Georgia looks to improve to 3-0 in SEC play on Saturday as the Tennessee Vols seek their first conference win.
Here's what you need to know:
Date: Saturday, Oct. 5
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Place: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
Radio: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network
Spread: Georgia by 10.5, via 5Dimes
The No. 19-ranked Michigan Wolverines (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten Conference) host the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-1,0-1 Big Ten Conference) in a battle on Saturday for the oldest trophy in college football, the Little Brown Jug.
The Wolverines are undefeated, but two narrow victories over Akron and UConn have caused them to slide in the national rankings.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 5
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Place: Michigan Stadium (109, 901), Ann Arbor, Mich.
Series vs. Minnesota: 72-24-3
Radio: Michigan IMG Sports
Spread: Michigan by 20.5 TheSpread.com
Live Stats: MGoBlue.com
Last Meeting vs. Minnesota: Michigan 35, Minnesota 13 (Nov. 3, 2012)
Behind a three-touchdown performance by first time-starting quarterback Devin Gardner, Michigan defeated Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium.
* Information according to University of Michigan Wolverine game notes
Ian Bunting is a 4-star tight end who committed to Michigan in April. He's a talented prospect, as his size and receiving skills make him a potentially dangerous weapon in the passing game.
Michigan's recruiting class is one of the best in the country, and Bunting is among the best players in the group. The tight end will become a beloved player at Michigan, as he has a bright future.
His potential, skill set and fit in Michigan's offense warrant a closer look.
Notre Dame's road to recovery from last week's 35-21 loss to Oklahoma runs through Dallas, where the Irish will meet Arizona State for the first time in 15 years.
While the loss to the Sooners didn't eliminate Notre Dame from BCS contention, head coach Brian Kelly and Co. have placed themselves in a position in which reeling off seven consecutive victories is necessary in order to earn an invitation to a BCS bowl game.
Accomplishing such a feat is unlikely, particularly with an explosive team like Arizona State being among the Irish's seven remaining foes.
The Sun Devils are riding high after an electric 62-41 victory against USC last week that cost Lane Kiffin his job.
Arizona State and head coach Todd Graham have the opportunity to play the role of eliminator this week, though in a different fashion this time around. Should the Sun Devils hand Notre Dame its third loss of the season, the plug would be pulled on the Irish's already frail BCS aspirations.
For now, here's what you need to know about Notre Dame's fifth annual Shamrock Series game.
Time: 7:30 p.m. EDT
Place: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Tex.)
Radio: Notre Dame IMG Radio Network
Spread: Arizona State by 5.5, per VegasInsider.com
For a guy that took Wisconsin football to three straight Rose Bowl games, Bret Bielema sure took a lot of heat in Madison.
With the Badgers continuously coming up short in late game situations, a brunt of the blame was placed on Bielema. It's on the coach to manage the clock efficiently, and when you lose as many close games as Wisconsin did last season, and the season before that, you better expect criticism to come your way as a head coach.
It's becoming an epidemic at Madison. Dating back to 2011, the Badgers are 3-11 in games decided by seven points or less.
Even still, Bielema did manage to maneuver his way around gut-wrenching losses and reach the Big Ten Football Championship Game the past two seasons. From there, Wisconsin found a way to punch its ticket to Pasadena, where the problem of falling just short reared its ugly head on the brightest of stages.
Bielema's demeanor on the sidelines and sudden inability to pull out competitive games snowballed as the hatred grew for Bielema in Wisconsin's fan base. He felt the heat as well as the cold, and even after winning a third consecutive B1G title, Bielema bolted for Arkansas after seven years at the helm.
Only here's the thing—the losing in close games remains in full effect at Wisconsin.
The new head coach for the Badgers, Gary Andersen, brings more passion to the sidelines and is a coach of the players and the fans. He comes off as confident but not arrogant; passionate but not irrational; someone who appears to have everything under control every step of the way.
But the Badgers have lost two of their first five games in 2013, with those losses coming by—you guessed it—seven points or less.
Those losses both came on the road against opponents that are currently ranked in the Top 25, so in fairness, these are games in which Wisconsin hasn't been embarrassed (unless you count the debacle that took place in Tempe, Ariz. in the wee hours of Sept. 15).
But Wisconsin considers itself to be a top-tier program, and top-tier programs need to come out on the right side of a close game more than 27 percent of the time. With Ohio State back to being a national powerhouse and eligible for the postseason, this season was the essential time for the Badgers to find a way in nail-biting finishes.
Instead, it's been mental lapses, especially against the Buckeyes, costing the Badgers in crucial situations. Say what you will about Joel Stave's kneel and subsequent setting down of the football against the Sun Devils, or Chris Borland's illegal formation penalty—it was Andersen's decision to run another play against Arizona State rather than be sure and kick the field goal.
And when a team has a combined 130 yards in penalties in two games, some of that blame has to fall on the coaching staff. If Bielema is going to be criticized for losing close ballgames, it’s only fair to look in Andersen’s direction as well.
We've established that Wisconsin's losses this season have come against quality competition, and mistakes, especially in crucial situations, have played the biggest role.
Last season, flux at the quarterback position as well as an un-Wisconsin-like offensive line contributed to long scoring droughts, periods of time where you'd expect a team like Wisconsin to at least score once or twice so that executing late becomes a luxury rather than a necessity.
In 2011, despite having the most talented quarterback in school history under center and weapons galore on offense, the defense conceded two Hail Mary passes in the waning moments of two different games, and then was completely lit up by Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl.
Imagine if the 2012 Wisconsin defense had been paired with the 2011 Wisconsin offense. We're talking about a National Championship contender, not just a Big Ten champion.
Each season it's been a different issue, and you can also certainly point to an inexperienced secondary and a subpar Wisconsin offensive line for putting the Badgers in difficult situations in 2013.
But it is what's been happening in those situations that is hard to put your finger on.
If you consider the freak occurrences that were the Badgers' two Hail Mary losses, the incompetence of the officials at Arizona State and the injury that occurred to Joel Stave last October, there are at least three instances where divine intervention has essentially taken victory away from Wisconsin in close games.
You would have to assume that Kyle French knocks home a 32-yard field goal (that's actually assuming quite a bit), and that Stave is able to perform slightly better than Curt Phillips against Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and/or Stanford last season. Then again, making assumptions in sports is always a dangerous proposition.
