NCAA Football

College Football Rankings 2014: Final Overview of Preseason NCAA Polls

It hasn't taken long for college football to regain its spot on the country's sports radar. Things have gotten off to a fast and fun-filled start.

The No. 9-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks have already been upset, and it's just the first week of a brand new college football season. The No. 21-ranked Texas A&M Aggies don't look to be missing a beat after Johnny Manziel made the jump to the NFL.

Sophomore Kenny Hill went bananas on the Gamecocks on Thursday night with a school-record 511 passing yards in a 52-28 Aggies' win. No. 18 Mississippi, No. 19 Arizona State and No. 8 Michigan State all won in early Week 1 action.

Here's one final look at the preseason polls before the first in-season update on Monday, per ESPN.com.

 

AP Top 25 Rank Team Record Points 1 Florida State (57) 0-0 1496 2 Alabama (1) 0-0 1361 3 Oregon (1) 0-0 1334 4 Oklahoma (1) 0-0 1324 5 Ohio State 0-0 1207 6 Auburn 0-0 1198 7 UCLA 0-0 1106 8 Michigan State 1-0 1080 9 South Carolina 0-1 1015 10 Baylor 0-0 966 11 Stanford 0-0 885 12 Georgia 0-0 843 13 LSU 0-0 776 14 Wisconsin 0-0 637 15 USC 0-0 626 16 Clemson 0-0 536 17 Notre Dame 0-0 445 18 Ole Miss 1-0 424 19 Arizona State 1-0 357 20 Kansas State 0-0 242 21 Texas A&M 1-0 238 22 Nebraska 0-0 226 23 North Carolina 0-0 194 24 Missouri 0-0 134 25 Washington 0-0 130

 

Other Teams That Could Lose to Lower or Unseeded Squads in Week 1

No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs

The Georgia Bulldogs and No. 16 Clemson Tigers renew season-opening acquaintances this year without a few familiar faces. 

Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd are no longer the men under center, and Sammy Watkins won't be dazzling fans of college football this year.

Even with the departures of those outstanding players, both the Bulldogs and Tigers have a good sum of returning talent. Georgia is returning 15 of its 22 starters from last season, and that includes preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley.

Clemson only has 11 returning starters, but four of them are on the defensive line.

The team will be without Corey Crawford. The defensive end was suspended for a game for infractions earlier in the year.

Even without him, the Tigers D-line could give Gurley and the Bulldogs offensive line a problem. Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley are a handful, and if they can help win the battle upfront, the Tigers have a good chance to pull the upset.

Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt finally has the chance to step out of Boyd's shadow, and he and his teammates seem prepared to make a name for themselves.

Per Associated Press (h/t Fox News), Stoudt talked about the mentality of his teammates on the offensive side of the ball:

"They came into fall camp with different edge because nobody was talking about the guys that are here." 

With a spirited performance from Stoudt and Co., Clemson could grab a huge win on the road in Week 1.

 

No. 13 LSU Tigers

Normally losing to a team ranked just one notch below wouldn't be that big of a deal, but because LSU hasn't lost a regular-season non-conference game in 12 years, a loss to No. 14 Wisconsin would be noteworthy.

The game will be held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Tigers' fans figure to travel well, but it still won't be the same as playing in Baton Rouge.

LSU is returning only 13 starters from last year's squad, and more importantly, there's a lack of experience at quarterback. Sophomore Anthony Jennings is the man for LSU, but is he prepared to be thrown into the fire this early in the season? 

The Badgers won't exactly have a wealth of experience at quarterback themselves. Converted safety/wide receiver Tanner McEvoy will get the nod for Wisconsin.

Because of the lack of experience at quarterback, the winner of this game could be determined by the squad that is best able to establish the run.

There are two very good running backs in this one. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon could be considered a dark horse for the Heisman. He was second in the Big Ten last season in rushing.

Gordon figures to be the focal point of Wisconsin's attack. Highly touted freshman Leonard Fournette is set to get his first college carries for LSU. This should be a good, old-fashioned competition between two storied programs.

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College Football Picks Week 1: Final Predictions on Odds for Top 25 Matchups

The long summer lull has finally ended with the start of college football in 2014. There have been a few games already, but everyone knows that Saturday is the day to sit in front of your television from noon until you fall asleep in the middle of the night with West Coast games on. 

It's also the first opportunity we have to evaluate the early-season favorites against competition. As is always the case, some Top 25 teams have opted to take a matchup that is a glorified preseason game. Others are giving themselves an early challenge to see how far along they are. 

Whatever the games may look like, the excitement will be off the charts simply because football season has started. We have some more excitement to offer with odds and predictions for the Top 25 teams in Week 1. 

 

Favorites on Upset Alert

No. 5 Ohio State (at Navy)

Even with the absence of Braxton Miller, Ohio State is still a big favorite going on the road against Navy. It's not a surprise because Urban Meyer has been able to recruit a lot of talent to the Buckeyes. 

However, the oddsmakers are underselling what Navy has become as a program. The Midshipmen have won at least eight games in 10 of the last 11 years and have averaged more than 300 rushing yards per game two of the last three seasons. 

