NCAA Football

Sugar Bowl 2013: Keys to Victory for Alabama and Oklahoma

Almost no one is expecting the No. 3-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to have any difficulties with the 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners Thursday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Besides the appearance that Bama simply has the superior talent, it hasn't lost a nonconference game in six years. Per Covers.com, the Sooners are 16.5-point underdogs. 

What does Bob Stoops have to do to guide his team to an improbable win? What does Nick Saban need to get from the Tide to finish the season on a winning note?

Check out the keys to victory.

 

Slow Down Bama's Balanced Attack

Yes, AJ McCarron has proven he is capable of making plays with his arm. McCarron was big-time all season, most notably against Texas A&M and Auburn. He completed 63 percent of his passes, had seven touchdowns and no interceptions in those games.

However, the run game is still the engine for the Crimson Tide machine. Sophomore stud, T.J. Yeldon, is the leading rusher with 1,163 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

If the Sooners are to have any prayer of upsetting Alabama, they have to contain the rushing attack. Bama only failed to dominate on the ground in two games. The Virginia Tech Hokies and Colorado State Rams—of all teams—were the only teams that held the Crimson Tide under 100 yards rushing all season.

It happened early in the campaign and both teams obviously still lost. Is the Sooners' offense better than the Hokies and Rams? Is it better suited to capitalize if the defense can contain Bama on the ground? Those points are certainly debatable.

If defensive coordinator Mike Stoops can dial up a scheme that prevents his front seven from being trampled, that's the first step towards a monumental upset.

Per Marq Burnett of the Anniston Star, Stoops knows what he and his defense are in for. He said this during a press conference in New Orleans on Sunday:

[This] will be the most physical game that we have played all year.

Offensively, they are probably the most complete or they are the most complete team we have faced. When you at the offensive line, you look at the skill, you look at the running backs, you look at the tight ends, they present challenges across board.

Turnovers

Whenever a team is heavily favored, the quickest way to eliminate that advantage and level the playing fields is by turning the ball over. Alabama survived two games during the season in which it lost the turnover battle, but in those games, the talent discrepancy was larger than it will be against Oklahoma.

The Tide shook off two miscues against Kentucky and won 48-7, and four giveaways when they beat Mississippi State 20-7. 

It's possible that could happen again, but it would be an example of playing with proverbial fire.

The Sooners need to play a near perfect game, and that includes limiting or completely eliminating turnovers. Bama's talent will create its own opportunities, Oklahoma will only make the hill steeper to climb by giving away the football.

 

Alabama Can't Take the Sooners Lightly

Perhaps the biggest potential problem Alabama might face is overconfidence. This team naturally feels as if it should be playing for a national championship. The Sugar Bowl is merely a consolation prize.

If the players are not engaged, it could open them up to a slow start. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit thinks the Sooners may surprise some folks. Per Jon Solomon of AL.com, Herbstreit said:

I think Oklahoma definitely has a chance in this game because I think they're going to play with some urgency and with a major chip on their shoulder. I think the game will be much, much closer than what a lot of people who I'm listening to or talking to think.

Allowing Oklahoma to believe it has a chance to win will make the game tougher. The Sooners are already gearing up to shock the world. Running back Brennan Clay said this, per Alabama Sports Now:

If Bama comes out with intensity from the beginning of the game—especially on the defensive side of the ball—it should have no problems handling Oklahoma.

 

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Cold Hard Fact for Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fact: The highest attendance for the Rose Bowl was 94,392, when Washington took on Purdue in 2001. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: BCSFootball.org

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Jadeveon Clowney Officially Announces He Will Enter 2014 NFL Draft

To the surprise of no one, South Carolina Gamecocks junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has declared himself eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.  

CBS' Dan Brugler broke the news:

Clowney is considered one of the premium pro prospects in the upcoming draft. If there were any lingering doubts that he would jump to the next level—even after walking out with the Gamecocks' senior class for the team's final home game—they were put to rest by Clowney's announcement on New Year's Day.

At 6'6" and 274 pounds with incredible speed, athleticism and burst, there haven't been too many defensive-end prospects like Clowney to come along.

Thanks to Clowney's size, strength and nimbleness, he can even play on the inside in some packages, as well as drop back in coverage if need be. Oh, and of course he's a nightmare to handle as a pass-rusher.

However, production was an issue for Clowney in his final season in Columbia, where he registered 35 total tackles (10.5 for loss) and three sacks in 10 games, per CFBStats.com.