In the end, there is plenty of blame to go around, and all sorts of aspects need to be considered when trying to evaluate a team's failure to come through when it matters most.
People are beginning to care less about how it's happening and more about how much it's happening, waiting for the law of averages to kick in. The heartbreak Wisconsin and its fans have had to deal with over the past three seasons isn't beginning to get old—it's been old for quite a while now.
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The Virginia Tech Hokies host the North Carolina Tar Heels this Saturday in Blacksburg. The Hokies look to get revenge for last season's 48-34 loss to UNC in Chapel Hill.
In that game, the Tar Heels rushed for 339 yards, the most ever given up by a Bud Foster-coached defense. Giovani Bernard, who rushed for 262 yards in that game, is now in the NFL. The Tar Heels have just 520 yards rushing through four games in 2013.
VT is on a four-game winning streak after the Hokies defeated Georgia Tech in their ACC opener last week. Meanwhile, UNC is coming off an embarrassing 55-31 loss at home to East Carolina.
The Hokies are 4-1 on the year, 1-0 in the ACC. UNC is 1-3, 0-1 in the ACC. The teams have faced two common opponents thus far: East Carolina and Georgia Tech. The Hokies won both games, while the Tar Heels lost each game.
Virginia Tech leads the all-time series, 18-11-6. Amazingly, the schools have tied six times, with the last one occurring in 1946. Five of those ties were scoreless games. The two schools have played every season since the Hokies entered the ACC in 2004 with the Hokies winning seven of the nine meetings.
- When: Saturday, October 5, 2013
- Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA.
- Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ACC Network (Check here for local listings)
- Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. Here is a complete list of stations by area.
- Spread: The Hokies are currently a seven-point favorite.
Gurgling somewhere beneath the storylines of fired coaches, Heisman hopefuls and SEC dominance is the coming of major change in college football.
According to an Associated Press report posted on ESPN.com, a telling “packet” was distributed at a recent NCAA meeting of faculty athletic representatives from D-I programs.
The packet was entitled “Principles and Model for New Governance Structure” and—per the AP report—it suggested “that FBS institutions and conferences that are more closely aligned in issues and athletics resources form a new division.”
This is significant because rather than the concept of a split being insinuated by the commissioner of one of the “Big Five” conferences, or as part of the rumor mill, it was distributed in pamphlet-form by the NCAA.
Is splitting the FBS into subdivisions inevitable? Well, it’s hard to say.
What is clear is that a well-engineered separation offers advantages to programs on both sides of the dividing line.
One of the primary reasons the NCAA’s $2,000 stipend plan was overridden by 161 D-I schools in December of 2011 is that it created a further gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”
It’s simple: The schools that could afford to offer a stipend would enjoy a considerable advantage in recruiting over the schools that could not.
This same logic can be applied to a number of other advantages “big money” programs have over institutions which generate less cash flow.
To illustrate, the table below utilizes USA Today’s college finances database to provide the average athletic department revenue for each FBS conference in 2012.
A major component of revenue—ticket sales (which also measures fan interest)—is shown in the next table which lists average attendance (according to figures provided in ESPN's box scores) at conference games for each FBS league through Week 5 of the 2013 season.
The message is clear, it’s not about whether a line should be drawn between the big conferences and the smaller ones, because the line already exists.
According to an April 2013 article by Jon Solomon on AL.com, SEC commissioner Mike Slive stated that a split could be necessary to push the stipend legislation through the NCAA.
Obviously, if things like that don’t get accomplished, then it may be appropriate to talk about some alternative or division or something like that. But that’s not our desire. That’s not our goal and that’s not something we’re trying to get to.
Solving the stipend issue could also decrease the number of NCAA sanctions for players taking illegal money, cash which—according to athletes—is needed to meet their basic living expenses.
The split combined with a rule limiting “super-division” programs to one lower-division opponent per season could have significant scheduling consequences.
The main effect would be more level playing field in strength of schedule.
By reducing the number of teams in the super-division to 65 (programs from the 2014 ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and Notre Dame) and requiring them all to play each other, two things would happen.
First, teams would only get one true “cupcake” game per year from the new lower division, which would consist of programs from the non-BCS conferences (plus the American Athletic) as opposed to the FCS.
Next, former BCS—now super-division—programs such as Duke, Kansas, Indiana, Colorado and Kentucky would be flooded with requests for non-conference games.
To put this into today’s terms, teams in BCS conferences could only schedule a single non-BCS foe per season.
This would make Oregon’s 4-0 record (wins over FCS Nicholls St., Virginia, Tennessee and Cal) significantly more comparable to Ohio State’s 5-0 record (wins over Buffalo, San Diego State, Cal, Wisconsin and FCS Florida A&M).
This would be the case because—under the new rule—the Buckeyes would be required to replace two of their three lower-tier non-conference opponents with BCS—or super-division—foes.
Reduction in Bowl Games
In the current model, seven of the 30 non-BCS bowl games feature matchups between two teams hailing from non-“Big Five” conferences (American Athletic, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and independents other than Notre Dame).
Another 12 bowls pit a team from a Big Five conference with a team from a non-Big Five member.
The following table highlights the 11 bowl games which—according to FB Schedules—limit its bids to members of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC.
Splitting the FBS into two subdivisions would result in 19 of the existing bowl games going away. This would happen because each level would presumably handle its postseason exclusive of the other.
With only 11 non-BCS bowl games remaining to spread over the new 65-member super-division, only 34 percent would go bowling. This would be 13 percent less than the 47 percent of the FBS field which attends non-BCS bowls today.
The reduction would be an important step in restoring the prestige and attraction of the bowls that aren’t part of the new playoff scheme.
Equality for All
Consider this: What is the No. 1 goal for the Fresno State football program in 2013?
Is it to win more than 10 games for the first time since 2001, is it to capture its second consecutive Mountain West championship or is it to shock the world and make the BCS?
While it’s not known what is specifically included on coach Tim DeRuyter’s list of goals, it’s not likely that “win the national championship” appears.
Because, well, that’s just not going to happen.
The college football world has been programmed to accept the fate of Fresno State and other non-BCS programs, but it doesn’t make the reality of the situation any less unjust.
