NCAA Football

Every Big 12 Team's Strongest, Weakest Position Groups Heading into 2014 Season

With the spring season behind us, each Big 12 team knows its strengths and weaknesses. 

For example, Baylor may very well have the best quarterback in the country, but a gutted offensive line is a huge concern for head coach Art Briles. 

Let's checkout each Big 12 team's strongest and weakest positional unit heading into summer camp. 

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Top Schools for Each Uncommitted 2015 5-Star Defensive Recruit

Among the 34 5-star recruits in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, 16 defensive prospects remain uncommitted. College coaches from all over the nation are doing all they can to land them.

However, reading between the lines, one can get a solid feel for the top schools in each uncommitted 5-star defensive recruit's recruitment. At some point, these prospects will have to narrow their lists, and this piece could be a sneak preview.

A Pac-12 school could pluck a defensive end from the SEC, while a Big 12 program is looking to steal a defensive tackle from Alabama. Plus, several linebackers have multiple elite options.

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Best Fits for Top Uncommitted WR Recruits for 2015

The 2015 recruiting class is packed with premier wide receiver prospects who form an impressive list of playmakers ready to rise up in a growingly pass-centric sport.

Plenty of programs have already taken advantage of a deep group, collecting pledges from several outstanding pass-catchers. However, many of the marquee prospects remain uncommitted as their junior years come to a close.

We explored the current recruitment process for eight of America's most coveted receivers, peeking ahead to see which team might present an ideal fit in terms of offensive scheme and immediate need.

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Ohio State Football Recruiting: What QB Joe Burrow's Commitment Means for OSU

Ohio State finally added some offensive firepower to its 2015 recruiting class Tuesday, landing in-state quarterback Joe Burrow.

The 6'4", 205-pound passer became the first Buckeyes pledge in nearly four months when he announced his intentions on Twitter:

Burrow, a rising senior at Athens High School (The Plains, Ohio), is the first commitment to come on the offensive side of the football in Urban Meyer's latest class. He joins 4-star defensive backs Eric Glover-Williams (Canton, Ohio) and Jamel Dean (Cocoa, Florida) in a prospect haul that currently rates ninth among Big Ten Conference teams in 247Sports' composite team rankings.

The consensus 3-star recruit is listed at No. 10 among dual-threat recruits in this class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He was named Ohio's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2013, when he torched opponents for 3,732 yards and 47 touchdowns through the air.

Burrow displayed serious wheels throughout a dominant campaign that featured an unbeaten regular season. He rushed for 589 yards and nine scores, averaging nearly six yards per carry.

His prolific statistics pile on those from a sensational sophomore season to create impressive career numbers.

Burrow will begin his senior season ranked seventh all-time in state history when it comes to touchdown tosses, per USA Today. He provides the Buckeyes with a promising passer to build around after Meyer came up empty on top quarterback targets who made up their minds earlier in the cycle, including 4-star Penn State pledge Brandon Wimbush.

Ohio State ends a severe recruiting drought with the addition of Burrow. The team's last commitment occurred in February, when 4-star safety Ben Edwards (Jacksonville, Florida) joined the class.

However, he flipped his allegiances to Auburn in April.

The Buckeyes remain in the mix for 5-star quarterback Torrance Gibson (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), who listed Ohio State as his No. 4 option in an ordered top 15 list released last month. He is expected to trim that collection of favorites to seven teams this week, and it will be interesting to see if Burrow's commitment factors into Gibson's decision.

The Buckeyes now aim to surround Burrow with offensive talent in a class that still needs a lot of work. Five-star running back Damien Harris (Berea, Kentucky), 4-star offensive tackle Patrick Allen (Reisterstown, Maryland) and 4-star wide receiver Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Arizona) rank among Meyer's top targets moving forward.

The addition of Burrow is a long-awaited boost for the Buckeyes recruiting efforts and helps solidify quarterback depth in coming years. His offer sheet also included Boston College, West Virginia, Vanderbilt and Maryland, among others.

 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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USC Football: Will James Toland IV Be USC's Running Back Savior in 2015?

It wasn't so long ago that running back was perceived to be one of the deepest and strongest units for the 2014 Trojans.

And while that may still be the case this year, there are potential problems looming on the horizon in 2015 and perhaps beyond.

The trouble started when the school announced that sophomore running back Ty Isaac would be transferring closer to his Illinois home.

Though he is a very good back, in and of itself, USC could absorb his loss in a typical year when a focus could be made on replenishing the unit through this year's recruiting class.

However, as I wrote about not so long ago, this is not a strong year for high school running backs, and USC has not extended much in the way of offers to this position in 2014.

In fact, it would not be a surprise if the Trojans signed only one or perhaps did not sign any running backs in this class, and if this is the case, it could mean problems down the road.

Of course, I could be accused of doing my best impersonation of Chicken Little running around claiming the sky is falling when in reality, everything could work out just fine.

After all, USC has three outstanding running backs on scholarship in 2014, and not one of them is a senior.

