisconsin running back Corey Clement was cited on two counts of disorderly conduct after police say he threw the first punch during a Nov. 8 dispute in the building of his off-campus residence.
The University of Wisconsin issued a vague statement following the altercation that stated Clement was walking back to his residence when he saw a group of individuals engaged with a security guard. Clement went over to help. Clement suffered a cut on his hand as a result of the incident.
However, police said Clement escalated the verbal confrontation and that the university issued a misleading statement regarding the events.
The fight began as a verbal altercation in the elevator of Clement's apartment building at the Hub, 437 N. Frances St., before spilling into a landing on the sixth floor. An escalating series of hostile exchanges between Clement and the group of seven to eight men included what police described as Clement's repeated use of "derogatory and sexually explicit language" toward the girlfriend of one of the two other men cited.
"I told Clement that a review of the video showed that his assertion that he was defending himself was not reflected in the video," Peterson says in the report. "I told Clement that it was clear that it was his actions that caused the verbal argument to continue, and that it was his actions that initiated the physical disturbance."
Wisconsin did issue a statement Wednesday saying it was aware Clement might be charged.
We were informed yesterday by Madison Police that Corey Clement was cited for two counts of disorderly conduct for his role in an incident on Nov. 8. When we first became aware of this incident, we knew this was a possibility.
With the release of the full police report today, further details on the incident have come to light. Any disciplinary measures taken by UW head coach Paul Chryst relating to this incident are undetermined at this time and will be handled internally.
Wisconsin lost to Northwestern 13-7 last week. Clement has 10 carried for 24 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers finish the regular season at Minnesota.
For more Wisconsin news, visit BadgerBlitz.com.
- - - - - - -