That is way down from his previous campaign of 54 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks, but Clowney had one more chance to showcase his talents in South Carolina's Capital One Bowl clash against Wisconsin on Jan. 1.

Whether or not the decline from his sophomore to junior season—or questions about his injuries and work ethic—will hurt him remains to be seen. Chances are, though, that Clowney's draft stock won't be hampered due to his seemingly limitless upside.

In a Dec. 8 mock draft, B/R expert Matt Miller had the Houston Texans selecting Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick to place opposite reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.

That would be terrifying for any opposing offense to handle, and it certainly made B/R's Aaron Nagler shudder:

Wherever Clowney lands, he should be an immediate impact player as long as his health permits him to be. A very lucky franchise will likely be getting a franchise cornerstone who will enjoy a sensational NFL career.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska vs. Georgia: Score, Grades and Analysis from 2014 Gator Bowl

This one's for the Big Ten.

The conference no doubt got a nice boost with Nebraska's 24-19 win over Georgia in the 2014 Gator Bowl. It's the first victory for the Big Ten this bowl season and the first loss for the SEC.

Entering the matchup, it was clear this was going to be a knock-down, drag-out affair. The Cornhuskers averaged 199.5 passing yards a game, while the Bulldogs were without Aaron Murray, who tore his ACL in November. The wet, windy conditions only served to ground both offenses.   

As a result, the winning team would be the one that established the running game more, and that ended up being the Cornhuskers.

You could certainly do worse than watching a battle of Ameer Abdullah and Todd Gurley. They were two of the best running backs during the regular season and were the bellwethers for their respective offenses on the afternoon.

Abdullah finished with 122 yards rushing and a touchdown on 27 carries. CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler thinks the Nebraska running back should receive more attention for his abilities.

His opposite number wasn't so lucky. You could tell Gurley wasn't 100 percent, but he still managed to carry the ball 21 times for 86 yards. He also had seven receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.

The Nebraska offense could be encapsulated by Abdullah imploring the coaching staff on the sideline to give him the ball close to the goal line after Tommy Armstrong's sneak went nowhere. The junior running back would pound it in from a yard out to give the Cornhuskers a 17-9 lead in the third quarter.

Abdullah ran the ball so much that his jersey began resembling some sort of artistic masterpiece, according to Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer.

Whereas Abullah was always there for Nebraska, Gurley's health meant he couldn't be there for Georgia, especially late in the game. It was fitting that on the Bulldogs' final drive, Gurley looked sure to get a first down on a critical 3rd-and-10, only to come up three yards short.

The Gurley of earlier in the season would have bulldozed his way to the first down and possibly even to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

Of course, as much as the running game was successful for Nebraska, the Cornhuskers probably wouldn't have won had it not been for a major play in the passing game.

They had a 3rd-and-14 on their own 1-yard line. Almost everybody expected the them to go with a QB sneak or run inside in order to get out of their own end zone and then punt the ball away.

Unfortunately for Georgia, its secondary was of the same opinion.

Bo Pelini opted for the pass, with Armstrong connecting with Quincy Enunwa for the 99-yard touchdown pass. It was a great play call from Pelini, as the Bulldogs' corners and safeties bit hard on the run, and there wasn't a defender within yards of Enunwa when he caught the ball.

Free safety Quincy Mauger went for the big hit, but Enunwa instead bounced off and had nothing but green in front of him.

That gave Nebraska a 24-12 lead with a little under five minutes in the third quarter.

Gurley closed the gap early in the fourth quarter with a 25-yard touchdown reception, and the Cornhuskers looked like they were teetering on the brink with a 24-19 lead.

The Bulldogs only have themselves to blame, as they had plenty of chances to find the go-ahead score toward the end of the game.

Georgia first had a 1st-and-10 on the Nebraska 22-yard line. After he saw his team get eight yards on the first three downs, Mark Richt chose to go for it on 4th-and-2. Mason's pass to Rantavious Wooten was incomplete.

The Bulldogs had another chance late only to see another Mason pass fall incomplete at the Nebraska 16-yard line with 25 seconds to go.

From there, Nebraska took a knee, and it was game over. The Cornhuskers were deserved winners. While they were out-gained 416-307, they took chances at the right times and stifled the Georgia offense in the red zone.

 

Key Player Grades

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska: A

Abdullah was the tone-setter for Nebraska. If he would have had a bad game, the Cornhuskers could have gotten run out of the stadium. Armstrong only attempted 14 passes, eight of which were incompletions, so it was imperative that Nebraska could establish a steady presence on the ground.