Not surprisingly, the key to this game will be Ohio State finding a rhythm in the passing game with redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett playing in his first game since high school two years ago. 

Barrett certainly isn't acting like a freshman around his teammates, according to Austin Ward of ESPN.com:

While the Buckeyes haven’t yet heard him in a game or seen what he can do on the field for a team with College Football Playoff aspirations, they’ve had the better part of a year to get used to him in Miller’s place on the practice field and also had plenty of time during his redshirt season to learn how Barrett carries himself. And to a man, the entire program has come away raving about his leadership skills, maturity -- and when it’s time to stop talking, his physical tools. 

All of the talk about what Barrett is like off the field is nice, but performance between the lines on Saturday is what matters most. He's going to endure some growing pains early, which could allow Navy to sneak in and get the win. 

Ultimately, because the Buckeyes have more talent and a huge defensive line anchored by star defensive tackle Michael Bennett that will contain Navy's rushing attack, it's hard to predict an upset. 

But if Barrett struggles out of the gate and allows the Midshipmen to jump out to an early lead and control the clock, things will get very interesting. 

 

No. 12 Georgia (vs. No. 16 Clemson)

While it doesn't seem like going out on a limb to project an upset in a game between two teams ranked in the Top 20, keep in mind that Clemson is replacing its starting quarterback (Tajh Boyd), top two receivers (Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant) and best cornerback (Bashaud Breeland). 

Georgia, meanwhile, stands to benefit from last year's rash of injuries that doomed its season, because all of those young players and backups got valuable experience to prepare for this year. 

Where Clemson shines, though, is on defense. Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com talked about Dabo Swinney's returning group, led by All-American defensive end Vic Beasley, in a preview for this game:

But it is impossible to overlook this defense, which should be the strength of this team going into the season. 

That means advantage Clemson. Think about it. If you had to open the season on the road against a Top 25 team, would you want a stronger offense or stronger defense? 

Georgia running back Todd Gurley is generating a lot of preseason Heisman buzz and torched Clemson for 154 yards on just 12 carries last year, but the passing game is a question mark for the Bulldogs. Aaron Murray graduated, transferring power to senior Hutson Mason. He did appear in four games last year, starting the last two after Murray tore his ACL. 

However, the difference between Georgia Tech's and Nebraska's defense last season and Clemson right now is stark. The Tigers have the impact pass-rusher off the edge to make life miserable for Mason. 

 

No. 13 LSU (vs. No. 14 Wisconsin)

In another case where two ranked teams doesn't necessarily make for a sexy upset pick, Wisconsin will be carrying the torch for the often-mocked Big Ten against the traditional SEC powerhouse, LSU. 

The Tigers are five-point favorites, but Les Miles' group has a lot of questions to answer and a really good team on the other side of the field to do it against. Their biggest dilemma is trying to figure out the quarterback position.

Miles is going with a two-quarterback system in the opener, giving Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris opportunities to play. However, per CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, the LSU head coach didn't sound ecstatic about either player: "Right now, if there was a quarterback who gave us all the advantages to play, then at some point in time that would be our starter." 

Wisconsin is going to break in a new quarterback as well. Gary Andersen is going into his second season as head coach with transfer Tanner McEvoy as his signal-caller. It's a bold risk to take with Joel Stave returning after starting every game for the Badgers last year. 

The Badgers may not have a proven quarterback, but at least they have enough confidence in one to make a call. In a game between two teams that are otherwise evenly matched, the difference under center is huge. 

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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Preseason College Football Rankings 2014: Teams That'll Validate Hype in Week 1

Experts think they know which teams will dominate college football on a yearly basis, but nothing is for certain until they actually take the field.

The season is now officially underway, and the bulk of the teams ranked in the Top 25 will have an opportunity to show what they can do on Saturday.

Some ranked teams are bound to lose, but others will definitively prove that they are forces to be reckoned with. Conference titles and bowls can't be won in the first week of the season; however, they can often be lost.

Here are three teams in particular that will validate the preseason hype and get the year started in ideal fashion.

 

College Football Rankings

 

Teams to Watch in Week 1

Florida State

On the heels of an undefeated season in which it won the national championship, expectations for Florida State are through the roof. Although the Seminoles did lose some key players to the NFL, there is still a great deal of talent in place for head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston tops the list at quarterback, and he will likely be the biggest key to Florida State's success once again in 2014. The Seminoles' first test in terms of establishing themselves as title favorites will come on Saturday night against Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys aren't ranked in the top 25, but they have consistently been among the nation's best teams in recent years, and they aren't to be taken lightly.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Florida State will be to avoid complacency. Almost every win came easily for the 'Noles last year, as evidenced by this statistic courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info:

Being that dominant probably isn't sustainable over the course of two seasons. Florida State should certainly strive to reach that level, but the players have to understand that there will be some major challenges along the way.

Oklahoma State is an ideal team to start with since it went 10-3 last year but isn't necessarily among the elites in 2014. Florida State will look to make a statement in its first game since winning the national championship, and it will do so by beating the Pokes in fairly convincing fashion.