It’s like saying that, no matter how many games they win, the Jacksonville Jaguars can’t win the Super Bowl. Because, you know, the Jaguars are an “expansion team.” Yes, Jacksonville has an outside shot of playing in a postseason “showcase” game that doesn’t mean anything, but as far a title, no way.
It’s ludicrous to think of a coach—in any sport—addressing his/her troops at the beginning of a season by saying, “even if we win every single game, we can’t win the biggest championship in the division we play in.”
Though splitting the FBS into two divisions may seem to boost the “haves” while taking another unfair swipe at the “have-nots,” in reality it equals justice for the “medium” guy.
The kids who will play for the 61 non-Big Five conference programs in 2014 deserve the split, because they have just as much of a right to play for a national championship as do the athletes from Alabama, USC or Texas.
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Well, that's what we were to led to believe about the quarterbacks, and consequently, that's what we've thought for the past two seasons.
But it may not be entirely true.
Gardner fits the mold of a true pro-styler who can also move. Robinson, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, was a mobile threat forced into pocket passing. That didn't work. Using Gardner in the same manner as Robinson hasn't worked for Michigan, either.
Although he's the team's second-leading rusher with 49 carries for 301 yards and five touchdowns, Gardner isn't—let's repeat that—isn't a running quarterback, despite being classified as a dual-threat signal-caller.
It's possible that Rodriguez saw Gardner—who stands 6'4" and weighs 210 pounds—as a bigger and better version of Robinson, who was 6'0" on a good day and was nearly 15 pounds lighter than his successor.
Brady Hoke, now entering his third year as the Wolverines' head coach, has expressed the desire to move toward a pro-style set, something more suited for Gardner's skills. Offensive coordinator Al Borges, also in his third year at Michigan, has echoed similar thoughts.
However, to the fans' dismay, it seems as if the offense may slip back to Shoelace Mode. Borges said the following to reporters, according to MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner, about quarterbacks playing it as they go when things go awry.
Spoiler Alert: It sounds a lot like what was said about Robinson.
When the quarterback has to do something that doesn't fit the structure of the play, everybody has to know what to do when that happens, because it's going to happen every third play. I've talked to you guys before about the third pass play.
Great quarterbacks can create on the third pass play when there's a breakdown of protection, route's covered, or something like that.
Borges' statement makes sense. The intent here isn't to knock his plan, but to break down the meaning of his words in order to gain a further understanding of what could have been said in between the lines.
Great quarterbacks, obviously, find ways to make things happen—no doubt there. Gardner wasn't a celebrated dual-threat while in high school for no reason; he could scoot. But now, with an offensive line that boasts All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan and potential All-Big Ten right tackle Michael Schofield, there shouldn't be such a need to create on the fly.
It's supposed to be a pro-style offense with two backs and a tight end complementing the receivers. Everyone should be confident and comfortable in knowing that the bruisers up front will do their part, which is keeping Gardner safe in the pocket and allowing backs to flourish.
Thus far, neither has been the case.
Is 2013 The Second Coming of Denard? Michigan's plans say one thing, but its play on the field says another. It's evident that Borges and Hoke haven't fully let go of the Shoelace playbook.
Square Peg, Round Hole?
The more Gardner makes mistakes, the more he begins to look completely out of it when it comes to running the offense—which was supposed to be catered to his strengths and the strengths of those around him.
Michigan now has taller, faster and stronger receivers who can catch the deep ball. Gardner has the arm to deliver that deep ball. Jehu Chesson, a 6'3" freshman, has shown capable of becoming a deep-threat option. There's Devin Funchess, a 6'5" sophomore tight end, in the fold as well; he gives the offense choices.
So what gives?
In 2012, Gardner didn't shy away from going full-out airborne. In fact, he was among Big Ten leaders with an average of 9.68 yards per attempt. That's throwing in an effort to move chains and sustain drives. That's the pro-style offense—and he had less at receiver to work with.
This season, Gardner averages less than eight yards per attempt, although he's hovering near a 60 percent completion rate. He's thrown eight picks this year, but he threw five as Robinson's five-game reliever a year ago.
At first glance, Gardner's stats resemble Robinson's old lines. Don't believe it? Well, instead of crunching the numbers, take a look at a post from Gamedayr.com writer Ben Cornfield, who reveals just how similar the numbers are.
Here's a visual representation of them, just for kicks...
Player A is Gardner.
The fact Gardner is second in team rushing casts attention toward an ailing run game and an offense that needs a quarterback's feet to win. That was the case while Robinson headed Michigan. There wasn't a dominant running back to speak of, and Robinson supplied most of the power.
He had to be the hero.
But hold on one second. Gardner has the same problem. Hoke addressed that issue with reporters, via MLive.com's Baumgardner:
You've got guys are are multi-talented, and they've had a lot of success being—I don't want to say loose—but playing a little bit of sandlot football. But, when you play good teams, you can't do that.
It's really hard. There's a fine line. You'd rather try and tame a bucking bronco than an old mare, you know? That's kind of what you have to do.
And Michigan would be better off with a guy who has the skills to do it himself, but that shouldn't be necessary. At Inkster High, Gardner carved out a reputation as one of Michigan's premier preps. At that level, it's not uncommon for college-bound stars to essentially make a mockery of the competition. For Gardner, that was easy but probably not his intention.
He was just better than everyone else, due to no fault of his own. But he may have not envisioned taking on the same role in college. That could be part of the problem. Only he knows for sure.
A struggling offensive line has caused Gardner to reach for his cape. It worked during a 41-30 victory over Notre Dame, but his on-the-run style didn't do much for Michigan's 28-24 win over Akron and 24-21 edging of UConn.
He leads the FBS with 12 turnovers. Only eight teams—yes, eight teams—have more than Gardner.
Turnovers were also an issue for Robinson, who led the Big Ten with 15 picks in 2011 (sixth in NCAA) and 11 in 2010. He finished his career with an average of 7.3 yards per passing attempt, which is about what Gardner averages this season.
Gardner may not be The Next Denard—Michigan fans certainly nope not—but he's teetering awfully close to being tagged as such. In the midst of his first full season as starter, Gardner has been forced—both by himself and the staff—to revert to old habits. Once the Wolverines retool their offensive line and find a way to work two backs into the backfield, Gardner could make the leap to being a true pro-style quarterback.