Time and again, Abdullah was there to move the ball and eat up the clock.

 

Hutson Mason, Georgia: B

The conditions in Jacksonville weren't conducive for a strong passing performance, but Hutson Mason did his best to keep Georgia in it. The junior QB finished with 320 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 21-of-39 passing.

Taking into account all the circumstances, Mason arguably performed above expectations.

 

Todd Gurley, Georgia: B

Let's not be too tough on Gurley. He clearly wasn't healthy yet gave a strong performance. Even at 70 or 80 percent, he was a handful for the Nebraska defense. Gurley was both a threat on the ground and through the air.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to come up with the big plays when the Bulldogs needed them the most.

 

What's Next?

Nebraska built some strong momentum for 2014. In addition, Bo Pelini looks much more assured as head coach. Had the Cornhuskers lost, there may have been some talk about him being on the hot set. That's not a problem anymore, though.

Perhaps that's the case for Mark Richt. Sure, Georgia was hammered by injuries, but many Bulldogs fans may look at a final record of 8-5 and expect more.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rose Bowl 2014: Live Score, Highlights for Stanford vs. Michigan State

If you’re a fan of smash-mouth football, then the 2014 Rose Bowl is the game for you. Power offense and hard-hitting defense will steal the show when Michigan State battles Stanford at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.

This is the 100th Rose Bowl, and it’s sure to end in a nail-biter. Many expect it to be a low-scoring contest, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of excitement.

Michigan State will be without its star middle linebacker Max Bullough, who was suspended, but the Spartans should still give Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal offense a hard time.

David Shaw is a hot commodity in the coaching community, as many NFL teams want to steal him away from Stanford. Could he be an even bigger name in the rumor mill after tonight’s game?

Keep it locked right here with Bleacher Report for live score updates, highlights and much more!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU's Zach Mettenberger Gets Caught Picking Nose on Sideline

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger tore his ACL in the Tigers' final game of the regular season, so he is forced to watch his team take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl.

When players have too much time on the sideline, things like this can happen. Cameras caught the senior picking his nose and then having a snack.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Iowa's John Lowdermilk Costs Himself Pick-6 After Dropping Ball Too Early

Iowa's John Lowdermilk made a nice play to pick off LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings and return it 71 yards. However, he cost himself a pick-six by dropping the ball before he crossed the goal line.

Oops.

The blooper wasn't a complete disaster. The Hawkeyes took over at the Tigers' 1-yard line and scored a touchdown a few plays later to get on the board.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Gator Bowl 2014: Despite Loss, Georgia QB Hutson Mason Looks Ready for the Job

Hutson Mason has been the heir apparent to Aaron Murray since the moment he signed with the Bulldogs in February 2010. He even took a redshirt as a junior in 2012 to give himself one year of separation from Aaron Murray, who was also a junior that season.

He didn't look like a superstar against Nebraska in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, but he certainly looked ready for the job despite some early-game jitters.

One month after leading Georgia to a double-overtime win over Georgia Tech in place of Murray, who tore his ACL the previous week against Kentucky, Mason came out rattled in the 24-19 loss to the Cornhuskers on Wednesday afternoon—as was the case against the Jackets.

Mason again led his team back out of a hole and into a position to win. But this time, his teammates let him down.

Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten and tight end Arthur Lynch, in particular.

Statistically, Mason was on point.

The Marietta, Ga.,-native completed 21 of 40 passes for 320 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

He was rattled in the pocket early, kept his eyes on the pass rush rather than his receivers and routinely made bad decisions, like throwing a four-yard curl into double coverage on 3rd-and-5 early in the fourth quarter when Michael Bennett was wide open on a corner route.

But then it clicked.

With the Bulldogs down five in the middle of the fourth, he led them down the field and into the red zone, before Wooten dropped a 4th-and-2 pass for a first down after getting rocked by the Nebraska defender. Earlier in the drive, Lynch dropped a 2nd-and-10 pass on the Nebraska 22-yard line.

On Georgia's last drive of the game, Wooten again dropped a pass over the middle on 1st-and-15, and Lynch got stone hands on the final offensive play of the game for the Bulldogs—a 4th-and-3 from the Nebraska 16.

Lynch and Wooten—two seniors—closing out their careers in heartbreaking fashion.

CBS Sports' Tim Brando puts Lynch's drop in perspective.