 

Oklahoma

After shocking Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl to cap off last season, Oklahoma is very much in the College Football Playoff mix. The Sooners are favored to win the Big 12, and they have the horses on both sides of the ball to vie for a national title.

Few gave Oklahoma a chance to beat the Crimson Tide last season, but quarterback Trevor Knight came of age in that game. In just the fifth start of his career, he passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns against one of the country's most dominant defenses.

Asking Knight to put up those numbers on a weekly basis is a bit too much, but he is looking forward to the challenges that 2014 will present, per Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (h/t NCAA.com):

It was fun to play like that and get a big win. But now, the Sugar Bowl is a baseline for us. That's the foundation. You want to build off that and get better every game. ... We're back on top, preseason No. 1 in the Big 12, and that's where we want to be. You come to Oklahoma to play in big games and have those predictions and to live up to them.

Oklahoma's season will begin Saturday with what should amount to a tune-up game against Louisiana Tech. The Sooners can afford to take their opponent lightly, but there isn't much of an upset threat present in this contest.

Sooner fans will essentially look for Knight and the offense to find a rhythm, and for the defense to be stout as it traditionally is. As long as those things happen, there will be plenty of excitement surrounding the Sooners after the opening week.

 

UCLA

There is no question that UCLA is among the most intriguing teams in the country this season. The Bruins are coming off a 10-win season, and they are possibly the biggest threat to knock Oregon from its perch atop the Pac-12.

Potential first-round NFL draft pick Brett Hundley is UCLA's biggest weapon. The dual-threat quarterback racked up over 3,800 total yards and 35 touchdowns for the Bruins in 2013. If his steady improvement continues in 2014, he will clearly be among the top Heisman Trophy candidates in the nation.

Along with Hundley, Myles Jack is bound to make life miserable for the opposition. Jack is primarily a linebacker, but he also lined up at running back last season and scored seven touchdowns in the process. No player in the country has as big of an impact on both sides of the ball as Jack does, which makes him a Heisman dark horse in his own right.

The one thing working against UCLA is that it hasn't proved to be a dominant team over multiple seasons. In fact, 2013 marked the Bruins' first double-digit win campaign since 2005. With so little winning experience on the team, Dan Wolken of USA Today views them as a somewhat unprecedented entity:

UCLA will have a chance to prove that it is for real in Week 1 against a tricky Virginia team. The Cavaliers were extremely poor last year in going 2-10, but they have a lot of talent on defense and are bound to improve.

Even so, this figures to be a showcase game for Hundley and the Bruins, and it will establish them as College Football Playoff contenders.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Braxton Miller Injury Update: Latest Comments, Recovery Notes Before OSU v Navy

When Ohio State takes the field Saturday for the first time this season against Navy, it will do so without quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller.

The explosive signal-caller suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder during practice on Aug. 18, and it was determined that he will miss the entire 2014 campaign, according to ESPN.com.

That is obviously a huge blow to the Buckeyes as they enter the season as the No. 5 team in the country with national championship aspirations as well. Those dreams aren't crushed yet, but they will unquestionably be far more difficult to attain.

On the plus side, Miller has since undergone surgery and started his recovery in hopes of getting back to full health for the 2015 slate. Per ESPN Big Ten on Twitter, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer revealed that the surgery went as expected:

Following the procedure, Miller posted a photo of himself with Dr. James Andrews on his Instagram account and relayed a positive message as well:

"Me & the best to do it , Dr. Andrews after surgery today! So happy this man said everything went well!" 

Despite the fact that Miller is on the shelf, he was still voted one of the Buckeyes' team captains for 2014, according to Meyer:

Per ESPN.com's Austin Ward, Meyer plans to use Miller as a captain throughout the season, although he won't be present for the opener at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore against the Midshipmen.

"He'll be one of the 70 (on the travel roster this season) if he can go," Meyer said. "He won't be able to go this time, but there will be times where we'll have to make that decision."

It would be easy for someone in Miller's position to pout and have a woe-is-me attitude, but that seemingly hasn't been the case at all. Miller has said all the right things and even shared an inspirational message on his Twitter account:

Even though a return in 2014 is out of the question, Miller is excited about his future prospects at Ohio State. Since his red shirt is still in play, Miller currently plans to return to the program next season in an attempt to lead the Buckeyes to a title, according to Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch.

I love Ohio State and Buckeye Nation, and my goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever. I am on course to graduate in December and I want to attend graduate school, and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season. ... In the meantime, I want to give all the support I can to my coaches and teammates as they chase a championship this season.

It remains to be seen how quickly Miller will be able to recover from surgery, but he will be afforded plenty of time to do so. Since he has already been shut down for the season, his sole focus can now be on rehabilitation and playing in 2015.

Being without Miller this year is obviously unfortunate for Buckeyes fans, but it gives them something to get excited about for next season. Ohio State's window of opportunity will stay open for an extra year, and it still has a chance to compete for a Big Ten crown in 2014 as well.

With Miller out of the picture for now, red-shirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett will take the reins. He has big expectations to live up to, but he is also surrounded by a strong supporting cast.

The pressure of being compared to an elite talent like Miller won't be easy, however, it hasn't been uncommon for red-shirt freshman quarterbacks to make a big splash in recent years.

