NCAA Football

Michigan Wolverines vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers Complete Game Preview

Michigan enters its opener determined to bounce back from last season’s 7-6 record and vanquish the ghosts of one the program’s most devastating defeats.

Date: Saturday, November 30, 2013

Time: Noon ET

Place: Michigan Stadium (109,901), Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Series vs. Appalachian State: Appalachian State leads 1-0

Television: ESPN2

Radio: Michigan IMG Sports Network

Spread: Michigan by 34.5, via


Last Meeting vs. Appalachian State: Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32.

Michigan entered the 2007 game ranked No. 5 in the nation but lost 34-32 in a stunning upset. The game ended the team’s national title hopes and knocked it out of the Top 25 rankings.

The first quarter ended with Michigan leading 14-7, but Appalachian State scored three second-quarter touchdowns to take a 28-17 lead into the half. Michigan battled back in the second half but failed on two two-point conversions and missed on two field-goal attempts, with the final one being blocked on the final play of the game.

The game is considered one of the greatest upsets in the history of college football.

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Texas A&M vs. South Carolina: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time, More

The SEC Network's debut game features two teams with much to prove in the wake of high-profile departures when the No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks play host to the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies.

For the visitors, a new era begins under center with Johnny Manziel out of the picture. Now in his third year with the school, coach Kevin Sumlin and his new-look offense will get a shot at a South Carolina defense hoping to replace a few notable starters, the highlight being Jadeveon Clowney.

There is a tad of bad blood to this one due to some schedule disagreements, but as ESPN Stats & Info points out, the general consensus seems to be that the higher-ranked team and host will come out on top:

Of course, anything can happen on the field, especially in the SEC. Below, let's take a look at all of the pertinent game info and a few storylines to monitor.


When: Thursday, August 28, 6 p.m. ET

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

Television: SEC Network

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 58
  • Spread: South Carolina (-13)


Team Injury Reports


Injury reports via USA Today.


What's at Stake

Everything. As in, the SEC.

It's a crossover contest, yes, but one that is going to set one team back in a major way in its respective division of the conference. This is especially the case in Steve Spurrier's mind, who took the time to take a parting shot at Thursday's opponent recently concerning its schedule crafting as of late, per Josh Kendall of

They haven’t played the bigger teams so their schedule has been a little misleading. 

I find it interesting that they quit playing Texas. They played Texas 115 years like we have played Clemson and then they left that Big 12 conference and both schools got mad at each other and said, ‘We aren’t going to play you anymore.’ It would be like us and Clemson saying we are not playing anymore. Our whole state would go crazy. The governor would get involved in that.

That's one way to get the blood boiling a bit between the two sides. The man has a point, though, as the Aggies will find it mightily difficult to recover from a loss this week. A nonconference slate that features Lamar, Rice and SMU won't do Sumlin and Co. any favors, especially with trips to Alabama and Auburn in the cards too.

South Carolina has an easier go of it, sans trips to Auburn, what should be a much better Florida team and a date with Clemson to close the season.

It's the matchup both teams wanted, but the one neither can afford to lose.


Boots to Fill

The big story is the absence of Johnny Football.

Manziel, who threw for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns to go with 759 more yards on the ground and nine scores last year—the year he didn't win the Heisman—is gone. In his place is sophomore Kenny Hill, he of 22 career pass attempts.

Hill beat out freshman Kyle Allen and is a dual-threat presence in the same vein as Manziel—traits quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital says won him the job.

"He's been here for a year, he's learned under Johnny Manziel so he understands how this offense operates," Spavital said, per's Sam Khan Jr. "He's more of an athletic guy. He has a pretty quick release, too."

Notice that none of this mentions the loss of wideout Mike Evans. It is an easy pill to swallow thanks to the presence of true freshman Speedy Noil, a game-breaking threat both on offense and special teams. Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman puts it best:

The biggest questions for the Gamecocks come on the defensive side of things, and not just because of Clowney's departure. 