But if adjustments aren't made, he might as well wear No. 16.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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Floyd of Rosedale went back home with the holders of the past year last weekend, as Iowa took down Minnesota in pretty dominant fashion.
That win told us a lot about the standing of the two competitors—Iowa proved its defense was stout and its offense had a true quarterback to lead the team, while Minnesota proved its performance on the ground a week before may have been a fluke.
The Golden Gophers went down a notch and Iowa crept into possible contender status. That's how important an opening weekend's results can be in a wide-open division.
As we enter the meat of conference football—only Wisconsin has a non-conference game left—there are a lot of questions left unanswered in one half of the Big Ten.
Except, it wasn't the half most thought would have questions at this point in time. Just a few weeks ago Michigan was going to run away with the Legends Division following its impressive win over Notre Dame.
Fast-forward a few weeks and now every team in the Legends division seems to have issues to sort out, so it's a good thing we're entering conference play, right?
Pretenders will be left to the side and contenders will rise to the top, or something like that.
However, this week will be perhaps the most telling week of the season for the Legends Division because it presents the clearest opportunity to date to get answers to the questions that have been bugging us and to finally cement a real sense of where the Legends division race will head in 2013.
We have two intra-divisional matchups and the prime-time matchup between a potential Legends Division front-runner and the clear leader of the Leaders Division on tap for Week 6.
Of course we are talking about Michigan State vs. Iowa, Minnesota vs. Michigan and Ohio State vs. Northwestern.
All three games have major questions surrounding the competitors and early on in conference play the narrative of the Legends Division has a real shot to cement itself.
For starters, let's take a look at the battle for the Little Brown Jug between Michigan and Minnesota.
Can Michigan bounce back from two lackluster performances against "lesser" opponents to close out non-conference play? Or will Minnesota bounce back from a bad performance last week and win the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 2005 and just the second time since 1987?
If the latter happens we know Michigan isn't ready for prime time and that Minnesota's hopes of taking a step forward could happen.
Head coach Jerry Kill admitted as much during this week's Big Ten coaches' teleconference.
You've got to have one of those significant wins, one of those ones that maybe you aren't supposed to be able to win and you pull off an upset. Everywhere I've been when we've turned programs around, there's been a defining moment.
Usually that defining moment is winning a game you're not supposed to or you upset somebody, so winning any of those games would be significant for our program.
On the flip side though, should Michigan win (and in decisive fashion) all will begin to heal in Wolverine Nation and Minnesota would be left with an 0-2 start and narrative of getting better but just not good enough yet.
See, pretender or contender—those are the options for these two teams following the battle for The Little Brown Jug.
In the other intra-divisional matchup, Michigan State seeks to answer the question of whether its offense can be effective enough to win them Big Ten games, while Iowa wonders if its young quarterback can lead the offense consistently enough against better defenses.
Should the Hawkeyes win at Kinnick you are looking at a 2-0 start to Big Ten play and a team that is just one win from bowl eligibility. It would also continue the steady rise in confidence, something they'll need with the three-game gauntlet of Ohio State, Northwestern and Wisconsin coming down the pipeline.
A loss would make competing for a division title very difficult with what Iowa faces moving forward.
For the Spartans, a win here would hopefully mean answers to the quarterback question that has plagued them all season so far. Add those answers to one of the top three defenses (and arguably the best) in the Big Ten and that's a winning formula.
Then there's the big prime-time game between Ohio State and Northwestern.
Leading up to this season there were a ton of questions as to whether or not the Wildcats had what it took as team to be a true contender.
So, what bigger spotlight to answer the critics than in Prime Time on ABC against the No. 4 team in the country, right? The Wildcats have perhaps the hardest task in front of them, but also the biggest stage to vault them to the top of the Legends Division hierarchy as well.
Of course the question is, can they get it done?
Add up all that happens on Saturday and the division with the most question marks heading into conference play could wind up with the clearest picture moving forward.
Sure, there are bigger games and bitter rivalries ahead, but without this week foundations for success or failure can't be laid and that makes winning this week hugely important for all five of these teams.
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained first hand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Andy on Twitter: @andycoppens.
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October is here as we're just three weeks away from the unveiling of the first official BCS standings. But with the simulated standings (compiled by BCS Guru), we already have a pretty good idea about the pecking order among the top teams.
The beginning of the conference season always means the pairing down of potential national contenders, though this early in the season a loss doesn't necessarily kill a team's chances. It happened to LSU last week, but the Tigers will have ample time to get back in the BCS race.
This week, we'll get a chance to find out a few surprising teams that made it through September unscathed. There are 20 teams that remain unbeaten, though that number is guaranteed to be reduced to no more than 17 as there are three matchups between undefeated teams this week. All three are among our Top 5 BCS Impact Games of the Week.
Rankings according to simulated BCS standings at BCSGuru.com.
The national championship picture is beginning to round into form entering Week 6 of the 2013 college football season, and in the recent AP poll, the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide still reign superior.
Head coach Nick Saban's team is a perfect 4-0 and look well on their way to returning to the BCS national title game, but there are other competitors that have gotten off to similarly strong starts.
Oregon is ranked second, receiving the remaining five first-place votes. The Ducks' high-octane offense hasn't let up since the NFL departure of ex-coach Chip Kelly.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Any notion of an upset last week to the Ole Miss Rebels was squashed by a smothering Crimson Tide defense, which shut out its SEC rivals 25-0.
The most difficult game remaining on Alabama's schedule falls on Nov. 9, when the current No. 10 LSU Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa.
Otherwise, there appears to be a great chance for the Tide to finish the regular season with a perfect record, considering the lack of ranked competition from here on out.
Quarterback AJ McCarron is having a lackluster campaign to date, but the senior's four-touchdown performance against Texas A&M saved Alabama in an early-season test. It should only get better for McCarron from here.
As long as sophomore RB T.J. Yeldon keeps averaging nearly 100 yards per contest, and the defense remains stout, the Tide are in great shape.
A stress-free test in Georgia State awaits at home in Week 6, where the Tide should roll to 5-0 with ease.
No. 2 Oregon Ducks
The up-tempo offense looks unstoppable, although it is worth noting that the Ducks haven't been too challenged to date.