Miller won't be on the field this season, but he could be a valuable commodity in terms of helping Barrett understand what it means to be Ohio State's quarterback.

Barrett will be on his own this weekend against Navy, though, and it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first career start.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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BYU vs. UConn: Game Grades, Analysis for Cougars

Is it too early to start the Taysom Hill Heisman Trophy campaign?

The BYU signal-caller was absolutely surgical in the 35-10 victory over the UConn Huskies on Friday night in East Hartford, Connecticut. Hill threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns. It was a career-high five touchdowns in one game for the Idaho native.

There were considerable questions heading into the game for Bronco Mendenhall's team. 

The suspensions of Jamaal Williams, Devon Blackmon, Jordan Johnson and Robertson Daniel did not make the long trip to Connecticut easy. Williams is the team's best running back, and the duo of Daniel and Johnson start as the corners in the Cougars' secondary.

However, the combination of Hill and Alge Brown led a dominating rush attack. BYU also relinquished only 282 yards through the air versus the quarterback tandem of Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer. 

BYU will look to use this game as a launching pad forward with the hopes of playing in a big bowl game. 

Final stats from the game can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

Check out our first-half and final game grades for the Cougars. Additional analysis for different position units will also be addressed. 

 

BYU Cougars Game Analysis

Pass Offense: Hill was clicking on all cylinders from the start of the contest. He went a sizzling 17-of-20 in the first half, making decisive throws and smart decisions. 

The talented signal-caller finished 28-of-36 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Although he sputtered a bit in the third quarter, it was patently apparent Hill has improved in his mechanics throwing the football. He certainly looked more comfortable in the pocket as opposed to a year ago. If he continues on this trajectory, he'll be in the hunt for postseason honors. 

 

Run Offense: Unsurprisingly, a large chunk of the rush attack fell on the shoulders (and legs) of the aforementioned quarterback. He led the team with 97 yards on the ground. Alge Brown and Paul Lasike also contributed with a combined 76 yards on the ground. 

In the absence of Jamaal Williams, the group rushed for 197 yards on 35 carries. The 5.6 yards per carry average was buoyed by a strong effort of the offensive line. 

 

Pass Defense: Without its two starting corners, BYU did do an admirable job. It only allowed 282 yards through the air on the evening. 

There were a few busted coverages, but the unit didn't allow many big plays. If anything, Mendenhall has to be pleased with the possibility of building depth within the unit. This game will give experience to some of the younger members of the secondary. 

 

Run Defense: The BYU defensive front led by Bronson Kaufusi did a very nice job against the beleaguered UConn front. The Cougars held UConn to 72 yards on 32 carries. This equates out to a 2.3 yards per carry average. 

BYU did a fantastic job of plugging the holes up front. Gap integrity was sound, as was the tackling of the ball carriers across the board. 

 

Special Teams: The effort was decent for the most part. Mitchell Juergens looked explosive and dangerous as a returner. He gives BYU a nice element in that capacity. 

Kicker Trevor Samson missed a chip shot 33-yard field goal in the second half. Punter Scott Arellano looked good with his rugby style punting. He had a long of 51 yards. 

 

Coaching: Mendenhall called a very good first half. The offense looked dynamic, and the defense held UConn to seven points. In the third quarter, the staff got a bit too conservative with the play-calling. 

If one considers penalties a sign of coaching, Mendenhall's grade could be significantly lower. BYU was victimized by 15 penalties for an eye-popping 150 yards. There's simply no excuse for this lack of maturity and discipline. 

Mendenhall's team did win by 25 points. It'd be difficult to give him a grade worse than a "B."

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Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt Ejected from Game vs. Villanova for Throwing Punch

A basketball game between Syracuse and Villanova would theoretically turn more heads than a football game, but Friday night’s showdown created a stir nonetheless. Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com indicates Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt was ejected after punching an opponent:

Josh Sanchez, an editor at Fansided, captured the play:

Before the ejection, Hunt was 10-of-17 for 94 passing yards and added 25 yards on the ground. The defender that he punched came in from behind as the Orange’s quarterback was going down and made contact with his facemask, but the punch was clearly an overreaction.

Simply put, the Orange needed a win in this contest if we look at the rest of their schedule.

This is Syracuse’s second season in the ACC, and there are plenty of difficult games on the horizon. In fact, the Orange have to play defending champion Florida State, Notre Dame, Maryland and Clemson, among others, so picking up a victory over Villanova could prove critical in terms of becoming bowl eligible.

Winning would have been much easier with Hunt in the lineup, although he probably wasn’t thinking about that in the heat of the moment. He was the Texas Bowl MVP against Minnesota in December and entered the 2014 campaign with plenty of momentum.

Hunt commented on the improvements he hoped to make this year before the game, via Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com:

I think I played mediocre last year. Some people may say it was successful, some may not. But I think I played mediocre. It wasn't to where I set my goals.

Being able to come in with your head held high, rather than not knowing who the starter is going to be, that's going to make a big difference.

It will be intriguing to see if this punch results in a suspension going forward.

Syracuse plays at Central Michigan and then faces former ACC foe Maryland in the next two games. Hunt could use that time to improve his craft before conference play starts, although it remains to be seen whether he will be on the field.