Remember that starters Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton are also gone, meaning J.T. Surratt is the last man standing from last year's beef in the trenches. His ability to help along the younger players around him will have a ripple effect on the entire unit.

But don't pretend that the South Carolina offense does not have issues either. The unit is without the winningest quarterback in school history, Connor Shaw, not to mention the sure-handed Bruce Ellington.

The good news is that senior signal-caller Dylan Thompson has four years of experience in the offense and has shown flashes when asked to take the reins. Even better, Spurrier hints that the players believe in the familiar face, per William Gunter of 560 The Team: 

Whichever team can have more of a seamless transition on units that features new faces in prominent roles will likely emerge the victor.

If that sounds simple, that's because it is.



Expect Thursday to be the Mike Davis show.

No, rumblings about his health are not an issue. Just ask him:

Davis is a surefire Heisman contender this year just one season removed from taking a minimal 203 totes for 1,183 yards and 11 scores on a 5.8 per-carry average.

For as much talent as the Aggies tout, the young defense is not to the point where it will be able to handle that sort of efficiency in a proper manner. Furthermore, to rely on an inexperienced quarterback for production in his first start in a hostile environment is a risky endeavor.

Spurrier doesn't lose on Thursdays. The Gamecocks have won 18 straight and have some semblance of strong continuity on the offensive side of things. It won't get ugly, but Davis and Thompson will be able to get the job done to open the season. 

Prediction: Gamecocks 35, Aggies 28


Statistics courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.


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Predicting Top College Football Week 1 Performers

Remember the last time you had college football stats for lunch?

Yeah, that would have been eight months ago in January, when bowl season wrapped up and you were left with the tail end of the NFL season and basketball to keep you warm at night.

All that changes this week with 85 college games over six days, providing you with box-score palooza, just the kind of thing to make you feel alive as summer makes its last stand.

Now we can get back to saying, “Did you see that kid run for 200 yards on Saturday or that other guy run two picks back for touchdowns?”

With a load of mismatches slated for Week 1, the possibilities for stellar individual performances are literally endless, so we’ll limit the discussion to five potential leaders for each major statistical category.

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SEC Football Q&A: Would Georgia's D or Florida's O Be Bigger Turnaround?

Our long national nightmare is over. It's game week.

Week 1 of the college football season marks the beginning of the journey for several teams, and for others, it marks the end of the offseason phenomenon known as "universal hope."

Let's kick the regular season off in style with a game-week Q&A, which has moved to Tuesdays during the regular season.


@BarrettSallee What would be the biggest turn around? roper at UF or Pruitt at UGA? If both units succeed.

— John (@jnorris10000) August 14, 2014

They both are similar in the sense that they don't need "Malzahn-like" turnarounds for their teams to be successful. They just need to be adequate.

I'd say turning around Florida's offense would be a bigger turnaround for new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper than new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt turning around Georgia's defense.

Georgia's defense actually has a solid foundation. The Bulldogs finished sixth in the SEC in rush defense last year and showed flashes of being the kind of stifling defense that can lead the program to a championship. The front seven absolutely shut down LSU and Jeremy Hill to the tune of 77 rushing yards and were particularly stout in the first half. The majority of that front seven returns sans defensive end Garrison Smith.

Florida, on the other hand, didn't have much go right for it offensively last year. It finished last in the SEC in total offense (316.7 YPG), 12th in passing offense (170.9 YPG) and 13th in rushing offense (145.75 YPG). With running back Kelvin Taylor, dual-threat quarterback Jeff Driskel—who should thrive in Roper's no-huddle system—and wide receivers Demarcus Robinson and Andre Debose on the roster, the foundation is there. 

It's just more of an uphill climb in Gainesville.

With that said, both coordinators will find relatively instant success in their first years at their respective gigs. The personnel base is there for both coaches, and that should lead to, at the very least, adequate turnarounds.


@BarrettSallee is Georgia a legitimate contender without Ramik Wilson and Malcolm Mitchell?

— Sam Simpson (@samsimpson24) August 25, 2014

Since we neglected Georgia's defense in the previous question, we'll hit more on Pruitt's crew.