Second-year starting signal-caller Marcus Mariota is the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, according to ESPN.com's list. Even an ankle injury to playmaker De'Anthony Thomas on the opening kickoff of last week's 55-16 drubbing of Cal shouldn't slow down the offensive onslaught.
Every time Mariota touches the ball, he's a threat. In addition to averaging 9.37 yards per pass attempt, he leads the country in yards per carry, per GoDucks.com's Rob Moseley:
Not only is Oregon first in the nation in rushing and second in points per game, but it also sports the fourth-ranked scoring defense.
A road trip to Colorado shouldn't provide much resistance, but it will be interesting to see how the Ducks respond in a road clash with Pac-12 foe Washington on Oct. 12.
Thereafter, a home showdown with 12th-ranked UCLA and a subsequent trip to No. 5 Stanford await. Those games should decide who emerges as the cream of the crop in the conference.
No. 3 Clemson Tigers
Among the top five teams that are undefeated, Clemson has to have the most impressive resume.
After beating Georgia to start the season, the Tigers survived on the road against ACC rival North Carolina State.
With a little extra time to prepare for this past Saturday's clash with Wake Forest, quarterback Tajh Boyd and Co. lit up the scoreboard in a 56-7 blowout.
Boyd and star wide receiver Sammy Watkins are forming an excellent combination to drive Clemson's passing game, which is complemented by a solid running game driven by the dual-threat Boyd and senior RB Roderick McDowell.
The Carrier Dome's hostile environment awaits the Tigers when they square off with the Syracuse Orange this weekend, but that adverse hurdle should be cleared to keep their national title hopes alive.
As long as Tigers defensive end Vic Beasley (six sacks in four games) can keep wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks and the offense keeps operating smoothly, Clemson has a great shot to run the table.
An enormous showdown looms on Oct. 19 in Death Valley, though, when the Florida State Seminoles and superstar QB Jameis Winston come to town.
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South Carolina and Kentucky play Saturday in what should amount to little more than a scrimmage for the Gamecocks.
A good scrimmage is exactly what South Carolina needs.
The Gamecocks have plenty of problems to iron out, primarily on defense and special teams, before embarking on a three-game road stand that will take them to Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri.
As for the Wildcats under first-year coach Mark Stoops, an upset on the road is probably a little much to ask for.
For that matter, Kentucky probably needs a good scrimmage more than the Gamecocks.
Who: Kentucky (1-3, 0-1 SEC) at South Carolina (3-1, 1-1 SEC)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
Series history: South Carolina leads 16-7-1
Cal Golden Bears head coach Sonny Dykes and Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach took long roads from Lexington, Ky. to the Pacific coast.
Dykes was a graduate assistant and tight end for the Kentucky Wildcats in 1997, the same year Leach joined the staff as offensive coordinator under visionary head coach Hal Mumme.
Dykes said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches teleconference his strategy then was simple: “Keep my mouth shut and learn as much as I could.”
The foundation elements that have gone in Dykes' current "Bear-Raid" offensive scheme were cultivated from those lessons, which also extended to his time as Leach's assistant at Texas Tech.
“Mike understands offensive football as well as anybody,” Dykes said.
Sixteen years and several stops after their shared time in Kentucky, the two meet in Berkeley, Calif. Saturday.
Dykes has implemented wrinkles to the offense to make it his own, which he pointed out is common for other products of the Mumme tree.
Leach runs what Dykes described as "the most pure version of the air raid," relying on an almost pass-exclusive approach.
Though no one will confuse Cal’s scheme for the Wishbone, the Golden Bears have rushed 167 times in four games. That’s right around the median in college football.
Washington State, conversely, has a national-low 90 rushes through five games. The “air” when describing Leach’s version of the air raid is no misnomer.
Both styles have produced impressive passing numbers early into the season.
Washington State is No. 14 in passing offense at 327.4 yards per game, and Cal is No. 4 with 371.8 an outing.
Their progression from assistants in Lexington, to colleagues in Lubbock and now competitors in the Pac-12 is a sign of the times in college football, Dykes said.
“That’s what’s interesting about our profession—you never know where you’re going to end up,” Dykes said.
Mike Riley Dismisses A USC Move
Oregon State Beavers head coach Mike Riley spent four seasons at USC as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, including during the Trojans’ 1995 Rose Bowl run.
Riley knows how to win the Pac-12 Conference, having routinely exceeded expectations at Oregon State in his split 13 seasons there.
So would Riley consider bringing his demonstrated winning methods back to Los Angeles?
"I’ve made it clear in the past, [the Oregon State coaching staff is] scratching and clawing to stay right here and continue to grow,” he said. “We’re right in the middle of the season…trying to get a lot of stuff done during this bye week.”
Oregon State is riding a four-game win streak into its idle week, which it will look to extend to five Oct. 12 against Washington State.
Riley is preoccupied with establishing the run game, a lacking facet of the otherwise explosive Beaver offense, and with getting the defensive front solidified.
His indication Tuesday suggests Riley is only thinking about the Trojans in the context of their Nov. 1 visit to meet Riley’s Oregon State team in Corvallis, Ore.
“[The head coaching vacancy at USC] is the furthest thing from my mind,” he said.
Colorado Buffaloes Coach Mike MacIntyre Pursues History Once More
Fifteen years ago this month, a young Mike MacIntyre was defensive coordinator for the 0-6 Temple Owls.
Temple had never won a road game in seven years as a member of the Big East Conference, yet went into the No. 14-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies’ Lane Stadium to win, 28-24.
MacIntyre referenced that landmark victory on Tuesday’s conference call in reference to Colorado’s Pac-12 Conference matchup Saturday against No. 2 Oregon.
Temple was a 35-point underdog on that day. Colorado is the same Saturday, per VegasInsider.com.
It isn’t technically the biggest upset in college football history—Stanford was a 38-point underdog when it beat USC in 2007—but a Buffs win Saturday at home might be a more shocking development.
The Ducks’ status as a 35-point favorite is generous to the Buffs, given Oregon’s two wins since Colorado joined the Pac-12 were by 43 and 56 points.
Of course, this Buff team has shown measured improvement from 2012. Colorado already has more wins than last season, and is playing with a renewed vigor that Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said is evident.
“On film you can see it,” he said on Tuesday’s conference call. “They’re just better.”
The Buffs need to be about six touchdowns better for MacIntyre to again be part of college football history.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.