Stay tuned for updates as they develop.

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Jacksonville State Football Player Caleb Lawrence Needs a New Jersey

Jacksonville State football opened their season against No. 8 Michigan State, and it looks like one of their linemen could use a larger jersey. 

As Caleb Lawrence entered the game, he had quite a bit of bare midriff that was clearly the result of a jersey that was not the appropriate size.

Judging from his team photo, however, he's OK with this look.

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Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech Agree on New Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Texas Tech is keeping head coach Kliff Kingsbury around for the long haul, the school announced:

National college sports writer Bryan Fischer and Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports initially filled fans in on the details:

Kliff Kingsbury led the Red Raiders to an 8-5 record in 2013 and topped it off with an impressive 37-23 victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. Texas Tech actually got off to a perfect 7-0 start and looked like a serious Big 12 title contender before faltering down the stretch and losing five games in a row.

Included in that stretch was a heartbreaking 38-30 loss to Oklahoma and a blowout 41-16 loss to rival Texas. However, winning the Holiday Bowl helped Texas Tech finish the season on a positive note and likely contributed to the contract extension Kingsbury received.

Kingsbury is only 35 years old and played at Texas Tech as a quarterback. He was drafted 201st overall by the New England Patriots in the 2003 draft but never really caught on as a professional signal-caller.

Still, he is one of the up-and-comers on the college football coaching scene and often receives far more attention than his team does. He has been called a rock star coach, is friends with Tom Brady and has a canning resemblance to actor Ryan Gosling.

He discussed all the attention recently, via Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News: “I’d rather it be about our players. I know a lot of it gets pushed toward me. That’s my biggest deal. Our players are the ones playing, working their butts off. Once the wins come, it will fade that way.”

Texas Tech made sure to lock up its superstar coach, especially since the school sold out of season tickets for the first time in school history after his debut season.

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5 Most Important Flips of the 2015 College Football Recruiting Season

Perspective is an important part of the recruiting process, which take teams through peaks and valleys all the way through national signing day on an annual basis. When an athlete verbally commits to a college program, whether he's a high school senior or eighth-grader, that decision is entirely non-binding for both parties.

Coaching staff changes, philosophical differences and family influence are just a few of the variables that come into play when prospects reconsider where they want to spend the next four or five years of their life. A commitment announcement never closes the door on other possibilities, as other recruiting departments remain in relentless pursuit of players regardless of their pledge to another school.

We've seen plenty of stunning decision reversals over the years and this cycle has supplied more of the dramatic change-of-heart moments we've come to expect on the path to national signing day. Here's a look at five commitment flips that greatly impacted two teams and created a domino effect across the entire 2015 class.

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Anthony Jennings Reportedly Will Start LSU's 2014 Season Opener vs. Wisconsin

LSU head coach Les Miles has his man for the Tigers' opening-week showdown with Wisconsin. Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com filled fans in on the details:

“LSU sophomore Anthony Jennings will start at quarterback for the Tigers in their season opening game against Wisconsin here Saturday, a source close to LSU told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.”

Jennings won the starting quarterback gig over freshman Brandon Harris in a tightly contested battle during spring practice and fall training camp. Miles actually commented on the signal-caller competition during the SEC coach teleconference, via a separate Kleinpeter report:

It's not something without conception. We understand it. It's (the plan) not something I'm going to reveal. I don't think there's any tremendous magic to it. Both will play.

If a guy separates himself from the other over time we'll certainly give him the nod. He'll be our starter. At this point we'll play two and we're confident in both.

Jennings clearly had the experience edge after playing in nine games last year and starting in the Outback Bowl victory over Iowa. While he only threw for 82 yards and an interception in the bowl game, he did come off the bench to lead a 99-yard, game-winning drive against Arkansas during the regular season.

As for Harris, he impressed during spring practice after enrolling early and actually threw for 195 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 77 yards and one touchdown in the spring game.

Still, Miles gave the nod to the experience before this critical contest against Big Ten contender Wisconsin.

Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports gave his opinion on the quarterback situation and whether LSU will play both competitors:

Of course, just because Jennings is going to start the game, that doesn't mean that Brandon Harris won't see the field. You have to think that if the competition during camp was close enough that it was just decided in the last week that Miles would consider using the four-star recruit should Jennings get off to a rough start.

Jennings will have his work cut out for him against the Badgers, who finished fifth in the nation against the run last year and sixth in scoring defense. However, they lost the majority of their front seven, including superstar linebacker Chris Borland, so there will be some new faces on that end of the field as well.

Jennings will certainly have the pressure on his shoulders considering LSU has College Football Playoff aspirations this season.

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UConn vs. BYU: Live Score and Highlights

BYU 35, UConn 10; FINAL

The BYU Cougars upended the UConn Huskies impressively by a score of 35-10. Quarterback Taysom Hill accounted for 435 yards of total offense. 

Mike Diaco's debut as UConn's head coach didn't go too smoothly. Questions at quarterback and up front will have to be answered in the upcoming weeks. 

A box score of the game can be found here at NCAA.com. 