Ramik Wilson—the SEC's leading tackler from a year ago (133)—was not listed as the starter at "Mike" linebacker in Georgia's Week 1 game notes. Wilson had missed several practices this fall with what is reported to be a concussion, according to The Red & Black. Because of the injury, it's not terribly surprising that he's "behind," and I'd be floored if he isn't a big part of the game plan sooner rather than later.

If not, Georgia's front seven is still rather loaded, particularly at linebacker. Amarlo Herrera is fundamentally sound, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd is a star in the making, and "Jack" linebacker Jordan Jenkins is one of the most underrated defenders in the SEC.

Malcolm Mitchell's absence wouldn't be great, but if there's any spot on the roster where Georgia can absorb some injuries, it's at wide receiver. Mitchell had his knee scoped earlier this summer and missed virtually all of last season after tearing his ACL in the opener vs. Clemson.

In his stead, Chris Conley emerged as a star, Michael Bennett continued to prove that he's a reliable target, Justin Scott-Wesley should be back after sitting out the season opener with an ankle injury/possible suspension, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Reggie Davis and Jonathon Rumph certainly have the talent to provide mismatch opportunities when offensive coordinator Mike Bobo gets creative.

I don't believe Scott-Wesley's absence is long term, nor do I think Mitchell's is. Even if one or both are, Georgia will still be competitive. Those injuries just can't pile up like they did last year.


@BarrettSallee which running back is this years tre mason. Bound to break out and not really known... I nominate kelvin Taylor

— YepFB (@YepFB) August 25, 2014

This year's "Tre Mason" is the man who is replacing Tre Mason—Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne.

The senior split carries with Mason last year before Mason got hot down the stretch, and he still managed to rack up 610 yards and six touchdowns for the Tigers during their run to the SEC title. Now, Artis-Payne is the feature back, with quarterback Nick Marshall and speedster Corey Grant still in place to replicate last year's success.

That's exactly what will happen.

Mason was a great running back in a great system, and that great system is still in place. Head coach Gus Malzahn has produced 11 1,000-yard rushers in eight seasons as either a college head coach or assistant coach. It's no secret that Grant wants more of a responsibility, redshirt freshman Peyton Barber has potential and incoming freshman Roc Thomas has the makings of a superstar. That's just making Artis-Payne better.

"It's nice having those guys, they help push me to get better every day," he said earlier in fall camp, according to Charles Goldberg of "I don't really worry about competition; I'm just worried about getting better myself." 

No, it won't be easy to replace Mason. But at 5'11", 210 pounds, Artis-Payne has the size to be a force between the tackles, jets to be a home run hitter and is surprisingly shifty in space. I like Kelvin Taylor, too, but Artis-Payne is in a spot that's ready-made for instant ground success.


@BarrettSallee has Bo Wallace shown enough growth over last two seasons to lead Ole Miss to SECCG or will they depend more on defense?

— Ken Sanders (@kenosando) August 25, 2014

Both, really. But I don't think either will lead Ole Miss to the SEC Championship Game.

I picked Ole Miss to tie for third with LSU in the SEC West at 9-3 but lose the tiebreaker to LSU.

Quarterback Bo Wallace is a big reason why I'm picking the Rebels to have a good year. He's thrown 40 touchdown passes over the last two seasons with a bum shoulder that was never really allowed to heal properly due to Wallace's responsibilities as a runner between the tackles. Bigger backs Mark Dodson and Jordan Wilkins should take some of that off Wallace's plate with I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton still showing off the jets on the edge, which will allow Wallace to be more of a passer and less of a runner.

Ole Miss might have one of the most underrated defenses in the SEC this year, led by a remarkably deep and talented secondary. That secondary will get a huge boost from a full season of Robert Nkemdiche at defensive tackle and a healthy C.J. Johnson at defensive end.

Will that get Ole Miss over the hump and to the SEC Championship Game? No, because that's a big hump—especially for a team that's playing its first-ever game in the Georgia Dome on Thursday against Boise State. The Rebels will, however, be competitive in most (if not all) of their games, which is still a step forward for the program.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.