Both Javorius "Buck" Allen and Tre Madden are redshirt juniors, and Justin Davis is only a sophomore, which means, in theory, that all could be back in 2015.

That is the best scenario for the Trojans, but what if everything goes to hell and both Allen and Madden declare for the NFL following this season?

That would leave Davisand a mystery running back recruit(s)as the only scholarship ball-carriers on USC's roster in 2015.

And that, my friend, is a scary thought for those who follow the men of Troy.

Still, things may not be quite as dire as they would appear.

USC will have one other option, and while his name might not be familiar to many, those who saw him in high school and even in the recently completed spring practice know him well.

Meet James Toland IV, and he might just wind up being the guy the Trojans turn to in 2015 when it comes to running the rock.

Though only a walk-on, Toland possesses scholarship ability.

At 6'0", 185 pounds, Toland is a quick, strong, elusive runner, and the only reason this kid wasn't a big-time recruit is because he played his ball at a small high school called Shadow Hills in Indio, California.

But man, did he play well, as evidenced by some truly eye-popping statistics in 2012, when he ran for 2,649 yards on 315 carries (8.4 yards per carry) andget this39 touchdowns.

I don't care if you're playing the little sisters of the poor; those are some big numbers.

According to The Desert Sun's Andrew L. John (courtesy of USA Today High School Sports), Toland had only one verbal offer (from Pittsburgh) when he decided to accept a preferred walk-on offer to join the Trojans.

For Toland, accepting the offer was a no-brainer, as John quotes him as saying, "I've been a USC fan since I was 8 years old. So this is a dream come true for me. I'm going to make the most of it."

So far, Toland has done just that, and when 2015 rolls around, USC may be very happy that he took the Trojans up on their offer.

Because if things go wrong next year, USC may be turning to the guy with big numbers from a small school.

And if Toland has his way, that may not be a bad thing after all.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: Will James Toland IV Be USC's Running Back Savior in 2015?

It wasn't so long ago that running back was perceived to be one of the deepest and strongest units for the 2014 Trojans. And while that may still be the case this year, there are potential problems looming on the horizon in 2015 and perhaps beyond...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Florida State Football: Early Game-by-Game Prediction for the 2014 Season

Florida State's 2014 schedule is without question tougher than the 2013 version. But will the result be the same?

FSU has bulked up its nonconference schedule, trading in the likes of Nevada, Idaho and Bethune-Cookman for Oklahoma State, The Citadel and Notre Dame (Florida remains a constant non-conference opponent).

A 12-0 record, a berth in the ACC championship game and a spot in the new College Football Playoff are the expectations of FSU fans. Are there roadblocks? Of course. But can the Seminoles go perfect in the regular season, especially with how the schedule is set up? Absolutely.

 

Oklahoma State, Aug. 30 (at Arlington, Texas)

This looked like a nice matchup to kick off the season, but FSU is a two-touchdown favorite against an Oklahoma State team that returns just nine starters and lost 29 seniors. The two-deep looks like Swiss cheese, and that's what FSU's offense will make of Oklahoma State's defense.

 

The Citadel, Sept. 6

This much we know: FSU will win, and The Citadel will receive a check for $440,000. This will be a good game for fans to enjoy watching FSU's backups, as No. 2 QB Sean Maguire will (likely) lead the offense in the second half and will have the chance to work with a deep corps of running backs and some young receivers.

 

Clemson, Sept. 20

FSU catches a few breaks with this game. The Seminoles not only get a bye week to prepare for Clemson, but they also face the Tigers without quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, both of whom are gone to the NFL. Note to ACC: realize that this is a better matchup later in the year, like mid-October or November. But a mid-September date really gives Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris very little time to get anything rolling, and FSU should grab its first ACC win.

 

at N.C. State, Sept. 27

FSU returns to the scene of its stunning 17-16 loss to N.C. State on Oct. 6, 2012. This game should be far different. While many of the FSU starters in that game have moved on, the reserves either played or were on the sidelines. They haven't forgotten. Jacoby Brissett has had a year to learn the offense, but he doesn't have much of a supporting cast—or a chance to upset the Seminoles.

 

Wake Forest, Oct. 4

Wake is starting over with a new coach, Dave Clawson, who will have to break in a new quarterback (Tanner Price has graduated) and will need to find him a No. 1 receiver after Michael Campanaro went off to the NFL. FSU won the last two games against Wake by a combined 111-3. This one could get ugly, too.

 

at Syracuse, Oct. 11

If there is a "sleeper" team to watch in 2014, give Syracuse the early nod, Athlon Sports says. The Orange return QB Terrel Hunt (10 passing TDs, seven rushing TDs), veterans on the offensive line and what should be an improved defense. FSU shredded Syracuse 59-3 last season at home, but this feels like a game where FSU could struggle early if it is looking ahead to the following week's showdown with Notre Dame.