Bleacher Report appreciates you tuning in with us tonight! Have a pleasant weekend!

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Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Florida State Seminoles: Complete Game Preview

The Oklahoma State Cowboys will begin their 2014-15 season with arguably their toughest game of the year, kicking off the schedule with the Florida State Seminoles, who happen to be the defending national champions.

To say the Pokes have a difficult matchup would be an understatement. The Seminoles return a host of talent along with a star-studded recruiting class. Oh, and they just so happen to have the reigning Heisman trophy winner, Jameis Winston.

Can Oklahoma State pull off a monumental upset this week? Or will Florida State roll over a raw, young Pokes squad? Read on to find out.

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Arkansas vs. Auburn: How Razorbacks Can Upset the Tigers

When Arkansas and Auburn square off on Saturday, don’t be surprised if the Razorbacks walk out of Jordan-Hare Stadium reaping the seeds of victory.

No, that isn’t a misprint, nor is it a Skip Bayless-esque prediction of any sort. Instead, it’s merely piggybacking onto the point that any team can win on any given Saturday in college football. One only needs to refer to Thursday night when Texas A&M and Rutgers defeated opponents who were favored to win.

Here’s how Arkansas can do the unthinkable come Saturday.

 

Get Out In Front Early

It may be cliché, but against Auburn, it will be vital for the Razorbacks to do just that.

Also playing to their advantage is the fact that the Tigers will be without starting quarterback Nick Marshall and cornerback Jonathon Mincy to begin the game. Both will start the game on the bench due to off-the-field issues but are expected to play later, per The Montgomery Advertiser’sJames Crepea.

With that said, that means Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson will be making his first start against an SEC foe. The sophomore does have a start, but that was against an FCS opponent, Western Carolina. This will be a different animal for Johnson. Will he play it safe or take some risks?

If Arkansas can jump out to a quick score against the Tigers, it could help quiet what should be a raucous crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Follow that up with a defensive stop or two, and momentum could quickly start building on the visitor’s side.

Once that occurs, there’s no telling what could happen.

 

Run, Hogs, Run

If the Razorbacks want to hang around in this game, they will need to open up strong on the ground.

The rushing attack was something of a bright spot for the team a year ago, as Arkansas accumulated 2,504 yards and 14 touchdowns. The team’s marks of 208.7 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry ranked No. 21 and No. 17 in the nation, respectively.

With another year under their belt, Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams should be a lot more explosive and productive in the backfield. The duo combined to record eight 100-yard rushing performances a year ago; they easily give the Razorbacks one of the best—if not the best—rushing duo in the SEC.

It’s no secret that Auburn is lackadaisical when it comes to rush defense. The team conceded 200 rushing yards or more six times last year. Losing Dee Ford and having Carl Lawson sidelined due to injury isn’t going to help matters much either.

If Arkansas can get Collins and Williams going early, it can really put the pressure on the Tigers.

Consider this: In the Razorback’s three victories last year, the team averaged 294.3 rushing yards per game while finding the end zone six times. Collins and Williams both topped 100 yards on the ground in each of those games.

 

Win the Battle of Special Teams

Yes, Auburn’s standout play from 2013 occurred on special teams. But that doesn’t change the fact that the team will have a lot of rebuilding to do.

For starters, the Tigers will need to replace kicker Cody Parkey and punter Steven Clark. In their places, the team will turn to redshirt freshmen in Daniel Carlson and Jimmy Hutchinson, respectively. Not to mention, Chris Davis—the player who gained headlines for returning the missed field goal for a game-winning touchdown against Alabama—has graduated.

With that said, the Tigers could find themselves in a tough bind if the game comes down to a battle of field position or if Carlson is tasked with kicking a game-winning field goal. 

On the other hand, Arkansas benefits from having Korliss Marshall returning kicks. The sophomore returned 19 kicks last year for 422 yards. If he can break some big ones, he could give the Razorbacks excellent field position, or even better, immediately put points on the scoreboard.

Overall, even if Arkansas executes its game plan to absolute perfection, it will still be a tall task to top Auburn.

Then again, stranger things have happened in college football. Who last year really saw the Tigers’ 2013 coming?

 

All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBStats.com.

Sebastian can be reached on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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Tennessee Football: 5 Stars Who Will Break Out in 2014

With the Tennessee Volunteers' 2014 season only two days away, the team's biggest playmakers will soon begin to emerge, starting with the team's opening game against the Utah State Aggies. 

Although many fans are looking toward the freshmen who enrolled in the winter and spring as the biggest X-factors on the team, some of the most promising stars are those with a year or more of experience under their belts who are poised to take the conference by storm.

For Tennessee to have a successful season and reach a bowl game, it not only needs its freshman class to grow up in a hurry, but it also needs its established stars to become truly dominant at their positions.

Here are five players on the Tennessee roster who have the best chances of becoming breakout stars in 2014. 

 

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4 Bold Predictions for Wisconsin's 2014 Season

With the college football season beginning in earnest on Thursday, now seems like as good a time as any to make bold predictions for Wisconsin's upcoming season.