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Oklahoma vs. Louisiana Tech Complete Game Preview

With the season opener against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs only days away, it’s finally time to see whether or not the Oklahoma Sooners are deserving of all the preseason hype.

The pressure will certainly be on the boys from Norman, as they are ranked in the Top Five in both major polls. However, backed by an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in January, along with a stellar finish to the 2013 recruiting class, the Sooners have a lot to be confident about heading into 2014.

But as college football has taught us in the past, it only takes one game to change a team’s entire season.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s matchup.


Where: Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma

When: Saturday, August 30 at 7 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox Sports regional coverage

Live Stream:Sooner Sports

Listen:Sooner Sports Radio Network

Betting Line: Oklahoma (-38), per Vegas Insider

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UCLA Football: 4 Bold Predictions for Bruins' 2014 Season

The hype surrounding the UCLA football program hasn't been seen in quite some time. Jim Mora has completely transformed an average program into one squarely sitting in the hunt for both a conference and national championship. 

This upcoming season also gives signal-caller Brett Hundley a chance to cement his legacy as perhaps the best quarterback to ever play at UCLA. In order to enhance his profile, he'll need to take the next step in defeating top competition (such as Oregon or Stanford). 

Ranked as the No. 7 team in the initial poll, expectations are incredibly high. Anything short of a division title will be seen as a massive disappointment. 

This piece will look at four bold predictions heading into the 2014 season. These proclamations will be listed down from the most tame to the most outlandish. 

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UCLA Football: 4 Bold Predictions for Bruins' 2014 Season

The hype surrounding the UCLA football program hasn't been seen in quite some time. Jim Mora has completely transformed an average program into one squarely sitting in the hunt for both a conference and national championship...

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Pac-12 Football: Biggest 2014 Games with Playoff Implications

2014 marks the first year that Pac-12 teams will be aiming for the Rose Bowl not simply because of the glory a win in Pasadena provides, but because winning there on Jan. 1 will earn a spot in the national championship game.

The notion of the Rose Bowl as a springboard to something bigger is yet another sign that college football is in the middle of major changes, and fans everywhere are buzzing about the new four-team playoff that will determine the sport's champion.

The top four teams in the country will play for the trophy, but each program's resume will be under the microscope more than ever, and big games will weigh heavily in the mind of the selection committee, which has the ultimate say in which squads belong in the top tier.

It's likely that given the rise of the Pac-12 in recent years, the conference champion will have a spot in the playoff. Which games will have the most say in the race to be among the top four?

Here are five such games that will go a long way in determining which Pac-12 team(s), if any, will make it into the inaugural College Football Playoff.

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Pac-12 Football: Biggest 2014 Games with Playoff Implications

2014 marks the first year that Pac -12 teams will be aiming for the Rose Bowl not simply because of the glory a win in Pasadena provides, but because winning there on Jan. 1 will earn a spot in the national championship game...

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Florida State Football: 3 Stars Who Will Break Out in 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State’s 2014 football roster is littered with household names and national-awards candidates. But who are the ‘Noles the nation doesn’t yet know about who could soon make a mark on the college football world?

Jameis Winston, Roberto Aguayo and Jalen Ramsey were just unproven players a year ago before becoming stars and helping lead FSU to its third national championship.

If the Seminoles want to go wire to wire and win a fourth crown, DeMarcus Walker, Dalvin Cook and Nate Andrews could each soon generate their own star power and play integral roles in a title quest that starts Saturday in Arlington against Oklahoma State.

Even though Walker isn’t listed as a starter on the 3-4 defense two-deep depth chart released Monday afternoon by the Florida State Sports Information Office, the sophomore defensive end is technically viewed as a starter in a pass-rushing rotation that also features Mario Edwards, Jr. and Chris Casher.

“[Walker] had one of the best camps out of any player,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday in his first weekly press conference of the season. “[He’s] extremely quick, [his] weight was down just a hair, but his lean muscle mass went up quick, agility, power, consistency, I thought he had a tremendous [camp]. He’ll have a huge role for us. He’s like a starter right now—could start in two seconds.”