Gut wrenching drop for Arthur Lynch as Senior TE for the Bulldogs. I'm so happy though for Pelini as he has endured so much this season.

— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) January 1, 2014

Don't blame the loss on Mason. 

Sure, he could have done more early on to prevent the Bulldogs from being in that position to begin with. But he was making just his second career start in sloppy conditions in Jacksonville. He's not going to step in and instantly become an Aaron Murray clone.

Now Georgia knows what his strengths are and, more importantly, what he needs to work on during the offseason. With Clemson looming in the opener and South Carolina in Week 3, that kind of knowledge is power.

 

 

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LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. Makes a One-Handed Catch vs. Iowa

Add this to the other one-handed grabs LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. has made a routine.

The athletic wide receiver stretched out for an incredible catch on the sideline during the Tigers' matchup against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. 

Here's another look at it. 

 

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Mickey Mouse Gets Left Hanging by Jimbo Fisher

Poor Mickey Mouse.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had time to pose for a picture with the cultural icon at Downtown Disney on Tuesday, but he apparently didn't have time to shake his hand after. 

Thanks to Wesley Sinor of AL.com, via LostLettermen.com, for the GIF.

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Nebraska's Quincy Enunwa Scores a 99-Yard Touchdown in the Gator Bowl

It's early in 2014, but we already have the year's longest touchdown reception. Nebraska's Quincy Enunwa caught a 99-yard pass from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. against Georgia for a new Gator Bowl record.

The touchdown did more than just give the Badgers a comfortable lead against the Bulldogs, though. 

Quincy Enunwa 12th receiving TD of the season. That breaks the Nebraska single-season record, previously set by Johnny Rodgers in 1971.

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 1, 2014

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Is Mark Dantonio the Most Underrated Coach in College Football?

When you talk about the most successful coaches in the Big Ten right now, there's a few names that come to mind. 

Urban Meyer at Ohio State has only lost one game in his two years in Columbus. Bo Pelini has had plenty of success at Nebraska, a school that is wrapping up its third season in the conference. 

But there's only one name that is far and above the rest in the Big Ten. And that's Mark Dantonio

Yet, nobody seems to think that he's part of the upper echelon of college coaches. 

In seven seasons as the head coach of the Spartans, Dantonio has made a bowl game in each, including this year's Rose Bowl. He's won 11 or more games three times and he's in the midst of his best season. 

His 30 wins in the past three years surpass the likes of Bill Snyder, David Cutcliffe and Brian Kelly. Those guys have either won or been nominated for national head coach of the year honors.

Yet, Dantonio has only won the Big Ten Coach of the Year award twice, including this season. Dantonio isn't even in any serious discussions for any national awards this season. 

Since 2007—the year Dantonio took over at Michigan State—here's some of the head coaches that have won Big Ten Coach of the Year: Ron Zook (2007), Joe Paterno (2008), Kirk Ferentz (2009) and Brady Hoke (2011). 

Zook and Paterno have since been fired. Ferentz has won only 19 games in the past three seasons and Hoke has never beaten Dantonio. 

What's most shocking about Dantonio's reputation lies in his salary. According to USA Today, he ranks just 51st among FBS coaches with his $1.95 million total pay in 2013. That ranks lower than Mark Stoops at Kentucky, Jim Grobe at Wake Forest and Sonny Dykes at California. 

Dantonio has built a model of consistency and a powerhouse program at Michigan State. But nobody seems to give the Spartans credit. Michigan State didn't even crack the top 10 of the AP Poll this season until Week 15. 

It's time to recognize Dantonio as one of the best coaches in all of college football. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

South Carolina Quarterback Connor Shaw Catches a TD Pass on a Trick Play

Steve Spurrier is getting even trickier in 2014. South Carolina took a 13-7 lead on Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl on this trick play in which wide receiver Bruce Ellington threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Connor Shaw. 

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Texas A&M Football Recruiting: 9 Players to Watch in High School All-Star Games

With the annual high school Army All-American Bowl and Under Armour All-American Game kicking off soon, Bleacher Report delves into Texas A&M's commitments and targets competing in the top-flight high school matchups. 

Ranging from the nation's top quarterback prospect to multiple defenders from cornerback to linebacker, the Aggies continue to own not only one of the nation's top classes, but also one of its more diverse groups. They currently rank fifth nationally amongst all programs.  

 

*All Rankings Courtesy 247sports.com

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Grading the 2014 Army All-American Bowl Uniforms

Thanks to Adidas, both the East and West squads will come out with some fresh new uniforms for the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday (1 p.m. ET on NBC).