Questions abound at quarterback with the incumbent Joel Stave being replaced—at least for the first snap of the season, according to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel—by Tanner McEvoy, at receiver with how to replace one of the best in team history in Jared Abbrederis and at linebacker with how to replace one of the best defensive players in history in Chris Borland.

Let's take a look at this year's team and make a handful of bold predictions.

 

Considerable Increase in Team's Interception Total

Last season, the Badgers had nine interceptions. Of those, four came from true freshman Sojourn Shelton. The Badgers return virtually their whole secondary, and freshman Lubern Figaro looks to be an impact player immediately.

Shelton, Darius Hillary and Devin Gaulden provide a formidable trio along with freshman Derrick Tindal, all of whom have shown an ability to force turnovers.

Replacing Dezmen Southward, a third-round pick who was inconsistent at best while wearing cardinal and white, is Figaro. He should form a terrific tandem at safety alongside Michael Caputo.

Furthermore, while Borland was excellent at diagnosing plays, his coverage skills were not the best.

While I am hardly saying Derek Landisch and Michael Trotter will be better than the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, they could still intercept more passes than Borland did—he didn't record an interception in his junior or senior season.

To put a number on it, I'm going to guess the Badgers will pick off 15 passes this season. With more aggressiveness in their front seven, putting more pressure on the quarterback will lead to more interceptions on the back end.

 

Melvin Gordon Will Be Invited to New York

He won't win the Heisman Trophy, though. A big game against LSU on Saturday would do a lot to raise his already-high national profile.

One has to go all the way back to 2009 to find a running back who won the Heisman (Mark Ingram), with the last four winners being quarterbacks.

In a year when guys like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley chose to return along with defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, it will be tough for any running back to break through here. Throw in Georgia's Todd Gurley, and Gordon has a ton of competition for the Heisman.

Even if Walter Football considers Gurley the better pro prospect, I think Gordon has a great chance to grab the most votes of any running back and get a trip to New York.

However, I don't think he will be the third Wisconsin running back—Ron Dayne and Alan Ameche the others—to take home the trophy.

 

Joel Stave Will Start Multiple Games

This is not an indictment of McEvoy, as I think the coaching staff will give him every chance to succeed.

With that being said, Stave has been very good throughout his collegiate career, though he has been a bit inconsistent at times.

Stave has a bigger arm than McEvoy, and while there were plenty of times when Abbrederis got behind the defense only to have to come back to the ball to catch it, Stave was still able to push the ball down the field on play-action passes time and again.

If McEvoy comes out strongly against LSU, with the coaching staff's seemingly strong preference to play a mobile quarterback—a look through whom they have been recruiting gives a good clue—maybe Stave won't get a chance.

Either way, these are bold predictions. Even without an injury, I still see Stave taking the opening snap of multiple games this season.

 

At Least 2 Players with 40-Plus Receptions

One needs to go all the way back to 2011 to find a Badgers team that had a pair of guys with more than 40 receptions. This year, with Abbrederis gone, multiple receivers will need to fill the massive void left by his absence.

Three names to watch are tight end Sam Arneson and receivers Jordan Fredrick and Kenzel Doe.

Arneson has gobbled up touchdowns in his limited reps, snaring four on 10 career receptions, and should be a good red-zone threat for the Badgers.

For the receivers, with eight traveling to Houston, it will be interesting to see whether anyone can really separate themselves enough to make four or five receptions a game. If anyone is able to, it will probably be Fredrick or Doe.

Doe has been inconsistent as a receiver but looked really strong throughout both the spring and fall camps. He will be the No. 1 guy when the Badgers line up on Saturday.

As for Fredrick, who stands 6'4" and 214 pounds, he will get a lot of looks in the slot and his blocking ability will keep him on the field.

If I were to pick two guys from this group to reach or surpass the 40-catch mark, I'd go with Arneson and Fredrick. Depending on how things shake out in the early going, however, we could see as many as six or seven players with 10-plus receptions by the end of the season.

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College Football Picks Week 1: B/R's Expert Predictions for the Top 5 Games

After a wild offseason that included major lawsuits, big time transfers and suspensions, college football fans sure are ready for some real football.

Week 1 surely will not disappoint.

Will Ohio State State struggle against Navy without star quarterback Braxton Miller, or will his replacement, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, step in and carry the Buckeyes to glory?

Who will emerge as the true signal caller for Alabama when the Tide battle West Virginia, Jake Coker or Blake Sims? Dana Holgorsen will aim to play spoiler in the Georgia Dome, but his Mountaineers will have their hands full trying to shut down the Tide’s talented backfield.

Georgia will play host to Clemson, hoping to get revenge for losing in Week 1 a season ago. Both teams will be ushering in new quarterbacks, so this showdown is sure to be an exciting one.

Defending national champions Florida State look to hold off a hungry Oklahoma State team aiming to prove itself on the national stage.

And the fifth marquee game of Week 1 pits LSU vs. Wisconsin in what should be a prime example of how to run the football.

Each week of the 2014 season, Bleacher Report’s college football experts Adam Kramer, Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee, Mark Blaudschun and Ben Kercheval will be making their predictions on the top five games of the week. These five have a strong background in college football and bring great knowledge and insight to readers.