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Nebraska's issues haven't been completely confined to the defensive side of the football, despite the spotlight that side of the ball has gotten, and now we may know why.
It appears that the pesky turf-toe injury has hit Huskers' star quarterback Taylor Martinez.
For a quarterback who is now the second leading active career rusher in FBS football, that injury and its nagging nature can be a major hindrance to success.
Don't believe me? Just look at the numbers for Martinez from healthy to the sideline.
Martinez went from 16 rushing attempts in Week 1 to 16 total over the next two weeks. He went from 80 yards in the opener against Wyoming to 34 yards against Southern Miss to -13 yards in the loss to UCLA.
All without a single rushing touchdown so far this season.
Clearly something wasn't right, and the numbers were equally downhill in the passing game, mainly because Martinez was forced to become more of a pocket passer with the toe injury.
Martinez went from completing 77.3 percent of his 22 passes against Wyoming to 65.2 percent of 23 attempts in Week 2, and finally just 60 percent of 35 attempts against UCLA.
It clearly was a slippery slope to the sidelines for the senior.
Luckily, after suffering through the injury for a week, Martinez got some much needed rest thanks to last week's bye.
Now the question is will Martinez be healthy enough to go this week?
He wasn't two weeks ago, and in his place was the duo of Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III.
The results of having a healthy quarterback (even if it was a two-headed monster) sure show what this offense could be capable of.
In the win over South Dakota State, Armstrong and Kellogg III led the Huskers offense to over 300 yards rushing and 300 yards passing for the first time in school history.
There is no doubt that playing Martinez, a dynamic playmaker and a senior with over 10,000 total yards to his name, gives Nebraska a great chance to win football games—but only if he's 100 percent healthy.
After that one performance by Armstrong and Kellogg III, head coach Bo Pelini has a lot of faith in the duo and it also has a lot to do with what is around those two.
"I have a lot of confidence in those younger guys, the young quarterbacks," said Pelini on the Big Ten coaches teleconference on Tuesday. "They don't have to do it by themselves. There is some talent around them, some guys that have experience and also guys that have confidence in what those guys can do. I think that they are both good football players."
With targets like Quincy Enunwa and Kenny Bell to get the ball into the pass game, and Ameer Abdullah behind them at running back, Nebraska's offense hums along pretty well with a fully mobile quarterback at their disposal.
Turf-toe can be a nasty, nagging injury and Taylor Martinez is likely to not be 100 percent at any point going forward, so watching to see how the numbers shape up should he play this week and in subsequent weeks will be very interesting.
If Martinez struggles to do what he does best, don't be surprised to see Pelini go to the backups to get the job done.
Let's not forget that Pelini is also squarely on the hot seat and it would behove him to do what will win him football games over satisfying the ego of one player.
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are firsthand. Follow Andy on Twitter for more of the B1G conversation.
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Nick Marshall has shown his Auburn coaches just about everything they could want to see and more out of a new quarterback.
Marshall has displayed flashes of brilliance in each of the Tigers' first four games of the season, whether it be with his playmaking ability on his feet, or through the air with his cannon of an arm.
In just a few short weeks, he has proven that he can make big plays, stay composed in key situations, and lead his team to victory—like he did on a commanding 88-yard, game-winning touchdown drive against Mississippi State in Week 3 with less than two minutes left on the game clock.
"He's much more confident; more comfortable," offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said of his quarterback on Sunday. "You could tell really after the drive against Mississippi State, for him and the team as a whole, that was a big boost, as it should be."
Marshall has helped reignite what was a stagnant Auburn offense during a 3-9 campaign in 2012. This season, the Tigers are off to a strong start at 3-1, and coaches and fans alike aren't sure what to expect on any given play when the explosive first-year starter is lined up behind center.
But that's the trouble. Marshall has played on both ends of the spectrum this young season—like when the junior started a despondent 6-of-16 for just 31 yards through the first half against LSU in Baton Rouge.
"He had a great week of practice before LSU," Lashlee said. "We just came out in the first half as a whole offense—it's easy to put it on one person—(but) we were very poor. We didn't give ourselves a chance to win."
Auburn and Marshall bounced back in the second half that night with a strong performance, but the 21-0 halftime hole proved to be too deep for the Tigers to climb out of on their way to a 35-21 loss.
But if—if—Auburn had played the way it did the second half for the entire 60 minutes of football, could the Tigers have knocked off heavily-favored LSU in Death Valley?
That's the question Marshall and his teammates had to chew on during Auburn's bye last week.
"I'd love for us to put four good quarters together, and to play disciplined," Lashlee said of his entire offensive unit—Marshall included. "Our guys, we've seen them do it. They know how to do it. It's just growing pains or the maturation process. We've got to get to the point this week where we can play the first quarter through the fourth quarter."
Ultimately, that's the key for Marshall and the Tigers going forward: to play better, more consistently.
At his best, Marshall is a legitimate threat as an SEC quarterback, seemingly just a few steps away from being able to compete head-to-head with the McCarrons, Manziels and Murrays of the league.
Indeed, Marshall's performance against Mississippi State stacks up well against almost any single-game performance by any SEC quarterback in league play this year. Marshall finished that night 23-of-34 for 339 yards and two touchdowns—including a game-winner in the corner of the end zone with 10 seconds left to play.
If Marshall threw for those kinds of numbers every single week, he'd sit atop the conference in yards per game, and in the upper echelon in completion percentage.
But those are huge "ifs." Marshall isn't throwing for 339 yards a game. Instead, subpar performances against Washington State and LSU have dragged his actual numbers down to 202.3 yards per game, with a 58.3 completion percentage on the year.
Still, it begs the question: How good could Marshall be if not for these inconsistencies?
Better yet: How can he and the Auburn coaching staff get past them?
It starts with Marshall's comfort level out on the field.
Taking a look at the first four games of the season, Marshall's production and efficiency spiked in the middle two—against Arkansas State and Mississippi State. One could easily understand why, too. The season opener against Washington State was the junior-college transfer's first SEC start at quarterback in front of a near-capacity Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd.
With those first-game jitters out of the way, Marshall became more efficient with the football in the second week of the season, and exploded to a season-best performance against Mississippi State in Week 3.