The uniforms unveiled are Adidas’ new TECHFIT football uniforms. It’s only fitting that the nation’s premier high school football all-star game is paired with one of the game’s premier jersey manufacturers. 

But did Adidas deliver this time around?

Join B/R as we take a closer look at each uniform and grade each feature.

 

Author's Note: For more pictures of the uniforms, check Adidas' Facebook page

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Teddy Bridgewater Officially Announces He Will Enter 2014 NFL Draft

Highly touted Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has officially announced his decision to forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL draft, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy:

The 21-year-old signal-caller caught the eye of NFL scouts during his three seasons with the Cardinals, throwing for 7,688 yards and 58 touchdowns over his past two seasons.

Bridgewater has been projected as the top quarterback in this year's class by many, including Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, and a lock to have his name called in the first round of May's draft.    

The 6'3", 205-pound passer demonstrated tremendous pocket presence throughout his time at Louisville and also showcased the poise and decision-making skills NFL higher-ups love to see. Bridgewater only threw four interceptions in 2013 and improved on that mark in each season.

Bridgewater's command of the offense over the past three years has resulted in tremendous team success for Louisville. The Miami native didn't earn his first career start until the fourth game of his freshman year, but he led the Cardinals to a bowl game in each of his three seasons at the helm, including a 12-win season in 2013.

If there's a knock on Bridgewater, it's that he rarely got an opportunity to showcase his talents against college football's top programs. However, he did lead the Cardinals to an upset win over the Florida Gators in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 266 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in Louisville's 10-point victory.

To put the performance in perspective, Florida finished the 2012 season ranked fifth nationally in total defense.

Although a lot can change from now until May 8, Bridgewater appears to have a good chance of being selected No. 1 overall. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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Under Armour All America Game 2014: 10 Best Recruits to Watch

Dozens of premier college football prospects swarm to St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday afternoon for the annual Under Armour All America Game. Players from every corner of the country compete at Tropicana Field in front of a national audience, as 4 p.m. kickoff takes center stage on ESPN.

Team rosters are brimming with future national stars and potential NFL standouts. We rank the top 10 recruits from an impressive collection of elite talent.

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Florida State's Biggest X-Factor in 2014 BCS National Championship Game

Nick O'Leary, the Florida State Seminoles' tight end, is the player flying under the national radar who can truly change the complexion of the BCS National Championship Game. The junior is a weapon with good skills who, after teams load up in coverage to stop FSU's talented wide receiving group, is often left open in big spots.

Entering this game, the big story is how Florida State will stop Auburn's highly touted rushing attack. Folks are wondering if the Seminoles get enough bodies in the box to stop the Tigers' multifaceted attack. On the other side, quarterback Jameis Winston, the Heisman winner, presents a challenge to Auburn's struggling pass defense.

Barrett Sallee, B/R's SEC lead writer, hits on C.J. Uzomah as Auburn's X-factor, and the big, physical red-zone threat certainly presents a challenge. A look across the field shows a player with more production and a lot more comfort in the scheme. That comfort is going to cause problems for Auburn as it focuses its efforts on stopping receivers like Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw.

Head coach and play-caller Jimbo Fisher uses O'Leary in myriad ways to create opportunities and give Winston somewhere to go with the ball when he is in trouble. Here, against Pittsburgh to start the season, Winston targets O'Leary because he sees the coverage rolling away from the tight end and knows there will be space to make a play.

Auburn is no stranger to coverage issues. Here, against Georgia, Chris Davis is lined up over tight end Arthur Lynch and the Tigers are going to play man coverage with one-high safety in the back-end.

Davis bites on the play action and instead of doing his job on Lynch, flows toward the line of scrimmage allowing the tight end to get a free run on the corner route.

The result is a touchdown for the Bulldogs.

Winston has a knack for finding O'Leary when he's in a bad spot. There's a reason the tight end had 33 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns this season: He is reliable. O'Leary finds space and makes himself a target better than any tight end the Tigers have seen in 2013. Against Maryland, he works the sideline, makes a sure-handed catch and scores one of his two touchdowns for the day. 

In addition to focusing on stopping the three leading receivers, each above 900 yards for the season, Auburn will have to remember that O'Leary can be a problem. Robenson Therezie, Ryan Smith, Cassanova McKinzy, Kris Frost and Jake Holland will all find themselves with O'Leary in their area at some point during the game and will have to make plays.