Whether you agree or disagree with our expert picks, be sure to sound off in the comments below!

*All picks made straight up. Spread is not a factor.

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Josh Shaw Investigation: Updates, Details on Injured USC CB

Suspended USC football star Josh Shaw has been coy about the events that led to him jumping out of a second-story balcony, leading to two sprained ankles. The latest update isn't going to make the backlash go away anytime soon. 

According to Gary Holland and Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, Shaw and his girlfriend are being investigated to determine whether they "were involved in a domestic-violence incident."

Capt. John McMahon, head of Central Division patrol, said Friday that Shaw, citing his attorney’s advice, has refused to be interviewed about the case.

“We would have like to hear from Mr. Shaw to provide some clarity about the situation, but that is not going to happen,” said McMahon. “In light of that, our investigation into a possible domestic dispute will continue.”

Donald Etra, Shaw's attorney, is quoted in the report as saying that his client talked "to the LAPD twice. We believe that is enough. The matter is over and there is no need to talk to them further. ... Enough is enough."

McMahon also said that Shaw's girlfriend has spoken to the police and "'did not indicate she was a victim of domestic violence."

Police officer Sara Faden describes in the piece that cops went to a third-floor apartment in downtown Los Angeles on August 23 "after receiving a report of a woman screaming" and officers had to break open the door after no one answered the initial knocks but didn't find anyone inside.

Faden did say that the officers saw “the window had been pried open," and that witnesses said they saw "a man with dreadlocks climbing from the third-floor balcony of the apartment. The woman who resides in the unit then arrived on the scene."

This story comes out days after Shaw was suspended indefinitely from the USC football team after admitting that he lied to the school about the way he suffered the injury.

The original story Shaw told, via Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com, was that he jumped off a second-story balcony and into a pool to save his nephew from drowning. That tale of heroism garnered national attention, including on social media and morning talk shows. 

However, according to Meghan Keneally of ABCNews.com, Shaw's story first started to come apart shortly after his tale of heroism gained steam because "a man named Josh Shaw matching the football player’s description was listed in a police report stemming from a disturbance call."

Shaw's future on the field has never looked less clear, but right now that's the least of his concerns. He's gone from being viewed like a hero and role model to an outcast and pariah in the span of a few days because of this huge lie he concocted. 

It's important to note that this is just an investigation at this point. No one has been charged with anything, nor has anyone been arrested. 

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Darian Roseboro to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star DE Prospect

Given the importance of pass-rushing in today's football world, the news of 4-star defensive end Darian Roseboro committing to Michigan has huge ramifications for the 2015 recruiting class. 

247Sports' Steve Lorenz first broke the news about Roseboro's decision:

As Wolverine247 predicted and many believed, Michigan has secured the commitment of four-star defensive end Darian Roseboro, beating out home-state N.C. State and North Carolina among others for his pledge.

Roseboro, the nation's No. 7 strong-side defensive end recruit and No. 109 prospect overall based on 247Sports' composite ratings, has turned into a pass-rushing monster at Lincolnton High School in North Carolina over the last three years. 

According to 247Sports, Roseboro had more than 30 offers from top programs across the country and was seriously considering six in early August. On that list was Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, North Carolina State, North Carolina and Tennessee. 

He said on Twitter, via Pack Pride, that those were his final six schools and the decision would come at the end of August:

As a freshman, Roseboro was already a beast with 107 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Those are scary numbers for a quality high school senior, let alone a player in his first season at that level. 

Yet when you look at the constant evolution for Roseboro, it's easy to see why power schools like Alabama, Michigan and Clemson were all after him. His performance continued to improve with 107 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2012 to go along with four forced fumbles. He followed that up by posting 125 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a junior. 

Every school across the country needs help rushing the quarterback. Since defensive backs are all but forbidden from touching wide receivers, having a player who can get in the backfield is paramount to success on defense. 

Roseboro brings a ferocious, attacking style and insane athleticism at 6'4", 285 pounds with a 4.64 40-yard time to the next level. The scary thing is, he will only get better with more seasoning and higher-level coaching. 

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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LSU Professor Asks Students to Clean Up Les Miles Quotes for Homework

Some coaches may talk a lot but never provide much useful information. One LSU professor has decided that students can learn how to be clear and concise by translating Tigers coach Les Miles' quotes.

For homework, the instructor asked the students to read through some of Miles' statements and clean them up a bit. The students were asked to translate "coach talk" to concise—and grammatically correct—sentences.

Hopefully the professor will hand over the papers to Miles and let him read through them so he can learn how to get to the point quickly in the future.

[Twitter, h/t SB Nation]

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UCF Unveils Irish-Themed Helmets for Season Opener in Ireland

Central Florida is doing its best to win over fans in Ireland for its season opener against Penn State.

The Knights and the Nittany Lions will square off in the 2014 Croke Park Classic in Dublin this weekend, and to get in the spirit of the game, UCF has made a slight tweak to its helmet. To commemorate the special game, two Irish clovers and a pot of gold have been added to the Knights' helmets.

Playing in Ireland is a unique situation for both teams, and this was a cool way for UCF to pay tribute to the country.

[UCF Football, h/t Sports Illustrated]

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