As a true freshman last year, Walker started in the opener at Pittsburgh before starting two more games and playing in 12 contests. He finished the season with 18 tackles and a sack.

Across the line of scrimmage, senior Karlos Williams is Florida State’s first-string tailback and considered by some to be a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate. But that doesn’t mean the true-freshman Cook can’t make a big impact in his first year.

A 5-star prospect and the No. 1 player in Florida in the 2014 class according to 247Sports, Cook enrolled early at Florida State but missed nearly all of spring practices after having shoulder surgery. Throughout fall camp, though, the 6'0", 200-pound rusher has shown no ill signs of the setback, instead looking every bit the elite, game-changing prospect FSU’s coaches expected him to be coming out of Miami Central High School.

Cook’s speed, balance, vision and strength have been on display throughout FSU’s practices. He entered camp No. 4 on the tailback depth chart but passed sophomore Ryan Green after the latter sustained a minor hamstring injury and has readily pushed redshirt sophomore Mario Pender for the No. 2 role. Entering the opener, both Cook and Pender are listed as co-No. 2 on the depth chart.

In the Seminoles’ final scrimmage before Oklahoma State game preparations began, Cook impressed the coaching staff.

“He looked really good,” Fisher said. “He made a lot of good plays and caught the ball…ran inside and outside. Very disciplined in his running. He read his cuts, understood the blocking schemes—where he wanted to be and how he wanted to be there and really took care of the football.”

No matter where Cook is positioned on the depth chart, he’s going to play and should make his mark; Fisher’s offenses traditionally feature multiple tailback at-bats, and the Seminoles’ could utilize a two-back formation that sees Cook in the game at the same time with Williams or Pender.

Cook is also in the mix for kick-return duties behind incumbents Williams and Kermit Whitfield.

As for Andrews, the true sophomore safety was often overlooked in 2013 while his classmate Ramsey drew national praise for his early value and importance to the defense. But the Fairhope, Ala. native was also a solid contributor as a rookie, playing in all 14 games and starting one.

Andrews actually led the ‘Noles with four interceptions despite playing in a secondary with Ramsey, future NFL draft picks Terrence Brooks and Lamarcus Joyner and perhaps college football’s best cornerback duo in P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby.

Andrews’ quick grasp of FSU’s defensive responsibilities made him a key part FSU's effectiveness on that side of the ball and helped him grab hold of Brooks’ vacated starting safety spot entering the 2014 season—despite the fact he missed spring practices with an injury.

“Nate is a really smart player,” redshirt junior linebacker linebacker Terrance Smith said at FSU’s medic day earlier this month. “He knows where he needs to be on each play to make an impact.”

On a team full of big names with big-play ability, Andrews—like Cook and Walker—could become one of the reigning champs’ best players in 2014.


Brandon Mellor is a Florida State writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow @BrandonMellor on Twitter.

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Tennessee Sends Recruit Shy Tuttle a Photoshopped Beyonce Cover

If you're trying to convince a recruit to come to your school, putting him next to one of the hottest female celebrities in the world can only help.

Five-star defensive tackle Shy Tuttle shared this Photoshopped Rolling Stone cover, where he is next to superstar recording artist Beyonce. The magazine spoof also includes why Mrs. Knowles-Carter thinks Tuttle belongs at Tennessee.

It appears the Vols may have upped the ante on recruiting tactics.

Will it work?

Only Shy knows.

[Shy Tuttle, h/t SB Nation]

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Clemson Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs Complete Game Preview

The stage is set in Athens, Georgia, for the Clemson Tigers to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday night. After what feels like an eternity leading up to the game, it’s time to completely break down the upcoming matchup. We will look at the keys to victory for both teams and also give a prediction for the game.

Dabo Swinney and the Tigers will look to pick up a big road win Saturday in Athens, but the Bulldogs will be aiming for revenge.