Things turned sour for Marshall once again versus LSU, as the quarterback faced another unnerving set of circumstances in his road debut at Tiger Stadium.
With that in mind, combining statistics from Weeks 2 and 3—both home games for Marshall with his first Division I start already under his belt—Marshall is 33-of-51 (64.7 percent) with 486 yards (243 yards per game), four touchdowns, and two interceptions in friendly confines.
Conversely, Marshall finished Weeks 1 and 4 a combined 27-of-52 (51.9 percent) with just 323 yards (161.5 yards per game), no touchdowns and two interceptions in his home and road debuts, respectively.
That could mean that Marshall will be back in his comfort zone once again this Saturday as the Tigers host Ole Miss. Still, that's only one part of the equation to having Marshall live up to his vast potential.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has said for years that he tailors his offense each season to the players he has—particularly at quarterback.
This season has been no different, as observers have seen a newly-tweaked Malzahn offense with Marshall at the helm, with the Tigers calling plays more conservatively through the first two games or so to ease in the first-year starter.
With his shifty feet and big-time arm, Marshall seems like a prototypical candidate to run the hurry-up, no-huddle—but, as Malzahn would be the first to say, there's a lot more to it than that when finding the fit between athlete and scheme.
Each different quarterback fits in Malzahn's offense a different way—and Malzahn has had eight different quarterbacks in his last eight seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator, counting Marshall.
Obviously, a key piece to the puzzles lies with how a quarterback operates when the offense is running up-tempo. Fortunately for Auburn, Marshall has handled the frantic pace with ease.
In fact, some of Marshall's best numbers this season have come when the Tigers are at their fastest.
Taking a data set of 31 of Auburn's offensive drives this season—excluding only a few series in which Auburn failed to gain a first down to get its up-tempo offense rolling—and finding a median drive which featured a play every 21.9 seconds, two ranges can be established.
These are the 16 "Fast Drives," in which the Tigers got off snaps every 21.9 seconds or faster, and 15 "Slow Drives," when the Tigers took longer than 21.9 seconds per snap.
Marshall excelled during the faster drives, when the offense was operating under a quick, hurry-up, no-huddle tempo.
Marshall scored each of his four touchdowns this season on frantic, fast-paced drives.
He also doubles his yards-per-completion efficiency when the Tigers attack defenses with pace, rolling up 18.6 yards per completion on the 16 faster drives as opposed to 9.7 in the remaining drives.
Marshall is at his best when he has the defense on its heels, and he has already proven that he's capable of keeping the offensive unit under control as it hustles to each new line of scrimmage. Now, going into the Ole Miss game on Saturday—with four games under Marshall's belt—the hurry-up should no longer be limited as it was in certain spots through the first couple of weeks this season.
There's one more statistical distinction in this same data set that points to another key to Marshall's on-the-field success.
Anyone watching any of Auburn's first four games can tell just how quick Marshall is on his feet, and what kind of an extra weapon that is for the Tigers offense. But looking at those same 31 series from this season, it's easy to quantify just how that ability affects his passing game.
Of those 31 drives this season in which Auburn has made at least one first down, Marshall has rushed for at least four yards 16 times. During those 16 series—in which Auburn makes a concerted effort to have Marshall run the football and force the defense to account for him on the ground—Marshall's passing efficiency sees a spike as a result, jumping to a 67.4 completion percentage from a 59.1 in the remaining drives.
Marshall also averages 15.1 yards per completion on drives in which the defense is thinking about his running ability, as opposed to 13.9 during drives that Marshall has rushed for less than four yards.
But while running the football is a key part of Marshall's game, his biggest weapon is undoubtedly his arm—and his arm strength.
At any given moment, Marshall can make something happen, with NFL-type arm strength and, suddenly, a go-to deep threat in sophomore receiver Sammie Coates.
If Marshall is going to take the next step to becoming an elite quarterback in the SEC, it's going to start with the tools that the recruiters found most impressive during his time at junior college in the first place; his deep ball.
Under Malzahn, he'll have plenty of opportunities to show it off.
Malzahn's offense may be best described as a downhill, run-first system, but it can get vertical at any moment off play-action and misdirection—which is perfect for Marshall and Coates.
It's an offense that breeds big-play opportunities—but one that also needs successes on some of those opportunities to stretch opposing defenses and keep the every-down offense running smoothly.
What's encouraging for Malzahn, Lashlee, and the rest of the coaching staff is that Marshall's big-play ability continues to improve.
Marshall has thrown seven completions for 20 or more yards this season. Marshall had no such plays in the opener against Washington State, and just one in the second game of the season against Arkansas State—but he came up with three of those explosive plays each against Mississippi State and LSU, the Tigers' two most recent outings.
Those seven big completions represent just 6.7 percent of Marshall's 103 pass attempts on the year—but those same seven plays account for 35.1 percent of his passing offense this season (284 of 809 yards).
What that means for opposing defenses is that any given play can go for big yardage when Marshall has the ball in his hands—which means opposing defenses have one more thing to think about after Marshall takes a couple of deep shots down the field each Saturday.
While big, home-run plays wouldn't seem like the obvious answer to solving Marshall's problems with consistency in the every-down game, if he keeps showing off the cannon he has attached to his shoulder—and if Coates keeps running under deep balls and bringing them down—defenses will be forced to respect that threat, and the Auburn offense will be able to take advantage of more underneath.
If Marshall can do that, and stretch the secondary, while pulling underneath defenders in with respect to his legs, all in Malzahn's full-speed no-huddle, suddenly things get a lot tougher on the defense—and a lot easier on Marshall.
At the end of the day, all the tools are there.
He just has to put them all together at once.
Justin Lee is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @byjustinlee. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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Oklahoma's 35-21 win over Notre Dame last Saturday was impressive from a big picture standpoint. It's a solid out-of-conference win on the road and by a comfortable margin. Despite two instances where the Irish pulled within a score, the game never really felt in doubt—at least not for long.
The Sooners got a great boost from three first-half interceptions by their defense. But if there was an area of concern coming out of that game, it was OU getting gashed a couple of times against the run.
The biggest run of the day came from Irish running back George Atkinson III, who went right up the middle before bouncing to his left at the second level and scampering 80 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
It was a well-executed play by Notre Dame. The line opened up a huge hole and Atkinson got a great second-level block from wide receiver Danny Smith. The rest was all Atkinson, though.