Letting the Seminole tight end run free across the formation, as Alabama's O.J. Howard does here, is a recipe for an easy first down.

O'Leary is very much another arrow in Winston's quiver. If Auburn feeds Florida State mismatches at the tight end, Fisher and his offense will gobble them up. If Auburn sells out to stop the pass, expect heavy doses on the ground, another element where O'Leary, a physical football player, also comes into play. O'Leary will play a critical role in this ballgame and if he gets loose a few times, that is bad news.

Oh, and covering him is just a start. Auburn, a team that has missed tackles in spots, still has to get the bruiser down on the ground. 

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Penn State Reportedly Names Larry Johnson Interim Head Football Coach

Larry Johnson has reportedly taken over as interim head coach of Penn State.

According to Bob Flounders of PennLive.com:

A source close to the PSU program told PennLive Wednesday that Johnson has been named interim head coach and he has been charged with the task of keeping the Lions' impressive 2014 recruiting class together as National Letter of Intent Day (Feb. 5), the first day a recruit can sign for his scholarship, approaches.

Johnson will maintain contact with all of the PSU verbal commitments (19), the source said. The Lions' top prospects include defensive lineman Thomas Holley, quarterback Michael O'Connor and wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Derek Levarse of The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre is a fan of Johnson taking over in an interim role and believes that this is a deserved honor for the coach.

This comes after news of Bill O'Brien's impending departure to the NFL to become the next head coach of the Houston Texans. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported O'Brien will receive a five-year deal from the team.

Flounders reported that James Franklin of Vanderbilt and Al Golden of Miami are among the names on Penn State's shortlist.

Although the Nittany Lions don't have any games until the 2014 college football season, it's important to at least have somebody in the head-coaching role in order to maintain some continuity. It can also calm potential recruits' concerns before a more permanent option is selected and ensure they don't think about signing elsewhere.   

Johnson has spent 18 years at the school, 14 of which have come as the defensive line coach. Having coached under both O'Brien and Joe Paterno, he is well-versed in Penn State football, so he'll offer a steady hand for the time being.

In addition, Johnson is no stranger to the recruiting trail. He's long been one of PSU's best recruiters and has already helped to reel in plenty among the 2014 class.

According to 247Sports, the Nittany Lions have the 17th-best class in the country at the moment, and it will be important to hold onto those recruits if they want to continue the rebuilding effort started by O'Brien.

While O'Brien's departure could have been proved troublesome for the school, Penn State looks to have secured at least its short-term future by naming Johnson as his interim successor.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Game Schedule 2014: How to Watch Remainder of College Postseason

New Year's Day is no longer the biggest day in college football, but it is still pretty important. Aside from two BCS bowl games, there are four other postseason matchups taking place. Four teams ranked in the Top 25 are in action.

The earlier New Year's Day games have a distinct SEC vs. Big Ten feel.

To begin things, the No. 22-ranked Georgia Bulldogs take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. The Bulldogs defeated Nebraska, 45-31, in the Capital One Bowl last season.

However, Nebraska will be seeking a big one for its college football program, as ESPN Stats & Info highlights:

Nebraska is playing in its 50th bowl game all-time and looking for its 25th bowl win.

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 1, 2014

Also, UNLV battles North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, presented by Plains Capital Bank at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Later in the day, business really picks up. 

In another SEC vs. Big Ten game, the No. 16-ranked LSU Tigers will face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Tigers head coach Les Miles has his focus set on Iowa's linebackers in this matchup:

Les Miles: "Iowa's linebackers are always in position. They're physical and fast." #Hawkeyes

— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) December 29, 2013

In the third and final SEC vs. Big Ten tilt, the No. 9-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks play the 19th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Bowl. The game takes place in the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. and could be the final college football game for Gamecocks star Jadeveon Clowney.

On Wednesday evening, the BCS games begin. The No. 5-ranked Michigan State Spartans will face the No. 4-ranked Stanford Cardinal in the 100th Rose Bowl from Pasadena, Calif.

In the final game of the evening, the No. 15-ranked UCF Knights will try to pull the major upset in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Knights take on the No. 6-ranked Baylor Bears at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

This one could be one of the biggest blowouts of the bowl season. Baylor and its top-ranked offense look to have far too much firepower for the Knights—on paper at least. We'll have to see how things shake out when the two teams are between the lines.

Want to know where and how to watch the remaining bowl games this postseason? Take a look below.

 

Follow me for news and opinions on sports.

 

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