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William & Mary vs. Virginia Tech Complete Game Preview

The 2014 season is finally here for the Virginia Tech Hokies. No more talk about who will play quarterback this fall—that's settled for now with head coach Frank Beamer naming Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer the starter over the weekend—or how the Hokies will replace several defensive stalwarts.

This Saturday in Lane Stadium, the Hokies play host to the William & Mary Tribe. 

Surprisingly, these schools have somewhat of a rich history. The Hokies lead the all-time series, 40-18-4, but Beamer has only presided over one contest between the two teams—a 44-3 Hokies win in 2007. 

Both teams are coming off similar 2013 campaigns. The Tribe finished 7-5 last season but had some big wins over the likes of conference foes Delaware and New Hampshire. 

The Hokies finished 8-5 and had some disappointing losses to teams they'd previously dominated. 

Will Brewer prove the right selection for Beamer? Saturday is a bit of a warm-up for Tech as it heads to Ohio State in Week 2. But the Hokies better not overlook the Tribe.

  • When: Saturday, August 30, 2014
  • Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Time: 4 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN News
  • Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. Here is a complete list of stations by area. 
  • Spread: There is currently no spread for this game. 

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Carl Lawson Injury: Updates on Auburn Star's Knee and Return

When Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL on May 1, the hope was that he would return anytime during the 2014 campaign. With rehab reportedly going extremely well, though, the new goal is being pushed up. 

"It's been a remarkable rehab and recovery," defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said on SiriusXM's College Sports Today last week, via's Joel A. Erickson. "He's way ahead of schedule, but I would say half a season would be optimistic."

That's extremely optimistic. The halfway point of the season is Oct. 11 against Mississippi State or Oct. 25 against South Carolina, which would mark a recovery time of less than six months.

Still, Lawson is a physical specimen, and head coach Gus Malzahn has been equally encouraged. 

"Carl Lawson's coming on strong," he said Monday, via Erickson. "Obviously, you know, he's very motivated and all that, working very hard."

If the recovery is indeed moving at such a fast pace, that would be huge for the Tigers. Lawson is a fantastic talent who recorded four sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss as a freshman and was expected to take a big leap following the departure of Dee Ford. 

ESPN's Travis Haney and Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo praised the Georgia native:

With Gabe Wright, Montravius Adams, Cassanova McKinzy and others, the Tigers have players who can help generate a pass rush in the meantime. 

But getting Lawson back by October or November would provide Malzahn and Co. with a massive late-season boost. 

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5 Bold Predictions for the Georgia Bulldogs' 2014 Season

It’s game week for the Georgia Bulldogs, and fans are looking forward to what could be a very special 2014 season.

There will be some bumps in the road, but as long as the Bulldogs can overcome the obstacles thrown at them, they will have no issues reaching their goals. But the other thing that needs to happen is that certain players need to exceed expectations. They have to play above their ability if the Bulldogs want to win the SEC and the College Football Playoff. At the same time, the Bulldogs will have to have some luck on their side, which is very possible.

So here are five bold predictions for the Bulldogs this upcoming season.

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5 Bold Predictions for Nebraska's 2014 Season

The long wait is over, and Nebraska’s 2014 season is about to begin. As Nebraska prepares to face Florida Atlantic for this year’s lid-lifter, it’s time to get crazy and think about what might happen as the season unfolds. So here are five bold, but mostly plausible, predictions for the upcoming campaign.


Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from

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5 Bold Predictions for Michigan's 2014 Season

Michigan kicks off its season on Saturday looking to avenge 2007's 34-32 loss to Appalachian State—and to show the world of college football that it's a far better program than 2013's 7-6 record suggests. 

With Doug Nussmeier, the new offensive coordinator, the Wolverines are expected to revert to their former pro-style ways by attacking the ground and ruling the trenches. While at Alabama, Nussmeier had the backs and O-line to do such things. 

However, in Ann Arbor, he's inherited somewhat of a jigsaw puzzle up front and in the backfield. Getting those two position groups back on track will ultimately be goal No. 1 for Nussmeier, who, talent-wise, certainly has enough mammoths on the line and horses in the stable to produce a 1,000-yard rusher. 