 

Notre Dame, Oct. 18

This game is a wild card. In May, it's an intriguing matchup because Notre Dame returns dual-threat QB Everett Golson and plenty of talent at receiver and running back. But with just nine returning starters, the Irish could struggle, too. FSU will catch Notre Dame at the tail end of a very challenging four-game stretch (at Syracuse, vs. Stanford, vs. North Carolina, at FSU). Will Notre Dame be a top-10 team or a two-loss team when the Irish face FSU? It's just too hard to predict, but the Seminoles should win en route to a 7-0 start.

 

at Louisville, Oct. 30

Even without QB Teddy Bridgewater, new coach Bobby Petrino returns to Louisville and could put up a ton of points again. Petrino won 41 games at Louisville from 2003-06, and his Western Kentucky team aired it out for 5,502 yards in 2013. FSU shouldn't get too overconfident if, as expected, the Seminoles defeat Notre Dame. But a week off is again significant as FSU prepares for a Thursday night road game. The Seminoles have historically been sluggish on Thursday nights, but the Seminoles won 28-22 at Virginia Tech in Nov. 2012 and 38-7 at Boston College in Nov. 2011. Look for FSU's recent Thursday success to continue.

 

Virginia, Nov. 8

Is this the year that all of Mike London's recruiting success comes to fruition? It had better, or he could be on a scorching hot seat (or gone) by the time the teams face off. Virginia is just 6-18 the past two seasons. London has chosen sophomore QB Greyson Lambert to lead the offense after he threw for 220 yards and two TDs (along with two INTs) in the spring game. The Cavaliers need sophomore RB Taquan Mizzell to break out, but Virginia is overmatched against FSU.

 

at Miami, Nov. 15

Duke Johnson is in the backfield, and that's a concern for any defense. After hurting his ankle in a loss at FSU in November 2013, Johnson is expected to be back at 100 percent in August. But Miami has so many question marks. Will QB Ryan Williams make it back from a knee injury? Can Stacy Coley develop into an elite receiver? Is the defense, which returns LB Denzel Perryman, going to be better?  FSU fans would probably prefer to be facing Miami earlier in the year. If Williams returns and is effective, Miami could have some balance on offense to give the Seminoles a run for it.

 

Boston College, Nov. 22

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher wanted a nonconference cupcake in 2013 before Florida, and he was able to schedule Idaho. But the way the schedule worked out, FSU is facing what appears to be a weaker Boston College team before the Gators. BC loses RB Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams as well as QB Chase Rettig and WR Alex Amidon, who accounted for 1,032 of Rettig's 2,012 passing yards. But coach Steve Addazio landed a quality replacement for Rettig in Tyler Murphy, who graduated from Florida and is able to play for BC immediately. Murphy should do well, but BC needs to surround him with some pieces to make him successful. Still, look for the Seminoles to win this one comfortably.

 

Florida, Nov. 29

It simply can't get any worse than how 2013 finished for the Gators—a 4-8 season that concluded with eight straight losses, including a home defeat to FCS foe Georgia Southern and a 30-point blowout to FSU. Florida will surely be better in 2014 as new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper arrives from Duke. He has installed a spread offense that could play to QB Jeff Driskel's strengths. Florida has talented RBs in Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown, but the Gators need a young group of receivers featuring Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood and Chris Thompson to emerge. The Gators should put up more than the seven points they managed last year against the Seminoles, but Florida will struggle to stop FSU's dynamic offense.

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter.

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Texas A&M or Oregon: Where Will No. 1 Dual-Threat QB Kyler Murray Commit?

The No. 1 Dual-Threat QB of the 2015 class, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings, is set to announce his commitment. Kyler Murray from Allen, TX, will commit to either Oregon or Texas A&M on Wednesday. Murray has the skills to be a huge playmaker wherever he ends up. 

Going into Texas and landing Murray would be a huge get for the Oregon Ducks and their increasing national recruiting presence. If Murray chooses Texas A&M, expect the Johnny Manziel comparisons to come rolling in. 

Check out Michael Felder predict where Kyler Murray will play his college ball. 

 

Highlights courtesy XOS Digital. Recruiting rankings from 247 Sports Composite.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Penn State Football: Early Game-by-Game Prediction for the 2014 Season

We're less than 100(!) days away from the 2015 football season which Penn State will kick off in Ireland against UCF in the Croke Park Classic.

The Nittany Lions have managed to hold things together thus far amid crippling sanctions that have depleted the roster and left them with around 50 healthy scholarship players at times in 2013. The upcoming season could be the most difficult to navigate through but a third consecutive winning season would give fans something to be proud of.

Gone are Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska but they've been replaced by the likes of Michigan State and a couple new additions to the Big Ten.

The out-of-conference schedule gives Franklin a test in week one followed by some winnable games. Will the kinks be worked out by the time the Big Ten schedule gets going or will growing pains and a thin roster prove too much for the Big Ten's newest coach?

Here's a week-by-week breakdown of the Nittany Lions' 2014 season.

 

All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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