Earlier, in the first quarter, fellow Notre Dame running back Tarean Folston was able to sweep around the left side of the line for a 36-yard gain that would put the Irish at the 3-yard line. Overall, the Sooners did a decent job of containing big runs, but the Irish, who have not been a good running team this year, were able to tally 220 yards rushing and over 7.5 yards per carry.
In some ways, Atkinson's touchdown run looked similar to the one West Virginia running back Dreamius Smith scored against the Sooners in Week 2.
The primary difference is that OU had the Smith run defended well; they just didn't tackle him. While that's a separate problem in and of itself, the fact is OU's defense was in position to make a play on Smith.
That wasn't the case last Saturday on the two big runs from Atkinson and Folston.
Getting into the meat of Big 12 conference play, there could be some more instances down the road where big plays could inflict more damage against Oklahoma than it did last Saturday.
Though OU has owned Texas over the past few years, Longhorns running back Johnathan Gray could give the Sooners defense some problems. The sophomore looks like he's starting to blossom after his career day against Kansas State in Week 4.
What Gray provides is the combination of shiftiness and power that's tough to contain. He displayed both qualities against the Wildcats. He had a lot of success up the middle and on the perimeter.
But that may not even prove to be OU's biggest challenge. The Sooners are going to have to play their most disciplined defense on Nov. 7 when they travel to Baylor. The Bears are currently the fifth-best rushing team in the country with the best one-two running back combination in Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin.
Martin has been battling injuries lately, but he's a lethal, powerful option when healthy.
But what has to make OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops lose sleep at night is the reality he'll have to face, well, this:
Seastrunk is averaging a ridiculous 11 yards per carry at the moment. That's impossible to ignore no matter the competition.
Oklahoma's run defense is improved from a year ago, currently 41st nationally. But with some of the better rushing talent in the country still ahead, there's cause for worry about whether the Sooners will be able to contain it.
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Following a bye week for each team, the Hoosiers will host the Nittany Lions at home this Saturday to open conference play for both squads.
Penn State is coming off a one-sided 34-0 win over Kent State that saw the Nittany Lions rush for 287 yards in wet and rainy weather. They used the bye week to get guys like Kyle Carter and Mike Hull healthy for Big Ten play but will be without safety Ryan Keiser, who injured his hand against the Golden Flashes.
Indiana's most recent contest was a 45-28 home loss to Missouri in prime time. The Hoosiers amassed 475 total yards in the game but threw three interceptions and gave up 623 yards to Mizzou.
The Hoosiers (2-2) hope that the 17th time will be the charm as they failed to find victory over Penn State (3-1) in each of their first 16 contests. In last year's matchup, the Nittany Lions defeated Indiana by a score of 45-22 at Beaver Stadium.
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Place: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Penn State Network Affiliates
Spread: Penn State is a four-point favorite, per VegasInsider.com.
The jewel of the Texas A&M football team's 2013 recruiting class was Sealy, Texas wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones. Despite his season-ending knee injury, Seals-Jones will live up to his advance billing before he leaves Aggieland for the NFL.
Seals-Jones is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. At 6'6" and 240 pounds, he has tight end size but wide receiver speed. Seals-Jones is too big for a cornerback to cover and too fast for a safety or linebacker to match up with.
He made a name for himself in his first collegiate game with a 71-yard catch and run for a touchdown against Rice. Seals-Jones finished the game with three catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
The freshman receiver played against Alabama but was bothered by a knee injury. He had surgery and is expected to take a medical redshirt in 2013.
If Seals-Jones takes the medical redshirt, then he will have four more years of eligibility to play at A&M. A redshirt year would allow him to rehab and develop more as a receiver.
An Athlete In High School
Seals-Jones played multiple positions in high school. He played defensive end, wide receiver, quarterback and safety in football.
Seals-Jones was also a basketball star at Sealy High School who earned scholarship offers from LSU and Baylor. He played AAU basketball during the summer and was not able to focus on football year-round like a lot of other major recruits.
By playing multiple positions and multiple sports, Seals-Jones held himself back as a wide receiver. He was not able to learn all the nuances of the position that he would have had he only played wide receiver.
While getting injured and redshirting could be viewed as a setback, it will allow Seals-Jones to spend more time in the meeting rooms learning the game. It will give him another year to work on running routes and learning his place in the Texas A&M offense.
The Aggies practice at a very frenetic place so they can play fast during games. When you are a freshman who is learning a new position, it is very hard to keep up.
No one ever wants to be injured, but the redshirt year should help ease Seals-Jones' adjustment to the college game.
Replacement For Evans?
Texas A&M sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans is having an All-American season. He has caught 28 passes for 691 yards and five touchdowns in five games.
Evans is a third-year sophomore who is eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. He is on pace to have a 1,500-yard receiving year. If Evans continues his torrid pace, he may decide to declare early for the draft.
Since Evans' family has taken out a loan to pay for an insurance policy on him, logic dictates that they believe he has an NFL future. Aggie fans should not expect to see him in maroon and white in 2014.
The 6'5", 225-pound Evans is a physical mismatch for the defensive backs who cover him. He uses his superior size and strength to shield them from the ball.
Evans is the ideal player for Seals-Jones to emulate. He can learn a lot from how Evans plays the game all-out on every play.
Aggie fans have to hope that Seals-Jones is paying attention because he will likely be the player who replaces Evans at outside receiver in 2014.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has had great receivers everywhere he has been. Sumlin has had at least one 1,000-yard receiver in his offense every season that he has been head coach. He had a 1,000-yard receiver at Houston in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and at A&M in 2012.
It will be Seals-Jones turn in 2014. With his combination of size, speed and a year of experience in the Aggie system, Seals-Jones will be the focal point of the Aggies' passing game in 2014, and will put up numbers that will justify all of the hype he received coming out of high school.
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Former University of Texas running back Ricky Williams is now a part-time running backs coach at the University of Incarnate Word and spends a fair amount of his week living in the school's dorms. He may have the best set of sheets on campus.
Williams is open about his love of superheroes and says the Avengers comforter and Spiderman pillowcase came from the kids section of Target, where he realized he had to go when he remembered how small twin beds are.
You can read more about Williams' time in the dorms at USA Today's FTW.
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