With that being said, this slideshow will throw out a few predictions regarding Team 135's season. Hopefully a few stick to the wall. 

Are you ready for football? Saturday football?! 


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Josh Shaw Injury: Updates on USC Star's Ankles After Rescuing 7-Year-Old Nephew

University of Southern California defensive back Josh Shaw was meant to be one of the leaders on the 2014 Trojans team at the dawn of a new era for the program. However, a valiant effort to rescue his seven-year-old nephew resulted in two high ankle sprains, putting his status in question moving forward.

As reported by Jordan Moore of, Shaw leaped from a second-story balcony and onto the concrete to save his nephew from drowning in a pool. This incident occurred in Palmdale at a family gathering, hosted by Shaw's cousin.    

Despite the risk of perhaps putting the foreseeable future of his football career in jeopardy, Shaw stated that he didn't regret his actions.

"I would do it again for whatever kid it was, it did not have to be my nephew," said Shaw on Monday, per Moore's report. "My ankles really hurt, but I am lucky to be surrounded by the best trainers and doctors in the world. I am taking my rehab one day at a time, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible."'s Bryan Fischer felt Shaw was fortunate with regard to the severity of his diagnosis:

No matter how much time he spends on the field this season, Shaw's leadership and merited selection as a team captain ought to inspire the Trojans this season.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian weighed in on Shaw's selfless act, via Moore.

"That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside," Sarkisian said. "But that's the kind of person he is. It is unfortunate that he'll be sidelined for a while and we will miss his leadership and play, but I know he'll be working hard to get back on the field as soon as possible."

New York Giants linebacker and former Trojans player Devon Kennard praised Shaw, too:

Ryan Abraham of analyzed how Shaw's absence would impact the USC secondary:

Shaw's daring leap should go down as one of the best, most sentimental sports stories in recent memory.

It would have been nice for Sarkisian to have the talented, experienced fifth-year senior on the field to start his maiden season at the helm of the Trojans. However, Shaw made a most commendable sacrifice at the expense of altering his own life in a big way.

The cornerback position has seen USC pit many players in a heated competition, but it will indeed be on starter Kevon Seymour to help step up.

Unfortunately for Seymour, a junior, he was hospitalized for a stomach ailment, per the Los Angeles Times' Gary Klein. That will likely place the burden on redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins to pick up the slack in USC's secondary for the time being.

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Taj Griffin Injury: Updates on Oregon Commit's Knee and Return

Taj Griffin, future Oregon Duck and one of the best high school running backs in the nation, will miss his senior season after tearing his ACL.   

His father, Herb Griffin, confirmed the news to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Michael Carvell:

Yes, he’s going to be out for the year. The MRI came back and showed that he tore his ACL. But you know, he’s in positive spirits. He’s getting his mind right to go through rehab and to get his mind right for next level. That’s where we are right now.

You never want to see any player suffer such a serious injury, let alone one as talented and as young as the McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Georgia) star.  

247Sports' Justin Hopkins provided his thoughts:

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, the 4-star Griffin is the 39th-best recruit in the nation, the No. 1 overall all-purpose back and sixth-best player from Georgia. It's clearly a blow for his current team, which entered the year ranked No. 1 in the state, but it's also worth looking ahead to his collegiate career. 

Built perfectly for the fast-paced Oregon offense, the 5'10", 175-pound Griffin has blazing 4.35 wheels and knee-buckling elusiveness. ACL surgery is especially concerning for a player with this kind of speed and agility.

Fortunately for the Ducks, Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner and Royce Freeman should all still be in Eugene for the 2015 season, limiting the need to rush Griffin or even play him next season. 

While this is a really unfortunate blow for Griffin during his senior year, it shouldn't affect his future at Oregon.  

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Taj Griffin Injury: Updates on Oregon Commit's Knee and Return

Taj Griffin, future Oregon Duck and one of the best high school running backs in the nation, will miss his senior season after tearing his ACL...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...